Hello everyone! Just wanted to remind you all that I’ve been doing a lot of reading this year and I’ve reviewed quite a few of the books that I have finished right here on the blog! Just click the header up near the top of the page that says “Books 2016”. I finished another one today, so I’ll post my latest review here as well as above just for the fun of it. According to Goodreads, I’ve read 29 books so far this year!! Woo-Hoo! I’m pretty happy about that, and needless to say, there’ll be more to come. I have not reviewed every single book above on my Books 2016 tab, but a majority are on there. I hope you’ll find one or two that may pique your interest 🙂
September 9 A Painted House by John Grisham I went into “retro” mode with this book as I listened to it on audio cassette over the period of a few weeks. I enjoyed it a lot and think it’s probably worth 4 stars – but I think I’d actually give it 4.5 stars, with the extra half-star simply for the awesome narrator in this audio book! I like John Grisham but have not read any of his work for a very long time. This one was published a long time ago (2001) and didn’t contain one word about lawyers – which may have been one reason why I was attracted to it. The story takes place in about 1952 in rural Arkansas, on a cotton farm. Life on a farm back then was pretty rough, and this novel does not sugarcoat it. I truly enjoyed listening to this book and the narrator did a fine, fine job depicting the southern accents, as well as different verbalization for each character. A lot happens in this rural community during the course of one cotton picking season… lots of things that little Luke (our 7 year old main character) hears and witnesses. It’s a good story, but I think I enjoyed it even more because it was an audio edition.
Last month I finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, an amazing non-fiction book about how the cells from one woman’s malignant tumor went on to be used in a thousand (if not more) labs across the world, helping discover treatments for many diseases, including cancer. The author meticulously researched this book and portrayed what I believe to be an honest account of Henrietta herself, as well as the family that survived her. You do need to have some interest I think, in medicine or science to truly enjoy this book. I thought it was fascinating and would most definitely recommend it to others who share my interest in science/medicine. There was some banter about the movie rights to this book being purchased by Oprah. So far, I haven’t heard about a movie in the works. Yet.
This month I read The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman. Wow. This was a book that I hated to see end! Ms Harman is a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) with many years of practice under her belt… this is important to me because, after spending 35 years myself “in the baby business” (NICU) and attending hundreds (and very possibly more than hundreds) of deliveries, I’m going to close any book that doesn’t keep it real. I liken it to my friend Lue Shetler, who cringes when she reads some of the “Amish” novels that are out there these days. Lue was Amish and lived the life well into adulthood, so she recognizes a poorly written, fake “Amish” story in a heartbeat. By the way, she’s working on a book of her own – and you know when it comes out, it will be true to the real Amish lifestyle. Okay, I digress…. this book was more about general nursing, not very much in the way of midwifery, but it was all totally believable and SO SO good. Set during the depression in the mid 1930’s West Virginia, Nurse Becky returns to Hope River, looking for work. This is the second in the “Hope River” novels and I sure hope there are plenty more to follow. Great book. Period.
I recently finished reading this historical novel by Christian author, Lynn Austin. This one was set during the American Civil War, and is book number two in her “Refiner’s Fire” series. I really enjoyed this novel and even learned some new facts about the Civil War in the process. It follows the stories of two young women – both doing what they can to help the war effort. One ignores her “society” upbringing in Pennsylvania and becomes a nurse, one follows what she knows she can do best, and joins the Union Army disguised as a man. One might think this premise sounds a little “corny”, but trust me, it’s not. Lynn Austin is my favorite Christian author for a reason. Her novels are not sugarcoated and shallow. This was a very interesting and realistic book that entirely kept my attention. If you like historical fiction, with a twist of Christianity (not shoved down your throat, but brought up at appropriate, thoughtful times), then I guarantee you’ll enjoy this book. I also very much enjoyed book one in this series, Candle in the Darkness. At some point, I’ll have to read book three, A Light to my Path.
Since I finished reading two books within a week or so of each other, I thought I’d review them both in one post. So here goes….
First up –
I saw this paperback at Costco, and knew it was going to jump into my cart, so I did nothing to try and stop it! This is the fourth installment of “The Clifton Chronicles” and yes, I’ve read them all. This one was, to me, more of a mystery novel than the previous three. As you may (or may not) know, I’m not usually into mysteries at all… I normally leave those to the hubby, who eats them up like good Cadbury chocolate 🙂 However the story started out three books ago, as more of a family saga type book. From Archer’s website: This series is a thrilling episodic saga of love, loss, betrayal, and ambition from the #1 worldwide bestselling author and master storyteller, Jeffrey Archer. I enjoyed catching up with the Clifton and Barrington families, but I still do not feel a strong propensity for mysteries. I’m pretty sure the fifth in the series Mightier Than The Sword (which came out in hardback at the end of Feb) will again lean towards the mystery side, and I probably won’t be purchasing it. I might try and nab it from the library, though. I’ve read other books by Jeffrey Archer and have honestly enjoyed them all – the man can certainly weave a tale!
Next up –
I saw this book on the news stand at the Palm Springs airport recently. I picked it up and looked it over thoroughly before reluctantly putting it back on the shelf. I think it was $14 and I knew I wasn’t going to spend that much on a book I didn’t “need”. Lucky for me, I was able to check this out from our local library, right on to my kindle! Yay! I have read several of JoJo Moyes’ novels and so far have loved them all. This one was so good and so entertaining and beautifully written. Set in the summer of 1946, we follow four of the 650 Australian brides that were placed on a British aircraft carrier and taken to their English husbands. Oh how I love a good piece of historical fiction that is based on fact!!! You might think that the real story would commence after the ship of brides arrived and began their lives anew in a foreign land…. but no. This book encompasses only the journey, which took 6 weeks from Sydney Australia to Plymouth England. The four brides we follow most closely come from completely different walks of life. They were thrown together as bunk mates, and it was quite an adjustment. While I know this book is fiction, I believe it probably holds very true to the conditions on board, as well as the strained (in some cases) interpersonal relationships, and the fears of the unknown that lay ahead of them. Highly recommend this one if you like historical fiction, particularly set in the 1940’s like I do. I also highly recommend JoJo Moyes as an author! She wrote another book I absolutely loved, Me Before You. Without a doubt I’ll be reading more by this talented English author!
I recently finished this book of short stories by my beloved Maeve Binchy. Oh how I will miss her!! Our dear Ms Binchy left us back in July of 2012 and from what I gather, her husband came across a drawer full of stories, all about people who lived on the same street, Chestnut Street. I believe this was still a work in progress when she passed, but since she is no longer here to complete the project, her husband published them “as is”. While everyone in the book had ties to, or lived on Chestnut Street, the characters were VERY minimally interrelated. It was more just a book of short stories, written in her absolutely delightful style. I had no problem going from one chapter to the next… it was easy to immediately get caught up in whatever story was in front of me. Some were good enough that she could have based whole books around them, in my humble opinion. I was sad to see it end and sad to see my long running era of Maeve Binchy books come to a close. When people ask me, “Do you ever re-read books?” I normally reply, “too many great books, not enough time” — but in this case, I truly believe I’ll be re-visiting several of hers.
I’m not one who usually jumps on the proverbial bandwagon to read the latest trendy novel. But, (you knew that was coming)… this time I’m sure glad that I did. Even though this book is targeted for the “young adult” crowd, I read it anyway. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about – and I found out. I really, really liked this book. I read it in two days. If a person was a faster reader than me, that person could have devoured this novel easily in one day. It’s not a huge book, but there’s no wasted space, either. Every single page was good and interesting and creative. Everyone knows the premise of the book – two teenagers (ages 16 & 17) have different types of cancer, meet, get to know/love each other, and have an adventure. I’m even tempted to go see the movie, even though I know the ending – but then, so does practically everyone else that goes to the movie because SO many people have read and thoroughly enjoyed this novel. We all know the ending. We still want to go. As always, it’s probably best to read the book first, since you can theoretically complete it in a day! If you don’t go see the movie, at least read the book. It’s good. It’s really good.
It took me about a month and a week, but I’ve done it, I finished the 943 page behemoth seen above! I got this book for Christmas 2012 and FINALLY got around to reading it. Now I’m a bit sorry that I waited as long as I did to read it. Why? Because so many of the people/characters from his previous book, Fall of Giants appeared in this book as well. If not the exact same characters, then the direct family members of the characters…. and I’d forgotten a lot of them. Follett has a way of bringing it all back, reminding you ever so gently of who did what to whom. Winter of the World starts in 1936 and works and winds it’s way through the war years of 1939-1945, then finishes up in the late 1940’s. I will admit that the first 250 pages or so were a struggle for me, but I KNEW it would be worth it to take the time to get reacquainted with the characters and families. I was right, it was SO worth it. If you’ve read my book reviews through the years, you’d know I am crazy for books set just before, during, and just after WWII. It’s my favorite era, and the funny thing is that it’s been my favorite era now for years. Since this book is quite detailed about armies and war plans and the like, you had better appreciate the WWII era, or at least be a history fan to completely enjoy this one. Personally, I loved it. Feel free to read my not quite as stellar review of the first book in the trilogy here. One of the complaints I had regarding the first book were the unlikely meetings of main characters. While I expected that would happen again in Winter of the World, it didn’t. In my opinion, all the chance encounters of the main characters were much more believable this time around. As mentioned in that review, the final book of the trilogy will be apparently about Vietnam and other events that happened towards the end of the century. I’m still thinking I’ll skip that one, but I’m reserving the right to change my mind! My biggest beef about this novel is that it was heavy and bulky to tote around, and nearly impossible to read in bed (which I love to do). It may be time to accept the inevitable, and just get books as big as this one loaded onto my easily maneuverable Kindle!
Be on the lookout for another review soon – I’m nearing the end of a Kindle book I can’t wait to tell you about!