July Books and Reading

Another eclectic month of reading fiction and non-fiction. I am working my way through a long reading list that I’ve had for several years. Up first, a very difficult to find book by one of my favorite authors, Liz Trenow. I loved it, and should have just ordered one on Amazon years ago instead of looking for copies in used book stores.

The Hidden Thread by Liz Trenow – Difficult to put down, this book has compelling writing and a very interesting storyline set in the 1760s silk trade. Based in actual events surrounding the silk riots in England along with the French protestant immigration of the era, it is also based on actual people living at the time. Descriptions of silk weaving were so interesting, and made me want to know more. Once again, the authors notes at the end of the book were fascinating. The fashions on the cover are actual designs from that era, designed by the woman on whom the story is based. Ms Trenow is a fabulous writer, and her books are keepers. Highly recommend!!

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller – Light reading and fun, although there is some real heartache in the story. Easy read, with a somewhat predicable outcome, but enjoyable. The story is familiar, with a woman on her own, fleeing a situation in a big city, comes to a small town and finds she fits in better than she believed. Sweet with a feel-good ending. Recommend.

Vintage by Susan Gloss – Easy reading story about the power of friendship and making new beginnings. The story centers around a vintage clothing store in danger of eviction due to greedy developers, the customers who bring in their treasures and the stories of challenges they face. It will make you want to raid the attic in your grandmothers home for fabulous jewelry and clothing of the past. With the lovely descriptions of the fashions both in the store and on the runway as Violet tries to save her store, the plot keeps you interested. There is a bit of romance, but this primarily a women’s fiction genre. Recommend.

Personal Injuries by Scott Turow – In a word, boring. Long passages where the action doesn’t advance makes for tedious reading. In addition, the point of view keeps switching from first person to third person, which I find annoying. By 150 pages in, I didn’t care anymore. It was close to being wall-banged, but I slogged through. Disappointing as I have enjoyed other books by this author.

Cosmic Queries by Neil deGrasse Tyson – The perfect book for anyone wishing to learn more about the cosmic questions of how the universe was formed and how the scientists figured that out. Easier reading than you might think, it is written with lots of analogies that bring the science to a level the non-astrophysicist can understand. It would be a great gift book to young people to spark an interest in the sciences. Glorious photography from space, funny quips from the authors twitter account, and short chapters make this one a a fun read while learning. Recommend.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – If you are looking for something different, this is the book. A woman on the brink of suicide is caught in-between life and death at the Midnight Library, a place where an infinite number of books of her life can be chosen. Each book is the story a decision in her life has created, infinite timelines of choices, branching like a tree from every choice made. She can choose to live differently by making a different choice, by choosing the road not taken, or the path to undoing things she regrets. As she chooses different lives to experience, she finds not everything is rosy as it might seem, and the grass is not necessarily greener in another life. The final lesson is one we can all use. Highly recommend!!

So, some great ones and one not so great. Sometimes it is a challenge to find something different to read. I have two on my chair-side table now that look pretty good, several more on my to-look-for list, nine books in the queue at the library, and several more older ones to search for. Of course, I am always interested in your suggestions, know of something different, an unusual story or just a compelling book you can recommend? No murder mysteries please, I am done with that genre.

New releases from C&T Publishing offer quilting and sewing fun. I found a couple that were interesting, and got them in ebook form so I don’t have more on the shelves. Doodle Stitching is a fun book of tiny motifs and projects perfect for quick embroidery projects. Cool Cotton and Whimsical Wool Quilts has 12 quilt projects for felted wool and cotton with motifs that can be mixed and matched for dozens of unique and fun projects. Purr-fect Patchwork has 15 adorable projects for the cat lover. Stress Free Sewing Solutions is a new take on classic techniques for making clothes with chapters for most aspects of clothing construction from buttonholes to facings, pockets, plackets, zippers and more. One chapter is 50 Ways to Relax Your Sewing, with lots of ideas, some really hilarious including how to say no to your friends who want you to sew/alter/fix something of theirs. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book!!

What are you reading now?

27 thoughts on “July Books and Reading

  1. You have some interesting selections on your reading list this month! I’m going to write some of those down to look for. We have the Midnight Library on our book club discussion list for September, I think. I just finished reading A Light Through the Leaves by Glendy Vanderah and loved it! I can’t remember if I got that title from one of your posts or not, but I would recommend it.

  2. I just finished reading The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. While the book was interesting to read, I enjoyed reading the actual history behind the characters in the book. Still, I’d recommend the book. Any time I read and find a piece of history I knew nothing about makes it worthwhile.

  3. karenfae

    Scott Turow can be very boring for long sections in his books – I used to enjoy some of his but no longer. I will write down a few of your selections to check – I don’t think you would be interested in my reads right now as I am caught up in the Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly and he is a cop solving murders and or robberies.

  4. Rheanna

    I’m happy to hear you liked the Midnight Library as that is on my hold list from the library. I read The Great Circle this month and felt meh about it. The story flips between a young female aviator in the 1930s who disappears on a around the world flight and present day actress who is slotted to play her in a movie. I wish the author had completely pulled out the present day narrative because I did not care for the character and felt like the book would have been good without it.
    I also read The Paris Library and liked it so much I finished it in 3 days.

  5. Sylvia Anderson

    I’m so glad you’ve read The Midnight Library, as it’s one of 5 audio books I picked up from the library yesterday. I’ve heard only good things about it, and will listen to it when I’ve finished with the one that’s plugged into my ears right now.

  6. Deborah Siddall

    I am currently listening to The Lost Book of Names. It is about a young Jewish woman in France during World War II. She becomes involved with the French resistance helping children escape the Nazis. Inspired by true events during the war. I really like the story and can’t wait to see how it ends.

  7. Always interested in your books review. As we are getting ready for next week’s trip to vacation in the Asheville, NC and have a rented a dog-friendly house via VBO, I just purchased and am reading two books on the Vanderbilt family. It has been several years we last visited Biltmore and I am excited to be going again. The books are: The Last Castle byDenise Klernan and Fortune’s Children by Arthur T. Vanderbilt, II.

  8. Joan Sheppard

    Oh yum! Good books to read! I am reading a dog book right now – “Rescuing Penny Jane” and “Imrov Paper Piecing” by Amy Friend. Also took home a copy of “Sashiko+ Color” by A. Terashima. I love the library. And thanks to everyone else for their additional suggestions. Thanks!

  9. Thank you so much for sharing your reads! You had some interesting ones! I’m currently in a “book club for two” with my granddaughter and we’re enjoying Island of the Blue Dolphins. I’m also reading The Power of Praying Through Fear, and Barrio America. I’m enjoying listening to Camino Winds. I so enjoyed your post this morning!

  10. Shirley Scott

    Carole:
    I just wanted to suggest that when you are having difficulty finding a book, you might want to check out Better World Books. I’m constantly ordering from them. They have new editions, but most are library copies with great prices, and you can’t beat free shipping.
    Love your blog, all categories, and always look forward to reading it.

  11. I appreciate your honest, insightful reviews! I’ve reserved the Midnight Library, Vintage and The City Baker’s Guide in audio from the library.

    In your last post, you gave a thumbs up to “The Lions of Fifth Avenue.” I had to experience this book set at the New York Public Library as I stopped there between business meetings and regularly borrow audio books from NYPL (although I live 200 miles away.) I enjoyed the story and the tidbits about the NYPL I did not know. Taking a full tour next time I venture to the city!

    I recently listened to “Think Again” by Adam Grant which focuses on how we can be left of center on what what we think we know. The audio read by the author was funny, intriguing and a quick read. No murder involved.

    Sanjay Gupta’s “Keep Sharp'” is on tap next.

  12. Lenora

    Carole, thank you very much for all you share. In our house “Reading is not an option.” A friend, who doesn’t enjoy reading recommended a DVD (A Man Called Ove by Friedrik Backman). We watched and had many laughs and tears. So, I went back to our library and checked out the book which was translated by Henming Koch. I enjoyed the book very much and went back to our library to check out the DVD again. Much to think about as the years begin to add up!

  13. Just finished reading “Greece Actually” by Sue Roberts. It was a fun and easy summer read, and one I highly recommend. Another one, by a favorite author is “Marriage Can Be Mischief”
    by Amanda Flower. It is part of a series but can be read alone. And the last one I recently read was “Chapter and Curse” by Elizabeth Penney. I like when literature is combined with the story. A fun new series that starts well. All three of these books are fairly light, but fun. I consider them easy summer reads.

  14. Sandra B

    Thank you for letting us know about the books you have read recently!
    I love murder mysteries, but have recently read some that are not in that genre…
    Here they are:
    Forever This Time, by Maggie McGinnis
    The Loneliest Cottage, by Melissa Storm
    The Nantucket Inn, by Pamela Kelley

    The next three are all by Tess Thompson… they are the first three in a 15 book series. First book is Traded, second is Deleted, and third is Jaded

    I enjoyed all of these…they were all new-to-me authors. I will be reading other books by them in the future, for sure.

    If you choose any for your reading list, enjoy!

  15. Nanci Cartwright

    I love your book reviews. I recently finished the first three Ladybug Farms books because of your reviews and mailed them off to my friend in NV because I know that she’ll love them too. I also just ordered The Hidden Thread, and then added The forgotten Seamstress. I buy used books or Kindle versions. My used books go into our little free lending library in a tree in my community or to friends when I’m done reading them.

    I recently read two books that were suggested to me on my kindle reading list. They’re books by Japanese authors and both were haunting in different ways. I plan to read more books by these two authors. I’ll list the books with lifted descriptions written by others because both are difficult for me to describe except to say that both were gentle books, different from one another, haunting, and have stayed with me.

    The first is Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi:

    In Tokyo, there’s a little coffee shop, old-fashioned, unpretentious, but with a startling secret. In the Funiculi Funicula café, under the right circumstances, if you follow the rules, you can travel in time.

    The rules aren’t complex, but they must be followed exactly. You can only time travel in one chair in the café, and you can’t get out of that seat while “traveling.” That chair is normally occupied by a ghost, and only once a day, when she gets up to use the bathroom, can you sit there and “travel.” You can only meet someone in the past who has visited the café.

    Oh, and you need to finish your coffee–and return to the present–before the coffee gets cold.

    The final catch–nothing you do or say in the past will change the present. So why bother?

    The Second Book is Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami. At first it moved so slowly, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it but it kept calling me back and the ending…well. This is copied from someone else’s review but I think that it describes it best for me:

    An absolutely devastating, haunting, singular work of fiction that made me feel like I was peering into the lives of two very lonely individuals that meet up, by chance it would seem, and begin an affectionate dance toward each other, in only the way two people from Japan might do. I really had the breath taken out of my lungs in the last section, and sure, you might run out of breath by the time you get there, being that the book moves at an incredibly slow pace the whole way through, but trust me when I say to you that the payoff of reaching the conclusion is beyond worth the journey.

    Thank you as always for your excellent book reviews. I have never been disappointed by a book you’ve recommended.

      1. Nanci Cartwright

        Good Grief! I think that this is the second time that I’ve recommended a book that you had suggested a good read in a previous book review. I thought that it came from one of my Kindle offerings but I’d better check in the future to make sure that it wasn’t from one of your book reviews that I got the recommendation. THAT is why your book reviews are so good Carole. I definitely benefit from them!

  16. Thanks for your great and honest reviews Carole~ disappointing about Scott Turow…my favorite genre right now is cozy mystery series, I’m reading several by Tonya Kappes, the Killer Coffee Cozy mysteries and A Camper and Criminals Cozy mysteries. I just finished several by Mary Jane Hathaway in her Jane Austin takes the South series, they were good. I also just read All Summer Long by Dorthea Benton Frank, I read the whole thing but it was a little bizarre in places and almost too complex like the author was trying to hard…Anyway, thank you and happy reading!
    Jenna

  17. Have you read “The Gown” by Jennifer Robson? (Historical fiction about the creation of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown by Norman Hartnell, though that’s the setting and framework of the story, but I learned a LOT about how things like that are made). I enjoyed “Love, Death and Rare Books” recently and will include it soon in my June book post. (I’m behind.) I also liked “People of the Book” (Geraldine Brooks, I think) and you’ve probably read “A Gentleman from Moscow” (which I just finished). Everyone else read it ages ago!

  18. Sue Hoover

    Thanks for the suggestions. I put in a request from my local library for “The Midnight Library” audio book for me. Something to listen to while machine quilting. I also requested “Cosmic Queries” for my husband. I think he’ll enjoy looking through that one! I’m currently reading Stephen King’s “If It Bleeds” which is actually 4 short stories. The first one was “Mr. Harrigan’s Phone” and it was really interesting with a lot of life lessons. I was wondering how much of this really happened to Mr. King growing up. I had to put it aside though because my library request for “Force of Nature” by Jane Harper came in sooner than expected. I’ve just started it but it looks like another good read by “The Dry” author.

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