This is the third year that I’ve done [Year] Recent Reads – 2017, 2018, and now 2019 – and, despite how difficult it can be as I keep reading more every year, I really enjoy it. Basically, every 3 months, I recap what I read the previous 3 months. You can also follow my bookstagram (book Instagram) for more reading content.
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Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession (4/5): I’ve been a big Anne Boleyn history nerd for a very long time, so when I saw that historian Alison Weir had written a historical fiction novel about her, I bought it immediately. It covers from when she was sent to the court of the Netherlands until her death, and I really enjoyed it. There were a couple of artistic choices made in her depiction of Anne that I didn’t really enjoy, or else I would have given it 5 stars. I read this for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2019 book challenge in the category of “a book about a topic that fascinates you.”
Transcription (5/5): I loved this book, but a lot of people online felt that it was a bit slow. “In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever. Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence” (x). This is by the same writer who wrote Life After Life, which I read and reviewed last year.
Elements of Eloquence (4/5): This book about different forms of rhetoric and figurative language was much funnier than I expected it to be! “In his inimitably entertaining and wonderfully witty style, he takes apart famous phrases and shows how you too can write like Shakespeare or quip like Oscar Wilde. Whether you’re aiming to achieve literary immortality or just hoping to deliver the perfect one-liner, The Elements of Eloquence proves that you don’t need to have anything important to say—you simply need to say it well” (x). I read this for the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2019 book challenge for the topic “book you’ve been meaning to read.” I got this for Christmas in 2017 – I had been meaning to read it for over a year!
Equal of the Sun (5/5): This was recommended to me by a good friend who knows my taste very well – I l.o.v.e.d. it. It was so interesting to go outside my royal historical fiction comfort zone and go to a Middle Eastern princess in the 16th century who wielded an enormous amount of power considering she was relegated to the harem with the other royal women. “Iran in 1576 is a place of wealth and dazzling beauty. But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult. Princess Pari, the Shah’s daughter and protégée, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but her maneuvers to instill order after her father’s sudden death incite resentment and dissent. Pari and her closest adviser, Javaher, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, possess an incredible tapestry of secrets that explode in a power struggle of epic proportions (x).
Good Omens (5/5): I listened to this on Audible as it’s going to be a TV show on Amazon Prime soon! I first read it in high school and remembered basics but hadn’t remembered everything. It’s very good! It’s about the end of the world: “a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon — each of whom has lived among Earth’s mortals for many millennia and has grown rather fond of the lifestyle — are not particularly looking forward to the coming Rapture. If Crowley and Aziraphale are going to stop it from happening, they’ve got to find and kill the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he’s a really nice kid). There’s just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. . .” (x).
Lean In (4/5): I know that I’m behind the times, but I finally read Lean In. I never expected to work an office job – I thought I would be a teacher, but we all know how that ended – and I’ve felt a little off-kilter in terms of familiarity with office-job norms. This means that I’ve turned to books! I got Lean In for Christmas, and while I liked it, it felt a little over-hyped, especially because big chunks of her tips aren’t applicable to most office jobs. I think it’s worth reading, but it’s not a must-read.
The Alice Network (5/5): I bought this book for myself for Valentine’s Day after seeing it all over the online book-world. And I absolutely loved it! It’s about “two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption” (x). This was an amazing story and I sped through it.
Small Great Things (5/5): This book, you guys. I’ve read most of Jodi Picoult’s books, and I think this is the most heartbreaking, but also maybe the best? “Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene? Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong” (x). I loved this book, but I definitely had to take breaks when reading it. I read this for the Modern Mrs. Darcy book challenge, in the category “book in the backlist of a favorite author.”
The Winter Mantle (3/5): This book was a bit too long for the story. I really enjoy Elizabeth Chadwick’s historical fiction, which is why I got this on Audible. It goes back in time a little bit more than I normally do: “Fresh from the Battle of Hastings, William of Normandy has returned home in triumph, accompanied by the English nobles he cannot trust to be left behind. But Waltheof of Huntingdon is not thinking of rebellion; from the moment he sees Judith, daughter of the king’s formidable sister, he knows he has found his future wife. The attraction is mutual, but in mediaeval Europe marriage has little to do with love. When William refuses to let the couple wed, Waltheof joins an uprising against him. William brutally crushes the rebellion but realises that it would be unwise to ignore Waltheof and his demands” (x). The second half of the book focuses on Waltheof and Judith’s daughter – come on, that’s not a spoiler, she lived almost 1,000 years ago – and while it was interesting, I just felt that the book didn’t need to be as long as it is. I still enjoyed it a lot at the beginning, though, which is why I gave it a 3/5.
The Fiery Cross (5/5): You guys know by now how I feel about Outlander. I love the books and the show, and in advance of the fifth season of the show coming out hopefully by 2020 (a girl can dream!), I reread The Fiery Cross, which is the fifth Outlander book. I forgot just how good it is! I think the fourth book stands out to me as the best because a) it’s first true Claire and Jamie and Bree and Roger book in the series and b) Claire and Jamie finally get to have a house! A home! They do domestic things! Well, they still do domestic things in The Fiery Cross – the Ridge family is expanding – but the Revolutionary War is officially in the cooker now, so they do a fair bit of war things, too. And there’s a bit of a murder mystery! So, you know, it caters directly to my favorite things. Here’s the official synopsis:
“The year is 1771, and war is coming. Jamie Fraser’s wife tells him so. Little as he wishes to, he must believe it, for hers is a gift of dreadful prophecy—a time-traveler’s certain knowledge. Born in the year of Our Lord 1918, Claire Randall served England as a nurse on the battlefields of World War II, and in the aftermath of peace found fresh conflicts when she walked through a cleftstone on the Scottish Highlands and found herself an outlander, an English lady in a place where no lady should be, in a time—1743—when the only English in Scotland were the officers and men of King George’s army Now wife, mother, and surgeon, Claire is still an outlander, out of place, and out of time, but now, by choice, linked by love to her only anchor—Jamie Fraser. Her unique view of the future has brought him both danger and deliverance in the past; her knowledge of the oncoming revolution is a flickering torch that may light his way through the perilous years ahead—or ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes. . .” (x).
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