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Meg @ A Bookish Affair RSS Feed (Washington, DC)

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Rodin's Lover: A Novel
Rodin's Lover: A Novel
by Heather Webb
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.34
86 used & new from $7.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Great historical fiction!, January 27, 2015
This review is from: Rodin's Lover: A Novel (Paperback)
"Rodin's Lover" is the latest release from Heather Webb, author of "Becoming Josephine." It is a historical fiction take on Camille Claudel, a woman who dreams of being a famous sculptor. Unfortunately for her, she lives during a time where women are not supposed to be artists and her mother is more interested in making a good love match with an appropriate gentleman. Enter Auguste Rodin, the famous sculptor. Camille finds him endlessly intriguing and falls under his spell. It is not easy to be with him though! This is a passionate tale of love and art that I ate up!

I really enjoyed this story. I was excited to read it after having read "Becoming Josephine." Much of what I liked about that story was present in "Rodin's Lover." Webb spins a great story about art and love and the way that they intersect with each other. It is apparent that Webb spent a great deal of time researching to bring Camille and Auguste as well the rest of the characters to life. I also really loved the setting of Paris. Camille's Paris is a quickly evolving world filled with artists and thinkers

The characters really drive this story and they pulled me into the narrative quickly. These are characters that you want to follow because Webb writes them in such a way that you really care about them. Camille especially felt real to me. Before reading this book, I don't think that I knew a single thing about her. She is such a great character, definitely one that is well ahead of her time. I also really liked the love story between Auguste and Camille. It's full of heat, desire, and storminess. I loved reading about how things evolved between them. I did wish there was a little more about Rodin himself in the book. The story really focuses on Camille alone and Camille and Auguste together but not really on Auguste alone.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. My fellow historical fiction fans will find so much to love about this book. I am anxiously awaiting Webb's next release.

Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Creepy (in a very good way)!, October 23, 2014
This book's title, "Floats the Dark Shadow," itself makes this book sound dark and it is! The book is set in Paris during the Belle Epoque, which is an exciting and dangerous place. In the story, our main characters, Michel and young American painter Theodora, are faced with solving a series of gruesome crimes. The killer is somebody who fancies himself to be the reincarnation of one of the most famous and dangerous serial killers ever. This book is definitely dark and definitely not for the faint of heart but if you're looking for something exciting that will keep you turning the pages, this just may be a perfect pick so close to Halloween!

While this book took me a little bit of time to get into, it picks up very quickly as Theodora finds herself on the front lines with this most dangerous killer. I thought that it was a really interesting idea that the killer believes himself to be a reincarnation of one of Joan of Arc's lieutenants gone bad. It definitely made for an intriguing storyline!

This book was definitely suspenseful and definitely had a good deal of mystery going on! I liked how the author was able to keep us guessing with how our heroes were going to solve the crime. This definitely kept me on my toes! I also really liked how Paris itself almost becomes a character in this book. This Paris is not the city of lights, it is more like this idea of darkness and depravity. Overall, I ended up really enjoying this book.

Come Dancing (The Jack and Julia Series Book 1)
Come Dancing (The Jack and Julia Series Book 1)
Price: $4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun!, October 8, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In "Come Dancing," the year is 1981 and Julia is a young woman who is involved in the book publishing world. Talk about a dream job! She is just learning her way around the real world and is trying to navigate life in the big city. It's all very new to her and we get to do a lot of exploring with her, which I found very exciting. She goes out with her friends and ends up meeting a guitarist for one of the hottest bands in the world at the time. Julia is totally enamored with Jack and this kicks off a great love story. This book is about growing up and becoming an adult.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I know that it's not necessarily historical fiction because it takes place in the such recent past, but I did appreciate reading about a time that I didn't live through. I wasn't born until 1985 so I have absolutely no memories of the early 1980s; however, they are endlessly fascinating to me. I loved seeing New York City at this time when so much was changing. NYC seemed like an especially exciting place to be during that time.

I really like Julia's character and I really enjoyed the love story in the book. I was rooting for Jack and Julia the whole way. This is a very smart love story, which I really liked. This was also a really fun book which can be billed as a romance. It's a fun romp and their sparkling characters definitely made it worth the read

Dogs Rule Nonchalantly
Dogs Rule Nonchalantly
by Mark Ulriksen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.19
56 used & new from $16.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm and Fuzzy!, September 30, 2014
This review is from: Dogs Rule Nonchalantly (Hardcover)
"Dogs Rule Nonchalantly" is a wonderful book for anyone that has ever loved or loves dogs. This new book by Mark Ulriksen is a book of really wonderful illustrations of Ulriksen's favorite subjects (and mine): dogs. The book tells the story of some of the dogs that the author had growing up as well as some of the dogs he has had more recently.

The little back story is great for this book (it is definitely cute), but it is really the illustration start truly make this book. His illustrations are both funny and heartwarming. Ulriksen definitely has his own sense of style when it comes to illustrations. I could see this being a really good book to give as a present to somebody who enjoys both art and dogs. It would make a fantastic coffee table book. This book will definitely give you the warm and fuzzies!

Hand of Fire
Hand of Fire
Price: $5.50

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great detail!, September 8, 2014
This review is from: Hand of Fire (Kindle Edition)
"Hand of Fire" is the new historical fiction novel of Briseis and the Trojan war. Briseis was the famous captive of warrior Achilles but in this book, she has her own story too! Briseis is a young priestess who learns her art of healing from her mother. She also lives during a very tumultuous time and is able to use her skills in order to get through her life. I haven't had an opportunity to read a lot of historical fiction set in ancient times but every time I come across a book like "Hand of Fire," I feel like I need to read a lot more set during this time (it is just so darn exciting). With an incredible story and a lot of great historical detail, this book will appeal to a wide range of historical fiction readers.

The characters in the book are well drawn, especially Briseis. Our heroine it is definitely an interesting character that I really enjoyed following through the story. I like that she is really able to live on her own terms when it seems that other people might like to have more control over her life. One of the most exciting parts of this book for me is the appearance of Achilles as a character. You may be familiar with the methods Achilles and the way that the author is able to weave both his myth as well as some historical detail from the Trojan war together is really something worth reading. I loved reading about Achilles and Briseis together.

This book has a lot going for it! The characters pull you in and there is a ton of action! As I already mentioned, the historical detail in this book is really wonderful. For me, authors notes are often helpful to read but may not be exactly exciting. With this book; however, I really enjoyed the authors note and loved getting sort of a background as to how the author was able to take all of these different facts and myths and weave them into a compulsively readable story. I know that I will anxiously be awaiting this author's next release.

The Duel for Consuelo
The Duel for Consuelo
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Time, Memorable Characters, August 28, 2014
"The Duel for Consuelo" is a historical fiction novel set in 1700s New Spain, now more commonly known as Mexico. I really love reading historical fiction set in Latin America and I don't find enough of it! The book is set in a time and a place I haven't read very much about. I love when historical fiction can teach you something new! Consuelo's lives with her family in New Spain. This book is both a love story and a story of family. There is also a heavy religious influence in this book since they acquisition is also taking place in new Spain. This is a fascinating book with very memorable characters.

I have read a lot of historical fiction set during the Inquisition; however, most of day historical fiction has been set in Spain. I really liked that this book looked at New Spain. It was interesting to see how the Inquisition affected those people of New Spain both similarly and differently than those people of Spain. Consuelo's family is hiding a major secret. Although the Inquisition seeks to punish those that are practicing Judaism, Consuelo's mother still practices in secret. Consuelo knows that her mother practices and is forced to keep her secret even though it means that she could possibly get in trouble by her self. I really liked the family aspect of this book and loved the relationship between Consuelo and her mother, Leila.

The writing of the book was good. The narrative is told from several different perspectives including that of Consuelo and Leila. I really liked having the different narratives in the book because it allows you to see how various members of society felt about what was going on with regard to the Inquisition. Each character truly had their own voice! Overall, I thought this was a very interesting historical fiction look at an event that changed the course of history.

Cry of the Fish Eagle
Cry of the Fish Eagle
Price: $3.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Travel to the Heart of Africa!, July 30, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
3.5 stars. "Cry of the Fish Eagle" is the story of a changing time in the history of Rhodesia, which is now the country of Zimbabwe. Set against this changing time, the characters struggle both with each other and with the changing country. The characters are really the stars of this tale with the historical detail providing a lush and interesting backdrop for the action of the story.

This is story really fits into the vein of an epic story with Rupert Pengelly at the center of it. During WWII, Pengelly finds himself in Rhodesia looking for Sasa, the daughter of his friend. Pengelly knows that he must find her and his journey will take him all over the countryside into places that are facing very difficult times. This journey will change Rupert's perspective and himself over and over again as the story progresses. I really enjoyed reading about him. He is driven to do what he first promised, no matter how difficult it gets. The secondary characters also made for interesting reading as well, especially Sasa. Sasa exemplifies the hardship that so many others are going through during this time of change and turmoil.

The pacing of the book worked well for the most part. It did get a little confusing with the time changes and I kept having to go back to figure out where in the sequence of events the narrative was. There were some parts of the book that could have been slimmed down. My fellow historical fiction lovers are going to love all of the detail, which really helps to bring the story to life.

If you all have read my blog before, you know how much I love traveling different places through books. This book provides the reader with a great opportunity to travel to the heart of Africa!
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Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures
Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Animal Lovers!, July 6, 2014
I am unequivocally an animal person. If it's fluffy, I've probably thought of what it would be like to have as a pet. If it's feathery, I've probably also wondered what it would be like to have as a pet. Even if I am scared of it (see spiders, poisonous snakes, etc.), I am probably still cautiously interested in it. I gobble books about animals so quickly and this book definitely fell into that category for me. In this book, the author explores the minds of many different kinds of animals from those that we as humans already recognize as being intelligent to those that we take for granted (birds, fish, etc.).

Morell explores the animal kingdom in this book mostly through visiting people whose life's work has something to do with animals. These people explore animal behavior in labs and it was incredibly intriguing to see what kind of research they are doing and all of the truly amazing things that they are learning from living creatures. Morell explores both those creatures that we already know to be quite intelligent, such as chimps and dogs. She also looks at fish and birds, which are creatures that have often been passed over as not being intelligent. Morell also looks at what it means to have intelligence. The definition is not always as clear cut as it seems.

This book definitely made me think. I know that I will be thinking about this book long after I finished reading it. Morell does a really good job of making the science behind this book accessible to a wide variety of readers. I loved this book and know that it is one that I am going to be recommending to a lot of my fellow animal lovers!

Love and Treasure
Love and Treasure
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Family Secrets!, June 29, 2014
This review is from: Love and Treasure (Kindle Edition)
"Love and Treasure" is really a story about how we as humans cope when things seem incredibly hopeless. It is also the story of priorities and whether or not those things that we treasure are really all that meaningful in the face of danger. I had been wanting to try some of Waldman's books for awhile and so I was happy to be a part of this tour. This was a great and powerful book to start with.

The book opens on Jack, an old man, and his beloved granddaughter. Jack is convinced that she worries much too much about him as he is dying from cancer. He has one request for her, which is to find the owner of a necklace with mysterious beginnings. Natalie, the granddaughter, takes her job very seriously and is determined to put together the pieces of her grandfather's mystery; she only hopes that she can do it in time! The story is told from both the past and the present perspectives and when they meet, it makes for a fantastic collision that I really enjoyed reading.

I really enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction about World War II and I love when I find books that shed new perspectives on events during that war. I hadn't read much about the Hungarian Gold Train and found the historical details that Waldman wove into this book about that to be absolutely fascinating. You can see what so many people during that time were going through with getting all of their worldly possessions taken away. It is hard to imagine how they must have felt during that time period.

This book had a lot of drama and nice pacing that kept me wanting to read more about Jack's time over in Europe during World War II. There is mystery and romance alongside a healthy dose of drama and intrigue throughout the book. This book only made me more anxious to read more by Waldman in the future!

Mozart's Wife
Mozart's Wife
Price: $2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Sly Wives!, June 23, 2014
This review is from: Mozart's Wife (Kindle Edition)
"Mozart's Wife" is the story of Konstanze, who is swept off her feet by the one and only Mozart, the famous composer. There are so many books these days that are entitled something about someone's wife. "Mozart's Wife" is a great case for why these sorts of books are so popular. Through Konstanze's eyes we get to see what Mozart was like as a private person. This was a very interesting historical fiction look at a really fantastic life.

Konstanze is a little naive when she first meets Mozart as he is pursuing her musically talented and very pretty older sister. Having so many girls in the family, Konstanze's family cannot afford to give each sister a dowry so Konstanze worries about who she will be able to marry and what she will be able to offer. Mozart eventually turns his affections towards Konstanze and she is excited for it and falls for him fairly quickly. The book details all of the in's and out's of their relationship.

The writing of the book was pretty good. I really liked how the characters were written. Waldron allows the readers to get oh so close to Mozart, a very intriguing man, and I ate it up. I actually did not know much about Mozart's non-musical life and I really liked seeing that aspect of him. At almost 400 pages, this book is quite long and there were a couple parts that could have stood to be slimmed down but overall, there is fairly nice pacing here. This would be a great fictional introduction to Mozart.

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