Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal - Book Cover
Source: Goodreads

Far Far Away

Tom McNeal

 
Pages: 384 | Audiobook: 10 hrs 58 min
Published June 11th 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers (first published 2013)
 
A National Book Award Finalist
An Edgar Award Finalist
Audie Award Finalist
A California Book Award Gold Medal Winner

A dark, contemporary fairy tale in the tradition of Neil Gaiman.

It says quite a lot about Jeremy Johnson Johnson that the strangest thing about him isn't even the fact his mother and father both had the same last name. Jeremy once admitted he's able to hear voices, and the townspeople of Never Better have treated him like an outsider since. After his mother left, his father became a recluse, and it's been up to Jeremy to support the family. But it hasn't been up to Jeremy alone. The truth is, Jeremy can hear voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of the infamous writing duo, The Brothers Grimm.

Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next. But when the provocative local girl Ginger Boultinghouse takes an interest in Jeremy (and his unique abilities), a grim chain of events is put into motion. And as anyone familiar with the Grimm Brothers know, not all fairy tales have happy endings...

Veteran writer Tom McNeal has crafted a young adult novel at once grim(m) and hopeful, full of twists, and perfect for fans of contemporary fairy tales like Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Holly Black's Doll Bones.

Sources: Goodreads and Amazon

 

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★

This is not my standard genre but I must say, I was thoroughly captivated this book. Like a good Grimm's tale, there are children. Children at play. And a ghost. And a Baker. It is delightful. And then it isn't. It turns grim, of course! It is scary but not too scary. That's coming from me, an absolute lightweight when it comes to scary and dark.

I listened to the Audible version narrated by W. Morgan Sheppard, who delivers a fantastic performance. His voice is grandfatherly. It's light and fun then perfectly cautious, creating suspense yet, at the same time, a sense of safety.

I was completely taken aback by how entertaining I found this tale to be and was reminded that sometimes a good old, Grimm-type fairytale is just what's needed.

About the Author

Tom McNeal Author image
Source: Goodreads

Tom McNeal

Tom was born in Santa Ana, California. His father was a native Californian who raised oranges, and his mother grew up on a farm in northwest Nebraska, where Tom spent his childhood summers. After earning a BA and a teaching credential from UC Berkeley, Tom moved to Hay Springs, Nebraska, taught high school English, drove a school bus, substituted briefly in a one-room schoolhouse, and began work on the novel Goodnight, Nebraska. Tom holds an MA in creative writing from UC Irvine and was a Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.

His short stories have been widely anthologized, and "What Happened to Tully" was made into a film. He is the author, with his wife, Laura, of four critically-acclaimed young adult novels published by Knopf—Crooked, Crushed, The Decoding of Lana Morris, and Zipped, and the solo author of FAR FAR AWAY (a finalist for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature). His adult titles include Goodbye, Nebraska, winner of the California Book Award, and To Be Sung Underwater, published by Little Brown in 2012 and named one of the best books of the year by the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

He lives with his wife and two sons in Southern California.

Sources: Amazon and Nationalbook.org    

 

Book Trailer, Inspiration, Secret Passageways, and More

Book Trailer

Random House Kids | Published on Apr 17, 2013

Young adult veteran Tom McNeal (one half of the writing duo known as Laura & Tom McNeal) has crafted a novel at once warmhearted, compulsively readable, and altogether thrilling--and McNeal fans of their tautly told stories will not be disappointed.

Secret Passages

Q & A with Tom McNeal
By Kate Pavao | May 29, 2013

In an article in the New York Times, you (Tom McNeal) talked about having secret doors in your house – which seems a bit like a fairy tale. Do you think this has any influence on your work or your creative process?

That inclination for the secret passages must align in some way. I don’t exactly know why. I know the history of it. The house in which I was raised had walk-in closets with incomplete walls – the walls went up like 6 or 7 feet, but didn’t go to the ceiling. My brother, sister and I would climb over those walls all the time to get into the next room.

I always knew I wanted to build a house and I always knew when I built a house I wanted a secret passage in it. When Laura and I married we finally did that. I think it all goes back to the fun of not leaving your room to go into the hallway, but sneaking into your brother or sister’s room.

We’re building a house right now and the boys are finally going to get their own rooms – and just like the other house, this will have a not-so-secret passage. They will have bookshelves that roll away or swing out. That will lead to a ladder that leads to a trap door to the attic. They are very keen on this, of course. So now they are going to get the bug too.

Source: Publisher's Weekly

 

More Q & A with Tom McNeal

Source: Kidsreads.com

In FAR FAR AWAY, a boy named Jeremy Johnson Johnson finds himself to be the outcast in a small town. Not only does he have double the same last name, he also claims to hear voices. But he can hear a voice --- the voice of Jacob Grimm, one half of the famous Brothers Grimm. With his help, Jeremy tries to save the family bookshop, survive an unsavory adventure and find his place in the world.

In this interview, Tom McNeal shares his inspiration for this unique ghost story, what he likes most about fairy tales and what he's working on next!

1. What inspired you to write FAR FAR AWAY?

I’d fallen into reading about the Grimm Brothers, and the circumstances of their story was fascinating to me --- Jacob and Wilhelm united throughout their lives, working together, Jacob living with Wilhelm even after Wilhelm became a husband and father, the awful death of Jacob’s young nephew (and namesake). Jacob outlived his younger brother and was the more somber and rigid of the two. The more I read about him, the more curmudgeonly yet sympathetic he seemed, and I began to think of him as the right conduit for the story. And so, before very long, Jacob Grimm became my ghost, and FAR FAR AWAY became his story.

2. What kind of research did you do on fairy tales, since you bring so much of Jacob Grimm's life into the story?

I read a lot of biographical and critical material about the Grimm Brothers and their tales. I took notes, marked up the tales and could’ve kept at it even longer, but, you know, sooner or later you have to start writing. The most famous Grimm scholars are Jack Zipes and Maria Tatar. She’s a professor of Germanic Languages at Harvard and her ANNOTATED BROTHERS GRIMM provides all sorts of really interesting context and biographical references in the margins of each of the tales.  Tatar's writing is also beautifully lucid and engaging.  I'd think that anyone at all interested in the Grimms would have a lot of fun with that book.

3. What is your favorite aspect of fairy tales?

I like the way fairy tales let you peer into your darkest fears (dark forests, wicked stepmothers) or fondest dreams (complete a quest, win the princess). In FAR FAR AWAY, there are twin quests.  Jacob is trying to figure out The Thing Undone and Jeremy is trying to find his place in the real world.  Though their aims are different, as the book evolves, their paths converge. What allows Jacob finally to escape the Zwischenraum --- his mentorship and affection for Jeremy --- is also what allows Jeremy to move forward in the world with a fuller idea of who he is.

4. Which fairy tale story is your favorite? Do you have a favorite fairy tale storyteller?

I think I answer this differently every time I’m asked. This time I’ll say, “Rapunzel,” because it’s not only strange and romantic and evocative, but also because the first Grimm version was basically R-rated, and then the brothers cleaned it up. This funny evolution comes up in the book, by the way.

I was attracted more to the Grimms’ collection because of the darkness in so many of their tales.  And, too, because of their rough justice. In the end of a Grimm tale, goodness and generosity is generously rewarded and cruelty is cruelly punished. Very satisfying.

5. In FAR FAR AWAY, fairy tales and reality seem to blur for Jeremy Johnson Johnson: he does hear Jacob Grimm's voice, but it's not certain if there is magic in the prince cakes. Do you believe there's a certain amount of blur in real life, too?

Oh, sure. I think one reason I've always liked a good ghost story is because I don't find it completely impossible that spirits can linger. And this is probably because my own mother told me some stories about telepathic visits from the dead that she didn't believe were fictional. So you can see how it could begin to take root.

6. Jacob Grimm tries to pull Jeremy towards his studies and Ginger tries to pull him toward fun throughout the story. Which direction would you try to pull Jeremy? Which way do you usually turn towards in your life?

Toward the end of the book, Jeremy promises that he will study hard in Jacob’s absence. Jacob responds, Study, yes, but also enjoy. Of course the complement of this is, Enjoy, yes, but also study. Even for me as an adult, I find the balance between the two a difficult thing

7. What you like readers to take away after reading this book?

In the last years of their lives, Wilhelm & Jacob Grimm undertook the compilation of an authoritative German dictionary, a massive project that they could not complete. The last word that Jacob worked on before his death was frucht, or fruit, which, as Jacob points out in the book, derives from the Latin fructus: to enjoy.

8. What should readers expect to see from you next? Are you working on anything right now?

At the moment I’m working on an adult book told from the p.o.v. of a caretaker of an avocado grove.  With any luck, it will be less boring than that sounds. As for another YA book, I’d love to do something more with a ghost, and have a couple of things in mind.

Book Club Chat with the Author

VLCPhotoProductions
Streamed live on May 20, 2013Published on Apr 26, 2009

In this fun conversation with Tom McNeal, he jovially answers question from book club members and gives a glimpse into his personal and writing lives. The sound quality is a bit lacking but the interview is well worth the listen.

Discussion Questions

Source: Novel Gobblers Book Club

  1. Have you read other books by this author?
  2. Did this book remind you of any other books you've read?
  3. What do you think of the book cover? Does it represent the book well?
  4. Was the story what you expected it to be? Were you pleased or disappointed?
  5. If you listened to the audiobook, did you enjoy the narrator? Why or why not?
  6. Was the plot predictable? What were some of your predictions and were they correct?
  7. What did you find unique about this story?
  8. Were the characters believable and lovable?
  9. Were there any moments in the book surprised you? Did you feel suspense? Did the story hold your attention?
  10. Who were your favorite secondary characters?
  11. What did you like or dislike about this book?
  12. Is there a moral to this story?
  13. What do you imagine Prince Cakes taste like?
  14.  Do you have any favorite quotes from the book?
  15. Will you look to read other books by this author?

Happy Reading!

City of Thieves by David Benioff

City of Thieves by David Benioff
The City of Thieves David Benioff Cover
Source: Goodreads

City of Thieves

David Benioff 

 
Pages: 258 / Audio: 8 Hrs 34 mins
Published May 15th 2008 by Viking Adult (first published 2008)
 
From the critically acclaimed author of The 25th Hour, a captivating novel about war, courage, survival — and a remarkable friendship that ripples across a lifetime.

During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.

By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★★

"Calm yourself, my morbid little Israelite. I won't let the bad men get you."

There was nothing about this book that I couldn't love; the main characters, the plot, the pace, the writing -- it was all fantastic. I was hooked from the first sentence. I think what stands out most to me is the writing. The words flow effortlessly. They are smooth and descriptive. I was not reading so much as I was mentally seeing the story play out like a movie. I could see, hear, and feel the emotions, events, environment, and the characters. David Benioff is an amazing writer and storyteller. This is a book I could read over and over and enjoy it more each time. 

About the Author

David_Benioff_Author
Source: Goodreads

David Benioff

David Benioff (born David Friedman but changed his name to take his mother's maiden name) was born and raised in New York City and attended Dartmouth College and the University of California at Irvine. His father, Stephen Friedman, is a former chairman of Goldman Sachs and current Chairman of the United States President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. 

Before the publication of his first novel The 25th Hour, Benioff worked as a club bouncer and high school English teacher, until his adaptation of The 25th Hour into a feature film directed by Spike Lee led to a new new career as a screenwriter, including the screenplays for "The Kite Runner". 

Stories from his critically acclaimed collection When the Nines Roll Over appeared in Best New American Voices and The Best Nonrequired American Reading. His latest novel is City of Thieves. He is also a co-creater of the award winning HBO series, "Game of Thrones". He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Amanda Peet, and daughter.   Source: Bookbrowse.com

Revealing Interviews

City of Thieves was my first exposure to David Benioff. I don't follow Game of Thrones -- I know, I know. Oh, the shame! However, after reading City of Thieves and loving it as much as I did, I was fascinated with this author and had to learn more about him. Below are some wonderful interviews discussing his books, his writing process, fears, other authors, X-Men, Game of Thrones, and more.  Such a genuine, talented man.

David Benioff on Writing:
Game of Thrones, City of Thieves & Telling Lies for Grown Ups

Published on Jul 8, 2013

In this interview with Rich Fahle of Bibliostar.TV, writer, screenwriter, and Producer David Benioff explains how the Game of Thrones books helped him rediscover his fantasy roots, his love of the New York filmmakers of his 1970s youth, the story behind his own successful novels, and the challenges of adapting beloved stories for the big screen.

 
Writers' Confessions

Published on Jul 18, 2010

David Benioff discusses screenwriting and other aspects of the writing process. Shot during the 2008 International Festival of Authors at the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto.

 
A Conversation with David Benioff

Source: Penguin Random House

Q. City of Thieves begs the question: Did all this really happen to your grandfather?

No. My grandfather was born on a farm in Delaware. He became a furrier and died in Allentown, Pennsylvania. My grandmother (unlike the non-cooking grandmother in the book) made the best chopped chicken liver in the state. Neither one, as far as I know, ever visited Russia.

Q. David notes, “Truth might be stranger than fiction, but it needs a better editor.” (p. 4) How much “editing” did you do?

See answer to number one. A whole lot.

Q. How much additional research did you do to write this novel?

I had a wonderful teacher once, the novelist Ann Patchett. I asked her about the research she did for The Magician’s Assistant, and she told me to choose the single best book on the given subject and study it obsessively. Writers are always tempted to track down dozens of books to help give our make-believe stories that tang of authenticity, but often the problem with too much research is a writing style that seems too researched, dry and musty, and eager for a history teacher’s gold star of approval.

Unfortunately, my will was not strong enough for me to follow Ann’s advice. I did end up reading dozens

 
Words & Wine: David Benioff - City of Thieves

Published on Apr 26, 2009

David Benioff joins Warren for another evening of Words & Wine where they measure the importance of talent, place a friendly wager, and stress the importance of bowel movements.

 

The City of Thieves David Benioff Cover

Visit our City of Thieves board on Pinterest

Discussion Questions

Source: Penguin Random House

  • David wants to hear about his grandfather’s experiences firsthand. Why is it important for us to cultivate and preserve our oral histories? Do you have a relative or friend whose story you believe should be captured for posterity?
  • Lev’s father is taken—and almost certainly killed—by the NKVD, yet Lev himself stays behind to defend Leningrad. How do you think he reconciled his patriotism to his love for his father?
  • In the midst of a major historical moment, Lev is preoccupied with thoughts of food and sex. What does this tell us about experiencing history as it unfolds?
  • From the cannibals in the market to the sex slaves in the farmhouse, there are numerous illustrations of the way in which war robs us of our humanity. In your opinion, what was the most poignant example of this and why?
  • Kolya tells Lev that the government should “put the famous on the front lines” (p. 67) rather than use them as the spokespeople for patriotic propaganda. Do you agree or disagree? Can you think of any contemporary instances of this practice?
  • Aside from the sly pride that Lev notices, are there any other clues that give Kolya away as the true author of The Courtyard Hound?
  • Do you think Markov’s denouncer should have remained silent about the partisan’s presence? Did either of them deserve to die?
  • Even moments before Lev pulls his knife on the Sturmbannführer, he thinks: “I had wanted him dead since I’d heard Zoya’s story. . . . [But] I didn’t believe I was capable of murdering him” (p. 228). Do you think everyone—given the right motivation—is capable of killing another human being? Could you?
  • Lev takes an instinctive dislike to Kolya yet comes to consider him his best friend. What was the turning point in their relationship?
  • Lev says that Vika “was no man’s idea of a pinup girl,” (p.149) but he is instantly infatuated. Would he have been drawn to her had they met in different—safer—circumstances?

Happy Reading!

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Source: Goodreads

The Road Back to You:

An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

 
Pages: 238 / Audio: 9 Hrs 17 mins
Published November 17th 2016 by Inter-Varsity Press,US
 
Ignorance is bliss except in self-awareness...

What you don't know about yourself can hurt you and your relationships―and even keep you in the shallows with God. Do you want help figuring out who you are and why you're stuck in the same ruts? The Enneagram is an ancient personality typing system with an uncanny accuracy in describing how human beings are wired, both positively and negatively.

In The Road Back to You Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile forge a unique approach―a practical, comprehensive way of accessing Enneagram wisdom and exploring its connections with Christian spirituality for a deeper knowledge of ourselves, compassion for others, and love for God. Witty and filled with stories, this book allows you to peek inside each of the nine Enneagram types, keeping you turning the pages long after you have read the chapter about your own number. Not only will you learn more about yourself, but you will also start to see the world through other people's eyes, understanding how and why people think, feel, and act the way they do. Beginning with changes you can start making today, the wisdom of the Enneagram can help take you further along into who you really are―leading you into places of spiritual discovery you would never have found on your own, and paving the way to the wiser, more compassionate person you want to become.

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Carol's Rating: ★★★★★

"There are others [personality typing systems] that describe and encourage you to embrace who you are, which isn't very helpful if who you are is a jerk." 

This is wonderful introduction to the Enneagram Personality Typing System. The authors break down a complicated subject into a clear, concise, and entertaining guide to self-discovery. The authors tell it like it is and provide relatable and often humorous examples.

As I read through the different personality types searching for myself, it seemed at first that all of them held pieces of me. But then I came to the chapter that powerfully resonated with me.

How did it make me feel? 
Relieved. Understood and accepted. Liberated. Empowered. 

It explained why I see the world the way I do, why I do what I do, that I am not alone, and provided manageable tips to save me from my self-defeating self and move toward my wiser more compassionate self.

What I like best about this typing system is that it removes judgement from the equation and focuses on the motivation behind the behavior. But it doesn't stop there. Accountability is addressed, too. "...once you know your Enneagram number it takes away any excuse you might have for not changing."

When we learn to recognize behaviors and understand the root of them, doors will open to healthier communication and relationships. This book leads you to the glorious, attainable path of becoming your best self.

 

About the Authors

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery
Source: theroadbacktoyou.com

Ian Morgan Cron

Ian Morgan Cron is a bestselling author, Enneagram teacher, nationally recognized speaker, psychotherapist, and Episcopal priest. His books include the novel Chasing Francis and spiritual memoir Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me. Ian draws on an array of disciplines—from psychology to the arts, Christian spirituality to theology—to help people enter more deeply into conversation with God and the mystery of their own lives. He and his wife, Anne, live in Nashville, Tennessee.

Source: Goodreads

Suzanne Stabile

Suzanne Stabile is a highly sought after speaker and teacher, known for her engaging laugh, personal vulnerability and creative approach to Enneagram instruction. Suzanne received her B.S. in Social Sciences from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where she also completed additional graduate work in the Schools of Sociology and Theology. She has served as a high school professor, the first women’s basketball coach at SMU after Title IX, and as the founding Director of Shared Housing, a social service agency in Dallas.
When she is not on the road teaching and lecturing, Suzanne is at home in Dallas, Texas with her husband Rev. Joseph Stabile, a United Methodist pastor with whom she co-founded Life in the Trinity Ministry and the Micah Center. She is the mother of four children and grandmother of six.

Source: nacr.org

Book Trailer, Podcasts, & Other Cool Stuff

If there's anything that makes learning about ourselves fun, it's having a sense of humor and Ian Morgan Cron definitely has one! His wit and humility makes delving into self-awareness an entertaining and enlightening experience. Here is a great article that includes a short except from the book - just to give you a taste of what you're in for when you read this book.  🙂

It's Called the 'Enneagram': How This Thing Could Save Your Life

Neuroscientists have determined the brain’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is associated with decision making and cost-benefit assessments. If MRI brain scans had been performed on my friends and me one summer’s night when we were fifteen, they would have revealed a dark spot indicating a complete absence of activity in this region of our brains.

That particular Saturday night a group of us got the brilliant idea that streaking a golf banquet at an exclusive country club in my hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut, was a wise decision.

Other than certain arrest for indecent exposure, there was only one problem: Greenwich isn’t a big town, and it was likely someone we knew would recognize us.

And that would have been the end of it if it weren’t for my mother.“What did you and the guys do last night?” she asked the next morning. “Not much. We hung out at Mike’s, then crashed around midnight.”

I instantly had an uneasy feeling. “What did you and Dad do last night?” I said brightly. “We went as guests of the Dorfmanns to their club’s golf banquet,” she replied in a tone that was one part sugar, one part steel.... [Read More]

Self-awareness is an obligation I have in the world to truly love other people." - Ian Morgan Cron

 
Podcasts

For some interesting background into the history of the Enneagram and how the authors learned about it and ultimately began teaching it, take a listen to these two podcast episodes with guest host Luke Norsworthy, host of the popular podcast Newsworthy with Norsworthy.  The authors also host their own podcast on iTunes entitled Looking at Life Through the Lens of the Enneagram.

Discover Your Enneagram Type

Source: exploreyourtype.com

"What most of these tests conveniently forget to mention is that the accuracy of personality tests depends heavily on the test takers’ level of self-awareness, and the degree to which they're willing to answer truthfully. But wait— didn’t we take the test in part because we know we need to be more self-aware and honest with ourselves?
 
You get my point.
 
All to say, Enneagram tests can be helpful first steps so long as you don’t rely on them to always be 100% accurate. You alone are the only person who can determine your Enneagram number, and that involves more than taking a test. Take advantage of our resources to help you on your journey toward becoming your best, and truest self. See you on the road!"

Take the Assessment

I thought this assessment was fun and I was especially pleased that the results matched what I had ascertained from reading the book - I'm a five! I asked many of my friends to take it as well.  I will tell you though, in order to take the quiz you have to submit your email address. If this doesn't bother you, great! Have some fun with it. You can always unsubscribe. But if you do decide to unsubscribe, be sure you're thorough about it; there are several layers to the thing that require unsubscribing from.

Discussion Questions

 

1. What did you already know about this book’s subject before you read this book?

2.  Was your "type" quickly evident to you as you read the book?

3.  What is your Enneagram number?

4.  Did you try "typing" others as you read the book?

5.  Did anything surprise you?

6.  What insight or introspection did this book bring about for you?

7.  What questions do you still have?

8.  How did reading this book make you feel?

9.  Did the content prompt any great discussion with your friends any family?

10.  What else have you read on this topic?

11.  Did you recommend this book to anyone? Who was the first person?

 

Happy Reading!

The Winds of War & War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

The Winds of War & War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk

The Henry Family Series by Herman Wouk

2 Volumes

Source: Goodreads

A Masterpiece of Historical Fiction-The Great Novel of America's "Greatest Generation" Herman Wouk's sweeping epic of World War II, which begins with The Winds of War and continues in War and Remembrance, stands as the crowning achievement of one of America's most celebrated storytellers. Like no other books about the war, Wouk's spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events-and all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II-as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war's maelstrom.

The Winds of War

Volume #1

 
Pages: 896 / Audio: 45 hrs and 53 mins
Published February 5th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published November 15th 1971)
 
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War and Remembrance

Volume #2

 
Pages: 1056 / Audio:56 hrs and 8 mins
Published February 5th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published 1978)
 

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"The purpose of the author in both War and Remembrance and The Winds of War was to bring the past to vivid life through the experiences, perceptions, and passions of a few people caught in the war's maelstrom. This purpose was best served by scrupulous accuracy of locale and historical fact, as the backdrop against which the invented drama would play."  ~ Herman Wouk in Notes by the Author

Carol's Rating: ★★★★★

Fantastic! This is How History Should be Told

If you're looking for an impactful, compelling, unputdownable, entertaining family drama packed with historical facts leading up to and into WWII, this is the series! I learned more about WWII from this book than from any other. Most history books tend to be a snooze for me, regardless of how badly I want to learn the information. But not this one. Herman Wouk is a masterful storyteller. His telling of history works because he humanizes it. You experience it through his characters.

Members of the fictional Henry family are completely believable characters; some lovable, some admirable, some total morons, and all with flaws we can relate to. As the members of this military family are spread across the world, we learn about the struggles of those affected by the war be it due to location, heritage, or personal convictions. We learn about the political players and strategic political plays. We learn historical details from different characters with different perspectives. I especially enjoyed that some chapters were devoted to Victor Henry's translation of "World Empire Lost", a history book written by a fictional German General, Armin von Roon, and to which Victor Henry offers his own insights.

My review hardly does justice to this series. But believe me, you don't want to pass this one by.

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About the Author

Herman Wouk
Source: geni.com

Herman Wouk

Born in 1915 into a Jewish family that immigrated from Russia to New York City, Herman Wouk is the author of such classics as The Caine Mutiny (1951), Marjorie Morningstar (1955), Youngblood Hawke (1961), Don't Stop the Carnival (1965), The Winds of War (1971), War and Remembrance (1978), and Inside, Outside (1985). His later works include The Hope (1993), The Glory (1994), and Hole in Texas (2004).

Among Mr. Wouk's laurels are the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Caine Mutiny; the cover of Timemagazine for Marjorie Morningstar, the bestselling novel of that year; and the cultural phenomenon of The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, which he wrote over a thirteen-year period and which went on to become two of the most popular novels and TV miniseries events of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1998, he received the Guardian of Zion Award for support of Israel.

In 2008, Mr. Wouk was honored with the first Library of Congress Fiction Award, to be known as the Herman Wouk Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Writing of Fiction. His more recent works include The Lawgiver (2012). His autobiography, Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author, came out on his 100th birthday (January 2016). He lives in Palm Springs, California.

Source: bookbrowse.com

5 Reasons This is the Best History Book Ever. Period.

I have always wanted to understand the causes and events of WWII better, but most history books are painfully dry and quite honestly, far over my head. Not so with this book! The history is delivered in such a way that I was able to connect with it. I not only learned a ton but enjoyed it, too!
 

1. It clearly explains some of the causes behind WWII.

Of course, there are many factors but here's a big one.

 

The Treaty of Versailles

Quote from the book - Chapter 21 pg 16

The Versailles Treaty, said the Fuhrer, had simply been the latest of these foreign efforts to mutilate the German heartland. Because it had been historically unsound and unjust it was now dead."

The Treaty of Versailles (French: Trait de Versailles) was the most important of the peace treaties that brought World War I to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919 in Versailles, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Of the many provisions in the treaty, one of the most important and controversial required "Germany [to] accept the responsibility of Germany and her allies for causing all the loss and damage" during the war ....and forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers.

The result of these competing and sometimes conflicting goals among the victors was a compromise that left no one content...

Source: Wikipedia


Video Source: Produced by the Department of Defense [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

An American silent film. "Shows views of the Palace of Versailles and of the gardens; the arrival of Fr. For. Min. Pichon, Premier Clemenceau, Robert Lansing, Gen. Bliss, Herbert Hoover, Fr. Gen. Mounory, Gens. Allen and Pershing, Col. House, Arthur Balfour, Ignace Paderewski, Lloyd George, Baron Sonnino, Amb. Hugh Wallace, and Pres. and Mrs. Wilson; Clemenceau addressing the gathering; the U.S. and British delegates signing the treaty; and Lloyd George, Premier Orlando, Clemenceau, and Pres. Wilson posing and being greeted by huge crowds."

 

 
2. It explains how Hitler was able to gain the position of power that he did.

Herman Wouk explains this rather brilliantly, through the memoirs of his fictional character, German Brigadier General Armin Von Roon, who directly served the Fuehrer, attempted to assassinate him, and was eventually sentenced to 21 years in prison for war crimes.

How Hitler Usurped Control of the Army

Quote from the book - Chapter 17 pg 6

In 1938, he and his Nazi minions did not scruple to frame grave charges of sexual misconduct against revered generals of the top command. ... the Nazis managed to topple the professional leadership in a bold underhanded coup based on such accusations. Hitler with sudden stunning arrogance then assumed supreme command himself! And he exacted an oath of loyalty to himself throughout the Wehrmacht, from foot soldier to general. In this act he showed his knowledge of the German character, which is the soul of honor, and takes such an oath as binding to the death."

Our staff, muted and disorganized by the disgusting revelations and pseudo-revelations about our honored leaders, offered no coherent resistance to this usurpation. So...the German army...came to an end; and the drive wheel of the world's strongest military machine was grasped by an Austrian street agitator."

 

 

3. It explains the roots of Hitler's anti-Semitism; his hostility toward Jews. Besides his being nuts.

A conversation between Byron Henry (youngest son of Victor & Rhoda Henry) and Leslie Slote (with the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland) cleared this up for me.

In an attempt to better understand the German people, Byron reads Adolf Hitler's 1925 autobiography, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) that describes Hitler's anti-Semitic views and political ideology. I was completely impressed (and envious) of Byron's ability to sum things up so succinctly.

Hitler's Anti-Semitism and Political Ideology - Mein Kampf

Quote from the book - Chapter 14 pg 15

Well, that's why I've been reading this book, to try to figure them out. It's their leader's book. Now, it turn out this is the writing of an absolute nut. The Jews are secretly running the world, he says. That's his whole message. They're the capitalist, but they're the Bolsheviks too, and they're conspiring to destroy the German people, who by right should really be running the world. Well, he's going to become dictator, see, wipe out the Jews, crush France, and carve off half of Bolshevist Russia for more German living space. Have I got it right so far?"

A bit simplified, but yes -- pretty much."

 

 

4. The author has stated that telling the history of the holocaust through the frame of WWII was his main task in life. I think he nailed it!

The theme and aim of The Winds of War can be found in a few words by the French Jew, Julien Benda:

Peace, if it ever exists, will not be based on the fear of war, but on the love of peace. It will not be the abstaining from an act, but the coming of a state of mind. In this sense the most insignificant writer can serve peace, where the most powerful tribunals can do nothing."

 

 

5 . Lastly, the family drama portion of this story. Oh yeah 🙂 It includes the good, the bad, the ugly, the naughty, the honorable, the adventurous, the vain, the foolish, the busy-bodies, the morons - and I loved every moment of it.

With that in mind, I just have to share my impression of Natalie Jastrow's behavior in Volume 1. Thankfully, my opinion of her improved in Volume 2.

 

Intriguing Interviews & Videos

Herman Wouk Says He's a 'Happy Gent' At 100

NPR Author Interview
January 14, 2016 |by Lynn Neary
Heard on All Things Considered | Listen 4:52

Herman Wouk 100 Winds of War

Herman Wouk has written a lot of well loved novels like The Winds of WarWar and Remembrance and The Caine Mutiny, which won him a Pulitzer Prize. But his latest achievement is a rare one Wouk reached a milestone that few of us will ever see: the age of 100.

Many years ago, a well known biographer approached Wouk about writing his life story. He gave her access to his journals, but after reading them, "she said, your literary career would be wonderful material and I'd love to do it," Wouk recalls. "But there is a spiritual journey running through your volumes which only you can do." ... Read more or listen below

 

Herman Wouk on CBS

by Nate Bloom | 

CBS Sunday Morning aired on July 2 an interview with author Herman Wouk, 102. Wouk's last book, the memoir Sailor and the Fiddler, was published in 2015. Now he says he will write no more new books, but he does write in his diary every day.

Frankly, the CBS interview seemed like the last word from Wouk. Just two years ago, in photos that accompanied a Sailor and Fiddler review in the New York Times, he was wearing nice, casual clothes (including a Panama-type hat) and was sporting a long, well-groomed white beard. However, in the CBS interview, he is in a bathrobe, in a wheelchair and has an oxygen tube up his nose. His beard is a bit ragged and he wears a simple yarmulke on his bald head.


Still, his mind is still sharp. He quickly discusses his most famous work, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Caine Mutiny (based on his World War II naval service). And he talks about the aim of his central life work: to fix down in literature what happened in World War II and the Holocaust. Besides The Caine Mutiny (1951), Wouk also wrote Winds of War (1971) and War and Remembrance (1978). The latter graphically depicted the Holocaust and was the foundation for a 1988-89 TV miniseries of the same name.

TV Miniseries Promo Trailers

Discussion Questions

1. Do you feel you came to know the characters personally? Some characters more than others?

2. Has reading this book helped you feel closer to any of your friends or family members or helped you gain a better sense of what they may have lived through?

3. Do you believe the author gives an accurate account of history and human nature?

4. What has the author stated was the "main task of his life"? Do you feel he accomplished it?

5. Have you watched the television mini-series based on this book series?  Does it follow the general rule that the book is better than the movie or is it an exception?

6. What were the most enlightening things you learned from reading this series?

7. Who were your favorite characters?

8. Which characters do you feel experienced the most growth and development? Give examples.

9. What do you think is the overall take away from this series?

10. Were you in Natalie's shoes throughout this story, would you have made similar decisions in her circumstances?

 

 

 

Happy Reading!

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall

The Wolf Border

Sarah Hall

Pages: 432 / Audiobook: 13 hrs 14 mins
Published June 9th 2015 by Harper

The award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo returns with her first novel in nearly six years, a literary masterpiece about the reintroduction of wild wolves into the United Kingdom.

She hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic.
One leading, then many.
At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream.
They reign outside the mind.

Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Nez Perce, Idaho, as part of a wolf recovery project. She spends her days, and often nights, tracking the every move of a wild wolf pack—their size, their behavior, their howl patterns. It is a fairly solitary existence, but Rachel is content.

When she receives a call from the wealthy and mysterious Earl of Annerdale, who is interested in reintroducing the grey wolf to Northern England, Rachel agrees to a meeting. She is certain she wants no part of this project, but the Earl's estate is close to the village where Rachel grew up, and where her aging mother now lives in a care facility. It has been far too long since Rachel has gone home, and so she returns to face the ghosts of her past.

The Wolf Border is a breathtaking story about the frontier of the human spirit, from one of the most celebrated young writers working today.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★

Meatloaf & Potatoes not Steak and Lobster

And bland meatloaf and potatoes at that. This is not to say that the writing is not beautiful or that the story is not interesting, because it is. But it is in an everyday, matter of fact, plodding, monotone, deliberate way. I can see the brilliance of the symbolism between Racheal and the wolves; the need for freedom rather than captivity. It is clear that Rachael is a lone wolf, dedicated and loyal to her cause, yet the story did not allow me to connect with the characters at all. It was devoid of emotion. Any interaction with others is told briefly or completely skipped. Thomas Pendleton's actions near the end were a complete surprise to me and were the most exciting part of the story. I wanted so badly to love this book but the characters were kept at such a distance that it sadly prevented me from having anything beyond a flatline experience.

What Does It Mean?

The Wolf Border is full of vocabulary-building words. Here's just a few of them and their definitions.

  • encomium - [en-koh-mee-uh m] noun, plural encomiums, encomia; a formal expression of high praise; eulogy.
  • connubial - [kuh-noo-bee-uhl] adjective; of marriage or wedlock; matrimonial; conjugal: connubial love.
  • copse - [kops] noun; a thicket of small trees or bushes; a small wood.
  • tannoynoun; trademark a sound-amplifying apparatus used as a public-address system esp in a large building
  • pedant - [ped-nt] noun
    • 1. A person who makes an excessive or inappropriate display of learning
    • 2. A person who overemphasizes rules or minor details 
    • 3. A person who adheres rigidly to book knowledge without regard tocommon sense.
    • 4. Obsolete. a schoolmaster.

 

 

Have you learned some new words lately?  Share them at Wondrous Words Wednesday (hosted by Bermudaonion.net). “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

Happy Reading!

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The Last of the Bandit Riders…Revisited by Matt Warner

The Last of the Bandit Riders…Revisited by Matt Warner

Last of the Bandit Riders ... Revisited

Matt Warner

Pages: 186
Published November 1st 2000 by Big Moon Traders

One of the classic biographies of a western outlaw, LAST OF THE BANDIT RIDERS has been reprinted in a large trade edition, with dozens of photographs, maps, newspaper accounts and letters added to the original text. The book features a letter written by Butch Cassidy and sent to Matt Warner along with three photographs in 1937, providing a convincing argument that Butch returned from South America and lived out his life in the United States.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

Marvelous True Tales of the Old West

I loved this book. It is full of photographs, letters, maps, documents, and exciting recollections of nostalgic times in the Old West. It reads like a collection of tall tales but they are confirmed true events in history.

A man who has had an outlaw past is never safe, no matter how straight he goes afterwards. That's the price he pays. Something out of his past life may raise up against him and wreck his life any time."

Willard Erastus Christiansen, alias Matt Warner, was born on April 12, 1864 in Price, Utah and gives us his personal account of living the outlaw life when horses were the major mode of transportation. He tells of:

  • his adventurous exploits from cattle rustling to robbing banks to train holdups and dynamiting safes with outlaw friends that include Butch Cassidy and Tom McCarty
  • near death brushes with the law
  • marriage and children and attempts to leave the outlaw life and how past wrong deeds follow a man, making it nearly impossible to lead an honest life
  • navigating a rapidly changing world that includes railroads and telegraphs; where money and lawyers can save your skin better than a jailbreak can
  • dealings with corrupt lawmen and honest lawmen and what it takes to reform a bandit
  • touching relationships inside and outside the law
  • what became of his outlaw friends and most particularly, that Butch Cassidy did not die in South America but returned to the USA and lived a long life
  • of keeping a vow to live an honest life and doing so for nearly 40 years as "one of the best Deputy Sheriffs, police officers, and Justices of the Peace Carbon County has ever known."

This is a rousing, extraordinary look at life on the wrong side of the law during the late 1800's that stretches from Utah to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. It is a marvelous piece of our regional history.

Historic Photos, Maps, and More

mattwarner-16

Willard Erastus Christianson, alias Matt Warner, age 16, 1880

 

butch

Robert LeRoy Parker, alias Butch Cassidy,  Parker was born 15 April 1866 in Beaver, Utah, and was raised by Mormon pioneer parents on a ranch near Circleville, Utah

 

mattwarnerprisoner

While they were charged with first-degree murder, Matt Warner and Bill Wall were convicted only of manslaughter

robbersroost

Robbers Roost was a popular outlaw hideout for over 30 years

 

vernal

Main Street of Vernal, Utah, c. 1900, several years after Matt Warner and Bill Wall were threatened with vigilante justice. To protect the prisoners, they were removed from jail and taken overland to Carter, where they boarded the westbound train. They were taken to Ogden, where they were tried for the killings.

mattwarnerstraight

From January 21, 1900, until his death on December 21, 1938, Matt Warner stayed within the bounds of the law.

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Discussion Questions

  1. What did you learn from reading this book?
  2. Was there anything that you found surprising?
  3. Was there something in the book that you related to?
  4. Were there specific passages that struck you as significant—or interesting, profound, amusing, illuminating, disturbing, sad…? What was memorable?
  5. What do you think Matt Warner's overall message was throughout this book?
  6. Do you believe that Butch Cassidy returned to the US and lived a long life?
  7. What happened to Matt Warner's first daughter, Hayda?
  8. Have you visited any of the areas along the Outlaw Trail?
  9. Would you recommend this book to others? Why?
Happy Reading!

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Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

Big Stone Gap

Adriana Trigiani

Pages: 320 / Audio book: 11 hrs 25 min
Ballantine Books; 1st Thus. edition (April 3, 2001)

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town's self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a "mountain girl's body and a flat behind." She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she's not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave's fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime-a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★

The first time I heard of this book was when I saw the movie trailer. I love it when movies are made from books; it's fun to compare the differences and discover what I like or don't in each.  I found it to be a light, fun story and I enjoyed the quirky characters and small town setting. The story was a bit sappy and unrealistic at times and I tired of how wishy-washy the main character was but that is part of what makes her so lovable. As for the movie, well, this is one of the few times that I enjoyed the movie more than I did the book. If you don't take things too seriously, the characters and story will make you laugh and warm your heart. 

 

Official Movie Trailer

Released in 2015, Big Stone Gap is a romantic comedy with an All-Star cast including Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, and Whoopie Goldberg.

 

 

Happy Reading!

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The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Heretic's Daughter

Kathleen Kent

Pages: 332 pages / Audio book: 10 hrs 6 min
Published September 3, 2008 by Little, Brown and Company

Martha Carrier was one of the first women to be accused, tried and hanged as a witch in Salem, Massachusetts. Like her mother, young Sarah Carrier is bright and willful, openly challenging the small, brutal world in which they live. Often at odds with one another, mother and daughter are forced to stand together against the escalating hysteria of the trials and the superstitious tyranny that led to the torture and imprisonment of more than 200 people accused of witchcraft. This is the story of Martha's courageous defiance and ultimate death, as told by the daughter who survived.

Kathleen Kent is a tenth generation descendant of Martha Carrier. She paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★

 
An Artful, Thought-Provoking Read

If you're looking for an alternative to WWII historical fiction and something that will stay with you for weeks after you've finished reading it, this might be the book for you. It will definitely make you thankful for medicine and life in the 21st century!

Kathleen Kent writes beautifully. The language is near poetic at times as it paints a vivid picture of 17th century life in Salem, Massachusetts. Mare Winingham lends a perfect voice to the audiobook and truly captures the character's emotions and personalities. Daily life itself is a struggle to provide food and shelter for the family let alone surviving diseases and even worse, being shunned by the community and imprisoned for false accusations of witchcraft. Much of the book is about the family members and their relationships. A stern mother, a father that rarely speaks, a brother that is mentally handicapped, a rift in the family between the parents and the aunt and uncle - the people are hard and their lives seem even harder. That is what stands out to me; that life was very difficult and there did not seem to be very much joy for any of them. They endured many hardships and were steadfastly devoted to their loved ones.

The story moves at a rather slow, determined pace, yet it held my attention from the start to the end. I found it astounding that gossip and slander was adequate proof for the law to imprison and sentence the accused to their deaths. I found it astounding that people could live with themselves, all the while knowing that they were directly responsible for inflicting such grief and devastation to others. I was astonished by the superstitious hysteria that swept through the region and the hypocrisy of it all when the accusers pleadingly turned to accused to ask for miracles. Yet in all my astonishment I am reminded, now well over 3 centuries later, with all our culture and education, that in many ways people have not changed that much. Though events and circumstances change, human nature remains the same.

Happy Reading!

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The Dig by Michael Siemsen

The Dig by Michael Siemsen

The Dig

Matt Turner Series Book 1

Michael Siemsen

Pages: 378 pages / Audio book: 10 hrs 31 min
Published September 1st 2015 by Fantome Publishing

A mysterious woven metal artifact is found at a paleontological dig in Africa. Mystified experts, confounded by the impossible timeline they get from traditional dating methods, call upon a stubborn young man with a unique talent. Matthew Turner's gift is also his curse: Whenever he touches an object, his awareness is flooded with the thoughts and feelings of those who touched it before him. It's a talent that many covet, some fear, and almost no one understands.

Despite being exploited as a child and tormented by the unpleasant experiences imprinted on him from the various items he has "read," Matthew agrees to travel from New York to the forests of Kenya. There, threatened by unknown enemies and helped by a beautiful but prickly ally who begins to understand his strange ability, he journeys back in geological time to make a discovery so shocking that it forces us to rewrite all human history.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★

The premise of this story is great; discovering ancient artifacts, unveiling ancient cultures, psychic powers, Africa, intrigue,  mystery, and excitement.  The story starts out well but to my disappointment, it and the characters turned out to be - well, it all turned out to be dreadfully flat. I had such high hopes for this book but the lack of depth and development left me rather unsatisfied.  

Happy Reading!

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Vulcan’s Forge by Jack Du Brul

Vulcan’s Forge by Jack Du Brul

Vulcan's Forge

Jack Du Brul

Pages: 372
Published December 6th 2005 by NAL (first published January 1st 1998)

It begins deep beneath the Pacific Ocean, where a nuclear bomb strikes at the fiery hot heart of the earth. Churning, spewing boiling lava, a volcano rises with unnatural speed from the ocean floor -- the source of a new mineral that promises clean, limitless nuclear power.
It continues in hot spots around the globe: Hawaii, where a secessionist movement is about to turn violent and the American army may be asked to fire on U.S. citizens; Washington, D.C., where the subway system becomes the site of a running gun battle; the Far East, where disrupted diplomatic negotiations jeopardize world peace; a rogue Russian submarine, circling the infant volcano.

Caught in the middle is Philip Mercer, a geologist and a one-time commando with shady contacts in all the right (or is it wrong?) places. When Mercer learns that the daughter of an old friend is being kept under armed guard in a local hospital, he vows to rescue her, not knowing that this is the first step in unraveling the fantastic secrets of Vulcan's Forge.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★

 

Happy Reading!

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Carol’s Progress

Carol’s Progress

Carol's Book Nerd Challenge Progress

50 Books ~ 50 Categories ~ by December 17, 2016

IFPL tote

Because I seriously want to earn this nerdy green bag!

 

Challenge Categories (downloadable pdf)

 

1

Book Club in a Box

jonasJonasson

 5

A Biography

 9

A Book with a Continuing Character

13

A Book with Food in the Title

17

A YA/Adult Fiction Crossover

21

A Book Set in the Country of One of My Ancestors

2

Book About Best Friends

 6

By or About an Explorer

10

A Book about a Hobby

 
 
 
14

A Book Published Before 1850

18

A Book Set in this Region

22

About Someone with the Same Job as Me

3

Retelling of a Classic

7

With an Animal in the Title

11

A Book with a Mode of Transportation in the Title

15

A National Book Award Winner

19

A Sea Story

23

A Lion, Witch, or Wardrobe

4

A Book with a Blue Cover

 8

A Book of Historical Fiction

12

Written by Someone Over the Age of 65

16

A Book by an Author from Asia

20

A Non-Fiction Book

24

A Book About a Sport

Take a breath - we're halfway there....

25

A Time-Travel Book

29

A Book with a Heroine

33

A Guilty Pleasure

37

Recommended by a Librarian

bigstonegap41

Classic Children's Story

 45

Less Than 200 Pages

 49

A Novel in Verse

 
 26

A Book Set in Summer

30

A Science Fiction Book

34

A Book Your Dad Loves

38

Written by a Celebrity

 42

Written by an Idaho Author

46

Read it Again

50

A Book on How To Do Something

 

 27

A Book of Short Stories

 31

An Audio Book

 35

A Book Set in Africa

 39

A Banned Book

The Handmaid's Tale Book Cover

 43

A Book Set During A War

 47

Set During a Holiday

 

Challenge Met! That nerdy green bag is all mine!
 
28

An Alternative History Book

32

A Book Published This Year

36

An Event in American History

40

A Book I Own but Haven't Read

44

A Book Rory Gilmore Read

fahrenheit451

48

Non-Fiction with Pictures

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The Marvels

Brian Selznick

Pages: 672
Published September 15th 2015 by Scholastic Press

From the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck comes a breathtaking new voyage. In this magnificent reimagining of the form he originated, two stand-alone stories--the first in nearly 400 pages of continuous pictures, the second in prose--create a beguiling narrative puzzle.

The journey begins at sea in 1766, with a boy named Billy Marvel. After surviving a shipwreck, he finds work in a London theatre. There, his family flourishes for generations as brilliant actors until 1900, when young Leontes Marvel is banished from the stage. Nearly a century later, runaway Joseph Jervis seeks refuge with an uncle in London. Albert Nightingale's strange, beautiful house, with its mysterious portraits and ghostly presences, captivates Joseph and leads him on a search for clues about the house, his family, and the past.

A gripping adventure and an intriguing mystery The Marvels is a loving tribute to the power of story.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★

A Magical Jewel of a Book

The Marvels is an absolutely beautiful book all the way around. Its hefty 672 gilded pages felt like an indulgence the moment I picked it up. Then I opened it and the magic began. A majority of the book has no written words but instead, it has intricate sketches readily portraying emotions, plot, and scene of a story that spans 150 years and 5 generations of the Marvel family.

The sketches were my favorite part of the book. Through them you are transported to another time. I was completely captivated by the sketches and the emotions on the faces of the characters. It was a powerful, sentimental experience. So much so that now, even just seeing the book or thinking of it instantaneously evokes the experience again.

I admit the prose portion of the book was not as powerful as the sketches yet it was still intriguing and conjured detailed mental images. The story is easy to follow and the mystery surrounding the Uncle and his home will keep you wanting to know more. Plus, it unveils a surprising, unpredictable twist! True, it is a children’s book but that doesn’t mean it’s any less interesting. In fact, it made it much easier to read and engage with.

The Marvels is a magical jewel of a book for all ages. A wonderful personal read, it would also be a fantastic book to read with the family - leaving all members eager for more and treasuring the moments.

A Glimpse of What's Inside

Happy Reading!

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Alexis Carew Vol 3 -The Little Ships by J.A. Sutherland

Alexis Carew Vol 3 -The Little Ships by J.A. Sutherland

The Little Ships

Alexis Carew Book 3

J.A. Sutherland

Pages: 325 / Audio: 11 hrs 44 min
Published November 8th 2015 by Createspace

Newly commissioned lieutenant, Alexis Carew is appointed into HMS Shrewsbury, a 74-gun ship of the line in New London's space navy. She expects Shrewsbury will be sent into action in the war against Hanover, but instead she finds that she and her new ship are pivotal in a Foreign Office plot to bring the star systems of the French Republic into the war and end the threat of Hanover forever.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★

 

Happy Reading!

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Alexis Carew Vol 2 -Mutineer by J.A. Sutherland

Alexis Carew Vol 2 -Mutineer by J.A. Sutherland

Mutineer

Alexis Carew Book 2

J.A. Sutherland

Pages: 280 / Audio: 9 hrs 56 min
Published February 14th 2015 by Createspace

Just as Midshipman Alexis Carew thinks she’s found a place in the Royal Navy, she’s transferred aboard H.M.S. Hermione. Her captain is a Tartar, free with the cat o' nine tails and who thinks girls have no place aboard ship. The other midshipmen in the berth are no better. The only advice she’s offered is to keep her head down and mouth shut – things Alexis is rarely able to do.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★

 

Happy Reading!

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Alexis Carew Vol 1 – Into The Dark by J.A. Sutherland

Alexis Carew Vol 1 – Into The Dark by J.A. Sutherland

Into The Dark

Alexis Carew Book 1

J.A. Sutherland

Pages: 250 / Audio: 9 hrs 25 min
Published November 1st 2014 by Createspace

At fifteen, Alexis Carew has to face an age old problem - she's a girl, and only a boy can inherit the family's vast holdings. Her options are few. She must marry and watch a stranger run the lands, or become a penniless tenant and see the lands she so dearly loves sold off. Yet there may be another option, one that involves becoming a midshipman on a shorthanded spaceship with no other women.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

So you don’t care much for Science Fiction, eh?
This series will change your mind.

Yes, that’s me. I don’t care much for Science Fiction. The robots, the metal, the darkness, the emptiness — it all leaves me cold. Until now. A friend so persistently encouraged me to read this book that I was curious to discover what his enthusiasm for it was all about.

Picture this:

Ships, captains, shipmates, sailing, naval adventures, pirates, enemies, New London, loved ones, action, drama, suspense, and a heroine - ALL SET IN DEEP SPACE.

It’s brilliant, it’s unique, it’s entertaining, and will have you rooting for Alexis in no time as she faces enemies from without and surprisingly from within.

Sutherland’s writing is smooth and adeptly blends the nostalgia of sailing ships with an imaginary yet ocasionally familiar universe. The story grabs you from the start and holds you to the end. Elizabeth Klett’s audio book narration is nothing short of spectacular and brings warmth and personality to the characters in such a way that you feel you know them personally. If you enjoy action, drama, suspense, and characters you can connect with, you’ll want to read this series.

 

Happy Reading!

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The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons by John Wesley Powell

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons by John Wesley Powell

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons

John Wesley Powell

Pages: 432 / Audio book: 8 hrs 39 mins
Published May 27th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1895)

The great unknown of the Southwest is conquered by a one-armed man and his crew of adventurers, placing the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon on the map of the American continent. It is a journey no human being had ever made before. Dangerous rapids, narrow canyon walls offering no escape, terrifying river waterfalls, capsized boats, near drowning, lost equipment and disillusioned men are dramatically described by John Wesley Powell, leader of this adventurous party. Powell powerfully describes the spectacular beauty of the landscape, the fascinating lives of the indigenous people and the courageous efforts of the expedition party.

One of the great works of American exploration literature, this account of a scientific expedition forced to survive famine, attacks, mutiny, and some of the most dangerous rapids known to man remains as fresh and exciting today as it was in 1874.

The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons, recently ranked number four on Adventure magazine’s list of top 100 classics, is legendary pioneer John Wesley Powell’s first-person account of his crew’s unprecedented odyssey along the Green and Colorado Rivers and through the Grand Canyon. A bold foray into the heart of the American West’s final frontier, the expedition was achieved without benefit of modern river-running equipment, supplies, or a firm sense of the region’s perilous topography and the attitudes of the native inhabitants towards whites.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

I listened to the audio book narrated by Andre Stojka. To be honest, I expected it to be a reading of dull, dry scientific notes pulled from John Wesley Powell's log book. But instead I found it to be an absolutely enthralling experience. This may have been a result of the wonderful narrator whose voice was jovial and pleasant and as full of enthusiasm as if the words were his own. And the words! John Wesley Powell paints spectacular word pictures of the landscape, the geology, the dangers, the hardships and the joys that he and his men encountered on the expedition as well descriptions of Indian cultures, social dynamics of the clans, and re-tellings of a few Indian fables. At times I felt as though I could be sitting 'round the fire with him, completely captivated as he recounted the colorful tales of his grand adventures (and he with only one arm!).  Highly, highly recommended.

 

Happy Reading!

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The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

Kelly O'Connor McNees

Pages: 343 / audiobook: 8 hrs 49 mins
Published April 1st 2010 by Penguin Adult HC/TR

In the bestselling tradition of Loving Frank and March comes a novel for anyone who loves Little Women.

A richly imagined, remarkably written story of the woman who created Little Women- and how love changed her in ways she never expected.

Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees returns to the summer of 1855, when vivacious Louisa May Alcott is twenty-two and bursting to free herself from family and societal constraints and do what she loves most. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, she meets Joseph Singer, and as she opens her heart, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay for the rest of her life.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★

I enjoyed learning about Louisa May Alcott's family and friends and the place she grew up. The atmosphere and story felt very much like Little Women and while McNees mixes fact with fiction, this creative story is interesting and plausible. It moves at a nice pace and Louisa's personality rings true to a spirited woman determined to live as she chooses.

 

Happy Reading!

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Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Mariana

Susanna Kearsley

Pages: 352 / Audiobook: 11 hrs 20 min
Published August 1st 1995 by Bantam Books (Mm) (first published 1994)

A haunting, paranormal romance from a Romantic Times Readers Choice and RITA Award-winning author, a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author
When Julia Beckett moves into the beautiful old farmhouse, she soon discovers she's not alone there.

"Tread lightly, she is near."

She encounters haunting remnants of a beautiful young woman who lived and loved there centuries ago. She finds herself transported into 17th-century England, and into the world of Mariana.

Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past... until she realizes Mariana's life is eclipsing her own. She must lay the past to rest or risk losing the chance for happiness in her own time.

A modern gothic historical fiction with elements of time travel, reincarnation, and romance from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susanna Kearsley.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★

"You can't cheat fate, Julia. If you don't go looking for the lessons of the past, then the past will come looking for you."

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. Though a bit slow at the start, it gradually builds into a gripping, suspenseful story set in two time periods, current-day and the mid-1700's. Yes, it's time travel, but it's so much more than that.I don't want to spoil the experience for you so I'll just say this: It's two intricately woven stories with intriguing characters and events set in a charming English village. The beautiful language, likable (and some unlikable) characters, surprising twists, and shrewd ending will leave you feeling well rewarded. I'll definitely be reading more books by this author.

Happy Reading!

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Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

Last Days of Summer

Steve Kluger

368 pages
Published May 24th 2005 by Avon (first published 1998)

The hilarious and heart–warming story about a down–and–out kid who finds inspiration in his favourite baseball hero.

In Brooklyn, 1940, a wisecracking, baseball loving twelve–year–old boy, Joey Margolis, is in desperate need of a hero. His rich father has recently divorced his mother, leaving her all but penniless, and she is forced to move herself and her son to an Italian dominated part of Brooklyn, where he's the only Jew in the area. Constant abuse from other boys in the neighbourhood prompts Joey to send letters to Charlie Banks, an up–and–coming star with the New York Giants, asking for a home run so he can tell everyone that it was for him. Joey uses every trick in the book to get what he wants and the friendship that comes out of their simple correspondence will change them both forever.

This improbable friendship is woven together through letters, postcards, notes, telegrams, newspaper clippings, report cards and ticket stubs, and includes a colourful cast of supporting characters.

o The joys and sorrows growing up will always have an audience and this novel sheds light on all the complexity of those difficult times, with humour and joy.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★

Even though most of the characters seemed to have the same witty humor -- cheeky and irreverent but usually with good intentions -- I found this to be an amusing, nostalgic, rollicking fun story that had me laughing out and loud and a couple of times it even brought tears to my eyes. I loved the informal, unconventional format. Highly recommended if you're looking for a fast, entertaining read. 

Happy Reading!

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman

Pages: 178 / Audiobook: 5 hrs 48 min
Published June 18th 2013 by William Morrow Books

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★★★

This is a haunting, mysterious, magical story. It's short. It's creative. It packs a punch. The words flow quickly and hold your attention to the end. I enjoyed it so much that I'm hoping the author will create a sequel.

The beautiful, fluid writing is succinct yet clearly conveys the intent of the author to scare the wits out you while at the same time reassuring you with his gentle voice that the powerful, capable women will keep the boy safe, and all will be well. I loved this story and as for the audiobook, Neil Gaiman delivers a fantastic performance!

Happy Reading!

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