The American Agent

Book 36 in 2019.

“The American Agent” by, Jacqueline Winspear.

This is book number sixteen in the “Maisie Dobbs Series”. Maisie is now in her early forties at the cusp of WWII. She works in London during the week as a private investigator. In the evening she is a volunteer ambulance driver to help Londoners who are injured during the German blitz bombings that started two weeks ago. One night an American woman journalist joins her team to report on the war. The next day the reporter is found dead in her apartment. Maisie is hired to solve her murder.

Now, this is one of my series. I have loved Maisie from the beginning. She is a great character. I recommend starting on book one, so then you know more about what is what and who is whom. In my mind it’s the only way to read a series. I am not sure if this is the last book or not. I really felt like it left me with enough closure to say goodbye to Maisie. We had a good run and I enjoyed her immensely. Overall afterthought, the end of an era.

The Scent Keeper

Book 35 in 2019.

“The Scent Keeper” by Erica Bauermeister.

I almost did not read this book. I wasn’t sure about the cover. Pastel colors are not my favorite. Ha. I know, it gets worse. I also am allergic to a lot of scents and perfumes, I get really bad headaches. Don’t try and understand me.

However! I persevered and picked it up, read it in one day! This book. Such a great story. Sigh… so good.

It is a coming of age story for a girl named Emmaline who grows up on a secluded island with her father. He is a loving father who shows her how to survive off the land. And tells her about fairytales, mermaids and stories of Jack the scent Hunter. He also has a peculiar machine that he uses once a season to capture scents. It prints off little scented papers which he rolls and places in little glass jars, seals them with wax and stores them in little cupboards filling their entire cabin. Her world is happy and content until she is thirteen and grows restless wanting to know what else is out in the world.

I absolutely loved this story. It is not my normal type of book. It had a lot of drama and a little heartache, but it flowed so well. Overall afterthought, loved it.

The Simplicity of Cider

Book 34 in 2019.

“The Simplicity of Cider” by, Amy Reichert.

My last couple of fiction books have been a little intense. I was looking for something a bit lighter. I read Amy Reichert’s “The Coincidence of Coconut Cake” and thought it was cute. So glad I picked this up.

Sanna lives and works on her family orchard in Wisconsin. Times have been hard on her and her father trying to stay ahead financially and failing. Her brother wants to sell the orchard to a water park company. But Sanna, who is ornery and set in her ways, wants to stay and make it work and live there alone forever.

Along comes Isaac and his ten year old son Sebastian. His ex-wife has recently died from an overdose and he fled California to protect his son from the truth. They ended up on a failing orchard, in Wisconsin as seasonal help.

I am going to just leave it right there. Such a cute story. I loved this book. I want more! I am going to pick up Reichert’s other book “Luck, Love and Lemon Pie” very soon! Overall afterthought, yay!!

All the Wrong Places

Book 33 in 2019.

“All the Wrong Places” by, Joy Fielding.

Not my favorite book. Eck. It was suggested to me by someone who has suggested “thrillers” before, and for some reason I have a hard time saying no to. I will have to really research the next book they suggest before reading it.

This is about a woman on a dating website who has a serial killer “hunting” her. On top of that she has all other things going on in her life. Her mom just started dating again. Four months ago she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her with her cousin. Her best friend has decided that she is also done with her husband’s infidelity and is going to divorce him. And her psycho, jealous, cheating cousin, is out to get everyone.

Whew dra-ma. Way too much creepy serial killer drama. And way too much cheating creepy boyfriend and husband drama. I don’t mind thrillers but this was too much yuck for me. Overall afterthought nooo!!!!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

Book 32 in 2019.

“The Tattooist of Auschwitz” by Heather Morris.

Holy mercy I loved this book. Such an incredible story of endurance, perseverance and love. Ugh. Just beautiful. I mean, it is still full of gut wrenching heartache, tragedy and the horrors of concentration camp life, but to hear a story such as this, amazing.

My all time favorite WWII survival story is Lauren Hillenbrand’s “Unbroken”. I am not sure if anything I have read will top that, or come close for me. But this is way up there. I really don’t even feel like I need to get into the details of the book. The title alone gives you a very good idea of what you are getting yourself into. Overall afterthought, absolutely loved it.

Capital Gaines

Book 31 in 2019.

“Capital Gaines” by, Chip Gaines.

Chip and Joanna Gaines were on the HGTV show “Fixer Upper”. I have to admit, I probably have not seen an entire episode. Nor will I watch one in its entirety. Remodeling shows make me look at my house and feel ungrateful. Ha! However, what I have seen of their show, I loved watching them. They are adorable, honest, hard working, and respectful couple. Not too much of that around on the good ole tele.

So I thought I would read Chip’s book. I think he wrote another one too. On top of their TV show they have a store, construction and remodeling company. They also have five children! They do not it sit down. True entrepreneurs in every sense of the word. I enjoyed reading his thoughts. Overall afterthought, inspiring.

“Your purpose is just like mine, it’s big, and it’s important, and there’s no one else anywhere on the planet who can fulfill it. So quit messing around – and go get ’em”.

– Chip Gaines

The Wedding Officer

Book 30 in 2019.

“The Wedding Officer” by, Anthony Capella.

I was so digging this book. It takes place in Italy during WWII. Livia Pertini is a cook in her family owned restaurant in the country near Mt Vesuvius. When WWII comes to Italy her husband is sent off to war and dies. After the Allies liberate her country, it is almost harder for Livia and her family to live. Trying to survive she ends up in Naples cooking for a British officer. Captain James Gould is in charge of making sure British soldiers are not marrying Italian beauties for the wrong reasons.

Spoilers ahead. Ok. So it started off so well. There was a good story and lots of cooking and a little love.

Then it got a bit raunchy.

Then I felt like the story was all over the place. James and Livia were getting along fine.

Then she went back home and the volcano hit.

Then they were separated.

Then she was sold as a prostitute to the German’s by a mafia guy she refused to marry.

Then she escaped and joined some communists and became a soldier.

Then James rescued her and stayed and fought alongside the commies. Ha!

Then it ended.

Haha!! I was laughing out loud at all the twists and turns it took. Whew. Did not see that coming. The Times is quoted on the front of the book saying “One of those delicious unashamedly feel-good stories that begs to be read in the sun.” I unashamedly disagree. I mean, I would love to sit in the sun, but I did not find it a “feel-good” story. Overall afterthought, not my favorite.

Life Is ____.

Book 29 in 2019.

“Life is _____. “by Judah Smith.

Apparently I am on a little non fiction kick. (Don’t worry I picked up a WWII book I am reading right now.) I read Judah Smith’s book “How’s Your Soul” not too long ago and really enjoyed it. I figured I would try something else of his. Ugh this book… Loved it.

It is broken down into four sections : Life is to be loved and to love. Life is to trust God in every moment. Life is to be at peace with God and Yourself. Life is to enjoy God.

I have been a Christian pretty much my entire life. I love that basic simplicity of love, trust, peace and enjoying God is a reoccurring theme in my life right now. This book just kept reaffirming to trust Jesus. That by far was my favorite section. God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

To answer our frequent identity crisis is not first and foremost focusing on who we are, but focusing on who God is.

I have enjoyed Judah Smith’s books so much. The thing that keeps hitting me hard is his reminder to think about what we will be known for when we die. What will how we lived our life say to people? Man, I want to be known for my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (Galatians 5:22-23) Overall afterthought, so good.

Natural Disaster

Book 28 in 2019.

“Natural Disaster” by Ginger Zee.

I really liked this book! I just love how real and raw Ginger was. It is so easy to look at people on TV and believe, they have it all together. “If I could only be like them, my life would be better!”

But aren’t we all really “natural disasters ” in our own right? We all struggle and fail, then learn how to get back up again. I thought Ginger was able to convey that fact so well. Her story is a little sad, but also courageous. Overall afterthought, great biography.

The Sari Shop Widow

Book 27 in 2019.

“The Sari Shop Widow” by, Shobhan Bantwal.

My string of books I didn’t want to finish because “I wasn’t feelin it”, has ended with this cute story. I think I picked it off the library shelf because of the colorful cover. I have a very thorough book choosing process, obviously. Color is important. It is also how I choose which sport team I cheer for.

This is a story about a thirty seven year old Indian-American widow, Anjali, who is working hard with her parents to have a successful boutique in Little India, in New Jersey. When she finds out they are struggling financially and her father has called in a rich uncle from India to help, she starts to lose hope that her hard work has not been enough. When her uncle arrives he brings with him Rishi, his business partner, a wealthy, handsome, forty two year old Indo-Brit. With her family’s livelihood hanging on the balance can Anjali trust her uncle and Rishi to help? And why is Anjali having these feelings towards Rishi when she has sworn off love after losing her husband ten years ago.

Such a cute story. Chic lit at its finest. So glad I picked it up. I will be checking out Shobhan Bantwal’s other books. Overall afterthought, good stuff.