All about the books (reading in progress)

Hello lovely readers,
My last page failed to live up to my expectations so I remaking this page...
I love reading and while I try to write a blurb for each book I don't have a central location to share the book I have read and recommend. So here is my solution... Some of these books I have already written about but I will keep the page updated on more books I have read. I mostly read historical fiction but I always take recommendations for other books, so please contact me (link).

Some of my favorites...
1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith- Cassandra as a narrator is endearingly honest and candid--sometime poetic, sometimes practical.. The story that emerges is so fresh and captivating in part because she comes to the page with her emotion and excitement still glowing from whatever event has just transpired. The story is set in the 1930s English countryside where Cassandra, her sister Rose, their brother Thomas and step-mother all live at the whims of their father, who wrote one ground breaking book but now suffers writers block and they fear he will never write again. They have been living practically rent free in an old abandoned castle but they are still "romantically destitute."  Rose is so desperate for a change she makes a deal with a gargoyle that could be a devil or an angel, that is when life at the castle begins to change with the arrival of two brothers and the chance of love for both Rose and Cassandra. It's impossible not to get wrapped up in her story, her emotions, her fantasies and her disappointments.

2. Emma by Jane Austen- I know a few people who despise Emma because she is spoiled, headstrong, and sometimes puts her own thoughts and feelings above those around her. She is blind to the dangers of meddling in other people's lives; and her imagination and perceptions often lead her astray and hurt the people around her. That is probably why I love her... because while she is all those things she is always hopeful, she has a strong sense of rightness, and when she fails she continues to fix herself (even if it leads to more blunders). I also love the story because of Mr. Knightley, that though he knows all of Emma's faults he continues to love her, wants her to be a better person, and is not afraid to call her out when she needs it. I think that's the kind of person I want to love me.

3. A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers- I find reading this book when I am going through a low point in my faith is really reassuring. Hadassah has just lived through the Roman capture of the Israel, where she watches her entire family die of starvation disease or other reasons and now she is sold into slavery. She feels she barely has enough strength to continue on but she is put to the test when she develops feelings for a handsome aristocrat, and she struggles to find ways to share her faith in a society that has outlawed Christianity. The story deals with dependence on God, dark temptations, family tensions, false religion, and tragedy...some of the things we deal with today. "Rivers uses these elements to weave a gripping story that allows God to show His strength and prevail as the hero." I also recommend the second book in the trilogy Echo in the Darkness but I wasn't a big fan of the third book.

4.  Wives and  Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell- When seventeen year old Molly Gibson's widowed father remarries, her life is turned upside down by the arrival of her vain, manipulative stepmother. She also acquires an intriguing new stepsister, Cynthia, glamorous, sophisticated and irresistible to every man but she has her own secrets from the past. The two girls begin to confide in one another and Molly soon fins herself a go-between in Cynthia's love affairs - but in doing so risks losing both her own reputation and the man she loves. I like this book because it is clear from the writing Molly is beautiful on the inside but her outer looks are often over looked because she is quiet. I think this one of the few time I would say the mini-series is slightly better than the book because sadly Gaskell died before finishing and the mini-series is able to give Molly a happy ending that I think Gaskell would be proud of.

5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen- I actually like all of Jane Austen's books but Emma and Sensibility are my favorite. I consider myself an Elinor Dashwood but wanting to be a Marianne. Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behavior leaves her open to gossip. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Though their parallel experience of love - and its threatened loss- the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Historical Fiction...
1. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers- It is a retelling of the book of Hosea. It takes place in 1850;s during the California gold rush. Sarah "Angel" is sold into prostitution as a young girl and though she is more beautiful than any other girl she is also cold to the world around her (makes sense with her background). Then one day Michael Hosea walks into her life telling her they will get married, she laughs it off, thinking he just has empty promises. But he comes to her rescue though she agrees to marry him her heart is hardly in it. She runs away and Michael always comes to rescue her. Even though she starts to love Michael something inside her stops her from truly letting Michael into her hear. It is great book to remind me how deep and all-consuming love God has for us.
2.  A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly- This is the novel that introduced me to the writing of Jennifer Donnelly and I fell in love with her writing. and her story telling abilities. Sixteen year old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown (from Theodore Drieser's An American Tragedy) asks her to burn a bundle of secret letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers the letters reveal the grim truth behind a murder. Now she must decide between pursuing her dreams or following the wishes of her family?

3. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson- For my love of WWI this really satisfied that love of the time period. It is a story of Lady Elizabeth "Lilly" Ashford who leaves behind her world of luxury and elegance to follow her dreams of seeing the world. The novel is also told from the perspective of Robert "Robbie" Fraser, though he is a doctor he comes from a family as poor as dirt. Though there is an initial attraction between Lilly and Robbie they are pulled apart because of their class distinctions. Soon the war breaks out and they separate further but fate brings them together again. There was one sexual scene that I was a little uncomfortable with, but for the most part the story is captivating and I loved the strength Lilly had even when she feels the world is falling apart.

4.  The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah- I am not a big WWII reader but I fell in love with this book. The story is about two sisters Vianne and Isabelle, who live in German occupied France. Vianne just tries to to survive the war making tough choices between right, wrong, and life in order to save her child and her farm. Isabelle is more rebellious and joins the resistance against the Nazi's. It is a powerful story and kept me at the edge of my seat till the end. The book jacket put it best: "With courage, grace and powerful insight, best selling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women's war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years of experience, by ideals, passion and circumstances, each embarking on her own dangerous path towards survival, love, and freedom in German--occupied, war-turn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrated the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime."

5. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman- After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherborne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day's journey from the coast. To this isolated island Tome brings his young, bold and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriage and one stillbirth the grieving Isabel hears a baby cry on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom, who keeps meticulous records and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel insists the baby is "a gift from God," and against Tom's judgement, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, they return to the mainland and come face to face with the reality that their choices have devastated the lives of people they never met. It is beautiful but I did have to have the tissues close to me. I also see they are making this into a movie... yeah I will not be wearing massacre to this one. 

6. The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain- Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight year old who has all but given up on love and happiness--until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in lively and volatile group--the fabled "Lost Generation"--that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Poundm and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. (If you like Midnight in Paris, I recommend it for this part.) As Ernest struggle to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold onto her sense of self as her role as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage--a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they've fought so hard for. I have not read any Heningway and I still enjoyed this story.

7. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.- It is 1939, Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger has lost her mother and brother and is living as a foster child outside of Munich, who scratched out a meager existence for herself stealing when she encounters something she can't resist--books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to reads and the power of words. She shares the stories with her neighbors during bombing raids and makes an unlikely friendship with the Jewish man hiding in her basement. I thought it brought to light a part of history, I had never thought of and told the story from the interesting perspective of Death. 

8. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson - On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursuala Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula's world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization-- if only she has the chance? It was a hefty book to read but very fast pace and worth it. 

P.S.- Most of the descriptions come from Amazon.

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