Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Countess by Rebecca Johns

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: Johns's creepily enticing second novel (after Icebergs) travels to 1611 Hungary as Countess Erzsébet Báthory--aka the Blood Countess--is being walled into a castle tower as punishment for the murder of dozens of women and girls. She begins writing her life story as an exposé of the many betrayals that have brought about this--as she sees it--outrageous and unjust imprisonment. The steady, calm tone of Erzsébet's narration lulls the reader along so that the first hints of madness in her girlhood engender doubt and discomfort rather than horror, and as her lack of remorse and grandiose sense of entitlement are unveiled, a matter-of-fact self-portrait of a murderer emerges. This is a carefully researched story, gothic in tone and grimly atmospheric, with subtly handled psychology and an initially unassuming tone. Unlike most serial killer stories, this rewards patience and close reading. 

Review: The Countess by Rebecca Johns is about the life and times of Erzsebet Bathory who I will refer to as Elizabeth Bathory as it would be in English.  Elizabeth grew up in a noble house in the land of Hungary at an early age she was engaged to Ferenc Nadasdy and would one day be his wife which would make her a countess.  Elizabeth seemed to have what one would call a normal childhood but their were signs in her early life that she might have a nature that was psychopathic.

This book focuses on her early life and her middle years as its main context; including some of her young adult years and when she was in her forties/fifties which would have been considered her later years in this time in history.

Elizabeth Bathory as she gained her majority and became mistress of the house and after discovering her husband enjoyed such pursuits; whipped, starved, and humiliated dozens or more of her servant girls thinking that it was her right because she was of noble blood.  Her husband sometimes helped her in these activities and enjoyed it himself.  This woman was responsible for many deaths before she was caught and would eventually face her own last days.

It was scary in a way to see a woman who so loved her family; but in the same moment could turn around and beat a young girl to death for a minor infraction.  Its scary that they did not catch her for years and even then she was only punished by being shut up away from everyone; she got this type of punishment only because she was of noble blood.

It was a book that was hard to put down and it was interesting to look inside what may have gone on in the mind of someone who was so psychopathic.  I would definitely say that it is not for young teens and should only be read by mature audiences.  The author is a brilliant writer and I'd like to read more of her books.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Ruthless (Scientology, My son David Miscavige and Me) by Ron Miscavige

Ruthless by Ron Miscavige

<3 <3 <3

Summary:The only book to examine the origins of Scientology's current leader, RUTHLESS tells the revealing story of David Miscavige's childhood and his path to the head seat of the Church of Scientology told through the eyes of his father. Ron Miscavige's personal, heartfelt story is a riveting insider's look at life within the world of Scientology.

Review: In Ruthless Ron Miscavige tells the story of his experiences within the church of Scientology from their beginnings with him as a young man to their end in which he and his wife left because his son had helped turn the church into a cult and was a leader who had abusive tendencies to those who were below him in rank.  Ron explains that at the beginning of his involvement with the church some methods that the church of Scientology uses helped his family personally in getting over a medical illness and changing how they thought about the world.  In the beginning he also liked the church's goal of providing humanitarian work to the less fortunate. 

However as time passed his son David left home at a young age to work for the church and steadily moved up in position until in the eighties he was the most powerful person in the church; and he began making changes that  made his Father Ron not even recognize the church he had worked for for most of his adult life.  

This book showed me how a good organization with understandable goals can be transformed into a cult like environment with no freedom depending on how much power the people give their leaders in the church. Ron watched as his son turned into someone he did not recognize as the loving boy he had raised.  The book details Ron's early childhood, how he raised his family, and eventually his son's rise to power; and how even in present times David Miscavige refuses to let his sisters be in contact with their Father because he left the church. I think things like this show that absolute power can corrupt absolutely.

If you want to learn more about scientology,  its good and bad points from an insider perspective, and .  
find out how its members today are being controlled and forced to give money without receiving anything in return; I would recommend this book.  The author is a good writer and I literally sat down and read the whole thing within a few hours; it is very engrossing overall. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Vatican Princess A novel of Lucrezia Borgia

The Vatican Princess 
A novel of Lucrezia Borgia
By: C.W. Gortner

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary:With the ascension of the Spaniard Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI, a new era has dawned in Rome. Benefitting from their father’s elevation are the new pope’s illegitimate children—his rival sons, Cesare and Juan, and beautiful young daughter Lucrezia—each of whom assumes an exalted position in the papal court. Privileged and adored, Lucrezia yearns to escape her childhood and play a part in her family’s fortunes. But Rome is seductive and dangerous: Alliances shift at a moment’s notice as Italy’s ruling dynasties strive to keep rivals at bay. As Lucrezia’s father faces challenges from all sides, the threat of a French invasion forces him to marry her off to a powerful adversary. But when she discovers the brutal truth behind her alliance, Lucrezia is plunged into a perilous gambit that will require all her wits, cunning, and guile. Escaping her marriage offers the chance of happiness with a passionate prince of Naples, yet as scandalous accusations of murder and incest build against her, menacing those she loves, Lucrezia must risk everything to overcome the lethal fate imposed upon her by her Borgia blood.

Review: The Borgia's have always been a family that I love reading about; they lived in an amazing time period and although they said that family was everything to them they are accused of some horrendous acts mainly relating to bribery, incest, and poison.  Lucrezia might have been the most innocent party in this family; this book follows from her early teen years into her twentieth year.

The relationships that Lucrezia thought she had with her brother Ceasre and her Father Rodrigo Borgia (who was Pope Alexander VI) was seen through rose colored glasses.  But as she is used as a pawn in her families bid for power she begins to see and witness the truth of her families ruthless cruelty to those who betray them or do not support them.  

Through three marriages we watch as Lucrezia (her first marriage being at the age of fourteen) fights to have a life of her own and tries not to get mixed up in the debauchery that the Borgia family is famous for.  Controlled by her Father and brother's Lucrezia has to fight for every moment of happiness that she experiences in her life.  And when it finally becomes too much she will find a way to live a life of her own away from the family that betrayed her.

The way this story was written it was very easy to stay engaged in the novel; and to not want to put it down. The characters were very real and relatable and the plot line kept the reader excited because you never knew what would happen next in Lucrezia's toxic environment with a family of murderers.  

I would recommend this book to anyone thirteen and up who enjoys historical fiction or enjoys reading about Borgia family history in general. I loved every second of this book and I hope you will too =)

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Henna House by Nomi Eve

<3 <3 <3 <3

Henna House by Nomi Eve

Summary: This vivid saga begins in Yemen in 1920. Adela Damari’s parents’ health is failing as they desperately seek a future husband for their young daughter, who is in danger of becoming adopted by the local Muslim community if she is orphaned. With no likely marriage prospects, Adela’s situation looks dire—until she meets two cousins from faraway cities: a boy with whom she shares her most treasured secret, and a girl who introduces her to the powerful rituals of henna. Ultimately, Adela’s life journey brings her old and new loves, her true calling, and a new life as she is transported to Israel as part of Operation On Wings of Eagles.

Rich, evocative, and enthralling, Henna House is an intimate family portrait interwoven with the traditions of the Yemenite Jews and the history of the Holocaust and Israel. This sensuous tale of love, loss, betrayal, forgiveness—and the dyes that adorn the skin and pierce the heart—will captivate readers until the very last page.

Review: Henna House tells the life story of Adela Damari; beginning with her childhood growing up in a Jewish Community of Yemen.  It follows her as she tries to escape the clutches of the local Imam whose job it is to confiscate Jewish orphans and give them to Muslim families to be raised. Her parents engage her to a cousin to protect her but she will not see how life with Asaf will end until  many years later when she is a teenager and is betrayed by one of those she loves the most. The book goes from her childhood in Yemen to a town called Aden where all the Jews flees as pogroms against them are erupting all over their province.

Eventually Adela and her family will leave Aden and go to Israel where she meets her one lost love and has a life that she is happy with.  The language used in this book was beautiful from the descriptions of the different henna patterns to the age old stories and adages that the characters used and believed in. You can tell that the author did a lot of thorough research to write this book and it shines through in every chapter; the characters seem to come alive as you delve into their lives; and see what life was like for people living in this time period; especially the devastation that the Jews faced as they had to move to a new land to escape persecution.

This is one of my new favorite books and I would recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction and would like to learn more about these people and their traditions and the way they lived. The author breathed life into the characters for me and I really enjoyed the book.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Love Comes Softly

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke (Love Comes Softly Book Series book #1)

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: Love Comes Softly introduced the characters of Marty and Clark Davis, whose tragic circumstances brought them to a "marriage of convenience" on the frontier prairies during the mid 1800s. The story of how Clark's patient, caring love mirrored that of the heavenly Father, drawing Marty to faith and to love, has captured the hearts and imaginations of over one million readers.

Review: Love Comes Softly tells the story of young Marty a young woman who on her way to the frontier prairies loses her husband in an accident. Before she can even bury her husband she gets a marriage proposal from Clark Davis who needs a Mother for his little girl; Marty accepts having nowhere else to go and thus begins the journey of how Clark and Marty work through the grief that they have both experienced from losing their first spouses; and the love that will grow gradually for each other in both of their hearts; and how maybe just maybe God did this to show them His love can get a person through hard times; as well as Marty and Clark realizing that maybe this is part of His plan for their lives and only He knows the end from the beginning.

This is the first in a four book series; I have them all in one volume but will be posting each book with its own review.  Love Comes Softly had characters that you just wanted to hold when they cried or laugh with when something joyful happened.  Its one of my favorite Christian fiction series that I've read in quite a long time. I would recommend it to anyone who loves Christian fiction or just Fiction with good morals in general.  

ps The only think I disagree with in the book is how easy it was to get Missie the toddler in the story to obey and just play quietly; I think more detail could've been added about her or at least more realistic scenes where she behaved like a normal toddler.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Calendar Girl by Audrey Carlan

Calendar Girl by Audrey Carlan

<3 <3 <3

Summary: Mia Saunders needs money. A lot of money. She has one year to pay off the loan shark who has threatened her father’s life and is coming after his unpaid gambling debts. One million dollars to be exact. 

Her mission is simple—serve as a high-priced escort for her aunt’s Los Angeles-based company and pay monthly against the debt. Spend a month with a rich man whom she doesn’t have to sleep with if she doesn’t want to? Easy money. 

Unlucky in love with a spirit that never gives up, this curvy motorcycle-riding vixen plans to get in, make her money, and get out. Part of that goal is keeping her heart locked up tight and her eye on the prize. 

At least that’s the way it’s supposed to go…

Review: Calendar Girl volume one tells the story of Mia; a young girl who has a big problem. Twenty-five year old Mia must find a way to pay off her Father's gambling debts. So she agrees to a job at her aunt's high end escort service. Through the next  few months Mia meets many wonderful men each unique in their own way. However one in particular catches her eye and is someone she won't forget easily.

As she lives in this new and exciting time in her life Mia must figure out who she is and what she wants to accomplish in her life.  This book was ok in my opinion not my favorite not my least favorite either however. It is definitely rated R and should not be read by young readers; there are a lot of sexual scenes throughout the book.  I thought there could be more character development and less sex every three seconds; if you like romance it is alright in that area not the best I've read though.

If you want a short quick read I would recommend it but only if you don't mind the raunchier scenes. I will finish the series because I started it and if you like romances I'd recommend it.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

And Again by Jessica Chiarella

And Again by Jessica Chiarella

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda—four terminally ill patients—have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves—without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?

Review: This is one of the most original novels I've read in quite awhile.  It tells the story from four different viewpoints those of Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda. The plot is each character had a type of life threatening problem that was killing them; they are each given a second chance when a program becomes available where they are given new bodies; clones of themselves and their expected to live better lives in these new bodies with the second chance they've been given.

Each character must find his or her own way in their new 'selves' sometimes making decisions that are selfish and hurtful to others. Learning to live a new life and find themselves in their new realities made for a great read.  I've never read a book that was written quite the way this novel was; the characters seem like someone you could have coffee with or talk to on any normal day. Not unreachable like some characters.  The book follows their up and downs, highs and lows, and touches on the fact that everyone is human and will make mistakes even if they have a perfect new body to do it in.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the possibilities that a story like this can offer. It kept me tightly woven into the stories the entire time I was reading the book; its definitely one you won't want to put down.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll

The Dark Queen by Susan Carroll

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Summary: From Brittany’s misty shores to the decadent splendor of Paris’s royal court, one woman must fulfill her destiny–while facing the treacherous designs of Catherine de Medici, the dark queen.

She is Ariane, the Lady of Faire Isle, one of the Cheney sisters, renowned for their mystical skills and for keeping the isle secure and prosperous. But this is a time when women of ability are deemed sorceresses, when Renaissance France is torn by ruthless political intrigues, and all are held in thrall to the sinister ambitions of Queen Catherine de Medici. Then a wounded stranger arrives on Faire Isle, bearing a secret the Dark Queen will do everything in her power to possess. The only person Ariane can turn to is the comte de Renard, a nobleman with fiery determination and a past as mysterious as his own unusual gifts.

Riveting, vibrant, and breathtaking, The Dark Queen follows Ariane and Renard as they risk everything to prevent the fulfillment of a dreadful prophecy–even if they must tempt fate and their own passions.

My Review: The Dark Queen written by Susan Carroll tells the story of the Cheney sisters who live on the Island of Faire Isle.  In this the first book of the series is Ariane who has recently inherited the title of the Lady of Faire Isle; she is expected to pass down the ways of the wise women who live on this island and to protect her family and those in her domain with the arts passed down to her by her Mother who recently died and left the title of Lady of Faire Isle to her daughter.  These arts by some would be considered magic; Ariane considers them to be scientific. Ariane has the gift of healing; her younger sister Gabrielle the gift of painting and the youngest Cheney sister little Miri has the gift of talking to animals and sensing when their in danger.

Ariane must deal with the comte de Renard who has decided that she WILL be his bride; as well as other plots that she gets tangled up in involving the Dark Queen Catherine de Medici. And her Father has disappeared leaving the girls with bills they cannot pay. The book was very well written and kept the reader coming back for more; I read it in two days and will continue reading this series; as it pulls me into 
the beautiful world of the Cheney sisters.  

For anyone who loves a little magic and science fiction in their love stories I would very much recommend this book; you come to love the characters and really care about what happens to them. Susan Carroll is one of my new favorite authors.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hitler's Furies (German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields)

Hitler's Furies (German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields)

By: Wendy Lower

<3 <3 <3

Summary: In a surprising account that powerfully revises history, Wendy Lower uncovers the role of German women on the Nazi eastern front—not only as plunderers and direct witnesses, but as actual killers. Lower, drawing on twenty years of archival research and fieldwork, presents startling evidence that these women were more than “desk murderers” or comforters of murderous German men: they went on “shopping sprees” and romantic outings to the Jewish ghettos; they were present at killing-field picnics, not only providing refreshment but also shooting Jews. And Lower uncovers the stories of SS wives with children of their own whose brutality is as chilling as any in history.

Review: In Hitler's Furies Wendy Lower brings to light the role that women in the Nazi regime had in the holocaust and in the deaths of over six million people.  Women were not just passive watcher's who just chose not to help the people who were being murdered; they in some cases were the killer's and enjoyed the power they had over these innocent victims.  Some of the details in the stories about how women in the Nazi regime killed in their own right and by their own choice chilled me to the core.  These women killed children, the disabled and handicapped, mothers, the infirm; no one was safe if they were not considered to be part of the master Aryan race.

The biographies and different accounts of the women's lives were started in the first chapter and in later chapters the reader could see how the power that they were able to gain as Nazi party members or workers turned them from ordinary young girls into ruthless inhuman monsters.  I have read quite a bit about world war two, the holocaust, and its perpetrators; I never knew that women played such a key role in the death lists, literally torturing the victims, and the sadistic qualities that many of these women apparently had in their characters.  Even going as far as murdering children in cold blood; it is beyond my comprehension.

The book was very well researched; I mainly read historical fiction but this book pulled me in; the writer has a good tone and has definitely done her research. I tremble to think that most of these women got off scot free and just lived out the rest of their natural lives after the war was over; like they hadn't been a part of the murder of millions of innocent people. I would most definitely recommend this book if you are a fan of books dealing in the history of World War II .