Soulful Simplicity

What We’ve Been Reading in March

Happy Spring! It’s time to lighten up our clothes, our homes, and send those long dark nights of winter behind us. We love this time of year as the days grow warmer and we can walk our pups in the evening and still have daylight. However, no matter the season, you can still find us curled up with a good book. Here’s what we’ve been reading in March. 

Lilac Girls- Martha Hall Kelly

From Amazon:  NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For readers of The Nightingale and Sarah’s Key,inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this remarkable debut novel reveals the power of unsung women to change history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Our thoughts:  This debut novel was inspired by a real life WWII heroine, Caroline Ferriday. The story is about three women whose lives intersect during WWII. Much of the story takes place at the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, where medical “experiments” are performed on many of the young women in the camp. These women were later known as “rabbits”.  I am an avid reader of historical fiction, especially WWII, and am still amazed when I learn something new about life in the concentration camps.  I found this story and its characters engaging from start to finish, and even did a little of my own research on the life of Caroline Ferriday, a truly remarkable woman. Loved this book.  

The Woman in the Window: A Novel – A.J. Finn

From Amazon:  For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-six languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.

Our thoughts:  If you’ve read here for any time, you know that thrillers are not our favorite genre. June is usually so mad at the ending that she wants to throw the book through the window.  However, this one had a ton of buzz (June was number 98 on the reserve list at the library) so may as well give it a shot.  For a thriller this one was actually pretty good.  There are some twists that you can kind of see coming which keeps you from being mad at the book and the author.  The ending was satisfying but did not make everything all better.  It is a bit reminiscent of The Girl on the Train where you are not sure you can trust the main character narrator.  However, the fact that she is a recluse is fascinating.  Also, if you are a fan of old movies, the movie references and their similarities to the plot points is probably intriguing.  If you are not a fan of old movies, like me, then those references tend to get a little annoying because they are just gibberish.  If you are looking for a fast read and like thrillers this may be a good one to pick up.  

Soulful Simplicity- Courtney Carver

From Amazon:   Courtney Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives.

We are often on a quest for more—we give in to pressure every day to work more, own more, and do more. For Carver, this constant striving had to come to a stop when she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Stress was like gasoline on the fire of symptoms, and it became clear that she needed to root out the physical and psychological clutter that were the source of her debt and discontent. 
     In this book, she shows us how to pursue practical minimalism so we can create more with less—more space, more time, and even more love. Carver invites us to look at the big picture, discover what’s most important to us, and reclaim lightness and ease by getting rid of all the excess things.

Our thoughts:  This book had me with the cover. I’m a sucker for a beautiful book cover. Written by Courtney Carver, whose blog Be More with Less was launched in 2010, this for me was a bit of a self help book. Not only does the author help us with the physical act of decluttering and getting more organized, but she also aids us in discovering what’s truly important in life- Love, Happiness, Joy, and Peace. I keep this one on my nightstand and will be giving it as gifts to my friends. 

As Bright as Heaven – Susan Meissner

From Amazon:  From the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life and A Bridge Across the Ocean comes a new novel set in Philadelphia during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, which tells the story of a family reborn through loss and love.

In 1918, Philadelphia was a city teeming with promise. Even as its young men went off to fight in the Great War, there were opportunities for a fresh start on its cobblestone streets. Into this bustling town, came Pauline Bright and her husband, filled with hope that they could now give their three daughters–Evelyn, Maggie, and Willa–a chance at a better life.

But just months after they arrive, the Spanish Flu reaches the shores of America. As the pandemic claims more than twelve thousand victims in their adopted city, they find their lives left with a world that looks nothing like the one they knew. But even as they lose loved ones, they take in a baby orphaned by the disease who becomes their single source of hope. Amidst the tragedy and challenges, they learn what they cannot live without–and what they are willing to do about it.

As Bright as Heaven is the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

Our thoughts:  As a fan of historical fiction, this book is in an era not often written about which is World War I and more specifically the Spanish flu pandemic.  The story is told from the viewpoints of several women in the book.  While the story was set 100 years ago, I could identify with many of the struggles the characters had in the book, loss of a child, adopting a child, struggling to find your tribe in a new city, figuring out who you are, sickness and death.  The family moves into a funeral home to start their new life.  The flu pandemic was scary then and it makes you feel a little scared that it could happen again.  June read this at the end of January which was the height of the flu outbreak this year and this book did make her more than a little bit concerned that she had not gotten around to a flu vaccine this year.  The details about the funeral home, embalming and they accept death as a part of life are interesting to read.  This book makes you feel all of the feelings.  Also, if you’ve not read anything else by this author you should check her out.  The Fall of Marigolds is one of my favorites.

Have a good weekend.  –May and June

There is no friend as loyal as a book.- Ernest Hemingway

 

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