This month’s best books include two that I made a mistake with. I listened to one while reading the other. The books were so similar this was hard. Those two books are the first ones reviewed today.
Then I tried a book that was amazing! At the same time, I was watching a television show with a similar theme so I switched to a romance of sorts for another selection- a more light reading topic. Enjoy the reviews- and note that at the end I included the book I was most disappointed in this month. So, here you are- October’s Best Books!
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56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
This book had a current scenario. It is set in Dublin just as the Covid lockdown is beginning.
It begins with the grim discovery of a dead body. An investigative team arrives at an apartment to find a body that has been dead for a while.
The chapters then begin to alternate. Fifty-six days prior to the death a couple meets. They meet in a market line where Oliver offers to let Ciara go ahead of him. She hesitates and says she has other things to grab. And then, he is waiting for her outside the store. A relationship begins in such an innocent way.
Only a few days later, Dublin begins a lockdown due to the virus and the two decide to move in together. Both are alone in Dublin and joining together seems like a good idea. And yet…
As each chapter opens you will read their stories told from each point of view. This includes some bit of motive for what they are doing in Dublin and with one another. Do they know each other from somewhere else? How does the body factor into the story? And since we know someone is going to die, which of these two is going to get away? Or does someone else enter the picture?
Chapters with the detectives are interspersed throughout as they try to solve the mystery of the dead body. Oliver has a backstory that is quite secretive, but, no surprise here, so does Ciara. Is their innocent meeting coincidental or not?
I enjoyed the format of this book although it kept me constantly checking to see how many days prior each chapter was set. I also had to switch points of view for each and then maddeningly about midway through the chapters didn’t change. Just suddenly, the point of view would switch with little warning.
The chapters with the detectives were slightly humorous, but also a little silly at times. I got really tired of reading about the odor of the body.
This one gets 3 stars because of many things. I was surprised at the way the twists played out, but by that point, I was also getting bored with the storyline begin dragged out so long. And, when I read the last page, I turned it because there should have been more. I was sorely disappointed to find that was the end!
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
I listened to this book and highly recommend that you do as well. The narrator was superb.
This is the story of Nina George Dean who believes her name came from a popular song by Boy George and whose mum has decided to change her own name from Nancy to Mandy.
Nina is a 30-something that writes cookbooks, lives in a small apartment, has loads of friends, and decides one day to join a dating app. She is matched to Max.
They quickly begin an intense relationship, partially due to the smooth-talking Max who woos Nina with some very romantic lines. This is where the similarity with 56 Days comes in. In both books, a couple is thrown together in weird ways and they must overcome extreme odds in order to stay together- or not!
Nina’s conflicts come from a father that is suffering from extreme memory loss and confusion, a mum that doesn’t appear to understand how serious this is (and is also wanting to suddenly be called Mandy), friends that are heavy into marriage and parenting, a best friend that is quite delightful (Lola), and just life in general. Max seems to be her soul mate.
Until he “ghosts” her. Despite his profession of planning to marry her (on their first date), Max stops communicating completely. Months go by. Nina moves on as do all the characters.
I loved this book! It was beautifully written with passages that were so incredible. As Nina moves through all her relationships she begins to understand her place with her friends and family. One passage that struck me occurred when Nina was contemplating the loss of her parents. Her dad is obviously very ill. She and her mum are often at odds with one another about it, to the point of not speaking. Nina is stricken by this and says this,
“At some point I think all children, no matter their age, feel as if they are 6 years old sitting on a bench outside the school, waiting on their mum to come and get them.”
Extraordinary. And so true. We all need our mum and dad.
Nina manages to get through all these normal twists and turns in her relationships with a good bit of drama. It was a fun book, especially because it was laugh-out-loud funny in so many places.
I give this one 4 stars because I loved the characters- all of them, except Max. The only problem I had with the book is that it seemed to tackle too many different areas. Just when I thought it was about one thing, it quickly became something else. And there are some particularly silly scenes with a man named Angelo that could have easily been left out. Try this one with Audible! I will add a link at the end!
Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Two deeply troubled young people meet and have a tempestuous week-long relationship. They part, not amicably, and each becomes a successful author.
Of course, they meet at a book event 15 years later.
Born Genevieve Mercier (John-vee-ev), Eva Mercy has transformed herself into a best-selling author of a vampire series called “Cursed”. Married briefly, Eva has a 12-year-old daughter named Audre. She also suffers from debilitating migraines that she treats with pain meds and injections.
At a Black author panel where Eva is speaking a figure from her past appears. Shane Hill, also an accomplished author, joins the panel. Shane and Eva met as teenagers and had a seven-day relationship. The reason they parted will be revealed as you read this book.
Can they rekindle their relationship? Both of them are still dealing with their personal demons, Eva was once a cutter and takes massive amounts of drugs for her migraine condition. Shane has battled alcoholism and is deeply troubled over his upbringing.
These two have amazing chemistry and a new life together after 15 years may just be the way to good health for both of them. But is it?
The writing in this book is superb. Funny, touching, powerful, beautiful. Believable. I loved this book. Now, mind you, it has some steamy scenes, some language, and does deal with some difficult topics. Just a warning, but read it! You will love this book, too!
Winter Cottage by Mary Ellen Taylor
This author is my go-to writer when I need something refreshing, heartwarming, and uplifting, and with maybe a little bit of romance.
She does not disappoint!
This is the story of 20-something Lucy, whose mother has passed away and requested that her ashes be buried in a town from her past. Incidentally, Lucy has no knowledge of her mother ever living in this town in Virginia.
And, quite coincidentally, Lucy is contacted by a lawyer that lets her know of another death in Cape Hudson, Virginia. A woman she has never met has bequeathed her homeplace to Lucy. So, with her mom’s ashes, Lucy heads to Cape Hudson to see Winter Cottage and bury her mother.
Upon arriving in Cape Hudson, Lucy visits the lawyer. It seems that if Lucy decides to accept the house and property she will have quite a lot of money. However, she must use the money to renovate and maintain the homeplace. The “cottage” is actually a vast estate with modern amenities, but very old-style decor.
If Lucy does not take the place, it goes to, wait for it…. the lawyer. He offers her a paltry sum of money to let him have it and go away.
But, Lucy is in Virginia for a reason. First, to bury her mother. She also wants to know the story of Ms. Buchanan – who left her the estate. Perhaps, she can also solve the mystery of who her father is.
Now, you will find some plot holes in this book!
- The chapters alternate with present-day (2018) and the younger days of Ms. Buchanan. Those back-stories were a tad distracting to me. However, stick with it! The stories just might be intertwined.
- The town is extremely gossipy and a little stuck in an era that does not seem to be 2018.
- There are some unexpected twists in the book!
I give this book 4 stars! It’s light and easy and a great place to be after reading some ‘heavy’ books. I found this book available with Kindle Unlimited. If this is not something you use, check the link below to give it a go!Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans
The Most Disappointing Book of October
At the scene of the accident, a stranger approaches claiming to know Holly and her husband. After speaking to the ambulance attendant and being told to follow in his car, the attendant hands this stranger Holly’s purse and tells him to bring it to the hospital. This was my first clue. I should have stopped reading right there.
Days later, Holly awakens from the accident and discovers this stranger’s name is Evan and he is now her benefactor. She and her daughter, Savannah, will be moving into a million-dollar home, completely furnished, and have cash at their disposal. I will let you read to find out why this is happening.
Now, let’s add the neighbors across the street to this tale. Libby and Andy are a struggling couple, barely making ends meet. Libby sells her belongings in order to pay bills, while Andy is a scriptwriter trying to make it big in Hollywood. They are also slightly nosy and are very interested to know how Holly and Savannah are able to live so exorbitantly without an obvious source of income.
So, I have a few problems.
- Does every chapter have to end with a doom-and-gloom statement? Like every chapter! (“And suddenly I knew no matter what we did, it would never be enough.”) Every single chapter ends with a statement like this and it got old really fast.
- The back and forth in time writing style was okay for a while, but the chapters also alternated points of view. Somewhat confusing.
- The original deal with Evan for obtaining the house and moving was made by a 16-year old. Uh, no.
- And the whole drama about securing the dash cam video that Holly and Savannah NEVER WATCHED. Seriously, isn’t that what you would do first thing.
- And, the contrived scenes that resolved the whole drama. Gah. I was not happy at the end. It was a mess. On a good note- I did finish it.
I can’t, with good conscience, recommend this book. I did not like any of the characters, except maybe Savannah, but she was also way too gullible. Then again, she, at least, was 16. I give this one 2 stars.
My rating system: 5 stars means perfection- the book was written well, held my attention, and I did not want it to end. 4 stars- the book was really good, but I had questions or concerns about parts of it. This might include the way it ended. 3 stars- the book was okay, but I just didn’t like it much. 2 stars- I skimmed most of it. 1 star- I could not finish it.
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