Monday, March 18, 2013

Catch-up post - The Dalai Lama's Cat, Coventry, Level 2, Purple Hibiscus & Scarlet

It's about time I did some serious catching up. All of the following are books from my personal collection and all 5 are books that I enjoyed and recommend.

The Dalai Lama's Cat by David Michie is a fictional tale told from the point of view of a cat.  Jenclair's review of The Dalai Lama's Cat was so positive that I ordered a copy of the book and, fortunately, I did love it.

The cat tells how she was rescued from certain death to become a part of the Dalai Lama's household.

In a way, The Dalai Lama's Cat is almost a primer in Buddhism.  As she roams around her home and explores a local cafe, the cat known alternately as Rinpoche, Snow Lion and Bodhicattva charms everyone in her path but also absorbs and shares lessons learned through observation of the monks, the Dalai Lama, the man who owns the cafe and other creatures.

The Dalai Lama's Cat is a lovely, reflective, uplifting tale.  Kiddo also enjoyed it.

Coventry by Helen Humphreys is also fictional, but with a very genuine and terrifying historical setting -- the bombing of Coventry, England by the Luftwaffe on November 14, 1940.

Harriet Marsh begins the evening standing on top of Coventry Cathedral.  It is peaceful but the moon is full, a "bomber's moon". Harriet and a young fire watcher named Jeremy meet on the cathedral and spend the evening helping people, fighting fires, running for their lives.

A little bit love story with an odd sort of connection that leads back to a time when Harriet was young and newly married and briefly befriended Jeremy's mother, Coventry is emotional, graphic and incredibly, horrifyingly vivid.

Highly recommended to those who love reading WWII stories.  Sad and slightly strange writing but it grew on me and the book is utterly gripping.

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans is one that I can't believe I didn't sit down and write about immediately -- our Lenore wrote it, after all!  I pre-ordered Level 2 and read it almost immediately.  

Felicia Ward is stuck in a strange afterlife in which the dead spend much of their time in pods, reliving their memories or viewing the memories of others.  Most of the time, Felicia focuses on memories of Neal, the boy she loved.  But when one of her friends disappears from a neighboring chamber and a boy named Julian offers to help her, she goes from reliving the past to moving forward.  

It took me a while to become accustomed to the world of Level 2 and wrap my head around what was going on (fallen angels called Morati fighting to keep the dead from moving to the next level) but once the book became more action-oriented, I really got sucked into it and ended up loving the book.  Way to go, Lenore!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is another pre-order.  I don't actually pre-order books very often, but I absolutely loved Cinder, the first of the Lunar Chronicles, and couldn't bear to wait for a swap copy.

Cinder is a futuristic tale of a cyborg based on "Cinderella" and Scarlet is obviously based on "Little Red Riding Hood".  In Scarlet, Cinder has been imprisoned and is scheduled for execution.  Meanwhile, Scarlet's grandmother has gone missing and when Scarlet encounters a street fighter named Wolf, she is captivated by him.  

Wolf isn't what he seems, Cinder escapes, and eventually you find that the stories of Cinder and Scarlet are interconnected.  I absolutely loved this second entry in the YA series.  I'll probably end up pre-ordering the next book.  If you loved Cinder, you'll enjoy Scarlet.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a coming-of-age story, the kind of book I usually abhor.  But, in this case I had trouble putting the book down long enough to sleep.

Everyone assumes Kambili and her family have a wonderful life because her father is wealthy and revered.  They own several huge homes in Nigeria and her father is known for his generosity, faith and political activity.

But, behind the compound walls lives a family in terror.  Kambili's father is a religious zealot who cannot be pleased.  The slightest infraction (even visiting their grandfather, whom he considers a sinner, for too long) leads to horrific abuse.  The backdrop of this family tale is a military coups; it's as if you're reading about two different wars, although the main storyline is told from Kambili's point of view.  After Kambili and her brother go to visit their aunt, they discover laughter and love -- and knowing those things exist will change their lives forever.

I have never been so angry at a character as I was at Kambili's father, an evil, deceitful man who masqueraded as a kind and loving man of faith.  Purple Hibiscus is truly an amazing work of writing.  

©2013 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I love Adichie. Although Purple Hibiscus is amazing, it's probably my least favourite of hers. Such a good writer.

    1. Oh, good! I really thought Purple Hibiscus was excellent but it was rough reading about the abuse and I don't plan to keep it for a reread.

  2. Well, you went 5 for 5 on the "make-me-want-it" game with this post. :p

  3. I read Coventry a long while ago, and loved it. It was such an unusual tale of history, and something that I thought that I knew well, but in actuality, didn't. Also Lenore's book was fantastic, and I loved it so very much. I can't wait to read the next installment!

    1. I didn't know a thing about Coventry. It sounds much like the bombing of Dresden in that it was not a strategic location but more about crushing hope by flattening a beautiful city and killing civilians. Such a horror. I think she did a wonderful job of portraying the bombing of Coventry.

      Me, too! Loved Lenore's book! I hate waiting. :)

  4. I had a strange sense of deja vu when I read this post. I recognized the title Coventry, but since I couldn't remember anything about the book, I knew I hadn't read it. Then I glanced over at my bookcase and saw it lying on a shelf. I think my mom sent it to me! I'll have to ask her what she thought. Glad to hear it was a good read!

    1. That's awesome, Les! Coventry's a very good book. I found her writing style took some getting used to, but then I loved the story. It's vivid. I closed the book feeling like I'd been there (and, boy, was I glad to be back to a bomb-free home).

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed The Dalai Lama's Cat! Coventry has been on my list, and I really need to actually read it. As usual, always fascinated with WWII in fact and fiction.

    1. I'm glad you recommended The Dalai Lama's Cat! It's worth keeping for a reread. You don't have to be Buddhist to appreciate the beliefs.

      Same here - love reading about WWII more than any other time period. Coventry is excellent.


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