Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

readwritecook’s CBR5# Review #1: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

beautiful mystery

I am very fond of Louise Penny’s writing and I sometimes wouldn’t mind moving to Three Pines.  The idealic fictional town in Quebec that serves as the backdrop for most of the novels in the Armand Gamache Mystery series. The town and its colorful group of artists and unique individuals provide more than enough side stories and additional detail to fill out the central mystery in these novels. And that is where my biggest disappointment comes in with this latest novel in the series.  The town is one of the central characters and it is absent here.

Armand Gamache is Chief Inspector of the Surete de Quebec and his job typically takes him to Three Pines but not in The Beautiful Mystery. Instead, he is called up into the deep forests of northern Quebec to investigate a murder that has taken place in a secret congregation of monks. These monks have been living unknown for thousands of years but have recently become notorious as a recording of their musical Gregorian chants was released. One of the  congregation-the  choirmaster- has been murdered and Gamache is called in to find the killer.

One of Penny’s trademarks is her beautiful use of language and it is evident here but the beauty of the writing couldn’t fully overcome the lack of action and slow pace to keep my interest. While I understand Penny’s intention to mirror the slow and measured pace of the monastery with her words, I still found it to be frustratingly slow.  Pages and pages are dedicated to the discussion and attempt to understand the purpose and meaning of the Gregorian chant. At the same time, Penny brings in one of the ongoing storylines regarding Gamach and his tenuous relationship with his superior. While this story progresses more than in other novels, I was left wishing that more details were revealed. The resolution at the end felt inadequate and frustrating.

I give The Beautiful Mystery three stars. It’s hard not to compare it to Penny’s other Gamache mysteries. I would give most of them a four star rating. While her use of language and ability to tell the story is still intact, I just wish there had been a significant supporting story to give this tale a bit more to keep my interest.


2013: Reading, Writing, and Cooking Again

I wasn’t much for resolutions in 2012, but I’m back in 2013! I’ve decided upon a number of new goals. I’ve signed up for two reading challenges (Cannonball Read V and a Genre Challenge for the UK book club on Goodreads) and created a cooking challenge of my own based on the Fresh 20 and my own desire to try new cuisines in 2013.

I am in the process of updating this blog as I haven’t posted in over a year, so bear with me. I’ve blocked time on my calendar dedicated to keeping this up to date. Here we go!

Cannonball Read V (
The full Cannonball Read V is a challenge to read 52 books in the span of a year. The awesome and touching history of the challenge and more details can be found here: As this is my first year, I’m looking to complete the half Cannonball (26) in 2013.

Goodreads UK Book Club – Genre Challenge 2013
New genre each month is voted on by participants. January is historical and I’m going to read The English Monster by Lloyd Shepherd when I’ve finished with The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny. Review to follow soon.

Writing is what I do in my professional life—technical writing, marketing writing, and documentation project management—but yet I maintain a number of writing projects on the side. My goal here is to dedicated some of my free time to these projects each week. Also, this blog qualifies as part of my personal writing goal as well.

I signed up for an online cooking subscription called The Fresh 20. Each week, they provide a menu with an accompanying shopping list for 5 quick and healthy meals. My goal is to use at least 2 menus from the site each month. I’ll be posting notes and reviews from my experience and my family’s reaction to the meals.

Also, I’ve decide to assign each month of 2013 with a different type of cuisine and then prepare at least 4 meals that month based on that cuisine. January is Asian cuisine month.

I’m looking forward to keeping up with my 2013 goals and to sharing my experiences with all of you.


Time to Get Back on That Horse…

Oh My! I cannot believe that is has been so long since my last post. I have been busy but not so busy that I can use that as an excuse. It seems that a blog-once neglected-can be similar to my work out routine. That is, very hard to go back to. Anyway, I have been keeping up with reading. In fact, I feel as though i have had very productive beginning to 2011. I have a tendency to glom onto a single author series and then read them all in quick succession. Case in point, Suzanne Collins, Steig Larson, and Louise Penny.

I recently finished a wonderful and beautifully written novel. Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill came highly recommended by A Life in Books and I suggested it to my sister Sue as she loves historical fiction. She loved it and handed it over to me once she had finished. This was probably the most beautifully written novel I have read in a long time. Such detail and care put into the language and descriptions of a such an ugly time in our history. I am trying to get my husband to read it and I will try to post an actual ‘review’ soon.

For now, I am trying to put a toe in the water and see if I can swim fully. As I stated last year, my goal is to read more, write more, and cook more. This is my place to document my progress. I am also in the process of starting a new business so that is taking up quite a bit of my time as well. I look forward to sharing my experiences.

The God of Animals, by Aryn Kyle

I had a hard time getting into The God of Animals at first, but after about a third of the book I was hooked. This is a coming of age story about a young girl struggling to understand the actions of everyone around her, as she observes much more than it would seem. After her older sister runs off to get married, she is left longing for life to just go back to the way it was. As she navigates this new life and the changes that come, she begins to realize that you can’t go back.

I was really taken with this story when in the course of two pages, I went from laughing to tears. The imagery of the horses and their struggles were as moving as the main characters.  I’ve never been a horse person, but this book gave me a better understanding and appreciation of these animals.

The bootlegger’s daughter…

Another book from my Book Awards Challenge completed! I finished The Bootlegger’s Daughter by Margaret Maron weeks ago but I am just getting around to doing the write-up. March has been an incredibly busy month so far!

I enjoyed this book. It is the first in the Deborah Knott series of mystery/crime novels. Deborah is the main character who lives in a small North Carolina town. In the past, her father ran the biggest bootlegging business in the area. As a lawyer for the county, Deborah takes on the task of investigating an 18-year-old murder and surrounding mystery.

What I enjoyed about this novel is the deep character development beyond the central mystery. Many times mystery novels focus solely on the crime and nothing else. The result is that when the story ends, there isn’t anything to draw you back to the next one. Not so with Bootlegger. I want to know what happens next for Ms. Knott and I think I may find out on my flight later this month…this will be a good, light read.

I want to move to Three Pines…

I finished reading Louise Penny’s A Fatal Grace over a week ago and I am still somewhat sad that I don’t get to continue on with the townspeople of Three Pines each night. A Fatal Grace is part of a series so I will get to come back to these interesting folks, but not for a while.

A Fatal Grace fulfills one of the Book Awards Challenge novels. It won the Agatha Award 2008. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book! I tend to like crime novels, so I assumed I would get through it fairly easily. But this was a smart crime novel, with incredibly interesting characters. And not just the central detective sent to solve the crime that sets the story in motion. The town of Three Pines where the crime takes place is full of quirky, endearing people who are the heart of the novel. I found myself wanting to walk the town square and stop in for a drink at the local bistro.

My book club was nice enough to choose A Fatal Grace as our pick for this month. I will be interested to learn if I am the only one who was so taken by this story. And I eagerly look forward to reading more about Three Pines and from Louise Penny.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

I finished reading The Woman in White this weekend and I would say that I enjoyed the book. Some parts I really enjoyed and found it hard to put down, others were a bit tedious and hard to wade through. It was pretty long and dense language/writing to get through, but I liked the story being told from diverse perspectives and it took many twists and turns. I would recommend this to someone who a) is ready for a bit of a challenge, b) likes old english literature, and c) enjoys a good mystery.

The is the first book i’ve completed for The Typically British Challenge.

The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

read, write, and cook blog

Just another weblog

Cannonball Read V

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.