I completely skipped this meme last month, but I’m not going to make up–frankly, between traveling to the conference and then spending nearly 2 weeks in bed while attempting to displace my lungs to the outside of my body, I read a LOT of books this month! I hope you did too because reading is fun, and doesn’t require a lot of energy.
Deadly Harvest: The latest in the Detective Kibu series and really good. It begins when a young girl, on her way home from school and dreaming already of Christmas although it’s only September, accepts a ride with a man and is never seen again. The police aren’t too concerned–no one cares too much about an AIDS orphan living with her aunt. (Did I mention this is Botswana?) However, when more girls disappear, it becomes apparent that a witch doctor is operating in the area and kidnapping, murdering and dismembering bodies to be used in muti–a powerful occultic potion. Based in part on true stories, this book was darker than the previous one I read in the series, and goes more in depth while still showing us Kubu at home enjoying his wife and daughter and good food and wine.
The Sisterhood: This is almost a fantastic book. It’s a really fun read with great characters and a plot woven back and forth between 16th-century Spanish nuns trying to survive the Inquisition and a modern college student who’s trying to research an obscure Spanish artist. My one complaint was this sub-plot that showed the author read and was influenced by the Da Vinci Code. I found it annoying and detracting.
Equal of the Sun: A Novel: This historical fiction tells the story of Princess Pari, a 15th-century Iranian princess who was her father’s favorite and really his protege, the one whom he taught all that is needed to run a kingdom. But when he dies without naming an heir, all is thrown into turmoil, as Pari lives in a time and place that will not allow a woman to rule, especially given her abundance of brothers. The story is told from the point of view of her eunuch and closest advisor, Javahar and is a tale of political intrigue.
However Long the Night: Molly Melching’s Journey to Help Millions of African Women and Girls Triumph: The subtitle of this book really rubbed me the wrong way. However, the book takes place in Senegal and I couldn’t resist at least giving it a try, and I’m glad I did. The book turned out to be really good and they should change that subtitle! It is the story of an American woman who didn’t want to be the Great White Saviour but instead just wanted to educate women in ways they’d understand culturally, which she learned by listening to them. The women of the Senegalese villages are the real stars of the book, which is quite inspiring and worth a read.
Cover Her Face: The first of PD James’ books. I enjoyed it, but it lacked a lot of the psychological depth of her latest works.
Death Comes to Pemberley: PD James’ foray into fanfic. Sort of. It follows on what happened 6 years after the end of Pride and Prejudice, and is all about Elizabeth and Darcy and Lydia and Wickham and all. At first I didn’t like it but I kept on with it because I was too tired to get up and find something else, and then I kind of got into it. It’s not bad at all, but I really don’t get the point of books that follow as sequels of other famous books, as they’re never as good as the original. Nor is this as good as James’ normal stuff.
I also read two other PD James. I decided to read all the Dalgliesh series in order, because why not? I was sick as a dog. I sent Elliot to the library with a list, and he came home with #10 and #12 in the series, so I read those. Then I decided I was better enough to move on.
I also reread, for the umpteenth time, most of the Narnia books. Apparently we have lost both our copies of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Sigh. Also reread a Bess Crawford mystery. I like mysteries when I’m sick.
The Honey Thief: Beautiful, fascinating collection of tales from the Hazara people of Afghanistan. It starts a bit slow but soon I was captivated by the loveliness of the stories. There’s Hameed, a boy without common sense with his head in the clouds, who ends up being given a copy of Huckleberry Finn in Dari, which ends up rewarding him in a surprising way. There’s the Englishman nicknamed “Try Again” because he keeps returning to the remote village to photograph the snow leopard, an animal the villagers have never seen and do not believe exists. There’s the Hazarat man who emigrated to America and became very rich, now returned dying, to beg forgiveness from the grandson of a man he wronged. It’s a gorgeous book. These are the stories of a people, a tribe, but especially a village. The author has captured them before they could be lost to time, but he has also written them in English so we can enjoy them too.
Elizabeth the First Wife: I’m really enjoying this one–it’s smart, funny, and light-hearted. Elizabeth teaches Shakespeare at a community college in Pasadena and is content to live in the shadow of her over-achieving family and ignore her ex-husband who’s now an A-list Hollywood star. Suddenly he’s back in her life, persuading her to spend the summer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR, helping him not make a fool of himself doing As You Like It.
The Abundance: A Novel: Do you ever start a book, enjoy it tremendously, but somehow put it down because you have a deadline and then not get back to it? This book is lyrical and beautiful, but I started it a really long time ago and need to finish it. It’s about first and second generation Indian immigrants in America. I’ll finish it soon and let you know what happens.
If You Were Here (the latest Alafair Burke)
Oh Dear Silvia: A Novel (written by British comedian Dawn French)
The Water-Babies This is a new special edition. Of course I’ve read it before, but when Elliot was little we had an abridged story book of the tale, and it was his favorite for a long time. So I’m looking forward to revisiting Tom the Chimney-Sweep and his life in the stream. Victorian fairy tales are the best!
Augh. What was I thinking? Elliot is graduating next month, we have invited everyone we know to the party (if you haven’t gotten yours yet, don’t worry–I’m famous for my procrastination! The invitations are addressed and on the table. Just come), ALL the inlaws are descending upon us, and more. When will I have time to read all these books? Sigh. They all look really good though, and there’s a camping trip in there that will give me lots of reading time, so it will happen.
What about you? Is your June crazy too? What about this month? What did you read that I should be adding to my wish list?