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Weekly Reads: Week 21

This weekend has been a wonderful, and much needed, break. Even with all the rain, we’ve found time to enjoy the outdoors and spend a little extra time with friends and family. My parents are currently out on the road, RVenturing across the country, but they were lucky enough to welcome an unexpected guest in Colorado!

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I think he should be the new camp mascot, just remember to hide the bird seed! 🙂

This weekend is just what I needed to beat my reading slump – I’ve just been too busy and too tired at the end of the day to read. I know I’ve said this before, but thank goodness for audiobooks! I’ve been choosing shorter books that are simpler to finish during a work day or two, and I really lucked out this week with available titles on Overdrive.

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cadence Sinclair Eastman is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, covered in golden retrievers and reading books, she lives the life of luxury. But she longs to return to the island, and to her friends, the liars. She tries her best to recount the last summer she spent with the liars, hoping to finally remember her accident, or at least uncover why her family finds it so necessary to hide it from her. Behind the secrecy, behind the liars, she’ll discover a truth more a haunting than anything she could have imagined.

“We are liars. We are beautiful and privileged. We are cracked and broken.”

We Were Liars was THE summer read a couple years back, but I totally missed it. It just didn’t hit my radar a the time, and I’m kind of glad for it. While I enjoyed the novel, I was left wanting more from the story and from the characters. Of course, there’s a huge reveal at the end, a plot twist you may or may not see coming (I, surprisingly didn’t). While some answers are given, I was still left wanting more of an explanation, or at least more resolve between Cadence and her family – a group of characters given little motivation or growth during the course of the novel. As for the liars, why are they called the liars? It’s really explained, and they’re just presented as the liars from the very beginning, but perhaps that is part of the overall mystery. My biggest peeve with the novel is with Gat. His troubled relationship with Cadence, his moodiness, his role in the family…it all plays into his being a “Heathcliff” but to what end? There’s no need for this in the story. Overall, the story is an emotional journey of a confused teen who misses her friends, an entertaining and heartfelt story – an excellent summer read, in my opinion.

Rating: 3 Stars

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

When we first meet A.J. Fikry, he is a mess. Having lost his wife to a tragic car accident, he subsists on frozen meals and cheap booze while by day he maintains a failing bookshop, pushing anyone and everyone away, until one day, he discovers his most prized possession, a rare collection of poems by Edgar Allen Poe, has been stolen. He had been treasuring the idea of one day selling the collection, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and leaving his small island once and for all, but with that dream now gone, he must once again join the living and make his little shop profitable once again. Then, one day, a mysterious package is found hidden in the back corner of the store. No one expects the curmudgeonly bookseller to care for the abandoned child, let alone adopt her, but that’s just what he does, and by doing so, discovering a new spark for life he never imagined he’d find, putting new meaning to the sign hanging over his doors, “No man is an island; every book is a world.”

“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?

“We aren’t the things we collect, acquire, read. We are, for as long as we are here, only love. The things we loved. The people we loved. And these, I think these really do live on”

There is much, much more to this story, but I’d rather not give too much away. I absolutley loved this novel, and wish I could read it over again and again, but as the first time every time. It had me tearing up and then laughing, then crying, then crying tears of joy…it is an emotional roller coaster to say the least. I instantly fell in love with Fikry – while crabby and a pessimist at the novel’s start, you can’t help but feel for his loss, over and over again. Each character feels like family, and apart of your soul, and each page a new lesson, a remembrance for loved ones who’ve helped us each step along the way in our own lives. A beautiful and touching novel for all readers.

Rating: 5 Stars

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A Blessing On the Moon by Joseph Skibell

In A Blessing On the Moon, Chaim Skibelski is sent on a journey in the afterlife. He awakes, as if from a dream, to find himself covered in bodies, having been shot by the Nazis and thrown into a mass grave. Terror stricken and running for his life, he discovers he, too, has suffered tremendous wounds and is bleeding out. He is dead, now caught between the world of the living and the world to come, in a never-ending state of limbo. He walks the countryside, seeking for his fellow men and stumbles upon his rabbi, now in the shape of a crow, but he takes flight too soon, before Chaim can seek any of his answers. Why is he still here? Where is his family? Where is the moon?

“…when you killed me, you took everything. My home, my wife, my children. Must you have my forgiveness as well.”

The novel is an entirely new perspective to World War II. While Chaim explores the countryside, the war is always hanging over, an omnipresent dark cloud in every image described. Each character encountered along his journey stand for an entire group of sufferers, each with a unique ailment and purpose, from the dying peasant girl, to the German soldier, to his Jewish family, mysteriously disappearing after their appointed “steam”, each presents a piece of the Holocaust with an allegorical message of endurance and forgiveness. His journey is a poignant and heartfelt story unlike any I’ve ever read, igniting an intense emotional connection to the characters and the tragedies that follow.

Rating: 5 Stars

What have you been reading lately?

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2 thoughts on “Weekly Reads: Week 21

  1. rhoffnagle says:

    I just bought A Storied Life of AJ Fikry because I loved it so much the first time I read it. I know it’s one I’ll read over and over : )

    Like

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