Lenni Reviews: “The Last Ballad” by Wiley Cash

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is recommended for mature readers.

Set in North Carolina in 1929, Ella works in a textile mill trying desperately to work enough hours to feed her children. Suffering with terrible hours and even worse pay, Ella is curious about the current rise in unions for textile workers but afraid of losing her job or worse.

This is a very poignant and powerful book. Sitting in my privileged 2020 mindset, it still shocks me to know there was a time where you risked your life for even associating with someone thinking about a union. My grandmother was a garment worker union member who frequently attended rallies like in the book; and she was African American working with Jewish colleagues at this time (a man even came to interview her for this book). It’s part of why I was so excited to read this.

This book jumps around in time and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had a more linear narrative.  But it’s still amazing regardless. 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “In the Midnight Room” by Laura McBride

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

*This review has been cross-posted to Otakus and Geeks.

Book-ended with the life of June Stein, this novel dives into Las Vegas in the 1950’s and a casino called ‘The Midnight Room.’

This book feels a lot like the times where I went into a real casino in Vegas and Atlantic City; glitz, glamour, sadness, and desperation. Including June, the lives of four very different women collide together over the course of a lifetime in this book and we follow some hauntingly poetic stories. I’m not really one for historical fiction and this book managed to suck me in and I had trouble putting the book down.

I do have to say some of the point of view changes had me confused but the story managed to sort itself out in a few paragraphs; particularly in the end when it’s suddenly all from June’s perspective but as it’s her life that frames the entire narrative, it’s forgivable. An excellent period piece and I recommend. 3.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “A Fine Summer’s Day” by Charles Todd

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Inspector Rutledge is sent to investigate a murder where the victim had no known enemies. The more he investigates, the less the case makes sense until two other seemingly unrelated men lose their lives in the same way and Rutledge is led on a strange case he must solve before breaks out all over Europe.

This is a very detailed and thrilling historical mystery. I enjoyed this despite mysteries not really begin my thing and this this being the seventeenth in a series had no effect on my understanding. This book stands just fine on it’s own.

There are a few frustrating parts; especially Rutledge’s fiancee, Jean, who knows she’s marrying a police officer yet is somehow all huffy when he has to go do his job yet wants him to enlist in the army as World War I looms? She’s such a superficial character I couldn’t wait for her scenes to be over so the adults could talk again. But it’s a well written, cozy mystery with other very intuitive, smart, and realistic characters. 3.7 out of 5.

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