It has been an up and down winter for reading. If you visit my blog on the internet, you’ll see my Goodreads reviews on the sidebar. Some have been good, but there were several just ‘meh’, and there was one true wall banger. A wall-banger is where you are so bored/disgusted/irritated with a book that you throw it against the wall rather than waste another minute of your life on it. But let’s talk about a couple of good ones. I’ve added Amazon affiliate links for the books I liked so you can see more. Thank you for using my links when you can. On my reviews, I don’t restate the plot synopsis, you can see that on the Goodreads or Amazon listings. I just tell you my impressions without spoilers.
House of Velvet and Glass by Katherine Howe
I found this novel well researched and interesting in its storyline. The paranormal aspect in the hidden sense of clairvoyance in the main characters is interwoven with the very real problem of opiate addiction common in the early 1900s before regulation. Linking the sinking of the Titanic with the horror of knowing when someone would die is contrasted with the surprise aspect of also being able to see other possible outcomes. As Sybil comes to understand the depth of her gift, and the burden of it as well, choices have to be made that affect everyone in her family. And a realization of a larger truth at the end of the novel will leave you thinking.
Tapestry Of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg
This is a short novel, just over 200 pages, written in Ms Berg’s easy reading style. The character’s thoughts stream from one idea to the next in that scattered way we all sometimes think. The story line is a bit far fetched from her usual – one woman making a drastic change in her life then going on a quest for resolution of past issues with three other women she just moved in with? But, if you suspend disbelief, the story is a fast read, ultimately uplifting, and a nice story that doesn’t require a lot of concentration. But don’t expect a lot of character development or depth.
House and Home by Kathleen McCleary
This was a quick and entertaining read about a woman whose life is falling apart. She desperately clings to the house where her life has been centered for many years, where her happiest and saddest days happened. But, forced to sell, she has to come to grips with what really defines a home. I enjoyed the wild romp of her emotional roller coaster, her crazy ideas to figure out how to take back a house already sold, the bitchy buyer, and more complications.
Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky
This book had an interesting premise with the usual twists, somewhat predictable but the character development was a bit flat. Romance novels aren’t my favorite, and I was told this one was more story driven, but it didn’t seem that way. While there was a good storyline dealing with multiple sclerosis and treatment, to get there was really a stretch. Overall, if you like this genre, you might like it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Strangers on Montagu Street by Karen White
This is another fun ghostly tale complete with a haunted dollhouse, a secret that cannot be kept, and a betrayal in both the present and the past. The book is a fast and easy read, charming in its descriptions of old Charleston. The sullen teenager was a bit tedious, as is the overly drawn out romance with Melanie and Jack. But overall I enjoyed it. This is the third in the series beginning with House on Tradd Street. I reviewed the first one on a previous post here.
The Vintage Magic Mystery series by Annette Blair
I am two books into this series, and it is a fun one. I stopped reading murder mysteries over a year ago as they all began to look the same, especially those in the ‘cozy mystery’ genre. For those who’ve not heard that term, a ‘cozy’ is a murder mystery with no violence, no swearing, and the violence isn’t described. The body is found without graphic description, and the sleuth is an amateur. This series is fun, with the heroine, Madeira, who can see the history of a vintage garment by touching it. She sees visions of what happened while the garment was being worn. In the first novel, the garment in question is the vintage wedding dress for her sister’s wedding. In the second, Madeira moves back home to open a vintage clothing store in an old building that used to be the town morgue and comes with a resident ghost. These are easy reads, a little bit funny, with wonderful descriptions of vintage dresses and fashion accessories. All are under 300 pages, and can be finished quickly. I’ll finally finish off this series next on the reading list. I have more reviews of sewing based novels on my post series from National Sewing Month in 2016 – Sewing Fiction, Magic and Ghosts, Sewing Fiction Stories of Life, Sewing Mysteries, Sewing Fiction, and Quilting Fiction.
Lastly, there are two new-to-me books that make wonderful ‘snack reads’. These are books with really short chapters or essays, great for picking up for a quick thought, or a fast 5 minutes before bed.
Romancing the Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach
Incredibly, this book was published in 2002, yet I only just discovered it in a used bookstore. It is much like her first book, Simple Abundance, but focuses more on finding the wonder in simple things. Consider the fragrance of freshly washed crisp sheets, the joy of digging in the dirt, lavendar soap, wearing a hat, fun ideas and things to ponder. Each month has seasonal ideas and there are recipes here and there too. Told in the same kind of easy reading style, this will be one I keep out for a year, or maybe multiple years.
A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
This is a lovely collection of essays with recipes. For every dish, the author gives a memory from her childhood, young adult life and years of living in Paris that is rich in detail and imagery. There are several recipes I already want to try! One in particular is called Bouchons Au Thon which is a tuna and egg dish with Gruyere cheese, creme fraiche, and tomato paste. The name translates literally as Tuna Corks, and refers to the muffin shape they are baked in a muffin tin. I am about halfway through this one, and will savor each essay and recipe as I go. If I make any of the recipes and they turn out wonderful, I’ll be sure to share.
Have you read a really good book lately? What are you reading now?