Lots of good books the past couple of weeks--I've been reading more than getting things done...
Dragonhaven, Robin McKinley: I probably should've read some Jane Austen after this, to protect my own writing style; as with Sunshine, McKinley gives her narrator (in this case, a teenage boy) a very specific voice. It works, but is a little wearing after a while--too many likes and totallys and you knows and run-on sentences. It's the sort of style that gets into one's head, and that's not a good thing. But the story is excellent; her perspective on dragons reminds me a bit of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Jake lives in a privately-owned preserve for dragons, but few of the people there have ever actually seen a dragon until Jake apprentices with the Rangers and goes on a solo trip into the wilderness. What he finds there is only the first of many surprises.
The Woods Were Full of Men, Irma Lee Emmerson: The kind of memoir people used to write before everybody got all angsty and revealed their childhood traumas. A fun light tale of a woman's experience cooking for sixty hungry loggers in an Oregon camp.
She Got Up Off the Couch, Haven Kimmel: See above; angsty memoir. This sequel to A Girl Named Zippy grows more depressing as Haven gets older and begins to realize how incredibly dysfunctional her family is. It's hard to believe that anyone could live as she did, in a condemned house full of mice and rats, with a mother who spent many years of her life sitting on the couch with a book and a bag of pork rinds; and even harder to believe that she could manage to write about it. It is funny, though, in a I-probably-shouldn't-laugh-at-this kind of way, and she has a particularly wry sense of humor (fortunately for her survival).
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls: I can't actually include this in the "good books" list for the week, but I got on a memoir roll and figured I'd mention this one as well. Angsty does not even begin to cover it. With a ne'er-do-well drunken gambler for a father and an unbalanced artist for a mother, the four Walls children were forced to take care of themselves as soon as they could walk. At last they hit what has to be rock-bottom--they're living in a coal-mining town in Appalachia, and they are the poorest family there. Poor white trash kids throw rocks at them. It's appalling, and horribly depressing, and I kind of wish I hadn't read it. At least the ending is sort of happy, or at least positive.
Renegade's Magic, Robin Hobb: The final book in the Soldier Son trilogy. This was certainly not a predictable story! Everything was a surprise, although not necessarily a good one, and I got really tired of the protagonist's incessant and repetitive whining. Interesting, fascinating, and, of course, well-written, but not as good as some of her previous trilogies.