Monday, February 29, 2016

February Books

My pile of purchased and unread books - both in print and digital - has gotten a tad out of hand, so I'll be working over the next couple of months to read down that pile. 

1.  The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver - I decided to start cleaning up my to-read piles this month, both on the shelves and in my ipad.  I bought this one on sale through ibooks quite some time ago, and while I like Kingsolver she's not my normal cup of tea so it's gone unread for quite some time.  I really enjoyed it, but truth be told it didn't make much of a dent.  For me it was a pretty fast/easy/lighthearted read for all that it touches on some pretty deep subjects.  Ultimately, and I hate to admit it, it was pretty forgettable, though. 

2.  Six-Gun Snow White, Catherynne M. Valente - I'm not entirely sure why I bought this, other than because it was on the sale page.  I've shared before that I've had Valente fatigue, much as I admire her for what she's done.  This book, though....this was something else, and that something was pretty darn amazing.  It's a Wild West version of Snow White, and it's both achingly beautiful and pitch perfect.  (Truthfully, it reminded me of Susan Lowell's delightful children's books, which are southwestern versions of classic tales.  My husband's aunt lives in AZ, and she sent us many of the Lowell books when our girls were small.  Dustylocks was a great favorite!)  I kind of felt like the ending was a bit weak, but I'll forgive it because the rest was so good.  I'm a sucker for a good fairy tale, and reworkings of the classics have always been dear to my heart. 

3.  Six Months, Three Days, Charlie Jane Anders (short story) - I wanted to read more from Anders, so I picked up this short story.  I've got to say, the idea that the story based on was truly, truly original, and while it wasn't a story I particularly *enjoyed* it did give me a whole lot to think about.  (Incidentally, just the day before I read it I'd listened to an interview with one of the writers from the X-Files, and one of the subjects they talked about was very close indeed to the subject of this story  Fascinating!)

4.  Court of Fives, Kate Elliott - I adore Elliott, and so I quite naturally snapped this up - her newest book, and her first attempt at YA.  I most certainly enjoyed reading it, devouring it in 24 hours in a binge reading haze....but I'm not 100% sure how I feel about it.  Loved the idea, loved the characters.  Elliott specializes in feisty female leads, and Jess was wonderful as expected.  Maybe it's just that I love her *regular* novels so much, which made this feel a bit washed thin in comparison.  Maybe it's that there are other writers out there (ahem, Leigh Bardugo) who have done such a brilliant job with YA fantasy that everyone else pales in comparison.  Not quite sure what my problem is, but something was a tad off from a normal Elliott reading experience.  Nevertheless, I immediately went and preordered the next in the series!

5.  Carry On, Rainbow Rowell (audio) - Much was made about Lev Grossman's The Magicians trilogy...a so-called grown-up/more realistic take on the Harry Potter/Narnia books.  (and by realistic, I mean that the characters act like real, totally screwed up teens/young adults)  I enjoyed them, but I found them hard to relate to and wasn't quite so enamoured of Grossman as the rest of the world is.  All that to say that I had some reservations about trying Rowell's book, which I knew was also a riff on the "Chosen One" theme that permeates fantasy.  Silly me, Carry On was pretty darn amazing.  It's very much a take on Harry Potter, and it calls out all of the things that maybe niggle in the back of the head.

6.  Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art, Christopher Moore - This was a gift from a friend, which I received well over a year ago.  I'm rather embarrassed I hadn't read it until now because that particular friend is an amazing person who tends to like the same sort of books I like.  I have a hard time describing this book, other than to say that I adored it because it included all of my favorite artists as characters and was generous about including some of their art, which was woven into the storyline.  It was a lot of fun to read!

7.  Rose of Fire, Carlos Ruiz Zafron (short story) - Truth.  I bought Zafon's Shadow of the Wind on the advice of a trusted book friend...and I've never read it.  Can't seem to get past the first chapter, for whatever reason.  Why I then bought this short story and a sequel...just because they were on sale?  Who the heck knows!  This short story was absolutely lovely, so I need to try again. 

Truth Time:  I spent a lot of time this month finishing up books that I'd left undone for whatever reason.  Sooooo....they are listed in other months, and I'm not going to move them around, but I will make a few additional comments. 

1.  All the Birds In the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders - I just listed this last month, but wound up not having the time I expected over the last couple of days of the month to finish it.  It's an amazing book, and is definitely on my list for the best of 2016.  I've been recommending it to everyone. 

2.  Tower of Thorns, Juliet Marillier - Truth be told, I didn't finish this book back when the preorder for it arrived because I was rather disappointed by it.  That was weird because I generally love Marillier.  I finished the second half of the book, and I'm quite happy to say that it not only returned to form, but that there were sections that were quite frankly amazing.  Will I get the next one in the series?  Probably...but maybe not immediately upon release. 

3.  Welcome to Night Vale, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Craner - Just as the podcast needs to be digested in smaller chunks, so does the book.  I still love it, but a little goes a long way sometimes.  I found it in audio format through my library, and as I was out of stuff to listen to I went ahead and borrowed it so that I could finish the book a bit quicker.  Honestly, this stuff is more fun to listen to than to read. I'm not sure the book was either necessary or a good idea. 
 
4.  The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin - It's better if you wait until the entire series is released, which is part of why I'd set this aside after my initial review.  Plus, Jemisin's one great flaw is that her writing is so literary and her universes are so unique that it can be difficult to really settle into them.  I find that when I start a new series with her it takes half of the first book to really get attached and start enjoying my reading.  In a lesser author, I wouldn't bother to push past that initial phase.  With Jemisin, it's totally worth it.  Not ashamed to admit I was sobbing by the end. 

1 comment:

Karen said...

Always enjoy reading your book reviews. I agree with you on Grossman's Magicians. I didn't like ANY of the characters even a little bit. I finished it, but I'm not planning to read the rest of the trilogy. I will add Carry On to my TBR list, on your recommendation.