Midyear Reading Review

I had so much fun writing a previous book review post, Summer Reading, that I think I’ll write a similar one at the onset of the new year.  Perhaps this will become a semi-annual tradition.

Since summer ended, I’ve had a bit of a struggle finding both books that excite me and time to read them.  In review, however, it does not seem quite as sparse as it felt. Here are some of my most notable reads:

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I’d heard good things about this book for quite some time, so I finally had to read it for myself.  It is the story of a boy named Santiago who goes in search of his “personal legend,” learning about himself along the way.  There are many words of wisdom embedded into the tale (one of which led to my post, Beyond Sameness.) However, it seemed to me that way too much effort was put into adding deep meaning to the simple story.  I enjoyed it on a light level and then donated my copy to the little lending library at my favorite hotel at the beach.

The Cry of the Peacock by V.R. Christensen.  I’d never heard anything about this book or author before. Frankly, I chose it from a discount e-book site because I liked the picture of the peacock on the cover and I love the sound of peacocks crying.  It was also free.

The story is about two sisters in Victorian times who have fallen on hard times.  One gets the chance to redeem herself and the noble family her father worked for if she will just marry the oldest son. The plot is very Jane Austin, with the characters all fumbling around to find their correct niches, not to mention spouses.  It is a relaxing read and a good escape when stressed.  Maybe sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

Incidentally, in a preface, the author mentions a companion book, Of Moths and Butterflies, written prior to this one.  She says it shows a heroine who makes different choices than Abby in The Cry of the Peacock.  It sounded familiar to me and when I checked my Kindle, I realized I had downloaded it from the same discount site. I had chosen this one because of the beautiful blue butterfly on the cover.

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  This reflective book was written while the author spent her summer alone in an isolated cottage at the beach.  Her writing somehow takes on a cadence that feels like the gentle rolling of waves.  She writes about the different phases of development as a woman, choosing a symbolic shell for each stage.  It’s a great read for a slow summer day when you have time for pondering womanhood and human nature.  Her philosophizing lost me for a while in the middle of the book, but caught me back up in the next chapter.  I will need to buy a copy for my bookshelf as this was unfortunately a digital loan from my library.

The Lake House by Kate Morton.  This is a mystery about a baby that goes missing after World War I, on an enchanting estate in Cornwall.  The case goes unsolved and is revisited by a modern-day (2003)  detective on leave from her job as a police officer.  I found it engaging and enjoyed following the threads of plot as the new and the old weaved themselves together.

This is my second book by this author.  She definitely seems to have a formula to her writing.  One of her characters is a writer and even alludes to formula and writing process. However, the complex plot and delicious setting make it a page-turner.  At times there is a comfortable predictability, and sometimes that prediction leads to a dead-end.  I also appreciated Morton’s impeccable vocabulary.

Up next on my reading list:

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (a reread from childhood!)

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray

The Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers (a reread)

The Lady in the Van by Allen Bennett

These should keep me busy for a while.  Please leave a response if you read any of my recommendations, or if you have any books to recommend.

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