Happy last day of May! This month I read 3 historical fiction books, a detective story and one book that I don’t really know how to categorize except to say that I LOVED it. So a total of 5 books. 2 of them I loved. And 2 of them I HATED. One was so bad that I abandoned it at 40%.
Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Garmus (A)
Let’s start with the one I loved. This book might easily one of my favorite audiobooks of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The storyline and characters are unique, intelligent, and deal with some pretty tough subjects. Yet this book is told in a witty and delightful way that it in no way feels heavy. The narrator absolutely nails it and really brings these quirky characters life. This was a great book to kickoff my summer reading and I am recommending it to everyone I know! 5/5 stars
The Diamond Eye – Kate Quinn (A)
Another fabulous historical fiction book by Kate Quinn. She is so good. And while I don’t rate this one quite as high as Rose Code or The Huntress, I did very much enjoy it. This book centers around the real person of Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who was a mother & university student turned sniper soldier for the Russian Army in Ukraine. Kate Quinn sure does know how to write a strong female character that you find yourself rooting for! I learned so much about Russian army during WWII, as well as the technical skills and patience required of a sniper. While I found myself most swept up in the story during the gripping wars scenes, the Russian delegation trip to the United States and a sparking friendship between Mila and Eleanor Roosevelt was entertaining for sure. And reading this book during the current Russia/Ukraine conflict, it was jarring how much the quest for power perseveres even if the players themselves change through the decades. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone that loves well-researched historical fiction. 4/5 stars
Mr. Mercedes – Stephen King (A)
I’m not a huge Stephen King fan, but 11/22/63 is one of my top 10 favorite audiobooks I have ever listened to. So I wanted to try another of his non-gory reads to see how I liked it. Mr. Mercedes is a detective story that center around an overweight, down in the dumps ex-cop named Bill Hodges who is haunted by an unsolved case of his where a driver plowed through a crowd and killing eight people. So when Bill gets a crazy letter claiming credit for the murders, he decides to use his retirement to solve the case and prevent any further attacks. Whenever I read Stephen King, I am always impressed by how he writes his characters’ introspection. While the story did lag at times, the ending does deliver and you get swept up in the momentum of it all.
Beautiful Little Fools – Jillian Cantor (A)
The premise of this book is interesting and bold – it is the characters and storyline of the Great Gatsby. But instead of being narrated by Nick, it is told from the female perspectives of Daisy, Jordan and Catherine. I give the author much respect for choosing to recraft such a well-loved classic. It takes a lot of gumption and the different perspectives are clever for sure. But I was not pulled in. While I have never liked Daisy’s character at all, I felt like all of the characters fell flat and were boring and unlikeable. And the author’s portrayal of Gatsby himself, Fitzgerald just might be rolling in his grave. I am clearly bias as I love the original Great Gatsby; but overall, I found this book to be “meh”. 2/5 stars
The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post – Allison Pataki (A + B)
This book was such a miss for me. While the premise was interesting (a fiction story about the real person of Marjorie Post – heiress of the Post Cereal family that eventually turned into General Mills), I found the main character to be boring, unrelatable and with a pretentious, holier-than-thou attitude where she never seems to learn from her mistakes and blames everyone else for her problems. The writing style and what aspects of this woman’s life the author chose to focus on were frustrating to me. For a real woman so accomplished surely there has to be more to her life than her 4 marriages. I would love to have read more about what drove her success to be a business pioneer with a successful running of a company during a time when women were rarely in leadership positions. But this author focused much more on her sexual liaisons. I tried reading the actual book as well as listen to the audiobook. Both were duds and I could not get into them at all and abandoned about 40% in. 1/5 stars
B – Physical Book
A - Audiobook
As always, you can see a consolidated list of all my book reviews HERE.
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