angeltime“Angel Time” was well written with some interesting and well developed characters. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was nothing close to a vampire novel or anything of that whimsy.

This book is a story within a story. Our protagonist is the ironic Toby O’Dare: a cold and calculating hitman/well read theologian with a penchant for playing the lute. Of course, Toby has a past, a back-story that tries to explain how he came to be the man he is…and from there things get a bit supernatural, but not in a contrived way. The rest of the book is set in medieval Europe and focuses on a family tragedy with far reaching consequences that reads much like a biblical story. Toby is involved in this journey as an act of contrition evocative of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

The book references a fair bit of Catholicism of which I only have a rudimentary understanding, it did not impede me from enjoying the story, but I’m sure would be useful knowledge to have when reading. For example the story line includes saints and the whole hierarchy of angels (pretty exclusive to Catholicism as far as I know).  It briefly illustrates a conflict of religions, this one being Catholicism vs. Judaism; and the terrible things people do to each other in the name of their beliefs.

I enjoyed it on the surface as a well told fictional story but at the same time I don’t think I’d rush out to read the sequel if there were one.  I don’t think the book was bad by any means, it was just not my cup of tea.

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Busy, busy time!

It has been awhile.   The fall is a crazy busy time for me: teaching and learning…still reading plenty, trying to make time for blogging and reviewing.  Good to get back in the swing of things.

I’m also going to start reviewing some of the books I have been reading to my children, they will be fewer as we only read a couple chapters in the evening, but it should be a fun addition.  I became a reader because of a wonderful teacher I had in grade 5 that read chapter books and poetry to our class. I still vividly remember and treasure many of these books, so if you’re looking for one to spark a young person’s imagination, here is my shortlist:

The Witches by Roald Dahl

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

Dear Mr Henshaw by Beverly Cleary

How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

Michelle Moran has graciously offered a hardback copy of Cleopatra’s Daughter as well as an ancient Roman coin with certificate of authenticity to one of you lucky DeeeLovely readers. Check out this guest post from Michelle about what inspired her to write this novel and then scroll to the bottom for contest details.


Why Cleopatra’s Daughter?

It all began with a dive. Not the kind of dive you take into a swimming pool, but the kind where you squeeze yourself into a wetsuit and wonder just how tasty your rump must appear to passing sharks now that it looks like an elephant seal. My husband and I had taken a trip to Egypt, and at the suggestion of a friend, we decided to go to Alexandria to see the remains of Cleopatra’s underwater city. Let it be known that I had never gone scuba diving before, but after four days with an instructor (and countless questions like, “Will there be sharks? How about jellyfish? If there is an earthquake, what happens underwater?”) we were ready for the real thing.

We drove one morning to the Eastern Harbor in Alexandria. Dozens of other divers were already there, waiting to see what sort of magic lay beneath the waves. I wondered if the real thing could possibly live up to all of the guides and brochures selling this underwater city, lost for thousands of years until now. Then we did the dive, and it was every bit as magical as everyone had promised. We saw the blocks that once formed Marc Antony’s summer palace, came face to face with Cleopatra’s enigmatic sphinx, and floated above ten thousand ancient artifacts, including obelisks, statues, and countless amphorae. By the time we surfaced, I was Cleopatra-obsessed. I wanted to know what had happened to her city once she and Marc Antony had committed suicide. Where did all of its people go? Were they allowed to remain or were they killed by the Romans? And what about her four children?

It was this last question that surprised me the most. I had always assumed that Cleopatra’s children had all been murdered. But the Roman conqueror, Octavian, actually spared the three she bore to Marc Antony:  her six-year-old son, Ptolemy, and her ten-year-old twins, Alexander and Selene. As soon as I learned that Octavian had taken the three of them to Rome for his Triumph, I knew at once I had my next book. And when I discovered what Cleopatra’s daughter lived through while in exile – rebellion, loss, triumph, love –  I absolutely couldn’t wait to start writing. I can only hope that the novel is as exciting and intriguing as the research proved to be. It may be two thousand years in the past, but a great love story, as they say, is timeless.


Now for the contest details:

Two ways to enter: 1) leave a comment on my review of Cleopatra’s Daughter telling me why you would like to read this book 2) post/promote this contest (leave a link on this post)

  • Contest is open internationally
  • Ends Friday, September 18th at 11:59 pm EST
  • Entrants must leave e-mail or send me your email address so that I can contact you if you win
  • Winner must respond to e-mail within 24 hours or a new winner will be chosen

Good Luck!

Congratulations to the contest winner: Jansie! Hope you enjoy it!

cleopatrasdaughterFans of the HBO miniseries “Rome” will delight in Michelle Moran’s latest historical fiction offering “Cleopatra’s Daughter” because it pretty much picks up where that series was canceled. ..but that’s certainly not a prerequisite to enjoy this engaging novel.

This book was exciting, fascinating and a wonderfully educational escape right from page one. Told from the perspective of Cleopatra and Mark Anthony’s daughter, Kleopatra Selene, “Cleopatra’s Daughter” offers us a unique glimpse of imperialist Rome through the eyes of an outsider. It was easy for the author to weave facts and informative tidbits into the storyline because of that fresh perspective.

At the age of ten, Selene and her twin brother Alexander are taken to Rome as spoils of war and lovingly raised by Cesar’s (Augustus) sister Octavia. They are trapped in a world of privilege and riches, yet they are also prisoners and know that by their birth alone they are a threat and could be eliminated at whim. Selene is determined to keep the last of the Ptolemy family together and is most concerned with making herself and Alexander indispensable to Cesar. Selene is often shocked at how barbaric Rome can be (particularly concerning slaves and the corruption of government); and the plight of slaves is a big sub-theme in the book.

It is obvious that Michelle Moran did her research and outside of getting the history right, she has crafted a very well told story and brought these figures vibrantly back to life. Cleopatra’s Daughter was a joy to read and also very informative. I highly recommend giving this one a look.

Newsflash: I even got my husband to read this book. He has read 2 books for pleasure in the past 9 years.

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31hoursAt the opposite end of the apathetic is the kind of person who feels everything so deeply and overwhelmingly personal that living the everyday life seems not only impossible, but morally irresponsible as well.  Jonas is one such person.  Unfortunately, it is just this type of personality that is easy prey for extremists, cults, and religious fundamentalists. Jonas sees an unjust world of pain, materialism, corruption, and indifference and he feels compelled to do something of consequence to “wake people up” and demand change.

To those closest to him, Jonas is known to be very sensitive and empathetic with a proclivity towards depression, so when he is suddenly out of touch and unreachable, his mother, girlfriend and family become concerned that something is awry.  As the title implies, in just 31 Hours something is going to happen and Jonas’s family have only a short time to find him.

We are introduced to an amalgam of interesting characters whose fates are linked by a ripple effect of choices and ill-fated circumstance.  I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of this young man from a good home with everything going for him who feels he has nothing of significance and this older man who is homeless and has very little yet feels he has enough.

The book is fast paced, succinct, and frightening because of its plausibility. It was most disturbing to have the omniscient perspective and see that Jonas thought what he was doing was an act of pure altruism.  31 Hours is certainly one of those books that you keep thinking about long after you turn the last page.

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adisobedientgirlA Disobedient Girl is beautifully written novel with vibrant characters, exotic landscapes, and melodic prose.  It wasn’t one of those books I just couldn’t put down, rather it crept up slowly and before long I was so entranced that I didn’t want to read it too fast—I wanted to savor it.  Ru Freeman has crafted two engaging stories that could each stand its own but instead they are brilliantly melded together to create this stunning debut novel.

In Sri Lanka a servant girl who is little more than a slave longs for a different life.  Latha is so sure that being a servant is not her destiny; she makes one decision that changes everything and sets her on a course of love, betrayal, revenge, and the culmination of the those things.  In the other story, a mother embarks on a treacherous journey with her three young children.  Biso decides it is time to leave her abusive marriage and seeks refuge with an aunt who lives in the far north.  The passage is wrought with peril and a series of ominous events that lead Biso to believe the gods are trying to warn her…but of what?

I could not help but feel for the plights of Latha and Biso. The chapters would switch back and forth between the two narrations and I was eager to know what happened next in the one story but was quickly drawn back and absorbed in the other as the chapters progressed.  The writing is so vivid I felt like I was in Sri Lanka and could draw you a picture without ever having seen it before.  The food, the clothing, the people…and at the heart of it all, the poignant tales of two incredibly brave and strong women emerge.  This was such a satisfying read and I enjoyed everything about it from the plot to the characters to the ending.  I definitely look forward to reading more from Ru Freeman in the future.

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swoonI suppose the formula here is the supernatural teen romance ala “Twilight”, but I think this book would be a complete turn off to most teens (or adults) that read it. The plot is strange without being appealing. The narration voice is a teenage girl who switches back and forth between very contrived and inauthentic teen lingo and saying things that wouldn’t mean much to anyone under 30; I found it very distracting.

The “love” story is weird. I never saw where the love came from—it came out of nowhere and made me feel like I missed something, 100 pages of story development maybe? …but sadly that was not the case. I also never understood why they were in love. The male love interest, Sin, is an abusive narcissist. Our damsel in distress, Dice, is obviously emotionally damaged to want him in the first place, although that baggage is never explained. Dice tells us on page one she has some sort of psychic ability masked as epilepsy…part of the story line, possibly? …no, it is never mentioned again other than one line of dialog where someone asks Dice if she is having a seizure. Okay.

To top it all off the names are all terribly irritating; names converted to monosyllabic monikers (i.e. Candice becomes Dice) that we are supposed to believe are cool or trendy…you tell me:

Dice, Sin, Pen, Doll, Con, Marsh, Gel, Crane, El and Em (really), Duck, Wick, Boz, No and Way (not making those two up, either)

Rarely have I read a book and could not find one positive thing to say about it. The best I could come up with for this one is the book cover is nice. I suffered through until the very end…hopefully so you won’t have to.