Hello Friends and Welcome!
Today I thought that I’d share the list of books that I read last year and rated as five star reads on Goodreads. This list is solely comprised of books that I had read for the first time in 2019 so the Harry Potter books from my reread last year are not included on this list even though I rate four of them as five star reads.
Here are my seven five star reads from 2019:
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
Unmarriageable is a charming retelling of Pride and Prejudice that takes place in Pakistan the early 2000’s. Soniah Kamal captures the essence of the original and at the same time creates something new by transporting the characters and the plot to modern day Pakistan.
I adore this book. I really appreciated getting a peek into the lives of women in Pakistan in the early 2000s. Kamal’s writing shines when she takes on Pakistani culture. She did a fair amount of research and it really shows. Kamal doesn’t mirror the plot of Pride and Prejudice exactly, instead she chooses to retain enough of the original story while putting her own unique spin on it.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
A fire broke out in the Los Angeles Public Library on April 29, 1986. It took over seven hours for the fire to be extinguished, and during that time hundreds of thousands of books, reference material, artifacts, and other objects were burned, leaving nothing but ash in many cases. Hundreds of thousands of books were damaged. As someone who has loved and adored my local libraries, reading about the extensive damage was heartbreaking.
But it was heartwarming to read about the response of the community and other libraries in the days and months following the fire. Restaurants offered to make room in their freezers for books that might be able to be restored one day. Volunteers came out in droves to help with the cleanup and organization. People offered money to help in the restoration and books to refill the shelves when the library was restored.
The book reads as if the story of the fire and the time of recovery are being reported in real time. I found myself fascinated with the history of the library and the mystery of how the fire was set. Was it accidental? Was it set on purpose? The writing is engaging and the book is thoroughly enjoyable.
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
I have been on a mission to read more Agatha Christie ever since I first read “And Then There Were None.” So far, I have not been disappointed. I greatly enjoyed this little mystery and was thrilled with the ending.
The Orient Express. The middle of the night. A MURDER! A train full of passengers that all have a connection to the murder victim. And all have a seemingly air-tight alibi for the time of the murder. Who committed murder? That’s what Hercule Poirot has to figure out. Christie crafted such fascinating characters and I was excitedly reading each chapter, hoping that I would figure out who had committed the murder. The resolution was extremely satisfying to me.
Ashes in the Snow by Ruta Septys
I was completely unaware of what had taken place in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia during World War II.
This is not a pretty book, but I have no regrets on reading it. The novel is well-written and well researched. It’s brutal what the people of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia went through during this time period. We learned so much about the atrocities committed by the Germans, but the Soviets committed many of the same atrocities. When the Soviets took over the countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, many of the people were taken from their homes. They were beaten, starved, assaulted, sold into slavery, and forced into Labor camps. Many were killed.
This book focuses greatly on the psychological and social ramifications of World War II. It is a heart-wrenching, emotional story. The story is fictional, the majority of the characters are fictional, but the events actually took place and over 20 million lives were lost in this piece of human history.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Septys
This book goes right along with Ashes in the Snow. The book tells the story of the little-known but single greatest maritime tragedy that was the January 30, 1945 sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was intended to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety away from the advancing Soviets. The ship was intended to carry approximately 1,800 people and was instead loaded with more than 10,500.
As with Ashes in the Snow, the characters are mostly fictional but the events depicted actually took place. Over 9,000 of the passengers on board the ship lost their lives. This portion of history that Septys depicts in these two books was tragic. This book was a fast read because Septys crafted very compelling characters and I found it easy to care about their story.
The Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient #2) by Helen Hoang
I picked this as my Book of the Month selection at some point last year on a whim. This book a a very cute, smutty romance which is not something that I typically find myself drawn to. However, I really enjoyed it. The characters are fully fleshed out and highly adorable. That itself is enough for me to have enjoyed the book.
However as an additional fun aspect, Hoang states that the aspect of an uneducated Vietnamese immigrant woman coming to the United States, defying the odds, and clawing her way up from almost nothing is based loosely on her mother’s experiences.
The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
Another one of Christie’s classics! This one is a slight departure from her other Hercule Poirot novels. Instead of a drawing-room style mystery we get a manhunt to stop a serial killer. I really enjoyed this story and was engaged in attempting to figure out who the A.B.C Killer was. Once again I was delighted when Poirot put all the clues together and we got the reveal of the killer. This one has been my favorite Christie novel so far.
That’s it for today. Let me know if there were any five star books you read last year (or even this year)!