Sunday, June 22, 2014

Book-a-Day Challenge: Week 3 Recap

June 15. Favorite fictional father: The unnamed father in Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD. With complete devotion, this man struggles to protect his son from starvation, attack, and exposure as they travel through a post-apocalyptic world. The ailing father's fear for his son's future is palpable and gut-wrenching.

June 16. Can't believe more people haven't read: KRISTIN LAVRANSDATTER by Sigrid Undsett. This trilogy, set in medieval Norway, won Undsett the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928. Kristin, a willful nobleman's daughter, suffers a life of hardship and remorse after marrying an impetuous and wasteful ne'er-do-well after a passionate illicit romance. Read all three volumes to experience the full cycle of Kristin's sin, remorse, and redemption. A powerful and accurately detailed evocation of medieval life.

June 17. Future classic: THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI by Helene Wecker. This amazing blend of Jewish and Syrian folklore, set in the immigrant neighborhoods of 1890's New York City, examines the nature of love and what it means to be human. A rich, multilayered novel with just the right touch of the supernatural, THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI is sure to feature on future reading lists. This New York Times book review gives a good overview of the novel's delicious complexity.

June 18. Bought on a recommendation: THE ORPHAN MASTER by Jean Zimmerman. Author Susan Spann (CLAWS OF THE CAT) recommended this one to me last summer. I did thoroughly enjoy it, although it was a bit gruesome for my taste at times. As a serial killer stalks orphaned children in 17th century Manhattan, a young Dutchwoman's romance with a dashing Englishman becomes subject to horrible accusations. I love stories set in the early days of New York City, and Zimmerman's evocation of Dutch Manhattan is richly detailed and convincing.

June 19. Still can't stop talking about it: SOMEONE KNOWS MY NAME by Lawrence Hill. I always suggest this novel to people asking for recommendations. It recounts the life of a girl captured in West Africa in 1745 and sold into slavery. She survives a harrowing existence on an indigo plantation in South Carolina and eventually arrives in New York City, where the British promise freedom to slaves who fight alongside the redcoats in the War for Independence. This gripping and convincing tale offers insights into less familiar colonial-era slavery and dramatizes the British attempt to resettle freed/escaped slaves in Nova Scotia after the war. Publishers Weekly called the book "stunning, wrenching, inspiring," and I heartily agree.

June 20. Favorite cover: THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles. I prefer covers without people on them, and the colors and composition of this one appeals to me. Haven't yet finished reading the book, but the story of two sisters whose skills with the needle lead them to vastly divergent fates in the lawless backcountry of Brazil has been intriguing. A good book to read during the World Cup!

June 21. Summer read: ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr. I'm really looking forward to reading this book about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France. Readers claim they can't put it down yet never want it to end...a perfect read for the endless days of summer!

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