Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What I read in October

Life According to Steph
Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks!!! Not only have I been listening to them like a dervish, I've been preaching the audiobook word. Mostly how great they are and how convenient they are and how I can multi-task AND read. Cooking dinner and listening to my book? Check. Watering the flowers and listening to my book? Check. So many things.

This month was full of pretty heavy books. WW2 and Afghanistan. I think I need a sappy book or more Outlander for the upcoming month. Whew.

Rating scale*:

1/5 - Hated it, didn't finish.
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish, didn't like it.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it. Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
3.5/5 - I liked parts of it.
4/5 - I liked the whole thing.
4.5/5 - I liked it a lot, but not sure I'd read it again.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

*Subject to change based on my mood, the phase of the moon, or other unpredictable variables.

Skimmers, stick with the bold text (TL;DR* parts).
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 4/5 (audiobook)
Having 2 Audible credits a month make me feel like a lush. I wavered on this book between liking it and not for quite a while. Mostly, I was disappointed at the lack of Scottish accent and the weirdness of the northern US accent and don't get me started on the Polish accent... #audiobookproblems Maybe I was expecting something different than what I got since this was the #2 book, which is my own fault. This book stands alone, only making references to book 1, with nothing lost if you didn't read it.

This is the story of Rose, an American, who was a prisoner at Ravensbrook concentration camp for women during WW2. The horrors of the concentration camp kept me up at night. Unfathomable things that were actually done to people and this story tells about those things. Human experimentation, starvation, horrendous living conditions, abuse, and other horrible things that happened at concentration camps.

There was never really a point in the book where I became a fan of Rose's poetry. I was hoping that it would eventually grow on me, but it never did. At least it tied into the story in a way before the end.

I was glad to see that the story had a positive ending, especially after having been kept up all night because of the concentration camp nightmares.

I listened to this book from Audible and the narrator highly annoyed me. Her voices for the Polish women was shrill and like an ice pick to my brain. Her Pennsylvania accent also felt forced.

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty 3/5 (audiobook)
Throughout the entire book, I struggled with the 3rd person narrative. It felt like I was listening to a screenplay. That aside, the story was very enjoyable. It didn't seem like it took forever to get to the twist, which sometimes happens. I didn't go out of my way to guess what the secret was, so I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I appreciate that Moriarty takes the time to wrap up all the story lines.

Essentially the book is about a family who live on an island and something happened and a baby was found and the family adopted the baby. 70 years later, the mystery has been solved, but has been made public.

If you can tolerate the 3rd person narrative and the fact that it felt like it took forever to get to the twist, this isn't a bad book to pass the time.

The One Man by Andrew Gross 4.5/5 (audiobook)
This book had me screaming in the car by the end. I was yelling at the characters, a literal audience to their lives. They were frustrating me, they were running out of time, WTF STOP TALKING AND DO THINGS!!! Ya know, apparently things that "thriller" readers are used to.

This book is the fictional tale of the rescue/escape of a Polish physicist from Auschwitz by a US intelligence operative. Despite knowing it was fiction, I know very little about the Manhattan Project, so it felt real at times. Then other times, I was like, there is no way this is ever going to work. As I got closer and closer to finishing the book, I still couldn't figure out if the mission was going to be successful.

I sat on the edge of my seat for almost the entire book, needing to know what was going to happen and if Blum would be successful. I really struggled with the cat thing, but if I was more upset by the cat than what was happening to humans in the concentration camps, what kind of person was I?

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi 4.5/5 (ebook)
Afghanistan books absolutely break my heart, but I'm not well versed on the history of Afghanistan, so I'm drawn to these books for several reasons. Mostly, I'm hoping for some historical knowledge while being entertained. Also, I'm hoping for some type of understanding regarding middle eastern culture and practices and how different it is from western cultures (Islam, being a big part of that). I was told that was someone who loved Khaled Hosseini's books, this book would be right up my alley.

I struggled with the treatment of women (of course) and felt like the author was overly-subtle about the domestic abuse that takes place throughout the book. Nonetheless, this book was a good look at Afghanistan culture and the treatment of women in modern times and as always, my heart goes out to the women who are unable to fight their repression.

On Deck:

*TL;DR = too long, don't read


  1. I have the Last Anniversary on hold, I really hope that the third person POV doesn't annoy me too much!

  2. I've read most of Moriarty's other books but haven't read The Last Anniversary yet - I'm sure I'll get to it someday!!! I'm looking forward to reading The Pearl that Broke its Shell sometime soon - already requested it at the library last week :)

  3. Did You Ever Have a Family was slow but beautiful. And SAD.

    I haven't gotten around to The Last Anniversary but I love Moriarty's books so it'll happen at some point.

  4. ugh, there is poetry in rose under fire? i loved code name verity but i am not sure if i want to read rose. either way i will skip the audio. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell sounds intense. i have read just one of Khaled Hosseini's books, and I'm not sure if I have it in me to read more of his or more like his. They are just so... much. you know? i liked the last anniversary, passed the time just fine like you said.

  5. I do think too - where I am more concerned about animals than people. :) The One Man sounds really intense and I've added it to my TBR.

    1. It's not as grotesque as it could have been since it's set in Auschwitz, but still it's got those WW2 vibes, so it's pretty heavy.

  6. The only one here that I've read is The Last Anniversary. I did enjoy it. Not my favorite Moriarity, but definitely not in the bottom two (The Hypnotist's Love Story and Three Wishes).

  7. I liked Last Anniversary. It wasn't my favorite by her but it was good and different. And you are right, I like that she ties everything up and doesn't leave you hanging.

  8. I really liked Rose Under Fire, though I bet the accents would have bothered me too if I had listened to it instead of read it!

  9. I found the cultural practice of "bacha posh" (is that correct?) fascinating. I couldn't wrap my head around it, but I couldn't stop wanting to know more about it. So, after reading The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, I remember falling down a google rabbit hole reading articles and stories.
    I definitely need to grab that Andrew Gross book. I've read others of his, and I forget why I stopped.

  10. I actually haven't read a lot of Moriarty books.


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