March Review of Books

The long winter has been great for reading, with rainy afternoons sometimes spent curled up with a good book. After a few bad ones on my last book review post, I was lucky to have a winning streak of novels, most I can recommend.  Two of them even got 5 stars which is an unusual thing for me.  Amazon links are provided if you want to research the books, read the plot synopsis or order one.

March Book Reviews

The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs
Beautifully written story of workaholic Tess who suddenly discovers she is the beneficiary of a will from a grandfather she never met. She is drawn to go to the hospital to see him, as he lays unconscious in a coma. While in the small town where he tends to a financially failing apple orchard, Tess meets the half-sister she didn’t know she had. In taking a break from her whirlwind life, Tess discovers the importance of family and love in a way she never knew she needed. This was a keeper, and I’ll be looking for more from this author.

Belgravia by Julian Fellows
Set in the early 1800s, this is a wonderful story of lies and misunderstandings among the cream of British aristocracy. Julian Fellows is a fabulous writer, and if you like Downton Abby, you’ll love this story with its juicy secrets, opulent settings, and just plain fun.

March Book Reviews

The President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer
I picked this one up at a book sale not realizing it was part of a series, The Culper Ring series. The book does fine as a stand alone, even if some of the history has to be picked up from references by the main character.  There is little to threaten the President, mostly it is two shadow organizations fighting each other, with ‘planted’ evidence (pun intended) kicking off a cat and mouse game. I found the gore and violence too much for my taste, so I won’t be reading any more by this author.  But if you don’t mind that, it is a passable mystery, but not really as good as it could have been.

March Book Reviews

The Button Collector by Elizabeth Jennings
This is a beautifully written book of memories. Caroline inherits a jar of buttons, and as each button is drawn from the jar remembers in a vignette from her life, the dress that button came from, the blouse her cousin wore, the trials and triumphs and tragedies of a lifetime. Through those short stories of memories, the reader is given a picture of a family love and loss, and coming to terms with the past. Highly recommend, easy reading of short chapters, but difficult to put down. You may never look at buttons the same way again.

March Book Reviews

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
This is a truly heartwarming story, with the time of year as a metaphor for the lives of the people involved. The Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year, mirrors the tragedy of the primary characters, and as the days slowly progress to Christmas, a time of joy and renewal, the characters find a new way forward. It is a rare book these days that gets five stars from me, and there are a couple of quibbles with this one – like the description of a 62 year old as elderly, certainly not!! Some of the plot developments are a bit predictable, but there are a few twists where things do not go as they might have which makes the story a bit more realistic. No spoilers here.   Thanks to Carol for the recommendation comment on last month’s book review post.  Turns out I did have it on the shelf.  Add this one to your reading list, especially to read in December.  Highly recommend!!

Mightier Than the Sword (The Clifton Chronicles, #5) by Jeffrey Archer
Fifth volume in the never-ending Clifton Chronicles, this one has all the complexity and intrigue one comes to expect from Jeffrey Archer. The story is growing a bit tedious by now, as the continuing feud between the main characters seems to be battle after battle with no one winning the war. It is irritating that every novel ends with a cliffhanger, just as the resolution of the current conflict is near, and you have to go to the next novel to get the end of that story. So, only three stars, which would have been four if the resolution had been in this book and not the next.

March Book Reviews

The Very Picture of You by Isabel Wolff
Five star book reviews from me are usually few and far between, but this one deserved it and to find two in one month was pretty great. The story is well developed, and richly characterized. Although I could guess the big secret quite easily, I understood why the main character, Ella, didn’t see what was right in front of her. We often have blinders on when it comes to people we love, our parents particularly, and believe the narrative that they want us to believe when we are children. Those beliefs follow us well into adulthood and are difficult to change. So it is with Ella, as she comes to realize a truth about her own life as she listens to the stories of her subjects while painting their portraits. I enjoyed this story, finding it very hard to put down, even with the predictable ending. It was a charming read, and a keeper to read again.

What have you read lately that you can recommend?

Are you into audio books?  Give a Gift of Audible from Amazon, available in 1, 3, 6 and 12-month membership options.  I put this link on my sidebar so you can find it later, too.  Super idea for the graduate or a birthday treat.

19 thoughts on “March Review of Books

  1. Edi

    I loved The Apple Orchard, as well as The Bee Keeper’s Ball. There are several in your review that have peaked my interest. Thank you.

  2. Carols in Texas

    My first audio book ever….I am listening to it now, downloaded from Overdrive. It is Sarah’s Key, not a new book but I had never read it. It is good….easier to listen to than to read I think. I have gotten to shy away from reading horrible things…my imagination is too vivid! But hearing somehow seems less disturbing. Goofy! I loved Winter Solstice…glad you did too.

  3. karenfae

    my library has the Apple Orchard on kindle so I ordered it to try out – I have the President’s Shadow and liked it – I will at the list again when I finish the Apple Orchard – thanks for the reviews between you and others that do this I usually find one or two that are new to me.

  4. Diane Pickthall

    I just read The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena. It is a well written can’t put down mystery.

  5. Linda B

    I am still reading through all of Rex Stout’s books on Nero Wolfe…will keep these in mind when I finish. Always appreciate the reviews! On another topic…just learned this week that our Library has subscribed to Creativebug and all the classes are now available with a library card! What a nice service! Check with your library!

    1. Wow, mine too!! There were other copies a lot less when I set up the link. Look for it in a used bookstore, I found mine copy at a library sale.
      Update – Apparently the book is out of print and the publisher is out of business. I guess that makes it a collectible.

  6. Nancy

    I recently have been reading Kate Morton. I have found reading her books a little challenging if I have to walk away for a bit. But I did enjoy The Lake House and The Forgotten Garden. The Secret Keeper was a fairly good book but I did not enjoy it as much.

    1. kathyinozarks

      i just picked up the apple orchard and Belgravia cheaper on ebay than amazon-they both sounded good-thanks

  7. louverna

    I get books at the library. Doesn’t cost anything.
    Plus I don’t have to store them on a shelf.

  8. I loved The Apple Orchard but now you need to read the book that follows The Beekeeper’s Ball.
    Thanks for all the suggestions, several of the books I will definitely read.

  9. Patricia Evans

    I am currently reading The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jan Brockett. It is non-fiction, but thoroughly enjoyable. She is British and write with a plucky sense of humor.

  10. dezertsuz

    Interesting and eclectic group. I do like Brad Meltzer, and he’s been writing a long time, so I’d say give something else he wrote a chance. He also writes children’s books! I’ve been reading a lot of space opera, and that doesn’t seem to be your thing, so I won’t go into them in detail. I’ve given up JD Robb forever because of the language getting so bad and so prevalent.

  11. Great selection of books. I have enjoyed Susan Wiggs titles so am not surprised you like this one.
    May have to look up the Button Collector.
    Thanks for your suggestions.

  12. Thanks for these reviews- will check out some of the titles. I enjoy audio books when driving (we live in a rural area so everyplace is a drive) and while sewing.

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