book recs

I've been wanting to blog, but ⎼ cue the unoriginal excuses ⎼ summer is a very busy time, blah blah blah.  Plus, I've been wanting to "mix up" my content (as in, to not only write movie-themed things).  So, I decided that a quick post sharing some of the books I've enjoyed/thought about recently might be fun.

I'm sharing content concerns for all applicable books; and just to avoid confusion, when I mention "strong language," that typically includes God's name in vain as well as swearing.

The Light Between Oceans {M.L. Stedman}

 This mesmerizing Australian novel has been a bestseller around the world, and reached no.4 on the New York Times fiction list.

This book has stayed with me for two years now (though I haven't reread it yet).  It's heart-wrenching in a way that most stories I've experienced have not been, and it's one of the few stories whose "moral dilemma" premise is actually compelling as such.  Sure, there may be an "objectively" correct solution; but since Stedman steeps you so inextricably strongly in the individual, personal circumstances of all involved, she actually succeeds in tangling you up inside at the prospect of that solution being implemented.  But she also tangles you up inside at the prospect of that solution not being implemented.  She truly makes you feel the emotional "impossibility" of the conundrum; and she does so in such a loving and quietly searing way that I'm still in awe all these months later.

Tl;dr: If you want to break your own heart a little bit ⎼ but in a surprisingly productive way ⎼ give this book a try.  I know everyone has different "tragedy flavor" preferences (as a friend of mine so astutely described them), but I can definitely tell you that the ending is "worth it" for me.  It's not a happy story, but it's not a nihilistic story, either.

*Content: Brief & infrequent sexual remarks or situations in the context of a married couple (not graphic).  Brief strong language.  Brief discussion of violence, suicide, war experience.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane {Kate DiCamillo}

Bagram Ibatoulline (The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo)

SWEET MERCY. *cries a little bit*

Another heartbreaking book, but in a much gentler and much more hopeful way.  I would recommend it with pretty much no reservations or qualifications.

"You must be filled with expectancy.  You must be awash in hope.  You must wonder who will love you, whom you will love next."

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld {Patricia A. McKillip}


Forgotten Beasts of Eld

I. loved. this. book.

I don't often "explore" within the fantasy genre, but when I do find a new-to-me offering that speaks to me . . . does it ever speak to me.

This was one of those rare and beautiful instances.  I loved the legendary feel of it, and the way the characters were presented as flawed, and the way those flaws were resolved.  The topic of revenge is explored in a beautifully, surprisingly wholesome way, only tied up at the very end but tied up so very wonderfully.

*Content: Brief sexual implications, typical of folklore/legend (not graphic).  Magic (limited to those born with it).  Brief violence (not graphic, that I can recall?).  Fear and the danger of it is a plot element, as well, which can be disturbing.

Thank You, Jeeves {P.G. Wodehouse}

Wodehouse is known for creating a cast of memorable, wacky characters, and Thank You, Jeeves is no exception. Be wary that the humor in this book was born in 1930s England, though that doesn't mean contemporary audiences won't enjoy the ride.

Jeeves & Wooster can be straight-up therapy in general, but this installment in particular had me shaking.  So, so funny, and so wholesome.  God bless Wodehouse for gifting the human race with his genius.

*Content: Very mild language.  A "blackface" incident that's played for laughs.

The Princess Bride {William Goldman}

'The Princess Bride' is coming to Criterion.

Okay, okay, I'm sorry.  I'll stop hurling this book in your faces eventually.  Maybe.  (Probably not.)

BUT IT'S REALLY GOOD, OKAY??  AND IT'S REALLY UNDERAPPRECIATED.  AND I'D LIKE TO REMEDY THAT.

It's both layered and light-hearted, so, basically, you should read it.

*Content: Brief strong language, brief innuendo (not graphic), violence (not graphic).

Small Damages {Beth Kephart}

Small Damages - Beth Kephart.    Eighteen-year-old Kenzie of Philadelphia, pregnant by Yale-bound Kevin, is bitter when her mother sends her to Spain to deliver and give her baby away, but discovers a makeshift family with the rancher who takes her in, his cook, and the young man they have raised together.

This is such a golden, limpid, atmospheric book with a great (and unusual) pro-life message, whether intentionally or not.  The characters are sketched subtly and sparingly, but they spring up fully developed and winsome.  Highly recommend.

*Content: Brief & infrequent strong language, explanations of past sexual relationships (not graphic).

Till We Have Faces {C.S. Lewis}

Vintage TILL WE HAVE FACES C S Lewis Time Life Edition

Honestly, fam . . . I'm toying with the idea that this is the best, highest-quality fiction book I've ever read.  Like . . . ever.

Which, as I'm sure you can imagine, knowing me and my indecision and multi-pronged story obsession appreciation, is probably all that needs to be said at this juncture.  It's a very edifying tale, what.  Spiritually instructive.  Fraught with reflective potential.  That sort of thing.

*Content: Brief sexual implications, typical of folklore/legend (not graphic).  Brief violence (not graphic).  Religious/pagan lore.

Keeping the Castle {Patrice Kindl}

If You Like Jane Austen, Read ‘Keeping The Castle’ by Patrice Kindl

*cheesy announcer voice*  Are you an avid Austenite?  Do you love proper manners and hilariously British, passive-aggressive wit?  Are you sure to appreciate a good, loving satire/spoof?  If so, look no further!  Patrice Kindl delivers with a charming, random, off-beat, rambling concoction of a story that's half Pride and Prejudice and half I Capture the Castle.  Light-hearted fun for all.

*Content: Maaaybe some very mild language?  I don't really remember.

Have you read any of these?
What bookish delights have you discovered recently?

Comments

  1. I just read The Light Between Oceans and was very moved by it. However, I do feel that Isobel’s selfishness (in spite of her three miscarriages) was hugely detrimental to everyone.

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    1. It's SUCH a moving story. Yes, Isobel's character arc (positive to negative to positive) is one of the best-done things about it, I think. She starts out so vibrant and kind and then becomes twisted into a grasping, recklessly "maternal" character, and then finally achieves selflessness in the end.

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  2. I read The Light Between Oceans a few months ago, and really appreciated it. It had a lot more language than I would normally ever read, but I felt that the story was very worthwhile and so made an exception. It is SUCH a powerful story, one that really stays with you! I cried so much while reading it, and definitely intend to reread it at some time.

    I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane just a couple weeks ago after I saw your GoodReads review...I loved it! Such a touching little story. <3 I only wish it was longer!

    Till We Have Faces is *still* on my TBR list, although I have started reading it. For some reason I haven't been in the mood to finish it yet, but I am sure I will loved it when I do!

    And I SO want to read Thank You Jeeves!!!

    A few lovely books that I have recently discovered include Salt to the Sea (I love it SO MUCH! A new favorite!), Genevieve's War by Patricia Reilly Giff, The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser (I didn't love *everything* about the story, but I enjoyed the setting, and the themes addressed therein were very timely for me), and Dear Mrs Bird (So very British and WW2-ish and delightful! I'm already excited to reread it!). And then I recently reread Anne of the Island and found it incredibly relatable at this time of my life!

    Catie <3

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    1. Isn't it such a gripping, heartbreaking book? I know, I've been waiting for the right time to re-read it myself. :-P

      Ahhh, yay! So glad you liked it! (By the way, are we friends on Goodreads? Because if we're not, we should fix that. ;))

      I've had a couple people read it at my recommendation, and while they both appreciated it, I think they were both a little dissatisfied with the ending? So, I don't know. I guess it's one of those stories where it works for some people and not for others. *shrugs* But yes, I definitely encourage you to give it another try, when and if you get into the mood. ;)

      IT IS FABULOUS. I've loved Jeeves and Wooster for years, but this was probably the best yet.

      Salt to the Sea is such a great book! And wasn't Dear Mrs. Bird so much fun?? I think I kind of wanted her to end up with Mr. Collins, though . . . :-P I almost re-read Anne of the Island recently, myself. I wasn't able to get into it at this very minute, but one of these days I want to re-read the whole series. :) I haven't read the others you mentioned, but I have heard of The Sweetest Thing.

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    2. I just finished reading TILL WE HAVE FACES this very morning! I enjoyed it very much, and the ending (Part Two) was the very best part of all! I feel like it is a book that I will re-read many times, and get more out of it each time. I am so glad that I FINALLY finished it!

      Yes, I loved Dear Mrs Bird! I almost felt like reading it again immediately after I finished it, which rather surprised me! Hmm, I don't think I really wanted Emmy to *marry* Mr Collins, but I sure did like him. <3

      Oh yes! I HIGHLY recommend re-reading through the whole Anne series just as soon as you're in the mood for it! Rilla of Ingleside is one of my most favorite books of all time. <3

      By the way, I just read Hinds Feet on High Places after seeing it mentioned by you more than once. It was SO incredibly impactful and personally touching and applicable. A new favorite!

      Also, I am quite interested in reading Passing by Samaria after hearing your thoughts on it...do you think I'd enjoy/appreciate it?

      TTFN! Ta-ta for now! <3

      Catie

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    3. Oh dear, I forgot to answer your question! No, we are not friends on Goodreads yet, but I'll go remedy that! ;-)

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  3. The Princess Bride is so good! <3 I've heard of most of these others, so I really should try them!

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  4. WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE I'M THE ONLY PERSON ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH THAT HASN'T READ/WATCHED THE PRINCESS BRIDE????????

    *sniff*

    TO THE LIBRARY IT IS :D

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    2. I haven’t read it either! It’s on my Kindle waiting for me : ) You have to see the movie though! It’s an absolute 80’s classic.

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    3. DON'T PANIC. THIS IS EASILY FIXABLE. YOU'VE ALREADY TAKEN THE PRUDENTIAL FIRST STEP OF HASTENING TO THE LIBRARY. ;)

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  5. THE PRINCESS BRIDE!!! YES!!! BOOK AND MOVIE.

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    1. It's so fantastic. I love it so much. <3 <3 Glad you agree. :)

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  6. *adds a few to my TBR list*

    Many thanks. :)

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