Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately

Back with some quick reviews of what I've read lately - I'm starting to shift into what feels like some summer reading already so hopefully next time I'll have more easy, breezy books for you!

A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley

The third in the charming Flavia de Luce mystery series, this entry was just as delightful as the first two. Flavia is just a wonderfully readable character. Especially since she's a child solving mysteries around her idyllic English village you'd think it would be easy for the main character to become saccharine and annoying. But it's just a fun pleasure reading these quirky whodunnits.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

I've been meaning to read Robert Galbraith's (aka J.K. Rowling) detective novels for a while now and somehow expected them to be dark and dreary. But Rowling's skill as a writer floats across every page. Private investigator Cormoran Strike sets out to solve the high profile murder of a supermodel with a well paced plot, great sidekick, and the perfect setup to an awesome Masterpiece Mystery series. After reading this book I realized that Rowling is a master at characterization, I fell in love with the cross-examinations because each character had such a unique voice that was perfectly presented. I didn't even want to solve the mystery, I  just wanted to keep meeting new people through the eyes of the indefatigable, intelligent, yet troubled detective, Cormoran Strike. It's a novel that really stands on it's own regardless of genre, but as a detective novel I thought it was first rate!

The End of the House of Alard by Sheila Kaye-Smith

Remember how I was on a Sheila Kaye-Smith kick? She's a little known early 20th century pastoral novelist and contemporary of G.K. Chesterton. Her books are out of print but, oh, how I wish they weren't because I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes Downton Abbey. This is a fascinating novel about the aristocratic Alard family, their romantic and spiritual entanglements, and the changing face of British society. Kaye-Smith is a really astute writer when it comes to portraying realistic characters and spiritual struggle, in this novel a variety of characters come face-to-face with spiritual truths yet choose different paths which proves fascinating. I feel like this book is best described as Downton Abbey meets Brideshead Revisited. Highly recommended if you can find a second hand copy on Amazon or Ebay!

Notes From A Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider

I love Tsh Oxenreider. I think her's was the first blog I discovered, the first I followed, and still follow today. I enjoy her writing and felt this book presented a lot of new material that has never been on her blog before, but I think because I am pretty much coming from exactly where she's coming from, that this just didn't bowl me over. I already am on board with everything she writes about when it comes to living simply, I feel like I am her choir. But for anyone who hasn't a clue what living simply means or entails this would be the perfect starting point.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson

Omigoodness, the third book in Marilynne Robinson's trilogy set in Gilead and I loved this novel in a completely different way than I loved the previous two. I find it just amazing how Robinson can so perfectly inhabit and write from a different person's inner life so effortlessly. It's really a joy to become part of Lila's life while reading this book. Lila is different from her husband John Ames, but just as alive on the page. I really don't want to say anything more because reading it is so rewarding and I feel like each and every reading will be different than another's experience. To sum up, I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads. And I reserve 5 stars for books by Chesterton, Jane Austen, and Evelyn Waugh.

Joining Modern Mrs. Darcy with Quick Lit again this month! 

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  1. Thanks for the peek into your book pile. I've checked out Tsh's book today based on your suggestion. I like living simply, and sometimes it's just nice to be in the choir. :)

  2. I was also super thrilled with Cuckoo's Calling...I'd been putting off reading it for a long time because I was afraid to be disappointed but I totally wasn't! (Especially after The Casual Vacancy...) I burned through all 3 of the ones she has out way too quickly and I can't wait for more of them. She's a billionaire writer for a reason! :)

  3. All of these sound absolutely delightful! I'm adding these to my list, though I don't know when I'll get around to them. I'm re-reading through the Anne books (currently on Anne of Windy Poplars) and last night I also picked up a stack of books that were on hold for me at the library (I have a bit of a self-control problem when it comes to books haha)

  4. LOVE Notes from a Blue Bike...have you ever listened to her podcast The Simple Show?? Also good:)

  5. Ooo, House of Alard sounds so fascinating. Downton meets Brideshead??? Be still my heart! Just found a copy at my husband's university library. Boom, can't wait.

  6. Aaaaagggh, I should stop reading your blog - it's really bad for my book budget! ;-)

  7. "Rewarding" is an excellent word for the experience of reading Lila!

  8. Kaye-Smith and her END OF THE HOUSE OF ALARD is a must-read I devour 2xs a year every year. So happy to see you stumbled upon this brilliant, Catholic masterpiece!

  9. I LOVED Notes From A Blue Bike and adore Tsh' podcast and blog and instagram. I am excited for her next book to come out about her world-wide trip with her family! Her honest writing is a breath of fresh air.

    I really like Gilead and have been wanting to read Lila. I want to skip the second book since I am not particularly interested in that one. Will I miss anything big if I skip to Lila or is it a stand alone novel since the plot is focused on her life before meeting the reverend?

    Found you through Quick Lit linkup. Here are my April reads:

  10. Totally posted this on your 7 Quick Takes instead. Been that kind of day. But I started Lila and I absolutely LOVE IT. Want to read it slow because it's so well written and those kind of books are few and far between. Thanks for the tip! And based on Justina's comment I think I'm going to have to find End of the House of Alard as well!


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