Mini Book Review: Universe of Two by Stephen Kiernan

Mini Book Review: Universe of Two by Stephen Kiernan

Universe of Two is based on the life of the young mathematician, Charles Fisk (called Charlie Fish in this novel), who was unknowingly recruited to work on the creation of the atomic bomb. Charlie is only eighteen, and recently graduated from Harvard, and it’s not until much later into the secret project when he realizes what exactly he’s doing for the ‘war effort’, and thus struggles with his conscience and the moral dilemma of it all.

Beginning in 1943, this book is, for the majority of the time set during the war. It alternates between Charlie’s perspective in third person, and his musician girlfriend, Brenda’s, in first person, and I found this gave an added dimension to the storyline.

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Book Review: Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

Book Review: Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

A girl comes of age against the knife. She must learn to bear its blade. To be cut. To bleed. To scar over and still, somehow, be beautiful and with good enough knees to take the sponge to the kitchen floor every Saturday. You’re either lost or you’re found.”

Betty ~Tiffany McDaniel

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

4.5/5 Stars

Wow. This book is both painfully hard and utterly heartbreaking, as well as a powerfully beautiful work of literature. It goes without saying, that this book broke my heart. I think what made it more hard to digest, was knowing this book was based on the author’s mother, Betty’s life.

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Mini Review: Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

Mini Review: Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver

I finished my second book and second 5 star read of 2021! This was my very first Barabara Kingsolver book, and I can now understand the praise her books and writing receive!

I started this book one night and finished it the next. I normally read very few contemporary fiction, but Animal Dreams totally captured my interest.

This is a beautiful and evocative book about a woman finding herself and purpose.

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The Startling Contrast Between Innocence and Experience in The Innocents by Michael Crummey

The Startling Contrast Between Innocence and Experience in The Innocents by Michael Crummey

I finished The Innocents last night, and I’m still trying to process all that occurred within in the space of the last few chapters.

At first glance, The Innocents is a story of survival–how a brother and sister fend for themselves in a deserted cove off the shores of Newfoundland. Diving further into the book, however, there are nuanced layers and disturbing themes I didn’t foresee. The ending left me disturbed, shocked, and contemplative. I was reminded of the Romantic English poet, William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Especially the contrast between the “The Lamb,” in the first section and “The Tyger’ in the latter. I felt the characters in this book were a merging of the two contrasts: innocent, and yet so far from innocent at the same time.

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Mini Review: The Deal of a Lifetime & Other Stories by Fredrik Backman

Mini Review: The Deal of a Lifetime & Other Stories by Fredrik Backman

Rating: 5/5 Stars

I discovered Fredrik Backman’s treasury of novellas while searching my library catalogue for Christmasy themed books. This short book is a compilation of three novellas. Each are, in their own unique way, poignant and heartwarming; heartbreaking and evocative all at once. It is labeled as a holiday book, because the first novella is set on Christmas Eve, however, it is more a book to be read at any time in the year, rather than a seasonal read.

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The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Its been awhile since I posted, and also some time since I did a proper book review, even though I’ve been keeping track of the books I’m reading on my instagram. I’m hoping to get back into the flow of book reviews as I’ve already read four books this month and have many more on my book cart waiting for me to read.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline came in for me at the library and I devoured it between that afternoon and the next. I simply couldn’t put it down. Set in the 1840s, this novel tells the story of how female convicts were banished to Australia for the slightest offence, such as stealing a silver spoon or for simply being pregnant out of wedlock.

This is a story of hardship and heart-wrenching loss, cruel injustice and discrimination, as well as also being a story of perseverance and resilience in spite of opposition, and the powerful bonds of friendship and togetherness in the face of trials.

There are three main characters in this book, and each of their stories are equally heartbreaking.

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Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (The Blood of Stars #1)

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim (The Blood of Stars #1)

I normally don’t read fantasy (I’m not sure why as all the books I’ve read in this genre I’ve absolutely loved) but this year I decided to branch out from my usual historical fiction, Agatha Christie, and classic literature reads and explore new genres: fantasy being one of them. I’m so glad I did! Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim was a solid five out of five stars for me!

In the spirit of Mulan, Lim weaves together a whole new and fantastical tale about tailors, scissors, magic, adventure, and much more!

Maia is a poor peasant girl and a exceptionally talented seamstress who will do anything to protect her family. As a woman, she’s not allowed to be a tailor, but when her brothers go off to war and her father’s health decreases, she is faced with keeping his business going.

When a royal messenger summons her father to become the Emperor’s tailor–an honour which because of his failing health, he can no longer perform, Maia disguises herself as one of her brothers and goes in her father’s stead, risking her life if she is found out.

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Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste

Beneath the Lion’s Gaze by Maaza Mengiste is a powerful and heart-wrenching debut set during the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974, the demise of Emperor Haile Selessie, and the terrifying military regime that followed.

Alternating between multiple perspectives, this book chronicles the struggles and sacrifices of one family through a diverse and intricate cast of characters and voices.

There is Hailu, a distinguished surgeon at the hospital in Addis Ababa, struggling with his beloved wife’s declining health, the friction between his younger son, Dawit and himself, and his duty as a doctor in a country whose government is brutally torturing and killing its citizens.

When Derg soldiers bring in a severely tortured prisoner and order Hailu to heal the victim so they can torture them some more, Hailu struggles with his conscience and ultimately makes a decision that will put his life in jeopardy.

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Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

Goldengrove devoured my sister every time I closed my eyes.”

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

Goldengrove is a privately owned institution designed for those in need of mental health care. From the outside it appears to be a tranquil, welcoming place for rest and recovery. However, it may not be as healing as it seams.

Set in the late 1880s in a time where many outrageous treatment practices for mental illness were being performed, Woman 99 by Greer Macallister portrays what life was like in a mental health institute or asylum of that day.

Charlotte and Phoebe Smith are two close knit sisters of a wealthy and privileged family in San Francisco. Image is everything to their mother, and they must put on the best front, or risk embarrassing the family name. When the older sister, Phoebe begins to show signs of recurring mania and melancholy, her parents commit her to a nearby asylum run by family friends. Just like that, Phoebe is locked away, cut off from corresponding or visiting with her family, almost as if she wasn’t part of the family in the first place.

Desperate to get her sister back, and believing Phoebe has been wrongfully admitted, Charlotte devises a rash and impulsive plan to get her sister back. She will become a patient of Goldengrove and she will find her sister and bring her home. Feigning despair, Charlotte enters as ‘woman 99’. Now she is only a number, and with her unknown identity she hopes she can locate her sister. However, once admitted, Charlotte realizes its much harder to get out than in.

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Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

My husband asked me to lie. Not a big lie. He probably didn’t even consider it a lie, and neither did I, at first.”

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim begins with a startling and intriguing confession drawing readers into the heart of the mystery and legal proceedings of a court case involving charges of intentional arson and murder.

This contemporary legal thriller is set in a rural town in Virginia where an alternate and sometimes controversial therapy called HBOT is being preformed on individuals with diagnoses of autism, cerebral palsy, and infertility.

HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy) is a procedure where high volumes of pure oxygen is administered at an elevated pressure in a sealed compartment. While a relatively safe procedure, HBOT can be potentially fatal if fire comes in contact with the oxygen tank–which is the case in this book.

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