Why yes, my mother did warn me it would lead to glasses, and I got my first pair in 6th grade, but what else is a girl to do when the power is out? I read. And I read. And I read some more.
Then the lights came on and I kept reading. Luckily for the sake of book reviews, I finished one non-fiction gem and read 8 cozies in a tidy series.
Alison has mentioned My Grandfather’s Blessings on her blog many times, and at least as many times, she’s gently urged me to get around to reading it. It wasn’t that I was resistant… I just wasn’t in the mood for serious reading. I can’t recall why I suddenly, like a woman possessed, ordered it a couple of weeks ago, but I started it the Friday night after it arrived.
I’ve always been intrigued by the mystic side of Judaism, so I was prepared to adore Doctor Remen’s rabbi grandfather from the start. But the more I read, much of it tempered by Dr. Remen’s own experiences and beliefs, the more I was moved, the more I felt that she had written it just for me.
The regulars among you know I don’t believe in coincidences, so it was fated that I had this book already underway during one of the most pivotal board meetings in modern JLC history. It began snowing early, so when the last of us left the office last Tuesday night, the rain had changed over and right at dawn the next morning, the heavy, wet snow took out our power for 34 hours.
I read. I nodded. I wept. I laughed out loud. If you haven’t read this book and you’re at all into self-improvement and/or philosophy, read it… soon. If you need to be reminded that we all are blessed beings and that we need to dispense grace liberally, read this book right away. This isn’t a religious book. It isn’t a self-help book, but Dr. Remen doesn’t rule anything out and dares us to do the same, all while reminding us that we do make a difference in our world, in the lives of those around us, whether we are intentional about it or not.
After such a heady, deep read, I reached for something light and my hands fell on the Magnolia Mysteries by Ellen Elizabeth Hunter. Like most of my reading material, this series was provided by my pusher – er, librarian? – basically bloggless Susan. I love that she numbers the books for me so I don’t have to think about which one comes next!
Just the same, it was a bit annoying to discover that book #1, Murder on the Ghost Walk, was written as a look back. There are spoilers; you know how the love triangle is going to turn out, since the book opens with her sending her husband off on a business trip. Still, I immediately got caught up in the Coastal Carolina belles’ drama, and I have to say that I am sure I’d enjoy visiting Wilmington and the Wilkes sisters. Melanie is the oldest and young Ashley is the protagonist. Ashley’s career as a historical restorationist gives us great glimpses into the local history, and it is fascinating.
I do wish Ms. Hunter didn’t repeat the same descriptions word for word in each book though. Even though the 8 paperbacks are at home and I’m at work, I can almost quote the overly repeated words about the girls’ mother being a little too taken with Gone with the Wind, and if she’d had a boy she would have named him Rhett Butler Wilkes. There’s a similar phrase or ten for every recurring character, including their descriptions. I also find the snippets of political commentary voiced through the characters to be preachy, but if you can set those things aside, you’ll find a delightful cozy series set in the world of the old money society of Wilmington, North Carolina.
I do have to say, the Knight noted that I said the EXACT same thing at the end of books 7 & 8… I found the endings too trite, almost to the point of ruining an otherwise pleasant read. Just the same, I’m delighted to see there are at least two more books in the series already. The characters are fun and lovable and I do adore books that mix local history into the plot. Cozies are very light reading, but I’ve learned more about the Virginia wine industry, book binding, owning a tea shop and now, about the greater Wilmington area and its history and more, all while enjoying some rather simple little mysteries.
What about your local area would make a good backdrop for a work of fiction?