This month I read/listened to 4 books. I loved one of them, hated one of them and I am having such conflicted feelings about two of them.
Code Name Helene – Ariel Lawhon (A)
Let’s start with the one I loved. This book is easily one of my favorite audiobooks of the year. The storyline, the characters and the narrator were all fantastic. I went in blind not knowing anything about it except that it was about a female spy in France during WWII. And then at the end to find out this historical fiction was based on a true, real-life woman named Nancy Wake – my mind was blown and I immediately had to research more about her. If you like books such as The Nightingale, The Rose Code or really any historical fiction book with a strong female lead. I highly encourage you to read or listen to this one. I loved it! 5/5 stars
Once There Were Wolves – Charlotee McConaghy (A)
I don’t know that I have ever read another book like this one. I’ll start by saying that it has a lot of layers carefully woven together. The writing is beautiful and makes you feel all the feelings. At its heart, this book is a mystery. But then it has layered in themes of living with nature (versus against it), the Scottish Highlands, domestic abuse, moving through past traumas, sisterhood and the dynamics of twins and, of course, wolves. I found the whole thing quite fascinating. The audio version was lovely and I really enjoyed the Scottish accents. This is a highly atmospheric book (my favorite kind of book) that had me wanting to research more about certain topics. However, I did not love the ending. Something about it doesn’t sit right… like it was too perfectly crafted and then rushed. With that said, overall I enjoyed it and think it will stay with me for a while.
I do want to warn sensitive readers that there are some disturbing scenes centering around domestic and animal violence. 3.5/5 stars
The Lincoln Highway – Amor Towles (A)
After loving The Rules of Civility (one of my favorite books of all time) by this same author, I thought this book would be a slam dunk. But alas it was not. A little background - I adore Amor Towles’ writing style. He is truly an artist when it comes to perfectly curating words to create a sentence with such an intense meaning that you have to sit and think on it for a while. I think of him as the author that says the perfectly timed sentence that you wish you said in the moment. And then when you combine those beautiful sentences with amazing character development, it is art. Clearly, I am in awe of him and his work.
The Lincoln Highway delivers both of those things – strong, likeable but flawed characters + the most beautiful writing. But I was confused through much of the book with the ping-ponging between characters’ points of views, past vs present and even the storyline pivots so hard from its initial plot that, as a reader, I felt a bit of whiplash. I kept waiting for the dust to settle so that I could know what was going on in the story and thereby get invested in it. That did not happen until the last quarter of the book. And then at the end, when I was now completely hooked, I was left feeling unsatisfied. What happened to my favorite characters?! Did they find what they were ultimately looking for at the beginning of the book? Talk about a cliff-hanger.
But then when I think about the book holistically, there are parts that brought me so much joy and characters that I will never forget. Sigh… you can see my confliction.
Will I read Amor Towles again? – Absolutely!
Would I recommend this book to others? – Only if you love Amor Towles.
Blood & Honey – Shelby Mahurin (B + A)
I did not like this book at all. I feel bad saying that because I know how much authors pour themselves into their work and then bravely put their book (their baby) out in the world for others to enjoy. So I don’t want to bash it; but I want to give you enough information so that you can decide for yourself.
I read this first book, Serpent and Dove, and enjoyed it. It was not amazing; but it was cute and good listen while I was shipping out orders. But after this one, I don’t think I will read the 3rd book in this series. I feel like Blood & Honey was a bridge book where nothing really happened and it is just setting the reader up to read the 3rd book in the series. It was longer than it needed to be. The characters, who I liked in the first book, really started to annoy me. They were whiny and selfish and forced. It’s like all the character development that happened in the first book turned into character regression in the second book. And for those that like audiobooks, the female narrator was fine, but male narrator was not good. I was glad when this book was over. It just felt off. 1/5 stars
B – Physical Book
A - Audiobook
As always, you can see a consolidated list of all my book reviews HERE.
Now it’s your turn – what book have you recently read that you can’t stop thinking about? I don't know about you, but I need some solid book recommendations to get me through the next few months. Something that will pull me in immediately and keep me going through to the very last page. So tell me in the comments what you are reading, what you are loving, and what book recs you have for me.
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