Book Reviews: The ones with all the comfort and cheese.

It hasn’t been the red-letteringest day in reading for me. I’ve only puttered through a few books, and those I did get through haven’t been what I’d consider top shelf reads. Still, some weeks are like that, I suppose. Especially when current events are what they are and you feel like you need a lot of comfort food just to make it through. I’ve been going through this phase where I can’t read enough romance novels. Bodice-ripping, dumb-as-dirt romances. Talk about hiding in the middle of a world where you can forget all your worries!

One for the Money, by Janet Evanovich (1994, 320 pages, ebook). Don’t you hate when books were published so long ago that you have a hard time turning up any decent publishing information? I mean, am I missing the obvious? Was I absent the day they taught that real-world know-how in school? In any case, yes, I’ve finally joined the Evanovich picnic. I made a trade with a new friend, in which I promised to read this in exchange for her reading the Flavia de Luce mystery. I have to say, my lollipop seems a bit fuzzy – the writing wasn’t that crisp, the plot a bit stale, and the characters a bit muddled. Much more of a book I would have preferred to borrow, rather than buy, except for promises made. I suppose when you’re raised on Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, every other mystery seems a bit lacking, but this one went out of its way to be average. It’s like the Bridget Jones of the mystery world. Plain, ordinary, and appeals to everyone else a lot more than it does me. Lord, how I’ve spoiled myself. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.

Hardworking Man, by Gina Ferris (1993, Silhouette, 283 pages, paperback). Here’s where I’m going to contradict myself, because even though the writing left a lot to be desired in this book, I still enjoyed it far more than I maybe should have. It’s the second in the “Family Found” series – seven brothers and sisters who were separated as children, and reconnected one book at a time. This isn’t the strongest of the series, and the heroine – detective Cassie Browning – was far too quick to cry and weep when being touted as strong and tough. But even a neat-and-tidy romance with character flaws is better than real-world politics right now, so it was a winner for me. 3 of 5 stars.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008, Dial Press, 274 pages, ebook). I accidentally read this. Yes, okay, how does that happen, you ask? Because it was the Deal of the Day and so I bought it in case I needed it as an option, and then I read just the “first few” letters, and, well…I couldn’t stop. So I did a quick re-read and I loved it just as much as I ever have. Sad things that happen still almost move me to tears, and I still remember when one particularly frustrating plot point made me beat my book against the steering wheel of the car the first time I read the book over several lunch breaks. Juliet Ashton – writer and war correspondent who enjoys a bit of fame from covering World War II adventures in London – happens into post-war correspondence of a different nature with Guernsey neighbors who happen to make up the titular society. Her unfolding friendships with the Potato Peel Pie Society still delight me, and none more than Kit. How is it that we’re made to care so much for a child who never gets to utter a single sentence? I try to puzzle it out every single time. Maybe that’s why I end up “accidentally” re-reading it so many times. I think I’m pushing 20 by now… 5 of 5 stars.

Moonglow, by Michael Chabon (2016, Harper, 430 pages, eloan). I read this for the Tournament of Books, against my will. I’m not a Chabon fan. His style doesn’t offend, I don’t get worked up and advocate against any of his books; I just don’t care for them. And there are so many stories to read, I just can’t see taking up any time with ones we know aren’t going to move us. Obviously, an exception was made so I could follow along with the TOB debate with a fully informed opinion. And I have to say – of all the Chabons I’ve read, this one might be my favorite. It helps that the premise itself is charming: Chabon traveled to visit his dying grandfather and heard so many stories never before been told. His life boiled down to these tales, a life collapsed into one week, that’s what we got here, albeit wildly fictionalized. And it worked. Not enough to make me a convert, but enough for me to be pleasantly surprised. This year’s TOB pile is overrun by horrible sports novels and monkey tales, so were Moonglow to win, I can’t say I’d be disappointed. I’ll take wartime shenanigans almost every time. Especially the ones suddenly confessed on one’s deathbed. 3 of 5 stars.

That’s it for me! I’m finishing up The Nix (so I can get it to Care as part of our book swap), and then I get to start Version Control (her part of said swap). Hopefully this book rut will be long gone in the rearview mirror come this time next week.

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One Response to “Book Reviews: The ones with all the comfort and cheese.”

  1. Kim Says:

    Guernsey PPPS simply *must* go in the Free Little Library at some point. It was a book I stumbled upon through my awesome neighbors in Philly and it was such a delightful romp. I still get sad when I realize I can’t meet them irl ever…

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