Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Reader Roundup: March and April

March proved feisty in its stubbornness to toss a bit more winter out before relinquishing to spring. A couple of sunny ways lured me out of the house to bundle up and read in my chaise lounge enjoying some excellent reads.

And then there was April. The winter chill hung in there battling spring to the point of freezing the birdbath water while daffodils timidly peeped out from their slumber. Then Bam spring jumped right into summer going from 40 degrees to 75 degrees in a matter of days. The weather is consistently inconsistent where I call home. Whether it be cold or hot I manage to find time to read. By the fire in my recliner or lounging in my hammock a book in hand is my favorite way to pass the time.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

image: Amazon

What a treat. Excellent research details along with plausible speculation about historical figures create a read that is both fascinating and informative. Considering this is a story about a horse that the world basically forgot about, it’s surprising how intriguing the story is. Then again not—Brooks is a proven storyteller.

The Blackout Book Club by Amy Lynn Green ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

image: Amazon

As unlikely as it is for a non-reader to become a librarian this is the case for Avis who promises to keep Derby’s library going when her brother leaves to join up in 1942. Avis and other characters tell the story of living in a small coastal American town while the war with Germany heats up.

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

image: Amazon

A curmudgeonly octopus and an elderly Swedish widow plus a thirty year old man baby with a side of Scottish grocery owner walked into a story one day. Yeah, it does sound like a shaggy dog joke about to go down, but all those characters come together for an amazing debut novel.

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

image: Amazon

What a delight. McCall Smith’s retelling of Emma fit exactly my reading needs of something familiar, yet new, like a favorite recipe with an added ingredient to change it a tad. *

*I must confess that I don’t remember reading this adaptation (eight years ago) and went I looked up my review I had not been kind in my remarks, saying the author had taken liberties and was trying too hard to modernize a classic. Sigh—I am mellowing with age it seems.

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Wonderfully fun! It’s surprising this didn’t start a trend. This is a mash up between a graphic novel and a short story. It’s deceptively simple in its plot, yet has all the elements of a deeper novel with the brief tale of a hometown girl who found success and contentment right in her hometown after traveling the world. Lots of name dropping which adds to the charm of Frankie’s story being a bit of a fairy tale.

The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse by Alexander McCall Smith ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

image: Amazon

The Good Pilot is a deceptively layered novel. At first it is a heartwarming story of an English land girl marrying an American pilot, a nice little feel good tale. Then it switches to a different lens, one in which a German soldier does the right thing and saves not only a dog from war’s cruelty by two Americans, one being the American pilot.

And now for April’s reads…

Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz

image: Amazon

Jean Fritz, an award winning writer of historical books for young readers, provides readers with an autobiography that she admits has some fiction added to it to create a story.

It is an engaging story. Born in China, Fritz lived there for a dozen years before her family moved to the United States. Their move coincided with China’s rebellion and at times the family was in danger due to the unrest of the Chinese towards foreigners.

With humor and through the lens of a girl passing from childhood into adulthood, this autobiography is both informative and entertaining.

Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang

image: Amazon

A dynamic, approachable discussion how even the simplest shapes have meaning, projecting emotion and implied motion. Illustration does not have to be drawing, as Molly Bang demonstrates through cut paper shapes.

I’m absolutely not an artist. Even my stick figures are pathetic. However, between reading Frankie Pratt and Molly Bang I’m inspired to try collage as an illustrative method for a couple of my picture book stories. Stay tuned.

The Franchise Affair (Inspector Alan Grant #3) by Josephine Tey

image: Amazon

An unusual plot for Ms. Tey in that her inspector Grant is basically removed from the story and there is no murder in this engaging mystery story.

A teen girl accuses a woman and her elderly mother of kidnapping and beating her and her tale is so convincing that the two women are reviled by the locals. A solicitor takes up their case and becomes an amateur sleuth but discounting the girl’s accusations prove quite challenging.

Josephine Tey, an accomplished mystery writer, provides a tricky tale of accusations against the innocent. The characters and steady pace create a story difficult to set aside.

At present my Goodreads book minder informs me that I am 23 books ahead of schedule having read 54 of my 101 goal for this year. Being retired has absolutely freed up time for reading which I am trying to balance with writing my own books while weeding, dusting, grocery shopping, attending meetings, and tending to my mother. I really should get a t-shirt that states “I’d rather be reading” because that’s my numero uno activity choice.

Until next month. And what was your five star read during March and April? Don’t be shy. We’re all here waiting to discover the next really good read.

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