5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, H, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 438

Read: May 25-June 2, 2018

Rating: 5/5

Source: Purchased New

 

Blurb: Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam War a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: He will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown.

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: They are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska – a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.


Review: This is not a book that I normally would have picked up on my own. In fact when it came out I actually passed it up on Book of the Month. I had never read anything by Kristin Hannah and I wasn’t sure about the Alaskan setting, so I figured it was better to be safe than sorry and I chose something else. So when I saw that it was going to be June’s selection on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s book club, I was a little nervous about it. I couldn’t access it from my library in time to read it for the discussion, so I purchased a new copy. I was all in by that point 🙂

And holy moly was I immediately sucked in by this! I mean from like the first page I was in love with the story. I immediately took to Leni’s character. She’s a wonderful voice in this story. The things that she has to see and live with can be heartbreaking at times. And let’s be honest – it would not be easy at all to be stuck in the Alaskan wilderness with no electricity and no running water in your house. I cannot even begin to imagine that! So it was no surprise just how strong Leni ended up becoming by the middle of the book – she had no real choice, if she wanted to survive.

This book deals with some pretty heavy hitting things. Domestic violence is at the heart of it. It was very difficult reading at times. I’ve been extremely lucky in that I have never been directly or indirectly impacted by domestic violence, but I know that’s not necessarily the norm. I felt like Ms. Hannah handled the situation in a very respectful manner. It was stomach churning at times, but it was also riveting.

At the end there were multiple times that I actually cried. Like legit cried my eyes out. It was that powerful to me. It made me feel things about a book like I haven’t felt in a very long time. I am not usually that attached to a book like I was with this one. And ugh, the book hangover – it’s real!

I just cannot say enough good things about this book! Like I said this book is way outside my comfort zone. And I devoured every single page. It was a great book with wonderful characters and an amazing setting. Just a wonderfully powerful book that really made me think.

HIGHLY recommended!

[Honestly, joining the MMD Book Club has been the absolute best thing I have done for my reading. June marks my 3rd month as a member and the three selections so far have been amazing in their own way for differing reasons. I have expanded my reading in ways that are way out of my comfort zone. It’s been wonderful and I am always looking forward to the next book!]

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3/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

What I Saw and How I Lied
by Judy Blunder

What I Saw and How I Lied

Copyright: 2008

Pages: 281

Read: May 3-8, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Library

 

 

Blurb: When Evie’s father returned home from World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just war stories. Movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company, shows up, and Evie finds herself falling for him … until a tragedy occurs that shatters her family breaks her life in two.

As she begins to realize that almost everything she believed was really a lie, Evie must get to the heart of the deceptions and choose between loyalty to her parents and feelings for the man she loves. Someone will have to be betrayed. The question is … who?


Review: This is the May book selection for the MMD Book Club. I was excited to see it available at my library and immediately fell in love with that cover! I was really looking forward to it. Young Adult isn’t necessarily a genre I’m overly familiar with, and I had never heard of this book, but I was really looking forward to digging into it!

And … it fell a little flat for me. It was very readable but I had trouble reconciling the fact that this was a National Book Award winner. I think I expected a little bit more out of this book just because it had won that award. But my feelings overall are kind of …. scattered?

As I already stated, it was extremely readable. But I couldn’t exactly figure out what the author was wanting to do with the book. Young adult, historical fiction, romance … yes! All of the above. But then near the end Ms. Blundell added in a murder mystery and that’s the part that didn’t really fit the whole book. It also didn’t help that we had at least 3/4 of the book with all this build up and then BOOM here comes the mystery part and she wraps it up in a very short 1/4 of the book. It just felt almost as if she needed something to “happen” and that’s the direction she took? I don’t know. I just felt like that entire part of the book didn’t really fit in with the vibe of the rest of the book. At least that’s my opinion on it…

Maybe it’s just because being a 30+ year old woman, I’m not really the targeted audience for this book. Maybe it’s because coming-of-age stories are not my forte. I don’t know. It wasn’t bad. Not at all! It was a fun and easy read. Ms. Blundell made me feel like I was right in the 1940s with Evie and her parents. I really loved the post-war setting. My “problem” was really with the murder part of the book. It just didn’t work for me in this book.

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2018, S

Review: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire
by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 274

Read: March 31 – April 6, 2018

Rating: 5/5

Source: Library

 

 

Blurb: Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When Parvaiz surfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then handsome, charismatic Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined.

Internationally acclaimed for her riveting and ambitiously imagined novels, here Kamila Shamsie explores how secrets and family loyalty can both bind lives together and threaten to spin them out of control. Searing and suspenseful, Home Fire asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?


Review: This is not the type of book I normally read. Not even close. But when I saw on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s site that it was her book club’s April selection I dug deeper into the book. I previewed the first page on Goodreads and knew immediately that I had to join the book club for this discussion and immediately get a copy of that book. (You can find that intro here if you’re curious to know what was so compelling to make me fork over money to join a virtual book club and head straight to the library.)

I had seen on the MMD website that this is actually a modern retelling of Antigone. I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what Antigone was even about. It was all I could do to not Google it before I finished the book! I’m ultimately glad that I avoided doing so since I think it would have definitely affected the way I viewed this book.

This book has so many different themes that are explored, but family and country relationships are definitely at the core. It brings forth a lot of feelings and made me really wonder what I would do in those situations. Let’s be frank: I’m an upper-middle class white woman who has no idea what the real world is really like to more underprivileged people. This book made me think more about what it would be like to be a woman trying to do everything in her power to avoid bringing attention to herself lest people think she was a terrorist. It made me think about what it would be like to be so driven in life that I would essentially deny my entire familial background. It made me think about what it would be like to be so driven in my grief that I would willingly manipulate seemingly innocent people in order to get what I ultimately wanted. It made me think about what it would be like to want to know who your father was so badly that you would (inadvertently?) join a terrorist group in order to get the answers you so desperately wanted.

Yeah, it’s that kind of book.

This book really made me think. And I’m not used to books like that. I’m used to murder mysteries where I just have to figure out who the killer is. This book opened my mind to a lot more things than I ever imagined. And it’s stuck with me. I finished this book nearly 2 weeks ago and am just now sitting down to write this review because I’ve been in a book hangover trying to wrap my mind around it.

I still do not think I can adequately put into words my feelings on this book. All I can say is that I was enamored by it. I was enthralled by it. I was engrossed in it. It’ll be in my mind for quite some time.

And I would recommend everyone to read it.