End Notes: May

The final word on books I read in May. 

Nonfiction

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson ♦

One of the greatest things about being a very vocal bookworm is that people are always telling me about amazing books they’ve read. A friend and former co-worker, upon discovering my favorite pastime, couldn’t stop raving about this, her favorite book. Set in 1893 Chicago, the narrative non-fiction work alternates between the stories of Daniel Burnham, the architect behind the 1893 World Fair, and Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer using the fair to cover up the large number of his hotel guests that vanished. It’s terrifying, exciting, informative, and fascinating. Pick this up if you love Lauren Hillenbrand, true-crime, American history, or little-known feats of architecture. 5/5

 

Some Girls Review

Some Girls by Jillian Lauren ♦

Jillian Lauren went from life with an adoptive, abusive family to underage stripper to college dropout to member of a harem for the richest family on the planet to spouse of a member of Weezer, mother to an Ethiopian son and friend of Jen Hatmaker. If that story doesn’t pique your interest, you are far less curious than I am. Lauren’s memoir is a lot more than just a salacious, juicy tell-all. I wouldn’t recommend this highly, but if you’re in the mood for a bit of intrigue, the writing isn’t bad and her story is fascinating. 3/5

 

 

Fiction

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows ♦

Epistolary novels are my genre kryptonite. I love novels in letters. Add in post-World War II England, a charming heroine, and book-based friendships, and I should be sold. But I never fully fell in love here. The letters from different characters start to blur together, losing distinctions of voice. The novel also keeps adding plots as the story goes on. Is it about the main character discovering the GLAPPPS story? Finding love? Or a woman who went missing from the island during the war? Or a group of unlikely misfits raising a child together? Or the discovery of a missing manuscript? I had whiplash from how quickly the ‘main’ story shifted. Fun, easy, and charming, but unfocused. 3.5/5

 

Love Walked In

Love Walked In by Marisa de Los Santos  ♦

This was a very sweet book, a fast and fun read. It’s told in the alternating perspectives of Cornelia, an adult woman struggling to figure out her life, and Clare, an eleven-year-old girl struggling to hold it together when her mother starts to fall apart. I loved Cornelia, the main heroine. She reminded me a lot of Lorelei Gilmore in her quick wit and frequent references to old films, books, and music. The first two-thirds of the book were absolutely charming, a perfect easy read with just enough romance and twists to keep it interesting. But the last third third felt unresolved, and the plot choices didn’t feel planned. Still, it was entertaining and the main character was unique. Good summer beach read. 4/5

 

Great House

Great House by Nicole Krauss

I would read 500 pages of Nicole Krauss writing about shopping for groceries. She has an unparalleled ability to capture human nature and relationships perfectly in just a few words or images, and is confident enough to write simply and leave her descriptions alone. This novel isn’t easy or fun, but it is incredible. A bit more of a literary puzzle than her previous book, The History of Love, but equally beautiful. I don’t know if I can recommend this book highly enough to any lover of language. Fans of Marilynn Robinson, pick this up immediately. Nicole Krauss is a master at her craft. 5/5

 

Graphic Novel

TThe Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage he Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua ♦

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, is  credited with writing one of the first computer programs, a theoretical algorithm for the Analytical Engine Charles Babbage was working to design and perfect. Unfortunately, Lovelace died at 36, and Babbage never finished the machine. But what if she had lived? What if he had perfected the machine, creating the first-ever computer? And what if they had used it to fight crime?!

Then you would have this graphic novel. It’s a research based, footnote heavy series of comics full of mathematics, organ grinders, a steampunk London and feisty inventors. I’ve been waiting for this book since I first read this comic strip three years ago and it did not disappoint. If you read this and are interested, read the entire thing post haste and immediately comment below, because we might just be a geek-friendship match made in heaven. 4/5

YA Fantasy/Sci Fi

These Broken StarsThese Broken Stars by Annie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

When the appropriately named luxury spaceliner Icarus plummets out of hyperspace and crash lands on a nearby planet, only Lilac LaRoux (daughter of the richest man in the universe) and Tarver Merendsen (bitter war hero) survive. Their journey for survival and rescue is full of delightful science fiction twists and turns with a little bit of romance. Oh, how I loved listening to this audiobook. There were a few plot points (a mysterious hatch, odd visions, and disembodied whispers) that screamed LOST to this eternal fan. In my mind, the book’s (possibly more satisfying) answers to these mysteries are basically an acceptable LOST rewrite.  This is the YA sci-fi book dreams are made of. If that’s up your alley, do yourself a favor and get into it. 4/5

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Amy says: Reply

    Thanks, Jessica! Totally added two of these books to my “to read” pile. Which has only grown since I met you. 🙂

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