> Reading Roundup - November 2014 - Doused in Pink | Chicago Style Blog

Reading Roundup - November 2014

Keeping up with my fall goal to read at least one book a month, I read four books in September and October. Here's how I reviewed them on Goodreads.

The Perfume Collector takes you back in time, set post WWII, and is about two women whose lives are intertwined. One's journey to make amends with her past and the other's journey to discover her future. The story begins in London in 1955 where Grace Monroe, recently married and thrown into the London elite social scene, receives a letter informing her she has received an inheritance. Thinking it is a mistake, but wanting to get away from the life she has not come accustomed to, Grace goes on a journey to Paris to learn about her benefactor, Eva d’Orsey.  With the help of her attorney, Edward Thissot, she discovers a long abandoned perfume shop, learns about the complex world of concocting perfumes, and a love story that explains her ties with Eva.

The story flashbacks to the 1920’s where you meet Eva who is working as a chambermaid in an upscale hotel catering to the rich. Her involvement with this elite group of people allows her to overcome her poor upbringing and later becomes a legend in the perfume industry.  You are taken back to that time and the scents of the perfumes are described so well you can almost smell them.  You learn about the fascinating world of fragrances and the unusual ways scents are inspired. While the story is a bit predictable, it draws you in as you see both characters coming into their own. This book was a page turner and one of the best that I’ve read this year.

Gretchen feels like life is going way to fast and she is not focusing on the things that matter. While she is not unhappy, she feels like she can be happier.  The Happiness Project is an account of her year of focusing on enjoying life to its fullest.  She did not want to switch careers, move to another country or make any drastic changes, so instead she creates monthly resolutions to improve her life as it is.

Gretchen’s resolutions were basic things that we take for granted: find more fun, be present in the moment, take time for yourself, show proofs of love, and no nagging. She breaks down each resolution in a way that is easy to follow, and you see how they work out and where her shortcomings are.  The information in this book is not anything new or noteworthy. I saw so much of myself in the author and was able to take her insight and transfer it to my own life. Who doesn't need a little more happiness in their lives?

When I think of aliens, I think little green men exiting a spaceship. Not so in Mrs. O’Leary’s Boarding House Aliens Only. Here aliens come in all forms including a cockroach, a kitten, a butterfly, and slime. A collection of five short stories set in Chicago in 1860, Mrs. O’Leary deals with alien guests with human problems. Each tenant had a different reason for being on earth and had an interesting story that ties back to the landlord. The characters were likable and described in a way that made you forget they were not human. It did not go unnoticed that one of the aliens was a cow living in Mrs. O’Leary’s barn and makes you wonder if there was something outside of our universe whose intent was to start The Great Chicago Fire.

The majority of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, is told through several characters speaking through emails and other random correspondences like doctor’s bills, faxes and notes from school to each other. Bernadette was 30 years old when she won an architecture genius award.  Her noteworthy project that won her award is destroyed and soon she begins to fray. She moves out of Los Angeles to Seattle with her husband Elgie, a Microsoft guru, and their daughter Bee. They move into a rundown house that they intended to restore, that was once a former school for girls. The efforts to restore the house are long abandoned, and the house continues to decay with blackberry bushes coming up through the floorboards and water leaking through the ceilings when it rains.

Bernadette suffers from agoraphobia and refuses to take part in the community. Because of this, the charter school parental committee resents her. Her condition is so bad she hires a virtual assistant from India. Bee, who has overcame a congenial heart condition, is now a successful 8th grade student at an upper crust charter school. Bee cashes in on a promise her parents make, that she can have anything she wants for receiving straight A’s. She requests a family trip to Antarctica.  Bernadette’s thought of being confined on a ship where she has to interact with people sends her into a frenzy, and her behavior becomes more obnoxious in the community. She hates everything and everyone except her beloved daughter, Bee.  After a series of mishaps, Bernadette reaches the breaking point and disappears. The narrative then switches to Bee’s perspective as she takes the lead in the search for her mother.

While the plot is wacky, it’s also touching and uplifting.  The characters are likable and the relationships that develop make the story unique.

What are you reading? I'd love to hear your book suggestions!

Thanks for stopping by today! I've teamed up with some fabulous bloggers for a fall giveaway for a $260 Nordstrom gift card. Make sure you enter via the rafflecopter here!

Linking up with these fabulous bloggers here.


  1. ugh I am now reading anything right now because I am crazy busy, I always love your reviews.


  2. The perfume collector was recommended by Amazon, as books I like to read, so I will have to check that one out. Thanks for the reviews!
    xo, Whitney and Blaire
    Peaches In A Pod

  3. Thanks for the book inspiration! The "perfume collector" will be making an appearance on my kindle very soon:) Have a fantastic day and keep up the great work! I love reviews like this!!


  4. I've been looking for some good books! Thank you for sharing!
    Red Reticule

  5. Thanks for sharing these reads Jill, I need to start reading again I've been off the bandwagon for several months now. I did try The Happiness Project but couldn't get into it I might try again. Have a great Monday:)

  6. I love that you are a reader because I am too. This is a good reminder that I have been choosing other, less fulfilling way to spend my time lately. I've heard the last book you mentioned is good.

    xo, Amy Ann
    The Real Arnolds

  7. I've heard the Happiness Project is a great book! I really should read it, thanks for sharing!

  8. Thanks for all your book suggestions! I have read Where'd You Go Bernadette for our book club and I enjoyed it! :)


  9. Happiness project is the only one I have read...reading through the gist on Bernadette, it sounds quite interesting, might have to pick it up next time i am in Barnes and Noble. Thanks for sharing and introducing me to this..

  10. super awesome..very interesting post..

  11. The Happiness Project sounds like a great book! I haven't read a book since the summer, ahhh. I really do keep meaning to pick one up, it's so relaxing to read a good book before bed :) Thanks for sharing.


  12. Excellent reviews, Jill! I'm like Marta...I fell off the reading bandwagon a few months back. I was doing so well in summer and somehow it just slipped. I think I need to make a goal to finish one more book before the end of the new year!
    Gina - On the Daily Express

  13. I so want to read the Happiness Project! Looks so good!

  14. I really enjoyed this post! I have read The Happiness Project and Where'd You Go, B. and I really enjoyed both of them. I actually have The Perfume Collector on my Goodreads 'to read' list... but, the alien one I had not heard of! Adding it to my list, too! Keep sharing books you read, I love hearing reviews on books! I am reading the first book to Outlander right now and it is taking me FOREVER. I am halfway through. I think I am going to read a regular book or two before I start on the second Outlander book... they take FOEVER to read and I get behind on other books I want to read!

  15. The Perfume Collector sounds exactly like the kind of book I love to read! It's going on my Christmas list now! Thanks for the recommendation!

  16. Thanks for the book suggestions! I haven't read three of these, and I'm definitely putting them on my list.

  17. Mrs. O’Leary’s Boarding House Aliens Only sounds like such a fun + interesting read!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  18. Love the Perfume Collector. I have read it in Albanian but still. I really want to read the second and fourth book you listed here. Some great reads this Fall, for you Jill. =)

  19. Fantastic Blog http://www.boomclap.it

  20. Oh I need to read the perfume collector! thanks for sharing Jill! I always love recommendations!

  21. I want to read "Where'd You Go, Bernadette"!!

  22. Great roundup! Thank you so much!

  23. These look like some great reads, Jill! I so love reading and will have to put these on my list. I am scared to start on a book right now with so much decorating/sewing/painting that still needs to be done after the move. Once I start a book nothing else gets done until I am finished!

  24. These all sounds great but I the perfume collector sounds like my kind of book!

    <3 Shannon

  25. I miss reading.... maybe after the holidays! LOL. I could NOT get into Bernadette. That book I just didn't get. The last good book I read was on the plane to Turks & Caicos, and dang if I can remember it. But I do use GoodReads!

  26. Hello! Happy you stopped by my blog because now I get to visit yours! I am an avid reader so I do appreciate your summary and book review of books from different genres! The Perfume Collector and the Happiness Project have both peaked my interest. Thanks for the recommendations. See you again soon :) Great blog name btw, love it!


  27. I barely can find time to read blogs.... *sighs* one day I'll read a book for fun again

  28. Thanks for the reading list. I am currently reading Elements of Style.

    Lisa @ Daily Style Finds

  29. I recently read the new Jude Deveraux book and loved it. I'm a trashy romance novel sort of girl.

    Tif @ Bright on a Budget

  30. Love the color of the sweater! Oh wow! Stunning work space! http://www.2015bageshop.com


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