Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.
The Duke's remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he'll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec's new best friend.
But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.
Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what's between them...all without getting caught.
K.J. Charles is one of the romance authors that I found out about on Twitter and now is an autobuy for me. I was thrilled when she offered ARCs of this book to readers.
A lot of her books that I’ve read previously have focused on people who aren’t part of the gentry. That has been a major part of the appeal for me. This one crosses class lines into upper crust society and I think that wasn’t as enjoyable for me as her previous books. Still, the premise is inventive.
An upper class man has abandoned his children because they vocally opposed his second marriage. The children are adults and they are living in poverty with some terrible consequences. Alec decides to get back at his father by hiring thieves to steal the showy anniversary present that his father plans to give his wife. However, to get close to his father he’ll have to pretend to abandon his principles to get back to a life of leisure. This is going to alienate him from his siblings who don’t know that he has another motive.
This conflict between what he believes and the pretense that he needs to keep up tears at him. He has no practice or talent at being underhanded at all. For help he’s reliant on the con man he hired to coach him and who he is very drawn to.
I like more slow burn and not much sex on the page in my romance books. That’s definitely not what you get in these books. This relationship has a dominance-submission aspect to it. It is handled well and respectfully to both parties. I would recommend this book if you like historical romances that aren’t just ladies looking for dukes.
At my office we subscribe to the local newspaper. We do this because of the police blotter. Crime is rampant in this town because of drugs so most the stories are tragic but there is also a whole lot of really stupid crime that is hysterically funny. I take pictures of the best and post them on Facebook to entertain my family members.
In addition to the police blotter, there is a columnist who is an idiot. He reduces me to an absolute blithering mess every week mostly through his inability to write a sentence. If you can’t write a sentence using proper English rules perhaps you shouldn’t have a job writing sentences for publication. Just a thought. It isn’t even that he is grammatically challenged. He doesn’t even try. He appears to literally write down the thoughts in his brain in a free-form, free associating manner. He starts the first paragraph or two in a standard manner and then it devolves into sentence fragments with no attempts at punctuation in ways that would make ee cummings cry into his soup.
By the end he is thinking of things that existed in his childhood and is just listing them. There are toys and sayings and tv shows. It is just a list. It occurs to me while writing this that you are never going to believe me so I will insert a picture of a recent column.
See? Anyway the point of this, is that this columnist infuriates me. He makes me want to write very angry letters to the editor. I am approaching my dotage but I’m not quite to the Angry Letters to the Newspaper stage yet. Also I am embarrassed that I am letting this horrible person manipulate me in this way. He’s too insignificant to upset me this much but at the same time, “Aaaaaaaaaaaggggh!”
He makes me tear at my hair when he states with confidence that certain things no longer exist. Even if he has not seen them lately, maybe 10 seconds should be invested on Google before declaring things extinct.
Things he as declared extinct recently:
School nurses – He knows they don’t exist any more because schools would be sued for letting people practice medicine without training. Of course, they do exist and they even have training because that’s what the term “nurse” implies to any rational human being and now I’m about to scream again.
Comic books – Oh dearie me. Maybe you don’t see displays down to the ol’ Five and Dime anymore but I assure you that comic books are alive and well. Five seconds of googling brings up articles about why comics are so popular today.
Anyway, what has pushed me over the edge is his assertion one week, apropos of seemingly nothing, that women who leave their purse in their shopping cart deserve to have it stolen.
This made me so blisteringly angry that it has taken me days to make a rational response. First of all, sir, why are you chastising women for not guarding their purses in what you perceive to be an appropriate way instead of using your platform to tell people not to steal? Is that too hard of a leap of imagination for you to make? How can you possibly tell potential thieves to behave themselves? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people stood up to wrong doers instead of constantly telling the innocent that you need to protect yourself better from people who mean you harm?
I know you won’t understand my next point and will probably think I’m being overly dramatic. I assume you might even think of me as hysterical or hormonal because you seem like that kind of man. But when I read a man telling me that is my responsibility to keep from being robbed I also hear your unspoken next thoughts. It moves from “She turned her back on her purse. No wonder she was robbed.” to “She went out at night. She was just asking to be raped.” Men may think of this as a huge leap. We know it isn’t. It is all the same. It is all our fault. Stay in our place. Protect ourselves. Don’t imagine a world where more attention is spent controlling the behavior of the ones who would hurt us than controlling us. That will never be what the world is. Well, of course, it won’t with people who think like you running around.
This is the patriarchy. This is the inability to imagine and fight for a better world. This is a world where it is easier to push down and keep people in their place. It starts with something simple, something benign. Who is going to so upset about being told what to do with their purse? Hopefully, we all are. Hopefully, we will push back against those who tell us to limit our freedom in the smallest of ways in order to limit our freedom in larger ways. We can imagine a better world. Now get out of the way and let us make it.
That’s what I want to say to this man. I scream inside with frustration knowing that he will never understand. He’ll never care. He seems like the type who would go on about how everyone is so sensitive these days and never understand his role is making us this way.
Sandi Ward's shrewdly observed, funny, and wonderfully touching novel tells of a fractured family, a teenage boy, and a remarkable cat whose loyalty knows no bounds . . .
A boy and his cat. It's an unconventional friendship, perhaps, but for Charlie and Lily, it works beautifully. It was Charlie who chose Lily from among all the cats in the shelter. He didn't frown, the way other humans did, when he saw her injured back leg, the legacy of a cruel previous owner. Instead, Charlie insisted on rescuing her. Now Lily wants to do the same for Charlie.
She's the only one who's seen the bruises on Charlie's body. If she knew who was hurting him, she'd scratch their eyes out. But she can't fix this by herself. Lily needs to get the rest of the family to focus on Charlie--not easy when they're wrapped up in their own problems. Charlie's mother kicked his father out weeks ago and has a new boyfriend who seems charming, but is still a stranger. Oldest son Kevin misses his father desperately. Victoria, Charlie's sister, also has someone new in her life, and Lily is decidedly suspicious. Even Charlie's father, who Lily loves dearly, is behaving strangely.
Lily knows what it's like to feel helpless. But she also knows that you don't always have to be the biggest or the strongest to fight fiercely for the ones you love . . .
Praise for Sandi Ward's The Astonishing Thing "A beautiful and touching look into the intricacies of marriage and family life, all seen through the loving and unique perspective of the family pet." --Modern Cat "The Astonishing Thing feels like a bit of a miracle and we all could use a miracle." --Holly Chamberlin, author of The Summer Nanny
This story about a family in crisis isn’t something that I would normally be drawn to without the twist of having it narrated by the family cat.
This isn’t a cutesy cat story. Lily doesn’t have magical powers to be able to solve problems or talk to the dog or send messages to humans. She is just observant and knows what anyone who is truly watching what is going on would know. The problem is that her humans just aren’t paying attention to each other enough.
This is a simple read that compels you to keep reading to find out what is going to happen. I read it in a day because I wanted to know what was going on in this family. I can’t say that I’m thrilled with all the choices the humans make at the end of the book but that’s humans for you. Sometimes they should listen more to their pets.
Because I know this is a major concern with animal characters in books, I’ll let you know that nothing bad happens to either Lily or Gretel the dog during the book. Both of them have previously had human-inflicted injuries that they have recovered from at the start of the book.
About Sandi Ward
Sandi Ward writes books about love, family, forgiveness…and cats.
Sandi grew up in Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts, and received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University. She’s the author of book club novels published by Kensington Books, stories of dysfunctional families told from the point of view of the family cat. She’s also a medical copywriter at an advertising agency. She lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, teenagers, dog and a large black cat named Winnie.
On December 18, 2018 her latest novel, SOMETHING WORTH SAVING, will be on sale (available now for pre-order) in trade paperback, e-book and audio book.
What if Time Travel were real? What if Time Travelers from 300 years in the future told you that there was a chance that you could prevent catastrophic climate change, plagues, and wars by going back in time to key Pivot Points and ethically altering the outcome of rigged elections? What if failure would result in the destruction of the biosphere? Would you go?
In post-plague 2050 Britain, palm trees tower over the rice paddies of Stonehenge. Tara MacFarlane, a weary 96-year-old anthropologist originally from Taos, New Mexico, longs only to finish out her life in peaceful Buddhist meditation, and rejoin the great love of her later years, the humanitarian Scottish-Afghan doctor Xander, in a future incarnation. Suddenly one stifling autumn day Tara, her great-granddaughter Leona, and Leona’s boyfriend Janus are faced with a trio of Time Travelers from a future alternate Timeline where humanity and the eco-system survived and thrived.
The fate of Earth’s biosphere falls squarely on the shoulders of Tara, Leona, Janus, and Tara’s small gray cat, Georgie, who shows a surprising aptitude for telepathy. Time is short to reverse catastrophe that will bleed through into the alternate Timeline, and the Time Travelers must first determine the ideal Pivot Points by reading Time Code vibrations off the great standing stones of Avebury. Unexpectedly joined by the brave and wise cat Georgie, the six plunge into the Time Circle of Stonehenge on their mission. Where and when will they go, and will they succeed in restoring the Earth and humanity to balance?
There is a lot going on in this book. The Earth has lost most of its population due to plagues and climate change. A group of humans living in the now-tropical area of Stonehenge are suddenly visited by people claiming to be from the future.
The story is told in flashbacks and in the current timeline to show how humans managed to destroy the planet in such a short period of time. The main characters are Buddhists who have invested a lot of their lives into meditation and spiritual practice. They apply what they have learned through that to help try to heal the planet. A lot of this isn’t explained in much detail, if at all. The visitors from the future have a lot of special powers that they are unable to explain. They explain it as using readily available technology in their world but it can come across as sort of lazy story telling like, “Oh, look, she can project holograms of different timelines from her head. How, you ask? Um, technology…”
The group needs to go back to key points in history to change things. (They basically need to prevent the 1980s.)
There is a cat who plays a vital part in the story and is able to speak mind to mind with his people. He is known forever as Georgie, the first Time Traveling cat. I approve of cats with good communication skills.
This book reminds me so much of The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk. Both books feature a very elderly woman as the main protagonist. She joins forces with her chosen family to prevent a disaster through spiritual/magical means.
About the Author
Debra Denker has been writing stories since she learned to read. Although novels and poetry were her first loves, she turned her talent to journalism in the ‘70s and ‘80s, writing about Afghanistan and the refugee situation in Pakistan for National Geographic and many leading newspapers. She has specialized in social documentation utilizing journalism, photography, and film to convey the experiences of people in war torn areas, with the intention of stimulating the empathy necessary for humans to stop violence against people and planet.
Denker is the author of two published books, the non-fiction literary memoir Sisters on the Bridge of Fire: One Woman’s Journeys in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and the novel War in the Land of Cain—a story of love, war, and moral choices set during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980’s.
Denker now writes for the award-winning conservation media website, Voices for Biodiversity, raising consciousness to help ward off the Sixth Great Extinction.
She currently lives in Santa Fe with her family of cats, Dorjee Purr-ba, Yeshe Gyalpo, and Samadhi Timewalker, but travels frequently in earthly space, and hopes to travel in time and galactic space.
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I did it. I cleared out all my library books and review books. (I’ve written so many blog posts in the last week, y’all. I’m booked up until the middle of the month and I’m doubling up today so I get to talk about stuff.)
Sometimes when I can suddenly read anything I want with no library deadlines, I get paralyzed by having so many choices. This time though I started on my #Blackathon TBR list.
I’ve been waiting to read this novella that takes place during the Reluctant Royals series. In the first book, Lakotsi, the assistant to the Prince, has a brief romance that goes bad. This is the story of what happened. It isn’t absolutely necessary to read the first book to understand this novella.
I loved this book. I’m not usually a fan of second chance romances but this was done well. The original romance was just a few dates and then they meet again a year later.
“Andy Bramante left his successful career as a corporate scientist to teach public high school–and now helms one of the most remarkable classrooms in America. Bramante’s unconventional class at Connecticut’s prestigious yet diverse Greenwich High School has no curriculum, tests, textbooks, or lectures, and is equal parts elite research lab, student counseling office, and teenage hangout spot. United by a passion to learn, Mr. B.’s band of whiz kids set out every year to conquer the brutally competitive science fair circuit. They have won the top prize at the Google Science Fair, made discoveries that eluded scientists three times their age, and been invited to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.”
This is my current audiobook. At times I find it a bit stressful listening to all that these kids are doing.
I went on another library reserving spree for #blackathon books. Nothing I want except for a few graphic novels is available right now so I’m assuming that they’ll all come in at once. In the mean time, I’m going to go with what is on my iPad.
6 white women, 3 African-American women, 1 Afro-Latina woman, 1 Korean-American man, and 1 white man
Which ones would I totally NOT recommend?
Usually I say which ones I would totally recommend but everything was pretty good this month. You really won’t go wrong with any of them with the exception of From the Corner of the Oval which has way too little political stuff and way too much drunkeness, poor life choices, and toxic relationships.
I’m participating in #Blackathon in February. It has been expanded to all month. I’ve already read the group book, The Poet X, which was amazing.
I recently went to a book discussion at my local art museum. They had chosen Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti to read to complement a traveling exhibition called Dig by Jeff Donaldson.
He was an African-American artist in the 1960s who did multimedia work. He did collages and paintings. His work tied together African art from the past by using motifs from several African countries in addition to modern images. I loved the whole exhibit.
By far my favorite piece was one called One 4 Bearden.
Obviously the first thing I saw was the image of a harpist partially made up by quilt blocks. Perfect for me. Seriously, this wants to come and live at my house. I was so sad that there were no available reproductions available to buy. The museum gift shop didn’t have anything about this exhibit. I was there with my money out ready to buy.
Anyway, look at the top corners and you see the Egyptian harpists in the background. The more you look the more you see. The whole exhibit was like this.
The discussion was ok. I’m a Nnedi Okorafor nerd. I’ve read all her books and I follow her on Twitter. So people would reference stuff in the biography in Binti and it took all my self control not to be like, “That’s a few years out of date. She’s moved on from there because….” Don’t go all super fangirl on the nice people. You’ll scare the muggles who are talking about never really reading sci-fi much. They liked the book and are talking about reading more of her books. Let that stand as is.
I loved the idea of picking a book to complement the traveling exhibits. They only do it a few times a year but I’ll definitely see what they chose next even if it means going out in public and talking to strangers.
The hysterical, clever, and unforgettable sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.
What's next for Allan Karlsson? Turns out this centenarian has a few more adventures in store . . .
It all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views, but they’re not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship, and they could never have imagined that the captain of the ship would be harboring a suitcase full of contraband uranium, on a nuclear weapons mission for Kim Jong-un. Yikes!
Soon Allan and Julius are at the center of a complex diplomatic crisis involving world figures from the Swedish foreign minister to Angela Merkel and President Trump. Needless to say, things are about to get very, very complicated.
Another hilarious, witty, and entertaining novel from bestselling author Jonas Jonasson that will have readers howling out-loud at the escapades and misfortunes of its beloved hundred-year-old hero Allan Karlsson and his irresistible sidekick Julius.
I read the previous book, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared several years ago. I would sum it up as sort of Swedish Forrest Gump. Allan Karlsson managed to be a part of most of the major events in the 20th century. I don’t remember much more that that.
That didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this book. In fact, I think you really don’t have to have read the first book in order to pick up this one. All you need to know is that Allan escaped his nursing home in Sweden and through a series of adventures has found himself in Bali accompanied by a petty thief named Julius and a suitcase full of money that is rapidly running out due to the rate at which they are spending it.
This book focuses on Allan and Julius and their interaction with current events. My husband wandered in at one point when I was reading and asked what the book was about. That’s a hard question. Here’s what I told him.
“A hot air balloon ride goes wrong which leads to them being picked up by a North Korean ship smuggling uranium. They convince the captain they have the ability to fix the North Korean nuclear program but actually escape with the uranium and head to New York. There they meet Donald Trump but decide not to give him the uranium because he seems unhinged. So they give it to the German ambassador under false pretenses along with a note to Angela Merkel written on three napkins telling her not to be too mad that they tricked the ambassador.”
He just nodded and walked away.
That was before they started dealing in coffins caskets. If you like books full of absurdity, this is for you. If you like books that work in lots of anti-Trump rhetoric, you’ll love this one extra. There is a joke very early on about how polar bears should start walking south to stay ahead of the ice caps melting but not all the way to the U.S. because although they are white, they are still foreigners. That made me laugh hard and settle in for the ride.
About Jonas Jonasson
Jonas Jonasson is the author of the international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, now a major motion picture. Prior to his success as a novelist, Jonas was a journalist for the Swedish newspaper Expressen for many years, and later became a media consultant and founded a production company specializing in sporting events for Swedish television, which he sold before moving abroad to work on his first novel. He is the author of the internationally successful novels The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All. He lives on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.
I’m writing this on Sunday and I’ve been on a bit of a writing spree. It occurred to me that I have a bunch of things that I want to write about but I just haven’t been writing. I need to fix this. I have commentary on things around me. I have funny things to say. At least I find them amusing. I have books to read and review because once upon a time I said, “Sure! That sounds interesting” to a bunch of review books that were due at the end of January/early February and surely I’d get them read by then. (Must power-read this week!) For the love of all that is bloggable, I went to freakin’ FRANCE in NOVEMBER but you wouldn’t know about it from reading my blog.
I’m that person. I’m the one holding up the library line because this book is past due and I haven’t sent it back to the library. I feel bad (mostly about the fines accruing) but I’m in the first term of the presidency. I’ll be done soon except time reading this is time I’m not power reading those review books.
“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.”
This book is making me so angry. Not angry in a “This book is horrible” kind of way. Angry in a “I’m going to reach into this book and slap Xiomara’s mother” kind of way. This is pushing all my buttons. Her mother treats her as less than and assumes the worst about her because she is female and uses Christianity to support her abuse. I may be a midwestern ex-evangelical white woman and not a Dominican Catholic teenager but I’ve seen this too much to not get real angry while listening.
Have you heard about Blackathon? It is a readathon starting in February. You have plenty of time to think up a TBR list. The challenges fit several of the books on my TBR so I’m going to make time for them now.
EVERYTHING U NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BLACKATHON!😍
DATES: February 11 – 25th HOSTS: @FrancinaSimone@TheNovelLush@bowtiesbooks CHALLENGES: 1. FEEL THE LOVE😍😽👩❤️💋👩 Read a book (any genre) featuring romance between two black people (or one black person + a person of color).
“Alyssa Cole returns with a fun, sexy romance novella in the Reluctant Royals series!
While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy—so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.
When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.”
This story plays out in the background of A Princess in Theory. Likotsi is the Prince’s bodyguard and she grumpy about a relationship but you don’t know anything about it. This novella is the answer. I don’t imagine that you would have to read A Princess in Theory first, but it is really good so you should.
2. WAKANDA FOREVER Read a graphic novel/comic w/ a black or African MC📖 3. HEAR👂🏾 US ANY work by a black/african author 4. FEEL THE BEAT🥁. Spoken word: listen to these 4 poems. share your favorite on social media/with a friend. Discuss what it means to u & why it matters.
“The world fell in love with her in the movie. Now, the Black Panther’s techno-genius sister launches her own adventures — written by best-selling Afrofuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Leonardo Romero! The Black Panther has disappeared, lost on a mission in space. And in his absence, everyone’s looking at the next in line for the throne. But Shuri is happiest in a lab, surrounded by gadgets of her own creation. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them. But a nation without a leader is a vulnerable one — and Shuri may have to choose between Wakanda’s welfare and her own.”
“Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit. A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it. Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite has written a deliciously deadly debut that’s as fun as it is frightening.”
In these stories, Jemisin sharply examines modern society, infusing magic into the mundane, and drawing deft parallels in the fantasy realms of her imagination. Dragons and hateful spirits haunt the flooded city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In a parallel universe, a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes. A black mother in the Jim Crow south must figure out how to save her daughter from a fey offering impossible promises. And in the Hugo award-nominated short story “The City Born Great,” a young street kid fights to give birth to an old metropolis’s soul.
I loved this collection of short stories but it took me forever to read. I felt like after each one I had to put the book down and let it sink in. I couldn’t just go onto the next. I absolutely love this cover. I remember when this photo series came out. This one makes a perfect book cover.
There are children who get chosen to be a sacrifice based on their good grades. But what happens to them? Is this a punishment for the kids who have to excel despite the risks or a way to set them free?
Fans can freeze their favorite writers by killing them at the time of their greatest talent so they never disappoint.
Can humans who have escaped a dying Earth fix the environmental damage? Should they be allowed to try no matter what humans who have remained behind think?
Making deals (and babies) with dragons might not turn out well for anyone but the dragons. On the other hand, little dragons can help fight off even bigger evil.
There are tales of first contact with alien civilizations and visions of possibly imaginary women dancing in elevators. There are gods that survive the death of humans. How do they entertain themselves?
Wars can be fought or prevented with magic. Maybe, someday, the tenuous connections between people on the internet will be all that there is left. Then again, maybe if you look hard enough there is a train waiting that can take you anywhere you need to go.
There are stories here that I know Foodies Read participants would love.
A chef unlocks her ability to make magic with food.
A restaurant opens that can make the exact meal from any memory.
“In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal.“
OMG why did I do this to myself? This is a story of a stenographer in the Obama White House. It should be interesting. She sits in on meetings about super important stuff. She records and then transcribes later.
What this book actually discusses is her horrific private life. She spends a lot of her off time on work trips drunk and cheating on her boyfriend with the most disgustingly slimy fellow. This goes on for years. She destroys relationships with her boyfriend and her female friends. I spent most of this audio wondering how anyone could be this stupid and if I was this stupid would I write about it for the whole world to know? Totally should have DNFed it hours before it ended but I wanted to know if she ever got around to fixing herself.
“The New Orleans mayor who removed the Confederate statues confronts the racism that shapes us and argues for white America to reckon with its past. A passionate, personal, urgent book from the man who sparked a national debate.“
This was more interesting but the title is misleading. It only talks about the removal of Confederate statues at the beginning and very end. That section, especially the violence against companies who might have bid on the removal contracts, kept my attention. Most of the book was talking about the rest of his political life. It reads like the book of a person who is considering running for higher office. He doesn’t admit to many mistakes at all, even in the response to Hurricane Katrina. I took that whole section with a grain of salt.
The Ones Who Stay and Fight is the opening story in N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ‘Til Black Future Month. I fell hard in love with this story. It is a response to Ursula La Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. I had never read that story so I did the lazy thing and read the Wikipedia entry on it. It is the story of a utopian city where the good fortune is predicated on the suffering of one child. People learn about this as adults and most chose to ignore the fact and live their happy lives. Some leave because they can’t stand the suffering this city is built on.
The Ones Who Stay and Fight describes my perfect town, Um-Helat. Everyone is full of joy. Reading the description of walking through the town brought tears to my eyes. It was so uplifting and light. Everyone is accepted where they are at this time without needing to change themselves to fit into society. Everyone, except for a small group of people who have learned that there can be societies built on greed and that there are people who take advantage of feeling superior to others. In the story one of these people is killed for spreading this ideology. He has a daughter who is taken in to be raised to learn not to hate. She will be given a choice when she is older and she can leave if she continues to espouse the ideology that her father taught her.
To me the story said that you can have a society built on fairness and social justice if you both envision it and be willing to fight for it.
I loved this story so much that I shared it with the husband. Do you know what he said when I finished reading?
“Well, that’s a cautionary tale.”
Excuse me? I asked him to explain himself. He said, “That story is saying that there can never be a utopia.”
I was taken aback. I started wondering how I had ever let that man kiss me with that mouth. Then we went on to say that obviously the girl would grow up to tear down the whole system because hate and revenge are more powerful motivations than love so the enforcers should have killed her too.
This started an argument that lead to me telling him that he was no longer invited to move with me to Um-Helat and he said he didn’t want to go. I swear, I almost had to disown him.
So, read The Ones Who Stay and Fight as a Rorschach test to see what side of the divide that you fall on. Just know that it can lead to squabbles.
I’ll be posting more about this wonderful collection later. I’ve been taking my time with it but I think the library is going to start demanding that I bring it back.
I’m making this post in a fit of optimism on January 1. It is going to be a monthly update on what I’m sewing. The idea is that if I don’t have anything new to say at this time each month, I’ll be so embarrassed. Therefore, I need to sew something, anything, so I have something to blog about. Let’s see how well this works. (I only finished 1 quilt in 2018. Mind you, I started bunches of stuff…)
From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.
“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.
Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?
With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.
I love historical fiction that pulls you in from the beginning. This is the story of two women from very different backgrounds who meet in the embroidery workshop of a dress designer in London immediately after World War II.
Ann is English. She lost her parents before the war and her brother during the Blitz. She lives with her sister-in-law, trying to scrape by.
Miriam is a French Jew who was in a concentration camp for part of the war. No one in England knows about this part of her life. All they know is that she is a skilled embroiderer who worked in a design house in Paris.
Fast forward to 2016 and a woman in Toronto gets a box of pictures and embroidery from her recently deceased grandmother. She knew her grandmother was from England but she never talked about her life there. She also didn’t know how to sew as far as her granddaughter knew. Why does she have all this?
This is a great story of female friendship and support. It also shows you the amazing amount of handwork that goes into couture dresses. I like stories based on unknown women who have had a part, however small, in historical events.
I had never really looked at the dress before. It is so detailed with both embroidery and applique. I can’t imagine doing that day in and day out. (I hurt my hands just trying to hand sew one quilt.) They only had a few weeks to get that all finished. It is amazing.
Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and #1 Toronto Globe & Mail bestselling author of Somewhere in France, After the War is Over and Moonlight Over Paris. She holds a doctorate from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.
A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.
Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters.
Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all.
And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.
I adored the characters in this story.
Granny is a titled lady who was a failed debutante. (What she did to Queen Victoria sealed her fate.) However, she is an excellent poacher and that has been most useful in keeping the family going during World War I rationing.
Mother is a reclusive author who doesn’t function well in the real world so keeping her out of it is the best course of action.
Alix is the oldest daughter. Her twin brother died in the war a few months ago. She volunteers at the neighboring hospital to get a look at any potential husbands but she hasn’t been impressed yet.
Christy is the responsible one who works out a plan to take in lodgers without her mother knowing about it. She also publishes stories that no one knows she writes.
Addy is a genius who has been kicked out of school again for talking back to the teachers.
Father was a con man who came in and out of their lives until he had the decency to sink with the Lusitania three years ago but now it seems that that might have been a con too.
Even the secondary and background characters are well developed. I especially liked the detail of the woman who named her children names that she’d seen in the newspaper but never heard pronounced so Nigel is called Niggle and Penelope is Penny-lope.
When I started reading this book, I didn’t remember what it was supposed to be about and I found that I didn’t really care. I enjoyed spending time with this family as they navigated the grief over their brother’s death that is just starting to lift a bit and as they find ways to support themselves. The book is funny and warm with a mystery or two thrown into the mix. I will definitely look into more books by this author.
Author Bio – Nicola Slade lives in Hampshire where she writes historical and contemporary mysteries and women’s fiction. While her three children were growing up she wrote stories for children and for women’s magazines before her first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published in 2005. Among other jobs, Nicola has been an antiques dealer and a Brown Owl! She loves travelling and at one time, lived in Egypt for a year. The Convalescent Corpse is Nicola’s 9th novel. Nicola is also a member of a crime writers’ panel, The Deadly Dames Social Media Links – www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com www.nicolaslade.com Twitter: @nicolasladeuk https://www.facebook.com/nicolasladeuk/ https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nicola8703 (I have a board for each book)
Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of The House of Ladywell (Open Internationally) *Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize. a Rafflecopter giveaway
The Briggs Book Tag was started here and is based on your Myers-Briggs personality type.
INTROVERT: ( I )
You can be outgoing, but need to recharge with some calming solitude, Where is your favorite place to read & unwind? Why is this little oasis where you choose to go?
I like to read lying down in bed. I just actually made myself a whole reading room but haven’t used it yet. There is a daybed with fluffy pillows and everything but my actual bed is just so comfy….
INTUITION: ( N )
Some books are meant to be understood and others are meant to be explored. What book or character stands for an idea that is deeply meaningful to you?
The opening story in this collection is hard hitting and deeply meaningful to me. I’ve been planning on writing all about it when I process it a bit more. It is about a world built on social justice principles and how/if it can survive.
THINKING: ( T )
Non-Fiction for some can seem tedious, but where would we be without the truths of our world? What book, text, or reading material have you found yourself referring to when in need of real world answers?
This is a hard one for me. I love non-fiction but I don’t know that I use it to find answers in my life. I read mostly about history or other people’s lives.
PERCEIVING: ( P )
TBRs are fun to construct and meant to be destroyed. Do you stick to the list or mix it up every now and then? What’s a book you’ve put down that you want to pick back up, but just haven’t been in the mood for?
I am the ultimate mood reader. I just sent back a bunch of books to the library that I was enjoying but not finishing. I think the ultimate example of this is:
I started this one on Sunday. It is about the Mayor of New Orleans who took down several statues of Confederate men and the problems that caused. The story starts with the firebombing of the car of a person who bid on the removal job so I guess it was fair to say that it was controversial.
I first heard of this book on Barack Obama’s 2018 recommended reading list.
When we decided to go on a Viking River Cruise the aspect I was most worried about was the food. The husband has life-threatening food allergies and I’m a vegetarian who prefers to eat mostly vegan. We can be hard to accommodate. Everything I read online said that we’d be fine so how did it actually go?
The husband came home from France safe and sound so the staff did a wonderful job with the allergy issue.
They don’t have people with food allergies flagged because you can sit anywhere you like for meals. That meant that at every meal he had to give his allergy talk to the waiter. That’s not his favorite thing to do and after every lunch and dinner for a week I could tell he was getting really tired of it. The waiters seemed to have been well versed on what was in each of the dishes ahead of time and they were quick to ask if they had any doubts.
They actually were a bit confusing at first about what they would and wouldn’t let him eat. His allergy is to sesame. We were on the boat on Thanksgiving and they had a pumpkin pie. They told him that night he could have anything but pumpkin pie. Who puts sesame in pumpkin pie? The husband was muttering about how unAmerican it was. (Yes, in France while talking to a Serbian waiter. Of course it was unAmerican.) I was worried that if they did that then what else, that we generally consider safe, would we need to consider potentially unsafe.
After a few days I think I figured out the pattern. They wouldn’t let him have anything that contained bread at all, whether or not there was known sesame in it. So no panini, no brioche on the side of main dish. They also did not let him have things if they weren’t made from scratch on the boat. That was presumably the problem with the pumpkin pie since all other pies for the rest of the trip were fine.
They also had no problem changing my meal if it had sesame. The vegetarian option one night was udon noodles and they made a portion for me with no sesame oil in it.
Verdict – Allergies A+
I’m not a breakfast food fan. I’d much prefer left overs from dinner than traditional breakfast food. So, I wasn’t hopeful about the morning breakfast buffet.
The bar consisted of an omelet station with a lot of add-ins if you eat eggs. There was oatmeal, cream of wheat, and muesli. All of these were made with dairy milk. There was an assortment of fruit. Every day there was a changing assortment of small dishes usually with things like smoked salmon or other meats so I didn’t pay much attention to them.
Another table had a bunch of breads and pastries. A toaster was available. Three types of cereal were offered but again there were no non-dairy milks. (If I was going to want this daily, I would have bought some non-dairy milk at a store and kept it in the mini fridge in my room.) You could also order prepared food like pancakes.
I mostly ate fruit, toast, and oatmeal. I ordered the pancakes once too even though I’m sure they were made with eggs and milk.
Lunch and Dinner
If you’ve been on large ship cruises before you may be used to having a choice of places to eat and times to eat. That isn’t really the case here. There is one dining room and you eat at the precise time they tell you.
Both lunch and dinner had an appetizer, an entree, and dessert. In theory there was supposed to be a vegetarian option in each one at every meal. That didn’t always happen. I could have asked for salads to be made without meats for example but on those occasions I just skipped that part of the meal.
The vegetarian food was made out of vegetables and wasn’t a bunch of fake meat substitutes like you sometimes see in places that are trying to serve vegetarians but don’t really know what to make.
Some of it was well done and others were horrible. It wasn’t just me. People we sat with all had at least one meal that had them poking the food and questioning what exactly it was since it didn’t resemble what they thought they had ordered. When I had the udon noodles (which were actually pretty tasty), the Japanese man I was sitting next to whispered to me, “Those don’t look like any udon I’ve ever seen in my life.” Apparently the steak was horrible and one person even tried the hot dog on offer which he regretted.
Portions were small especially if you are used to American sizes. I was pretty hungry every time meal time rolled around and I usually do fine on 2 meals a day at home.
Overall, I’d give the food a rating of “Okay-ish” which isn’t really what you want on a cruise in France.