December 2019 Wrap-Up!

I had a wonderful reading month in December! 8 Books, and most of which were 4-5 stars!

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau: I was sent this ARC from Endeavour Media. I will be posting a review soon, but just know that this is a really fun & well-written historical mystery that takes place on Coney Island in 1911. It was awesome! 4/5 stars.

Followers by Megan Angelo: Full review here! I gave this 4/5 stars. Thanks to Graydon House for the ARC!

Commonwealth by Ann Pachett: Embarassingly, this was my first Ann Patchett book, and it was a great one to start with. I love family dramas, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. This tells the story of the Keating & Cousins families and how their lives intertwine over five decades. It jumps in time from past to current day and was a sweeping and fascinating dive into these characters. 4.5/5 stars.

The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey: Full review here! 4/5 stars.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson: I purchased this recently at the Harvard Bookstore Warehouse Sale and was told by my friend Ari to get to it immediately! Her recommendation was spot on. This was a twisty, fast-paced domestic thriller that kicks off when a man runs into a woman in Heathrow Airport on their way to Boston, and they come up with a plan to kill his wife. With a whole slew of unlikable characters, I shouldn’t have enjoyed this as much as I did, but there were twists galore and it was super fun. 4/5 stars.

Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra: This is a modern-day retelling of Little Women, a literary classic. This was…not. It was a bit of a mess. I didn’t like the characterizations of Marmee & Papa in this retelling, and I’m not sure I was into the change of setting from Concord, MA to North Carolina. It was a cute, romantic read, and I really resonated with Meg’s character this time around. Am I going to read the follow up? Totally. 3/5 stars.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore: Full review here. 5/5 stars. This is phenomenally written and super important & timely.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano: This book was the heartbreaking story of Edward Adler, the 12 year old lone survivor of a plane crash where he loses his parents and older brother. The book follows Edward as he tries to heal and grieve and find a ‘new normal,’ as well as flashes back to the characters on the plane before the incident. It was a difficult read but a great one that dives into what it means to grow up, found families, and moving on. 4/5 stars.

Long Bright River — Review

Long Bright River by Liz Moore was another choice in my December Book of the Month box and I am so, so glad I chose this one. This tells the story of Mickey, a Philadelphia police officer, who realizes her younger sister Kacey, an opioid addict, has gone missing. The tension is ratcheted when Mickey realizes that there appears to be a serial killer in her precinct, Kensington, a neighborhood known for its sex work and drug trade — and Kacey’s stomping grounds.

This dual timeline story partly focused on Kacey & Mickey’s childhoods and how so many memories and relationships are marred by drug use and poverty. They were raised by their grandmother because their mother suffered from addiction. It really highlighted how cyclical these patterns can become, and how hard they are to break.

The other timeline focuses on the mysterious circumstances in Kensington, and Mickey’s life as a single mother to her son, Thomas. I really enjoyed the focus on Mickey’s investigation into her missing sister, and the difficulties faced with being a female police officer. The neighborhood of Kensington itself was a fascinating snapshot of the world of the addicted.

I loved the quick pacing of this book, including short chapters and quick dialogue. Some may be turned off by the lack of quotation marks, but I found that it enhanced the pace. I also loved how the author made me feel that the city of Philadelphia — all its neighborhoods and politics — was another character in the story. It was reminiscent of Dennis Lehane’s police procedural novels.

I am a huge, huge fan of this book and will be looking to add some of Liz Moore’s backlist novels to my TBR. I gave this 5/5 stars and I cannot wait for others to read this when it is officially published on January 7, 2020.

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REVIEW: The Glittering Hour

I received The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey in my December Book of the Month box. It was a sweeping historical romance that spanned the course of eleven years through 1920s and 1930s London.

The story follows Selina Lennox Carew and her daughter, Alice. Selina has traveled to Burma with her husband Rupert to check on their ruby mines. Alice is left behind at the Lennox’s family estate, Blackwood. This location gave me vibes reminiscent of The Secret Garden — curt wait staff, children only allowed in certain areas of the house at certain time, and some overgrown landscaping. At Blackwood, Alice feels lonely and depressed, with the only bright spots in her day being letters from her mother & their trip. One of the maids, Polly, works with Selina to create a treasure hunt for Alice as well, and Alice is learning more and more about her mother with each clue.

At first, I wasn’t a fan of the dual timeline stories. It felt like Alice was just being used as a framing device for the story, and I wasn’t entirely sure how she fit in to the grand scheme of things. I found myself more drawn to the chapters and sections of the text that revolved around Selina and her friends, notorious London socialites known as Bright Young Things. The setting was decadent and Selina’s friends were an absolute joy to read about. Once I was moved further into the book, Alice, I grew to love both timelines equally. In fact, by the end, I was obsessed with the heartbreaking mother-daughter dynamic that really highlighted how oppressed women were at the time.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but I did predict a big piece of the ending pretty quickly. However, the author crafted the story in such a way that I was invested in these characters and wanted to see it through to the end. This was also a point in time I’m not too familiar with, but it has definitely inspired me to find more books set in this era!

If you’re a fan of historical romance, I think you’ll love The Glittering Hour. It has lovable characters, a lush setting, a little mystery, and a love of romance. This was a 4/5 star read for me!

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Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo was a really fun read. This is a dual timeline story that examined the high price that comes with fame & followers. It follows Orla & Floss in the present day, and Marlow in 2051. Marlow lives in a separate state called Constellation, and it’s similar to The Truman Show, where everyone is a reality star. I found myself super interested in the sci-fi future that Marlow was living in and I was fascinated by the mysterious Spill and it’s aftermath.

Orla & Floss are NYC residents in 2017, trying to find fame and often failing. They reminded me of the Instagram ‘influencers’ of the current age, and it was an interesting examination of cancel culture and D-list celebrities.

I thought the ending was wonderful and, without spoiling it, I REALLY wanted MORE of that side of things! This book was a satirical look at privacy and social media, but also a heartfelt look at friendships, family, and fame.

This novel comes out on January 14, 2020 from Graydon House Books. Add it to your TBR on Goodreads!

Thanks so much to bookishfirst.com for the opportunity to read & review this ARC. If you want to try reading & reviewing on BookishFirst, type in my referral code: c19189acce945646f and we BOTH get points! 😀

Followers