March turned out to be the month of very little listening to audiobooks and emotionally challenging reads. So, here’s an image that includes some of my favorite spring flowers (hyacinths) before we dive into the heavy stuff.
So pretty. They smell like heaven, if you can find some and get a whiff. Now, shall we?
The writing in this book was phenomenal. Cleaves is a master with dialogue and whitty turns-of-phrase. I absolutely adored this book and highly recommend it for any Anglo-philes, WW2 readers, or even anyone who would enjoy a glance at life in London during the 1940’s. Though there is a lot of tragedy (it’s a war book, no skirting around that) there is also so much humor and love. While anything having to do with wartime can be difficult to read, there was really only one passage that I would describe as gruesome or gory, and that is probably 2/3 of the way through the book when the German pilot crashes. That’s not a spoiler, don’t worry, and you’ll see what I mean when you read it. But please do-read it, that is.
I started reading Louise Penny’s books last year after hearing them described as murder mysteries that really just use the murder to probe the human psyche. I’ve also heard that this book, #4 in the series, is where she really hits her stride and I’d have to agree. This is a great summer read, as all her books (that I’ve read so far) rely heavily on seasonal themes and this one takes place in the heat of the summer. If you’re new to murder mysteries and are squeamish or very sensitive to violence as I am, you will probably enjoy these books.
I picked this up after hearing several podcasters rave about it. It’s the life story of a woman who grew up in a polygamist (fundamentalist Mormon) community. It was very interesting to get the insight into a different and often secretive religion and culture. There were many parts that were sad and difficult to read because of widespread abuse and neglect that seemed to be rampant in their community, but overall it was a fairly quick, enlightening read.
Wonder was my Young Adult pick this month, as I’m trying to read at least one YA selection each month. We’ll see how that pans out. This book was fantastic, and I intend to purchase a copy to keep on hand for my kids when they are older. It is told primarily from the perspective of a boy named August who was born with a rare medical facial deformity, which he refers to as “mandibulofacial dysostosis”, more commonly known as Treacher Collins syndrome and a cleft palate. The story also shifts perspective to August’s sisters and friends as well. It’s a great read for a kid’s perspective on disabilities, bullying, friendship, and adolescence.
The Underground Railroad was the biggest challenge of the month for me. I had to re-read almost every page in an attempt to hopefully absorb all that Whitehead was trying to convey. The writing is masterful, certainly what you’d expect from a National Book Award winner. It tells the life story of a woman born into slavery in Georgia, Cora, and her experience with the Underground Railroad. This book is so different from anything I’ve ever read about this era, however, because of how Whitehead reimagines the UR as an actual train. I don’t think I’d classify this book as dystopian, but there are definitely elements. It can be very violent and gruesome, as the institution it describes would dictate, but it is so very worth reading anyway. Just be prepared to take your time with it and really process. This is one I’d love to chat about, if any of you pick it up!
I’ve heard such good things about this book, but I’m having a hard time getting into it. The narrator is fantastic and I suspect this is a book that is better on audio, but it still has been slow going for me. Hope to have a review by next month!
The Lake House by Kate Morton
-I’ve read almost all of Kate Morton’s books and this one is probably my favorite so far. I’m about 2/3 of the way through, so maybe I’ll feel differently with the ending, but so far I love it! It’s a great mystery/romance/coming of age/character study.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
– First classic of the year. Confession: I’ve never actually read this whole book. I know. I KNOW. I’m trying to fix that this year, ok? I’ve started it soooo many times. I’m going to do it, guys. Keep me accountable.