Cloud Cuckoo Land [Book Review]

September 27, 2021

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (cover)

Genre/Categories/Settings: Myth/Historical Fiction/Science Fiction/Contemporary/Literary Fiction mashup, Books About Books, Libraries/Librarians, Constantinople, Idaho, Spaceship

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @ScribnerBooks for a complimentary eARC of #CloudCuckooLand upon my request. All opinions are my own.

Some books are daunting to summarize and review. This is one. I apologize for the longer than usual summary.

Cloud Cuckoo Land is four stories in one. The stories involve three different time periods and genres and one myth (a story within the stories).

One story is set in the 1400s in Constantinople. There are two main characters. One is a poor thirteen-year-old orphan girl who lives and works with other women who embroider the robes of priests. Anna is curious and exhibits an insatiable desire to learn to read. She discovers the ancient manuscript of the story of Aethon who wants to be turned into a bird. The other main character is Omeir, a village boy who lives outside the walls of Constantinople. He has a cleft palate and is an oxen whisperer. One day he is forced to join an invading army and sets out with the soldiers toward Constantinople. His path will cross with Anna’s.

Another story is set five hundred years later in a library in Idaho. In this contemporary story, Zeno is eighty something and volunteers at the library and right now he’s helping children rehearse for a play adaptation of the ancient story of Aethon. He will cross paths with a troubled teenager, Seymour, who has planted a bomb in the library shelves as a statement about the environment and the endangerment of Owls.

The third story is set in the future and is about young Konstance who is on a spaceship called the Aros. Her favorite story is one her father has told and retold about Atheon.

The fourth story is a myth about Aethon and his fascination with the city in the clouds and his quest to be turned into a bird.

The @PulitzerPrizes author of Cloud Cuckoo Land hops between the stories and time periods with great finesse and frequency.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

The Dearly Beloved [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

September 16, 2021

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
#throwbackthursday

Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall (cover) Image: white text over the graphic image of a tree with long reaching limbs....all against a blue background

Genre/Categories/Setting: Literary Fiction, Marriage, Friendship, Faith, 1960s Manhattan

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing a compelling drama of marriage, friendship, and faith, The Dearly Beloved: A Review. My best read of the year in 2019.

Recently, I reviewed Gilead and explained why I think it is literary fiction; The Dearly Beloved is another example of literary fiction.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Four very different individuals (two couples) navigate relationships, marriage, children, faith, career, ministry, crisis, joy, friendship, forgiveness, uncertainty, understanding, and heartbreak. The couples meet in the 1960s when the men, Charles and James, accept positions as co-pastors of the Third Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The relationship between the couples is strained because the wives are polar opposites: Lily is a loner and an atheist and Nan values connection and is a devout Christian. In this tender character-driven story that covers decades of life, we also learn the backstory of each individual.”

One Favorite quote: “While she was away, they had been able to forget the accident. When she returned, they had been forced to pick up their rakes of grief and drag them along the ground.”

A thoughtful story of faith and doubt, hope and disappointment, friendship and marriage, career and family….

Continue here for 10 reasons why I loved The Dearly Beloved…



QOTD:

Have you read The Dearly Beloved or is it on your TBR?

Gilead [Book Review] #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge

August 20, 2021

 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (cover) Image: white text over the graphic image of a bluish tree)

Genre/Categories/Setting: Literary Fiction, Pulitzer Prize, Fathers and Sons, Family Life, Rural America and Small Towns

I’m linking up today with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the August installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge

Gilead has been on my virtual bookshelf for years! When I heard about this challenge, I thought this Pulitzer Prize book might be perfect to read! My husband and I both read and enjoyed Gilead, and it has earned a place on both of our lifetime favorites lists. We definitely want to continue with the next three books.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Pulitzer Prize 2005. New York Times Top-Ten Book of 2004. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Marilynne Robinson writes the quiet story of three generations of fathers and sons. faith, and rural life.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Meet Me at the Museum [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

March 18, 2021

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
#throwbackthursday

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson (cover) Image: text in a wood frame...2 raspberries peek into a corner; frame sits on a plain seafoam green background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I look forward to sharing my review of a reflective story, Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson, in which strangers become friends.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?

“Told in epistolary format, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.”

Letter writing: “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways.”

Continue here for my full review of Meet Me at the Museum ….



QOTD:

Have you read Meet Me at the Museum or is it on your TBR?

Tomorrow Will Be Better [Book Review] #classics

December 11, 2020

Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith

Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith (cover) Image: a sepia tone picture of a row of Brooklyn apartments

Genre/Categories: Classic Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Vintage, Young Adult

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Thanks #HarperPerennial @HarperPerennial for a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Written 70 years ago and set in Brooklyn 100 years ago, Tomorrow Will Be Better is a timeless, coming-of-age story of love and a young marriage, of poverty and hardship, of hope and second chances. Margy Shannon hopes optimistically for a better life than her parents. Weary of living a life of hardship with her quarreling parents, she dreams about landing a well paying job, finding a loving husband, and establishing her own home.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Hamnet [Book Review]

September 25, 2020

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (cover) Image: portrait of a young boy in a felt hat....a quill lies horizontally over his eyes

Genre/Categories: Historical and Biographical Literary Fiction, Family Life, Magical Realism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

TW: Review mentions the death of a child.

Summary:

Hamnet is set in 1580s Warwickshire, England and is the highly imagined story of William Shakespeare’s family, especially his son, Hamnet, and his wife, Agnes (Anne). It’s the story of a marriage and family. Shakespeare and Agnes had three children. It’s also a story of grief as we know from history that Hamnet dies. O’Farrell imagines that he might have died as a result of the 1550s plague. William Shakespeare is “off-stage” for the majority of the story and is never mentioned by name (referred to as husband, father, etc.). This centers Agnes (and the children) as the main character of the story and grief as the main theme. Agnes is a beautiful woman who has some supernatural gifts of healing with herbs, is entirely devoted to family, and frequently experiences glimpses into the future.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Transcendent Kingdom [Book Review]

September 18, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (cover) Image: gold text over a light pink (top) and black (bottom) background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Faith and Science, Drug Addiction, Ghana-American, Immigrant

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

While Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is the multi-generational big picture of a family over three hundred years, Transcendent Kingdom is a microscopic look at one Ghanaian family in Alabama. Their son, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died from a heroin overdose as a result of being addicted to pain meds after an accident. Dad returns to Ghana and Mom becomes severely depressed. The beginning of the story finds the daughter, Gifty, at Standford Medical School studying depression and addiction as she desperately hopes to find answers that will help others in similar situations. At the same time Gifty studies the hard sciences she also questions her faith and the religious experiences of her childhood. This is a story of immigration, faith, science, questions, and family devotion.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Anxious People [Book Review]

September 11, 2020

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: a man and woman stand with backs to the camera on a balcony looking into the distance

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Literary Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Anxious People is the story of a bank robber and a group of hostages at an open house…a bunch of idiots, really (in the most endearing sense of the word). But the real story behind the circumstances is about a bridge and so much more.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Ordinary Grace [Book Review]

August 28, 2020

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (cover) Image: a wooden railroad trellis over a river underneath a partially cloudy sky

Genre/Categories: Adult Literary Fiction, Coming of Age, Faith

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The summer of 1961 should have been another ordinary summer for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, but it was a summer of hardships, tragedy, grief, adult problems, and questions of faith. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years later, Ordinary Grace is a poignant coming-of-age story with elements of mystery and suspense.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

This Must Be the Place [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 9, 2020

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell….a complicated and multilayered family drama.

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell (cover) Image: a home with a person walking toward it fills a circle surrounded by a blue cloud filled sky

Genre/Categories: Literary Fiction, Complicated Families

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Are you a fan of literary fiction?

My Summary:

This Must Be the Place is a story of a collapsing and reawakening marriage.  Daniel, a young American professor, travels to Ireland on holiday and family business and to stabilize his life after a failed marriage and a difficult custody battle. By chance, he meets Claudette, a world-famous actress who dramatically left the public eye for a reclusive life in a rural Irish village. Daniel and Claudette fall in love and create an idyllic life in the country and have two children of their own. A secret from Daniel’s past threatens to destroy their carefully constructed and quiet, happy life. As Daniel leaves to make peace with his past and himself, he also reunites with the American son and daughter he has not seen for several years. His story is told from his own voice and other multiple voices as he wrestles with the complexities of loyalty and devotion, family, and extraordinary love.

Continue here for my full review of This Must Be the Place

QOTD: Have you read This Must Be the Place or is it on your TBR?