BOOK REVIEW: The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes by Andrew Pessin

the_irrationalist_coverTitle & Author: The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes, Andrew Pessin
Publication Date & Publisher: May 15, 2017, Open Books
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, General (Adult) Fiction, Murder Mystery
Length: 504 pages
ISBN: 13: 978-0998427447
My Rating: 5.0/5.0!!!!

My review: 

(Yeah, I’m changing it up and putting the review first. I’m crazy like that!)

giphyIt’s no secret that I love books! Let’s face it… I blog about books to support my book addiction.  So I’m rarely surprised to read a blurb, love the idea, read a story and love the book.

What is rare??? Finding a book that I love so much that I can find NOTHING negative to say about it! But that actually happened with The Irrationalist…

Andrew Pessin’s The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes is a wonderful blending of historical fiction, murder mystery, and humor to create a story that is almost impossible to put down!

The story begins with a sad voyage by Adrien Baillet to Sweden.  Baillet is a reluctant priest being sent away from the only home he can remember to represent his institution to the “most powerful government in Europe.” This might not sound remarkable, but immediately I was like, “huh?”

Baillet isn’t who you’d pick to represent you or your organization in anything! Especially not in important matters… Baillet’s own description is this:

He was in his early thirties – he didn’t know exactly how old – and had lived nearly his whole life first under the care of, and now taking care of, Rector Charlet. The good man had tried to make something of him, without much success. Baillet failed to do much academically, unable to distinguish himself in any subject at the college except swordsmanship, and even there his distinction was merely being the only boy to serve as live target dummy for the fencing classes.

Jesuit’s were expected to be smart, imposing, able to defend themselves and defeat their enemies when necessary (by brain or brawn didn’t matter). This is what everyone Baillet came in contact with expected of him, and they were all sorely disappointed! His mantra seemed to be “Perhaps if I had applied myself…”

When he arrives in Sweden, he is tasked with investigating the mysterious death of René Descartes. The official report needed to be that he had died of natural causes in order to stop the rumors spreading that Descartes had been murdered.

But Baillet’s job isn’t easy… EVERYONE is a suspect. EVERYONE has a motive. It’s like the list of possible suspects never ends!!

Was it the paranoid librarian, Freinsheimus? Or Descartes’ valet, Schluter? What about Doctor Wullens, Père Viogué or Former Predekant Voetius? His own brother, Pierre? The Chancellor himself, Zolindius? Someone else??? Bramer, perhaps?

I was still trying to piece it all together and figure out who did it and why at the very end… which has a twist that had me ready to re-read the entire book right that moment! Then I felt like a fool for not figuring it out myself!

As Baillet is constantly reminded by those he’s investigating… “Trust no one.” I should’ve listened. The answers were all there!

You might expect a book about a murder in the 1600’s to be all seriousness, but The Irrationalist is comical in both it’s dry and not-so-dry humor. Baillet bumbles his way through much of the investigation and his suspects pretty much do the investigating for him. He learns a lot though and comes out a different person at the end.

While the book is titled The Tragic Murder of René Descartes, it’s also about the tragic life and transformation of Adrien Baillet.

I definitely recommend picking this up if you enjoy historical fiction and/or murder mysteries!

 

Description (from Goodreads):

An historical murder mystery based on real events.

Who would want to murder the world’s most famous philosopher?

Turns out: nearly everyone.

In 1649, Descartes was invited by the Queen of Sweden to become her Court Philosopher. Though he was the world’s leading philosopher, his life had by this point fallen apart. He was 53, penniless, living in exile in Amsterdam, alone. With much trepidation but not much choice, he arrived in Stockholm in mid-October.

Shortly thereafter he was dead.

Pneumonia, they said. But who could believe that? There were just too many persons of interest who wanted to see Descartes dead, and for too many reasons. That so many of these persons were in Stockholm—thanks to the Gala the Queen was throwing to celebrate the end of the terrible Thirty Years’ War—made the official story all the less plausible. Death by poisoning was the unofficial word on the cobblestone.

Enter Adrien Baillet. A likeable misfit with a mysterious backstory, he arrives just as the French Ambassador desperately needs an impartial Frenchman to prove that Descartes died of natural causes—lest the “murder” in Lutheran Sweden of France’s great Catholic philosopher trigger colicky French boy-King Louis XIV to reignite that awful War. Baillet hesitatingly agrees to investigate Descartes’s death, knowing that if—or when—he screws up, he could be personally responsible for the War’s Thirty-First Year.

But solving the mystery of Descartes’s death (Baillet soon learns) requires first solving the mystery of Descartes’s life, with all its dangerous secrets … None of it is easy, as nearly everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted. Nor does it help that he must do it all under the menacing gaze of Carolus Zolindius, the terrifying Swedish Chancellor with the strangely intimidating limp.

But Baillet somehow perseveres, surprising everyone as he figures it all out—all the way to the explosive end.

 

What do you think of The Irrationalist? Have you read it or are you planning on reading it in the future? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Thank you to Open Books for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Click Here to Purchase The Irrationalist from Book Depository.

Click Here to Purchase The Irrationalist from Amazon.

 

 

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BOOK REVIEW: Beneath the Same Heaven by Anne Marie Ruff

37795839-_sy180_Title & Author: Beneath the Same Heaven, Anne Marie Ruff
Publication Date & Publisher: March 2018, Open Books
Genre(s): General (Adult) Fiction, Literary Fiction
Length: 410 pages
My Rating: 4.5/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

A story of love and terrorism.

Beneath the Same Heaven is a love story of an American woman and a Pakistani-born Muslim man, who seem to have bridged the divide between Western and Islamic world views. But when the husband’s father is killed by a US drone attack near the Afghan border, their cross-cultural family descends into conflicting ideas of loyalty, justice, identity, revenge, and terrorism. With candor, beauty, and unusual insight, their story reveals both how decent people can justify horrific acts, and the emotional power required to heal.

My review:

If you’ve read my WWW Wednesday from July 18, then you know that this book turned out to be so good that it just about broke me emotionally. It reads as a mystery combined with a love story combined with intense family drama.

The main character, Kathryn, is an American woman who marries Rashid, a Pakistani-born Muslim man.  Their love story is raw and believable in a way that draws you in without you noticing how attached you’re becoming to the characters.

Beneath the Same Heaven is broken up into Four Parts: The Book of Before, The Book of Kathryn, The Book of Rashid, and The Book of After.  When I first began reading it, I didn’t think I was going to like it. BUUUUTTTT…

I now believe Beneath the Same Heaven should be required reading! 

By the end of Part Two, I was so deeply committed and emotionally involved in the story of Kathryn and Rashid, that I had to take a break and walk away. This has never happened to me before! But mine and Kathryn’s hearts had been broken… our world was upside down… nothing had turned out the way it was supposed to, even though it seemed that things would be okay in the end… But things weren’t right!

I found myself talking about Kathryn as if she were a real person whose life was intertwined with my own. The problem (other than being that attached to a fictional character) was that there was no way for me to talk to her and give her my advice or comfort her at all! And her situation felt so real that I had broken right along with her…

My poor husband had to suffer the wrath of my intense emotional breakdown over what Rashid had put Kathryn and their children through. It felt as if he had just put me through it as well… I felt bad for abandoning her in her time of need, but my family needed me to take a break and come back to reality before proceeding with the rest of story.

And WHAT a rest of the story it was…

Anne Marie Ruff actually managed to make me root for the terrorist!!!

Still, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the beginning… to the point that I almost DNF’d the book! (Insanely glad I didn’t!!!) The problem was what seemed to me to be near gratuitous sex scenes between Kathryn and Rashid. I understand that the author was trying to show their deep desire & connection to each other, but it came across as forced and overly detailed at times. If it hadn’t been for this, Beneath the Same Heaven would easily be a full 5.0 instead of the 4.5 rating I gave it.

I definitely recommend picking up this book and devouring it as soon as possible!

What do you think? Have you read Beneath the Same Heaven? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

Thank you to Open Books for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Click Here to Purchase Beneath the Same Heaven from Book Depository.

 

 

July 2018 Wrap-Up

July was a complete and total blur for me! We were so busy I didn’t get to finish anywhere near as many books as I had planned, but I did get to discover a few really great new books and authors.

So here’s my July Wrap-Up of all the books I reviewed in July:

40598920Truth Seer by Kay L. Moody.  Not only did I LOVE this book, but I also was able to interview the author. If you haven’t had the opportunity to do so already, be sure to check out the review and interview!

 

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The Dead Key by D.M. Pulley. This was the first time I’d read anything by D.M. Pulley, but it definitely won’t be the last!

 

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Mystic Dragon by Jason Denzel. For the first time ever, I actually jumped into the middle of a series and wasn’t upset about it!

 

 

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Priceless by Jen Barrick. I wasn’t as blown away by this devotional as I expected to be, but it was still a good devotional for teen girls.

 

 

I also finished reading Beneath the Same Heaven by Anne Marie Ruff, which I absolutely loved, but I haven’t been able to finish up the review yet.

I’m looking forward to my August TBR and hopefully a more productive month!

 

BOOK REVIEW: Priceless by Jen Barrick

38749523Title & Author: Priceless, Jen Barrick
Publication Date & Publisher: October 2, 2018, Moody Publishers
Genre(s): Christian, Religion & Spirituality
My Rating: 3.5/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

What if your daughter’s propensity for “feeling all the feels” is actually a good thing?

Teens and tweens have a reputation for letting their emotions get the best of them, so much so that we often wonder if our families (and the world) wouldn’t be better off if these young women we love could feel just a little less. But as Linda Barrick discovered, these emotions play an important role in the spiritual lives of young women, and, when they learn to direct them rightly, their feelings can be a powerful force for good in their lives, homes, and schools.

That’s why Linda and her daughter Jen wrote this devotional for teen girls. After Linda’s daughter, Jen, was in a traumatic car accident, Jen was in many ways “frozen” at age fifteen and completely uninhibited. That means Jen still says what she’s thinking and feeling almost all the time. Because of this Jen’s mom, Linda, got a unique glimpse into the inner world of young women, and she realized that the emotions young teen girls feel are a beautiful gift. It gives them the ability, like Jen, to have an unhindered, best-friend relationship with their Heavenly Father.

In this 30-day devotional for young teen girls, author Linda Barrick combines her daughter Jen’s real-life prayers with passages from Psalms in order to speak directly to the heart of young women. It will teach these teens and tweens how to cultivate a deep, emotional relationship with the God who loves them. Each day will:

address a different feeling and examine it in light of God’s truth from a short passage of Psalms
affirm young women’s feelings as a gift of God
demonstrate how their emotions are meant to lead them closer to God
show them how to make their faith stronger when they use God’s Word to navigate their emotions

My review:

My hopes were set pretty high for this title. Overall, this was a good devotional for teen girls. I went through the first part with my 13 year old daughter and she really enjoyed it. It’s definitely written to a much younger audience than my 38 year old self and it does a good job at talking at their level.

However, I feel that I need to get my biggest concern with this title out of the way before I go on:

At the end of Day 1, Priceless has something very similar to the much recognized “sinner’s prayer.” I really think I would’ve enjoyed this book much more if this part wasn’t in there, since I personally don’t believe in the sinner’s prayer. It takes more than simply saying a prayer to be transformed in Christ and to live your life as His disciple. There’s a lot more I could say here, but it’s not appropriate in this review as it’s not about the book. (Please feel free to Contact Me to discuss further.)

I liked the layout of Priceless and how it addresses so much of what every teenage girl goes through and feels. It lets them know that those feelings are normal, but feelings aren’t necessarily true. And then it shows them the truth in God’s word and helps them to shift their thinking into more positivity.

I loved that it had so many activities to do! My daughter and I wrote prayers together, and it really opened up a lot of discussions about how she feels and the best ways to deal with those feelings. I definitely recommend going through this book with your daughter! It was pretty eye opening.

Overall, I would recommend this book with the one concern noted above. Let me know you’re thoughts in the comments section below!

Thanks to NetGalley and Moody Publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

You can pre-order Priceless on Amazon:

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: Mystic Dragon by Jason Denzel

cover132474-mediumTitle & Author: Mystic Dragon, Jason Denzel
Publication Date & Publisher: July 17, 2018, Macmillan-Tor/Forge
Genre(s): Sci Fi & Fantasy
My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

Mystic Dragon: The enchanting epic fantasy series from Jason Denzel, the founder of Dragonmount

Seven years have passed since Pomella AnDone became the unlikely apprentice to Mystic Grandmaster Faywong. Despite having attained significant accomplishments as a Mystic, Pomella feels incomplete. She laments that her Master isn’t teaching her quickly enough.

As a rare celestial event approaches, Pomella feels her lack of experience more than ever. The Mystical realm of Fayün is threatening to overtake the mortal world, and as the two worlds slowly blend together, Moth is thrown into chaos. People begin to vanish or are killed outright. Mystics from across the world gather to protect them, among them Shevia, a dark and brilliant prodigy whose mastery of the Myst rivals even that of the greatest High Mystics.

Shevia will challenge Pomella in every possible way, from her mastery of the Myst to her emotional connection with Pomella’s old friend Sim, in this epic fantasy adventure.

My review:

I never purposefully jump into a series in the middle of it because every time it’s accidentally happened, I’ve hated the book. Part of why I’ve hated them is just how obvious it is that I’ve jumped in at the middle of the story… It either feels as if I’m missing something, or every time the author mentions what happened in the previous book(s) it makes me want to throw the book I’m reading out the window.

So when, over halfway through reading Mystic Dragon, I found out it was the second book in a trilogy, I was extremely impressed by how Jason Denzel had weaved his story. I found myself dying to read the first book, but not because I felt as if I was missing something in reading the second one first – it was because I just want to read more!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Mystic Dragon. The world(s) itself was enough to keep me interested. It’s a little crazy because there are basically two worlds – Fayün and the “normal” world. Fayün is bleeding over into the mortal world and unnatural events are happening everywhere. The Mystics must stop the worlds from merging together forever, but they have limited time to do so and they’re up against a force much more powerful than they are!

The characters are very well-developed and complicated. I loved the way all of their stories were weaved together, as if they were always heading to the moment when the fate of all the worlds would be decided.

Even at the end, when everything came together and fates were sealed I was shocked by the ending! I literally said “Well, I didn’t see that coming,” out loud.

I definitely recommend picking this one up!

I’d love to know what you think! Leave me a comment below!

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge Books for providing me with an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Amazon – Hardcover: Mystic Dragon

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