Reading Round-Up: October Edition

It’s been another great month of reading! I hope you’ll take a look at the titles I share this month and add your own to the comments.

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Murder on Astor Place: A Gaslight Mystery

The first book I finished this month was Murder on Astor Place, Book 1 in the Gaslight Mystery Series by Victoria Thompson. This is an historical mystery set in New York City around the turn of the twentieth century and features main character Sarah Brandt, ex-socialite-turned-midwife who is compelled to help solve the mystery of a young woman’s death shortly after meeting the girl under stressful circumstances. I am going to read every one of the Gaslight Mysteries! Read my review here.

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Alice by [Bibiana Krall]

Next up was Alice by Bibibana Krall. If you receive my newsletter, you may remember that Bibiana is one of the authors who makes up the BookEm YouTube team, of which I am a part. With that being said, Bibiana writes paranormal stories in a way that makes me feel like I’m right there, watching the scenes unfold in front of me. Read my review of this remarkable paranormal tale here.

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The Woman in Black (The Susan Hill Collection)

If you like ghost stories, this one is for you. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill was apparently made into a movie some years ago, but I had not heard of it until just last week. I read this story with nary a care for food, drink, or sleep, much like the main character, Arthur. This tale will give you the chicken skin and make you reconsider going outside at night. I highly recommend this for lovers of all things scary. Read my review here.

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And next was something a little different (actually, very different). For my book club this month, we read A Walk on the Beach by Joan Anderson. Written as an ode to the author’s friendship with a remarkable woman she met on Cape Cod one fateful autumn, this is a beautiful tale of wisdom, zest for life, and the importance of being active and engaged. I gave this book five bright stars. Read my review here.

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The Guest List: A Novel by [Lucy Foley]

I was intrigued by Lucy Foley’s The Guest List because of a blurb I read about it some months ago, and I found it to be a thrilling look at some of the secrets people keep and the things that drive them to commit unspeakable acts. With that being said, I would only recommend this book to someone who doesn’t mind a close-up look at those unspeakable acts, because some of them are pretty gritty and nauseating. Read my review here.

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Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson was the October choice for one of my book clubs. As I write this post, I haven’t yet attended the discussion, but I think it’s good to reflect on the book before listening to the opinions of others. So my review of this book about white Americans and their relationships with and to Americans of African descent is here and I hope you’ll take a minute to read it. This is a hugely important book on an even more important topic, and I think everyone should read it. It’s scholarly enough for high school and college students, yet written in a style that’s easy enough for everyone else to read.

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You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by [Michael Ian Black]

I had so many mixed feelings about this book, and in the end I gave it three stars and would not recommend it. The author, who is a comedian and actor, was new to me. His brutal and (admittedly, sometimes very funny) shameless honesty was really something to behold, and his obsession with sex and genitalia were off-putting, at best (he seemed never to have gotten beyond adolescence). And let me just say that if my husband ever talked about me the way Black talks about his wife, I’d give him the boot. Read my review here.

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So what have you all been reading? Care to share?

Until next time,

Amy

Reading Round-Up: August Edition

For the entire month of August, I’ve been thinking that the last Tuesday was actually next week. Imagine my shock when I learned it’s today. Luckily, over the past month I’ve been working on this post each time I finish a book, rather than waiting until the day before the last Tuesday and then writing the whole thing.

Anyway, August was a good month for reading! I’ve finished seven books since my last Reading Round-Up, and it’s an even more eclectic bunch than last month. Let’s get started!

 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. I read this for my book club, and if it hadn’t been assigned, I might not have chosen to read it. I think World War II stories are important, but I have to read them really far apart from each other or I just find them too overwhelming.

Let me start by saying this book is very closely based on a true story, which I find absolutely incredible. I highly recommend it, but only before and after you’ve read something very light-hearted. If you’re looking for a happy book, this isn’t the one for you. It takes a lot to get me to cry while I’m reading, and this reduced me to a puddle. Read my review here.

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Dead Man’s Prayer: A gripping detective thriller with a killer twist (DI Frank Farrell, Book 1) by [Jackie Baldwin]

Dead Man’s Prayer by Jackie Baldwin. I first heard about this book, the first in the DI Frank Farrell series, on Twitter when I started following author Jackie Baldwin. I was intrigued at first because I love books set in Scotland, but once I started reading the intrigue factor jumped into the stratosphere and I couldn’t turn pages fast enough. Are you looking for a thriller that will leave you breathless? You’ve come to the right place. Read my review here.

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Out of the Woods by Patricia Gligor. This is the third book in the Small Town Mystery Series. In this book, Kate Morgan confronts the man who left her, a pregnant teenager, eleven years ago. For the sake of their daughter, she tries to make the best of the situation, but his return causes some problems, not the least of which is the reaction of her fiance. And when questions arise about the man’s possible involvement in a number of horrifying home invasions, what will she tell her daughter?

This is a great book and although it’s classified as a mystery, it crosses genres into women’s fiction, family drama, and suspense. It’s got it all. Read my review here.

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Sea Wife: A novel by [Amity Gaige]

I really looked forward to reading Sea Wife by Amity Gaige. Billed as psychological suspense, it’s the story of a family (husband, wife, two young children) who leave their lives behind for a year and sail around the Caribbean. Unfortunately, it’s all psychological and no suspense. The main character, Juliet, suffers from depression and, it would appear, anxiety, and the story ends up being a morose tale of a marriage that has gone stale and the disturbing thoughts of a woman who doesn’t think she was ever meant to be a mother. I gave the book 3 stars and you can read my review hereAs I noted last month when I shared a book I didn’t really like, don’t let my review put you off from reading the book. There are plenty of glowing reviews for this work of literary fiction.

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The Orchardist: A Novel by [Amanda Coplin]

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin was a book club pick. I’m glad I read it, but I didn’t like it. It was depressing, entirely bereft of any semblance of happiness for any of the characters, and looooong. As in, almost 600 pages. The book spans many years, and I often felt like I was reading it in real time. On the other hand, in taking a look at the many reviews this book has garnered, I am clearly in the minority. There are lots of people who think this book is beautiful, moving, and melancholy in a good way. It’s just not my cup of tea. I think it’s because I like my reads to have at least a little bit of action and some character growth, and I saw almost none of that in this book. If you like a character-driven story, this might be for you. Read my full review here.

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Untamed by Glennon Doyle is a work of art. I listened to this memoir on CD, and hearing the book read by the author was a great experience. This is the first time I’ve heard a book (at least, not a children’s book) read by the author and though I have my doubts about fiction writers voicing their own work, for a memoir it was a wise choise. Read my review here.

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The Jane Austen Society: A Novel by [Natalie Jenner]

This book has been on my radar for a while, and I was eager to read it. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner doesn’t disappoint. Read my review here.

What have you read this month? I hope you’ll share your reads in the comments.

Until next time,

Amy

 

 

Reading Round-Up: February Edition

This is a short month, even with the extra day, and my reading list reflects that. I’ve only finished three books since my last update, so this will be a quick post.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

This is the one my book club is reading, thanks to everyone who voted in my recent poll. We meet on March 1st, so we haven’t discussed the book yet. But I loved it and I’m eager to talk about it with the group. Here’s my review:

“There is so much to love about this book, even with the heartbreak that runs through it like a river. Cussy Mary, the main character, is as strong a woman as I’ve seen in a novel, and her determination to bring books and learning to the hill folk of rural Kentucky is inspiring. The Book Woman is a beautiful tribute to the Pack Horse librarians of the WPA and to the ‘blue people’ who lived in Kentucky.

This book taught me a lot about the Depression-era sacrifice and the hardscrabble lives of the people in that unforgiving land, and I am happy to recommend it to anyone who loves books and libraries, anyone hoping to learn more about a group of people that I hadn’t heard of until I started reading the book, and anyone who loves a great story.”

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Callie’s Kitchen Mysteries Cookbook

Author Jenny Kales will be here in April to talk about this fabulous cookbook, and I couldn’t wait until then to read it. I’m going to make one of the recipes in it this week for my family, so I’ll be able to report back to you in April. Here’s my review:

“I am going to make every single recipe in this book. I can’t wait to get started! The Greek recipes sound fabulous and the Greek-inspired tweaks to Midwestern American foods are just that–inspired! This book is a great addition to any cook’s repertoire.”

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Under the Tuscan Sun

It took me almost a month to read this book and I will confess, I didn’t review it on Goodreads or Amazon because I just couldn’t give it a review of three stars or more. I finished it because by the time I got halfway through it, it had become a challenge and I’m no quitter.

The book is comprised of the musings of a professor from San Francisco who bought an old house in Tuscany and spends summers and winter breaks there. I found the writing pretentious. It tried way too hard to be poetic and it ended up sounding corny and off-putting. If the author implied one more time that she came from wealth by mentioning the cook her family had when she was young, I would have screamed. What could have been a fun story about the pitfalls of restoring an old house in a faraway land turned into a collection of so many lists of things to be done and excruciating details of some of the more expensive renovations.

The book did, on the other hand, encourage me to put Italy on my bucket list. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but I would like to visit Tuscany someday.

If you have read the book, please let me know what you thought of it. I am definitely in the minority of people who didn’t like it.

What have you been reading this month?

Until next time,

Amy