Friday, November 5, 2021

Book Reviews: A Betting Woman & Sisters of the Resistance

I am so behind on my Once Upon a Book Club boxes, it's straight embarrassing. I'm trying hard to get through them though. This is easily my favorite book subscription box, it's interactive and fun, and the books have mostly been pretty good. I do think that I'm going to take a few months off from my subscription though, only because I need to save money and we are reprioritizing things in our budget. As soon as things are back on track though? I'm all in! 

Let's talk about a couple I've finished up lately though. 

A Betting Woman - Jenni L. Walsh

Born Simone Jules, reinvented as Eleanor Dumont, and largely remembered as Madame Moustache, A Betting Woman is a historical novel inspired by the tumultuous life, times, and loves of America’s first professional croupier of modern-day blackjack, bringing to life an intrepid and entrepreneurial real-life woman who lived on her own terms.

When her whole family dies in a fire, young Simone flees her grief and travels west to reinvent herself in burgeoning San Francisco. Down to her last dollar and facing some unsavory options, Simone quick-wits her way to a gambling table where she begins to deal vingt-et-un—modern-day blackjack. Word travels fast among of this French-speaking, card-playing novelty, and she begins to build a new life for herself.

Self-sufficient Simone doesn’t count on falling for an artist— not to mention a man of a different skin color—who society, and the law, says she can’t have. When he is murdered, Simone is devastated and sets off to find closure for his death.

Finding her way to a new boomtown, she adopts a new name, Eleanor Dumont, and opens her very own gambling emporium. "Dumont's Place" is a great success, drawing mountain men and fortune seekers from far and wide.

But the boom and bust of the gold rush stops for no one, nor do the challenges of a man’s world. Eleanor must continue to fight—for her livelihood, for her self-worth, and most of all, for her legacy.
When this first came, I didn't realize it was inspired by a real person, which just made this a little bit cooler. Just the idea of such an independently fierce and self sufficient woman in the America West is pretty wild, so when I went into this one I was pretty excited about it. 

In the end, this book was meh for me. It wasn't awful but it's one I'm going to forget about. Honestly, there are parts of it I already have and that really stinks. The writing was just alright, the characters weren't totally likeable, either. I really wanted to like Simone/Eleanor but she ended up being kind of a strange character for me. She kind of obsesses over a piece of art (which is one of the gifts in the box and it was... lame, so I'm not sure that I really understood the draw of it?), and a guy she was barely with. Someone is made to dress like a boy, and Simone/Eleanor is actually kind of anti-woman in a really weird way? I feel like there was a lot of promise to this and none of the plot strings came together the way that they should have/could have. 
The gifts in the box were pretty predictable, a deck of cards and an interesting game I've never played but I figure we'll give it a try, it is a book about gambling, after all. We also got a pretty umbrella, and then a weird sketch that I think my six year old could do a better job with. I understand why this would have been included and it did fit with the story, but I guess the practical part of me would rather have something I could use. This makes me sound like such a mom, doesn't it? 

Sisters of the Resistance - Christine Wells
France, 1944: The Nazis still occupy Paris, and twenty-five-year-old Gabby Foucher hates these enemies, though, as the concierge of ten rue Royale, she makes it a point to avoid trouble, unlike her sister Yvette. Until she, like her sister, is recruited into the Resistance by Catherine Dior—sister of the fashion designer, Christian Dior.

Gabby and Yvette are both swept into the world of spies, fugitives, and Resistance workers, and it doesn't take long for the sisters to realize that their lives are in danger.

Gabby discovers an elderly tenant is hiding a wounded British fugitive, and Yvette becomes a messenger for the Resistance. But as Gabby begins to fall in love with her patient and Yvette’s impulsiveness lead her into intrigue at an ever-higher level, both women will discover that their hearts and even their souls hang in the balance as well.
Well, this one was slightly better. I'm normally not a fan of historical fiction because it doesn't usually hold my attention. Also, can we just stop making books based off of WWII? There are SO MANY of them and they really all have similar story lines and how many do we really need? Also, I don't know why it references Catherine Dior because it doesn't really have anything to do with Catherine Dior, it's just kind of in the background, but not really? 

I will say, if you like historical fiction based in/around WWII, you really will like this one. It features everything and, of course, ends in romance for the sisters, which we all knew would happen. I preferred Yvette because Gabby almost seems like a character the author just added in to beef up the story because she's just... there. You don't really get invested in her, she's not into all of it like Yvette is, and she's just an afterthought who pops up here and there. The sisters have some drama between them, which feels like it's made up for the sake of having some more conflict in the book, because in the end they have each other's backs so it's not really anything worth having in the book to begin with. 

Overall, the book was alright. It wasn't terrible, I finished the book (though it took me a couple of weeks, to be honest) and it was interesting. Is it one that I'm going to put near the top of a recommended list of WWII books? Probably not. 
The gifts in this box were mostly fashion/jewelry based, of course. I ended up giving them to Penelope and Lucy for their dress up box because I'm not sure what the heck I'd do with them. 

1 comment:

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Sorry neither of these fell into the "love" pile. And I'm the same as you - I'd want gifts that I could usually use (for the most part!)

Lauren @