Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What I've Been Reading: March 2017

It has been a month of murder, old favorites, and riveting reads this past month. Let me share!

Dyer Consequences, Fleece Navidad, by Maggie Sefton. Books 5 and 6 in Sefton's Kelly Flynn mysteries, these two delightful installments center around Kelly and her growing group of friends at a local yarn shop. In the first, Kelly is looking to sell her cottage and buy an alpaca ranch, which is reported to be haunted. Haunted or not, someone really doesn't want her to buy the ranch--her cottage and car are vandalized, causing Kelly and crew to jump into action to solve the mystery before someone really gets hurt. In the second, the holiday season has come to Fort Connor, and the knitters find themselves divided over a newcomer--some think she's an innocent victim, others think she's a cold-blooded killer with two bodies in her wake and more murder on her mind. These are great, fast cozies that always inspire me to pick up my knitting needles. If there's one flaw in the series thus far, it's that I find a few of the secondary characters too one-dimensional and I mix them up, but that could just be me.

Peach Cobbler Murder, Cherry Cheesecake Murder, by Joanne Fluke. These are books 7 and 8 in Fluke's Hannah Swensen Cookie Shop mystery series, which I've been reading slowly but steadily over the last few months. In book 7, Hannah finds herself in a double quandary: first, her shop is empty because her regulars are all at a new bakery down the street, and second, her competitor is none other than Shawna Lee, who is also her competition for the affections of the local sheriff. When Shawna Lee is found dead in her bakery, Hannah is a prime suspect and has to do some overtime sleuthing on the sly to clear her name. In book 8, Hollywood comes to town and everything is turned upside-down while a much-loathed director is shooting a new movie in the little town of Lake Eden. When said director is shot and killed by what should have been a prop gun, suspects abound and, of course, Hannah can't keep from helping out with the sleuthing. This series is really growing on me!

The Girl Before, by J.P. Delaney. This psychological thriller by the pseudonymous Delaney was inspired by the popularity of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and will be adapted for film, directed by Ron Howard. Two women, each vulnerable after very different personal traumas, find themselves drawn to a very exclusive rental home that asks them to leave everything in their lives behind. The home's innovative technology systems get to know their habits and preferences, but also restricts them due to the preferences of the home's architect and owner, a mysterious man with a tragic past of his own. The story is told in parts by each of the two women, whose experiences in the home are both very similar and wildly divergent. Full of twists, this was a novel I absolutely could not put down.

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. This is a re-read for me, and my book club is reading it for their April meeting. I found this just as engrossing and captivating the second time around. You can read my original review here.

The Stranger in the Woods, by Michael Finkel. This non-fiction title, about a man who lived as a hermit for close to three decades in the woods of Maine, fairly leapt at me last month. While I could certainly have devoured it in a sitting, I chose to read a chapter or two a night for a week, giving the story of Christopher Knight a chance to really sink in. In 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight drove away from his home in Massachusetts, then abandoned his car and walked into the woods with nothing more than the clothes on his back. For the next twenty-seven years, he avoided human contact and conversation, surviving by wit, courage, and sheer will through brutally cold winters. Finkel's book, based on letters and interviews with Knight after Knight's capture (and subsequent incarceration for years of burglaries he had committed in search of provisions), is absolutely captivating. This is a story that will resonate for years to come.

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. This was a favorite of mine many years ago, and I thought since this is also being made into a movie (filming now, due out in theaters Spring 2018, with some big names attached), I might revisit it. Meg Murry has a hard life. She feels like a fish out of water at school, not getting along well with classmates and not doing terribly well in her studies. She's fiercely protective of her "odd" baby brother, Charles Wallace, and is constantly worried about her physicist father, who has disappeared. When Meg, Charles and Meg's schoolmate, another oddball named Calvin O'Keefe, encounter the even odder trio of Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, they find themselves on an adventure through space and time to defeat evil and bring Mr. Murry home again. I loved it all over again.

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