Wednesday, April 7, 2021

#692 : Victorine by Drema Drudge - Review & Giveaway

 



Historical literary fiction is one of my favorite genres. A well written literary fiction can make a reader forget their lives and push them to a utopian world that the book is set into. This book turned out to be one of the best reads of recent times.

Victorine is the story of Victorine Meurent, the muse of famous painter Manet and a skilled painter herself. The story follows the journey of Victorine as she poses for various painters, though predominantly for Manet and eventually ends up becoming a respected painter eventually. She is porta rayed as a headstrong woman who owns up every decisions that she takes. 

While first person narrations are great for autobiographies, a historical/literary fiction narrated seemed odd initially. As I warmed up to Victorine, and the trails of her life, I couldn't just get enough of her. The intimacy that the first person narrative offers is just unparalleled. The rich prose just sweeps all the tiny flaws of the plot and characterizations beneath the carpet of a good narration. My only teeny tiny complaint if the extra flab mid way through the book where the author describes all the paintings after Victorine sits poses for. 

As she eventually gets bored of posing and satiating the egos of male painters, she ends up finding her way to art school and blossoms into a painter of her own right. This head strong transformation was quite inspiring to read. 

To sum it up, if you are looking for a literary fiction set in Europe, this book is the perfect fit. 



 

Drēma Drudge

on Tour March 17-April 13 with Victorine  

Victorine

(literary/historical fiction) Release date: March 17, 2020 at Fleur-de-Lis Press 362 pages Goodreads 📚📚📚

Buy It Here

Amazon

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SYNOPSIS

Victorine, Drema Drudge’s debut novel, features Victorine Meurent, a forgotten, accomplished painter who posed nude for Edouard Manet’s most famous, controversial paintings such as Olympia and The Picnic in Paris, paintings heralded as the beginning of modern art. History has forgotten (until now) her paintings, despite the fact that she showed her work at the prestigious Paris Salon multiple times, even one year when her mentor, Manet’s, work was refused. Her persistent desire in the novel is not to be a model anymore but to be a painter herself, despite being taken advantage of by those in the art world, something which causes her to turn, for a time, to every vice in the Paris underworld, leading her even into the catacombs. In order to live authentically, she eventually finds the strength to flout the expectations of her parents, bourgeois society, and the dominant male artists (whom she knows personally) while never losing her capacity for affection, kindness, and loyalty. Possessing both the incisive mind of a critic and the intuitive and unconventional impulses of an artist, Victorine and her survival instincts are tested in 1870, when the Prussian army lays siege to Paris and rat becomes a culinary delicacy, and further tested when she inches towards art school while financial setbacks push her away from it. The same can be said when it comes to her and love, which becomes substituted, eventually, by art.
BOOK TRAILER

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Victorine_Drema DrudgeDrēma Drudge suffers from Stendhal’s Syndrome, the condition in which one becomes overwhelmed in the presence of great art. She attended Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program where she learned to transform that intensity into fiction. Drēma has been writing in one capacity or another since she was nine, starting with terrible poems and graduating to melodramatic stories in junior high that her classmates passed around literature class. She and her husband, musician and writer Barry Drudge, live in Indiana where they record their biweekly podcast, Writing All the Things, when not traveling. Her first novel, Victorine, was literally written in six countries while she and her husband wandered the globe. The pair has two grown children. In addition to writing fiction, Drēma has served as a writing coach, freelance writer, and educator. For more about her writing, art, and travels, please visit her website, and sign up for her newsletter to receive a free historical fiction story. She’s always happy to connect with readers in her Facebook group, The Painted Word Salon, or on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blog participating in this tour. Visit/Follow the participating blogs on Facebook/Twitter, as listed in the entry form below, and win more entry points!

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

Tweeting about the giveaway everyday of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time! [just follow the directions on the entry-form] Global giveaway open to all 5 winners will receive an ecopy of this book

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CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ MORE REVIEWS NAD AN EXCERPT

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Monday, March 15, 2021

#691: In Conversation with - Hannah Fielding

Book trailer - You can read the review here

1. Your books always have strong female lead. What or who is your inspiration to write such strong characters?

All of the women I have known and admired, most especially my daughter, my mother and my grandmother. The latter, Esther Fanous, was a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt; you can read more about her at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ester_Fanous

2. Your latest book, The Song of Nile, is set in Egypt – tell us more about your life in Egypt. 

My home town is the ancient and historic city of Alexandria, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great. Stretching some 40 kilometres along the north coast of Egypt, it is known as the Bride of the Mediterranean, and certainly when I was growing there, in the 1950s and 1960s, the city was a beacon of Mediterranean culture.

I have such wonderful memories of growing up in Alexandria. It was a city known for its Europeanised freedom, an open place full of hope and anticipation. Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in friendship and peace. Most shops and factories were family owned by not only Egyptians but Greeks, Jews, Armenians, Syrians and Italians. Grand names come to mind, like Shamla and Cicurel, Gategno,  Orosdi-Back, Benzion, Sidnawy and Hannaux department stores, where you could find all the latest fashions from Paris and the most beautiful silk fabrics; Delices, Athineos, Pastroudis, Bodreaux, Flukiger, patisseries and tea shops that served the most mouth-watering cakes and ice creams; and Tomvaco, which sold delicious chocolates and candied fruits. (I especially remember its stuffed chocolate dates.)

On the beaches, like San Stefano, Miami and Montazah, and in the cafes and restaurants, the radio blasted out a medley of Italian, French, English and Greek songs to its international clientele. When I listen to songs from this era now, I am transported back in time, to a life that seemed light-hearted and full of mirth.

3. Tell us about the research that you normally do before you embark on writing a book. 

If I have not already travelled to a location, then where possible I do so, drinking in the feel of the place. Then, at home, I research everything from architecture to history and mythology. When I’m researching a novel and writing it, I try to immerse myself in the culture of the place; I listen to traditional music, for example, and I try out recipes in the kitchen. For Song of the Nile, this was easy, of course, for Egypt is my homeland.

4. Do you have a plan for your next book? Do tell us more about your writing plans. 

I am not quite ready to share details of my next novel – but I can tell you that it is set in Ireland, where I am living now. Such beautiful countryside!



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#690 : Song of the Nile by Hannah Fielding - Review

 


Blurb : 

Luxor, 1946. When young nurse Aida El Masri returns from war-torn London to her family’s estate in Egypt, she steels herself to face the challenges ahead. Eight years have passed since her father, Ayoub, was framed for a crime he did not commit and died as a tragic result. Yet Aida has not forgotten, and now she wants revenge against the man she believes betrayed her father – his best friend, Kamel Pharaony. 

Then Aida is reunited with Kamel’s son, the captivating surgeon Phares, who offers her marriage. In spite of herself, the secret passion Aida harboured for him as a young girl reignites. Still, how can she marry the son of the man who destroyed her father and brought shame on her family? Will coming home bring her love, or only danger and heartache?

A compelling story of passion and intrigue – a novel that lays open the beating heart of Egypt.

Review : 

Romance has always been a tricky genre for me - I prefer to read realistic, passionate and sensual romance. While there is a very thin line between a sensual and an erotic romance, majority of writers tend to jump that fence and end up writing truly erotic stuff while marketing them as sensual piece of fiction. When I first read this author's works a few years ago, I found the perfect mix of what I wanted from a romance fiction. This book is no different in terms of being the perfect romance read. 

The book turned out to be an absolutely delightful read.  The mysterious and charming desert of Egypt, the lush fields of Luxor and the fashionable streets of Cairo came alive through the writers artfully crafted narrative. Depicting the culture and blending it with modern ideas to deliver perfect characterization is a tricky task - this writer does that with a particular ease that one simply would not experience any flaws. Consider this, in post war period, the Middle Eastern culture was simply more restrictive when it came to things that women were allowed to do. However, the protagonist of this story - Aida, set about to do as she pleases as she managed her father's estate until she was convinced that she would not loose her identity and independence upon marriage. This might not really have been possible in that age, but then, there were always exceptions where women took up things in their hands to enjoy their freedom. 

The luxury that the upper echelons of the Egyptian society experienced seemed mind blowing for me. It is one thing to write an artful narrative of the setting, it an entirely different thing to blend in the minor details which takes the experience of reading a whole different level - this writer seems to be a master at this. 

No qualms at all. Just none.  Turned out to be one super perfect romance. Browine points to amazing cover art. 

Overall, this is a book I would highly recommend. Please do buy it here - Buy Link

Also, please do read the interview!

Book Trailer : 



About the Author 



Hannah Fielding was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt, the granddaughter of Esther Fanous, a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s. Upon graduating with a BA in French literature from Alexandria University, she travelled extensively throughout Europe and lived in Switzerland, France and England. After marrying her English husband, she settled in Kent and subsequently had little time for writing while bringing up two children, looking after dogs and horses, and running her own business renovating rundown cottages. 

Hannah now divides her time between her homes in Ireland and the South of France. She has written eight novels to date and these have won various awards, including: Best Romance for Aphrodite’s Tears at the International Book Awards, National Indie Excellence Awards, American Fiction Awards, NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Awards and New York City Big Book Awards; Best Romance for Indiscretion at the USA Best Book Awards; Gold Medal for Romance for The Echoes of Love at the Independent Publisher Book Awards; and Gold and Silver Medals for Indiscretion and Masquerade at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. 

Website: https://hannahfielding.net/ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHannahFielding/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannahfieldingauthor/ 






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Monday, February 1, 2021

#689 : Bayan by Pramudith D. Rupasinghe


There are some book that come along quietly and leave a lasting impact that you probably wouldn't realize. This was one such book. Having lived with 3 sets of grandparents at one point of time, I love listening to (and reading to ) their experiences with various difficulties that life bestowed them with. Stories set in the soviet union have that mystic touch - The culture, the history, the people - all of it seems so tragically enchanting.

The story, as narrated by the protagonist Ivan, follows is life in Ukraine. The book is set in a tumults time of WWII which makes it a very interesting read.

It is apparent that the author is blessed with stupendous visualization skills. The description of a snow covered Ukraine to the description of a rumbling river is were just too good. Capitalism and Marxist philosophies are not meant to be dealt with kid gloves - a lot of writers who use the WWII setting tend to do it like cooking an instant noodle - superficial flavor and flashy. This writer ensured to give them their due respect by dealing them with eloquent prose.

My only peeve point would be the lack of translation of certain non-English language works.

This is one book that ought to be savored page by page and not to be devoured during commute time.

About the Author 




 Pramudith Rupasinghe is one of the emerging authors from Sri Lanka who has been privy to the world and what goes on in it. Born in Gampaha, Sri Lanka in 1979, he soon discovered his vocation for writing though he still works in the humanitarian sector. As a humanitarian diplomat, he has served in several countries around the world. While working as a humanitarian, Pramudith has had the opportunity to explore the unexplored side of human life, connect with cultures that have not been in touch with the external world, and experience the emotions of people who have been through trials. Trials which are more distressing than words could ever describe. It is through his experiences that he endeavours to relate their meaningful stories giving those who have been forgotten, sometimes even ignored, an opportunity to be heard.

Pramudith is internationally known for his fiction ‘Behind the Eclipse’ and ‘Bayan’, His books have been translated into several languages and launched internationally.

You can buy the book : Amazon (or read it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited)
 

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Monday, August 17, 2020

#688 : Aspen Leaves by Dhivya Balaji : Review

 


Aspen leaves is an anthology of stories on three different genres. Each story belongs to a particular genre with each story assigned a color reflecting the tone and mood of the story. 

Having been privy to the Author's style of writing from a very young age, it didn't surprise me that the 'writing' and 'language' part of the book was nothing short of perfect. The actual plotting of the stories is a different ball game. Of the 10 stories, I felt 3 were a little predictable - Predator, The Lake, and Eternal. However, they were still thoroughly enjoyable to read. 

As an avid reader, an ideal mix of a great book would be 60% good writing and 40% good plotting - This is just a personal preference and by no means a "standard of judge" a book. Undoubtedly, the writing  scored full 60% given I love the writer's formal style of writing without the usual usage of local jargon. While local language words are needed to make the story relatable to the setting, I cannot understand the purpose of using them on every other line given the primary language of writing being English. 

While almost everything is perfect - a couple of peeve points - The title doesn't resonate the story or the concept of colors though the writer has justified the title in her note. The cover could have been a little more stereotypical instead of looking like a collage of images, though it does relate well with the story. 

My  favorite story from the anthology would be "The Note" - the story has a close resemblance to life of the Ex-CM of TN, Late Ms.Jayalalitha - the writer cannot have penned a better story as a tribute of sorts (I know for a fact that she is inspired by Ms.Jayalalitha)

The book is worth spending time on if you prefer to read byte sized stories written in perfect English. 

Do buy your copy on Amazon (or it's on KU) 

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

#687 : Take a Chance on Me (Sehgal Family & Friends Book 1) By Sapna Bhog : Review




Spending time with cousins while pigging on food and being doted by grandparents are experiences unique to Indian kids who grew up before the era of digitization set in leading to nuclear families. That environment of being around people effortlessly inculcates good traits in humans which are hard to be taught other wise. The fabric of many works of fiction set in Indian and written by Indians are based on these experiences. This book turned out to be one such classic example.

In the story, the protagonist, Kabier Sehgal takes over his grandfather's business. He suspects a leak of information as he begins losing deals which would ideally  have materialized. He is weary and suspects Keya Kaira who holds a key position in the company. Typical romantic drama unfolds.

The book is a simple and perfect romance. The characterization is very rich and well thought out. However, the plot as it is doesn't deliver the surprise it is meant since the story turned almost predictable midway. I wish the writer put a wee bit more effort to make it a little more unpredictable. The writing is fluid and makes you stay with the book.

A perfect romance/mystery to curl up to and devour. I would certainly pick up rest of the series.

Do buy this book on Amazon
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