REVIEW: The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood

The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood is a historical fiction novel based on the real-life Dionne Quintuplets, born in 1934 in a small farmhouse in rural Canada. The novel is written as a bunch of fictional journal entries by one of the quints’ nurses, Emma, with actual news articles interwoven throughout the novel. I thought it was an interesting and well-done way to present a real life story to modern readers.

This book started off REALLY strong. I loved the way that the author included actual news articles into the story. I really felt the stress of keeping FIVE infants alive (all the feedings, cleaning, washing, etc. etc). It made me so upset to see a mother torn apart from her children, and how these innocent children were exploited from birth by almost everyone around them. It was really heartbreaking. I loved learning about the quints, and essentially watching them grow up. I did a lot of googling to learn more about them, and their story is really tragic. Here‘s an article about the last remaining sisters.

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Unfortunately, the ending was abrupt and didn’t really fit well with the tone of the rest of the book. I was not thrilled with the dull ‘romance’ that the author tried to pull together and I certainly didn’t like the way that the author rushed to tie-up loose ends by smushing all of the correspondence together at the end. The ending incident was not fair because it essentially accused a real person of a fictitious crime.

The ending ruined the book for me. I was ready to give it a 5 star rating until the last 50 pages or so. While it is worth reading to learn about this historical tragedy, I think the author needed to change the ending to make sure it fit into the story much more seamlessly. In the end, I gave this 2.5/5 stars.

REVIEW: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

I LOVE a good downfall-of-the-United States story, and Wanderers was A GOOD ONE. It was a long, epic tale of science fiction, politics, and the resilience of humanity.

Shana wakes up one morning to find her sister, Nessie, sleepwalking, and unable to wake her. Other sleepwalkers join, and Shana and other loved ones ‘shepherd’ the ‘flock’ of sleepwalkers through the United States. These sleepwalkers cannot be stopped and will ignore any obstacle in their way. Scientists from the CDC are working non-stop to figure out what’s going on — why are the sleepwalkers impenetrable to needles? How can they survive without food? Why are others around the globe growing sick?

In addition to the medical mystery surrounding the walkers, we also see the affects of a right-wing splinter group that take advantage of the chaos swirling around the country, and act upon the racist things they were only saying privately. This was an interesting inclusion because I feel like it was really speaking not only to the current political climate, but because it’s an area not often explored when reading these types of massive apocalyptic novels.

Wendig does a phenomenal job of tying together all of the threads — the neo-Nazis, the shepherds & the flock, the CDC — in a way that is mostly understandable to the reader (I did have some trouble with the science, especially the artificial intelligence, because those are topics I just don’t know a ton about). While there aren’t any real people named as characters, I could see that he pulled inspiration from a number of current politicians and celebrities, often the most problematic ones. I really thought this novel was well-done, though a little lengthy. If you want to see one way the world ends, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out. 4/5 stars for me!

April 2019 Recap

  • Final Girls (Riley Sager) – 4/5 stars: a quick read with a great twist! I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, so I would have liked a little more connection with them in order to bump this up to a 5.
  • Vox (Christina Dalcher) – 5/5 stars: I breezed through this one in a day! This dystopian world which tried to silence women was a tough read during this day & age, but it was fascinating to see how it all played out.
  • The Perfect Couple (Elin Hilderbrand) – 4/5 stars: This author is amazing at making me feel like I’m on Nantucket with her writing! Throw in some Emily Giffin vibes & some really intense family drama and you’ve got yourself a fantastic beach read.
  • Miracle Creek (Angie Kim) – 4/5 stars: Lots of threads going on here: racism, honesty, immigration, family dynamics, betrayal, illnesses, infertility, and disabilities. They’re all woven together over the course of a murder trial. A courtroom drama & mystery all in one, reminiscent of earlier Jodi Picoult.
  • The Bride Test (Helen Hoang) – 4/5 stars: Esme & Khai have great chemistry and it was an adorable read. The fact that Esme was chosen by Khai’s mom felt strange to me, but only because it’s really not part of my culture. It was a little far-fetched and over-the-top, but sometimes the best romances are. Thanks to Berkeley & Goodreads for the free ARC.
  • The Last House Guest (Megan Miranda) – 3.5/5 stars:
    This was my first book by Megan Miranda and while I hope it won’t be the last, I can’t say it was a really great read for me. I found it difficult to connect to any of the characters and while there were some good twists at the end, I felt like the multiple locations/rental houses made it difficult for me to follow along with the whole time. Thanks to NetGalley & Simon and Schuster for the advanced e-galley.
  • Lost Roses (Martha Hall Kelly) – 5/5 stars: WW1, especially the Russian side of things, is an era of history I don’t know much about. This novel swept across Russia, Europe & back to the US, telling the story of 3 women torn apart by war, disease, and rebellion. Phenomenal storytelling! I can’t wait to read Lilac Girls, her previous book, and I’m pretty disappointed in myself that I haven’t gotten to it yet!
  • The Perfect Girlfriend (Karen Hamilton) 3.5/5 stars: The main character was a little wacky (and it’s really quite an understatement) and the whole ending wrapped up a little too ambiguously for me.
  • Born A Crime (Trevor Noah) – 5/5 stars: Just phenomenal. I just wrote a post reviewing it HERE: https://mommingandreading.com/2019/04/28/born-a-crime-trevor-noah/
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Born a Crime — Trevor Noah

I was so excited to find this on the shelf at Savers a few days ago — and I finished it in about a day! I LOVE The Daily Show and I think Trevor Noah puts a great spin on politics. However, I’ll admit that I don’t know much about South Africa or apartheid. Noah did an amazing job of providing context prior to each chapter of the laws, social norms, and what life was like in South Africa.

Trevor’s mom is arguably the most important character in the book — she was strong, resilient, rebellious, and in the purest form, wanted nothing but for her son to have a better life than she had growing up. Trevor was born while apartheid was still in place, a time where a white man & a black woman having a child together was literally illegal — hence Trevor being ‘born a crime.’ His mother worked so hard for Trevor, and to “feed your body, feed your spirit, and feed your mind.” (pg 71)

Trevor was constantly straddling races while growing up, and learned that language was a way to code-switch between the different ethnic groups which he belonged in. He credits this ability as a tool that helped him survive his life in South Africa. If you could speak the language, you could find common ground.

Trevor is only a few years older than I am but I found this memoir of his life in South Africa made me feel like my life experiences are completely inadequate! I guess that’s one of the reasons I love reading so much — I get to learn about other experiences in beautiful and thought-provoking ways.

If you haven’t read Born A Crime yet, I highly suggest you do! 5 star read for me, absolutely. I also know that he reads the audiobook, so if you’re someone interested in audiobooks, it’s been recommended to me in that medium as well.

Finally, I loved this clip of Trevor Noah traveling with his Daily Show crew to visit his grandmother in Soweto — enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s5iz6ml-qA