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?
17 thoughts on “Winter Reading”
Great reviews! I am always looking for good books to read. I am currently reading The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper and it’s very sweet. I have a stack on my nightstand from Christmas gifts so I should be set for awhile. Enjoy your weekend!
Thanks for the reviews…I tend to like mysteries and political thrillers. Every couple of months I venture outside my norm to read something new.. Your list helps!
New authors for me in the last year.
Ellen Marie Wise
Lisa Wingate Started with Before We Were Yours .
Both are well written. These rainey months have been good for reading and sewing.
I love your book reviews. I go on spurts with reading, especially after finding a “head banger,” as you described it. Have you read the well-loved books: A Man Called Ove & Eleanor Oliphant? One of my Recent favorites was a poignant/ sad but wonderful book called “One in A Million Boy.” I’ve got 3 on my nightstand now including “Bernadette where have you gone” (something like that).
I loved “A Man Called Ove”. Have you read “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry”? I also liked “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens and you might also.
Whenever I am searching for a new audiobook to listen to while I sew, I look for something on your review list. I enjoy many of the same books. Currently reading Daughter of the Loom by Peterson & Miller…an “airport/cruiseship” light read…and won’t get picked up again until my next trip the end of March. Not exciting enough to stick with otherwise. Audiobook presently is Look Alive Twenty-Five; Janet Evanovich. Recently finished CODE GIRLS – Liza Mundy which I highly recommend. SO disappointed in the ending of My Brilliant Friend by Elna Ferrante.
Some of those look good! I listened this past month! Max likes to lay on the futon I. The sewing room and listen with me, so we did Frankenstein, and are almost done with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Both have been surprises, and enjoyable. I just checked out two e-books, Crazy Rich Asians, which Girl #2 says is hilarious, and The White Queen, which I have never read, but thought I’d see what all the fuss was about.
Thanks for all the good recommendations! I’ve always enjoyed Elizabeth Berg and Barbara Delinsky so will have to check those titles out. I don’t enjoy the cozy mystery genre – I love mysteries but the story lines need a bit more “meat” for me. Have you tried the Inspector Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny? I’m making my way through the series as the books become available from my library. Also just finished News of the World, which I loved! It is historical fiction, set in Texas in the 1880s.
I recently have loved “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens and “My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry” by Fredrik Backman. I’m currently reading “Red Sparrow” by Jason Matthews and I’m not so sure about it. Hope it’s not a “Wall-Banger” but I’m starting to suspect it may be so ….
Discovered “A Homemade Life” is available at my local library. Will be checking that book out shortly. Sounds interesting and who doesn’t like good recipes?
I just finished the latest of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series from the library. I LOVE these stories. I enjoy reading Jennifer Chiaverini’s books. I volunteer at my grandson’s elementary school library, so am intriqued with what books kids check out frequently. The librarian lets me borrow books on my grandson’s name (!!), so I’ve recently enjoyed Raina Telgemere’s “Sisters” book. Made me laugh out loud at the true stories of her growing up with a sister; lovely innocent memories. A Scholastic book (published 2000) “A Year Down Yonder” by Richard Peck was enjoyable. “What Alice Forgot” by LIane Moriarity gave me pause, Current read: “Sarah’s Key” by Tatiana De Rosnay (published 2007) – oh, I have cried over this book. About the events of July 1942 as Jewish families were taken away; those who escaped & their impact on current lives. Fiction book about true happenings. Well-written.
Oh & thank you for the term “wall-banger”!! I have had several of these recently. From the library, I got Sean Penn’s book “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff”. I try to pick up books from their display tables at intervals. This was more than a wall-banger, it was pure trash.
I got very frustrated with Susan Isaacs “After All These Years” – after a few chapters, I skipped to the final three chapters, got the story & Saved myself lots of frustration of the pages in between.
Thanks for the reviews, I just ordered Romancing The Ordinary – I don’t have that one yet and can’t wait to read it!!
I am also a Louise Penny fan (fingers drumming as I wait for her next book). Other fun, fluffy read is Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series (set in Minnesota, so that might explain why I like them). If you like fiction based on history and folklore, I’d suggest giving Van Reid’s Moosepath League series a try.
Sounds like you have read some good books this winter. I have just started Normal People by Sally Rooney who won the Man Booker prize, so far so good.
It is always good to get ideas about good books. I find it a great way to find out about new authors. Keep the reviews coming.
If you have not read Winter Solstice by Rosamund Pilcher, I highly recommend it. The lady’s writing is so lovely. The Mrs. Darcy blog listed it as good winter reading. I read it back in 2001 and I am enjoying it once more. Carol in Texas
Sent from my iPad
Great reviews! I may have to snag a few for my beach trip!
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