Hello, dear readers! I interrupt a long silence and much procrastination to bring you this month's issue of Nightstand Books, inspired by the lovely Jenelle Schmidt and D J Edwardson.
Perched at the top is my ragged, decidedly well-worn copy of Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. My progress through The Silmarillion has not been proceeding as easily as expected, so to recharge my love of Tolkien, I've begun a reread of the Lord of the Rings. I haven't read this since I was twelve years old, and I'm constantly amazed by the craftsmanship I didn't notice the first time round and the wonderful story that I did.
Next comes I Will Praise You in the Storm, by Danny. L Deaubé . The author kindly sent me a review copy, and I'm ready to read it. I'm only a few pages in, but I have tissues close by and am ready to continue.
I have two books by Rosamund Hodge: Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound. (Astute readers may recall Crimson Bound from June's Nightstand Books. It was so good that I'm rereading it.)
Cruel Beauty, as I'm sure many of you know, is a retelling of Beauty in the Beast, a fairytale with which... I take issue. It is beautifully written-- Ms. Hodge has the most magical ability to entwine the message so closely with the plot that you can't distinguish the two, and the characters! I can't even describe the characters-- but this book shares one element with every other Beauty and the Beast retelling that I find... unsettling. But that, I believe, is a blog post for another time.
Of the two, I believe that Crimson Bound is slightly-- slightly-- stronger. Both novels, however, give me a vague sense that something is missing, and I think I've finally put my finger on what. As I've mentioned, Ms. Hodge has complex messages and characters who are truly more flawed and believable and real than most I've read. But I think these two aspects of her storytelling are so lovely that she uses the plot only as a device by which to convey these. If she ever gives her plots the same gripping intensity as the message and the characters, she will be a truly formidable writer.
So yes, I would definitely recommend these two, with a caution that they are both probably best read by readers sixteen or older.
I'm terribly afraid of the next book. It is The Blood of Olympus, by Rick Riordan, and it represents a considerable portion of my childhood. I adored his Percy Jackson series when I was younger, and I loved the first two books of the sequel series, Heroes of Olympus. Then, with the third and fourth, something changed. It might've been me. Whatever it was, none of his writing really appeals to me anymore, which makes me sad. I saw the last book at the library, though, and decided to give some closure to that particular episode of beloved childhood favorites.
Then we have Reflections on the Magic of Writing, a collection of semi-autobiographical essays by acclaimed children's author, Diana Wynne Jones. I adore Ms. Jones with a fiery passion. I always knew she was a brilliant novelist, but it turns out she writes incredible essays, too. Whether or not you've read/liked Diana Wynne Jones' books, I highly recommend you read this collection, too.
We conclude with my Bible. The Wisdom of Solomon thoroughly ended my headlong progress through it. Temporarily stymied but determined to continue, I skipped ahead to Matthew and am now thoroughly enjoying the New Testament. I have every intention of reading the Old Testament, but another day... another day....
How about you, readers? What are you reading?