What I read
I’ve had some pretty good luck lately waiting out Amazon emails for Kindle deals. Day after day they show up in my inbox. And day after day I drag them to the trash. But those algorithms must snoop around in my Wishlist because every now and then they throw out an amazing deal. One of my want-to-reads for only 1.99? 4.99? Yes, please. The secret is in the waiting. Gentleman In Moscow has been on my Amazon Wishlist for a couple years, and while it was frequently featured in those promo emails a few dollars under the list price, I wait for the real deals. In the past month I was able to purchase A Gentleman In Moscow and The Overdue Life of Amy Byler–each, I think at $4.99.
Gentleman was everything I’d heard it to be and more. In 1922 Count Alexander Rostov’s property is reclaimed for the People and he is placed under house arrest courtesy of the Bolsheviks; the Metropol, that grande dame of a Moscow hotel, becomes his home for the next thirty years. His freedom and privilege stripped, Rostov moves to an attic room that has room for a bed and a desk and not much more. But oh, what a life he lives. The companionship and dear friends he makes. The daughter he adopts. The food! The wine! The work in which he finds solace. In so many ways the novel reminded me of the forced isolation of this past year–and Rostov’s equanimity makes me blush when compared to my own reactions during 2020’s restrictions. This was one book that I wish went on and on and on.
Kelly Harms’s Overdue Life of Amy Byler got a favorable review in Bookmarks and I’ve never been led astray by their recommendations. This was no exception and while I have some reservations, they are petty. Amy Byler’s almost ex-husband, three years gone, shows up on her doorstep one day and wants to make amends to their two children, 12 and 15-years-old. Amy has been the quintessential single mom, keeping her household running, working long hours, and, above all, making sure her kids are living their best life. (Or, as best as she can provide.) That also means Amy hasn’t seen the inside of a hair salon or a clothing store (other than Target) for all three of those years. Resisting the suggestion that Mr. Ex takes the kids for a week to reconnect, she gives in and sets off to a librarian’s conference in New York City. And that’s where the fun begins. There’s professional acclaim! A new friend! A love interest! Makeover! Sounds like a made-for-TV movie or a Amy Poehler romcom, right? I almost felt as if the author intended for it to be made into a movie. (Maybe that’s a thing with young authors today?) But don’t get me wrong. This was a fun read. And Harms got so much of Mom Life right it hurt. So enjoy–but fine literature it is not.
There’s always a clunker, though, except this one was all on me. I saw $1.99 for Chasing Fireflys–something about a journalist–something about uncovering the mystery of an abused and abandoned young boy. The cover was pretty. Good enough to give a try, for sure. And in many ways, the plot was worth the read. The characters were engaging. The writing was fine. But. Ugh. I didn’t look at the publisher until very near the end when a dying character whispered, “Baptize me …” and I muttered, “What the heck?!” Actually, I said something a little more salty, but it wouldn’t be appropriate considering the publisher was Thomas Nelson. Yep. Contemporary Christian fiction through and through. So suddenly the “fallen” woman drawn with sharp lines (adult film industry, drug use, AIDS) made sense. The two brothers–stand-ins for Jacob and Esau–made sense. Unc’s incessant moralizing–yep, it made sense, too. *sigh* The Christianizing was so heavy handed as to be off-putting. So buyer beware!
UPDATE 4/1: Maybe Amazon reads my blog, too?! Yesterday I got another TBR title from my wishlist for only $4.99–The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, who wrote the incredible Room.
What I lived
I clearly have a mouse infestation at my house!
I’ve polished off several of these little guys in the past week and a half and I am in love with the bright colors. What do you think? My favorite critter maker (as I’ve said on this blog more than a few times) is Ann Wood. You can read her blog and shop her wares at Ann Wood Handmade. The woman is truly an artist. I am a stitcher, no more. But stitching soothes my soul and makes my heart sing–and that’s all the justification I need.
And because Easter is only a few days away, I thought a few Tiny Bunnies might be a nice twist on Tiny Mice. I took some leftover wood-grained fabric I bought long ago in a fabric bundle (and hid it because I thought it was gawd-awful ugly) Modge Podged it on a tissue roll and voila! A stump for a bunny home. These will be sent along in the car with three of my Littles who are traveling to Wisconsin this weekend. (No worries. Bunny #3 is in the works …)