It’s the first Thursday of March (how can that be true?), so it’s time for another review of the books I loved, liked and loathed. The good news is that February was a very good reading month for me with no book earning the dreaded “loathe” honor. This makes me very happy because bad books are painful. What made me less happy was that I forgot how much our “mood” dictates what we feel like reading. Or at least it does for me.
This month I craved lighter reads, which is normally not an issue because I would simply choose books that reflected my mood. However, I went a little overboard with all the great recommendations from the January Show Us Your Books link-up and reserved a bunch of books. Unfortunately, you are at their mercy, meaning books become available whether you have the time or inclination to read them. #FirstWorldBookProblems
The Books I Loved, Liked and Loathed this Month
Because I am a trooper, I did read every book. My mood may have influenced my reaction to one book, although minimally, I hope. Regardless, every book this month was an enjoyable read, so all-in-all, a good month for a book nerd. Let’s dig in!
Books I Loved
My favorite books from the past month and highly recommended.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Book Synopsis: The story is set during World War 2 in Nazi-occupied France and follows two very different sisters, Vivanne and Isabelle. Vivanne just wants to keep her daughter safe and go unnoticed, while Isabelle wants to help the rebellion and live dangerously. In the midst of war, they deal with betrayal, heart-break and loss as they try to survive Nazi occupation.
My Review: Stories that deal with Nazis and the Holocaust can be difficult books for me because I cannot fathom such hate, so I almost returned the book unread because I wanted something lighter. But thankfully I persevered because this is a great book. This story doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of war and neither sister is perfect, which I like, and their mistrust of one another, prickly parts and actions felt natural versus contrived. We witnessed firsthand how their decisions — good or bad, thoughtful or reckless, right or wrong — can affect so many lives.
To Read Or Not To Read: Read it. It’s not a beach read and weeks later I still think about it.
Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Book Synopsis: Everyone falls. Every. Single. Person. Falls. The trick is getting back up because not everyone does. Dr. Brown shows us how to rise strong through using our struggles to write a new ending (or is it really a beginning?) to our story.
My Review: I consider myself to be a work in progress and have a love/hate relationship with self-help books. The great ones can make a tremendous difference, the bad ones — those that do more damage than good — make me really angry. This is definitely one of the good ones, although it wasn’t an easy read for me. I read it in small bites because I had to stop so frequently and really think about what she said. She was dropping truth bombs all over me and some of them I didn’t really like. This book had a big impact on how I view myself and others. I will be writing a more detailed review and how I’m rising strong later this month.
To Read or Not To Read: Read it. Self-help books are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you struggle with feeling like you’re enough, your worthiness and being vulnerable (or simply dealing with your emotions in a constructive manner), this book may be very helpful. For a more in-depth review, go here.
Brotherhood in Death by JD Robb
Book Synopsis: This case is very personal to Lt. Eve Dallas as it involves a relative of her colleague and mother-surrogate, Dr. Charlotte Mira. Lt. Dallas had a very difficult childhood and throughout the long-running series (42 books and counting!) has slowly been able to move past it with the help of Dr. Mira. When Dr. Mira’s husband is attacked and his cousin is killed, Lt. Dallas must race against the clock before more vigilante justice is served to the Brotherhood.
My Review: What I have always loved about the In Death series, is that sometimes the dead guy is not a good guy himself. He may, in fact, be worse than his killer and lesser people might sit back and do nothing. Eve Dallas is not the kind of person or cop. The In Death books are essentially an excellent procedural, with more depth than you would expect. While sympathetic to the killer’s motive, I liked the fact that Dallas didn’t turn them into heroes either. She had compassion to their situation but also knew the truth: revenge sounds good but doesn’t lessen the pain.
To Read or Not to Read: Read it. But I do recommend starting at Book #1: Naked In Death. And just think, you’ll have 41 books to read before you get to enjoy this one. 🙂 And if that gave you a mild heart attack, you can read this as a stand-alone book. My first In Death book was #22. I loved it and started from the beginning.
Books I Liked
Books I enjoyed and do recommend overall.
The Martian by Andy Weir
This book didn’t initially appeal to me because:
A: I don’t like science.
B. It involved science.
C. I don’t like science. At all.
After pretty much every single person I know told me to read the book, I finally did.
Book Synopsis: Mark Watley is the kind of guy you want to have a beer with. He’s smart, snarky and apparently the MacGyver of Mars. Seriously, the guy can jerry-rig anything, which is a good thing, since his fellow crew mates left him behind on Mars, believing he was killed in a storm. Oops. Mark must figure out a way to survive until he can be rescued, and NASA must figure out a way to rescue him before he runs out of potatoes (read the book, then you’ll understand).
My Review: This is definitely an enjoyable read, thanks in large part to Mark Watley being an amazing character. He has to be since he carries the book on his shoulders, which was also the book’s weakness. He faced non-stop problems, as expected, but since it was just him, disco music and 70s shows, it eventually grew old and somewhat predictable. While there were other characters in the book (his crew mates and the people at NASA), we never connected with them beyond a superficial level. Mark was such a great character that I just wished the supporting characters were as developed and interesting as it was to learn about growing potatoes on Mars.
To Read or Not To Read: Read it. It’s a good book and I suspect an even better movie.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
This is the book that was most affected by my mood to read something light and familiar versus something new.
Book Synopsis: Shadow is just days away from his freedom when he learns that his wife has been killed. Now free but without his great love, he joins the mysterious Wednesday on a road trip. He soon learns that Wednesday is no ordinary old man, nor even a regular man. Instead, he is one of the great Gods trying to rally other old Gods against the upstart Gods, like the Internet.
My Review: I love, love, LOVE the premise of the book. Old Gods versus Upstart Gods sounds amazing. And yet, I was underwhelmed overall. I understood how the Old Gods faded and lost power (and some of the very best passages were their heartbreaking stories) but the Upstart Gods were a bit of a joke. Frankly, I never understood why they cared so much about the old Gods in the first place. Wednesday was an interesting character and I understood his motivation for wanting to go to war with the Upstart Gods, but for understandable reasons we didn’t get into his head much. Unfortunately, Shadow didn’t intrigue me as much.
To Read or Not To Read: Read it. There are some very interesting characters and some of the stories about the various Gods are better than the actual story.
FYI: Starz is creating a series based on this book and just announced Ian McShane as Wednesday, which is fabulous casting. I may have been so-so on the book but knowing Ian (and his awesome voice) will be playing Wednesday, makes me very interested in the series.
More Great Books to Come
I’m still paying the price (sort of) for requesting a bunch of books at once. Oddly enough, it’s lighter books that are filling my bookshelf right now, and I can’t wait to dive into them. I’ve linked up with Show Us Your Books hosted by Jana and Steph and seriously recommend every book lover stop by because there are a ton of great books for you to discover. But don’t be like me and request every book at once. They will undoubtedly all arrive at the same time. 🙂
Have you read any of these books? Agree or disagree with my reviews? What good (or bad) books did you read this month and recommend (or don’t)?