What in the world? A ridiculous number of books read this month. Of course it was also a month of travel, houseguests, and lots of large groups of people—all of which send me reading into the late hours of the night to de-stress! Of course a few of these are writing or research books, which you likely won’t be as interested in, so I’ll list those at the end. But the novels this month were pretty wonderful. So let’s go!
The Eye of the Cat by Deanna Julie Dodson
I loved the out-of-the ordinary history in this Secrets from Grandma’s Attic book. Amy, Tracy, and Robin have their hands full with a family wedding and an ancient Egyptian statue several people seem keen to get their hands on! A very fun addition to the series.
In Her Sights by Karen Witemeyer
A fun little novella to start off the Pink Pistol series Karen is doing with her blog mates. Annie Oakley might sing “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun,” but this book might prove differently! Great story to introduce the pink pistol and its history. And of course a delightful romance, too!
A Time to Love by Tracy Higley
This is the 3rd and final book in the Time Travel Journals of Sahara Aldridge series. The first two books gave us non-stop action and new revelations for Sahara and Jack, but this final book upped the ante! A wild conclusion to the series—and a very satisfying one. I always learn so much ancient history in Tracy’s books too.
The Brick House Cafe by Carla Laureano
A novella to open her new Haven Ridge series. A very sweet story that makes me want to return to Haven Ridge, Colorado and its quirky residents.
Millstone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch
The second of the Thorndike and Swann Regency mysteries did not disappoint. I love how each book has a mystery that is solved but an ongoing, more personal mystery that continues. Book 2 gave some answers but also raised more questions! Already looking forward to book 3!
Jonas by Susan May Warren
Those Minnesota Marshalls are just as exciting as the other branch of their family! But Jonas—oh how I loved this weatherman/storm chaser. And he thought he was the brother that didn’t get sucked into international intrigue! And of course it set up Ned’s books to come in May!
Return to Sattherwaite Court by Mimi Matthews
I don’t know how she does it—how she writes such a compelling story. Every. Single. Time. If you’ve read The Work of Art and Gentleman Jim, you will know the parents of the hero and heroine of this book. If you don’t remember those stories, read them again first! I finally caught up my remembrance but wished I’d read them all three back-to-back. And then the final book out later this year! Yippee!
When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner
I adore historical fiction that reveals historical fact I didn’t know. And this one has that in spades! Three young woman, all nurses, caught in the Japanese invasion of the Philippines during World War II. I had no idea. No idea of the whole situation, nor of the fact that these were the first women prisoners of war in US history. The authors did a great job with weaving history into fictional character arcs. This book will stay with me for a very long time.
A Girl Called Samson by Amy Harmon
Yet another piece of fascinating, unknown-to-me history. A woman, Deborah Samson, who dressed as a man and joined the Continental Army. And I love when I read the notes at the end of the book and realize that things I thought had to be fiction were actually in the historical record. And I love how she created a fictional story arc to make a great novel while using so much of what really happened. Loved this book.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
This was my first every audiobook to listen to—and I love dit. Of course, I love Anne of Green Gables, so that helped. And I listened to it with my husband, which was also wonderful. But what I really enjoyed was that I interacted with the story in a whole new way. If you are on Audible, check out this version narrated by Rachel McAdams.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
I chose to do another audiobook since we were traveling. I decided listening to a book on the plane would be less stressful than reading a book or even my kindle. Nothing to hold, no bumping elbows with the stranger beside me, no pain in my neck from looking down. So I scoured the library app in search of a book that met three criteria: 1) available immediately, 2) a book I’d heard of, and 3) a decent narrator. I found this one, which I had picked up from a library sale but hadn’t yet read. Not only was it available, it was narrated by Tom Hanks! I confess, for a long while I wasn’t sure where the story was going, but I couldn’t stop listening. I had to know what happened to these characters as they processed their past, especially in relation to The Dutch House. I think I was more patient with the story listening than I would have been reading. And the ending was satisfying, which made me happy—because the only other Ann Patchett book I’ve read, I hated the end!
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
I read this book in college—and hated it. I listened to it read by Kenneth Branagh and . . . I didn’t hate it as much as I did the first time. Part of that is that it is a dense read, so listening to it made me slow down enough to understand more what he was saying. Also, 30+ years of living made one of the central themes resonate with me—that our hearts, left to themselves, are full of darkness. It helped to, afterward, read Karen Swallow Prior’s introduction to the work in her annotated version of the book. It put a lot of the story in historical and philosophical context as well as confirmed how the book made me feel in a spiritual sense. Not a book to pick up for light or happy reading, for sure. But as a three hour audiobook, I’m glad I dove back into it again just to see better what it was all about.
Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas
I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and never read it. And I do love reading a good “craft of writing” book. This one was very insightful—and helpful as I think through story ideas.
Willie, A Girl from a Town Called Dallas by Willie Newbury Lewis
I first heard of this book when we toured The Aldredge House on Swiss Avenue in Dallas. And I knew I had to have it! Willie Newbury grew up in Dallas at the turn of the 20th century. She married a Texas Panhandle rancher, but they also maintained a residence in Dallas, where she lived most. Written when she was in her 90s, its a fascinating remembrance of days when Dallas was a town instead of a city, when money began to flow in from both cattle ranchers and oil men. I love all her details of what life was like in those days in a woman’s sphere. Quite enlightening on many levels.
Patrick Ferguson: ‘A Man of Some Genius’ by M. M. Gilchrist
What a fascinating read! I found this little book in our favorite used bookstore in Savannah. It is about a Scotsman, Patrick Ferguson, who was in the British regulars during the American Revolution. I have never read a piece of history about the American Revolution from the British perspective. It was quite interesting. Patrick Ferguson was killed in the war, but left behind many letters to family and to military superiors. I love when a life from the past can be understood through the person’s own words. So glad I “happened” upon this book!
Whew! Lots of reading–and listening! What will May bring?
What did you read this month that you loved?