Posted by: Jenny | March 3, 2015

February Reads: 5 in 4

The short month saw a lot of reading action! Being unemployed is really helping me surpass my annual reading goal. Here’s what I read – I’d love to hear recommendations for you.

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott

Funny story: One of my sons asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year. I had my eye on Jennifer L. Scott’s two books – Lessons from Madame Chic and At Home with Madame Chic, so I gave him these titles. As he was entering them into his iPhone, he was slowing saying the titles as he typed. “Lessons. From. My Damn. Sheikh.”  That would be a totally different type of book, I’m sure!

Anyway – he and his girlfriend gave me both books for Christmas. If you are not familiar with Jennifer L. Scott, she has a brand, so to speak, called The Daily Connoisseur– a blog and a YouTube channel. Her world view is based on the time she spent as a college exchange student in Paris, living with a well-to-do French family. Scott imparts the lessons she took away from her time in Paris living with “Madame Chic” and her family. As I love all things French, I was drawn into Scott’s world. The book is one which could easily be read in an afternoon (while sipping tea and listening to Debussy, bien sûr), but is best internalized and retained when consumed one chapter at a time. Topics such as using your very best items daily, rather than saving for special occasions, tackling daily chores with joie de vivre, and living with intention are covered in this lovely little book.

(Time will tell if I can incorporate these lessons into my own life. You know what they say about old dogs and new tricks. I’m hopeful.)

Baltimore Blues by Laura Lippman

I’ve read other Laura Lippman books but this is my first foray into the world of Tess Monaghan, former newspaper reporter-turned-private eye. This introduction to the series is a quickly-paced adventure, filled with murder and mystery and quirky characters….and, most dear to my heart, newspaper folks. The twelfth in the series was released in February 2015, so I have plenty of reading to do. I guessed “whodunit” four times before correctly suspecting the culprit.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

Love me some time in a Jennifer Weiner world, and this does not disappoint. Allison, a former news gal (sense a theme?), now writes from home and lives in a leafy suburb of Philadelphia with her husband and young daughter. She slips and slides, and then just dives in, to prescription drug addiction. Some surprises along the way, and nothing felt preachy, hopeless or superficial. This one kept me up way past my bedtime. Weiner, like Liane Moriarty, falls into the “Chick Lit” category, but this book transcends gender in its exploration of nature/nurture and the hot-hot topic of prescription drug addiction.

The Secret Place by Tana French

This is the fifth book in French’s series about the Dublin Murder Squad. Two minor characters from Faithful Place are the main characters here, and the protagonist in that novel, Frank Mackey, is a minor player. I said to my husband the night I started this, “I’m off to Dublin”, so strong is the sense of place and people in this series. The Secret Place has a sad premise – the murder of a teenage boy – and in a few places I was spooked enough to disrupt my sleep. As this is her final published novel in the series, I hope French is busy working on installment six. There are a few characters I want to get to know better.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Published in January, this book rightly invites comparison to Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster hit that flipped the narrative halfway through the novel. The protagonist is an unlikable mess of a woman (the girl on the train), but two other women also tell this story that keeps you guessing. Really, there’s not a likable character in this book, yet it’s a fascinating page-turner. I did figure out the mystery about three-quarters of the way through the book, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment.

What have you read lately? Thoughts on these books? Recommendations to fill my need for Dublin Murder Squad?

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