Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Book Report

I mentioned that I spent Sunday afternoon curled up with a good book. I've actually done a fair amount of reading lately, so I've got a Book Report!

First, there was My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent, the first book in her Soul Screamers young adult series. I'm too big a weenie to read her werecats books, but this one was right up my alley, since it focuses on a mythology/folklore that I find interesting. Teenager Kaylee doesn't understand why she has these freaky panic attacks where she gets the weirdest feeling that someone's about to die. It's even freakier when that person actually does die. She learns that this is because she's a bean sidhe -- a banshee -- and she has to come to terms with her heritage in time to find out why teenagers are suddenly dropping like flies, for no good reason.

Then I read Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire. Words cannot express how refreshing it was to read an urban fantasy book without a single vampire or were-anything (though I'm holding out for the were-giraffe) and that couldn't ever be mistaken for a paranormal romance. This one was much closer to a hardboiled detective novel, only involving the world of faerie. I had fun with this because that's a subject I've been reading a lot about, and I liked that the author was pretty disciplined in sticking to the one area of mythology instead of taking the "if one paranormal thing exists, then they all do" approach (aka "Vampires, wizards and demons, oh my!"). There were a few moments when I felt like she was trying a bit hard to make the heroine seem tough and to have a chip on her shoulder, but I suppose that comes with the territory in this genre and I may as well give up on having perkier main characters in urban fantasy unless I write them. Who knows, maybe I'm the only one in the universe who wants an urban fantasy heroine who wears pastel florals. This one was a real page turner with some intriguing world building.

For something completely different, my Sunday-afternoon reading was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, which is currently burning up the bestseller lists, and I can see why because it was an absolutely delightful book, what I'd fit into the category of comfort food reading. It was utterly predictable -- just a few pages in and I had pretty much predicted everything that would happen and who would end up together, and I'd even figured out the big revelation about one character because it's practically required by law that all characters of that type will be that way -- but it was predictable in a good way in that these were for the most part the things you wanted to happen, and that meant the book was satisfying and a feel-good read. It's definitely not one of those that suddenly has to pull the rug out from under you and give the main characters an unhappy ending in order to appear literary. The story involves the residents of one of the Channel Islands during World War II, when they were the one part of Great Britain occupied by the Germans throughout the war. It's told entirely through letters and other written forms of communication as a British journalist right after the war gets a letter from a Guernsey farmer who had bought a used book with her name and address in it and who wants to know if she knows more about that author (I guess that's what people did before Google). The letter references the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and she's intrigued, so she writes back. Soon, she's corresponding with the people of the island, who tell her about their wartime experiences, how their group was formed and how books and reading helped get them through the war. Eventually, she travels there herself to research a book and gets caught up in their lives. I alternated between laughing out loud and weeping, and it's the kind of book you close with a sigh and a smile. It would be a great choice for a multi-generational book group because it might spur some discussion about wartime memories. It hit a number of my buttons -- involving books, England and WWII, told through letters, and involving a hint of romance. Add a dragon and a sword fight and it could be one of the best books ever. I've always found the idea of the Channel Islands intriguing, and now I want to go there.

In other news, Amazon says that they have one copy of Enchanted, Inc. left, with more on order, and it's been that way for a few days. I really wish someone would buy that one copy because it's bugging me. It makes me realize that not even one copy a day is selling, and that's depressing.

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