I may not have blogged much in October, but I sure made it through a lot of books! I attribute this partially to the fact we moved the baby out of our room and into his own, thus allowing me to read in bed again. But only partially. I just like books a whole lot. 😀
I snapped up the second and third Crosspointe novels by Diana Pharoah Francis. I like that each novel can stand alone, featuring new characters having their own adventures as part of a larger series arc. I found The Black Ship to be the more self-contained of the two (and, as an aside, amused that once again I found myself reading nautical fantasy and just as lost amongst all the technical jargon as I ever have been). In spite of his prickliness, I found Thorne to be a sympathetic protagonist and I was rooting for him the whole way. There was something deus ex machina-ish about Lucy Trenton’s infrequent appearances and the romantic subplot (if I can call it even that–it was so slight) felt very shoehorned in. What I liked best was how the crew of the black ship, faced with terror after terror (and yes, I enjoyed how things went from bad to worse to worst) forged a bond through it all. I eagerly moved on to The Turning Tide, but found it harder to get into. The multiplicity of the POVs made it hard for me to get behind any one character, and the singleminded (narrow-minded) perspective of the male love interest (save the female at all costs) just annoyed me. This book also felt incomplete, or at least, a bit incidental, because nothing seemed resolved on a personal or global level. I’m glad to know that there is a fourth book because I have a lot of questions!
I would probably not have come upon The Magicians (by Lev Grossman) on my own if the librarian hadn’t pointed it out. Think of it as a grown-up, grittier version of Hogwarts. An academically gifted student, Quentin has spent all his life feeling as though life was meaningless. The only way he can forget the loss is by burying himself in a series of kids’ books about Fillory (if you think Narnia, where siblings from our world have adventures in an other, you won’t be far wrong). When he follows a letter into an alley and finds himself taking an entrance exam to Brakebills, a college for the magically talented, he feels like he’s found his purpose. However, he finds that even magic loses its charm, until he learns that Fillory is a real place–and he can have a chance to go there. Grossman can’t resist swiping at Harry Potter (at one point a character remarks that magic is not being about waving wands while yelling made-up Latin), but he builds on, extrapolates from and opposes and turns on their heads the works of Rowling, Lewis and Tolkien. I found that a pall hung over the whole book, as Quentin searches for a purpose, and finds that even magic cannot enchant him forever. He is not a hero, not a go-getter, and he makes some poor choices, and I felt that he never rose above that and learned something.
Also finished Storm Front, the first of the Dresden Files. How soon can I get hold of the next one? Just the fact that it does not romanticize vampires gives it an automatic ten plus points in my book. Dresden’s voice fits comfortably in the genre, and while the setting is unusual, the mystery conventions are nicely kept. Fun read.
My non-fiction reads were Into Thin Air, about the Mt. Everest climbing disaster, and A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola for homeschooling resources.
What about you? What have you been reading recently?
Ingathering by Zenna Henderson—again.
The Winds Twelve Quarters by Ursula K. LeGuin—again.
:sighs: I love these books. What can I say?
Well, besides their general awesomeness, I’ve been evaluating them, counting pages, taking them apart and putting them back together in my study of the short story form because I wanted to try my hand at short stories (a form of writing I have always failed at) and thought the best way to do that would be to study my all time favorite works.
I’ll save the analysis for my blog though. I’m writing these reviews :shakes head sadly at self:, a rather ambitious endeavor, seeing as there’s like eighteen stories per book.
But must recommend “Captivity” and “Darkness Box,” the best part of each collection, respectively. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous, heart-wrenching, thoughtful fiction.
Thanks for the recommendations! Just this year I’ve started seriously studying the short story form, and started buying more anthologies. I’m a novelist at heart, but short stories do spill out of me occasionally. I’d like to make them the best that they can be. 🙂