October 5th, 2012

Reading - La Liseuse

Books #29-30

29. Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb, Immortal In Death, 296 pages, Mystery, Paperback, 1995 (In Death, Book 3).

Lieutenant Eve Dallas brushes with the world of high fashion, drug use, and murder – all because she shopped for a wedding dress with her best friend and local performance artist, Mavis. An altercation at the fitting between the designer, and his former girlfriend, a high-profile model, makes it so Mavis, as his current love, the prime suspect when the model is murdered viciously in his studio. Dallas takes lead on the murder, certain that her determination to see justice done will free her friend. But it becomes even more dangerous when the connections to a very addictive, potentially very profitable, drug come to light and more people start dying to protect its deadly secrets. I love this book, this series, but it was very jarring to see a police division called “Illegals”. I think of police dealing with illegal aliens that is so much in the news now, where in the book it means illegal substances – drugs. It’s 2058 (or thereabouts), and the future has different priorities (and most all people on security camera somewhere; there’s precious little privacy unless you are very rich or very poor).

30. Art Spiegelman, The Complete Maus, Illustrated by Art Spiegelman, 296 pages, Graphic Novel, Hardback, 2011 (25th Anniversary Edition).

This incredibly powerful graphic novel collects Maus I: My Father Bleeds History and Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began. Art Spiegelman recounts his father’s story of his time in Poland during World War II, his time in Auschwitz, and his later years in the United States. It’s a difficult story to read, and an important personal story. It’s annoying, trying to get the story out of his dad along with the author. It’s heartbreaking, the losses, the misery, the sheer luck of surviving – just to find that surviving can be its own burden. I really cannot explain how much this moved me. I’m a coward; after Diary of Anne Frank, I do very little reading on the Holocaust – it saddens me with how awful it is. But it is important to understand, and this approach made it easier to wrap my mind around.
Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Although work has really kicked me in the head this week, last night before going to sleep, I managed to finish reading Osprey Campaign #245: Demyansk 1942 - 43: The Frozen Fortress, an in-depth discussion of the battles on the flank of the German push to take Moscow during WWII. I've long had an interest in WWII history, but this particular campaign had escaped my notice. I found the work to be clear and concise. The artwork, though, and the choice of photos, were underwhelming.

Book 35

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 35
35 Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey The Countess of Carnavon (England, 2011)

Encouraged by the success of the television series Downton Abbey, the author of the book decided to write about the life of Lady Almina (known as the Countess of Carnavon) and her family, as they are the inspiration behind Cora Crawley and other characters in the show. While Dowton is only loosely based on their lives, the majority of the book discusses how Highclere Castle was indeed turned into a hospital during the Great War and how Lady Almina became an exemplary nurse.

As a fan of the show and a WWI buff, I was happy to find this book in my cousin's husband's library. It was a quick, easy read that did not impress me very much. I do not regret reading it because it is always good to know the truth behind fiction and that such hospitals were created during the war, but the writing style was very blend and their lives busy but fairly uncontroversial.
If you're a fan of the show and have some spare time, I'd say "why not?" If not, there's no point for you to read this.

dark rose

Book 129: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Book 129: When She Woke.
Author: Hillary Jordan, 2011
Genre: Dystopia. Science Fiction. Religion. Feminism. GLBT themes.
Other Details: Hardcover. 344 pages.

Hannah Payne's life has been devoted to church and family. But after she's convicted of murder, she awakens in a new body to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new "Chromes"—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, says the state of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love. - synopsis from author's website.

I found this re-imagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Scarlet Letter' set in the near future a compelling read. The dystopia imagined is not that far removed from what might be possible if certain factions of Christian Fundamentalists had their way in the United States.

I felt that Hannah's journey from first waking as a Chrome through to the final pages very organic. Her need to find a safe haven from the hostility that Chromes face from society is also reflected in a journey of self-discovery in which she begins to question the values imposed upon her by her religion to seek her own answers and discover a sense of purpose.

I did not consider the novel anti-Christian as much as questioning certain tenets of evangelical Christianity along with exploring the dangers of a theocracy. However, some readers may be offended by its themes and liberal bias.

Hilary Jordan's web page for 'When She Woke' - includes excerpt and cover art from various editions.