March book list, part one

Well, this is a first–a two-part monthly book list! I had it all in one post and I had gotten up to 2100 words with a few books left to talk about, so I decided to just split it in two.

The Safe-Keeper’s Secret by Sharon Shinn: I read the third book of this trilogy a few months ago and liked it, so when I saw this at the library I picked it up. Reading the third book first wasn’t an issue in this case, because these stories are much more in the companion-book line than a straight trilogy. Anyway, I really liked this one, even more than the third book. It was a sweet story and beautifully written. Unfortunately, there was a comparison to Spindle’s End on the jacket copy, which made me catch on to the twist sooner than I otherwise would have. Still, I don’t mind spoilers in general, so I wasn’t particularly bothered.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke: Short stories by the author of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I’ve been meaning to re-read since I got my copy from Oregon. The short stories are from a variety of time periods, from Elizabethan to Regency. I often waffle on short story collections, but this one is pretty solid–helped, I think, by the unity of the concept and world. “On Lickerish Hill” is probably my favorite, though “The Duke of Wellington Misplaces His Horse” is pretty close.

Looking for Alaska by John Green: Miles Halter goes to a Florida boarding school, where he ends up with an odd group of friends, including the Colonel and the elusive Alaska Young. I accidentally read a bit in the middle–like a paragraph–and somehow ended up with a really weird conception of who the characters were going to be. So my predominant memory of this book is being surprised by the characters. I did really love the idea of the last words and I thought it was a graceful and sympathetic treatment of the subject matter.

The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee: The second Mary Quinn book. Candlewick’s cover was absolutely gorgeous again, and made my little costume geek heart rejoice. I thought that in some ways the story seemed a little fluffier than the first, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I liked it a lot, especially that the end wasn’t smoothed over to create some sort of false resolution. I’m excited for the third book, which is out next year, I think.

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott: I really enjoyed this book, perhaps more than I expected. Reviewed {here}.

A Gloveshop in Vienna by Eva Ibbotson: These were all short stories by Ibbotson. Unfortunately, I felt that most of them were too short, that without the length of a novel, there was no chance to really get to know and love the characters and so I didn’t feel any payoff from the resolutions.

The Changeover by Margaret Mahy: Everyone and their aunt was right. This is a lovely book. Reviewed {here}.

The Morning Gift by Eva Ibbotson: So, in the list of Ibbotsons, this is in my favorite category–the crossover adult/young adult romances. However, even the sweetness of this story and the gorgeous descriptions of Northumberland did not manage to move A Countess Below Stairs from its place as my favorite. There are some wickedly funny bits in here, as in all Ibbotsons, and some rather heart-wrending bits as well.

Madensky Square by Eva Ibbotson: This is not quite in Ibbotson’s usual line, and I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. Susanne is a clothing designer with a store in Madensky Square. She records life in the square, as well as her thoughts and struggles in a diary. I finished mostly because I was on an Ibbotson kick and wanted to get through it.

Flame-Colored Taffeta by Rosemary Sutcliff: Damaris and Peter discover a man they think is a smuggler and nurse him back to health with the help of the local herb woman. But Tom isn’t exactly who he seems. The story takes place in the 1750s, a different time than Sutcliff usually writes about. But it doesn’t matter, because her prose and characters are just as lovely. This is a bit more in the middle grade category than some of her books, though certainly it’s enjoyable for an adult as well.

The Sword and the Circle by Rosemary Sutcliff: I wasn’t wild about this one, despite loving both Sutcliff and Arthurian legends. It all felt a little too derivative–a bit too much straight Malory and not enough of Sutcliff herself.

When the King Comes Home by Caroline Stevermer: It’s been awhile since I read the other two books in this series, which meant that I wasn’t quite sure where this one was supposed to fall in the timeline. The first two were both sort of early 20th century, whereas this one seemed much more Renaissance-y. Eventally I just let it go and enjoyed the book. I found all of the details about learning to be an artist fascinating. I also liked the fact that it didn’t have romance, but didn’t have it in a way that seemed natural to the character. Quite different from the other books, but good.

Light in the Darkness by Sergei Fudel: Spiritual reading. There were parts of it that I found very interesting and helpful, and other parts where my reaction was basically “HUH, WHAT?” Due to the way the book was set up (snippets of Fudel’s writing) I also found the lack of context difficult.

Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliossotti: A re-read, because I enjoyed it the first time. Enjoyed it again. I believe there’s a sequel in the works, which is nice, as long as it’s good.

The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar: I read this in early March, and now I have only the vaguest impressions of it (I really need to be better about writing down my thoughts at the time). Of course, that means that it didn’t make a huge splash either way. As I’m looking back, I think it was a sweet story, but not particularly touching in any way.

Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson: Also known as The Reluctant Heiress. A re-read. I do like this one. The atmosphere of the various settings is lovely, and the characters are fun. The antagonist is definitely in the love-to-hate category. The hero could easily slip into that kind of overbearing stereotype, but he never does, which is nice.

Love Letters by Madeleine L’Engle: Aah, I have to say that I much prefer her other books. I like the idea of this, but I think that Rumer Godden did it better in In This House of Brede.

The Truth-Teller’s Tale by Sharon Shinn: The middle book of Shinn’s trilogy. The solution was kind of easy to spot, but I suppose that there are reasons for the main character not seeing it herself. By the way, all three of these books have gorgeous covers that are paintings. I’m rapidly growing to hate pretty much any and all photo covers–that’s a huge exaggeration, actually, but I’m so tired of models looking nothing like the characters, standing in a modern teenage posture. It’s especially awful with fantasy and historical books.

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6 Comments

Filed under bookish posts, monthly book list, reviews

6 responses to “March book list, part one

  1. I just put up my review of When the King Comes Home….I was sadly dissapointed by the lack of romance…perhaps more so because of the fact that she never even thinks about the possibility of romance, and never is conflicted at all….

    But I enjoyed the book regardless, so thanks!

  2. Pingback: Rosemary Sutcliff | By Singing Light

  3. Pingback: Madeleine L’Engle | By Singing Light

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