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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Huntress by Kate Quinn

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    A couple of months ago I read Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network and I really enjoyed it. So I decided to tackle her new book The Huntress. And I loved it even more. Here is my book Review of The Huntress by Kate Quinn.

    Quinn introduces an intriguing cast of characters in The Huntress – a post World War Two novel built around the search for Nazi war criminals.

    Nina Markova, raised in Siberia, turned Russian fighter pilot known as the Night Witches. Witness to unthinkable atrocities and dealing with her own pain and loss, with deep and disturbing memories of hate and revenge.

    Ian Graham, British War Correspondent unable to let go of his own personal search for one particular war criminal, a woman known as The Huntress.

    Jordan McBride, Boston teenager and aspiring photographer, Jordan wants to forget the war, move forward and live a life of her choosing.

    Anneliese McBride, Jordan’s new step-mother, appears friendly and engaged in her new American life, but something underlies the perfect facade she allows.

    This book is tightly written, with a believable plot that develops a different side of oft overdone WWII story. Quinn’s attention to research and detail is apparent in the mix of fact and fiction from descriptive landscape passages to intense emotional drama of the characters’ past and present.

    In the end the reality is all of them are The Huntress. See for yourself if you agree.

    I really loved this book and highly recommend The Huntress by Kate Quinn.

    Five Stars for The Huntress. Read last week’s review of The Immortalists.

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    Book Review The Huntress by Kate Quinn
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Wow. This book. I’m not usually one to go for a “thriller” book, but this story sucked me in and I was riveted.

    Similar to novels like Gone Girl (but not as good), Pieces of Her develops a plot of twists and turns, whodunnit and “who the heck are you”, as Andrea Olive struggles to determine the true identity of her mother.

    When Andrea and her mother Laura find themselves the witnesses to a horrific crime, a crime that leads Laura to kill the perpetrator at the scene before he can murder more people, Andrea’s world comes tumbling down.

    A video tape of the terrorist and his demise at Laura’s hands circulates on the news, and with it Laura’s secret life unravels and her enemies catch up to her after decades of being on the run.

    Andrea is thrust into this mystery as she runs from the danger, finding a trail of a woman, her mother, whom she never knew. Who is this woman and why has she spent her life in hiding? Andrea begins to put the puzzle together bit by bit, finding herself in danger but determined to uncover the identity her mother walked away from decades before.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter. Read last week’s review of The Birth of Venus.

    Reading Wednesday

    The Birth of Venus (novel) by Sarah Durant

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This is a beautifully rich tale of life and death, love and art in Florence Italy during the tumultuous 15th century. Told in first person from the viewpoint of a young Florentine girl, but told as her final life’s work as an old woman.

    The young girl, Alessandra Cecchi, daughter of a rich textile merchant in Florence, knows she isn’t like her sister or other girls around her. Her passion of art and learning overpowers her, and alienates her from the life of sewing and searching for a rich husband.

    Alessandra is also tall, awkward and not beautiful like her sister. Called a “giraffe” by her hateful sibling Tomaso, Allesandra searches for meaning to her life.

    Alessandra falls for “the painter” who has been commissioned to paint the ceiling of her families chapel. But she marries a chosen husband “Cristoforo” who turns out to only have married Alessandra to appear heterosexual, which he is not.

    During a terribly violent time in Florence as the church and the people battle for control, Alessandra lives a tumultuous life of her own not able to love the one she wants.

    After I finished the book I spent some time in a discussion group about the book, interested in what other readers theories were about if “the painter” in the story is supposed to be a real person from the era. Certainly the book weaves real characters with fictional ones, and towards the end of the book there is a reference to Michelangelo that made me think this is who it was supposed to be. In the discussion group there was a wide range of strong opinions, and nobody seemed to know for sure. Theories included Michelangelo, DaVinci and several other 15th century painters.

    Only Sarah Durant knows for sure.

    A beautiful story about a period in history I knew little about.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Four stars for The Birth of Venus by Sarah Durant.

    Read last week’s review of The Clockmaker’s Daughter.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    It’s rare anymore that I read a real book I can hold in my hand. It’s a special treat and I always want it to be a book I love…one I can curl up and enjoy. The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton was one of those books.

    This story travels across decades and is told in multiple voices, traversing time and characters with one anchor to it all – Birchwood Manor outside of London.

    From 1854 to 2017 we follow the house and the cast of characters who occupy it, own it, love it, go to school in it, visit it, stumble upon it, search it and haunt it.

    It’s a clever way to inspire a story that spans multiple generations. I really enjoyed the characters and the twists and turns Kate Morton was able to generate bringing her readers into the novel and easily navigating the 160 year span of time the book covers.

    A great read.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton.

    Read last week’s review of Fall of the Giants

    Reading Wednesday

    Reading Round Up

    52 Books in 52 Weeks!

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I did it. I read and wrote a review of one book each week for the past 52 weeks. Some week’s it was a challenge, but other weeks I had finished more than one. So it usually evened out.

    Since returning to the USA in May (for a four month visit) it’s been a struggle to get a book done a week. We have been so incredibly busy with family, friends and our villa remodel. Not much time to read.

    At one point over the past several weeks I found I had three books going at one time – one paperback, one kindle and one on audible!

    Yes I am a bit obsessed with reading – I love what it does to my brain!!! And I love that our Reading Wednesday feature on this blog is one of the most popular things about My Fab Fifties Life.

    So since late July 2018 I have read 52 books, and I have written about each one. You can find the entire book review collection in the Reading Wednesday section of this blog (just click).

    Although I gave five stars to many of the books I read, below is a list of my most favorite of the 52. In fact in the list below are five that I can say are some of the best books I have ever read…and that is saying a lot.

    I’ve put those five at the top, and then below that the rest are listed randomly. I hope you can find a favorite of your own amongst this list and I thank you for your continuing support of Reading Wednesday and My Fab Fifties Life.

    (Note: I’m trying to build our email following. Can you subscribe to our blog please?)

    Top Five of the Year

    1. The Dovekeepers: A Novel by Alice Hoffman – my favorite read of the year. Not everyone is going to love this book as much as I did but I found it to be a beautifully written book of historical fiction about a time period and real life events I knew nothing about. Based on the siege of Masada in 73AD I could not put this book down. I loved the strong female characters, the mix of fact and fiction, the mystical and the esoteric. I loved this book.
    2. Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund – this book is twenty years old but I had never heard of it. It’s a very long book and it took me a long time to read it but I fell hard into this remarkable story and couldn’t put it down. I loved the fictional tale of this remarkable woman and how the author weaves real life characters and other fictional characters into the plot. I loved this book.
    3. Educated by Tara Westover – this book is amazing, for it’s writing but also for the fact that it is a remarkable true story about a young girl’s desire to go to school in a family of radical isolationist and anarchist. Her survival and perseverance makes a compelling novel that I could not put down. I loved this book.
    4. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – just go read this book if you haven’t. It’s been around since 1989 but it holds up and it is a spectacular saga historical novel. Fictional but with many historical facts Follett is a brilliant storyteller and I was captivated cover to cover despite the length of this book. Not only is the story brilliant but I learned so much about historical architecture and it opened my eyes to some of the incredible ancient cathedrals and buildings we see in our travels. I have just purchased Fall of the Giants by Ken Follett to start soon. I loved this book.
    5. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. This is the third book I have read by Hosseini.  His masterpiece The Kite Runner is my favorite and this work A Thousand Splendid Suns comes in a close second.  He writes in a hauntingly beautiful style that brings his characters alive, in a country few of us have or will ever visit. I loved the brave female characters in this story, the strength and endurance and the message that family is not always from blood. I loved this book.

    And 12 More I Really Enjoyed;

    Murmur of Bees by Sofia Sergovia

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa Lee

    Five Presidents by Clint Hill

    The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

    Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

    Freeman by Leonard Pitts Jr.

    The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

    Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

    The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

    The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhader

    Thanks for reading, sharing and loving these books! Pin it for future reference!

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    One of the best books I’ve read since The Dovekeepers, and similar in style. This beautifully written and Homeric first novel by Joukadar is poetic and powerful. I enjoyed every word.

    Similar to works by Houssein about Afghanistan, Joukhadar takes us to ancient Syria and present day war torn Syria in a melodic tale that weaves fact and fiction, myth and legend, family and heartbreak.

    The story follows two young girls in alternating timelines, one traveling and posing as a boy in ancient Syria on a mapmaking odyssey reminiscent of Homer. The other a young girl posing as a boy to survive crossing multiple borders in war torn present day Middle East North Africa along a similar route to survive the horrific and brutal destruction of her families home country.

    A remarkably told story, gripping and beautiful. I highly recommend this debut novel. I learned a lot about Syria both past and present and have a greater appreciation of the devastation for the innocent victims of this violent situation. I look forward to more works by Joukhadar.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Map of Salt and Stars by Zeyn Joukhadar.

    Read last week’s review of A Long Way Gone.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I had never read this classic and popular story by E.M. Forster but I had definitely seen the 1985 Merchant Ivory film adaptation (glorious) and have also seen the play adaptation on stage ( which includes the full skinny dip scene – hilarious).

    Reading the book however I found a bit more difficult, wading through the English tendency to talk in circles.  The story of a young English girl looks at the social class structure of England as it began to shift in the early part of the 20th century.

    Like other similarly written stories of the time, a strong-willed but naive young woman (Miss Honeychurch) walks the reader through a series of events beginning in Florence Italy, continuing on to Rome and returning back to England.  The events look at the sometimes ridiculous social etiquette of the era, with a lot of romance, confusion and sometimes long drawn out English conversations.

    Both sweet and funny, with one of the funniest scenes in literature playing out when the young ladies happen upon  the young men skinny dipping in the pond, the comedy of errors is a fun if sometimes slow read, but a classic to be enjoyed.

    Four stars for A Room with a View by E.M. Forster.

    Read last week’s review of Florida.