A good book is like water and air to me…it gives me life and keeps me sane! I read a LOT and when I finish a good book, I first mourn the ending of the story and the friendships I feel I developed with the characters. Then, I want to share it with all my friends and family so they too, can go on a journey with the characters I’ve just fallen in love with. Today, I share my two favorite reads from this month!
China Dolls (by Lisa See)
China Dolls was the book selected for my book club this month and I loved it! Reviews from others were mixed, but I really enjoyed it. The main storyline is set in the late 1930s – mid 1940s in San Francisco at the Forbidden City nightclub. Three young women, Helen, Ruby, and Grace are from vastly different backgrounds, yet form an unusual friendship and bond. They first meet while auditioning for dancing spots at the soon-to-be opened nightclub called the Forbidden City. All three pass the rigorous auditions and what follows is a tumultuous, yet exciting period that will stay with them forever. The paths they traveled to get there and the paths they each seek to follow from there are quite varied and lead to conflict and tests to their friendships along the way.
As we join them on their journey, we are walked through some painful times in our history. Since I love historical aspects to my readings, I loved this part of the book. I loved “seeing” the Forbidden City rise to the forefront of the San Francisco night scene (this was a real club back in the day!) and also to get a glimpse behind the closed doors. While shocking to read of the details of the Japanese internment camps, it was enlightening to read this level of history. I remember learning about them in school, but not the details, so this was rather eye-opening.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t sure if that would be the case when I first downloaded it to my Nook, but once I started reading it, I couldn’t wait to dive back in each day to see what would happen next. I hear Lisa See’s other books are even better, so I will be adding some of those to my ‘must read’ list!!
From the Charred Remains (by Susanna Calkins)
From the Charred Remains is the followup to a book I read last month – A Murder at Rosamund’s Gate. As soon as I saw a sequel was available to that book, I couldn’t download it fast enough! Like the first book, this is set in late 1600’s London and picks up right where the other book left off. We start off right after the Great Fire of 1666 has ended, the Plague that swept through London for over a year has finally come to an end, and London is in the early stages of rebuilding itself. Lucy Campion, the main character, is a Lady’s maid for the a magistrate and his family. Unfortunately, [spoiler alert for the first book!] since the Lady of the house perished during the plague, Lucy is missing a purpose in her placement at the magistrate’s house. The magistrate, however, views her as family and has no problems with her staying on, but Lucy feels out of place and seeks out other employment (while remaining friends with the family and staff).
In the first book, she was bitten by the detective bug while helping to solve the murder for which her brother was wrongly accused. In this book, she is drawn into a new case after discovering a body during the cleanup efforts after the Great Fire. She begins helping the Constable in the detective work, despite his initial misgivings, but soon sees how valuable she is to the investigation! Throughout the book, we follow along as she gets herself into some mischief in her quest to solve the crime.
As with the first book, I loved this story and the characters. I think her position in the family is somewhat unrealistic, but it is enjoyable to read and you can’t help but cheer her on because she’s so lovable! I found it very interesting to see how a criminal investigation was carried out long before forensics was discovered. I’m sure it is quite fictionalized, yet I doubt it’s too far off base! I don’t know how they convicted anyone back then and I can only imagine how many people were wrongly accused and condemned for crimes they didn’t commit!
It was a bit of a busy month, so I didn’t get as many books read as I normally do, but I am in the midst of a really good one right now, so I can’t wait to share that one with you next month! In the meantime, today, I will be pulling out all of the holiday decorations in prep for decorating the house tomorrow and getting all Christmas-y! I can’t WAIT! I love having all the decorations out and having the house so festive! How can you be in anything but a fantastic mood with all the lights and decorations!
Whatever you may be up to this weekend, I hope you are enjoying some time with family and friends as we, officially, embark upon the Christmas season!
But, before we go…have you read any good books lately? Feel free to share in the comments below! I LOVE hearing about good books!
If you’ve missed any of my prior book reports, just check out my full book report page to see everything on the list!