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Showing posts from July, 2012

Top Five Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in Books

Welcome to today's Top Ten Tuesday ! 1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Whatever else can be said about her writing, not many can match J.K. Rowling for detail. Her creative settings, as much as her relatable characters, are what make her works so engrossing. I remember having a strong obsession with Diagon Alley, and my writing class students often choose Hogwarts or King's Cross Station or the Forbidden Forest for their setting description assignments, because these places are already so vivid in their minds that they can elaborate where she left off. 2. Middle Earth As a dedicated student and instructor of Middle Earth Geography (yes, this really happened), I would be remiss not to include Middle Earth. No one accuses Tolkien of skimping on description, and the maps add a whole other dimension that thousands of later fantasy books have aped, mostly to lesser effect. 3. Dune Whether it's the desert planet Arrakis (a.k.a. Dune) itself, the Harkonnen home wo

Top Ten Books for People Who Liked The Other Boleyn Girl

I'm posting late and decided to copy Julia's idea for a post, but no worries, my list is entirely different! 1. Elizabeth I by Margaret George The most thoroughly researched, well written, original work of literature about the Virgin Queen I have ever read. And that's saying a lot, as I've devoted a lot of time to studying and writing fiction written about Elizabeth I. 2. The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George See above, and substitute "Henry VIII" as the subject. 3. The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory 4. The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory 5. Gilt by Katherine Longshore 6. The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak The first book on the list that isn't Tudor-related, this is a novel set between the reigns of Empress Elisabeth and Catherine the Great of Russia. The most enchanting book I've read in 2012. 7. Elizabeth I by Alison Weir This is a biography, but if you're truly a Tudor fan, you'll want to read

Top Ten Books I'll Never Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie, so I picked an easy one for me. 1. Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James I work in a bookstore and it almost makes me cry how many women buy this. I've read a page and just had to laugh at the awful writing. As for the subject matter, I'm not really sure what this means for society-are we more liberated because we can talk about this openly or more constrained because this aggressively enforces traditional gender roles? Anyway, just say no. 2. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown I read Angels and Demons . Never again. 3. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon Sorry, Pynchon fans out there. I'm not doing this to myself. 4. Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce I may actually get to Ulysses . But I will not go this far. 5. The Twilight books I read the first chapter of the first book. Thanks to friends, students, and reviews, I know basically everything that happens and I don't need to suffer through it to m

The Pants Don't Need Men

22. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares I took the plunge into Ann Brashares' Sisterhood Everlasting , which opens ten years after the last Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book ended. The reunion was bittersweet, but not for the reasons you might think. Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby have become real people to me in all these years. They grew up in Bethesda, MD, not too far from where I grew up, and they experienced anger, loss, grief, heartbreak, lack of emotion, family, and friendship in much the same ways that I did and still do. Brashares has a gift for evoking emotions and peculiarities that not many people, or even writers, acknowledge. What comes to mind for me is how Lena often thinks of Ritz crackers while shaving her legs, but she's not sure why. While I don't make that particular association, I often have weird random thoughts like that, and Brashares reminds me repeatedly of my humanity in such small ways, and larger ways too. I understand Tibby'

Top Ten Books for People Who Like Jane Austen

1. Mr. Darcy's Daughters by Elizabeth Aston 2. The Female Quixote by Charlotte Lennox 3. Belinda by Maria Edgeworth 4. The Betrothed by Alexander Manzoni 5. Daisy Miller by Henry James (a novella, but you need to read it) 6. The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler 7. Lorna Doone by R.D. Blackmore 8. The Exploits and Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy by Elizabeth Aston 9. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 10. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (I know, I recommend this for everything, but it really fits here!) As someone who's read all six of Austen's novels multiple times and a book of her letters (getting to the juvenilia, it's on my shelf), I often find myself in need of a substitute and for all those Austen remakes and riffs out there, it's hard to separate the gold from the dross. So, here you go! *Edit* I woke up this morning and realized I really wanted to add: 11. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Real Lives, Real Marriages

21. The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot 2012 seems to be the year for historical fiction to come out of its rut. Including The Sister Queens , The Winter Palace , and Gilt , I have now read three top-quality historical fiction novels this year from debut authors whose future work I am very excited to read! In my area right now, a lot of us have been without power since a freak lightning storm that wielded hurricane-level damage on Friday night. I'm one of the lucky few that got power back on Saturday. The school where I'm working, however, will remain closed till Thursday due to storm damage, and, I imagine, power outage. I mention this because it occurs to me how recent a phenomenon electricity, and especially air-conditioning, is. The characters in The Sister Queens brave Paris in the heat and cold, London's perpetual drizzle, winter in York, and years in the desert, all without benefit of modern technology. But let me introduce you to these remarkable women. The