Archive for September 2009
Here is Monday’s Memes for this week!
Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about your wishlist…
Do you keep a book wishlist, either on paper, Amazon/etc, or via a book database site (Shelfari, GoodReads, LibraryThing)? If yes, do you share this list with others (especially coming up to Christmas)?
- Yes! there’s about three different types of wishlists. One: on Shelfari are the ones that I can take out from the library. Those I don’t have to buy or if I can’t wait that long then I’ll buy. Two: There’s one on Library Thing. That one tells me those books on that list are available on interlibrary loan. I sometimes buy books from there, I sometimes don’t. Three: there’s a very small one on Goodreads. Those are books I definitely want to buy. I don’t share my list with others, because whenever I give a wish list out it’s never used. I gave up. The only one who actually buys me stuff from the wishlist is the hombre I choose about three from the wishlist and give it to him, he orders, I’m happy. Now if he could do that monthly I’d be even happier.
In My Mailbox this week:
Racing Toward Armageddon by Michael Baigent (contest win)
Cleopatra’s Daughter: A Novel by Michelle Moran (requested)
The Curse of the Tahiera by Wendy Gillissen (requested)
WHAT THE BAYOU SAW by Patti Lacy (contest win)
Library Finds this week:
Mister Monday – Garth Nix
The Thief Lord – Cornelia Funke
The Virgin’s Queen’s Daughter – Ella March Chase
The Seance – John Harwood
The Devil’s Teardrop – Jeffery Deaver
So! what are your answers? what loot did you get?
First of all, thank you to FSB Associates for providing me with a review copy of this memoir. It’s actually my very first memoir that I have read from front to back in its’ completion. I’m not much of a memoir reader, the genre hasn’t really interested me but I gave this one a chance as it has something to do with World War II which I like to read about.
Bending Toward the Sun is a mother and daughter memoir by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie and her mother, Rita Lurie. It covers both of their lives and how the Holocaust has made such a significant impact on them and on their future generation. The first part features Rita’s story, from hiding in a cramped attic with her family during the War to her years in America struggling with her past and growing up without a real mother. The second part of the book, covers Leslie’s life, who tries very hard to please her mother, but at the same time, tries to understand what her mother went through and realizes that Rita’s painful past has somehow affected the outlook on life to Leslie, and also onto Leslie’s daughter Mikaela.
I thought it was an excellent memoir. Not only do you get to read the stories of two very strong willed women but there’s a clear concise narration to it that actually makes the memoir very interesting and before you knew it, you were already at the end. It was a very interesting look into their lives and how the Holocaust had made such an impact on their daily routines, how they thought, how they acted, and how strongly attached they were as a family unit. I especially liked Rita’s strength and her determination to be a very good mother to her children. Considering since she never really had a mother to begin with, she made an extreme effort to be loving and to give her children the childhood she never had when she was young. I thought it was very admirable and a very strong trait in her. Leslie also follows in her footsteps and tries to become a very good mother, but also it seems she has to please her mother as well, which can become extremely difficult as you see Leslie trying to struggle with it.
The book shows how slow psychological healing and with facing the past and its’ ghosts, it could go a long way into healing some wounds that have never had the chance of healing properly. I felt a lot for Rita, who really had no one to turn to, and to confide in, while she was in her teenage years. It truly seemed as if she was really alone in the world but again, as I said, it’s very admiring how she managed to be determined to pick herself up on her feet to live her life the way she wants. Although I really had no love for Clara even though she survived through a lot of pain and misery I can’t help but dislike her for her treatment towards Rita. It certainly didn’t help Rita much during her childhood. Towards the end however, I felt ambivalent towards her especially when she says her point of view of things. It was hard to believe who was telling the truth or if Rita had selective memory.
I have to admit, this book actually drove me to tears at the end. The letter Leslie and her sister writes to their Grandmother is very touching and although they never had a chance to meet her, is filled with love and provides some sort of closure like this book provides closure to their mother.
Overall a wonderful touching memoir about the impact the Holocaust has on its’ victims and their children.
I give it a 10 out of 10.
I’m on the verge of finishing a book (Bending Towards the Sun) and meanwhile I’m thinking of actually doing some changes to this blog. I also have a personal blog but am not using it, that’s on a paid host so I figured, since I’m investing so much time on this book blog I should move it to my paid server.
It’s easier said than done. So I’ll see what I can do in the meantime, let’s hope I can get some reading done today.
What’s everybody reading today?
First I’d have to say, the cover of this book is interesting and it definitely suits the book. I really do like the red on black however that’s not what really got me into the book. I was surfing on Amazon for random books I might find that I would like and stumbled across this one. It peaked my interest and I decided to take it out from the library.
Dark Hours by Gudrun Pausewang, is a grandmother’s account of her life when she just turns sixteen to her young granddaughter who has just turned at that age. It takes place towards the end of World War II and features a girl named Gisel who, with her three brothers and Grandmother, had to leave their home to go towards Dresden as their town is about to be approached by the Russians. However while at a train station, air raid sirens hit, and in the mass confusion Gisel with her siblings (and a small girl named Lotte whom she meets at the station) they run towards a shelter, which then gets hit by bombs. Gisel is stuck there with a small amount of food and not much water and until they get rescued they have each other and a soldier on the other side of the wall whom they talk to through a pipe.
Sometimes with these kinds of books (where the characters are placed in a dire situation with no hope of getting out except by rescue) I get this sudden urge to just turn to the back of the book to see what happens (if they do get rescued or not) but I really tried not to do it with this book. I managed to resist temptation and wait it through until the end. I got myself hoping with Gisel that they will be rescued even though the situation looks extremely bleak.
The story is told in Gisel’s point of view and it’s an interesting one. She tells you how her life was when the war was going good for Germany and then how it started turning against them, you can feel her bitterness towards the war. Actually, you can feel it towards everybody in this book as now since the tide has turned, frequent visits to the air raid shelters are all over Germany, and talk against Hitler and the German government is also starting to rise. The idea of leaving all that she loved behind and having to take care of all her siblings (all younger than her) just enhances her bitterness towards the war. However throughout the book I admire Gisel’s strength and courage when they were stuck beneath the rubble waiting to be rescued. She does get impatient several times as any other older sibling would do when they’re stuck with their younger ones (Gisel especially gets annoyed with Lotte who’s a spoiled brat). I think it adds realism to her character and rounds her out very well.
I think her courage stemmed off from her brother Erwin who is a few years younger but acts very mature and helps Gisel when needed. I liked him as he provided the extra strength she needed to keep being positive and to survive. The other part is the solder who is also stuck underneath the rubble but is able to communicate to them with a pipe (he was on the other side of the wall). He provides Gisel with advice and also advises her to make as much noise as possible in the hopes of being heard and rescued quickly.
What I liked most about the book is Gisel’s ability to pull everybody together and to maintain a positive outlook while in times of duress. For someone who has barely just turned sixteen, she ages and matures quickly and you can actually hear her voice growing “older”.
There is no real plot in this book which may be a deterrent to some readers. The majority of the book takes place underneath the rubble and all you really read are Gisel’s thoughts. It may or may not draw readers in, so perhaps I would only recommend this book for World War II buffs. Otherwise, for those who aren’t, it certainly is worth a try. It’s a little over 200 pages so it should be a breeze for the majority of readers out there.
Overall an interesting account of someone who is on “the other side” of war. Albeit, with no real plot it’s certainly worth a look see.
I give it a 6 out of 10.
What’s the saddest book you’ve read recently?
- I’d have to say, it’ll have to be The Blue Notebook by James Levine. It features the story of a child prostitute in India who was sold by her father. It’s quite bleak and there’s nothing happy about it. Even the ending wasn’t really that happy (albeit, vague).
What’s your answer?
I was in danger of going through a reading drought. It felt as if I wasn’t able to finish anything I started, and it felt as if I wasn’t able to read as much as I wanted to! however finally! I managed to get one done! I also noticed, when I recieved this book, I was surprised to see that I got this cover then the ones I’ve seen around book blogs. At first I actually thought the library gave me the wrong book but, I was wrong it’s just another edition. Update: The wonderful staff at Random House has informed me, that it’s the UK version I have for the book, the one on the right, is the version you probably see in bookstores if you live in North America.
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross covers the legend of Johanna, or “Joan” as she was known, who poses as a man to be able to attend the schola (school) in order to learn more. At this time during the Dark Ages, women weren’t even allowed to go to school or even learn how to read (somehow, it was a very bad dangerous thing). Thanks to her older brother Matthew, Joan discovered a thirst and joy of learning to read and write, and to exchange theories and reason with other learned men. Eventually all this learning leads her to become the local physician at an abbey and from there, she’s in for an extraordinary adventure.
Joan is portrayed as a very strong and stubborn character. However because of her stubbornness it takes her farther ahead than any woman could have done during those times, and for that, I think it’s a very admirable trait in her. It’s because of this, she was able to overcome anything to do what she wanted to do the most; which was to learn. This is one of the most strongest female characters I have ever read so far and although she does have faults, she quickly overcomes them and does not relent. Even when she’s tempted to leave with Gerold (her romance interest) she still remains steadfast to her duties to the the people in Rome. Although I found it frustrating at times, especially when things start to take a turn for the worst, it’s still an admirable trait in the face of adversity.
It’s hard to feel any sympathy for any male characters in this novel. Although Gerold might be different but not as much as it all comes to the bottom line: the men in this novel prefer the women pregnant, barefoot, and in the kitchen. Their ignorance is so blatant you wanted to grind your teeth to stop yourself from wanting to jump in to wring their necks for thinking that way about women. However, it’s a very realistic account, for I have no doubt that’s how they thought that way (unfortunately some still do to this day).
The plot in this book flowed perfectly and had it’s good amount of climaxes and action. I was immediately sucked into the story from the beginning. I really did enjoy reading the parts on how Joan went through her journey to eventually becoming Pope. It was indeed a very nice story to read and I’d have to say it was like watching a very exciting adventure because you were always in fear of what would happen if she were to be discovered a woman. I really liked the inner politics within the Papal ranks. They’re twice as devious and conniving than the royal courts I’ve read in previous books. The writing in this book is historically accurate in my opinion, as it gives you a good look and feel as to how it felt like to live back then in this time period.
The only criticism I have is there are a lot of latin religious terminology (especially areas of the religious buildings and ranks of the papacy in Rome) which were hard to get through. I found myself looking a lot of the words up as to what this certain word referred to, and as to what was this rank in the papacy. A glossary would have helped as I had no prior knowledge in this aspect in history. The Author’s Note however, was indeed informative and a very interesting read.
Overall a great novel about a strong woman who faced the odds to do what she loved to do: read and learn. I recommend this book, it’s a wonderful read. You may even be tempted to read some background information on Pope Joan as I did (I went straight for Wikipedia the moment I finished the book)
I give it an 8 out of 10.
Here is the Monday combo for this week:
Do you listen to music while reading? Does this change if you’re reading in or out of your house? Do you have a preference of music for such occasions?
- It depends. If I am upstairs, then I do sometimes because the TV is on too loud and I can’t concentrate. At least with music, I can drown out the voices. If I’m downstairs, I listen to music as well but it’s mostly classical and it helps me concentrate. It’s mostly classical I can listen to, but sometimes I listen to my own mp3 player and it’s my own mix of music. I prefer classical though.
In my Mailbox this week:
Private Papers of Eastern Jewel – Maureen Lindley (from publisher)
No Wind of Blame – Georgette Heyer (publisher)
Pendragon’s Banner – Helen Hollick (publisher)
Dark Places – Gillian Flynn (won in contest)
The Postmistress – Sarah Blake (Barnes and Noble first look book club)
The Magic Thief – Sarah Prineas
The Thief Lord – Cornelia Funke
(yes just two at the library, I’m going through moderation)