Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Janissaries: David Nicole

This was about the Janissaries and their history in the Middle East. The pictures were very well done and the book was interesting while being educating.

The Golem and the Jinni: Helene Wecker

An original story about a lonely man who buys a "wife" by having a man make him a golem. The man then dies on a boat coming to America right after bringing Chava, the golem, to life. The story that runs parallel to this one is about a tin smith who accidently releases a Jinni when repairing a flask. The story flashes back to the Jinni's life before a wizard trapped him in the flask and also the past of all the other characters in the story. A rabbi meets the golem and takes her under his wing, finds her a place to live and a job, just when he decided he would need to bind her to someone he dies of a heart attack. That night leaving the rabbi's home after fetching the doctor, who pronounced him dead, she meets the Jinni. The story seems to be about the Golem and the Jinni, but it is actually about the wizard and the Jinni through the centuries. The wizard had originally met the jinni in the desert and entrapped him in the flask, once the jinni is released from the flask the wizard finds him again. In the end with the help of the golem and some human friends the jinni is able to trap the wizard in the flask and seeks out a way to destroy it without destroying himself. The book ends with the jinni coming back to New York to be with the golem.

Monday, April 27, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See: Anthony Doer

This was a wonderful book, reminiscent of "The Book Thief" where it follows the lives of a boy and girl through World War II. The French girl, Marie Laure becomes blind as a young girl and lives with her father who works at a Museum where he is responsible for a rare diamond. The boy, Werner, is an orphan whose father died in the mines. He is great with electronics and is noticed for his ability to fix radios and is taken into the army when the army adds 2 years to his age. Marie Laure and her father flee Paris with the diamond when the German's arrive. Werner and Marie Laure seem destined to meet when Marie's father is put in prison and her uncle starts working with the resistance sending radio messages. Once Werner arrives in Saint-Malo, Where Marie is with her uncle, he finds the uncle's radio transmissions, but refuses to attack them having fallen in love with Marie. There is no happy ending for romance, Werner saves Marie from a German officer trying to find the diamond and sends her to the Americans so she will be safe. He ends up stepping on a land mind and dies. The readers are unsure if he has the diamond or if it has been put back into the ocean. 30 years later Werner's sister is found and given her brother's knapsack which holds a house replica Marie's Father had made for her. Through odd coincidences she finds Marie and we learn the diamond was left in a grotto, inside the house was a key Marie gave Werner for the grotto.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peony In Love: Lisa See

I don't like giving negative reviews, but this novel was a chore to finish. It didn't seem to have a goal and just went on and on. The first half was obsessed with sex, the last half just seemed like filler to make it long enough to make a book. A girl, Peony, watches a play about love and then sneaks off to meet a man who she thinks she falls in love with after talked to for a short time for three nights. Her father points out her husband to her on the last night of the play, but she doesn't look. It ends up being the poet she "loves". It is obvious what will happen, it is just surprising it happens so early in the book. Peony dies and becomes a "hungry ghost" because her death ceremony wasn't handled correctly. Peony watches her husband get married twice more and becomes obsessed with getting her writings published. One positive about this novel was that it does do a good job of educating on Chinese culture and beliefs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thirteen Moons: Charles Frazier

This was an incredible book loosely based on William Holland Thomas, who was an orphan adopted by the Cherokee and then an advocate for the Cherokee to remain on their native soil. Through his land deeds the "Qualla Boundary" was formed in North Carolina. I love novels that make you want to research more, I didn't know anything about this territory and it lead me to research several other things. The book was incredibly sad where he falls in love with the girl and yearns for her his whole life. I liked that you never knew why she chose to leave him once she was widowed, yet life slowly rolls on. The novel was historically accurate where William couldn't legally marry the woman he loved because they were of different races. The story also leaves segments to the reader’s interpretation where a few tales are presented and the reader gets to decide which he/she wants to believe.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A Burnable Book: Bruce Holsinger

Set in the time of 1385, this book starts in mystery and murder. The plot is so complex it takes the entire book to unravel, I kept wondering while reading how long this would have taken to write in order to get all the loose ends wrapped up. The main characters are a slightly fictionalized Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a book to amuse his mistress, but it falls into the wrong hands. It turns into taboo book once someone finishes it making it a book of prophesies on how all the kings will die. It suggests a plot to kill the current king, once thwarted everyone assumes the threat was over, but the actual attempt hadn't come. There is another struggle to find those responsible before it is too late. Interesting book, I thought the environment of medieval England was expertly created. The women were rather crude and it probably wasn't appropriate for teenagers, but it was enjoyable.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Conversion: Katherine Howe

This book was similar to the Physic Book of Deliverance Dane in that it goes back and forth from the present to the time of the witch trials. This book, however, was written for teen readers. Several girls in a modern day Catholic school start getting twitches and have seizure-like episodes. The book then flashed back to the late 1600's to the girls who accused their town of witch craft. Weaving back and forth, the narrator, Coleen makes the connection between the witchcraft trails from the book she is reading for class, The Crucible, and what is happening at her school. Girls start getting tics and losing their hair. They have body wracking coughs and cough up pins. The school tries to convince the community it was a reaction from a vaccine the girls had all gotten recently. The media tries to make it out as a contamination/pollution incident. Collen starts to wonder if it has something to do with a friend, who was dating a teacher. As the story builds we hear a confession from Anne Putnam about how the witch trails started. In this novel, it was all from a little girl trying to get out of her chores and other girls saw how effective it was and did the same. The book showed how easy and quickly things got out of control. Coleen realizes the pain her friend Clara is going through is being pushed outward from her to those close to her. They end up getting physically ill. By the end everyone is happy again and heading off to college. Either I missed the part about the relationship between the teacher and student, or it actually did come to an end…I didn’t really like how that seemed glorified and dreamy to a student. That part disturbed me.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Stealing Faces: Michael Prescott

This was a disturbing thriller where the hunted becomes the hunter...temporarily. A sick and twisted man collects young woman to "free" them. He kidnaps them and then sets them loose in a deserted area to hunt them. When captured he peels their face off. A girl, "Kaylie" from his past shows up one day and he realizes she had been following him for some time. The first half of the book establishes that Kaylie is terrified of the police and you are left trying to figure out why. Doctor Cray breaks into Kaylie's hotel room and kidnaps her, but when he takes her to the mountains to hunt her, she out smarts him. Kaylie makes an anoynomous tip and leaves a bag she stole from Cray's car containing his hunting knife at the payphone. Cray had his radio on and picked up the bag minutes before the cop arrived. Kaylie is then arrested trying to break into Cray's house to get evidence and is put back in the mental institute, where we learned she was after killing her husband 12 years prior. The night Cray decides to kill Kaylie and make it look like a suicide the whole story comes out. Kaylie killed her husband because he and Dr Cray were hunting women and keeping their faces as trophies, but no one believed her. Finally justice is served when a cop comes to Kaylie's aid with a gun and she shoots Cray.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Bonesetter's Daughter: Amy Tan

I love the back and forth between present day and the past spanning three generations of memory. Ruth, the daughter, describes her loveless relationship, which seemed to start off so well, she expresses concern for her mother who starts suffering from dementia, and her work, which has become dissatisfactory. Ruth takes her mother to the doctor to do some tests and her mother gives some false information. Later Ruth realizes her mother really did have a different mother than her aunt and really did have a different birthdate, she was telling the truth at the doctor. The story builds from Ruth finding out the truth of her mother's past, which she had written down for Ruth years earlier. The history begins with Ruth's grandmother, who was the only surviving family member of a bone setter. He raised her to be feel and uncharacteristic of a woman at the time. When she married he sent her with a "dragon bone" which ended up being human. The story is filled with tragedy. Ruth's mother was raised in her father's home thinking her aunt's wife was her mother, her actual mother commits suicide and she lives through WWII at an orphanage. Once in the United States Ruth's mother becomes a widow when Ruth is small and does not complain of living in a strange world with different customs while raising her daughter who is American in thought and actuality. It was a brilliant story of family, culture, and learning. It was a very educational and an enjoyable read.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane: Katherine Howe

This was an interesting book that alternates between "present day" the 1990's and the 1700's during a witch craft trial. A graduate student, Connie, moves into her grandmother's house for the summer to fix it up so her mother can sell it. Having never visited the place she was surprised to see the disarray, mushrooms growing in the house, and that it didn't have electricity. She comes across an old family bible with a name on a piece of paper "Deliverance Dane". She checks out the name at the local church and finds out she was tried as a witch and excommunicated. As the story progresses we understand Deliverance Dane was an ancestor of Connie's (Constance) and that there is still magic occurring. Connie's professor tasks her with finding a primary source. Connie believes she can find Deliverance's "receipt book" or recipe book of spells and she finally does through libraries and the help of collectors. Meanwhile Connie meets a boy and he mysteriously falls ill about the time Connie thinks it is impossible to find the magic book. She realizes her professor poisoned her boyfriend when she uses the recipe book to pull the poison from the boy the professor mysteriously arrives. In the end the professor gets the mysterious illness that the boyfriend had and Connie's mom, Grace, decides to keep the family home.