What Are Gentle Reads?

When you walk into a bookstore, what do you see?

You will likely see carefully curated displays stocked with the latest releases, colourful stacks of stationery ready to archive your thoughts, diligent sales people keen on providing assistance, bold signs to guide your path, and perhaps even perfect goodies placed in spotless glass cases in the adjoining coffee shop.

What you will not see, however, is a giant flashing sign shouting the words “GENTLE READS HERE.”

What Are Gentle Reads?

Often, gentle reads are discussed by what they are not. They are not explicit, violent, or crude; nor do they contain any content designed to intentionally shock the reader. Gentle reads are not considered a genre of their own, but rather a broader category that overlaps/overlapping with several well-defined genres. Gentle reads are not synonymous with inspirational or Christian fiction, though some books may share characteristics of both.

Needless to say, all of this talk about what gentle reads are not leaves us wondering–just what are gentle reads?

What Gentle Reads Are

Simply put, gentle reads are feel-good stories told from hopeful, soothing perspectives that take the reader back to simpler times. Sometimes these stories are referred to as “clean” reads.

Of course, what is considered gentle, too gentle, or not gentle enough varies from reader to reader. Therefore, there is no accepted singular definition of what gentle reads are.

Gentle reads are found across a variety of genres including romance, historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, and more! Since these stories are highly diverse–and scattered throughout the book store–they are more difficult for readers (and librarians) to find.

Despite the broad range of authors and stories that fall under the “GR Umbrella,” there are a number of key characteristics (some more negotiable than others) that are found among gentle reads of all kinds.

Woman standing on rice field during cloudy day
Gentle reads are often set in small rural communities.

Identify Gentle Reads By:

  • No explicit profanity, violence, or sex
  • Likeable, relatable characters
  • Leisurely plot pace
  • Small, close-knit, or rural communities
  • Straightforward story lines

So, what are gentle reads? Gentle reads can be many things to many people. To me, gentle reads are an opportunity to explore books beyond our comfort zones without the threat of discomfort or shock.

While gentle reads for adults are sometimes difficult to find and even more difficult to define, my goal is to use this blog to help readers find their next gentle read among the weeds.

 

The 12 Days of Cozmas | TBR

A Cozy, “Christmassy” Read-a-Thon

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

The 12 Days of Cozmas is a cozy-centric read-a-thon created by Booktubers, Robyn (The Driftless Reader) and Courtny (@Courtagonist). This year Angela (@writerahart) is joining in on the fun as a host. The 12 Days of Cozmas will run from Saturday, December 1 to Wednesday, December 12, 2018.

The 12 Days of Cozmas is centered around all things cozy, comforting, sweet, and more! The read-a-thon hosts have arranged a whole host of activities including photo challenges, reading sprints, shared reading, and others to get you in the holiday spirit.

While the 12 Days of Cozmas originated with the cozy mystery genre, readers who enjoy more wholesome, gentle reads may also be interested in joining in. That isn’t to say however, that readers are limited in their selection. It’s a read-a-thon–choose what you want to read and have fun!

Details regarding the 12 Days of Cozmas and all corresponding activities can be found across social media:

Twitter: @12daysofcozmas

Instagram: @12daysofcozmas

YouTube: Courtagonist, The Driftless Reader, and Books Are My Hart

What I Plan on Reading

The 12 Days of Cozmas includes twelve unique challenges to help guide readers in their selections. After a considerable amount of planning (there are just so many cozies waiting to be read!), I settled on the following 5 books to read over the course of the twelve-day event.

 

Candy Cane Murder

Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine, and Leslie Meier

Candy Cane Murder is the group book selection featuring three novella-length mysteries by best-selling authors–Fluke, Levine, and Meier. 

This collection of stories meets challenges:

Sweets for Santa: Read a book with baking or recipes in it. Recreate a recipe (or purchase one) from the story.

I believe that each of the stories in this collection feature some sort of baked good, and there are several recipes throughout the text.

Feliz Navidad: Read a book featuring diverse characters and/or situations.

Admittedly, I may be stretching this challenge but I’m considering this title to feature diverse situations, as there are three distinct stories, characters, and authors.

Dashing Through the Snow

Debbie Macomber

Dashing Through the Snow is a holiday romance promising to deliver warmth, humour, love, and a dash of adventure. Two strangers–Ashley and Dashiell–decide to share a rental car to travel from California to Seattle in time for Christmas and unexpectedly discover a romantic spark lingering between them.

Dashing Through the Snow meets:

Mistletoe & Holly: Read a book that features a romantic relationship.

Done! Macomber’s holiday novel is a “trapped in the same space” romance novel.

Jingle Bells: Read a book that features a lot of travelling.

Considering that this challenge and the title of Macomber’s novel stem from the same carol, this challenge is covered! Also, the premise of the story is the pair travelling together. #Win.

Frosty the Snowman: Read a book with an amazing sidekick/ pet/ friend

The blurb tells me that Ashley and Dash will rescue an abandoned puppy…awwww!

Joy to the World: Recommend a book that would brighten someone’s day.

While I have yet to read the story, Macomber is a big-name author in the gentle reads category. I have a feeling that this one will be a “sure bet” for readers who enjoy wholesome and heart-warming stories.

Mistletoe Murder

Leslie Meier

First in the Lucy Stone series, Mistletoe Murder (1991) kicks off one of the longest-running cozy mystery series published to date. Meier’s amateur sleuth has been baking and uncovering small-town secrets for over 27 years (IRL). This is a series with serious staying power that I cannot wait to curl up with.

Challenges:

The First Noel: Beginning of a new adventure (i.e. read the first book in a series)

Check!

The Little Match Girl

Hans Christian Andersen

Challenges:

White Christmas: Read a winter-y, Christmas classic

Although I am familiar with Andersen’s sobering holiday tale, I have never read the original (translated) text. This may be a quick read, though I expect to be lost in hours of reflection afterward.

Rudolph: Read a book with a character that is considered an outcast.

Will no one stop to buy a match? Poor, poor little match girl.

In Peppermint Peril

Joy Avon

First in the A Tea and a Read Mystery series, In Peppermint Peril a book-themed tea party organizer faces threefold trouble leading up to Christmas Eve in small-town, Heart’s Harbour, Maine.

Challenges:

Deck the Halls: Read a book that features some amazing holiday themes and/or settings.

The title and cover say it all! I’m anticipating that this title will be ultra-cozy, as it involves holidays, cuddly cozy companions, tea, and reading!

Snowed In: Read a book that takes place during the winter time or with snow.

If a holiday-themed cozy set in Maine during the lead-up to Christmas Eve doesn’t check off this challenge, I don’t know what will!

Here Comes Santa Claus: Read a book that you have been waiting to read for a long time.

I received this title as an advanced e-galley from NetGalley, but it has been in my queue for longer than I care to admit. In Peppermint Peril was recently published on November 13, 2018.

 

Are you participating in the 12 Days of Cozmas? Let me know what you’ll be reading, or leave a link to your own TBR posts, videos, etc.

Happy Holidays, Happy Reading!

Backlist Books I Want to Read | Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week presents a theme around which bloggers create unique lists to bring bookish friends together. This Tuesday the theme is Backlist Books.”

In the interest of keeping my list succinct, I have set up parameters and boundaries for this latest TTT:

1. Titles must be “stand alones,” as I am invested in far too many series.

2. Titles considered “classics” will not be included, for I aim to read a great number of these over the coming years.

3. Selected titles must be available from my personal collection or public library.

10 Backlist Titles I STILL Haven’t Read

 

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fineby Gail Honeyman

A Woman of Noteby Carol Cram

The Time Traveler’s Wifeby Audrey Niffenegger

Ready Player Oneby Ernest Cline

The Bells, by Richard Harvell

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

The Virgin Cureby Ami McKay

The Break, by Katherena Vermette

Bear Townby Fredrik Backman

 

Where should I start? Or, are any of these also on your backlist TBR?

 

Comment below to let me know what you’re reading!

October in Review | Monthly Wrap-Up

October went out as quickly as it began.

The past month was a blur as many exciting personal and professional events unfolded. Similarly, I found myself reading constantly without feeling really captivated or rooted in the story, but rather rushing by and picking up what I could along the way.

All of this isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the books I read this month, though I would have liked to have spent more time with certain characters or mulling over twisty plot points.

Reading Habits in October

I read a grand total of 6 books in October! Of these, there were 4 audio books, 1 eBook, and 1 good ol’ fashioned print book.

Stepping back to consider how I was reading, it is no wonder that I felt disconnected from what I was reading. I love audio books and I usually listen to them during otherwise “free” time. (Driving, walking, cleaning, washing dishes etc.)

The majority of my monthly reading was largely secondary to something else that I was engaged with.

Moving forward, my reading goal for November is less about the number of books that I can read, and more about bringing mindfulness to my reading life. Perhaps slowing down and taking more time to invest in characters and nuances throughout fewer books is something to consider. Additionally, I feel like the chilly November nights would pair well with some lengthy Victorian novels.

What I Read in October

The six books that I read in October include

  1. Marigolds for Malice, by Bailey Cattrell (Enchanted Garden Mystery #3)
  2. The Pint of No Returnby Ellie Alexander (Sloan Krause Mystery #2)
  3. Goodbye Cruller Worldby Ginger Bolton (Deputy Donut Mystery #2)
  4. Horrorstorby Grady Hendrix
  5. A Potion to Die Forby Heather Blake (Magic Potion Mystery #1)
  6. Marigolds and Murderby London Lovett (Port Danby Mystery #1)

What was new or notable about your own reading life in October?

Leave a comment below or shoot me a tweet @madhattedreader!

Review: The Pint of No Return (Sloan Krause Mysteries #2)

In the town of Leavenworth, WA, there is a lot more brewing than just award-winning beer…

 

ponr_ea
Macmillan Publishers. Accessed October, 2018.
Title: The Pint of No Return
Author: Ellie Alexander
Series: Sloan Krause Mysteries, #2
Publisher: New York: Minotaur Books, 2018
Pages: 320 pp

 

Book Review

Prost! Oktoberfest is in full-swing in the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth, and local craft brewer Sloan Krause must contend with her fair share of challenges that have been brewing lately.

A Hollywood film crew is on location to produce a documentary, Wish You Were Beer, about the behind-scenes of the craft-beer industry. Soon after their arrival however, Sloan discovers the outspoken, egocentric host and former child-star, Mitchell Morgan, dead in the streets of Leavenworth.

Once again, Sloan takes on the role of amateur sleuth (Death on Tap, 2017) to aid the local police department in revealing Mitchell Morgan’s killer.

In addition to an ongoing investigation, Sloan grapples with burgeoning feelings for her new boss, the ever-deepening mystery surrounding her birth parents, and keeping her ex-husband’s fingers off the company cheque book.

Second in the Sloan Krause Mysteries series, The Pint of No Return leisurely guides readers through the charming town of Leavenworth while weaving richly detailed information about the craft beer industry into the story. It is fitting that the author successfully creates a strong sense of place, as feelings of belonging and the importance of family pervade the story.

 

Recommendations

I would recommend Ellie Alexander’s The Pint of No Return to readers looking for an autumn-themed story this season. While I highly recommend reading the series in succession, this is not mandatory to understand and enjoy the quirky, fully-realized world portrayed throughout the story.

While trying to create a new start for herself an teenage son, Alex, Sloan is a likable character who demonstrates boundless creativity and ingenuity regarding brewing. Sloan has a true nose for the business and readers who enjoy strong female protagonists will enjoy spending time with such a strong, yet vulnerable, woman.

Note: I received an electronic copy from Netgalley in exchange for feedback to the publisher.

Friday Reads | June 22, 2018

fridayreads_pink

Happy Friday!

What a week it has been! In addition to (attempting) to keep up with my ever-growing TBR, this past week marked my graduation with a Masters in Library & Information Science degree. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in library school–yes, right up to the teeth-grinding and hair-pulling bitter end–and I am excited to continue to learn and grow in the profession.

What I am currently reading:

griffo_moml

Title: Murder on Memory Lake

Author: J.D. Griffo

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Format: E-book (~304 pp.)

Genre: cozy mystery

I received an e-galley edition of Griffo’s Murder on Memory Lake via Netgalley in exchange for sharing honest feedback with the publisher. I am coming up on the end of this engrossing mystery, which I will certainly be reviewing closer to its’ release date!

I was initially drawn to Murder on Memory Lake because the protagonist, Alberta Scaglione, is a widowed Italian woman in her “golden years.” The cozy genre is chalk-filled with twenty-somethings and women experiencing significant mid-life change, but curiously devoid of older women sleuths. 

Alberta inherits a beautiful house poised on Memory Lake in Tranquility, New Jersey upon the death of her fiesty–and secretly ,seriously wealthy–aunt. Unfortunately, Tranquility is anything but! Alberta’s lifelong frenemy surfaces (literally!) one morning and Alberta is pulled into a murder investigation by her grandaughter, Jinx, who is an early-career journalist eager to prove her worth on a more serious beat.

Alberta’s motivation for investigating the death of her former competitor is fueled by a desire to grow closer to her granddaughter, whom she has not seen in years due to a familial falling out with her own daughter. Murder on Memory Lake contains a cast of quirky characters including a former Wall street employee with her ear to the ground and an ex-nun–who just happens to be Alberta’s sister.

So far, Griffo’s Murder on Memory Lake is an enticing puzzle featuring a cast of lovable characters with strong female relationships…and gluten-free “pasta.” This is such a fun read, and I hope to be completing it today!


What are you reading this #FridayReads?


 

Review: Mayhem at the Orient Express

“At a local Chinese restaurant, it’s the owner who gets taken out…”

 

15810915Title: Mayhem at the Orient Express

Series: A League of Literary Ladies Mystery #1

Author: Kylie Logan

Publication: Berkley, 2013

Pages:  304 (Mass Market Paperback)

 

 

 

In the first installment of the League of Literary Ladies mysteries, ex-Manhattanite Bea Cartwright moves to a small town on South Bass Island, Ohio with the hopes of running a successful bed and breakfast in a “monstrosity” of a Victorian mansion. Unfortunately, not all locals are as excited about the venture as Bea, and the band of squabbling ladies are judge-ordered to form a book club to secure funding for the struggling library.

 

Soon after, the ladies discover a local restaurateur murdered in his shop. An unexpected snow storm isolates island residents from the mainland, and Bea begins to suspect that one of her guests may very well be the killer! Using their combined little grey cells, the ladies are determined to unveil the killer–before anyone else checks out…


An intriguing, locked-room mystery that will keep even the most avid Agatha Christie fans guessing. The multi-layered mystery and cast of quirky characters make Mayhem at the Orient Express a stand-out cozy mystery.