Susanna Quiner hid while she watched four of her sisters being violently torn from their home by a party of Potawatami warriors. Is this the opening s...moreSusanna Quiner hid while she watched four of her sisters being violently torn from their home by a party of Potawatami warriors. Is this the opening scene of a propaganda piece designed to show us how savage the original inhabitants of North America were? Thieving Forest by Martha Conway may seem that way initially, but this story line is more complex than readers might think. It takes place in early 19th century America. The novel’s portrayal of the period is neither utopian nor dystopian. Martha Conway goes for realism. There are both horrific events and wonderful ones.
The capture of these sisters isn’t what it appears to be. Each of the Quiner sisters has her own individual destiny. Susanna is determined to restore her family to the situation that had existed before they were captured, but neither her sisters nor their home were ever going to be the same. This is a lesson that Susanna learns over the course of the novel.
A book about a Rabbi’s cat sounds like it would be cute and whimsical rather than dealing with any serious themes. If you wanted a cute and whimsical...moreA book about a Rabbi’s cat sounds like it would be cute and whimsical rather than dealing with any serious themes. If you wanted a cute and whimsical book about a cat, there are plenty out there. This is not one of them. Joann Sfar, who wrote these Rabbi’s cat graphic novels, is an award winning author precisely because of his themes.
Communication is a central theme of this novel. There is a Russian character who isn’t understood by the other humans when he first arrives, yet the Russian and the Rabbi’s cat had no problem communicating. It’s pointed out in this book that the ability to communicate is based on the ability to listen. This may seem obvious, but failure to listen is a common problem in all types of communications. This means that even when there is no language barrier, humans are incapable of understanding each other when they aren’t listening. A translator is found for the Russian, but he still isn’t always understood.
Since the Russian is an artist, this book also deals with the orientation of Judaism and Islam toward art. So the question arises as to whether art is idolatry, and if so under what circumstances. The Russian artist also has an interesting response on the subject. He tells us that each art work is a prayer addressed to God. I have always been interested in the dilemma of Jewish artists, and interpretation of the second commandment which forbids graven images.
This is definitely the most interesting graphic novel that I have read in 2014.
I can see how English schoolchildren would love this book. From my adult perspective, it seemed too facile and marvelously coincidental. I also didn't...moreI can see how English schoolchildren would love this book. From my adult perspective, it seemed too facile and marvelously coincidental. I also didn't consider it the ideal resolution. The original problem of half-Romany children not being accepted in the Romany community still exists.(less)
After too much grimdark, it's a relief to have a fun read dealing with music. Epigraphs from "A Song For St. Cecilia's Day" reminded me of singing Nor...moreAfter too much grimdark, it's a relief to have a fun read dealing with music. Epigraphs from "A Song For St. Cecilia's Day" reminded me of singing Norman Dello Joio's version in my university chorus in the 1970s. I just revisited this version on You Tube with this 2013 performance https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q16Nk.... Songs in the text had me singing along or humming the tune under my breath depending on whether I was at home or on mass transit when I was reading.
I also liked the portrayal of Phryne's friend Dr. John Wilson, and reading about his history with Phryne when she was driving an ambulance in WWI. I was astonished to learn from Kerry Greenwood's notes at the back of the book that he was intended to be Dr. Watson to another character who was intended to be Sherlock Holmes.
Greenwood has an unusual perspective on Holmes. She says that she thinks that women are better at the sort of deductions based on keen observation for which Holmes was known. Such generalizations will always turn out to be at least partly false. I am a woman who isn't very observant at all because I live inside my head a great deal. I would never make a success at crime investigation. So I'll leave that to law enforcement professionals, real life PIs and fictional detectives in mystery novels who may be of either gender. (less)
I like Norse mythology, but opinions on this subject can vary widely. This is why I tried not to let it bother me when the author said that there was...moreI like Norse mythology, but opinions on this subject can vary widely. This is why I tried not to let it bother me when the author said that there was a rune that signified God, but not any God in particular. I personally don't know of such a rune. I went through my books on the Elder Futhark and couldn't find such an interpretation of any of the runes. That doesn't mean that this interpretation doesn't exist. I've just never heard of it. It really depends on perspective.
I personally thought it was odd to read a book about a Valkyrie dedicated to Odin, but the dramatic fulcrum of the plot was Thor. It seemed as if Odin was helpless without Thor which didn't seem right to me.
Why did the author choose to introduce figures from Greek mythology when there were figures from Norse mythology who could have handled the situation? I think it's likely that the author is more familiar with Greek mythology than Norse mythology, but I could be wrong.
I won this book from Booklikes and received an e-copy from the author. I wanted to like it more than I did.(less)
My main motivation for wanting to read The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick was my interest in reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine on crusade in fict...moreMy main motivation for wanting to read The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick was my interest in reading about Eleanor of Aquitaine on crusade in fiction. . One reason why I gave a pass to Christy English’s novel about the early life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, To Be Queen, is that I read a review on Goodreads which stated that English’s novel glossed over the crusade. I am glad I chose Chadwick instead. I downloaded The Summer Queen from Net Galley, and this is my review.
The first thing I noticed when I began to read The Summer Queen demonstrated her interest in accuracy. Chadwick used the medieval spelling of her central character’s name, Alienor. I hope readers will forgive me if I continue to use the familiar modern spelling in this review.
By the time I finished The Summer Queen I realized that character development in this book had been well-handled .
Eleanor’s first husband, Louis of France, could easily have been portrayed as a stereotype of medieval piety. Chadwick gives him more depth by showing us the incidents that motivated him. Louis is by no means admirable, but his attitudes are understandable given his history.
I hadn’t expected to like the young Henry of Anjou who would later become Henry II King of England, because I knew that he would later mistreat Eleanor. Despite this foreknowledge, he managed to charm me as a reader while he was doing his best to captivate Eleanor.
The next two volumes of Chadwick’s trilogy deal with territory that is more familiar to me, but I confess to wanting to experience Eleanor’s novelistic perspective on Becket’s murder in the cathedral. So perhaps I will be visiting with Chadwick’s version of Eleanor in the future.
Why did I decide to read this book? It's about a medieval woman who studied Talmud and married a very prominent Rabbi. I have read Maggie Anton's book...more Why did I decide to read this book? It's about a medieval woman who studied Talmud and married a very prominent Rabbi. I have read Maggie Anton's books about Rav Hisda's daughter, and I'm interested in reading about other Jewish women who were scholars. Unlike Rav Hisda's daughter, who is mentioned in the Talmud, the protagonist of this novel is fictional.
The description of this book says that the protagonist, Shira, was rebellious. Shira's father, a Rabbi in Falaise, France, had allowed Shira to study in the same classroom as his own students when she was a small child. She never assumed that she would be limited to the domestic sphere when she married. Considering how repressive her husband was toward women in general in his official pronouncements, modern readers might not think she was rebellious enough. Although her relationship with her husband, Meir, had its stormy periods, she evidently loved him and was notably loyal to him even when she didn't agree with his opinions. She tried to do what was expected of her as a Rabbi's wife. As such, she played a supportive role in his life.
As students of medieval history know, the situation for Jews in medieval Europe continuously declined. Shira and her husband had to deal with all the terrible manifestations of Christian persecution. If there was any peace and joy to be had in Shira's life, it was temporary. I was impressed by Shira's ability to persevere and recover from every horrible trauma that she and her community endured. Shira may not have been a feminist in our terms, but she was a strong woman. I am here today because there were women like Shira who sustained their families, and picked themselves up after every disaster.