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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

22/60 | Started 05.09.23 • Finished 05.15.23 | 4 stars

A delight to read! This tale of a frustrated writer who finds herself drawn from London to a literary society on the tiny island of Guernsey was incredibly entertaining.

I can’t think of anything lonelier than spending the rest of my life with someone I can’t talk to, or worse, someone I can’t be silent with.

The novel is uniquely narrated through the letters and telegrams passed between different characters. I enjoyed all of the characters so much - learning their personalities and quirks, their desires and let-downs, the experiences they were willing to share - all was a pleasure. I think each character was given its own slight voice through the writing style of his/her letters; maybe there could have been a stronger differentiation. I felt like it all moved along at a good pace, not getting bogged down in details or needless storytelling. And I loved how the romance of the story came about organically, without any innuendo - I'm not a big romance person but I found this really well done.

We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us.

I do think the ending happened a little abruptly and for that and the writing differences I docked a star. My understanding is that the author had a health issue during the finishing touches of the book and had to have another writer step in to finish it. I wonder if that truncated the book at all. Anyway. Definitely give this one a read if you like historical fiction and if you like a good love story without all the sappy romance. (Also, the movie did come out and from what I've heard it's pretty good!)

Remy watched the sea breathe in and out. Then she said, “It would have been better for her not to have such a heart.” Yes, but worse for the rest of us.

I Can Read It! Book 2, by John Holzmann

Started 02.15.23 • Finished 04.27.23

Carolyn's second reader! She's getting much faster with recognizing her sight words as well as sounding others out. She's even picked up on some rules and has been able to sound out new and trickier words. Pictures remain very distracting to our pace of reading though!

The Devil's Half Acre, by Kristen Green

21/60 | Started 04.26.23 • Finished 05.09.23 | 2 stars

Oh, for all the things this book could have been. It was promised as a tale of a strong enslaved woman rising above the oppression of her white enslaver/husband in order to redeem a slave jail by making it a school for post-war free black people. It contains a wealth of research and information that would have been a great discourse on the history of slavery, and especially those enslaved people who were forced to have children by their white enslaver.

Oh, for all the things this book wasn't! Goodness, I could not get over how many times Green used the words "maybe," "perhaps," or "imagine." There is so little information available about our heroine Mary Lumpkin that there is no way this book should have been marketed as her story. In that way, I felt that the book's synopsis was more of a bait and switch; a way to draw the reader in and then under-deliver. I honestly don't understand how the publisher let this go out as advertised.

In addition to not coming through on its promised narrative, the first and last chapters really show the author's bias and come off as heavy-handed and clunky instead of factual and winsome. It's too bad, because the Green is clearly a master researcher and amassed a mountain of material for this book that sadly fell short of her intended end. There are far better books to read when it comes to the history of slavery and actual accounts of slavery by former slaves themselves. I'd choose something else.

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