Saturday, May 29, 2021

Book Haul: May 2021

 

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Welcome to Stacking the Shelves and Mailbox Monday, where I get to show off the books I’ve gotten recently. I forgot to post a book haul last month, so oops. I have tons of new books to show you. I’ve even read a few of them. Way to go, me. I’ll post reviews of the ones I’ve read.

 

 

 

🌊  May 2021 Book Haul  🌄

 

 

 

 

At The Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino

Adult Historical Fiction



Germany, 1943: Twenty-six-year-old Rosa Sauer's parents are gone, and her husband Gregor is far away, fighting on the front lines of WWII. Impoverished and alone, she makes the fateful decision to leave war-torn Berlin to live with her in-laws in the countryside, thinking she'll find refuge there. But one morning, the SS come to tell her she has been conscripted to be one of Hitler's tasters: three times a day, she and nine other women go to his secret headquarters, the Wolf's Lair, to eat his meals before he does. Forced to eat what might kill them, the tasters begin to divide into The Fanatics, those loyal to Hitler, and the women like Rosa who insist they aren't Nazis, even as they risk their lives every day for Hitler's.

As secrets and resentments grow, this unlikely sisterhood reaches its own dramatic climax. What's more, one of Rosa's SS guards has become dangerously familiar, and the war is worsening outside. As the months pass, it becomes increasingly clear that Rosa and everyone she knows are on the wrong side of history.

 

My review: I read the majority of this book before setting it aside for now. It wasn’t holding my attention. The plot is nonexistent, and the characters are kind of bland. I’m very interested in the topic, though, so I might return to it later.

 

Buy it on Amazon

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The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes—And Why by Amanda Ripley

Survival / Psychology Nonfiction



Amanda Ripley, an award-winning journalist for Time magazine who has covered some of the most devastating disasters of our age, set out to discover what lies beyond fear and speculation. In this magnificent work of investigative journalism, Ripley retraces the human response to some of history’s epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917–one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bomb–to a plane crash in England in 1985 that mystified investigators for years, to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Then, to understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts, formal and informal, from a Holocaust survivor who studies heroism to a master gunfighter who learned to overcome the effects of extreme fear.

 

Why I’m excited to read it: I’m fascinated by survival stories. Why do some people survive dangerous situations while others die quickly? Is it just luck, or can you do something to increase your chances of survival? I’m hoping this book will teach me how to be resilient in dangerous times.

 

Buy it on Amazon

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A Game Of Fox & Squirrels by Jenn Reese

Middlegrade Fantasy

 


After an incident shatters their family, eleven-year old Samantha and her older sister Caitlin are sent to live in rural Oregon with an aunt they've never met. Sam wants nothing more than to go back to the way things were . . . before she spoke up about their father's anger.

When Aunt Vicky gives Sam a mysterious card game called "A Game of Fox & Squirrels," Sam falls in love with the animal characters, especially the charming trickster fox, Ashander. Then one day Ashander shows up in Sam’s room and offers her an adventure and a promise: find the Golden Acorn, and Sam can have anything she desires.

But the fox is hiding rules that Sam isn't prepared for, and her new home feels more tempting than she'd ever expected. As Sam is swept up in the dangerous quest, the line between magic and reality grows thin. If she makes the wrong move, she'll lose far more than just a game.

 

Why I’m excited to read it:  Goodreads says this book “explores the often thin line between magic and reality, light and darkness.” It sounds like this novel has the potential to be delightfully weird. I’m game. Let’s play.

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The True Believer: Thoughts On The Nature Of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer

Sociology / Philosophy Nonfiction



A stevedore on the San Francisco docks in the 1940s, Eric Hoffer wrote philosophical treatises in his spare time while living in the railroad yards. The True Believer—the first and most famous of his books—was made into a bestseller when President Eisenhower cited it during one of the earliest television press conferences. Completely relevant and essential for understanding the world today, The True Believer is a visionary, highly provocative look into the mind of the fanatic and a penetrating study of how an individual becomes one.

 

Why I’m excited to read it: It’s a classic that’s been recommended to me for years. I finally got a copy! I’m interested in cults and how people become fanatical about religious or political beliefs. I swear I have no plans to start a cult. Nobody’s got time for that. I’m just curious.

 

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Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Middlegrade Fantasy



Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl—and herself—than first meets the eye.

 

Why I’m excited to read it: Another classic. I often stumble across this novel on lists of must-read children’s books. I’ve somehow gone my entire life without reading it. I guess it’s time to see what the hype is about. Why does everybody love it so much?

 

Buy it on Amazon

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The Toll by Neal Shusterman

Young Adult Science Fiction



It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.

 

Why I’m excited to read it: This series is so good! If you like dystopias, you need to read it. It’s fast-paced, thought-provoking, and completely unpredictable. The Toll is the final book in the series. I can’t wait to find out how it ends.

 

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The Fountains Of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

Young Adult Historical Fiction



Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography—and fate—introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War—as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

 

Why I’m excited to read it: I read a lot of historical fiction, and Ruta Sepetys is one of my all-time-favorite historical fiction authors. She always manages to teach me things while telling an entertaining story.

 

Buy it on Amazon

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Young Adult Contemporary Novel-In-Verse



Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

 

My review: Allow me to introduce you to my favorite book of 2021! It’s simple and stunningly written. I think this novel-in-verse is destined to become a classic. The plot of Long Way Down reminds me of A Christmas Carol, but it’s set in a modern, inner-city apartment building. Most of the story takes place on an elevator. Yep, a 300-page elevator ride. (I swear it’s not as boring as it sounds.) A teenager’s brother is murdered, and the teen sets out to get revenge. When he steps into the elevator in his apartment building, a ghost gets on with him. The elevator stops at every floor, and a new ghost gets on at each stop. That’s when the Christmas Carol vibes start. The ghosts force the teen to confront his choices and reevaluate his decision to commit murder. It’s a thoroughly modern ghost story! And, best of all, it never gets preachy or heavy-handed! The author treats his (deeply flawed) characters with compassion and lets the readers draw their own conclusions. I have zero complaints about this book. Please read it. It’s short and unique and definitely worth your time.

 

Buy it on Amazon

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The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain

Adult Historical Fiction



Gustav Perle grows up in a small town in Switzerland, where the horrors of the Second World War seem only a distant echo. An only child, he lives alone with Emilie, the mother he adores but who treats him with bitter severity. He begins an intense friendship with a Jewish boy his age, talented and mercurial Anton Zweibel, a budding concert pianist. The novel follows Gustav’s family, tracing the roots of his mother’s anti-Semitism and its impact on her son and his beloved friend.

 

Why I’m excited to read it: I feel like I saw this book on every award longlist back in 2017. All the historical fiction fans were reading it. Well, all of them except me. I couldn’t find a cheap used copy, but I’ve got one now! Rose Tremain has written a ton of books, so if I enjoy this one, I’ll have her whole backlist to read.

 

Buy it on Amazon

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Heartbreaker by Maryse Meijer

Adult Literary Short Story Collection



In her debut story collection Heartbreaker, Maryse Meijer peels back the crust of normalcy and convention, unmasking the fury and violence we are willing to inflict in the name of love and loneliness. Her characters are a strange ensemble—a feral child, a girl raised from the dead, a possible pedophile—who share in vulnerability and heartache, but maintain an unremitting will to survive. Meijer deals in desire and sex, femininity and masculinity, family and girlhood, crafting a landscape of appetites threatening to self-destruct.

 

Why I’m excited to read it: Well, the cover sure got my attention. That’s intense. This short story collection has amazing reviews on Goodreads, which is rare for a short story collection because people seem to hate them for mysterious reasons. The stories in this book are allegedly dark and disturbing. I’m intrigued.

 

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Have you read any of these? What did you think?








6 comments:

  1. I agree with your about A Long Way Down. Never preachy, which I always appreciate. It short but so powerful. I read the book, but I heard the audio is great.

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  2. I still need to read The Toll! The Unthinkable sounds fascinating - I love also survival/disaster stories!

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  3. I have read The Toll, Long Way Down, and Fountains of Silence and all were really good! I hope you enjoy them.

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  4. I hope you like Howl's Moving Castle, I read it for the first time as an adult too and I found it charming, def see what all the buzz is about

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  5. I hope you enjoy The Toll. That's such a great series.

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  6. I have not read any of these but I'm glad you told me about Ruta Sepetys as I read quite a bit of historical fiction too. Hers looks good.

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