Reviewing Thrift Store Books #2: The Smuggler Wore Silk and An Abundance of Katherines

Looks like we’re at it again! I had such a good experience with thrift store books the first time that I thought it was deserving of round two (and maybe three, and four, and five…). Once again I found some great books to review, and one was so delightfully clever that I felt it put my own writing to shame. Don’t worry, I’m not throwing my work-in-progress in the trash (yet). If anything, reading good books helps me improve my writing and reevaluate how I structure my work.

The Smuggler Wore Silk by Alyssa Alexander

When Julian Travers, a British spy, is betrayed by an unknown traitor and is pressured to retire, he must discover the traitor’s identity to save his own career. This leads him to his childhood home, where he must seek out a woman named Grace Hannah, whom he suspects of either being involved in the crime or is herself the traitor he seeks. Grace, who lives as a poor relation in her uncle’s home and is treated as such, lives like a servant by day and participates in a smuggling ring by night. When her fellow smugglers discover a folio disclosing sensitive information to the French, she must also find the same traitor Julian seeks. As Julian and Grace interact, an undeniable spark ignites between them. This attraction to each other threatens to get in the way of their missions.

This book was dripping with romance and sensuality, which was skillfully paired with danger and mystery as Julian and Grace both tried to uncover the traitor in their midst. If you’re looking for something sexy and bold, as well as beautifully descriptive, this book might be for you. At times this story progressed rather slowly though, and I wish there had been more insight into the smuggling world as well as the spy world. The story primarily revolves around Grace and Julian’s attractions, and not as much on their risky careers. However, the story rounded out nicely and we get to know the two protagonists on a deep emotional level, which I quite enjoyed.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Colin Singleton has dated (and been dumped by) nineteen Katherines. When his friend Hassan takes him on a road trip to clear his mind and forget about the latest Katherine, Colin sets out to discover a theorem to help him predict the outcome of any and all future relationships. He also just wants to matter, and fears being yet another child prodigy who failed to live up to his potential. Colin and Hassan eventually end up in Gutshot, Tennessee, where they are able to find summer work and make a new friend named Lindsey (NOT Katherine). Through Colin’s relationships, both past and present, he’s able to discover where he’s gone wrong, and what “mattering” truly means.

This book seems to have fairly mixed reviews and clearly isn’t for everyone, but I absolutely loved this book. Sure, Colin is a bit of a self-absorbed, whiny, know-it-all teenager, but I found myself loving his many quirks and wacky theories about the Katherines he’s dated. This book was laugh-out-loud funny and endlessly clever. There was never a dull moment, the pace was just right, and I’ll probably never find another book quite like this one. I even found the math interesting, and I’m not a math person. This is one of my new favorite books and I’m sure I’ll read it again and again.

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