It has been months since I did a post on books I’ve read. Certainly when it is cold outside, curling up with a good book is nice especially if accompanied by a fire in the fireplace and a cup of hot coffee. I read almost every day, as I like to get up early and enjoy the quiet of early dawn. I went through a bunch of bad books last summer, from wallbangers (books that are so bad that they are thrown against a wall after 50 pages) to endings that were awful, and then to the mildly disappointing. When I finish one that I can’t recommend, I think “well, there goes several hours of my life I’ll never get back.” Then just last month, I read several good ones in a row. I’m going to back up to last spring’s reading and talk about the ones I liked, then I’ll give you the list of wallbangers and bad endings to avoid from last summer, and finish with several that were the best of the whole year. Amazon links are provided for the recommended ones.
Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens
Stories of patrons of a tea house are told in an easy reading manner. The characters all have some difficulties to overcome, mostly finding ways to move away from unhappy situations into better circumstances. I had to laugh out loud at the revenge of a scorned wife, truly a priceless way to take care of an unfaithful husband. Difficult to put down after the first half, it picks up as it moves along. I’ll be looking for more by this author.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Nicely written story told from the point of view of a Chinese American in two timelines – when he was a boy during World War II and as an adult. His first love is a Japanese girl, who is taken to an interment camp and they lose track of each other. The historical view of the treatment of Japanese families during the war was thought provoking. A hotel renovation begins a trip down memory lane and the desire to reconnect with the lost love. An interesting read, if difficult in parts, recommend.
Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
A sweet confection of a story, easy reading and simple in plot. There is the fun magical aspect that defines Allen’s writing style, not overwhelming but just enough. Who wouldn’t want to have wallpaper that changed with your mood? The story has a simple message, to accept differences and learn to appreciate others for who they are. Emily knows who her mother was, but finds a different message when she comes to live with her grandfather. When eventually she finds out that her image of her mother was right all along, it is up to the others in town to accept a truth they don’t want to know.
On Rue Tatin by Susan Herrmann Loomis
A non-fiction memoir of a food writer’s early years of cooking school and finding her voice in France. Although it paints a rosy picture, that was likely not as idyllic as described, it was a nice escape read. It was fun to dream of living in Paris, even for a little while. Having spent a vacation in Paris some years ago, the book evoked memories of my husband and I strolling along the river, visiting the sites, speaking the language, and learning about the French culture. The book is an easy read, and a nice way to pass the time on an airplane or the beach.
The Ex-Debutante by Linda Francis Lee
Hilarious story of old money vs new riche, relationships with one’s mother, and the lengths one will go to in order to prove a point to oneself by my favorite comedy writer. Linda Francis Lee writes in the farce genre, taking situations to exaggerated extremes and doing it in such entertaining style that you cannot help but laugh out loud. At one point, near the end of the book, I had to go get tissues to wipe my eyes, laughing so much I couldn’t see to read. The ending is satisfying with many resolutions, and all believable, particularly if you were raised in the south.
Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson
A sweet story of a woman trying to find herself after a broken engagement and a near fatal illness. As an artist, she accepts an invitation to stay with an aunt in Paris. Overall it is an acceptable story, nothing outstanding, with predictable outcomes. Good for a beach read, but not great literature.
In the category of meh, awful, or wallbanger, these you can see on my Goodreads reviews if you are interested. I’m Craftnut there. Send me a friend invite to see my reviews on your feed. Or you can check the sidebar on my blog for the latest reviews.
Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio -One of the most depressing books I have ever read, even more sad as I have liked the other books I’ve read by Jio.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson – Started out charming, then just went off the rails with a truly stupid ending.
The White Queen by Philipa Gregory – second book I have wallbanged of hers. Not wasting my time on any more.
Victorian Christmas Collection by Peggy Stoks – just ugh, badly written, wallbanged
A Merry Little Murder by Shelley Freydont – just meh
Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night and Book of Life by Deborah Harkness – With the TV series starting on AMC based on this trilogy, decided to read the books. Overall, it is OK, but not a series I would recommend. Perhaps it would appeal to teen readers, but lacks something for the adult reader.
Return to the House on Tradd Street by Karen White – Overall it didn’t live up to the previous books in the series, being far too whiny.
Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen – read the first four in the series, and it got old. Too much repetition, and books like this have become so formulaic that they are not enjoyable anymore.
Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons – Disappointing story from a favorite author, there are just too many inconsistencies and loose ends, storylines left hanging and not fully explored.
Back to the good ones, if you have young children in your life, these wonderful books written by a fellow Mini owner, children’s book author and professor of children’s literature, Lester Laminack, are highly recommended for the kids. I was curious about his writing, so I checked these out from the library. Each one has a message, gently told and delightfully written.
Jake’s 100th Day of School – a delightful story about how a mistake can turn into something even more awesome than the original plan.
The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins – a truly wonderfully written book explaining the confusing condition of Alzheimer’s disease in a way a child could understand.
The King of Bees – A marvelous tale of a boy and his aunt who keeps bees, bringing home the lesson of protecting our pollinators.
Three Hens and a Peacock – fun little tale that teaches everyone has a place and a talent.
Saturdays and Teacakes – Saturdays spent with his grandmother speaks to the power of love between generations.
Back to the novels, The Christmas Train by David Baldacci was a nice holiday read with a surprise ending you will NOT see coming. Although I could have done without the stupid decision towards the end concerning skiing to find help, the rest of the book was enjoyable especially for the holidays.
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
A sweet story of southern charm told from the viewpoint of a 12-year old who grew up with, and had to deal with, a bipolar mother and an absent father. At her mother’s death, she is sent to live with a great aunt, who slowly and carefully shows her what family means, and heals her broken psyche. This is a character study kind of book, and not a lot of action, however some of the scenes will make you laugh out loud. The daily life of CeeCee gets better over the course of the book, and that is the main message, that time heals, family can be more than just a blood relative, and new starts can result in new friends. I found it hard to put down.
Winter Bloom by Tara Heavey
A neglected garden overgrown and dying becomes the metaphor for the lives of three different people to heal their own hearts. The stories of their individual tragedies are told in flashback, and as the garden begins to come alive, so do the characters as they find renewed hope and happiness. The book is uplifting and beautifully written, with a depth I wasn’t expecting. Highly Recommend.
Apart at the Seams by Marie Bostwick
A novel of hope and friendship, with depth and good character development. The men in this novel are somewhat unrealistic and a bit of fantasy, but the overall book is charming nevertheless. The stories of two women overcoming the difficulties in life and marriage is ultimately uplifting, particularly in the lesson on forgiveness near the end. Enjoyable reading with a good message.
Resistant by Michael Palmer
Gripping thriller of an antibiotic resistant bacteria developed then unleashed by a corrupt organization, well paced and in its own way, terrifying. Having spent much of my career in the medical field, this one is plausible and therefore nightmare producing.
Do you have a good book to recommend?
I’ll send a copy of Teahouse on Mulberry Street to someone drawn at random from all the comments. Giveaway is over.
For my stamping readers, see Impression Obsession’s Spring Release Celebration. There are some really wonderful sets that would make ideal cards for the Safelight project coming up this spring, with inspirational messages and fun images. See their blog post for Monday (click on ‘blog’ on their menu bar) to get the links to their designer’s blogs where each one will have a $25 gift certificate giveaway! You could win free stamps!! You can enter on every designer’s blog for each post they do this week. Drawing entries end on Saturday at noon central time.