Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Three Day Road

Three Day Road
Author: Joseph Boyden
Source: My Parents
Days to Read: 11

I really enjoyed Through Black Spruce so when Three Day Road was recommended to me I jumped at the chance to read it. I enjoyed this book even more than Through Black Spruce.

Joseph Boyden is a wonderful writer and creates characters that you feel you know very well.  Three Day Road follows the life of two Cree best friends, Xavier and Elijia.  The two boys grow up together and travel to Europe to fight in World War I. 

The story is narrated by Niska, Xavier's aunt, an old medicine woman.  The reader learns of Niska's life as a child with her people and how drastically life has changed since the fur traders arrived  on their lands.  One day Niska receives word that Elijah, her nephew Xavier's best friend, has made it home from the war. She travels from deep in the wilderness of Northern Ontario to the town to bring him home. She discovers that it is not Elijah but Xavier that has survived. While travelling back into the wilderness with his Aunt, suffering from a Morphine addiction and the loss of his leg, Xavier relives the horrors he experienced fighting for Canada in the war. He remembers how his friend Elijah changed into a mad killer who thrived in the combat environment. Niska knows she must cleanse her nephew of the evil or he will be lost forever. 

The experiences of Xavier and Elijah while in Europe are horrific and tough to read but ring true; Boyden draws from experiences of his own family during the war. As Elijah begins to sink deeper into his own morphine addiction and madness, he is balanced by Xavier's realistic outlook and the strong bond he feels for his home and his Aunt. 

Although this book is definitely heavy at times, it is a great novel and a wonderful story of Canada's contributions and sacrifices during the war. 

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Cane River

Cane River
Author: Lalita Tademy
Source: My parents
Days to Read: 10

Cane River was another novel that my parents passed on to me over the holidays. The story follows four generations of women born into slavery and living in Louisiana. Each woman’s story is unique and each woman strives to create a better life for her children.  The novel begins with Elisabeth telling her story of working on the plantation as a cook and raising a family. At a young age, a white man rapes her daughter, Suzette.  Suzette soon becomes pregnant and over the years as the white man’s source of pleasure, has several children.  Philomene, her daughter, is a headstrong girl and from an early age knows she wants more for her family.  Philomene has children with a white businessman. Property and inheritance are only passed down to legitimate white children. Knowing this, Philomene uses her influence over her man to save money and educate her children. One of her daughters, Emily, falls in love with a successful white man who is friends with her father.  After the many generations of women partnering with white males, the family line has been significantly bleached and as a result, Emily and her siblings have a better start at life from the get go.

I enjoyed how each chapter in the book was the next generation and the story was then told from that woman’s perspective. It was also interesting to see how life changes with the passage of time for these women and their families.  For some reason I was never fully invested in any of the characters. I have thought about what it was that was missing and cannot put my finger on it! Regardless, the book is a good one but I did not love it.

I am thinking that I need to develop some type of rating system to give each book.  I will think on this and come up with something to implement with my next review! Happy reading :)
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Book Club

I am so excited that my goal of starting a book club is finally happening and with plenty of interest to boot! Next week, 10 of my closest girl friends will get together for the inaugural meeting of our book club. There is much to be discussed; frequency of meetings, schedules of hostesses, whether we should take turns supplying wine and appetizers (I am confident this motion will be approved!) and the general format of how we want to structure our meetings.

Anyone that knows me is aware that I like to plan. This book club has presented a wonderful opportunity to do just that. I am trying not to go too over the top demanding a minute book, designated secretary and chairman of each meeting and set agenda with discussion questions.  I can just as easily go with the flow and general consensus, I think! However I will insist that some structure is incorporated to keep us focused and allow us to stand the test of time. I cannot wait to look back 10 years from now when we are all settled, married, possibly have kids but still manage to get together every few months to catch up and discuss a passion we all share, books.
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Firefly Lane

Firefly Lane
Author: Kristin Hannah
Source: Recommended by my friend Lauren, bought it while I was in Pennsylvania with Lauren and Ali to see Zac Brown Band!
Days to Read: 7

When I started reading this book I thought it would be a typical, easy read about two friends who grow up to lead very different lives then one betrays the other and the friendship is put to the test. However, I was pleased to discover that what I thought was going to happen, didn’t. Throughout the book I had this nagging feeling that Tully (the vivacious and sociable girl) would betray her best friend Kate (the responsible and conventional girl) by seducing and sleeping with her husband. I really liked both of the characters and with each hint dropped and every paged turned I kept expecting to be disappointed in both Tully and Johnny, Kate’s husband. I will say that I was never disappointed in these characters… to the degree that a scandal such as an affair would have caused.  

The story is entertaining and although the characters seem relatively simple, their bond to one another is endearing. It made me think of all the best friends that I have had over the years and the qualities that I cherish in my friends now. Tully and Kate grow up together. Tully is abandoned by her mother and lives with her grandmother on Firefly Lane. She meets plain old Kate and they become inseparable. Tully is drawn to Kate's tight knit family and the stability it offers. Kate envies Tully's ability to make friends with everyone around her and go after what she wants. Through the ups and downs of growing up, the two girls remain close, living and working together.  When Kate is diagnosed with breast cancer, the true bond of their friendship is tested.

Be warned that this book may cause you to tear up but I would definitely recommend it. A great book for a summer read at the cottage!
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