Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ramble: What to Read Next?

I plowed through six Julia Quinn novels in three days. I have two more to read to finish the Bridgerton Series but my mind was getting overloaded and I need a rest from the romance novel. I'm also reading a book on the modern church for the book club at church and a book on manner that I must read in small doses because it tends to spark rants about the state of manners in society - really long rants.

I need a book for the interum. Therefore, I ran my Book List through a random number generator and these are the first five choices:

The Martyred Christian: 160 Readings by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and ed. by Joan Winmill Brown

Fodor's 2004: Ireland ed. by Karen Cure

Leading Religions of the World by Max Stilson

The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th Century Literary Imagination by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Guber

Description by Monica Wood (Elements of Writing Fiction)

I admit I'm not enamorded with these choices. Yes, they are my books and I purchased them to read but I am looking for something...not them. Perhasp the next five?

Heat Stroke by Rachel Craine (Weatherwarden, Book 2)

First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by Luong Ung

Community Nurse by Lucy Agnes Hancock

On Prejudice: A Global Perspective by Daniela Gioseffi

The Messenger by Lois Lowry

Still not enamored. Le sigh. I shall to fall back on the tried'n'true method of staring at the bookshelves until something catches my brain.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Aquistions: Paperbacks Inc and Amazon

The Duke and I by Julie Quinn

An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn

When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn

It's In His Kiss by Julia Quinn

Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens

Wit'ch Storm by James Clemens

Wit'ch War by James Clemens

Wit'ch Gate by James Clemens

Wit'ch Star by James Clemens

Sunwing by Kenneth Oppell

The Whitefire Crossing
by Courtney Schaffer
(Recommended by Fantasy Book Critics)

In My Mailbox was created by The Story Siren

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

Synopsis: This is a collection of 25 short stories, including the famous prose "The Lottery" written by Shirley Jackson. It is divided into 3 sections, with an introduction by Patrick McGrath.
Jackson is considered to be one of the best American gothic/horror writers and has be cited as inspiration and influence by such renowed writers and Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. In fact, King listed her work "The Haunting of Hill House" as one of the finest exampled of horror literature in the 20th century.

Review: In the spirit of my self-inflicted directive to improve my writing by widening my reading, I picked up this small unassuming tome thinking to read a small selection of fine literary stories. What I got was a collection of stories that coalleased into a creature of words and imagines that haunted my dreams. Not because of gory and violent monsteres - but because the monsteres were human. The remains one of the few books I've read that will "haunt" me until I die. Her writing is simple, evocative and creepy. It's beautiful and terrible at the same time. I highly recommend, but caution you to keep something fluffy and light to read next.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 07-27-2011
Pages: 292

Friday, July 22, 2011

Aquisition: Thrift Stores

[Video Omitted because of a Technical Error Mostly due to Stupidity on the Part of the User]

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel

Azazel: Fantasy Stories by Isaac Asimov

More Stories to Remember by Thomas B. Costain and John Beecroft (Volume II)

The Dark Horse by John Fischner

Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge

The Double Life of Stephen Crane by Christopher Benfey

Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities by Alexandra Robbins

Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories by Robert J. Morgan

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Synopsis: Iain MacAslan must rent out his family's mansion for the summer to get money for taxes. He loathes to do it, but at least has the warmth and support of his men, his people and his family. And then Linda, the fairy girl who stole his heart is one of the party. But she brings her past with him and it's up to Iaian to free her to love - if he can?

Review: I read this book on the recommendation of Lanier Books, who can always be counted to suggest books of depth, beauty, wonder, sweetness and strength. I enjoyed the characters, the roundness of the secondary ones, the description and lyrical words. Highly recommend.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7/21/2011
Pages: 361

Review: Best-Loved Short Stories of Ninteenth-Century America ed. by Stefan Dziemianowicz

Synopsis: This is a collection of short stories from the 19th including stories by Poe, Twain, Alcott, Crane and Melville.

Review: This is a fine collection of stories, with a wide range, tone, voice and style. It's an excellent start for anyone wanting to sample 19th century writing.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7/18/2011
Pages: 612

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review: The Lady Most Likely by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway

Synopsis: Hugh Dunne, the Early of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them - and a few other gentleman - to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season. Hugh will have time to woo whichever lady he most desires...Unless someones else snatches her first.

I like Julia Quinn and I was knew I would enjoy this book. The idea of three authors writing three stories all tied together was an excellent idea. I enjoyed Quinn's excerpt the most, and James's the least - mostly due to her lack if dialogue. In all, this was a delightful as I expected.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7-8-11
Pages: 372

Aquisitions: Thrift Stores

Scheherazade Goes West: Differnt Cultures, Different Harems
by Fatema Mernissi

Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn

The Lady Most Likely
by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway

Review: Marvelous Mattie: How Margaret E. Knight Became an Inventor by Emily Arnold McCully

Synopsis: This story of the first woman to receive a U.S. patent makes an excellent introduction to inventors and Womens History Month. Knight used tools inherited from her father to design and build her inventions. As a child, she was always sketching one of her brainstorms for toys and kites for her brothers. She once designed a foot warmer for her mother. Although it was never patented, Knights design for a safer loom saved textile workers from injuries and death. Later as an adult, she fought in court and won the right to patent her most famous invention, a machine that would make paper bags. (from the amazon description)

Review: This is a children's book about a young woman later named "The Lady Edison" it's concise, well-written and despite the sparse words, does an excellent job of telling to story of Margaret E. Knight. The illustrations as a wonderful touch - not only pictures, but reprints of Knight's actual notebook! This is an excellent book for young girls.

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7-8-11
Pages: 32

Review: Handbook of English Costume in the 19th century, by C. Willett Cunnington & Phillis Cunnington

Synopsis: A detailed guided to clothing for men, women and child from the 1800-1900s.

Review: This was painfully detailed, and used mostly sewing and clothing vocabulary, most of which I didn't understand. However, it was also well-ilistrated, so I was able to get the jist of the idea. For someone looking for a general idea, this book is too detailed. For someone wanting to be authentic, this book is perfect!

Bookmarks: 7 of 10

Awards: None

Date Finished: 7-3-2011
Pages: 617

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review: Heartless by Gail Garriger

Synopsis: Lady Alexia Maccon, soulless, is at it again, only this time the trouble is not her fault. When a mad ghost threatens the queen, Alexia is on the case, following a trail that leads her deep into her husband's past. Top that off with a sister who has joined the suffragette movement (shocking!), Madame Lefoux's latest mechanical invention, and a plague of zombie porcupines and Alexia barely has time to remember she happens to be eight months pregnant.
Will Alexia manage to determine who is trying to kill Queen Victoria before it is too late? Is it the vampires again or is there a traitor lurking about in wolf's clothing? And what, exactly, has taken up residence in Lord Akeldama's second best closet?

Review: Unlike Blameless and Changeless, this one is a stand alone story, although it is linked quite properly to the previous three books. I enjoyed the further exploration of several secondary characters and the action, although I wasn't as pleased by the ending as the other three. However, the characters remain true, the humor is sharp and witty, and the action quick and well-done.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Award: None

Pages: 385
Date Finished: 7-2-2011

Review: Blameless by Gail Carriger

Synopsis: Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.
Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.
While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto. (from the back of the book)

This is the second part of the story begun in Changless. I enjoyed finally seeing the mysterious Templers, hearing about Alexia's father, and the whole pesto thing. As for the deeper issue between Alexia and Conall, Carriger did an excellent job of putting depth, heart, sorrow and joy into their relationship. She was able to keep the characters true to themselve while exploring them as they dealt with the new issues. In all, this was an excellent book and solidified Carriger as a favorite author.

Bookmarks: 9 of 10

Awards: None

Pages: 374
Date Finished: 6-30-2011

Review: White Gloves and Party Manners by Marjabelle Young and Ann Buchwald

Synopsis: A series of instructions on proper and correct manners regarding interactions with other people in a variety of social settings.

Review: This is a simple book on manners written in 1965. While some of the instructions seem old fashion, most are relivant regardless of time. We may not have maids that serve our meals, but not talking with your mouth full is good manners today as well as 50 years ago. Instructions on basic introductions, good table and phone manners, parties, going out to resturants and movies, and general social interactions are all covered.
Like all books such as this, it's an excellent resource. But most children will learn their manners from parents, not a book. For me, it reminded me of the basics that my mother sought to teach me and how I've let myself slide a bit as grew. This was a refresher course for me, and I recommend it to anyone looking for the same thing.

7 of 10


Finished: 06-27-2011

Aquisitions: In the Mail!

Heartless by Gail Carriger

Why Manners Matter: The Case for Civilized Behavior in a Barbarous World
by Lucinda Holdforth

White Gloves and Party Manners
by Marjabelle Young and Ann Buchwald

Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger

Synopsis: Alexia Tarabotti, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears - leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.
But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it. (from the back of the book)

Review: As with Soulless, this book is full of wit, depth, humor and excellent characters. It also go further into the difference between supernatural, natural and preternatural. Carriger continues her world building by revealing the history of the werewolves and vampires, by introducing Maccon's pack and the pack dynamics and the conflict between the different cultures and creatures. There is more steampunk in this work as well, with the dirigibles and more romance, although not between Maccon and Alexia.
Word of caution: The ending is abrupt. It would be wise to have the third book, Blameless, sitting beside you.

Bookmarks: 9 of 10

Awards: None

Pages: 374
Date Finished: 6-27-2011

Review: Soulless by Gail Carriger

Synopsis: Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart? (from the back of the book)

Review: This is one of the best books I've read recently. The author cites P.G. Wodehouse, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens as her inspirations and it certainly shows. The prose is light, funny, full of exquisite vocab and hilarious quips, but the story never degrades into farce. It's a strong story, deep, complex, the characters multi-faceted and unique.
What I enjoyed most about this book was watching Alexia struggle with the same basic emotions most of us do, despite being set in a wild alternate universe. Carriger has a great talent for story telling!

9 of 10

Awards: Compton Crook Award nominee for the best first novel of the year in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, or horror fiction
Locus Award finalist for Best First Novel
Locus placed her on their recommended reading list.
Soulless was one of just ten novels to receive the 2010 Alex Award from the American Library Association as a book written for adults that has a "special appeal" to young adults.
Publishers Weekly placed the book on their "Best Books of 2009" list, one of just five mass-market books to make the cut.
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Pages: 384
Date Finished: 6-15-2011