Thursday, January 29, 2015

4 new-to-me authors I plan to read this year and 4 favorite repeaters

As much as I try to stretch out of my box occasionally, I always like the warm comfort of favorite authors! Here's the authors that will be new to me, and old favorites revisited in 2015! If anyone has any suggestions in the "new to me" category please tell me!

New to Me
Graham Greene - I have said I'm going to read "The Quiet American" for 2 years and haven't done it.Is this the year? (Shoulder shrug)
Arthur Conan Doyle - I think I've only read "Murders at the Rue Morgue". That's not nearly enough for a man of his catalog volume.
Diana Gabaldon - I bought "Outlander" to read on the plane ride to Europe this summer! I need big fat books for distraction (and to weigh down my carry on apparently). Hooray for paperback versions of things!
Elizabeth Gilbert - I put "Eat Pray Love" on the All Lady July calendar. Is it worth the hype? We shall see! I'm only a few years late on this one.

Repeat Offenders 
Mary Roach - I unapologetically love Mary Roach. "Gulp" is also on the All Lady July calendar. She made it on for "Spook" last July.
Willa Cather - Willa, my favorite member of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She ALSO will be represented during All Lady July with her classic "O, Pioneers!" And she ALSO made it for last July with "My Antonia". So yes, I play favorites.
Philip Kerr - I put if off as long as I could, but I finally read the last of his Bernie Gunther novels. I'm assuming there's more in the pipeline for the future. (There better be!)
Jen Hatmaker - Jen speaks to my soul. Her book (that I got the kindle version of for $1 which enabled me to get off the massive wait list at my library!) "Interrupted" will be going up on the blog during Holy Week.

Are any of these authors your favorites? Any recommendations?

Review and Screencaps: ‘Outlander’ Episode 1X01 ‘Sassenach’!  I think we ALL wanted to volunteer! Ep1

I volunteer but can you wash your face real fast?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Book Review: Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb (HFVB Tours)

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Camille lives in suburban France with her family. Her mother (who she clashes with constantly) wants her to be a respectable woman and find someone to marry and settle down. However all Camille can think about is sculpting. She has great potential and has a tutor but to really succeed she feels like she needs to go to Paris to learn. It's tough for a woman to be taken seriously as an artist and she knows that if she wants to succeed she will have to silence a lot of critics and work incredibly hard.

She goes to art college, experiences nude models for the first time, and kind of struggles with independence and relying on her family for money for everything. She has some success and gets some good buzz about her work, but everything changes when she meets Auguste Rodin.

Their relationship is complicated and long and rotates between love/hate/utter devotion/despair and just about every other thing in between. It's also complicated by the fact that Rodin has lived with the same woman for decades who is also the father of his nearly grown son. They inspire each other and make each other better artists but outside forces, her family, her volatile nature and a lot of other things keep things from ever being really quiet and orderly with their life together!

Here's the hangup for me. Camille is hard to like sometimes and I don't understand her occasionally. At the beginning her family agrees to move to Paris but her mom's condition is that she gets to set her up with suitors. Camille totally agrees to it but when it comes to the suitors she completely resists. And I get that she doesn't want suitors, but you made a deal, honor the agreement.Towards the middle of the book, she was like "oh my gosh I kissed a stranger at a party when I was drunk" but doesn't really have qualms about having a sexual relationship with Rodin. Like kissing a stranger was far more scandalous. Having said all that I was glad that Jessie totally calls her out on being a crummy friend and kind of an overly abrasive person so I was glad she played the role of Greek chorus for me! Though as the book progresses you kind of understand why she might be acting that way.

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Advanced Praise for Rodin’s Lover

“Rodin’s Lover is a textured historical novel that captures the indomitable spirit of artist Camille Claudel, a woman whose mighty talent was nearly eclipsed by her potent love for fellow artist Auguste Rodin. Can two passionate, creative talents thrive together or will one flame inevitably consume the other? Webb gracefully explores this ignitable relationship while illuminating Claudel’s untold heartbreak and evocative artwork. A story of human emotion, once raw and malleable, now preserved to lasting stone.” ~ Sarah McCoy, New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of The Baker’s Daughter

“Rodin’s Lover is the story of Camille Claudel–one of history’s boldest and most brilliant artists. Forced to choose between a torturous love affair and the art that consumed her, Claudel is an audacious and authentic character who deserves to be remembered. RODIN’S LOVER is epic and unflinching–a book you won’t soon forget.” –Deanna Raybourn, NYT bestselling author and Rita Winner of City of Jasmine waltz
“Rodin’s Lover is an evocative portrait of the talented and explosive Camille Claudel who struggled between passion as the lover of Rodin and recognition as an innovative sculptor in her own right. From smoky cafés to clay-streaked ateliers, Heather Webb has created a vivid picture of Belle Époque Paris.” –Jessica Brockmole, author of Letters from Skye

“Dazzling!….. In Rodin’s Lover, author Heather Webb brings to life, with vivid detail, the story of brilliant and tormented sculptress Camille Claudel and the epic love affair with the legendary sculptor who worshiped her. Deeply moving and meticulously researched, this book will capture your heart, then hold it tightly long after the final page.” –Anne Girard, author of Madame Picasso

“A rich, sensuous novel…[was] written with great empathy for the very human Rodin and his lover, this novel of the visceral world of the 19th century Paris ateliers, of clay-stained dresses and fingernails, lithe models who vow to remain and then go, family love which stays through all difficulties and talent which endures, comes vividly to life.” –Stephanie Cowell, author of Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet
“Rodin’s Lover is a taut and engrossing look at sexism in the arts through the eyes of a lesser known figure, Camille Claudel, inspiring the reader to examine what’s changed and what hasn’t.” –Julie Kibler, bestselling author of Calling Me Home

Buy the Book

About the Author

Heather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing. Her debut, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, released January 2014 from Plume/Penguin. Her forthcoming novel, RODIN’S LOVER, will release in winter of 2015.
When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world.
For more information, please visit Heather’s website. She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb), on Facebook, or via her blog. Stop on by!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sharing some excitement!

I have some non-blog related excitement to share with you! (But if you want someone who does have blog related excitement, did you see Andi got mentioned in the WSJ? Holla!)  Well, I mean, it's exciting for me, not for anyone else necessarily but you'll be seeing me talk about it on the blog so here it is! My sister Quinn (of "I'm turning 30 so let's go to Mexico this past August" fame) and I just book a European river cruise!

I'd been saving for the better part of 2 years to get back to Europe this year. The savings took a hit when we went to Mexico, but MANATEES  and time with two of my favorite people so no regrets. I had a couple of ideas about what I wanted to see and where I wanted to go, whereas Quinn had none because she's never been to Europe. I said "I have to see Prague, we work everything around that". And we did.

Quinn was the one who mentioned river cruising, I hadn't really thought about it but she brought up the totally valid point that with her job she basically lives in and out of a suitcase. So if she could go on vacation, see a lot of places and unpack a limited amount of times, she was all about it.

So after a ridiculous amount of research and picking people's brains and talking to experts we picked this cruise! The map below is our route! Our boat that we will be on will be brand new, it's first sailing is in May!

We go in June, so there's plenty of time to panic about what to pack, how I medicate myself to deal with a 9 hour flight, and does mascara count as a liquid? Does it have to go in my quart size container if I don't check it in my bag? (This is a constant question for me, I don't know why this flummoxes me so much but it does). So happy I don't have to be packing carry on only!

If anyone is like "Wesley do you hate your husband? Why do you only travel with your sister?" Josh is not a great flier, and our anniversary trip to Mexico 2 years ago was his first time out of the country. We are working up to a Josh and Wesley europe trip. He wants to go to Ireland and I'm all about it! So someday ")

So, if you

A: have been to any of these places and have suggestions about wonderful things to see or stupid things to skip

B: have any advice on river cruising (I've only done an ocean cruise)

C: are a Polyvore expert (I have questions! Can you import things? Can you share your list without publishing it?)

please pass them along to me, I (we) would love to hear your words of wisdom! 

Back to book content tomorrow :)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book review: "Hold the Dark" by William Giraldi (or "When a book blurb lies to you and it turns out okay anyway")

Have you ever read a book description and you think to yourself "well, that sounds enjoyable" so you put it on your TBR and you read it and the book is NOTHING like you thought it was going to be? That was totally my experience with this book. Here's the blurb from goodreads:

"At the start of another pitiless winter, the wolves have come for the children of Keelut. Three children have been taken from this isolated Alaskan village, including the six-year-old boy of Medora and Vernon Slone. Stumbled by grief and seeking consolation, Medora contacts nature writer and wolf expert Russell Core. Sixty years old, ailing in both body and spirit, and estranged from his daughter and wife, Core arrives in Keelut to investigate the killings. Immersing himself in this settlement at the end of the world, he discovers the horrifying darkness at the heart of Medora Slone and learns of an unholy truth harbored by this village.

When Vernon Slone returns from a desert war to discover his son dead and his wife missing, he begins a methodical pursuit across this frozen landscape. Aided by his boyhood companion, the taciturn and deadly Cheeon, and pursued by the stalwart detective Donald Marium, Slone is without mercy, cutting a bloody swath through the wilderness of his homeland. As Russell Core attempts to rescue Medora from her husband s vengeance, he comes face to face with an unspeakable secret at the furthermost reaches of American soil a secret about the unkillable bonds of family, and the untamed animal in the soul of every human being."

I always try to guess what a book is going to be about before I actually get to the reading, and I was all kinds of wrong. I thought it was going to be like, a weird group of men go off in the woods to find justice for these kids but then they find out things about themselves and each other in this brutal wilderness and some people die, blah blah something something like that. So basically like The Grey without the airplane crash or Liam Neeson. (Funny story, suggested this movie to go see with a group of friends thinking that it would be a typical Liam Neeson kicking ass saving the day kind of movie, and then it turns out to be all cerebral and psychological and deep. Though there was ass kicking. But when it was over everyone looked at me like "what was that all about?" It was good, just wasn't what anyone was expecting.) Anyway, that's not what this book is like, not a wolf hunting/self exploration thing. No.

I can't really say much about the book because what makes it great is that there's all these crazy twists and turns that make it really fantastic. The first one takes a bit of time in coming and then they come in a little more rapid succession.

I don't want to give away too much of the book so I will give you some key thoughts and hopefully that and the fact that I give it 4 out of 5 stars will be enough for you to pick up this short, scary, intense book: murder most foul, lots of guns, ancient lady spewing nonsense, people with nothing to lose.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Did Not Finish Review (?) - "Bonita Avenue" by Peter Buwalda

I think that this is my first DNF post here on the ol' blog. Look at us, experiencing new things on the blog together.

So this book is originally Dutch, it's been translated into a whole bunch of languages and is a bestseller all over the world. I got a lovely hardcover from Blogging for Books and was ready to get into it.

The story is about a Dutch family of 4 (sometimes 5, depending on who you're counting) that has some complicated family relationships and some urge control issues. The narration jumps between almost all of the family members, plus one or two more. It goes from the late 90s up to the 2000s. There's a fireworks factory explosion that almost levels a neighborhood, an (early) internet discovery that no dad would want to make about his little girl, bastard children with a ferocious criminal record, and a dating couple who seem to hate each other but are still together.

Here's my problems with this book:

I generally don't have a problem with a bouncing around timelines or switchings between narrators. However, some of the narrators would talk in the first person, while others would not. It was never immediately clear who was talking, sometimes it would take me a few pages before I'd figure it out. It would switch in the middle of chapters so it's not like you could have a heading with the chapter number with the narrator's name.

I think there is a  translation issue. If you look at the goodreads reviews, almost all of the highest reviews are Dutch readers, while the English speakers who read it rated it consistently lower. I don't know if that means anything but just kind of a trend I saw.

I was about 300 pages into to this approximately 520 page book and realized that I was kind of dreading keeping on with it. I'm still a bit interested in just exactly how everything unravels but not enough to burn 3 hours of reading into it. There was one kind of gross incident with the Dad that I was like, okay, I'm a little grossed out and this was already barely keeping my interest so I think we're going to be done with this.

Of course, just because I don't like it doesn't mean that you won't like it! Check around, read other reviews, and if it still sounds good to you, do it! And if you get to the end message me and tell me the general idea of what happens after page 319 :)


* I recieved this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books. We kept it honest today, for realsies*

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review: "What If? Serious Scientific Answer to Absurd Hypothetical Questions" by Randall Munroe

I had never heard of Randall Munroe or his webcomic xkcd before I picked up this book. And honestly I don't remember how I picked up this book, but when I generally don't remember that means it was a goodreads recommendation.

The book is simple. People have asked this former NASA scientist insane questions and he tries his best to answer them in a logical, scientific way.No matter how ridiculous the question he has equations and graphs and what not to help come up with an answer.

The questions are wide ranging. Here are a couple of the topics that they cover:swimming in a spent nuclear fuel pool, jet packs made from machine guns, time travel forward in backward and more.

There was one question that there was no answer to, that kind of made me die inside. "Would it be possible to get your teeth to such a cold temperature that they would shatter upon drinking a hot cup of coffee?" Ahh! Heebee jeebees officially activated.

This is kind of a short review because it's pretty self explanatory. Silly questions, serious questions, funny stick figure comics. Feel smarter and laugh! I give it 3.5 stars out of 5!


Friday, January 16, 2015

GN review: "The Undertaking of Lily Chen" by Danica Novgorodoff

In my continued effort to read more graphic novels I bring you today's review. It's going to be a short one because it's not a 1000 pager by any means.

Wei is the second son in a Chinese family. Tragedy strikes his older brother and he is burdened with a strange task, finding him a corpse bride.

He only as a short time frame to get find one, so he immediately sets out towards the countryside. He has to tread carefully because there are people looking for him from his job, and because the corpse bride concept is an old one and is shunned in many places.

On his journey he finds Lily. Lily is beautiful but she's also impulsive, loud, not very careful and sometimes gets him in trouble.Sometimes meaning always. And though he's falling in love with her he knows he has to kill her.

I thought this was a fun read. Fast, interesting, and a bit of a love story! 3.5 out of 5 stars!

Also, do I love this cover? Yes, yes I do.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Few Books I'm Looking Forward to Reading This Year

Not necessarily books being released new this year (though some are) but books that are at the top of my TBR to take on this fresh new year! Anyone read any of the already released books?




(I have tickets to go to a book signing with him in March with my ma!)



(Between the time I actually wrote this post and now I did read this one!)



Monday, January 12, 2015

Book Review: "Four Seasons in Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World" by Anthony Doerr with bonus movie talk

We'll start with the movie talk.My husband and I went and saw The Imitation Game on Sunday (while everyone else was watching the Packer game, an infinently better use of time in my non-football caring opinion.) It's really a remarkable movie. And just heart curshing sad. There will be Oscar buzz. See it now.


After reading and thoroughly enjoying Anthony Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See" I decided to seek out more of his work. When I saw this book I said "That's a Bingo!" and immediately requested it from the library.

This is a fun little bit of nonfiction. Anthony was awarded a special award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, it was an apartment and a stipend to live in Rome for one year. He, his wife, and his infant twins pack up their lives and move to Rome for the year.

(It's funny because he works on reading and writing a book the whole time that he is in Rome. The book ends up being "All the Light We Cannot See." When he talks about writer's block or insomnia I want to be like "You can do it! Stick with it! It's going to turn out really great!")

His family really makes the effort to integrate into Roman society and learn Italian. Though at least once there was a mix up with the Italian word for "sauce" and "grapefruit". As in "I want grapefruit with mushrooms". (No you don't. You really don't). All of the locals that they come in contact with say how beautiful the kids are, and they even bond with the parent's of other twins in their neighborhood. They try to encourage them that someday they will sleep again!

They happen to be in Rome when Pope John Paul II dies. The descriptions of the crowds, the rituals, the funeral, and all of the media's swarming of the Vatican was really interesting. I remember it being on CNN 24/7 so it was interesting to see a "local" perspective.

I've never been to Rome, but when I go there will be one thing I will keep my eyes open for; 220 plaster flowers the size of patio tables on the underside of a Michelangelo carved  cornice at the Palazzo Farnese.

I love how Doerr writes. Here's one of my favorite sentences describing when he and his wife managed to get a few minutes in an empty gallery at the Sistine Chapel: "It's darker than I thought it would be, and rawer, and older. It smells like musty newspapers." Also this sentence when he talks about when he, his wife, and his twins all were sick with the flu: "It feels like we have been locked in a trunk this is slowly sinking towards the bottom of the sea." I know I've felt like that when I didn't feel good.

I loved this book for it's glimpse into everyday Roman life, and an author's writing process. I highly recommend it. I will seeking out other books by him now as well! I give it 4 out of 5 stars!


Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Review: "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men" by Mara Hvistendahl

In the year and a half (?) that I've been reading blog friend Shannon's River City Reading  I've noticed that she finds ( or knows people who find) the most interesting nonfiction reads. Of all of the recommendations I've taken from  her I think that this book was the best one that I've read. Which is not to say that this book didn't make me angry or sad or frustrated - because it did - but holy cow was it interesting and did I learn a lot.

There's a lot of talk about abortion in this book.I think that no matter no matter how you feel about abortion that some or all of these stories will sicken you. I know it did for me. I'm pro-life,but even if I wasn't I think my heart would ache for these lost lives and the squandered potential. I kept thinking "What if that little girl could have cured AIDS? Or developed a cancer vaccine? Or was a wonderful human being/daughter/sister/wife/friend that people loved to be around?" It just made me sick to my stomach. 

Though occasionally the scenarios and stories were hard to stomach I am so glad I read this book. I learned so much. And it answered the question that I always think of when I think of "boycentric" societies; "Who are these little boys grow up to marry and reproduce with if all there are are other little boys?!"

This book covers a huge array of topics in a really thorough but well paced way. There's no way to cover it all in a efficient manner so I'll just spotlight a couple and hope that it's enough to intrigue you!

* "Boys outnumber girls at birth, but men outnumber women in early deaths". Why? One reason, still the majority of soldiers are men. Also, motorcycles (ok, that's me editorializing a little but that has to be a reason.)

*When thinking of societies where baby boys are desired over baby girls the first countries that come to mind might be China and India. You're not wrong. What I thought was really surprising that the next 3 countries with very skewed sex ratios: Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. Many thoughts and pages go into figuring out what (if anything!) these places have in common. They also have abortion statistics from the United States that they compare with these countries and the differences are staggering.

*"Scholars have begun to calculate the impact of tens of millions of surplus men will have on everything from health care to crime. Historically, societies in which men substantially outnumber women are not nice places to live. Often they are unstable.Sometimes they are violent." No.Joke. Unfortunately we have plenty of examples.

*A doctor in Asia talks about why he performs sex-selective abortions: "You can be aborted as a conceptus, you can be killed at birth, or you can be sold into slavery and die in a slum someplace...It would be interesting to know how many females you're keeping out of hideous situations". Many girls who are born into families desperate for boys are born into bad, sometimes desperate situations. Some are sold into marriage by their families to foreign men who are already having trouble finding single women to marry due to the high favoritism towards boys. Some times families will try for girls, because the daughters who are married off (to sometimes wealthier men) will send back money to support their families back home.

I have so many more sticky notes in this book that I could talk to you about but I don't want to tell you everything. (Also, the sticky notes I was using are blue! Subliminal messages?!) This is an issue that could potentially affect millions of people and life as we know it. My husband and I aren't planning on having kids, but after reading this book I was like "No! We have to have a whole mess of little girls to even things out!" But then I remembered that I am 4th in a family of four girls so I feel like my family has done their part :) A high 4 out of 5 stars!

Have you ever read a book that really saddened or maddened you but you are still really happy you read it anyway?


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Book Review: "Brave Genius: A Scientist, A Philosopher, and Their Daring Adventures from the French Resistance to the Nobel Prize" by Sean B Carroll

Albert Camus and Jacques Monod were probably not two people who you would have randomly thrown together to be bestest of friends and yet these two men were bonded for life by extraordinary, sometimes terrible, events. The fact that they each lived through WWII to be friends beyond those dark days was an achievement on it's own! I'm going to break each of the men down separately and then we will get them together.

Albert Camus was born in (French) Algeria in 1913. He grew up incredibly poor. When he was younger he was an ardent Communist (this would change). He was married twice, and fathered twins with his second wife, but he juggled so many lovers and mistresses that I don't know how he kept them all straight.

Jacques Monod was born in Paris to a French father and an American mother (from Milwaukee, no less!). Incredibly bright from a young age he studied biology at Sorbonne before the war. He was married and had children. I'm not going to pretend to really comprehend what he studied but it was genetics and DNA related.

But that's almost all in the future. Our story begins as the Nazis stomp their way into France. Both men are in Paris, and witness the occupation. Both men want into the Resistance. They worked for underground newspapers, they helped coordinate parachute drops, they passed along information in many ways. They risked their lives everyday. They grew close and even after the war ended were like brothers. They once went out to dinner with 2 other men to discuss something, and the 2 other men both commented on the men's connection. That they could finish each other's sentences, and seemed to guess what the other one was thinking. 

Both men would win a Nobel Prize; Albert in 1957 and Jacques in 1965.

I wanted to adore this book but it didn't quite happen. There were things that I really liked about this book. There were little tidbits of great World War II information spread through the first part of the book. There's talk about all kinds of naval skirmishes and attacks up in the scandinavian country area that I had never heard about, for example. Or Monod's risking almost everything to help a scientist get out of occupied Hungary after the war ended. When it kind of lost me was when it would get really heavy into the science, especially when the book just focused on Monod a little later in life. It was a little much for this science illiterate. I give it a high 2 or low 3 stars? It should probably be higher but it was really just dragging for me by the end. If you'd ask me to rate it it in the middle I'd probably give it a 3!

Also, doesn't Camus kind of look like Topher Grace in this picture?

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review from Blogging for Books

Monday, January 5, 2015

What I Want for the Blog (and Myself) this Year

Brainstorming on things I want for me and the blog and my book reading for the year:

I want more variety in posts. I need to remind myself that there are tons of ideas out there for posts on book blogs and that it's okay to use them!

Maybe even throw in a not book related post, just for insanity and shock! They probably won't be cooking related though!

I want to really make All Lady July great this year. I am encouraged by the great reception it had for it's inaugural last year. I'd love for people to guest post about their favorite female authors, what diversity in books means to them, favorite strong female literary characters, whatever! I'd really like to have a post everyday and make All Lady July the best it can be. If you want in, give me a holler.

I want to learn how to arm knit. I think it looks really fun and I like how the end products look but I'm far less confident in my abilities to follow a youtube tutorial. We shall see!

I have so many half finished craft projects. I need to sit down and evaluate them all and see if some are worth finishing, pillaging for parts or just being done with. It kind of makes me feel like a failure to have so many things half done so I just kind of want to be rid of it.

Here's the tutorial I'm using from Simply Maggie if anyone else wants to learn!

So that's whats on my mind for the new year right now. and also about a thousand other things. What about you?

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review: "The Oblate's Confession" by William Peak (HFVB)

Before we start, let's turn to handy dandy Wikipedia to get the actual definition of Oblate, shall we?

"Oblates are individuals, either laypersons or clergy, normally living in general society, who, while not professed monks or nuns, have individually affiliated themselves with a monastic community of their choice. They make a formal, private promise (annually renewable or for life, depending on the monastery with which they are affiliated) to follow the Rule of the Order in their private life as closely as their individual circumstances and prior commitments permit. Such oblates do not constitute a separate religious order as such, but are considered an extended part of the monastic community."

Basically that's what we're working with here. Our narrator, Winawed, is "gifted" to a monastery at a place called Redstone by his father, in thanks for a favorable result in battle. He goes at a very young age and has almost no recollection of his life outside the monastery. 

There are a couple of interesting things about this monastery. The monks rarely talk, they communicate with somewhat elaborate hand signals. When they are talking, they are really chanting and are almost exclusively doing it at prayers. Another thing that I thought was interesting was that the monastery is very insulated. I guess I always supposed that almost all monasterys did work with the community they were in, outreach or charitable work or something. These monks seemed to go out of their way to really avoid the people in the area.

Anyway, so this is where our narrator spends his whole life. He is with the monastery through all kinds of ups and downs, including at least 2 bouts of plague, almost starving a few times and barely escaping a very serious explosion.

His life takes a bit of a turn when his father, who he doesn't know, comes to visit him at the monastery. He asks something of the young boy that causes him all kinds of inner turmoil and that he reflects on at length throughout his confession. He was really upset by it, so you kind of think he did something insanely bad, like setting an orphanage on fire. It's not that bad.I mean, it's not nice, but it's not orphanage arson bad.

My one criticism of this book is that it would have been nice to have a glossary of terms, or something of the like. There is a very helpful map, and a list of characters. However it would have been nice to have something that translated some of the other Latin words that were used around the monastery.

Set in 7th century England, The Oblate’s Confession tells the story of Winwaed, a boy who – in a practice common at the time – is donated by his father to a local monastery. In a countryside wracked by plague and war, the child comes to serve as a regular messenger between the monastery and a hermit living on a nearby mountain. Missing his father, he finds a surrogate in the hermit, an old man who teaches him woodcraft, the practice of contemplative prayer, and, ultimately, the true meaning of fatherhood. When the boy’s natural father visits the monastery and asks him to pray for the death of his enemy – an enemy who turns out to be the child’s monastic superior – the boy’s life is thrown into turmoil. It is the struggle Winawed undergoes to answer the questions – Who is my father? Whom am I to obey? – that animates, and finally necessitates, The Oblate’s Confession.
While entirely a work of fiction, the novel’s background is historically accurate: all the kings and queens named really lived, all the political divisions and rivalries actually existed, and each of the plagues that visit the author’s imagined monastery did in fact ravage that long-ago world. In the midst of a tale that touches the human in all of us, readers will find themselves treated to a history of the “Dark Ages” unlike anything available today outside of textbooks and original source material.

About the Author
William Peak spent ten years researching and writing The Oblate’s Confession, his debut novel. Based upon the work of one of the great (if less well known) figures of Western European history, the Venerable Bede, Peak’s book is meant to reawaken an interest in that lost and mysterious period of time sometimes called “The Dark Ages.” Peak received his baccalaureate degree from Washington & Lee University and his master’s from the creative writing program at Hollins University. He works for the Talbot County Free Library on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Thanks to the column he writes for The Star Democrat about life at the library (archived at, Peak is regularly greeted on the streets of Easton: “Hey, library guy!”

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The Oblate’s Confession Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1
Review at Broken Teepee
Tuesday, December 2
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, December 3
Review at Back Porchervations
Review at A Fantastical Librarian
Thursday, December 4
Spotlight at What Is That Book About
Friday, December 5
Interview at Back Porchervations
Monday, December 8
Review at A Book Geek
Tuesday, December 9
Review at The Writing Desk
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry
Thursday, December 11
Interview at Forever Ashley
Monday, December 15
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, December 16
Spotlight at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Thursday, December 18
Review at 100 Pages a Day…Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Guest Post at Books and Benches
Friday, December 19
Review at Book Nerd
Review at bookramblings
Monday, December 22
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Tuesday, December 23
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, December 24
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book
Monday, December 29
Review at The Never-Ending Book
Tuesday, December 30
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, January 2
Review at Library Educated
Monday, January 5
Review & Interview at Words and Peace
Tuesday, January 6
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews
Wednesday, January 7
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Thursday, January 8
Review at Impressions in Ink
Friday, January 9
Review at The True Book Addict
Review & Interview at Jorie Loves a Story