February 2015 books

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and AlexandraThe Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Heartbreaking. I have read my share of Romanov books, most notably Nicholas and Alexandra, but Rappaport has stripped away the politics and posturing and supporting characters and left us with a tender portrait of a loving family. She never loses the father/mother/daughters/son thread, but carries it all the way through to the family's bitter end.

Really well done book, and different from any biography of the Romanovs I've read before. I grant that politics are very relevant to the Romanovs' story, but just once it was nice to read about a family whose fate was tied to Russia's, but not slog through the minutiae of said fact.

Plus, this book made more clear than ever that if you could go back in time and change one teensy little thing, making the Romanovs have a son instead of four daughters could have absolutely changed the way world events unfolded in the early 20th century.



All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In a word, this book is pathetic. Not in the Adnan-said-to-Jay sense, but in the "related to emotions" sense. (Maybe the kids these days would say this book has "all the feels"?) I liked it, but now that it's over, I feel manipulated and used.

I can even pinpoint the moment when this book derailed for me: in the chapter that talks about the boiling frog. First of all, the thing about the frog not jumping out of water brought slowly to a boil is not even true. Second of all, the way it was used was not subtle at all, like the author was hitting me over the head with a sledgehammer made of pathos.

Then came the scene with the girl in Vienna and again, it was like PATHOS PATHOS PATHOS.

I don't know, there are far, far worse books out there, but I was drawn in by the Wait Until Dark + Guernsey Potato Peel Pie premise and interesting characters, so I expected more than heavy-handed tugs on the heartstrings brought on by Bad Things happening just for the sake of it.

But I still would recommend it. Like I said, I liked it.

Downton Abbey 5.Christmas Special (Season Finale) SPOILERS

February 27th, outsourced