Monday, December 17, 2018

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

This was very good and sad, about a historical event I rather shamefully didn't know much at all about.  In 1947 India gained independence from Britain and split into two countries:  India and Pakistan.  Pakistan was for the Muslims.  India was for the Hindus and everyone else.  If you were caught on the wrong side of the border at the partition, you had to leave.  Violence broke out.  Many people died.  Many more lost everything.  How can normal people become so violent and hateful, especially when they have been coexisting for years?    

And why do we never learn?

The writing was good, but as always in the diary format, I had a bit of a hard time suspending my disbelief.  When you're writing in your diary, you don't remember long conversations exactly.  A diary is also a rough draft, so it's hard to read something polished and sometimes poetic and believe it's a diary entry.  Especially when it somewhat artificially builds suspense.  But this is just my own personal, subjective problem with the diary format.  The format does have its poignancy, especially since she's writing to the mother she never knew.

I liked the characters and the sense of setting and history and the cooking details.  The pacing was good. 

It got just a tad heavy-handed in parts.  I think the message could have been stronger if it were a little more subtle.

I love the way historical fiction can bring to life something you may have only read dry dates about in some history class.  And this particular event is something that is very, very relevant today. For that alone, it's worth reading.  Of course, the people who need to read this are probably the people who won't.  Still, every soul touched, every mind changed, is valuable. 
I would recommend this and I would certainly read more by Hiranandani. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Montreal, Quebec

Some photos from my trip to Montreal in early October.  The leaves were just turning.  So beautiful--and interesting to see the patterns of how they changed.

The metro:

One tree turning:

More leaves!

Cool decorative gourds.  Gourds and pumpkins were all over on my trip, from Montreal to Quebec City, to Sydney, Nova Scotia, to New York City:

Waterside park with various amusements.  The rope course looked super fun.

Les chuchoteuses (The gossipers) tucked in a little corner.  A young boy was getting a kick out of his mom pretending to gossip with them.

Just another European-looking street in Old Montreal:

We only had a short time in Montreal, but I would go back again.   

For budget travelers, there are various hostels with quite good rates.   

Monday, December 3, 2018

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This is such a beautiful, sad, happy, loving, heart-breaking book. 

I did have to suspend my disbelief quite a bit (How did Ivan know some of the things he knew?  How would he make comparisons to things he had no experience of?  How did he easily and immediately talk to the dog and elephant if he couldn't talk to people and it took him a long time to understand human language?)  Okay, okay, these are quibbles from a person who likes my fantasy realistic and internally consistent.  But it was so charming and lovely and soulful that I didn't really care much. 

I also thought the mini-paragraph style fit the narrator.

I really liked The One and Only Ivan and would highly recommend it.  I also now want to read more by Katherine Applegate.

More accurate rating:  4.5

Find it on Amazon:  The One and Only Ivan

Friday, November 30, 2018

NaNoWriMo vs. Blog

I hadn't realized how long it's been since I've posted.  I guess NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) has taken up all my writing energy.

I just passed 50,000 words on my NaNoWriMo, so I completed the main goal!  Yay!

If any of you writers out there haven't heard of NaNoWriMo, check it out for next year.  It's a fantastic motivator:

But never fear, I'll start posting more in the new post-Nano month of December.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Monday, October 8, 2018

Wolves and Deadly Beautiful

In Deadly Beautiful; Vanishing Killers of the Animal Kingdom by Liana Joy Christensen, I found this beautifully expressed and heartbreaking quote.

"Our shared dreams, nightmares, fables and fairy tales are still full of wolves. Our world is not."