In accordance to the FTC guidelines, I must state that I make no monetary gains from my reviews or endorsements here on Confessions of a Literary Persuasion. All books I review are either borrowed, purchased by me, given as a gift, won, or received in exchange for my honest review of the book in question.

01 November, 2016

Book Review: Luncheon of the Boating Party by Susan Vreeland

title: Luncheon of the Boating Party
Author: Susan Vreeland
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: 2008

There are paintings throughout history that are very well known by everyone. Pierre August Renoir's painting Le Déjeuner des canotiers also known as The Luncheon of the Boating Party is one of those paontings that helped make the Impressionism movement as well known as it is today. Author Susan Vreeland has taken this painting and the creation of it and written a narrative that takes readers back to Paris in the 1880's when Renoir undertook the large scale creation of a painting that he envisioned showing in the yearly salon. In this painting, he had fourteen friends model for him on the terrace of the restaurant La Maison Fournaise. Bt including a mixture of men, women, and high society as well as working class men and women in his painting, Renoir showed the changing ideals of Parisian society. The author  draws her readers into the life of Renoir and life in Paris after the Prussian War in a beautiful and engaging way.

I adored this book, personally. I grew up in a home that adored the Impressionists. My artists father had prints of many of Monet's paintings hanging up. I spent much time as a child in the Impressionist gallery of the Art Institute as a child and teenager looking at the paintings on display by Monet, Renoir, Mary Cassualt, Georges Seurat, Édouard Manet, and Edgar Degas. I still have a love of this art movement and it's influence on future movements such as the post impressionists and the Neo-Impressionists.

 I started with an audio copy which has a wonderful reader. However,  and I I ended up switching to a print copy as I was having trouble keeping characters and events in mind and the book let me easily flip back to remind myself of events and people. I found this to be an interesting narrative of the composition and execution of this painting. I really feel like I got a glimpse into Renoir's life and mind while he was painting.

01 October, 2016

Award winning SFF reading challenge

Shaunesay at The Space Between is hosting a reading challenge to read science fiction and fantasy award winning books. I plan on taking part in this challenge. I am not sure what books I will read yet. I am currently looking at award lists and seeing if any of my TBR pile are included on any of them.  Elengil and I recently started the Chronicals of Amber series by Roger Zelazny as six of the books in the series are award winners I am listing them on my award winning books to be read list.

Books to read:

Books finished reading:

10/1/2016 Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelanzy - Mythopoic Fantasy Award (1971). I started this challenge a little early unknowingly. A few days ago, Elengil and I started listening to this during our evening commute home. We finished it early today and are continuing the series. 

10/1/2016 The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny - Mythopoic Fantasy Award (1973). This is book two in the Chronicles of Amber series. Just as fantastic as book 1, we learn more about the magic and the warring factions of the family members wanting to claim the throne. 

10/7/2016The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny - Locus Award for Best Novel (1977) This part of the story had the feel of a Greek tragedy. At one point E turned to me and said that he thought one of the characters would end up being Corwin's father in disguise. He felt the story was taking the narrative of the king wants to figure out which of his children is the best choice for succeeding him by befriending him while in disguise.  We start to see how Corwin's experiences and long stay on the Shadow Earth have changed him as a person. The more he remembers of his past life as a prince of Amber the more he disagrees with some of his past actions and decisions. 

10/9/2016The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny Locus Award for Best Novel (1979) This is the fifth book in the Chronicals of Amber and the last of the Corwin arc. The conclusion includes a war between Amber and Chaos which has been building throughout the prior books. It ended in a way that felt like a cliffhanger even though I know that the series continues with a new narrator.

10/11/2016 - Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelazny - Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (1986) - The Trumps of Doom is the sixth book in the Chronicles of Amber. It is also the first book in the Merlin cycle. Narrated by Merlin, son of Corwin who has been raised in the courts of Chaos as well as Amber. Merlin is now living in San Francisco in the shadow Earth his father had called home, and every year on April 30 someone tried to kill him. This time his girlfriend Julia ends up dead and her death, along with a pack of strange trump cards sends him into Shadow and ultimately Amber trying to track down the person responsible.

10/21/2016 - Sign of Chaos - by Roger Zelazny Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (1988) This is book 8 of the Chronicles of Amber. Merle has been perused through shadow by unknown enemies. He is trapped in an Alice in Wonderland world - a bar with the Mad Hatter serving and the Cheshire Cat grinning malevolently. In a dramatic escape from a monstrous Jabberwock, Merle embarks upon a fantastic adventure, leading him back to the Court of Amber and finally to a confrontation at the Keep of Four Worlds. At the keep he learns some secrets that point him back towards the courts of Chaos and his destiny.

16 September, 2016

Reading updates

At the end of the Bout of books read a thon I started a Harry Potter reread and finally finishing the series. I have gotten in the habit of posting reviews twice a week over the summer. However I think I may do an altogether post with all 7 books when I finish reading them. I am on book seven now so maybe in the next week or so. 

I think it will beggars to review a series that is already so well known, but we will see. 

06 September, 2016

Book Review: Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

Title: Lemonade Mouth
Author: Mark Peter Hughes
Publisher: November 11, 2008
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Lemonade Mouth is the story of five misfit 9th graders who meet in detention. in a moment of goofing off while the teacher monitoring the detention session is out of the room they discover an affinity for music. Persuaded by that same teacher, Stella, Olivia, Mo, Charlie and Wen form a band that is eclectic and good. On their way to becoming a cohesive group they each battle their own challenges. Stella compares herself against her geniuses of a mother and sister and sees hersekf as dumb rather than the wave making, trouble making, thought provoking personality that she has. Mo struggles with life as a first generation Indian-American girl. Her family wants her to live by their traditional roles for girls while she wants to be a normal American teen. Olivia struggles with being an introvert with a secret about her parents which she believes will drive friends away when they find out. Charlie talks to the personality he attributes to his twin brother who died as an infant. Wen struggles with a one sided attraction to his father's new girlfriend and struggles with the idea of his family changing.

What I loved about this book was how the story was told. it alternated through the viewpoints of the five members of the band as well as a few fans and friends of the five. We really get to see how these five very different teens are thrown together and form very close ties of friendship. Their music lets the teens stand up against the oppression that they feel as misfits and musicians in a school that has changed it's focus to the athletes due to a corporate sponsorship to gain money to finish building the new gym. They begin to build other friendships outside of the group, and help their classmates see past the divide of popularity.

I read this book after seeing the Disney movie based on it. While I really enjoyed the movie I adored the book. This is one of those books that every preteen and young teenager should read as it portrays the struggles and development of ideals that they will each face as they enter high school. I also found myself wanting tunes to go along with the lyrics of the songs that Lemonade Mouth sings in the book.

01 September, 2016

Book Review: Dead Sexy by Tate Hallaway

Title: Dead Sexy
Author: Tate Hallaway
Series: Garnet Lacey #2
Publisher: Berkley Books
Publication Date: May 1, 2007

Garnet Lacey has been on the run for a year. The previous Halloween,  her coven had been attacked by members of the Order of Eustace, a witch hunting order sanctioned by the Vatican. Garnet arrived late to their gathering to find all the other members murdered. Garnet escaped only by calling the Goddess Lilith into her, allowing the Goddess to control her body and take vengeance. With help from her ex boyfriend, the vampire Daniel Parrish bodies were disposed of and Garnet fled Minneapolis for Madison, Wisconsin.

When FBI agent Gabriel Dominguez shows up at the bookstore Garnet works at several days before the anniversary of the murders Garnet panics. She thinks she is being looked for as a suspect for the events that night. resorting to Magic to get Dominguez to listen to her, Lilith adds an oomph to the spell that results in unexpected results. Add in that Garnet's current boyfriend Sebastian, who is also a vampire, is jealous of her continued friendship with Parrish bringing relationship problems to the forefront. On top of everything else, there is a voodoo queen killing students from the University of Wisconsin and turning them into zombies to attend to.

There is so much to do before Halloween. Can Garnet prove her innocence and that she was under the control of Lilith and that her actions of the year before were self defense or will she end up in jail for murder? Can she stop the woman who is turning the student population of U.W. Madison into her zombie slaves? Can she complete the unfinished business between herself and Parrish to get Sebastian back in her life?

I picked this up last fall from a local little free library because of the cover and the back blurb. I was sucked into the book. While it is the second book in the series, it stands on it own well. It was fast paced, and full of magic, romance, and mystery. I'm a sucker for gothy, witchy characters and Garnet Lacey fits those parameters to a T. I thought it the perfect fun slightly fluffy book to read on a summer's day off and finished it in one sitting.  I'm looking forwards to picking up the third book in the series which has just jumped to the top of the TBR pile.

30 August, 2016

Book Review: The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby

Title: The Clockwork Three
Author: Matthew Kirby
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: October 2010

Three children in a mysterious American city on the coast find their lives intertwined together by strange happenings. As they develop friendships with each other they come to discover that they need to work together to help each other with the problems that plague their lives.

Giuseppe, is an Italian orphan who was bought from his uncle and taken from his home in Italy and his siblings to work as a street musician for a padrone named Stephano. As one of Stephano's "wards" Giuseppe busks on different street corners throughout the city, playing a worn fiddle and collecting coins that are brought back to Stephano every night. It has been six years since he was brought from Italy, and he wants to return to find his brother and sister who had been left with his uncle. But he has no way to get a boat ticket as they cost more money than he can make and the docks are paid by off by the padrones. One day he finds a green violin floating in the wreckage of a cargo ship and after playing it he comes up with a plan. But he has to keep the violin secret from Stephano to avoid it being taken from him and given to another of the padrone's street musicians.

Frederick  is also an orphan. Rescued from life in an orphanage and working in a cloth weaving  factory by chance. He is apprenticed to the elderly Master Branch, a guild master clock maker. He is only thirteen but has dreams of completing his journeyman's project and becoming the youngest journeyman clock maker in the guild. He is secretly building a clockwork man in the basement of his master's shop, and has completed the body but does not know how to start fabricating the head.

Hannah works as a maid in the ornate hotel her father helped build. She has left school in order to support her family after her father becomes bed bound after suffering a stroke. On the day that she overhears the head of maids and the head staff keeper talking about a hidden treasure she is catapulted from the position of an ordinary room maid to the personal maid of a wealthy and mysterious Madame Pomroy, a guest of the hotel. As she is working for Madame Pomroy she is given the opportunity to experience things she had only ever dreamed of doing like visiting the opera for a performance. When her father falls ill with an infected bedsore the doctor wants to amputate his leg but says that there is an expensive medication that can help the infection. Can Hannah find the money to pay for the medicine?

As events between the three young teenager's lives start to mesh together they form a friendship. The three need to learn to trust each other to overcome the danger's that lurk before them. Can they successfully navigate the adventures that take them through the city and into the wild park at it's center while staying true to themselves and the beliefs that they hold dear to themselves?

The copy of this book that I read is an advanced reading copy that I picked up from a local little free library. From the moment I started reading I was transported to this nineteenth century city and found myself engrossed in the story of the three children. I loved the book and read it in one sitting. The way that the city and the wilderness of McCauley's park were written were so realistic and engrossing.

I also loved the addendum at the end of the book in the  about the author section saying that he was inspired by a true story from 1873 named Joseph who had been brought to New York City as a slave to play music for money on the streets of the city. The real  boy Joseph's court case against his padrone brought about changes in the laws of New York City that protected children who had been brought to the country like himself. I could tell from the way the book was written that the author has a love of history, and he brought such realistic touches to his city in the story. This was the first book written by author Matthew Kirby and has jumped him onto my list of author's to look for in the future.

29 August, 2016

Bout of Books day 7 and wrap up.

TOn Sunday, the last day of the read a thon I got a lot of reading/ listening done

Elengil and I listened to about ten hours of SevenEves. 

I finished Harry Potter and the chamber of secrets. 

Total books read: 

Four books finished during the read a thon. 

Two audiobooks half finished each. 
One book three chapters in and set down to start the Harry Potter series.