Tag: Books: First Reads


Review: Last Train to Istanbul

Posted 1 October, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

Last Train to Istanbul
By: Ayse Kulin
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Amazon Crossing via NetGalley

As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.

But when the Nazis invade France and begin rounding up Jews, the exiled lovers will learn that nothing—not war, not politics, not even religion—can break the bonds of family. For after they learn that Selva is but one of their fellow citizens trapped in France, a handful of brave Turkish diplomats hatch a plan to spirit the Alfandaris and hundreds of innocents, many of whom are Jewish, to safety. Together, they must traverse a war-torn continent, crossing enemy lines and risking everything in a desperate bid for freedom.

This title caught my attention for two reasons: 1) it’s set around and during World War Two, 2) I don’t know much about Turkey’s involvement or situation during World War Two and 3) I haven’t really read a novel by a Turkish author. I was approved of an ARC of this novel through the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be available on October 8th.

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

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Review: The Last Winter of Dani Lancing

Posted 30 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

The Last Winter of Dani Lancing
By: P.D. Viner
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Random House via NetGalley

Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found, and the case has long gone cold. Her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. While Jim fell apart, Patty was consumed by the unsolved case. She abandoned her journalism career and her marriage to spend every waking hour searching and plotting. She keeps contact with Tom, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, who has become a detective intent on solving murders like Dani’s. When he finds a lead that seems ironclad, he brings Patty in on it. After years of dead ends, her obsession is rekindled, and she will do anything for revenge, even become a killer herself-dragging her whole family into the nightmare once again, as lies and secrets are uncovered.

The premise of this novel sounded intriguing, in particular how Dani Lancing’s death affected her parents and her childhood sweetheart years after. I was approved of an ARC of this novel by the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This novel will be available on October 8th.

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Review: J’Adore Paris

Posted 25 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

J’Adore Paris
By: Isabelle Lafleche
Format/Source: Paperback; won a copy from HarperCollinsCA via Twitter

When chic Parisian lawyer Catherine Lambert lands her dream job as intellectual property director for Christian Dior, she is on top of the world. She’s prepared to embark on the ride of her life in the world of fashion, fighting high-profile legal battles against international counterfeiters. She’ll also be reunited with colleague-turned-boyfriend Antoine in her beloved hometown.

But Catherine’s visions of front-row seats at the couture shows and strolling the Champs-Élysées hand in hand with the love of her life are soon displaced by the realities of dingy police vans and threatening anonymous phone calls. The code of ethics that she knew from mergers and acquisitions does not seem to apply in the nefarious counterfeiting underworld, and Catherine finds her life turned upside-down by surprise meetings in dark alleys and an unexpected degree of notoriety among the criminal element. Will Catherine and her loyal assistant, Rikash, manage to outsmart even the most crooked of characters and come out on top?

I first heard of this novel earlier this year on GoodReads and it sounded both interesting (main character works as a lawyer/intellectual property director for a major luxury fashion company? Colour me intrigued), intriguing (facing international counterfeiters? Definitely don’t read about those on a daily basis) and fun (Paris, haute couture, totally there!). I won a paperback copy of this novel from HarperCollinsCA during the summer and after reading a number of serious titles recently, I needed a change of pace. Contains some spoilers ahead!

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

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Review: Journey into the Heart of God – Living the Liturgical Year

Posted 23 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

Journey Into the Heart of God: Living the Liturgical Year
By: Philip H. Pfatteicher
Format/Source: galley courtesy of Oxford University Press via NetGalley

Journey into the Heart of God is a captivating exploration of the history and evolution of the Church Year: the cycle of seasons in the Christian tradition that begins with Advent and culminates with Easter and is marked by the celebrations of saints, feast days, and the reading of Scripture as appointed by the Church.

Primarily through deft examination of the Western Church, Philip H. Pfatteicher reveals how the liturgical calendar has been transformed over thousands of years. It is a work of art–the collaborative achievement of generations of hands and minds. He shows how the church year dramatizes and grounds the strange complexity of the human experience and how it encourages honesty, humility, growth, and maturity in those who live by it.

Pfatteicher also offers insight into the liturgical texts of the Eucharist, the less familiar Daily Office, and the people’s theology voiced in hymns from a broad spectrum of ancient and modern traditions. It will be an indispensable resource for both clergy and laity in the liturgical denominations, including Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Anglicanism.

The premise of this title was very interesting; as mentioned in the blurb, this title looks at the Christian church and its liturgical year. As a practicing Catholic it caught my attention because while I know about the major celebrations and feast days that the church celebrates and that we follow three liturgical cycles (Years A, B and C in the readings), I didn’t know much else as to why the year was set up the way it was. I was approved of a copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This title will be available on October 2.

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Review: The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms

Posted 18 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Great and Calamitous Tale of Johan Thoms
By: Ian Thornton
Format/Source: Advanced reading copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster Canada

A wild, rollicking novel on chance, friendship, love, regret, and the entire history of the twentieth century.

Johan Thoms is poised for greatness. A promising student at the University of Sarajevo, he is young, brilliant, and in love with the beautiful Lorelei Ribeiro. He can outwit chess masters, quote the Kama Sutra, and converse with dukes and drunkards alike. But he cannot drive a car in reverse. And as with so much in the life of Johan Thoms, this seemingly insignificant detail will prove to be much more than it appears. On the morning of June 28, 1914, Johan takes his place as the chauffeur to Franz Ferdinand and the Royal entourage, and with one wrong turn, he forever alters the course of history.

Blaming himself for the deaths of the Archduke and his wife, Johan hastens from the scene, and for once his inspired mind cannot process what to do next. Guilt-ridden, he flees Sarajevo, abandoning his friends, family, and beloved in the fear that he has caused them irreparable grievance. He watches in horror as the Great War unfolds, every death settling squarely on Johan’s conscience. Turning his back on his old life, Johan does his best to fade out of memory.

But the world has other plans for Johan Thoms. As each passing year burdens Johan with further guilt for his inaction, he seeks solace in his writing and in the makeshift family he has assembled around himself. With everyone from emperors to hooligans at his side, and pursued by the ever-determined Lorelei, Johan winds his way through Europe and the Twentieth Century, leaving his indelible mark on both.

The advanced reading copy of this novel actually came by surprise in the post a few months ago from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It came all wrapped and everything, it was such a pleasant surprise; I actually didn’t unwrap it right away because it amused me so much. But I eventually did get around to opening and reading it some time ago. This book will be available on September 24th.

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