Chipping Campden

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Everything I Read in 2018: Part II

Everything I Read in 2018: Part II

Around the World in 80 Days 

I needed something light hearted to read after a few heavy hitters and this book was the perfect choice. Michael Palin is a hilarious writer and actor, who set out with a small production crew to reinact the fictional story of Around the World in 80 Days, written by Jules Vern. The team did their best to recreate the journey in a way that mimicked the original story as best they could. Using a series of back to back trains, boats, and automobiles they traversed the circumference of the globe with more than a few hiccups along the way. I was laughing out loud during so many parts of this book. There’s also a documentary available, but I don’t know if it’s as amusing as all the anecdotes Palin included in the book.

★★★★

Amazon | B&N

The Miracle Morning

This was another cheap read I found for my Kindle. The book is compact and has an almost cult like following so I thought I would check it out. Hal Elrond has a pretty inspiring story of how he overcame some crippling setbacks and still managed to build a successful business. His ideas are based on a series of activities that swears by in order to attain success in every area of your life. His style is energetic, perhaps too much so as I found myself slightly exhausted at the idea of putting all his ideas into action. His approach seems to have worked well for him and many others, but I still wasn’t convinced enough to actually give it a go. What I did take away from the book is that it’s important to prioritize the activities and things that are most important to you and do your best to tackle those items first and foremost every single day. 

★★★

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The Guernsey and Potato Peel Pie Society  

I knew I wanted to read this before watching the film starring Lily James. This book is written as a series of letters and takes place on the Isle of Guernsey during the German occupation. I wasn’t sure how well the characters would translate through a series of letters, but it absolutely worked and I fell in love with Juliet, the heroine of the story, and all the members of the GLPPPS. The movie is a little different from the book so I would still recommend reading it even if you’ve already seen the film.

★★★

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A Gentleman in Moscow

If you haven’t read anything by Amor Towles yet, you’re in for a real treat. I cannot begin to describe how beautiful his writing is. It just rolls across the page and nearly every paragraph contains a quote you’ll want to jot down and savor. A Gentleman in Moscow tells the story of Count Rostov, who is placed under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel, following the Bolshevik revolution. I know what you’re thinking. How much can happen inside the walls of a hotel? You’ll be delighted to discover just how rich the Count’s life becomes given the mundane nature of spending day after day inside the confines of only one building. It was easily one of the best books I read in 2018.

★★★★

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

This had been on my reading list even before the infamous Golden State Killer was identified. Still, it was a worthwhile read in order to learn more about the victims, detectives, and journalists who relentlessly pursued GSK all these years. The book feels a little disjointed at times, likely because the author Michelle McNamara, tragically passed away before the writing was completed. The book is a must read if you are interested in learning more about the case or true crime in general.

★★★★

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The Great Alone  

This book about a young family trying to make a living in the remote regions of Alaska was an entertaining read. The story kept me turning pages and it was interesting reading about living in one of the last wild places on earth. That said, I find Kristen Hannah’s writing a bit formulaic for my tastes. I enjoyed the book a bit more than her previous novel The Nightingale, but I can’t say that I’m eager to read anything else by the author. If you’ve really enjoyed Hannah’s other work, you’ll probably love this one.

★★★

Amazon | B&N

Rules of Civility

As you already saw above, I’m in love with the writing of Amor Towles. I ordered a copy of Towles first book as soon as I finished reading A Gentleman in Moscow. I was not disappointed and I think I may have enjoyed Rules of Civility even more than A Gentleman in Moscow. This story reminded me of The Great Gatsby and I loved all the literary references woven throughout the text. Once again, you’ll find the most beautiful lines within each paragraph and I highly recommend keeping a pen and paper nearby to transcribe them.

★★★★

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Where the Crawdads Sing

This was one of the most read books of 2018 and it’s easy to see why once you’ve read it. I loved the main character, Kya Clark, and her story really pulled at my heartstrings. The book isn’t only beautifully written, but also features a courtroom battle and murder mystery, which will definitely keep you turning the pages. The book is still on multiple best seller lists more than a year after being published. While there was a twist at the end of the book that I didn’t personally care for, I’m definitely looking forward to more from author Delia Owens.

★★★ 1/2

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Georgiana

Georgiana the Duchess of Devonshire is a fascinating woman. I had a brief knowledge of who she was prior to reading this biography, but was fascinated to learn more about her. Most historians focus heavily on her dysfunctional marriage and compulsive gambling, but Georgiana was way ahead of her time in the world of politics and a fiercely protective mother. I was also intrigued by her close relationship with Marie Antoinette. This is definitely a book for history buffs, but a must read if your interested in learning about a strong woman at a time when women were still very much oppressed.

★★★★

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Dead Mountain  

Such a nail biting true story about nine friends and hikers who fled their tent and perished from exposure in the remote region of Russia known as the Dyatlov Pass. To this day, no one knows what caused them to suddenly flee from their shelter without proper cold weather gear, though various explanations have been proposed over the years. The author also presents his own theory of what may have transpired that fateful evening. The story is riveting, but tragic and will keep you wondering what really occurred on that mountain.

★★★

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The Tattooist of Auschwitz  

This book was a huge disappointment. It’s been heavily promoted, listed as a bestseller, and the success has led to a sequel that will be released in the near future. While the main character, Lale Sokolov was a real victim of the Holocaust and tattooist of Auschwitz, the author does his memories injustice by writing a book that is factually inaccurate. Adding insult to injury, the author is a terrible writer who uses modern euphemisms throughout the dialogue. To my knowledge the author has never even bothered to visit the Auschwitz/Birkenau sites, which would have saved her from a lot of embarrassing inaccuracies throughout her text. I actually feel sorry for Lale and his family because I feel the author has taken their stories and constructed a lazy and poorly researched novel in an effort to cash an easy check. The book didn’t sit well with me after only a few chapters, but after reading this scathing review published by the Auschwitz Memorial, I knew I wasn’t the only reader who took issue with this book. As much as I would love to know the truth of Lale’s experience, I cannot in good faith recommend this book or its sequel.

★★

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Irena’s Children

The Tattooist may have been an extremely poor WWII read, but Irena’s Children knocked it out of the park. A true story of an amazing woman and the resistance network she utilized to save thousands of children from the Warsaw ghetto and almost certain death. Irena is a true hero and you simply cannot read her story without feeling waves of emotion. Irena is the type of person that we would all aspire to be like if met with similar circumstances. Well researched and well written.

★★★★★

Amazon | B&N

What have you read and enjoyed lately?

Károlyi Kastel

Károlyi Kastel

Friday Five: Volume II • Week II

Friday Five: Volume II • Week II