House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin Craig – 3*
I had really mixed feelings on this one. I actually really loved it for the majority of the book, but the ending (a) got unexpectedly gruesome, way more down the horror spectrum than I was anticipating, and (b) the ending used a plot device that I somewhat consider cheating, especially since it didn’t really fully explain a lot of the mysteries. I really liked the characters, especially the narrator, and the concept is done quite well, with a good creepy mystery going on, but then – it just kind of went a little sideways towards the end for me. But a sequel is coming out the summer and I’ll probably read it, so there’s that haha
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder – 5*
Continuing the chapter-a-day readalong of the Little House books, our group picked up Farmer Boy next. For some reason, I always read this one much later in the series when I was growing up, so it was especially interesting for me to read this one right after reading about Laura being the same age. If I had to pick, I would probably pick Almanzo’s life – much more settled, and SO MUCH good food!! I really loved reading about all the “how tos” around the farm, and seeing Almanzo learn lessons about life. I wish that Laura had written another book about Almanzo so that we could learn more about how he got from a prosperous farm in New York to the little frontier town in the Dakotas!
Murder at the Mayfair Hotel by C.J. Archer – 3.5*
My sister started this mystery series and thought it would be fun for us to read together. We’re going quite slowly, but that’s better than not at all haha
This one is set just before the New Year of 1900. Cleo is moving in with her uncle, aunt, and two (adult) cousins, who own a luxury hotel in London (the Mayfair, naturally). Cleo has been estranged from them for her entire life due to the usual mother eloped with an “unsuitable” man, etc. This does a great job of giving Cleo an in-between position – she isn’t a guest, but she’s still an outsider learning her way. She’s always been poor, but now she has money and is expected to act “appropriately” for her class. When the murder happens, she doesn’t have too many preconceived notions to interfere with her theories. Some aspects of this story definitely stretched my credulity, but on the whole I liked Cleo herself and found this to be a decent historical mystery with a fun setting.
Living With Pattern by Rebecca Atwood – 4*
A while back I read Living With Color by this author, and absolutely loved it. Living With Pattern is actually her earlier book, which I found intriguing since Color seems like a more natural place to start than Pattern (to me). While I did enjoy this one and found some useful information in it, I didn’t love it the way that I did Color. I think, for me, “pattern” as a concept is harder to grasp than color. Pattern involves color, texture, shapes, space, distance, texture, etc. While this can work if you’re looking at, say, one piece of furniture, it’s hard for me when you’re looking at a room as a whole and trying to identify what patterns you see and how they are interacting with one another. Honestly, I would love it if Atwood wrote more books breaking down Pattern into more specific subcategories, like she did with Color. I would happily read a book about texture or furniture placement. When I read her book about color, I made my husband read it, too, and we discussed SO much of it. (Part of this, I’ll admit, is because he works with color for a living – he paints cars, which involves a great deal of matching and adjusting color, so he is already familiar with terms and concepts like saturation, vibrance, and hue.) But I never felt that kind of connection with this book. And while the book about color had me looking around my whole house and thinking about my spaces, this book left me feeling a little overwhelmed and without a lot of starting direction. I do think part of this is that our house is very open, and not very big, so while we have distinct spaces without our home, you can see almost everything from any point in the house. From where I am sitting at my computer in the corner I can see our pantry, the kitchen, a work area, a sitting area, and part of the lower room. So it can be a tad overwhelming to try and thinking about how all these different spaces are interacting with one another. Although I did find myself starting to count rectangles, as that seems to be our favorite shape around here!
All in all, Living With Pattern was still a worthwhile read, it just was a bit more academic and less practical than Living With Color was for me.
Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – 4.5*
This was a reread, of course, of an old favorite. I absolutely love this mystery. Partially because I adore Miss Marple, but partially because I love the narrator of this book. The Vicar is such a likable, self-depreciating individual, and he really levels up the story. No matter how many times I read this one, I always seem to forget who the murderer is, and even when I do remember, I’m still just caught up in admiration for Christie’s many red herrings. While not my all-time favorite Christie, this is still an absolute classic.
Running Total: (I think I forgot this on my last post!) Books that I’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet: 74!!! High/Low: 97/74