This is a beautiful novel about a girl living through the hell of Nazi Germany in the late 1930's and early 1940's. At the age of ten, Liesel Menninge...moreThis is a beautiful novel about a girl living through the hell of Nazi Germany in the late 1930's and early 1940's. At the age of ten, Liesel Menninger is placed with a foster family. Her new mother is abrasive and foul-mouthed, and her father is a warm, gentle person. Luckily, bother her new mother and father are kind-hearted. Initially she is illiterate, but her father patiently teaches Liesel how to read. She gains comfort and courage from the books she "steals" and reads. She develops a deep friendship with Rudy, the boy next door, and with Max, the Jew who they hide in their basement. Liesel is feisty, and gains courage as she grows older while her world crumbles around her. Along the way, Max invents some short stories that are wonderful metaphors for himself and for Liesel.
This is the book to read, folks. It is told in the first person, from the point of view of Death. While some readers find this to be a banal trick, I find it to be a unique viewpoint, spoken in a very intelligent manner. Death points out the ironies and unfairnesses of life for humans. Also, colorful imagery and fine character development give the story a wonderful narration.
I listened to the audiobook version, as read by Allan Corduner. He does a fantastic job at bringing the story to life.(less)
This magical fantasy opens in 1899 in New York City. A jinni from the Syrian desert is released from a flask, where he has been trapped for a thousand...moreThis magical fantasy opens in 1899 in New York City. A jinni from the Syrian desert is released from a flask, where he has been trapped for a thousand years. A golem is wakened by her "master" while on board a ship bound for New York. Her master dies on the ship, and she is set adrift without a purpose. She is fully grown, but just a few days old.
The jinni is made of fire; he has a talent for working with tin--his own internal heat can melt the solder, and he learns to turn out works of art. The golem is made of cold clay; she can sense the wishes and desires of others. She must learn to ignore these wishes, so as not to reveal her true nature. She must not become angry, lest her emotions override her intellect, and turn her into a monster of super-human strength. (The comic-book character "The Hulk" is modeled after a golem.) The dispassionate golem meets the fiery jinni, and this sets into motion a romance among the tenements, streets and parks of New York.
I enjoyed this book, as Helene Wecker writes with a flowing style that never gets bogged down, and does not get overly sentimental. There is romance and action, but the story never becomes maudlin or melodramatic. I felt transported to the streets of New York, directly into the cultures of immigrant Jews and Arabs at the turn of the century.(less)
This is a good story, a bit predictable, but quite suspenseful, nevertheless. The story centers on race relations on board an ammunition ship during W...moreThis is a good story, a bit predictable, but quite suspenseful, nevertheless. The story centers on race relations on board an ammunition ship during World War II. An all-black crew is led by a very bigoted white captain, and four white commissioned officers. A few bigoted white non-commissioned officers also help to make the ship a virtual "powder keg". A murder is committed on board the ship, and a white officer and a black seaman--a police detective in civilian life--team up to solve the mystery.
I didn't read this book--I listened to the audiobook. The reading, by Joe Barrett, is fantastic. The four white officers on board are musicians and the narrator sings one of the songs. Quite extraordinary on an audiobook. And the many accents that Barrett reads into the sailors voices, from all parts of the country, seem realistic to my ears. Don't read this book--listen to it!(less)
This is an engaging book, following the Sarajevo Haggadah through centuries of history. The only character I found somewhat unbelievable is Hanna Heat...moreThis is an engaging book, following the Sarajevo Haggadah through centuries of history. The only character I found somewhat unbelievable is Hanna Heath's mother; can an educated mother really behave like that?
I listened to the audiobook, and found Edwina Wren's rendition very good; her varied accents helped a lot to keep the various characters distinct in my mind.(less)
What a fantastic book! Mary Doria Russell is my favorite author--and she did not disappoint me in this book. I don't usually read westerns, but this b...moreWhat a fantastic book! Mary Doria Russell is my favorite author--and she did not disappoint me in this book. I don't usually read westerns, but this book gripped my attention and kept me turning the pages. This story of "Doc" John Holliday is not at all what I expected. This book covers only the period of time when Holliday lived in Dodge City. In this book, Holliday was a kind-hearted, generous Southern gentleman, with an amazingly liberal attitude toward life. Even though the book contains an afterword that tries to elucidate which parts of the story are true, it is difficult to tell the difference between the myth and the true man.(less)