Sunday, November 24, 2013

Update: Books now on the Shelf

It's been awhile since I updated my literary accomplishments. I've poured through several books and still have more waiting to be read on the shelf. It seems there is never enough time to read, or if there is, I'm so tired I re-read the same sentence twenty times and then give up and go to sleep. I'd much prefer to be able to stay awake as I believe it's far more important to be present in my novel than at work the next day.

Since the last review here are the moments of fiction that entertained my mind...

The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman

I picked up this book because it was on the Books-A-Million book club list. And then it sat on the shelf for almost a year. Funny how life gets in the way of reading (see above-pesky job). Of course one might note without said job I wouldn't be able to purchase the books I read, but I disagree. The library is quite literally (used properly here) across the street from my house. Not only would I save $$ on books if was unemployed, I wouldn't even have to burn gasoline. But, I digress.

The Plum Tree is part history, part romance, all great. It chronicles the life of Christine Bolz just before her small quiet town is invaded and destroyed, albeit not completely in a physical way, but certainly in an emotional way, by the Nazi invasion. While Christine and her family are safe from capture - they are the right race, breed, and color - the boy she loves is not. He is 1/2 Jewish, but as those of us well read during this time in history know, it didn't matter - 1/2, 1/4, an 1/8, a funny look in your eye - Hitler was out to destroy. Her father is taken as a drafted soldier and Christine and the rest of her family, to include her grandparents, are left behind to endure the wrath of Hitler and the Gestapo (while her father endures his own brand of torture). Touching and real, a challenge to all that still believe intermingling of races is wrong (can't believe there are still people like this out there!), The Plum Tree is a gripping bildungsroman that touches not only on the moral development and coming of age of Christine, but the struggle to thrive under the guise of an unjust war and the effort it takes to do so.  ✯✯✯✯

City of Bells by Kim Wright

Now, as many of those that read my blog know, I've been following the Thursday Night Mystery Club since their debut book City of Darkness. I continue to love Kim Wright's work. She is the only self-published author I will read on a regular basis. Her work is cunning and full of suspension; City of Bells was no exception to this.

Set in India this time where the English have made themselves a home away from home, Geraldine Bainbridge finds herself recounting a lost love from many years ago. This, in and of itself, is a shocking plot line as Ms. Bainbridge is well-known throughout the series for despising the concept of a kept women. But, as the novel shows us, love has a way of changing hard and fast opinions of characters. The man she once claimed betrothal (although, not a real engagement) has found himself rotting in a jail cell. Mr. Everlee knows that if anyone can get to the bottom of his innocence, it's Ms. Bainbridge. And this, my friends, is true. With permission from the Queen, Trevor, Rayley, Emma, and Davy head across the pond to India looking to resolve a man's innocence and justifiably arrest the right killer, but with all activities, it's never easy. Upon arrival, the bodies start piling up and the clues start fading fast. In the end, there is a twist I didn't see coming this time. Another triumphant novel! ✯✯✯✯

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Ah Chaucer, a bit ahead of Shakespeare for his writing, but a few well placed anachronisms make me question the time period of writing more and more. I admittedly read this one for school, but that made it no less enjoyable. The classics are full of literary merit (hence why they are classics) and Chaucer's Tales expose the both the good and the bad of humanity shrugging off the exterior stereotypes to find the essence of man. His tales are expertly woven through framework of both truth and lies and the reading enjoys a comfortable rhyming presence throughout making the work fly by. Starting with a prologue for introducing all the characters, the work takes the reader on a journey to Canterbuy. Since iPhones were not yet available, they told stories to pass them time; the winner upon return earning a free dinner for the best tale. His characters range from nobility to absolute filth, and each in turns weaves a tale that evokes laughter, pity, empathy and sympathy. A well-rounder literary read. ✯✯✯✯

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Another read for school, but no less entertaining. Sir Gawain is part of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. A thrilling story about the boldness, and lack thereof, of a Knight. Given a challenge by the Green Knight, Sir Gawain steps up to face it and in the end struggles with his follow through. A lively debate was sparked in my classroom about whether or not he was a good Knight. Worth the read, if for no other reason: one should not walk the earth without a working knowledge of Knights. ✯✯✯

What I'm reading now:

Bodies of Water by by T. Greenwood. This is also another book club book and I'm desperately hoping to finish it in time to actually GO to the meeting. This book is great - it's not what I thought it would be - but the writing is so well developed I'm pulled deep into the story despite my personal thoughts on the subject matter. It's tender and moving.

Up next:

The Fault in our Stars, John Green - encouraged by my students, so I must oblige and I love John Green!

The Hound of Baskerville, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - just because it's time for a good Sherlock Holmes story.

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