How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I wanted to love Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop and it begins promisingly, feeling like a love letter of a novel written to all book lovers. There’s even some name-dropping of intriguing books and authors that I marked to look into later (I’ve already added Jilly Cooper to my TBR list). However, for the most part How to Find Love in a Bookshop was a disappointment. It seemed like it took forever for anything to happen. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to root for because it took so long just to introduce each of the storylines. I think there were just too many. Personally, I would have been happy with a novel just about Thomasina.
The descriptions were wonderful making me wish I were in this pleasant Cotswolds village, spending the afternoons browsing around Nightingale Books but I wish more time had been spent developing the many relationships. I feel that that would have made the ending, which was somewhat predictable yet heart-warming, more satisfying.
If you enjoy this story of Emilia attempting to make sense of life after the death of her beloved (by so many people!) father, you may also enjoy Lori Nelson Spielman’s The Life List, a personal favorite of mine.
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Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death by M.C. Beaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I discovered the Agatha Raisin mystery series through the TV series that aired here on PBS. Like the show, the first book in M.C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series of mystery novels, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, is lighter on mystery than it is on the fun. Agatha is a flawed character who lends a bit of believability to what is essentially an entertaining romp through the Cotswolds. This kind of cozy mystery is the perfect read for these chilly winter nights. Just throw on a warm blanket and disappear into rural England.
Agatha’s new life is full of interesting and eccentric characters my favorite of which is Bill Wong. I look forward to getting know more about each of them as I read more the delightful series. I only wish I understood more of the particularly English elements in the story such as the unique accents and some of the pop culture and historical references.
If you enjoy cozy mysteries like Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death with its amateur sleuth and rural setting, I definitely recommend reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series of novels.
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It’s that time again! Time to review my reading for 2017. All in all, it’s been a pretty good year for me – bookwise at least – with far fewer low points than high points. I won’t dwell on any low points as I didn’t read anything so unbearable that I felt compelled to give it only one star or even a generous two. So I’ll mention some of the high points. I read so many great books this year that I’m finding it very difficult to narrow it down to just one favorite. Here are a few of the highlights:
- My first exposure to Liane Moriarty could not have gone better. Big Little Lies is both impulsively entertaining and thought-provoking. I can’t wait to read more of her work.
- The first book in Amy Stewart’s wonderful Kopp Sisters series, Girl Waits with Gun was my top read of 2016 and the third book in the series, Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions, which came out this fall, did not disappoint.
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is not in the running for top-read since this was my second reading of the first book in J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster series, but it was still a high point in my 2017 reading. It’s always nice to visit an old friend.
- Not only did I enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s My Not So Perfect Life but so did many others as it was one of the finalists for Goodreads.com’s books of the year.
- BBXX: Baby Blues: The First Two Decades became a welcome addition to my collection of comics anthology. Not only did I laugh out loud at Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott’s hilarious comic strips but I learned quite a bit about the behind-the-scenes of comic strip creation.
- Abbi Waxman’s debut novel, The Garden of Small Beginnings was one of the most hilarious and heartfelt novels I’d read in a long time. I loved it so much that I told all my reader friends that they had to read it. I don’t often do that.
- Kelly Harms’s The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane is The Garden of Small Beginnings main competition for top-read this year. They each had a wonderful sense of humor, a whole lot of heart, and lovable characters.
In the end, though, I think I’ll give the honor of top-read to The Garden of Small Beginnings simply because I want to spread the word about this delightful novel about a widow raising to precious and precocious little girls even further. Waxman’s second novel is coming out in 2018 and I hope that I’ll be sharing another wonderful review for her in the coming year.
For a comprehensive look back at all 50 of the books I read in 2017, click here:
Check out My 2017 Year in Books on Goodreads! And I wish you all happy reading in 2018. Happy New Year!
Source: Shelly’s Year in Books | Goodreads
Easily Amused by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
At its beginning Easily Amused shows some promise as an enjoyable chick-lit novel with a heroine I’ll admit I identified with at times, a familiar but likable plot, and several potentially lovable characters. However, the main character didn’t always stay true to herself, the author made some weak word choices and gave away the ending pretty early on when she described a male character using the title of the book (not to mention the naming of the main characters – Holmes, Watson, & Moriarty – pretty much told you how it was supposed to be), and the development of the central relationship felt forced. Perhaps if McQuestion had dedicated more scenes to Lola and the man she’s meant to be with, it would have felt more natural. While there are a lot of flaws with this, the story is still pretty enjoyable.
If you enjoy Easily Amused or if you like stories where the heroine finds true love right under her nose, I also recommend Allison Morgan’s delightful romance, Can I See You Again?
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“And in despair, I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”
I like this verse because it reminds us that when all seems hopeless and like there is no love left in the world, there is always hope and that we are part of making the world better. If we just try to bring about peace in our own part of the world and if we offer good-will to all, perhaps that hope can spread. Plus I really enjoy singing “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Peace and Good Will to all of you.