The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

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Spanning nearly a century this novel follows the lives of the Esposito family who live on Castellamare, an island off the coast of Italy. At the center of the island’s life is a bar covered with Bougainvillea flowers called the House at the Edge of Night.

This story takes you into the lives of an eccentric group of villagers that are in many ways isolated from the outside world yet still affected by what happens through wars, economic downfalls, threat of fascism  and illnesses. Not to mention the intertwined relationships if the residents that fuel the fires of love and hate across generations.

This story meanders like one would suspect life on Castellamare would do. Yet the slow pace keeps you engaged as the people of this island come alive in the twists and turns of the story. I loved everything about this book from the first to the last page. The story revolves around Amedeo, an orphan, a foundling. He comes to the island in 1914 when he is 40 years old to take the position of island Doctor. The plot pivots is Amedeo’s love of stories – stories of saints and miracles, of fantasy and curses and real stories of the past. Amadeo carries a journal where he records all the stories that he hears through his life. This collection becomes an heirloom for his grand children.

Catherine Banner has written an epic story that has the potential to be a classic.

 

 

 

I’m Thinking about Ending Things by Iain Ried

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There are three types of people in the world. Those who have read the book and love it, those who have read this book and hate it or those who have not yet read this book.

I loved it. When you read it you are certain that you have fallen in to an episode of the twilight zone. Nothing is as it appears. The story revolves around a girl on a day trip with her boyfriend to meet his parents. She is thinking about ending things. It is the things that you have no idea what she means. Is she breaking up with him? Is she considering suicide? It is a mystery. Even at the end of the book it may still be a mystery if you don’t pick up on all the subtle hints. I actually read this book through twice be fore I had the ah ha moment and figured out most of the plot. Though very intense, it is an easy read. I read it through the two times over one weekend.

A word of caution! Danger Will Robinson!

There are web sites that discuss the book and the theories around it. Please read the book first before you read any of the theories. It will be a better ride to just go in to the book blind. Please do not cheat yourself of the experience of this roller coaster adventure of this book. Reading fan sites before reading a book is right up there with my aversion of seeing a movie before reading the book.

DON’T DO IT!

I am afraid that if I keep talking I will spoil this for you so I will just leave you with this thought.  This book is deeply haunting and irresistibly unnerving. It will stay with you long after the last page is turned and you put the book down.

 

 

 

I admit it…

I do not like to admit I was wrong, but I was very wrong. I have a certain taste in books. I know I can hear some of you say with much skepticism, “Sure you do.” While it is true I read in and out of several genres, I do have a preference when it comes to story lines. You won’t see me read many westerns or astronomical sci-fi novels. I steer away from the Harlequin type romances and the super sweet chick lit. I also hate to admit that I do, sometimes, judge books by their covers, though I am getting better at not doing that. Call me a recovering cover snob, if you will.

I had to rethink my methodology for choosing books when I came across Debbie Macomber’s The Inn at Rose Harbor. I had totally not read anything by Macomber because of the sweet covers and descriptions. I thought that this sugar sweet fiction would be uninteresting to me and not be worth my time. I was under the misconception that all her novels should be in the chic lit category. I was emphatically wrong.
When I had finished reading the story of the young widow who left her home and made a new life for herself as proprietor of a bed and breakfast I was left with the need to read the entire series. I fell in love with the people of the scenic Pacific Northwest town called Cedar Cove. I had to find out what happened to Jo Marie. Did she ever get all the answers about her Army husband’s death? Did her guests find the healing that is offered at Rose Harbor?

Much to my astonishment Macomber’s books were nothing like what I had envisioned. They are riddled with full rich scenery, deeply profound situations and intricate characters. It is certainly not chick lit. Macomber weaves amazing stories with people you will not easily forget in this series. It makes me wonder if I was wrong about her books entirely. Just maybe I have been wrong about other authors too! Oh my! What a thought!
I will read more of her books and I will venture off in to other uncharted territory of reading. I will let you know if I continue to shock myself by enjoying books that I never before even considered. Maybe you should try it. Risk being wrong about what you like to read. Who knows, maybe you will surprise yourself too.

There are eight titles in the series, but three are what I call in-betweens that really don’t add much to the story. Here are the titles in the Rose Harbor series and my library has them all! I bet your library has them as well.

0.5. When First They Met (2012)
1. The Inn at Rose Harbor (2012)
2. Rose Harbor in Bloom (2013)
3. Love Letters (2014)
3.5. Falling for Her (2015)
4. Silver Linings (2015)
5. Sweet Tomorrows (2016)

 

 

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue is fascinating. Disturbing, but fascinating. It is about a college aged girl who was kidnapped and stowed away in a modified sound proof shed. While kept there for seven years she was subjected to rape by her captor and gets pregnant. The story is narrated by that child. Jack is five years old and the only world he knows is Room. Jack’s Ma has created a life for him. She realizes that she needs to do all she can to get them both out of Room and free. Through grit, resourcefulness, and an abundance motherly love, she figures out a way to escape with Jack’s bravery and help.

I cried throughout this book. Not little dainty sniffles and corner of my eye dabs but sobs and a water fall of tears pouring down my face as I read it. The entire story comes out of Jack’s mind and heart.  He learns that the planets on TV are real and that there is a whole other life in outer space.

As for Ma, she is still a gentle young girl whose tough determination crumbles once she is out of Room. While Jack is learning how to live and love in a new world, Ma is trying to emotionally and mentally escape it.

As if reading this heart wrenching book wasn’t enough torture, I then watched the movie. Though not as emotionally moving as reading the book it was still an amazing glimpse in to a mother and son’s survival.

Please read the book first. The movie leaves out so much of what makes Jack such a lovable character.

Be forewarned. Grab a box of tissues. Don’t read Room in public or you will risk embarrassing yourself.

Love You More by Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner does it again with another installment of the D. D. Warner series. This book is #5 in the Detective D. D Warren series and #1 in the Tessa Leoni series.  In this book Tessa, the protagonist, a Massachusetts State Police officer and mother of a young girl has murdered her husband in their sunny kitchen after a brutal beating.  Her daughter, Sophie is missing from their home. Tessa is arrested after evidence proves she is lying about the details. It is up to Tessa to find her little girl and prove her innocence. Plot twists and information is slowly fed to the reader, as Tessa races to find her daughter. She is amazingly resourceful as she stays one step ahead of Detective Warren.

Gardner’s fast paced writing style and captivating plots make you want to read her stories in one sitting. I however listen them on CD on my hour commute to and from work. I find myself wanting to bring the disk in to my home and office so I can listen to it there too. (I don’t but I want to!)  The reader for D.D. is superb. Kirsten Potter has a direct, bold voice that is the personification of D.D. Warren. Now when I read other D. D. Warren books, I hear her voice in my head.

The author has a list of all the D. D. Warren and Tessa Leoni books in order on her web site, just in case you are interested in following me down the rabbit hole.

 

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

I absolutely adored this book. It is layers of romance with a side of yummy topped with a sprinkle of mystery. Billie Breslin leaves her family, moves to New York for a career as an assistant to the editor of Delicious a long standing well loved food magazine. She is swept up in the Greenwich Village food community. A deli proprietor and his family accept her as one of their own. When the magazine ceases publication she is retained to answer complaint letters by maintaining the magazine’s satisfaction guarantee. That is every recipe a success or you get a refund. Being in the building alone, after the other staff members have left, she stumbles on a hidden library and discovers a series of letters between a previous Chef contributor employed by the magazine and a 12-year-old girl during World War II. Normally I’m not fond of books in which part of the story takes place in letters, but  I found the letters from Lulu to James Beard to be charming. Billie falls in love with the story of the girl and she falls in love with an architect historian who is hired to appraise the magazine’s office building that is actually an old federal mansion.

There is so much more to this story that I feel I can’t share for fear of ruining it for you, dear reader. Please do not listen to the negative reviews of this book and read it. I almost missed this sweet story because of reviews I read. I am thankful I took a chance and experienced the deliciousness of it all for myself.

 

 

Example of Answered Prayer

Anyone who knows me knows I am a pray-er. I pray for everything. Big things like the health of my friends and  little things like God please let me make it home safe. I pray all the time. When I am asked how do I know God hears? or How do I know he answers? Most of the time I say, I just do. I try to remember a specific example and sometimes it is hard to find one that I think is significant enough to make a point. Now I have an example that is clear and obvious. I know some will say it is just coincidence but I know that it is not. It is a direct answer to my prayer.

Two months ago I prayed for God to show me what path I should take in my life. There was a position at my library that would be better money but not what I really wanted to do. Like a lot of people, I have student loan debt that I really need help paying. I am not destitute but could use the extra money. I prayed about it and not receiving a clear answer from God, I applied anyway.

One day shortly after I applied a co-worker and friend asks me if I saw a posting for a job at a different library. I said no but I would look at it later. I didn’t think about it the rest of the day as I was busy working. It had just posted that day, so I thought I had plenty of time. When I got home my step dad had the newspaper with the same posting in it. He made my mom call me to tell me about it. OK, God, I am listening. I looked at the posting, prayed  and decided to apply. Still unsure.

A few days after the posting closed, the other library called me for an interview. I felt that I did alright but not my best interview. I found out that someone with significantly more experience applied and possibly interviewed too. That’s it, I stand no chance for the job, I thought. I told God I can’t worry about this… here, you take it and I went about my day as always. The position at my library came up for interview and I still didn’t feel right about it. I agreed to interview for it anyway.

That very day I was called by the other library director and offered the job. I felt sudden and immediate peace. I knew without a doubt that call was an answer to my prayer. It was sudden and unlikely, but it happened. I was offered the job and I took it on the spot.

That is how God works. He lets you exercise your free will while saying, I have this, listen to me, trust me. He is clear with answers. When the answers come your soul knows it is from God. Sometimes the answer is no and sometimes the answer is not what you expected. Either way, you know.

I started my new job this week. I am happier than I have been in my career in a long time and the frosting on the cupcake, the salary is more than my old job and that other one that I applied for. My new coworkers are like a big family and in that family I have discovered other prayer warriors too.  Yes I miss my coworkers from my old job, but I am still in contact with my friends. I still pray for them. My life is in God’s hands. I trusted Him and I have been fully blessed. I see His plan for me at my new library. There is potential for touching lives in big ways as a serve my new community.

Prayer works. Try it. I dare you.