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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Round-Up

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich: TV producer Carly encounters a psychic quilter (yup) whose advice turns her life upside down.  I think this novel suffered from the restrictions of its chick lit genre -- short and frothy story with a happy ending.  I would have preferred a longer novel that spent far more time on the relationship between Carly and her estranged mother, and the artists' community she finds herself in.

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny: This is the third in Penny's mystery series, but the first for me; I couldn't resist the title.  Penny's writing is highly literate and descriptive, filled with characters who are mostly unlikeable but fully realized and fascinating.  There was a sub-plot about the police department that managed to be both compelling and distracting from the main mystery. Apparently that storyline continues through all the novels, making me less likely to seek out the other books in the series -- like I wrote, it was interesting but not so much that I want to read so much more about it.

The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman: Shipman structures this story about mothers and daughters around the charms on a bracelet.  It can be an effective way of telling a story, and the characters themselves were interesting, but ... this was not a good book.  It had too many cliches and was poorly written. Misused words, an overabundance of adjectives and adverbs, and awkward sentences made me wish for a red pen.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale: I didn't even realize this was a sequel when I picked it up, but reading the first is not necessary for one's enjoyment.  It's your standard divorced-woman-needs-to-get-her-groove-back story (why are ex-husbands always such unrepentant jerks?) set in a Jane Austen theme park (do those exist? I bet they'd be very successful), with an Agatha Christie-ish mystery thrown in for good measure.  Said mystery was a little implausible and the book suffered from a surfeit of endings, but it was witty and enjoyable, even laugh-out-loud funny in parts.

The Heroines by Eileen Favorite: The conceit -- heroines from novels occasionally show up in our world to take a well-needed break at Anne-Marie's inn before returning to their fates -- is excellent, and the novel handles the themes of feminism, agency, and adulthood well.  A good chunk of the story, however, takes place in an institution where Anne-Marie's thirteen-year-old daughter is confined when no one believes her story about the heroines; it's effective in its own right, but not nearly as interesting to me as what was going on at the inn.

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