Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sister - Rosamund Lupton

Title: Sister
Author: Rosamund Lupton
Paperback: 318 pages
Publisher: Broadway/Crown
Published date: 2011
FTC: requested or won from Shelf Awareness or Read It Forward (can't remember)

I'm normally pretty good about documenting where I get my books from.  I either requested or won this one but it hasn't been sitting on my shelf for very long. I do remember that I wanted to read it because I love books about family relationships - especially sisters.  I am fortunate to have had an awesome family life and am blessed with having a sister and a brother.  Now we may not always understand or get each other and there's been many a fight and even bloody nose mixed in there growing up -- but it's an amazing thing to be able to count on somebody to hop on the next plane and be by your side if you ever needed them.

Sister sounded like an interesting combination of a book about family relationships...and a murder mystery.  What a perfect moody read for Autumn and the R.I.P. experience.

Back of the book:

When Beatrice gets a frantic call that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she immediately boards the first flight home to London. As she learns about the circumstances surrounding Tess's disappearance, Bee will risk everything to find out what really happened to her beloved younger sister. A suspenseful, thrilling story and a beautiful portrayal of the love between siblings with a knockout twist, Sister is a masterful debut.

My thoughts:

I love a back of the book synopsis that doesn't give away much.  If you are like me, that's all I needed to know to pick it up and delve right in.  If you want slightly more spoilers (of course not BIG spoilers) keep on reading -- dump out that coffee, brew up a cup of English breakfast tea and read on.

The first thing you must know is that this is Rosamund Lupton's first novel - she writes for television and film. That means that this book is beautifully visual. I love that the main part of the story takes place in London in winter and in and around Hyde Park (think a mini Central Park.)  Even though Las Vegas was in the eighties, I still felt the winter chill of London and wanted to cuddle up in a blanket and read.  I can still envision Tess's apartment and her little garden out back.

I also found the non-linear way she wrote the story to be perfect.  Beatrice is alternately telling her story to Tess in letter form which makes it very personal and telling her story to a lawyer to prepare for an upcoming trial.  I loved the letter parts to Tess - it made the sister relationship even more powerful and heartfelt. For never actually meeting Tess, I felt as if I knew her.  Every so often the story telling part to the lawyer felt a little drawn out (get on with the story so I can know who did it!), it actually helped the suspense part of the mystery and also slowed me down to savor Ms. Lupton's writing and world building.

Then there's the story.  I don't want to give too much away, but I loved the tenacity of Beatrice who knew there was something wrong and didn't let anyone stop her from finding the truth. It was a great twist on the traditional detective story.  Then there's Tess's story, which for an oddly beautiful art student, involves adultery, a stalker, pregnancy, gene therapy, cystic fibrosis...actually pretty fascinating.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this story - it was a mystery, a detective story, and most of all a story about relationships and family.  I am looking forward to picking up Ms. Lupton's second novel Afterwards.

Other covers:

What cover do you like best? I think I like this one the best.

This one is kind of boring to me:

Also Reviewed By:
Tell Me A Story
S. Krishna's Books
Kirkus Reviews

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow GIVEAWAY!

I'm a day late in posting this but that's ok!  Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours is letting me give away one copy of Juliet Grey's second book in her Marie Antoinette trilogy.  You don't have to have read Becoming Marie Antoinette to enjoy this one (but it's good so you should.)  Please fill out the form below!  The giveaway is open through November 2nd and is only open in the US (sorry international readers!)

Good luck!

My reviews for Becoming Marie Antoinette & Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow

Monday, October 22, 2012

Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow - Juliet Grey

Title: Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow
Author: Juliet Grey
Paperback: 399 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Published date: May 2012
FTC: Received to review for HF Virtual Book Tours

When I was asked if I wanted to join in the tour for Juliet Grey's second Marie Antoinette book for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours I was ecstatic. I adored her first book Becoming Marie Antoinette (my review) and even got a chance to chat with her over at Amy's awesome blog Passages to the Past. Juliet Grey's books are a beautiful combination of historical fact and fiction.  I fell in love with Marie Antoinette even more in this book. You can bet I will be looking forward to buying her last book in the trilogy, The Last October Sky.

(Come back tomorrow and I'll be giving away a copy of Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow!!)

The back of the book:

Paris, 1774. At the tender age of eighteen, Marie Antoinette ascends to the French throne alongside her husband, Louis XVI. But behind the extravagance of the young queen's elaborate silk gowns and dizzyingly high coiffures, she harbors deep fears for her future and that of the Bourbon dynasty.

From the early growing pains of marriage to the joy of conceiving a child, from her passion for Swedish military attache Axel von Fersen to the devastating Affair of the Diamond Necklace, Marie Antoinette tries to rise above the gossip and rivalries that encircle her. But as revolution blossoms in America, a much larger threat looms beyond the gilded gates of Versailles -- one that could sweep away the French monarchy forever.

My thoughts:

I am an official fan of this trilogy. Well done Juliet Grey! What a story.  The book starts out with a bit of foreshadowing -- it's 1786 and an unnamed women is being tried and punished for her involvement with the royalty of France. Flash back to 1774 and Papa Roi (Louis's grandfather) has passed away which means Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette will become the King and Queen (actually consort) of France.  I had no clue before reading this that the Queen of France really didn't have much power and only the King of France was "crowned" King.  In fact, reading these books I've learned a lot of things about this period in history that I had never known before. I really wish these books were around when I was learning about the French Revolution in college.

But the best part of the book is how much the story humanizes Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XIV.  Most of the story is told in first person narrative which really made it an intimate story.  Interspersed are often letters to and from her maman, Maria Theresa of Austria.  We see how much she loved her family in Austria, but how much she came to find France and her husband her new family.  I loved her spunk -- she desperately wanted to have babies and a family but at the same time she was very much a young girl who was enjoying life which often got her into trouble.

It's such an interesting story because we all know what happens in the end. But somehow even with the forshadowing at the beginning and hints throughout about how it's going to end, I am like Marie Antoinette and just can't or won't believe that her people will turn on her and her family. Surprisingly too, I fell in love with her husband Louis XVI and feel the tragedy that the Revolution happened to a king who was so surprisingly human and full of desire to be a good king, husband, and father.

Juliet Grey has a pretty awesome section at the back of the book about writing Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow and love this quote:

"As I breathed the life into characters who to some readers may be little more than names from a history book, I saw them as vibrant and vital, complex and flawed."

This is exactly what she accomplished.  Well done!

Marie Antoinette in Muslin

Head over to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for more bloggers reviewing this awesome book.