Thursday, February 18, 2010

Review: Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander

Book Info:
Tears of Pearl by Tasha Alexander
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-13: 9780312383701
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery
Source: For Review from LibraryThing

Looking forward to the joys of connubial bliss, newlyweds Lady Emily and Colin Hargreaves set out toward Turkey for an exotic honeymoon. But on their first night in the city, a harem girl is found murdered -- strangled in the courtyard of the Sultan’s lavish Topkapi Palace. Sir Richard St. Clare, an Englishman who works at the embassy in Constantinople, is present and recognizes the girl as his own daughter who was kidnapped twenty years earlier.

Tears of Pearl is the fourth book in the Lady Emily series. Usually I don't start series in the middle, but this one came for review from LT, and while it looked interesting I didn't feel compelled to read all the books. Tears of Pearl is a historical mystery with a cozy feel. I prefer my mysteries a little more hard core, so I'm glad I didn't start the series at the beginning.

Lady Emily is an amateur sleuth. She is independent and determined, but beyond that, I can't actually say much about her. Maybe if I'd read the series from the beginning I'd know more about her, but even starting the series in the middle I still expect to know a little more about the main character once I've finished a book.

The biggest failing for me in the this book though was that it didn't have the feeling I was looking for. When I read historical fiction I want to be transported to a time and place that I cannot visit, and I never got that feeling with Tears of Pearl. There wasn't anything specific that made this book feel modern, but I had to keep reminding myself that it was set in the 1800's. Maybe it was the fact that the women in the harem were so outspoken that threw off the feeling of the book.

I think this series might be a little better suited to readers who enjoy cozies and historical fiction. It was a decent book, but this is one series I won't be continuing with. 3 stars

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Claire update

Thank you all so much for your well wishes and congratulations on Claire. She is a wonderful baby, very happy and truly a joy to be around.

Claire ended up spending 12 days in the NICU and has already undergone one surgery on the outside of her heart. She did wonderfully and was home just 3 days after this surgery. Her next heart surgery will probably be in 1-2 months.

I have loved being at home with Claire and am not looking forward having to go back to work in a few weeks. Thankfully, I am only returning to work 3 days a week, so I will still be able to spend lots of time with my girl.

Thank you all for sticking with me and my blog though all of my down time. I finally have a little time for reading and hope reviews will be posted regularly soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Review: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Book Info:
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (February 2, 2010)
ISBN-13: 978-0312364120
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: For Review
Rating: 4/5

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters.

On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life. It begins with a story that is unlike anything the sisters have heard before -- a captivating, mysterious love story that spans sixty-five years and moves from frozen, war torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska. The vividly imagined tale brings these three women together in a way that none could have expected. Meredith and Nina will finally learn the secret of their mother's past and uncover a truth so terrible it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they think they are.

While I loved Kristin Hannah's Firefly Lane (review), True Colors (review) fell a little short for me. Winter Garden was much more to my liking, even though I found it a little slow at first. I didn't find myself warming to the characters until I was about halfway through the book and well into the fairy tale. By then I was hooked though, and couldn't put the book down.

The two sisters in the story were an interesting study in contrasts. While they both grew up in the same environment, they dealt with their mother's ambivalence toward them in very different ways. I think it is very interesting how people deal with the same situations so very differently.

Winter Garden deals with a time in history that I find fascinating and I think that is one of the reasons I was so drawn into the story. Hannah's vivid writing really brought the story to life, and while elements of the fairy tale story may be familiar, she still made it feel fresh. 4 stars