I’m not going to look back before this year (I’m sure many of y’all read a lot more and this exercise might be just what you’ve read this month!), but 2014 is off to a pretty good start for me with two five star books and an even mix of four and three stars. I haven’t read anything I didn’t enjoy and some of what I’ve read I’ve really loved.
Here’s the list so far:
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton – a favorite of mine for many years and I finished up a re-listen with the Craft Lit podcast back in January. This was Brenda Dayne’s recording and she did an excellent job with it. I previously listened to Elizabeth Klett’s recording on Librivox and enjoyed that one, too. I’d listen to either of these ladies read just about anything!
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – recommended by Ann Kingman on the Books on the Nightstand podcast. This is my favorite new book of the year:
I loved this! laughed out loud and even teared up a few times. highly recommend. I also loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. something about the way the characters (on the autistic spectrum and highly functioning) see the world and can stay so focused fascinates me.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona, Countess of Carnavon – the January selection for my church’s book club. A solid four stars and I hope to read the sequel eventually. Here’s what I said about it on Goodreads:
surprisingly charmed. I am a huge fan of Downton Abbey, but have to say, the real Carnavon family is just as interesting or maybe even more so (since they’re real!) This was a pick for my church bookclub and I was only about 50 pages into the book when we had our meeting. The discussion intrigued me and I finished the book just a few days later. I had no idea about the link with King Tut (saw that exhibit in San Francisco many years ago… can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to discover it!) or that Highclere was really a hospital in WWI. was fun seeing some of the Downton Abbey characters (and names) pop up in the book…Julian Fellowes had a great roadmap!
The House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III – the February selection for my neighborhood book club. It was published in the late 1990’s and surprisingly many of us had never read it (or seen the movie, me included on both counts). The late 1990’s means pre-9/11 and a time when people made phone calls from pay phones. We had an interesting discussion about how – or even if – this story would play out now. I gave it four stars:
I wasn’t familiar with the story or the ending…but I could tell from about about page 5 that it wasn’t going to end well. I thought about abandonding it midway through (I didn’t think I was ready for a book without a happy ending) and then read the ending. I was surprised by the last five pages, so decided to stick with it to see how it got there. Whoa. crazy ride. And in the end, I’m glad I read it all. I loved the writing. The contrast of cultures came through so clearly. I also felt I understood why the characters did what they did…in spite of their actions being very foreign to me.
Broken Land, A Brooklyn Tale by John Biscello:
I downloaded it for free because it was set in Brooklyn and the blurb sounded interesting. I was captivated by the story that reminded me a bit of The Gargoyle (which I loved). giving this one only 4 stars because I wanted it to be longer and more developed. if a sequel comes out I’ll read it!
The Good House by Ann Leary:
3.5 stars. First book for the new bookclub in my neighborhood. Parts were hard to read like “oh, I know this isn’t going to turn out well…” and I’d put it down, but a few hours later I’d be ready to pick it up again to see what happened. It’s a good discussion book for sure.
The Angels of Morgan Hill by Donna VanLiere – 3 stars: a sweet story. and a nice palate cleanser after House of Sand and Fog!
Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers – I planned to read this before we saw Saving Mr. Banks at Christmas, but I didn’t get all the way through until last month. And I gave it only 3 stars:
I love the movie and had high expectations for the book. Sadly, I thought it was just OK. The “Saving Mr Banks” theme was hard to find (maybe I just missed it?!) and a few of the children’s adventures with Mary were downright weird (Christmas shopping with one of the Pleiades?)
And since that’s only eight, I’m also including two books I haven’t quite finished.
A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve – my mom really enjoyed this and I trust her recommendations more than the not-so-great reviews on Goodreads. I’m about halfway through and really enjoying it. This is a hardback book and it’s on my nightstand…which means I don’t actually read more than a few pages a day so it’s going slowly!
The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley – the April selection for my neighborhood book club (which meets next week). A few of my neighbors have already finished it and the reviews are all good. If I weren’t trying to finish Tsubasa and blog more often, I might be done too!
So that’s it! I’m always on the lookout for book recommendations and look forward to getting some good ones from y’all today.