Beautiful, delicious, French mysteries

Thanks to a very positive review by Dolce Bellezza, I discovered a wonderful series that fits perfectly into my ‘quirky and unusual fiction’ category for book recommendations. The author is M. L. Longworth, and the books take place in the south of France. One of the protagonists loves good food and wine, so along with vivid descriptions of one of the world’s most beautiful areas, we are treated to delicious menus and vintages as well.
IMG_1784

The first book in the series is Death at the Château Bremont and it was a thoroughly enjoyable read from cover to cover. Cafés in Aix-en-Provence, two murders, a chateau in the country, a vineyard, and a trip to Cannes give the reader a literary vacation and a refreshing break from everyday life. I can’t wait to read the next ones!

Advertisements

So. Many. Challenges.

Is reading a competition? With so many reading challenges out there, I feel like it’s becoming a competition, or at least a means of putting one’s self on a pedestal. But maybe that’s because I haven’t done one yet 😉 I honestly don’t have the time – or maybe I do?

Have you noticed how many reading challenges there are out there? Some of them definitely pique my interest, and I find myself tempted to participate. Like this one from Modern Mrs. Darcy: 12 Books, 12 Categories, 12 Months. Now that, I could do.
IMG_1041

Then there are the incremental challenges that I see and think, “I could do that.. I could do that one too, probably.. Nope, couldn’t do that… Do these people read for a living?!” Like this set of challenges on challies.com. The Light Reader does 13 books in a year. No problem! Easy. Definitely doable. The Avid Reader does 26 books a year. Also possible. I consider myself around (if not technically in) the Avid Reader category, so 26 books in one year should be fine. But then comes The Committed Reader, with an entire book in each week. I have to ask myself, are we reading books that are 100 pages long? Are we speed reading? I begin getting skeptical at this point. But, there is yet another category: The Obsessed Reader. This category reads 2 whole books each and every week for an entire year. Really? Is that possible? Again, the skepticism; but, maybe it can be done – after all, I’ve never tried (or kept track)! If you are looking for a reading challenge for 2016, I hope you clicked on the link because there is a wonderful chart for keeping tack of your books for each level (Light, Avid, Committed and Obsessed) on Challies.com.

When looking for some fun reading challenges for this post, I came across You, Me, and a Cup of Tea which has a wonderful assortment of themed reading challenges and links to the websites/blogs that host them. Like the audiobook challenge by HotListens.com and the Back to the Classics challenge by Books and Chocolate, and even the Hard Core Re-Reading challenge hosted by You, Me, and a Cup of Tea! So if you’re looking for a challenge to guide your reading this year, please check these out. And happy reading! Maybe next year I will be posting about a challenge I completed…

 

 

A Delightful Read for the Holidays

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday, whether it was relaxing at home after stressful holiday build-up, or whether it was a full day with family and friends. And of course, I hope your Christmas was full of new books!

Do your holidays have time for reading? If so, I would like to suggest that you check out Attachments by Rainbow Rowell if you haven’t already.
IMG_1751
This was one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in quite a while. The story is adorable and well-told. It’s a romantic tale about an IT guy who falls in love with the girl whose flagged emails he has to read. The dialog is really witty and there are some references to grammar, due to the cast of characters working at a newspaper. So if you are a grammar nerd this will appeal to you on that level as well. For anyone looking for something to read that is light and heart-warming, this book is for you!

Christmas Books at Christmas time

Do you have books on your wish list? I sure do, and some of them are Christmas-themed, so I thought I would share them with you on this very special day, Christmas Eve.

First, Dear Santa published by Chronicle Books. ‘Children’s Christmas Letters and Wish Lists, 1870-1920’ how cool does that sound? Amazon’s link to the book shows a couple of sample pages with letters from 1896 and 1907, and they are adorable. It looks like the perfect addition to any Christmas enthusiast’s book collection:
Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 5.28.52 PM.png

Next, A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer. Reviewers rave about the amazing detail and intricacies of the pop-ups, and frankly, I am desperately hoping to add this to my collection soon! It looks absolutely beautiful and also deserves a place in the Christmas Book aficionado’s library:
Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 5.36.07 PM.png    Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 5.41.24 PM.png
*both images from the same link

Another version of Dickens‘ A Christmas Carol that I have on my wish list is the one illustrated by P.J. Lynch. The illustrations are lovely, and really bring the story to life. This book is could easily become a family heirloom.
Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 6.03.08 PM.png    Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 6.09.55 PM.png

I wish all of you a happy, blessed Christmas! And may you read all the books you hope to in the New Year 😉

Creepy Classics

As someone whose reading preferences lean towards the light-hearted and uplifting, it’s rare that I read something dark. But over the years, I have read those wonderfully creepy tales by Poe, and I’ll never forgot how downright shocked I was when I read Dracula, having expected something far more demure and reserved from a Victorian novel. I added The Picture of Dorian Gray to my reading list a few years back, so I have ventured down the path of creepy reading, but it’s not somewhere I go very often.

To those who haven’t read Dracula, you need to read it. Is there anyone out there who hasn’t read Edgar Allan Poe? Probably not, so I won’t recommend those (but just in case you haven’t – they’re short, so you don’t have to invest a lot of time, but they are thoroughly frightening and just right for this time of year). My suggestions for this post aren’t very quirky or unusual (being classics..), but they do fit nicely into the October/Hallowe’en theme. I still haven’t read Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I really should get around to those one day, because those would also fit this reading category, from what I’ve heard. Are there other creepy classics out there? Does anyone have any other recommendations? Oh, and check out my corresponding Bookstagram! (don’t forget: wmgirl01 on Instagram)
IMG_1606

Happy autumn, and happy reading!

To Buy, or to Borrow?

Which do you prefer? I almost always buy my books, unless I’m not sure it will be a good read, in which case I borrow it from the library. If I like the book I borrowed, I’ll probably buy it after reading it and add it to my collection. The question is, where will I buy it? Online, or from a physical bookstore?

The other day I was in a bookstore and saw a book I liked, but did not buy it, for various reasons. Yesterday, I decided to go back to the bookstore to purchase that book, but it was out of stock. Amazon, however, has the book, but unlike most of the time when the book is much cheaper on Amazon.com, it is the same price. I decided that I would forego the instant gratification of buying the book right then online, and would wait the extra few days until it’s in stock at the bookstore. But it’s so hard to wait!

Have you ever had to make that choice, between buying a book online, or waiting to buy a book from a physical bookstore? What did you do? I admit, most of the time, I do buy my books from the cheaper online source, but often price is the deciding factor. In this case, however, when the price was the same, I felt a moral obligation to support my local independent bookseller.

On the other hand, a lot of people choose to borrow books instead of buy them. What makes one choose borrowing or buying? For me, I love books and want to have a collection of my own. Do those who usually borrow not want their own collection?

What do you think? Do you buy or do you borrow? Do you buy online or from a bookstore? Is supporting the local indie bookstore a lost cause anyway?

Controversial Books

My sincere apologies for not writing much lately. Life has been far too busy and is starting to seriously impair my ability to write an engaging blog. Blogs are meant to be fun and not a source of stress, however, so I continue on and blog when I can, in the hopes that you all understand and don’t hold the infrequency of my posting against me.

Now that it’s well into September and school is in full swing, I wanted to do a post on controversial books. I’ve just begun reading The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie, and I still recall the uproar it caused when it was first published in 1988.
Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 3.47.20 PM

Last year I read Native Son by Richard Wright, which has been ‘challenged’ repeatedly since it was published. The challengers are right – it does have very explicit sexual scenes and violence, but it is an incredible book. I still can’t believe it was written in 1940, with a searing social commentary on race relations in the United States that is still relevant today.
Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 4.08.00 PM

I’m looking forward to the epic read that Satanic Verses promises to be, and I wonder what controversial books all of you have read. Did you enjoy it (or them)? Did you wish you hadn’t read it, or agree with those who challenged it – that it should not have been published? Or did you like it so much you wish it were required reading for everyone?

Murder in Japan

I can’t believe that 1) it’s September. What?? I know. It snuck up on me too; and 2) that I haven’t suggested any unusual, quirky reads since July 13. Fortunately, I have just finished reading a new book that fits nicely into that category, and thank goodness there are two more (so far) in the series! So, without further ado, let me introduce you to The Shinobi Mysteries, by Susan Spann:

The Claws of the Cat

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 6.55.48 PM
As you know, I don’t do book reviews (there are plenty of other sites out there that do that), but here’s a quick synopsis: It’s 16th-century Japan, and a violent murder must be solved within two days, or innocent people will die. A samurai and Portuguese priest team up to solve the crime, with lots of insight into samurai culture and historic Japan. I highly recommend it. And guess what? There are two more books that follow!

Blade of the Samurai and Flask of the Drunken Master:

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 7.06.42 PM   Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 7.44.51 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and can’t wait to start the second one. I know you’ll like them too!

365 days

Happy_birthday_banner-4

What a year! Today marks the end of the first full year of this blog. I have delighted in making posts and learning about blogging, and I hope you have enjoyed my posts too. Thank you to every single follower and supporter! I love getting your comments and feedback, and look forward to interacting with you more and more over the next year.

If you would ever like to see a post about something, please don’t hold back! Send me a comment with your idea or suggestion, and I will do some investigating, and put your topic in a post.

Here’s to another year of fun and discovery!

Heart-Warming Murder Mysteries?

Scrolling idly through my Twitter feed, I came across a post from Random House Canada announcing another Isabel Dalhousie mystery being released on July 21. Well! Who is Isabel Dalhousie, and should I know about her mysteries? A quick Google search confirmed that YES, I should know about her. Why? Because she is an amateur detective in Edinburgh. That was all it took (along with quite a few very positive reviews online) for me to add Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophy Club books to my To Read list. And then I realized that his Isabel Dalhousie books join Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries, The Cat Who mysteries by Lilian Jackson Braun, and the Birder Murder Mysteries by Steve Burrows in my list of books that I would like to read. There’s a theme here, I thought, and decided to share these series with my readers in keeping with my quirky, unusual reading suggestions.

The first series I really embraced as an adult was Elizabeth Peters‘ Amelia Peabody mysteries.
Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 3.09.01 PM
These books combine everything I’m interested in: Victorian England, Egyptian archaeology and murder mysteries. Who could ask for more? Even though the first book in the series was published in 1975, they are still for sale on Amazon.com and I highly recommend them for light, enjoyable reading with some ancient history as an added bonus.

I have to admit, the Birder Murders by Steve Burrows look delightful, but I have not yet read them! I just purchased A Siege of Bitterns the day before yesterday, and am wrapping up the book I’m currently reading before I start it.
Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 3.32.40 PM
Again, the books feature an English detective, and with the addition of birding! As someone who delights in nature and loves birds, I can’t wait to read these books, as they also have great reviews.

The Cat Who mysteries do not have an English detective in them, but they do take place in a very quirky fictional town and the protagonist has two wonderful cats who help him solve each book’s mystery.
Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 3.44.46 PM
These heart-warming books are wonderful for light reading that brings a smile and keeps you turning the pages. For more info on The Cat Who books, check out one of my prior posts: https://bookideas.net/2015/03/12/the-cat-who-warms-your-heart/

Alan Bradley’s youthful amateur detective Flavia de Luce is adorable and precocious, and basically defines the word quirky. Set in 1950s England with a cast of lovable characters, Falvia always finds the culprits with her usual panache.
Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 3.58.23 PM
One thing I especially enjoy about this series is that Flavia and her family don’t age – or they do very slowly. In the first six books she is eleven years old, and I find that when authors let their characters grow older, they have to discard scenarios or surroundings and events that occurred in the earlier volumes. And if those were the scenarios, surroundings and events that readers enjoyed, then it’s difficult to keep up the level of appeal. All that aside, though, I truly enjoy these books and hope you will pick one up if you haven’t already!

My newest find is Alexander McCall Smith’s amateur Scottish detective, Isabel Dalhousie. However, once I started looking into Ms. Dalhousie, I also stumbled upon the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, which sounds like another gem, and yet another series I need to explore!
Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 4.29.09 PM    Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 4.30.33 PM
Although the settings are Edinburgh (certainly close enough to my fondness for English settings) and Botswana (not very English, but tea is mentioned in the teaser!), the protagonists sound endearing and lovable and I expect to enjoy these treasures over many cups of tea to come.