Friday, March 1, 2019

February 2019 in Books

A really good month of reading.  Some really fantastic books, epic stories as well as a couple very clever quicker reads.  Here's the recap:

The Children of Willesden Lane. Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival - Mona Golabek - biography - five stars - This one has been on my list to read for a while, and I'm so glad I finally got to it.  It's the story of the author's mother, Lisa Jura, who escaped Austria via the Kindertransport. She ends up living in a group home forming long lasting relationships with the other children there. She is a talented pianist who continues to work at her craft and pursue her dream in England, while hoping for the survival of her family members. So readable, and while the subject matter is serious this was one I handed right to Ellie when I was done.  She loves historical fiction and WWII, and loved it just as much as I did.

The Dinner List - Rebecca Serle - fiction - five stars - This was such an interesting premise.  Sabrina arrives to her 30th birthday dinner to find that the people there are all individuals she wrote down years ago on a piece of paper when asked to name five people, living or dead, that she wanted to have dinner with. It's a little bit of fantasy and a little bit of reality as Audrey Hepburn is there as well as others from her past and present. As they go through the discussion you find it's really a way of dealing with unresolved issues, hurts, etc. to allow her to move on, and the story moves between flashbacks and present day.  There were definitely some surprises, and I just loved the idea of this book too.

The Name of This Book Is Secret (Secret, #1) - Pseudonymous Bosch - juvenile fiction - four stars - I really want to at least try and keep up with some of Ellie's reading this year, so she's been setting aside books for me and I'm trying to work them in between library holds.  This was one she received for Christmas.  It's about a couple of kids who get involved in an adventure/mystery involving a bit of magic, the search for eternal youth, and a kidnapping.  I thought is was good, it held my attention, and Ellie loved it.  She sawed through the rest of the series already, I think there are six altogether, so I am waaaaay behind, but I will definitely finish them all eventually.

The Seamstress - Frances de Pontes Peebles - historical fiction - five stars - Another amazing book by Peebles (I read The Air You Breathe last month).  This one is also set in her native Brazil.  I do love a good epic saga that spans generations. T his one is really only one generation, but so well done.  It follows the lives of two sisters who are separated, one escapes her small town and marries a well-to-do man from the city, the other joins a band of Robin Hoods who simultaneously terrorize and aid those in the backcountry. In an era and a country in which women had very little power and sway, this story tells how both sisters overcame those stereotypes.  There is a lot of sadness in the story, but also hope.  Very much hoping she is working on a third novel!

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed - A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings - Michelle Knight - autobiography - four stars - I picked this one up on a whim at the library remembering watching the events unfold when Michelle and the two other women were found at Ariel Castro's home back in 2013. Michelle did not have an easy life, and she recounts her life before her abduction as well as while she was there.  It's a horrific story.  I did want to know some more about what she is doing now, I feel a little left hanging by the book, and the writing could definitely have used a bit more editing which is why it's just a four instead of a five.

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (Harold Fry, #2) - Rachel Joyce - fiction - four stars - I read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry last year and happened to see this book at the library this month.  I had no idea there was a sequel, but I loved the original book, so I immediately plonked this one in my bag.  I loved it.  It was a sweet retelling of Queenie's side of the story - how she ended up in Harold's town to begin with, got her job, and why she did what she did and felt she owed Harold.  She is writing him her story as he walks to see her so that he'll know the truth about his son.  That retelling is interspersed with present day scenes of her hospice facility, interactions with the rest of the patients and the caregivers.  There is a lot of death and sadness, but also joy.  This was such a great book, but I gave it a four because I absolutely hated the ending and have to say that I felt a little cheated by it.

The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog - Adam Gidwitz - juvenile fiction - five stars - This is another book Ellie got for Christmas and it is so good.  It's the story of three children and a dog who are thrown together.  There is a bit of fantasy and whimsy, but also grounded in history.  The tale is told by a series of narrators who meet at a pub and each have a bit of the story to tell until you get to the final piece of the story which is told in real time.  Highly enjoyable with really wonderful illustrations as well. Ellie and both loved this and will be trying out some more from this author.

Washington Black - Esi Edugyan - historical fiction - five stars - I loved this one  Washington Black is a slave on a plantation in Barbados who is befriended by the brother of the new master.  They end up fleeing the plantation together, both seeking freedom.  They are eventually separated and Washington goes on to make his own way, ending up in Canada and then going to Europe.  A fantastic story with engaging characters and some surprises as well.  Highly recommend.

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers - Maxwell King - biography - four stars - There's so much to love about Mr. Rogers.  This book was quite exhaustive detailing his childhood, education, and the creation of his show.  It really got into the nitty gritty philosophy behind the shows, the steps he took, etc. etc.  I enjoyed it, but it was definitely detailed, and really focused on his professional life/work.  There was a lot about his childhood, but when it came to his own family/raising his kids/marriage, not a lot of details other than a few anecdotes.  I did appreciate the different stories sprinkled throughout the book that told about him and interactions people had with him, they helped to break up the detail about how the shows were formulated, etc.  It was definitely worth reading, but was a bit drier than I though it would be. 

Next up for me I needed a bit of a palate cleanser, so I'm reading Mary Kay Andrews' The High Tide Club right now.  In my up next pile are The President's Club, Black Dove White Raven, Codename Villanelle, The Girl They Left Behind, and Nine Continents.  I hope you'll share what you've been reading and if there's something I must add to my list.  Have a great weekend!

1 comment:

  1. OH Miriam, such great reads! I wish I could be as dedicated to my reading and book reviews! I read them and then hardly have time to get them on my Goodreads list! I am marking a couple of yours to read! I am a new follower to your blog!