Hello, everyone! I haven’t done a My Month in Books in basically a year and a half. So much has changed since my last Month in Books – I completed 1.5 years of college, I withdrew from that college, and now I’m in the midst of transferring to a different college to finish my studies. But even through all that tumult, my love of books remains the same. Here’s what’s been on my shelf the past month.
The Secret Place by Tana French
Quick Summary: Surly detective Antoinette Conway teams up with the charming Detective Stephen Moran to investigate the murder of a male student at an all female boarding school. But not all is sugar and spice at St. Kilda’s, and as the list of suspect lengthens, the detectives realize that when it comes to these teenage girls, they’re in over their head.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well paced, exciting, suspenseful, and most importantly, thoroughly mysterious. I loved reading about the power plays and machinations between the two cliques and watching the girls discover that adulthood is something even a murder can’t prevent. My only criticism of this book would be that I don’t like the character of Antoinette Conway because she’s too prickly, but that’s my personal preference. You can read my full review here.
To Read or Not to Read? Read it.
Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani
Quick Summary: Eunuch Javaher joins the court of Shah Tasmahb I in the mid 16th century. There he comes into the employ of princess Pari, renowned for her intelligence and leadership and blessed with the ear of the Shah. At his sudden death, however, Pari becomes entangled in a fierce power struggle and must use her wits and charm to maneuver her way to the throne.
My thoughts: I LOVED this book. Anita Amirrezvani is one of my top authors for her gifted prose and picturesque description. Plus, she can write some amazing characters. Javaher and Pari fly off the page. The plot is complicated and moves quickly. I was enthralled at every point and I loved the characters enough to be upset when tragedy strikes. My only wish is that history might have been different so that Anita could have written a different story. But with history being unchangeable, I appreciate this book for its honest look at a female leader who deserves more praise and less infamy. Read my full review here.
To Read or Not to Read? Is that even a question? READ IT!
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey
Quick Summary: In this immense biography, Starkey details the lives of the infamous British king’s six wives.
My thoughts: I was very disappointed in this book. It doesn’t take much for me to pick up a book about Elizabethan history because it’s one of my favorite time periods, and this book’s gorgeous cover certainly helped, but the book didn’t add to what I already knew. Granted, I have a substantial knowledge of Henry’s wives, but I would have expected Starkey’s 800+ pages to at least uncover some little known details, not just spend all of its time writing about the male politicians and the tedious court processions. My main issue with this book is that it’s title lies to you. It’s not really about Henry’s wives. Starkey hardly tries to uncover their motivations, their emotions, or their intimate relationships. He pushes them to the background, preferring to discuss mostly politics, Henry, and Henry’s right hand men. I was bored to tears by most of this book because it had none of the insight into these women’s minds that I’ve found in books written by authors like Alison Weir. Funnily enough, those are exactly the writers that Starkey has denigrated. His sexist tone comes through loud and clear in this book. Look Starkey, I get that you’re a historian, but you can’t just write facts and dates. History is about people, and in writing about Henry’s wives, Starkey forgets that they, too, were just that.
To Read or Not to Read? Skip it and read a better book about the wives. Each of them deserves their own book.
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Quick Summary: This non-fiction book crafts a tale of “murder, magic, and madness” during the Chicago World Fair of 1893, while interweaving a tale of the rise of notorious serial killer H.H Holmes.
My thoughts: I’m not usually one for books set in the American Gilded Age (as for the British Gilded Age, that’s a different story), but Larson’s book pulled me and never let me go. Written with as much imagination and humor as a novel, Larson’s non-fiction chronicle starts takes an immense topic like the Chicago Fair and boils it down into a character study of the most essential and interesting players: Daniel Burnham, the man in charge, Olmsted, the landscape visionary, H.H Holmes, the murderer who used Chicago as his playground, Carter Henry Harrison, the charismatic mayor, and even P.E.J Prendergast, an unsatisfied crony. The chapters alternate pretty regularly between Holmes chapters and Fair chapters, which alleviated any boredom the reader might feel from such a deluge of historical facts. I preferred the Holmes chapters because I personally find murder more interesting that the planning of a world fair, but Larson’s book has something for everybody. His greatest strength is his prose. Light, humorous, and brisk, Larson’s style kept this narrative non-fiction entertaining as well as informative.
To Read or Not to Read? Definitely read it.
So there you have it! Three wonderful books and one rotten one. Go my pretties, and read, read to your hearts content!