Thursday, 30 July 2015

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.


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Paula McLain has painted a vivid picture of this strong wild girl who grows up to be just a strong wild woman who defied the social norms for women at the time. She knew the writer Karen Blixen; both women loved Danys Finch Hatton. She was a great racehorse trainer and she loved to fly.

I enjoyed reading this book immensely. I love the movie Out of Africa and it was a great pleasure to read about Beryl Markham and get another insight into the lives of Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton and, of course, get an insight on Beryl herself. In many ways she just had a very tough life, abandon by her mother and later on her father and her two marriages that were portraited in the book were both disastrous. And, the love of her life was she sharing with another woman and their time together was cut short.

I had a hard time reading the ending because I knew how it would end for her and Denys. That's the negative thing about reading a book about real people. You know how it all will end. Also, it was a bit hard to read about her and Denys because in my mind he and Karen have always been a couple since the first time I saw Out of Africa. I loved Beryl and Denys together, but at the same time, I felt that they were betraying Karen. It's tough sometimes to read books.

I received this copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review! Thank you!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Mrs. Roosevelt's Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mrs. Roosevelt’s Confidante by Susan Elia MacNeal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this latest riveting mystery from New York Times bestselling author Susan Elia MacNeal, England’s most daring spy, Maggie Hope, travels across the pond to America, where a looming scandal poses a grave threat to the White House and the Allied cause.
December 1941. Soon after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Winston Churchill arrives in Washington, D.C., along with special agent Maggie Hope. Posing as his typist, she is accompanying the prime minister as he meets with President Roosevelt to negotiate the United States’ entry into World War II. When one of the First Lady’s aides is mysteriously murdered, Maggie is quickly drawn into Mrs. Roosevelt’s inner circle—as ER herself is implicated in the crime. Maggie knows she must keep the investigation quiet, so she employs her unparalleled skills at code breaking and espionage to figure out who would target Mrs. Roosevelt, and why. What Maggie uncovers is a shocking conspiracy that could jeopardize American support for the war and leave the fate of the world hanging dangerously in the balance.

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I read the first book in this series not so long ago and it was a good start of the series. I came to like Maggie Hope and her struggle to find her place as an American woman in Britain during the war. Well she was born in Britain, but she grew up in America so her roots may be British, but in Britain she is American. And now she is back home and she is thrilled to be back even though it's a devastating action that has brought them to America. The attack on Pearl Harbor has just occurred and now it seems that America will finally also join the war. Also, a young black man is accused of killing a white man and is sentenced to death and Eleanor Roosevelt is trying to persuade her husband to interfere with it, to persuade the governor to stop it. I found this part of the story both sad and horrifying as always when a man is not tried fairly by a jury. But this is the 40s America.

Reading this book made me think of something I read or heard somewhere that on the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked Winston Churchill wrote in his diary “we have won”! Because now he knew that America would join the war. Anyway, I was thrilled to be approved for this book since I a) like this series and I'm planning on reading the two between this one and the first and b) I like FDR very much.

Susan Elia MacNeal has done a tremendous good work in writing a novel about the meeting between Roosevelt and Churchill. Also, I came to like Eleanor Roosevelt quite much in this book. There was a moment in the book, a very intense moment when I really was drawn into the story and I wasn't quite sure, but hopeful that it would end well and that was when Maggie traveled to the prison to the execution. This really made me think of “The Green Mile”. The electric chair is truly an awful invention. How it all ended? Well, you have to read it yourself!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!