Welcome to another installment of Recent Reads, where I share some of the books I have read recently and my brief thoughts on them.
First, during my devotional time I read Recovering the Lost Art of Reading by Leland Ryken and Glenda Faye Mathes. I picked this one up because I was intrigued by the title, and it sounded like it would be similar to another book I really enjoyed called Lit! by Tony Reinke. While there were some similarities between the two, at least in the first part of the book, I found myself getting frustrated with some of what was stated in the book concerning reading in that there are books better than others and that only reading those kinds of books can be considered practicing the art of reading. Personally, and I say this as a former English major, I find statements like these to be arrogant. Are there books that could be considered trashy? Perhaps, but there are a lot of good books out there and the definition of a good book does tend to be subjective. Did I misread some of what they were trying to convey? Maybe. But I’m also tired of people writing about how certain books are more superior than others. I think if a person enjoys reading graphic novels, it’s still reading, manga is still reading and there are some fantastic books in these categories. It is my duty to practice discernment in what I read, but other than that I do have the liberty to read what I want. The same goes for others. Sure, a cozy mystery might not have the same literary merit as a Jane Austen novel, but it is still literature and I think a lot can be learned from them. Sigh, I wanted to love this book, but I spent a good portion of it wishing I was reading a physical copy of it so I could reenact the scene from Dead Poets’ Society where Mr. Keating has his class tear out the introduction from their textbook. There is some merit to this book, and it could be beneficial to others, however I think that I am no longer the target audience for books like these. I would like to thank Crossway and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.
During my workouts, and other activities once I was hooked on the story, I listened to Sentenced to Death by Lorna Barrett. In this installment, Tricia’s close friend Deborah Black is killed while giving a speech at Founder’s Day when a plane crashes into the town square gazebo. Initially everyone thinks it’s an accident, but Tricia senses that there is something more sinister behind the crash that killed her friend and the pilot. She decides to investigate to see who might have wanted her friend dead, but is she ready to discover the not-so-good stuff about Deborah? And why does the ever encroaching Nigela Ricita Associates seem to make quick work in acquiring Deborah’s store, The Happy Domestic? Overall, this was an interesting installment in the series, the death was somewhat unique (I’m still fairly new to the cozy mystery genre) and I found the secrets that are revealed to be fascinating. However, in some ways I’m a little upset that Deborah had to die and that she had to have some sort of sordid history that no one is aware of. It was also interesting to see how people deal with grief in different ways. Once again, the killer was not who I thought it was, and it seemed to just all of sudden be that they were the suspect, but it also made sense once all the clues were revealed. Also, I am happy that Jenny gets to spread her wings a little bit and is coming into her own.
Right after I finished listening to Sentenced to Death, I immediately jumped into Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett. This time Tricia and Angelica are spending the night at the Sheer Comfort Inn as a practice run for the inn’s grand opening. However, when Tricia takes Angelica’s stowaway dog Sarge out for a walk in the backyard, she discovers the body of the owner, Pippa Comfort. Not only that, but she soon discovers that Pippa’s husband, Jon, is none other than her former lover, Harry Tyler, who she has believed to be dead for twenty years. However, despite his life of lies, Tricia knows that he can’t be responsible for the murders. This was another good installment in the series, although not my favorite, it seemed to be lacking something. It also seemed to be fraught with drama, especially with Tricia and some of her friends. I also was not happy with Grace’s attitude, or with her assistant who had a blatant disregard for Tricia. I was scared that something would happen to Mr. Everett’s relationship with Grace and I didn’t want it to because they are one of my favorite couples in the series. Once again the author made use of red herrings to dupe the reader into thinking they knew who the suspect was, and I was surprised who it ended up being, but I must admit, it would be nice to be able to have more indicators as to who might possibly be a little bit sooner than the third to last chapter.
Another book that I have been working through that was recommended to me is Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. While I don’t agree with everything that they discuss in this book, I did find it very helpful while I work through some stuff. The main thesis of the book is that all women just want an answer to the question, “Am I lovely?” however, instead of that question being answered, various factors have led them to doubt that they are lovely and have bruised and beaten them (whether physically or figuratively). However, while confronting the past, the authors present that there is Someone who can help us work through the healing process and is by our side – Jesus Christ. This is a very brief summary and even then I feel like I have left out some core points. I did enjoy it, and I read it at just the right time. Again, there are some things I disagree with in regards to theology, but they aren’t deal-breakers when it comes to the Gospel, and I think my disagreement to those things isn’t because it’s necessarily wrong, it’s just different from what I was taught and I’d never heard that take before, and that has caused me to think through more of why I believe what I believe, especially extrabiblical stuff. But at the same time, I felt like I was seen, and not just being told that my struggles were because I didn’t trust God enough, etc.
Since starting the BookTown Mysteries series, I have found myself addicted to cozy mysteries. A series that had caught my eye a while back was the Tea Shop Mystery series by Laura Child. I borrowed the first book Death by Darjeeling from Overdrive, and I immediately devoured it. In this first installment we follow Theodosia Browning who runs the Indigo Tea Shop in historic Charleston. She has the opportunity to serve tea at a garden party at one of the historic homes, however, things take a turn when one of the guests suddenly dies clutching a teacup, and everybody suspects that one of Theo’s teas is responsible. However, Theodosia is not just on a mission to convince her patrons that her tea is safe to drink, but to catch the killer. I really enjoyed Death by Darjeeling, it was a strong start to a long mystery series. I enjoyed getting to know Theodosia and her employees, as well as some of their regulars. I also liked there was some explanation about the different teas that make an appearance throughout the book. I am looking forward to continue reading this series, hopefully I will eventually catch up to the latest book.
Janelle L. C.