Review: The Dreamers

December 14, 2018

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

the Dreamers 2

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopian, YA

The Dreamers Summary:

Virus. A remote college town in the hills of drought stricken California sets the scene for this story and a strange illness/virus that causes its victims to fall asleep and experience vivid dreams. No one can wake the first college age victims and soon the virus spreads throughout the town, randomly affecting young and old alike. The town is quarantined and the National Guard is called in to enforce the quarantine and monitor supplies. The Dreamers is a story about the people affected and their reactions and actions.

My Thoughts:

Thanks #netgalley and #randomhouse for my free copy of #thedreamers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Dreams. Have you ever had a dream that was so real that you had difficulty orienting yourself to a wakeful state? Have you ever pondered the meaning of your dreams? Have you attempted to make sense of your dreams? Do you think dreams can predict the future? Or have you wondered about the passage of time while you sleep? Have you even been asleep briefly but had a dream that seemed to last a long time? Have you experienced dreams about people who are no longer alive?

Unique. The Dreamers came to me at exactly the right time. Usually science fiction is a genre I’m tempted to pass over. Yet, I’m thrilled I took a chance on reading The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker. Even though I don’t read a lot of science fiction, I became intrigued by several reviews of The Dreamers from respected reviewers on Instagram, Goodreads, and in blog posts and I was very much in the mood for something different. Once I noticed this title, I knew I had to see for myself! I hope you, too, will give this unique story a chance.

Not Too Weird. Because I don’t typically read science fiction, I truly appreciate the mild nature of this character driven story. There’s nothing too weird, grotesque, or frightening. The strange illness that causes victims to suddenly fall into a deep sleep from which they cannot be awakened strikes young and old alike and at random. Some victims sleep longer than others and as the epidemic spreads from the college students and throughout the town, it’s a challenge to keep all the patients alive under quarantine conditions. As victims wake up, they report having vivid and realistic dreams and a few struggle with the meaning of the dreams and have difficulty adjusting to life outside of the dream state. The virus disappears as mysteriously as it appears. the prose is lovely, and the story told from multiple points of view is a quick read, engaging, bittersweet, and thought provoking.

Sleep. The Dreamers causes you to think about your own crazy dreams and about how you and your city would react in any crisis. Considering the dire circumstances, it’s a fairly gentle read as the college students and the town’s residents succumb to the most routine and ordinary part of a typical day….falling asleep. The eerie part is that they might fall asleep while mowing the lawn, making dinner, or walking the dog. For a few nights after finishing the story, I certainly thought about closing my eyes as I lay on the sofa or as I fell asleep for the night. If you have difficulty sleeping or experience troubling dreams, this might need a trigger warning. The story is like an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Recommended. The Dreamers is a heartwarming story of community, individual survival, and neighbor helping neighbor. I highly recommend this story for readers who are looking for something a little different, for those who enjoy a mild science fiction selection with a touch of psychology and philosophy, and for fans of beautiful writing and a compelling story line. It would make a great vacation read, buddy read, or book club selection. I was left with a few unanswered questions though as the cause of the virus and the recovery are never fully explained.

Pub Date: 1/15/2019

My Rating: 4 Stars

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The Dreamers

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson WalkerKaren Thompson Walker is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Age of Miracles, which has been translated into twenty-seven languages and named one of the best books of the year by Amazon, People, O: The Oprah Magazine, and Financial Times, among others. Born and raised in San Diego, Walker is a graduate of UCLA and the Columbia MFA program. She lives with her husband, the novelist Casey Walker, and their two daughters in Portland. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Oregon. Her second novel, The Dreamers, will be published in January 2019.



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post my review of Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed. Isn’t the cover striking?! This is a Middle Grade historical fiction selection and a diverse read.



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books

In movie news….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing”!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Reading Challenges: Thinking Ahead to 2019

Have you ever considered a reading challenge? Here are the reading challenges I’m considering for the 2019 reading year. The first three are wonderful challenges for any reader. The last one is geared toward reviewers who are members of NetGalley or Edelweiss.

Modern Mrs Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge (very broad, doable categories that might provide some stretch in your reading life)

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app)….the link is to my 2018 challenge….the 2019 challenge will be available at the first of the year.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (especially great for bloggers and reviewers who want monthly link up opportunities)

NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge (link up opportunities for members of NetGalley and Edelweiss)



 Let’s Discuss

Do you like books that are outside your typical genres? Do you enjoy science fiction?

Are you finding time to read in December?!

It’s time to start thinking about your best read of the year!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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Review: Dear Mrs. Bird

December 8, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird by A J Pearce

Dear Mrs Bird 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, WW11

Summary:

Emmy Lake has two goals: to be useful in the war and to become a war correspondent.

Quite a Character. Emmy Lake is an adventurous and highly spirited young woman who accidentally becomes an assistant to Mrs. Bird, a well-known advice columnist for a women’s magazine. Emmy is also helping the war effort by volunteering three evenings a week as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. Her greatest dream is to become a war correspondent, and she hopes that her day job at the magazine will lead to an opportunity with the newspaper. As she devotes all her effort to writing and answering phones and helping to plan her best friend’s wedding, the bombs continue to fall and cause damage in their neighborhood. Emmy faces ethical dilemmas at work and after one especially devastating bomb drop, her friendship with her dear best friend, Bunty, also seems beyond repair. Will Emmy’s strengths and her impulsiveness be the cause of her greatest failures?

Early Amazon rating (December): 4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:

Light Hearted. Dear Mrs. Bird is a quick read and has quite a lighthearted tone for WW11 historical fiction. It has an old-fashioned vibe and uses the language of the time period effectively to enhance sense of place. Even though the tone is light, the realities of war are not avoided. Emmy is a delightful and capable young woman filled with spunk and an enthusiastic spirit. She approaches every problem and dilemma with a great deal of optimism and impulsiveness. In fact, she comes across as too cavalier sometimes and it kept me from forming a strong connection with the character. Emmy, though, has the best intentions, is willing to take risks to do the right thing, is a hard worker, idealistic, and a loyal, encouraging, and supportive friend.

Editing Choices. This falls under personal preference….one aspect of the book that is bothersome to me is the frequent use of capitalization to emphasize Certain Words or Phrases and inconsistent punctuation of dialogue. Once I notice strong stylistic elements like this, I can’t overlook it and it begins to affect my reading experience. It’s not necessarily negative, just distracting.

Plot. Dear Mrs. Bird is a page turner, and I was engaged by wondering what Emmy would do next, if they would be safe, how her actions at work would play out, and if the friendship could be saved. Although not necessarily a HEA (happily ever after) which for me saves it from the chick lit category, problems are neatly resolved and it’s inferred that the future might be bright.

Recommended for historical fiction fans that are looking for a ‘lighter’ read featuring a spunky, persistent, and independent woman. This would be an interesting book club selection and could be an appropriate gift for a woman on your holiday shopping list: a mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, or best friend. I think it’s an overall enjoyable and solid read.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Dear Mrs Bird

Buy Here

Meet the Author, A J Pearce

A J Pearce

 

AJ Pearce grew up in Hampshire and studied at the University of Sussex. A chance discovery of a 1939 woman’s magazine became the inspiration for her ever-growing collection and her first novel Dear Mrs Bird. She now lives in the south of England.

 



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post my review of The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker (releasing in January). Very different from my usual reads!



My Fall TBR

I FINISHED ALL the books on my Fall TBR list! Usually I can’t get to every book on my list, so I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment. My winter TBR will post on December 21.



Links

Check Out My Gift Ideas For the Readers on Your Holiday Shopping List!

“Everyone Gets a Book!”

gift stack of books

In movie news….

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing”!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Do you like books that are written with a lighter tone for a change of pace?

Are you finding time to read in December?!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: Kingdom of the Blind

November 30, 2018

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Kingdom of the Blind 2

Genre/Categories: Mystery, Detective, Crime Fiction, Canada

Summary:

In this recent installment of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Armand Gamache remains suspended from the Surete du Quebec, but this doesn’t stop him from searching for a murderer, serving as liquidator for a mysterious woman’s will, and hunting for missing drugs (an unresolved story line from the previous book). All the usual characters return and a few new ones are introduced. Three Pines retains its reputation and status as a safe sanctuary and caring community.

My Thoughts

First Thoughts. I’ve waited all year for this highly anticipated release. At first, we were not sure there would be a new installment as Louise Penny suffered the loss of her dear husband. However she surprised publishers and fans by writing in spite of her grief and found joy in the process. Part of the reason writing this installment was difficult is because she based the Chief Inspector Gamache character on her husband. In fact, she was quoted as saying that she created Armand Gamache as someone she could be married to because she knew she’d be spending many years with him.

Even though the plot is complex and the characters well drawn and the sense of place vividly described, this will not rank as among my favorites of the series. Last year’s was a stand out and I rounded up my 4.5 rating to 5 Stars on Goodreads. This story didn’t quite hit that high mark. For me, the difference between a four and a five is the emotional engagement factor. Last year’s had that for me and this year’s did not. Although, it is a solid and recommendable read…especially for fans of the series.

compelling character

For November’s Most Compelling Character, I’ve chosen Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. He’s one of my favorite characters from all my reading in the past several years and certainly a favorite from this month.

“Chief Inspector Lacoste regarded the steady man [Gamache] in front of her, who believed everyone could be saved. Believed he could save them. It was both his saving grace and his blind spot.”

Above all, he’s a kind and compassionate person, always looking out for the vulnerable and watching out for the innocent and unprotected. We empathize with Gamache and his desperation to find the lethal drugs that went missing at the end of the last story. We realize that he is tortured with the thoughts of the damage it will inflict on the community and will take desperate measures to secure the drugs. In addition, we appreciate his frustration and disappointment as he lives with his suspension. As we read the story, we admire Gamache for his brilliance and courage.

Symbolism. In addition to the memorable and honorable Chief Inspector Gamache character, I love the community of Three Pines and the symbolism as a place of safety, solace, and comfort. A place where vulnerable, troubled, and hurting souls are cared for, comforted, kept warm, and fed.

Observation. What intrigued me in the story was the clear juxtaposition of the two streets: the street that housed the financial institutions and the indirect comparison with the street where the poverty stricken, prostitutes, and drug dealers lived. So close to one another but worlds apart.

Plot. Louise Penny is a masterful story teller and pulls readers quickly into the story. Although the middle bogged down a bit, the ending was tension filled and contained a couple of plot twists (one of which I predicted). What I admire the most about the author is her ability to balance a character driven story with a plot driven story. Whereas most stories can be defined as either character driven or plot drive, this series is both. To me, these are the best reads and explains why the series has enjoyed overall popularity and success. There’s a plot twist at the end that left me speculating about the continuation of the series (although the author has given no reason to suspect that this will conclude the series).

For an overview of the series and a review of last year’s release, see this post.

Rating. What kept me from awarding Kingdom of the Blind a full five stars? Partly this is personal preference as I was less than fully engaged with the financial story line. I found myself skimming through the sections that involved detailed discussions of tracking the money. Also, I thought the dialogue was a bit stiff in places and the interactions and conversations seemed a bit repetitive or rehashed from past stories. Finally, I didn’t think the two story lines meshed together well because they were very different with little connections between them. It was almost like two separate books.

Recommended. Kingdom of the Blind is definitely recommended for fans of the series, and for readers who enjoy stories with a moral and kind main character, and for those who appreciate mostly gentle mysteries and detective stories (minimal profanity, some tension but usually no graphic violence). *I recommend reading the series in order starting with Still Life. It is possible to read them as stand alones but richer when you have the full context and background. In my opinion, some stories are stronger than others and you can see my star ratings for each one on my goodreads account (books read shelf). Overall, the series is popular with many readers.

My Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Kingdom of the Blind

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Louise Penny

Click Here: CBS This Morning Interview With Louise Penny

Louise Penny LOUISE PENNY is the #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels. She has won numerous awards, including a CWA Dagger and the Agatha Award (five times) and was a finalist for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. She lives in a small village south of Montréal.

 



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

I’m working on a bookish Holiday Gift Guide….Coming soon!



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often! I have only one more book to read and I’m waiting for the library hold to come in. So I’ll be finished with my Fall TBR soon!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Are you a fan of the Chief Inspector Gamache series? If you’ve read some of the installments, which have been your favorites?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: The Colors of All the Cattle

November 16, 2018

Where are my faithful readers of this series?!

the color of all the cattle 2

The Colors of All the Cattle by Alexander McCall Smith

Genre/Categories: Gentle Mystery, Amateur Sleuths, Botswana

Summary:

The Colors of All the Cattle is the nineteenth installment of this charming, easy reading series. All the usual characters are present, reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana. In the newest story, Mma Ramotswe reluctantly runs for political office, battling long-time adversary Violet Sephotho. Using the honest slogan, “I can’t promise anything–but I shall do my best,” Precious Ramotswe is torn between wanting to do her duty, not disappointing her supporters and friends, and being in the public spotlight. In this story, we find Charlie becoming more mature, and we experience again the wisdom, graciousness, honesty, good humor, kindness, and thoughtfulness that is exemplified in the main character, Precious Ramotswe.  Along with the unfolding of this story and interactions between beloved characters, we are treated to beautiful descriptions of Botswana.

My Thoughts:

cup of tea

“Tea, thought Mma Ramotswe–no matter what was happening, no matter how difficult things became, there was always the tea break–that still moment, that unchangeable ritual, that survived everything, made normal the abnormal, renewed one’s ability to cope with whatever the world laid before one. Tea.”

Series Overview. In the most soothing of ways, this story is predictable to the other stories in the series: readers grow to appreciate the beauty of Africa (Botswana is almost a character in the story); there’s always time for a cup of tea at work or at home; and the characters are likable, quirky, and warmly drawn. Mma Ramotswe, founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others and breaks for tea). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices. The books in this series need to be read when you’re in the mood for a slow-paced, character driven story with an abundance of reflection and description. It could be classified as a gentle, cozy mystery and a true comfort read. It seems that we always feel like we can be better people after spending time with Precious Ramotswe.

Loyal Fan. Once I begin a beloved series, it’s difficult for me to let it go. So, I’m still reading the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series nineteen years later! Who’s still reading this series with me?

Beloved Characters. Throughout the series, the same familiar characters appear in each book, so reading a story is like a visit with old friends. We are able to appreciate the ways in which the characters mature and how relationships deepen. In this story, Charlie emerges and we get to know him a bit better. The safety that he experiences when Mma Ramotswe takes him into her home helps us infer a lot about his childhood.

Diversity. One of the aspects I appreciate most about the series is the glimpse into the beauty and culture of every day life in Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith was born in Africa and lived and worked in Botswana for a time, and this enables him to write and make observations with an informed, nuanced, and authentic voice.

Plot. Most of the stories in the series are character driven. For me, the ones with a bit more plot (e.g. #18) are the most enjoyable. Even though the stories are heavily character driven, there is a mystery to be solved in each story, and in that respect the stories can be read as stand alones.

Themes. Important common themes appear throughout all the stories in the series, and they include compassion, kindness, graciousness, reflection, good manners, forgiveness, and inclusiveness. Readers also hear the author’s voice as he provides gentle commentary on universal issues. In this story, he offers thoughtful reflections on politics.

Recommended. I think these books can be read as stand alones (but, of course, they are richer with all the context gained from earlier stories). I can recommend The Colors of All The Cattle for fans of the series, for readers who might be looking for a character driven, gentle, relaxing, uplifting, clean read (no violence, offensive language, sex, etc.), and for those who are looking for a cultural reading experience featuring Botswana. Alexander McCall Smith does what he sets out to do really well. My recommendation comes with one qualification: I did enjoy #18 more than #19 because it was more plot driven. If you haven’t read any of the series and want to try one, I’d recommend #18 over this one. Find my 4 star review here: The House of Unexpected Sisters. If you’re looking for an intense, suspense filled thriller and unputdownable page turner, this might not be the series for you.

My Star Rating: 3 Stars

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all the colors of the cattle

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

 



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE bonus content!

Have you voted in the 2018 Goodreads Awards?  Final voting is Nov 13-26. To vote, follow this link. Honestly, I’m discouraged with this year’s voting because my favorites of the year didn’t make it to the final cut in most categories. Did yours?

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year. Of course, the movie is never as good as the book so don’t miss this important read.



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m seriously considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life! I’ve heard though that it’s a gritty read in places. I’m on a six month hold for this at the library, so I’m deciding whether or not I want to buy it.

In Pieces

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine, and today’s review makes ten, out of my twelve titles (two more to go!).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Are you a Mma Ramotswe fan (No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series)?  I’d love to hear if you’ve read the early books in this series.

I’d love to hear updates on your November reading! Do you plan to read a nonfiction selection? If I’m going to accomplish this goal, I need to decide on a read this week!

In addition to nonfiction, I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27! So many books, so little time!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: The Invention of Wings

November 9, 2018

Friday Favorite

Today in lieu of reviewing a new release, I  am chosing to revisit an old favorite which I read years before starting this blog. (thanks for the inspiration Sandy’s Book a Day blog!)

I’m highlighting an old favorite because my last two reads were disappointing and I’ve decided not to write full reviews….however, you can find them mentioned later in this post.

Friday Favorite: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

invention of wings 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Abolition of Slavery, Women’s Rights, African-American, Plantation Life

Summary:

The Invention of Wings is a fictionalized biographical account of the Grimke sisters as they become trailblazers in the abolition movement and early leaders in the fight for women’s rights.

The story takes place in the pre Civil War era and begins on a plantation in Charleston. On the occasion of Sarah Grimke’s eleventh birthday, she’s presented with her own slave, ten-year old Hetty “Handful” Grimke. Sarah has always been uncomfortable with this tradition. At first, Sarah and Handful are more like sisters and playmates as they develop a friendly companionship. As the story progresses, Sarah leaves Charleston to join her adventurous and fearless sister, Angelina, in the north as early pioneers in the fight for abolition and women’s rights. We follow Sarah’s and Hetty’s journeys for thirty-five years as both women strive to carve out a life of their own and navigate a close and complex relationship.

Amazon Rating (November): An amazing 4.7 Stars from over 12,000 reviews

My Thoughts:

The Invention of Wings has been a favorite for years, and it’s always at the top of my recommendation list. If you missed reading this or are looking for an excellent book club selection, I highly recommend this story! Pictured below are my dearest reading buddies from book club day.

book club

We all enjoyed this intense, powerful, and amazing story based on the real life Grimke sisters.

Memorable characters. The story is told through dual, alternating perspectives as we follow the lives of Sarah and Hetty and learn of their fears, hopes, and dreams. From an early age, Sarah exhibits a strong sense of social justice and equality (evidenced when Sarah teaches Hetty to read), and later we see her straining against her family’s and society’s expectations for a southern woman as she makes decisions to speak for abolition and fight for women’s rights. Through Hetty aka “Handful,” we experience the cruel treatment of slaves and also learn about her cultural heritage on her mother’s side. Each character faces limitations put on them and learns she is stronger than she thinks.

Unputdownable. Every reader’s experience is uniquely her own, and I found this story absorbing, engaging, thought-provoking, well researched, and unputdownable. I particularly love stories about real people doing daring, visionary, and brave things under difficult circumstances and against the odds. Although this story is highly fictionalized, it helps us find the heart and soul behind historical facts.

Themes. Any book that becomes one of my favorites includes important themes. A few of the poignant themes in The Invention of Wings includes the brave fight for freedom, finding your voice, loss and sorrow, the injustice of inequality, the fight to make the world a better place, complicated relationships, friendship, sisters, family, determination, loyalty, hope, daring, and empowerment.

Recommended. The Invention of Wings is highly recommended for fans of Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees), for readers of historical fiction, for those who appreciate inspirational stories of strong, independent women, and for readers looking for an engaging book club selection.

Don’t miss this important story!

 

My Rating: 5 Stars

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invention of wings

Buy Here  (I suggest looking for the original non annotated version, not the Oprah annotated version)

Meet the Author, Sue Monk Kidd

sue monk kiddSue Monk Kidd’s first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, spent more than one hundred weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has sold nearly six million copies, and was chosen as the 2004 BookSense Paperback Book of the Year and Good Morning America’s “Read This!” Book Club pick. It was adapted into an award-winning movie in 2008. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, a #1 New York Times bestseller, won the 2005 Quill Book Award for Best General Fiction and was adapted into a television movie. Her novels have been published in more than thirty countries. She is also the author of several acclaimed memoirs and the recipient of many awards, including a Poets & Writers Award. She lives near Charleston, South Carolina.
Photo from Goodreads.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE  bonus content!

Have you voted in the 2018 Goodreads Awards? Voting in the semi final round started this week (Nov 6-11). Final voting is Nov 13-26. To vote, follow this link.

I love this inspirational Thanksgiving post over at The Thankful Heart…..a thoughtful reflection, a recipe for “pumpkin twists,” and craft ideas for the littles!

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year.



Disappointments:

bridge of clay

Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief).  was not the book for me, and I can’t recommend it. It’s a long and tedious read at almost 500 pages,and is sprinkled with abundant offensive language and tragic and sad events. Although written beautifully in some places (Zusak is a master of figurative language and vivid descriptions), it’s obscure in others and sometimes entire sections left me confused. Fans of Zusak have been waiting thirteen years for a new book, and I fall in the group of fans that find this poignant story a disappointment. It’s also confusing that the target audience is YA, and I have difficulty envisioning this for them. I’m aware that reading is a personal experience and others have loved Bridge of Clay. Read more reviews here as you make your reading choice.
Two Stars.

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Find my brief Goodreads review here.

harry's trees

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen was my second meh read this week. Others have really loved this, so I chalk this up to “not my preferred genre.” It resembles a fairy tale for adults and includes some magical realism (not my favorite). Usually I enjoy a quirky story and adore quirky characters; however, the story was simply a mediocre read for me and I didn’t love it. I found myself bored and skimming frequently. I kept reading to the end because I wanted to find out what happened, thus three stars. Every reader’s experience is different and its early Amazon rating is 4.5 Stars, so I encourage you to check out more reviews here.
3 Stars
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Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m seriously considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life! I’ve heard though that it’s a gritty read in places.

In Pieces

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine out of my twelve titles (three more to go!).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Have you read The Invention of Wings? Please leave a comment and tell me what you thought.

What are your reading plans for November? Do you plan to read a nonfiction selection?

In addition to nonfiction, I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27!

And my easy comfort read will be Alexander McCall Smith’s recent #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency installment #19, The Colors of All the Cattle. Are you a Mma Ramotswe fan?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

November 2, 2018

Do you love lighthouses?

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

***Celebrating my 100th read of the year!***

The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Summary:

Inspired by true events, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter shares the story of Grace Darling, an extraordinary young woman who helps her father keep the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands off the coast of northeast England. One day in 1838 during a furious storm, Grace and her father rescue nine shipwreck survivors. Grace gains notoriety and finds herself the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. The dear friendship that develops between Grace and one of the survivors and the survivor’s brother continues to impact lives 100 years later.

In 1938 at another lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, nineteen year old Matilda is sent away from Ireland in disgrace to live with a distant relative who happens to be an assistant lighthouse keeper. As Matilda stumbles upon an old chest containing artifacts from her family history, she uncovers the story of Grace and the connections Grace has to Matilda’s great-great-grandmother. Although Matilda’s part of the story is pure fiction, the hurricane that hits the east coast of the U.S. in 1938 is historic.

Author, Hazel Gaynor, creates strong connections between two time periods and two story lines including hurricane events of 1838 and 1938, complex connections between past and present family members, and lighthouse themes between the stories.

Amazon (Early) Star Rating (November): 4.3 Stars

My Thoughts:

It’s always challenging to write a review when there’s so much to say!

Stars. First, I awarded this story all the stars because it is an engaging page turner with a complex plot, poignant themes, inspiring and well drawn characters, and the story tugs at the emotions. Any time I’m left with a bit of a reading hangover, I know it’s a 4 or 5 star read. While it’s a solid 4.5, I bumped it up to 5 on Goodreads because of the excellent writing.

Characters. One of Hazel Gaynor’s strengths is in creating and writing about strong, memorable female characters. Grace Darling is a real person and a good portion of the story explores the true events that surround her life. In the 1830s, she remarkably takes on responsibilities at the lighthouse that are usually assigned to men. In fact, she can take care of the lighthouse as well as her brother can and has more passion for the job, yet at that time in history, the assignment of lighthouse keeper is given to her brother. Grace also shows initiative in rescuing and caring for nine shipwreck survivors. Grace is a heroine and a role model for women in 1838. Her courage and determination inspired an independently minded and troubled Matilda later in the story.

Even the brave were once afraid. The sum of generations of strong, courageous women who came before her, an echo of them all lingering in her soul.

While Grace is a real person, the strong women characters we meet in 1938 are fictionalized, but they represent the work that women accomplished as lighthouse keepers. All four women characters in this story are brave and formidable as they draw strength from each other.

The inspiration Matilda is able to draw from Grace and the strong women in her family, reminds me how grateful I am for the strong generations of women in my own family. I think the spirit of courage, bravery, and determination is passed along from generation to generation. Do you have stories of strong women in your family?

Even though the connection between all the characters comes together neatly in the end, I feel it is a touch too coincidental, convenient, and easy……but still emotionally rewarding.

The Wikipedia article on Grace Darling can be found here; however, I recommend NOT reading it until after you’ve read the story to avoid spoilers.

Plot. A complex and multilayered plot, multiple perspectives, two time periods, and two locations will keep you engaged! I enjoyed how the two different time periods complimented each other in setting, family ties, facing hurricanes, and the characterizations of strong women.

Setting. If you love the sea and lighthouses, you will absolutely love the settings described in this story. Author Hazel Gaynor creates a delightful sense of place in both England and Rhode Island seaside locations. Even the detail of the collected shells connects both story lines.

Themes. Inspirational themes abound in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, and if you read my reviews you know that the presence of important themes often make or break my reading experience. I can overlook a lot in the presence of great writing and themes. In this story, poignant themes include father/daughter relationships; the lighthouse as a symbol of protection, guidance, safety, and protection; found family; strong and independent women finding their way and their voice; and family heritage.

Writing. In addition to the compelling story lines, you will enjoy excellent writing. I love a story in which I can appreciate the beautiful writing but it doesn’t interfere with the story. The writing flows as the author creates vivid images, memorable characters, and transitions between story lines. Hazel Gaynor is also the co author of the Last Christmas in Paris, one of my favorites of the year.  She has secured a place on my “auto buy” author list!

Lighthouses. Do you love lighthouses? Do you have a favorite lighthouse location? Do you have a nostalgic lighthouse story?

My personal lighthouse story: Several years ago my hubs and I traveled to York, Maine so that my hubs could meet his biological sister for the first time in his life! The Nubble Lighthouse is well loved by his sister’s family, and now it’s our favorite too! Here’s a pic my hubs and I took in front of the lighthouse marking the occasion of birth siblings reunited!

nubble lighthouse

Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine

 

Recommended. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, for fans of stories with important themes, for those who savor stories of strong, independent women, and for all who are looking for an engaging and well written story.

My Star Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads)

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lighthouse keeper's daughter

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Hazel Gaynor

Hazel GaynorHAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from the Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she has published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

Did you  see the results of the PBS Great American Read? Who did you vote for? I voted for Gone With the Wind (which came in at #6).

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year.



Looking Ahead in Fiction:

I’m in the process of reading: Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief).  It’s a slow read for me and I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it before it’s due back to the library in three days, and in that case I’ll be reviewing Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen next week.

 

 

 

 



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life!

In Pieces

 

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine out of my twelve titles (three more to go!).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Do you have a favorite lighthouse location or lighthouse story?

What are your reading plans for November? I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

 

Review: The Clockmaker’s Daughter

mysterious….atmospheric…..supernatural…..complex….

October 26, 2018

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

clockmaker's daughter 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Supernatural

Summary:

Told in present and past timelines and from multiple perspectives,  The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a multilayered story with a mystery to unravel. In the present day, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel which contains a mysterious sketchbook and an old photo. Elodie is curious about the drawing of the twin-gabled house situated on the bend of the river thinking that it resembles the house from a favorite fairy tale she heard from her mother, and she’s drawn to the beautiful and mysterious Victorian woman pictured in the photo. As Elodie proceeds to investigate the items, a voice that stands outside of time transports readers to the 1860s and the life changing event that happens in the summer of 1862.  During that summer, artists meet at the twin-gabled house on the Thames, known as Birchwood Manor, to relax and inspire their art and creativity. Instead, they experience the unpleasant circumstances of a murder, a missing person, and a stolen family heirloom. Her name has been forgotten by history, but Birdie Bell, the clockmaker’s daughter, watched it all unfold.

Amazon Early Rating (October): 3.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

Sometimes reviews are difficult to write and this is one of those times. I think part of what affects a read is the expectation the reader brings to the experience. This is one of my most anticipated reads of the fall, and I wrestled more than usual with my star rating.

First, Kate Morton is an “auto buy” author for me…..I’ve enjoyed her previous work and, without too much deliberation, I trust the next title will be an engaging and meaningful read. In other words, I automatically request her next title from the library or buy it on Kindle without pouring over reviews. That being said, I find that this is not my favorite of her work (other reviewers’ opinions differ!). However, if you’re like me and a devoted Kate Morton fan, I urge you to give this a try. It was an OK read for me….unique and interesting…..however, it most likely won’t make it to my best of the year list.

Writing. The Clockmaker’s Daughter is well written, ambitious in scope, skillfully constructed, atmospheric in a Gothic way, and establishes an amazing sense of place with exquisite period and setting details. Kate Morton is a masterful story teller. I can easily see this as a movie!

Plot. I love a challenging, complex story line and The Clockmaker’s Daughter doesn’t disappoint! The concern for me is that the author devotes at least 60% of the book to developing the back stories of multiple characters. I didn’t have a great deal of difficulty tracking them, except the one that was introduced at the 50% mark was difficult to orient (but by then I was growing weary of getting to know new characters and was eager to see how the mystery would unfold). Readers may want to know that the plot includes supernatural elements. A bit more action in the plot would have boosted my star rating.

Characters. Kate Morton characters are interesting and well drawn.  A majority of the book is devoted to the past timeline. This falls under personal preference, but I would have liked a bit more time spent on present day characters. For a while in the middle of the book, I feared that the author had forgotten about them.

Length and Complexity. At almost 500 pages in length, it takes time for this story to unfold. The author requires the reader to work for the clues that tie the story line together, so in that sense it’s not an easy read. In addition, it takes some concentration to connect the characters from different time periods. I’m a reader who enjoys this type of challenge, but for me the reading started to feel a bit like a task and I was tempted frequently to check my percentage completed at the bottom of my Kindle page.

Themes. Important themes include time, abandoned children, love and loss, family history, and art. I appreciated Morton’s references to time throughout the story. It’s a creative and thoughtful thread that weaves the various storylines together with the title.

Recommended. Devoted fans of Kate Morton’s will want to have this newest release on a TBR list. Readers who love supernatural elements in their stories will enjoy this aspect of the reading (I’m not a huge fan of supernatural). Of course, there’s also a great deal to appreciate from a historical fiction perspective. Book clubs and readers participating in “buddy reads” may appreciate the discussion possibilities in this story. Overall, this is an interesting and unique story and a solid read (although a bit long). Other reviewers have raved about The Clockmaker’s Daughter, so check out some other opinions!

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Clockmaker's Daughter

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Kate Morton

kate-morton.jpgKate Morton was born in South Australia and grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature and lives now with her family in London and Australia. Kate Morton has sold over 11 million copies of her novels in thirty-four languages, across forty countries. The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House have all been number one bestsellers around the world. The Clockmaker’s Daughter is her sixth novel.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!

Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

Did you  see the results of the PBS Great American Read? Who did you vote for? I voted for Gone With the Wind (which came in at #6).

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year.



EXTRA Review

Last week I indicated that I was reading The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay (ARC from #stmartinspress). This is the author who wrote Sarah’s Key, and many readers are looking forward to this new release. I’ve rated it 3 stars. Find my Goodreads Review Here.



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

I’m currently reading two books: Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief) and The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor (The Last Christmas in Paris). I’m not sure which review I will have ready for next week. Also, which ever book I finish this week will be my 100th read of the year!

 



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Are you a Kate Morton fan?

I’d love to hear what you think about The Clockmaker’s Daughter when you read it.

Do you have a favorite Kate Morton title?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: Becoming Mrs. Lewis

October 19, 2018

Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan

 

Becoming Mrs Lewis

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Romance, Christian

Summary:

Struggling with an unhappy marriage, her writing career and health, and matters of faith, Joy Davidman begins writing to well-known author, C.S. Lewis (Jack). Joy and Jack are both writers and poets and experience a robust and heartfelt correspondence through which they develop a warm and intellectual friendship. Soon, Joy takes a break from her unpredictable, angry, drunken husband and travels to England in hopes of restoring her health, finding inspiration for her writing projects, and meeting C.S. “Jack” Lewis. After spending time with Jack and enjoying a mutual fondness, Joy begins to realize her growing love for him. Despite a lack of personal financial resources and continuing heartbreak over her circumstances, Joy finds the courage to risk it all and the voice to end her marriage and move permanently to England. Through her great friendship with Lewis she finds enduring love, a trusted friend and confidant, and a true writing partner. During this time in history (50s), Joy’s independence and decisions regarding her marriage and children were most likely questioned. In addition, Jack received critism for his involvement with a divorced woman. However, we know that Jack called her “my whole world” and upon her death he wrote his popular “A Grief Observed.” In this biographical historical fiction you will be treated to a poignant love story along with beautiful descriptions of England and bookish references.

Amazon Rating ()ctober): Early Ratings: 4.6

My Thoughts:

Many of us read the beloved classic The Chronicles of Narnia as youngsters and some of us have read more of C.S. Lewis’s work. Maybe you’ve heard of the remarkable love story between C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman or have seen the movie Shadowlands.

In this well researched story, I wasn’t sure what to think at first of Joy Davidman and had difficulty reconciling the Joy we know as the great love of C.S. Lewis with her early portrayal in the story. These are a few of the statements by Joy Davidman about her early love life that caused my concern:

Whom did I choose to first seduce?

I’d thought that…conquering him would satisfy me.

It wasn’t love. It was obsession. The compulsion to own him along with a clawing need to prove I was worthy of such notice.

I’d pursued men with embarrassing veracity. Obsession and possession confused with love.

My design included needing men who could not and would not have me, especially older men.

In addition to questioning Joy’s motives when it comes to love, it’s easy to criticize Joy for decisions in her first marriage and family, but she’s remarkable in her independence, her pursuit of meaning, her courage to take a risk, and her honest reflection about her past history with love. As we learn about Joy’s childhood home and parents, we grow to understand more about Joy and appreciate the actions she takes and her desire to grow. I think her sincere efforts at self reflection are admirable.

Life is complicated for Joy Davidman and C.S.Lewis. Although separated by an ocean, seventeen years difference in age, and individual traumas, love is powerful. She observes:

With Jack it’s not the list or conquest or obsession, “It’s the feeling of finally coming home.”

If you’re familiar with the C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman narrative, I can promise you that there’s more to learn in the pages of this story. It’s fascinating to explore their relationship which involves a respect and admiration for the other’s intellectual and creative endeavors, a shared love of nature and the mystical, a deep friendship, as well as romance. Jack and Joy are soul mates!

Recommended for fans of C.S. Lewis, for readers who appreciate stories of determined, risk taking, and independent women, and for those looking for a new historical fiction read or an inspiring romance. You will enjoy descriptions of the English countryside and discussions about books as well.

Additional Materials to supplement your reading experience:

If you read and are fascinated by the real life relationship portrayed in Becoming Mrs. Lewis, you will want to watch or rewatch Shadowlands (click for movie trailer).

A Grief ObservedIn addition, you may be interested to read A Grief Observed, a work by C.S. Lewis documenting his grief journey.

Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moment,” A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This work contains his concise, genuine reflections on that period: “Nothing will shake a man — or at any rate a man like me — out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself.” This is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings. ~Amazon

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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becoming mrs lewis

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan

Patti Callahan (who also writes as Patti Callahan Henry) is a New York Times bestselling author. Patti was a finalist in the Townsend Prize for Fiction, has been an Indie Next Pick, twice an OKRA pick, and a multiple nominee for the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) Novel of the Year. Her work has also been included in short story collections, anthologies, magazines, and blogs. Patti attended Auburn University for her undergraduate work and Georgia State University for her graduate degree. Once a Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist, she now writes full time. The mother of three children, she lives in both Mountain Brook, Alabama, and Bluffton, South Carolina, with her husband. Visit her online at patticallahanhenry.com; Instagram: pattichenry; Facebook: AuthorPattiCallahanHenry; Twitter: @pcalhenry.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

To supplement my review of The Tattoist of Auschwitz found here, I have found this brief YouTube video clip of Lale The Tattooist of Auschwitz in his own words.

It’s timely (considering this week’s post) to announce that Netflix is set to develop a series and films based on C.S. Lewis’ beloved THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA.

Under the Sycamore: International Day of the Girl
(conversation starters)

Do you plan to see The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer.



EXTRA Review!

Dear reader, I’m not sure if we share a mutual love for Middle Grade fiction or not, but in case we do, here’s a recent review!

4.5 stars.
Louisiana's Way Home.jpg:::::sigh::::: I LOVE a great middle grade read from time to time! Do you? If you are experiencing a reading slump I think reading fabulous middle grade titles is a great remedy! Stories like Louisiana’s Way Home explores heavy content without the YA angst or offensive language or graphic violence of adult literature. Usually these middle grade stories can be read in one day (2 at the most). Check my middle grade Goodreads shelf for more great MG recs!

Louisiana’s Way Home is an engaging and ultimately heartwarming story that explores themes of homelessness, belonging, abandonment, finding a family to love you, foster care, friendship, caring adults, determination, loss, hope, disappointment, etc.

A suspension of belief is required to classify this story as realistic fiction. Goodreads reviewer Joe suggests that this story is a modern fairy tale in which a young person experiences danger, evil, and unfortunate circumstances but in the conclusion all ends happily.

Reading this story challenges me to be that adult who watches out for kids…to be the person who is ready and willing to secure their welfare, to offer a safe place or warm gesture, to offer kindness instead of disapproval or criticism.

You will love Louisiana, a unique, wily, memorable, and unforgettable character.



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

I’m reading and will be reviewing next week The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. I’ve read mixed reviews from trusted reviewers so I’m eager to see what I think.

Clockmaker's Daughter

I’m also reading The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay (ARC from #stmartinspress).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Are you familiar with the C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman love story? Have you seen Shadowlands or read A Grief Observed?

Are you a Kate Morton fan?

Do you read Middle Grade Fiction?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

October 12, 2018

Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Tattooist of Auschwitz 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Holocaust, WW11

Summary:

Based on the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov, two Slovakian Jews who meet at Auschwitz, this is a story of the determination to survive, hope, sacrifice, courage, and love. Lale is assigned to tattoo identification numbers onto the prisoner’s arms as they arrive in camp, and this is where he first meets Gita. This assignment gives him some privileges such as a bit of freedom and some extra food which he shares with the most desperate prisoners as he is able. His actions are extremely risky but he is able to save the lives of many prisoners. In the course of his time at camp, he falls deeply in love with Gita, and he is determined to ensure her survival as well. After liberation, Lale and Gita marry, have one son, and establish a home in Australia. They live a private life, and it is after Gita dies that Lale chooses to tell his memorable story.

Amazon Rating (October): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a great deal of WW11 historical fiction. Each story is as compelling as the next. All the stories need to be heard. What makes The Tattooist of Auschwitz even more compelling is that the author was able to spend three years interviewing Lale Sokolov.

Despite being caught in a desperate and heartbreaking situation, Lale is able to survive in the camp because of his pleasant and positive personality, his sheer determination to live, his cunning and courage, and his remarkable attitude. Throughout this compelling story, Lale takes risks, makes sacrifices, and generously shares what he can to help others. Lale’s personality reminded me a little of Pino’s positive attitude in Beneath a Scarlet Sky.

A page turner, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is written in a straightforward way and in a simple story telling style. Its tone is lighter in comparison to some other Holocaust stories I’ve read (although there are obviously some sad passages).

Recommended for fans of WW11 historical fiction, for readers who appreciate fictionalized  versions of true stories, and for those who enjoy an unforgettable character and an unputdownable story filled with courage and hope.

Here’s a brief YouTube video clip of Lale The Tattooist of Auschwitz in his own words. Tissues required.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars (3 stars for writing, 5 stars for a compelling story, themes, and memorable character)

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tattooist of auschwitz

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Heather Morris

Heather MorrisHeather Morris is a native of New Zealand, now resident in Australia. For several years, while working in a large public hospital in Melbourne, she studied and wrote screenplays, one of which was optioned by an Academy Award-winning screenwriter in the US. In 2003, Heather was introduced to an elderly gentleman who ‘might just have a story worth telling’. The day she met Lale Sokolov changed both their lives. Their friendship grew and Lale embarked on a journey of self-scrutiny, entrusting the innermost details of his life during the Holocaust to her. Heather originally wrote Lale’s story as a screenplay – which ranked high in international competitions – before reshaping it into her debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

Under the Sycamore: International Day of the Girl
(conversation starters)

Maple-leaf1

Several years ago I visited the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, CA and was privileged to hear a Holocaust survivor give her talk. It was memorable and unforgettable. I hope that you can hear a similar first hand account if you haven’t already.



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

I’m reading and will reviewing Becoming Mrs. Lewis next week.

becoming mrs lewis

These two books are patiently waiting their turn: Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen and The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay (ARC from #stmartinspress). Just a couple of the good ones I have my eye on!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Do you read frequently in the WW11 histfic genre? Even though I love the genre, it’s not easy reading and can take an emotional toll.  Each time I think I may be finished with the genre for a while, another compelling story from an interesting perspective comes along!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing

September 28, 2018

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

where the crawdads sing 2

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Southern Fiction, Coming of Age, Family Life, Survival

Summary:

Living in the marsh outside a quiet, small town on the coast of North Carolina, Kya Clark, later known as the “Marsh Girl,” is abandoned by her entire family and learns to survive in the marsh on her own from the age of ten. One by one her older siblings abandon the family, her mother leaves when Kya is about seven, and finally her father, a difficult, unreliable, and drunk man, leaves when she’s ten. Kya attends school for one day after a truant officer catches her. On that day, she is teased by the students, knows she’s hopelessly behind academically, and never returns. Preferring the isolation and safety of the marsh, she learns what she can through observing nature. Although she can survive on her own, she begins to long for companionship as she reaches her teen years. Two boys from town attract her attention. One of them turns up dead, and she is suspected of murder. The other becomes a life long supporter and friend. A coming of age story with a fair share of tragedy, mystery, and grit, this is an unforgettable read you’ll want to devour and recommend.

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

While I loved Where the Crawdads Sing, this story might not be for everyone and comes with trigger warnings for some child neglect and abandonment.

What I loved most about the story is its structure and style. It is atmospheric and engaging from the first page to the last. In addition, it’s an easy reading narrative that flows well and is pleasingly balanced between character driven and plot driven. The author creates an amazing sense of place and a memorable and unforgettable character. As a bonus, the author’s background as a wildlife scientist enables her to include many fascinating scientific facts and details about the marsh.

This story came to me at the right time as I was in the mood for an intriguing, well written, page turner, and Where the Crawdads Sing did not disappoint! It will most likely appear on my best of 2018 list.

Along with an emphasis on science and the marsh habitat, the author creates vivid and colorful local characters that enhance the story and includes a surprising plot twist at the end!

compelling character

Kya Clark is certainly September’s most compelling character. Resourceful, brave, cunning, a gritty survivor, and clever, Kya creates a life for herself despite the most difficult and disheartening circumstances. There is a person in town that she learns to trust and who becomes as important to her as a father. He watches out for her the best that he can which is difficult because he’s African-American and is dealing with issues of hate and segregation in his own life. He understands Kya and respects her freedom and her need to live her life on her terms even though she’s so young. Despite Kya’s ability to create a life for herself as a wildlife artist and illustrator and is eventually able to trust herself to love, there is a plot twist at the end that will force you to reevaluate Kya and the decisions she’s made.

Themes in the story include belonging, abandonment, survival, trust, coming of age, family, and caring for others. There’s a great deal to reflect on or to discuss (if this is a book club pick) as the story unfolds.

Recommended for readers who are looking for an engaging and unique story with a strong female protagonist. It would make an excellent book club selection because of the various discussion possibilities. *Triggers for child neglect and abandonment.

If you have a blog post about your most memorable character of the month, please use the link below or share in the comments.

My Rating 5 Stars

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where the crawdads sing

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Delia Owens

delia owensDelia Owens is the co-author of three internationally bestselling nonfiction books about her life as a wildlife scientist in Africa including Cry of the Kalahari.

She has won the John Burroughs Award for Nature Writing and has been published in NatureThe African Journal of Ecology, and many others.

She currently lives in Idaho. Where the Crawdads Sing is her first novel.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Looking Ahead:

This week I’m reading an ARC of The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain (pub date: 10/2). It’s different from my usual genres: heavy on science fiction (time travel), a bit of hisfic (as the characters travel between 1970 and 2018), and some suspense. I would characterize this as an escapist read! Full review coming soon.

dream daughter

I’m also ready to begin The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris because my library hold came in. (taking a deep breath for this heavy read)

tattooist of auschwitz



A Link I Love

Books to movies this fall.



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

What have you been reading in September? Who is your most memorable or unforgettable character from your recent reading? (link up a blog post or share in comments)



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.