Reading List

Books #48

My goal for 2019 was 165 books and I just reached that goal!

I’ve read some good ones lately! I also had a FLOOD of library books all come available at the same time, of course, so it was hard to get through everything. But here are some favorites:

#1 A Season to Lie (Detective Gemma Monroe #2) by Emily Littlejohn

Really strong sequel. I enjoyed this mystery a lot. Gemma is back, a new mother, and trying to fit back into work after maternity leave. She gets a big case–a famous author is murdered. I didn’t guess who the doer was until almost the end, so I liked the surprise. There were lots of twists and turns and red herrings. The characters showed some growth, too, and seemed a little more fleshed out.

#2 The Birth House by Ami McKay

I really enjoyed this book! It was a fascinating read and I loved the characters.

It takes place in the early 1900’s in a remote Canadian community in Nova Scotia. Dora is a teenager and is befriended by the town midwife, Miss B, who takes her under her wing and teachers her how to “catch babies.”

“Miss B. never asks for payment from those who come to her. She says a true traiteur never does. Grandmothers who still believe in her ways and thankful new mothers leave coffee tins, heavy with coins that have been collected after Sunday service. In season, families bring baskets of potatoes, carrots, cabbage and anything else she might need to get by.”

It’s a fascinating time period because it’s a clash of two worlds. The old world, where women went to the midwife for everyone, and the new “shiny birthing center” built by an insurance company and run by a man. This is also the time of “twilight birth” being touted as the BEST way to give birth! Chloroform and ether! Yay!

““The latest methods of obstetrics—chloroform, ether, chloral, opium, morphine, the use of forceps—these things can make birthing the joyful experience it was meant to be. I can even administer Twilight Sleep if desired.” “

There was so much history and interesting stuff in this book and it was a real joy to read. The book was well written and a fast read.

“If women lose the right to say where and how they birth their children, then they will have lost something that’s as dear to life as breathing. I’m tired of being afraid.”

#3 Old Bones (Nora Kelly) by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

So good! Nora Kelly is “back”–she was first introduced in one of my FAVORITE books (Thunderhead) so it looks like they are making a series out of her. In this book, Nora is approached by a historian who has knowledge of a secret third camp from the Donner Party in the Sierra Nevadas. Together they convince her boss at the Museum to put together a team to search for it.

The book is really well written. You get sucked into the story immediately and it’s exciting and faced paced. Felt like an Indian Jones movie, with a little twist of horror. Loved the ending!

#4 Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

Laurel Mack is a 50-something mother of three who never really got over the fact that her 15 year old daughter, Ellie, disappeared 10 years ago. It destroyed her, destroyed her marriage, fractured her relationship with her other two kids. Now she’s trying to piece together her life and move on. She starts by dating a handsome stranger, Floyd, whom she meets in a cafe.

But as the buzz of new happiness starts to dissipate, Laurel starts to question some things about Floyd and his 9 year old daughter, Poppy.

So the book was good. It kept me reading long after I should have put the book down. The writing and the dialogue was good. The atmosphere created was good. The plot points were obvious and predictable and unrealistic, but I still liked the book a lot so it kept me reading.

#5 The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Wow! This book blew me away. It was so so good. The author expertly created a vibe of creepiness that never wavered throughout the book. The creepy, remote house in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. Creepy kids. A house that is super high tech where you’re constantly feeling watched…All the elements were there.

Rowan takes a job as a live-in nanny in remote Scotland. The parents are rich architects and away a lot. Rowan is kind of thrown into the mix immediately and strange things start happening in this weird house, where there’s a history of “ghosts” and hauntings and there’s a poison garden on the grounds. Everything about the place and the kids and the situation has Rowan on edge. In the end, a child ends up dead. (Thankfully, it’s not described in detail, so don’t let that aspect deter you from reading the book like it almost did me.) The ending had several twists and turns that were surprising.

#6 The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

I found this book enduring and sweet and heartwarming. Arthur is an 80-something year old man who visits his wife in the cemetery every day for lunch. He’s lonely. Maddy is a teenager who is also lonely and visit her mom in the cemetery. They become unlikely friends. The book was reminiscent of Catherine Hyde Ryan books. I enjoyed it.

Happy Reading!

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Books #46

I’ve had my first cold since having my sinus surgery (in March). Yuck! I am not 100% yet, and crossing my fingers it doesn’t move into my chest next. But since I’ve been sick for the last week, I had some time to catch up on some reading.

#1 I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan

Oh man this book was good! If I could give it 10 out of 5 stars I would! I liked it so much. It’s well written, the characters all seem very real, the story is engrossing and relateable.

Penelope is a middle-age mother of two kids, the primary bread-winner and her husband, who dropped out of medical school to be a writer is just kind of coasting through life.

“I loved my husband. I loved my kids. I mostly liked my life. But I was so damn tired.”

She’s overwhelmed, unhappy and feeling stuck and lost and kinda like she wants to escape all at the same time.

“Change was a privilege reserved for people whose families didn’t rely on them for food, shelter, and health insurance.”

“But something between us had shifted over the course of our marriage, particularly the last two to three years. We had gone from being lovers to best friends to . . . roommates who routinely irritated each other. If I was honest with myself, that was what it felt like most of the time.”

Then her life is hit by a tragic event that makes her reevaluate things. She realizes she needs to make some changes in her life, her career, her marriage, in order to survive.

It’s weird because the reviews are mixed about this book. Seems like people weren’t a fan of the audio version. Or they felt like “nothing” happened and I wonder–did they read the same book I did? Because a lot happened! Anyway, I liked it a lot and thought it was an interesting, thoughtful look at friendship, marriage, grief and life.

#2 Land of Shadows (Detective Elouise Norton #1) by Rachel Howzell Hall

Excellent! Loved this book. What a great start to a new series. Lou is a homicide detective in LA. She gets a case that at first glance looked like a suicide, but she knows in her gut it’s not. She was right. And the murder hits a little too close to home for her, bringing up a lot of ghosts from her past.

Lou is an AWESOME character. Multi-dimensional, feisty, smart, strong. The book is engrossing and fast moving. I totally pictured it as a movie and could not wait to read the rest of the series.

Highly recommend this book. The second I finished it, I downloaded the second book!

#3 Skies of Ash (Detective Elouise Norton #2) by Rachel Howzell Hall

The sequel. It’s just as good, although I guessed whodunit pretty early on in the story. I love the character so much, it didn’t matter.

In this book, Lou is called to a fire where three bodies are found. Juliet Chatman and her two kids have died in the fire and her husband, Christopher, was injured trying to save them. But Lou doesn’t buy it. Partially because she’s going through a rough spot in her marriage and doesn’t really like men much right now, but she doesn’t think the husband’s story pans out. And as she starts to investigate deeper, she discovers that the perfect couple wasn’t that perfect behind closed doors.

It was another fast, good read. I couldn’t put it down and downloaded book 3 immediately!

#4 Trail of Echoes (Detective Elouise Norton #3) by Rachel Howzell Hall

Another good book in the series. In this one, Lou and her partner Colin are investigating what turns out to be a serial killer who is kidnapping and murdering young, gifted, African American girls from the housing projects known as “The Jungle.”

Lou’s personal life is kind of a mess and she’s struggling to keep it out of her professional life. Lou’s dad is also trying to get back in her life. I didn’t find this storyline quite as compelling, but the investigation of the murders was great.

Fast-paced, witty writing, smart and funny. Lou if a great character–tough but emotional and you can relate to her. Again, I kind of guessed the killer pretty early on but that didn’t ruin the wild ride of the book. I still enjoyed it!

#5 Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo

The newest book in the series about Chief of Police Kate Burkholder in Amish country. In this book, a child is missing. It starts with a brutal murder and kidnapping of an Amish child with special needs. Kate is running against the clock because she knows as each hour passes, the likelihood of finding a kidnapped child goes down.

The book is a super quick read and a non-stop roller-coaster ride. It was very engrossing and another great read in the series.

#6 An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Jessica Farris is a single girl in New York, struggling to make ends meet as a makeup artist. To make some extra money, she signs up for a psychological study for Dr. Shields. But the study grows more and more invasive and intense and soon Jessica is doing things she never thought she’d do. She starts to realize that Dr. Shields has other motives for her “study.”

It was a good book, a slow burn with “twists” throughout the book instead of one big twist at the end. The story switches back and forth between the narrator being Jessica and narrator being Dr. Shields. Dr. Shields is fascinating and twisted. The ending was slightly disappointing but overall the book was a good read.

Happy Reading!

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