Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week - "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" Dr Seuss

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Gentle Thief by Amanda Dickson

A Gentle Thief
By Amanda Dickson
A Gentle Thief

Maddie Johnson loved Shakespeare. Unlike everybody else she knew growing up, she seemed to understand him, enjoy him, more with every reading. It was partly because of this love that she drove her home in rural Pennsylvania to college to Southern Utah University, home every summer to the Utah Shakespearean Festival. It was partly that, and partly desire to get as far away as possible.
Maddie thought being in Utah would help her forget, that the stark beauty of the scenery and the power of the metaphor would be enough to clear her.
They weren’t.
The novel unfolds in two time periods, 2004 as Sophie Brownlie, attorney-at-law, become obsessed with helping the father of a girl who died 20 years before prove that she didn’t kill herself, and 1983 as a tortured and lonely young Maddie moves closer and closer to the day of her premature death. After considering several possible suspects, you begin to believe that the Utah Medical Examiner may have been right all along.
May have been.

This is a great who-done-it kind of mystery. I love those kind of stories but seem to have a knack at guessing who it was long before the story ends. I don’t always mind that I can do that but prefer if I can’t guess because it keeps me deeply interested and my mind churning away at all of the possibilities of who it is.  Yes I loved Clue when I was growing up!
This story had me from the beginning and although I had my suspicions as to what happened to Maddie I did not figure it out until it was revealed.  So to me that is a great mystery!  Ms. Dickson did a great job at going back and forth between 1983 and 2004. There were a couple of transitions that could have been smoother and I had to go back a page and double check that we moved to the other timeline. I am going to assume I had an ARC copy because of a couple of minor discrepancies that would have been fixed by a good proof-reader and editor. Nothing that detracted from the storyline and plot.
I especially enjoyed the connections to Shakespeare. Every chapter begins with one of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. It was enthralling and so fitting within the context of the storyline.
I hate to give anything away especially in a murder-mystery. This book is so much more than that though. It is the story of two women that lived 20 years apart but are brought together by tragedy. Maddie died too young to figure her life out and move forward to be happy. Will the same fate happen to Sophie?  It may if she doesn’t solve this case.

Thank you so MediaGuests for another great book for me to review.  Please visit their website for more information about all of the great authors they are touring with this year. You will definitely find a great story that you will want to read!

I give this book 4 stars. If you love a murder-mystery that spans over time along with the drama, intrigue, and suspense you will love A Gentle Thief.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Review of Catherine by Sigrid Weidenweber

Inside the Heart & Mind of a Great Monarch
By Sigrid Weidenweber

“You look astonishingly pretty,” admits Johanna when Sophia steps out of her bedroom dressed in Ulrika’s magnificent gown. Sophia is stunned, halting in mid-step. This is rare praise from her cold mother, so she must, indeed, look very good. At Frederick’s side during the elaborate court dinner, Sophia shines and sparkles with youth and wit. The monarch is very pleased with his choice. Indeed, he is so enamored with the girl that he opens his purse to outfit mother and daughter, both woefully deficient in material matters appropriate for court life. So begins the transformation of Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst into Catherine the Great of Russia. The personal and professional triumphs and tribulations of this remarkable woman are retold by Sigrid Weidenweber, whose research into the life of Catherine reveals a new perspective on Catherine, from the inside out. Sigrid portrays with heartfelt understanding what it was like to have been such a major European political and military, social and cultural figure during the eighteenth century.

I believe I have mentioned before how much I love history. But I LOVE HISTORY!! So whenever someone writes a historical fiction book I can’t wait to get it and devour it! I am rarely disappointed either. Catherine was definitely no different in my expectations. I could hardly wait to get started and delve into this time machine of love, deceit, and intrigue. All of the great things we think of when we think of the great monarchies. I have a fantasy of these time periods from Europe that I put myself in these books as part of the court of each monarch. I know that is crazy since no one really ever survives the ‘Court’ unscathed or quite possibly dead!  But still I picture myself there and try to imagine what it would have been like.  I don’t think I would like to have actually lived in these time periods but poking my head in through a book is the best adventure!

This book is superbly written and the research impeccably done.  It is hard enough to piece together a life of someone from 200+ years ago when records are not the most accurate or complete. But to also piece together a full life of personalities and drama is quite another. Ms.Weidenweber has combined these together to create a story wrapped in so much excitement and mystery that I could hardly put it down each day. She made Catherine so easy to love and to watch her grow into her status as Empress was filled with answers as to why she was the person she became in the end. I don’t think I would have liked Catherine any other way. If I just looked at the facts I would see a harsh, spoiled Queen and not cared who she was. The author truly made Catherine into a real person that had real struggles in life.

I give this book 5 stars! If you love historical fiction then you must read this book. It leaves you trying to keep your eyes open in the middle of the night because you just can’t bear to put it down. You finish the book fully satisfied of an adventure into the past.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Review of The Crystal Prince

The Crystal Prince
 by Jeanette Clinger Hurley

The Crystal Prince
 The Crystal Prince

Love is the only way. Escape into a world of spellbinding adventure, a world where kindness is king, a world where faith and imagination separate life from death, a world where love is the key that unlocks both mystery and magic…Escape into the world of
 The Crystal Prince.

Jeanette Clinger Hurley transports you to a land where darkness and light are in constant battle, a place where good & evil equally wage war on the heart…challenging both faith and destiny.

Come along and join the charmed prince Xabian and the beautiful Jenevieve on their enchanted and courageous journey, as they discover…The heart is mightier than the sword, that faith conquers fear and that the true magical and transformational miracle of life is simple and pure…That love is the way, love is the only way.

First of all, thanks to Media Guests for another great book to review.  This is a book that I wouldn’t have generally picked up – children’s age level.  It is a very fast, easy read at just 70 pages and some of them have illustrations. It was fun to sit down for a couple of hours and just pretend I was a kid in a fairy tale. This is a fantastic fairy tale with all of the good and bad things you find there- kings, queens, castles, princes and princesses, the evil creature, and the one who saves them all, and of course a sweet love story.

This book has a beautiful, simple message to us all. We have choices to make each day and because of those choices we have consequences – both good and bad.  We can choose to treat people with love and respect even when we don’t get that in return. If we treat people as the type of person we know they can be then they will become that person.  This story is the epitome of pure love of others more than oneself.

It reminds me of a favorite quote that I keep in my office:

I have come to the frightening conclusion
 that I am the decisive element.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
I possess tremendous power to make life
miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration,
I can humiliate or humor, or hurt or heal.
I all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is
escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized.
If we treat people as they are, we make them worse,
If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they
are capable of becoming.
~ Johann Wolgang von Goethe

Never discount a book by its cover. Heard that one before? Remember that phrase is an analogy for more than just a book!

I give this book 4 stars. Need to just get away to a happy fairy tale for a couple of hours? Then pick up this great story with a perfect message for us all!