Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Reading Update - Memoir, Mystery, and Romance

Still inching toward 100 books read on the year...

86) Evolving in Monkey Town, by Rachel Held Evans. Memoir about how a girl who grew up in the airtight certainty of conservative Christianity discovered she didn't have all the answers after all and learned to live with a faith that has questions and uncertainties. At the risk of talking about religion more than I normally do on this blog...I can relate.

87) The Book of Mormon Girl, by Joanna Brooks. An interesting book to read right after Evolving in Monkey Town, since it's also the story of a woman raised in a conservative religious background who struggles with her faith while deciding to stay within it. I think what struck me most, surprised me, really, was her sense of connection to the history of the Mormon faith. To my eyes, it's an awfully short history--I mean, my native state (Alabama) wasn't even one of the original thirteen, and it's still older than the Mormon church. But I can see how if you're actually descended from people who made the trek to Utah with Brigham Young, it wouldn't be the kind of thing one could lightly walk away from.

88) Bruno, Chief of Police, by Martin Walker. A delightful mystery set in a village in the South of France. It has an unfashionably leisurely pace--the dead body doesn't show up till the end of Chapter 4--which IMHO worked well by mirroring the peaceful, timeless lifestyle Bruno values and strives to protect. I was also impressed with the way Walker balanced the overall loveliness and humor of his story with the darkness of the murder plot (the corpse is found with a swastika carved on his body). I look forward to reading the rest of Walker's fiction and quite possibly some of his nonfiction, too.

89) An Illicit Temptation, by Jeannie Lin. A short novella (or long short story--I'm never sure where these lines are drawn) featuring a secondary character from My Fair Concubine. Like Lin's other books, it's set during the Tang Dynasty, though it takes place among the nomadic Khitan people. (The heroine is a Chinese woman, purportedly royal, on the way to the Khitan ruler as a treaty bride.) A quick read that nonetheless feels satisfying and wholly fleshed out.

Any book I post about on this blog is one I liked enough to finish and therefore enough to recommend...but books #88 and and #89 were especially good reads, contenders for my top ten on the year. If you like mysteries or historical romance, give them a try.

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