Let's chat real quick. Just us bookworms. Do you ever recommend a book you love to someone, they read it, and they don't feel the same burning passion about it you do? How do you react? Do you feel like you need to reevaluate your entire friendship with that person? Divorce them? Do you not care? Do you feel like you just told your crush how much you like them and they told you it's not mutual? Do you question life itself?
No? Just me?
Cool. Glad we had this talk.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys-4.5 stars: GAH. This book hurt so good. I flew through it. Sepetys is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. Salt to the Sea is a fictionalized account of the true story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a ship rescuing refugees from the Soviet Occupation. She brilliantly writes about little-known parts of history that need to be talked about. As someone passionate about history, I'm ashamed that I was so ignorant to the plight of those in the Baltic regions during WWII. When it came to Hitler vs. Stalin, there was no good vs. evil. It was just evil, and the poor refugees were caught in the middle of the power struggle. While the overall story is tragic, the ending, like The Nightingale, is satisfying and bittersweet. But be prepared to lock yourself in your bedroom so you can cry a little bit when you finish reading it. Maybe bring a chocolate stash with you.
For fans of: historical fiction, crying, maritime disasters, refugee stories, WWII
The Mark of the Lion Trilogy by Francine Rivers--4 stars: Granted, these are three separate books (Voice in the Wind, Echo in the Darkness, and Sure as the Dawn), but I felt like I couldn't review them all without giving spoilers. I LOVED this series. It focuses on Christians in ancient Rome--one was a slave, some from a wealthy family, and one a gladiator. There's fighting, action, adventure, love, and faith. Some was a little ridiculous, some a little cheesy, but it was gripping. I read these in a time when I sorely needed some encouragement, and while these books cover some really dark things, they're ultimately uplifting. I loved the way certain people from the Bible were woven into the story and the tension between the Jews and Christians. I've been fascinated with ancient Rome ever since reading this. I think it's also really helped me understand the cultural context of the New Testament so much more.
For fans of: ancient Rome, faith, googling pictures of Russel Crowe in Gladiator to get a better mental image of the characters in the book
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath-3.75 stars: I feel weird reviewing classics, like I'm not qualified to do so. I usually don't include them for that reason, but I'm going to start since I find it helpful when other people write about reading the classics for pleasure instead of a school assignment. We all know what this book is about, right? A girl going a bit crazy and fighting depression? I stayed away from this book for a long time. Like Brain on Fire, I was scared of it, since I know it deals with heavy things and I once again found myself worried it would be contagious. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I think reading about descents into insanity and whatnot are fascinating. Terrifying, but fascinating. There were parts I didn't like and things that made me uncomfortable, but Plath was such an amazing writer that she could've written a chemistry textbook and I would've been hooked.
For fans of: depression?, books about mental health, praising God shock treatment is no longer a popular thing
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly-4 stars: So much historical fiction, I know. I CANNOT BE STOPPED. Ok so listen. Your name is Caroline Ferriday and you're a New York philanthropist dating a French actor. Wait! Now your name is Kasia, and you're a Polish teenager doing whatever you can to protect your country from the war. But wait--there's more! You're now Herta, a female German doctor who will do anything to get to the top, including operate on the Ravensbruck Rabbits: over 70 women who had horrifying medical experiments conducted on them by German surgeons while imprisoned at Ravensbruck. The book follows each woman's story through the war and how their lives intersect afterward. It's based on the real life of Caroline Ferriday and the Ravensbruck Rabbits. It's a beautiful story of friendship and redemption. If you need more convincing, google the Bellamy-Ferriday house. That is the setting for part of the book. Gorgeous, no? Yes I realize my last name is involved and I'm willing to pull whatever strings I need to in order to make that my permanent residence.
For fans of: France, WWII, holocaust stories
I Capture the Castle-4.5 stars: I ADORED THIS BOOK. The English countryside in the 1930s. Castles, dinner parties, literature, and countless Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte references. SO WONDERFUL, right? I knew you would understand. This book was charming, quirky, eccentric, and just wonderfully adorable. Cassandra Mortmain is a teenager with a penchant for writing who lives in a dilapidated castle in the English countryside. Her family is poorer than poor and eccentric as all get-out. The book is comprised of 6 months of her journal entries and all the changes her family goes through. It's such a happy, light read. But! The ending. It wasn't awful, but it just didn't work for me. Maybe it will work for you? I nearly tossed the book at the wall. I wish a few things in the plot turned out differently, but it's still very good and worth reading.
For fans of: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Jane Austen, all things British, literature, castles
My Life in France by Julia Child--5 stars: Maybe this is shameful, but I knew nothing about Julia Child until I saw Julie & Julia when it first came out. I love that movie, and I've been mildly enamored with Julia Child ever since. Her personality! She comes through so well in this book. It's about her move to Paris in 1948 with her husband Paul, how she discovers cooking, the writing of her cookbook, the filming of the French Chef, and everything in between. The writing is completely delightful and charming. I couldn't put it down. I mean I like cooking, but I wouldn't call it a great passion of mine. I'm certainly no foodie (just gimme pizza!), but I still loved and appreciated this book. I love that Julia didn't discover her life calling until she was 37, and I love how she threw her whole self into it. A lot of french food doesn't sound appetizing to me, but I still salivated every time she described a dish she cooked or ate. She gets a little ranty about people who hold different political views and sometimes she waxes on about random culinary things I don't care about, but it's still worthy of 5 stars. I was so sad when it was over. And also hungry.
For fans of: France, cooking, questioning your cooking abilities, youtubing The French Chef late at night and then wondering if it's too late to go make an omelet
What are you reading? Tell me!