Momster Bookworm

"I am simply a 'book drunkard'. Books have the same irresistable temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them." (L. M. Montgomery)

People of the Book

People of the Book - Geraldine Brooks Greater than the contents contained in a book is the story of a particular book's journey; its 'provenance', if you will. Sprinkled throughout history are perilous rescue or salvage accounts of sacred books. Protected at great expense of life and freedom, these volumes are secreted away, to be kept safe from harm or destruction. Sometimes, the unlikeliest of candidates become the book's new guardian(s).

The Sarajevo Haggadah is a real manuscript (one of Judaism's oldest) owned by the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this fictionalized account, a book conservator embarks on a restoration project, and in doing so finds physical clues immortalized in the leafs of the tome. Each of those pointers would, under modern and scientific methods of testing, divulge some answers. However, the entire story would forever be lost to antiquity. Alternating between the modern day and the past, this tells the imagined journey of the book, and how each of those clues came to be embedded in its pages. The Haggadah is read during Passover, and in its own way, this story tells of a different persecution and exodus of the same people.

The Christmas Promise

The Christmas Promise - Donna VanLiere A promise is very much like a beacon of light left on: for direction, for accountability, and for hope. In lieu of something more tangible, sometimes, a promise is all that we have to hang our hat on. Nonetheless, its strength can be likened to that of a spider's web -- fine and delicate, seemingly inconsequential, breakable -- but laden with the potential of a bountiful harvest. And at no greater time that our hearts wait expectantly than at Christmas.

The Christmas Hope

The Christmas Hope - Donna VanLiere This wraps up the trilogy which began with 'The Christmas Shoes' and followed by 'The Christmas Blessing'.

The Christmas Blessing

The Christmas Blessing - Donna VanLiere A continuation of 'The Christmas Shoes'.

The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh Earlier in the year, I read ‘The Little Paris Bookshop’ (Nina George) in which a bookseller dispenses books from his literary apothecary to treat each reader’s malady and/or melancholy – a book which I enjoyed. In ‘The Language of Flowers’, flora is used as the tool of communication. Each flower and plant is a symbol of something; sometimes, even the color gives a different meaning. I am fascinated by all things code and symbols, and I liked how just the sending of flowers alone conveyed messages (granted, of course, the recipients knew what they stood for). Even if they didn’t, the ‘power’ message contained in the giving or presentation of those flowers alone was enough to change things around, and rectify a situation – so likewise, I enjoyed this book. [This is akin to the ability attributed to spices in ‘The Mistress of Spices’ (Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni)] In addition, there is a flower dictionary at the end of the book, compiled and condensed by the author in her research of other such old/archaic dictionaries.

The Art Forger

The Art Forger - B.A. Shapiro A fictional offshoot from the real-life art theft of the Gardner Museum in 1990, the highest valued in U.S. history, and which remains unsolved to this day. I was very intrigued by the reproduction methods detailed in the copying of an original artwork. I maintain that imitation is the highest form of flattery (provided of course, that it is not being pawned of as being authentic, and that rightful credit is given). Besides, not everyone has the financial wherewithal to own a original piece of art, especially that of the masters.

But I digress, while a forger is skilled enough to replicate an original to the point of being (near) impossible to tell the difference, he/she may also be skilled or schooled enough to tell the difference between an original and a copy, which brings about this story -- that it was a fake which has been hanging in the Gardner Museum prior to its theft. Was Isabella Gardner, an avid art collector with a discerning eye, and with the counsel of an art adviser, swindled or misled into making the purchase?

The Twelve Clues of Christmas

The Twelve Clues of Christmas - Rhys Bowen A cozy mystery which is so delightfully English! Taking place just after the Great Depression, where investments crashed and fortunes dwindled, this wide-spread financial catastrophe also affected those living across the pond, among whom were the aristocrats. Titles and entitlements no longer had the monetary backing to continue living the high life, so changes and compromises had to be made. This brought about the protagonist, 35th in line for the throne, seeking employment so as to escape the confining restrictions imposed by living with family. What she did not envision was that that she would soon be embroiled in murder, mystery and mayhem -- all made even more intense as the body count kept climbing, and Christmas loomed closer with each passing day.

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster

The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster - Scott Wilbanks In the vein of the movie ‘The Lake House’ in which a mailbox links two different times, this book has just such a communication device which links past with present, and two different geographical locations: present-day San Francisco with 1890s Kansas. I have always been fascinated by stories that bend time and space, and this one weaves properly fleshed-out characters in a well-developed plot. I particularly enjoyed the wit and banter between the two main protagonists. Part of the story is told in letters, and I love the quality of the personal correspondence: well-written, clearly elucidated, and exchange of ‘courteous barbs’, if you will -- made me laugh aloud in some places. There are twists in the story which I did not see coming, and while you could have knocked me over with a feather at the revelation, I was greatly delighted at the brilliant storytelling. This quantum story gets a 5-star rating from me.


Night - Marion Wiesel, Elie Wiesel The human spirit, while resilient, still faces dark and dire choices of self-preservation over that of others when severely persecuted. Not only is this a Holocaust memoir, it also details the heartwrenching actions of the oppressed when they are too tired and too battered to care about moral obligations and familial ties of their fellow man.

Death Date

Death Date - Victoria Laurie There are many YA books in which the central protagonist has some kind of ability or supernatural power, and the storyline then unfolds in an otherworldly or paranormal platform. In this, a teenager has the ability to see death dates on the foreheads of people. The setting of the story takes place in the 'real world' (in high school, no less), with all of its challenges and hurdles -- which makes this a more compelling story for me. Throw in a murder mystery, and it had me hooked. There were enough twists and angst to make this a good (fast) read.

The Fairy's Return (Princess Tales)

The Fairy's Return (Princess Tales) - Gail Carson Levine Akin to 'The Golden Goose'.

For Biddle's Sake

For Biddle's Sake - Gail Carson Levine, Mark Elliott Akin to 'The Frog Prince'.

Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep

Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep - Gail Carson Levine, Mark Elliott A retelling of 'Sleeping Beauty'.

The Princess Test

The Princess Test - Gail Carson Levine, Mark Elliott Akin to 'The Princess and the Pea'.

The Marvels

The Marvels - Brian Selznick, Brian Selznick As with Selznick's earlier books, 'The Invention of Hugo Cabret' and 'Wonderstruck', this book delivers stunning pencil drawings in exquisite detail to tell the story. It takes a particular kind of author cum illustrator to accurately and succinctly convey in pictures, what would take paragraphs to tell. Selznick has that gift.

That said, this story begins with a live-large perspective, which then narrows as the story progresses (this departs from the two aforementioned titles, which tells it in reverse order -- towards a grandiose climax, if you will). Perhaps, it was this contrast with my expectation that, for me, it does not rank as high as the other two books. Nonetheless, the gorgeous pencil sketches are worth checking this book out, especially if you have young(er) readers.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures - Anne Fadiman This book is in equal parts eye-opening and cringe-worthy. The latter because the reader has the benefit of seeing both views of different cultures: Western medicine and cultural beliefs / superstition -- and their inevitable clash, on account of their inability to meld. Caught in between is the life and health of a very young child. A language barrier, miscommunication, misunderstanding, and distrust between the parties who believe the other does not know what they are doing, makes this book laden with frustration and anguish experienced by all involved. With the state of the world being more of a melting pot than before, this read highlights that the cost of assimilation is a lot more than just a matter of migration and resettlement.