Grab a Glass of Wine and a Book

By Gini Rainey

“The Twelfth of Never” by Cynthia Boone

When I reviewed Ms. Boone’s book “Where Have You Been” back in January, I had a sense that she was on to something very good. I was right! Her latest book, “The Twelfth of Never” should put her up with some of the better romance novel writers around. Giving her readers a top-notch storyline with characters that are not only believable, but also likable, she has touched all the bases required for a home-run best seller.

Putting a new spin on the age-old formula of rich boy (Harris) who meets poor girl (Cassie), she tells the poignant story of a couple of young kids who meet in 1954 Dallas, Texas. Each goes their separate way to college, him to Yale and her to SMU, without realizing that they love one another. Through their friendly correspondence with each other, Boone tells the passing of time until they both wind up back in Dallas after graduation and realize how much they love one another.

Of course, love can never be easy when you’re young, and Boone has a lot of plot twists and turns scheduled for Harris and Cassie. So many, in fact, that just about the time you think you’ve got it all figured out, you turn the page and discover you don’t.

This is definitely a book that I would recommend you read if you love stories that are loaded up with romance, intrigue, and lovable, as well as despicable characters. You might as well get comfortable when you start reading this one. I promise you won’t want to put it down until you get to the very end.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2015 – Book Baby

“The Book Thief” by Marcus Zusak

Death touches us all, but Liesel Meminger, the heroine of this novel, manages to touch Death with her shining humanity and the words of her young life, penned in the basement of a poor home, where she survives a devastating bombing of her neighborhood in Nazi Germany. Death personified holds her luminous grief and happiness in his pocket in the form of a black book containing her young life’s autobiography, found by Him, forgotten by her, in the time of her greatest shock and horror.

Her love of books and the words that make them alive starts with the most unlikely sort of origin: “The Grave Digger’s Handbook,” found in the snow after her six-year-old brother’s death. At almost ten, Liesel cannot read; but a new foster father finds “The Book Thief’s” first volume and uses it to teach her in the darkest hours of night when her terrors awaken her. Books continue to come to Liesel, and Liesel helps herself to books – from the remains of a burning pile on the Fuhrer’s birthday; from the haunted and ghostly Mayor’s wife.

Zusak’s prose style is marvelously creative and so completely captivating that word by word, moment by moment, the story is nearly impossible to stop reading. Each and every character becomes real, but most memorable may be the father, Hans, whose kindness and courage are inseparable. The voice of Death, the narrator, is different from any other voice that I have heard speaking of the horrors of WWII. In the midst of tragedy, compassion remains, even in the most unexpected places.

I would highly recommend the book as a fictional counterpoint to Anne Frank’s diary for mature teens reading about WWII and the Holocaust, driving home the idea that brave hearts and strong consciences were found even in Nazi Germany. The character of Liesel jumps off the page with the same life and vivacity as Anne. While there can be no direct comparison between a real person and fictional character, both books convey the horrors of WWII through the eyes of the young. “The Book Thief” can also serve as a reminder as to how easily society can push us to overlook individual conscience for personal and financial comfort. The character of Liesel will live long in my memory as few characters have. This book is a real gem and until you sit and swim in its poetic language, its vivid characters, and visceral tragedy, you won’t understand the power of “The Book Thief.”

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2007 – Alfred A. Knopf

“Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs

On the New York Times Best Seller List for more than 52 consecutive weeks, this book follows the story of 16 year old Jacob. Jacob is very close with his grandfather, who has, from Jacob’s earliest memories, told wild stories of his childhood. He even has the pictures to prove it. Granted, the photos look cheap and doctored to Jacob’s 21st century eyes, but that doesn’t change the fact that the stories are fantastic.

However, the stories stop being fantastic as Jacob nears adulthood; his grandfather claims that monsters are following him everywhere he goes, that they’re going to kill him. Jacob dismisses it sadly, believing his grandfather is slowly losing his mind. His belief is shaken when his grandpa is mysteriously murdered, torn apart in the woods behind his home. Jacob is the one who finds his grandfather. Just as the paramedics rush in, Jacob spots a horrific monster prowling the scene, which mysteriously disappears and the mysteries continue.

To be honest, when I first started reading “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” I expected a haunting thriller, full of horror and danger. That is not what this book is. Instead, this book is fantasy/adventure combined with a very unique style of photography, which made the book better than I ever thought it would be. I might compare Riggs’ writing style to that of Lemony Snicket in his book “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

This was a worthy read for those who enjoy eerie, quirky tales. At first I had difficulty deciding  which genre Peregrine belonged: Historical Fiction? Horror? Thriller? Fantasy? But trust me, it is a pleasant mix of all of these and more. It isn’t scary per se, but I think you will find yourself on the edge of your seat for much of the time you spend reading it. The author’s use of vintage photographs is nothing short of genius, and it would hardly have been the same story without them. My sincere hope was that there would be more to the story (it definitely leaves the reader wanting more, but satisfied at the same time).

If you find yourself hungering for more, Riggs has followed up this book with two more along the same vein, “Hollow City: The Second Novel of Mrs. Peregrine’s Peculiar Children,” and his newly released “Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Mrs. Peregrine’s Peculiar Children.”

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2013 – Quirk Books

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