Thursday, July 4, 2024

Show Us Your Shelf-June

Happy birthday America! I hope you're celebrating this big beautiful country today, and all the freedoms we still enjoy. It's also time for the book link party hosted by Joanne, Marilyn, Tanya, and Jennifer-Show Us Your Shelf. Here's what I read in the month of June-

The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon

Set in 1789 Maine and inspired by the life of Martha Ballard, an 18th-century midwife and healer, The Frozen River is a work of historical fiction billed as a mystery.  

As the Kennebec River begins to freeze, a corpse floats down and becomes trapped in the ice. Martha Ballard, midwife for the town of Hallowell, Maine examines and identifies the body as Joshua Burgess and declares he was murdered. Burgess was involved in a recent town scandal, the rape of Rebecca Foster, the pastor's wife, who named him and a local colonel and judge as her attackers. There are a number of threads to the plot, which are woven together with finesse. The legal system in the 1700's was still figuring things out and much of how justice was served back then was new to me. It added a lot to the tale. 

Each of the novels six parts includes a flashback to a second storyline and the format works really well in this novel. If you like historical fiction I recommend this one. 

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan 

Anthony is a former short story writer who takes comfort in rescuing lost objects and then writing stories about them. He has amassed quite a collection of seemingly meaningless objects, each tagged with time and place details. Laura, a young woman recovering from a painful divorce, answers an ad and becomes Anthony's secretary, and grows to become his very dear friend. Laura is eventually tasked with returning these lost objects to their rightful owners. A second storyline is woven into the tale, and there's a gardener/love interest along with an across the street neighbor with Downs Syndrome, aptly named Sunshine who feature heavily in the Laura plot.

There's a great deal of back and forth with the two storylines, which the reader knows will eventually collide. Probably a bit too much coincidence happening, and there's also an element of 'magic' that isn't appealing to me, but there's a quirkiness to the characters and a certain charm to the storyline that made this a pretty good read. Three stars for me. 

Lies and Weddings by Kevin Kwan

If you enjoyed Kwan's novel (and/or the film based on his earlier novel) Crazy Rich Asians , then you'll probably like this one too, maybe just not quite as much. If you're not familiar with Kwan's style of storytelling it will take a minute to get into, but once you're in you're in. This was an entertaining read, set in the world of the ultra rich and privileged

The future Earl of Greshambury, Rufus Leung Gresham, son of the Earl of Greshambury and a former Hong Kong supermodel is, much to his mother's dismay, in love with the girl next door. The Greshams are throwing an extravagant wedding in Hawaii for their daughter Augie and her Norwegian prince Maxie, when a series of mishaps and outright disasters overwhelm the occasion, leaving the family finances and their reputation in tatters. Rufus is expected to find a wealthy bride and recoup the family fortune. 

Rufus wants nothing more than to live in his surf shack, create his art, and woo Eden, the girl he's loved since childhood. A secret tragedy, hidden for two decades, makes for an interesting twist to the Greshams troubles. 

There are some very unlikable characters in the novel, but they didn't ruin it for me. I especially loved the English country home setting, and while it's all a bit over the top (waaay over the top) this was a fun read. 

Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick

Thinking this one should be required reading for high school seniors or college freshman. Or anyone espousing the notion that communism is a good thing for any society. I am so grateful to live in the land of the free. 

Nothing To Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over a period of fifteen years and gives us a look at what it's like to live under the most repressive regime in the world. No internet connection, for that matter very often no electricity, government only radio and television broadcasting, a police state that rewards neighbors informing on neighbors, and one where a truly innocuous comment can land you in prison (or worse) for life. 

Citizens know only what they hear from their leader which is that everything outside N. Korea is evil, capitalism most of all, and that their government will take care of them. Until it doesn't and they make the decision to flee. Sadly their decisions are not without consequence for the ones left behind. Heartbreaking consequences. This book was haunting, sad, and made me appreciate once again the freedom we have to think, speak, worship, move, and choose in abundance.

Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews

Traci Eddings, a 'townie' who fell in love with, and then married, the son of the owner of a local resort, is now a widow running that same resort, The St. Cecelia. A mix of mystery and beach read the tale follows Traci as she faces numerous challenges in maintaining The Saint's reputation as a five star resort. New information surfaces about a drowning that occurred at the hotel two decades earlier just as a murder occurs on resort property. There's a long list of characters, a love interest, and some truly cringy dialogue, but still an enjoyable summer read. 

So what have you read lately that you loved? 


  1. Looks like some good books! I read a memoir written by a woman who was able to escape North Korea. It was harrowing though it had a good ending for her- but heartbreaking to think of all those left behind. What the woman didn´t know about the West and the lies she´d been told her whole life was incredible. Happy 4th! We are so fortunate to live in the USA!!

  2. I enjoyed both Summers at the Saint and The Frozen River too. My cousin's wife is from China and just hearing stories of what her mother has to go through to visit the U.S is enough to make me happy I live where I do (sadly her brother has never been allowed to visit-- the government is afraid that if her mother and brother visit together [since he's impaired and can't travel on his own] that they will defect).

  3. Sounds like some interesting reads. I agree with you that students today should learn about communism and socialism. So much is left out by deleting history. Nice that stories are still being told. Hope you are enjoying your 4th!

  4. Thanks for the book reviews. I'm not much into novels, but you have done a good job with your descriptions.

  5. I have the Keepers of Lost things on my TBR list.

  6. I have heard good things about Lies and WEddings as it was recommended by Jenna Bush Hager. It is good to hear someone else though review the book. Thanks for linking up with us today!

  7. Cringey dialogue! This is why I can't read her books. The sentences are short and choppy, details are repeated like I'm an idiot, and I just can't! I know I don't read high brow literature, but I do read well-written books that don't do this.

  8. I have the N Korea book on my TBR list, and on the other end of the spectrum, I'm also looking forward to Lies and Weddings. Thanks so much for linking up!

  9. These sound like good reads . . .except the North Korea one. I need to add the others to my list!

  10. I loved The Keeper of Lost Things. I have a new book by the same author on my shelf now as well.