Books of the Month - February 2017
A friend gifted me this adorable Owl Calendar by Debbie Mumm and I love it so much that I decided to use it as the backdrop for my new Books of the Month posts. At the end of each month, I'll post about the books I read that month along with a short review of each. Have you read them? What did you think? Join in on the fun and leave us a comment!
Some of these books will be featured in our The Book & Beyond section, too. I'd love to tell you that all the books I read will be found in The Book & Beyond but in reality, that probably won't happen. Even so, you'll want to check out the ones that do make it - there's tons of fascinating stuff in there!
HMS Nightingale by J.A. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Swashbuckling Interstellar Adventures
In this, the 4th volume, Alexis is promoted to lieutenant and given charge of her own ship only to discover her crew to be a ragtag group of misfits with questionable sailing skills. Facing many challenges in her new role, Alexis leads her crew through exciting encounters, many with pirates and some with - Wait! Could it really be? Ghostly Flying Dutchmen?!
Entertaining and intriguing as always, the story is brought to life by Elizabeth Klett's stellar audio narration. While I enjoyed this book, I enjoyed it less than the other volumes. This is mainly because there seemed to be less of an emotional connection developed between the characters and I felt certain phrases were overused. Still, this volume is important in the overall story and ends with fabulous news - more volumes are coming!
Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"Don't worry if your new life has been tough.
Remember, it takes a while for a butterfly's wings to dry."
Every once in a while a book comes along that imprints itself in you and changes you forever. This is one of them.
A tender, tragic, relishing story of hope, isolation, adaptation, kindness, and love in a world where harsh political policies have triggered harsh choices and consequences for families and children. Though a fictional story about a young Chinese girl being raised in China as an American, it truthfully tells of ethical decisions faced by many in China since the One-Child policy was placed into effect in 1980. There are many questions about the characters that are answered with flawless timing as the story beautifully unfolds at a perfect tempo, keeping you intrigued, hopeful, and deeply moved. The Author's Note at the end of the book is powerful and added yet another layer of love and understanding to the story.
I borrowed this booked from our local library but it is one of the few that I will buy and place on my own shelf where I will see it, re-read it, and experience it again and again.
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Unpredictable & Unputdownable
Two periods in time, 100 years apart, uniquely linked by a delicate piece of fabric; a scarf, embellished with marigolds, weaving it's way through time and tying together the lives of all whose hands through which it passes. Lovely, delicate, fragile, strong, resilient. These words describe the scarf and the characters that have experienced harrowing, tragic events and work to move beyond the emotional outfall.
At times, I was bewildered by the actions of the characters, which to me seemed foolish and nonsensical. But in contemplation, the reality is that the emotional havoc wreaked on those who experience traumatic events often causes illogical thinking and actions. The story is realistic and lovely, and seamlessly accomplishes the highest objective for the reader - to truly empathize with the characters and experience their story along with them.
Meissner is a masterful storyteller, reminding us that large and small acts of kindness can spark powerful hope and strength in ways that is often unseen by the giver.
"Love is the only true constant in a fragile world."
Read it. You'll be all the better for it.
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Don't Pass This One By
This is a touching story of Vietnamese family that comes to America for refuge due to the fall of Saigon. Ten year old Ha tells her story in verse, which perfectly conveys the young voice of a child facing mature circumstances and events; her father is missing in action, her mother is doing her best to provide for and protect the family on her own, her country no longer exists, her new home in America is safety yet completely unfamiliar, her family must learn to accept assistance and the generosity of many and overlook cruelties inflicted by others, and Ha must learn to compromise, be grateful, and discover that love and family is the ultimate definition of home.
Ha is an adorable, spunky character that bristles at being told she cannot do something simply because she is a girl. She is smart, yet struggles with feeling stupid due to language and cultural barriers. Her moments in the sunshine are delightful. Best of all, is after having fallen in love with Ha, I discovered she was actually the talented author of this book and these were her experiences.
A wonderful, wonderful story for all ages that you won't want to miss.
Last year we read The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen's 2016 Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It is also set at the time of the fall of Saigon yet gives an adult perspective to the story. It was interesting to compare the differences between the characters and their experiences in these two books. See more about The Sympathizer.
Hungry for more? Check out The Book and Beyond, The Books We've Read, or See all my Goodreads reviews.