Sunday, May 27, 2007


Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I was a little taken aback to hear that Kurt Vonnegut passed away today. What a coincidence, since I had just finished what is touted as his "anti-war masterpiece." The book was originally published in 1969 during the Vietnam War, but deals with a fire-bombing in Dresden, Germany six months before the end of World Ward II. The main character, Billy Pilgrim, is a prisoner of war in Dresden and survives the bombing that killed 135,000 people, more than the atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima. The book covers war stories, time travel and a visit to a far-away planet called Tralfamadoria. Needless to say, I was quite confused throughout most of the book. At the very end, Vonnegut puts out a few clues that explain why Pilgrim had the weird time-travel and space-travel sequences. The back leaf contains this quote which I found appropriate:"Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know."

Vonnegut's writing style is completely different from any author I've ever read, but I liked it. He's quite matter-of-fact, a little irreverent, and very conversational. It's odd but enjoyable. One line I found very annoying, though. After describing anyone's death or death in general, he would follow with "So it goes." It's in the book hundreds of times. (Don't know for sure, I didn't keep count.) I'm interested to hear how others liked this book. I'm glad I read it but I'm sure I will never read it again. And it's not a book that I could say anyone else would like. See, I'm still confused. So it goes.

Rating: 3
Posted by Framed at 8:29 PM

booklogged said...
So it goes! Well said. I'm not sure I want to venture into a Vonnegut book.
9:57 PM
Wendy said...
I agree, odd book; but I liked it and gave it a rating of 4 out of 5. This is what I said about the book:One of the most banned books of all time, Slaughterhouse Five is a satirical, quirky tale that pokes fun at sexuality and religion, and reveals war as a pointless and horrific endeavor. Vonnegut's story is part autobiography, and part science fiction. Odd, yet blackly funny, this is a book that should be read simply because so many people think it shouldn't be.
10:07 PM
Cassie said...
I have this book on my AP list so I'll read it someday. It'll probably be one of those that will sit until the last.
8:28 AM
Framed said...
Wendy, I liked your review and I agree that people shouldn't dictate what others read. Cassie, it's a short book and very easy to read.
7:08 PM
Les said...
I've never read Vonnegut, but if this one's short, maybe I'll give it a try. Maybe. ;)
3:20 PM
Framed said...
I meant to say conversational instead of conservational. Hopefully that makes more sense.
7:59 PM
Anglophile said...
It is a shame that Vonnegut didn't grab you. I think that Slaughterhoue Five is one of his most overrated books. If you really want to get a feel for him, try his short stories and Timequake as a novel or Hocus Pocus.
3:30 PM
Framed said...
Thanks Anglophile. I did like his style of writing, so I should read something else of his.
4:31 PM
Stephanie said...
I really loved this book! The whole time I was reading it, all I could think about was how weird it was. As soon as I closed the book, all I could think about was what a great book it was!! But it really isn't for every one. I was almost in tears when I read that Kurt Vonnegut had died.
5:14 PM
chittavrtti said...
I've always meant to read one of his works but have not done so yet. Everytime I'm in the book shop I look but then put back in favor of something else. But, one of these days...*CV


The View From Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

Monday, April 09, 2007

Konigsburg won a Newbury Award for this novel and I can certainly see why. The book is alive with great characters including the four six-graders who make up the winning quiz-bowl team and their teacher. Each child has a chapter which tells a story that leads to their journey to become one of the group:
"Noah, who quite by accident, was the best man at the wedding of Ethan's grandmother and Nadia's grandfather.
Nadia, a hybrid with a halo of red hair, a dog that's a genius and a fondness for baby turtles.
Ethan, the silent second son of one of Epiphany's oldest families, who discovers he likes halos, and
Julian, the strangest person on the school bus, who starts everything by inviting the others to a tea party. "
Mrs. Olinski, who was paralyzed in an auto accident, chooses these four for her team for no reason that she can explain, but it works. The book is written for 9 to 12 year-olds, but it can be enjoyed by any age. It's not sappy or silly, just well-written with an interesting plot. Delightful!
Rating: 4.50
Posted by Framed at 6:31 PM

booklogged said...
I really enjoyed this book a lot. Very touching and sweet. I liked the loose ends that all came together in the end.
11:20 PM
Joy said...
Thanks Framed! I will have to add this to my list of children's books to read. Sounds good.BTW ~ How did you come up with your name Framed and Booked? What does it mean? Just curious. :)
8:36 AM
SuziQoregon said...
I remember reading From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler multiple times when I was a kid. I never ready anything else by this author, though. Might have to take a look.
10:02 PM
Nan said...
This is one of my favorite books, and I think I've read it three times! I love the connections, the story, the writing. Clever and warm and kind-spirited. Nice posting.
1:45 PM
nessie said...
My all time fav has always been The Giver. Some say it is too advanced for grade six but I think its great introduction to great lit.
6:44 PM
Framed said...
Joy, I described coming up with Framed on my "Life's a Picture" blog on the very first posting. For this blog, I wanted to use Framed and relate it to books.I really love hearing other suggestions for books for this age group. They are so fun to read.
8:03 PM
Bellezza said...
I had a hard time with this book when I read it a few years ago. I think I just didn't get it! But, I didn't like her lost-in-the-library or museum or whatever it was either, and they both won a Newbery so what do I know? :)


The Hummingbird's Daughter by Louis Albert Urrea

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Teresa Urrea actually existed. She was born in 1873 in Sinaloa, Mexico, the illegitmate daugther of an Indian ranch worker. Later, she was acknowledged by her father, Don Tomas Urrea, the master of the rancho. She was also a cousin of Luis Alberto Urrea's great grandfather, who grew up hearing stories of the legendary Saint of Cabora. Early in his writing career, Urrea began researching his ancestor and, twenty years later, wrote this work of fiction. Since so many of the miracles, healings and mystic events are considered folklore, I considered this a great book to be included in this challenge. Whether you accept Saint Teresa's healings, miracles and her return from the dead as fact or not, this book is a truly fascinating story, beginning with Teresa's birth and following her to the age of nineteen. Urrea brings the characters to life in a way that makes them almost larger than life. Besides an in-depth study of Teresa herself, there is her philandering, but loveable father, Tomas; her instructor in the healing arts, Huila; her half-brother, Buenaventura; and the rancho foreman, Segundo, to name a few. It took a few pages for me to get into the story, but after that, I was hooked. Here's a couple of quote I marked:
>>>>>"You see," Huila explained, "this is how Heaven works. They're practical. We are always looking for rays of light. For lightening bolts or burning bushes. But God is a worker, like us. He made the world--He didn't hire poor Indios to build it for him! God's worker's hands. Just remember--angels carry no harps. Angels carry hammers."
>>>>>You cannot win your argument with God. You shake your fist at God, and you cry and curse Him every night in your bed. But you cannot win. In the morning, He is still there, waiting for you. All unbelievers are the same. You always thougth it made you different. You always felt unique. Above all the fools who followed God. But everyone who stops believing thinks he is the smartest one. You all compete with each other, not with God."
In an essay included at the end of the book, Urrea writes about his research experiences:
>>>>>I spent my boyhood thinking she was a myth, taking her place among all the demons, ghosts, apparitions, and cads, populating the crowded Urrea tall-tale arsenal. But as I discovered her historical trail, I found the documented events more astounding than the lies I'd heard in Tijuana. Here was a woman who could, according to the newspaper reporters from Mexico, the United States and Europe, heal the sick with a touch. While exuding the scent of roses, no less.
>>>>>"One of the first lessons Esperanza, a medicine woman descended from the Mayos, gave me was this: "White people think what we do is magic. It's not magic. It's science."
>>>>>"I tried. To listen and learn. I heard tales of miracles. I saw ghosts. I might even confess all that I saw when I get to know my readers better. But I never saw a single healing. But I learned of a deeper kind of healing. Something inexplicable. It has to do with serenity."
One of the curanderas in Cuernavaca told me, "if you do not want to join us in Teresita's work, then you must heal in the power of your own medicine. You must heal them with words. Literature is medicine too."
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 9:49 AM

Lisa said...
I've been interested in this book for some time, and haven't heard anything about it from anyone who's read it! Your 5 rating is going to convince me to put it on my TBR list. Thanks!!Happy Easter!
5:01 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
This sounds fascinating -- I especially liked that about angels carrying hammers. It's on my list now!
3:15 PM
booklogged said...
Lovely review. I bought this book after hearing Urrea speak at the Salt Lake book festival. It's been sitting on my bedside table ever since. You're review has encouraged me.
5:14 PM
Carl V. said...
Sounds fascinating and also sounds like something my wife would really get into. I'll have to mention this one to her. Good review!


Under the Sweetwater Rim by Louis L'Amour

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I can't believe I've never read a Lous L'Amour book before. Some kind of snobbishness about Westerns, I suppose. I went to the library to find a "U" title and started with the word "under." This book was the most interesting choice available. Believe me, "U" is a hard letter. And it is a very nice book, brown leather-like padded cover and a topigraphical map of the Wind River Range in Wyoming. So what about the actual story?? Well, it was written in 1971 (it almost went on the Decades Challenge, but I couldn't replace the one already there.) I expected all sorts of cliches: the strong, silent calvary man with a heart of gold, the pretty, little lady who is tough as nails, the stoic Indian scout. But the characters became more than cliches. The calvary man was all that and more but still had his own insecurities. The Indian is well-read and genteel and almost dies from starvation while on his own in the mountains. The little lady really was scared about her own fate and that of the soldier. And the bad guy was extremely scary and evil, but also a big good-looking lout who couldn't stand to be alone. And you are scared of him long before you actually meet him in the story. Plus several of the good guys actually get killed. There were a few other interesting characters that you never find out what happens to them, which was one thing I didn't like. That's pretty petty. L'Amour wrote such fantastic descriptions of the the Wyoming mountains making me want to visit more places than just Jackson Hole. And the story itself . . . very gripping, an action-packed suspense except for a slightly flat ending. What else can I say? I found it a fun book to read, completely different from my usual novels and will definitely read other books by L'Amour in the future.
Rating: 4.5
Posted by Framed at 8:55 PM

Cassie said...
I think I figured out your google problem. You are spelling the word wrong. It's cavalry, not calvary. So you should be able to find a good picture with that.
8:22 AM
Alyson said...
I think I have the same snobbishness about westerns, but you and Book both liked Louis L'Amour, so maybe I should give his books a try. Thanks for the review.
12:59 PM
Les said...
I may have to give this A-Z challenge a try next year. Might be a good way to discover some new-to-me authors! I've never read L'Amour either.
1:01 PM
booklogged said...
Oh, good grief! I thought I left a comment last night, but I guess it didn't take - yet again. I'm not sure I'm smart enough for blogging.I read my first L'Amour book last summer for the library reading program's western requirement. I decided I really need to read one by such a famous author. It was quite good and I may read another of his this summer. I read Utah Blaine - you could use it for your next A-Z challenge.
10:41 PM
Nan said...
You know, I haven't read him either. But I've wanted to since hearing his name in a Jimmy Buffett song. :<) He is one of those writers who never fade. My library has a whole "Westerns" section.
8:12 AM
Framed said...
I just bought a new western, "Holmes on the Range" by Steve Hockesmith. It's a mystery and looks humorous as well. There may be more to this western stuff than I ever imagined.


Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

**I'm so glad Carl V is hosting a fantasy challenge so I had a good excuse to take a break from the A to Z list. (Actually, I needed to get a book from the library for my "U" Title, and "Enna" was just waiitng nicely on the shelf.) You can read more about the challenge by cliciking on the link on my sidebar.
**What can I tell you about "Enna Burning"?
1. Shannon Hale is a fantastic author with beautiful prose.
2. The characters are delightful, including the bad guy.
3. The story keeps you enthralled.
4. The descriptions and use of the language are as entertaining as the story itself.
I could go on but enough. This novel is a sequel to "The Goose Girl." which I absolutely loved. It takes place two years later and involves Enna, a Forest Girl, who learns to speak to fire. The story tells about the war between Bayern and Tira, and how Enna becomes involved with her unusual talent. Of course, there is always a danger when one plays with fire, as Enna soon learns. I was also moved by the deep friendship between Enna and Isi. This book is a little darker than "The Goose Girl" which is somehow fitting. I look forward to reading the sequel soon.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 7:33 PM

Alyson said...
I haven't read this one yet, but I really enjoyed The Goose Girl and plan to read this one someday.
8:20 AM
Melissa said...
I was mildly disappointed with this one. While it was good, it wasn't nearly as intriguing as Goose Girl. Still, I'm glad you liked it.I just picked up River Secrets at the library. Another continuation of the story. I have high hopes...
11:31 AM
Cassie said...
I'll be excited when I have time to read this series. Who knows when that will be.
8:26 AM
Kailana said...
I haven't read her at all yet. I plan to read The Goose Girl after I finish the book I am reading, though.
6:08 AM
Framed said...
I did like the Goose Girl better but this one is great as well.
10:42 AM
Erin said...
This is my favorite of the Bayern books. :)
11:30 AM
jenclair said...
I'm really going to have to try some of Hale's books. I've been disappointed in all of the children's/YA books I've read lately.
6:18 AM
Carl V. said...
I'm glad you enjoyed it. She also has Princess Academy which, I'm told by my wife, is very good. It is a stand alone book that is not set in the Bayern universe.
7:48 AM
Framed said...
Carl, as a true Hale fan, I actually own "Princess Academy." I just haven't read it yet. Someday. I've even pre-ordered "Austenland."
8:11 PM
Quixotic said...
I loved The Goose Girl, and I have this one on my shelf to read. Look forward to getting to it, and the rest of Hale's books!!
4:39 AM
Nymeth said...
I have not yet read anything by Shannon Hale, but she definitely sounds like the kind of author I'll love.
11:18 AM
Chris said...
I really need to get around to this book! Everyone keeps saying such great stuff about it.
5:34 PM


Beware the Northing Much by E. R. Turner

Monday, April 02, 2007

*** This book was written for a young audience (9 to 12) and it has some great messages. Emma is a -12-year-old living in a small town during the Depression. Her best friend, Ivy, comes from a more affluent family and whose mother is quite the gossip. Many of the townspeople are close-minded and less accepting of the families living on the wrong side of the creek. During her 7th-grade year, Emma gains more confidence in herself and her ability to judge others. She learns to be more tolerant of differences. The novel also puts in a great plug for reading books. The title comes from a line in a poem by Elinor Wylie:
Whatever's good or bad or both
Is surely better than non;
There's grace in either love or loathe;
Sunlight, or freckles on the sun.
The worst and best are both inclined
To snap like vixens at the truth;
But, O beware the middle mind
That purrs and nevers hows a tooth!
Reason's a rabbit in a hutch,
And ecstacy's a were-wolf ghost;
But, O beware the nothing much
And welcome madness and the most!
The question raised is: Is it worse not to take a stand on something? To choose to remain indifferent, and not get involved? I really liked going back to a simpler place and time and live some of Emma's childhood, but also to have the point made that people were less accepting in that era. Wouldn't it be nice to have the best of both times?
Rating: 3
Posted by Framed at 7:10 PM

booklogged said...
That's a wonderful little poem and the book sounds good, too.


The Trouble with magic by Madelyn Alt

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Madelyn Alt's first novel of the "Bewitching Mystery Series" is a cozy easy read. Maggie O'Neill is a well-brought-up Catholic girl, now late twenties, who tends to be a bit rebellious. She is fired from her boring office job and falls into a job as a clerk at an antiques shop. Her boss, Felicity, just happens to be a witch. (Yes, one of those benign, earthy, intuitive types) Maggie's first day of work starts with the murder of Felicity's sister and events tumble into place from there. It turns out that Maggie has some buried extra-sensory skills herself that aid in solving the crime. The story also involves a very fine-looking detective (sparks fly when he arrests Felicity) and a very fine-looking male witch. Which one ends up with Maggie?? You don't find out in this book, maybe the next one. I find this novel to be a light, fun, and humorous book. It didn't tax my brain at all, the mystery is only so-so, and the ESP a little far-fetched, but I enjoyed it and will probably continue with the series.
Rating: 3.5
Posted by Framed at 7:09 PM

booklogged said...
Sounds pretty good. I think one of these months I'm going to read nothing but mysteries. Who knows when.
9:03 PM


Damascus Gate by Robert Stone

Friday, March 30, 2007

"On the cusp of the millenium, Jerusalem has become a battleground in the race for redemption. American journalist, Christopher Lucas, is investigating religious fanatics when he discovers a plot to bomb the sacred Temple Mount. A violent confrontation in the Gaza strip, a race through the riot-filled streets, a cat-and-mouse fame in an underground maze--as Lucas follows his leads, he uncovers an attempt to seize political advantage that reveals duplicity and depravity on all sides of Jerusalem's sacred struggle." Taken from the back cover
**The above description has a few things right. Chris Lucas is a journalist, there are fanatics and there is a bomb plot. There is even violence, although in this book, it's not very compelling or even interesting. And Lucas is just a scared, vaguely inept, religiously confused man who falls for the wrong woman. (Actually, Sonia is a pretty good woman, but she sure gets him involved in a mess.) I certainly didn't get the impression that he is the hero of this story. There is no hero. The maze is a very apt symbol for this novel. I felt I was in a maze while reading it. I was lost most of the time. There are so many conflicted characters, twists and turns, convoluted happenings, religious and political posturing; I was three-quarters through before I started to see a pattern. I just wasn't moved by the characters or anything that happened in the book. And Stone uses some pretty obscure words that I couldn't work out in context. When I couldn't find hesychastic in my dictionary, I was bummed. Do you know what it means? This quote from the ending sort of sums up the whole novel:" 'Losing it is as good as having it.''It meant, he thought, that a thing is never truly, perceived, appreciated or defined except in longing. A land in exile, a God in His absconding, a love in its loss. And that everyone loses everything in the end. But that certain things of their nature cannot be taken away while life lasts. Some things can never be lost utterly that were loved in a certain way.' "I read some of good reviews about Damascus Gate, but I just didn't get it. This book has been on the shelves for a few years now. I'll never read it again, but I'm glad to mark it off two lists.
Rating: 2
Posted by Framed at 8:07 PM

Alyson said...
Well, I'm glad to read a review I don't need to add to my TBR. It's too bad this wasn't a more enjoyable book for your sake. A Hesychast is one of a sect of mystics that originated in the 14th century among the monks of Athos, Greece. Hesychastic is an adjective meaning to be quiet or still. Don't I sound smart? Too bad I just looked it up on
9:10 AM
Framed said...
Thanks, Alyson. I admit my dictionary is old but I am loyal to it.
5:08 PM
Bookfool said...
I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one, but wow - 5 chunksters! That's fantastic!!
8:56 PM


Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Friday, March 23, 2007

**This novel follows the life of a young Chinese girl, Lily, through the horrendous act of foot-binding, her laotong friendship with Snow Flower, marriage, childbirth, etc. Lily tries to be the good girl by following the customs and rules of her community until she become rigid and judgmental, costing herself almost more than she is able to bear. See creates a fascinating picture of a culture that is so foreign to what I know and helped me to understand the sensibility and the cruelty involved in that culture. Women are considered useless except as vehicles to produce sons. To be truly beautiful, they must undergo two years of intense pain to create "golden lillies," feet that are approximately the size of a thumb. Her vivid descriptions of that process were horrifying, but she also explains how it demonstrates a woman's ability to bear pain and sacrifice. ("Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you have peace")
**The friendship of Lily and Snow Flower, beginning at age seven, is wonderful:
"The bed is lit by moonlight.
I think it is the light snow of an early winter morning.
Looking up, I enjoy the full moon in the sky.
Bending over, I miss my hometown."
"We all know that poem is about a scholar who is traveling and missing his home, but on that night and forever after I believed it was about us. Snow Flower was my home, and I was hers."
**See writes with the grace of the Orient and, while I truly enjoyed the lyrical pace of this book, I was saddened by the bleakness and heartbreak of these women's lives. I'm not sure I will ever read this book again, but I recommend it for the beauty of the writing, the taste of a completely foreign culture, and the portrayal of a magical friendship.
Rating: 4.5
Posted by Framed at 11:46 PM

Joy said...
I read this almost a year ago and rated it a 4/5. I compared it to MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, which I liked better. Glad it was a good read for you. :)
6:27 AM
Annie said...
I read this book last year, too, and really, really liked it. I know what you mean about the sadness, though I think I will definitely reread this one.Have you read Wild Swans? Joy, have you read it?
7:10 AM
Annie Frisbie said...
Oh, and for some reason blogger won't do my URL correctly--I'm at:http://superfastreader.comCheers,Annie
7:11 AM
3M said...
I'm glad you liked this, too. I loved it--rated it a 5. I plan on reading Wild Swans soon. Can't wait to see how they compare.
10:58 AM
SuziQoregon said...
I've got this on my shelf and still haven't gotten to it yet. One of these days . . .
12:27 PM
booklogged said...
I liked this book for the same reasons you listed. The introduction to customs so foreign to our own filled me with sadness, too. I'm glad they no longer have to endure the foot binding.
12:57 PM
Framed said...
Joy, I liked "Memoirs" better also. Annie & 3M, Wild Swans has been on my list for ages. Maybe your reviews will halp me move it up higher.Suzi, OOTD, that says it all in the book blog world.Booklogged, I read it based on your review, so thanks.
7:08 PM
Bookfool said...
I felt exactly the same as you did. It was a sad, moving, beautiful book that I learned a lot from. but, I knew I'd never reread it and swapped it within a week.
7:25 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
It sounds fascinating. I've been quite taken with the Orient ever since I started reading Pearl S. Buck.
12:08 AM
Les said...
It's still on my read-soon stack on my nightstand.
7:00 AM
Tristi Pinkston said...
Okay, so this comment isn't really related to your blog but where else am I supposed to gab at you?? :)I went to the library and got "Blessings" and "Owen Meany" yesterday. I also got "The Kitchen God" by Amy Tan and am enjoying it quite a bit so far. Thanks for your site -- you're pointing me to books I might never have picked up otherwise.
6:53 PM
Framed said...
Les, let me know when you review Snowflower. I'd like to read it.Tristi, It will fun to get your take on Owen Meany and Blessings. Owen's one of my favorites. I haven't read "The Kitchen God" yet, but I do like Amy Tan.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


Montana Sky by Nora Roberts

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This novel follows the line of other Roberts books that I have read (granted I haven't read a lot under the name of Roberts): very predictable romance, too many sexual encounters you see a mile away (good if you like to skip them as I do) and some type of mystery. Jack Mercy dies and leaves his ranch to his three daughters who have never met, with the provision they all have to live on the ranch for a year. This is especially galling to Willa, who grew up on the ranch trying to win her father's love and respect. During this year, a psycho killer is on the loose, and of course, all three sisters fall for handsome rugged cowboys. There is a twist in the mystery, but it still ends on a flat note. Roberts does a credible job of describing the beauty of Montana, and the book is a light, easy read.
Rating: 2
My suggestion--skip this book and read "Random Harvest" by James Hilton, instead.
Posted by Framed at 9:24 PM

booklogged said...
I'll follow your suggestion and skip this one.
9:14 PM
nessie said...
I read this one a million years ago and was like whatever. I agree with it being skipable. The title is corny but the only roberts worth reading is Sweet Revenge. A great read!
10:36 PM
Framed said...
Thanks, Nessie. If I feel in the mood for a Roberts romance, I'll look for that one.
11:33 PM
Judy said...
I'm not a big Roberts fan (I know, I know... that's almost blasphemy in some circles, but she head-hops too much for me). HOWEVER, I read one of hers recently I REALLY enjoyed: "Northern Lights" You might want to check that one out. The mystery in that one is pretty good.
6:12 AM


Random Harvest by James Hilton

Monday, March 19, 2007

**This is an English novel that had a similar flavor to "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins. I know I've been using other reviews lately, but this review by C Hutton on says exactly what I felt and experienced.
**"This story is a romance, a mystery, a critque on England's class structure, and a parable. Hilton uses the lost years of Charles Rainier as a methaphor for the lost years of the 1920/1930's when England failed to prepare for the next war. Told in flashbacks and bookended by World War I and World War II, the resolution is only revealed in its final sentence that will shock you and change everything that you have just read & thought you understood. You will go back and re-read the book as your perception of all the characters are altered by the surprise ending.
**Two cautions: First, see the 1942 Ronald Coleman/ Greer Garson movie AFTER reading the book to see how the ending is handled. Second, the opening few pages are set in an England and of a time that will be unfamiliar to most Americans, but if one continues on, the reader will be deeply rewarded. The ability to be surprised is a rare gift and Hilton delivers."
**Charles Ranier is such an complex, intriguing character. And he is so well-grounded considering the twists and turns in his life. He accomplishes so much in his life while still tortured by trying to fathom what happened in the two years lost to his memory. And I strongly admonish you not to see the movie first. My daughter had seen it and we started comparing the two while I was mid-book. She tried not to give anything away but there was one little slip. It certainly didn't ruin anything for me, but the ending was not quite as breathtaking as it could have been because I saw it coming. Still I could well appreciate how well-crafted it was, the story beautifully told, and the flavor of England in the 1920's and 30's incredibly illustrated. A very memorable read.
Rating: 5
BTW, Cassie, Kitty is the sister's step-daughter. That changes things, doesn't it?
Wow, I just crossed a book off three lists!!! It was so worth it.
Posted by Framed at 10:21 PM

Stephanie said...
Wow. I really love your blog! You are a challenge Queen! I wandered here from the Michelle's (3M) Decade Challenge. You have some great reviews....and I really love your TBR!
8:54 AM
Cassie said...
I'm sorry I ruined the ending a little bit. I guess I remember that she was the step daughter but still the fact that she starts flirting with him when she is 13 and he looks to be 40 is a little weird.
9:03 AM
booklogged said...
Wonderful review. Never even heard of this book, but sounds like one I need to read.
12:17 PM
Framed said...
Thanks, Stephanie, for the visit and kind remarks.Cassie, He's only 15 or so years older than her. The ending wasn't ruined. I just wasn't surprised by it.Booklogged, It's really good. I got my copy from Aunt Betty and it was published in 1941. But it has some water damage. Hilton also wrote "Goodbye Mr. Chips" and "Lost Horizon." I think I will add one of those to the next Classics Challenge. Now I need to see the movie.
6:15 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
My husband's fifteen years older than me. :) I'm curious now -- I'll definitely be looking for this book.
1:19 AM
Framed said...
Tristi, you'll really enjoy it, but the focus on the book is definitely not on the Kitty/Charles relationship.
11:36 PM


Blessings by Anna Quindlen

Saturday, March 17, 2007

>>I was not excited about reading this novel but there are very few authors who name starts with "Q". So I was very pleasantly surprised that I did enjoy the book. It has a creative storyline, interesting characters and intelligent prose. Here is the treatment on the back cover:
"Late one night, a teenage couple drives up to the big white clapboard home on the Blessing estate and leaves a box. In that instant, the lives of those who live and work there are changed forever. Skip Cuddy, the caretaker, finds a baby girl asleep in that box and decides he wants to keep the child . . while Lydia Blessing, the matriarch of the estate, for her own reasons, agrees to help him. Blessings explores how the secrets of the past affect decisions and lives in the present; what makes a person or a life legitimate or illegitimate and who decides; and the unique resources people find in themselves and in a community. This is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and personal change by the Pulitzer-Prize winning writer about whom The Washington Post Book World said, 'Quindlen knows that all the things we ever will be can be found in some forgotten fragment of family.' "
>>I liked getting to know the characters in this book and how they changed as they interact with each other and the baby. Quindlen uses these complex characters and the setting itself to draw the reader in. The story has a happy/sad ending that I found very satisfying.
Rating: 4
Posted by Framed at 9:24 AM

booklogged said...
I remember liking this book when I read it. I think it's the only book I've read by this author. Have you read others?
11:39 AM
Joy said...
This sounds good, Framed. Thanks for the review.
5:03 PM
Les said...
It's been a few years since I read this and I had to go back to my journal to see what I thought. I gave it an A- (8/10 Very good). Didn't write much about it, though. Just this:Very "jerky" narrative! Lacks transitions between past and present events. Nonetheless, I got swept up in the plot and grew to care about the two main characters and the predicament they became involved in. I wanted a happy ending, but also didn't want it to be too pat and predictable.
7:12 PM
Framed said...
Book, this is the only Quindlen book I've read. Joy, it was one of those books that are just relaxing to read.Les, Hmm, I didn't mind the transitions. I found it interesting. But I see you liked it any way.
10:12 PM


All the Rivers Run by Nancy Cato

This epic novel begins in the late 1800's with Philadephia Gordon's (Delie) arrival in Australia by means of being rescued from a ship wreck off the coast. Several chapters into the book, I realized that her entire family perished with the ship. It happened regularly that I would realize something several pages after the fact, and it lessened my enjoyment of the book. We meet Delie at the age of 13 and she is the only character we get know in any detail at all. The central theme of the story is a comparison between her life and the life of the river where she spends almost all of her adult life. Delie is a beautiful, headstrong and talented artist who attracts some interesting men, bears six children, four who reach adulthood, becomes the only woman skipper on the Murray River, etc. etc., almost too good to be true. Except that she is self-centered, weak-willed with men she is attracted to, not a wonderful mother at all, and scatter-brained at times. Even though I related to some of her thoughts and actions, I didn't like her very much. The story covers her younger years quite well, but when she begins bearing children, the pace continually increases until we are racing through her last years. She regrets getting old (one thing I identified with) and compares her life to a drop of water in the river. The river begins high up in the mountains, flows into the river which then ends with the sea. The water then evaporates and is carried back to the mountains as snow or rain. While, the drop of water is pretty meaningless in the scheme of things, the cyle of life, like the river, is a continual circle. Delie's life in Australia begins in the mountains, and continually she moves closer to where the river meets the sea. I did enjoy learnng more about the history of Australia and some of Cato's descriptions of the landscapes are breathtaking. I loved the way she describes Delie's fever during a bout of pneumonia:
"She saw her life as a drop, less than a drop, a molecule in the enormous river of time. A molecule of H2O, And with this temperature, she would soon evaporate. Her head began to vaporize first, becoming incredibly light. Then her neck and shoulders and soon her heart would be gone, her whole body turned to a whisp of steam . . .Something cold pressed against her lips which no longer existed."
Another river/life analogy:
"That must be her direction now, downstream, out into life. She must follow where the river went and travel the unknown landscape towards the distant sea. Pausing on the bridge between the dead past and the relentless future, she knew that there could be not standing still. Life beckoned her from beyond the farthest bend."
I'm glad to have this book finished. It would have been a better book if it had been shorter and if Delie had been a little less self-absorbed. Maybe, it's just the pictures of Sigrid Thornton (Man From Snowy River) on the cover and inside the book that put me off. I've never been able to decide if I like her as an actress or not. Even so, I have several more books about Australia that I hope I will like better than this one. It's not a bad read, just not a great one.
Rating: 3
Posted by Framed at 2:32 PM

Tristi Pinkston said...
Thank you for mentioning the actress's name! I saw the picture and immediately my brain went into overdrive ("Who is that? Who IS that???") I hate it when I can't pull out a name. :)Thanks for the review!
5:24 PM
Cassie said...
How funny that you read a book with her on the cover. I wonder if they made a movie out of it. Guess I'll pass on this one.
8:49 AM
Framed said...
Yes, it was an HBO movie. There were several pages of stills from the movie. Only one of the men were very truly good-looking and he dies.
10:23 AM
booklogged said...
The quotes are beautiful. If I'd only read the quotes I would have been tempted to read this one, but with your review I think I'll pass on this one.
1:22 PM
nessie said...
Man I never even hearf of this book ever but the review was tempting. thanks a mil
11:52 PM
Framed said...
Nessie, I hope you like it more than I did. I picked based another blogger's rave review and there were a lot of great reviews on Amazon. Book, I don't blame you. It's way too long for an iffy read.
9:23 AM


The Quiet Heart by Patricia Holland

Patricia T. Holland is the wife of Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church. She has written a beautiful book of hope and peace. It was just what I needed to read at this particular time. Holland tells stories that encourage and uplift as well as shares meaningful scriptures and quotes. Inside the front cover she writes:
Inside the kingdom of God is a temple.
Inside the temple is a daughter of Zion.
Inside the daughter of Zion is a quiet heart.
Inside the quiet heart is God's sanctuary.
"I will be to them as a little sanctuary . . . saith the Lord." (Ezekiel 11:16)
While I don't usually enjoy reading books like this because I feel guilty that I am not as spiritual as the authors suggest I should be, this book let me know that guilt is just a tool used to keep me from gaining that quiet heart I believe all of us wish for. She talks of the importance of prayer, scripture study, worshipping God, quiet meditation and the need to accept ourselves as unique and loved daughters of God. (A concept many women accept mentally but don't truly believe as they continually find fault with themselves. Why do we do that?) I found Holland's writing to be soothing, thought-provoking, and an impetus for me to change. I have opened this book several times in the past few days after I finished it to re-read the many quotes I had marked. Each time, I have felt moved and uplifted.
I think this may be the birthday poem I've been looking for:
Let us labour for an inward stillness--
An inward stillness and an inward healing;
That perfect silence, where the lips and heart
Are still, and we no longer entertain
Our own imperfect thoughts and vain opinions,
But God alone speaks in us, and we wait
In singleness of heart, that we may know
His will, and in the silence of our spirits
That we may do His will, and do that only.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Another wonderful passage on accepting ourselves and others:
"We simply cannot call ourselves Christian and continue to judge one another--or ourselves--so harshly . . . .Obviously the Lord has created us with different personalities, as well as differing degrees of energy, interest, health, talent, and opportunity. So long as we are committed to living righteously and with faithful devotion, we should celebrate these divine differences, knowing they are a gift from God. We must not feel so frightened; we must not be so threatened and insecure; we must not need to find exact replicas of ourselves in order to feel validated as women of worth."
Finally, a beautiful quote from Ezra Taft Benson:
"To live perfectly is to live happily. To live happily is to grow in spiritual strength toward perfection."
This is a wonderfully written book that conveys the author's own struggles to create a more fulfilling life and to deal with the trials she has faced along the way. She is able to share her faith in the Lord and urge the reader to improve her relationship with Deity without being preachy or sugary.
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 8:59 PM

Cassie said...
I now realize where I get my dislike of self-help or even LDS spiritual books from. Though this one sounds great. I loved all those quotes. Things like that are things I deal with constantly, to just be happy to be me and know that God loves me.
9:21 AM
booklogged said...
I need to reread this one. Just reading your thoughts about the book and the quotes you've shared brings a certain quietness to me. Longfellow's poem makes a significant birthday poem.
2:02 PM
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
Quietness is an admirable goal. I'll have to add this book to my Mountain. Thank you for posting those lovely quotes.
2:51 PM


The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Mar 1, 07 My mother first introduced me to Chaim Potok twenty years ago when I read "My Name is Asher Lev." My suggestion is to read it first before reading "The Gift." I wish I had read it more recently so those events would have been fresher in my mind. I had forgotten quite a bit. But you should definitely read both books. Potok writes beautifully.
Asher Lev is a gifted artist who is banished from his Ladover Jewish sect because of his controversial paintings. This book takes places twenty year later when Asher returns to Brooklyn with his wife and two children to attend the funeral of his uncle and stays for four months. The visit creates a whole chain of events. Just as Asher's painting are very symbolic, much of this story is as well. Neither are happy books, but very arresting with incredible characters.
I marked so many beautiful passages that I just picked four at random to illustrate:
"A boy went past me, ten or eleven years old, red hair, dangling earlocks, thin pale features, a dark velvet skullcap on his head, hurrying along, bent slightly forward--and the years all seemed to turn to glass, all their blurring opacity miraculously gone, and I could see through them with shocking clarity, and I had to restrain myself from asking him if he had been born with a gift for drawing pictures."
"Each painting was encased in the sort of gilded decorative frame accorded vaunted classics. Each glowed beneath the lights; each appeared to be sending forth waves of light from the pigments on the surface of the canvas. The tiny color planes in the Cezanne, like the pieces of a riddle, exquisitely explored, investigated, probed, resolved, each daub of color another piece of his answer to the greatest riddle of all, how we see and think the world."
"My father once said to me on the verse in Genesis: 'And He saw all that He did and behold it was good'--my father once said that the seeing of God is not like the seeing of man. Man sees only between the blinks of his eyes. He does not know what the world is like during the blinks. He sees the world in pieces, in fragments. But the Master of the Universe sees the world whole, unbroken. That world is good."
"Asher Lev, our teachers tell us that this harmony is the special creation of individuals who engage in certain deeds for the sake of the deeds themselves. Such deeds rise as a song, as the greatest of art, to all the spheres. And when the heavenly beings hear this song, they take upon themselves gladly the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven, and they exclaim in unison, Holy! Holy! Holy!--and there is peace in all of creation, and peace to all of Israel, and the beginning of an end to the exile."
Rating: 4.5

Posted by Framed at 6:48 PM

Cassie said...
I didn't know there was a sequel. I have "My Name is Asher Lev" on my list to read. It will probably be a while before I get to that but maybe I'll check out this book soon after.

8:58 AM
booklogged said...
I didn't know there was a sequel either. Love the quotes, especially the one about the blinks.

1:32 PM
Framed said...
I remember 'My Name is Asher Lev" as depressing. Now I see the beauty and rhythm of the way Potok writes. There's something comforting about it.

6:34 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
I loved "My Name is Asher Lev." I will definitely be getting ahold of this one -- thanks for recommending it.

4:14 PM
Sugar Mouse In The Rain said...
I read both novels, and Davita's Harp too. Chaim Potok is a master, and his works are so beautiful. The passages make me want to grab another Chaim Potok and dive in it.

1:33 PM


The Journeyer by Gary Jennings

Feb 21, 2007 "Marco Polo was nicknamed "Marco of the millions" because his Venetian countrymen took the grandiose stories of his travels to be exaggerated, if not outright lies. As he lay dying, his priest, family, and friends offered him a last chance to confess his mendacity, and Marco, it is said, replied "I have not told the half of what I saw and did." Now Gary Jennings has imagined the half that Marco left unsaid as even more elaborate and adventurous than the tall tales thought to be lies. From the palazzi and back streets of medieval Venice to the sumptuous court of Kublai Khan, from the perfumed sexuality of the Levant to the dangers and rigors of travel along the Silk Road, Marco meets all manner of people, survives all manner of danger, and, insatiably curious, becomes an almost compulsive collector of customs, languages and women.In more than two decades of travel, Marco was variously a merchant, a warrior, a lover, a spy, even a tax collector - but always a journeyer, unflagging in his appetite for new experiences, regretting only what he missed. Here - recreated and reimagined with all the splendor, the love of adventure, the zest for the rare and curious that are Jennings's hallmarks - is the epic account, at once magnificent and delightful, of the greatest real-life adventurer in human history. " Taken from back cover
I had such great hopes for this book. I mean, it's Marco Polo. Think of the experiences and adventures. All the reveiws I read made it sound so captivating and interesting. Needless to say, my hopes were dashed quite quickly. Unfortunately, I missed the review that discusses Jennings' almost clinical descriptions of sexual activity. Even that did not mention how much sexual activity there was. I read about 250 pages of this 1000-page book and finally gave up. Sexual acts, responses, mores, customs, etc seemed to be the main fare and it was way too explicit for me. All of this takes place on Polo's first journey to Cathay from Venice. He had made it to Baghdad when I quit. Somewhere in this book, there must be all that adventure that the reveiwers mention. I'm just not stouthearted enough to continue on through the muck. So I will cross this off my Chunkster Challenge and find another to replace it.
Rating: 0
Posted by Framed at 7:15 PM

booklogged said...
Holy smokes - a zero rating! That's extremely sad. Thanks for warning us. This is one I will avoid like the plague.
8:02 PM
Anonymous said...
This is Joy. Blogger wouldn't let me through. :(Wow! I think 250 pages is well beyond the "trial period". You deserve a good book. :)
5:55 AM
Cassie said...
Well, I guess I'll take this off my TBR list. I thought it sounded interesting to me too but I need something that will stimulate me intellectually or emotionally and not sexually.
8:45 AM
SuziQoregon said...
I read and enjoyed Gary Jennings' Aztec. Then I tried to read one of his others and just couldn't get into it.Hope you find a great replacement Chunkster!
9:42 PM
Lotus Reads said...
Wow, I would have been disappointed too, especially as the blurb makes it sound so interesting! I hope you have better luck with your next chunkster, framed!
7:16 AM


The Preservationist by David Maine

February 14, 2007 ***The Preservationist is another version of the classic tale of Noah and the Ark. In this book, he is called Noe, and is an ancient, crochety geezer who has visions and hears the voice of God. We are introduced to Noe, his wife, their three sons, Sem, Cham and Japheth, and three daughter-in laws, Bera, Ilya and Mirn. We follow these eight as Noe receives his revelation, the building of the ark, the survival of the flood, and the beginning of a new life. Often, the story is quite funny, and realistic. His descriptions of life on the boat make so much sense to me. It had to have been awful living for months with all those animals. All eight characters are believable people who question their faith even through miracle after miracle. The women are especially vibrant and really hold the whole enterprise together. Noe's conversations with deity remind me of some of my own. One reviewer compared the book to "Life of Pi." However, I didn't like it nearly as much. There was just too much crudity that jarred me as I read. So much of the book was absolutely fascinating, creative and well-written, then it would lapse into a discussion of "rutting." And maybe that is how it was in those days, although no one really knows. Besides I imagine Noah to be a wiser, more dignified character than the way Noe is portrayed here. I did like that my favorite quotes turned out to be the same one printed on the book jacket, so I will share those.
"So, when Himself starts with the visions and the holy labors and the boat full of critters, what am I supposed to do? Talk sense? Ask questions he can't answer, like How do you propse to keep the lions from eating the goats? Or us for that matter? No thanks, I just fuss with the stew and keep my thoughts stitched up in my head where they belong. Long ago, I quit asking questions." --The Wife
" 'God will provide,' my husband's father says, "Now go.' And that's that. He leaves me to travel some twelve hundred miles on a handful of copper weights, a few weeks' dried provisions and a donkey as company. I'm expected to return with no less than breeding families of every beast in creation. The problem with people who think that God will provide is that they think God will provide. --Bera, Daughter-in-Law
"Men are so amusing. Show them a pack of wolves, dominated by the males, and they will say, See? It is natural for men to rule. Fine, But produce a beehive, controlled by the queen, with males used for menial labor, and they protest, Human beings are not insects. Yes, well." --Ilya, Daughter-in-Law
"Lately what Papa says is that God is angry and is going to destroy the whole world except us; ants and mice and human beings and worms. Just a few of each will survive, and the ones that will live are the things we save . . . . Only Yahweh can create life, that's true, but I've been able to save a little bit of it from being destroyed. That's pretty good, for a person. It's about the best thing human being could ever hope to do." --Mirn, Daughter-in-Law
Rating: 3
Posted by Framed at 7:43 PM

Lisa said...
Thanks for the review. This book sounded like a great concept. Then I got it from the library and couldn't get into it. Maybe I should try again. I think it was the crudeness of the characters, or the fact that it wasn't like I might imagine that distracted me......
1:11 PM
Framed said...
I agree, Lisa. It's certainly isn't a book I plan on keeping.
10:09 AM
booklogged said...
I like the 3 quotes you shared, but the idea of crudeness causes me to scratch it off my list.BTW, I like the new look.
9:32 PM
Joy said... changed your blog! Looks nice. :)So, you finished 1/2 of "P". You are doing a great job! I hope that it's keeping you motivated. Happy Reading, Framed. :)
3:51 PM
Framed said...
Book, I don't recommend it.Joy, I need to finish A to Z before the Nonfiction challenge starts. Taking on three challenges this winter has slowed me down even though I put some on the TBR list. But I will prevail.
7:04 PM
jenclair said...
Not what I would have expected! I thought I might want to read it, but I want adventure and what it must have been like to travel the Silk Road!
11:10 AM
jenclair said...
OOPS - this was supposed to go on the Marco Polo post! I'm so confused.
11:13 AM
kookiejar said...
I don't know how dignified Noah was considering how drunk he got the night he cursed Canaan. I have a copy of "The Preservationist" and I've been meaning to read it...maybe after I'm done with a few of the challenges I'm involved in. Good review.
9:16 AM

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