Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bookworm? Guilty as charged

All these just in the past couple of months?  Ok, so maybe it does make sense that the running joke at Book Club is finding a book that Martha HASN"T read.

This book we read for our winter book club selection.  I had read it before, several years ago, and thought "sure let's read it again".  It's a historical fictional account of the the Sarajevo Haggadah, one of the oldest surviving Jewish illuminated texts.  The story takes the reader all over the world:  with the focus being war-torn Sarejevo.  While I enjoyed it the second time around, I left realizing how little I actually know about world history, especially as it relates to the conflicts between Muslims-Jews-and Christians.

 This book I actually picked out on a whim.  I was eager to see how the Ipad worked with my local library's system and it was the first book I came across that was "available to download NOW".  (while my library has loads of digital books available, many were already checked out, and I wanted instant reading).

What a pleasant surprise this book turned out to be.  It is set post-WWII and centers on a young Polish couple that is reunited after 6 years being separated from each other.  Can you imagine being a newlywed, with a new baby and war breaks out.  Your husband goes off to serve his county and you are left to fend for yourself?  Both the husband and wife suffered greatly during the 6 years and the author did a great job of telling each of their stories while also telling their story of being reunited.
 This was another book club selection...and one I hadn't read.  It's written by a Colorado author, who after years of teaching The Scarlet Letter to her students, decided to write about what happened to Hester and Pearl after the Scarlet letter ended.    I'm sure I read Scarlet Letter in high school (isn't it required reading) but didn't remember the details.  After reading this book, I'm curious to go back and re-read Scarlet Letter and see how the Hester created by Hawthorne compares to this Hester.   Maybe this summer?
 Maeve Binchy has always been a favorite author of mine.  Think easy beach read style of writing but set in Ireland.  As is her typical style, she tells the stories of many different characters with them all coming together either throughout the story or at the end.  I admit:  the story itself was rather hard to believe as being possible:  A woman dying of cancer, reaches out to the baby daddy and asks him to raise this unborn child.  The baby daddy takes on the challenges with the help of his community, and manages to kick his alcoholic habits in the process.  If only life's stories really were that simple to solve:  but that's what makes me enjoy this author:  she puts such a happy spin on even the saddest of stories.  Check this one out when you just need some happily-ever-after type stories.
 Speaking of's another story that is a mixture of happiness and heartbreak.  I read this one based on the reviews of my friend.  The story is told by Doug, the 14 year old new kid in town.  The author does a great job of getting the voice of his protagonist just right and the issues he faces will bring you to the brink of tears.

Keep the tissues handy, you'll need it for this one as well.  My friend Fran gave this book to me at Judy's memorial service, with only the words of caution "probably don't want to read it RIGHT now". As I read it later (as she suggested), I could instantly tell why she cautioned me about reading it in January:  the story is told through the eyes of the family dog.  A wise and loving dog...and I couldn't help but picture Judy's dog, Nemo telling a similar story.  Dogs really are man's best friend!
And the last one for this review...Chains...another book suggested by Ganelle.  A young adult work of historical fiction, it is set in the early days of the Revolutionary War and tells the story of a young slave girl.  I enjoyed the author's perspective and found myself intrigued as I realized what a difficult position slaves were placed in during this time in history.  My only complaint was how the story just ended.  Luckily, the last page alerted the reader that this is book one of a trilogy.  You know what I'll be reading next:  Book Two!

So there ya have it....I can spend hours reading (and yes, my house sometimes reflects that I have done nothing but read all evening).  I enjoy going away on an adventure with a book and look forward to having even more time to read with summer vacation fast approaching (Counting down:  25 days of work left, YEAH BABY!)

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