Award-winning author Matt Rees takes readers to 18th century Austria, where Mozart’s estranged sister Nannerl stumbles into a world of ambition, conspiracy, and immortal music while attempting to uncover the truth about her brother’s suspicious death. Did Mozart’s life end in murder? Nannerl must brave dire circumstances to find out, running afoul of the secret police, the freemasons, and even the Austrian Emperor himself as she delves into a scandal greater than she had ever imagined. With captivating historical details, compelling characters, and a real-life mystery upon which everything hinges, Rees—the award-winning author of the internationally acclaimed Omar Yussef crime series—writes in the tradition of Irvin Yalom’ When Nietzsche Wept, Louis Bayard’s The Pale Blue Eye, and Phillip Sington’s The Einstein Girl to achieve the very best in historical fiction with Mozart’s Last Aria.
This book for me had a series of unfortunate events so it took me a while to get through it, but I was excited for it Sadly, I ended up not really enjoying this book as much as I hoped I would. It wasn’t a bad book, but it also wasn’t one that I would say is riveting. The hardest part for me to deal with in this particular book was the way Mozart’s sister Nannerl was written. I have read other books with his sister ad maybe that is why I am having an issue with it, she just really didn’t stand out as a character I could connect to in this book. She was the “Sherlock” of this book and I just wasn’t really feeling I could believe that.
I know this is historical fiction, but a lot of it just felt a little off the believable scale for me. It might be fiction, but if it is based on real events and people I would hope it would follow that path. For me, I felt this one went a little too far afield. Again, it was not a bad book, it just didn’t really get me into the good book area either. If you want to give it a try go for it you might like it better than I did.
My Gemstone Rating:
The short story that inspired Jennifer Weiner’s forthcoming novel The Next Best Thing.
Ruth has left her job writing for a hit television show for reasons she’d rather not discuss and is supplementing her increasingly dwindling savings with freelance writing projects—namely, helping anxious high school students craft a perfect college essay and lonely souls craft captivating online dating profiles. When she’s not working, she’s swimming—lap after lap at the local indoor pool, in a desperate attempt to wash away the sting of professional failure and heartbreak that she can’t seem to shake. It takes an unexpected client to show her that appearances can be deceiving, and that sometimes the bravest thing you can do is simply dive back in.
I had hopes for this one, I have enjoyed other books by Jennifer Weiner but this one for me was just a bomb. It was on my TBR on the E-reader for a while and when I finally got to it I really felt bored with it. I think maybe Jennifer Weiner should stick with full length books and stay away from short stories. I do seem to be in the minority with this book as others have enjoyed it. I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t enjoy it either. For me this was one of those books I finished reading to get it done and out of the way and I doubt I will remember much about it in the long term. They can’t all be winners in the end. I know others have liked it, the characters weren’t bad, so maybe someone else will enjoy it better than me. I was just not grabbed and bored, so I am glad I got it out of the way and it’s on to another book.
My Gemstone Rating:
Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.
Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.
In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!
Okay, so my friends who know me know I am a Pagan so they might get a little chuckle out of me reading The Shack but the idea of it made me curious. Not only that, but I wanted to see the movie as well and I am a big one for the read it first challenge after all! The bottom line is I really liked this book, I can only imagine that kind of grief that a parent must feel when something like this happens. Not only the loss of a child, but the horrific way that it happened. There is just no way I can see how I would handle that, so I was interested in how Mack dealt with it. How it seemed he had all but died right along with this youngest during what happened. It is getting that mysterious note from Papa and actually having to deal with the grief that brings him back to life. How easy it is to allow our pain and grief to control us, it’s harder to learn to live again. Whether you believe in God or don’t whether you think there is more than one God or none this book will make you think, it can also truly help if you are looking for a way to understand things in your own life. It might be a work of fiction, but I truly feel it has a place in the real world as well.
My Gemstone Rating:
Set in northwest London, Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragicomic novel follows four locals—Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan—as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. In private houses and public parks, at work and at play, these Londoners inhabit a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Depicting the modern urban zone—familiar to city-dwellers everywhere—NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself
Going in I really wanted to like this book more than I ended up liking it. I knew it would be edgy and I knew it would be uncomfortable and it was all of those things, but man oh man this book is just, yikes. It is hard to come up with the right words to say about this one but yikes is. The style of this book is impossible, I have not seen it before and I really hope I don’t see it again because it is really hard to deal with. There are so many characters, so many situations and really nothing gets resolved. This book just leaves you (well me for sure) feeling very just empty and confused. Books should have a beginning, a middle and an end and for me this book really doesn’t.
There are some moments that made it interesting and that is why there are two gems (stars) rewarded. The moment when a character is knifed (I won’t say who so I don’t spoil it too much) is shocking, and it is supposed to be. Watching it unfold in the movie that was made based on the book as well made it even more shocking and jaw dropping. Of course it is supposed to be, the image of someone dying at all but especially for such a pointless reason is not comfortable and never should be.
I guess I can understand why some people love this book, but I just couldn’t really connect at all with it. I might try another book by this author, but if it is the same style I will probably have to give it a pass. Bottom line I really wouldn’t recommend this one.
My Gemstone Rating:
‘Let him feel that he is one of us; once fill his mind with the idea that he has been a thief, and he’s ours, – ours for his life!’
The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens’s tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters — the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, in Oliver Twist Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.
This is the first critical edition to use the serial text of 1837-9, presenting Oliver Twist as it appeared to its earliest readers. It includes Dickens’s 1841 introduction and 1850 preface, the original illustrations and a glossary of contemporary slang.
Ah Oliver Twist is truly one of the classics and for me it was a fun re-read. I really enjoyed this book when I read it for school and when I read it a few years ago and I enjoyed it again when I read it this time. It always takes a little bit of time to get into it, classics are written so differently but after the first chapter or 2 I always settle in and really enjoy it.
Dickens wrote so vividly and when you read his work, getting into it you can really get a full sense of what it must have been like to live and be in that time. The conditions were so horrible and what people had to go through just to live. Of course if one looks around society today it is not hard to see a lot of the gaps starting to widen again and we may be headed towards another version of this, that is scary too. All we need is the work houses.
There isn’t much to give away on this one it is a classic and has movies and musicals and all the rest done about it so everyone seems to know about Oliver Twist. If you like classics you will probably like Oliver Twist, if you don’t you probably won’t.
My Gemstone Rating:
Stephen Lewis, a successful writer of children’s books, is confronted with the unthinkable: his only child, three-year-old Kate, is snatched from him in a supermarket. In one horrifying moment that replays itself over the years that follow, Stephen realizes his daughter is gone.With extraordinary tenderness and insight, Booker Prize–winning author Ian McEwan takes us into the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Kate’s absence sets Stephen and his wife, Julie, on diverging paths as they each struggle with a grief that only seems to intensify with the passage of time. Eloquent and passionate, the novel concludes in a triumphant scene of love and hope that gives full rein to the author’s remarkable gifts. The winner of the Whitbread Prize, The Child in Time is an astonishing novel by one of the finest writers of his generation.
Read this book in preparation for the made for TV movie with Benedict Cumberbatch. It is a great book but it is not one that is going to be for everyone. There are parts of it that are very slow and parts of it that are fast. It is one of those books that you really have to pay attention to while you read it. Also the bottom line of why many people don’t like this book is that you don’t get resolution with what happened to the daughter. The book isn’t meant to be about that, its about what Stephen goes through.
I don’t want to give away the entire book as usual I tend to ramble on a bit to much about complex books like this one and get some stank eye for it (no really I do, lol) but this book really is about the journey and heartache that Stephen takes when his daughter is taken. It is literally every parents worst nightmare and you go along with him through the process. It is a horrible and heart wrenching thing and that makes this book really really uncomfortable and that is also what makes this book really good. If you can handle the heart wrenching nature of the book and don’t mind a book that you really have to pay attention to detail with, this is going to be a read that you enjoy. You will feel like you went through the ringer when you finish, at least I did but it is a really good book.
My Gemstone Rating:
The cat’s answer to Sorry I Pooped in Your Shoe, Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed is a hilarious collection of full-color photos and letters of excuses and suggestions from cats to the people who love them—no matter what bad thing they’ve done! Inside Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed, writer and comedian Jeremy Greenberg presents a collection of laugh-out-loud letters and photographs that offer a cat’s eye view on common feline vs. human cohabitation conundrums. It’s the perfect gift for crazy cat lovers and anyone who appreciates hilarious (and so true!) insights into cat—and human—nature, including:
Your cat sits on your laptop not just for warmth or attention, but to prevent you from interacting with the outside world. After all, isn’t the main reason to have a cat so you don’t have to waste time developing normal human relationships? If you spent a third of your life licking yourself, you too would occasionally forget to stick your tongue back in your face. Eating grass has medicinal purposes, and most cats believe grass should be legalized. The cat feels bad about barfing on your bed…because now it must get to up to go sleep on your clean laundry instead.
A little bit of Irony…cat puked on my copy of this book not long after I read it. I am going to buy myself another copy as soon as I have a chance. This is a great and fun book. There is not of course much plot to this it is just a fun little book about cats with cat stories. I love it. I have always given a voice to my cats and this book well sounds like some of the voices I give them. If you want to have a fun and fast laugh this is a book for you. If you love cats this is also a book for you. Bottom line just it’s fun, everyone should read it. This is going to be a go to for me to improve my mood once I get my copy back.
My Gemstone Rating:
Sent back in time to Victorian England to stop the invention of a deadly weapon, Helen Foster knows the job looks too easy: All she has to do is go to an auction, buy the weapon plans, destroy them, and she’ll save millions of people back in her own time. And even if she spends the rest of her life as a spinster stuck in the English countryside with a plethora of cats, changing the future is worth it.
Then she meets Edward Clifton, Duke of Somervale, the man she’s supposed to blackmail. He is one of the most powerful men in the land, so handsome and cold that debutantes have been known to faint in his presence. After one meeting, Helen will be thrilled to never see his royal (and quite spectacular) backside, ever again.
But as her mission falls apart and danger closes in, Helen has no choice but to turn to the one man powerful enough to help her not just change the future, but survive the night.
This is one of my freebies that I got from Amazon, and honestly, I was not expecting too much from it. That said, I really enjoyed this book. It was a little bit short and there was some of it that didn’t really seem to fit together completely, but beyond that it’s a fun read and I have learned to accept that free reads are often going to be shorter. My biggest complaint is that the ending is really open. I am sure that was done on purpose so you will want to read the next book, but I don’t like books that literally feel like they end mid thought. Anyways, onto the book itself.
I don’t want to give spoilers away, but this is a really fun little romp. A strong fantastic woman from the future goes back to Victorian times when women had to act in a far different manner so she can save the world. I admire the bravery it took to go back to this time knowing full well that even if she succeeds in her mission, she would never see her home world again. Of course, everything has a wrench thrown in when the man she needs to blackmail the Duke of Somervale really isn’t so bad after all. Helen certainly has to make a lot of choices and finds herself in a lot of different pickles she didn’t expect. It was a bit of a lesson in how to not assume things will go like you think just because they look simple on the surface.
While I had a few issues with this book it was good enough to make me want to read the next one to see what happens. So I will be looking at the second installment and hopefully it will help me a bit with my closure issues.
My Gemstone Rating:
At not quite fifteen, Stefan’s father finally let him board the longship Sja Vinna to take part in his first Viking raid. Yet, the battle was not at all what he expected and he soon found himself alone and stranded in Scotland.
Thirteen-year-old Kannak’s problem was just as grave. Her father deserted them and the only way to survive, she decided, was to take a husband over her mother‘s objections. Suddenly she was helping a hated Viking escape. Could Kannak successfully hide a Viking in the middle of a Scottish Clan? And why was someone plotting to kill the clan’s beloved laird?
Tis the season where I try to play catch up on my reviews. My bad, again maybe 2018 will be better, LOL on the bright side I am not as behind on my reading as I was last year. Anyways to the review.
It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did I was hooked. It was a freebie and really it shouldn’t have been, but a great way to get someone hooked for the series! The first chapter or so goes slow but don’t give up, trust me, you’ll get hooked and enjoy the read. Stefan takes such an interesting journey when he is stranded in Scotland, literally see’s his family everything he knows taken away. He has to find a way to live again. If that wasn’t entertaining enough, it gives you a strong female lead like Kannak who has to make her own hard life choices at a young age and one of those choices is hiding the Viking outsider in a Scottish Clan, I mean talk about a grown up choice for a young woman to make.
The story is an adventure and danger and a good dash of love involved. While the players may be young when we meet them, it’s important to remember that in the times of Vikings, life spans were shorter and so people grew up faster. It was a harsh time, with death and blood everywhere as the book shows us flat off and by the ongoing looming plot there is to kill the clans laird. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away because I think everyone who loves this genre should read this one and judge it for themselves, I promise you will be hooked and not that I would judge a book by it’s cover but look at the cover it’s a beauty! Honestly, that is what drew me in when I was browsing freebies on kindle that and because it was about one of my favorite groups of people Vikings. This is an interesting look into the life of the time, a time where things were very much influx interns of religion and how people were traveling. A time in life that was very unique.
My Gemstone Rating:
In the first novel in Winston Graham’s hit series, a weary Ross Poldark returns to England from war, looking forward to a joyful homecoming with his beloved Elizabeth. But instead he discovers his father has died, his home is overrun by livestock and drunken servants, and Elizabeth—believing Ross to be dead—is now engaged to his cousin. Ross has no choice but to start his life anew.
Thus begins the Poldark series, a heartwarming, gripping saga set in the windswept landscape of Cornwall. With an unforgettable cast of characters that spans loves, lives, and generations, this extraordinary masterwork from Winston Graham is a story you will never forget.
This was of course a re-read for me as I have loved Ross Poldark for quite sometime. This book of course was as good as I remembered and Ross the hotheaded but good hearted man I remembered him to be. The new cover art thanks to the new BBC movie is also something worth enjoying (lol) truly I think that Aidan Turner makes Ross to spring off the page.
There are many who don’t like the books because of some of the content. All I can say is two things about that. The first being Ross and the others in the book are very flawed humans not the standard romantic heroes. So they do a lot of wrong things. Also when these books were written the style of romance was much more forceful. Simple as that. This is not to make excuses and there are things I don’t appreciate that happen, even when they are done by my beloved Ross.
Anyways I digress. This book is well written and tells a story that could truly happen to any of us. Ross was a happy young man who went away to war with the thought of love and what he would come back to. However, war changed him, but worst of all the world he left was as if he stepped through the looking glass when he returned. His father gone his lady love going to marry his cousin. You can hardly blame the man for being angry for lashing out. Can you honestly say that any of us wouldn’t act in a similar manner? He is a good man with a heart that hates seeing people treated unfairly. I don’t want to go too far into saying things because I could truly go on for a long time about the whole series and giveaway the spoilers and details.
This is one that you should read even if you already watch the show. If you have not read the books you really are missing out in my humble opinion.
My Gemstone Rating: