November. That time of year when the days get short, the evenings long and dark. Perfect for cuddling up with a good book! Or several good books. So here is a small selection of my recent reads to tickle your fancy.
For kids, big and small:
The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo
This 2004 Newbery Medal award winner is a story about a mouse, a rat, a maid, and a princess. It is a beautifully told story which brought tears to my eyes. There is heartbreak and redemption in spades to thaw the most cynical soul. Highly recommended for all ages.
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
This is a delightful pentalogy (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King) that is inspired by the Welsh countryside and Welsh mythology. It follows the adventures of a boy Taran, who dreams of beaing a big hero, but is only an Assistant Pig-Keeper. I found a lot to like in this series, although the ending has echoes of LOTR, and the rigid gender roles are very dated. The first and fourth books were probably my favorites.
For so-called ‘Adults’:
The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway, 2009
The premise is fantastic, and I love the wild plot of this crazy book. Much of the world has ‘gone away’ and it is up to a small band of warriors to keep the rest from drifting off too. Really, the book is about the idiocy of war and the soullessness of big corporations, which resonates with me. But I do have mixed feelings about it. I didn’t care for the writing style, which is over-wrought in a look-how-clever-I-am kind of way, and the multiple digressions. IMO, the book would have been better at 2/3 the length and fewer extraneous characters. But still, I do recommend it. It’s pretty unique.
The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold, 1986
This is the first book I’ve read by this author, and the second book in her Vorkosigan Saga. It follows the adventures of 18-year-old Miles Vorkosigan, who, despite his aristocratic birth and privileged lifestyle is deeply unhappy, because he is physically weak, and thus unable to join the military. So what does he do instead? Goes off and starts his own space mercenary fleet, quite by accident.I enjoyed this book a lot. I just didn’t like how hermaphrodites are referred to as “it”.
A Face at the Window by Dennis McFarland, 1998
Even the cover of this book disturbs me. Just look at it. It woke me in the middle of the night and I had trouble going back to sleep. Maybe I shouldn’t read horror. This is more on the literary side of the genre though, which somehow makes it worse. Bad things happen, there is no closure, either for the reader or the ghosts that haunt the protagonist. A protagonist which, I must add, I did not like.
Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip, 2005
To make myself feel better after reading the above book, I needed a comfort read. I picked up this one. Od Magic is a truly delightful book by the author of the Riddle-Master trilogy. I am really enjoying it. And it is not giving me bad dreams. I think I need several like this to get over A Face at the Window.
That’s it from me for now. In writerly news, I’ve sold audio rights to Markswoman and its sequel, which means I’ll get to hear my story told aloud. 🙂