A Weekly Offering of This n That

Rainy Day is my alter ego. She is the little angel that sits on one shoulder and whispers in my ear to forgo that 6" piece of triple chocolate fudge with the four scoops of ice cream on it; she is also the little devil who sits on my other shoulder and convinces me that I can eat just one bite of each and be satisfied, and then laughs with such great abandon when in fact, I eat the whole thing, she falls off my shoulder. Mostly, Rainy Day helps me see the humor in living and, mostly, she encourages me down the right path. Not necessarily the straight and narrow one (how fun is that?) but the path that offers the most adventure and fun.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week Two of the Countdown

Last week, as you may recall, I recommended five nonfiction books I thought you might be interested in picking up as gifts for yourself—or others. This week, the list of five is fiction. Believe me, it was not easy to distill the over 60 books I've read so far this year down to five I'd read again. And, again, the titles are linked to my full review. The books are available from your favorite bookseller.

As you, Gentle Reader, know, Rainy Day loves good historical fiction, and a good story, and when they are aptly combined, well, she thinks she's in Book Heaven! I bought this book because it intrigued me on a couple of levels. First, Robert the Bruce is one of my ancestors; second, they story is told, for the most part, through the letters of his sisters. After reading about the tortures his sisters went through, being kept in cages hung over the castle wall, open to all the elements and jeering of the crowds below, I found it amazing those women survived, let alone survived sane. If you're into time travel, I don't recommend Scotland of the 1300s, unless you've got an emergency out, and are pretty darned hardy! But the book is a page burner, and if you time travel through the book, you'll be warm enough turning the pages as fast as you can read them! For the History Lover on your gift list. As a bonus feature, Ms. Harvey maintains a fascinating blog at: http://sistersofthebruce.wordpress.com 

The Last Runaway —Tracy Chevalier
This book was my introduction to Chevalier's writing. As much as I've enjoyed all her others, this one remains my favorite. The story is of a young Quaker girl who accompanies her sister to America to be married. Her sister dies, and she finds herself alone in a strange land, filled with strange people, and an Underground Railroad. She meets, and marries, a young man, also a Quaker, but his family does not believe as she believes, and the laws of the land and her family are harsh as the winters. Had I begun this book in the morning, nothing would have been accomplished by bedtime, except the reading of an absolutely fascinating book! An excellent book of the Underground Railroad and life in early America.

Wizard of Pigeons —Megan Lindholm
This is one of my all-time most favorite books. I have two copies, both autographed by the author, to me! I do not lend them out. I first read this story 25-30 years ago, and have read it at least six times since. This story is relatively modern. It is about a Vietnam Vet who has been abandoned by not only his family, but also the VA, and lives on the streets of Seattle where he is known as the Wizard of Pigeons. They flock to him, and he feeds them from a never quite empty bag of popcorn. It is the story of the street people who help him survive. It is a story of beauty, a celebration of life, a book of hope and joy, and I guarantee once you've read it, you will never look at a street person the same way again. We need more Wizards! For that person in all of us who enjoys a great 'feel good' book.

Like the Moon —Mary Lewis Foote
Humor is not, to my way of thinking, easy to write, and unless one is really, really good at it, it isn't easy to read, either. I read this book and laughed so hard that when I got to The End, I flipped it over and read it straight through again, and laughed even harder because I knew what was coming.  If you've got a comfy rocking chair, that's the place to read this book. The book takes place in a nonexistent town in North Carolina, and if you've never been to that part of the country, it may take you a few pages to get into the dialect, believe me, that dialect is important. It is the story of people who may live a hardscrabble life, but they don't know it. They just know their lives are filled with love and humor, collard greens and ham hocks, corn dogs, and Beethoven. Love and humor are the key words there, but Beethoven is important, too. For the person in your life who needs a good laugh — again, and again, and again ;-)

A Cup of Light —Nicole Mones
This is a deliberately woven story, one thread at a time. It takes place in modern Beijing, where Lia Frank, an American who reads Chinese, but speaks it poorly because she is deaf, is sent to appraise several antique porcelains. Mones did her research on porcelains, and the book is filled with it, which I found as fascinating as Lia's 'memory bank.' Lia has trained herself to remember everything, and she has a system where each memory is stored for later retrieval. Some of the porcelains are the genuine articles, some are forgeries, but even those are so good, so beautiful, they arouse the same emotion.  There are many threads in this silk tapestry, and each one is brought in, and woven into place, at just the right time. By the time the book is finished, the tapestry is beautiful and worty to grace A Cup of Light.

OK, I know I said five books, and yes, I can count that high. But I would be sorely remiss if I didn't mention these two books, again, and remind you they, too are available at your local bookseller, or directly through the publisher, S & H Publishing http://sandhpublishing.com/index.html  Besides, I can't review them, I wrote them, or at least some of them, so of course you know they are really, really good books!

Madame Dorion: Her Journey to the Oregon Country —Lenora Rain-Lee Good
Heavily fact based historical novel about Marie Dorion, the first pioneer woman to come to the Oregon Country overland with a group of men, her husband, and two young boys.

Short & Happy (or not) An International Anthology of Short Stories —ed by Richard Bunning & Dixiane Hallaj

A collection of 36 short stories by 25 authors from both sides of the equator and around the globe. Perfect for reading while waiting for someone, riding the bus to work, etc.

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