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Reading wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

    Reading Wednesday

    Absolutely astonishing. I loved this non-fiction book about mental illness in America. I listened to this one on Audible, it was brilliantly read, but I suspect reading it would be just as compelling as Kolker’s empathy towards the material and the family was first rate.

    Hidden Valley Road is the story of the Galvin Family of Colorado Springs Colorado and begins when Don and Mimi Galvin are teens in the 1950’s and continues through 2017. During this span of time, Don and Mimi Galvin will have 12 children and become important in genetic research due to the fact that six of those children will be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    The book includes a great deal of medical detail and information, but Kolker’s writing makes it very easy for the lay person to understand. Combined with his brilliant approach to telling the story of this remarkable American family, the complicated relationships between each of them, as well as the astounding family history, Kolker creates an unforgettable read.

    The book has received critcal acclaim and has been “praised for it’s astounding depth and empathy”. It was highly commended by Ophra’s Book Club and debuted number one on the New York Times bestseller list for nonfiction.

    Few American’s have not been touched in some way by mental illness in their families or their acquaintances, and I believe anyone can identify and appreciate this memorable multigenerational story of one American families heartbreak.

    *****Five Stars for Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

    Read last week’s review of Wolf Hall here.

    My current read The Imperial Woman

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    See this week’s top performing pin here, my book review of American Dirt.

    The link below is an affiliate link, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Heart Spring Mountain: A Novel by Robin MacArthur

    I wasn’t sure I liked this book in the beginning. In fact I put it aside to read another book and eventually came back to it and started again. And I am glad I did. I really did enjoy this story.

    We are introduced to Vale, a young woman living in New Orleans but raised in Vermont. Vale is estranged from her mother, but when her mom Bonnie goes missing during the 2011 Tropical Storm Irene, Vale returns to Vermont and her roots.

    Returning home for the first time in eight years, Vale rediscovers the poverty stricken region of Heart Spring Mountain, home to three generations of women before her. Through her search for her mother, Vale will find lost family history and secrets, understanding of pain and love from the past, and a love of her own. Vale will see for the first time the connection her ancestors have with the mountain, how it shaped them and thus her own life and the life of her missing mother.

    Beautifully written story of family ties, fractures small and deep, and healing.

    ****Four stars for Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur

    Read last week’s review of The Book of Longings

    My current read The Imperial Woman by Pearl S. Buck

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

    Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile

    Spectacular. I love Erik Larson’s writing and although my favorite is still Devil in the White City, The Splendid and the Vile was remarkable.

    I listened to this book on Audible and I recommend it for that….it is a very detail oriented story of Winston Churchill’s life and leadership during WWII and for me, the perfect kind of story to be performed on Audible.

    This book could easily have been called Churchill Myth and Legend. I learned so much about this remarkable man; his idiosyncrasies, brilliant mind, clever strategies, courageous leadership and remarkable oratory abilities – all strengths that helped him keep England out of the German’s hands. The entire world owes much to Winston Churchill still today.

    Listening to this book during the Covid-19 outbreak I found so many parallels to the current world crisis. Two different kinds of war. I kept coming back to the fact that wars can often be won by sheer will…but only if a true leader can keep the spirits of the nation high through courageous oratory and patriotism…none of which I see from the leader of the USA.

    The Splendid and the Vile is astonishing in its scope, extraordinary in its historic detail and noteworthy in its ability to bring Churchill right into your living room.

    *****Five stars for The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

    Read last week’s review of Motherless Brooklyn

    My current read American Dirt

    Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Go read this book.

    Gates, co-founder of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a talented writer and her eloquently told stories of people she has met through her work around the globe is an inspiring read.

    As a world traveler myself, I have witnessed stark poverty, extreme sexism, lack of education and powerful caste systems. I look upon these things and feel helpless at what I can do.

    Gates looks upon them and develops data and brings the issues to our attention, in her determined and candid narrative.

    Through the inspiring stories she tells, including many personal stories of her own background and marriage, the overall message is clear – if you want to lift up a society you must start by supporting and lifting the women and girls.

    Go read this book.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates. Read last week’s review of Girl Woman Other.

    My current read – Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Ann Patchett is definitely one of my favorite authors. I have loved several of her books; State of Wonder, Bel Canto, Commonwealth and now The Dutch House.

    I really love how the story is told by Danny, and his point of view of his sister Maeve and how their lives unfolds. The tight bond of the siblings and their exile from their childhood home defines everything about their lives and is the premise of the book.

    Maeve, the older and protective sister lacks initiative although she is brilliant. She deals constantly with poor health. Danny, the younger looks to Maeve throughout his life, and has difficulty finding his own peace from the events of their past.

    The story unfolds over five decades, wrapping around one house, and how that house and decisions made by people associated with it define the lives of Maeve and Danny – for better and for worse.

    A central character, the evil step-mother, I found downright chilling. Patchett’s development of that women reminding of someone I used to know. Frightening. Another character, the real mother, I found less believable and not as plausible.

    Patchett is a wonderful storyteller and I enjoyed this book as much as all her other novels I have read.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five stars for The Dutch House. Read last week’s review of The Testaments.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell

    Reading Wednesday

    From time to time I have moments that catch my breath when I think of a few near death experiences I have had in my life. The four moments that occasionally remind me of how lucky I am to still be kicking around. Three of these occurred in a car and one on a horse – inches and seconds from disaster.

    In her memoir I Am, I Am, I Am, O’Farrell looks back on her own life where she can count 17 separate incidents of stepping too close to her own death. Several instances the reader can easily relate to, while others seem unfathomable to most of us.

    But the part of the book that caught me somewhat off guard was the story of O’Farrell’s adult life struggle to keep her own daughter alive. A day to day process that involves constant monitoring of every item her daughter eats, breaths, touches…as O’Farrell and her family deal with a child with severe immune-system disorder.

    This is the first time I have read O’Farrell’s work although she has numerous memoirs and novels. I enjoyed this story dispite it’s sometimes gut-wrenching detail.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four stars for I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. Read last week’s review of Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Burmese Days by George Orwell

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    This book kept popping up at shops around Myanmar while I was visiting there last month. I had read Orwell in high school (1984 and Animal Farm) but never any more. But I picked up this paperback and decided to check it out.

    First of all it was clearly a pirated book. Although the cover looked like a Penguin Classic Book, the inside was printed poorly on cheap paper and within the first few chapters it began to fall apart. Oh well, I just kept trying to hold the book together.

    Written in 1934 the book is a fictional tale of the waning days of the British Colonial period in Burma (now Myanmar). This is a time when Burma was ruled by Britian from Delhi as part of British India.

    Orwell himself spent time in Burma, so the book (his first) is based on his first hand experience there.

    The book uses serious racist language that today is completely frowned upon, and reflects the true superior British societal approach to the people of Burma. The debasing effect the empire had on the native people of the time is frankly, disgusting.

    But I’m glad I read it. Even though Britian eventually revoked it’s colonial rights through out the region as well as in other regions, the deep scar Britian left is still today part of life in Myanmar and in other countries like India. Colonialism was and is a blight on people of the world and Burmese Days spells it out in a sad and honest tale of the people who were there.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for Burmese Days. Read last week’s review of Remarkable Creatures.