Mia and I are going to be participating in Dewey’s Read-a-Thon again this weekend, which means a flurry of activity for Nisaba Be Praised. And I was just thinking that the poor dear has been so misused and neglected that to it would struggle under the pressure of a 24 hour read-a-thon. SO, following Miss Amelia’s wonderful review of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher last month, I’m gonna tell ya’ll what I’ve been reading. (The thought being that this will be like a warm-up or stretching routine for NBP, after months of sitting on its butt.)
I might miss some things, and this is going to be in no sort of order, b/c I’ve been terrible about keeping track:
1) Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey (ooo, bargain price at Amazon!) – “Carey sets this powerful near-future tale in Outpost 12, a small town trapped in a œbuffer zone shielding Texas from pandemic-stricken Mexico. Two half-siblings chafing under General Argyle’s military rule make very different plans to beat the status quo. Tom, the son of a soldier, lives at the gym, where he trains in boxing and hopes to win his freedom from the town by defeating the general’s boxing champion. Loup, who has inherited her escaped father’s oddly engineered genes, joins a group of church wards called the Santitos, a tight gang of vigilantes who masquerade as the local saint, Santa Olivia.”
I picked this up because I saw it on a list of gay characters in SF&F (which was in response to the recent Gay4YA kerfuffle – asking that people buy books with gay characters so that publishers will publish more of them). I haven’t read anything by Carey, though I’ve been meaning to read Kushiel’s Dart for years. Anyway, I ended up liking this a lot. I don’t want to describe it too much, really, but I loved the main character, the world and worldbuilding, and the supporting characters. The only major weakness for me was some unrealistic dialogue, aka things 17-year-olds would. not. say. Still, as solid a book as I think this is, and unusual enough that I’d like more people to read it, there’s something stopping me from wholeheartedly loving it. And I’m not sure what that is.
2) In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming - “Russ Van Alstyne, police chief of Millers Kill, and Clare Fergusson, new-to-town Episcopal priest, first meet when she reports a baby abandoned at the church. The two later discover the body of the baby’s young mother. As the investigation progresses, Clare runs into opposition from staid church members, two of whom will do anything to adopt the child.”
I grabbed this as a free ebook a few months ago and when I got my nook (my beautiful and beloved nook!) for my birthday, this was one of the first things I read. It’s a mystery novel, which is not one of my usual genres. My mom reads them almost exclusively and so I’ve read plenty of them over the years. In some ways, they’re even more comfortable than books in my favorite genres. There’s just something about a mystery being solved that is so complete and satisfying. Time to get off my tangent: this was great. My favorite thing was the friendship between the two main characters who, shocker of all shockers, are a man and a woman! Oh, also, the woman is a priest! I’d love to read more of the series, because seriously this was great, but I am poor.
3) Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne (also bargain price on amazon!) - “Evie Nicholson is in love with the past. An antiques appraiser in a London shop, Evie spins fanciful attachments to Victorian picture frames, French champagne glasses, satin evening gloves, and tattered teddy bears—regardless of their monetary value. Her sister, Alice, is as clutter-free as Evie is a pack rat, and she has the perfect Scottish boyfriend, Fraser, to boot! As a favor to friends of Fraser’s family, Evie jumps at the chance to appraise a Scottish castle full of artifacts and heirlooms. What could be more thrilling than roaming the halls of Kettlesheer and uncovering the McAndrews’ family treasures—and dusty secrets?”
I bought this for my nook a week or two ago around nine o’clock in the evening and I finished it in the early hours of the morning. Seriously, this is one of the biggest strengths of ebooks and ereaders. Craving something at a time when bookstores are not open and getting instant gratification. So… this was a lot of fun. It’s a romance, possibly chick-lit. No, definitely chick-lit, but the sort with a romance. (What’s the difference, o ye of not genre fans? Romance is more focused on the couple, chick-lit is more focused on the woman. Also romance usually has quite a bit of sex and sexual tension, chick-lit does not.) It was exactly what I’d been craving and I’d recommend it in a heartbeat if you’re craving it, too!
4) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – “Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.”
Um, yeah. This was as amazing as everybody says. If you haven’t read it yet, please do.
5) Chalice by Robin McKinley – “Mirasol is a beekeeper, a honey-gatherer, with an ability to speak to the “earthlines” – the sentient parts of Willowlands, where she lives. The concerns of Master, Chalice, and Circle, who govern Willowlands, have nothing to do with her – until the current Master and Chalice die in a fire and leave no heirs to take their places. The Master’s closest relative has been a priest of Fire for the past seven years; he is not quite human anymore. And then the Circle comes to Marisol and tells her that she is the new Chalice, and it will be up to her to bind the land and its people with a Master, the touch of whose hand can burn human flesh to the bone. . . .”
I loved this. Go read it. It’s slow for YA fantasy and would be, I think, a good crossover for adult readers who aren’t sure about YA.