Book Review | Decanting a Murder by Nadine Nettmann

Decanting a MurderDecanting a Murder (Sommelier Mystery #1) | by Nadine Nettmann | Publisher: Midnight Ink, 2016 | 230 pages | ISBN  9780738756400

Synopsis:
Katie Stillwell focuses on two things in her life: work and practicing for her Sommelier Certification with her blind tasting group. The exam was supposed to be the hardest part of her week, but that was before a body was found at an exclusive Napa Valley winery party.
When all the evidence points to Katie’s best friend, the outspoken and independent Tessa, Katie drops everything to clear Tessa’s name. Using her deductive wine skills, she tries to track down the real killer. But when repeated attempts are made on her life, Katie discovers that everyone’s secrets must be uncorked—including her own.

Why I Picked This Up

I actually encountered the second book in this series “Uncorking A Lie while at work (basically the story of every book I come across) and once I realized it was part of a series I was slightly hellbent on finding the first one. Needless to say, this was indeed a cover/title grab.

A Bit of a Preface

I shall preface this review by stating that I am not a huge mystery fan so my standards for most mystery books, especially murder mysteries, are rather low. I usually end up guessing “who done it” (correctly more often than not) within the first chunk and after that the whole plot-line just feels pointless and rather meh to me. However, I do find myself enjoying how most mystery authors write since I am a sucker for a well described setting. Now, on to the review!

Review

★★★★☆
★Writing Style |✮Plot | ✮Character Development | ★Setting |★Uniqueness
(in case you’re wondering: ✮ = 1/2 star)

The Good
Even though I did manage to guess who the guilty party was in this murder mystery very early on I didn’t instantly lose interest. Nettmann has a very, very, lovely writing style and I deeply enjoyed her description of settings, aromas, and emotions. I chuckled reading about the Katie’s parking struggle in the Sunset district of San Francisco and could heavily relate to her drive to figure out who was setting up her best friend to take the fall for a murder she potentially did not commit. Even more, I also felt Katie’s pain at failing her Sommelier Certification exam (seriously, this happens in the first few pages so I don’t count it as a spoiler) and how that throws her into a spiral of self-doubt. I’m also incredibly guilty of falling into spirals of self-doubt when I fail at something I’m incredibly passionate about.

I had fun learning about the wine industry and the winemaking process through Katie’s experiences and interactions with the other characters. It was definitely a very unique approach to a subject that I never really gave much thought to beyond tourism (growing up in SF whenever someone mentions wine you instantly think: Napa/wine train/wine tasting/I really should plan a day trip up there). I also found it very unique that each chapter starts off with a wine-pairing. I feel as if the older I get the more I should start investing in fancy, or at least semi-fancy, wine and I did jot down a few of the ones I’d like to try out.

The Meh
Now, this potentially has to do with me guessing who the guilty party was early on in the novel, but I felt as if the plot was just a little bit too cookie-cutter for me. I felt as if the usual “this will throw the reader off the trail” pieces were too apparent and as a result, I started to feel my attention wavering. There were certain events that just felt a little bit out of place or slightly unbelievable – the majority of which involve a certain detective and potential love interest. There was also the big reveal of Katie’s ~huge secret~ which fell incredibly flat and honestly, felt incredibly pointless in comparison with the rest of the story.

I also wish Nettmann had spent a tad bit more time developing some of the supporting characters. I absolutely loved the amount of time Nettmann spent on Katie and Tessa’s friendship and on each of them as individuals. It’s apparent that Tessa is a very pivotal figure in Katie’s life. However, there are other pivotal figures in Katie’s life that I wish had received some more page time; such as the members of her blind tasting group. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that the reason as to why they didn’t make as many appearances, except for toward the very end, is because they are more prominently featured in the next book in this series. There’s also the mention of a past relationship between Katie and one of her group members that I really wish had either been introduced sooner or not at all. The whole moment felt like it was going to go somewhere and then *bam* book ends. Ugh.

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

Despite the ~meh~ stuff of this book I did find it to be a very cozy/quaint mystery that showcases some rather interesting aspects of the wine industry.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who;

  • are fans of cozy mysteries
  • like fiction books that center around wine
    &
  • are looking to get into lightweight mystery/thriller novels

Let me know if you’ve read this book before and what your thoughts on it where!

BORROW || PURCHASE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December TBR

Eventually I’ll get around to doing an monthly TBR wrap-up.

E v e n t u a l l y . . .

Anywho – these are the books that I intend on reading this fine freezing cold month of December!

Graphic Novels

Old Man Logan Vol. 0

Enter the Wastelands: a Battleworld realm where heroes have been wiped out and villains rule with an iron fist. In the midst of this dystopian chaos, one man may make a difference. A reluctant warrior who was once the greatest mutant of all. A man known as Old Man Logan. Never before has the former Wolverine been needed as much as he is now, but even the best there was at what he did may be outmatched by the evil lurking in nearby realms! Now, Logan must battle the horrors of mutantkind unleashed, the sins of genocidal machines and the rampaging hordes of the undead. And as Logan traverses Battleworld and learns its secrets, he must face the patchwork planet’s thundering police force! He may be old, but Logan’s job is far from finished.

 

Another one of those graphic novels that a patron recommended to me. Wolverine/Logan is one of those characters who I grew to love through the X-Men movies. I was never a big fan of him in the cartoons, but there’s just something about the way in which Hugh Jackman brought him to life that worked for me. I’m hoping that the comic book version of Wolverine will be more live-actionish than cartoonish – if that makes any sense.

Borrow || Purchase*

FICTION

Ajax Penumbra 1969

San Francisco, 1969.
The summer of drugs, music, and a new age dawning. A young, earnest Ajax Penumbra has been given his first assignment as a Junior Acquisitions Officer – to find the single surviving copy of the Techne Tycheon, a mysterious volume that has brought and lost a great fortune to anyone who has owned it. After a few weeks of rigorous hunting, Penumbra feels no closer to his goal than when he started. But late one night, after another day of dispiriting dead ends, he stumbles upon a 24-hour bookstore and the possibilities before him expand exponentially. With the help of his friend’s homemade computer, an ancient map, and the vast shelves of the 24-hour bookstore, Ajax Penumbra might just find what he’s seeking…

 

loved Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore so you best believe I was super hyped when I saw this land on my shelving cart at work. Needless to say, it was an instant checkout moment. I can’t wait to read about the bookstore was like pre-Penumbra.

Borrow || Purchase

 

How to Find Love in a Bookshop

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers–a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father’s death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia’s loyal customers have become like family, and she can’t imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.
There’s Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there’s a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage–she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.
Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future–and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.

Hmm, are we potentially on a bookstore themed reading binge? Anywho, it’s always been a slightly unrealistic romance fantasy of mine to find love in a bookstore (or library) and this book just sounded like it presented a world in which I would very much like to live in.

Borrow || Purchase

NON-FICTION

The Shirley Letters

The Shirley Letters, written from the mining camps in 1851 and 1852, are something valuable and rare — a portrait by a woman of an era dominated by men. They offer a vivid picture of gold rush life, from accounts of murders, fearful accidents, bloody deaths, a mob, whippings, a hanging, an attempt at suicide, and a fatal duel to bars lined with that eternal crimson calico which flushes the whole social life of the Golden State, and the rare and welcome luxury of oyster feasts. With the wild grandeur and awful magnificence of the Sierra as background, this classic account presents a picture of the gold rush that is at times humorous, at times empathetic, and always trustworthy.

 

This is SFPL’s On The Same Page selection for November/December and I’m trying to read as many of the OTSP selections as possible. It also helps that I’ve developed a slight obsession with Gold Rush-era Bay Area history. It sounds like a really awesome reading & I’m looking forward to delving into it!

Borrow || Purchase

 

Red: The History of a Color

The color red has represented many things, from the life force and the divine to love, lust, and anger. Up through the Middle Ages, red held a place of privilege in the Western world. For many cultures, red was not just one color of many but rather the only color worthy enough to be used for social purposes. In some languages, the word for red was the same as the word for color. The first color developed for painting and dying, red became associated in antiquity with war, wealth, and power. In the medieval period, red held both religious significance, as the color of the blood of Christ and the fires of Hell, and secular meaning, as a symbol of love, glory, and beauty. Yet during the Protestant Reformation, red began to decline in status. Viewed as indecent and immoral and linked to luxury and the excesses of the Catholic Church, red fell out of favor. After the French Revolution, red gained new respect as the color of progressive movements and radical left-wing politics.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Michel Pastoureau, the acclaimed author of Blue, Black, and Green, now masterfully navigates centuries of symbolism and complex meanings to present the fascinating and sometimes controversial history of the color red. Pastoureau illuminates red’s evolution through a diverse selection of captivating images, including the cave paintings of Lascaux, the works of Renaissance masters, and the modern paintings and stained glass of Mark Rothko and Josef Albers.

This book literally fell on my foot at work. I was minding my own business, shelving reserves and this book just took a nose-dive off the shelf right onto my foot. Of course, I had to know what this monster of a book was and when I read the first half of the synopsis I knew that I had to request it for myself. Plus, it just seems fitting to read a book about the color red during December.

Borrow || Purchase

& that’s all folks

That brings to a close my December TBR. It seems like a lot, but honestly, it’s not that bad. Classes are over December 11th which means I’ll have a ton of time to conquer my TBR and to work on some more bookish content for you guys! Let me know what you plan on reading this month or if you’ve read any of the above mentioned books!

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book,
Rae

 


*I receive a 5% commission from all books purchased through my Book Depository affiliate link.

Book Review || Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute

Why I Picked This Book Up:

Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute

I’ve always been interested in how prostitution has evolved and developed over time and how prostitutes view themselves and are viewed by others. I’ve also always been interested in San Francisco / Bay Area history during the Gold Rush and up until the end of World War II. Essentially, this book sounded like (and was!) an amazing combination of both of those interests which is exactly why I checked it out.

SYNOPSIS

In 1913 the San Francisco Bulletin published a serialized, ghostwritten memoir of a prostitute who went by the moniker Alice Smith. “A Voice from the Underworld” detailed Alice’s humble Midwestern upbringing and her struggle to find aboveboard work, and candidly related the harrowing events she endured after entering “the life.” While prostitute narratives had been published before, never had they been as frank in their discussion of the underworld, including topics such as abortion, police corruption, and the unwritten laws of the brothel. Throughout the series, Alice strongly criticized the society that failed her and so many other women, but, just as acutely, she longed to be welcomed back from the margins. The response to Alice’s story was unprecedented: four thousand letters poured into the Bulletin, many of which were written by other prostitutes ready to share their own stories; and it inspired what may have been the first sex worker rights protest in modern history.

For the first time in print since 1913, Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute presents the memoirs of Alice Smith and a selection of letters responding to her story. An introduction contextualizes “A Voice from the Underworld” amid Progressive Era sensationalistic journalism and shifting ideas of gender roles, and reveals themes in Alice’s story that extend to issues facing sex workers today.

REVIEW

★★Research | ★★Writing Style |★Format
(in case you’re wondering: ✮ = 1/2 star)

THE FANTASTIC

Lemme just start by saying that this book was absolutely amazing. I honestly do not have a single complaint at all!

The research was nicely done. Anderson and Angus definitely did some diving into the history of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast district, the San Francisco Bulletin, and the role that editor Fremont Older played in the exposure of criminal activity, political corruption, and prostitution in post-Gold Rush era San Francisco. I enjoyed that the editors also briefly discussed how and where they found their sources. There was a lot of utilization of San Francisco Public Library’s microfilm collection along with the History Center and it was nice reading about how they pieced everything together. An even bigger bonus was the wonderfully formatted bibliography – I’m a sucker for a nicely formatted bibliography.

Rating the writing style of this book was slightly tricky for me. I didn’t know if I should rate Anderson and Angus’ writing separately from Alice’s or if I should rate them together. In the long run, I decided that I should just rate them together. The introduction is of course written by the editors and they did a fantastic job. They introduced new ideas and the history of the era with fluidity and everything was explained clearly and concisely. The rest of the book was written by Alice Smith, or at least Alice Smith telling her story to an unknown ghostwriter. I will say that for or a serialized memoir published in 1913, Alice’s life story is told with amazing emotional depth. I don’t know how much was the work of the editors, but her memoir reads as if it could have been written in recent years. It’s absolutely amazing and the themes Alice discusses are still relevant to this day.

And lastly, the formatting of this book was very well done. I tip my imaginary hat off to Anderson and Angus for the way in which they chose to present this book. The introduction provides context for Alice’s memoir which is broken up into four parts and between each part there are a few of the letters written to the editor. It all just flowed very nicely and created a very smooth reading experience.

Final Thoughts & Recommendations

Obviously, I really enjoyed reading this book. I have an incredibly soft spot in my heart for sex-workers and for the people who choose to pursue that line of work. It’s something that I’ve had experience with and, for me, there’s a very therapeutic quality to reading about how other women maintained or coped with the lifestyle.

I would recommend this book to people are who are;

  • interested in San Francisco history; specifically the Barbary Coast district
  • fans of memoirs
    &
  • interested in the lives of sex workers

It really is a fantastic read!

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book,
Rae

Borrow || Purchase*

*I receive a 5% commission from all books purchased through my Book Depository affiliate link.

 

 

 

Book Review | Talon of God by Wesley Snipes

Reason Why I Picked This Book Up:

I honestly walked by this book maybe two or three times at work before my curiosity finally won out. At first I was like “Nah, can’t be that Wesley Snipes.” and then I was like “YOOOOOO, Wesley Snipes wrote a book y’all!” After reading the synopsis I thought that it sounded interesting enough to warrant a read.

SYNOPSIS

Synopsis (from inner flap):
Imagine that everyone you have ever known or loved was forced against their will into a state of demonic possession and spiritual slavery. Imagine an unholy cabal of the world’s richest and most powerful men directing this sinister plan in order to cement their unbridled control of the planet.
Imagine two heroes emerging from that darkness to do battle with the forces of evil.
Set in the mean streets of Chicago, Talon of God is the action-packed adventure centered around the Lauryn Jefferson, a beautiful young doctor who is dragged into a seemingly impossible battle against the invisible forces of Satan’s army and their human agents that are bent on enslaving humanity in a mission to establish the kingdom of hell on Earth.
But Lauryn is a skeptic, and it’s only as she sees a diabolical drug sweep her city and begins to train in the ways of a spirit warrior by the legendary man of God, Talon Hunter, that she discovers her true nature and inner strength. Facing dangerous trials and tests, it’s a true baptism by fire. And if they fail, millions could die. And rivers of blood would flow throughout the land.
Imagine such horror. Such pain. And imagine what it would take to fight against it. For only the strongest and most faithful will survive…
Get ready. Armageddon approaches quickly.

REVIEW

★★★☆☆
✮Writing Style |✮Plot | ☆Character Development | ★Setting |★Uniqueness
(in case you’re wondering: ✮ = 1/2 star)

THE GOOD

First off, I really enjoyed that this book was set in inner city Chicago. It felt like an excellent urban setting for Armageddon. I couldn’t imagine any other city (well, maybe New York but it would have felt very cliche) as the setting for this novel.  I also appreciated that Snipes and Norman drew attention to the way in which drug addicts can potentially be viewed by police officers, medics, and society in general. I thought it was very unique that the authors chose to use drug addiction, along with addiction in general, as a catalyst for demonic possession.  It was a very interesting element of the story and it worked excellently with the theme and setting.

As a slight warning for my non-religious/non Christian readers; Yes, this book does lean heavily on Christianity. However, there is no call for the reader to become a Christian and there is no belittling of other religions. I will say there is a lot of talk of God, quoting of biblical verses, and the typical “Christ saves” spiel but for the most part, I found the religious tones to be rather well done and not too preachy.

THE SHOULDER SHRUG
For the things that were kinda ~meh~.

The writing style was a bit hit or miss. You can tell that certain parts were written by either Snipes or Norman and as a result the story tended to have some hitches and hangups. There were also moments where the dialogue felt incredibly stilted or unrealistic, which really didn’t help with the overall flow of the novel. However, the way in which the character’s emotions and the settings were described was pretty well done; enough to earn half a star in terms of writing style. In terms of the plot, I really enjoyed the pacing for the first 3/4 of this novel. I enjoyed how different characters were introduced and how their introductions served to move the plot line forward. Yet, by the time I hit the last fourth I was struggling to not skim read the rest. The last chunk could have been tied up a lot quicker, especially in regards to how the book ended; there was absolutely no need to drag out the last chunk.  Honestly, the last chunk could have been condensed into 10, maybe 15, pages max and a few characters really didn’t need the amount of page time they received.

THE FACE PALM
For the thing/s that kinda sucked.

There is almost zero character development in this novel. I would describe it as if Snipes and Norman wrote one version of the character, sat down and wrote an ~updated~ version and then just decided to yell out “through the power of Christ these characters have been changed!” and bam – updated version enters the story. Not denying that the power of Christ can indeed change a person, but dang, I need something about how the character feels about their changes and what their thought process was; not just a sudden “This is me now” type of development.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

I don’t tend to read a lot of Urban Fantasy, but this was definitely a pretty cool approach to the genre. Now, before you go and assume that it’s Urban Fantasy because it’s written by two black men let me just tell you that Urban Fantasy refers to fantasy novels set in an urban setting – i.e. a city and not an imaginary place. I had to check a patron on that when they complained that calling it “urban fantasy” was racist. I would also argue that this book could also be considered Christian Fiction/Fantasy because the religious tone of the novel is that strong.

NOW, in terms of who I would recommend this book to;

  • People transiting from YA -> Adult fantasy/fiction
  • People who read Urban Fiction and want to try a different genre
  • Readers of Christian Fiction who want to read something grittier
    &
  • Fans of Wesley Snipes – because this is a very Wesley Snipes type of story.

Let me know if you’ve read this book before and what your thoughts were! Also let me know if you think this a book that you might read at some point in time!

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book!
Rae

BORROW || PURCHASE

 

 

Realization

I am like Henry VIII when it comes to how I handle love and relationships – minus the beheading.

IMG_8421

Last night, after fucking up what could have potentially been The Best Relationship because of my inability to communicate coupled with my ability to lash out with precise cruelty, I tried to continue to fight of the depressive funk I’ve been falling into for the past few weeks by watching Showtime’s “The Tudors”.  Which, I will admit was probably not the best decision that I’ve ever made since I’m officially convinced that I’m a horrible, horrible, horrible romantic partner and friend. It’s a fact of my life at this point that I am just a mean + horrible person who occasionally does nice things.

-Rae

 

 

NonFiction November + General TBR

Huzzah! It’s Nonfiction November which is motivation for me to get around to reading the massive pile of nonfiction books that I tend to accumulate. Nonfiction November is hosted by Olive and Gemma and the whole point is just to encourage people to read more nonfiction than they usually do. The four themes for this year’s challenge are:

1. Home
2. Substance
3. Love
4. Scholarship

NONFICTION

Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute

Synopsis:
In 1913 the San Francisco Bulletin published a serialized, ghostwritten memoir of a prostitute who went by the moniker Alice Smith. “A Voice from the Underworld” detailed Alice’s humble Midwestern upbringing and her struggle to find aboveboard work, and candidly related the harrowing events she endured after entering “the life.” While prostitute narratives had been published before, never had they been as frank in their discussion of the underworld, including topics such as abortion, police corruption, and the unwritten laws of the brothel. Throughout the series, Alice strongly criticized the society that failed her and so many other women, but, just as acutely, she longed to be welcomed back from the margins. The response to Alice’s story was unprecedented: four thousand letters poured into the Bulletin, many of which were written by other prostitutes ready to share their own stories; and it inspired what may have been the first sex worker rights protest in modern history.
For the first time in print since 1913, Alice: Memoirs of a Barbary Coast Prostitute presents the memoirs of Alice Smith and a selection of letters responding to her story. An introduction contextualizes “A Voice from the Underworld” amid Progressive Era sensationalistic journalism and shifting ideas of gender roles, and reveals themes in Alice’s story that extend to issues facing sex workers today.

This is my selection for the “Home” challenge. I live in San Francisco, which was once upon a time known as part of the Barbary Coast. I also have a slight obsession with Gold Rush era SF and how prostitutes have been viewed throughout history. Essentially, this book is the perfect combination of two very interesting topics to me.

BORROW || PURCHASE

 

Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny

Synopsis:
A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Cullen into Holy Madison, Hugh Hefner’s number one girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, Holly’s plunge down the rabbit hole took her to a world where she discovered that not all was as it seemed. What appeared to be a fairy-tale life inside the Playboy Mansion – which included A-list celebrity parties and Holly’s own number one television show – quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing Bunnies.
Life inside the notorious mansion wasn’t a dream after all, and it quickly became Holly’s nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future she found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide – but instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it. Here for the first time, she courageously shares the real story, from the details of her demeaning and controlling relationship to the hard work of healing, a journey that culminated in her own successful television series, a live Las Vegas show, and the joy of motherhood.

It might seem a bit strange that I chose this one for “substance” but hear me out! “Girls Next Door” was the first reality TV show that I actually watched religiously. I was fascinated by the whole Playboy Bunny lifestyle and absolutely loved how calm/down to earth Holly was. When I first heard that she wrote a book I felt as if her time to prove that she has something substantial to say/contribute to the people who desired the Playboy Bunny lifestyle had finally come. Needless to say, I haven’t gotten around to reading the book until now, but I’m super duper looking forward to it.

BORROW || PURCHASE

 

Public Library Services for the Poor: Doing All We Can

Synopsis: Among public institutions, the library has great potential for helping the poor and disenfranchised. For many, the library is their only source for information, entertainment, language skills, employment help, free computer use, and even safety and shelter. Experts Leslie and Glen Holt, with decades of service to inner-city communities between them, challenge librarians to do more for poor people. While recognizing the financial crunch libraries are under, the authors offer concrete advice about programs and support for this group, showing you how to *Train staff to meet the unique needs of the poor, including youth *Cooperate with other agencies in order to form partnerships and collaborations that enrich library services to the poor and homeless *Find help, financial and other, for your library This groundbreaking work demonstrates how five Key Action Areas adopted by the ALA Council (Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 2lst-Century Literacy) apply especially to this disadvantaged population, and motivates librarians to use creative solutions to meet their needs.

I love libraries and I love the public servant aspect of library work. Honestly, I do believe that if I wasn’t hellbent on becoming some form of librarian I would have considered a career in social work. Anywho, I’m partially reading this because it’s one of my sources for a paper that I’m writing, but I’m still looking forward to it!

BORROW || PURCHASE

 

Charlemagne

Synopsis: When Charlemagne died in 814 CE, he left behind a dominion and a legacy unlike anything seen in Western Europe since the fall of Rome. Distinguished historian and author of The Middle Ages Johannes Fried presents a new biographical study of the legendary Frankish king and emperor, illuminating the life and reign of a ruler who shaped Europe’s destiny in ways few figures, before or since, have equaled.
Living in an age of faith, Charlemagne was above all a Christian king, Fried says. He made his court in Aix-la-Chapelle the center of a religious and intellectual renaissance, enlisting the Anglo-Saxon scholar Alcuin of York to be his personal tutor, and insisting that monks be literate and versed in rhetoric and logic. He erected a magnificent cathedral in his capital, decorating it lavishly while also dutifully attending Mass every morning and evening. And to an extent greater than any ruler before him, Charlemagne enhanced the papacy’s influence, becoming the first king to enact the legal principle that the pope was beyond the reach of temporal justice–a decision with fateful consequences for European politics for centuries afterward.
Though devout, Charlemagne was not saintly. He was a warrior-king, intimately familiar with violence and bloodshed. And he enjoyed worldly pleasures, including physical love. Though there are aspects of his personality we can never know with certainty, Fried paints a compelling portrait of a ruler, a time, and a kingdom that deepens our understanding of the man often called “the father of Europe.”

I absolutely loved Fried’s “The Middle Ages” so when I saw that he wrote a book about Charlemagne how could I possibly resist? Obviously, I chose this one for scholarship since Charlemagne is often thought of when people think of early European scholarship. I don’t exactly plan on finishing this one this month – just because it took me nearly a year to read Fried’s last book, but I do intend on knocking out a decent chunk.

BORROW || PURCHASE

 

FICTION

The Name of the Rose

Synopsis: The year is 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon – all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”

Whenever ~literary~ people find out that I like to read and that I love medieval history they always ask “Have you read any Umberto Eco?” and when I say no they look at me as if I’ve just lied about my entire life. SO, I’m going to remedy that this month with this novel. I actually started on it last month and so far I’m enjoying the mystery aspect of it.

BORROW || PURCHASE

 

YESSIR.

That brings to a happy close my TBR goals for November. Let me know what you plan on reading this month or if you’ve read any of the books mentioned above!

Hope you have a wonderful day & read a wonderful book,
Rae

 

 

 

 

 

Fear

IMG_7799.jpg

My dreams are filled with fears.

Fears of being alone. Fears of being broken for the final time. Fears of not being enough no matter how hard I try; no matter what I do.

And in these dreams, I do everything I can to prevent what feels like the inevitable.

And in these dreams, all I do is receive confirmation of my multiple fears. Confirmation that my fears are real. Confirmation that reality is always going to be waiting for me.

Yet these dreams aren’t nightmares. They don’t have the same heart-stopping fear. They don’t cause me to wake up gasping for air like a person saved from drowning. They don’t cause me to wake up covered in a cold sweat. They don’t cause me to wake up in a panic; anxiety gripping my heart.

Instead I wake up calm.

I wake up with the faint taste of self-sabotage.