Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Book of Aron

The book of Aron, narrated by a young boy in Poland lives
in the Jewish Ghetto as a scavenger on the outskirts of society during WWII. This novel is a short glimpse of everyday life being stripped away from anyone who was Jewish. For a small band of kids, some of the misery, heartache and fears of the time are replaced by mischievous outings to smuggle in anything they can get their hands on. Escaping the police and soldiers day after day by slipping through the restricted cracks becomes an art for these fearless kids. When Aron loses everyone he loves and all seems utterly hopeless he stumbles upon Pan Doctor whom he recognizes from a radio show. The doctor is running an orphanage and focused on keeping as many children as possible alive. With little food, as death, disease and filth surround them, Aron becomes his helper/companion and his goal becomes to turn the tables and save the doctor. Heartbreakingly sad story told through the eyes of the children and a city demolished by war and hatred, underneath it all, Aron is just a kid. One cannot help but wonder how you could possibly survive, and if you were one of the lucky ones to "survive" how is it possible to keep on living? Unique writing style of a time in history I read again and again, it never fails to wake up a piece of me that just cannot believe this actually happened.

A Discovery of Witches

Deep in the stacks of the library at Oxford, Diana Bishop cannot
reach one of the works on the highest shelf. And she calls for it. And it comes to her. Matthew Clairmont, a distinguished scholar observes this. And so begins the tumble from a quiet researcher's academic life to a tumultuous brilliant love affair between an extraordinary witch and a brilliant, beautiful vampire. Their communities forbid their love and dangerous connection. Their families are shocked. Diana and Matthew search for the secrets to a mysterious manuscript called Ashmole 782, the spells of which have been bound for centuries and may hold the answer they have all been waiting for. Hundreds of years of history unfolds as Diana and Matthew build understanding and trust to try and scientifically explain the difference and similarities between their two races. Suspenseful and romantic, this is a great beach read that is quite unputdownable. It is as long as it is delicious and I warn you if you get hooked you will be dreaming of magic spells and very busy this summer as it is the first of a trilogy. #perfectsummerread

Friday, May 15, 2015

Alys, Always

As I am on a roll of what I call "light psychological suspense" novels,
Alys, Always is my newest find. After finishing and loving Her by Harriet Lane, I immediately needed to read more from this author! Frances, a thirty something editor at a struggling newspaper is driving home late one dark dreary night and notices strange headlights shining at an odd angle off the road. Frances immediately pulls over and to her horror finds Alys Kyte in the crush of a twisted car.  She quickly calls for help and although there is nothing she can do for Alys, she speaks comfortingly through the window during what becomes her last moments alive. Later Frances is asked by the grieving Kyte family to meet and reveal details of Alys's last words and thoughts. The husband happens to be an extremely famous and wealthy author. The son and daughter, two spoiled young adults that quickly warm up to Frances and find a rare bit of comfort with this bizarre connection. Frances, who by no means planned this chain of events, uses this new relationship to her benefit in the publishing world and her private life. This quiet, well written story was completely unputdownable. The pages turned so quickly, I truly had no idea what was to come. Right on the edge of right and wrong, deep in the heart of manipulation and truth, Frances plans each move with clarity and finesse. Highly recommend this incredible read and cannot wait for the next brilliant novel from Harriet Lane!!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Henna House

This fascinating saga begins in Yemen in 1920. The Jewish
Community there, rarely spoken of, is on the cusp of dramatic change into the modern era. This small village of barely educated simple people live as quietly and traditionally as the Imam will allow them. This story is told through the voice of Adela, a young girl living on the edge of her own tragedy. An Orphan Decree has been made and if her father, who has been ill should meet his death, the Confiscator will have the right to take her away from her family. This haunts Adela day and night. Adela's mother is bitter and cruel, never a kind word to say, her father adores her but cannot protect her from her fate and older brothers taunt her constantly. Finally, it seems luck has changed. Her cousin moves nearby and she is full of confidence, wonder and beauty. Her and Aunt Rachel begin to teach Adela the art of Henna. And so begins Adela's journey to womanhood, to finally be the creator of her own destiny in the Henna House. As women celebrate friendship and sisterhood their futures are painted by this mystical tradition. Eventually, the family is led to their future in a dramatic escape to start new lives in Israel through Operation Magic Carpet. Although much of the first half of this novel is purely background, the writing is pleasant, the history is mesmerizing and ideas of traditional Henna remained with me long after the novel ended.