(Review) Bandersnatch: C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Creative Collaboration of the Inklings by Diana Pavlac Glyer, Illustrated by James A. Owen

Publisher and Publication Date: Black Squirrel Books/Kent State University Press. 2016.
Genre: Nonfiction. Critical analysis of the writing team of C. S. Lewis and
J. R. R. Tolkien.
Pages: 224. I counted total length of book.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Tolkien and Lewis readers.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon link

Bandersnatch is a book about C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien who were friends and fellow writers. Diana Pavlac Glyer carefully researched how they influenced one another, helped with revisions, encouraged, and criticized. She wanted to know what kind of impact they had on one other?

My Thoughts:
Bandersnatch is a book a Lewis or Tolkien fan will love. Since I’m fond of both writers, this book is of joyful interest.
There are some people who beautifully and even magically click. Their personalities, common interests, and all those things they hold dear are swept up together in a strong and deep friendship. C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien had that special kind of relationship.

Several topics are explored that I enjoyed reading:
How the writers first met, how the Inklings literary group began, other influential members of the group, and their individual writings.
I enjoyed reading about Glyer’s correspondence with Christopher Tolkien.
I enjoyed reading about her findings on why the Inklings literary group worked.
I enjoyed reading about the men themselves: their personalities and brief biographical information.
The pen and ink illustrations add a strong visual appeal (especially the dragons).

Bandersnatch is adapted from a previous book Glyer wrote, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. The link is to Amazon.

(Review) Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2013. First published in 1937.
Genre: Fiction. Women and literature. African American literature. Classic literature. Romance. Relationships between men and women.
Pages: The story has 219 pages. An additional 40 pages for the “Foreword”, “Afterword”, 2 bibliographies, “Chronology”, “P.S.” section, and an excerpt of Barracoon.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of women and literature. Readers of classic literature.
Rating: Excellent.

PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

Christian Book link
Abe Books link
Amazon link

Zora Neale Hurston, 1891-1960

Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of Janie Crawford. She is a light-skinned African American woman living in a rural area of Florida. The time period is the early 20th century. She is raised by her maternal grandmother. The first part of her life is determined by her grandmother and first husband. Then, like a sudden direction change in the wind, Janie is married to another man who takes control of her life. Later, Janie’s life take a different direction.

My Thoughts:
Janie is independent, rebellious, bold, and resilient. She is a person who ponders. She is a person who makes up her mind about a decision and moves forward with determination.
I enjoyed reading the “Foreword” by Edwidge Danticat. It provided well thought-out questions and answers about the story itself. Also, Janie’s choices versus women of this era’s choices. And, has she been a solid “role model for women” and “is this important?”
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a character driven narrative. Janie is a character that provides through her thoughts, attitude, words, behavior, and actions everything needed to make the story dramatic and memorable.
The narrative structure is chronological. The story begins when Janie is a child and progresses to midlife.
This story is less about “what is going to happen next” and more about how Janie is transforming as a person.
This is a story that is full of things to review. It’s a story heavy with further conversations. It is a book highly worthy of a book club.

Questions I have about the story:
~If Janie had children would she have made the same choices?
~Did Janie (at some point) understand her grandmother’s reasoning?
~Why did she tolerate certain behavior from one husband, but not the other husband?

Further Thoughts:
The dialogue is difficult for some readers. They become bogged down in the southern sayings, dialect, and accent. It’s best to read through the dialogue quickly and don’t stop to try and enunciate each word.
The story has author contributions. For example, the behind the scenes information and wise observations.
The story is filled with beautiful quotes. The opening line is beautiful, poetic, and memorable.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a story that provokes my mind and heart. The choices I have made. The experiences I have had. And, my response to those.

Their Eyes Were Watching God is now a favorite book of mine. It’s a story I treasure.

(Review) The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher and Publication Date: Bethany House. 2017.
Genre: Christian fiction. Mystery. Suspense. Romance.
Pages: 364.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Christian fiction readers.
Rating: Okay.

Amazon link

The House on Foster Hill has been in my TBR pile a few years. I’m determined to catch-up on this stack.

Two time periods with a main character in each period.
Kaine Prescott is the modern day main character. She’s a widow. She doesn’t have children. She relocates from California to Wisconsin to start a new chapter in life. She wants to break free from sad memories and start afresh. She buys an old house unseen in the hometown of her grandfather. The town is Oakwood, Wisconsin. Kaine feels her husband’s death was not an accident, but she’s been unable to convince the police. Meanwhile, Kaine believes she is being stalked.
Ivy Thorpe is the main character from the early 1900s. Ivy lives in Oakwood, Wisconsin. A young dead woman has been found in the cavity of a tree on the Foster Hill House property. Ivy helps her father who is a doctor with the medical examination. Ivy feels a duty to preserve with dignity the dead. She keeps a journal of deceased people. She feels this is a calling or a mission. Meanwhile, a young man arrives back in Oakwood as an investigator. His name is Joel Cunningham.

My Thoughts:
The House on Foster Hill is a chronological narrative structure.
The House on Foster Hill is a plot driven narrative.
The antagonists are both people and an agenda.

The House on Foster Hill uses the plot and subplots as the thrust of the story. They are the engine that propels the story forward.

What I like about the book:
~The cover. It’s gothic looking. The cover is haunting and enticing.
~The idea and setting of the story is wonderful. A mysterious house with a strong history of unexplainable events. Two women who are grieving. Both women have a pull to understand the secrets of the house.
~Ivy is a woman from the early 20th century, but she is the assistant to her father on a post mortem woman. I feel this is a rare job for a woman of this time period. I feel her experience working alongside her father made her a unique and interesting main character.
~Kaine’s working career had been in social work. She worked with women who had been victimized and abused. I feel her education and experience gives her a knowledge and wisdom most people don’t have. I feel this made her an interesting and valuable main character.

What I don’t like:
~There are too many subplots. I count 11. I don’t feel it is necessary to have so many subplots that the reader is wandering off in different directions and wondering how all of them or some of them will be reconciled by the last page. I feel some of the subplots need trimming.
~I don’t like the name Kaine. It is pronounced like Cain. I spent at least half the book wondering how to pronounce the name and the other half being reminded of Cain and Able.
~Kaine doesn’t respond in certain situations as I’d expected. She had years of education and training as a social worker. Her work placed her in crisis situations. In her career, Kaine would have attended further training. In The House on Foster Hill, she behaved as a cliché in a crisis situation instead of her training. I didn’t like this. I didn’t feel it was believable.

(Review) Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things, Book One by Cynthia Voigt

Publisher and Publication Date: Knopf Books for Young Readers. 2013.
Genre: Young adult. Grades 3 to 7. Fiction.
Pages: 374.
Source: NetGalley eBook. I received a complimentary eBook copy from NetGalley, I was not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Middle school readers.
Rating: Good.

Illustrations are by Iacopo Bruno who is a graphic artist and illustrator living in Italy.

Amazon link

Website for Cynthia Voigt
Goodreads page for Voigt’s books

Two further books are in this series: Book 2-The Book of Secrets, Book 3-The Book of Kings.

I’d accepted the invitation to read this book from NetGalley several years ago. It has sat in the shelf unread and unreviewed until now.

Max Starling is a 12 year old boy who lives with his parents. They are actors at a theatrical company. Max’s parents are invited to India. Max is to join them in their travel. On the day they are to board the ship, Max cannot find the ship nor his parents. He gets a strange note telling him to stay with Grammie. Grammie is a librarian.

My Thoughts:
I like the idea of the story more than the story itself.
Max has been left behind. He and his parents are separated and Max has no idea what happened. In the process of trying to figure out the mystery, Max begins helping others. Max becomes Mr. Max, a detective. He has a few jobs doing detective work. Each assignment builds with importance.
I like the form or structure of the story, but feel something is missing. It’s possible I was looking for resolution about Max and his missing parents in book 1. I definitely wanted a strong adventure story and this one fell flat.
I love Grammie. She’s a cool librarian.
I wrestled with an okay or good rating. I settled on good.