Friday, September 30, 2011

September books!

The #s represent the position read in year to date. I am closing in on my goal of 115 and and am contemplating upping it to 125. I want to see how October pans out before I do that.

76. Chicks Kick Butt, Rachel Caine and Kerri Hughes, Eds.

This short story collection of women writers with strong female characters was pretty darn good. It was a mix of authors I had read, others I wanted to read, and a third group that I had never heard of. My GoodReads synopsis (because I can't remember the story names at this point):

My favourite stories: "In Vino Veritas," Karen Chance; "Monsters," Lilith Saintcrow; "Nine-Tenths of the Law," Jenna Black; and "Monster Mash," Carole Nelson Douglas.

My interests definitely don't cover fey, necromancers, or nearly incomprehensible Norse mythology, so a few of these stories were less relevant to my sci-fi/urban fantasy interests. But you definitely can't go wrong with a bunch of kick-ass heroines.

77. Rosamund's Revenge, Madeleine Conway.
I had a great piece of luck picking Mario Vargas Llosa's book off the cheap books table at Christmas Tree Shop, but the last time I went it was covered in crappy romance novels. And I figured I would try one out to see if I was missing anything. At the very least I was hoping for a good old fashioned bodice ripping.

Well, Conway ripped something, but it wasn't a bodice. NO BODICES WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF THIS BOOK. I am disappoint. Anyway, it was a bad rip off of Pride and Prejudice.

78. The Lady Matador's Hotel, Cristina Garcia

Another entry in the magical realism genre and I absolutely loved it. Garcia uses an interesting story framing device -- it's told from the perspective of several characters at the hotel over the course of the week, as well as the local media in an unnamed city in Latin America. The conclusion is quite obvious, but it is well worth the read.

79. A Single Man, Christopher Isherwood

A man struggles to live life after his longtime lover's death. Also an interesting framing device -- positing us in as clear observers of the main character as almost a subject in an experiment, but watching him go through the motions of his life in a day.

80. Caesar's Women, Colleen McCullough

Book 4 in a series on Ancient Rome. McCullough posits that this story is really about the...errr...women around Caesar, but they are merely a framing device for the great man himself. And boy does she have a crush on him. It's very detail heavy -- I learned more about the Roman Republic in this book than I ever did in all the studying I did in Latin class and in the few history classes I took on Rome. If you can get through it, it's well worth it historically (even if Phil disputes her take on Marcus Tullius Cicero ;).


81. Living Dead in Dallas, Charlaine Harris.

What can I say? I really am enjoying these books. They are remarkably easy to get through and they're just like brain candy. Bits of problematic takes on race and sexuality crop up from time to time, so beware of that. And I can't get how all these supernatural people just find Sookie sooooooooo irresistible

82. Club Dead, Charlaine Harris

See #81.

83. The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, Simon Winchester.

I learned many new words! The story was a bit thin to be stretched out like it was, but I also loved the historiography work he put in on it -- the history of dictionaries is something we kind of take for granted. And the impetus for the book was an interesting anecdote in the annals of history. (PS: Americans helped write the OED. Including a guy from Troy NY!)

84. A Palace in the Old Village, Tahar Ben Jelloun

A man moves his family from Morocco to France to earn a better life for them. As he reaches retirement age, he realizes that it may have been a mistake -- his family has become Frenchified and barely recognizes the heritage he tries to give them. It's an interesting look at a generation gap and the ideas of the parents versus those of the children.

85. Dead to the World, Charlaine Harris

See #81

86. Dead as a Doornail, Charlaine Harris

See #81

87. Rat Girl: A Memoir, Kristin Hersh

Hersh is the former lead singer for the band Throwing Muses. I knew of her from her solo efforts -- when I belonged to a Michael Penn fanlist on Yahoo groups, the members were raving about her, so I checked out her music. I saw her promoting the book on Twitter and during Borders' closing sale I picked it up. It's an unconventional memoir of an unconventional woman -- she started performing in bars at 14. During a year of her life in 1986 she ended up becoming diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she had to struggle to adjust to that diagnosis. It's an interesting way of presenting a time in her life where she says she doesn't remember much of it.

88. The Second Duchess, Elizabeth Loupas.

You knew I couldn't stray from my historical fiction for long! This one is the story of Barbara of Austria, the second wife of Alfonso d'Este, grandson of Lucrezia Borgia. His first wife, Lucrezia de Medici died in strange circumstances and he is believed to be the cause. As she is learning the lay of her new land, Barbara also must deal with the rumours of her predecessor as well as dodge whoever may be trying to kill her too. Also told from the perspective of Lucrezia's ghost, it's an interesting murder mystery in Renaissance Italy.

89. Definitely Dead, Charlaine Harris

See #81

90. To Be Queen: A Novel of the Early Life of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Christy English.

I am a sucker for all things Eleanor of Aquitaine. She's one of my favourite historical personages and I can't get enough takes on her personality, either fictionally or historically. This book delves into her early life -- her rise to power in Aquitaine and Poitou, and her marriage to King Louis of France. English does a pretty good job of keeping us on Eleanor's side -- my only critique is that she keeps Eleanor at a bit of a distance from us. Otherwise, I almost think it makes a great bookend to Alison Weir's "The Captive Queen," a novel of Eleanor and her second marriage to Henry II of England.

91. All Together Dead, Charlaine Harris

See #81, although I want more Sophie-Anne Leclerq. Just saying.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

*TAP TAP TAP* is this thing on? Hello?