Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

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“Reader, I murdered him.”

I’m going to try to keep this review short, mostly because it depresses me to think that I actually am giving this such a low rating. Out of all the books on my “Must Read of 2018” list, I was most excited for this one. I was also the most positive that I would five star it, but here we are.

I also read Jane Eyre this year in preparation for this book that celebrates that story, which is even more funny because I ended up five starring it. Sadly, Jane Steele did a good homage to the original source material, but I could just never bring myself to care. Which is extra sad, because in this story Jane is a serial killer.

And much like in Jane Eyre, this book has a very dark and feminist tone. It really showcases that people never want to believe women, especially not young girls, but would rather give powerful men the benefit of the doubt. Jane only kills to survive, and each life she takes is because the person will not take the word “no” seriously from a girl.

Reader, I was so damn bored. I was a little intrigued at the start. I mean, it is hard to not get hyped about a serial killer who loves Jane Eyre. But as more and more time went on, I just cared less and less. Also, I really was leading myself to believe there was going to be a sapphic relationship in this, only to cry over what could have been, and that’s never a good feeling, even if I queer-baited myself.

Overall, this isn’t a retelling of Jane Eyre, but a celebration of the story, starring a girl obsessed with the original work. This just wasn’t what I thought it would be, and I was bored throughout most of it. Perhaps I just overhyped this for myself. I don’t know what the problem was, or why I could never fully get invested in Jane or her story, but I will say that 2018 has been the year of me hating almost every historical fiction I pick up, so perhaps take this review with a grain of salt.

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Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, loss of a loved one, attempted sexual assault, miscarrying, domestic abuse, alcohol abuse, pedophilia comments, and war themes.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

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“Some stories don’t have happy endings. Even love stories. Maybe especially love stories.”

I know what a beloved book this is in the community. Recently, I did a blog post about the highest rated books on my TBR and The Nightingale was number one with a 4.55 average star rating, with 414,290 Ratings and 44,440 Reviews. Like, those are some powerful stats. But basically, after writing up that post, I knew that I had to read this beloved book and find out my thoughts on it.

This is a heartbreaking, historical fiction, WWII story that stars two sisters living in France, when the Germans take over in 1939. But we get to see present day glimpses from 1995, that star an older woman thinking about her life and all the harrowing events that she was forced to live through before immigrating to The United States. But it really develops this complex guessing game where you are not sure which sister is this present day narrator.

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.”

Vianne – Living in a small town in Carriveau with her daughter and husband, while grieving that she might not be able to have another child. But that fear and sadness take a backseat when her husband is forced to go to war.

Isabelle – Living in Paris with her father, since she has gotten kicked out of every finishing school that she’s attended. Their father has always been distant from them, but once the Nazis begin to control Paris, he sends Isabelle away to Vianne’s.

And these sisters are so very different in every way. Where Vianne only wants to protect her family, Isabelle wants to fight the Nazis from within France itself. And I’ll be honest, I feel like Isabelle makes sense to be my favorite sister, but her constant recklessness would put Vianne and her daughter, Sophie, in danger all throughout the book. And it only made me crave Vianne’s chapters and dread Isabelle’s.

This was a five star read until Beck’s storyline. No spoilers, but for me Beck was truly the shining light in this book, which I feel awful typing because he was a Nazi. Lord, forgive me. But his storyline really showed how *normal* people have to suffer the wars that powerful and greedy men create, and how nationalism can be terrifying. I don’t know, I just actually hated how his storyline ended and I didn’t care about this book near as much after it. I couldn’t put this down, I was completely captivated, I couldn’t wait to see what came next! And then the most pointless, stupid, and anticlimactic thing in the world happened and I just didn’t care any longer. Truly. And the more time and distance I put between myself and this story, the more I get irritated. (Please don’t think I’m a horrible person.)

Overall, this was a haunting but beautiful book about family and the things we are willing to sacrifice in the name of the ones we love. And how family will always be the people that we choose, not necessarily the blood that runs through our veins. I completely understand why this is such a beloved book in the book community, but maybe it was just a little too hyped for me. Also, my loss of connection really made the ending not as emotional for me, therefore I don’t think that impacted me as much as many other readers, too. But I still really loved most of this story and I can’t wait to read The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah!

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Content and trigger warnings for war, loss of a loved one, loss of a child, abandonment, miscarrying, violence, gore, death, anti-Semitism, talk of suicide, cancer, slavery, labor camps, sexual assault, rape, and abuse. This is a very dark book at times, so please use caution before reading.

Buddy read with May at My 1st Chapter & Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills! ❤