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March has already been a very interesting month and it’s still got a week to go! The mass quarantine and social distancing is leaving many people looking for new ways to fill their days. (And, I know others’ days have been filled in ways they’re not thrilled about.) Either way, books might be helpful, so today I have some mini-reviews of books you may want to read and others you might want to take a pass on!
3 Book I Read
The Companions by Katie M. Flynn (debut)
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Length: 272 pages
My Thoughts: If ever there was a book for right now it should be The Companions, for this is a dystopian story of various California residents during and after a long-extended quarantine. During this quarantine “companions,” life-like robots, had been created with the personalities and memories of actual people. Initially these companions were helpers or staff, but eventually they became a way for people to hang on to their loved ones. The companions themselves evolved over time, as well. Though I initially found the many characters interesting, and the story itself fascinating, by the second half of the book it became messy and jumbled. I think Flynn simply had too many elements to her story, forcing it to limp along to an ending that did not live up to the promise of its start. Grade: C
Note: I received a copy of this book from Gallery Scout Press (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel (debut)
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Length: 320 pages
My Thoughts: Darling Rose Gold is a book embodying a classic game of cat and mouse. Patty has just been released from four years in prison for going to great lengths, year after year, to make her daughter, Rose Gold, ill with a plethora of “disorders.” Surprisingly, Rose Gold herself picks Patty up from prison and brings her home and this is where the fun begins. Neither woman can be trusted. Patty obviously has a track record of causing harm and does some odd things, but Rose Gold is just plain weird. Something is definitely off. I was never quite sure about either woman, didn’t know who I could trust, and I liked that! If you were a fan of My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (my review) then I think you will definitely enjoy Darling Rose Gold. (I also think this would be great on audio.) Grade: B+
Note: I received a copy of this book from Berkley (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest thoughts.
The Shape of a Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 17, 2020
Length: 352 pages
My Thoughts: For the first half of The Shape of a Family, I was a huge fan. It’s the story of a family who tragically loses their 6-year old son in a drowning accident. It was about what grief did to the three family members left behind, Karina, 11-years old, and her parents, Jaya and Keith. I particularly liked this part of the book because Gowda got it just right. When I was 18, we suddenly lost my younger sister and so I know from experience just how hard it is to push through your own grief while watching the ones you love also suffering through theirs. It very, very difficult to stay together and Gowda told that part of her story beautifully. Unfortunately, the second half of the book got a little out there for me and slowed the story down a lot. I did feel like it came back together in the end, and got back to it’s more authentic theme of a family and grief. Grade: B-
Note: I received a copy of this book from William Morrow (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest thoughts.
3 Books I Listened To
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Narrator: Megan Hitty
Publisher: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster Audio)
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Length: 272 pages (6 hrs. 44 min.)
My Thoughts: If you’re anything like me concentration has not been easy to come by these last few weeks and I’ve found myself looking for books that might be a little lighter. That’s what I was looking for when I started listening to In Five Years, but what I got was much more. I don’t want to give much away with this one, but I can say that it begins with Dannie Cohan having a dream on the night of her engagement in which she’s living a different life with a different man. The dream was so real to Dannie, that she struggles to let it go. From there, In Five Years becomes a love story that truly took me by surprise in ways I never expected. Megan Hitty did a fabulous job narrating Serle’s story making it a pleasure to listen to. Grade: B+
Note: I received a copy of this audiobook from Simon & Schuster Audio (via Libro.fm) in exchange for my honest thoughts.
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Narrator: Dylan Moore
Publisher: Knopf (Random House Audio)
Release Date: March 24, 2020
Length: 320 pages (10 hrs. 28 min.)
My Thoughts: Easily my most highly anticipated book in the last few months, The Glass Hotel left me perplexed. It wasn’t that the story was difficult to follow or the motives complex, it was simply that it felt like a mash up of two stories that didn’t fit well together. I’m not going to bother writing much more because Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves summed it up beautifully last week, Her words describe EXACTLY how I also saw Mandel’s story, so if you want to know more, please use the link provided. I will say that I was also a little disappointed with Dylan Moore’s narration. I’ve listened to her before and enjoyed her very much, but in this particular story there were many male characters and too often they sounded like little girls. I found it very distracting. So in the end, Mandel’s writing is lovely as always, but the story itself has flaws, and I’d skip this one on audio. Grade: B-
Note: I received a copy of this audiobook from Random House Audio (via Libro.fm) in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson (debut)
Publisher: Dey Street Books (HarperAudio)
Release Date: February 4, 2020
Length: 416 pages (11 hrs. 22 min.)
My Thoughts: I’m embarrassed to admit it, but Open Book is the ONLY nonfiction I’ve read or listened to so far this year. I don’t see that changing much in the near future, so it’s great that my only foray was SO good. I’m too old to have been a serious Jessica Simpson fan. Sure, I knew who she was and the basic outline of her career path, but that was it. I’m happy to say that I found it a pleasure spending time with and getting to know Jessica. She felt very real and honest to me, willing to bare her flaws and her mistakes, taking responsibility along the way. At times, Jessica’s story both touched and inspired me and her narration made me feel like I was sitting in her living room while the two of us were chatting. Thanks, Jessica! Grade: A
PIN THESE MARCH MINI-REVIEWS ⇓
Yay- So glad you enjoyed Open Book! Sorry The Companions didn’t work for you- it sounds compelling but I also get frustrated when I feel like a book is trying to do too many things.
Open Book was such a fun, pleasant surprise. I need more books like that right now. I think I’ll try Untamed by Glennon Doyle for my next audiobook. Catherine at Gilmore Guide loved it. Hang in there!
Sarah's Bookshelves says
Thanks for the shout-out! And so glad you loved Open Book even without knowing much about JS!
Thanks for these. I guess I’ll get to the Glass Hotel in print then. I too have been picking up lighter stuff nowadays so In Five Years looks pretty good. I’ll keep it in mind.
For sure read The Glass Hotel, if you want to get to it at all. I rarely dislike the way a book is narrated, but this one was distracting to me.