Whilst not quite as productive as January on the book front, I still managed to knock out a respectable 5 books during the month, which I am happy with. It was such a mixed up month, that I wasn’t sure how much I would manage, so I am happy with five.
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The Beekeepers Promise, Fiona Valpy (book depository || Amazon) – 3 stars – I had this book as a holdover from my Kindle Unlimited subscription, that expired a day earlier than I expected (time differences do my head in), but I was far enough in that I wanted to see how it finished, so ended up buying it anyway! Yet another WWII book (I have many thoughts on why there are so many popping up, but that is a blog post for another time all of its own!), it painted a fascinating portrait of how the external pressures of Nazi oocupation could influence behaviours, emotions and choices. It is very easy with distance to say that we would resist or stand up or do something, but living it is a very different matter. I appreciated the inclusion of historical details also, though given the horrific nature of the times, I’m not sure I would consider “appreciate” the right word!
Where the Forest Meets The Stars, Glendy Vanderah (book depository || Amazon) – 4 stars – This was an addictive read! I think from memory I picked it up via Kindle First a while back? The story of a little girl who fell from the stars, this book makes you question what you accept as truth from a child, and at what point do you draw the line between playing along with their fantasies, and trying to crack out the truth. I found myself being drawn into the little girl’s story, even though you could see it playing out as a fantasy, she was so convinced of her own story you couldn’t help but ask “what if…”. A wonderufl story of found families, earned devotion, and healing after trauma.
The Woman In The Window, A.J. Finn (book depository || Amazon) – 4 stars – Another Kindle First (I think?), that was deliciously creepy and un-put-downable. I will preface that, following conversations with a friend, that I am generally not a suspense reader, so for me, it was gripping. A suspense-lover may see it differently. I spotted one plot twist reasonably early on, though the other snuck up on me and I spotted it only a couple of pages before the reveal. I enjoyed the thought experiment of what is our truth, can we trust ourselves or are we forever doomed to be our own biased and unreliable narrator. Does one act of self-delusion then taint all future actions with the same brush, or can we be false with one thing, and completely trustworthy in another? And of course, we have all been down the 2+2=5 rabbit-hole, drawing conslusions from incomplete data, making the protagonist rather relatable.
The Snow Gypsy, Lindsay Jayne Ashford (book depository || Amazon) – 4 stars – war? Again? This time the Spanish War found it’s way on to my Kindle, in a story of loss, race, self-identity and self-preservation. This story weaves it’s way through Europe as the protagonist chases after missing family who joined the insurgents. With the scars of war still fresh in the locals memories, she is confronted with communal “amnesia” of anything to do with the war, along with the ingrained racism towards the Romany community who she connects with and builds strong friendships with.
Saving Grace, Jane Green (book depository || Amazon) – 4 stars – I picked this one at our (now defunct) local indie bookshop before Christmas, as my mum’s Christmas present. Once she was done with it, she lent it to me. Oh man. I actually felt myself becoming physically uncomfortable as the story played out – I could feel the tension in my shoulders tightening with every new move by the story’s villian. With their newest employee seemingly too good to be true, Grace allows herself to ignore her tingling spidey-senses…and so begins a slippery slope of not trusting her own judgement until it becomes unbearable and she makes her break for freedom. I was so angry on Grace’s behalf, as you the reader could see what was going on, even though the other characters couldn’t. I wouldn’t call the ending satisfying, though parts of it were, and the unsatisfying parts were rather realistic – real life doesn’t present us with happy endings all tied up in string. While not necessarily a comfortable, pleasant read, it made me FEEL, and to me that is the mark of a good book!