March in Books

I am a tad bit late with this, but I blame the election. Now I am going to have to go back and remember what the hell I’ve read. It might be difficult – the brain pan doesn’t hold as much info as it used to…

March Break Reads…. 

I finally understood the meaning of “vacation reads” and only brought easy-peasy, fun reads on our trip to Chicago and Madison.

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate) by Gail Carriger

I loved this book.  In fact, I loved it so much, I totally ignored my sister that I hadn’t seen for months and my family that I can never see too often to read while they played cards beside me.

19th century Victorian England. Alexi Tarabotti, a 25-year old spinster with not a little bit of acerbic ‘tude, does not have a soul, which means that she is like an antidote to any supernatural. For example, if you are a vampire and you are thinking of making her dinner, your fangs will instantly disappear the minute you touch her.

Enter the sexy alpha werewolf Lord Maccon, and a dead vampire, some wonderful steampunkish moments and you’ve got yourself a hilarious, sexy gruesome romp.

Vacation reading Grade: 5 out of 5 Gin and Tonics.

 Darklight and Tempestuous by Lesley Livingston

These are number two and three of Wondrous Strange, a Young Adult novel  I listened to on audio book in the summer. They follow Kelly Winslow, a 17-year old girl who is living in New York and pursuing her dream to become an actor. Each novel is centered around a Shakespearean play (A midsummer’s night dream for the first, then Romeo and Juliet  for Darklight and The Tempest for , yes, you guessed it, Tempestuous).  It begins in the first when Kelly rescues what she thinks is a horse from drowning in Central Park. She meets the Janus Guard Sonny and  learns some surprising new info about herself. 
I can’t really say much more without giving anything away, but the trilogy is a fun romp into the world of urban fantasy. It is a fine series from a newcomer on the scene of YA lit. I do remember being a little disappointed with the ending though- it happened to fast and furious. Still. Good to give to those who are fans of Melissa Marr’s wicked lovely series or Holly Black’s Valiant.

Thus concludes the March Break Reads

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Wanting to refresh my memory about this book, having last read it over 20 years ago (Gasp. Still getting used to the fact that I was a sentient being 20 years ago), and wanting to see the new movie (which I never did. Oh well. Wait for it to appear on Netflixx or something) I re- read it. And was blown away.

I couldn’t put it down. Whereas Wuthering Heights was all about petulant, fiery, passionate characters who were hard to like much less sympathise with, Jane is a plain, decent, highly intelligent and rational being.  She has a high sense of morality without being a bore, and sticks up for herself in a straightforward, passionate manner. I can see why they called this the first feminist novel.

Add the Gothic element to it, some nasty relatives and an even nastier preacher and you’ve got yourself a great read. It was a fitting end to my 19th century lit fest of that last couple of months. Just a note- the only problems for a modern day reader I think will come in her romance, at least with this modern day reader (I don’t want to spoil anything here). Here feminist is laid aside for some hard to swallow, condescending love talk. But the sickly sweetness of this encounters are few and always counteracted by Jane’s common sense.

Having read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights so close together, I have to say the Brontë sisters intrigue me. It is like Charlotte got all the sense and Emily all the destructive fiery passion. Which I am sure is not at all true. Note to self- pick up a biography soon!

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (Book Club Read)

The Imperfectionists is a book about the lives of people working for an international newspaper in Rome. The newspaper is what connects them, and although the characters inevitably get mentioned, or pass through the story of each protagonist, they are more of a closely connected collection of short stories than a linear plot that follows one main character.

Having said that, each story takes place around the same time: the beginning of the end of the paper.  Between each chapter is a flashback to a different time in the paper’s history.

Written in clean, terse prose, the characters all have a love/hate relationship with the paper. The ‘dépaysage’ of the expat is a theme that flows through the novel as well as loneliness (which I have come to suspect is in every story) and regret.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S King

Why should you ignore Vera Dietz? Because her best friend since they were toddlers and love of her life just died and has been blamed for a horrible crime. The months leading up his demise he also betrayed her.  And to make matters worse, Vera knows the truth but doesn’t want to tell.

  Vera Dietz is a high school senior and full-time pizza delivery technician. She has a wry, sardonic voice counterpointed by moments of grief and loneliness (see?) and yes, fear. Her mother left when she was twelve and hasn’t been back since and she is being raised by her sedate but loving father.

This is a novel about confronting one’s demons as well as doing the right thing. That sounds trite and pedagogic, but I don’t mean it to be. Vera’s journey of self-discovery is painful and realistic (Kind doesn’t pull any punches) as is the ultmate redemption at the end. A very interesting, tight little Young Adult novel.

Audio Books

Death’s Daughter by Amber Benson

When I heard Amber Benson of Buffy fame (she played Tara) was also a writer, curiosity got the better of me and I had to pick up the first book in her series about Penelope Reaper-Jones, yes, you guessed it, Death’s Daughter.

Well, picked up is not quite accurate, unless you call downloading it to my ipod and then picking up my ipod “picking it up”. Still.

So. The book. Liked the concept. But that was about all. At the beginning of the book we find Penelope trying to make her way in New York’s coveted fashion world but stuck in a dead end job at a Home and Garden publication. She has put a forgetting charm on herself so that she could leave all the Death stuff behind, but it is broken by her father’s satyr assistant, a fashion-conscious Englishman/goat with a snarky sense of humour. It turns out that her father and all the board of directors at Death, inc. have been kidnapped and if Penelope doesn’t step up to the plate to replace her dad, her family will lose their immortality.

But to be death, she has to complete three tasks, assigned to her by a board of Gods. And she isn’t the only one after the job. Enter death’s minion Daniel, who has been promised the job by Satan.

It read a little bit like an adult, pantheistic version of Percy Jackson and the lightning thief, but with way more running commentary and product placement. Penelope’s soliloquizing got a little bit much (especially since Benson had no problem actually using that verb to describe her musing, along with philosophizing – for example: Benson could have used a better editor, I philosophized). But the story was fast-paced and funny in parts. Sort of a chicklit is the grim reaper book. You’ve got your Prada shoes and your monsters and your heroine who is worrying about said Prada shoes when she is in the middle of a desert in hell.

It was okay, but if you are looking for some good escape reading, I would go with the first book on this list- Soulless.

C’est tout, mes amis! Except for now it is May and I have to do April’s books….

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