Book Review: The Invention Of Wings By Sue Monk Kidd

the-invention-of-wings

Blurb:

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

General Thoughts:

This is one of those stories that stayed with me beyond finishing the book in a positive way, which is sort of a rarity for me. The author was effective in rebirthing the Grimke sisters, Sarah and Angelina (“Nina”), and bringing the predominantly fictional character, Hettie, to life. As I read this story, I became immersed into their world, as if I was them, living during their times, feeling their frustrations, struggles, and internal and external prisons. With this alone, the author was prolific in building the world in which the story took place, and most importantly, the souls of the main characters, so that I, as a reader, could fully understand them and their desires, as if they were my own.

Within the main characters, Sarah and Hettie, though their position in life from the outside seemed to contrast clearly, they very much shared the same limitations. Neither one of them could be who they wanted to be or live as they wanted to live. They were confined by the social constructs of their time and were viewed less than human. Of course, Hettie’s position of a slave was much graver than Sarah’s position of being solely a woman, Sarah’s love and ultimate dream for Hettie could not be achieved by where she stood in society, so it was nothing short of inspiring, when she found the courage to get away from it all, to embrace the person she was told she could never be, and find a better ending for not only herself, but Hettie.

As I completed this story, I found the character of Sarah speaking to me the most. Sarah was that different and ambitious child with bold dreams that were crushed by those—her family especially, around her. For years, all this kept her in a box that prevented her from living the life she wanted, thus leading to a sort of depression. It wasn’t until she was able to get away from her environment that she was able to surround herself with others who shared her goals, eventually leading her to doing remarkable things. She is definitely someone I want to aspire to.

As for negatives, there is none with this story. The author’s writing style was vivid, full of life, and moving. At times, I forgot I was actually reading a book, I felt like I was there, living the lives of Sarah and Hettie. In short, it was a thought provoking and entertaining read.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this story truthfully to any reader. Though this is historical fiction, the subject matter and the lives of Sarah and Hettie will touch anyone, especially those who are struggling to live out their lives in truth, be their true selves, be authentically fearless.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. For all the things I mentioned above: inspiring, vivid, moving, thought provoking, entertaining.

Book Review: Blue By Danielle Steel

25615133

Blurb:

Ginny Carter was once a rising star in TV news, married to a top anchorman, with a three-year-old son and a full and happy life in Beverly Hills—until her whole world dissolved in a single instant on the freeway two days before Christmas. In the aftermath, she pieces her life back together and tries to find meaning in her existence as a human rights worker in the worst areas around the globe.

Then, on the anniversary of the fateful accident—and wrestling with the lure of death herself—she meets a boy who will cause her life to change forever yet again. Thirteen-year-old Blue Williams has been living on the streets, abandoned by his family, rarely attending school, and utterly alone. Following her instincts, Ginny reaches out to him. Leery of everyone, he runs from her again and again. But he always returns, and each time, their friendship grows.

Blue glows with outsized spirit and an irresistible mix of innocence and wisdom beyond his years. Ginny offers him respect as they form an unusual bond and become the family they each lost. But just as Blue is truly beginning to trust her, she learns of a shocking betrayal that he has been hiding. Is it a wound too deep to heal, or will she be able to fight the battle that will make them both whole again?

General Thoughts:

I had great expectations from an author who is well known and a bestseller, so when I picked up this story I was looking forward to a great read. And I’m glad to say that is what I got.

Ginny’s, the main character, motivations and life are what instantly drew me to this story. In a funny way, I saw a part of myself in Ginny, someone searching for meaning, significance, purpose—all those important things, in a world that definitely possessed those, even if not so obvious. The author did an excellent job in navigating through Ginny’s thoughts, specifically the war that she constantly battled with inside. Ginny struggled to move beyond her tragic loss and that shaped how she felt about her life and future, and fueled her activities, which everyone around her couldn’t understand. Nothing mattered but what was external and beyond herself.

One might think that the beginning of the story and the introduction of Ginny is somber and depressing, but as the story progressed, it evolved into an inspiring and powerful example of how tragedy and regret can lead to something simply remarkable.

The story takes off when Ginny meets Blue. I loved seeing Ginny slowly transform from a person who didn’t care about her life and even if she lived, to one who looked forward to everyday. It was nice discovering bits and pieces of Blue and what led him to fall into the life Ginny found him in. With Blue having his own tragedy as well, the author was effective in piecing together the steps Ginny took to find justice and redemption for Blue. And that’s how I would sum up the book: a story starting from broken pieces—in this case people, Ginny and Blue, to slowly putting those broken pieces—people, together to make them whole.

I don’t have any true negatives about the story, the only thing I would say is the author’s writing style is very commercial. Coming from a person who has been reading a lot of literature based stories, sometimes sentence structure, placements, etc. threw me off, but I don’t know—I’m probably nit picking on this 🙂

Recommendation:

Yes, I would definitely recommend this story because I think it needs to be read. I believe a lot of people will see a little bit of themselves in the characters of Ginny and Blue, even if not directly. The important take away I had was although Ginny and Blue went through their own tragedy and loss, they didn’t give up on life. Sure in the beginning they may have felt like they should have, but by slowly understanding their tragedy and finding ways to restore their broken lives, they eventually were made whole and better.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars. Great story and one that will soon not be forgotten. No true negatives, other than if you’re used to reading literature style writing, the commercial style of this story may distract you a little.

Book Review: A Note Yet Unsung By Tamera Alexander

206245

Blurb:

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the maestro at the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic. But women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed because the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Acklen Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah’s new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new opera hall. But far more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his father, who is dying. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he believes Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream?

As music moves us to tears yet makes our hearts soar, A Note Yet Unsung captures the splendor of classical music at a time when women’s hard-won strides in cultural issues changed not only world history–but the hearts of men.

General Thoughts:

If you have been following my book reviews for some time then you may know that Tamera Alexander is my favorite author. She is effective in grasping the emotional strings of a reader and creating characters with so much depth that you feel like you’ve known them longer than you really have. And with this 3rd book in the series, she still does not disappoint. Immediately being introduced to the main character Rebekah, I connected with her instantly. I think that connection came from her determination to pursue her passion in music, especially during a time when the odds were stacked against her, simply by being a woman. With the author drawing on Rebekah’s upbringing and musical influences, including battling a broken relationship with her mother, I felt her pain and even fear. The interaction between her and Tate was believable and brought sincere meaning when things came full circle in the end.

This was definitely a character driven story. Though there were a series of subtle plots throughout the story, things that needed to be resolved and manifest, the focus was truly on Rebekah’s and Tate’s growth and development as individuals. For Rebekah, it was about being fearless and determined to make her musical dreams come to light. It was about learning to forgive and give people a chance, as she did with Tate and his family. For Tate, it was about letting go and putting someone else’s dream ahead of his own. It was about developing a humble spirit. Together, both Tate and Rebekah learned that anything is possible, even pursuing a dream that the times said didn’t exist for all.

There were no obvious negatives. With the author’s writing style, I was immediately immersed into Rebekah’s world and later on, Tate’s and Rebekah’s world together. Their interactions brought life to the story and the challenges and lessons they learned kept me turning the pages to the very end.

Recommendation:

I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a bit of romance. And especially to those who are looking for character driven stories that focus on growth with relatable and encouraging messages.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. This story was an easy read and had many powerful areas. The challenges the main characters faced and the series of subtle plots added enough suspense to keep the story moving.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

Writer’s Ramblings: Happiness Is…

happinesssun

I Am The Girl Who Now Can See

Rocks or Light

I Am The Girl Who Now Can See

I once was lost, but now I’m found
I was wandering, in a strange town
I didn’t know, which way to go
When I thought I was right
I was quickly told no

I was alone
In my cold world
Seeking joy and peace
Seeking purpose and me
And when the days passed more
I still saw no open doors
Who was I
I was only a lie

I once was sad, but now I’m glad
Glad I held on
To learn that I am strong
When failure clung, tightly to me
I didn’t fall down
I held my ground

I was ready to flee
From my old world
I needed to try
To set myself free
There was no time to waste
It was now getting late
I needed to try
I needed to try

I am the girl who now can see
I am the girl who now is free
I am the girl who now can see
I am the girl who now can see
I am the girl who now can see

©2016 C.A. Barnes

Writer’s Ramblings: Droopy Eyes

droopyeyes

The Greatest Gift

thegreatestgift

Link To Post Of Full Poem Here

This is one of the few but favorite lyrical poems I wrote some years ago and posted a couple years ago on this blog. To me, these words state the real purpose of Christmas. Please view the full poem in the link if you haven’t done so and for all who celebrate, Merry Christmas!

Writer’s Ramblings: Fancy Things

fancythings

Writer’s Ramblings: Happiness Is…

happinesspie

Book Review: Shadow Of The Storm By Connilyn Cossette

51voxsbhbal-_sy344_bo1204203200_

Blurb:

In the darkness of the storm’s shadow, only truth can light her way.

Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mount Sinai. When the people rebel by worshipping a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to assist a midwife. When the experience awakens a new desire in her, she defies her mother’s wish for her to continue in the family weaving trade and pursues her heart’s calling as an apprentice midwife.

But when a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself in an impossible situation and bound to a man who betrayed her. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira comes face to face with the long-hidden pain of her past. Can she let go of all that has defined her to embrace who she truly is and believe in a hopeful future?

General Thoughts:

This story was something new and different from all the other stories I’ve read in the past. If you are familiar with the Bible, this story takes place after the Exodus and really goes deep in illustrating and explaining the social issues that existed among the Hebrews during their journey to the Promised Land. The story focuses on Shira and the struggles she faced especially within herself to see and believe in her worth. Having faced a tragic past that left her barren, she couldn’t see her value, especially to others. Even when she realized her love of being a midwife, she struggled with believing if she was good enough to be one.

I love how the author used Shira’s character to show how God can turn someone’s life around, especially into something far beyond what one would expect to be possible. Although I found Shira’s story the most compelling, there were other characters like Dvorah and Ayal, who had personal inner battles as well. I love how for Shira, she couldn’t see what good would come out of her life, but how God surprised her with what I believe was nothing but amazing.

For me, this is the most powerful story I read if not ever, then in a long long time. I think everyone will find a bit of Shira in them, maybe doubting their worth and strength, their ability to offer anything meaningful in the world. But as Shira came to find, that’s not true. After reading this story, I too, began to believe in myself more.

I truly have no obvious negatives about this story. Although the story is historical, it is very much a fictional story, focused on the personal challenges Shira faced with herself and those around her. I think this story is one that could appeal to even those who may not be interested in historical stories.

Recommendation:

I would definitely recommend this story to really anyone. Simply because of issues like self worth, overcoming negative pasts, and finding strength and confidence. I believe these issues are quite universal and will be relevant to so many.

Rating:

5 out of 5 stars. I didn’t find this story dragging, boring, or difficult to read in anyway. Though I didn’t touch on this earlier, this story was also suspenseful, as there were a bit of frightening challenges that occurred and for me, I could not predict how they would turn out and how characters, like Shira, would overcome them.

***This book was given to me by Bethany House for an honest review.***

%d bloggers like this: