Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke


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Friday, August 14, 2015

Rethinking History

Sin and Honey #2: A Touch of Betrayal by Taryn Scott

Historical Romance

What a fascinating premise! This book series focuses on telling the stories of women mentioned in the Bible. It has always been so interesting to me to think of what those women must have endured. History has too long remained silent on their stories and that is one of the reasons the Bible feels so stale and irrelevant to me. Without the stories of the women involved, how much of history are we missing?

This book, number two in the series, deals with Delilah, and her love affair with Samson. In the book, Delilah is not a character I much enjoyed getting to know. She isn't a likeable character the entire way through, although there are sparks of heroism in her. She's such a broken and tragic woman, and not the way I had pictured her at all from reading the Biblical tale. This book, though, really brought her to life and examined the betrayal of Samson in a different way. I'd always wondered why Delilah betrayed the hero and this book gives a plausible tale. In the end, it made me rethink the historical Delilah as well.

In the book, Delilah is a woman who has escaped from her hometown. She was run out of town after being accused of witchcraft. Fearing for her life, she escapes, but troubles soon follow her. Delilah has such a tragic history. Because she is a woman, and powerless in society, she becomes a prostitute and then servant in order to feed herself. Life is not kind to Delilah and she soon sees the whole world, and all the people, as mistrustful. Her past is found out and a local man threatens to expose her unless she traps Samson and turns over his secret so that he can be defeated. She agrees. After all, what's one broken man to her, a broken woman. In Samson, though, she sees something different from all the other men. While she went to betray him, she soon falls in love with him. If you're just expecting a Christian romance, think again. The action scenes are hot with passion overload!

The book, of course, has a tragic ending, as anyone familiar with the Biblical tale will know. Don't despair, though, as the author throws in a lot of imaginative details that will leave you thinking about this man and woman from history and how their story might have ended. This book was right up my alley and I look forward to checking out more in the series.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not Your Momma's Fairy Tale

The Selection by Kiera Cass

Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

This is not usually a book I would pick up.  It looks a bit too much like a girly-girl book for my taste.  However, when I started reading it, I was so glad for the recommendation because it's exactly the kind of book I love. 

It's a cross between a fairy tale and dystopian novel.  The main character is America, so much symbolism in that name and what a perfect choice.  The other main character is Prince Maxim, who has reaching marrying age.  In a future world, this would make a great reality show.  Bachelor, anyone?  At the insistence of her mother, America submits an application to be considered as one of Prince Maxon's marriage potentials.  She is stunned to learn she is only of only 35 to read the final stage, the Selection.  In order to do this, American must big goodbye to Aspen, her true love but social inferior.  Still, she figures once the Prince chooses someone else, she can take the prize money to help her family and then get her romance, and life, back on track.  When she meets the Prince, her feelings on lots of things starts to change and she's no longer sure she wants to lose the contest.

I loved the futuristic feel of the book and the fact it still felt like an old-fashioned fairy tale.  It was a perfect blending of the two genres and pure genius.  It reminded me a bit of Ally Condie's "Matched" series, but America is more of a rebel, which I loved.  I also loved the political undertones.  It is part of a trilogy and not a stand alone boo.  You'll have to read them all, in order, to see how the story really ends.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Humanity and Its Best and Worst

The Postman by David Brin

Dystopian Adult Fiction

I really love the dystopian genre.  Not because of the darkness and chaos that is so prevalent, but because I love to see how humans retain such incredible sparks of humanity in the face of eternal darkness and destruction.  The Postman is a perfect example of that and one of the better dystopian books I've read. 

Gordon is a trader and scavenger--barely living by his wits until he comes across the remains of a postman in an abandoned vehicle.  He takes the postman's clothes and gear, never knowing how such a simple act of survival will change his life and his world.  As he wanders into villages and towns, Gordon (as the postman) becomes a symbol to people of what they lost with the destruction of their society through war and disease.  Almost accidentally, Gordon starts the US postal service and begins to connect peoples and towns with simple acts of social letters.  Of course, there are those who don't want him to succeed and the last half of the book is an adventure worthy of any action movie.

My only wish with the book was that the female guerilla fighters had been given more time and attention to.  Or, since I'm wishing anyway, their own book!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Worthy Classic

Pollyanna #2:  Pollyanna Grows Up by Eleanor H. Porter

Classic

I do love the classics!  This sequel to the original Pollyanna was actually better the first book, which is really saying something.

Most people probably hear the phrase "being a Pollyanna" and have no idea where it comes from.  The phrase comes from this beloved book character, a perpetual optimist who has so much reason to be a pessimist.  In this book, her uncle has died and left the family in dire financial straits.  Pollyanna tries so hard to use her unfailing optimism and bring her aunt back to happiness, but that is a tall order.

In the story are old friends, like Jimmy Bean, and new friends. What made the book so wonderful, though, was seeing Pollyanna struggling with her first love.  I love these books and am sad there are only these two.  True, they are a bit sappy, but in a world that loves to criticize, it's a nice reality break.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

An Uncomfortable Read

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Psychological Thriller/Mystery

I chose this book because of all the buzz generated recently and because it has been compared to Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl".  I felt, after reading, it didn't quite live up to my very high expectations and I could find no similarity to the other book, other than both left me feeling uncomfortable after reading them.

In this book, Rachel is a girl on a train.  She rides into the city everyday, hiding the fact she's lost her job due to her chronic alcoholism.  During her daily travels, she looks out the window and starts to fantasize about the daily lives of those she sees living in a house that used to belong to her...until her disease destroyed her marriage and life.  One day, she discovers the person living in her old home has gone missing and she thinks she might have a clue that could help solve the crime.  No one, however, wants to believe her.

This book made me uncomfortable from beginning to end.  That is always the case with an unreliable narrator and I don't think I've ever seen more of an unreliable character than Rachel.  She is a hot mess from beginning to end.  Her actions, bordering on insane at most points, made me so angry at her stupidity and weakness that I wanted to throw the book.  I alternated between anger, pity, and sadness--as did Rachel herself and all those whose lives she interacted with.  The ending, though, made the journey worthwhile and it's one of those twists that are impossible to see coming.  Overall, it was a great read...just not worthy of the 5 stars I had wanted it to be.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Funny, Nostalgic Read

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

Adult Fiction

I didn't expect to like this book nearly as much as I did.  Actually, I had loved the old movie so much that I avoided this on my Kindle until it just begged to be read.  What a waste of time, the waiting that is.  I suppose, since I am of the television, record-playing age, I should have expected to identify right away.

It isn't, though, that I identified, or even liked very much, the main character.  Rob is a pain, to the reader and to everyone in the book, apparently.  His girlfriend, Laura, has recently left him and it's easy to see why.  He's whiny, obsessive, and incapable of making decision.  He's just like a friend I have, and probably everybody has, who has everything going for them only they're too self-absorbed to realize it and end up throwing it all way for an ideal that never turns out just the way they expect. 

Still, the book was easy to love, especially if you grew up listening to and loving real music from real records.  It was a pleasant, nostalgic read with very engaging characters and led to me updating my song list on my iPod.  After all, I'm no Rob.  I can march along with the times.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Definitely a Treat

Hallowe'en Party: Hercule Poirot #36 by Agatha Christie

Classic Mystery

One (out of many) of the things I love about Christie is that it isn't necessary to read her books in order.  Serial mysteries become tiresome as one scrambles about trying to figure out which to read next and getting angry when one has read the wrong book out of sequence.  Christie's books aren't like that and it's a pleasure finding them in garage sales or old book sales and buying them without a thought of whether it comes next or not.

This one is actually the first I've seen which relied one a book previous, although the references weren't really important.  In this book, Poirot has been called in to investigate the death of a child during a Hallowe'en party.  The child was forcibly drowned in an apple-bobbing bucket during a busy party, but no one can figure out the who might have done it.  Poirot's investigation unveils some very unpleasant skeletons in a few family closets and there are soon many suspects.  Don't think you'll guess the secret, though!  Unless you're as clever as Poirot (or Christie), you'll be guessing right up to the last page.