Book Reviews–April 2019

Welcome!  I have large stacks of books TBR (To Be Read) on my nightstand, plus electronic stacks of books lined up in my Kindle, as well as books on hold at the library.  As I read these books, I love to share my thoughts and opinions of what I’ve read here in this space, because I enjoy sharing my passion for books with others.  I do have an eclectic taste in books, and will choose books based on my mood, or what’s going on in my life that week.  (Disclosure I use Amazon affiliate links to help pay for the costs of this website.  Any and all posts on this site may contain affiliate links (which will not affect your cost).  Finally, the page numbers I list here reflect the number of Kindle pages, not paper pages.  Thank you!)  I hope you enjoy this series.

Book #1: 

The Library at the Edge of the WorldThe Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes McCoy (Length: 368 pages).  I really, really wanted to love this book more than I did.  Libraries, Ireland, a bookmobile, fixing up a dilapidated cottage on the coast),  . . . this has all of the makings of my ideal novel.  The first half of this book is glacially slow, with too many extraneous details about characters that we don’t even read much about.  (Although because this is the first book in the series, perhaps the author is using this book to introduce characters to come?)   Also, I was not a fan of the protagonist.  I found her to be sullen, whiny and a bit spoiled.  The novel did pick up a bit in the second half, and the plot piqued my interest enough to continue reading, but I have to admit that would only continue reading this series if I was desperate for more books to read.

From the publisher:

In the bestselling tradition of Fannie Flagg and Jenny Colgan comes Felicity Hayes-McCoy’s U.S. debut about a local librarian who must find a way to rebuild her community and her own life in this touching, enchanting novel set on Ireland’s stunning West Coast.

As she drives her mobile library van between villages of Ireland’s West Coast, Hanna Casey tries not to think about a lot of things. Like the sophisticated lifestyle she abandoned after finding her English barrister husband in bed with another woman. Or that she’s back in Lissbeg, the rural Irish town she walked away from in her teens, living in the back bedroom of her overbearing mother’s retirement bungalow. Or, worse yet, her nagging fear that, as the local librarian and a prominent figure in the community, her failed marriage and ignominious return have made her a focus of gossip.

With her teenage daughter, Jazz, off traveling the world and her relationship with her own mother growing increasingly tense, Hanna is determined to reclaim her independence by restoring a derelict cottage left to her by her great-aunt. But when the threatened closure of the Lissbeg Library puts her personal plans in jeopardy, Hanna finds herself leading a battle to restore the heart and soul of the Finfarran Peninsula’s fragmented community. And she’s about to discover that the neighbors she’d always kept at a distance have come to mean more to her than she ever could have imagined.

Told with heart and abundant charm, The Library at the Edge of the World is a joyous story about the meaning of home and the importance of finding a place where you truly belong.

Book #2: 

The Mountain Between UsThe Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin (Length: 338 pages).  I have come to think of Charles Martin novels as junk food books that actually make you feel good after reading them.  Whenever I want a quick read that I can’t put down, I’ll be turning to a Charles Martin book.  This pick is no exception.  The first 100 pages are a bit slow-going, which is unusual for Martin’s books, but then my reading pace picked up rapidly thereafter.  There is a bit of a twist at the end, but with this novel, it really is more about the journey.  The characters are well-developed, and I could actually picture it as a movie while reading (it actually is!), which is always a good sign of vivid imagery and excellent word choice.  Would make a great beach read this summer.  Check this one out! 

From the publisher:

When a blizzard strands them in Salt Lake City, two strangers agree to charter a plane together, hoping to return home; Ben Payne is a gifted surgeon returning from a conference, and Ashley Knox, a magazine writer, is en route to her wedding. But when unthinkable tragedy strikes, the pair find themselves stranded in Utah’s most remote wilderness in the dead of winter, badly injured and miles from civilization. Without food or shelter, and only Ben’s mountain climbing gear to protect themselves, Ashley and Ben’s chances for survival look bleak, but their reliance on each other sparks an immediate connection, which soon evolves into something more.

Days in the mountains become weeks, as their hope for rescue dwindles. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Heart-wrenching and unputdownable, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us.

Book #3: 

Kitchens of the Great MidwestKitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal(Length: 312 pages).   This is a collection of short stories, essentially, which I didn’t realize when I purchased it for my Kindle.  It came highly recommended (although I can’t remember by who), so I was disappointed to not enjoy this book.  One common character is a part of each short story, and each story has a bit of a culinary theme.  The characters are not very likeable, and I honestly only liked one of the stories.  I made it halfway through this book, but I ultimately gave up . . . and I really, really dislike not finishing any book I read. 😦   Life is just too short to waste on books that aren’t your jam.  I may go back and finish this someday, but I doubt it. 

(I have since started Circe by Madeline Miller, and I’m already looking forward to picking it up and reading it each day.  I’ll post my final review in my May post).  

From the publisher: When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience.

Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity. By turns quirky, hilarious, and vividly sensory, Kitchens of the Great Midwest is an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life—its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises. It marks the entry of a brilliant new talent.


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