It’s been quite a while since I posted about what I’ve been reading this year. Truthfully, the amount I’ve been reading slowed quite a bit over the summer, and I haven’t been reading quite as much as I had been before. I spent most of July re-reading the Kent Family Chronicles by John Jakes, which I was enjoying until I got to book six. For the first five books, Amazon had made the audio version available for free with Whispersync (the books were all on Kindle Unlimited), and I had been alternately listening in the car and on walks and then reading at night. The sixth book didn’t have an audio version, I didn’t much like the characters, and generally thought it was boring, so I abandoned the rest of the series. It was kind of disappointing to realize the books weren’t quite as great as I once thought they were.
On the plus side, I did read quite a few good books in August and over the past two months.
The Lake House: A Novel by Kate Morton
The only thing I dislike about Kate Morton is that she doesn’t publish oftener. I had been eagerly awaiting Kate Morton’s newest novel since devouring The Secret Keeper a few years ago and snatched it up as soon as it was released in October. The Lake House follows a similar formula to historical fiction by Morton, Suzanna Kearsley and others in that it involves parallel story lines – one in the present day (or close to it) and one in the past. In this plot, Morton further complicated matters by time traveling to multiple points in the past and revealing the plot line from multiple character view points.
The story is told from the point of view of present day heroine Sadie Sparrow as well as Eleanor Edevane and her daughter Alice Edevane at various points in the first half the 20th century. The bulk of the novel revolves around the tragic disappearance of Theodore Edevane, Eleanor’s son and Alice’s young brother, on the night of an annual summer party at the family’s residence in Cornwall. Sadie Sparrow, a London detective, discovers the home, locked and abandoned, on a visit to Cornwall and becomes obsessed with unraveling its mysteries.
I found The Lake House to be an entertaining and captivating read, as are all of Morton’s novels. However, unlike the Secret Keeper whose ending was a total surprise, I suspected the eventual outcome almost from the very beginning. The fun was in discovering how all of the details unfolded. The Secret Keeper was definitely a tough act to follow, but the Lake House doesn’t disappoint.
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I downloaded this first time novel by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan after hearing their interview on The Lively Show podcast. I normally stay away from fluffy, contemporary romance novels and I don’t particularly care for plots revolving around fictional royalty, but the interview with the authors was so interesting that I had to give it a shot.
The story is a fictionalized account of the courtship and engagement of Prince William and Princess Kate, except in this version, Kate is actually an American exchange student Bex Porter, with a twin sister, who happens to end up living on Prince William’s, I mean Nick’s, hall at Cambridge. I expected to think this book was silly and boring, but I ended up staying up late several nights in a row (it’s long!) to finish it. Anyone who follows the royals will recognize some key events from William and Kate’s relationship, including their breakup, but the characters come into their own, including Freddie, who is as charming and dashing as his real life counterpart Prince Harry appears to be in real life.
I’m already looking forward to the sequel.
Me Before You: A Novel by JoJo Moyes
I resisted reading Me Before You for ages but eventually decided I needed to start reading JoJo Moyes novels, mostly because of the fantastic font on her book covers. I was incredibly skeptical of the plot – caregiver Lousia Clark falls for her paralyzed patient Will, who is handsome yet incorrigible – but I found myself engrossed in the will he or won’t he question that haunts both the plot and Louisa. I loved and hated the ending at the same time. Make sure you have plenty of tissues on hand.
The sequel After You is now available but receiving less positive reviews than the original. I liked Lousia’s character and wouldn’t mind finding out what happens to her, but I’ll probably wait for this one to go on sale.
The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman
The Plum Tree was a Kindle Unlimited read. I had been unofficially trying to avoid WWII novels after All the Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale partly because the subject can get depressing and partly because those books were just so good that I couldn’t bear to read anything less successful. The Plum Tree followed some of the key themes from other Holocaust and WWII centered plots, but it had its own twists on them. The ending, thankfully, is happy.
The Milliner’s Secret by Natalie Meg Evans
Since I broke my WWII genre resolution, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to read one more. The Milliner’s Secret follows a young English woman who moves to Paris with her German officer lover prior to the start of the war. She works as a milliner and eventually opens her own hat shop. Like The Nightingale, the story eventually involves the Resistance.
I found important aspects of the book a little difficult to believe. For instance, the main character learns French and develops a French accent so perfect that everyone believes she was born in France. And, she manages to do so incredibly quickly.
Still, I generally enjoyed the book and would recommend it as a quick and easy read.
A Wilder Rose: A Novel by Susan Wittig Albert
Like many little girls, I was obsessed with the Little House books when I was younger. I read all of them including the lesser known followup books On the Way Home and West from Home. I always knew Rose existed, and I knew she was also a writer and helped with the Little House books. I didn’t know just how involved she was with the writing of the series and what a successful writer she herself was, as well as a passionate Libertarian. A Wilder Rose is told from Rose’s point of view as, later in life, she narrates the story of how the Little House books came to be to a friend. The book is a fictionalized account but reads more like a memoir. It was dry at times, but the insight into Laura Ingalls Wilder was fascinating as well as a little disconcerting.
Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall by Winston Graham, 1783-1787 (The Poldark Saga)
I picked up the first Poldark novel after watching the first season of the television series on PBS. The book is richer in detail but the storyline is very similar to the show. I think I would have found it difficult to follow if I hadn’t seen the series, making it one of the few times I’ve been grateful to see the TV/movie version before reading the book.
I have quite a few books queued up in my Kindle as well as several non-fiction books that I’ve started and haven’t finished. Now that it’s getting dark earlier and cold, I feel like it’s a great time to hibernate and hole up in front of the fire with a sleeping dog, cup of tea, and a great book.
What have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?
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