Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

25150798-1Ah, Lisa See has done it again.

Her books are always a favourite because there is so much more than what is written on the pages. I can’t think of any of her novels that haven’t inspired me to research about what she’s writing about. I remember being obsessed with the love-sick maidens…of foot binding…of the treatment of those of Asian descent during the war…of paper sons…and this novel was no different…

Ahhh…tea….I used to enjoy loose leaf teas so much once upon a time…oolong and pu erh were always my favourites. I couldn’t stand the herbal teas…or the fruit teas…however, I had no clue about tea cakes! How could I not know this? So I read a bit, then I go off to google a bit…read a bit…order some tea….read a bit more…sigh….enjoy my tea…read a bit more….

This is what Lisa See always does…she changes me in some small way…yes, a couple of weeks after reading this novel, I’m well stocked with tea again for the first time in 3 or 4 years…but it’s more than that…Lisa See…well…her writing still sings to me…That’s what it was like the first time I read her…”Peony in Love” sang to me. I actually read it 3 times in a row! It was the song of my heart.

So maybe this novel hasn’t changed the person I am…except for now being inspired to be stocked up in tea….but Lisa See sings to me and enables me to see more clearly who I am…I can’t explain it…but I know it…every time I read one of her books, it doesn’t change me…but it makes me feel more…well…myself….I’m not Asian…I don’t have her heritage…but her novels sing to me none-the-less….

No other author touches me as Lisa See does…I’m lucky to have found her and honored to read anything she write…

Until next time…
Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Tea Girl at Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

01-aThe Wallflowers was my first introduction to Lisa Kleypas, then I went on to The Ravenels. Without saying any spoilers, I will say that I highly recommend you reading those before you take a dive into this book. You’ll feel such a stronger connection once you realize who the story is about. Very exciting. She’s a fairly new to me author, so I haven’t had to wait long for this book, but I was no less excited for this story.

The main thing I like about this book was how different Pandora was. She’s not the usual swooning maiden who’s perfect in all things. She wanted to continue to be who she is and not have it all taken away if she got married. She wanted to maintain her identity and not have it stripped from her. Plus without sounding mean, she was less than “perfect” physically. She there were parts of her that just made her more human in my eyes. Again, there is no perfect person, I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.

Gabriel was major swoon worthy in my eyes. He was smitten almost immediately and was willing to step up to the plate and be the man he needed to be, even if he never wanted this. He was trying to be the honorable man. I love seeing couples in the courting stages. It’s rather sweet. And let me tell you, Gabriel has all the right moves.

“You’re the reason the earth turns and morning follows night. You’re the meaning of primroses and why kissing was invented. You’re the reason my heart beats. God help me, I’m not strong enough to survive without you.”

I LOVED seeing Sebastian St. Vincent. He was just as amazing as he was in his own book. He still loves Evie, even after 30 years together, and it’s a great example for Gabriel. While he hasn’t always made the right decisions, he’s shown him what’s it like to be a good husband and protector. Plus he knows what to say when it’s needed.

“Dangerous creatures, wallflowers. Approach them with the utmost caution. They sit quietly in corners, appearing abandoned and forlorn, when in truth they’re sirens who lure men to their downfall. You won’t even notice the moment she steals the heart right out of your body-and then it’s hers for good. A wallflower never gives your heart back.”

I read that part three times with a silly grin on my face. Truer words never spoken.

And by the way, if the next book is going where I think it’s going, I’ll be barricading myself in my room all release day, just so I can get transported into this magical world that Lisa has created. I recommend you do the same.

~Melpomene

Buy Devil in Spring HERE

Review: A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

pale-horsemanThis series is just breathtaking. Seriously, I kid you naught, it left me breathless more than once. I won’t say that Cornwell’s battle scenes are g rated, but I have read much more graphic…however Cornwell does have me having to slow myself down, alternately, afraid of what I am about to read, whilst at the same time trying to rush ahead to see what happens next. At one point in the novel, I think I actually said, “HOLY SHIT” in the middle of the night.

But before you wander off, thinking this isn’t the story for me because you hate that type of thing, let me remind you that this isn’t just about battles. In fact, there are only a few that take place in this novel. This is a novel about a young warrior named Uhtred. Northerner nobleman by birth, English by circumstance, Dane by force, Pagan by choice, but warrior at heart.

One has to be reminded time and time again that Uhtred is only a young man in this, the second novel, of the Saxon Stories. He is still battling with his choices, his conscious, his loyalties, his religion and most definitely with his warrior soul.

Watching Uhtred make his journey into adulthood and trying to weave his way through all that he faces, be it strategical, personal, or political, is in of itself, well worth the time it takes to read this series. You will be hard pressed to find someone who inspires or moves you as much as Uhtred does.

More than that though, this is an amazing retelling of history through fiction. I find myself searching for Alfred the Great and reading more about these battles and the locations. Of the defeats and the obsession of religion. Of how he came to be…and of how he came not to be..This is a story that inspires one to learn more about what came before.

I have always found England fascinating. From time to time, I’ve asked people, here in England, how does it feel to know that you walk where kings and knights have walked? On the very same ground. Where legends were born and countries were made? They often look at me like I am either daft or a lunatic. Here, however, is the proof. The very same places that I see around me are here, mentioned in this novel. The chalk grounds I see are where blood was spilled in the wars between the Saxons and the Danes.

That is what great story telling is about. As I went to sleep each night reading this novel, I awoke, not in the 21st century, but in the 9th. In England as it must have been then, the damp, the sound of battle cries in my head, the smell of fires, the bitter cold, and the knowledge that we fight for a cause…and her name is England…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwell

Review: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

fine-balanceHow does one even attempt to review such a scopious novel? Seriously…I think I need to weep, but there’s just nothing left inside of me at the moment. Perhaps a bit of happiness, hope, faith restored…but only a tiny bit…and perhaps there is some despair, hatred, anger, even dubiosity….or maybe they all just cancel one another out and that is why I feel so much…nothingness…I want to be all of these things…I want to have all of these emotions…and I want to make sense of it all…but I just can’t…

Who can make sense of destiny? Who can think they know better than fate?

“..my life would have been so different today. But our destinies are engraved on our foreheads at birth.”

I think this novel has left me in shock…it gives so much hope in so many places, but just as real life often does, it snatches it all away in a blink of an eye. You want to be angry, but how can you? What gives you that right when the characters themselves handle their fate with so much grace and acceptance. How can you even attempt to place blame, when they themselves do not…How can you weep for them, when they do not weep for themselves?

As I sit here writing this review, I am not ashamed to say that as I sit here, trying to make sense of it all, that my numbness has turned to me openly weeping at this book’s ending…Nor am I ashamed to admit I do not know who I weep for the most…it could be any single one of these characters..they have all touched me in some way….or maybe I weep for myself…or all of humanity together…

Read this book…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

Review ~ The Muralist, by B.A. Shapiro

24001083I was looking forward to this novel as I liked Shapiro’s previous novel, The Art Forger. An easy and fun read, The Muralist is split into a dual narrative, set in present day and in the 1930’s. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, featuring real people, you’ll love the 1930’s narrative. Guest appearances include: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Lee Krasner, and, Eleanor Roosevelt. Through this narrative, we learn a lot about the real historical people, and the events and circumstances of 1930’s America.

Although entertaining, this story did tend to gloss over some important parts of history, and, seemed to sometimes name drop for the sake of it, although an argument for entertainment value can be made to support this stylistic choice. Generally speaking though, the characters were entertaining and somewhat fleshed out, and they definitely helped the development of the plot.

This is definitely a sit back with a glass of something and read sporadically throughout the week, kinda book. You can put it down and pick it back up without having to re-read chapters. I recommend it if you’re a fan of historical fiction, dual time narratives, and fun characters. Be warned though, you may well spend more time researching the real events and characters, than reading the book! Learning is never a bad thing though, so pick yourself up a copy, sit back, get a glass of your favorite tipple, and immerse yourself into Shapiro’s world.

Until next time,

Pegasus.

The Muralist

Review: The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

01-ab “Love what they destroyed.
Destroy what they loved.”

This story is nothing like I’ve read from Ms. Reisz before. NOTHING. In fact, this story has to be one the most insane stories I have ever read. I went in knowing nothing. No spoilers or anything, just a vague idea that it’s about thievery and bourbon. That’s it. But when I finished I sat back and wish I took Dramamine for all the twists and turns this book had. A truly wild ride.

SYNOPSIS
When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it’s to discover he’s been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it’s property of the Maddox family who owned and operated Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.

In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. But the family tree is rooted in tainted soil and has borne rotten fruit. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. The Maddoxes have bourbon in their blood—and blood in their bourbon. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.

You must go into this story blind to truly appreciate the way the story unwinds itself on the pages. Deception, lies and revenge are the main themes of this tale. And one seriously messed up family. I won’t reveal spoilers, but I will say that you’ll never see the end coming. While some parts in this story will make you squirm, if you just take a deep breath, you’ll be fine.

To be honest, I held off reading this because I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this more, or even as much, as her Original Sinners series. That series is bananas. But I am so glad I took a chance. Tiffany has a writing style that is so addicting, you can’t help but be sucked in. You won’t be disappointed in anything you read from her.

~Melpomene

Buy The Bourbon Thief HERE

Review: A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale

winter*Note of interest* The kindle edition of this novel has the acknowledgements in the front of the novel. Those acknowledgements gave away a huge part of this novel. If you’re at all familiar with the synopsis, then it probably won’t give anything away for you…However, I hate to know anything other than the title of a novel before reading it, so I was a wee bit peeved at this oversight of the formatters. The DTB copy that I own has the acknowledgments at the end…WHERE THEY BELONG!!!

This novel…I loved it. I was so fascinated by it that I found myself trying to find out more about PG himself…and of how this story was inspired/loosely based upon his grandfather. Knowing these things…and well…because of the book itself, Harry Cale haunted me.

Other reviewers say PG’s writing is beautiful. I’m sorry…I didn’t see his writing as lyrical or beautiful. If you happen to read this review, Mr Gale, no offense meant! I promise! However, I found Harry Cale beautiful. I could hear the silence of his solitude. My ears were deafened by it. I believe Harry will haunt me for a very long time. I so much want to sit beside him. I want him to know how much I admire his strength and his sense of honor. I want him to know that he is not alone.

Yes, this story is interesting. It’s opened up conversations with me and other people. I just had to tell others about this book. It’s made me think. To try to imagine what society must have been like not so long ago. It has made me sad. It has made me admire. It has made me ponder what all of this meant to PG, the author. Has it shaped the man he was…or shaped the man he is…or is it shaping the man he hopes to become? I spent only several hours reading this novel…but I have spent countless hours thinking about it….

Yes, again, the story itself is wonderful. It’s interesting. No, I’m not going to tell you what the novel is all about…you should know by now that’s not how I do reviews! What I will tell you is that, no matter how wonderful and interesting the story is/was…Harry Cale is even more interesting and wonderful…

I’m telling you…he is going to haunt me for a very long time…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale