rainpebble reads in 2014

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rainpebble reads in 2014

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1rainpebble
Editado: Nov 23, 2014, 1:48 pm



Three of the fifteen bookcases in my wee two bedroom home. Let's see how many of these books I can knock back in 2014.
It looks as if a taco feed was in progress with two of our grandkids, actually 3 as our granddaughter is shown expecting here. She & her husband were expecting their 1st & our 3rd great. Jackson Thomas was born in early April. The lad in the kitchen is our Freshman all star football player who played & won honors in the All American National High School Football Bowl. No, we are not proud of our grandchildren. ;-)




My 2013 thread:
http://www.librarything.com/topic/146144

My 5 star reads of 2013 were:

1. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett,
2. Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan,
3. Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
4. The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt,
5. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield,
6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo,
7. A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym,
8. Good Daughters by Mary Hocking,
9. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman,
10. The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer,
11. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden,
12. The Heir by Vita Sackville-West,
13. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb and
14. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

My duds of the year; well I was very fortunate in that while I found a certain amount of mediocrity in my reads last year the closest book to a dud I read was:
Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick at 1 1/2 stars.

So all in all not a bad year of reading though certainly not my best. I read a total of 115 books not counting my children's books. I did not add them into the count. I am hoping for a year filled with more classics & more quality reads in 2014.

My focus this year will be on:
WW I with the Great War Theme Read in the Virago Group along with my annuals of:
Orange January & July plus an Orange a month,
All Virago/All August and
ROOTs.

My Rating System:
5 stars: Unforgettable
4 1/2 stars: Excellent
4 stars: Highly Recommended
3 stars: Respectable
2 stars: Just Okay
1 star: Meh
1/2 star: Don't waste your time

You can find my other 2014 threads here:
BIG FAT BOOKS: http://www.librarything.com/topic/167533
Orange January/July: http://www.librarything.com/topic/163775
ROOT - 2014 Read Our Own Tomes: http://www.librarything.com/topic/162287
____________________________________________________________

BANNED BOOKS WEEK: September 21−27, 2014
____________________________________________________________

JANUARY READS:

For ORANGE JANUARY:


1. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler; (3*)
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; (5*)
3. The Seas by Samantha Hunt; (4 1/2*)
4. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; (5*)
5. Home by Marilynne Robinson; (4*)
6. Annabel by Kathleen Winter; (4*)
7. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; (4 1/2*)
8. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey; (4*)
9. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson; (5*)
____________________________________________________________

THE GREAT WAR THEME READ:
10. William, an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton; (2 1/2*); a Persephone
11. Wake by Anna Hope; (3*); an ARC/ER;
____________________________________________________________

OTHERS:
12. Remember My Name by Sarah H. Banks; Y/A; (4*)
13. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott; (4 1/2*)
14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier; VMC; (4 1/2*)
15. Far From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy; (4*)
16. The Walk by Richard Paul Evans; (4 1/2*)
17. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe; (4*)
18. Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes; (3 1/2*)
19. If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler; (3*)
20. Eden Close by Anita Shreve; (4*)
21. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan; (4*)
22. Christmas at High Rising by Angela Thirkell; (4*)
23. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares; (3*)
(similar plot-line to that of Life After Life
24. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult; (4*)
25. The Waterbabies by Charles Kingsley; Y/A; Children's Classics; (3*)

2rainpebble
Editado: Jul 24, 2014, 6:17 pm

YEA!~! IT IS ORANGE JANUARY!~!


glitter-graphics.com

My 1st Orange for ORANGE JANUARY:
1. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler; long listed, 2004; (3*)

I like to read Anne Tyler but I don't really know why. I find all of her books, as I did this one, deeply depressing and she seems to apply a certain kind of futility to the lives of her characters. They go through their lives doing what they think they should be doing but with no zest for or real love of life, just sort of plodding along. I guess her books are too close to what life truly is for most of us and I find that rather bleak. One likes to think that the world at large is full of happy people and to think that "one day I will be there too" sort of philosophy. But is life really all happiness and light? It is not and Anne Tyler writes about those lives with a style all her own and I continue to read her so I guess I appreciate her writing. I will continue to read her for I do find her work fascinating though depressing. Perhaps I will throw in a fairy tale now and then to cheer myself up in between.

3mabith
Jan 1, 2014, 8:25 pm

There's nothing more important than filling your home with bookshelves, though then people will say things like, "Oh, do you like to read?" in a serious NOT teasing questioning voice and that fills me rage.

4LShelby
Jan 1, 2014, 9:48 pm

>3 mabith: What kills me is the people who walk into my living room and say "My, you own so many books!" There is only one book-case in the livingroom, and I consider it very sparsely populated. I worry that showing these people the rest of my house, with a bookcase in every room except the kitchen and bathrooms* will totally blow their wee little minds or something.

*I consider kitchens and bathrooms hostile environments for books -- they are allowed to visit, but they're not encouraged to live there.

5rainpebble
Jan 3, 2014, 1:50 pm

I agree with both of you ladies. Outside of God, family, & country my books are my life and they say that our homes are a reflection of us. So that makes me a rather messy reader. lol!~!
Good luck with your 2014 challenges Meredith & LShelby. I hope that we all enjoy a wonderful year of reading.
hugs,

6rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:30 pm



My 2nd Orange of the month:
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; long listed in 2002; (5*)

The Secret Life of Bees will grab you right from the beginning. I fell in love with most of the female characters in this book.
This is a coming of age story about Lily, a 14 year old growing up on a peach farm with an abusive father. Her mother died when she was quite young in an "accidental shooting" when attempting to leave her abusive husband. Lily saw it all and her father has convinced her that she was the one who accidentally shot her mother. We never learn the real truth about this event.
The story takes place at the time of the newly enacted Civil Rights Movement in the mid sixties. Lily and her black housekeeper Rosaleen flee when they are arrested because of Rosaleen pouring snooce juice over the feet of three white men who are harassing them.
In a series of events that can be nothing short of divine intervention Lily and Rosaleen end up in the charming South Carolina home of three sisters, May, June & August. While Rosaleen bonds with May in the kitchen cooking good old fashioned southern dishes Lily works with August learning the art of beekeeping.
Each chapter of The Secret Life of Bees begins with a charming "life of a bee" fact that relates to the chapter that follows. As the story unwinds secrets of a painful past are revealed but simultaneously a new and happy life is created. You will experience some painful endings as well as some happy and hopeful beginnings. I cried & I laughed over this book.

The Secret Life of Bees is about facing our pasts, accepting them and finding the "mother in ourselves" to move ahead with strength & love. It's about friendships that aren't bound by color or society and ultimately about love. As you read this novel by Sue Monk Kidd it will undoubtedly come to hold a special place in your heart as it does in mine.
I highly recommend it.

7BoekenTrol71
Jan 3, 2014, 2:25 pm

What a great photograph, rainpebble! I had no idea that was possible :-)

Will see if I can steal your idea and give you an idea of a few of my bookcases... Good luck on your challenge! I am curious to see which books you'll read and what your opinion is about them.

8rainpebble
Jan 3, 2014, 2:34 pm

Thank you Grada. And if you want some help on the photo thing just P.M. me. Okay?
belva

9rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:31 pm


glitter-graphics.com

My 3rd Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
3. The Seas by Samantha Hunt; long listed in 2011; (4 1/2*)

The Seas by Samantha Hunt is an enchanting little tale about a young girl who thinks that she & her father before her are mermaid/merman. The story is one of isolation both by the physicality of it and also of self isolation. The girl keeps to herself and spends a great deal of time at the beach hoping to see her father return to she and her mother. One day while there she sees a young man coming out of the ocean and he is beautiful. She immediately falls in love with him though she is at the tender age of twelve and he is much older. The story moves on from there and is mainly about their relationship.
It is a fast paced fantasy that even an old lady can love. I really liked this little book. It wasn't perfect but then what fantasy is?

10Tanya-dogearedcopy
Jan 3, 2014, 3:44 pm

Oh! How warm and cozy your home looks! I love how neatly your books are shelved!

And then, there's me, with an obscene number of books and a very "eccentric" way of storing and stacking books! We have book shelves in just about every room in the house, but it's my home office that looks like a book bomb has detonated! No one else could possibly make sense of my "system" but I know where everything is! :-D

11rainpebble
Jan 3, 2014, 4:00 pm

Tanya, that is all that counts. That YOU know where everything is located. I have a friend who has scads of boxes of books in her home. She labels them all with a 'shelf number' and tags them in her L.T. library with that particular 'shelf number'. It works for her. I am all for whatever works.
And thank you for your kind words.

12wookiebender
Jan 4, 2014, 4:52 am

I know where my books are too, even though I have no system, so it's all memory. Which is funny, because I tend to forget my kids' names, but can always find my books.

Books and bookshelves in every corner I can squeeze them in.

Welcome back to the group, Belva!

13rainpebble
Jan 4, 2014, 1:28 pm

Thank you wookie. :-)

14bookwormjules
Jan 4, 2014, 4:50 pm

Some great reads on your top list of 2013! Good luck for 2014!

15judylou
Jan 4, 2014, 6:35 pm

What a lovely photo! It's good to know that so many others have eclectic storage systems for their books as well. I think I'll also start my thread off with a photo of one of my bookcases now. Here's to another year of books!!

16Helenliz
Jan 5, 2014, 6:55 am

nice varied selection of bookcases there. We have billy from ikea - so many that we have long since stopped reading the instructions to put them up.
My next task is to re-arrange the shelves to allow my space for the gradual conversion of my diskworld collection from paperback to hardback. These things are important...

Looking forward to following your reading in 2014 again.

17rainpebble
Jan 7, 2014, 12:09 am

>16 Helenliz::
Thank you & right back at you Helen. I have heard of the 'billy' shelving before but don't really know what they are. Guess I need to head over to ikea & see what the shouting is all about.

18wookiebender
Jan 7, 2014, 12:16 am

I had to go looking, and I want, nay, NEED! some billy bookshelves now. Of course, at this stage, I may need a new house because there's no room for more shelves....

http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/categories/departments/living_room/11683/

19rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:31 pm



My 4th Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
4. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; long listed, 2006; (5*)

I loved Gilead. It is written as a memoir from a dying elderly (at least third generational preacher) to his seven year old son. And It is written in a manner that takes one back to about the 1950s. The father, who is narrating, writes in a very calming, soothing way and is attempting to let his son know what he thinks, why he thinks that way and about things that have occurred in his lifetime and the reactions and responses to those occurrences.
The preacher married late in life and had his son even later so he wants to share as much as he can to give his son an understanding of himself as a man. He writes of his beautiful relationship with his best friend (a preacher of another denomination) and of his wife, the boy's mother. He writes to him of his growing up years and he and his father's relationship.
The book is full of God, the Bible, prayer and of a life devoted to God. Yet it is not written in a preachy way at all. I also think it was much more contemplative than religious. If I didn't love the Lord, I think I still would have loved this book because of the way it was written. The author's words simply flow throughout the entire novel. It is one of the easiest books I have read in the last couple of years and perhaps one of the best. It may not make my top ten, but it will certainly be way up there. Marilynne Robinson is a wonderful author. I highly recommend this book to people of all persuasions. The only other book I have read that I can compare feeling this way upon finishing would be Cry, the Beloved Country. There was just something about Gilead that took my breath away.
Do something really kind for yourself and read this one.

20rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:40 pm



My 5th Orange for ORANGE JANUARY:
5. Home by Marilynne Robinson; Orange Prize Winner, 2009; (4*)

I adored Home. Fans of Robinson's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead fell in love with her gentle minister, the Rev. John Ames, and the story he was creating for his son. Set in the 1950's, Gilead is a love letter from the 77 year old Ames to his 7 year-old son. This luminous, tender book was completely outside the realm of what some might expect from a modern best-selling novel. Robinson shattered the mold with Gilead.

In Home, Robinson takes the reader back once again to this quite Iowa town. It is still the 1950's. John Ames still has a bad heart. But he's alive and enjoying life with his young wife and child. Home is not necessarily a sequel. It's more of a companion work and while reading Gilead prior would certainly enhance the reader's appreciation for Home, doing so is not essential.

Home is the story of the best friend of John Ames, the Rev. Robert Boughton and his family. John Ames is definitely part of the story but in a more peripheral sense. These two elderly ministers grew up together. They have argued scriptural fine points for the better part of a century. Rev. Boughton's health is failing now too, much faster that his friend's is declining.

Rev. Boughton's 38 year-old daughter Glory has come home to care for her father. Boughton has been a widower for 10 years. The Boughtons had seven children. Rev. Boughton's favorite child, Jack is the black sheep of the family. He hasn't been home in 20 years. As the story opens they have just heard that Jack is coming home for a visit with his ailing father.

The prodigal son finally turns up. Jack is a man with a mysterious past. He is also one of the most compelling fictional characters I have encountered in quite some time.

Robinson spins her magic as father, brother, and sister play out the drama of this homecoming. Home is rich as gold. Robinson writes with a warmth and assurance that will bring tears to your eyes. Home will resonate with readers who understand the joys and sorrows of being part of a family.

.

21rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:41 pm



My 6th Orange in ORANGE JANUARY:
6. Annabel by Kathleen Winter; Orange short list, 2011; (4*)

I finished Annabel this morning and while I liked it very much indeed......it seemed to wrap up rather quickly for me. Things were unfinished that bothered me but more at home with the parents than with Wayne/Annabel. Treadway's change was rather remarkable but I knew he was a softy all along, just a rather gruff one. This book just pulls one along and keeps you for the long haul with just a couple of hiccups. I think I would give it a solid 4 stars.

22rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:56 pm

10. William, An Englishman by Cicely Mary Hamilton; Great War Theme Read; Persephone; (2 1/2*; currently though I am still mulling it over)

I've just finished William, an Englishman. I did not find it awfully engaging but am glad I read it. I must say that Hamilton's style of writing is quite different.

William & Griselda are young lovers who met at political rallies & meetings. They are against their country going to war but are innocents & unknowledgeable about the world around them. They are only focused on each other & their anti-war meetings, pamphlets, flyers & protesting the war. They attend war rallies and disrupt them, getting themselves drug outside, etc. Other than this they really have no lives.

They decide to marry and take a 3 week honeymoon in the Belgian Ardennes at the behest of a fellow revolutionist who owns a cabin there. They, neither one, speak or understand the French language. Having had a lovely honeymoon, they leave on foot to travel to the train station expecting to return home to England. But on the way the war catches up with them and they are unwittingly captured by the Germans who have taken Belgium. They are separated and both are in deep shock as they neither one know anything about actual war & warfare but only about protesting. The Germans who capture them are not interested in verbal disputing & do as they will with them.

At this point the book goes from being a genial story to becoming rather a horrendous war story about these two young persons, especially William. The couple are not prepared either mentally nor physically for the occurrences of wartime.

I was caught up in the beginning, then came a great bit of what seemed to me to be 'stream of consciousness' to wade through, then back to the war.........

Like I said I am glad I read it and it gave me a different insight into the Great War period of time. Overall I think it was just an okay read for me. I shall have to ponder it over time & see how I truly feel about it. But perhaps that is one of the marks of a good/great book.

23Tanya-dogearedcopy
Jan 8, 2014, 3:24 pm

Hmm, despite it's relatively low score and your reservations, I'm putting this on my list of books to watch out for. I won't rush out to buy it, but if I happen to come across it on one of my book forays, I'll pick it up! I'm intrigued with the anti-heroic aspects of the protags and the WWI backdrop.

24rainpebble
Jan 8, 2014, 11:09 pm

>23 Tanya-dogearedcopy:;
You may well like it Tanya. I wanted to love it but couldn't. I did however, appreciate it and it is very well written. I must say that I am glad I read it.
Thank you for popping in.

25wookiebender
Jan 8, 2014, 11:57 pm

It's definitely an interesting sounding book, but I think it sounds a bit bleak for me. (Plus stream-of-consciousness sends me to sleep quite often.)

26rainpebble
Jan 9, 2014, 10:41 am

>25 wookiebender::
Ditto the thought wookie. Thus the "then came a great bit of what seemed to me to be 'stream of consciousness' to wade through", in my review. There are some that I WILL keep attempting to get through however just because I think their writing so brilliant........doesn't mean I enjoy those parts however. Quite gets in the way of the story for me.
Cheers,

27rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:57 pm

12. Remember My Name by Sara H. Banks; (4*) A Y/A book.

I was up late last night reading Remember My Name by Sara H. Banks, the story building up to & including the beginning of the Trail of Tears & told from the viewpoint of a young girl of Scottish & Cherokee heritage living with the Cherokee people through it. This is a wonderful Y.A. story.

Her parents have both died and she is living with her Cherokee grandmother at the beginning of the book. The President, State Governor & persons in charge of the Indian Nation have decided that the Cherokee people must be moved off their lands in North Carolina & Georgia. The girl's uncle, who is married to a white lady & lives a city life quite different from the Cherokee life the girl has been living comes to take her to live with him & his wife. His mother, the girl's grandmother, then moves back up the mountain to her people, the Cherokee.

The Indians think that those attempting to help them in Washington will be able to convince the U.S. President to allow them to remain but it isn't so. Nothing the U.S. government has promised them comes about. They must leave Georgia and trek West to Arkansas, many of them dying along the way. (Later they move on to Oklahoma where today many of the Indian Nations have come together.)

"All over the country, people protested the treatment of the Indians, but it did no good. The government had ordered the Indians out of Georgia. And they had to go. A young poet and philosopher, unknown at the time, Ralph Waldo Emerson, wrote a letter to the President:
"...the mercy that is that heart's heart in all men, from Maine to Georgia, does abhor this business..."

I thought this quite a wonderful book & highly recommend it to youth & adult alike.

28mabith
Jan 10, 2014, 7:04 pm

I'll have to look for Remember My Name. It sounds very good.

29rainpebble
Jan 10, 2014, 7:27 pm

It was very good Meredith. Do you enjoy Y/A also?

30mabith
Jan 10, 2014, 8:09 pm

I do, sometimes. I have a hard time reading the "normal high schoolers with normal issues" books, or rather a hard time enjoying them. I read more children's novels than YA, but I'm always happy to read the historical fiction YA titles. I feel like I must amass a list of great ones for my nieces and nephews, if nothing else.

When I still worked I managed a bookstore with my sister. YA/Children's was one of my sections so I tried to read everything I could back then. Haven't kept up that much sense, but I'm adding a lot to my TBR list for this year.

31rainpebble
Editado: Jan 13, 2014, 10:36 pm

I will be watching to see your Children's selections, your ratings & your comments. I need to add more to mine. I find reading these a solace to my anxiety & depression.

And how wonderful that you & your sister had an opportunity to work together. I think I remember you speaking of this previously. Did the owner of the shop turn out to be a "B" word?

32mabith
Jan 10, 2014, 8:57 pm

I know what you mean about a solace for anxiety and depression. Have you read any of the Freddy the Pig books by Walter R. Brooks? They're still laugh-out-loud funny, and really well written.

Ha, no, the bookstore owner was a lively, elderly English woman who I really liked (though she didn't really take much interest in the store ever, just enjoyed owning it mostly). I developed a chronic pain condition and became unable to work. I did get a chance to be the store's book buyer though, which was HEAVEN. Actually I still do a bit of web stuff for them, in exchange for store credit. It's a nice bit of 'free' book cash.

33rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:42 pm


glitter-graphics.com

My 7th Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
7. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; Orange long listed, 2010; (4 1/2*)

I hardly know where to start. This one took me in gently, grabbed me and held me throughout. Strangely enough, the character I cared the least about was Caroline. I simply was unable to read her and get into her. I cared about all of the other characters, even the minor ones. Thus, the 4 1/2 stars. Otherwise I would have easily rated this one a 5 star read.
And 'the little stranger', indeed, turned out to be what/whom I thought it to be. It made sense, it fit perfectly........but I didn't like it. Not that I didn't like it in the story. I think it had to be that way.
The story is one of a doctor who comes to the village and in his work, he falls for the sister of one of his patients. Eventually they plan to marry but things occur and continue to occur that keep putting the wedding at bay.
The house of his patient is one of the old 'great houses' and I think the good doctor falls in love with the house as well even though it is in ill repair. Things fall through in the end, literally..............and we are rather back where we began but with our head still in the story.
The entire book is rather a head-game with the characters and with the reader as well. I liked it a great deal and would have loved it if the character, Caroline, had been more believable to me. Still and all it was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

34rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:44 pm


glitter-graphics.com

My 8th Orange of ORANGE JANUARY:
8. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey; Orange short listed, 2010; (4*)

I was ready for a 'knock your sox off' book when I began The White Woman on the Green Bicycle but I didn't find it to be so. The story takes place in the racially political years of Trinidad and is about a couple who move there from England "for three years" in a job related transfer for the husband. He falls in love with Trinidad, she....not so much.
The story is plotted out in three sections. The first section; the early days .... their move and the wife slowly realizing that chances are pretty good their three years is going to turn into more. She becomes very disillusioned with their lives, the island and her husband. But she has their children and a busy life so she accepts the situation.
The second section; the ending days .... their children are grown and the couple are now in their seventies and still in Trinidad. The wife has become complacent and yet angry at the same time with her husband. She knows they will never leave Trinidad and will die there. The end of this section is the end of the story but not the book.
The third section; the middle years is the real meat of the story and comes at the back of the book. So much happens in this part of the story. The political unrest becomes an unbearable violence toward the whites and Trinidad is now a very dangerous place to be living. The couple both have secrets from one another. He is unfaithful with many women though he adores his wife and she has a secret correspondence (which she never mails off to him) with the Prime Minister or whatever they call the leader of the country. When the husband finds this, he feels even more betrayed than she does when she realizes that he is sleeping with other women.
For me the best part of the story was the interactions of the characters with their servants and the one servant's family in particular. I cared more about them than I did the main characters.
I would not say that this was not a good book, but I think it could have been so much better. All of the concepts are there, the characters are there....they just needed to be drawn out more clearly and be more who they were. Like I said the strong characters were the servants. I won't read this one again and I am very surprised that it got as far as it did on the Orange list. My first disappointment with an ORANGE. ;-)
I have had to reassess this book. Today, some 22 days after reading this book I have to say that it is still resonating in my brain and in my heart. I WILL read it again one day and I have had to change my rating of it from 3 1/2 stars to a 4 star read.

35rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:58 pm

13. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott; 4 1/2*

I have been wanting to reread this book about medieval knights, damsels in distress, honor, chivalry, strange heroes, etc for ever so long. Ivanhoe, with the dialogue written in Old English, does not disappoint. Although the characters never spoke in less than a paragraph and the author describes every single person, setting, and event to the Nth degree, these carefully fabricated words serve to make the reader feel as though they are right there cheering in the lists alongside the populace. Ivanhoe is & has been since I first read it in 2nd grade, one of my favorite historical novels.
Ivanhoe is indeed worthy of the heroism we place upon his head. He is ever gallant, true & loyal. I loved Wamba. What a funny & odd little hero this village idiot turns out to be. The Lady Rowena as the love interest of Ivanhoe is a bit disappointing and the fact that she seems a rather flat character is probably my only complaint about this book. Rebecca is a much more well rounded character and as such is more interesting as a lead female role in the book.
I am very happy that I read this again but do wish I had not waited so very long. Highly recommended for those who do not tire of the 'old English' language.

36rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:47 pm

11. Wake by Anna Hope; Great War Theme Read; (3*)

This book is a LibraryThing ARC/ER. Thank you.

This story, or I should perhaps say these stories, take place in the days leading up to the second anniversary of Britain's Armistice of the First World War. The war that we have come to know as the Great War. It follows three women unknown to one another, their lives, their loves, their losses and their hopes for a future in the aftermath of the war. There are also many underlying characters and story lines.
The major story line of the book I found to be the finding, the preparing, and the returning of 'the unknown warrior' from the French battlefields. All of the stories in the book are built around and culminate with this event. In fact the 'warrior' becomes a character of the book in his own right.
We have Hettie who works at a dance hall with her friend Di, where gentlemen are charged sixpence a dance. She lives at home with her mother and her brother John, giving them half her earnings. John suffers from shell shock. He sits like a zombie all day and at night in his sleep screams out the names of the other lads he was with in the war.
Then there is Evelyn who, though her family is moneyed and she needn't, works at a job in the local pensions exchange helping returning soldiers who are in need of medical, financial or other aid fill out their paperwork. Her boyfriend/lover was killed in the war and she lives in a flat with her friend Doreen.
And finally we have Ada, married to Jack, who is a homemaker and has lost her son Michael in the war. But apparently there never was a body found and Ada is not convinced that he is dead. She 'sees' him in the streets and follows only to find that it is not him or she will follow and turn a corner to find no one there. Her husband finds it very difficult to deal with this changed wife.
Throughout the book we are taken to the position of the 'unknown warrior' and kept up with that storyline which begins and ends the novel.
This is not a bad first novel. The author shows promise but the book at times seemed unbalanced to me and the storyline transitions could have been much smoother. However all in all it was a good read and I would guardedly recommend it to lovers of the Great War era.

37rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:59 pm

14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier; VMC; (4 1/2*)

"Last Night I Dreamt I Went To Manderley Again." Quite possibly one of the most famous first lines of a novel ever.
Manderley, the ancestral home of Maxim de Winter, is a large Victorian mansion that is ever dark & boding.
The protagonist of our gothic novel is a paid traveling companion to a wealthy lady in the opening of the book. She is shy, retiring and feels inept with her employment.
She meets Maxim and is enamored of him. He courts her and soon asks her to marry him. She accepts, not actually knowing anything about her new husband nor his dark past.
After the honeymoon Maxim takes his bride to Manderley to live. Mrs. Danvers, the housekeeper, easily intimidates her and she seems to always be in a fragile state. (Frankly Mrs. Danvers creeps me out as well.) She was enthralled by the first Mrs. de Winter, Rebecca, who drowned at sea, and is not happy that there is a replacement. She is rude, finds the new bride unacceptable and begins a psychological attack upon her keeping her in quite a nervous state so that she never feels up to the task of being the lady of the house nor the wife of Maxim. She always feels as if she were living in the shadow of Rebecca.
Our heroine soon learns of Maxim's great love of Rebecca, the mystery surrounding the events of her drowning and that all is not well in the house at Manderley.
Daphne du Maurier has written a great many novels as well as some nonfiction and many of them are wonderful reads. However I find Rebecca to be my favorite. It is always fresh, exciting and nerve wracking. Just what I want in a gothic romance. I don't love the characters, any of them, but I do love the book. A wonderful novel that I find to be a page turner every time I read it. I very highly recommend this one!

38rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:59 pm

15. Far From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy; (4*)

When Bathsheba Everdene, a beautiful young woman full of life inherits a farm and moves to the remote country she creates chaos in the hearts of the local men. She finds that her overseer has been stealing from the farm and fires him, determined to run the farm herself.

Gabriel, a local sheep farmer who is poor but rich in integrity soon proposes marriage to her but Bathsheba refuses him. She is not in love with him though she likes him very much.

Later she mischievously sends a valentine card to the wealthy farmer Boldwood. He too falls in love and becoming obsessed with her also proposes marriage. She refuses him as well for the same reason. She is not in love with him.

Then a handsome and charming young scoundrel of a man, Sergeant Troy appears and Bathsheba falls madly in love with him. They secretly wed but Bathsheba soon discovers that his one true love is one of her maids and that he is still in love with her.

Bathsheba eventually learns that Sergeant Troy is an unfaithful small minded husband who can be trusted neither with her heart nor her farm. When the young maid Fanny, who loved the Sergeant is discovered dying giving birth to his stillborn child he becomes terribly and inconsolably remorseful and leaves Bathsheba.

But this classic has much more to it than just the romantic interests. There is much about the farming and husbandry of those days that I found to be quite interesting. There are crops to be grown and harvested. There are also the interactions between all of the people in the novel.

My least favorite character was Bathsheba herself. She was a fairly flat character and even the peasant folk seemed to have more body to them.

I found this book to be lively & exciting which I know is quite the opposite of how some view Hardy's work. However I really enjoyed it and recommend it to those of you who enjoy the classics and to all Hardy lovers.

39mabith
Jan 15, 2014, 5:42 pm

Ah, I loved Far From the Madding Crowd when I read it.

40rainpebble
Jan 15, 2014, 9:30 pm

I quite loved it as well Meredith and cannot believe that I've not read it before now.

41rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:00 pm

16. The Walk by Richard Paul Evans; 4 1/2 stars

This is not great literature by any means but it was a very good read.
Alan grows up being raised by his father as his mother died of breast cancer.
McKale grows up in the house next door being raised by her father as her mother abandoned them.
The two become fast friends at an early age and fall in love with each other at 17. They marry young and he goes on to University to become an advertising executive with a very lucrative business of his own. A friend comes in with him to be the go between the client and the creative process of the business.
One day while in an important meeting with a huge perspective client Alan takes an emergency call from a neighbor. McKale was horseback riding and her horse spooked, she was thrown and it is very bad. He rushes to the hospital where he finds that his wife is indeed in bad shape. Her back is broken and they do not know if she will be paralyzed or not. They will watch & evaluate her and should know more at the 72 hour mark.
Alan will not leave his wife's side. When the 72 hours pass the specialists come in to check McKale. She indeed has no feeling from her waist down. The family, her parents, Alan & his father are devastated. The doctors take her back into surgery to repair her spine even though it won't make a difference in her ability to walk, they say it must be done. McKale goes through weeks of therapy to gain the upper body strength it will take for her to move in & out of the wheelchair, etc. Alan remains with her, trusting Kyle his friend & partner in business, to keep things running smoothly at work which he has promised to do.
The day comes when Alan can take McKale home. He gets her home and settled and begins to deal with their personal finances which she had always taken care of. The mortgage company calls & tells Alan that they are two months in arrears on the payments of their two million dollar home. Soon he is finding many, many unpaid bills. Upon calling his secretary at work to have money transferred so that he can pay all of these bills she tells him that his partner & friend has left the company taking all of the employees but her, all of the clients and of course all of the company money. Kyle has begun his own ad agency.
When it rains it pours. He checks on McKale and questions her as to whether she is okay with him returning to work for a bit. She tells him of course so he goes in to see just how bad it is. Upon getting to his offices he finds out that it is much worse that he had even imagined. He returns home to find McKale half out of her head with fever. Her temperature is 104. So he calls the hospital and they tell him to bring her in immediately. By the time he gets her there her temperature has risen to 105. She has a bad infection and is septic. Alan has a difficult time understanding how this can be but soon realizes that she is in a very bad way. Soon McKale drifts away from Alan. She doesn't want to leave him but her poor tortured body simply cannot fight this.
It's hard to live when your best friend & wife as died, your business has been stolen out from under you, your home is foreclosed upon, your vehicles are repossessed and you have more medical bills than you will ever be able to pay.
Alan spends his days in deep depression and finally remembers a man who once told him that things didn't seem so bad when he went out and walked them away. So he got out a map and an old shoestring and measured out the furthest point on the map from Seattle that he could walk to. Turned out to be the Florida Keys. So he packed up a backpack, dressed in his hiking clothes and thus began The Walk
This is a quick easy read. Sad but satisfying somehow. Recommended for those in the mood for something of this nature. (it isn't as depressing as it sounds)

42wookiebender
Jan 16, 2014, 12:37 am

Oh, I love Rebecca! I did read the sequel by Susan Hill last year, Mrs de Winter, but it's a pale substitute.

43rainpebble
Jan 16, 2014, 4:22 am

>42 wookiebender:;
I am saddened to hear that wookie as I have it sitting in the wings waiting for me. Perhaps this time we will differ? IDK but will find out when I read it.
I did love Susan Hill's In the Springtime of the Year. I find her writing to be spare & direct without a lot of dressing up & I like that.

44wookiebender
Jan 16, 2014, 5:38 am

Oh, it was the first time Susan Hill has disappointed me! I do hope you like it more than I did.

45Helenliz
Jan 16, 2014, 4:15 pm

Yet another review of a Hardy novel that makes me think I really ought to overcome my school-induced loathing for him. Maybe one day...

46mabith
Jan 16, 2014, 6:22 pm

Helen, your schooling has a lot to answer for! Though I imagine there are a lot of books I'd like less if I had to study them versus just experiencing them.

47rainpebble
Jan 16, 2014, 7:39 pm

>45 Helenliz: & 46:
I have that same issue with Dickens and Austen. Most of the remainder of them I have overcome.

And yes Helen, maybe one day................. Don't put pressure on yourself to read any book. That is the number one reason for my not enjoying some books.

48mabith
Jan 17, 2014, 12:09 am

School never ruined Austen for me, but I have not really managed to enjoy her writing on my own. My father is quite disappointed.

49wookiebender
Jan 17, 2014, 7:23 am

I do like Austen, apart from the one I studied at high school!

50jfetting
Jan 17, 2014, 9:54 am

So much good reading here, Belva! Add me to the list of Far From the Madding Crowd fans - I have a giant literary crush on Gabriel Oak and am so glad the book ended the way it did.

51rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:02 pm

18. Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes; (3 1/2*)

This was MacInnes' first thriller and I believe her first published novel as well. It is the story of a newlywed couple recruited by a friend in the government segment. They need an unsuspected couple to follow a trail of contacts & clues in an attempt to locate an agent who has gone silent after sending some strange messages.

What a honeymoon it turns out to be.

The novel was written during WW II but is about a spy adventure occurring the summer prior to the invasion of Poland. During this adventure the couple meet an American writer and a British student both of whom have reasons of their own to do damage to the Nazi threat. They all kind of pony up together in this adventure.

When the couple are found out they must flee for their lives and the story becomes a bit corny with all of the methods and means that they use in an attempt to not get caught. And there were many close calls.

Many of the elements used in the story are typical of MacInnes' later more polished works. However, the story is more of an action thriller than the romantic thrillers that MacInnes eventually became so good at writing. We feel the terrible poignancy of taking a last journey through a European countryside about to be torn apart again by war.

I found the story to be beautifully written and thought it a fun and enjoyable read however I must admit that there were times when I felt as if I were in a Laurel & Hardy movie. This is a low key thriller and a must read for MacInnes fans.

52rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:04 pm

17. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe; (4*)

Considered one of the great classic novels, Defoe's book follows Moll Flanders as she struggles to avoid the deadly poverty of 17th-century England. From a prison birth to final prosperity Moll considers love, theft and prostitution in terms of profit and loss. She emerges as an extraordinary character.

This is the vivid saga of an irresistible and notorious heroine. Her high misdemeanors and delinquencies, her varied careers as a prostitute, a charming and faithful wife, a thief, and a convict endures today as one of the liveliest and most candid records of a woman's progress through the hypercritical walks of society ever recorded.

Moll isn't the most proper of women. She isn't the cleanest. She isn't the most trust worthy. She isn't a lot of things. But what Moll Flanders is; is an exceptional character of literature. I loved Moll! I can't wait to give this one a reread.

53jfetting
Jan 18, 2014, 11:17 am

I loved Moll too! Cheered for her every step of the way, especially when she was being naughty.

54mabith
Jan 18, 2014, 11:22 am

Well, now I'll have to add Moll Flanders to my reading list. The only thing I've read by Defoe is A Journal of the Plague Year.

55wookiebender
Jan 19, 2014, 4:43 am

I tried and failed at Robinson Crusoe. But Moll Flanders sounds rather fun!

56bryanoz
Jan 19, 2014, 5:43 am

Moll Flanders coming up for me later this year, great to hear it is a good read, thanks.

57rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:03 pm

19. If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler; (3*)

I thoroughly enjoyed this quick read by Anne Tyler. I could totally relate with the main character, Ben Joe who when away felt needed and wanted at home and yet when at home with his family he felt like he was still outside the group. I liked how quickly one got to know the characters and yet at times I was surprised by some of their actions and words. A good read.

58rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:03 pm

20. Eden Close by Anita Shreve; (4*)

Eden Close, Like all of Shreve's works that I have read thus far kept me on the edge of my seat. It was a thoroughly entertaining and engrossing novel. This story like all of her others sucked me right in.
While I guessed 'the secret' early on it did not make any difference in the enjoyment of the novel. Full of twists and turns, what really makes this novel work is her character development and her unique style of writing. The reader will find this with all of Shreve's novels. She really makes you feel as though you come to know and care about her characters, even the minor ones.

59torontoc
Jan 20, 2014, 9:10 am

I really liked Annabel! Just catching up on your reading now. Nice choices! i have to read Rebecca.

60wareagle78
Jan 20, 2014, 11:27 pm

How have I missed the Orange awards list? Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

61rainpebble
Jan 20, 2014, 11:55 pm

It is now called The Women's Prize for Fiction Literature or some such. But it's still Orange to me. ;-)

62rainpebble
Jan 21, 2014, 11:40 pm

I finally completed my review for Home by Marilynne Robinson. You will find it in in post #20.

63judylou
Jan 22, 2014, 12:00 am

I have finally caught up with your substantial thread! You have been reading some wonderful books (as usual). I read and loved Gilead, Annabel and The Little Stranger a couple of years ago. I listened to The White Woman on the Green Bicycle last year and I liked it a lot more than you did. While you were not happy with the characterization, I thought the characters were very real, but for me, the setting was just beautiful. I loved the idea of this tropical island and all it's inhabitants. I really need to get back to the Orange lists again. There have not been too many on them that I haven't liked!

64rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 6:45 pm


glitter-graphics.com

My 9th Orange for ORANGE JANUARY:
9. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson; long listed in 2013; 5 stars; a reread for me

When I first read the plot line of Kate Atkinson's Life After Life I immediately wondered how Ursula Todd would come back to life. Would it be like the movie Groundhog Day with all the frustration that came with not being able to escape the loop? Would she be aware of what was happening? Would other people be aware of what was happening to her? No matter how many possibilities I envisioned I was still surprised by the way Kate Atkinson crafted this plot. She wrote this story with such ingenuity and originality. It was never simple nor trite. I think that every time I feel déjà vu in the future I will think of this book.
Much of the story took place in London during the Blitz of WWII. These pages were frightening and heart wrenching. I could not put this one down once I began it. Atkinson gives the reader a very vivid view of war. She allows us to see its enormity and how distressing and wearing it is for all involved.
Life After Life is beautifully written and reads like a classic. Wonderfully complex, it's a story you could read over and over and always find something new and fresh. I loved this story and know that it won't be long before my next read.

And it wasn't.

65bryanoz
Jan 23, 2014, 4:26 am

Totally agree with you on Gilead, I have Life After Life, and Moll Flanders waiting so thanks for the positive reviews !

66Tanya-dogearedcopy
Jan 23, 2014, 12:05 pm

Life After Life (by Kate Atkinson) was my favorite 2013 release! I almost got caught out by the ending though and and to slow down and re-read it to really appreciate it.

I recently found out that a friend of mine read it and didn't care for it at all! I don't even know what to say about that. LOL, Can we still be friends?

67rainpebble
Jan 23, 2014, 3:44 pm

>65 bryanoz:: You are in for some good stuff Bryan. And I am so happy that we are in agreement regarding Gilead. It seems that those who like it, REALLY like it and those who dislike it, REALLY dislike it.

>66 Tanya-dogearedcopy:: Tanya, it was a 5 star read for me and I just read another with a similiar plot-line which I will post about below.
And yes, I think you & your friend can still be friends even in the face of diversity. hee hee

68rainpebble
Jan 23, 2014, 3:48 pm

23. The title: My Name is Memory; 3 stars

The author: Ann Brashares

The time period: all over the place from 541 A.D. to 2009

The place: again, all over the place but it seemed to center mainly in Africa and the U.S.

The characters: Daniel, Lucy/Sophia/Lucy/Constance/Lucy,......

The story: Daniel, our protagonist, has a gift. A gift for life and remembrances of previous lives. Many souls come back but very few have a memory of their past lives and loves. Daniel remembers and Daniel remembers Sophia, his one and only love. The story weaves through Daniel's many lives as he searches for and sometimes finds her. But it never works out. There is always a hindrance of one sort or another.
This book worked for me. I enjoyed the way it was written, I liked the characters very much except for the one I hated and he was born to be hated several lives over. I enjoy time travel books and had anticipated that this was to be one but it wasn't. Daniel didn't travel back and forth through time. He was born, lived and died only to be born again in another time and place. The book does, however, go from current back to another life and returns to current time and time again.
Daniel overdosed on heroin in one life only to be born (& abandoned) in the next life by a heroin addicted mother. I loved his constant searching of Sophia/Lucy. The name he knew her by when he first fell in love with her was Sophia but her name in today's world was Lucy.
It is a very simple little love story that spans time and lifetimes. It is enjoyable, a fast read, a good book to take on holiday. There is no real depth here but I did enjoy the book. Not all books have to be intense or have a lot of depth to be enjoyed. This little story works.

69judylou
Jan 24, 2014, 1:21 am

Sounds like a hit!

70rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:05 pm

21. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan; (4*)

Reading anything by Robert Nathan is like reading poetry. His words are so beautifully scripted on the page. It is unfortunate that his work goes so unappreciated in our time and that so many of his works are no longer in print.

This lovely short novella was written in 1939 and is an odd & haunting story. I found it to be beautiful & moving. It is about a young struggling & starving artist, Eben, who meets a mysterious little girl, Jennie, playing alone in the park on a misty, foggy late afternoon. They befriend one another and when they part she asks him to wait for her telling him that she will hurry. As they walk away from each other Eben turns for a last glimpse at this remarkable child, he finds that she has vanished in the mist.
Over the years Jennie returns to Eben and always it seems to him that she has grown so & each time she seems much older than when he last saw her. Jennie seems rather disconnected from time and tells him of living in a place that Eben knows is no longer there. She is so eager to finish growing up so that she can be with Eben always. He is fascinated and perhaps obsessed with her.
Eben sketches her over these years and these works are practically the only paintings/sketches that he can sell. They allow him to continue & to improve his painting.
Jennie has become Eben's muse. One time when she comes to him he begins painting her. This Portrait of Jennie takes a very long time to complete as her visits are sparse & short. I was enthralled by each appearance of Jennie and so eager for the next meeting between Eben and Jennie, the mysterious girl/woman.
The author has created wonderful minor characters in the gentleman & lady who own the gallery where he sells & attempts to sell his work. Also the character of Gus, the taxi driver, the owner of the cafe, & Eben's painter friend are marvelous characters.

When I reached the end of the book I wanted to take it up and read it again. It is a book in my collection that I am certain I will be reading again and again as time passes. This is truly a timeless classic, a lovely story.

71Berly
Jan 27, 2014, 12:15 am

Delurking to say Hi! Some great reads her already. : )

72wareagle78
Jan 28, 2014, 3:01 am

Rainpebble, you have made Portrait of Jennie sound so very beautiful. I've added it to my list.

73rainpebble
Jan 29, 2014, 4:18 pm

>72 wareagle78::
Thank you wareagle. I loved it so much & did find it a beautiful read. If you do read it I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It was rather other-worldly in a very nice way.

>71 Berly::
Hi Berly. Thank you for popping over to 'see' me. Hope things are well with you & the family. (ie.....no sick kids) hugs,

74rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:17 am

24. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult; 4 stars

For most of us personal achievement is a goal in and of itself. For the Amish being a member of the community is what is important. These two conflicting world views collide when attorney Ellie Hathaway agrees to defend Katie Fisher, her distant 18-year-old Amish cousin, against the charge that she killed premature newborn infant son.
Katie denies both the murder & the birth which means she is either mentally unstable or lying. Given her religious faith the latter is unbelievable and as Ellie gets to know Katie the former becomes less and less believable as well. Where does the truth lie?
Although this question is answered by the end of the book, Plain Truth is less a mystery than it is a fascinating work of fiction about the Amish life as compared to the secular life led by Ellie Hathaway. In order to keep Katie out of jail pending the trial she agrees to take custody of Katie which means living on the Fisher family's farm and integrating into some of their "Plain" ways.
This premise does not come across as contrived in the context of the story. The narrative, the main and secondary characters, and the setting of the "Plain" culture are seamlessly integrated to create a very strong work of fiction.

75rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:33 pm

MY JANUARY READS:

For ORANGE JANUARY:

1. The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler; (3*)
2. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd; (5*)
3. The Seas by Samantha Hunt; (4 1/2*)
4. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson; (5*)
5. Home by Marilynne Robinson; (4*)
6. Annabel by Kathleen Winter; (4*)
7. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; (4 1/2*)
8. The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey; (4*)
9. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson; (5*)
____________________________________________________________

For THE GREAT WAR THEME READ:
10. William, an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton; (2 1/2*); a Persephone
11. Wake by Anna Hope; (3*); an E/R
____________________________________________________________

12. Remember My Name by Sarah H. Banks; (4*); a Y/A
13. Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott; (4 1/2*)
14. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier; (4 1/2*); a VMC
15. Far From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy; (4*)
16. The Walk by Richard Paul Evans; (4 1/2*)
17. Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe; (4*)
18. Above Suspicion by Helen MacInnes; (3 1/2*)
19. If Morning Ever Comes by Anne Tyler; (3*)
20. Eden Close by Anita Shreve; (4*)
21. Portrait of Jennie by Robert Nathan; (4*)
22. Christmas at High Rising by Angela Thirkell; VMC; (4*)
23. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares; (3*)
(similiar plot-line to that of Life After Life
24. Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult; (4*)
25. The Waterbabies by Charles Kingsley; Y/A; Children's Classics; (3*)

76mabith
Jan 31, 2014, 9:20 am

Wow, great month!

77rainpebble
Editado: Jul 17, 2014, 1:46 am



I've begun my February reads with a book which just 65 pages in has me so hooked that I couldn't sleep last night though I tried. I couldn't quit thinking about A Woman in Berlin which is the nonfictional war diary of a young anonymous Berlin woman who began writing "on the day Berlin first saw the face of the war" and wrote through June 22, 1945.

26. How They Spend Their Sundays by Courtney McDermott; ARC/ER;
(2 1/2*)
27. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery; BFB; (3 1/2*)
28. Hens and Chickens by Jennifer Wixson; an ARC/ER; (3*)
29. All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull; an ARC/ER; (1*)
30. Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger; an ARC/ER; (2 1/2 *)
31. No Child of Mine by Susan Lewis; an ARC/ER; (3*)
32. The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; My Orange read of the month; L/L, 2000; (4*)
33. Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins; an ARC/ER; (4*)
34. The Forgiveness Solution: The Whole-Body Rx for Finding True Happiness, Abundant Love, and Inner Peace by Philip H. Friedman; an ARC/ER; (3 1/2*)
35. A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous; VMC; (4*)
36. Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier; VMC; (4*)
37. Consequences by Penelope Lively; (4 1/2*)
38. The Setons by O. Douglas; Great War Theme Read; (5*)
39. The Young Merlin Trilogy: Passager, Hobby, and Merlin by Jane Yolen; Y/A; (4*)
40. Harriet Hume by Rebecca West, VMC; (2*)
41. Angels Watching Over Me by Michael Phillips; Y/A; (4*)
42. A Day to Pick Your Own Cotton by Michael Phillips; Y/A; (4*)
43. The Color of Your Skin Ain't the Color of Your Heart by Michael Phillips; Y/A; (4*)

78wookiebender
Fev 1, 2014, 5:28 am

Well, congratulations on reaching 25 already! (I didn't think I'd be typing that for a few weeks yet, at least. :)

79mabith
Fev 1, 2014, 10:07 am

Definitely adding A Woman in Berlin to my list.

80wareagle78
Fev 1, 2014, 2:25 pm

I've added it too. Sounds like an interesting follow-up to City of Women that I read in January.

81Helenliz
Fev 1, 2014, 2:45 pm

That's an impressive collection for one month! And some good looking books in there, too.

82wareagle78
Fev 1, 2014, 3:02 pm

I loved The Walk, even read the next one in the series. Of course I can't remember its name now, blast.

83rainpebble
Fev 3, 2014, 1:12 am

>82 wareagle78::
Teresa, the second in the Richard Paul Evans series is Miles to Go. I really enjoyed reading The Walk but do not feel tempted to read the remainder of the series. Perhaps one day.
And I've not yet read City of Women but if it is even a fraction as good as A Woman In Berlin it will indeed be worth checking for at the library. Thank you.

>81 Helenliz::
Helen, I did read some very good books last month and a great variety of tales as well. I was happy that I managed 9 Orange books for Orange January. Hopefully I can get at least 8 in during Orange July as well. Thank you.

>79 mabith::
Meredith, I am flying through it even though it is nonfiction & not written as a story. I am finding it really quite good.

>78 wookiebender::
Thank you Tania but the only reason I read as much as I did is that I have been greatly depressed this Winter and I think I left the house 2 times in January. My husband did most of the work around the old place and left me in quiet to read, as being with anyone, even my most beloved, put my nerves right on the surface. For some reason it has been much worse this past few months. If I had been feeling well and like doing anything I wouldn't have read nearly as much as I did.

84judylou
Fev 3, 2014, 1:33 am

Sorry to hear you haven't been feeling the best lately. Perhaps when the weather brightens up you may feel better?

85rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:33 pm

41. Angels Watching Over Me by Michael Phillips; Y/A; (book 1/4) (4*)

This book introduces us to (Mayme), freed from slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation, and Katy Clairborne, now the mistress of a plantation in North Carolina. Both of their families were killed in the Massacres during the aftermath of the Civil War. They are two young girls close in age but with very different lives. Mayme was a young slave girl living on a plantation several miles (but light years) away Katy's family's plantation. Through Mayme's experiences the reader is exposed to the everyday life of a young slave and through Katy's experiences we learn about the life of a young girl whose family owns a plantation.
When Mayme's family is killed she hides and when she comes out of hiding everyone, black & white, on the plantation is dead or gone. She buries her family and takes to the woods & trails trying to put as many miles behind her as she can.
After several days she comes upon a plantation house that appears to be deserted. Their are dead folk around but as Mayme is starving she decides to brave going into the plantation house in search of food. When she enters the kitchen she sees a young white girl standing alone. After the shock to both girls she learned that Katy, the white girl is the lone survivor of the massacre. Mayme buries Katy's family also. Katy is still in shock.
This begins the saga of these two young girls who come together despite all of their differences to help & comfort one another. Now they just need to hide the fact that they are there alone from any parties who come along in order to protect themselves.

86wookiebender
Fev 3, 2014, 8:21 pm

Yes, sorry to hear that you've not been well. Glad to see that your husband knows how to help, and I do hope you get better soon. Maybe sunshine *and* warmth will help (Judy & I are Australian, we're bound to think that sunshine & warmth will fix anything :).

87mabith
Editado: Fev 3, 2014, 10:40 pm

Tania - Whereas I, being a West Virginian (the only state entirely in the Appalachian mountain range), feel that views of mountains and being wrapped in the hills is the cure-all.

Hope you're starting to feel better, Belva!

88Tanya-dogearedcopy
Fev 3, 2014, 10:28 pm

> 87 By any chance, did you mean "Tania"? Or is this a response to something I responded to on another thread about viruses and the drought?

89mabith
Fev 3, 2014, 10:40 pm

Misspelling, annoyingly! I try to be so good about that too, since my name is misspelled all the time. Sorry!

90ferlicaaudept
Fev 3, 2014, 10:42 pm

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

91Tanya-dogearedcopy
Fev 3, 2014, 11:06 pm

> 88 LOL, Nothing to be sorry about! I was just a little bit confused as your response seemed to fit perfectly on another thread!

BTW, I live in the Siskiyou Mountain range of Southern Oregon, more specifically in the Rogue Valley. The 1994 movie, The River Wild (starring Kevin Bacon) was shot just a few miles away and; the 1995 Jim Jarmusch movie, Dead Man (starring Johnny Depp) is within the region. Both movies give a very good idea of where I live :-)

My mother's family lives in upstate Pennsylvania in the Appalachian Mountain range. They've been up there since the late 1880's when one of my German forefathers came over on a boat. They *aren't* Pennsylvania Dutch; but still a rather unique culture combining mountain life and old world gypsy tradition! I have yet to come across a book or movie that illumines what kind of world they live in!

92wookiebender
Fev 3, 2014, 11:27 pm

#87> Meredith, I didn't realise that West Virginia was entirely in the Appalachian mountain range! We were discussing WV recently too, trying to remember what mountain ranges were where in America, and at least we got Appalachian and West Virginia correct! :)

#90> Go away, you horrid spam bot.

#91> I've seen "Dead Man" (although with a killer headache), but that does give me a feel for your local area. Black and white, right? ;)

93Tanya-dogearedcopy
Editado: Fev 4, 2014, 1:27 am

And every once in great while, a splash of color :-)



This is a picture I took of nearby Crater Lake a couple of years ago during a blue moon night. As the sun was setting on one hand (above,) the moon was rising on the other :-)

94judylou
Fev 4, 2014, 2:12 am

Now that looks like a beautiful piece of country.

95wookiebender
Fev 4, 2014, 5:10 am

And a lake *in a volcano crater*. That's pretty cool.

96LShelby
Fev 4, 2014, 12:51 pm

>94 judylou: + 95 I agree!

97rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:25 am

I spent last evening reading a book of shorts I received as an ER/ARC.

26. How They Spend Their Sundays by Courtney McDermott; 2 1/2 stars

I found this book of short stories to be a fair first attempt by this author. She has written it in a very different manner from most books of shorts that I have read previously. In fact I found the entire book to be a harsh look at the setting of Lesotho and South Africa.
It is divided into three parts with the first being rather harsh stories of family, forbidden love and poverty beyond one's belief if one has never seen it.
The second part is written in what the publisher calls "energetic bursts of flash fiction". We are shown in vignettes of just a page or two snippets of life here in the setting of the book, Lesotho & South Africa, of animal life, the weather and the lives of people.
The third part shares with us a story of a vampire-like man who takes the lives of the dying if they desire to go sooner rather than suffer longer. By day he works in a land fill as that stench covers the stench of blood on him. But people instinctively shy away from him as though they have a sense of something not quite right. There is one neighbor lady who visits him and knows about him. This gives him a release to talk a bit about what he does but even with her he does not share everything.
In the third part there is also the story of a village man, I assume it is a man, who is sick and can find no water. In the seeking of slaking his thirst he finds his mother dead in her hut. The entire village seems to be dead. He buries her by burning the hut and goes on in his search for something to drink.
The last story of the book is a Cinderella type story but with a witch rather than a fairy god mother.
In point of fact the longer I think of this book and these stories the less I like the book. This it could be because I do not read sci fi nor horror stories unless they are classics. I did find McDermott's writing to be fine. IDK; just my take.

98rainpebble
Editado: Mar 3, 2014, 12:26 am



I've begun my February reads with a book which just 65 pages in has me so hooked that I couldn't sleep last night though I tried. I couldn't quit thinking about A Woman in Berlin which is the nonfictional war diary of a young anonymous Berlin woman who began writing "on the day Berlin first saw the face of the war" and wrote through June 22, 1945.

26. How They Spend Their Sundays by Courtney McDermott; ARC/ER;
(2 1/2*)
27. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery; BFB; (3 1/2*)
28. Hens and Chickens by Jennifer Wixson; an ARC/ER; (3*)
29. All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull; an ARC/ER; (1*)
30. Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger; an ARC/ER; (2 1/2 *)
31. No Child of Mine by Susan Lewis; an ARC/ER; (3*)
32. The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; My Orange read of the month; L/L, 2000; (4*)
33. Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins; an ARC/ER; (4*)
34. The Forgiveness Solution: The Whole-Body Rx for Finding True Happiness, Abundant Love, and Inner Peace by Philip H. Friedman; an ARC/ER; (3 1/2*)
35. A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous; a VMC; (4*);
36. Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier; a VMC; (4*)
37. Consequences by Penelope Lively; (4 1/2*)
38. The Setons by O. Douglas; (5*); Great War Theme Read
39. The Young Merlin Trilogy; a Y/A; (4*)
40. Harriet Hume by Rebecca West; a VMC; (2*)
41. Angels Watching Over Me by Michael Phillips; Y/A; (4*)
42. A Day to Pick Your Own Cotton by Michael Phillips; Y/A; (4*)
43. Color of Your Skin Ain't the Color of Your Heart by Michael Phillips; Y/A; (4*)

99rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:33 pm

42. A Day to Pick Your Own Cotton by Michael Phillips; book 2/4; Y/A; (4*)

Mayme and Katy are now fifteen and they share the secret that all of Katy's family & slaves are dead. The two girls have decided to continue to live at Katy's plantation, Rosewood, on their own and pretend that Katie's mother is still alive. As if that were not difficult enough, now they must protect three other people as well. Emma, a former slave and her baby, William, are hiding at Rosewood from William's father who is the son of Emma's former master as well as Mayme's, though the girls did not know one another. (Emma being a house slave and Mayme being a field slave)
Also a little white girl, Aleta has found them and needs care & protection. She and her mother were running away from the girl's drunken, abusive father when their horse went down and the mother was killed. So she also is living at Rosewood and is determined not to return home to her father.
Mayme and Katie have other worries as well. A loan is due soon at the bank and if they don't pay they will not be able to protect their secret and Katy will lose Rosewood. They also have secretly learned that one of Katy's uncles went to California in the gold rush days and may have left some gold in her mother's keeping.

100rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:26 am

27. Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray; (3 1/2*)

This review will read a bit strangely as it was a group read and I commented on each "part" as I finished reading it.

Spoilers ahead!~!

I enjoyed this read tremendously and I found much to admire in our little Becky Sharp. She had a lot on the ball and was very quick to know what she needed to do in order to attain her wants and needs. Those who pity her need think again.
I found Jos to be a big old baby puss and thought that he needed to "man up". But his character truly suited the narration of the story. I did think that his sister, Miss Amelia's character changed too much in the story line. I quite liked her in the beginning, but throughout the middle part...................
The class levels in Vanity Fair are very much "out there" but strangely I see a lot of the same small ostracizings going on today.
Surprising things happening midway through the book.
What a wonderful hero our Captain Dobbin is turning out to be. I rooted for him the entire way through and for things to turn out nicely for him.
I must say that I found the encouragement of the courting of Miss Swartz by Mr. Crawley, the younger, quite odd for this time period and at the same time found it quite brave of the "younger" to refrain from obedience and to follow his heart.
Not only soldiers go to war during this era. Apparently people found battles to be of great entertainment as they followed them and could not get there quickly enough. Amazing that more civilians did not die at the front than did.
Miss Amelia is quickly turning to milk toast. Funny, I thought she had more spunk than that and perchance by book's end it will show it's face again.
Well, well, well, our Miss Becky is beginning to show her true colors and her adeptness at using people very much to her advantage. Not that she has not all the way through the book done this, but she does it now with a different attitude and heart.
Jos is off somewhere, most likely in India again doing whatever he does there. Miss Amelia has begun to grow a backbone which I am so glad to see.
Thackeray writes this entire work with his tongue in his cheek and I quite enjoy the result of his efforts. This third part is a bit slow going up until the last chapter. Then things begin to pick up.
My, my, my. Such happenings and carryings on as we should ever see. Things coming together to the benefit of "some". Becky getting her comeuppance and then getting her life back to the order in which she enjoys. Miss Amelia waking up to see the real order of the world, getting rid of her rose colored glasses, coming to her senses and doing what she most likely has wanted to do all along. Poor Jos; such an unknowingly sad life and such a sad demise. Do we dare to think he was poisoned? And William...... well, William is finally growing some big kahunas at last and is standing up for himself.
Thackeray has written a very enjoyable tete-a tete here and I find I quite liked it. I think it could have been compiled into perhaps 480 pages instead of 680. I loved all the little sketches throughout the book.
I am very happy to have read this book as I was previously not familiar with Thackeray in the least. I still don't know that I am but I am interested enough to try something else of his.

101bryanoz
Fev 6, 2014, 11:18 pm

Great review for a great classic Belva, couldn't agree more !

102jfetting
Fev 7, 2014, 9:39 am

I'm a huge fan of Becky Sharp. She'd be horrible to know IRL, but so much fun to read about.

103wookiebender
Fev 7, 2014, 7:00 pm

I started Vanity Fair but didn't finish. Must try again!

When I was a kid, I always thought it was about a fair, as in about a carnival. I think, even though I now know that's wrong, it still colored what I expected should be happening in the book. :)

104LShelby
Fev 8, 2014, 8:42 am

I read Vanity Fair when I was 15. I remember being much amused by the extremely snarky tone, in spite of not warming up to the majority of characters, and getting a huge kick out of the chapter title "How to Live on Nothing a Year" (or words to that effect -- it has been over a quarter of a century.)

105mabith
Fev 8, 2014, 10:29 am

103 - I haven't read it, slightly in part because I still enjoy imagining it as a big carnival made up solely of "Hall of Mirrors" tents.

106rainpebble
Editado: Fev 8, 2014, 11:27 pm

>101 bryanoz::
Thank you Bryan.

>102 jfetting::
I know just what you mean Jennifer. Our Miss Becky was so much fun to read and I enjoyed her no end but I certainly would not wish her for my best friend. lol!~!

>103 wookiebender::
Tania, I was the same. Until I read it, actually, I did think it was about a city when a huge fair came to town and of course I had no idea what a fair would be like given the time of the writing of the book.

>104 LShelby::
I know Shelby. It is very tongue in cheek, right?

105:
Meredith, that is a very interesting visual and makes me quite understand why one may not wish to read this one.

107rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:27 am

28. Hens and Chickens by Jennifer Wixson; 3 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story. It's a familiar fantasy; escaping from the rat race, moving to a small town in Maine and starting an egg farm. Two coworkers, who are also best friends make this move after the older woman is fired from her job. Her younger coworker leaves the job in support of her. Through an online acquaintance they decide to check out a farm for sale in rural Maine.
They fall in love with the town and with the people they meet there. And of course the town falls in love with them. Some of the characters a little too good to be true but isn't that the way of it in an idyllic tale? And that didn't affect my enjoyment in reading about them. There are trials and tribulations of course but the main theme is one of support, friendship and love.
This is a charming little tale and told quite delightfully. If you want a light, easy, comfy read you might just give it a try.

108rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:29 am

29. All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull; an ARC/ER, thank you; (1*)

After reading Almost French, which I greatly enjoyed, I found All Good Things to be a bit of a let down. It was easy to read but it did not engage this reader as the previous book had done. It seems very self indulgent and as though she were struggling to write it. Perhaps she should have left the first as a stand-alone book. She is a much better writer than this book shows.
I am sorry but I simply was unable to connect with her travels, her new life in Tahiti, the trying to have a baby and all of the treatments, her marriage, the swimming, diving & fishing, etc. I just wished that I had picked up something else to read.

109rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:30 am

30. Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger; an ARC/ER; 2 1/2 stars

Margaret is widowed in almost every sense of the word. Her husband lies in a nursing home in a vegetative state after having been injured in Afghanistan. She remains a very loyal wife and feels responsible for him and to him. She cares for their young son and works the family dairy farm along with her father-in-law.
In the meanwhile, she falls in love with another man but does not permit herself to pursue this relationship because her husband is still technically 'alive'. The story highlights the grief that many military families experience. Grief in all forms and not just that reserved for death.

110rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:33 am

31. No Child of Mine by Susan Lewis; an ARC/ER; 3 stars

Alex, a social worker in England, is completely devoted to her job and to the children whose lives she touches. When she meets Ottillie she immediately knows that something is not right with the child. Constricted by rules she is only able to help the child in small ways.

This book was haunting. I almost put it down several times but I kept reading because I had to know what happened to Ottillie. If you are someone who is easily disturbed or overly emotional about child abuse, this book probably isn't for you. However it is well written and the characters are living breathing people.

I found it quite worth the time I spent reading it.

111rainpebble
Editado: Jun 15, 2014, 5:39 am


glitter-graphics.com

32. Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; 4 stars; My Orange for February; Orange L/L; 2000

Tracy Chevalier’s novel, The Girl With a Pearl Earring, was a captivating story, a blend of history and fiction, inspired by a famous painting. Set in the 1600s 16 year old Griet is sent to work for a successful painter of the time, Vermeer. During the course of her apprenticeship, her master takes a romantic interest in her as she does him. Chevalier creates an amazing plot for the picture and creates a story that captures the reader although she never fully develops her characters’ feelings which detracts from the romanticism of the story.
The story that the author creates using this beautiful picture is one that shows an incredible amount of creativity. Chevalier imagines a story behind the painting that is sometimes referred to as the “Dutch Mona Lisa”. Even though no one knows who the girl in the painting is Chevalier is able to envision a romance about her. She invents a love story that crosses class lines as well as religious lines in a rigid society. The author portrays beautiful imagery for the reader. She describes the paintings making the reader feel as if they are right before them. Griet describes a woman in one of the paintings: “She wore a mantle of rich yellow satin trimmed with white ermine, and a fashionable five point ribbon in her hair.” The reader can imagine this woman’s elegant clothing with ease and can easily become mesmerized by by the descriptiveness of the novel.
Although the characters in the novel are interesting and cleverly drawn they lack depth of feeling and their motivations remain hidden from the reader. While it is easy to understand a few of the characters the two main ones, Griet and Vermeer, are never fully exposed. The reader is never told in any depth what Griet feels and thinks and Vermeer remains a mystery. At the end of the novel immediately after Vermeer finishes the painting of Griet Chevalier decides to end the story. Griet runs out of the house when Vermeer’s wife Catharina, sees the painting. There is no explanation of how Griet changes from this experience or what she truly feels. That left this reader with many unanswered questions.
The Girl with a Pearl Earring was an interesting mixture of history and fiction. Chevalier is successful with her imagery and with the plot of the story. However she could have improved the novel by adding the exquisite detail that she used in the plot and imagery, applying it to the characters. The novel, even with those negative points was quite successful for this reader. I simply wanted more.

112Tanya-dogearedcopy
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 11:28 am

So, a few years ago, I read The Girl with the Pearl Earring as part of a Art Reading Challenge. I became so intrigued by the descriptions of the paintings in the book, that when I went back East that year, I had to go to The National Gallery to check out the Vermeers (five!) that they had on display. Meanwhile, my daughter was killing time somewhere else on the grounds...

This past Spring, I could not get DH or daughter interested in a quick trip down to San Francisco to check out the iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring which is on loan to the US while its home in the Netherlands is being renovated. Soon, the painting went even farther afield to NYC and so I missed my chance...

So then, after so many opportunities to see Vermeer "live" my daughter was reading Chasing Vermeer (by Blue Balliet) and she actually said, "I wish I could go see some Vermeer paintings." That "thunk" you heard? That was my head hitting the desk!

We did make up for it a little bit by going to see "Vermeer and Music," a film showing of the exhibit in London showcasing, not only some of Vermeer's paintings, but the instruments portrayed in the paintings. The movie included a snippet of a antique music performance and, commentary from curators and Tracy Chevalier! :-)

I also saw the movie, The Girl with the pearl Earring (starring Colin Firth and Scarlett Johanssen) and thought it was a great film adaptation.

As for as the book goes, I don't know why, but I actually liked that bit of distance from the characters. It made me feel like I was peering into their world as opposed to living it per se. I don't know why, but it worked for me!

113rainpebble
Fev 14, 2014, 2:55 am

>112 Tanya-dogearedcopy::
Tanya, that is fascinating! So glad that you got to see the five Vermeers that you did. You must have been thrilled. Vermeer and Music sounds like a beautiful bit of film. I wonder if it is still about.
I've not seen the movie showing of The Girl With the Pearl Earring. I didn't even know one had been made but now that I do I will have to see if I can watch it on Netflix or get it from my library.
I liked the way the book was written as well. I do recall not wanting it to end.

114rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 4:35 am

33. Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins; an ARC/ER; 4 stars

This is one of the best debuts of a book of shorts that I have had the pleasure of read in quite some time. Watkins' level of control over her prose is stunning and reads like the work of a writer much older than 29. She writes refreshingly opting for depth over the charms of style and mode favored by many of our younger writers today. Her characters are complex and real with personal depths that often seem bottomless making them in a sense unknowable. However perhaps it is that seemingly unknowable essence which makes them come truly alive for the reader. We can't explain them but we feel them in a way that confounds easy expression. Similarly the characters are equally unable to explain themselves and their struggle to do so is what lies at the heat of the book. They are in pain. They are 'battle born'. They are not quite sure why and end up battling themselves and their surroundings in order to uncover a narrative that would explain to them and to us how they've managed to end up here and quite possibly as a result how they can escape. Through their search the characters end up creating beauty, however fleeting it may be, from misery and Watkins does the same drawing the two so closely that by the end it is difficult to clearly distinguish where one ends and the other begins. Watkins shows how the search for a clean narrative, a story, is intimately linked with the act of redemption.
I totally recommend this book of short stories.

115rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 5:22 am

34. The Forgiveness Solution by Philip H. Friedman, PhD; 3 1/2 stars

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It is about the need and practice of constant forgiveness by ourselves for ourselves and for other people. This can be extremely hard for some of us. Forgiveness opens the door to greater happiness and joy. What I liked most about the book is the exercises that can be applied to everyday life and situations so that one can see the results and take stock of growth and of areas in need of improvement.
I found the book to be helpful in recognizing even the smallest areas where I have unhealthy thoughts and feelings I was unaware of many of these until I read the book. Holding grudges, even the slightest ones, hurt us more than the intended target. That person probably doesn't know how you feel and for sure doesn't care. It has been a wonderful reminder that this is a lifelong journey. If you are open minded and put in the necessary work I think you will find this book most useful.

116rainpebble
Editado: Fev 14, 2014, 5:27 am



WHEW!~! I am finally caught up on my ARC/ERs. I vow NEVER to get behind on them again! NEVER!~!

117rainpebble
Fev 14, 2014, 5:28 am

35. A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous; 4 1/2 stars

This is a wonderful, as much for what the author does not say as for what she does say. The author was a professional writer and editor and the diary is a very powerful study of these few weeks of the history of Berlin.
The author is more a survivor than a heroine. She becomes numbed by by the experiences she suffers & of those around her. She does not following a moral code but does what she must to survive. She suppresses her rage for that would be of no help to her. The demands of day to day survival require that she must endure what the Russian army takes from her & does to her. We never learn the real cost to her in terms of the rest of her life as we do not know her. Her understated way of describing the literal rape of a city makes the horror that much more palpable.
The author avoids callow sermonizing and obvious appeals to the reader's emotions. There is not a trace of self-pity here. This is obviously material that speaks for itself and in the author's skilled hands it does just that.
The author was well-educated, reasonably well-traveled, at least a passive acceptor of the Nazi state, and not inclined in this diary to express any particular sense of regret at what that state had done. It is mostly others in the diary who make the point that the German army probably did worse to the Russians than is being done to them. A point on which historians would agree. As horrific as the rapes were, the Russians were intent on alcohol and women, not mass murder of civilians.
Smart, clever, more sophisticated and world-weary than the average good German, the author was simply a citizen muddling through as best she could, neither the best nor the worst. She makes the horrible and unimaginable seem almost ordinary.
This book was a refreshing read as it is fairly matter of fact. I very highly recommend it.

118rainpebble
Fev 15, 2014, 5:02 pm

Today I observe the anniversary of the death in 1947, my birth year, of Marshall Saunders who wrote the first 'book' I ever read: Beautiful Joe. I was 6 years old and in 1st grade at the time. To this date I still love that book.
Thank you Marshall Saunders for being the first author to instill the love of reading in my heart, soul & mind.

119mabith
Fev 15, 2014, 5:19 pm

Aw, that's so sweet! I don't remember which is the first book I read myself, though I'm pretty sure I remember what the first children's novel I read was (it was terrible though).

120judylou
Fev 15, 2014, 6:18 pm

What a nice sentiment. I have no idea of the first book I ever read myself. None at all.

121wareagle78
Fev 16, 2014, 3:01 am

Oh my. The first book I "read" was Scat, Scat by Linda K. Francis. I say "read" because I really just recited it from memory after frequent re-listenings. The first book I truly read on my own was some Dr. Suess or another.

122wookiebender
Fev 16, 2014, 5:11 pm

The first book I really remember reading on my own was The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel. And I read it obsessively, over and over and over! Wish I knew where my copy went to, sigh.

123jfetting
Fev 17, 2014, 10:55 am

What a lovely tribute to Mr. Saunders! I don't remember the very first book I read by myself, but I do remember that my first "real" book (meaning one with chapters) was The Wind in the Willows. It was the summer after kindergarten and I was convinced that I was very grown up with my chapter books and all.

124rainpebble
Fev 20, 2014, 3:08 pm

>123 jfetting::
Now you've made me want to read Wind in the Willows again. I don't think I've read since reading it to my grandchildren and my greats live too far away for me to be able to read to them. We are too busy getting reacquainted again each time I see them.
Do you know if there is a single edition containing all of the stories & drawings within it's covers? I can find them individually and in 3 Omnibus forms but.......would love to have them all in one.
The same with the Beatrix Potters. I finally found a Winnie the Pooh complete edition. Ahhh, the troubles one has with the collection addiction.

>122 wookiebender::
I've yet to have the joy of The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel. Must check that one out.......

>121 wareagle78::
Same with Scat, Scat. Do love that title!
And speaking of Dr. Seuss, do you remember Yertle the Turtle? Oh how I loved that one. But I didn't find Dr. Seuss until reading to my children in the 60s & 70s. I doubt he was around when I was a child besides which my mother never read to us. All 7 of us learned on our own.
My favorite of his has always been Horton Hears a Who because even as a young mother reading this to my children I could imagine myself in that tiny, tiny world.

>120 judylou::
Hark back Judy. It will eventually come to you.

>119 mabith::
Well now c'mon & share Meredith. You have made me curious something awful!

125rainpebble
Fev 20, 2014, 3:20 pm

I am currently reading a Y/A: Jane Yolen's The Young Merlin Trilogy containing Passager, (completed), Hobby, (nearly completed) and Merlin. I love Yolen's writing and this one contains: Passager, Hobby & Merlin. It's very good, both the writing and the imagination. It's so easy to see in the mind's eye everything that occurs.
I am loving the Olympics but it is quite difficult to get anything done around them including my reading. And then too they run way into the night & that is when I do most of my reading; in bed. Need a telly in my room just for the time of the Olympics. But I suppose I can manage. It's just every four years.

126mabith
Fev 20, 2014, 7:06 pm

Oh I love Yolen too! Hers were a favorite when I was young. I vividly remember when I read The Young Merlin trilogy.

My first "not just a picture book but not a novel" that I read was "Help!" Yelled Maxwell (a fantastic book, which I just recently read to my nephew). Then my first novel was Clues in the Woods (awful!). Luckily in I read The Hobbit right after that which made me decide that I wanted to read novels myself after all. I was mainly an "Yes, adults should read chapter books to me, and I will focus on comic books myself" kid before that.

127Helenliz
Fev 21, 2014, 4:27 am

124> You need the Alan Bennet audio of Wind in the Willows. Just the best 3 hours you can imagine.

128wookiebender
Fev 21, 2014, 8:23 am

LOL, I just asked Don if we have a copy of Yertle the Turtle (what a brilliant book!) and his comment was "if you only read one book on turtle stacking..."

Sadly, don't think we have a copy, although I think I read it to my niece not that long ago (although, given she's now 13, maybe it was a few years ago...).

Belva, I'm not guaranteeing any quality to Chatterer the Squirrel, but the author does seem to have fans still. I may have to find a new copy! And I haven't read much Jane Yolen, but it's a name a remember with fondness.

129rainpebble
Editado: Jul 16, 2014, 7:37 pm

43. Color of Your Skin Ain't the Color of Your Heart by Michael Phillips; book 3/4; Y/A; (4*)

This volume continues the story of Mayme and Katie as they strive to survive alone on the North Carolina plantation. Now the girls survive a devastating flood which takes much of their cotton crop which they were going to sell to pay off the bank. They also encounter hostile visitors and must come up with money to pay off a loan or risk losing Rosewood. Their friend & helper Henry, and Jeremiah, his son, also freed slaves check in on the girls at the plantation regularly and provide what assistance, protection and advice they can. In spite of the difficulties they encounter Mayme and Katie are reunited with friends and family. They discover new shocking family connections and for the first time a hint of romance enters their lives.

130mabith
Fev 22, 2014, 11:39 pm

Ha, well, only a few of us have rated it! It is a GREAT book though. Perfect example of the very-short chapter book type for kids (the type with pictures on third page at least). Plus there are no adults in it, which adds to things, I feel.

131rainpebble
Fev 23, 2014, 3:04 pm

Oh yes Meredith. Nicely said, that! I like to think that this world would be a better & certainly a happier place if it was not populated by adults. Truly......how many adults are really happy people? And if it were not for the adults how many children would be happy little people? it boggles my mind thinking of it.

132mabith
Fev 23, 2014, 4:36 pm

There are a fair few happy and sensible adults in my family (well, book people, naturally), but yeah. And I think kids always need book refuges that don't have adults horning in.

133rainpebble
Fev 24, 2014, 4:22 pm

40. Harriet Hume: A London Fantasy by Rebecca West; 2 stars

I thought I was going to like/love this book. I failed and failed miserably. Perhaps if the book had been a mere 150 pages rather than 300, perhaps if I had found the characters even somewhat believable as fantasies, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.........
The plot, if there is one, is that of a man with high expectations of his future drifting in and out of the life of an exquisite & mind reading sprite of a lovely but poor pianist.
He wishes to be rich and powerful at any cost and she seems content with her lot. He marries into money, compromising any ethics he may have in building his career and in the end finds himself a ruined man. Harriet remains the same.
The book is written in a sweet, flowery manner and I could have enjoyed it in a brief novella but was unable to in full book form.
I don't know that I can recommend this one and that makes me sad.

134rainpebble
Fev 24, 2014, 4:58 pm

37. Consequences by Penelope Lively; 4 1/2 stars

This is a wonderful story from a new (to me) but excellent author. She gives us the lives of three generations of women beginning in pre-WW II England. The story begins with a young woman, Lorna, who wants to live a meaningful life and is crossed at every turn by her high minded & moneyed parents. She accidentally meets a man, Matt, in the park and they begin to see each other. They eventually fall in love and marry against the wishes of her parents who turn their back on her.
She and her husband who is a wood engraver find an inexpensive cottage in the country and live a simple life. The story of Matt's engraving work could be a story entirely unto itself. I loved all of that.
He & Lorna have a little girl, Molly, and life is wonderful for them even though they are poor as church mice. Then comes the war. Matt feels that he must enlist and begs Lorna to go to his parents but she refuses and is set on waiting at the cottage for him to return.
Molly, as she grows up, becomes the center of the story and her daughter Ruth, after her.
Each woman's story is somewhat briefly but beautifully told. And as I am sure you have guessed the main theme of the book is that one lives out the consequences of one's life choices.
I found this to be a lovely book. I want to read more of Lively's works and I recommend this one not for it's depth but rather for it's ease, comfort and readability.

135rainpebble
Fev 24, 2014, 5:29 pm

39. The Young Merlin Trilogy by Jane Yolen; 4 stars

This is a nice set of Y/A books about Merlin's youth.

As a child he is abandoned by his family. The book intimates that it is because of something different about him that would make them vulnerable if found out. So he is forced to live as a feral child in the woods until he is befriended by a kindly farmer. This first book tells of him being reintroduced to a domestic life, learning to trust again, to farm & to work with animals and birds of prey.

The second book tells of Merlin falling in with a traveling magician & his wife who eventually abandon him because they come to fear his dreams, the fist signs of his magic. He goes back to the forest where he feels safe and comes upon wild people who live a transient life in the woods, always moving to remain safe from people who would harm them. He remains with them for a time and when he leaves one of the small boys follows him.

The only hints of the young Merlin's magic in these books are the dreams which foretell the future. But they don't clearly tell the future. For as Merlin himself notes: they have to be read on the slant.

I wish that Yolen had continued this series for I enjoyed it a great deal and recommend it to young and old alike.

136judylou
Fev 24, 2014, 5:51 pm

I have liked all of the Penelope Lively's that I have read. I haven't read this one yet, but will look out for it.

137rainpebble
Fev 24, 2014, 6:10 pm

36. Hungry Hill by Daphne du Maurier; 4 stars

Our story begins in 1820 as Copper John, patriarch of the Anglo-Irish Brodrick family, prepares to mine Hungry Hill for copper. Unfortunately he neglects to ask permission of the hill first and for the next hundred years it visits its vengeance on one generation of the family after another.

The book isn’t really long enough for a family saga of five generations. Successive family members are born and rapidly grow up only to be whisked from the scene by the latest tragic occurrence. The men, apart from Copper John, are flawed and weak. The women are stronger but are overwhelmed by the circumstances of their lives and that of their families.

There were characters within the book that drew me in but the pace of the book didn't allow for intimacy between character and reader. Du Maurier’s most powerful novels focus on a single drama played out among a small number of characters and are written in the first person. Hungry Hill has a vast cast, a wide scope and a third person narration. Towards the end of the book when the narrative concentrates on telling the story of the last days of the mine and of the impact of its closure on the community, it becomes much more compelling. This is a novel about decline and decay, a theme all too relevant to those who lived through two world wars and the Great Depression.

Still and all this is a book that I cannot stop thinking about. I really wanted to dig into the characters and though I was unable, I still loved the story and recommend it.

138whitewavedarling
Fev 24, 2014, 9:01 pm

I'm so sorry to hear that about the Rebecca West book! I've meant to read another work by her for ages since I loved Return of the Soldier. Then, I don't know that that one would have been half so good had it been a 300 page work. Ah well, I'll have to look to one of her other works--thank you for the review and warning!

139rainpebble
Fev 25, 2014, 4:20 am

Jennifer, I loved The Fountain Overflows and plan to read (& love) Return of the Soldier later this year. But yeah, I was bummed.
Thanks for popping by. Good to 'see' you. :-)

140whitewavedarling
Fev 25, 2014, 10:35 am

Thanks :) I'll make sure to go to The Fountain Overflows as my next West read...

141wookiebender
Fev 26, 2014, 3:50 am

Oh, I've heard good things about Penelope Lively, and I've got her Making it Up on the shelves. Must get to it soon!

142rainpebble
Fev 26, 2014, 1:00 pm

>141 wookiebender::
That's another Lively that wasn't listed on pbs. I will be watching to see your comments when it comes around for you Tania. I enjoyed Consequences so much that I went over to pbs & ordered all they had listed. Yours wasn't one of them. I do enjoy reading journals, diaries & memoirs so I'm sure I would like it. I'll have to be on the look-out for Making It Up.

143rainpebble
Fev 27, 2014, 7:08 pm



Today I honor my favorite author, John Steinbeck, born on this day in 1902. My favorite of all of his works is The Winter of Our Discontent. It is also the first of his novels that I read & I was in the 5th grade.

144mabith
Fev 27, 2014, 8:09 pm

Steinbeck is my favorite as well! Okay, that's hard to say, but he's certainly my favorite American novelist of that period. I haven't read The Winter of our Discontent yet, so I"ll have to move that up the list.

145rainpebble
Fev 28, 2014, 3:38 am

We do seem to have quite a bit in common Meredith. Surprising, given our age differences. That is pretty amazing that Steinbeck is your favorite author also. You have just put a big ole smile on this old broad's face.
I think I want to adopt you as a grandchild. :-)
In your photo gallery; did you do all of the wonderful cross stitching? I have never done any but I used to crochet all the time until I crushed my left hand. My recovery & surgeries lasted 2 1/2 years and I only have one finger that works properly. I get by fine but when I tried to crochet again, I couldn't. I have been thinking of trying to knit. I might, just might be able to do that. And looking at your photos, I wonder if I could cross stitch, or maybe I could do hooking......IDK.... but I sure would like to be able to do some handcrafting again.
I used to make all of our Christmas ornaments and decorations. I loved doing that.
Anyway, onward & upward. I just finished the book I was reading so time to choose the next. Silly me............ it was the second in a series so of course it will be the third!
hugs my little friend,
belva

146mabith
Fev 28, 2014, 11:02 pm

Ha, well, having four siblings between 5 and 14 years older than me, and absolutely worshipping my dad when I was a kid means my interests were always a little different than my peers. I spent so much time as a 10 year old trying to interest my friends in 1930s radio shows to no avail... I do have four open grandparent slots, though I don't think you're any older than my parents! I did once try to steal a boyfriend's grandparents.

I don't understand anyone who doesn't love Steinbeck. His writing... it's like stepping into a comforting bath, hearing some of my thoughts and positions spoken about so much more perfectly than I could ever express. (Just saw Biographile's 9 Steinbeck Quotes for the Pure of Heart).

Yes, I did the embroidery in my gallery! I have bad chronic hand pain and some lack of flexibility. I learned to knit just before I developed that, and have found it so much easier than crochet on my hands (and much less fiddly to get an even gauge). Really I found embroidery even better, because there's less gripping and I felt like I had more creative freedom. Nothing better than crafting to audiobooks!

147wareagle78
Mar 1, 2014, 9:53 am

Gallery? Where's the gallery?

I used to love to cross-stitch but only super-complicated pieces on small squares. My eyes gave that up for me. I just taught myself to crochet a few months ago and am enjoying it enormously. Several of us have a weekly Stitch and Bitch at lunch. One other is an avid reader so we get some excellent book discussions going as well.

148Tanya-dogearedcopy
Mar 1, 2014, 10:23 am

I was just mentioning to my daughter that I'm not sure what happened: When I was about 10-years old and until I left for college, I crocheted, embroidered, did needlepoint and even made soft sculptures; but now, I can barely get a button sewn on properly! If anything, I think I would like to get back into needlepoint and create tablet covers. :-)

149mabith
Mar 1, 2014, 10:20 pm

>147 wareagle78: If a user here has pictures uploaded there's a link to all of them under their main profile picture. I've stitched on some teensy squares, but I design my own patterns and keep it simple. Stitching for me is largely to kill time. Nice to have a Stitch and Bitch meeting! There's an embroiderer's group where I live, but it's too far for me to get to on my own.

>148 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Crafts that give you a useable product (even if it's largely decorative) are the best! I hope you give it a go again soon! Stitching so much does mean I always have instant gifts sitting around, so the wall-art is useful in that sense.

150wookiebender
Mar 2, 2014, 2:46 am

Lovely cross stitching! And some great quotes, too.

I'm a knitter, but nothing fancy. I mostly knit squares to be sewn into wraps for charity. It's an Australian group, Wrap with Love. Keeps my fingers busy while the TV is on.

151rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:36 pm



March reads:
44. Together Is All We Need by Michael Phillips; book 4/4; Y/A; BFB; (3 1/2*); This completes the Shenandoah Sisters Omnibus; (three 4* ratings plus one 3 1/2*rating = (4*)
45. The Belgian Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins; Y/A; Great War Theme Read; (4*)
46. Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort by Edith Wharton; nonfiction; Great War Theme Read; (4 1/2*)
47. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman; short stories; (5*)
48. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5*)
49. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; (4*)
50. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, (Currer Bell); VMC; (5*)
51. Charms for the Easy Life by Kay Gibbons; VMC; (3*)
52. The Trail of Conflict by Emilie Loring; (3*)
53. One of Ours by Willa Cather; Great War Theme Read; VMC; (4 1/2*)
54. Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter; Orange L/L, 2014; library; (4 1/2*)
55. Aleta Dey by Francis Marion Beynon; Great War Theme Read; VMC;
(3 /2*)
56. 2666 by Roberto Bolano; BFB; (4*)
57. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Orange/Bailey's L/L, 2014; (2*)

152judylou
Mar 3, 2014, 1:40 am

Ah yes, busy fingers in front of the TV. That is why I do cross stitch and knit. I always have some project or other under the coffee table.

153rainpebble
Editado: Abr 8, 2014, 5:02 pm

>150 wookiebender: & >152 judylou::
I really do need to pick something up.

Being ill these past several days, it has been difficult settling on something that works with my brain right now. But I finally managed a wonderful Edith Wharton: Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort. A beautiful travel book from 1913-14; nonfiction following Wharton through parts of Belgium & France and down in the very trenches. I thought it would be a difficult read but it was quite lovely thanks to her talents. I also read The Belgian Twins whose story is one of family separation when the Germans invade the neutral country. A sweet story, it tells of the different family members trying to find one another and even of the father deep in the trenches firing upon those attempting to harm his children, though he doesn't know it is them. Loved it.
And then last night after completing the Wharton, I began several only to set them aside. Finally I went to an author who never disappoints, Alice Hoffman & chose her The Red Garden. Absolutely lovely. It is a book of short stories taking place in Massachusetts high in the mountains in a particular settlement and courses over 200 years beginning in the 1750s. I have 1/2 story remaining and I already know that this one will be a 5* read for me.
I am already thinking of what may hold my interest next. Who knew reading could be so difficult when one is ill with temp, racing heart, elevated BP, etc. Can't wait to feel better.

154Tanya-dogearedcopy
Editado: Mar 6, 2014, 9:51 pm

Oh! I have to check out the Wharton trench stories! Last year, a friend and I read the Big Four Wharton Classics: The House of Mirth, The Age of Innocence, The Buccaneers and Ethan Frome. On my own, I read a couple of novellas and some horror shorts that she had written. Before #Edith2013, I honestly had not realized what a prolific and diverse writer Wharton was! I love her work and, in the summer, made a day visit to The Mount (her estate in the Berkshires.) It's pretty run-down, but still an interesting site :-)

Yes, a definite BB :-)

155wookiebender
Mar 6, 2014, 9:38 pm

More Wharton love from me!

156rainpebble
Editado: Mar 8, 2014, 8:39 pm

>154 Tanya-dogearedcopy: & >155 wookiebender:
Tanya & Tania; one can never have too much Wharton. Love me some Wharton!

I settled on Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, a wonderful story and now I am rereading........guess what?............Yep, Jane Eyre. It's taking some time for me to get into it this round but I know it is just me as 'Jane' has always been a 5* read for me. So I am looking forward to that moment when my 'head' goes away and my soul immerses itself into this one.

157Tanya-dogearedcopy
Editado: Mar 9, 2014, 9:56 pm

A few years ago, Participated in a Beowulf on the Beach reading challenge. It was based on the book, Beowulf on the Beach (by Jack Murninghan.) "BOTB" itself is a list of 50 Classics that you should read, why and what you can skip in each book! Of course, purists freaked out about the skipping part! Anyway, Books on the Nightstand, a podcast and community sponsored the challenge wherein participants read one of the Classics in the book over that summer (I actually misunderstood the requirements and ended up reading four Classics, but I digress.) One of the books I read was Jane Eyre which I really loved. I did not however, view it as a romantic drama so much as a story about Jane Eyre herself and the strength of her convictions. Later on, that same summer, I picked up a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea at a local library porch sale (every book on the porch was 10 cents!) I admit that I had a little difficulty getting into the book: I think I was a little thrown in that the style of the language was not contemporary to Jane Eyre and; I never felt that the Caribbean setting and the English mode were well reconciled. Nonetheless, I thought Rhys created a very plausible backstory and I'm glad I read it :-)

158kac522
Mar 9, 2014, 12:52 am

> 156 I recently finished listening to Jane Eyre read by actress Juliet Stevenson; it was wonderful! In some ways, for me, it was better than reading the book (is that heresy?), which I've read and re-read countless times since I first read it at age 12 or so. One of the things I had forgotten about were Jane's sketches/paintings, which I'm sure have some sort of meaning(s), but couldn't quite figure out this time--perhaps I'll figure them out on the next reading. And my current conumdrum--how could Mrs. Fairfax live in that house and NOT think something was weird with Grace Poole? or suspect something? or as a distant relative not know that he was married? Oh well, still loved it.

> 157 I also had difficulty with Wide Sargasso Sea, which I read some years ago, and also felt the disconnect between the two books. But like you, was glad I read it.

159wookiebender
Editado: Mar 9, 2014, 6:00 pm

Oh, Jane Eyre has to be my all-time favourite book as well. Just wonderful.

And Tanya, I love the idea of reading Beowulf on the beach! What a perfect setting. I often re-read it around autumn, the shorter days and rain suit it.

160rainpebble
Editado: Jul 17, 2014, 2:00 am

46. Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort by Edith Wharton; (4 /2*)

A beautiful travel book from 1913-14; nonfiction following Wharton through parts of Belgium & France and down in the very trenches. I thought it would be a difficult read but it was quite lovely thanks to her talents.

161rainpebble
Editado: Nov 13, 2014, 4:59 pm

BOOKS BEING READ FOR THE GREAT WAR THEME READ:

January/February: The Beginning of the War

MAIN BOOK: William an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton; R/B; Persephone; FINISHED; (3*)

Golden Miles by Katherive Susannah Prichard; R/B; VMC;
Mr Britling Sees it Through by H G Wells; K; FINISHED; (2*)
The Setons by O Douglas; K; FINISHED; (5*)
READER RECS:
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman; R/B;
____________________________________________________________

March/April: Fighting: On the Frontline and on the Homefront

MAIN BOOK: One of Ours by Willa Cather; R/B; VMC; FINISHED; (4 1/2*)

Aleta Dey by Francis Marion Beynon; R/B; VMC; FINISHED; (3 1/2*)
The War Workers by E M Delafield; K;
What Not A Prophetic Comedy by Rose Macaulay; K;
READER RECS:
At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller; R/B;
Strange Meeting by Susan Hill; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
____________________________________________________________

May/June: Dealing With The Human Cost: Nurses and Others Who Cared

MAIN BOOK: Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain; VMC; R/B;

We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone; VMC; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker; (The Ghost Road; Orange L/L, 1996; R/B; currently reading
Diary Without Dates by Enid Bagnold; K
READER RECS:
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally; R/B; FINISHED; (4*)
Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War by Anne Powell; K; FINISHED; (4*)
____________________________________________________________

July/August: Ambulance Drivers, Pacifists & Conscientious Objectors

MAIN BOOK: Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith; VMC; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)

The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold; VMC; R/B;
Eunice Fleet by Lily Tobias; R/B;
Non-Combatants and Others by Rose Macaulay; K;
____________________________________________________________

September/October: The Consequences of War

MAIN BOOK: The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; VMC; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)

Home Fires in France by Dorothy Canfield; K;
Fighting France by Edith Wharton; K; FINISHED; (4 1/2*)
In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim; K;
READER RECS:
Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson; R/B;
The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield; R/B;
____________________________________________________________

November/December: This is the time to read a book I've missed, or a book that doesn't fit into a category nicely.

At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller; R/B;
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain; VMC; R/B;
The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold; VMC; R/B;


162mabith
Editado: Mar 17, 2014, 1:11 pm

What a plan! I've got some of those on my list for this year as well. Definitely snagging some from your list as well. If you're looking for a frontline Gallipoli book I recommend To Hell and Back by Sydney Loch, if you can find it. Really worthwhile, and transitions into a pacifist story (he devoted the rest of his life to helping civilian victims of war).

(Somewhere in my brain I seem to have decided I have some ownership of Dorothy Canfield, as I went "MY Dorothy Canfield?" when I read the name.)

163rainpebble
Editado: Mar 17, 2014, 2:24 pm

>162 mabith::
mabith; I bet it is the one & the same Dorothy Canfield. She also wrote by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.
And To Hell and Back has a very familiar ring to it. I will look for that one. Thanks for the reck. The author sounds like quite a man. I am going to check for a bio on him as well. I know now why it is familiar to me. Audie Murphy wrote a memoir of his life during WW II with that same title.

164mabith
Editado: Mar 17, 2014, 3:44 pm

Yes, it is her, I checked before I replied the first time. :) I will have to find those, I've been meaning to read more by her. There do seem to be several with the Hell and Back title.

165rainpebble
Editado: Mar 18, 2014, 4:49 pm

>164 mabith::
Hi Meredith. I was just over on our ROOTs group reading some of your comments and then came 'home' to find you here. 'do do.....do do...' **the Jaws psycho theme** ;-)
Also, going online checking for the Sydney Loch, To Hell and Back, it is not out there in ebook form and the only copies I could find of it were 20 some bucks. So I think I will check at my library for it. I may be able to get an intra-library loan of it.

166wareagle78
Mar 18, 2014, 10:29 pm

I went to an Elton John concert Saturday night (very good), and he dedicated one of his new songs "Oceans Away," to the soldiers on World War I. It was quite moving.

167rainpebble
Mar 20, 2014, 4:26 am

Oh, how very beautiful of Sir Elton. Love him. I'm sure it was wonderful and so thoughtful. I've not yet heard that song of his. Will have to hit youtube and see if it is there.
Thank you for stopping by.

168wareagle78
Mar 20, 2014, 11:12 am

It was rather wonderful. Even my husband, an EJ cynic there under duress, gave it a "wow." Sir Elton spoke of how more lives were lost in The Great War than ever before, and of it now being around the centennial of the start of that war. He was heartfelt about how difficult it must have been for the young soldiers, and how the war to end all wars tragically had not.

I believe his newest album has songs about both world wars.

169mabith
Mar 20, 2014, 11:55 am

>165 rainpebble: Ha, yes, I'm just everywhere! Far too much free time...

170rainpebble
Editado: Mar 21, 2014, 2:12 am

Ah, but it's all good Meredith. :-)

I began a fresh read today. My first book off the 2014 Bailey's Prize (formerly known as the Orange Prize) long list: Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter. I am really liking it so far.

171rainpebble
Editado: Mar 26, 2014, 2:50 am


glitter-graphics.com

54. My 11th Orange of the year: Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter; long listed, 2014 & my Orange of the month for March: 4 1/2 stars

Eleven Days is the story of a single mother, Sara, her thoughts & what she went through after being notified by the Feds that her son, Jason (who was part of the elite Military Special Operations) had gone missing. He was due to be discharged but was called back for one special mission. Now he is missing and she is going through her days waiting.
The military have in place any and all support. They have gone to the greatest lengths to make all they have available to her, even unto having a serviceman who went through the lengthy elite schooling, training programs & missions with Jason, to stay with her. This is a good thing as she doesn't think to eat or sleep but for seeing Sam go through these motions. She gardens, goes for long runs and waits.
The story goes back to when Sarah met & became involved with David. A man 30 years her senior involved in the government but she never really knows for sure in what capacity and it doesn't seem important. She is exclusive to him but isn't sure if he is to her. He comes & goes as his work allows. They never speak of a future together and it always feels okay to her, this relationship. Then she becomes pregnant. Suddenly her work 'on the hill' , she edits books and articles for important people 'on the hill', is being done at home. Most of those she works for know & care about David & thusly, they care about Sara. David leaves her before the baby comes but is at the hospital for the birth and is a very proud father.
Sara ponders David's selfishness & his arrogance but she still cares and does not become entangles with anyone else. She doesn't know if David does or not. When they talk they do not discuss such things. Usually they discuss their son, Jason, and David is very good to send money & to see that they always have what they need.
Jason's father dies of a heart attack while working at an overseas embassy when Jason was 8 years old. David provided Jason with 4 godfathers and they all remain in his life throughout his formative years and beyond.
Then the story moves ahead to Jason deciding what he wants to do & where he wants to go to school. Without his mother's approval he decides that what he feels he must do, what he really wants to do, is to apply to the Naval Academy. He is accepted and does very well. Then he goes through the years of special training and one day he begins going on missions. He and his mother share special code words when they write & when he calls her so that she knows he is really okay.
The description of his training is marvelous. For a first novel, Lea Carpenter has an exceptional way with words. This book was a real page turner for me & I appreciated it so much. I was unable to put it down. If this is the only book that I read off the Bailey's Prize long list this year, I am already satisfied. I found both the story and the background information fascinating.
I highly recommend this book & gave it 4 1/2 stars. I would have given it 5 stars if the author had chosen to end it sooner. I think that by adding the "END EX" Carpenter removed some of the empowerment of the story and it is a powerful story.

172rainpebble
Mar 25, 2014, 4:18 pm

48. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5*)

(SPOILER)

"He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: "All quiet on the Western Front."
He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come."
______________________________________________________________

The "beauty" of a war story is an intriguing thought, but I can think of no other word with which to describe this book than beautiful. Remarque has written a book of the horrors of WWI told through the eyes of an innocent young German soldier and he has written it with such a simplicity that it is overpowering in the beauty of the language.
We owe the translator a huge debt as well, for the translation can make or break a book and this is a wonderful book, deserving of all the accolades it has received.
It is the story of several young men from the same village who enter the service and war at the same time. It tells of the horrors of the smallest nature as well as the hugely horrifying events of this, The Great War. It also tells of the remarkable little things that put smiles on the faces of these young men and gave them hope for another day.
There are many books written about The Great War but I can only think of one after reading All Quiet on the Western Front. If you have not read this book, please do so. You will be giving yourself a wonderful gift. I highly recommend it and give it 5 stars

173rainpebble
Editado: Mar 25, 2014, 4:33 pm

49. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; (4*)

I think that Jean Rhys did an excellent job of creating an interesting storyline as well as boggling our minds with the beauty of Colubri. Her images were so strong that I didn't have to try to imagine the characters or settings. I could see, smell & feel them.

This brilliant novel primarily deals with contradictions and ambiguity. Written as a prelude to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys creates an identity for the otherwise shadowy figure of Bertha Mason, Rochester's mad creole wife, through Antoinette a beautiful lonely Creole woman. Wide Sargasso Sea deals with contradictions and not just with feminist "rag issues" as other reviewers suggest, rather tending to deal with gender reversal. Christophine, the freed black slave from another Caribbean Island, is a strong female character who displays masculine traits standing up to the bullying unnamed Englishman (Rochester) who tries to use oppressive colonialist tactics to control the inhabitants of an exotic Island which cannot be controlled. Both are wild and unruly compared to his staid English persona and as such, something which he cannot relate to. Antoinette is the weak female figure who is finally destroyed by the Enlgishman, driven to madness through a combination of his desire for her and his distaste and hate for everything that she represents. An intriguing tale full of ambiguity Wide Sargasso Sea is a sad tale of dispossession and dislocation.

But please do not attempt to compare The Wide Sargasso Sea to Jane Eyre. To do that is to do yourself & Jean Rhys a great disservice.

174rainpebble
Editado: Mar 25, 2014, 4:48 pm

51. Charms for the Easy Life by Kay Gibbons; VMC; (3*)

This book is a kind and gentle read. There are no startling insights or life altering observations But it is worth reading because it does speak to values and ethical behavior.
The grandmother is a strong woman whose opinions are revered and who doesn't tolerate fools. She is unfailingly consistent in her outlook and mission which is to help other people with or without their consent. Her daughter is lonely and well-meaning. The granddaughter is growing into herself and her beliefs with help from her grandmother. This book has 'charm'.

175rainpebble
Editado: Mar 25, 2014, 5:16 pm

47. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman; shorts; (5*)

Alice Hoffman, my favorite contemporary author, is a quiet sort of writer, not known for showy prose, whirlwind plots, or doorstop blockbusters. However what she does she does very well. She creates memorable images and conveys moments of emotional intensity using spare prose and enviable stylistic restraint. In a single sentence, she can create a world or destroy it utterly. The simplicity of her prose belies its emotional power which often sneaks up on her audience unaware as they read her novels. For it turns out that in addition to being a talented observer and a gifted stylist Hoffman is a masterful storyteller.

This is especially true The Red Garden which is a collection of linked short stories that tell the history of fictional Blackwell, Massachusetts from its founding in 1750 to the late 20th century. This is a very small town which causes the same handful of surnames to surface from story to story and that the same handful of tall tales, gossip and legends persists from generation to generation. Careful readers will see how these myths grow out of the history of the community and how people's stories shape place as much as geography or historical events do.

Blackwell was known in its earliest years as Bearsville due to the large population of bears dotting nearby Hightop Mountain. The opening story about the earliest settlers' salvation by a young woman named Hallie Brady sums up many of the novel's themes and motifs; a plucky but melancholy young woman who longs for love and finds it only in the most surprising places, an intense but uneasy relationship between humans and the natural environment, an undercurrent of magic and mystery, a legacy of loss and sorrow. These themes rise again and again, taking on the force of myth as they repeat themselves through the generations.

Alice Hoffman is often known as a magic realist and The Red Garden is no exception. Ghosts, whether real or imaginary, surface again and again, their stories rooted in actual history, their recurrence a reminder that stories outlive their tellers. Hoffman relies at times on familiar archetypes such as the story of the eel wife but in a way that works perfectly with the very particular western Massachusetts environment she has created. And then there's the red garden of the novel's title, where the soil is red as blood and everything that's planted there also grows blood red, a symbol of the uncomfortable but inevitable intertwining of nature and culture, of love and loss.

The emotional level of The Red Garden can sneak up on you as the author conveys awful incidents, intense passions and haunting images in the simplest, most matter of fact prose. But this seeming simplicity, this careful restraint, also highlights the truths she conveys and the wonders that inhabit each page of her marvelous stories. "A story can still entrance people even while the world is falling apart," writes Hoffman. Blackwell seems at times a town outside of history even when history arrives, as it does from time to time, on these people's doorsteps. Their stories, however, timeless yet timely, will entrance readers from all times and places.

Alice Hoffman's works always entrance me.

176rainpebble
Mar 25, 2014, 6:31 pm

45. The Belgian Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins; Y/A; Great War Theme Read; (4*)

I thought that The Belgian Twins was a children's book when I began reading it and perhaps it is. But it is definitely a book that adults will appreciate as well. I chose to read this book as part of a theme read in observance of The Great War.
It wasn't at all what I was expecting. It is the story of the German invasion of Belgium, which shocked the citizens of the nation greatly as they were a neutral country.
The main characters of the story are the young children Janke and his sister Mie and the story of the invasion is built around them & their mother & father who are plain farming folk. As the German army near there is a call to arms of all the able village men & the mothers, children & old men are left to manage the harvesting. The Germans clear a swath through the villages & countryside as they go, killing & destroying what goods & livestock they cannot carry with them.
The children's mother hides them & tells them not to come out until they know it is safe. When Janke & Mie do come out of their hiding place their mother is gone and their home & farm are destroyed. They go into the village to find their mother but she is nowhere to be found. So they search farther afield. The children are fortunate enough to come across persons who are willing to take the risk of helping them.
I think I shall stop here so as not to spoil it for any of you who may want to read this story. I was quite taken with it and with the writing of Lucy Fitch Perkins. I will be reading more of these little 'twin' stories in the future.

177rainpebble
Editado: Mar 26, 2014, 3:49 pm

55. Aleta Dey by Francis Marion Beynon; Great War Theme Read; (3 /2*)

I actually enjoyed this little VCM. I wasn't expecting to.
It is an autobiographical fiction piece about a Canadian girl growing up in a family relatively void of emotion. She has an older sister with whom she is not close and a baby brother that she loves dearly. Aleta also has a school friend who is a bit older than her and is a boy. They enjoy talking about all manner of things and arguing, each trying to prove their point to the other. As they grow up, her friend moves away to go to school, her baby brother dies, her sister falls in love with the local doctor and moves away, her father dies & then her mother goes to join her sister & help her with the grandchildren. Aleta is pretty much on her own.
She has a job at a magazine/paper & is very much the feminist & suffragette. This is nothing new to her. She was always a free thinker, even as a youngster, but learned at an early age to keep her opinions to herself if she didn't wish to have to answer for them. She was thought to be a radical at every point of her life.
One day while traveling home by train she meets a man who interests her in the way a man never has before. He is quite a bit older that her but when has Aleta Dey allowed anything nonconforming to get in her way? This gentleman works for the opposing magazine/paper and their thoughts and theories are definitely opposite each other. But the relationship blooms and the two of them share a platonic but romantic friendship for many years. The relationship includes the gentleman's young charge. He promised a dying friend that he would care for & raise his son as his own. Aleta Dey and the young boy become very fond of each other.
Throughout all these years Aleta Dey marches for the movement. She rallies for the vote for women and for their right to think freely and speak their minds. She is a Pacifist and speaks out against The Great War that has come to Europe and is taking their young men off to fight. Even her man, McNair goes off to the war. She speaks at many rallies & is even jailed for her thoughts & positions on political lines.
Aleta Dey is well written though I thought it written in a rather juvenile manner. It is easily understood and has a completely different view on the war when compared to the other books I have been reading on The Great War. The twist at the end quite surprised me.
It is a very small book of only 255 pages & so is a quick read. I liked it & do recommend it to those interested in the subject matter or in books with a different take on the time surrounding The Great War.

178rainpebble
Mar 26, 2014, 2:58 am

56. 2666 by Robert Bolano; BFB, 898 pages; (4*)

This is a very difficult book to review. There are actually five books in one and very little to link them to one another. Bolano wanted them published separately but as they were published posthumously he didn't have much say about it all.
I first checked the book out of the library and when I began to read it, I found myself reaching for a pen and highlighter as there was just so much that I wanted to follow up on. Well, you just cannot deface a public library book so I took it back to the library and went to my favorite independent bookshop and shelled out thirty bucks for my own copy so I could deface it. (but ended up taking notes on it instead)
For the book, as a whole, I have really mixed emotions and thoughts. All but one of the books I really liked, but the fourth book I did not care for at all. I think it just held too much violence for me. I loved the last book and it did kind of bring things together for me.
If you like your literature simple and your stories direct, then this most certainly is not the book for you. But if you prefer words that need to be mulled over, sentences that needed to pondered (often for their relevance) and facts and figures that need to be sifted for their significance, and you're willing to commit to a heady world-encompassing tour of literary academia, sexual relations, murder, and much more besides, which at times will have you wondering where on earth it is heading (or even if it indeed it is heading anywhere at all) then 2666 may be just the ticket. Bear in mind that it makes otherwise heavyweight books, Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum, for example feel positively light and yet ponderous by comparison.
Although the story is often dark and complex, the text is never in any way impenetrable. In fact just the opposite, with its light, almost conversational style making the story telling feel very close and intimate, almost at times seeming to be written for the individual personal benefit of the reader. Its division into short blocks of text rather than chapters also give the sensation of a continuous ongoing narrative from which it is hard to disconnect for fear of being left behind if one pauses for breath. And you may sometimes feel you do indeed need a breather. One sentence in particular, at over 2000 words, must qualify as one of the longest outside of any written by James Joyce. This endless driving narrative coupled with the constant inclusion of every last detail in the story's scenes and events gives the book the same surreal and dream-like quality achieved by Alexander Sokurov in his single take film work, Russian Ark.
I do guardedly, because of the violence, recommend this book. It is very well written. The characters that I cared about, I cared deeply about. The ones I cared not for, I truly cared not a whit about them. But I will be looking for more Bolano books to read as well as a good bio on him. I have a feeling he was a fascinating man.

179rainpebble
Mar 26, 2014, 3:02 am

50. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, (Currer Bell); VMC; (5*)

One of THE best books I have ever read or in this case reread.

Jane is a poor orphan fobbed off at a very early age on a nice uncle & a bitchy aunt who have 3 abominable children. The uncle dies but makes his wife promise to always keep & care for Jane. That lasts a few miserable years until the aunt, through correspondence, finds a poorly run boarding school for Jane that will keep her holidays as well. She wants never to see her again.
So Jane goes to the boarding school where she works hard, learns well, is always hungry & often cold. She remains there studies hard & becomes a teacher there for an additional 2 years at which time she posts an advertisement for a position as governess.
She is hired by a Mrs Fairfax of Thornfield to become governess to a young girl, Adelle, who is a ward of the owner of Thornfield but the Master is rarely there. Jane is very happy in her new position but when the Master returns home she cannot help falling in love with him. She keeps this close to her vest. Little does she know that he has fallen in love with her as well.
In her room at night, Jane begins to hear strange cries, howls & noises from overhead. She knows that there is someone up on the 3rd floor but is told that it is a servant who keeps mainly to herself and indeed she does see Mrs. Poole occasionally going to & from that floor carrying items.
When Jane learns who is actually living in that upper abode she is heartbroken and feels she cannot remain. So the girl takes the poor things she arrived with and the few pennies she has and leaves, catching a coach that will take her as far away as her funds will allow. As she is let off the coach she forgets her little bundle and now all she has are the clothes on her back.
Jane walks & forages for food for about 3 days. She looks for work, finding only rejection. She begs food and is given bread crumbs. Finally one stormy night when she is so poorly she feels she can go no further she sees a light in the distance. She follows the light and comes upon a cottage in the wood where as she looks through the window she sees 2 young ladies that she is sure are sisters, for they look so much alike, and an elderly lady that she assumes is their mother, guardian or servant. She knocks on the door, is turned away & the door shut upon her. Jane is so ill, weak & weary that she collapses on the stoop.
The next thing she is aware of is a gentleman coming upon her, & helping her into the warm kitchen where now she is fed some warm milk & bread & is taken up to a warm bedroom, changed into dry sleeping clothes and put to bed where she remains ill & out of her head for several days. She is cared for by all of the inhabitants of the house. As she begins to get stronger she is allowed to sit up and eventually she feels well enough to get up, dressed & go downstairs where she joins the servant in the snug, warm kitchen.
She is accepted by this family and kept there for some time. The gentleman, who is a brother to the girls, finds work teaching for her along with a wee cottage of her own.
She lives thus for some time.
I will stop here, dear reader, for to go on would tell you more than you would wish to hear at this point.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It remains in my top ten of all time and I very highly recommend it to young and old alike.

180rainpebble
Mar 26, 2014, 3:07 am

53. One of Ours by Willa Cather; Great War Theme Read; VMC; (4 1/2*)

This book is a beautifully written study of a sensitive, idealistic young man. But what elevates it to near masterpiece status is its extremely subtle depiction of the excesses of idealism. Trapped in a grubby, increasingly materialistic world, Claude yearns for something noble and meaningful. Unfortunately he finds it only in the patriotic fervor that swept America into The Great War, the most brutal, senseless war in history. Writing from Claude's viewpoint, Cather almost makes you think that the exhilaration of fighting for a noble cause does indeed justify the terrible toll of war, but not quite, because she occasionally drops tiny hints that Claude's newly found, heartfelt sense of purpose and engagement might be deluded and tragic. The final chapter told from his mother's viewpoint is devastating.

The independent minded reader might keep comparing Claude's feeling about the glory of war with the fact that patriotic passion, fight and die for the homeland, has sent untold millions of soldiers to their death since nearly the dawn of time. Cather does little to help you maintain that all important perspective. I think she made it all too easy for conventional minded readers to take this story literally, as a tale of the glories of patriotism and sacrifice for home and country. It's never entirely clear whether and to what extent Cather sees through that horrendous myth. Perhaps that is the genius of the book; to force the reader to draw his own conclusions. Or perhaps as Hemingway always implied, Cather herself was seduced by the romantic, tragically blind view of the nobility of war. Personally I doubt that. I think that she was brilliant enough to leave us all wondering about that.

This book is pure genius.

181rainpebble
Mar 26, 2014, 3:20 am

Shenandoah Sisters Omnibus; Y/A by Michael Phillips:
41. Angels Watching Over Me; (4*)
42. A Day to Pick Your Own Cotton; (4*)
43. Color of Your Skin Ain't the Color of Your Heart; (4*)
44. Together Is All We Need; (3 1/2*)

Volume 1: Angels Watching Over Me:

This book introduces us to (Mayme), freed from slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation, and Katy Clairborne, now the mistress of a plantation in North Carolina. Both of their families were killed in the Massacres during the aftermath of the Civil War. They are two young girls close in age but with very different lives. Mayme was a young slave girl living on a plantation several miles (but light years) away Katy's family's plantation. Through Mayme's experiences the reader is exposed to the everyday life of a young slave and through Katy's experiences we learn about the life of a young girl whose family owns a plantation.
When Mayme's family is killed she hides and when she comes out of hiding everyone, black & white, on the plantation is dead or gone. She buries her family and takes to the woods & trails trying to put as many miles behind her as she can.
After several days she comes upon a plantation house that appears to be deserted. Their are dead folk around but as Mayme is starving she decides to brave going into the plantation house in search of food. When she enters the kitchen she sees a young white girl standing alone. After the shock to both girls she learned that Katy, the white girl is the lone survivor of the massacre. Mayme buries Katy's family also. Katy is still in shock.
This begins the saga of these two young girls who come together despite all of their differences to help & comfort one another. Now they just need to hide the fact that they are there alone from any parties who come along in order to protect themselves.
__________________________________________________​

Volume 2: A Day to Pick Your Own Cotton:

Mayme and Katy are now fifteen and they share the secret that all of Katy's family & slaves are dead. The two girls have decided to continue to live at Katy's plantation, Rosewood, on their own and pretend that Katie's mother is still alive. As if that were not difficult enough, now they must protect three other people as well. Emma, a former slave and her baby, William, are hiding at Rosewood from William's father who is the son of Emma's former master as well as Mayme's, though the girls did not know one another. (Emma being a house slave and Mayme being a field slave)
Also a little white girl, Aleta has found them and needs care & protection. She and her mother were running away from the girl's drunken, abusive father when their horse went down and the mother was killed. So she also is living at Rosewood and is determined not to return home to her father.
Mayme and Katie have other worries as well. A loan is due soon at the bank and if they don't pay they will not be able to protect their secret and Katy will lose Rosewood. They also have secretly learned that one of Katy's uncles went to California in the gold rush days and may have left some gold in her mother's keeping.
__________________________________________________​

Volume 3: Color of Your Skin Ain't the Color of Your Heart:

This volume continues the story of Mayme and Katie as they strive to survive alone on the North Carolina plantation. Now the girls survive a devastating flood which takes much of their cotton crop which they were going to sell to pay off the bank. They also encounter hostile visitors and must come up with money to pay off a loan or risk losing Rosewood. Their friend & helper Henry, and Jeremiah, his son, also freed slaves check in on the girls at the plantation regularly and provide what assistance, protection and advice they can. In spite of the difficulties they encounter Mayme and Katie are reunited with friends and family. They discover new shocking family connections and for the first time a hint of romance enters their lives.
__________________________________________________​

Volume 4: Together Is All We Need

This is the last book of the Shenandoah Sisters Series which is about friendship and family sticking together through thick & thin and sacrificing to help each other. This is a very enjoyable coming of age series with a marvelous ending. Kathleen and Mayme not only became friends and together worked to save Kathleen's plantation and make it productive again after the Civil War, but also built a very unusual household with both blacks and whites living together under the same roof in harmony. The girls also learn from their good friend and helper Henry, how to put their trust in the Lord.
This series ended with each character finding their place. The only loose end that bothered me was that of Emma & her baby William. Are they still safe at Rosewood? The witch of a wife of the father of the baby knows now that they were at Rosewood. I am left wondering about their fate.

I highly enjoyed this series of books and recommend them to anyone interested in Civil War fiction &/or good Christian books.

182rainpebble
Mar 26, 2014, 2:37 pm

On this date, March 26th in 1859, my favorite poet A. E. Housman was born. He authored A Shropshire Lad and such poems as To an Athlete Dying Young. Most of his poetry is a bit dark but definitely not dreary. I have long loved him.

183rainpebble
Editado: Jun 15, 2014, 5:42 am



57. My 12th Orange of the year & my Orange for April: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; (2*)

I won't even attempt a proper review on Americanah because there are so many lovely ones on the book page. I will say that I am a minority in that I didn't care for this book. I loved Half of a Yellow Sun & Purple Hibiscus by her but this one did nothing for me. I found myself even dreading to pick it up and was so disappointed in that. First I wanted to love it. Then I wanted to like it and in the end I just felt sad that I had failed this writer of two of the most beautiful books I've read in recent years and spent days attempting to read a book that I found I couldn't like. The characters did not draw me in. I was not fascinated by their circumstances. I could not even find the American/Nigerian comparisons interesting. It was just a big flop for me & I feel guilty about that.
Perhaps my head has been immersed in too many Great War stories & couldn't pull itself from them. IDK. I do know that I will find something to read today that will carry me away.

184bryanoz
Mar 26, 2014, 8:58 pm

I've got 2666 coming up, thanks for the review !

And of course completely agree with your Jane Eyre review.

185kac522
Mar 26, 2014, 11:22 pm

Thank you for your review of One of Ours--I felt the same way, but couldn't express it very well. And of course Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite book, which I listened to (again) within the last month. If you want a great audiobook, listen to Juliet Stevenson reading Jane Eyre. She also does a marvelous job with Austen's Persuasion.

186rainpebble
Mar 27, 2014, 1:36 am

>184 bryanoz::
Bryan, I appreciate your kind words as always. I always gain something from your comments. I hope you like/appreciate 2666 when Bolano's turn rolls around.
It was one I had to work at but am oh, so glad I read it.

>185 kac522::
kac; Thank YOU for your very kind words. One of Ours wasn't an easy book to review. I put it off for several days or perhaps even more.
I never listen to audiobooks. My only CD player is on on my computer. I don't have a cassette player any longer & I am never in the vehicle long enough by myself to play an audiobook. I need to get a little boom box that I can just carry from room to room with me to listen. They don't cost that much. I think I will do that when we go to the city Friday A.M. for my husband's Orthopedic appointment. I can get plenty of audiobooks at the library. It just seems like it takes so much longer to listen to a book than it does to read it. But I think you have talked me into it. I have made myself a notation of Juliet Stevenson. Thanks.
I am hearing from a lot of people that Jane Eyre is their favorite book. I love knowing that as I thought it is so marvelous. Bronte makes me want to read every thing she ever wrote.

187rainpebble
Editado: Jul 17, 2014, 2:06 am



MARCH READS:

44. Together Is All We Need by Michael Phillips; book 4/4; Y/A; BFB; (3 1/2*); This completes the Shenandoah Sisters Omnibus; (three 4* ratings plus one 3 1/2*rating = (4*)
45. The Belgian Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins; Y/A; Great War Theme Read; (4*)
46. Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort by Edith Wharton; nonfiction; Great War Theme Read; (4 1/2*)
47. The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman; short stories; (5*)
48. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5*)
49. The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; (4*)
50. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, (Currer Bell); VMC; (5*)
51. Charms for the Easy Life by Kay Gibbons; VMC; (3*)
52. The Trail of Conflict by Emilie Loring; (3*)
53. One of Ours by Willa Cather; Great War Theme Read; VMC; (4 1/2*)
54. Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter; Orange L/L, 2014; library; (4 1/2*)
55. Aleta Dey by Francis Marion Beynon; Great War Theme Read;
(3 /2*)
56. 2666 by Roberto Bolano; BFB; (4*)
57. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Orange/Bailey's L/L, 2014; (2*)

188bryanoz
Mar 30, 2014, 5:22 pm

Wow, great month of reading Belva, I'm very envious, not jealous (that would be immature), but definitely envious !

189rainpebble
Editado: Abr 1, 2015, 11:08 pm



APRIL READS:

58. Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells; Great War Theme Read; K; (2*)
59. Drink to Yesterday by Manning Coles; Great War Theme Read; (5*)
60. A Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles; Great War Theme Read; (4 1/2*)
61. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen; ARC/ER; (4*)
62. Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes by Jude Morgan; (2 1/2*)
63. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper; Y/A; (5*)
64. Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941 - 1944 by Anna Reid; (4 1/2*)
65. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers; (3*)
66. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis; (3 1/2*)
67. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson; BFB; (5*)
68. The Pearl by John Steinbeck; (5*)
69. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks; (4*)
70. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks; (1 1/2*)
71. So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy; Orange L/L, 1996; (1/2*)
72. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; 1st winner of the Orange Prize, 1996; (5*)

190rainpebble
Abr 4, 2014, 4:17 am

58. Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells; Great War Theme Read; (2*)

This Wells book (my first Wells non-sci-fi) was first published in 1916 and is set in the summer of 1914. Our Mr Britling, is an eccentric writer who spends his days at house parties & socializing with many international guests. When he tires of this life he travels abroad to hook up with whichever mistress he is involved with at the moment.

Britling is married to his second wife (his first wife having died) & he and his family live in a village in Essex. He and his wife are no longer in love with one another but congenially carry on and the household appears to run smoothly. He is very fond of his eldest son Hugh by his first marriage and appears to me to yet be in love with his first wife. His family consists of Britling, his wife, their three sons, an aged aunt and a young German tutor. His secretary Teddy, his wife Letty, and her sister Cissie lived in a small house nearby.

A gentleman from America, Mr. Direck, arrives to do some business with Britling and as the book courses through the beginning what ho, what fun! Our Mr. Britling is just learning how to drive his automobile and takes Mr. Direck for a ride. Lumping & bumping down the lane, in and out of the ditches, etc and ending with the auto being stuck in a bank and Direck with a broken wrist. This requires him to stay with the Britlings for a time which he doesn't mind as he enjoys watching the family and their eccentricities, most often enabled by Britling. During his visit with the family he falls in love with the sister-in-law of the secretary, Cissie.

Our Mr. Britling thinks that war will never come to them. Surely Hitler would not be so foolish as to attack them. However, the clouds of war have started to set in as Germany marches into Belgium and Europe is no longer the safe and fun playground that it once was. It is soon brought home to Mr Britling that war is not just an inconvenience to his lifestyle but also a danger to the people he loves. What can he do though? All he’s ever done is write, travel or attend parties. Surely the world needs someone who has done more than that?

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book but it slowly petered out for me. However I am still glad I read it and perhaps on a second reading I will appreciate the latter part more.

191rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 9:15 pm

61. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen; ARC/ER; (4*)

I am a Sarah Addison Allen fan. When life becomes too challenging, berefit, busy or dreary, her books & stories can simply carry the reader "away from it all". I have enjoyed all of her books and this one was no exception.
It doesn't seem to matter the plot, the storyline, whatever; she always gives the reader great & well rounded characters. Her novels are magical but yet realistic, the real world mixed in with just enough of the supernatural to make it believable.
This one gives us the story of a young widow with a very cool & in a world of her own daughter. The mother in law is wealthy & interfering. She has convinced Kate, the young widow, that she is not strong enough to make good decisions for herself & her daughter and that they should move in with her.
In packing up her house Kate's daughter finds an old post card from Kate's great Aunt Eby that Kate's mother had apparently hidden from her many years prior. The card invites Kate to return to her Aunt Eby's Lost Lake resort any time she wants. Kate's most cherished childhood moments & memories are of summers spent there. So rather than move in with her mother in law, Kate decides that she and her daughter will return to Lost Lake to see if it is indeed still magical.
Once there we meet some truly wonderful characters. First there is Aunt Eby herself who is now in her 80s & widowed. She is still tall, lean & lovely. She continues to run the neglected resort. We meet Lisette, born without a voice box & thusly cannot speak, who followed Eby & her husband George from Paris to Lost Lake and is the cook for the guests. We meet Wes who was Kate's dear friend & playmate the summer she spent at Lost Lake. He's not changed much. He is now the proprietor of a pizzeria and has a repair business. Then there is Jack who has come each summer & is very quietly & timidly in love with Lisette. We also get to meet Bulahdeen, who has recently had to put her husband in a special facility for Alzheimer patients, and her friend Selma, the man hungry red head looking for Mr Right # 8. (Yes, that's right. Number eight.) These two are quite the characters and I enjoyed them tremendously. They added a lot of spice to the story. They have been coming to the resort since Aunt Eby & Uncle George bought it.
But times & things have changed over the years. Kate is shocked to find how run down the resort has become though she still loves it and she & Devin, her daughter, help as much as they can and are very surprised & shocked to find that Aunt Eby has decided, much to the chagrin of the regulars, Lisette and the community to sell. It has just become too much for her to handle.
You will be surprised at all of the many back story-lines going on in this one story.
This is not deep literature but it is a story that takes you out of yourself and we all need that now and then. I loved reading it and hated for it to end. I recommend it for those reasons stated above. I actually felt good when I had finished reading it and I haven't felt good in several months so that has to say something.

192mabith
Abr 4, 2014, 10:26 am

Glad you had a book that made you feel good! It does like a sweet one. I second Juliet Stevenson as a lovely reader. I hope you get properly well soon!

193kac522
Editado: Abr 4, 2014, 1:26 pm

>190 rainpebble: I have this book on my TBR pile. I borrowed it from the Chicago Public Library and it is a 1917 edition of the book (and the only copy in the entire system!). I've been reluctant to start it, but now that I've read your review, I think I'll muddle through...

194rainpebble
Editado: Jul 17, 2014, 2:20 am

59. Drink to Yesterday by Manning Coles; (5*)

A relative newcomer to the genre, I could not put this book down. It made me anxious to know what came next. It caused sleeplessness because I wanted to be reading and not sleeping. The characters fascinated me, the storyline fascinated me and I can't but help to think that this book is fiction based very heavily on fact.
Our boy Michael/Bill/Dirk was rather an oddity in his school days. He loved the languages, learned them easily, the maths and he enjoy little science projects mostly for the irritation they caused the school & schoolmaster.
When the war came Michael Kingstone was only fifteen years of age. And yet he attempted to talk his guardian, Uncle John, into allowing him to try to join up. His uncle refused him of course.
In 1916 at the tender age of sixteen he went into London to a recruiting office and lying about his age, enlisted under the name of William Saunders. He was eventually sent to the trenches at the front lines. He and another serviceman would be sent through the trenches to get as close to the German trenches in order to eavesdrop on German conversation; both of them having some knowledge of the German language. During the battle when Nazis were taken prisoner, they were brought to Bill Saunders for interrogation.
When it became known to his upper superiors how well he was doing dealing with the German language, he was sent up through the channels and asked if he was interested in working in intelligence behind enemy lines. He accepted the offer (his name now became Dirk) and was introduced to one Tommy Hambledon who was to be his partner in intelligence. Hambledon had already been in intelligence for a time and was established in the community they would be working in. Hambledon had a business there and Saunders would be his partner. This was their cover.
Several of their espionage accounts seemed familiar to me though not exact to previous account I had read.
This book is part mystery but mostly a spy story. And I thrilled to it. I cannot wait to get my hands on the next in the in the Tommy Hambledon series and lucky me; there are 25 of them if I can just get my hands on some. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys this genre or to those who, like me, want to try it. It will blow your mind!

195rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 9:18 pm


glitter-graphics.com

My 13th Orange of the year:

71. So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy; Orange L/L, 1996; (1/2*)

I attempted So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy. The inside jacket cover states: "Jennifer Wilson is by vocation a disembodied voice, a radio announcer hiding from her life in a job that perfectly suits her constitution by allowing her to remain audible but invisible, protected by an invincible wall of anonymity." I should definitely agree with that. I didn't care for the way it was written nor did I care for the story line. I am not a prude but eventually I applied the Pearl Rule. Was simply unable to complete this book.
I am amazed that it is on the 2014 Bailey's Long List; absolutely amazed.

196rainpebble
Abr 12, 2014, 3:01 am

62. Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes by Jude Morgan; (2 1/2*)

In 1821 Haworth, Yorkshire Maria Bronte, mother of five and wife to a Vicar, dies. Her milk-toast husband Patrick sends his oldest four daughters to a cheap, abominable boarding school but Maria and Elizabeth come home to die from consumption. His son Branwell becomes an addict while his three remaining daughters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, go out to work at teaching in schools for young ladies & as governesses. The sisters are unhappy away from home and so return and begin writing poetry, essays and eventually novels for which they use pseudonyms. They dote on their father and brother but by 1855 all five of Maria's offspring are dead none having reached the age of forty.

In this Bronte fictional account, in spite of the title, the focus is on all six siblings and their father and not mainly on Charlotte and Emily.

For me, it read like a Victorian soap opera and while I was able to finish it I must admit that I was a bit disappointed, not in the writing, so much as in the content. Still and all I am sure that many will and have loved this book. I simply was not one of them.

197rainpebble
Abr 12, 2014, 3:41 am

63. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper; Y/A; (5*)

I don't know what I expected when I began this Y/A book but it certainly wasn't the ride I was taken on. Most of the reviews I had read on this title were underwhelming to say the least so it was a very great & pleasant surprise to me when I found myself so ingrained in the story that I literally got goose bumps, didn't hear my husband when he spoke to me and was on the edge of the chair for most of the book. I could not put it down. And now I can't wait for the entire set of the series to arrive. I ordered it as soon as I completed Over Sea, Under Stone.
The story begins with Simon, Jane and Barney arriving with their parents for a nice holiday visiting their great Uncle Merry in Cornwall.
But then, but then............the children find an ancient map in the attic while exploring the old house. They must unravel the mystery of the map and what it might possibly lead them to. They try to keep it a secret but word gets out somehow and strange & somewhat frightening people begin to follow them and ask them questions. All of a sudden everybody seems very interested in them. And why is their Great-Uncle being so protective of them? Are they in danger? Their Uncle Merry has discussed the fight between the Light and the Dark and tells the children that as long as the Light is still out there, the Dark cannot overcome all.
This book is a wonderful beginning to what I hope is a roller coaster of a thrilling series. This book is not openly about the battle between the Light and the Dark. It is just about three children trying to understand the map and what it is leading them to.
Susan Cooper has done a very good job of writing this little thriller. It sucked me right in and I was frightened when the children were frightened and found myself saying aloud: "No, don't tell him. He isn't good." I was in it with the kids all the way.
I highly recommend this book to youngsters & adults alike who enjoy a tingling good story.

198souloftherose
Abr 12, 2014, 6:53 am

>197 rainpebble: I love The Dark is Rising series - you're tempting me to reread them.

199judylou
Abr 13, 2014, 2:01 am

Finally caught up on your reading. You have been powering through some brilliant books. I have attempted to read another of A L Kennedy's books and had the same reaction to it as you did. As almost everyone I know tend to regard her very highly, I'm happy to fins another like me!

I have a beautiful copy of Jane Eyre given to me when I turned 16 by my Great Aunt. I really should reread it.

200rainpebble
Abr 14, 2014, 2:20 am

>198 souloftherose::
soul; I certainly loved the first of the series. Can hardly wait for the set to arrive. Glad you love them too.

>199 judylou::
judy; I am so happy also to find someone with the same thoughts as myself regarding A L Kennedy's writing. I don't think I will waste my time again.
And yes, you should reread that beautiful edition of Jane Eyre. How lovely to have such a wonderful memory of your Great Auntie.

201rainpebble
Abr 16, 2014, 6:35 pm

64. Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941 - 1944 by Anna Reid; (4 1/2*)

The siege of Leningrad by the German army in world War II is one of the most tragic events to come out of a war that had many tragic events. An entire city of several million people was trapped by an encircling army with no way to receive food, clothing and other necessities of life.
The author relies mainly on diaries and recollections that have finally been released from Soviet archives after more than 50 years to fill in her story of the siege. This volume does not spend much time going over military maneuvers in detail but does give the reader enough information to understand what was happening inside the city for the duration of the siege.
Most of the blame for this tragedy is placed, and rightly so, at the door of Stalin and the Soviet bureaucracy which didn't anticipate the Nazi invasion, and then became almost numb to the invasion for crucial periods of time. When it was clear that Leningrad was going to be one of the main targets of the invasion the government took almost no steps to evacuate the population nor or to stockpile sufficient supplies to sustain the people during the siege.
The first winter of the siege was horrendous for the citizens of Leningrad. Starving, freezing and ignored by their leaders, the populace was hit hard. There was rationing but it seems that the higher up Party members and their families weren't affected by it. Their need were supplied to the full. But the ordinary citizens were starving to death by the hundred and the thousands monthly.
This book tells of the struggle and the heroism of the common folk. Likewise it tells of the ignorance and disdain of the Communist Party and the government. Granted as the siege wore on there were attempts to supply the city particularly via the Ice Road across Lake Ladoga. But it was much too little and too late more most of the populace. The voices of those who left diaries and remembrances are the true heroes of ths siege.
The siege was a tragedy but even in the depths of the dark winter nights there were instances of unselfishness and heroic actions by some of the people. This is not an easy book to read and even having read much of this siege previously, it still hits the gut hard as you read about people dropping dead in the streets, bodies pulled on the sleds of children to the cemeteries and bodies of family members being hidden within the house in order that the remainder of the family might use their ration card for the rest of the month. Almost every family lost one or more members to starvation but the survivors carried on as best they could. To read this book is to learn about the extent of man's inhumanity to man.

202rainpebble
Editado: Abr 17, 2014, 8:41 am

65. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers; (3*)

Having just recently found my way into this genre, I must say that I enjoyed this book. From the very beginning we are captivated by Sayers' writing and her character sketches. She only gets better from here. The interaction and the relationships of her characters make the story come alive.
We start off with two mysteries at once. A naked man, oh wait...he is wearing sunglasses, is found in someone else's bathtub. Across town another person goes missing. The local policeman has figured out the relationship,; or has he? He has even nabbed the suspects. Lord Peter, our amateur sleuth and friend of Inspector Parker must figure out if one plus one equals one or two.
Hmmmm...........
A very enjoyable read.

203mabith
Abr 16, 2014, 10:56 pm

Definitely adding Leningrad to my list. You're in for such a treat with the future Wimsey books! Murder Must Advertise is one of my favorite books. The audiobook reader for the series is such a perfect fit too. If you feel inclined in that direction he makes the books even more enjoyable.

204bookwormjules
Abr 17, 2014, 5:47 am

Your March reads were pretty good. loved Wide Sargasso Sea and I really need to finally sit down with 2666. It's a shame you didn't like A L Kennedy's book. I enjoyed a short story collection by the author, and was hoping to find my next read by the author. Perhaps a different book than the one you read.

205rainpebble
Abr 17, 2014, 8:56 am

67. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson; (5*)

This volume is one of the most comprehensive studies of the Civil War period that addresses every aspect of the war. McPherson does an excellent job of setting the context. He describes the changing demographics, economics, politics and policies of the United States in the 19th century. He covers the institution of slavery; how it developed and how southerners sought its expansion. He discusses the impact of westward growth and the war with Mexico; the series of compromises as new states became part of the union along with the increasing divisions as those compromises failed to appease both sides. And lastly the secession of the southern states after Lincoln was elected president is covered. I especially appreciated the details of the months when secession spread which includes the stated rationales of the seceding states and the maneuvers that led to the firing on Fort Sumter.
The discussion of the war covers virtually all of the major military campaigns and battles and is accompanied by maps showing Union and Confederate movements. We get to know all the important generals and follow them through their checkered or glorious careers. McPherson is stellar at using anecdotes and/or quotes to convey the character of each general. The strengths and weaknesses of the Union and Confederate armies at certain times or battles are clearly delineated. He also assesses the structures of leadership and the quality of leaders in the Federal Government and in the Confederate states. Lincoln had to contend with political rivals and war opponents, worry over whether foreign nations might recognize the Confederacy, defend his Emancipation Proclamation from critics, and agonize over whether he would ever find an effective general to break the southern army and restore the union. Jefferson Davis had the challenge of winning the cooperation of the wildly independent Confederate states to raise sufficient armies, produce enough food, clothes and armaments, and agree on strategy and tactics.
Battle Cry of Freedom is very readable for a nearly 900 page book on nonfiction. It took me nearly 10 days to read it and it is a fascinating read. It held my interest throughout. I found James McPherson to be a masterful author in this field.
I very highly recommend this work.

206mabith
Abr 17, 2014, 12:00 pm

Oh that brings back memories! I should really read Battle Cry of Freedom as an adult. I went to a small, boarding school, where we didn't use textbooks for history, and that was our text for the Civil War, which we spent at least a month on. I'm so grateful they didn't try to teach us all of American history in nine months but instead focused heavily on certain events. I still have my copy.

207rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:04 pm



My 14th Orange of the year:

72. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; the 1st Orange Winner, 1996; (5*)

This book is too beautiful for me to review so I will just share some of my thoughts. How easily I see that this book had to win the Orange Prize. What a wonderfully drawn story.
A Spell of Winter is an exquisite story of an illicit relationship between siblings. The thought may make one go "ewww", but this book is written so tastefully and beautifully that I do not think I can recommend it highly enough. It is quite possibly going to be my # 1 read of the year.
I cared about all of the characters although there were very few main characters. There were things that occurred that I anticipated and also a lot that surprised me. I liked the way Dunmore wrote about plants, fruits, etc. I love
being able to smell a fresh pear when I read about one.
I loved the way the book was written and to me, it read like a Virago. I can't wait to get my hands on more books by Helen Dunmore. I hope she has a very long list of books that she has written.
And I wish that I could give A Spell of Winter more than five stars.

208rainpebble
Abr 20, 2014, 2:37 pm

68. The Pearl by John Steinbeck; (5*)

Another wonderful Steinbeck, my favorite author.

The Pearl is one of his smaller books. It is also an intense book, but it is very fluid and easy to read. It is about an island man who, like so many others, goes diving daily with no air, down to the depths of the sea to find pearls to help them eke out a very poor living for their families. These poor people live in little shacks and eat the same gruel day after day and their lives are the same day after day. But they seem a happy people none the less. This is the story of the man who finds "the pearl" of every diver's dream and what happens to him and his family after finding the "pearl".
It is also an "if I could just" story. One always thinks that if this or that were "just to happen" in their lives, things would be wonderful. If you have just one teensy tiny bit of that rolling around in your brain (or if not), you should read this book. It is magnificent!~!~!
I highly recommend it The Pearl.

209rainpebble
Abr 20, 2014, 2:39 pm

69. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks; (4*)

Meet Noah and Allie. This is a sweet, sweet love story that gives hope to all of us. Alzheimer's Disease has taken his sweet love from him and sometimes, just sometimes when he reads to her from "the notebook" of the story of their love & their lives, she remembers and comes back to him for just moments or hours.
A quick, simple and read that just makes you feel good.
It's brain candy but you've got to get it where you can when you need it, right?
And this really is a wonderful, though not deep, story.

210rainpebble
Abr 20, 2014, 2:42 pm

70. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks; (1 1/2*)

(the sequel to The Notebook)

I was really looking forward to this one after reading & loving The Notebook. I assumed that it had to be as good. Right? Wrong!~! Pass this one up.
This one is about the grown children and I found it, all in all, a major disappointment. I didn't think it nearly up to par with anything else I have read by Nicholas Sparks. As I read it, it felt like he was just trying to make more off The Notebook.
It was sappy, boring, predictable and I am really glad it is not the first Sparks for me or I wouldn't have read another.
Don't waste your time on The Wedding. NO, seriously, do not waste your time.

211rainpebble
Editado: Abr 24, 2014, 6:37 pm

66. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis; (3 1/2*)

This is altogether a fascinating look at the tragic, fast tracked life of the gifted lead singer of the 1960s rock band, The Doors. I loved Morrison's unique voice from the beginning so thusly I loved the music of The Doors from the beginning. I have read his books of poetry & other bios on him but this one had small details that I didn't find in the others. The book appears to be very well researched.
(I lived in Long Beach & Orange County during the time Jim Morrison & The Doors were performing at the Whiskey & other clubs along the strip but the closest I got to him was the Troubadour.)
The book begins in Morrison's childhood and tells of his family life and his school days and how he happened to become the rebellious young man that he became. Without that rebellion he would not have become the great talent he did but at what cost.........
He was not happy as the front-man for The Doors nor was he happy in his personal life. His life was a mess and he was truly a tortured man. He drank to excess & did drugs to get away from it. He would show up at their concerts so drunk that he would have to hold on to the mike-stand to stay upright and each show the lyrics & the poetry he would throw in here and there changed. He was on the edge & out of control. Yet one found themselves pitying this very gifted man.
He wrote wonderful lyrical music. He carried notebooks around with him and was constantly scribbling notes, lyrics, & lines of poetry in them. Some of them still exist today.
Jim Morrison knew that he was not here for the long run. I think that he knew he would die at a young age and indeed he did. He was only 27 at his death but the doctor who signed his death certificate in Paris, where he died, stated that he would have guessed him to be 57 years of age. It is thought that he died in his bathtub of an overdose but there were so many people attempting to cover this and that up that I don't think anyone knows for sure what happened to him in his last hours.
Morrison was no hero but to me, I cannot judge the music by the man nor can I judge the man by his music. I love his music and have since he began playing back in the 60s. This was rather a painful book to read. Some would probably say it's just another book about a down & out rocker but not this reader. Still and all I would recommend it only to those who are interested in the life of Morrison or of musicians or poets. This reader is very glad she read Stephen Davis's Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend.

212rainpebble
Editado: Jul 17, 2014, 2:24 am

60. A Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles; (4 1/2*)

I very much enjoyed this sequel to Drink to Yesterday. I did miss Bill Saunders, the partner in espionage of Tommy Hambledon. I like how Manning Coles develops his characters; even the bad/evil ones and in this, the second book of the series, even Hambledon has to commit some unkind actions.
He is thought to be drowned at the beginning of the book, but he has survived with amnesia and living in Germany, has risen in the rank & file under the Nazis & Hitler, to become a person of great respect & importance. By the time his memory returns some twelve years or so later it is too late to go back to being what & who he was.
In Hambledon's position he is able to do some good, save some lives, rid the world of others and all this is told in a page-turning style.
The two of the series that I have read have both been library books but I hope to collect the entire series for myself as I see them being books that I will be able to read over & over without becoming bored.
Highly recommended.

213rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:06 pm



APRIL READS:

58. Mr. Britling Sees It Through by H.G. Wells; Great War Theme Read; K; (2*)
59. Drink to Yesterday by Manning Coles; Great War Theme Read; (5*)
60. A Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles; Great War Theme Read; (4 1/2*)
61. Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen; ARC/ER; (4*)
62. Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes by Jude Morgan; (2 1/2*)
63. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper; Y/A; (5*)
64. Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941 - 1944 by Anna Reid; (4 1/2*)
65. Whose Body? by Dorothy Sayers; (3*)
66. Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend by Stephen Davis; (3 1/2*)
67. Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson; BFB; (5*)
68. The Pearl by John Steinbeck; (5*)
69. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks; (4*)
70. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks; (1 1/2*)
71. So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy; Orange L/L, 1996; (1/2*)
72. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; the 1st Orange Winner, 1996; (5*)

214rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:11 pm



MAY READS:

73. Stella Bain by Anita Shreve; Great War Theme Read; K; (4*)
74. Carry On by Coningsby Dawson; Great War Theme Read; nonfiction; K; (4*)
75. Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War by Anne Powell; Great War Theme Read; K; (4*)
76. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway; Great War Theme Read; R/B; (4*)
77. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 2 in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; (5*)
78. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 3 in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; ((3 1/2*)
79. The Grey King by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 4 in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; (4 1/2*)
80. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 5 & final bk in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; (4*)
81. According to Mary Magdalene by Marianne Fredriksson; (4 1/2*)
82. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke; Orange S/L, 2010; (3 1/2*)

215bryanoz
Maio 19, 2014, 5:46 pm

Wow,some great reading going on Belva, Of those I have only read The Notebook, (Iknow, pretending I am sensitive and romantic !), will get to the Susan Cooper series one day.
With some luck I'll retire at the end of this year, then the reading challenge is really on !!!!

216rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:11 pm

76. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway; (4*)

I found this to 'one' of Papa's best works. I know that it has been slandered and slammed but this reader appreciated the writing and the story lines.
The characters incorporate the desperation of youth, the insanity and traumatization of war and the strategy of day to day living rather than striving for anything like achievement or satisfaction which is the effect of the madness of war upon the human soul. It is a profoundly sexual book. But it also presents a love story between two individuals that has more depth and sensuality than one would expect from Hemingway. In addition, insights into the behavior of the military, both the allies and the axis powers, are fascinating; marked by the idiocy of human beings caught in any dramatic effort. It is a war story that touches on the humans involved and the devastating effect of battle on the individual. It is a love story that ends in tragedy because it is a passion born of war not sincerity. It is a commentary on the madness of politics and the indulgence in mass slaughter in order to accomplish nothing. A very meaningful novel from an author in his prime.
I DO recommend this one and found it to be a very satisfying read.

217rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:17 pm

75. Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War by Anne Powell; (4*)

How enlightening this book was. I found it very interesting to read these women's accounts of their care giving of the wounded in WW I told in their own words and for the most part without sentiment. It was eye opening to read how they established the hospitals and how difficult it was to 'be allowed' to give medical care & assistance simply because they were women. Often the French Red Cross was the only accepting group for these women.
I found such admiration for those who would carry hot chocolate & biscuits at night in the dark to the men in the trenches. And they carried on their duties with shelling going on over their very heads and through the rooms they were working in. Simply the feeding of the wounded seemed to me to be against nearly insurmountable odds but they managed.
What heroes/heroines! A very good read and highly recommended if this is subject matter in which you are interested.

218rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:12 pm

73. Stella Bain by Anita Shreve; (4*)

A woman awakens inside a casualty tent in France in 1916. She cannot remember who she is or how she came to be there. Wounded in body and spirit, she chooses the name Stella Bain for herself as she resumes familiar duties as nurse aide and ambulance driver. For some reason she feels that she must go to London to seek out Admiralty House where she believes she will find some answers to her situation. She leaves France and is found in desperate circumstances outside a lovely home owned by Dr. August Bridge and his wife, Lily. Stella falls ill with pneumonia and is nursed back to health by the Bridges. Finally upon visiting Admiralty House after her convalescence she is recognized by a man who calls her by her real name. It is then that she begins to recover her memories and to remember what drove her from her home and to the battlefields far away. She begins a course of "talk therapy" with Dr. Bridge who has developed an interest in psychiatry and her reawakened artistic abilities help her make decisions about how to return to America to claim what is hers and to make amends for her mistakes.

Through the course of what is sometimes a bit of a disjointed narrative, Stella/Etna moves steadily toward forgiveness of herself and others as well as to achieve her independence and seek the love she was denied. An interesting topic in the book was that of shell shock which was (and is) seen in so many returning soldiers after the war.

I'd recommend this to any fan of Anita Shreve (which I am) and to those of you who find this subject matter of interest. I found it to be a fascinating novel dealing with the human side of the effects of war in a time when women were not allowed much freedom in their personal lives.

219rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:15 pm

74. Carry On by Coningsby Dawson; Great War Theme Read; nonfiction; K; (4*)

Carry On - Letters in War - Time (nonfiction) by Coningsby Dawson is a memoir told in letters written by a young soldier and sent home. And while the young serviceman repeated himself a lot, the letters rang true for a young man away from a loving family, home & hearth & off at the front. I found it to be very touching.

____________________________________________________________



82. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke; Orange S/L, 2010; (3 1/2*)

Interesting and relaxing read without the intensity of my other Orange reads. I liked it.

220Berly
Jun 4, 2014, 3:24 pm

You are a seriously focused reader! I'd join in more if I was even slightly a history buff--not. But the lost two you mentioned sound very interesting. I might get sucked in....!

221jfetting
Jun 4, 2014, 4:02 pm

Just getting caught up on the last couple month's worth of threads, so I'm chiming in late on the Battle Cry of Freedom love - it was a 5 star read for me, too. I'm going to try to find a copy of that book about the siege of Leningrad because that ALSO sounds fascinating I'm on a bit of a history kick right now, so thanks for the suggestion!

222rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:19 pm

81. According to Mary Magdalene by Marianne Fredriksson; (4 1/2*)

I loved According to Mary Magdalene. I found it so interesting to see it put to the disciples in those days by a woman, (the Magdala) the Words that Jesus said over & over again in order to reproof them of their interpretation of His Words. It has really made me think. He said "Make no law of what I tell thee." and "The Kingdom of God lies within." But the disciples continued to make law of their interpretation of what He had shared with them.
Being one who has spent her life reading the Bible, this book of fiction (but based on what the author found in the bit of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene in the Nag Hammadi library on her conversations with Jesus) makes me want to seek out the Gnostic Gospels and other Gospels not included within the canon of Scripture or what we know of as The Bible.
This was a very interesting fictional or alternative look at the Son of Man, Jesus. Highly recommended to those whose nature appeals to seeking more of The Word. (4 1/2*)

223rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:20 pm

The Dark is Rising Series:

April: Book 1:
63. Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper; Y/A; (5*)

I don't know what I expected when I began this Y/A book but it certainly wasn't the ride I was taken on. Most of the reviews I had read on this title were underwhelming to say the least so it was a very great & pleasant surprise to me when I found myself so ingrained in the story that I literally got goose bumps, didn't hear my husband when he spoke to me and was on the edge of the chair for most of the book. I could not put it down. And now I can't wait for the entire set of the series to arrive. I ordered it as soon as I completed Over Sea, Under Stone.
The story begins with Simon, Jane and Barney arriving with their parents for a nice holiday visiting their great Uncle Merry in Cornwall.
But then, but then............the children find an ancient map in the attic while exploring the old house. They must unravel the mystery of the map and what it might possibly lead them to. They try to keep it a secret but word gets out somehow and strange & somewhat frightening people begin to follow them and ask them questions. All of a sudden everybody seems very interested in them. And why is their Great-Uncle being so protective of them? Are they in danger? Their Uncle Merry has discussed the fight between the Light and the Dark and tells the children that as long as the Light is still out there, the Dark cannot overcome all.
This book is a wonderful beginning to what I hope is a roller coaster of a thrilling series. This book is not openly about the battle between the Light and the Dark. It is just about three children trying to understand the map and what it is leading them to.
Susan Cooper has done a very good job of writing this little thriller. It sucked me right in and I was frightened when the children were frightened and found myself saying aloud: "No, don't tell him. He isn't good." I was in it with the kids all the way.
I highly recommend this book to youngsters & adults alike who enjoy a tingling good story.
____________________________________________________________

May: Books 2, 3, 4, & 5:

77. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 2 in Omnibus; (5*)

78. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 3 in Omnibus; (3 1/2*)

79. The Grey King by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 4 in Omnibus; (4 1/2*)

80. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 5 & in Omnibus; (4*)

224mabith
Jun 12, 2014, 2:10 pm

Ah, I really need to get to The Daughters of Mars. I feel like I can't read The Penelopiad with everyone right now as it's a choice for my bookclub later in the year.

225rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:22 pm



MAY READS:

73. Stella Bain by Anita Shreve; Great War Theme Read; K; (4*)
74. Carry On by Coningsby Dawson; Great War Theme Read; nonfiction; K; (4*)
75. Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War by Anne Powell; Great War Theme Read; K; (4*)
76. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway; Great War Theme Read; R/B; (4*)
77. The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 2 in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; (5*)
78. Greenwitch by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 3 in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; ((3 1/2*)
79. The Grey King by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 4 in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; (4 1/2*)
80. Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper; Y/A; bk 5 & final bk in Omnibus; sci-fi/fantasy; (4*)
81. According to Mary Magdalene by Marianne Fredriksson; (4 1/2*)
82. Black Water Rising by Attica Locke; Orange S/L, 2010; (3 1/2*)

(need to review The Dark is Rising series)

226rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:42 pm



JUNE READS:

ORANGE:
83. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin; Orange, L/L, 2011; (2 1/2*)

GREAT WAR THEME READS:
84. The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally; R/B; (4*)
85. We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone; VMC; Great War Theme Read; R/B; (5*); completed in July

OTHERS:
86. The Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus; ARC/ER; (2*)
87. A Particular Place by Mary Hocking; VMC; (4*)
88. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood; One LibraryThing, One Book; (4 1/2*)
89. When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin; (5*)
90. You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates; (4 1/2*)
91. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver; (4*)
92. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; BFB, 1424 pages; (4 1/2*)
93. Evangeline by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; (5*)

227rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:26 pm

88. The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood; read for One LibraryThing; One Book; (4 1/2*)

The Penelopiad is the myth of Penelope and Odysseus. Penelope was the daughter of Icareus of Sparta and her mother was a water nymph. Her very competitive and holier than thou cousin was the lovely Helen of Troy. Penelope is seen in this tale as the constant and faithful wife, the mother of an angst ridden teenaged son, Telemachus, who wants his "portion". She is the lonely, ever wise, wife awaiting the long (nearly twenty year) return of her adventurous husband, Odysseus, who is off saving the world and having wonderful and dangerous adventures.
Penelope tells her tale from the world of the dead to the world of the living, and wants the living to know that she is/was not as she was thought and spoken of.
During Odysseus' years of absence she is suitored by many who assume he is dead and not likely to return. They would like to have her hand and to replace him as her husband and as leader of the realm. Penelope allows the suitors to encamp outside the castle and they proceed to "eat the castle out of house and home". Her twelve favored maidens sleep with some of the suitors, at Penelope's request, to gain information about Odysseus and where and how he might be. Rumors abound. It is said that along his travels he is helped at every turn by beautiful ladies, including the lovely Helen. He also is "taken in" by goddesses who keep him for their pleasure along the way.
Penelope is left at home holding down the fort, playing the dutiful wife and taking care of business. Upon the return of Odysseus he is furious at the encampment of the "suitors" of Penelope and that so much of his wealth has gone into the feeding and caring of them. Also he finds that some of her favorite maidens have slept with the them.
He creates a bloodbath and kills the suitors; orders his son to kill the maidens whereupon the son, considering slaughtering them to be too good a death, hangs all twelve of them. Poor Penelope is left, once again, weeping and with an angry husband.
I enjoyed this book tremendously. There was quite a bit of the spoof to it, and several original poems and limericks thrown in (generally from the twelve maidens viewpoint), and a quite funny courtroom / trial segment at the end that made it all the more fun. This was my first read by Margaret Atwood but it will not be my last. It was also my first venture into mythology, again it will not be my last. I highly recommend The Penelopied to anyone who likes Atwood, who enjoys mythology, or just wants a fun read. This book has definitely peaked my interest in the more important works of mythology and the old Greek/Roman classics.

228rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:31 pm

84. The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally; Great War Theme Read; R/B; (4*)

Thomas Keneally has written with emotional tension crossing the years and the gender divide. This is a wonderfully good story. It is well told but really not a story so much about the great wound inflicted on the world by mad men in 1914 but the madness of men that emerged from it and continue to drain like the gangrenous fleshy wounds of boys from Gallipoli to France and beyond into the present.
The women in the novel bear witness to the birth of a new madness as much as they try to heal the wounds of the old order. The misogyny of Lemnos in 1915 reverberates in Australia of 2012 when women leading, such as Sally or Naomi, Lady Tarleton or Matron Mitchie did in the novel are subject to scorn and derision by the privileged and ordinary men alike; that they are 'wrecking the joint' when in fact they are holding it together while the means to do so are redirected, prioritized and pilfered to the advance of men's causes.

The central characters are Sally and Naomi Durance whose story begins on a dairy farm near Kempsey NSW. Their mother is dying painfully of cancer and their nursing knowledge makes euthanasia possible. What happens is exacerbated by a quiet sibling rivalry which brings about misunderstanding, guilt and a need for expiation. The sisters volunteer to join the small numbers of nurses allowed to go into active service. The point that the horrors of the war brings redemption as well as reconciliation between the sisters begins when there is no doubting the heroism of the nursing done on the battlefields. Tidy arrangements beforehand were no preparation for the onslaught of the wounded and civilian nursing was no preparation for the damage done by shrapnel, bullets and bomb. Gas, when it comes, is even more horrific in a novel that revolves around the effects of warfare.

The horrific sinking of the Archimedes played hugely in this epic story. This was a real ship, requisitioned as a British Expeditionary Force supply ship and she actually was sunk in 1941 when she hit a mine.

"Sally saw the midships doorway open and tilted a few feet above the water. Protesting horses were jumping, their hooves stuttering on the last plates of steel beforehand. There were men in there, screaming at them to go and lashing their hindquarters. Mules fell gracelessly on their flanks as Archimedes’ own leaning flank loomed above them. Two nurses and some orderlies walked down the canting ship’s stairs a step or two and launched themselves. Still looking out at the sea from the rail she saw Nettice - squinting like a woman trying to recognise a face at a tea party. How had Nettice missed the lifeboats? By choice or accident? Already Sally and Honora and the remnants and population of their own shattered boat were sliding astern of Archimedes and could see a little of the great rump of the ship rising by degrees. They could at once see men dropping from the lower port side closest to the shadowy surface of the water as well as others – by choice it seemed and with the howl of their lives – throwing themselves from the upmost, portside railing. They slid down the ship’s sides. Why did they choose that? What did the rivets do to their flesh? But men were queuing for the fright and abrasions of it.

'The thing will drag us under, called Honora. The bloody thing!'

Sally saw Naomi swim one armed, – a true surf Amazon indeed – dragging Mitchie by the collar of her life jacket. The water was full of claims to mercy. There was a soldier with a bandaged arm dragging another whose face had no flesh. Mitchie and Naomi were not any longer in the nursing and tending business, however."

"The the voices of some individuals are heard while others quietly slip away. In an age still of gallantry, the women were in the inadequate number of lifeboats because they were women but they survived because they showed the courage and tenacity usually ascribed to men on the battlefield."

Like their mother both the Durance sisters would succumb to the exhaustion of being women in an Australia whose youth was tempered in the fire and emerged, whatever the history books tell us of their physical and industrious valour, emotionally wrecked.

The Daughters of Mars took a bit for me to get into but I am so thankful that I stuck with it until the book drew me in and suddenly I was there along with the wounded, the nursing staff & doctors. I have read Keneally previously and am convinced that this is a much more masterful bit of writing than that of Schindler's List. I thought this a marvelous story and I highly recommend it. I have read a few books since and yet this one continues to resonate in my brain and in my heart.

Did the ending bother me? I don't think that it bothered me in and of itself but I did go back and read those few pages three or four more times. And I am sure that there will be a time in the future when I will need to revisit The Daughters of Mars.

229Berly
Editado: Jun 16, 2014, 12:43 am

>227 rainpebble: The Penelopiad has received lots of great reviews. And I do love Atwood. So onto my list it goes!!

230rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:27 pm

89. When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin; (5*)

I love inspirational books but I do not being preached at. When I began this book I expected it to be a good story but I got much more than I bargained for.

This book is one of the finer pieces of fiction I have read this year. It was so compellingly and beautifully written that I found it difficult to put down. This one will tug at your heart strings and make you look a little deeper into yourself; look at your life a bit differently. Perhaps make you count your blessings a bit more. I know I have.

The story is about Reese, a man with trying to get away from his past. And it is about a little girl who needs a new heart. Reece meets her as she is selling lemonade at a street stand to earn money to help pay for her new heart. The people of the community know her and her story and are good to come and buy her lemonade. They become friends. It starts out so innocent and sweetly that you are taken for a ride along through this southern community and and before you realize it you are so deep into the story that you want to remain immersed in it.

Reese lost his wife tragically and hasn't been able to find his way back to life's mainstream. His budding relationship with this little girl helps him to find his way out of the darkness in which he has been living and reminds him that life does continue on ever so sweetly and tartly just like a lemonade.

When Crickets Cry is a beautiful testimony to one man's return to the faith that things can again be good and beautiful. I am happy to have found another author to read and recommend.

231rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:30 pm

90. You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates; (4 1/2*)

I was completely blown away by this book. I have always appreciated Oates' short stories but until this book her only novel I had read was We Were the Mulvaneys and frankly, though I liked it, I was not blown away by it.
You Must Remember This has so many back burner stories and characterizations along with the main storyline & the main characters that at the beginning of the book I anticipated a lot of confusion. But Oates writes with such brilliance that there is never a problem of that. I found her writing to be absolutely masterful. She takes something which most authors would present as a dirty little secret and makes it something very believable and at times even beautiful.
It is the 1950s and the Stevick family, Hannah and Lyle, have a son (Warren) going to fight in Korea, 3 daughters; Geraldine, who will soon be marry and begin a family, Lizzie, who will become the family rebel, finish school and move out...and go to live in a flat with two of her girlfriends, and the youngest, Enid, has a fascination with death & soon with her Uncle Felix.
The book is about all of these people and the people in their lives. Mr. Stevick is a businessman with a store of used and unpainted furnishings. Mrs. Stevick is a homemaker who becomes a dressmaker as her children leave the home. Mr. Stevick's brother, the children's Uncle Felix, is a boxer. There is a story within the novel about pugilism which I found quite interesting. The youngest daughter's obsession with death and dying runs through the entire book and is written in quite a different manner than I have ever read before though I have read a lot of books on suicide.
I found the entire novel to be fascinating. I don't know that all would warm to it. But for those who enjoy a quirky, twisty, turny story about a family I think this one will fit the bill. And it is to those I very highly recommend this book by Oates.

232Berly
Jun 23, 2014, 10:05 pm

Very nice review! I have not read this one and now I think I definitely should!! Thanks. Hope your summer is off to a great start. Any gardening going on?

233rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:27 pm

87. A Particular Place by Mary Hocking; (4*)

"In this, her most memorable and triumphant novel to date, Mary Hocking is confirmed as the successor to Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Pym."
~from the back of my book

I really, really liked Hocking's A Particular Place. And yes, it does bear a semblance to the Taylor's & Pym's I've read, though she has a distinct way of her own. This one sucked me right in.
When I read Pym's works, though I do enjoy them, my mind tends to wander occasionally. I did not find that so with this book.
However I don't find Mary Hocking quite in there with the nuances of the everyday, like Taylor can do while yet fascinating the reader. I think that Elizabeth Taylor is in a class of her own. But this book was very, very good.

I found there to be several small stories within the main storyline which is that of a young married vicar in a new parish becomes rather fascinated with one of his parishioners. His wife continues to help him with his work and they go on.

Michael (the vicar) to Norah (the parishioner):
"'We think too much of happiness,' he said. 'And this is not what life has to offer. Those who grasp this fact come out well. Once let life become a search for small satisfactions and you will be in all sorts of trouble. The people who seem to have been singles out for tragedy - a retarded child, an invalid husband, personal incapacity - are so often the ones who find the mystery at the heart of life.'"

Regarding the vicar's wife:
"Valentine, who had come out to work in the vicarage garden, had for some minutes been conscious of people talking quietly in the graveyard. As her weeding brought her nearer to the high dividing wall, she had recognized Michael's voice although she could not hear what he was saying. The other voice was much softer but she knew that it was a woman speaking. He really should be more careful, she thought, amused rather than displeased, because she liked this carelessness in him and would not have wished him a more cautious person. She moved away to caress the cat, who was stretched out beneath the hawthorn tree."

Michael to Norah, in the graveyard:
"Michael said to Norah, 'The way I look upon it is that if we insist on taking a wrong turning it doesn't mean we can simply break away and go back once the path becomes thorny, because by then we have begun to grow in that direction - and, of course, we involve others in our mistakes, drag them along with us, and we can't just walk away, abandoning them. As I see it, we have to live with our wrong turnings and make them into another, longer, more tortuous way to God. The interminable "short-cut" that adds weary time to a journey but brings one home at last.'"

But please do not let me make you think that this is a simple story of fascination between two people. For it is indeed much, much more than that. There are several story-lines within the framework of this novel that bring the lives of many to the surface and speak to their character, to their day to day living. And that is what made this book so special to me. That along with the main plot were so many others that were written so well that while reading them, this reader focused solely on that mini-plot and for that duration was able to put the main plot in the back of the mind.

I find Mary Hocking to be rather a brilliant writer and I very highly recommend this particular book of hers. It is quite special.

234rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:30 pm



83. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin; Orange, L/L, 2011; (2 1/2*)

Baba Segi is obsessed with the inability of his fourth wife (just his newest acquisition; he still has the other three) to conceive. For two years he had been 'pounding' her & still she has not become pregnant. By his other wives he has three sons and four daughters.
Each wife seems to know her place within the hierarchy of the household and as long as they stick to that, things seem to run rather smoothly. But this fourth wife brought in is instantly but innocently a thorn in their sides. None of the three accept her and she is treated quite abominably. The children follow their mother's leads and are also fractious with her.
This then, is the basis for Lola Shoneyin's novel. She seems to not take enough time for the events of the story; in the mind of this reader. There is a lot of talk regarding Baba Segi's body functions which after the first couple of times could have been lightened I thought. Baba Segi rotates the nights spent with each wife with the extra night belonging to his first wife.
And as it says in the title this is indeed a story of his wives. Who does the cooking, the cleaning, the mending, etc. There seems to be no place for the newest wife.
For me Baba Segi got what he deserved in the end when he finds the truth of events within his little family. And I guess that I didn't understand the culture within the story. It was difficult for me to wrap my head around most of the characters, adults & children alike. Though there a few laugh-out-loud occurrences in the story, all in all the effort I spent reading it didn't feel worth it at the end of the day.
____________________________________________________________

86. The Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus; ARC/ER; (2*)

Backhaus has written a novel about an intimate and private conflict. The protagonist and narrator, Tom, has retreated into his room following a tragedy. His relationship with his wife is strained to the point where she is willing to try anything to get him to rejoin the living.
This is where Megumi comes in. A woman whose history allows her a different perspective on what has happened to Tom and thus knows (?) how to help him.
The relationships in this story are almost without conflict. For a novel containing so many painful elements almost none of it comes through in the writing of it. The reader understands that Tom has retreated into himself because he quite plainly says so in his narration. The reader also understands the reasons for Megumi's feelings because she quite plainly speaks of them to Tom.
The moments of drama that do occur seem forced and seem to have no other reason for being than to move the story along.

235rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:28 pm

92. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; (4 1/2*)

This book is written quite different from his Anna Karenina.
The is the story of the French and Russian war as told from the Russian front. At the beginning there are quite of few of the social aspects: the balls, parties, parlor visits, etc, but when it gets into the war, Tolstoy really puts you there.....in the war. The logistics of war and wartime are laid right out. The French were so not prepared for where their Napoleon took them. He didn't fight the war he had planned. And Alexander responded in kind. It very much came to the generals and commanders calling their own plays and battles. I much preferred Tolstoy's "War" to his "Peace". But I also liked how he wrapped up the story.
The very wimpy Pierre turns out to be the man after all. We get to see several sides of Alexander and of Napoleon. I had never read of Napoleon and so really found all that quite interesting. All in all, this is a great story and deserves to be read today and has it's place in literature today. I think it has proven and will continue to be proven a timeless epic of War and Peace.

236rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:28 pm

93. Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; (5*)

The beautiful, lyrical poem about the Acadians after the discovery of America.
One of the most beautiful openings in the history of literature:

"This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in the accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest."

I am certain that many of us here on LT know those words by memory.
In fact when I was in 8th grade 2 of us in my class learned this book & recited it before our teacher for extra credit.

Evangeline is such a beautiful, lovely poem a little over 100 pages long about love and loss; the searching and finding of it again only to realize it is too late.

My copy has been handed down in the family and is a very delicate April, 1908 copy. It was copyrighted in 1900. My paternal grandfather gave it to my Pop when he was a boy & Pop handed it down to me, the middle child of 7 at my H.S. Graduation. I to this day read it every year.

I read Evangeline for the first time in the fifth grade and have never forgotten it. I very highly recommended "Evangeline" for anyone who loves poetry and beautifully written prose. I rated it 5 stars.

237rainpebble
Editado: Jul 25, 2014, 10:28 pm

91. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver; (4*)

Barbra Kingsolver really keeps this, her first novel, alive with her always excellent style and the strong themes that are evident throughout the book. Her weaknesses here are her character developments and a weak plot. Overall this was a very enjoyable read and it kept me entertained to the point of laughing out loud & waking my husband many times while reading it.

The book starts out with a very catching tale of a girl named Taylor preparing to go out on her own right out of high school with very little money . After that the author keeps it interesting by combining the story of Lou Ann's character with that of Taylor so that eventually their paths cross. Kingsolver throws many things into the story that both Lou Ann and Taylor have to deal with such as an abandoned baby, a one-legged rodeo husband, and illegal refugees that affect everyone's lives. This story keeps you entertained and is a joy to read.

The author uses a strong family theme throughout the story and adapts it to fit with the characters. The theme of family isn't the normal one. It shows that you don't have to be related to people to love and care for them and consider them your family. She uses two examples of this type of family in her story. First we learn of Lou Ann, Taylor, Duwayne Ray, and Turtle. They all love and depend on one another and consider themselves to be a family. We also learn of Mattie, Esperanza, Estevan, and all the other illegal refugees who live in Mattie's apartment. They care for one another and take care of each other just like a normal family would. Kingsolver uses imagination and style to keep the story entertaining and upbeat. She keeps it flowing and makes it easy to read. She uses realistic dialect to make the characters come alive and to make them seem real. She also uses figurative language like similies and extended metaphors to indirectly help the reader understand what is going on.

Then too, she uses symbolism to represent certain parts of the story that she finds important. She uses the song sparrow to represent Turtle and to show what developments she might make throughout the course of the book. Her style is her best feature through the course of this book. Most of the main characters go through major changes throughout the course of the story. Lou Ann changes from having very low self-esteem to being more confident and believing in herself. Taylor, a major character in this book, develops a sense of independence and feelings of love for her new family. Turtle is maybe the most dynamic character in the story. She goes from being completely untalkative to being like a normal little kid. Over all the characters seemed real and true. This story was entertaining and interesting.

I loved it and highly recommend it.

238mabith
Jun 25, 2014, 12:47 am

>235 rainpebble: That does sound interesting. I went to a Quaker boarding school and I've since admired them most about Christian traditions. All about god in everything, and "not to be ministered unto but to minister" with a heavy emphasis on honesty and good works. I love that each person is considered equally qualified to share their ideas about god, or to just generally share things that have moved them. It's funny how eventually in silent worship you sometimes do start talking or singing without meaning to, something just pushes the words out. It was such a safe, and unique, space for teenagers to be in. I've never been religious, but I will always love the Quakers.

239rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:43 pm



JUNE READS:

ORANGE:
83. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin; Orange, L/L, 2011; (2 1/2*)

GREAT WAR THEME READS:
84. The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally; R/B; (4*)
85. We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone; VMC; Great War Theme Read; R/B; (5*); completed in July

OTHERS:
86. The Rental Sister by Jeff Backhaus; ARC/ER; (2*)
87. A Particular Place by Mary Hocking; VMC; (4*)
88. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood; One LibraryThing, One Book; (4 1/2*)
89. When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin; (5*)
90. You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates; (4 1/2*)
91. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver; (4*)
92. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy; BFB, 1424 pages; (4 1/2*)
93. Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; (5*)

240rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:44 pm



JULY READS:
85. We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone; VMC; Great War Theme Read; R/B; (5*); (began in June)
94. Strange Meeting by Susan Hill; Great War Theme Read; (4*)
_____________________________________________________

95. Big as Life: Three Tales for Spring by Maureen Howard; (3*)
96. A Woman Betrayed by Barbara Delinsky; (2 1/2*)
97. Light on Snow by Anita Shreve; (3*)
98. Mrs. deWinter by Susan Hill; (2*)
99. One True Thing by Anna Quindlen; (4*)
100. Belle City by Penny Mickelbury; ARC/ER; (4*)
101. Blessings by Anna Quindlen; (3 1/2*)
____________________________________________________________


glitter-graphics.com

ORANGE JULY:
102. House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore; Orange, L/L, 2006; (4*)
103. Gilgamesh by Joan London; Orange Prize L/L, 2004; (4 1/2*)
104. The Long Song by Andrea Levy; Orange Prize L/L, 2010; (3*)
105. Paradise by Toni Morrison; Orange Prize S/L, 1999; (2 1/2*)
106. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers, 2009 or 2010; (4*)
107. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; 1st Orange Prize Winner, 1996; (5*)
108. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris; Orange Prize L/L, 2002; (4*)
109. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris; Orange L/L, 2012; (2 1/2*)
110. Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006; (3 1/2*)
____________________________________________________________

111. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín; (4*)

241rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 5:55 pm

85. We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone; VMC; GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5*)
(began in June, completed in July)

This is perhaps the best book that I have read for the Great War Theme Read this year with the exception of All Quiet on the Western Front. It was so wonderful that I read & reread passages & found myself reading more & more slowly as for it not to end.

The story is a fictionalized account of Irene Rathbone's life in the war years and her war duties (working the canteens, nursing, befriending the soldiers, etc). It also includes the war time stories of several of her friends in real life for they too, were working to help the war effort.
There are passages that are difficult reading as the injuries, gassings, bombings all seem so real as indeed they were. There are also delightful passages telling about her time at home with family and the loves in the lives of these 'war working' women. But then comes the awful sadness, depression, lost time as some of the women lose family members, husbands, lovers & friends to the war.

An especially poignant passage as Irene Rathbone's character (Joan) & his beloved dog (Tam) attempt to come to grips with the loss of her young brother Jimmy:

"His clothes came home. All his field kit from the Battery. His 'flea-bag,' his tin helmet, the trench-boots at which she had laughed that day just before he went out. A tunic torn, caked in mud. Letters from home, photographs, pocket-books, and strange mathematical drawings and calculations.
Joan had spread them all out in the school-room. Quietly, and at leisure, she went through them--sorting, disposing. His three friends would want something each: Carey, Sanderson and Browne. And she thought of Wirebush--that odd little boy to whom Jimmy had always been so kind--who looked up to him with such adoration--and who had so often been a silent guest at Beechwood. Wirebush would need nothing. If souls lived on, Wirebush would be with Jimmy now. He also had died of 'flu.
Tam pushed his hairy bulk through the half-open door. He sniffed at the clothes, going from one garment to the other, uneasily. Then he curled up on a coat, his brown eyes on Joan.
'We'll keep this one, Tam,' she said, folding up the muddy tunic. 'Its got the mud of Ypres on it, and it's almost worn through. I don't think clothes matter much on the whole, but this one . . . Oh, Tam, don't look at me like that! . . .' And she stumbled across to the dog and clasped his head against her in a storm of weeping."

"Joan didn't agree with people who said that sorrow 'softened' or 'sweetened' one. She felt far less sweet now that Jimmy had gone; and she knew that as the years went by, unless she could remember him constantly, she would harden. With him she had lost a brother, a son, and half herself. That channel in which a particular set of her emotions had flowed was damned. There was no outlet for them now; they flowed back, objectless.
She believed that Jimmy's spirit somewhere, somehow, lived on; but that made no difference to the ache she felt for his physical presence---to the fact that she could no longer talk to him, or twist her fingers in his hair, or see his smile."

"We were all young once. "Betty and me, and all our generation---all our brothers and our friends. No other generation ever was so young or ever will be. We were the youth of the world, we were on the crest of life, and we were the war. No one above us counted, and no one below. Youth and the war were the same thing---youth and the war were us. But why us, specially? Why just us?"

A beautifully written and told story. Fact made into fiction. Very highly recommended, especially in this year of the Centenary of the breakout of the
Great War.

Irene Rathbone's fiance was killed in the war and she never married, though she received several proposals.

242mabith
Jul 7, 2014, 12:59 pm

House of Orphans sounds wonderful! It seems to be out of print in the US, annoyingly, so I can't request the library order it. Keeping it on the audio list in case I move to England and get an audible account (it's not on the US catalog).

243rainpebble
Editado: Jul 29, 2014, 2:39 am

94. Strange Meeting by Susan Hill; GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5*)

I had to share this poem as it so touched my heart.

Strange Meeting
~ Wilfred Owen

"It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,—
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

“I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now. . . .”"
____________________________________________________________

Susan Hill's writing is so pared down and stark that the reader feels, sees and understands what she is saying. I love how this woman writes. And I was there with these two unlikely soldier friends as Hill told their story.
I was there as these young men slept in the trenches at the front line, as they attempted and were unable to sleep when they went home on leave or due to an injury. I could smell and taste the metal residue they felt in their mouths. I saw the beauty of the orchard where they walked and talked and felt with them the ruin of this once special place when a German plane crashed into the orchard and the pilot was killed.
It felt physically painful when these young soldiers were sent out on reconnaissance knowing full well that it would be fortunate if any were to return. Their leader told his CO that he could and would not send them out to be shot before they could even attempt to take the hill that the Army wanted to take back from the Germans. The Germans were at the top of the hill and could easily see the Allied soldiers as they attempted to cross the ground to the hill and hundreds/thousands were mowed down with each attempt. This leader was removed from his position and another was posted who was willing to send them to their death regularly.
The things these soldiers endured were horrific and Hill has the ability to place the reader right there with them.
Soldiers Hilliard and Barton were different one from the other but they 'roomed'
together in the trenches and became very good friends & like family with one another. Hilliard received packages from home filled with lovely fruits and sweets which he shared with Barton who in turn received loving letters from his parents and all of his siblings which he shared with Hilliard. Soon Hilliard was writing and receiving letters from Barton's family as well. The two became very, very close one to the other.
This story is so into the heads of these two young soldiers as they serve their country. It is not only interesting and enlightening but I found it to be very emotional for me as I was reading it. The fact that I had a brother in Nam who led night reconnaissance weekly and was horribly injured by shrapnel, who fell into a bamboo pit and almost lost his eye, was in hand to hand combat with some of the Viet Cong, I am sure colored my vision of Strange Meeting. But I very highly recommend this book on the Great War.

244rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 5:33 pm

95. Big as Life: Three Tales for Spring by Maureen Howard; (3*)

This book consists of 3 novellas that supposedly mark the advent of spring.

The first, "Children with Matches" (April) begins beautifully. "Imagine carp--flickering metallic orange, not gold. Their movements to behold as swamp grasses swaying on the edge of an ornamental pond. Natural, by design so natural. The carp are the idea of George Baird, President of Baird Bank and Trust. He has caused the gutting of this pond, the cementing of its retaining walls to simulate crags and timeworn crannies. He believes his carp to be old, that the same stock performs for him these twenty years, flashing like dancers in the Burly-que over in Troy or hovering in tranquility like their gilt images on a Japanese screen. His fish are that versatile.
George Baird is set out by his fish pond, tucked up in lap robes. He is dying. The day is resplendent with the warmth of false Spring, so his doctor allows this excursion. Baird has sent his nurse back to the house. In a feeble pantomime he has asked for a cup of tea. Free of her fussing at last, with difficulty he wheels his invalid chair closer to the black water, the better to see his treasures, for they have emerged from their Winter torpor."
Thus begins the multi-generational story of the Baird family.
George Baird, the patriarch, is very well thought of and a leading member of the community. The son he had placed all his hopes on died in the war. The remaining son "no better than a clerk at the bank, a mild, evasive man not party to his wife's spiritual ambition" means less than nothing to the patriarch. But the clerk, his wife and their daughters move into the ancestral home and so the story moves along quickly into the generation of the daughters grown into spinsterhood. Their father having run the business into the ground, becoming fascinated with the wood surrounding the house and making trails throughout the wood and has left them pretty much penniless. They take in and raise a niece, Marie Claude. The story then becomes Marie Claude's and about the house being left to her, her boyfriend's and her story, the decisions made and the whys. It is an interesting tale, not fascinating, but interesting.

The 2nd, "The Magdalene" (May) begins in quite a different way. Mary, known as Mae, is a nurse and the story is about her past. She is born late to parents of a family in Ireland, one of three children. She has a brother Law and a sister Jane. Mary fell in love with a young man from the township and when he was sent away she became the town whore and was sent to family in America where the youngest daughter of the family became enamored of her. This story is basically of how "Mae" fought off all the men who knew of her past, her relationship with the young daughter of the family and how she made a life for herself in nursing. Again, interesting but not fascinating.

The 3rd, "Big as Life" (June) is a biograpy of Jean Jacques Audubon, better known as John James Audubon or just Audubon. The biography is not so much about him but how his life and the living of it affects his wife Lucy. This one was fascinating to me. Audubon would take off, sometimes for years at a time to study birds or to sell his collections of prints and therefore he and Lucy's relationship, according to this biography took place largely in letter form. They did have four children. Two sons who lived and two daughters who died at an early age. Lucy was a schoolteacher and largely supported the family while Audubon was off "doing his thing".
I don't really know if I would recommend this book. There are some who would like it, but for the mainstream reader I do not think this would be the book for you. It did do one thing for me. It made me want to do some research on the life of Audubon.

245mabith
Jul 10, 2014, 1:13 pm

I only might be moving in my wildest imagination, unfortunately. You never know though. Maybe companions will come back into fashion and someone would like a crafty, bookish, cooking-oriented young lady to join them in Scotland (where the weather would suit me far better than in WV).

246rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 5:36 pm

96. A Woman Betrayed by Barbara Delinsky; (2 1/2*)

Though this book held my interest I didn't find it nearly as good as other Delinsky books that I have read.

The protagonist is Laura, a woman with a catering business married to a CPA and the mother of a teenage son and daughter. As the story begins she is waiting up for her husband who at this point is twelve hours late getting home from work. This is unlike him.
The book tells the story of her, her husband, his brother, her children, her friend, her mother & her mother-in-law. Laura thought she had the perfect life. (little did she know....) My favorite character in this book was that of the
mother-in-law.
As the story moves along we find out, along with the wife, that all is not nor ever has been as it has appeared in their marriage. She runs the gamut of emotions as the story threads its way through the missing person's report, the questioning by the police, the discovery of deceptions by her husband, etc.
Laura seems to invite becoming a victim. It's no wonder I was able to read this 500 page book in one 3 hour sitting. The writing was fine, the story a bit of a muddle.

247rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 5:39 pm

97. Light on Snow by Anita Shreve; (3*)

After Nicky loses her mother and baby sister in a tragic automobile accident, she and her father move to an isolated community in New Hampshire. He gives up his career as an architect and begins to make Shaker-style wooden furniture for a living. His grief practically paralyzed him and he has withdrawn into himself. More and more Nicky must be the adult one in the remaining family.

One day after school Nicky and her father went for a walk through the snowy woods on their property. Nicky thinks that she hears a baby crying but finds that implausible until suddenly her father hears the same thing. They trek toward the sound on their snowshoes and all at once see a 'light on snow' which turns out to be a newborn baby wrapped in a bloody towel and slipped inside a sleeping bag. Nicky's father scoops up the freezing baby and they hurriedly get back to the house and into their truck and head out over the icy roads to the hospital.

Nicky wants to keep the baby and has trouble understanding when her father says no, that they must get it to the hospital and let the authorities take care of matters.

Soon a bedraggled young woman shows up at their house pretending to be shopping for furniture for her parents' Christmas gift. But Nicky and her father both figure out that the girl has seen the papers and found out that this family is the one that found her baby. The girl has not yet recovered from the birth and does not have the strength to leave so they take her in 'just until she is fit' to go.

The characters in this story are interesting and I can see how someone in both Nicky and her father's situation might react as they did...........up until they took the birth mother in. But the book was interesting and Anita Shreve always spins a good tale.

248rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 10:52 pm

98. Mrs. deWinter by Susan Hill; (1*)

An absolute farcical 'sequel' to Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. And I don't even want to believe that it was written by the same Susan Hill of Strange Meeting and In the Springtime of the Year! I don't possibly see how they could be one and the same.
I found no redeeming qualities in this book and consider it a complete waste of this reader's time.

Meh.................

249rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 6:24 pm

99. One True Thing by Anna Quindlen; (4*)

This is the perfect book for a quiet winter day, a cozy chair and a cup of hot chocolate or tea. Quindlen's writing is both lyrical and stark, showing her keen observations about how we relate with and by those we love.

Ellen, who lives and works in New York has basically been summoned home by her father to care for her mother who is dying of cancer. Her father and her two brothers are to carry on with their lives at school and at work. Ellen is angered by this. She does not want to give up her life, work and apartment in the city. But she does what is expected of her, moves home and helps her mother and father.

At first her mother is still able to get around but needs to be driven to her chemo treatments and needs help with the housework. She can enjoy her life and she is happy spending these days with her daughter and the two of them getting to know one another better. She decides she wants to do a book group with her daughter. They go the the bookstore and choose three novels to read and discuss. They get two copies each of: Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations. They make it through P and P and most of the way through Anna Karenina before her mother gets to ill to continue.

Ellen's mother is beginning to have a lot of pain by now, especially in her back. Her oncologist is very hands on with her treatment and even comes to the house when Ellen calls for help. She is now receiving morphine in tablet/capsule form and through a port in her chest through which she can dose herself just by pressing a little button. This manages her pain much better for a time.

Ellen spends tender moments with her mother throughout this time. Her brothers come home and realize their mother will never be well again and they return to the city and to school in great emotional pain, grieving already. Their father spends the nights with his wife and Ellen often sees them together with her father pulling a chair up to the hospital bed and hears them murmuring quietly with each other.

When her mother dies, for some unspecified reason, they do an autopsy. (This did not ring true to me. I have never known of an autopsy being done on someone who has died of cancer.) At any rate after the funeral the doctor speaks of this to Ellen and lets her know that lethal amounts of morphine were found in her mother's body and that she is a suspect.

What follows is the meat of the story, other than the relationships within the family.

I recommend One True Thing for Anna Quindlen's beautiful writing style and for the way she confronts her reader's worst fears. The judicial aspects of the book's ending were distracting and more unlikely than not. But I found this to be a very good read.

250rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 9:05 pm

100. Belle City by Penny Mickelbury; ARC/ER; (4*)

I really enjoyed this multi-generational family saga about the Thatchers, the black ex-slaves and the whites.

As it begins Jonas, from the white side, Little Si (Silas) and Ruthie, siblings from the black side of the family, are out in the woods hunting. They know there will be hell to pay if a member from either side of the family finds them together. But they don't understand why as none of them know they are related. The only ones who know are Jonas' father, a mean, embittered and small minded man and Little Si and Ruthie's great uncle.
As they grow older Jonas falls in love with Ruthie and most likely she with him but we don't read about her mooning over him as he does over her.
Most of the events that occur within the story are historical in nature and quite possibly what one would imagine could take place between these two sides of the family and within the communities where they live.
I appropriately liked & disliked the characters within the novel and I found the book very interesting. I hope it does well for this author. I would like to read more by Mickelbury.

251rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 7:39 pm

101. Blessings by Anna Quindlen; (3 1/2*)

This is the story of Lydia Blessings, an elderly woman who lives alone in a large house. She has a gardener and handyman, Skip, who lives in an apartment above the garage. She also employs a cranky maid, Nadine.
One night Skip finds a newborn baby lying in a box on his doorstep. He wants to keep the baby so he attempts to hide her from everyone. But soon Lydia and Nadine find out about the her. Eventually they begin to see their lives transformed by the influence of this tiny creature. Lydia especially finds her own heart softening and begins to relive past memories of her own childhood as well as her daughter's.
The message I found while reading this book is the old adage that "no man is an island" or "it takes a village".
Lydia has become a recluse but upon learning about the baby she watches Sip as he goes about his work with the baby attached to him. The more she watches, the more she opens up. And as she begins to open up her world enlarges and she becomes not so distant.
I really enjoyed this little novel and had a very warm and fuzzy feeling after the read.

252mabith
Jul 16, 2014, 5:04 pm

Oh goodness, that's too bad about The Long Song. I absolutely loved her book Small Island (the audiobook being an amazing performance didn't hurt).

253Helenliz
Jul 17, 2014, 2:00 am

I've got Long Song out the library after having been similarly entranced by listening to Small Island. Not started it yet, but a shame it doesn't sound that you thought it as good. That was always going to be a hard act to follow.

254rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 5:58 pm



15th Orange of the year & 1st for ORANGE JULY:

102. House of Orphans by Helen Dunmore; Orange, L/L, 2006; (4*)

"My talisman, preserve me,
Preserve me through the days of persecution,
Through the days of remorse and distress:
Thou wast given to me on a day of sorrow."

When Eeva's Marxist revolutionary father dies, proclaiming that he has wasted his life, she is sent to the 'House of Orphans' in the Finnish forest far from her home in Helsinki. She leaves behind her childhood friend Lauri and a life of studying at an old card table while "people came and went" and urgent political meetings were conducted - including one in which a murder may have been planned and then, afterwards, carried out.

The main action of this novel begins in Finland in 1901. This is the Grand Duchy of Finland, part of the Russian Empire, and following the February Manifesto of 1899, undergoing further "Russification" under the orders of the Tsar and the Governor General of Finland, Bobrokov. The House of Orphans, under the guarded care of Anna-Liisa, prepares its children for service. When Eeva is placed in the house of the Swedish Dr. Eklund, she begins to find herself again. She begins to belong to herself again. She was almost content working for the doctor though she was lonely at first as his home was located in the forest out of the village with no neighbors. Her only company was Matti, the aged gardener who lived in a hut on the property, the good doctor and a woman who came in to take care of the 'good' china. Yet she yearned for the days of her friendship with Lauri and her life in Helsinki.

Meanwhile Thomas, the good doctor, has his own questions to answer. Is he more free than Eeva, even with his big house and servants? Condemned to a solitary life after the death of his wife, and still dealing with the consequences of an affair with a friend of his daughter's, he delivers babies and makes herbal remedies from lemons and nettles. Despite the actions of his friend Lotta and his daughter Minna, he begins to fall in love with Eeva.

When Thomas asks Eeva if she would like to write a letter she naturally writes to Lauri and soon they are reunited. But this poses more questions. In Helsinki Lauri and his new friend Sasha prepare for revolution, and plot the murder of Bobrokov. Eeva does not like that Lauri looks up to Sasha and that he is involved with this plot. Nor does she want to be sucked into something that she does not believe in.

"The wooden marker already looked worn with age. The earth had closed up again over his body. He was there beneath her, actually beneath her. Her father, who had carried her so often on his shoulders.
'You didn't waste your life,' she whispered into the earth."

This novel, part love story, part tragedy, part profound political meditation, shows that Helen Dunmore is again in form. Her prose as always is exquisite. And she never seems to 'overdo it'. Dunmore is particularly skilled at aligning the domestic with the political. She uses the detail of the past to create a narrative that is complex and contemporary. She is one of my favorite writers of today and I highly recommend this book.

255mabith
Jul 17, 2014, 6:24 pm

Gotcha! I'll make sure I don't reread Small Island before I get to that one then. Seems like a good idea to leave a long space between them.

256rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 10:34 pm



2nd of ORANGE JULY & 16th Orange of the year & 2nd of ORANGE JULY:

103. Gilgamesh by Joan London; Orange Prize L/L; 2004; (4 1/2*)

I loved this book. I came to care about all of the characters and I couldn't wait to see what was coming up around the corner with Edith and her son's travels and travails looking for 'the papa'. The writing is beautifully done and this reader did not want this one to end.
I am not going to review the book as Dee has done it so beautifully on the book page. But I too, found it to be everything I desire in a read. So well done and the characters were so interesting. Loved the part with the handicapped singer; just so colorful; a truly wonderful book. Read it.

257rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 6:31 pm



17th Orange of the year & 3rd of ORANGE JULY:

104. The Long Song by Andrea Levy; Orange Prize L/L; 2010; (3*)

This story, The Long Song by Andrea Levy, is interesting, even fascinating at times. That proved to be the problem for me....at times. It is about Miss July, (Marguerite as she came to be called by her mistress), a slave in Jamaica on an elite plantation during the days of excess, the days of the Queen freeing the slaves, the days of the freed slaves revolting and the days of the failing plantations. Miss July is a very interesting character and if the book had chosen to stay on the task it began, I think it would have been much better but it chose to go off in different directions that I found distracting. Characters would be introduced that you liked but then came to disrespect. Miss July was always the same and I liked her a great deal. My biggest gripe comes at the end of the book when it goes into her son's journalism and I just pretty much got bored with the whole thing by then, but for the fact that I knew we would come back to Miss July. And we did.
I reluctantly recommend this book. I think some will really like it and some not. I am just below the middle of the graph and gave it 3 stars. I scored it that high for the hope that I found within it and for the first 4/5 of the book.

258mabith
Jul 26, 2014, 1:35 pm

I'll have to put Helen Dunmore higher up my to-read list! I put her book The Siege on already after seeing it on another thread here.

259rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 6:22 pm



18th Orange of the year & 4th of ORANGE JULY:

105. Paradise by Toni Morrison; Orange Prize S/L, 1999; (2 1/2*)

Non-linear and filled with many characters, some of those having multiple names, don't expect Paradise to be a casual Sunday stroll in the park. About a third of the way through I stopped struggling & let myself simply experience the novel. I stopped trying to make sense of it and just read it. That did make it easier to read though I NEVER find Toni Morrison's books easy to read. If one enjoyed the book I would think it would require more than one reading. I didn't & so I won't be reading this one again.
Although emotionally and beautifully rich in Morrison prose as always, her novels require patience & thought, an open mind & a willingness to just let her lead you where she will without having attempting to understand how or why.
I must say however, that the more of Morrison I read the less I enjoy/appreciate her work other than for the lovely prose.

260mabith
Jul 26, 2014, 3:35 pm

It is so hard to find words that don't sound callous when we really enjoy a book about terrible things! Given my reading that seems to happen quite a lot.

261rainpebble
Editado: Jul 27, 2014, 11:18 pm

I am right there with you Meredith. Most of my reading is about difficult subjects: war & wartime, death & dying, rape & molestation; subjects from which I often learn something but generally am always taken into that world so I must 'enjoy' reading them. So I guess that it seems to happen with me quite a lot as well. ♥

262rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 10:35 pm


glitter-graphics.com

19th Orange of the year & 5th for ORANGE JULY:

106. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writer, (2009 or 2010); (4*)

When I finished The Boy Next Door I found myself to be a bit awe-struck. I liked and enjoyed parts of the book but I appreciated the entire book. For the most part it is a rather harrowing story of a family during the eighties through the late nineties in Rodesia/Zimbabwe. I recommend it to some of you but not all. It is not an easy book to read but once into it, the story moves along very fast and I found myself unable to put it down except when I had to, as when we had family and friends here today for a BBQ. Even then, I came in for a couple of hours to read. It kept me awake last night...... not just to read. It literally kept my mind whirling and unable to rest. I cannot imagine living through anything even similar to this.
It is a novel so it is fiction, of course. But we know that things of this nature literally happened there and are yet happening. My heart goes out to the people of Africa so often and I ache for them. This is Irene Sabatini's debut novel and while it wasn't perfect, it was an unstoppable read. I predict Sabatini to be a literary force to be reckoned with one day.

263rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 6:32 pm



20th Orange of the year & 6th for ORANGE JULY:

107. A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore; the 1st Orange Winner, 1996; (5*)

This book is too beautiful for me to review so I will just share some of my thoughts. How easily I see that this book had to win the Orange Prize. What a wonderfully drawn story.
A Spell of Winter is an exquisite story of an illicit relationship between siblings. The thought may make one go "ewww", but this book is written so tastefully and beautifully that I do not think I can recommend it highly enough. It is quite possibly going to be my # 1 read of the year.
I cared about all of the characters although there were very few main characters. There were things that occurred that I anticipated and also a lot that surprised me. I liked the way Dunmore wrote about plants, fruits, etc. I love
being able to smell a fresh pear when I read about one.
I loved the way the book was written and to me, it read like a Virago. I can't wait to get my hands on more books by Helen Dunmore. I hope she has a very long list of books that she has written.
And I wish that I could give A Spell of Winter more than five stars.

264rainpebble
Editado: Jul 28, 2014, 10:38 pm


glitter-graphics.com

21st Orange of the year & 7th for ORANGE JULY:

108. Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris; (4*)

I was absolutely fascinated by this book. Strange, as I did not care for her book Chocolat very much at all. But this book has almost all of the elements that I look for in a but perfect read. A little dark, a little light; some drama, some playfulness; strong characters, weaker characters who can be manipulated, a heart break, a love story; I think you get my drift.
This story takes place in war time France (of course) and brings to a village a woman, who spent half of her childhood here under a different name. There are mysteries and reasons why she does not wish the villagers to remember her or her family from her early years here. The story goes back and forth to her youth with her mother and 2 siblings and then to the current day. It is told in the first person of the woman and then of the young girl of her childhood.
It is a great story and so very well written.

265rainpebble
Editado: Ago 2, 2014, 12:24 am



22nd Orange of the year & 8th for ORANGE JULY:

109. Gillespie and I by Jane Harris; (2 1/2*)

This was quite a strange book in that I quite liked the first half and could barely abide the second half of the book.
The story is about a spinster London lady who decides to visit Scotland, the fatherland of one of her parents. She befriends and is befriended by a family living near her and spends a great deal of time with them. They have two young daughters, both very different from the other. Strange things begin to occur withing the household of her friends and finally the horrific kidnapping of one of the daughters comes about.
Here is where the story got dicey for me and I shan't tell you any more as I wouldn't wish to ruin it for anyone wanting to read the book.
The best thing about this book for me is that it is on the 2012 Orange Prize long list. I found it not to be very well written and the second half I found to be exceptionally boring.
Another good to fair story poorly written, I guess would sum it up for me. I gave it 2 1/2 stars and guardedly recommend it.
I am sure those of you who follow the Orange will wish to read it and I hope the majority of you enjoy it more than I did. It took me five days to read the thing and that is an anomaly.

266rainpebble
Editado: Ago 2, 2014, 1:15 am



23rd Orange on the year & 9th for ORANGE JULY:

110. Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller; Orange L/L, 2006; (3 1/2*)

I thought this to be a brilliant novel in many ways. It's also frightening as it begins with a with the death of a husband and parent. Miller wrote this first part so well that I physically felt a loathing sense of doom.

The novel is set in the wine country of the Napa Valley in California of the 1980s. The story is drawn against the this backdrop. The stories within the novel are written exquisitely and lives are lived and torn apart. I thought the book to be quite good but in the end it got away from the author in a way that was disheartening for this reader. It turned out to be a roller coaster of a ride.

267mabith
Jul 29, 2014, 9:55 pm

I can't wait to see what you think of Brooklyn, it's been creeping up my to-read list pretty quickly.

268rainpebble
Jul 30, 2014, 2:15 am

I am 2/3 of the way through & loving it Meredith. It is the charming story of an immigrant Irish girl and her life in Brooklyn. I think this is going to be one that I will not want to see end.

269rainpebble
Editado: Ago 2, 2014, 1:21 am

111. Brooklyn: A Novel by Colm Toibin: (4*)

This is a wonderful story about a young Irish lady, Eisle, who, because there is very little work to be found in her Irish village after WW II, 'is' immigrated to Brooklyn, New York. I say 'is' because it is her mother, her older sister Rose and a well intentioned and benevolent priest, Father Flood, who make the decision. The priest sponsors Eilis, finds an Irish boarding house for young ladies, finds a job for her and also finds the funds for everything. Rose buys her some new clothes, shoes, etc. Eilis has very little to say about it and if she had spoken up it would have been to tell her family, mother, sister and two brothers, that she didn't want to leave. That she wanted to remain in Ireland with her family. But her sister is well set up in her job, has friends and a busy life so it makes sense that the lonely Eilis would be the one to go.
She is horribly ill on the ship for most of the trip over and is happy to finally see America. She is met and taken round to meet her new employers and her landlady. She moves in, meets the other young ladies in her house and settles in to her job at the department store and is very good at her work.
But she cannot get over her homesickness. She makes no friends and keeps to herself excepting for mass, work and at mealtimes. Her supervisor notices that something is wrong and it is reported to Father Flood who meets with Eisle. They discuss her unhappiness and decide it would be good for her to take some night classes at Brooklyn College in Accounting, Bookkeeping and Law lectures. She attends school four evenings a week, Monday through Thursday.
Father Flood also has begun to have dances for the young folk at the parish hall in order to earn funds for the charities the parish helps to support. He expects to see Eisle attending in support of the plan. So she goes with some of the girls from the boarding house and slowly but surely between school and the dances she begins to develop some casual friendships. She even meets a young man, Tony, with whom she begins walking out.
This is just the very tip of what is in this story, just the bare 'facts', one might say. The book is written absolutely flawlessly and beautifully. The story took my heart with it. I know Brooklyn has been out for some time but if you've not yet read it you may want to. I have never read Toibin before but plan to find other books by him. I cannot recommend his writing highly enough. I would have loved to see this book continue on another 250 pages.

270mabith
Jul 31, 2014, 3:09 pm

Brooklyn will definitely be my next fiction read!

271rainpebble
Editado: Set 2, 2014, 2:45 am

Likely candidates for:
ALL VIRAGO / ALL AUGUST



112. (1.) The Love-Child by Edith Olivier; VMC, (#46); (5*)
113. (2.) In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden; VMC, (#579); (5+*)
114. (3.) My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather; VMC, (#77); (3*)
____________________________________________________________

NOT A VIRAGO OR PERSEPHONE:
115. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart; (4*)
____________________________________________________________

Back to AV/AA:
116. (4.) Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith; VMC, (#305); GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5+*)
117. (5.) Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson; Persephone, (#21); (4 1/2*)
118. (6.) Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone, (#81); (4*)
119. (7.) Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone, (#91); (4*)
120. (8.) The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; VMC, (389); (1 1/2*)
121. (9.) The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier; VMC, (497); (5*)
____________________________________________________________

ORANGE READ FOR AUGUST:
122. When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant; Orange Prize Winner, 2000; (3 1/2*)
____________________________________________________________

And for the August/September (Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S.) I have read:

123. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch; (4*)
124. Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman; (5*)
125. Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden; (5*)
126. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill; (3 1/2*)
127. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell; (4*)
128. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons; (4 1/2*)
129. Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker; (5*)

I have begun Outlander by Diana Gabaldon but am certain I won't finish it until after the month's end.

272rainpebble
Editado: Ago 15, 2014, 11:21 pm

1st Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

112. The Love-Child by Edith Olivier; VMC, (#46); (5*)

Agatha Bodenham is a 32 year old spinster who has lived all of her years with her mother. During her childhood she was a lonely little girl and had, as many children do, an imaginary friend or playmate whom she called Clarissa. Her mother and the servants would often hear her playing in the garden, calling out to and laughing with her 'playmate, running to and fro.

When Agatha's mother died she became very bereft and led a solitary existence for some time. Not being a very social person she was unable to think of what to do to keep from feeling so terribly alone and lonely. Suddenly her childhood friend, Clarissa, came to mind. Agatha wondered if she tried hard enough, would the child return to her.

So she would spend her days and evenings speaking to the imaginary Clarissa and suddenly found with her the substance of her playmate and companion of her long ago. At first the child would come to Agatha only at night but as time went on she began comeing in the daytime as well. The servants were surprised to see Miss Agatha running through the plants and shrubbery of the garden laughing gaily and seemingly very happy. Soon the child developed enough substance, through the love of Agatha, that others were able to see her as well. Agatha explained Clarissa as her 'love-child' in order that things may remain the same. She was very happy as she and Clarissa focused all of their time, love and attention on one another.

As Clarissa grew up she becomes interested in young friends, playing tennis, dancing, learning to drive a motor vehicle and when she became interested in a male companion Agatha frooze emotionally. She feared that when Clarissa's emotional focus was removed from herself and placed elsewhere that she would fade away again.

This little tale has just the right element of the fantasy and gothic ghost story to it. The theme of loneliness which runs throughout the book are perfectly fitting to the story. The prose is gentle, sensitive and melancholy. The story shows the pain of the lonely person who has no one on whom to pour out their love.

I found The Love-Child to be a perfectly lovely story and would love to find more of the same to read.

I gave it five stars and highly recommend it to any reader who craves or enjoys a bit of the whimsey.







273souloftherose
Editado: Jul 31, 2014, 4:05 pm

>271 rainpebble: Great choices - The Love Child and In This House of Brede were both 5 star reads for me.

274rainpebble
Ago 1, 2014, 3:20 pm

>273 souloftherose::
Heather, I am so glad to hear that. I finished The Love-Child last night and was completely charmed by it. A definite 5 * read for me as well. I began In This House of Brede but fell asleep after only 15-20 pages; not because I was bored but just so terribly sleepy. I hope I love it as much as you. :-)

275rainpebble
Editado: Ago 7, 2014, 5:00 pm

Here I am, a week later, still reading In This House of Brede. I find myself reading it very slowly so as to savor it. Beautiful writing, wonderful character development, fascinating plot lines and a perfect story. This one has it all. I think that this book may be my number one read for the year. I know that it is thus far and I have read some really good books this year.

276rainpebble
Editado: Ago 15, 2014, 11:18 pm

2nd Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

113. In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden; VMC, (#579); (5+*)

Only 376 pages in this book and it took me more than a week to read it. More than a week to read the beauty that is this novel for I savored every word.

Philippa, who has been a wife and mother but no longer either, is called at the age of 42 to a life serving Christ. She suffers the sadness of solitary existence, exhaustion that is mental, emotional and physical, the learning of new ways, all of the things a novice must go through on the journey to becoming a nun.

The enclosed order which Philippa enters is Brede Abbey and she enters to attempt her "vocation as a Benedictine" nun. The House of Brede is located in the English countryside and near the sea above the village of Brede. It has lovely gardens and pathways for the nuns to walk in their hour of recreation.

Shortly after she entered Brede Abbey, the 'Reverend Mother' Lady Abbess Hester Cunningham Proctor, who was eighty five years of age and had served as Abbess of Brede for thirty two years became ill and lay dying. As she lay on her death bed she tried repeatedly to tell the Sisters something and they knew that she was tormented by whatever it was but she died unable to speak the truths to them.

Abbesses of Brede Abbey were elected for life and after they put Abbess Hester to rest and mourned her the elder Sisters of the house would meet to elect a new Abbess and as one can imagine there were a great many comments from the Sisters on who would be best able to meet the needs of the community in the Abbey. Simply because one is a nun doesn't negate the humanity of the Sister and there were many a squabble and snapping that went on but eventually they elected their new Abbess and in all of the remainder of Philippa's time in this house, she served under Lady Abbess Catherine Ismay.

In time as the accounting Sisters & the new Abbess went over the books and accounts of the Abbey, they came to realize that what the previous Abbess, Lady Abbess Hester, had been trying to tell them as she lay dying was that she had basically indebted the House of Brede to it's breaking point by too freely spending and mortgaging it's properties in order to have some much needed maintenance done to the buildings and in addition she met with and engaged a major sculptor to make for the Abbey new alter, crucifix, 2 side panels and a large sculpture of St. Benedict. And so dealing with the financial strain of the Abbey is how the new Abbess is broken in to her new role within the monastery.

Philippa learns and grows so much in her novice years and after. She learns and becomes as one of the House as she never thought she could.

"To Philippa the chant was the nearest thing to birdsong she had ever heard, now solo, now in chorus, rising, blending, each nun knowing exactly when she had to do her part. On feast days, it took four chantresses to sing the Gradual in the Mass, four more for the Alleluias, rising up and up, until it seemed no human voice could sustain it."

"Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, Compline; seven times a day---and the long office of Matins, not, as its name suggests, a morning prayer but rather, with its nocturns and lessons, its twelve psalms, the great night vigil of the Church. 'Yes, one suffers for the Office,' Dame Clare said. 'The getting up, and staying up; the continual interruption to ordinary work, singing no matter how one feels, day after day. Nuns have no holidays.'"

And so Philippa led this life of a nun in the House of Brede. As she learns so does the reader. As she sees the beauty of a life stripped down to nothing but being and giving of oneself as the need of the Abbey extends to each nun so does the reader. Rumer Godden has written a perfect and perfectly lovely novel of monastic life with In This House of Brede and I envy anyone their first reading of the novel. Godden's character developments are pitch on and though there are ever so many plot lines within this novel the reader never gets lost in the going from one to another. Likewise the reader never becomes confused with the ever so many characters. I think this novel pure brilliance.

"The life of the great monastery flowed as steadily as a river, no matter what rocks and cross-currents there were; Philippa often thought of the river Rother that wound through the marshes of Kent and Sussex, oldest Christendom in England, watering the meadows whose grass fed the famous marsh sheep, then winding below the town to the estuary that flowed to the sea. Brede Abbey was like that, thought Philippa, coming from far sources to flow through days, weeks, years, towards eternity."

277rainpebble
Editado: Ago 15, 2014, 11:20 pm

3rd Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

114. My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather; VMC, (#77); (3*)

The protagonist in this novel, Myra, is not a sympathetic character. In the beginning one thinks she is doing the right thing for the right reason but with her small minded ways she eventually ruins both she and her husband's lives and so they live out their days in misery.

Myra was an orphan raised by her very wealthy great uncle and she was the apple of his eye. She had everything she wanted and then some. As she reached her majority she fell in love with the 'wrong' man, Oswald, according to her uncle. Oswald had put himself through University and had a promising future but there was bad blood and a grudge between Oswald's father and Myra's Great Uncle John. And he and he forbid his great niece to have anything to do with Oswald.

Though it was forbidden she continued to write and to see him through her Aunt Lydia, who was their go between, and he had his letters to Myra sent there and she had hers to him posted from there.

Her uncle's will left her two thirds of his remaining fortune while one third was to go the the church. However if she married this man she would not see a penny.
The story was told at every family gathering. How Myra had fallen in love with with a man her uncle did not approve of and in eloping with him she lost a great fortune. Such a romantic story but unbeknownst to the family, as the years went on, Myra became condescending toward Oswald and was also a spendthrift. Of course the marriage soured somewhat but the couple remained together and Oswald was ever devoted to her.

As I read this small novel I wondered how Myra had come to be this way but then I realized that many marriages do indeed turn thusly. Cather has, in the writing of this novel, kept herself in check through the entirety of the book. I doubt there is a spare word throughout. It is a quick read and worthy of the reading but I was not charmed by it. I don't believe it was written to be a charming book. While it is a quick read I didn't find it an especially easy read. I don't believe it was written to be an easy read. There is so much between the lines here that I am sure I will one day need to read it again as even now I am looking at it and thinking: Hmmm.......

278rainpebble
Editado: Ago 17, 2014, 2:29 pm

115. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart; not a Virago/Persephone; (4*)

Lucy's play in London had folded after two months so when her sister, Phyllida, invited her to come and stay with her for a few weeks Lucy thinks why not. She deserves a vacation. So she travels to Corfu (a Greek island), across the shore from the closed borders of Communist Albania. Her sister is married with two children and is expecting a third. The family lives in Rome but owns this large bit of property on the water with a large villa and two cottages. Phyllida's family keeps one of the cottages for a vacation home, renting out the other cottage and the villa.

With the heat being so horrible in Rome and Phyllida's pregnancy causing her to feel poorly in the heat, her husband takes her to the vacation home on the island and he and the children remain in the city with the grandparents caring for the children until the school year is complete. So it is just she and Lucy at the cottage.

Lucy goes down to the cove for a swim (she loves the water) and is surprised when a dolphin comes in from the sea to swim with her She has left the water and is sitting on the rocks when she is shocked that all of a sudden someone begins to shoot at the dolphin. Lucy jumps into the water to frighten the shooter with the possibility of shooting her and then storms up the cliffside to the villa which Sir Julian Gale, a famous actor, is renting. She finds a man in the garden and bitterly accuses him. Though cold and unwelcoming he convinces her that it wasn't him.

She later hears that Sir Julian has had a breakdown and she learns that the villa is filled with weapons.

Meanwhile a Greek boy drowns while helping an Englishman photographer on his boat. The photographer wants to take photos at sea. The boy's body is swept away; a fact which they all find difficult to accept as the boy's mother and sister work for Phyllida, the photographer rents the other cottage and Sir Julian is the boy's godfather which is a very important role in Greece.

In blundering through the villa rose garden Lucy meets and gets to hear Sir Julian's theory that Corfu is the original location of The Tempest.

Another drowning thickens the plot and suddenly the reader finds themselves in the midst of a mystery involving caves, smuggling, Greek antiquities, a diamond, the dolphin again, the feast of the local saint St. Spiridon, and many more plot twists.

I enjoyed this book no end and plan to read more Mary Stewart come September.

279rainpebble
Editado: Ago 16, 2014, 6:51 pm

4th Virago/Persephone for AV/AA:

116. Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith; VMC, (#305); GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5+*)

I loved this book. And yet I ask myself, how can one love a book which is at times torturous to read?

Helen Zenna Smith has written a novel (based upon her war service in the ambulance corp) which vividly portrays the lives of a certain number of woman who signed up to "do their bit". Their lives aren't much better than the lives of the soldiers in the trenches and their corp is stationed just back from those trenches.

The drivers get very little sleep. Their bedding is lice ridden. The food is deplorable. Their leader is quite the bitch and they are punished for the smallest of infractions. The cook is lazy and doesn't care if the girls get their rations or their teas. No one cares. At least the drivers are there to care about getting the wounded soldiers to the hospitals no matter how much mud or snow they have to drive through to get them there. Oftentimes at night they must drive the twisting, winding roads (if one can call them that) with no lights as the enemy is shelling the area.

War novels are not new to me. I have long read books, both fiction and nonfiction on World War II but I had only read a couple on The Great War until this year with a group read. My eyes have really opened to the horror of this particular war and I can readily understand why it was called "the war to end all wars" but it didn't. The girls in the book understood that all too well. Why the political wheels did not see this boggles my mind.

There were some light moments in the lives of the girls. There were romances; some lasting, some not and some broken by the killing machine that was the war. For the most part the girls enjoyed the company of one another and they depended on each other to have the back of the others.
This book is filled with character studies of girls and soldiers who have staying power and of some who break and cannot handle it. But back home their families are oh, so proud of them and seem happy enough to give up a son or daughter to the "glory of the cause".

Included in this 'novel' is one of the most emotionally packed and powerful passages I think I have ever read. Smith's character is waiting with the other drivers and stretcher bearers in the freezing night for the train that will bring its overly loaded human cargo of the wounded in from the trenches. She sits in her ambulance and has an imaginary conversation consisting of what she would like to share with two women in her life at home.

"Oh, come with me, Mother and Mrs. Evans-Mawnington. Let me show you the exhibits straight from the battle field. This will be something original to tell your committees, while they knit their endless miles of khaki scarves, . . . something to spout from the platform at your recruiting meetings. Come with me. Stand just there.
Here we have the convoy gliding into the station now, slowly, so slowly. In a minute it will disgorge its sorry cargo. My ambulance doors are open, waiting to receive. See, the train has stopped. Through the occasionally drawn blinds you will observe the trays slotted into the sides of the train. Look closely, Mother and Mrs. Evans-Mawnington, and you shall see what you shall see. Those trays each contain something that was once a whole man . . . the heroes who have done their bit for King and country . . . the heroes who marched blithely through the streets of London Town singing "Tipperary," while you cheered and waved your flags hysterically. They are not singing now, you will observe. Shut your ears, Mother and Mrs. Evans-Mawnington, lest their groans and heartrending cries linger as long in your memory as in the memory of the daughter you sent out to help win the war."

It goes on for another 6 pages, with Smith's imagined sharing of what she sees daily at the front lines with her mother and Mrs. Evans-Mawnington. She hates that these two women vie for who has given up the most for the 'glorious cause' and who has recruited the most young men to be served up to the enemy. For Smith & most of her comrades hate this war that they know will NOT end all wars as is thought at home.

This is not stuff for the faint of heart. But I do highly recommend Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith. This one is right up there with All Quiet On the Western Front, perhaps on an even higher level. It seemed a more intimate read and has remained with me days after finishing the book.

280mabith
Ago 13, 2014, 11:54 pm

Your Virago posts have me very downhearted that they don't have an audio department!

281rainpebble
Ago 14, 2014, 6:13 pm

You know, Meredith, I have rarely been able to bring myself to listen to audio books. I suppose because I do my reading mainly at night when I go to bed (I rarely read during the day unless we are on a road trip) and I am afraid I will fall asleep while listening.
And that is a shame that most all of the Virago are not on audio. Probably because they are mainly such old books brought out of retirement by Virago Press. :-(

282mabith
Ago 14, 2014, 7:01 pm

It's the main option for me. Holding books is hard on my hands, and I need more distraction that just reading some days. I knit or embroidery or work in the kitchen while I listen, so little danger of falling asleep for me. It would be lovely if they started an audio division, especially for anything that's already in the public domain, though it's work to make sure the productions are well done.

283rainpebble
Ago 15, 2014, 2:18 pm

Agreed, my friend.

284rainpebble
Editado: Ago 16, 2014, 7:24 pm

5th Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

117. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson; Persephone; (4 1/2*)

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is rather a modern Cinderella tale that is so uplifting and fun! It's a fizzy champagne cocktail for your mind and spirit. It is a totally believable tale that is so uplifting it pulled me out of the doldrums and I know that it is one I will read again. So light, so funny, so quirky, so everything good.

When Miss Pettigrew is sent mistakenly to the wrong address on a job interview she gets caught up in a life changing day. Here she meets a glamorous night club singer, Miss LaFosse. As in the description of the book: "The sheer fun, the lightheartedness in this wonderful 1938 book feels closer to a Fred Astaire film than anything else". So true.

Life has treated Miss Pettigrew badly but this book describes the day when a change has come her way. I liked that none of the characters in the book are mean or cruel towards her other than the man who wishes Miss LaFosse to be at his beck and call and Miss Pettigrew makes quick work of him. The rather clueless beautiful young people are eager to be taken in hand by someone like Miss Pettigrew even though she isn't one to force herself on one.

I love that the reader is in the head of Miss Pettigrew and as such is privy to the funny thoughts and the all too real emotions that pass through her mind. They are refreshingly human and easy to relate to. In fact this entire book is easy to relate to.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is a delightfully charming story and I highly recommend it.

285SouthernBluestocking
Ago 16, 2014, 1:43 am

Oh, I love Miss Pettigrew! Have you seen the film? I love the comparison--the difference between late 30's from a contemporary perspective and late 30's from our perspective. The book focuses just on the Great
Depression... little did they know!

286rainpebble
Ago 16, 2014, 3:14 pm

Hello SouthernBluestocking;
Nice to meet you. I have not seen the film of Miss Pettigrew but am going to check Netflix to see if they have it on streaming. I found the book to be just totally refreshing. Are you on the 100 book gig?

287SouthernBluestocking
Ago 16, 2014, 7:49 pm

Hi! Nice to meet you too-- I'm on the 100, here.

Good luck finding a copy of Miss P!

288Helenliz
Ago 17, 2014, 10:23 am

I read Miss Pettigrew this year as well, and, like you, was entranced by it. Perfectly lovely.

289rainpebble
Ago 17, 2014, 4:04 pm

6th Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

118. Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone; (4*)

Miss Buncle's Book is another cleverly drawn story about a spinster lady. Barbara Buncle has been living off her dividends for many years and now the tide has turned and interests are not paying what they used to. Her dividend cheques become smaller and smaller until she and Dorcas, her housekeeper, begin to wonder however will they manage........

But being the person that she is, Miss Buncle begins to think on how she can earn a living for herself and continue to pay her housekeeper who has been with her since her childhood days. She knows that she cannot go out into service or the work force for it simply wouldn't do for a genteel lady to do so and she would no longer be accepted within her circles. Aha; she comes upon an idea to write a book but as she begins it, try as she may, her imagination will only allow her to play upon that which she knows. The people of the village where she has lived all of her life.

And so it begins........the story of her fellow villagers........with the names changed of course (to protect the innocent, lol) and their lives switched up a bit. There is the sweet, naive, young Vicar, the ghastly and self centered woman who is out to seduce & wed the poor fellow for she believes he is monied. There is the good doctor and his sweet but frail wife and their twin babies for whom she is always knitting and sewing. There is the couple with the two children who so fear the husband and father that not a peep nor foot tapping can be heard in the house. There are the two single women who have decided to share a home so as to simply their finances. And there are many others.

Miss Buncle's Book is written under the pseudo name of John Smith. She does not want the inhabitants to know that she wrote the book and when it is completed she goes into London to one Mr. Abbott of a publishing firm. He does not come recommended to her but instead she simply went through the publishing houses alphabetically and he came up first. Mr. Abbott is not surprised to find that John Smith is actually a woman. Barbara Buncle leaves the manuscript with him and he spends the afternoon and evening reading it and finds it to be a funny and whimsical read. He likes it very much. When he calls Miss Buncle in, they discuss the book and he writes up a contract for her right then and there.

The book sells very well and the publisher has to order several printings to keep up with the demand. It sells especially well in the village where Miss Buncle lives. People are reading it in droves and most are actually very angry as they recognize themselves, most in not too pretty of a light, and they recognize their neighbors, friends, town merchants, etc. All in all, Miss Buncle's Book, wreaks all kinds of havoc.

I found this tale to be rather ingenious and I loved it. It is a very comfortable book to read with not a lot of depth but when one reads a book for the pure joy of reading there is no need for the depth that one seeks out at other times. I very highly recommend this one for all readers of all ages. It WAS a joy for this reader.

290rainpebble
Ago 25, 2014, 4:04 pm

7th Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

119. Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone; (4*)

291rainpebble
Ago 25, 2014, 4:06 pm

8th Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

120. The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; VMC; (1 1/2*)

I don't think I can really review this book.
There are those who have compared the protagonist, one Miss Sally Jay Gorse, to Miss Holly Golightly of Truman Copote's Breakfast at Tiffany's (which I loved) but I did not find that the case. The novel is quirky and funny but I think I would have to be in a different mind-set to enjoy it. Suffice it to say that as of this reading, I found the title to be quite an appropriate description for my thoughts and feelings on this one.

292Tanya-dogearedcopy
Ago 25, 2014, 4:25 pm

>291 rainpebble: Curiously, one of my bookseller friends loves this book and has been recommending it to all and sundry. I took a look at it (skimming through very quickly, but somehow it didn't appeal to me. It looked to be dated... AFter my first impression and your thoughts, I think I'll pass on it altogether.

293rainpebble
Ago 25, 2014, 4:55 pm

Wise decision, at least to my taste. But so many people on here have loved it. IDK, perhaps an acquired taste like so many others. Diversity is the name of the game among book lovers.

294rainpebble
Editado: Ago 28, 2014, 2:06 am

9th Virago/Persephone of AV/AA:

121. The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier; VMC (497); (5*)

I fell in love with this book just pages into it. The Loving Spirit is Daphne Du Maurier's first novel and amazingly enough I liked it better than quite a few of her later ones.
The story is a very romantic tale told through four generations of the Coombe family. And the author has thusly broken it into four books to offset each generation. It's all about the sea and the land and what draws one to the sea and how it can be or become generational. She quotes Emily Bronte several times throughout the book and one can definitely see the influence of that author within this one.

Book 1: Janet Coombe; the main character wishes she had been born a lad and wants the freedom to do all the things that are acceptable to lads but not lasses. She wants desperately to go to sea and only menfolk can go to sea. In this book she also tells of Janet and a much older male cousin becoming intimate friends, which is frowned upon by her father. Janet marries Thomas, a shipbuilder and as they have their family she develops a strange relationship with one of her sons, Joseph right from birth. It is as if they are tele-connected in some way that she is not with her other children.

Book 2: Joseph Coombe; the main character in this book is the intimate son of Janet. He does what his mother wanted to do and could not. He becomes a sea faring man. He sails the seas in a family built ship named after his mother and called the "Janet Coombe". The figurehead is also a likeness of his mother. Joseph seems to feel his mother's presence with him as he is sailing.

Book 3: Christopher Coombe; the main character in this book is the son of Joseph Coombe and desires, as his father wishes for him, to become a seafaring man and take over skippering the "Janet Coombe". However he finds it not to his liking and jumps ship in London. He works, marries, has children, and writes home about his life but his father cannot forgive him for abandoning the sealife and disowns him to self and family. His sister, after some many years writes to him of his father's sickness and Christopher decides to take his family and return home to Plyn, Cornwall.

Book 4: Jennifer Coombe; the main character in this book, Jenny, is the daughter of Christopher Coombe and was only six years old when her father died. And yet it falls to her to bring the family back together to a productive life and to finish the "Coombe" saga.

This is a romantic, adventure of the highest kind. There is something for everyone in this book. I loved it and cannot wait to read it again one day soon.

295rainpebble
Editado: Ago 28, 2014, 2:07 am


glitter-graphics.com">

24th Orange of the year:

When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant; Orange Prize Winner, 2000; (3 1/2*)

I really liked but didn't love this book. Read it in one sitting. I loved the story; thought the writing could have been a bit better. Some of the characters I quite liked; others I wondered why they were even there. I liked the main character and could understand, at times, her wishi-washi-ness. I did not, however, understand why she allowed that couple to basically abduct her and remove her from Tel Aviv and take her back to England or wherever. I liked the description of her marriage and think a lot of marriages are actually like that. I also loved that she returned to Tel Aviv when she was able to upon the death of her husband. I will most likely read it again because I loved the story-line so much. And I definitely am going to creep into clueless's library and see what books they followed this one up with. I recommend When I Lived in Modern Times to those (like myself) who are truly interested in the cause of Israel becoming a nation in it's own right and I gave it 3 1/2 stars.

296rainpebble
Editado: Nov 10, 2014, 2:46 am

BOOKS I HAVE READ/WANT TO READ FOR THE GREAT WAR THEME READ:
____________________________________

____________________________________
January/February: The Beginning of the War

MAIN BOOK: William an Englishman by Cicely Hamilton; R/B; Persephone; FINISHED; (3*)
Mr Britling Sees it Through by H G Wells; K; FINISHED; (2*)
The Setons by O Douglas; K; FINISHED; (5*)
* The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman; R/B;
* The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicholson; R/B;
____________________________________________________________

March/April: Fighting: On the Frontline and on the Homefront

MAIN BOOK: One of Ours by Willa Cather; R/B; VMC; FINISHED; (4 1/2*)
Aleta Dey by Francis Marion Beynon; R/B; VMC; FINISHED; (3 1/2*)
* The War Workers by E M Delafield; K;
* What Not A Prophetic Comedy by Rose Macaulay; K;
* At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller; R/B;
Strange Meeting by Susan Hill; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
* Fly Away Peter by David Malouf; R/B;
* Her Privates We or The Middle Parts of Fortune by Frederic Manning; R/B;
Belle City by Penny Mickelbury; ARC/ER; FINISHED; fiction; (4*)
____________________________________________________________

May/June: Dealing With The Human Cost: Nurses and Others Who Cared

MAIN BOOK: * Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain; VMC; R/B;
or * Chronicles of Youth by Vera Brittain; R/B;
We That Were Young by Irene Rathbone; VMC; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
* The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker; (The Ghost Road; Orange L/L, 1996; R/B;
* Diary Without Dates by Enid Bagnold; K
The Daughters of Mars by Thomas Keneally; R/B; FINISHED; (4*)
Women in the War Zone: Hospital Service in the First World War by Anne Powell; K; FINISHED; (4*)
Drink to Yesterday by Manning Coles; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
A Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles; R/B; FINISHED; (4 1/2*)
Stella Bain by Anita Shreve; K; fiction; FINISHED; (4*)
* The Picture She Took by Fiona Shaw; Virago Fiction; R/B;
* The Forbidden Zone by Mary Borden; memoir;
____________________________________________________________

July/August: Ambulance Drivers, Pacifists & Conscientious Objectors

MAIN BOOK: Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith; VMC; R/B; FINISHED; (5+*)
* The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold; VMC; R/B;
* Eunice Fleet by Lily Tobias; R/B;
* Non-Combatants and Others by Rose Macaulay; K;
* In Falling Snow: A Novel by Mary-Rose MacColl; K;
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway; R/B; FINISHED; (4*)
____________________________________________________________

September/October: The Consequences of War

MAIN BOOK: * The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; VMC; R/B; FINISHED; (5*)
* Home Fires in France by Dorothy Canfield; K;
Fighting France by Edith Wharton; K; FINISHED; (4 1/2*)
* In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim; K;
* Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson; R/B;
* The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield; R/B;
Wake by Anna Hope; R/B; FINISHED; (3*)
* The Lie by Helen Dunmore; R/B;
____________________________________________________________

November/December: This is the time to read a book I've missed, or a book that doesn't fit into a category nicely......and also to carry on into 2015 the ones I have missed that I want to read:

Turn Again Home by Carol Birch; Virago Fiction; R/B;
The Proud Tower by Barbara Tuchman; R/B;
The Crowded Street by Winifred Holtby; VMC; R/B;
A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin; R/B;
The Virago Book of Women and the Great War by Joyce Marlow; Virago nonfiction; R/B;
Julian Grenfell: His Life and the Times of His Death, 1888-1915 by Nicholas Mosley; Persephone; R/B;
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks; R/B;
The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman; R/B;
The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicholson; R/B;
The War Workers by E M Delafield; K;
What Not A Prophetic Comedy by Rose Macaulay; K;
At Break of Day by Elizabeth Speller; R/B;
Fly Away Peter by David Malouf; R/B;
Her Privates We or The Middle Parts of Fortune by Frederic Manning; R/B;
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain; VMC; R/B;
or Chronicles of Youth by Vera Brittain; R/B;
The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker; (The Ghost Road; Orange L/L, 1996; R/B;
Diary Without Dates by Enid Bagnold; K
The Picture She Took by Fiona Shaw; Virago Fiction; R/B;
The Forbidden Zone by Mary Borden; memoir;
The Happy Foreigner by Enid Bagnold; VMC; R/B;
Eunice Fleet by Lily Tobias; R/B;
Non-Combatants and Others by Rose Macaulay; K;
In Falling Snow: A Novel by Mary-Rose MacColl; K;
Home Fires in France by Dorothy Canfield; K;
In the Mountains by Elizabeth von Arnim; K;
Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson; R/B;
The Deepening Stream by Dorothy Canfield; R/B;
The Lie by Helen Dunmore; R/B;

I have read 19 books for the Great War Theme Read thus far & plan to continue at just 1 per month into 2015 to keep my burn out at a minimum. This has been a wonderful and enlightening theme read and I am so thankful that we chose it.

297rainpebble
Editado: Ago 30, 2014, 5:03 pm

Having signed up for the Labor Day week end Read-a-Thing, I am engrossed (for the 3rd or 4th time) in Outlander and loving it as much as always. Then I have more guilty pleasures lined up for the weekend. Love Read-a-Things.

298rainpebble
Ago 30, 2014, 9:00 pm

Henry and Cato by Iris Murdoch; (4*)

Henry and Cato grew up childhood friends outside of London. Henry was raised with the silver spoon in his mouth, so to speak, for his family owned a manor with all that goes along with it. Even so his parents looked down on him as not being the perfect offspring which they thought his older brother Sandy to be. He grew up to go to University, get his teaching degree, moved to a small midwestern town in the U.S. and taught school there. Henry's father died and his mother Gerda, a very strong woman, is left with Sandy whom she idolized.
Cato, raised by his father along with his sister Colette, their mother being deceased, was rather looked down upon by his father as well. For Cato believed in God where his father John, though raised a Quaker & still attended Meeting, did not. Cato grew up to go into the priesthood and then became truly despised by his father. His mission work took him into the very pits of London. There he met not a lot of people of God but a lot of people who needed God and who needed his help. One in particular, a young man who went by Beautiful Joe, became so dependent upon Cato that he felt as if he was unable to function without the priest.
Henry, while in the U.S. was notified that Sandy had been killed in an auto accident and it was necessary for him to return 'to the manor born'. For in Sandy's will he had left everything, the manor and all of it's properties and monies to Henry. All of this made Gerda despise her remaining son even more for she wished that it had been Henry to die rather than Sandy. When Henry returned he and Cato came back into each others lives.
Henry is probably the most flat character of the story. The others are much more rounded. Murdoch grows her characters very cleverly and gives the reader a chance to watch them grow as well. She is fairly descriptive about places as well as the people in the book and she shows quite a sense of humor although there were some pretty intense situations throughout.
This story, I found quite fascinating in many areas. It is a story of love and obsession as well as a story of love and possession. It is a story of sweet love, compassion and contempt, kidnapping and killing. Murdoch takes you in one direction and you think you have figured out where she is taking you and BAM! That wasn't it at all. Not even close.

"In almost every marriage there is a selfish and an unselfish partner. A pattern is set up and soon becomes inflexible, of one person always making the demands and one person always giving way."

I don't know that Murdoch used the same words precisely in Henry and Cato but the same exact meaning was there. I will be curious, as I continue to read her throughout the year, if this is a common thread within her works.
I also found it very interesting that this book ends with exactly the same words it begins with and it suits both covers of the book quite well.

"... in it's case, heavy and awkward inside his mackintosh pocket, banged irregularly against his thigh at each step."

Quite interesting, that. I don't believe I have come across it before. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a read that is a bit different, to any who appreciate Murdoch and to those who desire to read her. I think it was a good one to cut my teeth on. I rated it a 4 star read.

299rainpebble
Editado: Ago 31, 2014, 4:53 pm

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman; (5*)

An absolute favorite of mine. I thought 'how strange' when I first started it but it might be one of my very favorites of hers and I am SUCH an Alice Hoffman fan. Anything I read of hers becomes my 'bible' while I am reading it.
This is a book of short stories. Each story is about someone who lived in the Blackbird House in a different time and era.
It is an absolute wonderful book!~!

300rainpebble
Editado: Ago 31, 2014, 4:53 pm

Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden; (5*)

I didn't realize how much I loved this little book nor how well written and important it was until I finished it and sat there without a word to say. Because what does one say when they have read perfection? And it is not the story although it is a good story. It is not the characters although I related to the them all from the beginning. It was simply the writing. This author writes exquisitely and with such subtlety that one is not even aware of it until it is done. At least this reader was not. Deirdre Madden.............an author of contemporary fiction to be reckoned with.

301mabith
Ago 31, 2014, 2:04 pm

So many books on your WWI list sound so tempting, yet I've started the rather dry The Eastern Front 1914-1917, as I've read little about it. Oh well, it must be done.

302rainpebble
Ago 31, 2014, 4:20 pm

You are right; The Eastern Front 1947-1917 does sound very dry but it also appears to be a book of logistics of parts of the war that I have not read up on. I may look for that one.
I am beginning to slow down on my Great War Theme Read books and will most likely only read one a month on through the year. I am rather burnt out but I do plan to continue reading this subject matter through 2015 and until I have read all those that I wish to read; those unread on my list.
I hope you are enjoying/appreciating this one and will be very curious to 'hear' your take on it Meredith.
hugs,

303mabith
Ago 31, 2014, 4:38 pm

I don't blame you for slowing down on the Great War theme. I'd be burnt out too! I'd meant to read one a month, but then I didn't make a list or remind myself, so this is my first WWI read since May.

304rainpebble
Editado: Ago 31, 2014, 5:45 pm

126. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill; (3 1/2*)

A good story of haunting, The Woman in Black holds the reader's interest. It has everything a good ghost story entails. A dark & aboding house, the eerie marshlands surrounding said house, strange things that "go bump in the night", the small village where no one wishes to speak of the strange goings on out at the house, and of course your innocent who is sent to the house to do some sleuthing work.
Mrs. Alice Drabble of Eel Marsh House is a client of Arthur Kipps' soliciting house in London and when she dies, his employer sends him out to her lonely house on the marsh to dig through her private papers to speed up dealing with her estate.
When Arthur gets to the village he finds no one there will speak with him of the reclusive Mrs. Drabble, her house nor her life. However the man who trundled her groceries & needs out to her house in his pony cart is willing to take him to the house & return for him.
While at the house Arthur hears the most frightful sounds, sees apparitions and literally hears things that "go bump in the night." He is there alone and tries to remain calm and continue with his work but it becomes more and more difficult. As he goes through Mrs. Drabble's papers he finds very little of use until he comes across a bundle of letters regarding a distant relative of Mrs. Drabble's who is unmarried and in the family way. The young lady wishes to keep the baby but doesn't have the means and so the little boy is adopted by the Drabbles. He later comes across legal paperwork that suggests the reasons for the hauntings of Eel Marsh House and the more he learns the more the hauntings continue until Arthur becomes ill in heart, soul & body. He is rescued from the house in a collapsed state and taken to the home of a gentleman he met on the train coming out who says he must remain until he is on the road to recovery. He is attended by the local doctor, fed nourishing broths and that coupled with much bed rest does Arthur much good. He is surprised one day to receive his fiance, Stella, who has come to take him back to London on the train.
They marry soon after and Arthur puts the experience behind him until one day.........one day................
Well, you will have to read the book to discover more of the particulars and the finale. Needless to say I enjoyed this book as I have every Susan Hill I have read. (Mrs. de Winter aside) I like the spare way she writes without throwing in flowery phrasing and unnecessary wording. I found this to be a good read and recommend it for those who enjoy a little spooking and haunting.

305rainpebble
Ago 31, 2014, 11:50 pm

127. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell; (4*)

In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend's attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital—where she has been locked away for over sixty years.

Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove that she is Kitty’s sister. Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. Esme has been labeled harmless, sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But Esme is still basically a stranger. She remains a family member never mentioned by the family and one who is sure to bring life altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?

Maggie O’Farrell's intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth will haunt readers long past its final page. An absolutely wonderful story. I loved it.

306rainpebble
Ago 31, 2014, 11:54 pm

128. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons; (4 1/2*)

This story is such a hoot. I can't believe that I put off the reading of it for so very long.
It's the story of a young British lady, Flora, whose parents have died and she only has one hundred pounds a year so she must find a relative to take her in. She sends out letters of entreaty and amongst the responses she only finds one that does not seem tiresome to her; her relation at Cold Comfort Farm. So she goes to the country.
When she arrives at the farm she finds the house sitting in the midst of a muddy yard. In fact no one uses the front door because of all the mud. One must use the back door. Here at the farm Flora finds a great many Aunts, Uncles and cousins.
Her Great Aunt Ada Doom, the matriarch, has remained in her room for twenty years and rules the farm with an iron hand. She comes downstairs twice yearly to count the family and make certain that no one has left/escaped. There is a cousin Seth, who wants to be in pictures, a cousin Amos who preaches wildly, a Cousin Reuben who wants to run the farm, an exquisite cousin who is a fairy girl and runs wild round the countryside & the hills quoting poetry & writing it as well. Frankly, the entire family is a mess.
But Flora takes it all neatly in hand and within a short time she has everyone neatly in their niche, including seeing Great Aunt Ada off to Paris, and she is neatly returning to London herself.
This is a rollicking, laugh out loud tale and it was great therapy for me as I laughed & giggled my way through. I very highly recommend this book & look forward to finding more like it. If any of you out there have any titles similar to Cold Comfort Farm, I should certainly like to entertain them.

307rainpebble
Ago 31, 2014, 11:57 pm

129. Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker; (5*)

Earlier today I completed Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker and loved the way it was written, the storyline; just everything about this book. I found it to be quite marvelous. I do think that one would possibly have to like music and understand obsessions to perhaps not be bored. Reading it is rather like listening to Miles Davis, Gorden Dexter, Chet Baker & others of their caliber. I absolutely loved it.
The storyline is about a youngster named Rick Martin, who in just passing by pawn shops and seeing the instruments becomes enamoured by them and he stops daily and looks by the hour at these instruments and imagines playing them. He pulls a tune out of his head and imagines playing; what notes he would pull, how long he would hold them, etc. He teaches himself to play the trumpet and the piano in this manner. The book is only biographical to his music. The remainder of his story is fictional. He becomes a wonderful musician and is quite recognized by like musicians.
I know my description of this book does it nowhere the credit it deserves. It is a wonderful, humorous & yet sad story with extraordinary characters.
This was a five star read for me and I KNOW that I will read it again and probably again, as I have Of Lena Geyer. Young Man With a Horn is a wonderful book and I truly loved it. This is one of my best reads of 2014 thus far.

308rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 8:51 pm

Likely candidates for:
ALL VIRAGO / ALL AUGUST



112. (1.) The Love-Child by Edith Olivier; VMC, (#46); (5*)
113. (2.) In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden; VMC, (#579); (5+*)
114. (3.) My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather; VMC, (#77); (3*)
____________________________________________________________

NOT A VIRAGO OR PERSEPHONE:
115. This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart; (4*)
____________________________________________________________

Back to AV/AA:
116. (4.) Not So Quiet by Helen Zenna Smith; VMC, (#305); GREAT WAR THEME READ; (5+*)
117. (5.) Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson; Persephone, (#21); (4 1/2*)
118. (6.) Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone, (#81); (4*)
119. (7.) Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone, (#91); (4*)
120. (8.) The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy; VMC, (389); (1 1/2*)
121. (9.) The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier; VMC, (497); (5*)
____________________________________________________________

ORANGE READ FOR AUGUST:
122. When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant; Orange Prize Winner, 2000; (3 1/2*)
____________________________________________________________

And for the August/September (Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S.) I have read:

August:
123. Under the Net by Iris Murdoch; (4*)
124. Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman; (5*)
125. Molly Fox's Birthday by Deirdre Madden; (5*)
126. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill; (3 1/2*)
127. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell; (4*)
128. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons; (4 1/2*)
129. Young Man With a Horn by Dorothy Baker; (5*)
____________________________________________________________

September:
Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg; (5*)
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; (3 1/2*)
Mia by Robert Nathan; (4*)

and I read more than half of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon throughout the RaT; so far I would rate this one at (4 1/2*)

WRAPPING UP AUGUST . . . . .

309rainpebble
Editado: Out 4, 2014, 9:55 pm



MY FAVORITE SEASON OF THE YEAR: FOOTBALL SEASON!~!

SEPTEMBER READS:
(for the Labor Day Read-a-Thing)
128. Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg; (5*)
129. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; (3 1/2*)
130. Mia by Robert Nathan; (4*)
____________________________________________________________
For the MARY STEWART READING WEEK:
131. Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart; (3 1/2*)
132. Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart; (3*)
133. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart; (4*)
134. A Walk in Wolf Wood by Mary Stewart; (4 1/2*)
135. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart; (5*)
____________________________________________________________
For Banned Books Week:
136. The Color Purple by Alice Walker; (5+*)
____________________________________________________________
My Orange for the month of September:
137. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; Orange Prize L/L; 2003; (4*)

138. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay; (3*)

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon;

And I read more than half of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon throughout the RaT; so far I would rate this one at (4 1/2*)

I spent so much time reading during the RaT that between our grandsons playing Little League Football and Varsity Football, I think I may take it easy on my eyes during September. (or not) But will definitely not push myself and go with how I feel, keeping my family priorities in line.

Sunday, the 14th we begin our Mary Stewart Reading Week. I have so been looking forward to this. Just relaxing & reading.
Next comes Banned Books Week, 2014 and then it will be back to Outlander.

310rainpebble
Set 2, 2014, 8:30 pm

128. Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg; (5*)

I think that perhaps this is my favorite Berg. I loved this book.

Kitty lives with her five brothers and sisters in a small house in Chicago in the 1940's. She is waiting for the day her boyfriend, Julian, comes home from the war. But other things are happening in their lives. Her sister's unexpected announcement, one of her brothers does something drastic for the war effort, and Kitty meets another man that could change her destiny forever.

Although some people have complained that the book is slow I savored the slowness. It took me back to another time when people weren't in such a hurry and did the best they could with what they had.

Also I noticed in the acknowledgments that Berg had talked to her relatives and other WWII vets so I felt the book was well researched. This is a lovely glimpse of days gone by.

311rainpebble
Editado: Set 2, 2014, 8:33 pm

129. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; (3 1/2*)

In Cold Blood was, for me, not quite the book I expected it to be. It was very well researched, critically and wonderfully written, but it never really grabbed me like Capote's short stories have. Perhaps I just "wasn't there" in the moment while reading the book.
I never really felt like I got a handle on the characters. I wasn't even able to wrap myself around the two killers and that seemed strange to me.
The book itself is a true story about a chilling homicide that took the lives of four family members in Kansas in 1959. From the very few clues found and the many interviews conducted over time, the police eventually track down the murderers. The two killers who, thinking the family had a great deal of money hidden in the house, planned to rob them and leave no witnesses. But there was no money and the family died for naught.
The most memorable part of the book for me was that, while incarcerated, Perry (one of the two murderers) befriended a squirrel that he named Red. He lured Red off a tree branch onto the window sill of his cell. He would feed him leftover scraps and he taught him to play with a paper ball, to beg, and to ride on his shoulder. The lady who cooked for the inmates said afterward that she attempted to befriend the little squirrel, but all he wanted was Perry.
Most of the hardened material of the book has already left me. I think my psyche didn't really allow it in. Hopefully one day in the future I will read this gifted book again and be able to appreciate what Capote's brilliance had to offer through it.
I think that I just wasn't mentally in a place to "get into" In Cold Blood at this space in time.

312rainpebble
Set 2, 2014, 8:46 pm

130. Mia by Robert Nathan; (4*)

As autumn approaches winter, Thomas Baggot, a Cape Cod resident sets out to write his autobiography. The moderately successful author is in an introspective mood. He feels his life and the time for personal relationships have all passed for him. By chance he meets Emmeline, a neighbor lady who lives just over the little hill from him. She is an introvert spinster with not much self confidence who also seems regretful about her past But Thomas sees something within her, a kindred spirit.
As the two begin to spend time together, Thomas also meets a young, peculiar girl, Mia, who possesses an eerie quality about her. Unlike most girls her age, full of life and excited about the adventures to come she, much like Emmeline, is quite melancholy and regretful. Everything ties together when Thomas is invited to Emmeline’s house for dinner and comes across an old school album. As he skims through the book he thinks he’s seen a ghost when he discovers a photograph of a young girl identified as Emmeline and yet baring a remarkable resemblance to Mia. In the end, Thomas discovers that Mia is Emmeline’s 'younger sel'” and is there to warn him of things yet to come in his life.
In his trademark style, Robert Nathan conjures up a story of the mysterious essence of youth, of years past, and of time held in its flight by the sudden astonishment of love.
Robert Nathan never fails to take me out of myself and I love him and his writing for giving me that gift.

313Tanya-dogearedcopy
Set 2, 2014, 8:54 pm

>129 rainpebble: I listened to the audiobook edition of In Cold Blood (narrated by Scott Brick) and it is one of my favorite audiobooks of all time. I don't know how I would have fared with it in print, but Brick's neutral but intelligent reading of the material really hit home for me. Though it has been years, I can recall much of what I listened to, and how I felt about what was written: the shock of the crime itself, respect for the dogged efforts of the KBI, the warped sympathy for Perry, the questioning of the death penalty... Interestingly, the dynamic between Richard Hickock and Perry Smith is very much like that of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold (Columbine.) If I remember correctly, Dave Cullen cites Hickock & Smith in his book, Columbine when discussing the psychopathies of the boys. It's all (both In Cold Blood and Columbine) hard stuff though, so I can see not having the right mindset to appreciate it until the time is right.

314rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 4:50 pm

131. Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart; (3 1/2*)
(her last gothic romantic mystery)

This is a rather typical Stewart cosy with a bit of the intrigue and a touch of romance. It was a smooth and comfy go until the very end when it got rather busy but all in all a nice little tale.
It takes place in the late 40s. Our protagonist is a young lady who has lost her husband in the war and she is called home from London by her Scottish gran. Her gran raised her when her mother, Lilias, ran off with a gypsy lad. Kathy/Kate's gran is ill though she is now out of hospital and recovering nicely. She wants Kathy to go to the cottage where the family lived for many years while working as domestics for the property and hall owners. Her gran cooks for them still when she is healthy. But at Rose Cottage years ago her gran and gramp made a hidden safe in the wall for little family treasures and important papers. Kathy's gran now wants them and she cannot go herself.
When Kathy gets to the cottage she finds that the safe has been broken into and is empty. A rose bush has been dug up. As she grew up here she knows all of the villagers quite well and visits several of them to see if they can give her any answers as to whether anyone has been seen at the cottage. She finds out that someone has been to the cemetery and visited the graves of her gramp and her bitter old auntie, leaving flowers still fresh on their graves.
Davey, a childhood friend, helps Kathy to uncover all she can about the goings on at Rose Cottage. All comes together happily at the end. (I did say it was a typical Stewart, did I not?)
This was an enjoyable little read as are all of Mary Stewart's books. So nice to read when one just wishes to relax with a novel.

315rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 4:56 pm

132. Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart; (3*)

Our protagonist is WWII war widow Charity whose holiday in France becomes life changing. It starts with a large dog and a young & troubled boy in Avignon and progresses with a suspicious step-mother, an Englishman who reads poetry and a much too handsome Frenchman via a thrilling car chase to a man who had been accused, but acquitted, of murder and is desperate to connect with his son in spite of others attempts to prevent it.
The story starts off peacefully but the reader knows that things are going to change quickly as all the players are in place. Stewart's writing is incredibly visual. Her sense of place is vivid to the point that you feel the heat and smell the flowers. Her use of analogy is wonderful. With only a few words, you know who these characters are. Charity is a strong, smart and very capable character. Her friend, Louise, plays a minor role but is memorable in her own right. Stewart has drawn a lovely character in the boy, David. She creates and builds the suspense, but adds just a subtle, mostly off-scene, bit of romance to make a wholly satisfying read. Even the chapter headings add to the story. This book was an absolute pleasure to read, as are most of Mary Stewart's works.

316rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 4:57 pm

133. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart; (4*)

Wildfire at Midnight is a very well written suspense story about a model, Gianetta, who decides to take a vacation in the remote Isle of Skye region of Scotland. Little does she know that it will be anything but relaxing. She steps into a situation filled with tension as a murder has occurred just prior to her arrival. The investigation is still ongoing. So every man staying at her hotel, one of whom just happens to be her ex-husband, is a suspect. Adding to the tension are the undercurrents between various men and women staying at the hotel. Gianetta's feels much dismay at seeing her ex again after four years and with the additional murders that occur while she is there.
The suspense in this book is nicely done if somewhat mild, though that is the style of Stewart. It is far from obvious at the onset who the murderer is. However by the time the culprit is revealed it isn't at all surprising due to the clues that have been dropped along the way.
Stewart is a different kind of suspense writer. Hers is a blend of suspense, literature, lyrical prose with just a wee bit of romance. thrown in.
If you, like me, appreciate suspense stories that are a beautiful blend of mystery with wonderful descriptive prose that transports you to another time and place then this Mary Stewart is one for you.

317rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 4:59 pm

134. A Walk in Wolf Wood by Mary Stewart; Y/A; (4 1/2*)

A near perfect Mary Stewart. Her devoted readers will recognize in this magical tale her gifts as an incomparable storyteller. It is a children's or even could be considered young adult story but definitely not for children alone.
While their parents are sleeping after a picnic in Germany's Black Forest, the children, John and Margaret, witness a haunting sight. A young man wearing a medieval costume, or so they think, runs past them weeping. The children, being curious and compassionate, follow his trail to a deserted, old & abandoned looking hut, where they feel he must live.
When they return to the picnic site they find no parents, now basket, no auto, nothing to indicate they had ever been there.
They later rescue a huge wolf by redirecting a determined hunting party on the hunt. Eventually their curiosity and persistence is rewarded. The man/wolf returns in human form to entrust them with his tale of betrayal and evil enchantment which caused him to turn into a night time werewolf. He requests their aid to free himself, the Duke and his young son from the evil Almeric's scheme to claim the throne. Soon the children embark on a daring enterprise to sneak into what appears to be a ruined castle in order to show the wolf/man's special medallion/amulet to the sickly Duke, who has one like it from their youth as he was the man/wolf's great friend.
The three conspirators trust the spell, which obliterates all traces of the 20th century, to help them prevent Almeric's cruel plot from succeeding. Magically they can speak archaic German and seem to know things which they did not learn in school. Although the children try to convince themselves that it is all a dream, Lord Mardian (the man/wolf) explains: "This is real as your own time is real and there is suffering to be won or to be escaped from. It is for you to choose. Choice is man's right..."
Complete with medieval vocabulary to stretch your memory of history, sinister villain, unsuspecting human quarry, this book reads quickly, quicker than this reader wanted. The delightful text is enhanced by wondrous black and white drawings by the artist Emanuel Schongut whose wolf leaps out beyond the frame of his illustrations. Since the children can not choose when to operate the time travel aspect of their adventure they must be flexible and trusting. This tale, evocative of time travel, evil enchantment, and good and bad, Walk in Wolf Wood offers wondrous transportation back into the realm of the fairy tale and fantasy worlds.
I found this book to be very enjoyable and titillating whether for a child, young adult or just a reader young at heart. I loved this Mary Stewart Y/A.

318rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 5:05 pm

135. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart; (5*)

Lonely Gellis is befriended by her cousin Gellis for whom she is named. When her older cousin dies she leaves young Gelly her house and it's contents. Gelly finds it is full of herbs, mysterious concoctions and even a crystal ball. Her cousin had been considered a white witch by her neighbours.
Gelly meets her closest neighbour who wants to read her cousin's famous cookbook and also meets young William and his handsome widowed father, Christopher John.
Set just after WW II, this is a gentle book about learning who you are, where and with whom you fit in this world.

319rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 5:03 pm

For Banned Books Week:
136. The Color Purple by Alice Walker; (5+*)

I find The Color Purple to be as beautifully written today as it was when I read it for the first time upon it's release. Alice Walker was given a gift to put onto paper for the rest of the world to share with her.

"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."
(Shug to Celie)

"What I love best bout Shug is what she been through, I say. When you look in Shug's eyes you know she been where she been, seen what she seen, did what she did. And now she know."
(Celie to Mr.)

The Color Purple is a pure example of great and wonderful literature. Alice Walker proves the hardship of life for those less fortunate. The painful and hard things that Celie had to go through make you feel total compassion for the character.

One of the best qualities of a writer is being able to make the reader feel what the characters are feeling and in writing this book Alice Walker did just that.

I very highly recommend this book.

320rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 5:05 pm

137. My Orange for September:
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; Orange Prize L/L; 2003; (4*)

"Inside the snow globe on my father's desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect o the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, "Don't worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world.""

Thus begins The Lovely Bones. Susie is a young girl of just fourteen years when she is taken, raped, murdered and dismembered. Instincts tell her father who committed this crime against his child whose body is never found. He goes to the police with his suspicions and though they investigate the man they need evidence which they are unable to find.
One would think this a difficult book to read but this reader did not find it so. It is told from the perspective of Susie, the victim, who is in heaven. A heaven such as I, who believe in heaven and hell, have never envisioned. It is rather a casual place and Susie's enjoyments on earth are also her enjoyments in heaven. And Susie can see and hear what is happening on earth, within her families and others, even her murderer. But she doesn't spend all of her time in this way. There are times when those remaining on earth feel the presence of Susie near them.
As Susie tells her story the horror of it does not become negligible but she tells it in a way that one can accept and move around it and remain within the story. Not just the event.
This is the story of how a family deals with and yet cannot deal with the tragic loss of a beloved child. And Sebold tells this tale in a masterful way very different from those you have read on like subject matter.
The climax of the book may not be what you expect, need or desire. But it suits what comes before.
This is my second Sebold read. I am only saddened that there is only one more currently out there to read. I highly recommend The Lovely Bones and rated it 4 stars.

321rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 5:07 pm

138. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay; (3*)

I can't remember the last time a book inspired such mixed emotions in me. I was simultaneously charmed by Dexter and bored by the plot.

Dexter is witty, charming and manages to connect with the reader despite the fact that he's void of feelings inside. Jeff Lindsay's character development with Dexter is brilliant and results in an engaging, endearing serial killer. However I found the other characters to be rather flat and uninspiring. The plot falls dull and tiring.

Dexter, however, is divinely and uniquely quirky. A blood-splatter pattern expert, he talks naturally of 'a splay of police cars' or 'a clot of police officers' gathered around a body. He's cool, sardonic, with an eye for the irony or ridiculous. Though regarding himself as 'inhuman' he's a superb political animal attuned to the police department games & the nuances of his conniving colleagues, calmly on the knife's edge between work and 'play'.

Throughout the chaotic and totally entertaining criminal investigations, which are hard to describe without giving too much away, runs the reassurance of the 'Wisdom of Harry'. The late Harry, Dexter's wise & worldly foster father, recognized the 'beast' in Dexter, teaching him to channel it towards those we would be better off without. The 'Wisdom of Harry' also taught him how to be inconspicuous and appear normal and in control, lessons which have seen Dexter well through many murders but which include nothing about what to do when the dreams start...

Darkly Dreaming Dexter is fun, creepy, gripping and clever.

322rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 5:10 pm



MY FAVORITE SEASON OF THE YEAR: FOOTBALL SEASON!~!

SEPTEMBER READS:
(for the Labor Day Read-a-Thing)
128. Dream When You're Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg; (5*)
129. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote; (3 1/2*)
130. Mia by Robert Nathan; (4*)
____________________________________________________________
For the MARY STEWART READING WEEK:
131. Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart; (3 1/2*)
132. Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart; (3*)
133. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart; (4*)
134. A Walk in Wolf Wood by Mary Stewart; (4 1/2*)
135. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart; (5*)
____________________________________________________________
For Banned Books Week:
136. The Color Purple by Alice Walker; (5+*)
____________________________________________________________
My Orange for the month of September:
137. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold; Orange Prize L/L; 2003; (4*)

138. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay; (3*)

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon;

And I read more than half of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon throughout the RaT; so far I would rate this one at (4 1/2*)

I spent so much time reading during the RaT that between our grandsons playing Little League Football and Varsity Football, I think I may take it easy on my eyes during September. (or not) But will definitely not push myself and go with how I feel, keeping my family priorities in line.

Sunday, the 14th we begin our Mary Stewart Reading Week. I have so been looking forward to this. Just relaxing & reading.
Next comes Banned Books Week, 2014 and then it will be back to Outlander.

WRAPPING UP SEPTEMBER . . . . .

323rainpebble
Editado: Nov 14, 2014, 2:13 am



MY OCTOBER READS:
139. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams; Library; R/L bookclub; (2 1/2*); memoir
140. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; ROOT & BFB, 896 pages; (5+*)
141. Artemis Begins by Eoin Colfer; (3*)
____________________________________________________________
My Orange/Bailey's of the month:
142. Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen; L/L, 2014; (4*)
143. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison; S/L, 2010; (3*)
____________________________________________________________
144. Carrington: A Life by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina; (5*)
145. The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family by Juliet Barker;
146. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon; (4*)
____________________________________________________________
For the October Horror RaT:

147. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James; (4*)
148. East of the Mountains by David Guterson; (5*)
149. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III; (3 1/2*)
150. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin; (4*)
151. The Other by Thomas Tryon; (4*)
152. Christine by Stephen King; (3*)
153. The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin; (4*)
154. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie; (4*)
155. Night Tales II: Nightshade & Night Smoke by Nora Roberts; (3*)
156. Mistresses of the Dark by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz; (4 1.2*)
157. 50 Great Ghost Stories by John Canning; (4*)
158. Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; (5*)

324rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 8:40 pm

139. When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams; Library; R/L bookclub; (2 1/2*)

This is a tough one for me to review.

On the one hand I enjoyed most of the writing. But on the other hand I found Williams to be quite tiresome at times.

The book is a memoir (could have/should have been a journal) and I think a tribute to the mother of the author who died of cancer in her 50s. The family is Mormon and it is the duty of the women in this culture to keep a journal throughout their lives while the men write the story of their own lives.
Williams' mother left to her the entirety of her journals, not to be read until after her demise. When, upon her mother's death, the author went to find the journals she found three shelves filled with beautifully cloth bound journals and not ONE single word in any one of them.
This narrative has been written to show women and especially Mormon women their voice. It is written with beautiful, flowery prose which at times is meaningful but at other times seems to just be pretty words upon the page. Throughout the book the author throws labels of her mother's journals in sporadically.

"My Mother's Journal's are paper cranes."

""I belong to a Clan of One-breasted Women." These words flew out of my mind after a friend simply asked, "How are you?" I could not know then what I know now, that this image allowed me to see the women in my family as warriors, not victims of breast cancer. Twenty-two years later, these words, this image, "When Women Were Birds," came to me in a dream without explanation."
"Were We?"
"Are we still?"
"Or are we in motion, never to be caught? We remain elusive by choice.
"I am a woman with wings," I once wrote and will revise these words again. "I am a woman with wings dancing with other women with wings.""

"In a voiced community, we all flourish."

I kept waiting to find something of real depth between this small book's covers but alas, it was not to be. I did enjoy the book simply for the words that I found lovely and have decided to ignore the rest.

325rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 5:17 pm

140. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; (5*) (a reread several times over for me)

Wouldn't most of us love a chance to go back in time and change something or be able to decide not to make a choice that we have lived to regret? In Diana Gabaldon's Outlander the heroine gets that second chance.
Claire Randall, our protagonist, is a combat nurse in the 1940s, reunited with her husband of 8 years. They are having a second honeymoon in Scotland when Claire is transported back in time through the stone circle to the 1700s by forces she does not understand.
1743 Scotland is torn by war and Claire has trouble believing what is happening to her. Then she is forced to marry the breathtakingly handsome and ethical (for the 1700s) Jamie Fraser. He introduces her to a love so absolute that it can withstand torture, war, and hate. But will these star crossed lovers be able to defy the laws of time?
Claire is a most wonderful heroine. It was lovely to see historical Scotland from a more modern point of view and from the past also as the subject matter has been well researched. When Claire's 'second chance' comes she grasps it with both hands and holds tight. It is fabulous to see that kind of strength in a heroine. And young Jamie is a nice change from the normal hero. In this novel he is the virgin and Claire is the one with experience and I was delighted that Jamie was a virgin on his wedding night.
The secondary characters of this novel are deftly woven throughout the story and some of them are downright loveable. Others are despicable. But they all add to the ebb and flow of the narrative.
Because Outlander is written in first person this reader felt very connected to Claire. I laughed and wept right along with her. I was thrilled that this is part of a series. Readers of the book seem either to love or to hate it. I belong to the former. When I got to the end of the book I couldn't wait to read the next in the series.
I am looking forward to rereading the second in the series: Dragonfly in Amber.

326rainpebble
Editado: Out 12, 2014, 9:06 pm

Going all the way back to August for this one which I read as part of All Virago/All August but neglect to review at the time:

119. Miss Buncle Married by D.E. Stevenson; Persephone, (#91); (4*)

The follow up novel by Stevenson to her Miss Buncle which I rated as a 4 star read as well. I thoroughly enjoy the second as much as the first.
In this second of the series, Barbara Buncle has wed one solicitor, Arthur Abbott and thusly has become Mrs. Abbott. He has agreed to let her find a new home in the country and though it takes her much time to do so, she finally finds what to her is a desirable village house. Mr. Abbott looks at the house and sees a money pit but whatever his darling Mrs. Abbott wants he will furnish for her. She oversees all of the updating and upgrading of the home and furnishes it beautifully.
While walking in the gardens she comes upon two young children playing in the creek and upon it's banks. They get to chatting and tell her that they live just beyond the wood and they are worried that the new owners of the Archway House will not allow them to play in the wood and gardens but Mrs. Abbott assures that they are most welcome to play there as they have always done.
This second novel is just as fun filled as the first with many a surprising turn of events occurring. The joy of a life in a small village shines through the pages. These comfy, cosy novels remind me so of a mix of Angela Thirkell and Barbara Pym's books with just a touch of Elizabeth Taylor thrown in.
I very highly recommend D.E. Stevenson's books. They are a lark.

327rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 6:06 pm

141. Artemis Begins by Eoin Colfer; (3*)

In Artemis Begins, the author tells an apparent autobiographical story of growing up with four brothers and how one of his brothers lived a charmed life enabled to sweet talk his way out of anything. An unlikely role for the middle child, Donal was something of a hero in the neighborhood, giving out and later trading his "favors, tricks, con jobs, and sob stories" for candy and what have you. Now, if you've ever read the Artemis Fowl series, you can appreciate the Artemis in Donal or the Donal in Artemis. The story has an ultimate pièce de résistance that is a must read and had me laughing aloud while thinking, "That is just so Artemis!"
This one had me laughing out loud.

328Tanya-dogearedcopy
Out 7, 2014, 7:14 pm

I first read Outlander twenty-three years ago when it first came out, again about ten years later, and most recently about five years ago. Each time I've read it, I read the book very differently, mostly because I'm a very different person each time or rather I was mentally in a different place so to speak (I would love to say that I've matured, but even I have doubts on that score!) In any event, I've always been surprised that each time at what I missed from the previous readings. At first, I saw it as a Romance novel, then a historical fiction/adventure fiction novel, then something a bit psycho-sexual. I've gone on to read the next couple in the series; but neither of the subsequent novels that I read seem to have that same "magic" about it as the first-in-series (for me anyway.) I might try a re-read by listening to the audiobook editions though. I've heard the narrator, Davina Porter does an extraordinary job of it!

329rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 5:38 pm

My 1st Orange of the month:
142. Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen; L/L, 2014; (4*)

This is a story of second chances and the chances arrive when they are most needed. Rebecca Winter's life has taken a nose dive from being a well off and famous photographer to a has been with no money in her bank account and the bills keep piling up.
Rebecca decides to rent out her New York City apartment and rent a cottage in the middle of the woods which is not beautiful by any means but its location outside a small town changes her life.
This small town has its share of quirky character's. MO MO the clown, Tad, the owner of the tea room, Sarah, and the roofer Jim Bates become her friends. Each one of these characters become entertwined with Rebecca's second chance and magic happens to them along with lonely stray dog who comes to stay.
Rebecca takes the dog and goes for long walks in the woods every day. And every day she comes upon something that she wants to photograph. Soon she is as ever driven as that photographer she once was in New York, but different. People are as taken by her new photographs as they once were with her collections. But she is not taking these photos for the money or for her fans. She is taking them for herself. However, here again, magic happens.
And it isn't often that you get to read a novel with the protagonist in her 60s. Younger people always think that they will have life figured out by the time they reach this age. This novel shows that women at that age are still struggling to be what and who they want to be.
Though I am a huge Quindlen fan I didn't expect to enjoy this particular book of hers. I loved her One True Thing and this one couldn't be any more different from that one if she had planned it that way. But surprisingly I found myself really enjoying this read for what it was.

330wookiebender
Out 7, 2014, 10:49 pm

I picked up the first episode of the recent adaptation of Outlander (I'm a little worried I might fall into the "hate it" camp, so thought one episode was cheaper and faster than a chunky book) and I did rather enjoy it. Tempted by the book now...

331Helenliz
Out 8, 2014, 1:32 am

I'm not sure the Outlander surmise grabs me. I think it's the time travel that puts me off. I'm a bit literal, and my imagination doesn't stretch very far. Is there a rational explanation as to what and why? Or do you just have to accept it (I'm not always very good at the latter).

332jfetting
Out 8, 2014, 9:05 am

I'm finally catching up on months of threads! Its slow going when you all read so many interesting books.

I completely agree with you about Alice Walker. Every book I have read of hers blew me away. She is indeed a gift.

I'm re-reading the Outlander series too! I've made it through book 5 (The Fiery Cross) and am now gearing up to start the sixth one which isn't a re-read for me. They're so long, but so entertaining.

I read Thornyhold back when I was a kid and I loved it but had forgotten all about it. Should re-read that.

I admire your WWI theme. I enthusiastically recommend A Soldier of the Great War. It is fantastic.

333rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 5:41 pm

My 2nd Orange for October:
143. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison; (3*)

This book, while good, did not meet my expectations but I am a romantic at heart and the story was thwarted at every love line in the book. Perhaps that is as the author meant it; that nothing is forever and that while we have it we should appreciate it even if it is the hope of love.
The story begins as the children of London are being evacuated to the countrysides about London prior to and during the blitz. Our main character Anna is one of these children and is removed to an estate called Ashton Park, a lovely estate with ponds, wooded areas and lots of greens for the children to run and play. The estate is owned by Thomas (whose legs are paralyzed from contracting polio) and Elizabeth Ashton. It is turned into a school with dormitories for the children. Once over their homesickness, the children come to love Ashton Park. The owners, teachers and staff are all very nice and accommodating.
As the story moves on our Anna becomes privy to some of the secrets of the house. One being the true relationship of the owners. This follows Anna throughout her life, affecting her own marriage and life. This is the part of the book that did not ring true for me.
Although we all pine for what may have been usually we get on with our lives. Anna seems to have gone through some of the motions but forever lived with that emptiness.
Like I said, I did enjoy the book. I would not have ended it as Ms. Allison did and I am very surprised that this book was short listed for the Orange Prize in 2010. I gave it 3 stars.

334wookiebender
Out 10, 2014, 6:52 pm

Sory for being unclear, but yes, I was talking about the tv series. I've seen the first two episodes and so far, so good. I'll keep an eye open for the book now, I think.

335rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 5:47 pm

144. Carrington: A Life by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina; (5*)

This is a beautiful biography on Dora Carrington. It is a wonderful study of a fascinating woman who lived on the cusp of the Bloomsbury Group; not quite within but not quite without. She was a painter and did mainly stills that are quite different but beautiful. She spent her adult life loving and in love with Lytton Strachey, who was a self professed homosexual. He loved her madly as well, but not romantically. And they continued those feelings right to the end.
She did marry but felt very coerced into it. And she had affairs; one of which was with another woman. But I don't believe that she was a lesbian. She just loved Strachey so much and couldn't have him romantically. They did share a house and it was quite an open house with other artists & Bloomsburies coming and going at all times.
If you like bios of artists of any kind and are not turned off by the homosexual aspect (which I was not), I think you would like/love this book.

336wookiebender
Out 27, 2014, 7:06 am

Hadn't heard anything along those lines, most of what I've heard has been positive, so I'd be surprised if it's gone so early. But I'm a bit out of touch with the world of tv since discovering LibraryThing. :)

337rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 7:03 pm

145. The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family by Juliet Barker; (3 1/2*)

I was a bit disappointed in this book as I was expecting more about the writing lives of Anne, Charlotte and Emily. However this very well researched and scholarly book deals more with the life of their father, Patrick, and the early childhood of his children.
Barker goes into great detail about Patrick's early life, his religious beliefs, where he was assigned as a pastor, what each church looked like, who said what to whom about his assignment etc. She did a lot of research to this reader's eye she used every bit of it. For me this culminated in an great amount of detail and much distracting information. Most of the book covers the years leading up to Patrick's marriage to the short lived Maria. Many of the quotes from letters and documents could have been left out. The book covers Patrick's marriage to Maria, the birth of their children, her death, and the girls' experience at Cowan Bridge school which led to the death of the two elder sisters, Maria and Elizabeth.
I was hoping for more insight into the adult lives and creative genius of the Bronte sisters. I was actually quite disappointed that the sisters' writing years were not covered by much detail.
The author argues successfully with several of the claims of Mrs. Gaskill's book on the Bronte sisters.
If you are interested in reading a very well detailed of the country pastor Patrick Bronte you will appreciate this book. If, however, you are seeking information on the lives of the three female Bronte authors, don't look here for you will not find it. I was disappointed for that which I sought was not here but I did appreciate how well researched this book was. I am thankful that I checked this one out from the library and did not purchase it as I was tempted to do.

338rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 6:14 pm

146. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon; (4*)

For some twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning to Inverness, Scotland with her grown daughter, Brianna, to the majestic mist shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal to her daughter a truth as unbelievable as the events which led up to it. In Gabaldon's first book, Outlander, we learned about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones near Inverness and about a love that transcends the boundaries of time. We learned about the young James Fraser, a Scottish warrior, whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his, the 1700s of Scotland
Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper haired daughter as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self discovery continues in the intrigue ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart (the Bonnie Prince Charlie) in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves along with the others of the clans.
Following on the heels of Outlander which introduced readers to Claire Randall and her journey through time Dragonfly in Amber returns us to the heroine 20 years after her fantastic voyage back through the stones from the 1700s Scotland to the Scotland of the 1960s.
I truly enjoy this series. It just kind of sweeps me away with the pages and allows me to forget my mundane world. And I appreciate the research which Diana Gabaldon has done in order that her books have a more realistic, though not perfect, background in history. I love all of the descriptions of the economic & agricultural times, the plant life with which Claire makes her healing potions & pastes, the way she takes things from that time and fashions implements of the time from which she came, the differences in weaponry, and I especially love how she grows her characters and how they pop in and out of the weave of her story lines.

339rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 6:05 pm

147. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James; (4*)

I certainly enjoyed this mildly spooky Victorian gothic tale. And I found that I quite like the writing style of Henry James.
The story is about an orphaned brother & sister taken in by an uncle or some such male relation. He is a very minor player withing the scheme of the book as he hires a governess/tutor to care for the children at his country manse. The one stipulation upon her hiring is that she not bother him with anything to do with the children.
When the governess arrives she finds that the male child is away at boarding school so she just has the girl child at first. She finds the little girl beautiful & angelic in every way. She is bright and quick to learn, has lovely manners, is obedient and the governess enjoys her very much.
But soon the little boy is returned to the home, having been quitted from the school never to return and the governess & housekeeper (who have become friends) are never to know specifically why. The child never speaks of it so all they can do is wonder. He has the same positive traits as his sister and in the beginning all is well and everyone appears to be happy. "Appears to be" are the key words here.
For we find that the owner of the manse & their employer had a houseman who has died and that the previous governess has died as well. There begin to appear apparitions of both of these persons: The governess to the little girl albeit the new governess can also see her and the houseman to the little boy with the governess able to see his apparition as well.
Thus begins the tug of war between the governess & the housekeeper against the two apparitions who want the children.
I thought this a very good though short novella & I can highly recommend it. It is my first Henry James and I found myself seeking out others of his work immediately upon finishing this one.

340rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 6:02 pm

148. East of the Mountains by David Guterson; (5*)

Like the author's Snow Falling on Cedars, I enjoyed this book tremendously. I have read many books in which I have become immersed and this is definitely one of them. It is not to be quickly forgotten. This story is so real and so profound that I became surrounded by the novel and found it interesting for many reasons. One of which is that I am from the state of Washington which is the locale of this tale. I found so many of the places in the book to be very familiar to me.
Ben Givens' past memories of the simple but hard life, however loved and valued by him, reminded me somewhat of my own. I found the war and his feelings and experiences of it horrifyingly graphic and real. His nonjudmental attitude of other people and his physical vulnerability was also very realistic. As a human being, this story depicts the soul that does not age even as our bodies do. The eternal questions about death and dying were achingly apparent in this story. For a young author to understand humanity in this way, that life is fragile but the human spirit inherently courageous, is refreshing.
David Guterson is a treat to read. His writing is simply beautiful. The story is so sad and contains all of the elements of life along with being realistic on the points of dying. His prose brings to the reader some wonderfully vivid mental pictures and the feel of apple country in the eastern part of Washington State. The horrors of the transient fruit pickers and the protagonist's illness I did find very distressing but necessary to the narrative and I felt more hopeful at the end of the book than at the beginning.
Guterson is one of my favorite authors & his works are only made more special because he comes from the Pacific Northwest as I do. This book is one that I will read more than the once.

341rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 6:10 pm

149. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III; (3 1/2*)

Before coming to America, Genob Sarhang Massoud Amir Behrani was a colonel in the Iranian Air Force. Forced to flee when the Shah fell, he escaped with his wife and two children and a couple hundred thousand dollars. Now resettled in the San Francisco area, but thus far unable to find work in the aerospace industry, Behrani works two full time jobs, on a road crew and as a convenience store clerk. This labor is necessary because the family's money is dwindling quickly, thanks to his wife's insistence on maintaining their old standard of living and the need to put on a sufficiently opulent facade to get his daughter safely married off--for instance, their apartment costs $3000 per month. Then one day, noticing an announcement of a tax auction in the newspaper, he decides to use their remaining savings to buy a house and then try to turn it around quickly for a profit.
Meanwhile, the house had previously belonged to Kathy Niccolo, a recovering alcoholic whose addict husband has run out on her. She works as an independent house cleaner, barely making ends meet and has ignored the county tax bill because it should not have been assessed against her house. But now she has been evicted and though Legal Aid lawyers help her to win a judgment from the county they can not make Behrani give up the house but only compensate her. She also receives help from Sheriff Lester Burdon, whose marriage has lost it's passion and the two become lovers. Together and separately they begin to take steps to force the Behranis out of their new home. This is when things get ugly.
The book is a page turner which enveloped me in such a cloud of dread that I just kept reading faster and faster because I couldn't stand the thought of what was to come.
Colonel Behrani is a perfect example of why anti-immigration policies are insane. He works very hard to provide a better life for his family and wants nothing from anyone except to be left alone to pursue the American Dream. He resembles a tragic hero whose stubborn pride and unshakable faith in his dreams collude to help destroy him.
Kathy on the other hand even setting aside her addiction problems has irresponsibly allowed legal events to get out of hand and now burns with a sense of false entitlement. Her benign approach to her job stands in stark contrast to Behrani's willingness to humble himself to take virtually any job. Her relationship with Lester results in his leaving a wife and two young children. His wife whose only failure is that Lester feels for her as he would towards a sister which is hardly a reason to destroy a family. And this step is merely Lester's first in a chain which becomes increasingly dubious. Eventually his behavior can only be defined as pathological.
Andre Dubus III is the son of one of the greatest of short story writers. As his father has passed on I find it heartening that he has picked up the reins.
I found this to be a very intense and taut tale.

342rainpebble
Editado: Nov 2, 2014, 6:16 pm

150. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin; (4*)

The entire first half of this book was slow for me. The couple move in, meet the neighbors, and try to have a baby. It also becomes immediately apparent that Rosemary is an idiot. Her refusal to see reason makes her scenes frustrating to read. The suspense is there and it comes in subtle drops along the way.
When Hutch begins to suspect Rosemary's neighbors of being more than what they claim, the plot speeds up considerably. I found myself reading what I thought would turn out to be a pretty good book by the time it was all over. However I did not find the conclusion to be well thought or I just didn't get it which was unsatisfying to this reader. Perhaps it was simply outdated for me. The subject matter and the midsection were so good that if the ending had been better handled and had Rosemary had some sense, I could have excused the slow start and jumped the rating up the rating but as it was; meh.

343judylou
Out 31, 2014, 2:10 am

So I go away for two months and it seems like it takes me forever to catch up on your reading! You have been reading some wonderful books too. If you liked The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, please, please read some of her others. I've read Instructions for a Heatwave, After You'd Gone and The Hand that First Held Mine as well and they are all great reads. I'm happy to see another fan of Colm Toibin too. I recently read Nora Webster and The Blackwater Lightship and have been so inspired by his writing that I will be finding my copy of Brooklyn as soon as I can.

My reading has slowed down a lot, but I'm hoping to get more inspiration from some of my favourite LT readers, such as yourself.

344rainpebble
Out 31, 2014, 2:32 am

>343 judylou::
You sweet thing you, Judy. Thank you.
I loved The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox & have her The Hand That First Held Mine on the TBR. Will check the library for the others you mention. Also will look for the other Toibins you spoke of.

345rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:18 pm

151. The Other by Thomas Tryon; (4*)

What a classically creepy book! This, the story of twins, Niles and Holland, fascinated me & horrified me. It had such an ominous atmosphere.
Despite the fact that it was written in 1971 it did not read that way for me. I did not find it to be too predictable but with Tryon's writing he foreshadowed events to come. The twins aspect was really creepy for me. I found that the plot, the characters & the atmosphere all stand out so much in this novel and I think that this book can hold it's own among today's psychological thrillers.
In this story the twins have a rapport which is very much similiar to telepathy, a phenomena which is common in the real world and easily understood by behavioral science. However that rapport also extends to the twin's aunt, the sister of their mother who is from the old country and teaches the boys a game. An innocent game, a fun game, a game that certainly can't warp the minds of children in to committing wrongful acts? Or not............
There is a mild vein of the supernatural which rises and sinks into and out of focus throughout the novel such as the act of becoming other things (plants, animals) through acts which go beyond mere hypnopompic or hypnagogic hallucinations, and becoming becomes a game so strong that the twins and their aunt manage to extent the reach of their hallucinations to outside of the human mind which is important to recognize when one reaches the stunning ending acts of the drama.
Tryon made considerable effort to use foreshadowing and symbology throughout the book. There is the significance of the green clover which is the family's flower. There is the significance of that patch of clover outside the mother's window which she longs to embrace if only she could summon the strength to overcome her fears and step outside her bedroom. Then there is the root beer............
Yup, I found this one definitely worth the time I spent on it.

346rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:21 pm

152. Christine by Stephen King; (3*)

Ever wondered about those guys who say: "I love my car", and look like they really mean it? Have you ever sympathized with wives and girlfriends who had a pained expression on their face as they complained: "He loves that car more than me"?
Christine is a 1958 Plymouth Fury, as red as the blood spilt during every term of ownership, in one of author Stephen King's best horror stories about man's abiding passion for cars, the need for speed, a greedy jealous love, and an obsession that turns into possession.
Arnie Cunningham is a lonely dork, bullied and rejected at school because of his looks and demeanor, in a plot thread reminiscent of King's earlier book, Carrie, with the tormented being pushed to breaking point and taking bloody revenge on their tormentors. In Christine, the bullies are rebel Buddy Repperton and his gang, who torture weaker kids whenever they get the chance. Arnie's only friend is football playing jock, Dennis Guilder, who narrates the story as a witness to the unfolding horror and ensuing tragedy. Arnie's talent and passion is for auto-mechanics and he yearns for his own set of wheels. When he sees Christine, rusting and rotting away, in caustic old timer Roland D. Lebay's driveway, it's love at first sight.
Unknown to Arnie, Christine is possessed by a malign evil force that at first seduces and then destroys every owner.
Arnie's attitude changes with his taste in clothes. His mood becomes darker and belligerent as he fixes up Christine, wins the most lusted-after girl in school, Leigh Cabot, and then alienates both his parents and Dennis.
For a while, Christine becomes the only good thing in Arnie's life. She makes him feel invincible. But, like some bad people in society; the narcissistic, the sociopathic, those with no conscience who use, discard when there's nothing left, then move on to the next victim, Christine is spiteful, seductively evil and relentless in her quest to take her owners on a fast ride straight to hell.
Like Arnie points out: the thing about love ... it eats ... it has a voracious, all-consuming appetite, leaving no room for anything or anyone else.
How far will you go for your love?
When you look at that prized possession in your life, that which Stephen King might have referred to in another of his stories as a "needful thing", ask yourself a question: do you own it, or does it own you?
Creeeeeeepy!~!

347rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:23 pm

153. The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin; (4*)

Ira Levin's mid-70's thriller about a Nazi plan to repopulate the world through cloning and assassination certainly keeps the reader's interest. The story is well-paced and the thought of such a plan is chilling. It begins with Josef Mengele and 'the boys from brazil' planning the 4th Reich. At the time the book was written the concept seemed to be science fiction but yet terrifying in the 'what if' category.
But by today's standards the concept is almost a cliche. At the time it was a thoroughly provocative concept. And Levin does a good job backing it up with the genetics vs. the environment debate which probably was not as self-evident then as it seems today. I will also say that Levin's choice of protagonist is refreshing compared to the heroes that end up in our chillers & thrillers today. I found the ending to of interest and quite humorous in political terms.
The book held my interest. It was not boring in the least. I found it easy to read and quite suspenseful.

348rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:26 pm

154. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie; (4*)

In this classic mystery, Christie is at her finest. The tale is taut, compelling and absorbing. Ten people are brought to an island under rather odd circumstances. They're welcomed in the absence of owner, U.K. Owen, and after their shock at the playing of an audio recording accusing each of them of murder, one of them dies. Then another. Then another. The remaining survivors do their best to defend themselves and identify the person killing them by addressing the issue of whether it's one of them or someone hidden on the island.
The rapid fire beginning introduction of characters is supplemented well by their words and actions on the island so they become clear. The clues are there but this reader found them subtle enough to miss sometimes and only obvious in the retrospect of the ending revelations. It is different than the modern mysteries I enjoy but is simply shines as the epitome of the mystery genre. Yes, I found it a bit unnerving, but it is amazingly well constructed. A complete pleasure to read and this one works as well today as when it was written and proves beyond a doubt that Christie was and is the mistress of mystery.

349rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:30 pm

155. Night Tales II: Nightshade & Night Smoke by Nora Roberts; (3*)

Some of Nora Roberts' early works, The Night Tales are hard to find. You can find them in secondhand bookshhops sometimes but for very high prices. Here you have all four tales in one volume: Night Shift, Night Shadow, Nightshade and Night Smoke. They are some of the best of her early works and it's great to get them all under one cover.

Night Shift has Detective Boyd Fletcher assigned to protect Cilla O'Roarke. She is a nighttime talk D J at a local Denver radio station whose life has been threatened. Cilla is a tough cookie but even she knows she needs Boyd's help. While being her bodyguard, Boyd falls for her which jeopardizes his objectivity. He needs to catch the psycho. But he cannot deny the attraction.

Night Shadow is Cilla's sister's story. Deborah O'Roarke is an assistant D.A. and she gets into danger because of the case she's involved in. Gage and his alter ego Nemisis see it as their duty to protect the gutsy D.A. The fantasy element in this is outstanding and I loved the strong leads.

Nightshade is the story of Boyd's ex-partner Althea Grayson. (we met her as she helped Boyd protect Cilla in Night Shift) She is an early Eve Dallas, a very independent lass who is a by-the-book cop. Sexy Colt Nightshade is a Private Dick who disdains rules unless he makes them up. They are both strong willed detectives with their own methods and naturally they clash; on the streets and in bed as they are forced to work together to stalk a killer.

Night Smoke sees Natalie Fletcher, Boyd's sister, clash with an arson investigator, Ryan Piasecki. When several of the buildings Natalie owns go up in smoke she and Ryan clash. But soon they are proving where there is smoke, there is fire.

These were just a fun series of lightweight stories and I simply enjoyed them for what they are.

350rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:34 pm

156. Mistresses of the Dark by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz; (4 1.2*)

This is gothic horror at it's best from the likes of Margaret Atwood, A.S.Byatt, Angela Carter, Daphne du Maurier, Louise Erdich, Mavis Gallant, Nadine Gordimer, Patricia Highsmith, A.M. Homes, Shirley Jackson, Jamaica Kincaid, Madeleine L'Engle,
Ursula K. le Guin, Doris Lessing, Alison Lurie, Valerie Martin,
Edna O'Brien, Flannery O'Connor, Joyce Carol Oates,
Ruth Rendell, Jean Rhys, Susan Sontag, Muriel Spark,
Fay Weldon, and last but definitely not least Eudora Welty.

These are tales of the macabre. And not just any tales but wonderfully structured, filled with beautiful descriptive prose and with characters that the reader can relate with even if they do not wish to.

"His wedding gift, clasped round my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinary precious slit throat."

That is just one of the passages that the reader will find in this anthology of tales which has the ability to spellbind one.
I hope that there are more out there like this one for I found it quite wonderful and wonderfully creepy.

351rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:37 pm

157. 50 Great Ghost Stories by John Canning; (4*)

50 Great Ghost Stories by John Canning in a compilation which explores a number of legends and accounts involving ghosts and other supernatural and paranormal phenomena.
Much of what is written seems indeed to be taken from eyewitness accounts and carefully recorded historical documentation, and does indeed put forward the case that ghosts do exist.
The stories are mainly set in Britain but also involve accounts of ghosts in Egypt, India, China, Germany, France, Iceland, the United States, Canada and Australia.
These stories are rich in history, and we can learn a lot from them, as well as being entertained.
We read about the hauntings and mysterious deaths of those involved in unearthing Tutenkhamen's tomb, and other Ancient Egyptian burial sites; the accounts of the ghosts of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, executed on the orders of the brutal Henry VIII;The White Lady of Berlin; the tragic tales of the ghosts of children who met tragic and untimely ends, which excite pity as well as frightening people; the very different nature of ghosts in China, which are often indistinguishable from the living, and are frequently beautiful maidens who return from the other world, not to frighten man, but to play with him, tease him, make love to him, or help him in his tasks; and ghosts in India, spirits of those cruelly murdered during the 1957 Sepoy Rebellion, as well as the malignant demons known as the ayah.
These tales are both intricate and entertaining, and while all are eery and haunting, the circumstances, times and places vary as to the natures of the ghosts, who can be beautiful or hideous, playful, melancholy, spiteful, vicious and frigthening or simply fulfilling a quest unfulfilled in life.
Many are the ghosts of young people, whose lives have been cruelly cut short. Often these ghosts in these stories resent the living and set out to terrify them, sometimes even ending the lives of their victims.
Many of the stories in this volume involve such ghosts, and often their victims die, or flee the haunted abodes.
In short they will excite a large variation of feelings and emotions in the reader.
In reading these stories , we also learn much of the customs and life of the people during the times examined. For example the cruel punishment for nuns who fell in love or lost their chastity, of being left to die of hunger and thirst, in an enclosed walled up space.
Many of these accounts are taken from the archives of The Society of Psychical Research. Other records were destroyed during the 1940 German Blitz of Britain.
What the readers gets is both gripping and entertaining, if a haunting and eery set of narratives.

352rainpebble
Nov 2, 2014, 6:42 pm

158. Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; (5*)

And finally we come to what may have been my favorite read of the month.

Uncle Silas is both J. Sheridan Le Fanu's greatest novel and also his most celebrated and widely known which is a rare combination. It is a thorough reworking of the Radcliffean mode and of the Female Gothic in general, but it is also something entirely fresh, at least for a novel published in 1864, concerning as it does elements as diverse as Swedenborgian mysticism, Collins-esque sensationalism, and .. a rarity for its time and genre the first person retrospective narration of a young female protagonist. A classic work of 19th century Gothic, it is also generally considered one of the first examples of the 'locked room mystery' and it contains many motifs that have now become common stock of detective fiction and of the mystery genre in general.

Written with the kind of lush and yet curiously straight forward prose that characterizes all of Le Fanu's fiction Uncle Silas concerns for the most part three extremely well written characters. The first, its titular hero/villain is an impressive revision of the Byronic hero in all its complexity of characterization and is one of the most successful of these 'stock types' in all of Gothic literature; the second our narrator Maud Ruthyn is fleshed out to a degree that is much more three dimensional than the typical 'Emily St Aubert' of most of these kinds of fictions; and the third and perhaps most remarkable of Uncle Silas's cast, is the insidious, revolting and utterly outrageous Madame de la Rougierre who is worth the price in and of herself. With these characters Le Fanu takes the familiar mechanisms of the gothic novel and twists and turns them about into fabulously crisp and colorful new shapes that are as enjoyable and darkly fascinating today as they were to Victorian audiences one hundred and fifty years ago.

The plot itself concerns the isolation of our young protagonist at the decaying rural estate of her rumour haunted Uncle Silas after the death of her father. She may or may not be the target of a plot that is still capable of chilling the blood. Silas whose decades old association with a ghastly crime which he may or may not have committed and which continues to plague him has been entrusted with Maud's guardianship. It becomes apparent however that this circumstance contains more of self interest than devotion to his late brother. Madame de la Rougierre whose early appearance in the novel is interrupted by the shift in action from Maud's ancestral home to Silas's Bartram Haugh reappears as the novel begins to plunge towards its shockingly violent climax and brings with her a final word on the mysteries of Uncle Silas and its brilliant compelling expansion of Mrs. Radcliffe's tropes. I won't reveal much more in the way of story but
Le Fanu is successful in that many times we can see exactly where Uncle Silas is heading and yet we are still surprised with exactly where we have wound up.

Of all the foundational works of the gothic, Uncle Silas remains one of the most accessible for modern audiences and one of the most intriguing. One can see its influence on everything from The Turn of the Screw to Rebecca and it is perhaps fitting that Le Fanu's greatest novel is a variation on a theme and on an entire genre and has itself been reimagined and reworked by modern practitioners of the Gothic tale to this very day
I loved this gothic mystery/horror novel.

353rainpebble
Editado: Nov 14, 2014, 2:23 am



MY OCTOBER READS:
139. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams; Library; R/L bookclub; (2 1/2*); memoir
140. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; ROOT & BFB, 896 pages; (5+*)
141. Artemis Begins by Eoin Colfer; (3*)
____________________________________________________________
My Orange/Bailey's of the month:
142. Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen; L/L, 2014; (4*)
143. The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison; S/L, 2010; (3*)
____________________________________________________________
144. Carrington: A Life by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina; (5*)
145. The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family by Juliet Barker;
146. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon; (4*)
____________________________________________________________
For the October Horror RaT:

147. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James; (4*)
148. East of the Mountains by David Guterson; (5*)
149. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III; (3 1/2*)
150. Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin; (4*)
151. The Other by Thomas Tryon; (4*)
152. Christine by Stephen King; (3*)
153. The Boys from Brazil by Ira Levin; (4*)
154. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie; (4*)
155. Night Tales II: Nightshade & Night Smoke by Nora Roberts; (3*)
156. Mistresses of the Dark by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz; (4 1.2*)
157. 50 Great Ghost Stories by John Canning; (4*)
158. Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu; (5*)

WRAPPING UP OCTOBER

354rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:49 pm



MY NOVEMBER READS:

My Orange for the month:
159. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; Orange Prize Winner, 2002; (4*)
____________________________________________________________
160. Moonraker by F. Tennyson Jesse; VMC; (4*)
161. The Knight of Cheerful Countenance by Molly Keane; VMC; (5*)
162. Liza's England by Pat Barker; VMC; (4 1/2*)
163. Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeod; R/L bookclub; (3*)
164. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; VMC; Great War Theme Read; (5*)
165. Regeneration by Pat Barker; Great War Theme Read; (4*)
166. Lila by Marilynne Robinson; (5*)
167. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson; library; (2 1/2*)
168. The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker; Great War Theme Read;
(1 1/2*)
169. The Grain of Truth by Nina Bawden; VMC; (2 1/2*)
170. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles; VMC; 3 1/2*)

355laytonwoman3rd
Nov 4, 2014, 5:00 pm

The Other is a great read, isn't it? One of my all-time favorite creepy stories. I read it first back when it was published, and again in the last couple years; I was very pleased to find it still worked well.

356rainpebble
Editado: Nov 21, 2014, 12:56 pm

159. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett; (4*)

A novel of love, intrigue, an attempted coup, a massive taking of hostages by terrorists who planned to kidnap the President of this South American country at this event but he did not attend. So they took all of the guests hostage.
The book is beautifully written, the characters are grown well, the story is good; all things that make a good book possibly great.
There are important people at this party. One of them a premier Opera Soprano. As time goes by she begins singing for the group of hostages and terrorists daily. Things change the longer the hostages are held. They lose much of their fear and animosity toward the terrorists. The terrorists relax in their vigil but no one attempts to escape. There is much interaction between the hostages and the terrorists. And when the end comes, as it must, the hostages are overcome by the carnage and weep for their kidnappers.
It does end on a surprising high note which left me with raised eyebrows but this is a very good book and deserving of the Orange Prize. I rated it 4 stars and highly recommend it.

357rainpebble
Editado: Nov 6, 2014, 6:20 pm

160. Moonraker by F. Tennyson Jesse; VMC; (4*)

This is a wonderful yarn about a young lad, Jacky, who comes from a seafaring family. One particularly bad day for him he decided to hire himself on a merchant ship. And so begins the very interesting tale of our Jacky.
He enjoyed working on the ship and liked the crew who treated him decently. But one day they are come upon by a pirate ship and no matter how the captain tried to shake it he was unable. The pirate ship fired upon and boarded them. Some of the sailors were killed, some were, as was Jacky, taken onto the Mookraker, the pirate ship and others were left to go down with the ship as it began to sink soon upon the completion of the looting.
Now the tale really begins. The pirate ship's Captain Lovel desired our Jacky to be his cabin boy and Jacky was right happy to accommodate him. He was particularly happy that one of the sailors from his previous ship was on this ship with him. The sailor named Raul was one that Jacky looked up to. Raul was a supporter of Mounseer Toussaint I'Ouverture (he was not a fictional character) who was the Governor-General of San Domingo who wanted very badly to stop the warring, fighting and hatred on the Isle which was later to become Haiti. Raul and the Captain had many talks about this and the Captain was finally convinced to leave off his pirating long enough to sail to San Domingo to enable Raul to find Toussaint and warn him of the impending doom to be brought about by the French.
I really enjoyed Moonraker and it was nice to return to the writing of
F. Tennyson Jesse. I highly recommend this work. I only wish it had been longer.
____________________________________________________________
In an aside:


Toussaint L'Ouverture Biography
Military Leader (c. 1743–1803)

Name: Toussaint L'Ouverture

Occupation: Military Leader

Birth Date: c. 1743

Death Date: April 7, 1803

Place of Birth: Breda, Haiti

Place of Death: Fort-de-Joux, France

AKA: Toussaint L'Ouverture
Full Name: François Dominique Toussaint

Toussaint L'Ouverture was a leader of the Haitian independence movement during the French Revolution.
IN THESE GROUPS

Famous Catholics
Famous Government
Famous Movement
Famous People Born in Breda

Toussaint L'Ouverture was the son of an educated slave, and in a sudden slave revolt (August 1791), he discerned the ineptitude of the rebel leaders and scorned their willingness to compromise with European radicals. Collecting an army of his own, L'Ouverture trained his followers in the tactics of guerrilla warfare, and by 1795, he was widely renowned for ending slavery on the island.

358rainpebble
Editado: Nov 14, 2014, 4:30 pm

161. The Knight of Cheerful Countenance by Molly Keane; VMC; (5*)

I found this book to be a delightful read what with all of the dogs, horses, rollicking and frolicking friends coming and going along with some very youthful romantic interests. It quite took me back to my teen & early twenties years. Not that I rode to hounds, mind you, but just the temper of the story and the attitudes of the youth. I loved this one so very much!
I can't imagine having written a book at the age of seventeen. And yet Molly Keane was just seventeen when she wrote this book. Amazingly I find that I can still enjoy it at the ripe old age of sixty seven. The storyline sucked me right in and I read it straight through, not wanting it to end. The world which Keane wrote about is now long gone. But the reader doesn't feel that loss while reading this work.
For the youth in this story, being young, having a good time enjoying life, the horses, dogs and friendships were what mattered. They did not yet know the difficulties of life and what it can bring.
Keane's story is simply this: One Allan Hillingdon has come to Ireland from India, traveling through England. Although his relatives in England liked him he isn't quite rich enough and they feared one of the young ladies of the family would fall for him. Much better to send him off to his Irish relation. He arrives at Bungarvin to visit with his cousin Major Hillngdon who has two beautiful daughters and a few younger sons.
But it is the daughters Allan is drawn to. Ann Hillingdon, beautiful yet practical, is a good judge of horses and an excellent horsewoman. Allan instantly falls for her when she meets him at the station. However it is Captain Dennys Saint Lawrence who owns Ann's heart. Dennys is the Master of Hounds and he and Ann have been good friends for some time. Unfortunately Ann's father doesn't approve and isn't likely to agree to a marriage between Ann and someone of a slightly lower station in life. Dennys may be respected for his savvy with horses and dogs but his father is an unscrupulous horse dealer who manages to throw doubt on Dennys' integrity. Because of questionable doings Ann finds herself in turmoil, uncertain how she should feel about what she's heard about Dennys.
To complicate matters Ann's younger sister Sybil is instantly as smitten with Allan as Allan is with Ann. Ann may be beautiful in a classical manner but Sybil's beauty is something more. She exudes charm. It's obvious from Allan's demeanor how he feels about Ann but that doesn't stop Sybil from using her wiles to attract him. Events will conspire against the lovers from pairing up properly. Of course the story is about how the relationships are worked out and it's all set against a backdrop of the late 1920s Irish country high society.
Along with the sportier scenes there are also tennis parties, dances and life in general in a grand old country house.
This story is quite the frolic and I loved it for what it was. I definitely need to dig into the remainder of my Keane books for I found something here that I've not come across for a very long time.

359rainpebble
Editado: Nov 13, 2014, 4:21 pm

162. Liza's England by Pat Barker; VMC; (4 1/2*)

This should have been a downer book but it was not.
It's the story of a social worker, Stephen, who works with young downtrodden adults who do not want to be helped. They simply want to be left alone to go about their nasty little trouble making ways.
The physical locale is what we would have once called the projects area of town. All of the houses are being torn down to make way for 'improvements'. One elderly bed-ridden lady, our Liza, will not be moved. She is the only hold out on her street. The other homes are all boarded up or trashed and many of them have squatters. Our young social worker is given the job of encouraging Liza to go to one of the 'homes' that is for the purpose of giving the displaced persons a place to live.
Liza has a parrot which is great fun as he was 'raised' by sailors aboard a ship and when the Captain was dying he asked Liza if she would take him! Eventually our social worker, Stephen, ends up with Nelson, the parrot.
He and Liza, throughout their visits, become close friends and he quickly sees beyond the poverty and filth of her home to what Liza really is & comes to respect and even love her. Much of this book is the story of Liza's life . . . a very difficult but full life.
I found this to be fascinating reading. Her memories are very full of her life & those who surrounded her. We get in on bits and pieces of Stephen's work life and his private life but the book is truly about Liza.
This was my first work by the author Pat Barker and I highly recommend it and her. I liked her writing very much.

360rainpebble
Editado: Nov 13, 2014, 4:04 pm

163. Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. MacLeod; R/L bookclub; (3*)

While reading this it came to me that there is no right nor wrong way to write a memoir. Some writers of memoirs tell their story in picturesque ways. Some tell theirs very matter of fact. We see their life in the prose they use, in the detail of their writing, in their descriptions of the people, the homes, their work, the history surrounding their story and in the manner they describe the locale or locales.
In this non-sentimental memoir the author tells of a time in the 1970s when she, her husband, and their two youngest children (the older two being off at University) came to live on an island in Scotland's Hebrides Isles. They wanted to get away from the busy, busy lives of living in London and had holidayed here and wanted to live a slower life albeit a more difficult one.
The day they arrived they found a croft (farm) with a house, though dilapidated, that was approved for them to buy. They decided to take a chance and made the purchase. They lived in a 'caravan' or camp trailer until the renovations were complete and then moved into their croft house.
MacLeod, who is a nurse, took a job assisting the island doctor as a traveling nurse. Her husband did odd jobs both on and off the Island.
The format of her memoir is similar to that of a chapter book in that the author writes a few pages about working with a particular patient and the next bit is about a different patient. But she doesn't just write about the patients. She writes of the countryside, how they came to be there, her family and their life whilst there.........
I found it very interesting. It is not literature by any means but it definitely held my interest while reading it and it is a quick read. I found all of the characters realistic and believable and as I love all books about Scotland and the Scots, I found this one also quite to my taste.

361laytonwoman3rd
Nov 9, 2014, 9:55 pm

>360 rainpebble: I have that on my tbr pile, and will be reading it fairly soon. It's been making the rounds of our family..

362rainpebble
Editado: Nov 23, 2014, 2:21 pm

It's good Linda. No depth to it but interesting and has some very funny parts along with some very heartrending bits. I think you will enjoy it. I did. When my sisters were still living we would round robin books between the three of us & our mother and then after all four of us had read the book we would have a nice old fashioned coffee klatch & discuss/argue about the book. (ya know how sisters are) Tons of fun and great memories were made.

363rainpebble
Nov 14, 2014, 3:14 pm

164. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West; (5*)

The Return of the Soldier is the first WW I novel to be written by a woman and it is written in lovely prose.
Chris Baldry, a wealthy soldier, returns from the front suffering from amnesia and having forgotten the past fifteen years of his life. He has forgotten his marriage to Kitty along with the birth and subsequent death of their son, Oliver. He believes himself to be yet romantically involved with the daughter of an innkeeper, Margaret, who is now married to William Grey.
Jenny, our narrator, is Chris's unmarried cousin and childhood playmate who now lives with Chris and Kitty. It appears that she feels romantically inclined toward Chris. Chris asks to see Margaret and Kitty agrees that would be the best thing as Margaret is who he remembers being close to. Margaret whose love for Chris coexists with her tenderness toward her husband, then begins to visit Baldry Court regularly to spend time with the amnesiac.
The novel traces the reactions of Jenny and Kitty to Chris's forgetting them and to his undiminished love for Margaret. They grieve, they are filled with anger, but Jenny cultivates a bond with Margaret in order to rekindle her relationship with Chris. They call in doctors to attempt to cure him. Finally a Dr. Anderson arrives. He talks to Kitty and Margaret and learns of the death of Chris and Kitty's son. Margaret suggests that giving Chris some objects loved by his son might shock Chris back to his memory of the last fifteen years. This proposal is put forward. Margaret goes to Chris on the grounds of Baldry Court with the child's ball and jersey. Kitty and Jenny wait watching from the window as Margaret sacrifices her own happiness and Chris' in order to bring him back to a sane and current reality.
In spite of portraying this cure as a sacrifice of Chris and Margaret's happiness and at a risk to Chris's life, for he will now have to return to the front, the doctor moves ahead with what he sees as a possible cure for the young soldier. Chris is repeatedly described as ill, a term which helps make curing him seem the only sensible thing to do.
I find this to be a wonderful book. It is written beautifully and I highly recommend it.

364rainpebble
Editado: Nov 14, 2014, 5:09 pm

165. Regeneration by Pat Barker; GREAT WAR THEME READ; (4*)

When I had finished Regeneration last night I put the book down and simply lay my head down and wept. The characters of this novel (?) had gone through the horrors of the Great War only to be sent to the Craiglockhart War Hospital to endure more horrors.
Some of the characters are fictional but a great deal of them were real soldiers, journalists, poets and doctors who had gone for a soldier and been returned with terrible cases of what we now know as PTSD.
The novel opens with an anti-war declaration written by Siegfried Sassoon, a new patient at the hospital. He is angry with the government because he believes that there is no point to the war. Dr. William Rivers' job is to make patients like Sassoon fit to return to the fighting in France or even at the War Department with a desk job but the mental conditions of some of the men makes him question the war's motives just as Sassoon does.
I found Dr. Rivers' character to be an especially interesting one and my favorite part of the book was probably reading about all of the changes he went through. The book is about Seigfried Sassoon but you can observe monumental changes in Dr. Rivers. As he tries to rehabilitate his patients, he learns things from them and through them and in turn this changes him.
Pat Barker brought up the subject of bonds between men during the war and all the men that realized that war wasn't necessarily a manly experience. They ended up gaining more feminine qualities, nurturing and taking care of each other, and other psychological effects of the war that you wouldn't normally think about but this book forces the reader to do just that.
Regeneration is a book that will stay in the reader's mind for a long time after one has finished it. It is beautiful yet harrowing; the writing is superb, the use of narrative and dialogue is excellent and the characters are attractive and repulsive at the same time. The story is haunting and even more so because it is based on true events.
I wonder if anyone really learns from the past? I guess history will always repeat itself. War is horrific and this book leaves the reader with much to ponder.
I highly recommend this book and will be reading the other two books of the trilogy.

365laytonwoman3rd
Nov 17, 2014, 8:09 am

>363 rainpebble: I found The Return of the Soldier very moving, Belva. I promised myself I'd read more of West's work, and so far I haven't....thanks for the reminder.

366mabith
Nov 17, 2014, 2:14 pm

I enjoyed the book after Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, even more in some ways (though it's harder to tell since I read them a few years apart). Barker is just brilliant.

367rainpebble
Editado: Nov 17, 2014, 5:48 pm

>365 laytonwoman3rd::
I found The Return of the Soldier to be quite moving as well. And I thought that for such a small book, the character development was smashingly spot on. Back at some point in time I began reading West's The Saga of the Century Trilogy: The Fountain Overflows, This Real Night, and Cousin Rosamund. And though I really enjoyed the first two, for some reason I didn't make it around to the third. I need to reread them including Cousin Rosamund.
I really enjoy West's writing.

>366 mabith::
There you are, my wee pumpkin. I hope you have been well Meridith.
I agree with you about Pat Barker being a brilliant writer. I just recently finished her Liza's England which is quite different and rather a soul searching novel. Not so much of the reader's soul but rather that of the two major characters in the book. Have you read that one yet?
I should be beginning The Eye in the Door very soon. I am reading this trilogy for The Great War Theme Read over on the Virago site. The third of the trilogy, The Ghost Road, (the very title of this one gives me chills) is my Orange book for November so I really must get right on the second of the three.

Later, ladies.

368mabith
Nov 17, 2014, 8:49 pm

I haven't read Liza's England, but it sounds quite good. I'd really like to read one of her novels focused on women, but only her Men! War! Men! War! books are at my local library. I'll buy them eventually, but probably not this year unless I find them at a used bookstore (there are none in my city, unfortunately). I'll be very interested to see what stands out about the trilogy when read in a relatively short space of time (I also loved the movie based on Regeneration, Between the Lines).

369rainpebble
Editado: Nov 20, 2014, 9:19 pm

166. Lila by Marilynne Robinson; (5+*)

We made a 2 hour road trip to Yakima Friday for our High School Girl's Vollyball State B Tournament. The grandsons went with us. If fact the 17 year old drove us there. At any rate, I realized I had left my Kindle at home with Lila on it. I was sad about that & was playing with my I-phone. And lo and behold what did I come across but a free Kindle Ap. So I hooked it up thinking just perhaps and YES!~! My books came right over. So there I was all cozied up in the back seat of the truck with my headphones on (so I needn't be disturbed; they would think I was listening to music) reading my Lila. And as my phone is backlit, which my Kindle is not, I was able to read it even coming home at 3:00 A.M. as well. Now to my review:

Marilynne Robinson, I consider to be in a class all her own. There is no one out there today who writes quite like her.

My first Robinson was Gilead followed by Housekeeping and then Home. I have loved each of them. Gilead is a love-letter from an elderly preacher father, John Ames, to his 7 year old son and there is much in the book about his preacher friend, Robert Boughton.

When I moved along to the second of the Gilead Trilogy, Home, I was surprised to find that the Reverend Ames was not the main character but his dear friend, the Reverend Robert Boughton was. Boughton's 38 year old spinster daughter, Glory, has come home to take care of her aged and failing father. So I thought Boughton had gone 'to glory'. (pun intended)

Now I have come to Lila and find that both the Reverends Ames and Boughton are still alive and kicking. But this book is definitely focused on the Ames family though Boughton appears now and then and is lovely as a back burner character.
Lila is the story of a child taken from her 'home', by a drifter named Doll. She was treated more poorly that a cur. One day Doll just picked Lila up, wrapped her in a shawl and they took to the road to meet others like themselves. Homeless and always looking for transient work and meals, Lila was very well cared for by Doll though they had nothing in the way of a roof over their heads nor any possessions.
With Lila and Doll, Marilynne Robinson has come full circle back to Gilead, the fictional but memorable setting of her earlier books Gilead and Home. Lila continues the story of Reverend John Ames, his neighbors, and how Lila's story is interwoven with theirs.
Now pushing well into his seventies Ames finds himself in awe that love has come to him again. (His young wife and baby lay out in the family graveyard.)
The heart of this story is how John's life is so totally changed when one Sunday morning Lila walks into his church. In the sunset years of his life Lila has changed everything.......for him much sooner than for herself.
Lila keeps much to herself and trust does not come easily to her. She was raised up thusly by Doll. Robinson shows us a life of deprivation and hardship as she narrates the story of Lila and Doll. Lila is a story of shame, denial and redemption. It is a story that explores important social mores and is a stunning and beautifully told story that will break your heart and at the same time give you a hope for mankind.
I very highly recommend Lila for all readers. I am in love with this book and it's characters.


370jfetting
Nov 19, 2014, 8:51 am

Yay I'm so glad it lives up to her other works! I think she is absolutely amazing too and cannot wait to get started on Lila.

371rainpebble
Editado: Nov 23, 2014, 2:24 pm

Agreed Doc and I think you will love this one.
And Jennifer, don't let the naysayers trouble you with the fact that the book bounces back & forth in time & in storyline. I didn't find it distracting in the least. Love, love, love this books. I purchased it for my Kindle because it was faster & less expensive. But it is on my Christmas list.

372rainpebble
Editado: Nov 26, 2014, 3:37 am

167. Case Histories by Kate Atkinson; (2 1/2*)

I am afraid that this story did not work well for me. I was so interested in the initial 'case history' but lost interest after a bit. Initially I did not even complete the book. But it remained in my head for days and I kept thinking that I must have missed something. So I went back to it and sure enough, I had missed something. The fact that all of these 'case histories' were all tied together in one way or another was the bit that I simply had not 'got'.
The story of Olivia being taken at age 3 from her yard by someone/something certainly drew me in. But the other cases got in the way of this storyline for me until I went back to it for a second red. And I was unable to wrap my head around Brody, the investigator on the case some years later. I wish the story had been told in a straight ahead manner and then I think I could have cared.
I think Atkinson a very fine writer but her style with this book turned me rather cold on it.
In the end I did end up enjoying the book but not the manner in which it was written. Normally a book that bounces back and forth in the lives of the characters nor one where the main characters change for periods of time do not trouble me. With Case Histories, these things did bother me.
So I am glad that I returned to the book and completed it but will I go on with the series? Probably not.

373rainpebble
Nov 23, 2014, 2:34 pm

168. The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker; Great War Theme Read; (1 1/2*)

I read but did not care for this one. So I think I will wait a bit before reading The Ghost Road, the final book of the trilogy.

I think I am very much in need of some lighter reading.

374laytonwoman3rd
Nov 25, 2014, 9:36 am

I haven't heard one negative word about Lila from anyone who already loved Marilynne Robinson's work. It's waiting for me on my shelf, and I will definitely read it in December.

375mabith
Nov 25, 2014, 9:38 am

Oh goodness, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy The Eye in the Door! I enjoyed seeing the patients out in the real world, where they couldn't be so protected, and the further discussion of how pacifists were treated. I find many, maybe most, of the characters unlikeable, more so in this book, but the quality of the writing and interest in the time period make it so that doesn't matter much for me.

376bell7
Nov 25, 2014, 6:35 pm

Hiya Belva, I've been following along but I don't think I've managed to post on your thread at all this year... I'm so glad to see you enjoyed Lila. I loved it too, though at the moment I still prefer Gilead and Home (I say this with hesitation because it took me a long time to finish this one, and I think that's part of the reason why).

377rainpebble
Editado: Dez 7, 2014, 9:23 pm

170. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles; VMC; 3 1/2*)

A very quirky, bizaare novella, I found Two Serious Ladies to be a very, very enjoyable read. It reads in about an hour and a half and is hysterically funny. I don't know that it was meant to be, but I certainly found it to be. It is about strange girls and later strange women, weird friendships and unbelievably ridiculous relationships. A good book when one just wants to read and isn't looking for something specific to fit the bill. I would love to find more books similar to this one.

378rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:22 am



MY DECEMBER READS:

ORANGE FOR DECEMBER:
171. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers; (2009 or 2010); (4*)
_____________________________________________

172. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen; Y/A; (5*)
173. The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski; Persephone;
(4 1/2*)
174. The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sydney; Y/A; (4*)
175. Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey; Persephone; (2*)
176. Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf; Persephone; (5*)
177. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye; Y/A; (5*)
178. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett; Y/A; (5*)
179. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery; Y/A; (4*)
180. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett; Y/A; (5*)
181. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey; Kindle; (4*)
182. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski; Y/A; (4*)
183. The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (5*)
184. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4*)
185. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge; currently reading

379rainpebble
Dez 7, 2014, 6:33 pm

171. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini; Orange Award for New Writers; (2009 or 2010); (4*)

After completing The Boy Next Door I was totally awe-struck. I liked and enjoyed parts of the book but I appreciated the entire book. For the most part it is a rather harrowing story of a family during the eighties through the late nineties in Rodesia/Zimbabwe. I recommend it to some of you but not all. It is not an easy book to read but once into it, the story moves along very quickly and I found myself unable to put it down except when I had to, as when we had company. Even then I found myself sneaking away to get just a couple more paragraphs read. It kept me awake and not just to read. It literally kept my mind whirling and unable to rest. I cannot imagine living through anything even similar to this.
It is a novel so it is fiction, of course. But we know that things of this nature literally happened there and are yet happening. My heart goes out to the people of Africa so often and I ache for them. This is Irene Sabatini's debut novel and while it wasn't perfect, it was an unstoppable read. I predict Sabatini to be a literary force to be reckoned with one day.

380rainpebble
Editado: Dez 20, 2014, 10:53 am

172. Briar Rose by Jane Yolen; Y/A; (5*)

I just finished reading Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. This one is a take on Sleeping Beauty & is like nothing I have ever read before. It is quite different from the Sleeping Beauty with which we are so familiar.
The grandmother tells her three granddaughters the same fairy tale over & over again. They love it & can not hear it often enough. As the girls grow up and the grandmother becomes quite aged she leaves reality behind and becomes the 'sleeping beauty' of the tale, continuing to tell the tale even in the nursing home.
The youngest granddaughter swears to the grandmother that she will go 'back' & find the truth & this truth literally becomes believable.

"He smiled. "Your own American writer Emerson said: 'The hero is not fed on sweets but daily his own heart he eats.' If that is a definition you can accept, then I will tell you I have dined long and hard on my own heart. And it is bitter."

This is another short, easily studied, but heartrending quick read. And apparently there is a whole series of these fairy tales out there somewhere just waiting for me to find them. This is also one I highly recommend.

381rainpebble
Editado: Dez 15, 2014, 8:29 pm

173. The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski; Persephone;
(4 1/2*)

I found The Victorian Chaise-Longue to be a horribly disturbing & even terrifying novella.
Our protagonist is ill with TB. She has just given birth & is bed ridden. After several weeks she is allowed by her physician to be carried into an adjoining room and to lay upon the chaise lounge there where she will get sun and be able to watch the birds and have a bit of a change in scenery.
She falls asleep and when she awakens it is to find that she is in a strange room with a strange woman in another time and place. Eventually she comes to realize that this woman is her sister.
I expected that the plot would move from fairly contemporary days to Victorian days in a back & forth flow but this book is not written in such a manner. You will need to be of stouter heart than this reader to read this book and not find your heart beating faster as you turn the pages.
A very well written book, I highly recommend it. I am so glad that I have now read it for I will not be so frightened when I turn to it for a reread.

382rainpebble
Editado: Dez 15, 2014, 8:24 pm

174. The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sydney; Y/A; (4*)

Going back to my youth to read this again, I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did then or perhaps even more. With 7 children in our family there was a great deal I could relate to.
This is the story of a poor household consisting of mammsie, who takes in sewing for a living along with her 5 youngsters, a couple of which work outside the home to help support the family.
The story is wholesome but not boring for very much happens to and with these lovely children. I love the concept of the family pulling together for the good of all and think that if more families were of this nature today (as mine was growing up in the 40s, 50s & 60s) the world would be a much better place.
Highly recommended & 4 stars.

383rainpebble
Dez 18, 2014, 10:12 am

175. Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey; Persephone; (2*)

I found this to be a bit disappointing. Yes, it was cleverly written. Yes, there are lovely bits of humor. Yes, I wanted to like it. I wanted to like it very much indeed, for this is my first disappointment in the many Persephone that I have read. I just wanted to reach into the book, pull the characters out one by one and stretch them before returning them to the story.
The story is about the family & friends of a young lady who is to marry that afternoon and is having second thoughts about it. She is thinking that perhaps she is making the mistake of her life. Characters meander in and out of the rooms of the house as they meander throughout the story. One old sweetheart attempts all the day through to find the courage to talk to the bride and tell her that he cares for her and to attempt her to bust up the marriage before it begins but he just cannot manage at all and when he does catch her alone just before the wedding, it is only to find her in a dither with spilled ink on the front of her wedding gown. You see, she has been in such a state that she has been tippling from the rum bottle the day long.
No, I can't say that I liked much about this one. The characters were flat and the story dull. But I hope when I come back to it one day my brain or the book will somehow have magically changed and I will find a substance in the book to accommodate me.

384rainpebble
Editado: Dez 20, 2014, 11:22 am

176. Flush: A Biography by Virginia Woolf; Persephone; (5*)

Flush is a first person fictional narrative about the Cocker Spaniel owned by Elizabeth Barrett/Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The real dog was stolen three times but in the novella it is capsulized into a story of one theft.

Virginia Woolf opens the novel writing as if the book is non-fiction. After a few pages, she slips into the narrative form with the dog describing his life. She explores the dog's relation to the owner and tells us what it is like to be a dog. The dog is very sensitive to the moods of his owner and is protective, even becoming jealous on an occasion or two. One could say that Woolf gives Flush a soul.

This story is light hearted and avoids the heavy cloud of despair usually portrayed in books about the Barretts of Wimpole Street, though Wimpole Street is the setting of the first part of the book.

I loved how Woolf described Flush running through the parks, chasing birds & whatnot; lying soaking up the sun, etc. Her descriptiveness of a 'dog's life' is pretty spot on. This story allows Woolf to be more playful than any of the other piece she has written. The mix of fiction and fact allows her to tell a story filled with heroes and villians which make the book quite captivating like an adult fairy tale. By the end I was fully engaged and completely consumed by Flush and his life. I didn't want it to end but sadly it had to. This is a must for any fan of Woolf or even anyone who has a love for animals. The deeper meaning of the narrative is the telling of loyalty and love. We can all take a lesson from that.

I fell in love with this little book and highly recommend it. It boggles my mind just how timeless Virginia Woolf's works are.

385rainpebble
Dez 20, 2014, 11:48 am

177. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye; Y/A; (5*)

I found this little book to be very sweet and enchanting. A princess is born and not just any princess but the seventh princess which makes her very special. At her christening one of her fairy godmothers, feeling very cranky at the time, gives her the gift of being "ordinary". As the child grows up she realizes the differences between herself and her six extraordinarily beautiful sisters and sees them married off to the princes of the land one by one. But she doesn't mind for she is allowed a much freer rein than them and enjoys life playing in the wood and such.
Later when her parents feel it is time for Princess Amy to marry, the eligible princes come one by one, hopefully to propose marriage. But when they see the ordinariness of Princess Amy, they run for the hills. Eventually the King and Queen become so desperate that they attempt to hire a dragon to entice the princes to attempt the dragon quest in order to win Princess Amy's hand. When Amy hears of this she runs away from the castle & her home to live in the wood and make her own way. She hopes that by being so ordinary anyone who spots her will not realize that she is the Princess Amy and tell her parents.
Thus, the story begins. And a very lovely & fun story The Ordinary Princess is. Of course we know that eventually the Princess Amy will find her one true love but I will leave the finding up to the next readers to discover.
Suffice it to say that this reader was enchanted by The Ordinary Princess and the writing of M.M. Kaye & hopes you will be as well.

386rainpebble
Dez 23, 2014, 12:12 am

178. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett; Y/A; (5*)

I loved this book as a child, and it was so nice to revisit it as an adult. A perfect book to read on a cold, windy winter afternoon when nobody else is home. Your mind can escape to a lovely garden coming to life in the early spring. It inspired me to go for more walks no matter what the weather is like. I've read it to my children, to my grandchildren and hope to read it to my great grandchildren one day.
The story is set in the early 1900’s in India and England. Mary's parents have both died so she must move to England to live with her uncle who mainly travels or lives as a recluse. There are quite a few characters to become accustomed to in this book. There is Mary, of course and Dickon who becomes her special friend. Then there is Colin, Martha, Ben Weatherstaff, Mr. Craven, Mrs. Medlock, Dr Craven and Susan Sowerby. I believe my favorite was Dickon because I found him so interesting and he had such a sweet nature.
Mary finds a 'secret garden' that has been hidden away on the estate of her uncle for many, many years. Not having been cared for, it was quite overgrown and not very pretty. Mary wants to work in the garden caring for the plants and bringing it back to it's days of glory.
This tale is a story for children of all ages from younger than school age to ninety. If you've not yet read it, I highly recommend it to you. It is a tale, that once read, you will hold close to your heart.

387rainpebble
Dez 23, 2014, 12:54 am

179. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery; {acquired in my youth}; Y/A; (4*)

I first read this sweet fable as a little girl and loved it. I just reread it and fell in love all over again. The core message is still one we must keep reminding ourselves of---that grown-ups don't know everything and often don't understand what is truly important in life.

The book is tiny and one might think it to be a children's book. And point in fact, many children do read The Little Prince. But I think it is more for adults. The author turns each adult who reads it into someone who probes his own mind gently to grasp the philosophy of the author in each instance or occurrence within the book.

The story contains the beautiful, eloquent poetry of the rose, the prince and the haunting tragedy of the un-muzzled sheep. It is a timeless story; one that can be read time and time again. Each time you read this story a different part of you will connect to The Little Prince. The story is complex and captivating. When I was a child I heard the story about the boy Prince and his rose and it was only later as an adult that I rediscovered the book. Reading it again as an adult I really appreciate the commentary on human behavior and the exploration of what it means to be 'tame'. I suppose it's hard to put into words the beautiful complexities of this book. It is especially difficult to explain when I know there's no way my reading experience can be half as good as the book. If you're a literature buff, a book lover or just someone who appreciates a good story then please buy this book. Perhaps it will change your life as it did mine.

After reading it, we feel (at least this reader did) that the whole world is larger than we thought and yet smaller at the same time. It is truly a better world for many of us because of this author's ability to make us see everything differently than ever before.

388laytonwoman3rd
Dez 23, 2014, 8:29 am

You're having a wonderful run of children's classics, Belva. Can you believe I've never read either Five Little Peppers or The Little Prince? I must do something about that soon.

389rainpebble
Dez 27, 2014, 11:31 am

>388 laytonwoman3rd::
No Linda, I cannot believe that YOU have never read some of these. I find the Christmas holiday season the perfect time to read children's & Y/A classics. I suppose it is the timelessness of that two-four week window.
I hope you enjoyed a lovely Christmas.

390rainpebble
Editado: Dez 27, 2014, 12:33 pm

180. A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett; (5*)

This tale has long been a favorite of mine. I read it for the first time in 2nd grade, checking it out of the school library. I read it 2 or 3 times a year until I reached my teens and then cut back to once a year over the Christmas holidays. By that time I had my own copy and what a beloved treasure that book was. As an adult I have continued to read it every few years. This book just fills up some empty space in my heart & soul.
It is a story about a different kind of princess than one might imagine; a motherless girl, Sara Crewe, whose father always called her his little princess. When he was called away to fight in the Crimean War he took her to an elite girl's school run by one arrogant Miss Minchin & her cowardly sister. She was their most exclusive student and most all of the girls wanted to be her friend including one very timid scullery maid, Becky, for Sarah was the only girl there to befriend her.
When her papa dies penniless, having lost all of his wealth, Sara is forced to give up her schooling, clean & run errands for the Miss Minchins, (throwing her out in the streets would put their school in a very bad light) & scuttle coal as Becky did. They took all of her pretty clothes & dolls away from her and made her live in a cold, leaky attic room under the eaves of the house. She and Becky soon made up a code whereby they could communicate with each other by knocking on the wall between their rooms. Even though Sara is always cold, never has enough to eat and is friendless except for Becky, she remains the same sweet little girl who was her father's 'little princess'.
The man in the neighboring house took a great interest in the girls, especially Sara, and his rooms looked right into hers. It is very interesting how, in the book, his life becomes engaged with hers.
The Little Princess is a beloved story tale as are all of the writings of Frances Hodgson Burnett and it happens to be my favorite. This is a wonderful story even for adults and those of us nearing or going into our 'second' childhood.
I very highly recommend it.

391rainpebble
Dez 27, 2014, 1:06 pm

181. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey; Kindle; (4*)

This very imaginative story takes its theme from a children's Russian fable of the same name, written by Freya Littledale and Barbara Lavallee. The characters are clearly defined as trailblazers, fighting the harsh winters and wilderness of Alaska in the early part of the twentieth century. Developed well, you can sense the contrast in the characters: Esther is larger than life, sturdy and sure-footed, Mabel is frail and tentative, George, a long time dweller in this seeming wasteland, is a wonderful kind, giving man and neighbor, and Jack is sincere and overwhelmed with his effort to develop the land and make it thrive, in spite of his age and inexperience. Faina is depicted as faerie like, magical and young, when we first meet her. Garrett, the Benson's son, is a boy of the wilderness; he loves it and prefers hunting and camping to farming. The characters are wholesome and thoughtful, helping each other in times of need, living off the environment that they are taming.
Childless and bereft, Mabel and Jack, a loving couple tired of being ridiculed and stared at, as if childlessness was an affliction, decide to move away from family and friends to Alaska, where they can begin their lives again, alone, living off the untamed land. It is a tender tale of deep love and loss, told beautifully with reality and fantasy mixing together with an easy grace.
Struggling to survive a task far greater than they imagined, they grow a little apart, become depressed and forlorn, giving up hope of succeeding in their fight to overcome the climate and the barrenness. Fearing that they will not be able to thrive on the farm they are trying to create, afraid they will have to return to civilization in shame, they drop their guard when the first snowstorm arrives, and like children, they build a snow child dressed in Mabel's mittens and gloves. They carve features colored with berries, provide branches for arms, they dance around with glee, rekindle their love for each other and renew their hope and efforts to survive.
When a strange child suddenly appears soon afterwards, wearing the mittens and gloves of the collapsed snow child, Mabel and Jack are astonished. For many years, she arrives with the first snowfall and leaves in the spring when the weather warms, witnessed by no one else, not even neighbors George and Esther, who often visit and have helped them to survive the toughest moments of their homesteading. Faina brings joy and warmth back into their lives, albeit briefly. That joy is always followed by a season of sadness when she leaves once again.
Faina, changes and influences their lives and they influence hers. She seems magical, like a spirit, and often strange events occur when she is around. Is she real or a figment of their imagination, resulting from 'cabin fever'? Will she always return?
This is a very tender magical novel about dreams and nightmares, belief and disbelief, life and death, love and loss. Love has the power to deal with all of these scenarios, or does it perhaps create them? How the issue of the snow child resolves itself, is the crux of this lovely little fairy tale. Highly recommended.

392rainpebble
Editado: Dez 28, 2014, 11:31 pm

182. Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski; Y/A; (4*)

This one is a Newbery Award-winning classic. (Umm humm. Says so right on the cover.) Anyway I enjoyed it tremendously.

It was copyrighted in 1945 and tells the story of two neighboring families living in the lake region of Florida in the early 1900s after the Seminole War. Most of the people in this region had moved down from the Carolinas and were known as the Florida Crackers. They had wonderfully colorful speech patterns, a wealth of idioms, and brought with them many a folk song, superstition and integrity of character (or not, as in the case on one of the neighbors).
This is a cross section of America. An American way of life not known to a great many of us, a poor but very colorful way of life.
The main character is a 10 year old girl named Birdie Boyer and the story is told through her eyes. Her family is a farming family attempting to grow strawberries, orange groves, and sweet potatoes among other produce.
The neighboring family, the Slaters, raise cattle and pigs. Or to be more precise, they have cattle and pigs. They pretty much just let them free range and raise themselves until it is time to round them up and take them to be sold.
The cattle and pigs continue to get into the crop fields of the Boyer family and trample the berries, eat the fruit trees down to nubbins and wreak all kinds of havoc. This does not sit well with Mr. Boyer and he speaks to Mr. Slater, who cares not one whit. So Mr. Boyer decides to fence in his property. Mr. Slater threatens him that if he does, something bad will happen. And so it goes.
The book was a quick read and it was easy to relate to and to get to know and care about the characters. I quite liked it and think that anyone else picking it up would like it as well. I will be looking for more of Linski's books.

393rainpebble
Dez 28, 2014, 11:33 pm

183. The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (5*)

The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden is a lovely story about a couple with a little boy and girl and a Ukranian housekeeper. The children realize one day that the housekeeper, Marta, is unhappy when in the kitchen and they ask her about it. She shares with them in her broken translation that there is no happy place in their kitchen; no Holy place. And that where she comes from they have a special place in the kitchens, a shelf or such, where upon there is placed a picture of Madonna and Child, decorated with lovely fabrics and beautiful jewels and special candlelight to show the picture. This makes a 'happy kitchen'.
The little boy is quite troubled by this; that Marta is unhappy, missing a 'Kitchen Madonna'. He decides that he will make her one and this is the story of how one little boy with the help of his sister goes about doing something wonderful and beautiful for someone he cares about.
The story is beautifully drawn out, the characters are open to you.
Rumer Godden is something really special. A 5 star read and highly recommended.

394rainpebble
Editado: Dez 31, 2014, 12:22 am

184. An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden; Y/A; (4*)

This tiny little book is an absolute gem of simplicity, love and hope. A precociously aware, yet innocent little girl has been left with the owner of a struggling restuarant and his wife to raise. She was left by her mother, a woman on the fringes of show business who cares for no one but herself. The child becomes obsessed with the idea of creating a garden in the ruins of a bombed out church, and enlists the aid of a local tough boy. When they remove earth from a nearby enclosed garden, they are prosecuted by an opinionated, domineering woman who can see no other path in life except her own, and who rules even her elder & more compassionate sister with the iron fist of mockery. It's a short story but one which made me laugh and cry because I could feel the sheer frustration as well as the determination of the little girl as she battles the inexorable might of the adult world. A world which can not or will not see things from a child's perspective. I'm sorry that I've missed this beautiful book until recently but am grateful to have found it in a used book shop.

395laytonwoman3rd
Dez 31, 2014, 2:00 pm

>392 rainpebble: Oh, I loved Lois Lenski's books when I was in grade school. Judy's Journey is a title I recall, and I know I read Strawberry Girl too. I should revisit; I remember the illustrations were nice. And I learned what oleander was from reading one of her books.

2015 is the year I actually read at least one of those many Rumer Godden books on my shelves...I hope!

396rainpebble
Dez 31, 2014, 2:12 pm

>395 laytonwoman3rd::
I hope so too Linda. I find that I am really enjoying Y/A books so very much. I skipped over most of them as a child and was reading Gone With the Wind and such in 2nd grade. That is probably why I am thrilling to them now.

Happy New Year to you too dear lady. Here is to reading marvelous books and stories in 2015.
hugs,
belva

397wookiebender
Dez 31, 2014, 7:26 pm

Happy New Year, Belva!

398rainpebble
Jan 4, 2015, 12:32 am

Happy New Year, Tania! Have a great 2015, reading & otherwise.

399laytonwoman3rd
Editado: Jan 16, 2015, 12:32 pm

*knock, knock* Belva, do you have a 2015 reading thread? Don't want to lose you!!

400rainpebble
Jan 19, 2015, 4:41 pm

**knock, knocking back** Linda. Please don't lose me. :-)

2015 thread is located here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/185512

Better?
lol

401laytonwoman3rd
Jan 19, 2015, 5:38 pm

Yeah...you know I already found you!