2021 Reading

 


*************************************************
Title: Miracle Creek
Author: Angie Kim
Length14 hrs and 5 mins / 355 p
Published: April 2019
Book Group: School
Finished: 1/1
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I wasn't so sure about this--but about a third of the way, I couldn't stop listening!  A few times, I knew I would have skimmed some of the slow parts and descriptions but overall this was a solid debut novel.  It's a story about family and secrets.  I learned a lot about parenting special needs children.  The courtroom aspects were nicely done.

From the publisher:
How far will you go to protect your family? Will you keep their secrets? Ignore their lies?

In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.

A powerful showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Chapter by chapter, we shift alliances and gather evidence: Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?


*************************************************
Title: The Duke and I: Bridgerton (Bridgertons #1)
Author: Julia Quinn
Length12 hrs and 9 mins / 464 pp
Published: January 2000
Book Group: no
Finished: 1/2
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

I wanted to read this before watching the Netflix series.  It was delightful! I forgot how much I enjoy the Regency rules and lifestyle.  And I admit, I was hooked on Regency romances when I was in middle school.

From the publisher:
In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule...


*************************************************
Title: The Once and Future Witches
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Length16 hrs and 3 mins / 528 pp
Published: October 2020
Book Group: no
Finished: 1/7
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 
Not my usual genre, but the buzz about it drew me to it--as did the gorgeous cover!  I liked the relationships between the sisters and that each sister was distinct.  But the book lagged in places and could have been about 200 pages shorter and less repetitive.

From the publisher:
In 1893, there's no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters -- James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna -- join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women's movement into the witch's movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote -- and perhaps not even to live -- the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There's no such thing as witches. But there will be.

An homage to the indomitable power and persistence of women, The Once and Future Witches reimagines stories of revolution, sapphic love, motherhood, and women's suffrage--the lost ways are calling.

*************************************************
TitleThe Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons #2)
Author: Julia Quinn
Length12 hrs and 23 mins / 354 pp
Published: December 2000
Book Group: no
Finished: 1/16
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This second installment of the Bridgerton series was as much fun as the first.  It's like visiting old friends.

From the publisher:
1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry.
And in truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...
—Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, 
April 1814

But this time, the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry—he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...

Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do not make the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...


*************************************************
Title: Eliza Starts A Rumor
Author: Jane L. Rosen
Length8 hrs and 50 mins / 320 pp
Published: June 2000
Book Group: no
Finished: 1/18
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 I didn't expect this book to be so timely and meaty.  I was prepared for a light chick-lit.  There are themes of mental illness, sexual abuse, infidelity, counter-balanced by friendship, family, and finding one's voice.  And it reminded me of my days on AOL's message boards.  Are message boards still a thing??

From the publisher:
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. When Eliza Hunt created The Hudson Valley Ladies’ Bulletin Board fifteen years ago she was happily entrenched in her picture-perfect suburban life with her husband and twin preschoolers. Now, with an empty nest and a crippling case of agoraphobia, the once-fun hobby has become her lifeline. So when a rival parenting forum threatens the site’s existence, she doesn’t think twice before fabricating a salacious rumor to spark things up a bit.

It doesn’t take long before that spark becomes a flame.

Across town, new mom and site devotee Olivia York is thrown into a tailspin by what she reads on the Bulletin Board. Allison Le is making cyber friends with a woman who isn’t quite who she says she is. And Amanda Cole, Eliza’s childhood friend, may just hold the key to unearthing why Eliza can’t step out of her front door.

In all this chaos, one thing is for sure…Hudson Valley will never be the same.

Funny, romantic, raw, and hopeful, this is a story about being a woman and of the healing power of sisterhood.


*************************************************
Title: An Offer From A Gentleman (Bridgertons #3)
Author: Julia Quinn
Length12 hrs and 22 mins / 421 pp
Published: July 2001
Book Group: no
Finished: 1/25
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This installment of the Bridgerton story was lots of fun.  The heroine is relegated to the role of lady's maid by her evil stepmother--so the disparity of their social classes was fun to explore.  Can't wait for more.  There were a couple of times that I chuckled out loud.

From the publisher:
Sophie Beckett never dreamed she'd be able to sneak into Lady Bridgerton's famed masquerade ball—or that "Prince Charming" would be waiting there for her! Though the daughter of an earl, Sophie has been relegated to the role of servant by her disdainful stepmother. But now, spinning in the strong arms of the debonair and devastatingly handsome Benedict Bridgerton, she feels like royalty. Alas, she knows all enchantments must end when the clock strikes midnight.
Who was that extraordinary woman? Ever since that magical night, a radiant vision in silver has blinded Benedict to the attractions of any other—except, perhaps, this alluring and oddly familiar beauty dressed in housemaid's garb whom he feels compelled to rescue from a most disagreeable situation. He has sworn to find and wed his mystery miss, but this breathtaking maid makes him weak with wanting her. Yet, if he offers her his heart, will Benedict sacrifice his only chance for a fairy tale love?

*************************************************

Title: Anxious People
Author: Fredrik Backman
Length:  9 hrs and 53 mins/ 352 p
Published: September 2020
Book Group: Library
Finished: 1/31
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 I'm going to repost the original review since I wouldn't change a thing about it--other than to add that this time I listened to it and it was quite a different experience.  It amazes me how the story comes to life in my imagination as I am reading it or listening to it--so different! My library book group will be discussing this on Wednesday and I can't wait!

The original review was posted 9/20/2020
 Oh man, I wish one of my friends would read this so I could talk about it with them!  So many wonderfully quicky, fleshed-out characters.  Such a premise.  Lots of quick chapters that made it easy and quick to read.  I couldn't put it down.  I loved it.

The action begins with a bank robbery that isn't really a bank robbery followed by a hostage situation that really isn't one.  It connects the characters in ways that are unexpected.

From the publisher:
Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers begin slowly opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

First is Zara, a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else until tragedy changed her life. Now, she’s obsessed with visiting open houses to see how ordinary people live—and, perhaps, to set an old wrong to right. Then there’s Roger and Anna-Lena, an Ikea-addicted retired couple who are on a never-ending hunt for fixer-uppers to hide the fact that they don’t know how to fix their own failing marriage. Julia and Ro are a young lesbian couple and soon-to-be parents who are nervous about their chances for a successful life together since they can’t agree on anything. And there’s Estelle, an eighty-year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by a masked bank robber waving a gun in her face. And despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn’t really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn’t outside parking the car.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.


 *************************************************
Title: Romancing Mr. Bridgerton (Bridgertons #4)
Author: Julia Quinn
Length13 hrs and 17 mins / 370 pp
Published: July 2002
Book Group: no
Finished: 2/05
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The fourth installment felt like going home--spending time with family and friends.  This is an enchanting couple.  Looking forward to more!

From the publisher:
Everyone knows that Colin Bridgerton is the most charming man in London. Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend's brother for...well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret...and fears she doesn't know him at all.

Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone's preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can't seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same - especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide...is she his biggest threat - or his promise of a happy ending?



 *************************************************
Title: To Sir Phillip, With Love (Bridgertons #5)
Author: Julia Quinn
Length10 hrs and 26 mins / 370 pp
Published: July 2003
Book Group: no
Finished: 2/14
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 
Although I missed Lady Whistledown, Eloise Bridgerton's prolific letter writing introduces each chapter, giving us a background glimpse of her insights.  This one seemed more serious than the previous books in the series--although, it's still light fare.

From the publisher:
Sir Phillip knew from his correspondence with his dead wife's distant cousin that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he'd proposed, figuring that she'd be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn't. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her...

Eloise Bridgerton couldn't marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking... and wondering... and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except... he wasn't. Her perfect husband wouldn't be so moody and ill-mannered. And he certainly should have mentioned that he had two young - and decidedly unruly - children, as much in need of a mother as Phillip is in need of a wife.


*************************************************
Title: Leave The World Behind
Author: Rumaan Alam
Length7 hrs and 26 mins / 241 pp
Published: October 2020
Book Group: no
Finished: 2/15
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 
A character study during a crisis.  I liked that there are unanswered questions--it was provocative. 

From the publisher:
Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? 

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis. 



*************************************************
Title: Home Front
Author: Kristin Hannah
Length: 15 hrs and 5 mins / 390 pp
Published: January 2012
Book Group: no
Finished: 2/18
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 
A thoughtful character study of family and friendship, duty and honor, and love.  The characters are flawed and human.

From the publisher:
From a distance, Michael and Joleen Zarkades seem to have it all: a solid marriage, two exciting careers, and children they adore.  But after twelve years together, the couple has lost their way; they are unhappy and edging toward divorce.  Then the Iraq war starts.  An unexpected deployment will tear their already fragile family apart, sending one of them deep into harm’s way and leaving the other at home, waiting for news.   When the worst happens, each must face their darkest fear and fight for the future of their family.  An intimate look at the inner landscape of a disintegrating marriage and a dramatic exploration of the price of war on a single American family, Kristin Hannah's HOME FRONT is a provocative and timely portrait of hope, honor, loss, forgiveness, and the elusive nature of love.





*************************************************
Title: The Push
Author: Ashley Audrain
Length8 hrs and 38 mins / 320 pp
Published: January 2021
Book Group: no
Finished: 2/19
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I liked the narrative style of this book--a recounting of the anxiety of new motherhood and the imposter syndrome so many women experience.  The characters' change over time is subtle and realistic.  For a debut novel, it was a thrilling character study that left me wondering how reliable Blythe, the narrator, really is.

From the publisher:
Blythe Connor is determined that she will be the warm, comforting mother to her new baby Violet that she herself never had.

But in the thick of motherhood’s exhausting early days, Blythe becomes convinced that something is wrong with her daughter–she doesn’t behave like most children do.

Or is it all in Blythe’s head? Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining things. The more Fox dismisses her fears, the more Blythe begins to question her own sanity, and the more we begin to question what Blythe is telling us about her life as well.

Then their son Sam is born–and with him, Blythe has the blissful connection she’d always imagined with her child. Even Violet seems to love her little brother. But when life as they know it is changed in an instant, the devastating fall-out forces Blythe to face the truth.

The Push is a tour de force you will read in a sitting, an utterly immersive novel that will challenge everything you think you know about motherhood, about what we owe our children, and what it feels like when women are not believed.




*************************************************
Title: Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married
Author: Gary Chapman
Length: 3 hrs and 44 mins / 200 pp
Published: September 2010
Book Group: no
Finished: 2/20
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I'm actually more interested in The Five Love Languages but this was available at the library first so I thought I would give it a read.  It includes some great discussion questions, too bad I don't have a romantic partner to discuss them with!

From the publisher: With more than 35 years of experience counseling couples, Gary has found that most marriages suffer due to a lack of preparation and a failure to learn to work together as intimate teammates.

So he put together this practical little book, packed with wisdom and tips that will help many develop the loving, supportive, and mutually beneficial marriage they envision, such as:

What the adequate foundation for a successful marriage truly is What to expect about the roles and influence of extended family How to solve disagreements without arguing How to talk through issues like money, sex, chores, and more Why couples must learn how to apologize and forgive

Ideal for newly married couples and those considering marriage, the material lends itself to heart-felt, revealing, and critical conversations for relational success.

Read this book and you’ll be prepared for—not surprised by—the challenges of marriage.



*************************************************

Title: The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding
Author: Jennifer Robson
Length:  11 hrs and 38 mins/ 388 p
Published: December 2018
Book Group: Library
Finished: 2/23
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 
Historical fiction with a dual timeline narrated by three characters.  The story centers on the fictionalized women who embroidered Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown as she married during the difficult years following World War II.  There is a lot of detail about the struggle to return to normalcy after the war.  And a lot of detail about the work that went into the royal wedding gown.  The other narrative thread is 2016 when the granddaughter of one of the embroiderers is looking into her grandmother's part in the making of the gown.  I loved the friendships.  I loved the excitement of the royal wedding.  

From the publisher: 
From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”
—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.




*************************************************

Title: The Four Winds
Author: Kristin Hannah
Length:  15 hrs and 2 mins/ 464 p
Published: February 2021
Book Group: no
Finished: 3/2
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I think this would be a great book group book.  Elsa, the main character is compelling and complex.  And the exploration of the American Dream really made me think.  How is the American Dream evolving in today's world?  The themes and elements of this book stood out for me in the context of the isolation from Covid-19 (and fear of the spread of it), and the focus on immigration and migration, and of feminism, and environmentalism--wow!  I will admit there were sections that dragged on a bit.  But overall this is a book that will stick with me.

From the publisher:
Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.




*************************************************
TitleThe Friend Zone
Author: Abby Jimenez
Length: 9 hrs and 32 mins / 384 pp
Published: June 2019
Book Group: no
Finished: 3/10
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Although it seems like a fluffy rom-com, there are several serious themes.  But the Friend Zone is really about all the different friendships and relationships we have.  I'm impressed that it's a debut novel, it's sophisticated and well-written.  I loved the friendships between Kristen and Sloane and Josh with Brandon.  Kristen is a lot of fun when she is sassy and witty.  And I need a Josh in my life.

From the publisher:
Kristen Peterson doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen -- especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.






*************************************************
Title: The Chicken Sisters
Author: KJ Dell'Antonia
Length12 hrs and 23 mins / 352 pp
Published: December 2020
Book Group: Library
Finished: 3/20
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I am conflicted about this book.  The premise is fun and funny but the book isn't fun and funny.  At least I didn't think it was.  Told from a dual narrative of the sisters, Mae and Amanda, the author does capture the differences in the sisters' lives and characters.  But neither was very likable.  I did enjoy the behind-the-scenes look at reality television.  And I did like the book but I didn't love it.  It seemed repetitive. I liked the ending.

From the publisher:
Three generations. Two chicken shacks. One recipe for disaster.

In tiny Merinac, Kansas, Chicken Mimi's and Chicken Frannie's have spent a century vying to serve up the best fried chicken in the state--and the legendary feud between their respective owners, the Moores and the Pogociellos, has lasted just as long. No one feels the impact more than thirty-five-year-old widow Amanda Moore, who grew up working for her mom at Mimi's before scandalously marrying Frank Pogociello and changing sides to work at Frannie's. Tired of being caught in the middle, Amanda sends an SOS to Food Wars, the reality TV restaurant competition that promises $100,000 to the winner. But in doing so, she launches both families out of the frying pan and directly into the fire. . .

The last thing Brooklyn-based organizational guru Mae Moore, Amanda's sister, wants is to go home to Kansas. But when her career implodes, helping the fading Mimi's look good on Food Wars becomes Mae's best chance to reclaim the limelight--even if doing so pits her against Amanda and Frannie's. Yet when family secrets become public knowledge, the sisters must choose: Will they fight with each other, or for their heritage?




*************************************************

Title: The Thursday Murder Club
Author: Richard Osman
Length:  12 hrs and 56 mins/ 377 p
Published: September 2020
Book Group: no
Finished: 3/23
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the first of a promising new series.  I love books about senior citizens who are lively.  This bunch certainly are!  I can't wait to read more.  The mystery was well-paced with just enough red herrings to keep me guessing.

From the publisher:
Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves
A female cop with her first big case
A brutal murder
Welcome to…
THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB


In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club.

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late?




*************************************************
Title: My Lovely Wife
Author: Samantha Downing
Length10 hrs and 13 mins / 390 pp
Published: March 2019
Book Group: no
Finished: 3/27
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

What a twisty, creepy book!  I couldn't stop listening to it.  It was a definite binge listen and would have been a binge read.  It's twisty.  Never knowing who the villain is was part of the fun of this book.  The element of how unintended consequences reverberate through the family as well as the larger community was woven throughout.  The unnamed narrator's fascination with his lovely wife, Millicent, makes their relationship almost enviable.

From the publisher:
A couple's fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting...

Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored.

We look like a normal couple. We're your neighbors, the parents of your kid's friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive.

Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

 


*************************************************
Title: The Bounty (Fox and O'Hare #7)
Author: Janet Evanovich and Steve Hamilton
Length7 hrs and 54 mins / 320 p
Published: March 2021
Book Group: no
Finished: 3/31
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Full of clever dialog but a bit too heavy on the implausible action.  The secondary characters were fun, as usual.

From the publisher:
FBI agent Kate O’Hare and charming con man Nick Fox race against time to uncover a buried train filled with Nazi gold.

Straight as an arrow special agent Kate O’Hare and international con man Nick Fox have brought down some of the biggest criminals out there. But now they face their most dangerous foe yet—a vast, shadowy international organization known only as the Brotherhood.

Directly descended from the Vatican Bank priests who served Hitler during World War II, the Brotherhood is on a frantic search for a lost train loaded with $30 billion in Nazi gold, untouched for over seventy-five years somewhere in the mountains of Eastern Europe.

Kate and Nick know that there is only one man who can find the fortune and bring down the Brotherhood—the same man who taught Nick everything he knows—his father, Quentin. As the stakes get higher, they must also rely on Kate’s own father, Jake, who shares his daughter’s grit and stubbornness. Too bad they can never agree on anything.

From a remote monastery in the Swiss Alps to the lawless desert of the Western Sahara, Kate, Nick, and the two men who made them who they are today must crisscross the world in a desperate scramble to stop their deadliest foe in the biggest adventure of their lives.


*************************************************
Title: One by One
Author: Ruth Ware
Length: 13 hrs and 8 mins / 384 pp
Published: November 2020
Book Group: no
Finished: 4/4
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This book is a lot like Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  It's a locked-door mystery set in a luxury ski chalet in the French Alps.  Locked in are the executive team from a tech start-up music streaming type of service.  The author did a great job of creating a claustrophobic setting.  The narration shifted between characters and I liked the intro to each chapter including the user stats of the app.

From the publisher:
Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?




*************************************************
Title: Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat In Difficult Times
Author: Katherine May
Length6 hrs and 54 mins / 255 pp
Published: November 2020
Book Group: no
Finished: 4/091
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
 
I will never be friends with winter.  But I have a new appreciation for the season--what a lovely book.

From the publisher:
Sometimes you slip through the cracks: unforeseen circumstances like an abrupt illness, the death of a loved one, a break up, or a job loss can derail a life. These periods of dislocation can be lonely and unexpected. For May, her husband fell ill, her son stopped attending school, and her own medical issues led her to leave a demanding job. Wintering explores how she not only endured this painful time, but embraced the singular opportunities it offered.

A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May's story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.

Ultimately Wintering invites us to change how we relate to our own fallow times. May models an active acceptance of sadness and finds nourishment in deep retreat, joy in the hushed beauty of winter, and encouragement in understanding life as cyclical, not linear. A secular mystic, May forms a guiding philosophy for transforming the hardships that arise before the ushering in of a new season.


*************************************************
Title: When He Was Wicked (Bridgertons #6)
Author: Julia Quinn
Length11 hrs and 29 mins / 368 pp
Published: June 2004
Book Group: no
Finished: 4/14
My Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The correspondence that introduced each chapter was fun--they are prolific letter writers!  This was more of a bodice ripper than the previous books.  And that got boring if I'm being totally honest.  I wanted more witty dialog!
From the publisher:
In every life there is a turning point.
A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one's life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London's most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.
After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer -- the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.
But that was then . . . Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love . . . until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets . . . 

*************************************************
Title: The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon, #1)
Author: Daniel Silva
Length: 11 hrs and  35 mins / 501 pp
Published: April 2006
Book Group: no
Finished: 4/19
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I had high hopes for this one but... meh.  It's the first of a series and I haven't decided if I'll read more.

From the publisher: 
Gabriel Allon had a simple but brutal job: he tracked down and eliminated Israel's terrorist enemies. But when his wife and son fell victim to the danger that accompanied him everywhere, Gabriel quit and devoted himself to the work of art restoration, an occupation that had previously been a cover for his secret assignments. Now Ari Shamron, the head of Israeli intelligence, needs Gabriel's particular kind of experience to thwart a Palestinian plot to destroy the peace negotiations in the Middle East. The architect of this plot, a Palestinian zealot named Tariq, is a lethal part of Gabriel's past, so as the two begin an intercontinental game of hide-and-seek, with life and death as the prizes, the motives are as personal as they are political.
The story features a vivid and fascinating supporting cast, including the magus-like Ari Shamron, a beautiful French Jewish model who is seeking retribution for her family's death in the Holocaust, and a marvelously comic down-at-the-heels London art dealer. Set these colorful and varied characters against a brilliant background of political intrigue and vengeance at the highest levels and a manhunt that covers three continents, and the result is a smart and electrically exciting global thriller.