Monday, July 29, 2013

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Finished The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is the fifth book in his Sherlock Holmes series. While I've seen many dramatizations of this novel (some of the truly dreadful), I did not know the true ending. The line between legend and reality was often blurred, making the story very suspenseful. Some of the plot was easy to guess at, but the secret that made the hound look so demonic was a big surprise to me. This was a fun and exciting read.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Healing from Trauma: A Survivor's Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life

Finished Healing from Trauma: A Survivor's Guide to Understanding Your Symptoms and Reclaiming Your Life by Jasmin Lee Cori. I found this book very helpful. Last year I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD as a result of years of dealing with an alcoholic spouse/ex. His disease had a tremendous effect on the health of my daughter as well. She also has PTSD. I will admit that it took me a long time to finish this book, but that was my own avoidance of the whole topic. There were days when I just didn't want to get into it, so I didn't read. The book is written by a therapist who is herself a trauma survivor, which gives both the clinical and the personal perspective on things. The book is very accessible and I saw a lot of my issues right there on the page, along with sound suggestions for coping with them. I think people tend to associate PTSD with combat fatigue. There are all sorts of combat in this life. This book acknowledges this. Someday I hope to stop fighting my war.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss

Finished Slim for Life: My Insider Secrets to Simple, Fast, and Lasting Weight Loss by Jillian Michaels. I chose to listen to an audiobook version read by Michaels. I listened to it while working out on the treadmill or eliptical, which seemed appropriate. I like Michaels. She has a kick ass can-do attitude and a good sense of humor. The book involves a point system for the tips she suggests. Because of this, I would recommend acquiring a hard copy of the book so that you can circle tips, make notes, add up your score easily, and return to the text as a reference. This is a bit tricky with an audiobook. She gives lots of good suggestions and she is realistic about what the average person can accomplish.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

Finished Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, another great book by Gary D. Schmidt. It won the Newbery Honor Medal in 2005. Set in 1912, it's the story of Turner Buckminster, the son of Phippsburgh, Maine's new minister, Reverend Buckminster. Turner's father is stiff and strict. He home schools his son, teaching him Latin and the classics. As the new minister he is eager to please the deacons and other important citizens and often comes across as cold and distant.

Turner's life in the new town is anything but easy. As a minister's son he is held to a much higher standard than the other boys his age. These other boys plague and tease him to no end. He is lonely and friendless until the day he meets a girl named Lizzie Bright Griffin, digging clams along the shore. Lizzie is the first black person Turner has ever known. She is outspoken and determined and filled with fun. She takes Turner in her boat over to Malaga Island to meet her grandfather, also a minister. He meets Lizzie's neighbors and their children and has a marvelous time playing with them and emulating the gulls.

Malaga Island has been home to a black community ever since the end of The Civil War. The local big cheese, Mr. Stonecrop, wants to drive all the blacks off of Malaga Island and develop it into a tourist destination. The families on the island live in cobbled together structures. They keep to themselves and have their own church, school and cemetery. While not grand, their community has deep roots here.

So begins a battle between Stonecrop and his investors and Turner over the rights of the residents of Malaga Island to stay in the place they have always known as home. Some truly shocking things happen, which I will not give away. Schmidt sticks with a harsh reality when all along I expected a miracle. The events concerning Malaga Island are based in fact. Schmidt's novel is engaging, profound and deeply felt. I highly recommend it. He also won the Newbery Honor Medal in 2008 for The Wednesday Wars.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Silas Marner

Finished Silas Marner by George Eliot. Silas is a weaver. As a young man he is accused of stealing money from the church after being set up by his supposed best friend. When he is found guilty, his fiancee leaves him for this best friend and Silas leaves the community in search of a new life. He settles in a kindly rural village and lives a sad and reclusive life, weaving linen and hoarding the gold coins he earns at it. He becomes obsessed with the coins, taking them out each night to count them and make little piles of them. When his coins are stolen from his house he is devastated. Soon after a small child comes into his life. She is charming and trusting and has beautiful hair of gold. When her mother is found dead in a snowbank and the identity of her father is unknown, Silas adopts her and raises her as his own, seeing her as the replacement for his missing gold. He names her Hephziba, after the little sister he lost, calling her Eppie for short. Years later, when Eppie is eighteen the truth about the missing gold and Eppie's parentage comes to light and threatens to break apart Silas and Eppie's happy, humble home. This was an easy, comfortable read.

Next summer it's back to Hardy and Jude the Obscure.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Soldier's Wife

Finished The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy. Set during the German Occupation of Guernsey, it's the story of Vivianne, a woman trying to maintain a reasonable life for her four and fourteen year old daughters, and her increasingly senile mother-in-law. Leroy's descriptions of the Guernsey landscape are luscious. This is continually thrown into contrast with the brutality and ugliness of the war.

A group of four German officers moves into the empty house next door and Vivianne learns more than she expected about boundaries and the nuances of war than she ever imagined she would. This is an exciting and compelling novel. I enjoyed it tremendously.