Monday, March 02, 2015

Review--A Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales

A Bride for One Night: Talmud TalesA Bride for One Night: Talmud Tales by Ruth Calderon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Calderon, a scholar and MK (Member of Knesset, the Israeli parliament), brings a fresh look to classic tales from the Talmud. This translated volume focuses especially on women and the roles they played--seductress, wife, sister, scholar and more.

Calderon's volume is thought-provoking and enlightening. It helps readers of all religious backgrounds gain a deeper understanding of how the Talmud covered every aspect of Jewish life and why the learning and knowledge continues to shape Judaism today.

I look forward to more of Calderon's writing being translated into English for a broader audience.

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Review--Half The World (Shattered Sea #2)

Half the World (Shattered Sea, #2)Half the World by Joe Abercrombie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an outstanding fantasy* novel that had me turning pages late into the night. It's a continuation of the story of Father Yarvi, the prince turned adviser/minister to a ruling house in a Viking-like society of sea raiders, warriors and merchants. Yarvi plays a long game that moves many pieces on the board, including two young misfits who long to be warriors.

The novel is full of world-building and warcraft, politics and battles, but at its center is a love story of two people who complement each other in ways they never could have anticipated. It was wonderfully romantic.

There's also a kick-ass granny who'll make you re-evaluate everything you thought about old ladies and the usefulness of women past their childbearing years in a pre-industrial society.

I'm anxious now to read the next novel in the Shattered Sea, and recommend this series to readers who want a rousing good time, and writers who want to see how to craft characters who aren't cardboard cut-outs.

*though the series is really post-apocalyptic SF.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review--The Given (Celestial Blues #3)

The Given (Celestial Blues, #3)The Given by Vicki Pettersson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A mystery within a paranormal, with a heavy dose of Las Vegas noir and rockabilly culture brings The Celestial Blues to a satisfying conclusion in The Given.

The romance between Kit and Grif, on the rocks since Grif discovered his beloved wife Evie Shaw was still alive, flares back to life as they team up to continue searching for the clues to Grif's death. Forces both human and angelic are arrayed against them, and the Kit also faces Grif's ultimate demise as his mission on earth is concluding.

Fans of the series will find the third book in the trilogy all one would hope for, with plenty of angst, passion, angels and evildoers. I look forward to the next project from Ms. Pettersson.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Review--In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815

In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars, 1793-1815 by Jenny Uglow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A comprehensive look at life in Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. Recommended to authors doing books set during the period. It's also a good choice for readers who enjoy stories of the Regency era, especially military fiction from the early 19th century (Hornblower, Sharpe, Aubrey & Maturin), etc.

There's nothing like first person accounts for entertaining anecdotes and reports of day-to-day life during wartime. The author's research and organization makes the book highly readable as well as useful.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Review--Only In My Arms

Only in My Arms (The Dennehy Sisters Series, Book 5)Only in My Arms by Jo Goodman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I confess, I was not expecting a story about the 5th sister whose title is "Sister". Mary Francis, the oldest child, knows now life holds a different direction for her and she leaves the convent she's been a part of since she became an adult.

Goodman handled her transition from being part of a religious order to the world with skill, and she crafted for Mary Francis a hero who's up to her weight. Ryder considers himself both Apache and white. Raised by the Apache, he now serves as a scout for the US Army. When he's accused of a crime he didn't commit, it's Mary Francis who stands by him.

The story is a satisfying conclusion to the Dennehy Sisters series, and as always, a satisfying read from an experienced and skilled author. I'm glad much of Ms. Goodman's backlist is now available in ebook editions.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review--Dying to Meet You

Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road, #1)Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My young United Way Reading Pal and I very much enjoyed this first novel in a new series. I got to teach her a new word ("epistolary") and she was quick at picking out the plot details and why they mattered.

Adults will enjoy the puns (as will more sophisticated young readers) and the structure of the story is an excellent teaching tool as well as being entertaining for adults and children.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Review--When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II

When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War IIWhen Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An amazing and uplifting history that will be enjoyed by anyone who's ever appreciated the power of books to change lives for the better. It will make you laugh, and maybe cry, and if you're an American, take pride in a period when the nation came together to fight hatred and bookburning with the distribution of free books to service members.

I was impressed with the range of books offered. Even books that were banned in Boston (Yes, that used to be a thing) were offered to servicemen and women, because censorship was considered a greater evil than exposing them to books about interracial love affairs in Strange Fruit or racy historical goings-on in Forever Amber. Interestingly, these were two of the most requested books overseas.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about why we call them The Greatest Generation, and how books can change a country, and a world.

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