Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May's Reading List

Ok, so I'm a couple days late on this one... It was a busy weekend at work (Double Discount Days) and I have been doing a small battle with some allergies. I know, I know... that's what I get for whining about winter dragging on so long.

May was another eclectic mix of titles. Teen fiction, a classic, the fantabulous Miss Mel's book, and a great late victorian puzzler... As of the end of May, I am now at 23 titles out of 100 for the Book Challenge.

  • Distant Waves - Suzanne Weyn: (3 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) Set at the beginning of the spiritualism movement in the early 20th century, the story centers around the daughters of a fraudulent medium. The family, after an unexpected encounter with an under-appreciated scientist named Tesla, moves to a community of spiritualists in upstate New York. The girls are raised surrounded by mystics (or at least those who claim to be), and the older two long to break free from their strange life. Events unfold to bring them, on separate paths, to England in the spring of 1912. One sister is destined to participate in an experiment that will change the world, another destined to find true love. I found the book a little rushed, especially in the latter half of the story. One very interesting element to the book though, was that the author included historical notes in the end... so that readers could sift through what was historically based and what was created for the story.
  • Pride & Prejudice - Jane Austen: (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) The epitome of regency romance... Lizzie and Mr. Darcy, falling in love despite the barbed wit of each. Who was prideful? Who was prejudiced? Will the nasty Mr. Collins ever shut up? I get goosebumps at the same point in the book every time I read it (when Lizzie receives Mr. Darcy's letter). *sigh*
  • Great and Terrible Beauty - Libba Bray: (4 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) Hearkening back to the great gothic novels of the 1800s, the story of Gemma and her friends, who discover they can enter the magical realms, is dark and brooding. What begins as innocent exploration of their newly acquired powers soon becomes something sinister as they accidentally release a long trapped dark entity. Do the girls have the power to overcome that which now hunts them? I thought the story was great, albeit a little cliched at points. I also felt that the girls had a much more modern outlook on their lives than what would be expected for the chosen time period. Still, I can definitely see the appeal for teen girls.
  • Navigating the Land of IF - Melissa Ford: (5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) First and foremost I want to thank Mel for writing this book. It is a tremendous step forward to read an IF book written by someone who has been there. The format of a travel guide is fabulous, and with her natural ease and humour, the book was by far the most interesting and easiest to read of any in this genre that I have encountered. I loved all the asides and extras included in each chapter. I think, especially for those new to the world of IF, this is a must read... and a great tool for all of us to help understand what others on this road are facing.
  • The Forgotten Garden - Kate Morton: (4.5 out of 5 hairy hobbit toes) What a fascinating book! In 1913, a small girl is found on a dock in Australia, having been abandoned on board before the ship ever left England. All she has with her is a small suitcase filled with some clothes and a beautifully illustrated book of fairy tales. She's taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her 21st birthday she learns that she isn't who she thinks she is. After several decades, she finally feels that it's time to search for her true identity. The story bounces back and forth between three continents, and spans an entire century. What is the secret hiding in the maze at Blackhurst Manor? Who is the Authoress? What is the bond that holds cousins, Rose and Eliza, together? Warning: Do not read this book if you like a linear story line, or if you easily lose track of characters. Morton switches up time periods and points-of-view with each chapter, but the over all effect definitely adds to the mystery. Also interspersed are some intriging fairy tales... One other interesting aspect to this story: one of the characters struggles with infertility. There are some passages documenting her grief over her 'failure' that could be taken from the pages of my heart. There were moments as I was reading where I actually caught my breath at the understanding the author has for 'our' plight.


  1. Super list! "The Forgotten Garden" sounds neat, I'll have to add it to my "to read" list.

    I started "Great and Terrible Beauty" last week and am really enjoying it thus far. Glad you liked it! :)

  2. Hmmm "The Forgotten Garden" does sound good. I might have to add that to my list as well.

    You know I have never read anything by Jane Austen? I think I need to read Pride and Prejudice.

  3. Pride and Prejudice is my faaaaavorite! After seeing the BBC version, I always picture Mr. Darcy as Colin Firth, and I *lurve* me some Colin Firth. ....dreamy sigh....

    I will have to add Forgotten Garden to my reading list, too. I'm not doing the challenge, I couldn't get that many done! But I just love reading before bed.


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