Gift of Gold by Beverly Butler

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Gift of Gold by Beverly Butler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cathy lost her sight as a teenager, and now as a college student, she’s working to become a speech therapist. When the head of her school’s speech department suggests Cathy’s choice of profession is unrealistic for a blind person, Cathy becomes all the more determined to succeed. But after a doctor’s appointment gives her hope of regaining a measure of her sight, Cathy may roll out a new plan for her future in Gift of Gold by author Beverly Butler.

I remember the day I first came across this novel in my adolescence, seeing the old-fashioned cover art depicting a woman in a green head scarf, holding the harness of a service dog. I had no idea then that the author herself was blind or that I’d be revisiting this novel years later, and then more years after that.

But now having read this book three times, I can say it’s just as powerful as it was to me the first time. Maybe more so.

Yes, I still like the old-fashionedness of it, the plastic rain scarves and typewriters and all. Nevertheless, what I may love most is that this isn’t some predictable, run-of-the-mill tale merely about goals and dreams. This is a complex, soul-searching kind of read. It’s smart in style with wit and wisdom. Not at all fast-paced, but anything but flat.

In the last quarter especially, Cathy’s journey pulls no punches. It even gets pretty depressing for a while, but I find it all the more compelling for not being too easy. The truth, growth, and hope in Cathy’s story is earned. Plus, there’s a nice little thread of down-to-earth romance tied in.

A novel about not only facing your outward challenges but taking a deep, honest look at yourself—so worth the read.

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Gift of Gold is the sequel to Light a Single Candle, an award-winning book I’ll admit I’ve never read. 🙂 Though the sequel stands alone just fine, you may want to check out both books.

  

 

The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Fargenstropple Case by Lia London

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Terrence Morgan has no interest in investigating any more troubles of little importance at the Fargenstropple estate, especially since he’s been promoted to Chief Inspector at work. But when stolen family jewels factor into the estate’s latest disturbance, Terrence doubles down in The Fargenstropple Case by author Lia London.

Delightful! Simply delightful, this short and sweet mystery is. It has a positively British flair, complete with British spellings and characters with a pleasant bunch of surnames, such as Nigglesby and Crumfellow. There are also plenty of animals (including rodents, if you don’t mind those), and a jaunty thread of romance adds to the fun. I ran into a few minor grammar issues concerning dialogue tags, but it’s possible they’re there intentionally, for comedy’s sake.

I count it a boon to sometimes find mysteries that involve cases other than murder. Of course, murder-less mysteries don’t all have to be as quirky as this one, but if you’re looking for an hour or two of light and hilarious entertainment with clever twists, you’d do well to check out this little number.

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A young girl, Liesel, in Nazi Germany, with stolen books as her prized possessions. Her foster family, secretly, illegally sheltering a Jew. Life, Death, and the power of words meet in The Book Thief, a novel by author Markus Zusak.

I picked up a copy of the film based on this book, but I didn’t want to watch it without reading the original story first. So I read it.

I stopped reading for a while, toward the middle of it. Stopped, sighed, and wept after reading about Liesel reading one of her books, one she didn’t steal. I guess the rest of my weeping during a number of other scenes was just more of a deep, inward groan.

There were also parts that made me smile, and times when I had to pause and shake my head at some of the brilliant turns of phrase that fill this novel: ironic, ominous, and beautiful turns by turns.

Having already caught snatches of praise in the wind about this book, I did my best not to hear too much more before I read it, since a book’s wide acclaim doesn’t guarantee that I’ll personally love it. And, honestly, it’d be one thing for an author to use tragic themes from World War II and the Holocaust and to merely write a grim, sad novel, as grimness and sadness alone aren’t enough to make a novel resonate with me.

But to tell a raw, nuanced, layered, crushing, bittersweet, and haunting story that affirms life even in the midst of death… That’s something else. That resonates.

A singular work, this is.

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Note to my blog readers: along with depictions of wartime violence, this book contains a moderate amount of profanity.

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Shortly after I finished the novel, I did indeed watch the film.

 

Ace Carroway and the Great War by Guy Worthey

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Ace Carroway and the Great War by Guy Worthey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Cecilia Carroway has become an ace pilot fighting with the Allies in World War I, but she gets shot down behind enemy lines and is taken prisoner. She and a misfit crew of other Allied prisoners will have to find a way to escape, and she’s determined to do some damage along the way in Ace Carroway and the Great War by author Guy Worthey.

Well! I wanted something different with this book, and that’s what I got: maybe a mix of alternate history and a bit of a steampunk sci-fi adventure. Can’t say I pinned down the right genres, but I thoroughly enjoyed this novella nonetheless.

It kind of reminded me of a top-notch 60s movie, The Great Escape, in some ways. There’s something old-fashioned about the style, and the story deals with a serious war without taking itself too seriously, but also without being a mere joke. I could laugh at some parts, while other parts hit me in the gut.

And as for Ace. She is one bad, bad chick. Capable, competent, compassionate, commanding. Doesn’t make a show of being arrogant, doesn’t make a show of being modest. She’s almost too perfect, but she’s got a weakness or two, and you can tell she’s human. Ace and the odd, multicultural bunch of prisoners she teams up with didn’t take long to grow on me.

Also, given that Ace is the only woman in her Allied crew, it would’ve been the “easy thing” to turn the crew’s scenario into something sexual, and I’m pretty sure the characters are aware of it, somewhere in their minds. But they don’t go there, plain and simple. This story doesn’t need it, wouldn’t have had convincing time for it anyway, so I appreciate that it wasn’t just thrown in for conspicuous kicks.

I understand there are further Adventures of Ace Carroway to come. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for ’em.