I’ve enjoyed participating in the #TwoForTuesday blog
prompts in February and can’t wait to see what Rae of Rae’s Reads and Reviews
has in store for us in March. Today’s prompt was “Two books that Help you sleep
If you’ve followed by blog for a few months, you know that I suffer with insomnia. My sleep is way out of whack. I have trouble staying awake during the day and trouble going to sleep at night. My doctor has referred me to a sleep coach. Yes, it’s gotten that bad.
When challenged to write about two books that help me sleep
at night, I was hard-pressed to come up with a response. The “two” I settled on
are The Bible and just about any audio book. I know – that’s more than two
actual books and not very specific, but they’re what I came up with.
1. The Bible
This isn’t just the correct “Sunday School” or children’s sermon answer. This is my real answer. My nighttime insomnia aside, the book that allows me to give my troubles and worries to God so I’m not tossing and turning and wringing my hands is The Bible. I still do more than my share of tossing and turning, but it’s not because I despair.
I find The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language the easiest to understand and, therefore, the most comforting. The Message is a paraphrase of The Bible and was written by Presbyterian minister Eugene H. Peterson.
2. Just about any audio book
Until recently, I swore off
listening to any books. I found it stressful. I felt like someone was talking
“at” me and wouldn’t shut up. Got on my last nerve kind of stress.
Then, I got vertigo. In fact, I had two kinds of vertigo. One has cleared up, but the other still has me in physical therapy. Using the computer and reading tend to trigger an episode. Therefore, I’ve listened to two audio books so far this month plus part of a third. Even the ones I enjoy, eventually put me to sleep.
Have you ever read a book and thought one of the characters
was a dead ringer for someone you knew?
Today’s #TwoForTuesday writing prompt “two books that remind
you of someone,” turned out to be more difficult for me than I had anticipated,
but I chose A Man Called Ove, by
Fredrik Backman and The Importance of Pot
Liquor, by Jackie Seals Torrence. One is a well-known book and the other
one not so much.
A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
The main character in this book, Ove, reminds me of a
relative of mine who I will not identify for obvious reasons.
Ove is a 59-year-old man at odds with the world. From the opening scene of computer-illiterate Ove attempting to buy a computer from a much younger computer geek store assistant to the scenes in which Ove pays his respects to foreign cars, much of his personality and outlook on life resonated with me and brought to mind my relative. That’s what made much of A Man Called Ove so funny to me.
The Importance of Pot Liquor, by Jackie Seals Torrence
Chances are, you’ve never heard of this book. Chances are,
you have no idea what pot liquor is unless you’re of a certain age and a native
of North Carolina or another state in the American South. I’ll start by giving
an explanation of “pot liquor.” It has nothing to do with the alcoholic kind of
liquor. It is sometimes spelled “pot likker.”
What in the world is
Pot liquor is the liquid left in the pot after beans or other vegetables have been cooked and removed from the pot. I learned the term from my mother who was born more than 100 years ago on a farm and was one of 10 children. In other words, she grew up in a household where no food was wasted.
Therefore, I also grew up in a household where no food was
wasted. We would never (and still wouldn’t dream of) pouring pot liquor down
the drain. (Well, actually, I don’t drink or save broccoli pot liquor. I have
to draw the line somewhere.)
When a pot of beans or other vegetables had been eaten and only the juice remained, my mother would usually offer the “pot liquor” to me. I rarely turned it down. What my mother knew that I didn’t know is that pot liquor is nutritious. It contains the vitamins and minerals that the cooking water leached out of the vegetables. I just thought it tasted good. My favorite has always been black eyed peas.
To this day, I like pot liquor, but now I usually freeze it.
I keep a quart container in the freezer in which I add pot liquor from the
cooking of various vegetables. This combination of various pot liquors is
eventually used when I make homemade vegetable soup or have a recipe that calls
for vegetable broth.
A note about the author
The author of The Importance of Pot Liquor, Jackie Torrence, lived in Salisbury, North Carolina, not far from where her slave ancestors lived on Second Creek. Though born with a speech impediment, Ms. Torrence became a master storyteller and traveled the United States performing her stories and teaching others the craft of storytelling. She died in 2004, confined to a wheelchair due to arthritis.
Back to the book title…
With my explanation of pot liquor (which probably made some of you gag) out of the way, let’s get back to the book that reminds me of someone. I read the book in 2011, so I don’t remember the details of the book. That’s all right, because it is the title itself of Jackie Seals Torrence’s 1994 book, The Importance of Pot Liquor, which reminds me of my mother and also of an elderly family friend and distant relative, Miss Eugenia Lore.
Miss Eugenia and “The
Miss Eugenia was quite a character and very much a product
of her generation and family history. She was born in 1888 in Concord, North
Carolina. Her father served in the Army of the Confederate States of America
during the Civil War. She showed us the canteen he carried in the War which, in
her Southern accent, she always referred to it as “The Wah.”
The portrait of Robert E. Lee that hung on her parlor wall
had been purchased by her father as part of a fundraiser to secure the money
needed to erect a statue of Lee in Richmond, Virginia. If anyone in her
presence dared to call it the “Civil War,” she was quick to correct them with
the words, “There was nothin’ civil about it!”
Unlike my mother, Miss Eugenia was raised in town. Her
mother had “help” as in The Help, by
Kathryn Stockett. One time Miss Eugenia made a disparaging remark about pot
liquor because no one of her social status would have drunk it, and my mother responded
with something like, “Oh, I love pot liquor. You don’t know what you’re
missing.” Miss Eugenia was visibly appalled. In her mind, only an
African-American household servant would “have” to drink pot liquor.
I agree with my mother. Miss Eugenia didn’t know what she
One thing all bloggers are told they must do, if they hope to attract readers, is to include images in every post. I’ve worked hard to do this for the last several years. I did it last week when I included images of the books I wrote about; however, as I put the finishing touches on this post last night, I repeatedly got messages from WordPress.com saying “Given your current role, you can only link an image, you cannot upload.” Therefore, in today’s post I’ve included links to images of the books I’m writing about. I’m unsure how this will appear until the post goes online. I have no idea why this has happened.
Since I read 6.25 books in January, I decided to split my
comments about them between my blog post on February 4, 2019 and today. I hope
you’ll find what I have to say about three of the books I read last month
worthwhile. These are discussed in no particular order.
The Banker’s Wife, by Cristina Alger
The Banker’s Wife was a change of pace for me halfway through January after reading The Library Book. The Banker’s Wife, by Cristina Alger, is a financial thriller. In this novel, Ms. Alger takes us to Paris, Geneva, New York, the Dominican Republic, and the Cayman Islands. Primarily through the eyes of two strong female characters, we get a glimpse of the vicious and deadly world most of us never experience – Swiss bank accounts, the people who have them, the people who assist them, and those who are unfortunate to love someone in either of the other two categories.
If I had done more research about Cristina Alger’s books
before reading this 2018 novel, I would have known that it is a sequel to her
2012 debut novel, The Darlings. Now,
I want to read that book, although being a North Carolinian, “the Darlings”
conjures up visuals in my mind’s eye of that ne’er-do-well Darlin’ family on
The Andy Griffith Show of the 1960s. It’s difficult to associate wealth with
that name. I’m sorry, it just is. I offer my apologies to all the people with
the Darling surname.
The Banker’s Wife
is Ms. Alger’s third novel. The book captured my attention early on and the
fast-paced writing kept me turning pages to see what was going to happen next –
and to find out which characters were dead and which one’s deaths were staged
to cover up the real story.
If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan
This book held some nice surprises for me. I’ve been an Alan
Alda fan since the days of the M*A*S*H television series. I became even more
endeared to him when in answer to my request that he donate an autographed copy
of a book he’d written for an autographed book fundraiser held a few years ago
for the Friends of the Harrisburg Library in Harrisburg, North Carolina.
Mr. Alda graciously donated an autographed copy of the
script for an episode of M*A*S*H that he wrote. It turned out to be the hit of
the fundraiser and resulted in a bidding war between two individuals.
That said, I was drawn to the book by the title and the
author’s name. I thought it might be helpful to me as a writer since the book
is about communication. It was, but not in the ways I anticipated.
Here are a few of the impressions I took from the book:
1. Improvisation not only helps actors, it can help anyone get over their fear of talking in front of a large audience.
2. No matter what you’re trying to sell – whether it be a tangible product or an idea – the key is to focus on what the customer is thinking and what he or she needs. As a writer, I need to put myself in the mind of my reader. What does my reader need? What is my reader hoping to gain by reading my words?
3. Mr. Alda has concluded that the key to the great success of M*A*S*H was the fact that instead of disappearing into their separate trailers on the studio lot, they gathered their chairs in a circle and talked and laughed together as a group between “takes.” He said the connections they made off camera carried over when they were in front of the camera. It made them all better actors and their genuine comradery came through to the audience.
4. Much of Mr. Alda’s book is about empathy and the importance of empathy in communications. The book offers several things a person can do to increase their empathy for others. Mr. Alda says that true communication cannot take place between two people unless each one makes an effort to understand the other person and why they think the way they do. I couldn’t help but think of how polarized Americans are politically today. There really is a lack of understanding – or empathy – between The Right and The Left, between Republicans and Democrats. This doesn’t bode well for the 2020 election.
5. As a writer, start with what your reader knows. Don’t insult the reader by including basic information.
Now You See Me, by Sharon J. Bolton
Published in 2011, Now
You See Me was the first in Sharon J. Bolton’s Lacey Flint series. Flint is
a detective in London. The story opens with her seeing a woman dying while leaning
on Flint’s car. This thriller grabbed my attention from the beginning and kept
me turning pages well into the night. It’s rare that I read a quarter of a
novel in one sitting, but that’s what I did with Now You See Me.
Detective Flint is forced almost immediately to try to
discern who she can trust within the Metropolitan Police Department. Is she
seen as a crime scene witness, or is she viewed as a murder suspect? She’s very
convincing as a witness.
As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the killer is
patterning his actions after Jack the Ripper. (Spoiler alert: this gets more gruesome than I’m used to
reading, but I had to know what happened next.)
What about Flint’s fellow police officer, Joesbury. There’s
definitely something weird about him. Is he the killer?
No. Someone else is caught… sort of.
I thought the book came to a good stopping point just shy of
halfway through. In fact, I thought I
might not keep reading. This seems like the end of the story. I could move on
to another book.
But I read a few more pages. Wow! What a turn of events! I’m glad I kept
Since my last blog
I continue to do a lot of reading about writing and about
blogging in an effort to get better at writing fiction and blogging. I made
good progress writing a short story I’m calling “From Scotland to America,
1762,” writing 1,400 words Saturday afternoon.
Until my next blog
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Before and Again, by Barbara Delinsky; Button Man, by Andrew Gross; and A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy.
I rarely listen to a book because I find it irritating to listen to someone
talk on and on and on; however, since I’m having a bout with vertigo, I decided
to give the Maeve Binchy audio book a try and I’m really enjoying it. It
probably has something to do with the lovely accent of the reader, Rosalyn
Landor. It’s nice to just shut my eyes and listen.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time and plenty of time
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes
doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome
Let’s continue the
If you’ve read any of the books I mentioned today, let me
know what you thought about them.
My reading in January brought an
interesting mix of fiction and nonfiction. In fact, when I wrote the first draft
of this blog post about the 6.25 books I read last month, it was too long for
one post. You’re all busy people and you only have so much time to give to reading
my blog. Therefore, I’ll write about 3.25 of the 6.25 books today and the other
three books next Monday.
At Home on the Kazakh Steppe: A Peace Corps Memoir, by Janet Givens
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from
start to finish! Janet Givens gives an informative and entertaining glimpse
into the experiences she and her husband had while serving in the Peace Corps
in Kazakhstan for two years. I learned a lot about Kazakhstan and the mores of
its citizens. Ms. Givens had to learn most of the idiosyncrasies of the Kazahk
people the hard way – by trial and error, but she took all her faux pas in
Ms. Givens approached her stint with
the Peace Corps with a sense of wonder and adventure. There were many trying
days and awkward relationships but by the end of her second year in Kazahkstan,
Ms. Givens hated to leave.
I highly recommend this memoir to
anyone curious about the work of the Peace Corps or the countries in the former
The Reckoning, by John Grisham
The Reckoning is
not your typical John Grisham legal thriller. It includes the law and a man who
choose to break it and it’s a thriller, but it is very different from Mr.
Grisham’s usual offerings. The story opens with
Pete, a World War II hero back home in Mississippi in 1946.
Pete wakes up one morning and decides that is the day. Just
that: today is the day. Mr. Grisham pulled me into Pete’s life. Fairly early in
the book, we see what Pete does that day that will change his and many other
lives forever, but we don’t know why. We have a hunch, though.
The second part of the novel goes back to when Pete met his
future life. We learn about the life they made together, but we primarily learn
what Pete endured in the Pacific Theatre during the War. It’s not pretty, but
it’s authentic. That part of the book at times reads almost like a history
book, but Mr. Grisham writes in a way that makes it personal and real.
The third and final section of the book goes back to 1946
for Pete’s college-age son and daughter to pick up the pieces of their lives
and try to make sense of what their father did. And that hunch we had in Part
One proves not to be correct when the truth comes out in Part Three!
The Reckoning is
different from Mr. Grisham’s usual legal thrillers, but I liked it.
The Boat People, by Sharon Bala
Call me old-fashioned, but I’m put off by novels that don’t
use quotation marks. It’s irritating, and I shudder to think that might be the
wave of the future of publishing. Let’s save some ink and omit the quotation
marks! I’d read good things about The
Boat People, though, so I persevered.
The book held much promise in the opening chapters as we
were introduced to several of the 503 Sri Lankan asylum seekers in a boat as it
nears Canada. A father, Mr. Mahindan, and his six-year-old son are the focus of
the book. Upon landing in Canada in 2009 they are separated from each other
because all women and children are detained in a separate facility from the
men. It was immaterial that Mr. Mahindan and his little boy only had each
The separation was gut-wrenching and traumatic for both of
them. It hit me right in the gut and immediately brought to mind the even more
severe and inhumane separation of women from men and children from adults on
the US-Mexico border this winter. Just as Canadians couldn’t believe what was
happening in their country in 2009, we Americans can’t believe what is
happening now along our southern border. Don’t get me started!
I usually don’t mention on my blog the books that I don’t
finish reading, but this one held such promise and I just couldn’t stay with
it. If you read it, I’d like to hear your thoughts.
I read the first one-fourth of the book (hence, the title of
today’s blog post) and just lost interest in the 2002 backstory for this 2009
event. The back-and-forth between the two years didn’t appeal to me. That,
combined with the lack of quotation marks delineating dialogue, made me close
the book and move on to ….
The Library Book, by Susan Orlean
I read in advance reviews of The Library Book that the event that prompted Susan Orlean to write
the book was the April 29, 1986 fire at the Central Los Angeles Public Library
that destroyed 400,000 books. An additional 700,000 books were badly damaged. It
was (and still is) the largest library fire in the history of the United
States. I’m an avid reader and big supporter of public libraries, so I wondered
how I could have missed hearing about this tragedy at the time it happened.
It turns out that most people never heard about it because
it coincided with the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in Russia. For days and
days after the April 25-26 disaster, the nuclear scare predominated the news.
The Library Book
not only tells about the fire and the employees and volunteers cleaning up the
mess left behind; it also delves into the cause of the fire, and the history of
the Los Angeles County Public Library System. Many interesting tidbits about
libraries in general are included in the book, and one can tell by the tone of
the book and the words used that Ms. Orleans loves and reveres libraries.
The fire, the search for an arsonist, and some of the little
known facts and quotes about libraries was interesting and worth the read;
however, I got bogged down in the history of the library system in Los Angeles
County and found myself skipping paragraphs and, eventually, skipping pages.
I picked back up somewhere along the way and enjoyed the
rest of the book. The book reinforced the warm and fuzzy feelings I have about
Since my last blog
I’ve done a lot of reading and worked on a short story and
my novel’s outline.
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Creating Character Arc: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story
Structure, Plot, and Character Development, by K.M Weiland; and Red Notice:
A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice,
by Bill Browder.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time
and lots of time to read.
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing
something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your
Let’s continue the
If you’ve read any of the books I mentioned today, let me know what you thought about them. Did I “miss the boat” by not finishing The Boat People, by Sharon Bala?
See you tomorrow for a bonus #TwoForTuesday blog post!
Diane Chamberlain broke away from her usual form of writing novels and did a great job with time travel in The Dream Daughterr. The book begins in 1970 with a pregnant woman, Caroline Sears, finding out that her unborn baby has a heart defect.
It turns out that Caroline’s
brother-in-law has come to 1970 from the future. He knows that if Caroline can
find her way to the future, her unborn daughter can have fetal surgery – the
unthinkable in 1970.
I won’t give away any details of
Caroline’s journey. I’ll just say things don’t go smoothly. This trip across
decades will keep you turning pages.
There Was an Old Woman, by Hallie
The title of this book caught by
attention and immediately took me back 60 years to nursery rhymes about the old
woman who lived in a shoe and the old woman who swallowed a fly. I’d never read
anything by Hallie Ephron, so I decided to give There Was an Old Woman a try.
The story involves multiple
generations, with an emphasis on several independent-living octogenarians.
Things in the neighborhood keep disappearing. What’s happening? Who is doing
this? Is it the strange man across the street?
Thrown into the mix is a subplot
about the B-25 Mitchell bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building on
July 28, 1945. Ms. Ephron sheds a light on that much-forgotten event by making
one of the main characters in the book be a survivor of that plane crash. I
must admit, I did not know about that tragedy in which 14 people were killed.
There Was an Old Woman
is categorized as a thriller, but it did not come across to me as such. It’s
more like a neighborhood mystery in which the daughter of one of the
80+-year-olds is forced to come home and deal with her mother’s illness and
neglected house. The book has received an interesting mix of 1-star and 5-star
reviews, with most reviews falling into the 3- or 4-star categories.
Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown,
Summoning Courage, and Fighting Back, by Jackie Speier
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this
memoir by United States Representative Jackie Speier of California’s 14th
congressional district. I was not aware that Ms. Speier survived the Jonestown
Massacre, so that fact alone drew me to this memoir.
What a life Ms. Speier has had! When
she was 28 years old, she worked for California Congressman Leo Ryan. She and
others accompanied Ryan to Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana on
November 14, 1978 to rescue individuals being held there against their will.
Those who are old enough to remember that fateful event know that things rapidly soured upon the delegation’s arrival. Congressman Ryan was murdered and Jackie Speier was shot five times and nearly died.
For someone like me who is a history
and political “junkie,” this memoir was compelling and inspiring. Ms. Speier
writes about her widowhood, motherhood, her lifelong work in politics, and her
40-year determination to overcome the scars she has from her Jonestown
Since my last blog post
I continue to receive encouraging comments in response to my December 17, 2018 blog post, https://janetswritingblog.com/2018/12/17/to-write-or-not-to-write/. I appreciate each and every one of them and each and every one of my blog readers. I have a more positive attitude about my novel in progress since being bolstered up by so many of you over the last three weeks.
The holidays turned out not to be
conducive to my getting back to putting words on paper (or the computer screen,
as the case may be.) I’ve mulled the story over and over in my mind, though,
and I intend to get back to writing that book this week. I need my blog readers
to hold me accountable!
I’ve read many helpful blog posts
and articles this week about the various facets of writing. One in particular
hit a chord with me, but I’ve misplaced the link to it. The piece recommends
that an aspiring novelist publish one or more short story collections in order
to build readership. I’m kicking around that idea. It makes sense. The theory
is that more people will want to buy my novel if they have read and liked my
short stories. I needed one more project!
Call me a klutz if you want to,
because I think I qualify. In the last four or five days I’ve broken a toe on
both feet, but not at the same time. Don’t laugh; broken toes are painful.
my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading The Reckoning, by John Grisham.
you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing
time. I hope I do, too!
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have
spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.
I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.
continue the conversation.
Have you read any books recently that you’d recommend
to me and my blog readers?
Have any of you writers had experience – good or bad –
in publishing short stories to build readership prior to publishing your first
Books can entertain, educate, or even change one’s thinking.
When I looked back over the list of the 56 books I read in 2018, I was amazed at the variety and the things I learned. I learned some history while I was entertained, and I hope I learned something about writing. Several of the books changed my thinking. You can’t ask a book to give you more than that.
books that entertained, educated, or changed me or my thinking in 2018 are
listed here in alphabetical order by author.
Fascism: A Warning, by Madeleine
Taster, by V.S. Alexander
Atomic City Girls, by Janet Beard
by Mary Lynn Bracht
Over Grit, by Laleh Chini and Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi
Ocean to Cross, by Ann Griffin
Prayer, by Khaled Hosseini
Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic,
and Hopeful Spiritual Community, by John Pavlovitz
to Win: Samurai Techniques For Your Work
and Life, by David J. Rogers
Broken Girls, by Simone St. James
Undaunted: Surviving Jonestown, Summoning Courage, and
Fighting Back, by Jackie Speier
I have heard from a number of you since then. You have
offered encouragement and helped prop me up. Knowing I have blog readers in
quite a few countries from around the world in addition to those in the US who
cared enough to take time to leave comments has boosted my morale and helped me
to determine that I must continue to work on that historical novel I’ve worked
on off and on for a decade.
Even if there are days I can only write for 15
minutes, then that’s what I’ll do in 2019. Slowly but surely, I will finish
writing that book!
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading At Home on the Kazakh Steppe: A Peace Corps Memoir, by Janet Givens.
I’m thoroughly enjoying it. You can check out her website at
you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it and I welcome your comments.
continue the conversation.
What are some of the books that educated you or
changed your life or your thinking?
Some months I get lucky with the books I get to read. October was one of those. I was overwhelmed with library books for which I reached the top of the waitlist. Several books had to go back to the library unread, so those remain on my to be read list.
Climbing Over Grit, by Marzeeh Laleh Chini and Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi
I have been following Laleh Chini’s blog, “A Voice from Iran” for quite a while, but I had somehow missed knowing that she was writing a book. When she announced that her book, Climbing Over Grit, was available on preorder, I immediately ordered it. Laleh has a gift for storytelling, so I knew her book would be good.
Little did I know that Laleh’s book was based on some experiences within her own family! The book is written in first-person point-of-view, but I still didn’t catch on that it was written in her mother’s voice until I came to a page well into the book that said something like, “The second daughter was named Laleh.” I gasped out loud! It was then that I couldn’t put the book down. I finished reading it at 4:30 in the morning.
I still cringe to think about some of Laleh’s family members being subjected to arranged child marriage and the abuse that often goes along with that practice.
Fortunately for her readers, Laleh got out of Iran at the age of 16 and came to the United States. She now resides in Canada. He photographs and Iranian folktales she shares in her blog have helped me get a picture of an Iran I didn’t know existed.
Climbing Over Grit is not a pleasant read, but I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about the child bride culture of Iran. Her blog can be found at https://avoicefromiran.wordpress.com/.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris
The main character in The Tattooist of Auschwitz, by Heather Morris, will haunt me for a long time. Ludwig “Lale” Sokolov was a Slovakian Jew taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Nazis. He was not a trained tattooist, but he found he could do the work. Anything to stay alive. He had to tattoo the identification numbers on the forearms of the prisoners at Auschwitz and Birkenau for the last two to three years of World War II.
One particular female prisoner named Gita caught his eye, and they began a love story. The promise of being together forever with each other helped keep both of them alive throughout their awful ordeals.
This is a story of courage, love, and man’s inhumanity to man. It is an international bestseller and is based on a true story. His position of some level of trust affords Lale the opportunity to come in possession of some money and jewels that were taken from other Jews upon their arrival at the concentration camps. He used those items in exchange for food for his fellow prisoners.
The author interviewed Lale and his descendants in order to weave Lale and Gita’s story into this work of fiction. Their story of suffering, courage, and love will stay with me for a long time. Even those of you who don’t normally read historical fiction might find this novel appealing.
Sea Prayer, by Khaled Hosseini
My October 8, 2018 blog post, Words of Khaled Hosseini was about his new children’s book, Sea Prayer. I invite you to read that post in case you missed it earlier.
I will not go into the details of Sea Prayer today, since I explored the book’s theme in that earlier blog post. Although it is a book for juveniles, I highly recommend it to people of all ages – to anyone old enough to have an understanding of what a refugee is.
The Devil and Webster, by Jean Hanff Korelitz
I mention this book because the premise sounded promising. I tried two or three times to read it, but I just couldn’t get into it. I decided to list it today because it just might appeal to some of you. It is literary satire, so maybe I just don’t get the satire or didn’t read enough of it to catch on. The book has many five-star reviews. People seem to really like it or not like it at all. I read the first 25 percent of the book.
Lying in Wait, by Liz Nugent
After reading A.J. Finn’s recommendation for Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait, I checked it out of the library. I had enjoyed Mr. Finn’s novel, The Woman in the Window, so his recommendation carried a lot of weight. I was not disappointed in this psychological thriller.
The first chapter of Lying in Wait is from the point-of-view of Lydia and opens with the following sentence: “My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.” That got my attention, so I kept reading.
Part I of the novel takes place in 1980. Each chapter was from the point-of-view of one of the characters, and the emphasis was on how Annie Doyle’s parents and sister responded to her unexpected disappearance. It is near the end of Part I when the reader finds out why Lydia’s husband killed Annie.
Part II follows each character as they continue to deal with the situation in 1985. You have Annie’s sister still demanding answers from the police over her missing sister, while Lydia and her son deal with the secret of Annie’s murder. To get into the details, I would have to reveal too much of the storyline, so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice it to say, there are some interesting interactions between some of the characters.
Part III jumps to 2016 to pull together all the loose ends, and the ending might surprise you.
As a rule, I don’t like novels in which chapters alternate between various characters’ points-of-view, but this format worked for Lying in Wait. I want to read more of Liz Nugent’s books. She has won many awards for her writing in her native Ireland and, apparently, has a cult-like following.
My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
This historical novel told from the point-of-view of Eliza Schuyler, wife of Alexander Hamilton is a long but enjoyable read. At 642 pages, it’s the longest book I’ve read in quite a while. I must say I learned some things about Alexander Hamilton, and I learned a great many things about his wife. I really knew nothing about her before reading the book.
That said, it is a work of historical fiction, so most of Eliza’s feelings and emotions throughout the book fall into the fiction category. I appreciated the authors’ extensive notes at the end of the book where they told what was true, what was fiction, and what was adjusted chronologically to make the book work. I also appreciated the fact that they included in the book that Eliza grew up on a plantation that had slaves in the state of New York. Many people are not aware that some people outside The South owned slaves in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
It’s about time the women who helped found our nation got a little credit.
Since my last blog post
I attended the memorial service for a true American hero, Seville Schofield Funk, Sr. He served in the United States Army’s 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II. In the line of service he sustained a broken ankle and went back into battle after a brief recovery. Later, he was shot in the left shoulder and returned to battle. Later, he was shot in the right shoulder and yet again returned to the front lines. I was honored to have known this unassuming man. When I go to my polling place to vote tomorrow, it will be because Mr. Funk and others like him have preserved my freedom to vote by their unselfish military service.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.
Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.
Let’s continue the conversation.
Have you read any good books lately? Have you read any of the books I read last month? If so, what did you think of them?