Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Second Empress is Second Best

The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's CourtThe Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court by Michelle Moran
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed a number of Moran’s books and The Second Empress was a tolerable piece of historical fiction. It has taken me a few days to work up to writing a review on the book because I have nothing to say about it— either good or bad.

The Second Empress is the account of Napoleon’s second wife. Most people think of Josephine when they the of the Emperor but he had another wife and a son! The story is not exclusively about his second wife… It is more about his sister compared to his second wife.

Three characters tell the story of The Second Empress. The shifting point of view helps the narrative and Moran is smart not to attempt story telling from Napoleon’s point of view.

From the historical perspective, the book seems rushed… It does address much of Napoleon’s rise or his fall– slight glossing over of Russia and his escape from Elba.

This is a quick read worthy of a snowy weekend or a lazy beach read… Nothing more. But, in that category it’s very solid!

I don’t think it’s Moran’s best work. I preferred her books on Cleopatra’s Daughter and Madame Tussaud. This was a little weak, but in terms of story telling seems on par with The Heretic Queen.

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Allegiant: Not so Good.

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Allegiant is the third book in the Divergent trilogy. It takes place in bombed out Chicago and tells the story of people who live in “factions” based on whatever character trait they feel is most important–selflessness, honesty, intelligence, strength, you get the idea. These factions unravel and we follow two young people, Tris and Four, through the dramatic events.

Stop reading here if you want to avoid SPOILERS!!

So, by book three Tris and Four decide to venture outside of Chicago and see what’s beyond the city. What they find is a group of government scientists who are constantly watching the people in Chicago and using their faction based society as an experiment. We soon discover that the people in Chicago are the decedents of genetically altered people and are considered genetically damaged…

It gets more complicated and absurd from there– oh please! I mean did it really have to be so over the top?

In the end, Tris dies while trying to erase the memory of the scientists so they will treat the genetically damaged as regular people. And Four is left to go on with her.

The book really seems as if the author was looking for a quick ending. The writing is so so. And, she does an awful job reminding the reader what happened in books 1 and 2.

I enjoyed the first two books, but this is a mess! SKIP IT!

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Welcome Back Bridget!

Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones, #3)Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ha! Ha! Ha! Bridget Jones is back! Please stop reading here if you don’t want to read any SPOILERS!

I enjoyed the original books (although the second one was not as good) and I was bit nervous to catch up with the crazy Ms. Jones turned Mrs. Darcy all these years later.

In book 3, Darcy has passed away and Bridget is now a “geriatric mother” of two young children and SINGLE. Much like the past books we follow Bridget the ups and downs of dating, only this time we see her as a cougar trying to date a man who is 21 years younger than herself.

Fielding stays true to the character and points out the absurd in everyday life without making us feel guilty and with her snappy brand of humor.

Some of the details are just too real– too many plastic toys from Amazon for Xmas and the ubermom at school.

I also love Bridget’s friends (although they play less of a role in this novel than in the previous ones). And, Tom’s Paltrow obsession is too funny!

The only draw back to the book is the very end. I wish Bridget would have kept going on her own instead of finding a new man. It’s too much like the old ending with Darcy. Plus, I think it would be a good message to women that they can go it alone and don’t always have to the quickly wrapped up happy ending.

I also could have done without all the farting and vomit talk, but I’ll over look it!

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Get Healthy!

Life Is Your Best Medicine: A Woman's Guide to Health, Healing, and Wholeness at Every AgeLife Is Your Best Medicine: A Woman’s Guide to Health, Healing, and Wholeness at Every Age by Tieraona Low Dog
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Life is Your Best Medicine by Dr. Low Dog. The book is a helpful guide for women about living a healthier life.

Low Dog has a very interesting background and worked as an herbalist, mid-wife, massage therapist, and finally a doctor. She combines these different points of view with well researched health data that includes a variety of topics. Unlike some books and authors who push some kind of strange new age approach to healing, as a doctor, Low Dog does a great job combining alternative medical approaches with western medical science and research. There is certainly a place for both and Low Dog does a good job marrying them in a useable and helpful way.

I loved the sections on herbs and the five senses. I highly recommend reading those parts if you are pressed for time and want to skip the rest of the book.

A few of her tips are a little goofy. But, she is speaking to a wide audience who has different levels of health and the practice of healthy behavior.

Some of the data she offers on health studies is flooring… Video game violence, city vs. country walks, on and on.

Well worth a skim, or a full on study.

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Wizard of Oz: A Booky Mom Review

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1)The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I listened to the audiobook version of The Wizard of Oz read by actress Anne Hathaway. It was a special production and they gave away a free download for the Thanksgiving drive ‘over the river and through the woods’. The audio version worked out very well it was the perfect amount of time for our drive and the story really keep both my kids (5, 7) quite in the backseat!!

Hathaway did a nice job reading the story and provided different voices for each of the characters.

This was my first time ‘reading’ the story and my knowledge of The Wizard of Oz was primarily limited to the movie. I have also the newer Disney film as well.

I was surprised to learn about all the differences between the film and the book. And, I was even more amazed to learn the shoes were not ruby at all,instead they are silver!!!

I am sure it’s because the movie version is so etched in my mind, but I think the changes in the movie made the story better.

All and all I am glad I finally heard the real version of the story!

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Sarum: A Book Review!

Sarum: The Novel of EnglandSarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd because I have an interest in that area of England. The book details more than 2000 years of human life in Southern England around what is today Salisbury.

This long book is similar in style to books by Mitchern (think Hawaii, Texas, Alaska).

For me some parts of the book were better than others. I enjoyed the pre-historic sections as well as the building of Stonehenge. The Roman period was well done and I liked the portion about King Alfred. Although, I think he could have done more with that section.

I was very disappointed with Rutherfurd’s handling of the period after 1066 and Henry II. After all, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine was held under house arrest at Sarum after her failed rebellion against Henry! Clearly, Rutherfurd had to condense history in order to keep the book under the 1000 page mark, but I really like that period.

The building of the famous Salisbury Cathedral was well portrayed.

I did like the author’s treatment of the American Revolution and the letters home about what was happening.

I feel as if the 1st half of the 20th Century was very much glossed over but I liked the discussion of American troops in Britain. I especially enjoyed the social issues the author talked about such as the difference in pat between the British and American soldiers.

All and all, the story was a little slow for me and it got bogged down at certain points. I keep picking up these epics and yet I find myself struggling to get to the end of them. Unless you truly love these very long sweeping stories, stay away.

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