Tag: book-blog

Currently Reading (August ’20)

Currently Reading (August ‘20)

These are the books I wish to finish reading this month. Maybe I will get to read more as well if possible. My reading list for this month.

  1. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is a horror novella. The story is about a young woman who gets a job as a governess for two mysterious kids on an estate which seems to be haunted. I just started reading it and it has a gothic feel to it because of the descriptions. The young girl who is the narrator of the story is unnamed so far. It is an intriguing read.

2. Walden by Henry David Thoreau.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau is a book that details the social experiment Thoreau carried by living in a secluded cabin for two years. I am only a couple of chapters in but, it has a philosophical undertone to it. It talks about the author’s experience with nature and living simply, being self-reliant. It is a little difficult to read because there is a lot of symbolism and depth to the writing.

3. My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin.

My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin is a story about an American Heiress, Cora Cash, who travels to England with her mother to find an aristocratic match. The world in England is different than what she is accustomed to and when she marries Ivo, an eligible but secretive bachelor, her life changes. I enjoyed reading this book so far though I have trouble relating to Cora’s character which I hope will happen eventually. It seems like a fun read.

4. Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts.

Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts is the first book of the Circle Trilogy. A sorcerer named Hoyt loses his brother in 12th century Ireland to evil forces. He is chosen for a mission by the goddess Morrigan and is told he will be joined by five others to form a team to destroy Lillith. Nora Roberts has a way of blending fantasy elements with the reality that it seems grounded. The story and the characters are interesting. I finished almost seventy pages at one go when I started reading.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book covers above.

Book Review: Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly).

Lilac Girls

– Martha Hall Kelly.

This is a book I have been meaning to read for a while but it wasn’t easy to find. Finally, I read it and it was worth the wait. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is set in the time before, during, and after World War II. The story of this novel is based on a true account of Caroline Ferriday, a socialite in New York who helped the Polish women of Ravensbruck camp. The story of Lilac Girls focuses on three main characters – Kasia, Caroline, and Herta who come from different backgrounds and countries but their lives intersect. Caroline helps the medical experiment survivors from Ravensbruck by bringing them for treatment to America almost a decade after the war is over.

Caroline is an ex-actress who comes from a wealthy family and volunteers at the French Consulate in New York City before the war. Caroline and her family have a strong sense of their French roots and enjoy many traditions of their culture. It is also the reason Caroline works dedicatedly at the consulate. Kasia is an 18-year-old girl living happily with her family and friends in Lublin, Poland until Nazi Germany invades Poland on 1st September in 1939 and her life is turned upside down. Herta is studying medicine in Nazi Germany and dreams of being a surgeon but there are restrictions for women in the medical field under the Reich. She is ambitious and determined from the very beginning and has complete faith in Hitler’s vision for her country.

The story is pretty straightforward in terms of timelines and events. The novel is divided into three parts. The first part gives an insight into the background of the characters and this really helped me understand the motivations and personalities of these women. The second part was difficult to read because the main focus of this is the course of their lives during the war. It is not outwardly described in a gory or violent way but it is more about the emotional reactions which get to you. The third part of the story is Caroline, Kasia, and Herta’s life after the war ends.

The characters in the book are what make this novel unique. Caroline does everything in her power to help French children during the war. She does so at a personal cost at times and even when things turn hopeless she keeps doing what she does because she knows this is the least she can do to help. Kasia is a rebellious girl but she wants to help change the situation in Poland. She starts helping the Polish underground in Lublin with the help of her friend and her crush Pietrik. One day she is followed by a German officer after doing an assignment she begs Pietrik for and is arrested. Kasia’s mother and sister Zuzzana, Pietrik, and his sister Luiza who have come to collect the envelope from Kasia are all arrested along with her.

Ravensbruck is where Kasia ends up with her sister and mother, a labor camp in Germany for women. I didn’t know much about this camp and the medical experiments conducted there until I read this book. These women stick together, helping each other stay safe that too at a personal cost. It’s heartwarming to see them help each other this way in a situation where one wrong move meant your death. The experiments were inhumane and the way is written makes us understand the gravity of it. It is at the camp that Kasia’s mother, Halina, is taken under Herta’s wing as a nurse and where Halina dies. This is the only time Herta shows some emotion. Herta is not a fictional character and is based on a camp doctor in Ravensbruck. She believes in what she is doing and it seems like she doesn’t care but somewhere deep down she feels a little remorse for her actions. Most of the time though she is detached and cold focusing only on her medical research with no thought of the human cost.

Caroline has a personal connection to France during the war, a married actor she falls in love with named Paul who is also taken to a camp when France is invaded but survives. Kasia comes back with her sister to Lublin where their father still lives and has trouble adjusting to normal life. She finds Pietrik and he is having a hard time too but Kasia is trying to forget but her guilt about her mother makes her angrier and angrier. Pietrik and Kasia get married and have a daughter who is named Halina after her mother but Kasia doesn’t want her to be named Halina. She snaps at everyone about the tiniest things but slowly realizes she needs to let go. With Caroline’s insistence, Kasia goes to Germany to confront Herta who was released early from prison. Once she confronts Herta and finds out what happened to her mother at the camp that she is finally able to move on with her life and leave all the darkness behind.

Martha Hall Kelly has been able to give a lot of heart to the story through her characters. Kasia and her family are the fictional characters but the story revolves around them in a way and, they are instrumental in telling the story of those Polish women who suffered at Ravensbruck during the war and treated unjustly after the war. It is a beautiful and inspiring story yet it is so sad and heartbreaking.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Currently Reading (April ’20)

Currently Reading (April ’20).

My reading list for this month.

  1. Black Hills by Nora Roberts.

The story is set in South Dakota with the backdrop of the Black hills range. It is a story about Lil Chance and Cooper Sullivan. I have always enjoyed reading books written by Nora Roberts and I have read many of them over the years. I started this book a couple of days back and it’s keeping me interested. The plot of the story is going different than my assumptions of it but in a good way. I might finish this one pretty quickly.

2. Just For Now by Anny Glines.

The fourth book in the Sea Breeze series by Abbi Glines. I don’t think I have read the books in the correct order but I have read them so I have a bit of context going into this book. Amanda has had a crush on Preston since she was sixteen and he is her brother’s best friend. I am enjoying it so far. The characters are from different worlds and have completely different issues. It’s a feel-good book, perfect for the weekend.

3.French Short Stories of 19th and 20th Century.

This book I have is a collection of short stories by French writers in English. Over the last week, I have read a few of these stories and they are amazing. Some of the writers in there I hadn’t heard of before which was the reason I picked up this book. Unlike a full-length novel, it’s much easier to read a short story a day especially when ten other things are going on. I am glad I bought this book; so far every story I read has been amazing.

4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennesee Williams.

Williams was never a part of my syllabus of Literature in college but my teachers always recommended her plays. I finally got myself a copy of A Streetcar Named Desire and I am excited to read it. I haven’t made much progress because I started it last night. I am intrigued to see how the play unfolds. The writing and characters have already managed to capture my interest.

*Buy a copy on Amazon by clicking on the books covers.

Book Review: Little Women (Louisa May Alcott).

Little Women

– Louisa May Alcott

I saw the Little Women movie recently and I realized how many things from the book I have forgotten since I read it years ago. So, I decided that I will re-read Little Women. There were some aspects I remembered and some I didn’t but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless.  Little Women is a story of the March family focusing on the four daughters Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. The story is set in Concord, Massachusetts in 19th century.

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The story is divided in two parts. Part one begins in the year 1860 when Mr. March volunteers for the Union army and leaves his family behind to join the civil war. This part of the story follows the lives of the March sisters during this year. Jo is assisting her aged aunt March. Meg and Jo go to a part at one of their rich neighbors where Jo meets Laurie and his grandfather along with his tutor John become a part of the March family. Beth contracts scarlet fever and Amy is sent to live with Aunt March as a precaution.

The part two is set three years later. Jo is earning money by getting her stories published in New York and working as a governess at a boarding house where she meets German professor Bhaer. Meg is married to John and they have twins. Amy is in Europe with Aunt March where she is learning art and meets Laurie there. Beth’s health starts declines and Jo comes back home to take care of her sister.

The majority of the story is told through the eyes of Jo. The character of Jo is so relatable. She is considered too bold and outspoken and tomboyish in those times but all that makes her more likable. The difference between the four sisters is clear from the beginning Meg is traditional, Jo is bold, Beth is shy and Amy is vain and can be self-centered. The themes of familial and romantic love run throughout the story and they are touching. Marmee (Mrs. March) is such an amaing role model for her daughters and all of them share a good bond with her; the can talk about everything and anything with her.

The favorite part of the story for me will always be the dynamic between Jo and Laurie. The first time I read it, I had cried and well some things don’t change. They seem so perfect together and I felt so bad for Laurie when Jo rejects him. Her concerns are completely valid but it is still heartbreaking and I never expected it happen. When Jo confesses to Marmee how she is not in love with Laurie in any romantic way, it’s a hard pill to swallow. The whole journey of each of the character is satisfying as you get to the end. The point in the story where Beth dies is so emotional and devastating to her family and the readers.

I was a little shocked by the pairing of Laurie and Amy but it in a way it makes sense. The story ends on a somewhat of a happy note. Beth’s death leaves a huge impact but rest of the family band together. Jo gets married to Professor Bhaer. Mr. March is finally home. Aunt March leaves Jo her mansion where she and Bhaer open a school. In the end, Marmee’s 60th birthday is celebrated with her husband, her three daughters, their husbands and her five grandchildren.

Little Women is one of my favorite books but strangely this is only the second time that I have read it. I love the flow of the writing and the story. All the characters add something to the story and are well rounded and relatable. Jo is my favorite. The story is happy and sad is equal measures I feel.