12 March 2011


Locus Focus: Take Forty-Four!

New to Locus Focus?
Read this first!

I have the sneaking suspicion that more than a handful of my regular readers quietly decided to give my blog up for Lent. =P

Well, fine. I'll just go wooing some new blood, then!

If you've never joined Locus Focus before, here are some good reasons why you should:

Reason #1:
It's a great way to write an insightful post about a book (or a movie!) without producing yet another review.

Now, if you found me through the Book Blogging or Horror Blogging communities, you're probably thinking, "But I love writing reviews! It's the whole purpose of my blog!"

And that's cool, too. I'm not in this to tell anyone else how to blog! However, I do think it's worthwhile to note that a "hot" title will get scores of reviews all over the blogosphere. Pretty soon, they'll all start to blend together. There are lots of ways to make your review stand out from the pack--and I'm sure you already use some of those clever tricks--but my own favourite is to let your review play dress-up in Locus Focus clothing. =)

Reason #2:
It will give you a chance to revisit old favourites.

I'm sure that if someone asked you to name a book with a really vivid, memorable setting, you'd pick an old read that has really stuck with you over the years. That has been true for me nearly 80% of the time. While I don't actually reread these familiar favourites, I like finally being able to focus my thoughts on why their settings really work for them. So if all the new, hyped books aren't really your thing and you'd like to write about some older books, please consider creating your own Locus Focus post.

Think of it as another kind of reading challenge! I have Theme Challenges every month, too, which can be a lot of fun. =D

Reason #3:
With all due humility . . . I make a pretty good blog friend. =)

That is to say, I read every linked up Locus Focus post, leave a meaningful comment, and go back for participants' other posts. If you have your own meme, I'll definitely join it in the future, too--although I can't promise to be as regular as I'd like. If you've been wondering where all the chatty bloggers have been and been hoping for more combox conversation, I'm your girl!

Now for the actual post! (Wouldn't it be hilarious if I forgot it, after all that? LOL!)

For today, I found another book to go with the "Battlegrounds" Theme, but I don't know whether I'll be sticking with it for the rest of the month.

The Village by the Sea
Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry

[Mama] turned, leading the way along a tiny, twisting street, heading towards the outskirts of the village.

"Things have heardly changed since I was a girl," she said. "My Aunt Gitte lived there, in that house"--she pointed--"and she's been dead for years. But the house is the same. She always had wonderful flowers in her garden."

She peered over the low stone wall and looked at the few flowering bushes as they passed the house.

"Maybe they still do, but it's the wrong time of year--there are just those few chrysanthemums left."

The wrong time of year? Try the wrong time of history. You really can't ever "go home again" when your country is at war.

Number the Stars was written for children, but I wasn't really moved by it until I reread it as an adult. I couldn't really relate to the central character, ten-year-old Annemarie Johansen, when she and I were the same age; but it was heartbreaking to stand over her mother's shoulder, so to speak, and to watch her grow up in the middle of a war.

It is World War II, to be exact, and Denmark is occupied by German forces. The Johansens are helping to hide Annemarie's Jewish best friend, and after a night raid on their apartment, they decide it will be safer for the children to live out in the country for a while. So they take a train to the small village near the sea where Annemarie's mother grew up . . . and where one can just make out the misty shoreline of Sweden.

The fishing village seems as beautiful and innocent as it always was; and for a short while, the girls can be girls again and Mrs. Johansen can pretend that everything is just as it was when she herself was young. But of course it isn't--and both the few chrysanthemums at her Aunt Gitte's old house and her own ten-year-old daughter know it as well as she does. For even this rural setting, once content to be simply pleasant and pretty, has joined the Resistance against the Germans, and it matches Annemarie in its readiness to yield its own childlike face to the scars of courage.

Image Source: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry


Sullivan McPig said...

I'm still around, but mostly in lurk-mode. I've been feeling tired ever since our renovation so that's why I'm so quiet at the moment.

Enbrethiliel said...


No worries, Sully! That was actually directed at some Catholic readers I have who kept following me after I killed my religious blog. (I suppose I can take their silence as an admission that my guess was right? LOL!)

I understand how a big change can make one feel completely disorientated and in need of carving out all those old grooves again. Thanks for at least lurking! ;-)

Kate said...

Sorry sorry sorry! Out of town guests means that Kate has been a bad blogger in every possible way. Hopefully back in the saddle again next week...When's the Tolkien thing again, by the way?

Enbrethiliel said...


Well, I see my Lenten abstinence joke is just making people feel guilty! I'm sorry about that!

Kate, don't feel bad about being a "bad" blogger. Real life always takes precedence over online fun and insight!

"Middle Earth Day" will be on 26 March. (Hmmmm. That reminds me that I need to start reading The Silmarillion ASAP!)

Oh, by the way, I just read my first John Bellairs novel! You might be interested in my Open Letter to John Bellairs. =)

Lesa said...

Yes, you are right on all points of reason. And as a not very reviewish blogger, LF is ideal for me-- if I wasn't so lazy. I'm am going to surprise you one of these days.

Oh, I love Silmarillion-- Is this a reread for you?

Enbrethiliel said...


The Silmarillion is a reread, but since I don't remember very much from my first reading, I still expect to be surprised!

Speaking of surprises, I eagerly await yours! ;-)

Birdie said...

Oh, dear. And I totally *failed* this weekend, didn't I?
I have no excuse except boring life stuff either.
But I really was interested in your post. Number the Stars is a book I've always shied away from because I figured it would make me SOB. One of these days, I'll work up the courage to try it. And I'll think about what the chrysanthemums might mean

Enbrethiliel said...


This post wasn't meant to guilt anyone up. Really! ;-)

(Yes, really! I'm serious now.)

I'm not sure about the emotional effect Number the Stars will have on you, but I was very surprised that after not really caring about it in childhood, I was moved to tears while rereading it last year . . . and even made a bit misty while skimming through it again to write this post. So you probably have good instincts about how you'll take the story. But don't hype it too much for yourself, now! =P