My Goodreads Quotes

Allison’s quotes

"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right--in the way that's best for us."
Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
Yes," she said, "I do believe it--almost always--except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I don't believe it, I know it's true--and I try to believe it."— E. Nesbit

Monday, August 10, 2015

Nightstand Books: August

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 Deaub√© .  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?


Grace M said...

These nightstand posts are such fun! I've bought "Crimson Bound" because, despite some of my dislikes for "Cruel Beauty," I did overall like it and "Crimson Bound" just looks fascinating. Your praise make me want to read it more, but it might be some time due to library and review books. But who knows, maybe I'll shove it in sometime soon if my curiosity is too much to handle.
I'm reading "Dauntless" by Dina L. Sleiman, a "Robin Hood" retelling with a female Robin Hood character. I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would. since I saw some lower reviews for it. But I like it so far. :-D

Sarah said...

I'm curious what this certain element of B&B that you dislike is. Please do write that "post for another time"!
Also: Reflections is sooooo good. I could hardly put it down, and that's saying something, considering the genre.

Jemma Tainsh said...

I like your nightstand posts :). I enjoyed Blood of Olympus, I hope you do too! I don't think I've heard of Crimson Bound or Cruel Beauty, why do you recommend for older readers?

I'm reading Go Set a Watchman, which I'm pretty excited about, but I keep being distracted by other books. Such as a retelling of Puss in Boots. I'm also reading War and Peace, still going, only got 4 more books to go!

Jenelle Leanne said...

I am also curious about the element of B&B you find unsettling. There are several elements of B&B that have always kind of annoyed me... so I'm intrigued and second the request for a later post! I may have to go check both of these out, because they sound like something I might enjoy!

I enjoyed all the Percy Jackson books and the Lost Hero... but House of Hades made me angry and I stopped reading them.

Thanks for participating in Nightstand Books! It's so fun to see what everyone else is reading!

Allison Ruvidich said...

@Grace- I'm so glad you like them! Feel free to join in, as long as you credit Jenelle and D J. I've heard of that book; I can't wait to see what you think!

@Sarah- Oh, my goodness, I know exactly what you mean. Never have I been so glued to the literary essay. But it's so true, isn't it?

@Jemma- I say that because they have certain mature themes and scenes that are integral, I feel, to the books. And yes, I really did enjoy Blood of Olympus. It was so wonderful and bittersweet... Glad to hear you're almost through War and Peace! I can't wait to see what you think!

@Jenelle- I do promise that I'll eventually write a post about Beauty and the Beast. Actually... I may do a whole series on fairytales. That would be fun. : )

Thank you so much for letting me use the idea! It's great fun. : )