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    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

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Yep, another World War II story.  I actually didn’t like this book in the beginning.  But then as the story unfolded I began to enjoy it solely because it takes a different angle on the Nazi Germany story.  The view from the German side.  Not the Nazi side, but the German people and women in particular who learn to survive under Nazi rule, doing whatever it takes.

    The focus is on Anna Schlemmer, the mother of Trudy a professor of German History in Minneapolis.  Anna was in Germany during the war, but has refused to talk about it all her life. For fifty years Anna has remained silent about what happened to her and Trudy (only three at the time) during the war. Until Trudy begins to uncover details about her mother, her father and what really happened in the small town German town during WWII.

    Heartbreaking story of Anna Schlemmer’s life, love and loss.

    A story of resistance, love, regret and ultimately judgement for a family and those they loved.  It’s a timely tale – one with a message we should all consider.  What did we know, what did we ignore, what survival tactics did we use, and in the end, who suffered because of it.  A timeless question.

    Three stars for Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

    Read last week’s review of Ahab’s Wife.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star Gazer: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Epic.  An overused word.  And yet, I can’t think of another one to use here.  Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund is Epic.

    More than 700 pages, this story follows the life of Una, a child in Kentucky in the early 1800’s enduring a childhood with an abusive father who rants bible verses and cannot show love to her.  At age 12 Una is sent to live with her aunt and uncle who are lighthouse keepers on an island in New England.  Her second life unfolds on the island with a loving family and an education, yet she yearns for something more. Something she can’t imagine but knows is out there.  She begins to understand her future has more in store for her when two young men, Kit and Giles, arrive on the island.

    My favorite part of the novel begins when Una takes her life into her own hands and adventure ensues.  The third life of Una is a remarkable journey when she masquerades as a boy and stows away on board a whaling vessel out of Nantucket.  The nerve of this young girl to pull this off!  I was enraptured in this tale of life and death on the high sea.  And there is a lot of death.  A dangerous business is whaling and Una (known as a boy as Ulysses) experiences everything onboard from suicide, drowning, sickness, fierce storms and eventually cannibalism.  I couldn’t stop reading.

    BUT I had to stop reading because it took me forever to get this far in the book, and my three-week library loan of the kindle edition was up.  Argh!  I had to go back on the waiting list to finish the story.  Six weeks went by before I was able to once again join Una’s odyssey.

    Una finds herself saved (more than once) from death, is married (more than twice) in life and experiences the loss of a child, a mother, dear friends, a husband.  She survives poverty and indulges in riches. Her intelligence intrigues her with science and literature and many people pass through her life that inspire and teach her and make her stronger. The author inserts numerous real life authors and scientists into the story that enrich Una’s life and the novel.

    She lives her life fully no matter what her current situation is.  

    But her fourth life, her life as Ahab’s wife is both the happiest and the saddest of her days.  For multiple reasons, all of which make the story so bountiful and an amazing read.

    I won’t tell how it ends as she begins her fifth life.  This remarkable tale is one of my favorite reads in a very long time.  It is a very long book, taking a major commitment to read, and worth every minute.  It feels like a biography, but it is pure fiction, fun, exciting, beautifully written and of course, Epic.

    This book is nearly twenty years old but I had never heard of it.  It was recommended to me by someone on Facebook but I can’t remeber who (was it you? Tell me!).

    Both my husband and I loved Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star Gazer: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund. Five Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Read last week’s review of The Velvet Hours

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review the Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review the Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

    It wasn’t until the end of this book when I was reading the authors notes that it became clear to me.  I knew that something seemed familiar as I got to the end of this novel.  And then I remembered.

    Alyson Richman became fascinated in 2014 with a news story of the discovery of a Parisian apartment that had been locked and sealed for 70 years.  I remember that story, and pictures of the apartment I saw online.  I too was fascinated because it seemed like something out of a novel.

    Well it now is.  Richman researched the people involved with that locked and abandoned apartment, and found very limited information on them.  And no information as to why this apartment had been left for 70 years, only to be discovered after the death of Solange Beaugiron, the grandchild of Marte De Florian who was the owner of the apartment and the fascinating and valuable treasures inside.

    So Richamn invented a story that takes two real people and puts them in a fictional tale that follows love and loss in Paris from Montemarte in 1888 to Paris at the beginning of WWII in 1940, to New York in 2010.

    An inventive and intriguing story.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for the Velvet Hours.

    Read last week’s review of We Were Liars


    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review We Were Liars by e. lockhart

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book Review We Were Liars by e. lockhart

    I was nearly through this book before I realized it was a Young Adult novel.  That explained some things.  I have read many YA novels and I love them usually, but it’s helpful to know before you start.  Generally YA has a simpler writing style and plot.  And We Were Liars is all that.

    I don’t want to give away the big twist at the end of the book, but I knew it was coming.  It was a bit too obvious to me from very early on, perhaps that is because it’s a YA book.

    I enjoyed the book, a story of a ridiculously privileged and entitled East Coast family.  A family of wealth and prestige but behind the scenes they are unraveling.  The annual summers on their private island become fraught with loud arguments over money and inheritance, while children and teens listen and plot their own solutions that end very tragically.

    If you read a book called the Lace Reader, you will find a very similar end to the story – a bit of a disappointment for me, but I’m sure a heart-stopper for a young adult reader.

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️Three stars for We Were Liars

    Read last week’s review of The Enchantress of Florence