Wednesday, November 18, 2015

What I've Been Reading Lately

Here's some of what I've been reading lately-- some bestsellers, some mysteries, some good, some not so good...

The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

This is the second novel written by one of the authors of the highly enjoyable The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It chronicles the family of a young girl in rural Virginia during the Depression and the arrival of a young woman who is writing a local history of the area. This is one of those books where I liked the writing, I liked the story well-enough, I liked the characters -- but for some reason something is missing from making this book really good. I feel this book could have used a good dose of editing, and adding a little more polish to the plot to get it to that next level.

Still Life by Louise Penny

The first novel in Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, Still Life is a well crafted detective novel that brings to life a whole community of great characters. I also like Penny's main character as he seems to be a gentle and intelligent man who both understands the goodness and evil in people and how both qualities come to the surface in subtle ways. The writing is well done which is essential in good detective fiction, because no matter how clever a plot a whodunnit needs to be enjoyable in all ways to make a good book. I'm already reading the second in the series.

(Amazon wouldn't let me link to the original hardcover edition which has a much better cover. I hate movie-promo book covers. End rant.)

The Martian by Andy Weir

So I am the first to admit I do not like science fiction. Science fiction of any kind and I'm out. But this book has been so highly recommended from more than a few sources who I really trust that I thought I'd give it a shot. I thought the book would be decent, but what I didn't expect was how much I would enjoy it. I was laughing, I was completely sucked into the story and had no idea how Mark Watney would figure out the next crazy thing that would happen to him on Mars, and I mostly kept up with the science. It's not a perfect book, but for a first effort the story line is a good one and the writing definitely pulls you along without letting the intricate science take away from the drama and excitement. We just watched the movie this weekend are really enjoyed it, but the movie did leave out some great scenes from the book.

On Track for Murder by Stephen Childs

This is a historic mystery which takes place in Australia near the end of the nineteenth century. The mystery revolves around a young British woman named Abigail, whose father is murdered shortly after her arrival with her brother to Australia. Abigail's mentally disabled brother is blamed for the murder and Abigail teams up with the handsome local constable to get to the bottom of what happened to her father. The plot is well constructed and I enjoyed the setting, but what was lacking in this book was good characterization. I really wanted Abigail to be more interesting, more likeable, and, well, have more of a personality.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

I finally read it! And now I can finally say that it really wasn't that great. I definitely got more laughs out of this book than advice and maybe it's just because since we live in such a small house we've learned over the last couple years that we just don't have the room for "stuff". My husband has an allergy to clutter so he is almost constantly cleaning out what accumulates, so I guess I don't really have to deal with this problem too much. I definitely am not thanking my purse every evening, or worrying about how claustrophobic my socks feel since reading the book. I think my personality just does not respond well to so much woo-woo, but if it helps/helped you clean up then I guess it's a good book...for you.

Well, that a wrap for this week. I conveniently have five books here so I'm going to link up with the wonderful Ashley for Five Faves, head on over to find great stuff! And Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit.

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  1. I'm a huge Inspector Gamache fan. I've heard a few similar responses to Magic of Tidying Up, very fortunate to have a husband who isn't a hoarder, have spoken to many women who have the opposite problem.

  2. Amen on KonMari. I love organizing and thought the book was very poorly written and organized. The central idea is OK, but the book itself is a mess. I am surprised it wasn't better edited or found the market it did.

  3. I love your book reviews.

    I'm so glad to hear your thoughts on The Martian. When I went to the library and tried to request it the librarian told me the wait was too long and I should just check something else out. But hopefully I'll get it one of these days. :)

  4. Definitely adding a few of these to my list (which never seems to be getting any shorter!). Thanks for linking up too!

  5. Thank you for the heads up about Louise Penny! We have been looking for a new book-club book available in quantity at our library, after The Interestings turned out to be just horrible.

  6. The Martian was an amazing book! I had the exact same reaction - there were times I'd be giggling to myself when my husband was trying to fall asleep next to me and he'd say, "A book about space cannot be that funny!" But it was. There were some killer scenes from the book I wish they'd had time to include in the movie, but such is life.

  7. Ahahaha!! I love that you didn't fall prey to the Kondo-voodoo!

  8. Just added "Still Life" to my ever-growing reading list! Thanks for sharing about the books you're reading. I'm definitely in a phase right now of detective/murder mystery stuff, so I'm sure that book would be awesome to look into!

  9. I love your book reviews! I have not read the KonMari book because from what I have heard, I would have the exact same reaction as you! After reading your thoughts I am more confident than ever that I should not waste my precious reading time. Thanks! :)

  10. I love your book reviews! I have not read the KonMari book because from what I have heard, I would have the exact same reaction as you! After reading your thoughts I am more confident than ever that I should not waste my precious reading time. Thanks! :)

  11. I'm reading the Martian right now! A bit of the science stuff is hard for me to keep up with, but I'm loving it otherwise!

  12. i found a few good tips from the KonMari book, but overall I didn't find it very helpful with kids around. I just can't use her method while watching kids lol

  13. I'm soooo laughing at the Kondo Voodoo comment above! ha!

    To me, there are pros and cons to the book.

    Pros: It has helped me get rid of the clutter and I'm grateful for that. I have been a 'kind of minimalist' but this just honed down HOW to get rid of things. The things I've KM'd are very nice and tidy and even my hubby is loving his drawers.

    Cons: I think the book lacks in translation and comes across as odd and quirky. I don't KM to obsession but use it as a general guideline. My biggest problem with the book is that she pushes animism where every item is a living entity and that we are to thank it for serving us and sparking joy in our lives. That just is NOT going to happen. I'd rather thank God. :)


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