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February booklist

1. And Then There Were Nuns, Jane Christmas

Jane Christmas has a problem, and that problem is that she can't decide whether to get married to her fiance ... or become a nun. I know, right? She's felt called to a religious vocation for most of her life, but also is in a happy relationship. So she takes about a year to spend extended periods of time at various Catholic and Lutheran abbeys, monasteries, and other religious retreats in an attempt to find out what path God wants for her. I loved her writing style and honesty, and I found her descriptions of the secluded life of religious orders particularly interesting because I mostly think of monks and nuns in a historical context - it's hard for me to imagine a modern nun.

2. Dangerous, Shannon Hale

I was able to read an advanced reader copy of this thanks to Netgalley.

I love Shannon Hale. LOVE. (And I'm super excited about meeting her next month at TxLA!) I love her Books of Bayern series passionately and recommend them often for people looking for books with strong female role models - she excels at writing girls who aren't the type to swoon or need a man to rescue them, but don't swing to far the other way and become dismissive of or contemptuous towards men, either.

That combined with the fact that I hate to write negative reviews for any book makes this especially painful to admit: Dangerous was a huge disappointment. The characters are flat. The female lead spends too much time obsessing over the male lead, who may or may not be her most dangerous foe. At first I was excited because the main character is both Hispanic and has a physical disability, but neither are addressed to their full potential. The characters often act out of character and the entire plot feels choppy.

I'm sorry, Shannan Hale: if I had liked and admired you less, I would have expected less and probably enjoyed this more.

3. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

A re-read, brought on by the Autobiography of Jane Eyre. (If you're not watching, why are you not watching??)

4. American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson

I've only seen his show a few times, but I've always thought he seemed interesting (and of course, there's the Scottish accent.) I loved every bit of this book (though be warned, there's strong language). Especially the part where it turns out he was once in a band with PETER "12th Doctor" CAPALDI. !!!

5. Good Things, Martha Stewart

You know. Recipes and craft ideas for the artistically-minded overachievers among us.

6. The Altered Book Scrapbook, Susan Ure

I find it hard to read these kind of books for inspiration, since each person's projects are so individual (and when doing altered work, the materials are so individual as well), but I loved looking at these examples and picked up a few techniques I may use in my own books later.

7. The Man Who Saved Britain, Simon Winder

I picked this up at a little bookshop on Bleeker St. and for that reason alone I wanted to love it: but for a man who professes to be so profoundly influenced by James Bond, Winder is uncomfortably contemptuous of him. I finished the book, but I was left wondering why he spent this much time writing about a subject he despises.

8. Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert

tldr: humans are illogical and have no idea what will really make them happy, and thus are always chasing after happiness in the wrong ways.

9. The Many Conditions of Love, Farahad Zama

I just love this series - sort of a Ladies #1 Detective Agency type, but set in India and involving a matchmaking agency. There is a fairly large cast of characters, and each book picks out several to focus on. I love how vivid a picture the dialog and descriptions paint - especially the many mentions of food! This particular book inspired me to make an Indian feast last Sunday. :)

10. The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, Catherynne M. Valente

I have a conflicted relationship with these books: the prose is amazing. Poetic, insightful, absolutely full of literary gems and truths that I copy down in my quote book. But the stories remind me a bit of the Wizard of Oz - a fairly loosely connected series of adventures featuring one improbable character after another. I love reading the words, while at the same time being eager for the story to get over with so I can move on to something more exciting.

But did I mention that the writing is excellent?

Everyone has their invisible cloak of all things past. Some shimmer and some float. Some cut all the way down to the bone and farther still.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2014 11:35 pm (UTC)
Lutheran abbeys and monestaries? I thought Martin Luther and his Katerina had "been there, done that."
Mar. 5th, 2014 01:09 am (UTC)
I honestly didn't realize any protestant groups had religious orders until this book, but they do. :)
Mar. 4th, 2014 02:37 am (UTC)
I read and enjoyed "American on Purpose" but a.) didn't know who Peter Capaldi was/would become, so thanks for the reminder! and b.) I thought it was going to be more political and less memoir-y.

Mar. 5th, 2014 01:10 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't know who Capaldi was until the Doctor Who news came out, but frankly, I'm already a fan for the eyebrows alone.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )