Review: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

If you, dear reader, are a fan of American history, particularly New York City during the Revolutionary War, this is a book for you.

If you like the Broadway show Hamilton, this is a book for you to read.  Chains is on the other side of Alexander Hamilton. Chains gives an eye-opening look to what was going on outside of the major names and players of the American Revolution.  Chains shows a piece of the underbelly of American history.

The story of Isabel Gardener will break your heart and leave you wanting more at the same time.  Isabel is 13, a slave, caretaker of her younger sister, Ruth, and not one to sit back. Her story is page turning, heart stopping, and will take your breath away.

10 out of 10 for making your mind bloom.

Review: Dante and Aristotle Discover…..

the Secrets of the Universe.

The Universe is a huge, weird, marvelous place for this love story between Dante and Aristotle, two young men from El Paso, Texas who meet each by chance.  Dante teaches Aristotle to swim and their friendship and love builds through tragedy and secrets revealed.  Each must suffer due to the other and Aristotle yearns for what Dante has and the reverse is also true.

They change each other’s lives in more ways then they originally imagined.

This book is a triumph.  Love is love and comes in many forms.

A must.

Review: The Bronze Bow by Speare

I’m surprised this book isn’t more well known.

Rating for making your mind bloom: 10 out of 10.

Similar to Ms. Speare’s well known book The Witch of Blackbird Pond, The Bronze Bow also steps back into a historical time period through a first-person narration.

Daniel bar Jamin is eighteen years old and lives in Galilee in about the year, as we know today, 30 A.D or 30 C.E.  Daniel is an outcast having run away from an indentured servitude/ slavery after losing most of his family due to the Romans.  Daniel wants to fight the Romans but also crosses paths with a carpenter named Jesus.  Daniel finds himself in some very tricky situations that are not always what they seem and makes some tough choices along the way.

There are some parallels between Daniel and Kit, the narrator of Witch.  Both are coming of age in a society where they find they do not belong yet are forced to fit in in order to survive.  Both must put their families into their lives even though they didn’t want to. Both embrace people who are shunned by the general society.  Both must make difficult choices.  Religion also plays a major part in both of their lives and stories.

Both of the books received a Newberry Medal.  If you read Witch, The Bronze Bow is a must.


Book Review: Worthy Brown’s Daughter

Your Mind in Bloom, LLC rating for making your mind bloom: 8 out of 10.

Don’t let this scare you.  Phillip Margolin writes a tight, fast-paced, thoughtful and heart wrenching tale that takes place at a time of great shift in American history.  Mr. Margolin even gives a view that isn’t found much in all of the literature about the era before the Civil War.

Matthew Penny is an attorney who has his share of interesting cases and clients and they won’t go away.  They follow him.

Worthy Brown asks Attorney Penny to help him get his daughter, Roxanna, back.  There is a plot twist you will never see coming, even if you try to cheat by reading the end first.

This is a great book for people who are fans of the West Coast, the Wild West, the law, and US history.  Enjoy!

Review: The Splendid Outcast

I don’t know if I’ve ever read West With the Night.  I know I’ve read Out of Africa.

I wish I had had the opportunity to meet Beryl Markham.  She seems like my type of person.

This is a collection of her short stories, a quick biography, and her recollections of life with horses.

If you have a horse lover in your life, this is a book for them.  This is also a book for badass women, flying, and people who love adventure and the continent of Africa.

Beryl had many advantages and landed in a unique place at a unique time.  This collection is a must.

Book Review: The Professor of Truth by James Robertson

The protagonist in this book, Alan Tealing, really struck me.  Alan is someone like myself who has what he has and then something unexpected and outside of his realm changed him forever.

From the opening words in this story of one man’s journey, both emotional and physical, Alan is captivating and the ending can’t come fast enough.

This book is also a work of philosophy, in a sense.  Alan has been waiting for answers for years while at the same time becoming an undocumented expert in an area he never imagined he would be one in.

One of his coworkers calls him a “professor of truth”.  Truth is in the eye of the beholder and the one telling the story.  One person’s truth is not another person’s truth, even if they are in the exact same situation.

Alan wants the truth yet at the same time realizes that he will never know the whole truth about the truth he is seeking.  He also learns much of what is known as “truth” is not true and is fabricated to fit a situation.

This book will leave you breathless and wanting more.  A must read.

Review: The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

For mature audiences only and for those that can handle tough issues and graphic portrayals.

The copy of this book that I found contains notes and a lot of highlights.  I’m wondering if someone, or two, used this for a class or book group, or both.  Finding scribbles and highlights is fascinating because it shows what other people reading the same thing latched onto during the reading.

In today’s day and age, Michael’s relationship with Hannah would be treated as a major crime, the setting for a show like Law and Order’s Special Victim’s Unit.  Olivia Benson would be on the case of a woman having an affair with a teenager half of her age.

This book could only take place in the setting that it does.  Everyone has secrets to hide yet justice is being handed out on a continual basis.

I just wonder for a country like Germany that has forced and compulsory state sanctioned education, just like the United States and a few other countries, how someone like Hannah would have fallen through the cracks and would have never learned to read or write, even functional literacy.  That is the major gap that is left by having the story from only Michael’s point-of-view.  He says that Hannah would never answer his questions.

Having worked with English Learners and with clients who can read barely beyond a second or third grade level as adults, Hannah’s complete lack of anything really makes me wonder.  Did the system just pass her along, so to speak, as happens today even though not many people are willing to discuss the subject.  Did she come from a poor family that the system missed somewhere?  Who knows?  It is left to the reader’s imagination.

Hannah preyed on Michael and the feeling seemed to go the other way as well.  No one is a good guy in this story.  Heartbreaking in some ways, yes, but these are two imperfect human beings.