Sep 14, 2013

My Half-Full Glass and What I’ve Been Reading

I didn’t write my usual Tuesday and Friday blog posts this week because I’ve been recuperating from surgery I had earlier in the week. This sounds much worse than it actually is, because in reality I kind of feel like I’ve been given a little vacation. When else would I have the opportunity to read as much as I like and sleep as much as I like for days on end, with my sweet husband and sons (more or less) cheerfully tackling every household chore? Instead of complaining about the pain and inconvenience of recovery, I decided early on to focus on the positives here, and it has made all of the difference in the world! ☺

Since I have been spending SO much time reading this week, I thought I’d discuss these books today. Usually, I am not one to read more than one book at a time. I also generally stick to the same genre for awhile, but lately I have veered from my usual reading style and have mixed things up a bit. Here is a tidbit from each of the books I have had the pleasure of reading this week—I promise I will not give too much away! 
* * * * *
THE HANDFASTING by David Burnett  I just finished this book this morning. It is a wonderful story that begins when two college-aged kids become “handfasted” on a trip to Scotland, and picks up ten years later when the two reconnect. I enjoyed this book, and it definitely made me think about the significance of honesty in relationships and the pros and cons of small-town life.

THE BRIDE by Julie Garwood  OK, so this is definitely not "literary fiction," but it is still a really good book! Set in Scotland in the time of William the Conqueror, THE BRIDE is a light, easy read and is just fun—anyone who enjoys historical fiction with a bit of romance should enjoy this one.

THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER by Megan Shepherd  I don’t usually go for “thriller” types, but I LOVED this book, which uses H.G. Wells’ THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU as a springboard for its haunting, intricate story. This is superbly written, and I can’t wait to read more by this author!

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn  About a year ago this book was chosen for my street’s monthly book club, but due to the craziness of life I never got around to reading it. GONE GIRL is a razor-sharp, fast-paced book that takes an up-close look at a couple’s (very) dysfunctional relationship. I was a bit unsatisfied by the ending, but, honestly, the whole book was definitely out of my comfort zone, and I think the ending just serves to prolong this discomfort. It DID really make me think, though, and is extremely well written—and it’s *definitely* a page turner!

A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM by Scott Southard  I love, love, love this book! Mr. Southard says up front that this is not a biography of Jane Austen, but is instead a projection of what he imagines her life to have been like. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his interpretation, and was gratified at the end of the book because I felt like Miss Austen finally had an opportunity to be the heroine of a story. It has always saddened me that she died at such a young age, but as Mr. Southard suggests, maybe there is more to her story than we know.  

A CLUE FOR ADRIANNA by Charlotte Kent, Annie Acorn, and Juliette Hill  This is a fun, lovely read, perfect for a weekend at the beach or relaxing at home. I started this book several weeks ago but got sidetracked by the back-to-school rush, so this was the first book I finished this week. I especially like the language and the coastal imagery the authors so skillfully employ. You really feel immersed in the setting!

NORTHANGER ABBEY by Jane Austen  I am re-reading this book, partly because of its reputation of being the “least favorite” of Austen’s novels. Why? I wondered. After starting and stopping it several times (definitely in exasperation, and interspersing it with these other books), I think I have figured it out. Miss Austen meant NORTHANGER ABBEY as a satire of the types of novels that were popular while she was striving toward publication. So, naturally, some of the nuances of this book are over emphasized to the extreme, such as the wishy-washiness of her main character, Catherine Morland, as well Austen’s several-page discourse of why she refuses to denigrate the reading of novels while writing HER novel. (I loved this!!) I also really like a particular sentiment that her hero, Mr. Tilney, utters about novel reading (see my quote of the week for this week). I am not finished with this book—I was a bit irritated with Miss Morland a few days ago and have not returned to her story—but I will pick it up again soon. I just love Jane Austen!

This morning I started reading PRIDE, PREJUDICE, and CHEESE GRITS by Mary Jane Hathaway  Here is the author’s dedication, which sums it up nicely (at least from what I’ve read so far): For my sister, Susan, who when I first told her I was writing a contemporary romance between two Civil War historians in Southern academia and it was based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, didn’t even laugh. Due to my (very) high regard for Jane Austen, I have not read many of the Austen spin-off books, but as a raised-in-the south writer with an addiction to southern literature, I just had to give this one a chance. So far it is great!

I plan to be back on track with my posts next week—please stop by on Tuesday, September 17 for the first post in my “Industry Spotlight” series. I will be interviewing debut author Laurie Chance Smith and I can’t wait for you all to hear what she has to say!

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!


  1. I really want to read The Madman's Daughter, it sounds so good! Prayers for your swift recovery. =)

  2. Glad that your family has been taking good care of you while you are recuperating! Your attitude is great. Your description of The Madman's Daughter made me curious, so I'm going to look it up. Hope the rest of your recovery goes well!

  3. Great book list... get well soon...and enjoy the perks.

  4. I hope you have a speedy recovery. What a great way to pass the time while you do recover. :)

  5. The lot of motherhood is that surgery is a vacation...Ha!
    Get well soon, Becky. Thank you for providing reviews for us as a bonus.

  6. Hope you recover fully soon, Becky! Goodness, how efficient you've been in your reading. The Madman's Daughter sounds good.

  7. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Becky.
    Wow, what a lot of books you got read. I am looking forward to A Jane Austen Daydream, and on your recommendation, I'm adding The Madman's Daughter to my list. Thanks!

    1. I've finished PRIDE, PREJUDICE, and CHEESE GRITS (fun, light reading) AND a wonderful new book called THE HUSBAND'S SECRET also in the last three days. Starting another one today, hopefully! = )


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