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review 2017-09-22 10:09
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd — A Story about Mothers, Sisters, and Slaves!
The Invention of Wings: A Novel - Sue Monk Kidd



Fifteen years before Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which was wholly influenced by American Slavery As It Is, a pamphlet written by Sarah, Angelina, and Angelina’s husband, Theodore Weld, and published in 1839, the Grimké sisters were out crusading not only for the immediate emancipation of slaves, but for racial equality, an idea that was radical even among abolitionists. 

That is the kind of women this book is based on!


The first book that I read by Sue Monk Kidd was The Secret Life of Bees. It didn’t mince words when it came to the cruelties that slavery brought. While I loved the candor, what touched me, even more, is that the author didn’t mention those incidents in a salacious way. She included them in the story as the reality of that time. The focus remained on the characters who evolved as real people do.


This book wasn’t different in that regard either! Like always, I will try to review the story with quotes from the book. As I mention each quote, I will include the context it is taken from and what it signified to me.



Another thing that I have always loved about Ms. Kidd’s novels is that she weaves humor into her stories. With the subject being as grim as slavery, it should be difficult to make the reader laugh. The best part is that the humor doesn’t detract or mock the theme of the story. It simply makes it possible to go on reading and with what is happening in it, this is a good thing.


The Sisters


This particular quote is taken from a scene where one of the Grimké sisters is receiving a suitor in her drawing room. The fear of carnality had been put into her very recently by a man of God in the very words that she mentions here! What’s funny is that it is the fact that the man smells of soap that is making her think carnal thoughts (or at least, what she thinks are carnal thoughts).



This is how we are introduced to one of the main characters from this book, Handful. Born a slave, she was mouthy as heck and tough as nails. I loved right from the start, which was probably what the author intended. It is mentioned in the Author’s Notes (given at the end of the book) that while there is evidence of Handful having existed, she didn’t survive long enough to play an important role in the life of the Grimké sisters. I am glad that the author thought otherwise.



More of Handful’s golden words for you. This is her pretending to be brave while she was about to be punished severely enough that it left her with a maimed foot.



This is her description of the legalese that she had to muddle her way through before she could find out if she was being sold after her master’s death or retained for her services!



A few pages later, we are introduced to the other main character, Sarah Grimké.While Handful mouthed off to people, Sarah had trouble getting out a whole sentence without stuttering. She had the same iron backbone though that Handful did, which soon became evident when she tried to emancipate Handful at the age of 11!



This is how Sarah was indoctrinated to what was really happening around her. She was just a little girl then but the incident remained with her all her life. It was a defining moment in the life of her character. Consider the following quote to see how she arrived at the root of the problem of slavery. This is an excerpt from one of her letters to Nina, her sister and another important character in the book. She raised Nina like a mother on revolutionary ideas like equality and it paid off. Nina gave her strength and achieved things that even Sarah thought meant going too far.



She changed her faith and left the safety of her house later in life, so she could be the kickass feminist that we know her to be. This is one of my favorite moments from the book. While it might come across as caustically feminazi, it wasn’t so in the book. That being said, I could see the point the men were trying to make. By taking up both the causes of slavery and feminism, the Grimké sisters caused their followers to split into two groups. However, the point lies in the fact that they even had to raise their voices for either cause.



The Mothers


Sarah’s mother is one of the important characters in the book. She terrorized her slaves and refused to relent even when she was close to death. I think this quote defines both hers and her husband’s characters perfectly.



This is how we meet Handful’s mother, Charlotte. She shaped Sarah’s and Handful’s lives by being who she was. Even though she couldn’t do anything openly, she figured small ways to show her rebellion. She continued to do so, knowing the punishment would be too severe and there’d be hell to pay if she got caught! I think this quote would fit almost anyone who is living under an oppressive regime. Don’t you?


The Slaves



Handful is much smarter than people gave her credit for. Sarah, whom she said these words to, used to think that being a woman was keeping her from making a difference. Handful knew otherwise. When the story begins, we think that Sarah would be the one protecting Handful but this quote and the next one shows us how the roles are reversed.



I can’t wait to try out another Sue Monk Kidd book after having read and loved this one. Have you read it? How did you like it?




Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com< on September 22, 2017.

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review 2017-09-22 10:05
Symphony of Ruin
Symphony of Ruin: A Labyrinth of Souls Novel - Christina Lay

by Christina Lay


Ghosts, Fae, magic, Alchemy and a monster from out of the catacombs bringing death to the city. It's all here! The story reads like a very well written Fantasy novel and got my interest right away.


Remy is an Alchemist's apprentice and with the Alchemist away, he is left to discover what is coming out of the catacombs to kill people. He encounters ghosts and other creatures in the world of darkness, effectively an underworld journey.


Despite being treated like a lowly ratboy by the local hoity-toity, he gets on with the job and seeks to discover why one of their class got buried with commoners. Remy is a likeable character who lets the class insults roll off and applies his own wits and knowledge to untangling some confusing clues to what's really going on.


The story is fast moving and leads into a dark journey beneath the city that brings out some of our most primal fears. At times it reminded me of the surreal worlds of Roger Zelazny or The Deathgate Cycle by Weis and Hickman, though not in as much intricate detail. It was an interesting read and I think a new author to watch.

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review 2017-09-22 08:00
Wildeule: Kriminalroman (Ein Gesine-Cord... Wildeule: Kriminalroman (Ein Gesine-Cordes-Krimi, Band 3) - Annette Wieners
  • Kriminalroman 
  • Taschenbuch
  • Klappenbroschur
  • 352 Seiten
  • ISBN-13 9783548612591
  • Erschienen: 11.08.2017
  • Aus der Reihe "Ein Gesine-Cordes-Krimi"
  • Band 3



Die ehemalige Kommissarin Gesine Cordes hatte sich nach dem Tod ihres kleinen Sohns aus ihrem alten Leben zurückgezogen. Erst in der Arbeit als Friedhofsgärtnerin fand sie Trost. Doch ihre geliebte Idylle wird jäh gestört, als während einer Beerdigung entdeckt wird, dass der Sarg nicht richtig geschlossen ist. Und nicht der erwartete Leichnam im Sarg liegt, sondern ein bekannter Bestattungsunternehmer – er wurde ermordet. Gesine ermittelt undercover auf dem Friedhof und kommt skandalösen Praktiken im Bestattergewerbe auf die Spur. Bald gerät ausgerechnet ihr bester Freund, der Bestatter Hannes, unter Verdacht. Gesine muss sich entscheiden: Wird sie sich weiter vor der Welt verstecken? Oder kann sie Hannes retten, den Mord aufklären und womöglich sogar in ihr altes Leben zurückkehren?


Meine Meinung:


Dies ist ja der mittlerweile 3. Teil der Gesine Cordes Reihe, die von Anfang an verfolgt habe. Ich habe mich sehr auf diese Neuerscheinung gefreut. Freundlicherweise wurde mir das Buch vom Verlag zu Rezensionszwecken zur Verfügung gestellt. 


Der Einstieg ist mir wieder sehr gut gelungen. Der Schreibstil war wie gewohnt sehr flüssig und ich war gleich wieder in der Geschichte drin. Es gab ja ein Wiedersehen mit der ehemaligen Kommissarin und jetzigen Friedhofsgärtnerin Gesine Cordes. Sie ist bei den Vorbereitungen für eine Beerdigung einer älteren Dame beschäftigt, als festgestellt werden muss, dass nicht diese besagte Dame im Sarg liegt, sondern der Bestattungsunternehmer. 


Ihr Freund Hannes, ebenfalls Bestattungsunternehmer, also sozusagen ein Konkurrent, gerät schnell in das Visier der Ermittler und daraufhin fängt Gesine natürlich auch an zu ermitteln. 


Es hat mir wieder gut gefallen. Ich muss aber dazu sagen, dass ich diesen Teil als schwächsten der Reihe bezeichnen würde.


Für Neueinsteiger würde ich schon empfehlen, mit dem 1. Teil Kaninchenherz anzufangen, da auch das Privatleben von Gesine Cordes hier eine größere Rolle spielt. 


Alles in allem kann ich für alle Krimifans eine Kauf- und Leseempfehlung aussprechen. Ich fand diesen Teil zwar etwas schwächer als die Vorgängerbände, bleibe aber auf jeden Fall dieser Reihe treu. Von mir bekommt das Buch 4 Sterne. 

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review 2017-09-22 07:37
Chaos Choreography (InCryptid, #5)
Chaos Choreography - Seanan McGuire

I originally read the first in this series with some trepidation, but the characters kept me reading and the Aeslin mice stole my heart.  That the plot was fun was just a bonus.


In this one though, the plot wasn't a bonus; it's what kept me reading through a setting that normally bores me (reality tv and dance competitions; a double whammy of yawn).  The setting is, in fact, what kept this book on my TBR for so long instead of being devoured immediately upon receipt.


I have to say, I didn't see that ending coming.  It was sort of awful, although everything moved so fast there wasn't much time to dwell on it.


So if that setting appeals, this book should be a huge winner.  Likeable characters, a really good plot and the Aeslin mice.  All hail the Aeslin mice!


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review 2017-09-22 04:46
Halloween Bingo -- Gothic -- more like patriot's snooze
Patriot's Dream - Barbara Michaels



Published in 1976, this can't be anything but a blatant and really crass cashing in on the popularity of the American Bicentennial.  It just wasn't that good of a book.  Not the story and not even the writing.


Jan is 23 years old in that summer of 1976.  I think her last name is Wilde, but I'm not really sure.  She lives in New York City, where she has been an English teacher.  At first she taught in the public schools, then in a private girls' school.  She hated teaching, hated what she saw as the futility of it.  At her mother's urging, Jan has left NYC and gone to Williamsburg, Virginia, to spend the summer "resting" and helping her aged great-aunt and great uncle.  Camilla and Henry Wilde have sold the family home to the Williamsburg Foundation, which will take possession of it upon their deaths and add it to the tourist attraction.


On her first night in the Wilde home, Jan has a remarkable dream of being in the house on the eve of the American Revolution.  She dreams again the next night, and the next.  Her dreams are remarkably clear and in fantastic detail.  They feature the Wilde family as it existed at the time, as well as numerous other figures, historical as well as unknowns.


The bulk of the novel is taken up with the activities Jan sees in her dreams, which is basically her ancestors' involvement in the war for independence.  Most prominent among them are Charles Wilde, who is presumably the forebear of Uncle Henry, and his dear friend Jonathan, last name not revealed.  (This is weird, because Michaels provides a family tree that clearly shows Jonathan's last name is Muller and that he is Charles's first cousin.)


Jan becomes a bit obsessed with her dreams, but there's no real reason given for why she becomes obsessed.  And other than the conflict between the two cousins Charles and Jonathan, there's not much drama in the historical sections of the book.  Charles heads off to war; Jonathan, for various reasons, doesn't.  I reached the point where I skimmed those parts in the second half of the book.


Aunt Camilla -- who is only a Wilde by marriage, obviously -- seems obsessed with getting Jan married.  Various suitors are paraded for her benefit -- the local doctor, one of the craftsman who works in the Williamsburg village, an obnoxious lawyer -- but Jan doesn't seem interested.  I'm not sure if the issue of her "resting" for summer is some kind of hint that she had or is about to have a nervous breakdown because of her teaching experience or what.  But Camilla's interest in the family seems awkward, since it isn't really her family anyway, and I'm not sure exactly how Jan's lineage fit into the family tree.


The last fifty or sixty pages of the book finally got interesting, and the twist toward the end of the historical part was quite clever.  The actual ending of that part, however, was nasty and really didn't make any sense.  (Mary Beth would never have done that.  Never.)


But long before I reached the last fifty or sixty pages, I was bored to tears.  Or yawns.  Or snores.


The plot was weak, but the writing wasn't much better.  The historical characters were much better drawn than the 1976 people, most of whom were little better than caricatures.  During Jan's dream sequences, point of view shifted not only into the various historical characters but also into an omniscient third person narrator.  I think that was part of the reason I never got any clear idea of how Jan really felt about the dreams; the events in them were detached from her.


The book reminded me in some ways of Daphne DuMaurier's The House on the Strand, except that book was much, much creepier.  Patriot's Dream was just a snorer.






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