Quick Lit [March]

Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (cavities not included) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.pages of the book as a bird flying awayAfter 10-book-January, I really wasnt suprised to hit a lull month right away. I am a little bit perplexed at it continuing well into March, but not too concerned. I have too many other goals I should focus on this year to worry too much about my reading goals–as long as I am reading.

LANDLINE  Rainbow Rowell
Rowell has written four books, and Landline was the only one I hadn’t gotten to yet. I knew it was quite a bit different from E&P and Fangirl, both of which I marathoned through at the end of last year, so I didn’t mind waiting a while on the holds list.

I liked Landline. I know I’m not alone in feeling that it didn’t live up to everything I adored with Rowell’s last two books, but withough the comparison, it’s an interesting women’s fiction sort of book with a magic phone mixed in for kicks.

THE RED TENT Anita Diamant

Last July. Andie took me to the Newberry Library’s book fair (after getting over her disbelief that I’d never heard of the thing). I was immediately disappointed that it was the last day and that I only had a few minutes, but I managed to pick up four or five books anyways.

And then I read none of them. Nothing I’d bought had actually been on any of my TBR lists, and I was reading a lot more recent books, so the stack just graced my shelves (an admirable purpose, but still).

Till for no apparent reason last month, I declared that enough was enough with all of my unread paperbacks, and picked one more or less at random (ie, from the closest shelf to my bed.) And was hooked, like, instantly

The Red Tent won me over so fast that I could probably justify a cliche about whiplash. It was right up my alley, even if it was an alley I’d forgotten about for awhile: historical/biblical fiction.

You have to go into a book like this expecting the author to take artistic license, and if you can do that, it’s beautiful.

Seraphina-cover

SERAPHINA Rachel Hartman

I just finished rereading this last week, but I don’t want to wait to write a few words about it, because by March Quick Lit I fully intend to be gushing about the sequel. (Which is currently ‘out for delivery.’ Which, weirdly, doesn’t always mean it will definitely come today.)

I. Love. This. Book. I’d forgotten how good it is, but rereading it was brilliant. When I like a book this much, I’m much more aware of how inadaquare I still am at reviewing and at explaining a book, but I can try.

“I became the very air; I was full of stars. I was the soaring spaces between the spires of the cathedral, the solemn breath of chimneys, a whispered prayer upon the winter wind. I was silence, and I was music, one clear transcendent chord rising toward Heaven.”

Hartman’s writing isn’t always this lofty sort of stunning–that would get cumbersome–but it is always good. Seraphina is a brilliant protagonist. She’s cranky sometimes, and I love that. The story tells you she’s smart, sometimes in particular ways that make sense with her particular background, and the character doesn’t betray that.

I look forward to writing about the sequel soon!

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Books, Lately [November]

I’ve finished two books since October 1st.

Oops.

(And one of those was a proofreading job—but if I say it counts, it counts!)

Before that, I was pushing to meet my year goal early—and I did!—and I think once I did that and the external motivation was gone, I relaxed a bit. I’ve still been reading, if not as much, but I haven’t been good at committing to finish anything besides these two below.

Also, I’ve been knitting. A lot. More about that later, but it’s butted into a lot of the sorts of times I normally would read: bus rides, solitary lunches, just before sleeping, standing in lines, walking, etc.

I’m kidding on the knitting while walking. Mostly.

 

Notes from the Valley  Andy McQuitty

Andy does dark humor very, very well in this book about his spiritual journey through cancer. The book is a sort-of series of letters, from Andy to anyone following behind him in the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Notes releases January 1.

 

 

 

 

 

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making  Catherynne M. Valente
I had this floating around my TBR list for a bit, but that never could have lasted long: I mean, have you read that title? Yes, I would like to read this, please and thank you.

I was mildly disappointed, but only because my expectations were thrown off. It moved slower than I expected, but once I got moving I liked it. It wasn’t a “must know what happens next!!” book for me, but it’s quite good.

I’m part-way through book 2 now, and am becoming increasingly invested and interested as I go.

 

That’s it. Again, oops. I’ve got my paws in 7 or 8 books right now, and I just can’t seem to commit to finishing anything—but I’m enjoying it well enough, and that counts for something.

And there’s always next month!

 

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Books, Lately

Read Letterpress

It would seem I’ve taken a break from all things non-fiction, but I swear it’s only half true. And thank goodness, because that was my biggest, main-est reading resolution for this year: to read more non-fiction. While there’s none of it here, I’ve been slowing eeking my way through several different non-fics, and hopefully I’ll be able to get them in next month!

In the meantime, look! Books!

Honeymoon in Paris: A novella  Jojo Moyes

This novella takes you a few years before each of the dual-stories in The Girl You Left Behind, following both Sophie & Edouard’s and Liv & David’s honeymoons in Paris. Quick read, interesting conflicts, enjoyable story. It’s hard for me to tell, having read this second, but I’ve heard others say this is a nice read even without reading Girl You Left Behind  first.

 

The Interestings  Meg Wolitzer
Initial draw: that cover. Final conclusion: enjoyable for the most part, but a bit too long and aimless. Still, probably a 3/5 for the times I was really liking it.

 

 

 

One Plus One  Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes ALL THE TIME. Apparently. And yes, I do intend to now go back and read all of her less recent books.

I mean, I do intend to read books by other authors. (Maybe.)

Ahem. It was geeky and fun and I liked it very much.

 

Summer Falls and other stories Amelia Williams, Melody Malone, Justin Richards

And then let’s throw in some Doctor Who, because why not? There’s three stories here: one children’s story by “Amelia Williams,” a mystery by and starring “Melody Malone,” and a murder mystery with Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax.

I liked the connections — both subtle and not to much — between these stories and the show’s main canon.


 

& on the docket for next month (provided I finish everything), is: Bird by Bird, Torn, Fight Club, Big Little Lies, and hopefully something else non-fic.

 

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My doomed-from-the-start January reading plan

This year, I didn’t exactly make new years resolutions. What I did do is make this sort of convoluted plan to spend different months focusing on different things I want to learn/change/improve and working on different smaller goals. A month and a half into the year, I’m still trying to get the slightest idea of what that should look like.

The only area it actually made immediate sense in was some reading plans.

First, I made a reading goal. Because Goodreads tells me to (and Goodreads is the best thing that ever happened to my literary life). Background: In 2012 I read 44 books; in ’13 I upped that by a whole 4 more books. Seeing as I finished school in May, and therefore ought to have had much more time to read, I had slightly higher hopes for myself. 
 
Now, I’m going to lie to you and say that  I don’t care about the number — and have no concern with the fact that a blogger I follow reads something like 120 books in a year, on average. I promise with my fingers crossed that my reading goals for this year will have nothing to do with quantity and will totally focus on quality and diversity of material. (Fingers crossed and I promise you a pony if you can prove I’m lying — and the words “I’m going to lie to you…” don’t count.)
 
Here’s more (actual) truth: I AM going to have to focus more on quality and diversity and silly things like educating myself this year, because of one very important, sad fact:
 
Out of 48 books in 2013, only two of those were nonfiction. And of those two, one was a collection of essays on Hunger Games (The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy) and the other was Bossypants. (Do you see a trend? I see a trend.)
 
So here’s the plan for 2014: 60 books. If I pass it, great. If I greatly surpass it, wonderful. If I miss it? Well, I won’t, because I’ll just gorge on novellas in the last two weeks of December to make it happen. (Ever since I started setting goals, I’ve done that. It’s silly, but I would never have read Lewis’s very quick, very good The Great Divorce without that silly habit, so it has it’s upside.)
 
Back to that weird, segmented 2014 plan. Second: after setting a reading goal, I began planning mini, monthly reading goals (using ‘shelves’ on GR). January, at one point, had nine books. I was crazy — especially since this wasn’t just my easier fiction of yesteryear. But realism set in (sort of), and this is what my January plan ended up looking like:January Reading List
 
I was already rereading Divergent and Insurgent to refresh what had happened in the trilogy before tackling with Allegiant (the end of which I still haven’t fully come to terms with, so Ali, I’m still planning to respond to that email. I’m still processing!). Sorry. In short, I didn’t count them.
 
Six books. That’s potentially achievable, right? Erm, nope. As of this past week, I’ve finished Allegiant, Neverwhere, White Umbrella, and a great middle-grade book called The Wednesday Wars. 
 
And those last two I finished a few nights ago. In the middle of February.
 
Suffice it to say that this plan, as a rigid structure, was doomed from the start.
 
But that’s alright. Of course I was going to struggle getting used to new genres, and of course I’m going to constantly slipping in novels that I don’t plan. The point was to read more — and to read more specifically. And there’s more to this than just picking what books I want to read ahead of time — I’m also using this as a way to group books together where I want to spend one, two, or three months reading about a specific topic, issue, or even just genre.
 
What does that mean for my current mission to turn this into an active blog? I’m going to keep note of what I’m reading, and I want to learn how to decently review a book — and that will go here. I’ll try to share why I’m picking books, and what I’m getting from them along the way. (I might even just tell you about all the books I keep buying at Open Books even though I may never get around to reading them.)
 
I also plan to fill you in on what I’m concentrating on in a given period. For February (and March, because really, that list ended up with twelve books… so maybe April too), I’ll be focusing on working through quite a few books (and dozens of articles I’ve set aside) on feminism, women’s roles, women in the church, Jesus feminism, women in general, etc etc. I’ll write about that in a couple of days (or, really, within the month at least. Realism. And baby steps.).
 
For now, go use Goodreads. It’s grand. And you can look at my list so far for Feb-March (https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/5179510-jenna?shelf=to-read-feb-march) and add me!
 
What are you reading right now? Do you write about the books you read anywhere? And, most importantly, do you have any suggestions on how to best use Goodreads, reading plans in general, or when it’s justified to give up on a book that’s dragging?