What I’m Reading 8/21/17

When preparing this post, I realized that I had written way too much content.  Since I’ve begun writing reactions/reviews/summaries in a notebook immediately after finishing a book, I’ve noticed that my comments have gotten a longer.  So I decided to do some shifting around, giving some of the books where I had more thoughts posts of their own.

Here, you can find my thoughts about several of my recent reads.  Keep an eye out over the next week for others–I’ve got a writeup for a fantasy novel primed and ready to go and, as soon as I finish Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab, I’ll give the Monsters of Verity duology their own post.

Here’s what I’m discussing this week:


Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

I’ve been eyeing this book for quite a while and I stumbled upon the available audiobook at my library at just the right time.  Taking place in ancient Japan, the setting, culture, and mythology of this book was very unfamiliar–which I loved.  It tells the story of Mariko, the daughter of an ambitious Japanese nobleman, who enters an arranged marriage with one of the emperor’s sons.  On the way to the royal city, her convoy is attacked and everyone is murdered.  Mariko escapes and, disguised as a boy, infiltrates the group of assassins that are the suspected culprits.

Everything about this book was so intriguing–from the magical forest where the Black Clan hides to the cultural value on honor to the mysterious Okami.  Although, at times, Mariko’s actions seemed foolish, I enjoyed her journey of finding a place where she belonged.  I have so many questions about the mythology and magic and, of course, what happens after that cliffhanger ending?!  I’m looking forward to the next book, whenever it comes out.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

If I had to come up with a single phrase to describe this book, it would be “delightful romp”.  It took me a long time to get into… but I pushed on.  It’s the story of two boys, the rakish Monty and more sensible Percy, as they embark upon their Grand Tour of Europe.  Accompanied by Monty’s sister, Felicity, things don’t go as planned.  When Monty steals a small box from the chambers of an important French Lord (while partaking in activities with a lady that are definitely ungentlemanly), the trio finds themselves on a whirlwind adventure, pursued across countries and oceans.  There’s highwaymen, pirates, a political plot, and (of course) a love story.  The tone of the novel is sarcastic and quick.

I found Monty’s rakishness really unpleasant at first, but he grows a great deal before the story’s end.  This was one of the hot new releases of the summer and I’m glad I read it.  It was quick, fun, and different than anything I’ve picked up this year.

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

I needed a fill-in read and, well, this was definitely a fill in book.  It’s the story of a father and daughter who own an apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin.  The orchard has been struggling financially for years and the family is under pressure to sell.  Amid this situation, they hire a young man and his son to help out for the summer.  This ends up being almost prophetic, because the father soon falls from a ladder and is unable to do any heavy work.  All hope, however, is not lost–the daughter has a passion for making hard cider, which could be the trick to saving the farm.

The story follows the familiar beats of a Hallmark movie.  I was drawn to the plot because I grew up on an apple orchard and was curious to see how the lifestyle was rendered in fiction.  The most interesting parts of the book, for me, were the inner workings of the farm–but, alas, the book was heavy on cheesiness and low on practicality.  (At least they got a marketing plan in place by the end of the book.)  It was an easy read… nothing to write home about.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard

Oh, the journey I’ve been on with this book.  I started reading it in May.  It was a long, three month slog.  I didn’t give it up purely out of love for the friends who recommended it to me.  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the Pulitzer Prize winning meditation on nature and the changing of seasons.  Dillard takes us through a year of observing the landscape around her home in Tinker Creek, Virginia.  Dillard writes beautiful prose and I did a lot of underlining in my copy.  Despite moments of beauty, the majority of the book just didn’t do anything for me.

I was surprised by this at first, but the more thought I gave it, the more it made sense.  Dillard is extremely detail-oriented.  She’s entranced by the complexity and beauty of parts.  Her writing is a magnifying glass, inspecting and caressing and marveling at the beauty and chaos of the world.  As a big-picture thinker, I have a hard time with details.  I get lost among them, frustrated by the lack of an overall end point.  I think this is why I struggled to connect with this book.

Stop back in a couple of weeks for more book talk!

For more of my reading adventures, add me on Goodreads


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