I finished the last of my October reading list last week, completing three books in one day. Wahoo!
The first book finished was Firefly Hollow. It's a sweet book for children, but it didn't burn me down. It's the story of a firefly (named Firefly), a cricket (named Cricket), and a vole (named Vole) who have big dreams. Cricket wants to learn to catch like Yogi Berra. Firefly wants to fly to the moon. Vole wants to fulfill his river-soaked destiny. And then there's the miniature giant, Peter, who is grieving the loss of his friend, Charlie. They all must learn to live the best life they can. I guess that's the moral here. It would be a good read-aloud for small children, I think, but I just never connected with it. The few full-page color illustrations, however, are gorgeous. My rating: 3 stars.
Jane Kenyon's poetry collection, Otherwise, assembled by her and her husband, fellow poet Donald Hall, in the last months of her life, is a stellar collection. I found many of my favorites here, and I found many good new-to-me poems. This might be my favorite poetry collection of the year. If you're looking for poetry, you couldn't do better than Jane Kenyon. My rating: 4 stars.
I admit it, I judge a book by its cover. And I fell in love with the cover of News of the World as soon as I laid eyes on it. It was on a list of National Book Award finalists that I was buying for the library, and I bought a copy for myself. It was a fabulous read. It's the story of a retired army captain, Captain Jefferson Kidd (a real person) who travels throughout post-Civil War Texas reading newspapers from the east coast and abroad to audiences for ten cents a head. He's asked to return a ten-year-old German girl, Johanna, to her family after being captured and raised for a few years by Kiowa Indians. The book is the story of their journey together, Johanna's journey to trust the captain, and the reconstructionist south. There's adventure, great characterization, and a strong sense of place. There's even a gunfight. This isn't my normal read, but I'm so glad I tried something new here because I loved the book. The author has done so much so beautifully and in such a short book. It's beautifully written, and it's thought-provoking. I loved both of the main characters. The captain is strong and steady and moral. Johanna is too full of spunk to be pitied, though her situation is heartrending. I highly recommend this book. It was a great palate-cleansing read. My rating: 4.5 stars.
Last week I began:
Having finished my October reads early, I began my November chunkster, A Gentleman in Moscow, last week. I'd read nothing but good regarding this book, and even though I'm not far in it, I am in love. The plot, from the Amazon description: "In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin." I love books with a strong sense of place, and this one, being set in a hotel--and often, one small room in a hotel--has that. The writing is superb, and the characters are rich and full.
I also began Jenny Rosenstrach's new cookbook, How to Celebrate Everything, which I've been dying to begin.
And I began Jacqueline Kelly's chapter book, Skunked! featuring Calpurnia Tate of her Calpurnia Tate series. So far, so good.
I'm liking Monica Wood's The One-in-a-Million Boy very much. I'm unsure if I'd like it quite as much if I'd be reading it in paper, though. It's just so much easier for me to take in contemporary fiction by ear than by eye.