December 9, 2008

devilsbroodcovOh, dear! I’m behind on logging my books again. I stayed up until two a.m. on a school night to finish Devil’s Brood, by Sharon Kay Penman, one of my favorite novelists. Since I’m firmly convinced I was there in a previous life, I was delighted to delve into the next installment of the saga of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitane. Once again, I’m floored by how fiction-like fact can be; Penman is a stickler for the historical record. Let’s talk dysfunctional family — those malcontent Plantagenet scions took rebellion to a whole new level.  And I was pleased to see Ms. P is planning yet another volume, picking up with Richard II and Eleanor, seguing neatly into Here Be Dragons, the beginning of her heartbreaking Welsh trilogy.  Two broom sprigs up!

Another book I have to mention for completely different reasons is He Forgot to Say Goodbye, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, author of Names on a Map, mentioned below. A devastatingly gorgeous delineation of two teenage boys coming to grips with the gaping holes in their psyches left by their fathers, this is hard reading at times. Ben’s poetic command of language and his masterful juxtaposition of the converging storylines makes for an ultimately uplifting book.

October 4, 2008

Before I dive into prepping for my Texas Book Festival panel, I’m reading Labyrinth, by Kate Mosse. So far, I’m LOVING it! It’s everything the Da Vinci Code was not — namely, well-written and character-driven. Okay, so they have the Holy Grail in common. But that’s about it.

September 2008

I’m behind on entering my reading lists. Here’s what I read in August and September:

A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray

Dragonhaven, by Robin McKinley
Robin McKinley is another of my must-read authors, and oddly enough, my reaction to Dragonhaven was very similar to my response to General Winston’s Daughter. The premise of the book was intriguing, and McKinley deftly drew a believable modern world in which dragons coexist with humans. But it just kind of rambled. Now I’m going to get a copy of her new book, Chalice, to see if that McKinley magic is still there. That reminds me: For you Twilight freaks, Sunshine is even better!

I know I read a couple of other books, but I can’t remember what else I read! That’s what I get for not weighing in right after finishing a book!

August 14, 2008

General Winston’s Daughter, by Sharon Shinn
I’m a big fan of Sharon Shinn‘s “Archangel” and “Twelve Houses” series, so whenever a new Shinn book appears, I have to wolf it down. General Winston’s Daughter seems slighter than her other books, enjoyable yet a bit slow and thin. I still haven’t read Reader and Raelynx, the latest installment in the “Twelve Houses,” so that will be up for me soon.

July 2008

Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer

It was time to see what all the fuss is about. I can see where Twilight speaks to teenage girls, but the dang thing is easily 100 to 150 pages too long (editor, please — do we really need to be told over and over about Edward’s “crooked smile”?). And I’m trying to figure out how Meyer can extend this for three more books. I’m still undecided about whether to go for it and read the rest of them before the movie comes out. There’s something about this book that reminds me of Robin McKinley’s Sunshine, another tough-girl-meets-vampire story that was much stronger and much more intriguing.

May 31, 2008

The Heretic’s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent (Coming this fall from Little, Brown, & Co.)

The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry (Coming in August from William Morrow)

I just finished a galley two-pack of unrelated novels set in Salem, Massachusetts, both highly — and rightly — touted by their respective publishers. I’ll be writing more on these later.

Names on a Map, by Benjamin Alire Saenz (HarperCollins)

A lyrical, engrossing nonlinear portrait of a family waiting to hear from the draft board in 1967, Names on a Map is Ben Saenz’s shining gift to us in a time of war, bringing it home.

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