December book list

The last books of 2009! It’s hard to believe.

Chalice by Robin McKinley: a re-read. I continue to enjoy this book a lot, despite feeling that the ending is a tad rushed. Original review {HERE}

Arabella by Georgette Heyer: reviewed {HERE}

Rocannon’s World by Ursula LeGuin: first of the Hainish trilogy. I found the concept interesting and the characters quite likable, but I think the execution isn’t quite a strong as it could be.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan: reviewed {HERE}

Riddle of Stars by Patricia McKillip: reviewed {HERE}

Magic and Malice (Mairelon the Magician and Mairelon’s Ward) by Patricia C. Wrede: Kim, a sometime pickpocket masquerading as a boy, is asked to look into Mairelon the Magician. She reluctantly agrees, with unexpected consequences. Enjoyable, but not as good as Wrede’s collaborative Kate and Cecelia series (Sorcery and Cecelia, The Grand Tour, and The Mislaid Magician).

A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer: I’m still not quite sure what to say about this one. I thought the characters were lovely, and I was expecting them to have a stronger resolution of the problems of their marriage. So the ending was somewhat unsatisfactory, but overall I enjoyed it.

A Sorrowful Joy by Dr. Albert Raboteau: the spiritual journey of an African-American academic, from Roman Catholic to Eastern Orthodox. Very beautifully written and touching.

Fire by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson: reviewed {HERE}

The Faery Reel ed. by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling: reviewed {HERE}

The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein: reviewed {HERE}

Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones: a comfort re-read. I do love this book! However, I was startled to realize that I had bought the young reader’s edition, which has some of the slightly more dubious language edited out (I didn’t think any of it was that bad). Oh well.

Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones: short stories about Chrestomanci. I get all of her short story collections mixed up. This isn’t my favorite, although it does have a couple of fun stories.

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: a re-read. Enchanting, as always. Original review {HERE}

Fire by Kristin Cashore: I was worried about this book because Graceling was so strong and I just didn’t see how Cashore could follow it up, especially in such a short time frame. I was happily proved wrong. Fire, which is a sort of prequel to Graceling, follows Fire, a monster child in the kingdom of the Dells. Daughter of the adviser to the former king, she must grapple with her father’s history as well as her own. Very well done–if you liked Graceling, don’t be hesitant to read this!

A Knot in the Grain by Robin McKinley: re-read, because it was on my bookshelves and I needed something short and fun. I really like several of the stories in this collection; the weakest, for me, is the last, which breaks the fairy-tale setting. It’s not a bad story at all, but in this collection it feels just a little out of place.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss: a re-read. Always a delightful book, and one which successfully navigates the tricky waters of the Language Wars. And it makes punctuation fun! It also sent me into a horrible tail-spin during which I used semi-colons everywhere.

The Romance of a Christmas Card by Kate Douglas Wiggin: a sweet but fairly forgettable Christmas story from the author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer: when Lord Darracott’s heir dies unexpectedly he is forced to recognize the existence of his new heir, the scorned son of a Yorkshire weaver who has joined the army. The young man, Hugh Darracott, is more than he seems, and when faced with a scornful family proves to have a mischievous sense of humor. Typical fun and hijinks ensue.

Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-Archer: two children from our time are accidentally sent back to 1763, where they make the acquaintance of Gideon Seymour, former pickpocket and cutpurse, and his arch-enemy, the Tar Man. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild: one of the long “Shoes” series. This one focuses on Rachel and her adopted sister Hilary, who are taken in by Rachel’s uncle and aunt after their parents die. It was okay, but didn’t have the charm of either Theatre Shoes or Ballet Shoes.

The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip: what connection is there between a humble librarian and translator in the palace of Raine and an ancient language of thorns which no one can read but her? This is one of McKillip’s strongest books, with a lot of palace intrigue and politics, fascinating characters, and a feeling of strangeness lurking just around the corner.

Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfeild: one of my favorite books from when I was younger, and the sequel to Ballet Shoes. Original review {HERE}.

Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren: a enchanting story of two warring robber clan’s in a vaguely historical, vaguely Scandinavian setting. I really enjoyed it, especially the nuanced depiction of the various characters and the beautiful description of the natural setting.

When the Sirens Wailed by Noel Streatfeild: more historical fiction than Streatfeild’s usual, this focuses on three siblings who are evacuated from London at the beginning of World War II. It’s a sweet story which really does a good job of capturing the children’s perspective on this area of the war.

The Quiet Gentleman by Georgette Heyer: a re-read, although not on purpose. Gervase St. Erth returns home at last to take up his title after his father’s death. He is met by resentment on the part of his stepmother and half-brother, but things are not as they seem. A bit more serious than many of Heyer’s works.

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville: I had heard about Mieville from the ladies at The Black Letters and decided to pick this one up when I saw it at the library. It’s a beautifully written and haunting story, with lovely bits of illustrations. I really appreciated the different take Mieville did on the idea of the “Chosen One”. Very nice (although I probably would have been a bit scared when I was younger–good scared, but scared nonetheless).

Blood Feud by Rosemary Sutcliff: one of my favorite Sutcliff books. The story of Jestyn the Englishman, who seemed destined to be a cowherd all his life, but who winds up in the first Varangian guard of the Byzantine Emperor’s. It’s also a story about friendship and loyalty.

The Magic City by E. Nesbit: an unexpectedly lovely book. I’m working through Nesbit because I have only read her major books–The Treasure Seekers, etc. This one is on the fantastical side, but very beautifully written. It’s very predictable, but I felt that it was both of its time and still relevant to a modern audience.

The Magic World by E. Nesbit: short stories by Nesbit. Nice enough, but none of them really stuck out as fantastic.

Book sources: all school, public, or personal libraries


Filed under bookish posts, monthly book list, reviews

9 responses to “December book list

  1. Ohhh, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter is one of my favorite childhood books – I remember reading it and crying over it on a hot summer evening. I just lent my copy to Kakaner for her to read it for the first time, too. And gah, add A Knot in the Grain to my unread McKinley list.

    Happy New Year! Many happy booking wishes for the coming year. 🙂

    • Maureen E

      Ronia is one I wish I had read growing up! I still enjoyed it, but I would have loved her. Oh well!

      I don’t know if I have an unread McKinley list…but then she is one of my must-read authors.

      Happy New Year to you as well!

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