Quick Lit: Recent Fiction Reads

Playing catch-up with reviews:

The Big FourBig Four: A Hercule Poirot MysteryBig Four: A Hercule Poirot Mystery by Agatha Christie by Agatha Christie
Probably my least favorite Poirot so far – it was laughably ridiculous with the plot devices (Super villains! A secret lair! Poirot cheating death at every turn!). Read it only if you are insistent on reading all of Christie’s work, but otherwise skip it in favor of some of her other books.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Speaking from Among the BonesSpeaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce NovelSpeaking from Among the Bones: A Flavia de Luce Novel by Alan Bradley by Alan Bradley

I still love Flavia, and still adore the audio versions of these books. Don’t start with this one though – begin with the first in the series, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. If you are at all a fan of mystery books, give Flavia a try.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


An Incomplete RevengeAn Incomplete RevengeAn Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs Book 5) by Jacqueline Winspear by Jacqueline Winspear

It took me FOREVER to get through this one, and I’m not sure why. I like the Maisie Dobbs series, but this one was not as compelling for me. I’m still looking forward to continuing on with the series however, as I do love Maisie’s character.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


A Curious BeginningA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell MysteryA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn by Deanna Raybourn

Fun elements to it, but not to the “you’ve got to read this book!” level. I may look for the second in the series when it’s published next year, because I am curious about where she goes with the characters, but it’s not a super high priority.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


GodmotherGodmother: The Secret Cinderella StoryGodmother: The Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon by Carolyn Turgeon

I don’t even know how to write about this one without giving spoilers galore. It’s a sort-of retelling of the Cinderella story, so if you like re-imagined fairy tales you may want to give this a try. This one is definitely darker, tilting away from the Disney side of the fairy tales spectrum towards the original, Brothers Grimm version side. It’s likely to stick with you though – I’m still thinking about it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

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

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Books I’m Looking forward to Reading in 2015

Quick Lit: Recent Kid Lit Reads

Lots to share about this month, as I did so much reading while on our vacation last month. Happily, most of them were really good too!

Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the MoonWhere the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin by Grace Lin

An amazing story, but do yourself a favor and get this in print, not an electronic version. My kindle copy didn’t let me fully appreciate the lovely illustrations Lin includes. It’s a bit of a mash-up (in the best way): part quest novel, part Chinese folklore retellings, part her own twists, but I loved it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Goose GirlThe Goose GirlThe Goose Girl (Books of Bayern) by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale

I’m a *huge* Shannon Hale fan, and this book does nothing to diminish my affection for her writing. Another fairy tale retelling of sorts, it’s a very satisfying story, and one I look forward to sharing with my kids (especially my daughters) when they get old enough to appreciate it (and old enough not to be bothered by a couple of parts). I’m also looking forward to reading the additional books in this series.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Turtle in ParadiseTurtle in ParadiseTurtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm by Jennifer L. Holm

Good historical fiction by a trusted author. Not an absolute must-read, but if you like historical fiction or are looking for more books for your middle-grade level readers to enjoy, this is a solid choice.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Storm WarriorsStorm WarriorsStorm Warriors by Elisa Carbone by Elisa Carbone (a reread)

Another solid choice if you’re looking for historical fiction, and this has a stronger connection to actual historical events if you’re searching for living books for homeschooling or afterschooling. Don’t think it’s only one to read for the educational aspect – it’s a good story, well told.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads


TangerineTangerineTangerine by Edward Bloor by Edward Bloor

Thought-provoking, if a bit odd at times. I’d hesitate to blithely hand it over to younger readers, as there is some bullying and related events that might make it emotionally challenging. It’s a very quick read, so it’d be easy to pre-read if you have any doubts as to it’s appropriateness for your reader.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow PlaceThe Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry by Julie Berry

Made me laugh in a very black-humor sort of way, but I got so tired of how every girl was always mentioned with her full nickname. As a farce, it’s amusing at times, but if you’re looking for any sort of realistic plot line or characterizations this doesn’t have it. If you’re in the right sort of mood for it though, it was entertaining enough that I looked to see if Berry had written additional titles.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


The Great TroubleThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called EelThe Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson by Deborah Hopkinson

Probably suffers a bit from me having fairly recently read The Ghost Map (an inspiration for the Hopkinson’s book). She does an admirable job of toning down the horrific reality of the cholera epidemic, and the perils of being an orphan at that time period. Unfortunately, as a historical novel, there’s too much telling and info-dumping. Eminently skippable, unless you’ve got a middle grade reader desperately interested in the time period and historical events depicted.

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Treasure HuntersTreasure HuntersTreasure Hunters by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Fast-paced and easy to read, with super short chapters, this seems to be written to appeal to reluctant readers, and I think it would work well at that. Not one I’m eager to continue reading the series, but I’m also not the target audience.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Penny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster by Joanna NadinPenny Dreadful is a Magnet for Disaster by Joanna Nadin

Another one that would work really well for reluctant or early readers. It’s three stories in one, with lots of white space on each page, and lots of illustrations scattered throughout the fast-paced, easy-to-read text. It also made me laugh at loud a couple of times, at the ridiculous situations Penny gets herself into.

Find the book: Print | Goodreads


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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Two years ago: Twitterature: The Tyranny of the Library Edition
Three years ago: Book Review: My Life in France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’Homme

Quick Lit: Recent Middle Grade and Young Adult Reads

Sparrow RoadSparrow RoadSparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor by Sheila O’Connor

Picked this one because of the author’s great first name. 😉 While that may be a bad way to pick a book, it worked out for me this time – it’s a delightful read. Beautiful language, appealing characters, and a storyline that works for upper elementary readers looking for books with a little more depth, but still on the gentler side. Recommended.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads


Touch BlueTouch BlueTouch Blue by Cynthia Lord by Cynthia Lord

Quiet book that introduces some of the challenges foster children face, in a gentler way that makes it more appropriate for younger readers. It feels a little unrealistic in its resolution, but that may just be me as an adult recognizing that real life doesn’t generally have such happy endings. Easy to read, and a good reminder to me to try others by Lord. Recommended.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Saint MazieSaint Mazie: A NovelSaint Mazie: A Novel by Jami Attenberg by Jami Attenberg

I wanted to love this book – I expected that I would. It’s based on a real individual, and she sounds like a fascinating woman. Plus it’s told in part via diary entries, and I do love that format. However, I was left underwhelmed. Mazie is mostly just … stuck in that cage selling tickets, and her voice in the diary didn’t always seem believable. The framing of the story also didn’t work for me. A heads-up as well: it’s a bit more graphic at times than I was expecting (or appreciated), so be aware of that before handing it over to younger readers or even teens, depending on their age and maturity. My complaints aside, the books gotten some rave reviews, so clearly it’s working for plenty of other readers, including a good friend of mine who adored it. Not recommended.

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If I StayIf I StayIf I Stay by Gayle Forman by Gayle Forman

Here’s where I sound heartless: I felt like the entire book was written in an attempt to make the reader cry, and no. I was not moved to tears by this book. (I was also reading it while traveling to my brother-in-law’s funeral, so I was perhaps especially untouched by the fictional heart-string-tugs). My cranky reading meter was also set off by a couple of ridiculous scenes in the book, and the too-good-to-be-true parents. Possibly just a case of “the wrong book at the wrong time,” and if it hadn’t been a book club pick I’d have never finished it. Not recommended.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


Where She WentWhere She WentWhere She Went by Gayle Forman by Gayle Forman

Also a book club pick, or I’d have certainly never read the sequel to If I Stay. It’s fine if you liked the first one, and you’ll probably enjoy following the story. I was less annoyed by specific scenes in this one, but more annoyed by a couple of major plot points. Not one I’d recommend, but it still might mostly be bad timing on my part to read this sort of story.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads


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

Quick Lit September 2015

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


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Quick Lit: Recent Christian Reads
Two years ago: Quick Lit: Recent Christian Reads

Quick Lit – Recent Christian Reads

The Message of the New TestamentThe Message of the New Testament: Promises KeptThe Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept by Mark Dever | Recent Christian reads reviewed by @SheilaRCraig by Mark Dever

Didn’t like this one quite as much as the companion book on the Old Testament, but that may just be because of my comparative unfamiliarity with some of the Old Testament books, which made me absolutely LOVE that one. This one is still a fantastic look at each book in the New Testament, in addition to one overview of the entire New Testament. Definitely recommended.

Prayer the Great AdventurePrayer, the Great AdventurePrayer, the Great Adventure by David Jeremiah by David Jeremiah

Enjoyed the structure to this one, as the second and third sections of the book focus on prayer lessons gleaned from Matthew 6 and John 17. Matthew 6 as an organizational framework for a book on prayer is familiar to me, but John 17 isn’t one I’ve seen before, and I really appreciated it.

The Heart of the BibleThe Heart of the Bible: Explore the Power of Key Bible PassagesThe Heart of the Bible: Explore the Power of Key Bible Passages by John MacArthur by John MacArthur

A great collection of verses, arranged thematically, with commentary by MacArthur following each verse. It would work well as a yearly devotional, as there are 52 verses featured.

30 Days to Understanding the Christian Life30 Days to Understanding the Christian Life in 15 Minutes a Day!30 Days to Understanding the Christian Life in 15 Minutes a Day!: Expanded Edition by Max Anders by Max Anders

A bit uneven, but still worth reading, especially as some of the sections were very good. Overall I preferred his book 30 Days to Understanding the Bible30 Days to Understanding the Bible by Max Anders, but either could make a good group study.

AngelsAngels: Who They Are and How They Help–What the Bible RevealsAngels: Who They Are and How They Help--What the Bible Reveals by David Jeremiah by David Jeremiah

An informative look at what the Bible says about angels, vs. what we are exposed to through popular culture, folklore, and other stories. I appreciated the section about what angels do, and why it matters.

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!

Most Memorable Books

I’m taking a mini blog break but instead of having no posts at all, I’m sharing some content that originally ran on another blog I had. I’ve updated the posts, but if you’ve been reading me for a long time, they may still be familiar.

Last year Anne from a Modern Mrs. Darcy had a “The Book That Changed My Life” Carnival. I didn’t participate because I couldn’t really think of a book that struck me as “This Book Changed Me.” But it did get me thinking of what books have been the most memorable.

Most Memorable BooksMost Memorable Books

  1. All those kid’s books that my mom read overandoverandover. Nope, no specific names here, because there were so many. I’ve got pictures of me as a toddler hefting a pile of books almost as big as me. I’ve got a picture of me passed out in the chair surrounded by books. I’ve even got a picture of me on the little kid potty, reading books.

    I wanted my mom to read those books so many times that she finally made her own books on tape, complete with a little chime to tell me when to turn the page. I would listen to them endlessly, so much so that I learned to read when I was barely 3 just from sheer repetition. A relative thought I’d simply memorized those books, and brought out new ones to test me. To her shock, it confirmed that I was really reading!

    Pure determination and desire (and a lot of repetition by my mom) opened up the world of books to me long before I’d have learned in school. It may be cheating because I don’t remember all the specific titles, but as a group the story of how I learned to read has entered family lore, as has the early start to my reading addiction.
  2. Little House on the Prairie

  3. The Little House on the Prairie seriesLaura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie series - one of my most memorable books. The books, not the TV series, which I always hated because of how it departed from the books.

    I read these countless times as a child, and certain scenes have stuck with me. Laura and her family using their coffee grinder to prepare the wheat for their small daily ration of bread in The Long WinterThe Long Winter - one of my most memorable books. All the glorious food described in Farmer BoyFarmer Boy - one of my most memorable books. Jack the brindle bulldog trotting along beneath their wagon as they traveled west.

    I’m anxious to share these stories with my children, and I hope they love them as much as I did.
  4. Anne of Green Gables

  5. Anne of Green GablesLucy Maud Montgomery's The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, ... Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside). I’m still determined to travel to Prince Edward Island someday so I can see the setting for this book and the others by L. M. Montgomery. Anne was so real to me, and her books made me long to have a close friend like her. I’m glad I have a daughter to share this book with her someday. And while I liked all of the seriesLucy Maud Montgomery's The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, ... Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside) well enough, the first bookAnne of Green Gables - one of my most memorable books was definitely my favorite.
  6. Jane Eyre

  7. Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre - one of my most memorable books. I read this as a fairly young child (around 3rd grade), and to this day I remember the shock some people expressed when they found out I was reading it. I didn’t get the surprise – there was nothing that complicated to understand in the book, and it had such an exciting ending. I did reread it a few years ago, to see how I liked it as an adult, and yes I missed some of the subtleties, but it’s still not anything I would say I shouldn’t have been reading, which is the impression I remember getting.
  8. All Creatures Great and Small

  9. The James Herriot books (All Creatures Great and SmallJames Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small - one of my most memorable books, All Things Bright and BeautifulJames Herriot's All Things Bright and Beautiful (All Creatures Great and Small series) - one of my most memorable books, All Things Wise and WonderfulJames Herriot's All Things Wise and Wonderful (All Creatures Great and Small series) - one of my most memorable books, The Lord God Made Them AllJames Herriot's The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small series) - one of my most memorable books, and Every Living ThingJames Herriot's Every Living Thing (All Creatures Great and Small series) - one of my most memorable books). My mom got me started on these books, and she used to read one chapter a night. I’ve never had any interest in being a vet, certainly not a large animal vet in the Yorkshire Dales, but these books transported me. I still own them, and hope that my children like hearing them all, one chapter at a time.
  10. The Distant Summer

  11. The Distant SummerSarah Patterson's The Distant Summer - one of my most memorable books by Sarah Patterson. I first read this as a teen or maybe even a pre-teen as a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book. I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit how much I adored this story. It’s a sappy love story! Sappy love story or not, I read it multiple times, and have never forgotten the story or characters – it’s definitely one of my guilty reading pleasures! I’ve always wondered if I would still love it as an adult, so writing this post made me curious enough to order the book (long out of print, there are used copies available). I’m somewhat scared to see if reading it now will taint my fond memories, but I’m going to try it anyway. Someday.
  12. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

  13. The Harry Potter seriesJ K Rowling's Harry Potter series - one of my most memorable books. I was an adult when I read this series, but it’s so special to me because of my grandmother. She loved to read and in the last years of her life, when she was unable to get out much, I would do my best to keep her well stocked with reading material. As her eyesight continued to diminish, she got pickier and pickier about what she would read; it had to be worth the effort, and she knew she only had so many more books left that she’d get to.

    Harry Potter made the cut, and we would both anxiously await the newest volume. I bought very few new books, especially fiction, but made an exception for Harry. There was no way we’d be able to wait to get a copy from the library!

    I think I was more upset than my grandmother when book 6Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6), was too heavy for her to hold, and so remained unread. She died before the final bookHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) - one of my most memorable books was ever published.

    I still love Harry Potter not just for the great story, but because it reminds me of my adored grandmother and how much she enjoyed it. And what a kick she got out of reading those “kids books.”

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Mini Reviews: Chemistry, Motherhood, and an Ordeal

Getting caught up on the backlog of nonfiction I have waiting in queue:

Why is Milk WhiteWhy Is Milk White?: & 200 Other Curious Chemistry QuestionsWhy Is Milk White? & 200 Other Curious Chemistry Questions by Alexa Coelho and Simon Quellen Field by Alexa Coelho and Simon Quellen Field
Too much chemistry for me, but I can see this being a good supplement for a student studying it. There are some at home experiments / projects that would probably be fun to try, and the instructions seemed quite clear. If you’re even slightly interested in some of the hows and whys behind hundreds more chemistry-related questions (like the title of the book, and plenty more), it’s much more readable than any general chemistry textbook I ever had the misfortune to use. Sorry, is my dislike of chemistry showing too strongly? It’s hard to fully judge the appeal of the book for a general audience, although I realize my feelings toward the subject makes me far from a general audience.

Carry on WarriorCarry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life UnarmedCarry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Doyle Melton by Glennon Melton
If you’ve read her blog, especially some of her viral essays, you’re familiar with her personal writing style. It’s memoirish, with lots of essays loosely arranged by overarching theme (somewhat anyway). If you’ve read her blog, many of them will be familiar, so there may not be a lot of fresh content. I like her voice and am somewhat in awe of her openness and honesty, and enjoyed the book quite a bit, even if the essay quality was inconsistent.

A heads-up if you’re considering it, but many of her essays do relate to parenthood. I’m not entirely sure how much I’d have enjoyed it if I’d tried reading it before having kids.

Winter of EntrapmentWinter of Entrapment: A New Look at the Donner PartyWinter of Entrapment: A New Look at the Donner Party by Joseph A. King by Joseph A. King
I’ve talked about this one here and there in some of my monthly update posts, but in case anyone has missed it: Do not waste your time reading this book. It’s written mostly to critique the more famous account, Ordeal by HungerOrdeal by Hunger by George Stewart, and much of the text is spent talking about how George Stewart got it wrong, and why he trusted the wrong sources and/or never used the right ones. Academic sniping is so much fun said no one ever. The writing style is dull dull dull, and I had to force myself to finish it. And then I kicked myself for bothering.

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Favorite WWII Books

World War II-themed books are a special interest of mine, although it’s only been in recent years that I’ve branched out from Holocaust memoirs to reading more general accounts of the War and events surrounding it.

Favorite WWII Books: Unbroken by Laura HillenbrandUnbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionFavorite WWII Books: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand by Laura Hillenbrand

A book that I imagine everyone has already heard about, but I just finished it and wow. What a story.

Hillenbrand is a gifted storyteller, and traces Louis Zamperini’s life from his childhood, through his Olympic race in Berlin, to his grueling ordeal in World War II and beyond. I appreciated how Hillenbrand, while focused on Zamperini, also steps back occasionally and discusses the bigger picture. This not only shines a spotlight on the experiences common to other soldiers and POWs, but it gives a breather from the intensity of Zamperini’s compelling saga.

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