Books of the Month – March 2017

Books of the Month – March 2017

Books of the Month - March 2017

Books of the Month - March 2017 - Novel Gobblers Book Club

Wow! March is over already? Did it zip by for you, too? One of the best parts about March was that I finished three books and enjoyed them all. It's my goal this year to work my way through The Henry Family series by Henry Wouk. They are big books so I'm taking my time and trying to absorb as much as I can - it's so interesting! I finished volume one and have now started volume two. I also read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, which was our book club selection and boy, did it ever generate a great discussion. Have you read any of these books? Which books did you enjoy this month?

Some of the books I read are featured in our The Book & Beyond section.  That's where you'll find interesting things about and even beyond the book. I'd love to feature every book I read in The Book & Beyond section but somehow life has happened and I've fallen very behind. 🙂  I promise I'm working to catch up! Even so, you'll want to check out what's there when you're done here - tons of fascinating stuff!

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The Winds of War (The Henry Family, #1)The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An Impactful Must-Read. This is How History Should be Told

If you're looking for an impactful, compelling, unputdownable, entertaining family drama packed with historical facts leading up to and into WWII, this is the book! I learned more about WWII from this book than from any other. Most history books tend to be a snooze for me, regardless of how badly I want to learn the information. But not this one. Herman Wouk is masterful storyteller. His telling of history works because he humanizes it. You experience it through his characters.

Members of the fictional Henry family are completely believable characters; some lovable, some admirable, some total morons, and all with flaws we can relate to. As the members of this military family are spread across the world, we learn about the struggles of those affected by the war be it due to location, heritage, or personal convictions. We learn about the political players and strategic political plays. We learn historical details from different characters with different perspectives. I especially enjoyed that some chapters were devoted to Victor Henry's translation of "World Empire Lost", a history book written by a fictional German general, Armin von Roon, and to which Victor Henry offers his own insights.

My review hardly does justice to this book. But believe me, you don't want to pass this one by. This is how history should be told.

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A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"They say the best men are born of their faults and that they often improve later on, more than if they'd never done anything wrong."

What a delightful read! I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The characters were colorful and true. I enjoyed Backman's writing style; direct, engaging, and beautifully conveys the personalities, trials, and hearts of the characters. A truly heart-warming story of loving people beyond their faults - or maybe even because of them, whether you intend to or not.

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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Every dumb thing I ever done before in my life there was a decision I made before that got me into it."

Despite the pretty title, this is a tough story. John Grady Cole has lost his grandfather and the ranch will be sold. It's all John has ever known. He's a cowboy and that's all he ever wants to be. So he and his cousin, both about 17 years old, leave Texas and ride their horses across the border into Mexico. It's 1949. In Texas they tie their horses up outside cafes and gas stations. The moment they cross into Mexico, they step back in time. Desert. Cactus. No motor vehicles, few settlements. The people they meet lead them to hard life and hard choices; some of them life threatening.

I am so glad I read this book. There were many things I loved about it but many things I didn't. What did I love? The contradictory nature. The depth of the story and characters yet the direct, no frills conversations with little show of emotion. The action yet the slow pace. The beauty yet the harshness. I loved that once they passed into Mexico, the descriptions of the land and many of the discussions between the characters we given in Spanish. There was a very distinct feel that you were no longer in Texas nor in 1949! I liked the boys and was impressed with their maturity at such a young age.

What didn't I love? The lack of quotations caused a lot of confusion for me about who was speaking. At times the story would jump forward to a new scene, leaving me confused about how we got there. McCarthy offers beautiful language but the story is not a lullaby like the title implies. It's not a happy story and I was I left with a strong hope that John Grady Cole will somehow find his place and his happiness.

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Hungry for more? Check out  The Book and Beyond,  The Books We've Read, or See all my reviews on Goodreads .

 

Happy Reading!

Novel Gobblers Book Club Icon

Books of the Month – February 2017

Books of the Month – February 2017

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!

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HMS Nightingale (Alexis Carew, #4)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!

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Red ButterflyRed 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.

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A Fall of MarigoldsA 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.

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Inside Out & Back AgainInside 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.

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Hungry for more? Check out  The Book and Beyond,  The Books We've Read, or See all my Goodreads reviews.

 

Happy Reading!