The Handmaid’s Tale

9780525435006_p0_v1_s192x300I’ve wanted to read this book for quite some time. And with the release of the Hulu series, my desire to read it increased. So when my friend and I were putting together our book club list, we both had it at the top of our choices. I can see why it has taken the world by storm and especially in light of recent political events.

The Handmaid’s Tale drops you into a world where things have drastically changed. The Constitution is no longer in effect and religion rules. We follow a woman, a Handmaid, named Offred. Although that’s not her real name, but women now are called by their “owner’s” name. Women are no longer allowed to read, or write, or even form friendships. The Handmaids are even more strict about what women can and can’t do because the Handmaids have the important task of procreation.

It’s hard not to read this novel and see how the world could come to this point. Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in 1986 and it holds lessons that are true even now. The characters are unique and it’s quite easy to become attached to our main character. While Atwood does a wonderful job portraying “what could be”, my one complaint is that the ending is too sudden. Understandably so, but I wish we had more to go on. I wish that at least a good majority of the loose-ends were tied up. While I would have prefered a more solid ending, I can’t ignore how timeless this story is.

The Thirteenth Tale

81KOIdTwCVLWhen I picked up The Thirteenth Tale, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The blurb on the back doesn’t give much for a reader to go on which I suppose adds to the mystery of the book itself. I’d never read any of Diane Setterfield’s work and was curious as to her writing style and storytelling abilities. Honestly, I’m so glad that this is the first of her books that I picked up.

The Thirteenth Tale is an intriguing novel of twins. We’re introduced to Margaret Lea, a young woman who works in her father’s antique bookshop as well as being an amateur biographer. One day she is contacted by the elusive Vida Winter, the world’s most prolific storyteller. Miss Winter has also never told her true story to anyone. But suddenly, she’s decided to tell everything to Margaret. As her story unfolds, Margaret finds that amidst the mystery of this author, they have something in common.

Setterfield manages to create a web of intrigue among all of the characters. She picks at your brain and carries you through this mystery until the very end. All in all, a very unique story and one I would highly recommend, especially to book lovers.

The Hating Game

514sa3HcecL._SY346_Every now and then, I like to enjoy a romance novel. Usually I pick one of the historical ones simply because I like the setting as well as the chivalry that soaks every page. But this time, thanks to my book club, I picked up a rom-com that I probably wouldn’t have chosen if left to my own devices.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne was a whirlwind novel. Thrown into an office battlefield where two colleagues are trying to have the upperhand, Thorne introduces us to characters that are easy to love, or in this case, hate. Lucinda Hutton, assistant to one co-CEO of a publishing house, has dreamed of working for a publishing company since she was a young girl. Joshua Templeman, also assistant to another co-CEO of the same publishing house, disappointed his father years ago when he didn’t follow in the family footsteps. Both clash desperately as they vie for a new position opening up, one in which they would be the boss of the other.

Thorne creates a wonderful hate-love relationship between these two characters that eventually culminates in a breath-taking ending. While there are some steamy scenes here and there, the comedy throughout prevents The Hating Game to become “just another romance novel”. I found it incredibly hard to put down and enjoyed the flirtation Thorne creates between the reader and the characters she has developed.

The Invention of Wings

the-invention-of-wingsNot long ago, I read The Kitchen House. It was a well-written book but a story without hope. You could feel the suffocating sadness from the beginning. The Invention of Wings is similar but with more hope.

Sue Monk Kidd tells the story of a young white girl named Sarah and Handful, the slave she is gifted on her eleventh birthday. Sarah is not your typical child. She is defiant and has thoughts and opinions of her own. However, she lacks the resolve to stand up for what she believes. Kidd weaves a tale of a young girl learning to stand up for what’s right and a slave who is just trying to find her way. Over 35 years, we watch Sarah fight her lack of confidence as she tries desperately to find a way to release Handful from her position. All the while, Handful watches her mother teach her how to make a point to their white owners, from stealing green satin to faking a leg injury. Handful is a huge part of bringing Sarah out of her quiet world and showing her what’s really going on in Charleston, South Carolina.

Sue Monk Kidd, who also wrote The Secret Life of Bees, does not disappoint. Her intricate writing style builds this story into a soon to be classic. Analyzing the relationship between a slave and her owner, Kidd touches on subjects that are still happening today.

This Too Shall Pass

41q362Ic4QL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Have you ever wondered how your life would change once your parents are gone? For daughters, when their mom passes away we lose more than a parent, we lose a friend as well. This Too Shall Pass explores a daughter’s grief as she handles her mother’s passing with the help of some odd characters.

Milena Busquets attempts to tell a story of romance, grief, and laughter. However, she falls short. In this small book, just over 130 pages, she drags on and on about Blanquita’s grief. I had a hard time getting through this book and didn’t enjoy it. There were far too many characters with their own problems to keep track of. While her writing style is commendable, there wasn’t much to enjoy about the story itself. I could not feel Blanquita’s grief or her loss of control as she dealt with the death of her mother. It was hard to get attached to any of the characters in this story.

That being said, if you’re looking for a short book to grab and read, This Too Shall Pass may be the book for you. Just be sure you have the gumption to push through and finish it.

The Shack

ShackoverAs I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never been big on reading Christian-based books. Not even just Christian but religious books in general. The fiction ones come off too cheesy most of the time and the non-fiction ones are just too dry. So when my mother begged me to read The Shack, I was a little reluctant. I’d heard quite a bit about the book especially now that there is a movie on it and it hadn’t really struck my fancy. But I thoroughly enjoy discussing books with my mom, so I gave it a shot.

I have never read a more emotionally exhausting book. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. I’ve never had a book break me apart and put me back together in new ways. It was exhilarating and saddening all at the same time.

The Shack tells the story of Mackenzie “Mack” Allen Phillips and his “Great Sadness”. Three years earlier, he took his kids camping for a weekend. The day they are to leave, his youngest daughter goes missing and can’t be found. Mack carries this sadness with him for years, his children suffer from the loss of their sister, and his wife is just trying to keep the family together. Until one day, Mack receives a note in the mailbox signed by “Papa”, the name his wife calls God, asking him to go back to where his sadness all began. Is this some cruel trick played by a neighbor? Or is God really asking Mack to face his past?

Ultimately, Mack decides to go back to the shack and find what awaits him there. By doing so, Mack opens himself up to a healing like no other and a learning experience many will never believe.

William P. Young writes a marvelous tale of sadness, anger, forgiveness, and finding out what love really means. The Shack forces you to reexamine your relationship with God, whether you have one or not, and question all the things you thought you knew about religion. I can’t recommend this book enough, but fair warning, be sure you have plenty of tissues handy.

Eleanor

Bookshot_Spine_MedHave you ever read H.P. Lovecraft? You know how his books like to toy with your mind? I always find I get “brain cringes” when I read his books because I feel like someone has taken my mind and played with it. I love that feeling, but at the same time I don’t.

Jason Gurley’s Eleanor reminds me quite a bit of Lovecraft’s work, however, less creepy. In Eleanor, we’re introduced to a multitude of characters, all deeply connected in one way or another. Eleanor is a young mother who abandons her daughter and husband on a stormy night. Years later, her daughter, Agnes, has a family of her own. On another stormy day, tragedy strikes and tears the family apart. Now her daughter, Eleanor, must find a way to put her family back together if they’re ever to have a chance at happiness.

Gurley manages to take a tale and twist it into something completely different. Eleanor is unlike anything you’ve read before. Simultaneously dealing with teenagedom, family tragedy, depression, and fantasy, Eleanor is a book you won’t want to put down. With hints of mystery and saving a family, Eleanor begs the question: what if you could push a reset button? What lengths would you go to in order to bring happiness back to your family?

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.