Review: The Book of Summer by Michelle Gable

New England family saga set in a beach town – my cup of tea! Author Michelle Gable puts the reader on Cissy’s bicycle for a Nantucket journey through time. The Cliff House holds memories and secrets – and Gable does a phenomenal job weaving them together. With flashbacks to the 1940s, we find out what the Cliff House meant to Cissy’s mother … then fast forward to find out what makes it so hard for Cissy to leave. 

My favorites parts were the Bess parts. Love that Cissy’s daughter came to “save” her from herself -and Mother Nature.  Bess is a woman I can identify with – good head on her shoulders, self-reliant, smart. When she’s dealt a raw deal, Bess puts it aside to help her mom. And when high school ex boyfriend Evan comes into the picture, Bess lets herself lean on him just a little bit. 

I’m not a flashback kinda reader, so I wish this was actually two separate books. I loved the Ruby-Hattie friendship and the marriage issues described in the ’40s and could’ve read about that all day long.  I also totally enjoyed some of the contemporary romance going on in the 2010s – as well as the mother-daughter dynamic and the environmental issues that arose on the island cliffs. But mostly the romance. 🙂

-Calliope 

Buy THE BOOK OF SUMMER

Review – The Good German by Joseph Kanon

147326There have been thousands of books written about WWII, but not as many focus on the immediate aftermath, let alone set in immediate post-war Berlin. In The Good German, Joseph Kanon explores the many different facets of war, the intricacies of motive, and the ethical dilemmas one can be faced with when carrying out actions in the name of love and war.

The plot follows Jake, an American reporter that is on his way to Berlin to write an article on the post-war efforts to re-build the city. Once in Berlin, Jake stumbles upon the body of an American soldier and finds evidence that all may not be what it seems. Along the way, Jake encounters a host of characters that he will later reunite with further in the story. The plot essentially is split up between a love story and a mystery; Jake has a secondary reason for going to Berlin, which is to seek out his former Girlfriend, Lena, who he had met on a previous trip. Rest assured though, there are many plot twists and diversions in order to save it from becoming a two dimensional experience.

What I loved most about this book, apart from the entertaining plot, was that it really made you question your already strongly held morals. It presents both sides of an argument and doesn’t necessarily side with either argument. What you once thought hypocritical, might actually make sense. What you once found acceptable might now be unacceptable. What you once found abhorrent might now be not so abhorrent. There is no right or wrong answer set in stone. If you want a book that will question and challenge your views/morals and not a cozy mystery that will sit you around a camp fire, with you signing kumbyah, and present you with a box of answers with a nice bow tie on it (I don’t knock any that type of book – sometimes we need that!), then do yourself a favour and pick up The Good German.
Hope to see you next week for another review!
~ Pegasus.
The Good German

Review – Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

11925514My fellow muses are probably going to banish me to the stables for this, but I have to begin this review by stating that YA fiction is not a genre that I read or enjoy…. Yes, I can feel the death stares permeating through my skin as I type! However, I like a challenge, and so I decided to read a YA, yes you read correctly, a YA novel called Code Name Verity. Actually, truth be told, I listened to it on audio, rather than read, but same difference!
Frustratingly, this is one of those novels where you can’t give too much of a synopsis due to spoilers, so this will be brief: WWII, two young women, one of whom is captured in Nazi occupied France. The novel begins with “Verity” writing a confession in a prison cell, and thus begins the tale. Through this epistolary novel, Verity tells a story of Queenie and her friend, Maddie, and their experiences being stationed together during the war. The story is split between 1st person narrations (Verity’s experience in the prison), 3rd person narration (the story of Queenie and Maddie’s friendship) and the narration is primarily shared between Verity and Maddie.
Listening on audio, you get the added advantage of hearing different voices for different characters. This helped a lot, and was appropriate due to the style in which the novel is written. As I mentioned above, I don’t usually read YA, but this one was so different. It had the usual components of a YA novel – very little swearing, not really any sexual situations, and no gratuitous violence. However, this one presented certain situations in an extremely frank and honest manner, without sensationalising and gratuitousness: E.G., the interrogation scenes were very frightening and horrific, but they were honest, and didn’t feel like they were exploiting it. It’s hard to explain, but I felt like it read as an adult book, but at the same time, it would still be appropriate for an older teenager.
If you do decide to pick this story up, which I highly recommend that you do, be prepared to find yourself laughing, possibly crying, gasping, cringing, and recoiling. It will hit on most of your emotions and it will leave you asking yourself what if? What if you were captured by an enemy agent? Would you divulge crucial secrets? Would you do anything to survive? Would you break? Elizabeth Wein has written a fresh, unique and interesting WWII story that is brutal, honest, emotive, and effective. Do yourself a favour and read this gem of a novel before some big film studio ‘effs it up and makes a piss poor adaptation.
Enjoy ~ Pegasus
Code Name Verity (Edgar Allen Poe Awards. Best Young Adult (Awards))