Boy, it's been a long time since I updated my reading list with ya'll, huh? Needless to say, at this point the mini reviews will be even "mini-er" than usual.
This summer was the summer of Agatha Christie for me, so I read the following:
#31 What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!
#32 The Body in the Library
#33 Thirteen at Dinner
#34 Murder on the Orient Express
#35 The ABC Murders
#36 Cards on the Table
#37 Death on the Nile
Of all of them, I liked Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express best. I guess I like M. Poirot and his little mustaches better than Miss Marple. But not by much. All were thoroughly enjoyable.
#38 Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. The story of a dwarf woman during the Nazi years in Germany. Interesting things to say about living through such a terrible time, and how quickly the people wanted to forget how horrible it was, and never admit what had actually happened.
#39 The Golem by Isaac Bashevis Singer. A golem is a monster made by a rabbi to save the Jewish people in time of danger. But once you have brought something to life, how do you handle the things that naturally flow from that? Can you just kill what you have made? Or does it have a life that must be respected? Especially in these times, a Jewish folk tale becomes utterly relevant.
#40 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K.Rowling. Yes, I like 'em. And I liked this one, too. I was surprised by the high body count, and about one of the characters who died saving Harry. And no, I'm not talking about Snape. I like the series, and I liked the ending.
#41 The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty. The story of Uncle Daniel, who is "not quite right" but lives to love and talk and give stuff away. After his 2nd wife, Bonnie Dee, dies, he is charged and tried for murder. Classic Welty.
#42 Little Men by Louisa May Alcott. A reread from my childhood. I still liked it, but it was far preachier than I remembered it. That said, I still loved the boys and Jo and the Professor, even when they were too good to be true.
#43 Captain from Castille by Samuel Shellabarger. Oh, go get this book and read it! Do! Pedro de Vargas, young Spaniard from an honorable family hopes to follow in his father's footsteps. But Diego de Silva stands in the way. Prison, Inquisition, trip to Mexico with Cortez, sitting in jail waiting to have one's heart cut out by the Aztecs, the rich and beautiful Luisa, the fiery and common (or not so common) Catana..... What more do you need in a book?
#44 Isn't It Romantic by Ron Hansen. Called "an entertainment", it is just that--a sweet bon bon of mistaken identity and unlikely people. Natalie and Pierre, a French couple, wind up in Seldom, NE. Will they remember why they love each other, or will they end up with Dick, the handsome rancher, and Iona, a beautiful young waitress?
#45 The Night is Far Spent by Thomas Howard. Cannot be recommended highly enough. I loved this book. A series of essays, easy to read in small bites. Get it. Read it.
#46 Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy by Rumer Godden. Loyola Classics has reprinted this. Godden's second convent book, this one focuses on the French Dominican Sister of Bethanie, who look for vocations in women who have been sent to prison. Much darker than In This House of Brede, it is still a fabulous read, and shows that the religious life is no guarantor of holiness. Thumbs up on this one.
#47 The Hunter's Tale by Margaret Frazer. Picked this up at the library from their display of "unusual sleuths" books. One of a whole series of Dame Frevisse medieval mysteries. Dame Frevisse is a nun in the convent of St. Frideswide. In this story, one of the convent's pupil's father, the awful Sir Ralph Woderove is murdered while out with his hunting party. Almost everyone wanted to do it, even his own family, but who did? Nothing too special about this. Nowhere near the atmosphere of the Brother Cadfael mysteries, which I think are far superior. Not bad, but I won't necessarily seek out another.
#48 The New Woman by Jon Hassler. Agatha McGee moves into the Sunset Senior Apartments and faces the loss of two dear friends. Fans of Hassler will be interested to see how Agatha copes with this new phase of her life.
#49 Expressions of the Catholic Faith by Kevin Orlin Johnson. Those of us who are converts are often looking for books we can put into the hands of those we know who think we have lost our minds for swimming the Tiber. This book is a very worthy addition to the list of those I regularly send out to people with questions. Johnson has written a very breezy, sometimes funny, book with short chapters discussing various aspects of Catholic life: the liturgy, vestments, art, Mary, etc, etc, etc. Very nice. I also recommend his other books as well.
#50 The Cloister Walk by Kathleen Norris. Meditations on liturgy, lectio, Benedictine spirituality, writing and life by a non-Catholic who is a Benedictine oblate. I find the book both beautiful and frustrating. How can someone be so in love with everything at the monastery (staying two times for 9 months each time), yet remain separate? We couldn't puzzle that out at book club.
So, there we are. I am now nearing the end of The Shipping News and my "sitting in car line book", a funny little memoir called Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana. I promise I won't wait so long to update next time!