February 2023–Part Two

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 Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams (Length: 322 pages) This romantic comedy is closed door, super cute and features the friends to lovers trope. Here, it’s an NFL QB and his ballet teacher BFF from high school who have been madly in love with one another IN SECRET for years. Yes, it’s totally unbelievable but because this is so well-written, with characters who have actual depth (my sweet spot for rom coms!) this actually works very well here. This will be one of my top ten books of the year for sure. A great vacation read.

Book #2:

Babel by R.F. Kuang (Length: 557 pages). Another B.O.T.M. (Book of the Month) pick that I’m VERY happy I picked. This is literary fiction (ie, you must have all brain cells operating while reading) set in 1800s Oxford England. A bit of magical realism featuring translators of foreign languages mingles with a historical thriller which grapples with colonialism, racism and the meaning of language all told via the magic of “silver working.” Essentially this is the manipulation of silver bars which power society for the benefit of the wealthy class. This is very well-written, obviously, and is very deep (ie, the brain must be turned ON to understand this). There are lots of footnotes so I don’t see how this works well on audio but the footnotes aren’t 100% necessary for the book so perhaps the audio (all 23 hours of it!) works sufficiently well? I found the plot to be propulsive and very memorable, and while it’s not a fun popcorn book, I’m very glad I spent the time and brainpower to read this book. It gave me a lot to think about and I will remember this in several years.

Book #3:

No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder (Length: 336 pages). I wish this would be assigned reading for every college freshman, but given the way this country is heading in its book-banning frenzy, that will NEVER happen. As the subtitle indicates, what we don’t know about domestic violence can kill us. I’m very familiar with the crime of domestic violence given my past and current career and even I learned quite a bit about this epidemic. This is not a dry academic treatise thanks to the author’s inclusion of many accounts by victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. The tone isn’t that of a lecture but instead is a very thought-provoking exploration of what we as a society MUST know about domestic violence. The scale and escalation of this horrible crime is frightening but this book truly empowers us to try to halt its progress if we decide to care. And, I really hope we do. A must read!

Book #4:

Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister (Length: 386 pages) This EXCELLENT mystery is my book club’s pick for next month but I just couldn’t wait to read it. The structure of this is totally unique . . . a mother looks out her front window and sees her son commit a murder and wonders what she could have done to prevent it. The next day she wakes up and it’s actually the day PRIOR to the murder, and the following day she jumps back into town even further. The construction of this novel really works, it’s very well-written, the plot absolutely makes this book impossible to put down and the central mystery is believable. I will say that there are lots of clues throughout that make this solvable before you finish, but I just enjoyed the ride and enjoyed the resolution. This is like a puzzle that you don’t want to finish because you’re enjoying the process of completing it. A great vacation read!

Book #5:

The Secret Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams (Length: 322 pages) . I listened to this on audio and it’s adorable! I don’t recall how it came onto my TBR but I saw that it was available from my library and that it’s the first book in a series so I tried it. I knew it would be a winner 10 minutes in, which is the best feeling. This is a cozy murder mystery set in the fictional town (I assume?) of Miracle Springs, North Carolina, and it features a group of 4 women who ultimately form a book club and secret murder solving club while enjoying the baked goods of one of the women. There are a few murders which need to be solved but this is primarily a book about friendship. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy but it’s a true cozy mystery and if you’re in the mood for that type of book this will fit the bill. All of the 4 main characters have depth thanks to their backstories, so you quickly come to care about them. The central mystery is not deep or difficult, a la the cozy, but it works here. I will absolutely continue on with the series, most likely in audio since this is so easy to follow and listen to. Let me know if you will too!

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