OK! A Giveaway!

So we made it!

Made it through some busy weeks, made it through tax day, and we had a deal.

I said I’d post a blog the week of April 7th – which I did, on the 9th – and have a giveaway after April 15th.

And here we are.

It’s spring. The trees are flowering. There are bunnies hopping everywhere. There’s a container of jelly beans on the table.

I think we can do a couple of giveaways over the next few weeks before school ends. Maybe even three.

Who knows? It might get crazy around here!

Today’s giveaway rests at the intersection of writing and fuzzy critters:  it’s a journal and pen set decorated with adorable foxes.

Seriously. One of these guys is wearing a monocle. What. Is Not. To Love.

 

...and a beret too! How cool are these foxes?

…and a beret too! How cool are these foxes?

A fox on every page, plus handy-dandy pockets!

A fox on every page, plus handy-dandy pockets!

To enter to win, share your favorite fox story or trivia.

Maybe it’s a scene from “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” (I’ve never seen it), or a great children’s story you love (Beatrix Potter did one, right?).  Maybe you have a real-life fox encounter to share (like the time a red fox ran along the top of my fence to get at a squirrel. I am not kidding!). Or maybe you can explain why the male of “fox” is “fox” but the female is “vixen” (please, somebody, take that on!).

Of course, I’d appreciate it if you’d share the news of this giveaway. The more, the merrier; and the more participants we get for this one, the more excitement we can (hopefully) generate for the book giveaways I’d like to do over the next month. If you comment with the link to your Tweet, blog post, FB share, etc., where you promoted this giveaway, I’ll give you an extra entry (per method) into the giveaway.

Commenting on my Facebook feed or replying to a tweet doesn’t count; you have to comment here in order to be entered in the contest.

Entries close one week from today, at 11:59 MT on April 29, 2014.

OK? Ready, set, go!

 

 

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My very first author event

Maryanne (mfantaliswrites):

I am super duper excited about my friend Tara Dairman’s forthcoming book launch this summer. In the meantime, she’s getting out in the world. Here’s a blog post about her very first author event! Yay Tara! :)

Originally posted on tara dairman:

As I mentioned in my last post , I had the great good fortune this past weekend of participating in the first-ever Longmont Public Library Teen Author Night, which culminated the weeklong Longmont Library Festival.

It also happened to be my first-ever official author event, and the organizers were kind enough to include me even though my first book won’t be published until July. Luckily, the panel also included the fabulous local MG & YA authors Jeannie MobleyMelanie CrowderJenny Goebel, and Todd Mitchell, so the panel’s attendees were not starved for wisdom and advice from actual published authors.

And oh, those attendees! The library did an absolutely incredible job bringing in teens and tweens, and there were more than 60 kids in the audience. Check out how deep that room goes!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We took questions from the audience for an hour, and it was amazing how…

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What Are Your Three Books?

About two weeks ago, NPR tweeted the question:  what three books define you?

(I’m linking you to a blog post about it, because I have no idea how to take a pretty picture of a tweet the way this blogger did. *sigh*)

In other words, if a stranger glanced at your bookshelf and spotted these three books, that person would be able to understand who you are and what you’re about.

Gee, NPR, could you propose a more impossible task?

I spent a lot of mental energy on this, because… well, because. It’s what I do.

The first one is easy. It’s “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle. I have written several times on this blog about how that book changed my life in myriad ways. It opened my eyes to what fiction could be. It showed me an alternate world — a whole other universe — where I wanted to live, a family I wanted to be part of, a girl I wanted to be with and be like. And I realized that I could live there, be part of that family, be friends with Meg, every time I read the book. This was earth-shattering and mind-expanding for the seven year old child that I was. I was already a writer, but this is the book I can point to without hesitation and say it made me want to be a published author.

My first copy; late 1970s. $1.25 was paid in quarters from my allowance

My first copy; mid-1970s. $1.25 was paid with quarters from my allowance

Plus, it’s a beautiful example of well-written fantasy, and it’s a young adult novel that not only understands the teen experience but doesn’t talk down to its audience. Scan a page and see how many words teenage you would have had to look up. Go on. I’ll wait.

Okay, so one book is set. But how do I choose two out of the other thousands I’ve read?

I think I have to include the Complete Works of Shakespeare here. (Is that cheating? Is each play technically one “book”? I don’t know; you tell me in the comments.) Where would I be without Will Shakespeare? He inspires me constantly; like my favorite songs, I keep going back to him. And when I do, I always find something new.

But now what? I came up with a short list that included Jane Austen’s “Persuasion,” Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Tigana” and “A Song For Arbonne” and “The Lions of Al-Rassan” (I’d have to pick one eventually), the Anglo-Saxon epic poem “Beowulf,” Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall”…

And suddenly, it hit me.

I consume about 1 non-fiction book for every 2 to 3 fiction books I read. Where would I be without the books of Alison Weir? How would I get through my days without devouring everything there is to know about the Wars of the Roses, the Tudor dynasty, the Plantagenet kings, Eleanor of Aquitaine, mythology, religion, politics, American history, English language and grammar…  I want to know everything about (nearly) everything, and non-fiction books offer that like nothing else.

I should probably have a non-fiction book in my group of three.

Crap.

There is no way to choose one non-fiction book to represent all of my interests, so I have to put on my hypothetical bookshelf the one that will give you insight into what stirs and moves me, what pushes me, what inspires me. So the place has to go to Joseph Campbell’s “The Power of Myth,” which sweeps across cultures and eras to survey all the major themes of mythology and delve into all of the important questions of life. There are no answers, only lots of wonderful, beautiful ways of thinking about the questions.

So there you have my bookshelf of three:

“A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle

“The Collected Works of William Shakespeare” (Riverside edition, because I own that already)

“The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell

What’s on your bookshelf?

 

 

 

 

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Blogging Blahs

I have started at least two new blog posts in the last two weeks and failed to finish them.

I could blame the taxes, or my kids, but let’s just put the blame where it belongs:  on me.

Next week, I’m going to finish one of those blog posts.

And after tax day, I’ll do a giveaway.

Deal?

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The Worst Thing…

Today I volunteered at the Scholastic Book Fair at my son’s middle school.

How much do you love Scholastic Book Fairs?

Anyway, I was working the cash registers with a dad I’ve never met before, and during down times, we were chatting. Because we’re both readers, we had a lot to talk about.

We also talked about our work.

He owns a wholesale nursery supply company, and basically, they grow the plants that the nursery or garden center or landscaper sells to you. So he spends his days watering and fertilizing and weeding and doing all the things I hate more than just about anything in the world.

I said to him, “The worst things that can happen to me are, one, get dirty, and two, get wet, so I think that would be the worst possible job for me.”

He laughed and agreed.

Maybe that was TMI?  

What would be the worst job for you, based on things you hate more than anything?

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Book Review: The Rose Throne

I enjoy Mette Ivie Harrison’s books, so when I was browsing the YA section at my library and found “The Rose Throne” (2013), I snatched it up.

What I discovered there was more than just another YA fantasy.

The books I have read by Harrison have been loosely based on fairy tales, and have also had greater underlying themes. “The Rose Throne” is no different.

Instead of a fairy tale, this one draws its surface structure from Tudor history. In the south, Princess Ailsbet is the smart, independent daughter of King Haikor, and her brother, Prince Edik, is quiet and easily dominated. The domineering king has been married for a long time and is openly having affairs; his court is a place of political maneuvering and intrigue. In the north, Princess Marlissa, known as Issa, is the only child and heir of the weak king who has always lived in Haikor’s shadow. Where Harrison alters history is in letting the girls — who are loosely based on Princess Elizabeth Tudor and Mary, Queen of Scots — meet and influence one another in unexpected ways. Circumstances develop that bring them together as friends when Issa is betrothed to Edik in King Haikor’s effort to bring both kingdoms under his control at last.

Beneath that veneer of historical similarity, there is a lot more going on. This being a fantasy novel, there is magic in these lands. The weyr, as it is called, manifests itself differently in men and women.  Women have a “green” magic, working with the land and animals, encouraging growth and fertility. Men have a more aggressive magic, useful for hunting, fighting, and war. In the north, where Issa is from, the women’s magic is honored and revered, but in the south, King Haikor abhors it and won’t even allow it to be used in his presence. Thus, the south is slowly dying: crops won’t grow, and the people are starving.

There’s also a twist. Sometimes, people are born with the “wrong” magic; that is, men are born able to reach out to the natural world, or women are born with destructive power. Also, some people are born with no magic at all:  the pitied “unweyr.” Since the magic doesn’t manifest until puberty, you can’t be sure until your mid- to late teens whether you are “normal” or not.

This leapt off the page at me as an allegory for sexual orientation. And two of the major characters struggle with these doubts.

One of the things I love about fantasy and science fiction is that you can deal with important social issues in a less than straightforward way, and in doing so, you can side-step many of your readers’ knee-jerk responses. The movie “District 9″ and the novel “The Lions of Al-Rassan” are some of my favorite examples of this, and of course “Star Trek” is famous for it.

And what blew me away was that Orson Scott Card blurbed this book. And loved it. “Another great story,” he says on the back cover, “from one of my favorite authors.”

Ever since the movie of “Ender’s Game” brought into the public eye the truth of Card’s longstanding negative feelings about homosexuality and marriage equality, I have struggled with my own feelings about him as a writer. “Ender’s Game” is one of my favorite books of all time; I have wept while reading many of his novels; and on numerous occasions, I have marveled at the depth of Card’s apparent compassion and his understanding of the human heart. How is it possible, then, that he can write the way he does and not understand the very essence of love?

Reading this book, I wondered:  How did he not see it when Harrison put it out in front of him, albeit in a different form?

Have you read this book? Did you feel this parallel? If you did, what do you think about Harrison’s take on it? How do you feel about Card’s blurb? Is he a hypocrite or in complete denial?

If you haven’t read it, read it. It was a terrific book and well worth reading on its own (although I had one small issue with the romance). Then come back here and talk to me about it in the comments!

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America’s Game

Super Bowl last night.

I live in Colorado, so that’s all I have to say about that.

Did you watch any of the pre-game shows that went on for hours and hours before kick off? (I mean, I’ll watch the red carpet running up to the Oscars when literally no one is arriving yet, but those shows yesterday seemed a bit much even for me.) There was this one show where they had lots of people talking about how awesome football is and how quintessentially American it is and on and on…

And I keep thinking about that.

Is football really America’s game? Is it the one thing that truly embodies America to the world?

If so, we are in deep trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan, and not just a one-game-a-year fan. My son played for several years and my husband coached his team.

But let’s look at this for a second.

This is a violent game. That fact cannot be argued. The damage inflicted by these men on their bodies — for which they are well compensated, it’s true — is brutal. Knees are not meant to be twisted in the way they routinely are by this game. Ankles, shoulders, spines… Let me say this:  Joe Theisman’s leg. These injuries end careers and cause lifelong pain. For entertainment.

And the main reason we stopped our son from playing football was our concern over the increasing evidence that long-term participation in football can cause brain injury. Even setting aside the horrifying stories of young men who have died from concussions, the evidence is mounting that it’s not just one concussion, or several, that can cause harm.  In fact, the tiny micro-collisions of the brain with the skull that happen on every play add up over time to do damage to a healthy brain, keeping a child’s intellect from reaching its full potential or – at its worst – dragging someone like Junior Seau into depression and suicide.

Did you know that many professional football players won’t let their children play football? What does that tell you about “America’s Game?”

And this is before we even get to a culture of competition where the stakes are so high that a team actually offered bonuses to players who caused serious injuries to their opponents. How twisted is that? Sadly, that team was probably not unique; they just got caught.

Next, let’s talk about money.  We are totally okay with paying people ridiculously inflated salaries to play a game while our teachers, nurses, police and humanitarian workers make barely livable wages (and most artists make no living at all from their art). We watch draft day and don’t even flinch when the analysts talk about million dollar pay-outs to kids coming out of college, young men who probably have never paid a credit card on time. They will have short careers, retire in their thirties unless injury or failure takes them out sooner, and will most likely have nothing to show for it at the end of it because the culture of wealth that surrounds them encourages them to spend everything they earn. (Thankfully, some limits are being placed on what a young player can make.)

Professional athletes are extolled as prime examples of the American dream:  believe it and you can be it! Anything can happen in America! Yet these same athletes are often at best nasty punks who shun their positions as heroes and role models, and at worst vicious criminals charged and convicted of things like attempted murder, assault, spousal abuse, weapons violations, DUIs, animal cruelty… and all without the loss of their careers and paychecks because, after a lesser sentence than anyone who wasn’t famous could expect, they get right back on a team that justifies its decision as “purely business” because “with his talent, if we don’t hire him, someone else will.” Sure. Perfect logic, and a great lesson for young people.

Is this what America is all about? Is this our ambassador to the world?

Honestly, I believe that professional football has hit its apex. More and more parents aren’t allowing their children to play, and without a new group coming up, the sport can’t survive. Within a few generations, it will be gone, or at least severely diminished. It certainly won’t be the number one sport anymore. And all things considered, I won’t miss the game at all.

Less than two weeks ’till pitchers and catchers! ;)

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Empathy Strikes Again

My main character is not like me. This makes her difficult to write sometimes.

When I want to nod and negotiate and get along, she wants to fight and scrap and yell.

That’s hard.

I have to force myself to remember who she is, and forget who I am. To live inside her, and be her, and react as her. To put myself aside when I sit down at the keyboard so that she can feel and speak and act, not me.

This is a skill that writers have to learn, and it requires a certain amount of empathy:  the ability to identify with another person’s feelings and thoughts. I work on it with my students when I teach creative writing.

Like I said, it’s not easy.

Once, years ago, my mother came to me with a story about an encounter she had with one of my relatives, whose name I’ll change to Cousin Fred. During a conversation, she had reached her hand out and touched Cousin Fred on the arm. Cousin Fred looked down at her hand and said, “Why are you touching me?” Surprised, my mother withdrew her hand and said, “What’s the problem?” Cousin Fred said something like, “We’re having a conversation. You don’t have to touch me.”

(Understand that this conversation is filtered through my mother and it happened a long time ago. I have no idea what words were actually exchanged between them. Suffice it to say, my mother had issues with invading one’s personal space and Cousin Fred doesn’t like it when you invade his personal space.)

When my mother, all huffy, related this conversation to me, she expected me to take her side. Where did Cousin Fred get off, telling her not to touch him? What was wrong with touching him?

I said (again, not exactly this): “Mom, maybe Cousin Fred just doesn’t like it when you touch him. Maybe it’s a personal space thing.”

When she refused to even consider this, I said, “Mom, try putting yourself in Cousin Fred’s shoes. You’re having a conversation, and then suddenly someone’s touching you.”

She nodded. “If someone touches me, I like it. He should like it.”

*face-palm*

Mom, I just asked you to put yourself in HIS shoes, not make HIM into YOU.

That’s kind of the opposite of empathy.

I offer this as a lesson for writers. Make sure you’re not putting the characters in YOUR shoes. Put yourself in THEIR shoes.

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Books of My Life – my version

Entertainment Weekly magazine gave these interview questions to Jonathan Franzen in the 10/25/13-11/1/13 issue. I thought I’d pretend I was a famous author and answer these questions here on my blog, and I’d love to hear your answers too. Post an answer or two in the comments, or copy the whole interview and post your answers on your blog and link back here in the comments. Let’s have some fun!

My favorite childhood book

Do I have to pick just one? I returned to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s series so often I can still quote from it, revisited “Charlotte’s Web” many times, lived for years in Narnia, and delighted in Maurice Sendak (rather subversive for my conservative mother). There is no question, however, that the most impactful book of my youth was Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle In Time.” I wanted to live in that world, in that family; I wanted to — still wish I could – write like her; I wanted to change myself as a result of that book. Nothing is more powerful than that.

The book I enjoyed most in school

It would be easier to list the books I hated. Why do schools include so many awful books in their curricula, or, worse, why are so many amazing books demolished through horrible teaching approaches like shoving symbolism down our throats until we choke (why does Holden wear his hat backwards? Maybe because he likes it!)? Though I discovered the beauty and power of Conrad and Faulkner in school, I have to say the assigned book I enjoyed most has to be “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. There are few books that speak so eloquently of real life and real people, and my heart still swells when I think of that extraordinary ordinary man, Atticus Finch, and the way he stood up for what was right.

The classic I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read

There are lots of them! I haven’t read almost any modern classics – no “Catch-22″, no “Brave New World”, no “Lolita” – and very few American classics at all. I am embarrassed and feel slightly guilty about my failings in this category. If I had to pick only one, though, I’d say “The Scarlet Letter” because really, how hard would it be for me to read it? I’d probably even enjoy it.

The classic I’ve pretended to have read

I would never pretend to have read a book I hadn’t read. I fully acknowledge all my shortcomings.

The novel people might be surprised to learn that I love

I think people think that I don’t like anything that’s popular (which is generally true). So you might be surprised to know that I loved Stephen King at the height of his powers in the 1970s and 80s, and “The Stand” is one of my favorite books ever. I even bought the super-duper re-edited (or one might say, unedited version) in which King put back all the stuff he had taken out to bring the book down to a manageable size — 400 pages worth. This extended version is over 1,100 pages. I have to admit, I haven’t tackled it yet. I’m too intimidated.

The books I consider to be grossly overrated

Okay, I am not one to point fingers here. I know I have some highfalutin’ ideas about what constitutes good writing and good storytelling, and most of what is popular — or even reviewed well — does not fit my definition of those things. I’ll offer an example. “The Story of Edgar Sawtelle” was a bestseller, in part because Oprah chose it for her book club. Everywhere I turned, there were rave reviews for this book. When I bought it for my book club — because there were so many holds on the library copies I couldn’t get it in time — the guy at the register couldn’t resist telling me how much he loved it. So I dove in. And I didn’t get the hype. When the best thing about a novel is the part told from a dog’s point of view, I would think that would be a dead giveaway that you’ve got a serious problem. Further, no one in my book club besides me realized that it was a retelling of Hamlet, so they experienced varying emotions from lost to frustrated at the seemingly pointless meanderings of the plot which were driven not by the characters but by the structure of the source material – another clear problem. Did it have its moments? Absolutely. Did it deserve the raptures of millions? No. I think people said they loved it because they were told they should love it:  by the publisher, by Oprah, by reviewers. This kind of “emperor’s new clothes” thing happens all the time, and it makes me crazy.

My favorite movie versions of great novels

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is one, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy (extended versions) – which I view as one really long film — is another, the recent “Jane Eyre” with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska, is a third.

The thing that happens when I buy my own books in bookstores

Well, okay, hasn’t happened yet. I’d like to think it will be awesome. I’m sure no one but me will even notice.

The last book that made me cry — and the last one that made me laugh.

Actually, I can think of three books that made me cry recently. My daughter Becca has been insisting that I read “Mockingbird” by Kathryn Erskine (which, ironically, has “To Kill a Mockingbird” as a central theme), and I finally did. It brought me to tears at the very end. She’s a very wise person, my daughter. (She also shared with me the book that made me laugh out loud:  “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh. I can’t even. You just have to.) About a year ago, I wept during “Flying the Dragon” by Natalie Dias Lorenzi, which I have reviewed here on this blog. Beautiful prose, beautiful story. And before that, I cried over “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel, not just because there were moments of pure emotion that broke my heart, but because her writing was so exquisite, so miraculous, so powerful, so beyond what I can even express to you, that I was moved not only as a reader experiencing the story but also as a writer flattened to the floor by my inability to even imagine putting such words on paper. I did not want that book to end. Ever.

The eternal question: Do I read my own books after they come out?

I don’t know if I will. I know I’ll seek them out in stores and look them up on line. I know I’ll touch them and carry them around with me. I may even keep one under my pillow. But I may never read them again because I know how critical I am. I’ll probably hate them once they’re in print and I can’t play with them any more.

There. That’s my go at it. Now it’s your turn. Bloggers, I hope you’ll take the questions to heart and put your answers on your own blog; if you do, don’t forget to link back here in the comments so I can read and comment on yours. Readers, give me your answers in the comments. GO!

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2013: A Year In Reading

Time for my annual tradition of analyzing my reading for the year (I guess if you do it more than once, it’s a tradition, right?).

Goodreads sent me a link to my “year in books” and, honestly, it looked pretty light. I must not have been as meticulous about logging my reading in Goodreads as I thought I was.

At the same time, my Xcel spreadsheet is awfully vague on dates this year. I have lots of books written down simply by the month in which I read them. If you know me, you know that that irritates me; I prefer precision and accuracy in a project like this.

In last year’s post, I mentioned how 2012 was a difficult year for me personally, and it certainly was. Well, 2013 was no great shakes either in many ways, although it had more positive motion than 2012 did. Let me just say that I’d prefer for 2014 to keep the personal and professional disasters to a minimum and bring me some positive developments for a change. Please?

That said, let’s take a look at 2013′s reading stats.

I started 64 books, similar to last year’s 62, and completed 56 of them, two more than last year’s 54. So let’s say I’m consistent. For the most part, the ones I didn’t finish were fiction that didn’t grab me… including, for the third time, “Wuthering Heights.” I’m sorry. I just can’t.

I also read quite a few books about writing this year because I have the opportunity to be doing more teaching in 2014. And getting paid for it. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Looking over my list, there was more I loved than didn’t this year, but as always there were the ones that I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. Let’s only talk about the good ones.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein:  YA historical about two young women involved in the Allied intelligence forces during WWII. Emotionally devastating and heart-rending. Absolutely beautiful, and a must-read, for adults and young adults alike.

The Holy or the Broken by Alan Light:  The song “Hallelujah” is now trotted out every time there’s a natural disaster or a wedding or an occasion that feels remotely solemn… or any time some kid tries out for a TV singing competition. But what’s the story behind the song? It used to be nothing, a throw-away, written by some guy you never heard of, with lyrics you never hear anymore because it’s not a love song or a song of hope and promise, but a song about heartbreak and loss and giving up… or is it? This tiny gem of a book will tell you more than you ever thought you could know about the weighty past of this now-mighty song. Oh, and YouTube all the performances as they are referenced in the text. They will blow you away.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan: If you love books; if you love reading; if you love bookstores; if you love puzzles and mysteries; if you’ve ever dreamed of quitting your job and going to work in a bookstore, or better yet, of opening your own shop, this book is for you. It’s worth reading just to get to the last line. And no, I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll have to read it for yourself. No cheating! Read the book!

The Diviners by Libba Bray: I haven’t always loved Libba Bray’s work, but I respect her tremendously. If you’ve ever read her blog, she is incredibly honest about how hard writing is for her. She’ll tell you straight out that she has no idea what comes next; that she’s lying on the floor in her bathrobe crying because she’s lost; that she’s ready to quit because she hates her writing so much… and then she publishes a book like “The Diviners.” This is YA historical fantasy, of which I read a lot this year, set in jazz age Manhattan where everything is “the cat’s pajamas” and you can only get your hooch at a speak-easy. The main character’s voice leaps off the page at you, the setting is so real it breathes, and the story is fantastic – deep, twisty, scary, believable, smart… I can’t wait for the next book, and the next. You may want to wait until the series is complete to devour them all at once, which is one of the highest compliments I can give.

Murder As A Fine Art by David Morrell:  Speaking of a setting so real it breathes, that would apply as well to this book, where Victorian London is basically another character. You can feel and smell the city as you read. While an early description of a murder is particularly grim, the story is fascinating and the main characters are wonderful.

Honorable MentionsA Spear of Summer Grass by Deanna Raybourn (I will read everything this woman writes, ever. She writes history as though she had lived it, and her lead characters are women you wish you had been, or could be, or could be friends with); The Movement of Stars by Amy Brill (This is the fictionalized story of the Quaker woman on Nantucket whose desire to study science and love for an East Indian sailor put her at odds with her traditional community. It started off slowly but proceeded with a strong, steady pace that kept me reading, and never took the easy paths of “women’s fiction”); In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters (This YA historical fantasy combines the very real horror of the Spanish Influenza and tail end of WWI with the supernatural chills of ghosts into a spine-tingling tale of a young woman who struggles to find her way in this strange, haunted world).

So tell me:  what were your favorite books this year? What did you read that was overrated or overlooked? What would you recommend or steer people away from? Did you manage a book a week? More? Less? Do you stick with books you don’t love or move on? Do you read as much as you would like to or do you not have that kind of time? Can that change in the new year?

Happy new year and happy new books!

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