‘The Book of Lost Friends’ Book Review

Our story starts out in Louisiana in the year of 1875. Lavinia is the daughter of a plantation owner, her half, illegitimate sister is Juneau Jane, and then lastly there is Hannie who is the former slave of Lavinia. The three have set out on a quest that sends them to the wild frontier of Texas. Lavinia’s father has gone missing and they have to find out who the plantation and other lands that the Gosset family owns, will pass down to.

In 1987, the same Louisiana town, Benny Silva has moved in as a first year teacher. From living all over the United States she has a hard time understanding how hard the lives are of her students in this poor southern town. She tries to connect them all with the history of the old planation right in their hometown.

I connected more with Hannie as a character than I did with Benny which is kind of funny as a I live in a time closer to Benny’s but it might be because I am closer in age with Hannie than I am Benny. I just felt like the 1875 chapters had so much more emotion to them. I really cared about what would happen to all of the characters. They all developed and changed throughout the novel. That’s not to say that our more modern counterparts were dull, they were absolutely well written as well.

America was at a really awkward stage at this point in history. Well, maybe the whole world was. Technology was rapidly being invented and changing as we had the industrial revolution take way in cities, the old world was becoming the modern world. In America, however, we were just getting out of a civil war. Tensions were still looming (and still are, if you ask me.) and it was not necessarily a safe place, especially for three female travelers like we see here. No one really writes in this time period, at least in American history, you will find a ton of books set in England during this time period but that is a different story. I really think this is an interesting time in our history and that it should be written about more, I applaud Lisa Wingate for doing so.

As I talked about the characters, the plot had a different impact on me. I preferred Benny’s plot to Hannie’s. I think it was just because the digging and the researching of Augustine, Louisiana’s history. As most of you know, I love to research the history of my local area and my family. The plot with Hannie however is powerful and one that I will not forget, it just made me so emotional, this whole book made me feel that way, especially at the very end. Just seeing the stories of different people and knowing that people in real life lived lives so similar to these characters, it breaks my heart. One of the main plots is that slavery separated so many families, mother’s from their young children, and just tearing these families apart. It is so hard to put into words how it feels to read that and to know that it is not fiction. This book really opens the eyes of the reader to the history of our country and that we cannot change the past but we can make the future better so we do not go back and make those same mistakes again.

I did not want to put this book down, I actually had my biggest reading day of the month, around 150 pages read. I was wanting to know so bad how the two plots would really connect. If you are a fan of ancestry, history, and even the game Red Dead Redemption, then you will enjoy this book. However, I think that everyone needs to pick up this book. It is so powerful and moving. It will definitely stick with the reader. I am so glad that I picked up this book on a whim at Target. I can only hope that you will pick up ‘The Book of Lost Friends’.

5 out of 5 stars.

‘Lilac Girls’ Book Review

Caroline works at the French consulate in New York City. Her job for years has been helping French people get adjusted to life in America. She had also helped by sending care packages to orphanages across France. The work gets heavier and harder when war breaks out in Europe in 1939.

Kasia is a teenager in Poland, the country that Hitler has set his eyes on. Her youth is taken from her as her country is taken over by Germans. She does everything she can to help her country overcome these attacks. She joins the underground resistance.

Herta is a female German doctor who is just trying to get by and help her family. She finds a job within the government. She comes into a world filled with horror and secrets.

All of these women’s lives come together through the concentration camp of Ravensbruck.

The characters in this story just took it to another level. I felt so many emotions towards them. I am not certain how much I just felt such a connection with all of them rather it be hatred or love. They were all so real and sometimes I was yelling at them and other times I was just so worried for them. This book was an emotional ride and I think that has to do so much with these characters. I did not know when I started this novel but two of these women were actual people in history. I am definitely going to be reading up on their Wikipedia pages tonight!

The atmosphere of this book was just pure haunting. It was dark and emotional. It really showcases how evil this world can be but also how strong we can be as humans. It is a setting that I will not forget.

My only complaint is that in some of the chapters, mainly Caroline’s, I felt that the pacing was sporadic. It was just big time jumps between paragraphs. I am assuming it’s because she was always at a different setting, for the majority of the novel, unlike the other two viewpoints. The chapters did flow together nicely though and that was noted between the first two chapters.

The plot of this novel was unlike any other war novel that I had read. I feel like most take place in France. I had very little knowledge about the happenings in Poland in WWII, only that Hitler invading is what set the wheel rolling. I learned so much from this book, it was so moving. Obviously, I knew that terrible things were done in these labor camps across Europe but this just opened my eyes so much more to the true horrors of it. If you are a fan of The Book Thief or The Nightingale then you will like Lilac Girls.

I was on the edge of my seat throughout this reading experience. I did not realize that until halfway through. The read just gets so immersed into this story. I was constantly wanting to read more to know what would happen to the characters.

Some of the best logic that I have seen in a book. The character’s actually had consequences from their actions. Every little detail meant something, I loved the foreshadowing. There were no loose ends.

I thoroughly enjoyed my three day dive into the World War II era. I had medium expectations for this book as it does have an average 4.27 star rating on Goodreads. Lilac Girls definitely does live up to those standards. I cannot wait to pick up the next book that is in this series and to do my own research on the women featured in this story.

5 out of 5 stars

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Canterbury Tales Review

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This is a retelling of the Canterbury Tales. This is not the original. Barbara Cohen took four of the original tales and made them easier for us to understand in modern times. This is done in prose and not poetry like the original.

The first tale that we are told is the one of ‘The Nun’s Priest’s Tale‘. It is a fable which uses animals to get its point across. The reader learns in this that if someone is too prideful they might not see their own faults or anyone’s around them. This could lead to their downfall.

Then we come to ‘The Pardoner’s Tale‘, this is a tale to teach the readers about greed and what corruption that it can lead to. However I found that it could also teach us you get what you deserve and treating others how you want to be treated.

Ah, now the tale that I remember the most from reading this in high school, ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’. In this tale we really see how women were as people and how they were treated in fourteenth century Europe. I do think this is a feminist story, we see how women want to be treated in a relationship and also that there is more to a woman than just her face and body. Something that I really wish men would understand.

The last tale that we come across in this short book is, ‘The Franklin’s Tale‘. This is a tale on relying on someone else, having faith in that person. It can also be seen as staying true to yourself. It is a story of honor, very much Stark and Tully manner.

When I purchased this book on Amazon, a year ago, I thought it was all the Canterbury Tales and the original version. Not a version that is made for young readers to understand and get a general idea of Chaucer. This is my fault! This is all a me problem and not the book problem.

I found that the way the prologues are done to be awkward. They mention tales that the reader will not read in this bind up, I found myself being confused by this. I know that I did not go into too much detail about what the tales are actually about but when they are around ten pages long I feel like there is not much that I can say without spoiling it.

Should I find a copy of the actual Canterbury Tales to read it? If so, do you have a certain one that you recommend? Again, everything here is a me problem so I felt like I should just give the book an average rating of a three star.

Pride and Prejudice Book Review

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The Bennet family is derived of five daughters, the home will pass to a male cousin as this is set in the late 1700s or early 1800s. The daughters need to be put into good marriages as they might not have somewhere to go once their father, Mr. Bennet, passes away. Jane is the eldest daughter and the most beautiful in the eyes of society, then there is Elizabeth or “Lizzy” Bennet she is very witty and intelligent, Mary who is tucked away in her studies, and then the  two younger and wilder daughters, Catherine “Kitty” and Lydia Bennet.

One day in the small, sleepy village of Meryton, a big to do happens when an old estate is purchased by a young bachelor from London. This obviously widens Mrs. Bennet’s eyes as she is trying to get her daughters into good and respectable marriages.

The man who moves into Netherfield Park is Mr. Bingley. He brings a big entourage from London with him, including his best friend and then his sisters. A ball is hosted to celebrate their arrival and Mr. Bingley dances with Jane not once but twice.  Mrs. Bennet is thrilled. Therefore the relationship between Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley begins. At the party there is Mr. Mystery or otherwise known as Mr. Darcy. He refuses to dance with any of the women from the Meryton area, even saying that he does not wish to dance with Miss. Elizabeth Bennet. All of the locals find him prideful and that he thinks himself to high mighty to converse with commoners. He gets a bad name in the village and surrounding areas.

The story is a slow burn romance starting at that ball and going through months of denying having feelings for each other over ranks in society, and in fact over pride and prejudice against Mr. Darcy and Miss. Bennet.

This is very much a character driven novel! I really enjoyed the character of Elizabeth Bennet. I felt as though she had more of a head on her shoulders than the other women in her family. As stated before she has wit and intellect to her, she does not see herself as one just to settle down and be any man’s wife, she refused two proposals in this book! I think she was very ahead of her time.

Mr. Darcy, a literary favorite of many. This man is loved by so many people, and I am certainly glad that he did not let me down. I think he was very similar to Elizabeth he had wit and was intelligent. He was not just the good looking man with money like his friend, Mr. Bingley. Darcy was a very complex character that we got to unravel throughout the novel. I think he is the reason for the “bad boy” trope that we see in many romance novels in modern day.

Characters got a five out of five for me. There were some characters like Mrs. Bennet and Lady Catherine that I did not like but I believe they were written that way.

The atmosphere did not impress me too much. It was average, just a small little English town that soldiers would sometimes get stationed in and people would come to live in, in the winter or summer. The writing could have saved this but I was not too impressed with Austen’s writing either, very average and dull. Both atmosphere and writing got a three out of five.

The plot was going smoothly for the first fifty percent, but when I picked it up for the last twenty chapters it just seemed to drag. I felt like Austen was throwing in some drama, with Lydia, that did not necessarily need to be there and I felt like it had no real impact on the story. Remember, this is a character driven novel and I felt as though that made up for when the plot was lacking at times. The plot got a three out of five.

Going into Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, I did not think I would like it. This classic is very hyped, and a favorite of many. If you follow me on Goodreads, you know that I have had a hard time with romances in the past and this is one of the most iconic romance books of all time. I was scared. I did however very much enjoy it. I love a nice slow burn love story and then the two love interests being a bit feisty is always good! I can totally see so many tropes that came to be inspired from this book. I think this is a very influential book and inspired many. I cannot wait to read more from Jane Austen.

Overall this was a 3.75 out of five star review.

 

 

 

February TBR

My February TBR is here, the first blog post of 2020! This month I plan on reading five books to bring me closer to my 2020 reading goal of 63 books! In February I will be participating in the Explore-A-Thon! I will leave a link to their twitter at the end of this post!

The first book I plan to read this month is a booktube favorite, the first book in the Illuminae Files trilogy, written by popular authors Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This book is written in a multimedia format and I’ve been told the audiobook format is the route to take as you follow along.

This story takes place in the unimaginable year of 2575, following two main characters, Kady and Ezra. They were once lovers but the relationship did not seem to work out for the pair. Their planet gets taken over by an enemy civilization, they both have to find their way to an evacuation craft. An enemy ship tails at them, willing to end it all at any second. That is a worry until a plague breaks out among the evacuees. Kady has to get to the bottom of how it all started, the artificial intelligence is supposed to be protecting them from such things. She has to try to break into the system but it is almost impossible to hack through all the codes and files of data. There is one person who can help her and that is no other than Ezra.

Beartown is a work of fiction that is translated from Swedish. It is also one of the longest time books on my TBR, it has been on my shelves for at least two years and I am so ready to get to it!

A small village nestled by a forest, that’s what Beartown is. Everything revolves around the ice rink that was built years ago by the town’s founders. Their local team is making its way into the national hockey playoffs. If the team of teenagers could win, that would wake up this sleepy town again. A violent incident comes upon a young girl, that could change everything for the town. Tempers are flying with fingers being pointed, all the hopes and dreams of Beartown could come crashing down.

I found out about this nonfiction book from Claire Ridgeway on YouTube! If you are fascinated by Tudor England, I highly recommend checking out her channel. She has written several books on English history as well.

Margaret of Austria played and important role in Middle Ages Europe. She was an influence to one of the most notorious consorts in English history. Margaret was well educated and spent her youth in various courts across Europe. She was regent of the Low Countries and cared greatly for the arts and humanities. Margaret showed what it was like to be a strong ruler.

February TBR Video

ExploreAThon

October 2019 Wrap Up

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In October, I finished four books. That adds up to 1,357 pages. I don’t give rankings to graphic novels or children’s books, so overall the ratings I gave these books made it be a very good book month!

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 4/5 stars
  • Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan 4/5 stars

I also took part in the Witch-a-thon on book tube. The challenges I completed and which books I used will be listed down below.

  1. Pick a book that features your heritage: The Book Thief as I am 30.9% German.

4.  Pick a book that involves a pantheon of deities: Wicked Saints as our main character can communicate with the gods.

October TBR

All the Books I Read in October

October TBR

This month, all these books except Wicked Saints were hand chosen by me because I hit my Goodreads reading goal of fifty books! Yay me! The book Thief was included in this TBR originally but since it is a carry over from 5e previous month there will not be a description in his post.

Wicked Saints is the first book in the Something Dark and Holy trilogy. It is a Slavic inspired fantasy novel that has a lot to do with blood magic. Three paths have to meet to take down the king and end a war that has been in the process for generations.

Princess Lia has a life laid out in front of her. One of the parts of life is an arranged marriage by her parents, one to form an alliance with a nearby kingdom. Lia runs away when it comes time to marry this unknown prince. She starts a new life in a small village but that gets flipped around when strangers approach her, one the prince she was supposed to marry, the other an assassin who has come to kill her.

Sadie had to raise her sister all on her own. Mattie, the sister, is found dead one day. Sadie is going to do anything to get revenge on the killer of her sister. The police investigation didn’t do well enough, she needs to bring justice to this all.

The other part of this book is told in a podcast format, the reason why I am doing this as an audiobook. That’s where our other character comes in. West is a radio host and hears about the story missing girl. He wants to find out what happened to her, West starts a podcast to help spread word of this case and document it.

(I didn’t include The Book Thief, since it was a carry over, or Prisoner of Azkaban since it’s the third in a series.)

August Wrap-Up 2019

August was my weakest reading month ever! I was so busy and exhausted but you’re not here to read my excuses. I ended up reading three books that adds up to 1,346 pages.

Texas, post civil war America, Ruby is growing up in this frontier of a state. She has recently become a woman, she starts to make decisions of her own and one of those being applying to art school in Philadelphia. To her surprise, she actually gets in and gets to leave Texas, her family, and her love, Bismarck. Not only does Ruby learn about the arts at college but she learns about herself and the world that is changing right in front of her eyes.

The first thirty-five percent of this book dragged on and on, plot points were happening but I just felt very bored and found myself thinking of other things than the words in front of me. The romances in this book has no real foundation, but the characters, the way they interacted and spoke made it seem like they did. I feel like they from meeting and then straight to the bedroom. The main thing that made up for that was Suanne Schafer’s writing style, I am shocked that this was her debut novel, the writing was beautiful and very detailed! The other thing that I liked about A Different Kind Of Fire was Ruby’s character arc, I think character arcs are so important! This ended up being a 3.75/5 stars for me.

Jane Eyre starts her life by having both parents fall a sickness and later death, before her first memory. She sent away to live with the only family that she knows, the Reeds. Her uncle dies while she is young and as she grows older her aunt hates her alongside her cousin. Jane has never known love her family doesn’t love her who else is there to do so? She falls ill,one night she tells the doctor all of her struggles he suggest her going to any other family she has,all Janes knows is that they are poor. Then it is brought to her attention that she can receive an education.

Education is a way out for Jane. She learns languages, arts, and even friendship. Jane stays at the boarding school for eight years, never seeing the Reeds. Once it comes time for her to leave she goes to an estate she’s never been to, to become a governess to a young girl from France. At Thornfield hall, Jane discovers love and that life does have meaning after all.

Brontë’s writing style was truly beautiful, That is something that I love about classics, you can tell that the writer is really knew what they were doing and putting their heart into it instead of just trying to make a quick buck. The writing was very atmospheric and I could easily make out the scenes in my head, that is something that I’m always happy about. I did like the romance in Jane Eyre I think the pairing did love each other even through all the twist and turns throughout life. My two complaints are I didn’t really care for the plot and the writing was really dragged out this book could have been 300 pages shorter.

Jane Eyre Book Review

August TBR 2019

August Wrap-Up 2019

Jane Eyre Book Review

Jane Eyre starts her life by having both parents fall to sickness and later death before her first memory. She is sent away to live with the only family that she knows, the Reeds. Her uncle dies while she is young and as she grows older her aunt and cousin hate her. Jane has never known love, her family doesn’t love her, who else is there to do so? She falls ill one night, she tells the doctor all of her struggles. He suggests her going to any other family she has, all Jane knows is that they are poor. Then it is brought to her attention that she can receive an education.

Education is the way out for Jane. She learns languages, arts, and even friendship. Jane stays at her boarding school for eight years, never seeing the Reeds. Once it comes time for her to leave she goes to an estate she’s never been to, to become a governess to a young girl from France. At Thornfield Hall, Jane discovers love and that life does have meaning after all.

“I am not an angel, I will not be one till I die: I will be myself.”– Jane Eyre

For starters, I did the audiobook for Jane Eyre and then followed along in my physical copy of the book. This book took me twice the amount of days than I had originally hoped for. I don’t think the novel is something difficult to read but it was so long and dragged on and on. I also found bits and pieces unrealistic, I’m not going to say which ones as they are spoilers.

Brontë’s writing style was truly beautiful, that is something I love about classics, you can tell that the writers really knew what they were doing and putting their heart into it instead of just trying to make a quick buck. The writing was very atmospheric and I could easily make out the scenes in my head, that is something that I’m always happy about. I did like the romance in Jane Eyre, I think the pairing did love each other even through all the twists and turns throughout life.

Overall, I feel strange writing a review for a book that has been with us since the mid-1800s. I know people love this book but it just didn’t do it for me. If a book is hundreds of pages longer than it needs to be I find myself getting bored and not wanting to read. The plot didn’t really seem important to me, it wasn’t something extravagant that caught my eye. Yes, I did not expect some of the plot twists and those were fun but it just wasn’t my favorite book, or classic, for that matter, that I’ve read.

June Wrap-up 2019

 

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In the month of June, I finished six books, three being novels and the other three being graphic novels. I participated in one read-a-thon, that being Sims-a-thon, all my books were for challenges in that, which I finished with a total of twenty-nine points. In June, I read a total of 1,261 pages. (I don’t give ratings to graphic novels, so these ratings will be for the actual novels.)

IT by Stephen King – 3/5 stars, e-book and audiobook.

IT by Stephen King Review

Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott – 3/5 stars, physical book.

Da Vinci’s Tiger Book Review
A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood – 3/5 stars, physical book.

A Sky Painted Gold Book Review

A pretty average reading month.

June Reading Wrap-Up Video