February 2021–Part Three

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi (Length: 291 pages).   What a fun book to read! The construct is that an old anthology of mystery stories is being re-published, so an assistant with the publishing house meets with the author to review each mystery so she can write the foreword and figure out marketing. As they review each mystery, you the reader read them along with the author and the assistant, and you also learn the various mathematical possibilities for the solution to each mystery (based on author’s theories). If you’ve read any mysteries at all, you’ll recognize many of the tropes, which is a lot of fun, but the narrative arc between the assistant and the author is interesting as well. This is worth a read!

Book #2:

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Length: 465 pages). I adored this book! I learned of this series via the Well-Read podcast (which is EXCELLENT!). This novel is delightful which I didn’t expect from a “romance”. The characters are all well-developed and likeable, and the dialogue is laugh-out-loud clever and funny. The setting is adorable–a small island in Cornwall called Mount Polbearne, connected to the mainland via a causeway. The protagonist, Polly, ends up opening up a very small bread bakery and you follow along for the ride. The best part about this little novel, however, are the various characters Polly interacts with (including a puffin!). This is absolutely worth the read if you’re in the mood for a fun, sweet escape!

Book #3:

The Push by Ashley Audrain (Length: 317 pages).  This meets the hype! I read this book has been described as the motherhood version of Gone Girl. I can see that (due to the unreliable narrator)–I also see that it’s similar to Defending Jacob and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I found this to be well-written and the plot is very well constructed as well as propulsive (you’ll need a long stretch of uninterrupted time to read this one). The narrative format is interesting here–it’s in the form of a letter written to the narrator’s ex-husband, filled with observations about their possibly sociopathic daughter. All of my good friends are reading it right now, which is perfect as I absolutely want to discuss it with them. (I’m also making them all watch “Behind Her Eyes” on Netflix so we can all discuss.) This one is absolutely worth a read!

Book #4:

After Her by Joyce Maynard (Length: 491 pages).  I’ve had this on my bookshelf for a few years and picked it up on a whim, not expecting much. But wow, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a slow start but builds to a first crescendo that is interesting, and then years later ends with another. The narrative centers around a homicide detective in Marin County in the late 1970s, with two young daughters, who is tracking a serial killer in the mountains behind their suburban home. The novel is written from the POV of the elder of his two daughters, Rachel, who is eleven when we first meet her. The character development is excellent here, while the plot drags a bit in the middle of the book. While the serial killer aspect is exciting, I really enjoyed the relationship between the two sisters, as well as Rachel’s navigation into teenagerdom. I really enjoyed this book, and will be thinking of it for quite a while, which is a great sign of a worthy read.

Book #5:

Blood, Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton (Length: 306 pages).  I’ve had this chef memoir on my TBR list for years so when it popped up as a Kindle deal I snapped it up, and I’m so glad I did. I love reading about food, and what it takes to open (and operate) a successful restaurant, and this memoir absolutely covers those topics. (Hamilton is the owner of the uber-successful Prune restaurant in NYC). However, thanks to the author’s MFA in writing, her actual writing is phenomenal here. Writing is her true love, but being a chef pays the bills. The author covers her interesting, eclectic childhood, raised by her French mom and set-builder artist dad, her personal life (a lesbian, she marries an Italian heterosexual man) and of course her career as a chef in a very male-dominated profession. There are three main sections of the book (one for each of the words in the title) but the memoir is not chronological, per se. My favorite parts are when she writes about their summer vacations in Italy, where her husband grew up. This is one to put on your list if you’re into chef memoirs as I am.

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