Book Reviews

It has been more of the same this week in hot, humid South Florida and instead of sharing what I’m doing, (eating less and moving more), I thought you might like to hear about what I’m reading.

I have taken this ‘down time’ (are we still allowed to call it that?) to branch out beyond my two favorite genres – historical fiction and psychological thrillers. While I did not like all of the books I reviewed below, I did find something of value in each of them. When a book is relatable, even in a small way, I consider the time spent reading worthwhile.

Conviction, Denise Mina ****

Anna, who is obsessed with listening to true-crime podcasts, is startled to learn that she knows the victim in the story she is currently listening to. Leon was a character in her previous life, and while she recognizes that solving his murder could reveal her true identity, or worse, get her killed, it is something she feels compelled to do. Things just don’t add up.

The case is closed, someone is in prison, but there are too many questions that don’t have answers. It all sounds vaguely familiar. Will she be strong enough for the confrontation that must come? This novel is filled with questions, clues, narrow escapes, deception, secret identities, adultery, cover-ups and murder. As much as I tried to savor it, I could not and read it through much too quickly. My advice – slow down, take in all the details, sort the characters carefully at the beginning and enjoy the ride.

The Scent Keeper, Erica Bauermeister *****

If you liked Where the Crawdads Sing, you will love The Scent Keeper, by Erica Bauermeister, just as much if not more. A brilliant scientist, renowned for an invention that captures and preserves scents, is disgraced when the public learns that the scent papers fade and precious memories are forever lost. Unable to face the brutal onslaught of law suits and criticism, he takes his infant daughter and escapes to a remote island off the coast of Canada, to live in isolation.

Emmeline’s childhood is filled with wonder and shaped by her senses as she learns lessons from her beautiful island. Her life is filled with mermaid parties, fantastical tales and little bottles of scent papers that line the walls of their hilltop cabin. Little does Emmeline know that her father’s tales and those little bottles will unlock the mystery of who she really is and lead her back to a life she may wish she had not found.

This book is simply beautiful. Enough said.

The Jetsetters, Amanda Eyre Ward**

The Jetsetters – Prim and proper seventy year old Charlotte from Savannah, dreams of reuniting her adult children on a ten day Mediterranean cruise that she won by submitting an erotic essay to a contest. That is just the first of many deceptions being played out in this family drama. Charlotte and her children board the ship with a lot of baggage; Charlotte just lost her best friend and is adrift, Lee is a washed up actress who just got dumped by her recently famous boyfriend, Cord has just proposed to the love of his life but can’t quite muster up the courage to tell mommy dear that he is gay, and Reagan has lost her true identity as an artist as she embodies the cliche character of a frazzled mother with a wayward husband. Lee and Reagan have been estranged for years, and Cord is desperately trying to hold onto sobriety as the future of his company hangs in balance. The story touches on alcoholism, depression, mental illness, family secrets, a mother’s love, and trying to keep a family together at all costs.

To say that communication is an issue would be an understatement and it becomes frustrating to follow a story that centers around a needy, sex-obsessed 70 year old woman with three seriously messed-up adult children who need to sit down and have an honest chat. There was so much substance that could have been explored in this book, but the author seemed conflicted with what she wanted to say.

It wasn’t awful, it just never fully developed. This was a pick from Reese Witherspoon’s book club and was a big miss for me.

That’s it for me this week, how about you. Have you read anything interesting lately? Please share your recommendations, summer isn’t over yet.

28 Comments on “Book Reviews

  1. Thanks for the book reviews.”The Scent Keeper” is on my want to read list. My two favorite books from this summer are “The Lager Queen of Minnesota” and “The Dutch House”. I’ve read so much I’ve already met my reading goal for the year.

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    • Beth, thanks for the recommendations. I will head over to Good Reads and check out the reviews. I have been reading a lot more than usual too. Pre-Covid I read about 2 per month, now I’m reading 2-3 per week! That’s a lot for me. I’m enjoying it though, so I think I’ll keep it up even when life gets busy again. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your book reviews. The Scent Keeper is already on my list of Holds. I’ve been reading a lot and just shared what I read in August on my blog. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes was my top pick in August although the other novels were all good, too, depends on what you feel like reading.

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    • Natalie, I read your post a little while ago. Very nice list and I will certainly see if my library has The Sense of an Ending. Not sure if I can handle ‘sad’ right now, but a good book is a good book.

      Like

  3. Thanks, Suzanne, for the helpful reviews. I’m always looking for interesting reading, and can find direction from your candid reviews.

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  4. Suzanne,
    I have a copy of “Where the Crawdads Sing” I brought with me, but it will have to wait until we get home. I’ll follow it up with the “Scent Keeper.” So far, I’ve been able to read all of my back issues of “Garden and Gun”. Enjoy your holiday. Joe

    Like

  5. I love it when people post book reviews! I loved Where the Crawdad Sings so now adding Scent Keeper to my list of books I want to read. Once I finish Little Fires Everywhere (for this month’s book club read), I will look for that one. I also love it when your readers comment on what they have been reading ~ I need some ideas.

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  6. I really enjoy book reviews and recommendations… especially when I can add one or two to my list. I think the Scent Keeper sounds like something I’d like also. I’m currently reading The Overstory and White Fragility. Both very, very different, both eye-opening.

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    • Janis, those are interesting and very different choices. A little too heavy for my mood right now, but will add to the list for sure. The Scent Keeper will definitely make you breathe a little deeper.

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  7. Glad you found some books that you found rewarding. I read mysteries and like life, some are diamonds and some are stones. I finished three this week that fall in the middle somewhere. Linda Castillo’s “Outsider,” Robert Parker/Mike Lupica’s “Grudge Match,” and J. Todd Scott’s “Lost River.” I can’t imagine a life without books. Have a good week.

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  8. I just finished The Scent Keeper last week and loved it! I read The School of Essential Ingredients by the same author the week before and enjoyed it just as much. Other of my recent favorites include Nothing To See Here (Kevin Wilson) and The Wedding Bees (Sarah-Kate Lynch). I read at least two novels a week right now, too, and they can’t be depressing. I like good character development and interesting situations, but they can’t be tragic. Not right now. (For that very reason, I’ve also reread all of Elizabeth Berg’s novels.) I have a big long list of favorites, maybe I should take a cue from you and post about them sometime! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laurel, I completely agree with your criteria for reading right now. It has to be fun, informative, and uplifting. I will check out your suggestions. They both sound like they will be in my wheelhouse. I wish you, and others would share reviews or even just a list of favorite reads from time to time. I know we all have different tastes, but just a little intro to something you have enjoyed would be great! Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Donna, being the nature lover you are, I know you will enjoy it. Would love to hear about what you are reading. I am always looking for good quality, enjoyable reads; nothing too heavy or depressing.

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  9. Suzanne, thank you for these book reviews. It is always great to have some good recommendations, I recently read the Neapolitan Novels, a series of 4 books by Italian author Elena Ferrante. She is such a brilliant writer. I will put these recommendations on my list 🙂

    Like

  10. Hi Suzanne! Thanks for the recommendations. I did like Where the Crawdads Sings so I’ll try to see if the The Scent Keeper is available through my library lending program. I’ve read quite a few novels (for me) this summer. I can’t remember the names of all of them but one was “Stay” written by the author of “Pay It Forward” so yes it has a positive message and is a nice read. The other was, “The Silent Patient” which is sort of a mystery. Bother were good and I would recommend them. Meanwhile, keep enjoying your time. ~Kathy

    Like

  11. Suzanne, I am always very interested on what everyone is reading. We are planning our two week unplugged camping trip and I am loading up my Kobo ereader and Kindle app with books. I still like hard cover books and I may reveal a special one in a future post.

    Your second paragraph describes very well how I feel about books. I should investigate Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Overall, I respect your opinion and insights more, Suzanne. The Scent Keeper is now on my list. Thank you.

    Like

    • Erica, Conviction is a good quick read and great entertainment for your ‘unplugged’ trip, although The Scent Keeper is perfect for the environment you will be in and will heighten your awareness. Can’t go wrong with either one.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Suzanne. I haven’t yet read any of the books you mentioned. However, my book club has “Where the Crawdads Sing” on the list for an upcoming month. I am currently reading “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout and I recommend it.

    Jude

    Like

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