Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Before, I didn’t know about perspective.  Now I know it can change how you see the whole world.

This was a beautifully written story!  I didn’t realize until the end that this was a rendition of the author’s life as a little girl.  I loved the main character, Ruthie Mizrahi.  It’s the 1960’s and Ruthie is a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl adjusting to her new life in New York City.  It’s been hard for her family to learn the customs of the big city and on one dark night, their lives are changed forever…a horrific car accident leaves Ruthie in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery.

This is the story of a young girl who learns to love in darkest of times and how her heart can go from being stone cold to growing larger.  She teaches us how fragile life can really be and no matter what your circumstances happen to be, there is always something to look forward to.  Ruthie’s hope was to recover and learn to walk again as well as forgiving the person who had caused the accident and her displacement being confined to her bed for almost a whole year.

This moment in their lives seems to have brought many people together and closer to Ruthie.  The story was moving and very well written.  I felt myself rooting for Ruthie and almost crying with her at times.  She is a tough gal, who although fell into the darkness, it didn’t take long for someone to show her the light again. She let their rays of sunshine warm her heart and from there, Ruthie spread the rays onto others.

 

 

The Beast Is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Alys was the only witness to the night the soul eaters came into her village and only the children were spared, although put into a deep trance.  Little did she know then, Alys would be the key and lock from this moment on.

The soul eaters…happen to be twin sisters.  When they were young, the two girls and their mother were banished from their village and into the forest, villagers claiming they were witches.  Then, slowly the sisters did start to morph into something not quite human and hungry for things you cannot cook or grow….they were becoming hungry for human souls.

After Alys’s village was terrorized, her and the other children were sent to live in a neighboring village, although most of the villagers there were filled with fear hearing the story of how all of these children became orphans.  In this new village, the inhabitants are strict in their ways with their fundamentals of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.  Along with their fears of the soul eaters, they also believe that another entity is what leads these beings and they call it, the Beast.

Alys begins to feel different, almost as if she is somehow connected to these twin sister soul eaters and…..a connection to the Beast it’s self.  She has always been drawn to the forest since she was a child and has a gift that she doesn’t want to tell anyone about as she may also be deemed a witch and suffer the same fate as the twin sisters had, banishment.   She soon learns the truth of her abilities and along the journey, it becomes her mission to protect the ones she loves from the danger that is threatening them all.

Lucky You: A Novel by Erika Carter

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a tale about three women, who are somewhat friends having worked together at the same bar in a Arkansas college town.  Each woman is dealing with their own battles of alcohol and self-destructive acts of sexual promiscuity.  One of the gals, Chloe, pulls out patches of her hair and another, Rachel, under the spell of another new boyfriend has agreed to live off-grid for a year in order to return to “health” and asks Ellie and Chloe to join them in “The Project” in a house that Chloe’s boyfriends parents own, deep in the Ozarks.   Although once there, all three of the women are succumbed to boredom and the longings of being back in the ‘normal’ world causing tension to rise in the house especially as Chloe’s boyfriend becomes a little to obsessed with “The Project”.  Told in alternation persons, this isn’t a tale of growth, but almost a story of acceptance.

The writing was good, although the abrupt closer wasn’t what I was hoping for but once you learn about the lives of these women, it was almost perfect.  I was waiting for some kind of epiphany, but it never came for any of them.  Sometimes people will come to the realization and acceptance of themselves as they are and be okay with it without ever wanting to change a thing.

 

 

 

Edgar and Lucy by Victor Lodato

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

From the beginning I loved little Edgar’s character, an eight year old albino.  Edgar and his grandmother have a very special relationship.  In the book, she is his care giver despite that fact that his mother also lives with them, but has agendas of her own.  Lucy is scarred by her past and the traumatic death of her husband, is not much of a mother to Edgar.  I was slow to read this book, but I felt like the characters were always waiting for me when I picked it back up again.  The story want necessarily ‘slow’ but it seemed as if the author was in no hurry to tell the story, except in the end.

Unfortunately, Edgar’s grandmother passes away.  Shortly there after, Edgar is kidnapped in a strange way, but you have to read the book to understands Edgar’s characteristics to understand why it’s a tad strange.  His kidnapper, a father who’s son he had accidentally killed in a hunting accident, trying to fill a void I think, takes Edgar to his secluded cabin deep in the forest.  Although most kidnappers  you think of as terrorizing the ‘prisoner’, but this is not the case here.  Edgar and the kidnapper form a relationship of sorts with both characters realizing their own life’s paths aren’t always going to paved in gold, some times it’s a ‘sugar sand road’.

This book is a journey although hard to describe, it’s a book with a story line that I can guarantee you’ve never experienced before.  At some points it was confusing but with some of the characters dealing with mental health issues, you eventually come full circle to understanding it’s depths.  I was surprised that perhaps it ended so neatly when there was so much to the different parts of the tale.

The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals by Joel Sartore (National Geographic)

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a book that should be on everyone’s coffee tables and book shelves!  I found it on the ‘new’ release shelf at my local library, being an animal lover I had to check it out.  National Geographic the Photo ark is a lifelong project, already spanning 25 years, of photographer Joel Sartore.  It is his goal to take portraits of the world’s animals, especially those that are endangered and put them at our fingertips.  Joel has a powerful message sprawling through this fantastic book conveyed with humor, compassion and art.  Joel hopes we will look into the eyes of these animals, to know these animals, in order to save them.

Sartore’s intends to photograph every animal in captivity around the world.  He is visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction.  He has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal.

As I was going through the book, I happened upon an Albino North American Porcupine with the caption “This albino porcupine is named Halsey for the spot in Nebraska near where she was rescued after being hit on the highway.  Today Halsey is thriving, despite a dental condition that prevents her from ever being returned to the wild.”  This caught me off guard because I happen to live in Nebraska!  Not only that, but as I kept reading I read more captions and descriptions of animals that were photographed at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Nebraska),  Nebraska Wildlife Rehab in Louisville (Nebraska) and the Lincoln’s Children Zoo (Nebraska).

Then, after finishing the book, I read about the photographer and author Joel Sartore.  He is a photographer, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic Fellow and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine.  He is the founder of this project, the Photo Ark, has contributed to Audubon magazine, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  Are you ready for the icing on the cake????  Joel is always happy to return from his travels around the world to his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his lives with is wife and their three children.

I cannot stress enough how amazing this book was, especially from the fact that this project is being conducted by a fellow Nebraskan.  I look forward to seeing more of Joel Sartore’s work in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

~Book Club Selection~ A Novel Idea’s book for May!

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

This book was so beautiful and haunting, a story of the broken destinies of two young protagonists, during World War II. There is Marie-Laure, a French blind girl, forced to flee Paris and the routine of her safe and familiar life, with her father. Then there is snow-haired Werner, a young German private, keen, resourceful and thrown in a war he doesn’t fathom.

Marie-Laure lives with her father near the Museum of Natural History in Paris.  Her father works as the “master of its thousands of locks”.  Ever since Marie-Laure went blind at the age of six, she as been memorizing the neighborhood via a perfect miniature rendition her father has made.  She can navigate easily now.  Then the war comes when she is twelve.  Her and her father flee to an uncles house by the sea, where they think they will be safe.  Although with them, they happen to carry the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In Germany, Werner grows up with his younger sister Jutta and many others at an orphanage.  They find an old radio one day and their lives were changed forever. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

All the Light We Cannot See is undeniably a masterpiece. The characters are well developed throughout the novel, the settings are lush with expository passages that help entrench the reader in Marie-Laure’s sightless world, and is ultimately a novel of optimism in a time of doom.  This is a highly recommended read!

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a riveting account of the westward trek of 19th century pioneers told from the perspective of 19 year old Mary Ann Graves, one of the Donner Party survivors.  Written in verse, this is a story of the young woman and her family as they make the treacherous journey west in 1846. Working together or not, decisions good and bad all influence the outcome of this fantastic adventure and the fates of many brave families.  By focusing on one member of the Donner party, the author makes one of the most mysterious episodes in American history come to life.

Mary’s family later joined up with a wagon train led by George Donner. Together they continued heading towards California, certain the trip would only take a few more months by taking a short cut. If they had known of the dangers and the cost to their families that lay on the road ahead after they became lost for 32 days, they would all have stayed in Illinois…

Mary’s account of the horrors of their trip, which included death, starvation, freezing cold and mountainous terrain, will transfix readers. One hundred and seventy years later, all that they faced are brought to life in poetic verse.

The writing was as beautiful as it was dark.  The research that went into this is was impressive, and the intimacy and intensity of the verse is absolutely captivating. As you near the inevitable pages that have become fabled in history, you will sense the desperation of the men and women on this journey. It’s an unflinching story of death and survival.