31. Yes Please! by Amy Poehler (Dey Street Books, 2015. 352 pages.)
I knew and loved Amy Poehler from SNL's Weekend Updates (with Seth Meyers) and the inimitable Leslie Knope from Parks & Rec, but I didn't know much about her Comedy Central debut with the Upright Citizens Brigade or anything, really, about her growing up years. Her work and her life come together so well in this enjoyable memoir. Even more fun, Natalie and I read this together (well, sort of - when she finished the book we'd loaned from the library she handed it to me and said I should read it, too.) I will never tire of hearing about the creative journeys of artists, and this book provides that, alongside quirky sorts of "life lessons" reminiscent of her web series Smart Girls.
32. Evans Above (Constable Evans, Book 1) by Rhys Bowen (Berkley, 1998. 224 pages)
Brian and I took a couple of days to get away in October, and I needed the most cozy of reading to accompany us. Rhys Bowen's Constable Evans series was the perfect fit. I read the first three books in the series in two days! The only thing that distracted me from the pleasant Welsh community and their idyllic Welsh village (suffering a disproportionately large number of suspicious deaths!) was trying to imagine who the BBC would cast as Constable Evans in a televised version of the series.
Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 1: "Little Llanfair has its share of characters—two ministers vying for the souls of their flock, one lascivious barmaid, and three other Evanses: Evans-the-Meat, Evans-the-Milk, and Evans-the-Post.
But before Evan—now knows as Evans-the-Law—can enjoy Llanfair's tranquillity, he's called to the scene of a crime as brutal as any in the big city. Two hikers have been murdered on the trails of the local mountain, and now Evan must hunt down a vicious killer in a town where one of his lovable new neighbors could prove to be deadly..."
33. Evan Help Us (Constable Evans, Book 2) by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur Books, 1998. 224 pages.)
Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 2: "Evan Evans is settling into his role as Constable of Llanfair, a small town nestled in the mountains of North Wales. Here, he has been a mediator of the minor disputes of the locals, between competing ministers, country merchants, and seemingly every Welch eccentric throughout the region. But an unusual series of events brings unseen hostilities to light, and Evan realizes just how deep the townsfolk's passions and hostilities lie.
34. Evanly Choirs (Constable Evans, Book 3) by Rhys Bowen (Berkley, 2000. 256 pages)
Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 3: "When Constable Evan Evans is persuaded to join the local male choir for the upcoming eisteddfod (cultural festival), he doesn't think the addition of his mediocre voice will do them much good. In spite of all the effort that choirmaster Mostyn Phillips puts in to the choir, it is not exactly first class. Hope arrives in the form of world renowned tenor Ifor Llewelyn, come home to Llanfair to rest, on doctor's orders."
35. Murphy's Law (Molly Murphy Mystery, Book 1) by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur Books, 2013. 226 pages)
During our October get away, I also jumped into another Rhys Bown cozy mystery series, The Molly Murphy mysteries. I started with these, intrigued by the Irish protagonist. I was a bit disappointed to discover that, while many of the characters are Irish, the books are set in 19th-century New York City rather than in her homeland of the Emerald Isle.
Still, I like the character and am enjoying the love interest, if not the actual mysteries they are solving as much.
Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 1: "Molly Murphy always knew she'd end up in trouble, just as her mother predicted. So, when she commits murder in self-defense, she flees her cherished Ireland, and her identity, for the anonymous shores of America. When she arrives in new York and sees the welcoming promise of freedom in the Statue of Liberty, Molly begins to breathe easier. But when a man is murdered on Ellis Island, a man Molly was seen arguing with, she becomes a prime suspect in the crime.
Using her Irish charm and sharp wit, Molly escapes Ellis Island and sets out to find the wily killer on her own. Pounding the notorious streets of Hell's Kitchen and the Lower East Side, Molly make sit her desperate mission to clear her name before her deadly past comes back to haunt her new future."
36. In Like Flynn (Molly Murphy Mystery, Book 2) by Rhys Bowen (Minotaur Books, 2015. 336 pages)
Here's the Amazon blurb for Book 2: "
Fledgling private investigator Molly Murphy's latest assignment gives her the opportunity to escape the typhoid epidemic sweeping across New York City in the summer of 1902 for the lush Hudson River Valley. And it comes from an unlikely source-Captain Daniel Sullivan, a New York City police detective and erstwhile beau of Molly's. She has vowed to keep him at arm's length until he can rid himself of his socialite fiancée, but she can't pass up the chance to take advantage of his offer of a real detective job.
Daniel hires Molly to go undercover inside the country household of Senator Barney Flynn, in Peekskill, New York. Flynn's wife, Theresa, has become the latest devotee of a pair of spiritualists known as the Sorensen Sisters. The frail Theresa is desperate to use the sisters' alleged abilities to hold a séance to contact her infant son, who was kidnapped five years ago and never found; the accused kidnapper was killed before he could tell police where the boy was being held. But the police are sure the women are frauds.
When Molly allows herself to be distracted from the Sorensen Sisters and the members of the Flynn household by the unsolved kidnapping, it is a race against time to find out what's really going on before it's too late."
37. The Graces We Remember: Sacred Days of Ordinary Time (Stories From the Farm in Lucy) by Phyllis Tickle (Loyola Press, 2004. 150 pages)
I know the late Phyllis Tickle only from the work she did compiling prayer manuals known as The Divine Hours. I found at a library book sale this sweet trilogy of short stories written throughout the span of the liturgical year at the author's family farm in Lucy, Tennessee. Naturally, I want to read each title in the appropriate season, thus The Graces We Remember in the closing months of Ordinary Time.
An excerpt: "There is something glorious about the fall in and of itself. It demands almost nothing of us except our applause. Save for putting up the hay and gathering in the last of the vegetables for preserving, the hard chores are done until the first freeze comes. The world is still warm, but comfortably so for the first time in months; and the chilly evenings speak only of the exhilaration of winter, not of its risks and dangers."
38. Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre (Eerdmans, 2009. 256 pages)
Marilyn Chandler McEntyre believes that we as a culture, generally, and as a faith community, specifically, have not stewarded well the gift of language. After making her case that the Word cares about words, she shares twelve thoughtful strategies to steward language: Love Words, Tell the Truth, Don't Tolerate Lies, Read Well, Stay in Conversation, Share Stories, Love the Long Sentence, Practice Poetry, Attend to Translation, Play, Pray, Cherish Silence.
I enjoyed this as much during my re-read with our church reading group as I did the first time I read McEntyre's engaging ode to a word fitly spoken. Our group (Apostles Reads) gave mixed reviews on the author's point of view, but all of us felt encouraged and refreshed in our enjoyment and stewardship of the resource of language.
39. The End of Summer by Rosamunde Pilcher (St. Martin's Paperback, 2013. 241 pages)
I read this little novel, appropriately, in the first days of September. I still far prefer Winter Solstice to anything else I've read by Rosamunde Pilcher, but I'll never tire of sweet stories with substantive characters set in the Scottish countryside.
Here's the Amazon blurb: "After years in the United States, Jane returns to the tranquil Scottish estate, Elvie, where she spent a magical childhood. Memories of Elvie had always summoned the image of Sinclair, the rakish man Jane had once dreamed of marrying, but now that she is home, she finds Sinclair a different man. His charm has a purpose, and Jane can no longer trust him...or herself, in The End of Summer."
Go to my reading lists page to see my reading lists from 2016 and previous years.
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I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
What are you reading these days?
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