Thursday, November 30, 2017

Novemer wrap-up and plans for December


Middlemarch. Still, always, feels like I've been reading it forever. I like it though. I also had the good fortune to score a galley of Chris Bohjalian's forthcoming novel, The Flight Attendant, which I loved. (I haven't posted about it yet because it won't be published until March, so I'm trying to hold off until a little closer to that time.)

Reading Challenge List: Nothing.

CBAM: Nothing. This month's book is The Brothers Karamazov, which I read in college and liked but don't need to read again. Especially while I'm reading Middlemarch.

Romance: I read both The Proposal by Mary Balogh and Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai, both of which were quite good and rather different from other romances I've read.

Nonfiction: I'm having a sudden burst of wanting to just read all the nonfiction, so I grabbed a few different ones from the library. I just finished Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, which was fascinating and horrifying.


Someone got a new winter coat.

Last month I started listening to the new Pink album, Beautiful Trauma, and I haven't stopped yet. Now I have tickets to see her perform in April!

While waiting for the new season of the podcast By the Book, I decided to go back and listen to more episodes of Invisibilia, a fascinating podcast about human behavior and psychology. 

My only audiobook this month was The Power by Naomi Alderman, which was excellent.


The Good Place! And as much as I was never interested in The Great British Baking Show, I impulsively watched an episode and now I'm hooked on that. And I want to bake all the things, but my oven is being kind of a jerk these days.


My tv-watching is ramping up a bit, which is great for my knitting. I've made a lot of progress on the front of my sweater. I haven't done a knitting post in a while - sorry! Hopefully I'll get it together to do one soon.

I also started a new cross stitch project, but I can't do that while watching tv. I worked on it a bit while listening to The Power and some of my podcasts. 


Everything, all the things, all the time. The month culminated with Thanksgiving, so. Our was very low-key. Eric cooked and one of my friends came over so it was just the three of us. We managed to eat a lot of food and drink a lot of wine. A couple of days before I tried to bake cookies for one of our desserts and managed to both burn and undercook them at the same time. (Mary Berry would have been so disappointed.) I mean, we ate them anyway, because cookies.


Owl Incognito by Ohotaq Mikkigak

A rather exciting local election took place, and I was a bit focused on that early in the month. It turned out quite well for my candidates!

We had some work done at our house, including getting new front steps and a new retaining wall in the backyard so the neighbor's house won't slide down the hill into our yard. Yay, masonry!

I visited the Museum of Fine Arts for the first time in quite a while. I really need to not go so long between visits again. One of the major exhibits right now is art by Takashi Murakami, which was great, but I also really enjoyed a small exhibit of Inuit Art. The photo to the right is a piece from that exhibit.

Plans for December

We're going to Maine this coming weekend to have Thanksgiving with my family because this is the weekend that people have off from work.

I'm going to see a stage production of Sense and Sensibility a couple of days before Christmas and I haven't read the book so I'm hoping to do so before the show.

Classic Book a Month Club is reading Wuthering Heights, which I'd love to re-read, but I'm honestly not sure that will happen either.

Sometime soon I'll be posting my 2018 TBR Pile Challenge list, which I'm very excited about! This challenge is hosted by Roof Beam Reader, and he hasn't done it the past couple of years. I've done it on my own, but it's not the same so I'm very happy it's an official challenge again in 2018!

Pitch Perfect 3 will be coming out at the end of the month, so I'll be going to see that with some friends. Super exciting!

And of course, I plan to do a lot of my annual end-of-the-year lamenting about how I didn't achieve even one of my goals and what the heck am I doing with my life, and how can I be better person next year, etc. So stay tuned for my December wrap-up!

How was your November?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week is all about our winter TBR lists. And when you've greatly restricted your use of a TBR list as I have, there's nothing more fun than permission to make one.

Here are the books I'm most looking forward to reading this winter:

1. The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

2. A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara

3. Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson

4. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty

5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

6. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

7. Longbourn by Jo Baker

8. Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor 

9. In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

10. The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

Some of these are on my 2018 TBR Pile Challenge list which I'll be posting sometime soon, once it's finalized. (Roof Beam Reader is hosting again, so I don't need to do it on my own this year!) I'm hoping to start Sense and Sensibility sometime very soon because I have tickets to see a stage adaptation of it the weekend just before Christmas. My book group at work is reading Allegedly, I think for January. Others are just books I've been wanting to read, some of which just came out recently.

What are your winter reading plans?

Friday, November 24, 2017

Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (2017)

In an unspecified country, Saeed and Nadia meet and begin seeing each other as war closes in around them. But there are rumors of doors appearing that will take you far away to other countries, if you can find someone you can pay for the privilege of using one. They finally decide it's worth the risk, and they leave everything behind and step through, not knowing where they'll end up.

Where they land initially is Mykonos, in Greece, but it's not their last stop. Wherever there are doors, there are refugees like themselves trying to escape their homelands in search of a better life. Migrant communities rise up around the world, shifting the population and creating lots of competition for housing. As Saeed and Nadia navigate this new landscape, they initially grow closer and think of themselves as married, but as time goes on and their environments change, so do they, and both must think about what future they want.

Hamid's book is very short and I read it in just two days. The writing is lovely, and though filled with many lengthy comma-laden sentences, is rather easy to read. It's not especially detailed or descriptive, but just enough to give it a bit of atmosphere. I'm definitely left with questions about the doors and the ways they've changed the world, but the story here is really about the relationship between Saeed and Nadia. Even here, I felt like I was just scraping at the surface of these characters; I did get a good sense of their relationship, which was the point, but we don't get a lot of details about their characters' inner lives, past experiences, quirks, or internal struggles. They seem real enough, but like people you're seeing at a bit of distance. This really isn't a criticism, as these are all stylistic choices, but I think it's worth mentioning that this book isn't as meaty as my usual fare.

As I mentioned, the doors were never explained, and that's ok. What we know is that they began appearing at some point, and continued to appear (or be found) for a while at least and seemed to be permanent once they appeared. The result was essentially an opening of all borders, which is fascinating to think about. Of course people left the war-torn areas and went to more stable and wealthy areas, causing quite a shift in population. The doors that were found would quickly be taken over and guarded, and whether or not they could be accessed depended on who was guarding them. I wish we got more about the results of these population shifts, but if all my questions were answered this would have been a much longer and completely different book and I don't think I'd actually want that.

Exit West was a nice little break from my usual kind of reading, but I'm not sure if I'll remember it at all six months from now. However, I did quite like the short time I spent reading it.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hate To Want You

Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai (2017)

Livvy and Nicholas are descended from the Chandler and Kane families, who used to own a grocery store empire together. But when a tragic accident killed Livvy's father and Nicholas's mother - who were inexplicably in a car together that night - that came to an end. Nicholas's father forced Livvy's mother to take a buyout for her husband's half of the business, giving her a raw deal. Then the store burned down and Livvy's twin brother Jackson was implicated, though never charged. Nicholas's father told him he had to break up with Livvy. But for ten years, they continued to see each other in secret once a year, just for sex, no strings attached. Now that Livvy has returned to town temporarily to take care of her mother, all the old wounds threaten to open up again.

Livvy hasn't been back home in years, hasn't seen her twin brother in years, hasn't had a proper conversation with Nicholas since they broke up, despite their yearly sex date. As if the original tragedy weren't enough, Livvy's brother Paul - married to Livvy's best friend Sadia - died a year ago. There is a lot of tragedy in this story, a lot of suppressed emotions, and issues left undealt with for years.

Livvy's grandfather who co-founded the grocery store was Japanese and he ended up in an internment camp during World War II. During that time, all the family's valuables were held by the Chandler family. This history not only added more interest (not to mention ethnic diversity) but it added even more depth to the complicated relationship between the two families. The characters were also diverse in that Livvy's widowed sister-in-law is bisexual and her aunt's great love was also a woman, but neither of these are made a big deal, they are just mentioned casually in passing.

I haven't even mentioned Livvy and Nicholas's relationship itself. They once had a traditional relationship, but once they had to break up and got together only annually on Livvy's birthday for sex, they stayed emotionally detached. I mean, not really, but they didn't talk or anything. They always got together in a different city, wherever Livvy was at the time. She was a tattoo artist, and of course there's meaning behind each of her own tattoos, which we eventually find out about. Once they're in the same town again, it becomes very difficult to maintain the same sort of relationship, which of course is a great thing because they were both pretty miserable for that whole decade.

I heard about this book on Smart Bitches Trashy Books, which picked it for their book club a few months ago. I feel like it got a lot of buzz, so despite my general wariness of contemporary romance, I was very curious about it. I also heard a couple of interviews with the author on the same podcast and she is delightful, and has a great laugh that I could listen to all day. It surprised me in a couple of ways. For a romance this book is pretty dark, which I didn't expect, and I also didn't realize it was an erotic romance until I started reading it. It's sort of opposite of the light, funny historicals I'm used to. I think it's not exactly my jam, but it's undeniably good. The writing is solid, the emotional journeys of the characters feels genuine, and there's lots of interesting subject matter.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2017)

Salvador has grown up with his adoptive gay Mexican father, and they've led a pretty consistent comfortable life until now. Sal's temper is starting to get the best of him and he's getting into fist fights at school, his grandmother Mima is suddenly very ill, and his best friends Sam and Fito are going through their own difficult situations. In addition to the major issues, Sal has a college admissions essay hanging over his head. He struggles with it mostly because he can't figure out why he's special (which I think many of us can relate to, especially as teenagers.)

Sam and Sal are like brother and sister, and I loved their relationship. I especially loved that there's a book with a girl and boy who are friends and there is no romance whatsoever between them. Their friendship was very cute too: they texted each other constantly, even when they were in adjacent rooms, and they often came up with a word for the day (wftd.) They also played a game of "What if?" One person would ask a question like "What if we had never met?" and the other one had to come up with an acceptably creative answer by the end of the day.

Initially Sam doesn't like Sal's friend Fito, but as it turns out she just didn't really know him and as soon as they start spending more time together, they also become good friends. Sam and Fito both have mothers with very serious problems and their relationships are complicated. Sal doesn't have a mother at all, so this is something they all sort of bond over.

Nature vs. nurture came up a lot in this story. Sal has been thinking a lot about his biological father recently, worrying that he somehow inherited this new tendency to fight. He doesn't know who his father was, and his mother died when he was only three years old, so he doesn't even remember her. The family he grew up with is the only family he knows. Not only is he not biologically related to them, but he's also a white kid in a Mexican family.

Sal's family was great, but especially his dad, Vicente. Saenz writes amazing parents, as I discovered when I read Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Many people will recognize Sal's house - the household teenagers are drawn to, where they feel comfortable with the adults in residence and, more importantly, where they feel welcome to hang out and be themselves. It becomes a hub, and Vicente jokes that he collects 17-year-olds.

Les you think it's all happy and uplifting, I should mention that there was a lot of death in this book. It didn't feel piled on though; it was spread out a bit so the characters had a chance to deal with it. These kids were talkers who worked through their feelings and dealt with the turmoil going on inside of them. Perhaps it's not entirely realistic, but if nothing else it's a great model for how to handle your life.

In a lot of ways, this is an idealistic book (as was Aristotle and Dante) but it still felt genuine. Even though a lot of bad things happened in the course of the story, it's still uplifting because of the way the characters all took care of each other. Sometimes that's exactly the sort of book you need.

Monday, November 13, 2017

The Power

The Power by Naomi Alderman (2016), narrated by Adjoa Andoh

The world has suddenly changed: teenage girls now carry a power within them to deliver electrical shocks. Female babies are now born with it; and it's possible to awaken the power even in older women. It's game-changing and we see this massive shift primarily through four characters: a young Nigerian journalist; a London teenager from a rough family; a foster girl being raised in an abusive family; and an American senator. The story is framed in a far-future exchange between a male author writing a novel about the "great cataclysm" and his female agent.

What's brilliant about this book is that the whole idea is that whoever has power will abuse it and be in control and oppress others. The far-future framing parts show a world in which roles are reversed. It is men who aren't taken seriously, women who are in charge, and they're convinced it has always been this way. It wouldn't even make sense for men to run things, they think. It seems ridiculous, the way men are viewed, which highlights exactly how ridiculous the treatment of women in our world is.

Once I got the characters straight, they solidified into real people for me, and I was so invested in everyone getting through the very dangerous times unscathed. Allie, once she killed her foster father and left her abusive home, followed the voice in her head and began a new religion, dubbing herself Mother Eve. Streetwise Roxy witnessed her mother's murder and vowed to take revenge on those responsible. Margot is a politician whose teenage daughter helps her awaken her own powers, which she must initially hide out of fear it will hurt her political ambitions. Tunde was a rather aimless young guy who began recording footage of girls using the power, and then became dedicated to documenting everything about this new world landscape, as great risk to himself. At first, this new power was seen as something scary that needed to be contained, and leaders scrambled to make plans to deal with it. But soon it became obvious that the power was there to stay, and that women would use it to hurt men and gain control.

Listening to the audio version meant being a bit disoriented during the first several chapters as they switched back and forth between characters. Once the story returned to the first character, I couldn't remember anything about her character and had to go back and listen to parts of the first chapter again. So in that way, it probably would have been a good choice for me to read in print. But then I would have missed out on the excellent narration by Adjoa Andoh, who is extremely talented at all kinds of accents and did an amazing job with all the characters' voices.

I kind of wish I had read this for a book group because there's just so much to discuss! However, two of my coworkers have read it and I think we'll spend some time talking about it now that I've finally finished it too. Right now, in the current political climate in the U.S., and with all the sexual assault allegations against powerful men coming to light, is probably the perfect time to read a book about women giving men a taste of their own medicine.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Proposal

The Proposal (The Survivor's Club #1) by Mary Balogh (2012)

A young widow named Gwen has just quarreled with the friend she's staying with, and is out walking the beach when she falls, twisting her ankle. Luckily, an imposing stranger named Hugo is standing nearby at the time and rescues her. He takes her back to the house where he's staying with some friends who all met when they were recovering from their war experiences and injuries and now return for a get-together every year. Gwen doesn't want to impose, but her injury is bad enough that she shouldn't be moved. She and Hugo dislike each other from the start, but they begin to warm up to each other quickly. It can't go anywhere though, as she is an aristocrat who does not want to remarry, and Hugo needs to marry now that his title requires it but he's determined to marry someone in his own social sphere.

The premise doesn't sound like anything special, but these two characters make this very different from any romance I've read. These are no young, naive virgins, blushing at any hint of impropriety; both are seasoned and mature, and not afraid to speak of their desires. For one thing, they have sex fairly early in the book, when they still rather dislike each other, and have no illusions that it will lead to anything else. You don't see that very much in historical romance. They have scars from their past, hers in the form of a permanent limp and his of a more internal sort. Because of the kind of people they are, this isn't an all-consuming, passionate romance with dramatic confessions and tears of joy and all the typical trappings of the genre. No, it's like a story about a couple of people you know who develop a mature affection and you're really glad they found each other. It's satisfying.

So what was the tension, the thing that kept them apart? Primarily, it was class. I mean, Gwen didn't want to get married again anyhow. Her first marriage wasn't awesome and I think the fact that she was single made her think she had a second chance to live her life the way she wanted to. She didn't want to leap back into another lifetime commitment. But the real hurdle to overcome was that she was from the upper classes and Hugo earned his title in the war, and inherited his wealth from his businessman father. His people were different from hers, and the life he wanted was on his farm with the lambs and his garden, not in London at fancy boring parties.

In these historical romances, the characters are pretty much always aristocratic. Occasionally there will be an outlier, but this is the first book I've read where they really get into what that means. For instance, when Hugo invites Gwen to stay at his place with his family, he mentions the difficulties of all his relations getting time off work. And his sister Constance, who Gwen introduces to London society, can't get over how idle all the men are. They don't have jobs or any purpose - they're boring. She had a great time at the parties, but when it comes down to it, she's probably going to marry the ironmonger she's known all her life, a good hardworking guy.

I've been in a bit of a reading slump recently, having started and stopped a few different books before picking this up. I spent probably a full week or so reading it, as I was spending much more time catching up on tv. At first I thought it was just ok, but once I started getting to know these characters and their lives - and there's a lot here I didn't even get into about their dark histories that have formed who they are - it became clear that this really stands out among historical romances for it's realism. I was intrigued by the whole idea of this series, as several of the main characters have disabilities, but there's so much more here that is interesting and thought-provoking and refreshing. After trying this one I suspect I'll read more from this series.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Ten Characters Who Would Make Great Leaders

Top Ten Tuesdays are hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today's topic is 10 characters who would make great leaders.

I think about leadership a lot, and the ways things could be better if, oh, I don't know, someone different had won the U.S. presidential election last year? Or if, in general, women ran the world. Because honestly, I am running out of patience with men and their stupidity and the sexism that so permeates our culture. So here's my list of characters from books who should be running pretty much everything and yes they are all women.

1. Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
She's very good at planning, scheming, and plotting, all in secret while maintaining a relationship with the person in charge of the organizing she is undermining. Brilliant.

2. & 3.  Vivian Carter and Lucy Hernandez from Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
Viv started Moxie, the zine encouraging girls to fight back misogyny in their school. Lucy was part of the catalyst for Viv to start it and one of her strongest supporters. They worked really well together.

4. Jane Young from Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
A strong capable women who bounces back from being slut-shamed, à la Monica Lewinsky.

5. Elle Burns from An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
She's intuitive, resourceful, with good judgment, a photographic memory and a passion for justice. Any black woman who do something as risky as going undercover as a slave during the Civil War is clearly not afraid of anything.

6. Willowdean Dickson from Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
A self-confident fat girl who assumes she has as much chance of winning a beauty pageant as anyone else is exactly the sort of role model teenage girls need. In fact, she did inspire many other girls who considered themselves misfits to also enter the pageant. She is thoughtful, introspective, self-assured, and very determined.

7. Ifemelu from Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
As a Nigerian who has also spent years living in America, her perspective on race in America is invaluable. It also helps that she's a fantastic writer and communicator, as we learned from her blog Raceteenth.

8. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I mean, she volunteered as tribute.

9. Binti from Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
Here is a woman who left her planet to attend an elite university, the first of her people to do so. On the way there, she was faced with an incredibly dangerous enemy. She's very brave, but maybe more importantly, she's not afraid to be different, nor is she afraid to those who are different from her. Would make an excellent diplomat.

10. Jin Ling from The Walled City by Ryan Graudin 
Jin disguised herself as a boy to survive, determined to get her sister out of the house of prostitution where she was being held captive, whatever the cost. Really anyone who survives and even thrives in a dystopian setting while remaining a good person is someone who should be in charge of things.

And a shoutout to the entire cast of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. A group of beauty queen contestants crash on an island and rather than killing each other to survive, they join forces against a common enemy while encouraging each other to be their true selves.

You know, there are so many great female characters who would be fantastic leaders. Just like there are many women in real life who should be in charge.

Monday, November 6, 2017

On Tyranny

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder (2017)

I would have picked this up ages ago had I not conflated it in my head with the almost-700-page Capital in the Twenty-First Century. But no, this one is only 128 tiny little pages. (Seriously, it's only about 6 inches tall.) Something or someone  recently in the political we-must-do-something-sphere mentioned it and I looked it up again and, realizing my mistake, picked up a copy at work and read it in about 2 short sittings.

Each section begins with one of the 20 lessons, and then a few pages talking about the part of history from which we learned this lesson and how it can be applied today. For instance, lesson 8 is "Stand out" with the explanation, "Someone has to. It is easy to follow along. It can feel strange to do or say something different. But without that unease, there is no freedom. Remember Rosa Parks. The moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken, and others will follow." This lesson is followed by examples about how in Nazi Germany (which, as you can imagine, is frequently mentioned in this book) most people went along with Hitler's agenda, but it is those who did not who we now remember. Snyder tells the story of a woman named Teresa who snuck into Warsaw ghettos at great risk to herself to bring food and medicine to Jews, both those she knew and those she did not, ultimately helping one family escape and saving their lives.

Other lessons include "defend institutions," "remember professional ethics," "be kinder to our language," "believe in truth," "make eye contact and small talk," "contribute to good causes," "be a patriot," "be as courageous as you can," and several others, all of which are worth carefully considering and applying to your real life. Some are more obvious acts of political resistance, while others are more about taking part in society in smaller, but still important ways. Like the one about making eye contact and small talk is about building relationships, even superficial ones, so that when real oppression arrives people don't just all instinctively fear each other. Snyder says that in fascist Italy in the 20s or Nazi Germany in the 30s, simple smiles and handshakes were viewed with greater significance.

This book was obviously published in response to the current administration in the United States though, interestingly, Snyder never mentions the president by name. Some of the lessons are ones we hopefully won't have to think about, but if we do we'll all be well served by remembering and abiding by them. As I mentioned, I read it very quickly - it's extremely simple and clear and may make it onto my extremely short list of books that everyone should read. I sort of want to buy myself a copy and carry it around with me at all times, right next to my pocket Constitution.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Lady Traveler's Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen

The Lady Traveler's Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen (Lady Travelers Society #1) by Victoria Alexander (2017), narrated by Marian Hussey

India Prendergast's cousin has taken a trip organized by the Lady Travelers Society, but when her letters stop arriving, India knows that something must be terribly wrong. She pays a visit to the Lady Travelers Society and finds they are less than above board, and takes it upon herself to travel to the continent to seek out her cousin. Unfortunately she must travel with Derek Saunders, known scoundrel and the nephew of one of the women who runs the Lady Travelers Society.

The party includes Derek, India, and a couple who served as chaperones, and they begin by going to Paris as that is where India's cousin's last letter was sent from. They decided to try to find out whether or not she was still in the city and if not they'd then go to the next destination on the itinerary. This must have been in 1889 because the Eiffel Tower was new and the Paris Exposition was happening, so they couldn't get a hotel. They instead stay with Derek's step-brother Val, who was even more of a rogue than Derek (but was also actually a good guy.)

The trip is not off to a great start when India's trunk goes astray and she is left in fashionable Paris with only her dowdy grey traveling dress. Her chaperone lends her some clothing, but it's far showier than the practical clothing India usually wears. This might be a good time to mention that India is very set in her ways, completely practical, and rather a prude. She's almost 30 and therefore a confirmed spinster, which suits her just fine. She's not at all the sort of woman Derek is used to being around, but despite how different they are they do become friends on this journey, and of course that friendship turns into something more.

I heard of this described as a romance, and I suppose it is that, but almost nothing happens in that direction until about halfway through. Up until that point, the story is occupied with the disappearance of India's cousin, the nefarious doings of the Lady Travelers Society, Derek's reputation and attempt to get back on the straight and narrow path, and all the logistics of the trip to Europe. Some of the Goodreads reviews said that the story was very slow to start, but I think they mean the romance because I think there was a lot happening aside from that. To me, this is less a romance novel than a work of historical fiction that has a romance as one of the plotlines.

But who cares how it's categorized. It was an engrossing, fun story that I enjoyed a lot from the very beginning. I loved India, despite how rigid she was. Raised by her cousin, she was determined not to be a burden, so she had been working for 8 years as a secretary to a man she considered a friend. She was smart and capable and more open to new experiences than even she realized. Because of her unfortunate background, I think she never expected much for her life and just decided to be satisfied with what she had. Derek was a bit put off by her at first - neither of them liked the other until they decided to make an attempt at friendship since they'd be traveling together for a while. He was really a decent guy who had been a bit irresponsible in his youth and had earned a reputation. But he was sincerely trying to put that all behind him and be a responsible adult.

Part of what made this book such a great experience was the narration of Marian Hussey. Her clipped British accent was just perfect for India Prendergast, but she read the other voices very well too. I listened to the bulk of the book while driving to and from Burlington, VT for a conference, which was close to 7 hours of listening time. There's little that is better than using a long drive to listen to most of a book. What a great use of time, and I can't think of a better way to make a drive pleasant. I probably won't be able to ever think of this book without seeing colorful fall leaves.

This is the first in a series, so yay! I hope the same narrator reads the future books, in which case I'll be experiencing them all on audio. If you like historical novels about independent women where romance is a large part of the story - but not the whole plot - I suggest you try this book.