Sisi: An Empress on Her Own Book Review

I am haunted. Haunted by someone who died over 100 years ago. Haunted by someone who was misunderstood but revered after her death. I am haunted by Sisi, one of the most beautiful women of her time. The longest-reigning empress of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

For my fifth wedding anniversary, my husband and I decided randomly one night to choose two cities and visit them less than a week later. I suggested Prague and Vienna not knowing much about the cities. I won’t go into much detail now about my Prague trip, but when we left Prague and arrived at night in the Vienna train station, I initially wanted to hop back on the train and go back from whence we came. I wasn’t prepared for the grand imperial city–I was expecting something older–not something partially reconstructed after the world wars.

I’m so glad I stayed for I fell irrevocably in love the next day. I fell in love with the city that Sisi hated. I toured the Hofburg Palace–luxurious but with rooms smaller in scale than you would expect for a large palace. I saw Sisi’s bathroom where she spent hours and hours at her toilette, taking care of her floor-length hair. I saw her workout equipment that she used to maintain her 18-inch waist. I saw Emperor Franz Joseph’s small desk from which he controlled an empire. I saw the Sisi Museum–filled with artifacts from a woman who was hated in the Viennese press during her lifetime, but upon her assassination, was exalted to almost god-like status.

My eyes took in richness beyond belief from a world that will never return again.

Almost four years later, I was vaulted back into this world that I did not want to leave in 2013.

Sisi by Allison PatakiSisi: An Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki did that to me. For a short while, this Memorial Day weekend, I became a member of Sisi’s inner court. I almost became Sisi. I felt her emotions, her melancholy, her quest for happiness in a world that she felt “sold” into when she became an empress at the age of 16. An infatuated young woman too naive to know the constraints and criticisms that would barrage her for the rest of her life. A young woman unprepared for her husband to cheat on her, unprepared for her mother-in-law to steal her elder children; a young woman who could control nothing but her physical appearance which she spent most of her waking hours religiously (if not unhealthily) preserving.

Allison Pataki created a masterpiece–one I am in awe of and can’t quite let go of. Pataki’s superb research brought Sisi to life. I walked to the Gloriette at Schönbrunn Palace with Sisi. I stood at Neptune’s fountain with Sisi. I felt the weight of her corseted gowns fall over my body as I felt suffocated by yet another court event. Allison breathed life and emotions into real words that the empress and emperor actually uttered to one another. Fiction and fact were intertwined so richly that you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.

My friends, if you are ready for a book that will not leave you–pick up Allison Pataki’s Sisi. This New York Times bestseller is on special right now for Kindle, but honestly, you’ll love this book so much you’ll want to get it and it’s prequel (The Accidental Empress) in hardcover. The covers are gorgeous and must grace my bookshelves. I don’t generally re-read books, but this one–I will. On a scale of 1-5 stars, I give this 10 stars. My highest praise ever.

You won’t be disappointed. Join me in being haunted by Sisi: An Empress on Her Own as you enter her world, which I share a glimpse of below.

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My signed copies of "The Trouble With Dukes" by Grace Burrowes and "A Christmas Bride" by Hope Ramsay. Note the duck in my terrarium! :D

Hello, it’s me. I’m back to blogging if you would like to see…

Hello, it’s me.
I was wondering if after all these months you’d still like to meet
and go over everything…

Ah Adele. I love her “Hello” song. My husband might go crazy while I listen to it all of the time on our Google Home, but he loves me enough to put up with my obsessive compulsion to listen to the same music for weeks straight before moving on to something else!

I can’t believe that it’s been 5 months since I last posted. I’ve wanted to, but I’ve just been swept up living in a bookish world–not that I’m complaining. 🙂 It’s pretty awesome that my job is that I get to work with books. Honestly, I don’t know how I got to be so blessed to a part of the book publishing industry. I’m the type of person who loves something for a short time, then typically moves on to a new passion. Books have always been a constant in my life, and I know I won’t ever get tired of being around them all the time.

Being in the book industry has some unexpected perks, too. For example, several months ago I got to see THE SHACK movie before it was released earlier this month to theatres everywhere. My imprint, FaithWords, publishes that book so we’ve all been working hard to promote the book and the movie.

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Fan-girling with Hope Ramsay (left) and Grace Burrowes (right)

I also had a fan-girl moment when I met Hope Ramsey and Grace Burrowes who happened to be visiting our Hachette office. You can see how happy I was in the picture. They were kind enough to sign their newest books for me, too. I’m still looking forward to read Hope’s A Christmas Bride–I’m saving that for the 2017 holiday season. Grace’s new book, The Trouble with Dukes, has a Scottish, kilt-wearing duke who is forced to become a part of English society. Of course, for me lately, any time you mention kilts I have to whip out my favorite picture of David Tennant wearing a kilt, which sparked quite a lively (albeit swooney) conversation in the room. My, my. I sure wish my husband would wear a kilt!

Besides reading a shameful amount of romance books this past 6 months, (shameful because I never read anything but romances it seems!), I also have become a self-taught quilter. I’ll post about my quilt another day, but I wanted to share with you all a quick story:

One evening after work, I had my unfinished quilt top in my work bag as I headed over to a local quilt store, Gotham Quilts, to buy some fabric. As I got off the train around the Macys/Herald Square area, I noticed a poor little pigeon who was going around hitting his head on the ground. If you follow my quilt, you guys know that I’m an animal lover. I particularly have a fondness for cats, chickens, geese…well, the list goes on. I immediately knew something was wrong with this poor pigeon and kind of sat back observing him as I tried to figure out how to help him. Rude, uncaring people just kept walking right towards the bird expecting him to move when he obviously was unwell. One person kicked him, and I gave that person a piece of my mind. At that point, I decided to sacrifice the back of my quilt fabric and tossed it over the pigeon. I immediately scooped him up in my arms and started walking towards the train to take him the 50 blocks north to Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife rescue organization that I prayed would still be open that late since no one had answered the phone. On the way to the train, I stopped into Duane Reade to get a box from a kind employee to put the bird in to make sure he stayed safe.

When I got to the subway, I realized I had a bit of a predicament. I couldn’t hold the box AND take out my metro card to get through the turnstile. I struggled for a minute trying to figure this out, but finally realized I needed help. I found a nice, relatively normal looking girl that looked approachable, and like a crazy person, asked if she liked pigeons. She looked askance at me a moment and said something like “I guess so.” I asked her if she’d do me a favor and hold mine for a moment while I swiped my card.

Guys, I wish you all could have seen her face! I bet she never expected someone to ask her that.

Pigeon and I found a nice spot on the train and our ride went fairly swiftly. Thankfully when we arrived at the Wild Bird Fund, some wonderful volunteers were still working and took the bird in to see the doctor. The doctor quickly diagnosed the bird with either 1 of 2 things: Either the bird had lead poisoning, which was treatable, or an incurable virus that could spread to other birds. I prayed it was the former but, in case it was the latter, I decided to not follow up because bad news would have left me heartbroken. Instead, I left the bird in their capable hands and prayed for it over the next few days.

By the way, I would be utterly remiss to all of my goose fans if I didn’t mention this HUGE, HUGE, HUGE gray swan that calmly set at the doctor’s feet as he performed an examination of the pigeon. This was the largest bird I might have ever seen, and he just sat there mostly asleep with his neck tucked into his wings. I truly stood there contemplating taking a photo of it for my blog, but I figured that wouldn’t be a tad unprofessional since the organization was kind enough to let me in after hours. I was having a hard time not going all coochie-coochie-coo over the swan and the assortment of ducks just waddling around the waiting room, stretching their legs now that the organization was closed for the evening.

Well, I guess that is all for today. I am determined to do something this weekend other than just sitting on my couch with my computer and/or a book. I do have some more reviews lined up for some books I requested on NetGalley, so stay tuned. Happy April everyone!

5 Reasons to Celebrate National #ReadABookDay

1. It’s a valid excuse to get out of housework.
2. You can curl up with your cat (okay, fine… and dog…) to get some lap snuggles.
3. Pumpkin spice lattes are back. Reading+ PSL=Nothing Better (unless you add #2 to this equation).
4. Lots of big name authors have a new book getting published in September. Go pick up your favorite author’s latest book or discover a new author!
5. We all need a break from celebrating Labor Day yesterday. It was so…laborious!