Book reviews

I’ve been kind of on a reading kick lately. I don’t usually have tons of time to read, but since these books are (mostly) short, quick reads, I’ve been able to read several of them at once. Most I have found on the Reader’s Choice shelf at my county library.

The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich

I had heard this was wonderful from an acquaintance at church, so when I saw it at the library, I brought it home on impulse. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s nothing terribly deep, but as far as romantic comedies go, it really satisfied. The main character’s life is going fine until she interviews a quilt psychic and receives an impromptu reading of her own—saying that everything’s going to change. Soon she finds herself “towered”: her relationship with her best friend possibly over, her mother suddenly back in her life and asking forgiveness, and her job gone. She returns to the psychic, whom she believes is responsible, and ends up finding herself and finding love.

I loved the sassy, witty heroine and the strong voice of the author. The novel was well plotted with great supporting characters as well. Other than some language, it’s pretty clean as well, which is a bit of a plus for me. Grade: A.

The Serpent and the Rose by Kathleen Bryan

Encouraged by the success of randomly picking a book from the Reader’s Choice shelf, I asked Jon Boy to grab me something else from there when he went to the library. Since I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction, he picked up a fantasy novel. While The Serpent and the Rose wasn’t bad, however, I kept finding myself wishing it were something else. It seemed rather simplistic with too soft a voice for the subject matter, in my opinion. There was forbidden romance at the heart of it—a duke’s heiress and a farm boy, both of whom have magical powers in a world where magic is well structured and cultivated. The boy’s magic is wild and untrained, however, and he ends up being pivotal in a battle between good and evil where the bad guys aren’t following any of the rules. Elements of the romantic and magical link between the two main characters were lovely, and I did generally enjoy the characters. But nothing was new; the book was your ordinary, run-of-the-mill fantasy. The Serpent and the Rose was the first in a trilogy, but I don’t think I will be reading the rest. Grade: C+.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I’ve enjoyed Shannon Hale’s work since I read her first novel, The Goose Girl, about three years ago. Austenland is completely unlike the rest of her novels, though, in that it is a) not fantasy, and b) written in a much different style. To give you an idea, here are the first two sentences from the inside flap: “Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare.” For all fans of Colin Firth, Jane Austen, and witty dialogue, I highly recommend this book. It’s short and sweet. Oh, and it has one of the best summations of the orange–purple relationship (Peircian Semiotics) that I’ve ever read. Grade: A+.

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker

If you’re looking for a fascinating, if tough, nonfiction read, this is it. I’m finding I can’t read more than about ten pages at a sitting before my brain starts leaking out my ears, but I really am enjoying it. Pinker examines features of language (mostly English) in depth and presents theories about how these features betray the way we think and who we are as human beings. Really, really interesting stuff. I just need to finish the book. 🙂


  1. Yes. Thanks. I still need to pick up Fortune Quilt from the library. I’ll add Stuff of Though to the list, as well.

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