Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Turn the Page...Tuesday

                            "Books are a uniquely portable magic" - Stephen King

The first Tuesday of the month always brings the pleasure of Turn the Page...Tuesday with it.  Time to hop over to Adrienne's place at Some of a Kind to add to that reading wish list!

I read some fantastic books in February and here are reviews on a few of them~

First, to fit in with this years Turn the Page Tuesday Challenge is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.  Adrienne has challenged us to read a book each month that has been made into a movie, and then watch the movie.  
Holy cow! This true-crime novel is full of amazing and completely kooky characters. Set in Savannah, Georgia, the author is a journalist who lived in Savannah part time for eight years and met some delightful and very eccentric Savannah residents. I really enjoyed this jaunt through Savannah's society and the voo-doo world in the local cemetary, even with a murder to muck things up a bit.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty,early morning hours of May 2, 1981.  Was it murder or self-defense?  For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares.  John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction.  Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight.  These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else. 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a sublime and seductive reading experience.  Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.

This video is actually made for "Tour Savannah" but has a clip by the author of the book and touches on the movie a bit.  Clint Eastwood directed the movie and John Cusack plays the author.  It was a really good stand-alone movie, but because I had just read the book I found myself yelling at the screen, "Hey!  That's not how it happened!" several times.  I can really see how, to make the movie flow, some times lines needed to be changed but still...this was a true life crime story people!  I do recommend both the book and the movie.  Even though there was a murder, both are fun entertainment.

Next on my reading list was On Folly Beach by Karen White.  My daughter, Brittany, had told me how wonderful this book was and had lent me her copy with very clear instruction to  Give.It,Back.  when I finished!

 On Folly Beach is a wonderful novel full of full-bodied characters that drag you in from the beginning and make you love them. Set in WWII era, this is the story of Maggie, a young woman who owns the local bookstore and is raising her little sister Lulu after they have lost their parents. The girls beautiful cousin, Cat, has lost both of her parents as well and is living with the sisters on Folly Beach. Cat has recently lost her husband, Jim, in the war but of all three girls she seems to be the one who is grieving the least for this terrible loss. Cat wants to go dancing on the pier and drags Maggie along in her wake. As Maggie sits at their table watching Cat dance with the soldiers, she is approached by a handsome man who introduces himself as Peter. Peter is a traveling salesman for his father's company in Iowa but makes it a point to come back often to Folly. As the two begin to spend more time together they fall in love but for Maggie, her sister always comes first, as well as a deathbed promise she made to her mom to always take care of Cat. Their have been rumors of German U-boats seen off the coast and American oil tankers have been sunk, so as the war continues the residents of Folly have to start using precautions such as blackout shades on their windows.

The story alternates between the WWII era of Folly Island and present day. Emmy has just lost her husband Ben, a soldier in Afghanistan and with the pushing of her own mother has purchased the old bookstore in Folly. As she goes through the books left by the previous owner, Maggie, Emmy starts to find notes written in the margins of the books. Some written in the delicate hand of a woman and others in the masculine fashion of a man. The notes intrigue her and as Emmy gets to know 77 year old Lula and her family, she begins to dig into the notes and try to find out who wrote them and what the story is. It seems that the grouchy old Lula does not want the past dug up and is holding on to it tightly. Emmy cannot help thinking that there is a mystery to unearth and it also is helping her to not focus so much on her own grief. 

This is a richly written story with amazing characters. I really loved Maggie but cannot even say that the other less likable characters did not steal my heart in one way or another. I was intrigued by the history and did not know that a German spy ring had invaded our country or that so many American ships were sunk during the war. Where was this all in history class, or was I sleeping through that part? As the mystery unfolded, I could not put the book down and was actually late getting back to work after lunch two days in a row...oops!

Several big themes in this book, but my favorite was learning to recognize "when it's been long enough" in the context of getting on your life after a tragedy or life changing event.

Then, I moved on to People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks which had been sitting on my shelf for a good year at least~
People of the Book is a work of richly imagined historical fiction that follows the famous Sarajevo Haggadah from 1996 Sarajevo back in time to 1480's Seville. Dr. Hanna Heath is a rare book expert and conservationist who has been offered the task of researching and restoring this incredibly rare book. She discovers some foreign objects inside this ancient book that leads her on a trek to discover the journey the Haggadah has been on in it's lifetime. 

Inspired by an actual book and a few true facts, Geraldine Brooks has written and imagined a fascinating story for this Jewish book and the people who contributed to it, from the artist of the illustrations to the librarian who saved it from the Bosnian bombings. 

One of my favorite quotes:
'We did not believe in the war. Our leader had said, 'It takes two sides to have a war, and we will not fight.' Not here, not in our precious Sarajevo, our idealistic Olympic city. We were too intelligent, too cynical for war. Of course, you don't have to be stupid and primitive to die a stupid, primitive death. We know that now.'

I read a few other good books this past month as well but I think I've prattled on enough for now.  Tell me, where has your reading taken you lately?  Pop over to Turn the Page...Tuesday to join in!


  1. WOW! You did do some great reading this month. I read Midnight some time ago and wanted to go to Savanah as soon as I put the book down - ha! Some interesting characters indeed! My library has Folly - yae! Sounds like a good one too. People sounds good too - I love when a book takes truth and then runs with it ;-) I've got your link up. Glad you joined in ... I've added 2 more to my list - ha!

  2. What interesting books! I just saw The Night Circus on sale at Target (of all places!) and it looks interesting. I will look forward to your review!

  3. These all sound so good. I like to keep my eye out for the books that are reviewed on TTPT at thrift shops.

  4. We were in Savannah last spring for a wedding and have been wanting to read Midnight since then.

  5. read the garden of good and evel years ago and when I was in new orleans a few years back, actually thought of the book when we were travelling through some older neighborhoods and cemeteries. have to keep a look out for the others. I bought a few books at walgreens the day I came home from my foot surgery and one was just ok and the other is so hard to follow I am not going to even finish it. I rarely ever not finish a book but it just isn't worth it. Tomorrow I am going on my first outing in two weeks and am getting my regular trim and color bit-----I have a list of must do's one is getting new books---so will look for a few of these.
    take good care


So glad you stopped by to visit!~ I would love to hear your thoughts and know that you've been by!