Believe it or not, I just finished reading book number TEN in the Irish Country Doctor series by Patrick Taylor. It is no secret that I adore these books, and the newest one was no exception.
This time the book was set (as is often the case) in two eras – the 1940’s and the 1960’s. We vacillated back and forth between Dr O’Reilly’s time spent in the Royal Navy during WWII, and the “present day” – which for the fictional town of Ballybucklebo, is about 1966. Since I enjoy all sorts of WWII history, I was equally enthralled with both sides of the story. As always, I feel like I know the folks in that little town, and am always eager to find out what happens next! I got this book from my local library. This is the first time I have ever actually read one of these novels. All the others were “read” by me in the form of audio books. I have to admit that I really missed the fabulous narration by John Keating – who does the voices of all the townsfolk in total perfection!!!! At the end of this volume, the author promises that there will indeed be more to come – YAY! I predict I’ll make an effort to get my paws on the audio version for the next one. Interesting tidbit: This Irish born author now lives not too far away from here, on Saltspring Island, British Columbia.
I got this book from my favorite book-swap site, Paperbackswap.com. Novels set in the Middle Ages normally do not appeal to me, but this one did. Here’s the first two sentences from the synopsis on the back cover: “Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages — The daughter of a paper maker in a small French village in the year 1320–mute from birth and forced to shun normal society–young Auda finds solace and escape in the wonder of the written word.” This sort of intrigued me, so I dove in. I would say I enjoyed about 3/4 of this book, maybe a bit more. It was interesting to read about life in the 1320’s and also I feel like I learned a lot about the history of paper making. There was a lot of brutality going on at that time, particularly related to supposed heretics of the church. The burning at the stake and other unpleasant goings on were disturbing, but since they really did happen back then, I plugged along. Unfortunately, the ending was quite predictable and weak. That said, it was still interesting and brought to light a period of time that I personally was very uninformed about.
This book recently jumped off the shelves of our local library and into my hands. What could I do? I took it home and read it, not having for even one moment, either heard of this book or or read anything at all by this award winning author. One might say this is a book about “nothing”…. and yet, it’s a well written chronicle of an ordinary woman living an ordinary life, starting in pre-WWII Brooklyn, New York. I loved how the author recreated what I am quite sure were very realistic scenes of those years in Brooklyn, and possibly (probably) just about any other mid-sized town in the USA. I love going back in time… to simpler times — however many of the problems that the main character, Marie deals with are still around today. I won’t go into a plot on this one – I knew absolutely nothing about this novel, refusing to read the inside cover beyond the first two or three sentences. I was glad to NOT know what was going to happen, and just let the book flow. At first it was a tiny bit of a struggle getting used to the vacillating between the early years and the years with Marie as an adult woman…. but it all fell into place and I really enjoyed this book….. this book about nothing but ordinary life.
I recently finished this exquisite library book, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – a Northwest author from Idaho. Published in May, this novel is getting accolades from all around the literary world, and I can certainly see why. First off, I love the setting(s) in France and Germany – and the time period – before and during WWII. “Unique” is a good way to describe the way this book is written. It runs parallel between two main characters, a young blind French girl, and a young underweight but brilliant German boy. This is not, repeat NOT, a romance story in ANY way. One of the unique things about this book is the way it’s written – in short but to the point chapters. This does not mean it was a short book – it’s over 500 pages. Going back and forth between Marie-Laure and Werner, we see how different their lives are, yet how each is affected by the coming of war, and the war itself. I hesitate to write more about the plot, but suffice it to say that this is one heck of a satisfying read. To ANYONE who enjoys WWII history, you will thoroughly enjoy reading this amazing book. For a full synopsis, click here for a great review from the New York Times.
It took me WAY too long to finally listen to this engaging novel, the latest in Dr Patrick Taylor’s “Irish Country” series. I should clarify and say that he does have another new edition coming out next month entitled “An Irish Doctor in Peace and at War”. For now, this is still the newest addition to this entertaining series, and I’ve had it for nearly a year! As is the case with all the other books in the series, I listened to this one on CD. Again, I was enthralled with the fabulous narration/reading by the talented John Keating. I know I could have read all these books, but once I started listening, I can’t imagine “reading” one of these any other way. I probably should say that “anyone would love these novels” – and possibly that’s true…. but to be totally honest, I think a person must have at least some interest in medicine, to thoroughly enjoy this book. I had no problem following the dual story lines… one set in the late 1930’s and the other in “modern day” – for this book is the mid 1960’s. I’m completely attached to all the quirky characters, and feel like I know them all!! Can’t wait for the next installment!
Okay people, I will fully admit that I may be the last person on the face of the earth to finally get around to reading this iconic novel. It’s been in my “to-read” pile (which actually encompasses two huge bookshelves) for several years, and I was ready for something different from my norm. I do love my WWII books and other historical fiction – and in a way this certainly does qualify under the Historical Fiction category. However, it’s definitely out of the norm (for me) in the setting – which clearly was/is Japan. I found this novel very interesting, fascinating, and hope that the author really did do impeccable research, as this is all I know and what I believe to be true about life as a Geisha. In the rare case that you haven’t read this one, I do recommend it! While it’s not exactly riveting reading, it certainly did keep my interest, all the way through to the end. It piqued my curiosity enough for me to look up YouTube videos on Geishas, their dances, and instruments. Read this if you’d like to be transported back into the 1930’s Kyoto Japan and learn about a lifestyle that still exists, albeit in MUCH smaller numbers. As is often the case, I now would love to see the movie!
I recently finished this book of short stories by my beloved Maeve Binchy. Oh how I will miss her!! Our dear Ms Binchy left us back in July of 2012 and from what I gather, her husband came across a drawer full of stories, all about people who lived on the same street, Chestnut Street. I believe this was still a work in progress when she passed, but since she is no longer here to complete the project, her husband published them “as is”. While everyone in the book had ties to, or lived on Chestnut Street, the characters were VERY minimally interrelated. It was more just a book of short stories, written in her absolutely delightful style. I had no problem going from one chapter to the next… it was easy to immediately get caught up in whatever story was in front of me. Some were good enough that she could have based whole books around them, in my humble opinion. I was sad to see it end and sad to see my long running era of Maeve Binchy books come to a close. When people ask me, “Do you ever re-read books?” I normally reply, “too many great books, not enough time” — but in this case, I truly believe I’ll be re-visiting several of hers.
I don’t often read non fiction, but I recently finished reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Okay, I’ve read a LOT of books in my life and this one is up in the top ten! I loved it. Totally loved it. It’s a true story about a group of young men in the 1930’s who attend the University of Washington and decide to row crew. I knew nothing, literally nothing about rowing, crew teams, coxswains, or the history of rivalry between the crew teams of California and Washington. Yet… something about this book grabbed me, and good. It’s a history story, it’s a sports story, it’s a human interest story. It’s an example of human persistence to the Nth degree. You can read the full synopsis over on Amazon (where it’s received oodles of 5 star reviews!), but let’s suffice it to say, this is an INCREDIBLE book. It’s truly a must-read…. in my humble opinion. Thanks to my friend Susan B who loaned me this fabulous read. It was a great way to spend some time while recovering from my recent operation.
I’m not one who usually jumps on the proverbial bandwagon to read the latest trendy novel. But, (you knew that was coming)… this time I’m sure glad that I did. Even though this book is targeted for the “young adult” crowd, I read it anyway. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about – and I found out. I really, really liked this book. I read it in two days. If a person was a faster reader than me, that person could have devoured this novel easily in one day. It’s not a huge book, but there’s no wasted space, either. Every single page was good and interesting and creative. Everyone knows the premise of the book – two teenagers (ages 16 & 17) have different types of cancer, meet, get to know/love each other, and have an adventure. I’m even tempted to go see the movie, even though I know the ending – but then, so does practically everyone else that goes to the movie because SO many people have read and thoroughly enjoyed this novel. We all know the ending. We still want to go. As always, it’s probably best to read the book first, since you can theoretically complete it in a day! If you don’t go see the movie, at least read the book. It’s good. It’s really good.
It took me about a month and a week, but I’ve done it, I finished the 943 page behemoth seen above! I got this book for Christmas 2012 and FINALLY got around to reading it. Now I’m a bit sorry that I waited as long as I did to read it. Why? Because so many of the people/characters from his previous book, Fall of Giants appeared in this book as well. If not the exact same characters, then the direct family members of the characters…. and I’d forgotten a lot of them. Follett has a way of bringing it all back, reminding you ever so gently of who did what to whom. Winter of the World starts in 1936 and works and winds it’s way through the war years of 1939-1945, then finishes up in the late 1940’s. I will admit that the first 250 pages or so were a struggle for me, but I KNEW it would be worth it to take the time to get reacquainted with the characters and families. I was right, it was SO worth it. If you’ve read my book reviews through the years, you’d know I am crazy for books set just before, during, and just after WWII. It’s my favorite era, and the funny thing is that it’s been my favorite era now for years. Since this book is quite detailed about armies and war plans and the like, you had better appreciate the WWII era, or at least be a history fan to completely enjoy this one. Personally, I loved it. Feel free to read my not quite as stellar review of the first book in the trilogy here. One of the complaints I had regarding the first book were the unlikely meetings of main characters. While I expected that would happen again in Winter of the World, it didn’t. In my opinion, all the chance encounters of the main characters were much more believable this time around. As mentioned in that review, the final book of the trilogy will be apparently about Vietnam and other events that happened towards the end of the century. I’m still thinking I’ll skip that one, but I’m reserving the right to change my mind! My biggest beef about this novel is that it was heavy and bulky to tote around, and nearly impossible to read in bed (which I love to do). It may be time to accept the inevitable, and just get books as big as this one loaded onto my easily maneuverable Kindle!
Be on the lookout for another review soon – I’m nearing the end of a Kindle book I can’t wait to tell you about!