Shelf Control #178: Silk and Song by Dana Stabenow

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.pngLast week, I featured a book by Dana Stabenow, author of one of my very favorite ongoing series (Kate Shugak)… and this week, I realized I have another beautiful hardcover edition of one of her books, also unread. What am I waiting for?

Title: Silk and Song
Author: Dana Stabenow
Published: 2016
Length: 681 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

Beijing, 1322.

Sixteen-year-old Wu Johanna is the granddaughter of the legendary trader Marco Polo. In the wake of her father’s death, however, Johanna finds that lineage counts for little amid the disintegrating court of the Khan. Dynastic loyalties are shifting, petty jealousies lead to cold-blooded murders, and the long knives are coming out. Johanna’s destiny – if she has one – lies with her grandfather, in Venice, at the very edge of the known world.

So, with a small band of companions, she takes to the Road – the Silk Road – that storied collection of routes that link the silks of Cathay, the spices of the Indies and the jewels of the Indus to the markets of the west. But first she must cross the roof the world, survive treachery, betrayal, and a Road beset by thieves, fanatics and warlords emboldened by the deterioration of the once all-powerful Mongol Empire.

How and when I got it:

I bought this book as a treat to myself back in 2016.

Why I want to read it:

As I’ve mentioned countless times, I adore the Kate Shugak series, and because of those books and characters, I have absolute faith that I’ll enjoy whatever Dana Stabenow writes!

So about Silk and Song… this is actually a three-in-one edition of a previously released trilogy, originally published 2014 – 2015 as three separate books:

Pretty, right? I’ve never read anything with this setting or this time period, and it all sounds quite fascinating to me. I’m sure the historical elements will be really eye-opening, and I just know that this authors knows how to tell a great story.

So yes, I am excited to finally read these books (in my one giant edition).

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #177: Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: Death of an Eye
Author: Dana Stabenow
Published: 2018
Length: 254 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

For three centuries, the House of Ptolemy has governed the Kingdom of Egypt. Cleopatra – seventh of her name – rules from Alexandria, that beacon of commerce and learning that stands between the burning sands of the desert and the dark waters of the Middle Sea.

But her realm is beset by ethnic rivalries, aristocratic feuds and courtly intrigues. Not only that, she must contend with the insatiable appetite of Julius Caesar who needs Egyptian grain and Egyptian gold to further his ambitions. The world is watching the young Queen, waiting for a misstep…

And now her most trusted servant – her Eye – has been murdered and a vast shipment of newly minted coin stolen. Cleopatra cannot afford for the coins to go unrecovered or the murderers unpunished, so she asks childhood friend, Tetisheri Nebenteru, to retrace the dead Eye’s footsteps.

Tetisheri will find herself plunged into the shadowy heart of Alexandria. As she sifts her way through a tangle of lies and deceit, she will discover that nothing can be taken at face value, that she can’t trust anyone – perhaps even the Queen herself.

How and when I got it:

I bought this book when it was released this past December.

Why I want to read it:

First things first — I bought this book specifically because of the author, Dana Stabenow, who is the author of the magnificent, captivating Kate Shugak series (which I’ve raved about endlessly on this blog; here, for example).

Of course, the Kate books are set in modern-day Alaska and Death of an Eye is set in Cleopatra’s Egypt, so yeah, pretty different. Still, I absolutely trust this author to tell a great story, and I have always been fascinated by Cleopatra. The plot itself sounds like lots of fun, and certainly isn’t your run-of-the-mill historical fiction subject. I’m excited to finally read this (soon, I swear!)… and for anyone interested, the paperback edition is coming out this fall. And PS, as of the moment I’m writing this, the Kindle version is on sale for $0.99! Here’s the link, just to make it easy.

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

Shelf Control #176: The Stranger from the Sea (Poldark, #8) by Winston Graham

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: The Stranger from the Sea
Author: Winston Graham
Published: 1981
Length: 512 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The eighth novel in the legendary Poldark saga. Cornwall, 1810: The Poldark family awaits the return of Ross from his mission to Wellington’s army in Portugal. But their ordered existence ends with Jeremy Poldark’s dramatic rescue of The Stranger from the Sea. Stephen Carrington’s arrival in the Poldark household changes all their lives. For Clowance and Jeremy in particular, the children of Ross and Demelza, Stephen’s advent is the key to a new world – one of both love and danger.

How and when I got it:

I found gently used copies of all of the books in the Poldark series at my library’s big sale last year. Score!

Why I want to read it:

I started reading the Poldark books after watching the first season of the TV production. I have to admit this is one of the rare cases where I think I like the TV version better than the book — shocking, I know, but it’s just all so damned pretty! I do like the books, though… enough that I’ve been keeping up with the story in the books as each season of the TV production airs.

However… the show has now explored the plot of all the books I’ve read, and while there’s still one more season yet to air (*sob* the last!), my understanding is that the plot follows the events that come after the events at the end of the previous season. (Being intentionally vague…) In the books, when the story continues in the 8th book, years have passed and the Poldark children are grown up. So, possibly (if I’ve heard correctly), Ross and Demelza are no longer at center stage, but the focus has shifted to the next generation.

So that’s why I’ve been hesitant to start The Stranger from the Sea. If the plot has shifted that drastically, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about continuing the story. I’m thinking at this point that I should wait and watch the final season on TV, get all of those story threads wrapped up, and then tackle this book (and the others that follow).

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

The Monday Check-In ~ 7/8/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Weekend visitors, 4th of July — it’s been a busy week!

What did I read during the last week?

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe: A terrific follow-up to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. My review is here.

Hope Rides Again by Andrew Shaffer: Another great Obama/Biden action-adventure story. My review is here.

The 5th Gender by G. L. Carriger: Steamy alien fun! My review is here.

In audiobooks:

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery: I’ve now listened to half the series! I’m loving these books so much. Taking a short break to listen to a few other pending titles, but then I’ll be back for book #5.

In graphic novels:

We Are Here Forever by Michelle Gish: Totally adorable aliens inhabiting an Earth after humans. (Check out the link above for Hope Rides Again for thoughts on this book too.)

Runaways, Volume 3: That Was Yesterday by Rainbow Rowell: Always good fun checking in with the Runaways.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung: Ever read a book and think throughout, “hey, that’s me!”? Yup. Reading this book was exactly that. Adorable, and yet with an important kernel of truth too.

Fresh Catch:

Oooh. Doesn’t this look good?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Wilder Girls by Rory Power: I’ve just barely started… but I’m already intrigued!

Now playing via audiobook:

Circe by Madeline Miller: My book group’s pick for July. Loving it so far!

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group reads at the moment:

  • A Fugitive Green by Diana Gabaldon, from the Seven Stones To Stand or Fall collection.
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Book Review: The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe returns to the world of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane with a bewitching story of a New England history professor who must race against time to free her family from a curse

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs is a sequel ten years in the making, following the author’s 2009 debut novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and the story itself picks up 10 years later too. Former graduate student Connie Goodwin is now a history professor at Northeastern University, under consideration for tenure and living happily with her boyfriend Sam Hartley, whom she met during the events of the first book.

Sam’s feelings are hurt by Connie’s continuing refusal to discuss marriage. What he doesn’t know is that Connie is descended from a line of witches going all the way back to 17th century Salem, and that the male partners of the women in the family all seem to die young, in tragic circumstances. As their relationship becomes complicated in new ways, Connie is determined to find out the truth about the curse, and discovers a startling secret: there is actually one woman in the family’s history who managed to break the curse for her own husband.

Armed with this knowledge, Connie races against time to crack the mystery of the “weather work”, the elusive and seemingly highly dangerous spell that once upon a time saved her ancestor’s mate. Connie applies her scholarly skills as she unearths manuscripts and deciphers centuries old clues, this time enlisting friends, colleagues, and her own mother in a desperate attempt to get it all right.

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs is a great second chapter in Connie’s world. It’s quite fun to see her 10 years after the original book, now established and respected as a professor, mentoring up and coming grad students of her own. And it’s wonderful to see the enduring love between her and Sam, who is a lovely, kind, and sexy man. The interludes in which we see episodes from Connie’s family’s past are really engaging in their own way as well, although it’s definitely sad to see the persecution of these women who were considered different from the norm.

I enjoyed the characters, the plot, the research, and the historical elements, and the magical aspects are presented in a matter-of-fact way that still manages to have an eerie, otherworldly feel.

I suppose you could read The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs as a stand-alone, but you’d be missing out on big chunks of Connie’s personal history as well as all that family history. I’d strongly recommend starting with The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and continuing on from there. Well worth it!

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The details:

Title: The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs
Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication date: June 25, 2019
Length: 352 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

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The Monday Check-In ~ 7/1/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Summer may start officially in June, but when the calendar says July, that’s when I know it’s really here. So… happy July! Happy summer!

What did I read during the last week?

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan: Like all books by this author, sweet and yummy! My review is here.

Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America by Box Brown: Interesting, entertaining, eye-opening graphic novel exploring the history of cannabis’s legal status in the US –and (not surprisingly) how much of the outrage over cannabis was tied to racism and lies.

In children’s books:

I read That Book Woman by Heather Henson, a picture book about the Depression-era Pack Horse Librarians of the Appalachian region. A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, a novel about one such “book woman” (excellent read!), and then learned about this children’s book and other related topics from Hopewell’s Public Library of Life. Check out her post to learn more!

Fresh Catch:

And just as I was reading one Jenny Colgan book, another new one came in the mail!

Meanwhile, I was out of town when an author I love visited my favorite local bookstore, but they were kind enough to get me a signed copy of her latest anyway:

And while I was there picking up my book, well… let’s just say I have no resistance to the almighty temptation of BOOKS.

So I bought these too:

And also these:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe: A sequel to the bewitching (ha!) The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. I’m getting close to the end — watch for my review in the next few days.

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery: Continuing my Anne adventures!

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group reads at the moment:

  • A Fugitive Green by Diana Gabaldon, from the Seven Stones To Stand or Fall collection.
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/24/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I just got back Sunday afternoon from a week out of town visiting family. It was all a whirlwind, lots of running about and being on the go, but there were plenty of happy times… and some good quality reading moments too!

What did I read during the last week?

The Girl In Red by Christina Henry: Fast-paced post-apocalyptic adventure — a great read! My review is here.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson: Excellent historical fiction. My review is here.

Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery: Finished the audiobook, and loved it! This series has definitely stolen my heart.

Fresh Catch:

I received this adorable ARC in the mail,,,

… and found this in a used book store — how could I resist?

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan: I gravitate toward lighter, sweeter reads when I’m about to get on a plane, so this was a great choice for today’s flight. I’m about halfway through — enjoying it so far!

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery: Continuing my Anne adventures!

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group reads at the moment:

  • A Fugitive Green by Diana Gabaldon, from the Seven Stones To Stand or Fall collection.
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people–a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman’s chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is such a different, powerful story, bringing together several elements to create a work that’s moving and inspiring.

Cussy Mary Carter and her father live as outcasts in the Kentucky hills, shunned because of their blue skin. Cussy’s father is a hard-working coal miner who suffers from lung disease. He’s determined to secure a safe future for Cussy by finding her a husband, despite her objections. Cussy loves her work as a pack horse librarian, riding miles through the mountains each day to bring books, magazines, recipes, and household instructional pamphlets to the isolated people along her route.

Meanwhile, Cussy faces horrible mistrust and discrimination whenever she ventures into the nearby town. While her library patrons cherish her and greet her with happy cries of “Book Woman” as she rides up on her mule, the townsfolk she interacts with at the library headquarters insult her and curse her to her face, barring her from society and segregating her because she is — literally — “colored”. And while a local doctor offers Cussy and her father some meager help and protection, it’s clear that he views them as medical oddities and pursues studying them not out of a desire to truly help, but as a way to further his own career.

There is just so much to love about this book. Cussy is a loving, caring person who understands that books can lift people up and change lives. Though the reading material available to the pack librarians is all donated and unpredictable, Cussy puts thought into which books to bring to which of her patrons, choosing carefully to find just the right subject matter to help or instruct or distract or inspire her readers. As we meet the people on her route, we see just how heartbreaking their living conditions are, as the poverty-stricken people starve to death before Cussy’s eyes, and where the only source of income is the mine company, which controls all aspects of people’s lives in the mountains.

Learning about the Blue People of Kentucky is fascinating, as is learning more about the impact of the Depression on an area of the country I really knew very little about. The author does a masterful job of introducing the factual, historical elements in a way that’s organic to the story, It never feels like a history lesson; rather, this book feels personal, as if we’re being let inside the lives of living, breathing people with a unique story to share.

With its mix of historical interest, the focus on the magic and power of books, and a strong, kind, memorable main character, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a delight to read. Highly recommended.

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The details:

Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author: Kim Michele Richardson
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication date: May 7, 2019
Length: 320 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

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Shelf Control #171: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

cropped-flourish-31609_1280-e1421474289435.png

Title: The Lotus Eaters
Author: Tatjana Soli
Published: 2010
Length: 389 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men.On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen’s infuriating love and fiercest competitor, and Linh’s secret keeper, boss and truest friend.

Tatjana Soli paints a searing portrait of an American woman’s struggle and triumph in Vietnam, a stirring canvas contrasting the wrenching horror of war and the treacherous narcotic of obsession with the redemptive power of love. Readers will be transfixed by this stunning novel of passion, duty and ambition among the ruins of war.

How and when I got it:

Honestly, I have no idea when or where I got this book! (Although it’s always a safe bet that I found it at a library sale…)

Why I want to read it:

I heard about this author from a friend who’d read a more recent book of hers, and when I looked it up, the synopsis of this one really appealed to me. A love story set during the Vietnam War sounds powerful (and probably quite tragic), and something about it really draws me in. Now that I’ve “re-discovered” it on my shelves, I’m looking forward to reading it!

What do you think? Would you read this book?

Please share your thoughts!

__________________________________

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

Have fun!

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/17/2019

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I’m on a visit back east to see family this week. It’s hectic but fun… and I did get to do a lot of reading on the plane!

What did I read during the last week?

Not a single review written… but here’s what I read:

The Umbrella Academy: A graphic novel – just okay. I didn’t love the artwork, and overall, I enjoy the characters on the TV series much more than in the book.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe: A re-read. The sequel comes out later this month, and I definitely needed a refresher! It’s been nine years since I first read this book. Really enjoyed it again the 2nd time around!

Anne of Avonlea by L. M. Montgomery: The audiobook was lovely! Can’t believe I made it this far in life without getting to know Anne!

And from last week:

Recursion by Black Crouch: Absolutely loved this book! I finished it last week, but just posted a review a few days ago.

Pop culture:

What’s a reader to do when she finishes a book on a plane? Switch over to Netflix for a charming rom-com!

Fresh Catch:

Two exciting ARCs arrived in the mail right before I left on my trip:

The grammar book releases in August; the Obama/Biden book in July. So psyched for both!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

I have two different books on the go right now:

Now playing via audiobook:

Anne of the Island by L. M. Montgomery: More Anne! My plan right now is to keep going with the Anne audiobooks — so much fun to listen to.

Ongoing reads:

Two ongoing book group reads at the moment:

  • A Fugitive Green by Diana Gabaldon, from the Seven Stones To Stand or Fall collection.
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens — our current classic selection.

So many books, so little time…

boy1