Lost in a Good Book, Jasper Fforde. B.
After reading and loving The Eyre Affair, I couldn't wait to read the next Thursday Next novel. More literary detective work, but far less plot. It was a little boring and lackluster when compared to The Eyre Affair, and I didn't like Thursday as much in this one.
A Curse Dark As Gold. Elizabeth C. Bunce. B-.
A re-telling of Rumpelstiltskin, which twisted a lot of the elements from the Grimm's fairytale. The beginning of this books was so slow. When it felt like months had passed, it turned out to be merely days, or weeks, if one was lucky. I couldn't form attachments to the characters, either.
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons. B.
Flora Poste, 19, has been recently orphaned. She sets out to live with relatives in the country, being penniless and homeless. Flora is a less-fashionable version of Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse. This book was hilarious, although somewhat plodding in plot. An interesting thing is that the book was published in 1932 (I believe), but set a few years into the future. The satire is obvious, and its point clear. And if I ever happen to own four cows, I'm going to name them Feckless, Aimless, Pointless, and Graceless.
Stardust, Neil Gaiman. A.*
I read this book when I was twelve or something, and hated it. The next thing I ever read by Neil Gaiman was Good Omens (co-authored with Terry Pratchett), about a year ago, which I really enjoyed. So, when I was perusing the shelves at the library a couple of weeks ago, I felt it only fair to give Gaiman another chance. And I'm glad I did, too! I loved Stardust the second time around. The novel is about Tristran Thorn, who lives in the English village Wall (so named because of the Wall that separates the village from a fantasy world). Tristran Thorn swears to find and bring back a falling star, in order to win the hand of a certain young lady in marriage. Tristran sets out across the wall, and finds not only a star, but a couple of witches, and a few members of a highly dysfunctional family (among other things!). It's clever and entertaining, while being very well-written for a plot not entirely without cliches.
A Passage to India , E. M. Forster. B.
This novel is set in India during the height of English colonization there. The theme centers around the relationships between the Indians and the English living there. There's a bit of mystery and romance, set amidst striking descriptions of India. I remember reading somewhere about Forster's Indian lover, and while reading this book, I felt that a lot of elements were autobiographical, and obviously, his descriptions of India were made vivid by his having been there. My one complaint about this novel was the overuse of pronouns. It was hard to keep track of who "he" or "she" was, when it would go considerably long lengths without mentioning any proper names.
The Swan Kingdom, Zoe Marriott. B.
This is a re-telling of "The Wild Swans" by Hans Christian Anderson. Which is disconcertingly similar to the Grimm's tale "The Seven Swans". Now I'm a little confused as to who wrote what first, and whether Hans Christian Anderson took his fairy tales from local tales as the Grimms did. Anyways, The Swan Kingdom follows closely to the Hans Christian Anderson version, and is very predictable. I much prefer Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, which sticks to the Grimms version. Not a bad read, however, but not terribly good.
By These Ten Bones, Clare B. Dunkle. B.*
I thought I'd give this werewolf tale, set in Scotland, another chance as well, but it still did not thrill me or strike me as particularly worth reading.
Mira, Mirror, Mette Ivie Harrison. C+.
Now, this novel starts off being very unique. Mira's sister, a witch, turned her into a mirror. The only human attributes that she retained were the ability to speak, see, hear, and think. The mirror has the power to alter appearances, but power is derived from the death of a living creature, meaning that the mirror must kill to retain her magic. When a runaway comes along, Mira uses this to her advantage. The themes of this novel are the value of beauty, the price of power, and the necessity of unconditional love despite everything. Sounds fabulous, right? Well, the author's writing is too slow and plodding. In an effort to achieve subtlety, she "beats around the bush" and lacks decisiveness. I think was trying very hard to reach profundity, but came across as cheesy instead. The plot which starts off unique, goes downhill fast with unbelievable characters making uncharacteristic actions, and a pathetic ending.
Maledicte, Lane Robbins. B+.
This novel is about pure, savage vengeance. Miranda will do anything to avenge the kidnapping of her lover. She disguises herself as a man (even going so far as to drink a poison that permanently damages her voice, making it rougher and deeper), in order to take revenge, stopping at absolutely nothing. It's a dark, violent novel, but well done, and I definitely recommend it if you're looking for vengeance or a cross-dressing female lead.
The Queen’s Soprano, Carol Dines. B-.
Queen Christina of Sweden abdicated her throne in order to become Catholic. She set up her court in Italy, where she held considerable stature. At this time, any woman who sang in public was basically considered a whore. Angelica, a tradesman's daughter, has an unbelievable voice. She winds up becoming the Queen's favorite singer, and has to sacrifice a lot in order to sing. Apparently, Angelica was a real person, and the events in this book are real. The book wasn't badly done, but it wasn't anything special either.
The King’s General, Daphne du Maurier. B-.
A novel about star-crossed lovers in the English Civil war. It's full of passion and action, but by the end, it seemed like nothing had been gained or learned by any of the characters, making it seem a little pointless. Not my favorite by du Maurier.
The Torrent and the Night Before, Edwin Arlington Robinson. B+.
This is a small book of poetry written by Robinson as a young man. He published it himself, and distributed copies in order to gain recognition. I didn't find any of this out until after I had read the book. It made the mediocrity of some of the poetry understandable, though. While reading it, I was struck by the maturity of the content, contrasted with some poor rhymes and rhythm. It was clear, though, that Robinson held great potential. He did improve, and I have a book of his later poetry in my stack from the library. I am eager to see the difference.
The Scent of Magic, Andre Norton. B-.
A pretty nondescript story about a girl with an aptitude for magic and a kingdom at stake and whatnot...
Anansi Boys, Neil Gaiman. B.
A funny story about a man who finds out that his dad was the trickster god. Fat Charlie's life wasn't so great to begin with, and that was only the beginning...
M is for Magic, Neil Gaiman. B.
A collection of short stories. There are some good ones, some "okay" ones, and a very unique one called "Instructions", which was my favorite.
Love and Honor, Randall Wallace. B+.
This is historical fiction from the man who wrote the screenplay to "Bravheart". I bought it on that reason alone. It was worth my time and money. It's about Kieran Selkirk, an officer in the American army who is sent (in 1774) on a dangerous mission by Benjamin Franklin. Selkirk must go to Russia, and see to it that Catherine the Great does not form any kind of alliance with the British. He faces many dangers, the least of which being exposure, in order to see his orders through.
Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer. D+.
I'll be the first to let you know that I am not, and have never been, a fan of the Twilight series. However, I have an OCD tendency to finish reading books/series once I've started them, usually despite (or perhaps because of) my dislike. I always found Stephenie Meyer's writing to be extremely clunky and irritating. Where one word would do, she adds two more that mean the same thing. Which is how many people (and myself included, more frequently than I would like to admit) talk. That is not what I want to read. From what I can remember of the previous 3 (and I only read them once, as they came out), this factor has improved (slightly). However, the last novel has so many ridiculous and over-the-top events and happenings, that it was laughable. I can't give more details without spoilers, so I think I will write an in-depth review, with spoilers, and post it on my journal or in a book community.
The Little White Horse, Elizabeth Goudge. B.*
This is a sweet little children's book. It is easily classed as a fairytale, having all the ethereal qualities that one would expect from such a story. It is unique in the fact that, fairytale it may be, everything in this book is perfectly probable. It's an odd feeling when you read a fairytale, then realize that it is feasible. Unfortunately, it did not have the same entertainment value now as it did when I first read it several years ago. But, Elizabeth Goudge's prose is so elegant and beautiful, that it is still a delight to read.
Discussion is welcome!