Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller – Book Review

This novel is different. It’s the tale of eight year-old Peggy who is basically kidnapped by her own father, James, and taken into the wilderness of Germany to live. At first he tells her that they are on vacation and that her mother will be joining them soon. However, shortly after a storm, James tells Peggy that the rest of the world is gone, and everyone else is dead. It’s just the two of them from now on. Peggy doesn’t understand this, however he’s her father and why would he lie to her?

For nine years Peggy and James live by trapping animals and growing vegetables. They don’t see anyone else, and Peggy is convinced that the rest of the world is gone. James controls his daughter’s reality and Peggy simply believes everything he tells her. They do learn to live off the land, and are surviving; however their mental health is another story.

I’m not going to tell you what happens, only that I found the story riveting. I stayed up late finishing the book. For anyone who has ever thought that running off to live in the woods by yourself would be a viable alternative to our crazy world, I suggest this novel. And, for anyone else who thinks that would be an insane idea, you too would find this novel interesting. Definitely a good read that will make you think!

Jack of Spades: A Tale of Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates – book review

Oates is an award winning writer for a reason. Whatever it is that she decides to write about is wonderful. Oftentimes it’s not “pleasant” or “fun” to read, but it usually is pretty riveting and very good. Jack of Spades is no exception. This book chronicles the unraveling of mystery writer Andrew J. Rush after he is accused of plagiarism. At first his reaction seems to be a little over-the-top, but we soon see that Rush is indeed having some kind of crises here. Not only is he a best-selling mystery writer, but he also writes some questionable novels with a much darker side to them. Rush writes these books under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades”; uses a different publisher, and hides it all from his wife and children. Obviously he sees a problem with these other books, but enjoys writing them too much to stop.

The novel continues with the complete breakdown of Rush, leading the reader to question his entire narrative of his life right back to the mysterious death of his younger brother. By the end of the novel, I seriously wondered if Rush had been nuts all of his life. And, his poor unsuspecting family!

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good goose bumpy chill! It left me wondering if we really do know the people in our lives.

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg – Book Review

First of all, in the interest of honesty, I have to say that I am a huge Elizabeth Berg fan. I love each and every one of her books, and believe that she is a wonderful writer. That being said, I must also say that she really hit the ball out of the park with this book.

This book is a fictional account, in her own words, of George Sand’s life. Born Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dudevant, she leaves her husband, both her children and moves to Paris. There, Aurore as she was known begins to write under the name George Sand. She even takes on the appearance of a man by dressing as one in order to cut the cost of theater tickets. At the time woman had to sit in a box, a cost Sand could not afford – thus she dressed as a man so she could purchase a cheaper ticket. Finding that she was treated far better as a man, Sand simply continued to wear men’s clothing. Who wouldn’t enjoy the respect afforded her when she appeared to be a man?

I love the story of Sand’s life, which was really not something I knew too much about. Like most people I was aware of her many lovers, and the cross-dressing, but not the details and reasons behind her behavior.  You get the feeling that her search for love was really the totality of her life.  Her books were one thing, but her life was focused on looking for her “dream lover”.  Along with the story of Sand’s life, we also get a guide-book on how to live in this world.  I love the way that Sand thought about the many different facets of life.  And, Berg does a wonderful job of showing us these ideas in a way that is both assessable and understandable.  There is a lot to think about.

I highly recommend this book. The portrayal of George Sand here is fantastic, and I love the “voice” that the book is written in. I hope you read it, too.

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells – Book Review

This is the story of 19 year-old Avery Delacorte, a college swimmer who along with a team mate and three little boys are the only survivors after a plane crash. They must find a way to survive snowstorms and extreme cold with limited food and resources. They are recused and everything seems just peachy.  However Avery cannot swim again. Not only that, she suffers PTSD, although she insists she has no problems.

Kells writes the novel with a back-and-forth from the plane crash and it’s immediate aftermath, and Avery trying to deal with the effects later on. You really want to know exactly what happened after the plane crash, since Avery has been so traumatized by her own actions. I found this book hard to put down. I really liked the characters and wanted to know what it was that Avery thought she had done wrong.

I won’t give you any hints, since the book is definitely worth reading and I hope you do to.

The Fair Fight by Anna Freeman – Book Review

I have to say that when I first started reading this book I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue. The Fair Fight is about a female fighter from the 1800’s. As someone who will not watch boxing matches, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read about them, either. However, the story and characters are completely compelling and I couldn’t read the book fast enough.

The character of Ruth, a woman born in a brothel and turned into a boxer by the age of 10, is fascinating to say the least.  Here is a character who has lived her whole life in poverty-stricken circumstances, knows that the odds are stacked against her, but continues to fight (pun intended).  The other main character is Charlotte, a lady in every sense of the word, who has also been confined and held down due to her being a “lady”, but once she sees and later meets Ruth, changes those circumstances to better suit herself.

Freeman is a wonderful writer whose attention to detail makes you feel as though you are living in the book, rather than just reading it.  By writing this book, she takes a time period and holds it up to us, showing how confined the lives of the woman were, but also how they were able to change those lives.  I highly recommend this book.