Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Cane River by Lalita Tademy

“Sometimes, while you wait for what you think is better, what is good enough slips away.” ~Philomene (in Lalita Tademy’s novel Cane River)

Woo Hooo!!! I am impressed I have been blogging consistently for a week or so, Dear Bloggites!  Go ME!  Okay, enough self-celebrating.  Today’s blog is over March’s Books & Broads Book Club book choice.  This month (YES, you read that right, I am caught up!), the book club chose to read Cane River by Lalita Tademy.

Cane River by Lalita TademyThe premise of this historic novel is about five different generations of a slave family, specifically, the women-folk, and how they were treated by their plantation owners and white people in general just because of their skin color.  This book was INTENSE!  The time-frame is from the 1830s to the 1930s.  The backdrop was in Louisiana on a medium-sized Creole plantation owned by a family named Derbanne.  The four main women in the book were Elisabeth, Suzette, Philomene, and Emily.

The author, Lalita Tademy, created this work of fiction based on stories she heard about her great, great, great, great grandmother, who happened to be the girl in the fifth generation in the book.  While the time and experiences shared in the book were based on historical facts, the story line itself was a work of fiction created from the author’s own mind on how life might have been like for her great, great, great, great grandmother.

I normally do not like reading books like this, however, I found myself enjoying the dynamics of each complex character and how the women found a way to overcome what life threw at them no matter how the dice rolled against them.  I found this a very emotional read and enjoyed the book until the end.  The end pissed me off so much that I threw the book across the room.  It ended with one of the female characters “Rosa Park”-ing the bus.  No flack against Rosa Park and no jab meant to that movement, I just felt that it was wrong to end the book in that manner.

I give Cane River by Lalita Tademy 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  I only recommend this book to avid readers that love the history of the Civil War time.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki

Join me in my journey back to the past, one-month past.  Here is the September book choice for the Books & Broads Book Club.  September’s book was The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki.  Let’s celebrate, Dear Bloggites, because I am now in the current month on my book reading!  No more catch up!  I am very glad, too, because all this darn war talk gives me a brain ache.  That being said, October’s book is during WWII, yep, you guessed it, during the reign of Hitler-AGAIN!  I digress, that is for another day, today is about The Traitor’s Wife, Benedict Arnold to be exact.

The Traitor's Wife by Allison PatakiEven though it was during the Revolutionary War, I did not mind it so much because it did not focus on the war itself like many of the other books I have reviewed, but instead focuses on the people involved with Benedict Arnold and how is betrayal may have played out.

The Traitor’s Wife is a story told by Clairabelle, the handmaid of Peggy (I KNOW) Arnold.  The story follows the life of Peggy and her family as witnessed by her handmaid leading all the way up to the ultimate betrayal by Benedict Arnold and how he was swayed by his wife’s influence to commit this traitorous act.

The story started out slow but once it picked up, I was hooked.  The novel was written in the third person (Can I get a HALLELUJAH!?) and flowed well from one time-frame to another.  There was a lot of history on the founding of America and discussions among the characters in the book about the goings on in America.

Allison Pataki did a great job creating complex characters and providing historical information while playing on the possible personalities of the known people in the book.  The imagery was very good, especially on the different clothing Peggy Arnold was so fixated about.

Reading my name over and over was rather unnerving, especially with such a manipulative person as Peggy Arnold was, and I was disappointed in the ending because I felt justice was not served fully with the people involved in the betrayal of America.

I give The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you like reading about the early growth of America or the Revolutionary War, you will enjoy this book.

Happy Reading! Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club August book choice: The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.  I must start off with the disclosure I have told you many times before, Dear Bloggites, I dislike reading war books, no matter the subject of the book, if it involves war, I can almost guarantee I won’t care for it (7 out of 10 times).  With that being said, (or written), here goes.

The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall KellyThe Lilac Girls follow three different women during the invasion of Germany and into WWII.  The three ladies are: Caroline Ferriday, an America socialite living in New York; Kasia Kuzmerick, A Polish teenager; and Herta Oberheuser, a young German doctor.  Caroline is a New York socialite who becomes involved with a French actor that is married.  Kasia lives a standard teenage life in Poland hanging out with her friends.  Herta is an up-and-coming female doctor trying to make her way in the world of only male doctors.  Once Germany invades Poland, the three lives are thrown into a whirlwind of fate that will ultimately cause their lives to cross in the most unexpected way.

Premise sounds really good, right?  You would think this was an exciting book to read and delve into, yes?  NO! NO! NO!  I was so beat down by this book and the war, yet again, as it went along.  Martha Hall Kelly writes the book from each point of view alternating chapters and it is written in first person (don’t get me started).  Now, the first person, I get (begrudgingly) because it allows the reader to fully engage in each woman’s personal life and thoughts on the world around them.

The downfall of the alternating points of view is that the author lost her rotation and you went from reading one woman, to the next woman, then the third balancing the alternation to reading one woman, to reading the next woman, then the next woman again, then finally the third.  This messed up alternation of chapters can confuse and break the reader’s engagement in the storyline.

The author did a good job in really ensuring her historical facts were correct and did give a disclosure on what was true events versus her freedom of imagination in the book.  I did appreciate that disclosure because so many times people will take great freedom with the facts of a historical work they are writing, that the reader, if unfamiliar with the time period, may actually believe all the events in the book are real.

If you are a historical fiction fan or a WWII fan or are fascinated with Hitler’s reign, this book is for you, but if not, I do not recommend you reading it.

I give The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading! 🙂

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Secret Wife by Gill Paul

Hello, Dear Bloggites!  I am back!  This book review is over the Books & Broads Book Club choice for May.  I am getting closer to the current month and I hope to finish June-October in the next five days.  I know, big challenge, but I am up for it now that I got my reading groove back on. 🙂

The Secret Wife by Gill PaulMay’s Book Club choice was The Secret Wife by Gill Paul.  I was dreading this one because it was once again a historical fiction novel set in the years 1914-2016.  Now, not all the years were touched like that last novel we read, but most of them were a chapter in the book.  Gill Paul wrote this book in a toggle effect between past and present which I am not a big fan of, but it was in the third person so that softened the blow.

The Secret Wife is about a love found, lost, and found again between Grand Duchess, Tatiana Romanov, and a Calvary Officer, Dmitri Malama, as well as, about a woman, Kitty Fisher, who has left her husband after he cheated on her and caused her to go to America and start to uncover the true story of her Great Grandfather, Dmitri.

The backdrop of the story is the war between Russia and Germany and the unrest of the citizens under the Romanov rule.  Dmitri and Tatiana first became acquainted when he was wounded in battle and she was assisting all the nurses to care for the soldiers who were brought in from the battlefield.  As the book toggles back to present day, you follow Kitty and her struggle to come to terms with her husband’s infidelity while finding out more secrets as she renovates her Great Grandfather’s cabin.

Gill Paul did a great job at creating complex characters which pulled at the reader’s emotions.  You rooted for true love to win out for Tatiana and Dmitri while rooting for Kitty to come to terms with what she actually wants to do with her life.  The imagery was well written for the readers and Gill Paul stayed true to what was known from historical documents while taking liberties with the “What if?” questions of the people you were reading about.

I enjoyed reading this novel and am always enthralled with the history of the world as I read these types of novels.  I may not be a hardcore Historical Fiction lover, but I think I am growing a crush on it. 🙂

I give The Secret Wife by Gill Paul 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Long time, no blog, Dear Bloggites.  Life loves to get in the way of my ability to blog.  ThisThe Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.jpg book review is very late and is over the novel my Books & Broads Book Club read in May.

The novel we read was The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.  The storyline was about a down and out architect, Lucien Bernard, who accepted a commission to create a hiding place inside a home for Auguste Manet during the German invasion of Paris, France.  The hiding place was for Manet to hide any Jewish people the Germans were searching for in Paris.  One of the twists in the novel was that Lucien, through Manet, also received commissions from the Germans to build military style compounds for additional weapons to be stored or made during the war.  This commission brought about an interesting friendship that was built between Lucien and a German officer, Dieter Herzog, who also was a structural engineer for his home country of Germany.

Intrigue is an appropriate word I would use for the overall theme of the storyline.  Living the double life through Lucien and Manet helped the reader find themselves investing in the good guys winning in the end while wanting the bad guys to suffer for the injustices they doled out to any Jew or Parisian.  The different descriptions of the various architectural buildings was fascinating to me.  I love architecture and have always had an infatuation with how architects were able to construct the amazing buildings I see.  Charles Belfoure helped the reader delve into the mind of an architect through Lucien.

That being said, Lucien is not a very likable character and many of my Books & Broads Book Club Mates did not like him even at the end of the book.  I found him to be very weak and selfish at the beginning of the book.  He was the type of person who always put himself first over all others, however, by the end I did warm up to him when he finally found his true calling in life.

The author, Charles Belfoure, did a wonderful job with addressing the war-time era without taking away from the storyline.  I cringe each time I am to read a book that has any kind of war theme behind it because I find too many novels lose the storyline in the description of the war atmosphere.

The characters throughout The Paris Architect were well developed and gave the reader some kind of emotional response, be it hate, love, disgust, admiration, etc., the reader did form an opinion on each character.  The descriptions of Paris during the invasion was just enough to give a visual in the reader’s head but not so much that it overpowers the characters in the novel.

I did feel the author left some of the characters unfinished in the story, so much, that I felt they served no purpose in the book.  I understand the author was looking to give some kind of visual of the Jewish people and the suffering they went through, but I felt each character was an afterthought thus putting a bit of a bad taste in my mouth for the story.   Aside from this factor, I did enjoy the novel, The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, and would consider reading additional novels by him.

I give The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Give it a whirl, Dear Bloggites, if you like to read about the challenges people faced during wartime.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.” ~Dr. Finch (in Harper Lee’s novel, Go Set A Watchman)

Go Set A Watchman by Harper LeeIt has been quite a while since I blogged about a book review.  Busy holiday schedules and family affairs have kept me from one of my favorite loves: reading.  In this book review, I will be reviewing our Books & Broads Book Club choice for January: Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman.

Harper Lee is best known from her novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird”, and some of the beloved characters in the novel are also in this novel as well.  Go Set A Watchman is about Scout, AKA Jean Louise, when she is coming of age and really seeing the world through her own eyes instead of the eye’s of her father, Atticus Finch.

I have always found Harper Lee an easy read and this book is no different.  When reading this book, I must warn you, Dear Bloggites, that there are some parts in the book where you have to have a thick skin in order to read through the bigotry sections.  Fortunately, there are not many parts that emphasize the segregation during the era of the book.  Most of the book is about how Jean Louise, AKA Scout, learns some harsh truths about life in her hometown after being gone for many years.

Harper Lee’s writing style provides a lot of historical information in this book and allows us to feel the turmoil that Jean Louise goes through as all that she ever believed in is now challenged and destroyed.  She begins to truly see her father as a man with flaws and not this god-like entity she had grown up believing.

The feelings throughout the book toggles between a strong, heady atmosphere to a light, playful atmosphere.  When Jean Louise is struggling with something, the author does a good job of creating that sense of heady feelings, however, when Jean Louise is interacting with some people, the author created the fun, playful feelings as you read along.

Go Set A Watchman lacks the depth of character strength as you read in “To Kill A Mockingbird”, but I think it is because this novel was technically the first novel Harper Lee ever wrote, even though the main character is older.

I give Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee 3 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P