You know the drill – I think.
It’s time to talk about what we read today! Every quarter, I post mini reviews of my favorite reads of the year (so far) and it’s time to share my second quarter of great reads.
So let’s start reading!
Mystery of the Gulls
Phyllis A. Whitney
One of Phyllis A. Whitney’s leading characteristics as a writer is the ability to utterly transport a reader to a location – any location – and steep you in it’s atmosphere. There were intriguing references to Mackinaw’s unique history that had me captivated and made me desperately wish I could visit. Taffy Saunders is a sweet and relatable heroine with a believable goal and she is a satisfactory narrator for a easy-going but entertaining mystery that held my attention for every page.
Mystery of the Angry Idol
Phyllis A. Whitney
This book was the quintessential mash-up of summer house escape and mysterious closed-door situation. I really liked the unique spin of having a relationship between a granddaughter and her great grandmother be the focus of the story. Just about anything Asian has always interested me, so the little tidbits of Althea’s backstory of growing up in China and fleeing due to the Boxer rebellion were intriguing. Like the other Whitney book mentioned above, The Mystery of the Angry Idol completely transported me to Mystic Seaport and made me yearn to go there again. There was just enough mystery to keep me interested but not utterly surprised (or utterly lost) in its natural procession to a satisfying ending.
Redcoat in Boston
The real skill of an author is to make any character believable. The ability to step into a different perception so thoroughly, that we are completely immersed in a different mindset and simply accept it – while at the same time, keeping it clear in the narrative that the mindset is not correct. Written with a droll, matter-of-fact masculinity that is delightful to behold – where it’s simply accepted that boys will be boys – and matters of honor and vengeful fisticuffs are the order of the day. Historic details are woven seamlessly throughout the story, coupled with the engaging narrative and relatable characters.
It was also a treat to have the main relationship be between our young hero, Harry, and his sister. Far too many interesting relationships are often tossed by the wayside in favor of a prefabricated, homogenized romance. It was a joy to see a book centered and anchored around siblings. The author also tackles something people conveniently forget – the culture clash between British and American cultures. From the weather to poison ivy to Christmas – cultural clashes abound. Finlayson does an excellent job of showing two groups of peoples, chaffing and jostling one another, a powder keg of tension that is both humorous and foreboding and moves inexorably towards an explosion known as the Boston Massacre.
The Crippled Lamp
As we turn the beautifully illustrated pages of this book, it’s clear where we’re going – a beautiful journey of confirmation that God loves us and has crafted our story with a pure and perfect love.
I don’t usually get misty over books, but I confess I did a bit with this one – because it’s so full of the Truth of God’s Grace and His perfect plan.
For anyone that’s ever felt looked over, abandoned or crippled – this book is for you.
A wonderful story of sacrifice and generosity that is gorgeously illustrated. I could almost hear the wind swirling in my ears and feel the snowflakes brushing my face. A lovely read that seems to hold winter between its pages.
Marlon Bundo’s Day In the Life of the Vice President
A charming little book featuring the darling pet bunny, Marlon Bundo! Illustrated by the talented Second Lady of the United States, Mrs. Karen Pence’s career in art therapy is clear in these illustrations, full of soothing and gentle watercolors. Written by the Vice President’s gracious daughter, Charlotte Pence in a loosely rhyming style with some fun facts sprinkled throughout. I especially liked the emphasis on Mike Pence’s faith and his nightly reading of the Holy Bible.
“At last he gets out his Bible,
And he quietly bows his head.
I place my paw on his hand
For one little prayer before bed.
and I remember how blessed I am
To call his great nation my home.”
Master of Morgana
Allan Campbell McLean
They simply don’t write clean intrigue like they used to. Beautifully written and with just enough intrigue and adventure to pique one’s interest. I was certain early on that I had figured out the mystery, only to keep turning the pages and be completely surprised. The descriptions are incredibly evocative and the reader is transported to the Isle of Skye – and in the misty hills, the rocky cliffs and waving grass – we are trapped in a mystery. In the echo and crash of the surf and the creak of the oars – we hear danger. Elements of the story were a “modern” day take (this book was written in the 1960s) on Treasure Island – with clever nods to the original woven in a natural and intriguing way throughout the novel, especially in regards to certain characters (I can say no more, due to spoilers). The story runs all the way to the very last page and ends with a twist that will illicit a gasp of surprise and a laugh of delight. Not to mention a great deal of head shaking.
Searching for Dragons
Patricia C. Wrede
Our characters are charmingly casual about being magical and living in an Enchanted Forests – everything is approached with a down-to-earth feeling and the fantastic becomes the ordinary. Everyone in this world is bursting with personality – including the Forest itself.
There is a darling randomness to this book – here we bump into a lion guardian a magical pool, here we have breakfast with giants, and here we ride a magic carpet. A sweet and unexpected romp. As we embark, we have no idea what will happen – we bump into Dragon Queens, or we just might encounter Rumplestiltskin, and apparently, he has a far different motivation than we are lead to believe! A cute little fairy tale with fun world building and an enraging and smooth narrative.
For some reason, something about it made me think of my Tales of Ambia series – perhaps it was its laid-back zaniness. 😛
Facing Your Giants
I’m going to cheat here – I am going to let the blurb speak for itself and be my review.
You know your Goliath. You recognize his walk, the thunder of his voice.
He taunts you with bills you can’t pay, people you can’t please, habits you can’t break, failures you can’t forget, and a future you can’t face. But just like David, you can face your giant, even if you aren’t the strongest, the smartest, the best equipped, of the holiest.
David. You could read his story and wonder what God saw in him. His life has little to offer the unstained, straight-A saint. He fell as often as he stood, stumbled as often as he conquered. But for those who know the sound of Goliath, David gives this reminder:
Focus on giants — you stumble; focus on God — your giants tumble.
If you’re ready to face your giants, let his story inspire you. The same God who helped him will help you.
I always enjoy Lucado’s books and this was no exception. Facing Your Giants was practical, helpful and inspiring. The layman’s approach that is full of plain speech and God-glorifying instruction.
You can read my mini reviews for 2018’s first quarter HERE if you are so inclined.
And that wraps up the post. What about you, my fellow readers? Have you read any of the books in this post or are you adding some of them to your to-be-read shelf? I made it super easy with the Goodreads links. *cackles wickedly while drowning you in books*
What are some of your favorite reads of 2018, so far? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!