January reading list

The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf by Gerald Morris: A re-read. Love these books, especially this one. A re-telling of Arthurian legend, complete with dwarves, enchantresses, the Seelie Court, and hidden identities. Oh, and some great lines. “You’ve clefted my dinner!”

Friday’s Child
The Black Sheep
Devil’s Cub
Venetia (twice)
Bath Tangle
The Grand Sophy
Charity Girl
The Quiet Gentleman
by Georgette Heyer: Okay, so I’ve been reading a lot of Georgette Heyer for awhile now. Quick run-down: Loved Devil’s Cub, Venetia, The Grand Sophy. Was so-so on the others. The Black Sheep and The Quiet Gentleman were okay, just not amazing.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: This was the first book in a long time, maybe ever, that made me scared to get into bed at night. (I used to get scared by Agatha Christie adaptations and be afraid that someone would poison me while I slept. Yeah, I know, logic was not a strong point.) Anyway, back to the book. Basically I thought it was fabulous, a weaving of history and legend and flat-out fantasy. All in all, I thought Kostova did a marvelous job of evoking the different countries, many of them unfamiliar to most western readers. I personally had a little more familiarity with the places since most of them are Orthodox. Rila Monastery, for instance. And I realized that I’ve had the salty cheese pastry she talks about at a couple of points. It’s a story of love and loss and quite fascinating. There were a few moments when I could tell she was writing from outside the culture but these were minor.

Death in a White Tie
Grave Secret
Enter a Murderer
Night at the Vulcan
Killer Dolphin
Death of a Peer
by Ngaio Marsh: I’d taken a long break from Ngaio Marsh but was glad to discover that I love Rory Alleyn just as much as ever. Seriously, he’s up there with Peter Wimsey. *swoons* Oh yes, and the mysteries are pretty good too. 😉 I really enjoy Death in a White Tie, Night at the Vulcan, and Death of a Peer. Enter a Murderer is early Marsh, and you can tell.

Deep Secret (twice)
Charmed Life
The Lives of Christopher Chant
The Merlin Conspiracy
by Diana Wynne Jones: So, I could have (and should have) written a whole post on Deep Secret because I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Maybe not quite as much as Howl, which is probably the epitome of Diana Wynne Jones. But Deep Secret…man, I love that book. Hence reading it twice. In one month. Basically Rupert Venables is amazing. And all the other characters are too, but I can’t say much more for fear of ruining it. The Merlin Conspiracy follows one of the main characters (Nick) from Deep Secret. READ IT SECOND. There are huge whacking great spoilers for D.S. all over the place. I loved it too, but I really wanted Rupert and *mumbledy mum because of spoilers* to be in it and they weren’t. Not even mentioned. Sigh. This was strange on one level but made sense on another because Nick is just about the most conceited being in the universe and it’s a bit out of sight out of mind with him. Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant, being my favorites of the Chrestomanci series (although The Pinhoe Egg is lovely too), were also amazing.

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck: LOVE this book. It’s a sequel to A Long Way From Chicago, which is also nice. But A Year Down Yonder…I can’t even tell you. It’s the story of Mary Alice who has to go live with her crazy Grandma Dowdell during the Depression. It’s funny, tender, tragic, and realistically awkward, all at the same time.

Skin Deep by E.M. Crane: A shy, lonely girl accidentally winds up helping a local eccentric and in so doing gains a new perspective on herself and the people around her. Put like that it sounds kind of hokey, but this was a good book. While Hyacinth is definitely an earth-mother type, she has the lifestyle to back it up, so I didn’t mind that aspect. There’s a little hint of romance for Andrea but it never is explicitly stated and it certainly doesn’t take over the novel. I enjoyed this and I’d recommend it, but it didn’t blow me away.

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute: A friend recommended this to me. Actually, when she learned I’d never read it, she ran out of the room, returned with it, and stuffed it into my hands. A story of romance during and just after World War II although it was set in Malaya and Australia. I enjoyed seeing WWII fiction not set in Europe. And it was a very sweet story.

City of Masks
City of Stars
by Mary Hoffman: I didn’t get to finish the series! *pouts* The first book was excellent. The second was good. The third…oh, I don’t know. I guess by the third book I felt like Hoffman had gotten herself stuck in a bit of an Issues rut—separated parents and major illnesses are all over the series. It just ended up seeming a little…improbable after awhile. Still, I’d like to finish that third book.

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn: I have major mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand, I really did like the main character and the mysterious detective, Nicholas Brisbane. On the other, well, there’s a reason this was shelved in adult fiction. And some stuff I can handle and other stuff I can’t. So, approach with caution.

Book of Enchantments by Patricia Wrede: Short stories by the author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles (LOVE THEM!) and the Kate and Cecelia books. I must have read this years ago because I remembered all the stories. For some reason my abiding favorite is “The Sixty-two Curses of Caliph Arenschadd.”

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: I was telling my sister that when I first read this I said it was like “Jane Austen WITH MAGIC.” I didn’t know what I was talking about. This is really like “Georgette Heyer WITH MAGIC.” Seriously. If you like GH and you like fantasy, read this. Hey, even if you just like one or the other, read this.

Crown Duel
Court Duel
by Sherwood Smith: I really like this series for no good reason. Well, I guess I have two reasons. One, Meliara is a wonderful narrator who manages to be spunky without feeling like A Man In Disguise, which some overly spunky heroines sometimes end up as. Second, I love the hero. With a deep and abiding love. Even though I could see the setup coming from the first book.

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale: A beautiful, beautiful book. Goose Girl is probably my favorite Hale, but Book of a Thousand Days is a close runner up, if it’s not tied. The writing is crystal clear and gorgeous. A re-telling of a Grimm’s fairy tale, transposed to a version of Mongolia.

Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey: Another fairy tale re-telling, this time of Sleeping Beauty. It’s interesting to compare this to Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End, which I also love. This was MUCH shorter, but very well done. I liked the fact that I really didn’t know exactly what was going to happen next. At the same time, I think I would have liked a little more volume.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke: Short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I would have re-read if I thought I had time. Clarke continues her amazingly versatile writing style in this collection. I think you pretty much had to read Jonathan Strange for most of these to work at all. But if you read and enjoyed that, I think you would like collection.

The Road to Yesterday by L.M. Montgomery: L.M. Montgomery=joy. Although…these are all set in Avonlea and several of them mention Walter and…okay, I hope I’m not spoiling Rilla of Ingleside for anyone, but Walter was my favorite Blythe child and I cried buckets of tears in Rilla, and whenever anyone mentions Walter my throat starts getting all tight and my eyes start watering and I have to blink rapidly so as not to start bawling.

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett: This was a lot of fun. A middle-school grade mystery, I’d say. It was nice in that there were a lot of puzzles but even if you couldn’t figure them out, you could still read the story. However, the solution left me annoyed because I don’t see any way the reader could have independently deduced the villain, except by the old Unlikeliest Person trick. And even that’s shaky.

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5 Comments

Filed under bookish posts, monthly book list, reviews

5 responses to “January reading list

  1. Pingback: 2009 in books, part one « By Singing Light

  2. Pingback: Diana Wynne Jones | By Singing Light

  3. Pingback: Patricia C. Wrede | By Singing Light

  4. Pingback: July 2013 book list | By Singing Light

  5. Pingback: Favorite Authors: Caroline Stevermer | By Singing Light

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