March 2021 Book Reviews!
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman: four septuagenarians and octogenarians from varying backgrounds living in a luxury retirement home in England meet weekly to discuss and solve cold cases from decades previous. They are up for the challenge when a murder occurs in their own backyard. The characters were fully developed, and the murder mystery more complicated than meets the eye. I so loved this novel. It was funny, charming, witty, and I looked forward to picking it up! It will definitely be one of my favorites of the year. You don't want to miss this lovely book!
Sweet Water by Cara Reinard: a wealthy couple receives a phone call from their teenage son in distress. They arrive to find their son heavily drugged and his girlfriend dead. Mom wants to call it in, but Dad and his wealthy family do not. Did their son commit murder? Is this a familial tendency? This suspense novel kept me turning pages. I had to find out the details. It was full of messy situations with no good outcome available. I was a little frustrated with several of the characters. There is some language, but the real crime is the rampant self-deception throughout the book. This was an Amazon First Reads pick. If you don't know already (I didn't), Amazon Prime members can choose a new Kindle book from a specified selection each month.
The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave as Related by Herself: Mary Prince's autobiography was written in 1828 while she was hoping to be able to return to her husband as a free woman. Her treatment was so horrendous to read, but I was struck by her faith in God. The lawyer who represented Mary Prince wrote a statement after her story finished where he confirmed her truthfulness and good standing in society. He also discussed how slaveholders lose their own humanity by dehumanizing other image bearers of God. We can clearly see the truth of this in regards to the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide, and the Uigher Muslims in China (to name a few). I highly recommend this book. It also contains a short autobiography of Asa-Asa, a man sold to French slavers by a neighboring tribe in Africa.
Common Sense by Thomas Paine: this pamphlet was a key tool used by the American Patriots to rally the colonists to the cause for independence. I was surprised by how easy it was to read. Many of the points are still applicable today in regards to what a republic should look like and what it should avoid. It is a great piece of American history. Pick it up if that is something you are interested in! I read it on the Serial Reader app.
When We Were Young and Brave by Hazel Gaynor: historical fiction about a western school for children of missionaries, diplomats, and businessmen based in Chefoo, China. When WWII broke out, the school was taken over by the Imperialist Japanese Army and the inhabitants spent almost the entirety of the war in Weihsien Internment Camp. (This is the same camp where Olympian and missionary Eric Liddell perished. This story is written from the point of view of one of the female teachers and one of the young female students. The Girl Guides, now known as the Girl Scouts, played a huge role in this novel as well. This book was so good and informative. I had never read about this part of WWII before. Click here for a website filled with paintings and stories of actual inhabitants of this interment camp.
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Sherlock Holmes is approached by Dr. Mortimer to help discover the truth behind the dreaded Hound that was said to have killed every Baskerville who lived upon the moor. This was the book club pick for Read Aloud Revival premium, and since I had read all of Sherlock Holmes several years ago when pregnant with my first child, I decided to listen to the audiobook. It was fun to hear the different voices, and I had forgotten how the book ended so it was like a first read through all over again.
God's Smuggler by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill: Brother Andrew was born into a poor family in the small village of Witte in the Netherlands, yet God used him to encourage and smuggle Bibles behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. Before each trip, he would ask God, who had made blind eyes see, to make seeing eyes blind. This very true story is full of suspense, encouragement for fellow believers, and continually points to Christ. I think every professing Christian should read it. I never wanted to put this book down!
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah: Hannah's newest historical fiction novel is set in the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. It follows one family as they struggle to survive abandonment, monstrous dust storms, poverty, the rise/draw of Communism, and discrimination. I cannot fathom living during this time period in history. It filled me with dread when I would read about it. So much happens in this novel, most of it devastating. It left me in tears. Now I want to read a nonfiction about the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. Hit me up with any good recommendations. If you like Hannah's books, pick this up too.
The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson's Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin by Jan Stocklassa: this nonfiction book centers around the unsolved assassination of Sweden's Prime Minister Olof Palme in 1986. I had never heard of this infamous event, so everything about this part of history was unknown to me. I was fascinated by all the connections, people involved (although I'd never heard of them), and how it would end. I did have a hard time keeping names and places straight, especially since I do not know how to pronounce Swedish names. It will be interesting to see what comes from Stocklassa's epic work. If you are up for a hefty nonfiction tome, then pick this book up, but it can be a bit dry in places
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson:. I noticed that this classic was available on the Serial Reader app and decided to give it a reread. It was just as entertaining as I remember and very readable. I will have to pick up another of his books! If I remember correctly, RLS had some firsthand experience with pirates. I may have tp pick up a biography on him! Now to introduce my kiddos to Muppet Treasure Island :)
Friendish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion by Kelly Needham: Ever struggle with friendship? How can you tell a healthy from an unhealthy friendship? What does it mean to hold friendships with an open hadn't as a Christian? How should Bible-believing Christians approach friendship? Kelly Needham addresses all these and more in her book. As a military spouse who moves every few years, making friends is hard. We have to make new ones every few years, civilians may not want to invest in us because they know we will be moving, and intimacy between friends takes time that is already cut short for us. I loved this book. I was challenged by the Biblical references included as to how to approach any relationship outside of marriage. So much of my book is underlined and highlighted. I highly recommend this book to all Christians who desire friendships that mean more than what this world offers.