I haven’t been doing anything extracurricular except reading lately. It shows. I’ve now read 50 books for 2020 and it’s only July. Up until 2019 fifty was about how many books I read in a year. What was I reading? Here’s a list with a brief summary.
Just a quick note. If I read it, I liked it. I am a notorious book-abdandoner which is why the library and I are such good friends. You can check out all the books I’ve read so far this year on Goodreads,. I finally signed up for an account over there. All links are to the Goodreads page for the books.
On What Grounds, Through the Grinder, and Latte Trouble all by Cleo Coyle (a pen name for Alice Alfonsi). I always love a cozy mystery and I stumbled upon a recommendation for this series on Goodreads. I enjoyed the sixth one (French Pressed, I read it back in June) and I decided to go back to the beginning and see how things went. The three that I read were entertaining, quick reads, but by the second book I guessed the killer halfway through, and the third book, I knew who it was right away. It was fun while it lasted. I am going to see if I can find some more books from my library written by Charles Finch and Dianne Freeman, I have enjoyed their mysteries in the past.
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore This was an excellent book about the dial painters of the early twentieth century who were poisoned by painting a glowing radioactive paint on the front of watch faces. It is a horrific story. These women were ingesting radiation on the instruction of the company. Several years after their employment they began having medical difficulties. The companies not only denied them compensation, but also denied responsibility for the radiation poisoning. These women fought against these companies for years and only a handful of them were able to receive any compensation. I had a basic knowledge of the dial painters and their story, but I really knew nothing besides, dip, lip, and point.
Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator by Catherine Reef is a YA biography. Really, it was lucky it was so short, because I didn’t really enjoy this book. (which, I know, flies in the face of what I said earlier) I read this book mainly to see what the YA biography market looks like. I have several books lined up for the next few months on this research project. I couldn’t decide if it was that I didn’t like Mary Shelley or if it was the author. But, I returned it without recommending any of my kids read it. Unless you are really into Frankenstein or Gothic writers I would give this one a miss.
The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. This book was so good. I really recommend that you read it. It is a fun, lighthearted romance. A woman who has just left a toxic relationship decides to flatshare/bedshare with a man she’s never met. She has the flat at night, he works the night shift and has it during the day. For the first half of the book they communicate with post-it notes. I don’t know how this works, but it really does. It was one of my favorite books of the year.
Conclave by Robert Harris. Recommended by Dan and Kay of the Bakery Bears Podcast, I never would have picked this up if it wasn’t for them, but this was another great book. The pope is dead and the cardinals have been called to elect a new pope. They may be men of God, but there is scheming, intrigue, rivalry, and deception. The writing is superb. The ending was my least favorite part of the book, but it didn’t stop me from insisting that Mark read it.
A Desperate Fortune and The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley. I read them in that order, but they were written in the reverse order with The Winter Sea as the first book of the three, followed by Firebird, and then A Desperate Fortune. I am surprised that Firebird has the best reviews of the three, because it was my least favorite due to the modern-day story about psychic connection. It took me out of the narrative too much and I would have much preferred to skip the modern story for the 18th century Russian one. If you like historical fiction and you don’t mind a bit of romance you will love these books. Susanna Kearsley is one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend anything she writes.
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. I had this on my list of writing books to read, but then my friend Anna recommended that I read it next and I’m glad she did. I loved the early chapters and how real and honest she is about the writing process. I’m also glad that I bought this book so that I could have it as part of my writing library, I know I will be coming back to School Lunches and Crappy First Drafts again and again.
The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan. This was an interesting book. It was a compelling story. I stayed up late and totally ignored my kids to read it, but despite the interesting plot I didn’t really connect with the characters. They seemed too one dimensional or surface to me and I found it hard to identify with them. However, all that said I did enjoy it. It was a fun read.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What did you read in July? Please let me know, I’d love to talk about it.