Top Ten Tuesday (Last week’s edition) – Bookish locations

**So I wrote most of this post last week for last week’s Top Ten Tuesday… and then I lost it. My personal IT support team (read: my husband, who has never used WordPress before) kindly unearthed it for me. So, I’m wrapping it up and posting it for this week instead. Enjoy!

It’s Top Ten Tuesday time again, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “bookish settings you’d like to visit.” My first participation in Top Ten Tuesday I slacked off and didn’t get to ten, but I’m going to do better this time. Here goes:

  1. Narnia – I’ve been reading The Chronicles of Narnia with my eldest daughter the past two years and Narnia is so full of adventures!The Chronicles of Narnia (Chronicles of Narnia, #1-7)
  2. Mammoth Lakes, California – This is the setting of Stopping the Road, which I wrote about last week. My husband was out there this summer to climb in the Sierra with his sister. When I’m done nursing (it WILL happen someday soon) and back in climbing shape (that will take a bit longer…) I’d love to get out there with him myself!22619536
  3. Alaska – I recently read Braving It and while I don’t quite want to experience the Alaskan wild in the same way Cameron and his daughter do, Alaska is definitely on my list of places I’d like to go. 30112406
  4. Israel/the Holy Land – Frequent readers around here know I’m passionately Catholic, and the Holy Land is near the top of my list of places to go. I recently read An Unexpected Afterlife (review forthcoming), which takes place in Jerusalem. It’s a fascinating read; I definitely want to read the sequel! 34348069
  5. Scotland – Loch Ness Monster, anyone? A lot of At the Water’s Edge takes place in Scotland, and though I’m sure it’s entirely different now than it was in the 1940s (which is when the book takes place), it certainly seems like an interesting place to visit.23209927
  6. The body farm – A body farm is a facility where researchers study decomposition. Apparently there are six in the United States, and I know that at least the one at the University of Tennessee offers tours. I’ve always been fascinated by forensic anthropology; Dead Men Do Tell Tales is just one of many books I’ve read on the subject. Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist
  7. Calabria – Ok, so I’ve already been there, but I’d love to go again. I had the great privilege of going there as a teenager and seeing the towns where my great-grandparents grew up. I remember thinking it was a place stuck in the past, and I wonder what it looks like today. Strega Nona is a favorite of mine, and I love that she lives “in a little town in Calabria.”   581409
  8. Vietnam – Senior year of college I took a class on postwar Vietnam and it was fascinating; I’ve wanted to visit ever since. The Unwanted, a memoir written about the plight of mixed-race children of Vietnamese women and American soldiers, was assigned reading for the course and I’ve never forgotten it.   281755
  9. Who-ville – I want to be clear here that I mean the Who-ville of How The Grinch Stole Christmas and not Horton Hears a Who. I mean, it’s the same Who-ville but I want to visit at Christmas – to join the Whos for the singing and the feast, not the drop into a field of clovers… How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
  10. Plum Creek – I think I’ve mentioned before that I loved the Little House on the Prairie books so much as a kid that I wanted to return the whole country to covered wagon times. Well, after rereading several of the books in the series with my daughter, I think I’ve decided that Plum Creek (where they live in On the Banks of Plum Creek) is my favorite location. There’s something about living in a dugout house along the creek that still seems wonderful, even though my adult, mom-eyes have a whole new perspective on the life of the Ingalls family! 7882

Book Beginnings and Friday 56: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I enjoyed doing last week’s post, so I’m back with the Book Beginnings (hosted over at Rose City Reader) and Friday 56 (hosted at Freda’s Voice) memes for this week!

       

I just wrapped up reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (the third book in the Chronicles of Narnia) with my six-year-old as our bedtime read-aloud. I originally bought the Chronicles of Narnia box set at a used book sale a year or so ago because I’ve enjoyed several of C.S. Lewis’s nonfiction books and wanted to read them. My daughter asked to read them, so we’re slowly making our way through them together. I’ll probably reread them with the next two kids, too 🙂

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Without further ado…

Beginning:

There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and his schoolmasters called him Scrubb. I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none.

Page 56:

It seemed to Lucy that a great valley in the sea opened just before their bows, and they rushed down into it, deeper down than she would have believed possible. A great grey hill of water, far higher than the mast, rushed to meet them; it looked certain death but they were tossed to the top of it. Then she ship seemed to spin round. A cataract of water poured over their deck; the poop and forecastle were like two islands with a fierce sea between them.

As with the other books in the Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is full of great adventures! We’re excited to start the next installment.

Book Review: Letters to Eloise by Emily Williams

33977478Goodreads Description:

Receiving a hand written letter is something that always puts a smile on my face, no matter who the sender is.’ Flora Tierney.

When post-graduate student Flora falls unexpectedly pregnant during her final year studies she hits a huge predicament; continue a recent affair with her handsome but mysterious lecturer who dazzles her with love letters taken from the ancient tale of ‘Abelard and Heloise’, or chase after the past with her estranged first love?
But will either man be there to support her during the turmoil ahead?

‘Banish me, therefore, for ever from your heart’, Abelard to Heloise.

Letters to Eloise is the heart wrenching debut epistolary novel by Emily Williams; a love story of misunderstandings, loss, and betrayal but ultimately the incredible bond between mother and child.

Letters to Eloise is, hands-down, one of the best books I’ve read all year. Before rereading the Goodreads description I quoted above, I was thinking of how to describe the book and “heart-wrenching” was the first thing that came to mind. It was an intensely emotional read for me, I think because I have the great blessing of being a mother. In addition to the emotion, there are a few things that really struck me about the book:

  1. Flora (notwithstanding her out-of-wedlock pregnancy) reminds me a great deal of St. Gianna Beretta Molla in her selfless giving on behalf of her child. The story is a true testament to the value and humanity of the unborn and the power of the bond a mother develops with the child growing in her womb. I don’t think Flora and I would have been friends, and that usually makes it hard for me to love a heroine, but in this case my ability to identify with Flora in her journey as a mother overshadowed everything else.
  2. The story is expertly set in the mid-1990s. So many aspects of the story just wouldn’t work in today’s world of instant communication. No cell phones, no text messaging, limited Internet usage – even reliance on the actual brick-and-mortar campus library! I marvel at the skill Williams demonstrates in having chosen the timing and format for the book and then in weaving the story together so believably. Truly brilliant!
  3. In contrast to some other reviewers, I was not surprised by the ending. HOWEVER – that did not in any way detract from my enjoyment of the book, and I don’t think the story was “predictable” in the ordinary sense of the word. Instead, I think it was truly human. Because we read from Flora’s point of view, her faults are not glossed over; she is aware of her mistakes and forgiving of others’, and we have the opportunity to watch her grow as a person.

All in all, this book was amazing. I highly recommend this one AND Emily’s next book, Rafferty Lincoln Loves…, which I had the great privilege to proofread for her. Check her out at http://emilywilliamsauthor.blogspot.com/.

Five stars!

*Many thanks to author Emily Williams for providing a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.