Book Reviews–March 2018

I often post short reviews of books I’ve read in my personal social media pages, as I love to share my passion for books with others.  I’m listing the books I’ve read each month here on this blog, with my thoughts on each as well as whether I’d recommend them to others.  I do have an eclectic taste in books, and will choose books based on my mood, or what’s going on in my life that week.  (Most, if not all, of the books below include links to the Kindle store on Amazon, and the page numbers reflect the number of Kindle pages).  I hope you enjoy this series on my blog!

Book #1: 

The Book of the Unnamed MidwifeThe Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison (Length: 300 pages).  This is a dystopian, almost sci-fi novel with VERY disturbing plot elements (ie, rape/violence against women).  However, I will say the addition of these elements are NOT gratuitous, and do advance the novel’s plot.  Thanks to this book’s vivid imagery and strong character development, along with its imaginative plot, I could not put this book down (causing me to live on 4 hours total sleep the next day).  It’s that good!  I will definitely remember this book for years to come.  

From the publisher:  

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016 and Philip K. Dick Award Winner

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead. In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.  After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

Book #2: 

The Wife Between UsThe Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (Length: 342 pages).  I’m not sure why this one popped up on my TBR (to be read) list but it did.  This book is yet another psychological suspense novel a la the Gone Girl/Girl on a Train genre.  When I first began this novel I recognized a few plot twists that are suspiciously similar to The Last Mrs. Parrish (previously reviewed here).  This book is heavy on plot development (which I typically enjoy as I get bored easily) but not enough on character development (which is the sign of a skilled writer, in my humble opinion).  For example, why is the protagonist really scared/too weak to act in some situations, but not others?  I’d classify this book as a fun mind-candy, beach read, but it’s not satisfying in the long run.  Unlike the book I reviewed above, I won’t remember this one in (even) a month.  

From the publisher:  

“Jaw dropping. Unforgettable. Shocking.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.  Read between the lies.

Book #3: 

Caroline Little House RevisitedCaroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller (Length: 385 pages).  I was SO excited to read this book, as the Little House series is the reason I became an ardent book lover as a child.  (My mom was inspired by that series’ author in naming me, so there’s also that).   I found this novel to be interesting in that it was written from the perspective of Laura Ingalls’ mother regarding the year they lived in the little house on the prairie in Kansas.  I found the novel a bit melodramatic in terms of the protagonist’s internal thoughts (ie, self-flagellation if she felt envy, for example), but I can chalk that up to being period-specific.  I did thoroughly enjoy reading about frontier life from the perspective of a mother, however.  If you, too, grew up with the Little House series, I’d recommend this to you, for an enjoyable walk down memory lane.  

From the publisher:  

In this novel authorized by Little House Heritage Trust, Sarah Miller vividly recreates the beauty, hardship, and joys of the frontier in a dazzling work of historical fiction, a captivating story that illuminates one courageous, resilient, and loving pioneer woman as never before–Caroline Ingalls, “Ma” in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved Little House books.
In the frigid days of February, 1870, Caroline Ingalls and her family leave the familiar comforts of the Big Woods of Wisconsin and the warm bosom of her family, for a new life in Kansas Indian Territory. Packing what they can carry in their wagon, Caroline, her husband Charles, and their little girls, Mary and Laura, head west to settle in a beautiful, unpredictable land full of promise and peril.
The pioneer life is a hard one, especially for a pregnant woman with no friends or kin to turn to for comfort or help. The burden of work must be shouldered alone, sickness tended without the aid of doctors, and babies birthed without the accustomed hands of mothers or sisters. But Caroline’s new world is also full of tender joys. In adapting to this strange new place and transforming a rough log house built by Charles’ hands into a home, Caroline must draw on untapped wells of strength she does not know she possesses.

Book #4: 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Length: 338 pages).  I really enjoyed this sweet book, which was reminiscent of A Man Called Ove.   I must admit I was overly distracted by the urge of wanting the protagonist to buy a pair of proper walking shoes, etc but then realized it’s really about the journey, itself, and not outside distractions.  I did find the ending to be a bit anti-climactic (again, perhaps the universe’s way of telling me to be present and enjoy the journey?) but overall, it was satisfying.  I recommend this one!  

From the publisher:  

Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Book #5:

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (Length: 593 pages).  This is one of those books I could have sworn I had read already, namely because I’ve read other Kristin Hannah novels, but I must have confused this with other World War II era novels (such as All the Light We Cannot See).  I enjoyed this read, and thought it was pretty good, especially in terms of the plot arc.  Hannah absolutely excels at drawing detailed characters whom the reader will care about.  I found this to be a bit stressful to read (as any book that’s related to or even tangentially related to the Holocaust can be ) but the ending is satisfactory and wraps up a lot of the moving parts.  I’m glad I took the time to finally read this novel, and would absolutely recommend!  

From the publisher:  

A #1 New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, and soon to be a major motion picture, this unforgettable novel of love and strength in the face of war has enthralled a generation.

With courage, grace, and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France—a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Goodreads Best Historical Novel of the Year • People’s Choice Favorite Fiction Winner • #1 Indie Next Selection • A Buzzfeed and The Week Best Book of the Year

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