Today’s post almost remained unwritten. I blame Galavant. The show is streaming on Netflix and, since I’d heard great things about it, I decided to watch an episode after work before settling down to write.
Next thing I knew, I’d gone through six episodes. If you’re fond of stories where the characters periodically break into song for no reason, I definitely recommend it. Just be careful. The episodes may only be about 20 minutes, but they’re addictive.
I told myself I was watching to “study story” but even I didn’t buy that. I was watching strictly for fun, which isn’t such a bad thing to do.
This week was about more than entertaining television though. Getting back into writing mode has also meant getting back to reading. Here then is what I’ve been reading lately:
A new author
First up was The Bookshop That Floated Away by Sarah Henshaw. I picked this up during a three-hour browse through Blackwell’s bookstore earlier this summer. I was enchanted by the idea of a story about operating a bookshop out of one of the narrowboats I’d seen populating the waterways around Oxford. One of the hazards of choosing a book by its cover and interesting title, however, is that what you thought was a work of fiction might actually be more of a memoir. Lesson learned on that one, but I kept reading, since the book had potential.
Unfortunately, this impulse buy did not turn out to be the book for me. There was far too much introspection and discussion of navigating the locks (apparently, quite a challenge for a single person in a narrowboat), and not nearly enough details about the actual operation of the bookshop and the interactions along the way. I skipped right over the twenty-five page section about two-thirds of the way through the book, which was in the POV of the boat. I had to give the author/bookshop owner kudos for embarking on her enterprise and for the creative ways she bartered for necessities during her six month journey floating up and down the waterways selling books, but the story was a thumbs down for me.
Something I can’t believe I never read before
Next up was a book by A. A. Milne. While I was very familiar with his Winnie the Pooh stories in all their incarnations, I was not aware that Milne had written a detective story until I encountered The Red House Mystery. Published in 1922, it is a classic locked-room mystery set in an English country house. I liked the pacing of the book. Things happened, like the dead body around page 9, but it never felt like it rushed or dragged. In traditional country house story fashion, there was an interesting cast of characters and a charming setting. Tony Gillingham, the amateur investigator in the story, works through potential theories in a methodical fashion, but never takes himself too seriously. Though I didn’t quite figure out the solution to the mystery completely correctly before the ending of the book there were enough clues to provide a sporting chance. I liked the fact that the book didn’t take itself too seriously. Sure there was a murder, but there was also fun and banter and entertainment. I wish Milne had written more stories like this.
“Yes. Well, if any of ‘em should happen to be murdered, you might send for me. I’m just getting into the swing of it.” ~ Tony, The Red House Mystery
A New Book by a Favourite Author
The last book (and current) book on my reading list is Rachel Gibson’s Just Kiss Me. I’ve read a number of other books by Gibson including See Jane Score, which combines two of my favourite things: romance and hockey. I prefer the writing and style of her earlier books rather than her more recent ones, but when I saw Just Kiss Me on the shelf at the store recently (on sale!), I thought I’d give it a try.
So far I’m only part way through the story of Vivien Leigh Rochert and Henry Whitley-Shuler, so no definitive thumbs up or down yet. The story has a very southern feel, with a relaxed pace. What I have noticed so far is that I’m having trouble getting involved enough in the story to stop being distracted by how it is crafted; possibly a lasting side-effect from the McDaniel program. My mind is mentally drafting conflict-boxes instead of being drawn in by the characters and their relationships. Hopefully, that’s because I’ve only had short bursts of time to read, rather than because of the story itself. I’ve set aside a nice long reading block this weekend to counteract that. I’ll report back later on how it all works out.
So, what have you been reading (or trying to read) recently? Any recommendations to add to my overflowing queue?