Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summer Reading, Part 2 - JULY!

My Series:

The Novels of the Jaren, Kate Elliot:

1. An Earthly Crown (Act 3) - I don't remember what happened that drew me away from reading these books a few months ago, but whatever it was, I was glad that the books were divided into acts so that I had a natural stopping place.  I'm also glad that I didn't wait any longer to get back to it!

Comments for this specific book - I'm not near as crazy about the 'space' portions of the story as I am about the Jaran.  Not that it isn't well-written, etc....it's just that traditional science fiction isn't my sort of thing, and so...eh.  Interesting to add in the theater company.  Theater companies abound in fantasy books, because they can get away with living outside the bonds of a normal culture, and this was well-played even if I didn't care about the characters near as much as the Jaran.

2. His Conquering Sword - A lot of stuff happens, but there's not any specific overarching plot for this portion of the saga.  That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it, or that I found that it lacked focus.  One of Elliott's strong points is that she writes amazing characters, and I feel that she did them justice in this book.  At times I felt that the whole war aspect of the book was annoying to me on a personal level, but I totally understand why this is how the story plays out.

3. The Law of Becoming - Truth.  It was pretty hard to get through this one.  I lost interest a couple of times and had to push myself to go back.  Problems I'd had with HCS were worse here, and I hated the religion and family dysfunction that were added.  We got even farther away from the Jaren, and the parts that were focused on them were often so different that they just didn't feel the same.  Some of her characters began to feel like caricatures, and not real people.  If I had to put a finger on the problem, I'd say that Elliott got too far away from where she'd begun...that or she tried to do much too much with this series.  (I say this, and she's written other big, complicated series that I love.)  In the end, I hate that she also felt the need to break Ilya.  (Reminiscent of Rochester in Jane Eyre...which also annoys me.)  The ending was just too sad, too lost.

While I'm glad I read these books, at the end of the day I'd have probably been happier if I'd never got past the first one.

Bonus Series:

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry:  This was truly a bonus, and was completely unplanned.  My eldest daughter, Gillian, and I spent a lot of time watching movies together while her sister was in Art Camp, and during that time she suggested we watch the adaptation of The Giver.  It was gorgeous.....one of the rare movies that's truly touched my heart.  It's been years and years since I read The Giver, though, and as I'd never read any of the sequels....well, here we are.  I did chose to listen to the audio, which allowed me to multitask while I was knitting.  (It's a great way to sneak in MORE BOOKS!!!)  Altogether, the four books equal to about the same amount of listening time as my average literary audio.

4. The Giver - Perhaps I didn't read it at the right time when I first approached this book.  I honestly don't remember loving it as much as I do now...or appreciating it as much.  It's a beautiful book that asks some really powerful questions, and I think it's a must read.

5. Gathering Blue - Oh goodness, if anyone had told me that this book was centered around fiber arts and embroidery, I would have read it years and years ago!  Gorgeous!

6. Messenger - Hmmm....this may be the weak link.  It's a pretty short book, and while it should have packed a big emotional punch, it felt more like a whimper to me.  Perhaps, though, that's because I saw what was coming from the very beginning.

7. Son - These books are just so darn beautiful.  I almost think they are wasted on the young audience they were intended for.  I cried.  I really did.

Short Story Collection:

8a. From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review: A Lady Trent Story, Maria Brennan - I love Lady Trent, as you know, and was tickled when I discovered this short story.  It's brief, but it's super fun!

8b. Daughter of Necessity, Marie Brennan - Greek myth?  A slightly alternative perspective?  Yes please!

8c. Monstrous Beauty, Marie Brennan - This is actually a slim collection of 7 very brief fairy tales.  I'm really loving Marie Brennan now, and am wondering if I need to go pick up her other books!

9. Unnatural Creatures, Collected by Neil Gaiman - It's a much more lighthearted collection than the Liu book last month, and I have to admit it rather struck me as more whimsical than I generally want.  Big shoulder shrug.  It almost grew wearisome.

The Rest:

10. Mr. Splitfoot, Samantha Hunt - Oh my.  This book wound up on a lot of best of type of lists last year (and I believe it was also a Books on the Nightstand recommendation), so when it showed up on the itunes sale page, I snagged a copy.  I had a lot of hope, and it definitely lived up to my expectations.  This is a deliciously Gothic story, from start to finish, and I loved every single minute of it.  (Not a surprise, Gothic lit. has long been a favorite...I just don't read much anymore that fits that genre because I love the classics so much, and because modern Gothic often leaves me feeling a bit meh.)  I was actually caught off guard by the ending, which is a very pleasant surprise indeed!

11.  His Majesty's Dragon, Naomi Novik - Damn, damn, damn.  My own summer reading rules prohibit me from rushing out and buying books 2-10 in this series, and right now that seems ridiculously unfair, because this book was so darn much fun.  I fell in love with Novik's award winning book Uprooted last summer.  As she was a new to me writer, I quite naturally decided I needed to check out her other books.  I hesitated, though, because of the large number of books in the series...but I did snag this one when it went on sale for just a couple of bucks several months ago in advance of the release of the 10th and final book.  Dragons in the Napoleonic war....it's that, and so much more.  I'm in love, and although I'm being super good and am not rushing out to buy more I really, really want to.  (The library has the final three available on their streaming service in audio...I'm actually hoping that if I wait a while the rest will show up there as well.)

12.  An Altar on the World, Barbara Brown Taylor  - My early morning reading/study book, this was recommended to me by my partner for facilitating my Spec Today class last year.  I'm not sure why it took so very long to get around to it...but then again, sometimes you just happen to read the right book at the right time.  I found myself in tears at some point during every single chapter, and there will be lots of journaling about the ideas presented.  Amazing, and just what I needed right now to help me along my own spiritual path.  I have a feeling I will be reading more of Taylor's work.

No comments: