REVIEW – The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

“I will never leave him. It will be this, always, for as long as he will let me.”

Circe was one of the best books I read this year, and I knew I had to pick up The Song of Achilles. Miller is an incredible writer – she has a way of turning words into something beautiful and heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.

Patroclus is a wonderful narrator. I felt bad from him from the beginning – a disappointment to his father, his involvement in a fatal accident results in his banishment. He meets Achilles and the two become fast friends.

This is easily one of the most romantic, most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I cannot wait to see what Miller writes next.

REVIEW – How Quickly She Disappears by Raymond Fleischmann

How Quickly She Disappears is an interesting debut with promise – but ultimately falls a bit flat. The overall plot is interesting and eerie. Elisabeth’s character starts off strong but I found myself growing more and more frustrated with her as the book went on (this may have been intentional!) The villain does have an underlying creepiness but I thought he could have been a bit more fleshed out.

I did find it tough to determine if the flashbacks were memories or dreams at the beginning (again, this may have been intentional, it’s not necessarily a negative). I did think that through the flashbacks, Elisabeth and Jacqueline seemed older than 11 (Jacqueline especially) so sometimes it was hard to buy that it was the dialogue, thoughts and actions of children.

Elisabeth’s daughter was interesting but there’s a shift in her personality that isn’t much accounted for or explained and seems very abrupt.

It doesn’t seem like setting the book in WWII was really necessary to the story. It did provide challenges that wouldn’t exist if set in modern-day, but the background of the war starting wasn’t important enough of a detail to make a difference.

However, there’s a lot of good bits of writing in this book and I think that with more time and experience, Fleischmann could produce a very compelling thriller. (Also, I cannot give half stars but I would put this solidly as a 2.5.)

Thank you Berkley for the NetGalley ARC.

REVIEW – The Light Over London by Julia Kelly

The Light Over London is primarily about one woman’s experience during WWII – I loved reading about the gunner girls and the whole crew.

I would categorize this as light historical fiction (well, half historical, half contemporary) that’s easy on the history but heavier on the romance. It’s a great read for anyone who’s looking for something set in WWII without the disturbing, gory details. It’s emotional, but not overly sad.

I thought the ending was a little too quick and wrapped up a little too neatly, but it was still an enjoyable book!

Thank you Gallery for the NetGalley copy!

REVIEW – The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames

“The problems inside the pot are known only by the spoon who stirs it. In other words, only a family can know all its own secrets.”

Stella Fortuna has cheated death seven (or eight) times. With a name that means “lucky star” that must mean she has good luck, right?

Unfortunately, it’s the life that happens between each death that makes Stella’s story so sad.

Mostly family drama with a little bit of historical fiction sprinkled in, The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna is bleak, gritty, raw and disturbing.

This book is beautifully written but the subject matter is tough and it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s incredibly depressing without a single joyful story or event.

REVIEW – The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

The Doll Factory is an incredible book, meant for the patient reader. The buildup is slow, but oh boy does it pay off at the end.

Macneal does an amazing job of placing the reader right in the middle of gloomy, grimy 1850s London. Each chapter flawlessly leads into the next (seriously. When you start a chapter, go back and read the last sentence from the previous one.)

There are subtle, but terrifying, details that suggest not all is right with Silas “the Cadaver” Reed, but you have no idea the depths of his depravity until it all comes together at the end. There’s a revelation in the last few chapters that made me audibly gasp. It’s THAT good (and THAT horrible).

It’s almost impossible to believe that this is a debut. The way Macneal slowly builds to certain reveals is absolutely masterful.

Also, Guinevere is clearly the best character 😉

Thank you Atria for providing me with a copy of this book.

REVIEW – Montauk by Nicola Harrison

“No matter how perfect all these lives might have seemed from a distance, so full of possibilities and promise, we all wanted more.”

I was expecting this to lean a bit more towards the historical fiction genre, but it’s ultimately women’s fiction that just so happens to be set in 1938. There were some slight historical references but none of them had any real impact on the story.

Readers who typically gravitate towards romance might really enjoy this one.

The treatment of women was infuriating (not a negative of the book, but of the time). I immediately hated Beatrice’s husband. The author does a great job of covering the overall sentiment towards women, the “necessity” of having children, and the enforcement of very archaic, traditional gender roles. We do have at least one character who has branched out beyond her “place” as a woman, but even she has her problematic views in the end.

That ending though – I was content for this book to take the expected route (rather, one of two) and it didn’t. Which was frustrating because I felt like the way it wrapped up was simply drama for the sake of drama, instead of it serving a real purpose.

I received this book as part of the BookSparks Montauk pop-up tour.

REVIEW – The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

“Hatred spreads – it doesn’t burn out with time. Someone needs to stand up and stop it.”

The Things We Cannot Say is a heart wrenching story about the horrors and realities of WWII. I enjoyed Alina’s chapters more than Alice’s but the story came together nicely and had a very emotional ending.

I did think this book was just a smidge too long, and I had figured out where it was going – it took awhile to get there but the payoff is good.

I would make sure you have a feel-good book ready for when you finish this one!

REVIEW – Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is a very hyped book that fell flat for me. The writing is beautiful, don’t get me wrong.

But I must be too much of a cynic, not enough of a romantic, someone who reads too many “twisty” books for this one to affect me.

I just didn’t find the storyline realistic – I know it’s fiction, but I felt that it was intended to be a “real” story and it just wasn’t believable. And I couldn’t connect with the romantic plot(s).

I didn’t think the “murder mystery” part of the story was really necessary, either. The rest of the book would have worked without it.

REVIEW – Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The hype surrounding this book is intense. So here’s an unpopular opinion – I wasn’t impressed.

TJR is a great writer. The writing in this book is good. But the story just doesn’t go anywhere. I felt like there was a lot of buildup for…nothing.

I didn’t care much about the characters. A lot of the drama seemed forced. I also didn’t think the “reveal” of the author was anything special because I never wondered who the author was supposed to be.

REVIEW – Circe by Madeline Miller

Circe is a beautifully written, emotional story.

It covers abuse, family drama, jealousy, heartache, personal growth, friendship and love.

I could picture everything so vividly, every character and setting. I often found myself wishing I could live on Aiaia with Circe.

The end was absolutely perfect, and I felt like I had lost a friend once I finished the book.