Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Madam de Stael: The First Modern Woman review

Madame de Stael: The First Modern Woman

Madam de Stael: The First Modern Woman by Francine du Plessix Gray is billed as being a biography about a French woman who defied a woman's role. It sounded very interesting and I'm always looking for good biographies to read so I took a chance. Unfortunately, the book didn't work for me on a couple of levels.

First, the writing style was not what I enjoy. There was a lot of jumping around in time and place instead of a linear story of de Stael's life. That combined with the author's refusal to simply use first names for the people in the book made for a confusing read. 

Second, Madam de Stael was not someone who defied the role of women in her society if this book is accurate.While she supported more egalitarian rights for the people of France, this did not necessarily translate to a larger, more participatory role for women. The only non-conformist action she ever took was to take lovers outside her marriage - and as any student of French history knows, this is not exactly a shocking occurrence among the elites. 

While it was very interesting to read about a period, people, and place that I haven't spent much time learning about, I would not recommend this book. It simply was too confusing and about a woman who isn't as interesting as the synopsis would lead you to believe.


"A writer of scintillating style and resonant substance," ("Publishers Weekly"), bestselling author Francine du Plessix Gray chronicles the incandescent life of the most celebrated woman of letters of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic era. 

The daughter of the second most important man in France, Louis XVI's Minister of Finances, Jacques Necker, Madame de Stael was born into a world of political and intellectual prominence. Later, she married Sweden's ambassador to the French court, and for a span of twenty years, she held the limelight as a political figure and prolific writer. Despite a plain appearance, she was notoriously seductive and enjoyed whirlwind affairs with some of the most influential men of her time. She always attracted controversy, and was demonized by Napoleon for her forthrightness, the sheer power of her intellect, and the progressiveness of her salon, which was a hotbed for the expression of liberal ideals. The emperor exiled her, on and off, for the last fifteen years of her life. 

Madame de Stael--force of nature, exuberant idealist, and ultimate enthusiast--waged a lifelong struggle against all that was tyrannical, cynical, or passionless in her time, and left Europe a legacy of enlightened liberalism that radiated throughout the continent during the nineteenth century.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Magic Bleeds review

Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, #4)

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews is book four in the Kate Daniels series and continues the fantastic ride Andrews has been sending Kate on throughout the series.

In Magic Bleeds, we pick up with Kate ready to make good on her bet with Curran from Magic Strikes - only Curran doesn't show. Kate being Kate, she jumps into work - and into a whole lot of trouble. Between relationship problems with Curran, crazy magical diseases, psycho family members, and her usual work problems, Kate can't seem to catch a break in Magic Bleeds. But as always, it's an interesting and fast paced ride with moments of brilliant humor woven in for an awesome read.

I've loved the slow build up of Kate and Curran. The chemistry as they circled each other warily has been brilliant and the back and forth banter is laugh out loud funny. However, eventually there has to be a resolution though. We get that resolution in Magic Bleeds - in a spectacular fashion. I won't ruin what happens but suffice it to say it's a miracle someone didn't end up dead!

The slow reveal of information regarding Kate's powers and her family connections throughout the series has been both frustrating and fascinating. Each book provides slightly more information but leaves you wanting more. Magic Bleeds continues this trend and we get to meet a member of Kate's family that even Kate didn't know existed. For Kate, this is a vision of what her future could look like. For us, it's a fascinating insight into Roland and his history as well as the version of her father that Kate has been fed.

All in all, Magic Bleeds is a fantastic addition to the series that helps set Kate on a slightly different path than she'd been traveling. It will be interesting to see how this changes Kate - and how Kate changes the path :)


Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle - especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community. When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years - and who rode to war at the side of Kate's father. This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.