A successful WWII columnist, Juliet Ashton, has just published a collection of her popular wartime columns. But now she's looking to write a "meatier"A successful WWII columnist, Juliet Ashton, has just published a collection of her popular wartime columns. But now she's looking to write a "meatier" book, she just can't find a topic she wants to live with throughout years of research. Then she receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, a native of Guernsey. He shares with her that her copy of Charles Lamb's book, The Selected Essays of Elia, helped him throughout the Nazi occupation of his island and asks her to help him find more of Lamb's writing. A correspondence begins between Juliet and Dawsey, and ultimately the other members of his book club.
The characters in this book were wonderful. I was in love with all of them. They weren't all book lovers when the war started, but by the end, they had experienced how books can make the unbearable a little more bearable. The letter format lets you know the characters more intimately.
I think that, other than the characters, what made this book really click with me was that it was obviously written by a book lover for book lovers. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books."
"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers."
"It was amazing to me then, and still is, that so many people who wander into bookshops don't really know what they're after--they only want to look around and hope to see a book that will strike their fancy. And then, being bright enough not to trust the publisher's blurb, they will ask the book clerk the three questions: (1) What is it about? (2) Have you read it? (3) Was it any good?"
"Because there is nothing I would rather do than rummage through bookshops, I went at once to Hastings & Sons Bookshop upon receiving your letter. I have gone to them for years, always finding the one book I wanted - and then three more I hadn't known I wanted."
"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment."
Who here on GoodReads can't relate to these quotes? Who can't relate to the way that the characters discover what a light books can be in your own personal darkness? I recommend this one to booklovers everywhere....more
This book, the first in a series, is too big to easily sum up the plot and do it justice. Basically, Robert Baratheon led a revolt against the old kinThis book, the first in a series, is too big to easily sum up the plot and do it justice. Basically, Robert Baratheon led a revolt against the old king of the Seven Kingdoms when he was a young man. Now that he's middle-aged, he's found that he was more interested in fighting for the throne than he is in sitting on it. He calls on his oldest friend, Ned Stark, to take the office of the Hand of the King, and effectively leaves him to run the kingdom while Robert hunts, womanizes, drinks and has a good time. But people have noticed that Robert isn't truly a king, and his throne is vulnerable to vast conspiracies.
That synopsis does this no justice. There are so many different plots woven into this epic, it's incredible. The characters are wonderfully depicted and complicated. The story is told through the eyes of many different characters. From Ned's daughter, Sansa, an 11-year-old girl who is too romantic and prim and proper for her own good, to the cynical dwarf, Tyrion, who is the king's brother-in-law, each character has something to say and a unique voice to say it in. But it never gets confusing. Just in case, though, there's a "family tree" of characters at the end to help keep everyone straight, but I never had to use it.
For an 800+ page book, I really ripped through this. I picked it up to read just a little one night and I was over 60 pages into it before I realized it. For such a huge book, it really was hard to put down. I got sucked into each character's story and lost track of the time. And this happened every time I picked the book up. It's hard to maintain that kind of pace across a book this big.
I love fantasy, and I can't believe I've never picked this up before. In fact, I don't think I'd even heard of it. I just happened to pick it up at a library book sale. But now that I've found it, the other books are going on my wishlist. Fans of epic fantasy will love this, and I'm even tempted to say that fans of historical fiction will like it. So far the only thing "fantasy" about it is the fact that it's set in an imaginary world. But I can see where that will change in the following books, so that might not be a good idea. Your call. But I highly recommend it....more
Vida Winter is called the Charles Dickens of her age. No one has ever been able to find out the story of her life. Any reporter who tries gets a beautVida Winter is called the Charles Dickens of her age. No one has ever been able to find out the story of her life. Any reporter who tries gets a beautiful story, but still, it's only a story. But now Vida is old and sick and she must share her story with the world. She chooses Margarate Lea, amateur biographer, to write the final story that everyone has been waiting for.
I loved this! It has a very dark, gothic feel to it that reminded me of both Jane Eyre and Rebecca. Vida's story is full of twists and turns and is a delight to read. If you like the Bronte sisters, pick this one up. It's perfect for a dark and stormy day....more
Liesel Meminger is a ten-year-old girl living in Nazi Germany and being sent to live with foster parents when her younger brother dies. This is the fiLiesel Meminger is a ten-year-old girl living in Nazi Germany and being sent to live with foster parents when her younger brother dies. This is the first time she comes to the attention of Death, our narrator. This is also the first time she steals a book. It's entitled The Grave Digger's Handbook. She learns to read using this book, and she begins to feel the power of words. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll keep the rest of this vague. She continues to steal books, she lives, she loves, she endures more loss, and she somehow manages to surround herself with shining souls in a world that is being lost to the dark.
I would give this book more stars if I could. I was trying to tell my husband how fantastic this is and I was reduced to a stuttering mess of, "So good...power of words...just...you know... so good...I loved it...she just, you know...I mean...I loved Papa...did I mention that I loved this book? No, I mean, I really loved it." That's how I feel, staring at this big, empty review box, trying to find the words to say why everyone has to read this book that I loved. Just read it. Good enough?
Also, this is marketed as a YA book. In all honesty, this is a book that anyone could revisit time and again at different stages in his or her life and pull something different from it every time. Don't be put off by the YA label. I promise you, you'll regret it if you dismiss this as a book for teenagers. It probably actually gains something as readers gain more of their own life experiences.
I'll try to give a little more about why I actually loved this. Death is the narrator of the book. He's perfect for the role. He's completely outside the politics of WWII, he's just there to pick up the souls. Which is not to say that he's without compassion. He's fascinated by humans, but he's repulsed by us too. He can sometimes be judgmental. This line hit me hard, when he was picking up souls from a concentration camp: "They were French, they were Jews, and they were you."
Another theme throughout the book was that of missed opportunities. Don't put off doing something because you might not get another chance. This seemed to be especially true in WWII.
A big theme was the power of words. One character realizes that Hitler's power lies in his words, and slowly paints over every page of his copy of Mein Kampf. Liesel is trying to steal some of that power for herself by stealing the books.
I fell in love with these characters, even some who at first glance seem like they might be unloveable. They all have surprising depth to them. I loved Liesel; I loved her new Papa, who reminded me of an uneducated, blue collar Atticus Finch; and I loved Liesel's friend Rudy. You have to love a boy who is a legend in Nazi Germany for painting his skin black and impersonating Jesse Owens in a hero-worship kind of way.
Really, my feelings for this book are summed up by a line from the book itself. "I have to say that although it broke my heart, I was, and still am, glad I was there." Read it....more
Stephen King's short stories are always scarier to me than his novels. He leaves just enough unsaid for my imagination to take over and then I'm jumpyStephen King's short stories are always scarier to me than his novels. He leaves just enough unsaid for my imagination to take over and then I'm jumpy for days....more