Hey Friends! I'm not sure how much reading I'm going to get done these next couple months! But here's a glimpse at the books I read last month.
1) Still Life by Louise Penny. 4/5 stars. This is the first installment in a mystery series set in Quebec starring a detective named Armande Gamache. I don't read that many mystery novels, but the ones I do like involve well-developed characters rather than being strictly procedural. Like Tana French's novels, the mystery here is a jumping-off point to explore human nature. The main character reminds me somewhat of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot, the quintessential "gentleman detective."
2) The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos. 3.5/5 stars. I think binge-reading all four of Marisa de los Santos' book in one month wasn't the best idea . This book is not a sequel to Love Walked In and Belong to Me, but the characters felt very similar. We have the quirky thirty-something narrator trying to get her life organized, the super-smart and wise-beyond-their-years teenagers, the devastatingly handsome and wounded-but-willing-to-give-love-a-second-chance soul mate. This is my least favorite of the four books. Maybe just because it felt a little derivative, but there's also a creepy teacher-student plotline that I didn't enjoy.
3) Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos. 4/5 stars. I've recently become aware that my reading choices of late have been trending more and more towards what is apparently known as "educated chick lit." I've become increasingly hesitant to read anything too sad, too difficult. I've enjoyed my tour of Marisa de los Santos' work - I really do like her characters and writing style - But I think it's time to pick up something more serious, something that [gasp!] might not have a happy ending. This book is about three college friends who reunite after being estranged for six years and end up on a journey across the world. Thankfully, the characters are different enough from her previous books, which gives me hope for future books.
4) All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. 3/5 stars. In response to the above, I plunged straight into a book that was described to me as "devastating." It is a meditation on life and death and grief and forgiveness. How do you love someone who wants to kill themselves? Amazingly, there is a thread of grim humor throughout this book... The absurdity of life even in the presence of death. It's well-written and heart-wrenching, but I didn't "connect" with this book, with the characters. I can't really figure out why not. Maybe the subject is just too far [and I say this with the utmost gratitude] from my own life experiences.
5) The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman. 4/5 stars. I read this book when it came out last year but happened to see it at the library and decided right then to re-read. It's the final novel in a trilogy about students at a college for magicians and their adventures in a Narnia-style fairyland. Throughout the first two novels, the main character is almost intolerably frustrating. I know several people who didn't like these books because of his flaws. But I can't resist the allure of the magical world hidden just beyond our perception. And thankfully, in this book, Quentin has [finally!] grown up. Definitely my favorite of the three books.
Swede's Book of the Month: Dream Animals by Emily Winfield Martin. This might be the most beautiful board book I've ever seen! The illustrations are so gorgeous and the rhyming story about the animal friends who take children on their dreamtime journeys is very sweet.
Did you read any good books this month? Do you ever re-read books? What is your favorite genre... Mystery? Sci-Fi? Fantasy? Educated Chick Lit?