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Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

    Such a surprising novel. Published more than 15 years ago, I’m not sure how I have never read this amazing novel. Here is my book review The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

    Non-Fiction or Fantasy?

    A sprawling novel that covers centuries, Kostova’s debut novel was a culmination of a decade of research. Her childhood fantasies about Dracula through stories from her father, compelled her to re-imagine the tales of Vlad the Impaler in this epic novel.

    My friend Merry suggested this book to me, she and I often enjoy the same novels and she was right about this one. Although this story is very long (more than 700 pages) I devoured it and couldn’t put it down.

    Drakulya (Vlad the Impaler)

    Kostova takes the reader through generations as we follow the story of Drakulya; Prince, Warrior, Legend and Vampire. Traversing the globe from the USA to Oxford, throughout Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Turkey and more. This tale follows the handful of characters who find themselves thrust into the duty of lives focused on killing that illusive vampire.

    Honestly if anyone else had told me about this book I probably would have thought it was what “B’ rated movies are made of. But I trust Merry’s review of a book, and so I plunged ahead with this novel. It’s brilliant. The tremendous research that Kostova did makes this fictional tale feel like non-fiction as you are engrossed in this decades long search for the illusive. Her characters are also incredible, and believable, even the character of Vlad himself…who at one point in the story I actually felt sorry for. Kostova is an excellent writing talent, adept at suspense and thrills while creating an exhilarating and intoxicating narrative that spans generations. I loved it.

    Surely I will go in search of more of Kostova’s work in the future. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.

    ***** Five Stars for The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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    Read last week’s review A Life Without Water by Marci Bold

    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review A Life Without Water by Marci Bold

    How can two people who have endured the greatest of loss come together and forgive? Here is my book review A Life Without Water by Marci Bold.

    Carol has built a career, found the love of her life, lost the love of her life, all while putting the greatest tragedy behind her and never looking back.

    John has searched for Carol (Carolyn) for more than 20 years, ever since she walked out the door and never said good bye. Now John’s own health brings him back into her life as they both navigate what it means to forgive.

    Finding a path to forgiveness in a world where resentment, alcoholism, tragedy and hostility prevent these characters from seeing through their own grief to understand how to heal. John and Carol will embark on a USA road trip to sprinkle the ashes of their daughter, dead nearly 20 years, at the famous sites of America. In doing so they will learn so much about each other while coming to terms with the grief that has haunted them both.

    Although somewhat predictable, Bold’s writing conveys the emotional story and the sadness of these two characters, even while being a bit familiar and formularized in the vein of Jodi Picoult.

    Thank you for reading my book review A Life Without Water by Marci Bold.

    ***Three stars for A Life Without Water by Marci Bold.

    See last week’s review of Less

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Less by Andrew Sean Greer

    This fun and funny 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning novel will surely put a smile on your face. Here is my book review Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

    Arthur Less, mildly successful author is less known for his own writing than for his long relationship with Pulitzer Prize wining poet Robert Brownburn. When Arthur’s latest book is rejected by his publisher, and Arthur’s latest love Freddy is marrying someone else, Less is lost.

    Greer creates a lovable character in Arthur Less, and a fun and sentimental story as Arthur Less begins a world literary tour, running from his own problems to numb the loss of the man he loves.

    From New York City to Mexico City to Berlin to Morocco to India, Greer brilliantly builds this novel; part love story, part travel story, Less is a look at navigating loss and midlife and coming out whole on the other side.

    The adventures of Arthur Less will have you laughing and crying and being hopeful for this man who just wants to be happy and be loved. Isn’t that what we all want? I hope you enjoyed my book review Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

    *****Five stars for Less by Andrew Sean Greer

    See last week’s book review The Promise by Damon Galgut

    see our top ten blogs of 2021 The Best of My Fab Fifties Life 2021

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Promise by Damon Galgut

    Booker Prize winner for 2021, here is my book review The Promise by Damon Galgut.

    How much weight do we put into a unmet promise? This is the premise of Galgut’s Booker Prize winning novel based in South Africa during apartheid.

    Three siblings struggle separately with their individual pasts as they lose touch with each other following the death of the matriarch of the family outside of Pretoria South Africa.

    Amor, the youngest, witnesses what she believes is a promise made by her father to her mother as her mother lays dying. Amor will spend the rest of her days feeling guilty about this unmet promise.

    Meanwhile, her elder siblings; sister Astrid, resentful to find being beautiful doesn’t always make you happy and Anton the eldest son, bitter about his lost potential. The three siblings drift apart only reuniting when funerals call them home.

    This powerful family saga will captivate you as both this family and South Africa navigate a tumultuous and changing ways. How will this family make their way in the new South Africa and can they find find hope in all their resentment for their family and all that has been lost?

    Thank you for reading my book review The Promise by Damon Galgut.

    ****Four stars for The Promise by Damon Galgut

    Read last week’s review The Lincoln Highway

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

    I’ve been on a roll lately with some outstanding fictional reads. And if you are in need of a last minute gift for a reader on your list – go buy this book now! Here is my book review The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles.

    Amor Towles

    I loved Amor Towles book A Gentleman In Moscow. So when I kept seeing his new novel The Lincoln Highway pop up on Oprah, The Today Show and the NY Times Bestseller list I knew I needed to read it. It’s nothing like Gentleman in Moscow as far as a storyline. But Towles ability to create the most lovable and likable characters is at its best in The Lincoln Highway.

    Not only will you love the character development, but the raucous adventure that takes place in the plot will have you unable to put the book down. You’ll be laughing and worrying, shuttering and rolling your eyes. It’s a big adventure – a mix of This Tender Land, Huckleberry Fin and Peter Pan.

    Beginning in the Middle

    The story begins in the middle. Because as we learn from precocious 8-year old Billy, all stories are best when they begin in the middle. And so we begin on the day in June 1954 when Billy’s brother Emmett is released from a juvenile detention camp.

    Emmett and Billy have lost their father to cancer, and their farm has been foreclosed. All they have is each other and Billy proposes they head west on the The Lincoln Highway in search of their mother who left them eight years before.

    But when two stowaways from the juvenile detention camp turn up in Billy and Emmett’s barn, the westward plans are put on hold as the foursome finds themselves headed to New York instead. This is the middle of the story where the real adventure begins.

    The adventures of Emmett, Billy and the stowaways Wooly and Duchess will include jumping freight trains, meeting vagrants, finding lost friends, FAO Schwartz, a “Professor”, getting beat up, a missing Studebaker, a suspicious “circus” and much more.

    Fun and Well Written

    Each chapter of this book is told from the point of view of the sensational characters and follows the misadventures through their eyes and differing perspectives.

    This is a story of belief, perseverance, luck and circumstance and starting over when you can. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles.

    *****Five stars for The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles.

    Read last week’s review Mary Jane

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

    This is the feel good book of the year. I loved it and couldn’t put it down. Here is my book review Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

    1970’s Baltimore and the world is changing, but fourteen year-old Mary Jane is stuck with her prim and proper parents. Mary Jane’s parents spend most of the time at “The Club”. But Mary Jane begins to see through the facade of her privileged community. Mary Jane realizes how her life, her family and her neighborhood shuts out those who are not white, rich, protestant or respectable.

    When Mary Jane takes a summer babysitting job for a local doctor’s family who have just moved into the neighborhood, she has no idea how much this job and this summer will change her life.

    Mary Jane’s mother agrees to the job because a doctor of course is respectable. But what Mary Jane learns and her mother doesn’t know is the house is one of disarray. Take out food, un-bathed little girl and messy and disorganized; Mary Jane’s eyes are open to how the other half lives. She learns the “doctor” is a psychiatrist who is spending his summer treating a drug addicted famous rock star and his even more famous movie star wife. Mary Jane will be introduced to the world of sex and drugs and rock and roll, and will come out the other side an entirely different person.

    This funny and sweet coming of age story has many raucous moments, fun and fabulously developed characters and a plot to rival Daisy Jones and the Six. Read this book. It is hilarious while being believable and perfectly depicts the era and the changing views of society at the time.

    *****Five stars for Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau.

    Read last week’s review Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

    My current read The Lincoln Highway

    I hope you enjoyed my book review Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau. We love it when you pin and share our book reviews.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

    Masterpiece. This is the word I keep coming back to as I try to put into words this novel. Anthony Doerr is brilliant, truly. Deserving of the Pulitzer but I suspect he won’t get it since he received the Pulitzer for his other remarkable novel All The Light We Cannot See. I have so much to say about this novel, so here is my Book Review Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.

    Note – Cloud Cuckoo Land has a very old meaning. Read about it on Wikipedia here.

    First I implore you not to read all the reviews about this book (except this one of course!) because you will just be confused. There are both positive and negative…in fact extreme negative reviews. I’m ashamed of some of the reviewers who claim they were too confused to continue. They didn’t understand what was going on. Seriously? You must keep reading and it all comes together in one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. Don’t give up. I will say it is the kind of book you can’t put down and come back to several weeks later. You may very well be confused if you aren’t consistent and focused. I recommend it as an Audible, the flow of it was outstanding.

    So clearly, I loved this work. I recently read one of Doerr’s early novels About Grace and I hated it. But in Cloud Cuckoo Land he shines. Doerr takes us from 15th century Constantinople to the Korean War to present day Idaho to a futuristic space ship. In all of these time periods there is a common thread…the world is in peril. The characters all are coming of age in a time where it seems the world is coming to an end. Not unlike our current state of affairs, yes?

    Following these characters in this epic story, Doerr’s imagination, ingenuity, research and writing prowess generates these deep and thoughtful characters and creates each timeline in a seemingly unrelated way. Ahhh but wait.

    We meet Anna, a 15th century 13-year old orphan with no money, no skills and no prospects in a time where women are in danger every day of their lives.

    We meet Omeir, a deformed and shunned child in the 15th century who cares deeply for animals and is just trying to survive during the time of the siege of Constantinople.

    Fast forward 500 years to Zeno who learns Greek as a prisoner of war during the Korean war, survives to return home to a quiet Idaho life, hiding his true homosexual tendencies.

    Idaho in the 1970’s we meet Seymour, a troubled and fearful child who befriends an owl as his only “trusty friend” only to be devastated when development ruins the owl habitat. Seymour cannot forgive.

    Fast forward another 500 years and we meet Konstance, a ten year old girl who has lived her entire life on an interstellar space ship, a survival technique launched when the earth was beyond repair. But a pandemic (yes seriously) will change everything.

    Doerr weaves this remarkable tale connecting these seemingly unconnected people in ways you can’t fathom. It’s a beautiful story whose soul is about how we care for each other, how we care for planet earth, and most of all how we care for the future of the human race and all the things we hold dear.

    Have faith….the world does not end. Read this book. I can’t stop thinking about it. Masterpiece is the word.

    *****Five plus stars for Cloud Cuckoo Land. I hope you enjoyed my book review Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.

    Read last week’s review of Notorious RBG

    My current read Less by Andrew Sean Greer

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