December Book ReviewsBook Reviews
Happy New Year, fellow readers! Thanks to the holiday break I got a lot of reading done in December. Some good, some bad, but overall I was just happy to spend so much time with my nose buried in a book. Check out my reviews below, and leave me a comment with what you’re reading right now!
I’ve read a lot of Danielle Steel’s books, and I’ve loved some and hated others. This one falls somewhere in the middle of that. The beginning portions where the character development takes place is just too typical of Steel, with every sentence dripping with emotion and significance. I found it distracted and over-the-top. That said, there were some unexpected twists and a couple of characters I liked. The book did drag on too long in an obvious effort to tie it all up neatly in a bow, and unlike her best books I never really had an emotional response. I’m still a fan of Steel, but I’d skip this one if I were you.
I’d read this book in high school as part of the required reading curriculum, and I hated it. I decided to read it again as an adult, and I had a completely different experience. Is it a pleasant read? No. But it did bring up some very real ethical issues to ponder on. Specifically, how the criminal justice system should approach mental health. As I read the book it called to mind the case of Brendan Dassey, which has become mainstream news as a result of the smash Netflix hit “Making a Murderer”. Regardless of how you feel about his guilt or innocence, I can’t imagine that anyone would disagree that the way that poor boy was treated was a crime in itself. He is obviously lacking the mental capacity of a normal person, and that disability was blatantly taken advantage of by law enforcement. That said, I can also understand the difficulty facing the criminal justice system in balancing the rights of the victim with a perpetrator’s compromised ability to understand their crime. It’s a tough issue with no clear answer, but I really liked that this novella broached such a sensitive and difficult subject. It’ll only take a day or so to read, so I recommend it if you haven’t already.
I’ve read several of Chris Bohjalian’s books, and this one is an example of the author at his finest. It’s an addicting read, and you’ll have trouble putting it down. It’s engrossing and surprisingly informative about the world of midwifery, which I’m sure involved countless hours of research on the author’s part. The story follows a midwife who makes a desperate attempt to save the baby of a woman who has died in childbirth, only to find herself embroiled in a trial and accused of murder. It’s an excellent story about how choices we make in an instant can change the course of our lives, as well as a testament to the depths of love within a family. It makes you wonder what you would do in her situation, and what lengths you would go to in order to protect someone you love. This book keeps you hanging on every word up to the last page, and you should absolutely give it a read.
This is yet another book that was required in high school, but that I definitely didn’t have the maturity to really understand at that age. I remember disliking it, and I can’t say I’m crazy about it now. The difference is that I don’t dislike it this time around, but it left me with a distinctly uncomfortable feeling. I think that was the author’s intent. The book portrays a worst-case scenario for government intervention in daily life, which is far beyond anything me as an American have ever had to deal with. It does call to mind those who live in oppressed countries such as North Korea, and made me more empathetic of the lack of control they have over their own lives. Perhaps the most unsettling and thought-provoking takeaway for me was the reality that history is in the power of those who tell it, and can therefore be modified. If perception is reality, then how much of second-hand portrayals is actually representative of the intent of the party in question? It never occurred to me until now that there exists no first-hand writing from some of history’s most influential people, including Jesus Christ. I won’t go too far down the rabbit hole now, but it definitely gives your mind something to chew on.
After the heavy reading of 1984 I was ready for a pure pleasure read, and no one delivers those better than Mary Higgins Clark. This is one of my favorites by her, and I’ve read it several times. It follows a young woman who is caught between how she feels and what she knows following the tragic murder of her beloved sister. The story is gripping, and you’ll definitely find yourself staying up too late to read just one more chapter. The twist at the end is a good one, and I definitely recommend this book to everyone. You’ll like it!
Poetry is not really my jam, and I’ll confess I’ve never read anything from Shakespeare before this. I honestly have no idea how the book even ended up in my collection, but I don’t like owning books I’ve never read so I decided to give it a try. I learned really quickly that you can’t try to follow the rhythm of the prose too closely or worry too much about the wording, otherwise you’ll lose track of the story. I read at my normal pace and actually really loved this book. It’s a quick read, but I can see how it would have made for a very dramatic and interesting play. I definitely recommend it, just don’t get your hopes up for a happy ending!
Well, Ms. Steele really struck out this month. As I mentioned earlier in this post I have a love/hate relationship with her books. Some are good, and some are just lazy and boring. I absolutely HATED this book! Not only was it predictable and boring, but it gave very detailed accounts of sexual violence that were not at all necessary to the plot of the story. She could have accomplished the same thing in this book without going to that extreme, and as a sexual assault survivor myself I do not appreciate such things being used for entertainment purposes. Even without that, however, the book was rubbish. Skip it.