Friday, August 17, 2007

A prospect of purchase...

I think I deserve a present. I am trying to come up with some kind of reason as to why I deserve this present...something along the lines of, "it's been a really hard year in AmeriCorps this year," is all I can come up with at this point. At any rate, I have decided my present is going to be the purchase of two new books, one in particular that has been quite difficult to find. I have looked at just about every Barnes and Nobles I have come across, but I have just been completely unable to find a copy of The Alexiad by Anna Comna. The only place I can find it it off I think I have mentioned before my obsession with book lists. There are two main book lists that I am attempting to read. One is the complete title list of all Penguin classics (Penguin being the publishing company) and the other is the London Observer's 100 greatest novels list. I have not completed anything off these lists yet this year (though I am trying with Benjamin Constant's Adolphe), and so both of my new books will be off these lists. I am reading them in order, Penguin in alphabetical by title, and the Observer in countdown fashion. Eventually I will get to the greatest novel of all time. And so. In 3-5 business days I will be the proud owner of The Alexiad by Anna Comna and Angela Carter's Wise Children. This prospect makes me happy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Respectable Trade - Phillippa Gregory

a respectable trade
philippa gregory
c. 1992

488 pages

Was I in any way kidding when I said most of the books I read are historical fiction? Apparently not.

This is not the first novel I've read by Philippa Gregory, in fact I have now read four and some. Before this I have completed The Other Bolyne Girl, The Queen's Fool, and The Constant Princess, as well as attempting The Wise Woman and Wideacre, neither of which I enjoyed resulting in me not completing them. I do think I should try The Wise Woman again, however.

It think that out of the four I've read this was my least favorite. Perhaps it was the lack of courtly drama, but it just did not move for me the way the others did. I couldn't get too invested in any of the characters. I liked Francis and Mehuru okay, but was not enthralled with what happened to them.

It was interestig listening to Sarah's hysterics. I don't think you often hear people claiming that they are better suited for handling money and business because they were born lower than that with whom they are arguing. I also was intrigued since this is an area of history I know very little about. Growing up in the US I am fairly well versed in the slave trade that climaxed at the civil war, but I know extremely little about the British point of view, how slavery was used and eventually abolished in Britain and on the West Indies plantations.

The book was decent. I do not entirely understand how Mehuru grew to love Francis, but really who can explain love. I also though the ending came about real quick. Things were moving along slowly, then all of a sudden Francis was pregnant, all of a sudden shit hit the fan with Josiah and the Hot Springs, and then BOOP! Francis was dead.


It was a small matter of discouragement...

Things seem to be looking up slightly. I have been able to read a little more. Possibly because I am stuck at Camp Hope(less) in Violet, LA every weekend instead of out and about with my girl like the last two rounds. Really, whose idea was it to put her in Pittsburgh? I am still trying to set up this blog quite the way I want it to be. As always I am having some difficulties. Mostly I'm not sure how many lists I should add. I love lists. I am, in many ways, unfortunate. I am discouraged however. I am in the business of volunteering. One does not aquire much money out of this. And because I have to travel so much I really can't utilize local libraries and the like. And so I am forced to spend the little money I have. Or sit in Barnes and Nobles for hours reading books in rediculous installments.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling

harry potter and the deathly hallows
jk rowling
c. 2007
784 pages

Ok, I will be for real real and not for play play and admit that not only do I absolutely love Harry Potter, but I was so totally at Barnes and Nobles at midnight getting my book. I still have my little paper bracelet on my wrist saying I preordered my book, though I suppose that's kind of gross. I did not in any way want to put that book down until I finished it. Sunday afternoon I was done, and crying. In a small attempt to save a little of my dignity, I want all to know that I did NOT dress up for the event.

There's so much that I could say on the subject of the last Harry Potter book. First let me say that I hope no one who has not finished it is reading this as I don't want to spoil it for anyone. For the Harry Potter books in general, I absolutely love how much attention to detail there is. There's no way any of these books could be ones where you just skim over some of the descriptions and rely on the conversation to move the story along. Otherwise you miss things. Important things. Things that don't show until a few books later. For example the flippant way Sirius Black was introduced in the very first chapter of the very first book: Hagrid mentioning he had borrowed his flying motorcycle. Sirius did not become an actual character until two books later.

For this book in particular, I am torn in two ways. I feel that it what was told in the story was imperative. There was no way around it. However, I did miss the familiarity of the school year and the simple concerns of adolescents paralleling the overwhelming fear of a much bigger evil.

I have heard many people complain that there was no full turn around for the Malfoys, that there was no real act of redemtion. Yes, Narcissa pronounced Harry dead when she knew he wasn't, but that was in no way an act of repentance for the evil she and her family had been involved in, it was an act of concern for nothing other than the well-being of her son. I think many people felt the Malfoy's should have realized their wrong doings and joined the fight against Voldemort, but I definitely did not see that. They chose the dark side. They believe in what he stood for. A redemtion would make no sense.

There was one small moment that I felt was wrong when I read it, and that was the death of Fred Weasley. I read what was written on the page and thought to myself, "no, she means Percy." It should have been Percy. He had just returned to his family after almost three years of neglect. Yes, part of me wanting it to be Percy and not Fred probably stems from Fred being my favorite characted. I wept. I have never cried while reading a Harry Potter book (or really any book), but when Fred died I couldn't hold it in. And so there may be some bias in my opinion, but the beautiful irony would have been there, Percy's return to his family only to die beside them, fighting what he had for so long refused to believe.

One last problem I had with the book was that I wish we could have seen more of the coping and rebuilding. Though that I suppose would have been anti climactic.

I loved this book. I thought it was an incredibly end to an incredible journey.


Sunday, August 5, 2007

Or Give Me Death - Ann Rinaldi

or give me death
ann rinaldi
240 pages

c. 2004

This book tells the story of Patrick Henry's family and the deteriorating sanity of his wife through the eyes of two of his daughters, Patsy and Ann. The first half of the book is told from Patsy's point of view and the second half from Ann's.

And again I'm reading childrens books. It's possible I need to work on that. I've been reading Ann Rinaldi's books for years, since I was 8 or 9 I believe. Since the time I SHOULD have been reading them. But I loved them so much and so I continue to add to my collection.

I am in many ways a nerd, and have always loved reading and learning about history which is why many, if not most, of the books I read are historical fiction, and this book is no exception. My favorite part of Ann Rinaldi's books are the end. After she's written her story, she writes and author's note where she goes through everything she's written and separates the fact from the fiction so the reader knows what actually happened and what the author has imagined.

I wasn't thrilled when halfway through the book it switched narrators. I kept forgetting and thinking that Patsy was talking which was somewhat annoying, though I imagine my own fault. The story itself was a little slow; quite a bit was spent worrying about who would inherit the "bad blood," though that did lead to quite a bit of character development. I went through the book quickly and for what it was quite enjoyed it.