On Becca’s Bookshelf // November & December 2015

Once again, this is another post I got ready before Forest arrived! Lots of good books in here. I’d love to know what you thought if you have read some of them as well!

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Recently Updated7 So it’s May, and springtime, and but summer is in the breeze… but for a moment, take yourself back to the cozy, holiday-rich evenings of November and December. Is there anything more delightful than curling up with a good book at the end of a long day, or of reading before a fire after a cold walk? (Yes, we get cold walks in southern California, too!) Almost makes me miss those days, so full of good books!

A lot of these books, though, would make amazing summer beach reads, and many of them are still fresh off the press. In fact, the “hold” list at your library might have just died down on a few of them, so you can go pick them up right away without a long wait. Read on for some good book recommendations.

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THE REAL THING by Ellen McCarthy — I didn’t expect to enjoy this one so much! It’s a memoir written by The Washington Post’s weddings reporter, and it covers the things she’s learned, some of her favorite anecdotes, a lot of good relationship advice — and the story of how she found her own love of her life. I laughed out loud and learned a lot, too. This would be a wonderful gift for a sister or friend who’s getting married. — 4 stars

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A YEAR IN PROVENCE by Peter Mayle Hilarious and beautiful, this is a lovely memoir of an English couple’s first year of life in Provence… with food, fix-it men, and foibles galore. It reminded me so much of our life in Sicily with the stories and cultural expectations, and it took me back to our little yellow house on the cliff for a couple of weeks. — 4 stars

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PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks The plot flips back and forth between modern day and past history as the reader slowly learns the story and journey of an old Jewish book through the centuries in Europe. I enjoyed the story, but I didn’t connect with it as deeply as I did with Year of Wonders. Highly recommended for history buffs and book lovers, though. — 3 stars

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THE KNOCKOFF by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza — Similar theme to A Window Opens about being nudged out of your own career due to age and technology, and finding a new place for yourself in tried-and-true yet changing industries. Fun even if you’re not much of a fashionista, and definitely an easy and entertaining read. Doesn’t have much enduring quality, and really far-fetched, but still a satisfying story in the end. — 3 stars

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THE LAKE HOUSE by Kate Morton — So good! Couldn’t put it down, and it’s a big novel. The three overlapping mysteries are fascinating and touching, filled with surprises and plot twists. Still not as dazzling as The Secret Keeper, but this is probably my second-favorite of her novels now. — 4 stars

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THE GIRL FROM FOREIGN by Sadia Shepherd — The author is the daughter of a white Protestant from Colorado and a Muslim from Pakistan, and then she discovers her beloved grandmother is a descendant of the Bene Israel, a tiny Jewish community shipwrecked in India two thousand years ago. Shaken and inspired, she travels to India to uncover the secrets of her family’s past. I loved the cultural connections, but became bogged down in the details and emotions. Recommended for third culture kids! — 3 stars

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CAREER OF EVIL by Robert Galbraith I inhale these novels whenever they come out… and when I couldn’t finish the library’s copy in two days before we left for vacation, I ordered it on Amazon because I couldn’t wait to finish it! This one is violent again, and her first Cormoran Strike novel might still be my favorite, but the brilliant, full-bodied main characters keep me coming back for more no matter what mystery they must solve. — 4 stars

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EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES by Laura Dave — This one seemed so promising: a love story based around a family vineyard. Georgia Ford is used to secrets, but then she discovers her fiance has been keeping a devastating secret from her. Returning to her family’s Sonoma vineyard offers little relief, though, when she learns of all the hidden secrets kept there as well. I was disappointed with the writing style, and I found it hard to connect with the main character herself. — 2 stars

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THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum Fascinating to read the true, original story! So much is similar to the movie, but a lot took us by surprise. Lena and I both really enjoyed it. L. Frank Baum wrote much of the Wizard of Oz series in Coronado (“the emerald city”), so it was especially magical to read this book here. — 4 stars

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A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan — If you enjoyed Whereโ€™d You Go, Bernadette?, this is a good one. The main character is Alice Pearce, a mother and part-time editor who decides to take on a full-time job when her husband makes a career change. She lands a job at Scroll, which promises to be the future of reading. When her life and work take several unexpected turns, though, Alice has to make some hard decisions about what she really wants.3 stars

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AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Brilliantly written; it sucked me in from page one. I loved the vivid portrayals of characters in a world that is so foreign to me, and the taste of a culture that is so human and yet so unknown. The characters are not perfect beings, so I was left somewhat disappointed in the end, but perhaps that is how it should be — and, to her credit, I think the author was true to her characters. — 4 stars

*****

Some good, some not so good, but all entertaining. Have you read any of these? Any new book recommendations for this summer, or a new mama with some nursing + reading sessions on her hands?

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3 Responses to On Becca’s Bookshelf // November & December 2015

  1. Julie May 25, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    I loved the cormorant strike series as well! Fabulous on audio! I just finished Lab Girl which was terrific. Also loved Catastrophic Happiness by Catherine Newman, Year of Yes by Shinda Rhimes, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I didn’t expect to love Being Mortal but it was terrific on audio as well. I wrote a couple of posts on my reads for 2016 so far and how I am finding more time to read. Blog is: nursebeansews.wordpress.com and the posts all start with the words: Nursebean Reads. Enjoy your beautiful family!

  2. Poppy May 25, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    Oh, to own sweet weeks of time
    Assuming summer as my date;
    Exploring nooks,
    Found in these books,
    (I’ll be home, but very late.)

  3. Tiffany May 27, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

    I recently read (and was pleasantly surprised by) The Wizard of Oz too. So cool to know he wrote it there!

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