Sunday, December 21, 2014

2013 Reading, Books 130-135

130) The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

A beautifully written fantasy novel with a mythic, fairytale feel. It's more literary in feel than my usual reading, but a pleasure to read for variety. I came away from it thinking that while I don't envy Gaiman's talent in the sense of wishing I wrote like him, I wish I was as good a writer like me as Neil Gaiman is a writer like Neil Gaiman.

131) An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America by Nick Bunker

A history of the years immediately preceding the American Revolution told mostly from the point of view of the British, and one that places the Revolution in the larger context of worldwide economic and political events--e.g. you can make a case that the Revolution occurred when and how it did because in the midst of an economic crisis the British East India Company was deemed Too Big to Fail. :-/ A worthwhile read if you're interested in this corner of history, and one that makes clear that far from being a tyrannical power, if anything Britain lost the initiative and arguably the war by being too cautious and divided to take decisive action before it was too late.

132) The Lucky Coin by Barbara Metzger

An agreeable Christmas story with a fairytale feel--you have to accept the notions of lucky coins and love at first sight, something I'm not always willing to do, but found enjoyable for a lunch hour read at the end of a busy week.

133) Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

A writing craft book, and a pretty good one IMHO. I consider it worth the purchase price just for the advice in the chapter on editing to create a timeline for your story and to include what each character knows and DOESN'T know in every scene.

134) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

An unusual historical fantasy about the unlikely friendship between a golem and a jinni in turn-of-the-20th-century New York as both of them struggle to make sense of their new surroundings (Chava the golem is recently created, while Ahmad the jinni is recently released from a long imprisonment in a flask). It's well-written, with an intricate if slow-paced plot, and somewhat in the Star Trek tradition of exploring what it means to be human through the eyes of those who aren't quite.

(Incidentally, its current Kindle price is just $2.99, way lower than its print price and a good deal for a book of its length and quality IMHO.)

135) My Beautiful Enemy by Sherry Thomas

A fast-paced, sweeping adventure romance set in China and England, and so compelling I read it in a single afternoon.

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