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Archive for the category “Historical Fiction”

My Elizabeth Gilbert Experience

Hello Dear Followers,

Liz1

Me, Elizabeth Gilbert and my friend Jaimie

It has been a while, and sadly I have not gotten any farther than I was when I last wrote to all of you.  Still trying to get through “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld and “Quiet” by Susan Cain.  I am itching to finish both!

I couldn’t resist sharing with all of you about my Elizabeth Gilbert experience this weekend.  In case you have been living under a rock and don’t know who she is, she is the author of “Eat, Pray, Love.”  It was a memoir she wrote in 2006 about her spiritual year-long journey to Italy, India and Indonesia.

When I read that book and the book that followed – “Committed,”  I continued to be inspired by her spirituality, her strength and bravery.

I was so lucky this past weekend to meet her at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield,  Conn.,  where  she spoke about her newest book “The Signature of All Things”  which tells the story Alma Whittaker, a botanist born in 1800 and of the Whittakers, a family of botanical explorers, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

I will admit I have not read the book yet, just got it a few weeks ago, but I am excited to begin once I finish my other books.

I found Liz  to be just fabulous.  She was funny and witty, during her talk she made some of the best of analogies that explained life perfectly – both hers and others.  My friend Jaimie and I jokingly decided we had girl crushes on this author.  Liz spoke to everyone who asked her a question like she knew them forever, they weren’t just audience members, but friends.

What I loved about that was it made asking my question about wanting to write a book so much easier and she is the second author that has seriously made me think about beginning writing for myself again regularly – (I may even carry a journal with me wherever I go.)

She told the mainly-women filled audience a lot of things about herself and life that I found very helpful.  She said anything that you fight will fight you back.  There isn’t anything more attractive than someone whose feet doesn’t fully touch the ground.  She said women have a tremendous capacity to be resilient in the face of a ruin.

I really just simply enjoyed hearing this woman who has traveled the world and found herself in the most spiritual of places is truly something to strive for.  When I asked her about what it took to begin writing a book, she first asked me which direction I wanted to go towards fiction or non-fiction. I knew immediately I want to write a non-fiction novel, about what part of my life, I am not sure.

She further answered mine and my friend’s question the next day on her Facebook page by asking the question “What are you willing to give up, in order to have what you really want?”

Liz3

Me and Elizabeth Gilbert

What I loved most even days before is that this prolific author will answer you on her Facebook page, I mean I don’t know any author/celebrity person who takes the time to answer their followers.  It just made her reachable and real and I just loved that.

This blog post definitely doesn’t do the talk full justice, but I personally just want to thank Liz for a delightful evening filled with so many enlightened teachings.

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The Circus Is Over

Hello Dear Followers,

I finished “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern a few days ago. Sadly, “American Wife” by Curtis Settinfield is still not finished.

What I wanted to share about “The Night Circus” is when you finish it, start over and re-read because I found the author wasn’t clear about a lot of parts in the book leaving me confused and having to go back.  Or trying to remember why certain parts were being said again, if they were said before.

The author would do short chapters to give clues and  leave you guessing more, but you never found out what the significance was, and by the time you did, if you did, you didn’t remember it anyway.

I can see why The New York Times didn’t rate this book a best seller, you are often confused by what is happening most of the time, at least I was.  I was trying to figure out what the connections were of the people involved and why certain events happened.  I was very confused most of the time.

The good points of the book  was that it kept you wanting to read more, it had excellent life lessons throughout and like the circus itself, it reminded me of a dream.

The love story in the book was intense towards the end and lovely, but the author didn’t clarify I don’t think at least, what happened to the couple or how they got to be where they were.

I have always wanted to go to a circus and I love hearing about the circus during the turn of the 20th century, and the 1920-30s.  There is something magical about that a time period in history, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.

I think that is why I loved “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen so much, I love the time period it was in.

So basically, re-read again if you have read it already to get a good handle on the story she is trying to tell and you may find you will enjoy it even more.

Until next time…

The Night Circus Is Magical

Hello Dear Followers,

Image courtesy of www.npr.org

Image courtesy of http://www.npr.org

I am back! While I am still in the midst of reading “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld, I wanted to share my thoughts with you about another book I am nearly finishing.  I am reading “The Night Circus”  by Erin Morgenstern.  

The best way I could describe this book is by comparing it to Harry Potter meets Water For Elephants meets Hunger Games.  This book has elements of all three of those books.

I have never seen a book so openly and honestly speak  about Tarot cards that could be considered by most as dark magic.  Everything in this book is dream-like with historical elements and love.  It takes place during the turn of the 20th century and a decade before.

It involves a circus (obviously) which poses as the backdrop to a competition between a  female and male magician who for most of their “magical” training know nothing of the other until they meet through this circus and fall in love. What happens next is to be determined.

I have found this book enjoyable, I love history, so this element keeps me wanting to read more. I love the love story, but I have to admit the author keeps the love story at bay for a long time, she introduces the circus thoroughly, she introduces the cast of characters thoroughly. You almost want to tell the author, get on with it.

Most of what happens in this book is unbelievable, their love story while it is enjoyable as well, is just developing 250 something pages in. I am having trouble believing their love or connecting the dots of their love.

I also find the author isn’t clear in how the other characters are playing a clear role in this so called competition.  You need to pay attention to everything in this book closely to make the connections of why certain people and events that have happened are important.

The author does keep you guessing.  I am looking forward to finishing this book and “American Wife” and moving on forward with this blog again.

Oh! And does anyone want to take me to the circus? 🙂

Until next time..

A Book of Substance

Hello Dear Followers,

As you know I am reading “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld and its an excellent book. It is a real work of fiction, it’s not crappy, its real. It has substance and definitely worth the read.

This book is also fictionally and loosely based on former First Lady Laura Bush, now I am not sure which parts are or aren’t real, but all I picture as I am reading is her and former President George W. Bush.  I see him as he is in this book, it’s so weird to visualize him young like this and reading the experiences they have had together.

I think the author has painted an excellent fictional account of Alice Lindgren and the twists and turns that bring her to the inevitable title of First Lady.

I won’t be done with this book by October, but I can most definitely recommend this book. It’s not everyday you find a book of substance and I think I’ve found a new author I’d love to explore in the future.

Until next time…

American Wife

Image courtesy of http://www.ew.com.

Hello Dear Followers,

For September, I’ve decided I will be reading “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld. The book, some say is loosely based on former First Lady Laura Bush.  

According to Amazon.com, on what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

I have to say, I had a difficult time choosing a book for September.  I had no idea what I wanted to read this month or what I was even in the mood for.  I had toyed with the idea of taking two months to read “A. Lincoln: A Biography” by Ronald C. White Jr.

I found in searching for a new book that I have a lot of books based on real people’s lives.  I am so fascinated by people and what their lives were about, who they are or were.

I hope that you will enjoy reading this along with me, if you are.  I think its a good read.

Until next time…

Escape to Guernsey

Hello Dear Followers,

I finished “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” tonight and wanted to share my final thoughts about the book.

I thought overall it was a sweet book, it was quaint at times and teetered a little on boring.  I did however, find myself craving an opportunity to read it throughout the day, brought it with me everywhere as a chance to escape to 1940s Guernsey just after World War II. 

Photo courtesy of http://www.oldUKphotos.com

I tend to enjoy escaping into novels that take place in a  different time period, especially a time period I know little about.  While at first I thought the constant correspondence between the characters via letter writing dragged the book a bit, it gave it character and personality that you may not have gotten if the book been made up of chapters.

The characters in the book will become your friends, you will want to join them for their literary meetings and want to be part of this circle of friends that would ultimately become family.

You will want to travel to the Channel Islands of the British Isles and see Guernsey for yourself once you read this book.  The authors do a great job at making this place seem magical in a time of such darkness.

I love history so learning what I could about the German occupation on this island and a little more about the Nazi concentration camps was fascinating and terribly sad at the same time, I can’t imagine going through something like that.  These poor people.

I have heard  bits and pieces about World War II  from my grandparents every now and then,  but they were young when it was happening around them in Italy.  They remember only so little about it.

I would recommend this book for its simplicity, its escapism and its character. If you are looking for something more enticing however, this isn’t it.  I kept waiting for something more to happen that would consider this book a page turner, but it never came.

Until next time…

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

Hello Dear Followers,

When I think letter writing I think of it as an act of  romance, something so personal and in the 21st century, so lost in the age of e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, texting and the internet as a whole.

As many of you have read in my previous post, I am reading “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”  and the book is not made up of chapters, but rather of letters between several characters in the book, which at first I thought was great, then I thought well this could take a forever and hard to keep up with who is writing to who.

But as I have gone on, I can see why it was done this way, because I can’t see how else the two authors would have conveyed this story, how they would have properly introduced these characters as they have.

While the ability to communicate with people far away from us has gotten a lot easier, far easier than our parents,  grandparents and great-grandparents for that matter, it lacks personality and lacks the proof that someone dedicated the time to write  a letter with an actual  pen and paper.

It is so easy to send off an e-mail, often times without thinking. I’ve done it. Often times we don’t even realize what we are writing because we are in such a hurry to get on to the next thing in our lives, we don’t stop and think of our words.

I’ve always been old-fashioned and very nostalgic in many ways, when I was 13 or 14 years old, I wrote letters to all my friends who were near and dear to me at the time, many thought I was odd, because what 14-year-old spends the time to write an individual letter to someone?  That would be me.

When I was 18, I wrote an e-mail to a boy I liked in high school telling him how I felt, you could call that both ballsy and very 21st century.  That was the way people began to communicate, how they expressed themselves.  Writing a letter with a pen and paper began to be long lost memory.

I returned to the art of writing a letter (via pen and paper) a few years  later to someone I felt was of great importance to my life at the time. It felt more personal, I felt there was a deeper connection because I had taken the time to write several drafts before I could perfect what I wanted to say to this person.  It was me, it wasn’t an e-mail set up by the internet  it was just me, a pen and paper.

This art of letter writing is fading, Andrew Lam, author and editor of New America Media writes about this exact topic in a  blog post “The Lost Art of Letter Writing” on the  Huffington Post.  

“For the rest of us in this age of mobility and information, there simply isn’t any time for such a thing as a long, flowing, hand-written letter. I am no exception,” says Mr. Lam in his post.

Catherine Field, an I.H.T Op-Ed contributor of the New York Times says in her Op-Ed piece “The Fading Art of Letter Writing”:  “Letter-writing is among our most ancient of arts. Think of letters and the mind falls on Paul of Tarsus, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Austen, Mark Twain; on love letters written during the American Civil War, or letters written to a parent by a frightened soldier at the battlefront.”  

There is a ton more on this subject, because it is clearly something we don’t do in a digital age. And I am someone who loves digital as the next person, but I think we should revive this lost art and bring it back to something more personal, romantic and connected.

Don’t you agree?

Until next time….

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Hello Dear Followers,

The book I am choosing as my August book choice is “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  It is January 1946, London is emerging from the shadow of theSecond World War and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject.  Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British Island once occupied by the Nazis. He’d come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb.  Perhaps she could tell him where he might more books by this author. As Juliet and her new coorespondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans, according to the book.

Not too long ago, I realized that we don’t write letters anymore, like real letters as in paper and pen? And this book celebrates the art of letter writing and the love of books. What could be more wonderful? (For me anyway) 🙂

I hope you will read along with me. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with my followers for this book.

Until next time..

Courage

Hello Dear Followers,

Well, I finally finished “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett.  I enjoyed it, I thought it dragged on a bit, but overall I enjoyed it. I loved the characters of Skeeter, Minny and Aibileen.

Tonight I saw the movie and I was told it was different than the book and it was,  major parts from the book were left out, but it was just perfect.  I didn’t feel it needed all that extra details the book included.  I felt each character played their part perfectly.

My heart hurt when I was visually seeing the inequality Minny, Aibileen, Yule May and black people went through during that time. To treat someone so horribly simply because of the color of their skin is just so horrible.

I found the book and the movie really stand on their own, one can’t be compared to the other or considered better than the other. If you read the book, that’s great, it’s a good read, if you just saw the movie, that is enough too.

Until next time….

P.S. I just love Octavia Spencer! She is by far the cutest thing!

What I’m Reading This Summer

Hello Dear Followers,

I usually don’t announce books in advance like this and I am not done with “The Help” just yet, but I have to admit seeing the constant mention of “summer reading lists” in bookstores and on various social media sites, made me nostalgic for the days before Borders and Barnes & Noble were my escapes, when I’d be one of the first kids signing up at the library for the summer reading program.  I couldn’t wait!

So here are three books I will be reading this summer –

Book image courtesy of http://www.bestsellers.about.com

1. “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them.  And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want to as our legacy. Mr. Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it was his last, since he was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Why I picked this:  Because it has been my experience that books like these, however  as short as they are (this one is 206 pages), they are filled with excellent advice about life and this reminds me of my favorite book “The Five People You Meet In Heaven” by Mitch Albom. Mr. Albom’s book left such a deep impact on my life, it saved me from myself during some of the darkest moments of my life.  I imagine this book will do the same.

Book image courtesy of http://www.bookmomma.wordpress.com

2. “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  It is January 1946, London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject.  Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’d never met, a native of Guernsey, the British Island once occupied by the Nazis. He’d come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb.  Perhaps she could tell him where he might more books by this author. As Juliet and her new coorespondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans.

Why I picked this:  Letters, books and history. All of which I just love. I feel the art of letter writing is lost in the maze of social media and e-mail. There isn’t romance in correspondence anymore, letter writing was personal, romantic, and passionate.  I love books, if I could spend my time in a cafe  drinking fabulous coffee and reading all day escaping the world around me, I’d be happy.  History especially the time in which this book takes place has always fascinated me, I love learning about World War II and shortly after the war.

Book image courtesy of http://www.nicholassparks.com

3. “The Best of Me” by Nicholas Sparks.  In the spring of 1984, high school students Amanda Collier and Dawson Cole fell deeply irrevocably in love. Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for each other seems to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. A loner from a violent and infamous local family, Dawson believed his love for Amanda promised an escape from the darker destiny laid out for him. A golden girl from a well-to-do family with plans to attend Duke University, Amanda saw something in Dawson that spoke to her own rebellious and passionate heart. But as summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths.

Why I picked this –  I just love Nicholas Sparks, he is a wonderful writer. He grabs you from the first page and never lets you go and when it is over.  Then you are left craving more. That is a good writer.

(Since I fell behind with “The Help” I will be making up my June book with one of these three books and “The Help” will be considered my May book.  )

Make sure you share with me what you are reading this summer on here or on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Okay! Until next time… Happy Summer Reading!

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