One of my goals for 2016 is to watch less TV and read more. I pledged on Goodreads to read 12 books in 2016 and I am following Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge for added fun. It is only May and I have already surpassed my goal and read my 17th book. Yay! Part of that is because of my new love of Audible.
I always considered audio books as “cheating” and not really reading but now I love my audio books, especially the ones that will sync to my ebook. That allows me to read my book but when I have to stop to do laundry or wash dishes or pick up the kids at school, I can still listen and then later pick up with my reader again after the kids are in bed. I especially like that you can now loan audio books out to a friend. I haven’t tried that feature yet but I wonder if my sis is reading this. I’ll try it with her.
Anyway, here are some mini-reviews of books I’ve read on my 2016 reading list.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
When I was looking for a new book to read it seemed like everyone was recommending All the Light We Cannot See . In fact, this book counts as my “book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller” in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Reading Challenge.
The two main characters were Marie-Laure, a young, blind French girl living with her father, and Werner a young, orphan German boy who was gifted in science and mechanics so he was recruited to a Nazi school. The story followed them in the years before and during the war and we see how their lives, unbeknownst to them, intertwine.
The book was riveting and heartbreaking and at times I couldn’t put it down. My only complaint was that it was sometimes confusing. I found myself starting a new chapter and thinking, “Wait….what??” The book was not written in chronological order. It jumped from one scene and flashbacked to another point in time from a different person’s point of view. Towards the end of the book when the story was the most riveting, the chapters would end with a cliffhanger and jump to another scene. It was a little frustrating.
I also hoped for a sweet happy ending and while there may have been closure after all the years passed, it still left my heart a little broken. However, I am happy for the experience of being swept away to another time and sharing a little of life with Marie-Laure and Werner. I rate it four stars. (Parental note: The book contains adult situations and some language.)
Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
When I first the saw the movie trailer for Me Before You I knew it was going to be a movie I would love and I wanted to read the book first. After a few comments about the book on Goodreads, I realized the story dealt with euthanasia. With this in mind, I broke my cardinal rule of NO SPOILERS and found out if the main character died or not. With that knowledge, I read the book and here’s my thoughts.
The story is about Will a driven adventure seeker who is involved in an accident (not of his doing) and as a result becomes a paraplegic. Lou, a colorful and quirky character, is hired to be his companion. In the course of the book Will and Lou are challenged by one another and their friendship draws out different aspects of each another and they eventually fall in love. However, at the core of the story is whether or not Will decides to proceed with his previous plans to end his life.
(Spoiler Alert – Don’t read anymore if you don’t want to know how the story ends.)
The story is well written and every fiber of my being thought it could have been an amazing love story if Will’s love for Lou would have changed his heart and challenged him to reach for the seemingly impossible, as he was always driving Lou to do. Part of me was mad at him for being so selfish but another part of me knew that I could never understand the emotional and physical toll of living as a paraplegic. While my heart achingly goes out to a person wanting to end their life, my Catholic sensibilities knows that I couldn’t condone the deliberate ending of a life without just cause but it did made me wonder… if that was my Brian or my mom in Will’s predicament and although I’d be vehemently against them ending their life, would I stay by their side at the end, even if I disagreed? It definitely left me thinking.
Normally, I would have rated this four stars because it was well written but because I hated the ending and wished love would have motivated Will to let his life end naturally with Louisa by his side, I give it 3 1/2 stars instead. (Parental note: The book contains adult situations, the topic of euthanasia and language.)
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor and Park is a coming of age romance between two misfit teens in the 80’s. Eleanor is a plus sized red head living in an abusive family situation. Park is half-Korean living with a stable family. They hate each other at first but eventually become friends and fall in love. As a mom who grew up in the 80’s, it was nostalgic to relive the all-encompassing pangs of first love, favorite bands and mix tapes. It was sweet to see young love blossom but it was also heartbreaking (and maddening) to read about the abuses Eleanor received not only from bullies in her school but from her own dysfunctional family living in a terrorized state.
It was a touching story that I thoroughly enjoyed, particularly the way the book switched back and forth from Eleanor and Park’s point of view. However, I do have to say that this book is for very mature teens (or adults who like YA) who have already been exposed to some of the issues in the book. There is a lot of crude and strong language (mostly from secondary characters who attend school with Eleanor and Park) and numerous adult themes such as domestic abuse, living in poverty and characters being emotionally abused. I would rate this book 4 stars with the disclaimer that it is only for people who like this type of YA read and who won’t mind the language. (Parental warning: The book contains adult themes such as abuse, some sexual content – the main characters almost have sex – and strong and crude language.)
The Husband Maker / The Matchmaker / The Wife Maker by Karey White
After reading a number of books with heavier content, I needed something light and fun with a happy ending. I enjoyed reading Karey’s White novel My Own Mr. Darcy so I decided to give The Husband Maker a try. The story was about Charlotte who had the unfortunate nickname “the husband maker” because every guy she has dated since high school has landed out marrying the next girl they date after breaking up with her. She desperately wanted to break the cycle and she believed her time had finally come when she met Kyle, an attractive, well off man from a political family.
The book was an easy and fun read and I enjoyed the various characters but it does end in a cliff hanger. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait to read the second installment – The Matchmaker. This book was actually my favorite of the three. I enjoyed watching Charlotte grow and learn more about herself. The character Angus was a sweet guy and the love triangle was an added bonus.
The romantic saga is finally wrapped up in the final The Wife Maker. I wanted to love the final book more but the behavior of one of the main characters kept bugging me. However, there was a happy ending and all three books were a fun diversion from the stresses of life and as an added bonus (well, at least from my point of view) there was no language or sex. Karey White knows how to do a clean and appealing romance and I appreciate that. Comparing it to other romances, I rate this 4 out of 5 stars.
That’s it for now. What have you been reading?
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