Book 57: Peaches for Father Francis (Chocolat #3) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - Peaches for Father FrancisNow THIS is how you end a trilogy. I assume this is the end, but I guess it could start-up again. Peaches for Father Francis picks up four years after the events of The Girl With No Shadow and eight years after the original Chocolat. I’m still so happy that I found out this was a series and that I took the time to read the second and third novels, even if it did put me behind on a few other books!

What I enjoyed most about this novel is that the magic once again took a back seat to a larger social conflict. In the middle novel, The Girl With No Shadow, magic took the front seat and that was great because middle novels are always sort of meh, but in having the magic return to less of a focal point the story, I felt, evolved much more naturally.

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Book 56: The Girl With No Shadow (Chocolat #2) – Joanne Harris

Harris, Joanne - The Girl with No ShadowAs I said in my response to Chocolat, I had no idea there were sequels and I’m so glad I decided to read them. I haven’t started the third, Peaches for Father Frances, but I’m excited to start it soon.

Harris takes the story of Vianne and Anouk we followed in Chocolat and expands the age-old battle between good and evil. Instead of the church, this time Vianne and Anouk, now Yanne and Annie, are battling evil itself and magic takes an even more prominent role in this story than in the first. And I was glad she did! She writes about magic in such a way as to make it beautifully common.

“It took me a little longer to recognize these things as magic. Like all children reared on stories, I’d expected fireworks: magic wands and broomstick rides. The real magic of my mother’s books seemed so dull, so fustily academic, with its silly incantations and its pompous old men, that it hardly counted as magic at all.” (67)

Beautifully common, might sound like an oxymoron or an insult, but it’s not. Harris’ writes about it so matter of fact and sets it up that way in this novel, common usage versus evil usage, that you can’t help but appreciate the beauty of the magic she chooses to write about.

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Book 45: The Art Restorer (Enrique Alonso #2) – Julián Sánchez

Sánchez, Julián - The Art RestorerI’m always happy when I discover an author new to me. As I said on Monday in my response to The Antiquarian, I stumbled across Sánchez’s work on NetGalley and requested a copy of this novel. I received a copy of The Art Restorer from the publisher and received no compensation for my honest opinion.

Whereas in the first novel of this series, The Antiquarian, Sánchez completely sold me on his writing and story telling, this novel fell a little short. The story was still fascinating and excellently written, how the story was told bordered a bit too much on the Hollywood/Dan Brown scale. However, I can’t decide if this is a part of Sánchez’s writing style for the story within this story, or if it is something that happened in his own processes.

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Book 40: The Devil and Miss Prym (And On the Seventh Day #3) – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - The Devil and Miss Prym (And on the Seventh Day #3)Of the three books in the On the Seventh Day trilogy, this was my favorite. It has been almost two years since I read By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and Veronika Decides to Die was too institutional for me, but this novel was great and approaches the simplicity and beauty of The Alchemist, but kept the idea of an external catalyst which Veronika Decides to Die had.

As with the last novel it’s difficult to go into this one without revealing too many details. A stranger visits the unchanging village of Viscos and creates an ethical/spiritual dilemma that the entire village must agree or disagree to participate in, all or nothing. As with Coelho’s other novels this novel focuses on very few people, but they are ordinary. He said it best in the author’s introduction, Click here to continue reading.

Book 21: Who Murdered Chaucer? – Jones, Yeager, Dolan, Fletcher & Dor

Jones, Terry - Who Murdered ChaucerI know I say this often, but what a fascinating read, but what’s most exciting is that this is a work of nonfiction. I don’t generally read a lot of nonfiction, but after reading about this on a site ages ago (at least a year ago) and having just finished A Burnable Book, I knew this was a great time to read it. Needless to say I absolutely plan on finding a full biography of Chaucer.

Who Murdered Chaucer? focuses on the last 20(ish) years of Chaucer’s life, but more so on the political climate, which is vital to interpreting Chaucer’s writings and why so few survived, I found. And come on, the man lived 150 years before and is considered the father of English poetry, why does Shakespeare get all the credit? I mean sure Shakespeare wrote A LOT, but just this next paragraph should make you want to learn more about Geoffrey Chaucer.

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Book 19: A Burnable Book – Bruce Holsinger

Holsinger, Bruce - A Burnable BookWhoa, talk about a fascinating novel. It opens with a murder and builds from there! I finished the book in just over three days (with severely limited time) and it is most definitely a page turner with realistic characters and enough actual history thrown in to make you wonder how much is real and what isn’t.

I heard about this book from Books on the Nightstand and I HAD to read it. Not only did the story sound fascinating, but I mean come on it’s about Geoffrey Chaucer. He was the first person, out of my family, that I can remember who had the same name and more importantly, the same spelling, as ME!

I remember having to memorize the prologue to The Canterbury Tales in high school and enjoying the tales, but as interested in Chaucer as I was because of his name, I’ve never looked into his life or any fictional accounts of his life. I’ve had Who Murdered Chaucer? on my shelf for almost a month and kept putting it off, but now I’ve read this fictional book about Chaucer, I’m going right into a speculative history about Chaucer!

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Book 13: From Russia with Love – Ian Fleming

Fleming, Ian - From Russia with LoveFor my first, and probably only, foray into James Bond this was definitely a good one. Compared to other spy novels I’ve read like The Talented Mr. Ripley or The Thin Man, I enjoyed this one the most! I’m not sure if it is because of the history of the novel, or because of the character James Bond.

So it will come as no surprise, that this is my local library’s books into movies book group February read. What is surprising is that I suggested it. I did so because for some random reason, I have always been obsessed with the title—it’s one of those iconic titles that everyone knows and for some reason it’s always stuck with me even though I’ve never seen the movie or read the book. The second reason is that it’s February and well, Valentine’s Day. And finally Caroline made another connection: oh Russia, like Sochi, and the Olympics. So yet another great reason.

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