Oh, wait, there it is. I know, I know, just because I haven’t read a book in… two or three days, there’s no reason to panic. I’m just a little stumped over what to read next. Maybe I should try The Book of Three, again? But Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, is so annoying! Maybe that’s why Lloyd Alexander invented Eilonwy, so she could slap him around regularly? No, I haven’t reached her, in the book, but I did read The Black Cauldron not too long ago.
While I try and figure out whether to read some fiction or non-fiction next, I thought I’d do a reading ramble, since I haven’t written a “Saturday Books” post in a while. Sorry, when you’re trying to avoid spending money on books, then going into a Barnes & Noble is just flat-out dangerous! I think that eventually, I will be able to venture into one, safely, but for the moment, I avoid temptation.
Back during September through October, I was on such a non-fiction kick that eventually, I had to surface for some fictional air, which resulted in my reading ten fiction books in December. In fact, I finished one of them, ten minutes after we rang in the New Year, but I think that still counted as being read in 2012. Bringing my reading list for 2012 up to 111 books.
I started December by watching the movie trailer for Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. Not only did it cause me to go pick up a copy of Imagine Dragons’ album, Night Visions, but I realized that I finally needed to read the book. Yes, I enjoy the Twilight series, but my initial impression of her followup book was that it was something about being possessed, or about aliens, so I thought that sounded weird. Obviously, my first impression of reading the book blurb was wrong, and I found the book to be absolutely fascinating.
In a future time on Earth, our planet has been taken over by an alien race known as “Souls”. Implanted in human minds, they erase the human mind and make our world over in their image, one of perfection. Only a small number of humans still resist being taken over, once they realize what has happened. Among these, a young woman named Melanie Stryder is captured and implanted with a Soul known as “Wanderer”. But Melanie refuses to be erased, and Wanderer begins to learn what it’s like to be human. And when Wanderer/Melanie eventually find her human family again, they must work together to fight for their one life, as the humans do not trust this Soul that has taken over their friend’s body.
You may be a Twilight hater (remember, the books are better than the movies), but even if you are, you should give this new tale of Meyer’s a chance. The idea of fighting to remain yourself, when a new mind is trying to get rid of you, and then do you eventually work with that mind, hate them or befriend them? It’s a very interesting quandary, I think.
Then I did a quick re-read of an old favorite, Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End. I’m sure I’ve talked about this book many times, but this is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty that is well worth your time. When confronted with the reality of Rosie and her friends in the village of Foggy Bottom, you may never look at the classic tale the same way.
Next up, I found a copy of Lois Lowry’s Son, when I was at the library. Purported to be the fourth book in The Giver series, I was curious about this one. I have always loved The Giver, with its strange village that has given up feelings, color, and any type of choices in their lives. Of course, when you first read the book, you don’t realize that there is a lack of emotion, because you are hearing the story from the viewpoint of a child, who still exhibits emotions and cares for those around him.
I think I have read the second and third book in the series, but I have only vague recollections of them. One of them didn’t even involved Jonas, so I never understood (until now) why it was in the story. But Son is another tale of Jonas’ village, but from another viewpoint. A young woman is chosen to be a birthmother, a lowly position in their society, but nevertheless important, as they bring about the next generation. But time and time again, something goes wrong… with the birth, with the child, and with Claire’s understanding of her community. You find out why the story is attached to Jonas, and you understand why Claire must go find the son that she loves.
The second act of the book brings you to another village, by the seaside, shut in by cliffs of unimaginable heights, that only one person has ever climbed over. When Claire’s memories begin to return, she must find a way to climb out of their hamlet, and find her child. In order to do so, she must train her body vigorously for the climb. I found this second part of the tale to be excellent, as the training unfolds. But the end of the story actually fell a bit flat, and the finale was lacking something. It was like the effort involved in the first half of the book wore the writer out, and she fumbled to finish. But I would still say that everyone should give it a try, especially if you loved The Giver, which did win the Newbery Medal.
Well, with one movie trailer convincing me to read The Host, another movie trailer talked me into giving Beautiful Creatures a try. The trailer made me think it could be a bit of a knockoff of Twilight and the trend involving otherworldly beings. Witches, vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc… they’re all in style right now. And knowing that the movie was going to star both Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson would convince me to watch just about anything. Those two are actors of the first caliber.
I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures, and the adventure in the Deep South, though it didn’t make me want to read any of the sequels. Lena and Ethan are both likable, with the mystery of a strange song appearing on his iPod and eventually tying the two of them together. They, of course, can’t seem to deny their attraction for each other, and he (just like Bella in Twilight) can’t seem to say no, even when he knows that his life could be endangered by this forbidden romance. The memory of this book is already fading. I may go see the movie, because of Irons and Thompson, but though I didn’t openly dislike it, it holds no lasting interest for me.
Remember, I was on Christmas vacation, at this point, so I picked up a huge pile of books from the library, intending on reading anything that caught my fancy. One of them was Matched, by Ally Condie. In another future world, humans’ lives are completely controlled by their rulers, including who you will eventually marry. But because the Society always chooses correctly, young people look forward to the day when they are Matched, and the joys that comes with a marriage where they usually fall in love with their partner. Because it was the right person, of course.
But what happens when you’re delighted to be matched to your male best friend… and then there’s a glitch in the disc, and you see another face announced as your match? Has the perfect society made a mistake? Is it possible there is another “perfect” match for you somewhere out there? Young Cassia is faced with this problem and becomes curious to know more about her other match, even after she is warned away, again and again. Can having your choices made for you actually be wrong? And does someone else really know what’s right for you?
I have some opinions on the subject of love and marriage, especially the idea of an arranged marriage, though I never plan to have one, so this book really tickled my fancy. I know that love is a choice, not just a mushy feeling, and if you choose to love someone, you can make a lasting, wonderful marriage. But the idea that a government could possibly think it has achieved perfection, and applies it to their citizens, this is an interesting twist on the idea of love and arranged marriages. Yes, it’s a young adult fiction book, but I thought it was good fun, even though it’s not Dickens, for sure.
For Christmas, I had asked for a copy of Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, and I got it. I didn’t know much about it, except it was a bestseller and it had something to do with dragons. Of course, I’m a sucker for almost any fantasy that concerns dragons. From the start of the book, you’re thrown right into the middle of a royal murder, and at first, I was slightly confused. But eventually, I found my footing and really began to enjoy the twists and turns.
Young Seraphina is a musician in the royal court, and despite her obvious talent, often hidden by or criticized by her own father. Her heritage is a strange one that I won’t try and explain to you, you’ll have to read it for yourself. But because of how she was raised, her court experience is the first time she must step into the spotlight, especially when a Royal is murdered, and they believe it must have been a dragon. As the anniversary of a treaty with the dragons approaches, she must try and keep her rulers safe and help them to solve the mystery, while deciding what to do about her own history. By the end of the book, I was dying to read the next book in the series, and I think there are lots of young people that will enjoy this book, too.
I was forging my way through a library copy of Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder, when my brother received a copy of it for Christmas. The beginning of the book had left me unsure if I actually wanted to keep reading, because it couldn’t seem to decide whether it was a fantasy or a science fiction tale. Every time I thought I was on the right trail, I got thrown for another sci-fi loop, and almost kicked the book across the room. But then, I finally began to get hooked, and figured I’d better finish it before Jonathan did.
The story of two young boys with the gift for seeing paths in the air and reaching into the past takes them to lands beyond their imaginings. Young Rigg’s upbringing actually reminds me a bit of Louis L’Amour’s book, The Walking Drum, and how Kerbouchard was trained and educated for things he never expected. The boys run-in with Leaky and Loaf, and eventually heading to the royal city was fun, and it became much more interesting when the sci-fi twists finally began to make sense. The light began to dawn, and I forgave Card for all the confusion. When I finished the book, I was left uncertain of what the next book in the series would do, as the ending was unexpected. Want some twists, turns, and confusion? Then you’ll definitely enjoy this book.
With the New Year in sight and my wanting to get a few more books on my list, I pulled out Robin McKinley’s Chalice, which I hadn’t read in several years. This one touches just slightly on a shadow of the Beauty and the Beast tale, but just barely. Mirasol has unexpectedly become the Chalice for her demesne, when the previous Master and Chalice die in an unexpected accident. Her position is important, but she is completely untrained and must fight to keep her people and her land in one piece, as even the ground revolts without having a leader.
The only heir to the previous Master has become a Priest of Fire and may be so far gone into his Priesthood that he can’t return to the human world. When he does, he is not quite a man, and many of his people fear him. Mirasol, however, wants only to keep their land and people together and not deed their demesne to a distant relative that the land may reject. She and the new Master must learn how to be Master and Chalice, in a world that may not even want to accept them at all.
You already know that I love most of the books of Robin McKinley. This one is a beautiful tale of a young beekeeper that takes on a position greater than she’s ever known. Like all of McKinley’s stories, it’s a magical tale, in which she slowly inducts you into understanding what the position of Chalice entails, and why, perhaps, this particular young woman was chosen. Why a honey Chalice and a Master of Fire? I love this book, that’s all I can tell you.
New Year’s Even was spent swiftly re-reading Georgette Heyer’s False Colours, a romp of a tale set during the Regency period. With twins having to switch places to help each other, falling in love with the wrong person, and trying to save their delightfully impish mother from a debtor’s prison, it’s full of laughs and mischief. Maybe this isn’t one of Heyers best, as I think Lord Denville’s part of the romance is a bit lacking. But Lady Denville and Sir Bonamy Ripple have to be some of Heyer’s best characters, with the lady’s impish and mischievous ways of dealing with her awkward relatives, and Sir Bonamy’s huge girth and delight in beautiful women and delicious food. A true delight, as any Heyer fan will know. And as I always remind people, if you judge a Georgette Heyer by the genre, you’re an idiot. Heyer was the Queen of the Regency romance, and she has NEVER been bettered.
Ok, I’ve brought you all the way to 2013. I suppose I should stop for now, but I will try to do better, after this. Please feel free to check on my reading list, as I continue to work towards my reading goal without buying any books. No book purchases this year, at all! I’m one month into this, only eleven more to survive.