Monthly Archives: August 2014

Review- Edmund Persuader: A Romance by Stuart Shotwell

If you  enjoy the style and setting of Jane Austen’s novels then you will love Edmund Persuader. In fact, I was searching for books similar to Austen when I found this novel. There is currently a giveaway on Goodreads to win lots of copies of this fantastic book. The link is at the bottom of this page after my review.

Edmund PersuaderI received Edmund Persuader as a Goodreads giveaway and I am so delighted that I did. I do not say this lightly, but it is one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read. This is a very long book and is actually 2 volumes. But even after having read all 1500 pages, I was disappointed when it was over. So do not be discouraged by its length.

This novel is set in the early 19th century with Edmund Percy as the main character. He is the third son of a proud English gentleman and Edmund’s older brother Christopher will inherit the family estate. Edmund has studied Theology at Oxford and plans to enter the Church to earn his living. However, just before he takes orders, he is asked by his father to visit the West Indies and straighten out the family’s sugar cane plantation which has been abandoned by a corrupt estate manager.

While living in the Caribbean, Edmund has a crisis of faith as he learns about the brutally harsh lives of slaves that are used to work his family’s plantation. He also meets, falls in love with, and has a sexual relationship with a mulatto slave. This brings about a second moral crisis because he believes he has committed fornication and can in no way serve in the Church of England after committing such a sin.

When Edmund finally travels back to England and takes his orders, he finds his way to his Aunt Andromeda in Hampshire who, widowed and childless, serves as a second mother to him. It is in Hampshire that he receives a position in the church, first as curate and then later as rector. While in Hampshire he meets and falls in love with daughter of a local squire. It is evident, as the novel unfolds, that she is also deeply in love with Edmund as well but she has a dark secret that keeps her from accepting his offer of marriage. Edmund must find out what this secret is and use his keen powers of persuasion to win over the object of his desire.

There are several themes that this book explores about the struggles of men and women in 19th century England. Edmund finds great pleasure in his physical relationship with the mulatto slave in Antigua and he fears that he will never find a proper English woman who will also fulfill his physical needs. The theme of pride and the mistakes and prejudices that are the result of excessive pride are also explored.

This book makes us contemplate the fact that humans make mistakes but that these mistakes can be overcome through redemption and the love of others. The most important theme in this book is that, although we may feel at times that it is impossible to affect changes in society at large, it is important that we show kindness, love and understanding to those in our immediate circle on whose lives we can have a more immediate and positive effect. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves historical fiction, a great story and engaging characters.

The publisher is giving away a lot of copies of this book on Goodreads. Head over to that site to enter the giveaway and add it to your “To Read” list.

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For more information on this book and to read an interview with the author visit the Edmund Persuader Website

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Filed under Historical Fiction, Literature/Fiction

Review: Hostage-Kidnapped On the High Seas by Linda Davies (A Memoir)

Today I am very excited to welcome Sage’s Blog Tours to the Book Binder’s Daughter with a memoir entitled Hostage: Kidnapped On the High Seas by Linda Davies. I invite you to read my review, learn a little about the author and visit the other stops on the book tour.

My Review:
HOSTAGECOVERLinda, her husband Rupert and three children are British expats living in Dubai.  One bright and sunny autumn day they, along with their Australian Captain named Brad, take their catamaran out for a sail on the Persian Gulf.  When they try to moore on the island of Abu Musa they do not realize it is occupied by militarized Iranian forces and they are captured at gunpoint.  Linda, Rupert and Brad feel that at any moment they could be shot.  The men who captured them do not speak very good English, so they are never quite sure of what is going on.

The three captives are finally taken to men on the island who speak better English and are interrogated.  Their captors are afraid that they are spies and taking pictures of the military base.  How can Linda and Rupert convince their captors that they are tourists who have simply sailed to the wrong island?  After two days of being constantly interrogated that are put on a rickety plane and flown to Iran.

Linda also fills in the back story of how her family moved to Dubai and she gives us details about the beauty she sees in the place.  Even though she is terrified once she is in Iran, she also manages to be observant of her surroundings and gives us a description of that country as well.  The memoir also serves to educate the reader about Islamic customs such as how they dress, how they treat family and how they celebrate holidays.

The hardest part of being held hostage is the time that Linda and her husband had to spend away from their children.  They did manage to talk their captors into letting them have brief phone calls with their sons and daughter.  Linda and Rupert were adept at inventing ways to stay calm and sane under such stressful circumstances.  They would play Boggle, read, watch movies, exercise and even pray.  They are living proof that the human spirit is capable of  being remarkably strong under situations of extreme duress.

The end of the book deals with the aftermath of their captivity which also had a lasting impression on their children.  Linda reminds us that despite suffering horrible tragedies that we can and must move on with our lives and learn from our experiences.  This memoir is an inspiring and uplifting read.

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About The Author:

Linda Author PhotoLinda Davies is half Welsh, half Danish, or half Celt, half Viking, and loves myths, legends of warriors and the sea. A graduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, she worked for seven years an as investment banker in New York, London and Easter Europe before escaping to write novels. She grew up steeped in economics as both her late father, Professor Glyn Davies and her late brother, Professor John Davies, were economists. Like them, she believes that economics is more art than science and she particularly enjoys delving into the emotions of markets and market makers, both the honest (yes, they do exist!) and the fraudsters, many of whom remain invisible.

Her first Novel, Nest of Vipers, has been published in over thirty countries, selling over two million copies. It has also been optioned three times by major Hollywood studios. Linda has written four more novels for adults which have all been published internationally; Wilderness of Mirrors, Into the Fire, Something Wild and Final Settlement. She is known for her portrayal of strong, independent and rebellious women in extreme situations. Linda lived in Peru for three years, and in the Middle East for eight years, during which time she was kidnapped by Iranian government forces and held hostage for two weeks in Iran. After UK government intervention, she was freed.

Linda writes for Young Adults too. Her first series, the Djinn Quintet – Sea Djinn, Fire Djinn, Storm Djinn and King of the Djinn (and in time War of the Djinn) – has been optioned by Hollywood producer, Sandy Climan.

As well as writing novels, Linda also writes for The Times, Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, Independent and the Guardian newspapers in the UK, and the National Theatre. She is a winner of the Philip Geddes Prize for journalism. Linda is married with three children. She lives by the sea in Suffolk.

Follow Linda On Twitter: @LindaDaviesAuth

Click on the banner below to see the full list of stops on the blog tour:

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Filed under Nonfiction

Review and Giveaway: Darcy’s Tale by Stanley Michael Hurd

Austen In August

I am thrilled to be taking part in the Austen in August event.  Thanks so much to Lost Generation Reader for organizing such a great literary exchange.  Jane Austen has been one of my favorite authors since I was in high school.  Please click on the image above to see the full list of blogs participating in this event.  I will be reviewing Darcy’s Tale Volume III: The Way Home and giving away a copy of Darcy’s Tale Volume I: Into Hertfordshire so that you can get started on the series (open internationally).

Review:

Last fall I decided to reread all of Jane Austen’s works, including my favorite novel which is Pride and Prejudice. After I finished Austen’s works I was still eager for more of Austen’s stories and became curious about the genre of Austen fan fiction that is so popular. I was particularly looking for a novel that would give me the story of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s perspective and in my search I came across Stanley Michael Hurd’s books. I quickly devoured Darcy’s Tale Volumes I and II and I was Darcy's Taledisappointed to find that I would have to wait for summer to read Volume III. But it was well worth the wait.

I believe that of all the characters in what is arguably Austen’s most famous work, Darcy is the one who undergoes the biggest transformation. From the time of his prideful proposal to Elizabeth at Rosings, to his encounter with her at Pemberly he is a changed and humbled man. I, like many others,  have wondered what exactly happened during this time to make him reassess his attitude and approach towards Elizabeth. Stanley Michael Hurd’s latest book Darcy’s Tale Volume III: The Way Home fills in the story of Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s perspective and picks up Darcy’s story just after the failed proposal.

In Darcy’s Tale Volume III, Darcy is at first angry at his rejected offer but he admits that he still loves Elizabeth and he cannot stop thinking about her. After a heart to heart talk with his aunt, Lady Andover, who is also Colonel Fitzwilliam’s mother, he understands the error of his ways. He vows if he ever sees Elizabeth again that he will prove to her that he is a humbled man and a true gentleman.

This book also fills in the details about Darcy’s involvement in tracking down Wickham and Lydia. I enjoyed this part of the book because it showed us a more daring and adventurous side of Mr. Darcy of Pemberly. Colonel Fitzwilliam is also a character in this part of the book which is very interesting since in Pride and Prejudice he has a very limited role.

The final part of the book, as one would expect, deals with Bingley’s proposal to Jane, Darcy’s successful proposal to Elizabeth and the double wedding. Georgiana is also a character who features prominently in these books and it was delightful to see her grow from being shy and unsure of herself to a true friend and sister to Elizabeth.  I truly enjoyed all three volumes in this set and if you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice then all three volumes of Darcy’s Tale are a must read.

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Giveaway (Open Internationally):

Darcy's Tale V1In order to get you started on this great series, I am giving away a copy of Darcy’s Tale Volume I: Into Hertfordshire.   Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite Jane Austen novel is.  I will randomly pick a winner on August 28th and email the winner.  This giveaway is open internationally as long as you can receive an Amazon gift code.  If you live in the U.S. you may choose an electronic or hard copy of the book.

*The winner of the giveaway is Sylvia.  Thanks so much to everyone who entered!

Thanks for stopping by my blog.  If you like what you read, please feel free to sign up for The Book Binder’s Daughter via email on the sidebar so you don’t miss any posts or giveaways.

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Filed under Classics, Giveaways, Historical Fiction

Review: Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Mean Streak is  a riveting book and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.  I resisted the mystery/suspense genre for a long time but I have read 3 great books this summer in this genre that I really enjoyed, and Mean Streak is among them.

Mean StreakThere is so much content to the plot of this book that I am eager to write about, but I also don’t want to give too much away.  At the core of the book is the story of Emory Chardonneau, a well-respected and hardworking physician who likes to run marathons.  One weekend while she is training in the remote hills of North Carolina, Emory suffers a blow to the head and wakes up in a remote cabin with a man hovering over her that she has never seen before.  Can she trust this man to help her or is he a threat?  This stranger will not give her any details about his life, not even his name.  Emory spends four days with this unnamed man and her experiences with him challenge her very neat, well-ordered and uncomplicated life.

Sandra Brown has the ability to provide us with entertaining characters who range from heroic and likeable, to downright bad and morally bankrupt.  The two police officers who are investigating Emory’s disappearance seem, on the surface, like simple cops who don’t know how to conduct an investigation.  However, they are much more savvy than their southern accents and laid back investigating techniques make them seem.

We also find in Mean Streak the typical characters a reader might expect in a suspense novel such as the tired FBI agent addicted to his job, the suspicious husband that is having an affair, and the unpredictable scary bad guys with no morals or scruples.  But the way in which Sandra Brown slowly unravels the plot and intertwines each character into that plot, makes the characters anything but ordinary or mundane.

If you want a great book that will keep you guessing until the very last page, then make Mean Streak one of your final “must-read” summer books.

*Thanks so much to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book through Netgalley.

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Filed under Mystery/Thriller, Summer Reading

Review: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Dear Committee MembersHave you ever been called upon to write a letter of recommendation for a person whose qualifications you are unsure of?  This book, which is the epistolary style, is a collection of recommendations letters from a college English professor who does not hesitate to say what he really thinks about the true qualities of the persons for which he is writing the recommendations.

Jay Fitger is a tenured English professor at a small university in the Midwest.  His department has been suffering from severe budget cuts, the building in which the department is located is a bio hazard and his love life and personal life are a mess.   We find out all of this information about Jay through a series of absolutely hilarious letters of recommendations he is asked to write for students, colleagues and friends.

I have to admit that the epistolary style did take some getting used to.  But by the time I was reading the third letter I was laughing out loud and kept finding my husband so I could read the letters to him as well.  Jay’s letters contain the brutal truth that we want to write when we are composing a letter, but which most of us have the tact and diplomacy not to include.

Jay also underscores the sad state of humanities in academia today.  He believes that his favorite graduate student has some real potential as a writer and several of the letters are on his student’s behalf.  His student is reduced to living in poverty and his graduation is threatened by a lack of funding to finish his degree.

Each letter is a masterpiece and Julie Schumacher’s writing is simply brilliant.  My only criticism of the book is that I wanted to know more background about the characters.  How and why did Jay’s marriage fall apart?  Why is there such a rift among the members of Jay’s English Department?  DEAR COMMITTEE MEMBERS is a must read for anyone who has been called upon to write a letter of recommendation.

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Filed under Humor, Literature/Fiction