Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Book Reviews: Strong Women, A Textbook Thriller & Self Work

Hey, here are more books.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah was outstanding. I'm obviously later to reading this one. However, it deserves all the praise and admiration for the story it tells. If you're not familiar, this one is about two sisters during World War II. It focuses specifically on the role of these women (and many women whose stories aren't always told) during World War II. Vianne and Isabelle could not be more different, and some of the story is the struggles of their relationship. However, more than anything, this book is about the decisions they make - Decisions for their personal safety, for the safety of their family, for the safety of others they've just met, and even decisions for their country They are each placed in impossible situations throughout the book and find way(s) to navigate through. Y'all, this book is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I was absolutely captivated by the story. It was the kind of book you finish, then find yourself just sitting and staring off into the distance because you have so many feels about what happened. I could gush on and on and on about this one, but if you haven't found your way to this one yet, you must.

Read this book if - You love historical fiction. You just want a book that's beautifully written.

Roar by Cecelia Ahern is an upcoming short story collection. Each of the thirty story focuses on a woman in a unique challenge or situation. These situations aren't unlike ones women are often faced with in life. The difference is these women have very literal experiences of happenings. For example, what if when you were embarrassed the floor literally opened and you were swallowed whole? Or what if your biological clock was a literal timepiece? Or what if there was a way you could be literally invisible due to your identify? This was such a unique read. There were so many of the stories where I thought to myself, "Yup, been there," and I could totally relate to what was being detailed even with the added literal layer. It was an intriguing read given the dynamics of each story, and I so enjoyed it. However, with enjoyment, it was also a reminder of the honest realities that women face. The ridiculous scenarios really didn't seem that ridiculous given the layers of truth that were interwoven. It was just such a creative way to tell this tale. Thanks, as always, to my pals at NetGalley for the sneak peek of this one to be released in April.

Read this book if - You want a unique look at the experiences of women.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz was an interesting thriller. It begins with a woman on the run after finding her husband dead at the bottom of her stairs. She's not responsible, but she can't take any chances. You see, the thing is she's been on the run before. What follows is a series of changing identities, city hopping, and trying to figure out who she can trust. For me, this was interesting enough, but also I found as I read there wasn't a character I could get attached to which I tend to like. Because the main character "changes" so much, the journey in the read is really about trying to figure out who she actually is. So much of the story is on shaky ground because it kept shifting along with her journey. There were some email exchanges throughout that provided some "stability" to the story and created more intrigue which I did like as a storytelling medium. For me, this was one was a thriller that kept me reading, but there are others that have captivated me more.

Read this book if - You want a thriller that revolves around changing identities - a lot of changing identities.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Workout for Teens by Paula Nagel was a book I read more for professional curiosity. This book focuses on exercises and strategies grounded in therapy techniques. What I liked about this book was the way it defined certain mental health struggles. It did a really good job of framing up what these thoughts could feel like and how they could manifest. I think this book could be a good starting point for self-work, but oftentimes these work best with a professional involved. I know that was true in my own experiences. This is perhaps going to sound weird, but I also wish this book had more pictures. There were some comics that explained a "Before" and "After" in the book, and I felt like there should be more of that. I think these are heavy topics that require lots of words to explain, and pictures can help break some of this down further. Overall, I think this has potential as a "companion" piece, but not as a standalone. This is another one I owe a thanks to NetGalley for the preview as this is due out in February.

Read this book if - You want an introductory look at mental health in teenagers.