Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Tsarina's Daugter - Carolly Erickson

the tsarina's daughter
carolly erickson
c. 2008
336 pages
completed 6/23/2009

read for: what's in a name challenge

*may contain spoilers*

The Tsarina's Daughter tells the story of the last of the Romanovs, Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra, and their five children, Tsarovich Alexei and the Grand Duchesses Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia, through the eyes of Tatiana. From the beginning we learn that Tatiana has managed to escape the fate of her family, as another woman took her place during the last of her family's days in Siberia, and now as an old woman living in Canada has decided to share her story.

I loved this book. LOVED IT. I don't know much about the Romanovs other than the very basic facts and what little truth can be gleaned from that one animated Anastasia movie (which is obviously not much). I didn't realize it had ended during the middle of World War I, or how really awful things were in parts of Russia. And it was surprising to read that all the turmoil was really only happening in parts of Russia, like St. Petersburg and Moscow. So it was an interesting read.

I liked that in this book it was Tatiana who got away, as opposed to Anastasia as the legend usually goes. I wonder what made the author make this unusual choice of daughters.

I found parts of this story extremely frustrating just because Nicholas and Alexandra were appalling in this book. They were so out of touch and so ineffective as rulers. I don't know if this is what they were really like, but the way they were portrayed in this book makes it almost impossible to sympathize with them.

One thing I was a bit dissatisfied with was the character of Constantin. I liked him so much, and we spent so much time exploring his relationship with Tatiana, that is seemed very sudden when their relationship ended. I liked Michael, too, but I was already invested in Constantin.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Rose Rent - Ellis Peters

the rose rent
ellis peters
c. 1986
240 pages
completed 6/18/2009

read for: brother cadfael chronicles

*may contain spoilers*

Set in the spring of 1142, The Rose Rent is a mystery revolved around the young widow Judith Pearle, the house she bequeathed to the Shrewsbury Abbey for a rent of an annual white rose from the garden, and the murder of the young Brother Eluric who was in love with Judith. Brother Cadfael and Hugh Berringar work together to uncover the murderer. However, the mystery is intensified after the disappearance of Judith and the death of another young man of her household.

Slowly but surely I am making my way through these books. It's nice that I get to go back and forth between ones where I am familiar with the story since they were made into episodes for the TV series and ones that are completely new. This installment is one I have seen many times. It's a little hard to review the books that I've seen the movie for...

This one is good. It's an interesting and somewhat romantic mystery, what with the rent being a single white rose. There were some changes/additions to the story when the movie was made. Unfortunately since I saw the movie first, I was disappointed to not find those things in the book. Niall Bronzesmith is a little bit of a question mark in the movie, a little angry and bitter and a possible suspect, but in the book he's sweet and incredibly caring. The climax of the movie is a little more intense with the murderer setting the house and rosebush on fire and trying to burn himself and Judith unless she agrees to marry him, but that does not happen at all in the book. Other than those little discrepancies that disappointed me a bit, this installment was very enjoyable. And I guess I can't really fault the book for not having those bits.


It's Tuesday, where are you?

Tsarskoye Selo St. Petersburg (Petrograd), Russia

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Music Mix Friday...George Strait "Amarillo By Morning"

Okay, I know it's really Wednesday, but I'm going to be out of town on Friday. So we'll have Music Mix Friday on Wednesday. Tomorrow I am going to Amarillo, Texas for my friend's wedding. So here's George Strait singing "Amarillo By Morning."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Music Mix Friday...Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin "Oregon Girl"

On this day in history (1991), Boris Yeltsin was elected president of Russia. He was Russia's first democratically elected president. According to my google homepage. And so in the spirit of democracy, I present to you "Oregon Girl" by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.

Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux

phantom of the opera
gaston leroux
c. 1910
264 pages
completed 6/9/2009

read for: decades challenge, orbis terrarum challenge

*may contain spoilers*

This is another one of those books where I was nervous through the whole thing because it is held very near and dear to someone's heart. In this case, my sister, the librarian. But I am happy to report...I LIKED IT! Surprise, surprise. Something she liked that I liked, too.

Couple things that stuck out to me...

Number 1...The author kept referring to Raoul and Christine as children, so I kept imagining them to be about 14. But while I don't think they ever explicitly say what Christine's age is, Raoul has been said to be 20 or 21 years old! Young, yes, but definitely not a child. If they were really around 14, I could then understand their "secret engagement," but at 20 years could they think that was a good idea? I don't understand.

Number 2...Who was the Persian? I mean, I understand his history and connection with Erik, but did he have any kind of connection to the Opera other than that? And if not, how come no one thought it was weird that he just roamed through the Opera all the time?

Number 3...I don't 100% understand what happened at the end. After the water was rising and the Persian and Raoul were trapped in the torture chamber. I don't know how they got out. Maybe it got explained and I just didn't understand.

So. A few questions, but for the most part I enjoyed reading this. It's definitely a bit different from the musical. It's a little creepy and confusing and lots of fun. I felt lame writing that last sentence.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Music Mix Friday...Ben Folds Five "Brick"

Went and saw Ben Folds at the House of Blues a few weeks ago. It was way super awesome.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You know you're going through budget cuts when...

We ran out of hand soap for the bathroom a week or so ago. My office is located in a transitional housing unit for former foster/homeless youth. So we sometimes have some bulk home supplies stored in our bathroom in case our residents ever need anything and can't afford it. Like tampons and lice removal kits and face wash. Our hands are all now acne free.

ETA - We have since transferred the acne face wash from its original bottle to the empty hand soap bottle in an attempt to not look sad, pathetic, and cheap during today's site visit.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting a little behind...

Okay, I am now WAY behind on where I should be with my challenges. I need to get it together for June!!

To Be Read by the End of June
The Crimson Petal and the White - Michel Faber
Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux
The Rose Rent - Ellis Peters
The Tsarina's Daughter - Carolly Erikson
Agnes Gray - Anne Bronte
The Year of Living Biblically - AJ Jacobs
Welcome to the World Baby Girl - Fannie Flagg
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
The Aleph and Other Stories - Jorge Luis Borges
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox
The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

Obviously this is a pipe dream. But maybe I can do a little more than last month (which would be more than ONE book off the list). Fingers crossed...

To be read...

Books found during the month of May...

Precious - Sandra Novak
Pharaoh's Daughter - Julius Lester
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco
Rape: A Love Story - Joyce Carol Oates
Survivor - Chuck Palahnuik
Population 485 - Michael Perry
The Rosetti Letter/The Delvin Diary - Christi Phillips (2 books)
No One You Know - Michelle Rochmond
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley
Sunnyside - Glen David Gold
Brooklyn - Colm Toibin
Dark Places - Gillian Flynn
Beside a Burning Sea - John Shors
Frenchman's Creek - Daphne du Maurier
Quicksilver - Neal Stephenson
Drood - Dan Simmons
Stones Fall - Iain Pears
Ella Minnow Pea - Mark Dunn
An Illiad - Alessandro Baricco
A Proper Pursuit - Lynn Austin

22 new books...