Monthly Archives: January 2015

Review and Giveaway: Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb

My Review:
02_Rodin's LoverThis novel moves back and forth between the points of view of the famous French artist Auguste Rodin and his lover Camille Claudel.  They meet when Rodin becomes Camille’s teacher; she eventually is taken on as his apprentice and as a result they spend hours together working side by side.

The aspects of this book I like the most are the details about art, sculpture and the creative process.  One only sees the beautiful finished works of great artists in museums, but what one doesn’t see is the hard work, sacrifice and dedication behind these works.  Rodin and Camille are dedicated to their craft to the point where they no time for anything else and alienate other people in their lives.  The reason they are drawn together is that no one understands them like they understand each other.

There are a couple of issues that I did have with the book; some of the dialogue became monotonous, especially when Camille was arguing with her mother.  There is no affection or love between mother and daughter and they are constantly bickering.  Also, I would categorize the book as a light romance and the two lovers spend a lot of time thinking about and longing for each other but not actually together.  This is the case especially in the first half of the book which I found to lag more than the second part of the book.

Overall, RODIN’S LOVER is an interesting look at this famous artist and his process and inspiration.  Scroll down to the end of the post to win your own copy of the book!

About The Author:
01_Heather WebbHeather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing. Her debut, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, released January 2014 from Plume/Penguin. Her forthcoming novel, RODIN’S LOVER, will release in winter of 2015.

When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.

Giveaway:
This giveaway is for one paperback and open to US & Canadian residents only. Giveaway ends 2/13. Please leave a comment below and let me know you want to win!
Rules:
– Must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US & Canadian 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 will be notified via e-mail and will have 48 hours to respond.

Click on the tour banner below to see all of the stops on the book tour.  There are other chances to win the book and interviews with the author!

03_Rodin's Love_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

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Review: Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

I received and advanced review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley

My Review:
Etta and OttoOtto Vogel comes from a family of fifteen children that live on a farm in rural Saskatchewan.  Russell, when he is nine years old, is sent to live with his aunt and uncle who are neighbors of the Vogel family.  Russell plays with the Vogel children, eats with the family and does a fair share of chores on their farm and thus becomes the honorary 16th member of the Vogel family.

Otto, against the wishes of his mother, joins the army and is shipped to Europe when World War II breaks out.  Otto keeps up a correspondence with the teacher at the local school whose name is Etta.  Through their letters they fall in love and when Otto gets back to Canada they marry and have a long and happy life together.  Russell, who lives next door, becomes just as good friends with Etta as he has been with Otto.

The story flashes back from the present when Etta, Otto, and Russell are in their eighties to the younger years of the Vogel farm when Otto and Russell are children, to Otto’s experiences in World War II and to Etta’s life with her family before she meets Otto and Russell.  The writing style of the novel is very curt and direct and mimics the simplicity of the characters themselves.

When Etta is 83, she is starting to lose her memories and she decides that she has never seen the ocean and decides to walk from Manitoba to Halifax.  Along the way she meets a coyote named Russell who becomes her loyal traveling companion. For the first time in their lives, Etta, Otto, and Russell each pursue separate paths from one another.  Etta walks for months towards the east, Otto stays at home making paper mache animals and Russell goes up north in search of wildlife.

Although they have been together for their entire lives, it seems that the more they are apart, the more they lose themselves and their identities.  They each feel compelled to pursue separate goals at the end of their lives, but can they ever really break the strong ties that have held them together for so many years?

This is a heart-warming story of family, love, memory and personal identity.  ETTA, AND OTTO AND RUSSELL AND JAMES is a quick and easy read but one that will resonate in your heart and memory for a long time to come.

About The Author:
Emma HooperBooks about Places and People. Songs about Dinosaurs and Insects. Research about Pop Music and Robots. Emma lives, writes, plays and teaches in Bath, England, but goes home to Canada to cross-country ski as often as she can

 

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Review: Adam Bede by George Eliot

We are expecting a blizzard here in the Northeast, so I have the perfect, classic book for you to get snowed in with for the long duration!

My Review:

Adam BedeThe strength of this book lies in the sympathetic, well-rounded and moving characters which Eliot portrays in a 19th Century bucolic setting.  The centerpiece of the book, of course, is Adam Bede himself, a simple but hard-working carpenter who strives to be good at his craft and a dutiful son and brother.  His loyalty and strength of character are admired by all those around him, rich and poor and young and old alike.

In contrast to Adam is Arthur Donnithorne who is the heir to his grandfather’s estates.  As a member of the landed gentry he is held in high esteem simply by virtue of his position in society.  He is younger than Adam and more brash; as a consequence of his youth and perhaps his privileged upbringing he does not take into consideration the consequences of his actions.  And where Adam is always honest and forthright, Arthur will quickly make up lies to cover his indiscretions.

The dramatic juxtaposition of the female characters in the novel is equally fascinating.  Hetty Sorrel, a simple farm girl who spends her days working in her Aunt Poyser’s dairy, wants so desparately to escape her life of hard work and monotony.  Hetty’s life is consumed with thoughts of possessing pretty things, making the most of her outward appearance, and attracting a man who will adorn her with finery.

Dinah, Hetty’s cousin by marriage, is a woman who has adopted Methodist beliefs and actually seeks out others who are suffering; she gives comfort to the poor, sick and dying and cares nothing for earthly possessions.  Dinah also has no interest in marriage or children for fear that these things will be a distraction to her religious and spiritual calling.

Eliot’s minor characters are rich in detail and offer some comic relief. Mrs. Poyser, a wife of one of the tenant farmers, does not hold back from speaking her mind, even to old Mr. Donnithorne whose upkeep of their rented farm does not impress her.  Mrs. Poyser’s cherubic daughter Totty loves her family and is the happiest of little girls as she grows up amidst the animals, gardens and dairy on the Hall Farm.

This multi varied cast of characters are entangled in interesting plot twists that surprised me more than a few times.  Love triangles, lies, romance and even a shocking crime will keep you turning the pages of this book until the very end.  ADAM BEDE is a remarkable piece of 19th Century British literature and a great place to start of you are interested in reading George Eliot.

Many classic books such as Adam Bede are free to download on your Kindle.  Click here to go to Amazon and get this book free.

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Review: After The War Is Over by Jennifer Robson

Today I welcome TLC book tours back to the blog with an historical fiction novel set in Britain just after World War I.  In invite you to read my review and visit the other stops on the book tour.

My Review:
After the War is OverCharlotte works in an office in Liverpool that tries to find help for the poor and destitute.  The circumstances of many families has become dire especially since The Great War has ended.  Veterans are coming home wounded and unable to work and women are left widows with children to feed.

Jennifer Robson vividly portrays the sadness and destruction that has been left in the wake of the war; everyone in England has been affected by this deadly and costly conflict.  There are several sub plots in the book that will give the reader a better appreciation of the variety of ways in which men and women from all walks of life had their lives altered by World War I.

Charlotte served as a nurse in a hospital in London that specialized in helping veterans from shell shock; her memories of the patients she helped there always haunt her.  But when her old friend, Edward, comes home from the war a changed man, she uses her expertise as a nurse to try and help him recover from his trauma.

There is obviously a history between Charlotte and Edward and the narrative flashes back to the time they spent together before the war.  But since they are from very different social classes, Charlotte assumes that they will never be romantically involved.  The scenes in the book in which Edward and Charlotte are getting to know each other were my favorite parts of the book.  My only complaint about the book is that Robson did not include more interaction between these two characters.

Overall, AFTER THE WAR IS OVER is a fantastic read if you have an interest in historical fiction set during and after World War I.

 

About The Author:
Jennifer RobsonJennifer Robson first learned about the Great War from her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and young children.

Please click on the TLC tour banner below to see the additional stops on this book tour:

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Review: Black River by S.M. Hulse

I received an advanced review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

My Review:
Black RiverThis is a simple yet moving book about love, loss, redemption and forgiveness.  Wesley Carver lives in the small town of Black River, Montana.  Like most of the adult males in this town, he works as a corrections officer for the State’s maximum security prison.  Although his job is difficult and stressful, it pays the bills and supports his wife Claire and his stepson.

Wesley’s entire world is changed when one day a riot breaks out at the prison and he is held captive by one of the prisoners and is tortured for 39 hours.  Wesley’s fingers are horribly deformed and he can longer play music, which was one of his favorite hobbies and escapes.  Wesley learns that the man who caused him such harm and grief is up for parole; he has so many other problems to deal with in his life, but can he let the hearing go without saying a word about his unspeakable suffering caused by this inmate?

To make matters even worse, Wesley’s home life deteriorates when his stepson Dennis becomes belligerent and angry.  Dennis points a loaded gun on Wesley after an argument, so Wesley decides to take his wife and move 4 hours away to Spokane, Washington.  We can’t help but feel sorry for Claire who is torn between allegiance to her husband and concern for her son.

This novel makes us reflect and ask ourselves, when someone has harmed us and wronged us, can we ever truly forgive?  Can old grudges be laid aside and forgotten?  Does anyone ever truly change and learn from his or her mistakes?  The author’s simple, yet eloquent writing and flawed, yet likeable characters provide the reader with so many themes and issues to ponder.

BLACK RIVER is an emotional, heart-wrenching read.  I encourage you to delve into this book and follow Wesley on his emotional journey through healing, forgiveness, loss and soul-searching.

About The Author:
SM HulseS. M. Hulse received her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon and was a fiction fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her stories have appeared in Willow Springs, Witness, and Salamander. A horsewoman and fiddler, she has spent time in Washington, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.

 

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