Posts Tagged ‘ReaderViews’

Storm Over Morocco – Book Review

May 28, 2008

Storm Over Morocco
Frank Romano
ISBN 9781934209431, $17.99, Publication Date February 3, 2007
Reviewed by Jen Cardwell for Reader Views 05/08

Travel Dysfunction
3 Stars

Frank Romano tells the story of his youth and his attempts to find himself in “Storm Over Morocco.” For quite a while I wondered why exactly he chose to write this book and tell this story, what precisely he was trying to say or accomplish. I have finally decided that telling this story is his attempt to cleanse his soul and lift his burdens, along the lines of Jeannette Walls or Julie Gregory writing memoirs of their childhood and their messed up parents.

Although this book is the story of Romano’s disastrous trip to Morocco, I felt he could have quite easily have been written about his messed up childhood, since, and I don’t mean to get into too much pop psychology, he clearly had one. Romano’s entire trip seemed to be characterized by dramatic swings between desperately needing love and affection and being completely distrustful and paranoid about everyone he encountered. I became repeatedly distracted from the story he was actually telling to wonder about the story he wasn’t telling about how he came to be both so needy and so distrustful.

Romano writes well, and definitely infuses his words with his feelings. The first five chapters or so, even before he left on his journey, were written with such intensity that I was only able to read a chapter or two at a time. It took me a while to truly get into this book, but by the end I was caught up in the story.

Although I did eventually get caught up in the story, it was hard for me to truly enjoy it. As I stated earlier, what I would really have liked to have read is the story of Romano’s childhood in order to figure out how he ended up as he did. In addition, I was too busy yelling at the book, “No! Don’t do THAT! That’s a terrible idea! Listen to your friends!” etc. I don’t do well with people who do really dumb things, which Romano did in spades in his trip. However, I did like the book for its semi-insider’s view of Moroccan culture in the 1970s. If you’re the kind of person who can watch people do stupid things in books or in movies without yelling at them, then this book could be very interesting.

Buy this book on Amazon

Library Thing Tuesday – Intros

May 13, 2008

The Early Reviewers group on LibraryThing decided a week or so ago that we all need to share our book blogs with one another. From that decision, an idea was formed to do a once-per-week blogging circle/prompt along the lines of Booking Through Thursday.

Our goal today is simply to introduce ourselves and our blogs. Those that have been reading for awhile, please bear with me. Who knows, perhaps you’ll even learn something new.

I have been on LibraryThing for approximately a year, but did not get active in the community until discovering Early Reviewers sometime in February. The community there, as well as The Literate Housewife’s blog, inspired me to begin my own book blog to post my reviews, and perhaps be sent some books for review. Now I’m totally addicted to my blog, and to reviewing. This is something like post 74 in about 2.5 months, so close to a post a day on average (P.S. I’ll be having a big contest for post 100, although I haven’t decided whether to start or end it on post 100). I would love to someday be a professional reviewer. This blog is pretty much solely about books but NOT about my life in general, except as it relates to books (for example: Reading While Remodeling or Book Promiscuity).

I read a good deal of fiction, primarily historical fiction, but I do love good non-genre fiction, as well as non-fiction and memoir. At this time I have not been reading much young adult literature or science fiction, but I have read them in the past and am hoping to get back into them (I’m killing two birds with one stone this summer by being part of J. Scott Savage’s blog tour). I am currently attempting to “Read Around the World,” although my progress is fairly slow.

The books I review are those from my shelves, from LibraryThing Early Reviewers, from ReaderViews, Connecting Books with the Online World, Literary Ventures Fund, and authors’ blog tours. Now if someone would just decide to pay me to do this (besides in free books, which is great in itself), so that I could sit at home all day and read!

By the way, all of my reviews are posted on LibraryThing as well. However, I post only a partial review there – although enough that LT readers would not be confused – and post a link back to my site for people to get the entire review.

The Last Queen – Book Review

April 25, 2008

The Last Queen: A Novel
C.W. Gortner
Ballantine Books
ISBN 978-0-345-50184-4, $25.00, Tentative Release date July 29, 2008
Reviewed by Jen Cardwell for Reader Views 04/08

Juana La Loca
4.5 StarsThe Last Queen cover

C.W. Gortner’s “The Last Queen: A Novel” has all of the hallmarks of the typical historical fiction novel that is so popular today. Juana is a passionate woman who strongly desires her husband; she is a strong woman who is furious – and shows it – when her husband is unfaithful to her; she is a politically savvy woman; she is thwarted by the men around her at every turn; she is deeply maternal and, in opposition to the culture of the day and in the shock and dismay of all those around her, chooses to nurse at least some of her children herself. Change the name, “Anne, Mary, Catherine, etc.” and you could be talking about the main character in the vast majority of historical fiction about women written today, women written to appeal to the modern sensibilities of their readers.

Although Gortner follows all of the formulas, he managed to avoid making this book formulaic. The story of Juana of Castile is a very dramatic and tragic one: Juana is married against her will to the heir of the Hapsburg empire. She loves him dearly at the beginning of their marriage, but as political circumstances between her husband and her parents deteriorate, so does their relationship. Her husband is an ambitious man and is determined to be named heir to her parents’ Spanish empire. Gortner let the story stand on its own merit and did not attempt, as so many historical novelists do, to imbue an already dramatic story with melodrama.

Normally when reviewing historical fiction, I feel it is possible to give more of the plot without worrying about spoilers, so long as the plot follows historical events. However, Juana of Castile, also known as Juana la Loca is quite an under-studied historical figure, and her story will be unknown to many people. Suffice as to say that Gorton tells Juana’s story in such a riveting way that I could scarcely put the book down to eat, sleep, and work. The only reason it fell short of the 5 star mark is because he indulges in the love scenes so prevalent, and in my opinion so unnecessary, in current historical fiction. But for that this book would have been nearly perfect. I very strongly recommend “The Last Queen” to anyone with an interest in historical fiction, you will not be disappointed.

Buy this book on Amazon: The Last Queen: A Novel


April 17, 2008

I have started to get a fair number of books that need to be read (and usually reviewed) at or by a certain time. I’m currently on my 4th consecutive win of Early Reviewer books, I’m beginning reviewing on ReaderViews, I’m taking part in a few theme reads on LibraryThing, I’m getting an ARC from the Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Club, I keep trying to receive Harper Collins First Look books, I’m part of a blog tour, and I’ve got my book club.

For each of these things (and hopefully more in the future!) there is some sort of deadline. Obviously I’m not going to be kicked out of book club or the theme reads if my book isn’t done on time, but not finishing and reviewing/discussing the other books on time would not be conducive to receiving more books.

I was afraid that I was just going to simply forget to read a book in its allotted time, so I’ve decided to schedule out (some of) my TBR time with the books that need to be read at a certain time, using the handy-dandy Google Calendar. The link to my TBR Calendar can also be found on the right-hand side of my page under “Devourer’s Stuff”. As long as I’m doing this, I might as well include the other books I read that didn’t HAVE to be read, so I will add other books as I read them and edit what I read to reflect the correct dates. Books that ‘had’ to be read will be indicated with asterisks.

Feel free to check out my calendar!

ReaderViews Reviews

April 14, 2008

My application has been accepted and I will be reviewing books, about two per month, for Reader Views. When I first sent my application in, they said that they were not currently looking for reviewers, but I got an email this morning asking if I were still interested. Since I answered in the affirmative, I was asked to pick 3 books from a list in order of how much I wanted them and will be sent two of them. The reviews I write for these books are the property of Reader Views, but I will be able to post them here as well with the information that the books were reviewed for Reader Views. Each month you, loyal readers, can enter to win some of the books reviewed by Reader Views as well.

Because I was initially told “we’ll keep you in mind”, I was contemplating applying with another site, Front Street Reviews, but I think I’ll have to wait and see how it is with Reader Views and Library Thing‘s Early Reviewers. Between these and my book club, that’s an awful lot of books that are basically mandatory in a month, and I’d hate to completely abandon my TBR books, the books I want to re-read, and my ever-growing wishlist.
ETA: Look for reviews on the following books soon:

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner See review here

Historical Genesis by Richard James Fischer See review here