It has been a while since I have posted anything on this blog. I apologize. So, for now I will say goodbye. I plan to be starting a new blog here which will be similar to this if you still wish to follow me. Or you can keep up with my ambitious goal of reading all of Charles Dickens works in a year (just his novels mind you, I might work on his non-fiction at some other point.) Those updates you will be able to find here.
So, farewell and I hope you have a Merry Christmas.
I have to preface this review with saying I love reading stories about WWII. Not about the fighting or the war itself, but of the people and how they reacted to it. How did the people survive? What happened which was crucial to how they lived their lives and did they sit back and take it, or did they fight back? How did their lives change? (A great novel to read, which I had to read for a class in college, is Suite Francasie by Irene Nemirovsky. It is a masterful story of the period.)
Lucinda Riley’s novel is both a WWII novel concerning the French Resistance and about a young woman finding her identity through the telling of her father’s involvement with the Resistance and the recent death of her mother. Emilie returns to the chateau she loved after her mother’s death to decide what she is going to do now with her parents’ belongings and the houses they owned (her father having died years earlier).
During this time she meets Sebastian who is an art dealer and who always happens to be there to help her with decisions which need to be made. Eventually, the two decide to marry, and it is found out that Emilie’s father and Sebastian’s Grandmother were both part of the Resistance during the war. Even though Seb is English.
Emile finds out her father’s story through a family friend who runs the vineyard on the land which belongs on the chateau. She learns of how Seb’s Grandmother Constance found herself in France even though she lived most of her live in England and how she helped Edoaurd, Emilie’s father.
This book grabbed me at the beginning and I did not want to stop reading until I had heard the whole story and then I wanted to know more of what happened. I felt so connected to the characters by the end of the story I wanted to learn about other parts of their lives. For me this is definitely one of my favorite reads so far this year.
**** (Four Stars)
Every once in awhile I like to read something which is fun and a lot easier to read than the novels I usually read. (Hence why I have read Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh.) Also, there is something about these books which makes you feel good. They tend to bring out a childishness that you can’t seem to get rid of for the longest time. (Not that it is a bad thing.)
Anyway, Mary Poppins was better than I thought it would be. Mary shows up on the door step of Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane because the wind happened to blow her there just when Mrs. Banks was looking for a new nanny. Mary Poppins manages to have Mrs. Banks take her on without any references and starts right away looking after the children.
The children and Mary Poppins go on many fantastic adventures all of which she denies ever happens. Such as when they go to visit her uncle. They all end up floating in the air and having tea. Instigated by her uncle, because he sometimes floats when he gets extremely happy.
Also, Mary Poppins somehow knows how to speak to almost any animal. (She can even speak baby!) She even negotiates between Mrs. Lark and her dog Andrew when he wants another dog to live with them in the house.
This was an enjoyable book and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone and everyone, especially if they loved the movie version featuring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.
***** (Five Stars)
I loved Good Kings Bad Kings and could not put it down. Each chapter is told from a different point of view. Either one of the kids who are in the institution, which this book is really about, or from one of the workers who helps the kids as much as they can. It follows the story of how the children are treated and who has a voice for them. Teddy, who is almost 22, tells his story of how he is trying to be moved to a different facility when his birthday comes around. Even though the odds are stacked against him, because of the company who runs the institution he is in and their monopoly on the other places like it. Yessenia’s grandmother, who was taking care of her, died so she was put in to the institution and manages to get into a large amount of trouble.
The way Nussbaum tells the story really lets you understand what these people are going through on a daily basis and shows how horrible the conditions are at the institution they are in. It transports you to the the rooms with them. I was feeling the emotions they were going through and wanted to be their cheerleader at times. I felt extremely connected to them. It is no wonder this novel won the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.
This book is probably one of my favorite reads so far this year.
**** (Four Stars)
Honestly, I don’t know how to begin to explain how much I enjoyed reading this book. It is a fictionalized history of a person who actually lived. Lucy Ann Lobdell was born in the early 1800’s and her story is amazing. Klaber does a great job of mixing fact with how Lucy would have acted.
Lucy was married and had a daughter, Helen. Her husband became abusive so she moved in with her family and he went his own way. Lucy, though, was not a typical woman. She was the type to go hunting and spend a large number of her hours in the woods, wearing men’s clothing. After a while she decided life with her family was not how she wanted to live. She wanted to be able to provide for her daughter, who was still rather young at this point. So she left, as Joseph Lobdell. She cut her hair and started wearing men’s clothing full time. When she found her first employment, no one ever realized she was anyone other than Joseph, a man. Although, she did get in to trouble a few times when people found out who she really was.
The story Klaber weaves is taken from letters, newspapers, and other historical documents. Having been an History Major is college, I find some historical fiction to take too many liberties with their characters and historical events. It is one of the reasons I don’t read Historical Fiction very much anymore, because I know what really happened and find myself disappointed or mad at the author. From what I can tell Klaber did his research. Be advised that there is no way to tell what a person was thinking, but given enough reading about their life and letters they have written, you can come extremely close.
****1/2 (Four 1/2 Stars)
Having read other David Sedaris books before I knew what to expect. Sedaris is as funny and witty in this book as in his others. Along with his true-life stories he includes a couple of monologues, which are amazing. They are hard to describe and I can only say “Bravo Mr. Sedaris, Bravo.”
One of my favorite stories entitled A Cold Case involves the time when Sedaris’ laptop was stolen. Not only was his laptop in the bag which was taken, but so was his passport and bank checks. To make matters worse he was in Hawaii (he was currently living in England.) While I feel bad for him and what he had to go through, I find it did make a rather interesting story. I know you are all wondering and yes, he did get his passport back over six months after it had initially been taken.
There are times when I was reading where I felt as if I had read the story before, knowing I had not. I think this is due to the fact he writes the same sort of stories. There was no re-hash of old thoughts, but the writing is the same as his other books and reminds me of them. I will say, though, if he comes out with another book, I will be reading that one as well.
**** (Four stars)
I wrote a review a while back about Elusive, the first in this series. I have to say Secretive is as fast-paced and entertaining. I found myself reading late in the night wanting to know what was going to happen to Zoe and Jack. There were twist and turns in the story which I would not have thought of (and that is a good thing.)
This book picks up over six months from when Zoe finally made it home. Not much has gone well for her: she has a hole in the ceiling of her kitchen, is still trying to make ends meet, and there are still various men following her (given the only fact that she is Jack’s ex-wife.) When the money from GRS (millions of dollars) is found to be missing from a frozen account watched by the FBI Zoe is the first on the list of people to interview. She is the only one presumably alive who still has any connection to the money.
She again has to travel overseas and find Jack in order to try and clear her name and his in the investigation. She meets some old friends and makes some new enemies in the process. Also, she finds herself in England, as well as Germany.
I loved this installment of On the Run series as much as the last one and cannot wait for the third book to come out. Rosett does a great job of reeling you in to the story and not letting you go until the very end (and then you still want to know what happens next.) I will admit this was not as good as the first book, but I have found that to be the case with most sequels.
**** (four stars)
Recently for work, we had a book drive with the United Way for children’s books. I always like to give books away because I know someday the kids who get these books will become readers like me. I also know that the younger you start someone reading it is more likely that later in life they will be a reader. (Not always true, just look at my brother who you have to force to even look at a book.)
As a child I loved going to the bookstore and the library. (The Librarians always joked that I read the most wide array of titles.) Every time I give a book I always imagine a young girl who’s face lights up and can’t wait to begin reading.
Press Release for Stuff the Bus.
I received from LibraryThing an Advanced Copy of A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel. This book of short stories is interesting, well-written, and is very imaginative.
In the first story we find grandmothers who have found themselves suddenly on a ship in the middle of the ocean. With no one else on the ship. This story focuses on one grandmother over the others and how she views the rest of them and they all deal with what has happened.
There is another story about a professor who recently lost his wife. Now he is trying to find his place in the world without her there to help him at some of the social functions which he has to go to. He finds it hard to find who he is by himself and not as part of a team.
All of the stories are based around birth, death, and love. I found each of the stories to be fantastical and yet still have a sense of realism to them. I enjoyed reading Ausubel’s stories, but for some reason I find that the more I think about what I read I don’t like them. Not to say they aren’t good, because the writing is phenomenal. They just are not my cup of tea.
*** (Three Stars)