I enjoyed this book and actually learned more than I expected. I had read about a number of the characters in my ancient history studies and in histor...moreI enjoyed this book and actually learned more than I expected. I had read about a number of the characters in my ancient history studies and in historical novels or less broad histories in years past, but this book gave a broad overview of Normans in their various locations around the world for a few hundred years when they were at their peak of power and most influential.
Most of us know about Normans in Normandy, and of William the Conqueror of England who was a Norman. Most of us know the Normans had Viking-Scandinavia roots (Norman-Norseman), and I knew they had also migrated down the Danube and gone well into the Kievan Rus. But I was not aware of their strong influence there, in Sicily, or in the Middle east. I knew about Bohemond taking Antioch, but never before connected him with the Normans.
This filled in gaps in my historical understanding of Europe, and the ever interconnected web of families and political intrigue. In some ways, though their was no internet, no phone, no relatively instant communication, there was an amazing amount of interaction from one end of the Mediterranean to the other, as well as Britain, Scandinavia, France and Germany, the Byzantine and western Empires, North Africa, the Turks...the list goes on. The interaction, intermarriage, political intrigues, and long battle marches from place to place amaze me.
It is a very broad overview of the Normans in Western Europe and their extent, with specifics on a few who were particularly influential, powerful, or noteworthy for other reasons (not always good reasons) from the 900s to 1200 or so. The book left me wanting to read much more in depth about some of the characters. This book was a nice starting point. (less)
I am Orleana, Adah, Leah, and even Rachel, and perhaps poor dead Ruth May.
I am Orleana, barefoot, stabbing flowers into the earth, both angry and grie...moreI am Orleana, Adah, Leah, and even Rachel, and perhaps poor dead Ruth May.
I am Orleana, barefoot, stabbing flowers into the earth, both angry and grieving for my part in afflicting the young and unwilling with assorted gradations of religion that I find I cannot believe. I am Leah who sees with the eyes of different places, different races, different languages who knows that one way is not right for all, and who plainly sees the evil excesses and machinations of her birth country. I am Adah, reading backwards and forwards, playing with words, and letters, languages and numbers, observant, bitter, skeptical and gifted, without always knowing what to do with the clever gifts I been given. I am Rachel, a pale survivor, accepting, even embracing, her bad choices and plunging ahead anyway, creating a life for herself, damn what anyone else may think about it. I am Ruth May, a golden child playing mother-may-I, leading the others, a stubborn, joyful child, dying too soon…my childhood dying, that is. I could relate to all the women in this book, but most especially with Orleana and Adah.
Prepare your heart to break, and prepare for anger to rise if you read this book. At least I hope that is how you feel if you read this book. And yet there is always hope and forgiveness. I confess I am glad I never liked diamonds much, but I have many sins to confess over my love of a clear bright cobalt blue. Like Orleana I have paid the debt of not leaving soon enough that dark religion that wounded our family. Like her, I did not know how until it was too late to tear away without deep wounds being torn at the same time. To quote her, “I had no weapons for that fight.” Like her I paid the price of “loving that which I knew I could lose.”
I remember studying African history in college…Rhodesia (as it was called then), South Africa, Uganda, Kenya…other places too. I was a student then during the horrible times under Idi Amin, during the struggles of apartheid, Eritrea seeking its own place, the names of places in Africa changing so fast that globes and atlases could not keep up with the printing. But we were rarely taught the full extent of the complicity of American tax dollars in the arming of factions, the assassination of duly elected leaders, or the propping up of rapacious dictators. Not just America, but other countries as well. If you read this book, I would encourage you to use it as an opportunity to search out the historical characters it contains and read about them as well. (less)
For many years I avoided Stephen King, the same way I STILL avoid horror movies. I am a vivid dreamer, prone to nightmares, who has on occasion terrif...moreFor many years I avoided Stephen King, the same way I STILL avoid horror movies. I am a vivid dreamer, prone to nightmares, who has on occasion terrified her spouse by waking him up screaming, yelling, or moaning at night. Scary movies will trigger this phenomenon.
I made the mistake of reading Cujo, my first Stephen King book, back when my oldest sons were 1 and 3 respectively. Big mistake. To this day I am leery of electronic car windows and terrified of Saint Bernards. I was sure something similar would happen to me and my precious babies, and they would die in a hot airless car.
About 6 years ago my sister-in-law gave my husband Lisey's Story for Christmas. He is a voracious reader like me, but I was the one to read the book. I loved it. LOVED IT! It may just be my favorite book ever...surely in the top ten. Stephen King is also one of my oldest son's favorite authors, if not his very favorite. (He who was 3 when I read Cujo.) He majored in English in college and is even a more voracious reader than I am, including tons of Stephen King. So I was motivated to see what it was he liked so much. Now I see it. Stephen King is a master story teller. He takes the dark things we all hold inside, and lays them out for us to all see. He is such a phenomenal wordsmith that even if you don't like the story, you have got to love the writing.
Big long story with lots of characters...I am drawn to them. Some people complain about this in a book, and when I see this complaint in a review it actually moves me to read the book. This book had lots of characters, good ones, bad ones, loveable, sad, evil, scary, brave, young and old. Something for all of us.
I loved the Julia Shumway character. She's my hero. And I could totally identify with her and the details revealed about her life as the story unfolds. I'm glad she was one of the survivors.
I enjoyed loathing Big Jim Rennie and his cadre of mindless young thugs. I am glad the worst of the evil hoard got what they had coming, but the cautionary tale for the dumb sheep who followed and allowed the evil to live is a good lesson. A lot of innocents are hurt when evil is allowed to exist undeterred.
I could not put this book down. I should warn you, if you start it and get as hooked as I did to be sure to start the large tome on a long weekend or over a vacation, or you will go to work bleary-eyed and craving the next chapter to a maddening distraction.(less)
When I was a little girl I remember, whenever I was at my grandmother Hutton's house, listening to her clocks. She, or perhaps it was my grandfather H...moreWhen I was a little girl I remember, whenever I was at my grandmother Hutton's house, listening to her clocks. She, or perhaps it was my grandfather Hutton, collected clocks. Clocks with Westminster chimes. Every quarter hour several clocks would, in near synchronization, chime out the 4, 8, 12, or 16 simple notes of the measures of the Westminster chimes. To this day I love an interesting clock, not digital ones that throw a random number at me, but ones whose hands move about their faces with numerals to mark off in twelfths the segments of the day or night. Throw in beautiful craftsmanship, a sun and moon dial, a pendulum, a cuckoo...I am hooked. But until I read this book I had no knowledge of some of the most important and magnificent clocks ever made. I love micro-histories, so I tend to be automatically biased in their favor as a genre. I love learning new things. This book was fascinating, but I confess, tended to tedious at times. It was also frustrating to see how poor Harrison, the brilliant clockmaker, who was instrumental in creating a viable means for ships to measure longitude, was treated. In that respect the book was great...it evoked from me the strong emotional response to want to throttle those who treated him so unjustly, and to right old wrongs done him. I am pleased that his legacy is acknowledged today, and immortalized in numerous books. And in a museum. I would love to see those clocks he made. They must be things of incredible mechanical beauty. How he crafted them is more than I can comprehend. (less)
It was a little bit like "Catch me if you Can." I found myself rooting for the pair to pull it off. There were times when the book seemed to bog down a...moreIt was a little bit like "Catch me if you Can." I found myself rooting for the pair to pull it off. There were times when the book seemed to bog down a bit with the details of the plan, and I found myself disturbed, at times, by what seemed to be a change in the personality of the central character. He came off as a tad stupid and bumbling and naïve...sort of a milquetoast, but by the end he is almost obnoxiously bossy, clever as a fox, and dangerous as a serpent. I'm surprised the girl stayed. But there was also enough suspense in the story line, enough clever intrigue, to make me want to read to the end, and still hope for the guy to stick it to the credit card company. I found myself tense with anticipation, at times, wondering when the whole scheme would fall apart or be uncovered. I liked the ending. I REALLY liked the ending. Something a bit perverse in me, I suppose. (less)
Nice mystery, with a setting in Alaska that is a nice switch from either the gritty urban or small town settings where everyone knows everybody. This...moreNice mystery, with a setting in Alaska that is a nice switch from either the gritty urban or small town settings where everyone knows everybody. This is more like the small town, since everybody knows everybody, but considerably more spread out and isolated in the Alaska bush. Stabenow's descriptions of the town, homesteads, and local watering hole, the scenery, and lifestyle necessary to survive in Alaska adds to the ambiance of the story. If you like mysteries, but sometimes the settings seem same-old, same-old, I'd recommend this one for a welcome change of pace. (less)
I am a sucker for survival stories. Especially this kind. As a girl who lived in rural Appalachian Pennsylvania, who learned the ways of the woods, an...moreI am a sucker for survival stories. Especially this kind. As a girl who lived in rural Appalachian Pennsylvania, who learned the ways of the woods, and who was lost once in them (however much more briefly) I can appreciate from deep within the feelings and thoughts King gives young Trisha in the book.
I loved the weaving in of Tom Gordon and the Red Sox games. I am reminded of a line I read once that goes something like "We get the gods we imagine." Trisha got the gods she imagined, including god as Tom Gordon. Lucky for her.
King's imagination astounds me, and reading (or in this case listening to, since it was an audio book) his words is a treat for any literate soul. In a day when it is easy to publish any old schlock, it is comforting to know you can always pick up a book by Stephen King and find words pieced together by a master craftsman.
Whether or not you like the horror genre, and I confess it is not my favorite, reading a work by King is like finding a finely handcrafted piece of furniture, intricately carved, with secret compartments, oiled and buffed to a fine finish, and fitted with the perfect hardware to complement the piece. This is one of those pieces. I am looking forward to my next Stephen King audio book. For someone like me who pictures everything I read, I find listening to King in broad daylight gives me less cause for vivid and sometimes scary dreams at night.
But if King scares you, this is a perfectly safe book. SLIGHT SPOILER...it does not have a Cujo-like ending. This one leave you feeling triumphant and hopeful and brave. Ice water cool and smart. Thank you Tom Gordon and Stephen King. (less)
This was my first Barbara Kingsolver book. I confess I loved it. I lived in Appalachia, farther north from the setting of this book, in a very rural a...moreThis was my first Barbara Kingsolver book. I confess I loved it. I lived in Appalachia, farther north from the setting of this book, in a very rural area of Pennsylvania, where farming, coal mines, and poverty were the norm. We were outsiders who came to love the land and area, although by our speech were easily identified as non-natives, like Lusa. I loved the interweaving of the tales of the main characters, and I found myself identifying with aspects of each of them.
My father was a fine finish carpenter who, like old Garnett, lamented the loss of the chestnuts, and would point out to me beams of it in old area barns or in neglected antiques he would buy up at old farm auctions and restore to life, beauty and usefulness.
Coyotes are moving in along the river behind my house. I am always telling folk that the return of bears, coyotes, wolves, bobcats, and even cougars, are signs of a healthy environment, and it thrills my heart every time I hear of a bear or moose being sighted in my area. I grew up in the woods, played in the outdoors, and learned all the native flora and fauna of my small part of Appalachia. So I envied, a bit, the life of Deanna in this story.
Like Nanny, I love to study plants and birds, and bugs, and try to figure out the best ways to keep Japanese beetles off my apples and roses without poisoning the entire yard.
There was so much in this beautiful, almost poetic book that evoked familiar images and long buried memories for me. It is a beautiful book. Beautiful words, sad and joyful. Beautiful details of life and nature. I did not want this book to end. (less)
If you like the dark and humorously disturbing Finnish movie "Rare Exports" then you just might enjoy this story. The book almost seems to have been w...moreIf you like the dark and humorously disturbing Finnish movie "Rare Exports" then you just might enjoy this story. The book almost seems to have been written as a horror movie in the making. As a reader who tends to visualize the books I read, this made for a terrifyingly fun read. I can read some light horror, but I can never watch horror movies. This is not really my genre, but a few aspects of the book kept me reading. The author notes on his webpage that this was a book written years ago, and edited several times, removing much of the original humor. I can see that it was well edited...I think I only noticed one typo in the entire book, but I confess to skimming quickly over some of the more repetitive gory scenes. One can only handle so many disemboweled sheep. Sheep...seriously! Part of the dark humor. Sheep being led to the slaughter. I could still detect traces of the author's original humor, dark, sardonic and wry considering the nature of the book, but humor nevertheless. The impending doom that we inevitably knew was coming helped maintain the suspense, but how things would (or wouldn't) work out in the end kept me reading. The book was also a survival story, of sorts, and while not a fan of the horror genre, I AM a fan of survival stories. That is what probably kept me reading the book, that and the hero with whom I identified because of a common background in languages and linguistics, and the dismay of realizing our gifts are less valuable or needed in an internet age. The cast is an interesting assortment of smart but seriously damaged people, from the tragically damaged to the criminally damaged. And I really had to love the take on Roswell being the cover-up for what the government was REALLY covering up. It reminded me of the line in the movie Independence Day when a character points out "You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?" Ah, you gotta love a fun science fiction, government conspiracy, horror book sometimes, and this is a fine one to curl up with and get a few shivers. Oh, and if you like this book, consider watching "Rare Exports." You might enjoy it.(less)
Every now and then I find a writer I like. Not necessarily a great writer, but someone who writes in a style that I appreciate. Someone who knows how...moreEvery now and then I find a writer I like. Not necessarily a great writer, but someone who writes in a style that I appreciate. Someone who knows how to use words well, has vivid descriptive passages or subtly well-drawn characters, plots that keep me engaged, and a storyline that is not just the same-old same-old. I like the writing of Rosen Trevithick. I like how she takes me away to British places, since I am a sucker for British writing. But I especially enjoy the way she puts words together. I can see the places and people she writes about, and her plots always keep me guessing. Her one flaw is the lack of a good editor. I know how difficult it is to edit your own work, or even the work of a loved one or friend. The author would do well to find someone who will edit her books before they hit print. I would offer her my services free of charge since I so thoroughly enjoy reading her books otherwise. This story is set in the south of England and Cornwall, places I will always read about if I can. There are little mysteries and big ones in this book…from what the twins buried in the town green, to who are the twins? The story keeps unfolding, layer by layer, as each person adds their small bit of truth to complete the puzzle. It is a story of love, family, secrets…no spoilers here. You will just have to read it yourself and let the gentle mystery unfold for you. Don’t let the editing glitches deter you, for underneath there is a fine story. (less)
This book was okay, a fun read if you want a light, fast murder-mystery in a different setting. I was interested in the book particularly because the...moreThis book was okay, a fun read if you want a light, fast murder-mystery in a different setting. I was interested in the book particularly because the author is Scandinavian, and her setting is in Denmark. I enjoy reading books by authors who really are familiar with the cultures and locations they write about. The author does a great job with the settings of this story. I get to see pieces of Denmark through her eyes. I can't say the murder-mystery part was spectacular, but it was fun and fast, and a nice break when I want that sort of a read. I am working my way through her series, as well as a few other of her books I have obtained. I will enjoy seeing more of Denmark in her writings, and I know I'll have some quick fun murder-mysteries in my queue when I am in the mood for one.(less)
How did I miss this little gem when I was growing up? If you like a Father Christmas-Santa Claus-King Holly that is in the tradition of the ancient my...moreHow did I miss this little gem when I was growing up? If you like a Father Christmas-Santa Claus-King Holly that is in the tradition of the ancient myths where fairies and elves trolls and other-world creatures existed with men, then this is a Santa tale for you. Or your children.
This is a Santa that Tolkien might have written, very Hobbitish ot Tom Bombadilish in flavour, but even simpler, and fairly short. It was clearly written for children, but not dumbed down in language or content. For those of you who only know the work of Baum from the movie "The Wizard of Oz" or the musical "Wicked", then you are missing a whole world he created akin to middle earth, maps and all, with similar creatures with different names. It is as if Baum took the mythology that so influenced Tolkien, filtered it through the mouths of Nordic settlers in the American mid-west, changed the names of the creatures, then wrote these tales for a young American audience. Except that Baum wrote well before Tolkien ever did. I wonder if Tolkien ever read Baum, and was influenced by his works? If you haven't read this little treasure, It is well worth the effort. (less)
Once again Ingolfsson has utterly captivated me with a richly written work that weaves the ancient writings of the Flatey Book with a mystery, an enig...moreOnce again Ingolfsson has utterly captivated me with a richly written work that weaves the ancient writings of the Flatey Book with a mystery, an enigma, in 1960s Iceland. This book is like a table laden with all sorts of rich delectable dishes…just when you’ve tasted a new exciting flavor, another excellent tidbit excites the palate again. This is not a book for the squeamish. Our Viking ancestors were a rough and earthy lot. Ingolfsson doesn’t clean it up for us. Rural Iceland, as is any farming and fishing community today, is not an aseptic suburban life. Prepare yourself for rough seas, dead baby seals, and blood eagles. And some very realistic human characters, drawn with all their goodness and flaws. Ingolfsson lets us right into the minds of the characters, and we see the world as they do. I have found that Ingolfsson’s books paint incredibly vivid pictures of people, landscapes, and homes. His detail is clean, clear, and sparse, never slipping into tedious clichés or verbosity. I loved how Ingolfsson uses the ancient sagas so naturally in the mouths of his characters in his other books. In this book it is not only in the mouths of his characters, but acts as a framework for much of the book. I felt as if I was peeling off layers and layers of before finally seeing the work and the characters in its entirety. Yes, Ingolfsson is my new favorite author for now. Three great books out of three, so far. And all so different. Highly recommend this book, and if you know nothing of the original Flatey Book, here is a fascinating place to start. (less)
I really enjoyed this biography. Her perspective was fascinating, and the documentation of her changing views and feelings was well done. I love biog...more I really enjoyed this biography. Her perspective was fascinating, and the documentation of her changing views and feelings was well done. I love biographies, and this one did not disappoint. The author is only a few years older than I am, so the book spanned a time period I knew well. I understood and sympathized with her culture shock, wishing I could tell her that even some of us Americans might have felt similarly. Her attention to detail, the food, clothing, how they lived, helps make this biography especially interesting, and a record of places in a time of history that might otherwise be forgotten. (less)
This is a cleverly written book in that it will probably offend sincere believers, while causing astute historians to either giggle or yawn. I managed...moreThis is a cleverly written book in that it will probably offend sincere believers, while causing astute historians to either giggle or yawn. I managed to finish the book simply out of curiosity to discover where the author intended to take this story. I was pretty much disappointed all around.
The author managed to write a book about known biblical characters that made me like them even less than how they usually are portrayed by bad preachers. Mary comes off like a spoiled whiny twit, Joseph is clearly a modern (albeit sexless) metro-sexual in touch with his inner feminist, while his 15-16 year old son James is portrayed with the aw-shucks naivete of Kenneth on 30 Rock, which passes off as wisdom in this tale. In general, the character development was choppy, and seemed so out of place with the historical time era
I was hoping for at least some good historical descriptions and tidbits of fascinating historical detail, but found that aspect of the book lacking as well. The book just wasn’t very interesting. I supposed the fact that we all know how the story goes takes away any real suspense. I did enjoy his use of the Migdal Eder for the birthplace, a trendy idea that’s been making the church circuits lately. Had the author gone with the whole mystical, biblical, supernatural format The Migdal Eder idea would have made a nicely wrapped up OT/NT parallel climax to the story, but it just didn’t come off that way here. It was just suddenly dropped in as an idea at the end of the story, then off they go, and the story ends somewhat abruptly.
I almost gave it two stars, but I can’t really figure out who (besides the few folks who gave this glowing reviews) will really like this book. If you are a true believer, you will probably be offended. If you are a real Marian devotee you will assuredly be put off this book’s portrayal of her. if you are a Protestant who believes Joseph and Mary had a normal marriage after Jesus birth, you won’t like it either. If you are no sort of believer at all, don’t be suckered in by the reviews from offended believers thinking this book will just be a nice or realistic story in a well-researched historical setting. It isn’t. On the other hand, it is a very quick read, and if you can get it for free, it might fill an odd gap in your holiday reading. (less)
I am not sure how much I like Rebekka Franck. I enjoy the stories set in Denmark, in part to learn more about the country, its peoples and places. I a...moreI am not sure how much I like Rebekka Franck. I enjoy the stories set in Denmark, in part to learn more about the country, its peoples and places. I am the type of person who likes to travel with a book, and I am drawn to books written by authors who are writing about their home turf. There seems to be an authenticity in the details that I find fascinating. I can tell by the writing that English is not Francks first language, but I do not find the little odd turns of phrase or grammar to be a distraction...rather, they seem to add to the flavor that the book is set in a country that is foreign to me. The books in this series are not only mysteries, but they are a bit dark, and show a seamier side of Denmark than the tourist guide books might show. Even in the rural areas. Sometimes the stories frustrate me and seem almost trite, but I keep coming back to reading them. So I guess there is something in her writing that has me hooked. (less)