Monday, March 21, 2011

# book reviews

The Oracle of Stamboul Blog Tour

Title: The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel
Author: Michael David Lukas

Late in the summer of 1877, a flock of purple-and-white hoopoes suddenly appears over the town of Constanta on the Black Sea, and Eleonora Cohen is ushered into the world by a mysterious pair of Tartar midwives who arrive just minutes before her birth. "They had read the signs, they said: a sea of horses, a conference of birds, the North Star in alignment with the moon. It was a prophecy that their last king had given on his deathwatch." But joy is mixed with tragedy, for Eleonora's mother dies soon after the birth.
Raised by her doting father, Yakob, a carpet merchant, and her stern, resentful stepmother, Ruxandra, Eleonora spends her early years daydreaming and doing housework—until the moment she teaches herself to read, and her father recognizes that she is an extraordinarily gifted child, a prodigy.

When Yakob sets off by boat for Stamboul on business, eight-year-old Eleonora, unable to bear the separation, stows away in one of his trunks. On the shores of the Bosporus, in the house of her father's business partner, Moncef Bey, a new life awaits. Books, backgammon, beautiful dresses and shoes, markets swarming with color and life—the imperial capital overflows with elegance, and mystery. For in the narrow streets of Stamboul—a city at the crossroads of the world—intrigue and gossip are currency, and people are not always what they seem. Eleonora's tutor, an American minister and educator, may be a spy. The kindly though elusive Moncef Bey has a past history of secret societies and political maneuvering. And what is to be made of the eccentric, charming Sultan Abdulhamid II himself, beleaguered by friend and foe alike as his unwieldy, multiethnic empire crumbles?

The Oracle of Stamboul is a marvelously evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place—romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.

My thoughts:

The book didn't captivate me from the start.  Whereas with some books I'm immediately drawn into the story, this one at times was quite slow and seemed to drag.  That's not to say that it wasn't a good book or that it wasn't an interesting story, because it was.

The writer did a great job of taking us on a magical journey, to another time and place and I did really enjoy the main character Eleonora.  This is a little girl who for all intents and purposes is a genius, she learns to read in one day at the age of 6 and from that moment on, nothing can stop her, she has an appetite for literature that is unsatiable.

From the minute she stows away in her Father's steamer trunk, the story takes off and we're transported into a world of court intrigue and rich in history.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, I'm glad I kept with it and didn't put it down when it got a little slower.

I WILL say that the one thing that had me sighing in awe was the packaging for this book, absolutely stunning and makes me wish I had taken a photo before I opened it.  I love me a book with an appealing cover and this one had it in spades.

Check out the other reviews on this tour:

Wednesday, March 9th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Monday, March 14th: Like Fire
Wednesday, March 16th: The Whimsical Cottage
Monday, March 21st: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, March 23rd: Layers of Thought
Thursday, March 24th: Janet Boyer Blog

Thank you TLC for providing a copy of this book for review.  I was not financially compensated in any way, shape or form, and all opinions are mine alone.

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