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.

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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.

 

October’s Most Compelling Character

October 30, 2018

compelling character

Each month I bring you a most compelling or unforgettable character of the month. In October’s last days I’d like to remind you of Lale Sokolov, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Lale is the main character in the first book I read in October and no character has come close to over taking Lale as the most memorable character of the month.

Tattooist of Auschwitz 2

Find more information about The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris here.

Find the full review of The Tattooist of Auschwitz here.

Meet Lale Sokolov

Lale in his own words.

Lale is a Slovakian Jew who survived Auschwitz with cunning, determination, courage, a positive attitude, a winsome personality, a hopeful spirit, and his true love. He takes risks to help others and generously sacrifices his extra food portions to feed a few who are at risk of dying from starvation. Lale meets the love of his life, Gita, while they are both prisoners at Auschwitz. He assumes the grave responsibility for her safety and promises her a future……. that they will survive and enjoy a life together outside of Auschwitz. He has enough hope, determination, and courage for both of them.

One of the aspects I appreciate about the story is hearing Lale’s honest and candid reflections about what went right and what went wrong and his angst about some of the decisions he made. Most worrisome for him is his concern that he might be seen as working with the Nazis in his role as the tattooist. In addition, he wrestles with guilt over the benefits he receives from that assignment, but then he realizes that the extra freedoms and extra food he receives can be used to help others.

Although the writing is less than beautiful in places, the content, compelling story line, and unforgettable character make this inspiring fictionalized biography a must read. You will never forget him. It’s important to hear as many stories as possible from the survivors while we have them with us. The author spent three years interviewing Lale when, near the end of his life, he finally felt compelled to tell his story for history.

When reading these types of stories, it causes me to reflect on what I would do in similar circumstances. Would I have the courage to be a Lale and risk everything to help others, and could I have held on to the hope of survival in a Nazi prison?



Please share your most memorable character from your October reading in the comments.



I’ll be back tomorrow with my October Wrap Up!



Happy Halloween to everyone celebrating!
pumpkins

Image from Pottery Barn

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.

The Dream Daughter

October 5, 2018

Review: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction (time travel), Historical Fiction, Mothers/Daughters, Adoption

Summary:

Readers meet Hunter and Caroline in 1970 when Caroline is a physical therapist and Hunter is a rehab patient. Caroline and Hunter become friends and in time he marries her sister. In fact, Caroline moves in with them and their young son after her husband dies in Viet Nam. Not only is Caroline a young widow, she’s also pregnant. During a routine ultrasound a problem is discovered with the baby’s heart. In 1970, the heart defect brings a dire prognosis for the baby. Because Hunter comes from the future, he creates an idea for saving the baby that will require all of Caroline’s courage, bravery, and determination. It’s a story filled with hope, love for family, and sacrifice.

Amazon Rating: 4.6 (early reviews)

My Thoughts:

Thank you to #netgalley #stmartinspress for my free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What would you do to save your daughter?

If you’re looking for an engaging escapist read with a touch of histfic, the intrigue of time travel, a good measure of suspense, and a poignant mother/daughter theme, then I recommend The Dream Daughter! It does not disappoint!

Some of you are fans of Diane Chamberlain’s work. I believe this is the first of her books that I’ve read. From what I’ve heard, The Dream Daughter is a bit different from her previous work although her focus on themes of family remain strong. I imagine that it must have been challenging and exciting to construct the complex timeline found in this story.

Science fiction/time travel is not my usual genre, but I enjoyed this story. I can especially recommend it as a great selection for when you are traveling or vacationing or need a palate cleanser and are looking for a unique, light, engaging, fast-paced read. For me, it was the perfect read in between heavier histfic reads. Although time travel is a part of the plot, the main focus of the story revolves around a mother and what she will do to save her child.

Caroline Sears is a memorable character for her bravery, determination, problem solving ability, and commitment to family.

I spent time thinking about the meaning of the title. My current thinking is that Dream Daughter might refer to the fact that the majority of her relationship with her daughter is in the time travel dimension (like one might experience in a dream). If you’ve read this, what are your thoughts about the title?

This might be a delightful and enjoyable book club selection.

Possible triggers: difficult pregnancy, adoption

My Rating: 4 Stars

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dream daughter

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Diane Chamberlain

diane chamberlainDiane Chamberlain is the New York Times, USA Today and Sunday Times bestselling author of 26 novels published in more than twenty languages. Her most recent novel is the genre-spanning The Dream Daughter. Some of her most popular books include The Stolen Marriage, Necessary Lies, The Silent Sister, The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes, and The Keeper of the Light Trilogy. Diane likes to write complex stories about relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends. Although the thematic focus of her books often revolves around family, love, compassion and forgiveness, her stories usually feature a combination of drama, mystery, secrets and intrigue. Diane’s background in psychology has given her a keen interest in understanding the way people tick, as well as the background necessary to create her realistic characters.Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.Diane received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She’s currently at work on her next novel.Please visit Diane’s website at http://www.dianechamberlain.com for more information on her newest novel, The Dream Daughter, and a complete list of her books.


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:

I’ve read and will review The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris next week.

tattooist of auschwitz

These three books are begging to be read next: Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen, Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan, and The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay (ARC from #stmartinspress). Just a few 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

Is the time travel element in a story interesting to you?

Which books are you most excited to read this fall?



***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.

Review: Clock Dance

September 7, 2018

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

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Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Domestic Life

Summary:

In Clock Dance, Anne Tyler provides a compelling characterization of Willa Drake from a childhood with an unpredictable mother, to her college years and engagement, to her later years as a young widow rebuilding her life, and, finally, to her senior years which find her longing for attachment, family, and a place to belong. In this bittersweet journey, readers root for Willa as she experiences grief, renewed hope, and new direction for her life.

Amazon Rating (September): 3.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

Background. Sometimes it helps to go into a read with low expectations. I had read only two of Tyler’s works before this and I was left underwhelmed. Even though Anne Tyler masterfully creates well drawn characters and is well-known for her beautiful, nuanced writing, I need a bit of a plot to keep me engaged.

Because I admire Tyler’s writing and one of my favorite literary reviewers (Modern Mrs. Darcy) recommended this book on her Summer Reading Guide, I decided to give it a try…but with low expectations.

Surprise. It was a pleasant surprise to find myself engaged with this quiet, bittersweet story of an ordinary woman’s life. I was able to relate to her on several levels and the author provided just enough plot to keep me reading.

Read Alike. In some respects this story reminds me of Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. If you’ve read both, please let me know what you think of this comparison! One difference is that, for me, the resolution is more satisfying in Clock Dance than it is in Britt-Marie.

Connections. Reading is a personal experience and the ability to make some connection with a character or a situation makes all the difference! That’s why I always encourage readers to give books a try for her- or himself. I’m glad I gave this a chance!

Recommended. Although there are mixed reviews of this book and it’s not one I recommend for everyone, it’s one that I recommend trying if you love beautiful, nuanced writing and well drawn characters. Readers who appreciate a quiet story of an ordinary woman finding her voice might appreciate this. Also recommended for fans of Britt-Marie Was Here.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars (rounded to 4 stars on Goodreads)

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clock dance

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Anne Tyler

Anne TylerAnne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is the author of more than twenty novels. Her twentieth novel, A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD, was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2015. Her eleventh novel, BREATHING LESSONS, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.



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 Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read all but three on the list, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

This week I plan to finish Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and bring you a review next Friday.

just mercy

Amazon Information Here



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 enjoy quiet, character driven stories? What are some that you’ve read and enjoyed? Are you a fan of Anne Tyler? Do you have favorite books by her?

Are you looking ahead to fall reading? I have quite a fall TBR list that I’m eager to share with you!



***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 Map of Salt and Stars

August 31, 2018

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

The Map of Salt and Stars 2

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Mythology, Folk Tale, Magical Realism, Coming of Age, Syrian

Summary:

The Map of Salt and Stars is really two stories. One story is contemporary and the other is a mythological folk tale that takes place 800 years earlier. In the contemporary story, Nour’s mother, a Syrian-American, a cartographer and painter of beautiful maps, decides to move Nour and her sisters from New York City back to Syria after the death of Nour’s father. The mother feels a strong desire to live closer to her family. After they arrive in Syria, they experience effects of the civil war evidenced by protests and shelling in their quiet neighborhood. When a shell destroys Nour’s home and neighborhood, she and her family and a close family friend of her father’s are forced to flee as refugees across seven countries of the Middle East and North Africa in search of safety.

The story within the story is a favorite folk tale that Nour’s father told her over and over again as a young girl. Nour loves the main character in the folk tale, Rawiya, who becomes an apprentice to al-Idrisi, commissioned by King Roger II of Sicily to create a map of the region. Rawiya follows al-Idrisi on a journey across the Middle East and the north of Africa where they encounter a mythical beast and fight epic battles.

There are strong connections between the two stories as Nour and her family are forced from their home to travel the identical route that Rawiya traveled eight hundred years earlier. Throughout the journey, Nour remembers and is inspired by the heroine of her favorite folktale as she faces similar challenges and fears.

Early Amazon Rating (August): 4.5

My Thoughts:

There’s a lot to like about this story!

Favorite Quote: “[King Roger] explained that he often came to the library at night. He motioned to the shelves of books, their spines polished gold, tawny brown, and russet leather. ‘Anyone who wants company and knowledge will find what they seek here,’ he said. ‘We are among friends.’ ”

Connections. Throughout the larger story, the two separate stories are connected in several ways. A few examples:

  • The characters in each story take a journey, have adventures, experience heartache, redefine the meaning of family, and hold out hope for ‘home.’
  • Both characters disguise themselves as boys.
  • Both girls grieve over the loss of a beloved father.
  • Nour’s mother is a map maker and painter while Rawiya is an apprentice to a map maker.
  • Both girls leave home and face grief on their journey.
  • The stories have some similar plot devices (one example among many is that Nour leads her family to safety [remembering the way to her father’s friend’s house] after their neighborhood was bombed and Rawiya saves her small expedition from a huge white attacking bird).

Themes. The story is filled with poignant themes including grief, beloved fathers, dangerous journeys, the comfort of stars, faith, and the search for home.

The Writing. Beautiful descriptive writing and sensory details fill every page of this story creating a memorable sense of place. Readers who appreciate figurative language will enjoy creative and descriptive phrases including fresh and unique similes, metaphors, and personification. The symbolism of salt and stars also encourages thoughtful reflection.

compelling character

Each month I designate the most compelling character of the month, and in August I’m honoring Nour and Rawiya  from The Map of Salt and Stars as this month’s most memorable characters. ***Link Up below

Meet Nour and Rawiya

Both main protagonists in The Map of Salt and Stars are young girls (coming of age). Nour and Rawiya are strong females with leadership qualities and are compelling characters (Cooler reviewers than me would call them “badass girls.”)

  • Nour is a bit melancholy, seriously reflective and thoughtful, has color Synesthesia, appears to have a photographic memory, exhibits leadership abilities, and is brave and daring.
  • Rawiya is fearlessly confident. She is best described in the following quotes:

When Khaldun (a young man) doubts that he can throw a stone high enough to kill Roc, the giant white mythological bird, Rawiya quietly and confidently says, “Perhaps I can.”

When she was discovered as a girl, she challenged her critics, “You once said I had courage, heart. That heart still beats. The body that cradles it is no large matter.”

…and my favorite….

I am a woman and a warrior,” Rawiya said, her blade cutting into his club. “If you think I can’t be both, you’ve been lied to.

Recommended. I highly recommend The Map of Salt and Stars for readers who appreciate historical fiction and stories set in diverse cultures, for those who seek stories of strong, independent, confident girls, for readers who would like an ambitious blending of a contemporary and a mythological story (with a bit of magical realism added to the mix), and definitely for readers with Syrian heritage. Even though this story is categorized adult fiction, I think mature middle grade girls and young adults who are looking for literary role models would be engaged by this story and be inspired by the female protagonists.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

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map of salt and stars

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Meet the Author, Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

Jennifer Zeynab JoukhadarJennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is a Syrian American author. Originally from New York City, Jennifer was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. She is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) and of American Mensa. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon ReviewThe Saturday Evening PostPANK MagazineMizna, and elsewhere. Jennifer is a 2017-2020 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Program Literary Arts Fellow and an alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net.



Link Up for August’s Most Compelling Character

(Please share your most memorable character from your August reading by Linking Up a blog post or in the comments)



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



 Links I Love

Do you enjoy TV and/or a Netflix binge as well as reading? Do you have a favorite series or favorite episodes? I thought this was a great link to explore to see if the episodes listed match yours! 100 Best TV Episodes of the Century



My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a good portion of the list (crossing off one more next week), some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

Over the weekend, look for my August Wrap Up post.

Next Friday, I hope to bring you a review of Anne Tyler’s Clock Dance.

clock dance

Amazon Information Here



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 enjoy the story within a story structure?  One book I read with this same story within a story structure was Fredrik Backman’s And My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She Was Sorry. 

Are you looking ahead to fall reading? I have quite a fall TBR list that I’m eager to share with you!



***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.