Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The {July} Book Report

The {July} Book Report
After a slow start to the month reading-wise, I picked up steam and crossed off four books! Three out of the four were authors that I adore and one newcomer to the world of Christian Fiction. Let's see what I read, shall we?  Affiliate links used. A small commission may be received if you purchase an item through my links. Thank you for supporting my blog! 

Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling
Goodreads Synopsis:
When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock.

Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty fa├žade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

Thoughts:
I had a hard time getting through this book. I guess I was expecting something more magical (for lack of a better word) from J.K Rowling and this just fell short for me. 

Characters: 
I didn't care for a single character in this whole book. Everyone had such big personalities and just behaved so ugly that I was really turned off. This is in no way like her Harry Potter series and for that I am saddened. I will say Rowling is a very good storyteller, I just wouldn't ever recommend anyone reading this particular one. 

Stars:
3 out of 5

Buy the book here and the movie here

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Goodereads Synopsis:
Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout’s newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

Thoughts:
I adored Strout's Olive Kitteridge and was hoping for more of that nitty-gritty, daily life prose that she is so good at but which fell short for me on this one. I guess I was expecting more family drama and got more information about Somalia than I was prepared for.

Characters:
My favorite Burgess sibling was "slob-dog" Bob and I am so glad his storyline ended on a high note! Actually, the character development was great all around and I definitely have my strong opinions about how each Burgess sibling acted/reacted during times of crisis and distress.

Stars: 
3 out of 5

Buy the book here

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Goodreads Synopsis:
Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.
 

Thoughts:
I'm still sorting through my feelings on this one! It was a powerful read and I have to add that I had to mentally edit some of the language used and may have been left with a bad taste in my mouth by the Bauer's behaviors and beliefs. Picoult can spin a yarn like no other and this was just as emotionally tugging as you would expect from her. Courtroom drama aside (I could do without, personally) this is a story that will open your eyes.

Characters:
Ruth was my favorite character and it broke my heart that she was put into such a devastating situation and that situations like that happened more often than I know(!)

Stars: 
4 out of 5

Buy the book here

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson
Goodreads Synopsis:
In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she’ll face imprisonment.

Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection—and an unbreakable bond.

But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband’s death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?

Thoughts:
I must be drawn to WWII novels. But this is the first time I've read about it from the point of view of Ireland! Funny how you don't think about who else was affected (the whole world) when the drama was being played out in Germany (or is that just me?) This was an easy read and I'm a fan of a good happy ending so I was satisfied there. I wasn't too thrilled with some of the Christian aspects of the story; the priest wasn't enduring and some situations turned sexual, inappropriately and left me scratching my head.

Characters:
The main characters were likeable enough but Nan's guilt and preoccupation over her dead, abusive husband started to wear thin on my patience. The assorted townsfolk really made this a cast of characters and the brogue was fun to read.

Stars:
3 out of 4

Enter to win a copy here!


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4 comments:

  1. I was looking for on that got all the stars available, lol. It has been fun reading other peoples book reviews lately.

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  2. Adding Small Great Things to my list! I love to read your reviews and finding new books to add to my reading list.

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  3. Way to go on 4 books! A lot of heavy ones this month. I've enjoyed Elizabeth Strouts past books too but Somalia does seem a far stretch from past subject matter so I'm on the fence about that one.

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  4. Small Great Things was such a long book. However, the story was so worth every single page. I really enjoyed that book.

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