Saturday, October 31, 2009

Two more...

My sister the literature scholar has suggested that maybe I'm getting ahead of myself with challenges since I just announced that I'm signing up for two more. But I just can't help myself. I'm not doing any challenges now which makes me sad. :( First the Reading Western Europe Challenge (which sadly doesn't have a picture). Read one book set in each of the twelve countries of Western Europe (the UK has been split up a bit). I tend to read lots of books set in England, and I always feel I need to branch out, but I find it hard to do so sometimes. So this is good. My books will be...

1. Belgium: Niccolo Rising - Dorothy Dunnett
2. France: Mistress of the Revolution - Catherine Delors
3. Ireland: Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt
4. Luxembourg: Luxembourg and the Jenisch Connection - David Robinson
5. Monaco: Monaco - Eric Robert Morse
6. The Netherlands: The Company - Arabella Edge
7. Switzerland: The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
8. Northern Ireland: Eureka Street - Robert McLiam Wilson
9. England: Innocent Traitor - Allison Weir
10. Wales: Border Country - Raymond Williams
11. Scotland: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark
12. Channel Islands: Island Madness - Tim Binding

And second, the Year of the Historical Challenge. Read at least one historical fiction book per month. I love history! Which is good, seeing as that's what I'm studying in school. I 'm trying to spread it around and read about different places and different time. My books will be...

1. Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir
2. The Romanov Bride - Robert Alexander
3. The Crusader - Michael Alexander Eisner
4. The Last Queen - CW Gortner
5. Mistress of the Revolution - Catherine Delors
6. When Christ and His Saints Slept - Sharon Kay Penman
7. The Queen's Lady - Barbara Kyle
8. Cleopatra's Daughter - Michelle Moran
9. The Whiskey Rebels - David Liss
10. The Heretic's Daughter - Kathleen Kent
11. Dragonwyck - Anya Seton
12. Peony in Love - Lisa See

Woo woo! Come on 2010!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Haste makes waste...

Maybe I'm being a bit hasty (seeing as how things did NOT go so well this year), but I'm signing up for two more 2010 challenge. In my defense...they're both mini challenges. Just two books each. So not too outrageous yet. First off, the French Revolution Mini Challenge. Read two books set during the French Revolution. Mine will be...

1. Sir Percy Leads the Band - Baroness Emmuska Orczy
2. Scaramouche - Rafael Sabatini

And second... The Wilkie Collins Mini Challenge, which is as self explanatory as they come. Read two books written by Wilkie Collins. I loved The Woman in White which I read about a year ago so I'm really excited for this one! My books will be...

1. The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins
2. No Name - Wilkie Collins

2010 is looking good!

The Hermit of Eyton Forest - Ellis Peters

the hermit of eyton forest
ellis peters
c. 1987
224 pages
completed 10/22/2009

read for: brother cadfael chronicles

*may contain spoilers*

It is the autumn of 1142 and Richard Ludel has died, leaving his ten year old son Richard, currently a pupil at Shrewsbury Abbey, lord of Eaton Manor. Richard's grandmother, Dame Dionisia, wants Richard to return home immediately and marry the daughter of the lord of the adjacent manor (a girl twelve years Richard's senior), thus extending their land and power. Richard wants none of this, and with the support of Abbot Radulfus opts to stay at the abbey to complete his schooling, leaving his manor in the able hands of his steward, a choice the infuriates Dionisia. Meanwhile, a hermit and his servant boy comes to live on Richard's manor, and a man hunting his runaway villein takes up lodging at the abbey. Soon, this man is found dead in the forest, the hermit's servant boy runs off, and Richard goes missing. Cadfael and Hugh must untangle these seemingly unrelated threads to discover the murderer.

I think during the last couple reviews of these Cadfael books, I had begun to complain about the shift from the initial structure of the mysteries, but this one is right back to what I like. A murder occurs that is directly related to the abbey in some way (in this instance the victim was their guest), and both Hugh and Radulfus look the Cadfael for the answers. Cadfael befriends someone who's identity no one else can know, and helps two people fall in love. Classic.

There was a lot going on in this book. There were several mysteries that seemed to be completely unrelated to each other, but by the end we saw how everything was connected. I always love young mischievous boys, so Richard was great fun. My only complaint was the hermit's servant boy. How can you take a boy seriously who's name is Hyacinth?

Glad these books seem to be back on track. I wish there were hundreds of them.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Big Over Easy - Jasper Fforde

the big over easy
jasper fforde
c. 2005
416 pages
completed 10/20/2009

read for: TBR list

*may contain spoilers*

Humpty Dumpty has been killed and it's up to Detective Inspector Jack Spratt of the Nursery Crimes Division and his new partner Detective Sergeant Mary Mary to solve the mystery without getting bogged down by office politics, bad press, a relentless ex-boyfriend, and the security detail of his Eminence the Jellyman.

I really enjoyed this book. I've been hearing LOTS of good stuff about this author, though mainly about his Thursday Next series, and have been meaning to look into him for a while, so I'm glad I finally did. It took me a little while to get into the book, probably because of the start of the school year, but I picked it up this weekend determined to get a good chunk read and haven't been able to put it down.

I'm a big fan of puns, especially literary puns, so this was great. And I have always liked characterizations like this, fractured fairy tales and all. I'm a little wary of starting the Thursday Next series because I am under the impression that it deals with more literary characters, something I wholly against (I can't stand books that are written as sequels to great fiction, especially all those supposed Jane Austen sequels), but maybe since I liked this book so much I will give them a try. MAYBE. I'm not sure why I'm so anti the fracturing of literary characters, but I'm all for it when it's fairy tales and myths and all, but there you go.

This review has gotten a bit off track...The long and short of it is, I think this series is fun and I look forward to what's next.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Read the best books first...

Like I said, I've decided to quit all my challenges for the rest of 2009 and put all my focus on television school. However, I am having fun gearing up for the challenges of 2010, so much so that I have decided to sign up for my first one. So. FIRST CHALLENGE OF 2010 IS...(drum roll please)... BIBLIOPHILE BY THE SEA'S BOOKS TO READ BEFORE I DIE CHALLENGE! WOO WOO!! During 2010, choose between 10-20 books you have just always wanted to read but haven't gotten around to it yet. And then read them! For more rules, click the link above. I am choosing 12 books. One for each month of the year. I don't know why I like to do that. My 12 books are...

1. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera
2. Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
3. The Road - Cormac McCarthy
4. The Adventures of David Simple - Sarah Fielding
5. Belong to Me - Marisa de los Santos
6. Possession - AS Byatt
7. Oscar and Lucinda - Peter Carey
8. On Beauty - Zadie Smith
9. Beloved - Toni Morrison
10. Against Nature - Jori-Karl Huysmans
11. Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp - Stephanie Klein
12. When Christ and His Saints Slept - Sharon Kay Penman

Let's hope 2010 goes better than 2009.

To be read...

Still trying to get back on track here. This post is usually done on the first of the month, but since I was MIA at the time, I'm only getting to it now. So here goes.

Past Imperfect - Julian Fellows
A Plague on Both Your Houses - Susanna Gregory
The Promised World - Lisa Tucker
The Painted Kiss - Elizabeth Hickey
Blood and Roses - Helen Castor
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People - Farahad Zama
The Air Between Us - Deborah Johnson
Cleopatra's Daughter - Michelle Moran
Dragon House - John Shors
The Conquest - Elizabeth Chadwick
The Coral Thief - Rebecca Stott
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much - Allison Hoover Bartlett
The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters
Leigh Ann's Civil War - Ann Rinaldi
The Children's Book - AS Byatt
The Tudor Rose - Margaret Campbell Barnes
A Disobedient Girl - Ru Freeman
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts - Neil White
God is an Englishman - RF Delderfield
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
Kit's Wilderness - David Almond
The Street Philosopher - Matthew Plampin

22 books added to the list.

The Meaning of Night - Michael Cox

the meaning of night
michael cox
c. 2006
672 pages
completed 9/28/2009

read for: TBR list

*may contain spoilers*

Set in Victorian England, after being betrayed by a school friend, Edward Glyver discovers a destiny he was never allowed to fulfill. Consumed by his desire for what is rightfully his, Edward spends years waiting for the moment when he can exact his revenge and take up his rightful name.

Okay, my description is possibly a little melodramatic. But maybe so is this book. I finished reading this some time ago, and I'm bummed that I couldn't bring myself to review it until now. I feel lazy when that happens, plus I forget a lot of my thoughts and insights about the book. So this will be short and simple.

Revenge stories always bum me out because they never work out quite the way the people in the story expect them to. That being said, I loved reading this book. It was BIG so it took me a good chunk of time, but I feel it was time well spent. Some interesting twists and turns, engaging characters...all in all very engrossing.

My one complaint is that it's written as if this "confession" was written in Victorian England and is now (in 2005) being studied and published by a University. So there are lots of footnotes as if to help other scholars fully understand the text. I found this a little distracting. Especially since some of the footnotes ARE probably to do with actual fact, like historical events and published works, and others were definitely NOT, such as notes about the genealogy of certain characters. Things like this can really make me frustrated when I can't tell what's real and what's not. I'm glad to know that Michael Cox's follow up to this book is just written as a novel, not a (faux) scholarly work.


Don't worry, I'm not dead...

Okay, it's been over a month since I've posted. I know. In my defense, I started school! And it's been A WHILE since I've been in school. So I've been neglecting some things. Like my blog. Since starting school, I've been a little busy (getting used to the commute and the amount of reading and writing I have do...) so I've decided to just forget about all the reading challenges I'm signed up for. I love reading challenges, but I feel I need to get myself settled into the routine of school and just focus on that, and then I can start again with my challenges is 2010. And I promise to start posting again!