Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday Snapshot



I have been an animal lover from as far back as I can remember.
I was one of those kids who said, "When I grow up, I'm going to have a big house with a big yard, a fence with lots of animals who need homes."  
I, of course, assumed that I would have enough money to feed and medicate all those animals, play with them and care for them in the manner they deserve.
The day I chose education as my major, the dream of having that much money went quickly down the drain. :/
Nevertheless, I've always tried to support our community efforts to take care of unwanted animals, and I am one of those people who believes 100% that PEOPLE are the problem, NOT the animals.

However, I've been afraid of actually giving my time and volunteering at the shelter.
I was specifically frightened that I would become emotionally attached, I wouldn't be able to handle the sadness, and/or I would want to bring home all the dogs.
On a whim, the youngest and I tagged along with some friends one afternoon to the Animal Rescue League of our little town/county.
We walked the dogs, we sat and played with them, talked to them, rubbed them, tickled under their chins and for some of them, just tried through the cages to get them to give us just a chance.  
I didn't leave sad.
I left blessed.

Dogs, especially, are born with loyalty and love...it's what we do with them after they're born that makes them into the adult animals they become.  
I've seen firsthand, just in the short time we've been volunteering, animals who are frightened enough to growl at us, end up being the most loving creatures in the whole place.  
They just need the reassurance that all people aren't going to hurt them.  

Missy, the dog in the photo above, is one of the animals who did not trust people at all.  She turned away from men, women, little girls and boys who tried to bring her out. 
Until yesterday.
My Reagan chose Missy...and for some reason, Missy decided that Reagan was ok.

I didn't take the photo I'm sharing today; it was taken by one of the shelter workers who was so tickled to see Missy responding to someone.  

The love of an animal is something that can't be described...you just have to experience it. 

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ At Home with Books


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Seduction by M.J. Rose - Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours


Seduction by M.J. Rose
Atria Books 2013

Format? paperback ARC
Source? the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

**FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of Seduction from the publisher in exchange for a review.  However, the review below and the opinions therein are mine and offered without bias.

Title? oh yes, not the kind of seduction that the reader immediately thinks either...smooth, silky, touches at the heart of who you are and who you love seduction, hard to walk away from even though you know with every fiber of your being that you should seduction

Cover? I think the woman is Fantine...that's who it is to me. Love it.

Reminded me of? So many times in this book I was reminded of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, which is one of my favorite books of. all. time.
Owain and Roan - Jacob and Esau, Cain and Able
Theo and Ash - Bobby and J.R. Ewing...and any other contemporary brother feuds...don't roll your eyes...I did want to smack these two around a bit from time to time.

Why? I missed out on The Book of Lost Fragrances and was determined not to miss out again.

What Now? I must have The Book of Lost Fragrances NOW.  Can't believe I've done it again and read things out of order.  Doesn't matter. I don't even care in this case.  Be prepared for me to gush below because I. loved. this. book.


Golden Lines

"Creatures have an authenticity about them, a purity people don't possess.  Our complexity overwhelms us." (41)

Very little was known about these people whose civilization could be traced back to the Bronze Age in 1200 BCE.  Most of what had been written about them came from biased and bigoted accounts from the Romans who considered the pastoral, pagan Celts barbarians.  Pull away the veil of prejudice and what emerged for Jac was a complex, deeply spiritual and evolved society. (63)

I know I can never satisfy my longing for a ghost.  The thought alone is madness!  But I crave her.  I want to experience her in the way that only mortals can experience each other - with taste and touch and smell.  But she has none of these.  She is shadow and smoke.  Knowing that makes no difference.  My passion won't listen to logic.  And so my poetry fills with her.  My sleep has begun to suffer.  Day after day, I find myself desiring to commune with the dead more than the living. (75)

To be a decent writer you must have both empathy and imagination.  While these attributes aid your art, they can plague your soul.  (80)

I had never met a woman who was as empty emotionally and accepting of it as you were.  Who was a s dead inside and so at peace with it. (81)

As the fragrance filled the corners and seeped into the fabrics, it transformed a strange room into a familiar one.  With so few constants in her life, and so much of her family gone, scent was how she remembered  and kept herself sane. (85)

Nature was a fine sculptress as well as perfumer.  A leafy canopy shaded the allee and the air smelled sweet.  Hazels were rich with symbolism, and the air around them was said to be laced with magically charged energy that helped those who breathed it to gain wisdom and poetic inspiration. (89)

"Everything changed though in 1855, when Victor Hugo, who was living in exile in Jersey at the time, introduced Pierre to a young Parisian woman named Fantine." (115)

"We get to any given point via the choices we make.  Even those that seem insignificant have far-reading implications." (121)

"You're not here to take medicine and get better," Malachai had explained on Jac's first day.  "You're here to study your psyche, learn from it, and then use those lessons to develop coping skills." (134)

I am a rational man.  I live in exile because of what I believe: that the church and the clergy are evil oppressors.  That they use the fear of the unknown to control those who are uneducated.  I believe in the rights of the individual and that the government is corrupt and not dedicated to its citizens. (215)

I am Lucifer.  All I want is for man to have the same knowledge as God. (223)

Suddenly Jac felt the air wavering around her.  Familiar shivers ran up and down her arms, pinpricks of cold that alerted her to what was coming.  The smells around her intensified.  The light dimmed.  Shadows descended.  Her thoughts threatened to ebb away.  She was suffering the first warning signs of an encroaching hallucination. (237)

This was the circle of stones he'd been alternately terrified by and fascinated by as a child, and which he most often gravitated to as a teenager.  Even though it sometimes frightened him to be here, this was wehre he came to be alone.  To think.  To weep. This was where he felt the most in touch with himself.  Even if that self was in hell. (261)

Ruefully, she thought of Oedipus and the futility of trying to escape your fate.  But she didn't believe in fate. (279)

For Fantine and the child who will be mine. (338)

But he had, in the end, chosen life. (366)

Summary

Jac L'Etoile's life and work is mixed with Victor Hugo and ancient mythology as she tries to recover from her own psychological issues.   Against the advice of her therapist, Malachai, Jac travels to Jersey Island to visit with another patient from her Blixer Rath days, Theo Gaspard.  Theo and Jac have a spiritual connection strong enough to save them both from their own independent turmoils as long as they don't fall into it too deeply.  Theo and Jac search for Victor Hugo's journals of the seances he participated in while in exile on Jersey in order to get to the bottom of their connection and what it means to the past as well as any future they might have together or independently as survivors.

What I Liked

Fantine, Fantine, Fantine, Fantine - she's not even a main character but I connected with her somehow, someway.  I've never lost a child, but I got her sadness...to her core.  I understood her logic.  What a character.  

Spirituality - Who we are as spiritual beings begins with what we're taught...but ends up being a conglomeration of what we're taught, what we choose to study and our life's experiences.  Spirituality seeps from every possible pore of The Seduction.  Yes, there are some aspects which are hard for the reader to wrap his/her mind around...things we automatically doubt or feel as if we are betraying our faith if we think about other options...but I think that's the point.  Not to change anyone's mind...but to think about the possibilities that so much spirituality, throughout centuries, overlaps in some way.  Could it be possible that various religions, beliefs are one in the same but re-named or built upon over time?  

Death - The possibilities of reincarnation would be difficult to discuss without death...and it's not that I like discussing death...but these characters were susceptible and even weakened by their losses.  As humans, no matter how intelligent we are, the loss of a loved one, especially in tragic, unexpected circumstances, can literally mess with one's mind.

Literary historical fiction - as if I need another kind of historical fiction to love, I'm over the moon for historical fiction that builds on what we know of a classic author's life.  

Fragrance - honestly when I began reading, I had no idea The Seduction was a continuation of The Book of Lost Fragrances.  *Yes, I need a thump on the head :p  Jac's sensitivity to smell is incredible (obviously the reason she was born into a family of perfumers.  I knew quickly that if Rose's lyrical descriptions of the combinations of smells around Jac were anything like The Book of Lost Fragrances, that I would need the other book quickly.  I could smell most of what Rose described...and I wanted desperately to smell the natural components she described with which I was unfamiliar.  I myself am sensitive to smell and have been all my life, so the references to fragrance and how they affect us psychologically were very easy for me to follow.  

Timeframes - 1855, present day, 56 BCE
Another aspect of Rose's writing that is absolutely the very best I've seen in a long time...I was never confused and wanted to enter each period as much as the others.  

The Shadow of the Sepulcher - now don't get me wrong; I didn't "like" him, but Rose's description of him is one of the best I've read in a long time.

Jac's relationship with her brother Robbie - he saved her life both literally (as a child) and figuratively so many times.  Their bond was one that held both of them up.

Gwenore - I so want to know more about this part of the story...a woman of ancient civilization who was respected and loved, who held knowledge that her people honored, who questioned her husband's experiences and added to his visions with her own gifts.  In the end, she too walked voluntarily into her destiny (again, very much like The Awakening)

Google factor:
Elizabeth Castle
Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain 
Charles the Second - English Civil War
Victor Hugo's exile in Jersey
Fantine
LEtoile - star (can't tell you more than that)
the Cathars, the Inquisition, early America - branding of those with differences
Jung's theory of collective unconscious
Celtic Druids
Jersey history during WWII - connections with Guernsey history, German invasion, protection of the Jews
those who helped the Jews protect their family heirlooms
Marine Terrace - Hugo's home in Jersey
Rocher des Proscrits - Rock of the Outlaws
Wiccan reenactments of Celtic ceremonies
the legend of La Dame Blanche
La Pouquelaye de Faldouet
Neolithic-period temples and burial sites - ley lines


What I Didn't Like

Ash - didn't like him from the moment he showed up.  I also didn't like the childishness of Ash and Theo's relationship.  Will it change after the finale of The Seduction? I have no idea.  

I wasn't done with this story...especially that of Owain, Roan, Gwenore and Brice and how their past affected so many futures...and most especially, now that the circle had been closed, how the present future would be affected.  (Now if that's not a convoluted sentence, I don't know what is ;)


Overall Recommendation

If you like historical fiction mixed with present day ghost stories, stories deeply intertwined with human psyche, spirituality from a variety of perspectives, fragrance, family dynamics over generations including choices and consequences that are apparent even centuries later, you will LOVE The Seduction.

The Author




Other Stops on the Tour

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

Monday, March 25
Review at Luxury Reading

Tuesday, March 26
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 27

Thursday, March 28
Interview at A Bookish Libraria

Friday, March 29
Review & Guest Post at vvb32Reads

Monday, April 1
Review at A Bookish Affair
Review & Guest Post at The Novel Life
Review & Guest Post at The Lit Bitch

Tuesday, April 2
Guest Post at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, April 3

Thursday, April 4

Friday, April 5

Monday, April 8
Review at Girls Just Reading
Interview at The Novel Life

Tuesday, April 9
Review & Guest Post at Kinx’s Book Nook

Wednesday, April 10

Thursday, April 11
Guest Post at Literary Marie

Friday, April 12
Review at West Metro Mommy

Monday, April 15
Review at Layered Pages

Tuesday, April 16

Wednesday, April 17

Thursday, April 18

Friday, April 19
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary

Monday, April 22
Review at Impressions in Ink

Tuesday, April 23
Review at Review From Here

Wednesday, April 24
Guest Post at The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, April 25

Friday, April 26

Monday, April 29
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Tuesday, April 30
Interview at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, May 1

Thursday, May 2
Review at Unabridged Chick

Friday, May 3

Monday, May 6
Review at Amused by Books

Tuesday, May 7

Wednesday, May 8
Review at Buried Under Books

Thursday, May 9
Interview at Buried Under Books

Friday, May 10
Review at Savvy Verse & Wit

Monday, May 13

Tuesday, May 14
Review at Words and Peace
Guest Post at Historical Tapestry

Wednesday, May 15
Review at Stiletto Storytime

Thursday, May 16
Review at From Left to Write
Guest Post at Stiletto Storytime

Friday, May 17
Review at A Novel Review

Monday, May 20
Review at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, May 21
Guest Post at Broken Teepee

Wednesday, May 22

Thursday, May 23
Review at Man of La Book
Guest Post at Bags, Books and Bon Jovi

Friday, May 24
Review at The Calico Critic

Monday, May 27
Review at Paperback Princess

Tuesday, May 28
Guest Post at Blood Mother Blog

Wednesday, May 29
Guest Post at To Read or Not to Read

Thursday, May 30
Review at Book Nerds
Guest Post at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Monday, June 3
Review at A Book Geek

Tuesday, June 4
Review at Tribute Books Mama
Guest Post at My Shelf Confessions

Wednesday, June 5

Thursday, June 6
Guest Post at Book Nerds

Friday, June 7
Review at Book Drunkard

Monday, June 10

Tuesday, June 11
Review & Interview at Pure Textuality

Wednesday, June 12
Review at From the TBR Pile

Thursday, June 13
Review & Guest Post at Books by the Willow Tree

Friday, June 14

Monday, June 17
Review at Mari Reads

Tuesday, June 18
Guest Post at Mari Reads

Wednesday, June 19

Thursday, June 20
Review at History and Women
Guest Post at Daisy’s Book Journal

Friday, June 21

Monday, June 24

Tuesday, June 25
Guest Post at The True Book Addict

Wednesday, June 26
Interview at Judith Starkston Blog

Thursday, June 27

Friday, June 28