Carole O. (gatorgumbogirl) - Reviews

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Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-Gazer
Review Date: 7/1/2014


I had no idea this book would be this good. Right from the opening sentences, the beauty of her phrases and lyrical descriptions of rising to meet life as it presents itself captured my attention and held me spellbound.in all the places as it unfolds From her early beginnings in the backwoods of America, to growing up on an island lighthouse during our country's whaling era, Una's story unfolds. As it deepens, we are thrown into the deepest depths of life as she faces horrifying times lost at sea and painful personal losses. Yet, always it is Una's uncommon sense bravery and eye for beholding beauty around her, that endears her story to us.


The Blood of Flowers
The Blood of Flowers
Author: Anita Amirrezvani
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 70
Review Date: 5/23/2015


This was a a book I didn't want to put down. It's a "coming of age" story, set in sixteenth/seventeenth century Persia, a time that does not resemble much that young girls and women encounter in their lives today. And yet, life issues such as the desire to love and be loved, the need to belong and for life to have meaning are the same.

From almost the first pages, it was easy to move into the hearts of our main characters and understand what drives them to do what they do..........

We step into the life of a young woman uprooted from her village after the death of her Father. She had never been beyond her village when she and her Mother went to the fabled city, Isfahan, and sought refuge in her Uncle's home. Her Uncle is a well-respected designer of fine rugs for the Shah.

After her Uncle learns of her talent in making rugs, he introduces her to the whole process of the fine art of designing and crafting exquisite rugs. however, life soon changes abruptly and so, the story begins......and it takes many, many twists and turns. I wondered right up until the end, what would happen to our main characters.

The story was so beautifully written. A unexpected bonus was the way the author has her main characters recall and tell beloved folktales at several significant points in the story. Her use of mythology brought a different layer of insight to my understanding of the ways people gained wisdom and understanding in this time period.


Daughter of Fortune
Daughter of Fortune
Author: Isabel Allende, Margaret Sayers Peden (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 363
Review Date: 1/9/2013


An adopted daughter of a well bred family breaks the social rules in upper class Chile and flees to California. Eliza endures a horrendous ocean crossing in search of her lover and barely recovers. With help from Tai Chi'en, a young,widowed Chinese doctor, and a kind-hearted prostitute, she survives to shape her new life during the gold rush in California.
Throughout her adventures there, Eliza remains close to Tao Chi'en, her rescuer and friend. Dressed as a young boy, and mute brother of Tao Chi'en, Eliza's adventures unfold in her new country as does love...but not as she expected it.


Fates and Furies
Fates and Furies
Author: Lauren Groff
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 1/27/2018


This particular book has three ISBN listed beside it then goes on to denote that the book is a hardback. It is not a hardback. This one; the first number listing is a paperback. Please note.


A Fine Balance
A Fine Balance
Author: Rohinton Mistry
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 323
Review Date: 3/23/2009
Helpful Score: 1


One of my favorites of this year's reading. This is an expansive narrative that follows a handful of main characters through unimaginable and at times, inhumane, times in India. Yet, love and humor followed our two tailors, their special friend and the student. It was magical how the four main characters came together in this tale. I did not want the book to end!


Fortune's Rocks
Fortune's Rocks
Author: Anita Shreve
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 265
Review Date: 11/11/2010


This is my favorite of Anita Shreve's stories. It's fascinating how she sets a story in a place and you can clearly imagine the setting....the beach and the surrounding area. In another book, she sets another of her stories in the same site, different time period or from another perspective.
Olympia's tale is one of a first forbidden and utterly complicated love. Seductive as it was, it also held elements of innocence and perhaps promise that she might eventually come to understand true gifts of love.


Freckles
Freckles
Author: Gene Stratton Porter
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 8/30/2015


Truly a book from the past where life was very different from today's world.....the beautiful, poetic writing places old-fashioned customs and class expectations against an assertive and confident young woman and a hero who could not believe he could rise above his current station in life. The characters have to be viewed through a historical lens and yet the story is like an enchanting fairy tale where there are real life hero and heroines who can save the day.
I enjoyed the story BECAUSE of the historical lens....The characters faced many hard times yet they seem so naive and innocent to us. We've come a long way from Freckles, The Angel and The Bird Woman and the whole gang of characters. I enjoyed reading this book as well as the author's, Girl of the Limberlost. It reminded me of the good time I had reading books such as Black Beauty and Lassie, Come Home when I was young.


The Ginger Tree
The Ginger Tree
Author: Oswald Wynd
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 54
Review Date: 11/11/2010


This is a book that stays with you for a long time, not because it is a page turner, which it is not, but because it seems such a realistic tale of a young european woman living in the mysterious east in a time when women were particularly vulnerable without family at hand.
A very proper young woman travels to Asia to marry a man based there in diplomatic service. She barely knows him yet travels many miles to wed and to take her place as a proper married woman. While Mary remains a proper woman throughout her life in Asia, her life does not unfold the way she imagines it will. Hers is a tale of romance, courage, strength, fortitude and with an amazing ability to adapt and carve a good life for herself. When I think of this book, I am moved by her strength to re-create herself over and over.


A Girl of the Limberlost (The Library of Indiana Classics)
A Girl of the Limberlost (The Library of Indiana Classics)
Author: Gene Stratton-Porter
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 7/25/2015


This is a classic story that would have taken place back in my Grandmother's or Great Grandmother's times.
Elnora was young backwoods girl who had great dreams of getting a good education in the city nearby yet she had many obstacles to overcome before her dream could and would come to fruition.

The first hurdle was perhaps the most difficult. When she attended her first day of high school, she was keenly aware that she dressed differently from the city girls and to her horror, she discovered that she had to pay her tuition and textbooks. She was forced to become creative in order to earn money and that is how our story begins to unfold.

Elmora was a spirited young woman who could make it in any time era but it was fun to read how an innocent yet strong willed young girl faced personal issues in her day. The core issues such as love, conflicts with Mom, getting along at school, loss of innocence and earning money are still the same, but are very different pictures of the ways young girls face them in today's world.


The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
Author: Heidi W. Durrow
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 73
Review Date: 11/24/2014


Beautifully written. Different characters tell the story that centers around Rachel and members of her family, including a young man who lived in the family's apartment building in Chicago. The backdrop of the book's focus is a heart-wrenching incident that unfolds slowly as each character describes the it from their angle of vision.
Developing at the same time is the powerful drama of Rachel, a young bi-racial girl's blooming awareness of cultural identity, selfhood and survival.


God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir
God Grew Tired of Us: A Memoir
Author: John Bul Dau, Michael S. Sweeney
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 8
Review Date: 2/22/2010


What a story John Bul Dau has to tell! This book takes you on the frightening journey of one of the "lost boys" of Sudan. Such struggles seem impossible to overcome. The last third of the book brings the reader up to date on Dau's plight in the US. Enlightening.


The House at Riverton
The House at Riverton
Author: Kate Morton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 267
Review Date: 12/31/2009
Helpful Score: 6


Wow! I couldn't put this book down. It's exciting to the very end. I'm sure it will be made into a screenplay one day. I really enjoy the way Kate Morton writes. By the end of the book, you know the main characters well and get a glimpse of life as it is through their eyes. The Forgotten Garden is just as riveting; a story you won't easily forget.


In the Company of the Courtesan
In the Company of the Courtesan
Author: Sarah Dunant
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 228
Review Date: 8/19/2015


These warm days of late summer make great times to get lost in a good book like this one. Sarah Dunant's historical fiction is loosely based on actual events in Rome and Venice 500 years ago. The main characters are a dwarf and a courtesan.

The story is narrated by the dwarf, Buchino, who acts as business partner and close companion of Fiammetta, who is a young and beautiful Courtesan. They escape Rome's sacking in the early 1500's, leaving behind a life of grandeur and travel to Venice with only what they can conceal in a small chest and themselves. And, of course, Venice is not Rome and they must connive their way back into the book of Courtesans there. I had a hard time putting this book down for several days.

With modern day actor, Peter Dinkage, continually creeping into my mind's eye as the narrator of this story, I could envision all the intrigue, angst, and admiration Buchino faced. This was probably not the way the author imagined her character, but it sure helped me identify a bit more with the narrator's angle of vision.


Jennie
Jennie
Author: Douglas Preston
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 8/1/2011


Jenny was hard to put down. Such a believable story!

Through a series of letters and times remembered by characters in the book, we come to know Jenny, an orphaned baby chimpanzee. Jenny was born in the jungles in Africa, delivered by Dr. Archibald, a visiting scientist from the USA. Her Mother Ape lay dying as the story unfolds.

When the newborn baby chimp gazed into Dr. Archibald's eyes, the good doctor fell in love with her. And so, Jenny gpes to the states to be raised as a "daughter" in her new human family.

My favorite parts of the book are times when Jenny played with the children as they all grew up. She ate meals at the table with them, rode bikes through the neighborhood and eventually learned sign language to communicate. Years later when Jenny's adolescence proves traumatic for the family and Jenny alike, life changes for everyone.

Not a true story yet one based on a similar incident, I found Jenny a fascinating story and didn't want it to end for I feared it would not be a happily ever after story. What it was turned out to be is a story I thought of many times after reading it. Very poignant.


Keys to the Castle
Keys to the Castle
Author: Donna Ball
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 32
Review Date: 10/4/2014


Great quick read! Lots of little twists and turns that kept me interested all the way to the ending. I liked the characters although they were pretty predictable. I thought the story was going at some point early on, but, there was plenty going on to keep me turning the pages to confirm my ideas. I'd recommend this as the perfect book to take along on a trip, visit, or anytime you have a few nights or hours to pick up the book and immerse yourself in a good story....free from violence, too.


Lone Wolf
Lone Wolf
Author: Jodi Picoult
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 71
Review Date: 8/19/2014


What I enjoyed the most about her book was the knowledge of wolves she imparted and the ways the characters seemed to intuit their Fathers wishes based on his powerful connection with wolves in the wild.


Loving Frank
Loving Frank
Author: Nancy Horan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 577
Review Date: 3/18/2010


I liked this book a lot. Had a hard time putting it down. Mamah Borthwick Cheney as the lead player in this story, is a wonderful character study with great depth and passion for truth, love and freedom, particularly woman's freedom in the world. It's also the story of her longtime love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright, an affair that certainly had its ups and downs yet was saddled with the restraints of her century's ideas about women and marriage.

More than a story about Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick's love affair, it is one woman's journey through life's twists and turns in life during the last century......in light of loving Frank. Fiction based on some facts, the book kept me interested from many angles; a woman's life during this era, Frank Lloyd Wright's ideas about art and architecture, their love story and how society viewed this scandal and also the growth of Mamah's wisdom and world views. And yet, the ending was such a surprise and developed so quickly that it seemed like a post script. That was unsettling for me.


Luncheon of the Boating Party
Luncheon of the Boating Party
Author: Susan Vreeland
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 59
Review Date: 5/19/2015


What fun to read Susan Vreeland's novel about Renoir's painting, Luncheon of the Boating Party.! While it is a work of fiction, it is a very real work of art and her notes and interview at the back of the book, describe her many hours researching all the characters, events and places as well as Renoir's method and style of painting.
I found myself turning back and forth to the painting on the cover of the book as I read about Renoir's association with each of the models in his painting and also his absolute gusto for painting what he loved.
Now, to read more of her books.....


Meely LaBauve: A Novel
Meely LaBauve: A Novel
Author: Ken Wells
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 10/8/2012


Delightful book about young Meely LaBauve from a Cajun Bayou. Mostly, this is a "coming of age" book where our hero battles gators, stands up to some badgering bullies and encounters first love in a corn field. This was my first introduction to Ken Wells and after this, I had to read everything I could find by this witty guy!


Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, Bk 1)
Review Date: 4/8/2015


My long wait for this book was well worth it. It's a book for all ages. I'm ready and waiting to read the next one.


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