Praise for Deanna Raybourn’s novel “A Spear Of Summer Grass”

Spear of Summer Grass

A Spear of Summer Grass. by Deanna Raybourn

Published by Harlequin 2013

Delilah Drummond has finally done it! After the suicide death of husband number three and her staunch refusal to return the family jewels to her late husband’s family, her family can bear no more. And what do you do with a rabble rouser like Delilah in 1920’s Paris? Why of course…ship her off to Africa, out of the watchful eye of the press and away from the scandal that will drag the whole family down. It’s not so bad, her step father has a small manor house there, and with doughty cousin Dora along to mind her, how could she possibly get into any more mischief?

How indeed?

Delilah arrives at Fairlight, a falling down dream, wasting away in Kenya, a mere skeleton of what it could have, what it should have been. As newly appointed head of this estate, Delilah begins to take pleasure in what little Kenya seems to offer, starting with former love interest and painter Kit Parrymore. Parrymore, whom the natives call ‘Peacock’ stands as almost exact opposite to Ryder White, who becomes Delilah’s guide as she adjusts to life in her new surroundings. Delilah finds in Africa for the first time that she is actually starting to care about more than the latest sexual conquest or the latest silk dress. The natives, the animals, the estate all begin to soften this self proclaimed heartless woman.

As things begin to heat up on the African continent, and blood is spilt Delilah learns that some things are worth fighting for and what is truly important to her.

The Review!

WOWZAS! Where to begin. This novel grabs you at page one…well no…Delilah grabs you at page one and pulls you along with her throughout this stunning book. For this reader, Delilah Drummond has become one of my favorite literary characters of this year. She’s like the Scarlett O’Hara of the Africa Savannah. Quick tempered, bold, sexy, seductive, intelligent, and flawed. She has a strength learned from her Louisiana Grandmother Miette, and a rare talent for finding and putting herself into the most delicious scandal time and again. Underneath that however, she is afraid of love, afraid to open her heart, and afraid to lose one more thing she’s given her heart too.

Its at Delilah’s arrival in Africa that we are introduced to Ryder White. So very much her equal in many ways, strong, handsome, bold, and with a heart the size of a lion. Also like Delilah he is equally flawed, nursing a hurt from a former love that has kept him from finding another.

The writing as Delilah and Ryder become acquainted draws you into the story and Raybourn’s quick wit and humor is perfectly suited to this beginning relationship

 

“I see my reputation has preceded me,” I said, smoothing my skirt primly over my knees.

“You’ve already made the betting book at the club,” he told me, holding me fast with those remarkable eyes.

“Have I, indeed? And what are the terms?”

“Fifty Pounds to whoever names the man who beds you first.” he stated flatly

……..

“Tell me, who did you put your money on?”

He stretched his legs out to cross them at the ankle. He folded his arms behind his head and gave me a slow grin. “Why myself, of course.”

 

Delilah is one of those characters you can’t help getting caught up in. She is the type of person you’d either be thrilled to meet or cross to the other side of the street to avoid, either way, she’d catch your heart, and manages to do just that to every man and almost  every woman in the novel.

The Title of this piece “A Spear Of Summer Grass” comes from the Walt Whitman poem Song Of Myself, and seems an apt choice for this novel. The poem begins:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

This novel is definitely Delilah’s song , and it is much later in the book that Delilah also refers back to this poetry though indirectly…

 

The men stood back, chanting a song of one who would not be forgotten, of loved ones lost and returned to the earth, and of the land itself which does not die but is always born anew with each fall of the long rains. They chanted of life, which is short as a spear of summer grass or long as the heart of the Riff itself, and of the silent land tat waits beyond. The chanted of Africa.

 

This one is so well thought out, even down to the name of the main character, Delilah, the temptress and seductress from the Bible. Raybourn hits home on every note with this one. The plot (and I will not give the novel away), draws you in and offers up a brilliantly told tale of the lives of these misfits on the African coast that the world seems to have tossed away and forgotten.

Rating!

You need to ask? Go get it, and read it already! Deanna Raybourn has hit it out of the park with this one, and has cinched herself a permanent home on my bookshelf. This one offers all the things you’d look for in a novel, and to be blunt, the strength of the writing of the main character sells this book.

Brilliant on all counts!

The Cover!

Perfect Choice, suits the title and novel.

Author!

A sixtRaybournh generation native Texan, New York Times Best selling author Deanna Raybourn graduated from the university of Texas at San Antonio with a double major in English and history. She now lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter.

To learn more – visit http://www.deannaraybourn.com

The Historian – by Elizabeth Kostova

The Historian

 

 

by Elizabeth Kostova

Published 2005 by Little Brown and Company

Thoughts on “The Historian”

 

“In this spot he is housed in evil.  Reader, unbury him with a word”

 

Bela_Lugosi_as_Dracula,_anonymous_photograph_from_1931,_Universal_Studios

Some books, enter my reading radar by chance, others I seek out based on subject matter. This particular novel, came as a recommendation from a colleague at work. When I discovered that it was a different take on the legend of Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Tepes, I was somewhat anxious to begin. Having read Dracula some years ago, and I might add, the 1931 version of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi stands as my favorite classic horror film, this would fit well with my interest in the story. So, knowing nothing of Kostova,  I dived in to read.

 

This narrative told through letters and oral accounts spans a thirty to forty year period. Told by the 16 year old daughter of a college professor (we are not privy to the girls name), it weaves together the folklore and legends surrounding Vlad Tepes and his fictional counterpart ‘Count Dracula’. The story gets off the ground when Paul discovers an unusual antique book containing only one image of a dragon, has dropped itself into his lap. Recognizing the name Drakulya, Paul heads off to speak with his college advisor Bartholomew Rossi, who gives Paul an even bigger shock. Thirty years prior he received a book, also containing only the picture of the dragon.

The mystery kicks into a higher gear a few days later when Rossi goes missing, and leaves behind only a puddle of blood on his ink blotter as a clue. Paul begins to piece together what’s happened, and upon encountering Rossi’s estranged daughter Helen. the pair head off across Europe to solve both the disappearance of Rossi and to solve one of the longest standing legends in Eastern Europe…the legend of Dracula. Paul and Helen’s journey takes them to several history rich places, including Istanbul, Bulgaria and Budapest, each discovery bringing them a step closer to finding the ultimate answer. Allies turn up as do enemies as Paul and Helen race time to find Professor Rossi before it’s all too late.

monastery_of_snagov_vlad_the_impaler_grave_12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monastery at Snagov – Vlad the Impaler’s Gravesite

 

 

Not a fan of this particular novel. While I love the concept and the overall story. I found the length to be long in the tooth for a vampire novel, and it seemed by the end of the book, that the main narrator (who remains nameless – don’t get me started on the debate of not giving your characters names), added nothing of substantial value to the novel. She reminded me of the children in ‘The Bridges Of Madison County’, where they appear relevant to the story, until about four days after watching it when you begin to question in your mind what purpose they served. My point being, the nameless narrator could have  been eliminated with, in my humblest of opinions, very little lost from the story.  Not to quote Stephen King, but I am…

“kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings”

Rating

This one is difficult to rate. I think it offers a lot of information and draws the reader into an alluring adventure. For a first novel, I think its bloody brilliant. That said, I have to admit, it did not measure up for me as a vampire novel. I would have enjoyed more hair standing on the back of the neck pages, and more time with the actual vampire. So, while I think it is a beautiful follow up piece to Stoker’s earlier work from 1897 (let me be clear – this is not a sequel), for me it missed the boat on being worth a second read. It’s just not on the same footing with Stoker’s work.

The Author

Elizabeth Kostova

Elizabeth Kostova graduated from Yale and holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she won the Hopewood Award for the Novel in Progress.

To find out more check out http://www.theswanthieves.com/

 

 

July 6th to July 15th. VACATION!!!!!

Escaping the City

Noooo this is not a review!

Sooooo last night, my computer had a meltdown, and I spent most of the night reformatting.  Now that I have finished that,  I am taking a week off from work (ok…so I had the week booked all along)  and heading to the country to visit family.  I’m toting along a big stack of books and my kobo as I plan to pick off some of these awesome books I’ve been getting from Goodreads.com.  I am not, however toting the computer with me.

You heard right!  I am going to let me desktop have a break for the next week, and I feel I need to unplug from the net for a few days!

I will be back next weekend and will share what I was able to read!

While I’m away, check out the awesome books reviewed on the site, and hit up the recommended July read and the Book Club Read.

Have an amazing week everyone.

Scott!Me