I made a little more headway with my reading list these past two months. (Yes, I’m a little late on my reading update. It happens.) This round up includes tales of gothic horror, historical intrigue, passionate pen pals, second chances at love, and unraveling friendships. Let’s dig in.
The Thirteenth Tale. This book, which came recommended by a friend, was an unexpected delight. It started out a little slow as it set the scene for biographer Margaret Lea. One night, Margaret receives a mysterious letter from the elderly, best-selling author Vida Winter. Vida asks Margaret to write her biography, which is a huge deal because Vida’s past has always been shrouded in mystery. Although Margaret is a decent character, her story drags on a little bit. It isn’t until Vida begins to tell her story that The Thirteenth Tale picks up speed and perpetually keeps me on the edge of my seat. In the vein of gothic novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, The Thirteenth Tale digs up family skeletons, uncovers spooky ghosts and captures others’ mad existance. Pick this up if you love a good gothic novel that’s filled with surprise after surprise. 4 1/2 STARS
Wench. Lizzie is a slave in the 1850s. Once every summer, her master takes her to the resort Tawawa House where other slave owners also take their mistresses. Here, 13-year-old Lizzie meets an ensemble of supportive women who are also slaves. While at this resort, these women discuss the possibilities of escaping, and it is here that the depths of these women’s relationship to their master unfolds and reveals its complexities. While a couple of the women resent their owners and long to be free, Lizzie doesn’t, confusing her feelings for love and fearing the unknown. I enjoyed how this period piece told a story from the women’s point of view. Although it was remarkably sad, and sometimes unbearable, I was completely absorbed in the story. Unfortunately, the ending left me feeling unsatisfied. 3 1/2 STARS.
To Sir Phillip, With Love. I love the Bridgerton books from Julia Quinn, and this one was no exception. In fact, it may be my favorite of the series so far. Eloise, the fifth of the Bridgerton children, starts writing letters to Phillip after his wife (Eloise’s cousin) unexpectedly dies. At first she writes a simple letter that offers her deepest sympathies for the departed, but after awhile Eloise and Phillip become cherished pen pals. I think what struck me most about this book was Phillip. Talk about your handsome but tortured soul. This guy had some real demons in his closet that he needed to face, and two adorable children who unfortunately were witness to them. But Eloise, one of my favorite characters from the series, takes complete control of the siuation and brings love back to a house that has been void of it for so long. Another Bridgerton hit for me. 5 STARS
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Love gets a second chance in this adorable story set in a small, British coastal village. Recommended to me by a friend, this book is about Major Pettigrew, a retired widower who recently meets Jasmina Ali, a Pakistani shopkeeper. As their friendship grows, they start to fall in love, but the close-mindedness of their community challenges their love and sets itself up to tear them apart. I definitely found myself rooting for these two characters—although the Major was much more interesting and likeable when he was with Jasmina—but this book was a little hard to get through. While my friend was most likely attracted to the fluid writing, the vivid detail, and the charming characters, the plot wasn’t gripping enough for me. There was too much focus on a pair of hunting guns, and I found it hard to identify with both the Major and Mrs. Ali. The generation gap was too wide for me and the cultural differences were emphasized too much. But check it out if you’re in the mood for a sweet story with a focus on British charm. 3 STARS
Forever In Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood. The traveling pants return for one last summer. I picked this book up because I figured, Hey. This is the last traveling pants book of the series and why not read it during the summer. The fifth book, Sisterhood Everlasting, recently came out (which focuses on the girls ten years later), and I have been anxiously waiting to get my hands on a copy. If you’re a fan of this series, you’ll recognize the format and same plot points: drama, trust issues, ridiculously fabulous vacation plans, lots of inner monologues, and lasting friendships. A set of best friends separate during the summer. Bridget goes on an archeological dig in Turkey, both Lena and Tibby face overly dramatic boy problems that could probably have been solved with better communication skills (haven’t we been through this with both Lena and Tibby already?!), and Carmen learns a valuable lesson about self worth while at a drama camp. The similarities in obstacles the girls face is too repetitive when comparing it to the first three books, but go ahead and read it if you enjoy spending time with this particular cast of girls. 3 STARS
For this post, I linked up with Blonde…Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.