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26 July 2010 @ 04:15 pm
book round-up!  
You know, I keep thinking I should try my hand at the 30 Days of Shakespeare meme, but a quick glance at the questions leads me to believe that way too many of my answers would involve Twelfth Night for there to be any suspense in the undertaking.

Anyway. Instead of doing Shakespeare memes, I have been reading children's and YA books:

1. The Eagle of the Ninth - Rosemary Sutcliff (at long last). I expected I'd like it, and I did. Though I don't tend to go for adventure stories as often, this was very entertaining and a good way to spend an afternoon. You have probably read it already, because you're better than I am.

2. Newes from the Dead - Mary Hooper. A YA historical novel based on the true story of Anne Green, a young woman who was convicted of infanticide in 1650 and was hanged--but didn't die. The novel alternates between Anne's point of view and that of a young medical student prepared to watch the dissection of her body. There are a few awkward moments at which Anne's point of view clashes with the needs of the narrative, but the story is, as you might expect, pretty gripping and the era is pretty well established. Also, the edition I read included a facsimile of one of the seventeenth-century pamphlets that told Anne's story, so that's a nice bonus.

3. Foiled - Jane Yolen; Mike Cavallaro, illustrator. I picked this up from the library basically on the strength of the illustrations and the fact that it was written by Jane Yolen--and it was a good thing I was willing to, because the book flap tells you absolutely nothing about the book except that the protagonist, Aliera Carstairs, doesn't feel like she fits in with the cliques in her school, and that she's a fencer (hence the title). Aliera is fun to keep company with; she's tenacious, wry and level-headed, even while developing a raging crush on the mysterious new boy in her class. The story is less strong, perhaps because the graphic novel spends as long as it does establishing Aliera's character; the plot arrives rather unexpectedly, and the resolution of it happens through explanation rather than action. It ends with enough dangling threads that I'm assuming it's the first of a series.

4. The Good Neighbors, Book One: Kin - Holly Black; Ted Naifeh, illustrator. This book and Foiled traverse somewhat similar territory, so it was instructive that I read them back to back. Where Foiled is strongest on character and weaker on plot, Kin hits the ground running with regard to plot but leaves its heroine, Rue, a bit shadowy; everything that was revealed about her, mostly through flashback, was directly related to the plot. If you liked Tithe, then you'll probably know about what to expect here, and you'll probably enjoy it. First in a series (the third one's out in October).

And my absolute favorite of the batch:

5. The Brothers Story - Katherine Sturtevant. I suspected that I would really enjoy this book, because I'd already read and admired her other two YA historicals, At the Sign of the Star and A True and Faithful Narrative (both of which follow Meg Moore, daughter of a London bookseller, in the 1660s). [Edit: 1670s, actually.] This novel is set during the Great Frost of 1683--which is shiveringly evoked here--and follows Kit, a teenager who flees to London to try to make something of himself, leaving behind his mother and his developmentally challenged brother, Christy. What I admire so much about all three of Katherine Sturtevant's books is that she writes sympathetic characters without making them anachronistic, and yet also without making them didactic examples of "what people thought back then"; their ways of looking at the world are revealed naturally (though sometimes startlingly, when one is reminded of the gulf between them and us). This book is particularly frank about certain elements of seventeenth-century life, but not merely for shock value; instead the details create a solid world. Highly recommended.
 
 
 
La Reine Noire: Elizabethlareinenoire on July 26th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC)
You should do it anyway! It is truly ridiculous how many of my answers involve the First Tetralogy and nobody seems to care so far.

Also more people talking about how R&J is not failtastic cannot hurt. :)
tempestsarekind: the man himselftempestsarekind on July 26th, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that if I did decide to do it, I'd wind up answering at least some of the questions as though they asked for a favorite character/play/etc. I have lots of favorites! :)
La Reine Noire: Elizabethlareinenoire on July 26th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, me too! I dithered for a while about doing it until angevin2 pointed out that it's just a silly meme and more people talking about Shakespeare is always a good thing.
tempestsarekind: palm to palm is holy palmers' kisstempestsarekind on July 26th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
That is true! Maybe I'll give it a go once I get back from Family Stuff.
Jay the Nerd Kid - Elitist Internet Royaltybewarethespork on July 26th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
I am not doing 30 Days of Shakespeare because mine will be All King Lear, All The Time (Plus a Bit of Hamlet), and nobody wants to read about me squeeing about the "now gods, stand up for bastards!" line. :P
tempestsarekind: hamlet/horatio OTPtempestsarekind on July 26th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
Well, *I* would want to read it!
Jay the Nerd Kid - Elitist Internet Royaltybewarethespork on July 26th, 2010 09:28 pm (UTC)
Maybe once I'm done with 30 Days of Who? I seem to be stalled at about Day 12 on that one.
tempestsarekind: a broad rivertempestsarekind on July 26th, 2010 10:51 pm (UTC)
There *are* an awful lot of days in these memes! I hope I'll have the fortitude to do all thirty. :)
Constant Readerskirmish_of_wit on July 27th, 2010 02:46 am (UTC)
Sturtevant has been on my to-read list ever since you first mentioned her books to me AGES ago, and also I am currently obsessed with Frost Fairs (thank you, first chapter of Orlando!), and HOW DID STURTEVANT KNOW WHICH SETTINGS WOULD MAKE ME HAPPIEST?
tempestsarekind: london flower of cities alltempestsarekind on July 27th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
...She has a direct link to the inside of your brain?

There is apparently a whole book about the Thames freezing throughout history? I know I saw it in the bookstore a few weeks ago. (Aha. Google says it is The Frozen Thames by Helen Humphreys:
http://books.google.com/books?id=xYOBOjP3CV0C&dq=inauthor:%22Helen+Humphreys%22&source=gbs_navlinks_s ) It looks to be sort of "creative nonfiction."

My only other Frost Fair association is walking through a tunnel in London--I think it's part of the Thames Path?--whose sides were decorated with a timeline and drawings about the river. I'm still not sure how we wound up in it, since almost every time I try to go to the Globe, I get lost and have to walk around in circles until I finally stumble upon it. But it was a very nice tunnel. :)