I wanted to close out last year by breaking (a little bit) outside of my norm. I read a few books by authors I’d previously given up on and I even tried another thriller (which sucked, but we’ll get to that). Overall, it was a good reading month even though I didn’t read nearly as much as I’d anticipated.
The highlight, surprisingly to me, was The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
I put The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah off for so long because I previously bailed on other Kristin Hannah books. She typically writes contemporary fiction and I’m not a contemporary fiction fan. I find that a lot of it feels forced and unrealistic so I avoid it. The Nightingale is a WWII fiction novel (and some of you may know that’s I love war fiction) so I thought it was worth reading. It far exceeded my expectations although I was a bit let down by the last 15 – 20 pages.
I loved the focus on the women’s war during WWII. I enjoyed the dynamic between the two sisters as well as between the girls and their father. I loved all of the characters and this became a book I truly looked forward to picking up and reading. It’s also a book I’ll definitely re-read again. I’ll probably continue to avoid Hannah’s contemporary fiction but if she writes another historical fiction novel I’ll be buying it. See it here.
The Second World War by Antony Beevor
After reading The Nightingale I was in a WWII frame of mind and, being that I love history, I dove headfirst into The Second World War by Antony Beevor. This was a great historical book. It had all of the dates, political intrigue, details, and historical connections that I love. At times it reads like a textbook but I’m so in love with post-1900’s history that this was an excellent educational read. I loved it. See it here.
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson
I’ve tried to read Joshilyn Jackson novels before and I’ve never made it through an entire book of hers. It’s nothing against her because I know she has an enormous fan base but the books have never “hit” with me before. I quit reading Gods in Alabama, A Grown-up Kind of Pretty, and Backseat Saints by the halfway point. I just couldn’t get in to the stories or the characters. Maybe it’s because I don’t agree with her portrayal of southern culture, I’m not sure. Having lived all across the southern US I find that my reality conflicts (dramatically, at times) with her portrayal of the people in these areas.
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is the first book by Joshilyn Jackson I’ve finished, so I suppose that says a lot, but I still didn’t find it stellar. I didn’t jive with the whole ‘haunted by spirits’ thing and I found the characterization of everyone to be so cliche (the socially awkward nerd, the free-spirit sister, the disconnected teenage daughter, the white trash distant relative). I finished the book. It was fine. I can’t say that I really recommend it but it’s not terrible. It has its audience, just like Ms. Jackson does, but it’s not a book for me. See it here.
The Inn at the Ocean’s Edge by Colleen Coble
Omg…this book was a gigantic DNF. I barely made it through the first two chapters before I simply gave up. Life is too short to read bad books and this one was just a rough read.
Have you read The Nightingale yet? What’d you think of it? What books are you recommending these days?