Book Review: Rodin’s Lover

Book Review: Rodin’s LoverRodin's Lover by Heather Webb
Published by Plume on January 27th 2015
Genres: Fiction, HIstorical, Romance
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

A mesmerizing tale of art and passion in Belle Époque France
As a woman, aspiring sculptor Camille Claudel has plenty of critics, especially her ultra-traditional mother. But when Auguste Rodin makes Camille his apprentice—and his muse—their passion inspires groundbreaking works. Yet, Camille’s success is overshadowed by her lover’s rising star, and her obsessions cross the line into madness.
Rodin’s Lover brings to life the volatile love affair between one of the era’s greatest artists and a woman entwined in a tragic dilemma she cannot escape.
"Masterfully crafted...a larger-than-life love story full of passion and tragedy. Webb captures the era and characters to perfection."--RT Book Reviews, starred review
"You'll be drawn into this story of obsession and passion."--Cosmopolitan
"Dazzling!...Deeply moving and meticulously researched, this book will capture your heart, then hold it tightly long after the final page."--Anne Girard, author of MADAME PICASSO

I received an advanced E-Copy of this book from Penguin’s First Read program. Having a large interest in historical fiction and art I thought that it would be something I would enjoy reading.  This book did not disappointment me. The story is beautifully written, weaving the glory of Paris in the 19th century and walking us through the history, and exploring the relationship of the artists with their models, benefactors and of course their art.

I did not know anything about Camille Claudel (our heroine) before I read this book. She was passionately consumed and driven to create, and achieved more than any woman sculptor of her time. Camille was bold and ambitious and was not going to let anything get in her way, especially not gender barriers. This is a story about her life, her art, her struggles being a female artist in a world that was dominated by males. It is also a story about the love she had for her tutor Auguste Rodin whom she meets in Paris. Their relationship is passionate and intense as is their dedication to their art.  Unfortunately this story does not have a happy ending, as Auguste Rodin rises in the art world; Camille’s work is overlooked leading her down a path of obsession and eventually into madness.

I do believe that the novel turns a bit more “romantic fiction” than “historical fiction” at some points, but at the same time  I do not believe that the author set out to write a completely true to life biography. This book is filled with emotion, and I really enjoyed that the author didn’t just tell you the story, but made you truly feel it.  As a woman in a time that pretty much all opportunities are available to me, I truly felt awful that the same opportunities were not there for Camille. She was very much ahead of her time, but due to being a woman was held back from shining like the bright star that she was.  I would like to point out that at the end of the book you do receive an author’s note that explains what facts were real and which were fiction. I always find this very helpful and enlightening, especially when reading historical fiction.

I give Ms. Webb much credit for creating a fast-paced and very enthralling book that captured my attention from the start. This story may be only skimming the top layer of the truly complex life of Camille Claudel but I am glad that I got this chance to learn about her life and her art.  It was a well written book that gave life to the era, the art and the people. I am now even more curious to dig deeper and find out more about this fascinating woman. I definitely recommend this book to anyone that loves history, art and reading about fascinating people.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

four-stars

Top Ten Tuesday freebie: Books I Would Love To See Adapted Into Big Screen Movies

Top Ten Tuesday

It’s  Top Ten Tuesday time  (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) . Today we get a freebie and can write about anything. I choose to pick my Top Ten Books that I would like to be adapted for the BIG Screen.

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Why: Not only is it a marvelous story with incredible illusions, romance and various different locations, it also will  be stunning visually with the costumes and the Circus itself. I really, really hope this happens one day, because I will be the first in line.

Nowwmf

The KingKiller Chronicles Series By Patrick Rothfuss

Why: I love everything about this series. I would love to see it all come to life.

THE RAVEN BOYS

he Raven Boys Chronicles Series by Maggie Stiefvater

Why: Who would not love to see Gansy or Ronan come to life? Not to mention Maggie has written a spectacular story here. It is definitely worth turning into multiple movies.

never

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Why: There is a whole other world existing just below London, a world filled with monsters and angels and floating markets. The story of a regular guy name Richard who has a girl named Door stumble into his life and how by helping her he changes his life forever.

oceans

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Why: It’s Neil Gaiman…it’s his latest adult work. It’s strange, and stunning and brilliant. It teaches us about being human, about the power of stories and how they can keep us safe from the darkness outside and inside too.

beat

Beauty and the Beast – The Disney Version

Why: Okay, I know this was already a movie, but it was an animated movie. I would love to see it be turned into a real movie. I loved the black and white french version of the story, but a beautifully costumed movie with a perfect actress like Emma Watson (definitely not Kristen Stuart) would be fabulous. Also the Disney version has talking objects and I would love to see how they would CGI that.

 anne

Anne Of Green Gables Series- By: L.M. Montgomery 

Why: It’s such a classic. I grew up reading this series. There was a tv series on PBS, but it only went so far. I would love to have a movie or two made to tell this tale properly and fully. The original actress of the tv series was very talented and they would need to pick an actress that was just as wonderful.

 

 cuckoo

The Cuckoo’s Calling- By: Robert Galbraith…aka…J.K. Rowling

Why: This is the first book in J.K. Rowling’s new mystery/detective series. The story is very good and there are lots of potential for more movies especially if  she keeps writing more books about our hero Strike. A win for the Studio and a win for us fans.

painted

The Painted Girls- By: Cathy Marie Buchanan

Why: It’s a book inspired about Edgar Degas ballerina paintings. Another glorious costume/historical/period movie only this one also would have art and show the seedy side of the underground ballet world.

mis

Mistress of My Fate – By: Hallie Rubenhold

Why: I love a good historical period piece. The potential of gorgeous costumes, hair and makeup and just good old-fashioned France. Also this is a pretty steamy book, so plenty of eye candy.

What did you think of my picks?

What books would you love to see be turned into movies? 

Book Review: Rooms by Lauren Oliver

Book Review: Rooms by Lauren OliverRooms by Lauren Oliver
Published by Ecco on September 23rd 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Paranormal, Supernatural
Pages: 320
Goodreads
two-half-stars

The New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with this mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways
Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.
But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb.
The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.
Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

Rooms is the story of The Walker family and the two ghosts (Alice and Sandra) that abide within the “rooms” of the recently deceased Richard Walker’s house. The ghosts only remember tidbits of their deaths and spend lots of time watching and making snide comments about the Walker family members. The Walkers are your typical dysfunctional family with Caroline the alcoholic mom, the sexpot daughter Minna who uses sex to escape her loneliness, and the suicidal angst-filled teenager son Trenton.  They have all gathered at the house to go over Richard’s will and to cleanup and organize the house.

When I started this book, I really wanted to like it. Having heard such wonderful things about Lauren Oliver’s previous work I had high expectations but possibly this was not the book I should have started on. I struggled to get through this book. There was not one character in this book that I could actually connect with, or even somewhat like. I kept reading because I thought that maybe something great would eventually happen, or that the story would finally charm me. I’m all for strange books, weird stories, stories that don’t quite fit, but this one did not manage to make me feel even lukewarm about it. It’s slow, and yes secrets are revealed about almost every member of the family and the ghosts themselves, but by the time I got to those secrets I disliked the characters so much I didn’t care.  It was actually a pretty depressing read, which normally does not bother me, but I went into this book thinking it would be a depressing ghost story and that is not what I got.  The story is told from various points of views  which made it sort of hard to follow. Too many voices, jumping around and trying to make themselves heard but not quite getting across. I wish I could have better things to say about it, but I can’t. It was boring and the story fell flat.  I hope that the next book of Lauren’s that I read I will enjoy more because she seems very talented, and has a unique voice. This was just not the story for me.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

two-half-stars

Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag

Book Review: The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van PraagThe Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag
Published by Ballantine Books on December 30th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 326
Goodreads
four-half-stars

For fans of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, and Adriana Trigiani, The Dress Shop of Dreams is a captivating novel of enduring hopes, second chances, and the life-changing magic of true love.
Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.
Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells—like true love—can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realizes she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.

This book was a delight to read. It charmed me from the first few sentences as if Etta herself was stitching a little red star unto my soul. A book about a little dress shop, that’s filled with more than pretty gowns and baubles. The owner Etta Sparks creates dresses that will complete the person that wears them. Be it fulfilling their need for confidence, beauty, potential for success or finding their true love with a little magic red thread she stitches the shape of a star in the lining of the dress. By doing this Etta can give the wearer the power to achieve whatever they most need and desire. I must say that I absolutely LOVED the descriptions about the dress shop and the dresses. Being a seamstress myself (whenever I have time) I love reading about the art of making clothing and the materials behind it.

The story is also about Cora Carraway who was orphaned as a young child and was raised by her grandmother Etta. She is a no-nonsense scientist with an obsession for counting everything (sort of a coping mechanism I believe). Due to the loss of her parents Cora has locked her emotions away and has not had much success with finding love and Etta thinks it’s time to take matters into her own hands.

On the same street as the dress shop there is a bookstore owned by Walt. Walt has known Cora since they were small children and he has been in love with her ever since . However Cora has never noticed the way Walt feels about her. He also is the voice of the Night Reader, a radio show on a local station where he narrates books. He gets plenty of fan mail from ladies that are infatuated with him, but the only woman he ever wanted is Cora.

The book has many other characters including:

Milly who ever since the death of her husband has shut herself off from the world and is finally putting herself out into the world now that she has received a letter from the Night Reader.

Dylan, who is answering the letter that the Night Reader has been receiving.

 Father Sebastian who listens to the confessions of so many, but hides his own secrets.

Officer Henry and his wife Francesca who has taken his son back to Italy but Henry does not understand why.

The story intertwines around all these lives and as it moves forward you begin to see how they each connect to one another. Along with a bit of romance, a little bit of red star magic being sewn here and there, the mystery of Cora’s parents’ death, some heartbreak and a little chaos the story is able to balance everything and everyone out. It does eventually come to the expected happy ending, though it was a bumpy trip getting there for all those involved.

It was a very satisfying and fast read, especially during the holidays in the comfort of my chair and with a cup of hot chocolate. I would highly recommend this book for anyone wanting a little light-hearted, whimsical, feel good about life story.

Thank you to the publisher Ballantine Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

four-half-stars

Book Review: Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Book Review: Ticker by Lisa MantchevTicker by Lisa Mantchev
Published by Skyscape on December 1st 2014
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Young Adult
Pages: 273
Goodreads
three-stars

A girl with a clockwork heart must make every second count.
When Penny Farthing nearly dies, brilliant surgeon Calvin Warwick manages to implant a brass “Ticker” in her chest, transforming her into the first of the Augmented. But soon it’s discovered that Warwick killed dozens of people as he strove to perfect another improved Ticker for Penny, and he’s put on trial for mass murder.
On the last day of Warwick’s trial, the Farthings’ factory is bombed, Penny’s parents disappear, and Penny and her brother, Nic, receive a ransom note demanding all of their Augmentation research if they want to see their parents again. Is someone trying to destroy the Farthings...or is the motive more sinister?
Desperate to reunite their family and rescue their research, Penny and her brother recruit fiery baker Violet Nesselrode, gentleman-about-town Sebastian Stirling, and Marcus Kingsley, a young army general who has his own reasons for wanting to lift the veil between this world and the next. Wagers are placed, friends are lost, romance stages an ambush, and time is running out for the girl with the clockwork heart.

I bought Ticker on a whim. The cover looked pretty, I needed something different to read and the synopsis sounded interesting. Here are my thoughts about it.

Ticker is a “Steampunk” novel about a girl named Penny with a clockwork heart. Due to a heart condition that plagues the females in her family, Penny is always living on the brink of dying. Doctor Warwick managed to install a brass ticker that works as a windup heart…aka a steampunk version of a pacemaker.In order to gather all the data to accomplish this technology, Warwick apparently had been experimenting on actual people, which lead to him being accused of murder once the truth was discovered.

The book opens with Warwick’s sentencing about to be delivered and our heroine Penny heading off to meet her twin Nic at their parent’s factory.   Just before she arrives there is an explosion at the factory and she runs in to find her brother, which she does. They head home only to find that their house has been ransacked and that their parents have been kidnapped. Up to this point Penny and her brother believe that the kidnappers are people who are protesting “mechanical augmentation” of humans, but that is not so.

Along with Penny and Nic embark on a mission to find out what happened to their parents and the truth about Warwick, and along for the ride they bring Violet (Penn’s best friend and Nic’s fiance) and Sebastian (Violets’s rogue brother).  There is also Marcus, who apparently is the head of  the law system in this world, and also becomes Penny’s love interest.

Overall the book was a fast read, and amusing. I was looking for something light and different and I found it in Ticker. My favorite character was Penny. She was witty, and very independent. She was brave and definitely not going to let anything, not even her weak heart get in the way of her living life to the fullest.

I did feel that there were parts, especially as the end approached that were rushed. It would have been nice to get more of a backstory on the other characters and for all the characters to have had time to develop (especially for us to actually understand their connection to one another). There are many things about the novel that the writer is asking the reader to basically just “go with it”.  There is no real explanation about the world the novel is set in, how their government runs, where the real “live” animals all are, or come from, seeing that horses are mechanical and so are all the bugs. The technology has no explanation either, and at some point there is alchemy mentioned, but it doesn’t go much further than a passing mention. It’s almost like you are thrown into the middle of the story, as if this was Book 2 of a series and Book 1 never quite made it to the printers. However if you want to just go into a book for the fun of it, and to not over think the story too much, Ticker will fulfill your need for fantasy and escapism.

**This review was originally posted on Reading In The Tardis**

three-stars