1) The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks. 3/5 stars. This is the story of King David from the Bible. We all know the story of David and Goliath, but I didn't realize how much more there is about him in the Bible than that. The author didn't really have to make up much of the plot. But she definitely fleshes out the characters and adds details and texture to make it seem so much more real. It's pretty grim though. So much death and destruction. So much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
2) The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. 4/5 stars. This novel is about Tom and Isabel, a married couple who keep a lighthouse off the coast of Australia in the 1920's. One day a rowboat washes ashore with a dead man and a living baby. Isabel, mourning a recent stillborn child and two miscarriages, convinces Tom to keep the baby as their own. The aftermath of that decision is devastating to all parties. This book was very good, and beautifully written, but VERY sad. I felt for the characters so much! I had to keep reminding myself that they were fictional.
3) The Lake House by Kate Morton. 4/5 stars. I enjoyed this book even though it's impossibly far-fetched and unrealistic. Despite dealing with similar issues to The Light Between Oceans (a lost child, the horrors of WWI) it didn't seem at all real and therefore wasn't nearly as sad. There is a fairy tale quality to all Kate Morton's books. This one is the typical Kate Morton plot, toggling back and forth between a mysterious and tragic secret in the 1930's, and the present day when it's finally unravelled. I do like the rose-colored glimpse into life on the grand English country estate in the first half of the twentieth century.
4) Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart. 3/5 stars. This book is based on the true story of "one of the nation's first female crime fighters!" Set in New Jersey in 1914, Constance Kopp becomes involved in a year-long battle with a ruthless factory owner (and leader of a "Black Hand" gang), and finds out that she's a surprisingly good partner for the town Sheriff. It sounds like a book I'd like, but I never really got into it. It was a little boring. Probably because it's based on real events which aren't often as truly sensational as fiction can get away with.
5) Vanessa and her Sister by Priya Parmar. 4/5 stars. The sister in the title is Virginia Woolf, but this book takes place before she is married, in 1905-1910, when the four Stephen siblings live together and host a weekly get-together of writers and artists later known as the Bloomsbury Group. The book is told through Vanessa's diary entries plus some letters and telegrams between other characters. It was an interesting glimpse into a more "bohemian" lifestyle in early 1900s England.
6) Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova. 4/5 stars. This is the story of an Irish-Catholic family in Boston whose patriarch, Joe O'Brien, is diagnosed with Huntington's Disease. It was an insightful glimpse into a terrible disease that I didn't know anything about before. Another of the main issues is that genetic testing is available for his four children if they want to find out if they'll get the disease. I read this book for the A Slice of Brie Book Club. Join in on April 20th for more discussion!
Swede's Book of the Month: Dinosaur Rescue by Penny Dale. What's better than dinosaurs AND rescue vehicles?! A winning combination for the two-year-old set, I tell you.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of these books if you've read them!