Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review for "The Tea Rose" by Jennifer Donnelly

Could I do it? Could I face life bereft of my heart and soul, live life without the one that makes me wake with a smile and laughter in my eyes? I don't know. I suppose I would have to, yet I'm sure there would be something missing, a hole inside me that I would fill with the necessities of living...a job, some friendship, family. But I am sure that at some point the sadness of my lonely existence would overtake me. Would I have the courage to move on, to simply exist? This is the plight of Fiona Finnegan in Jennifer Donnelly's The Tea Rose.

It is 1888 and Jack the Ripper is wreaking havoc in East London. Amidst this terror is Fiona Finnegan, a young girl with a dream, a dream she shares with her lifelong love, Joe. They are supposed to be together forever, they are supposed to open their own shop, they are supposed to live happily ever after. But of coarse, life is not a fairy tale for Fiona. She is thrust into a world she never asked for, a world filled with sorrow, murder, despair and tragedy...a world without her Joe.

The Tea Rose is a story of murder, betrayal, innocence lost and strength found. As I turned the pages, I couldn't help but be drawn in by this strong female character. Her determination, strength and drive mixed with an unmistakable innocence draws everyone to her. Only she feels the emptiness inside her, that hole that cannot be filled by her large mansion in New York or her millions of dollars. Not even the wealthy entrepreneur, the handsome and much older and experienced Will McClane, can give her what she needs. Although I would have liked to feel more of the connection between Joe and Fiona, I am reminded of the strong message in this story, one that Fiona held on to....."The day you let someone take your dreams from you, you may as well head straight to the undertaker's. You're just as good as dead." And so, I keep dreaming.....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review for "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon

James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser....what's in a name, you might ask. Everything. Honour, passion, strength, intellect, bravery, sex, love, excitement, playfulness, friendship and courage. All of this in one man? Yes...and more! Those of us who are Outlander fans know that there is no other man for any woman other than Jamie.

As soon as I discovered Outlander and the Scottish Highlander named Jamie, there was nothing and no one else for me. I ate, slept, breathed and dreamt only of Jamie. Obsession to the max. I spoke of Jamie to co-workers to the point where they either had to read the book or listen to me. Needless to say, they have joined me in my obsession. I discovered Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series of seven books in October and lived with her characters until February. Five months of Jamie...so little... yet so much. Jamie is the standard by which I measure all others. And thus far in my journey, no one can compare. Even Sarah Donati's Nathanial and Paullina Simons' Alexander don't quite fill the shoes of this great highland hunk. Close...but not quite. What is it about him? Is it his wit, his charm, his sensuality or his raw manliness that draws every reader to him. I believe it's all of this and more.

As in many other series I've read, for me, the first book is the best. It is the place where the journey begins for the characters and the reader. In Outlander, it is the place where Claire finds herself drawn to this young Scotsman, two hundred years in the past. It is the place where she fights against that burning inside her, that brewing passion that she knows will be all-encompassing. It is the place where the truth of her love overtakes her and the force of it plunges her into an emotional abyss, one she can't and won't escape.

Diana Gabaldon is an amazing writer whose talent I truly envy. She has made me fall in love with the beauty of Scotland, the heather in the fields and the mountains in the distance. She has taught me about the clans and their castles and the battle and suffering at Culloden. She has made me believe in a love that is more than physical, more than spiritual, one that transcends time and space. She has made me long for a man that can touch a woman with his eyes, his hands, his lips, but most seductively, with his words. With every turn of the page, I am plunged deeper into Scotland, deeper into battle, and deeper into love with a red-headed warrior named James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Review for "Tatiana And Alexander" by Paullina Simons

The Soviets and Allied forces are battling against Hitler and Alexander is in the midst of it all, this hell that is war. He is constantly haunted by images of his beloved, his Tatiana, her face, her laugh, her smell, the feel of her under his strong hands and his searching lips. But she is gone, he sent her away, but his mind won't let him forget her. He doesn't know that Tatiana has made it to America, where she too is living her own kind of hell without her one and only love. She hears Alexander's voice everywhere, calling for her. She searches the face of every broad shouldered, dark haired man, hoping, praying, begging....but her Shura is dead, only living in her heart and soul and in the son they created.

I can't believe how quickly I finished this book. I devoured it in a week, desperately wanting for Tatiana and Alexander to be reunited. As I turned each page, I continued to be drowned in their sorrows. The torment that Alexander struggles through is unbearable, yet he moves onward, from battle to battle, always the strong and courageous soldier. "Stay alive for me, my Shura", Tatiana would always say to him. "Stay alive", I say as my heart pours forth its own strength for this heroic character. He tries desperately, but as his body, mind and spirit are beaten down, I find myself crying out for him to hold on. She's coming....she has to come...she will come....won't she?

I continue to be obsessed with these characters. Even when I place the book down, I find myself wondering, will they make it? How can fate be so unkind? I want to push Tatiana onto that ship and yell "Go find him, he needs you, don't move on without him, open your heart and listen..." Will there ever be a time when they can just live, without fear, without war, without separation? I am hoping to get answers in the third book of the trilogy, which I am so anxiously waiting to arrive. Yet I too have my fears, for once I get my answers, my journey will be over. I will try to read slowly.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review for "The Bronze Horseman" by Paullina Simons

She sits there, enjoying an icecream, her favourite, creme brulee, wearing a white dress with red roses and ridiculously uncomfortable high heels. It is a glorious June day in Leningrad as she sits on the bench, playfully swinging her legs as she waits for the bus. She glances up and there he is, staring, unabashadly from across the street. From that moment on, Tatiana's life is over...yet it is only just beginning. On this June day, Hitler has invaded Russia and Tatiana has met her Alexander.

This book has taken me by surprise. I had no interest in Russia and didn't know much about its land or people. However, I became immediately drawn into the plot, caught up in the undeniable connection between Tatiana and Alexander. Perhaps it is the strong female character that keeps me reading, a strength of spirit that does not impede on her innocence. Perhaps it is the beautiful dark-haired soldier, Alexander, very tall, very strong and unyielding in his love for Tatiana. Perhaps it is the struggle and the strife that these two people endure in order to be together, the sickness, starvation, war, guilt, deception. I couldn't help but cry for them when they were together and weep for them when they were apart.

In my opinion, the sign of a great writer is the impact the characters leave upon the reader. I can honestly say that I am obsessed. I cannot let go. I want to be that young girl walking with that tall, dark-haired soldier through the Summer Garden. I want that summer month in Lazarevo where I finally feel my one and only true love, in every sense of the word. I want it all, St. Isaac's cathedral, Lake Lagoda, Luga, Leningrad, the Fields of Mars, and the Bronze Horseman. I want my Alexander.

The struggle continues for Tatiana and Alexander in the second book of the trilogy, which of coarse, I have quickly begun. These characters are imprinted upon my psyche and their love for each other burns within my own heart. Thank god their journey is not over, and thus, neither is mine......

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Beginning

The journey back started last summer. I sat on the park bench, a beautiful July day, watching my kids in their easy play. I held the book in my hands and thought "Am I going to like this? Is it worth the effort?" I am glad to say, nine months and 20 novels later, it certainly was worth it.
This blog is about my journey back to the love of reading and the many adventures I've had with amazing characters along the way.

I remember as a kid I would sit for hours on the front porch, no responsibilities, no worries, no pressure from the "real world", oblivious to everyone and everything, except what Judy Blume was saying on the pages before me. Then high school came, grade eleven, boys, and part time jobs. University involved tons of reading, being an English major, but nothing that was "me"...for me. Then he came along, the one, my man, in the midst of teacher's college, all dark, hot and all-encompassing. Time floated on. Teaching involved a massive amount of constant reading and researching, but yet again.....nothing for "me". My world now revolved around children, many in the classroom and my own precious ones at home. No time or energy to read anything more than a page or two, and it usually involved "How to survive colic" or "How to keep them sleeping for more than an hour". Commuting, working, cooking, cleaning, finding time with that hunk of a man- sex? - with young kids around?, losing weight, gaining weight, all of it filling my life. And yet, I still didn't quite realize that "Me" was missing. I remember I'd call my mom and tell her my woes of young motherhood and how desperately tired I was and how I'd love to go to a real restaurant or take more than 5 minutes to eat, and she would reply "You know, after one time is another time." How the hell was that going to help me? And time marched on. Now I am 42, my kids are older and sleep through the night and I have great sex with that hunk of a husband. And I found that "me" again, the one I remember from my youth, the one on the front porch on a warm, sunny day, when not a sound could be heard but the rustle of the pages as I felt the characters evolve in my hands, line by line, page by page. My journey has come full circle. I found that time for "me" in a book again, my escape to anyplace I want, be it the colonies of early America, the Scottish Highlands or wartime Russia. I laugh and I cry, I moan and I giggle. My connections and visualizations make it a place all my own, one where my kids can't get me, or even that hunky husband.
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs All Images from MagicalReality Designs