Saturday, October 22, 2016

(Review) The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Women's fiction, family secrets, mystery
Pages: 400
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 4 stars for very good


"Hetty" Harriet Deveraux inherits an ancestral home, Muirlan House, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. She had already quit her magazine job. She left a controlling boyfriend behind in London. She needed to get away, to think and plan afresh. The Muirlan House is in ruins. Hetty had planned to renovate the home. She does not have experience in renovation work. Meanwhile, bones have been found near the home. They have not been identified.
The story moves back and forth from 1910, a brief 1945, and 2010. The characters in the 1910 period, are the painter, Theo Blake, and his new wife, Beatrice. The modern period is Hetty.

My Thoughts:
What attracted me to the story is the background of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. This is a remote area, cell coverage and Internet are unavailable. It is an area of the world that seems wild and untamed, and also mysterious.
The human remains gave the story a mystery, but further mysteries are discovered.
The House Between Tides is remarkable in its setting. Muirlan House holds memories and secrets. It has its own unique personality.
Theo Blake is a painter. It is apparent from the first page, he is a person who is hiding something. He is a person with polar personalities. He is a strong character.
Beatrice Blake lives during the Victorian era when women were not independent. However, she is a strong character.
Hetty is not a strong character. She is a mediocre character. She is not assertive. She is not a person who stands her ground, but instead takes flight. If she were a coffee, she would be decaf. I found it interesting to portray Hetty, as a modest and mild person. I wondered if it was meant to be a counter-balance for the characters? I tend to pick apart the psyche of characters. She had close family members who'd died, and she has a controlling boyfriend. Her non-assertive nature maybe in response to the feeling she has no control over her life. I'm pleased her character had a transformation in the story.
The House Between Tides held my interest until the final page.
The strong points in the story are the family secrets, mystery of the remains, characters, and the environment of the home and landscape.

Friday, October 21, 2016

(Review) The Tempest (No Fear Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare

Publication Date: 2003, originally written in 1610-11
Publisher: Spark Publishing
Genre: Shakespeare play
Pages: 224
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 3 stars for good


For more information:
The entire play online @ Shakespeare.
Folger Library

I am slowly making my way through all of William Shakespeare's plays. By far, Macbeth is my favorite. I also love Hamlet and Julius Caesar. In addition, I have read Romeo and Juliet and Othello. I've also read the comedy Love's Labour's Lost.

Prospero was the duke of Milan. He is the father of Miranda. Prospero's brother betrayed him, and Prospero and Miranda left the country. They traveled by boat to an island. Prospero uses magic arts. Prospero has a spirit who serves him. The spirit's name is Ariel. Miranda falls in love with Ferdinand, who is the son of the king of Naples. They are both naive and impetuous.

My Thoughts:
It helps to have a modern translation alongside the original words. However, the original words hold the beauty to Shakespeare's language and play. I do not recommend reading only the modern adaption and ignoring the original play.
I felt sorry for the plight of Prospero, but he carried the bitterness too long. His balance is Miranda. She loves and adores him. She is faithful and obedient. Things change when Miranda falls in love. Prospero is a man who wants to control.
I loved the epilogue the best. No, not because it meant the play was finished, but because the Prospero is transparent.

Modern Translation: 
Now my spells are all broken,
And the only power I have is my own,
Which is very weak. Now you all
Have go the power to keep me prisoner here, 
Or send me off to Naples. Please don't
Keep me here on this desert island
With your magic spells.Release me
So I can return to m dukedom
With your help. The gentle wind
You blow with your applause
Will fill my ship's sails. Without applause,
My plan to please you has failed.
Now I have no spirits to enslave,
No Magic to cast spells,
And I'll end up in despair
Unless I'm relieved by prayer,
Which wins over God himself
And absolves all sins.
Just as you'd like to have your sins forgiven,
Indulge me, forgive me, and set me free.

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint. Now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardoned the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell,
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands.
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want 
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,  
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardoned be,
Let your indulgence set me free. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

(Review) In Paradise by Peter Matthiessen

Publication Date: 2014
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Fiction, Holocaust, Self-reflection
Pages: 272
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 3 stars for good


Peter Matthiessen died in 2014. This book was published shortly after his passing.
For more information about Matthiessen: Wikipedia article from the New York Times, article from NPR; a book review from the New York Times.

Clements Olin is a professor of slavic literature. He has traveled from the east coast of America to Poland. He becomes apart of a group who are visiting Auschwitz. Olin is a Zen Buddhist. He is a strong observer of the people who are in the group. Olin had family who was murdered at Auschwitz. While at Auschwitz, Olin is able to understand tangibly what the Nazi's did at Auschwitz. Olin and the people in the group wrestle with pronounced feelings of anger, bitterness, rage, and sadness.
In Paradise, is a philosophical approach to Auschwitz's affect on humanity.
My Thoughts:
In Paradise is a thinking book. It is a book of analization.
Before purchasing the book, I'd thought it was about a survivor of the Holocaust. I guess in a way it is about a survivor. Even though Olin did not experience first hand the horrors of the Holocaust, his mother did. He knows very little about his mother. Olin feels he was relatively safe and unscathed by the Holocaust. His experience of being at the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, brings everything to focus.
In Paradise is a story of introspection and wrestling with the hard things in life. The things that are not understandable.
In Paradise left me feeling more at a loss than before. It is a "different" kind of book than I've ever read. I am grasping for the words to explain why I feel sense of lostness and despair.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

(Review) Come Next Spring by Alana White

Publication Date: August 23, 2016
Republished for 25th anniversary edition
Copyright 1990, 2002
Publisher: Open Road Media
Genre: Young adult fiction, coming of age story
Pages: 178
Source: I received this book free of charge from the author or publisher
Rating: 4 stars for very good


Link for the book tour: Come Next Spring

Alana White is the author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers. Her most recent publications are the adult historical mystery novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, set at the height of the Italian Renaissance in Florence, Italy, and Come Next Spring, a coming of age novel set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in the 1940s. She is also the author of a biography of Sacagawea, Sacagawea: Westward With Lewis and Clark. She is a longtime member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Nashville, TN.
Alana welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit her at for more information. As well as HNS and SCBWI, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the Author’s Guild, and the Women’s National Book Association.
For more information, please visit Alana White’s website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Blog Tour Schedule: 
Monday, October 10
Kick Off at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, October 11
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, October 12
Review at Back Porchervations
Interview at Nothing But Books
Thursday, October 13
Spotlight at A Bookaholic Swede
Friday, October 14
Review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Saturday, October 15
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Sunday, October 16
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Tuesday, October 18
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, October 20
Review at Impressions In Ink
Review at Books, Dreams, Life
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Friday, October 21
Spotlight at The Book Tree
Saturday, October 22
Review at Queen of All She Reads
Sunday, October 23
Review at Quirky Lady Reviews
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at Kinx’s Book Nook
Monday, October 24
Review at Book Nerd
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review at The Book Junkie Reads

To win a paperback copy of Come Next Spring by Alana White, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs! Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on October 24th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US residents only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Embed Code: Come Next Spring Embed Code: Come Next Spring

It’s 1949 in Tennessee Smoky Mountain country, and everything in pre-teen Salina’s life seems suddenly different. Her sister is engaged, her brother is absorbed in caring for his sickly foal, and Salina feels she has nothing in common anymore with her best friend. This novel for young people captures the insular spirit of the mountain people, the breathtaking country itself, and a girl’s struggle to accept the inevitability of change.

My Thoughts:
Salina Harris is at an age when life is rapidly changing. Her body is changing from a little girl into a youth. Her emotions are immature and at times impulsive. Her intellectual mind is growing and yet wisdom for life's situations have not developed. She is at a pivotal age, no longer a young child, and yet not a grown adult. 
I felt Alana White gave me an excellent picture image of the character Salina.  

The story is heavy on dialogue between the characters. The primary character is Salina. The story is from her thoughts and lens. She has siblings that are going through their own life changes. For example: Mary is age 19. Mary is in love with Hank. She is out of school and spends a great deal of time writing letters to Hank, and swooning with love and loneliness for him. Eldest brother Paul, is a senior in high school. His primary interest is caring for a horse named Sugar-Boy. 
Salina's family each have their own stories. Salina is the primary character, but the other siblings were each given a spotlight. Their family represents farm families living in the Smoky Mountain area in the late 1940s. Their family also represents families who are living together as one unit; however, they have their own difficulties of pain, hardships, and life changes. 

The Smoky Mountain area of Pine Valley is about to transition to mid century modern. 
As with any change, people are fearful and against change. It takes a calm and peaceful negotiator to handle adversity, and the Harris family is at the forefront of this. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Review) Unrelenting: Love and Resistance in Pre-War Germany, Based on a True Story, World War II Trilogy, Book 1 by Marion Kummerow

Publication Date: July 13, 2016
Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform
Genre: Historical fiction, based on a true story
Pages: 210
Source: Self-purchase
Rating: 5 stars for excellent


1932, Berlin, Germany
Dr. Wilhem "Q" Quedlin is a chemical engineer and inventor. Science is his world. Early in the story he is accused of industrial espionage. He is interrogated by the Nazis. The job he loved releases him from employment. He becomes determined to make a difference for his nation. He believes the ruling power must be brought to justice.
Hilde Dremmer works in an office. She is a serious girl, and an independent minded girl.
She makes a point to study the current politics of Germany.
A chance meeting brings Q and Hilde together. Their union brings joy, but it also brings a determination triumph over evil.

My Thoughts:
I ordered the paperback copy of the book. When the book arrived, I was disappointed at the small size. The story is 210 pages. However, I was proved wrong about the short amount of pages to be a factor for the story. I have noticed the 2nd book, Unyielding, is 231 pages. I love chunkster size books, and to put both books together in 1 volume is fine for me.
In Unrelenting, the story began quick by introducing the two characters and moving into the story. Their personalities, family dynamics, careers, ideology, and personal convictions make them a perfect pair. It is a beautiful thing when two people become a team with an in-sync mind against oppression.
Unrelenting showed me a different story: German people who were not Jewish, but took up defense against the oppressive Nazi Party.
Unrelenting showed me a love story, but another kind of love story: love and duty to a beloved country.
Unrelenting showed me there were many Germans who were purposely blind to the Nazi Party's venom and murder. These German people were focused on what Hitler could do for them, and not on how he would accomplish his mission. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

(Review) The Spy in Hitler's Inner Circle: Hans-Thilo Schmidt and the Intelligence Network that Decoded Enigma by Paul Paillole

Publication Date: May 2016 (originally published under the name, Notre espion chez Hitler in 1985)
Publisher: Casemate
Genre: Nonfiction, history, World War II, Hitler, espionage
Pages: 304
Source: Free copy from Casemate. I received this book free of charge from the author or publisher.
Rating: 3 stars for good

Link for more information at Casemate. 


Paul Paillole was born in Rennes, France, 1905. He died in Paris, France, 2002. He joined the French army in 1925, and began working for the French Secret Services in counter-espionage branch, 5th Bureau in 1935.
I read a small biography on Paul Paillole on Wikipedia. Controversy surrounds whether he helped Allied forces or engaged in counter activity against the Allies. There are other sites available to read but they are in French.

The time period for the book is 1931-1946.
Paul Paillole held an eye-witness account to the Hans-Thilo Schmidt spy work during World War II. Hans-Thilo through most of the book is known as H.E. He had a family member who was in high command in the Nazi army. H.E. became privileged to information that he was willing to pass on to Allied forces. He gave the information to France. The main thrust of the information was help for the Enigma Code machine.
The Spy in Hitler's Inner Circle is a chronological account of the activities of H.E., the information he passed on, the history of the Enigma machine, and the events that unfolded in Europe during World War II.

My Thoughts:
The Spy in Hitler's Inner Circle is heavy in military and espionage history during the years before World War II and just afterwards.
The dialogue between characters is strictly facts and information. This is not a book where I felt apart of the story because of background scene descriptions or any other type of description. The book reminds me of a documentary that has a brief amount of time to tell its information. Therefore, because of these reasons the book came across as dry. Towards the end of the book I became interested in the story; it is possible human characteristics were shown and I felt more intrigued.
A strong point in the book is I was shown the bravery and cost of passing along information during the war. The people involved understood the cost, but hoped for the best outcome. Their motivations became clearer as the book ended. Not all had the same motivations. Some were motivated to end the war. Some were motivated because they loved their country. Some were motivated because they hated Hitler. Some were motivated because they believed in a different ideology.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

(Review) The Black Country: A Novel of Scotland Yard's Murder Squad Book 2 by Alex Grecian

Publication Date: 2013
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons
Genre: Murder Mystery, Scotland Yard
Pages: 384
Source: Self purchase
Rating: 2 stars for okay


Scotland Yard Inspector Walter Day and Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith are sent to investigate the disappearance of a young boy and his parents. The village is a coal mining area in the midlands. The people are private and appear to be afraid of sharing information. At least 100 people become sick. At first, the water is suspected. The surviving members of the missing family are non-compliant, but as the story unravels the story takes on an even odder atmosphere.
The story also reflects on the memories of a character who fought in the American Civil War.

My Thoughts:
I feel over-all the story fell flat. The story became heavy with too many strong elements. This is a difficult review to write, not because I have given this book 2 stars for okay, but because I do not want to give away important facts of the story. Forgive me if I fail.

  • A family in crisis. There is neglect, a breakdown in family dynamics, ignorance, fear, jealousy, and abuse. The result left me breathless and disturbed. This is not a clean mystery that will end well with the solving. 
  • The American Civil War.
  • PTSD. 
  • Vengeance.
  • The environment of the village is spooky. The inhabitants are odd. The ground itself is moving and falling in-the people continue on as if this is normal. 
Sometimes a story can be so busy that it just doesn't work. My mind is constantly soaking in the current element, then another element just as pronounced takes my attention away and I'm left wondering what is going on. Some readers may enjoy this multi-faceted busy story, but I did not. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

(Review) Death At The Paris Exposition, An Emily Cabot Mystery Number 6 by Frances McNamara

Publication Date: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Allium Press 
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Pages: 276
Source: Free paperback copy from Frances McNamara.  I received this book free of charge from the author or publisher.
Rating: 5 stars for excellent 


About The Author: 
Frances McNamara grew up in Boston, where her father served as Police Commissioner for ten years. She has degrees from Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges, and formerly worked as a librarian at the University of Chicago. When not working or writing she can be found sailing on the Charles River in Boston or beaching on Cape Cod.
For more information please visit Frances McNamara’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.
Sign up for Frances McNamara Newsletter to receive notification of new books and events.

Amateur sleuth Emily Cabot’s journey once again takes her to a world’s fair–the Paris Exposition of 1900. Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer is named the only female U. S. commissioner to the Exposition and enlists Emily’s services as her secretary. Their visit to the House of Worth for the fitting of a couture gown is interrupted by the theft of Mrs. Palmer’s famous pearl necklace. Before that crime can be solved, several young women meet untimely deaths and a member of the Palmer’s inner circle is accused of the crimes. As Emily races to clear the family name she encounters jealous society ladies, American heiresses seeking titled European husbands, and more luscious gowns and priceless jewels. Along the way, she takes refuge from the tumult at the country estate of Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt. In between her work and sleuthing, she is able to share the Art Nouveau delights of the Exposition, and the enduring pleasures of the City of Light with her family.

My Thoughts:
Several reasons I love Death At The Paris Exposition:

  • Death At The Paris Exposition strongly depicts society, culture, and standards of 1900. In addition, views on divorce, clothing styles, etiquette, matchmaking, travel, parenting, and marriage is shown.  
  • The socio-economic class is depicted through the different levels of society, from the wealthy class, to moderate level, and to the servant. I saw a broad view of people living in 1900. 
  • Emily Cabot and her family travel to Paris for the Exposition. Through Emily's eyes I viewed Paris. What was most interesting is the Art Noveau present in the architecture of buildings, paintings, and other art work. Art Noveau is one of my favorite art styles.  
  • Impressionism was an art movement that began in the late 1800s. Mary Cassatt is a secondary character in the book. She is one of my favorite artists. 
  • Emily Cabot, and her husband, Dr. Stephen Cabot are intellectuals. They both have careers. Emily's husband does not seem to mind her activity in solving a murder mystery. He is an active father. He gives Emily the freedom to make decisions and have a little independence. I don't feel this was the norm for 1900. However, I enjoyed reading about characters who were not the typical married couple presented by most books for this era. I felt this gave the book a unique perspective. I believe they are a couple ahead of their time. 
  • The detective murder mystery is a cozy mystery. There isn't graphic violence. The book is a clean read. 
  • The book is also a character study. People of differing levels of society, how they handle problems in life, and the repercussions of poor decisions. 

Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday, September 5
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at A Bookaholic Swede
Tuesday, September 6
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation
Wednesday, September 7
Review at Book Nerd
Thursday, September 8
Spotlight at What is That Book About
Friday, September 9
Spotlight at Passages to the Past
Sunday, September 11
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Tuesday, September 13
Spotlight at To Read, or Not to Read
Wednesday, September 14
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, September 15
Review at Impressions In Ink
Friday, September 16
Guest Post and Excerpt at The Silver Dagger Scriptorium

Giveaway:  To win a paperback copy of Death at the Paris Exposition, please enter via the Gleam form below. 2 copies are up for grabs! Rules – Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on September 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter. – Giveaway is open to US addresses only. – Only one entry per household. – All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. – Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Embed Code: Paris Exposition