Introducing September’s Book Club Selection: Burial Rites

Burial RitesBurial RitesBurial Rites by Hannah Kent by Hannah Kent

What It’s About

Description from Goodreads:

A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Why Was This Title Selected

I love historical fiction that’s inspired by real events. Add to that an unfamiliar time period and location – I’ve been intrigued by this title since I first heard about it. Top it off with stellar reviews (including glowing reviews for the Audible version – apparently the narrator is amazing) and it was an easy pick for the year.

Anything Else to Know About It?

Kent’s debut novel has won multiple awards, including the ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, the Indie Awards Debut Fiction Book of the Year and the Victorian Premier’s People’s Choice Award. It was also nominated for numerous other awards.

We’ve started the discussion about the book, but you’re welcome to join in when you can.

The title is available in print, for Kindle or Nook, or on Audible.

What’s Coming Up in October?

The Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy HollowThe Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
by Washington Irving

Why did I select it? I wanted something that gave a bit of a nod to Halloween, but I’m too much of a reading wimp to pick a true horror story. And at just over 100 pages, this helps bring down the average page count for the year.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: there are several audible versions available. I’ve linked to the cheapest one – it’s under $1, but there are others as well.


See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago:
Two years ago: Bookworm Problems: Impatiently Waiting for the Next Book in a Series
Three years ago: Series Review: Graceling Realm (Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue)

On Rereading Books: Still Life

Still LifeYears ago I read Louise Penny’s novel, Still Life. It introduced a new mystery series set in Canada.

And I was thoroughly unimpressed with it, and proceeded to ignore future books in the series as they were released.

Except. Friends whose reading tastes I trust kept saying good things about her books (especially on audio). They said that the first wasn’t her best, but that the series improves.

There’s so many things to read, it’s hard to justify rereading a book I didn’t like, in the hopes of it turning into a series I like, but I do trust my reading friends.

Last week I reread Still Life, with the plan being just to get it read to reintroduce myself to the characters, with the expectation of continuing on with the series.

And I don’t know if it was the (very) low expectations I had, or if it was a different stage of reading life, but I really enjoyed it. Now I’m left wondering why I thought so poorly of the book the first time through. This is when it would be helpful if I’d been blogging about my reads all along; all I have is that star rating, with no comments. Was it a mistake – had I meant to type 3 stars and my finger slipped? Was I in a particularly cranky mood when I read it and nothing would have pleased me? It’s a mystery, one that no detective will solve for me.

On the bright side of things, it means I have the entire Penny series to look forward to reading, thank you very much Jessica and Sarah and Janet and Anne.

On the not-so-bright side, what other books or series have I potentially been ruling out because of a bad first experience, when if I tried them again I might think quite differently about them?

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal. Jane Neal, a local fixture in the tiny hamlet of Three Pines, just north of the U.S. border, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more, but Gamache smells something foul in these remote woods, and is soon certain that Jane Neal died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter. Still Life introduces not only an engaging series hero in Inspector Gamache, who commands his forces – and this series – with integrity and quiet courage, but also a winning and talented new writer of traditional mysteries in the person of Louise Penny.

Book Details

Title: Still Life
Author: Louise Penny
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 3 Stars

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Book Review: Poison

Snow Angels by James Thompson

Snow AngelsSnow Angels by James Thompson

Loved the setting, liked the premise and main characters, and the story showed a lot of promise early on. It went off the rails at the end – lots of coincidences and I was all but rolling my eye sat how everything resolved. I’m undecided about reading more in the series – I’m a bit intrigued by Vaara and his wife and their situation, but don’t know if I care enough to give the author another shot. There are just so many other books to read instead…

What really keeps me from recommending them without hesitation, even to crime fiction fans, is the amount of graphic detail Thompson includes. If you’re familiar with Nordic Noir as a subgenre, this won’t surprise you, but I’d hate for you to go into it thinking it’s going to be a gentler mystery than it is. It’s not. Be aware of this if you’re a sensitive reader. I’m not a particularly sensitive reader and I still found myself wincing at times. If you like that subgenre I still think there are stronger options, but perhaps his plotting improves in later books.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
It is called kaamos–two weeks of unrelenting darkness and soul-numbing cold that falls upon Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle, just before Christmas. Some get through it with the help of cheap Russian alcohol; some sink into depression.

This year, it may have driven someone mad enough to commit murder. The brutalized body of a beautiful Somali woman has been found in the snow, and Inspector Kari Vaara must find her killer. It will be a challenge in a place where ugly things lurk under frozen surfaces, and silence is a way of life.

Book Details

Title: Snow Angels
Author: James Thompson
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Relentless by Darcy Wiley

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight RiotMidnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Jessica (Quirky Bookworm) shared about this title and made it sound so appealing that I immediately looked for it at my library. Happily for me, I was able to get a copy right away and dove into it. I love mysteries and when someone adds a twist to it it’s extra fun. In Midnight Riot the twist is the paranormal element, and I really enjoyed it.

It’s the first book in a series, and I’ll be getting the next, Moon Over Soho soon(ish). If they all stay at this level, I’ll likely read the entire series.

While I wouldn’t say it’s a must-read, if it sounds interesting to you and/or it’s the sort of book you enjoy (an urban fantasy/crime fiction mashup) then it’s worth trying.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Book Details

Title: Midnight Riot
Author: Ben Aaronovitch
Category: Fiction / Mystery
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cover Love: The Princess Bride

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (and a linkup)

Cuckoo's CallingThe Cuckoo’s CallingThe Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) by Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J. K. Rowling by Robert Galbraith

While I found this mystery just a tiny bit slow to start, once I got pulled into the story, I was hooked. Galbraith (a.k.a. J. K. Rowling) is excellent at creating compelling characters, and I fell hard for Cormoran Strike and especially Robin.

The plot was fairly weak, but I didn’t mind that much as I enjoyed the characters so much. The ending was the worst part – somewhat contrived and confusing and yet I ended the book and immediately put #2 on hold from the library. I forgive a book a lot when I care about the personalities in it.

I know of at least one person who was unable to finish this book because she couldn’t get past it not being more like Harry Potter. If you think that would be an issue for you, I’d say pretend you don’t know that it’s Rowling writing under an pseudonym, and read this on its own merits only. It’s a solid start to a mystery series, and I’m eagerly anticipating reading more.

No, it’s not perfect, but it was a very satisfying read. There is a fair amount of language in it, so if that’s a concern to you consider yourself warned. Recommended for mystery fans.


Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion of Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey on August 1st.


If you’ve written a post about The Cuckoo’s Calling, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

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2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

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3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

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Quick Lit: Recent Series Reads

Harry Potter 1 2 3I’m in the midst of a Harry Potter readathon (so fun!) and have completed the first three books, and am thisclose to finishing book four. I’ve been listening to them all via Audible and while it takes longer (which is why I’m only just now almost finishing book four), I’m really enjoying the slower pace and wonderful accents that Jim Dale brings to it. Years ago I listened to some of them on CD, but it’s different hearing them now, after a break, and after completing the series.

Among the MadAmong the Mad (Maisie Dobbs #6). I think I enjoy this as a series more than any one book in particular – I like Maisie as a character quite a bit, and Billy is great too. I’m anxious to continue reading the series to see what happens with them both. Does Maisie find love again? Does Billy’s wife improve? Do Billy and his family move to Canada?

Flavia de Luce 6 and 7The Dead in their Vaulted Arches and As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (Flavia de Luce books 6 and 7). I’d been trying to read this series s-l-o-w-l-y because I don’t want to reach the point of no more to read. And now all I have left is a short story, The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse. I shouldn’t have too long to wait though, as book #8, Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d is releasing September 20th. I’m planning on pre-ordering the Audible version as soon as it’s available.

The Mystery of the Blue TrainMystery of the Blue Train (Hercule Poirot #6)
Fairly convoluted plotting, but I still enjoy Christie and will keep reading her.

For more peeks at what people are reading, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Quick Lit July 2015
Two years ago: Favorite Books from the first half of 2014
Three years ago: Best Books {from the first half} of 2013

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little LiesBig Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty by Liane Moriarty

Last month’s book club read, and I completely forgot to do a final wrap-up post about it. My apologies! I thought I’d have more blogging time during the summer but I’m not finding that to be the case – either I need to accept that this is the new reality of time available, and make adjustments to my expectations, or else hope that the school year structure will let me get back into my previous routine. Or maybe some of both?

Anyway, back to Big Little Lies. I LOVED it. Such a satisfying read, and it was a perfect vacation book – compelling and easy to read, but enough depth that I didn’t feel like I was wasting my reading time on pure fluff. There’s some real substance to Moriarty’s stories that provides a lot to think about even as you’re swept along in her storytelling.

The structure was really enjoyable to me – I liked how she opened it with the big event, and then went back to the beginning to let the reader see how it got to that point. I liked the interviews that were interspersed throughout the text – it was fun seeing personalities emerge from those little snippets. I really liked how not only was I trying to figure out who the killer was, but also who the victim was!

A heads-up as well if you liked this one: Moriarty has a new title, Truly Madly Guilty releasing July 26. I am *so* excited about this, and keep going back and forth about pre-ordering the Audible version. Anyone trying it?

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

Book Details

Title: Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Author: Liane Moriarty
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cover Love: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Introducing July’s Book Club Selection: The Cuckoo’s Calling

Cuckoo's CallingJuly’s book for the Facebook book club is The Cuckoo’s CallingThe Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike) by Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J. K. Rowling by Robert Galbraith

What It’s About

Description from Goodreads:

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you’ve never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you’ve never seen them under an investigation like this. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

Why Was This Title Selected

I wanted a mystery for the year, and I’ve heard some really great things about this as a series. Plus I’ve been wanting to get to it since the fact that Robert Galbraith was really J. K. Rowling became news, and this was a way to prioritize it.

Anything Else to Know About It?

There are two more books in the series (so far) if you enjoy the first.

Discussion about the book is starting today, but if you’d like to join in the first few questions will be very general, and you’ll have time to catch up by the time we get into anything substantive. It’s available in print, for Kindle, or on Audible.

What’s Coming Up in August?

Climbing the Mango TreesClimbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in IndiaClimbing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India by Madhur Jaffrey by Madhur Jaffrey

Why did I select it? I wanted a memoir, and one with a non-US focus. Plus I am a complete fan of food memoirs, so any excuse to read another one of those is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.


See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Saving CeeCee HoneycuttSaving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel by Beth Hoffman

Charming and sweet story that was an ideal vacation read. It’s light enough that it fit well with my mood at the beach, but it has just barely enough depth to still be satisfying.

I can’t give it more than 3.5 Stars, no matter how perfect it was as a beach book, because of how it skirts around more meaty issues. Racism, child neglect, insanity, poverty, and death are all briefly addressed, but in a very superficial way. The wrap-it-all-up in a bow ending was enjoyable from an emotional standpoint, but intellectually I can acknowledge how unrealistic it all was.

Highly recommended, or not at all recommended, depending on what sort of book you’re looking for. The writing is lovely, and the occasional bits of humor had me chuckling. I’ll happily try another by Hoffman.

We’ll be reading this for my in-person book club in August, and I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else has to say about it, and finding out how well the feel-good novel works as a discussion vehicle.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Steel Magnolias meets The Help in Beth Hoffman’s New York Times bestselling Southern debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her mother, Camille, the town’s tiara-wearing, lipstick-smeared laughingstock, a woman who is trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen of Georgia. When tragedy strikes, Tootie Caldwell, CeeCee’s long-lost great-aunt, comes to the rescue and whisks her away to Savannah. There, CeeCee is catapulted into a perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity—one that appears to be run entirely by strong, wacky women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons; to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones; to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

A timeless coming of age novel set in the 1960s, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship, and charts the journey of an unforgettable girl who loses one mother, but finds many others in the storybook city of Savannah. As Kristin Hannah, author of Fly Away, says, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut is “packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart.”

Book Details

Title: Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel
Author: Beth Hoffman
Category: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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Katie Chandler Series Review (Enchanted, Inc)

Shanna Swendson's Katie Chandler seriesWhile Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc series actually includes seven titles, I only read the first five. So, the series review is admittedly incomplete as far as how the series ultimately resolves.

However, glancing at reviews of the final two titles doesn’t indicate that there is anything drastically different between them and the others, so I feel pretty confident with my overall comments.

A strength of the series is in the imaginative twist to often standard fantasy elements. There’s magic, fairies, spells, ogres, wizards, and (perhaps most fun of all) – gargoyles are real, and they don’t always stay in place. They’re all in what is otherwise a standard contemporary setting. Chick lit/light romance swirled together with fantasy – how fun!

I appreciated that the romance aspects never took over the entire story, and things are very tame. If you like more romance in your stories (or at least things to go beyond a few kisses), this may not be the series for you.

These aren’t great literature, but for amusing, nonchallenging reading I liked them enough to burn through five in a month or so. I only quit because I couldn’t get the sixth book quickly, and then was never motivated enough to try again for it.

Do I recommend it? Sure, if it sounds like something you’ll like, it’s entertaining. It’s not something I’d ever reread, or recommend you putting a lot of effort into obtaining. They’re great library books for when you want something really light – think beach reading!

Publisher’s Description of Book 1: Enchanted, Inc:
DON’T MESS WITH HEXES

Katie Chandler had always heard that New York is a weird and wonderful place, but this small-town Texas gal had no idea how weird until she moved there. Everywhere she goes, she sees something worth gawking at and Katie is afraid she’s a little too normal to make a splash in the big city. Working for an ogre of a boss doesn’t help.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, Katie gets a job offer from Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., a company that tricks of the trade to the magic community. For MSI, Katie’s ordinariness is an asset. Lacking any bit of magic, she can easily spot a fake spell, catch hidden clauses in competitor’s contracts, and detect magically disguised intruders. Suddenly, average Katie is very special indeed.

She quickly learns that office politics are even more complicated when your new boss is a real ogre, and you have a crush on the sexy, shy, ultra powerful head of the R&D department, who is so busy fighting an evil competitor threatening to sell black magic on the street that he seems barely to notice Katie. Now it’s up to Katie to pull off the impossible: save the world and–hopefully–live happily ever after.

Series Details

Series Title: Katie Chandler
Author: Shanna Swendson
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
Individual Titles:

  1. Enchanted, Inc.Enchanted, Inc. (Katie Chandler, Book 1) by Shanna Swendson
  2. Once Upon StilettosOnce Upon Stilettos (Katie Chandler, Book 2) by Shanna Swendson
  3. Damsel Under StressDamsel Under Stress (Katie Chandler, Book 3) by Shanna Swendson
  4. Don’t Hex with TexasDon't Hex with Texas (Katie Chandler, Book 4) by Shanna Swendson
  5. Much Ado About MagicMuch Ado About Magic (Enchanted, Inc. Book 5) by Shanna Swendson
  6. No Quest for the WickedNo Quest for the Wicked (Enchanted, Inc. Book 6) by Shanna Swendson
  7. Kiss and SpellKiss and Spell (Enchanted, Inc. Book 7) by Shanna Swendson
  8. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!