Reading List 2022

Protect The Prince by Jennifer Estep
Rating: 4.0 stars * * * * 
This was my second reading of this book to prepare for the third book in this series, Crush The King. This one had a bit too much romance for my taste, but I still really liked the story as well as the main character, Evie. Onto the next book in the series!  

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Rating: 5 stars * * * * * 
Wow. Just…wow. The book starts out a little slow, and the dialogue sugests that the characters are not quite as realistic as they might seem, but stick with it. Please. Young Billy is one of my favorite characters, but I actually like them all. This is noit a simple story about two boys traveling the “Lincoln Highway” to reuinite with their mother. Rather, it is a journey about four boys who had some bad luck come their way, but with simple and good intentions. And what a journey! Hang on to the story and anecdotes until the last quarter of the book—you won't be disappointed!  

Kill The Queen by Jennifer Estep
Rating: 4.5 Stars * * * * 
I re-read this book from several years back because the latest book in the series came out and I wanted to refresh my memory about the story. I’m so glad I did! I liked the book better than when I read it in 2019, and as such gave it an additional half a star.  

1356 by Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 5 Stars * * * * *
What an amazing book! This is the last book in the Archer Series, and was just as good as the others in that series. War is brewing, and the church is involved. A famous religous sword is discovered that is promised to change the outcome of the war, but who will find it first? Thomas, or the church? Full of action and lots of battle scenes, this book was pure joy to read.   

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
Rating: 5.0 Stars * * * * *
What a fun and interesting book this was! It’s all about life in 1938 in Manhattan, New York, with a mixture of the very rich and the not-so-rich. It very much reminded me of The Great Gatsby, with Katey playing the narration role of Nick. Lots of colorful characters, and such a great and interesting ending. I really enjoyed this book!

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell
Rating: 4.0 Stars * * * *
This is not a typical book I would usually read, but it was gifted to me and I read it during my vacation. Turns out it was actually really good. It’s a story of a somewhat dysfunctional family that has drifted apart due to lots of baggage and events from the past. The father has disappeared, and his wife has no idea where he can be. So she calls her adult children, and they all gather in England to figure out what happened to him. I really enjoyed the family histories and the dynamics and conversations between them as they are trying to unravel the mystery of the disappearing father. All of the family drama, baggage, and prior events come to light as they look for their father. The ending rather surprised me, so I’m anxiously awaiting for others to read this so I can discuss my theory about the ending of the book. Like Hamlet (her later book), the writing is really well done and the characters are great. 

Dodge City by Tom Clavin
Rating: 4.0 Stars * * * *
I was on vacation in the west coast when I ran across this book in a bookstore in Moab, Utah. I was intrigued because the author painstakingly navigated through all of the built up hype and myth surrounding the West, Dodge City, Wyatt Earp, and Bat Masterson. I loved the stories told in this book, and how it was written. At times I had to remind myself it wasn’t a novel! So well written, and lots of action (complete with gunfights, cowboys, and descriptions of the wild west).

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Rating: 5.0 Stars * * * * *
This book was a great retelling of the Iliad by Homer through the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles friend. So full of detail, all the way from Achilles’ childhood to his unfortunate death. The book was beautifully written, and dives deep into the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. Having recently read The Iliad by Homer, I loved this book.

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
Rating: 5.0 Stars * * * * *
Simply put, this was an amazing book that I just couldn’t put down. It was so intense, and the characters we so well developed I felt  like I was living with them as part of my family. The story takes place in England in the late 1500’s, and the descriptions and settings described in the book matched the time period perfectly. Although you might think this book is about young Shakespeare,  it’s really about Agnus, his wife, and the trauma and difficulties she faces. As you might guess, back in the day Hamnet was another spelling and pronunciation of Hamlet, which not only refers to the play, but also Shakespeare’s son. I highly recommend this book!

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Rating: 4.0 stars * * * *
This book is about a post-apocalyptic world where climate change has destroyed society, turning human beings into scavenging animals. The main character, Lauren, sees a better world through a new way of thinking she has created called Earthseed. This book reminded me a lot of “The Road” in the sense that a lot of the book is about Lauren’s journey outside of the safe walls of her neighborhood and the situations and people she encounters along her journey. I really enjoyed this book, although I felt the ending was sort of abrupt. I wanted to read more!

Under The Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
Rating: 4.0 stars * * * * 
Oh my. What an amazing book, but also a dark and depressing journey. I love the way to book is structured, with 12 pages representing both the year that has passed since the opening chapter, and the fact that the story essentially takes place in a single day. I feel like this is one of those books that needs to be read twice to fully appreciate the deep prose and in some cases, sheer poetry of the text. I am amazed with the complexity of the Consul and his struggle with alcoholism. I also found Yvonne, his wife, a very interesting character in the book. I will definitely reread this book before the end of the year to gain a better understanding of all that is going on in it, and to ponder the many aspects of symbolism in the book (such as the horse with the number 7 branded on it’s leg). I found Hugh to be rather tedious, and sort of “extra” in the whole story, but I suppose he was needed to carry on some of the conversations. 

Sharpes Assassin by Bernard Cornwell
Rating: 5.0 stars * * * * *
I so much enjoyed this new installment to the original Sharpe series (one of my favorite series of all time). This book takes place just days after the Battle of Waterloo when the allied forces were about to march into Paris. Richard Sharpe, along with Harper, are sent ahead to rescue a spy and stop an inevitable assassination of the Duke of Wellington. This book was everything I expected from the original Sharpe series, and precedes Sharp’s Devil, the last book in the series. Great stuff! 

Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson
Rating: 1.0 star *
I had to give up on this book about 1/4 the way through because it just kept droning on about insignificant things and never really got to the point of the story. I started getting really bored with the book and the constant pointless tangents and descriptions of things. I really didn’t like the book at all.

The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie
Rating: 5.0 stars * * * * * 
I enjoyed this book so much. In the last of this series, the Union monarchy, fresh out of battle from the prior book, collapses and is taken over by the people. Meanwhile, Rikke has her own problems in the North, which is also under attack. I couldn’t help but see the close parallels with the Union problems and how America struggled in its beginnings as well to establish a new government. There were so many twists and turns in this book, but I won’t give them away. Needless to say, this Abercrombie book is well worth reading (but you have to read the previous 2 in this series to understand what’s going on).

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
Rating: 5.0 stars * * * * * 
What an amazing story. So well written, and the characters were ones that I felt like I personally knew. Imagine a lost accent Greek story, and a timeline going from the late 1400’s in Constantinople all the way through the late 2050’s on a spacecraft heading toward a distant planet to revitalize civilization. That, and sprinkle in a little bit of Homer (The Odyssey). Sounds crazy I know, but it works so well. And the ending! Well, I won’t give to away, but all I can say is that you will be truly surprised. Each character comes alive and is intertwined in this story, and it all comes together. Definitely a great read, one that kept me awake through the long winter nights while reading this book. 

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