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January's books

1. Incontinent on the Continent, Jane Christmas

I sympathize with Jane, I really do, but her attitude towards her mother lacks charity and grace and left me wondering why she EVER thought a 6-week trip through Italy together would be a good idea.Also not a good idea: undertaking this trip with only the barest of planning, especially with a elderly, disabled person. So many of the disappointments and problems they encountered would have vanished with proper planning.

I generally love Jane's books (And Then There Were Nuns was one of my favorites from last year!). Just not this one.

2. How To Be A Victorian, Ruth Goodman

An excellent and comprehensive guide to Victorian living, focusing more on middle and lower-class lifestyles. She starts with how you'd wake up in the morning - your morning ablutions, how you'd get dressed and in what, what you'd eat for breakfast - and goes on through the day until bedtime.

It left me feeling very glad I'm not living in Victorian times, even as I find much of it fascinating.

3. Victorian Secrets, Sarah Chrisman

4 stars for content, 2 stars for author snark - so I've given this three stars in compromise.

The information on corsets, corset-wearing, and Victorian clothing in general was excellent. The often smug, judgmental, and belittling attitude of the author towards people who didn't understand or approve of her clothing, were fat, or wore non-authentic costumes to Victorian events (she nicknamed one lady Polly Esther) was disappointing. One also suspects that some of the stories were embellished, even stretched, to make her points more clearly - she is enlightened, and everyone else is stupid (and probably fat and has health problems.)

4. Cupid is a Procrastinator, Kate Hurley

Ms. Hurley has written a disarmingly honest, candid look at how she experiences extended singleness. We've experienced singlehood fairly differently, but while I didn't personally relate to much of the book, I daresay many Christian singles will. She provides encouragement without false hope and empty platitudes, and never fails to point back to our ultimate hope - Jesus.

That review sounds awkwardly formal because it was for netgalley, who provided an advanced copy. The subtitle is "making sense of the unexpected single life"; I'm unexpectedly single in that I didn't grow up planning or thinking I'd be thirty and single, but at this point it's pretty much a life choice, and one I'm 99% happy with, so I wasn't really the target audience. But having read some really awful
 "how to be single" books, I'm pleased to find one that I can actually recommend.

5. The Poltics of Washing, Polly Coles

Daily life in Venice beyond what the tourists see - a bit depressing (one suspects the author has a slightly more pessimistic view on Venice's fate than is warranted), but also, I never realized just how difficult a city it is to get around it, especially if one is old, disabled, or hampered by small children. Like, much worse than just your average large city with public transportation. Because, duh, BOATS. Also, many stairs. And foot bridges.

6. Kill Shot, Vince Flynn

Second in the Mitch Rapp series. I read all of the Jack Reacher books in a space of months, but I don't feel the same drive to start a new Flynn immediately after finishing one, so this series is going to take longer. I like these in much the same way I do the Reachers, but whereas a Reacher book generally has no extra padding, I feel like there's extraneous dialog and dithering present to slow down the action here. Also, I skim over most of the sections with the terrorists ploting and dialoging - I read these for the heros and action, not to get inside the bag guy's heads.

Um, all that to say, this is still a great series if you like action/adventure.

7. The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood

I recognize the skill and craft behind this book - it's just totally not my style. I'm glad I read it once, but it's not something I would ever want to revisit. Books like this always seem to be s</span>aying "look at me, look how Important and Intelligent and Daring and Groundbreaking I am."

Also, having sex once a month (with no indication that it's timed to the woman's fertile period of her cycle, iirc) seems like a really inefficient way to make babies. Just saying. Also, I read the whole book saying her name as Off-Red, only to realize at the end that it's Of-Fred. Fred? FRED??

8. Strong Poison, Dorothy Sayers

It's probably been ... fifteen years since I've read any Lord Peter books? And so many of you here were talking about them that I really had no other option but to dip back into them. I think we all agree how great Peter and Harriet are, so I'll leave it at that.

Goodreads challenge status: 2 books behind (but I'm within pages of finishing 2 books, so I'm pretty sure I'll catch up today and be back on track.)

I DNF'd* one this month: Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?: the epic saga of the bird that powers civlization, by Andrew Lawler. Nothing wrong with it, it just wasn't attention-grabbing enough to hold my interest with so many other books sitting on my nightstand waiting for me to get to them.

*did not finish


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2015 02:16 pm (UTC)
I feel the same about the Handmaid's Tale. For about the first quarter of the book, I thought it was kind of brilliant. But the longer the novel went on, the less impressed I was with any of it, and by the end my reaction was very Meh. I think it might have been better as a short story.

Offred was the most passive protagonist I've read in quite a while, and though I get that was on purpose to make a point, it doesn't do a lot for reader engagement with your story.
Feb. 7th, 2015 02:22 am (UTC)
Oddly passive and yet stupidly daring as far as that ill-conceived affair with whats-his-name. Totally didn't make sense to me. =P
Feb. 2nd, 2015 03:40 pm (UTC)
I love your reviews! :-) And I always get some good book ideas (as if any of us need more to add to our to-read lists!).
Feb. 7th, 2015 02:22 am (UTC)
Right? I almost hate to even find out about great new books!
Feb. 26th, 2015 06:55 pm (UTC)
Hi! I told our mutual friend moredetails that I was looking for some more LJ friends and she recommended you. I think she thought especially of you because you're a librarian and I am taking online classes to earn an MLIS. I would love to be added to your friends list! Let me know if you want to know anything about me that you can't already glean from my journal. :)
Feb. 26th, 2015 08:30 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm always up for new lj friends, and I've seen you around forever but been too shy to say anything. :) Welcome to my lj, and be prepared to hear way more than you ever wanted to know about librarianship. ;)
Feb. 27th, 2015 12:30 pm (UTC)
Haha, preparing myself now! Thanks for adding me back!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )