Friday, February 21, 2020

Book Reviews - the January Edition

I’m pretty sure there’s a library about 900 miles closer to me. 

Steve Reed is reading all of the Newbery Award winners & was talking about A Wrinkle in Time, which he loved. I looked back & I gave it three stars. I sort of remember not being terribly impressed by it, but now I can’t remember why. So I’m going to try to post my books once per month in my old (2016) format in the hope that my commentary will jog my memory later. Which is just very sad if you think about, so let’s not, ok? Anyway, here are January’s books for your perusal & my swiss cheese memory.

1. Land of Wolves (Walt Longmire #15), by Craig Johnson. ★★★★★ Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire is neck deep in the investigation of what could or could not be the suicidal hanging of a shepherd. With unsettling connections to a Basque family with a reputation for removing the legs of Absaroka County sheriffs, matters become even more complicated with the appearance of an oversize wolf in the Big Horn Mountains to which Walt finds himself feeling more and more empathetic.
The Bug Says: I love everything about this series. It’s smart and funny and the mystery is usually really good. The main characters are interesting and I care about them as people, and Walt Longmire himself is just the best. This addition to the series was excellent. Highly recommend!

2. The Murmur of Bees, by Sofia Segovia. ★★★★★ From the day that old Nana Reja found a baby abandoned under a bridge, the life of a small Mexican town forever changed. Disfigured and covered in a blanket of bees, little Simonopio is for some locals the stuff of superstition, a child kissed by the devil. But he is welcomed by landowners Francisco and Beatriz Morales, who adopt him and care for him as if he were their own. Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution and the devastating influenza of 1918, The Murmur of Bees captures both the fate of a country in flux and the destiny of one family that has put their love, faith, and future in the unbelievable.
The Bug Says: You’ve already seen the picture of my emotional face when I finished this book. In the ordinary course of events I would never have picked it up – sounded melodramatic and I didn’t really want to read about the Mexican Revolution. But the characters pulled me in and surprised me by kindness and good humor, although there is definitely tragedy. And the writing is just so beautiful. Again, I highly recommend this one!

3. Euphoria, by Lily King. ★★★★In 1933 three young, gifted anthropologists are thrown together in the jungle of New Guinea. They are Nell Stone, fascinating, magnetic and famous for her controversial work studying South Pacific tribes, her intelligent and aggressive husband Fen, and Andrew Bankson, who stumbles into the lives of this strange couple and becomes totally enthralled. Within months the trio are producing their best ever work, but soon a firestorm of fierce love and jealousy begins to burn out of control, threatening their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives.
The Bug Says: This is another book that I wouldn’t ordinarily have read. It’s loosely (very loosely) based on the life of Margaret Mead. It’s well written and the characters are interesting, but it sort of feels like I was given some sort of drug which enthralled me the same as Bankson was enthralled. When I finished I felt like I had a hangover and dreamed about the book for a while afterward. It was very disturbing and I couldn’t put it down. (I feel like I have to post a trigger warning here – there’s some allusions to domestic violence which really disturbed me.)

4. The Quiche of Death (Agatha Raisin #1) ★★★★, by M.C. Beaton. Agatha Raisin gives up her successful PR firm, sells her London flat, and samples a taste of early retirement in the quiet village of Carsely. Bored, lonely and used to getting her way, she enters a local baking contest: Surely a blue ribbon for the best quiche will make her the toast of the town. But her recipe for social advancement sours when Judge Cummings-Browne not only snubs her entry--but falls over dead! After her quiche's secret ingredient turns out to be poison, she must reveal the unsavory truth…Agatha bought the quiche ready-made.  
The Bug Says: I obviously went for something completely different with my next book, and it did not disappoint. Apparently I’m late to this series (which is also a television show?), but I was thrilled to find it. There are thirty books! It was a lot of fun, even though the main character is not all that likeable at first. Or second. Or third. You think she’s somewhat rehabilitated and then her true nature shines forth again. It was a lot of fun.

5. The Vicious Vet (Agatha Raisin #2) ★★★, by M.C. Beaton. Handsome vet Paul Bladen accidentally kills himself while attending Lord Pendlebury's horse. Agatha and attractive neighbor James Lacey investigate the curious lack of sorrow shown by his divorced wife while a killer plans another "accident".
The Bug Says: I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as the first one. There was a lot of man chasing which seemed out of character, but maybe this is really what Agatha is like – we shall see! But the mystery was still pretty good.

I’ve only read three books in February. Hopefully I’ll get another couple in before the end of the month, or my next book post will be pretty short. I’ll give you a teaser – there’s a 5 star, a 4 star, and a very rare (for me) 2 star on the list so far. What are you reading these days?


  1. Good for you for reading, and what a good way to remember what the books are about -- let alone whether you liked them or not! I don't do any fiction reading right now (or at least hardly any) but I'm piling books up in the corner nonetheless, and there are several I wanted to get into over the winter. Now, I'm thinking maybe I'll get to them in high summer, when it's too hot to do anything else!

  2. You review of Euphoria reminded me of a documentary that aired on Netflix for a while. Same setup with several people living on an island, but this time it was the Galapagos in the 1930s.

    This documentary, whose name I've forgotten, had a similar disturbing quality that just didn't make sense. Watched it several times and always came away what I was missing.

  3. I've got the Murmur of Bees on my list of books to look for. don't know if I'll finish my current book before I publish my nest list at the end of the month.

  4. I put "The Murmur of Bees" on Hold at my local library. I'm currently reading "A Very Stable Genius". It is maddening but a good read.

  5. I'm reading AMERICAN DIRT, A VERY STABLE GENIUS, and the Barbara Bush biography by Susan Page. And my audio-book is ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. I also loved THE MURMUR OF BEES although it would not typically be my genre.

  6. hmmmmm - I shall have to look for some of those at my library. Thanks.

  7. I keep a list of all the books I've read for the same reason -- to jog my memory. It's impossible to remember them all! And yeah, sometimes I'll see a title on that list and it will seem completely unfamiliar to me. *sigh*

    I'm reading a Newbery now that looks TERRIBLE -- "Miss Hickory." I'll let you know! LOL


Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear what you have to say!

2022 Project 365 – Week Twenty

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