Last month, I read a few less-than-stellar books, as well as a couple that I enthusiastically recommend. Here’s what I read in May — and what I thought about it all.
Marley & Me, John Grogan
This is my 13-year-old daughter’s FAVORITE book and she begged me to read it — so I did. Marley & Me is the entirely enjoyable true story of a man and his dog. Anyone who’s owned and loved a dog will appreciate this book and understand the sentiment behind it. Is it Pulitzer Prize-winning material? Nope. However, if you’re looking for a light, feel-good read about the life of one very active and hilarious dog (and you don’t mind shedding a few tears at the end), this is definitely the book for you.
Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty
Three couples attend a backyard barbecue that changes their lives forever. Why? You’ll spend the entire book figuring it all out.
This is my first Liane Moriarty experience, and it was… disappointing. Although the book wasn’t bad, exactly, and Moriarty definitely has a way with words that elevates the thoughts and lives of otherwise ordinary suburban couples, it seemed to take F-O-R-E-V-E-R for anything to happen. I will say this novel had some nice plot twists and a very satisfying ending. I’m willing to try one of her more popular books, but I do hope it’s better than this one!
The Nightingale was a gorgeous, emotional, epic novel. This tale of the horrors two young, beautiful sisters in France must endure during World War II will draw you in and keep you breathless and riveted until the very last page. I have read Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane and Fly Away and have to confess that I was not a big fan of either novel. I’m so glad I gave The Nightingale a chance. It is perfect for anyone looking for a book to get completely lost in. I will be thinking about it — and the real-life women and men it was based around– for a long time to come.
Harvest Home, Thomas Tryon
I had high hopes for this horror novel after reading a number of positive reader reviews. Unfortunately, I found it dull, repetitive, and predictable. At first, I thought the author’s descriptions of the setting– a quaint New England village– to be charming. After hundreds of pages of paragraphs devoted to describing the village and its people, though, I wanted to shout, “I GET IT. Cornwall Coombe is an old fashioned, secluded town where the residents are set in their ways and suspicious of outsiders. I. GET. IT. Move on!”
The same was true with the ‘revelations’ about the villagers. What happened to young Gracie Everdeen, for example, the young lady who mysteriously disappeared from the village several years earlier? By the end of the book, the question had been asked and the events of her life reviewed so many times that I no longer cared. What would take place during the village’s upcoming Harvest Home ritual, the climax to which the book is clearly meandering? Well, it was pretty clear what was going to happen, well before the book’s pivotal final scene, which made the melodramatic ‘reveal’ seem lame and terribly disappointing. While the book does have the nostalgic feel of an early 1970s horror movie, in the end, I was bummed that I wasted several days reading it.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, Gabrielle Kevin
What a delightful book! I’m embarrassed to admit that I cried a little when I finished it, because I didn’t want it to end!
This story of a bookseller whose life radically changes when a two-year-old is abandoned in his shop is filled with intensely likable characters and a few well-timed twists that only add to the tale. You will feel like you know the characters personally by the time you finish this book and their thoughts and emotions will likely align with many of your own and those of your family and friends. At its core, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry reminds us of the beauty that can come from tragedy and hardship, and the fact that in the end, all we are, and all that matters, is love.
What have you read lately?