Marlene’s February Book Reviews


Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.  Whew, this has to be the saddest story I have listened to in years.  It’s not how awful war is or genocide or natural disaster or even terrible diseases.  It’s about a family trying to live day by day and how connections can become so distorted. So we have fathers who feel alienated and mothers who resent their pasts push their expectations on their children, or rather on one and essentially ignore the others.  It is enough for one to swear off having children if this is how wrong sincere parents can get it.  Sad, sad!!  I won’t say more or I will spoil the ending which is bittersweet.  Can I recommend this heart-wrenching tale?  Well, it’s a story that won’t leave me alone.  The writer grabs you and won’t let go.  It won’t make you feel good but it will keep you reading.  A RECOMMEND

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  Here is a captivating story that revolves around the power of love and the atrocities of war.  It’s a story of two sisters, one of whom is a resistance fighter, risking her life to save others.   It’s a story that will haunt you as you read about how living under Nazi occupation in France during WWII was a challenge for the survival of one’s soul as well as body.  It’s fiction but you know it is closer to the truth than we want to acknowledge.  It is even more frightening in this day of our dividing nation and the policies of the new president.  There is criticism that the character of Isabelle resembles the real life of Andree de Jongh without Hannah giving her any acknowledgement.  That is truly sad when Isabelle wanted recognition so badly and finally with the reunion, it is granted.  Shouldn’t Hannah have done that for Andree de Jongh?  But put that aside and enjoy a good read (actually a good listen as Hannah narrates her own story) where the characters and events will draw you in.  There is a great quote on the jacket: “In love we find out who we want to be.  In war we find out who we are.” A RECOMMEND

Destroyer Angel by Nevada Barr.  I have enjoyed other Anna Pigeon books by this author with great descriptions of National Parks and employee life with good plots.  But this was a disappointment and difficult to get through. We are faced not with nature but with the cruelties of men.  But Anna to the rescue.  Oh dear, she has acquired super abilities and against all odds defeats the bad guys.  It’s a weak plot, characters are shallow and too unbelievable.  Well, I will stretch my credibility meter if the plot is worth it.  This one isn’t.  NOT A RECOMMEND.



Voices from Chernobyl, The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich.  I bought this book upon the recommendation of a pen pal from Ukraine.  (Let me know if you want to borrow it.) This author, a renowned journalist interviewed survivors of the Chernobyl disaster. You will be drawn into the book with the first account, compelled to continue reading and you will be touched by the stories.  Not only will you be saddened by the events but angered by the lies the government used to get people to go in for the clean-up.  The disaster continues to affect the lives of those in this area and makes one question the value of nuclear power.  Certainly this book will make you want to bring those in power accountable as well as be assured of the safety measures around plants in your own country.  The stories are compelling and worthy of a read.  Even though I am still haunted by these stories it is A RECOMMEND


“Denial”   It is interesting to see how the legal system works in UK and how Lipstadt’s legal team approached the trial.  A RECOMMEND

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople”   Excellent story of the friendship between a man and a boy.   It is set in New Zealand with great photography and perfect casting.  You’ll have an enjoyable time with this one.

“Spotlight” Based on Boston Globe’s team of Investigative reporters who go on the hunt in spite of pressures from al sides.  May we see more of this in 2017!

“Bridgett Jones Diary No. 2”  Hilarious! Another one to relieve stress.  You will laugh out loud!



“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”  Maya Angelou