The Nightingale and Other Book Recommendations

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 Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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.

More Love:   Tasa's Song by Linda Kass (Book Review)

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? 

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  1. I feel the same way about Kristin Hannah…avoided Nightingale forever b/c hadn’t liked some of her previous books. I still didn’t love the Nightingale like everyone else, but did really like it…just didn’t quite live up to the dramatic hype.

    And – have you tried Joshilyn Jackson’s Someone Else’s Love Story? I liked that one…way more than Gods in Alabama.

    • I didn’t pay attention to any of the hype. I saw the cover a lot but I didn’t read any of the early reviews. I think that helped, because I went in to it without any expectations.

      I haven’t tried that Jackson book. I’ll look it up. 🙂

  2. The Nightingale sounds really good. You had me at “focus on the women’s war” — fiction set in wartime tends to interest me, especially when it looks at women’s roles.

    • Kella, I think you would enjoy it. It’s the tale of two sisters. One is a wife and mother who is fighting her own personal war at home as Nazi soldiers take up residence in her house and she is fighting to protect her family and neighbors. The other is a young impetuous girl who wants to join the French Resistance and do more than “just sit at home” like her sister. It’s a great perspective, although I didn’t love the way she wrapped it up it does make sense within the story. I’d be curious to know your thoughts.

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