I don’t know about you, but I had a lovely month with my books. Especially as I’ve had ever so much time to read, thanks to a nasty bout of the flu that just won’t seem to go away. I’m now at the point where I’m better enough to feel hungry/go to work but after I eat/get there I feel all gross and blah, so I spend as much time as possible in bed, reading books. There are worse ways to go through life, I suppose.
So! This month, in the “finished that” category:
I adore Dorothy Sayers, and when I heard that they (“they” being Bourbon St. Books) were re-issuing the Lord Peter/Harriet Vane books with new covers and offering to send me new copies, I was, well, rather excited. Here’s a pic of my old copies for reference.
My editor, Jennifer, and I agreed that I wouldn’t reread the books. It was her idea. I’ve got a rather large stack of new books to review, and since I can quote chunks of these books I could easily write a review, point out the new covers, rail on Avon or whoever it was that published that whole series with THE SOLUTION TO THE MURDER (sorry, had to shout there) right there in the cover illustration (seriously, Avon? Seriously? So not cool. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, I guess).
So the new books came and I was very happy and I may or may not have done a spontaneous little dance about the room clutching them to my chest, which may or may have inspired my 15 year-old daughter to pronounce that I was “cute” and “adorable” and “now she could picture what I looked like at 8.” Yeah. Anyway. I did read them after all, at least the first two. Because it’s years since I read them and, well, new copies! Did I mention that? What book lover doesn’t want to read a new book?
I’m guessing you’ve already read Sayers and if you haven’t, my goodness, why not? Go now. Anyway. New covers, so much fun, get them, YAAY. Linked to my review, which shows off the new covers. Did I mention that? Shutting up now.
Death of the Mantis: I’m happy to have discovered another new mystery series. This one is based around a Batswana detective, a man who adores his wife and his baby, who loves to eat and drink South African wine, and who is bull-headed enough to solve mysteries when others want to take the easy way out. Really liked it! Highly recommend if you’re looking for a good new detective series. As we so often are.
Forgotten: Hmm. I will be honest. I felt the author had a really great premise but didn’t take it anywhere. Young, blazing-up-the-corporate-ladder lawyer takes an African safari at her dying mother’s wish, there’s a devastating earthquake and everyone back home thinks she’s died. Returns home 6 months later to find her apartment leased to someone else, her car in storage, her office given to her rival. So how much of her old life does she try to get back? Couldn’t this have been a great book? It isn’t. It’s chick-lit in the derogatory sense of the term. Guess who’s in her apt? Clue: he’s hot! he’s gorgeous! he’s from Irrrreeeeellllaaaandd! Blue eyes! Accent! Gag. I’ll leave it to you to figure out whether they get together or not.
Stockholm Octavo: Interesting. I enjoyed this one and managed to learn a little European history at the same time, which I didn’t know, which just goes to show they don’t teach the right things in our schools. I mean, honestly, have you ever even used algebra? No. Whereas I could’ve known something about the connection between Sweden and France just before the French revolution. This book is fun. Full of intrigue and dark alleys and card-playing and apothecaries with mystical herbs.
How to Love Wine: Written by the NY Times wine columnist. It’s good. You will learn something about wine. It’s also a memoir and a manifesto to not over-mystify wine, in the sense that we all bow down to the self-proclaimed “experts” with their tasting notes and grades over 100, but at the same time that we recognize that wine is mysterious and elusive, and that a bottle changes not only over time but even over the course of an evening.
Moranthology: This one is just fun, although I do feel the need to tell you I don’t agree with her on everything. Still, I would love to have a coffee with her. She’s hilarious. A collection of articles by Caitlin Moran, who writes for The Times of London. Reading it made me snort out loud in public, to the deep humiliation of Elliot, who was with me. Go read my review. It’s short. (Unlike this post)
The Lawgiver: The latest by Herman Wouk, still writing books at 97. Gosh that makes me feel like such an underachiever. A fast, enjoyable read, told through emails and memos and skype conversations between a large group of people who write/produce/develop/cast a new movie about the life of Moses. Highly enjoyable.
Iron Hearted Violet Also enjoyed this book. It’s a middle-reader, a fairy tale about the power of words and the power of belief too, and how what we believe affects our actions. All this wrapped up in a delightful tale about an ugly princess and her stable-boy friend and a cowardly dragon. I just want you to know this isn’t of the “believe in your heart and you will know your way” crap that Disney shoves down our throats. It’s much more subtle and better. Basically, an evil god tells Violet that a real princess has to be beautiful, and tells the people that they deserve so much more than the very good king they’ve got, and stuff like that. And they do believe him, with disastrous results. Could spark some really good discussions with your kids. My only complaint is that the illustrations throughout make the ugly princess really rather cute. I wanted her to be, well, ugly outside anyway, as that is one of the main points.
“Who Could That Be at This Hour?” (All the Wrong Questions): Did you read The Series of Unfortunate Events? Then you already know what to expect. This is the first in a new LS series and is lots of fun, full of word plays and puns and strange events. LS stars in this one as a kid asking all the wrong questions.
Courting Cate: Someone had the brilliant idea to set Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew amongst the Amish. It makes sense, because where else could a dad forbid marriage for the younger till the older is married nowadays? A fun, fast read. Christian fiction.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared: Allan, at 100, is bored with life. He climbs out the window at the home where he lives and takes off. An unpleasant young man at the bus station asks him to watch his suitcase while he goes to the bathroom, but the bus comes and Allan gets on board with the case. The chase is on. Allan makes unlikely friends along the way, and terrible things keep happening to the bad guys. We’re also told the story of Allan’s life, and boy has he been everywhere, including being an observer of some major events of the last 100 years. Quirky and amusing.
Flight Behavior: Actually I just finished this one. It’s so good, you guys. Kingsolver at her best is a joy to read. She is seriously talented. As usual, it’s got lots of natural science in it and Kingsolver makes no secret of her own personal views. But here’s another thing I loved about it, aside from the sheer brilliance of the writing: prob most of her readers are educated and liberal-leaning, but she’s set it amongst poor, undereducated people in the Appalachians and so manages to show both sides. This is something that our nation so desperately needs–the ability to see the other side as people, with valid reasons for their hopes and fears. (Ok some aren’t valid. But you know what I mean) And the writing, the writing, the writing. Exceptional.
Sweet Tooth: I am so excited about this one! The latest Ian McEwan. Did you read Atonement? (NO the movie doesn’t count! Seriously?) Atonement was so good, and so true on many levels. I might start it today. I am trying to get better by staying home. Or I might watch Netflix all day. We’ll see.
Gaudy Night: What? I haven’t reread it yet. Did I mention the new copy?
The Woman Who Died A Lot: A Thursday Next Novel: Will get to this one soon. The latest Jasper Fforde, which I am seriously behind on.
An Extraordinary Theory of Objects: A Memoir of an Outsider in Paris: just started this one last night. A memoir written by a woman who’s family moved to Paris when she was 12, and it rocked her world. (Aside: experts on families moving internationally would agree. You’re not supposed to go overseas for the first time when your kids are between about 11 and 18. I’ve known of cases where it was fine though) So far so good.
Rennefarre; Dott’s Wonderful Travels and Adventures: A fairy tale written in Germany in the time between the world wars.
This post is too long. I do realize that. If you have managed to make it through to the end, please leave me a comment telling me that, and telling me what you’re reading/have read this month. Are you thankful for books? I am!