Hello again, dear readers. I realized the other day that my collection of un-typed and un-posted mini-reviews has become rather large, so here we are, with part one of a new set of mini-reviews.
I have such mixed feeling about mini-reviews: on the one hand I am grateful for a way to share a few thoughts on a book without spending a hour or so putting an actual review together, but on the other hand they (almost) always feel woefully inadequate – just barely scratching the surface of the story.
Anyway…before jumping into these reviews, I wanted to share a couple of blog posts I just read: Cat. Runion’s post about Ukraine – on a heavy and important note – and Sarah Baran’s latest librarian adventures – on a light-hearted note.
And let’s jump in!
I didn’t have very high expectations going into this book, but seeing as White is one of my favorite authors, I expected to enjoy it somewhat – and I did, enjoy it in a way, and appreciate the valuable messages within its pages.
I liked the main characters, Phin and Delia – her imagination made me smile – but the (barely) secondary characters, Salina and Luther were simply far more compelling. Phin’s and Delia’s growth was well-written, but I felt that we weren’t really shown a “before” version of them, only a growing and “after” version.
I appreciated White’s focus on the fact that each human being is worthy of respect, simply because they are human, and the fact that through her characters, she reminds the reader to be aware of the fact that everyone has their own story.
As far as the portrayal of Confederate soldiers…I mostly appreciated how White portrayed them, but it felt rather incomplete. I also found myself frustrated by Mr. Owens and the lack of consequence that he faced for his actions.
Overall, this is a decent read, but not one that I would recommend to everyone.
This was a book that falls into the category of books I almost didn’t read – what ended up grabbing me was (a) the taking on a new identity piece (what can I say? I love the drama that this trope usually triggers) and (b) the munitions factory focus, an area of WWII that I have read practically nothing about.
The characters were pretty pleasant, decent people who cared about their country and families. I can’t say that they were memorable though.
The story was engaging – with some tense life-or-death moments – and it was in no way a boring read. Breslin’s writing is solid and clear, but I didn’t find it especially remarkable, and that’s the theme here I guess: As Dawn Breaks is a solid, but somewhat unremarkable read.
For some reason the Titanic has never grabbed my attention – sure I’ve read a couple of books about the tragedy, but generally I avoid them – therefore the fact that this book is titled “a novel of the titanic” lowered my expectations a bit.
Ever since I first discovered Jen Turano’s wonderful (and hilarious) gilded age books, I found the time period fascinating. [Well, actually upon further reflection, I have found the period fascinating since I first learned about in history. The incredible contrast between the wealthy and the poor struck me as incredibly unjust. The fact that New York high society was so ridiculously complicated and the lives of the wealthy were so opulent and interesting – while often being quite empty – has further inspired my interest in the time period. What can I say? Although I would never desire the lives of the New York 400, it is quite entertaining to learn about them.] As anyone who (a) knows anything about the so-called gilded age or (b) is currently watching HBO’s Gilded Age, knows that Mrs. Astor was the Queen of New York society.
The Astor family was the object of intense public fascination and attention, as this novel clearly shows its readers. The Second Mrs. Astor was an enjoyable read, engaging and well-written; I quickly grew to love the characters and story. Madeline was a likable character and her relationship with J.J. Astor was special and sweet. I admired the way that she handled the attention and scrutiny that was bestowed upon her.
This is a book that very well may find its way to my Best-Books-of-2022 list, so go check it out!
I wanted this book to be extraordinary. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t; but it did have some positive elements.
The setting – Shanghai during WWII – was completely new to me and therefore quite interesting. This setting combined with the focus on Jewish immigration to China during the war was my favorite thing about this book.
The characters were rather intriguing, and it is impossible to not feel sympathy for them and their struggles. That said I never really fell for any of them.
I loved the musical thread that ran through the story. Music can bring so much hope, joy and comfort during difficult times. I honestly wish that music had remained at the center of the book instead of disappearing in the second half.
Have you read any of these books?
What have you been reading lately? Anything of note?