Monday, March 26, 2012

Good reads

I got in a little bit of a book slump the past few months - reading things that were entertaining, but not overwhelming and quickly forgotten.

But the last few I've read have been so good I couldn't put them down! I was talking with a co-worker today about how some books can reignite your passion for reading, and these past three really have. I was sad when each of them was over and can't recommend them enough.

"Drowning Ruth" by Christina Schwarz
With multiple narrators and an anachronistic timeline, the telling of this tale can be a bit jarring. But the way the mystery slowly unfolds keeps you coming back for more. It tells the story of Amanda whose much-beloved younger sister, Mathilda, recently drowned, leaving Amanda to care for her young niece, Ruth. The whole book drives toward learning how, and why, Mathilda drowned, the secrets that Amanda has been keeping, and how they affect everyone around her. A brilliant, though not entirely surprising story, and makes for  a quick read. 
"When We Were Strangers" by Pamela Schoenewaldt
This one started fairly slowly, so I didn't expect to be completely sucked in. Set in the early 1900s, the story's heroine is Irma, a plain looking girl from a remote Italian mountain village. After losing most of her family members and hearing of the wonders of America, she decides to journey across the sea in search of a better life. Schoenewaldt does an incredible job of putting a new spin on the immigrant-coming-to-America story, painting a very real picture of how Irma traveled to the coast, the miserable journey across the Atlantic, and the skepticism and prejudices new immigrants faced in America. At times rather graphic, you start to wonder if anything good will ever happen to Irma, and you want her to find happiness some how, some way. The strong characters in this novel propel it forward - it's not really about immigration, but about starting over and building your own family.
"The Winter Sea" by Susanna Kearsley
The best book I've read in a long time. Not a short book (well over 500 pages), I couldn't put this down and may have stayed up ridiculously too late one night reading it....

It's one of those novel-within-a-novel type stories. We follow a successful historical novelist, Carrie, as she attempts to write a new book about the Jacobite attempted invasion of 1708. We get to see her process as her characters "speak" to her and something a little supernatural happens.... (I'm still not sure how I feel about this particular aspect of the story, but I'm willing to overlook it). At the same time, we get to read the novel that Carrie ultimately writes, which has it all - intrigue, history, battles, nobility, family secrets, and romance. It's truly an amazing love story and I may have actually gasped out loud at the book's final plot twist.

I'm feeling a bit sad now that I've completed the stack of books on my nightstand and hungry for something else to read. Anyone read anything lately that's left a great impression?


  1. I found your blog because I was looking for a picture link of Drowning Ruth. I was reading your side column about your family and noticed your comment about Oli loving chocolate, Chocolate is really bad for dogs and can actually kill them. Just wanted to let you know since you obviously love them very much.

  2. Haha, thanks for the comment, Jodie, but I'm very well aware. As someone who neither knows me (nor apparently anything about being facetious), you probably missed that that was more of a commentary on what a misbehaved dog he is.