After a great reading month in December, this month was a bit hit or miss. I had a couple of really amazing reads and a couple of the strangest books that I have read in a long time. Now I don’t mind bizarre.  Sometimes, the weird books are the most interesting reads but a couple of these book were exceptional on the bizarre list. 

I also read a couple of historical fiction books.  One about the Vanderbilts at the turn of the twentieth century and one that was a beautiful story set during World War II.  The last book I read this month was probably my favorite.  It was a very character driven novel which I love.  It was the perfect story to cozy up to on a winter day.

Overall, this was a really good mix of books.  I hope that you find a book that you can’t wait to read.   Please let me know if there are any books that you are loving right now.  I would love to add them to my “to read list.”

Happy Reading!

Bitter Orange

This was a bit of a strange book for me.  It was highly rated.  In fact, it was NPR’s book of the year.  I was really looking forward to reading it, but it was weird.  The story begins with a lonely, somewhat homely girl named Frances who is invited to a depilated English manor to authenticate and catalog the gardens and bridge for an American investor.  While at the house, she meets Peter and Cara who are also at the manor to catalog its contents.  This becomes a strange love triangle between the three.  I will say, the author left the reader guessing which relationships were authentic and there was a great twist at the end.  While there were some redeeming factors, the story line and the characters really fell flat for me.  It was not my favorite book.

A Well Behaved Woman

I love reading about old rich families:  the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, the Flaglers and of course the Vanderbilts.  This book followed the adult life of Alva Smith whose well off Southern Family lost everything after the Civil War.  It was up to Alva to make a proper marriage so that he family could survive.  She sets her sights on William K Vanderbilt.  His family needed her family’s clout to enter New York Society and she frankly needed his money.  I really enjoyed this book. I loved learning how the Vanderbilts were innovators of New York architecture and high society.  Alva was a woman before her time.  She tirelessly worked to built a positive image for the Vanderbits even in a loveless marriage. If you love historical fiction and old New York, you will enjoy this book.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

This was another book that was a bit of a strange read.  The main character seemingly has everything:  she is beautiful, skinny, recent graduate of Columbia University.  She works a cushy job in an art gallery and lives in a doorman building on the Upper East Side.  She decides that the only thing that she truly enjoys about life is sleeping.  So she sets on a mission to quit her job and put her life on hold for a year to sleep.  I have to admit the beginning was a bit intriguing then I was like “get over it!” I could not understand why this girl wanted to sink herself into a drug induced coma. I found it very repetitive and I had zero sympathy for the main character but maybe that was the point. 

The Tuscan Child

This is the kind of novel that I love to read.  It had a wonderful storyline and compelling characters.  Part of the novel was set during World War II in Italy where an Englishman’s plane was shot down during the war and a local village girl both hides and saves the soldier that she finds badly wounded.  Fast forward 40 years.  The soldier’s daughter comes home for her father’s funeral and finds a box of treasures that leads her to the same village her father was stranded in during the war.  This is a lovely story that spans 2 generations. We follow the daughter’s quest to discover who her father really was. There is a little history, a little romance and a little intrigue.  It is a light easy read!

Night of Miracles

Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors so I was excited to read this book.  She did not disappoint.  Night of Miracles was a lovely story of friendship and hope.  Lucille, now in her 80s, begins teaching baking classes in her house.  While she is a beloved teacher, she realizes that she can’t manage everything herself.  Enters Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri.  Iris is looking for a place to start over after divorcing her husband and running into his new, very pregnant wife.  Add the little boy, Lincoln from across the street.  Lincoln’s mom has just been diagnosed with cancer and he begins to spend more and more time with Lucille.  This is a heartwarming story of second chances, love and the power of friendship.  It is a great read!

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