Reading Notes: Some More Thoughts on Pirates and Adventure

Reading Notes: Some More Thoughts on Pirates and AdventurePirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
by Robert Kurson
Published by Random House
on June 16th 2015
Genres: Biography, Mystery, Nonfiction
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
A thrilling new adventure of danger and deep-sea diving, historic mystery and suspense, by the author of the New York Times bestseller Shadow Divers

Finding and identifying a pirate ship is the hardest thing to do under the sea. But two men—John Chatterton and John Mattera—are willing to risk everything to find the Golden Fleece, the ship of the infamous pirate Joseph Bannister. At large during the Golden Age of Piracy in the seventeenth century, Bannister’s exploits would have been more notorious than Blackbeard’s, more daring than Kidd’s, but his story, and his ship, have been lost to time. If Chatterton and Mattera succeed, they will make history—it will be just the second time ever that a pirate ship has been discovered and positively identified. Soon, however, they realize that cutting-edge technology and a willingness to lose everything aren’t enough to track down Bannister’s ship. They must travel the globe in search of historic documents and accounts of the great pirate’s exploits, face down dangerous rivals, battle the tides of nations and governments and experts. But it’s only when they learn to think and act like pirates—like Bannister—that they become able to go where no pirate hunters have gone before.

Fast-paced and filled with suspense, fascinating characters, history, and adventure, Pirate Hunters is an unputdownable story that goes deep to discover truths and souls long believed lost.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Is there anything better than a good pirate book? Especially in the summer? Arrrr! I didn’t think so.

Way back when, I read a fantastic book about German U-Boats and deep sea divers called Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson. One of the divers, John Chatterton, may perhaps be familiar to you? If not, you are missing the adventures of one of the last, great adventurers.

John Chatterton (born 1951) is an American wreck diver. Together with Richie Kohler, he was one of the co-hosts for the History Channel’sDeep Sea Detectives, for 57 episodes of the series. He is also a consultant to the film and television industries and has worked with 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and CBS. – From Wikipedia

After reading Shadow Hunters, I (and my extension, my husband, being the history nuts we both are) became obsessed with deep sea diving. We watched Deep Sea Detectives and other such shows frequently. I read Kurson’s next book, Crashing Through; A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See, even though it had nothing to do with diving, because I just loved his writing. In other words, I really loved the book, the author, and the topic. So imagine my delight when I saw that not only did Robert Kurson had another book coming out, but it featured John Chatterton again! And pirates! Yo ho!

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship has it all. Adventure. History. Danger, greed, and of course, riches. Pirate riches. Gold doubloons, cannons, fine china, and more. I appreciated it all. The reading is fast paced. The research meticulous but not so didactic that it bogs everything down. The tension exquisite. And all to find, not on the ship, but the man who manned it; John Bannister, gentleman pirate. Bannister, lost to history and other pirates more famous, was a singular man with a fascinating story.

One feature of all of Kurson’s books are of man’s determination to be more, to push themselves to be more, than they ever thought possible. In Shadow Divers, Chatterton, Kohler, and company risk their lives to dive to unthinkable depths. Mike May, from Crashing Through, was blinded at the age of three, yet he went on to break records in downhill speed skiing, he joined the CIA, and became a successful business man, inventor, and family man. And again, in Pirate Hunters, Chatterton is thought by many to be too old to be diving at such depths. Now in his sixties, he does it anyway, risking his life, to find the impossible; a real, authenticated pirate ship and make history for finding the actual SECOND pirate ship ever to be found (and authenticated). In my mind, this outlook on life can be inspiration for anyone who wants to be more than they think they can be. Just get out there and do it!

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this fantastic book. It will look great in your beach bag!


Thoughts On: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

13530788Gone Girl
By Gillian Flynn
Crown Publishing Group, Random House
Published 6/5/2012
Ebook, 432 pages
ISBN: 9780307588388
Source: Library

Part of me wants to just echo Jill’s famous review of this book and just say “Whole E. Shit.” But then there is that other part of me, the wordy part, who has Things to Say and is desperate to Say Them, so I’m giving into that side.

But still. Whole E. Shit.

So, if you don’t know the plot of this book, here’s a bit of a summary for you. And I’ll try to keep the smart ass comments to myself as much as possible. You know, until we get to the part where I let ‘er have it.

Nick and Amy Dunne are celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary. Nick wakes to find Amy in the kitchen preparing crepes. The two have been going through a rough patch, but Amy seems optimistic they can work it out. She wants to work it out. Nick doesn’t. Nick goes on to work at the bar he and his twin sister bought when Nick and Amy moved back home from New York City. Nick had been a writer, but after the dot-com bust, he and Amy were both out of work. At the bar, he talks to his sis a bit, has a drink, then gets a call from a neighbor. His door is wide open and the cat (an indoor cat) is outside. Nick is pretty much “eh, whatever” but he comes home to find the door is indeed open, the cat is indeed outside, and the wife is missing. Oh, and the place is a wreck.

Flynn does her absolute stinking best to make Nick into a horrible human being. And she succeeds in spades. Everyone thinks he killed his wife. The neighbors. Amy’s best friend. The cops. The media. Everyone except his sister (who has her suspicions) and Amy’s parents (surprisingly). Flynn works so hard to color Nick the bad guy that you automatically know he isn’t.

Or is he?

Because y’all, nothing is as it seems in this book. Nothing.

Despite the over-the-top melodrama, the ridiculous plot, the back and forth (and back and forth) of who-done-its, and the IN YOUR FACE-NESS of this book, I couldn’t help but be swept away by it. I instantly loved hating Nick. I loved hating Amy! I instantly hated Amy’s parents (and boy howdy, that never changed). I loved the not-knowing-but-knowing what the hell was going on. I love love loved the way Flynn portrayed the media. The media has Nick arrested, tried, and convicted without hours of the announcement that Amy was MISSING. Flynn got this detail spot. on. I hate the way the media influences public perceptions of suspects, and victims in today’s society. I loved and hated the way there was absolutely no one you could trust in this book. I love an unreliable narrator and wow, there are many in this book. This is definitely a novel of never knowing who to trust. Seriously. In this novel, don’t trust anyone. And the way Flynn depicts marriage? Makes you wonder why anyone would do it, goodness.

What I didn’t like was the ending. O.M.G. How I hated the ending. It fit, in it’s very own weird (very) way. But GEEZ. By the end of this book I had to take a deep breath. I felt like I’d been on a marathon. (I read it in like 24 hours, so yeah, I guess in a way, I had been!) Just hold on and enjoy the ride. And then kick the hell out of that ending. Despite the can’t put it down-ness of the novel, I wasn’t wowed, or surprised, or shocked so much as just slightly sickened by the whole thing. I saw everything that came, coming from a mile away. Oh, and yeah, I just a wee bit pissed off when it was all said and done. That ending…. *shakes head* Let’s just say if I hadn’t been reading it on my Nook, it may have hit the wall.

My review feels a little bit like a hot mess, but when I think about it, that’s how I feel about the book. Like it was a hot, couldn’t put it down, mess.

Bits I liked:

Love makes you want to be a better man. But maybe love, real love, also gives you permission to just be the man you are.

Sleep is like a cat: It only comes to you if you ignore it. (OMG So true)

Give me a man with a little fight in him, a man who calls me on my bullshit. (But who also kind of likes my bullshit.) And yet: Don’t land me in one of those relationships where we’re always pecking at each other, disguising insults as jokes, rolling our eyes and ‘playfully’ scrapping in front of our friends, hoping to lure them to our side of an argument they could not care less about. Those awful if onlyrelationships: This marriage would be great if only… and you sense the if only list is a lot longer than either of them realizes.

Friends see most of each other’s flaws. Spouses see every awful last bit.

Rated 3/5

Other thoughts: Estella’s Revenge, S.Krishna’s Book Blog, Literate Housewife, The Readventurer, Jenn’s Bookshelves, Beth Fish Reads, and tons more….

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce


The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
By Rachel Joyce
Random House, July 24, 2012
336 Pages
ISBN-13: 978-0812993295
Got it from: The Library

I knew as soon as I heard of this book, as soon as I saw the cover, that I would have to read this book. My first impressions were that it would be a sweet, lovely, very English diversion for a day or so.

Boy, was I wrong.

Well, not exactly. It was all those things. It was also just so. much. more. Lemme ‘splain.

Harold Fry has recently retired and seems to be at loose ends. He lives in a lovely little English village with his wife, Maureen. They have been married for a long time, but are really just going through the motions. They tiptoe around each other, give each other the usual pleasantries, they eat together, and go to bed apart. Maureen is literally irritated by everything Harold does. She doesn’t even really like the way he breathes. So you can imagine, his days…they are painful. And they are all the same. They are just gliding through life. Barely living it.

One morning, Harold gets a letter from an old co-worker. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice. And she is dying.

Harold writes a quick condolence card, a “I hate to hear that” kind of missive, tells Maureen he’ll be right back, he’s just taking this note to the mailbox, and out he walks. He makes it to the box, sees it’s a lovely day, and decides to walk to the next box. And the next. And then, well, why not just walk to the post office?

But then he keeps going. And going. And going. He decides he’s going to walk the note all the way to Queenie Hennessy. All the way across the country. Still in his yachting shoes, his light coat and trousers, he will walk across the country. To keep Queenie alive.

Maureen is not happy. Understandably. And also not.

What follows is the what I wasn’t expecting. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is many things; a study of marriage, love, fidelity, friendship, and humanity. Harold’s walk introduces the shy man to friendly faces, helpful people, a few crazies, and so much more. He has to learn to take help, which is so hard for this independent, lonely man. He face many hard truths he has avoided his whole life. And his wife, Maureen does the same. She learns to take help from unexpected, and at times unwanted, places and also faces some hard truths. By the end of the book, I was rooting for this couple like I seldom root for couples in romance/YA novels. I came to love Harold and Maureen dearly and this bittersweet novel. It left me smiling, with bittersweet tears sliding down my cheeks.

The writing. Oh, the writing. It was so lovely. Some bits I liked:

People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The superhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that.

The world was made up of people putting one foot in front of the other; and a life might appear ordinary simply because the person living it had been doing so for a long time.

Harold could no longer pass a stranger without acknowledging the truth that everyone was the same, and also unique; and that this was the dilemma of being human.

He understood that in walking to atone for the mistakes he had made, it was also his journey to accept the strangeness of others.

Beginnings could happen more than once or in different ways. You could think you were starting something afresh, when actually what you were doing was carrying on as before. He had faced his shortcomings and overcome them and so the real business of walking was happening only now.

I better stop there, or I’ll quote the whole book. Okay, one more.

He must have driven this way countless times, and yet he had no memory of the scenery. He must have been so caught up in the day’s agenda, and arriving punctually at their destination, that the land beyond the car had been no more than a wash of one green, and a backdrop of one hill. Life was very different when you walked through it.

Isn’t that so true? We get so caught up in our day to day living, that we forget to look at the scenery. Ironically, this is one thing I love about Instagram. I’m always looking for an interesting picture to share with my friends, and am therefore observing “the scenery” and in turn, capturing the memory.

Needless to say, I completely recommend reading this book. And also, slowing down and “look at the scenery.”

Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

You guys, I’m not sure I can review this book without loosing my cool, so I’m just going to come out with my problem. This cover is white-washed and it seriously disappoints me. Callie LeRoux, the main character, the girl on the cover, our protagonist, is half white, half fairy. The fairy half is dark-skinned. Bluntly, she’s half black. She is described has having dark, kinky hair that her mother has difficulty taming (My hair was another story. My black hair was my mother’s worst enemy. “So coarse,” she’d mutter while she combed the tangles out.) and she has been made to dress in long-sleeves, hats, and scarves all her life to keep her skin light. Throughout the story, which is set in the 1930s dust bowl era, she worries about people finding out her secret.

You see, her race is a major plot point. And she is white washed on the cover. The issues she deals with? Callie even deals with them on the cover of HER OWN BOOK. Random House, I am disappointed in you. You didn’t even put it in the description of the book!

This new trilogy will capture the hearts of readers who adore Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series. Callie LeRoux lives in Slow Run, Kansas, helping her mother run their small hotel and trying not to think about the father she’s never met. Lately all of her energy is spent battling the constant storms plaguing the Dust Bowl and their effects on her health. Callie is left alone, when her mother goes missing in a dust storm. Her only hope comes from a mysterious man offering a few clues about her destiny and the path she must take to find her parents in “the golden hills of the west” (California). Along the way she meets Jack a young hobo boy who is happy to keep her company—there are dangerous, desperate people at every turn. And there’s also an otherworldly threat to Callie. Warring fae factions, attached to the creative communities of American society, are very aware of the role this half-mortal, half-fae teenage girl plays in their fate.

I am a 34-year-old white woman, living in the 21st century. I’m Southern. I’m married. I have kids. I AM WHITE. I am not half anything, not even fairy. And I had no problems identifying with Callie. Her struggle to find her place in this world is universal. Everyone: man, woman, child, teen, adult, black, white; we all go through it. However, blacks have and continue to go through it more. And we all have so much to learn from stories like this. So give us readers some credit, give a race its due, give a great story some credit, and come down off your high horse. Fix the cover.

At first, I wasn’t going to point this out quite so vehemently, but the more I think about it and the more I talk about it with others, the more upset I get. Then the fantastic Leila Roy (from Bookshelves of Doom) reviewed it for Kirkus and she said something that really resonated with me:

I’m going to bring up The Crappy Thing first, though, because if we don’t continue pointing this stuff out, nothing’s ever going to change. Heck, even when we do keep harping, it keeps on keepin’ on anyway.

So, here I am. Harping. Fix the cover. And readers, in the meantime, don’t judge this book by its cover.

Also? This is really not much like Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series. Gemma was more like a witch than a fairy. It was set in a British private school. And she’s very white. Go figure.

Book Review: Finny

She started out life as Delphine, named by her father for the city where the Greek oracle was from, but she’d always had an independent mind about things like names, so she’d gone by Finny ever since she was old enough to choose.

Meet Finny Short, the precocious narrator of Justin Kramon’s remarkable first novel.   Finny is the smallest oddball in her oddball family.  Her father offers random quotes from random people at very random times.  Her mother is a shallow woman, more worried about how things look to other people than to her own family.  Her brother Sylvan gets on well with them.  Finny does not.  She is constantly picking little fights with her parents and, one night when things get to be too much, she “runs away.”

That night she meets Earl Henckel, kind, sensitive Earl, and instantly feels a connection to him.  She finds every excuse to sneak out of the house to meet with him, finally starting piano lessons with his father as a cover.  However, when her prim-and-proper mother discovers that Finny has been kissing Earl, it’s off to boarding school for her.  Here she meets Judith, a rich, beautiful girl who may or may not be good for Finny, and the cast is complete.

It is these two relationships, with Earl and Judith, that will shape Finny’s life.  It’s hard to tell from the first, if either will be good for Finny.  She instantly adores Earl, instantly seems to know she can’t live without him.  With Judith, however, it isn’t so cut and dry.

She felt the way she had when she’d just met Judith, as if this gorgeous young woman had handed her a heavy tray of glasses and Finny had to make sure not a single one dropped.

It’s really hard to say more without giving too much away and I am certain I can’t do it justice.  Finny is definitely one of those novels where I just want to say, “Read it, please!  Trust me.”  I came to this book with nothing more than the description from the publisher and that was enough to tell me I was dying to read it.  This fourteen-year-old misfit is a character you don’t want to miss.  She is wry, innocent, wise, and so endearing.  Earl is borderline too-good-to-be-true, yet also endearing.  I couldn’t help but love him. Justin Kramon is a remarkable new talent. Honestly, I would have never thought this was his first novel.  Finny is a funny, observant, and moving story with a unique love story and an unforgettable heroine.  I will definitely be watching for more from Kramon.

Click here to read an excerpt.

Written by Justin Kronin
Contemporary Fiction
Published by: Random House
Format: Paperback
Pages: 366
On Sale: July 13, 2010
ISBN: 9780812980233

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Book Review: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

I had most of this review written out and I just deleted it. It just wasn’t going right. This is one of those books where I just want to tell you to go read it. Trust me. Go. Read. It. Honestly, I loved this book so much I don’t know how to begin to describe it without gushing. I can’t promise that I can hold it all back, but I will try.

Major Ernest Pettigrew leads a quiet life in the very English town of Edgecombe St. Mary. The Major himself IS Very English. He is wry, honorable, opinionated to the point of being dogmatic, and completely charming. The Major is retired and he is widowed. His son Roger is a complete ninny. He loves a proper cup of tea at the proper time of day. And his brother has just died. It is on the day of his brother’s death that he begins an unlikely friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the widowed Pakistani shopkeeper in the village. She pops in for a moment, but winds up staying for hours to keep company and comfort him.

The Major’s life is deceptively quiet. As I was listening to the story, I felt myself longing for the quiet English countryside, the quiet English evenings of tea and talk and gardening. Yet at the same time, there are so many things going on in this novel. Simonson tackles racism, ageism, disrespect, greed, and so many more. The novel is not dragged down by all these subjects, not at all. It almost feels like a modern day Pride and Prejudice with more elderly…  no, more well seasoned characters for never did Major Pettigrew feel very old to me.  Simonson smoothly weaves all these threads together to create a novel that is quietly compelling.

I loved all of her characters, from the Major, to Mrs. Ali, even to Mrs. Ali’s stubborn nephew and Roger, the Major’s obnoxious son. I love the story, the romance, and the very English sense of humor that permeates the book. But mostly of all, I found myself loving the reader. I listened to the audiobook presentation of this novel and it is fantastic. Peter Altschuler did an amazing job. I still have a hard time believing this was his first audiobook. His voice IS Major Pettigrew to me now. He did a marvelous job distinguishing characters with different tones and different accents. I was utterly enchanted by the book, Mr. Altschuler and Major Pettigrew.

PS: I sincerely hope Mr. Altschuler gets more audiobook work.  And I can’t wait for Ms. Simonson’s next novel!

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand
Helen Simonson
Read by: Peter Altschuler
Category: Literary, General Fiction, Widows, Love Stories
Published by: Random House
Format: Audiobook
On Sale: March 2010
ISBN: 9781400068937

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Book Review: Crashing Through; A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See

As I walked down the hall the other day at work, I abruptly decided to see if I could make it back to my office with my eyes closed – to walk as if I was blind. I would call upon my other senses; touch and hearing in particular, to help me maneuver down the hall without hitting something. Luckily no one was in the hall, as it was quite embarrassing when I promptly ran into the wall. Walking blind was not as easy as I thought it would be. I could not tell where sounds were coming from. Touching the wall worked great – until I ran out of wall. And my brain fought with me, the fear of walking into doors, people or walls made it hard work to keep my eyes shut.

Why did I decide to try this strange experiment? I recently read Robert Kurson’s latest book Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See. I previously read Kurson’s excellent book Shadow Divers and knew as soon as he had a new book out that I would have to read it. I expected a lot, as Shadow Divers remains one of my favorite non-fiction reads and was a thrilling ride of a book – and I was not disappointed.

Crashing Through tells the story of Mike May; downhill skier, former CIA agent, entrepreneur, inventor, family man, and blind, since the age of three. Blessed with a mother who would not take no for an answer, May was never allowed to let his blindness be a handicap. He never let it slow him down and never let it hold him back – he rides motorcycles, drives cars, and travels by himself. He even holds records in downhill skiing. So, when he discovered there was a revolutionary new way for select blind people to regain their sight, and that he was an excellent candidate for the surgery, he did not let any of his misgivings – and there were many – to hold him back.

Robert Kurson has written a moving and inspirational story about one man’s extraordinary determination to be true to himself. This remarkable journey filled with suspense, romance, and courage, plus insight into the human brain, is a must read for any who have struggled with the desire to make something more of themselves.

Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See
Author: Robert Kurson
Category: Nonfiction, Memoirs
Published by: Random House Publishing Group
Format: Hardback
Pages: 320
On Sale: May 15, 2007
ISBN: 978-1400063352
Source: ARC from the publisher, well before I ever had to tell anyone where I got it

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Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney

You want to know what I love about Frank Delaney?  He’s Irish.  And like a lot of the Irish, he’s a born storyteller.  And he’s a good storyteller.  No, a great one.  He has a way with words, a way with a story, and a way with history that is not to be missed.  I first read him when he published Ireland (which I have read at least twice and am thinking is due another read) and I’ve loved him ever since.  So when I got the email asking if I wanted to read this for the tour I was just a *little* bit excited.  What impresses me the most however, is how he is telling the tumultuous story of Ireland herself through of his books Ireland, Tipperary, Shannon and now Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show.

Venetia Kelly brings us to 1932.  Ireland is heading into the most important national election in the Republic’s history and Ben MacCarthy doesn’t know it yet, but is getting ready to be thrust, kicking and screaming, into adulthood.   For while attending Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show is father delivers a crippling blow; he’s not going home.  He’s going on the tour.  With Venetia Kelly.   And Ben has to tell…his mother.

She tells him to go.  Go and find him.  Go and find him and bring him home.

So Ben sets out on his own on a  journey to find his father and bring him home to his mother; not an easy task.  His quest crosses Ireland and politics, his path met with politicians, actresses, acrobats and a ventriloquist’s dummy.  His story is populated with such historical figures as W. B. Yeats and Eamon de Valera (an important figure is Ireland’s politics).   The novel teems with intrigue and Delaney’s trademark humor and explores two of the things Ireland is famous for: theater and politics.

Honestly, the politics part kind of left me cold.  I’ve never been very interested in it.  But Ben’s story, that, I loved.   It’s a coming of age story, the coming of age for the newly young, newly independent, Ireland and a young man who must grow up much faster than he should.   This is not a quick read.  Delaney is a true Irish storyteller.  He takes his time and tells the story proper and meanders through little side journeys along the way.   I don’t always like such a nonlinear book, but when it’s Frank Delaney and he’s telling me the story of Ireland, I don’t care.  My own Irish blood sings to hear the story of one of the many places my ancestors came from. Like Ireland, Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show left me yearning for more.   As the jacket copy says:

Frank Delaney once again delivers an unforgettable story as big and boisterous as the people and events it chronicles.

For more about Frank Delaney check him out on Facebook, Twitter, his website and on his Amazon Author page.

Also the publisher  is offering an extra copy of the book to each of you as a giveaway to you, my readers! (US/Canada only).  If you would like to win a copy of the book, please fill out the following form and I will pick a winner on Monday.  Thanks and may the luck of the Irish be with you!

Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show: A Novel
Author: by
Frank Delaney
Historical Fiction
Published by: Random House
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
On Sale: February 23, 2010
ISBN: 978-1400067831

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Thank you to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for supplying me with this book.

This also counts towards the Ireland Reading Challenge!

Other reviews on the tour:

Tuesday, March 16th:  The Literate Housewife Review

Wednesday, March 17th:  Luxury Reading

Thursday, March 25th:  Trish’s Reading Nook

Monday, April 5th:  Stephanie’s Confessions of a Book-a-holic

Wednesday, April 7th:  My Two Blessings

Wednesday, April 14th:  2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews

Thursday, April 15th:  Cheryl’s Book Nook

Monday, April 19th:  Fizzy Thoughts

Tuesday, April 20th:  Rundpinne

Wednesday, April 21st:  Worducopia

I am a Book Depository, Powells, and Indie Bound Affiliate and will make a very small profit
if you buy a book through one of my links.

Waiting for Columbus by Thomas Trofimuk

I am in one of those very delicate positions of wanting to write a review of a book I am absolutely crazy about.  I have to hit that perfect balance of telling you just how great this book is, without overdoing it.  Even describing what Waiting for Columbus, Thomas Trofimuk’s debut novel, is about is hard.  There is just so much there, too much to even hope to condense in a cognizant way, but I shall try, for you, my dear readers, because I loves you and wants you to read this book because I knows whats best for you. Trust me.

Christopher Columbus is alive and well and he’s looking for his ships so that he can sail to the west and prove that it is possible, and quicker, to sail to Japan and India by that route.  At least that is what the strange, good-looking, angry man who was pulled from the Straits of Gilbrator would have everyone believe.  When he is taken to an asylum in Seville, Spain, he understandably flips out.  Once calm, he begins to tell his story to his nurse, Consuela, who is instantly intrigued, and smitten, with this strange, sad, confused man.

Columbus’s stories are passionate, haunting, and spellbinding.  As he tells his stories, this man’s own, true story, begins to come to the surface.  Small clues at first, like the suggestion of a telephone, or a television, show that Columbus isn’t exactly who he thinks he is.  It all builds up to a crescendo that, once met, leads to an astonishing portrait of one man’s desperate mission to forget the one, tragic thing, that lead to such an unusual, and heartbreaking, split from reality.

This is Trofimuk’s first novel, but it definitely does not read like a first novel.  He definitely knows what he’s doing.  The writing is without a doubt some of the most beautiful and poignant I’ve ever read.  He brought me to tears with one. word.  One word.  And it was such a simple word, but it was heartbreaking.  And please, don’t let my talk of tears and heartbreaking and poignancy put you off.  This book is sad, yes, but it is so beautiful.  I’ll give you a quote, to wet your appetite…

He looks at her as she sets the chessmen in their starting positions. Her astounding blue eyes-a cross between periwinkle and navy.  Shoulder-length black hair and a smile that ruins him.  It’s as if her smiles do not come froma shallow place but, rather, come from the holy place in her, where prayers, and faith, and love exist.  It is not that she rarely smiles.  Consuela smiles often.  It is just that he has noticed her smiles are not frivolous.  They are, inded, like prayers, like colorful flags with prayers printed on them. p.278


There are days when she wishes she could be blunt, or even violent.  She’d like to shake him-get the remaining stories to fall onto the ground.  Then they could stand around and look at the bones of his stories, all haphazard and abstruse on the pebbles.  In the clear light of day, they could perhaps make sense of these bones, put them in order, find the end, and more important, find the beginning before the beginning. p281.

See? The prose!  It’s beautiful!  Don’t look to Amazon for reviews of this book, those buggers don’t know what they are talking about.  Look at what I, Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog (whose review is the one that pushed me to read this book) and Fizzy Thoughts have to say.


Waiting for Columbus is a dazzling, devastating,one of a kind book that I found impossible to put down. I talked about it non-stop as I was reading it, and I don’t intend to stop any time soon. This is a read that will keep you breathless and leave you gasping for more. 5 out of 5.

And Fizzy:

While the bulk of this novel is about Columbus and his entertaining stories, the end is what makes the book. But I can’t tell you about the end, because then I’d just destroy your reading journey. Let me just say it’s incredible. Moving. And awesomely done. You just have to have faith that everything will be explained, and sit back and enjoy the experience.

This is one of those novels that will stay with you.  It is one that won’t let you put it down.  It is one of those novels that, once you turn that last page, will be begging you to read it again.  It’s one of those novels that might very well change your life. It is definitely a great way to start the reading year.

Waiting for Columbus
Written byThomas Trofimuk
Fiction – Psychological
Published by Random House
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
On Sale: August 25, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-385-52913-6 

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Author website
Personal copy obtained through my local library.

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The Book Lady’s Blog | Fizzy Thoughts | Sophisticated Dorkiness

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