Here, in boring ol' chronological order, are the books I managed to read last month:
2. Allegiant by Veronica Roth. (ebook). Final book in the Divergent trilogy. This was pretty fun, and I knew the big spoiler at the end before I picked up the book. I like this series. It's not as polished or as profound as many of the other dystopian books out there, but I don't really understand why Tris Prior is reviled simply on the basis that she's not Katniss Everdeen. It seems to me that in the same way that there's more than one way to be a feminist, there's plenty of room in this world for different kinds of heroes.
3. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. (audio book) My friendly sales rep gave me her copy of this audio. She didn't like it because it was too much ballet for her, but I found it fascinating. Well-written, covering the 1970s up to the 2000s, and following the life of one ballerina who leaves the corps to have a baby, with detours into the lives of the people who have been important to her over the years, including a Russian ballet wunderkind whom she helped to defect. The only part that was a little jarring for me was the narrator, Rebecca Lowman, who is quite good, but I have her firmly fixed in my head as the voices for Rainbow Rowell's characters, so it took me at least 2-3 discs before I stopped hearing Regan, Levy, and Cath from Fangirl, for example, and stopped expecting humor from the dialogue and narrative.
5. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham. This is the only nonfiction I've read this month, and I didn't have time to write up a review, so here's the shelf talker I wrote for my bookstore: Often referred to as a voice of her generation, Dunham covers topics ranging from work to sex to friendship to careers. Her essays are thoughtful and well-written, even if they do seem to flit about between past & present, and her bold voice, filled with proclamations both mundane and profound, is entirely her own. Dunham is occasionally honest to the point of readerly discomfort, but she's so smart that it's easy to look beyond her confessional mode to the heart of this essay collection that is a must-read for all young (or not so young) feminists.
6. The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson. Ditto the time for reviewing this book, so here's another shelf talker: Think of this book as Graham Greene meets The Heart of Darkness. Roland Nair is a man of dubious everything: national origin, loyalty, motive, and scruples. When he returns to Sierra Leone to reconnect with Michael Adriko, his erstwhile friend and a soldier from various countries' armies, ostensibly for a money making scheme, neither is sure if the other man can be trusted. In this post-colonial world, the CIA and other underground organizations have carved up the African continent just as brutally as in the days of imperialism, and Johnson's take on this world fills the reader with a grim fascination.
7. I Was Here by Gayle Forman (YA). This is a slightly different twist on the popular teen suicide genre. Emotive, but less so than her earlier book, If I Stay.
8. Nocturne by Dutchy. (fan fiction). I can always tell my stress levels from my reading habits. Reading some Harry Potter fanfiction back to back with a YA novel? Definitely a higher stress level than usual at work. That being said, this is a good one from the Ashwinder site. The author's description: The unthinkable has happened. Voldemort has won. Now, one Severus Snape must find a new way in this dark and twisted world, one seemingly devoid of all hope.