And, just like that July is over and another month of quite pleasurable reading tucked away on my bookshelf. It was definitely a delightful summer excursion. July began with the fast-paced, read it in a day, Back Lash, and I'm not sure the month ever slowed down. Celine, by Peter Heller, is definitely a new favorite and I'm putting his backlist titles into my holds cart at the library. I am continuing to read through the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear, slowly, not as ferociously as other series'. I enjoy each one but they just aren't as 'gripping'. Ruth Reichl hasn't failed yet so I am eagerly awaiting her other delectable reads. Liturgy of the Ordinary was probably the one I was most surprised by how much I enjoyed and learned from so much so I'm ordering my own copy. And, finally The Lost Man which was un-put-down-able, sitting on the edge of my seat, intriguing and mysterious.
As usual I have created 4 x 8 traveler's notebook (TN) size pages for each book I have read. This is how I am documenting what I am reading each month. My TN is thick. I will not be using a TN again for documenting what I'm reading unless I create an entirely different approach. I'm already considering how I will document my 2020 reading.
Without further ado: what I've been reading lately (July 2019)...
Back Lash by Brad Thor. I bought the book as soon as it was released to add to Jeff's entire Scott Harvath series collection. It was sitting on the end table next to the chair I sit on in the morning when we are reading together. I had five minutes before I had to leave for work. Jeff was fixing my coffee and fiddling around in the kitchen. I picked up Back Lash and read the first chapter. So gripping, so fast-paced, I tucked the book into my purse instead of setting it back on to the end table. It was going with me to work. With the weather superb and such an engaging read I finished Back Lash that very same day. Granted, I did nothing else. The stakes are high for former SEAL, former Secret Service agent Scott Harvath and current intelligence operative for an independent intelligence and security agency. Harvath is literally fighting for his life. 61/120
Messenger of Truth, a Maisie Dobbs mystery, by Jacqueline Winspear. I loved the storyline as Maisie Dobbs is hired by a twin sister whose brother supposedly committed suicide. The sister doesn't believe it was suicide and wants Maisie to find out the truth. While I liked the book I also felt it wasn't as engaging as her others. I wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat anxiously awaiting for what to happen next. It took a long time to get there and it seemed drawn out, choppy, and not Dobbs' normal way of handling a case. But, as I said, it came around and it was a satisfying ending. Definitely, some unexpected sadness, but for the time period probably necessary. 62/120
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren. A young adult (YA) time-traveling historical 'romance' fitting, and clean for young adults yet not cheesy for adults. I was thrust along by the story, engaged, and satisfied. Unsurprised but pleased by the ending, it did, however, leave an opening for book two. A teenager is sent back in time to medieval Italy and because of who her parents are and how she was raised what she knows and encounters and how she handles situations was just believable for me. "Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Bentarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. In Book One of the River of Time series, Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces. And, thus she comes to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?" - Amazon. 63/120.
An Incomplete Revenge, A Maisie Dobbs novel, by Jacqueline Winspear. Winspear weaves the historical with the fiction seamlessly to tell a phenomenal story of shared pain, shared lies, and a revenge that is incomplete. An Amazon reviewer says it best of An Incomplete Revenge, "always a refreshing change from the blood and guts that are common fare in most other detective fiction. Maisie, who bills herself as a “Psychologist and Investigator,” is unlike any other protagonist in crime fiction...With her base of operations in London, Maisie works under the ever-present pall of World War I. Though it’s now the 1930s, Maisie’s service as a nurse at a casualty clearing station near the front line in France was a dominant experience in her 'unusual life'...In An Incomplete Revenge, Maisie faces the lasting pain of her earlier years: the backstory of her family’s life, the class resentment she continues to bear as a child of poverty, the tension between her and her brilliant mentor, Dr. Maurice Blanche, and her lover’s worsening condition. In the face of all this stress, Maisie takes on what proves to be a challenging case on behalf of her dear friend, James Compton, the son of the aristocratic couple that sponsored her education." Her investigation takes her to a village where strange things have happened, to a village in southern England. a village that lies not far from the estate where she once served as a maid and her father still lives, tending the horses. It’s hop-picking season. The fields are crowded with Londoners, a small tribe of Gypsies, and villagers, all seeking to supplement their meager income. It’s 1931, and the Depression is well underway. All the land nearby, and the brickworks located on it, are the property of a single owner, who is universally despised in the area. Alfred Sandermere is a bully, a drunkard, and a wastrel. Maisie has come to Heronsdene because James wants her to look into the strange circumstances there, as he is interested in buying the estate. These circumstances include a series of suspicious fires, a rash of thefts at the Sandermere mansion and elsewhere, and the villagers’ mysterious refusal to talk about the Zeppelin attack that killed the local baker and his family in 1916. With mystery piled on mystery, this is a case tailor-made for Maisie Dobbs." 64/120
I Think You're Wrong But I'm Listening by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers. So here's my caveat. I have never listened to the podcast Pantsuit Politics which is hosted by the authors and actually how they were mostly likely able to sell a book. The did a good job. On the book. After a ho-hum beginning, once they moved into the nitty-gritty of 'debating' politics, or should I say, how to do it without mudslinging and nastiness, it was a really good book. It makes me believe I could have a political discussion with someone I disagree with politically if I apply these principles. 65/120
Celine by Peter Heller. I want to be Celine when I grow up (without the emphysema), although age-wise I better get my butt in gear because I'm pushing Celine's age. I adore Celine, the character and the book. And, Celine's husband Pete found a forever love right there. Celine is an 'older' private investigator who, along with her adorable husband Pete seek to bring families together. I wish this was a series because I love the protagonist and supporting cast of characters. Peter Heller writes beautifully and his use of imagery made me believe every second I was there, in the story. I loved how he seamlessly offered backstory to the characters from the characters' different points of view. This was just so good. 66/120
Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. Fabulous! True, it is long, very long for a memoir, but I think quite necessary to tell this part of her story from beginnings to endings. Engaging read, smart, and - delectable. 67/120
A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George. And just like that I've been sucked in. George has gone and done it. As if J.D. Robb, Louise Penny, David Balducci's (Memory Man series), Daniel Silva, and Jacqueline Winspear aren't enough authors with series' that I collect. Elizabeth George's The Lynley novel's (and there are 19 thus far, I know) are another I must have! I must. Sometimes the British language is difficult to follow but not even near deal-breakers, because I adore the flawed, yet endearing characters in this criminal procedural series featuring Inspector Lynley (and an Earl) of Scotland Yard and his newly promoted partner Detective Sergeant Havers who are assigned what appears to be an open and shut case, until they dig deeper - and I did not see that one coming! 68/120
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Written half in Epistolary communication between office girlfriends and half in first person prose from the IT security guy 'listening' in on office email conversations. This is a quirky, witty, laugh-out-loud, not-to-be-taken-seriously, really fun read. 69/120
Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado. The End of Me, Battlefield of the Mind, Love Does, Cherish, Everybody Always, The Screwtape Letters and, now, Facing Your Giants. These are the books Jeff and I have read aloud together each morning before work over the past 11 months, along with reading through the New Testament. We are reading for spiritual growth, spiritual connection, and putting God first in our marriage. Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado, a prolific Christian author, an engaging and a truly compulsory story was, is, applicable for both of us, uniquely, because we each are facing our own giants. We've identified our Goliath's. We recognize his heavy-trodden walk. We hear the thunder of his voice, loudly, ringing in our ears, taunting us. Lucado uses, the giant-slayer, David, to tell us a story of how to slay our own giants. David learned if we focus on our giants we will stumble. If we focus on God, our giants will tumble. 70/120
Liturgy of the Ordinary, Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. "When we gaze at the richness of the Gospel and the Church and find them boring, dull and uninteresting, it's actually we who have been hollowed out. We have lost our capacity to see wonders where true wonders lie...we must be formed as people who are capable of appreciating goodness, truth, and beauty." "Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes...we can't skip the sometimes dull and boring daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith." Warren, an Anglican priest - and while our theology differs somewhat, there is value in her written words where she addresses meeting God in the quotidian moments of daily life, those slow, steady routines, some even might say mundane. Yet, Warren suggests when seen through the liturgical lens, even the mundane can become sacred acts of worship. 71/120
Spymaster by Brad Thor. I hadn't planned on reading another Brad Thor, Scot Harvath series book but when Spymaster was sitting on the table (because Jeff realized he'd not read it yet and wanted to read it before picking up Back Lash), I decided to read the first chapter or so to see if it peaked my interest. It did. Fairly fast-paced and another enlightening world order, politically charged, counter-intelligence and hard-charged read. Brad Thor writes exceptional for the military minded and special operators and anyone else who is intrigued by what is happening in the world beyond what plays in the media. 72/120
The Lost Man by Jane Harper. Not quite as good as The Dry, Harper's debut novel but I thought better than Force of Nature, her second. A thriller, a suspenseful mystery set in the outback of Australia, the setting itself is blistering but the story is just as blazing hot. Piece by piece Harper chips away at the secrets of one family until they are exposed and so is the killer. 73/120.