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Showing posts from 2013

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst The Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza and Steve Erwin: A Book Review

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst The Rwandan Holocaust  Author: Immaculee Ilibagiza and Steve Erwin Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography & Memoir, History, Christian Publisher: Hay House Release Date: 2007 Pages: 215 Source: Personal Collection Synopsis: Immaculee Ilibagiza grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee’s family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.      Incredibly, Immaculee survived the slaughter. For 91 days, she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor while hundreds of machete-wielding killers hunted for them.       It was during those endless hours of unspeakable terror that Immaculee discovered the power of prayer, eventually shedding her fear of death and forging a profound and lasting relati

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By The Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb: A Book Review

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By The Taliban Author: Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography & Memoir, Modern History Publisher: Little, Brown and Company Release Date: October 8th, 2013 Pages: 352 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: “I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.”       When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.      On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.       Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has bec

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir: A Book Review

Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World Author: Alison Weir Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History Publisher: Ballantine Books Release Date: December 3rd, 2013 Pages: 608 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Many are familiar with the story of the much-married King Henry VIII of England and the celebrated reign of his daughter, Elizabeth I. But it is often forgotten that the life of the first Tudor queen, Elizabeth of York, Henry’s mother and Elizabeth’s grandmother, spanned one of England’s most dramatic and perilous periods. Now New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir presents the first modern biography of this extraordinary woman, whose very existence united the realm and ensured the survival of the Plantagenet bloodline.       Her birth was greeted with as much pomp and ceremony as that of a male heir. The first child of King Edward IV, Elizabeth enjoyed all the glittering trappings of royalty. But afte

The Romanov Bride: A Novel by Robert Alexander: A Book Review

The Romanov Bride: A Novel Author: Robert Alexander Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Viking Release Date: 2008 Pages: 336 Source: Personal Collection Synopsis: As the Russia of Nicholas and Aleksandra rushes full speed toward catastrophe, The Romanov Bride follows the lives of two revolutionary souls, that of Grand Duches Elisavyeta (or Ella), sister of the tsaritsa Aleksandra, and that of Pavel, a simple village man yearning for more. The life of Grand Duchess Elisavyeta begins like a fairy tale - born a princess of Germany, she marries the Grand Duke Sergei of Russia and enters the most lavish and magnificent court in the world, that of the mighty Romanovs, where she is renowned for her sumptuous fashion, jewels, and beauty, not to mention her kind heart. Her husband, however, possesses no such grace, and he rules Moscow as he does his wife, with a cold, hard fist.      For Pavel and his bridge, though, living in Sankt Peterburg means sharing a crowded cellar with othe

I, Mona Lisa: A Novel by Jeanne Kalogridis: A Book Review

I, Mona Lisa: A Novel Author: Jeanne Kalogridis Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin Release Date: 2006 Pages: 544 Source: Personal Collection Synopsis: "My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini Giocondo, though to acquaintances, I am known simply as Madonna Lisa.  My story begins not with my birth but a murder, committed the year before I was born."     Florence, April 1478: The handsome Giuliano de' Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence's magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa.      More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths.  Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano's nephew and

Theodora: Empress of Byzantium by Paolo Cesaretti: A Book Review

Theodora: Empress of Byzantium Author: Paolo Cesaretti Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History Publisher: Vendome Press Release Date: 2004 Pages: 384 Source: Personal Collection Synopsis: Theodora of Byzantium, rising from the lowest ranks of Byzantine society, became one of the most important and powerful women in history. In this gripping biography, Theodora's full story is revealed for the first time, according her a well-deserved place in the pantheon of great women.      Theodora's meager beginnings as the daughter of a bear-keeper could not have foretold her astonishing future as the wife of Justinian, the powerful ruler of the Byzantine empire. An actress at the time who was chastised for her scandalous performances, she eventually caught the attention of the young Justinian, who was no doubt charmed as much by her beauty as by her cunning.      Justinian and Theodora ruled the empire together from their rich and bustling seat of power in Constantinople, making

The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen( Book #1 of the Fairytale Keeper series) by Andrea Cefalo: A Book Review

The Fairytale Keeper: Avenging the Queen (Book #! of the Fairytale Keeper series Author: Andrea Cefalo Genre: YA, Historical Fiction Publisher: Scarlet Primrose Press/ Andrea Cefalo Release Date: 2013 Pages: 268 Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Adelaide’s mother, Katrina, was the finest storyteller in all of Airsbach, a borough in the great city of Cologne, but she left one story untold, that of her daughter, that of Snow White. Snow White was a pet name Adelaide’s mother had given her. It was a name that Adelaide hated until now. Now, she would give anything to hear her mother say it once more.      A rampant fever claimed Adelaide’s mother just like a thousand others in Cologne where the people die without last rites and the dead are dumped in a vast pit outside the city walls. In an effort to save Katrina’s soul, Adelaide's father obtains a secret funeral for his wife by bribing the parish priest, Father Soren.

The Ohana by C.W. Schutter: A Book Review

The Ohana Author: C.W. Schutter Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: River Ranch Press Release Date: November 13th, 2013 Pages: 282 Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: A child is dying. Her life depends on an explosive secret her grandmother has kept from their Ohana (family). As Mary Han wrestles with the toxic revelations, she must finally face the past she fought so hard to forget.       The Ohana is a riveting retrospective of the social, political, and economic history of Hawaii told through a historical family saga spanning three unforgettable generations. From the young Korean, Han Chaul Roong, who murders the hated Japanese invaders who kidnap his sister and force her into prostitution, to the Japanese aristocrat Kazuko who abandons her life of wealth and privilege to live in poverty with the servant she loves, the Asians came to work the brutal cane fields of Hawaii under Patrick O'Malley, a refugee from the

Dance the Moon Down by R. L. Bartram: A Book Review

Dance the Moon Down Author: R.L. Bartram Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Authors OnLine Release Date: 2011 Pages: 300 Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: In 1910, no one believed there would ever be a war with Germany. Safe in her affluent middle-class life, the rumors held no significance for Victoria either. It was her father's decision to enroll her at university that began to change all that. There, she befriends the rebellious and outspoken Beryl Whittaker, an emergent suffragette, but it is her love for Gerald Avery, a talented young poet from a neighboring university that sets the seal on her future.      After a clandestine romance, they marry in January 1914, but with the outbreak of the First World War, Gerald volunteers but within months has gone missing in France. Convinced that he is still alive, Victoria's initial attempts to discover what has become of him, implicate her in a murderous assault o

O, Juliet: A Novel by Robin Maxwell: A Book Review

O, Juliet: A Novel Author: Robin Maxwell Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: New American Library Release Date: 2010 Pages: 352 Source: Personal Collection Synopsis: A RICH TALE OF PASSION, REVENGE, AND TRAGEDY ON THE CUSP OF THE ITALIAN RENAISSANCE: A FRESH TWIST ON THE BARD’S BELOVED ROMEO AND JULIET .       Before Juliet Capelletti lie two futures: a traditionally loveless marriage to her father's business partner, or the fulfillment of her poetic dreams, inspired by the great Dante. Unlike her beloved friend Lucrezia, who looks forward to her arranged marriage into the Medici dynasty, Juliet has a wild, romantic imagination that takes flight in the privacy of her bedchamber and on her garden balcony.      Her life and destiny are forever changed when Juliet meets Romeo Monticecco, a soulful young man seeking peace between their warring families. A dreamer himself, Romeo is unstoppable, once he determines to capture the heart of the remarkable woman foretold in his sta

The Treason of Mary Louvestre by My Haley: A Book Review

The Treason of Mary Louvestre Author: My Haley Genre:  Historical Fiction Publisher: Koehler Books Release Date: 2013 Pages: 338 Source: This book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: From the widow and collaborator of Alex Haley, award-winning author of Roots , comes a new American epic from the Civil War. The Treason of Mary Louvestre is based on the true story of a seamstress slave from the Confederate town of Norfolk, Virginia. When her owner gets involved with modifications to the ironclad CSS Virginia, Mary copies the plans and sets out to commit treason against the South. Facing certain death as a spy if caught, she treks two hundred miles during the bitter winter of 1862 to reach the office of Union Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, where she hands over the plans. Mary's act of bravery is ably told by Haley, using a rich narrative and characters drawn from that pinnacle era of American history. First there was Roots , now t

The Least of These by Scott Zachary: A Book Review

The Least of These Author: Scott Zachary Genre:  Historical Fiction Publisher: Mahalas Press Release Date: November 15th, 2013 Pages: 70 Source: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis:   Molly Gregor was not a temperate woman.       The daughter of a murdered Catholic nobleman, and the wife of a Protestant landowner, she imagines herself a stranger in her own land. Rash, proud, and headstrong, she has carved her way through life with a bold determination that often places her at odds with those closest to her.      When a band of Irish Travellers come to her small town, Molly finds herself torn between helping the wayfaring strangers and the cruel prejudices of her neighbors. Will she find the courage to defend these, the least of all people?      Set in the turbulent spring of 1709, The Least of These is a haunting, yet inspiring story of questioned faith, restored hope, and the true price of charity.             My Rev

Juliet by Anne Fortier: A Book Review

Juliet Author: Anne Fortier Genre:  Historical Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery & Thriller Publisher: Ballantine Books Release Date: 2011 Pages: 464 Source: Personal Collection Synopsis:   When Julie Jacobs inherits a key to a safety-deposit box in Siena, Italy, she is told that it will lead her to an old family treasure. Soon she is launched on a winding and perilous journey into the history of her ancestor, Giulietta, whose legendary love for a young man named Romeo rocked the foundations of medieval Siena. As Julie crosses paths with the descendants of the families immortalized in Shakespeare’s unforgettable blood feud, she begins to realize that the notorious curse-- “A plague on both your houses!” is still at work, and that she is the next target. It seems that the only one who can save Julie from her fate is Romeo--but where is he?           My Review:  I have always been a fan of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet . I’ve always found it romantic that they loved each other

The Sixth by Avery Hays: A Book Review

The Sixth Author: Avery Hays Genre:  Historical Fiction, Mystery Publisher: Mariner Books Release Date: Oct. 31, 2013 Publisher: Diadema Press Pages: 362 Source: NetGalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Florbela Sarmentos is 21 and knows what she wants: art, romance, and to free her father from the prison of Portugal's despotic King Manuel II.  Born in Lisbon, educated in London and at a painting academy in Cherbourg, France, the cosmopolitan Florbela moves to Paris and takes up residence in the wildly bohemian enclave of La Ruche, there to pursue a creative life.      Some of the yet-to-be-discovered artists living in her building are Diego Rivera, Amadeo Modigliani and Marc Chagall.  By day she paints, and by night she attends parties with the residents of La Ruche, who introduce her to collectors and creative spirits in Paris's fabled Sixth Arrondissement.  Along the way, Florbela attracts several hot-headed admirers, two of whom become so in

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy: A Book Review

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart Author: John Guy Genre:  Nonfiction, Biography, History Publisher: Mariner Books Release Date: 2004 Pages: 608 Source: Personal Collection Synopsis: In the first full-scale biography of Mary Stuart in more than thirty years, John Guy creates an intimate and absorbing portrait of one of history’s greatest women, depicting her world and her place in the sweep of history with stunning immediacy. Bringing together all surviving documents and uncovering a trove of new sources for the first time, Guy dispels the popular image of Mary Queen of Scots as a romantic leading lady — achieving her ends through feminine wiles — and establishes her as the intellectual and political equal of Elizabeth I.      Through Guy’s pioneering research and superbly readable prose, we come to see Mary as a skillful diplomat, maneuvering ingeniously among a dizzying array of factions that sought to control or dethrone her. Queen of Scots is an enthralling, myt

The Melody of Secrets: A Novel by Jeffrey Stepakoff: A Book Review

The Melody of Secrets: A Novel Author: Jeffrey Stepakoff Genre: Historical fiction Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books Release Date: October, 29th 2013 Pages: 272 Source: I got this from NetGalley as an invitation from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Jeffrey Stepakoff's The Melody of Secrets is an epic love story set against the 1960s U.S. space program, when deeply-buried secrets could threaten not just a marriage, but a country.      Maria was barely eighteen as WWII was coming to its explosive end. A brilliant violinist, she tried to comfort herself with the Sibelius Concerto as American bombs rained down. James Cooper wasn't much older. A roguish fighter pilot stationed in London, he was shot down during a daring night raid and sought shelter in Maria’s cottage.      Fifteen years later, in Huntsville, Alabama, Maria is married to a German rocket scientist who works for the burgeoning U.S. space program. Her life in the South is at peace, pu