To Have and to Hold - Jane Green
Great book, although I found it to be rather different in tone from her others. Not as light-hearted, not as humorous. A much more serious book, about a woman whose husband is a "serial adulterer." I enjoyed the characters, and the way the story developed. I'd recommend. (Library book)
Dr. Ernest Drake's Dragonology (The Complete Book of Dragons) - Edited by Dugald Steer
This is a GORGEOUS book which I picked up serendipitously at Borders (or B&N, can't remember which). It's a facsimile of a book originally published in 1895; a guide for the dragonologist. It's a natural history of dragons, including information on different types of dragons, how to work with and study them, famous dragon slayers and dragonologists - there is tons of great stuff in here. I spent an afternoon diligently translating riddles from the ancient runic dragon language, and yes, my face is reflected in the "dragon eye," which means I have the "innate wisdom and affinities with dragons" to become a true dragonmistress.
And, okay, so I know it doesn't really belong in the "nonfiction" section, but it's just beautiful. Lovely illustrations, "dragon scales" and things embedded into the pages, little envelopes with "handwritten" notes inside. What a lot of fun. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who loves dragons. It's one of the more beautiful books in my library. As Wheezy would say . . . "LOOOOOVE it!" ::grin:: (Part of Permanent Collection).
Guilty Pleasures - Laurell K. Hamilton
Kinda like Buffy the Vampire Slayer grown up. (Although I guess Buffy did grow up in the series, didn't she, but I stopped watching before she'd graduated high school ::grin:: Plus, this book was written before there was a TV series). This book wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it. Not sure what I was expecting (maybe something a bit less modern). Fast-paced, at times a bit *too* fast. There were a few passages where I had to read and re-read, and I still wasn't entirely sure what had happened. But I liked Anita Blake (the vampire slayer) - she's tough and funny. I'm not sure I like these enough to get hooked, but I do think I'll get the next one from the library and give it a try. If I continue to enjoy the characters as much as I did with the first book, I'll probably get sucked in and read the whole series. :-) (Library book)
Sexing the Cherry - Jeannette Winterson
I'm honestly not sure whether I liked this book or not. It was very strange - full of fantastical things that can't be imagined as really happening - but there were also profoundly beautiful moments which probably couldn't have happened without all the surrealism. If it was much longer, or a slower read, I'd have given up on it before the end, I only kept going because, by the time I realised that I wasn't sure I liked it, I was already more than a third of the way through, and decided to just keep going. I'm not even sure how to describe the book - it's mostly set in 17th century, civil war-time London, told alternatingly by the grotesque "Dog Woman," and her foundling child, Jordan, who becomes an explorer. There are elements of fairy tale and fantasy, and horror, as well (although the violence is described in what I'd call a "whimsical" way that it's not gory, but perhaps equally disturbing for the very lack of weight given to it). There are some descriptions, though, which I found horribly vivid and unpleasant. In a broader sense, the book touches on issues of time, space, continuity and reincarnation. At least reincarnation is the word I would use to describe some of what happens, although I'm not at all sure that's what the author meant to convey. I think there is also a message here about feminism, but I didn't enjoy what the author seemed to be saying on the subject by turning violence against the men in her story. In any case, I think I'm too literal-minded to have really enjoyed this book, but I wouldn't discourage others from reading it, because it was interesting in a strange way. (Library book)
The Secret Life of Bees - by Sue Monk Kidd
Wow. This is a beautiful and inspirational book. It's the story of a 14-year-old girl growing up in South Carolina in 1964 who goes searching for information about her dead mother. Well, that's not a very good synopsis, but I'm finding myself at a loss for words to summarize the book, so I'm just going to be brief and say that I loved it and was touched by it. The overall message, for me, is one of finding the divinity in yourself, and not relying on anything outside to tell you that you are worthwhile. At the same time, there is also a really beautiful message of people being there for one another, and of creating your own family when the one into which you were born isn't satisfying your needs. Something else brought up in this book is the feminine aspect of the divine, as represented by Mary (Jesus' mum); I've had a special relationship of my own with Mary over the years, so I was particularly touched by the way she is brought into this story. (And I'm guessing it's no accident that the girl's name is Lily). This quote sums up the message of the book for me:
"Our Lady is not some magical being out there somewhere, like a fairy godmother. She's not the statue in the parlor. She's something inside of you . . . you have to find a mother inside yourself. We all do. Even if we already have a mother, we still have to find this part of ourselves inside" . . . she took [my hand] and pressed the flat my palm up against my chest, over my beating heart. "You don't have to put your hand on Mary's heart to get strength and consolation and rescue and all the other things we need to get through life . . . you can place it right here on your own heart. Your own heart . . . when you're unsure of yourself, when you start pulling back into doubt and small living, she's the one inside saying 'Get up from there and live like the glorious girl you are.' She's the power inside you . . . and whatever it is that keeps widening your heart, that's Mary, too, not only the power inside you but the love. And when you get down to it, Lily, that's the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love - but to persist in love . . . this Mary that I'm talking about sits in your heart all day long saying, 'Lily, you are my everlasting home. Don't you ever be afraid. I am enough. We are enough.' " (August Boatwright)
All in all, it's a gorgeous book; I highly recommend. (BookCrossing trade; will soon be on its way to another BookCrosser via BookRelay).
Persuasion by Jane Austen
I had a bit of trouble getting into this book - the members of Anne's family were a bit too horrible for my taste, but before long I did find myself really caring how it was all going to turn out, and it turned out to be a page-turner for me. This next bit might be considered a SPOILER:
I did have some trouble with what seemed to be the overall message - that, in the end, Anne forgives Mrs. Russell, and even decides that Russell was *correct* in what she did, in spite of the years of disappointment and pain she caused. While I think it's noble to forgive in this circumstance (the woman used poor judgement), I think suggesting that what Russell did was all right is going too far. Even at 19, Anne could have honoured her own feelings rather than allowing herself to be persuaded by an argument which she truly believed to be wrong. Then again, maybe it is noble to allow oneself to be guided by people one trusts. ::shrugs:: It's just sort of depressing that it all happened for the reasons that it happened. Whenever I read Austen, I find it interesting to compare the world about which Austen was writing with my own - in some ways, I think there are more similarities than we'd like to admit, particularly in the way we view other people as being superior or inferior for purely surface/material reasons. In Austen's society, it was acceptable to speak of it; now it isn't. Sometimes I think that may be the only difference. Perhaps that's a bit pessimistic, though. For some reason, in this book I was far more aware of the way people put such store on breeding and wealth than with some of the others, even though it is always be an issue in Austen. I enjoyed this book, but not as much as some of her others. (BookRelay; will soon be on its way to another BookRelayer).