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Reading wednesday

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Reading Wednesday

    Another interesting novel about the atrocities of World War Two.  Not my favorite of all the WWII books I’ve read, but very good.  In particular because the story revolves around a little known event in Paris in July 1942 called the Vel’ d’Hiv – a round-up of Jews in Paris.

    Rosnay follows the lives of two different females, ten-year-old Sarah, a young Jewish girl who is arrested with her family in July 1942.  Not by the Nazi’s, but by the French Police in Paris. And Julia, an American journalist living in France in 2002.

    Sarah’s life is forever changed when she and her family arrive in Auschiwitz during the German occupation of France.  The Jewish Roundup of July 1942 in Paris is not well-known, and France is, rightfully, ashamed of the part they played in the event, which killed thousands.  Sarah survives but, as the story unfolds you learn the immense price she pays.  Shocking.

    Julia’s life, sixty years later, crosses path’s in a somewhat too convenient way in the story line for me. But nonetheless, it does and she begins a search for Sarah and her family and the truth about the Vel’ d’Hiv.  Julia’s research will affect her life, in fact change the direction of her life, in a remarkable way as she finds herself drawn to Sarah’s story.

    I enjoyed Sarah’s Key particularly for the historic information I learned, the story line about Sarah and the sad but beautiful ending.

    Four Stars for Sarah’s Key.

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Varina by Charles Frazier

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Varina by Charles Frazier

    You may not know her name, but her story is incredible.  Varina Davis, the wife of Confederate President Jefferson Davis endured a remarkable and tumultuous life not of her choosing.  I loved this book by Charles Frazier.

    Frazier, author of one of my all time favorite books Cold Mountain, has an incredible talent to bring the Civil War into a human story.  Like Cold Mountain, Varina tells the story of those who may not have been on the battlefields, but who were fighting the war in their own way.  The story of just trying to survive.

    Varina, a young women with little prospects, finds herself pushed into a marriage with the significantly older Jefferson Davis, who continues to mourn the loss of his first wife and true love.

    Despite their tumultuous marriage their family grows and Davis, as we know, eventually accepts the Presidency of the Confederacy states when the Civil War begins.

    Varina, is left mostly on her own, to raise the children during the horrible war of the states.  She is one of the most intelligent, courageous and amazing female survivors I have had the pleasure to read about.  The loss of people she loves, particularly her children, brings her to the brink and yet she endures.  Her courage during her flight with her small children from Richmond at the end of the war is remarkable. It however, does not end happily.

    Varina is an important American historical figure, who is little known and rarely written about.  I loved the story, particularly because it shines a light on an American women, whose story has been lost in the glut of Civil War stories about men and soldiers.  She deserves to be remembered in history for her courage, her life’s tragedy, and her life’s realization that complicity carries consequences.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five Stars for Varina.

    Read last weeks review of The Wife Between Us here.

    This blog contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you make a purchase.  All money earned goes back to the maintenance of this blog.  Thank you.

     

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Wife Between Us

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks, Sarah Pekknen

    Well I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.  Here we have another book trying really hard to be the next Gone Girl.  Not. Even. Close.

    I’ve said this before, in the wake of the mega-hit Gone Girl there has been a lot of similar ‘cat and mouse” stories with twists and whodunnit plots around relationships.  None have lived up to the jaw dropping way Gillian Flynn wove the story of Gone Girl.

    Same goes with The Wife Between Us.  And it’s a bit unfair.  Because I like the book.  What I didn’t like was it was raved about as a suspense thriller in the vein of Gone Girl.  So my expectations were too high.

    Here we have again a story of relationships gone awry.  One mate or the other just isn’t exactly what they seem to be.  But who is it?  And what is really going on here? Hendricks and Pekknen take you on a ride through the relationship of Vanessa, Nellie, Emma and Richard.  A tangled web of lives intertwined in unimaginable ways and unraveling in even more unimaginable ways.

    Maybe I’m just too happily married to the man of my dreams to be able to fathom any reality in books such as these.  But perhaps there is truth here…perhaps there is psychopathic spouses, obsessive behaviors, and those who, in the name of love are blind to the truths right in front of them.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for The Wife Between Us

    Read last week’s review of Wonder here

    This post contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you purchase this book.  All money earned goes back to the cost of maintaining this blog.

     

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review of Wonder by R.J. Palacio

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Wonder by R. J. Palacio

    Sweet.  That is the word that comes to mind about this book.  I’ve been wait listed for this book for ages, and I know many of you have probably read it.  I’m a bit late to the game.  I’m so glad I finally got ahold of this sweet story.  Such a feel good book.

    This is a very easy to read story.  You will fall in love with Auggie Pullman, the “ordinary boy with an extraordinary face.”  I sure fell in love with him.  Mostly I fell in love with his courage.

    August Pullman has a severe facial deformity.  He has spent his whole life enduring stares from kids and adults alike. People who judge the book by the cover of course.  But never take the courage to read between the lines.

    But those people who really know Auggie, those who love him as the human boy he is, those are who tell the story.  Interspersed throughout the book are Auggies thoughts and feelings as told by Auggie, and then the views of the people around him, and what it’s like being Auggie’s family and friends.

    This remarkable story, now a major motion picture, really brings to light our prejudice and perception, and sparked the movement known as Choose Kind.

    At the end of the book, as tears flowed down my cheeks I highlighted this passage “shall we make a new rule in life? Always try to be a little kinder than necessary.”

    Honestly.  Can that be so hard?

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five Stars for Wonder – everyone, young and old, should read this book.

    Read last week’s review of Americanah here.

    This post contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you purchase this book.  All money earned goes back to the cost of maintaining this blog.

     

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

    I struggled with this book.  It is so many things and I battled with myself to figure out what this story was; a love story; a story of race; a story of immigration; or perhaps all of the above?

    This epic novel by Adichie clearly puts her in a class of modern-day writers who can dissect the nuance of race in our society, our culture and our world.

    Americanah is the story of two love struck teenagers in military led Nigeria whose lives take separate paths.  Growing up in Nigeria Ifemelu and her boyfriend Obinze imagine America through the novels they have read and the TV and movies they have seen.  But when Ifemelu goes to post-graduate school in Philadelphia she encounters for the first time “being black”.  Her years in America bring her to write a blog about being African in America, what it means, how it feels and the dislocation that it brings to Ifemelu.

    Eventually Obinze immigrated to England, but he struggles to obtain the elusive national security number that will allow him to work legally.  Instead he finds himself caught between two worlds, one foot in two countries never feeling at home, secure or happy.

    Adichie is a master in describing the American contradictory behavior of trying to justify it’s recent past of segregation, while she also has a clear grasp on the British political correctness of the idea of foreign-ness.

    Americanah is an epic novel following the lives of two people whose love endures despite years, miles and the struggle of finding where you belong. It is a story of passion, struggle, belief, race, patriotism and above all else, it is a story of being human.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Four Stars for Americanah

    Read last week’s review of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

    This blog contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you purchase this book.  Any money earned goes directly to offset the costs of the maintenance of this blog.  Thank you.

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I started reading Kristin Hannah ALONG time ago, when she was doing romance novels.  She, like her writing, has matured into an excellent storyteller.  I prefer her recent works much more than her early books.

    However, I struggled with the first few chapter of The Great Alone.  But I am glad I stuck with it, because it is a beautifully written and compassionate tale of love and turmoil within ourselves, within our families and within the unpredictable wilderness of Alaska.

    One of the reasons Hannah is able to so accurately describe life in Alaska is revealed in the acknowledgments chapter at the end of the book.  Here Hannah talks about her own upbringing with pioneering and adventuresome parents, who eventually settled in Alaska to open an adventure lodge.

    So perhaps there is a little of Hannah in The Great Alone’s main character, 13 year-old Leni.  Leni, an only child, struggles to understand her parents passionate but often violent relationship, and her fathers PTSD from his time as a POW during the Vietnam War.

    When Leni’s father Ernt decides to move the family to a remote and off-the-grid cabin in Alaska, the  family unravels and the story begins.  Wholly unprepared for Alaska and its long, dark, fierce winters, Leni, Ernt and Cora Albright begin a life of subsistence, barely surviving if it weren’t for the help of neighbors and the folks of the small town of Kaneq.

    The long dark winters take a toll on the already fragile psyche of Ernt Albright, and one extreme violent night will change the direction of Leni and Cora’s life forever.

    Does love conquer all?  Sometimes yes, and sometimes absolutely not.  In the end The Great Alone is one thing – a story of survival.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Five Stars for The Great Alone.

    Read last week’s review of The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

    This blog contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you purchase this book.  Any money earned goes directly to offset the costs of the maintenance of this blog.  Thank you.

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

    This fascinating saga that earned Buck a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 is another novel I found amongst the hundreds of books in the library of the house we have lived this past month.  What a treat to stumble upon this classic and carefully created tale of life in China in the late 1800’s.

    Buck herself spent most of her life in China, as a child of missionaries her writing talent bloomed amongst the fascinating culture and history that surrounded her.  Buck’s many books on China were not her only accomplishments as she was an activist and human rights leader.  She was the first female  awarded the Nobel Prize for literature.

    The Good Earth is a sweeping story of the life of Wang Lung.  The story is told in the third person but always from the point of view of Wang Lung as he navigates the life of a farmer in rural 19th century China.

    Throughout the story it is the connection to the land that is the overriding theme; always the land brings wealth, food, riches, happiness even to a humble farmer as Wang Lung.

    Throughout his life he battles prejudice, injustice, draught, famine, war, floods, infidelity, and death.  In the end only trying to keep his land for his sons.  In fact, at the end of The Good Earth I kept thinking about the book Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison ( movie “Legends of the Fall” 1994 starring Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, Aiden Quinn and Henry Thomas) where a similar theme of family ties to a father and land, as well as greed, war and love creates a spectacular family saga.

    Even though Buck’s novel The Good Earth is 86 years old, it is a classic that  everyone should read, perhaps more than once.

    Five Stars for The Good Earth.

    Learn more about Pearl S. Buck’s amazing life here.

    Read last week’s review of Black Beauty here.

    This blog contains affiliate links and we may be compensated if you purchase this book.  Any money earned goes directly to offset the costs of the maintenance of this blog.  Thank you.