Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erikson

Well the first chapter was good, and pretty much went downhill from there. This book was chosen as last month's book club pick and I have to be honest and admit that I really struggled with finishing it. I didn't care too much for any of the characters and it was so all over the place. I just didn't get it, truly. Seriously, I wouldn't recommend spending the time on this one. Sorry. I think I'll have to pick up The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory to hopefully redeem the story of Mary, Queen of Scots.

But hey, I hate being completely negative - there are some folks out there that truly enjoyed it! So for some more positive reviews, go here.

Description: Born Queen of Scotland, married as a girl to the invalid young King of France, Mary took the reins of the unruly kingdom of Scotland as a young widow and fought to keep her throne. A second marriage to her handsome but dissolute cousin Lord Darnley ended in murder and scandal, while a third to the dashing Lord Bothwell, the love of her life, gave her joy but widened the scandal and surrounded her with enduring ill repute.
Unable to rise above the violence and disorder that swirled around her, Mary escaped to England—only to find herself a prisoner of her ruthless, merciless cousin Queen Elizabeth.
Here, in her own riveting account, is the enchanting woman whose name still evokes excitement and compassion—and whose death under the headsman’s
axe still draws forth our sorrow.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was chosen for book club back in November. Of course I'm just now getting around to writing a review! Though I very much enjoyed this book, I didn't love it. I think more than anything, I was drawn to all the familiarities of home. I loved being able to visually imagine where I was in Seattle and picture different settings. I grew up in Seattle and lived there until I was 26, so it holds a ton of memories for me. But what's truly surprising to me, was that I was completely unaware of the racial discrimination in the Northwest. Even my parents are both Seattle natives and they had never brought up this vital piece of our local history! It was kinda crazy and I was really quite shocked!

Overall it was a sweet love story and kept my attention through out. Others in our book club enjoyed it even much more than I did.

Description: In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

Rating: ****

Recommend: Sure.