Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Julia Reviews City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

Title/Author: City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn
Publisher/Year Published:  March 2014 by Harlequin MIRA
How I got this book: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Why I read this book: I read the back and it sounded interesting. I've not read many novels set in the 1920s nor in the Middle East.
Rating: 3.5 stars

Set against the lush, exotic European colonial outposts of the 1920s, New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn delivers the captivating tale of one woman who embarks upon a journey to see the world—and ends up finding intrigue, danger and a love beyond all reason.  
Famed aviatrix Evangeline Starke never expected to see her husband, adventurer Gabriel Starke, ever again. They had been a golden couple, enjoying a whirlwind courtship amid the backdrop of a glittering social set in prewar London until his sudden death with the sinking of the Lusitania. Five years later, beginning to embrace life again, Evie embarks upon a flight around the world, collecting fame and admirers along the way. In the midst of her triumphant tour, she is shocked to receive a mysterious—and recent—photograph of Gabriel, which brings her ambitious stunt to a screeching halt. 
With her eccentric Aunt Dove in tow, Evie tracks the source of the photo to the ancient City of Jasmine, Damascus. There she discovers that nothing is as it seems. Danger lurks at every turn, and at stake is a priceless relic, an artifact once lost to time and so valuable that criminals will stop at nothing to acquire it—even murder. Leaving the jewelled city behind, Evie sets off across the punishing sands of the desert to unearth the truth of Gabriel's disappearance and retrieve a relic straight from the pages of history. 
Along the way, Evie must come to terms with the deception that parted her from Gabriel and the passion that will change her destiny forever...

City of Jasmine is an interesting read. I can't say that I have read many post WWII historical fiction books, but I guess now I can say I've at least read one. The book starts off with our lead character, Evie, getting ready to fly the last leg of her tour is interrupted by some pretty solid evidence that her husband is still alive. She delays her last leg and heads to Demascus with her aunt in tow. They spend some time in Demascus before the real story starts, and that is when we get out into the dessert to see the dig site where Gabriel is. 

That was the first hundred pages, and honestly I almost gave up the book because of that. Everything was so slow and it could have all started at a different point and been tighter and easier to read. But once we got past all that, the most interesting part of which was the setting, things started to get better. I loved the parts in the desert and once Gabriel and Evie had more interaction together, it was fun to read. 

I really enjoyed the setting and it makes me think I should branch out into different areas of history more often! The setting is probably my favorite part of the story, but how does everything else stack up? The plot is shaky at best. It is plodding in the beginning and all over the place in the middle and then sort of gets vary vague at the end. The middle, while overwhelmed with characters and subplots, was entertaining though (or else I would have stopped reading). The book is teaming with twsts. By the last character who wasn't who they said they were I was rolling my eyes.

Evie and Gabriel are the main characters, but really it's Evie's story. She is really independent and sometimes that makes her make the stupidest decisions ever. But she wasn't annoying and actually a pretty decent narrator. Sometimes I was surprised at what she didn't pick up on, though, like one of those pretty obvious twists. 

This is primarily historical fiction, with a little dash of romance (it is harlequin). If you worried about sex, it's not there. The relationship between Gabriel and Evie is important though and pretty interesting. I liked seeing how they changed from the way they were described as being in the past. 

Overall the book was interesting, the setting really so, and the plot engaging enough. I would recommend it for people who like to read historical fiction in exotic locales. This is the first Raybourn I read and I am not amiss to reading another.

Let me know if you have a recommendation for another Raybourn book or another historical fiction book set in a not common location/period of time in the comments!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday With Jamie: Ten Characters Who Are Super Talented


To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see a list of future topics click here! (they are updated btw!)

 On my own blog, The Perpetual Page-Turner, I had a "YA's Got Talent" list full of talented characters in YA. I have a couple on here from that list but more! I am always so jealous of people who are super talented because I just have never been really GOOD at anything unless you count binge eating cookies, world class procrastinating or marathoning shows as a special talent?

1. Mia/Adam // If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman: Mia is an incredible talented musician as is Adam! These books are favorites and the movie is coming out soon sooo you should probably just get to this if you haven't!

2. Carmen // Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez: Carmen is an incredibly competitive violinist...which a very competitive mother too! Also this is a great + underrated book!

3. Lucy // The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr: A whole family of talented pianists but the MC has completely quit and learns to love music again on her own terms.

4. Hannah // Bunheads by Sophie Flack: The world of competitive ballet! Such a good book and also underrated. Written by an ex professional ballerina.

5. Zoe & Olivia // Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor: Another dancer! Also, very good friendship story!

6. Elise // This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: I know teenage DJ might sound a little lame but I PROMISE YOU. This was one of my FAVORITE reads of last year!

7. Cath // Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Cath is a really talented writer of fan fiction (and just in general) and she's pretty internet famous!

8. All the characters // Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg: It's set in a performing arts high school and has a couple different POVs who are all talented!

9. Lola // Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins: Fashion designer!

10. Matt Finch & Dee // Open Road Summer by Emery Lord: FAMOUS SINGERS. Matt Finch forever! And Lilah = a Taylor Swift-esque singer but when she was still country.

So..have you read any of these? Also, please tell me more recs of very talented characters so I can live vicariously through them!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rest in Peace Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez died yesterday.  He was 87 years old.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.  He is known for pioneering the genre of magical realism in his many novels and stories, which are set in Latin America (a perfect landscape for this kind of story, if you ask me!).

I was in class, at the computer scanning documents for a project when the news flashed across my phone's screen.  I was instantly saddened.  I managed to block out the annoying voice of this other student to privately reflect on this literary giant and how much his literature means to me and to the world at large.

I've only read two novels by this literary giant--Love in the Time of Cholera and One Hundred Years of Solitude, but I was completely transported by his way of weaving together a story.  He created such deep characters in Love in the Time of Cholera and told such an incredible family saga in One Hundred Years of Solitude.  His sense of setting that came alive in his novels was truly magical and transported the reader right into the story.  Cholera taught me about a love that can last half a lifetime of separation and the true beauty and reality of love.  Solitude taught me about the tangled web of family and was thoroughly entertaining (and I need to read it again immediately!).

I've read bits of his biography.  It sounds like he lived quite a life and met some characters that influenced and appeared in his writing.  His fellow countrymen affectionately called him "Gabo."  What a fantastic nickname!

I am so glad that I am going by my parents' house today so I can grab copies of some of his other books and read them soon!

Here is a link to his obituary in the New York Times, in case you are interested.

Have you read anything by Garcia Marquez?  What did you think?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Cocktail & Conversation -- Favorite Quote About Reading or Books

Every other Thursday here at the Broke & The Bookish is  A Cocktail & Conversation time. One of the TBTB members will pose a question to 2-3 of the other members of TB&TB crew about books, life, music, etc and then they'll answer and we can converse about it. So grab a cocktail & cozy up for some conversation. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, friends.

Lori asks: What is your favorite quote about reading/books and why?

Julia: I don't pay too much attention to quotes, but I do have a few visual favorites that I have collected for you. They make me laugh or smile and that is why I like them :)

Jen: "Books are a uniquely portable magic" - Stephen King

I recently came across this quote and it is so, so true. You can bring a book (or your Kindle) with you almost anywhere, and books have the power to transport you to other worlds and time periods. Books really are magical.

Paula:  "Reading aloud to someone is one of this world's pleasures" John Irving, The Hotel New Hampshire

I grew up reading a chapter if a book every night with my mom. Not only did this help create my love of reading- I think it is the best way to share a story with someone. It's quality time together and interacting in a way that watching a movie can't compare too. When you get so into a story that both of your voices are cracking but you still don't want to take a break - it's magic. One of my best college memories was building a fort in my good friend's living room and spending an entire rainy day reading Peter Pan to each other. So yeah - this quote sums everything up perfectly!

Bridget:  “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” ― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

I personally have never actually feared that I would lose my ability to read; however, life often gets in the way of sitting down and just relaxing for a few hours with a book, and when it's been several days without doing that, I do feel significantly "off." But an hour or two with a book on the couch or in bed will fix me right up. Reading has always been something that has come naturally to me--much like breathing--and the thought of ever not being able to read, for whatever reason that might be, is almost as scary as not being able to breathe. I don't just mean books, either. Think about it...just about anything you do on the internet involves reading. I could spend days on reddit, but it's because I like to read people's crazy stories. What would we do without reading?

Kimberly:  "Reading one book is like eating one potato chip."--Diane Duane, So You Want To Be A Wizard

Can you think of a better way to describe how wonderfully addictive reading is? The first time I read that quote, about 12 or so years ago, I actually sighed. It was so perfect. My love of reading so perfectly described in a way that I could explain to others. I was at the airport in San Diego last year, dragging my suitcase behind me and stopped so fast my friend ran right into me. I'd completely forgotten to walk because RIGHT THERE, on the WALL, in an AIRPORT, was my quote. It had been painted there. I was so excited I even took a picture of it.

What about you guys?  What are some of your favorite quotes about books or reading?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books) That Lori Would Like To Own

To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see a list of future topics click here!

1.  To the Lighthouse Book Cover T-Shirt--I LOVE this shirt!  (And so many other shirts from Out of Print Clothing).  I will totally buy it one day...but I feel like I need to actually read the book before I buy the shirt.

2.  She is too fond of books Necklace--I saw this piece on a book blog I follow.  I absolutely love it!  You can buy it on Etsy.

3.  We do things My Way or the Hemingway shirt--Why would I not want this?  My friend owns it and he let me borrow it for my MA thesis defense.  Unfortunately, I was unable to style the t-shirt with something acceptable for such an occasion.  But I totally dig it.

4.  Book Clutch--I cannot remember which ones, but I know that Kate Spade at one point had several different classic book clutches.  I was able to find a picture of A Tale of Two Cities.  I think it's a fun way to carry some of your essentials.  Definitely a great conversation starter!

5.  Alice in Wonderland Flask--Uh, awesome!  I totally have to get one!  These are available on Etsy.

6.  Bookish Cardigan--I love cardigans!  I wear the all the stinking time.  Even in the summer because my office is freezing!  This is a really fun print, but it's not totally overwhelming, so you could totally wear it a lot of places.

7.  Leo Tolstoy Library Diffuser--So I'm not usually too big on scents, but I think it would be pretty cool to see what scents certain authors might evoke.  Currently, they have Dickens, Tolstoy, Austen, Wilde and a few others.  I hope they expand their collection to include more authors.  I would love an Ernest Hemingway one...but they have to make it first!

8.  Game of Thrones Mug Set--I'm not into Game of Thrones, but my boyfriend is.  I saw these mugs and think that they're super cool.  And I know he'd appreciate them because of the GoT theme.

9.  Harry Potter Title Hoodie--I've seen a few things listing the titles in order, but I really liked this one the best.  Maybe it's that the text is on the back.  I don't know.  Anyway, this is really cool and it's on Etsy.

10.  Clear Book Weight--This would be super handy.  Whenever I try to read, I frequently set my book down because I need to use my hand or hands and this would be a great way to not lose my place and keep reading.  Also good for windy days.

What sorts of bookish things are on your wishlist??

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jen Reviews Leap of Faith by Jaime Blair

Leap of Faith by Jaime Blair

Published: September 2013, Simon & Schuster

Source: Library

Rating: 3 stars


This is the first book in a really, really long time that I read in one sitting (disclosure: I did get up a for a snack and a few times for a bathroom break). I was hooked from the first page.

Faith doesn't have the best family life. Her mom is a drunk, a drug addict, and a sleeps with men for money. Her current scheme is getting paid $10,000 to carry another couple's baby (but they're gross and also drug addicts). Faith doesn't want the baby growing up in the same kind of environment she did, so once the baby is born she kidnaps her.

This was my favorite part of the book, her journey from Ohio to Florida. Faith is sixteen years old and you can tell she has no idea how to take care of a baby (even though she prepared reading books and buying diapers, formula, etc), she has no first hand experience with a newborn. She's petrified every time a police car drives by her, certain she's been caught. Once Faith and baby Addy are in Florida she realizes how difficult things are going to be for her. She tells everyone her name is Leah and that she's a couple years older than she really is. Getting a job is going to be almost impossible, no one to watch the Addy and how will Faith/Leah fill out all of the paperwork without potentially getting caught? Interesting...but it seemed like everything came too easy for her, she caught too many breaks.

Plus, the relationship with Chris moved too fast, it didn't feel realistic to me. Too fast, too serious, too quick. Two teenagers met two months ago and are already bringing up marriage? And the whole thing with Chris's mom and sister seemed out of place.

The ending. One of the most frustrating endings, especially because I don't think there is a sequel planned. When I finish a book I like it to end...not wonder who is on the other side of the door or what the reactions from your fake Florida family are. I felt like the whole book was building up to something and then it faltered at the end.

I enjoyed the overall concept of the just did not live up to my expectations.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 3/30 - 4/12

Daisy's Book Haul

-The Assassin's Blade by Sarah J. Maas: OBVIOUSLY I had to have this pretty bind up of the novella's!
-The Program by Suzanne Young: I've heard good things about it and I really like the cover! (Though I'm sad that they changed the cover for the sequel, because UGH now my books won't match when I buy it!)
-Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott: this sounds AMAZING! So I had to snatch it up :)
-Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier: I've been eyeing this for a while because I LOVE the title! And I've been meaning to read more fantasy novels.
-The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White: it's Egyptian mythology. Consider me fascinated.
-Wolfking aka Heer der Wolven
The Lost Prince aka De Dolende Prins by Bridget Wood: I kept stopping and staring at these two books in the second hand part of the book store, they're not being printed anymore and I read them when I was about 12 or so, it's mostly for sentimental value that I bought them. And because they kept staring at me.

Egalleys for Review:
-The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead: I really enjoyed Gameboard of the Gods and am excited to see what will happen in the sequel!
-Unmasking Juliet by Teri Wilson: I recently read Unleashing Mr. Darcy by the same author and it was a light, fun romance, so I'm hoping for the same with this one!
-Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne: SO MUCH EXCITEMENT! This sounds like the start of an awesome fantasy series!
-Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington: two lives, switching between them every 24 hours, YES PLEASE!
-The Twelve Kingdoms: The Mark of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy: another YA fantasy series that sounds promising :)
-Ignited by Corrine Jackson: this is the final book in the Sense Thieves series and while I have some issues with it, I really want to know how it ends and if she ends up with the guy I'm rooting for.
-Fall With Me by Julie Particka: college romance that sounds like it could be REALLY GOOD.
-How To Lose A Lord in 10 Days or Less by Elizabeth Michels: I like the title and I'm always down for a good historical romance!
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