Intrigue, murder and lots of mayhem in ancient Rome #thethroneofcaesar @StevenSaylorAuthor @MinotaurBooks #caesarassaination #theideaofmarch #ancientrome #historicalfiction @NetGalley @absltmom

The Throne of Caesar (Roma Sub Rosa #13)
“Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. Take thou what course thou wilt.”

44 AD was not a good time to be Julius Caesar. It was his fate to be viciously murdered on the foretold Ides of March. “Beware the ides of March.” There would be no escaping the fate the gods had in store for him. Yet, Gordianus the Finder, a man who has solved many a crime in and around Rome, is tasked to discover if there is a plot afoot to murder Caesar. Hired by Cicero, Gordianus is also slated because of his adopted son’s closeness to Caesar, to become an esteemed senator. Seems like a monumental task and considering the outcome we all know it was mission impossible.

However, weaving a tale of all the major players in this drama, and throwing out possible scenarios, Steven Saylor created a highly readable and enjoyable book that makes you wonder at all the possibilities.

This is my first Saylor book, and I felt at first a bit behind the curve at the start. Later, however, I was able to pick up the thread while learning a bit about a poet named Cinna. (totally disreputable man with a penchant for macabre poetry), Brutus (not high on the ethics list…“Et tu, Brute?”), Antony (exactly what if any part did he play? “My heart is there in the coffin with Caesar”) and Fulvia (a lady who definitely had all her ducks in a row). This book was enjoyable and entertaining, one that people interested in ancient Rome and its delightful citizens might enjoy.

and here’s the author:

Steven Saylor is the author of the long running Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder, as well as the New York Times bestselling novel, Roma and its follow-up, Empire. He has appeared as an on-air expert on Roman history and life on The History Channel.

Saylor was born in Texas and graduated with high honors from The University of Texas at Austin, where he studied history and classics. He divides his time between Berkeley, California, and Austin, Texas.

Thank you to Steven Saylor, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for a copy of this wonderfully done historical fiction book. Onto more of these for this reader!


Happiness is reading a beloved book for the second time and still loving it. #theheartsinvisiblefurries @john_boyne #historicalfiction #gayfiction #toptenbooks

The Heart's Invisible Furies

This was my second reading of this book. I seldom reread a novel, and I can literally count on my one hand how many I have reread and sad to say, I have been disappointed. Yes, I loved the book initially, and yes, I was just checking out that love, keeping it safe and locked into my head and heart as a book I would NEVER forget. But, oftentimes, that second reading was not even close to what the first reading did for me. Not, this time though. My second reading of this phenomenal piece of writing was even better the second time around.

I can’t begin to express my happiness, joy, and besides gushing forth the many reasons why this book will always be counted among my top five books of all times, let me just say, if you haven’t read it, read it. If you haven’t cried tears, you will. If you haven’t laughed out loud while reading, you will. If you have ever needed a book to trigger all those wonderful human emotions, this my dear book friends is the one.

So, I am returning to my original review of this book finished on December 1, 2017.

This was absolutely positively wonderful in all ways a piece of literature can be.

I have thought and thought about this book long after I closed its back cover. It is probably one of the most powerful novels that I have read in quite some time, or maybe even forever!!!

Cyril Avery, the boy grown to manhood in this novel is a wonderful character. He epitomizes what it was like growing up a bastard in Ireland where his young unmarried mother is defamed by the parish priest, thrown out of her parents household, and cast adrift being pregnant, unloved, and unwanted. The only thing she can do is give her infant son up for adoption. So Cyril winds up the adoptive son of the Averys, a couple of non feeling, non conforming adults who while not abusing Cyril physically deny him any sort of emotional support always reminding him he is not an Avery. Yes, Cyril survives. He possess a wit and a look at life that while not carefree is certainly one in which he just seems to roll along. As a child he meets his best friend for life, Julian Woodbead, and their paths cross and converge as they grow to adulthood.

Cyril, not Cecil, knows he is different. Not understanding the how or the why he finds himself constantly drawn to Julian, who by this time is a major Lothario, never passing up a romp with anyone in a skirt and basically is unaware of the love that seems to be within Cyril for him. Holding his feelings for Julian inside for many years, finally confessing his feelings, he loses Julian. Cyril does eventually recognize his homosexuality and after countless back alley encounters he meet Bastiaan, a doctor, and they enter into a reciprocal love filled relationship.

This novel covers a large time span in Ireland from 1945 until 2015, moving through various locales, following the attitudes towards homosexuals in Dublin, Amsterdam and New York. We see the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church and its stranglehold on the people of Ireland. The book opens with the telling sentence that defines the church “Long before we had discovered he fathered two children by two different women, Father James Monroe stood on the altar of the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the parish of Goleen, West Cork, and denounced my mother as a whore.” We follow the struggles of Cyril as he takes us through his life making us cry with him, laugh with him, share his rage, and ultimately embrace him as a character we wish we could know and befriend.

This is an ambitious novel, over six hundred pages, but it is relevant in so many ways. Forgiveness, love, acceptance, eventually move through Cyril as well as moving through his native land. Cyril follows his destiny forward through a life beset with not knowing where he fits in. We, as his companions travel the road with him. I highly recommend this book to all those who love literature that moves one through a gauntlet of emotions and makes the reader feel grateful for having read such a book as this.

So thank you John Boyne for creating this book, these characters, and a journey that I will remember always.

And thanks to my two book buddies that read this book along with me!

and here’s the author:

John Boyne is a contemporary Irish Novelist. He writes novels for both adult and young audience and is famous for writing the acclaimed children’s book, entitled The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

John Boyne was born 30 April 1971. He is the author of eleven novels for adults and five novels for younger readers. His novels are published in over 50 languages. He has received countless awards during his writing career.

Adult novels : 2000: The Thief of Time (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 2001: The Congress of Rough Riders (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) 2004: Crippen (Penguin) 2006: Next of Kin (Penguin) 2008: Mutiny on the Bounty (Doubleday) 2009: The House of Special Purpose (Doubleday) 2011: The Absolutist (Doubleday) 2013: This House Is Haunted (Doubleday) 2014: A History of Loneliness (Doubleday) 2017: The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Doubleday) 2018: A Ladder To The Sky (Doubleday)

Children’s books:

  • 2006: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (David Fickling Books)
  • 2010: Noah Barleywater Runs Away (David Fickling Books)
  • 2012: The Terrible Thing That Happened To Barnaby Brocket (Doubleday Children’s)
  • 2013: Stay Where You Are And Then Leave (Doubleday Children’s)
  • 2015: The Boy at the Top of the Mountain (Doubleday Children’s)

A painter who can no longer paint, a musician who can no longer hear, a writer who can no longer write. #themuseumofwordsamemoiroflanguagewritingandmortality #georgiablain #memoir #braintumor #alzheimer’s #motherdaughter #friend @Edelweissbyabovethetreeline

What if the things you love most to do are taken away from you? What if the things that define you are lost? What if your life is to be cut ever so short? What if you had an incurable brain tumor?

Georgia Blain: Looked chaos in the face.

The above questions were ones that needed to be faced by the writer Georgia Blain, who in 2015 was given an awful diagnosis, that of a brain tumor lodged in the portion of her brain responsible for language.

In this poignant memoir, Georgia writes so eloquently of the things that writing and reading are to her. She is well aware of her prognosis and as she reflects on her writing life as well as her life as a wife, daughter, mother and friend. She informs the reader of what the written word has meant to her, how it is part and parcel of who she is.

Not only faced with her illness, Georgia also is faced with her brilliant well known mother, Anne Deveson, being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and watch this once vibrant woman succumb to this heinous disease. Tragically, Georgia’s best friend, Rosie, is also diagnosed with the very same type of brain tumor as she has, and as she watches Rosie deteriorate she sees herself.

This memoir is Georgia’s tribute to who she was, what she was, and how her mother, her daughter, Odessa, and her friend, Rosie, meant the world to her. Her world of words, of writing was going away quickly but she left this memoir for us to learn to truly appreciate the gift of language. Definitely recommended to all of us who love the written word, the use of language, and the eloquence of dying.

Tragically, Georgia passed away in December of 2016.

Thank you to Georgia Blain, Scribe, and Edelweiss for making a copy of this tragic yet beautiful memoir.

This book is due to be published on February 5, 2019

The Museum of Words: a memoir of language, writing, and mortality

and here’s the author:

Georgia Blain has published novels for adults and young adults, essays, short stories, and a memoir. Her first novel was the bestselling Closed for Winter, which was made into a feature film. She was shortlisted for numerous awards including the NSW and SA Premiers’ Literary Awards, and the Nita B. Kibble Award for her memoir Births Deaths Marriages. Georgia’s works include The Secret Lives of Men, Too Close to Home, and the YA novel Darkwater. In 2016, in addition to Between a Wolf and a Dog, Georgia also published the YA novel Special. She lived in Sydney, where she worked full-time as a writer.

We are into the month of February and here is what I am reading this week. #theheartsinvisiblefurries #museumofwords #thethroneofcaesar #noexit #daughterofmolokai #crucible @john_boyne #georgiablain @StephenSaylorAuthor @tadamsauthor @alanBennertAuthor @jamesrollins @NetGalley @chesapeakepubliclibrary @absltmom

February Birthday Quotes Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook - GreePX

February is upon us and my hope for all of us reading aficionados is lots of five star reads ahead in this wintry month ahead.

The Heart's Invisible Furies

I hardly ever reread a book but this book is one I will go back to again and again. To me, this story is pure perfection. It filled me with all the emotions, kicked me around a lot, and then came back and moved me once again to a point where this book is my go to model of what a five star read should be. So, here I am once again reading and loving this book along with two book buddies.

The Museum of Words: a memoir of language, writing, and mortality

Who better to write of what reading and writing has done to her as she faces her own death of a brain tumor than Georgia Blain. In this book, she tells us of the joys of writing, the joys of living, and the fear of losing her ability to read and write words which are so very important. Sure to be a most moving story.

The Throne of Caesar (Roma Sub Rosa #13)

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to go through my NetGalley list and read books I had requested and never gotten to. This is one of them. Gordianus the Finder, has been tasked to investigate a possible plot to kill Julius Caesar. And as the Ides of March are quickly approaching, Gordianus has his work cut out for him. …and we all know how this on turned out!!!

No Exit

I have been seeing such glowing reviews of this book so of course I am super interested in seeing if those reviews are true. A blizzard, a psycho, a kidnapped child, and a young woman combine to make a most intriguing sounding book. My book buddy and I are reading this one and are super excited to give it a whirl.

Daughter of Moloka'i (Moloka'i #2)

Is this not a stunning cover? In this sequel to Molokai, we now follow Ruth, the daughter that Rachel Kalama, the protagonist in Molokai was forced to give up. This promises to be an emotional tale, as mother and daughter reconnect through a letter. Twenty two years apart from each other, will they be able to become a mother and daughter once again?

Crucible (Sigma Force, #14)

I have read every single book James Rollins has written so when I saw this one hit my library, I was there putting this book on reserve. This is the fourteenth book in the Sigma Force series and I wonder what Commander Gray Pierce and the Sigma Force have in store for me.

That’s my books for the first full week of February. It seems to be a healthy mix of all things wonderful that books are able to conjure up in our minds. Have a super “novelistic” week everyone!

Book Quotes And Sayings. QuotesGram

You can never be too rich or too thin they say. That’s the mantra………………………………#thegirlsat17swannstreet @YaraZgheibauthor #anorexia #illness @stmartinspress @NetGalley @absltmom

Good Morning Thursday! Hope all we book lovers are doing well and enjoying a very good book right now.

Our striving to be thin has become an obsession. We indulge in costly diet plans, spend hours exercising, cut our food intake, all because the image of success and beauty is a thin body. If you are a dancer, a figure skater, a gymnast, or any other athlete, weight is the foremost idea in you mind. Don’t gain an ounce, don’t get any taller, don’t grow and most of all don’t eat. In this book, The Girls At Swann Street, we are taken into the life of a young woman, Anna Roux, as she and others battle the disease known as anorexia. They live together at 17 Swan Street where everything is monitored all in the hopes that they will somehow rediscover the world of eating. Anna is married and is loved by her husband, but he is at his wits ends as he watches the woman he loves disappear before his eyes.

The Girls at 17 Swann Street

Anna had been a dancer studying ballet in Paris. She was totally focused on dance and of course staying thin is ever so critical if one wants to dance. Perhaps if she weighed less she could jump higher, spin faster, be someone special, something meaningful, something she doesn’t hate when she looks in the mirror. She and her husband move to America, and Anna’s life and her own self begin that spin into decline and possible death.

Anna, eats less and less and her weight in a 5’4″ body drops to a precarious 88 pounds. She is dying from the inside out. She is admitted to Swan Street in the hopes that this program will save her. Her husband is her ally, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. She discovers the girls who with her, are suffering from the same inability to place food into their mouth. They have lost the joy of eating, and have lost the joy of living. Will this program save Anna and the other girls, or will they succumb to the ravages of anorexia?

This compelling story comes at the reader like a train rambling along a track that is filled with anguish and sadness. This is a story that many know, that many find themselves in, that many will die from. I heartily recommend this book to all and feel that you will be enhanced and informed by Anna’s story.

As an aside, my oldest daughter was a competitive ice skater for eight years. I know, first hand how coaches would frown if weight was gained. They would be upset if a growth spurt set in for that would throw off a child’s balance. They would try to control the life of a child to further their own ambitions to maybe someday be the coach of a winner. My daughter’s ballet teacher would scream at parents waiting for their children that the parents were too fat. At that time, I weighed 110 pounds. I couldn’t even, though I was an adult, get that thought out of my mind. Was I indeed too fat?

It’s insidious. It comes upon you, wrecks your mind as you constantly think and live weight.

Is it all worth it?

I watched and interacted with the children, the ballerinas at Lincoln Center. What they ate and placed on their lunch trays was pitiful, all in that attempt to be thin.

Watch the TV, look at magazines, listen to jokes, we worship thinness. We look to normal people as if they are obese, and we fat shame those who have weight issues. This is who we are so is Anna and the other girls’s stories so hard to understand?

Thank you to Yara Zgheib, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy of this moving story.

This book is due to be published on February 5, 2019

and here’s the author:

Yara Zgheib is a Fulbright scholar with a Masters degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in International Affairs in Diplomacy from Centre D’études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. Yara is a writer for several US and European magazines, including The Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, A Woman’s Paris, The Idea List, and Holiday Magazine. She writes on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog, “Aristotle at Afternoon Tea

How well can you carry a burden? How much do you want a friend when you are lonely? #herprettyface @AuthorRobynHarding #galleryscoutpress #friendship #sociopath #psycologicalthrillers @absltmom

Welcome to Wednesday avid book readers. Hoping you are able to enjoy this day. Here in Virginia, we are getting a bit of a wintry mix, but wherever you are, I wish you warmth, a hot drink, and an excellent book.

jill111 | Pixabay

When you are lonely, hungry for a friend, you often accept things that might seem strange, unknown, and unlikely. Such is the case for Frances Metcalfe, a woman who hasn’t friends, seems like a social pariah at her troubled son’s school, and a stay at home mom in a neighborhood that is ritzy and wealthy. Frances wonders does she belong here, does she belong anywhere?

Her Pretty Face

Frances is befriended by Kate Randolph, a woman who is everything France isn’t. Kate is beautiful, thin, accomplished, and a social leader in the school community. It is too good to be true when Kate befriends Frances? How could she like someone like Frances, who harbors a secret she is so afraid to face, that even her husband is unaware.

Like a breeze blowing only summer winds, Kate comes into Frances’s life. Kate mesmerizes Frances, becoming her one friend and confidant, and yet just like that old adage that there is when you think good things, something positive happens, Frances embraces all the things that Kate does. Yes, she is a bit adventurous and yes, she seems a bit wild, but she is exactly what Frances needs until she isn’t. But, are these the good things that Frances desires? Is she so overwhelmed by Kate’s interest in her that she doesn’t see what is glaringly evident?

Who is is this Kate? Is she the answer to a need or is she something entirely different, something strange, something unknown, something dangerous?

Told with many suspenseful moments, the story Robyn Harding brings to light is one of secrets, of lies, of deeds so horrible that one shudders to think of them. She portrays well the ability of a sociopath to deceive, to deny, and to spin those webs that encircle those who come within their path. “The face is the mirror of the mind”, but the face of a sociopath can become a mask for evil and malevolence.

and here’s the author:

Robyn Harding is the author of several books and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two children.

Can you escape from your past or are you predestined to live each day thinking about its effect on your life? #the peacockfeast @lisa.gornick.5 @fsgbooks @NetGalley #louisctiffany #laureltonhall #oysterbay #familysaga @absltmom

Welcome to Monday and my review of the book The Peacock Feast. Is that not a most gorgeous cover?

The Peacock Feast

Family sagas can encompass so many feelings, so much emotional turmoil, and so much questioning whether you have made over the course of a lifetime, the right decisions.

In The Peacock Feast we learn of the webs of the Tiffany Family and the stories of one group of people who worked for them. Tiffany was garish, wealthy, and use to having things exactly how he wanted them. He had a definite affinity for peacocks and had many strolling his grounds. He even went so far as having a peacock feast one year inviting the male denizens of the time and dressing children in peacock feather and even a peacock head. No women were included at this feast because Tiffany demanded decorum and the presence of women denied that from happening.

This man used to getting everything he desired. He decided he wanted a piece of beach in Oyster Bay to go with his home, Laurelton Hall, and had his workmen dynamite the area to change the flow of the ocean. With this action, he set in motion a series of events that were both tragic and heart rending.

Laurelton Hall

We are introduced to Prudence, daughter of the Tiffany gardener and one of the maids, the youngest child of three children. As Prudence, now nearing one hundred meets her great niece, Grace, for the first time, the events of Prudence and Randall, her long lost brother begin to unfold. Grace presents Prudence with a box with keepsakes from her long lost brother and so starts a telling of the stories of both Prudence and Randall across the decades.

This was a tragic story of lives that traversed from Europe to America, and from New York to California. It spoke of how our lives so easily fall into a pattern and many times the choices we make, seem to be destined for us, as if we are fitted into a mold of destiny.

Told with compassion and the goal of letting us really see these characters, Ms Gornick created a story of intense wealth and abject sadness and heartbreak. Decisions we make, things we do, make a life that can be full and worthwhile, but can also make one of poignancy and woe.

Recommended to those who so enjoy a family saga that spans the century.

Thank you to Lisa Gornick, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and NetGalley for a copy of this moving novel. 

This book is due to be published on February 5, 2019

Original 1920s Photograph of the Daffodil Terrace as part of Laurelton Hall
Daffodil Terrace
Archival Photo Depicting the Laurelton Hall Dining Room in 1946
Dining Room
Louis Comfort Tiffany, the Morse Museum, Orlando, Florida
Front Reception Hall
Tiffany Studios Vase from the Reception Hall at Laurelton Hall
Vase seen pictured above
Autumn Four Seasons Panel on Display at the Morse Museum of American Art
Four seasons panel
Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933)
Louis Comfort Tiffany

and here’s the author:

Lisa Gornick has been hailed by NPR as “one of the most perceptive, compassionate writers of fiction in America…immensely talented and brave.” She is the author of 4 novels: TINDERBOX, LOUISA MEETS BEAR, and THE PEACOCK FEAST—all published by Sarah Crichton Books/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and Picador; and A PRIVATE SORCERY, published by Algonquin. Her stories and essays have appeared widely, including in The New York Times, Prairie Schooner, Real Simple, Salon, Slate, and The Sun. She holds a B.A. from Princeton and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Yale, and is on the faculty of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. A longtime New Yorker, she lives in Manhattan with her family.