Book Reviews: February Reads

Well, then, I can’t believe it’s almost the end of February. The month flew by. I haven’t had as many weekends to devote to reading, so I’ve been relying on audiobooks on my commutes.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

This is one of our little book club’s picks. A man is given the opportunity to think back on his childhood after attending a family funeral in his hometown. A particular little pond stirs up memories of a beautiful fantasy from his young life and his older friend, Lettie Hempstock. This short little novel was good, but was a little too full of symbolism for me. This was the first Neil Gaiman book I’ve read, and I know he’s quite popular. I hope more of his stories will leave a better impression on me. 3/5

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Faith by Jennifer Haigh

Faith explores one family as they deal with the sexual abuse scandal that plagued the Catholic church a few years ago. The McGanns are extremely devout, save for Sheila, the black sheep, who narrates the story. Her older brother, Art, is the priest accused of child molestation, and her younger brother, Mike, is sure he did it. Sheila is not convinced, so she comes up to see what she can do to help Art clear his name. Their mother remains in denial, and their father is oblivious, in his demential stupor. While each member of the family deals with this shocking accusation, the past unravels opening up a lot of questions and revealing a few answers. This family drama was captivating, but also hard to listen to at times because Haigh never shies away from the raw details. It’s definitely worth a read/listen. 3/5

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State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I can’t believe it took me so long to read Patchett’s latest novel. I have loved every book I’ve ever read by her, and this was no different. State of Wonder is a modern-day telling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which I read in high school literature. Dr. Marina Singh has been tasked with retrieving the body of her research partner, Dr. Anders Eckman from the jungles of Brazil, and the even more difficult task of finding Dr. Annick Swenson, who Anders went to find in the first place. Dr. Swenson has been working on groundbreaking fertility research and hasn’t produced anything for her sponsor, so Marina is tasked with finding out more information about her drug research, but it will be difficult, as she has a distinct history with Dr. Swenson. I’ll be honest in saying I was a little concerned that the whole thing would be a rip-off of Conrad. But it really is more than a re-telling. It’s a whole new story that stands on its own. It’s captivating and moves quickly once they make it to the jungle. 4/5

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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I’ve been doing a good job of incorporating non-fiction into my reading list. Unbroken is the story of Louie Zamperini, the former Olympian who served in the United States Air Force in the Pacific theater during World War II. In an unfortunate turn of events, Zamperini’s plane went down in the Pacific Ocean, and he drifted with his best friend, Captain Alan Philips for over a month, until they were captured by the Japanese. This is when the meat of the story begins. Zamperini was a POW of Japan, but was tortured, beaten, and labored to near death for years, along with many other POWs. The horrors that they went through were unbearable. Zamperini is still alive, at 97, and his story is incredible. The film version is coming out later this year, and I do encourage you to read it before it does. 4/5

Harry Potter Update: I just finished Goblet of Fire and it’s still my favorite! I can’t believe how many little details I had forgotten. I can’t believe I’m over halfway through.  And I can’t believe somebody didn’t slap Ron when he didn’t consider asking Hermione to the Yule Ball until it was too late.

How do you feel about audiobooks?

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3 responses

  1. I haven’t read “Ocean,” but I liked Gaiman’s “Stardust” and “American Gods.” Maybe one of those will float your boat more. Through “Gods” was super weird, it was still good.

    I didn’t realize “State of Wonder” was based on “Heart of Darkness.” Probably because I never read “Heart of Darkness.” 🙂

    I’ve been listening to audiobooks a LOT lately. I just finished Warm Bodies, and the narrator was FANTASTIC.

  2. I haven’t listened to audiobooks in a very long time (like middle school), and I don’t know why not, my job is perfectly suited for it. Where do you get yours?

    • I have an Audible account that is $14.99 a month for one credit a month, which equals one book. It’s great, because the books you purchase can be directly downloaded to your phone via the Audible app, and then I don’t have to worry about plugging my phone into the computer. But recently, I put that on hold because I’ve been getting so many from the library! I mostly listen on my commutes, so it’s easy to pop the CD into my player, and just go. And it’s free! Extra bonus. Might be a good way to listen to Game of Thrones?

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