December 2020–Part Two

Thank you for joining me here!   (Reminder: the page numbers I list here reflect the number of Kindle pages, not paper pages.)  I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve (Length: 394 pages).   I really enjoyed this historical fiction book! It’s set in the Great Depression (just before and after the crash), and a house on a beach in New England is the home base of the plot here (Fortune’s Rocks). I didn’t realize until I started reading this, that this is the second book in a series. I had previously read The Pilot’s Wife years ago when it was Oprah’s Book Club pick,, and that book is the third in the series and features the same house in present day. The house is fixed up by a newly-married young couple, and then is the setting of meetings of union organizers protesting mill closings. The character development is excellent, and these characters are the primary focus of the book as there isn’t a ton of action. I really enjoyed how the author started to weave together seemingly disparate characters by the middle of the novel, and they all begin to interact. I would definitely recommend this book! However, if you’re a Kindle reader, I’d urge you to buy the entire series (it’s less than $4 for all 4 books!).

Book #2:

Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham (Length: 224 pages).  I am a HUGE fan of the TV show Parenthood, and a casual fan of the TV show Gilmore Girls (my teen daughters are massive fans of the latter), so I was excited to pick up this memoir. This is a fun read–Graham writes like she talks as Lorelai in Gilmore Girls, so I think her tone here makes this memoir different than most. Her writing is excellent, and I found her to be charming, self-deprecating and witty. I’m looking forward to reading her debut novel next (Someday, Someday, Maybe). I will say that I wish I had listened to this memoir on audiobook as Graham herself narrates it.

Book #3:

Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand (Length: 355 pages).  Ugh. I did NOT enjoy the first two books in this series (and have reviewed each of them earlier this year), but there were enough loose ends in the series’ central mystery that I couldn’t help myself and had to find out what happened. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book, especially in comparison to the first two novels. The characters who annoyed me in the first two books redeemed themselves sufficiently, in my opinion, and the resolution of the mystery was satisfactory. As with her first two books, I still enjoyed the author’s references to other authors and books, as well as the island of St. John. The major hurricanes in the Virgin Islands formed the basis for the hurricane story arc here, which was a semi-interesting plot point. I STILL wouldn’t recommend this series as I don’t think it adequately reflects this author’s talents but at least my curiosity was resolved by my reading this last book. 😉

Book #4:

Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years A Slave, and Four Years in the White House by Elizabeth Keckley (Length: 170 pages).  This is an autobiographical account written by Mrs. Lincoln’s dressmaker, a former slave. This is extremely interesting, historically, especially regarding her early life as a slave and how she was able to “buy” her freedom, but as written is a bit dry in parts and in others, it’s entirely too gossipy (she and Mrs. Lincoln had a falling out at the end of their lives). The writing here is very formal and a bit stilted, but granted, that’s reflective of the style of writing back then. I’m very glad I took the time to read this book, and to educate myself further about this period of our country’s history, but ultimately I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this book for the reasons above. Jennifer Chiaverini’s Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker is probably a better read about this subject.

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