Book Report | December 2014

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

In need of a good book to sink your teeth into now that the weather is turning {even} colder?  While I'm always a heavy reader and can routinely be found with my nose stuck in a book (or, rather, my Nook!), once the temperature drops there's almost nothing that sounds more cozy that wrapping up in a blanket, with a warm cup of something, and a good book to lose myself in for hours!

This past month was a good one, book wise, and I've been looking forward to sharing these with you, friends! 

I'm not quite sure how I found the time to read quite this much in December given everything else that was piled on the agenda!  But, read I did and these four books were AWESOME!!   I actually read one more book not on this list, but it just wasn't one I wanted to recommend to read (it wasn't a bad book, it was just not a very well written story and went off on tangents).

So!  If you are like me and you're in need of a few good recommendations, then read on and jot these down on your 'must read' list!  I promise you will enjoy them!

The Perfume Collector:  A Novel (by Kathleen Tessaro)

The Perfume Collectorset in upper class London in the mid-1950s, is a rich story that teases you in and won’t let you go until you finish the last page.  Grace Monroe is young, newly married, and not overly happy with her new life.  After a rather shocking discovery, she receives a package summoning her to Paris to collect a sizable inheritance from a woman she’s never met nor heard of.  Assuming a mistake has been made, she sets off for the city of Lights as both a means to escape her stifling life in London and to get to the bottom of the mystery.

After confirming that a mistake has not been made and she is the rightful heir, she embarks upon a quest to learn more about her benefactor.  In the process, we, the reader, are taken on a journey back in time to meet young Eva D’Orsey.  We are pulled into her colorful lifestyle as we learn how she became a wealthy woman and of her connection to Grace Monroe.  We travel from New York City to Monte Carlo, and Paris.  We meet one of Paris’s most accomplished perfumers and see how Eva became his muse, close friend, and business partner.

***

This is a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption with the glittery backdrop of the well to do New Yorkers and Europeans.  I LOVED this book!  It’s one of the best I’ve read this year and I couldn’t put it down.  It’s rich in detail so you can easily visualize the story and the characters are relatable and likable.  I did find the ending to be a tad predictable, but that didn’t detract from the overall strength of the story and the enjoyability factor!

Housewrights (by Art Corriveau)

Housewrights, set in 1920s Vermont, follows the early life of Lily Willard. We first meet Lily as an energetic, slightly tom-boyish 8 year old in the summer of 1907.  Her father is having a new house built for his family and the housewright hired to complete the task has taken residence on their land with his two young sons for the duration of the project (a housewright was basically a traveling carpenter that lived out of a caravan as he moved from project to project building new homes for others).  

Oren and Ian Pritchard are the identical twin sons of the housewright and Lily becomes playmates with them during the summer of the house building.

Through various activities the three children become tied to one another with secrets and shared experiences.  However, once the house is finished, they pack up and leave for the next job.  Lily assumes she will never see the boys again and puts them out of her mind as she grows into adulthood.  Fast forward 10 years and while working as the town librarian, Oren returns in search of Lily.

Oren and Lily become engaged rather quickly, but plan for a long engagement.  In the mean time, Ian returns from the Great War,  shell shocked and in need of care and attention.  The three friends re-unite and after Oren and Lily marry, they make a home together in what locals view as a tad unusual.

***

This is a very short book and a quick read.  For the first half of the book you don’t quite realize how quickly you are getting pulled into the story.  Around the half way mark, you start to realize that even when not reading the book,  you’re thinking about the characters and you can’t wait to get back and bury nose back in the story.  The second half of the book is dramatic and takes a few turns that I didn’t expect.  When I turned to the last page and finished the last paragraph, I was not ready to let go of this story.  I wanted more!!  If you want a quick, but absorbing read, be sure to add this to your must-read list!

The Good Girl (by Mary Kubica)

The Good Girl is set in modern day Chicago and centers around Mia, the daughter of a prominent judge and the black sheep of the family.  She’s experienced her fair share of troublemaking in her teen years trying to set herself apart and find her own way.  Now, as a 24 year old art teacher, she’s kidnapped by her would-be one night stand (retaliation for her on-again, off-again boyfriend standing her up).  

Colin, her kidnapper, has been hired to bring her to a drop off point and hand her over to the real kidnappers for what he assumes is a mission for ransom from her wealthy parents.  However, in an unexpected twist, he keeps driving past the exit for the drop off and takes Mia hundreds of miles away to an abandoned family cabin in the middle of remote Northern Minnesota.  It’s winter and it’s cold, so no one comes looking for them.  

Meanwhile, back in Chicago, as the police are leaving no stone unturned, her cold and distant father seems to think Mia has just run away and that all of the police and media circus is a waste of time.  Eve, her loving mother, is terrified she’ll never see her daughter again and works closely with investigators to uncover what really happened.  After several months in captivity Mia finds her way home only she’s a broken and changed woman.  She has amnesia and can’t remember anything that happened to her.

The story unfolds by switching between the period before Mia is reunited with her family (i.e. while she’s in captivity) and after she’s reunited with her family.  It’s an interesting parallel to see the unfolding of events that lead to her memory loss, while at the same time watching her slowly regain her memories.  Throughout the entire story, you’re left wondering what exactly happened to her and can she recover from this horrific event?  By the time you turn to the last page, you’re still guessing, but the conclusion will have your jaw dropping!

***

I loved this book and couldn’t put it down!!  I did NOT see the ending coming and loved how that unfolded.  This is a powerful story that had me thinking on all sides and loving all of the characters (even the kidnapper).  If you want a page turner to keep you up into the wee hours of the night…get your hands on this one!

The Silent Sister (by Diane Chamberlain)

The Silent Sister jumps from the June 2013 to the '80s - '90s and takes you from Virginia to North Carolina to San Diego to Portland and Seattle.  It doesn't take long to pull you in and until you turn the last page, you can't put this book down (at least, I couldn't!).  

It starts off in June 2013 with Riley MacPherson facing the daunting task of sorting through her father's home and life as she begins the process of settling his affairs following his unexpected death.  She's 25 and with the exception of her emotionally distant older brother, is now all alone in the world.  In addition to her father's death, her mother, and older sister have died earlier in her young life.  

As she begins the process of digging through everything, she starts to uncover some long buried secrets surrounding her sister's life and her death when Riley was not yet two.  Spurred by curiosity and random comments from neighbors, she begins a quest to unravel the secrets about her sister.  What she uncovers turns her world upside down and threatens to ruin everything she's ever held dear.

***

I LOVED this book!  While I kind of guessed a few of the big 'secrets' along the way, it was still very entertaining and very well written.  I finished the book within a matter of days and even after reading the last sentence, the story stayed with me and I could still picture the richly described scenes.  I would love a follow up book to this to see how the story progresses, but absent that, I've selected another book by this author as my next book to read (which I'm currently nose deep in!!).

Your turn!  Since I love to hear about good books...what have  you read lately that kept you burning the midnight oil because you just had to read 'one more page'?  Leave me a comment and let me know!