Whatcha reading?

Whatcha reading?

Friday, May 29, 2015

What She Left Behind: Ellen Marie Wiseman

This novel exposed the conditions of insane asylums in the early 1900's. Clara, an affluent teenager in the 1920's gets pregnant with a boy, Bruno, her father doesn't approve of and gets toted off to the insane asylum. Geared for teen girls, the story parallels a teenager in the 1990's who is an orphan and has trouble fitting in at school. One assumes the story will expose the two narrators as blood ties, but it doesn't. We follow Clara's life at the asylum assuming she will eventually escape, Bruno comes to rescue her, but dies in the process. In the end Clara is found in assisted living and reunited with her daughter who was raised by the director of the insane asylum.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Leaving Berlin: Joseph Kanon

This was an excellent story, it seemed to take a while to build to the climax, but there were so many pieces being created that would eventually fall together, like a true murder mystery novel. It was suspenseful since the reader didn't know what Alex, the protagonist, had already figured out or what he was thinking. There were a lot of pieces of his life past and present that were still a mystery to the reader. Alex, a Jewish man returns to his childhood home in Germany after the war. His town is now in the Russian sector and we learn he was deported from the United States for being a communist. The reader learns he is actually there as a spy in order to clear his name and return to his family in the United States. On his first day he is set up and nearly killed, his only contact is shot to death. He gets a new contact that he is to report the doings of an old love interest, Irene, and her Russian commander boyfriend. Things get complicated when Irene's little brother escapes from a POW camp where he is mining Uranium for the Russians. Alex seems to get tangled up with Irene again, but the story hints that she can't be trusted. Alex arranged for Irene and her brother to be flown to the American controlled sector of Germany so the brother can get medical treatment. At the last minute Irene backs out. In the end Alex exposes the American general who was his primary contact as the double agent and leaves Irene behind realizing she was also spying on him. The novel did a wonderful job of exposing a war torn town and how no one can trust each other anymore, not even mother and son. People see what they want to see, not the hardships of others. This was an excellent book.

The Cookbook Collector: Allegra Goodman

I ended up listening to this book as an audio and thought it was rather long and drawn out, but that may be because I was multi-tasking. The story follows two sisters who live very different lives and the people who they encounter. The younger sister, Jess, is in college and works at a book store where she goes with her boss to buy a man's collection of cookbooks. She helps her boss make the sale and we find out her boss is in love with her. The Elder sister, Emily, works at a firm and is certain everyone who buys stocks in the company will become rich, she has her sister buy stocks in an effort to look out for her, but it puts her sister into a Rabbi's debt when she can't pay back the money she borrowed from him. Unlike Jess, she has a steady boyfriend who she is supposed to marry, but keeps delaying the date. Her Fiance dies in 9/11 after he stole her company's idea which becomes a success. In the end Jess marries the Book collector, her boss, and the story finally ends.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Persian Boy: Mary Renault

An interesting historical fiction about Alexander the Great through the eyes of his eunuch lover. The story was not what I was expecting and the beginning of the book was surprising to me, I was picturing a dry history of the time. The story starts with the enslavement of a young Persian boy who watches his father get murdered. He is then castrated and sold into slavery as a eunuch watching over the Harem and soon finds himself prostituted out. Through some interesting sales he become property of the king and then at his death becomes a gift to Alexander the Great. The book does a great job of discribing the time and the customs of many different people and the story was interesting as it progressed through different battles and the life of a King, never being safe.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The House of Velvet and Glass: Katherine Howe

Interestingly enough I have read all three of Katherine Howe's books and they all had something to do with witchcraft. In this one the father can trace lineage to a New England witch and he can see the future. The little sister and mom were on the Titanic trying to find a husband for the sister when the ship went down. The eldest sister had been spurned by her beau and the story follows her as she realizes she too has her father's gift. The war starts right when her little brother starts getting into trouble and is kicked out of college. She knows he will die in the war, but if he doesn't he will live miserably and eventually commit suicide. The story ends with her brother being remembered as a hero and the main character getting married.