Another installment of my "Reducing the Reading Pile" series - and I still don't feel like I've even made a dent.  Probably because these were all eBooks.  I need to grab a real book for the next round! Anyway, I know I just posted about recent readings, but that was a long overdue post, and this one is legitimately what I've been reading these past few weeks over the holidays.

By the way, I notice that a lot of covers claim to be a New York Times or National Bestsellers.  What are the qualifications for this?  Does every book get to be labeled a best seller?  It seems like it.  I know the "skip this" book in this post certainly should not be selling at all!

Must Read

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

This is a story of Victoria, a girl who never had anything and grew up as product of the foster system, yet still found her way to a overcome everything after the foster system tossed her out on her 18th birthday.  She managed to win in the end, driven by her all-consuming passion for flowers and their meaning, originally taught to her by the one foster mom in 18 years who actually cared about her but, tragically, was taken from her too soon.  Her influence drove Victoria to continue to learn and develop her innate ability to understand flowers, and through that, to understand others and herself (though not always at first, and often after a long struggle).

Lazy Weekend

Love in a Nutshell and The Husband List by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelley

Yes, I know, I love Janet Evanovich books!

Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner

I struggled with this one because it was overloaded with descriptions, good detailed descriptions -mind you - but not often necessary, of Paris in the late 19th century during the 1889 World's Fair and a fictional serial killer attacking visitors with "killer bee stings."  The fact that I didn't figure out who did it until right before it was revealed, and it was still just a guess, forces me to say that this is definitely a successful mystery novel (and moved it from the "skip this" to "lazy weekend" category).

Emperor's Conspiracy by Michelle Diener

Diverging somewhat from the traditional historical fiction novel set in the Victorian age, this book's heroine is not a daughter of landed gentry or an aristocrat but rather an orphan from the slums who had the luck to find a rich patron to take her in as a child.  The story is centered around finding the source of a gold smuggling scheme that could ruin England.  Very easy reading (less than 24 hrs).

Skip This

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

This book was recommended by someone, and I have no inkling of a possible reason why.  The characters were pointless, the chapters jumped all over the place, there was no cohiesive story.  They say that the key to a successful novel is the development of solid and believable relationships.  By writing such a fragmented novel, even though the characters were supposed to be somewhat interrelated, you never got a chance or found a reason to invest in any of the characters and could care less about their growing misfortunes.