What I’m Reading: DUDS!

I happen to get my hands on a couple of dud books right in a row.  That’s so depressing.

The first book that was on my dud list is The Elephant of Belfast by S. Kirk Walsh.


When I listened to the book I was sure it was written by a man but was surprised when I did the review that it was written by a woman.  Here are a couple of the problems I had when reading the book.

The main character comes home from stealing an elephant.  The elephant is in the backyard.  She goes into the house sees her dead sister’s husband there uninvited going through the house.  The virgin main character ignores what the brother-in-law was doing in her home…ignores that her mother is missing for over 24 hours…ignores that people are going to be coming after her for stealing the elephant and has sex with the brother-in-law.  I’m sorry, in the world I live in inside my head-  THAT WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED.

In another place, in the book, a guy gets too aggressive with her sexually and she continues to be friends with him…continues to think of him as a possible boyfriend.  That also doesn’t happen in my world.

If someone is too aggressive with me, they are gone.  Period.  I know everyone isn’t that way but I am so the book was really hard for me to relate to so, I quit reading it.

Here is what Amazon had to say:
Inspired by true events, this vivid and moving story of a young woman zookeeper and the elephant she’s compelled to protect through the German blitz of Belfast during WWll speaks to not only the tragedy of the times, but also to the ongoing sectarian tensions that still exist in Northern Ireland today—perfect for readers of historical and literary fiction alike.

Belfast, October 1940. Twenty-year-old zookeeper Hettie Quin arrives at the city docks in time to meet her new charge: an orphaned three-year-old Indian elephant named Violet. As Violet adjusts to her new solitary life in captivity and Hettie mourns the recent loss of her sister and the abandonment of her father, new storm clouds gather. A world war rages, threatening a city already reeling from escalating tensions between British Loyalists and those fighting for a free and unified Ireland.

The relative peace is shattered by air-raid sirens on the evening of Easter Tuesday 1941. Over the course of the next five hours, hundreds of bombs rain down upon Belfast, claiming almost a thousand lives and decimating the city. Dodging the debris and carnage of the Luftwaffe attack, Hettie runs to the zoo to make sure that Violet is unharmed. The harrowing ordeal and ensuing aftermath set the pair on a surprising path that highlights the indelible, singular bond that often brings mankind and animals together during horrifying times.

Inspired by a largely forgotten chapter of World War II, S. Kirk Walsh deftly renders the changing relationship between Hettie and Violet, and their growing dependence on each other for survival and solace. The Elephant of Belfast is a complicated and beguiling portrait of hope and resilience—and how love can sustain us during the darkest moments of our lives.

The book only had a 4.1 rating from Amazon readers.  I reviewed it on Amazon.  I would have given it a zero but that wasn’t allowed.  You can read the reviews HERE on Amazon.

The other book that I didn’t finish reading was In Another Time by Jillian Cantor.

In Another Time: A Novel
Look at the cover.  Doesn’t it look good.  It looks totally like something I would like.  It’s historical fiction looking AND it’s WWII which I have often appreciated.

I was listening along.  The book seemed like a plot I could wrap myself around and then BAM!  The author throws in an element of “seeing into the future”.  UGH.

I tried to get past it but just couldn’t. I’m not a fantasy type of girl and sticking that in the middle of novel about WWII and the suffering that happened during that period shouldn’t have that.  So I put the book down for a couple of days thinking I’d go back to it and never did.

Here is what Amazon had to say about it..
A sweeping historical novel that spans Germany, England, and the US and follows a young couple torn apart by circumstance leading up to World War II – and the family secret that may prove to be the means for survival.

Love brought them together. But only time can save them….

Germany, 1931. Bookshop owner Max Beissinger meets Hanna Ginsberg, a budding concert violinist, and immediately, he feels a powerful chemistry between them. It isn’t long before they fall in love and begin making plans for the future. As their love affair unfolds over the next five years, the climate drastically changes in Germany as Hitler comes to power. Their love is tested with the new landscape and the realities of war, not the least of which is that Hanna is Jewish and Max is not. But unbeknownst to Hanna is the fact that Max has a secret that causes him to leave for months at a time – a secret that Max is convinced will help him save Hanna if Germany becomes too dangerous for her because of her religion. 

In 1946, Hanna Ginsberg awakens in a field outside of Berlin. Disoriented and afraid, she has no memory of the past 10 years and no idea what has happened to Max. With no information as to Max’s whereabouts – or if he is even still alive – she decides to move to London to live with her sister while she gets her bearings. Even without an orchestra to play in, she throws herself completely into her music to keep alive her lifelong dream of becoming a concert violinist. But the music also serves as a balm to heal her deeply wounded heart, and she eventually gets the opening for which she long hoped. Even so, as the days, months, and years pass, taking her from London to Paris to Vienna to America, she continues to be haunted by her forgotten past and the fate of the only man she has ever loved and cannot forget.

Told in alternating viewpoints – Max in the years leading up to WWII and Hanna in the 10 years after – In Another Time is a beautiful novel about love and survival, passion and music, across time and continents.”

Amazon readers did like this book.  They gave it 4.4 stars.  I’m glad the book wasn’t a waste for them.

So…after two dud books, I’ve given up for a bit and am listening to podcasts.  I need a really good book.  Does anyone have any good recommendations??  I miss books but don’t want another dud.

31 thoughts on “What I’m Reading: DUDS!

    1. Lisa B

      I just finished Falling by T J Newman. Before that was The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. I’ve been on a roll of good books lately, but I rarely read ww books.

      Reply
        1. Sue GRADE

          A good WWIi book is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Shaffer and Barrows. The channel island of Guernsey was occupied by the German army during the entire war.

          Reply
  1. Pat Hemza

    I am so pleased to be following your blog. I am new, so I don’t know for sure your taste in books. I do have to tell you about two books I loved, and hated them to come to an end. Both are by David Rhodes. He is from Wisconsin and his books have the taste of the midwest. He also has quite a story himself. The books are #1. DRIFTLESS AND #2.JEWELWEED. Good luck. Sewing and quilting and books, how lucky are we folks to have those things in our lives.

    Reply
  2. Ellie

    I’ve enjoyed several by Kate Quinn. The Alice Network and The Rose Code were two I really enjoyed from the WW 2 era. Good luck!

    Reply
    1. Judith Fairchild

      Just heard of a book that might interest you called Gum Moon. It’s about a Chinese help center in San Francisco from 1900 to 1909. I’m thinking of getting it. I liked the blurb.

      Reply
  3. Sherry

    I’m with you on this one. When I find myself questioning the decisions of characters in a book, I might conclude that the author is younger and doesn’t have much life experience. This might not be accurate, but it could explain writing or character decisions influenced by raging hormones!

    Reply
  4. Teresa in TN

    Jo, you probably read these, but I loved A Marriage of Opposites and The Nightingale, both by Alice Hoffman.

    Reply
  5. Marie C

    The Persain Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
    The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
    Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
    I also agree about A Gentleman from Moscow it was excellent.

    Reply
    1. pam

      The Persian Pickle Club is one of my favorite books. I re read it every year. I have read all of Sandra Dallas’s books and I like this one the best.

      Reply
  6. Linda S.

    Any books by Bodie Thoene (pronounced “Tay-nee”). She and her husband have written dozens of historical fiction books, many centering around WW2. I’d recommend starting with “Vienna Prelude” which is first in a series of 5. I loved them!

    Reply
    1. Norma

      I loved Shiloh Autumn by the Thrones and the two preceding books (I can’t remember the names). They’re depression era in the U S and let me see things I hadn’t known before.

      Reply
  7. Sylvia Adair

    Hi, Jo! So sorry your books were duds. Have you read the Maggie Hope books, by Susan Elia MacNeal? It’s a series, set in WWII. The first book is Mr. Churchill’s Secretary. Suspenseful, well-researched, nine books so far, and I’ve read all nine! Good luck and good reading!

    Reply
  8. Christa Jackson

    I also enjoyed many of the previously mentioned books. Have you read “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly? It is a WWII historical fiction and a series.

    Reply
  9. Marsha H

    Have you read William Kent Krueger’s books Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land. Both are set in Minnesota. Ordinary Grace takes place in 1961 and This Tender Land takes place in 1932. There tragic but sweet and since I’m also an Iowa girl the familiarity of the location is enjoyable.

    Reply
    1. Jo Post author

      I’ve read them both. I’m a native Minnesotan so I especially enjoyed them both. I look eagerly look for more books by him.

      Reply
  10. Evelyn Haupert

    One of my favorites is The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson. This is a delightful story about romantic, class snobbery and the everybody-knows-everybody complications of living in a small town taking place just before World War I. .

    Reply
  11. carol harm

    If you haven’t read Louise Penney’s inspector Ganache series, do yourself a favor and start! I’m reading her most recent and they just keep getting better and better!
    The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave was good, too.

    Reply

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