Recent Reads vol 3.


5 stars
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson 
*giveaway for this book at the bottom of this post!

I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a review. To be honest, there weren’t a ton of books to choose from this time, and this seemed like the best option of what was available. I had no idea what to expect, except that it has a ton of great reviews on Goodreads.

Well, wow. This book was fantastic. So well written and extremely well edited (hard to find these days!), heartbreaking but also filled with hope. It is written by a lawyer who provides legal defense for criminals on death row, juveniles condemned to life in prison, and justice for those who have been wrongfully convicted and/or received unfair sentences. It definitely gave me a lot to think about and is so timely for this decade. I wish so much that we as citizens could put full trust in those who have sworn to protect us and those who work as part of the justice system, and I know that there are many who do their job well and I appreciate their sacrifice! It is not all bad or all good. The system is broken, and the stories shared in this book are real evidence of this sad fact. As the author states at the end of the book: there is still work to do.

Just Mercy would be a great way for someone to explore the criminal justice system and issues of race and poverty within the United States. Honestly, I wish everyone would read it! 

I am giving away my copy for free to anyone who would like to read this book. Just enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post, and I will choose a winner next week!

4.5 stars
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson

Those who have been reading my book reviews for a while are probably aware of my love for Erik Larson. To put it simply: he is one of my favorite writers of historical nonfiction. These books are based completely on a real event but read for the most part like fiction. His use of sources and his giant section of annotated notes show careful, detailed research that amazes me.

I found this book fascinating, tragic, and a book I stayed up way too late reading one night. If you are not a fan of history and want a book that is just about the actual sinking of the Lusitania, this might not be for you. Erik Larson builds backstory surrounding the world's history at the start of the 20th century; information about U-boats, the captains, and life on the submarines; and also introduces us to the characters who sail on the ship. The book has 4 parts, and the final part deal entirely with what happens after the sinking, including how the United States finally became involved in WWI. I learned a lot I didn't know about this period in history and found it all quite interesting!

4 stars
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

I’ll just say it: I read this because everyone else is reading it. I like to be a leader, but sometimes I’m a follower. Initially I found the story a bit hard to understand some of the science stuff, and you have to suspend disbelief and sort of just go with it, but this is definitely a page-turner. The style of short, choppy sentences makes the book move quickly. It has a really creative plot, and I liked all the characters. This is intense but not scary or too graphic, although there are a few short violent scenes and occasionally the F word. I liked the author's overall point about accepting the choices we've made and enjoying our lives for what they are. If you are worried this book will be scary like horror, don’t be! I can’t do horror or scary of any kind, but this was more of a thriller.

4 stars
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

This book follows two women from two time periods: 1911 and 2011. It was interesting and a nice change of pace to read historical fiction from a time period other than WWII, and I thought the author did a great job crafting the story and moving between time periods. The majority of the story takes place in the past.

2.5 stars
The Lavender Garden by Lucinda Riley

This story takes place in two different timelines (1943/44) and (1999/2000) and traces the connection between two families and their experiences during WWII. The first quarter of the book was slooooow and I considered quitting, but then it did pick up once we went back to the earlier time. In both timelines, there were characters and plot lines I really enjoyed and others I didn't.

The characters of both eras in many ways (intentionally by the author) mirrored each other, and I honestly found both main female characters extremely annoying. Also, without spoiling it, there was also a character I KNEW something was up with from the beginning and the main character just kept making excuses for his behavior and it was quite ridiculous and I was like come on already! I normally am bad at guessing things, but this was pretty obvious.

I ended up skimming near the end because I wanted to know what happened but also wanted to be finished with the book. I don't know if I'd straight up say don't read this, because I think it was an interesting story and was a pretty quick read, but it's also not one I'd highly recommend. It has good reviews on Goodreads, but I’ve read a lot of historical fiction from this time period, and this one didn’t do it for me.

Now for a giveaway! Enter to win a copy of Just Mercy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Ashley H said...

I entered the giveaway but I'm adding this to my list on Good Reads. The system is definitely broken. Sounds like an interesting read!

I'm reading This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel right now... about halfway through. It's about a little boy who identifies as a girl.

StephTheBookworm said...

Just had to check my Goodreads and my last 5 star read was My Lovely Wife in the Psych Ward by Mark Lukach. Mental health memoir. So good.

Joy Lynn said...

The first two books sounds intriguing and interesting. May have to check them out this summer. I am almost done with The Road to Becoming by Jenny Simmons. Been a great read for the season I find myself in and a great encouragement that I am not alone in it, others have been there too, and God is in the midst of every bit of it.

Nadine said...

I have had Dark matter on my list for awhile and I haven't gotten to it yet. I feel like I need to be in the mood for it? Glad you liked Just Mercy! There weren't a whole lot of books from them last time I picked one either. I have better luck on Netgalley but of course they are all ebooks and it is nice you actually get a physical book from them.

AnneMarie said...

Wow, Just Mercy sounds amazing! As does the book about the Lusitania. I think that I really don't read enough books (fiction and non-fiction) that are about/set during WWI, and I am adding that one to my list right now!

Jen said...

Just Mercy sounds like a great book! I may have to add that to my list.

The Lady Okie said...

It was really good! It gave me a lot to think about!

The Lady Okie said...

I remember your review on that one! Sounds really good!

Michelle said...

Ooo I want to read Just Mercy. I loved Dead Wake! Erik Larsen is a gem. I can't imagine doing that much research. He is just brilliant.

Torrie said...

Hmmmm...I've been seeing Dark Matter everywhere, and I'll admit, I hate not having read what everyone else is reading! Maybe I'll make my husband read it first, and then I can decide for sure, ha ha :)

Robyn B said...

most of my reading this past year has been for school b/c grad school doesn't leave much free time for pleasure reading ;) but i did read American Dream by Jason DeParle for my policy class & it was interesting!

Audrey Louise said...

Almost all winner this past month! I'm definitely going to check out "A Fall of Marigolds" but your giveaway book sounds interesting, too!

Kaizen Fashion Project said...

When Breath Become Air by Paul Kalanithi, it's more thank excellent. A best friend of mine told me about Just Mercy earlier this year and I have been wanting to read it since. Thank you for the chance to potentially win a copy. xx
heatheranne 99 at gmail dot com

Rach said...

Just Mercy has been on my to-read list for a couple of weeks now ever since a friend read it and loved it. For her, she is very involved in orphan care (she and her husband currently have their second foster care placement living with them) so she definitely has seen a lot of brokenness in the system firsthand. I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed it as well. Currently I'm trying to read all the parenting books (#typeA), but I have this one on my to-read list for after Baby arrives (because clearly by then I'll have the whole parenting thing figured out). :)

Betsy said...

oh man Bryan Stevenson spoke at my sister's law school graduation and he was AMAZING. so passionate and dedicated - all of the newly minted lawyers who had accepted jobs at big corporate firms were regretting their decision not to go into public interest law by the time he finished his speech!

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

Just Mercy sounds interesting! I'm pinning this for later!