Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My May Reading

This was a rather slow reading month for me. I'm mystified as to why though. Perhaps tiredness from the super-achievement of last month, which required three posts to unpack. It's not that life was especially crazy either. But the days just slipped by and it was the end of the month and this post was due. I sound so lackluster, but the books I read weren't. I read good, engrossing books. There was a parenting book, too, this month in addition to all the ones listed below, but I shall let that one be undescribed.

The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase
Categories: romance, regency
Commentary: Read with Jessica Tripler. It's one of my favorite Chases and I never tire of her quirky humor and strong heroines. The hapless hero has the requisite rock-hard abs and a stiff uppercut...but the heroine can deck him. The H & H are poles apart in personality and station and circumstance, but Chase makes a convincing case of why each needs the other in their life to make it better than before. The goofiness the characters exhibit towards each other is historical romance humor, as in humor you'll find only in historical romances that has nothing to do with history or romance. But the goofiness works as part of the character arcs and combined with occasional genuine Chase humor, wraps it up into an attractive whole.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Categories: spirituality, children's, fantasy
Diversity: A fantasy novel, a relatively new genre for me
Commentary: Recommended highly by Liz_Mc2, sonomalass, willaful, OliviaWaite. Is there any adult of a certain age who hasn't read this book? Apparently, there's one! So I set about changing that. And...I'm ambivalent. If I had read it as a teen, I would've been wowed. I had a little fantasy in my reading then, but not that much. This kind of a story would've blown my socks off. However, I came to fantasy as an adult in the last 2-3 years, thanks to my daughter. Having read some of her current books, this story was underwhelming in its fantasy elements, in its plotting elements, and in its character-development elements. Perhaps the most off-putting were the religious speeches. They weren't that many but they were certainly superfluous to the story and I felt put upon. I have read inspirational romance; I have read Kinsale's Flowers from the Storm; in each of those cases, religion was an integral part of the story of the characters. Here? Not so much. I feel like I should apologize to those who recommended the book to me—it's just not for me.

Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
Categories: mystery
Commentary: Recommended by Rohan Maitzen. In fact, it were Rohan's posts on the book (here and here) that made me want to read this particular book. I have read Sayers before and have really enjoyed her detective Lord Peter Whimsey and how he and his (now) wife Harriet aid each other in solving mysteries. However, it was Rohan's commentary on how the Whimseys negotiate and conduct their marriage that had me interested in reading this particular book. What intricately developed subtlety between Whimsey and Harriet about each other's identity, sense of self-worth, respect, and wishes. They demonstrate what love is, with what care one must nurture it, with what delicacy one must treat the other, with what forethought one must treasure it. As Harriet says, "Being preposterously fond of a person didn't prevent one from hurting him unintentionally." That Sayers managed to skillfully write such a story despite her opinion of romance is a testament to her writing chops. "It has been said, by myself and others, that a love-interest is only an intrusion upon a detective story. But to the characters involved, the detective-interest might well seem an irritating intrusion upon their love-story."

Miss Cayley's Adventures by Grant Allen
Categories: literary fiction, victorian, mystery
Diversity: Written in the nineteenth century by a male author with non-Caucasian characters. Read it in e- format.
Commentary: Recommended by SmartBitches. Carrie wrote a wonderful detailed review of the book and I commented on the book at length in my TBR Challenge Post earlier this month. So all I'll say here is that it was endearing, entertaining, required a hefty dose of suspension of disbelief, and had a few "British Empire attitude" uncomfortable moments.

The Writer's Life: Insights from The Right to Write by Julia Cameron
Categories: nonfiction, writing
Commentary: I picked up this book at the start of the year when I decided to start writing Morning Pages. I read it in January and re-read it this month in prep for writing up my June TBR Challenge commentary. 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 in my Morning Pages, I picked a page from this book and "discussed" it.

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
Categories: parenting, nonfiction
Diversity: Written by a male author
Commentary: Recommended by Bill Gates in his 2013 Summer Reading post. I started reading it last month, then put it down this month as books with long holds came due. Picked it up again just a few days ago. Hope to finish it by next month.