When the Moon is Low

This one took me a loooooong time to listen to. Started it in April then finished it in October.

When the Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi is about a family in Afghanistan who become a target of the Taliban regime. Forced to flee with forged papers, Fereiba’s only goal is to bring her children to her sister’s in London when the unthinkable happens: her son, Saleem is separated from the rest of the family.

The beginning of the book was wonderful. All about Fereiba’s youth in Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban. It was fascinating! I learned so much! It helps that the narrator (Sneha Mathan) has a beautiful voice. However, the narration suddenly switches to Saleem’s story, which makes sense by the end, but the transition felt so forced at the time. We had so much time invested in Fereiba’s story– from her youth to adulthood– that to switch to a new voice, with very little background on the character outside his mother’s observations was odd. Also, Neil Shah’s voice seemed particularly grating after Sneha’s.

Like I said, the narration switch eventually makes sense, but it threw me off, and I took a loooong break from listening for a while. Once I got back into the swing of the story it was fine. Although I do think it ended rather abruptly given the amount of buildup and background on Fereiba.

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On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service

Over Labor Day Weekend I listened to the newest installment of Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series, On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service (I just realized I didn’t blog about Crowned and Dangerous, which I also read this year. Oops). During a meeting with the Queen to discuss Georgie’s renouncement in the line of succession and her (hopefully) upcoming wedding, it’s discovered that Georgie plans on visiting Italy to be with Belinda who is soon to have her baby. Turns out the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson will also be in the area, and the Queen asks Georgie to do a bit more spying on the Prince and “that woman.” As one cannot say no to the Queen, and the potential permission to marry Darcy (a Catholic) is on the line, Georgie agrees.

Of course, our whole cast of characters finds their way to Italy in one way or another and antics ensue. In many ways this installment is more serious than the others. Hitler’s threat becomes more real, Bowen begins to discuss the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson’s alleged Nazi leanings, Belinda is having a baby in secret, and Georgie and Darcy are finally planning a wedding. Despite the serious subject matter I found On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service to be one of the better chapters in Georgie’s adventure. It didn’t rely as much on cheap jokes and fantastical situations (ghosts in Malice at the Palace and Vampires in Royal Blood come to mind).

I’m very curious to see where the series will go from here. I did some research and King George passes away in January, 1936. Our story here ends in spring 1935. We all know from history class and The King’s Speech that the Prince of Wales abdicates the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, and shortly(ish) after World War II breaks out. Will the series continue once the Prince and “that woman” are married? It’s such a plot point that I hope it doesn’t. However, it would be interesting to see what Georgie and Darcy get up to during World War II. I imagine all kinds of spying missions…

Wonder Woman

I’ve been on a bit of a superhero kick recently. My husband got me hooked on Arrow and The Flash, we watched all the Avengers movies in order recently (although we still haven’t seen the newest Spiderman), and we saw Wonder Woman of course. One of Book Riot’s challenges is to read a Superhero Comic with a female lead, so a Wonder Woman story was the obvious choice. Having seen the movie I knew a tiny bit about Wonder Woman’s story but still had to google various characters. Also, since Arrow and The Flash are in the D.C. Universe I kept trying to make connections there that didn’t exist.

I’m glad I read Wonder Woman: Volume One: The Lies, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. First off, the story is super confusing since Diana doesn’t know what is a true memory anymore and what is legend and what is someone sabotaging her memory. So as readers, especially someone new to the storyline, I had no idea either. Which is mostly fine, but then we never find out! I know the story has to continue on to the next volume, but some closure would be nice.

Lastly, I didn’t realize that comics often have different artists, so throughout the volume the art changed and the characters looked different. It wasn’t hugely problematic, but it was annoying.

Book Riot Reading Challenge: A superhero comic with a female lead

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book becoming a movie in 2017

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life

I can’t quite pinpoint why this book took me so long to read. At one point I even marked at DNF on Goodreads. For one thing, it is slightly more violent than I had expected. Somehow I must have missed the murder portion of the book blurb. With that said, it isn’t a particularly violent book, just different than I had expected. Pretty sure I saw the pretty cover, read “pirate,” and skipped the rest of the description.

The Romance Reader’s Guide to Life by Sharon Pywell centers around two sisters- Lilly and Neave (which I never really figured out how to pronounce)- who are very close and very different. Lilly is flighty and interested in fun while Neave is awkward and prefers spending time with books to people, especially The Pirate Lover, a romance novel she took from an elderly neighbor.

As the two sisters grow older they start their own cosmetics business, in the same vein as Mary Kay and Avon, and Lilly finds herself involved with a charming and manipulative man. When she dies, it’s up to dead Lilly in the beyond, with the help of the old faithful family dog, to save Neave.

The story of Lilly and Neave is interspersed with chapters from the romance novel Neave reads over and over. I hate to admit this, since it shows you just how dense I can be, but I didn’t realize until the last few chapters that the plot of the The Pirate Lover and the main story mirror each other.

Behind Her Eyes

I’m not even sure where to begin this one! A friend of mine wrote about this book on her blog a while back and I put it on hold at the library. Months later I finally get a copy and I have completely forgotten why I put it on hold in the first place. I know I’m not actually going to read it, so I send it off to the next person in the line. Fast forward what feels like a month or two, but in reality was probably a week, maybe two, and I start reading and hearing all about Grip Lit. Suddenly I have a huge desire to read a Grip Lit novel and the only one available to me on Cloud Library is Behind Her Eyes. I started reading and could not stop. I finished in just over 24 hours.

Behind Her Eyes tells the story of Louise, a single mother in London who has a one night stand with a guy on a rare night at the bar. Later she discovers that man is her new boss, David. When she runs into her boss’s wife and starts up an unlikely friendship, Louise finds herself drawn more and more into the mysterious lives of David and Adele. What secrets are they hiding? Why does Adele seems so afraid of David? Why doesn’t Adele have any other friends?

While the writing wasn’t amazing or anything and the whole plot basically revolves around Louise making stupid choices, it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. I thought I had it all figured out too (parts of the story reminded me of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger), but then that last chapter came… and all I can say is WOW!

If you’re looking for something that will suck you in, and maybe break that reading lull you’re going through (I’m still off and on the reading bandwagon recently) this is the book for you!

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book with an unreliable narrator

Modern Mrs. Darcy Challenge: A book in a genre you usually avoid

Comics!

I have a newfound appreciation for comics. I follow several comic artists on Instagram (emilyscartoons, lucyknisley, bymariandrew, and sarahandersencomics) and am always open to finding more. So when I saw Sarah Andersen’s Adulthood is a Myth on the shelves on a slow day at work I grabbed it and devoured it. So many of the comics spoke to me and made me laugh. However, I think Andersen plays a little too much into the period, my uterus is trying to kill me humor. Not that I can’t relate, but I wish there was a bit more variety.

A few days later I found Big Mushy Happy Lump and while I appreciated that there were some story arcs and not just one page comics, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Adulthood is a Myth. Maybe it’s because while scrolling through Instagram seeing comics on the same few themes is okay because there is so much other stuff to break up the monotony, but in book form, it’s more obvious. Anyway, Adulthood is a Myth seemed to me, to be more original, while Big Mushy Happy Lump was out only to capitalize on the first’s success.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid was wonderful! It’s been awhile since a book sucked me in so quickly. There’s something so fascinating and yet relatable about Evelyn. Doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for historical fiction and I love old movies… Monique on the other hand, was a needed character, but she had no personality whatsoever. I generally skimmed her parts.

However, my brain is hurting today, so I’m copying and pasting the blurb from Goodreads:

From Taylor Jenkins Reid comes an unforgettable and sweeping novel about one classic film actress’s relentless rise to the top—the risks she took, the loves she lost, and the long-held secrets the public could never imagine.

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump start her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Filled with emotional insight and written with Reid’s signature talent, this is a fascinating journey through the splendor of Old Hollywood into the harsh realities of the present day as two women struggle with what it means—and what it takes—to face the truth.

I don’t want to ruin anything for those who haven’t read it yet, but there are a few big twists, about which I’d like to hear others’ opinions. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was also a huge departure from Reid’s other works (granted I’ve only read two of them). And I think she did a great job! Maybe it was just the subject matter, but it reminded me a bit of Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters, which I also loved. I guess this is telling me that I need to read more fiction about the golden age of cinema.

PopSugar Reading Challenge: A Book set in two time periods

Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge: Read three book by the same author (Maybe in Another LifeAfter I Do, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo)

Book Riot Read Harder Challenge: an LGBTQ Romance Novel