Really enjoyed this book. Touching, colorful, held my interest well. I knew where it was going early on, but it was well worth the read. From ArizonaReally enjoyed this book. Touching, colorful, held my interest well. I knew where it was going early on, but it was well worth the read. From Arizona to California, to Istanbul...peoples' lives interweave in a fascinating way because of choices they made and their ancestors made. I have never especially wanted to visit Turkey, but after reading this book, Istanbul looks much more interesting to me. But not in a touristy, or historic way. In a real life, normal people live here kind of way. In, of course, a fascinatingly, historically interesting place....more
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 historI 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. ...more
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 grieI 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. ...more
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 terrifFor 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....more
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 HWhen 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. ...more
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 aIt 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. ...more
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. ThisNice 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. ...more
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 aThis 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. ...more
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 theThis 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....more
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 myHow 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. ...more
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 enigOnce 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. ...more
I really enjoyed this biography. Her perspective was fascinating, and the documentation of her changing views and feelings was well done. I love biog 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. ...more
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 aI 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. ...more