December 19, 2014

Reading List Recap: Le Femme Fatale(s)

This has been a slow reading season for me as the only time I have had to get lost in a good book was while confined to a seat on a plane or in a hotel room. Never the less, here's a short recap of what I have read lately- a few new favorites! I already have quite a few books lined up for the New Year but I am definitely open to any and all suggestions! Unless it's a book on astrophysics... in which case the review will be on how effective it was as coffee table decoration.

Overall: *****

Summary: The embellished, yet true rags-to-riches story of Josie Arlington; infamous madam of the most lucrative and controversial brothel in early twentieth century New Orleans! Art lovers, history buffs, jazz fans, and feminists rejoice, this is a great read that you won't regret.

What I loved: By now you may know that I have an affinity for historical fiction novels with rebellious heroines and dark and twisty turns, and this book is no exception. Mysterious characters, romance, political controversy, history... it's all here. I read this book on our flight to New Orleans this summer and loved walking around the neighborhood where the story took place. I kept pointing out street names and buildings and launching into lengthy wikipedia searches about things I had read. A fun, quick, and entertaining read, and definitely one of my new favorites.

Not so much: It has been a few months since I read this book, but honestly there isn't anything that I can think of that I would have changed about it. Just when you think it's a cliche romance tale, you remember that it's based a true story and not all true stories have happy endings...

Overall: ***

Summary: A coming of age story about a young girl named Ibby Belle who is forced to live with her eccentric and mysterious grandmother in her New Orleans mansion. Set in the 1960's, this story weaves around the civil rights movement, life in the deep South, and the rise of rock and roll. 

What I loved: This story reminded me of The Help mixed with a Judy Blume book. It's a good read for tweens or anyone wanting a light, easy read with enough historical weight to keep it anchored. 

Not So Much: It was sweet, easy to read, and somewhat entertaining, but didn't totally pull me in. If I hadn't been on a plan while reading it, I may not have pushed through it in one sitting. 

Overall: ****

Summary: Korobi Roy is raised by her wealthy grandparents in Kolkata, India. Believing her parents to be dead, and despite plots to defeat her, Korobi plans to marry the son of a prestigious family with prominent political and financial connections. However a hidden letter reveals details about her family that sends Korobi to America to try to track down the mystery of her parent's disappearance.

What I loved: My favorite thing about this book was the setting and the Indian customs and culture that is woven throughout the story. In a society where patriarchy and marital unions mean everything for a person's future, Korobi chooses to listen to her heart. I borrowed this from the library based on the cover alone and I am glad that I did. It was a good read and one that I would recommend it to anyone who loves coming of age stories set in faraway locations.

Not so much: Perhaps because much of the Indian culture is so foreign to me, and so drastically different from modern American or western culture, I found some of the circumstances hard to believe. I wanted to scream at Korobi to "just knock it off, forget the outdated bullcrap, and do whatever you want!" but I couldn't because it was a book, and because it was all part of the bigger story...

Overall: *****

Summary: One-Eyed Charley Parkhurst, the most fearless and notorious stagecoach driver in the West, spent his entire life searching for the man who murdered his family... and on his deathbed was revealed to be a woman! Inspired by a true story (you can google her!) this story will entertain and fascinate you from beginning to end. A quick read (chapters are only a few pages long) and well written story. 

What I loved: Everything about this book (see "Madam")! After my mom passed it on to me, I read it over a weekend, then immediately lent it to my boss, before mailing it to my book buddy Kristin in Colorado (hi!). This is easily one of my favorite books of the year and one I will recommend for many more to come. 

Not so much: At first I thought the story seemed a bit slow- I didn't realize how all of the details were going to fit together- but once I got a few chapters in, I was hooked. This is the kind of book you read while walking around, eating, cleaning, and sitting on the toilet (well it's true), because you simply don't want to put it down. 
Happy reading!

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