The Luxe by Anna Godbersen: The gorgeous dress on the cover is what enticed me back into fiction early last month. I wish I could say the story itself was as riveting. In spite of the intriguing premise, I found myself frustrated with the characters, who mostly just sat around and let things happen to them. Even when they acted, it was in ways I found immoral or, at the very least, dishonorable. Out of all the POVs, there wasn’t a single one I truly sympathized with. Also, I found it hard to suspend my disbelief at the behavior of the debutantes; surely not all the girls of that time period were sneaking out to spend time with young men at all odd hours?
I doubt I’ll be reading the sequels.
The Stepsister Scheme by Jim Hines: When Sir I. found this book on the end table, he commented on how the girls on the cover looked like they wanted to be pirates! Well, not quite pirates, but rather fairy tale princesses reimagined into kick-butt heroines. When Danielle (Cinderella) is attacked by one of her stepsisters, Talia (Sleeping Beauty) and Snow (White) come to her aid. Danielle discovers that their backstories do not quite line up with what is conventionally believed about them. Much adventure ensues when Danielle’s husband is kidnapped by the stepsisters and the three princesses travel to the fairy realm to rescue him.
I admit to being a little envious that I didn’t come up with this concept (I love twisting fairy tales, but mine come out very dark and, um, twisted). This was a fun read (a romp even!), but with depth and a good dose of character development. The next book, The Mermaid’s Madness (look, they really are pirates!), is on my wishlist.
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz: The Simple Dollar is reviewing this book in several installments. Since I’ve never read a networking book (and I confess to being lazy about keeping up with my friends), I thought I’d give this a whirl. First off, I have to say that most of us will probably never be in Ferrazzi’s league, and probably our careers don’t depend on networking as much as his seems to. My *job* as a writer is to write the best darn fiction I can. My husband’s job as a programmer is to code well. Networking is valuable, but a distant second (third? fourth? tenth?). Still, Ferrazzi has valuable things to say about how the best networks are based on generosity, on providing mutual value and the power of weak ties.
What made me uncomfortable about this book was the minutiae of how you accomplish all this networking. I know Ferrazzi doesn’t mean to be creepy, but creating one-page dossiers on your target subjects, positioning yourself where you can meet them at conferences, having lists of people you’d like to know–all of that seems stalkerish to me. I don’t if I’d feel flattered or weirded out if people did that to me!
The most valuable thing I took away from this book was a renewed determination be better about following up with people that I met once or a few times, but with whom I hit it off with. Those lively conversations could be the start of new relationships–if I weren’t so lazy!
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp: This is another one of The Simple Dollar’s recommendations, and a book I’d probably not have discovered myself any time soon. I love to read about (and talk about and think about) the creative process, but most of the books I pick up on the topic have been by writers talking about writing to other writers. Tharp is a choreographer and I love how her background brings freshness to the topic. Her guidelines are applicable throughout the arts, but her exercises are informed by her passion for music and dance. I have lots more to say about this book, but I’m saving it for a future post. There was a lot in here for me to think about
Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones: This is a collection of four short tales featuring Chrestomanci. They’re a light fun read, but none of them reached the calibre of my favorite Chrestomanci novel, The Lives of Christopher Chant. If you’re a big Chrestomanci fan like I am, you might want to read these out of a desire to be complete; otherwise, I’d skip ’em.