Spare // Prince Harry
Oh, boy this book! I've been on the wait list ever since I knew it was coming out and so joined the thousand or so people on the library holds. I knew I wanted to read it despite all the hype and opinions about it and about Harry and Meghan. It's fascinating to me to read someone's story in their own words and how situations appeared to them. What I liked about this book- the behind the scenes on royal residences and ways of life. I've read a lot of books about the royals and I found it so interesting to read about situations from Harry's point of view that I had read about somewhere else. I didn't expect to find commonality with him but in reading about the process of grieving his mum and then his grandmother, I found myself tearing up more than once. What I didn't like- I could have done without some of the gratuitous scenes. I'm glad I read it, and I'm glad also for the companion newsletters from Elizabeth Holmes to deep dive through this book. I would love to read a similar book by Will or Kate but that's just wishful thinking. 3 out of 5 stars.
Try Softer // Aundi Kolber - A fresh approach to move us out of anxiety, stress and survival mode and into a life of connection and joy. I exhaled just reading that subtitle. This book was a great mix of practical action steps, anecdotal stories to demonstrate a point, and truth from a background of faith. If you're working though any kind of trauma, grief or anxiety, I would recommend this book and maybe buy it so you don't have to be like me and read it through a library deadline and can mark up the pages. 4 out of 5 stars.
The Porcelain Moon // Janie Chang - This was such a fascinating story of familiar places (Shanghai and Paris), familiar era (pre, during and post WW I) but from a perspective I've never read before. I loved learning about the role of the Chinese soldiers, the juxtaposition between French and Chinese culture and the age-old struggle of women to define themselves apart from marriage to a suitable man. 4 out of 5 stars.
Code Name Sapphire // Pam Jenoff - Historical fiction during the 20th century is one of my very favourite genres. I love learning through the medium of a well-told and well-researched story especially about something I didn't know about. This book was not that. I've loved everything else by Pam Jenoff (try The Lost Girls of Paris!) but this one fell a little flat for me. 2 out of 5 stars.
Hamnet // Maggie O'Farrell - A story about Shakespeare and his play but not really. A story about the woman who married Shakespeare, about motherhood and nurturing children, a story about love and loss and grief. I have picked this book up a couple times but could not get into it. And then promptly devoured it while at an indoor water park in the middle of March, it was the perfect antidote to the very stimulating environment. It's a slim book but with very well-crafted sentences and scenes. There's a section on the Black Death that was beautifully written for something so tragic. 4 out of 5 stars.
The Book Spy // Alan Glad - To read is to travel and experience life in different places and times. Anyone who reads knows this but this book is a perfect example of how lovely it is to travel through books. The setting is New York City, NY and Lisbon, Portugal. Having been to Lisbon, I could see, taste and smell the city through the descriptions of the cobblestone narrow streets, the street side cafes with just enough Portuguese to make it feel like you were there. Lisbon during WWII is a fascinating subject to me because it was one of the few neutral European countries which meant everyone wanted a piece of the pie. It's also a key location between Africa and Europe with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and North America. The story is that of librarians who acted as spies for the Allied governments by photographing news articles on microfilm. If you want a similar story but slightly different telling, try The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin. 4 out of 5 stars.
I'd love to hear what books you've read recently!