It’s been a while since I posted (or finished reading anything…). I started two books and haven’t had a chance to finish either while books from the library kept coming due. So, I grabbed Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman. What a great, suspenseful, and quick read. Reese Witherspoon knows how to pick ’em. You begin the book with Erin digging a hole to bury her new husband. And then you trace back to a choice they made on their honeymoon and how everything goes wrong afterward. This is not amazing literature, but it’s an unusual and unpredictable story that keeps the pages turning. It’s a perfect beach read.
I have never read anything by Michael Ondaatje. And, I struggled through Warlight. I enjoyed it at first, but by page 209, I gave up. It was just too slow and rangy for me. I almost pushed through to finish it, but I decided that life is too short and I have too many others on my list that I want to tackle more. So, rather than spend time reviewing this one with any more depth, I will simply give it one star and move on…
A great way to spend a rainy Sunday was reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. While, as mentioned in my last post, I wasn’t looking to add any more WWII books to my collection, I grabbed it anyway when I saw it on the “express” shelf at the library. And, am I glad I did. It is the story of Lale, who is sent to Auschwitz and, because he speaks multiple languages, rises to the top of the prisoner ranks, where he is able to do good for his fellow prisoners and falls in love. Yes, it’s depressing and sad, and yet, hopeful and uplifting as well. And, as it was based on a true story, it was even more compelling. I would add this to my TBR list if I were you.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave has been on my list for a long time, but I had grown tired of WWII books and wasn’t looking to start this one. It came up at the library, however, and I thought I would give it a try. The story is shared between Mary and Tom, in London, and Tom’s friend Alistair, who is posted in France. The most compelling part of this story is that it is based on the author’s grandparents’ letters from the war. Otherwise, it was too long, too slow, and not as rich or compelling as The Nightingale or All the Light We Cannot See. We’ll see how the next two WWII books on my stack (The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Warlight) hold up.
Girl Unknown by Karen Perry was a great break between all the memoirs. It’s a thriller about David and his wife Caroline who are moving through middle life – marriage, children, aging parents, careers – when David’s unknown daughter shows up in his university office. Can their marriage and family handle the unexpected visitor? This is a pretty good story with some nice twists. It’s not amazing, but a good read nonetheless.
Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron was OK. It’s another memoir (I seem to be on a bit of a kick) and a quick read (the title kind of tells it all), but I didn’t love it. Maybe I couldn’t relate to the character or maybe it was the style of the writing. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t a favorite.
It may have helped that I was trapped on a long plane ride when I read Happiness by Heather Harpham, but I don’t think so. It’s such a good and compelling memoir. I couldn’t put it down – not that I had anything better to do – and cried at multiple points. Amelia-Grace is born with a blood disorder that doctors can’t figure out. Her mother is raising her alone because her father, during the surprise pregnancy, determines that he doesn’t want to be a father. Their story is touching and amazing. Grab it!
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Loung Ung is a memoir that was recommended to me by a former work colleague who never fails me on her good choices. I listened to this one on Libby. It is a sad and difficult story to hear/read, but was very interesting. I enjoyed it, but it was a long one that took many hours to listen to. Perhaps reading the book would have been faster. I did enjoy learning the story, but think the format was not the perfect one for me.
I don’t think Megan Abbot is for me. Though I can’t find a record of it, the last book of hers I read, You Will Know Me, wasn’t much to my liking either. Give Me Your Hand had an interesting start – back and forth in time from high school to present day – in the life of Kit, a research scientist. Her “friend,” Diane, has come into her life right at the pinnacle of the rise in her career. Diane shared a secret with Kit in high school that has always haunted Kit and could be her ultimate undoing as an adult. This story could have been better than it was. Not only was it flat and not thrilling enough, but you could see the twist coming a mile away. If I were you, I would give this one a skip.
I liked Fiona Davis’ The Address and thought her newest, The Masterpiece, would be a good read. It’s the story of Clara and Virginia, who live 50 years apart and work in Grand Central Station. Clara is an artist with The Grand Central School of Art. Virginia works in the Information Booth. Their stories are told in parallel while intersecting. While I enjoyed this read, it wasn’t great – too predictable and flat.