Tag Archives: Genevieve Valentine

Book Review: The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine (4/5)

11 Jun

My good friend Katherine loves fairy tales. She reads them, writes them: everything you can imagine about fairy tales that an MFA candidate would do, she does with fairy tales. She’s enjoyed a lot of fairy tale retellings lately and this one takes place in the 1920s so she was pretty sure I would enjoy it. And she was darn right.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

Summary from Goodreads:

Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself.

Everything I’ve read about New York City in the 1920s makes me want to live there. The high fashion, the dance clubs, and the woman’s rights movement at the times combine perfectly for a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses. I thought Valentine brought the setting and characters to life well. Each girl had her own quirk and personality and while I couldn’t name them all for you, I never got them confused. The only criticism I have is that the first part of the book seemed really loosely bound to a timeline. It skipped around the girls going out for the fist time, trying new clubs, etc. Only once the Kingfisher was raided did it pick up a consistent timeline. I enjoyed it from then on, but it was two hours into an eight-hour story. I also think the description above gives you more than half the book, which is a bit more than you normally see in a description. Maybe don’t read it?

Jo was a great protagonist. She had a very strong personality and her maternal instincts were admirable. I believed each of the sisters as her own character, especially Lou and Ella. I thought their father was a bit hard to believe, but it was a fairy tale so some beliefs had to be suspended. The idea that he could have 12 daughters and be supporting them while interacted with no one, not even some servants, was unbelievable. Whatever he did, he was around the house a lot to be able to stop them from leaving in the middle of the day yet he was somehow very rich. I got the impression he was involved in some bootlegging, but Prohibition was established in 1920 and the crash of ’29 didn’t seem to have come yet. If they’d been dancing for around 10 years, he had to have money from somewhere else before he started bootlegging. OK, time to stop with my 1920s history now. Getting off the soapbox.

Though I liked Jo, Tom was my favorite character. He never pretended to be something he wasn’t and he was very giving. The first time he’s in the modern timeline, he’s helping Jo out of a tough spot, no questions asked. Without spoiling the ending, he does something for Jo that’s completely selfless and puts someone between them that they both care about very much, all at Jo’s insistence. He’s the kind of friend and partner I would want in any situation. On top of everything, he’s smart.

I think I related most to Jo. I only have one younger brother and have never been locked in the upper floors of my father’s house, but I led a group of 50 while in college. Trying to keep people from fighting and in step with the rules can be a challenge and I think I handled my group much like Jo. I was a bit of a militant, but only when we needed to be safe. She had a good leadership style that I appreciated.

Genevieve Valentine Image via the Author's Website

Genevieve Valentine
Image via the Author’s Website

I loved the ending. I’m going to talk about it here so if you haven’t read the book, skip this paragraph. I was glad that the story arc was finished when Lou came back and not when the younger twins were found or when their father died. It was a very fitting ending wich made me so happy. I was worried it would end sooner.

The beginning of the book was too muddled for me and it gave me a bad impression of the book. Later it was reversed, but it wasn’t the best place to start. It gave me the impression that there wasn’t much of a plot. I was worried about this being a cohesive story, but I was counting on that description to give me a plot.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Susie Berneis and I thought she did a good job. It was nothing outstanding, but she did a good job with voices, especially the father. He’s the only one who stands out to me as having a unique voice but with so many female characters, I’m not surprised.

The biggest lesson I got from this book was about family. A lot of books lately have dealt with the strength of non-traditional families and I like this message. Jo was a mother figure to all her sisters, even Lou, in the space their absent mother left. These were girls with no father and no one to raise them. To be honest, I’m wondering how they learned to read. But as soon as one of them learned, Jo would have been sure everyone else learned the same thing.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book had to walk a thin line between mystical and realistic. Of course, it’s a fairy tale retelling, but at the same time it’s giving a very concrete setting of New York City, a very tangible place. I think the beginning of the book was more mystical and the ending more concrete. I would have liked if these were blended more.

Entertaining and a great setting. Four out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine | Intellectus Speculativus
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, by Genevieve Valentine | Inspiration Struck
“I like boats.” – The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine | Lady Business

WWW Wednesday, 3-June-2015

3 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


HarryCurrently reading:  I’ve been working on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s reminding me that I need to practice my Spanish more, but I’m really enjoying the story. I hope to finish it this summer.
Good progress with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I think I’m finally getting somewhere with it and I’m liking it a lot more than I thought I would.
Slow progress with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I’m not engaged yet and I’m not sure how long it will take, but it’s a good morning read so far.
I’ve started a new audiobook on my phone which is Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli. It’s an oral history of the Harry Potter phenomenon as told by a leading fangirl. Not too far into it yet to judge, but I’ll be sure to report out soon.

KingfisherRecently finished: I got through two! The first was The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine which was an audiobook for me. I enjoyed it and gave it 4/5 stars. Review coming next week.
The second was The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff. It just wasn’t for me, unfortunately. I wasn’t really interested in the subject and I felt the narrative jumped around a lot so I wasn’t as interested as I would have liked to be. Oh well. 2/5 stars.

I’ve also got two book reviews posted since last week. Go check out my feelings on Waiting to be Heard by Amanda Knox and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

WidowReading Next: Still planning on it being A Widow for One Year by John Irving. This will be the next book to derail me from Sombra and, to be honest, I won’t mind.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 27-May-2015

27 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


BohemiansCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I really want to work on this one over the summer so I’ll be getting to it in the next few months.
Good progress with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’m not sure how far I am into it because the format I’m using isn’t very conducive to figuring that out. I guess it will end at some point?
I hope to finish The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine soon. I’m listening to it while I cook which will be more this week because my triathlon is over and I don’t have to worry about training for a bit.
I’m still a bit skeptical of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. So far, it’s interesting but not anything special for me. Reviews I’ve looked at said to wait until you pass the first section because then it becomes amazing. We shall see
I’m making steady progress with The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff. It’s a bit dry, but it’s a historical narrative so that’s to be expected. I hope to finish it soon and move back to some fiction. Also, the author favorited my #FF tweet, so that was awesome!

Recently finished: After finishing two last week, I’m not surprised I didn’t finish anything. I did get to a review for The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer so go check that out when  you have time.

WidowReading Next: Still planning on it being A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I hope to get it soon and read it second so I’m not the last of our group to read it this time!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 20-May-2015

20 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


CloudAtlasCurrently reading:  Minor progress on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Two more book club books coming my way so I can’t even promise I’ll get to this soon.
Still going with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’ve been having to make a lot of calls in my care lately or have been with someone else so I’ve slowed this down a bit. I hope to pick it up again soon.
Things are going more quickly with The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. The plot is moving very quickly and I’m really enjoying it.
I started a new eBook, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I’m really excited about this one because it’s been #1 on my TBR for about a year now. I tried starting it once  a while back and never made it past page five. I’m beyond that already now. This should be a fun ride.
I’ve got a new book club selection as well.  The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff. Not too far into it yet and I’m excited that it will help me fulfill the 1800s for my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I need to focus on this one more.

OceanRecently finished: I absolutely flew through Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox. I haven’t read a memoir in a while and it was really refreshing. Knox’s story is fascinating, even if what I read was biased and has been called into question. I hope to review it soon.
I also finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. This was a great little story. It was a bit more fantastical than I was anticipating, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

I wrote one review this week, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Take a look and let me know what you thought of these books.

WidowReading Next: My work book club selected our next book and it will be A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I’m stupidly excited for this selection because it’s off of my TBR and Irving is my favorite writer of all time. I can’t get my hands on it soon enough!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 13-May-2015

13 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


KnoxCurrently reading:  I was able to read just a little bit of La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Right now, it’s looking like I’ll have time for it more this summer but not much before then. Stay tuned.
Still going with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It’s good and I like it, but I’m not going to be moving very quickly through it.
I’m enjoying The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. I’ve gotten to the part that’s more of a story line and less of a generic flashback/back story. I like this a lot more.
I’m really enjoying my eBook, Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox. It feels good to be reading a memoir again and this one is really riveting.
My newest book club selection is The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It’s a nice short one I hope I can knock out in one week!

InnerRecently finished: I flew through my latest book club selection, The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. I enjoyed the fast-paced thriller even though it’s not normally my genre. I did find it a bit far-fetched, which is normally my complaint. Review coming soon.

I wore a review for The White Tiger that posted Monday. I’d been talking about this book for a long time and a lot of you asked about it so click over there to see my thoughts.

BohemiansReading Next: Next Monday I’ll get a copy of The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff. It’s our bi-annual non-fiction which I tend to either love or hate. We’ll see.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 6-May-2015

6 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


KingfisherCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’m hoping to get back to it really soon, though. I’ve sped through a few books so have some time to read this between book club selections.
Still going with A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’m liking it so far. I hope the story lines start to cross more because they seem a bit disjointed.
I’m enjoying The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. It’s pretty great and I’m sad that it’s only 8 hours.
I began a new book club selection, The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. The author is going to be in town soon to speak so there will be a few more posts on this book and this author. Stay tuned!
I just grabbed a new eBook, Waiting to be Heard: A Memoir by Amanda Knox. I haven’t read a memoir in a while and the Amanda Knox story sounds like a really good one!

White TigerRecently finished: I finished The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I didn’t expect to like it too much, but I did enjoy it. My book club discussion will hopefully be tomorrow and I’ll get to see what the other ladies though.
I also finished Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins which was my ebook for the past few months. It was very different from what I normally read and I liked the story but wasn’t a fan of the characters. I’m looking forward to writing a review on it and sorting out my feelings on it.

OceanReading Next: Nothing immediate, especially because I hope to work on ‘Sombra.’ In a few weeks, I’ll be getting a copy of The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman for book club. I’m excited to read my first solo Gaiman work. The only other one of his I’ve read was Good Omens, co-written with Terry Pratchett.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-April-2015

29 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


White TigerCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Please don’t be mad. I want to finish this and I will return to it.
Steady progress with Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I’m close to the end but know that I’m nowhere close to the end of this story. It’s obvious this first book will barely touch the tip of the iceberg in the series.
I’ll be a long time reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It’s been a good journey so far, but I’ve only just begun. Not sure how long this is going to take, but I’m guessing a while.
I finally started The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga! Yes, after such a long wait, I’ve finally started. So far, it’s alright. The narrator has a very strong voice that makes the whole thing really fun.
I’m unable to cook without an audiobook now so I started another on my phone, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. My amazing friend Katherine suggested this one to me because it’s set in the 1920s and she knows how much I love the 20s. So far it’s really fun. I’m excited to get more into it.

DarklyRecently finished: I finished A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick last week. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was ok. Review coming next week.

Speaking of reviews, I posted two this week. I reviewed Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling on Monday and posted a review for Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell yesterday. Take a look and tell me what you think!

Reading Next: My book club met Monday and our next book is going to be The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. This is part of the ‘Everyone’s Reading’ program so I’m sure there will be some other posts about this book. I hope I enjoy it!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

19 Jun

So it’s been a while since I wrote one of these posts. Over two months actually. And in that time I’ve added nine books to my shelf. And in the same time period, I’ve read 11. So, a net loss of 2 books per two months or one book per month. That means that at this pace, it will take me 112 months or 9 years and 4 months to clear out my shelf. Yikes. So with that sobering fact, I bring you a list of books I want to read badly enough to lengthen my list. Enjoy!

  1.  Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan: I added this solely because a librarian said I might like it. I figured that’s a good enough reason. It’s a literary wives story, this time with Robert Louis Stevenson.
  2. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: I think saying ‘I haven’t read this yet and I’m sorry’ should suffice.
  3. Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie: A co-worker of mine visiting from Mexico gave this to me as a parting gift. It’s the Spanish translation of The A.B.C. Murders and I’m excited to read it! I haven’t read Christie before.
  4. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri: I went to a massive used book sale called ‘Bookstock’ and this was one I couldn’t pass up. Lahiri has gotten a lot of attention lately for her books and I wanted to jump on the fan train. This book is about a family emigrating from India to America.
  5. A Widow for One Year by John Irving: Have I said enough yet about how I love John Irving? No? Well, I’ll say it again here. I adore him. I don’t even know what this book’s about and I don’t care. But I can bet there will be a life-long obsession with something, wrestling, bears, tragedy, and strange characters. And I’m excited.
  6. The Coward by Kyle R Bullock: Kyle was the first author to send me a request to read on my author’s page. So of course, I said yes. This trend will likely not continue in the future but Kyle is my lucky #1. The story is about a cowardly pilot during World War II.
  7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: I’ve been hearing great things bout this one for ages. And this is available as an audiobook at my library so it was an easy decision to add. Winning.
  8. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: I went to meet the author on 11 June and needed something for him to sign. I picked this up in a second-hand store and now it’s priceless to me!
  9. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: This is totally Katherine’s fault. She read it because it has fairy tales and knew I’d like it because it’s set in the 20s. Done.

And that’s it! Hopefully I don’t come back in two months with even more books! I know it’s a day early, but check out MizB’s ‘Friday Finds’ for more posts like this one.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!