Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

 

vinegar girlThis book kept me completely content through a long plane ride, the sign of a good read.

Our protagonist, Kate, is stuck in her spinster existence. She lives at home with her quirky, scientist father, a self-centered much younger sister. She has a dead-end job teaching preschool. Her life is ripe for romance. However, the road is never easy, and it proves to be rough in this story as well. Her father is convinced a green card marriage is the perfect solution for his daughter. It will keep his lab assistant in the country, and keep his daughter close to home. This plan is insulting to Kate, to say the least, but a bit of an exciting prospect for the lab partner. A sweet story of love and softening of hearts ensues, it is funny, quietly beautiful, and satisfying to the end. A lovely re-telling of a Shakespeare classic. It is compact and endearing.

To Purchase this book on Amazon click here:

Vinegar Girl: A Novel (Hogarth Shakespeare)

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

 

the underground railroadColson Whitehead uses an actual railroad under the ground as the center of the affecting tale of a slave’s s fight to be free. Cora is the lowest of all slaves on the plantation. Living in the hob, where the least desirable and most abused slaves are sentenced to live. She tends one small plot of dirt and grows a handful of her own vegetables. Even this pitiful plot of land is destroyed by a fellow slave. One night Cora takes her chance, and runs, beginning her journey on the train to freedom. With a fellow slave, her journey begins rough, and proves to be a grueling fight to live in peace. Stories of the horrors of slavery are nothing new in our literature, yet this book gets deep into the core of the depraved beliefs that kept freedom from so many people. Slave catchers hunt for Cora the entire book, bent on revenging her betrayal, and ultimately cleansing the world of black people. These horrors need to be read about and thought about, because prejudice is still alive today. This book is a sad journey, you will feel the depths of despair with Cora, but also clutch to hope alongside her. The Underground Railroad is an impeccable work of fiction. Let us all never forget the history before us and work to right the wrongs.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Underground Railroad (Pulitzer Prize Winner) (National Book Award Winner) (Oprah’s Book Club): A Novel

A Short History of WWI in 3 Books

My knowledge of the first World War was sparse, I knew a ruler was assassinated which sparked conflict, but the rest was fuzzy. When these three books landed in my lap it felt serendipitous. All the history snapped together to and fell into place. War is devastating, but it is necessary to understand our history in order to understand our present. Read these three books and you will have a good picture of what led to the first world war and ultimately the second world war. Happy Reading!

Who Was Winston Churchill by Ellen Labreque

churchillA children’s book? Yes! All adults should read a few pieces of literature written for children. This book will take you less than 2 hours to read and will give you a perfect overview of the major events which took place during both world wars. Additionally, Churchill’s life is highly inspiring, he overcame major career setbacks and some of his best work was accomplished after 50 years of age.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Who Was Winston Churchill?

Dead Wake by Erik Larson

dead wakeUnrest in Europe is simmering as the Lusitania, an enormous, luxury passenger vessel is setting sail from New York to Liverpool. The day before the Lusitania was to leave port in the US, Germany stated in the New York Times they were going to be using submarines to torpedo ships to their hearts desire. The United States was remaining neutral while Europe was on the brink of war. Dead Wake explains the tension in world relations, the physics of ocean liners, submarines, u-boats, and torpedoes, all in a gripping narrative. The story is tragic and fascinating. The events in this book are vital to understanding how World War I unfolded, and the catalyst that moved the United States out of their neutral stance. The sinking of the Lusitania proves minute, mundane decisions matter, history matters, and global relations matter.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

family-romanovThe plight of last reigning Tzar of Russia is a haunting story of privilege, power, and revolution.  All of this history was happening while World War I was happening, yet at this time Russia and the United States had a peace agreement. This book is impeccably researched and incredibly readable. Candace Fleming creates a narrative of life in imperial Russia, and it is captivating. While Nicholas and his family dined on the finest of foods, even by today’s standards, the average person in Russia was starving in a small shack. While they adorned their gowns with jewels and traveled to  monstrous houses, conflict was brewing and it would prove fatal. Before reading this book I knew the basic history of Russia and the Romanov family. However, now I understand all the factors and political powers leading up to their execution. If you get bogged down with non-fiction, try this, it reads effortlessly, and the story is riveting. If you love Non-fiction, or if you read to be informed, rather than entertained, this is a perfect novel.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia (Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children (Awards))

 

 

 

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

I was humbled to learn I was completely unaware of the history of the Orphan Trains in the US. In 1850, there were 30,000 homeless children in New York City. In an effort to help these children, they were put on trains and taken to live on farms in the midwest. From 1853 to the early 1900’s thousands of children were relocated, this movement is credited with starting the Foster Care System. You can read more about the history here:

Childrens Aid Society

orphan-train

Photo credit to the Childrens Aid Society Website

orphan train book coverOrphan Train, the historical fiction novel set in this time period is outstanding. We meet three characters, Neeve, an orphan in 1929, Molly, aging out of the modern day foster system, and Vivian, a 90 year old woman who Molly is placed to serve community service.  Their stories fit together perfectly, their struggles are different, but also a mirror image of one another. Each womans life is rich with emotion, perseverance, and redemption. A perfect historical fiction novel. The Audiobook was fantastic, I think it added to the book because of the characterization through different voices.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: Orphan Train

To Purchase the Audiobook, click here: Orphan Train: A Novel

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

 

the nest 2A father’s small, wise, and calculated investment has grown into a large sum of cash. For the Plumb siblings, this cash is the security blanket to cover up a multitude of mistakes. Bea, Leo, Jack, and Melody Plumb are all in different states of upheaval in their lives. Their fathers nest egg is about to be distributed equally to all four of them, and they are counting on that money to fix their problems. Sadly, money cannot fix all problems. The siblings are all forced to examine their lives and relationships with each other. The Nest makes a fantastic book club choice because the characters are outrageous, frustrating, relatable, and sometimes horrid people. However, some characters transform into better versions of themselves, and the story comes full circle in a satisfying ending. Read it with a friend so you can talk about it, it is book that lends itself to discussion. Our book club agreed we all liked it better after we had talked it through

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here: The Nest