Katherine Howe’s Conversion


Conversion

Title: Conversion
Author: Katherine Howe
ISBN: 978-0399167775
Length: 432 Pages
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: I often recommend Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane to readers seeking a good book to read. Of course, when Howe’s Conversion arrived in the order department at Harris County Public Library, I placed a request on it.

Summary : Howe offers us two points of view. The first belongs to Colleen Rowley is a stressed out high senior attending the prestigious St. Joan’s Academy in the year 2012. Various classmates of Colleen’s succumb to odd behavior – tics, panic, hysteria, etc. On top of that, a popular teacher mysteriously departs. All of this just happens to take place in Danvers, Massachusetts. The other point of view comes from a recalcitrant, grown up Ann Putnam. In 1706, Ann builds up the courage to publicly confess to her part in the witch hunt known as the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I rediscovered that Danvers used to be Salem Village.

What I Liked: I liked the Easter eggs referring to one of my favorite books – The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Also, I felt Colleen and her friends were genuine, well-conceived characters.

What I Disliked: I wanted a few of the loose ends to be tied. Maybe there will be a sequel?

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

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Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (Bloggerversary Challenge)


Mansfield Park (Penguin Classics) by Jane Austen | Jorie's Store by Amazon

Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen, Johanna Ward
ISBN: 9781441796394
Length: 16 hours, 47 minutes
Publication Date: Mar 08, 2005
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Genre: Novel of Manners
Source: Harris County Public Library

Bloggerversary Giveaway

Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: Alongside annual challenges I inflict upon myself, I also like reading at least one Jane Austen novel. This year, I added Austen’s Mansfield Park to the ballot. Mansfield Park received the most votes (out of all contenders) and I requested it from Harris County Public Library (HCPL). I listened to the eAudio on my Nook.

Summary (A little background): Austen sets up the story with three sisters: Lady Bertram, Mrs. Norris, and Mrs. Price. Lady Bertram married well. Mrs. Norris married a parson. Mrs. Price, however, married a naval officer. Shortly after the Prices’ marriage, Mr. Price becomes wounded and then pensioned as a Lieutenant at half pay. (Reminding me of the Three Little Pigs!) The Prices follow this by having nine children. Affecting the appearance of a caring parson’s wife, Mrs. Norris suggests to Lady Bertram that the Bertrams take on one of the Price kids to live with the Bertrams at their home, Mansfield Park. Ultimately, ten year old Fanny Price goes to live at Mansfield Park.

(Story Time): Fanny grows up with her four older cousins – Tom, Edmund, Maria (pronounced Mariah), and Julia. With the fine exception of Edmund, the Bertrams treat Fanny like a poor, stupid relation. Her Aunt Norris is probably worse on this front than the Bertrams. As years pass, Fanny’s gratitude for Edmund shifts to a deep romantic love. Things remain the same until the Crawford Siblings appear on the scene. Herein lies the discovery of Fanny’s true character.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Mansfield Park stands out among Austen’s bibliography. Austen’s works bridge the Age of Reason and Romanticism but this particular novel leans more towards pragmatism.

What I Liked: I prefer Fanny to Emma any day! While she and Edmund may seem like a set of wet blankets, I find her sweet, clever, and authentic.

What I Disliked: Well, some of these characters were absolute jerks! They think one act of altruism covers them for life.

RR - Green

 

 Rainbow Rating: Green – Parental Guidance 

Song: J.S. BACH, Harpsichord Concertos BWV1052, BWV1053, BWV1056, BWV1054, I Barocchisti

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TBTB (Throwback Thursday Books) – Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee | LibraryThing

 

I doubt I can go more #tbtb than Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The first time I read this classic, it was an audiobook. I was probably in elementary school and could easily identify with the narrator, Scout Finch. I read the book again a few years later. I believe it was a version that looked like the cover to the left. It belonged to my dad and it fell apart in my hands. Thus, I bought a newer copy to replace Dad’s old one.

TBRs – Isak Dineson’s Out of Africa


Out of Africa and Shadows on the Grass by Isak Dineson | LibraryThing

Isak Dineson/Karen Blixen’s literary classic is one of the Bloggerversary Challenge winners.

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African American History Month – Frederick Douglass


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Authors.” It’s also in honor African American History Month.

Frederick Douglass was the quintessential voice of his day. Born in the slave state of Maryland, Douglass seized opportunities to learn. He became literate and escaped slavery. Douglass wrote of his experiences , offering a first person account of the atrocities he withstood.

In his work Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, I was moved by his differentiation between “the Christianity of Christ” and  “the Christianity of this land.” Douglass opened doors for many with his writings.

African American History Month – Michele Andrea Bowen


Michele Andrea Bowen Fan Page | Facebook

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Authors.” It’s also in honor African American History Month.

Back in my college days, my mom recommended I read Michele Andrea Bowen’s Church Folk. I heeded her recommendation and finished the book during spring break. Church Folk offered a realistic Christian romance between two African Americans set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement. Bowen’s book raised the bar for Christian Fiction in my opinion. I revisited and reviewed it in one of my library school classes. Check out my 2007 review of it by clicking on Well, isn’t that special? The story of Church Folk by Michele Andrea Bowen.

Bowen has gone on to write more stories, including a sequel to Church Folk. I recommend her writing to anyone seeking historical fiction and/or no-nonsense Christian fiction.

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Julia Alvarez


Julia Alvarez | Goodreads

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.”

As high school seniors, we had to read Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. While the guys balked, I finished the book long before it was due. Alvarez’s rendering of the Mirabal Sisters’ cause led me to do research in my spare time. 

Later, I picked up her book How the García Girls Lost Their Accents and took note of her use of reverse chronological order. This is also present in In the Name of Salome. There’s no really unifying story line! 

Wikipedia states:

Many of Alvarez’s works are influenced by her experiences as a Dominican in the United States, and focus heavily on issues of assimilation and identity. Her cultural upbringing as both a Dominican and an American is evident in the combination of personal and political tone in her writing. She is known for works that examine cultural expectations of women both in the Dominican Republic and the United States, and for rigorous investigations of cultural stereotypes. In recent years, Alvarez has expanded her subject matter with works such as In the Name of Salomé (2000), a novel with Cuban rather than solely Dominican characters and fictionalized versions of historical figures.

In addition to her successful writing career, Alvarez is the current writer-in-residence at Middlebury College.

I often recommend Alvarez’s work. She writes everything from historical ficion –  In the Name of Salomé, Alvarez’s telling noted Dominican poet Salomé Ureña and her daughter, Camila Henríquez Ureña to Young Adult – Finding Miracles to poetry. I like how diverse she is in her writing.

For more on Julia Alvarez, check out her site by clicking here.

 

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Alisa Valdes


Alisa Valdes | Goodreads

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.”

It was a happy accident when I came across an audiobook version of Alisa Valdes (formerly Valdes-Rodriguez) Haters. This book had great characters, good story, and a strong moral. The cover of this book touted her as the author of The Dirty Girls Social ClubOf course, I had to read that one as well!  Again, these characters were so clearly defined by Valdes that I felt they were sitting in the room with me.

Goodreads states:

Alisa Valdes is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of women’s fiction, young adult fiction, and memoir, including The Dirty Girls Social Club. She has a master’s in journalism from Columbia University and spent ten years as a staff writer for the Boston Globe and LA Times before becoming an author. She lives in New Mexico with her family and pets and wishes the calories you ate when no one was watching didn’t count.

Another thing I’d be remiss in not mentioning is how Valdes manages to bring together diverse female characters. This especially comes through in her books about the Dirty Girls (Las Sucias) – six successful Latin American women who met and bonded while students at Boston University. There’s been much talk of getting Las Sucias on film.

For more on Alisa Valdes, check out her website by clicking here.

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Junot Díaz


Junot Díaz | Goodreads

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao changed my perception of something which seemed so scholarly – footnotes. My goodness, I’d never seen anything like it – little contradictions and factoids to add to the story of the woeful ghetto nerd Oscar. Within a page, I got narrative and the Dominican Republic’s volatile history. His work pointed me towards other books about the DR. I felt I had an idea and that’s mostly due to Díaz.

Goodreads states:

Junot Díaz is a contemporary Dominican-American writer. He moved to the USA with his parents at age six, settling in New Jersey. Central to Díaz’s work is the duality of the immigrant experience. He is the first Dominican-born man to become a major author in the United States.

Díaz is creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in 2008.

In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Díaz has received a Eugene McDermott Award, a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, a Lila Acheson Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, the 2002 Pen/Malamud Award, the 2003 US-Japan Creative Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was also awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2012. He was selected as one of the 39 most important Latin American writers under the age of 39 by the Bogotá Book Capital of World and the Hay Festival. In September 2007, Miramax acquired the rights for a film adaptation of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.

After reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, this book became a staple on my Top Ten Tuesday posts 🙂 … I also pushed through his previous work Drown, a collection of short stories (not my favorite prose) simply because they were written by Díaz. Lucky for me, Yunior, Díaz’s narrator, was there, too.

His latest – This is How You Lose Her – is on my TBR pile. Why? Well, his blend of facts and narrative bring forth a gloriously clear picture of what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen. Thus, I couldn’t celebrate without mentioning Díaz.

National Hispanic Heritage Month – Sandra Cisneros


Sandra Cisneros | Goodreads

This post is part of a feature at Jorie’s Reads by Starry Night Elf called “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.”

Sandra Cisneros holds the distinction of being the author of the first book I reviewed on this blog. To check out this review, click on “Wrapped up in Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros.”

Goodreads says:

Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago in 1954. Internationally acclaimed for her poetry and fiction, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lannan Literary Award and the American Book Award, and of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the MacArthur Foundation. Cisneros is the author of two novels The House on Mango Street and Caramelo; a collection of short stories, Woman Hollering Creek; two books of poetry, My Wicked Ways and Loose Woman; and a children’s book, Hairs/Pelitos. She is the founder of the Macondo Foundation, an association of writers united to serve underserved communities (www.macondofoundation.org), and is Writer in Residence at Our Lady of the Lake University, San Antonio. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

While Caramelo is the only Cisneros work I’ve read, it’s a stellar one. She wrote a family saga with characters so distinctive that one can’t confuse them. Also, I found myself reminiscing about family road trips my own very different family. I liked the vignettes from the famous people as well.

I’d be remiss leaving to not mention hearing the legendary “Woman Hollering Creek.” I think of it each time I take a road trip from my native Houston to San Antonio. Shiver!