Meadowlands traces the lives of the four Barsham siblings through the great sea change of the Great War in England, hitting every major social justice issue of the era along the way. The result is a bit jumbled and distant, falling short of the billed “saga,” but a pleasant and quick read all the same.
Does the f-word ever throw off your reading experience? Or do you have a young reader in your house and want to ensure age appropriate content?
Clean Reader app is available on both Android and iOS and tries to clean up strong language in books. With three filter levels from mild censorship to the original book, Clean Reader find offensive words like bitch to lesser versions like witch. They can take words describing a woman’s body parts and change it to “bottom”.
Some authors are upset that the app changes their original work (Read comments from authors on CNET). But the makers say the app leaves the work original, but just changes what’s displayed on the screen, according to the CNET article.
From the author of the hugely popular Water for Elephants comes another poignant historical drama: At the Water’s Edge. Maddy, a carefree and somewhat lackadaisical wife, and her husband, young socialite Ellis, have burnt all the bridges they have in Philadelphia with carelessness and drinking. Now Ellis and his best friend, both who have avoided being drafted into the war, decide to earn a name for themselves chasing the Loch Ness Monster – dragging Maddy with them to Scotland.
The Scottish Highlands provide a perfect WWII setting and an distinctive supporting cast. At the Water’s Edge has the perfect mix of plot, characters and prose, not to mention a multi-genre appeal from history and romance to women’s lit or coming of age stories. Gruen has a knack for writing historically compelling, deeply personal novels that leave a mark.
Typical American History recounts the Civil War from two separate sides, and Stephanie Grace Whitson tells a great PG-romance from the view of two women in Missouri stuck at opposite ends of the conflict. Maggie, the only female in the Malone Irish-immigrant family, has two brothers who have joined the Union. In contrast, Elizabeth Blair has served as hostess for her wealthy brother, who’s political ambitions drive him to create a local militia for the Confederacy. I love the female perspective of a usually male dominated war – and paired with the contrasting women make this a romance with historical depth.
In Breath of Scandal, the now-successful Jade Sperry returns to her southern hometown to face those who stole her innocence years before. Typical of Brown’s works, the story is well written and fast-paced. But while the topic benefits from her deft handling, it was descriptive well beyond the scope I expected of teenage sexuality and downfall to be a book enjoyed.
As daughter (disguised as a boy) to her desert wonderer-merchant father, Adira has had a hard-working but protected life in her father’s caravan. When two Northmen – one mysterious, one friendly and charming – join the caravan, Adira is swept into a new life based on survival, selfish-ambition and love. Angels at the Gate brings Biblical times to life, albeit fictionally, and puts a realistic play on the early story of Abraham and Lot in Genesis. I particularly enjoyed how T.K. Thorne portrays the challenges of a woman during the early Biblical times. It’s a fabulous plot driven story of adventure and culture with a touch of romance.
Note: It’s interesting to read this along with excerpts from Genesis. While Angels at the Gate is fiction, it has some factual inclusions and gives a dramatic portrayal of Biblical times – as noted in the back of the book.
Magnolia City is really two books in one: the first, a choice; the second, all the consequences and fulfillillment of a dream. Together, this one has a bit of everything, from romance, family secrets, a quest, and a love triangle, to a touch of magical realism, a la old Mexico. Interesting characters, great storytelling, and most of all, rendering of a sense of a place in certain time of expectation.
The Sweetness of Forgetting is weaved by a gifted storyteller, making something that could be simple chic lit a nice plot and character- driven page turner. I won’t spoil the story’s unfolding with a summary of the engaging premise that drives the story at the outset, and though it does run a bit trite in the end, it is overall a nice, heartwarming read.
“Brilliant” and “life-changing” boasts the cover, and I’m not sure I can do much better, except maybe to add life-affirming. The Book Thief is uniquely narrated by a powerless Death, who must pause in his work–mandated by far reach of World War II– to notice one little girl and tell her story. Overall, the takeaway is this: in an era when it’s difficult to keep up with books before they get made into a movie, this one is worth catching. It’s disheartening and uplifting all at the same time, and it stays with you long after the last page is turned.