What I’ve Been Reading: Early January Edition

I had some time off over the holiday that extended into January. I used it for sleeping, reading and writing–in that order. A successful stay-cation in my opinion. A very successful one. Here then are the books I began on that vacation and have recently finishd reading.

It was a privilege to meet a young, local author enjoying tremendous success with his debut novel. Sadly I did not get a picture of him, but he was funny and interesting when I met him at Cincinnati’s Books on the Banks 2015. Since his book came out on my birthday, I included it as one of the “gifts” in my mythical TV show gift-a-thon.


David Arnold certainly has a gift for storytelling. This is a road trip book with epic personalities. The trip has it all suspense, joy, anger, elation, sorrow and more.  This is a story of friendship, family, coming-0f-age, learning to take time and not judge and learning to not merely survive, but thrive where you land in life.  If you like John Green, you will certainly like David Arnold. Mostquitoland: A Novel by David Arnold.




Back in the day, when I went off to college, President Regan had not shaken his finger at Mikhail Gorbachev yet so the Berlin Wall was still very, very real. We still guessed at Kremlin hierarchy by the placement of the great ones on the balcony of Lenin’s Mausoleum on each military parade holiday (which would be EVERY Soviet holiday back then). I went off to I.U. to study Russian Language and to major in Political Science and Russian and East European Studies. My goal was the Foreign Service. So, I read a whole lot of political theory–much of it by Karl Marx and Frederich Engles–the two gentlemen much discussed in this gem of a novel.

The book is rightfully about Engles’ common law wife, Lizzie Burns and her sister Mary, from who she inherited Engle’s patronage. I loved it from start to finish. Lizzie’s brutal practicality, coupled with Gavin McCrae’s excellent characterization of all the folks populating this story, made it a marvelous read. I could just see it on P.B.S. Masterpiece–a cheeky Masterpiece to be sure, but oh what fun that would be! While my educational background let me “get” a few more in-jokes, a knowledge of Marx’s theory of historical materialism really isn’t necessary to enjoy this fun romp.  Mrs. Engles by Gavin McCrae. And, Gavin? If you are reading this, that right gorger of a snake? Still giggling.

AfterI almost didn’t read this. Surely it was too soon? But with the movie of Me Before You (link to the book) coming out soon, I wanted to be sure I locked “my” version of these marvelous characters into my brain before seeing the movie. I read Me Before You  (link to my review) last month, this month I moved on to the new sequel, After You. JoJo Moyes is one of those author’s who will retain my loyalty thru my reading of everything she’s published. When I find an author I love, I read all of the books, look for interviews, see the movie–you name it. This is the case here.

After You, is a sequel that people want to pick on–it’s just the nature of it, isn’t it? After all the first volume was so amazingly sweet, wonderful, emotional. Which is why I loved this sequel. It did what it was meant to do–not what the first volume had to do. To say more would be to spoil everything. Don’t worry–JoJo Moyes only writes books worth reading. Allow yourself to be charmed. After You: A Novel by JoJo Moyes.

beachLisa Scottoline and daughter Francesaca Serritella have found a niche that desperately needed filling: fun little essays on life for Moms and Daughters of certain ages. (See my review of another of their collections). They may even have just simply INVENTED this niche–but, whatever! I’m really glad they are here. Their essays revive me, make me laugh and, sometimes, make me think. To put it simply I love them. I’ve said it before, but commuting while listening to this collection is like taking a road trip with two favorite gal-pals, especially a road trip when no one is pretending to be on a diet. These two are that much fun. McDonald’s Chocolate Chip Frappe fun.  We-so-won’t-make-fun-of-you-just- put your-suit-on-and-join-us-on-the-beach-so-we-can-make -fun-of-stick-women-and-ogle-studly-guys-in-Speedos fun. So, if you need a break from angsty-no-one-really-reads-them book club books, grab this one–or any of their other collections–and get ready to nod, laugh out loud and pour more Peach Chardonnay. Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat? by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. You’ll thank me and you’re welcome. P.S. the dogs will thank you, too.  Post in Memory of Mother Mary.


Did you read anything fun, scary, loving, totally new? Leave me a comment with your selections–I love to hear what others are reading.

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