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As an aspiring writer, I blog about whatever happens to move me at the moment -- though some posts contain serious content, my big-picture goal is to bring a little humor into an often humorless world! Welcome, y'all, and make yourself at home! Please make sure you update your bookmarks!

When you are offended at any man's fault, turn to yourself and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger...Epictetus

Monday, September 7, 2009

Three Books I'm Glad I Stuck With

I've found that most of the books I read are just so-so. They're written moderately well and they have, for the most part, decent plots and characters. But, since this is not a book blog, I seldom comment on anything I didn't like -- or even anything which was simply "okay" -- I'll leave that to the book bloggers who provide so many excellent reviews. Sometimes, though, a book, while starting slow, ends up absolutely captivating me. Three of my recent reads did just that:

I, Mona Lisa (Jeanne Kalogridis), set during the era of the powerful Medicis and Leonardo Da Vinci, was one I could not put down. My first reaction was, "ugh, it's written in first-person" (not my favorite) but I got over that and, by the end, I didn't want the book to be over. As with all historical novels -- especially those built on real historical people -- there are liberties taken -- but the "what ifs" are endlessly fascinating.

Beneath a Marble Sky (John Shors) was another one written in first-person and set in 17th century India -- not my usual choice. About the construction of the famed Taj Mahal, I thought it might be interesting -- and it was. And, as usual, when I read a novel based on fact, I spend time reading about the actual story -- which was as interesting as the novel.

City of Shadows (Ariana Franklin) was one of those novels I thought I might put down (though I seldom do that once I start). I had read many good reviews of Ms. Franklin's other novels (and the ones she writes as Diana Norman) so, when I found this one on the discount table at Borders, I figured, for $3, I couldn't go wrong. However, the book was set during a time -- between World War I and World War II -- which doesn't interest me as much as other eras. The writing was good but Germany, during the rise of Hitler, was not to my liking. But I kept reading and I'm glad I did. About halfway through the book, I was hooked -- and the twist at the end, I never saw coming. I was affected quite deeply by this novel -- especially at how the author showed Hitler's rise to power as not happening overnight but as a slow, gradual erosion of people's rights and choices.

I plan on reading other works by all three of these authors -- some I already have sitting on my shelves -- along with hundreds of others, waiting their turn. These kinds of books make me acutely aware that I am often rewarded by my decision to keep plowing through novels which don't, in the beginning, appeal to me.

Of course, I still often wonder how it is that certain books get published while others do not. But this post isn't about stuff which annoys me so that'll have to wait for another time.


  1. I read City of Shadows too. Like you, I wasn't too sure about it at first but really enjoyed it. I picked up another of Franklin's books after that (Mistress of the Art of Death I think) but didn't find it nearly as good.

  2. Hi, Tice! I was very surprised at how much I ended up liking CITY OF SHADOWS -- her other books are more up my alley -- as far as time periods go -- but they'll have to be really good to beat CITY.