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Being Henry David
Being Henry David
Price: $6.15

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one is a keeper, October 21, 2013
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This review is from: Being Henry David (Kindle Edition)
I almost didn't buy this book. I found it on the Kindle Daily Deals at a reduced price, and I looked at the tiny picture of the cover and hesitated before reading the description. I read a lot of books, and I'm right in the middle of reading a wonderful science fiction series. I wasn't sure I wanted to take on another obligation, so to speak. (When I borrow a book, I feel the obligation to take good care of it. When I purchase a book, I feel the need to read at least the first fifty pages in a timely fashion.)

So I put aside the science fiction story (I was between battles, anyway) and started reading Being Henry David. Wow. I know that's not a descriptive term, but it's an accurate one when it comes to describing this novel. I love the main character. Henry David (aka Hank) is believable, likable, and I found myself rooting for him within five minutes of reading the story. I can't tell you more about Hank in this review, because exploring the mystery of the character is a good part of what makes this book work so well.

The other part is just the fact that this is a well written novel. It falls under that description of books which make you keep turning the page, because you have to know what happens next. Hank is a typical guy in an atypical situation. And despite the male main character, this is not just a 'guy' book which only appeals to male readers. Anyone (of any age, because I'm not a young adult) can fall in love with the main character and his story.

If you are a young adult or the parent of one, be advised that there is some violence (described and implied) in the book. It's not the focus of the book, but it is part of several scenes and and used as such to set up the very real dangers inherent in Hank's life. You should also know if you are a young adult that there are a lot of references to Henry David Thoreau, but - save for one scene - it's not done to the extent that you'll feel that this is something educational trying to sneak into something that's just good fun to read.

I give this book five stars. I would have paid full price for this one. It's going to stay on my Kindle.


The Painted Girls: A Novel
The Painted Girls: A Novel
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't stop with the first two chapters - keep reading, April 10, 2013
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I have read many reviews of other books where readers dislike first person narrative. I happen to adore first person narrative for telling a story, but not when it's written in the present tense. So I will confess that when I first started reading this book which is written in the first person, present tense, I felt like I'd made a huge mistake. Having paid for the book, though, I kept reading, and let me explain now why I am glad that I did.

I won't repeat the storyline as other reviewers have done a fine job highlighting what happens within the pages of the book. Let me just say that the author took a slice of reality and made it accessible to a modern audience. In an age where we throw out copious amounts of items deemed to be junk, even scraps of cloth and burned loaves of bread have huge value in the world of these characters. And yes, with this much poverty taking center stage, there are some very heartbreaking and sad moments within the story. What made me glad that I finished the book, though, was the fact that the author also does a lovely job of showing the promise of tomorrow in the last few pages. Love saves the day, even if it's not in the way that the reader might first imagine.

One other note - I do agree with the reviewer who said to do an online search for the Degas statue upon which much of the story is based. It will give the reader a better understanding of the climax of Marie's story when the statue is finally put on display.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A Novel (Random House Movie Tie-In Books)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: A Novel (Random House Movie Tie-In Books)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.22

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars If you loved the movie, don't read the book unless..., April 8, 2013
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This review isn't so much about the writing of the book as it is about the difference between the book and the movie of the same name. As several other reviewers have stated, they watched the movie and then read the book hoping to find more of the untold story lines behind the characters. In this particular case, that isn't going to happen for the reader. If you want to hold onto the enchanting, feel good message of the movie, then do not open the book.

The book itself is well written with loads of characters who are quite unique in their own right. Having said that, I found the book to be horribly depressing. Now from the number of positive reviews for the book, you'll see that I have a minority opinion. If you enjoyed reading The Lovely Bones or The Kite Runner, you may also find this perspective on the meaning of life to be equally enjoyable. I just don't care for such a depressing message in a book when I'm not expecting it to be that emotionally and spiritually draining.

Anyway, it's a well done book. It's just not the story line for the movie of the same name. If I had realized that ahead of time (and read the reviews before I hit the buy button), I might not have purchased this book. Hopefully your experience of the story line will be a more positive one. Obviously quite a few people managed to read this same book and come out with a happy conclusion. I'm just relating my own reading experience.


The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great historical detail, needed more fictional content, January 15, 2013
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First of all, let me say that I DID enjoy learning more about Isabella of Castille. The author made the historical content of this work easy to read and absorb. I went into the book knowing only the barest facts of this period in Spanish history. I now feel much better informed and far more appreciative of that entire era from the viewpoint of Castile and Aragon.

Having said that, I don't feel that I was able to connect with Isabella of Castille. It's not possible to like every main character, but I wanted to be able to understand her and find something in this person which prompted my need to care about what happened to her. I was almost there several times, but I could never quite get a handle on Isabella's motivations which often felt flat. Perhaps that is how she really was, but that flat feeling was at odds with the dynamic woman who was otherwise described in the pages of the novel.

I would read another book by this author, and again, I think she writes quite well. I just felt that in this book there were too many battles described in too much detail with too many names. It made it difficult to read this as a novel, but as I said in the first paragraph, this was my first real foray into this period of Spanish history. A second book set during this time or thereafter would feel much more familiar by comparison, and perhaps that would make it easier for me to develop a feeling of connection with the main characters.


Girl in Hyacinth Blue (RosettaBooks into Film)
Girl in Hyacinth Blue (RosettaBooks into Film)
Price: $2.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Magical premise which didn't always live up to the promise, January 14, 2013
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Despite the three-star review, I am not implying that this book is bad or poorly written. This is an author who writes well. The reason behind the three stars was the format of the story. It starts in the present tense and goes backward through history. It's a beautiful way to tell the story of the painting and its journey through time, but I found myself losing interest as the book continued farther into the past. Events that I might have enjoyed reading earlier in the story seemed to lose meaning as I turned more pages. While I understand the reason behind telling the story behind each owner of the picture, I kept wanting the make it full circle and return to the present day characters.

The ending isn't as sad as some novels I've read, but the book left me with a depressing perspective. Not every book has to have a happy ending, and in a sense the ending of the book was really the beginning of the painting's story. Still, the ending left me feeling dissatisfied with both the characters and the time I'd invested in reading their stories.


Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance (Poisoner Mysteries)
Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance (Poisoner Mysteries)
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $8.89

5.0 out of 5 stars 100% Winner for Great First Novel in a Series, May 27, 2012
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I took a chance on this book because I love reading historical novels. What an amazing surprise! I absolutely loved this novel from start to finish, well - okay, I thought the first chapter made for a slow beginning. After that first chapter ended, and I turned the next page, then I was completely hooked. I stayed up several nights in a row reading this by a book light, just because i didn't have enough time during the day to indulge me need to find out what happened next.

I have read the reviews from other readers, so I won't retell the story again. I just want to say that if you're a fan of first-person narratives, you may very well love this book as much as I did. I felt as if I really got inside Francesca's head and could understand what she was doing and why. I loved the supporting cast for the storyline, and I adored the many twists within the plot that kept things from falling into a predictable rut.

I also have to say that this book did what I feel very few historical novels successfully do. This book took a female character and believable put her into a role where she had some status and some limited form of independence in a world where there were primarily masters and servants. Francesca is still a servant at the end of the day, but in such a way that I can believe that a woman could have fulfilled this role at this point in history.

I could say that I'm waiting to read the next novel, but I had to go and read the next two novels before I came to post this review. Yes, if you loved this book, there's more to come! I'm now anxiously awaiting the fourth novel in this series, and I'm thrilled that I found a new author with a series that makes me want more.


When a Duke Says I Do (Lords and Ladies Series)
When a Duke Says I Do (Lords and Ladies Series)
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful surprise!, March 28, 2012
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I caught this book for $1.00 through a special Kindle offer. Am I ever glad that I did! Not only did the plot and characters turn out to be a delightful surprise, I also have a new author to follow as well!

I confess that I am a closet romance reader. I love the happily ever after endings which traditional romance novels provide. I also prefer romance novels where the plot has unexpected directions and the characters are three dimensional. I thought that both Alexander and Elsie were well developed characters with assets and flaws. The supporting cast is also well developed. Rather than being side players, they add to the telling of the overall story. This was a book I couldn't wait to finish, because I had to see what happened next. Then on the last page, I was sorry that story had ended.

The story is well paced and heartbreaking in places, but since it IS a romance novel, the ending is one with which I can happily live. I can't wait to track down some more of this author's books.

Technical note: The book received 4 stars rather than 5 because of a series of typos that I found about three-quarters of the way through the novel. While this didn't ruin the story for me, it did take me off guard as the book had been exceptionally well edited prior to that point. Also, for the Kindle format, I think that the acknowledgments page might be better suited for the end of the book rather than the beginning since the Kindle edition starts reading on Chapter 1. I realize that the acknowledgement page is where the author is saying thank you to people, but in this case her notes also include a bit of information regarding selective mutism which is a key point in this story.


Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel
Prisoners in the Palace: How Princess Victoria became Queen with the Help of Her Maid, a Reporter, and a Scoundrel
Price: $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Prisoners in the Palace: Light, but fun to read, March 19, 2012
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When I say this novel is light, I don't mean to say that it's not well written. The book very gracefully describes the historical period during which the story takes place. It deals with the realities of that era in which there existed vast differences between those with money and position and those without status and means. The main reason that I'm calling the book a light read was because some parts seemed very realistic while others seemed a little too convenient for the main character and her story.

Without spoiling the details of the book, the main character is Liza, the maid in the title of the novel. Princess Victoria is a principle player. Her struggle to reach the throne is a major part of the overall narrative, but Liza is definitely the focus of the book. I quite enjoyed the depiction of Queen Victoria as a young woman. I haven't read that much about her life before she took the throne, and I confess that a well written novel can do a lot to spark my interest in delving further into the history of an era and its people. I now find myself wanting to read more about the historical Princess Victoria and her early years.

As other reviewers have mentioned, there are references in the book to what could happen to female servants when the men of the household forced themselves upon the woman. The scenes are tactfully done without sacrificing the accuracy of events. Nothing of a graphic nature is portrayed, and these scenes underscore a very real problem for the women of that era. There are also references in the book to the sudden loss of parents, to murder, and to suicide. Again, the events are portrayed with sensitivity and good writing. I'm just mentioning it for those parents who might find the need to know ahead of time about what can be sensitive subjects. I feel perfectly comfortable recommending this novel for any child who likes history, adventure, and intrigue, age 12 and up.


A Dose of Reality (Romantic Suspense)
A Dose of Reality (Romantic Suspense)
Price: $2.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Awesome premise, but..., March 5, 2012
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I desperately wanted to love this book as much as the other people who have given it such glowing reviews. I absolutely adored the premise of the novel. Mysterious packages, cryptic phone messages, a hint of romance - what's not to love? Right?

In spite of those plusses, I felt that the storyline and its characters never quite fulfilled their promise. I had a difficult time believing that people who had grown up with that much wealth had to keep reminding themselves of their exclusive, socioeconomic status. I thought it was a little too convenient that the right answer was so easy to discover in one chapter and then so elusive in the next. The ending was a little too pat as it pulled together all the threads and turned them into happy-ever-after.

I also felt that the story relied too much on a girl's feelings for an old crush rather than a woman's emotions in the midst of an international intrigue. Events in the story threatened to tear apart her entire world, and yet the main thing on her mind often seemed to be how hot her old crush still was. In many places the characters read like teenagers trying to sound rich and pampered, rather than adults who lived and breathed in that monied world.

Having said all of that, I have to point out that the story ends on a pleasant note. Everything does turn out extremely well for most of the characters, and in that respect that's just what a person want to read at times. So while my comments of the plot and characters may sound harsh compared to the rest of the reviews, I do respect the fact that we all read books for different reasons. This one didn't meet my expectations based on the premise, but it may totally be just what the doctor ordered for someone else after a long day of reality.


Mexican Rice Recipe: The Authentic Taste's Missing Ingredient
Mexican Rice Recipe: The Authentic Taste's Missing Ingredient
Price: $0.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lots of enthusiasm, little substance, March 1, 2012
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As the previous reviewer mentioned, this book (more like a booklet) only covers a single recipe/method for preparing rice. I am not really faulting the book for that, as there are times when a single recipe can become my favorite way of preparing a certain dish. No, the one star review is for the formatting and editing of the booklet.

There is a table of contents which lists an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion. The table of contents does not have active links for the reader to jump to those locations.

The font size changes dramatically between the introduction and the first chapter. I was reading along with my chosen font just fine until I turned the page and reached the first chapter. Then the font size became much smaller. Fortunately, the font size reverts to normal in chapter two and stays the same size for the rest of the booklet.

I would suggest following the standard recipe formatting which can be found in most professionally published cookbooks and food magazines. For instance, each ingredient should have a separate line. I also found the ingredient preparation directions to be distracting. (Example - "now on these it does helps to cut in like four pieces" - A little editing to catch typos such as 'helps' would make this look much more polished, not to mention that the cook needs to know how many pieces are required.)

I think the booklet is a great concept, and I applaud the author's enthusiasm for his mother's recipe. I just think that the booklet could be so much better if a little more time and effort had gone into the formatting and text preparation.


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