Year 16, Book 72

72. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

The Rose Code moves back and forth between WWII when three women Osla, Mab, and Beth work as codebreakers in Bletchley Park and 1947 when Osla’s former boyfriend the future Prince Phillip is about to wed the future Queen Elizabeth. In the days before the wedding old secrets from the war begin to surface and the three women reunite to put their skills to the test one final time.

This was such a good book and I wish I had read it for one of my book clubs because the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking I can’t wait to talk about this part or this part before remembering that I was not in fact reading it with a book club and would not be talking about it with anyone. It would definitely make a great book club selection, but it was a wonderful read no matter what. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 71

71. Seasonal Work by Laura Lippman

I generally like Laura Lippman’s books, but this book of short stories didn’t do much for me. I struggled to make my way through it. I liked a couple of them, but overall I wasn’t into it. That’s partly just my dislike of short stories in general though. If you like short stories your mileage may vary. I give it a 5 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 70

70. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Three children go searching across the part of India searching for their missing classmate, but as they search even more children go missing expanding the mystery and their search. I could not get into this book at all. It seemed repetitive to me. I also admit I wasn’t in a great head space when I was trying to read this book and it was hard for me to concentrate, which was made even more difficult by all the unfamiliar to me terms used by the author. Pro tip if you do decide to read the book, there is actually a glossary at the back of the book. It would probably have been super helpful as I was reading, but I didn’t discover it was there until I was done with the book. The book was also made a little more heavy by the note at the end explaining that the story was based on real issues with poor children going missing in India all the time. Ultimately, I don’t think knowing any of these things at the outset would have made me really like the book though. I give it a 4 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 69

69. The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

Although it’s being released in 2021, apparently this book was written prior to the coronavirus. It’s obviously very different reading a book about a pandemic that kills most of the men in the world than it would have been to read it had we not currently been living through a pandemic. I can certainly say at this point this book is a work of fiction because when they developed a vaccine in the book people actually took it and ended the plague.

I started reading the book without actually knowing what it was about, but it was obviously well written enough that I kept reading despite topic because I never would have started reading it had I known what the book was about. The book is told from the perspective a bunch of different characters over a number of years. I get what the author was trying to do in representing a broad swath of experiences and highlighting various issues and obvious changes that would occur with almost all men having gone extinct. However, it did make it difficult to really connect with any of the characters even the few main characters that are centered in the book. To some degree they all felt a little one note and not easily differentiated from each other. It definitely was an interesting premise. I’m not sure if it made me feel better or worse to think about how much worse things could be than they currently are given what happens based on the pandemic in this book. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 68

68. Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Sylvie and Amy are the daughters of Chinese immigrant parents in New York. As a young child Sylvie was sent to live in the Netherlands with her grandmother and some other family relatives before being brought to live with her parents and new sister when she was nine. Now as an adult she has returned to say goodbye to her dying grandmother, but now she’s missing. Amy overcomes her own fears to travel to the Netherlands and try to find out what happened to her sister. In her pursuit she uncovers some long hidden family secrets. I quite enjoyed this book. I thought it had a good mystery. I liked the way the author played with voice and perspective. I thought there were a lot of good sibling relationship things. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 67

67. Shaken or Stirred by Georgia Beers

Julia has just taken over, renovated, and reopened her family’s struggling bar, so she doesn’t have time to date. But she can’t stop thinking about the cute customer who came into the bar. Savannah is also busy taking care of other people and putting their needs ahead of their own. Will their busy lives and some issues between their families keep them apart? It’s a romance, so obviously these are things they will overcome. I like Georgia Beers’ romances and this one was no exception. I would have liked the feud between the families to have been more than it was because the issue between their fathers seemed kind of pointless, but I thought it was a fun book. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 66

66. Mr. Gupta’s Hardware Store by A.K. Carla

This was a sweet little book about two Indian couples who immigrated to London during the 1970s. Mr. Gupta owns a hardware store and Chandu is his unappreciated and put upon employee. Their wives are best friends. The story follows their lives through ups and downs and changing relationships. Some of it is a little hokey and unbelievable like Mr. Gupta essentially becoming an entirely different person part way through the book, but I found it kind of charming though it wasn’t exactly an uplifting book. I give it a 6 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 65

65. Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake

This was a really fun romance. Delilah has returned to her hometown for the first time in years after being summoned to photograph her estranged step-sister Astrid’s wedding. Astrid’s best friend Claire has been focused on raising her daughter and dealing with her flakey ex who has once again showed up back up in their daughter’s life, so she hasn’t thought much about dating until she gets dared to hit on the cute woman sitting at the bar. She can hardly believe it’s the same Delilah who was her friends weird sister. This book has really great relationships including the friendships, the family dynamics, and of course the romance. I literally couldn’t put it down. I’m very much looking forward the future books focusing on the love lives of the side characters in this book. I give it a 9 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 64

64. Animal, Vegetable, Junk: A History of Food, from Sustainable to Suicidal by Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman, as the title suggests, traces the history of food all the way from being hunter gathers to how it became agrobusiness as well as food that is not so much food anymore. He definitely is on the side of smaller, more sustainable agriculture. However, as often in the case of books like this while it’s all well and good to suggest that these things are good I think he does not acknowledge that a true return to what he is talking about is not possible unless everyone is living somewhere they can at least partially grow their own food, which unrealistic for so many different reasons. It was an interesting read even if I can’t completely buy into his thesis. I give it a 7 out of 10.

Year 16, Book 63

63. Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage by Anne Lamott

I haven’t particularly cared for Anne Lamott’s previous couple of books even though I loved some of her earlier works. This book felt more like a return to form for me with lots of good relatable essays about life, faith, and hope that can be applied to everyone’s lives even when the specific situations she’s writing about may be far removed from one’s personal experience. If you’ve read any of Lamott’s previous works you know what you’re getting here. I give it a 7 out of 10.