Saturday, July 30, 2016

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 184: Pushkin's Fairy Tales, by Alexander Pushkin

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!

Pushkin's Fairy Tales 
Alexander Pushkin
(Tr. by Jacob Krup & Oliver Elton) 
 Hardcover, 152 pages
 Medny Vsadnik Trading House Publishers
  Classics, Fantasy,Poetry,
Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is a total jewel of a book! I almost have no words to express my aesthetic delight when looking at this cover. It's simply exquisite!

This is a typically Russian style of painting, based on the same techniques as those used for painting icons, which, of course, have a more religious connotation. This type of painting is done on lacquer, with a black background. The paintings are usually miniatures. The black background makes the colors stand out and shine! 

The cover of this book, as well as the incredibly GORGEOUS illustrations throughout the entire volume, are the work of a group of artists residing in the Russian settlement of Palekh, which is the administrative center of Palekhsky District of Ivanov Oblast, Russia. According to the 2010 census, the population is 5,337. (Source: Wikipedia) 

The artists who participated in the illustration of this magnificent book are too numerous to mention, but they are obviously all masters of their craft. They have achieved a luminosity, a gracefulness of design and composition, that will truly elicit total awe and delight in anyone who buys this collection. Each illustration is a little masterpiece of this Russian folk art, as each of them is a miniature. They all boggle my mind! Their sheer beauty is more than enough to keep me in a state of wonder and happiness for many hours at a time, and I'm not exaggerating! These illustrations are visual treasures, as precious -- although much cheaper -- as the most highly valued precious stones! 

I love everything about this cover! The bright, sparkling colors, the beautifully drawn and painted elements, which are realistic, and yet, highly stylized. This image, as well as the ones sprinkled throughout the book, remind me very strongly of ancient Persian art. There must have been some influence along the way, I think. Yet, the inherent spirituality of Russian art, even when adorning a book that has nothing to do with religion, still shines through. 

I also love the highly detailed, ornamental border around the cover image. Together with the font, which is reminiscent of the Russian alphabet, even though it's in English, and done in gold, this cover is truly a stunning image! 

I am the fortunate owner of this beautiful jewel of a book! I first saw it on eBay, and had it in my"Watched Items List" for quite some time. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer, and just went ahead and bought it! 

The book is also available on the U.S. Amazon website, for anyone who would like to buy it. I'm sure it can also be found at Amazon UK, as well as Amazon CA. 

The overall design of the book is by Denis Lazarev. The photographs of the artwork are by Pavel Demidov and Oleg Trubsky. Some of the artists involved are: Oleg An, Andrei Arapov, Svetlana Baikina, Grigory and Ivan Bakanov, Valentina Belozerova, and many others. 

I especially love the fact that women artists are also represented in this book. There are husband and wife collaborations, as well. Unfortunately, the illustrations are not individually credited, except perhaps in Internet articles about the book. 

I am so very proud and honored to have this beautiful volume in my personal library! I know I will enjoy it for many years to come! Of course, since a literary master wrote these fairy tales, I will enjoy them, as well!     


Online Links

What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!


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Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Review/Giveaway!! A Reckless Promise, by Kasey Michaels (TLC Book Tours)

A Reckless Promise
(The Little Season, Book 3)
Kasey Michaels
Mass Market Paperback, 298 pages
HQN Books
July 26, 2016
Historical Romance

London's Little Season has never been so scandalous

It's the kind of vow often made on the battlefield. Darby Travers, Viscount Nailbourne, never imagines he'll have to honor it. Yet here she is on his doorstep—his late comrade's young daughter, and Darby's new ward. Worse, she comes with the most overprotective, mistrustful, bothersome chaperone—the child's aunt, Sadie Grace Boxer. Darby is quite sure that behind her lovely facade, the woman is guarding a secret.

Sadie Grace faced many trials working in her brother's surgery, but none prepared her for the world she's thrust into with his passing. Navigating the ton, with its endless ball gowns and parade of parties, is difficult enough, but hiding the truth about her niece while the sophisticated viscount watches her every move proves nearly impossible—particularly when his searing gaze tempts her to bare all. But when her family's past catches up with her, she'll have to trust in Darby…no matter the cost to her heart.

Purchase Links

Print Edition
Digital Edition

I received a complimentary copy from 
the author in exchange for 
an honest review. My personal opinions,
and no one else's, are expressed herein.

One thing that makes this author's romance novels truly unique is the liberal sprinkling of humor in the plots. Her characters throw out sharp, spot on, funny, witty remarks on a nearly constant basis, something that I consider one of the great delights of reading a Kasey Michaels novel!

This is the latest book in the series known as "The Little Season", which deals with the romantic relationships of four soldiers -- all friends -- who fought against Napoleon in the early years of the 19th century.

The male protagonist, Darby Travers, who is also the Viscount Nailbourne, was incredibly funny in the previous book in the series, A Scandalous Proposal. In this novel, he's not quite as quick with the funny, witty remarks. Instead, he comes across as more pensive and romantic. He's such a kind-hearted, actually lonely person, with a huge emotional burden he's been carrying for most of his life. We actually get to know him very well in this novel.  Still, Darby did come across as a free-spirited, laidback hero, even if that was really just a facade he put on so that people wouldn't get too close to him. 

Sadie Grace Hamilton (she initially gives Darby the false name of "Mrs. Boxer"), the female protagonist, was also very likeable, although I must confess that I prefer Daniella Foster (nicknamed "Dany"), from A Scandalous Proposal. I realize, though, that they are two very different personalities; Dany is adventurous and lighthearted, while Sadie Grace -- as she is commonly known -- is more serious, and actually a bit shy. Still, this, too, is quite appropriate to this character, who, like Darby, bears some heavy burdens, as well as a huge responsibility, for she has her niece's welfare to look out for.

The niece in question is Marley, a very bright, spirited 7-year-old who has been orphaned, and is cared for by Sadie. Although we don't see that much of her in this novel, she does come across as a very memorable character. She is just as protective of her aunt as her aunt is of her. This is very evident during her first meeting with Darby, whom she believes has not been very nice to her aunt. Later on in the novel, however, she really warms up to him, which is really good, as he is supposed to be her guardian, thanks to a wartime promise he made to her father, Dr. John Hamilton, on the battlefield.

The secondary characters are totally delightful, and just as memorable. I love that Michaels carries characters from one novel to another, too, which gives us readers a chance to really get to know them. Thus, we quickly begin to feel that they're like family. In this novel, I especially liked Basil, the Duke of Cranbrook, and his Duchess, Vivien. Basil has long feared a supposed curse that has taken the lives of his brothers, leaving him as the only successor to the dukedom. His fear is a bit comical, however, and everyone else believes it's just superstition. He and Vivien are both rather eccentric, and have none of the pretentious, egotistic attitudes of the wealthy aristocracy. Instead, they are very down to earth, and readily accept Sadie and Marley.

Other great secondary characters are Clarice of the Virginia Goodfellows, who emigrated from the United States to England, and her beloved, the very comical and eternally devoted Rigby. Their relationship forms a very funny foil to that of Darby and Sadie Grace. Clarice is forever betting on certain things happening, and the prize is always the same -- a new bonnet, bought by the ever patient Rigby. Needless to say, she has acquired quite a collection by now, as she is very perceptive, as well as intuitive, so she's nearly always right.

The plot hinges on a well-known romance novel trope -- that of a marriage of convenience that later becomes a union of true love.  Darby and Sadie are only betrothed throughout the novel, but they're definitely headed for marriage. Their relationship has none of the drama common to many romance novels; instead, it develops rather quickly and quietly, moving inexorably to the expected declarations of love. On the way, Darby and Sadie grow to trust each other with their secrets, thus getting to know each other quite well.

These two are truly a great couple! I especially loved how sweet and totally wonderful Darby was to Sadie throughout the book. I also loved how she went from treating him with some reserve, and even suspicion, to actually sharing in his fun-loving ways. This was a courtship that enchanted me because of its very gentleness. it was also one based on a true friendship between the two lovers, as well as equality. At no point during their relationship does Darby treat Sadie in a condescending manner, even though he is a very wealthy man, and she a penniless woman with an orphaned niece.

The story involves some intrigue, although it can't really be classified as a suspense novel. Still, there's some foul play afoot, which our two heroes must team up to deal with. They always present a united front where little Marley is concerned, too. At all costs, she must be protected. This was the whole rationale for their marriage, which Darby insisted was necessary. Of course, it's more than obvious that he felt an attraction to Sadie from the very first time he met her.

I should not forget to mention Darby's valet, Norton, who develops a strong friendship with Marley. The two very much like each other, and Marley loves to play with him. It turns out that Norton is an actor, and only does valet work from time to time in order to support his acting. His skills, come in very handy at one point in the novel, where he gives a very convincing, as well as comical, performance.

Michaels introduces a couple of subplots, such as the one regarding Basil's fear of 'the Cranbrook Curse'. There's also one regarding Clarice, which happens to involve Darby himself. These subplots give the reader further insights into the main as well as the secondary characters.

I just love the way Michaels brings out her characters' personalities, as well as how she interweaves the subplots and other information with her main plot. Although there were moments when things were a bit slow, this did not last very long; the pace then quickly built up, and one event seamlessly led to another. I felt as though I were being led along, and was surprised and pleased by some of the twists and turns that came along the way. 

Michaels is also an expert at depicting the high society of the time, bringing out the fact that it was often full of very comical, eccentric personalities, such as the ones already mentioned above.

This novel is a solid love story that contains some very important themes -- trust vs. betrayal, romantic vs. family love, and the importance of sincere friendship. It's a wonderful, mellow read, one that is nevertheless spiked with funny moments and lovingly quirky personalities. I wholeheartedly recommend it to all historical romance fans!          

The first two books in the series!

You can find my review of 
this novel HERE.

Praise for The Little Season Series

"The story is filled with delightful characters and witty repartee." - Publishers Weekly on A Scandalous Proposal

"Michaels, known for her comedic Regency set romances, outdoes herself.... For lighthearted fun, you can't do better than this." - RT Book Reviews on An Improper Arrangement

Kasey Michaels is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 100 books (she doesn't count them). Kasey has received three coveted Starred Reviews from Publishers Weekly, two for the historical romances, The Secrets of the Heart and The Butler Did It, and a third for the contemporary romance Love to Love You Baby (that shows diversity, you see). She is a recipient of the RITA, a Waldenbooks and Bookrak Bestseller award, and many awards from Romantic Times magazine, including a Career Achievement award for her Regency era historical romances. She is an Honor Roll author in Romance Writers of America, Inc. (RWA)

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