Monday, December 14, 2015

Let Me Be Your Shelter: "Unconditional" by Michelle Rodriguez

In this second novella of Manifestations of a Phantom's Soul: A Duet by Michelle Rodriguez (with that dreamy cover by Jessica Elizabeth), Erik has been trying to live with his decision to let Christine go to live a life he thought she wanted, a life with Raoul. But, second thoughts have him trailing leads to finding her. Every time he'd gotten close, it seemed they would disappear...but now he has found her again. Secreting himself inside the house where she and Raoul are holed up, he hides behind the curtains and finally reveals his presence to Christine, his beloved. Will they live happily ever after, now that they are together again? But, wait, something seems to be wrong with this picture. Christine is pregnant. With his nemesis's child, no less. Before he has time to make sense of it all, Raoul enters and Erik disappears back to his hiding place where he  witnesses an encounter between the two. Raoul demanding Christine not sing in his house or anywhere else as singing and music were the devil's tools. Will Christine never sing again? Is this the end for our two star-crossed leads? Or the beginning of a very different future for the two of them. And is there room for a third in Erik's vision of how life should be if, and when, he has Christine back to make beautiful music together. Get a copy of Duet and see where Unconditional will take you.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A New Ghost in Town: "Manifestations of A Phantom's Soul: A Duet: Rib-caged Hearts" by Michelle Rodriguez

I have to say, Michelle Rodriguez writes the swooniest Phantom and Christine stories! As you can see, the Recommender has been very busy doing other things than reading and reviewing, alas, (big garden/illustration jobs) but I had to get this review finished, for part 1 of this two novella collection, because I couldn't put it down! Rib-Caged Hearts revisits that moment when Erik gives up Christine to his rival for her affections, the worlds most famous Vicomte, Raoul de Chagny. This is staged in a way quite differently from most takes on this love triangle, and Ms. Rodriguez creates a heartbreaking moment and one you'll have to read to understand the emotional fall-out a selfless act can generate. Erik wanted to be loved for himself, and it looks like this is something that might actually happen. Christine is on the brink of becoming his, or so it seemed. Then, a shadow from his past appears. Someone who knows Erik's darker side and has watched, enviously, as the Opera Ghost ruled over the Paris Opera House. Someone who reminded Erik that he was a monster, unworthy of love. Damian, a gypsy magician who aided Erik's escape from his caged humiliation and has now tracked him to his lair with a proposal. One Erik seems ready to accept. Can it be the end of Erik and Christine's love story? You will have to get a copy of this collection and see for yourself. The Recommender will review the second story as time allows!
*A fun note: This past August I attended the fabulous PhantomCon in Richmond, VA. and got to spend time with the talented and lovely author, Michelle, and her talented and adorable cover photographer, Jessica Elizabeth. I also got to meet Elaina, the beautiful cover Christine on several of Michelle's books. It's not every day you meet a book cover girl and Jessica's covers capture the spirit of Michelle's words perfectly. See the image above.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Baby, It's Cold Outside: "All the Stars in the Heavens" by Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani's dishy, addictive new book, All the Stars in the Heavens, is a fictionalized look at one of Golden Age Hollywood's great (and sssshhhh... secretive!) love stories! The story of Loretta Young and Clark Gable. Anyone who grew up on the great films of that era in the movies or on TV or maybe on TCM will find this look into their love and lives fascinating and you can imagine those larger than life figures acting exactly the way Ms. Trigiani captures them. Loretta, actually Gretchen, was one of four beautiful sisters raised by a single Mom who was a star in her own right, an interior designer to the stars. These amazing women lived and worked in the early days of the studios, all having jobs in the industry. Loretta was in film from the age of 4 and had made 50 movies by the time she met Clark and starred opposite him in William Wellman's "Call of the Wild". Loretta has been given a secretary in this story. A young woman from Italy who had been hoping to become a nun. Circumstances lead her to Ms. Young's employ and she acts as a witness to the drama unfolding both on and off camera in the wilds of Washington State on the wintery, snowy Mt. Baker. What happened on Mt. Baker stayed on Mt. Baker... to a degree, but you'll be in on the scoop as you follow the story to its moving conclusion. Highly recommended!

And get yourself a DVD of The Call of the Wild because you'll want to see the magnetism of the two leads in action!
Here's a brief glimpse thanks to Youtube and saxondog2001

Monday, September 7, 2015

Bread and Roses: "Second Helpings at the Serve You Right Cafe" by Tilia Klebenov Jacobs

Emet First, a man in his early 30's, is a natural chef and baker. He is part native American and an upbeat sort of guy. He works at the Serve You Right Café for Eden Rose, a well liked and respected woman who is also good-hearted and always ready with a hand-out to help those that need it. Emet had been one of those that needed it.
He has a past. But then, so does Eden Rose.
As the story begins, Emet is about to meet up with a girl whose breakfast he had chivalrously paid for earlier, when she realized she had forgotten her wallet. He is excited, but worried that opening up to her and letting her in on his secret will scare her away. The girl, Mercey, is a physical therapist. She has a great job and a degree, but there is something she is hiding from Emet, too.
Despite her credentials and career, Mercey has a family she is ashamed of. A father who ran out. A mother with MS... and a twin brother from hell.
Can Emet and Mercey get past their histories and start a new one? That is one of the stories you'll learn as time goes by and customers and friends and the occasional bad check cross the threshold of the delightful Serve You Right Café. The book should come with recipes, or better yet, baked goods, because the descriptions of Emet's creations will have you dying for a taste!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

"The Bloody Shoe Affair" by Joy York

These days, with kids wired to a variety of devices and actual face time becoming a thing of the past (unless the face they are interacting with is on a screen), you might forget that not that long ago kids had adventures and hanging with friends was filled with conversation, laughs, surprises...and maybe even solving a mystery or two. Joy York's delightful The Bloody Shoe Affair: a Daring and Thrilling Adventure with the Jailer's Daughter brings back a more innocent, and yet fun time. Set in 1968, Christi and her family are visiting relatives in the small town of Roselyn, Mississippi. It's her grandparents 50th wedding anniversary. Christi is going to be staying with her cousin, Lily, while the rest of the family heads to her grandparent's farm.
Lily is smart, spunky, popular and very pretty. She is also the daughter of the county jailer and the jail is attached to their house. Criminals come and go, deputies guard the entry and Lily's mom makes sure everyone is well fed with home-cooked meals.
Lily is also always up for adventure and not above playing pranks on Christi, though they are best friends. Christi adores her cousin and the experiences they've shared over the years... but on this particular visit she may have more adventure than she bargained for.
The night before Christi arrives, Lily is already trying to figure out why her father and the deputies have been so hush-hush about a new prisoner. And then, there's a bag with a bloody pair of women's shoes! What could be going on? And before she knows it, Christi is caught up in the web of secrets, intrigue and ...well, there are some cute boys in the mix, too, so this has all the makings of the most memorable summer ever! Grab a copy and join  the girls as they track down clues and try to uncover the big secret of the mystery of the bloody shoes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Teen Spirit: "Boo" by Neil Smith

Sometimes you come across a book that is so original you want everyone you know to read it. Boo by Neil Smith is such a book. It is very funny, yet also quite poignant. And thoughtful. It is a book you will remember as our lead character, 13 year old Oliver "Boo" Dalrymple, has such a memorable voice and presence.

 Boo is, or should we say was, a boy who is super smart yet lacking a bit in social skills. The story is set in 1979 so he has to deal as best he can. Today he would probably be coded and placed on some spectrum or other. He is called Boo because he is pale, almost albino pale, and has blonde stick-uppy hair. He was born with a defective heart which would have caused him some problems later in life. He is also the main target of Helen Keller Jr. High's bullies. There are boys in his class who live to make Boo miserable. Or did. But something happened one day as he stood at his locker, memorizing the Periodic table and gazing at photos of his two heroes, Richard Dawkins and Jane Goodall. He dies.

And then wakes up again in a fascinating afterlife called Town which is a kind of Heaven that is populated only by 13 year old Americans. As Boo adjusts to this new life he writes it all down for his devoted parents who may never see it, but it gives him purpose and us his story.

And as his story unfolds, he finds that it is easier to actually make friends and be accepted in this other world than on earth. One person he befriends is a boy who died the same day. A boy who had been kind to Boo back home.  A handsome, popular boy. We will find out how they both ended up here and Boo will realize it may not have been his holey heart that gave out on him.
The Recommender LOVED this book. If you are looking for something different to read this summer, check out Boo. It is about as delightfully different as you can get. Thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Pen Pals: "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend" by Katarina Bivald

Sara Lindqvist  is a young woman from Sweden who has never really had an adventure besides the ones she read about in the books from the book shop where she'd worked. For several years she has corresponded with and exchanged  books with an elderly lady named Amy Harris who lived in a small Iowa town called Broken Wheel.
As their friendship grows over their mutual love of reading, Sara is finally ready to experience something new and despite her parents reservations, and their pushing her to visit New York or Los Angeles, Sara finds herself, one day, in the center of the town of Hope, Iowa, with a book by Louisa May Alcott, a large suitcase and in need of a ride to Broken Wheel.
So begins one of the most delightful of stories and one that will warm the heart of any book lover. Like Sara,  the reader will get to know and love Broken Wheel and its quirky yet kind inhabitants. I won't spoil this absolutely enchanting story for you, better you should get a copy and join Sara, Amy and the good people of Broken Wheel on an adventure you won't soon forget.  Highly Recommended by the Recommender! Thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Me and My Shadow: "The Angel's Shadow" by Louise Anne Bateman

In  Louise Anne Bateman's The Angel's Shadow Meg comes out of the fiction shadows to take her place as the star of this very intriguing retelling of the Phantom's story. This Meg is a girl of contradictions. On the one hand, she is caught up in the world of ballet and the opera, a loyal friend and confidant to Christine Daae' and a loving daughter to her single Mom, ballet mistress and concierge of the Paris Opera House, Madame Antoinette Giry. But on the other, she is fighting off a darkness she doesn't quite understand, and is also a girl who acts on her impulses.
One impulse was to sneak out of the safety of the Opera House one night to meet a man she doesn't really know. When this man attempts to have his way with her... someone steps out of the shadows and rescues her. Part of this rescue is the dark figure taking care of business by murdering the potential rapist. She is grateful, but a bit concerned at the loss of life. Who is this man who was willing to kill for her? As she begins to realize that the rumors and gossip about the Opera Ghost who haunts the hidden recesses of the Opera House is, in fact, a reality, and that both Christine and her mother have connections to this Phantom, her curiosity gets the better of her, and we follow Meg as she uncovers these secrets... and so much more! For the Erik who has saved her, might also hurt her in ways she can't imagine, and yet, she finds herself continuously drawn to this dark and damaged man. And you, dear reader, will be, too! Let me just say that I am looking forward to book 2! Which I hope will be very, very soon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A Little Help from Your Friends:"The Happy Hour Choir" by Sally Kilpatrick

Beulah Land plays the piano and sings at a local honky-tonk bar called the Fountain. It sits across the street from  the County Line Methodist Church, a place that was part of her past and that's where she wants to keep it, but one evening, while playing country songs and requests from the regulars, a man walks in, a very attractive one, who orders a beer and sits down to listen. When Bill, the proprietor of the Fountain, calls for Beulah's signature song, the one she was named after, the old hymn, "Beulah Land"... this new guy frowns, even as all the patrons sing along with her. He doesn't like her risqué spin on it. "What are you?" she questions "Some kind of preacher?" "Fully ordained" he replies.
Thus begins this engaging and heartfelt story filled with equally engaging and heartfelt characters. Beulah, having gone through a teen pregnancy and kicked out by her preacher father and unforgiving mother has the good luck to be rescued and taken in by her piano teacher, Ginger Belmont, an old lady with spirit, gumption and the ability to straight talk anyone who deserved it, no matter their standing in the community.  Beulah is devoted to Ginger, and despairing at the fact that Ginger is ailing. Ginger, though, is not one to lie down and give up. She has some business to take care of first, like maybe getting Beulah fixed up with someone nice and possibly saving some other people out there that need rescuing. Ginger is one of those wonderful women you want in your corner. In fact, I think we all need a Ginger telling it like it is and bossing us around but only with our best interests at heart.
There's a lot more to author Sally Kilpatrick's The Happy Hour Choir, but, as is my policy, you've got to go get a copy to find out what happens and also enjoy the company of  Beulah, Ginger, Luke (the preacher) and a whole lot of other interesting types you'll meet hanging in and around the Fountain. This one's a great summer-time read. Heck, it's a great read anytime of year!
Thanks to NetGalley for the DRC!

This may not be Beulah's version of this old song but thanks to Youtube I found this very sweet version by Hope Montana singing at the Baker Creek Festival:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Passion Play: "Scripted in Love's Scars" by Michelle Rodriguez

Michelle Rodriguez brings something new to the Phantom canon. I adored her Opera Ghost Unraveled and her short stories are breathtakingly romantic. Now, she has released another full length Phantom novel, Scripted in Love's Scars,  and needless to say, she doesn't disappoint!
The story begins when Christine is being inducted into the Paris Opera House ballet corps. A rite of passage is to shove the aspiring ballerinas, one at a time, into the first cellar of the Opera House and hold the door closed for several minutes to see if she would survive an encounter with the Opera Ghost. He was more myth to them than reality, and when confronted by the ghost himself, most of the girls would shriek and panic and then, later, add their tale to the Opera Ghost legend.
Christine is pushed through the door into the blackness of the cellar. She doesn't have long to wait before the Ghost makes an appearance. But something is different about this girl, Erik finds. She stares back at him, and for moments they are locked in each other's gaze, Erik captivated, yet feeling oddly exposed, even though he wore his mask. Then she is gone, as Meg pulls her back into the light.
But not gone for good, as this is where Erik realizes their destinies would become intertwined, as he thinks, and not long after, materializes before her in the closed up Opera House, as Christine tries to rehearse her ballet moves, alone on the stage. At first he is a voice from the darkened theatre, giving her suggestions on how to improve on her ballet training... but, when he finds her heart is not in the dance, but in music... he comes closer, becomes her Angel of Music... and well, so much more!
So, we do have our Erik and Christine passion play brought about with a fresh interpretation, but we also have a drama to contend with, about which I will say no more, because there were moments that were so tense and suspenseful and...well, I really wondered what was going to happen, and on more than one occasion I had to shout "Oh NO!!!" at my copy of this wonderfully addictive story! This was one of those books you don't want to end it is so good and it's one I highly recommended for Phantom Phans or anyone who enjoys a good, compelling and genuinely romantic story!

Another unique aspect to Ms. Rodriguez's books is the very talented cover artist, photographer and designer she works with, Jessica Elizabeth. I've come to look forward to her vision of each book as she captures the spirit of Erik and Christine on each cover so perfectly!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Back to the Future: "The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster" by Scott Wilbanks

Sometimes a book comes along that is so appealing it entices you from the first line and sweeps you along to the end while making you believe totally in its reality along the way . The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, by Scott Wilbanks, is such a book. It is completely charming, filled with endearing characters and even dastardly villains. It has time travel, not old hat time travel, but something new. A red door that is purchased on a whim.
The day after its installation in Annie Aster's Purple Victorian she opens it to go out to her back garden and finds... not her usual plants and whatnot... but a wheat field. And across the wheat field sits a cabin. And in a brass mailbox attached to her garden gate Annie finds a letter. From the occupant of the cabin. For this occupant, an irascible, widowed, retired schoolmarm, had noticed that there was a strange house sitting in her back 40. And she is not happy about it, she lets Annie know. The letter is dated 1895.
Annabelle Aster is a modern young woman living in 1995 San Francisco. She leans toward a vintage Victorian style of dress, and being very beautiful, pulls this look off quite naturally. She is an orphan, having been raised by two university professors and a marvelous Godmother. She has, since their passing, been living alone in the house she inherited. Her one great friend is a handsome young man named Christian who is a kindred spirit with a pronounced stutter.
It is with Christian she shares her discovery. And the fact that she has replied to the letter. This correspondence across place and time is the key to what will follow and what will be discovered, uncovered and... well, there are other surprises in store. We will also meet some other beguiling personages from the present and from the past, including Cap'n. A street urchin that would make even the Artful Dodger and Fagin proud.
This book is such a complete delight you'll find yourself wanting to go back in time, too... or, at least, back to the beginning of this story to relive the mystery, fun and romance all over again! Very highly recommended!
And, OK, this title is not coming out until August but I just had to help get the word out! Thank you to NetGalley for making this wonderful book available for reviewing!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Diving in: "The Start of of Me and You" by Emery Lord

Paige Hancock is just starting her junior year of high school. For the past year she had been known by the label "the Girl Whose Boyfriend Drowned". She was the class widow, the one who got "the look" from teachers, classmates, people on the street. She was devastated by the loss of Aaron, her boyfriend, but they had only been going out for two months...
So, it was time to start fresh. She would never forget Aaron, but she had a long life ahead of her. She had three great girlfriends, divorced parents who shared time with Paige and her younger sister, and a wonderful Grandmother who she could spill her secrets, hopes and dreams to...though she did seem a little forgetful these days.
She decides to write a list, a set of challenges to help her move forward and rejoin high school society and, well, life in general. It began with the title How to Begin Again and included parties/social events, joining a new group, traveling, swimming (something she used to love but since Aaron's accident had developed a phobia about), and ... dating!
She had a boy in mind, when she wrote that word on her list. Ryan Chase. A boy who  used to have a popular steady girlfriend, was athletic... but also very kind to his sister who had recovered from cancer. And he understood what "the look" was all about because of that. One day, Ryan overhears Paige responding to someone's concerned query about Aaron. He sympathizes with her and before they part ways he tells her they would "make it a good year in Honors English" which both had on their upcoming school schedule.
Preoccupied with Ryan and finding herself seated next to him in that very English class... the teacher has other ideas and mixes the seating arrangements up, and Paige now finds herself sitting next to Max Watson, Ryan's super smart, nerdy cousin.  Was this switch going to be a let down for Paige... or the beginning of something she wasn't expecting?
Ms. Emery's characters are people you enjoy spending time with. We follow Paige as she struggles with her feelings, pushes herself in new directions and slowly relearns to embrace what life throws at her.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lean on Me: "Goodbye Stranger" by Rebecca Stead

When Bridget Barsamian was eight years old, she roller-skated into traffic and later woke up in the hospital where the doctor told her she shouldn't be alive, and later, a nurse commented that she must have been put on earth for a reason.
She missed third grade, went through numerous surgeries...and skip ahead a few years and here she is, starting 7th grade. On the third Monday of the new school year, she started wearing a headband with black cat ears attached to it, that seemed to become a comfortable part of her personality.
Bridge is such a wonderfully realized complex girl as are her closest friends, Tabitha and Emily. They have been friends since the fourth grade when Bridge came back to school after her recuperation from the accident. They decide they should be a 'set" of girls who do things together such as drawing on the corners of their homework and later, as their friendship grows over the years, they become the set of girls who never fights.
Goodbye Stranger is also the story of Bridge's brother, Jamie, and of a mysterious un-named alternate girl narrator, and of Sherm Russo, a thoughtful boy who becomes something special to Bridge. Possibly, a best friend.
These girls (and the boys) grow and experience new challenges and ethical dilemmas over the course of the year. As they struggle for acceptance from peers, try to do the right thing and just learn about themselves we come to love them and fear for them and cheer them on in the right directions. These are the kind of kids you'd want to hang out with if you were in 7th grade. And this is a book the Recommender loved so much she just wanted to hug it! I'm betting, once you read it, you will, too!
* Note: This book comes out in August, but I wanted to help get the word out. Thanks to NetGalley for the DRC!

This great song by Bill Withers compliments this wonderful book!
(thank you, Youtube)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Games People Play: "The Deception Artist" by Fayette Fox

The Deception Artist, by Fayette Fox, takes you into the world of Ivy, a delightful little girl with a big imagination, growing up in the 1980's. She is always ready to play pretend and doesn't understand when her best friend seems to be growing away from her and their games and why the other girls at school seem to laugh at some of her ideas. These things may bother her but she's very much her own person and not afraid to be creative... even if it means stretching the truth once in a while. Her parents love her, though they can get annoyed, sometimes, like when she draws up a design for her brother Brice's bedroom to suit herself while he's recovering from appendicitis in the hospital. That doesn't mean she doesn't love him, or worry about him... it's just being practical. Why let that bigger space go to waste if he's not using it?
She is also a talented artist and always drawing. She likes to imagine what life will be like when she grows up... she can practically see herself, there, in the future... painting at an easel, finally having her own cat, but that's just pretend. Or is it? Why does that young woman seem to be looking back at her, too?
This is a wonderfully captivating story and Ivy is an endearing and memorable little girl who, though often puzzled by the relationships around her, carries on trying to do the right thing, in her own plucky way.

This song has nothing really to do with this book... but I think Ivy would agree with the sentiments.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dream a Little Dream of Me: Hugo and Rose by Bridget Foley

When she was six years old, Rose received a bicycle for her birthday. One summer
day, a few months later, her father takes her out to teach her to ride. He runs along side her encouraging her until she is pedaling on her own... though once she realizes her dad has let go she flips over and cracks her head.
As she lies in a coma in the hospital she finds herself on an island, an island with pink sand and beautiful, clear water and... a boy. A boy a little older than her with chocolate brown eyes and sandy hair. A boy who smelled of caramel. The boy says to her "It's about time you got here". This boy is Hugo.
Together he and Rose have adventures on this wonderful island, fighting giant spiders and sailing in the Plank Orb and forever trying to get to Castle City where everyone else was supposed to be.
From the moment Rose wakes up and comes back to her parents, she will never again dream of anything other than her brave and beautiful and heroic Hugo. And the island. And her best self. The brave and beautiful and heroic Rose she is in her dreams.
Daily life goes on, though, and Rose meets and falls in love with and marries Josh who will become a surgeon and they will have three children who want more, more, more of the adventures of Hugo and Rose. They will invent games based on their mother's dreams and pretend to be them when playing.
Rose should be content, but the physical self of the real world makes her long for the strong and able Rose of her dreams. The Rose who is still young and beautiful. She is filled with doubts and insecurities and forever running kids to play dates here or there and once, when there was a rained out soccer game and the line to the MacDonald's was too long, Rose looks for another drive-thru and finds a place called Orange Tastee. It looks like any other third rate fast food place but it is here where Rose's life is about to change.
 Bridget Foley's Hugo & Rose is a book so beautifully imagined and visual you'll find yourself longing for the island. It's a love story on many levels... but the connection between Hugo and Rose is the one that will haunt you even after the last page is turned. One of my favorite books of this year... or any! Highly recommended!
The catchy, classic song "Downtown" is referred to in Hugo & Rose (thanks Youtube!)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Days of Future Passed: The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman

I just finished a book (thank you Edelweiss!) that is so riveting and bonesse and if you have not spoken that word, before, believe me, that after you finish the amazing Country of Ice Cream Star  by Sandra Newman... you will find yourself adding words to your vocabulary from its inventive language that seem so real and so perfectly descriptive and lyrical they are almost Shakespearean.
Ice Cream Star is 15. She and her brother Driver and the other Sengles, their nomadic group, live and hunt and love and war in a future that is over-shadowed by an AIDs like illness that kills you before you reach 20. A lot of life is packed into those years for these survivors of a past plague that killed off a good part of the planet including most Caucasians. Driver, who is also the sergeant of the Sengles, is 18. He has been taken with posies, their word for the illness that is a death sentence for any who become infected.
The Sengles scavange the wasteland of the former USA, pillaging ruined homes and developments for food and anything else they come across that might be useful. Often they find the long dead bodies (or sleepers) of the former tenants. It is on one of these expeditions they discover a Roo, a man of a white race they manage to capture. Who this captive is and how he affects Ice Cream Star and her people will be revealed... but not by the Recommender!
Ice Cream Star is such a brave, thoughtful, resourceful and just smart young woman that you would follow her anywhere, and you will, in her journey through this addictive book.  I knew nothing about this story before I was approved for the DRC so I think the less you know about something so surprising and wonderful and with such a bellesse and vally heroine the better. This just might be my favorite book of 2015 and... word is, there is a follow-up in the future! In MY future, as well!

* After you've read the book, here is a link from Ms. Newman's blog with an edited out scene: Of My Horse Money

Sunday, January 25, 2015

A Voice in the Darkness: "All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr

It is the 1930s. Marie-Laure, a young French girl, living with her father, finds herself losing her sight. Her father, who works at  a Natural History Museum as master of all the keys, is devoted to her and will help her to reach independence and to keep her inquisitive intelligence despite her blindness.
Meanwhile, in Germany, a German orphan named Werner lives with his sister, Jutta, in an orphan home run by an older French woman. He, too, has an inquisitive mind, and one day brings home an old radio he finds on an excursion and figures out how to make it work. This opens up a whole new world for him, his sister and the others living in the home as they listen to music and news and late at night, he and Jutta listen to a lone voice talking about science and the world of the mind and Werner sees his future before him. Or does he?
Will these two cross paths one day? What awaits them at the onset of WWII and all the tragedy and deprivation and horror that will bring? Mr. Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See is a luminous masterpiece of storytelling. These young people and the world around them come alive as we follow them through this tale of survival of the spirit and of bravery in the face of all odds. Highly, highly recommended.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Trick or Treat: "The Well" by Catherine Chanter

One of the most stunningly written works that the Recommender has read recently is The Well by Catherine Chanter, a realistically futuristic look at a Great Britain devastated by a long drought and a London couple who have purchased a country farm that seems immune to the problems and hardships that plague their neighbors and the rest of society.
It begins with Ruth Ardingly's release from prison and her return to the Well, her farm, and her subsequent House Arrest for something we will discover as the story unfolds. What happens is frighteningly plausible. The Well, a character in itself, is a gorgeous farm with an almost supernatural water source, from its active stream to the mysterious rainfall that only falls there and not on the neighboring farms and villages. Crops thrive, wildlife, plants and trees flourish. Is it a miracle? Or something darker?
As we get to know Ruth and her back story, we learn she been happy in London. It was her husband, Mark, who wanted to leave for reasons which will be revealed, and Ruth supported him in the search for a refuge away from the city, away from her friends and a way of life she will leave behind. They come across the Well on a drive in the country and soon are the owners of that vibrant piece of land, one that they hope will change their lives. How it changes them may not be what they had in mind.
I won't give any more away, as you will want to discover the secrets of The Well for yourself. And, let me just say, you will never complain about a rainy day, again!
This book won't be released until May, but I wanted to get the word out, because it's that good!
And below, a lovely song that compliments the story.