July 14, 2015

Summer Reading Roundup

Catching up on some long overdue book reviews. Today I'm sharing short reviews and linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for Quick Lit. For the rest of July I'll be sharing a few more books that call for a more in-depth treatment in a longer review.

Having the boys home on summer break has only slightly diminished my reading time, mainly because I switched from podcasts to audiobooks for my commute to work. I have complicated feelings on audiobooks-am I the only one?! I love them for non-fiction or lighter fiction, but if I hit a scene that is a little intense, then I can't skim through it the way I would reading the book myself. I'm still convinced that is why I couldn't get through Eleanor and Park last year. (I know, I know, I'll read one of Rainbow Rowell's books eventually!)

This month I read mostly mysteries and I don't think that is at all coincidence. They are what I grew up reading and are still comfort reading to me. Nothing makes me happier than discovering a new mystery series with a whole backlist to devour in row! I'm always looking for new ones-any suggestions?

The Green Mill Murder by Kerry Greenwood

I listened to this one and I'm convinced this series is perfect for audiobooks. The narration is fantastic and clear (so you can listen at 1.25 speed), the mysteries are just complex enough to be interesting, but not so much that you will get lost if you miss something and Phryne Fisher is FUN. She's an unconventional lady detective in 1920's Melbourne, Australia. She has a charming band of characters as her helpers, is smart as a whip and occasionally risqué, but always delightful. In this book, Phryne finds a link between the murder of dancing contest contestant and the new lives soldiers who came home shellshocked from the Great War must build for themselves. (The books have also been made into a FANTASTIC tv series in Australia, and the first two seasons are on Netflix right now. I'm anxiously waiting for the 3rd series to show up on Acorn TV!)

Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil by James Runcie

The 3rd book in this series of short stories was less satisfying than the previous entries. Sidney is married now, and several of my favorite characters are not in the stories as much, but I'm not sure if that is quite the reason. The stories felt darker and more disjointed and I think perhaps the larger story arc that connects through all the short stories wasn't as strong as usual. If you love the series, you'll still like it. The first in the series is still the best (another series that inspired a great tv series, Grantchester on PBS, starring James Norton as a very dishy version of Sidney.)

Medal for Murder by Frances Brody

Another audiobook mystery. This one is the second in the Kate Shackleton series about a woman between the wars in England (sensing a theme here?) who has turned her search for missing people into a private detective business. In this, her investigation of a pawn shop robbery is unexpectedly connected to the murder of a fellow theater-goer. Kate is becoming more confident in her abilities and  her identity as a woman rather than another war widow.

Unnatural Habits by Kerry Greenwood

Another Phryne Fisher. In this one her search for a missing female journalist touches on the conditions of the women working in the Church-run laundries and the dangers faced by women of the lower classes who could be exploited in any number of ways. Despite the underlying serious issues it covers, the book is still fun and would be considered a "cozy" mystery.

Design Mom: A Room by Room Guide to Living Well with Kids by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

This book is singlehandedly responsible for me getting back to work on the house. I was gung-ho when we first moved in and then winter killed all my motivation. This book is full of pictures and practical advice, but is so inspiring. She insists that you can have a house that is beautiful and functional with kids and makes it feel attainable. This is not a design book that shows family homes that no real family could live in. Definitely one to pick up!

Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen

I love all of Rhys Bowen's other mystery series (Her Royal Spyness and Evan Evans) but for whatever reason never picked up this one. Molly Murphy is a outspoken young woman in Ireland who finds herself on the run after an incident with the landowner's son. She ends up in unusual circumstances on a boat to New York and must create a life for herself in a city where she knows nobody. Nobody that is, except for the handsome police officer who thinks she is hiding something after a murder on Ellis Island! I ordered the second book for my Kindle before I was finished with this audiobook, and I'm tearing through it as we speak.

What's up next?
The Nesting Place by Myquillen Smith
Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen
Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin
The Happy Hour Choir by Sally Kilpatrick (who is pretty awesome on Twitter too)

What have you been reading lately? What should I add to my out-of-control To Be Read pile?

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