17 February 2012

What I Read This Week

1. The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart: We read this for bookclub, and this may be a contender for at least best book of the year, if not one of the best books I've ever read. I don't even think I could say enough good things about this book in a tiny little reviewlet (because my reviewlets have always been tiny right?). Mild Spoiler Alert (although I don't think I say anything that can't be found on any online descriptions): The story centers around four children (more or less alone) of differing skills and a mysterious stranger named Mr. Benedict who takes them under his wing and prepares them for a dangerous mission. The children must work together to fight for the rest of humanity, who are unaware that their minds are being controlled.
First off, this book is clever. Mr. Stewart is just a clever, funny person. He seems like he was well read and just has a love of wit and words. So, that alone should be able to capture your imagination and your heart as you read this.
But, as an added bonus, the book is absolutely BURSTING with Truth. There is an overt love for truth both among the children and Mr. Benedict. And the bad guys are clearly opposed to truth. Also, as my friend Carrie so wisely brought out, the children themselves are a picture of the church. Each child has unique skills that he or she must use to fight for truth and to overcome evil. Anyway, I loved it and if I keep going this post will be turned into a review of just this book, and that isn't what it's supposed to be. But yes, five stars. Go read it. Go BUY it. It's worth it.

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett: Yup, another Pratchett. I've already reviewed this (in case you didn't notice the link) so I won't say anything here.

Cover Her Face by P.D. James: A few months ago I had a major shift in my life. I went to bed as a confirmed hater of Country Music and woke up loving it. I'm not kidding. It was the most rapid strange switch in opinion I've ever had. Recently I've had another. I woke up one day and realized I liked mysteries (I should stop sleeping...clearly I change too much). I have heard about P.D. James for a while, but I haven't liked mysteries until...well, a mere few weeks ago.
That all being said, I really liked this. It's a mystery so I'm not sure there is a whole lot to discuss, but it's a well written mystery. How can I tell this? Well, I didn't guess the end. I was sharing with my book club friends the other night. It's particularly hard to find a book that stumps me. This one did. Also it was (in the main) fairly clean except for, I believe some swearing. It's part of a series called the Adam Dalgliesh series which I plan on continuing.
Adam Dalgliesh is the detective and you don't get to know a whole lot about him. I'd like to know more, which is why I already have the next one. James does do a good job of filling out the rest of her characters though, they aren't wooden as some characters in mysteries tend to be. The plot is a young woman of ill repute (she's an unwed mother) comes to work at an Upperclass manor. She manages to get herself out of the good graces of many of the people in the house, and one morning is discovered strangled. Many people by this time had a motive and it's up to Mr. Dalgliesh to figure out who was the killer.

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett: This is another in the Tiffany Aching series. It was just ok. I have read better. It's basically Tiffany coming of age, learning what is important. Granny Weatherwax (who I've mentioned earlier) plays a bigger role in this book which makes sense, as she's the Head Witch (which they actually don't have because Granny Weatherwax said that they don't have Head Witches). Something I did appreciate was some of Granny's advice to Tiffany is "things aren't important. People are." I find the advice practical for more than just witches.


DARRELX said...

You read that many books in a week. It's good to see that young people still read books in this digital age. I use to read a lot of fiction, now I read none fiction. I went through a Steven King period for a while. He is the only modern writer I like. I love the classics. Tess of the Durbervilles is my favorite. Ever read that? A very beautiful and tragic story.

BerlinerinPoet said...

@Darrel: It really just depends on the books and the week. I actually normally read non-fiction, but the last few months have been nearly exclusively fiction. I'm not sure why, but hopefully you'll see some non-fiction soon.
Yes, I've read Tess of the d'Urbervilles. It is beautiful, but the tragedy borders on depressing for me. I know it's a fine line. I haven't read Steven King, but I'm obviously aware of his work. Who isn't? :-)

CrossEm said...

I live in dread of the day when you wake up loving paperback romance novels and Twinkies.

BerlinerinPoet said...

@CrossEm: Ohhh I laugh! I laugh! I'm actually in far more danger of waking up with a desire to read a paperback romance than to eat Twinkies. *shudder*

DARRELX said...

Oh yes, depressing is a very apt word. Still I love that scene where she assaulted the babies face with kisses. It has always stayed with me. For me it was the most touching scene in the book.

@crossem, LOL!

I just can't see that happening.

Carrie said...

LOL to CrossEm!!! Hahahahahaha!!!

I'm so glad you liked Mysterious Benedict Society. That book is a 99.9% 'sure thing' as far as book recommendations go. I only had one friend who read it and didn't like it. I'm convinced something is kind of wrong with her. ;)

I've never read P.D. James but I have another friend who devours those books. Would I like him? (I assume it's a him.)

BerlinerinPoet said...

@Carrie: I have a theory about which person this might be. And I am afraid to say, there definitely is something wrong with you if you don't at least find the book a clever story...at LEAST!

P.D. James is a she. I was surprised too. She's the author of Children of Men, which later became the movie of the same title. I was surprised when I learned that too. I think...you might. It's not as deep as Dorothy Sayers, and not as light and happy as Agatha Christie. Somewhere in between? (Look at how I'm an expert after one book) I thought it was pretty good though. And it's so nice to discover a new(ish) author who's relatively engaging and relatively clean!

Anonymous said...

I just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society. I loved it. I'm going back to the library to get the next ones. SO GOOD. Thanks for posting it on goodreads. I also am starting the Wrinkle in Time series. One day I'll finish the history stuff I'm reading...

BerlinerinPoet said...

@Shosta: I know! I know! Haha! Glad you like them too. And now I want to re-read A Wrinkle in Time. Hmmm...my poor neglected non-fiction.

Annette {This Simple Home} said...

I also loved MBS...Carrie didn't have to twist my arm to read it when she had a review similar to yours. :)

Thank you for the James recommendation. GOOD and fairly clean mysteries are not so easy to find for me.