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.

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 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.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

This is one of those books one can read and think, “Ah, the scandal”.

A renegade teacher.  A possible not so secret lover.  Betrayal by a student.  What could be better?

The more I’ve worked in education, the more I can appreciate this work.  Jean Brodie has no children of her own, so she cultivates her own group from the students at a small private school where she teaches.  Jean Brodie makes the reader cringe and that is a good thing.  Some people may think she is evil and just plain blind to the world around her.  It depends on the perspective.

Why is this point really her prime, if it is her prime at all?  Perhaps Miss Brodie knows it is now or never to cultivate her legacy.

This book could never happen today.  This is a great, well-written, compact story and a classic.  Don’t cheat by watching the movie.

Review of “The Curious Incident…”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

This book was published a while ago but I always see it circulating and after having finally read it, I know why.

Christopher Boone is the narrator in this slice-of-life story about his life.  This book makes me think of the series The Life of Fred books.  The story is raw, open, and the narrator one wants to hug and there are no angels in this book.  Every character in the story is a real person with their flaws, even the police officer who is on a train with Christopher.

A great read for the beach for summer.

Review: The Wave

This book may be one of those unknown gems.  I found this in the nearby Little Library.  I’m going to put it back there for someone else to find and read.

Margaret Hodges is the author.

The plot of the book is about how Ojisan, who lives in a small fishing village, notices something is wrong and saves everyone’s lives by extreme personal sacrifice.

Great storytelling and great use of language.  Appropriate for ages six and up and adults will enjoy it as well.

Ascend or Descend, Your Choice

via Daily Prompt: Descend

Descend always makes me think of Dante going into the Seven Circles of Hell.  Down and down he went until the part where Hell does actually freeze over.

It makes me think of Steven King.

It makes me think of going down, of horror movies, and Edgar Allen Poe.  The dark staircases with a flashlight coming around the corner, of pyramids, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, sleuths with flashlights searching for clues.

Descend is the action, the verb.  Descent is the noun, the thing.

The best thing you can do is ascend, go up.  Pick the best way, the best reaction to a situation.  Ascent is the noun.

Religions carry a lot of stories and beliefs about people ascending, Elijah, Jesus, Mohammed, to name a few.

The more one complains, the more they will not ascend.  They will descend.  Do not bring negativity into your life.  Always ask that whatever this negative is to turn it into a positive situation.  That’s the best way to stay away from descent and to keep going.