Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Restorative Chick Lit

As a general rule,  I default to cozy mysteries. Mostly I default to this because I know what I am getting. I know how much violence, sex, and emotional trauma to expect. I know how much character stupidity to expect. When I venture outside of cozy mysteries, I sometimes find too much violence, too much emotional trauma, or too much character stupidity. But sometimes I get lucky and find a deeply refreshing book. A book that faces pain and characters that are determined to become better. There are people who are willing to give a hug or a shoulder to cry on or a boot to the backside. In my head,  I call these restorative chick lit. In recent memory, I can think of 3.

The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee. This one grew on me with age.  I don't know that I was so in love with it right after reading it. Actually, listening to it.  A small Southern town is in danger of losing its library, so the librarian and an unusual group of book lovers set out to save it.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus  by Beth Moore. Some might consider this to be a murder mystery.  I don't.  The characters are loveable and so honest. They are figuring out who they are and who they want to be and how to  get there.

Sweet Breath of Memory by Ariella Cohen. I'm actually on page 10 of this one,  but I've already taken taken a deep breath and settled in to enjoy these people.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Authors and Series' from 2016

There were several other books I wanted to mention in my top list, but they fell below the top 10. When I noticed that the books had authors and series' in common, I decided to do a separate post about them. So the following are authors I discovered or series' I discovered in 2016.


New Authors I Found in 2016

Sarah Addison Allen
Southern stories with a touch of magic realism. I didn't realize how much I like magic realism until I read a couple of her books. I knew I loved 100 years of Solitude and I knew that book is full of magic realism. I just didn't realize that was a primary reason why I loved the book.
I read The Peach Keeper and Sugar Queen this year. By read, I'm pretty sure that I listened to them on audiobook. And that added to the wonderful Southern atmosphere of the books. There is lots about friendship as well as romantic relationships. The characters learn and grow. They are wonderful.

Susana Kearsley
I read Mariana and The Shadowy Horses from her this year and bought another ebook, Named of the Dragon. History, a strong sense of place, light romance, and a little bit of magic make for some great books. I liked The Shadowy Horses better, but I will definitely be reading more from her.

Joe R. Landsdale
I only read one of his books, The Bottoms, but I heard an interview with him on a podcast as well. So there are a few other of his books that I have an eye on. There is mystery, a bit of suspense, some growing up to do, and a bit of danger. I was all over the place with my emotions as I read it. So I have to be in the right mood for this one, but I will be coming back to him.

Sarah Rayne
I was only able to get my hands on one of her books this year, but there are a couple others that I have my eyes on. There is mystery, history, and danger in The Bell Tower. It's good stuff.

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Cozy Mystery Series 

Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle. I read my first one of these in 2015, but then in 2016 I read about 3 more. So it is definitely one of my favorites. I love the setting of a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. I get frustrated with the romantic issues that seem to come up regularly in these cozy mystery series'. This series is no exception, but I will deal with the silly romance because the mystery and characters are worth it.

A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs.  I've read 2 or 3 of this series. Theodosia and Charleston, South Carolina are a great pairing. There is generally less romantic silliness in this series and there is so much to learn about tea as well. This series has convinced me to start drinking tea!

Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery  by Jane K. Cleland.  I think I also started this series in 2015 and continued it in 2016. I love learning about the antiques business. The premise for investigating in this series is strong. The romantic silliness is average in this series. The setting of New Hampshire and the characters are great. This is a series that I started with book number 8, I think. And I'm glad I did. If I had started with #1, I might not have continued so lovingly.

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley. This is not a cozy mystery series, but it is a series that I discovered in 2016 and I love it. The premise being that these sisters are descendants of the Brothers Grimm and learning to be in charge of the balance between the Everafters, fairytale creatures, and regular humans. Along the way, they are hoping to find and release their parents.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Top Reads of 2016

2016 was a great reading year. I read about 110 books. It was not a great writing year. Looking at the scarcity of posts on here that is obvious. I hope to do better this year. We'll see.

There were a couple that I didn't finish. However with 110 to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down. So this post will be my top 10. The next post I will post a few new favorite authors, a few new cozy mystery series, and a couple honorable mentions.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

The sense of place in this one is amazing. I could see the places and felt like I was walking the streets. The religious aspects of this were not pushy, but a natural outgrowth of the story. The characters are people that I want to sit down and talk to them. They grew as people throughout the book and it was great to see what happened. There is a bit of a mystery in the story as well and I always love this. I finished this one and had a happy sigh.

The Dead House

Oh my goodness! This book! It is told through emails, journal entries, and transcription of video. I listened to this one and the narrator was fabulous. The narrator is possibly unreliable and you know it. She seems to be a criminal as well, but how did this happen? That's what we discover. Is she mentally ill or possessed? Or both? This one still has me thinking about what really happened.  

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A man who owns a book store falls in love and becomes a dad in an unexpected way and then they keep on living. This is another one that I finished with a contented sigh. 

Vinegar Girl (Hogarth Shakespeare)

A girl needs to marry to help her dad's favorite assistant stay in the country. Sounds like a marriage of convenience, but is it? Kate and Pytor are just fabulous people. Just a story of a rather regular life made better by the people in it. Le sigh. Gorgeous.

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

This one made me huff in anger, close it because I just couldn't handle the amazingness, and sigh contentedly at the end. I loved how it wove the Brontë stories into this one. It really was hard to decide the order of #3, #4 and #5. Even thinking about it now, I want to rearrange them at least 2 other ways. All 3 left me happy at the end and didn't get me too upset throughout the novel. 
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

I finished a couple series' and started a couple others. This is one that I finished and I'm so glad I did. I read book one in this series when it came out and then left it sitting. I was burned by a couple series that will remain nameless. I started them and couldn't stand to finish them because they just didn't turn out very good. I had a student who encouraged me to pick up this series again. And I'm so glad I did. It is so amazing! And don't even bother with the movies. There is no way they could live up to this and they change important part for no good reason. Just read these and use your imagination. There is lots of imagining to do with these.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I have heard several people didn't like this series, but I am not one of them! I love the mix of futuristic science and fairy tales. I like more science fiction than I thought I did.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Again a mix of science and well-known stories. In this case the Island of Dr. Moreau and other classic novels in this series. I am in love with the Juliet, Edward, and Montgomery. Be still my heart!

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny  Lawson

I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this. I actually shed tears while laughing at this book. And I don't laugh out loud about much. (I have an odd sense of humor.)


Imagination!!! Again a good book, but the imagination is off the charts in this one. Oh so amazing.

Look for future posts about cozy mysteries, new authors, and more.