Written by Anne Girard
Published on August 26, 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
Received this book from HFVBT in exchange for an honest review
When Eva Gouel moves to Paris from the countryside, she is full of ambition and dreams of stardom. Though young and inexperienced, she manages to find work as a costumer at the famous Moulin Rouge, and it is here that she first catches the attention of Pablo Picasso, a rising star in the art world.
A brilliant but eccentric artist, Picasso sets his sights on Eva, and Eva can’t help but be drawn into his web. But what starts as a torrid affair soon evolves into what will become the first great love of Picasso’s life.
With sparkling insight and passion, Madame Picasso introduces us to a dazzling heroine, taking us from the salon of Gertrude Stein to the glamorous Moulin Rouge and inside the studio and heart of one of the most enigmatic and iconic artists of the twentieth century.
Madame Picasso is a wonderful novel that takes us to a time where Pablo Picasso is taking Paris by storm. Anne Girard did an amazing job capturing Picasso’s self-absorbed and manic personality. Further, Eva was a remarkable woman who I felt whose wings were clipped by a frenzied artist. The entire book is from her perspective and you are able to get some insight in the life of Picasso.
Eva is portrayed as a very brave young woman who ran away from a single country life and sought independence in The City of Lights. She finds her way as a thriving costumer and seamstress. She makes new friends and is living her life as she sees fit…until she meets Picasso. In the beginning, she tries to refuse his attentions but eventually gets caught in his passionate web. I felt that her character was so strong and you really wanted her to succeed on her own. However, she fell passionately in love with Picasso and she would do anything to make him happy.
Anne Girard portrayed Picasso in a very honest light. He was self-absorbed, incredibly superstitious, and guilt-ridden over his past. Plus, he is the sun that everyone should revolve around; especially his women. Picasso has never been one of my favorite artists; however, Ms. Girard really captured his passion for art and women. I appreciated that she included some of his history that explained who he was. There was so much pain and guilt in his past that he was almost virtually impossible for him to have a healthy relationship with anyone, let alone a woman. I believe he truly loved Eva. I found it very interesting that he never painted her. His only reference to her is “Ma Jolie” that he put in several paintings. Was he trying to keep her to himself? Or was he protecting her from his crazy world?
Ms. Girard gave us a wonderful glimpse into the life of a complicated man who desperately wanted someone to share his life. He wanted a partner and Eva wanted to be that partner. But in the end, life got in the way and Picasso loses his first love.
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Anne Girard was born with writing in her blood. The daughter of a hard-driving Chicago newsman, she has always had the same passion for storytelling that fueled his lifelong career. She hand-wrote her first novel (admittedly, not a very good one) at the age of fourteen, and never stopped imagining characters and their stories. Writing only ever took a backseat to her love of reading.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in English literature from UCLA and a Master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, a chance meeting with the acclaimed author, Irving Stone, sharply focused her ambition onto telling great stories from history with detailed research. “Live where your characters lived, see the things they saw,” he said, “only then can you truly bring them to life for your readers.” Anne took that advice to heart. After Stone’s encouragement twenty years ago, she sold her first novel. When she is not traveling the world researching her stories, Anne and her family make their home in Southern California. When she is not traveling or writing, she is reading fiction.
Madame Picasso Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, August 25
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, September 4
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court
Friday, September 5
Review at To Read or Not to Read
Tuesday, September 9
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, September 10
Review at Books in the Burbs
Thursday, September 11
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, September 16
Review at She is Too Fond of Books
Wednesday, September 17
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Thursday, September 18
Review at One Book of a Time
Friday, September 19
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, September 23
Review at The Librarian Fatale
Thursday, September 25
Review at Kincavel Korner
Friday, September 26
Interview at Kincavel Korner
The Invention of Wings
Written by Sue Monk Kidd
Published on January 7, 2014 by Penguin Group
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.
Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.
Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.
Sue Monk Kidd has written a very powerful story of the Antebellum South where slavery is at its height and the abolition movement is in its infancy. The story revolves around two very different women; one a slave and the other a daughter of a prominent southern man. Both women live in bondage; but, of course, in different degrees. It is very hard to compare the two women as they make their own mark in the world.
Ms. Kidd’s depiction of slavery is incredibly honest and forthright. She doesn’t hide the abuse and violence that slaves faced on a daily basis. I really appreciated Handful’s perspective as a strong young woman who wants to be free. She doesn’t want to bow down to her owners and her loyalty to her family is incredibly strong. Her family is the only thing that keeps her going and she will do anything to protect them. Her relationship with Sarah is complicated. They can’t be friends but they feel a kind of kinship. They understand each other.
Sarah Grimke is a woman trapped in a time where she is expected to marry and have children. She is property that should be controlled by her father and then her husband. Throughout the story, she is conflicted about her role in life. She wants to be independent and have her own career. However, she feels the pull of the expectations of a southern woman. She must decide whether she is strong enough to break free from her own prison. Sarah’s intensely strong beliefs give her courage to make some very difficult decisions. She becomes a strong advocate for women’s rights and abolition.
The Invention of Wings is an incredible story that will leave you amazed at the strength of two amazing women. You want them to achieve their goals and be free. You, also, want others to be punished for their atrocious behavior. Either way, you will feel as you read this powerful book.
The Lhasa Trilogy
Written by Gary D. Conrad
Published on February 12, 2012 by Rainbow Books
On a frigid night at Tibet’s Drepung Monastery, Lama Tenzin Tashi is awakened by a fervent knocking on his door. Quickly he realizes these raps are dreaded harbinger, one which will launch him on a quest to satisfy a vow, a blasphemous promise he wishes he had never made. But at this point, the lama has no other choice. The journey must be undertaken, no matter the cost.
Thus begins an odyssey that spans not only his life, but also the life of a man born near a small town of Davidson, Oklahoma. Who could comprehend how inexplicably intertwined their pathways would become as they pushed aside the veil that concealed the hidden secrets of death?
The Lhasa Trilogy is an intriguing tale of incarnation, karma and redemption; while at its heart is universal spirituality. Even though this book is a work of fiction, I found it incredibly thought-provoking and enlightening. I have always been intrigued by Buddhism and this book gives a nice glimpse into that way of life.
The story is broken up into three interlinked books. First, Matthew Walker Johnston has been dealt an absolutely horrid life. He faces so many tragedies and is not able to overcome them. His inability to overcome the sorrow in his life leads him to make horrid life-decisions that damage his soul and/or karma. His journey for redemption is at the center of this story. Matthew is very self-aware of how badly he led his life. However, he set in motion a way for him and his incarnation to redeem them.
Lama Tenzin Tashi is a wonderful character who also has flaws that must be overcome in order to reach total enlightenment. Throughout his journey to search for Matthew’s next incarnation, he questions his motives. However, it is this journey that helps him to release his imperfections and find nirvana. I enjoyed his flashback of his early life. His reflections gave the reader a real glimpse into the Chinese treatment of Tibet. It was and is a horrible time for Tibet. Through Tenzin’s eyes, you are able to feel all of the atrocities that Tibetans face on a daily basis.
The last piece to this puzzle is Wade Joshua Adams. It is his responsibility to accept what is before him and take his life to another level. Wade is everything Matthew should have been. Together they have a chance for redemption and to make the world a much better place. Wade, Todd, and Sonali, also, give the reader knowledge that the people you love never leave you. Your journey is not complete unless you your loved ones surround you.
The Lhasa Trilogy is a very spiritually-laden book that should not be overlooked. My main take-away is that there really isn’t religion, only spiritual well-being. But there is a God and it is never too late for forgiveness and redemption.
The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)
Written by Deborah Harkness
Published on July 15, 2014 by Viking Press
After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.
With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.
The Book of Life is a marvelous conclusion to the All Souls Trilogy. Deborah Harkness gave the reader a book that resolves storylines plus a wisp of hope that the story isn’t over. I loved every page and I was so sad to see it end. Once again, Ms. Harkness weaves a magical tale of love; however, with The Book of Life, she shows us what it means to be a family.
Throughout The Book of Life, the definition of family and loyalty is put to the test. Diana and Matthew redefine family by calling witches, vampires and daemons all family. I loved how that family had evolved so dramatically since A Discovery of Witches. There was so much distrust and hatred. Now there is love, loyalty and acceptance. Race purity is an ignorance and ancient concept. The sense of family conquered that basic racism.
Diana and Matthew reached their full character potential. Diana became an incredibly strong woman, witch, wife and mother. In A Discovery of Witches, she completely denied who she was and who she could be. By the end, she fully embraces herself and becomes the anchor of her family. Matthew, also, reached his full potential on a different level. He was so cold and detached; now he opens up to Diana and his family. He recognizes his faults and will willingly accept help. He is no longer just Diana’s protector. They are full partners in life and love.
The Book of Life is, by far, my favorite book of the year. I’m hoping, that one day, Deborah Harkness revisits and tells more amazing stories of Diana and Matthew. I’m so not ready to say good-bye. By the way The Book of Life ended, I feel there is possibility that Diana and Matthew will not fade away.
The Bone Church
Written by Victoria Dougherty
Published on April 15, 2014 by Pier’s Court Press
In the surreal and paranoid underworld of wartime Prague, fugitive lovers Felix Andel and Magdalena Ruza make some dubious alliances – with a mysterious Roman Catholic cardinal, a reckless sculptor intent on making a big political statement, and a gypsy with a risky sex life. As one by one their chances for fleeing the country collapse, the two join a plot to assassinate Hitler’s nefarious Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Josef Goebbels.
But the assassination attempt goes wildly wrong, propelling the lovers in separate directions.
Felix’s destiny is sealed at the Bone Church, a mystical pilgrimage site on the outskirts of Prague, while Magdalena is thrust even deeper into the bowels of a city that betrayed her and a homeland soon to be swallowed by the Soviets. As they emerge from the shadowy fog of World War II, and stagger into the foul haze of the Cold War, Felix and Magdalena must confront the past, and a dangerous, uncertain future.
The Bone Church is a very poignant story of survival and love lost during and after World War II. Felix and Magdalena’s story seems heartbreaking at every turn. I wish I got say that love conquers all; everything but the Nazis and the Soviets.
There is so much passion in the book; passion for ways of life, country and spirituality. Felix really embodies all of that throughout the book. I love his spirituality and his ability to connect at different levels of perception. He receives at help from so many sources; real and mystic. He never gives up and his ability to survive does him credit in so many ways.
Of all of the characters portrayed in The Bone Church, Srut really stood out to me. He has such a strong sense of what is right and wrong; according to Srut. He is loyal to the people he trusts which are few. He will go to great length and sacrifice to save “his” people. He is a wonderful character and should be appreciated.
The Bone Church is a character in of itself. The author gave the reader some vivid images of what this church was. I loved how everything comes full circle at The Bone Church. Everything is resolved at the Bone Church.
The Bone Church is a wonderful book about a horrible time in the world’s history. But at its heart is survival and loyalty. It will stay with me for a long time.
Victoria Dougherty writes fiction, drama, and essays that often revolve around spies, killers, curses and destinies. Her work has been published or profiled in The New York Times, USA Today, International Herald Tribune and elsewhere. Earlier in her career, while living in Prague, she co-founded Black Box Theater, translating, producing and acting in several Czech plays. She lives with her husband and children in Charlottesville, Virginia.
For more information, please visit Victoria Dougherty’s website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.
The Bone Church Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, June 17
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Wednesday, June 18
Excerpt at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Thursday, June 19
Guest Post at I’d So Rather Be Reading
Monday, June 23
Review at Based on a True Story
Tuesday, June 24
Review at Bibliotica
Friday, June 27
Review at Back Porchervations
Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book
Wednesday, July 2
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, July 3
Review at leeanna.me
Monday, July 7
Review at Library Educated
Thursday, July 10
Excerpt & Spotlight at Books and Benches
Monday, July 14
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Tuesday, July 15
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Thursday, July 17
Guest Post at Savvy Verse & Wit
Friday, July 18
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Monday, July 21
Review at Book Nerd
Tuesday, July 22
Review at The Lit Bitch
Wednesday, July 23
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Tuesday, July 29
Review at Historical Tapestry
Wednesday, July 30
Review at Luxury Reading
Thursday, July 31
Review at From the TBR Pile
Murder by Misrule
Written by Anne Castle
Published on June 8, 2014 by Capital Crime
Francis Bacon is charged with investigating the murder of a fellow barrister at Gray’s Inn. He recruits his unwanted protégé Thomas Clarady to do the tiresome legwork. The son of a privateer, Clarady will do anything to climb the Elizabethan social ladder. Bacon’s powerful Uncle Lord Burghley suspects Catholic conspirators of the crime, but other motives quickly emerge. Rival barristers contend for the murdered man’s legal honors and wealthy clients. Highly-placed courtiers are implicated as the investigation reaches from Whitehall to the London streets. Bacon does the thinking; Clarady does the fencing. Everyone has something up his pinked and padded sleeve. Even the brilliant Francis Bacon is at a loss – and in danger – until he sees through the disguises of the season of Misrule.
Murder by Misrule is a highly entertaining story about murder, the law and politics; where none of which mix well together. This book is definitely a page-turner with very colorful characters. The storyline keeps you thinking to the very end.
I found Francis Bacon to be a tad tedious. His ongoing “ill health” made him very trying at times. However, his legal mind made him a terrific detective. I really enjoy when historical figures are made into fictional detectives and Ms. Castle had Bacon into a very intelligent detective. However, it is a good thing that Ms. Castle included Thomas Clarady in the story. He really brings life to it.
Thomas Clarady is quite a character. He is full life, love and gusto; plus underneath it all, he has a strong mind. I think Bacon and Clarady will make a good partnership for later books in the series. They are two sides of the same coin. Tom can effectively maneuver and persuade to get what he wants. If Bacon lacks finesse, Clarady definitely makes up for it. I look forward to more interaction between the two in later books.
The supporting characters were also very amusing. Ben and Trumpet have interesting storylines and I would very much like to see them more developed and involved with Bacon and Clarady. They all make for a very interesting quartet.
Overall, Murder By Misrule is a very engaging mystery and sets up this new series nicely. I’m really looking forward to the second installment.
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Anna Castle has been a waitress, software engineer, documentary linguist, college professor, and digital archivist. Historical fiction combines her lifelong love of stories and learning. She physically resides in Austin, Texas, and mentally counts herself a queen of infinite space.
Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Wednesday, June 4
Book Blast at The Musings of ALMYBNENR
Thursday, June 5
Book Blast at Our Wolves Den
Saturday, June 7
Book Blast at Kelsey’s Book Corner
Sunday, June 8
Review at Carole’s Ramblings
Monday, June 9
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Tuesday, June 10
Book Blast at West Metro Mommy
Thursday, June 12
Review at Curling Up By the Fire
Friday, June 13
Book Blast at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Wednesday, June 18
Book Blast at CelticLady’s Reviews
Saturday, June 21
Book Blast at Griperang’s Bookmarks
Tuesday, June 24
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Wednesday, June 25
Book Blast at Susan Heim on Writing
Friday, June 27
Book Blast at Caroline Wilson Writes
Monday, June 30
Book Blast at Historical Tapestry
Tuesday, July 1
Interview at Starting Fresh
Wednesday, July 2
Review at Kincavel Korner
Friday, July 4
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
What was our planet like in years past? How has our civilization affected Earth and its ecology? This second edition begins by discussing these questions, and then generates a scenario for the restoration of Earth. It introduces new and innovative ideas on how we could use the Solar System and its resources for terrestrial benefit.
Harvesting Space for a Greener Earth is a fascinating book that poses some very interesting ideas on how to save our natural resources and continue to live on our planet. As an environmental attorney, I have worked in this field for almost 19 years and there are no easy answers on how to conserve our natural resources. By moving our energy production to space is an interesting idea but I’m not sure if it’s a viable one.
As this book stated, our planet is totally dependent on fossil fuels. We need to find a way to move away from that energy source; especially coal. If we could somehow harness the resources on the moon and somehow get them back to Earth, that would be an ideal situation. The authors pointed out that the moon is already dead. Pollution and mining activities will do it any more harm, unlike how it affects our planet.
I really like the idea of removing the significant pollution sources off our planet. However, the expense of the removal and the capture of those resources would be incredibly expensive. Furthermore, I know we are not ready from a technical standpoint. There needs to be extensive research and development to create an infrastructure that can be located off-planet. We are just not there yet. Also, the money involved would astronomical.
Overall, I found this book very thought-provoking and interesting. There are a lot of good ideas that would benefit our planet and move away from our dependency of fossil fuels which continue to pollute our world. We need a move balanced energy plan that benefits all living creatures on Earth. Do you think that’s possible? I just don’t know.
Written by Annie Proulx
Published in 2002 by Scribners
Folks in the Texas panhandle do not like hog farms. But Bob Dollar is determined to see his new job as hog site scout for Global Pork Rind through to the end. However, he is forced to face the idiosyncratic inhabitants of Woolybucket and to questions his own notions of loyalty and home.
That Old Ace in the Hole is a wonderful book about preserving a way of life and not fall victim to corporate takeover. It is a refreshing take on small town life and how its residents refuse to let go of their stories and home.
The book’s antagonist is the wretched corporate hog farm. Not many people in Woolybucket favor the hog farms coming into their community. That’s why when Bob Dollar arrives in town he is told by his superiors to make up a cover story and not admit he’s scouting for a hog farm. The secrecy of Bob’s mission really conveys the message that Global Pork Rind is up to no good and doesn’t care about the people and their community. Global Pork Rind doesn’t care if they destroy the land or town. It is the evil and vile corporation at its best.
For the rest of my review, head over to The Red Dirt Report.
Dreaming For Freud
Written by Sheila Kohler
Published on May 28, 2014 by Penguin Books
Sigmund Freud’s motives and methods in taking on the seventeen-year-old daughter of one of his former patients seem highly questionable: what does he know about women’s psychology in the first place, and about adolescents, in the second? The outcome seems a preordained disaster.
From the day I was asked to review this book I was intrigued. I loved the cover and the storyline sounded fascinating. I have read other pieces of historical fiction that focused on Freud and I found those to be engaging and enjoyable. However, I was disappointed with Dreaming For Freud and it did not meet my high expectations.
First, I didn’t think the characters of Freud and Dora (the seventeen-year-old patient) were completely developed. I found it difficult understand the bond between doctor and patient that was supposed to be there. At one point, Dora felt totally dependent on Freud. However, I don’t know how she got there. Throughout the book, she seemed resentful towards Freud; far from being dependent. I would have liked to know how she became so enamored of him. I only felt her anger and bitterness for Freud’s lack of understanding of her problems.
The same thing can be said for Freud’s character. He seemed very self-absorbed and not digging very deep to help his patient. He was obsessed with dreams; whether they helped his patient or not. I would like to have read more about his theories and how he truly helped his patients. He seemed very detached. So, when he became very attached to Dora I found it a little perplexing. It didn’t make sense.
The ending seemed a little haphazard. In order to have resolution of the characters, the narrative kept bouncing back and forth between past and present. Dora’s adult life didn’t really fit with how she was as a teenager. I think this is where more development was needed to better explain Dora’s life. I felt Dora’s adult life was too disconnected from her teenage life to be plausible.
The one thing I did like about this book is the cover. It is beautiful and really grabs your attention. It makes want to open the books and start reading. However, I wish the story matched the cover. I don’t regret reading this book but I do wish it had a little more depth to the characters.