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Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

    A Saga.  A Gripping historical novel from contemporary writer Ken Follett.  Published in 1989, how is it that I have waited so long to read this masterpiece?  I absolutely love The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

    As a full time traveler, I have been witness to some of the most remarkable cathedrals in the world.  And I have often felt flabbergasted at the thought of how these monstrous but beautiful buildings could possibly been constructed in an age with no machinery, electricity, power or technology.  These monuments to God are truly a wonder.

    Little did I know all this time that Ken Follett had in the 1970’s felt the same, and over a decade of time he wrote his brilliant masterpiece The Pillars of the Earth.  I am so glad I found this book.  My eyes have been opened and my appreciation will be far greater still, when next I stand in front of one of these masterpiece architectural wonders.

    The Pillars of the Earth is set in 12th century England, a time of anarchy and war, brutal famine and poverty, royal power and catholic corruption.  The story follows a memorable cast of characters who you grow to love as they struggle in their own existence, as well as a brutal cast of characters – power hungry and evil, who you despise.  Follett’s ability to bring together this believable group of people, set against real historical events and characters in a time of medieval anarchy is a masterful work of fiction.  The author builds the story alongside the building of the magnificent Kingsbrige Cathedral, despite fire and pillaging, death and destruction, backstabbing and power grabbing at every corner.

    The Pillars of the Earth is ambitious to say the least.  Masterful at its best.  And written with compassion for the everyday people of the time – just trying to survive in a world where any day could bring disaster.

    Spectacular classical reading at its best. 

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

    Read what Wikipedia has to say about Pillars of the Earth here.

    Read last week’s review of The Keeper of Lost Things.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel by Ruth Hogan

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Well I have been searching for a book with a new and surprising plot – and I found it in The Keeper of Lost Things.  I was intrigued from the very first captivating opening lines – “Charles Bramwell Brockley was traveling alone and without a ticket on the 14:42 from London to Brighton.  The Huntley & Palmers biscuit tin in which he was traveling teetered precariously on the edge of the seat as the train juddered to a halt.” And with that – my imagination ran wild!

    A bit love story, a bit paranormal, a bit family drama – Hogan combines a witty tale with a fun and intriguing cast of characters whose lives become entwined in both coincidental and mystical ways in The Keeper of Lost Things.

    Laura – a sad divorcee who has lost direction in her own life stumbles upon a job as an assistant to Anthony.  Anthony harbors his own love lost, a sadness within him that has haunted him for 40 years.  Eunice spends her life in love with a man who she will never have, but nonetheless he is her best friend, even in the end when dementia takes him.  Bomber, endures his nasty sister, loves movies and books and his adoring parents.

    One of the most endearing characters is a young Down’s Syndrome girl named Sunshine – a name which perfectly describes her.  Not only does she bring a ray of sunshine into everyone’s lives, she also has an uncanny ability, perhaps clairvoyant, to touch an object and know it’s past.

    Intrigued?  How do all of these people and a handful of others come together to create a sweet and sentimental novel, with a heartwarming message? You’ll enjoy finding out with this whimsical story.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars for The Keeper of Lost Things

    Read last week’s review of The Plum Tree

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednsday

    Book Review The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

    I had this book on my library waitlist for a long time.  So long I had forgotten about it.  So when it came available I had to go read the preview to see what it was about.  I was really disappointed.

    Another WWII story.

    Now, don’t misunderstand.  I have read some remarkable WWII stories (All The Light You Cannot See), and have extreme compassion for all the suffering that occurred during this terrible time.  BUT, ever since All The Light You Cannot See, the market has been inundated with WWII stories.  Many of them with nearly the same plot – the struggle to survive while lovers from different faiths find their way through this terrible time.

    Which is exactly what The Plum Tree is about.

    Wiseman has a beautiful writing style, and once I got into the book I enjoyed the story, mostly, although I felt it was longer than it needed to be.  Following the lives of Christine, a working class German christian girl and her one true love Isaac, the son of a wealthy Jewish family.

    You can only imagine what happens, and both of these characters endure incredible hardship and loss.  One of the best things about this book in my opinion is the courage of Christine to stand up and speak out, as a German, against the Gestapo, and after the war is over to help bring to justice many of those who were leaders in the Gestapo.

    If you aren’t tired of this theme yet, then you will enjoy The Plum Tree.  I’m hoping to find some fresh new plot lines and novels in 2019.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for the Plum Tree.


    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

    I go back and forth with Barbara Kingsolver.  One of my all time favorite books is her Poisonwood Bible.  And yet some of her other books have left me flat.

    Unsheltered falls squarely in the middle.  I enjoyed it, but it won’t make my top of all time list.  But it is definitely worth a read. It is a bit unfortunate when you fall hard for a particular book (like Poisonwood Bible) – and then expect the author to produce that feeling again and again.  Kingsolver is a talented writer, and Unsheltered definitely shows her breadth.

    The story follows two family – one hundred years apart – living in the same house. Both families are dealing with considerable economic and family issues.  How these families address these issues however, is different in their respective centuries.

    And yet much is the same.  Both storylines deal with aging parents and raising and educating children. Both storylines have an underlying theme of media, economics, racism and nature.  Both storylines have an antagonist in power or coming to power, and how the different generations look at the current political climate.

    The parallel stories converge through historical notes, letters and research as the modern family desperately seeks answers to solve their financial woes.  What they discover however is that none of us, in generations past or present, are fully ever prepared for crumbling foundations both physically and metaphorically when our lives go hurling in directions we never thought possible, in a changing world we never saw coming.

    I particularly liked Kingsolver’s clever way of tying together each chapter as it went from past to present day.  I think you’ll like it too.

    Four stars for Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

    Read last week’s review of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry



    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson

    Okay this guy is a total bad-ass.  And this book should be called Astrophysics for All You Stupid People.  Of which I am one.

    But de Grasse Tyson is way too nice (or maybe his editors are way to focused on selling books), but either way the premise behind this book is – bring simplified astrophysics to the masses.

    Author de Grasse Tyson is one of America’s most brilliant astrophysicists, while also being a talented writer, orator and teacher.  His efforts to help the average person understand and consider our universe and everything around us is noble.  He makes it fun, interesting and educational.

    That said there was SO MUCH of this book I still floundered through.  While other passages and chapters had me riveted and saying over and over “wow I never knew that.”  You can teach an old dog new tricks by the way.  And you don’t need to come away from this book understanding everything you have read.  No one is going to expect you to win a Nobel Prize or change your life or career.  But the one thing you can expect is to wonder.  Wonder and acknowledge how much we still don’t know, and how exciting that is.  Not just for us, but our progeny and generations to come.

    Even if it’s hard – you still should read it.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

    Read last week’s review of Killers of the Flower Moon

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and Birth of the FBI by David Grann.

    This book is written in a simple cadence, almost in a newspaper style.  Author Grann is in fact a writer for The New Yorker Magazine. And that makes for an easy read.  But the topic and story line are anything but simple.  In fact, the story is truly astonishing.  And for me the most astonishing thing about this true story is that I had never heard about it before.

    Killers of the Flower Moon chronicles the historic time in the 1920’s and 30’s in Osage Oklahoma when Osage Native American’s were being murdered left and right and nothing was being done about it.  Nothing.  A blind eye was turned for years – while mafia style corruption and murder was rampant in Oklahoma.

    The Osage tribe was some of the richest people in the United States at the time, due to oil reserves on their land.  But it took years for the government and law enforcement to acknowledge that the richest of Osages people where systematically being picked off.

    Eventually with the early form of the FBI and Herbert Hoover looking for some success to hang his hat on – an in-depth criminal investigation began in Osage, with the eventual arrest and conviction of two people.

    Out of the trial came a clear tale of corruption and collusion in every level of the community including law enforcement.  And even today the people of Osage, the FBI and the author acknowledge their were many other’s involved who were never arrested or tried for many other murders which were never connected to the scheme. Possibly hundreds of murders.

    It was a different time in our country and yet, it still makes me angry and ashamed.  Because you bet if this had  been happening to the rich Rockefeller or Getty’s in the East or the Hollywood moguls of the west it would never have continued for so long and hurt so many.  But, this was a look the other way crime, minorities are lesser citizens case of pure and evil racism and murder.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI.

    Read last week’s review of The Orchardist. 

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I didn’t think I was going to like this book because my husband started it and read only a few chapters and then said no more.  But I picked it up anyway, particularly interested in the fact that it is written by a woman from Wenatchee in my home state of Washington.  

    It’s rare, but it happens occasionally where my husband and I have a very different perception of a book.  I loved The Orchardist.

    This debut novel of Coplin follows the life of a man in the Okanagan Valley area of Washington State in the early 1800’s.  Loosing his mother and his sister as a young boy, Talmadge endures his quiet and lonesome life in the orchards.  Dedicated, hard-working, silent and determined. This character is what I loved most about Coplin’s plot; a quiet, shy and reserved man who deals with his own grief with solitary hard work.  But his compassion is real when he takes in two run-away teenage girls, to only have their lives become entwined in ways that are both interesting and somewhat unimaginable.  

    Set in the rural farming country of beautiful Central Washington the story covers more than fifty years as Talmadge’s life expands from bachelor orchardist to friend, savior, father and eventually criminal, all as a result of one life-changing decision he made.

    I loved all the characters in Coplin’s book; Colleen, Jane, Della, Michaelson, Cree and especially Angeline.  But most of all I loved the character of Talmadge and his quiet and loyal personality.

    Five stars for The Orchardist: A Novel by Amanda Coplin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Read last week’s review of Those Who Save Us