Monday, January 22, 2018

Ragtime

175675Published in 1975, Ragtime changed our very concept of what a novel could be. An extraordinary tapestry, Ragtime captures the spirit of America in the era between the turn of the century & the First World War. The story opens in 1906 in New Rochelle, NY, at the home of an affluent American family. One lazy Sunday afternoon, the famous escape artist Harry Houdini swerves his car into a telephone pole outside their house. Almost magically, the line between fantasy & historical fact, between real & imaginary characters, disappears. Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, J.P. Morgan, Evelyn Nesbit, Sigmund Freud & Emiliano Zapata slip in & out of the tale, crossing paths with Doctorow's imagined family & other fictional characters, including an immigrant peddler & a ragtime musician from Harlem whose insistence on a point of justice drives him to revolutionary violence.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow was an assigned reading for me, which sometimes don't start off very fun. However, I really got into this book after just a few chapters! With the combination of historical figures, some I recognized and a few I didn't, and an anonymous American family, the book's plot and connections came to life. 

There were several characters that I felt a connection with and other characters I felt an interest in. Harry Houdini was one historical figure that I felt both with. I've always found Houdini to be an interesting person and have even watched a couple of biographies about him. This book definitely hit on my interest and expanded it as Doctorow shares Houdini's feelings and experiences. Other historical figures like Emma Goldman, I hadn't heard of, but I still felt a pull toward her character as she took on the role of female immigrant revolutionary. I think readers of this book will find the depictions of historical people quite imaginative and interesting. 

The fictional family that works to unite all of these historical figures remains anonymous throughout the entire book. Mother, Father, Younger Brother, and the Little Boy all play their roles while introducing the evolution of those roles that the turn of the 20th century was challenging. What's even more interesting is the connection readers will feel emotionally with these anonymous beings, as if the reader takes them and assigns them an importance subconsciously. I personally connected, and respected, most with Mother because she challenged the gender roles of the early 1900s by taking part in her husband's work, caring for people without regard to their race, and following her heart to find happiness. Though this book isn't just about those sort of connections, it also speaks to the need for change, like in the case of Coalhouse. Coalhouse, a dignified black man, is the victim of a hate crime and demands retribution. Though he suffers for it, he eventually does witness that retribution symbolizing the evolution of equality. 

I don't know if everyone would like this book. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have picked it up had it not been assigned. However, it is sadly still relevant to what is going on in politics and society today. Therefore, I would recommend it to readers interested in history, society and politics, and the evolution of the views within each. 

Rating: 3/5 Cups

Sunday, January 21, 2018

River Rising (Carson Chronicles #1)

36274542Weeks after his parents disappear on a hike, engineer Adam Carson, 27, searches for answers. Then he discovers a secret web site and learns his mom and dad are time travelers stuck in the past. Armed with the information he needs to find them, Adam convinces his younger siblings to join him on a rescue mission to the 1880s.

While Greg, the adventurous middle brother, follows leads in the Wild West, Adam, journalist Natalie, and high school seniors Cody and Caitlin do the same in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Like the residents of the bustling steel community, all are unaware of a flood that will destroy the city on May 31, 1889.

In RIVER RISING, the first novel in the Carson Chronicles series, five young adults find love, danger, and adventure as they experience America in the age of bustle dresses, gunslingers, and robber barons.

*May Contain Spoilers*

River Rising begins another time travel series by John A. Heldt, but one that promises a little more action with characters that are constant. I always enjoy time travel novels because they give me history with the facts mixed into the fiction, which I love. This novel is no exception as Heldt takes a family of five back to the 1880s in search of their parents. With five main characters, there's a character for any kind of reader to connect with and plenty of circumstances that demand it. 

Adam is the oldest and the 'leader' of the Carson clan. He's intelligent but haunted by an old wound. His romantic history remains a mystery for most of the novel but is eventually revealed. As he falls in love with a woman from the 1880s, readers will enjoy his triumph over loss and feel connected to him emotionally. 

Natalie was my favorite character as she is witty, smart, and likes to challenge the males around her. It was enjoyable to read her chapters and she even kept me on my toes at times. She also gains a love interest (like most of her siblings) but her story is much sadder than Adam's. Her story will offer a connection through empathy and understanding as well as through her personality. 

Greg is sort of the wild sibling as he is the only one who stirs up trouble in the 1880s. Though he is also quite intelligent and an outdoorsman, the role he plays is mainly doing the actual searching for the Carson parents. He does much more traveling than anyone else and introduces readers to other places in 1880s besides Pennsylvania. 

Caitlin and Cody are the youngest siblings and are also twins. They attend school in the 1880s and provide a younger perspective. Caitlin is kind of a bookworm, which I loved, while Cody tends to slip up and spout off clues to their time traveling status. He is also the youngest to fall in love with another high school senior which causes some teenage angst to enter the novel. 

With something for everyone, this time traveling novel is bound to please. I really enjoyed all of the characters and am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next installment. The series follows the plot of the five siblings looking for their time traveling parents who they thought were dead in different historical settings. Next up: the year 1918. The only thing is, Tim and Caroline Carson are also looking for them as they eventually returned to the future and saw that their children had 'disappeared.' So with more danger and intrigue lurking, the next book in the series already seems to be pulling me in. 

Rating: 3.5/5 Cups

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What's Next Wednesday (88)

  •  To play along share a book you've been looking forward to reading, whether it's new or has been on your reading list for a while.

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I'm looking forward to... 

Beloved by Toni Morrison. Can anyone even believe that I've never read this book?? After studying creative writing for four years and nearly two years of grad school, I'm finally reading it. I'm very surprised that it hasn't popped up in any of my syllabi before now. But! Better late than never! I'm really excited to start this book. I've heard amazing things about it and am ready to dive in!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Teaser Tuesday (298)


Welcome to Teaser Tuesday, the weekly Meme that wants you to add books to your TBR, or just share what you are currently reading. It is very easy to play along:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.


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River Rising
 (Kindle 76%)
     - John A Heldt

"Something tells me your dilemma involves more than a desire to return to Arizona."
"It does," Natalie said. "It involves something I've been afraid to talk about for months, something that would test the limits of your imagination."