Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Lush Tale of the Occult, Art, and Love

Delphine Duplessi has a rare talent. Dating from the time as a child when she lost her sight, she is able to create shadow portraits. Drawing blindfolded, Delphine creates not the person’s face, but the secrets hiding behind the mask. In the world of Paris and New York after WWI, she becomes a celebrity. People are looking to the future, wanting amusement to forget the horrors of war.

After a devastating experience in New York where tragically a man dies, she returns to her native Cannes. Unable to paint she tries to recover from the horror of her New York experience and come to terms with the reason she left Paris five years ago.

Delphine has an unusual heritage. She is descended from LaLune, the artist who sold her soul to reclaim her dead lover. Now her female descendants are cursed being able to love only one man. Delphine finds that man in Mathieu, a bookbinder she falls in love with in Paris. Trying to help Mathieu escape his demons, she draws him, but sees herself as the instrument of his destruction, so she flees.

Now that she’s back in France, her twin, Sebastian, wants her to return to painting the lucrative portraits that make his gallery special. Delphine tries to avoid returning to the shadow portraits, but finally agrees to paint a chateau where an occult classic, the Book of Abraham, is supposedly hidden.

The descriptions in this book, from the glorious drawing rooms of Paris and New York, to the lovely countryside of southern France, are full of colors and beautiful shapes. It’s almost like reading a painting.

If you are interested in the occult, the author uses the background of the Cathars, and Delphine’s own family history to weave a spell around the story. The plot is complex full of twists and unusual, sometimes famous, characters. The time after WWI was when Picasso, the Fitzgeralds, and other celebrities were spending the summer in the south of France.

I enjoyed the characters. Mathieu is particularly delightful. Delphine is a well drawn character, but by the end of the book I was tired of hearing how she was protecting everyone, not realizing her own part in the reality of her interactions. Sebastian is a hard character to judge. I didn’t realize until the very end why I felt ambivalent about him.

I highly recommend this book if you love romance and beautiful descriptions.

I received this book from Atria for this review.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Tough Female PI with a Past

Sunday Night, ex -military and ex-police, has become a recluse living alone on an island off the coast of South Carolina. Injured in an incident that left her blind in one eye, she opted to leave the police force rather than ride a desk. Although she doesn’t want to get involved in investigations again, Beau, her foster father, brings her a case she can’t easily resist.

Opaline Drucker, a wealthy Charleston lady wants to hire her to find her granddaughter, Stella. Stella’s mother and brother were killed when a bomb blew up a Jewish school they were touring. Stella has been missing for over a year. The police have given up hope she’s alive, but Opaline thinks differently and is willing to pay very well to find her granddaughter.

Two Nights is a major departure from Reichs’s previous books featuring Temperance Brennan. This book is much more a gritty PI novel. There’s plenty of violence. The plot is clever and moves quickly. However, I did feel that Reichs wasn’t playing fair to keep Sunday’s background hidden until the very end. For me, knowing the background would have made the story more believable.

I had trouble warming up to Sunday. She’s hard-bitten and standoffish using quips to distance herself from people in conversation. It was amusing in the early chapters, but became wearing. He brother, Gus, is also featured in the story. He is a much easier character to get in touch with.

If you like PI novels with a tough heroine, this is a good book. I think if I hadn’t had the experience of loving Reichs’ previous novels, I would have felt more comfortable with this one. It’s a good read. I recommend it for a summer weekend.

I received this book from Penguin Random House for this review.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Parrot Brings a Family Together

Thirty years ago, Millie walked out on her sons, Grinder and Lucas. Now she’s dead and her friend Janice wants them to come and deal with her effects. The brothers aren’t quite sure what effects they’ll have to deal with, but they are truly surprised to realize that one of them is an African Gray parrot named Paul.

Paul is in the throes of grief having lost his beloved Millie. They’re not quite sure how to deal with Paul, but as they listen to his sayings, they begin to heal from the past. Their lives change and they find they can experience forgiveness and redemption.

The book touches on a difficult situation, a mother who abandons her children. While not hilariously funny, the author is able to use humor to tell the story without having it become tragic or maudlin. Grinder and Lucas are good characters. Their give and take is realistic for two brothers that work together and have experienced the vicissitudes of growing up in a ruptured family. The parrot, Paul, is the best character. You can’t help but love him.

This is a worthwhile book to read. It’s a very human story of brothers coping with and forgiving an absent mother.

I received this book from PR by the Book for this review.  

Friday, July 7, 2017

Useful Information for Planning or Managing Your Career

Whether you’re a new graduate, or someone who’s looking to advance your career, this book is packed with valuable information. The book covers what you want in a job (Part One), how to find a new job (Part Two), and skills for succeeding in your new job (Part Three).

None of the information is unique to this book, but the approach to job hunting and more important succeeding in your new job is well thought out. Many people have a vague, or not so vague, idea of what they’d like to do. Less frequently, job hunters have thought out what they value in a workplace environment. This book provides checklists and questionnaires to help you identify your values. If you want flexible hours, as opposed to being constantly on call, the requirements of your position will be a major factor in how happy and successful you are in your new job.

Although sections one and two are valuable and filled with tips for interviews and how to network, I found section three the most interesting. Too many people don’t think about how to succeed after they land the dream job. People skills are a major factor in success. Some people may be born with them, but anyone can learn them. If you’re already in a job and perhaps unsatisfied, I recommend reading section three and trying to hone your skills before looking to move on.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Lives of Two Young Women Writers Intertwine at a Writing Desk

Tenley Roth, daughter and great-great-granddaughter of acclaimed novelists, has received a national award for her first novel. She’s under contract for her second novel, but a severe case of writer’s block has her incapacitated. When her estranged mother, Blanch, begs her to come to Florida to help with her chemo treatments, Tenley agrees. Her fiance doesn’t want her to go and races off to Paris to attend a screenwriter’s symposium. In Florida, she meets Jonas, a furniture designer with a large raucous family. An only child growing up without a mother, she is drawn to Jonas and his family, but she’s still engaged, sort of.

In the early 1900’s another fledgling writer is having difficulty. Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of a Gilded Age millionaire. She’s expected to marry well and carry on the family’s social position that her mother has fought for. Birdie cares nothing for society, doesn’t want to marry the man chosen for her, and is in love with an impoverished English earl.

The two women a century apart write at the same desk. It becomes a symbol for both of them of the ability to create. The writing desk has moved from New York, to Florida, but still it inspires these women.

The Christian fiction in this book is very apparent. Both young women pray for what they desire and feel an inner voice telling them to not be afraid. The story is told in alternating chapters about Tenley and Birdie. While both stories are interesting, I found Birdie’s story more compelling. She is a strong woman caught in the trap of her family’s ambitions and in the early 1900s it was almost impossible to escape.

I recommend this book if you enjoy historical romance and Christian fiction.

I received this book from Booklook Bloggers for this review.