Thursday, February 02, 2012

January Book Reads!

It's that time of month again, where I regale you with what I read. Last month's reading included 10 books. My goal is 120, while I am also reading 52 books from around the world. Those will be delineated with an asterisk.

01. The Three Musketeers*, Alexandre Dumas.

It's no Monte Cristo, but the adventures of D'Artagnan and his friends the three Musketeers of the title are entertaining. And the character of Milady is as fascinating as it gets in fiction. I rather wish (SPOILER ALERT FOR 200 YEAR OLD BOOK) Dumas hadn't killed her off, because she was a formidable foe. And I don't like the way she went out, it wasn't true to who she was.

02. Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher

Fisher's hilarious memoir of her substance abuse, her movie star family, and of course THAT MOVIE (George Lucas ruined my life is the title of one chapter!) kept me literally laughing out loud the entire time I was reading it. Can't wait to read more of her books.

03. Transition: The Story of How I Became a Man, Chaz Bono

A memoir of an identity search, Bono tells us how he always felt uncomfortable in his own skin. While his writing can come off as a little sexist, I think it's also his way of working through his issues with women and his shifting paradigm. I found it a fascinating read.

04. Bossypants, Tina Fey

I expected laugh-out-loud with this one. I didn't get it, but it also didn't disappoint. She reminded me of how much I loved (and still do) love improv. And I like that she didn't sugarcoat the glass ceiling for women in comedy. Highly recommended.

05. The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever, Julia Quinn

Julia Quinn writes good romance. Holy crap does she ever. Her heroines are Jane Austen-esque, but not in a rip off sort of way. And when she rips those bodices, dayum isn't the word! It's nice and refreshing to read a girly book that doesn't tax my feminist sensibilities.

06. Among Others*, Jo Walton

I will copy and paste my review from Goodreads because I think it sums this book up:
This book is the book for those little girls who grew up reading science fiction and fantasy, who were a bit outside of their peers, who were loners. This book is for me. And I loved the great use of historiography -- I have a wishlist chock full of scifi writers I hadn't even heard of thanks to this book. I know this year is young yet, but this is the best one I've read.

07. The Virgin's Lover*, Philippa Gregory

I keep trying and hoping that Gregory will recapture the magic from the first parts of this series. I am so disappointed -- there was a lot that could have been done with Robert, Amy, and Elizabeth. Instead she went for cliches. I wanted nothing to do with any of them after the first 30 pages.

08. Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Teresa Frohock.

A debut novel, this is the story of another world between ours and Hell. Lucian betrayed his lover to save his sister, but she didn't want saving. When he encounters the young Lindsay and saves her from Hell, he is given a second chance. A taut and gripping read, with just the right mix of fantasy and reality. I couldn't put this down. I couldn't believe this was a debut, because it was so intense and polished. Definitely worth a read.. It was my 2nd 5 star book of the year.

09. Some Dream for Fools*, Faiza Guène

The story of a young Algerian immigrant in France as she goes about her day to day life and struggles to keep food on her plate and her brother out of jail. I actually found this pretty funny -- I think that Ahlème is a very relatable character. Guène's characters are sparkling, and the scenes she spins are a great look at the underbelly of France.

10. 4000 Years of Uppity Women: Rebellious Belles, Daring Dames, and Headstrong Heroines Throughout the Ages, Vicky Léon

Like the women in war book I read in December, this book celebrates both well and lesser known women. I was happy to find a lot more emphasis on women outside of Europe and 20th century North America. They're short bits on each woman, but Léon has a bibliography for further reading.

Right now I'm working through 2 books: Smilla's Sense of Snow, Peter Hoeg, and World Without End, Ken Follet. They're slow going because they are long, and I will probably switch on and off from another couple of books in the interim. IN the mean time, you only have til 23 March to read THE HUNGER GAMES, dammit.