Literary Travels: Catching Up

Lately I’ve been trying to yet again come to terms with a fact of life that constantly plagues me; having to postpone one love for another.

If I want to get married, I have to stop traveling and save money. If I want to have money, I have to stop sitting in my window seat reading and go to work. If I want to write my blog, I have to stop having fun with friends and family every weekend.

Blaaah. I am slow to come to terms on this one. It’s really frustrating.

Things have been tremendously busy lately, thus my blogging silence. Although I’ve not been keeping up here, I have made up for the neglect in other areas– one being my book pile. I’m signing off on the month of May still on top of my reading goal for 2012 = three books a month. Some have been a bear to get through, others have been life altering.

I usually like to review those novels with a distinct travel angle here, but I’m a little behind. Instead of trying to remember everything about all of the recent reads, I’ve decided to just do a quick literary recap.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

I have been reading quite a bit of historical fiction lately, most recently The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman. Set in Poland in WWII, the novel is based on the real life story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, zookeepers at the Warsaw Zoo, and how they were able to smuggle Jews to freedom using the zoo and their villa on the property.

It was fascinating to see the relationship between the couple, especially Antonina, and the animals, as well as how blurred the lines became between human and animal throughout the war as everyone just tried to survive. The Zabinski’s were successful in helping many individuals escape, and it was fascinating to consider how much stress and pressure they were dealing with on a moment to moment basis and how they managed in such a high-profile location as a zoo.

It was sometimes a little slow and sometimes the narration wasn’t extremely compelling–more factual, as the author references the actual documents, such as letters, journals, etc. that were used as the basis for the story. But overall I thought there was a lot of interesting history and I always enjoy a different point of view or different look at the events of WWII.

I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

A Walk Across the Sun

I don’t remember where I got the recommendation for A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison–possibly a Barnes & Noble  email or the book review section of the paper, but it was wonderful and moving. The storyline follows a lawyer who is struggling with the loss of his child, the fallout of his marriage and the temporary delay of his career. When told by his firm to take a short break, he decides to work for an organization in India that helps fight child and women trafficking. Convenient as his wife returned to India after their fall out and he now has an opportunity to try to win her back.

Meanwhile, you also follow two Indian sisters who lose everything in a tsunami, try to get to their school for help and are abducted into the Indian people trafficking system. Their stories collide when the lawyer and his organization busts a trafficking ring and find one of the sisters; he is then compelled to find the other.

The whole idea of people trafficking is so bizarre and disgusting that I was completely immersed from beginning to end and then went about researching organizations that attempt to help the situation as well as people trafficking stats from my own state and region. I was surprised and appalled that Northeast Ohio does have a fairly significant trafficking problem–I think it was easy to read the book and say, this only happens in places like India. It does not–it happens everywhere, and this book was an excellent awakening to me. I feel more informed on the issue and mention this book and what I know when the conversation comes up.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.


I LOVED Little Bee so when Incendiary by Chris Cleave came out, I went and bought it without knowing a thing about it. It wasn’t nearly as good. It was about a mother who lost her son and husband in a terrorist bombing of a football match in England and how she, and the country, try to put the pieces back together as the War on Terror begins around the world. The book is written from the mother’s point of view as though she’s writing to Osama bin Ladin, which was an interesting approach, but the train of thought writing style got old REALLY fast. There was very little to keep me turning the pages.

I didn’t mind going through every single one of her thoughts and considering them and how war, terror, etc. interrupt every bit of our lives and change the way we live them, but at points I felt things were repeating, no new information or contemplation was being added, and I just wanted things to wrap up. The ideals and approach were right, but the final product wasn’t worth it.

I gave it 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

The Time In Between

I saw a write-up on The Time In Between by Maria Duenas, got the book from the library at work, considered how long it was and how many other books I had to read, and returned it without cracking it open.

Huge mistake.

Luckily I kept thinking about the book and how I NEVER do not finish a book or turn away from a book without giving it a full blown chance, so I reordered it from the library.

Could not put it down.

The plot played right into my WWII streak lately, but this was a completely different setting–Spain and Morocco with a touch of Portugal. The story outlines the conflict in Spain before WWII, how many people, including the female lead, we forced to leave the country for safety during the civil way–many to Morocco–and how a series of unfortunate events leave her stranded there having lost all her money, her male companion and their unborn child.

With the help of the local police chief and many friends she finds along the way, the heroine opens a fashion boutique, pays off many of her debts, falls into a hopeless romance, becomes involved with individuals in high places, rescues her mother from Madrid and rightens herself just in time to get sucked into the British Secret Intelligence. She heads back to Spain, opens a shop and recruits Nazi wives as her clients, and proceeds to send messages resulting from her spying to the British. Everything culminates in an amazing and unforgettable ending.

Every chapter was a new adventure–there was never a dull moment. The history, romance, action, intrigue–it was fabulous.

I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I rarely give a book a complete score, but I truly loved this book.

That brings us up to speed on my literary travels–the next items on the pile are fantasy and NYT Best Sellers.

What are you reading?

2 thoughts on “Literary Travels: Catching Up

  1. On the Road is a great summer read; one of my pals is obsessed with it and reads it at the beginning of every summer. The new movie version is coming out soon so I think you should read it before then; everyone will be talking about it after the movie releases and you should enjoy it unspoiled by everyone else’s opinions.

    Thank you for reading my blog and leaving me comments. It’s nice to know I’m not always writing to the abyss.

    Finally, I am sacrificing as much as possible to pay for this wedding in advance so I can go back to being irresponsible and carefree. :)

  2. Mr. Fun

    I’m trudging through The Man in the Iron Mask right now, but I just got a recommendation for On the Road so I think that might be next. I always enjoy reading your blog and I hope you save enough money for your wedding soon so you can get back to doing fun things.

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