Saturday, December 29, 2018

Late December Update and Mini-Reviews


December is nearly over, and it's been quite a month. The girls were home for the holidays, my sister-in-law stayed with us for several days, and we hosted or attended family gatherings galore. It was wonderful!

I'm still recovering from a bad cold and bronchitis, which I unfortunately shared with my husband. We had planned to leave for Florida today, but with neither of us feeling 100%, it's taking longer to get Christmas put away and pack for the trip. We're hoping to hit the road early New Years Day.

Before I post my 2018 wrap-up and favorites, I want to tell you about my final few books of the year. I still may finish my current read, Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny, over the weekend though...


The Dukes's Children by Anthony Trollope

It's taken two years, but I've finally finished the Palliser series! The Duke's Children was a fitting conclusion to Trollope's grand story, though I was particularly disappointed in the fate of one character. As always, I approached this long classic as a read/listen combination. I began reading the newly restored edition, which contains 200 pages previously cut by the publishers. Unfortunately, there is no restored audio edition so, after much frustration, I switched to the standard/free ebook.

The Duke's Children is described as "a compelling exploration of wealth, pride and ultimately the strength of love." It was easily a 4-star read for me, despite the fate of the above-mentioned character... and Simon Vance's annoying and overly sharp American accent.

Overall, I much prefer the Barsetshire Chronicles and would love to reread that series one day. But in 2019, it's time to move on to Trollope's stand-alone novels... possibly beginning with Rachel Ray  or Miss Makenzie.

Finally, I want to thank my intrepid reading companion, Audrey, for sharing this Trollopian adventure with me. I've enjoyed our #PalliserParty so much and am already looking forward to the next project... whatever it might be.



Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

It's a story we've all read before. Husband dies suddenly and tragically; grieving family discovers his alternate, secret life. To be honest, I almost set this novel aside at 25%... but then somehow Elin Hilderbrand (or maybe the tropical vibe) managed to suck me in.

Set in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as opposed to her usual Nantucket, Winter in Paradise is the first in what will be a series of three books. As expected, this episode ends with a cliffhanger of sorts, begging the reader to turn the page... but we'll have to wait until next year. It's a far cry from the Quinn family of the Winter series, but I'll likely return for more.




Improvement by Joan Silber

I loved this book! In fact, Joan Silber is one of my favorite author discoveries of 2018. Improvement is actually a collection of short stories... connected, but only tangentially. They take the reader from New York City, to Turkey and Germany, and, when woven together, form something unique and beautiful. I look forward to reading more of this author. Thank you, Amy, for the recommendation.



I hope you've managed to find time to read during this busy season, too. What book will carry you into the New Year?

34 comments:

  1. Sorry you and your husband are feeling bad. The Hildebrand and Silber books look sound good. I love the photo of the snow and lake!

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    1. Vicki - We are slowly improving. I'm sure the Florida sun will cure us completely.. can't wait to get there!

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  2. Hope you feel better so that you enjoy the trip more. I've always liked Trollope myself. This one is new to.me.

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    1. Mystica - Trollope is one of my favorites! The Duke's Children is the last book in a long series, so probably not one most people read ;-)

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  3. December's been crazy for us, too. We still have company so I haven't had a chance to dismantle Christmas.

    I hope y'all feel better and have a safe trip to Florida.

    Hilderbrand is hit or miss for me so I think I'll skip that one.

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    1. Kathy - Having company definitely prolongs the holiday season! I think you can safely skip this Hilderbrand title...

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  4. I don't know why Trollope's series take so long to finish because I really love his books. I'm have one last book to go in the Barsetshire series. Trollope has so many novels; he'll keep you busy for awhile!

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    1. Cleo - I loved the Barsetshire series... you're in for a wild ride with The Last Chronicle of Barset! I'm thankful Trollope was so prolific... may never run out of new books to discover :)

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  5. I'm finishing all my current reads. Usually have a poetry, essay, audio, novel and a daily meditation book going. I'm down to the daily meditation. Will begin a new daily and all new in the other categories after the first of the year. Next novel? Fruit of the Drunken Tree. I think. Might change my mind by the 1st. So goes that selection process.

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    1. Midlife Roadtripper - I want to finish Standard Deviation today or tomorrow so I can start fresh on New Years, too. The selection process is half the fun... Fruit of the Drunken Tree sounds good. My daughter gave me a copy of the new RBG biography, so I'll be starting that. Probably. ;-)

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  6. I hope you are both healthy! I am listening to Fear by Bob Woodward and it is messing up all of my happy holiday vibes.

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    1. Stacy - Oh, dear... I can see how Fear could mess up those holiday vibes. Not sure I'm up for that right now. It sounds just plain scary :(

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  7. My pleasure! Glad you enjoyed the Silber!

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    1. Amy - Have you read any her other books? I'd like to try another this year.

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    2. Yes, I've read The Size of the World and Ideas of Heaven, and loved both of them.

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    3. Amy - Thanks, I'll see if they're available at my library.

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  8. It's me who is thanking you! I agree with you about the Barchester Chronicles...but this has all been so much fun. (I didn't read any of the restored edition, so I'm just going to think that Mr. T relented about Mabel in the end...) Wishing you the happiest of new years, and hoping that you're both feeling better soon.

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    1. Audrey - It's been quite a ride, hasn't it? I read somewhere that the ending of the restored edition is slightly different... think I'll have to look into that. Happy New Year to you, too!

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  9. Congratulations on finishing the Palliser books. I also preferred the Barsetshire Chronicles but I thought that Palliser was great in its own way, So far as for Trollope's stand alone novels I have read The Fixed Period and The Way we Live Now. I found that both were worth reading. I plan on continuing reading the stand alone and I hope to get to both Miss Mckenzie and Rachel Ray.

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    1. Brian - I'm so glad Trollope was such a prolific author! I will read The Way We Live Now eventually, but think I'll start with one of his (slightly) shorter stand-alines ;-)

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  10. I had bronchitis over Thanksgiving, which lingered on - so you have my full sympathy!

    I realized that I have not ready ANY Trollope this year! I can't think the last time that happened. You and Audrey have inspired me to re-read The Duke's Children, and I've also browsed the Trollope TBR section. Ralph the Heir looks the fattest :)

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    1. Lisa - No Trollope?! I'm surprised! Now that I've completed both series, it would be good to read at least one every year. This bronchitis has hung on for a couple of weeks now, so it can't last much longer... I hope. Seems like a particularly nasty strain that's hitting people this year.

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  11. Aw JoAnn, sounds like you have had a wonderful time of the festive period, but I am sorry to hear you and your husband have been unwell. I hope you both feel better soon. The book carrying me over into 2019 is Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley.

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    1. Jessica - It has been a wonderful holiday season despite the lingering sickness. I love all the time we've been able to spend with the family. My mother is a fan of Susanna Kearsley (I think she's read Bellewether)... hope you are enjoying your first book of 2019.

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  12. Hope you and your hubby feel much better and can start on your FL trek soon. I've thought about reading Winter in Paradise, but the hold list at my library has been very long. It's gotten shoved back on my list. One day perhaps. Glad you had a nice holiday time and hope you enjoy your FL time as well.

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    1. Kay - It feels like we're finally both getting better, so we should be able to start our journey Tuesday morning. I wouldn't be in a big hurry to get to Winter in Paradise... it's entertaining, but not worth going out of your way to read.

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  13. I hope you and your husband felt much better to start heading out to Florida today. Congratulations on completing your reading project! And, the Joan Silber really interests me so I must add that one to my list.

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    1. Iliana - We're finally here in Florida! I'm mostly recovered and my husband is just about there, too. I'm going to be reading mud more by Joan Silber.

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  14. Happy New Year! I'm sorry to hear that you've been sick and how awful to have shared it with your husband. I hope you will be able to head down to Florida soon.

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    1. Katherine - We're finally here in Florida and feeling better! I'm hoping to have an update soon :)

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  15. I'm glad you are feeling better and able to enjoy your first few days in Florida without feeling miserable. I look forward to seeing all your wonderful beach photos on IG. Happy New Year!

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    1. Les - It's SO good to be back! I walked and listened to my audiobook this morning and we had my FIL over for dinner tonight... slowly setting back into a routine. Happy 2019 to you, too :)

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    2. I'll bet you're in heaven, walking on the beach, relaxing in the warmth of the sun! I'm happy for you! I WILL get to Sanibel one day!

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    3. Les - I'll be looking forward to that day!

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