Book reviews: An eclectic mix and some real tear-jerkers

Each of these books was recommended to me by friends or family. I adore books that already come recommended, as it always helps to weed out the bad ones. Each of these is very different from the next one, but they are all good in their own way.

I’ve heard from many people they were surprised I hadn’t read The Book of Negroes earlier. After finally finishing this one, I’m surprised I haven’t read it earlier either. Lawrence Hill’s masterpiece is absolutely brilliant. Following Aminata Diallo through her turbulent life, from African village to slave ship to plantation to settlements in Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone and finally on to London. It’s one of those epic tales that shows the true power of human spirit. Although my god was her life ever hard. I cried several times while reading this, and pretty much ended up sobbing at the end.

It also made me a little interested in Canadian history around that time. I had no idea that settlements of black former slaves had been established in Nova Scotia, nor how poorly they were treated. Between that and the Acadians, it makes me think that Nova Scotia has some pretty terrible history back then, and I want to know about it further. I often think of that as a sign of a good historical fiction. If I’m interested in learning more about the history part of it, then the author did an excellent job of bringing that history to life, I think.

Changeling, by Philippa Gregory

This is the first of Philippa Gregory’s young adult books that I’ve read, the first in her “Order of Darkness” series, Changeling. Gregory is best know for her historical fictions following the Tudor family (of The Other Boleyn Girl fame), so the young adult spin is a little different. There is also more fiction in this historical fiction, as a young priest and a young abbess are caught up in papal games of chasing down true acts of witchcraft and devilry in 16th century Italy. There is magic in here, and romance.

I suppose it was somewhat more simply written then what I expected, but that has more to do with the genre than anything. I enjoyed the book, and I know that if I read this when I was younger I would have LOVED this book. Totally recommended for the tween crowd.

 

In the After, by Demitria Lunetta

In the After, by Demitria Lunetta, is another young adult post-apocalyptic novel, except instead of a zombie attack, it’s an alien attack. Only … well, you’ll see. I don’t give away endings. This was really well written. You know a thriller works when you find you’re holding your breath.

The book moves from post-apocalyptic to dystopian very quickly, and I find that shift interesting. Usually a book will involve one or the other aspects, unless it’s a huge epic like The Passage, covering centuries. Here, it covers a few years. I suspect Lunetta has only begun to set up her world, though, and I am definitely interested enough to read the next one in the series.

 

If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

If I Stay is another shattering novel that left me crying so hard I was empty. It is beautifully written and well developed, delving intothemes like love, family and choice. Mia doesn’t remember the car crash, but finds herself in the hospital looking at her broken body and preparing to make the ultimate choice.

This took my breath away too, in the best kind of way. I’m in awe of Forman’s talent. Read this book.

Word of the day:

Anodyne: a medicine that relieves or allays pain; anything that relieves distress or pain: The music was an anodyne to his grief

 

 

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