Friday, January 1, 2016

Mini Reviews: "Still Life" and "This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!"

"Still Life" by Louise Penny
Book 1 in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series
First published in 2006
312 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

I had been meaning to check out Louise Penny for ages, and I finally got to the first book her Inspector Gamache series last month. I was 99 percent sure I would love this pseudo-cozy mystery series set in small-town Quebec and, sure enough, I'm now hooked and can't wait to get my hands on book two!

Three Pines is a quaint and quiet little village with a minuscule crime rate -- until elderly and beloved Jane Neal is found dead of an arrow wound in the woods. Chief Inspector Gamache of the Surete du Quebec lands the case and he won't be satisfied until he uncovers the murderer hiding in plain sight in the charming and friendly hamlet.

While I was definitely engrossed in the mystery, one of my favorite things about the book was the extremely likable Inspector Gamache himself. He's not quite your typical hard-nose detective. He's a bit fanciful, he stands up for his beliefs no matter what, he's clever, creative and he has nothing against out-of-the-box methods.

I loved Gamache, I was intrigued by the case and I enjoyed Penny's writing. As I suspected, the Inspector Gamache books are quite likely to become one of my favorite series and I'm hoping to read many more of the (currently 11) books in 2016!

"This is You Life, Harriet Chance!" by Jonathan Evison
First published in 2015
294 pages
My rating: 4 out of 5

All I really knew about this novel when I picked it up is that it involved an elderly lady and an Alaskan cruise. Visiting Alaska (or living there!) is on my bucket list, so I'm intrigued by all things related to the state.

There is indeed an Alaskan cruise in the story, a getaway purchased by 78-year-old Harriet's late husband shortly before his death, that Harriet decides on a whim to take -- armed with a Greek yogurt container filled with her husband's ashes.

But there's a lot more going on here too. Every chapter from present-day is interspersed with a chapter from Harriet's life story, ranging from her birth to
her 78th year. It turns out that spunky and slightly befuddled Harriet has led a long life full of joys, struggles and many, many disappointments.

Overall "Harriet" is a lighthearted read with a quirky and jocular writing style. But the witty and fun wrapping paper is covering some serious issues -- self-confidence, motherhood, family, forgiveness, betrayal and what happens when the life you always intended to live goes off the rails. Short, sweet and stirring, the story of Mrs. Harriet Chance and her life is worth a read.

1 comment:

  1. I still haven't read the first book in Louise Penny's series, but the one book I did read I loved. I really need to start at the beginning. I'm glad you liked it! I've been hearing good things about Evison's book and am glad to hear you liked it too. Both of these are books I want to read.


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