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As I am sure you have noticed I have been playing around with the name of my monthly book review, I have had a new name for it almost every month (I know that’s bad!). However, I am really digging this current name because it succinctly explains what I am talking about. I would love to hear what you think!
Great news, I am honored to share that my last post called Be Inspired By the Best Book Lists on Pinterest inspired a fellow blogger to write a book list of her own called My Top 10 Books for Infants Toddlers and Preschoolers. If you have a child that fits that age group, I would love if you would show her some love and check it out!
Now on with the show! You will never guess what? You remember how I had a question in the last month’s book review post? (find here if you don’t) I have the Answer!! You will find it below as the first book I review. I am so excited I solved the mystery!
Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson. M. M Banning has written one novel in her life and it was a super success. The book starts 20 years later when she is going broke and attempts to write another novel. Alice is the main character who is sent by the publishing company to be a nanny for M.M. and do whatever she needs while she writes. Alice is also in charge of making sure M.M. actually writes. A job that proves impossible. M.M. is an eccentric woman who lives in a house that doesn’t fit her and has a son who doesn’t fit anywhere either. Frank prefers to watch and quote old movies and dress in suits from the same era.
I can’t believe I had forgotten this book. This was an interesting read. I gave a solid 3 stars on Goodreads. Many people either raved about it or didn’t like it enough to finish it so I am a bit of an odd duck. I thought this book had a lot of potential and while some of it was reached there was so much more that could have been with it. It’s written from the perspective of Alice, but yet Alice isn’t developed very much as a character. Instead, they use her voice to develop the rest of the characters. I found this odd and a place the author could have added value but chose not to.
Frank was the best and worst part about this book. He was so full of life, facts, and character. He was intelligent yet misunderstood, partially I think due to whatever caused his eccentricity (some people have ventured to say he had Asperger’s but the book didn’t specify). I struggled with this book the most with the mostly neutral stance M.M. took with her son, yet had weirdly bouts of strong love toward her son, which may also have added to his issues.
Overall I would say venture into this book if you want an interesting story, but with the knowledge that there is missing depth and moments that will leave you saying, why is that character like that?
The Hard One To Read
I had decided this month I wanted to read historical fiction. I had read Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World (fictional recreation based on true events) and loved it and thought I should try that genre again. So I went to the library in search of something that would fill that need. When I got there I went straight to our trusty librarian Jesse, who is a slightly older than me gentleman who specializes in YA but is always ready to help our little family with our requests.
When I asked Jesse what he would recommend he suggested a book he hadn’t read but had really good reviews. It was even one from Oprah’s book club (which really has no weight with me but I think he was just backing up his statement of the book’s value.) So I grabbed it and sat down to read it.
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I will be honest I wasn’t prepared for this book. Jesse had told me the idea behind this book was to present the underground railroad as an actual railroad. I was intrigued by this idea. I knew there would be slavery in it, but I didn’t know that it would be to the extent that it was. This book dives deep into the day to day life of a slave in the times before the civil war in America.
The fear, the torture the pain they endure was all a bit much for me to handle. I had to take breaks from this book often or only read a few pages at a time. I wanted to finish this book because of the great reviews and truly believed the book would get better. Alas, this is a book I should have set down. The main character had very little development. I met so many people along the way that were underdeveloped as well. The only real thing that was developed well in this book was the sheer horror in which the slaves were treated at the time.
I would only recommend this book to people who study slavery and enjoy reading fictional books on it. Beyond that, I don’t see why it got so many good reviews. I don’t plan on reading another book like that soon.
Are they Really The Best?
The Best American Mystery Stories by Elizabeth George. When I picked up this book I hadn’t realized it was a series. They come out with one every year and have a different editor each time, this one is 2016. I had pictured the best mystery stories to be more Whodunits or maybe James Patterson types (funny enough he was an editor in a previous year’s edition). These mysteries don’t seem to be as much mysteries as Alfred Hitchcock, twilight zone type stories.
I really like the idea of a collection of short stories. It makes it so much easier to take in a small amount when you only have a few minutes. However, the stories in this book weren’t for me. I don’t love these types of mysteries (if you can call them that). If you are a Hitchcock/Twilight Zone fan I would highly recommend them. They have weird twists and plots that coincide with that kind of work.
Overall, I feel like this month’s book left me wanting a light read or two. I have the book Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult which is a book I have been wanting to read, but will gauge how I feel once I start it.
What books are you looking forward to reading this month?