May 1944 – Little House

It’s not the transmitter. Etienne is wrong. It was not the radio the German was interested in. It was something else, something he thought only she might know about. And he heard what he wanted to hear. She answered his one question after all.

Just a dumb model of this town.

-Page 426 of All the Light We Cannot See

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Book Review: The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl book cover

The Other Boleyn Girl book cover

I love this kind of historical fiction; it’s been mixed with drama, suspense, and romance. However true this book is to historical events, I don’t know. As a reader, just take the “facts” with a grain of salt. This is categorized as fiction, after all. I read some reviews on Goodreads, and seeing folks rage about historical inaccuracies in their reviews just blows my mind.

The Other Boleyn Girl is a story about two sisters who captures King Henry’s heart, at least long enough to become his mistresses and bear his children. One of them succeeds to overthrowing the Queen, Catherine of Aragon, and later sits on the throne herself. The story is told from the point of view of the youngest Boleyn, Mary. She is brought to court at a very young age and we follow her growth as she comes of age and realizes the tight lines she has to walk to stay afloat at court. Choosing Mary as the narrator is an interesting choice Gregory makes. Perhaps because she is the only character that has the most development and change of hear that that is what makes this book so intriguing. We know that Mary is naive and when we begin seeing her defy her family, this is when we truly feel invested in her well-being and survival. While Anne is a great character to read about, you never truly side with her. Anne is the evil and conniving older sister. She’s willing to put everything on the line to become Queen. And in the end, what of it? I pitied her and anxiously waited to read about her demise.

Add in their elder brother, George, and the Boleyns were inseparable and nearly unstoppable. George was charismatic and handsome, perfect as a court entertainer. Towards the middle of the book, it became clear that there were some sexual tension going on between George and Anne. They were not outright lovers, but their intimacy was far too much to be on the level of brother and sister. Interestingly enough, Gregory based this part of her story on a theory by Retha Warnicke that there was a homosexual ring within the court. For the times that we’re talking about, this sure makes for a very juicy historical drama. Whether the theory is true or not, it is still possible that that happened, and brought Anne down to the chopping block.

I thought Gregory was a great story teller and brought these historical figures to life in this book. My only problem with it was that I thought the pace was a tad inconsistent, and that made some parts of the book drag on a little too slowly. The last quarter of the book was great pacing, though. If I come across her other books of the Tudors, I’d likely read it.

Book Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places Book Cover

Dark Places Book Cover

Dark Places is a mystery thriller on the classic case of who-dun-it. The story begins in the perspective of Libby Day, the sole survivor of the Kinnakee farm murders – the night her mother and two older sisters were killed in their own home. The murderer? The brother, Ben Day. Ben was believed to be into Satanic cults and Satanic worship, and it was easy to target him as the main suspect. Ben had no alibi for that night, and little Libby was the primary witness who said she saw him kill the Days. Even though the testimony came from a 7 year old, this was strong enough to place Ben in prison for life. As the story progresses in the present day, Libby, now 31 years old, and us readers begin to find out that that night was not as simple as Ben Day killing his entire family simply because. Libby finally faces her fear of that night (her Dark Place) and investigates the mystery behind her family’s death.

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Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief didn’t really hit home as it did for so many other readers that I’ve seen on GoodReads. The Book Thief is the first novel I’ve read that takes place in World War II that isn’t non-fiction. I’ve always enjoyed reading about this period of time, not because World War II happened, but because of the many components that caused it to happen was intriguing in a painstakingly, twisted way. I picked up this book because of the interesting premise  and because of the many good reviews I’ve heard about it. Unfortunately, I didn’t come to enjoy it as much as I thought I would even though this is a good, good book. I do recommend it to anyone interested in reading a piece on historical fiction. The Book Thief is written from the perspective of Death/Grim Reaper, and I suspect that because of this, I just was not so emotionally attached to the main characters.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Cover found on Wikipedia.org.

During WWII, Death makes his rounds collecting souls from those who died, and this particular story focuses on Liesel, a poor German girl living in a outskirts of Munich. Death constantly premeditates important plot points – the time when Liesel steals her first book, the upcoming death of Rudy, the death of Papa, etc. Death’s narration interrupts the flow of the otherwise third-person ‘neutral’ perspective when he gives these previews, and I can’t quite make up my mind whether I like this or not. On one hand, I do not get the element of surprise and am fully prepared to find out what happens to Liesel’s friends and family. On the other hand, this is war. What else can you expect to come out of this treacherous period of our history?

The key element I like about The Book Thief is that it focuses its attention on the lesser talked about folks – the poor Germans who live in the countryside. Those who are just trying to make ends meet. Those who do not really give much of a pig’s butt whether Jews live or die. These are the folks who join the Nazi Party so their family is not punished. They join because they know better than to resist. For me, this is the more interesting parts of the book and is what keeps me moving along. The Book Thief is not a page-turning, fast-paced novel, but it is one where you can pick back up at any point and still remember what happened before.

Book Review: Gone Girl

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I recently finished a novel by Gilliian Flynn called Gone Girl. It is the first book I’ve read by this author, and a quick skimming of her work shows that she writes mostly in the mystery and suspense genre. Gone Girl is written in the first-person narrative and switches perspectives between Nick Dunne and his wife Amy Dunne. The couple has always been perceived by neighbors and family as a loving couple. “They are perfect for each other,” her mom would say. On the day of Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy is nowhere to be found. Nick came home to their house to find the door gaping open, the iron left on, and a living room with overturned furniture. Here begins a story of who’d dun it – Where is Amy? Is the culprit before our very eyes – Nick?!

I breezed through this piece of fiction like it was a piece of cake. The story line is easy to follow and the writing is easy to understand. Because the characters tell their side of the story in first-person, I soon found myself sympathizing with one character more than the other, rooting them on. But, like any good mystery novel, you discover more details and flaws about the character you so want to “win” this, and then you’re left with not knowing what to believe any more. This is one of those books, where you have to second guess your hypotheses as you move along and gather clues.

SPOILERS TO FOLLOW:

At the end, this book made me think, and I love books that make me think. This book, particularly, made me think of how stupid Nick’s decision is and how Amy still has him wrapped under her belt. Of all the things he said – “come back home, bitch, and I will kill you” [my paraphrase], etc. – he was just one sad puppy in the end. The book has plenty of GOTCHA! moments, and the last one was a pretty good wrap-up and solidifies how pathetic Nick’s situation is.

Why couldn’t he divorce this evil b**** and have children with another woman?!