November books! This month I have one kind of mystery, one meaty good one, and two fun feel-good books for you to check out! (This post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.)
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
First Frost was a book about the women in a family. It focused mainly on two sisters and one of their teenage daughters. Each woman has her own issue she is grappling with, one wants a child and the other is unsure about her new business, and a gentleman comes into town trying to shake up the sisters a bit. They are able to work through their issues, which of course would have been easier if they had turned to each other sooner. The book felt comfortable, and the author really uses good sensory description that made me feel like I was wrapped up in a wonderful crisp fall day. This was hard to do because it had not been very cool around here while I was reading it! This is actually a sequel to one of Allen’s earlier books, but I didn’t realize it when I picked it up. I feel like it stood up on its own just fine. I love books like that, where you can read a book out of order and it is still a good story. Eventually I will find the first book and read that and it will feel like a prequel. Overall I would recommend it. It isn’t earth shaking or anything, but it is nice to read about normal people who really have just regular problems. It was a comforting book I liked turning to in a free moment.
Serena by Ron Rash
I read this book because I had seen previews for the movie. I like the stars (Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper), so I wanted to read the book. I did watch the movie after and have to say don’t even bother. I read the book and the movie didn’t make total sense to me. The book is so much better. Serena is an interesting character. It is 1929 and she marries a lumber tycoon and moves with him to the mountains to help oversee the business. Right away Serena establishes herself as not being like most ‘well bred’ women of the day. Her new husband fathered a child before they met, and that girl’s father confronts him when he comes back with Serena. A knife fight ensues and Serena’s husband ends up killing him. Serena is very cold about the whole thing, which sets the stage for how she is the entire book. She is a tough woman. She handles the rough timber life and men, leaving them respectful of her even if they don’t really like her. Eventually Serena and her husband try to have a child, but she ends up losing it. Even though she was determined and extremely focused on her goals, she is even more so after the death of her child. She resents the woman who had a child with her husband and eventually goes after them. We get to see the perspective of this young mother as she tries to keep her child safe, offering a much less cold blooded perspective to compare to. Overall Serena is ruthless and ambitious and I loved reading how far she would go for her goals. She does some questionable things, but they line up with her character so well you just accept them as par for the course. I admit in the beginning of the novel I respected how strong and clear she was in her aims, but her lack of humanity shows to be too much at the end. The book is great, skip the movie.
Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis
I loved this book. It was so fun! The main character starts the book by blowing way too much money on a picture perfect wedding the groom doesn’t even show up for. It of course rocks her world. She ends up moving in with her grandmother and working at a local bakery. The book is set in Chicago, which I always love. It is one of those great books full of food. The main character is a world class pastry chef, so food and baking are their own character. I love books with lots of food and recipe descriptions (the book even has recipes in the back!). While I admit I didn’t have a ton of sympathy for the debt portion of her story (her own fault for knowingly overspending on the wedding), I liked seeing her work through her feelings and find her footing in her career again. Oh, and there is a love story in there as well. It was just like a good pastry- tasty and fun to read.
Intrusion by Mary McCluskey
In this book Kat and her husband have recently lost their seventeen year old son. Kat is not taking it well (understandable). Her husband throws himself into work where he takes on a new client that happens to be an old school friend of Kat, Sarah. Kat and Sarah were good friends, but had a huge falling out due basically to Sarah sleeping with Kat’s boyfriend. Kat is willing to let her back into her life all these years later, and Sarah seems to be nice enough. Without giving away too much, Sarah seems to have a hidden vendetta. Overall I enjoyed the book well enough. I could understand Kat’s grieving and feeling lost. It was clear that Sarah was going to be a problem, but I felt like her reasoning could have used a bit more fleshing out. Or maybe it was enough and Sarah was just a bit petty. Either way it was a fun book to read. The ending felt a bit rushed, and honestly it isn’t as good as Gone Girl, which a review on the cover likened it to. I would say it is more of a day or two read, but not really something that will stick with you for long.
I’ve been reading a lot of just fun books for the past few months, easy things to get through the transition times. Anyone have any suggestions for something a bit deeper for a good read? I like pretty much all genres. Thanks!