Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Language of Sand - Ellen Block

The Language of Sand: A NovelThe Language of Sand: A Novel by Ellen Block

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very quick read with enjoyable characters and a wonderful setting.

After losing her husband and young son in a tragic fire, Abigail has moved to Chapel Isle off the North Carolina coast as the caretaker for a lighthouse, hoping to connect in someway with the island that her late husband loved as a boy. When she arrives, she finds the lighthouse possibly haunted and quite run-down; the town full of colorful characters and herself changing from the Abigail she has always known into simply Abby.

I found it an enjoyable read, one that kept me turning the pages but left me in the end wishing that there had  been more depth to many of the characters and more story behind the haunting of the lighthouse. It did feel as if the last 1/4 of the book was rushed a bit and could have been played out with more depth, but all in all a nice light read.

One of my favorite quotes from The Language of Sand was from a scene where Abigail was unpacking all of her books that she had brought to the island with her:
"As she organized, she allowed herself to read the first few pages of each book, tasting the story or sampling a morsel from a text.  It was as if she were bumping into an aquaintance on the street-Abigail couldn't simply pass them by."

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Voyage of a Summer Sun: Canoeing the Columbia River

Voyage of a Summer Sun: Canoeing the Columbia RiverVoyage of a Summer Sun: Canoeing the Columbia River by Robin Cody

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a bit aprehensive about reading this book, just because I thought that it may be a bit dry. Instead it was a completely delightful read and really interesting. I loved the way the author eased his way into the actual canoe trip by giving the reader a background of his family and his Dads love of the river. Robin Cody gives a wonderful history of the Columbia river and the dam's that provide the Pacific Northwest with power, as well as colorful accounts of his trip and the characters he meets along the way as he paddles his way from the source of the Columbia River to the mouth where it spills out into the Pacific Ocean. This book is really eye-opening and heart-breaking in many ways; the loss of native life-styles up and down the river as the dam's went in; the change of landscape as these dam's backed up creating reservoirs and leveling age-old falls.
If you have a connection with the Pacific Northwest or a love of rivers and wildlife, I would definately recommend this book.

A couple of my favorite passages from Voyage of a Summer Sun -

"From my mother came a strong sense that it mattered who came before us, and how they did it."

On witnessing a family of geese in spring on the river -
"Adult geese lose their flight feathers soon after the goslings hatch in spring.  The adults can't fly until the little guys can, which is nature's way of keeping the family together."

View all my reviews

I Still Dream About You - Fannie Flagg

I've read a few Fannie Flagg books and this one was certainly not my favorite. It was a very light read without much depth to any of the characters. The main character is a 60 year old former Miss Alabama who now sells real estate and thinks that her life has been one big disappointment. With nothing to live for, she makes plans to "leave", meaning that she is going to strap weights to her amrs and legs and throw herself into the river. Each time she plans the exact time of the end of her life, some crisis or another turns up that makes it necessary to put off her demise. I thought it got old really fast and honestly just kept reading, hoping that something interesting would happen. There were a little bit of predictable twists and turns, but nothing that saved the story in my eyes.

"Fried Green Tomatos" is one of my favorites and this one fell far short.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Daughters of the Witching Hill

                                              Daughters of the Witching Hill ~ Mary Sharratt

'See us gathered here, three woman stood at Richard Baldwin's gate. I bide with my daughter, Liza of the squint eye, and with my grandaughter, Alizon, just fifteen and dazzling as the noontide sun, so bright that she lights up the murk of my dim sight. Demdike, folk call me, after the dammed stream near my dwelling place where the farmers wash their sheep before shearing. When I was younger and stronger, I used to help with the sheepwash. Wasn't afraid of the fiercest rams. I'd always had a way of gentling creatures by speaking to them low and soft. Though I'm old now, crabbed and near-blind, my memory is long as a midsummer's day and with my inner eye, I see clear.'

I picked up this novel in Powell Books not long ago. The write-up on the back of the book intrigued me and I was not disappointed. The author has done her research well and each character is based on a true person; many of the scenes based on actual court clerk, Thomas Pott's account of the 1612 Lancashire Witch Trials.

Bess Southerns is a widow living in Pendle Forest who has built her reputation as a cunning woman; a woman who can heal the sick and bless others as well as animals. Her best friend has no such powers, but Bess teaches her what she knows and her friend turns to dark magic to save her daughter from their landlords son, who has terrorized her for years. As Bess' grandaughter grows, Bess can see that she has the gift as well, but Alizon wants nothing to do with it. One day Alizon meets a peddler on the road who seems to think she is a prostitute. Alizon exchanges harsh words with him, cursing the peddler who suddenly falls to the road with a stroke. The local magistrate is trying to build his reputation as a witch hunter, so locks Alizon up in the dungeon and the witch trials begin.

This book is written really well, bringing this disturbing time in history to vivid life. The author lives in Pendle Forest, right where the witch hunt took place. I think her nearness to the scene lent clarity and depth to the writing . If historical fiction is one of your passions, than this book should not be missed.

'She was a very old woman, about the age of Foure-score yeares, and had been a Witch for fiftie yeares. Shee dwelt in the Forrest of Pendle, a vast place, fitte for her profession: What shee committed in her time, no man knowes...She was a generall agent for the Devill in all these partes: no man escaped her, or her Furies.'

-Thomas Potts, The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, 1613

What Matters Most - Luanne Rice

'The annual Children's Home summer beach picnic was on everyone's mind, and the kitchen was bustling. A ham roasting, to be sliced and served cold; Dublin Bay prawns, a gift from one of St. Augustine's benefactors, chilling in the huge refrigerator; fresh-baked bread cooling on the rack; cookies already packed in baskets.
Kathleen Murphy, thirteen, stood at the long stainless-steel work table, peeling potatoes for potato salad. Her fingers worked so fast, a total blur to anyone who might be watching. Her long dark hair was held back in a ponytail, and her clothes were protected by a stiff green apron. She kept one eye on her work, another on the side door. Sister Anastasia would be back in five minutes, and if James Sullivan wasn't here by then, there'd be hell to pay.'

Luanne Rice is one of my favorite authors for quick summer beach reads. This book is one I had picked up at a yard sale last summer but had not gotten around to reading until now. It takes us from Dublin, Ireland to the Connecticut shoreline following the love and life of two different couples as they try to figure out What Matters Most. It's a story of true love that never dies and soul mates who are connected over time and space.

From the back cover:
For Bernadette and Tom it is a return to their roots in Ireland and a love that broke every rule and could have withstood any consequence-but the one that broke their hearts. For James and Kathleen, whose indelible bond was forged in a Dublin orphanage before one was adopted and carried across the sea to America, it's a reunion they could never see coming, even if they dreamed of it all their young lives. From the Emerald Isle to the Connecticut shore, four lives are about to come together in a confrontation that will challenge each of them to leave behind the past and all they once thought was important and embrace at last What Matters Most.

A great summer read, but make sure and keep the kleenex's close!