Review: Tear Me Apart by J.T. Ellison

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

One moment will change their lives forever…

Competitive skier Mindy Wright is a superstar in the making until a spectacular downhill crash threatens not just her racing career but her life. During surgery, doctors discover she’s suffering from a severe form of leukemia, and a stem cell transplant is her only hope. But when her parents are tested, a frightening truth emerges. Mindy is not their daughter.

Who knows the answers?

The race to save Mindy’s life means unraveling years of lies. Was she accidentally switched at birth or is there something more sinister at play? The search for the truth will tear a family apart…and someone is going to deadly extremes to protect the family’s deepest secrets.

With vivid movement through time, Tear Me Apart examines the impact layer after layer of lies and betrayal has on two families, the secrets they guard, and the desperate fight to hide the darkness within.

My Thoughts:

I love that J.T. Ellison writes layered novels. The plot is never as simple as it might appear, and Tear Me Apart is no exception. The race to save Mindy’s life is difficult on its own but the question of the identity of her biological parents is made even more demanding. Almost everyone in this story lies at least once, making it tricky for the reader to know whom to trust. While I did guess part of the conclusion, I certainly did not have everything figured out. As someone who reads a lot of mysteries and thrillers, I consider a book a success if I don’t see everything coming at the end. I flew through this story in just a couple days, determined to reach the ending. Tear Me Apart is a wild ride.

The characters in Tear Me Apart are well rounded. I had no difficulties picturing each character and empathizing with them. And I’m glad that Ellison allowed these characters to feel all kinds of emotions. There is a considerable amount of shock as lies are finally revealed, but everyone still wants what’s best for Mindy and has to balance their feelings. I especially liked reading about Mindy, who is inspiring, mature, and also still a kid trying to cope with maybe never skiing again, learning she has leukemia, and that her parents aren’t her biological parents.

Ellison knows how to write strong thrillers. Much like Gillian Flynn (read my review of Sharp Objects here!), she plays with stereotypes of how women can act and what women can do. Tear Me Apart features several different women who are likeable, troubling, kindhearted, and dangerous. Ellison also knows how to keep a thriller moving. With short chapters and flashbacks, Ellison keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, making this novel a quick read.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I’ve read a few of Ellison’s other novels, and always enjoy her work. As a fun surprise, much of this story is set in Colorado, and I loved recognizing locations and descriptions! I would definitely recommend this book, especially for fans of Karin Slaughter.

This book is…

fast paced

a page turner

surprising

unputdownable

well written

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: thriller

Page Count: 368

ISBN: 0778330001

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read Tear Me Apart? What other J.T. Ellison novels would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Somewhere in South America at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening, until a band of terrorists breaks in, taking the entire party hostage.

But what begins as a life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.

Ann Patchett has written a novel that is as lyrical and profound as it is unforgettable. Bel Canto is a virtuoso performance by one of our best and most important writers.

My Thoughts:

It’s difficult to describe the plot of Bel Canto. Ann Patchett certainly knows how to write a layered story! Yes, Bel Canto is about a terrorist plot. But by the end of the novel, this is a story about love, friendship, and joy. This shift occurs slowly over the course of the story and happens for the reader just as it does for the characters. In this way, Patchett allows the reader to imagine what the reader might feel if they were either one of the hostages or terrorists in this book.

I adored almost every character in Bel Canto. My favorite, of course, was Gen the translator. I don’t see how anyone could read this book and not adore Gen! Patchett’s choice to include so many languages in her plot and a first-rate translator presented many entertaining and beautiful challenges. And of course, I fell madly in love with Roxanne and Mr. Hosokawa. Despite their language barrier, these two are warm, considerate, and beautiful people. I enjoyed reading how their relationship changed over the course of the story.

Bel Canto has many layers, and stories evolve as Patchett focuses on different characters at various times throughout the novel. Each sentence is so perfectly worded. It’s clear that Patchett poured a great deal of thought into every single word choice. I also love the title of this novel. Bel Canto, of course, refers to Roxanne’s singing, but I think it applies to every character, as well, not just ones who can sing. Bel Canto seems to apply to everyone with a voice, or a dream, or a wish. It’s something about pure intentions.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I loved this book! Bel Canto is my first book by Patchett and I’m greatly looking forward to reading more of her backlist. I devoured this book but also never wanted it to end! I recognize that I’m a little late to the game with this one but I’m so pleased I finally read it and I encourage everyone to pick it up. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

This book is…

lyrical

exquisitely crafted

memorable

heartbreaking

surprising

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Genre: fiction

Page Count: 318

ISBN: 0061565318

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read Bel Canto? What other Ann Patchett novels would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart… without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling… and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

My Thoughts:

I’m a huge fan of stories with governesses winning over their wayward charges. Case in point, who doesn’t love The Sound of Music?! And so when I read the summary for The Governess Game, I knew this book would be my cup of tea. The Cinderella vibes made for a breath of fresh air to the romance genre, as did the inclusion of two younger supporting characters. I loved that Alexandra’s career and hobby played such a central role in this story, which really rounded out her character.

I cannot think of a better word than charming to describe the characters in this book, but the word doesn’t do them justice. These characters are lovely, heartwarming, memorable, and delightful. Alexandra is a wonderful heroine. I enjoyed her wit, choice of hobbies, and kind hearted nature. Chase is purely wonderful. I found him to be particularly funny! I especially adored Chase’s young wards. I was constantly laughing at their antics and wanting to reach through the pages and give them a hug.

The story starts off strong-and in a bookshop, no less! Despite being almost 400 pages, The Governess Game moves quickly. Dare certainly has no issues with pacing and is an expert at adding romance, intrigue, and humor at just the right moments. From the very beginning, Tessa Dare tells us that Alexandra and Chase are good people, and then Dare demonstrates that through their words and actions. Dare’s strong writing is what really makes this book shine.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I loved this book! Tessa Dare is one of my favorite romance writers and her newest book does not disappoint. Dare works within conventional romance tropes to update the genre and push boundaries. I highly recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for a lighter and quick read.

This book is…

charming

laugh out loud funny

sexy

endearing

a quick read

Publisher: Avon

Genre: romance

Page Count: 373

ISBN: 0062672126

Available here from IndieBound.

Will you read The Governess Game? What other romance novels would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Recovering from amnesia, Dr. Arthur Calgary discovers that he alone could have provided an alibi in a scandalous murder trial. It ended in the conviction of Jacko Argyle. The victim was Jacko’s own mother, and to make matters worse, he died in prison. But the young man’s innocence means that someone else killed the Argyle matriarch, and would certainly kill again to remain in the shadows. Shaded in the moral ambiguity of murder, the provocative psychological puzzler of guilt, vengeance, and blood secrets is among Agatha Christie’s personal favorites.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the premise of this mystery novel. Not only are we dealing with a dead body, but the murder was solved years ago. Dr. Calgary’s mysterious appearance immediately appears suspicious, but readers will quickly discover that Calgary’s surprising entrance is the least suspicious thing in this story. I was unable to guess the real culprit, which always marks a mystery novel as a win in my book!

The characters in this story are flawed. Rather than be grateful that family member Jacko did not kill his mother, the family immediately suspect and turn on one another. Everyone’s true colors are immediately displayed and, to be frank, no one is particularly kind. Agatha Christie plays with the notion of degrees of innocence, and whether thinking of a crime is the same as committing a crime. Additionally, there is the question of suspecting someone you love of murder, and whether that initial suspicion can ever be overcome.

The singular flaw I would like to point out here is that this book is sometimes a product of its time. One of the family members, Tina, is continuously described as ‘half-caste’ and ‘dark’ like a sexy cat. Tina’s exact race is unspecified, but these descriptions would not be allowed past an editor today. While these descriptions were not horrifically offensive, they are a bit off putting, especially when used again and again in an under 300 page book. I’m a big fan of Agatha Christie novels, especially her ‘locked room’ mysteries. Ordeal by Innocence is a sort of variation of the locked room mystery, in that you know the murder victim was killed by a member of her own family, but it’s unclear as to who could have done it. Per usual, Christie paces out clues, developments, and red herrings with her own personal flair. This book is absolutely a page turner. I finished it in just one day!

Wrap Up:

Overall, I loved this book! It’s short and moves quickly, which is great for a mystery. Christie is obviously a mystery master, and this book is no exception. I’m eager to watch the new tv adaptation, too! I highly recommend this book, especially for fans of Christie’s And Then There Were None.

This book is…

clever

surprising

quick moving

full of interesting characters

well paced

Publisher: Harper

Genre: mystery

Page Count: 269

ISBN: 0062073524

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read Ordeal by Innocence? What other Agatha Christie novels would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: A Scot in the Dark by Sarah MacLean

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Lonesome Lily Turned Scandalous Siren

Miss Lillian Hargrove has lived much of her life alone in a gilded cage, longing for love and companionship. When an artist offers her pretty promises and begs her to pose for a scandalous portrait, Lily doesn’t hesitate…until the lying libertine leaves her in disgrace. With the painting now public, Lily has no choice but to turn to the one man who might save her from ruin.

Highland Devil turned Halfhearted Duke

The Duke of Warnick loathes all things English, none more so than the aristocracy. It does not matter that the imposing Scotsman has inherited one of the most venerable dukedoms in Britain—he wants nothing to do with it, especially when he discovers that the unwanted title comes with a troublesome ward, one who is far too old and far too beautiful to be his problem.

Tartan Comes to Town

Warnick arrives in London with a single goal: get the chit married and see her become someone else’s problem, then return to a normal, quiet life in Scotland. It’s the perfect plan, until Lily declares she’ll only marry for love…and the Scot finds that there is one thing in England he likes far too much…

My Thoughts:

I thought the plot of A Scot in the Dark to be a refreshing change of pace. Instead of a typical virgin falls for friend turned lover plot, our heroine is decidedly not innocent. She makes a series of dumb choices in the name of love and now must live with the consequences. It was fun to read about Lillian and Warnick working together to save her reputation and her lack of ignorance made for some fun romps in the bedroom…and in a carriage.

Sarah MacLean always gives her female characters plenty of agency, and Lillian Hargrove is no exception. I appreciated the repetitive refrain that Lily chose to sit for the scandalous portrait. It was a conscious decision that she made, albeit a foolish one. Much of Lily’s journey is focused on owning up to her mistake and developing the courage to stand on her own two feet. And Warnick is certainly a different romantic lead than usual. His being from Scotland reinforced how little he fit in with the English aristocracy, which led to several hilarious encounters, usually him bursting out of his clothes!

Curiously, this book was a little slow in the beginning. It felt like a bit too much talk and not enough action. But the story moves along about halfway through, particularly with the addition of more characters. Other reviewers pointed out that the solution to this book’s central problem is obvious: steal the infamous painting back to protect Lily. But that never even occurred to me until it occurs to the characters in this story! Plot developments might seem obvious to some but are not so to others. This is a fun and witty novel that charms from beginning to end.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Yes, romance novels can be a bit predictable, but that’s another reason to enjoy them. I like knowing what’s coming! This is the second book in a series and I look forward to reading the next one. Sarah MacLean books are always entertaining and I highly recommend her as an author.

This book is…

witty

charming

predictable

sexy

funny

Publisher: Avon

Genre: romance

Page Count: 342

ISBN: 0062465848

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read A Scot in the Dark? What other romance novels would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . .

My Thoughts:

First and foremost, whatever you think will happen next in this book, won’t. Any guesses or theories you might develop as you read will inevitably be wrong. Despite being almost 500 pages, Karin Slaughter’s writing kept me on the edge of my seat and hardly wanting to set this book down. Although the premise initially felt over the top, Slaughter took the story in an unexpected direction that somehow grounded the story. It’s always difficult to discuss a mystery novel without giving away the ending, but through the use of well placed flashbacks, the story ultimately comes together nicely.

At the beginning I struggled to like Andrea. At 31, her actions and attitude felt unrealistic. Maybe I’m biased because I don’t know any 31 year olds who are utterly floundering, but Andrea seemed too helpless to be real. Ironically, she really matured quickly and steps up to the plate once certain events unfold. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I liked her by the end, even though I think you’re supposed to, but she was significantly less annoying by the book’s conclusion. Laura was by far my favorite character, though. At the beginning, she is the kind of mother that everyone wants to be or have, and only becomes more fascinating as her story unfolds. Slaughter grounds Laura’s character in familiar tropes, which keeps her story from becoming a soap opera. The relationship between mother and daughter felt real, which is great as theirs is the central dynamic in this story.

I was really impressed with the pacing of this book. This story got inside my head and I never wanted to put the book down. There are some pop culture references that do date this writing and pulled me out of the story each time. At almost 500 pages, I do think some parts could have been cut, especially in the middle and at the end. But Slaughter obviously knows how to write a thriller, and I’m sure her other books are equally as good.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Pieces of Her is the first Karin Slaughter book I’ve read but I think I’ll start to work my way through her backlist soon. This book makes a great summer, vacation, or weekend read due to the fast pace. I would definitely recommend this book.

This book is…

shocking

suspenseful

well written

engaging

full of twists and turns

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: thriller

Page Count: 480

ISBN: 0062430270

Available here from IndieBound.

Will you read Pieces of Her? What other Karin Slaughter novels would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: Our Homesick Songs by Emma Hooper

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

The Connor family is one of the few that is still left in their idyllic fishing village, Big Running; after the fish mysteriously disappeared, most families had no choice but to relocate and find work elsewhere. Aidan and Martha Connor now spend alternate months of the year working at an energy site up north to support their children, Cora and Finn. But soon the family fears they’ll have to leave Big Running for good. And as the months go on, plagued by romantic temptations new and old, the emotional distance between the once blissful Aidan and Martha only widens.

Between his accordion lessons and reading up on Big Running’s local flora and fauna, eleven-year-old Finn Connor develops an obsession with solving the mystery of the missing fish. Aided by his reclusive music instructor Mrs. Callaghan, Finn thinks he may have discovered a way to find the fish, and in turn, save the only home he’s ever known. While Finn schemes, his sister Cora spends her days decorating the abandoned houses in Big Running with global flair—the baker’s home becomes Italy; the mailman’s, Britain. But it’s clear she’s desperate for a bigger life beyond the shores of her small town. As the streets of Big Running continue to empty Cora takes matters—and her family’s shared destinies—into her own hands.

In Our Homesick Songs, Emma Hooper paints a gorgeous portrait of the Connor family, brilliantly weaving together four different stories and two generations of Connors, full of wonder and hope. Told in Hooper’s signature ethereal style, each page of this incandescent novel glows with mythical, musical wonder.

My Thoughts:

At its heart, Our Homesick Songs has a simple plot: the fish have fled the village and now families must relocate. But this book is actually about much more. Because the family must find alternate sources of employment, Aidan and Martha’s marriage is put to the test. But we also learn how they met and fell in love, which is just as creative, memorable, and endearing as one could hope. Because they live in a remote village, Cora yearns for travel and adventure, seeking it out anywhere she can make it. Because the fish are gone, Finn finds his own ways to preserve hope and lure the fish to return. It is through the straightforward plot that Hooper can focus on the characters and the threads that weave them together.

In many ways, the Connor family’s story is told through Finn. He asks to hear stories from his all-knowing accordion teacher, and thus we learn about his parents’ childhoods. Through these stories, we learn that Martha adores her family and Aidan feels the weight of providing. When Aidan and Martha talk on the phone, Finn picks up and eavesdrops. It is clear that Aidan and Martha adore one another, as well as their children, making their current employment situation unbearable. Cora crafts marvelous displays and allows Finn to see the completed project. I loved Cora and found her to be clever, tenacious, and determined. But most of all, I loved Finn. He is incredibly hopeful and goes about his plans with a childlike determination and certainty. He takes care of his family however he can and in his own creative ways.

I was struck by the lyrical writing of this book. The opening line, “There was a mermaid, said Finn,” really sets the tone. Hooper uses folk songs and folklore to connect each of the Connor’s stories in both the past and the present. Beautiful imagery of the sea, ships, and mermaids cast a ‘tale as old as time’ light on this story, signifying that this has all happened before and will all happen again. Mrs. Callaghan’s stories also add to this, for she is presented as a beloved recluse who has seen all this before.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down and finished it within 24 hours. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially to anyone who enjoys quiet stories about family life.

This book is…

quiet

beautifully written

engaging

lyrical

memorable

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Genre: fiction

Page Count: 336

ISBN: 150112448X

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read Our Homesick Songs? What quiet family life novel would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Chaos is coming, old son.

With those words the peace of Three Pines is shattered. As families prepare to head back to the city and children say goodbye to summer, a stranger is found murdered in the village bistro and antiques store. Once again, Chief Inspector Gamache and his team are called in to strip back layers of lies, exposing both treasures and rancid secrets buried in the wilderness.

No one admits to knowing the murdered man, but as secrets are revealed, chaos begins to close in on the beloved bistro owner, Olivier. How did he make such a spectacular success of his business? What past did he leave behind and why has he buried himself in this tiny village? And why does every lead in the investigation find its way back to him?

As Olivier grows more frantic, a trail of clues and treasures— from first editions of Charlotte’s Web and Jane Eyre to a spider web with the word “WOE” woven in it—lead the Chief Inspector deep into the woods and across the continent in search of the truth, and finally back to Three Pines as the little village braces for the truth and the final, brutal telling.

My Thoughts:

I love that every time I pick up a Louise Penny book, I feel like I’m returning to my favorite place. Penny eloquently captures the look and feel of such a small town, and highlights its charms and its drawbacks. Three Pines is very much its own character in this series which adds to the warmth and heart of these books. Frankly, every returning character feels like running into an old friend.

The Brutal Telling stands out from the previous stories in that the prime suspect is one we’ve all grown to love! Olivier is a wonderful character, and I especially enjoy reading his interactions with his partner, Gabri, and the descriptions of the wonderful food he makes. I was shocked that Olivier fell under suspicion and that the plot ultimately unfolds the way it does. I trust that Penny has a larger plan for the following novels and that everything will ultimately work out.

I also appreciated that Penny featured Indigenous persons in this book. While I admit to not knowing much about Canadian history, I do know that Canada treated Indigenous tribes and persons horrifically. And the characters in The Brutal Telling do not shy away from these facts. Reading this book has inspired me to learn more about Indigenous communities and how both Canada and the US got so much wrong. I’m specifically looking to read from the Indigenous perspective and from #OwnVoices authors. If you have any recommendations, leave a comment below!

Wrap Up:

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! The Brutal Telling has some shocking plot developments that really shake up Three Pines. It’s no surprise here that I’m a big fan of Louise Penny. If you’re looking for a great mystery series, I’d highly recommend this one. While you can read this mystery series in any order, I do suggest you begin with the first novel, Still Life . You can also read my reviews of the first three Penny novels here.

This book is…

cozy

shocking

beautifully written

full of new and beloved characters

educational

Publisher: Minotaur

Genre: mystery

Page Count: 386

ISBN: 1250161665

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read The Brutal Telling? What cozy mystery novel would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Mini Reviews: Now My Heart Is Full by Laura June and The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Now My Heart Is Full by Laura June

My Rating: ? / 5 stars (This book was a DNF for me.)

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Laura June’s daughter, Zelda, was only a few moments old when she held her for the first time, looked into her eyes, and thought, I wish my mother were here. It wasn’t a thought she was used to having. Laura was in second grade when she realized her mother was an alcoholic. As the years went by, she spiraled deeper, becoming borderline abusive, and by the time of her death a few years before Zelda’s birth, the two had drifted apart entirely.

In Now My Heart Is Full, Laura June explores how raising her daughter forced her to come to terms with her own mother’s tragic legacy and recognize the connective tissue that binds together the three generations of women. She also confronts the complicated place that women’s drinking often occupies and interrogates the culture of drinking that surrounds our ideas of motherhood, reflecting on her own decision not to drink.

In beautiful and irreverent prose, she describes how coming to grips with the fact that Zelda would never know her grandmother, while trying to be the best mother she could be, forced her to reevaluate her own mother, who tried her best to raise her children while struggling with addiction. By confronting the day-to-day frustrations of new motherhood she exposes how, even a generation later, we still do not have the language to fully discuss the change that a woman undergoes when she becomes a parent. And only by experiencing the pain and joy of it herself is she able to make peace with her mother’s memory at last and find that, to her surprise, the two have more in common than she ever knew.

My Thoughts:

As mentioned above, I did not finish this book. I read around 50 pages before calling it quits. There was just something about the writing style that wasn’t grabbing me, leaving me disinterested. I even tried setting the book down for two days before trying again. This is the sort of memoir that I would normally really enjoy, which is the reason I’m sharing these few thoughts here. I didn’t read enough of the book to give a full review, but I was very underwhelmed by what I did read. I would not recommend this book.

Publisher: Penguin Books

Genre: memoir

Page Count: 272

ISBN: 0143130919

Available here from IndieBound.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

My Rating: 3 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Set in modern-day India, it is the story of two compelling and achingly real women: Sera Dubash, an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife whose opulent surroundings hide the shame and disappointment of her abusive marriage, and Bhima, a stoic illiterate hardened by a life of despair and loss, who has worked in the Dubash household for more than twenty years.

My Thoughts:

Overall, I liked this book. The story is very well written and the language is often so beautiful, I would stop to reread lines. That being said, this book does not receive a higher rating from me for two reasons. One, being that this book is incredibly sad, and two, being that this story is nonstop heartbreak. Personally, I don’t mind when a book is sad, but I need some moments of levity to break things up. I need at least a few moments of hope to entice me to keep reading. Unfortunately, this book does not deliver. I would not recommend this book unless someone were very specifically looking for a sad story about two families in India.

Publisher: Harper Perennial

Genre: fiction

Page Count: 321

ISBN: 006079156X

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read The Space Between Us? What novel set in India would you recommend? Any interest in Now My Heart Is Full?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

My Rating: 5 / 5 stars

Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

January 1946: Writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

My Thoughts:

This is a book for anyone who loves words, reading, and books. I loved that the entire story is told through letters. Epistolary novels are not done very often, and are even less often successful, but this one hits the nail on the head. This style choice allowed readers to hear lots of different viewpoints, and the authors were always very clear as to whom was writing to whom. I also think the use of letters feeds into the love of stories so prominently featured here. Everyone in the literary society loves stories and books and this is made abundantly clear through their excellent letter writing abilities. And while I would never dream of spoiling the plot, the Society’s origin story is a great one!

I’m always a fan of stories set in England during and after WWII, and this book is no exception. I enjoyed hearing about how Guernsey survived the German occupation and its townspeople speak of resisting in their own quiet ways. A few characters do make difficult choices and face serious consequences, all while knowing they did what they thought was right. This book does not shy away from these choices and their consequences, but also asks the reader to ponder what they might do in this situation.

Every character in this story is well crafted. Guernsey, which is a character in this book in addition to a setting, and the people who are inhabit it are cozy, lovely, and unique. Each character imparts their own quirks through the letters they write and the heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking, stories they share of their past. I adored that we were even given a couple of villains to shake things up from time to time.

Wrap Up:

Overall, I loved this book! I’ve had my eye on this book for a long time now, but finally gave it a go because it’s been made into a movie on Netflix. I really loved this book. I think it’s a great choice for anyone who loves reading and great heartwarming stories. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an enjoyable and easy read, especially for fans of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

This book is…

charming

sweet

funny

emotional

well written

Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback

Genre: historical fiction

Page Count: 290

ISBN: 0385341008

Available here from IndieBound.

Have you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? What WWII novel would you recommend?

I am an affiliate with IndieBound and as such, receive a tiny commission should you choose to click through any of the above links and purchase the book(s). Thank you for supporting A Word is Power!