An intriguing story about a family from Belfast that immigrates to Cincinnati in the 1820s and endures hardship, loss, success, and the changing tides of public opinion about slavery and abolition. Told in first person by the middle sister in the family, it uses that older-woman-looks-back-on-her-life trope that I’m tired of seeing, but it does so with a light touch. She talks of losing both parents after their arrival in Ohio, coping with the quirky but very different personalities of her two brothers, navigating the provincial social structure of the city, and becoming involved with a family that has players on both sides of the slaveholding question. Read 4-8 December.
68. Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
This book is … not good. Tedious descriptions of everyday activities, odd choices of wording, stilted dialogue, weird recipes, wimpy story … and NO MURDER. Throw in a HIPAA violation or two, as well as a situation that strains credulity, and you get a hot mess. This was our December book club selection, chosen for its coziness, but there are so many others that do it much better. Speculation on Goodreads is that the author inserted this as a prequel in the series at a time when readers were frustrated with the directions the character arc was taking, but in any case I’m not going to read any further in the series to find out. At least it was a fast read and generated a fun discussion! Read 10-14 December.