Janice Hall Heck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the category “Fiction Books”

NaBloPoMo 8: WANAFriday: What Would I Do?

NaBloPoMo=National Blog Posting Month. Challenge: Write a post a day in November.

WANA=We Are Not Alone, a group of bloggers who provide mutual support for our writing and blogging efforts. Shepherded by by Kristen Lamb.
WANA Challenge: Write a #WANAFriday post every Friday with a prompt posted by one of our members.

This week’s #wanafriday question/theme comes from WANAite, Cora Ramos.

How did the last book you read change you, or not. What do you want from a good book?
In recent weeks, I have posted several reviews on books I have recently read:
I found each of these books to be well-written and each had a significant message.
I wouldn’t say that these books changed me, but I must admit that I have thought about their messages a number times since finishing them. How would I hold up under these circumstances? What decisions would I make when faced with these incomprehensible challenges?
001 (23)In The Red Kimono, a Japanese family living in San Francisco in 1941, faces discrimination, character assassination, and brutal loss of freedom through no fault of their own.
The story, written by Jan Morrill, relates events that happened in her own family’s world. In reading this book, you face the reality of war-time human interactions and shake your head. How could this happen in our own country? Both major and minor characters struggle with the complexities of a world gone crazy with fear and hate. The characters each learn something in their struggle to survive in their pain and suffering. And the characters have lessons for the reader, too. It is a powerful story, beautifully told.
001The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay is historical fiction, set in Paris, France in the 1860s, when a powerful government under Emperor Napoleon III  decided to modernize Paris by tearing down entire quaint neighborhoods and rebuilding with grand boulevards and modern architecture.
This touching story relates how people from these intimate neighborhoods coped with the change: the young and realistic coped and moved on; the elderly suffered and struggled with overwhelming change in their lives.
Rose Bazelet decided to fight the modernization incursion in her little neighborhood in her own way, and in the meantime, she confronted long-held secrets. The book, written in letters to her late husband, Armand, describe the horror of the destruction of near-by neighborhoods. Soon the destruction reaches her own dearly-loved neighborhood. It’s coming closer and closer to Rose’s house. Now it’s time…
Tatiana de Rosnay, named one of the top three fiction writers in Europe in 2010, wrote NYT  bestsellers Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept.
001M.L. Stedman’s book, Light Between Oceans, presents a compelling moral dilemma for a young, childless couple, Tom and Isabel Sherbourne, who have suffered multiple miscarriages in their short marriage. Isabel’s emotional well-being is tied up in these miscarriages.
The lighthouse keeper has emotional problems of his own dealing with his memories of battles in Europe in WWI. He was one of the lucky ones who arrived home still in one piece, but his memories of battles and close friends who died there, torment him.
Now living on an isolated lighthouse island off the coast of Australia, the couple discovers a dinghy on the beach with a dead man and a live baby in it. How could this be? Is it an answer to Isabel’s prayers and pleading for a child? They can’t possibly fathom why, but here is a live baby that needs care. Is it their responsibility to care for this baby? What is their responsibility in this situation?
The decisions they make have long-ranging consequences. This book is both compelling and heart-breaking.
Why did I like these books?
1. Historical fiction (or books with historical settings) are among my favorites. I love reading about other times and other places.
2. Each one of these books has a compelling story, with complications that challenged the main character’s (and even minor character’s) whole lives and belief systems. These books raise many questions:
How do people react when their worlds fall apart?
Do they rely on their past moral instruction, or do they make it up as they go along.
What are the consequences do they face when going with their hearts and not their reason?
How do people cope with tragedy in their lives? Do they stand up to and go on? Do they fall apart?
What character traits belong to each group?
Would we be like this person or that person?
3. These books give many hours of pleasurable reading, although the tension, at times, runs high.
We don’t know how we would react in these extreme situations, but we hope we would act in accordance with our own long-help beliefs, values, and principles.
The Last Meow
Yes, Missy Jan, I know you like to read, but could you just let me finish my breakfast in peace? Please? I have a busy day scheduled. After I eat, I will play, sleep, then eat again. Let me get started!
Photo: Crash the Cat by Kathy Cherry

Photo: Crash the Cat by Kathy Cherry

Meow for now! =<^;^>=

NaBloPoMo 4: The Light Between Oceans: Book Review

NaBloPoMo_November_smallREAding Two challenges with one entry!

NaBloPoMo

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans

I posted about oceans a bit ago, and that post has gotten a lot of attention: Two Oceans Meet in Gulf of Alaska. Not! So when a friend gave me Stedman’s book recently, and it talks about two oceans meeting in the southern part of our world.

The story’s beginnings…001

A lighthouse keeper and his wife live on a square-mile island, Janus Rock, barely a dot on the map in the shoals a hundred miles off the southwest coast of Western Australia. The nearest land community is the remote Point Partageuse on the coast between Perth and Albany, at a spot where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern (Antarctic) Ocean.

As far as lighthouse posts go, this one is very unpopular and considered to be a hardship post. It’s only link to Point Partageuse is the Windward Spirit, a store boat that brings provisions four times a year. Otherwise, Janus Rock “dangled off the edge of the cloth like a loose button that might easily plummet to Antarctica,” a day-long boat trip away from the mainland.

“From this side of the island, there was only vastness, all the way to Africa. Here, the Indian Ocean washed into the Great Southern Ocean and together they stretched like an edgeless carpet below the cliffs. On days like this it seemed so solid she had the impression she could walk to Madagascar in a journey of blue upon blue.”

Map of Australia from the book The Light Between Oceans, a novel by M.L. Stedman. Look in the southwest corner for the (fictional) Point Partageuse.

Map of Australia from the book The Light Between Oceans, a novel by M.L. Stedman. Look in the southwest corner for the (fictional) Point Partageuse.

“The other side of the island looked back, fretful, toward the Australian mainland nearly a hundred miles away not quite belonging to the land, yet not quite free of it, the highest of a string of under-sea mountains that rose from the ocean floor like teeth along a jagged jaw bone, waiting to devour any innocent ships in their final dash for harbor.”

“The Southern Ocean is treacherous enough on the surface, let alone having that under-sea ridge.”

Lighthouse at Tasmania

Lighthouse at Tasmania (with an example of the undersea ridge with its jagged teeth waiting to devour innocent ships that wander too close)

It is this ocean setting that forms the stage for M. L. Stedman’s novel, The Light Between Oceans. 

1926. Isabel Sherwood, the grieving lighthouse keeper’s wife, tends the tiny grave of her recently miscarried child. She prays the Lord’s Prayer as she works  “…and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”   She hears unexpected sounds in the vast emptiness of her rocky island.

“For just a moment, her mind tricked her into hearing an infant’s cry.
She heard the cry again, louder this time on the early-morning breeze. Impossible.”

From the lighthouse, Tom Sherwood sees a dinghy beached in the cove. Both Tom and Isabel race to the cover only to find the dingy, a dead man, and a crying baby wrapped in a lavender sweater sheltered in bow of the boat.

Tom knows his responsibilities and gets ready to send a message to the mainland authorities to report the arrival of the dead man and a baby. But temptation lingers in the air.

“‘Not yet!’ Isabel said as she touched the baby’s fingers.”

What follows is a tragic tale of right and wrong decisions and their long-term consequences.  It’s a tale of human emotional suffering that outweighs a lifetime of moral responsibility. This book is gripping and heartbreaking. Once you start reading it, you will not want to put it down. You will have many questions when you finish, but you will like the book and its author.

You can read comments on The LIght Between Oceans here: Goodreads.com.

About the location… Some reviewers have suggested that the Stedman’s lighthouse in the book, The LIght Between Oceans, is really the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse on the Western Australia mainland coast.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse. Augusta Margaret River Tourist Association

Tourists who have visited Cape Leeuwin LIghthouse describe the winds and rough oceans, (www.TripAdvisor.com) but no distinguishing marks to actually indicate where the two oceans meet. In reality, they meet at an imaginary line drawn on maps by cartographers.

Stedman says this about the ocean:

“There are times when the ocean is not the ocean, not blue, not even water, but some violent explosion of energy and danger ferocity on a scale only gods can summon. It hurls itself at the island, sending spray right over the top of the lighthouse, biting pieces off the cliff. And the sound is a roaring of a beast whose anger knows no limits. Those are the nights the light is needed most.”

In the end, it is the ocean and the light from the lighthouse that remain constant. The Sherwood’s lives exist only in memory, their story an “unvisited headstone.”

The Last Meow.

Wow, those oceans look a bit rough for me. I’ll just hang out at the beach, if you don’t mind.

Photo credit: Travel Times Magazine

Photo credit: Travel Times Magazine

Meow for now. =<^;^>=

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