It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Reading

Hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin – This book scared me because it is often compared to Eat Pray Love which I hated. But this book doesn’t whine like that one did. This is a self-deprecating look at what happens if you try out a lot of advice about how to be happier. The author isn’t miserable. She has a fairly happy life but she feels like she isn’t taking the time to appreciate it properly. She gives herself a few goals every month to try to make her life better. Some work out and some don’t.

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay – This novel takes place in the fantasy kingdom of Kitan which is very similar to Tang Dynasty China. When a general dies, his second son spends his two years of mourning burying the bones left by one of his father’s final battles. The bones are in a no man’s land between two kingdoms so they have been left unburied. Tai moves there with the ghosts and buries the bones. Soldiers from each of the kingdoms bring him supplies in honor of what he is doing for their dead. When his mourning years are done he is shocked to be given a gift from the neighboring kingdom. He is given 250 high bred horses from the queen. Each one of these horses is worth a fortune. To be given 250 is unprecedented. Now he must figure out how to stay alive and use his new political power in the imperial court.

I enjoyed this book. It is very complicated with multiple plot lines. It is literary fiction which is not my usual reading material but Guy Gavriel Kay has interesting characters like politically astute courtesans, scheming politicians, drunk poets, and manipulative relatives to keep the plot moving.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender – The young heroine of this novel learns that she can taste the emotions of the people who make her food. She can also tell where it was made and the dispositions of the farmers involved. This started out in the familiar territory of such books as Like Water for Chocolate. Then it got weird.

I was reading along with half my mind on the conversation in the car when I did a mental double take. “Did I just read that?” I went back a few pages and yes, I was correct in what I thought I read. I don’t want to tell the plot twist because the interesting part is that you don’t see this coming at all. I didn’t really like the book overall but it is definitely unique!

The Queen’s Governess by Karen Harper – This is the fictionalized story of Kat Ashley who was a lady in waiting of Anne Boleyn. When Anne was to be executed Kat was charged with protecting her child Elizabeth. She was established as her governess and spent her life as a close adviser. This was a nice look at Tudor history from the view of the people around them. The author includes excerpts from letters of Queen Elizabeth including pleas to get her servants out of the Tower of London when she was still a disinherited princess.

Besides reading this week I’ve been watching the movie version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Review here. I’ve also been listening to podcasts about books. I just found Books On The Nightstand and also started listening to NPR’s book podcast again. The only problem with these is that you need to have paper handy to write down recommendations while driving!