I participated in the Goodreads Book Challenge. I set a goal to read 30 books and fell a bit short at 28. BUT…in my defense…one of my books was 1,272 pages long so it should count as three books! So, then I would actually have exceeded my goal by one!
I participated in the challenge again in 2023 and 2024 and you can find those lists by clicking on each year. And, if you are looking for good podcasts to listen to, here are some of my favorite podcasts.
- Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz 👎🏻 This book really dragged on; I quit reading with about 100 pages left, which is rare for me.
- The Plot by Jean Korelitz👉🏻 A good story, but a predictable ending
- Black-Eyed Susan by Susan Heaberlin👉🏻 hard to follow
- Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 a charming, light-hearted tale
- In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 The narrator of the story is recently deceased in an accident and shares the actions of the rest of the characters involved in the accident. Kept me interested.
- We are All the Same in the Dark, by Julia Heaberlin 👍🏻👍🏻I think I must not connect with this author. I found it a bit contrived and hard to follow. A past murder and a current mute, abandoned young girl are the two storylines that the characters in the book are dealing with.
- Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻quick moving
- Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell👍🏻👍🏻 👍🏻loved the weave of history and a good mystery
- Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell 👍🏻👍🏻 a good follow-up to the previous book, but I needed a break before I tackled the third. I will get to it soon.
- Brotherhood of the Rose by David Morrell 👍🏻 👍🏻Same author as above, but a completely different premise. Much more of a contemporary spy/counterintelligence novel.
- Pompeii by Robert Harris 👍🏻👍🏻 I read this historical fiction right before we toured Pompeii, and it was a great primer.
- The Black House by Peter May👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻These next three books are set on several islands in the Hebrides, off the coast of Scotland. I read them right before I spent several days there with my dear friend. They are murder mysteries, but more than that, they really gave me a sense of the place.
- The Lewis Man by Peter May👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
- The Chess Men by Peter May👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
- The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 It has been a LONG time since I enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed this one. It has a Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer feel to it, in that the main characters are young men coming of age in the 1950s. It is just a lovely story with dynamic and complicated characters. This was my first Amor Towles book, and I was a bit sad when I finished it. His writing style is just beautiful. So, I immediately jumped into…
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amore Towles👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻If you like Dickens-type novels, sweeping stories with interesting characters, you’ll love this one. This story focuses on Count Rostov, who has been confined to a hotel in Moscow, and the associated staff and residents of the hotel. Once again, Towles’s writing style and character development speak to me.
- Rules of Civility by Amor Towles👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 I really did like it, but not quite as much as the other two. Set in 1938 New York, the main character is a young woman who is trying to navigate the time and characters of her orbit.
- Cloud Cuckoo Land👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 This is a challenging book to review. I am typically averse to ‘science fiction’ and almost discarded it because the jacket referred to a character living in the future on a spaceship. If you are similarly averse to futuristic novels, do not let that deter you! Trust me on this! This book wraps up several different characters in different settings and time periods so neatly and with a common thread that really comes together at the end. Several nice ‘aha’ moments and a clear message at the end.
- The Elegance of the Hedgehog 👍🏻👍🏻I very much enjoyed it. Not gonna lie; some of the philosophical ramblings lost me a bit. But I still found it a charming, sometimes humorous book with an uplifting message. They are lovely and sympathetic main characters.
- My Brilliant Friend 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 This book introduced me to the term ‘bildungsroman,’ a novel dealing with a person’s formative years. That’s exactly what this book was, and it was delightful. The book is set in Naples and begins in the 1950s. It is book one of four, so that’s always a good thing for my book queue!
- Chances Are👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 I loved Empire Falls and was glad to find more books by Rich Russo. I really did enjoy this book. He has a lovely way with words that articulated the metamorphosis of each character from young men to their now sixty-six-year-old selves. The main characters are three long-time friends who reunite 40+ years after they graduated from college and share the mystery of a disappearance of a dear friend.
- The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick 👍🏻👍🏻 An easy-to-read, sweet book about a widower finding out who his late wife really was and finding a renewal of his life in the process. I rolled my eyes at times given some of the implausible leaps taken, but ‘charming’ nevertheless.
- Because I loved Empire Falls and Chances Are, I figured I would Nobody’s Fool, also by Rich Russo. I got about halfway through and needed a change. I’m not ready to call it quits, but I guess it wasn’t what I wanted to read then. Like all his other books, you can’t help but have a tender spot for his characters, flaws and all. It’s a simple, rambling story of Sully and those around him who live in small-town upstate New York. I keep renewing it from the library because I do want to finish it.
- Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 This is a hard book to describe without spoiling it for you. At its core, it’s a psychological thriller with an unusual premise and some unexpected twists and turns.
- The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell 👍🏻👍🏻 The cover of the book describes it as a ‘Chilling Psychological Thriller’, but I really didn’t find it to be chilling, psychological, or a thriller. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. But it was more a story of a dysfunctional family.
- The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 The story of a butler at the end of his career reminiscing on his life and service, with a bit of chosen denialism. A lovely read, but also a bit sad.
- When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro 👍🏻👍🏻 Hmmmm…After reading The Remains of the Day and enjoying it, I wanted to read more by the author. I enjoyed the story and the setting (Shanghai, early 1900), but was troubled by the improbability of the story and never really connected with the characters.
- Ink Black Heart by Robert Galbraith 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 In truth, at 1,272 pages, this should count for two books! And while I loved all the other Cameron Strike books, this one is probably my least favorite. I just really do love the characters more than the actual story. Part of the reason for the length of the book is the pages and pages of ‘chat room’ transcripts. It may have been just me, but how they were presented gave me trouble reading and absorbing the transcripts.
- The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻 I kept having to remind myself that the author was only 23 when she wrote this book! There are really five main characters that live in a small Georgia mill town. It seems it was set in the late 1930s or early 1940s. The title of the book really is descriptive of the story, the characters are all seeking for a purpose and meaning in their lives. The writing is gorgeous, but the story is a sad commentary on life in a racist and struggling small southern town.
So, what are you reading or what have you read recently that you loved? Please pass the titles on to me, I am always looking for good books.