Friday, 16 August 2019

Friday morning post...

We have a big family BBQ tomorrow and have company staying for the weekend, so I wanted to take advantage of this quiet morning to write a quick post before tackling my list of "things to do" in preparation for tomorrow’s festivities.
Just this morning I finished reading the last few pages of the excellent historical novel HHhH by French author Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor.  “HHhH” stands for “Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich” or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”, and Reinhard Heydrich is, in fact, the main subject of this novel; readers are told of his questionable beginnings and ultimate rise within the ranks of the Nazis to become the most lethal man in Hitler’s cabinet.  He is considered to be indestructible, until two men, one Czech and one Slovak, are tasked with a mission: to assassinate Heydrich in Prague. Part of the Czech Resistance, these two parachutists, Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík, must come up with a plan to fulfill their mission in uncertain circumstances, risking their lives in order to change the course of history.  I don’t normally read historical fiction, but someone recommended this book to me and I put in a “suggestion for purchase” with my library to add to their collection. I’m so glad I did this, as it was riveting, a real page-turner that kept me finding extra opportunities to read, despite the busy-ness of my week. It was a roller-coaster ride of a novel, and was not just concerned with the plot at hand, namely the plot to assassinate Heydrich; Binet also offered insight into his struggles as a writer and researcher while working on this book.  Rather than just offering readers a “Forward” stating that, while based on real events, some of the dialogue, action and characters have been created by the author to enhance the story, he inserts his views throughout the novel. And rather than being annoying and disruptive, this actually made the story feel more like it was happening now, not 75 years ago. I can’t praise this debut enough, and if I wasn’t in rather a rush, I would write more about it and the effect it had on me as a reader, but, unfortunately, my list of tasks is not growing any shorter as I sit and type.  
And I listened to an awesome audiobook recently, City of Saints and Thieves, by Natalie C Anderson, narrated by Pascale Arrmand.  I didn’t realize this was a Young Adult novel until after I started listening to it and looked it up to find out a bit more about it.  This novel tells the story of sixteen-year-old Christina, a girl who doesn’t exist. After fleeing the Congo, she and her mother find refuge in Sangui City with the Greyhill family, where they live in relative peace until Christina’s mother is murdered in their home and she runs away, choosing to live on the streets and work with the Goondas rather than take the charity of Mr Greyhill.  Known to the Goondas as “Tiny Girl”, she becomes a master thief, roaming the streets of the city and completing tasks for them in exchange for their protection. But her ultimate goal is to punish Greyhill, whom she is certain killed her mother. When she returns to her former home to retrieve information necessary for her three-part plan to take him down, she is caught by Greyhill’s son Michael, Christina’s friend from her former life, and she must consider whether someone else might actually be responsible for her mother’s murder.  Readers are taken on a thrilling quest that leads us from the dangerous streets of Sangui to the jungles of the Congo in search of the truth. What Christina and Michael discover is brutality, corruption, and finally, the truth about what happened that night in Greyhill’s study. This was a fabulous novel that dealt with several mature subjects with skill and compassion. Although the main characters are in their mid-teens, I think this would appeal to adults of all ages, as the issues are contemporary and, while extremely heavy and depressing at times, the novel is ultimately hopeful.  The narrator did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life, especially Christina’s friend, Boyboy, a techie nerd who also works with the Goondas. I would definitely recommend this to just about anyone who enjoys a fast-paced thriller set in real-world circumstances.
That’s all for today.  Have a great weekend!
Bye for now…
Julie

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