Tag Archives: Mary Stewart

2019 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 6 (Mary Stewart!)

Some authors woo you slowly. Erudite and witty, you don’t fall at first glance, but you eventually come to love them. Other authors never quite win you. The spark should be there but no matter how many of their books you read, it never becomes more. More rarely, but infinitely precious for it, you fall for an author at first glance and, more marvelously still, stay in love with them past the cover or the opening line.

That would be me and Mary Stewart. It was love at first read and 9 books later, I am still obsessed. 7 of her books got 5-stars from me, the remaining 2 got 4-stars. I decided the five-stars deserved their own blog post. Two caveats: Mary Stewart is mostly known for her Arthurian fantasies. I have not read those yet. I have only read her romantic suspense novels. Second, she writes romantic suspense novels primarily aimed at women. They lack mystery, but they make up for it with awesome, Gothic atmosphere and kick-butt females. So, if you read her books, don’t go in expecting a whodunit. 

That said…I present my favorite books from my favorite ‘new’ author! (But also not so new as she wrote these mainly in the 1950s and ’60s.)

 Madam, Will You Talk? 

WW2 widow Charity Selborne decides to take a leisurely vacation in France to pull the pieces of her broken life back together. When she arrives at her hotel, she befriends a terrified boy on the run from his enigmatic, possibly murderous father. The book is full of eerie settings and long, descriptive passages. Character pause constantly to drink cognac or smoke cigarettes. Yet despite the slow, descriptive nature of the book, it is also an adventure novel and abounds with murderers, neo-Nazis, and exciting car chases. And best of all, you can listen to a brilliant audio version for free on YouTube.

This Rough Magic

When failed actress Lucy Waring agrees to join her sister for a vacation on Corfu, the last thing she expects is to get entangled with murder. Complete with communists, scenic beaches, and loads of Shakespeare quotes, this is probably my favorite Mary Stewart novel.

The Ivy Tree

While on vacation in England, Mary Gray gets accosted by a gentleman who says she looks just like his cousin, Annabel Winslow. Annabel disappeared years ago but her grandfather still refuses to leave his wealthy farm to anyone but her. He asks Mary to pretend to be Annabel and convince their grandfather to leave the farm to him instead. But mystery surrounds Annabel’s disappearance and Mary quickly realizes she might be in over her head.

Nine Coaches Waiting

When Linda Martin first accepts a position as an English-speaking governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, she assumes her ability to speak French won’t matter. But she quickly learns that the Count’s French guardians intentionally advertised for an English speaker and that more is going on than meets the eye. When her young charge nearly dies, she decides it is up to her to save the day.

Airs Above the Ground

Vanessa March quarreled with her husband and now feels dreadful about it. But he’s off on a business trip in Stockholm so there is no use fretting to death…until she sees him in the background of a newsreel at a fire in Austria clutching a very pretty girl. Then all bets are off. And if she happens to get embroiled in the mystery of who set the fire while tracking down her missing husband? Well, that’s just a bonus. 

The Moon-Spinners

Nicola Ferris, secretary at the British Embassy on Crete, decides to take a walking holiday and further explore the beautiful island. But things quickly go awry when she stumbles upon a severely injured man in an abandoned shepherd’s cottage and learns there may be more to the nearby village than meets the eye. 

Touch Not the Cat

Bryony Ashley of Ashley Court has a secret. For as long as she can remember, she has shared a psychic bond with one of her cousins. The problem is, she doesn’t know which one. When her Father dies and leaves her a cryptic warning, she hurries home to find out once and for all who her mysterious ‘lover’ is and what dark secret Ashley Court holds. I particularly enjoyed this one because the whole ‘psychic bond with a stranger’ plot reminded me of Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan which was one of my favorite reads of 2016. 

 

 

(Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BETHANY!!!! ❤ )


2019 Reading Challenge

I read a lot of books last year! 319, to be exact. Over the next two weeks, this blog is going to be all books all the time as I review the best–and worst–reads of 2019. I have posted my favorite and least favorite reads for six years now, but this year broke a lot of records. So, to help make it more manageable, tomorrow I will post a schedule with what to expect over the next few days. 

Until then, here is a recap of my year!

My 2019 Reading Stats

319 books spanning 91,483 pages. Of the 319, 58 were re-reads

Average rating: 3.3 stars.

Average Book Length: 286 pages.

To Read List: Jumped from 901 to 979. Whoops.

My Favorite Book This Year: Probably Sanditon by Jane Austen and Anne Telscombe but I will have an entire post listing my favorites. 

Most disappointing book: The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich 

Best Re-Read: Either Bargain Bride by Evelyn Sibley Lampman or The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis 

Most Read Author: Georgette Heyer (27 different books!)

Best New-To-Me Author: Mary Stewart   

Best Middle School Read: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Longest Read: Understanding Immigration Law and Practice by Ayodele Gansallo at 736 pages (and yes, it is a textbook, but I read it!)

Shortest Read: On Fairy-Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien at a whopping 27 pages

Most Popular Read: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (a re-read) 

Least Popular Read: Mae Om Ki: The Life of the Forest and Ideals of the Justice System by Laofang Bundidterdsakul (I will never again complain when people misspell my last name.)


Whatcha Reading…? 9/20/2019 Book Update

If I cannot tackle a book in one evening, I will probably start another. Hence why I occasionally like putting together these “Whatcha Reading…?” posts. It helps me keep track of everything I’ve got going! Currently I’m reading 6 books: King Lear by William Shakespeare (technically a play but whatever), The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen, My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart, and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. 

I was inspired to pick up King Lear after finishing Hamlet. For some reason, I marked it to-read in high school along with As You Like It (and only those two. No other play made the cut on Goodreads!) I’m enjoying it so far but not as much as Hamlet

The Cost of Discipleship, meanwhile, is one of those books I feel like I am eternally reading. I’ve been at it for almost 2.5 years now. It isn’t bad, quite the opposite. I find it so profound that if I read more than a chapter a day I feel like I am missing something. So I read a chapter one day, forget about it the next, and read another chapter a month later when I stumble upon my copy again. And then forget about it the next day. Slow and steady, I guess. 

Wicked Fox is, in theory, a Korean drama lovers dream. It involves Korean mythology and modern day Seoul. But I won’t lie, I’m finding it super disappointing so far. The author does a lot of telling but not a lot of showing. Characters are profoundly psychological in ways that feel at odd with their age. And by golly, I’m over a 100 pages in and nothing is happening. I am not sure I will make it through all 424 pages. 

On the flip side, I’m finding Only Ever Her surprisingly enjoyable. I heard about it on a blog I follow and picked it up on a whim. It is supposed to be a thriller but so far I haven’t found anything that scary. Just good character build-up. The first person present narrative style does get a little annoying but I’m hooked. 

I’ve fallen hard for Mary Stewart’s novels so there was no way I wasn’t going to like My Brother Michael. I’m not very far into it but I can already tell I am going to love it. Be warned: her books are going to overwhelm my end of the year 5 star reads blog post. 

Out of all the books I’m currently listing, however, A Curse So Dark And Lonely has taken me the most by surprise. It presents yet another Beauty and the Beast retelling and I’ve read enough of those to last me a lifetime. But so far, this one is really, really good. It hits the right note of familiar fairytale while simultaneously presenting enough ‘new’ to keep the reader hooked. I hope it can keep it up.