For the Love of Books, Year in Review

Shelly’s Year in Books | 2018

It’s that time of year again, time to review my year of reading.  Honestly, it hasn’t been my best reading year.  I don’t want to complain about receiving free books and ARC editions but thanks to my discovery of NetGalley, reading started to feel like a chore.  And that’s never a good thing.  So I’m determined to cut down on the number of books I sign up for and focus more on the books on my own shelves.  Even though I wouldn’t count 2018 as the most enjoyable, any time spent reading is to be appreciated and there are always a few standouts books.

  • For instance?  Amy Stewart released another Kopp Sisters novel, the fourth in the series (and there’s another one on the way for 2019!), Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit.  and she makes my top reads list for the third year in a row.
  • This summer my ever reliable librarian friend introduced me to Louise Miller’s first novel,  The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living and when my library got her second novel,  The Late Bloomers’ Club, I read that one too.   I loved both books and they both make my list.Late Bloomer
  • I encountered a few disappointments from some of my favorite writers:  Neither Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Heroes Are My Weakness or Katie Fforde’s Love Letters were the authors’ best works.  Though I did enjoy Abbi Waxman’s Other People’s Houses it didn’t quite live up to the hilarity of last year’s top readThe Garden of Small Beginnings.  The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion, the author of my beloved Don Tillman series, was one of my least enjoyed books of the year, earning my only one-star review of the year.
  • Then again some well-loved writers equaled or Night of Miraclessurpassed themselves:  When I finally got around to reading the second book of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Dragonfly in Amber, I found everything that I loved about the first book along with a deeper relationship between Claire and Jamie.  My return to Jan Karon’s Mitford series was a joyous one with the short, sweet Christmas story, Shepherds Abiding.  Best of all was Elizabeth Berg’s Night of Miracleswhich contained the unique attention to detail and wisdom that I love about Berg’s writing along with a ton of heart and some lovable characters making it a front-runner for my top read
  • Another front-runner is Jon Cohen’s Harry’s Trees which celebrated two of my favorite things, books and nature, with an enormous amount of heart, a devilish sense of humor, and a dash of adventure.Harry's Trees
  • Finally, if awards were given out for best character, Polly from Kathy Hepinstall’s The Book of Polly would definitely get a nomination.

There are the highlights of my year.  I read some great books but there wasn’t even a competition for my favorite read this year.  I pretty much knew what it would be back in March.  Harry’s Trees is just so full of hope and love and a darn good story that I knew it was destined to be one of my favorites.  Since finishing it, I’ve recommended to everyone and even wrote it in for a Goodreads choice award.

These are just a few of the books I’ve read this year.  To see the full list and read the reviews, check out My 2018 Year in Books on Goodreads!

Source: Shelly’s Year in Books | Goodreads

Reviews, Woman's Fiction

Review: The Late Bloomers’ Club

The Late Bloomers' ClubThe Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller

My rating: 4.75 of 5 stars

It has been some months since I’ve read a novel that spoke to me as deeply as this one. As in her first novel, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, Louise Miller makes the small town Vermont setting come alive with her descriptive style.
The Late Bloomers’ Club isn’t all walks through ancient orchards or morning rushes at the Miss Guthrie Diner. It is a story about family, sacrifice, coming to terms with the past, and allowing yourself to see the beauty around you even when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut from which you’ll never emerge. It also has a sweet romance and some lovable, complex characters. And a few familiar faces from the earlier novel.  If I had one complaint, it would be that the happy and hopeful ending was a bit rushed. I very much enjoyed returning to Guthrie and finding a kindred spirit in Nora.

If you enjoy The Late Bloomers’ Club, definitely read Miller’s other novel, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, but I would also recommend one of my favorite reads from last year, The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane.

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Chick-Lit, Reviews, Romance

Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Baker's Guide to Country LivingThe City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a good foodie novel and Louise Miller’s The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is the sort of foodie novel that warms your heart like a wood fire in a little cottage – or an oven in a cozy kitchen. Olivia is a world-class baker whose life is currently a recipe for disaster. After a catastrophe at her job in Boston, she runs away to the open arms of her friend in the small rural Vermont town of Guthrie. When a job opportunity arises at the local B&B, Olivia feels like she has no other choice than to take it no matter how unwelcome the inn’s stern owner, Margaret, makes her feel.
It isn’t long before Vermont’s magic begins to work on Olivia’s heart, bringing back tender memories of her father. Her heart is also warmed by a connection with Martin, the son of Margaret’s best friend, and his family who welcomes her with open arms giving her the feeling of a family she never knew she was missing.
When it looks like her new found family will not welcome her as she’d imagined, Olivia does what she always does. She runs away. Once again she turns to baking, and it is baking and friendships that help her to find her way again.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a romance and Martin was pretty swoon-worthy, but it is Olivia’s journey of healing and the wonderful female friendships that carry this story. And the details that thrill the senses from the mouth-watering descriptions of Olivia’s bakes to the crispiness of the autumn leaves and the smell of the woodsmoke. Vermont is a character in this novel, leaving me to wish I’d read it in winter rather than the height of summer.

If you, like me, enjoy a good foodie novel with a touch of romance, please read Ruth Reichl’s only foray (so far?) into fiction, Delicious!which not only has food and romance but some history and lots of wonderful characters.

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