Monthly Archives: September 2017

THANKS AND CONGRATS

SO MUCH FUN in Nashville. Picture taking suffered. Thanks to all of you who keep viewing and reading this blog.

Nine readers correctly identified the city of Nashville.

Here are the winners of lightly used fiction. Books will be mailed next week.

Judith Vitali – Connecticut
Susan Cebelinski – Minnesota
Mary Ann Krengel – Michigan
Jan Heystek – Michigan
Nancy Skadden – Florida
Mary Ann Phimister – Michigan
Karen Kozian – Michigan
Judy Tolley – Alaska
Nellie Moran – Michigan

SORRY NO WINNERS – ANOTHER CHANCE

THANKS TO ALL WHO READ THIS BLOG. DOUBLE THANKS TO THE ENTRIES!!

The state in the posting: INDIANA

Now

A new contest. Guess the American City. Up to 10 winners. The first ten replies that guess the city correctly will win a fiction book. Books will be sent next week. Contest ends Friday night Sept. 29 at midnight.

OK

Go for it.

Guess the American city in the following pictures.

A Book I Wish More Readers Would Enjoy

Sometimes when I interview readers for this blog, I ask: what book do you wish more readers would read?

Today I wish to answer my own question. Not with some thick tome, some bit of philosophy I consider very important. I answer with the title of a moving read too many of you have missed.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles. It is a beautiful read, a tale that scoops one up for a ride that doesn’t stop until the last page is read. Since I wrote about this book previously in a blog post, it became a finalist for the National Book Award. I expect that book clubs will love it.

In this tale of the Old West 10-year-old Johanna, captured by Kiowa raiders at age 6, has lived among them since that time. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd who is a 70 year old war veteran rescues her and plans to take her to live with relatives near San Antonio. It is to be a long journey. Johanna is frightened, doesn’t remember English and is reluctant to go.

The journey is remarkable for a number of reasons. The characters are absolute standouts whose interactions and learnings along the way will amaze the reader. Joanna manages feats more exciting than Wonder Woman on a comic strip page. The author writes movingly of her characters and of Texas in the late 1870s. It is a timely story told in lovely prose.

It is a must read for history lovers and for those that are willing to see an often maligned landscape in a new light. The characters pack a real whollop. This title was named the top book of 2016 by BookPage. Oh, and it’s expected to become a film starring Tom Hanks. Perfect casting. This one I have to see. I hope you read this book and see the movie when it comes out. It’s a small book, filled with a tight, tense story, but so satisfying. Go on – give it a try!

A BOY IN WINTER IN UKRAINE

A Boy In Winter: A Novel
Author: Rachel Seiffert
Publisher: Pantheon Books, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Hardcover Edition: 238 pages
Source: Personal Copy

For how long have we in the West wondered what it was like in the Ukraine in 1941, the early years of World War II and before during upheaval in Europe? That part of the world has largely been closed to us until the last few years. But as history unfolds, we are not especially surprised to hear of the enmity between the Ukraine and Russia. Certainly there is such history. Who was more hated by the people of Ukraine? Germany or Russia?

I wonder what day-to-day life in the Ukraine was like then. Yes, I know of Baba Yar? But where exactly was that? The foregoing explains some of the reasons as a reader, I was drawn to Rachel Seiffert’s book, a novel titled “A Boy In Winter”

The following quote sets the tone for this book. “Battle was fear and fury, but it was not confined to armies. It tore through fields and barns and houses, and slaughter didn’t only take the fighting men. It took all in its wake: the village women, the old and the lame, the children; all those with no flame or rifle, no reason for soldiers to heed them.” But soldiers did heed them. There were so many German soldiers doing nothing but terrorizing people. One can’t help but think if they had been deployed to the Russian front, the war might have ended differently. Of course, that is an obvious lesson.

The above quote not only sets tone, but showcases the skill of this author to communicate wisdom and setting through beautiful prose. Even more skilled is the manner in which she creates flesh and blood characters whose stories give a picture of Ukraine in 1941. The scene she writes of Ephraim penned in with fellow Jews, awaiting resettlement and worried for his two sons, missing since daybreak, was so immediate, this reader felt sick to my stomach, and not because I suspected what exactly was to come, but because the suspense, horror and injustice as communicated by Seiffert through her characters and descriptions literally sickened me.

Another character is Yasia, struggling to survive, as are they all, and hoping to find her lover and fetch him home. As the story progresses she shows great compassion for fellow sufferers and risks all for others, not her kin or her lover. Otto Pohl, a German Engineer faced with unfathomable choices, whose fate turns on the most unjust of circumstances. This author writes clearly with great caring and understanding of people in varying circumstances. Emotional depth and mercy are hallmarks of her story.

I found this novel highly absorbing and strongly recommend it for all readers. It is a sorrowful, yet beautiful story. For me, there is a belief that it will cause readers to stop and think about kindness, about who is our neighbor, and about how we face adversity.

The challenges these villagers faced are basic and real, especially in comparison to financial gains, taxes, leisure activities, and privilege that fill so many of our contemporary lives. Perhaps, it must be admitted that Sieffert’s characters were not so concerned about others, until unjust events smacked them so hard they could see the disintegration of their world. When that happened, they turned from their present survival tasks and actively cared for other people around them, with little thought to circumstances or eventual outcomes. Each found a moral compass and followed it.

THE JOY OF GOODNIGHT MOON

The first chapter of Wild Things: the Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy is all about Goodnight Moon and its author Margaret Wise Brown. This most delightful children’s book is a pleasure to revisit. Handy calls it a “transcendent masterpiece.”

It is a book that almost everyone knows. It has sold 26 million copies in various editions and has been translated into twenty languages. It’s easy to take for granted. Have you reread it recently? The bright colors, the dreamy quality, and the unexpected transport the adult back to childhood.

Handy tells us it was Brown’s gift to experience the world like a child. If you know some of her other books: The Runaway Bunny, or my favorite The Important Book, among so many she wrote, you know how true that is. “The important thing about the sky is that it is always there.”

Goodnight Moon is so much more than a catalog of a room’s furnishings. Yet, it is hard to put your finger on just what it is that makes it so soothing. Rhythm, yes, but…. Clement Hurd’s illustrations are somewhat unexpected, yet familiar. I love the three little bears sitting on chairs. Nothing takes the youngest child’s attention like the red balloon. Nothing communicates hush and goodnight noises like the darkened room with the night sky showing in the windows.

I did not have this book as a child. So I associate it with the excited but sleepy faces of the many children I have read it to over the years. I have always been completely captivated by this author’s books. I love children’s literature. Bruce Handy’s chapter on Good Night Moon and Margaret Wise Brown helps me understand why.

I’m not sure what else Handy has in store for me in his book. But I look forward to finding out.

THE LATE SHOW – BOOK COMMENT

The Late Show
Author: Michael Connelly
Publisher: Little Brown and Company, 2017
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Hardcover Edition: 405 pages plus excerpt from next Harry Bosch novel
Source: personal copy

Connelly introduces a terrific female detective. She works the night shift for LAPD. That provides the title for the book and for her corner of Hollywood Station. Detective Renee Ballard doesn’t fit any mold. She creates her own world. A talented investigator she solves several crimes that, no surprise, turn out to be related.

It’s an exciting read. The reader is not surprised Ballard is ultra focused, but she’s fierce as she digs into every detail of the crimes she is assigned to solve. She never stops working, and she always pushes the envelope, perhaps further than advisable. Does she ever relax? Not even when she is on her paddleboard. This workout is not to relax but to build upper body strength. Well, maybe she relaxes a bit when alone with her dog. That is not often. Every few pages brings another surprise. The plot is fascinating.

This reader is a Connelly fan. I put The Late Show at the top of the list!