Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Great Gatsby Movie Art and Fashion

I know I am really late on "The Great Gatsby" Train but I must admit I held myself back. I read the book before I watched the movie and it was worth the wait. Beautifully filmed this movie is breath taking and I am glad I waited. I wanted to share with you all some of my favorite little things related to "The Great Gatsby". Happy reading all!

Carey Mulligan "Daisy Buchannan

Tiffany even jumped on board for Gatsby themed spread May 2013

For More On The Great Gatsby:
Check out the Soundtrack on Google Play
Amazon, Books, The Movie, and More on The Great Gatsby
You Tube "Young and Beautiful" - A Tribute to "The Great Gatsby"
You Tube The Great Gatsby Deleted Scenes - Alternate Ending SPOILER ALERT!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Review: THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

American classic literature at its finest. Short yet anything but sweet this novel will leave you feeling very reflective on your own life’s choices. At a tiny 180 pages this novel is not exactly an easy novel to read even for me it was rough going in a few spots. My interpretation is that Fitzgerald purposely wrote this novel intentionally vague. I think the point is to leave the story open for the reader to decide how they view the novel.

In the fabled city of West Egg Nick Carraway moved into a forgotten gardeners cottage between mansions the summer of 1922. Nick a WWI vet had moved to West Egg from the Midwest to pursue his hobby of writing. Nick’s had a lovely cousin named Daisy Buchannan that lived across the bay in East Egg. West and East Egg were very different from each other. East Egg residents were made of “old money” and West Egg was considered “new money”. The two suburbs fabled to be outside of Long Island NY were worlds apart. The two rarely crossed paths except for at “Gatsby’s Parties”. Coincidentally Gatsby happened to live right next door to Nick in a giant mansion. His parties were notorious for being the best in New York and the whole city would turn out for his shindigs.

Nick became quickly reacquainted with his beautiful cousin Daisy and her husband Tom. Nick and Tom were old Yale grad buddies. Tom also was heir to a vast family fortune and was an arrogant jerk. He and Daisy lived in the lap of luxury in East Egg. It was crystal clear to Nick after spending dinner with his rich cousins that Daisy was a very unhappy woman. Tom was the main source of that pain because it was said that he “kept a woman in NY”. Nick with out a choice would happen to meet this other woman that very night. During dinner Tom insisted that they go out for a night in town. On their way into town on the train Tom jumped off the train and headed straight to the local mechanic shop. Nick was stunned to discover that this other woman of Tom’s was also someone else’s wife. The mechanic’s wife Myrtle made Nick very uneasy. Daisy was his cousin yet after a little cajoling Nick partied like a wild man all night with Tom, Myrtle, and their closest friends.

Nick had been on a parting splurge when he received an official invitation to one of Gatsby’s wild parties. When he arrived he realized he was the only one who had actually been invited. He had a hard time finding the host of the glorious party and he happened to come across Daisy’s best friend he had met at dinner the other night, Jordan Baker. At least he had Jordan to cling to at the party because Gatsby was always aloof at his own parties. Nick had set out to discover more about the host and all he got back were outlandish tales of Gatsby’s background. He came to the conclusion that no one knew who Gatsby really was and right when he had given up searching him out Gatsby found him. He was nothing like he had expected, young, handsome, and defiantly sober unlike Nick. The pair hit it off and Nick found himself invited into Gatsby’s mysterious life of “new money”.

Gatsby had engaged Nick because he “wanted him to know something of him” because he had a request for Nick and miss Jordan Baker would explain the rest to him. Jordan had mentioned at the party that she had met Gatsby before and Gatsby needed their help. His request seemed like a simple thing. He wanted Nick to invite Daisy Buchannan to tea. Sounds simple enough yet Nick had no inkling at the history behind Jay Gatsby and Daisy. Nick felt compelled to arrange the meeting between his married cousin and this eccentric millionaire he barely knew and that was just the beginning.

4/5 I gave this novel a four even though I loved it because I had to re-read quite a few parts. The style of the prose maybe hard to digest for some readers, it can be difficult at times. If you did not read this in high school then I would highly recommend reading it before you watch the movie. I also think that if you did read it as high school mandatory curriculum then you should re-read it again because your interpretation as an adult might vary from a youth’s stand point. I also want to point out that the movie is almost exactly like the book except a few small parts cut out. The movie made a great follow up to the read.

R – Rating for violence and sexual references.
FTC – I bought this novel for my personal collection.
Amazon – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Book Review: THE SISTER QUEENS by Sophie Perinot

My new favorite historical fiction sisters are back at it again. This is a lovely novel on Marguerite and Eleanor of Provence. These exciting sisters are the reason why us historical fiction lovers read so much.

“The Sister Queens” focuses on the two elder daughters of the Count of Provence, Marguerite and Eleanor. Both sisters married very well. Marguerite married Louis IX of France and Eleanor married Henry III of England. Both sisters became queens of powerful countries. Though both women were queens they each had very different temperaments. Eleanor was the saucy one and stubborn to boot. Marguerite was the opposite she was docile and learned young to keep her feelings always guarded. Living apart the sisters did not let that stop them from keeping tabs on each other. Faithful pen pals though out their lives the adventures these sisters had were anything but dull.

The sister’s marriages could not have been more different. Eleanor’s Henry was a loving, devoted husband who always put her first. Marguerite's husband Louis on the other hand was so pious he felt guilty just for coming to her bed. They could have been happy together yet Louis’ pious ways kept them apart emotionally and physically. Marguerite strived to be a good wife and she proved her worth when they went on crusade to Egypt. The Egyptians captured both king and his nobles. Marguerite came to his rescue pregnant as she was she still was able to ransom the release of her husband and his men.

Sadly Louis never really saw Marguerite for the woman she was. He only cared about his faith and Marguerite was not a part of it. Eventually this beat Marguerite down and her eyes began to wander elsewhere. She fell madly in love with her husband’s closest friend Jean de Joinville the Seneschal of Champagne. Jean gave her what Louis never did real love, emotional, and physical. It was this relationship I enjoyed the most besides the sisters. Jean was a hopeless romantic just like Marguerite. He loved his King and Queen yet he also secretly loved the woman that was behind the Queen. She could not help her feelings yet she knew the consequences if they were caught it would her undoing.

Eleanor however was fully faithful to her “true husband” as Marguerite stated. She had the husband Marguerite never would. They were truly a happy pair. The real struggle they faced was securing Gascony for their son. After tirelessly fighting tooth and nail for it they finally had Gascony on lock down and the happy couple confirmed their new rule by paying homage to their brother in-law the King of France. The sisters were finally reunited after over a decade apart. Together these sisters now had one common goal and that was to insure lasting peace between England and France.

5/5 This novel was so different from “Four Sisters, All Queens” by Sherry Jones that I thoroughly enjoyed both novels. In this novel the sister’s personalities are swapped from Four Sisters. I enjoyed it both ways. For this one I enjoyed that Perinot explored Marguerite’s relationship with Joinville even more. It made for some super romantic moments. I highly recommend this novel because if you are not familiar with the Savoy sisters of Provence then you must make it a priority to read about these exciting sisters lives.

R-Rating for sexual content
FTC – This novel was sent to me by the author for review.
Amazon – The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot

Monday, November 18, 2013

Book Review: FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS by Sherry Jones

Famously beautiful the house of Savoy was renowned for their lovely qualities. Four beautiful sisters from the house of Savoy each different in their own ways snared me into their stories from the beginning of this novel. This was a delightful read that I related to so much. I also have four sisters and each one is unique just like the Savoy sisters. The tile of this novel is pretty self explanatory "Four Sister’s all Queen’s" yet I found what really mattered was how they got there.

Marguerite, the eldest of the siblings was the arrogant one yet at heart she was a hopeless romantic. Eleonore second in line was very close with her elder sister and both matched each other in ambition and wit. Sanchia was next and was born pious through and through. She loved her elder sisters but was a constant ball of anxiety that was filled with self-doubt. She was said to be the most beautiful of the girls yet it did nothing for her personality. Last but not least is Beatrice, the baby of the family. She was also a daddies little girl. Beatrice had a nasty mean streak in her but she too still loved her sisters. Growing up the girls lived in beautiful Provence. Their family lands were coveted for their rich salt mines. With four girls born to the Duke of Provence there was only one solution and that was to marry all the girls off and marry them off well.

The girls were all married off one by one as they came of age until only little Beatrice was left home. Marguerite married Louis IX of France and became Queen of France. Eleonore married Henry III of England and became England’s Queen. Then the two queen’s conspired together and married younger Sanchia to Henry III’s brother Richard of Cornwall and later King of Germany making Sanchia Queen of Germany. The three older sisters were pretty close and it really surprised me that they all spent so much time together in this novel. I can honestly say I have never read about any other Queens that traveled so much together. It made for exciting reads set in amazing locations.

Marguerite’s marriage was rocky from the beginning. Her new mother in law Blanche dubbed “the white queen” for all her white face paint held all the real power over her marriage. Blanche exerted her power over Marguerite every minute of every day. Marguerite really was queen only in name she had no real authority. Eleonore also had her own problems with her “aged” husband. Though he had a heart of gold she had no desire for him. In time she did grow to love him but her real struggles lay with the English court. They were not exactly keen to having a new foreign queen. They took every possible swipe they could at her. Yet she found security in her relationship with her husband because he truly loved her and she returned that loved whole-heartedly.

Sanchia was not really an arranged marriage yet her two older sisters defiantly played a hand in its fourth coming. The sisters needed a way to have an “in” with the Earl of Cornwall. Since Sanchia was the “fairest” of all the sisters and a devout woman they knew Richard would not be able to resist her. All Sanchia ever wanted was to enter a nunnery but her mama had always said “family” first and the family needed her to marry well. Over sensitive she was and Richard can be best descried as a pig headed man they started out good but the bad began to out weigh the good and Sanchia was very unhappy.

When the sisters sadly lost their father before Beatrice was married it became time for her to join her big sisters in the courts of the world. This was a huge turning point in the novel because when their father died Beatrice was named in his most recent will to be the now unwed Countess of Provence. He left Beatrice everything. This created some big problems because their father still had yet to pay Marguerite's dowry to France. It was this that wholly tore the sisters apart. Mama always said “family first” and Beatrice was a brat making everything very unpleasant. Beatrice chose a husband and her husband of choice was none other than the King of France’s little brother the Count of Anjou. Marguerite had a few run in’s with him through the years and he was a brat too. The new couple was so much alike, they both were bratty younger siblings and they both had a nasty mean streak.

Over the years these courageous sisters that were raised with “the hearts of boys” grew into women that possessed hearts of men. They never backed down, not during the Holy War, Civil War, or even when conquering new lands. These sisters were warrior queens of the 13th century.

5+/5 one would think that reading a novel with four protagonists would be a hard to follow read. Author Sherry Jones broke this novel down into chapters that were one person at a time and I was not in the dark every chapter because it picked right back up where it left off before. I really made use of the full family trees of all the different houses and most importantly everyone’s titles. The map also was a great resource because these sisters really went everywhere. I loved this novel it made me think of my own sisters and their unique qualities. I would highly recommend this novel to who has not heard of these dramatic sisters lives.

R-Rating for sexual content.
FTC-I received this novel by the author for review.
Amazon - Four Sisters, all Queens, Sherry Jones

Friday, November 15, 2013

Book Review: THE WHITE PRINCESS by Philippa Gregory

This one was not a new favorite of mine. Sadly I had really high hopes for this novel and it really fell short for me. I am a big fan of Philippa Gregory and always will be but in all honesty “The White Princess” was a real let down for me.

Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward VI was dubbed “the white princess”. Elizabeth’s life s a royal princess was a happy time but her father passed away suddenly and England fell apart at his swift departure from this life. This novel picks up right after the battle of Bosworth. King Richard III is dead and Henry VII is now King of England. Elizabeth’s mother Elizabeth Woodville and Henry’s mother Margaret Beaufort arranged the marriage to form an alliance between the house of York and Lancaster. They would join together the two houses and form the house of Tudor which would finally end the never ending “cousins war”. This is where I have to state that I did not like Philippa’s Henry Tudor. He was mean and down right unlikeable from the beginning. Margaret Beaufort had only one requirement before the wedding could proceed; Elizabeth had to prove she would be a very fertile wife. Elizabeth did not like Henry from the moment she met him and neither did I. She was still madly in love with her uncle Richard III. This was another aspect of the novel I did not like. The fact that they both had a real sexual affair irked me. Henry found this out and set himself to claim Elizabeth before they were married. He attacked her and she was not willing. He rapped her and she called him her “rapist” all through the first half of the book. However she did prove she was like her mother and she very quickly became pregnant.

After they were married the new king and queen welcomed their first child a boy name Arthur Tudor. Marriage to Henry Tudor was not at any point easy. His years of hiding and fighting his way through the war made him a very uneasy man. He suspected everyone and everything especially his own wife. He constantly accused her of conspiring with her “York” family to throw him down. She suffered many abuses by her husband but she knew her place and knew she was powerless in the Tudor court to do anything about it.

The biggest threat the Henry’s thrown came in the form of a “pretender” who claimed to be Elizabeth’s long lost younger brother Richard of York. This was a real threat and Henry recognized that if people believed this “pretender” then he could be thrown back down to where he came from. In protecting his court Henry alienates everyone especially his wife and her blood relations. Henry struggled to keep control of England and the “pretender” coming into the picture really complicated everything even more. Elizabeth found herself stuck in the very middle. She had already lost so much in her short life and wanted some peace but in a newly established Tudor Court conspiracies ran rampant and her husband always thought she had alliterative motives for the things she did. You cannot please everyone in life and Elizabeth found that out the hard way.

3/5 I enjoyed Elizabeth’s relationship with her cousin “Maggie” or how I knew her before this Margaret Pole aka the elderly woman Henry VIII executed for treason. I never imagined the two could have been so close. Now I can see that it would have made much sense. I was really disappointed with this novel. I kept reading thinking it would get better but it never really did. I really did not like that this novel had a whole different feel from the previous novels. Normally I can do a far-fetched historical fiction novel but even this one was reaching way too far. The whole book was really negative and anti climatic but that is just my two cents on this novel. .

PG-13 rating for some sexual references.
FTC-I bought this one for my personal collection.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Book Review: THE PARIS ARCHITECT by Charles Belfoure

WOW…. this is an amazing novel. This one is not my normal time period. Yet I really enjoyed reading WWII novels when I was in college. This novel has a compelling story line that I just could not resist.

“The Paris Architect” set in 1942 Paris during WWII; the German’s have been occupying France for some time now violence is an every day part of life in Paris at this time. Lucien Bernard really is not the most likable person at first. He is architect struggling tot make ends meat just like everyone in this time period. He is not a man of high moral fiber. He is married yet he also has a mistress who is part of the Paris fashion elite. Lucien is the type that would never put his neck out for anyone else but in a time where murders happened daily it desensitizes a person and makes horrific uncalled for violence an everyday part of life. Lucien was barely making it and people around him were killed everyday for just trying to live.

Lucien came highly recommended for his architectural skills and when he is approached for a new job that could put his life at risk he really had to consider all his options. It was meant to be a one-time job of the up most secrecy. The job was to make a hiding space no Nazi or Gestapo could ever find. If he took the job then his new employer would make sure as an added bonus that he got a contact for building a brand new war factory for the Reich. Lucien had much to gain by drawing up one blue print for this ultra exclusive hiding spot. On the other hand he could loose not just his life, he could be tortured to death by the Gestapo. It was more than a huge risk to help anyone Jewish because anyone who was caught hiding a Jew or helping a Jew was killed right along with the Jew on the spot. Lucien deiced he would take the job because getting one over one the despicable Nazi’s was just something he could not pass up.

Lucien and his new employer did not anticipate that they would have to move more than once, which meant more than one hiding spot. The Gestapo aka Nazi secret police were closing in and if caught everyone would die. They had to stay one step ahead of the Nazi’s. Lucien at this point became fully invested in hiding some of the Jews and feared greatly the Gestapo were following him. Even with the looming threat he knew he could never just walk away at this point. His heart had changed and now he would do anything to help save people that were being wrongfully persecuted.

5/5 WOW again wow this novel is a quick paced mysterious read. You really have no idea what might happen next. I really enjoyed this one. However I do have to mention that if you are not up for blood or violence then this is not the book for you because there are gruesome torture scenes that are very detailed. I would highly recommend this novel to WWII lovers because it is a unique novel that pulls all your heart strings.

R-Rating for blood, gore, violence and sex
FTC- this novel was sent to me by the publisher for review.
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