REVIEW: Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil

needles and pearlsFormat:  Paperback
Genre:  General Fiction / Chick Lit
ISBN:  978-1-4013-4129-9
Published:  2010

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Back of the Book Blurb:

Slip one …A year after her husband’s death, Jo Mackenzie is finally starting to get the hang of being a single parent.

Knit two together …The boys are thriving in their new seaside home, the wool shop is starting to do well and despite two weddings, an in-school knitting project and Trevor the Wonder Dog coming to stay, she’s just about keeping her head above water.

Cast off …But boys, babies and best friends certainly make life a lot more interesting. Can Jo cope when things get really complicated? Because if knitting truly does keep you sane when your life starts to unravel then it looks like Jo is going to need much bigger needles.

My Thoughts:

Funny, I didn’t expect to like this book more than The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club, but I did. Perhaps Gil McNeil hit her stride with this one. Perhaps it was due to several (somewhat unexpected) details that I really liked. Regardless, this one is better.

I won’t give away details, but I will say that I appreciated so much the fact that Jo Mackenzie is character who is growing. I do not enjoy characters who are all they are going to be from the very beginning, and do not learn from mistakes or gain at least some sort of wisdom from their existence. Jo (thankfully) is not that kind of character…at least not so far. She is not given to airs, she seems solid & grounded, and she doesn’t take the easy way out of problems (nor advise her friends to do so). That is refreshing, especially given that this is sort of a departure from what is societally popular right now. She also speaks her mind, and when the occasion warrants it, will put others in their place when they have crossed the line. She gets this trait honestly, and I truly love it, in large part because she also knows when to hold her tongue.

When I read Beach Street Knitting Society, I didn’t realize it was a series, but I’m a sucker for series when they have characters I enjoy. Despite the fluffiness of the books, I do like the characters, and frankly, they provide a nice break from the heavy reading I’m doing this year (and there is plenty of that). Of course, the cliffhanger ending (cue major emotional manipulation) makes it a bit difficult to stop at this point, knowing there are plot resolutions out there that I have not read. I’m glad I finally got around to it.

Top Ten (or Seven) Series I Need to Finish

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. They love to share their lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week they will post a new Top Ten list  that one (or more) of their bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All they ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
All of us readers have those books that really started us on our way to becoming book lovers. It could be something we read as young children, or it could be a book we picked up in adulthood after years of a reading drought. Or, it could be an author or book that introduced us to a new favorite genre. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday puts a spotlight on those books and authors that we credit with our bookishness.

Top Ten (or Seven) Series I Need to Finish (or Start and Finish, as the Case May Be)

  1. Millennium series by Stieg Larssen – I read (listened to) the first book with my husband, and he went on to finish, but I haven’t yet.  I l-o-v-e-d the first book, so I need to either make the time to listen, or just plow in and read them.  One of my favorite series ever.
  2. Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling – I’ve read six of the seven, and I still have the seventh sitting on my bookshelf.  I fear it’s been so long since I read them that I need to start from the beginning again.  Again, loved the series, but I got distracted and never got back to it.
  3. Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis – This is a series I have never read.  I grew up with my head in the literary sand, and I have never put this at the top of my “to-be-read” list.  However, this is the year.  My son starts 3rd grade in the fall, and he will be reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for school, so I will be reading with him.
  4. Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke – I have read (or listened to) about half of these books, and I always thoroughly enjoy them.  Dave Robicheaux is a character I love, and I especially appreciate how he has developed over the years I have been acquainted with him.  Additionally, the bayou setting really functions as character in and of itself, and it is a setting I love.
  5. Anna Pigeon series by Nevada Barr – Another series I have dipped into quite a bit, but have only read (or listened to) about half of the books.  She is another detective character that I have loved over the years, and her job as a park ranger takes her all over the United States, so the location is constantly changing, but the setting is always within the federal park system.  It’s different, and that is one of the major reasons I enjoy this series.
  6. Lord of the Rings series by J. R. R. Tolkien – I have never read this series.  <GASP>  I have seen the movies, which were brilliant, and I fully expect the books to be even more brilliant.  It is a bit of a travesty that I am mid-way through my 40s and have never given these a try.  My husband raves about them, and my son will read them for school at some point, so they are definitely in my future.
  7. The Gunslinger series by Stephen King – I hope I get back to these books one day.  I read the first three as soon as they were published, but got distracted and caught up in other things while waiting for the fourth book to come out.  I tried 2-3 years ago to listen to The Gunslinger, and I had to set it aside because I thought it was awful.  I actually dreaded listening, and that is unheard of for me.  I love Stephen King, so it is really hard for me to admit that, and I’m hoping that it’s more a case of being in the wrong frame of mind for that series than to have truly had a chance of taste such that I can no longer enjoy it.  We shall see…