Isak Dineson/Karen Blixen’s literary classic is one of the Bloggerversary Challenge winners.
I feel as though I’ve been waiting eons for my eBook to arrive!
Inspired by Kimba the Caffeinated the Book Reviewer’s Coffee Pot Reviews, Starlight Reviews groups two or more complimentary books for one concise review. While not necessarily an in-depth analysis, Starlight Reviews offers the Jorie’s Reads audience the gist of the books as well as my opinions.
For the maiden voyage, here are Starlight Reviews for Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray and Sean McCollum’s Joseph Stalin (A Wicked History) .
Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Penguin Group US
Publication date: Mar 22, 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: HCPL Digital Media Catalog
Lithuanian fifteen-year old Lina Vilkas lives comfortably with her academic parents and younger brother, Jonas. Her family nurtures her artistic abilities. That changes, however, on June 14, 1941 when Soviet officers (NKVD) invade her home, taking Lina, her mother (Elena), and Jonas as prisoners. Separated from Lina’s father, the three find themselves sentenced to the Siberian work camps. Throughout this ordeal, Lina records this harrowing journey through illustration (although not seen in the novel).
Sepetys relates her tale in clear, understandable terms and I truly imagined Lina’s world. Also, Sepetys captured a teenage girl’s view quite well. However, this book loses a pearl due to the ending not tying up some significant loose ends.
Since the story centers around rather bleak, adult subjects, I strongly suggest that parents read this book before their younger, more impressionable kids pick up this book. While not gratuitous, this novel’s backdrop consists of genocide, violence, cruelty, and degradation.
Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17
Like other books in “A Wicked History Series,” this juvenile/young adult biography features:
– Opening quote by or about the featured villain/villainess
– Historical map, annotated with key locations from person’s life
– “A Wicked Web” featuring allies and enemies
– Historical photos and etchings
– Boxes with additional information
– Photo documentaries: six to eight pages of photos and captions telling the person’s life
– Timeline, glossary, additional sources
– Engaging narrative nonfiction written at a very accessible reading level (Goodreads)
Yet, this is a Twentieth Century villain. So, there’s no question as to whether Joseph Stalin was wicked. In this 128-page book, McCollum tells the life story of Joseph Stalin, from birth to death. McCollum tells of a post-Stalin event which portrays the depravity of Stalin – relating to some of those work (death) camps I read about in Between Shades of Gray.
I found this biography accessible and easy to read. It took me longer to get through it because my dad decided to read it while I had it checked out. I liked getting the basics and not being bogged down by footnotes and details.
Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17
(Thank you, Goodreads for the images)
(In most cases, I’d say I reacquainted myself with these authors in 2013.)
1. Kiera Cass
2. Debbie Macomber
3. Sandra Brown
4. Libba Bray
5. Jude Deveraux
6. Truman Capote
7. Charlaine Harris
8. Jack Kerouac
9. Sophie Kinsella
10. Sherman Alexie
(I featured some of these last week. Also, I’m working on wrapping up my Revisited Challenge.)
1. Sarah Addison Allen’s Lost Lake
2. Michael Connelly’s The Gods of Guilt
3. Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince
4. The Confessions of Augustine of Hippo
5. Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s
6. Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life Frederick Douglass, an American Slave
7. Kay Hooper’s Hostage
8. Allison Weir’s Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World
9. Jane Ridley’s The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince
10. Kimberly McCreight’s Reconstructing Ameila
Finally, I’m posting another APPeal review!
The Goodreads APP, like its website, allows users to keep track of what they’re reading and sharing book recommendations. This fantastic APP also has a built-in barcode scanner which makes life so much easier.
I can also keep up with my discussion groups on Goodreads. So, if I can’t get to a desktop, I can access this from my iPhone. It’s so cool!
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.
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.
- Geoffrey Chaucer in Anya Seton’s Katherine
- Miz Mimi in Stephen King’s 11/22/63
- Mr. Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
- Grandma Mazur in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Series
- Cinna in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy
- Rue also in Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games Trilogy
- Yunior in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
- Mameha in Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha
- K-19 of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines
- Evanelle Franklin of Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells
Top Ten Things That Make Your Life As A Reader/Book Blogger Easier (maybe it’s Goodreads or your library or different resourcers etc. etc.)
- My Harris County Public Library card lets me borrow books!
- Overdrive allows me to download eContent for free pretty much whenever it suits me.
- Goodreads has an APP that helps me maintain a current reading list. It even has a bar code scanner!
- LibraryThing helps me find great read-alikes for the books I’ve enjoyed.
- Friends such as my Readers of the Month have recommended great books for me to read.
- OliveTree APP has allowed me to download the King James Version, the English Standard Version, and the New Living Translation for free! I can highlight, copy, and paste passages from this APP, too.
- Social Media buttons for Facebook, Twitter, etc have brought in traffic.
- YouTube has shown me many numerous vlogs and inspiration for things to come (maybe).
- Kimba the Caffeinated Reviewer has connected me to other bookish bloggers, especially with her Sunday Post meme!
- Last but not least, the Top Ten Tuesday meme by the folks at The Broke and the Bookish have linked me to great new books and readers alike.
I finished my 50th Book Friday! Now, I’ve raised the bar to 55!