Special Feature: WAR AND PEACE by Leo Tolstoy

WAR AND PEACE is one of those novels that people always claim to have read but have never actually picked up the book because…..1400+ pages is A LOT of reading.

I am not one of those people…..I freely admit I have NEVER read this book. I haven’t even attempted! At first the length scared me but after reading other lengthy books of this same caliber, I have since considered tackling this mammoth book!

So I will be running a review of this one in June but in the mean time I wanted to call everyone’s attention to this beautiful edition from Penguin Classics!

Full confession…..I decided to commit to review based solely on this edition and cover. It’s beautiful! I love the cloth bound copy and design. The edition itself is designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith (I reviewed one of her children’s books last year and I proudly display it in my nursery!). I am a cover snob and fully admit it. I love this edition/cover so much that I was willing to shelve other books in order to read this one.

Plus I saw the WAR AND PEACE television mini series earlier this year and based on how interesting that was, I thought maybe it was time to dive into this book once and for all so I can proudly state that I read it!

At a glittering society party in St. Petersburg in 1805, conversations are dominated by the prospect of war. Terror swiftly engulfs the country as Napoleon’s army marches on Russia, and the lives of three young people are changed forever. The stories of quixotic Pierre, cynical Andrey, and impetuous Natasha interweave with a huge cast, from aristocrats and peasants, to soldiers and Napoleon himself.

In WAR AND PEACE, Leo Tolstoy entwines grand themes—conflict and love, birth and death, free will and fate—with unforgettable scenes of nineteenth-century Russia, to create a magnificent epic of human life in all its imperfection and grandeur.

Helmed as one of the undisputed masterpieces of world literature, and one of the longest novels ever written, WAR AND PEACE is as much a philosophical discussion as it is a work of fiction.

Review: A Death by Any Other Name (Lady Montfort Mystery #3) by Tessa Arlen

I am always on the look out for new murder mysteries, preferably with a female lead ‘detectives’ and set in England. While this isn’t my first novel by this author, it felt new to me. I read Tessa Arlen’s first book in this series, DEATH OF A DISHONORABLE GENTLEMAN, back in early 2015 and though I wasn’t completely hooked at the beginning, I was invested enough to finish it and was rewarded for my tenacity.

I didn’t read the second book in this series for some reason, but when the third book came up for review it sounded rather good so I decided to give her books another go. I wish now that I had read the second book before this one, but over all, the third book read find as a ‘stand alone’.

Set in the day leading up to WWI, the elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, investigate a murder among a group of amateur rose-breeders. When Mrs. Jackson receives a visit from a cook who believes she was an indirect witness to murder from a poisoned dish of breakfast kedgeree Lady Montfort promises to do what she can to clear the cook’s name, and contrives an invitation to Hyde Castle, the home of a self-made millionaire, to investigate a murder of concealed passions and secret desires.

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Special Feature: THE BOOK OF POLLY by Kathy Hepinstall

I have a soft spot for local writers and when I saw that this author lives in Portland, OR I had to at least do a special feature on her novel!

This is an unforgettable story about the grip of love in a truly quirky family, told with a particular blend of sass and warmth. Polly is one of those can’t-forget-her female characters with whom readers are destined to fall in love, and her daughter Willow’s coming of age story is one to which both mothers and their daughters will relate.

Publishers Weekly says, “Polly is a hybrid of Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies and Shirley MacLaine’s Ouiser Boudreaux in Steel Magnolias… [THE BOOK OF POLLY] is full of laughter and warmth” and Kirkus Reviews said, “classic elements of Southern comedy—evil twins, people dropping dead, a faith healer, a river-rafting trip—surround a lovable pair of central characters.”

The character Polly is based, in part, on Kathy Hepinstall’s own wicked-tounged mother and Hepinstall has incorporated her mother’s sayings, and some family anecdotes in coloring the narrative of THE BOOK OF POLLY. Although the story itself is fictional, Polly’s stories and persona are on every page.

Willow Havens is ten years old and obsessed with the fear that her mother will die. Her mother, Polly, is a cantankerous, take-no-prisoners Southern woman who lives to shoot varmints, drink margaritas, and antagonize the neighbors and she sticks out like a sore thumb among the young modern mothers of their small conventional Texas town. She was in her late fifties when Willow was born, so Willow knows she’s here by accident, a late-life afterthought. Willow’s father died before she was born, her much older brother and sister are long grown and gone and failing elsewhere. It’s just her and bigger-than-life Polly.

Willow is desperately hungry for clues to the family life that preceded her, and especially Polly’s life pre-Willow. Why did she leave her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana, fifty years ago and vow never to return? Who is Garland Jones, her long-ago suitor who possibly killed a man? And will Polly be able to outrun the Bear, the illness that finally puts her on a collision course with her past?

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Review: Beauty and the Beast: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World by Maria Tatar

Be our guest this weekend with the live action Disney, Beauty and the Beast, hitting theaters!

The animated Disney film was one of my most favorite movies growing up and even now, I still find myself singing along to all the songs when I hear them!

Not to mention, my 7 month only baby LOVES animated Disney and the music, though The Little Mermaid is his all time favorite, Beauty and the Beast is a close second so needless to say I watch the animated Beauty and the Beast about once a week.

I am also currently streaming Disney on my Pandora station which is full of Beauty and the Beast classic songs, all to get ready for the upcoming movie release!

So like many fans around the world, I am anxiously waiting for the live action film to be released because let’s be honest….it looks absolutely magical! And as a little girl, I loved that Belle made reading cool for nerd girls around the world!

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Review: The Enemies of Versailles (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy #3) by Sally Christie

Here we are yet again with another book series reaching its conclusion! On the whole this has been a solid, well written, and interesting series and I was sad to see it coming to an end.

I had big expectations for this conclusion and overall I wasn’t disappointed.

Jeanne Becu, a woman of astounding beauty but humble birth, works her way from the grimy back streets of Paris to the palace of Versailles, where the aging King Louis XV has become a jaded and bitter old philanderer.

Jeanne bursts into his life and, as the Comtesse du Barry, quickly becomes his official mistress. “That beastly bourgeois Pompadour was one thing; a common prostitute quite another kettle of fish.”

After decades suffering the King’s endless stream of Royal Favorites, the princesses of the Court have reached a breaking point. Horrified that he would bring the lowborn Comtesse du Barry into the hallowed halls of Versailles, Louis XV’s daughters, led by the indomitable Madame Adelaide, vow eternal enmity and enlist the young dauphiness Marie Antoinette in their fight against the new mistress.

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