Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

I am drawn to book lists in the newspaper, a magazine, on the Internet.  Any book list will do but not necessarily the New York Times Bestseller list, even though I peruse it often.  I'm fascinated books others consider worth reading.  That doesn't mean I read everything on a list but I pick and choose. My own personal preference is fairly broad and there are only a few topics I automatically bypass.   For example, even though Stephen King is a brilliant and popular author and appears on all sorts of book lists, his stories scare the bejesus out of me so I won't ever read them. 

Most of the titles currently on my Kindle have come from lists in O Magazine, USA Today, or book articles tucked into the final pages of Time.  I have to admit though that I have no idea who or what turned me on to The Silent Wife.  In fact after I started to read it I had to keep referring back to my Kindle home page because I couldn't remember the title. That I can't remember might be attributed to a variety of things but that I don't know where I found this book or even why I downloaded it, is a mystery.  It seems there are an awful lot of books right now with the word 'husband' or 'wife' in the title so maybe I got confused.  Menopause has a tendency to do that.

I couldn't put down The Silent Wife.  I stayed up way past my bedtime reading and woke up early to read some more.  Jodi is a psychologist who likes her life orderly and precise.  She been with Todd for twenty years and he too likes the routine that life with Jodi provides.  However, now middle aged, Todd has a wandering eye and when he becomes involved with a much younger Natasha, life as they know it falls apart.

That is all I am going to tell you about the plot.  The Silent Wife is full of twists and surprises.  The story is perfectly written first from Jodi's and then Todd's point of view.  The author paced the story with such care, I remained on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  It's rare that a book can make me drop everything else in my life until I find out what happens next.  The Silent Wife did exactly that up until the very end.  Even though I can't remember how I stumbled upon The Silent Wife, I'm certainly glad I did.  This book is a fabulous find no matter how it made its way onto my Kindle.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blind Vision by Vivian Jeanette Kaplan

Blind Vision by Vivian Jeanette Kaplan

Mrs. Kaplan's husband asked me to read Blind Vision since I am such a fan of her first book, Ten Green Bottles.  When I first read Ten Green Bottles, I didn't know that Jews in Europe had been allowed into China to escape the Nazis during World War II. I was fascinated by this slice of history and fell in love with Mrs. Kaplan's family story. 

I consider myself knowledgeable about a variety of topics, however Blind Vision educated me on another historic period that I didn't know anything about.  The book tells the tale of Alfonso and his family during the Spanish Inquisition.  He and his siblings have all been baptized in the Catholic church.  On his 13th birthday, his parents take him to a secret room in their home to teach him of their true faith, Judaism.  The family are Crypto Jews who must conceal their traditions from the zealous leaders of the Catholic church if they are to continue to live and prosper in Spanish society.  King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain rule at the command of the church and decree to expel all Jews from Spain.

Alfonso's journal is discovered by Stefan, after the death of his aunt.  She has hidden it in an old chest and tells Stefan to read it.  On her deathbed, she asks to be buried as a Jew. He is surprised and shocked by her revelations.  He enters a synagogue for the first time to make arrangements for her burial.  His conversation with the rabbi sends Stefan's own life into a tailspin while he struggles to find his true identity. In a modern era, Stefan faces many of the same prejudices as his cousin Alfonso.

Fear of the unknown has driven the actions of humans throughout history.  Today we continue to wrestle with religious faiths that differ from our own.  Why?  History has proven to repeat itself. It does so because of ignorance and fear.  Mrs. Kaplan has done her research well.  And even though this is a fictional account, it is deeply layered in historical fact.  Once again she has educated me for which I'm grateful.  Blind Vision is not only a story about the persecutions of Jews in society, it is a reminder that we must never forget the past if we are going to move forward to a more peaceful and loving world.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Grateful For Today

About a year ago, a new cell phone tower was erected not too far from my home.  From it flies a very large American flag, that I can see each morning when Ginger and I go for a walk.  And every morning when I see it, I say thank you to God for bringing us to this wonderful town full of friendly  people and good fortune.  The flag is a welcome sight each morning against the always gorgeous sunrise.

This morning Ginger and I took a different route on our walk.  With nothing special on our agenda for today, I paid little attention to the landscape around me.  Frankly, I wasn't even aware of what day of the week it was.  Dates have become more difficult to remember as time passes on.  I still have trouble believing it's already September.  Where does the time go? After breakfast I got in my car to run an errand.  As I turned the corner, I could see the cell phone tower flag at half mast.  I gasped.  Today is 9/11. 

I will never forget that time in our country's history.  For me, I was 3000 miles away from home on a business trip.  Only expecting to be away for 3 days, the trip stretched out to 10.  I watched TV from my hotel room, tears streaming down my face.  Calls home were hard to make, the lines jammed more often than not.  I found myself stuck in a strange place, longing to wrap my arms around Richard so we could grieve together.  That was not to be. 

Even though I was far from home, I was not alone.  During that time no one was a stranger to me, nor I to them.  People I barely knew, welcomed me to their homes, invited me to dinner, took me to the movies.  Everyone sympathized with my desire to be home and without hesitation opened their hearts to me.  Their kindness lives on, to this day, inside me.

So after my errand,  I made a detour to the local firehouse.  Outside is a memorial which contains a steel beam from the World Trade Center.  I stopped there to say a prayer for the past, the present and the future.  May we never forget that we are all Americans, strong and steadfast in our beliefs and together we can fill the world with love and hope. I prayed for all the people whose path I crossed during those dark days and I thanked God for my many blessings.  On this solemn day, I can gladly say I'm grateful to be an American.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

I've read a slew of mediocre novels lately.  When that happens I am usually very annoyed for devoting so much time to something I didn't enjoy.  I decided it was time for something out of the ordinary, something light, funny, likeable.  I'd been eyeing Georgia Bottoms at the bookstore for awhile.  The cover is so cute and besides I have a very dear friend named Georgia.  And much to my surprise, when I went to the clubhouse library in the community where I live, to donate all my uninteresting books that I didn't want taking up space on my shelves, I found a copy of Georgia Bottoms.  I snapped it up, because what's not to like about a free book?

I fell in love with Georgia  Bottoms from page one.  She's a southern gal, from Six Points, Alabama, who loves to cook, and I don't mean just dinner.  Long before she was born, her grandmother changed the family name from Butts to Bottoms.  That says just about all that needs to said about Georgia and her family.  Brother enjoys going out for a drink after his court ordered AA meeting each week.  Little Mama, her mother, is showing signs of dementia.  And Georgia never misses a Sunday in church even though she's not a believer.  In a small town like Six Points, it's crucial to keep her image squeaky clean.

Georgia Bottoms is delightful.  The characters are so expertly created, I wanted to visit Six Points to meet them.  Georgia is sassy and witty with a big dose of Southern charm.  I couldn't help but like her.  The author has a magic touch when it comes to humor.  The lines that made me laugh the hardest were slipped in when I least expected it. The story moved along seamlessly and Georgia Bottoms was exactly what I need to restore my faith.  Bottoms up for Georgia Bottoms!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kick On by Kelly Jennings

Kick On by Kelly Jennings

If you know me, you know that if I start a book, I'm going to finish it.  No matter what.  Many of my friends have tried their best to convince me that it is a waste of my time and energy to suffer through a book that I'm not enjoying.  There are so many more good books out there waiting for me. 

I have improved along those lines over the years.  Lately I've read so many mediocre books even though the title had made it onto a bestseller list. I want to make sure that what I read is current with a few classics thrown in just because I love them.  As a struggling writer myself, I feel it's important to give like minded people the attention they need to get their works into the hands of the book reading public. Someday I will ask them to return the favor.  In the case of Kick On, I simply had to put it down and move on.

I met Kelly Jennings at a Christmas affair at Harmony Farms which is nearby.  We had a nice conversation about her love of horses.  She signed my copy and a portion of the proceeds from her books sales went back to the programs for children at Harmony Farms.  To me, her passion and charity seemed to be an excellent reason to buy this book.  Plus I'm not very good at saying no.

I think I gave Kick On a fair shot by reading the first 100 pages of a 500 page novel.  There were so many grammar and punctuation errors, it distracted me.  The writing was barely even fair, descriptive words repeated over and over applying them to unrelated people, places and things.  Lauren, the main character, seemed shallow and distant.  As much as I'd like to help a new writer like myself succeed, I couldn't find anything in Kick On to hold my interest. A good editor might be able to save this story by first shaving off a good 100 pages of unnecessary words and limp descriptions. 

Good luck, Kelly but Kick On just wasn't for me.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff It's World War II in Leningrad, Russia.  17 year old Lev elected to stay behind in the city when h...