7.31.2017

Recently Read – Summer 2017 Edition

Hello, hello!  Today I want to talk about three books I've read recently that are just so good I couldn't not go on about them.  I've read much more than these in the last month or so, but only wanted to highlight the best of the best, which are these three right here.  Let's get into it.

I have loved the Anne of Green Gables series forever, but only recently realized there were two books I didn't own and hadn't read.  I picked them up this spring second-hand, and thought they would be great for the summer.  I got to them both in the last couple months and book #7 was about Anne's children when they are young and the many escapades they get up to.  While I enjoyed it, I didn't love it.  Rilla of Ingleside, #8, however, blew me away.  This book primarily focuses on Anne's youngest daughter, Rilla, who we did not meet in book #7.  This book is a coming of age story at its finest.  At the beginning, Rilla is a sixteen year old who cares only about catching the attention of boys in town and wearing new dresses.  She has little ambition, and her only goal is to have fun.  However, when World War I begins and shakes up life in the Manse, extending its fingers into every part of the Blythe family, Rilla grows into a woman softened by sorrow and longing and defined by hope and love and courage.  This book surprised me like crazy.  The best way to describe it is like a coming-of-age more serious than Anne's, with higher stakes and deeper emotion.  It made me laugh and cry, and I don't think I will stop thinking about it soon.  Rilla showed me that Montgomery not only can write fun, light, happy stories like Anne of Green Gables, but poignant, moving stories about love and loss as well.  This book was so so good, and if you love Anne, you will love this, too.

The second book I want to share about could not be more different than the first.  Magpie Murders is a newly released mystery novel by Anthony Horowitz (author and writer and creator of the show Foyle's War, of which I am the biggest fan).  I heard so much about this novel that I made the impetuous decision to buy it, full price, from an actual bookstore.  Oof.  With everything I'd heard about it and the dollars spent, I had high expectations, tempered by the fact that the other Horowitz I've read was not great.  Alas, my expectations were exceeded and the book delighted me.  Magpie Murders contains two mysteries, each with their own page numbering: one, an old-fashioned British detective story (in manuscript form) in the beloved tradition of Agatha Christie herself.  The other part of the novel follows an editor at a small publishing house as she becomes embroiled in a mystery that seems inextricably linked to the manuscript that seems to have consumed her life.  This novel is full of twists and turns and all the trademarks of British detective fiction told in a new context.  This book is brilliant, and I flew through it.  If you, like me, love Christie and that whole genre of fiction, this book is for you.  I loved it and have pledged my affection to Horowitz forever.

The final book I have to talk about is also the one I most recently finished, and wow, was it stunning.  Their Eyes Were Watching God is a 1937 novel by Zora Neale Hurston, and it is considered to be perhaps the greatest work of African-American literature of all time.  I began reading this novel last summer, only got about 50 pages in, and put it down.  It was a slow read because Hurston writes a very thick accent for her characters, and not being quite engaged, I got bored.  I picked it up again this summer, determined to finish it.  This is a beautiful book.  It follows the life of a young black woman, Janie, living in Eaton, Florida, and her three marriages.  Within the context of these relationships, Hurston explores the themes of love, independence, and finding fulfillment in another.  This book is a summertime love story with wit and wisdom and heart.  It made me laugh and cry, and the beauty of Hurston's writing at times took my breath away.  This novel contains some of the most beautiful, striking imagery I have ever read, and for that reason alone, I would absolutely recommend.  Here are a couple examples:
"Janie stood where he left her for unmeasured time and thought.  She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her.  Then she went inside there to see what it was.  It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered.  But looking at it she saw that it never was the flesh and blood figure of her dreams.  Just something she had grabbed up to drape her dreams over.  In a way she turned her back upon the image where it lay and looked further. (Hurston, 72)"
"He drifted off into sleep and Janie looked down on him and felt a self-crushing love.  So her soul crawled out from its hiding place. (128)"
This novel was beautiful and poignant and I won't soon forget it.  I highly encourage you to pick it up.  And, like I found, give it about 60 pages and you'll fly through the rest.

It's been good reading over here lately, and I hope my semi-gushing inspires you to pick up these excellent books!

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1 comment:

  1. Nice job with the book cover photos. I love how they go with the backgrounds.

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