Thursday, March 26, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

image from LibraryThing
This is a story of incredible beauty and unfathomable darkness.  It is WWII France and Germany.  It is children growing up in a world where childhood was not allowed and nightmares are real.  But, so is beauty.

This is the story of Marie-Laure, a French girl whose father is a locksmith at a Paris museum - a locksmith tasked with hiding a priceless treasure as he flees Paris with his blind daughter.

At the same time we follow Werner, the white haired radio whiz who escapes the overpowering poverty of a mining town for the education brainwashing of the Third Reich.

Their paths cross in radio waves in the most unexpected way.

This is a beautifully crafted book.  Descriptions are detailed and inviting and unexpected.  The beauty of birds on the wing juxtaposed with incredible cruelty toward prisoners.

This book took me a bit to jump in to.  The characters are introduced and then the book folds back to an earlier time and slowly moves forward.  But - even more was the image of Marie-Laure alone in a house with the fires of a bomb raid creeping toward her.  I was afraid for could a blind girl be alone in a burning house.

I cared for her from the very beginning - and so did Doerr!

I loved this one!! Our April book club book

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I really enjoyed this book.  I liked the characters and the situation and the surprise twists and turns.  Moriarty has a way of making the reader expect one thing and then gently twist the story to a different place.

The premise is a school parent event - a trivia night for parents to raise money for equipment.  This takes place Australia - so the event also included alcohol - something that wouldn't happen in the schools where I have worked.

Moriarty starts the story with parents fleeing the trivia event - and then builds the tale by backing up to a morning months earlier when a few future kindergarten moms gathering for a roundup sort of day.  The pecking order appears quickly with a one new mom nervously trying to figure out her place. She is sort of swept up with Madelaine - one of the more flashy moms and it all feels good until...There is an event that very first morning - a little girl is bullied and her mom goes ballistic.  And that sets this group of parents on an unexpected path.

Now my favorite part. Each of the chapters ends with a snippet of a police or reporter interview with a few of the parents. Clearly there is a death. But that is all you really know...who and why and where.

My only complaint is the title for this book and the picture. I felt like the broken candy cheapened the seriousness of the topics in the pages.  Although this was an easy read - brings forward darknesses that are ususally hidden.  This is only my opinion  - and I would strongly recommend this to others.

I loved this March book club read!

Friday, February 27, 2015

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf

Image from LibraryThing

Two sisters, perfect from the outside until...

Allison, the perfect, is just released from jail - for a death.  Her younger sister, Brynn is avoiding Allison at all costs because seeing her would bring it all back.

And in the midst of all this sibling turmoil readers are introduced to Claire and her bookstore.  Claire, the adopted mom of Joshua who kindly offered Allison a job in her bookstore.  And then there is Charm, the girl who hangs out in the self-help section at the bookstore and wants to be a nurse.

These four women cross paths - and of course things are changed forever - this wouldn't be a great book if things like that didn't happen!

This is a book written by the sister of one of my coworkers.  :)
I've been slow to read any of Gudenkauf's books. It's sort of like my hesitancy to watch a movie everyone else is recommending - what happens if it doesn't live up to others' recommendations?
Well - this lived up to the recommendations!  Read it!

Ahab's Wife: Or the Star-Gazer by Sena Jester Naslund

image from LibraryThing
This book was recommended to me by a seed corn dealer convention!  He told me it was his favorite book.  I was in need of a new one - so I started reading.  It is odd to read a book about characters you sort of know...I have never read Moby Dick, have actually had no desire to attempt it, but even I know who Ahab is and how his life goes.  But, I really liked this book and was drawn in very quickly!

That's because of Una! With a name like Una, you have to be something special.  And she certainly was!

Her life was anything but ordinary - especially for a woman the early 1800s!  She was born in Kentucky, the daughter of a fanatic, bible-thumping father and open -minded mother.  Her first contact with the ocean was living with her aunt, uncle and cousin on the shores of a beautiful lighthouse island in the Atlantic.

And then she was drawn to the sea.

This is one of those big fat books that draw you in.  Una sees the world differently and her descriptions about life and faith and nature are beautiful and thought provoking.  This has made me want to spend more time at the ocean - not on a whaler, but along the shore!

I can't say this was my favorite book - but it was one that I am glad that I read!

Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill

image from LibraryThing
The story of a marriage in bits and pieces.

Reading this felt like I was watching through a window at someone else's life or secretly finding pieces of notes found in the bottom of a purse.

This is the story of a marriage  - from beginning to middle to not quite the end.

It was haunting and beautiful and confusing and incredibly honest and depressing and hopeful and ridiculous and lingering.

It was a poem to the reality of marriage.

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Coralie is a sheltered girl.  Hidden away from the world by her over-protective father on Coney Island in her fathers museum. Coralie is one of the specimans in the museum because of a webbing between her fingers. Her father has her don a mermaid contraption and swim in the tank with a small clear tube for air.  Coralie's mother died when he was young and she completely depends on her father.

At the same time there is another story unfolding.  Eddie grew up has a good little Jewish boy escaped from Russia and slaving by his father's side in the garment district.  But, then things changed.  Eddie's father was afraid of life and what the world handed them - and Eddie couldn't take it anymore.  He left and found his true passion - photography.  He came across an old man in the woods around NYC taking pictures of trees in the darkness.  And everything changed.  Eddie changed his name and embraced a new life as an apprentice.  And then the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire happened.

Coralie and Eddie cross paths briefly once, twice - and then their worlds became completely entwined.

I really liked this book.  There were times that were rather preachy - like we were in a history class listening to what Coney Island used to be like.  But there were also so many quirky personalities - including the main characters.

One other thing - the cover image - WOW! I kept imagining Coralie looking out of her tank with those eyes!  completely admit it was the cover that pulled me in to this story!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore

image from LibraryThing

So I am sucked into this ongoing series. Each time a new installment  of this series comes out I feel obligated to read it. And it takes me a while to remember what is going on and what has already happened. It is my ongoing complaint against series books! 

 That being said, I really do enjoy these. I like the quirky characters and the story told in multiple voices. This books brings the horrible Morgadorian aliens to earth and the war begins... Sort of