The Madness of Crowds by Louise Penny
A 5⭐️ Review
After taking us to Paris in All the Devils Are Here, Louise Penny brings us back to Three Pines in The Madness of Crowds, the 17th installment of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. I was so glad to open this beautiful edition and experience a return to the alluring Canadian village of Three Pines. Meeting the residents again was like coming home, a true sign of a great series for me.
But all is not well in Three Pines. The characters are cautiously tiptoeing out into a post-COVID-19 world. The pandemic has done to these characters what it has done to us in reality. There is fear and trepidation and a keen desire for a return to “normal,” despite a question of whether normal will ever exist again.
As the mystery unravels, Gamache shows his wisdom and gentle power, his love for his family and friends, and his innate drive to be morally good. Starting with his assignment to guard Professor Abigail Robinson to his vehement disgust against the woman’s claims of what society “needs,” Gamache battles with his own internal moral compass and watches his loved ones, especially his dear son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir, do the same.
This book is about what fear can do to people. It is gorgeous and haunting and a little too real. I wanted to savor every page but also rush to read the ending. Reading a story about a post-pandemic reality was difficult for me as it felt too real at times, but Ms. Penny is a master storyteller who has created characters and settings that move me. As always, I was amazed by her ability to turn a phrase, describe a character, and unpack a mystery in a way that felt like magic. I hope that all will be well in Three Pines for many more books in the future.
Book Review: Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
I love Kristin Hannah. There, I said it. She has a way of storytelling that engulfs you with emotions and embeds you in the characters’ lives.
So, it’s no wonder that I enjoyed Magic Hour. This is the oldest book of hers that I’ve read, and it felt much different than The Nightingale, The Great Alone, and The Four Winds, all of which I loved. The sister relationship between Julia and Ellie was a wonderful journey, but even more importantly, I loved Alice’s heartbreaking story. This child’s voice felt real, making the terror that she faced even more powerful.
While I won’t say this was my favorite Hannah read, I did really like it and cried like a baby. A solid 4⭐️ read.
Book Review: Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson
Jenny Lawson writes with honesty, vulnerability, and power. She brings truth to the page as she explains what it’s like to be in the dark hole of depression and anxiety while you lose shards of your soul. She brings levity to the story as she shares her wild experiences at the dentist, in Puerto Rico, and in her backyard. Her love of taxidermy — including Allie McGraw the alligator and Daenerys Targaryen the prairie dog/squirrel — as well as her late night Twitter sessions and her insistence that her missing phone is in the floorboards (really in her pocket) are just a few of the laugh-out-loud instances from Broken.
But it’s so much more than that. Jenny is helping to end the stigma of mental illness. She is open about her dark days and shares what of feels like to walk into the light — to be unsettled when you have good days because you’re not sure when the dark will come again. There’s a reason I used up nearly all my sticky tabs and almost an entire highlighter while reading this book. Because it’s that good. And because it’s that real.
Book Review (No Spoilers)
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas
I know, I know. A Court of Silver Flames has probably been all over social media since its release in February. But there’s a reason for that.
This book is freaking good, y’all.
Like any Sarah J Maas fan, I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I even bought the Kindle version because I couldn’t wait for my delayed hard copy any more. Ms. Maas took the Prythian world to the next level with her novel of Nesta and Cassian. With new mythology, new creatures, and new heat, this book is jam-packed with a great story, fierce action, and all the things the Maasdom has come to expect.
But she went even further here. In taking us back to the Night Court and sharing Nesta and Cassian with us, Ms. Maas managed to build a fantasy that also addresses mental health, self worth, and the Me Too movement. The struggles and desire for empowerment may be cloaked in Fae magic here, but they’re relatable to us humans as well.
A 5⭐️ read with an added 🔥 for heat
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
I start any book by Kristin Hannah with the expectation that she’s going to devastate my emotions with her characters and plot lines. And, with that in mind, The Four Winds did not disappoint!
I could feel the despair and heartache that these characters experienced in the Dust Bowl of 1930s Texas and in the neverending circle of poverty when Elsa, our heroine, moves her children to California in search of a better life. From the touching relationships between Elsa, her in-laws, her children, and her friends, and the emotive descriptions of the landscape during the Great Depression, Ms. Hannah has created a book that will stay with me for a long time.
I can’t recommend this 5⭐️ book enough!
What 5⭐️ book do you think people should read?
Book Review: Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
A 5⭐️ Read
Angie Thomas does it again. She’s ripped my heart out and then patched it back together with her beautiful prose, vivid imagery, and glorious characters. I truly hope Ms. Thomas continues to tell stories about Garden Heights because each novel gets better and better.
Concrete Rose is the story of Maverick Carter. He’s 17 and dealing with a too much: his dad is in prison, he’s dealing drugs outside of his gang’s operation, and he just found out he’s a father. That’s just the start of the challenges that Maverick faces in Concrete Rose, and every bit of his journey brings all the emotions.
With plenty of Easter eggs from The Hate U Give and On the Come Up, this book takes us back to the Garden Heights in the 1990s. It’s a powerful, emotional book that deserves all the Sevens, all the roses, and all the stars.
Fiona Davis is one of my favorite historical fiction authors. Her books are rich in story, characters, and setting, checking all the boxes for a great read.
The Lions of Fifth Avenue, Davis’s newest publication, is driven largely by its setting: the New York Public Library, with two intertwined stories occurring 80 years apart.
In 1913, Laura Lyons lives at the newly opened New York Public Library with her husband and two children. As her husband maintains his job as the library’s superintendent and works on his novel, Laura advocates for her own dream of becoming a journalist and is able to enroll at the Columbia Journalism School. When she pursues her schooling and discovers the Heterodoxy Club, where a group of “new women” are vocal about suffrage, health care, and independence, Laura makes choices that deeply impact her family and future. A mystery unfolds at home, with priceless first edition books disappearing from the library stacks.
As Laura’s story unfolds, we meet Sadie Donovan, a single woman in 1993 who works at the New York Public Library. Just as her career as a curator takes an upswing, Sadie is faced with her mother’s death and a crisis at the library that strangely echoes the experiences of her grandmother, Laura, 80 years before. Sadie must grapple with a mystery of her own while learning more about her family’s history.
I really enjoyed this book – another five-star read for me. The New York Public Library setting is just perfect. I would adore living amongst those stacks! Can you imagine living in a library like that glorious institution? It would be heaven on earth for me!
When an author removes her characters from a beloved setting, does the magic of a series end?
All the Devils Are Here is the newest installment in the tale of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of Three Pines. This book takes use away from that mysterious, beloved Canadian hamlet and places us in Paris, City of Light. This book is about family, secrets, and relationships. I loved the closer look at Gamache’s broken bond with his son, Daniel, and the continued father-son dynamic between Gamache and Jean-Guy Beauvior. The novel’s mystery is multi-layered, and the details are brought to life with Penny’s gorgeous prose. While I missed Three Pines and its inhabitants, I can confirm, the magic doesn’t end for Penny here.
This was a 5-star read for me, and it brought laughs and tears. I can’t wait for her next book!