Giveaway: Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed

Finding MeLast week I posted a review of Michelle Knight’s memoir, written with Michelle Burford.  This book was tough to read, but it is truly a lesson in courage and a celebration of Michelle Knight’s triumph over her abductor and over a childhood of abuse.  If you would like to read Michelle’s memoir, The Booklover is giving away one copy to a fellow booklover!

There are two ways to enter, first you can leave a comment on this post with positive words for Michelle Knight.  Her recovery cannot be complete and she will bear the scars of her abduction and abuse her entire life.  I am hopeful that readers of this blog can be a source of encouragement to her.  The second way to enter is by subscribing to this blog.  Current subscribers are already entered — they only need to leave a comment to get a second entry!

I will use the sequence generator at to choose one winner and will contact them by email.  It is important that you leave your email address if you leave a comment.  Note: There are a maximum of two entries per person.  The giveaway ends on Sunday, July 27th and the winner will be contacted by email on Monday, July 28th.  This contest is open to U.S. addresses only.

Good luck!

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Book Review: Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed

Finding MeThe Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

For 11 years, Michelle Knight was held captive by a man who kidnapped her and two other women in Cleveland.

A year after her headline-making rescue, Knight has written a memoir, Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, A Life Reclaimed.  Written with Michelle Burford, the book describes the torture Knight endured at the hands of her captor and goes into detail about the shocking life she lived before he kidnapped her.  Knight’s terrible childhood began early with getting molested beginning at age five, never having enough food, and finally ending up on the streets as a young teenager. She moved in with a drug dealer after a time on the streets and after his arrest, she again became homeless. Michelle later gave birth to a son Joey, who was the center of her world, but was placed in foster care after her mother’s boyfriend got drunk and broke the boy’s leg.

Michelle was on her way to a hearing to regain custody of her son when she was kidnapped by Ariel Castro.  Castro was the father of one of her friends and she was glad to get a ride from him when the ride she was supposed to get from a family member fell through.  That fateful decision to accept Castro’s offer led to a life of horror for many years.

The most shocking aspect of Michelle Knight’s story was the fact that her childhood placed her in the direct path of her kidnapper.  She was a victim before her abduction and this victimhood put her in even greater peril.  Her life is a testament to survivorship, resilience, and bravery.  My greatest hope for her is that at some point she can get to know the son Ariel Castro took from her.  He stole much more than most people know and her story is worth reading as warning to us all to be aware that someone may be in peril and we may be the one who can help.  Definitely a memoir worth reading and this from a booklover who doesn’t typically favor memoirs.  At 280 pages, this is a riveting read.

Book Details:  Published by Weinstein Books (May 6, 2014), 280 pages, ISBN: 1602862567.

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2014 Quidditch World Cup Finals

A recent visit to London brought home that fact that Harry Potter is very much past tense in my life.  Those books brought me and countless millions great joy, but best of all they created many, many new booklovers.  If you want new Harry Potter material these days the only way to get it is – Harry Potter’s online home.

It has never occurred to me to join until J. K. Rowling’s appearance on the Today Show this morning.  Rowling has written a post in the voice of Rita Skeeter, the Daily Prophet‘s gossip columnist. Rowling fills Harry’s fans in on his reunion with friends at the 2014 Quidditch World Cup Finals.  Finally, an update on Harry!

Make sure to click the Today Show link to read the post without joining and I wonder - Does Quidditch have as many fans as soccer?

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Book Review: Summer House With Swimming Pool

Summer HouseThe Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Herman Koch’s bestselling novel “The Dinner” had been on my to-read list since it first came out in 2013, so it was thrilling when a copy of “Summer House With Swimming Pool” landed in my hands.  The main character of “Summer House With Swimming Pool” is Dr. Marc Schlosser, a physician whose patients disgust him.   Into Dr. Schlosser’s office walks Ralph Meier, a big star, who finds Dr. Schlosser to be accommodating in writing whatever prescriptions he requests.

Marc Schlosser and Ralph Meier are not the only ones who hit it off.  At an evening out Ralph gives Caroline, Marc’s wife, lecherous looks just as Marc is sizing up Ralph’s wife, Judith. This little episode doesn’t amount to much at first, but things heat up when the Meiers invite the Schlosser family to visit their summer house with a swimming pool somewhere on the Mediterranean coast.   At the summer house are any number of men (young and old) with mean streaks who could commit violence.

“Summer House With Swimming Pool” reveals at the start that Ralph is dead and that Marc’s medical techniques contributed to his demise. If you are looking for an ideal book to dive into next to the beach (pun intended!) then this would be my pick for your next summer read.

Book Details:  Published by Hogarth (June 3, 2014), 387 pages, ISBN: 0804138818.

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The City of Light’s Most Famous Bookstore

a-moveable-feastA recent vacation took me to Paris, France for the first time and knowing this I had a mission in mind and it wasn’t to visit the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame Cathedral.  It wasn’t even to visit the Louvre, although I did all of those things.  My mission was to pay a visit to one of the most famous bookstores in the world.  Shakespeare and Company was opened in 1951 on Paris’s Left Bank near Notre Dame Cathedral.  The original bookstore opened in 1919 and was frequented by Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and many other famous writers.  The bookstore has also been featured in some major motion pictures, most notable Woody Allen’s movie, Midnight in Paris.  It truly was a thrill to walk in the door of this shop and it was definitely one of the highlights of my recent trip to Europe.

Being a booklover, it would have been easy to spend the better part of a day browsing the shelves and taking a long leisurely look at everything in the shop.  Since I was with a tour group however, my time was limited and I had to choose a book fairly quickly and get that coveted stamp in the front cover of the book.  It was to be the perfect souvenir of my trip!  If you make it to Paris and Shakespeare and Company, you will probably be overwhelmed with choices and little time to decide which can spell disaster.  The worst case scenario is that you run out of time while trying to choose and leave with no souvenir of your visit to what many booklovers consider Paris’ most important landmark.  In order to prevent disaster on your vacation, you may want to consider a paperback copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast.  This book is a memoir by Ernest Hemingway about his years in Paris as part of the expatriate writers in the 1920s. The book describes Hemingway’s apprenticeship as a young writer in Europe (especially in Paris) while married to his first wife. Some of the people featured in the book include Aleister Crowley, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, Hilaire Belloc, Pascin, John Dos Passos, Wyndham Lewis, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein.  Another excellent choice would be Down and Out in Paris and London.  This memoir by George Orwell (a particular favorite of The Booklover) was published in 1933.  The first part of Orwell’s account tells about living on the breadline in Paris and the experience of casual labour in restaurant kitchens. The second part is a travelogue of life on the road in and around London from the tramp’s perspective, with descriptions of the types of accommodation available and some of the characters to be found living on the margins of city life.

If you have your heart set on a book about Paris, there is a section of books just inside the front door about the wonderfully romantic city of light.  My purchase from this section was a copy of Forever Paris: 25 Walks in the Footsteps of Chanel, Hemingway, Picasso, and More.  I plan to use it to help plan my next visit to Paris and Shakespeare and Company.

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The Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of All Time

There was a time when I read a great deal of fantasy and science-fiction, but in recent years I focused more on historical fiction and thrillers.  Right now I am reading The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer and just love the way the story is written from the viewpoint of different characters.  A great way to write a spy novel!

Business Insider has posted a list of the Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Novels of All Time.  One of my favorite novels of all time regardless of genre is on the list.  Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell just might be my favorite book of all time, but is definitely in the top five.   Let me know if you have any favorites on the list by leaving a comment!

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Book Review: A Burnable Book

A Burnable BookThe Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, although there hasn’t been much time to fit many of the books of this genre or any other in my schedule lately.  A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger is definitely worth making time for and it is difficult for me to believe that this is a debut novel.  The story is well told.

The story begins with a young woman’s murder on the moorfields.  Just before the young woman is attacked, she hands a book over to a maudlyn (a prostitute).   Thus begins Holsinger’s wonderful weaving of the lives of the low-born and the high-born in London, 1385.

King Richard II is surrounded by ruthless courtiers–including his powerful uncle,  John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s artful mistress, Katherine Swynford.  Across London, songs are heard from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings, with the final prophesy being young King Richard’s assassination. Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen  into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews–and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to the king (William Morrow, 2014).

Bruce Holsinger, a medieval scholar, has written a wonderful first novel that seems to place you directly in London centuries ago (the book left me feeling a little nostalgic for the pace of life in 1385 London).  You should definitely turn to the back of the book before beginning and read Mr. Holsinger’s notes and familiarize yourself with the cast of characters.  It is a little tricky to sort everyone and every place at the beginning, but keep going.  A Burnable Book is a fabulous read.  Now to add Ian Mortimer’s book Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England to the “to-read” list.  The early life and customs of England can be quite fascinating!

Book Details:  Published by William Morrow (February18, 2014), 464 pages, ISBN: 0062240323.

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