Sunday, June 30, 2013

2013 Reading, Books 61-63

First of all, my apologies for the light posting of late. I'm ultra-busy between now and RWA, really between now and A Dream Defiant's release date on 7/29. Starting in August, I plan to resume my regular posting schedule, including re-starting my Random Cookbook of the Week project.

Anyway, I've managed to squeeze in some reading time, albeit not as much as usual.

61) The New Mind of the South, by Tracy Thompson.

Thompson, like me, has deep roots in the Deep South--her family has been in Georgia for many generations while mine has been in Alabama since there was an Alabama, longer if the tradition that we have Creek blood is true. (Though this book brings up something I've long suspected--that a lot of white Southerners who believe they're part Cherokee or Creek are actually part black. One of these days I'd like to go through 23 and Me to get my ancestry composition just to see how true my family tree and family legends actually are. I'm less curious about the health risk genetic testing, because I don't need to see my DNA to know I'm at high cardiac risk. Simple family history and the fact my blood pressure already runs borderline high tell me that for free.)

Anyway, Thompson and I are also alike in that we've chosen to live our adult lives away from our native soil--she's a reporter living near Washington DC, while in Seattle I'm as far from the Deep South as you can be in the Lower 48. She's a bit older, so her youthful memories are of the 60's, while mine are of the 70's and 80's, but the South is no longer the place we grew up in, for better and for worse. I'm not sure how interesting this book would be for someone without Southern roots, but I found it a fascinating exploration of the less racist but more conservative, more diverse but less rural and sadly sprawl-plagued South of today.

62) A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan.

A charming fantasy novel--I especially loved the narrative voice--set in a world resembling and obviously based on the Victorian era--the technology is at the steamship level--but with dragons. The heroine and narrator is an aristocratic woman willing to defy society's strictures on women to study dragons, and in this volume (I expect there will be more) we see her childhood, youth, and first expedition.

63) Bounded Lives, Bounded Places: Free Black Society in Colonial New Orleans, 1769-1803, by Kimberly S. Hanger.

More research for the New Orleans WIP, mostly confirming and adding detail to my previous reading on the subject. Surprisingly, the decades of Spanish colonial rule were the best time for the free black community in a lot of ways, compared to earlier French and especially later American rule--their numbers grew through liberal manumission laws, and they were treated with a fair amount of respect, if never quite equality, within the community.

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