Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Look at My Reading in January

In my blogging goals at the beginning of the year, I had mentioned wanting to read less romance, more LitFic, more nonfic, more children's books, more poetry, and more diverse books. Here's how I did with January's reading.

Flower in the Desert by Lavender Parker
Categories: romance, american, contemporary, poc
Diversity: Featured African-American and Native American protagonists. It was a self-published and in eBook format. I'm trying to become a little more adventurous by choosing self-published books, which largely come in eBook format, a format that I read extremely reluctantly.
In a few words: Well-developed characters, plot, and narrative structures despite the short length; first half moved at a cracking pace and was beautiful; too much sex made plot lose pacing in the second half; story resolution was too quick. Overall, I enjoyed it. This was a community read book with @liz_mc2, @sonomalass, @_ridley_, and @meoskop.

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
Categories: romance, regency, big fat book, religious
Diversity: I enjoyed reading a big fat book last year and would like to read more in the longer length (>500 pages) this year. I don't read religious books or inspirational ones, since so far I've not been interested in either conversion themes or the influence personal faith has on the story (plot and characters). However, I read this book, and it was an eye-opening experience. (I mean, it's KINSALE, of course!) This book would not exist without the Quaker religion—it's in the threads that weave the fabric of the story—and I loved it. A five-star read.
In a few words: Heartrending. I cried tears of sorrow and tenderness as I read it. The main characters were frustrating at times and sympathetic at others. Despite where each one came from, by the end, I completely believed in their HEA. Read with @__marijana_.

Emily and the Dark Angel by Jo Beverley
Categories: romance, traditional regency
In a few words: Typical traditional Regency; would've liked to have seen more relationship development before declaration of love, but convincing HEA; lovable characters

The Travelling Parsi by Kamal Sunavala
Categories: nonfiction, literary fiction, memoir, anthology
Diversity: Featured Parsi-Indian characters, including the narrator of the stories AKA the author. This is another self-published book in e- format.
In a few words: Humor covered the gamut of funny, tedious, and mean-spirited; some vignettes were nonfiction but all dialog was made up, so a curious amalgam of nonfiction and fiction; all secondary characters sounded the same; loved this look into the Parsi-Indian culture; language tics were interesting. My detailed comments are here.

Viscount Vagabond by Loretta Chase
Categories: romance, traditional regency
In a few words: Typical Chase with silliness, lightness, delightful characters and plot, and marvelous writing. Recommended by __marijana_.

The One Skill: How Mastering the Art of Letting Go Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta
Categories: nonfiction, male author, life skills
Diversity: Self-published in e- format by a male author.
In a few words: Excellent meditation on how letting go of idealism in life about situations and people leads to a happier, calmer life. This was not a cerebral book, but rather a very practical how-to book. A five-star read. This is my March TBR Challenge book.

The Recruit by Monica McCarty
Categories: romance, medieval, Scotland
In a few words: Very much a Highlander story with a well-developed warrior whose muscles had been described in detail many times; a delicate, sweet, beauteous woman; a rawr-mine with sex start to the romance, building up to jealous possessiveness; well-done love scenes, superb fight choreography, good research; McCarty is my go-to for a Highlander fix.

The Writer's Life: Insights from The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
Categories: nonfiction, writing
In a few words: I picked up this book at the start of the year when I decided to start writing Morning Pages. It has been very helpful to read a few pages every now and then—it's a short book. Sometimes when I couldn't think of anything to write about, I picked a page from this book and "discussed" it. This is my May TBR Challenge book.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott
Categories: children's, fantasy, male author
Diversity: Book by male author
In a few words: I admit to a slow start to this book, until I stopped seeing this as a lame adult book and looked at it as the middle-grade novel it is. Then the pace picked up right away. Lots of flashy magic, icky creatures, intrepid child heroes, wise adults, and just plain old-fashioned derring-do. Thoroughly enjoyed it. This is my February TBR Challenge book, recommended by my daughter.

North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Categories: literary fiction, victorian
Diversity: Written in the mid-nineteenth century
In a few words: I have loved the miniseries based on this book very much and so was eager to read the book. While the romance is of course there, the focus is more on the culture of the north and the details of Margaret's life. So the book fills in the gaps of the movie storyline marvelously well. In fact, since Netflix is about to lose its contract for the miniseries, I'm re-watching it and enjoying the duality of the experience. Book recommended by @miss_batesreads and Sunita.
Status: Still reading...