The Lightkeeper’s Daughters

The Lightkeeper’s DaughtersThe Lightkeeper's Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol
Published by Harper on July 4th 2017
Pages: 336
ISBN: 0062572032
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five-stars

Morgan is a teenager who lived with her grandfather until he passed away. Since then she has been living in foster homes and has created a hard exterior to keep others at bay. She doesn’t like to appear as if she cares about anything but there is one thing she cares about- the violin that once belonged to her grandfather. He taught her to play and she treasures it and its contents. Morgan gets into a little trouble when she paints graffiti a fence at a home for the elderly. She must make amends by painting the fence.

“You know,” he said, “when you paint over something, everything that was there before isn’t really gone. It’s still there. All the layers of color, the scrapes and dents, even the bare wood hiding beneath, they shape what’s painted on top, inspire it even, but they don’t define it. That’s up to the painter.”

Elizabeth has been a resident of the home for the elderly for some time. Her eyesight has failed but her mind and her memory are still sharp. She has formed a friendship with Marty, a caretaker at the home and he frequently will quiz her on art and music. She likes to brag that he has never trumped her. Her hearing has been sharpened and she has learned the steps and sounds of those around her. She is intrigued by Morgan who is being supervised in re-painting the fence by her friend, Marty.

When a boat capsizes, Elizabeth’s father’s journals have been found and returned to her. Unfortunately, she cannot read them, and she desperately wants to know what her father has written. She convinces Morgan to read the journals to her, in return she will give Morgan one of the paintings that she has on her nightstand. Morgan is drawn to the paintings as she her grandfather had a similar one under the material of his violin case.

“Like the raindrops falling outside, one by one they fill the gaps until the memories pool together and flood through me.”

As Morgan begins to read, Elizabeth’s story comes alive. Elizabeth was raised on Porphyry Island and her father was the lighthouse keeper. As each journal entry is read, the reader learns more about Elizabeth and her family but mainly about Elizabeth and her twin sister, Emily. Both Morgan and Elizabeth bond over the reading of the journals. Morgan wants to know more about Elizabeth and Elizabeth has keen insight into the life of a teenage girl.

What is it with lighthouses?

I seriously loved this book. I loved how the past and present story-lines flowed naturally and the transition from one to the next was seamless. With dual story-lines, we know that they are going to connect in some way, and it is the how and the why that really works here. The writing was so beautiful and the descriptions so vivid, that I felt as if I were right there on the island and in the home with the characters. I loved Elizabeth’s and Emily’s story-line, it was beautiful, sad, full of hope and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Besides the smooth transitions, I loved the unfolding of the story and watching the bonding between Morgan and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was sharp, witty and not afraid to ruffle some feathers at the home for Morgan to spend time in her room. For someone who could not see, she saw more than most people. She had great insight and had Morgan’s number right away. She saw past the hard exterior and sarcastic nature of Morgan and knew inside she was a young woman dealing with loss and pain. Elizabeth also served as a strong female character which Morgan needed in her life. Plus, as the mystery of Elizabeth’s life unfolded, Morgan began to learn more about her own life as well.

The Author has created characters that readers will fall in love with or dislike instantly. I loved every single page of this book. From the setting, the characters, the descriptions, the art, the music, the mystery, the personalities, they all were quite perfect. I was instantly drawn in and captivated by this book. When I lived in Massachusetts, I visited several lighthouses and my family had one we visited every couple of months, it was quite easy to imagine the one in this book and I could see the family climbing the stairs to make sure everything was working and to protect the ships on Lake Superior. Being able to transport a reader to your setting, takes great skill and Pendziwol has it.

I highly recommend this book!

Shortlisted for the 2018 Northern Lit Award

five-stars

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State KillerI'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn, Patton Oswalt
Published by Harper on February 27th 2018
Pages: 352
ISBN: 0062319809
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five-stars

“What readers need to know—what makes this book so special—is that it deals with two obsessions, one light and one dark. The Golden State Killer is the dark half; Michelle McNamara’s is the light half. It’s a journey into two minds, one sick and disordered, the other intelligent and determined. I loved this book.”   -Stephen King

 

Had Michelle McNamara lived, I think she would have been proud of how well this book has been received, but I think she would have been even more moved to see that the man, Joseph James DeAngelo, she named “The Golden State killer” has been arrested and being charged for his heinous crimes. I imagine her sitting there in the court room, looking him straight in the eye, knowing justice will be served and the killer she was obsessed with finding had been caught.

 

Michelle McNamara was a true crime journalist who started the website TrueCrimeDiary.com.  She was determined to find “The Golden State Killer”.  A man who committed fifty sexual assaults in Northern California before he moved south where he murdered ten people.  Michelle interviewed various detectives working diligently to solve the crimes, she read police reports, interviewed victims and their family members, she devoted countless hours to research, traveling to various locations, collecting box after box of reports. She educated herself on various forensic devices used to track and identify killers.

 

Through her writing, she showed not only her humanity but the humanity of the victims and the police officers investigating the cases. She shared bits and pieces of herself with the reader.  She shared what drove her desire to hunt this killer, she showed us glimpses into her private life and her relationships with those close to her. She poured her heart and soul into her research. She was intelligent, determined, and never gave us her quest for the truth.   Her devotion is admirable and earned her the respect of the men and women in law enforcement who were also trying to capture this killer.

 

“Her prose jumps off the page and sits down next to you…”  This book was completed after her death and various sections of the book inform the reader of what chapters were finished using Michelle’s notes.  This true crime book is nothing short of a masterpiece.  There is a lot of information in this book. There are also maps and pictures of some of the victims.  This is a very comprehensive book but also one that is very readable.

 

Highly recommend!

five-stars

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

This is the Story of a Happy MarriageThis is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Published by Harper on November 5th 2013
Pages: 308
ISBN: 0062236679
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five-stars

This is OFFICIALLY my favorite Ann Patchett book!!!!! (I put “OFFICIALLY” in BIG print thus making my statement really official!)

I am actually surprised that I liked this book as much as I did. I am not a short story, essay, article type of gal. I like novels – novellas are fine but I’m not a short story or article reader. Having said that, Ann Patchett may have changed things for me because as I mentioned, I loved this book i.e. collection of articles/essays. I love how she blended the events of her life with literature.

This book consists of essays/articles that have been published elsewhere. The essays can be read in any order the reader chooses. Previous books I have read by Patchett have earned 3 to 4 star ratings from me. This book has eclipsed the other books I have previously read. I love that this book deals with the real person- with her life. This book feels more “real”evicting words such as “honest” and “raw”. We see her as a child, then at college, on a book tour, being married, her dog Rose, her bookstore, to name a few of the times she lets the reader into her life. Don’t let the word “Marriage” fool you in the title…this book is about her two marriages but it is also about so much more. This book also deals with friendship, writing, family, loss, working, having a pet, etc. The result of this look back on her life is moving, entertaining, enlightening, and insightful (who knew she tried out for the LAPD police academy?). We not only get to see and digest her words, we get a glimpse into her life through her perspective.

I really enjoyed getting to “know” this Author a little better. I wish I could thank her for allowing me to walk down her memory lane. Not only is it quite lovely to learn about her life, the reader gets to do so in such a wonderful way! Patchett has a gift. Her writing seems effortless. Her prose is beautifully, emotionally moving and actually puts the reader into the action. Her writing is succinct and thought provoking.

five-stars

The Golem and the Jinni

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni, #1) by Helene Wecker
Published by Harper on April 23rd 2013
Pages: 486
ISBN: 0062110837
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four-stars

I listened the audio version of this book when it first came out and I was captivated. This book was like nothing I have ever read/heard before. I will pick up and read just about anything but fantasy would never be my first choice. I got the audio version form my local library to satisfy a requirement on a reading challenge I was taking part in. I never expected to like it as much as I did. I read the description and lets just say no fireworks went off for me. But then I kept reading reviews of people praising this book, so I gave it a go. It is always such a pure and utter pleasure to be surprised by something. When something so simple as a book, can captivate and catapult you into a mystical world where two such beings exist. This book is like a fairy tale for adults. Beautifully written, lyrical prose and engaging characters.

Chava is a golem, made out of clay to look like a real woman by a rabbi who dabbles in Kabbalistic magic. She is made to be bound by her master. But her master dies at Sea traveling from Poland to the New World in New York City.

Ahmad is a jinni born of fire in the Syrian dessert. He is trapped in a copper flask until one day he is accidentally set free.

Their stories are told separately as both navigate their new city/environment. Both forced to live as human although neither one is. Both hiding in plain sight until that one day that they meet and sense that the other might not be human. But what are they? I loved how their stories merged and they formed a kinship.

The city itself is a character in this book. The immigrants, their struggles are like the struggles of the two main characters in this book. Survival and fitting it are priorities for everyone in this book – well maybe not so much Ahmad. Listening to this book, I found myself creating their world in my mind, imagining these two characters as they made their way. This book is like a magical mythical dream.

I find myself recommending this book over and over again. It is like nothing I have read before. There is magic in this book but not the hocus pocus kind. There is magic in the words, in the characters, in their cultural backgrounds, in their friendship, in what it means to be human(or not to be human as in this case)

four-stars

The Good Luck of Right Now

The Good Luck of Right NowThe Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
Published by Harper on February 11th 2014
Pages: 304
ISBN: 006228553X
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four-stars

Dear Richard Gere,

I just read a really great book about Bartholomew Neil who suddenly finds himself living alone after his Mother dies of Brain Cancer. But he does not stay alone for long. His eccentric ex-Priest moves in with him, he has a grief counselor named Wendy and meets Max who ironically is the Brother of the Girl-librarian named Wendy who he has a crush on. He suddenly finds that he is not alone and not only will he learn about his biological father, he will have a beer in a pub with his new #$#@ friend, travel to Canada, hey. Throw in Cat Parliament and a Martini with the Girl librarian (Wendy) and Bartholomew finds friends, himself, some feral cats and learns that he is not so alone in this world after all. Chalk it all up to the Good Luck of Right now.

This book was#$%#@^$^good! Seriously, I really enjoyed this quirky book. This was a fast easy read. I loved the concept that each chapter was a letter that he wrote to Richard Gere, his Mother’s favorite actor. Very clever book.

four-stars

The Illusion of Separateness

The Illusion of SeparatenessThe Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
Published by Harper on June 11th 2013
Pages: 212
ISBN: 0062112244
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four-stars

*Received from Goodreads first reads giveaway.

What a beautiful and moving book. The writing was often poetic and quite lovely. The book is about how one man’s act of mercy during World War II changed the lives of a group of strangers, and how they each eventually discover the astonishing truth of their connection. The book is about how our interactions and even minor interactions with others can have a profound effect on the lives of others The story is about various people and how they are connected either knowingly or unknowingly. This book really is quite beautiful and I highly recommend it.

four-stars

Goat Mountain

Goat MountainGoat Mountain by David Vann
Published by Harper on September 10th 2013
Pages: 256
ISBN: 006212109X
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three-half-stars

**Received from GoodReads first reads giveaway.

In the fall of 1978, on a 640-acre family ranch on Goat Mountain in Northern California, an eleven-year-old boy joins his grandfather, his father, and his father’s best friend on the family’s annual deer hunt. When they find a poacher on the land, the boy is handed his father’s rifle to view the man through the sight and tragedy ensues. One single moment, one single event that will change the course of their lives forever. This is a haunting book, a book that is not a page turner but a slow read into a horrific event and what occurs afterward. This book is wonderfully written, the landscape is describe in such detail that you feel you are there. This book is not for everyone, but it is a worthwhile read.

three-half-stars

The Bookseller

The BooksellerThe Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
Published by Harper on March 3rd 2015
Pages: 352
ISBN: 0062333003
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three-stars

This is a hard book to rate. Although the writing is good, I never felt connected to the characters. I felt bad for her son and how Jenny mistreated him but that is it. This book feels like The “Sliding Doors” movie. Throughout the book, I kept wondering is the Kitty storyline real or is the Katharyn story line real…or perhaps neither is real. My problem with this book is, I really didn’t care. I had a theory but that was it. I think we’re this book fails is that the main character is not that intriguing. I found Lars to be more interesting as the husband dealing with a wife who doesn’t. believe their world is real.

three-stars