So many books, so little time! How I wish I could read every single book that appeals to me. How do we pick and choose?

Here is a smattering of books I’ve enjoyed in the last few weeks. One non-fiction, an Australian mystery, a historical fiction novel, something rather juicy, and a thought-provoking novel I found unsettling at times.

A potpourri of books! I hope you find a title to bury yourself in. 

Come Fly the World by Julia Cooke

“Stewardesses Wanted – Must want the world,” read a 1967 advertisement for Pan American Airways. Unbelievably, female applicants (only!) were required to have a college education, speak two languages, and meet height, weight, and age requirements. 

Everyone has a story. The author weaves the experiences of four Pan Am stewardesses who worked hard, played hard, and paved the way for future flight attendants. These women wanted more out of life than the pressure to get married, raise a family, and let the men have all the adventure and fun. And they got it. 

Sashaying the globe, they averted hijackings, flew in and out of war zones, and ferried children out of Vietnam when Saigon fell. An overload of details in some spots caused the story to drag, but as my good friend always says, “Skim right through that muck!”

The Survivors by Jane Harper

If our circumstances had been different, does it mean our lives would be better?

In this page-turning mystery, Australian author Jane Harper transports readers to the Tasmanian coast. In small-town Evelyn Bay, everyone knows everyone else’s business.

With his girlfriend and baby in tow, Kieran returns to his hometown for a visit. Seeing his parents, old friends, and the rugged coastline, he’s overwhelmed with guilt… again. But, when a body washes up on the beach, long-held secrets unravel.

Now that I’ve discovered Harper, I’m anxious to read her blockbuster, debut novel-turned-movie, The Dry (published in 2016). The film, released in Australia earlier this year, arrives in US theaters in May.

The Wartime Sisters by Lynda Cohen Loigman

I have learned when Fiona Davis loves a book, I will love it too! Yes, another war book, but this historical fiction novel approaches World War II from a different angle than I’ve read before. 

Can we ever break free from the roles assigned in childhood? 

This story follows Ruth and Millie, disconnected sisters, from Brooklyn to the Springfield, MA armory campus. Their lives intertwine with Lillian, the commanding officer’s wife, and Arietta, a singing cook in the armory cafeteria. 

The women soon discover we don’t keep secrets. Secrets keep us.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

I am not a fan of reality TV, and I couldn’t get intoBridgerton. But, because I adored Carnegie’s Maid and The Aviator’s Wife by this best-selling author, I took a chance on her fluffier-sounding historical fiction novel.

And – snicker if you want – this was a delightful read!

Readers travel back to the 50s and 60s, to the glamour and gossip and power of New York City’s social scene. The story weaves the adventures, scandals, and so-called friendships of playwright Truman Capote and his wealthy flock of Manhattan high society swans.

This privileged clique attends all the right parties and shops at all the right places. But even when you have anything money can buy, happiness is not a given. 

Especially for Babe Paley, the wife of CBS founder William Paley and a woman searching for real love. 

Published in 2016, this book may be readily available at the local library. 

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

From 1935-1943, President Roosevelt’s Packhorse Library Project put women to work and books into the hands of impoverished people in the Appalachian hill country.  

Cussy Mary and her coal-mining Pa are not black. Or white. Their skin is blue. Methemoglobinemia, a real blood disorder, results from a missing enzyme that oxygenates the tissues. Without the enzyme, the skin is blue.

To escape ridicule and hate, they live deep in a wooded Kentucky holler. Astride her mule, Cussy Mary travels miles each day to bring books, and the chance of a better life, to remote mountain cabin-dwellers.

“For the first time in my life I feel necessary,” she says.

The story, filled with rich descriptions and imagery, picks up steam when Cussy Mary agrees to medical testing. 

Another book, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, also revolves around the Packhorse Library Project. Reader opinions vary on which novel they like best. Both are thought-provoking and, at times, unsettling to read. But, with different plot angles and information, I liked them both! 

Do you have a large pile of books to read? What’s been your favorite book of the last year? Do you read more than one book at a time? Me – always. Cheers to always having a good read nearby!

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