1. A Conjuring of Light, V.E Schwab -That loud squealing you heard at the end of February was my excitement when this book showed up in my inbox! It's the final book in one of the most amazing trilogies I've come across in a really long time, and I'm happy to say that it more than lived up to the awesomeness that was the first two books. (And as a reading experience, this more than made up for the dissapointment in the Tearling books) Schwab is a gifted writer who's managed to craft a series that's well balanced with strong world building, characters, plot, and action, which makes for an excellent read. If I had to pick one thing that I love the most, though, I would have to say that I absolutely adore the characters that she's created. They are all complex, interesting, flawed, and uniquely themselves...no cardboard characters here. Pretty spectacular. May need to buy this series in hardback...it's that good!
2. A Shadow In Summer, Daniel Abraham - This is the first of a quartet that a friend of mine recommended a while back. It also happens to be in the essential reading list on the iTunes fantasy page, so I decided to try it out. So it's good, and very well written, but I'm not sure I fell in love with it enough to read the next three books in the series. It didn't bode well that I put it down for a week and almost forgot to finish it. Wish I could put my finger on what the problem is. It's not exactly that anything is wrong with it so much as that it just didn't capture my interest.
3. Gather Her Round, Alex Bledsoe - The newest of the Tufa novels, released just this month, and I'm happy to say that Bledsoe is back in form! At this point these characters feel like old friends, and so I have high expectations about how they are treated in the books. If you haven't read them, I wouldn't start here. It's not that it wouldn't work as a stand alone...it's just that the series deserves to be started from the beginning. This is what a truly unique, American fairy tale looks like.
4. The Stranger In The Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, Michael Finkel (audio) - I'd seen this listed in the new books section on several sights, and was intrigued. I snapped it up when I found it available immediately through the library. Excellent book, intriguing subject, loved the way he handled it....telling the story with occasional philisophic breaks. Two thumbs up from this wanna be hermit! (Seriously, though, crazy!)
5. Shockaholic, Carrie Fisher (audio) - Yep, I enjoyed The Princess Diarist that much. It's just a treat to listen to Fisher read her own books! Not much else to say about it though...
6. Who Fears Death, Nnedi Okorafor - I found Okorafor in a Neil Gaiman edited anthology, and picked up this award nominated book as part of my birthday binge. I was blown away by this book. It's beautiful, and mythic, and hard to read because you care about the characters so very much and you know bad stuff is going to happen. I loved the ending more than I can possibly say. I loved what it had to say about gender and power. I loved reading a book in which a beautifully well-rounded woman drives the entire story. Now, I must read everything Okorafor has ever read.
7. Luka and the Fire of Life, Salman Rushdie - I have tickets to see Rushdie at a local book festival next month, and it's been rather a bit of a question as to whether or not I should actually go given that I hadn't read any of his work before. Problem was, I didn't have much interest in reading any of his books. I dutifully checked them all out from the library...and then ignored them. After an intersting conversation on FB on the subject, I tried listening to Rushdie's memoir...but, charming as it was, I had trouble working up interest for a 27 hour book about someone I hadn't read. Then this book showed up...the last of the available digital books, finally available. And my oh my, I fell in love. I adore fairy tales and whimsy, but it's hard to do right and too often it comes across as being too precious. This was just perfect.
8. Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman (audio) - Because really, is there anything better than Gaiman reading his own work? It reads like a child's mythology book, and I loved every minute even as I understand the criticism that's coming from some quarters that it's not scholarly enough. This is a realm of myth that I'm not so familiar with, so it's all good to me!
Some Shorter Stuff, with a note:
My life changed pretty dramatically this month, as I went back to work full-time after 14 years as a Stay At Home Mom. I stumbled upon the following short stories and novellas while browsing iTunes the week before my job started, and felt like they would be a great way to incorporate some reading once my reading time became more limited. Plus, I just didn't have the attention span for a lot of long books this month.
9. For Want of a Nail, Mary Robinette Kowel (short story) - I'm not typically in to Science Fiction, but this story won the Hugo in 2011, and I was curious, given how much I enjoyed Kowel's Glamourist Histories. What I found was a curious story that posed more questions than it answered, which is what I think great Science Fiction is supposed to do.
10. Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day, Seanan McGuire (novella) - McGuire is extremely prolific - as in 'i kind of don't know how she manages to produce so many books.' Fortunately, she also happens to be an extremely good writer. This book is a ghost story, and it just so happens to be the sort of ghost story that I like best. In fact, I cried buckets at the end. In terms of her other work, this is more like McGuire's Every Heart a Doorway than her October Daye series...beautifully written, deeply emotional, speaking to the heart.
11. A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (novella) - This novella grabbed my attention because N.K. Jemisin had given it a blurb. It's a love story with an ending I didn't see coming...an ending that made me cry buckets. Totally worth it.
12. The Escapement of Blackledge, Mary Robinette Kowel (novella) - This snagged my attention because it was tagged as being for fans of Kowel's Glamourist Histories, which I most certainly am. In a word....fun! and hot! oh my!
13. Cold-Forged Flame, Marie Brennan (novella) - meh, which surprised me. I expected more because Brennan is so much fun in her Lady Trent works. Makes me question whether or not I want to try her other series.
And a note: No unfinished books this month. Whoops!