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March books

1. Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey, Fiona Carnarvon

A bit boring, really. Rich folks behaving like children, yawn.

2. What the Psychic Told the Pilgrim, Jane Christmas

Engaging, witty, easy-to-read: I still want to take Jane aside and teach her how to properly plan an overseas adventure. (Hint: figure out how you're going to get from the airport to your destination BEFORE you arrive.)

3. The Just City, Jo Walton

A wonderful novel of ideas, expertly blending myth, history, and the future.

Basically it's one giant thought experiment what if Plato's City could really exist), and it's awesome.

4. The Sorcerer's Apprentices, Lisa Abend

I'm not a fan of molecular gastronomy - it's just not my style, in a number of ways - but it makes for some fascinating reading.

The thing that surprised me most? The throw-away line about how "of course, most three star restaurants lose money." ???

Also, Lisa Abend tweeted me a couple times about the book and she seems SUPER NICE.

5. Mrs. Robinson's Disgrace, Kate Summerscale

No real answers to this mysterious scandal: did she make it all up? Or not?, but I suppose that's real life.

6. Designing & Planting the Woodland Garden, Keith Wiley

Lovely and inspirational photos; lots of ideas for plants I wouldn't have thought of for my largely shaded areas.

7. Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller

I think you're either going to love or be annoyed by Donald Miller's style; but what I love about his books is his tendency to stand things you think you understand on their head until you see them in a completely new way.

8. If This Be A Woman: Inside Ravensbruk, Sarah Helm

(advance copy provided to me by Netgalley. Also, there seems to be some confusion about the exact title - the galley had one, Goodreads another.)

This one gets 4-stars only because I rate based on how much I enjoy the reading of the book, not on literary merit alone. And make no mistake: this is a hard book to read. It's long, yes, but more than that - it's soul-rending. What was done to these women, from the Polish rabbits to the slave laborers, is practically inconceivable, and it does not make for pleasant reading.

But you should read it.


Because it's true. Because the world needs to know. Because we should never, never forget. Because they deserve for us to keep these atrocities in mind so that they never, please God, happen again.

And also because this book IS a 5-star for literary merit; because the writing is tight, the research impeccable, the organization flawless.

9. This Time Together, Carol Burnett

I liked that this was a series of short anecdotes - it made reading it in small portions very pleasant.

Conclusion: Tim Conway is the funniest guy in the history of funny guys.

10. Sandman: preludes and nocturnes, Neil Gaiman

I thought I had begun to read an abandoned this several years earlier, but Goodreads says I did finish it back in October of 2013? Either way, reading it (again) just reinforced that graphic novels are simply a hard format for me. I love them! They are pretty! But interpreting pictures is hard. Keeping characters straight is hard. Reading emotions on drawn faces is hard.

It wasn't until until near the end that I felt like I got Dream as a character. Until then, I was dead sure I wasn't going to continue the series. Now, I'm not quite so sure. (Besides, I really want to see more of this Death I've heard so much about.)