Decem-burrrrr, am I right?? I clearly did not do as much reading as I thought I would during my favorite month! I pictured myself snuggled up by my little blue Christmas with a book, but that just didn’t happen. There were networking events and holiday parties and shopping nights . . . no time! I’m also blaming only reading 3 books this month on the fact that one book was more than 400 pages and one book was a heavy, heavy subject. So they took some time to process. Here’s why:
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The Nightingale: A Novel by Kristin Hannah — Reading books that have gotten a lot of hype always makes me nervous. I had heard nothing but good things about The Nightingale, and it has won a ton of literary awards. Guys, I can tell you: this book does not disappoint. It’s a whopper (400+ pages), but it could have been 800 and I would have devoured them all.
The Nightingale details the lives of two sisters as they find very different ways to endure Nazi occupation in France. You will fall in love with them, you will root for them, and that’s all I’m going to say. Go read it!
The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State by Nadia Murad — This is probably the most important book I read all year. Nadia tells the story of her village life in Iraq before ISIS took control in 2015. In about 2-3 days, she watches every man in her village driven out to a firing squad and is separated from her mother, sister, nieces, & young nephews. She is then taken to be a sabaya, a sex slave for ISIS leaders. This book will break your heart & enrage you, but it is so important to understand the absolute evil taking place in the Middle East. Nadia skillfully breaks down the complicated politics and religious history of her homeland to give us a deeper understanding of the turmoil.
Nadia is incredibly brave to tell her story to the world. She started receiving death threats from ISIS as soon as she started speaking out. But Nadia continues to actively fight for help and hope for her fellow Yazidis and other victims of ISIS. I do wish the book had talked a bit more about what she’s been able to do as an activist. With a foreward by Amal Clooney though, it seems like she aligned with the right people. Nadia is a true testament to the power of our stories and how speaking out is enough to start change.
Nadia isn’t terribly graphic about her time in captivity, but I wouldn’t recommend this read for anyone under 16. Honestly, I think everyone (of the appropriate age) should read this. We cannot turn a blind eye to what’s happening to women overseas.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.
The House on Foster Hill by Jamie Jo Wright — I really enjoy stories that switch back and forth through two periods of time. In The House on Foster Hill, you have Ivy narrating an early 1900s murder mystery while her great-great-granddaughter, Kaine, struggles with a stalker who may or may not have killed her husband in the present day. As Kaine and some new friends investigate, they find that the house itself holds some dark, ugly secrets.
While I enjoyed the premise of this book, it took a little too long to get there. Sometimes I felt like I was reading the characters having the same conversation 3-5 different times. I just wanted to get to the ACTION! Wright often left the chapters on really great cliffhangers that left me excited to get into each jump in time and narrator, but after awhile, we needed less talk and more action. Especially between Ivy & Joel. My God, woman, let your misguided grudge GO!
In the name of honesty, I will say that it is pretty clear that this was a debut novel. Wright could have used some more editing, I think. Sometimes there was so much over-description that it drove me a little batty. As a silly example, she at one point talks about someone leaning on “the nightstand next to the bed.” Girl. Nightstands are pretty much always next to the bed. You don’t have to TELL us so much!
Thank you to Bethany House for sending me a free copy in exchange for my honest review!
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