24 December 2018

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: A Trio of Reviews

3 books to read in December 2018Happy Christmas Eve! Because of the holidays, I haven't had a ton of reading time, but that's okay. Parties and relaxing with friends and family are more than worth the trade-off.

Unlike many of you, I am working through to the new year, working on the weekends to make up for the holidays. Don't feel bad for me, it's the life I picked when I became a freelancer. We have our annual New Year's Eve dinner and a movie party in the works, and I'm enough ahead on the planning that it should be a snap to pull together.

I'm not 100 percent sure how much I'll be posting between today and next Wednesday (except for my Weekend Cooking post), but we'll see how I do.

Here's wishing everyone a happy holiday season and a safe and healthy new year.

Review of One Day in December by Josie SilverOne Day in December by Josie Silver (Broadway Books, October 2018). I don't read a lot of holiday books, but I couldn't resist this light, fun, contemporary story set in London. Here's the premise: One day in December Laurie is riding the bus home from work and sees a guy waiting at the bus stop. Their eyes lock, and Laurie's sure she just found her one true love, but the bus moves on before the man gets on or she gets off. She tells her best friend (and flatmate), Sarah, and they spend a year combing London, looking for "Bus Boy." Laurie has pretty much given up, especially after Sarah starts dating a man she thinks she could really fall for. When Sarah brings Jack to the apartment for the first time, Laurie realizes he's the guy she saw from the bus window. The story is told alternately from Laurie's and Jack's viewpoints and covers several years, especially during the Christmas season. Laurie is determined not to reveal to Sarah who Jack is and doggedly accepts the situation and attempts to move on. Meanwhile, Jack recognizes Laurie, but he too holds his tongue and decides being Laurie's friend is good enough. What ensues is a test of loyalty and friendship. The three main characters have flaws, make mistakes, and aren't always nice. Although you're sure you know the ultimate outcome, there's enough depth to make this Christmas story worth the read. I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 10 hr, 27 min), read by Eleanor Tomlinson (as Laurie) and Charlie Anson (as Jack). I really liked both performances and felt that Tomlinson and Anson were well matched in the way they portrayed the characters' emotions and personalities. If you're looking for a good holiday read with bit more than a sweet romance, then give One Day in December a try in print or audio. (audiobook from the publisher)

Thoughts on Fire & Blood by George R. R. MartinFire & Blood: 300 Years before A Game of Thrones (a Targaryen History) by George R. R. Martin and illustrated by Doug Wheatley (Bantam, November 2018). I'm so happy to have a copy of this companion book to Song of Ice and Fire series. The book is packed full of background information about the house of Targaryen, the early days of the Seven Kingdoms, dragons, battles, and more. The many black-and-white drawings by Wheatley are fantastic, and I really loved flipping through the book looking for (and enjoying) the illustrations. My original plan of attack for this book was to do a combo listen and read so I wouldn't miss the visuals and so I could continue reading no matter the situation. The audiobook (Random House Audio; 26 hr, 24 min) is read by none other than Simon Vance, so you know its fabulous. Unfortunately, I started this book at just the wrong time. It's not a novel and is actually a (fictitious) history, complete with dates and data. I started out listening and reading as planned, but after a chapter or so, I put both book and audiobook aside. This is just not the time of the year to pay attention to details. Plus, I'm not completely sure I want to read this book straight through. I might instead tackle a chapter or two at time through the winter. So though I've put Fire & Blood aside for now, I haven't technically given up on it. It's really not a holiday season read in my world. (print copy from my personal collection; audiobook from the publisher)

Review of Death at the Chateau Bremont by M. L. LongworthDeath at the Chateau Bremont by M. L. Longworth (Penguin, 2011). This mystery, set in Aix en Provence is the first in the Verlaque and Bonnet mystery series. There's much to love about this book, which shows great promise for the installments to come (the latest one will be published in 2019). The principal protagonist is Antoine Verlaque, an investigating magistrate in Aix, who loves his food, wine, and cigars. He has a complicated relationship with some of his colleagues, but he knows how to be a team player and to ask for help when he needs it. When a local count falls from an attic window at his family's Chateau, Verlaque is called to determine the circumstances of the death: accident, murder, or suicide? Fortunately for the inspector, he knows the perfect person who can tell him all about the victim. Verlaque's ex-girlfriend (and local law professor), Marine Bonnet, spent many childhood hours playing at Chateau Bremont with the young count and his brother. Verlaque and Bonnet team up to try to solve the crime, despite some unfinished business in their personal lives. Besides the complex murder mystery, the novel takes a look at Aix from the perspective of those who live there, which is a little different from that of the tourist or ex-pat. I really liked the descriptions of the cafes, the bakeries, the wines, and countryside. I also liked getting to know Verlaque and Bonnet, both as individuals and as an erst-while couple. I'm so glad I listened to this first in series (Tantor Audio; 9 hr, 38 min) read by Christa Lewis. I always appreciate hearing the correct pronunciation of the names and other French words, and Lewis's characterizations and good sense of timing--for the humor and the action--enlivened the story. I absolutely plan to keep reading this series. (ebook from the library; audiobook from my personal collection)


rhapsodyinbooks 12/24/18, 6:29 AM  

I had heard about One Day in December but didn't know what it was about - it sounds good! Thanks for the summary, and Happy Rest of the Year!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 12/24/18, 7:00 AM  

I just finished One Day in December too! I liked it, but definitely had some issues with a couple plot points. But, it was a fun read and perfect for what my brain can handle this time of year.

bermudaonion 12/24/18, 8:02 AM  

One of our customers recommended A Day in December to me so I guess I'm going to have to give it a try. Death at the Chateau Bremont sounds good to. Merry Christmas to you and Mr. BFR!

Tina 12/24/18, 8:52 AM  

I’d like the One Day in December and might read it after the holidays. So many books stacked up to read coming up!

Laurel-Rain Snow 12/24/18, 9:45 AM  

These all look promising, and I especially love the sound of One Day in December. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

Happy Holidays!

Susie | Novel Visits 12/24/18, 9:49 AM  

Somehow I missed the boat on One Day in December. Oh, well...next year! Your holidays sound wonderful, full of family and friends. Enjoy every minute!

Yvonne 12/24/18, 10:02 AM  

All of your books sound so good. Enjoy them. I hope you have a great week!

Kathy Martin 12/24/18, 10:31 AM  

Nice variety of books. I haven't read any George R.R. Martin fantasy books. I used to read him when he did science fiction though. Come see my week here. Happy holidays and happy reading!

Vicki 12/24/18, 10:36 AM  

One Day in December sounds really good. I plan on reading The Other Wives Club by the same author.

pussreboots 12/24/18, 4:19 PM  

One Day in December looks good. My weekly update

Greg 12/24/18, 10:06 PM  

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Years! I just finished Fire and Blood and it's definitely a chunkster full of dates and data-wow. Dryer than the GoT books too obviously but I think you'll enjoy it.

Death at the Chateau is going right on my TBR lol. And One Day in December looks great too!

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