Friday, February 27, 2015

My Sunshine Away

My Sunshine Away
by M.O. Walsh

Genre:  Fiction
Published: 2/10/15 by Penguin
Pages:  320
Format:  Hardcover

My rating:
3 out of 5 stars

I have mixed feelings about this book.  There were parts that I liked, and parts that I really didn't like at all. 

My Sunshine Away is set in Baton Rouge, Louisiana about the rape of a 15 year old girl in the 80s.  The narrator of the story explains the events leading up to and following the crime.  Suspects are introduced, and before long, it is revealed that the narrator himself is a suspect.

I liked the way this story was structured.  Especially at the beginning.  It was obvious that the (unnamed) narrator wasn't quite telling the whole story, and with each new chapter, he introduced new information, which led to him looking more and more suspicious.   I felt like this was well written.  The question of "who did it" kept me reading as well as well as wanting to know what part the narrator would play in this story.

But the content was just a little too much for me.  I am not one to shy away from a dark story, and with the subject of a young girl's rape, I knew this would not be a pleasant tale.  But the descriptions of some of the characters' perverse and obsessive actions in this story were just more than I wanted to read.  It was not enjoyable to read and eventually it grew boring as well.  I found myself skimming through large sections just so that I could move on to find out what happened without having to read all of the details.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Nightingale

The Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: 2/3/15 by St. Martin's Press
Pages:  448
Format: Hardcover

My rating:
4 out of 5 stars

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a historical fiction novel set during World War II.  I've read a lot of World War II historical fiction, and I don't really think The Nightingale adds any new insight or perspective or depth to this time period.  I could probably list at least 7-8 WWII novels that I thought where more complex and well written than this one.  HOWEVER, I still really liked this book and gave it 4 stars.  It is highly readable and an interesting story that maintains a level of suspense throughout the whole novel.  I think it is one of the best Kristin Hannah novels I've read.  It's just not one of the best WWII books I've read.

The Nightingale is the story of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who live in France when the Germans invade and occupy their village. The story begins in 1939 and continues through the end of the war.  Both sisters make sacrifices and risk their lives as they try to stay alive and help others.  

I think it is interesting to read about what life was like for women during the war.  Women whose husbands were gone, possibly gone forever.  Women who were forced to provide for and take care of their children alone, in the most unfair of circumstances.  One of the most interesting parts of this story for me was the German soldiers who "billeted" with Vianne and the other women in their village in France.  Basically, these woman were forced to allow a German soldier to live in their home,while cooking for them, cleaning up after them, allowing them to use all their possessions and for some, even allowing them to use their bodies.  I cannot even imagine how horrible and terrifying that would be.  At the same time, one of the German soldiers who billeted with Vianne was not horrible.  He was actually kind and tried to help her.  I thought the complicated feelings between Vianne and this soldier were well developed, and added a different layer to the German occupation story.

While not superbly written and sometimes prone to cliches, The Nightingale is a quick read and an inspiring story about the courage of women in the midst of the many horrors of war.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Golden Son

Golden Son
by Pierce Brown

Genre: Science Fiction
Published: 1/6/15 by Random House
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover

My rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed, but did not love, the first book in this series, Red Rising. I think I rated it at 3.5 stars. I thought it had some interesting moments, but it also was a little slow and boring at times for me. I ended that book thinking that I would like to continue reading this story, but I really hoped that the story would improve as it continued.

And what an improvement in this second book, Golden Son! I thought it was significantly better than the first book. I think second books in trilogies often tend to be the weakest, but this one was just great. This series is set in the future in a civilization on Mars. Society is divided into color castes, and rising above one's caste is unacceptable and prohibited. Enter Darrow, a Red born (the lowest of all the colors), who infiltrates the highest color Golds and becomes one of their leaders. In Golden Son, Darrow takes his place in Gold leadership, leading his friends (and a few traitors) into battles against his most powerful rivals. This story is full of twists and turns, as loyalties are constantly shifting and allegiances are broken. Friends become enemies. Enemies become friends. It is hard to know who can be trusted. Pierce Brown has no fear in killing off his characters, which added to the level of suspense. I really could not predict much of what was going to happen or who was going to survive through it all. 

I have read a lot of comparisons between this book and Hunger Games, but really, Golden Son is in a league of its own when it comes to young adult dystopians. This one is much, much more science fiction and less romance than any of the other books in this genre that I have read. I don't read much science fiction, and wouldn't describe it as a favorite of mine. But this story was just so fun and entertaining. I loved following Darrow through this wild ride! 

And I have to mention the ending! Because it is one BIG ending! And one big cliffhanger. I feel like the whole game changed in book 2, so I will be eagerly waiting for book 3 to find out how Darrow's story will end.