Book Review: “The Nightingale”

I read this book from a recommendation and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I have never been a huge historical fiction person, but I really enjoyed this story and got to a point where I couldn’t put it down. I even ended up purchasing the book after my library borrow time had expired and I hadn’t quite finished the book yet.

I was not the best history student in school and didn’t retain much about World War II which made me look up a lot while reading this book. It’s fictional in the individual stories but the history is accurate and I genuinely learned more about the war and how truly devastating it was. I obviously knew it was tragic, but didn’t fully grasp the personal stories outside of those in camps. In school you don’t really get to hear about personal stories, what you learn are mostly general, broad ideas and timelines.

Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale follows the personal stories of two sisters living in World War II occupied France. One sister, Vianne, and her young daughter are living in a small town that becomes host to several Nazi captains, one of which requisitions her household while her husband heads to the front line. The other, Isabelle, continues her teenage rebellious tendencies and joins the resistance determined to undermine the Nazi regime and operate right under their noses.

The best element of the book was the emotional tone that came through and made the narrative so engaging. It was the two personal stories that made it great. I felt for the characters and every up and down they had. I felt the emotions they were feeling and that’s what kept me reading nonstop for hours on end. I didn’t want to put it down because I had to know what was next and I think that quality in a book is a sign of a great author.

I think many authors can go wrong when writing fictional novels that are based on major historical events. I think there is a fine balance to writing the history and writing your own story. I’ve been afraid to read historical fiction because I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a textbook that drones on and on about the facts. I’d much rather have a story that plays into the facts of the event or time period with personal stories that are easy to follow and that the reader can latch on to.

I also think it’s important in these types of novels to really develop the characters and illustrate how they are reacting to the events transpiring around them. If you don’t have an interesting character then it’s going to feel like a textbook with little to no emotion. I think the best stories about historical tragedies encompass the heartache, the struggle and the thinking or decision making of a character living through that tragedy. And I think Hannah did that with not just one character but two very well. I also find it really enthralling because the two characters are females that are dealing with having to become strong individuals. It’s a bit different than other WW2 novels too because the majority of the ones I’ve seen or read about focus on the soldiers at war or those imprisoned in camps. This story was different and I think that’s why I chose to read it.

Overall, I was very happy reading this book and pleasantly surprised about how I couldn’t put it down despite it not being a genre I usually gravitate towards. I’ve started to recommend it to others because it is a fantastic historical fiction read and I hope those that I’ve recommended it to enjoyed it as much as I did.

Book Review: "Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree"

In honor of World Poetry Day I’ll be reviewing Simi K. Rao’s collection of Poems, Rants and Short Stories, Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree.

As I’ve mentioned before, reading poetry is a great step away from the classic novel and I really enjoy reading collections from different poets to get a taste of the different styles and stories that each poet has. Some people say that poetry is all the same, but each poet has their own style that comes through in their selection and flow of words.

I really enjoyed Rao’s style and flow and how she put together her collection. The assortment is a mix of her own life experiences and of those of her friends and family which makes it far more realistic and enjoyable. Life isn’t always easy to write about and even harder to share with others. For Rao, the emotion comes out in each poem clearly. You can tell she took her time in writing and arranging the poems and short stories to best convey certain emotions.

One particular poem that I enjoyed and bookmarked to reread was Loneliness.


Introducing Loneliness,
your constant companion
You lie if you say you don’t know me
I’m the one who sits beside you in the empty
passenger seat
I’m the stranger who smiles at you at the mall
I’m the blanket you wrap yourself in every night
I’m the clock you hear ticking in the hall
I’m the breeze that ruffles your hair on a cold winter
I’m the scream that reverberates through your lonely
I’m the earth who cradles you in the grave
Where would you be without me?

If you didn’t get a little tug in the pit of your stomach from reading that, then read it again. It’s brutally honest in a way that is hurtful but also comforting. It’s a poetic interpretation of a typical, human element that most, me included, wouldn’t be able to put into words. It’s very powerful.

The collection includes other poems just as powerful as this one but also others that are more light-hearted and short stories that I wish weren’t short stories. I strongly believe that a good writer has written a good short story when the reader wants more.

The short stories and poems that reflect real experiences and emotions of struggle, loneliness, defeat and triumph make the whole collection worth a read. Rao’s writing is raw and relatable which makes it an easy and enjoyable read.

Book Review: “The Last Time We Say Goodbye”

Book thirty nine/forty of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Cynthia Hand’s The Last Time We Say Goodbye

This book was a little hard to read mainly because of the central element of the story being about a teen’s suicide and how it affects those close to them. I think Cynthia Hand handles the touchy subject very well and really tells a genuine story about a sister who unexpectedly loses her brother. High school is hard enough but when your brother becomes “the kid that committed suicide” everyone starts to look at you differently and walk on eggshells whenever you enter the room. Lex faces a lot in this novel but that’s what makes her a great character.

I’ve said it multiple times before and I’ll say it again, I love character development. Lex’s character development is so well done in this novel. Saying it’s tough to deal with suicide is an understatement and you really see that through Lex’s eyes which made it kind of hard to read at times. Hand really did a great job in making the reader feel the pain Lex felt throughout the entire book so I was personally hoping that she would eventually get closure because I needed it too.

Something that I don’t like in books about touchy subjects is when an author leaves out details to “spare the audience.” I think if you’re writing a novel that has sensitive elements, it needs to be written correctly, no filter. Hand did that. If you sugar coat things or make them unrealistic, it’s not enjoyable to read. She didn’t sugar coat the story and it made it harder to read sure, but it also made in more enjoyable. Death isn’t an easy topic, but then again neither is life. The Last Time We Say Goodbye is about those not-so-easy topics. Lex deals with a lot of inner turmoil that in a way, buries her in a grave of her own thoughts and she has to find a way to dig herself out. Even though she’s alive, she’s dealing with death and how the moments leading up to her brother’s will never leave her.

I would recommend this book purely because of Lex’s character development and the emotional draw that Hand manages to accomplish with the story. It’s a hard subject matter, but it’s something that everyone has or is going to experience in their lives. Unfortunately, suicide is prevalent all to much in our current society and it’s not going to help anyone avoiding the topic. Of course, proceed with caution if this subject is too close to home.

This book completes my 2019 Reading Challenge. I technically finished the book in 2020, but I began reading it in 2019 so I’m counting it towards my challenge. I also listened to an audio book (Michael Connelly’s Two Kinds of Truth) back in August that I wasn’t sure about including in my challenge total, but after thinking about it, I did listen to the entire book and ultimately thought it still counted (if you disagree, keep it to yourself). So with that, my goal to reach 40 books was a success!

Thank you to all that have followed along and have read my reviews. I’m anticipating wanting to write more book reviews as I add to my “Read” list on Goodreads so head back here for more this year.

Book Review: “Pumpkinheads”

Book thirty eight of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Rainbow Rowell’s Pumpkinheads

I’ve really enjoyed reading Rainbow Rowell’s novels and when I found out she had a graphic novel coming out that was fall oriented I was very excited.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Rowell’s writing paired with the illustrations is witty and fun and everything you want in a graphic novel. Even though the intended audience is young adults, I loved the story and the adventure across the pumpkin patch. I didn’t read any sort of graphic novel aside from maybe an excerpt or passage for a school assignment so this year when I decided to challenge myself with reading I wanted to expand my reading array. Hence the addition of graphic novels.

I always thought graphic novels and comics were not my thing, but I really like the idea of a story being told with the added bonus of images (and it not being a TV show or movie). The images help create the story and show the reader exactly how the characters were intended to be visualized by the author. An added benefit to graphic novels is that the writer doesn’t have to spend time explaining settings or what a character looks like and can focus on the story and the dialogue which is arguably the best element of novels.

The very talented artist, Faith Erin Hicks, brought the characters and the setting to life with beautiful colors and composition. I really liked the story, but I appreciated the illustrations even more. It’s difficult to show so much in a small square on a page but Hicks did just that and she did it very well. The emotions conveyed on the page made the writing pop and the story flow so easily. I really enjoyed the novel and hope that Rainbow Rowell continues to write both traditional novels and graphic novels.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

Book Review: “The Photography of Game of Thrones”

Book thirty seven of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

The Photography of Game of Thrones

So I became a Game of Thrones fan a little later in the game than most and you can read more about that in my blog post here. I managed to get the first seven seasons finished before the eighth premiered so I was able to suffer with the rest of the world while watching the series finale. I not only fell in love with the stories, the heroism and the phenomenal acting, but I also fell in love with the cinematography, the set and the beautiful imagery that brought the whole series to life.

All of that is beautifully put together in the coffee table book The Photography of Game of Thrones. Series photographer Helen Sloan captured many wonderful shots of the acting and behind-the-scenes creation of GOT throughout its 10-year run. Each of the 850 photos was especially chosen and placed in a chapter to highlight the seven new gods of Westeros. Each chapter is also introduced with a synopsis of the god’s connection to the story and how certain characters and their behavior embody what that god symbolizes.

I’m a fan of photography and I’m a fan of Game of Thrones and this book was a wonderful Christmas gift that I didn’t waste any time leafing through. The never-before-seen photographs and candid shots were not only fun to see but also showed all the hard-work that went into the creation of each and every episode.

I’m hoping this year that I’ll be able to read the first book of George R.R Martin’s series that inspired it all so stay tuned for that.

Stay tuned for my next review: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

Book Review: “The Paper Menagerie”

Book thirty six of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

Short stories are always great to read because they’re short and a quick to finish for most readers. They let you get a taste of a story without the commitment of an entire novel. Unfortunately, for me, a book of short stories wasn’t so great. I was excited to read this book and immerse myself in several different worlds but after I finished one story I wasn’t really motivated to pick up the book again for another story. It was like starting a whole new book again, but every day.

I really liked the stories that I did get to read from this collection but I didn’t get to read them all. I borrowed the book from the library and it was actually sent from another library so when I went to renew it (for the second time), it wouldn’t let me because someone else was waiting for it.

I hope that I can possibly pick up the book again and read more in the future as the stories were really engaging and interesting. I enjoyed the fantasy, futuristic story lines and the characters that were developed so quickly but in a tasteful way.

I was really surprised that it was so difficult for me to read and keep going but I think I just learned that short stories are okay in smaller doses for me and not in a full 450 page book.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Photography of Game of Thrones by Michael Kogge

Book Review: “Yes Please”

Book thirty five of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Amy Poehler’s Yes Please

I didn’t think I’d like non-fiction and biographies in particular but with this reading challenge I wanted to try some new things. Amy Poehler’s biography about her life as a comedian and mom was one that I enjoyed a lot. I mean, who doesn’t like comedy? Add some candid writing from one of the best female comedians of this time and you have a greatly unique read.

Yes Please is Poehler’s autobiography about her life before comedy, her marriage (and divorce) and of course her life now as a working comedian and mother. Her style of writing is very blog-like with little quips and real honest writing which is always a great touch in my opinion. If a celebrity is going to write their own book it needs to show their character through the writing and I think Poehler did exactly that. I really felt like I knew her because of those little “breaks in character”.

Some of her stories from before SNL and stardom were so real and made me respect her as a celebrity. I always respect a celebrity more when I see or read about how hard they worked to get to where they are now. Of course reading about these little skits she did with other “not yet discovered comedians” and other things like the Upright Citizens Brigade made me fall down a YouTube rabbit hole of old videos after reading a chapter. So in addition to getting to read the book, I also got to watch a few standup routines and SNL skits.

The other side of her book parallel to her career is her personal life. Poehler talks openly about her life as a mother and as someone who has been divorced and it shows how celebrities have lives outside of their career that you don’t normally see. Right now, as a young adult, I like reading about other peoples’ lives because it gives me different perspectives and lets me take in life lessons that other people have learned. And that includes non-fiction and fictional stories. And obviously when it’s a real person’s story and lessons learned, it’s more impactful.

I highly recommend this book to anyone that’s a fan of Amy Poehler. Her writing is from the heart and genuinely candid and fun(ny) to read.

Stay tuned for my next review: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Book Review: The Black Dagger Brotherhood Series (1-6)

Books twenty nine through thirty four of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

J.R. Ward’s The Black Dagger Brotherhood

I was first introduced to J.R. Ward’s world of vampires when I was in high school from that dear old bookworm of a friend that I’ve mentioned before. She owns all the books and let me borrow the first one, Dark Lover, that I read in high school. I was pretty hooked just from reading that first book but unfortunately school happened and reading for fun wasn’t a priority – sad I know. I remember starting the second and not being able to finish and when she left for college I didn’t think too much of the series until later when I started college myself.

Another bookworm friend that I met in college was volunteering at a huge book resale fair that the local Friends of the Library chapter puts on every year in Eugene and insisted that I come to check it out. I didn’t exactly hesitate attending a large, convention-center sized, used book sale where books started at just $1. After weaving through rows and rows and rows of books I saw the logo of the Black Dagger brotherhood on a book. I picked it up out of curiosity and discovered the Insider’s Guide from author J.R. Ward. I leafed through and started to remember a bit of the premise and remembered how much my hometown friend loved the series. I ended up buying the book as a gift to her and then thought to look for the books themselves for myself. Remember the (softcover) books were only $1 so I had no shame in creating a very heavy stack to haul back to my small studio apartment. Unfortunately, that stack did not include any of the other BDB books.

Fast forward to a little later in the school year. That same bookworm friend from college wanted to take me to a great used bookstore in Eugene called Smith Family Bookstore that she really liked. I had a list going on my phone of books that I wanted and would look for (what book lover doesn’t have that never-ending list?). On that list was the first of the BDB series. I figured I had read the first one, but should probably start over from the beginning anyway. I found the book and one other from the first six and brought it back to my apartment in hopes of starting up and getting into the series. I managed to reread Dark Lover but didn’t get much farther than that. I kept my eyes out for the next in the series but it wasn’t until my senior year when I finally got to the wonderful Powell’s City of Books in Portland that I found several in the series, the second installation, Lover Eternal, included.

Fast forward again to this year and I finally got into reading the series again. Since that first trip to Powell’s I’ve managed to acquire quite a few of the books and had the original six so I started off with the second book, Lover Eternal. I powered through that book, and then the next, and so on until I read all five remaining in the original saga. Keep in mind these books at all 400+ pages and I managed to read five in about two months, which surprised me. I decided to take a break and read some other books to complete my 2019 Challenge before jumping back into the series with book seven: Lover Avenged. Below is a little review on each book and then more on the series as a whole.

I will begin by letting you know that this series is paranormal/fantasy romance. So, if you are not one who is interested in sexy lethal vampires, I’d stop here. If you think you’d be interested in romantic tales of love, loss, family and the occasional killing spree please continue.

Dark Lover – Even though I read this look awhile ago and not during this year, I still want to touch on it considering it is the first of the series. Each book is focused on one brother of the Black Dagger brotherhood, an elite group of vampire warriors tasked with the protection of the race. The first book is focused on Wrath, the leader of the brotherhood. Wrath is stuck in the awkward predicament of helping his late friend and brother’s half-breed daughter during her transition which not only transforms her body from human to vampire, but from normal human life to the life of a vampire. Wrath attempts to console Beth during her transition and ends up falling in love with her instead. With Beth now in his life he decides the race needs a true, dedicated leader so he hangs up his daggers and ascends to the throne as rightful King.

In addition to the lustful relationship between Wrath and Beth many other things occur in the book. You meet the entire brotherhood and other vampires in the community as well as the race’s enemy, the lessers. The lessers’ goal is to wipe out the vampire race at the command of the Omega, a powerful other-worldly being. The brotherhood’s job is to protect the race and extinguish the lessening society but of course it doesn’t come easy. The book, and series as a whole, is packed with action, romance and twists and turns that keep you reading late into the night.

Lover Eternal – Rhage, a powerful warrior plagued with the curse of a beast, is lost within the brotherhood and scared of what the beast within could unleash at any moment around anyone. The vampire race is hidden within the normal world and no human is allowed into it but that changes when Mary gets thrown head-first into the arms of Rhage (literally). Mary, whose plagued with her own inner beast that she can’t control, sees something in Rhage that she’s never seen in anyone before. As the battle against the lessers rages on, the battle to keep their new found love together becomes a challenge all its own. Rhage and Mary’s forbidden relationship is one I latched onto. Their chemistry made me root for them from the very beginning and the challenges they face together made me fall in love with the relationship even more.

With Mary’s introduction also came the introduction of her gorgeous neighbor Bella who Mary always thought was different but couldn’t put her finger on it. Bella is a vampire. (Please note that Bella is far different from Bella Swan of the Twilight series. I know it’s a girl named Bella in a vampire series, but they are very different from each other I promise.)

Lover Awakened – Lover Awakened follows “the most terrifying member” of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Zsadist. Riddled with scars of his past, Zsadist finds little comfort with his brotherhood and even less comfort from others, possible lovers included. That is until he can’t get Bella out of his mind. His inner animal craves being with her and his vengeance to bring justice to the lessers that tortured her makes their bond even stronger. Though Zsadist at first doesn’t take in the love Bella practically throws at him, she eventually brings down his walls and he finds the love and comfort he always needed. I found this story the hardest to read because Zsadist’s past is tortured and cruel and far from loving in any shape or form. His scars, both physical and mental are only exacerbated by the presence of his twin brother Phury who grew up in quite the opposite way. Phury is tortured himself because like his brother he finds feelings for Bella which ultimately complicates their story even more. More on Phury’s story later.

Lover Revealed – Butch O’Neal is probably my favorite human character in the series. Butch fell into the vampire world and the inner circle of the brotherhood in the first installment of the series, Dark Lover, when he, as a local homicide detective, dug a little too deep into a case. Butch’s story is a long and complicated one that thankfully ends with love (and let’s be real, most of these stories end in love). Butch, who is totally immersed into the vampire world, falls head over heels for an aristocrat female vampire who is pretty much out of his league by several standards. Marissa is not only a highborn aristocrat but also the sister of the vampire race’s most prominent physician Havers. Because of their social status, Havers shelters Marissa from male vampires and especially the brotherhood. Butch being no exception.

In addition to battling his inner turmoil on whether to pursue Marissa or not, Butch also gets involved in the never-ending war between the lessers and the vampires. Butch’s story and his journey in his human life enthralled me from the first time I met him in Dark Lover. His sassy Bostonian attitude and blatant disregard for his own mortal state makes him an extremely lovable character that I was so excited to read about even more in Lover Revealed. His story evolves more throughout the book and what he brings to the brotherhood is so genuine and unique in its own way I couldn’t imagine the series without him.

Lover Unbound – Vishous’s story was one that kept me on the edge of my seat. Vishous is Butch’s best friend and is now dealing with a separation of sorts now that Butch and Marissa are together. Though he’s never shown affection towards others, Vishous suddenly finds himself craving intimacy. Now remember when I mentioned above about how humans aren’t allowed into the vampire world? Well, there’s always exceptions and so far in the series there has been two, Butch and Mary. Enter the third: Doctor Jane. Vishous finds himself in the ER of a human hospital in critical condition and Dr. Jane Whitcomb not only helps bring him back but sparks something that no one thought would exist inside him. With Jane’s life-saving measures, Vishous finds himself dealing with cravings he’s never had before, cravings for the love of a woman. Jane, like Mary, is thrown into the vampire world and has to make a very hard decision that could leave more than one person heartbroken. Each chapter in this story ended in a way that kept me starting the next chapter until I was reading late into the night or morning really. The book also ended in a way that had me picking up the next immediately.

Lover Enshrined – Lover Enshrined wraps up the main saga with the last main brother’s story. Phury, who has given his all to the brotherhood and to his twin Zsadist, finally gets a chance at love but it doesn’t come in the way he expected. In the vampire world procreation is dangerous. The time it takes to produce young is long and commonly results in the death of the mother. This therefor puts strain on the vampire population and maintaining the race’s existence. In the past there has been a male of the brotherhood that is chosen to keep the vampire line going by committing himself to the Chosen, a group of females dedicated to the preservation of the race. Phury’s dedication is well-known among the brotherhood and honorable to say the least, but when it comes to actually taking Cormia, his first Chosen, he shrugs off his responsibility and delays the process. Phury’s commitment to the mission of the brotherhood wavers and he becomes lost in a way. The journey he takes and his self discovery is a great story that I felt fit well as the final installment of the original saga.

In addition to Phury’s story, the lessening society’s story also hits a major peak in Lover Enshrined. An unexpected twist in leadership brings an entirely new threat to the vampire world and puts the brotherhood on high alert with little resources to protect the race.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood: An Insider’s Guide – The Insider’s Guide was a great book to reference throughout reading the first six books in the series. J.R. Ward writes little interviews between her and the characters of the series in addition to character profiles of each brother. I have to admit I looked ahead on one or two of the brothers to see if they ended up with the right lover – I was being impatient, the books are 400+ each after all. It’s a wonderful addition to the series and worth buying if you are getting into the series.

In addition to the brothers in the Black Dagger Brotherhood there are several other characters that are introduced and involved in the books. One of my favorite aspects of this series and of Ward’s writing style is the switch from character to character in each new chapter and sometimes even with a single chapter. This also sets up the next several books with characters that we’ve been introduced to but haven’t been able to get their own story yet.

Overall, I love love love this series and can’t wait to get reading the next book. I would like to write more and more about each book but I’d rather you take a look for yourself. Like I said before, if you’re not a romance novel person, this isn’t the series for you. If you are, please consider starting this series, you won’t regret it.

Stay tuned for my next review: Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

Book Review: “Turtles All the Way Down”

Book twenty eight of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Before I get into the my most recent book review, I thought I’d let you know I’ve decided to lower my goal for the 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge. Instead of reaching for the 50 book goal I will be trying to get 40 books read instead. 50 books has proven to be a challenging goal that I cannot reach this year, but I’m hoping to continue and at least get 40 read. So here is the review for book 27:

John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down

I have always been a fan of John Green’s Crash Course videos, especially when I was in high school, and then when he published The Fault in Our Stars when I was a sophomore and it gained a ton of popularity, I began reading his books. I read The Fault in Our Stars first, watched the movie, and then read some of his earlier novels. I recently got to read his latest novel Turtles All the Way Down and I really enjoyed it.

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy reading young adult novels and I find that the real reason behind it is that I’m still a young adult. I may be 22 (almost 23) but I still relate to the characters in YA novels. In addition to associating to the “not so mature, still learning the ropes of life” aspect, in this novel I also related to the main character Aza and her pronounced anxiety. She lives with this “ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts” that I’ve experienced myself in recent years.

As someone who constantly fights with my own train, or spiral of thoughts, I empathized with Aza and her struggles. I think Green’s raw portrayal of her mental state might come across as dark and not appropriate for younger readers, but in reality it’s accurate to what a lot of young people are going through. Being in high school is tough. Being in college is tough. Even being a young professional is tough. Having the opportunity to connect with a character who is experiencing similar things assures you that you aren’t alone.

I personally escape my reality by reading books and entering a world that isn’t my own. Having a character like Aza that I relate to brings that world a little closer to home. In this case, it was a good thing because it shows that with hard work, love, help and faith you can overcome your own demons. I think a lot of those in my generation and the ones after me could use a little encouragement and a little help from reading a book that gives them hope.

With Aza’s anxiety, Davis’s love for his brother and Daisy’s perseverance to live her best life there can be a lot learned from this fictional novel. The plot may seem a little extraordinary and the characters may only be 16, but the mentality and drive that keeps the characters going is valuable to any reader of any age.

I personally connected with this book more than I thought I would and for that reason I recommend it to anyone that might feel a bit lost, anxious or just stuck in a rut.

***If you are someone who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, mysophobia, or intense anxiety take caution before reading this book.

Stay tuned for my next review.

Book Review: “Displacement: A Travelogue”

Book twenty seven of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Lucy Knisley’s Displacement: A Travelogue

I enjoyed Knisley’s first travelogue about her adventures in Europe when she was in her twenties so I thought I would look into some of her other travelogues.

I was not as impressed with this graphic memoir as I was with Knisley’s Age of License. I think I related more with the “traveling Europe while I’m young” novel which made it more interesting to me. I really commend her actions that spurred this travelogue though. Taking the time (and having the patience) to be with your grandparents on a cruise for a week is super hero status.

Like her first book though, it is inspirational and empowering to read about her travels. For this novel it was a different kind of inspirational. It’s a beautiful story about how she grew closer and really began to understand her grandparents throughout the time she spent with them.

I wish I had a stronger connection with my grandparents and I definitely liked that aspect of the book. It just fell a little flat when it came to story arc and interestingness. But still a good story in the end.

Stay tuned for my next review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Book Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Book twenty six of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

I have been wanting to read this book so I can start watching the series on Hulu. I knew the premise was different than the average dystopian novel, but I really liked the story and message it conveyed.

Offred’s character is a very strong female lead that is relatable in a world where everything is falling down. She faces many challenges that are not directly connected with today’s common challenges but fall within the same vein. Her thoughts, mannerisms and whole experience is detailed with both moments of the present and moments of the past which I really enjoy. This blend of the past and present is character development at its finest and if you’ve been following along with some of my other reviews, I love a good character development.

Offred’s story, though in an alternative universe, was written in a time of conflict (during the peak of the Cold War). Conflict will never go away in our society so being able to escape to a conflicted world that isn’t the same as my own is oddly refreshing. The way Atwood tells the handmaid’s tale is unique and attention-grabbing because of the parallels and metaphors related of modern America.

In addition to tying to today’s societal flaws and changes, the story also touches on ideas and practices of the past. The mix of past, present and dystopian future, makes the novel a great read. I never used to appreciate stories like this in the historical sense but have come to enjoy it most likely because of the sense that history has and will probably continue to repeat itself in many shapes and forms during my lifetime.

I recommend this novel to anyone that is interested in a dystopian-style story that also comments on events of the past. I do plan to read Atwood’s sequel The Testaments soon (it’s being released this month) so stay tuned for that review.

Stay tuned for my next review: Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley

Book Review: “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops”

Book twenty five of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Jen Campbell’s Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

I’m officially halfway through my 2019 Reading Challenge! I know I’m a little behind, but I’m still confident I will finish 50 books before the year is over.

To celebrate my halfway point I read a book of collected quotes and conversations from bookstore customers. As an avid reader and purchaser of books, I’ve spent a decent amount of time in bookstores. I’ve certainly overheard my fair share of strange questions in bookstores and regular stores for that matter so I found this collection very entertaining and worth the read.

One of my favorites:

Customer: I just don’t like my Kindle. I like real books. They are like cozy blankets to me.

Mary Jane Reed – G. J. Ford Bookstore, St. Simmons, GA

I relate to that quote so much. I was given a Kindle for my birthday a couple years ago and haven’t touched it in probably a year and a half. One day I’ll pick it up again, but for now I have plenty of physical paper page books.

Stay tuned for my next review and the rest of the 25 books of my challenge: The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.