Book Review: Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman

LONUnorthodox: The instant New York Times bestselling memoir of a young Jewish woman’s escape from a religious sect, in the tradition of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel and Carolyn Jessop’s Escape, featuring a new epilogue by the author.

As a member of the strictly religious Satmar sect of Hasidic Judaism, Deborah Feldman grew up under a code of relentlessly enforced customs governing everything from what she could wear and to whom she could speak to what she was allowed to read. It was stolen moments spent with the empowered literary characters of Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott that helped her to imagine an alternative way of life. Trapped as a teenager in a sexually and emotionally dysfunctional marriage to a man she barely knew, the tension between Deborah’s desires and her responsibilities as a good Satmar girl grew more explosive until she gave birth at nineteen and realized that, for the sake of herself and her son, she had to escape.

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Book review: Molly s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom

 

LONWhen Molly Bloom was a little girl growing up in a small Colorado town, she watched her brothers win medals, ace tests, and receive high praise from everyone they met. Molly wanted nothing more than to bask in that glow a little herself, so she pushed herself too—as a student, as an athlete. She was successful but felt like she was always coming from behind. She wanted to break free, to find a life without rules and limits, a life where she didn’t have to measure up to anyone or anything—where she could become whatever she wanted.

Molly wanted more, and she got more than she could have ever bargained for.

In Molly’s Game, Molly Bloom takes the reader through her adventures running an exclusive high-stakes private poker game. Her clients ranged from iconic stars like Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck to politicians and financial titans so powerful they moved markets and changed the course of history. With rich detail, Molly describes a world that until now has been shrouded in glamour, privilege, and secrecy, one where she fearlessly took on the Russian and Italian mobs—until she met the one adversary she could not outsmart, even though she had justice on her side: the United States government.

Molly’s Game is an incredible coming-of-age story about a young girl who rejected convention in pursuit of her version of the American dream. It’s the story of how she gained—and then lost—her place at the table, and of everything she learned about poker, love, and life in the process.

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Book Review: India Black (Madam of Espionage #1) by Carol K. Carr

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India Black: In the red-light district of London, India Black is in the business of selling passion her clientele will never forget. But when it comes to selling secrets, India’s price cannot be paid by any man…

In the winter of 1876, the beautiful, young madam, India Black, is occupied with her usual tasks. Keeping her tarts in line, avoiding the police, and tolerating the clergyman bent on converting her girls. But when Sir Archibald Latham of the War Office dies from a heart attack while visiting her brothel. India is unexpectedly thrust into a deadly game between Russian and British agents. Both who are seeking the military secrets Latham carried.

Her majesty’s secret service…

French, the handsome, British spy, discovers India disposing of Latham’s body and blackmails her into recovering the missing documents. Their quest takes them from the Russian embassy to Claridge’s Hotel, from London to the English coast. All the while dodging Russians intent to do them harm.

But it is their own tempestuous relationship they will have to weather. As India and French attempt to resist the mutual attraction between them. An attraction that can prove as deadly as the conspiracy entangling them.

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Book Review: The Queen’s Lady (Thornleigh #1) by Barbara Kyle

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The Queen’s Lady: Abducted as a child-heiress, Honor Larke escapes to London seeking justice from the only lawyer she knows: the brilliant Sir Thomas More. With More as her affectionate guardian, Honor grows to womanhood. When the glitter of the royal court lures her to attend Her Majesty, Queen Catherine of Aragon. But life at Henry VIII’s court holds more than artifice for an intelligent observer. And Honor knows how to watch—and when to act. . . .

How to help a Queen…

Angered by the humiliation heaped upon her mistress as Henry cavorts with Anne Boleyn and presses Rome for a divorce. Honor volunteers to carry letters to the Queen’s allies. It’s a risky game, but Honor is sure she’s playing it well. Until someone proves her wrong. Richard Thornleigh may cut a dashing figure at court. However, Honor doesn’t fall for his reckless charm. Only later does Honor realize that Richard has awakened something within her—and that he, too, has something to hide. . .

For the King’s actions are merely one knot in a twisted web that stretches across Europe. Ensnaring everyone from the lowliest of peasants to the most powerful of nobles. Swept away in a tide of intrigue and danger. The Queen’s lady is about to learn everything: about pride, passion, greed—and the conscience of the King. . . .

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Book Review: Crave (Fallen Angels #2) by J.R. Ward

CraveSeven deadly sins. Seven souls that must be saved. One more no-holds-barred battle between a fallen angel with a hardened heart and a demon with everything to lose.

Isaac Rothe is a black ops soldier with a dark past and a grim future. The target of an assassin, he finds himself behind bars. His fate in the hands of his gorgeous public defender Grier Childe. His hot attraction to her can only lead to trouble. And that’s before Jim Heron tells him his soul is in danger. Caught up in a wicked game with the demon who shadows Jim, Isaac must decide whether the soldier in him can believe that true love is the ultimate weapon against evil.

Would she get to stay in the countryside she craved?

Soon back home in the English countryside, Jane wants nothing more than peace and quiet. And the devotion of her childhood protector, William Dormer. But his family vows to keep them apart And Jane is called back to Court to serve Katherine of Aragon, who is fighting for her life as Queen in the face of Anne Boleyn’s open seduction of King Henry VIII.

In those turbulent years, Jane will learn the value of loyalty and honesty, while holding fast to her convictions. And it is her unblemished soul that will slowly rise above the chaos—and turn a king’s head.

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Book Review: The 100 by Kass Morgan

 

Ever since a devastating nuclear war, humanity has lived on spaceships far above Earth’s radioactive surface. Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents — considered expendable by society — are being sent on a dangerous mission: to recolonize the planet. It could be their second chance at life…or it could be a suicide mission.

CLARKE was arrested for treason, though she’s haunted by the memory of what she really did. WELLS, the chancellor’s son, came to Earth for the girl he loves — but will she ever forgive him? Reckless BELLAMY fought his way onto the transport pod to protect his sister, the other half of the only pair of siblings in the universe. And GLASS managed to escape back onto the ship, only to find that life there is just as dangerous as she feared it would be on Earth.

Confronted with a savage land and haunted by secrets from their pasts, the hundred must fight to survive. They were never meant to be heroes, but they may be mankind’s last hope.

You are about to read a sentence that I have never written before (that I can recall) and most likely will not do so again. Don’t bother with the book at all and stick with the TV series. Honestly, I feel like I am saving you time here. Normally when you read a book you get more detail than you could ever hope to get on screen. I mean I don’t know a single reader that hasn’t said a book they love should have been turned into a 12 hour epic that covers everything. That is so very much not the case with this book.

The pacing is wrong, the focus is wrong and I just want to slap some of the characters so hard. Where as on the show sure I want to smack a few characters, but I understand the motivation the have, I feel invested and I get more details. The book really just seems to fall truly and epicly flat. This is a series about humanity. It makes sure to show us the best and the worst, the human strength and the human weakness. The book just misses that mark very epicly. The book seems to dance around and focus more on all of the shitty things that we do for love. I mean it is true, we do a lot of stupid things for love that is human nature. I just don’t like that focus, like it is trying to be a romance novel and it doesn’t need all of that. There is plenty of love that happens without needing to focus on it. So my bottom line, watch the show and enjoy that and save your time don’t, read the book.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”.

Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

I have always loved A wrinkle in time and when the movie was getting ready to come out I knew it was time for another read. I mean, how could I miss Chris Pine as Doctor Murray right? Anyways, back to the book.

For me this book is just something enjoyable to read, like going into a familiar world where I might know how it is going to end, but I am okay with that, because I find something different every time I read it. The story has so many different layers and so much to discover. There is something about this book that still to this day gives me a sense of wonder, I can read it and just feel transfixed. This book is one of the books that inspired me to write, to write poetry and stories and just about anything. Reading it again helped me to break through some block that I had going on when I read it. It is just that kind of book for me. I might even read it a second time for the year to try and break through things once again. I know some read this book again when they become adults and don’t feel the same way, but for me this is one of those books that I believe will always give me that special kind of wonderment and remind me why I wanted to write down things to start with. At least I hope it will be that way, because being an adult is tough enough most of the time, losing something that holds a child’s wonder to it would make it that much harder. Sorry for the bit of floaty, dreamy review on this one, I’ll blame the book for it.

My Gemstone Rating:

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Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

‘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:

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Book Review: The Child in Time by Ian McEwan

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:

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Book Review: A Lady Out of Time (Helen Foster #1) by Caroline Hanson

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:

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