These are the books I wish to finish reading this month. Maybe I will get to read more as well if possible. My reading list for this month.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James is a horror novella. The story is about a young woman who gets a job as a governess for two mysterious kids on an estate which seems to be haunted. I just started reading it and it has a gothic feel to it because of the descriptions. The young girl who is the narrator of the story is unnamed so far. It is an intriguing read.
2. Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau is a book that details the social experiment Thoreau carried by living in a secluded cabin for two years. I am only a couple of chapters in but, it has a philosophical undertone to it. It talks about the author’s experience with nature and living simply, being self-reliant. It is a little difficult to read because there is a lot of symbolism and depth to the writing.
3. My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin.
My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin is a story about an American Heiress, Cora Cash, who travels to England with her mother to find an aristocratic match. The world in England is different than what she is accustomed to and when she marries Ivo, an eligible but secretive bachelor, her life changes. I enjoyed reading this book so far though I have trouble relating to Cora’s character which I hope will happen eventually. It seems like a fun read.
4. Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts.
Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts is the first book of the Circle Trilogy. A sorcerer named Hoyt loses his brother in 12th century Ireland to evil forces. He is chosen for a mission by the goddess Morrigan and is told he will be joined by five others to form a team to destroy Lillith. Nora Roberts has a way of blending fantasy elements with the reality that it seems grounded. The story and the characters are interesting. I finished almost seventy pages at one go when I started reading.
This is a book I have been meaning to read for a while but it wasn’t easy to find. Finally, I read it and it was worth the wait. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is set in the time before, during, and after World War II. The story of this novel is based on a true account of Caroline Ferriday, a socialite in New York who helped the Polish women of Ravensbruck camp. The story of Lilac Girls focuses on three main characters – Kasia, Caroline, and Herta who come from different backgrounds and countries but their lives intersect. Caroline helps the medical experiment survivors from Ravensbruck by bringing them for treatment to America almost a decade after the war is over.
Caroline is an ex-actress who comes from a wealthy family and volunteers at the French Consulate in New York City before the war. Caroline and her family have a strong sense of their French roots and enjoy many traditions of their culture. It is also the reason Caroline works dedicatedly at the consulate. Kasia is an 18-year-old girl living happily with her family and friends in Lublin, Poland until Nazi Germany invades Poland on 1st September in 1939 and her life is turned upside down. Herta is studying medicine in Nazi Germany and dreams of being a surgeon but there are restrictions for women in the medical field under the Reich. She is ambitious and determined from the very beginning and has complete faith in Hitler’s vision for her country.
The story is pretty straightforward in terms of timelines and events. The novel is divided into three parts. The first part gives an insight into the background of the characters and this really helped me understand the motivations and personalities of these women. The second part was difficult to read because the main focus of this is the course of their lives during the war. It is not outwardly described in a gory or violent way but it is more about the emotional reactions which get to you. The third part of the story is Caroline, Kasia, and Herta’s life after the war ends.
The characters in the book are what make this novel unique. Caroline does everything in her power to help French children during the war. She does so at a personal cost at times and even when things turn hopeless she keeps doing what she does because she knows this is the least she can do to help. Kasia is a rebellious girl but she wants to help change the situation in Poland. She starts helping the Polish underground in Lublin with the help of her friend and her crush Pietrik. One day she is followed by a German officer after doing an assignment she begs Pietrik for and is arrested. Kasia’s mother and sister Zuzzana, Pietrik, and his sister Luiza who have come to collect the envelope from Kasia are all arrested along with her.
Ravensbruck is where Kasia ends up with her sister and mother, a labor camp in Germany for women. I didn’t know much about this camp and the medical experiments conducted there until I read this book. These women stick together, helping each other stay safe that too at a personal cost. It’s heartwarming to see them help each other this way in a situation where one wrong move meant your death. The experiments were inhumane and the way is written makes us understand the gravity of it. It is at the camp that Kasia’s mother, Halina, is taken under Herta’s wing as a nurse and where Halina dies. This is the only time Herta shows some emotion. Herta is not a fictional character and is based on a camp doctor in Ravensbruck. She believes in what she is doing and it seems like she doesn’t care but somewhere deep down she feels a little remorse for her actions. Most of the time though she is detached and cold focusing only on her medical research with no thought of the human cost.
Caroline has a personal connection to France during the war, a married actor she falls in love with named Paul who is also taken to a camp when France is invaded but survives. Kasia comes back with her sister to Lublin where their father still lives and has trouble adjusting to normal life. She finds Pietrik and he is having a hard time too but Kasia is trying to forget but her guilt about her mother makes her angrier and angrier. Pietrik and Kasia get married and have a daughter who is named Halina after her mother but Kasia doesn’t want her to be named Halina. She snaps at everyone about the tiniest things but slowly realizes she needs to let go. With Caroline’s insistence, Kasia goes to Germany to confront Herta who was released early from prison. Once she confronts Herta and finds out what happened to her mother at the camp that she is finally able to move on with her life and leave all the darkness behind.
Martha Hall Kelly has been able to give a lot of heart to the story through her characters. Kasia and her family are the fictional characters but the story revolves around them in a way and, they are instrumental in telling the story of those Polish women who suffered at Ravensbruck during the war and treated unjustly after the war. It is a beautiful and inspiring story yet it is so sad and heartbreaking.
Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling is a memoir which is a collection of essays about her life, career and experiences. This book has been on my shelf for years but I wasn’t really familiar with Mindy Kaling so I didn’t read it. Recently, I watched the series The Mindy Project and loved it. So, now that I was familiar with her work I thought I’ll read her memoir.
This collection of non-fiction essays about life is a clever and interesting way to write. The way it has been written, the format was new to me and in a way it makes the writing stand out even more. The essays are fun, witty and surprisingly relatable. It starts with awkward childhood stories than navigates through college life making it way towards career and personal life. Mindy Kaling’s experiences are relatable which I didn’t expect to be honest but it was a pleasant surprise.
She doesn’t care how she will be perceived by others, she mentions that in the book too which made the stories or essays authentic because there was no sugarcoating. The way she freely talked about drifting apart from people you thought would be a part of your life forever but it doesn’t happen or how she looked for friendships in wrong places and people and disappointments about her career. Her awkward behavior around people is amusing and funny especially around famous people as she says that she is socially anxious. As a person who doesn’t know how or what to say in social situations, I could completely relate to her.
Mindy Kaling doesn’t hold back about her insecurities or vulnerabilities throughout the book may it be about herself or her career. She candidly talks about the life in public eye and how celebrities are expected to carry themselves at all times. The constant comparison with others for example – articles like who were this better? She tries to subtly emphasize the point that all celebrities are regular people too and at times that is forgotten when they are held to different standard.
The title of the book itself has a deeper meaning which didn’t even cross my mind as I was reading it. Why Not Me? The title of the book refers to the constant question she is asked that how come you are so confident? This question she felt implied that you have so little to be confident about then where does t come from? Mindy Kaling explains how confidence is about entitlement, about believing what you deserve.
I don’t usually read non-fiction books especially memoirs or biographies but I am glad I read this one. It is honest, relatable and so witty. The way it is written, divided into different parts of her life and experiences makes it more interesting. The book is funny and it is deeper than one would expect it to be, it has a good message. I enjoyed reading this book.
I don’t usually read non-fiction books but this book was a gift. It is been sitting on my shelf for years. I recently watched The Mindy Project television series and I liked it so I decided that now I will read this book. It is kind of like a collection of humorous essays written by Mindy Kaling. I am only a couple of chapters in but it is a fun read. It is relatable, insightful, and witty.
2. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.
Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is inspired by a true story during World War II. Three women Caroline Ferriday, Kasia Kuzmerick, and Herta Oberheuser come from different worlds until World War II begins with the invasion of Poland and their paths cross with each other. I haven’t read beyond the first chapter but historical novels always intrigue me and this one was no different. I look forward to reading this book.
3. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst.
The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst is a love story between Alexa and Nicholas. Alexa and Nicholas have known each other for years because Maggie is Alexa’s best friend and Nicholas’s sister. Alexa is in a tough financial situation so when Nicholas makes his proposal to her. They get married only in name for Nicholas to be able to inherit his father’s corporation. The story can be predictable in a way but the element of fantasy and unique characters is enough to hook you on the book.
If You Stay is a story of Pax and Mila. Both of them come from different backgrounds; Pax drowns himself in drugs and women while Mila is down to earth and sweet. I am a couple of chapters in as of now and it is intriguing. There is an element of mystery surrounding the characters’ past especially Pax which I am super curious to find out.
2. Worth the Risk by Jamie Beck.
Worth the Risk is the third book of the St. James series. I read the other two books a while back and I wanted to read Jackson’s story. This book focuses on Jackson St. James when he decides to go to Vermont so he could prioritize his sobriety. His landlady is sweet young mother Gabby who Jackson finds alluring. Gabby and Jackson both seem to have different issues about their past yet they seem perfect for each other.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
I have been meaning to read A Tale of Two Cities for years but some reason I always stop after the first chapter. This time I have picked it up again and finished the second chapter so that is a promising sign. Set during the French Revolution, this book parallels the story between two cities London and Paris. It being a historical novel is a huge draw for me.
I read ‘Perfect’ written by Judith McNaught and I liked her writing style. I found this book pretty randomly. I haven’t read historical fiction and romances much before but I think it is a fascinating genre. I started reading this book a couple of days ago and I have already finished 200 pages of it. The plot of the book focuses on the passionate and star-crossed love story of Elizabeth Cameron and Ian Thornton. The book is fast-paced and interesting. I think I’ll finish this one very quickly.
2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
I borrowed this book a couple of years ago from a library but never finished it back then before I had to return it. I was almost halfway through the book back then and now that I have a copy, I am going to start from the beginning. I have read just a chapter of it as of yet but the premise of the story keeps you hooked. Never Let Me Go is a dystopian novel yet it is grounded in the real world with its setting which enhances the impact of the story. This time I am going to finish reading it quickly so there are no breaks in continuity for me while reading.
3. All the Bright Places by Niven.
This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it at least 4 years back for the first time. Its been too long so I am going to read this again because I liked it so much the first time. The story of Violet and Finch is fun, self-aware, and heartbreaking. The character of Finch is so well written and the way Violet and Finch help each other is beautiful. I can’t wait to read this book again even though I am sure it’s going to end with me crying over it again.
4. Selected Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
I have been reading a lot of short stories lately. I never felt brave enough to start reading Crime and Punishment or any other works by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Reading classics can seem like a task at times but I want to read his works so reading the short stories will kind of ease me into his writing style. I read the first two stories and they are really good. The descriptions and the writing style is unique and it’s not as heavy as I expected it to be.
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I have read many books written by Nora Roberts over the years. The writing of the story might seem similar in her book; sequentially I mean but she manages to keep things fresh with the characters and settings.
A story about an ambitious girl Lil Chance befriends Cooper Sullivan when they are kids; the first summer Cooper spends with his grandparents. He comes back every year regularly for the next few years. Lil and Cooper are close and as they grow up their feelings change and they end up in a romantic relationship. Cooper breaks Lil’s heart and she throws herself into following her career ambitions. Cooper moves to his grandparents’ farm after his grandfather has an accident; this brings Lil and Cooper in each others lives again.
The book begins when Lil and Cooper are kids and it focuses on their relationship with their family and with each other. This part is a little slow plot-wise because not much is happening but it is necessary to establish the bond that Lil and Cooper have. The setting of the story, the Black Hills in South Dakota plays a major part in the story as it is an important place for the characters, especially for Lil. Lil is a wildlife biologist and sets up a sanctuary for animals on her family’s land just as she wanted while Cooper struggled a bit on what he wanted versus his father’s expectations. I liked the cute, innocent love story they have in the beginning and even when they reconnect the bond between them seems completely natural.
The story becomes suspense when Lil is stalked by someone who is threatening the life she has build for herself. Cooper is an ex-cop and he is adamant about helping her and keeping her safe till the person is caught. This is where the story picks up its pace and scary things start happening around Lil because of a man and his beliefs. I liked Lil’s characterization. She knows from a very young age which direction she wants to go in and she sticks to it which is in contrast to Cooper. She has made her dreams come true and she loves her work and life. She is bitter about how things ended with Cooper 12 years back but that because she believed that they meant to be.
The first introduction of Cooper makes you a little sad with the things going on with his parents and the way he acts like an adult even though he is 11. He struggles with his family issues throughout the story and with himself too. The explanation he gives Lil about breaking up with her back then makes sense in a way but still not completely so Lil is right to be mad about it. The point of view of the stalker/murderer is downright creepy at times but intriguing because it made me want to find out who he was and it wasn’t an obvious choice.
I have to say this is not my favorite Nora Roberts book and like some of her other works I might not read this one again. I liked the love story and the suspense element of the book and the characters. The pacing was a little slow and for me; even though the setting is important I could never completely get into it or imagine it which disappointed me a little bit. In my opinion, overall it is a good book but it didn’t match some of the other works by Roberts which I have read. It was a good escapist read for this weekend.
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The story is set in South Dakota with the backdrop of the Black hills range. It is a story about Lil Chance and Cooper Sullivan. I have always enjoyed reading books written by Nora Roberts and I have read many of them over the years. I started this book a couple of days back and it’s keeping me interested. The plot of the story is going different than my assumptions of it but in a good way. I might finish this one pretty quickly.
2. Just For Now by Anny Glines.
The fourth book in the Sea Breeze series by Abbi Glines. I don’t think I have read the books in the correct order but I have read them so I have a bit of context going into this book. Amanda has had a crush on Preston since she was sixteen and he is her brother’s best friend. I am enjoying it so far. The characters are from different worlds and have completely different issues. It’s a feel-good book, perfect for the weekend.
3.French Short Stories of 19th and 20th Century.
This book I have is a collection of short stories by French writers in English. Over the last week, I have read a few of these stories and they are amazing. Some of the writers in there I hadn’t heard of before which was the reason I picked up this book. Unlike a full-length novel, it’s much easier to read a short story a day especially when ten other things are going on. I am glad I bought this book; so far every story I read has been amazing.
4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennesee Williams.
Williams was never a part of my syllabus of Literature in college but my teachers always recommended her plays. I finally got myself a copy of A Streetcar Named Desire and I am excited to read it. I haven’t made much progress because I started it last night. I am intrigued to see how the play unfolds. The writing and characters have already managed to capture my interest.
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Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie is a contemporary romance novel. I found the description of the book intriguing and different so I decided to read it. The book is about a 33-year-old woman named Minerva Dobbs. She decides to go on a date with Calvin Morrisey knowing he has made a bet about asking her out. Once she agrees to dinner, the story takes off and things change for her.
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The story starts when Minerva is dumped by her boyfriend David in a bar where she ends up meeting Cal. Min overhears Cal talking about a bet which involves her. Then the plot unfolds in a witty and sweet way. Minerva is such a great character. She is not the “ideal” romance heroine; she is plain and chubby which is not common for a romance novel. The struggles of her character regarding her issues are portrayed realistically by the writer. Her struggles to feel comfortable in her skin physically and mentally evolves in an organic manner. At no point, any character evolution seems forced in the story.
The underlying theme throughout the book is about body positivity. Min struggles to accept the standards of beauty set by society and her mom. In the beginning, she is constantly worrying about her eating, trying to fit in a particular dress for her sister’s wedding. As the story progresses Cal helps her feel comfortable with herself. Cal and Min are unique characters with their wicked sense of humor and quirky personalities. Cal’s character seems typical at the beginning of the book but there is so much depth to him as the story moves ahead.
The subplot of David and Cal’s ex, who is psychologist keep plotting to sabotage Min and Cal’s growing relationship. The theories of Cal’s ex Cyn were annoying after the first couple of times and it didn’t make sense to me. I felt that this subplot was not completely resolved as Cal never understands the whole reason behind Cyn’s pursuit of him. Even the supporting characters have distinctive voices and play a part in taking the story ahead.
The character interaction is so vivid and cool in the way it is written. The dialogues are sweet, funny and sometimes downright sarcastic. The outlook of Min and Cal towards love is practical; Min is more of a cynic in that case. She doesn’t expect fairytales or happily ever after and is calculative about everything she does. They both share somewhat dysfunctional relationships with their families but it isn’t over the top. The author doesn’t depend on drama for the story; the conflicts that do arise are not artificial in any way. The coincidental meeting between Min and Cal are so endearing to rea
Bet Me is the first Jennifer Crusie book I read and I liked her writing style. It is quick-paced, with no unnecessary drama and humorous. The romantic relationship between Min and Cal develops slowly and steadily; it is cute to see them falling in love. You can’t help but root for the characters and relate to them every now and then. The book is witty, sarcastic and fun to read from start to finish. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t finish it fast enoug
Only Time Will Tell is the first book of the family saga Clifton Chronicles which consists of seven books in total including this one. This is the second work of Jeffery Archer that I have read after I loved Kane and Abel and I wasn’t disappointed.
The plot of the novel revolves around the protagonist Harry Clifton and it spans the time between the end of World War I and the beginning of the Second World War. The setting of the novel is in Bristol, England from 1919 – 1940. The protagonist is the character of Harry Clifton, a young boy destined to follow in the footsteps of his father and uncle and work on the docks until he gets a new direction. Harry becomes friends with a dock worker Old Jack Tar who knew his father Arthur when he worked there. Harry is a gifted singer, which opens up new avenues for him. He gets into a good school on a scholarship and his future seems bright.
Harry’s family is poor and lives in difficult conditions but it gets better when his mother finds a job at a tea shop. During the years at school, Harry becomes close friends with Deakins and Giles Barrington, whose father, Hugo Barrington, despises Harry for reasons not known to anyone. Their sister Emma and Harry get along well and eventually fall in love. The real parentage of Harry is not known to him and only his mother and a few others know about it. His mother Masie, struggles a lot to make sure her son has everything he needs.
The narration of the novel is from the point of view of six main characters – Harry, his mother Masie, Emma, Giles, Hugo, and Old Jack Tar. The different character points of view thicken the plot and each of their internal struggles, plots, and secrets are revealed some of which were completely shocking as a reader. All the characters of the story are well sketched and grounded; their actions hold more meaning when their motivations are clear in their heads. Masie Clifton is an admirable character throughout the novel even if she takes questionable steps, she knows it is not right but she does it anyway to provide for her son.
The ending of the novel is a bit of a cliffhanger which is expected since it is the first book of the Clifton Chronicles which makes me want to dive into the next book as soon as possible. The twists and turns increase towards the end of the novel and make the novel more engaging. Some things are known to us as readers but the reaction of the characters to these situations is thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the pace of the novel, it doesn’t slow down in the between and stays engaging. The six narrators of the story make character motivations and their mindset clear and it made me understand each of these characters.
I wasn’t sure if I’ll like this book as much as Kane and Abel but I must say it comes pretty close. I read this book so quickly because I wanted to find out how it all unfolded. I can’t wait to start reading the next books in the Clifton Chronicles.