Story of a Girl

This is a story about Deanna, a small town girl whose dad caught her in the back seat of an older boy’s car three years prior to the story’s start.  Her life (mostly unfairly) has been defined by that moment ever since, but this is the summer where she begins to move forward, forgiving (sort of) herself and those who hurt her.

It’s well written, with sparkling dialogue, and though I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the ending, there’s enough hope there that I don’t hate it.  Well worth reading.

Thanks, Mom.  You were right–it is a good book.

 

 

The Left Hand of Darkness

This book immersed me in a world of cold and ice, where devious politics threatened to overwhelm me–and the androgyny of the people seemed among the most normal things about them.

As Le Guin says in her introduction,

Yes, indeed the people in it are androgynous, but that doesn’t mean that I’m predicting that in a millennium or so we will all be androgynous, or announcing that I think we damned well ought to be androgynous.  I’m merely observing, in the peculiar, devious, and thought-experimental manner proper to science fiction, that if you look at us at certain odd times of day in certain weathers, we already are.

It’s a testament to the power of Le Guin’s words that I actually read the introduction. Normally I skip such things.  But once started on this one, I couldn’t stop.  The book was lovely, but the introduction has given me food for thought for days.

Thank you, Craig.  Great gift.

Shanghai Girls

A beautifully-written book about two sisters who are chased from their beautiful life in 1930s Shanghai to the US by their father’s gambling debts and the Japanese invasion.  The characters and setting are very well drawn, and the plot is both enlightening and heartbreaking.  Immigration to this country has never been easy, especially for those who have to deal with racism on top of the trauma of leaving their homeland.

The ending doesn’t give me as much closure as I prefer, but I still found this a very, very good book.

Circle of Gold

Recommended to me by K, this is a beautiful tale about a young girl whose family is weighed down by grief, and the lengths that girl will go to to show her mother love and earn her mother’s approval.  It’s more serious than K’s usual fare, and that’s all to the good.  (There’s nothing wrong with cotton candy, but I don’t think it should become a staple of our diet.)  At any rate, this is a good story, well told.  Definitely worth reading (and it takes no time at all if you’re used to adult-length novels).

Outlander

I’ve been meaning to read this for months because one of my critique group members recommends everything by Diana Gabaldon.  And yet, somehow, I hadn’t managed it.  I think I was half afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype.

But it really is that good.  The characters and settings are rich, the plot engrossing, and the romance fresh and satisfying.  I’d read it again.  I might even want to replace my e-book copy with an actual book.

Tainted Mountain

It’s always fun to read books by the nominees for RMFW Writer of the Year.  Digging into this lighthearted mystery by Shannon Baker was no exception.  The heroine is a great character, and though I figured out the mystery sooner than I’d like, the ending was still a very satisfying (though bittersweet) surprise.  I may try to pick up some more of these.

Murder by Misrule

I think it’s tricky to have true historical figures in a novel, and even more so when said figure is a main character–and the main plot is not historical.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed this mystery with Francis Bacon as the leader of a group of amateur sleuths.   The characters are well-drawn; the details enlightening, and the mystery itself intriguing.

Does My Head Look Big In This?

This is a frequently funny, occasionally poignant story about an Arab-Australian teenager who decides she’s going to start wearing the hijab full-time (including to her private school.)  It dives right into serious issues without making them seem at all heavy (faith, women’s rights, cross-cultural communication, the immigrant experience, getting along in families).  It also touches on lots of lighter teenage experiences.  It was a fun, worthwhile read.