What Karin is Reading
A good book makes you want to live in the story. A great book gives you no choice.
This is a story of English women who history wasn't allowed to remember. A real page-turner, stay-up-late book about a brave ring of undercover spies send to occupied France to derail and sabotage German plans. Based on true events; with a bit of romance and mystery this is great historical fiction.
I thoroughly enjoyed this much anticipated companion to Moloka'i. The focus is on Ruth and her loving adoptive Japanese family. They face racial prejudice and internment after Pearl Harbor. Her reunion with her mother (Rachel from previous book) is touching. Don't worry if you don't remember details of MolokaI or never read it - this is a historical novel full of heart, hope, and family.
I have found Lynne Olson to be a fabulous historian and thorough researcher, and her book of Fourcade is no different. Olson explores not only the French Resistance but explains the role of the Vichy government as well as British MI6 and the Allies invasion of France. There is plenty of great narrative which creates cinematic tension and easy reading. This is a great companion to many recently published books about the role of women during WWII and a must read for history buffs.
An engaging historical fiction/love story with a fun twist. Jillian Cantor did a superb job of capturing my heart and transporting me back and forth in time and location. Shows how the past impacts the future and how strong love can transcend time. Hard to put down and I loved it!
Heartbreaking, multigenerational novel of a Korean family who has relocated to Japan. This shines light on a lost slice of history and it celebrates ingenuity, perseverance, culture, and family. Shows what immigrates sacrifice to make a home in the world. If Dickens were writing now this would be the result.
Yeah, another great read from Lisa See. Here we follow the life of Young-sook, a Korean diver. Not only does this expertly cover her friendships, family-life and the fascinating profession of free-diving but is a great perspective of Korea's turbulent history. I loved the testing of friendships, the strengths of women and the richly developed characters. Great historical fiction!
Themes of guilt, regrets, and shame are center in this engrossing novel. It is a well-written story of survival in dangerous circumstances. The dynamics between characters is extremely well portrayed as well as the grey shades of morality. Serious and thoughtful!
I was immediately immersed in the early 1900's and the world of socialite Eliza, Royal Russian Sofya, and peasant Varinka. These are strong, determined woman living through extraordinary circumstances and their stories are cleverly intertwined. This is a standalone but you will recognize the daughter, Caroline, from Lilac Girls. This is engrossing historical fiction at its finest and I liked it more than Lilac Girls.
Complex, unreliable characters, clever plot, compelling writing and a humdinger of a twist although the signs were telling. This is a great debut psychological thriller. Pick it up and stay up all night!
When I want a good story to get lost in Adriana Trigiana fills the bill. Here big Italian personalities come to life and sing their way into your heart. Sweeping saga of big band era, post war boom and womens lib. Heartfelt, endearing love story!
Genuine and honest! Michelle shares her childhood, life in the White House and the time in-between with grace and class. Shows how important character is and the importance of surrounding yourself with good people. I found myself wanting every young adult and young parent to read this. How to be a conscientious American!
Adventures in the untamed Old West. Outlaws, crooked politicians and an engaging multi-dimensional sharp-shooter makes for a great read. Excellent depiction of the harshness of life on the Western Frontier and the gritty lawless people who inhabit it. Has themes of coming-of-age, gender ambiguity, loyalty and loss and shows how love can cross lines of race and class. Expect a movie! Highly recommended.
You'll laugh along as Noah shows you what life is like growing up in South Africa. This gives great exposure to another culture as well as some hilarious adventures and heartfelt relationships. Very good!
Marie Benedict again brings to light the unknown interesting life of a fascinating woman. Hedy Lamar is stunning and smart. A natural actress and a knock-out Hedy catches the eye of a devious, ambitious Fritz. As Austria gets drawn into Nazi reign things heat up; Hedy escapes and Hollywood snatches her up. Meanwhile she devises a communications devise that proves she is more than a pretty face. Well written and a great read.
I loved this historic novel told through distinctively different characters. Storylines are wonderfully woven together, the plot excellent, the imagery cinematic and the history, especially the Russian pilots, fascinating. I found this better than her earlier work, The Alice Network, and hard to put down.
A charming easy-read about the historic English gunner girls during WWII with lots of romance. Contemporary parallel story weaves together past and present with a good amount of mystery thrown in. Great characters who share love and hope. Good if you liked Lilac Girls.
Zusak is a literary genius. Themes of loss, grief and love ring true throughout this sweeping monumental book. I felt the pacing and interlacing stories was integral to the feel, but it does take some concentration at the beginning. Shows the unbreakable bond between brothers, how they deal with the loss of extraordinary women, and how to bridge forgiveness. Heartbreaking beautiful!
Kate is back and I was racing abound Paris with her hot on the trail of terrorists, assassins, computer attacks - or are they? Unputdownable! Pavone is a brilliant suspense storyteller and Kate a wonderful, complicated character. Make sure you've read Expats and pick this up immediately.
This cinematic debut is all ROMANCE. Easy-reading and likeable, sympathetic characters in a satisfying read. For those who believe in love at first sight and true love. Good if you like Bridget Jones Diary or the movie Love Actually.
Follows three generations of women in the family their lives, loves, regrets. Lots of themes: infidelity, addiction, illness and the repetition of mistakes. Will lead to great discussion. Very Ann Tylerish.
This slow-burning thriller has great sense of time and place. It feels like prose of the 1880's yet fast-paced. As in Gentleman in Moscow I fell in love with the main character, Brodie. The passionate pursuit of love at all costs. One to savor!
This is a bit crime novel, a bit adventure story, a tale of redemption and a journey of hope and discovery all bottled up in FANTASTIC book. When a distraught mother of two takes to the road and collides with mobster Frank who knows too much about the JFK's assignation things really heat up.
I both listened and read this and felt as though I was sitting in the best history class ever - taught by the sage and impressive Madeleine Albright. She is a keen observer and delivers an easy-to-understand look at leaders who have threatened democracy. Her concluding questions are thoughtful and serves as excellent starting points for discussion. Outstanding!
Piccoult is again bold and daring in A Spark of Light. She attacks social issues head on; shows many viewpoints and moral complexities. Here we have differing voices representing a cross-section of America on the issue of abortion. This is full of drama and parallel stories and is another key book that will lead to important discussions. A page-turner too!
Great prose and spot on language drew me in immediately and as always Atkinson's writing delivered. I found this an original WWII story with a bit of English wit and a political warning thrown in - Nationalism is the first step on the road to Fascism. Fans of her previous works will not be disappointed.
This is an emotional ride. There is a quiet desperation in the broken characters that makes them human and heartbreaking. Excellent writing especially how the back story is revealed and the differing points of view. Dubus offers neither judgement nor forgiveness but shows the consequences of violence. Asks the question - How do we live with our mistakes? Much to talk about.
Based on interviews with Lale Sokolov, Morris has written a compelling and unforgettable love story that shows the atrocities of the famed concentration camp as well as hope, humanity and generosity of spirit. Good for both men and woman, young and old. Recommended if you liked Lilac Girls or Beneath the Scarlet Sky.
Bryan Stevenson is a stone catcher and saint. Just Mercy tells of his law practice and work to assist people who have been unjustly tried, sentenced and jailed. He fights abusive power, poverty and despair. Very moving. Good reading for adults too.
The years leading up to the civil war are expertly depicted through the eyes of Livvie and her brothers who have just arrived from Ireland. They must confront slavery and deal with injustices and their own morals as they forge their paths in America. Different and hard to put down.
With the feeling of Dr. Zhavigo and Corelli's Mandolin this is a fabulous story of love, war and medicine. Winter soldier takes us to a make-shift hospital where we view horrific conditions and are shown the complexities of WWI. The shining part of the story is the strong character development - an excellent look at guilt and atonement. Wonderful writing that captures the tragedies of war but also the beauty of small mercies. A literary masterpiece but not for the faint-of-heart.
A poignant story set in the 30's and 40's including interesting American-front WWII history. A hard-to-put-down story with themes of betrayal, jealousy and loyalty. Good portrayal of estranged siblings each harboring a secret and their differing perspectives held throughout their lives. Good if you liked My Brilliant Friend.
A fun, entertaining read. 1920's with art heists, con men, obsession, love and some real-life characters. As lush and colorful as the paintings described in this fast-paced story. Good unreliable narrator and characters. Entertaining!
I like to read short stories slowly (usually in between novels) to savor their complex beauty. These stories are some of the best I've ever read. Hits of humor, coming-of age, relationships, some a bit edgy. I found this creative, eclectic and brilliant - although not surprising coming from Hanks.
Here's a tender love story set around the Great Depression. Likable characters with grit and morals. Easy reading with historically details and substance. For fans of Once We were Yours.
This is a fun, rollicking story taken loosely from the real-life of Cathy Williams, the first woman to serve with the Buffalo Soldiers. Ex-slave disguised herself and had a true Western adventure. This is a heart-breaking page-turner set after the Civil War. Super fun and super good - a different kind of historical story. Similar in feel to Good Lord Bird.
With a very English feel and excellent war time Blitz descriptions Girl with No Name is a heartwarming story. The frightening journey of a Jewish child sent to London during WWII in hopes of survival. This is an excellent Young Adult choice or for those who are ready for an easy read to get lost in.
Explorer Kate Harris writes part memoir, part history lesson, part science exploration. Great narrative writing filled with sentiment, a bit of humor and excellent pacing make this a reading journey to savor. Kate reminds us the World is wild and full of wonder. Highly recommended and good if you liked It's What I Do.
Here's is a fictional tale around the shameful true story of child abduction and exploitation. Told in present day and 1939. Rill fights to keep her siblings together and safe, while Avery uncovers dark family secrets. I found this a bit predictable but compelling. Explores themes of family and appalling corruption. Good if you liked Lilac Girls.
Kingsolver is at her best in this social commentary with alternating narratives set in Vineland, a Utopian devised community. Real-life characters and situations are well interjected and the parallels between evolution disbelief and intolerance and the current political climate are brilliant. This is a thinking novel, literary and well written. The differing tones of the 1860's and present are especially well done. I appreciated the voice and reasoning of Tig (20-something) who has unfiltered political and social views and the most insight. Walls crumble both figuratively and metaphorically and Unsheltered shows it is survival of the fittest brought on by hope and perseverance. Much to contemplate and discuss.
Here's a good story of friendship - girls from different backgrounds and with someone as old as your grandfather. Also, good if you like feel good stories with a dog. Good for girls who love but have outgrown Ivy and Bean.
Crawdads is a unique compelling coming-of-age survival story with a good mystery setting. It is also a beautiful explorations of nature. Owens is a wildlife scientist and her lyrical writing of the North Carolina shore will awaken your senses. The analogies between nature and life are excellent. Owens has also created one of the strongest characters I've encountered, Kya. I longed to get back to reading and being drawn into Kya's world yet didn't want it to end. Outstanding in every way! Good if you liked Poisonwood Bible or Secret Wisdom of the Earth.
Satisfying little gem of a book with a fast-moving plot and vivid characters. At the core its a love story that shows the ironies of war. I found this full of suspense, action and even a bit of humor. Good if you liked Skeletons at the Feast and City of Thieves.
My favorite McLain book. Marty is complicated and fascinating, a ground-breaker in journalism; she is considered one of the most important war correspondents of the 20th century. I loved her voice throughout. McLain shows the ups and downs of her marriage to Hemmingway and paints an independent, brave and ambitious woman who follows her dreams through a mans world. Read it even if you are tired of Hemmingway.
A young mothers life is interrupted when her writer husband goes missing. She and her daughters try to continue with their life plan of living in Paris or is the husband planning for them? Do they really see him around corners, across the Pont Nuef? Has he left clues in their French bookstore? This is a story of coming to terms with abandonment and self-discovery with great parallels to classic French stories. A literary romance/mystery.
Delightful, heartwarming and FUN. I love the diversity of Hoffman she is a great storyteller. This is a great easy read to get lost in. Excellent characters infused with historical and personal events in an odd type of love story. Will appeal to the little bit of magic in all of us. Unputdownable!
A well-researched different type of meandering historically fiction. Explores the impact of WWII on women and loss. Scenes in the Naval Yard and ocean survival are compelling and strong; I found Anna a wonderful complex character and the added bit of mystery a bonus. I often like when the reader knows more than the main character. I appreciated the depictions of the sea and how Egan uses it as a character.
This book follows the parallel lives of seven Camp Ritchie boys, from their immigration to America early in WWII, their enlistment into the Army, training in military intelligence, returning to Europe during Normandy and subsequent invasions, interrogation of German POWs, the discovery of the concentration camps and finally the search for their Jewish relatives. Well written and researched.
An easy to read tale especially if you like good wine, luscious landscapes, a bit of romance, family secrets, pulled together with WWII history. Although a few relationships are underdeveloped this is tender-hearted, well-paced, and a page-turner.
When I'm in the mood for a beach/vacation read I often turn to Beatriz Williams. There is always romance, intrigue, and scandals without being fluffy. Summer Wives may be my favorite to date. New England charming locale (think Fisher Island), a main character whose voice speaks straight to you, handsome boy, family secrets - just right for escape reading. Great audio narration too.
Taken from real-life events and WWII heroines, Lilac Girls shows atrocities from the Holocaust not well known. Told through three differing women all with a unique voice. Accessible for many readers.
A story of betrayal and friendship. Excellent introduction to American Interments camps during WWII. Outstanding writing that we have come to know from Monica Hesse.
An easy-read girlfriend thriller. Two non-reliable narrators navigate complex and tragic situations and their volatile relationship. The setting is lush 1950's Tangier. This has a bit of a Shakespearean feel crossed with Gone Girl suspense. Expect a movie.
A look at what a future America might be like during and after a second civil war. Brilliant writing and thought provoking. Many themes - creating a terrorist, manipulation, loyalty - surround the reader in this hard-to-put-down dystopia tale. Omar El Akkad is a journalist turned novelist who understands the extremes of civil war, acts of despair and the atrocities people can project on others. I found myself sympathetic with characters I didn't think I would, unsettled but entranced. This is an intense look at war and damage it causes. Good if you liked The Road by McCarthy.
Empowering story about women, culture and class in India and how the country is rapidly modernizing. An inspiring reminder of the power of love and the strength of spirit in difficult circumstances. Although not necessary I feel this will be most enjoyed by those whove read The Space Between Us.
Break out the processco and get ready for a fun read. Isolde is 60, sexy, feisty and has a nose for adventure. Murder, sun, Euro flair all in a lighthearted mystery set in Sicily. Think racy, quirky Miss Marble!
Minza seamlessly weaves people and time into a beautiful tale of a family caught between cultures and the rocky road they navigate. It is very insightful into a Muslim Indian American family after 911. Explores honest and complex feeling, beliefs and values both personal and religious. I thought this was lovely, heartbreaking and heartwarming. Shows that as Americans we are more alike than we are different.
I love the lushness of a good African tale. While this is set around the horror of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda it is about how sorrow and pain are broken through by goodness and forgiveness. Many themes are brought in: motherhood, civil rights, abandonment, loss, grief, the effects of violence and vengeance. I loved the writing, the diversity of characters, the pace and how secrets were revealed throughout. Every single part of this book is excellent. Great literary read with lots of substance and much to discuss.
We've heard of the recent atrocities committed in Syria, and while this outstanding novel isn't political, it shows the plight of refugees and the trials political strife can have on families. This is lyrical and maps times past and present in parallel stories as two young girls traverse the Middle East and across North Africa in their quest for home. I reread many passages for their beauty. This is an amazing debut from a talented new author. This requires a bit of focus at the beginning but I was captivated and you will be too. Good if you liked the Kite Runner and magical novels of exotic places.
Easy fun read of endearing characters in 1920s New York. Real-life Colonel Jacob Ruppert wrapped up alluring fiction.
Wow! Amazing writing from a fresh new talent raised in extraordinary circumstances. Somehow Westover is bold enough to rise above her wild upbringing; while being torn with family loyalty and duty she discovers who she is, who she was and who she can be. This is a stunning inspiring story that is so well told I am in complete awe. Unforgettable! Great audio too!
Bold, timely and well written speculative fiction on the lives of women whose choices are restricted. Zumas explores the consequences of making abortion illegal through the eyes of five very different women. The writing is a bit experimental but I feel it works extremely well and by removing the women as subjects it shows their roles in society. It is an easy-to-read complex book of motherhood, identity and fertility issues.
I found this so believable I wanted it to be true! Lawson does a fabulous job in this clever novel. The linear/non-linear chapters and structure of the narrative really works and adds tension and anticipation. I found the tone pitch perfect. This is a brilliant, complex tale of possibilities and hard to put down. Great historical mystery!
Excellent suspense-mystery-thriller ...but more than that...a polished, yet gritty literary exploration of loss, friendship and the quest for truth. Strong character development and writing. Hart is a master storyteller.
Tom wants a normal life, but his is anything but...he's 400 years old! Tom takes us back and forth across centuries; we met great historical characters and experience dramatic changes in the world. We feel his loneliness, loss and love. Fun, clever speculative fiction. Good if you liked Discovery of Witches, Time and Again or The Little Book.
I knew this was a good book as I was sad when I finished. This is the story of women and motherhood, the pain of unhappy parents and childhood, mothers who don't mother and women that do. I fell in love with the young girls in the story. Excellent writing and strong feeling of place. Good if you like stories about forging a home in other cultures and finding family.
Jodi Picoult's books take serious social issues and packs them with a punch. Great Small Things deals with race through three different narrators: a black nurse, a white supremacist, and a public defender working on the first big case of her career. This is told with brutal honesty and lots of heart there were times I was uncomfortable, parts that got under my skin. This is Picoult at her best and a great audio! This quote from the author sums it up - "I wrote it because I believed it was the right thing to do, and because the things that make us most uncomfortable are the things that teach us what we all need to know.
Mokhtar is likeable and his story interesting. I've always appreciated Egger's biographies and writing. I'll taste coffee with a new appreciation -- it is amazing that a cup doesn't cost $50.
An easy-to-read honest memoir of growing up in Kentucky and Ohio. Gives great insight to this regions families struggles and mind set. I loved J.D. he is smart, intuitive, and would be wonderful addition to a relevant conversation. The writing of this was timely and I appreciated his perception.
Wild, arid and teeming with corruption; two brothers face the harsh realities of life in the 1880s Australian outback. Great descriptive writing! A tale of revenge, guilt, survival and how to be human. I found this savagely beautiful and loved it. Will be one of the best of 2018.
I found this rich in setting and characters and although Hannah is addressing serious themes the writing flows with emotional intimacy. Leni grow up quickly and with many harsh burdens. This is a testament to youth, persistence, fortitude and relationships that bond. Hard to put down.
At times funny, at times sad this is the story of an elderly woman looking back on her life that is permanently scarred by WWII. She is a tough-as-nails, unsentimental narrator with a quick wit. I found this tragic, occasionally brilliant although somewhat scattered. Herras life is tragic but she lives by her own terms. Very Icelandic/Scandinavian in feel. Good if you like slightly different literary reads.
Interesting and relevant book. A look back at key women and components of WWII that changed the course of the war. Young women were recruited to work with the Army and Navy as code breakers. This story, and the identities of the code girls, was classified for years. Mundy blends stories of the women and their working conditions with war history, including the rivalry between the Navy and the Army; the author does an amazing job of making this an interesting read.
GREAT captivating story in the vein of Unbroken! Based on the life of Pino Lello during WWII. Pino is a normal teenager in Milan when the war tests his strength, faith and loyalty. Full of car chases, daring mountain escapes, evil Nazis and Fascists, love and secrets. Sullivan did plenty of research and although I found his writing a bit simple I couldn't put this down. Great audio too!
Erdrich stretches her wings in this Evolutionary-changed world. She has infused her American Indian backgrounds that we have come to know from her in a future that is dire for humankind - evolution is running backward! Written in the form of a letter to pregnant Cedars unborn child; I found this a well-crafted questioning story with religious undertones that left me slightly uneased. I kept hoping for circumstances to improve while knowing they likely wouldnt. Good for fans of The Handmaids Tale with more character engagement.
How would you live your life if you knew when it would end? Four siblings grapple with this haunting question in different ways. Thought provoking and conceptually well written where the moral and central themes tie together. Benjamin explores existential questions in everyday life. Fate vs. chance vs. free will. Some strong sexual content. Great for discussion!
New York neurosurgeon looks anew at life after interactions with three women: mother, fiance and patient. I found the interactions between the doctor and the women poignant despite all of their flaws. This carries a haunting quality to it even through the richness of writing. The importance of connection in music was an interesting theme. Excellent choice for a literary read.
Murphy again shows his astonishing command of language in his second book, Tiny Americans. This is a poignant look at a broken family. The children struggle with their parents actions, and their father takes years to forge a path of redemption. There are beautiful passages as well as heart-breaking moments. Each chapter is a vignette of a portion of a life and an excellent study of character. I found this introspective and heartfelt, and an outstanding look at forgiveness and finding yourself.
Get ready for a romp. Classic outstanding English humor with lots of heart and quirky dysfunctional families. An easy festive read. Good if you like Jojo Moyes, or the movies Death at a Funeral or Love Actually. Very solid and enjoyable.