Still Life by Louise Penny

still-lifeUntil this year, I’d never even heard of Louise Penny. After 8+ months of devoted listening to the What Should I Read Next? podcast, however, I feel like she is an old friend. If you read my post about finding book recommendations via podcast, you know how much I love the book discussions Anne Bogel has with her guests. So many of those guests have mentioned Louise Penny as one of their all-time favorite authors. With the publication of the most recent in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series last month, I figured it was past time to start reading the series myself. Continue reading


The Lake House by Kate Morton

the lake houseWhile visiting a friend last week, I tagged along with her to book club. (Am I the type of person who visits public libraries and book clubs on vacation? Yes, I am.) Pretty early on, I found myself in my favorite of all conversations: trading book recommendations with other avid readers. I was a little surprised that none of the six other women had read anything by Kate Morton. The ensuing discussion has me reflecting back on what I love about Kate Morton. Her books follow more or less the same pattern, but that doesn’t keep each story from being completely engrossing in its own right. I read The Lake House a few months ago, and it was the first time a book had kept me up into the wee hours of morning in a long time.   Continue reading

Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawson

flight of dreamsOf all the categories on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 Reading Challenge, the first one concerned me the most: a book published this year. With the exception of a few series finales, I can’t think of the last time I read a book the year it was published. Often, I don’t even hear about a book until a year or two later. When I heard about Flight of Dreams by Ariel Lawson, I knew I’d found my book. Flight of Dreams is part historical fiction, part mystery. The majority of the novel follows the final 3-day flight of the Hindenburg through the perspectives of three crew members and two passengers on board. There is still some debate about what happened to the Hindenburg, and Lawson makes the most of that ambiguity to heighten the mystery.  Continue reading

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

screaming staircase.jpgIn the spirit of The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, I call my discovery of it “The Case of Forgetting an Author.” I’d read The Amulet of Samarkand a few years back and enjoyed it enough to read the rest of the series. Then I promptly forgot about Jonathan Stroud. When I heard he had a series following a couple of teen ghost hunters, I was intrigued. Since I’m a wimp when it comes to scary things, I wasn’t sure how I would like the series. Plus, my library only had an audio version of the first book, and I generally prefer to read my fiction and listen to my non-fiction. But one afternoon I was out of new podcast episodes to listen to on my run, so I downloaded the audio files and told myself I could stop at the first gruesome scene. I loved it. Continue reading

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

sweetnessThe Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley is the first in an old-fashioned mystery series set in 1950s England. Flavia de Luce, the protagonist and sleuth, is 11 years old. Despite her age, the main focus of the story is the mystery, not the experience of being 11. Adults in the story will use words or reference events that she does not understand but you, as the reader, will. That is not to say that she is an annoyingly childish narrator; Flavia is delightfully clever and ambitious. I’m starting to think about what I want to read this spring break, and this series keeps coming to mind. It strikes a perfect balance between a likable narrator and enough mystery to keep me interested in the plot while traveling.

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