Initial Thoughts on Pachinko by Min Jin Lee #historical #fiction #books #novels #fiction #amreading

I’ve started reading Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, the next book on my Historical Fiction Around the World series. This story is much longer than the last one I read, so it will take me a little while to finish reading it, but I can give you my initial take on what I’m reading.

The hardback I’m reading has a different cover than the one I found on Bookshop. The story is 485 pages long. Lee didn’t provide any supporting information related to the story. No glossary or maps or recipes, etc. But so far I haven’t needed them, either.

While the author was born in Korea, she moved to the USA when she was 7 and was educated through university in this country. So her story is told using standard English so she didn’t need a translator or additional explanatory materials. Her Acknowledgements indicate the kind of research and interviews she conducted before writing this book, including many interviews with Korean Japanese people she met while living in Tokyo as an adult. Thus, she offers the best of both worlds to this American reader since I can learn more about Korean Japanese people but in a familiar language.

Not surprisingly, Lee’s writing voice is strong and clear as she tells the story of this family over the course of the 20th century, specifically 1910-1989. For a summary of the story line, I found this description although I haven’t read it all because I don’t want to spoil the experience of reading the book. I’m not even 100 pages into the story, so there is much to come!

I need to go read, so I’ll talk to you all soon! Happy Reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Audrey Harper needs more than home and hearth to satisfy her self-worth despite being raised with the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Working as a music critic for the city newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Second World War, she’s enjoyed both financial freedom and personal satisfaction in a job well done. When she uncovers evidence of German spies working to sabotage a secret bomber plane being manufactured in her beloved city, she must choose between her sense of duty to protect her city and the urgings of her boss, her family, and her fiancé to turn over her evidence to the authorities. But when her choices lead her and her sister into danger, she is forced to risk life and limb to save her sister and bring the spies to justice.

Set against the backdrop of the flourishing musical community during the 1940s in Baltimore, Notes of Love and War weaves together the pleasure of musical performance with the dangers of espionage and spying.

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Apple     Google Books     Bookshop

Impressions of The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho #historical #fiction #books #novels #fiction #amreading

The latest book I’ve read for my Historical Fiction Around the World series is The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho, an author from Malaysia and England. This book is on the shorter side, under 160 pages. It’s set in a pre-industrial mythical China but otherwise the time period is undefined. In fact, the story seems largely portable as related to time and place. No explanatory information is included, such as a glossary or maps.

The author has a light touch with storytelling in a good way. The tale is easy to grasp and the characters interesting if somewhat vaguely portrayed. I don’t feel like I know very much about any of them, including the main character. That said, Cho deftly painted the layers of the characterization so that I feel like I gradually knew everything I needed to know without weighing down the pace with unnecessary details and history. That’s an art unto itself!

The author wove together the historical aspects with mystical and religious themes as well as contemporary topics we all can recognize playing out around us today. I’m a fan of the mystical and the inexplicable nature of life and belief systems. Cho embodied them in her characters.

I enjoyed this quick read even though sometimes I personally was a bit confused as to what was happening. Chalk that up to my inexperience with the place and time and belief system described. But the characters and the plot are thought providing as well as entertaining.

Next up is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a Korean author. However, I’m going to take a week off for a vacation with my husband, and be back with my thoughts on that story first thing in February.

Until then, Happy Reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

Impressions of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe #historical #fiction #books #novels #fiction #amreading

I’ve finished reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. This story is fairly short, only 209 pages. A short Glossary of Ibo Words and Phrases is included at the end of the book. The paperback I read has “50th Anniversary Edition” on the cover, too. That tells me this story has been around for a long time and enjoyed/read by many people. The author has written at least 20 other works of fiction and poetry. Achebe is quite a good storyteller and appears to be quite beloved by many readers. If he’s a new author for you, you might give him a try with either this story or any of his others.

As far as Things Fall Apart goes, I found it interesting to experience the culture of the society of the story. The story seems to be about how a strong, ambitious clansman could not adapt to the societal changes wrought by newly arrived white men. Thus the title.

One thing about the story that bothers me is the essential endorsement of the brutality of the clansmen toward their dependents (women and children, in particular). The traditions included, to my 21st-century eye, appear harsh and caveman-ish. I don’t mean to be negative about the story. Moreso that I wonder what other men interpret about the culture of the story and society depicted for present-day men. What is Achebe saying with his story? What do readers glean from it?

Since the story written from a man’s perspective about a man’s experience, women and children are decoration and a backdrop for men’s needs and actions within the tale. This is not unexpected nor unwarranted by any means! I found it interesting to see the world through a man’s experiential lens. I tried to “become” the main character to some extent in order to understand his motivations and reactions to the people and events around him.

Achebe’s writing style in this story left me rather startled and confused at times as he glossed over events with a sentence or passing comment by the characters. Actions happened “off stage” of the story in places where I would have expected to be a witness to them. That’s just me, probably. Or maybe a difference in storytelling technique and expectations? Or both, of course! One of the reasons I embarked on this Historical Fiction Around the World quest is to learn about the similarities and differences in storytelling techniques used by writers from around the world.

Up next is The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho, an author from Malaysia and England.

Happy Reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

Impressions of The Wreath by Sigrid Undset #historical #fiction #romance #books #novels #fiction #amreading

Last week I shared my first thoughts about The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, translated into English by Tiina Nunnally. The story is about a young Norwegian girl named Kristin and how she grows into a strong-minded, assertive young woman in a time when such an attitude was not readily accepted by her family. Indeed, she was expected to do what her father dictated. The path she chooses is fraught with obstacles and challenges, too.

Now mind, the story takes place in the 14th century so there is a lot different about the society in which she is raised and which she resists from our present-day worldview here in the USA. Indeed, in many ways this story, first published in 1920, foreshadows our current existence in some ways. Kristin takes the reins of her life to steer her way through all obstacles and barriers, much like many women do today. She faced the same kinds of threats that women today do, as well: dismissal, subjugation, lewdness, overbearing men, even rape. (Why is it that men keep that weapon in their arsenal?)

One thing that reading this story brought forcibly home to me is that people do not change at their core despite new places, technologies, situations. Still, we tend to view each other as either an opportunity/known entity or a threat, and act accordingly. The characters within the covers of The Wreath seemed to reflect mostly the unsavory aspects of humanity. There were, to be fair, some religious people and kind people too, but most of the prominent figures had an ulterior motive of one kind or another at work. Even Kristin dealt underhandedly with her family all while rationalizing her choices up until the bitter end. Most likely the subterfuge people employ is still true today, as well.

I did enjoy the story overall after I’d adjusted to the different narration style and the unfamiliar names of people and places. But isn’t that part of the wonder of reading historical fiction from around the world and from different time periods? The opportunity to experience something different from my day-to-day life and activities. The concerns expressed by the people in The Wreath, while familiar and relatable, are also unique and otherworldly. This is the first story of a trilogy but I don’t think I’m interested enough to continue reading. Others probably will find it worthwhile, though!

Next up on my Historical Fiction Around the World series is Nigerian Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Off to the library I go!

Happy Reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

Initial Thoughts on The Wreath by Sigrid Undset #historical #fiction #romance #books #novels #fiction #amreading

Happy New Year, everyone! Every new year brings a bit of hope to my heart that things will get better both personally and professionally. I’ll do what I can to see improvements where possible!

Let’s kick off 2023 and my continuing series of Historical Fiction Around the World with my first thoughts about The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, translated into English by Tiina Nunnally. The Wreath is the first of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. This story, first published in 1920 and translated into 80 languages, is set in the 14th century in Norway and is written by a Denmark-born but Norwegian-raised author. Ms. Undset received a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.

I’m about a third of the way through the story, and am enjoying it now that I’m acclimated to the language and the narrative style. Undset weaves a compelling tale and paints a beautiful and vivid landscape for her story. My brain had to make an adjustment to both the proper names used throughout and to the rather inverted syntax the author employs. What do I mean by that?

The proper names, such as that used in the trilogy title, are of course reflective of the country’s language. “Lavransdatter” translates to daughter of Lavrans, for instance. Other Norwegian terms are explained in context if not defined outright in the dialogue. While it took a moment to adjust, I soon fell into the pattern of the naming conventions.

The “inverted syntax” I referenced also comes from the differences in language used. I enjoy “hearing” the cadence of the language from a Norwegian influence. Much like when I visit other countries with a strong lilt to their speech, it’s nice to experience the different emphasis and musicality of the language even if merely on the page. I think the way we phrase our thoughts reflects our culture in subtle ways, which can be revealing in and of itself. But I digress!

Altogether, I am fully invested in finding out what Kristin will do next, what social mores and expectations she will confront and perhaps defeat for her own best interests, and where the author is going with this tale. I imagine I shall finish reading it this week and will report my complete impressions next time.

So once again, Happy New Year! And Happy Reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

My Impression of With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’m happy to report that I have finished reading With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, and ultimately it was a good read. If you missed them, you can read both my first impressions as well as more insights I shared last time. This very long story is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish, let’s be clear. Why, you may ask?

With Fire and Sword accurately depicts how the battles depicted in the book are fought. Sienkiewicz does not shy from vivid details of the horrors of war and the gore and violence that accompany hand-to-hand combat. I can’t tell if this is a cautionary tale about those horrors, or an honorific to the men who fought for what they believed in versus those who only fought to gain or hold onto power. One parallel I kept seeing is the disregard for human life during these battles and those in Ukraine today. It also should be noted that much of the fighting in this story takes place in Ukraine in the 1600s. I found myself wondering at the similarity in both the logic and the nerve the soldiers in the tale demonstrated which seems to reflect today’s events. Another example of how although times and technologies may change, humanity really doesn’t all that much?

Another aspect of this story I found intriguing is the sense of an extended quest narrative woven throughout the battles and bloodshed. Two of them, actually. The first more gruesome one is the vow one noble makes to sever three heads in one blow to honor his ancestors. The second one is the pursuit of a singularly beautiful princess who is ultimately moved hither and yon much like a pawn in a chess match. Throughout the story, several different men secrete her away or chase after her, longing to marry her. Her beauty strikes men dumb until they adjust to being in her presence. But she only has eyes for one noble, despite being kidnapped and hidden from him.

Sienkiewicz knew he was writing a bloody account of warfare so he included some comic relief in the person of one of the nobles. Zagloba exaggerates his deeds, trash talks those around him including his friends, and speaks his mind even at the most inappropriate moments (according to his friends and fellow soldiers). He’s opinionated about everything but most especially food and mead. But he does provide a chuckle here and there to offset the cruelty and mayhem.

I’ll say it again: this is a very long story! I appreciate the research and the time it took the author to put onto paper the life of the soldiers and nobles during this awful time in history. He’s done a good job of describing the setting so I could picture (most of the time) the battle scene or the conversation or whatever with ease. He delves into the heart of the characters to bring forth their deepest fears and desires for me to witness.

I’m glad I read it but at the same time I don’t think the vivid awful imagery will leave me alone for quite some time. This is not my typical historical novel that I enjoy reading due to the focus on the battles and bloodshed. But it also provides a look at the life of the soldiers during the war, which is what I care about more than the strategies and officers and such. “Seeing” how they lived during the war is interesting, in other words.

I’m going to take a couple weeks away from this Historical Fiction Around the World series to do some research for the next novel I want to write. Look for the next installment in the new year.

Until then, happy reading! Happy holidays!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

More Thoughts on With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

Before I dive into my ongoing thoughts about this story, I’d like to share that the 3rd Edition of my award-winning historical short story collection, Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure, releases tomorrow, December 6. I’ve added back in the photos from the 1st Edition that were dropped by the 2nd Edition publisher. You’ll find a new Foreword by an Army Historian, too. I did a bit more digging into some of the more esoteric questions in the girls’ biographical information and added some new insights into their lives. I’ll give more details about the book below this post for those of you who want to know more. Now onto today’s post…

Last time I gave you my first impressions of With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, which is turning out to be easier to read than I first thought. I have found this adjustment period to be true whenever I read classical literature or any writing from previous centuries (except the 20th, of course!). Inherently, the language—word choice, cadence, nuance—has changed since then. Reading this novel set in the 7th century Ukraine and written in the 19th century would undoubtedly require a bit of a mental adjustment as to the expectations with regard to the vocabulary and phrasing.

Oh, I should share that Hoopla updated their app and now when I return to the story the app takes me back to where I left off in this lengthy tome. Makes it much nicer to pick it back up!

Comparing the bloody, devastating war of the 7th century to the present war in Ukraine is also rather depressing. I have a sense of “some things never change” for the Ukrainian people. I want them to change! I wish for peace and security for every single person impacted by the awful war. The destruction in the past came about from direct hand-to-hand fighting, fires (intentionally set), and disease/injury. Destroying everything in their path, the fighting armies inflicted physical and emotional ruin. I’m doing some research into the Reconstruction Era in Alabama, and the scenes Sienkiewicz describes in this novel are reminiscent of the destruction at the end of the Civil War in Alabama. The things people do to one another… It’s shocking and yet repeated throughout history. Why do we do this to each other?

The more I read, the more I enjoy the story and want to return to find out what happens next. The novel is very long and has a lot of characters, some with similar long names. I sometimes mix up who is who, but the actions and thoughts of each soon sort that knot out. Writing about historical events can be hard to do clearly since so much was happening at any one moment. All the players, as it were, each doing their own thing but those actions combining to yield a certain result. I don’t know how many of the characters are real personages from the past and how many are invented characters. Maybe I’ll see if I can find out more about the actual history between now and next time.

I think I’m about one third through the story. I will do my best to finish it before the next blog so I can wrap up my impressions of this interesting war tale.

Until then, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Initial Thoughts on With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I must admit that this next book on my Historical Fiction Around the World series, With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, is a difficult read for me. The writing can be difficult to process due to long, convoluted sentences. Add in many Polish and Russian names and words and it’s been a challenge. I meant to spend most of Thanksgiving reading it, to be honest, but didn’t feel up to that challenge despite holding my iPad with the Hoopla app on it! I will read more though and hope it snares my attention more as I delve farther into this history.

Speaking of the digital reading experience, I’m a bit frustrated with the ebook on my Hoopla app. When I stop reading and exit the app, the book gets closed. Upon reopening the app and then the book, it displays the page number where I stopped reading but defaults to the first page of the Introduction instead of to the page where I left off. Now, there are 1770+ digital pages in the ebook; I am up to page 300 or so right now. So I have to scroll through to find the page where I stopped again. Additionally, this ebook format’s header always displays “Introduction” instead of any specific chapter, which the ebook doesn’t have broken out anyway. The Table of Contents only lists four sections, to be exact, with one of those the entire story. Navigating through the ebook just adds to the challenge of reading this story. I’d really rather have a print edition…

I’m sure part of the adjustment I need to make is to the different style of language insofar as the story was written in 1884 and the author was a Polish journalist. Believe me, writing nonfiction is very different from writing fiction and can be a difficult transition. The author wrote for The Word as well as wrote short stories and other novels. He was well known and appreciated in his lifetime, the Polish people even gave him the “small estate of Oblegorek, near Kielce in south-central Poland” according to Britannica.com. Reading his work is definitely worth my time and attention given the acclaim he’s received although the novels are “criticized for their theatricality and lack of historical accuracy, they display great narrative power and contain vivid characterizations.” I’ve noticed the staging aspects of the story, almost as if he were writing a play in places. So I’ll continue reading and let you know more about the story itself next time.

Until then, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Audrey Harper needs more than home and hearth to satisfy her self-worth despite being raised with the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Working as a music critic for the city newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Second World War, she’s enjoyed both financial freedom and personal satisfaction in a job well done. When she uncovers evidence of German spies working to sabotage a secret bomber plane being manufactured in her beloved city, she must choose between her sense of duty to protect her city and the urgings of her boss, her family, and her fiancé to turn over her evidence to the authorities. But when her choices lead her and her sister into danger, she is forced to risk life and limb to save her sister and bring the spies to justice.

Set against the backdrop of the flourishing musical community during the 1940s in Baltimore, Notes of Love and War weaves together the pleasure of musical performance with the dangers of espionage and spying.

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Apple     Google Books     Bookshop

My Impressions of The Henna Artist by Akla Joshi #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’ve finished reading The Henna Artist by Akla Joshi. Last week, I shared my initial thoughts so feel free to pop over and read it if you missed it. Now that I’ve read the entire story along with the supporting materials and an excerpt for the second story in the series, I feel more confident in my opinion of the story. Which is to say, that I highly recommend reading this story. It’s worth your time. Why do I say that, you ask? I will be happy to tell you…

Before I talk specifically about The Henna Artist, I want to talk about the experience of reading. Reading a borrowed book on the Hoopla app on my iPad annoys me. I find it difficult to hold the device for long periods of time. I did poke around at trying to enlarge the font but it didn’t hold at the bigger font. So I had to continue to hold it landscape. I know that’s picky of me. I much prefer holding an actual book in my hands. I have reading apps on both my phone and my tablet, but a paperback or hardback is far more comfortable for my hands. Each options for reading has its purpose, though. I am reading an anthology of historical romances for pleasure on the Nook app on my phone so I have something to read whenever I am waiting for a doctor, etc. I read the library borrows on my tablet since I’m usually home when I read the historical fiction for this blog series. But I also have a library in my guest room with tons of printed books that I can choose from. When I travel, I’ll likely take at least a couple paperbacks with me to read (they don’t require batteries or interfere with other electronics) but I’ll still have my phone and those stories at hand as well.

Now back to Akla Joshi’s story. The depth and breadth of details about living in India in the 1950 as well as the traditions and culture of the country gave me a much better appreciation of the people and the lives they lived. I’ve never traveled to India so everything I know about the region is from books and movies. Ms. Joshi helped me to “live” the life of her characters and the limitations they faced and overcome.

Discussions throughout of the uses of various plants, herbs, and spices intrigued me. Learning that the author did extensive research into that aspect of her story gives a lot of credence to how her characters use them. I’ve been fascinated with herbals and combining various herbs and spices into liquid suspension or creams/lotions for a long time. I am not an expert in any of it, just admire those who are!

Lakshmi is the epitome of an emotionally strong woman. She’s faced time and again with having to navigate through hopes and dreams on one hand and the societal expectations and limitations on the other. I really enjoyed seeing how she worked through the decision making process before her and how she handled any fall out from the choices she makes. I’m not saying she was perfect, but she took responsibility for her decisions and actions and then worked to correct any wrongs she may have made. What more can you ask of anyone?

The next book on my Historical Fiction Around the World series is With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz. This is another story recommended by my friends at the Historical Novel Society Facebook group. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, you might check out that group.

And one last time this year, now that Thanksgiving in America is close to hand, I’ll share my Thanksgiving romance with you all. See below for more on Tara and Grant’s unique trek into an enchanted valley…

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Love is never lost; it haunts the heart…   An unsuspecting Southern town. Ghosts. Witchcraft. Skeletons in the closet. Discover the Secrets of Roseville in this five book series… Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds!

He dug for the truth and found her magic…

It’s safer to stay hidden. Or so Tara Golden believes. She has hidden her healing powers ever since shunned as a child for using them. But occasionally, she helps people passing through town. Then a tall, sexy geologist demands answers to questions she doesn’t want to face. The hunky guy is in for a huge disappointment since she would never expose her abilities and her gifted sisters even to silence the handsome man.

Grant Markel’s eyesight is restored, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. He followed his brother to Roseville on the fool’s errand of creating an alchemical elixir. Only to have his condition disappear without any treatment. But the idea that Tara is a sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest makes him face hard truths despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical reality or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

Amazon     Barnes and Noble      Kobo     Apple     Books2Read     Google Books     Bookshop

Initial Thoughts about The Henna Artist by Akla Joshi #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’ve started reading the next book on my Historical Fiction Around the World tour of books written by non-American authors entitled The Henna Artist by Akla Joshi. It’s important to note that this is the first book in The Jaipur Trilogy. This first story is set in Jaipur, State of Rajasthan, India in the 1950s. The paperback is 400 pages, but I’m reading it on my iPad via a library borrow through Hoopla. I mentioned this only to add that while it’s nice to be able to read it on my iPad, Hoopla won’t let me resize the text easily like I can in other reading apps. Perhaps I need to poke around more and see if there is a way to change that, but for now I’ve been turning the device to landscape mode to make the text large enough to read.

The author has provided some collateral materials to help readers understand the context of the story. These include a glossary, the Story of Henna, information on the Caste System, as well as several recipes for items/foods mentioned in the story. She also includes a list of the characters who appear in the story to introduce them before you begin reading, a fact I’ll circle back around to in a minute.

The story is divided into four parts and I have finished reading through Part One. The main character, Lakshmi, is very likeable and despite the different culture and society she lives in, I feel like I understand her situation and her choices. The author has deftly written about the nuances of life in India, the protocols and expectations, as well as the subtle politics of the society. It’s really a fascinating introduction to India for me.

The Prologue helps to set the stage for what comes later, but I must admit to being confused as to whose story I was reading since the author begins with a character who is not Lakshmi, but her sister, Rhada. So when chapter one begins, I thought we were still in Rhada’s POV, not Lakshmi. After a few paragraphs, I caught on but there was a bit of confusion for me. I suppose if I’d read the list of characters more closely, I might have followed it better. So consider that my advice to any who wants to read this interesting and compelling story: read through the Characters Who Appear section carefully.

Akla Joshi has a beautiful writing style that readily depicts the life and times of the characters in this delightful story. Let me share the opening paragraph of Chapter One, which does a fine job of setting the stage of Jaipur:

Independence changed everything. Independence changed nothing. Eight years after the British left, we now had free government schools, running water and paved roads. But Jaipur still felt the same to me as it had ten years ago, the first time I stepped foot on its dusty soil. On the way to our first appointment of the morning, Malik and I nearly collided with a man carrying cement bags on his head when a bicycle cut between us. The cyclist, hugging a six-foot ladder under his arm, caused a horse carriage to sideswipe a pig, who ran squealing into a narrow alley. At one point, we stepped aside and waited for a raucous band of hijras to pass. The sari-clad, lipstick-wearing men were singing and dancing in front of a house to bless the birth of a baby boy. So accustomed were we to the odors of the city—cow dung, cooking fires, coconut hair oil, sandalwood incense and urine—that we barely noticed them.

I’m looking forward to finding out what will happen next in this story. I’ll try to finish it before next week’s blog.

Now that Thanksgiving in America is close to hand, I’d thought I’d share my Thanksgiving romance with you all. See below for more on Tara and Grant’s unique trek into an enchanted valley…

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Love is never lost; it haunts the heart…   An unsuspecting Southern town. Ghosts. Witchcraft. Skeletons in the closet. Discover the Secrets of Roseville in this five book series… Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds!

He dug for the truth and found her magic…

It’s safer to stay hidden. Or so Tara Golden believes. She has hidden her healing powers ever since shunned as a child for using them. But occasionally, she helps people passing through town. Then a tall, sexy geologist demands answers to questions she doesn’t want to face. The hunky guy is in for a huge disappointment since she would never expose her abilities and her gifted sisters even to silence the handsome man.

Grant Markel’s eyesight is restored, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. He followed his brother to Roseville on the fool’s errand of creating an alchemical elixir. Only to have his condition disappear without any treatment. But the idea that Tara is a sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest makes him face hard truths despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical reality or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

Amazon     Barnes and Noble      Kobo     Apple     Books2Read     Google Books     Bookshop