Friday, November 1, 2013

Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener - HFVBT

Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener

Format? paperback
Source? the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure - I received a complimentary copy of Banquet of Lies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.  

Why? Historical fiction, a strong female lead, lords and ladies, and a glimpse into the downstairs. 

I was reminded of? "The Aristocats," "Downton Abbey," The Prince and the Pauper, the Maisie Dobbs series

What Now? I'd like to read In a Treacherous Court and The Emperor's Conspiracy by Diener.

Golden Lines

"You make the dishes?"  The woman tapped Gigi on the arm with her fan.  "With the servants?" Her voice was a squeak. (2)

Just like she'd done to his butler, his cook had picked him up like a bottle of champagne and shaken him vigorously, and now, at last back down on his feet, he could only stumble about, ready to explode.
It was a sensation he suddenly craved again. (45)

"I will get the coffee now when I'm at the market, Mr. Edgars, as part of the household shopping.  And you are welcome to tell his lordship all about it.  If Lord Aldridge cannot afford to let his cook drink coffee if she wants to, or if he is so petty as to not allow anyone in this house to drink something he doesn't wish to drink, even though it will not affect him the slightest, then he has hired the wrong cook and I will give him my notice immediately.  (81)

She knew she was being followed.  She'd seen a movement, furtive and quick, out of the corner of her eye, and she didn't try to pretend to herself that it meant nothing.  (121)

She wanted to trust Lord Aldridge, wanted to go to him and confess everything. (181).

A smile and a bit of humor would have undone the damage, but Edgars seemed to have a knack for making things hard on himself. (200).

"My...lord?"  Edgars turned again in the direction of the hall, his whole body trembling.  "I let him in.  Not half an hour ago.  I...He's downstairs." (320)

Short and Sweet Summary

Giselle Barrington's father is murdered, and she must find a way to deliver a politically sensitive message to the right person.  Her father lost his life for the message; the least Giselle can do is complete his mission.  Unfortunately, her father's killer knows of her involvement in her father's affairs and is looking for her.  He wants the message and he wants her dead.  Giselle must hide in the home of Lord Aldridge, pretending to be his French cook while figuring out her next move.

What I Liked

His Edginess - I didn't so much like this character as I liked his presence in the book.  Plus, every time Diener used his name, Edgar, I couldn't help but think of the butler in The Aristocts :P The French phrases as well, reminded me happily of the little kittens singing and talking.  I couldn't help but wonder if Diener had been a Disney fan at some point?

Gigi/Giselle Barrington - I see a series in the making, and I'm sold if that's so.

The budding romance - I'm a snooty reader.  Yes, I admit it.  I'll pass up a book in a hurry if there's bodice ripping on the cover or too much of a hint of passionate swooning in the book summary.  When I first started reading Banquet of Lies, I actually became a little nervous..."Oh, great.  I've unintentionally accepted a romance."  A few pages later, however, the great romance snoot was hooked.  Oy.  Banquet of Lies has just enough believable swooning to make you think back to the early days of romance...when two people feel an attraction, realize there's something there, and fight against it for a bunch of silly reasons.  The romance was deeply embedded within the main plot of the story as well and not rushed at all.  I give in.  I want to read more about Mademoiselle Giselle Barringtong and Lord Jonathan Aldridge.

Status - interesting to note the status among the servants and particularly that of the cook since that position is the one Giselle fills at Aldridge House.  I wonder if all cooks could get away with such "cheekiness" and demands as Gigi and her "foster" father, Georges do.  It makes sense to me...the cook's ability to make or break each day with the quality of sustinance served in the household.  I've just never really thought of it before.

Giselle's boldness and her mistakes - she's a noble born woman...with inherent freedoms not afforded to true servants, so she messes up sometimes.  She slips with her gestures, forgotten titles, demeanor, and her role (place) in the household.  Her mistakes only further reinforce to her the plight of the common born woman, something which she has had no reason to consider before.

What I Didn't Like

Some of the minor characters - Dervish, the men Giselle's father worked with, and even Frobisher got a little confusing at times.  I don't think I really got to know them well enough.  It didn't get in my way of the plot, however, and I don't feel like I missed anything.

Overall Recommendation

If you like a solid, enjoyable piece of historical fiction melded with spying and murder mysteries, pick up Banquet of Lies.

The Author




Other Stops on the Tour


Monday, October 21
Review at Unabridged Chick
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 22
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, October 23
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading

Thursday, October 24
Review & Giveaway at The Lit Bitch
Interview at Linus’s Blanket

Friday, October 25
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Libraria
Interview at Historical Tapestry

Monday, October 28
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, October 29

Wednesday, October 30
Review at A Bookish Affair
Interview & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, October 31
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Friday, November 1
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.
Interview & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Friday's Harbor by Diane Hammond - TLC Book Review

Friday's Harbor by Diane Hammond
HarperCollins 2013

Format? paperback, 325 pgs. 
Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
***FTC Disclosure - I received a complimentary copy of Friday's Harbor from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Why?  Whale rescue? The power of animal/human connection?  Do you really have to ask?

What Now? First thing I'm going to do is watch "Free Willy"...can you believe I've never seen it??  I'm also going to watch the CNN documentary "Blackfish" all in one sitting.  So far, I've only caught snippets.  Then, I want to read Death at Sea World.
After I've gotten enough killer whale info to satisfy me for a while, I'll switch over and read the pre-cursor to Friday's Harbor, Hannah's Dream

Golden Lines

"Is she right?  Is he lazy?"
"He's in an advanced state of starvation."
"Don't they realize?"
"No.  In all fairness, they've never worked with a healthy killer whale, so they don't have anything to compare him with." (31)

And in the absolute quiet of the moment Truman felt a sudden, nearly overwhelming sadness: that there were orphans in the world, tha thtere were those who deserved better than they got, that isolation could be so profound. This alien creature without hands or ears or facial muscles amplified a hundredfold the incredible hubris of enforced captivity.  Maybe in their misguided kindness they had made an appalling mistake. (39)

"There's a ton of money to be made here.  This fish is a star."
"Mammal," Truman said mildly.
"He's a mammal, not a fish."
"I don't care if he has wings and can fly.  All I know is, when I went to Rotary yesterday, people were jumping all over me about when we plan to open up.  Money, money, money..." (74)

"For one thing, animal psychics are frauds - there's no such thing. For another thing, Friday would be dead inside a week if he were released back to the wild.  He's used to being hand-fed dead fish, not having to figure out where the schools of fish are today and tomorrow.  He's immune suppressed, so he'd pick up the first infection he came across.  And the North Atlantic is a big, big place - the odds of him finding his pod, or of them finding him, are remote.  Reality bites." (98)

Friday was the most easygoing killer whale Gabriel had ever worked with.  Still, he did have a temper, which he lost early one morning during his first weeks at the zoo over a handful of squid he was offered for the first time.  While Gabriel and Neva watched, he spit out the squid and then swam around the perimeter of the pool slapping his tail flukes on the water in outrage. (128)

He swam past the old woman but then stopped and circled back until he was only inches away from her.  They regarded one another, the whale and the woman; their eyes locked and held.  Tears ran down her thin cheeks in the chilly air of the gallery. (132)

The evening news was being written at that very moment, based on crazy conclusions invented by people lacking even an iota of factual information, and there was no time to set them all straight. (239)

He sang, whistled, clicked, and trilled at the calf in a long and constant song.  And the calf sang back. (315)

Short and Sweet Summary

Truman Levy, new director of the Max L. Biedelman Zoo, in Bladenham, Washington takes on an aging killer whale who is slowly dying in his current home in Bogata.  With the help of professional keeper and trainer Gabriel Jump, Truman and his staff, along with his benefactor aunt, Ivy Levy, learn the ropes of killer whale care.  They also end up having to fight political activist groups who think they know what's best for Friday.   At the center of it all is Friday, the incredibly intelligent, miraculous mammal, through whom they all learn more about themselves as well as the animal himself.  

What I Liked

Ivy Levy - all my life I've dreamed of being Ivy Levy, with so much money that I could build a huge home with lots of land and homes, vet care, food, toys, etc. for all the animals in the world who didn't have a home.  In a perfect world, right?  

Gabriel - the collector and then rescuer.  Truth and reality are his focus...whether or not everyone around him likes it or not.  He's an expert and allowed to do his job.  His knowledge is endless, but when he is stumped he doesn't hesitate to call on other expert friends for collaboration.  I've seen the portion of "Blackfish" where the whale calfs are caught, but I've also seen the fisherman's remorse after the task is complete.  Unlike Ivy, I think I could work something out where Gabriel is concerned.

All the ins, outs, and all abouts, of killer whale behavior, training, characteristics, personality, and vet medicine.  So interesting!!  Several times I teared up at the sheer wonder of this creature.

Truman Levy - I could be Truman...I really could.  I'm not a lawyer, and I don't have a rich aunt, but I do sometimes get confused about the politics that are going on around me.  I say the wrong thing sometimes in defense of what I believe, and I sure as heck make mistakes.  I try very hard to surround myself with good people..and I let them do their jobs.  Now, if I could only find a rich aunt :p

Libertine - oh to have a life where you feel what animals feel.  Selfishly, I wouldn't want it because how else could you live your life if you did?  Libertine endured a lot for Friday's sake, physically, mentally, financially, and every other way you can think of.  She also somehow psychoanalyzed Julio Iglesias, and that, in itself, was a miracle.  

What I Didn't Like

I'm already traumatized by the idea of animals in captivity.  So, the entire notion of this book traumatized me from the beginning...True, Friday was being rescued, but he was being taken from one bowl of water to another.  I do not, however, subscribe to the "death is better than captivity" camp's theory.  

Julio Iglesias - the Chihuahua...I'm an animal lover.  But, even I draw the line with an animal that poos and pees in my house.  Especially one who's doing it out of spite.  Ivy kept him a lot longer than I would have.  He did make me laugh from time to time though...I could just see his haughty expressions and him marching around as if he owned the place.  

What some groups are willing to do in the name of "death is better than captivity" makes just about as much sense as bombing abortion clinics to save lives.  Really?

Overall Recommendation

If you're an animal lover, don't miss this one.  If you care anything about the political discussions behind conservation and capture, you need to read this book.  You may find that you're not as one sided as you thought.  In Friday's Harbor, Hammond doesn't try to change your mind; she just presents a complete story for you to consider.  

The Author

Other Stops on the Tour

Wednesday, October 16th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Thursday, October 17th: Book Club Classics!
Monday, October 21st: Library of Clean Reads
Wednesday, October 23rd: Book-a-licious Mama
Tuesday, October 29th: Ageless Pages Reviews
Wednesday, October 30th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, November 5th: As I turn the pages
Friday, November 8th: Not in Jersey
Thursday, November 7th: The Book Wheel
Thursday, November 14th: Ace and Hoser Blook