Mini-Reviews: The Scent of Pine, Fiddlehead, and What Nora Knew

Between the holidays and being sick and traveling, I’ve read more books than I can possibly review. Or that I want to review. So I’m introducing a new format that will appear occasionally: mini reviews (stolen, with credit, from River City Reading). Hopefully this will allow me to catch up without disappointing anyone (including myself). The books that will be featured will generally be outside my normal reading genre, but ones that I enjoyed nonetheless.

Scent of Pine_Fiddlehead_What Nora Knew

The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar
One line synopsis: Two unhappy people, one experiencing an early midlife crisis and the other a failed artist, are drawn together at a conference where they embark on a revealing weekend getaway.
Thoughts: The Scent of Pine is a slow-paced book that hints at a tantalizing secret. If you read the book waiting for a shocking revelation, you will be disappointed. I know I was. Regardless, the book is well-written, engaging, and bittersweet. It’s about letting go of the past and understanding yourself. 2.5/5.

Fiddlehead by Cherie Priest
One line synopsis: Gideon Bardsley is a brilliant inventor and his newest creation is attracting more attention than he’d like, he teams up with (mostly) retired agent Belle Boyd (under the orders of Abraham Lincoln) to find out where the threat is coming from.
Thoughts: Fiddlehead is the fifth entry into the Clockwork Century series. It tells the story of a very alternative Civil War with a steampunk twist. Although the plot is a little thin, the brilliance of the books lies in the world Priest creates. It fun, it’s fascinating, but you must read the four previous novels and one novella to get the most out of this book. If you happen to be a fan of the steampunk genre, Priest is one of the best – just don’t read it for the history, the Civil War nerd in me got a bit nitpicky… 4/5.

What Nora Knew by Linda Yellin
One line synopsis: Molly is a practical, unromantic, ambitious woman who finds that romance has been relegated to the back burner in her life – until she meets the one man she can’t get out of her head.
Thoughts: I’ll begin by saying I liked What Nora Knew. It was sweet, engaging, and everything I expected to be. It’s romantic and plays –as it should – into everything Nora Ephron. That being said, it is very much the story of wealthy white people with wealthy white people problems and solutions (i.e. struggling columnist with nice New York apartment meets handsome bestselling author with even nicer New York apartment, they fight, fall in love, and the columnist gets a fabulous book deal with the hottest literary agent in town). It’s cute, funny, and the banter is spot on (in an Ephronesque way). Read it if you’re in the right mood, if you’re not you’ll hate it. 4/5, because I read it when I was having a good day.

Do you ever get overwhelmed with review copies? How do you handle it?

*I received a copy of these three books in exchange for my honest opinion.

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