Tuesday, August 15, 2017

May and June Books

I'm still catching up on my book reviews.  Here goes!


I just love reading Elin Hilderbrand in the summer!  She is from Nantucket, and all of her books take place there.

This book is actually 10 years old.  I am always checking out the Hildebrand section in the library to see what is available, and this book was!  It is about three women who have very different life issues going on--one has cancer, one is pregnant through IVF but just found out her husband is cheating on her, and one just lost her career in academia because of an affair--and a young man who, because he starts babysitting the kids, gets wrapped up in the whole situation.  It's funny and sweet and, as usual, makes me want to go to Nantucket so badly!

The Secret Wife

I found this on my kindle account so I read it.  I don't know if it's popular or if anyone else has read it, but I did enjoy it (edit: Apparently it is, or at least that's what Amazon says).  It's a time lapse book, flipping from the present in the US to 1914 in Russia.  This story tells about the Romanov's, their life, capture, and eventual death.  But the premise is that one of the daughters secretly married.  

One of the reasons I enjoyed this book was that I learned a lot about the Romanov family and the history of everything because of this book, both by what was in it and by reading outside sources when I was done.

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore

I loved this book!  It is about a secret literary society that is working on an elaborate puzzle, and how some young new members manage to solve parts of that puzzle using technology.  It reminded me of a grown up version of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

The Bookshop on the Corner

I kept seeing this book recommended, so I finally checked it out.  It's good, in a You've Got Mail sort of way.  The main character moves from a library job in the UK to a small village in Scotland and starts selling books out of a van.  It is cute and pretty happy.  This would be a good book to cuddle up with in the winter.

A Share in Death

Anne Bogel has recommended Deborah Crombie several times, especially for people who love Louise Penny's mysteries.  Since I do love Penny's books (a new one comes out in just a couple of weeks!), I thought I would give Crombie a try.  

This book is the first of her Duncain Kincaid and Gemma James series.  I really enjoyed it.  The book felt like a more modern Agatha Christie book (not as good, of course, but, really, who is as good as Agatha?).  I have since read another Crombie book.  I don't think she'll be an author I am preordering (like Penny), but I do plan on slowly reading through her mysteries.

Greenglass House

This was a fun middle grades read!  Milo lives with his parents in a huge old hotel for smugglers.  The week of Christmas, when the hotel is supposed to be closed, a slew of mysterious guests show up.  It's mysterious, but not too scary.  I can't wait to recommend this book to students!  Plus I have the pdf of the galley for the next book in the series.

The Course of Love

This was another book that I kept seeing recommended.  First of all, the cover is beautiful.  It should get points for that alone.

The book tells the story of one couple's love, from meeting, dating, marriage, kids, etc.  I didn't like this book, until the very end, which is a strange thing to say about a book.  It just was very introspective.  After every event, the author would analyze the events and emotions.  It was a little annoying.  But by the end, he wrapped it all up nicely and I really liked the book.

The Handmaid's Tale

I started this book in high school and never finished it.  I decided it was high time to give Margaret Atwood another chance.

Y'all, so good.  Also, so creepy and scary, mostly because I could see parts of this happening.  The book is dystopian fiction about a new America.  If you like dystopian literature and have never read this classic, do it.  Also, add 1984 and Brave New World (the original dystopian books) to your list.

The Distant Hours

I have yet to read a Kate Morton book that I didn't enjoy.  Her books are time lapse, meaning they slip back and forth between some time in the past and the present.  This book is about three sisters who live in a castle, a literal castle, in the English countryside and a girl who meets them in their later years.  Morton's books always have some sort of shocker at the end, but it's not too crazy.  I would never call her books thrillers, but they have enough of the unknown to make you not want to put them down!

The Lost Book of the Grail

This is one of my favorite books so far this year.  It is about Arthur Prescott, an English professor at a small cathedral town in England.  He is in search of the grail, and his search leads to a mystery that is hidden in books.  It is basically Mr. Penumbra's but set in England and involving the medieval ages.

It was a really fun read, but I also enjoyed the writing as well.  Plus, I LOVE reading books involving anything medieval (e.g. Pillars of the Earth).

Death of a Blue Blood

Listen, I know Murder She Wrote isn't high literature.  I know only 80 year olds watch the show or read the books.  But I just can't tell you how much I love these books.  They make me happy.  Also, I am a closet 80 year old, so I guess it's fitting.

I actually listened to this book on audible.  It's about Jessica Fletcher (duh) and she solves a mystery (duh).  Personally, I would have a complex if that many murders happened around me, but not good ole Jessica.  She solves a murder mystery in an old English castle, and it is just delightful.

Two Part Invention

Hands down this is my favorite book of the summer.  I am a HUGE Madeleine L'Engle fan.  She has been my favorite since middle school.  Someone gave me this book a couple of years ago (I think they were cleaning out their shelves), and I hadn't read it.  Two Part Invention is the fourth in a series of four non fiction books that L'Engle put out, titled The Crosswick Journals.  The books were written from her journal entries during specific times in her life, all centered around life at her house in Connecticut. 

This book is about her husband's cancer, and it is just so beautiful.  Over and over in my life, L'Engle's words have shown me the beauty of the gospel, and this book was no exception.

"I have come to the hospital this morning just after receiving what my friend Tallis calls "the holy mysteries," bread and wine which are bread and wine but are also more than bread and wine, since the bread and wine, like the stars, like the snow, like all of us, is made of the original substance of creation, that which Jesus put on as human flesh.  It is by these holy mysteries that I life, that I am sustained."


I referenced this book in another review post.  This is the book about the girl who writes Simon Snow fan fiction (the fan fiction book, Carry On, was later published by Rainbow Rowell).  But the book isn't about the fan fiction so much as the writer, a twin who goes to college and has to figure out life apart from her twin.  

I'm trying to read more YA even though I'm not usually a huge fan.  This book, though, totally breaks the YA mold.  Rowell is an amazing author.  Her characters and the dialogue are very believable (one of my main complaints about most YA).  Read this book!

Mourn Not Your Dead

I went with another Deborah Crombie mystery.  Again, this book feels slightly like a modern Agatha Christie, which I enjoyed.  No major twists in the mystery, but it's also not so cut and dry or even predictable (I'm looking at you, Mary Higgins Clark).  Duncan Kincaid is investigating the murder of a higher up in the force, which uncovers a lot of hidden issues.

Also, I read this out of order, and it was totally fine that way.  If you are thinking of reading Crombie, I definitely don't think you need to worry about following the order of the series.

The Inquisitor's Tale

Another middle grades read.  This one is on the DCF list for this coming year, which is a list of children's books in Vermont that teachers and librarians have picked as the best for that year (guess what committee I now want to be on...?).

This book is about three children from totally different back grounds who are being pursued by the king because of their talents.  It's set in medieval England and is both funny and thought provoking.  I would love to use this with a literature group because I think there is a lot of depth. 

Alright, I'm finally almost caught up!

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