Reading Catch-Up

So, about a few weeks ago, I brought home books from a secondhand sale and realized my to-read drawer of my nightstand was full…so, I hit the pause button on my reading goal for the year to start to make room for bringing home books again. Because let’s face it, not buying books is most likely not going to happen. But so far, it’s only been 3 Kindle books and luckily, not worried about space with the Kindle yet. So, some quick and easy reviews of books that had been on the top of the to-read pile for awhile.

The Ghost Bride was lent to me by a friend a few months back and I figured it was time to read and return to owner. This book was quite a bit different than my usual fare. It tells the story of a young Malaysian woman who is asked to be the ghost bride for a recently deceased son of a local wealthy family. As you can imagine, she’s not all that interested (in fact, she’s got feelings for the dead man’s cousin who may or may not have murdered him). Also, to make matters even weirder, the dead man starts haunting her and the only way to fight back is to enter the spirit world herself and figure out what is happening and how to escape the ghost and his family. The culture explored with this story was fascinating and I enjoyed learning about the spirit world and all the rituals performed by the living to help their family members in death. Li Lan, the heroine and purposed ghost bride also developed into a character you really root for; she is a bit wishy-washy in the beginning and I was wondered that would ruin the story for me but she definitely finds her backbone in the end.

Sarah Vowell is delightful; if you don’t know who she is, go Google for a moment and then come back. She also has a knack of taking obscure moments in American history and writing fascinating books about them. The Wordy Shipmates looks at the second wave of Puritans who emigrated to New England and founded Boston. First off, I had no idea there was such a distinction as Plymouth and Boston Puritans so right off the bat, I’m learning something but it’s Vowell’s tone that will keep you reading. Her dry wit never ceases to crack me up. Also, I can’t read anything by Vowell and not hear her reading it in my head – built-in audiobook!

When I travel these days, instead of picking up useless souvenir knickknacks that I would just get rid of a year later, I try to buy books and then write in the front cover where I picked it up from. That way, I’m buying something to remember my trip but also something I will keep and use over time. My trips to Disney are not an exception to the rule (well, I also buy pins but that’s another addiction next to reading and should be forgiven). On my latest visit out to Disneyland, I picked up A Whole New World (Twisted Tales #1). Twisted Tales are a new series out of Disney’s publishing arm that take a pivotal moment in their movies and ask “what if this happened instead?” As you all know, I adore a good re-telling of a fairy tale so I was all in for this one. This installment tells the tale of what could have happened if Aladdin hadn’t got the lamp but if, as planned, Jafar had. It was cool to watch scenes from the movie I knew so well get played out in very different ways or the few brief scenes between Aladdin and the Genie. They both feel they should be friends but never get the chance in this story. Instead, it is Jasmine and Aladdin and an army of street rats that take center stage. Excellent pacing for the story kept it moving and, though it had a pretty large cast of characters, all of them worked together well. Can’t wait to see how this series shapes up! (in fact, it looks like the next book is already out and the 3rd is going to be on Beauty & The Beast?! Just take my money already.)

Lastly, I finished up Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s exploration of books and reading, Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books just last night. I picked this up at the delightful Paper Hound in Vancouver, BC last fall. I adore a book about books and/or reading. It’s like finding a kindred spirit who’s thought to put on the page what you think every time you open a book. Schwartz looks particularly at how her childhood shaped her reading and how she is still dealing with effects of her childhood reading and reading environment into her adult years. I have not read Schwartz’s fiction but her writing here is divine. It flows along so nicely from one story to the next but always keeping you along for the ride. It’s not a big book but it has a lot of substance for the book lover to parse out.

I’m still working on my to-read pile as I head into the summer season. Hopefully I can get back into my reading of series year goal soon!

 

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