Friday, November 30, 2012

Review, Author Interview, and G!ve@way: The Bracelet by Roberta Gately

Title: The Bracelet
Author: Roberta Gately
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: November 1, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're an armchair traveler.
What's the Story?:

From "Humanitarian aid Abby Howell and reporter Nick Sinclair find themselves in the middle of a human trafficking ring in Pakistan. When Abby realizes she may have witnessed a murder by a high-ranking official, she and Nick must break the story before she becomes its next casualty."

My Two Cents:

"The Bracelet" is a fairly easy read about a very tough subject: human trafficking. Abby, a nurse, is running away from a failed relationship in the United States. She ends up in Pakistan, one of the most dangerous places in the world, as a UN worker. When she is there, she meets a journalist, Nick, who is chasing a story about human trafficking. Meanwhile, Abby, through her own work and her own relationships in Pakistan, becomes more aware of the issue with human trafficking. She also comes across the man who may be running the largest human trafficking ring in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Human trafficking is both a fascinating and important subject and I really liked that the author chose to tackle it. It is a difficult subject so it could be very difficult to write about. People who are interested in learning about this subject will find this book interesting even though it is a fictional book.

I never really warmed up to either Abby or Nick or their relationship. Abby is running away from a relationship but falls for Nick and gets involved right away. She didn't seem to be making very good decisions. I wasn't able to find a lot of common ground with her.

Also, I mentioned that this is a light read and I suppose I wished that the storyline itself had a little more gravitas when it came to dealing like such a heavy subject like human trafficking. The feeling throughout the book and the subject matter just seemed a little mismatched to a degree. Overall though, this book did pique my interest to learn more about this grave issue.

Author Interview:
Today I'm happy to have Roberta Gately here at A Bookish Affair.  
1. How did you get the idea to write about human trafficking? 

I didn’t set out to write specifically about human trafficking. My novel started with a murder, and I had figure out who my victim was. I wanted the clues to follow Abby Monroe to Pakistan and after some research, I decided to focus on my victim as a trafficking victim.

Why is it so important for people to know about this issue? 

Trafficking is a vicious problem that is all around us and yet, because the victims are mostly invisible to us – we just don’t notice them. These victims are people who’ve been snatched up at their most
vulnerable moments, and they are likely to be undocumented, young and afraid to find help. I hope that my novel will help to raise awareness of the issue.

2. What was your research process like for this book? 

I contacted a Boston area based trafficking awareness group – Not For Sale (www.notforsale.og) and spoke with them. They in turn put me in touch with a victim, who had been trafficked as a domestic worker. Her story was quite different from the stories I highlighted in “The Bracelet” and I turned to internet research – sites such as The Polaris Project, and internet videos and interviews to get a true picture of victims – to see how they would speak, sit, interact and tell their stories. I wanted to be true to the problem without exploiting the victims.

3. Who is your favorite character in "The Bracelet" and why? 

Probably Nick because he’s brash and bold and funny in a self-deprecating way. (And because he reminds me of an old boyfriend.)

4. What is your favorite part of "The Bracelet?"

I think my favorite is the one in which Abby goes in search of Nick the morning after her room at the UN house has been ransacked, and discovers him being beaten by two thugs in the alley. She demonstrated a remarkable and unexpected burst of strength and fearlessness in an effort to rescue Nick.

5. If you could choose three fictional characters to take with you to a deserted island, who would you choose and why? 

Great question! I would take the three main characters from “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Atticus – for his logical approach to solving problems, Jem and Scout for their sense of adventure, and if I could beg for a fourth – it would be Dill, the young summer visitor whose imagination and fanciful stories could entertain us endlessly.


One lucky winner will win a copy of The Bracelet (US only). Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

HF Virtual Tours: Guest Post and G!ve@way from Deborah Swift

Today, I'm excited to have Deborah Swift here to talk about Frost Fairs, a very cool element in Swift's The Gilded Lily. Oh, and at the end of the post, enter to win a copy of The Gilded Lily (open internationally!!!)

Frost Fairs – Inspiration for The Gilded Lily

Behold the wonder of this present age
A frozen river now becomes a stage

When I first read about The Frost Fairs on the frozen Thames I knew I wanted to include them in my new novel THE GILDED LILY. I wondered what my two country girls, Sadie and Ella Appleby, who had never been outside their small village, would make of this spectacle. Also I liked the idea that the surface of the ice would mirror the precariousness of the girls’ existence in London at that time. Visually it is a stunning setting too, as our limited pictures from the period show.

In the Little Ace Age of the 17th century the River Thames used to freeze upstream of London Bridge and Londoners used to create stalls with blankets and wooden props or oars from the boats. These markets were referred to as ‘blanket fairs.’

Everyone and anyone took to the ice, including royalty and commoners – in one year Charles II paraded his troops on the Thames side by side with the courtesans and taverners who took advantage of the carnival atmosphere to ply their trade. This was one of the ideas I found most fascinating, that class and wealth barriers broke down on the newly-named ‘Freezeland Street’ which was a sort of no-man’s land cutting through London, owned by no-one and used by everyone.

In the first flush of enthusiasm when Puritan rule was over, and the people knew the King would be restored to the throne, England was in a mood to celebrate, even in such freezing conditions. The scene was described by 17th century diarist John Evelyn as ‘a Bacchanalian triumph of carnival on the water'.

When researching Frost Fairs for The Gilded Lily I used 17th century chapbooks as reference sources, one of which had a wonderful long poem on it describing the various activities, (see picture). It tells us about the entertainment - ‘Here is a Lottery and Musick too’, but also tells us there were blood sports such as fox hunting, bear baiting and cock fighting. Other pleasanter activities included rides on boats adapted for the purpose with runners, ice hockey, skating, acrobats and tumblers and puppet booths. I also enjoyed using the dutch paintings of Hendrick Avercamp for reference.

With the weather being so cold there was a brisk trade in Ale and Brandy, and braziers were set up so food could be purchased; Hot codlins, Pancakes, Duck, Goose and Sack. Though apparently things were more expensive on the ice as traders took the chance to push up their prices,

‘What you can buy for Three-Pence on the shore,
Will cost you four pence on the Thames or more.’

A lovely book about the Frost Fairs right through the ages – a little book of short meditations I can highly recommend is The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys. And of course I have to recommend my own book, The Gilded Lily! Here’s the Trailer

Many thanks to Meg for hosting me!


I am happy to be able to give away a copy of The Gilded Lily (open internationally). Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

HF Virtual Tours: The Lincoln Conspiracy G!ve@way!

Today, I'm pleased to be able to give away a copy of The Lincoln Conspiracy (US only). Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and you're entered.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

HF Virtual Tours: The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O'Brien

Title: The Lincoln Conspiracy
Author: Timothy L. O'Brien
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publish Date: September 8, 2012
Source: HF Virtual Tours

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You're a mystery fan.
What's the Story?:

From "A nation shattered by its president’s murder. Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy. A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him

From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O’Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined?

In late spring of 1865, as America mourns the death of its leader, Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden makes a startling discovery. Strapped to the body of a dead man at the B&O Railroad station are two diaries, two documents that together reveal the true depth of the Lincoln conspiracy. Securing the diaries will put Temple’s life in jeopardy—and will endanger the fragile peace of a nation still torn by war.

Temple’s quest to bring the conspirators to justice takes him on a perilous journey through the gaslit streets of the Civil War–era capital, into bawdy houses and back alleys where ruthless enemies await him in every shadowed corner. Aided by an underground network of friends—and by his wife, Fiona, a nurse who possesses a formidable arsenal of medicinal potions—Temple must stay one step ahead of Lafayette Baker, head of the Union Army’s spy service. Along the way, he’ll run from or rely on Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s fearsome secretary of war; the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; the photographer Alexander Gardner; and many others."

My Two Cents:

Oh, President Lincoln is going to be a very popular subject for the near future, I can see. Between several books coming out about him recently and the Lincoln movie being in theaters now (I saw it this past weekend and it was very good), I think we're in for a very Lincoln filled 2013. No complaints here!

The death of Lincoln is still an event that captivates many minds both here in the United States as well as the rest of the world. The whole story takes place in the time period just after Lincoln's murder. The nation, having only recently signing a peace agreement between the North and the South after the Civil War, is absolutely shattered. Temple McFadden, a detective, finds two diaries that may hold the secrets to whether or not Lincoln's murder was something much larger, a conspiracy of sorts.

While I am not usually a mystery fan, I did enjoy this book, especially for the historical fiction part of it. This story is not necessarily new. While Temple is a fictional character, some believe that there really was just more than John Wilkes Booth involved in the killing of Lincoln even indirectly. Mary Surratt and Samuel Mudd are two names that come up a lot in these conspiracy theories. This book was definitely an interesting take on these theories. I loved the inclusion of a coded diary.

I also really liked the setting. I love books set in Washington. It's so cool to me to be able to look at a fictional view of my city. It was interesting how much of Temple's Washington was still familiar to me. I loved seeing 1860s Washington. You can tell that the author did a lot of research on what the city was like back then. The setting really made the book feel more real to me.

Some parts of the book were repetitive, especially when it came to the coded messages in the diaries. I wish that the book would have gone more in depth about coded messages in general rather than repeating what the messages said.

Bottom line: A good historical mystery with a great setting!

Don't Forget to Follow the Rest of the Tour (Come back to A Bookish Affair tomorrow, 11/28 for a giveaway of the book):

Monday, October 29
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at The Book Garden
Feature & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time

Thursday, November 1
Review & Giveaway at JulzReads

Friday, November 2
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Monday, November 5
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Review & Giveaway at Drey's Library

Tuesday, November 6
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Review & Giveaway at Griperang's Bookmarks

Wednesday, November 7
Review at Book Drunkard
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Thursday, November 8 
Review at Book Dillettante 

Friday, November 9
Feature & Excerpt at Beth's Book Reviews

Saturday, November 10
Author Guest Post at JulzReads

Monday, November 12
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, November 13
Review at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Always With a Book

Thursday, November 15
Review & Giveaway at The Novel Life

Monday, November 19
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Review at Lit Addicted Brit
Author Interview at Tribute Books

Tuesday, November 20
Feature & Giveaway at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Crystal Book Reviews

Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, November 23
Review at Sir Read A Lot

Author Interview at The Novel Life
Author Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Monday, November 26
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Tuesday, November 27
Review at A Bookish Affair
Author Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Book Journey
Review at My Reading Room
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Thursday, November 29
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie
Author Interview at My Reading Room

Friday, November 30
Review at Impressions in Ink

Monday, December 3
Review at Bibliophilic Book Blog

Review at The Bookworm
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Giveaway at A Writer's Life: Working with the Muse

Tuesday, December 4
Review at Paperback Princess
Review at Cheryl's Book Nook

Wednesday, December 5
Review at Luxury Reading
Review at Stiletto Storytime
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at Paperback Princess

Thursday, December 6
Review at One Book at a Time
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, December 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads 

Monday, November 26, 2012

HF Virtual Tours: The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift

Title: The Gilded Lily
Author: Deborah Swift
Format: Paperback
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publish Date: November 27, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author and as part of this tour; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  •  You're a Historical Fiction fan.
  • You like stories about sisters.
  • You like vivid settings.
What's the Story?:

From "A spellbinding historical novel of beauty and greed and surprising redemption

England, 1660. Ella Appleby believes she  is destined for better things than slaving as a housemaid and dodging the blows of  her drunken father. When her employer dies suddenly, she seizes her chance--taking his valuables and fleeing the countryside with her sister for the golden prospects of London. But London may not be the promised land she expects.  Work is hard to find, until Ella takes up with a dashing and dubious gentleman with ties to the London underworld. Meanwhile, her old employer's twin brother is in hot pursuit of the sisters.

Set in a London of atmospheric coffee houses, gilded mansions, and shady pawnshops hidden from rich men’s view, Deborah Swift's The Gilded Lily is a dazzling novel of historical adventure."

My Two Cents:

"The Gilded Lily" is a story about two sisters, Ella and Sadie, two sisters in Restoration England in the 1660s. It is also the companion novel to Swift's earlier book "The Lady's Slipper," which I have not read yet but plan to after reading this book. "The Gilded Lily" is a total stand alone story so you don't need to read "The Lady's Slipper" first. You will enjoy this book just fine!

The story jumps off quickly when the sisters end up in London after Ella plans a scheme that could end with the sisters getting in a lot of trouble. Very quickly we see how different the two sisters are and how they deal with their situation differently. I definitely liked Sadie a lot better than Ella. Ella just doesn't think about what's she's doing. She does it and thinks about it later on which gets her in trouble over and over again throughout the book. Ella also doesn't seem to think about the trouble she is causing for her poor sister, who is forced to silently stay in a room at the boarding house all day while Ella is out finding a job at the upscale ladies' store, "The Gilded Lily." I kind of wanted to know more about what the motivation behind being so mean to her sister. Sadie, on the other hand, is very nice and sweet. There are other characters in the book but we don't get to know much about them in the story.

I really liked the historical detail in this book. Swift does a great job of capturing the sort of grungy and gritty environment omnipresent in Restoration England. You really feel like you're with the sisters being chased on the streets of London! I can't wait to see what other books Swift comes out with next!

Bottom line: A gritty Historical Fiction with good detail!

Don't miss the rest of the tour! (I'll be doing a giveaway on 11/29):

Monday, November 19
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden's Court

Tuesday, November 20
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, November 21
Review at Reading the Past

Thursday, November 22
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at Enchanted by Josephine

Friday, November 23
Review & Giveaway at The Broke and the Bookish

Monday, November 26
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review at Layered Pages

Wednesday, November 28
Review at Books Like Breathing

Thursday, November 29
Review & Giveaway at The Book Garden
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Friday, November 30
Review at The Lit Bitch

Saturday, December 1
Author Interview & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Monday, December 3
Review at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, December 4
Author Guest Post & Giveaway at One Book at a Time

Wednesday, December 5
Review at One Book at a Time
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader 


Sunday, November 25, 2012

W!nner: The Phantom Prize Pack

Congratulations to the winner of the Phantom prize pack: 

The email has gone out. If I do not hear from the winner within 72 hours, I will choose a new winner!

Don't forget to check out the giveaway for copies of In Drake's Command by David Wesley Hill.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: Astray by Emma Donoghue

Title: Astray
Author: Emma Donoghue
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company
Publish Date: October 30, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like short stories.
  • You're a Historical Fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From "The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's stories have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters, lovers old and new. They are gold miners and counterfeiters, attorneys and slaves. They cross other borders too: those of race, law, sex, and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress.

With rich historical detail, the celebrated author of Room takes us from puritan Massachusetts to revolutionary New Jersey, antebellum Louisiana to the Toronto highway, lighting up four centuries of wanderings that have profound echoes in the present. Astray offers us a surprising and moving history for restless times."

My Two Cents:

I was really excited for this book! Donoghue's "Room" was one of my favorite reads last year so when I heard that Donoghue's Astray was coming out, I knew that I had to read this book. Now short stories are not usually my favorite but because of the writing in "Room," I gave this book a shot. I was definitely pleased and I know that in the future, Emma Donoghue will continue to be on my must read. Now to go back and read her backlist...

This book is all about journeys of all different kinds. The stories take place across all different times and different places. What I found really interesting is that after each story, there is a small sort of "afterword" about where Donoghue found the inspiration to write each different story. I often find myself wondering where authors come up with their stories so I loved each of these "afterwords." Perhaps even more interesting is that most of the stories are rooted in non-fiction stories.

The writing that drew me in to "Room" was still present in "Astray" but this is a very different book. I liked some of the stories better than others. All of the stories are very different from each other and there are not really any connections between them other than the theme of journeys. I wish there had been more ties between the different stories. One of the most interesting to me was about a woman who is forced to give up her daughter due to really terrible life circumstances. Her daughter goes to the orphanage and then on one of the orphan trains that were so popular long ago. The mother keeps up a correspondence with the people who ran the orphanage to try to get news about her daughter throughout her life to no avail. It was very sad!

Bottom line: Good writing!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Spirit of Lost Angels by Liza Perrat

Title: Spirit of Lost Angels
Author: Liza Perrat
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Triskele Press
Publish Date: June 2, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a Historical Fiction fan.
  • You like great historical detail.
  • You're looking for really good writing.
What's the Story?:

From "Her mother executed for witchcraft, her father dead at the hand of a noble, Victoire Charpentier vows to rise above her poor peasant roots.

Forced to leave her village of Lucie-sur-Vionne for domestic work in Paris, Victoire suffers gruesome abuse under the ancien régime. Can she muster the bravery and skill to join the revolutionary force gripping France, and overthrow the corrupt, diabolical aristocracy?

Spirit of Lost Angels traces the journey of a bone angel talisman passed down through generations. The women of L’Auberge des Anges face tragedy and betrayal in a world where their gift can be their curse.

Amidst the tumult of revolutionary France, this is a story of courage, hope and love."

My Two Cents:

Okay, have you ever started reading a book slower and slower as the ending gets closer just so you can put off getting to the ending quickly because the book is that good? This is exactly what happened to me with Spirit of Lost Angels. This book is a fantastic tale of history, a little mystery, and great characters that I know is going to stay with me long after I shut the book. There is also a small pinch of magic in a bone angel pendent that the main characters, Victoire, receives from her mother who is a healer in her own right. Oh, and this book is filled with fantastic writing. This book hit all of the marks for me! Oh, this book just was so fantastic (excuse me if I use fantastic a whole bunch in this review).

First off, Victoire is such a fantastic character. You will be rooting for her from the very beginning. Her life is anything but easy from the very beginning. She is incredibly resilient though. With every new plot twist (and there are tons and tons and I loved every single one), she gets knocked down but finds some way to fix things and make them better. I loved following Victoire through Revolutionary France.

The historical detail is fantastic (there I go again) in this book. You can tell that the author took a lot of care and time in making Victoire's world both in the French countryside and in the city of Paris come to life. I also really liked the appearance of a couple famous historical figures in the book. I don't want to give anything away but one was a famous American who I'd probably love to talk buildings and books with and the other is a very prolific female philosopher of sorts. They were nice inclusions. Part of the reason I wanted to savor this book so much was because of the scenery and the settings in this book.

This book is a really good example of how amazing indie books can be! Maybe you all realize that I do not give a lot of books five stars but this one is definitely deserving, you can be rest assured. Do yourself a favor and get this book!

I was pleased to learn that this book is the first in a series all about Victoire's descendents.

Bottom line: If you are looking for a book that will engage you from many different angles, this is your book!

Monday, November 19, 2012

G!ve@way: At Drake's Command by David Wesley Hill

Guys, it's starting to get cold outside. The days are shorter and it seems like we're all getting a little bit busier with the holidays being just around the corner. We all need a break! Tis the season to hunker down with a good book! Today, I'm excited to be able to giveaway a couple copies of At Drake's Command.

Three lucky winners will win a copy of At Drake's Command. One winner will win a paperback copy (open US only). Two winners will win ebook copies in any format they would like (open Internationally)

All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter forms below!

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Title: Valentina Goldman's Immaculate Confusion by Marisol Murano

Title: Valentina Goldman's Immaculate Confusion
Author: Marisol Murano
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Hipso Media
Publish Date: September 1, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like clever writing.
What's the Story?:

From "Since her arrival in the United States from Venezuela, Valentina Goldman isn’t exactly living the American Dream. She’s living the American Nightmare. Her late husband, Max, has left her a young widow, a step-daughter whom Valentina didn’t want, and a bi-polar ex-wife. And oh, having given up her dream job in New York, Valentina is also unemployed in Arizona. Part "Bridget Jones Diary," part "Modern Family," "Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion" is the story of a woman trying to get a handle on her whacky life in America. In breathless, blog-like snippets, Valentina compares her own story with that of her eccentric sister, Azucena, who has bizarre troubles of her own down in the tropics. "Valentina Goldman’s Immaculate Confusion" is a funny and moving story about what happens when a passionate South American woman moves to the USA and, like so many of us, ends up with a life she never imagined."

My Two Cents:

Sometimes you come across a book that makes you say, hey, I really wish that I could write like this. Murano gives Valentina, the main character in this book a great voice. It really feels like Valentina is a person that you might really come across in real life. Better yet, she feels like a person that you would want to meet and get to know in real life!

The entire book is based on Valentina, a Venezuelan immigrant, telling her American step-daughter, Emily about her life and the series of events, some stranger than others. The writing style and the short little chapter kept me engaged the whole time. I really wanted to see how Valentina ended up with this life and these children that she never really expected. The tone is very conversational, which also made me really like Valentina even more.

The book's story is not told sequentially, which makes it really hard to follow at some points. It took a bit of re-reading for me to figure out where I was in the story. I wished that the story had been a little more chronological. That being said, since I was enjoying the story that much, I didn't mind the flipping back and forth but wanted to mention it for anyone that does take issue with that sort of thing.

There is also a sort of cliffhanger at the end of the book, which makes me wonder: will there be a sequel? It also left me wondering what happened.

I had never heard of Murano before I got the opportunity to read this book. Now I really want to go back and read her other books because I loved the writing in this book so much!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: At Drake's Command by David Wesley Hill

Title:  At Drake's Command
Author: David Wesley Hill
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Temurlone Press
Publish Date: November 15, 2012 (Today!)
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a Historical Fiction fan.
  • You like adventure stories.
What's the Story?:

From "It was as fine a day to be whipped as any he’d ever seen but the good weather didn’t make Peregrine James any happier with the situation he was in. Unfairly convicted of a crime he had not committed, the young cook was strung from the whipping post on the Plymouth quay side when he caught the eye of Francis Drake and managed to convince the charismatic sea captain to accept him among his crew.

Soon England was receding in their wake and Perry was serving an unsavory collection of sea dogs as the small fleet of fragile wood ships sailed across the brine. Their destination was secret, known to Drake alone. Few sailors believed the public avowal that the expedition was headed for Alexandria to trade in currants. Some men suspected Drake planned a raid across Panama to attack the Spanish in the Pacific. Others were sure the real plan was to round the Cape of Storms to break the Portuguese monopoly of the spice trade. The only thing Perry knew for certain was that they were bound for danger and that he must live by his wits if he were to survive serving at Drake’s command."

My Two Cents:

"At Drake's Command" is a fascinating Historical Fiction novel about the infamous sea captain Francis Drake. I had never read a fictional book about Drake so I was very interested to see Hill's take on Francis Drake. I think the captain and his life as well as his various expeditions are fascinating. Told from the perspective of Peregrine James, a young cook that begs to become part of Drake's command after being accused of a crime that he did not commit, this book is a fascinating look at the larger than life man that Drake was.

This book takes place during a fascinating time in history. So many different countries were fighting to get their foot in the door in the "new world." The country that had the most and best shipping routes would win. Some of the countries were absolutely ruthless when it came to trying to secure their place. In this book, we get to see many of the different people that Drake and his men encounter. Some of them, like the Moors in Africa, are quite different. It was really interesting to see the different interactions between the various groups. Obviously with so much competition going on during that time period, a lot of the encounters are wrought with extreme tension and scheming. You get a good taste of what it must have been like to be under someone like Drake.

I loved that this book was told from the perspective of Peregrine James (he was a fictional character in case you were wondering). By seeing the story through someone who had a lot of face to face time with Drake himself, you get a good sense of what the man must have been like. I also just liked James' character. He is young but he seems to be very self-assured most of the time.

There is a lot of good historical detail in this book. You can feel the sea breezes, taste James' meals, and feel the roughness of London at the time. This book has a very abrupt ending but there is promise of a sequel!

Bottom line: A good historical read about a fascinating man!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Review: Castles on the Sand by Emily Mah Tippetts

Title: Castles on the Sand
Author: Emily Mah Tippetts
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: August 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a Young Adult fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From "Madison Lukas knows her place in the world. She’s not pretty, not interesting, and therefore easy to forget.

John Britton is serving his mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has been praying for fifteen years to find the sister he lost in his parents’ divorce. She is beautiful, talented, and makes kindness a fine art.

When John and Madison cross paths, he recognizes her at once, but Madison is certain that he’s got it all wrong. Even if she is his long-lost sister, she can’t possibly be the exceptional, amazing girl he thinks she is, can she?"

My Two Cents:

Castles on the Sand was sort of a mixed bag for me. I was definitely a little bit conflicted about what to rate this book. First off, it took me awhile to get into the book as I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters until the second half. Once the book hit its stride, it was much, much easier for me to get into.

This book deals with a lot of different topics and some of them are very important. All of the topics are of concern for many teenagers. Topics of appearance, family, relationships, and friends are all present here. I think the most important topic in this is the topic of mental illness. Tippetts did a really good job of painting a sympathetic picture of Alex and his mom. I think this can be a really difficult topic to tackle, especially in YA fiction. Tippetts makes you really feel for these characters and what they are going through and how they are trying to survive as a family. I really thought this was one of the best parts of the book!

There were a lot of plot holes that I wish had been filled in. First off, why does John only find where his mom and Madison are now? Madison is already a teenager meaning that there was a lot of time to pass before John just happened upon them while doing his missionary work. Also, I understand that John really cares about Madison because she is his sister but found it bordering on creepy about how quickly he warms back up to her and starts calling her beautiful all. the. time. Also, why is Madison's mom still so mad if it had been so many years? This was never really explained but she's sort of a sour grape throughout the entire book.

There is a religious (specifically Mormon) tilt to this book so depending on your feelings, that may not be everyone's cup of tea.

Bottom line: Overall, I enjoyed the writing but this story was definitely not my favorite.

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