46) Katie's Redemption by Patricia Davids.
Amish romance fiction is one of those things I thought I'd never be interested in, but I happened across one of this author's other books earlier and enjoyed it enough to want to try her again. And while I don't know if it's an accurate portrayal of Amish life, I found it worked surprisingly well for me. For one thing, it reminds me of my mother. She passed away four years ago, and she loved gentle, sweet inspirational romances. Our reading tastes diverged more than they converged as I grew up, but I miss her, and reading something she would love feels good, you know?
Also, I don't read a lot of inspirational romance for the same reason I'm not a big fan of small-town contemporary romance--I'm a city-dwelling Episcopalian who grew up a rural Southern Baptist. I don't necessarily want to read books set in a world I chose to walk away from because they so often condemn people who've made such choices, whether overtly or covertly. But I was never anything close to Amish. It's not my world, so when, as in this book, a heroine chooses to return to the Amish church after some time in the "English" world, I don't react to it personally.
And finally, it's nice every once in awhile to read a gentle, quiet story where the stakes and characters aren't so over-the-top. Don't get me wrong. I like the big, the epic, the superlative. But sometimes I enjoy a story like this where the hero and heroine are just striving for a happy ordinary life. It's relaxing, and that's exactly what I needed this weekend.
47) His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik.
I read this book when it first came out--in fact, my reaction upon hearing someone had written a book reminiscent of the Aubrey-Maturin series, but with dragons, was, "Someone wrote a book just for ME?!?" I love it, and I've given it to someone almost every year in SantaThing, but this is the first time I've re-read it from cover to cover, and it's even better than I remembered. Reading it from the vantage of having read all its sequels, I can see how well Novik set up Temeraire's intelligence and independence and hinted at all the change and disruption he'll cause just by being himself. Wonderful, wonderful book.
48) On the Map by Simon Garfield.
A history of maps, mapmaking, and exploration. Interesting, but episodic, with brief chapters that almost stand alone--it would be the perfect book to have around in the bathroom, of if you want to read for 15-20 minutes at bedtime, without the fear of getting so hooked you'll be up at 3 AM before you know it.