November Book Chat

So many good books, so little time, LOL!! I like the quiet of the early morning for reading, and a rainy morning makes me linger a bit longer in my cozy chair. I am still working my way through a very long list of recommended reads from friends and book blogs, so more of my reading is spent with books I would recommend. Yet, a few still linger on my home library shelves, and I’ll pull one to read not checking the reviews. One such book made it into this month’s reading, and I should have left it at the thrift shop. Still, six out of seven were well worth my reading time. Here’s my list for the past few weeks, let’s start with two good ones. Links to Amazon are provided, thank you for using my affiliate links!

Golden Girl by Elin Hildebrand
An unusual book with an interesting premise, the family involved has deeply flawed characters very indicative of real life. As almost everyone can relate, some people just have issues and this creates conflict within a family. As they come to terms with the loss of their mother, I became so involved with this family it was difficult to put the book down. The person responsible is easy to guess, but the book is not about who killed her in a hit and run. The book is about the people left behind and the choices they make, with three helpful nudges from their mother from the spirit world. I really liked the story, and look forward to reading more from this author.

The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson
Slow moving at the start, this novel seems to drag a bit until about half way in. The brooding teenager seems annoying at first, and two plot points are easily guessable early on. But, things are not as they seem with Ruby, and her motivations are suspect. Or are they? There will come a point in the story, just after 200 pages in, that all of a sudden you won’t want to put the book down. Circumstances will change, family secrets come to light for Angie, and there is yet more to reveal in the last pages. Truly, a slow burn building to a crescendo of secrets and lies. Brilliantly plotted.

The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene
A charming story of three British women who love vintage things, they meet at a flea market when all three are drawn to a vintage tea set. Each wants it for different reasons, and they agree that they will take turns using it. The story that follows is each of their lives and struggles with problems in their lives and their growing friendship over searching for more teacups for two to use in special events, and the last to make into candles when the events are done. The teacup set is a minor plot point in the prologue, the story is focused on the women and their relationships. The ending is charming and sweet, but in a way unfinished as we only get to see the first event, and the others are left to our imagination.

Knitting Under the Influence by Claire LaZebnik
I picked this one up for the title, as it sounded funny, expecting a typical chick lit book. It had some humor, but some of the situations were just beyond belief – like a woman leaving her sister’s employ and home only to have a guy give her a job and lets her live in an empty apartment on the same day. There was some good story telling in the one woman with an austistic brother working with autistic children. but even that got a little over the top. She takes on the son of the man who tormented her brother when they were in high school. A little too much. Plus, the knitting is just a background theme, as the women get together to stitch and bitch once a week. Overall, meh.

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
An entertaining work of historical fiction surrounding the Grand Central Terminal in New York both in its heyday in the 1920s and deteriorating in the 1970s. The real life art school which was there up to 1944 provides a backdrop for the voices of two women in two time periods. The fight to preserve the old building is in the background while the two main characters struggle in their own ways – one to become recognized for her art in a time when women were relegated to second class citizens, and the other to find herself again after a mastectomy leads to a devastating divorce. The stories are connected through the discovery of a watercolor painted by the artist and found in the future. Although the last quarter of the book gets a bit convoluted, the story is enjoyable.

The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs
Sweetly written tale of a woman dealing with grief of losing her mother, the slow decline of her grandfather into dementia and crushing financial debt left behind in a vintage bookstore in a decrepit building. Utterly predictable, but isn’t that why we read this genre? We want the problems to resolve in nice ways, the right man to win her heart, and all to be OK in the end. This story doesn’t disappoint with this criteria, and leaves the reader with a warm feeling. Is it chick lit? Sure. Is it great literature, no. But it is a perfect autumn read for a cozy chair and a quilt next to a fire on a chilly night.

The Whispering House by Elizabeth Brooks
Dark and gothic, a profoundly depressed and grieving woman is drawn into the world of a tortured artist living with his elderly and ill mother in a crumbling mansion. The book moves slowly, as if time slows down and crawls through the days. The reader is drawn in, insidiously, until a point is reached about 2/3 of the way in where it becomes next to impossible to put down. This is a great gothic read, and the perfect book for long and rainy days.

I have some fun reading on the way, with a few holiday theme books. I’ll share those with you after Thanksgiving.

What are you reading now?

18 thoughts on “November Book Chat

  1. Julie

    My favorite comment, “utterly predictable but that’s why we read them” – so true! You know what you’re getting into, different names & places, & sometimes a new twist will surprise you. After I got one of the books recommended last month I realized I’d ‘read’ it before. It was an audio book & they don’t stick in my mind as well as the ones I actually read, different experience. I’ve been pondering a few listed here. After I’ve finished “The Shadow of Death” by James Runcie (source material for PBS Grantchester) I’ll check one out.

  2. Carole, I love your book reviews! I was very interested in one of the books you mentioned in your last book chat…Harvest Season by Melanie Lageschulte. I found a great deal on books 1-8 of this series and have read them in order. I have since purchased book 9 and 10 and am now reading book 10, although I am reluctant for the story to come to an end. I love books with recurring characters…they become like old friends you’ve known all your life.

    Have you read The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie? The story follows one Singer hand crank sewing machine made in early 1900s in Scotland and the families it touches. It is an epic story with a sweet ending. I loved it and now display it with my own antique Singer treadle machine.

  3. I loved Golden Girl! I’ve become an Elin Hilderbrand fan this year – I think it’s that Nantucket setting. I also enjoy Susan Wiggs, but will have to look and see if I’ve read that one yet. Earlier this year, my book club chose Fiona Davis for one of our months and I read The Lions of 5th Avenue. I think she has written several books about famous buildings in NYC – kind of an interesting premise! The one I read focused on the NY public library. I just finished Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave. It’s a good one – I couldn’t put it down! Thanks for the book recommendations, Carole!

  4. I started The Whispering House and set it aside, so perhaps I hadn’t reached the 2/3rds way through yet – maybe I’ll have to pick it up again and finish it. I enjoyed The Masterpiece and The Lost and Found Bookshop – easy, enjoyable reads.

  5. karenfae

    I have read some Susan Wigg so will look for that one – right now I am reading the Women’s Murder Club from the 1st book – I know I have read a few of these over the years but missed a lot of them.(James Patterson)

  6. Cynthia Todd

    The cutting season by Attica Locke A novel about a single mother who returns to her roofs and solves mysteries of the past that are influencing the future Good read

  7. Sue H

    I recently read “Later” by Stephen King. It was really good. Categorized as a crime novel which intrigued me. I also read “The Disappearing Act” by Catherine Steadman. I think Catherine should just stick to acting. This book was not written very well, in my opinion. I thought the main character seemed very shallow & self-centered and so I couldn’t care what happened to her and I lost interest. Not too long ago I also read “The Shack” by William Paul Young. VERY GOOD book. It really stretched my imagination of the afterlife. It’s a real thinker! Currently I’m reading and enjoying very much “Fool Me Once” by Harlan Coben. I’ll let you know how I like it when I’m through.

  8. Just finished another Daniel Silva , #21 in a series, The Cellist. It was written post pandemic/post election and although I love the Israeli-French-British-US politics in the previous novels, there were parts that left me questioning if I will read another of Daniel’s books. Another that I wrapped up while traveling was David Baldacci “A minute to midnight” which was again, part of a series. It stood alone (#2 in the series) fairly. I appreciate your list, and often add them to my holds at the library. I enjoyed the Lost and Found bookshop last year. I think it was on Marie Bostwick’s book list as well.

  9. Evie H

    Love your book reviews. Re the Glass Forest (or any other such book), if it hasn’t intrigued me within the first 100 pages I will probably set it aside. Too many books to read to get bogged down with one that hasn’t grabbed me at the start. Just finished an interesting WWII novel about some women’s jobs during the London Blitz: Under a Sky on Fire by Suzanne Kelman.

  10. Marion

    The Vintage teacup club sounds like a book that I would enjoy. I am reading Christmas in Winter hill by Melody Carlson. Just finished A Victorian Christmas,5 different stories. This book was in my book closet that was purchased a few years ago but was never read. i enjoyed four of the five stories and the fifth one was just mildly liked. I will star The Amish Bakery (several different authors in this one. Also finished the trilogy An Amish Cookie Club, Strickley reading all Christmas books.
    Marion

  11. Colette

    I have The Lost and Found Bookshop. Perhaps I will throw it in the rotation in the next few days. Thanks for the recommendations, a few books to add to my ever expanding want to read list.

  12. Wonderful book reviews! So grateful for an honest assessment on the merits of the books.

    I’m nearing the end of the Rose Code by Kate Quinn. The book has good character development and superb British style writing. This historical fiction book about WWII female code breakers brought me to the point where I could not put it down.

    I enjoyed the Midnight Library. I picture this book as recommended reading for students mulling over life choices.

    I’ve put a library hold on a couple of the titles you’ve recommended.

    Thank you Carole! Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

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