Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Books to Keep you Reading

I was looking through my bookshelves yesterday and realized how many good books I've read over the years. Especially over the past year or so.

I've decided to share a few, two of which were written by Canadian authors - so share the love -

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan was a surprisingly enchanting read. I picked it up on a whim because the story sounded interesting and I saw in the back blurb that the author was Canadian. The story is set in Niagra Falls at the dawn of WWI, which hooked me like nothing else could. I grew up about 6 hours away from Niagra Falls and can remember all the times over the course of my childhood when my family and I would take summer visits to the city. My favourite part of course wasn't the strip of arcades and funhouses along the main thouroughfare, but the falls themselves, so big and vast and pulsing with overhwelming and often intimidating power. I swear if you ever go to see the falls you'll know what I mean. They really are a sight to be seen. So, knowing that this books was set in 1915 around the time that big power companies started utilizing the natural resource of water the falls provided, ultimately changing the landscape of Niagra Falls for good, I knew this was a book I had to read. The story follows seventeen year old Bess Heath, fresh from school and returning home to a family and word forever changed. I read this book over the Christmas holidays and ended up finishing it while visitng my best friend Chelsey (http://www.chellybooks.com/) who lives about 20 minutes from the falls. We went to see them the night I closed the last page :) 

Tempting Faith Di Napoli by Lisa Gabriele is another novel by a Canadian author. I read this years ago when my mom bought it for me as a gift. If I recall correctly I was around fourteen and this book hit me hard. The book starts out when main character Faith Di Napoli, is about eight years old or so and travels through the rough and often uncertain years of her tumnultuous childhood and adolescence. Faith is from a Catholic, Italian family and her parents are devoutly religious and expect their children to be the same. Faith, however, discovers the hardships of retaining your faith and moral certitude when faced with the reality of being a teenager. Lisa Gabriele's coming of age novel is also her debut novel and it was impressive. At once hilarious, thought-provoking, witty and heartbreaking this is a great book for those who love coming of age stories and character who ask the big questions. On a side note - I found out years later that one of my mom's good friends from childhood is very good friends with this author. (six degrees of separation right there)

Oh how I loved this book. The Secret Bride by Diane Haeger flew with me over seas to Mexico when I went there for March break two years ago with my mom. I am usually the type to bring fluffy beach read of romances when I go on vacation, but I had just started this book and couldn't put it down.  I am an avid historian when it comes to the Tudor dynasty or the Victorian era. I have my favoruites when it comes to King Henry VIII's court and Mary and Brandon's forbidden love story is one of them. This very well researched, well paced and beautifully written rendition of MaryTudor and Charles Brandon had me hooked the whole way through. Mary, Henry's beloved younger sister and Charles Brandon, the King's best friend fall for one another at an early age...well Mary falls hard - she's ten or so when Charles is already in his twenties. It's the years that follow and the hardships these two face, including Mary's forced marriage and their banishment from Henry's court that makes this love story and book so compelling. This book remains one of my favourites to date.

Emily's Ghost by Denise Giardina is another wonderfully researched and beautifully written historical fiction. This time, focused on the relationship between famous sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte. We all have our favourites, mine is Emily, the writer of only one book I have always adored the haunting romance of Cathy and Heathcliffe. So, I got this book on sale, a bargain at Chapters and immediately dove in. It was beautiful, heartwrenching, frustrating, and haunting. The book focuses on not only the relationship between sisters and the ways in which they found the inspiration for their masterpiece's but also the doomed romance between Emily and clergyman William Weightman, the supposed muse for her wonderfully dark classic. The setting comes to life in this book and one can immediately understand how the sisters came to incorporate the heaths into each of their books. I came out of this story really not liking Charlotte, even though she has never been my favourite. She is just so - ugh - if you read it you'll understand. I wanted to smack her more than once and from all that I have read, Charlotte Bronte really was how she came across in this novel. A beautiful story for Bronte fans.

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