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Books That Are Keeping Me Happy

There are way too many important deadlines approaching in this house this month, between Patrick's current freelance deadline, my current freelance deadline, a grant application I'm trying to get sent off by the end of this week, and, of course, our big, looming house move in just over two weeks. (Auuuuuuugh! SO not ready.)

So, as you can imagine, there's a fair amount of stress going on over here at the moment.

But! I've been doing some really good reading. First, I read the best short story collection I've read in a long time, Zen Cho's Spirits Abroad. It's a collection of witty, fabulous f/sf short stories, and it's completely delicious. Obviously, I hugely recommend it. You can read my full Goodreads review here.

spirits-cover

Since then, I've been reading a YA f/sf anthology, Kaleidoscope, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios, and it's really, really good, with a great variety of stories and moods, ranging from funny to scary, exciting to heartbreaking. I think my very favorite short stories in it so far are Tansy Rayner Roberts's "Cookie-Cutter Superhero" and Karen Healey's "Careful Magic", but I'm enjoying the whole collection.

kaleidoscope-cover

I've also found the most completely immersive novel I've read in ages, and it's one that really surprised me, because I actually bounced off it hard the first time I tried it, about a year ago. It's Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, a big, bombastic nineteenth-century story centered around the character of Alma Whittaker, a passionate scientist living in an era when women were restricted to practicing "polite" botany. Last year, I set it down within the first three pages - I saw that the author was circling back to tell the whole story of Alma's dad before she even got Alma started, and I thought, Really? No. I don't have time for this.

This time, though, I was patient enough to keep reading - and I got completely sucked in. Now I'm reading it obsessively, grabbing my Kindle to read more at every possible opportunity, and it's been quite a while since I read a book so absorbing and compelling, with fascinating, larger-than-life characters. I'm absolutely loving it, and I feel silly for having given up on it so quickly last time 'round.

signature-cover

What about you guys? What are your favorite recent reads?

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Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
asakiyume
Oct. 14th, 2014 12:37 pm (UTC)
What you say about the Elizabeth Gilbert novel is somehow very heartening, both in terms of readers--that we can give things a second try and like them--and in terms of books--that some are worth a second look, and really can fulfill us. <3

And I loved "Careful Magic" too--such an inventive and well-told tale. I'll be interested to learn which of the stories in the second half of the collection you end up loving. (And I would like to read the Zen Cho collection at some point)

ETA: Ah yes--I sailed over your first paragraph, d'oh! I hope you guys get everything in on deadline and that the move happens without a hitch.

Edited at 2014-10-14 12:40 pm (UTC)
stephanieburgis
Oct. 15th, 2014 07:01 am (UTC)
Francesca, I think you would really like the Zen Cho collection!

And YES to second looks. :)

Thanks so much for the good move wishes!
(Deleted comment)
stephanieburgis
Oct. 15th, 2014 07:02 am (UTC)
I loved it!

And Diana Wynne Jones was so good.
beth_bernobich
Oct. 15th, 2014 12:51 am (UTC)
I've been sick for the past three days, and then it occurred to me... Buy Martha Wells's latest Raksurra book! I love this world and these characters so much, and now I'm feeling all happy inside.
stephanieburgis
Oct. 15th, 2014 07:02 am (UTC)
Oh hooray! Good books = soul medicine. :)
soniag
Oct. 15th, 2014 10:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reccing SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS -- looks like it's right up my alley!
stephanieburgis
Oct. 16th, 2014 10:52 am (UTC)
Let me know what you think of it, Sonia! I loved it all the way up until the climax of the book, where the resolution of one of the major subplots made me roll my eyes a little bit - but then the rest of the climax and the ending were both great, so I finished with a very happy feeling.
soniag
Nov. 23rd, 2014 07:05 pm (UTC)
I finished SIGNATURE! I'm wondering if you and I were eyerolling at the same time -- did you mean the scene with Tomorrow Morning? Aside from that, I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. So glad I saw you enthuse about it on your blog!
stephanieburgis
Nov. 23rd, 2014 07:36 pm (UTC)
Yes! That was EXACTLY the scene where I eyerolled! But I loved everything else about the book.
mst3kforall
Oct. 20th, 2014 01:50 am (UTC)
I've been coaxing myself to bed every night by reading Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy books on my phone -- no matter how exhausted I am, there always seems to be more to do so I have trouble getting myself to bed. I dim the display and configure my phone to be white writing on black; and despite the warnings about using electronics before bed, I find that the power of reading a good book far outweighs any possible computer-caused issues, and this practice gets me sleepy better than reading a beloved paper book, which requires the light be on. I discovered the series from happening upon the movie one Friday night; and then falling in love with the books from there.

And of course I read Courting Magic as soon as it came out. I always love Kat; it was nice to find her happy ending. Also, I can't recall the names but I loved two others of your stories that I read; one was a much better take on the Cinderella concept (that was so much fun!) and one was like a YA romance in a world like Kat's, which surprised me a little (don't want to give away spoilers) but which I also loved. It was lovely! I apologise about the names; I am terrible with names.

I wish there were a way I could give you my energy, but as it is I can only send you good wishes and support.
stephanieburgis
Nov. 23rd, 2014 07:42 pm (UTC)
Ack, I can't believe I only just discovered this comment! Curse you, LiveJournal - or yahoo mail, if it somehow got caught in my spam filters a month ago….

Anyway, I was SO glad to read it now. Thank you so, so much for the lovely words about Courting Magic and the other two stories (The Wrong Foot and The Unladylike Education of Agatha Tremain). Reading what you wrote meant a lot to me - and although I'm frustrated that I didn't see this comment when it was first posted, it was perfect timing for me to read it today, because it's been a bad day with the M.E. and other stuff, and your comment made me feel so much happier. Thank you!

(Also, I do most of my reading nowadays on an electronic device, too, either my Kindle paperwhite or my iPad. Being able to read in bed in the dark is SUCH a gift!)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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