WWW Wednesday 05/22/2019

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

readingBad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicone Valley Startup
by John Carreyrou
This is a nonfiction book about Elizabeth Holmes and her infamous startup, Theranos. It’s exactly as wild and weird as you think it is.

The Red Labyrinth
by Meredith Tate
(Review copy provided by NetGalley.)
This is a YA fantasy novel. It has a pretty interesting concept, but it feels very YA.

The Plot to Cool the Planet
by Sam Bleicher
(Review copy provided by the publisher.)
I’ve kind of stalled out on reading this one. I need to get back to it.

I recently finished reading…

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Everything I Never Told You
by Celete Ng
Full review to come! I’d been meaning to read this for ages. I read Little Fires Everywhere when it came out, and that was my first Celest Ng book. Everything I Never Told You is kind of a family drama told in two separate timelines, detailing the events leading up to a young girl’s death and the aftermath.

The Radium Girls
by Kate Moore
Full review here. This is a nonfiction book about the medical and legal struggles of a group of women who worked with radium in factories around the time of the first world war.

How We Disappeared
by Jing-Jing Lee
Full review here. This is a WWII historical fiction novel with several different point of view characters; it takes place partially during WWII and partially in the year 2000, and the story focuses on Japanese occupied Singapore.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna 
by Juliet Grames
Full review here. This is another historical fiction novel which takes place during WWII, but it focuses largely on other things. The main character, Stella, is a young girl when her family immigrates to America from Italy. The narrator is a modern woman who is a member of Stella’s family, and the novel is presented as her best attempt to piece together their family history.

Up next…

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The Space Between Time

Charlie Laidlaw
(Free review copy provided by the publisher.)
There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!

 

WWW Wednesday 05/08/2019

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

CaptureThe Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna
by Juliet Grames
(Copy provided by publisher)

This novel is the story of Stella Fortuna, her childhood in an Italian village, and making a new life in the US as her family immigrates on the cusp of WWII. Lisa See calls it the “quintessential American immigrant story.” Grames’ writing is so lovely and particularly impressive for a debut novel!

The Plot to Cool the Planet
by Sam Bleicher
(Copy provided by publisher)

This is a weird one to categorize… It has some mystery and science fiction elements. The book begins with the murder of an inconveniently outspoken climate change scientist. I’m not quite sure what I think about it yet.

I recently finished reading…

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Shout, by Laurie Halse Anderson
I think most people have read Anderson’s novel, Speak, at some point in their lives. (If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a young adult novel about a young girl in high school struggling with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Read it. Really.) Shout is a book of poetry that shares a lot of thematic elements with that novel. I don’t do full reviews of poetry on this blog, because it feels even more subjective than reviewing a novel and I don’t like that, but I do highly recommend this book. (Content warning for sexual violence, obviously.)

Lili de Jong, by Janet Benton
This is a historical fiction novel about a young woman who finds herself in the unfortunate position of being pregnant and unwed in 1883. She goes to a home for unwed mothers with the intention of giving her baby up for adoption once she is born, but Lili finds herself unable to do so. It’s a really lovely novel about love, resilience, and injustice.

Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire
(Copy provided by NetGalley.) You can read my full review hereMiddlegame is a seriously fun adult fantasy novel about two young almost-twins who were made, not born, and about the dark forces that threaten them.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West
Lindy West has packed this essay collection with a balance of humor and vulnerability. West has never been quite what the world wanted her to be, from her time as a painfully shy and awkward kid to an outspoken, large woman. She’s open about her insecurities, but seems to have largely overcome them. I really loved this essay collection.

Looker, by Laura Sims
This is categorized as a thriller; a lot of other reviewers have pointed out that the label doesn’t feel quite right, and I’m inclined to agree. Looker follows the downward spiral of a professor who has recently been left by her husband. She is obsessed with her neighbor, an actress, and her seemingly perfect life. It’s a really odd book, and it was disconcerting spending time in the head of such a venomous POV character. (Content warning for harm to animals.)

The Girl He Used to Know, by Tracy Garvis Graves
I don’t read much romance, but I was lucky enough to meet the author of this at a recent book signing, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m glad I did. This is a super sweet love story about second chances. The main character, Annika, is on the autism spectrum, and the way that impacts her life features heavily in the story. The main narrative is about Annika and her college sweetheart, Jonathan, rekindling a romance after losing touch for years.

Up next…

42550681How We Disappeared
by Jing-Jing Lee
(copy provided by NetGalley)

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child.In a neighboring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is strapped into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery as a “comfort woman.” After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced still haunts her.In the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he never could have foreseen.Weaving together two time lines and two very big secrets, this stunning debut opens a window on a little-known period of history, revealing the strength and bravery shown by numerous women in the face of terrible cruelty. Drawing in part on her family’s experiences, Jing-Jing Lee has crafted a profoundly moving, unforgettable novel about human resilience, the bonds of family and the courage it takes to confront the past.

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!

 

WWW Wednesday 04/24/2019

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

CaptureMiddlegame
by Seanan McGuire
(Free copy provided by publisher.)

This is a fantasy novel and my first book by Seanan McGuire, and I’m already a fan. Middlegame is deliciously weird and fascinating.

Becoming
by Michelle Obama

The library wait list for this book was ridiculous, but I’m finally reading it and it’s worth the wait.

The Plot to Cool the Planet
by Sam Bleicher
(Free copy provided by publisher.)

I’m not far into this, so I’m not sure what to think about it yet. It reads a bit like a dystopian novel. Global warming has reached a crisis point and drastic measures need to be taken to preserve life on earth.

I recently finished reading…

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Chase Darkness With Me
by Billy Jensen
(Free copy provided by Audible.)

Review to come! Billy Jensen is a true crime writer and helped finish Michelle McNamara’s book (I’ll be Gone in the Dark) after her sudden passing. Chase Darkness With Me is about his investigative work on other unsolved crimes.

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls
by Anissa Gray

I don’t think I’ll be reviewing this one. It’s essentially about the aftershocks in a family when a couple is suddenly arrested and their children go to live with other family members. I liked the concept, but felt a bit lukewarm towards the actual execution.

The Farm
by Joanne Ramos
(Free copy provided by publisher.)

The Farm is about a facility serving up surrogate moms for hire to the super rich. The novel explores the idea of bodily autonomy and blurry lines of consent, privilege, etc. Read my review here.

Up next…

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Where the Crawdads Sing
by Delia Owens

A novel about a young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!

 

WWW Wednesday 04/17/2019

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
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I’m currently reading…

41398025What’s this? I’m only reading one book? This may be a first for one of my reading updates. Haha.

The Farm*
by Joanne Ramos
(*Free copy provided by publisher.)

“Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages–and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money–more than you’ve ever dreamed of–to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery–or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.”

This one has kind of mixed reviews, and I think a big part of it is awkward marketing more than an indication of quality. Judging by reactions on GoodReads, it seems like a lot of people were expecting this to feel more like a dystopian novel or a full-on thriller (I kind of had the dystopian impression myself before reading), and it’s very much not that. The whole premise actually feels really ordinary in a kind of disturbing way. Don’t go into this expecting something that feels identical to The Handmaid’s Tale and I think most readers will like it.

I recently finished reading…

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I just finished The Editor moments before writing this up, so I’m still gathering my thoughts on it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Steven Rowley is the author of Lily and the Octopus, and I honestly had really mixed feelings about that one. The Editor feels like a big step up. Review to come soon!

Parkland: Birth of a Movement, by Dave Cullen. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m picky about what kinds of nonfiction I’ll review, and Parkland feels very much out of my comfort zone in that regard, so I won’t be posting a full review. That being said, I do highly recommend this book! I read Cullen’s Columbine book recently, and while it was clearly very well researched, the heavy focus on the perpetrators was off-putting. Parkland does not even name the shooter, and places the focus very much on the victims and their activism in the aftermath.

The Last Mrs. Parrishby Liv Constantine. This is another one I don’t feel like I can review. Too much of the plot was spoiled for me when I read comparisons between this and another book, so I went into it knowing exactly what to expect. Not a great reading experience for a mystery/thriller kind of book. Go into this one blind or not at all!

I posted my review of The Invitedby Jennifer McMahon yesterday. TLDR version: this is a fun ghost story, but unfortunately not my favorite by McMahon. This was a 3 star read for me. (*Free copy provided by publisher.)

And finally, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters*, by Balli Kaur Jaswal. You can read my review here! This was a five star book for me. Balli Kaur Jaswal is quickly becoming a favorite author for me, and I adore the way she’s able to balance serious topics with a sense of humor and lightheartedness. (*Free copy provided by publisher.)

Up next…

Image may contain: text and waterThe Plot to Cool the Planet*
by Sam Bleicher

(repeat from last week because my time management is garbage right now)

(*Free copy provided by publisher.)

“Global warming lies at the center of this gripping speculative fiction involving a murder mystery, a daring secret plot, dangerous international conflict, and controversy over governance of geoengineering.
Available Earth Day, April 22, 2019 on Amazon and at your local bookstore.”

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!

 

WWW Wednesday 04/10/2019

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

CaptureThe Last Mrs. Parrish
by Liv Constantine
I just started the audio book for this one this morning. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Wife Between Us, and I noticed that a lot of the less complimentary reviews of that one mentioned that it felt really similar to The Last Mrs. Parrish, but that The Last Mrs. Parrish was better. Fingers crossed that this one does more for me than The Wife Between Us. 

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters
by Balli Kaur Jaswal
(ARC provided by publisher)
Jaswal may be one of my new favorite authors. This was my second book by her, the first being Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, which I read for my book club. This novel is about a group of sisters going on a pilgrimage of sorts to India, fulfilling a dying request of their mother, who was born there.

The Invited
by Jennifer McMahon
(ARC provided by NetGalley)
This has a 3.88 average on GoodReads right now, so I honestly didn’t think I was going to like it, but so far this is a fun ghost story. It definitely feels a bit tropey and cliche, but sometimes those kinds of books can be comfort reads. The Invited is about a couple that moves out to the country to build their own house. Some of the locals don’t seem to want them there, and there are rumors flying about a malicious ghost haunting the land they’ve just purchased.

I recently finished reading…

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I totally forgot to do a WWW Wednesday last week because I thought it was Tuesday all day on Wednesday (oops), so I’ve got two weeks’ worth of books here. Lost Roses, by Martha Hall Kelly was probably my favorite of this bunch. It’s a prequel to Lilac Girls. Lilac Girls takes place during WWII, and Lost Roses takes place during WWI and there are some characters in common between the two books.

My Sister, the Serial Killer was also a good one; this is a fun thriller, and the title pretty much gives you the premise. The main character feels bound by family loyalty into helping her sister cover up her misdeeds.

I have reviews posted for Lost Roses, The Wolf and the Watchmanand The Perfect GirlfriendI still plan on reviewing Fight or Flight, Homegoing, and My Sister, the Serial Killer. 

Up next…

Image may contain: text and waterThe Plot to Cool the Planet
by Sam Bleicher

(I was provided a free ARC in exchange for a review.)

“Global warming lies at the center of this gripping speculative fiction involving a murder mystery, a daring secret plot, dangerous international conflict, and controversy over governance of geoengineering.
Available Earth Day, April 22, 2019 on Amazon and at your local bookstore.”

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!

 

WWW Wednesday 03/27/2019

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

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The Perfect Girlfriend
by Karen Hamilton
(Free copy provided by Booksparks)

I just started this one sitting in the parking lot before going in to work this morning, so obviously I’m not very far into it. The Perfect Girlfriend is a thriller told from the point of view of a woman stalking her ex.

The Wolf and The Watchman
by Niklas Natt och Dag
(Free copy provided by Atria Books)

This is a historical fiction / murder mystery novel. I find it difficult to judge how I feel about mysteries until I’m done with them, because the resolution is so important, but I’m definitely intrigued by this one so far.

Lost Roses
by Martha Hall Kelly
(Free copy provided by Ballantine books through NetGalley)

I’ve been making slow progress on Lost Roses. I enjoy it while I’m reading it, but I’m finding it difficult to pick it up. This is WWI historical fiction and a prequel to Lilac Girls. 

I recently finished reading…

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A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea
by Masaji Ishikawa
I really dislike reviewing memoirs, because I don’t want to critique someone’s expression of their personal experience, particularly in a case like this where there is trauma involved. So while there won’t be a review posted of this book, I can say that I highly recommend it. Mr. Ishikawa’s experience is important and heartbreaking. I read a lot of history and historical fiction, so I’m used to reading about tragedies, but it becomes a very different experience when you’re reading about something that is ongoing, like the situation in North Korea.

Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across
by Mary Lambert
I don’t read much poetry in recent years, but I adore Mary Lambert. If you like her music at all, you will like this poetry collection. Some trigger warnings for sensitive topics: rape, self harm, body hatred.

This Cruel Design
by Emily Suvada
This was the sequel to This Mortal Coil, which I thought had a lot of promise. Unfortunately, this installment fell a bit flat for me. I do read and enjoy some YA, but I can only describe this as painfully YA. 

Me for You
by Lolly Winston
(Free copy provided by Booksparks) Me for You was trying to do a lot, but it felt a bit like it was floundering to me. Despite tackling some rather heavy topics like death of a spouse, death of a child, and mental illness, the overall impression was of a book that didn’t have much substance. Yes, it’s a romance, but it threw in these heavy story-lines and didn’t really seem to know what to do with them. Full review here.

The Leavers
by Lisa Ko
This sat unread on my shelf for I don’t even know how long, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. The Leavers follows the story of a young boy named Deming living in New York City. When his Chinese immigrant mother disappears, he is adopted by a white couple. Deming is the main point of view character, although we occasionally get glimpses into his mother’s perspective as well. I loved the novel’s handling of culture clash, interracial adoption, and also just plain character development.

Up next…

40908064The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters
by Balli Kaur Jaswal

(Free copy provided by the publisher through the Girly Book Club for their blogging program.)

The author of the Reese Witherspoon Book Club selection Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows follows her acclaimed America debut with this life-affirming, witty family drama—an Indian This Is Where I Leave You—about three Punjabi sisters embarking on a pilgrimage to their homeland to lay their mother to rest.

The British-born Punjabi Shergill sisters—Rajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina—were never close and barely got along growing up, and now as adults, have grown even further apart. Rajni, a school principal is a stickler for order. Jezmeen, a thirty-year-old struggling actress, fears her big break may never come. Shirina, the peacemaking “good” sister married into wealth and enjoys a picture-perfect life.

On her deathbed, their mother voices one last wish: that her daughters will make a pilgrimage together to the Golden Temple in Amritsar to carry out her final rites. After a trip to India with her mother long ago, Rajni vowed never to return. But she’s always been a dutiful daughter, and cannot, even now, refuse her mother’s request. Jezmeen has just been publicly fired from her television job, so the trip to India is a welcome break to help her pick up the pieces of her broken career. Shirina’s in-laws are pushing her to make a pivotal decision about her married life; time away will help her decide whether to meekly obey, or to bravely stand up for herself for the first time.

Arriving in India, these sisters will make unexpected discoveries about themselves, their mother, and their lives—and learn the real story behind the trip Rajni took with their Mother long ago—a momentous journey that resulted in Mum never being able to return to India again.

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a female take on the Indian travel narrative. “I was curious about how different the trip would be if it were undertaken by women, who are vulnerable to different dangers in a male-dominated society,” Balli Kaur Jaswal writes. “I also wanted to explore the tensions between tradition and modernity in immigrant communities, and particularly how those tensions play out among women like these sisters, who are the first generation to be raised outside of India.”

Powerful, emotionally evocative, and wonderfully atmospheric, The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters is a charming and thoughtful story that illuminates the bonds of family, sisterhood, and heritage that tether us despite our differences. Funny and heartbreaking, it is a reminder of the truly important things we must treasure in our lives.

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!

 

WWW Wednesday 03/20/2019

Welcome to another WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Taking on a World of Words. To participate, just answer the following three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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I’m currently reading…

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This Cruel Design
by Emily Suvada

I’ve been listening to the audio book of the sequel to This Mortal Coil. The two books have similar average ratings on Goodreads, but for me personally, the second installment isn’t working as well as the first.

Lost Roses
by Martha Hall Kelly

I don’t know why it took me so long to get through the first quarter of this book (other than the fact that I was reading other books at the same time) but I’m starting to feel invested in this story. This is a prequel to Kelly’s last novel, Lilac Girls, although it can be read as as standalone. Lilac Girls is a WWII historical fiction novel, and Lost Roses takes place during WWI and focuses on the women one generation prior to those of Lilac Girls.

I recently finished reading…

American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt
by Stephanie Marie Thornton
Full review to come, but I feel like this is a must-read for historical fiction fans. The genre is so overloaded with WWII fiction (and don’t get me wrong, I read and enjoy those stories, but a change of pace is in order) and Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Theodore Roosevelt, is a breath of fresh air. Theodore Roosevelt once famously said “I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice Roosevelt. I cannot possibly do both.” American Princess will show you why.

Beautiful Bad
by Annie Ward
This one was honestly a disappointment for me. As always with thrillers, particularly domestic thrillers, take my opinion with a grain of salt, because I am finicky about the genre, but this felt overly predictable and didn’t seem to cover any new ground not covered by a hundred domestic thrillers before it. If you read a lot in this genre, this probably won’t be for you; if you pick it up only occasionally, your experience may be a lot better. Regardless, there are much better thrillers out there to read.

Daisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Daisy Jones needs no introduction; this was one of the most anticipated 2019 releases. This was a reread for me because I wanted to experience the book in audio book format now that it’s been released, as the way it was written seemed very well suited to that. I definitely preferred the audio format to print for this one, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, check your library for the audio book! Read my review here.

Up next…

What was the most interesting memoir you’ve ever read? I don’t read much nonfiction, so this month’s @girlybookclub selection should be a nice change of pace for me! 😊

A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea
by Masaji Ishakawa

(This is March’s Girly Book Club pick!)

An Amazon Charts Most Read and Most Sold book.

The harrowing true story of one man’s life in—and subsequent escape from—North Korea, one of the world’s most brutal totalitarian regimes.

Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just thirteen years old, and unwittingly became members of the lowest social caste. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by promises of abundant work, education for his children, and a higher station in society. But the reality of their new life was far from utopian.

In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness is not only a shocking portrait of life inside the country but a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit.

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What are you reading this week? Any thoughts on the books listed in this post?  Please feel free to discuss or share WWW links in the comments!