Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Books of 2013 - August

For a little bit in August it was looking like I wouldn't finish very many books. By the 12th I had only finished three. Three! For some folks that would be OK but that is fairly a-typical for me. Anyway, by the twenty-second I started getting back in my reading groove and finished seven more, bringing my total to a respectable ten.

That was a close one.

What were the books? Glad you asked:

1. Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. Fiction by James Runcie.
My Goodreads review: Delightful collection of related mysteries. Cozy, but not so cozy as to bore you. Well rounded, engaging characters. I look forward to more of these.
Time and place: 1953, post-war England. Hero: Sidney Chambers, Vicar.
Recommended if you like:The Father Brown Storiesby G.K. Chesterton.

2. The Reluctant King: The Life and Reign of George VI. Non-fiction by Sarah Bradford.
My Goodreads review: Decent effort but not breaking any new ground. I would rate this higher (I gave it 3 stars out of 5) but Bradford references The Duke of Windsor's memoirs without the skepticism they deserve, especially when referring to the childhood of the future George VI. She in unnecessarily harsh toward George V (father of George VI), even contradictory at times. I would recommend this book for anglophiles and royal watchers only, who can compare it to other books and form a more rounded picture.
Recommended if you liked the movie The King's Speech.

3. Above Suspicion. Fiction by Helen MacInnes.
 My Goodreads review: Somewhat dated but well-written pre-WW2 novel. Published in 1941, set in 1939. I think some of the illusions and dialog went a bit over my head, but all in all I enjoyed this as much as I would a period movie.
Recommended if you like:The 39 Stepsby John Buchan or any film noir / spy pictures from the 1930's and '40's. (Note: do try to get a vintage copy rather than the reissued paperback linked to above. The vintage cover will help you get in the right mood.)

4. The Christie Curse. Fiction by Victoria Abbott.
My Goodreads review: Cozy, not challenging, fun like cotton candy, very few objectionable elements (very rare swear words). Never makes you hold your breath as you wonder what will happen and is rather easy to put down instead of one of those books that you stay up until 3 AM to finish. Some plot points are dropped like anvils on your head. And yes, not to brag, but I did figure out the bad guy(s) sooner than I would have liked.

Still, made for nice, unobjectionable reading on a rainy day. I'd probably check out the next in the series, just to see if the series gets stronger
Recommended if you like: the Hannah Swenson series by Joanne Fluke or other modern cozy mystery series.

5. The Affair of the Blood-Stained Egg Cosy. Fiction by James Anderson.
My Goodreads review: Fantastic. Loved every bit until the end when I was slightly let down by at least one of the resolutions. I say at least one because there are many.

Other than that, thoroughly enjoyed this whodunnit, especially the non-inspector detective. He may not be "sanguine, not sanguine at all," but he's a fabulous character. Can't wait to read another by this author.
Recommended if you like: the Roderick Alleyn mysteries byNgaio Marsh or the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn

6.The Honest Toddler: A Child's Guide to Parenting. Non-fiction (or is it?) by Bunmi Laditan. Hilariously true to real life. The Honest Toddler is one of my favorite "make you laugh out loud" Twitter feeds. This book is an extension of that and yes, I laughed out loud (for real) while reading it. Raising a toddler is not for wimps, that is for sure. {Goodreads}
Recommended if you like The Honest Toddler on Twitter or Facebook or any other parenting "we'll laugh so we don't cry" book.

7. Mr. Darcy's Guide to Courtship. Fiction by Emily Brand.
My Goodreads review: Mildly funny, I suppose, but not nearly witty enough to tempt me. One cannot imagine the impeccable Mr. Darcy thinking some of the things in this book, much less writing them. Mr. Darcy does not "seduce". He leaves that to the rakes of this world (and knows there are many).

A well researched and stylish book, but not true to Austen's Mr. Darcy and therefore, inexcusable.
Recommended only if you read anything Jane Austen related you can get your hands on.

8. How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Non-fiction by Paul Tough.
My Goodreads review: Clear and concise on very tricky subject. I was starting to feel critical of the premise of the book but the ending calmed by objections (specifically as to whether the goal should really be for all US students to go to college). This is a controversial subject and it is obvious that the author does not agree with another author who has dealt with these issues (Charles Murray) but this is a reasonable book that could possibly help unite left and right viewpoints.
Recommended if you liked the book NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.

9. The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said. Non-fiction by Robert Byrne.
My Goodreads review: OK, but not great. Possible the "snarkiest" things ever said but certainly not the wittiest. (For one thing there was not nearly enough Winston Churchill)

Also: this would more properly be titled "The 2,547 Slightly Wittiest Things People Said" since #835 is a duplicate of #801.
Recommended if: you like random collections of quotes.

10. The Sibyl in Her Grave. Fiction by Sarah Caudwell.
My Goodreads review: Marvelous style and memorable characters. A true loss that we only have 4 mysteries from Caudwell. I was a little let down at the end, it wasn't the ending I wanted. And I'm very disappointed that there won't be any more. This reminds me of the time I finished the 4th Julian Kestrel book (Kate Ross) and then found out the author had died. Definitely gone too soon.

On the other hand, I was disappointed that this book glorified "alternative lifestyles", and the ethics in this book are questionable at best. And how obtuse am I that I didn't even realize, until researching this author a bit more on Goodreads, that the series never tells us whether the narrator is a man or woman. I had simply assumed woman from the first book on and never gave it a second thought. Strange to find out it might not be so.
Recommended if you like: The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin.

Totals for August:
Fiction: 6 (5 mysteries)
Non-Fiction:  4

So, what did you read in August?
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1 comment:

  1. I think I only read two books in August. So sad. It's been one of the most challenging parenting months for me ever, and some things have fallen to the wayside. Hope to rev it back up this month. :)

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