Review: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown

Title: Modern Girls

Author: Jennifer S. Brown

Publisher: Berkeley Books

Genre: historical fiction

Source: borrowed from Mom

Publication Date: May 1, 2016

Dottie Krasinsky is a modern girl. She’s a bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan who’s just gotten a promotion, has a steady boyfriend, Abe, with whom she’s madly in love, reads all the latest fashion and home magazines, and has a group of girlfriends with whom she regularly socializes. At the same time, she’s a good Jewish daughter to her immigrant parents on the Lower East Side. However, her life is turned upside down when she finds herself pregnant after a drunken night with a charming and totally unsuitable man.

Rose Krasinsky, Dottie’s mother, has had five children and assumes that she’s done. She’s anxious to get back to her own life of social activism. As a young woman, she’d been on the front lines protesting and rabble rousing and, now, with tensions rising in Europe, she’s ready to get back to it. And then, disaster strikes: at forty-two years old, she finds herself pregnant once again.

Both mother and daughter are in impossible situations and have to navigate a changing world, making choices they never thought themselves capable of.

I am so glad I finally read this book. I kept putting it off as my TBR list grew, but I finally made time for it, and it’s really a gem. As a Jewish person removed from my heritage, I like reading about Jewish families and how they navigate the world. This book was rich with descriptions of Sabbath, food, Yiddish terms, and the Jewish immigrant experience. It also explores the differences between the families on the Lower East side and the more wealthy families in Manhattan and how they navigate being Jewish in the modern world.

Beyond the Jewish aspects, it’s just a great story. I really felt for both Dottie and Rose and loved reading their unique perspectives on life in their voices. To Dottie, at the beginning, her mother is quaint and old fashion, very traditional, and living in the past. When you read from Rose’s perspective, though, you see a woman with strong beliefs and passions who is determined to put her stamp on the world and make it a better place. Like Dottie, she views herself as a “modern woman” who is settled in the new world and navigates through with confidence.

Truth be told, I liked reading Rose more than Dottie, although I did enjoy both POVs. Dottie is so headstrong and determined to fix all her mistakes herself. While admirable, she’s also very young and doesn’t always think things through. Rose was more steady and thoughtful in her decision, although she runs into trouble as well. Maybe it’s just my age showing, but I related more to Rose even though I haven’t had five children while living in a two bedroom apartment.

This book has a vivid setting, wonderful characters, and a gripping story. It was hard to put down and kept me engaged the whole way through.

I recommend this one two levels. One, if you’re Jewish or interested in Jewish life, this is a great book to read and a picture of that life. And, two, if you like reading realistic historical books about the 1930s and see a slice of life, as fraught as it is, then you’d like this book a lot.

Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 Books I Need to Read in 2020

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is Top 5 Books I need to read in 2020. I’m insanely pressed for time this morning, so I’m doing the short version.

It was hard getting this list down to just five! There are so many books from last year that I still need to read, and so many more coming out this year that I’m dying to read. But these are my top five.

What are some of your must read books this year? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Review: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Title: The Vampire Lestat

Author: Anne Rice

Publisher: Balltaine Books

Genre: paranormal, vampires

Source: library

Publication Date: 1985

The vampire Lestat, the villain from Interview with the Vampire, is back and ready to tell his side of the story. Rising from his grave after being drawn by the irresistible music of the age, he decides to flaunt all the rules that he’s learned about being a vampire and expose the supernatural to the human world. He joins a band and writes an autobiography, detailing his long life of looking for love and answers in the world.

So, going into this book, I remembered three things:

  1. Lestat’s mom tells him that sometimes she thought about letting the men in town bang her.
  2. After they were both vampires, they kissed and shared blood.
  3. Louis was wearing a sweater when he and Lestat met again.

So, I didn’t remember much (and have no idea why the detail of the sweater stood out so much to me). Two of those things happened fairly quickly, and I reread the rest of the book almost totally unspoiled. I really liked it and like Lestat better than I ever did before. I still prefer Louis, and I loved him in this book. I really wish the rest of the book were nothing but the love affair of Louis and Lestat, which is funny because I never shipped them as a teenager.

I really like vampire history, and this book had it in spades. I enjoyed the creation of the Theater of the Vampires, but more than that, I liked the history that Marius told of the first vampires. I remember enough of Queen of the Damned to know what was true and wasn’t, but it was cool reading his version again.

The only part when I started to get lost was when Lestat was writing the story that Marius had been told by Mael. I seriously don’t like stories of stories of stories. I want less narrators in the way. But when Marius took over again, it was okay again and I read the last part of the book with a lot of interest.

I really enjoyed this reread, and wish I didn’t have so many books to read before I could get to the next (and, for me, final) book of the series.

I do recommend this if you like vampires and want to read a classic in vampire mythology.

Weekly Wrap-up | January 12, 2020

Wow! This was a super busy week! I barely even had time to sit down in the evenings, much less read. My poor cat was desperate for affection and whenever I was sitting down, plopped on me for cuddles. Sadly, I was only able to give him a few minutes of them before I was up and rushing to whatever I had to do next. I did managed to get some reading and cuddling in yesterday, though, so we’re all good. With any luck, this week won’t be quite as busy and I can get back to my regular schedule of cat-cuddles and reading.

Monday: Atomic Habits by James Clear (review)

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Beyond the Grave by C.J. Archer (review)

Monday: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Need to Read in 2020

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown (review)

Friday: TBD

Saturday: TBD

How was your week? Also, is anyone actually interested in my Saturday Snippets, or should I stop posting? Have a great week!

Review: Beyond the Grave by C.J. Archer

Title: Beyond the Grave

Author: C.J. Archer

Publisher: ?

Genre: paranormal romance, mystery

Source: library (audio book)

Publication Date: November 24, 2015

When her stepson goes missing, Lady Hartcourt asks Lincoln to investigate. Even though she’s supposed to be recovering from her ordeal at the hands of a madman, Charlie throws herself into the investigation. Inadvertently, she raises the spirit of a woman who has the ability to override Charlie’s control over her. Now, a spirit is loose in London, Lincoln is furious, and the Ministry is becoming increasingly disapproving of Charlie’s presence in Lychfield. To top it off, Lincoln continues to run hot and cold with his feelings for Charlie, much to her ever increasing exasperation. But when the investigation begins to reveal the darker side of London, one that even Charlie had never known, she and Lincoln find themselves united.

At first, I was very frustrated with this book. The last one ended in an entirely satisfying way for my romantic heart, only to immediately have it dashed by this one. Charlie and I were both bewildered and frustrated by Lincoln’s pig-pigheadedness and stupidity. I had a hard time enjoying it at the beginning.

However, once Charlie began investigating and exploring the dark underbelly of the medical scene in London, it got much more interesting. I loved that she met the spirit of a woman who was competent and smart and who knew a little more about her powers than Charlie did.

The mystery was well done as well. Lady Hartcourt’s stepson goes missing and it seems like it has something to do with the Ministry of Curiosities, since he’d been reading his father’s journals on it. The investigation is complex and requires Lincoln and Charlie to use all their wits to figure it out. I was completely lost for much of it, which made it lots of fun.

The ending was also very satisfying. It calls on one of my favorite tropes, which I can’t tell because it would be a spoiler, but was amazing. I can’t wait to read the next book.

I highly recommend this whole series. Charlie is a wonderful protagonist, her romance with Lincoln is tense and romantic, and the characters are colorful and fun. Please pick it up if you get a chance.

WWW Wednesday – Jan. 8, 2020

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are invited to answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

So, this week is bumping along for me. I’m back to work and back to my writing routine, which means I’m up at 4:30 so I can get my journaling and breakfast done and start writing for an hour at 5:30 and still get to work on time. Basically, it means I’m exhausted today. But that’s okay, because my coffee will wake me up and everything will be great. Really.

Onto the meme.

Currently reading:

I’m finally reading The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, which I’ve been wanting to read forever. I’m not very far in yet, but I’m enjoying what I”m reading so far. I really like Celine and her spunk.

I’ve also started The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. It’s interesting, but kind of dry and not as readable as Atomic Habits and The Power of Habits were.

I’m listening to The Self-Care Solution by Dr. Jennifer Ashton, because I”m a sucker for books where someone does a series of month-long challenges. So far, it’s good. Dr. Ashton is narrating and she’s a lively narrator that keeps the pace flowing.

Recently finished:

I finished The Vampire Lestast on New Year’s day, which killed me because I really wanted to finish it last year. But, instead of staying home on New Year’s Eve and reading, I went to a party, which was only okay. The food was good, but some of the people were really crabby and I think I would have had more fun reading. Anyway, I really liked the book and can’t wait to read Queen of the Damned, which I got at a book sale for fifty cents.

I also finished reading Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown. It’s about a mother and daughter in 1935 who both find themselves pregnant at the same time, much to both their dismay. The book is how the deal with their problems and how they grow together while, at the same time, growing apart. It was very good, but sad.

Reading Next:

The only book I know for sure I’ll be reading next is The Chosen by Chaim Potok. It’s for my Jewish book club and as I didn’t read any of the books last year, I figure I should make more of an effort this year. (For the record… no one else read anything, either. It’s kind of a “book” club.)

What are you reading this week?

Review: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Title: Atomic Habits

Author: James Clear

Publisher: Avery

Genre: self-improvement

Source: bookstore

Publication Date: October 18, 2018

Making new habits and breaking old ones come down to a simple idea in James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits: clear systems. If your habits are bad, it’s because your systems are bad. Clear walks through the four laws that define habit building: make it obvious, make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying. He also explores the inverse of each law and gives actionable examples of how to set the laws in motion to change your systems. After all, as he posits, greatness doesn’t come from making huge sweeping changes, but becoming 1% better in your life. Every time you improve by 1%, it builds until you have something great.

I highly enjoyed this book and found it very informative. Like The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Clear breaks a habit down into cue >routine>reward. However, I found Atomic Habits more actionable with clearer steps as to how to start building new habits and breaking old ones. I like his idea that you only have to get 1% better in every aspect of your life instead of having to go whole hog as well. In addition, the book was easy to read and written in an almost conversational style. The stories and examples he told were straight and to the point and clearly connected to the law he was expounding on. I also liked that he mixed up building new habits with breaking bad ones and clearly showed how good and bad habits were mirrored.

I highly recommend this book. With the new year, it’s the perfect time to start looking at what you want to change in your life and this book will help map out a road map to do that. It’s well written, engaging, interesting, and illuminating. Atomic Habits is a wonderful read.

2019 Wrap-Up

Wow, what a year! I read more books this year than I think I have in my adult life, and it was wonderful. I started this blog and have managed to keep up posing regularly, for the most part. In July, I took my dream vacation to British Columbia and kayaked with killer whales. I finished writing a book and started another. I won NaNoWriMo my first time out. So, yeah. It was a great year.

Stats:

I read 120 books (my goal was 100).

For the genres, you can see the table below.

Genre
Fiction39
Non-Fiction8
Science Fiction4
Fantasy22
Mystery14
M/M Historical10
M/M Contemporary4
Book Club0
Self-Help14
M/F Romance4

My page breakdown was as follows:

Genre (Pages)
Fiction11593
Non-Fiction2751
Science Fiction969
Fantasy8917
Mystery4851
M/M Historical2033
M/M Contemporary1304
Book Club0
Self-Help2558
M/F Romance1359

The format of my books were:

Format
Hardcover37
Trade Paperback21
Mass Market5
ebook35
Audio14
Uncorrected Proof6
Audio14
Graphic Novel1

Age group breakdown:

Age Group
Adult72
YA44
Middle Grade2
Kids1

Books per month:

Books/Month
Jan7
Feb2
Mar20
Apr15
May18
Jun11
Jul11
Aug7
Sep5
Oct6
Nov6
Dec11

Pages per month:

Pages/Month
Jan2298
Feb623
Mar7013
Apr4649
May5905
Jun3264
Jul3002
Aug1828
Sep1333
Oct1693
Nov1789
Dec2938
Avg. Pages/Month3028
Total36335

The Longest book I read:

Shortest book:

(I think I forgot to put this book on my spreadsheet; Goodreads says I read 120 books and my spreadsheet 119. I think this is the book missing).

And that’s my year in reading! The spreadsheet I used to track my reading was created by Brock Roberts. I found it really fun to fill out and go over the data as I progressed through the year.

What were some of your reading wins this year?

Review: Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have journeyed to America. They are swept into murder investigations that seem to echo the Ripper murders. After a personal disaster that threatens their relationship, Audrey Rose and Thomas find evidence that the person they are looking for is in Chicago. They go to the Great White City and are swept away by the beauty and wonder of the World’s Fair. That wonder is quickly dimmed when reports of missing women and unsolved murders reach their ears. Soon, they are entangled in the most terrifying investigation of their lives and Audrey Rose finds herself in terrible danger.

This was such a great conclusion to this series. I loved every bit of the murder investigation and the tangled web in which Audrey Rose found herself trapped in. I continue to love her and Thomas’s relationship and the way it was resolved. There were parts in this book where I wasn’t thrilled how the events unfolded, but it all turned out satisfactorily.

Without getting into spoilers, I was amazed at the historical research that went into the book. Not just this one, but all the books. They were connected in ways that I hadn’t been aware of, and it not only makes me want to reread the series, but read some books on the ultimate perpetrator behind the crimes.

Kerri Maniscalco is masterful in writing truly gruesome and horrifying scenes that ground the reader in the place in a way that thrills. She has created really enduring characters and the a very sweet, if unconventional love story. Capturing the Devil is an epic conclusion to a wonderful story.

I would not recommend reading Capturing the Devil first, but if you’ve read the rest of the series, you need to run to your local library or bookstore and get this book ASAP. It’s incredibly well done.

WWW Wednesday | January 1, 2020

OMG, it’s a new year! Welcome to 2020 everyone! I have to say, overall 2019 treated me well. I got to go on my dream vacation, I kicked depression to the curb (for now), and I started this blog. So, go me!

Today, I’m doing WWW Wednesday, which is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Participants are invited to answer 3 questions each week:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading?

I had so hoped to have finished The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice yesterday. It was totally doable, but instead of staying in to read, I went to a New Year’s Eve party. I kind of wish I hadn’t for various reasons, but the result is I did not finish one last book before the New Year. So, I’ll finish it today.

Recently finished?

I got Atomic Habits by James Clear the day after Christmas and tore through it. It was really well written and very actionable. Then, I finished On Writing by Steven King, which was a great book. Finally, I finished listening to Beyond the Grave by C.J. Archer, which started off by frustrating me, but ended with me being completely satisfied. Then, I found out there are three more books in the series and the library doesn’t own them, so I’m back to being frustrated.

Reading next?

First up, I’m going to read Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown, which I was supposed to start last week, but left at home when I went to my parents. Next, it’s The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh, because I’ll need more vampires. And, finally, I’ll start The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, because, as you might have noticed, I’m very interested in habits.

What are you reading this week?