Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant gives us a new perspective on the infamous Borgia family. Pope Alexander VI, formally Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, is a loving and caring father who wants his family to succeed in Italy despite their Spanish blood and illegitimacy. History paints him as a corrupt and brutal man, but Dunant shows a different side of this powerful pope. She creates a man who is compassionate and forgiving, but he also knows the cost of staying the most powerful man in Italy and Europe. Playing political games is one of the many tasks that a pope must juggle. To be successful you must know how to use your children as pawns while still keeping their happiness in mind.
I really enjoyed this book. Dunant’s Rome is filled with conspiracies and intrigue, keeping the reader glued to the book. It wasn’t just the Borgia’s who are corrupt, but everyone in Europe is plotting something against someone. The story is told through the pope, his eldest son Cesare and his daughter Lucrezia, which really helped with the pace and overall plot of the story. You are given such a complete view of the family and what motivates each of the characters. Dunant did a great job of fully developing her characters and showing not only their lust for power but also their loyalty to their family. It was such a refreshing look and Dunant did it so well that I found myself really empathizing with the characters. If you are need of a good historical novel filled with devious and ambitious characters, this would be a great choice.
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If you love Lee Child and/or James Rollins then you must read Jonathan Maberry. His Joe Ledger character is like Jack Reacher but with a secret science military team to back him up. He is a martial arts expert and a cop, so he knows how to handle the bad guys when them come around. Dragon Factory is book two in the series. Joe Ledger and his team are going up against two separate geneticists. One creating exotic transgenic monsters and mercenaries and the other is continuing the Nazi Master Race that began with Josef Mengele. Both groups are set on bringing down Ledger and taking over the world, but Ledger is ready to go to war in order to stop them.
What I really love about this series is how complex everything is. It is never just one bad guy against Ledger, it’s more like one bad guy, his grown kids, plus several other creatures lurking around reeking havoc. The science, specifically the genetic manipulation, is taken to the extreme in Dragon Factory. It is frightening to think what people could do, but boy does it make for an intense and crazy read. If you are looking for a new thriller author to read, Maberry is a great choice and you will be glued to the series.
After finishing Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children a while back, I was saddened to be left adrift along with Jacob, Emma and all the other peculiars from the island. I was ecstatic when Hollow City finally came out and thrilled that the story picks up right where the first one left off with Jacob and his friends heading to London.
The whole world that Riggs creates for the peculiars to discover is fascinating. I really enjoyed watching all of the children grow into their powers and discover other peculiar children as they traveled. The photos are just as unusual as in the first book and follow the story well…almost as if Riggs sat down with a pile of bizarre photos and created stories to explain the unique children in them.
I really hate waiting for the next installment, since we discover Jacob’s hidden talent at the very end of this one. But I’m sure it will be well worth the wait. Loved. This. Book.
How to Train a Wild Elephant and Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays is a great way to learn how to bring mindfulness and mediation into your everyday life. The book is comprised of simple exercises for each week of the year that are geared towards finding ways to be happier. The activities are as simple as taking three deep breaths before answering a phone. This book really helps you to slow your mind down and appreciate the things that we do daily. It is also a good way to help reduce the stress that comes along with daily life. What I loved about this book is that it works great as a reference. I like to open the book and read a page as a gentle reminder to bring mindfulness into my life.