What have I been reading? Well it’s been a productive month. I don’t know about you, but when my husband travels I revert to my college-age self and pretty much stay up till 1 or 2 a.m. every night. So here’s a summation of some of what I enjoyed this month:

The Distant Hours:I read Jennifer’s review and thought this sounded good. It’s a great book, well worth being grumpy and sleepy for the next day if you find yourself staying up to finish it. She calls it “a book-lover’s book” and the description is apt. This is a novel of secrets kept hidden for a generation; of searching to find out origins of local stories that have become mythic; of unearthing a family’s past pain. I don’t know if I’m making it sound good but it really, really is. It starts with a letter posted in 1941 that is delivered in 1992. Intrigued? Yes?

The Flight of Gemma Hardy This one publishes next month, and I didn’t realize it and read it early in December (I sometimes get advance copies for 5MFB). I couldn’t put it down. It’s an homage to Jane Eyre; in other words, the same basic story, with all the main elements, set in Scotland and Iceland in the early 1960s. It’s very well-done and I really liked it. I don’t like fan fic usually–I don’t care what Darcy and Elizabeth did next. This is because I am secretly a terrible snob, and new authors rarely get the “voices” or characterization quite right, in my oh-so-humble opinion. But this one works, because it is different enough that it’s a new story, but you have fun identifying the familiar elements. My review comes out on Jan. 11th at Five Minutes for Books, and there will be a giveaway so you definitely want to enter! (My other exception is Wide Sargasso Sea, which is a telling of the story of Jane Eyre from the point of view of Bertha, the “mad-woman in the attic” and is excellent.)

Dark of the Moon I thoroughly enjoyed this new look at the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, told as historic fiction with a fresh look at how stories fade and change to become legend. It’s YA. Ilsa and I both really enjoyed it. Really well done.

Winter Town a YA novel about a boy and girl who’ve been friends since they were little but who are now facing a real challenge to their relationship, which is now conducted entirely during Winter breaks. He’s a straight-A student, highly motivated, highly-pressured by his dad to get into an Ivy League school and do well. She’s from a broken home, spends most of the year with her mother down south, and has suddenly appeared wearing only black, with extreme eye makeup and chopped hair. They still try to connect, and the story of them finding themselves and each other is rather heartwarming. Told partly in graphic form. (That is, graphic novel form; i.e. drawings)

The Time in Between: I ended up loving this one, but I will say that it could easily have lost about 100 pages without missing much. It’s worth a bit of extra verbiage though. A glimpse into a time and place mostly lost to history–Spanish Morocco during the Spanish Civil War and the first years of WW2.

Baking with the Cake Boss: a gorgeous book that’s basically like taking a course in patisserie. Yum!

No Graves As Yet I hadn’t read Anne Perry before but I enjoyed this suspense novel set during the build-up to WW1.

Currently Reading:

The Starlite Drive-in Callie Ann is only 10 and lives with a mother who won’t step outside (agoraphobia) and a father who runs a drive-in theatre and is verbally abusive to her mother. The novel opens when Callie Ann is 49 and they’re digging up the old location of the drive-in to put in a housing development, and they’ve found human remains. Hmmmm…. So far, very good.

The Invisible Ones Okay I’ve actually just finished this one and dang, it’s good. It looks at class system in Britain and the Romany in modern day and is a murder mystery to boot. I’ll be reviewing it at 5MFB soon.

The Night Sky: A Journey From Dachau to Denver and Back A Ukrainian immigrant searching for her real father, lost in Dachau, but not as a prisoner. Or was he? I’m not too far in but I have a feeling her father isn’t going to be admirable. Fascinating.

To Read:

The Street Sweeper

Hope: A Tragedy

The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works 2nd Edition Got this one for Christmas! I lost my old copy in one of our many moves, and lately I’ve been in the mood to re-read some of the plays; in particular King Lear and The Tempest. Oh, and Hamlet of course. Always. And it’s years since I’ve read The Merchant of Venice.

Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal Doesn’t this one look good? What a heart-breaking situation, and one I hadn’t heard of before. Can’t wait to read it, and I’ll let you know how it is.

And you? Did you get books for Christmas? Did you read anything you’d recommend this month? Do tell!