Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Goodreads Choice Awards, 2015 ed.

The winners of the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards were announced and I thought I'd share the winners for best Historical Fiction and best History and Biography. Being a compulsive Goodreads user, having read a few of these, and knowing the general book world reviews of these books, I can confirm that this annual list is bullshit. But interesting all the same. Proof: Go Set A Watchman won for Best Fiction, and Aziz Ansari's book won for Nonfiction. Like wut?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, winner of the Historical Fiction award with a 4.53/5 average and 95,664 ratings.

In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another. 

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets the compelling and mysterious Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. When he betrays her, Isabelle races headlong into danger and joins the Resistance, never looking back or giving a thought to the real--and deadly--consequences.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah takes her talented pen to the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France--a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.


A French WWII tale wins for the second year in a row. weird.

Other nominees in order of first to last: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson; At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen; Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran; In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume; The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant; Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner; The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman; Circling the Sun by Paula McLain; A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley; The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak; The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory; The Lake House by Kate Morton; Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey; The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson; Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell; The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati; Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner; Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart; Flood of Fireby Amitav Ghosh

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson, winner of the History & Biography award with a 4.07/5 average and 33,780 ratings.

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger’s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small—hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more—all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 

Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.


I've read this one. It was a-ok.

Other nominees in order of first to last: The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff; The Wright Brothers by David McCullough; Born Survivors: Three Young Mothers and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope by Wendy Holden; Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder; When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning; Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon; Ravensbrück: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women by Sarah Helm; The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck; Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard; The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 by Joseph J. Ellis; The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal by David E. Hoffman; Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon; Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson; The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue by Piu Marie Eatwell; Killing Reagan by Bill O'Reilly; A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power by Paul Fischer; Legend: The Incredible Story of Green Beret Sergeant Roy Benavidez's Heroic Mission to Rescue a Special Forces Team Caught Behind Enemy Lines by Eric Blehm; Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell; The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower

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