Weekly Reads – April 17, 2022

Happy Easter to those who celebrate! Our holiday has been quiet, but relaxing. We got the kids up and dressed in their Easter finest before Pat, Chris, and I headed off to church (Lillie is nursing a lingering cold, so she stayed home out of an abundance of caution…and so she could eat ALL her Easter candy in one sitting). After church, we hid some eggs for the kids so that they could consume even more sugar and I read for a good chunk of the day!

Remember last week when I raised the alarm that snow was in the forecast? Well, here was our backyard on Monday morning:

I know it doesn’t look bad, especially if you live some place with actual weather. But this was almost apocalyptic for the Pacific Northwest in April. Even though the pavement where we were was clear, the schools were on a 2 hour delay, probably because the school district–like me–couldn’t believe it would actually snow in April. However, my husband had a doctor appointment that morning (which was not delayed), so I had to leave the kids to their own devices to get too school. Spoiler: they got there, although my daughter (who left last) left the door unlocked.

We’ve been watching some interesting TV lately. There is one show I’ll address in the book section, but two other shows are The Chelsea Detective and Our Great National Parks. The former is just a well-done British crime show with an interesting main character and a strong supporting cast. The second is Barack Obama doing a nature show…I don’t want that to sound dismissive but that is an accurate description of it. Trust me, when you have a stressful day, there are few things more relaxing that listening to Barack Obama talk about a family of swimming hippos.

Okay, onto the books. As usual, I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? blog hop.

This week, I read:

Heaven’s Keep (Cork O’Connor #9) by William Kent Krueger
Date Finished: April 11, 2022
Star Rating: 4 stars

After 9 books in and this one is probably my favorite of the series (so far). Structure-wise, this book differs from the earlier Cork O’Connor books as it is part mystery, part thriller but still doesn’t really fall into either category. In some ways, this book is almost closer to his more literary standalone books in terms of emotional depth.

On the mystery side, though, this did have a lot of twists and turns that kept me going. And, in line with being a thriller, once the action gets going (which is about 1/3 of the way through the book–the reason for this makes sense when you read it. To explain it here would be a spoiler), it doesn’t stop.

Another departure here, although I think will only apply to this book, is that it almost feels like a western. There is a lot of dealings with small town, frontier-ish justice as well as an amazing sense of place in the Wyoming Rockies.

I feel like this will be a turning point for this series and I’m interested to see where things go from here. The Cork O’Connor series has quickly become one of my favorites and I’m here for the long haul!

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie
Date finished: April 14, 2022
Star rating: 3 stars

This is the first book I’ve come across in my fairly new Agatha Christie journey that left me somewhere in the area of lukewarm. I didn’t dislike this book, but it just didn’t work for me as well as the others I have read.

I think there are two reasons for this. First, this book felt a bit cluttered. There are a lot of characters going by various names and a lot of plot threads. Trying to follow them all started to become a bit tiresome and, honestly, I was just confused at times. On the upside, this book does move at a healthy clip. While I might have been befuddled now and then, I never felt like Christie was treading water.

Secondly, I read–and enjoyed–The Secret Adversary not too long ago and these two books are definitely in the same family of Christie novels. I think reading this book so soon after a book that I do feel is superior didn’t do it any favors.

All that being said, I’m glad I read it and I’m looking forward to watching what Hugh Laurie does with it in his new adaptation.

So, I did watch the TV adaptation (on BritBox) and I have to say it is a VAST improvement over the book! Hugh Laurie did a great job of streamlining the plot and making the main characters more three-dimensional. And, EMMA THOMPSON HAS A CAMEO! She plays a pissed off, exasperated parent and I’ve never related to her more!

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Date finished: April 15, 2022
Star rating: 4 stars

I’m a sucker for a good witch trial story and this one is about a witch trial I knew very little about. And it is set in Norway, a place that has always intrigued me.

On so many counts, this book did not fail. Hargrave’s description of this desolate community above the arctic circle was enthralling and some of the best world-building I’ve experienced in a historical novel. Hargrave also succeeds in showing how and why the witch mania began. These things never come out of nowhere and Hargrave shows us exactly what was behind them.

The two main characters, Ursula (Ursa) and Maren, are well-crafted and fully believable. The seventeenth century was not a great time for women anywhere, but the setting here is unique in that nearly all of the men in the community were killed at once. The absence (and then reintroduction) shows the perilousness of women’s positions in a creative way.

However, this is my biggest issue with this book. While I did like how Ursa and Maren’s relationship develops and how these two women grapple with a same-sex attraction in a world where that is not accepted (or even known), I felt like it almost got in the way at times of the book. There is a lot of introspective mooning between these two women, more than there really needs to be to illustrate these women’s feelings. At times, it seems like Hargrave was just rehashing what she already wrote. I wish that some of that focus had been shifted over to the impending doom facing the women of the community.

All in all, this was a strong, if not perfect, read that I would recommend to anyone looking for some interesting historical fiction.

This week, I started reading:

  • The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
  • Death at La Fenice (Commissario Brunetti #1) by Donna Leon (the first of the books recommended by my book-buddy, Hillary)

16 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – April 17, 2022

    1. I’m really enjoying it…and I think I only have nine or so books to go to get caught up before the next one comes out. Sadly (for me), the holds lists for these are long, so I doubt I’ll be able to read them all before the next one comes out.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. We had the opposite here – unseasonably warm weather for Easter, at least for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Today has been much more like normal April weather – cold and rainy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have lived in the Central of California for a number of years, and beginning in 1962, we have had occasional snow. One time during college finals and later, in the 70s. I think there might have been two other times, but the one in the 60s produced the most snow. Still, nothing like what real snow looks like, LOL.

    We are only an hour or two away from actual snow, so when we want to play in it, we can go there.

    Enjoy your week, and your Easter sounds lovely.

    As for witch books, I recently read Bohjalian’s Hour of the Witch, and actually enjoyed it! Otherwise, I am not a fan of witch stories or even historical novels that reveal how bad things were for women!

    Have a great week, and thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I read The Hour of the Witch last summer and really enjoyed it. Bohjalian is an author who almost always works for me, so I’m glad that one fell in the win column.


  3. I posted a snow picture this week too. And it is snowing now – adding to the three inches we got overnight. Unfortunately, this isn’t really unusual for Minnesota in April. Nice assortment of books. I read the first Cork O’Connor and had every intention of reading more but got distracted by something else. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are far more hearty than I am when it comes to weather! Of course, I’ve only been in Minnesota in the summer–and you guys do have nice summers there!


  4. I read Death at La Fenice with my book club last year. I thought it was really good, but I never went on to read more by Donna Leon for some reason. Same with William Kent Krueger, actually. His first Cork O’Connor was a mystery book club read for me years ago, and I always meant to read more of the series.
    Your BritBox subscription makes me envious! I just searched through Netflix for something to watch on my own while lying on the couch sick, but not that sick, and didn’t find anything I wanted to watch.


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About Melinda