Friday, June 27, 2014

Book Review: The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant

The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant
The Birth of Venus
Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family's Florentine palazzo.  A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter's abilities.
But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra's parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man.  Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundametalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control.  Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola's reactionary followers.  Played out against this turbulent backdrop, Alessandra's married life is a misery, except for the surprising freedom it allows her to pursue her powerful attraction to the young painter and his art.  The Birth of Venus is a tour de force, the first historical novel from one of Britain's most innovative writers of literary suspense.  It brings alive the history of Florence at its most dramatic period, telling a compulsively absorbing story of love, art, religion, and power through the passionate voice of Alessandra, a heroine with the same vibrancy of spirit as her beloved city.

3/5 stars (liked it)
Reading the first few pages really drew me in.  Alessandra is old and dead at the beginning and you want to find out her life story.  And we get sent back to when she is 15 years old.  She loves art but she lives in a time where women cannot be painters or artists.  Therefore she is forced to do art in hiding.  Then comes a young painter, hired by her father, to paint.  She is quickly drawn to him and wants to learn from him.  I loved learning some of the history and I truly liked Alessandra and wish some things had worked out differently for her.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Book Review: The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown

The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown
The Weird Sisters
There is no problem a library card can't solve.

The Andreas family is one of readers.  Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women.  When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the other there.

See, we love each other.  We just don't happen to like each other very much.

But the sisters discover that everything they've been running from--one another, their small hometown, and themselves--might offer more than they ever expected.

3/5 stars (liked it)
I am not much for Shakespeare and so I was unsure if I would get used to all the references in this book.  But I actually found I liked the references.  All the characters were pretty likable in their own way.  Rose being the oldest and most responsible always stuck at home.  She is engaged and is afraid to leave home.  Bianca lived in New York City and really messed up in her job and so she packs her things up and goes home.  Cordelia is the youngest and the baby in the family.  She has lived all over the country without a care in the world until the world decides to make her responsible and she also comes home.  Throughout the book each girl as well as their parents learn more about each other and themselves.  I thought this was a cute book with a happy ending.

Book Review: The Immortal Crown - Richelle Mead

The Immortal Crown - Richelle Mead
The Immortal Crown (Age of X, #2)
Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him.  Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out.  With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation:  Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect--special humans marked by the divine--are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin's old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA's dangerous neighboring country.  Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae--grudgingly posing as Justin's concubine--has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago.  But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods of Arcadia, a reporter's connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission--and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.

5/5 stars (it was amazing)
I really liked Gameboard of the Gods and was expecting the same for this one but it was actually better.  This book had the point of view of Mae, Justin and Tessa.  I loved seeing all the point of views.  Also learning more about Tessa and the things she learns.  Also learning more about Lucian Darling.  The setting was also different that they went to Arcadia a place so very different than RUNA.  In Arcadia women are treated a lot differently and Cain is much more of a problem.  Although Arcadia is openly religious and that plays a major role in how their government is run.  Of course the ending, Oh my gosh, the ending.  Now I truly cannot wait to read the next one.

Book Review: Messenger - Lois Lowry

Messenger - Lois Lowry Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man known for his special sight.  ...