Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult (audio)

"This is what I like about photographs.  They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."

 After a tragic car accident, Cara's father suffers from a brain injury.  Cara is forced to make the decision on ending her father's life with her brother Edward, who has been away for the past six years after a fight with their father.  As they discuss their option, a web of family secrets are unraveled.

I enjoyed this book a lot.  I loved Jodi Picoult's style of having multiple narrators and tackling tough subjects.  Each voice in the novel provides the reader with a unique aspect of the situation. This book focused primarily on family and the quality of life.  It also had a lot of animal aspects in it due to the fact that Cara's father was a zoologist and studied wolves for most of his adult life.  He was vary detailed in his study of wolf behavior and it was really interesting to learn about his story while his family was dealing with his injuries in the present.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

"There are times when our victories have a cost that we did not foresee, when winning brings us loss."

Nicola Marter was born with a unique gift that allows her to see a glimpse of the past when she touches an object - a gift that she has tried her whole life to keep a secret.  When she is approached by a women looking to sell an object known as the firebird, Nicola is convinced to jump into the past and find out the truth.  Here, she discovers a young girl named Anna and the mystery takes on a life of it's own.  Nicola travels to Scotland and then to Russia to discover Anna's story and involvement with the Jacobites and the Russian court.  She also finds her self on an adventure of her own that will test the limits of her powers and how far she is willing to go to reveal the truth.

I'm so glad that I discovered Susanna Kearsley a few months ago with The Winter Sea!  This novel continues with many of the similar characters.  It also follows a similar pattern of unique gifts and a sort-of time travel to the past.  I didn't find it quite as compelling as the first, but it was still very enjoyable.  I love Kearsley's writing style and unique storytelling!  She has a wonderful ability to weave together stories that are interlocked together and I can't wait to read more.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian (audio)

"Sara knew that behind its locked front door no home was routine.  Not the house of her childhood, not the apartment of her husband's, not the world they were building together with Willow and Patrick.  All households had their mysteries, their particular forms of dysfunction."

While on the annual summer trip to his mother's, Spencer McCullough is shot is accidentally shot in the shoulder by his twelve-year-old daughter, Charlotte.  What unfolds is a more complex story then anyone first thought.  And thrown in, are even more complex issues of animal rights.

Eh, I didn't really enjoy this book at all.  I didn't like any of the characters, and frankly, all of the animal rights and lawsuits aspects just annoyed me to no end.  Luckily I listened to it as an audio book, so it at least did help pass the time at work.  I now officially have a love/hate relationship with Chris Bohjalian.  I absolutely LOVED The Sandcastle GirlsThe Light in Ruins was really good too and The Night Strangers and Skeletons at the Feast weren't bad either.  But his more "contemporary" novels I can hardly get through.  Many it's the fact that I tend to enjoy historical fiction and care more about a story, but they almost seem to be written by different authors.  That's the big thing I missed in this book - there wasn't a really climax (at least not that I cared enough about) and then ending just seemed very insignificant.  I want to read another "Sandcastle Girls!" We'll see how "Midwives" turns out - the last of my Chris Bohjalian audiobooks.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

★★★★ 1/2
"He said: 'You don't understand.  We never thought that we were being used to conquer people.  Not at all: we thought the opposite. We were told that we were freeing those people. That is what they said - that we were going to set those people free form their bad kings or their evil customers or some such thing. We believed it because they believed it to. It took us a long time to understand that in their eyes freedom exists wherever they rule."
I expected this novel to be a love story - a "star-crossed lovers" love story that spans multiple generations and where the character's love triumphs against all odds.  This is not what it was.  I kept trying to see it, but it wasn't there.  And the more that I tried to make it into a love story, the more I realized that it wasn't what the book was about.  I kept hoping that things about finally go well for the characters, but they usually didn't.  Most of the time, the wrong characters were in the wrong place at the wrong time and things went horribly wrong.  But in the end, bits and pieces of good things came out of these wrong things.  And in response, new lives and new opportunities were created.  This novel was about family and betrayal and sorrow - lots of sorrow - and also about how the lives of a young man and a young women come together to shape something completely unexpected. 

The story begins in Burma with a young boy named Rajkumar.  Through random circumstances, he meets a girl named Dolly who is serving in the court of the Brumese Queen when their empire begins to fall.  The two go their separate ways, but Rajkumar never forgot Dolly.  Years later, he goes in search of her.  As the years pass, their lives are intertwined with their children, their families, and the political chaos of the world around them.  The story continues to pick up new characters until the reader is left with a web of people intertwined by family connections and chance meetings.  In the end, we are left with Jaya, Rajkumar and Dolly's daughter who travels back to Burma in search of her missing family.

This book was wonderful.  I loved the characters and the story and history.  I knew next to nothing about the political history of Burma, and India and Malaya, so it was a bit of a challenge to keep up with it all.  I loved the complexity of the characters most of all.  As individuals, they didn't really stand out.  Like most people, they were just average people living average lives - many of them ending in tragedy due to the struggles of the time - but, together they created something more.  The only thing I struggled with while reading this book was keeping track of the characters and their complex relationships to one another.  I think this many have been easier for me if I had read the book instead of listened to the audio version - hearing the Indian names were a little overwhelming sometimes!  And best of all, this book was different.  It wasn't what I expected - or what I wanted at times - but it was exactly the type of story that I grew to love and enjoy and appreciate it for what it was.