11.18.2011

Challenge complete!

Back in August and September, I read a ton of books. Okay, maybe not a full ton but quite a lot. I was reading several heavy non-fiction books so I needed some fun light fiction to balance out my brain. And I was gone for almost 3 weeks so instead of bring a huge bag of library books, I grabbed a ton of free kindle reads, many of which were historical fiction. The result is that not only did I complete my challenge, I kinda decimated it. So instead of writing about all the books I read, I’m only posting about the ones that didn’t stink:

5 more rhys bowen books catching up with both the Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series (reviews here). Now I have to wait for her to write more :-(

The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser
This is a Christian book that doesn’t read like one. (How sad is it that I mean that as a compliment) I was about 1/4 of the way through and still didn’t know it was a Christian novel until I saw World Magazine review on the author. Of course, by the end of the book it became quite clear that the author had a message but never in a “oh, I’d better stick a God reference in here somewhere” type of way. Mary’s faith is a central element to the story but in what I felt was a realistic manner, one that a Christian would relate to. 
I really liked this book because I felt quite a kinship with the main character Mary Swan, her struggles to deal with the tragedies in her life, and with her responsibility to her community and world. Those are all things I’m going through right now so even though this is a coming of age story and Mary is in high school, I felt connected to her.

Also, it is set in Atlanta and having lived there, it was neat to recognize the places she describes. I just found out there is a sequel and I’m excited to pick it up.

Ransom’s Honor by Kaye Dacus
This one was so-so. I liked the characters, Julia, a 29-year old daughter of an Admiral who has come back to England after having spent the last several years running her father’s plantation in Jamaica,  and William, a British naval captain. They were strong and likeable, even in their dislike for each other. Several of the minor characters where quite delightful although the antagonists seemed a bit cliché. And the plot was interesting and several twists really caught me off guard. Writing this, I feel like I should have liked it more than I did. Actually, I think I did like this but the next in the series deals mostly with my least favorite character of the first so that is why I didn’t want to read the next. Maybe I should stop waiting so long before I write the reviews :-)

The Preacher’s Bride
A fictional story loosely based on the life of John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim's Progress. I didn’t know that until after I finished the book and I think I would have enjoyed this more had I known that at the beginning or if I had known more about the historical setting. But now I want to know more so that must say something.

Sixteen Brides
This could have been really good, but just wasn’t quite there. Sixteen women head west to Nebraska, lured by free land, independence and a chance for a new life. There are a lot of “main” characters (not 16 though, don’t worry) but it wasn’t that I had trouble keeping track, they were had fairly distinct characters. I liked several of the storylines better than others but it was all to easily wrapped up by the end - like a hallmark movie. But if you are in the mood for a hallmark movie book, this one isn’t bad.

The Innocence of Father Brown (ht to Elaine for the e-reader freebie share)
I can’t believe I’ve never read any Father Brown before. I really enjoyed these little logical mysteries. I think I will consider myself Mensa ready if I can ever figure them out before hand but I’m not holding my breath. That little priest is very clever. They are perfect for reading on the go or when Lucy is distracted and I can pick up a book without her wanting to see what I’m doing since they are short and I can stop and go without losing my place, mentally speaking.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie King
It’s 1915 and Sherlock Holmes has retired. At least until he meets 15 year old Mary Russell and decides to mentor her. The premise is a bit odd so this book, which must have belonged to either my mom, dad or brother, sat in the guest bedroom on the nightstand for quite a while before I was bored enough to pick it up one night. But now I’m hooked. I like Mary, she’s intelligent and a bit edgy but personable. I even like Holmes. Now King does take some liberties with Holmes’ character but she admits it and moves on. Since finishing this mystery, I’ve gone back and read some of the original Holmes and it’s interesting to see the difference. I probably shouldn’t admit this because it will reflect badly on my literary skills, but I think I like King’s better. I’ve already read three of the sequels (A Monstrous Regiment of Women, A Letter of Mary, The Moor, and O Jerusalem).

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanne Raybourn
I’m a fan of Deanne Raybourne’s Lady Julie Grey Series and an occasional reader of her blog, I thought I would try this one, even though (with that one sad exception :-) I’m not normally not a big fan of the vampire/gothic genre. It was the plot of this book that really kept me going – as soon I as I thought I had it figured out, something changes. But the characters are just not the same as the Julie Grey series. I didn’t really relate to Theodora much nor did I particularly care for the count (he’s certainly no Brisbane). And the secondary characters and not nearly as developed as her other books. Also, despite their questionable covers, with a few exceptions, the Julie Grey Series is generally pretty clean. This one however seemed to match the cover more that I was excepting or appreciative of. It’s not bad but I’m ready for The Dark Enquiry (come on paperback swap!).

1 comment:

Karen@Candid Diversions said...

I'll have to look for that first one. I am all to familiar with the downsides of Christian fiction. (The "which character will make a profession of faith before the end" is way too easy in most).

I really enjoy (as fairly mindless entertainment) Deanna Raybourn's books (and her blog is delightful) but wow, the covers are almost always embarrassing. I guess they're one of my literary guilty pleasures.