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29 January 2011

January Top 5: Books We've Always Wanted To Read (But Have Never Gotten Around To)

To begin the new year, we Broads thought long and hard about what we should tackle in our first Top 5 of 2011.  Top 5 things J.R.Ward does in her BDB series that drive us nuts? Top 5 reasons books are better than men? (We liked that one so much we're considering doing that for February.)  We finally decided on the Top 5 books we've always wanted to read. 

Why we haven't read these books before is often a long story we promise not to tell because we really don't want to bore people.  Most of the time, we heard about them or had every intent of reading them, and then another, usually more salacious book came about and off we were chasing incredibly sexy men down some romantic rabbit hole.  Or real life crashed in and that long intended book got pushed down in the TBR pile. 

But without further ado, here are the Top 5 books we've always wanted to read.

1.  Gone With The Wind/ War And Peace
2.  Don Quixote/Anna Karenina
3.  The Gift of the Magi/Gone With The Wind
4.  King Richard III/ Northanger Abby
5.  Alexander Hamilton/ The History Of The Ancient World

Alexandria:  I've always considered reading Gone With The Wind, and not because I'm a huge fan of the film either.  Not that it's a bad movie, but it's a time commitment I rarely can afford.  This is also why I've never read the book.  It's huge.  That's generally not my shtick.  That's Moira's gig. (You have to see the tomes she gravitates toward.  Shoowee mama!)

Moira: For years I have been claiming that I will read War And Peace by Tolstoy, but I have hesitated to take on such a large volume.  My hesitations have come to an end, as a friend has just given me loan of her copy.  Russian history and culture greatly interest me, so I look forward to finally tackling this tome and blogging my thoughts in review soon! 

AlexandriaDon Quixote.  This is a sort of entry since I have read the abridged version but never the complete version.  I enjoyed the version I read a great deal, but again, it's a sizable book and I find that everyday life intrudes on novels this size to the point where I put them down and never pick them up again. 

Moira: Tolstoy occupies the number one and two slots on this month's Top Five list for me.  Anna Karenina has been recommended to me numerous times, and I will finally give this novel my attention once I have finished the author's other novel on my "to do" list.  Among readers, I have found little middle ground of opinion when Tolstoy is mentioned.  Readers either love or disdain this famous author.  My views are yet undiscovered.

AlexandriaThe Gift of the Magi.  I've read a few O. Henry stories, but this one has always escaped my grasp when I go to grab a book.  I think I may even have a copy of it somewhere.  This may have to be one of my new year's resolutions books this year. 

Moira:  Gone With The Wind makes my top five, as I absolutely love the movie.  It is one of my favorites.  Years ago, I stayed at 'Tara, A Country Inn', in Ohio, where the rooms are named and decorated after famous GWTW characters and sayings.  My pick was, 'Fiddle Dee-Dee', and it did not disappoint.  Usually, I like the book better than the movie, and I hope this is the case with Gone With The Wind.

AlexandriaKing Richard III.  I love Shakespeare, but my reading of the histories is woeful.  I've always heard Richard III is one of the histories to read, but I've never gotten to it.  Part of the problem is that I've never been a fan of reading Shakespeare and not seeing the play performed, and in my neck of the woods, seeing Richard III would be akin to seeing a polka dotted zebra. 

Moira:  Being a great fan of Jane Austen, I blush to admit that Northanger Abby is the only of her famous works that I have neglected.  The anniversary of her birthday recently was celebrated, and I purchased this lone unread novel for my Kindle 'TBR' archive.

AlexandriaAlexander Hamilton.  It's with shame that I admit I've never read Ron Chernow's biography of one of the most influential Founding Fathers because I know I own this book.  It haunts me from the bookcase in my bedroom.  I've read about half of it and for whatever reason, I never got back to it.  To know me is to know I love reading about Alexander Hamilton, but somehow Chernow's book is still sitting there waiting for me to pick it up again.  Perhaps this is the year, Alexander.

Moira:  The History Of The Ancient World is a title I couldn't wait to purchase.  I went so far as to obtain a signed copy from author Susan Wise Bauer along with her second volume, History Of The Medieval World.  The thought of reading an account of medieval history lured me to read out of order, and I have never returned to finish the ancients. It, like Alexandria's Hamilton, taunts me from the end-table beside my favorite reading spot, to which I respond...., "Easy now...I'll get to you.  I promise."

22 January 2011

Awakened by a Kiss: A Fiery Tales Collection-Lila DiPasqua

A book of retellings of three classic fairy tales-Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, and Puss In Boots-Awakened by a Kiss takes Charles Perrault's original tales and puts a delicious erotic spin on them.  All three short stories are divine in their adaptations of the originals, and this reader is definitely a fan of Ms. DiPasqua's writing. 

In the first story, Sleeping Beau, Adrien d'Aspe is a rake who has any woman he wants as his beck and call, but he can't forget one mysterious woman who seduced him five years before at a masquerade ball.  When he meets her again, he decides he must have her again, but she is to marry another man.  Adrien is a consummate seducer though, and he knows how to get around any obstacle, so another man is mere child's play.

The second story, Little Red Writing, involves Nicolas de Savignac, a member of the King's elite guard, and his quest to find who has been writing scandalous stories about powerful nobles and their antics.  His investigation leads to his grandmother's home, where he meets Anne and his sisters.  He immediately suspects Anne of being the scandalous writer and decides to seduce her to find out the truth.  But his feelings begin to make the prospect of hauling Anne away to prison more impossible each day he spends with her. For Anne, meeting Nicholas begins to change her from a woman who sees little good in men to one who can be open to love.

The third story, Bewitching in Boots, is about Elizabeth de Roussel, the favorite daughter of the King, and Tristan de Tiersonnier, the injured former head of the King's private guard who she has been in love with for years.  But Tristan, a man who is used to wielding his power over all around him, has no interest in who he sees as a spoiled brat of a woman.  Elizabeth is strong willed, though, and she has no intention of letting the man she loves wither away at his country estate feeling bad for himself because he has been sent into retirement as a result of his injury. Armed with a letter from the King ordering Tristan to be her new fencing instructor, Elizabeth plans to work her seductive magic to show him that not only is he strong enough to be the commander again, but he's man enough to be her husband.  For Tristan, Elizabeth's arrival is just the thing to bring him out of his exile and right into her arms.

Lila DiPasqua's stories are all quite good, but my favorite is the third story.  Tristan is just the kind of hero I like to read about, strong and dominant.  I particularly enjoyed that Elizabeth is as strong a character as he is.  They make a fantastic match, and the story is just great.

Read Awakened by a Kiss for three wonderful historical romances that have yummy eroticism as a bonus.  I will definitely be seeking out Lila DiPasqua's books in the future. 


Fiery Fairy Tales...................

Lila DiPasqua has taken favorite fairy tales and added her own twists to offer Awakened By A Kiss, three short stories, Sleeping Beau, Little Red Writing, and, Bewitching In Boots.  Each was entertaining, with my personal favorite being Sleeping Beau, the mixed up tale of a classic, Sleeping Beauty.  In DiPasqua's rendition, the beau is put to sleep by a beauty, seduced, and left with nothing but the memory of a woman he cannot forget.  When he encounters her at a later date, he determines to have her for good. 

DePasqua's retellings are more erotica than anything, and while the stories were cute, they are not incredibly well written and lack depth.  Instead, the author offers an easy read to simply enjoy while curled up with a cup of coffee.  I recommend it heartily for a light read with some spice.


19 January 2011

Only The Wind Remembers, by Marlo Schalesky

I Love To Tell The Story.......
Based on actual events, Marlo Schalesky's novel of historical fiction begins in 1911, when the last Yahi Indian leaves the lonely woods behind and enters the "saldu", or white man's world.  Taken in by the new Museum of Indian Artifacts, the Indian, Ishi, is introduced to many new people and concepts.  Thomas Morgan, a young scientist, takes a personal interest in Ishi beyond his potential as a specimen of the last "Stone-Age Indian" in North America, and Thomas' wife, Allison forms a deep bond with Ishi.  She had been abandoned as a child, and Allison carries loneliness in her heart, allowing her to understand Ishi's loneliness at being the last of his people.  Ishi instinctively understands that Allison feels unworthy of love, and he is certain he has found the person to whom he must tell the story he has carried for so many years.  As Allison learns the Yahi language, Ishi begins the secret tale of his people, a tale that will be lost unless he passes it on, a tale of unworthiness and ultimate redemption.

Only The Wind Remembers is a wonderful novel.  Schalesky captures the mood and climate of the early 1900's capably, especially in reference to society's views concerning women's roles in the home and workplace.  Allison Morgan, the main female character, struggles against 'fear of man", and her desire to be accepted by those she sees as "valuable people" skewes her ability to see what is valuable within herself.  Ishi was, for this Broad, the most impressive character.  Schalesky's writing of Ishi's thoughts and feelings throughout the novel, but especially before anyone else can speak his language, was well-done, indeed.  From his mannerisms to his quiet pride to the beautiful telling of Yuna's Tale, Schalesky's depiction of Ishi as an Indian felt authentic.  Of course, Ishi learns much from the cast of characters he encounters in the white man's world.  His impressions of "saldu" life, society, technology, and relationships were thought provoking. 
While Ishi learns much about inventions and technology, he teaches about acceptance, forgiveness, and faith.

Only The Wind Remembers is a powerful story of faith, sacrifice, and the great and enduring love that true forgiveness inspires.


15 January 2011

Thumbing Through Thoreau, Kenny Luck

Author Kenny Luck found the time to catch up with the Broads and discuss his book, Thumbing Through Thoreau, published by Tribute Books.   

Kenny Luck is a longtime resident of Northeastern Pennsylvania.  His book was endorsed by the Thoreau Society, and is a wonderful introduction to Thoreau. 

BB:  What prompted you to begin collecting Thoreau quotes, and how did this project become a book idea?

Kenny Luck:  As an undergrad student in the spring of 2005, I took a nature studies class at Marywood University.  I knew of Thoreau, but it wasn't until 2006, that I took a serious reading, and noticed the connection of nature and independence in his work as I collected quotes.  I contacted the Thoreau Society and asked to look through some journals, and so, my project began growing.  It sat for a few years before the idea of publishing became a serious option that I considered.   

BB:  What is your favorite book by Thoreau?

Kenny Luck:  It would have to be Walden.  I found it witty.  My second favorite is The Maine Woods, which was not published until after the author's death.

BB:  Can you tell us your favorite Thoreau quote, if you have one?

Kenny Luck:  "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential fact of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discovered that I had not lived." ~ Walden, " Where I've Lived"

BB:.  Will you seek to do another compilation, and if so, do you have any ideas on the author?

Kenny Luck:  Possibly, although I cannot say for sure. I think it may be fun to seek out a lesser known author such as Louisa May Alcott.  

BB:  What is next for you in your writing career?

Kenny Luck:  I'm working on a book entitled NEPAtized about the culture of Northeastern Pennsylvania and writing for a local newspaper.  In addition, I'm involved with other people's writing as an adjunct writing instructor. 

BB:  We Broads want to thank Kenny for taking the time to visit us here at Brazen Broads Book Bash and want to congratulate him on winning Best Writer in NEPA through the Electric City magazine.  You can find Kenny's book Thumbing Through Thoreau at Tribute Books and Amazon. We wish Kenny luck with his writing and look forward to reading his work.

12 January 2011

Esther's Child, Jean Sasson

Every Tribe And Nation Has Been Oppressed; Every Tribe And Nation Have Been Oppressors.....

Esther's Child is a moving novel which chronicles the history of four families whose lives are directly and indirectly affected by the Jewish Holocaust.  The Stein family from Warsaw, Poland are Hasidim Jews, and their daughter, Esther, meets Joseph Gale, son of the secular Jewish Gale family while visiting family in Paris, France, in 1937.  Their eventual marriage unites these two families to face the unspeakable acts perpetrated against Jews during the Holocaust. 

Frederich Kleist left Berlin, Germany, a 19-year old newly made SS Officer, but returned a much older, haunted man.  A bizarre twist of fate allows him, through his child, to seek redemption from his guilt and begin healing in his own family.  His German wife, Eva, struggles to understand Frederich's guilt, as she suffered greatly under the hands of Russian soldiers in the war's aftermath. 

The Antoun family, Palestinian Arabs, flee Israel to the Shatila refugee camp in Lebanon to escape their war torn homeland, however their flight prevents them from ever returning to their homeland.  Reduced from relative comfort to abject poverty, Demetrius Antoun learns to hate the Jews, whom he sees as the oppressors, and the Lebanese, who don't want the Palestinian refugees in their land either.  Strangely, one fateful act committed in haste years before and revealed much later will cause Demetrius to question his entire existence, his perceptions of good and evil, love and hate, family and belonging.

Jean Sasson's novel, Esther's Child, was difficult to put down.  A powerful story of love and hate, defeat and triumph, and finding one's place in this often cruel and chaotic world, Sasson's book weaves through Pre-War Europe, World War II, the advent of the Jewish State, the rise of the PLO, the 1982 Beirut invasion, and beyond as these four families live the history that continues to divide people today.  Each family's story is both heartwarming and tragic, and Sasson was decently fair in her portrayal of each side of the issue.  I'll stop at that, as this Broad is well read and a bit zealous about this topic.  This is a novel, not an historical account.

Well worth reading, I recommend Esther's Child wholeheartedly.  The only problem I encountered was in the author's ending.  It was a bit melodramatic for a story already written around the dramatic events listed above.  I otherwise quite enjoyed it.


08 January 2011

Lust-Charlotte Featherstone

Rarely do I read historical romance/erotica and say, "Wow!  That was fantastic!"  But I said it after finishing Charlotte Featherstone's new book in her Sins and Virtues series, Lust.  I love this book!  I love the idea behind it.  I love the way she portrays the characters.  I love the way Featherstone writes a sex scene.  If you like erotic historical romances, Lust is the book for you. 

The story involves the idea of the Seelie Fae and the Unseelie Fae and each court's desire to find the women who embody the seven virtues of chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.  The Seelie Fae want them to bear their children, but the Unseelie Court needs them for something even more important:  only these women can break a curse set upon the Unseelie Fae by the queen of the Seelie Fae ages ago that condemns the princes to each suffer from one of the seven deadly sins.  If the Unseelie Fae can make these women fall in love with them, then the curse can be broken and their court can once again thrive.  If not, they will wither away and die. 

Prince Thane is an Unseelie Fae and lives with the sin of lust.  He must make Chastity Lennox, the embodiment of her virtue, fall in love with him.  But unlike all other females, mortal and Fae alike, Chastity does not immediately fall at Thane's feet.  She resists him, which entices him even more.  Only when Thane finds her one weakness is he able to seduce her into falling for him, heart and soul. 

Featherstone knows how to write erotic scenes, no doubt.  Thane is a wonderful romantic hero, and Chastity is quite good as the heroine. Not too heavy on the romance, Lust is about exactly that:  lust.  If you're looking for more historical romance with a dash of erotica, you've gotten the wrong book.  But if you're looking for well written erotic romance set in the Georgian period, look no further. 

The true mark of a book I like is if I wish the author had a sequel I can run out and purchase immediately.  There's no doubt that having to wait for her next entry in the Sins and Virtues series is going to be a difficult wait.  The author includes a good deal about Thane's twin brother, Kian, who is saddled with the sin of Envy, and his virtue, Mercy Lennox, who embodies kindness.  I hope that's the next book in this series because he was as divine as his brother.

Lust is definitely a must read for romance/erotica readers!


Lust was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, through NetGalley.

Every Virtue Has Its Vice..............

Born as one of the seven virtues along with her sisters, Chastity embodies purity.  Her father had been visited by the Fey queen of the Seelie Court and blessed with virtuous daughters, but things are not always as they appear, as the gift from the Seelie queen is part of an ongoing feud between the Seelie Fey and the Unseelie - or Dark Fey. 

Long ago, the Seelie queen cursed the Dark Fey princes to encase the seven deadly sins.  As their Unseelie Court dies out, they discover that to break the curse, they must love and be loved by their opposing virtues.  Only then will the Dark Fey be able to carry on their line.  They cannot carry their virtue off by force to their Unseelie Court; she must go willingly.  Thane, who houses lust within his Dark Fey body, finds his opposing virtue, purity, in Chastity Lennox, and he must win her love before a rival prince from the Seelie Court carries her off, leaving Thane eternally separated from his missing half.

Featherstone has hit upon a great idea for a series, and she delighted in Lust, the first this Broad has read.  Chastity is portrayed as purity, and the author convinced quite well considering the difficulties one would face in writing the wooing and seduction of the virtue of purity.  Also, the Dark Fey prince, Thane was done wonderfully.  While he embodies the sin of lust, and of course all that would naturally go along with that particular vice, Featherstone managed to make him likable as a character.  This is Lust, who conjures up a sexy prince image anyway, and this Broad is interested to see if the author will fare as successfully with a less 'sensual/acceptable' sin such as gluttony or sloth, both decidedly unattractive qualities.

Lust was wholly enjoyable, and I will read the next in the series.  The only complaint I have is that Featherstone did not explain why the Seelie prince didn't take Chastity to his court where Thane would not have been able to follow or interfere.  Granted, it would have ruined the story, but it was too obvious a solution to ignore and therefore needed an explanation. 

Take a chance on Charlotte Featherstone's daring will enjoy.



01 January 2011

Seducing The Vampire-Michele Hauf

A vampire story set in the opulent time of Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution, Seducing The Vampire is a delicious story with all the things this Broad loves:  vampires, lust, and sex. Revolving around a trio of characters, Seducing The Vampire is a sexy romance spanning centuries.

Viviane is a born vampire and after her sponsor is murdered, Constantine, another born vampire seeks to make her his own.  He needs someone like him to sire his children and continue his group of vampires.  But Viviane isn't used to being tied down, and she recoils from Constantine's advances. 

While he is pursuing her, she meets Rhys, a half wolf and half vampire, and unbeknownst to her, he is Constantine's half brother.  The two have been feuding for years and there's no love lost between them.  When Constantine finds out that she's been with Rhys, he exacts his revenge:  He has a spell cast on her that traps her between life and death and then has her sealed in a glass coffin in the sewers below Paris, forced to endure eternity away from the man she loves and unable to live or die. 

Seducing The Vampire moves seamlessly from present day when Rhys hears about the Snow White vampiress to the past when they'd loved one another.  Constantine is the consummate bad guy the reader wants to see punished, and Rhys is a wonderful romantic hero.  The love triangle works well in the story.  In the end, there's a happily ever after for the lovers and they even have twins, which sets up the sequel to Seducing The Vampire.  I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for that story.


Seducing The Vampire was provided for review by the publisher, Harlequin, through NetGalley.

A Seduction Indeed......En Francoise...
Viviane La Mourette, a blood borne vampiress, lives an existence unknown to most female vampires in the late 1700's Paris.  Her patron has allowed her much freedom in life, but upon his untimely demise, Viviane finds herself a priceless commodity to a powerful vampire, Lord Constantine Salignac, as he needs a blood borne female to produce an heir.  Not wishing to put herself in the cruel hands of this new would-be patron, she desperately seeks an alternative.  When Viviane encounters the devastatingly handsome Rhys Hawkes at a ball, she at once assumes he is but another who would attempt to possess her for personal gain, and she senses something unnaturally different about the man; however, there is also something luring her to him recklessly.
Rhys Hawkes carries a number of secrets with him, and revealing them could enact his salvation, or his damnation.  When he meets Viviane La Mourette, her azure eyes captivate him, but the knowledge that she is the prize his enemy, Constantine Salignac, desires fuels him to usurp Salignac's power and win her spirit and body.  He doesn't count on falling in love, nor does he desire it, for he harbors a duplicity within himself that puts them both in great danger. 

Hauf's tale of love, loss, and betrayal spans more than two centuries, and the author writes a delicious storyline.  Both Viviane and Rhys are characters with interesting histories, and each brings complex issues into their burgeoning relationship.  While I enjoyed the definite tension these created, I also thought the novel was too drawn out in certain aspects.  The modern day scenes added secondary characters which could have enhanced the story much more than they did.  Hawkes' relationship with Simon, his 'assistant', was not tapped into enough to satisfy this Broad's curiosity, and a lack of reckoning in regard to the heinous crimes of Salignac and the witch, Ian, disappointed considerably.  That said, Hauf's ending was a terrific one, and it was a welcome surprise, whetting my appetite for Valient's tale, due out in spring 2011.




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