I started this month at an epic scale and ended with the warm bubble bath of a couple of pretty decent cozies. Not a bad balancing act by me, I would say.
Winter of the World: Book 2 of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett. I think I mentioned after the first book that I am making the decision to pace myself with this trilogy. It's really so good that I don't want to run through it too quickly. The other factor is that the twentieth century had some epically grim chapters of human history. Ken Follett skillfully paints these sweeping historical events at a human scale, making them real in a way that facts and figures and historical tomes don't quite convey. At any rate, I don't feel compelled to chew through these stories in quite the same way as I do pure fiction. These stories demand respect and reflection.
The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb. A modern master of the Southern gothic, McCrumb tells the story of the real people and real events behind folk tales and traditional folk songs. This evocative Appalachian ballad novel recounts the origins of the "Greenbrier Ghost," a young woman killed just months after her marriage who subsequently appears to her mother to seek justice. Unlike the Tom Dooley story, this one hadn't been familiar to me before reading. No matter, perhaps even better in some ways. I appreciate as well that the author recounts her historic fact finding in an afterword, so it becomes abundantly clear which elements are historical, which are part of the legend, and which are demanded for a smooth story.
To Helvetica and Back by Paige Shelton. This cozy creates a world that I'd love to live in: a typewriter repair shop plus stationery store run by a grandfather and granddaughter in fictional Star City, Utah. Sure, there are lots of the usual conventions – plucky independent single heroine and a sagacious cat, for a couple – but it avoids the really hacky cliches that tend to irritate me in the genre. Or perhaps I've regained a little more tolerance. Either way, I'll continue to look for other reads by this author when I'm looking for a nice light snack.
Pride v Prejudice by Joan Hess. Not sure where the title comes from for this fun cozy, but Hess never disappoints in terms of an enjoyable, humorous read. Bubble bath for the November-worn soul.
Day Shift by Charlaine Harris. I believe this is the second novel about the denizens of the fictional, weird, tiny hamlet of Midnight, Texas – at least it's the second for me. The first one felt like a TV pilot episode where you see the potential and feel excited for where it could go, but it's not quite there yet and you know it could easily go off the rails. Happily, this cast of characters seems to be finding their feet nicely. There's even some character crossover from Harris' previous Sookie Stackhouse series, which, as my extensive Laverne & Shirley + Happy Days experience as a child tells me could be a delight in small doses. While I'm not rushing to buy the next instalment of these series, I'll certainly snatch it off a library shelf with a quickness.