Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

Thank you to NetGalley for my advanced copy of The Wives of Los Alamos. I thoroughly enjoyed every single page.  This novel has a release date of February 24, 2014.  Pre order it now.  You won't regret it.

The wives and families of the scientists, physicists, construction workers and support personnel who worked in Los Alamos lived in secret.  Their husbands knew they were building an atomic bomb but couldn't tell their wives why they had come to a dry and secluded place in New Mexico without being able to tell anyone where they had gone.  Everything about Los Alamos was foreign to them. They had trouble remembering the new names they were given upon arrival.  They were given a house based on the size of their family.  Their lips became chapped. And when all they wanted to do was soak in a hot bathtub, the home only had a shower and the water wouldn't come on anyway.

What I loved most about this story is that it is written in first person plural.  First person plural is unusual and only an extremely talented writer can pull it off. The women seem to march through this period of their lives together yet the reader has a very clear sense that the wives had different views of the sequestered life they were living.  They liked each other and some they couldn't trust, some loved their husbands and some sought love elsewhere, some made the best of it and others simply could not.

This slice of history in the early 1940's during war time is fascinating.  The decision to work on building a bomb of mass destruction under the cloak of secrecy took a heavy toll on the families.  Yet the wives often made me laugh.  Their positive attitudes kept them going.  The Wives of Los Alamos  keeps this story alive in a delightful way.  I adored every minute of it. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Illegal Gardner by Sara Alexi

The Illegal Gardner by Sara Alexi

This title looked interesting when it popped up on Book Bub.  It was cheap so I bought the Kindle version.

From the beginning, the characters and the story made no sense to me.  Juliet, sometimes spelled Juliette, moved to Greece to escape a nasty divorce.  She did translation work.  Because that was her profession, I found it odd that she initially lacked so much knowledge and compassion for a person of a different culture.  Aaman, from Pakistan and illegal, helped her with her garden.  She had no understanding that he had come from a society where women took the back seat often taking offense at his actions or failure to say thank you.
The book was filled with repetitive phases, such as "the cockerels were crowing" and typos galore.  I skipped alot of it without missing any part of the story.  Your time will be better spent on something else because for me the cockerels simply crowed one too many times. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart

My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart

My friend, Elaine and I went on a shopping spree of sorts at the local Sam's Club the other day.  After lunch of a Sam's hot dog and a soda, we sent our husbands back to work getting a new Baer's Furniture store open.  We needed a little break.  She is suffering from tendonitis in her foot, so she was wearing a boot and riding around in the electric cart.  We'd stop and look at things and if it was something Elaine wanted I'd get it off the shelf for her.  I can't go anywhere without stopping to look at the books, so when we came to that section, Elaine stopped the cart and we discussed the titles for sale. 

"I wouldn't usually read these kinds of books but for some reason her story interests me," I said thumbing through My Story. "She's so pretty."

"Let's get it.  We'll share." Elaine answered. Into the basket it went along with a few others.

In the parking lot, we divided up the stack of books.  I took My Story.  By page two, I couldn't put it down.  Elizabeth's story is well known.  She was kidnapped from her own bed in the middle of the night and spent nine months in the clutches of mentally deranged man and his wife.  At age fourteen she survived what to the rest of us is unthinkable.

Never having been in the middle of a situation such as this, it is difficult to understand the kind of hold this man had over Elizabeth.  My Story explains that in the voice of a young, impressionable, frightened girl.  Elizabeth tells the story from her heart.  She clearly conveys what kept her alive, the love of her family and her love of God.  Even though I already knew how the story ended, tears ran down my face when I read how she was rescued.  Elizabeth's strength and ability to move forward is truly remarkable. 

This is one of those books that is difficult to read yet hard to put down.  Love conquers all. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

Curiously I read other reviews of The Lowland after I finished reading the book. I found a mixed bag of likes and dislikes, which I have to admit surprised me.  I was not familiar with this author or her other award winning works, the Pulitzer prize in fact, but the storyline of inseparable brothers raised in Calcutta, India, who take opposite paths in their lives, captured my attention.

At first I was unsure if I could stick with The Lowland.  It was a story like many I've read before about life in India, a culture that permeates every movement in life.  When one of the brothers, Udayan, secretly becomes immersed in a political movement, I became slightly turned off by the subject matter but not the writing.  So I kept reading.

The brothers are raised in a middle class neighborhood on a narrow street with a mosque on the corner.  They are a Hindu family.  The house their parents have built, backs up to the lowlands, an area that floods and dries with the seasons. Subhash heads to America to study away from the turmoil of his home.  Udayan stays to fight for his cause and defies his parents by bringing home a wife they do not approve of. The wife, who no one is able to love except Udayan, becomes the center the family's sorrow.

The Lowland is a story of choices defined by the friction created by opposing, deep rooted cultures.  The ebb and flow of their lives mirrors the lowland that is the family's foundation. The author's prose is steady, calm and captivating.  The Lowland is a book I couldn't put down, stayed up late and woke up early because I had to know where each course of action would lead.  Books with that kind of power don't come along very often.

I classify this novel as one that beautifully illustrates the human condition.  The human condition shapes who we are as an individual, a family, a society and I am fascinated by it.  The Lowland is worth every minute of time spent immersed in the lives of the people living with the rhythm of the lowland.

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...