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Since I talked about movies last post, I’ll mention the book(s) I’m reading this week, when I can get my eyes to focus (see below, re: sinus/cold/whatever misery… I’ve been resting a LOT, shouldn’t I be getting better?).

THE IRON HUNT
, by Marjorie M. Liu. I’m a fan of Marjorie’s anyway, so this foray into Urban Fantasy thrilled me, not least because I thought it was different from the boilerplate tough-girl vamp/demon/whatever hunter. (Which, don’t get me wrong, I love.) This world has a lot of layers to it, and the book is an engrossing, but not a simplistic read. The narrator doesn’t come right out and explain things, and sometimes you’re learning things as she does. However, loved her demons, loved the writing, loved the texture of this one.

THE PINK CARNATION, by Laura Willig. (Actually, I think the real title is "the Secret History of the pink carnation.") This is a premise, that I love: Modern Day Heroine comes across journals/letters/eye-witness/etc. that tell(s) a parallel story from the past. In this case, she wants to discover the identity of "The Pink Carnation"–a spy of the Scarlet Pimpernel stamp. It’s Napoleonic War spy stuff, so I’m inclined to like it anyway, but I really am enjoying the story. My only quibble is that the historical characters’ dialogue occasionally teeters right on the edge of too modern in cadence and informality. Oh, and the head hopping between POVs, but not everyone finds that as distracting as I do.

Finally…

CHALICE, by Robin McKinley. I make no secret of my McKinley love. I’m a fangirl. Chalice was wonderful, told with rich descriptions and emotions, and what I’ve come to view as a McKinley-esque blend of the practical with the magical. (In Sunshine it was the baking of the cinnamon rolls. Here it’s beekeeping and honey.) Mirasol hold the position in of "Chalice" in her land, and she’s responsible for holding everything together: people, animals, earth energy. She’s landed in the role with no training, so she’s researching and sort of making it up as she goes along during a critical time, when the demesnes has a new Master (an inherited position of magical authority) who seems ill suited to the job. She has to shore up his position magically, and it comes down to a challenge for the mastership and she saves the day in an unexpected way.

What I love about McKinley’s heroines is that they are unexpectedly strong. She usually pushes them to the end of their endurance–and makes you feel that as a reader–before giving them victory. They’re not tough in the butt-kicking chick way that many strong females are portrayed in contemporary novels, but have to dig deep to keep going, and find reserves that no one would expect them to have.

There’s a bit of a Beauty and the Beast thread in the story, the transformative power of love. I think it’s interesting how often that comes up in McKinley’s writing. It’s one of my favorite themes (and fairy tales) and maybe that’s no coincidence.

What have you guys been reading lately?