The Midnight Library by Matt Haig is an adult fiction novel.
Nora Seed lives a solitary life in the town where she grew up. She could have been anything growing up. An Olympic swimmer, a rock star, a glaciologist, a wife and pub owner, a philosopher and more. Instead she is depressed, anxious and filled with regret.
When the only creature, her beloved cat, who has ever needed her dies, Nora decides to die. But when she chugs a bottle of pills instead of dying she is transported to The Midnight Library. A library filled with all the possible lives she might have lived and a familiar librarian asking her to choose another.
Will Nora find her perfect life before time runs out?
I got a very Christmas Carol vibe from this book, except Nora is a depressed loner instead of a Scrooge. This isn’t a bad thing but made the book feel sort of “done” before. I did like that Nora could only change a regret for a path or a decision not taken, instead of just picking a new life. She can choose which regret to change but she can’t choose where that will lead her.
I minored in philosophy, so for me all of the philosophical references and this whole idea of the multiverse appealed to me. It gave the storyline a little more depth in my opinion, rather than just being a book about life’s decisions influencing ones path.
Overall, this was a good read. Maybe not the most memorable down the road but in the moment a good one to pass the time. This one gets 3.5 stars from me.
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Book of the Little Axe by Lauren Francis-Sharma is an adult fiction novel that spans from Trinidad to the American West during the time of colonialism and westward expansion.
In 1796 Trinidad, Rosa Rendón feels out of place in her body. She longs to take over the family farm and idolizes her father. But her place is with the home and hearth and Rosa rebels from this life of domesticity. Meanwhile, Trinidad has moved from Spanish to British rule and it is unclear whether Rosa and her family, free black property owners, will be left alone in peace.
Speed ahead to 1830 and Rose is living with her husband and children in the Crow Nation in Bighorn, Montana. Her son, Victor, is about to become a man but is blocked from receiving his vision quest by secrets from Rosa’s past. Rosa must take him on a journey that will reveal his truth and her painful past.
A journey to truth and a history explained. Book of the Little Axe covers a tumultuous time in history.
This book was highlighted in the e-platform I used, so I figured I’d give it a try. Not my usual genera but I thought it might make a good one for my local adult book club. And it was one that kept my attention and kept me reading.
One of the things I really liked about this book was the narrative set up. I thought the jumps from past, to present, to the diary was really well done and contributes to the story. The story itself is arresting and captivating. And Rosa, as a character, is dynamic and witnessing the way she changes between 1796 and 1830 is really quite amazing.
I did have a problem with the language at times because there were a few spots where significant, traumatic events were happening where I didn’t really “get” what was happening until after the fact. I don’t know if this was on purpose but I felt like I was missing something.
Overall, this is a moving, well crafted novel that will appeal to a wide audience. This one gets 4 stars from me.
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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue is an adult fiction novel.
It is 1918 in Dublin and Ireland is struggling to survive the end of the war and a devastating flu pandemic. Within this turmoil is Julia, a nurse and primary provider for her brother who hasn’t spoken since returning from the front.
Julia works in the small fever maternity ward, where expecting mothers with the flu are quarantined and cared for. The hospital is understaffed and under supplied. Being all but alone to care for these women, Julia must rely on suspected Irish rebel, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, and an uninformed young volunteer, Bridie Sweeney, to make it through.
Written over the course of three days, Julia’s life will change forever by the end.
I started this one right before I went on maternity leave because my library hold came in and this was probably not the best book for a pregnant/new mom to read, which is probably why it took me so long to get through it.
Overall, this was an interesting read about a time in Ireland I wasn’t overly informed about. At first, I wasn’t sure how an entire book was going to revolve around a three bed fever maternity ward, but Donoghue succeeds in spinning a tale I wasn’t expecting with actual twists that I didn’t see coming. So sometimes it pays off to pick up a book you never even read the blurb for.
This one gets 4 stars from me. Probably higher if I had read it at literally any other time.
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His & Hers by Alice Feeney is a psychological thriller that follows an ex husband and wife as they investigate a series of murders in a small town.
Anna Andrews is hyper focused on her job, even over family and friends. She’s finally a mainstream presenter for BBC and she finally has a measure of peace. When her lunchtime slot is taken from her, Anna’s life begins to crumple and the past she left behind comes back to haunt her, dragging her back to the one place she never wanted to return to, home.
Back on the beat, Anna is asked to report on a murder in Blackdown, the sleepy little town where she grew up. When the victum turns out to be someone she knew as a girl, Anna becomes tangled in the investigation.
Lead investigator, Jack Harper and Anna’s ex-husband, also knew the victum but decides to keep this a secret. As the evidence accumulates, Jack looks more and more guilty and the only person he can turn to is Anna.
There are two sides to every story and it’s not always clear where the lies end and the truth begins.
This is probably my least favorite of Feeney’s books. I will admit, I did not see the twist coming and kudos to Feeney because she pulls that off every time I read one of her novels. I usually love her narration and the way she tells her thrillers but this one was just really hard to get into and I didn’t really care about the characters all that much.
The biggest problem I had with this book, and it probably didn’t bother anyone else, was with the character Priya. She is obviously meant to be a suspect and as a character she definitely has some red flags but other than being a red herring, she doesn’t serve much purpose for the story. She felt like a loose end and that bothered me.
Overall, this was a mediocre read for me. It gets 3 stars.
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The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty is the final book in the Daevabad Trilogy.
The Ghaziri’s have lost their hold on Daevabad and Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her Afsheem Dara taken over, but the battle is far from won. The city is in turmoil, thousands are dead and the quarters are rebelling and afraid of what this new leadership will mean. What is worse, magic is gone.
On the other side of the world Nahri and Ali have escaped the slaughter with the help of magic neither of them comprehend and now they must decide what their next move is. Should they abandon Daevabad and find a life elsewhere or will they fight for a home that never treated either of them very well.
As the city continues to crumble into mayhem, truths will be revealed that been buried for decades if not centuries. Will Daevabad ever recover and will the Jin ever get magic back?
(FYI – I totally butchered all the spelling)
This is a series that I listened to the audio book and phew, were these long audio books. The trilogy takes place over the course of several years and take place in this involved, creative fantasy world full of magical world building and twisty politics. It’s no wonder the books are each 600-800 pages, you need that space to fit everything in.
That being said, I was pleasantly surprised that ending didn’t feel rushed. I often find that trilogies start off slow, do a ton of world building in book two and then wrap up really quickly in book three. But this series had a nice pace.
As much as I liked the series and this final book, there was something missing for me that I can’t quite put my finger on. I enjoyed the story but this last one needed something and I’m not sure what. Which is why I am going to give it 3.5 stars.
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