Not much exciting over the weekend and I didn’t take too many pictures. We got caught up with a lot of things, including doing some work on my parent’s bathroom. I love home improvement stuff. It’s really satisfying, even when it isn’t my own house! 😀
Anyway, I realized I hadn’t updated my reading list in a while. In my goal to complete 30 books in 2016, I have finished 17, which is about 2 books behind schedule. It’s summer and I spend a lot of time outside, so less time reading. I imagine when we fly to Ireland, I will churn out 2 or 3 books on the plane flights!
The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison
This is a book that tells the story of young women who were kept captive in an indoor garden. The Gardener (as he was called) tattooed each young woman with butterfly wings on her back and each one was killed on her 21st birthday to preserve her young beauty. The story begins with the escape of the girls and the narrative is told through the eyes of Maya. What seems cut and dried on the surface is actually a story with a lot of twist and turns.
Overall this was a decent book. I struggled a tiny bit with the premise because with a dozen girls in the garden, you think they could just overpower the Gardener and that would be that. A little hard to swallow that plot point. Other than that, the story had some interesting twists in it at the end, which seemed just a little rushed.
Winter Men by Jesper Bugge Kold
I got this as a Kindle First book, part of being a Prime member. This book is a translation and I think it was done really well. Sometimes translated books come across as a little stilted or forced, but this one was well done. The story follows the path of two brothers and how they ended up unwillingly becoming part of Hitler’s SS. It was a very different perspective for me to have the story told from the German point of view. The war touched everyone and they all handled it in a different way. The brothers step by step gradually became part of the machine and their reasoning and justification was an intriguing read. It’s really difficult to feel any sympathy for either brother, but it’s never really black and white anyway.
The book really is graphic about the front lines of WWII and you really feel the harsh reality of what a country goes through being invaded and how soldiers are treated. Not the easiest read, but quite good.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman
This was the first I have read by Alice Hoffman. I might look up some of her other books. I think there was some wish to compare it to Night Circus, but it’s really a different book all together, and much better.
The story takes place in New York City at the turn of the 20th century, so of course you know I liked that. Much of it is set in Coney Island. Coralie is a girl born with webbed fingers. Her father runs a museum of side shows acts, I guess you would say, and Coralie was used as a mermaid, complete with tank and costume to complete the deal. Her father was a brutal man with all of his employees and basically kept Coralie prisoner until she started to sneak out at night. As the story progressed, her father became more and more desperate as a new show called Dreamland (an actual real life attraction) was to open and would cause the end of his museum.
Eddie is the other character. He is a Jewish man who left the faith and began a life not quite of crime, but definitely dealing in the unsavory part of New York. Eddies finds people and things and he is asked to find a missing young woman. This is where his and Coralie’s stories intertwine in a murder mystery.
I really liked the atmosphere of this book. It definitely takes you back in time. The only thing I didn’t care for was the narrative switching through multiple perspectives by the same characters, which was a little jarring. There also was a *lot* going on in this book. Lots of sub stories and plots that mostly intertwined, but some were left hanging. A quick and interesting read, though.
At The Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen
I was pretty excited to read this book. Sara Gruen wrote Water For Elephants, which I loved. This story is set in the 1940s. To avoid scandal in Philadelphia, Maddie, her husband and a friend left the country to hide out in Scotland, despite a war being on. Maddie’s husband and his friend decided to look for the Loch Ness Monster (or fake the monster) as a way to redeem themselves and be able to go back to Philadelphia.
Maddie is left alone much of the time and really begins to understand her privilege and learns empathy for others, particularly during war time. It’s the story of her personal development from a shallow socialite into a deeper, better person. She also realizes how horrible and manipulative her husband really is. Left alone at the inn they are staying at, Maddie falls in love with the innkeeper, which obviously causes a lot of trouble. In many ways, this story is like WFE with the woman married to a horrible man and the outside male trying to protect her. So, maybe nothing new, but I really liked this book. Definitely recommend it.