Saturday, January 25, 2020

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Title: Princesses Behaving Badly
Author: Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
Genre:  Nonfiction

Synopsis: Real stories from history without the fairy-tale endings


My Thoughts

This awesome book was a gift I received for my 31st birthday, and it is so fun! The princess misbehaviors are broken into 7 categories that made me laugh aloud when I first read them; warriors, usurpers, schemers, survivors, partiers, floozies, and madwomen.
The princesses discussed are from all over the globe and from many different periods of time.  Each section starts with the legend and lore of each royal woman, then the facts are presented and the story as it most likely occurred based on fact is presented. I like that each bio begins with the name of the princess, the years of her life, and where the story takes place. 
 It is interesting to see how the culture of the time period and country of origin affect what was considered 'normal' princess behavior and what caused them to stand out and be remembered. It is amazing to see how events in each woman's life can become changed into legend over time by those who tell the story. The chapters also contain short princess profiles that fit into the category but whose stories weren't long enough to fill several pages.
If you like stories about unconventional women, princesses, and history then this book is for you! 


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.

To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

Title: Lady in the Lake
Author: Laura Lippman
Genre: Mystery 

Synopsis: It's Baltimore 1966 and  Madeline Morgenstern Schwartz, 37, questions the purpose of her life as her son heads off to college. Never seriously questioning her role as a homemaker before, a visit from an old schoolmate sparks Maddie's decision to leave her husband. When a young girl who attends the local synagogue goes missing, Maddie's mother, concerned more with the well-being of her daughter than the lost child, suggests that she join the search.  Maddie finds that helping the police leads her to a job at a local newspaper where she is ready to make a name for herself. When a woman turns up dead in a fountain and no one seems interested Maddie is determined to know more, but it seems that this woman doesn't want her murder to be solved.


My Thoughts

With Christmas and my birthday both at the end of December, I am excited to say that I have a whole stack of new books to read as we enter 2020. I received the Lady in the Lake as a Christmas gift from a dear friend who used the NPR book concierge to find me a book to my taste. 
It only took me 10 days to get through this one because it. was. awesome. You all know that I love when a story has a good twist and this one has just that. 
Maddie's character is predictable in all the right ways, but what really makes this story shine is the insight from the people she interacts with. When Maddie has a significant interaction with another character, the next chapter is told from the perspective of that character. He or she then describes the encounter from their point of view and provides insight into the story that only he or she can. Then the novel continues as a 3rd person account following Maddie.
Lady in the Lake has the perfect balance of identity crisis, struggles of women in the workforce and race relations in the 1960s, crime, and mystery. What's not to like?


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.

To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Monday, December 23, 2019

White Houses by Amy Bloom

Title: White Houses
Author: Amy Bloom
Genre: Historical Fiction


Synopsis: Franklin D. Roosevelt has just passed away and Elenor turns to her 'first friend' and estranged long-time lover Lorena Hickok for comfort. Over the course of four days, Lorena recounts her life, what led her to Elenor, and how their relationship changed her life. 

My Thoughts

The first thing I thought when I picked up this book of the shelf at the library was, 'this isn't a very long book.' Then again, I had just come off of over 500 pages of medieval writing about knights, so anything less than 400 pages seemed short.  After reading it I have decided it is the perfect length. Nothing is worse than a novel that is 100 pages longer than necessary that is always such a disappointment. Bloom wraps this story up so nicely. The reader feels like you have all the facts but it isn't overly wordy. It is perfect.
I love the way that it is broken into 4 parts and that each chapter begins by telling the reader the date and time like a diary. The chapter begins with what is happening at that moment and then Lorena usually relates the present back to a time in her past. It is really well done.
Bloom has a way of highlighting the qualities and complexities of relationships beautifully. At the end, I may have even shed a tear.
If you are looking for something that is quick and impactful read, this book is for you.

To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Le Morte d' Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory adapted by Keith Baines

Title: Le Morte d' Arthur 
Author: Sir Thomas Malory, adapted by Keith Baines
Genre: Fiction


Synopsis: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table, first written in English by Sir Thomas Malory and published in 1485. This is a translation by Keith Baines into modern English. 


My Thoughts


I decided I wanted to read this book while I was reading The Lost Book of the Grail by Charlie Lovett. The protagonist in the novel referred to it constantly as his inspiration for studying history and his obsession with the holy grail. With that kind of recommendation I figured I couldn't go wrong. Plus the idea of reading something written in the 15th century really appealed to me and my love of history.
Unfortunately, this book was not all I had hoped it would be. Sure, it is about King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table but to the modern reader, it is not written in a way that captivates the mind or endears one to the characters. It is very much like: 'This knight goes off, he meets another knight, neither will say who they are, they joust, one is wounded. They then realize they are actually good friends who didn't recognize one another, they weep and embrace, they swear to never fight one another again.' 
That happens over and over again for 500 pages. It is boring, mistaken identity must have been such a hilarious joke at the time but it is tired in 2019. In addition, any time a woman is encountered she is either a damsel in distress, a paramour, or an evil sorcerous. This is a nice reminder that it was not ideal to be a woman in the middle ages. 
All in all, I am glad I can add it to the list of things I have read but it's not one I would recommend for pleasure reading. 

To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

Title: The Summer Wives
Author: Beatriz Williams
Genre: Fiction

Other books I've read by this author: A Certain Age, The Wicked City

Synopsis: 18-year-old Miranda Schuyler is spending the summer of 1951 on Winthrop Island following her mother's wedding to Hugh Fischer. She spends the summer getting to know the island with her new step-sister Isobel, who was only a year ahead of her at school. Miranda learns quickly that there are some barriers between the locals who live on the island year-round and the 'Families' who are only there for the summer. After witnessing a young lobsterman, Joseph Vargas, save a fellow sailor from drowning nothing will be the same for Miranda that summer. 


My Thoughts

This book is full of mystery, scandal, love, and the divide between socioeconomic classes. Williams has a way of conveying raw emotions and making the reader feel every one of them. It is a classic beach read that I happened to read in the winter. If you are taking a trip over the holidays this would be a great book to take with you. 
I like that the novel skips around to different character perspectives and different time periods in different sections to give the reader a full view of the story. I also enjoy that it is a murder mystery but also a coming of age story culminating in a storyline where the teenaged protagonists return to the island as adults nearing 40.  The suspense will cause you to read for much longer than you intended or even realize. I looked at the clock after what seemed like 45 min of reading and it had actually been 2 hours! 

Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!




To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

Title: China Rich Girlfriend
Author: Kevin Kwan
Genre: Fiction

Other books I've read by this author: Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend

Synopsis: Nick Young's grandmother, Su Yi, is on her death bed and everyone is speculating about who will inherit the fabulous family home, Tyersall Park in Singapore. All her children and grandchildren arrive with their families to say goodbye and some try one last attempt to curry favor with Su Yi. What will happen to Tyersall Park? What did Su Yi leave in her will? What did she intend? 


My Thoughts

Another fun and exciting read from Kevin Kwan. The way he puts unexpected twists into the story is so unique. When you read a series by an author you begin to know how they work. In this novel, there were portions where the reader would think, 'this can't really be what the author wants me to believe is happening, he is never that predictable.' And then you keep reading for a while and then you start to believe that maybe that the predictable event is actually happening.
 Then BOOM! SURPRISE TWIST. 
I personally then become annoyed with myself for letting my guard down and believing that Kwan would really be that predictable. It is frustrating and also endearing at the same time. 
If you liked the first two, you will love this one. As the last novel in the series, it wraps up nicely. This series is just so fun.* 

Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!



*Plus, I love the asterisk asides that give details into the rich Asian cultures portrayed in the books.



To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above

Friday, October 18, 2019

House of Gold by Natasha Solomons

Title: The House of Gold
Author: Natasha Solomons
Genre: Historical Fiction


Synopsis: The Goldbaum family has banks across Europe and Greta, of the Austrian House of Goldbaum is engaged to marry her cousin Albert, of the English branch of the family, whom she hasn't met. Getting used to a new home, in a new country, with a new husband is challenging and then with the outbreak of World War I, she has to find the balance between her Austrian family and her new English one.

My Thoughts

Often times books that I read in this genre have characters who fit the stereotypes of the time period. They either follow all the rules to the t, or they are rebelling against the rules of society in a manner that is a little larger than life. 
This novel is a beautiful exception. The characters in this novel are amazingly and surprisingly human. Solomons expresses the inner-most feelings of her characters in a way that makes them incredibly relatable. Though they are mostly affluent Jewish men and women living 100 years ago their relationship dynamics are ordinary and feel so fresh. It is just so honest.
I really loved reading this book, I look forward to reading other novels by this author.



Comment below if you have read this book or have suggestions for others like it!


To buy this book from Amazon now, click on the image at the top of the post.
To see more from the author, visit the website linked above