Thursday, February 20, 2020

Disappearing Earth and The Rabbit Girls

Disappearing Earth,  by Julia Phillips, was presented, but not chosen, at one of my book groups.  It sounded fascinating to me so I read it.  And it was fascinating!

Disappearing Earth

This novel is a story about two young girls who were kidnapped in Kamchatka, a remote region in Russia.  The novel takes place over the year after the girls were taken.  Each chapter is told month-by-month after the abduction and is about different, but connected loosely to the story, women from the same region.  After a while, the story began to mesh and build up to the last month of that year.  The ending of the story was quite satisfying.

This novel stayed with me for a long time.  It is a crime story, but the social implications were really interesting.  In this remote region, men were portrayed as dangerous and the women as too strong for the men to value.

I got The Rabbit Girls, by Anna Ellery, from the library as it was also a book that I had heard about and wanted to read.  There were a few things that I did not care for or found hard to believe in the book, and those things distracted me.  I'll get to those soon.

The Rabbit Girls

The story takes place in 1989 when the Berlin Wall was first opened.  Miriam came to Berlin to care for Henryk, her dying father from whom she had been estranged.  Her mother had died, and Miriam was their only child.  After Miriam arrived to stay and care for her father, he began crying out for "Freida".  Miriam had no idea who that was.  Soon Miriam discovered numbers tattooed under her father's watchband and she realized that he had been in Auschwitz.  She had no knowledge of that fact.  Miriam began looking around the apartment to see if she could learn more about her father's history and in her mother's closet, she came across a dress that was from Ravensbruck.  And within the seams of that dress, Miriam discovered love letters from Freida to Henryk that had never been sent or seen by anyone.

Are you picking up on any distractions here?  Like is it believable that Miriam grew up never seeing the tattoo on her father's wrist?  Or that her mother kept Freida's dress and never told anyone?

I did enjoy the reading of the letters that described not only their love but of life in the camp.  But here's my biggest complaint-the Rabbit Girls were only mentioned briefly in Freida's letters.  The book was not about the Rabbit Girls.  That was very misleading to me.

I also found the end of the story very predictable.

So, I guess that I'm not really recommending this book.  Or am I?  I don't even know.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Ask Again, Yes

I got Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane from my local library.  I was glad that I hadn't bought it...I enjoyed the book, but by the end of it, I was feeling rather let down. It was the psycho-therapist in me.

Ask Again, Yes

The novel was a good story.  Two police officers from the NYPD both unwittingly moved next door to each other in a small suburb of New York city.
Francis was married to Lena with two young daughters, and Brian was married to Anne, and they had lost their first child.  Anne appeared to be quite temperamental and difficult to engage.  Soon after the move, both women became pregnant and Anne continued to appear to continue to disengage.

Lena and Francis' baby was a girl named Kate, while Brian and Anne's baby was a boy named Peter.  Kate and Peter grew up as neighbors and were best friends, although Peter's mother did not like that Peter had anyone close to him.  As they grew older, the relationship continued to intensify.  That seemed to drive Anne over the edge and one night a horrific event occurred that changed both families lives forever.

The novel does a good job at portraying the two very different families, one very stable, the other quite disturbed.  It begins to end interestingly, but I was bothered by Kate and Peter's relationship as they were older.

It was a good read, but not a keeper (obviously since it's from the library-ha!).

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Secrets We Kept

The Secrets We Kept by Laura Prescott was a fascinating book.  It is a debut novel by the author which is incredibly impressive to me.  The novel was inspired by the true story of how the book Dr. Zhivago was handled during the Cold War.  It was very interesting.

The Secrets We Kept

There are several main characters: Irina, the American daughter of Russian parents, who was hired to work in the typing pool at the CIA in the 1950's; Sally who was to train Irina to be a spy, and fell in love with her; Olga, who was the mistress of Boris Pasternak (the author of Dr. Zhivago); and Boris Pasternak.

The juxt of the story is America trying to get the book Dr. Zhivago out of Russia.  Reading this book made me want to re-read Dr. Zhivago, which I read years and years ago.  And mixed in are the love stories of Irina and Sally, and Olga and Boris.

Really good book!


Over the last month or so, I have re-read three books...two for my book groups and one for Bible Study.  I have already posted blogs on two of these books, so I will just refer you to the dates of the postings.

1) The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.  I wrote about this book on 8/15/19.

2) The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis.  I wrote about this one on 10/10/19.

I enjoyed re-reading both these books.  They each made for good discussion for the book groups and were well-liked.

It appears that I never posted a blog about the third book I re-read. It was Help, Thanks, Wow:The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott.  We used this book for our Bible Study for a few weeks and all thought it was a great book and a good use for our prayer lives.  I love this book.  Ms. Lamott is a great writer, and her spirituality is hers alone and I love that!

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

I'll give you my favorite parts of each chapter:

"God can handle honesty, and prayer begins an honest conversation.  My belief is that when you're telling the truth, you're close to God." 

"I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, with  no proof, that my grandfather prayed for all of us kids.  And as it turns out if one person is praying for you, buckle up.  Things can happen." 
"The movement of grace toward gratitude brings us from the package of self-obsessed madness to a spiritual awakening.  Gratitude is peace."

"Love falls to earth, rises from the ground, pools around the afflicted.  Love pulls people back to their feet.  Bodies and souls are fed.  Bones and lives heal.  New blades of grass grow from charred soil.  The sun rises." 

And then the book ends with a chapter called "Amen".  It was actually my favorite chapter of the book (and I loved all of the book):

"So it is, when we do the best we can, and we leave the results in God's good hands. Amen."
Great book...I recommend it highly!