Category Archives: europe

The Nightingale

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nightingale

When I first started reading The Nightingale I was immediately reminded of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Both novels are very similar, in some respects. They both take place in France during WWII and deal with the German occupation of the country. Both are tragic tales about the courage of ordinary people who become extraordinary.

The Nightingale is a novel about family. Two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, have been torn apart by the tragic death of their mother and their father’s inability to take care of them. As they grow older the rift continues to deepen. Vianne marries early and starts a family as her way of coping with the loss, while Isabelle escapes from various boarding schools making her way back to their father in Paris before being sent out again.

The war brings the two sisters together again in their family home in Carriveau. Isabelle is determined to stand out and help the French Resistance, while Vianne is determine to hide in the background and take care of her young daughter. But naturally, nothing goes as planned in war.

The sisters soon find themselves doing things they never thought they would to protect those they love and find the glory they wish to achieve. They realize things about each other and themselves that they had refused to see before. And find out that maybe the other sisters’ way of thinking may not be so wrong after all.

Isabelle becomes further and further involved in the Resistance, earning the name The Nightingale. Vianne becomes a force herself trying to protect the children of Carriveau and surrounding areas.

I don’t want to say too much however. This is a novel that you must experience for yourself. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking. I did indeed cry for about the last quarter of the novel. There is so much tragedy that is all the more heartbreaking because it happened. People’s capacity for hope is an amazing thing. Even in the bleakest of times there is something to strive for.

Rating: 5/5

Stay tuned for the next, and last, installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

 

A Re-Return

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Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel that I started reading but didn’t finish. There aren’t many novels that I start and don’t finish simply because I have a compulsive need to finish every novel even if I don’t particularly care for it. In this case, I just couldn’t read the novel fast enough. I checked Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale out from the library many moons ago and started to read it but couldn’t finish in time before I had to return the novel. I’ve placed a hold on the novel and have finally got it back so that I can finish it.

I can’t wait to finish the novel and see what happens to each of the characters. I have a feeling that this is one novel that will bring me to tears. The other Hannah novel I read for this challenge, The Winter Garden, had me crying and I feel this novel will be very similar.

Stay tuned for the full review of The Nightingale. Happy reading!

Rivers of London

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Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch reads like a hybrid between a Doctor Who episode and a police procedural. In a way it’s not surprising since Ben Aaronovitch has written two serials for Doctor Who about Daleks.

Rivers of London is the first book in a series by Aaronovitch about police detective/wizard Peter Grant. It doesn’t take the novel long to reveal it’s magic elements to the reader. The first element introduced is the ghost Nicholas Wallpenny. Grant sees Wallpenny while investigating another crime and Wallpennt gives Peter details about the crime. The crime itself has it’s supernatural elements as well. A man seems to appear and disappear without ever being caught on camera.

As Peter delves deeper into the mystery he is confronted by the head wizard in the police department, Nightingale, and asked to join as his apprentice. Grant then becomes the first English apprentice wizard in over 70 years. As the apprentice, Peter must practice and hone his magical abilities as well as solve two seemingly unconnected cases.

In one case he must find an entity that is possessing people and forcing them to kill, and in the other Peter must make peace between the gods of the River Thames. As the novel unfolds the connection between the cases becomes clearer.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this novel. I loved the protagonist, Peter Grant, and the way he interacts with those around him. I did, however, find this novel a bit hard to follow in terms of the plot. It read very much like a TV show, abrupt cuts and all. But whereas in a TV show you have visuals that connect these scenes together, in the book it left me a bit lost.

Even with a few plot holes, I would love to read the other books in the series and see what’s next for Peter Grant and Nightingale.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Upstairs, Downstairs

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Upstairs, Downstairs

From the first, I couldn’t get images of Downton Abbey out of my head while reading this book. In parts, it’s a mash-up of Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs about the lives of staff and their wealthy patrons and how they intersect and influence the other. The House at Riverton has all the scandal and drama of Downton Abbey and quite a bit of heart. Told from the perspective of house maid Grace, the story covers about a decade in the lives of the Hartford family. From the fancies and dreams of youth to the traumatizing events of WWI, the characters grow and change with the changing times. However, the passage of time in the book was a bit jumbled for my taste. I never was sure exactly when it was or how old the main characters were supposed to be at that point which caused some head scratching on my part.

Morton’s forumla is definitely starting her and, perhaps because she’s still finding her rhythm, not nearly as strong as in her later books. The big reveals in the book aren’t all that shocking because of Morton’s constant foreshadowing the reader pretty much knows what to expect. Perhaps most jarring is that effort it takes Morton to arrange her main character, Grace, into the other characters secret lives, even listening in at keyholes, to keep the story moving forward. In fact, Grace is probably the best part of the book. She’s the best fleshed out character of the bunch. I found myself far more interested in the little snippets we gleamed about her life than the lives of the Hartfords. Grace was the quietly subversive one and definitely the one who lived what the other characters only dreamed about.

Despite the little hiccups in the book, I enjoyed it immensely. I like Morton’s formula and she does it well. I especially loved the small scene in the book featuring Agatha Christie.

Rating: 4/5.

For those of you wondering what’s next in the battle here’s a hint. It’s going to be a memoir! Happy reading!!

The Leopard Has Arrived

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The Leopard Has Arrived

For the next battle, a book recommended by a friend. For this challenge I’ve chosen Jo Nesbo’s novel The Leopard. One of my good friends from college recommended this book to me because she knows that I like mysteries and scary books. And this one looks like a doozy. I’ve never read a book by this author before but am excited to check it out. I’ve read a few Scandinavian mysteries before, most notably The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and have loved the grit and suspense in them. The pacing is so different from a lot of American mysteries and thrillers, slower and centered around psychological suspense.

I’m a big fan of reading novels that take place outside of my home state and country. It’s so interesting to read about how other cultures and people relate to each other and how their environment affects mood and pace. I can’t wait to dive right into the Norwegian winter and see what happens.

Stay tuned for the review of The Leopard! What book are you reading next?