Sunday, January 29, 2012

Books: week four (and a word about the Whitney Awards)

Another week with partially finished books. Sigh.

I read Alexander McCall Smith's, Bertie Plays the Blues, and really enjoyed it. Bertie is such a fascinating character. Strangely enough, my own little boy seems to grow faster than Bertie does--now that they're almost the same age, I love Bertie even more because I can see some of my son in him. Smith has a gift for fleshing out ordinary characters in extraordinary ways.

I also read Gail Carriger's Heartless. I read the first of her Parasol Protectorate series some time ago and then hesitated to start the rest--not because I didn't enjoy it (Victorian manners, paranormal activity and steampunk?), but because the end was, well, a little *warm* for me and I worried that the series would only get warmer once the MC was more established in a relationship (this isn't really a spoiler--it was pretty obvious early in the book).

I discovered my library had the next three books and figured if the scenes got too hot to handle I could always stop. Unfortunately, I wasn't paying enough attention to the order of books and wound up reading book 4 instead of book 2--and was halfway through the book before I realized that. (I'm now working through book 2). I do prefer my books in the right order. I still enjoyed the book, although not quite as much as the first one. Sometimes the language feels just a little stilted and artificial to me, although Alexia is a great character.

I also started Ann Patchett's State of Wonder, which was gorgeously written. Unfortunately, I read the ending early (a very bad habit of mine that I'm trying to break) and now I'm not sure I can go back and make myself finish the rest. Not because the writing wasn't strong or the characters interesting, but because I'm not sure I'm in the emotional state to handle it!

Anyway, that's my week in books. I imagine next week will bring more Gail Carriger, but hopefully some things with a little more substance as well.

I signed on to help with Segullah's Whitney vote (the Segullah staff gets collectively one vote for the Whitney Awards) and I'm really excited. The Whitney Awards for anyone not familiar with it (I hadn't heard of it until last year) are awards given out to the best publications by LDS authors by LDS publishers (Deseret Book, Covenant) and national presses. The list of finalists comes out February 3, and I then have two months to read as many of the books as possible (I'm not spearheading Segullah's vote, thank goodness, but I did volunteer to cover YA, YA speculative, and speculative general).

I used to be quite skeptical of LDS fiction, but that was before I realized how many great LDS authors were out there. And since I hope someday to be part of that community . . . . Anyway, does it make me weird that I'm so excited to read these books?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Books: week three

This was the week that I started reading too many books at once and am still only half-way through some of them. (I'm hoping I'm not the only reader who does this!)

I did manage to finish a couple of books:

Jennifer Weiner, Then Came You. (I keep reading Weiner's books because she has such smart, fascinating protagonists. I really liked the idea of a community of women that came out of this book--I'm less fond of Weiner's habit of inserting some fairly explicit scenes in her novels. I get that people sleep together--I just don't need to know the details!)
Alexander McCall Smith, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding (I love Precious Ramotswe. His No. 1 Ladies detective agency books continue to be interesting--even into the, what is this, the 12th book in the series?)

Books I started but didn't finish:
Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races (a beautifully written book--the only reason this keeps getting pushed back on my list is because I own it--all the others are library books, and new releases at that, so I can't keep them long).

Rae Carson, Girl of Fire and Thorn

Hopefully by next week I'll actually manage to finish these!

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 reading list: week 2

I thought I was fairly busy last week (I had a horrible head cold and a big freelance project), but apparently I wasn't too busy to read.

Amy Chua, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (for book club)
Georgette Heyer, Bath Tangle (re-read; Heyer is one of my go-to comfort author when I'm sick)
Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, The Future of Us (as someone who went to HS in the mid 1990s, it was fascinating to remember how different technology was then. The premise here was really interesting, but I never felt really connected to the characters)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

On Being Ordinary

I'm over at Segullah again, talking about some of the challenges of an upcoming birthday.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Something Stale this way comes

Namely, the state of this blog! In my defense, I've been posting more frequently with a blog I started with my awesome critique group partners: Okay, so "frequently" really is only about twice a month, but that's an improvement here.

I'm thinking, though, that this would be a great place to record the books I've read this year. I tend to read a lot--more especially now that I'm trying to take myself seriously as a writer--but I also tend to forget a lot of the books I've read. I don't have a particular goal for this year, but I'd like to see where I end up at year's end.

So far, I'm off to a good start (having a vacation from school helps!). Here are the books I've read so far for 2012:

Julia Golding, Dragonfly (Interesting, but I probably read it too fast as I discovered it was due back to the library that day and someone had placed a hold on it so I couldn't renew it!)
Matthew Kirby, Icefall (loved this! You can read my review here)
Kirsten White, Supernaturally
And I'm two-thirds of the way through Laini Taylor's Lips Touch Three Times. Taylor has a lush, gorgeous prose style, so I've enjoyed the stories, even though I don't always like my fantasy quite so dark. (I did love her Silksinger series, and I'm looking forward to her Daughter of Smoke and Bone)