What a week! We were at -29 degrees (-45 when the windchill was factored in) the other morning, and I’m not gonna lie, I felt an incredible amount of guilt as I sent my husband out the door to take care of our cattle. I am incredibly grateful that my dad is not in the middle of calving right now (something a lot of ranchers are in the middle of in February), but I still feel great sadness thinking of what so many in the ag industry are going through during this storm.
Also, my prayers go out to Texas (and the rest of the south) and my bookish friends down there dealing with unprecedented snow and cold temperatures. Here’s hoping the weather eases up across the United States soon and everybody can thaw out.
I’d love to hear about what you’ve been reading lately! Drop me a comment below!
Last Week’s Reads:
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
When I read this synopsis, I knew I had to read it. Not only is Kristin Hannah and auto buy author for me, but I was fascinated by the idea of the drought that caused the Dust Bowl during the 1930s. My husband’s grandfather was a small baby during this time, and struggled for the rest of his lifetime with lung-related issues that the family always felt traced back to those dry and dusty years.
As a daughter of a farmer, I know the tale of this story in my bones. While we’ve never been plagued with something as intense as the Dust Bowl, we’re currently experiencing a serious drought. While farming practices have greatly changed, making another Dust Bowl unlikely, as dry land farmers, we are always at the mercy of nature.
As for the story, so much of it was familiar: that intense and relentless heat, the static that buzzed in the dry air, the hot wind that refuses to stop blowing, and the sandy grit that itches the eyes. I’ve stared at the skies, willing a cloud to form and water to drop down to the dry earth.
This didn’t feel like a typical Kristin Hannah story. It wasn’t as immersive as I’ve felt with her past books and it was so overly descriptive that, while it created a totally atmospheric environment, it also seemed to drag on a little unnecessarily. I felt like the character development lacked and we really only touched on their basic and surface level thoughts. This book could have been so much more, but Hannah would have had to sacrifice some of her descriptions in place of that character development, which would have suited me better.
I was also disappointed in the direction the book took towards the end. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just brush the surface of this point, but it changed the overall dynamic of the book and it didn’t work for me at all! (Let’s discuss if you’ve read!)
By no means is this book a dud…I still enjoyed it immensely, but it’s not on the same level for me as The Nightingale or The Great Alone was. Hannah is an amazing storyteller, but I think she got bogged down in making us feel the heat rather than the impact it made on an emotional level for the characters.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
Halfway through January, reviews for this book were everywhere! I added it to my February Book of the Month box (click here for an introductory special for new members!) when I saw it being compared to Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage, a book I enjoyed a few years ago. Sometimes I think it’s hard to compare two books that have very similar storylines, and I think it’s only natural to defualt to one or the other. For me, The Push was just too much like Baby Teeth, and maybe because I’d read it first, I found I preferred Baby Teeth.
*** The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
I got lost in this dark and mysterious story with dual timelines that switch back and forth between 1870s London and present-day London. It’s rare for me to equally enjoy both timelines but I was riveted by Sarah Penner’s debut novel. When Caroline finds out that her husband has been having an affair, she takes what was supposed to be their 10-year anniversary trip to London alone. On her first day there, she goes mudlarking and finds a mysterious bottle on the banks of the Thames which quickly sends her on a mission to find out where it came from. Turns out, it came from an apothecary in the area over two hundred years ago. Penner seamlessly weaves the two stories together and I flew through this book in less than a day! (This book releases on March 2, 2021!)
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Something about this book totally intimidated me, but when I saw it on so many Best of 2020 lists, I knew I wanted to at least give it a try. I’m about halfway through and loving it!!! So glad I took a chance!
*** The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race by Walter Isaacson
Holy cow…this book is proving to be a challenge to get through. I was very intrigued for most of it, but to make it through the 20% I read this week felt like a drag. I’m at the 70% mark and I will finish it, but, as I’m nearing the end, I’m feeling like some stuff is lacking…I’ll update as soon as I finish!
*** Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
Still slowly making my way through this one. I really like it, but I only read a little at a time.
(#partner #freebooks: All books noted by asterisks (***) indicate I received the book for free from the publisher, the author, or another promotional company to review. All opinions are my own.)
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