Thursday, February 27, 2014

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao a few years ago.  It had won the Pulitzer Prize after all and I loved its fresh, edgy voice.  I like to mix my reading list up so I felt it was time to read another Junot Diaz novel, spice things up a bit.

The first page of This is How You Lose Her sucked me right in.  Diaz's writing is fast, snappy, sexy and neurotic.  Yunior is a young, Dominican trying to find his way even though the whole world seems to be against him.  He constantly chases the girls searching for something lasting and is never able to find it.  He's a smart kid with a good brain but thinking with the wrong brain overrules everything else in his life. Circling in the background is his over protective mother and a dying brother. 

Yunior's fast and furious antics kept me on the edge of my seat. For awhile.  After the read 'o meter on my Kindle passed 50%, I prayed for Yunior to find a girl so the story could be over with.  Too much of the same thing over and over began to bore me.  The heart racing pace of the writing got to be too much for me to take.  I wanted a break.

At the end of the story, I breathed a sigh of relief. Yunior's tales had come to an end and I could move on to something more calming and relaxing.  Since I do most of my reading in bed, I also needed a good night's sleep.  Spicing things up is not always exciting as it may seem.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wake by Anna Hope

Wake by Anna Hope

Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep. 2) Ritual for the dead. 3) Consequence or aftermath.

I had no idea what I was getting into when I downloaded this title from Netgalley.  The cover drew me in by its simplicity and beauty.  Anyone who knows me, knows I'm drawn into the spell of a book by its cover more often than not. 

Set in London two years after the end of World War I in a few days leading up to Armistice Day and the burying of the unknown soldier.  The lives of three women, unknown to each other, are magically woven together.  All are searching for something, love, understanding, closure in the aftermath of war. 

Hettie is a dance instructor at the local dance hall.  Her mother controls her every move while allowing her shell shocked brother to wander aimlessly through life.  Evelyn lost her one true love in the war and now works in the war pensioner's office trying to block the hopeless stories she hears day after day from her thoughts.  Ada grieves for her son, so much so that she has pushed the love of her husband out of her life. 

Wake is poetic, emotional, heartfelt.  I adored it.  Honestly I thought I would be reading another tragic story of war, or another story of three people who meet due to one small event.  Wake was none of that.  Many parts of the story are tragic, however each woman's struggle is carefully and seamlessly woven into the others.  Wake is a gorgeous piece of historical fiction. Don't let Wake pass you by.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I am a huge fan of The Secret Life of Bees.  I didn't like The Mermaid Chair quite so much an I couldn't make it past the first chapter of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  When I read about The Invention of Wings in O Magazine, I wanted to read it but I approached it with some trepidation.  Books recommended by Oprah can be great while others can be tedious and boring.  I wanted to love it and didn't want to be disappointed. 

Sarah Grimke is given Handful as her handmaiden on her eleventh birthday.  Handful has been given that slave name for a reason.  Rarely is she called by her given name, Hettie.  Sarah breaks every rule by teaching Handful how to read.  They form a bond as girls, women, friends, but the fact that Sarah is the master and Handful, the slave, sits heavy as an iron anvil between them. 

This story spans several decades until the women are well into their forties and find themselves on the brink of the Civil War.  They have both suffered in their lives. Sarah is bound by being a woman in an era when only men went to school and had careers and the opinions of women thought to be meaningless.  Handful, on the other hand is trapped solely by the color of her skin. 

The Invention of Wings took my breath away page after page.  I didn't realize until I'd finished the book that Sarah Grimke and her sister, Angelina were real women.  Although this is a fictional account, Kidd used their story as a basis for hers.  The imagery is spectacular, the writing, poetic.  Here's how I know The Invention of Wings is destined to be a classic. When I hit the page button on my Kindle and it said, "The End", I gasped.  I wanted more.  There had to be more.  Sarah and Handful had become my friends along the way and I didn't want to see them go.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Battle of the Thermostat

I know I'm a wimp.  My northern friends remind me of that on a regular basis these days.  I understand that here in Florida we don't have 10 feet of snow to shovel out of the driveway and it's not -50 below even without the windchill factored in, but we've had a miserable winter too.  I am desperate for the cool, sunshiney days with flowers blooming and birds singing. 

Get out your violin.

I have all tile floors in my house.  A good idea when it's 90 degrees outside in the summer.  But when the temperature dips to 30 degrees outside, the inside turns into a meat locker.  An air conditioner turned furnace is hardly up to the challenge.  The poor little heating element runs and runs and runs, while I have put on every sweater in my closet and every pair of socks in my drawer.  I can't get warm.

And then Mother Nature pulls another cruel trick.  The next day we are breaking all kinds of records when the temps climb to 85 degrees.  I've turned off the heat and turned on the air again.  I'm sweating buckets around here!  The piece of machinery we depend on for our year round comfort is just as confused as we are. It was just getting the hang of the heat when we asked for it to make us cool instead.

Today we are back down to 50 degrees outside.  My nose is running, my lips are chapped and my toes are turning blue.  Misery loves company and I want you to know, I'm pretty miserable too. The sky is grey and gloomy.  Even here in the Sunshine State.

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...