Sunday, February 15, 2015

Library Hotels, Book-Related Jobs and Jaye Wells Deadly Spells, plus The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

I would LOVE to stay in any of these lovely library hotels! What a great idea!
In honor of the recent National Libraries Day
featured its picks for "the best Library hotels
including New York City's Library Hotel 
where "each floor of this 60-room Manhattan hotel has been assigned a
category of the Dewey Decimal System and kitted out accordingly. The
eighth floor, for example, is 'Literature' with rooms entitled 'Fairy
Tales,' 'Poetry', and even 'Erotic Literature.' All rooms come with a
range of books, but bibliophiles can also hunker down in the communal
Reading Room or the rooftop Poetry Garden, which offers spectacular
views of New York--if they're not too engrossed in a novel, that is."

These are, indeed, some great jobs that involve books, but many of them don't pay a living wage, which is something that Reading Rainbow neglects to mention. Also, journalism, at least in its print form, is a dead career path. I should know, I am one of many journalists who can't find work anymore because magazines and newspapers aren't paying much of anything, if they pay writers at all, and if they're still actually printing a physical paper instead of just going online. Typsetting is another job listed here that is as dead as Latin.
Reading Rainbow: 'Book-Related Jobs and Hobbies'
"Hey kids (or adults, we don't discriminate), do you LOVE BOOKS? Do you
love books so much that you want to surround yourself with them? Sleep
with them? Swim in them??" asked Reading Rainbow
in a blog post headlined "Book-Related Jobs and Hobbies: How to Surround
Yourself with Books."

Noting that "sometimes when you love books as much as I've described
above, you want to make it official," Reading Rainbow wrote: "Believe it
or not, there are jobs out there that allow book-lovers such as
ourselves to live, breathe, and talk about books all day long.... These
jobs may be book-related, but they aren't all fun and games. These jobs
still require diligence, hard-work, and creativity. But the rewards are
worth it--you get to surround yourself all day long with books, and just
as important, surround yourself with other PEOPLE who love books as much
as you do!"

The Nightingale is Kristin Hannah's 22nd novel, and it's truly a riveting read.
Taking place in Nazi-occupied France in 1939-40, Vianne and Isabelle are two very different sisters who must each make heart-rending decisions to survive during the war. Vianne is mostly concerned with the survival of her daughter, while Isabelle, who is "impetuous" and selfish, feels compelled to take incredible risks to help the French resistance. Here's the blurb:
In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.
FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front.  She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth.  While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely.  But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war.   The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women.  It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Perhaps it is because of my age (54) that I found Isabelle not quite as charming as I was meant to, but it seemed to me that she put her sister and her niece at risk of capture, torture and death all too often. I understand being passionate and hating what the evil Nazi troops had done to her home and to her country, but there was little reason, I felt, for Isabelle to be so unconcerned of other's health and happiness.  She seems to be rather like a petulant child who refuses to believe that she's as cruel as she really is. Vianne's warmth and good sense are a fine balance for Isabelle, however, and as the story goes on, we learn about the grueling day to day scramble for survival that was the hallmark of WW2 France. 
Bravery of many kinds are on display, and eventually Isabelle lands herself in a concentration camp. When she's finally released, she manages to once again embrace the man she has loved for years, who rejected her out of fear several times. The ending is gorgeous and worthy of all the tears I'd shed. I've read a number of fictionalized accounts of WW2 and the occupation of France and of Poland and other countries. In fact, I am currently reading another book about Polish sisters trying to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland, while harboring a British pilot (The Winter Guest by Pan Jenoff). But while many of these WW2 novels get bogged down in the horrific details of the war and the cruelty of the Nazis, Hannah manages to avoid that trap with beautiful prose that glides along the gently flowing plot. It's like listening to a symphony perform a classic piece of music for the 20th time. They know it by heart, yet you can enjoy the expertise they bring to the table. A solid A, with the recommendation that history buffs and Francophiles, as well as romance lovers should seek out this lovely novel that turns a horrific subject into something beautiful.

Deadly Spells is Jaye Well's third urban fantasy novel in the Prospero's War series.
As I've written about the first two novels in this series, the characters are nicely drawn, full bodied and realistic, while the plots seethe with action and adventure in the magical slums of the big city. My only real problem with these books has been the excessive use of profanity that made the characters seem stupid, or at least not smart enough to realize that there are other, better words to use. Still, the rest of the prose, the characters and the zingy plots make the novels nearly impossible to resist. I started Deadly Spells this morning around 9:30 am and was finished by 3:30 pm. Other than taking bathroom breaks, and rest stops for food and to clean up a bit, I didn't put the book down the whole time. Here's the blurb:


After the grisly murder of a dirty magic coven leader, Kate Prospero and The Magical Enforcement Agency team up with the local police to find the killer. When a tenacious reporter sticks her nose in both the investigation and Prospero's past in the covens, old ghosts resurface.

As the infighting between covens turns ugly, an all-out war brews in the slums of Babylon..
Deadly Spells is the third novel in the Prospero's War series that started with Dirty Magic and Cursed Moon!

When her commander is in trouble and Kate's brother ends up getting in fights at school to defend his girlfriend against a wealthy young rapist, Kate ends up having plenty of hard choices to make. I loved that she was able to see her old friend Volos for the evil political creep that he is, and I was also glad to see Kate realizing that Morales is a good guy who is interested in more than just sex...he's in love with her and wants a relationship. I was also glad that some things in Kate's past were cleared up, but it was the ending that had me pumping my fists and shouting "heck yeah!" I also have to say that I noticed considerably less swearing and cursing in this book, vs the previous two.  So all around, an A for Deadly Spells, with the recommendation that those who like gritty urban fantasy give this series a go.

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