Thursday, December 22, 2016

Books Finished in November

55. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini (audiobook)


The story ostensibly focuses on the relationship between Julia Dent Grant and her childhood slave, Jule. Julia, who grew up on a plantation near St. Louis, Missouri, married Ulysses S. Grant, who later led the Union army to victory. During the war, Jule, as well as eventually the Dents' other slaves, escaped, and she later became a hairdresser of some repute in Washington D.C. and New York City, overlapping respectively with her former mistress' time in those two cities. However, although an intriguing concept, the story actually centers on the love story between Julia and Ulysses Grant, and defending the pair from every allegation made over the course of his career (he wasn't drunk, he had headaches!; he didn't know his officials were corrupt!). Jule was frankly the most interesting character, but the main character least deployed.

Overall, this is an obviously well researched historical romance, but it falls short of a balanced reflection on the characters of Julia and Ulysses Grant, and largely fails to tell the promised story of the relationship between the two women.

56. Old Friend From Far Away by Natalie Goldberg (audiobook)


An extremely short audiobook (just two discs!) whets the appetite to get started on writing a memoir. It's narrated by Natalie Goldberg herself, and it sounds just like she is talking to you. It's well planned as an audiobook and even has transitional music between vignettes. I'm not planning on writing a memoir anytime soon, but this one caught my eye in the bookstore, and the library had the audiobook. Last year, I enjoyed reading about writing while I did NaNoWriMo, and I found it helpful this year too. As always, Natalie Goldberg is a font of wisdom, and what I took out of this one was: don't call it a big red flower in the window: call it a geranium.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind for Hanukkah

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind for Hanukkah

1. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


I've already read it, but I want to re-read it and I feel like it's a book I will enjoy referring back to.







2. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin


I have it out of the library right now, and I've already read and renewed it twice.







3. The 8th Habit by Stephen R. Covey


I have it out of the library right now, but I feel like to really use it right I have to own it...






4. Anything by Jen Lancaster


She makes me laugh out loud so much. I got Bitter is the New Black from the little Free Library and I'm not giving it back anytime soon. I also have The Tao of Martha out from the library right now, but she has a ton more books that I'm sure I'll enjoy just as much.




5. Marriage; A History by Stephanie Coontz


I've wanted to read this forever, but flip-flopped on buying nonfiction I haven't already read. However, it's feeling rather pertinent right now and the library doesn't have it.





6. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick


I just heard of this one from Modern Mrs. Darcy, but it sounds interesting and I'm always intrigued by books with characters named Miriam.






7. Starflight and Starfall by Melissa Landers



These  both sounds like really fun space fantasies.






8. Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham


I love Gilmore Girls (#thebooknotthemovie) and I'm really into memoirs right now, so this is perfect.






9. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren


Very much one of the 'it' books this year, and as a memoir about a woman in the sciences, it sounds up my alley.






10. The Cozy Life by Pia Edberg, The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, How to Hygge by Signe Johansen or any other book about hygge


Right on trend, I'm fascinated with the Danish concept of hygge and kind of want to read all the new books about it, especially for winter.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Book Review: The Circuit: Earthfall by Rhett C. Bruno

The Circuit: Earthfall by Rhett C. Bruno



















*Published Dec. 13, 2016*

Earthfall is the incredibly satisfying conclusion to Rhett C. Bruno's The Circuit trilogy. Although I wouldn't recommend reading it without having read the other two first, I thought it was the best of all three books in terms of pacing, writing, and character development. The plot has a clear arc from the outset, and develops naturally from there. It never slows down too much, but nor does it feel convoluted. And most importantly to me, although it wasn't exactly what I would have hoped for, there's an ending that feels appropriate for each beloved character.

The concept of the Circuit is what drew me in, but it's the characters that kept me reading. What I love about the Circuit is that it's not dystopian, but it's far from the pie in the sky, colonize the stars dream of 1950s and '60s scifi. Humanity managed to escape Earth's demise, but society is stagnant, caught just existing in our original solar system, dependent on the element Gravitum, mined from the remains of Earth. It's in some ways a more potent mirror for today than fiction that reflects our deepest fears, like The Hunger Games or The Walking Dead. The worst hasn't yet happened, in fact, humanity largely weathered the apocalypse, civil society intact (more or less), BUT...our dreams are on hold.

These elements of the society in which they exist are evident in Bruno's protagonists. Most of all, Cassius, the villain with a conscience, is determined to break society's dependence on Gravitum and ensure the fated return to the stars. Bruno takes a nuanced look in asking us to examine Cassius' lofty goal, and as it turns out, noble intentions and all-too-human emotions, against the destruction his actions wreak. Whether or not Cassius is a redeemable character depends very much on the reader, and I like that invitation to think on a human scale. Personally, I lean towards no...but I'm not entirely sure.

The more obviously redeemable protagonists, Talon and Sage, still have their dark sides, of which Bruno is careful to remind in the final volume. Both have committed crimes for others in their past, and while it's arguable that those actions were necessary to support the societies in which they believe, it's also taken a toll on them. Especially Talon and Sage, but all of the protagonists, including Cassius and his robot "son" ADIM, find some redemption in the book's opening rescue of Talon's daughter Elisha. Following these characters' journeys and choices are what kept me tied to the screen of my ereader, and I was rewarded with the explosion of ADIM's ticking time bomb, which I mention in my review of the second book. However, Bruno did make some moves that surprised me, and the mix of an expected and unexpected ending was highly pleasurable.

For an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic human society in space, nuanced and compelling characters, and strong writing, I recommend the Circuit trilogy, especially to science fiction fans, but also fans of political and/or character-driven fiction.

Received for review from the author.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Thoughts on NaNoWriMo 2016

Yesterday was the last day of NaNoWriMo 2016.

I hit over 25,000 words.

That was not my original goal for the month: I was aiming for the traditional NaNo goal of 50,000 words in 30 days.

However, a little bit more than halfway through, I evaluated my progress and decided to change my goal to 25k.

I'm proud of reaching my secondary goal, and I think I did a good job, considering. However, I'm still a little bummed that I didn't hit 50k like I did last year, and I want to figure out why.

First, I've had less time to devote to it this year since my work schedule is different.

Second, I wrote historical instead of contemporary fiction, and did less research instead of more, due to the aforementioned different work schedule.

Third, though, it wasn't my first rodeo. Last year, I was motivated to win my first NaNoWriMo. I followed my scheduled writing plan exactly, and I got a huge head start, finishing 4k in the first day alone.

I've been reading Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives,and, although, as usual, I don't agree with her entirely, she suggests that the first time one does something, one is more likely to succeed, i.e. first marathon, first diet attempt, but it's harder to keep up the effort after that. Interesting phenomenon, and I wonder if some of it is at work here.

Anyway, I've got a new goal. 75,000 words by January 30.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Books Read in October

52. Queen of Flowers and Pearls by Gabriella Ghermandi. Translated by Giovanna Bellesia-Contuzzi and Victoria Offredi Poletto.


Came across this interesting gem just browsing in the library. It's a series of interpolated stories, compiled by the narrator, set during Italy's occupation of Ethiopia. Embarrassingly, I didn't even know that Italy had occupied Ethiopia, so it was very informative for me. The author lives in Italy and was born in Ethiopia, and the book is translated from the Italian, so this was a Women in Translation (WIT) read for me this year. Highly recommended if, like me, you want to learn about this moment in history.


53. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard


This well-regarded biography of President James Garfield was an appropriate read during the election. Millard starts with Garfield's rise to the presidency and chronicles the assassination attempt and its aftermath. She compellingly argues, based on contemporary medical evidence including the autopsy, that Garfield's death was the result of his doctors' treatment and not the bullet in his back. She spins a fascinating tale, with major players surprisingly including Alexander Graham Bell. Although nonfiction sometimes takes me longer, I flew through it in just a few days. Highly recommended for American history buffs, but really just anyone. The most amazing part of the book, however, comes early on. After Garfield is unexpectedly nominated at the 1880 Republican National Convention, he replies to a congratulator, "I am very sorry that this has become necessary." He does, luckily, have a brief reprieve during the campaign since "asking for votes was considered undignified for a presidential candidate." Just imagine.

54. The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley


A longtime TBR lister,  origin of the word "librocubicularist" (a person who likes reading in bed), and found serendipitously at my local Little Free Library. It's a quirky little tome, set in a Brooklyn secondhand bookshop, post World War I, aimed at younger, perhaps middle-grade readers. Its 1919 copyright is evident in its portrayal of women and the cartoonish German (natch) villains, but worth reading for the quixotic vocabulary. Also worth it for me, as I was about to start a NaNoWriMo novel set in the time period. Adults may want to read it for fun, or recommended for children perhaps with some caveats about stereotyping.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. After the election, I decided I can take out all the library books I want. Although I've returned only one of the six from two weeks ago, I took out three more today. Pictured below, minus An Abundance of Katherines audiobook. So far, I like it better than Paper Towns. p.s. Do all John Green's books feature road trips?
2. I'm obsessed with memoirs. Biography used to be the only nonfiction I would read, but now, I can't get enough. I loved Jen Lancaster's Bitter is the New Black so much I read it twice in one month, and when I saw a row of Jen Lancaster books at the library, I couldn't help myself. The Tao of Martha, about her attempts to live a la Martha Stewart stood out the most to me, so I got that one, but I'll be back! Mennonite in a Little Black Dress also caught my eye, and although it wasn't what I was expecting (prodigal Mennonite daughter moves back home, instead of out), I'm intrigued.

3. I'm picking wedding colors, and it might be as bad as women's dress sizes. Google's "fern green" is David's Bridal's "clover green" and Pantone's "elves dancing merrily green" (okay, I made the last one up). But, seriously, can we all get on the same page? Like, literally.

4. Wedding websites, however, seem to be a charm. I admire the ethos of A Practical Wedding, , but no customizable Squarespace sites for me! The Wedding Knot's prefab wedding sites mean I don't have to think at all, thanks!

5. I'm way behind in NaNoWriMo, and at this point, I've given up hope of reaching 50k words in 30 days. However, I'm determined to surpass 25k (I'm around 22k now), and keep writing at least until 50k or until I finish, which is what I did last year.

6. It's Thanksgiving! I'm thankful for my adorable puppy and my fiance, and so much more. I'm excited to make Marbled Pumpkin Gingersnap Tart from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, and not have to make anything else!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Post-Apocalyptic Library Haul

It's been a long time since I let myself take out this many books, but I needed it. Even though I won't finish them all, it felt satisfying to take out all the books I wanted. Some are research for my NaNoWriMo novel, which spans the time periods of both WWI and WWII.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Check Out My NaNoWriMon!

SpaceStationMir's NaNoWriMon

http://thousandroads.net/fanfic/nanowrimon/preview to get your own! You need to have an account and updated word count at nanowrimo.org!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Books Read in September

47. Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Finally finished the Wicked Years. Out of Oz finishes the story in some ways, and just leaves it open again. Oh well. I don't know how much closure I expected. Still best read for the dark and amusing riffs on the land of Oz.




48. The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory (audiobook)

One of my favorite of Gregory's, and I've read nearly everything by her. Katherine Parr is, in my opinion, the most interesting of Henry VIII's wives, both because she survived and because she was one of the first women to publish in English. Also, I wasn't aware of the relationship between her and Anne Askew, a contemporary female preacher, a relationship which is central to Gregory's novel. As usual, Gregory takes an inventive approach to history, creating the highest possible stakes drama (as if the Tudors weren't dramatic enough!). I've also felt that Gregory's later books, like this one, and The White Princess, feel more fiercely feminist in nature than some of her earlier works. Henry VIII, despite being central to the plot, is a somewhat enigmatic character in, for example, The Other Boleyn Girl--even when he does terrible things, the crux of her interpretation of his character has remained elusive. Here, she finally comes out and makes it clear what kind of a monster he has become.

49. Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster

I read this twice in less than a month, so it's obvious that I highly recommend it. It's pitched as a modern-day Greek tragedy, a woman at the top who had it coming, and hilariously chronicles her fall. However, although Jennifer makes a joke of her two years of unemployment, it's no laughing matter for those of us who came of age during the recession. Though I don't have her penchant for high-end retail or cosmetics (there's a hilarious yet poignant scene where she tallies, for example, how much insurance her bottles of half-empty nail polish could have covered), it's definitely a story that hit that "there but for the grace of G-d go I" note. Also, this was her first memoir, but she apparently has others that I must read post-haste.

50. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

Extremely funny, dry, and droll--read my thoughts here.









51. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

I finally finished the Inheritance quartet! I'm glad I did. I had many frustrations with the series, mostly that it was overwritten and did too much "telling" instead of showing. However, Eragon, his dragon Saphira (some of the best writing is from Saphira's POV, imo), his cousin Roran, and his friend Arya, to name a few, are memorable characters that represent interesting variations on familiar fantasy tropes. The plot, while predictable, also had some interesting twists and turns. I think Paolini's greatest strength was his ability to play on those tropes to create a believable fantasy world with strong female leaders, new and more nuanced interpretations of "enemy" races, and a strong core of ancient history and magic. The story meets a full heroic arc in the end, and Paolini makes some strong atypical choices there as well. On the whole, it's a valuable addition to high fantasy, and I would recommend it especially to young fans of the genre.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. Two of the bloggers I follow went to Jonathan Safran Foer readings recently, as did I. It's interesting to hear the different takes on him and his work. When I saw him, he was introduced by his mother and his whole family was there! I didn't realize he'd grown up in D.C., so that was quite a surprise. It also made more sense why his new book is set here. He read the passage about the urinal that he's apparently read elsewhere. Although I loved his first two novels, I'm not sure how I feel about this one...I did start reading Here I Am, but I haven't gotten to the urinal scene yet.

2. I missed the National Book Festival and the Baltimore Book Festival and all the other bookish events the weekend before last because I was sick. I hate that I missed Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Ann Goldstein and so many other interesting writers. At least I saw JSF the week before.

3. I just celebrated Rosh Hashanah, and spending that time concentrating on how I can be a better person in the new year made me feel really zen and refreshed. I hope I can keep that up now that I've got a busy couple of weeks ahead (and fasting, of course).

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Favorite Passages from Cold Comfort Farm

I've wanted to read Cold Comfort Farm ever since I learned it is one of Boston Bibliophile's favorite books. Her allusions to it piqued my interest, and while browsing in the library the other day, it caught my eye.

Gibbons' wit suffuses this offbeat, Austen-inspired novel. First published in 1932, it's set in early twentieth century England, when the recently orphaned and consummate cosmopolitan young Flora Poste resolves to rely on the generosity of her country cousins, and furthermore, adjust their lives to her convenience.

Flora remarks to a friend:

I am only nineteen, but I have already observed that whereas there still lingers some absurd prejudice against living on one's friends, no limits are set, either by society or by one's own conscience, to the amount one may impose upon one's relatives (15).

Zingers like these abound, and this gem and the one below were two of my personal favorites. In her equally amusing foreword, Gibbons notes that she has taken the liberty of starring her best passages according to a four-star rating system. Neither of the passages I picked were starred, so you can just imagine! Her quirks extend also to an inventive vocabulary--she refers frequently to "sukebind," a kind of crop whose flower leads to all manner of lascivious behavior. When I researched this mysterious plant, I discovered that it originated with Cold Comfort Farm, along with a number of other terms I'd thought were suspicious!

My other favorite passage, like the one above, has that wonderful ring to it of a truth you've never been quite able to express:
Mrs. Hawk-Monitor had combined two of the essentials for a successful ball (too many guests in a smallish room)...and the fact that most of the people who were present knew each other slightly, all the ingredients for success were present (159).
Gibbons prefaces the novel with a quote from Mansfield Park: "Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery." And, indeed, she does.

Page numbers are from the Penguin 20th century classic TV tie-in edition, published in 1994, which I found in the library. Excuse me while I search for that made-for-TV movie.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Books Read in August

45. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

This is the third of Gaskell's novels that I've read, and my favorite. Interestingly, it's earlier work than the other two. It seems to me that she was more honest and raw here in her opinions about class divisions. North and South and Cranford also both address divisions between mill workers and mill owners, but North and South is more nuanced, while Cranford is almost a farce. Mary Barton is more radical. Mary and her family (and their friends and neighbors) suffer extreme loss, and the consequences that follow are appropriately drastic. Highly recommended, and unfortunately, very relevant in the present day.

46. A Lion Among Men by Gregory Maguire


Finally, after holding onto the final two books for a few years, I finished the Wicked Years series. A Lion Among Men jumpstarts the story again after the possible ending in Son of a Witch. We backtrack to events that took place during Elphaba's life, and the book focuses on two peripheral characters, the titular lion, named Brrr (also the Cowardly Lion), and Mother Yackle, a soothsayer-turned-nun who hung mysteriously around the edges of the first two books. To be honest, it took me a while to care about these two characters as much as I cared about Elphaba and Liir, but by the end, I was sucked into their importance to Oz and to Elphaba's family. I was excited when Brrr figures again in the final book, Out of Oz, which I finished in September, so that will be in a later post!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Books Finished on Vacation

When I travel, I like to read books related to travel. And, I finally did use my ereader on vacation---after I finished reading the two physical books I brought.

40. Better Than Fiction 2


This is a collection of nonfiction stories by celebrity writers. I found it an interesting read, but nothing was a huge standout. One story has nuns chasing Italian boys away from American girls.

41. Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It


I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it, and I found it in the store right before I left for my trip. It's a collection of stories about people inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love. Now, before reading Eat Pray Love, I would have thought this was hokey, but now, I can sympathize with the "bathroom floor club," as one writer here puts it. These are more like vignettes, about the moment that changed everything, which at first was disappointing, since each story is only a few pages, but, I realized that each story packs more punch in that smaller serving. Recommended to fellow members of the bathroom floor club.

42. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley


I had this on my ereader for quite a while, and finally read it. At first, it reminded me of Elizabeth Bear's writing, the way she drops you into a heavily detailed world with no context. Hurley was a little better about quickly developing the context and the story wasn't quite as convoluted as some of Bear's, but otherwise, I think the comparison mostly bears out. This is one or more highly developed fantasy worlds, at least two of which are "mirrors" of each other, that is, they have people that are the 'same' in different life situations--everyone seems to have the same parents and family line in general, but the history of which groups are in charge is different. And, of course, one world is trying to take over the other. Recommended to fans of "deep" fantasy (those that really want to take the disorientation plunge).

43. Cress by Marissa Meyer

44. Winter by Marissa Meyer



I loved Cinder, and found the Lunar chronicles so addictive that I downloaded the last two on my ereader. However, I may have rushed through them a little too quickly, since I didn't feel like I appreciated the later books quite as much. Of the final two, Cress was my favorite. Meyer did a brilliant job of translating Rapunzel into scifi, and I loved that she explicitly and tacitly acknowledged the darker aspects of that fairy tale. Cress and Captain Throne are also my favorite couple from the series. That said, while most of Winter's arc wasn't related to the Snow White story, when it does come up, Meyer has a clever twist on that too. The "scifi-a-fairy-tale" is a theme I find especially compelling. Lunar Chronicles highly recommended for a fun can't-stop-reading whirl.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Top Ten Fantasy and Scifi TV Shows


I watch so many fantasy and scifi shows--any other fans out there? What shows have I missed?

Classics

1. Star Trek

I'm a fan of all the iterations of Star Trek, although most recently we re-watched the first couple seasons of Enterprise (which contained most of my favorite episodes from that show so I'm not sure if I want to continue). I really love S2 E5 "A Night in Sickbay," which features Captain Archer's beagle, Porthos.

2. The X-Files

I didn't watch this in real time, but so far, we're somewhere in season...seven, I think? I love Mulder and Scully, especially the one-offs (but, you know, also the continuing stuff). S3E4, when they encounter a real psychic, is one of my favorites, but there are so many to choose from.

3. Babylon Five

I watched individual episodes while this was airing, but I never watched in sequence or really got the overarching plot. If this were airing right now, I guarantee it would be one of the most popular shows on television. Some sharp commentary on government and media and humanity in general, and extremely quirky main characters that nevertheless gel as a cast.

Currently on TV

4.  Game of Thrones

Go Tyrion. Team Sansa. 'Nuff said.

5. The 100

We literally watched this in order to laugh at a whiny teen drama. And, ok, it starts out, and occasionally slips into that. But the moral ambiguity of this show, the ethical dilemmas...there is nothing like it. No one ups the ante like The 100 and I love that there are so many strong female leaders in this show, from Clarke to Lexa to Raven to Indra. And you have to love John "the things I do to survive" Murphy. My favorite show on TV right now.

6. Agents of Shield

This is a fun show, and I love how they play with tropes, and each season gets grittier. Plus, FitzSimmons for life.

7. The Shannara Chronicles

So, I read The Elfstones of Shannara about 16 years ago, and I remember the story pretty well (the ending is hard to forget), but I thought it was straight up high fantasy. Apparently, it's set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have divided into humans, gnomes, and trolls, and Elves, who apparently were hidden all along, have come out of hiding to rule (and protect everyone from gnarly demons)? Whether this was just made up for the show or not, it makes for a fascinating cultural backdrop, and despite legit whiny teen drama (this is from MTV), it's well worth watching for a fantasy fix. Second season has been confirmed; interested to see if they will continue this story or use another book from the series.

8. Stranger Things

It's classified as "horror" as well as scifi, which I usually shy away from, but this schlocky '80s style scifi is perfect for nostalgic '80s and '90s nerds. Can't wait to see what Season 2 cooks up (I hope a certain number will be back).

Just Started/Considering Watching

9. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

One of my favorite books of all time. I knew the BBC was doing a series, but it just showed up on Netflix! I wasn't that impressed with the first episode, but we're a few episodes in and I'm liking it better. Let's be honest, Jonathan Strange is way more fun than Mr. Norrell, although Mr. Norrell's library and study are objects of my deepest envy. The show did a marvelous job of nailing the aesthetic of the time period (an alternate 19th century England).

10. The Magicians

I read the first book in the series, but stopped because it crushed my childhood too much (made deep dark cynical parody of Narnia and Harry Potter). However, I think I might be willing to give the show a whirl. It can't possibly be as bleak as the book. Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top Ten Books I Read in School

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Most of these are from college or graduate school, since a lot of the books I read in grade school I had read on my own before we read them in school.

1. Tripmaster Monkey by Maxine Hong Kingston

2. Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum by Aemilia Lanyer

3. The Tragedy of Mariam by Elizabeth Cary

4. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

5. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

6. The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox

7. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

8. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

9. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

10. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. After North and South, I've gone straight on to another Elizabeth Gaskell novel that's been on my TBR shelf, Mary Barton. Unfortunately, my puppy got to it before I did, but despite that, I've been enjoying it so far. It was the first written of the novels of hers I've read, and it feels like the most honest and--I think--the best.



2. I'm listening to the audiobook The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory. It's about Henry VIII's sixth wife, Katherine Parr, the one who survived. However, I realized that the title makes it sound quite more salacious than it is, and I wonder what people passing by, who see the case on the seat in my car, think. So far, I'm enjoying it, but I dislike that Gregory credits Parr with giving Elizabeth the "woman with the heart and stomach of a king" line.

3. Also, it is hard to read historical fiction in a time period you've studied--so far, in Taming of the Queen, there's an inaccuracy when Parr talks about how she can't publish under her own name as a woman, but would proudly do so as a man--without getting too far into it, it wasn't seemly for a gentleman to publish either, and Parr did eventually publish religious texts under her own name, the main kind of text it was socially acceptable for anyone genteel to publish.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top Ten Books That Have Been On My Shelf Before I Started Blogging That I STILL Haven't Read Yet

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Since I've been blogging for eight years, I'm happy to report that most of the unread books on my shelf since then are gone. I read some, and the rest probably left with my KonMari book purge of almost a year ago. There are only two still left, one of which I'm currently reading.

1. The Templars by Piers Paul Read


I know I bought this (at Borders, RIP), after my first trip to Israel, and I'm finally reading it after my third trip. It's not a hard read, but it is nonfiction, and until recently, I've had a vast preference for fiction (still do, it's just not SO vast). To be fair, this isn't the first time I've started it, but will hopefully be the time I finish!




2. My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok


Also one I've started before, but never finished. No plans to get to it anytime soon. It's been on loan from my uncle for probably some 15 years at least. He said I could keep storing it for him.





Conclusion: Give me another eight years, and I'll have completed (or donated) everything on my current TBR shelf!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Books Finished in July

37. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell












A less sparking, more thoughtful Pride and Prejudice. I've discussed more of my thoughts here. For those who wish Jane Austen was more political.

38. Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

The third installment in this character-driven detective series finally focuses purely on the detective, Cormoran Strike, and his assistant and would-be co-detective, Robin Ellacott. The novel gets into some interesting disability politics, and of course many shades of evil, and will thoroughly break the hearts of Strike/Robin shippers.





39. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (audiobook)


I'm glad I read this, because I was familiar with Gloria Steinem's name linked with the feminist movement, but not much else. Now, I feel like an expert! Her memoirs about all the places she's been cover her childhood, and many of the momentous occasions of her adulthood. I feel like I have a much better idea of what an activist actually does, and it was very exciting to listen to her travels, especially during my commute! I also thought the vocal actor, Debra Winger, did an excellent job. And it was hard to tell her voice from Steinem's (Steinem narrates the introduction herself).

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Top Ten Books Set in the 19th Century



Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish!

Some of my lesser known (but still, let's be honest, pretty well known) favorites set in the nineteenth century. Some are contemporary, but some were written more recently.

1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen












2. Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston










3. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell










4. Persuasion by Jane Austen










5. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev












6. Resurrection by Leo Tolstoy











7. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin










8. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke










9. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain










10. Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott