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Book Review: The Bloodstained Key by Charity Rau

  The Bloodstained Key by Charity Rau The Bloodstained Key is exactly what I wanted it to be--a fleshed out fantasy retelling of the story of Bluebeard. Marianna makes a great protagonist as the "wife who lives," and I also enjoyed the characterization of her maid Betsy and sister Annette, plus the library of everyone's dreams. Rau nails the elements of the original fairytale and expands on them in ways that add to the Gothic, claustrophobic feel of the original. My only silly quibble is that I was distracted by a few awkward uses of diction ("taxidermized" late in the book, when before that the diction was standard American) and references to the "poorhouse" that didn't seem to fit with the other period-type references of balls and matches, and therefore took me out of the world. It's not technically historical fic, but felt weird to me in combination, YMMV. However, I think this is because being so immersed in the world is crucial to what is
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Book Review: How to Align the Stars by Amy Dressler OUT TODAY JUNE 4, 2024

How to Align the Stars by Amy Dressler (Shakespeare Project, Book 1) Release Date: June 4, 2024 Bea is an astronomy professor at a small college in Washington State; Ben is the college's special collections librarian. They hate each other due to a misunderstanding when they were undergraduates at the same school. This contemporary retelling of Much Ado About Nothing originally seems like just that--one of Shakespeare's most romantically compelling and simultaneously troubling comedies translated into contemporary American academia.  However, gradually, the book, told from the perspectives of Bea and her cousin Heron, reveals itself to be quite a lot more. This is not merely the modern retelling that the names and relationships suggest, but a deeper, feminist and humanist exploration of modern campus life for students and faculty, and a much-needed commentary and alternative ending to the Claudio/Hero storyline that rightfully haunts all feminist Shakespeare scholars. Beatrice a

Books Read in May 2024

Wow, May was a great reading month for me! I got ahead on reading for a couple of my book clubs, finished a few books I'd been reading for a long time (one for years!), and gained a new absolute all-time favorite ( Project Hail Mary) plus a new series that I'm very excited to continue and helps a bit with Bridgerton withdrawal ( Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies). How were your reading months? Books Read This Month  Through the Eyes of Poets: Ellicott City at 250--Enjoyed the local connections and poets especially, not as sure about choices to include tangentially related poets, even with explanations--some work but some seemed a little far-fetched. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir--Officially one of my favorite books of all time--just a delight--I know it's very popular and idk if it's for everyone, but it's for everyone who loved those survival books as a kid, loves space and aliens, and for me, as a teacher, I felt an additional special connection to the ma

Top Quotes for Book Lovers

This was a topic from two weeks ago, the last time I tried to make a post, but even though there's only a few, I still wanted to share! It's fun to look back at my past posts on the topic, most of which are still some of my favorites, so I'll try to share some of my newer favorites this time since it's been a few years since the last one! Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at That Artsy Reader Girl! Top Quotes for Book Lovers “Life, like a poem, was a series of choices.” --Maggie Smith, You Could Make This Place Beautiful “If you have an obsession that other people don’t quite understand—that might be a novel.”          --Curtis Sittenfeld, Sixth and I, April 13, 2023 Alexander Graham Bell's wife Mabel describing her husband after helping organize an evacuation from a sinking ship, “Tomorrow I fancy the collapse will come, but he feels happy for he thinks yesterday has proved that he has not heart disease" (241).  -- Alexander Graham Bell: The Reluctant Genius and H

A Blooming Bouquet of Books with Flower Names, Covers, and Stories

I love today's Top Ten Tuesday theme :  May Flowers — Pick your own title for this one to reflect the direction you choose to go with this prompt ( books with flowers on the cover, flower names in the title, characters whose names are flower names, stories involving flowers/gardeners ). I mostly went with books with flowers (usually characters' names) or gardens in the title and often on the cover as well. These include some very old and very new favorites of mine, as well as books on my TBR! A Blooming Bouquet of Books  with Flower Names, Covers, and Stories Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott--A classic childhood fav. Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott--One of the few Alcott books I didn't read as a kid but finally got around to in the last several years. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen--Gardening and flowers are central here! The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett--I bet a lot of people will mention this one! The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer-

Books Read in April 2024

Pretty decent reading list in April--I finished some books I've been meaning to read for a while. I've also been reading six or seven books at a time (several are nonfiction or poetry) for the first time in a while, and it's some glorious chaos, we'll see whether that continues or not. I may need to not be in four book clubs anymore, although it still feels ok so far--maybe easier to just give myself to permission to give up on a book I'm not feeling. Anyway, happy May! Books I Finished in April 2024  The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman--I finally got to see what all the hype was about--and it was pretty decent. Not the best book I've read ever, but a very solid mystery set in a senior living community in the United Kingdom. I would be interested in continuing to read the series.  The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley (Book club read)--I wouldn't have heard of this except that one of my book clubs picked it. I thought it was fi

Unread Books on My Shelves I Want to Read Soon

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a perpetual topic for me and most of the book lovers I know. The literal and the proverbial TBR shelf. I have both, but today, I'll stick to the ones on my literal shelves, and I'll try to go for the bonus points if I can. Looking forward to reading yours! Chag Pesach sameach to my fellow celebrants! Unread Books on My Shelves I Want to Read Soon (Bonus points if you tell us how long it’s been sitting on your shelf waiting for you.) Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum--Let's see--I know I bought this after my book club read her book  A Bend in the Stars,  which was right when this one was coming out (my book clubs usually read books a year or so after they come out since they're easier to get at the library), and I bought it at a second-hand bookstore, so I'm going to say it's been on my shelf a bit less than two years. I'm planning to read it very soon, for the same book club. The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi DarĂ©--I bo

Characters I'd Like to Go On Vacation With

 With all of the mysteries and thrillers set in vacation spots, it almost seems easier to think of characters I wouldn't want to go on vacation with! I didn't finish writing this before Tuesday, but it's such a fun topic, I thought I'd go ahead and put mine out a little late. I'm excited to see what everyone else's ideas were! Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Characters I'd Like To Go On Vacation With The crew of The Wayfarer from The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers--would love to hang out with this diverse crew of humans, aliens, and AI, plus we could go anywhere in the universe (probably would NOT choose the small angry planet for a vacation though!) Nick, Charlie, Elle, and the rest of the crew from Heartstopper would be great vacation partners--would love to go to Paris with them, either when I was their age or if they were my age Viv from Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree would be a fun vacation partner, and also good to have around in a p