Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recent Reads and Recommendations, Spring 2011

Here are some books I've read in recent history and thought particularly good. Some are rereads, some first-timers. All good in very different ways, some better than others. Have you read any of these? Any recommendations of your own? I'm always looking for new reads!

1. Cordelia’s Honor—Lois McMaster Bujold
An interesting sci-fi . . . a bit of a “romance in space,” but with intriguing plot twists. If you’re looking for your next Isaac Asimov, skip this one. If you’re looking for a fun, snappy, longish adventure with plenty of romance and intrigue, this might be just for you! Rating: P-13 for sensuality (the main characters are married).

2. The Enchanted Castle—Edith Nesbit (reread)
I adore Nesbit! This is one of my favorites . . . a great read-aloud with children (or with your new husband, whatever the case may be!). Nesbit is a true genius. Seriously! Rating: G

3. Richard III—William Shakespeare
The ultimate villain! But historically unlikely. Read for the pleasure of Shakespeare’s language and wit, not for any historical information . . . and possibly balance it out with Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time just to be fair to poor Richard. Rating: N/A

4. Gaudy Night—Dorothy Sayers
Brilliance! Slow-paced at the beginning, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Take the time to get into it, into these characters. Great mystery and even greater romance! Wonderful insight into the life of a writer. This one gets the Adored status. Rating: PG for some scares.

5. Gone with the Wind—Margaret Mitchell
Epic . . . Some say America’s version of War and Peace. Great writing, great pacing (especially considering how long this book is!). Definitely recommended. Rating: PG-13

6. Tombs of Atuan—Ursula Le Guin (reread)
Scary, atmospheric, and heavy despite its brevity. I enjoyed it, though. If you’re in the mood for something darker, give it a try. Rating: PG for frightening moments and dark themes.

7. Rose Daughter—Robin McKinley (reread)
This is a book to read if you’re in the mood for poetic language and rambling prose. McKinley takes her time developing the plot and the characters, but I so enjoy her processes. Gorgeous fantasy. Rating: PG

8. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen--Alan Garner
Strange book, but excellent. One of the scariest children’s books I’ve ever read. Actually, though the protagonists are children, I wouldn’t call this a children’s book. Interesting and unusual fantasy. Rating: PG-13 for frightening moments.

9. Elidor—Alan Garner
Again, a strange book. But fascinating. This man is in a league all his own, though he is heavily influenced by Robert Browning in this story. Read it! His endings are unbearable and wonderful all at once! Rating: PG

10. The Foundling--D.M. Cornish (Book 1 of the Monster Blood Tattoo series)
Another slow-paced book, but worth the time it takes to gain momentum. Interesting world building, beautiful illustrations, and I loved the character of the Monster Hunter. She was excellent! Rating: PG

11. Demon: A Memoir—Tosca Lee
Not bad at all. Lee deals with some interesting subjects and writes some beautiful imagery. The message of grace was presented with great elegance as well, which I loved. Rating: PG for some frightening moments.

12. The Great Divorce—C.S. Lewis (reread)
One of the most beautiful and challenging books I have ever read, for all it is very short. Such a perfect picture of the Heaven we reject and the Hell we cling to. Rating: PG

13. A Wrinkle in Time—Madeline L’Engle (reread)
Great children’s book! Startlingly profound. I don’t agree with all of the message she preaches, but when I read it this time, I was surprised at the depth and understanding she packs into this relatively short novel. Definitely recommended! Rating: PG



Thanks!!! Have you read Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul? It's a WONDERFUL book!!!!

Faith King said...

I've read "A Wrinkle in Time" so many times I've lost track (including once as an audio book read by Ms. L'Engle herself!) The climax never ceases to move me. When I was in college, I took a Children's Literature class just for the heck of it (the perks of block tuition), and Wrinkle was part of the curriculum. I came to class on discussion day all excited for everyone's reaction and was shocked when almost nobody in the class liked it at all. In retrospect, I can see how for most people it's probably quite inaccessible. Just another example of how I sometimes forget that not everyone in the world is a sci-fi/fantasy nerd.

Thanks for the book round-up. A couple of these have caught my attention!

Martin LaBar said...

I'm going back over your older posts, and was pleased to find this one.

On Cordelia's Honor, by Bujold, your assessment is on target. However, when I read the book, I was surprised to discover that Cordelia was portrayed as a Christian. See here
for the evidence.

I've read most of the books you mention, but I'll just say that The Weirdstone of Brisingamen is, indeed, scary, especially if the reader has claustrophobia.

Thanks for the post.