Rereading The Book Thief after almost 3 years was interesting. When I read it the first time, I found it a suffocatingly stressful read. This reactionRereading The Book Thief after almost 3 years was interesting. When I read it the first time, I found it a suffocatingly stressful read. This reaction surprised my book club, who (in spite of the subject matter) didn't find it so overwhelming.
This time, it didn't hit me the same way, and I was much more able to appreciate the characters and events in the story.
Read May 2007 for Mc book club Read March 2010 for LM Book Club...more
I found this book delightful. It was a sweet, fun read, while still having real content.
I wasn't sure if the approach of an entire book written in letI found this book delightful. It was a sweet, fun read, while still having real content.
I wasn't sure if the approach of an entire book written in letters would appeal to me, particularly in audio. Having a different narrators for the different letter writers was brilliant. Not only did it help keep track of the characters, but it helped bring each one to life. I really enjoyed the voices and the accents.
Even with that, I did struggle to keep the characters straight when I was about 1/3 of the way in. Others that read the book on paper said they had the same issue. If I hadn't been planning to discuss the book at my book club and then review it for my blog (and other places) I wouldn't have worried about it. Luckily, the confusion didn't last long.
The book was able to keep a nice balance between exploring the hardships of life under occupation during WWII and the lighter storyline of Juliet's quest for a story to write about. I find I am more able to grasp the bad when it is contrasted with good, rather than drowned in more terrible things.
This book was a book club pick for one of my book clubs. I probably wouldn't have picked it up if we hadn't been discussing it, particularly since I tThis book was a book club pick for one of my book clubs. I probably wouldn't have picked it up if we hadn't been discussing it, particularly since I tend to think I've had enough of WWII through my other book club. In the end, I'm glad I read this one.
The book is the story of Trudi, a dwarf woman in Germany before, during, and after WWII. She is an observer of her town, never quite fitting in. She collects the stories of the people that live there, making the book full of ripples of stories intersecting as she considers and sometimes tells them.
We see a town that seems to be of good people, until Hitler comes to power. Some embrace Hitler as a savior of the German people. Others think it best to go along and not make waves, that everything will be better soon. And others do what they can to resist, either in the open (which quickly gets them captured or killed) or under cover of darkness.
I had some minor problems that got in my way while reading the book, but they were the exceptions.
The language in Stones from the River is beautiful. It is unusual for me to say that without combining it with a complaint that it got in my way while reading the book. It did slow down my reading. The book is a slow read, which helps explain why only two out of five of us at the book club meeting finished reading the book-- a first in over nine years of this book club.
We still had a good discussion of the book, and everyone said they planned to finish reading it, even with what we gave away of the ending....more
Henry was a boy torn between the Chinese world of his parents, and the American world he was living iMaybe 4.5 stars.
This was a beautiful love story!
Henry was a boy torn between the Chinese world of his parents, and the American world he was living in. His parents said they wanted him to be American, but none of them really understood what that meant, or what effect this would have on their relationship.
Through Henry's relationship with Keiko, the reader learns more about who Henry really is, even at that young age, but also gets a portrait of the complexity of living at that time-- the tensions between white and Asians, but also between those of Chinese and Japanese ancestry.
I particularly liked the different ways that we saw Henry-- As a young boy, as he grows up tremendously over the course of several years, as an older adult, but also through the eyes of his adult son, and through his actions towards others, particularly his friends.
The contrast between how his adult son sees him and how he sees himself was particularly enlightening, illustrating how he continued through his life to be torn between America and his father's world of China.
The lengths that young Henry went to in order to try to preserve his link with Keiko (and the naivete displayed in his plans) were touching. Everything that he lost during this time (and how it compared to all that Keiko lost) was thought provoking.
Most of all, the writing was always compelling, truly delivering Henry's story to the reader. ...more
In this book, Turner learns that adults don't always do the right thing, but that doesn't stop his attempts to do so.I enjoyed listening to this book.
In this book, Turner learns that adults don't always do the right thing, but that doesn't stop his attempts to do so.
Thinking back on it, the book could be seen as heavy on the lessons, but the story was about Turner learning them, and they were well balanced with the more adventurous aspects of the story.
For the most part, Turner seemed like a real kid to me. Perhaps he was a little too good to be true, but he wasn't perfect. I liked seeing how he grew as the book continued. The secondary characters were an interesting bunch. . Just as I'd start to think that although they were interesting, they were also flat, one of them would surprise me with some character development.
I'll recommend this book to my 11 year old. I actually wish I'd saved it for our upcoming road trip, I'm not sure I'll want to listen to it again that soon....more
I don't read very much historical fiction, and I'm not sure why this one caught my eye, but I'm glad it did.
Sacred Hearts drew me in to a different plI don't read very much historical fiction, and I'm not sure why this one caught my eye, but I'm glad it did.
Sacred Hearts drew me in to a different place and time. It gave me interesting characters, a compelling storyline and drew an extremely rich picture for me.
I liked the contrasts between the two main characters-- I didn't identify with Serafina at all, but Suora Zuana really spoke to me. The idea of this clearly brilliant woman, who makes a home for herself where she can advance her science, even when there is no place for her in the society of the day, really called to me.
There were a number of interesting side characters. I particularly was drawn to the views the different nuns had of what was right, and what behavior was justified as a means to that end. Most of the women really believed they were doing God's will, but some of the things they did appeared to me (and others in the book) as quite reprehensible.
By the end, I was very much enjoying the plotting of a complicated scheme, and watching it unfold.
The writing was wonderful.
When I mentioned that I was starting Sacred Hearts, several people warned me that it started slowly, but once you got past the beginning, the rest of the book was wonderful. I had a different experience-- I was drawn into the world immediately, but the story bogged down for me in the middle. However, once it started moving, it really went, and I didn't slow down again....more
This book just seemed to go on and on, with not much happening, and no significant insight into Darcy's character.
The narrator didn't help matters forThis book just seemed to go on and on, with not much happening, and no significant insight into Darcy's character.
The narrator didn't help matters for me. I didn't enjoy his voice. He did a competent job with the reading, but he's not going to be a favorite of mine.
My main problem is that during the course of this book, Darcy has no life other than worrying about his love life, worrying about his friend's love life, and writing beautiful letters to his beloved younger sister. All of these are fine, but I'd seen Darcy to be a man with some substance behind him. I just don't see it in this book.
I did like the concept. I loved Darcy's valet. Some of the other secondary characters have promise of being developed in the later books. I'm just not sure I'm going to bother to read them....more
I've always enjoyed the mixture of a modern story with a historical romance in these books.
Although I like reading it, the current day plot is gettingI've always enjoyed the mixture of a modern story with a historical romance in these books.
Although I like reading it, the current day plot is getting a bit thin-- Eloise Kelly is an American in England, working on research for her dissertation on spies in the Napoleonic wars. She's hit a vein of useful papers, and met a very interesting man, who happens to be guardian of said papers. Romance and research! A villain was introduced in this volume, which adds promise for the future installments.
The meat of the book is the historical story. Until now, these have featured typical regency characters-- the woman with flaws that are modern day virtues, the men who are strong but ready to fall in love.
Mary Allsworthy is beautiful, and really a bit of a bitch. She knows what she wants, and figures out what she needs to do to get it. She isn't mean-spirited, but other people aren't really a priority with her.
Lord Vaughn isn't a particularly nice guy. In fact, those somewhat in the know are suspicious of whether he is in league with the Black Tulip, an infamous French spy.
As you would expect, they both end up involved in the spy ring, and once you've been involved in a government plot together, can true love be far behind? Of course,there are complications, and of course they explain why Vaughn has become the unpleasant fellow he seems to be.
I like the historical notes at the end. Of course, the author could be making those up as well, and I'd never know.
An entertaining adventure with a slightly unusual romance, and a modern day framing. It works for me.
I thought that this book sounded interesting, but I was wary of reading it-- I usually find plots involving infidelity hard to sympathize with. In thiI thought that this book sounded interesting, but I was wary of reading it-- I usually find plots involving infidelity hard to sympathize with. In this case, it didn't get in my way.
I did keep wondering how much was based on fact, and how much was from the author. It does appear the outline is from the historical record, which is pretty cool!
The strength of this book is in the characters, but also in the setting. It was interesting to examine how the attitudes of the time influenced the events of the book: if there was not expected for woman to marry, would the situations of the book have arisen in the first place?...more
When I first read it, I loved it right up until the moment I realized that they really weren't going to be able to wrap it up by the end of the book.When I first read it, I loved it right up until the moment I realized that they really weren't going to be able to wrap it up by the end of the book. Since there was almost 6 months until the second book was released, I wasn't happy.
I finally reread it, with All Clear at hand, and wow! This is an amazing book, even if it's only half the story. ...more
I've now read this twice. The first time was shortly after it came out, about 6 months after I read Blackout. This is one very long book, sp4.5 stars.
I've now read this twice. The first time was shortly after it came out, about 6 months after I read Blackout. This is one very long book, split into two volumes, and that was too long of a break, which caused me tremendous frustration.
All in all, I found my second read, where I went directly from Blackout to All Clear much more satisfying.
Some of the same confusion remained for me. The reader was meant to use the types of bombs falling on London to keep the timeline straight, and that didn't work very well for me. I think some of the confusion about which characters were which was deliberate-- the reader is not supposed to be certain if two names are referring to the same person at a different time or not. I can live with that.
In the end, these books had:
A brilliant picture of life of ordinary people in England during World War II. Some fascinating characters, in extraordinary circumstances. A great examination of the issues and paradoxes of time travel.
As well as great writing, some humorous moments, some touching moments, Agatha Christie, codes, spies, courageous people of all ages (male and female). What else can you ask for?
(I don't think this includes any true spoilers, but it wanders closer to that line than I usually do, since I really want to talk about how the book c(I don't think this includes any true spoilers, but it wanders closer to that line than I usually do, since I really want to talk about how the book changes from beginning to end. I don't think that anything I say will change your enjoyment of the book, but as I'm usually very careful not to give away where a book goes, I thought I'd include a warning.)
The book probably deserves higher than the 4 star rating I gave it. I read it in two sittings, and really enjoyed it, but I think I didn't fully give it the credit it deserves.
This is a beautifully written book. This is one of the aspects that I didn't fully appreciate. I think that was a focus of this book, and I simply don't read books for the words, I use the words to deliver characters and a plot.
It seemed to me that the book was two different stories. The first was an adventure, as Leo finds his way from Hungary to Shanghai, meeting the love of his life along the way. Leo's establishing himself in Shanghai (and the risks he takes to do so) belong to that part of the book.
In this part of the story, the plot was compelling, as was the writing. The characters fell a little flat for me, particularly Martha. I don't believe in love at first sight, and Martha and Leo's relationship seemed to be based on her beauty and his charm. I wasn't sold on this supporting them as it did through the story. Overall, I think I should have found Leo more interesting than I did at that time.
The second section of the book seemed to start when Leo settles in Shanghai. His adventures become more subtle as he takes on a new role in the local society. There is larger scale chaos from the was and politics of the era, and it certainly has an effect on the events of the novel, but it isn't the focus anymore.
I liked Heart of Lies best when it focused on Leo's daughter Maddy. Here, the characters take precedence over the plot.
Overall, I found this an interesting, intricate, well written book.
Heart of Lies has quite a bit in common with The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell. It's been 2 1/2 years since I read it, so the details are fuzzy in my mind, but I wondered if the characters in there knew the characters in Heart of Lies. It seems that the clever businessman, who could make money appear from nowhere, was a common type in Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s. They both had daughters they doted on but were willing to live apart from as well.
The section focusing on Maddy also reminded me of another book, but one so long lost in the mists of memory as to be unrecognizable. It might be a Madeleine L'Engle book, but not one of her better known ones. ...more
I enjoyed Claude and Camille, and yet found myself wishing for something a little more, or maybe a little different.
I never really connected with theI enjoyed Claude and Camille, and yet found myself wishing for something a little more, or maybe a little different.
I never really connected with the character of Monet. Through the book, I got to know him as a person, but I'm not sure he was a person I would have particularly liked. He was driven by his art, and this left him feeling entitled to support from his family well into his 20s, and led him to live beyond his means at several different points in his life. I got something of a feeling for him as a painter, but not as a genius. I never saw through his eyes as an artist who changed the artistic world.
But Claude and Camille wasn't the story of a painter, it was the story of a relationship. With that perspective, I was much more interested in the character of Camille. I didn't understand or agree with her decisions either, but somehow I found her more accessible, and I think I would have loved the book if it was told from her viewpoint.
Camille was a young woman so swept away by her love for her young man that she ran off with him, living with him and bearing his child in a day when women of her class just didn't do such things. She also suffered from very dark periods, where even getting out of bed was difficult, and living the life of an artist's wife was nearly impossible.
I loved the look into a setting that I wasn't particularly familiar with. I also was unfamiliar with Claude Monet's background, so I can't speak at all to how closely the book sticks to the commonly known story....more