Monday, August 1, 2022

July 2022 in Books

Hey all, some pretty good reads this month.  It was a nice mix of genres.  Here's the lowdown:

- by Isabel Allende - historical fiction - four stars - The story of Violeta, a woman living in an unnamed South American country.  She grew up in a wealthy family, but they lost everything during the Great Depression, moving to the country and starting over.  I really like Allende, but this wasn't my favorite of her books.  The story overall was OK, but I felt like it was a little preachy trying to tackle too many societal issues.  I also wasn't crazy about the way that it was told, as a letter to a beloved family member.  Still a good read, just not my favorite Allende work.

Charlie Thorne and the Curse of Cleopatra (Charlie Thorne #3) - by Stuart Gibbs - juvenile fiction - five stars - Charlie is tracking down Cleopatra's greatest treasure, meanwhile she has multiple organizations on her tail.  She's also teamed up with her cousin Dante and his partner who the CIA have basically hung out to dry.  I really enjoy how Gibbs weaves history and archaeology together with the story, it's a great way for kids to learn a little while enjoying a fun action book.  The girls and I all enjoyed this one and can't wait for the next book.

The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton - by Eleanor Ray - fiction - four stars - I really enjoyed this one.  Amy Ashton is a hoarder.  She lives a monastic/reclusive life in her home which is crammed full of treasures.  Her neighbors think she isa. nuisance and have reported her to the housing commission.  Amy wasn't always this way.  Years ago she lived a normal life, had a best friend, and a boyfriend, until they disappeared at the same time.  Amy always thought something nefarious occurred, but everyone else just thought they ran off together.  This one was a little predictable, but I really liked Amy, a nice feel good read.

We are the Brennans
- by Tracey Lange - fiction - four stars - This one was probably more like three and a half stars rounded up.  Sunday Brennan was just in a terrible car accident in California, after driving drunk.  She has been away from home for years, leaving without explanation.  Sunday heads hone to recover, reconnecting with her family and former boyfriend.  Things at home are difficult as well, there are a lot of secrets being kept between family members.  Sunday's return starts to. unravel those issues as well as explain why she left in the first place.  There were a few unexpected twists in this one, although also a few things that were a bit too inconvenient.  I liked Sunday, but a several of the other characters were a little annoying. 

The Paper Girl of Paris - by Jordyn Taylor - juvenile historical fiction - four stars - This was one of Ellie's books that she passed along to me.  This is a dual storyline book, the present day action follows sixteen year old Alice whose beloved grandmother just died.  She left her an apartment in Paris that no one knew about.  Alice and her parents head to Paris and find the apartment which appears to have been untouched for years.  Alice learns that her grandmother had a sister, and she sets out to find out about what happened to her, and why her grandmother never talked about her.  The WWII timeframe story is about Alice's grand-aunt Adalyn, explaining what happened to her, and her involvement in the resistance.  I enjoyed this one although I thought it a bit odd that Alice's parents allowed her to roam Paris alone given that she had never been there before.  There was also a secondary storyline involving Alice's mom which I thought was just extraneous and unneeded. 

East of Eden - by John Steinbeck - fiction - five stars - I read this one years ago and remember really enjoying it, and I've been wanting to get back into some classics since I feel like I'm mostly reading newer books these days.  This was Steinbeck's first book.  It follows the story of Adam Trask, his complicated relationship with his father and brother, his even more complicated marriage, and then the lives of his twin sons.  It's a really interesting look at good and evil, nature vs. nurture, if people are redeemable, the need for love and validation and how character is formed.  It's definitely a lengthy read, but just as enjoyable now as it was years ago.

The Warsaw Orphan - by Kelly Rimmer - historical fiction - three stars - This one was just OK.  It's another WWII novel and follows the life of Emilia, who had to flee her home in Poland after her father and brother were killed by the Nazis.  She was adopted by the brother's fiance's sister and husband, and they head to Warsaw living below the radar in case people are still looking for Emilia.  Just beyond the ghetto wall lives Roman who is half Jewish.  His Catholic father passed years ago, and his family now includes a step-father and two step-siblings, all full Jews.  Emilia becomes involved in smuggling children out of the ghetto and meets Roman in this capacity.  She is able to help smuggle his infant step-sister out.  After the rest of his family is deported, Roman becomes involved in the resistance.  Overall it was a good story, but for some reason it really dragged for me.  I did like that Rimmer did not flinch from the difficult hard things.  There was plenty of that in the book, but the character of Roman was frustrating to me, and I felt like at the end the change in character was too rushed/didn't make sense.

The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear - by Kate Moore - non-fiction - five stars - My one non-fiction book for the month, and a really good one.  I wasn't sure if this one would be a slow read, but it was actually pretty zippy.  It's about the life of Elizabeth Packard.  Her husband, a minister, had her committed to an asylum simply because she was being a problem for him - too outspoken, disagreeing with him on theology, etc.  This was in 1860, and women basically had no rights, it was well within his ability to do, and she spent three years in an asylum as a result.  She was finally released, but her husband wasn't happy about it and was just about to take her to Massachusetts to have her committed again, when her friends intervened.  They forced a trial to prover her insanity, and she was found by the jury to be sane.  She then went on to champion the rights of women, changing laws to prevent husbands from committing wives who were not insane, and working to have the administrator in the asylum where she had been committed deemed unfit.  Packard is an inspiring woman who truly cared about those she was incarcerated with.  She could easily have forgotten about them after her release, but she worked tirelessly as a champion for them.  Great read.

Harvey Takes the Lead - by Colleen Nelson - juvenile fiction - five stars - This is the third Harvey book, about a Westie who loves his human Maggie as well as his friends and residents of Brayside Retirement Home.  This is probably my second favorite of the books, the first being my favorite.  I felt like the pace of this one was a lot faster, and I really enjoyed the storyline.  There's a new director at Brayside, and she's making some unwelcome changes.  Meanwhile, the residents are dealing with a serious medical issue for one of their beloved members, and Maggie is trying out for the school musical.  Austin, another major character who is another kid who helps out at Brayside is also having some financial issues.  Cute, and funny, and heartwarming.  The chapters are nice and short which I think is great for younger readers.

I think my favorite this month was The Woman They Could Not Silence.  That's the first time in a while when my favorite has been non-fiction.  I'm currently reading The Master and the Margarita, which I'm just getting into and not quite sure about, and The Messy Lives of Book People which I'm enjoying so far.  Please share what you've been reading!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your book reviews. They are wonderful summaries of plot and I appreciate your thoughts on the quality of the books. I look forward to the reviews each month. I read Green Island, Lessons in Chemistry and Four Treasures of the Sky based upon your reviews. They were all good choices for me. I will leave another comment after I review some books that I read that I think you may enjoy. The Lincoln Highway is my favorite read this year.