I’ve covered a lot of ground recently, reading and listening to about six books a month. Here are some of my recent favorites:
I listened to this as an audiobook and found that to be a great way to take in the story. While not narrated by the author, I think the audiobook provides good insight into the text. This book was a hard listen. It reveals the difficult upbringing and educational transformation of Tara Westover, but that upbringing involved mental and emotional abuse by a mentally ill survivalist father and physical and emotional abuse by a sibling. Submission by the mother to the father’s will adds insult to injury, leaving Tara and her siblings at the mercy of their unstable father. The memoir looks at the issue of reality and whose reality is accurate. It also shows the eye-opening growth of Tara from an unschooled mountain child to an well educated and “whole” woman with a PhD from Harvard.
I can’t say the book was enjoyable, but it was a fascinating look at the psychological mind games and emotional manipulation Tara says she endured. Her story seems fantastical, but credible; something you don’t realize happens in modern society. It looks at a unique pocket of America that relies on home cures, home schooling, and extreme versions of Mormon faith to create what they think is a self-sufficient, off-the-grid lifestyle. Tara is sure in the introduction to say that the book is not an indictment of Mormonism or Mormons, but her experience with her family within an extreme version of that faith. It is a gritty tale, difficult to hear but arresting in its honesty. Highly recommend (but follow it up with something light!).
A newer book in the Lucy Stone series, this one focuses on two things: the Silver Anniversary wedding weekend planned by a local Tinker’s Cove wedding shop owner and the death of one of Lucy’s friends from her days in New York City. Authorities say Lucy’s friend Beth committed suicide by jumping off the balcony of the apartment she shared with her billionaire fourth husband. Lucy doesn’t believe this conclusion and spends a week in New York City to prove it was actually murder. She focuses on Beth’s current husband and her three ex-husbands: the first a religious cult leader with whom she had a son, the second a troubled artist, and the third a seemingly mild-mannered chiropractor.
As her investigation proceeds, the danger level increase and Lucy finds herself in a sticky situation. The backdrop of the wedding weekend lightens things up and involves a couple where the wife is verbally abusive to the husband, but wants to celebrate their Silver Anniversary with the whole town as a way to promote her wedding shop and her husband’s limo business.
This is one of Stone’s better books. I love the change of scenery and Lucy striking out on her own. The author throws in some political commentary, which she has in several of the later books, and I find it distracting and preachy. Otherwise, a solid mystery where I suspected the murder, but never saw the end coming. A great read! **Thank you to NetGalley for gifting me this ebook.**
This book provides an interesting look at Iranian history using the backdrop of a coup in 1953. It follows the story of two young people who are separated on the eve of their wedding and go on to live separate lives in America, neither knowing about the other’s lives as 60 years pass. They are reunited as friends while he is dying in a nursing facility and new information comes to light that may have changed the course of their lives.
I liked the main characters in the book and the connection to the stationary shop where the two meet. I also love stories that span many years and involve lost love. The story also provides a good look at how women and, in America, women of color are treated in the 50s and ensuing years. Another great read and I would highly recommend it.
I read this book in two days, which is pretty quick for me. I always take on too many Christmas romances, but got this one finished near the beginning of January 2020. I loved the reunification of Zeb and Ivy in this Amish romance and her grandfather was an interesting character. It was interesting to see the push and pull between Zeb and Ivy who take on new opportunities that throw them together at Christmas time for a magical romance. It was a great and emotional story of love and forgiveness. I felt very invested in the characters and it was heartwarming in every sense of the word. **Thank you to NetGalley for gifting me this ebook**
What a fun book! Renowned pastry chef Olivia Rawlings moves from Boston to the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont (where her best friend lives) after she sets fire to the private club she had worked in. There she meets with an array of characters who become family to her, and one man who could restore her faith in love. Olivia is not pure as the driven snow (she was having an affair with a married man back in Boston), but she is quirky and compassionate and trying to find her place. There is humor, tragedy, music, and an apple pie baking contest to beat them all. It gives you all the feels and keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next. Well written, it breaks the trope of the “big-city girl makes it big in a small town” while providing a satisfying story. I would definitely read this again.
I always love Janet Dailey books, especially around Christmas time. This was a sweet story that had the right amount of romance and tension to keep you reading Throw in a touch of suspense and you’ve got the whole picture. A fun light read to get you in the Christmas spirit.
**Thank you to NetGalley for gifting me this ebook.**
A fun and refreshing story about two middle aged adults falling in love. I liked the characters with all their flaws and foibles. They we very realistic and young and fresh, not stodgy.
The ending is satisfying without being too predictable. Some spicy scenes but nothing over the top.
I enjoy the connections between Guillory’s books and look forward to more.
What have you been reading? Comment some of your favorites below.