World Without End by Ken Follett actually does have an end!

I didn’t time the reading of my challenge books very well this year… I don’t have many books left for my various 2019 reading challenges, but I saved some serious chunksters for December.

Case in point: I was still listening to this 46+ hour audiobook less than a day before my library hold ended, and now I’m racing the Libby app to listen to Don Quixote (36+ hours) before that hold ends. I definitely prefer audio for really big books.

I loved Pillars of the Earth, and I really enjoyed returning to Kingsbridge 200 years later in World Without End. This epic saga takes us through the lives of some of the descendants of the Pillars characters, with a bit less cathedral building and architecture, continuing religious and political intrigue, and the addition of lots and lots of The Plague. 😬

What I love the most about this series is the richness of the characters. The heroes and heroines are not without flaws, and the villains are most villainous but not without traits that made me sympathize for them (just a little bit). I love Caris so much: she’s a woman way ahead of her times, smart and driven. Gwenda, Merthin, Phillipa, and Sir Thomas are great characters. Ralph, Godwyn, and Philemon are deliciously despicable characters that make me feel perfectly ok about rooting for their total demise.

Even among all the big events in these books (and there are plenty of those), Ken Follett is gifted at putting the reader right into day-to-day life for peasants, merchants, nobles, nuns and monks in medieval England. The historical research that he has clearly invested in writing these books makes for an immersive reading experience. This book is long, but it’s definitely not a slog. On the contrary, I found myself fascinated and invested throughout, and was sort of sad when I arrived at the end, much like I felt at the end of Pillars.

I’ve seen mixed reviews about the third book in this series, but I am sure I will at least give it a try. Someday… when I’m not hyper-focused on finishing four yearly challenges before the end of the month. 😂

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Into the Forest by Jean Hegland kept me up half the night.

I try to be a responsible human and member of society. This involves not staying up reading way past my bedtime on a work night. This book was such a trip, it kept me up til 1 am last night finishing it. Work was sort of rough today, and I made pancakes for my kids for dinner tonight because I was too tired to mess with anything else, but I’m ok with that.

This was my ‘about nature’ book for the Reading Women Challenge, and it most definitely is about nature. It’s also a dystopian/post-apocalyptic story. Two teenage sisters are living alone far out in the woods in Northern California while society collapses across the US. It’s never really explained what has happened, but gradually the power and phone fail, people get sick and disappear, and general lawlessness and chaos ensues. Eva and Nell have been homeschooled and somewhat isolated their whole lives in the home of their parents 30 miles from the nearest town and many miles from their nearest neighbors, and since they don’t have a lot of info about what’s happening, we don’t either.

Gradually, we learn about how they came to be alone out there. Slowly, we watch them change and grow as things fall apart. Weird and unlikely things happen. Horrible stuff happens—this book needs pretty much all the trigger warnings. At one point, something seriously messed up and unexpected happens that caused me to make this face for a while: 😧. It’s graphic and violent and very, very well written. This book is dark and sort of all over the place, but it’s so good. And as I said, it kept me up half the night to get to the ending.

And then that ending left me just a little bit stunned. I absolutely didn’t see that coming, but I kind of liked it anyway. I see now that there is a movie based on this… I’m not sure I’m emotionally prepared to watch it, but I’m intrigued.

Also! I have now finished all of the prompts for Reading Women, so this is my first challenge completed for 2019. Pretty pleased with that. 😎

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