“What Should I Read Next” Wednesday: Edition 2

Hello and welcome to the second week of “What Should I Read Next” Wednesday!

Looking for a new book to try? Not sure where to start? You’re in the right place!

(Imagine me saying all of that in a game-show host type of voice. That’s how it sounds to me at least.)

What I’ve been reading this week:

Booth: A Novel by David M. Robertson– This novel follows the path of John Wilkes Booth as he plots and carries out the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.  The story is told from the perspective of John Surratt, a friend of Booth’s who was tried as a conspirator in the plot but was not convicted.  In the novel, John Surratt is a young man who works as a photographer’s assistant in order to avoid being conscripted into the army during the Civil War.  He is easily led and respects Booth as an actor, as well as being honored by his friendship. Booth uses Surratt to get information and pass messages, without Surratt realizing the depth of his involvement in the plot.

This was an interesting novel about a piece of history that I have not read about before. As a reader, you find yourself feeling sympathy towards Surratt, who is just a young man that does not realize the consequences and profundity of Booth’s actions. Although it’s fiction, I believe that it was well researched, and much of the information is factual. Overall, it was a well-thought-out book, and I enjoyed the plot and the historical information.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer– What a wonderful novel! Orringer tells the story of Andras Levi, a Hungarian Jew who studies architecture in Paris before World War II.  Andras excels at his studies, and he also falls in love with a ballet teacher, Claire Morgenstern. He discovers a connection to Claire when she confesses that her name is actually Klara, and she is from Hungary as well. Klara is older than Andras and has a daughter, as well as many secrets about her previous life. Andras continues to pursue her, even when he is forced to return to Hungary due to the outbreak of war.  Andras must serve as a labor worker for the army for the majority of the war, along with his two brothers and other friends.

This was a beautiful and heart wrenching story. It was well told in a unique voice.  It did drag on at times, at it’s fairly long. The characters are real and believable, and Orringer displayed a wonderful grasp of her characters, the setting, and the direction of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and highly recommend it. As with any WWII novel, there are parts that are sad and hard to read, but it’s definitely worth the time.

In Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel SawyerIn Every Heartbeat tells the story of three orphans going to college together, each with a different dream for the future. Pete, Libby, and Bennett each come from difficult circumstances, and they hope to make a name for themselves and find fulfilment. Pete, kicked him out of his home as a child, harbors a great deal of bitterness towards his parents. Libby wants to become a famous journalist, and Bennett hopes to surround himself with popular friends. Their dreams sometimes seem to draw them apart, but their friendship is the strongest bond.

In my opinion, this was just okay. It’s really hard to find well-written, enjoyable Christian fiction.  I enjoyed the plot line and the characters, but parts of the story just seemed unbelievable and unlikely. There were parts that were too preachy.  This was a pretty quick read. I did like the characters, but I felt that Sawyer could have done a more realistic job in portraying their development.

Kiss River by Diane Chamberlain– Surprise! Another Chamberlain novel. I’m actually still in the middle of this one, but I should finish it later today. In this novel, Gina Higgins travels to the remote island of Kiss River in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Ostensibly, she is there as an amateur lighthouse historian, and she is trying to raise the one-of-a-kind lens that was lost in the ocean when the lighthouse suffered damage.  Gina lives with Clay and Lacey, a brother and sister, in the lighthouse keeper’s home, the same home of 14 year old Bess, whose diary Gina possesses. Chapters alternate between Gina’s pursuit of raising the lens and Bess’s experience as a teenager living on the coast during WWII. Both Bess and Gina’s stories unfold as the novel progresses.

You already know that I’m a fan of Diane Chamberlain! So far, I’m really enjoying this novel.  Her characters have depth, like real people, and the plot line is unpredictable.  Although Chamberlain often includes a love story, the goal of the novel is not to be a love story. It’s a mystery and suspense novel that happens to include some romance. The best of both worlds!

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