Romantic Reads · stuff I read

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Summary from Goodreads:
USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins returns with the first book in a breathtaking new series set in the Old West

Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he’s always dreamed of—one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the façade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything . . . and the price seems worth paying.

Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won’t risk her heart for him. As soon as she’s saved enough money from her cooking, she’ll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden . . .

I am very, very overdue to the Beverly Jenkins party.  I’m not exactly sure why – I have at least one of her Destiny books in mass market and one or two on Nook, so, really, this is due to my laziness in not picking them up. (And I met Beverly at Book Riot Live and she’s a sweetheart and really, I needed to read her.)

In Forbidden we are introduced to Eddy (“ee-dy” not “ed-dy”, I checked) Carmichael as she is being robbed of her newly-purchased train ticket and her remaining savings.  She has saved and saved that money, working for little pay as first a cook then a chambermaid (because the bigots she works for decided they didn’t want a black woman in the kitchen) in 1870 Denver, and now it’s gone.  Her sister cannot (or, likely, will not) loan her the money for a new train ticket to San Francisco and so Eddy is forced to trade labor for a ride on a wagon to Fort Collins, then to Reno where she wants to catch a train.  Due to the schedule, she decides to accept another wagon ride from a man who seems quite harmless…but who actually intends Eddy harm – he eventually puts her off the wagon in the middle of a desert.  Eddy is rescued just in time by Rhine, returning home to Virginia City with his business partner Jim, and they start nursing her back to health.

Rhine is a really, really interesting character, and because the blurb spoils it, I’m going to talk about how Jenkins presents him.  We meet Rhine in the Prologue as he returns home (eh, not home, really, since it was the plantation where he was enslaved) looking for his sister and then decides to head West, looking for his sister Sable, half-brother Andrew, and half-sister Maeve.  We are given Rhine’s history with the family, his physical description, and the fact that he is the son of the plantation owner and a slave.  We come back to Rhine when he rescues Eddy – he is now rich and the owner of many profitable enterprises in Virginia City.  He has a fiancée, who we meet later.  But what we are not explicitly told until much later, and I only gradually realized this, is that Rhine is passing as White.

Rhine passing presents a massive obstacle in his attraction to Eddy, far more than the problem of his fiancée.  My usual romance genre is Regency, and existing fiancées are a common obstacle there.  No one’s life is endangered (usually, there are the occasional whacko villains) by breaking an engagement among members of the ton; Rhine’s life and livelihood, and the African-American community as a whole because he uses his privilege to protect their interests, depend upon his privilege as a White man in 1870 Nevada.  In addition, Eddy is not even remotely interested in being a White man’s kept woman, no matter how handsome and magnetic a man.  She is going to work – she’s a fantastic cook and, Lord Almighty, did this book make me hungry – and earn enough money to follow her dreams to San Francisco. 

How Jenkins resolves such a massive obstacle between Rhine and Eddy to bring about their Happily Ever After makes this an A-plus story and romance.  I adore romance novels in which the author widens the scope of the plot so the tension in the plot is not solely due to “I hate you. I love you. God damn it I can’t stop thinking about your hair” (I’m paraphrasing SB Sarah) but heightened due to race or class or marital or financial differences – real-life obstacles – between the couple. I loved the ending. There’s also a very sweet B-plot romance (though we don’t get to see a lot of it) and this book will make you hungry, particularly for marmalade! (And I have to go back and pick up a previous book because it’s the love story for a character who pops up at the end of Forbidden!)

Dear FTC: I received a DRC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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dies · stuff I read

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do by Sarah Knight

Summary from Goodreads:
THE “GENIUS” (Cosmopolitan) NATIONAL BESTSELLER THE ART OF CARING LESS AND GETTING MORE Are you stressed out, overbooked, and underwhelmed by life? Fed up with pleasing everyone else before you please yourself? It’s time to stop giving a f*ck.

THE ART OF CARING LESS AND GETTING MORE
Are you stressed out, overbooked, and underwhelmed by life? Fed up with pleasing everyone else before you please yourself? It’s time to stop giving a f*ck.

This brilliant, hilarious, and practical parody of Marie Kondo’s bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up explains how to rid yourself of unwanted obligations, shame, and guilt–and give your f*cks instead to people and things that make you happy.

The easy-to-use, two-step NotSorry Method for mental decluttering will help you unleash the power of not giving a f*ck about:
Family drama
Having a “bikini body”
Iceland
Co-workers’ opinions, pets, and children
And other bullsh*t! And it will free you to spend your time, energy, and money on the things that really matter. So what are you waiting for? Stop giving a f*ck and start living your best life today!

Warning: If you don’t like cursing, specifically “fuck” and all it’s creative uses, this book (and review) are likely not going to be your cup of tea (I read a review where the reviewer complained there were too many f-bombs, etc. and I almost commented with “duh”.)

So, Sarah Knight – having KonMari’d her physical space – decided that she needed to something about the energy drain that giving too may fucks about things you don’t actually like or care about.  She developed the NotSorry Method.  I.e. if you really don’t like Tuesday night booze and karaoke with other people in your office (whom you don’t otherwise socialize with) because it makes your Wednesday morning hellish, and you care far more about doing your job well and impressing your boss than what Janet four cubicles over thinks about you, then politely decline the karaoke and don’t give a second thought to Janet.  And so on through all the different relationships and scenarios in your life.

The parody aspects of this book – aping the layout and terminology of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – are hilarious.  But all that aside, Knight’s message of only giving your mental space, time, and energy (and occasionally) money to people and things you care about is a really good one.  Definitely a fun, useful book for a new year.

Dear FTC: I purchased my copy of this book.

Overdue Reads · Read Harder · Read My Own Damn Books · Reading Diversely · Reading Matters · SRC

Smell ‘ya later, 2015! Get on in here, 2016! (Come for the books, stay for the pie!)

2015 is being crammed in the recycle bin, hello 2016!  This has been a year of amazing reading and life and I think it was pretty damned excellent.

So, how did I do on non-reading resolutions posted back in January 2015?

1. Be mindful in my reading and bookish purchases – keeping this up will help so much with financial responsibility and the general amount of excess stuff in my house that I will never get around to reading/liking/re-reading. – This resolution went well until about fall and then ALL the books were published, so not terrible but not great.
2. Be timely on reviews – such a big deal, especially for books that I have requested as a reviewer (I know that there has been a lot of discussion in the book blogging community about what is “owed” to a publisher but, in my opinion, if a publicist, etc. has taken the time to send me an ARC or DRC then I should return the gesture by reading and reviewing the book in a timely manner). – Slightly better, but I tend to have review-writing binges because, let’s be honest, I like to read books far more than write about them even if I do like to write about them.
3. Drink more water – do I need to drink as much Dt. Pepsi as I do? No. Although, #deathbeforedecaf is still a mantra (you cannot separate me from my coffee). – eh, I did better not buying two+ mochas per day? I made my own coffee?  Didn’t drink that much more water.
4. Move more – the hip (and knees and back) and I have come to an agreement on ways of moving so I should be able to at least get on the elliptical and basic weights at the gym. – The hip got worse (in fact, I had two cortisone shots last week) so gym was not an option but I did walk a lot.
5. Cook for myself – I got a Dutch oven and new pots and pans for Christmas so this year the goal is to wean myself off of frozen dinners for 2/3 of my meals (they are handy, but my MSG-sensitivity is much less of an issue if I cook food for myself). – This went really well.  Fell off a bit in the summer but got back in the cooking groove in September.
6. Be brave – I still hate having my picture taken or meeting new people but I need to keep putting myself out there. Nothing gets accomplished by holing up in my house with the cats and books and not interacting with actual people in a social setting.
7. Take a vacation – I hope (HOPE HOPE) to have the finances sorted out enough to visit my friend Kate and see Rhinebeck (aka New York Sheep and Wool) this year. ALSO, Book Riot announced their first live event in early November in NYC and I really, really, really want to go to that, too. (And see my friend Beth! And maybe Karen!)
8. Relax – cf. resolution #7. – For 6, 7, and 8, this is all down to Book Riot Live.  I took a real vacation and flew out to see Beth for a few days then we went to BRL which was amazing.  And I rode the subway all by myself.

And now for the pie!!  Pie charts!

To start, I blew past last year’s total of 195 books with 269 books (I had a brief spat with Goodreads, who thought I’d read 270 but it turns out the site had recorded a “finish date” for a book in progress…data, man).  I read so much great stuff this year, too many to pick a favorite, but standouts include runs of ODY-C and The Wicked + The Divine, Between the World and Me, Citizen, Come as You Are, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, The Rogue Not Taken, Dancer, Edinburgh, When a Scot Ties the Knot, and The World Between Two Covers, which influenced a lot of my book purchasing and reading for the rest of the year and beyond.

How many different genres did I read?  More books = more genres!

 

I leaned farther toward physical formats than digital this year, mostly due to a dislike of how Comixology was redesigned after the sale.  I let my subscriptions expire there and transferred them to my LCS (Geek City Games and Comics, holla!) if I wanted any of the new runs.  This will also be the last year for Oyster in my stats (boo!) but in July the three local libraries pooled their digital resources to make Digital Johnson County – now I can borrow ebooks and e-audiobooks using Overdrive!

Speaking of library use, I put that library card (all three) to good use this year and started snagging library books and audio CDs instead of buying all the things.

This year I started tracking whether the book was translated into English, a result of my having read The World Between Two Covers.  An informal count for last year puts my number of “books read in translation” under 10 so this is an improvement.

How about the percentage of genders?

This was the first year in a long while – since 2006 –  that male authors crept up to the 50% mark, due to the runs of ODY-C, The Wicked + The Divine, and Wayward where the writers and authors are male (white males, too, which will come up again in a bit), to the tune of 20+ issues read in physical comic form.  In contrast, my aversion to the Comixology format caused me to forgo reading Ms. Marvel in issues and wait until the last two trades were available in paperback to read them – changing approximately 11-12 issues into two books.  It changes the “opportunities” in the data for G. Willow Wilson.  Also worth pointing out, to my knowledge all of these authors are cis-gendered; I don’t really track orientation, though I know a number of authors I read in 2015 are gay or lesbian.

So here’s the big, big deal: did I read more authors of color?  Last year, only 11 of 195 (5.6%) authors were non-white so I gave myself a D- in Diversity.  This year:

Not a great jump, 15.5% non-white, but at least it didn’t go backward.  So I will advance myself to D+ status.  Still, not a passing grade.

I decided to do a second breakdown, this time race by genre, to see where non-white authors are coming into my reading and where I really need to start looking (and actually reading – I have a lot of POC in my TBR stacks).  I deliberately didn’t combine comics and graphic novels/manga so I could see that all the comics issues have white writers (to be honest, the East Asian authors in the GN/Manga bar are all from the manga genre).  There are a lot of places to improve.  A LOT.

My reading is still very heavily from Anglophone countries, however, my reading The World Between Two Covers did prod me to widen my reading to include more authors with origins outside my very safe US/UK/Canadian reading borders.

What are my plans for 2016?

1. #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks
2. Be timely on reviews – I have made serious use of my OmniFocus apps to get the release dates for DRCs/ARCs I have organized and to help my organize my reading into individual tasks (GTD FTW!!) which should (ideally) help with getting reviews written and posted in a more timely manner.
3. Drink more water – the FitBit app can help track this, so I should use it.
4. Move more – the cortisone shots take full effect by the end of January so I hope to at least be back on the elliptical in a regular manner.
5. Cook for myself – this is going really well.  I also received My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl and I want to make all the things!  This is also good for the budget.
6. Be brave – I’m better at not hiding in general but if you throw me into a crowd by myself I tend to either not talk to people or glom onto the one person I actually know and talk A LOT (read: too much about nothing in general).  And in that vein…
7. I am going to BEA!!!  I just got registered for my very first BEA (ouch, the dollars) so I will have to be super brave, and network, and find my way around a huge convention center filled with people and not glom onto my roommates for the week.
8. Stop driving to work – last week was a bust with the cortisone shots, but this week in taking the bus to work rather than driving has been going well.  I hope to keep it up because $10-15 per day to park the car (plus the extra gasoline) vs. $2 per day riding the bus is a way better fiscal plan.
9. Last, but certainly not the least at all, I need to increase the percentage of books and comics I read that are written by non-white authors.  Some genres (like fiction) will be a simple matter of reading books already on my TBR, others (comics, romance, biography, sciences) need me to put forth a far more conscious effort.  I would also like to start tracking LGBTQIA as best I can – I use a relational database, so it’s not hard to add and even compare to previous years, but this might take more than just reading an author’s bio.  People do not fit neatly into boxes, and I certainly don’t want a world where each author fills out a form and checks all the boxes related to diversity just because that makes it easy for poor little me, but I need to think about how to look for that information.  (My default right now is “white, cis-gendered, straight, USA” if I can’t find information that is self-identified otherwise.)  I’ll try to take a look at reading stats at least halfway through the year, if not more, to see how I’m doing.

And that’s it!  Bring it, 2016!

stuff I read

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

Summary from Goodreads:

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena—dazzling, poignant, and lyrical interwoven stories about family, sacrifice, the legacy of war, and the redemptive power of art.

This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

I haven’t yet read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (see: I have a lot of unread books on my Nook because of ebook sales) so I’m making my introduction to full-length Anthony Marra work with his new collection of interlocking short stories set in the Soviet Union/Russia and spanning from the era of Stalin to the 2010s of Putin, The Tsar of Love and Techno.  Each chapter’s narrator links in some way to the next chapter’s narrator but the tie for all these stories is a Soviet art “restoration” expert who is tasked with erasing dissidents from photographs and paintings and keeping Stalin’s photographic appearance youthful.  As Roman alters history he paints-in images of his brother Vaska, imagined images ranging in age from a young child to an old man, because Vaska was executed for remaining faithful to the Orthodox church.

These stories nest and curl around one another in an intricate tangle.  Roman becomes obsessed with the image of a disgraced ballerina – one he is meant to “erase” – which leads to his downfall.  In the next story, the life of the ballerina and her subsequent family in a Siberian labor camp is narrated by a Greek chorus comprised of the women descended from the ballerina’s fellow labor-camp inmates.  The next story moves to Grozny, in the immediate aftermath of the war in Chechnya, where an art curator cleverly creates a tourism board and art museum out of nothing to finance the reconstructive surgery of a dear friend injured in a bombing when an oligarch, with the ballerina’s granddaughter on his arm, comes to town.  And so on – nine chapters fill in the details of men and women living out uncertain lives of heartbreaking reality.  The Tsar of Love and Techno is a wonderful puzzle box of a novel.  The only, only possible mis-step was the very last chapter which changed style entirely to near-fantasy whereas most of the chapters clung to realism with only a tiny hint of magical realism.  It didn’t add much to the content of the novel, except to fill in the tracks on a mysterious mix tape and I find that I would have rather continued to guess at its contents.

A definite recommend if you’re looking for a beautiful but wrenching book.

Dear FTC: I received a DRC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

PS: If you want a taste of Marra’s writing, the seventh chapter, “The Palace of the People” was included in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. I had been thinking I had read that story before then pegged it when the two characters got on the subway.

Read My Own Damn Books

A Much Needed Opportunity: #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks

Confession: I buy lots of books.  I have some unread paper galleys/finished copies, too, but since I get most advances digitally the vast balance of unread items in my house are purchases.

(OK, so this is probably not a huge surprise since I’m a book person and you’re probably a book person and possibly have a similar large stash of unread books).

Well, I did an informal count and it seems that the unread portion is between 40 and 50% of my personal library.  And that’s just printed paper books.  This number is approaching four digits and I’m not even going to pretend to try and count the unread books in my Nook and iBook accounts.  Let’s just say that I shouldn’t be allowed near an ebook sale with a credit card for the same reason that I can’t be allowed in a library sale by myself.

So, I need to read books that I already own because…sigh.

Conveniently enough, Andi at Estella’s Revenge has a solution for me: #readmyowndamnbooks, a You-Do-You Reading Effort.

There aren’t really any “rules” – no percentages or quotas, etc.  Just however we want to try and read down our TBRs.  These are Andi’s super basic rules for herself:

  • Read my own books
  • Try to knock off 100 in 2016 by either reading them or ditching the ones that are DNF
  • I can’t buyyyy myself any books until I’ve read a significant amount of my own. Like maybe I can treat myself for every 5-10 of my own books I read. I’ll be fairly flexible with this and see where my guilt leads me.
  • If I’m itching for newness…use the library. Even if it’s the shitty local one.

Pretty easy, right?  I’ve been thinking about this for a bit and I’ve come up with my “rules” based off Andi’s rules, since I like them alot:

  • Read my own books (that’s an easy one, haha)
  • Do a cull of my personal library in a reverse-KonMari way (yes, I read that book, it was OK, but not terribly useful for me personally in general, good to think about on a “materialism” level, though).  Now, I can’t use KonMari itself – a book in general gives me joy.  So I reverse this – if I pick up the book and I immediately think ” *sigh* I still have to finish this” or “I will never re-read this” or “I don’t remember buying this” or “Ugh, this author is a turd” then that is a clear signal that the book needs to go in the library donation bag (legit, the 2014 prize for finishing the ICPL adult summer reading program was a gigantic tote bag) or in a paper bag to make a short trip to the recycling center (reserved for crappy-looking books and galleys I don’t want).  I can probably do a pretty fast cull and dump 100 books easy.
  • a) Avoid buying books just because the book is there and I can.  b) Keep track of the books I buy – I’m thinking a simple list on the List app since I can update that from my phone (if you’re also on the List app, *waves*).  c) If I’m “maybe” on a book, get myself to the library, don’t fork over the dollars.
  • Think twice before buying a Nook or iBook just because it’s on sale (I don’t have a good solution for ebook impulse buying). Of course, now that I’ve said that, Avon Books is going to have an amazing surprise sale or something…*sigh* #bookwormprobz.
  • Shift my library audiobook reading – I really got into using audiobooks during the day job this past year so I should really investigate the Overdrive audio and CD audio library holdings to help knock down the unread titles (and then decide if I really want to keep the paper copy).

So that’s it!  Pretty simple.  I’ll try and do updating periodically.  I’ll also be hosting a challenge with Andi round-about May, so that’ll be fun!

Go forth and Read Your Own Damn Books!

mini-review · stuff I read

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

Summary from Goodreads:
Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things–which includes a never-before published American Gods story, “Black Dog,” written exclusively for this volume.

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.

A fantastic (and fantastical) collection of short stories. Once I’d started reading I couldn’t stop.

Beautiful work on “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”, “Click Clack the Rattlebag”, “Black Dog” and “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains.” A few stories, like “Black Dog” and “Nothing O’clock” probably read better if you’re at least a little bit familiar with the concept of American Gods and the Doctor Who-verse.

I very much appreciated the Introduction where Neil told us a bit about where he got the idea for each story and where it might have appeared previously.

(Incidentally, I’ve heard him read his own work before so I could easily hear him reading in my head as I read each story. Particularly “Click Clack the Rattlebag” – which I heard him read on a podcast or something last Halloween and it is creepy, no lie).

Dear FTC: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

happy dance · stuff I read

Dance to the Piper by Agnes de Mille

Summary from Goodreads:
Born into a family of successful playwrights and producers, Agnes de Mille was determined to be an actress. Then one day she witnessed the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova, and her life was altered forever. Hypnotized by Pavlova’s beauty, in that moment de Mille dedicated herself to dance. Her memoir records with lighthearted humor and wisdom not only the difficulties she faced—the resistance of her parents, the sacrifices of her training—but also the frontier atmosphere of early Hollywood and New York and London during the Depression. “This is the story of an American dancer,” writes de Mille, “a spoiled egocentric wealthy girl, who learned with difficulty to become a worker, to set and meet standards, to brace a Victorian sensibility to contemporary roughhousing, and who, with happy good fortune, participated by the side of great colleagues in a renaissance of the most ancient and magical of all the arts.”

Strangely, I think I read Dance to the Piper before, or tried to, because the early sections of the book were crazily familiar. When I was a child, I read any and all dance biographies or memoirs I could lay my hands on, which were pitifully few given my local public library. I read Alicia Markova’s constantly, understood most of Margot Fonteyn’s, was frightened by Gelsey Kirkland’s, but I didn’t understand Agnes de Mille’s.
1) de Mille wasn’t a ballet dancer so was immediately of less interest to me (tutus and toe shoes were my jam)
2) She didn’t take ballet lessons until she was an adult but she still wanted to emulate Pavlova (*cue scoffing from one totally stuck-up kid*)
3) She went on and on about her own dances which I had never heard of or seen (I knew she had choreographed Oklahoma! but this was completely prior to that and made no sense).

It didn’t take.

Well, I’m so thankful that NYRB Classics printed a new edition and that they contacted me out of the blue and offered a review copy. A re-read almost 30 years later – with a much wider dance education and modern classes under my belt, not to mention a dance minor – really made the difference in my understanding.  de Mille’s memoir is not only a chronicle of her experiences as an itinerant, aspiring dancer in an era when America was developing its idea of the art form apart from classical ballet but also the very early silent motion picture era when her father moved the family West to join his brother Cecil (yep, that de Mille) in California. Her story is a testament to how your dreams and goals change over time.  She never gives up her dream of being a dancer, and her determination to keep with her ballet training was a major influence on her later choreographic style, but she slowly turns from classical ballet to an original contemporary or modern style.  We would never have had Rodeo without her.

A few chapters are a bit uneven in places, and clearly shows mid-century psychological theories around the edges, but de Mille captured everything so brilliantly.  Dance history fanatics will goggle at the sheer number of mid-twentieth century dancers de Mille interacted with both in the US and in England. For a memoir supposedly delivered to her editor in a grocery sack, the sentence-level quality of writing is excellent.

(Must also point out an introduction by the dance critic Joan Acocella)

Dear FTC: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.