Review of The Lodger by Louisa Treger

TheLodger1The Lodger
By: Louisa Treger
Release Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
The first biographical novel about Dorothy Richardson, peer of Virginia Woolf, lover of H.G. Wells, and central figure in the emergence of modernist fiction

Dorothy exists just above the poverty line, doing secretarial work at a dentist’s surgery and living in a seedy boarding house in Bloomsbury, when she is invited to spend the weekend with a childhood friend. Jane recently married a writer who is hovering on the brink of fame. His name is H.G. Wells, or Bertie as he is known to friends.

Bertie appears unremarkable at first. But then Dorothy notices his grey-blue eyes taking her in, openly signalling approval. He tells her he and Jane have an agreement which allows them the freedom to take lovers, although Dorothy is not convinced her friend is happy with this arrangement.

Not wanting to betray Jane, yet unable to draw back, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie. Then a new boarder arrives at the house—striking unconventional Veronica Leslie-Jones, determined to live life on her own terms—and Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of the militant suffragette movement, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.

My Thoughts:
I’d never heard of Dorothy Richardson prior to reading this book but knowing it was historical in nature and featured H.G. Wells I was intrigued. I found Treger’s writing to be easy to read, gripping for the most part and emotionally charged. I was able to relate and connect to Dorothy though I wasn’t fond of her choices. H.G. Wells was an intriguing character and his relationship with Dorothy was frustrating yet understandable.

The setting was clearly described and I was easily able to picture the Wells’ home as well as Dorothy’s London home. I found the details about the suffragette movement to be a wonderful addition and incredibly interesting. I recently read Cat Winters’ The Cure for Dreaming so I have been interested in seeing this time period represented.

I felt that The Lodger really succeeded in expressing the disappointment of gaining what you’ve wanted within a relationship. Bertie and Dorothy seemed to have dreams of what the other would provide emotionally and physically for one another. I loved that it didn’t read like a fairy tale. Because they were cheating on a woman they both respected (though not enough) it had an aura of heartbreak and guilt that seemed realistic. I liked that it didn’t gloss over the harm their relationship caused.

I also really liked seeing some of the methods Wells used for his writing described as well as the life of a writer. I thought the stress and weight of having others rely and expect a certain level of quality from you was executed very clearly. Wells (Bertie) was not someone I knew a lot about so I honestly couldn’t say how Treger’s representation of him stood up to his real persona or the historical accuracy of his life.

Overall, I felt that The Lodger was well done though I did think that the story sort of lagged in the end and veered off the pacing that had been set in the first half of the novel. Don’t go into this one expecting much action though I found the writing style helped keep me invested in slower sections.

Final Thoughts:
The Lodger was an interesting historical novel that shed light on H.G. Wells and Dorothy Richardson. Though I enjoyed reading Dorothy’s story I don’t think I’ll be reading her work or going further into researching her life. I felt that Treger succeeded in clearly representing the time period and the rocky relationship between Wells and Dorothy.

Blog Tour- Review and Giveaway of Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

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I am so honored to be included on the tour for Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth. This book was breathtaking and one of my favorites of the year (and all time really). I will read anything (and everything) Forsyth writes. If you enjoy retellings or historical fiction with adult themes you will love this book. Go forth and read!

Today I have my flail ridden review and a giveaway provided so kindly by the publisher.

Bitter GreensBitter Greens
By: Kate Forsyth
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Format: Print ARC
Source: friend (thank you Anya!)

This is an adult book so has mature content.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. She is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens…

Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death, sixty-four years later. Called La Strega Bella, Selena is at the centre of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition, retaining her youth and beauty by the blood of young red-haired girls.

After Margherita’s father steals a handful of parsley, wintercress and rapunzel from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off unless he and his wife give away their little red-haired girl. And so, when she turns seven, Margherita is locked away in a tower, her hair woven together with the locks of all the girls before her, growing to womanhood under the shadow of La Strega Bella, and dreaming of being rescued…

Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together to create a compelling story of desire, obsession, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

My Thoughts:
This book was breathtaking and I have failed to find words to adequately describe how much I enjoyed it. I’ve sat on my review and notes for over a month attempting to figure out how to convey my emotions while reading. I can’t promise this will be coherent but I can say that I loved this book.

I went into it knowing only that it was an adult fiction retelling of Rapunzel. I was not nearly prepared for the epic and historical scope of what I was getting into.

Bitter Greens was written as a story within a story. We start first by meeting Charlotte-Rose and her banishment to a nunnery. Forsyth took me on a journey around France and Charlotte-Rose’s story and life. She was based upon a historic character that I had no knowledge of so I found this story to be incredibly intriguing. The setting was expertly done and I was easily transported to the Sun King, Louis XIV’s court.

It’s clear that Forsyth did her research to be able to convey the world and characters so realistically. The characters are the driving force behind this novel. Each was complex with incredible depth and motivations. I loved that we saw multiple view points, even that of the villain. The fact that the villain’s story had be at the edge of my seat and nearly crying for her was incredible.

Along with the historical feel we also have a very in depth and compelling retelling of Rapunzel. I will say I think this book was the most researched and best done look into a classic fairy tale I’ve read.

As I stated above, this review has been an ongoing struggle for me to write. It is not often that a book has left me completely speechless but this one did.

Final Thoughts:
If you like adult historical fiction, retellings, character driven stories and complex villains then Bitter Greens would probably be for you.

About the Kate Forsyth 1Author:
Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the internationally bestselling & award-winning author of thirty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both adults and children. She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite 20 Novelists, and has been called ‘one of the finest writers of this generation. She is also an accredited master storyteller with the Australian Guild of Storytellers, and has told stories to both children and adults all over the world.

Kate’s books have been published in 14 countries around the world, including the UK, the US, Russia, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Poland and Slovenia. She is currently undertaking a doctorate in fairytale retellings at the University of Technology, having already completed a BA in Literature and a MA in Creative Writing.

Kate is a direct descendant of Charlotte Waring, the author of the first book for children ever published in Australia, ‘A Mother’s Offering to her Children’. She lives by the sea in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and many thousands of books.

For more information please visit Kate Forsyth’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Giveaway:
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Bitter Greens Blog Tour Schedule:
Monday, September 15
Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, September 16
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review & Giveaway at Bookish

Wednesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at Literary, etc
Review & Giveaway at Book Drunkard

Thursday, September 18
Review & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader

Friday, September 19
Review at The Maiden’s Court
Review & Giveaway at Icey Books

Monday, September 22
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at A Dream Within a Dream
Spotlight at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, September 23
Review at Book Dilettante
Review & Giveaway at Build a Bookshelf
Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway at SurLaLune

Wednesday, September 24
Review at Caroline Wilson Writes
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at Ink Gypsy
Review, Interview, and Giveaway at The Lit Bitch

Thursday, September 25
Review & Giveaway at No BS Book Reviews
Interview & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter

Friday, September 26
Review at The Gilmore Guide to Books
Review at Must Read Faster

Monday, September 29
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Giveaway at Bookworm Blues

Tuesday, September 30
Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Review & Excerpt at Books-n-Kisses
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, October 1
Review at One Book at a Time
Review at Book-alicious Mama
Review & Giveaway at Mina’s Bookshelf

Thursday, October 2
Interview at Layered Pages
Review & Giveaway at Oh Magic Hour

Friday, October 3
Review at Bibliophilia, Please
Review & Giveaway at Gone Pecan
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Sunday, October 5
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Monday, October 6
Review at Book Babe
Review at A Bibliotaph’s
Reviews
Interview, Excerpt, & Giveaway at Harlequin Junkie

Tuesday, October 7
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at The Pretty Good Gatsby

Wednesday, October 8
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at My Friends Are Fiction

Thursday, October 9
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Review & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Friday, October 10
Review at Mel’s Shelves
Review & Giveaway at No More Grumpy Bookseller
Interview at Jorie Loves a Story

Monday, October 13
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Review & Giveaway at Layers of Thought

Tuesday, October 14
Review & Giveaway at Beth’s Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 15
Review at Crossroad Review
Review at My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews

Thursday, October 16
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, October 17
Review at Mary Gramlich
Review at She Reads Novels

Monday, October 20
Interview & Giveaway at The Reading Frenzy

Review of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The MiniaturistThe Miniaturist
By: Jessie Burton
Release Date: August 26th 2014
Publisher: Harper
Format: ARC/FC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is an adult book so does contain some mature content. Also, be prepared for one instance of animal violence.

My Rating:
star

Read More »

Review of Prototype by M.D. Waters

Prototype (Archetype #2)Prototype (Archetype #2)
By: M.D. Waters
Release Date: July 24th 2014
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Source: Publisher
Format: Physical ARC

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Prototype is a sequel. There will be spoilers from the first book, Archetype. This is an adult fiction book so there are some mature scenes.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
Emma looks forward to the day when she can let go of her past—both of them. After more than a year on the run, with clues to her parents’ whereabouts within her grasp, she may finally find a place to settle down. Start a new life. Maybe even create new memories with a new family.

Read More »

Blog Tour- Review of Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen + Giveaway (US)

There have been a few retellings recently featuring Peter Pan so when I saw Alias Hook, which is about Captain Hook, I was sold. I was very excited to be included in the  blog tour as well as getting a chance to read this book prior to its release.  Below you will find my review and information on the book.

Praise for Lisa Jensen’s ALIAS HOOK

“Jensen’s wonderful imagination and devotion to history and myth allow the reader to fly with her through this outstanding adventure – no fairy dust required.”

Publishers Weekly 

“Scintillating description and deep characterization make Jensen’s (Witch from the Sea) Neverland a psychologically intriguing place to visit. Following in the footsteps of Gregory Maguire, Carolyn Turgeon, and Frank Beddor, Jensen offers a humanized take on Captain Hook that will be sure to entertain…”

Library Journal

Alias HookAlias Hook
By: Lisa Jensen
Release Date: July 8th 2014
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Source: E-ARC
Format: Publisher

This is an adult novel so some of the content is for mature audiences.

My Rating:
star

Summary:
“Every child knows how the story ends. The wicked pirate captain is flung overboard, caught in the jaws of the monster crocodile who drags him down to a watery grave. But it was not yet my time to die. It’s my fate to be trapped here forever, in a nightmare of childhood fancy, with that infernal, eternal boy.”

Meet Captain James Benjamin Hook, a witty, educated Restoration-era privateer cursed to play villain to a pack of malicious little boys in a pointless war that never ends. But everything changes when Stella Parrish, a forbidden grown woman, dreams her way to the Neverland in defiance of Pan’s rules. From the glamour of the Fairy Revels, to the secret ceremonies of the First Tribes, to the mysterious underwater temple beneath the Mermaid Lagoon, the magical forces of the Neverland open up for Stella as they never have for Hook. And in the pirate captain himself, she begins to see someone far more complex than the storybook villain.

With Stella’s knowledge of folk and fairy tales, she might be Hook’s last chance for redemption and release if they can break his curse before Pan and his warrior boys hunt her down and drag Hook back to their neverending game.

The Story:
I’m not overly familiar with Peter Pan, though this was my second retelling I’ve read recently. I feel like we generally see things from the ‘good guys’ point of view but in this novel Jensen delves into who Hook was and the person behind the known villain. We traverse the story through James Hook’s point of view and flip flop between his present day and past. I absolutely loved the glimpses into his past and found that Jensen did an exceptional job bringing life to the setting and character.

Jensen’s writing was lush but dense, soaked in beautiful details which at times might bog down a reader that prefers faster paced reads. I found the prose to be done beautifully. Here’s an example from the ARC so it might be changed in the final version,

Stars scatter like diamonds across the black sky when we finally break the surface of the lagoon. All is still but for a lazy chittering of insects.
(55% into the ARC)

I was drawn into Neverland in a way I’d never been before. Jensen was able to turn everything I’d ever thought about it on its head and have me seeing things completely anew. I loved this aspect of the novel and was impressed with her creativity.

The classic locations present in the films and stories was also included in Alias Hook in new ways which was compelling and delightful. I especially enjoyed Jensen’s take the Mermaid Lagoon. I found the description of the location and the mermaids to be detailed and I was clearly able to picture the setting,

Clusters of glowing, incandescent crystals, unimaginable in the world above, thrust downward from the rock ceiling like gaudy chandeliers, bathing everything in rainbow hues: turquoise green, cobalt blue, ruby, violet.  Soft, dark shadows gird the perimeter of this enclosed space so far from the sun, but a luminous mineral haze hangs in the air, and the water glows velvet green. (51% into  the ARC)

You can really visualize that can’t you? I love “mineral haze” and found all the descriptions in this book to be so beautifully executed. Imagine that level of detail for every location in the classic Peter Pan as well as the characters and you’ll have a good grasp of this novel.

That being said, the storyline was impressive. I enjoyed reading the flashbacks from Hook’s past as well as his growth in his present state in Neverland. I felt that each gave such deep insight into his character and motivations.

The Characters:
Jensen did an impressive job adding her own twist to these classic characters. I found the time spent on Hook’s backstory, when he was known as James Benjamin Hookbridge to be some of my favorite sections because it was very easy to see how his character developed. For me, this was the first look into what he might have been like beyond being the villain of Peter Pan. His personal demons and journey were done exquisitely well having me completely wrapped up in his story even when I hated a good amount of his actions past and present.

Another strong character in Alias Hook was Stella. She was headstrong and a perfect addition to Hook’s demeanor. I enjoyed their dialog but did feel that the romance between them went heavy faster than I would have liked. I’m all for a slow burn so I was disappointed that things between them happened as fast and in the depth it did so suddenly. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t feel like insta-love I just wanted to have their affections denied for a longer amount of time.

I was most impressed with the imagery that Jensen provided surrounding the boy that never grows up, Peter Pan. I would never have fathomed how Peter Pan could be shown in a negative manner but Jensen was able to do it easily. I was disgusted with him though I was still able to find the slightest amount of empathy towards his situation.

Final Thoughts:
I would say that of all the Peter Pan retellings I’ve read Alias Hook has been the strongest. I loved Jensen’s reimagined Neverland as well as her new takes on characters we all felt we knew fairly well. Her descriptive prose was lyrical, vivid and beautifully executed. If you are a reader that prefers a faster paced novel this might not be for you since the pacing was slow as well as the novel long.

Giveaway:

This giveaway is US only since the lovely folks at Thomas Dunne are providing the book.
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