Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, 14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their Georgia peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart's answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother. All Lily has left of Deborah is a strange image of a Black Madonna, with the words "Tiburon, South Carolina" scrawled on the back. The search for a mother, and the need to mother oneself, are crucial elements in this well-written coming-of-age story set in the early 1960s against a background of racial violence and unrest. When Lily's beloved nanny, Rosaleen, manages to insult a group of angry white men on her way to register to vote and has to skip town, Lily takes the opportunity to go with her, fleeing to the only place she can think of--Tiburon, South Carolina--determined to find out more about her dead mother.

I enjoyed the second half of this book more than the first half, when Lily and Rosaleen get to Tiburon.  However as you can't have one half of the story without the other, I had to plow through the first half to get to the second half.  It is worth persevering though.

It brought home how much racial unrest there was in the Southern States in the early 60's, and how much brutality there was and how the police turned a blind eye.  I loved Lily and felt her pain and sorrow as all she wants is her mother.

T-Ray was a nasty piece of work, but even he showed a vulnerable side near the end, but not enough to make you like him.

For those of you who have seen the movie, how did you feel about the actors who were cast to play the roles?  I haven't seen the movie but I would not have cast some of those particular actresses to play the specific roles.  Jennifer Hudson would not have been my idea for Rosaleen, she was much too young.  Neither would Alicia Keys for June, she also was much too young.  Queen Latifah as August I could well imagine and I don't know the actress who played May.

Stars out of 5 : 4 I preferred Sue's other book, The Invention of Wings better.  This book was a bit of a slow start for me, but when it got going, it drew me in and captured my attention.  The interesting facts about bee keeping and honey were an added bonus.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Dauntless," by Dina L. Sleiman

"Dauntless," by Dina L. Sleiman
Born a baron's daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is now an enemy of the throne after her father's failed assassination attempt upon the king. Bold and uniquely skilled, she is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village--a group that becomes known as "The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest." Merry finds her charge more difficult as their growing notoriety brings increasing trouble their way.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, he's forced to reexamine everything he's known.


This book is a different take on the Robin Hood story; but it involves mainly children.  As a book it was an okay read, but it will be one I will forget quite easily I am afraid.  It's one of those books where you can pick it up and put it down and get right back into the story.  I call it one of my shopping list books, where I can read the book and think of other things at the same time as it is a simple enough story.

Stars out of 5 : 3  A very forgettable book, but one that you can read to while away a few hours.  The second in the series comes out in September of 2015 and involves one of the characters that you meet in this book.  I have read a lot worse books, but then again I have read a lot of better ones.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.


This is our book club choice for April.  This book features two of my favourite things, Charleston, South Carolina and lots of history.

I am very interested in the Southern way of life in the 1800's and so this book was perfect for me.  It also had a lot of true facts in it, which made it all the more believable.    The way the author described the day to day activity of the household and the pecking order made everything feel so real.  

I read this book over two days as I could not put it down.  I enjoyed the way the chapters alternated between the two main characters Sarah and Handful.  Each were fighting for their own part of the world and each went about it in different ways.

Then there was the story quilt and how that was described was also very powerful; but it made sense that as most slaves could not read or write making a quilt to tell their story was the way to go.

Stars out of 5 : 5 it is a book well worth reading and an author I am glad to have been introduced too.  I do not believe in slavery but am interested in how things played out in the south.  Very, very glad I read this book.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

"Anna's Crossing," by Suzanne Woods Fisher


On a hot day in 1737 in Rotterdam, Anna K├Ânig reluctantly sets foot on the Charming Nancy, a merchant ship that will carry her and her fellow Amish believers across the Atlantic to start a new life. As the only one in her community who can speak English, she feels compelled to go. But Anna is determined to complete this journey and return home--assuming she survives. She's heard horrific tales of ocean crossings and worse ones of what lay ahead in the New World. But fearfulness is something Anna has never known.

Ship's carpenter Bairn resents the somber people--dubbed Peculiars by the deckhands--who fill the lower deck of the Charming Nancy. All Bairn wants to do is to put his lonely past behind him, but that irksome and lovely lass Anna and her people keep intruding on him.

Delays, storms, illness, and diminishing provisions test the mettle and patience of everyone on board. When Anna is caught in a life-threatening situation, Bairn makes a discovery that shakes his entire foundation. But has the revelation come too late?

I read this book in one sitting, it was that good.  I was hooked right from the start and I HAD to know what happened next.  This was written about a subject I had never read about, the earliest Amish and Mennonites traveling from Europe to settle in the "New World."  The way the author describes the conditions the passengers had to endure in the ship told of the absolute faith they had in God.

There are a couple of paragraphs that talk about the slave ships; quite eye opening and well worth pondering.

The way the character Anna was portrayed was just lovely.  If I had to complain about something it was to name the main male character, "BAIRN."  That was a stupid name as it means child in Scotland and Northern England.

There is a main twist in this story that brings everything together nicely.  Even at the end there was another surprise.  So right until the end you are kept interested.

Stars out of 5 : 5 I really did enjoy this book and I learned something, which is always good.   This is an Amish Beginning Novel, so I am going to assume there is a series of books, but I could not find any more information on others.  This is a book worth reading and I am sure you will enjoy it.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Available at your favourite booksel
ler from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".