Fascinating, illuminating and moving

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The History of Bees by Maja Lunde

Book Review:  5 out of 5 stars

There are three stories in this wonderful novel about the history and destiny of bees and their ties to humanity. The stories take place in 1851, 2007 and 2098. 1851 tells the story of British shopkeeper William Savage, whose dream is to build a better bee hive to ensure his children a better future. 2007 centers on George and his son, Tom. George is a beekeeper who longs to build up his business together with Tom, but Tom’s longings lie elsewhere. In 2098, Tao has the horrendous job of hand painting pollen on trees in an effort to provide enough food for the Chinese inhabitants. There are no longer bees in her world. It’s a very physically taxing job and she fears for her little son who will soon be old enough to join the workers. But then tragedy strikes and Tao sets off on a perilous journey looking for answers.

I absolutely loved this book. Each of the three stories touched my heart. The chapters are short and I would no sooner get pulled into one story than the author would switch to one of the other stories so there are often cliffhangers. I was never disappointed to switch as I found each of the stories as fascinating as the other. This style of writing really moved the book along and kept me wanting to know more. This Norwegian author cleverly maps out this beautifully written book so that each of the stories have a final connection.

Bees. Such little creatures but so very important to our existence. Our world has seen what might happen should bees disappear completely. The author has provided a fascinating look at the beginning of bee keeping, the period when bee colonies first started encountering difficulties and what the future might look like without hard working bees. Even more than a study of bees told in a very moving way, this book also touchingly delves into the bond of parents and their children.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

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Politics and romance in S. Korea

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Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

The two main characters are quite different women. Jisun has had a privileged life, although not much of a loving family life.  In rebellion against her father, she joins an underground activist group.  Her best friend, Namin, comes from a poor, hard-working family and is struggling through college at the Seoul National University in the hope that she will be able to offer her family a better life.  The two main male characters are Sunam, a student trying to join the prestigious Circle, and Juno, Jisun’s conniving brother.

The story takes place in the 70’s and the author does a very good job of describing the hopes and fears of the young generation in South Korea at that time. There were those who rebelled and protested the harsh working conditions and there were those who strived to make the right connections so they could move upward.  The living conditions for many made it very difficult to break out of their dismal prospects.  While politics play a big part in the book, it’s not heavy handed and the author smoothly blends it into the story.  I became engrossed in the story of these young people, their loves, their families and their friendships.  The author offers excellent insight into the moral dilemmas faced by her characters and the choices that each makes.  I felt the ending sort of petered out but I did enjoy this book as a whole and recommend it.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Wonderfully unique

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The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

What a delightful blend of the past and the present and the ties between them.  This book is so unique and completely one of a kind.  I’ve never read anything like it.   This is a hauntingly beautiful book, one that will pull you into its imaginative world.  It’s breathtaking, magical and poetical – all that literature should be.

For those of you who like mysteries, there are several of them in this book.  The first is the disappearance of a young child twenty years ago while in the care of 15-year-old Jane.  And then there’s the mystery of a young woman who went missing over a hundred years ago, which an adult Jane is researching.   But the most haunting mystery involves the fascinating ghostly beings connected to Jane.  The author does a masterful job of weaving together the three time frames without any confusion as to what is happening.

This is no run-of-the-mill historical mystery.  It’s layer upon layer of thought-provoking material.  On some levels, it’s a light read since it’s very easy to follow.  But it’s also a very deep read which you will remember long after the book is finished.  It’s one of those books that I hated to see end as I wanted to stay in the world that this author had created.

This book is deserving of the highest awards presented to works of literature.  The writing is glorious and I look forward to reading more work from this author.

I received this book from http://www.bloggingforbooks.org/ in exchange for an honest review.

More info:  http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/228128/the-world-before-us-by-aislinn-hunter/

Author Bio:  http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/177228/aislinn-hunter/