Before reading The Shattered Tree, a Bess Crawford mystery, I was unfamiliar with the mother-son writing pair, Charles Todd. Charles and Caroline Todd come from a family filled with storytellers and write books together!
Bess Crawford is an English battlefield nurse during World War I and one night, an injured officer is brought to Bess’s station. He’s freezing, bloody, and was found besides a shattered tree. As Bess stabilizes him she’s surprised to learn that the officer isn’t British, he’s actually wearing a French uniform and speaks fluent German. Her curiosity and suspicion spark the story that unfolds in The Shattered Tree.
Soon after, Beth is wounded and sent to Paris to heal. It turns out that this mysterious man is also in Paris although his whereabouts are unknown. Beth can’t shake the thought of him; what if he’s a spy? She goes on a mission to find the man with the help of American Captain Barkley.
I thought Bess was pushy and nosy although her determination was impressive. She had very little connection to this officer and mystery she stumbles upon. Despite this, she pushes her way in. Throughout the story there was a sense of urgency, however I didn’t feel it as a reader.
Unfortunately, I had a hard time engaging with the story although it was an interesting idea.
Sometimes a book is so endearing and nostalgic to teenage years that you can’t help getting brought along for the ride. For me, The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak is one of these stories. The book feels like a shout-out to all the teenagers who feel out of place and awkward.
Billy is a fourteen-year-old teenager who spends most of his time hanging out with his friends, playing video games, and thinking about girls while also avoiding them. Despite having terrible grades in school, Billy’s brilliant with computers and has taught himself to code his own games.
When an edition of Playboy is released featuring Vanna White, Billy and his two best friends will do just about anything to see the photos. Because they’re under eighteen (and cannot legally purchase the magazine), they develop an elaborate plot to get their hands on a copy. In the process, Billy meets Mary Zelinsky and everything changes. She’s an expert programmer and together they develop The Impossible Fortress, a video game, to enter in a large competition. Of course the plan gets off track and Billy finds himself torn between what he knows is right and peer pressure.
One of the major themes of the book is sharing what it feels like to be a teenager when anything feels possible and you’re at the beginning of rest of your life. I really felt for Billy, a shy, hopeful, and at times, naïve kid. Despite his principal openly telling him that his future is drear and video game programming isn’t a career option, he works even harder to complete The Impossible Fortress. I was rooting for him!
In the end I was a bit confused about Mary’s motivations (Jason Rekulak, I have a few questions for you!) that I don’t feel were well explained, but overall this book is really good! The Impossible Fortress shares many similarities with Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (which I really liked as well) and I recommend both!
I thought this quote sums up Billy’s teenage temperament well:
“I didn’t try to compete with either of them. All I knew was that I didn’t know anything.”
Are you looking for a romantic comedy with some sharp edges? Check out Monsters: A Love Story by Liz Kay for a book filled with sarcasm, romance, and quite a bit of swearing.
Stacey Lane is a poet, a widow, and a mother. When her husband Michael died, she quickly begins to feel like she’s losing control and focus. The story begins when her book of poetry is chosen by an A-list Hollywood actor Tommy DeMarco to be made into a film. From the first time they meet, a romantic tension builds between them and is filled with snarky banter and physical connections. Before long, these feelings grow into something neither of them knows how to handle.
Throughout the book, which spans years as the movie goes through production and it’s release, everything seemed to fall into place too perfectly. It’s not only the positive things; the bad things seemed to fit too easily into place as well. Unfortunately, the story felt unrealistic and slightly predictable, but sometimes that’s what makes a light story enjoyable in it’s own way.
I found it strange that at times Stacey’s character would say things that implied she’s a feminist fighting off unrealistic expectations of women, but then her actions would prove to be the opposite. Regardless of her stance, the character felt inconsistent. On the plus side, I thought Stacey’s son Stevie was very sweet!
Monsters: A Love Story is a light read (ideal for a vacation), however it wasn’t one that would make the list of my favorite reads.
This twisty, psycho-thriller will make you question relationships and the intentions of those within them. Even the title of the book, My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry, is eerie.
Lily and Ed are newlyweds, and after a very brief engagement, they have hopes for a happy future together. While living in London, they be-friend a young girl named Carla who lives in their building. We quickly learn that Carla knows how to keep a secret and tell a well-placed lie.
When Lily takes on her first murder case as a lawyer, she’s catapulted into a world of crime and deceit. Her client (Joe Thomas) both captivates and scares her at once. Although Lily may not see it upon meeting him, Joe goes on to play a part in her life for years to come.
Throughout the book it’s very clear that Lily has a big secret that she’s hiding from everyone – her husband, her friends, even herself at times. When Carla comes back into the lives of Lily and Ed (more than a decade later) everything Lily has worked to hide is at risk of coming to light.
The book is told from both Lily and Carla’s perspectives and without giving away any spoilers, I can say that my predictions had crossed back and forth quite a few times by the end of the book.
Quotes that stood out to me:
“But that’s how lies start. Small. Well meaning. Until they get too big to handle.”
“It occurred to me then, as it occurs to me frequently, that one never really knows a person properly. Especially ourselves.”
“If I was in my right mind, I’d go straight to the police… But instead I’m going to pay a visit. To my husband’s wife. “