books

December Book Reviews

Book 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!

Pegasus Danielle Steele

Pegasus by Danielle Steel

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.

Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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.

Midwives Chris Bohjalian

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

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.

1984 George Orwell

1984 by George Orwell

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.

Weep No More My Lady Mary Higgins Clark

Weep No More, My Lady by Mary Higgins Clark

After the heavy reading ofΒ 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!

Hamlet William Shakespeare

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

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!

Secrets Danielle Steele

Secrets by Danielle Steele

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.

16 Comments Write a comment

16 Comments

  • Kayla Lauer January 5, 2018

    That’s a well mixed bag of books! Hamlet, in my opinion probably isn’t the best Shakespear play, it’s true what you said though. It’s hard to keep the rhythm and focus on the story line. I am rather dons of the elequent use of words from several of the older books you reviewed!

    I can read anything; seriously…Shampoo bottles, food labels, whatever!

    What comes next?

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 5, 2018

      You comment made me laugh! I’m the same way…when I was a kid (before cell phones) I’d always read the shampoo bottles when I was in the bathroom (gross, I know). I read everything! I’d love to hear your recommendations as well!

  • leah January 5, 2018

    I remember reading Of Mice and Men during secondary school, it feels like forever ago now! I have always wanted to read 1984, so I will definitely be adding that to my list. Thank you for the book review πŸ™‚

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 5, 2018

      Thank you for reading the post! I’d love to hear your take on 1984 after you’ve read it. It’s very thought-provoking!

  • Sheena January 4, 2018

    Hello Heather, thank you for the book reviews. I’ve been trying to increase my leaisurly reading. Your list definitely helps.

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 4, 2018

      You’re welcome! I post book reviews at the beginning of each month. Thank you so much for reading!

  • Emily January 4, 2018

    You picked such good books! My son is in high school and had to read 1984 and Of Mice and Men. I loved both when I was younger, so I reread them with him! I’ve never read a Danielle Steele novel, maybe I’ll try her out!

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 4, 2018

      You must have matured faster than me, because I hated both books when I read them in high school! LOL, I’m glad I read them again as an adult and could fully appreciate the depth of the themes. If you read a Danielle Steele novel you should go with The Gift…it is hands-down my favorite of hers!

  • Adrienne Bruner January 4, 2018

    I have always wanted to read of mice and men… I am going to! I also watched the Netflix series of Making a Murderer and completely agree what you said.

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 4, 2018

      You should! It’s a novella, so it won’t take you much time at all. And I definitely recommend it if you’ve been following the Making a Murderer case!

  • Cristina January 4, 2018

    1984 is one of my favourite books! Great post

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 4, 2018

      It was an excellent, albeit disturbing, book. It makes you wonder how much the concept had been bothering the author for him to write the book.

  • Anissa January 4, 2018

    Of Mice and Men is a classic!! Right now I’m reading Everday Bias and so far it’s a page turner. The last book I read I was Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Thank you for giving us some new suggestions!

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 4, 2018

      I’ll have to check out Everyday Bias! Thanks for the suggestion! πŸ™‚

  • Saranya January 4, 2018

    Love your take on each of the books. I was a big fan of Shakespeare, although I never really enjoyed the dark side of his stories

    • hmellick4@gmail.com January 4, 2018

      Thank you! I will definitely be reading more of him, but at least now I know not to expect happy endings!

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