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Life Update – Short Hiatus

Life has been rather hectic lately.  I’m starting a new job this week and the transition is taking a lot of my time away from fun things, like reading and blogging.  Once I get settled in and on track with my new schedule, I’ll be back and posting like crazy.  Bear with me!  I have to go from being an early morning person to being a late night person due to a schedule change.

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Review: The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler

4 Stars

Anyone who knows their fifteenth century European history will recognize the story that inspired this book.  Imagine if King Richard III lived.  Imagine that in 1485 he walked off the field of battle instead of having his corpse dragged through the streets.  Names, places and events have changed.  Magic has been added.  But the underlying story is still the same.

King Severn Argentine has taken control of the throne.  He is accused of murdering his young nephews to take the throne.  He’s accused of murdering his wife, his child, his brother and as many other atrocities as his enemies and the populace can dream up.  He lives up to his fearsome reputation.  He destroys his enemies and those who have betrayed him.  He takes their children hostage and destroys entire families.  He belittles, degrades, ridicules and keeps his subjects in constant fear.  The Duke of Kiskaddon gambled and backed the wrong horse.  He failed to come to his King’s aid and for that, he has been ordered to prove his loyalty.  He must send one of his children to be fostered by the king, kept as hostage in exchange for the Duke’s loyalty.  If the Duke fails, his child dies.

Owen spends much of his time learning the castle and grounds, trying to escape his keeper.  He also spends a large amount of time in the kitchen where he has made fast friends with the cook and her husband.  He has a box of tiles that he sets up in intricate patterns and then with one push, the chain reaction knocks them all down in turn.  This is where he meets his first true friend and ally in the castle, Evie.  He also meets the woman who is going to help him save his life and become indispensable to King Severn.  He meets Ankarette, the Queen’s Poisoner.  She had been tasked by the former Queen (who is now in sanctuary) to get rid of King Severn, but she failed.  She was thought to be dead, but is back once again in the castle, this time she is tasked with saving Owen’s life.

Ankarette has a plan to save Owen, one that will not only save his life but possibly the lives of his family.  Not only that, it may bring him to the point where the King can’t do without having Owen by his side.

There is plenty of intrigue and action in this book.  It was fun for me to read, already knowing the history of King Richard III and seeing the parallels to King Severn.  The characters were fun too, especially Mancini.  He was definitely the comic relief!  Many of the characters are not well rounded or their appearance is not very well explained.  There are some conspiracies that seem to be going on that aren’t well explained to the reader and don’t go anywhere in this novel, but seem to be setting up for sequels.

My biggest problem with the book was the fact that the main character is an eight year old.  I know that this is a fantasy book and that it’s possible for younger children to be wise beyond their years, especially those who have magical abilities.  But other than that, it was a nice little fantasy novel.  I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel to see what happens to Owen and Evie.

 

 

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Review: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

4 Stars

Lisa Genova has done it to me again. I recently read Still Alice and then went back in search of more of her books when I came across Inside the O’Briens and I am happy that I went in search.  Once again, she steps into the world of neurological disorders and how they have an effect not only on the patient, but on their family and the world around them.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-three year old cop from Charlestown, Massachusetts.  Irish Catholic family man, married with four grown children all living under the same roof in their multi-generational home.  The idyllic life that Joe has is suddenly threatened when he begins to experience temper outbursts, confused and disorganized thinking and weird, involuntary movements, movements that he’s not aware of.  He tries to attribute them to the stress of his job or a recent injury he sustained when falling down the stairs.  But as they worsen, he agrees to see a doctor and then a neurologist.  He is handed a diagnosis that not only changes his life, but it will forever change the lives of his entire family.  He has Huntington’s disease.

The disease is a death sentence.  There is no cure.  There is no treatment.  It’s a disease that eats away at his brain and his body until there is nothing left.  He learns that his mother wasn’t sent to the asylum because she was an alcoholic, she had Huntington’s and was just never diagnosed.  He learns that this disease is inherited and through the wonder that is DNA, each of his children have a 50/50 shot of inheriting the disease from their father.

The story goes between Joe and his struggles with his disease and his daughter, Katie and her struggle to come to terms with her father’s illness and also with the question that hangs over her and her siblings.  Do they take a genetic test to determine if they are going to develop this horrible disease later in their life?  Do you take your chances and just live with the cards that you are dealt and never find out?  Or do you take the test and learn how your days are going to end?

The story is a story of hope as much as it is a story about the struggle of dealing with a disease like Huntington’s.  The story is powerful and riveting.  You can easily put yourself into the story and wonder what you and your family would do when faced with a devastating diagnosis.  This story will bring forth a lot of emotions and I will admit that I cried several times!

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Where I’ve been…

You would think that an illness would give you time to catch up on your TBR pile.  Unfortunately not for me.  My body decided that the chicken pox virus wasn’t done with me yet and I now have shingles.  Friends and family tease because I’m not yet in the typical age group of people who usually develop shingles, yet here I am!

Due to the absolute misery I’m current in along with getting ready for graduation and then a visit from my in-laws, I’m behind.  It doesn’t help that I’m currently reading two long books!

Hopefully I will have a new review up next week.  Until then…send me lots of healing thoughts!

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Review: Our Own Country by Jodi Daynard

3 Stars

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the chance to read this book prior to publication.

This is a companion novel to The Midwife’s Revolt.  You do not really need to read it to be able to follow Our Own Country, but it would help to get the backstory to some of the characters and put a few things into perspective, but this book really does stand on its own very well.  And truth be told, I did enjoy this book far more than the previous.  I’m not sure if it was the style or the character focus this time, but I was definitely more engrossed in the story this time.

The book is told from the perspective of Eliza Boylston.  Oldest daughter of a well-to-do Cambridge family.  In the years leading up to the War of Independence, she lives the life of a spoiled little rich girl.  Never having to lift a hand to do anything on her own and expected to do nothing but make a good marriage match.  But she never feels totally comfortable in the world of her parents.  She’s much more at home in the kitchen with Cassie, the cook for her family and as she grows older, she finds that she’s much more at home with the family slaves than she is with her own flesh and blood, especially after multiple tragedies take those she loves most away from her.

As Eliza grows older, she begins to see that her world is at odds with the woman that she is becoming.  Gone is that brainless little girl who didn’t have a care in the world about where her food came from and how her father made his money.  Her eyes have been opened not only by the Rebel cause, but by the unexpected love that she finds.  A love that can lead to dire consequences.

The Braintree characters weren’t as fleshed out this time and I think this is the biggest reason that you really should read The Midwife’s Revolt first.  While you are introduced to them again, it’s not as in-depth.  You get to see Abigail Adams, John Adams, John Paul Jones and a number of other notable faces from the War of Independence.  So many historically correct and accurate characters and events really do lend an air of authenticity to the story and made it very enjoyable for me.

I personally wish that it had been told in third person instead of first person, solely because it would have been interesting to see the events through some of the other characters in Eliza’s life.  But I was really pleased to see how much she grew over the course of the book.  I think that there were areas that the backstory could have been either eliminated completely or fleshed out more.  There was so much packed into this book that it was easy to get a bit lost at times trying to weave all the threads together.

A strong historically accurate fiction novel.  Interesting characters and pair of star-crossed lovers whose romance was well ahead of its time.  Take a chance.

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Subscription Boxes for Book Lovers

I think I just got myself in trouble.  I found subscription services tailored to book lovers.  I signed up for three services so far.  So you will see a few reviews that are based on the subscription boxes.  They are all book related, so I figure they kind of fit here too.  I’m sure that I’m going to be asking my better half for forgiveness once he finds out what I’ve done, but since it’s all books and book related…I think he’ll understand.

I signed up for a one-off box from Prudence and the Crow.  This is a vintage book subscription service based in London.  For a mere £12 a month (plus shipping), you can choose from 4 different genres or choose the random option.  The FAQ states that you will receive a vintage paperback from your favorite genre along with other goodies and random surprises.  I absolutely cannot wait for this one.  I have a feeling I will be going back and signing up for a continuous subscription.

I also signed up for The Bookish Box and while this one doesn’t actually send books, it’s all book related items and just sounded like way too much fun to not give it a try.  Each month the box will contain a t-shirt and 3-5 other items that are all book related in some way.  The box is $29.99 per month (plus shipping).  Looking at some of the past boxes, I can’t wait and can only hope that what I get is even half as good as some of their past boxes.  This one is a little on the expensive side, so we’ll see how long I can keep this one up.

The last one that I signed up for was Book of the Month.  I had an e-mail giving me the first month for $1, so there was really no way I could pass up on that offer.  If I continue, the cost is $16.99 per month.  Each month you get to choose between 5 books that have been picked by the judges and guest judge.  You can add up to 2 other books per month either from that month’s selections or from previous months.  This one could really get me into trouble.  I very nearly added another book to my cart for the month!  My selection this month will be The Night Charter and after reading the description and the sample from Amazon, I can’t wait.  Look forward to the review here soon!

There are a lot of other subscription boxes and services out there for book lovers.  I may find myself trying a few of the other ones out there too just to see.  I’ll post a review of each with pictures!  And of course I will be reviewing the books that arrive!

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Holiday Hiatus

This is the time of year for many of us to gather with our friends and family and celebrate the holidays.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or any other holiday, I hope that you and yours have an amazing time.

I will be taking the next few weeks away from my blog to spend time with my family and get ready for our own celebrations.  I won’t be letting up on my reading, so I will be back in the new year with new reviews and recommendations.  And the new year will mean a new Goodreads Reading Challenge.  I wonder how many books I should pledge next year…

Have a wonderful holiday season!

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