Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick

Title: Foreign Bodies
Author: Cynthia Ozick

Genre: Fiction (Literary/Historical)

Love/Hate?: Like? Not love, not hate.
Rating: 4/5
Did I finish?: Yes.
One-sentence summary: Bea Nightingale, school teacher, becomes embroiled in lives of her niece, nephew, and brother when she's asked to fetch said nephew from Paris.

Why did I get this book?: Pretty much if it involves Paris, I'm all over it.  When it involves expats in post war Paris, then there's no stopping me!
Source: NetGalley

Do you like the cover?: Yes, the cover is very pretty, but it feels all wrong for the book.

First line from book: Dear Marvin, Well, I'm back.

Did... I hate every character in this book and yet, still care about what happened?: YES.  It's a little freaky, actually, how Ozick did that.

Did... I read this book in about 1.5 days?: YES, both because the pacing is pretty snappy and because it's a brief 272 pages! 

Did... I want to move to Paris after reading this?: YES, although that's usually my default response.

Review: I've never ready Henry James' The Ambassadors, so I was a little apprehensive that Foreign Bodies would just go over my head.  (I wiki'd James' book to find out the gist of the plot.)  While the premise of Foreign Bodies is vaguely similar to The Ambassadors (a teacher sets out to retrieve wayward pupil from Paris), I don't think one needs to have read the latter to enjoy the former.

Rather than Henry James, I was strongly reminded of the books from the era Foreign Bodies is set, particularly Lawrence Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. Ozick's prose varies from concrete and certain to ethereal and scattered.  The characters are all vaguely amoral and unappealing.  The prose hardly plumbs anyone's motivation, not even Bea Nightingale, the heroine, which is my only complaint.  Even though we're in Bea's head, swimming in her thoughts, something about the prose keeps the reader at arm's length; when the big a-ha moment came, I hardly felt the impact.  

Wandering Wednesday, September 29

An odd mix of articles for this week, a few quite old (sorry) and some just gleaned today! 

  • Literary mashups. Whether you like them or not, it seems they're spreading, and according to the Guardian, children's classics are next.
  • Author Lauren Willig on editing her first novel for mass paperback -- and what she chose to change.
  • The Paris Review blog on welcoming a new translation of Madame Bovary.
  • Allegedly, people (always? often? usually?) read page 99 of a book to get a sense of whether they want to purchase it or not.  Now there's a test for authors to see if their book would pass.
  • An appropriate article for Banned Books Week: what are books good for?

WWW Wednesday, September 29


From Should Be Reading, WWW Wednesday!

* What are you currently reading?: I'm currently reading Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick. I'm enjoying it even though I loathe every single character!

* What did you recently finish reading?: I just finished Alice I Have Been, which was an accidental pick up from the local library -- but gosh, I'm glad fate put that book in my hands!

* What do you think you’ll read next?: I'm going to be reading Kiss Me Deadly for Read All Over: 31 Days of Halloween and Heidegger’s Glasses for TLC Book Tours.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top 10 Tuesday, September 28

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish.


This week's Top Ten Tuesday is all about our favorite couples in literature.


I don't gravitate toward romantic stories, although I do love passion and sex in my fiction.  I sometimes find romantic pairings, especially if a good deal of the plot is tied up in the eventual getting together of the couple, to be tiresome.  As I made this list, I realized that many of the couples I picked aren't necessarily romantic; most are certainly not role models for healthy relationships.  Still-- I love 'em!  (NB: I stopped at about eight because I was starting to get truly silly with my definition of 'couple'; I may tackle this one again in the future because it was far more challenging than I anticipated!)


Sebastien de Ulloa & Jack Priest from New Amsterdam.  Not a favorite book, I have to confess, despite the awesome potential.  Sebastien's primary squeeze is Abigail Irene Garrett, a character I loathed, but his secondary lover is the totally dreamy Jack Priest.  As this book is made up of vignette-y short stories, one doesn't get a wholly full picture of Sebastien and Jack's relationship, but I loved what was revealed.
Kristin Lavransdatter & Simon Darre from Kristin LavransdatterKristin Lavransdatter might be one of my all-time favorite books, and Kristin is certainly one of my all-time favorite heroines.  I might be pushing the definition of couple with these two but their relationships -- with others and each other -- are major influences in Kristin's life.  I positively ache for Simon.



Nick & Nora Charles from The Thin Man.  While I do love -- I mean love -- the Nick & Nora movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy, the Mr and Mrs Charles of Hammett's original novella are a far cry from the jaunty, good humored couple seen on the silver screen.  Their motives for marrying are questionable and they're both horrifically amoral.  Worse, they're captivating.
Sam & Grace from Shiver.  This might be the most straight-up romantic couple on my list, and certainly Shiver is one of the most romantic books.  This is the book that made me consider the possibility of being a werewolf fan.  









Marghe Taishan & Thenike from Ammonite.  Now this is a pairing I'm pulling up from the dredges of my memory.  It might be ten years since I've last read Ammonite and I might find my feelings about Marghe and Thenike to be changed.  But as it was one of the first straight-up unapologetically queer books I ever read, I was quite taken with the two of them.






Rumon & Merewyn from Avalon.  They're not a romantic couple and yet, they have an incredibly intimate, emotional, and tumultuous relationship in this book.  Like in Kristen Lavransdatter, there's a sweeping saga to the story, allowing these two to dip in and out of each other's lives; despite time and distance, they remain connected.






Josephine & Napoleon from The Last Great Dance on Earth.  Another trilogy with an amazing heroine in a complicated, difficult marriage.  Author Gulland created a vibrant woman in Josephine; by the end of the trilogy, I was in love with her!  Historically we know Napoleon loved Josephine; Gulland's writing makes it clear why these two had -- for a time -- such an amazing relationship.


Mannie & Mike from The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.  Okay, so I'm definitely pushing the definition of 'couple' with this one, but I can't resist.  The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a guilty pleasure read, and pretty outside the norm of my typical reading tastes.  Technically, the couple of note would probably be Mannie and Wyoh, but despite their desire for each other, I didn't find their relationship as compelling as the one Mannie had with the sentient computer Mike.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Alice I Have Been - Melanie Benjamin


Title: Alice I have Been
Author: Melanie Benjamin

Genre: Fiction (Literary/Historical)

Love/Hate?: Loooooooooooooooooove
Rating: 5/5
Did I finish?: In record time!
One-sentence summary: The fictionalized life of Alice Liddell Hargreaves, whose life was bigger than but constantly affected by her relationship with Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll.

Why did I get this book?: Accidental mix-up with the title!
Source: Library
Challenges: Support Your Local Library

Do you like the cover?: Yes, it's quite perfect for the story.

First line from book: But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland.

Did... I find Benjamin's handling of Alice and Dogdson's 'relationship' to be nuanced and deft?: YES. She articulates, without judgment (or permission), the possible reality of what occurred between them, allowing the reader to formulate their own opinion.

Did... I shed tears once I finished this book?: YES. Ohemgee, the entire book has this sort of bittersweet note to it, but the end, the end! Perfection!

Did... I wish, for a moment, Benjamin would fudge history and give Alice the ending she should have had?: YES. I don't mean to be vague, but you want to talk about heartbreaking?!

Review: I picked up this book by accident; I had intended to get What Alice Knew and didn't look closely at the title. However, I'm pleased about the mistake: I opened the book last evening and was hooked by the very first line. Benjamin fleshes out the Liddells quickly but easily, and paints the world that Alice -- the daughter of a dean at Oxford -- grew up in.

Then there is Charles Dodgson, the man who would eventually publish Alice in Wonderland. Personally I have always found Dodgson to be a creepy person, but Benjamin's characterization allows space for discomfort and understanding. The story is told mostly chronologically, beginning with seven-year old Alice, and through her eyes, we watch her burgeoning crush on Charles Dogdson, her sister's crush, and his odd but appealing-to-Alice behavior. Because of that, there's space, in some ways, for sympathy and understanding.

Of course, as Dogdson's behavior comes to negatively affect Alice's life, I couldn't help but feel a kind of anger toward him -- but also toward the other men in Alice's life, such as John Ruskin and Prince Leopold. Their selfish desires and unfair expectations of Alice and women like her -- innocence, purity, virginity, adult desire hidden in child bodies -- cause heartbreak, anxiety, misery, and alienation. Benjamin again expresses these moments -- and Alice's feelings about them -- in a way I found to be very authentic. Her frustration wasn't modern or anachronistic and it took her a lifetime to articulate: Why, then, did I always feel as if his happiness was my responsibility? It wasn't fair for him to burden me with that. It had never been fair.

In the end, Dodgson's "gift" essentially cursed Alice her entire life; and yet, this isn't a story of rancor or bitterness. Over and over I was struck by Benjamin's skill in portraying Alice so fully, so compassionately, and so poignantly.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wildthorn - Jane Eagland

Title: Wildthorn
Author: Jane Eagland

Genre: Fiction (Young Adult/Historical)

Love/Hate?: Quite enjoyed it!
Rating: 4/5
Did I finish?: Yes
One-sentence summary: Independent-minded young woman is punished for her aspirations and suffers cruelly at an asylum while she struggles to discover who committed her and why.

Why did I get this book?: Historical novel with a lovely cover. (Superficial, I know, but that's the truth.)
Source: NetGalley
Challenges: Historical Fiction

Do you like the cover?: Very -- the corset imagery perfectly captures the era of the book and the crushing, restrictive feel of Louisa's experiences at Wildthorn!

First line from book: The carriage jolts and splashes along the rutted lanes flooded by the heavy November rains.

Did... I feel like I might be going a bit mad, along with Louisa?: YES. Like Dracula in Love, I found the historically accurate description of Wildthorn to be chilling.

Did... I totally melt over the unexpectedly sweet romance?: YES. It felt a bit like restitution for the suffering Louisa experienced.

Did... I find the ePub file provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to be nearly unreadable?: YES. I'm not including that in my rating, but I've mentioned in my review because it hindered my ability to enjoy reading this book.

Review: This is the kind of book that makes you feel as if you're a little mad yourself. In the best way. Told in four parts, the story opens with Louisa's arrival at Wildthorn, where she's committed under the name of Lucy. Her confusion is our confusion but through flashbacks, we slowly start to learn what might have lead to this horrible event.

The treachery surrounding Louisa's commitment is grim enough but I found Eagland's descriptions of life in the asylum and it's various 'wards' (levels of hell, in some ways) to be the most frightening part of the story. How she survives is a miracle -- and happily, the story doesn't end there. Louisa begins to repair herself and finds an unexpected and rather sweet romance. Eventually, the cause and agents of her commitment to are revealed -- and while the plot is nefarious, in some ways, it's very mundane, and again, the stark reality of what could happen to a young woman in Victorian England is what makes the story so chilling. A quick, enjoyable read.

Technical Review: I have a Sony eReader; I don't have vision problems. The default font size on this file was, frankly, microscopic. Had I purchased the file I would be very unhappy. Magnification didn't help: it went from joke big to ridiculous huge. As a result, I could only stand to read in small bursts which was particularly inconvenient considering the delicious tension Eagland created. I hope the version of this that goes on sale has better sizing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Adam & Eve - Sena Jeter Naslund


Title: Adam & Eve
Author: Sena Jeter Nasuland

Genre: Fiction (Literary? / Speculative)

Love/Hate?: Deep, deep loathing.
Rating: 2.5ish/5
Did I finish?: Yes, but only because I knew I had to review it.
One-sentence summary: Widow Lucy hides secret Biblical document from evil Abrahamic fundamentalists, meets mentally ill man, saves document, man, self. World?

Why did I get this book?: I'd heard lots of great things about Naslund after Ahab's Wife, which was on my TBR. (Until this book. Now no more Naslund, ever.)
Source: LibraryThing

Do you like the cover?: Eh, it's okay.

First line from book: A nude couple is standing in the shade of a small, leafy tree.

Did... this book remind me of Dan Brown, Kate Mosse, and Paulo Coelho?: Yes, in a bad way.

Did... I talk about this book non-stop for the last two days?: Yes, so I suppose in that sense, it was a good book. I just talked smack about it, though.

Did... I actually groan aloud?: Yes, once, near the end, when the improbability got a little too much for me.

Review: I didn't like this book -- but I should have. It has all the elements I typically enjoy: conspiracy, physics and space, theology, current events, lyrical language, sex -- and yet, Naslund managed to take all those fun elements and warp them into big, hollow caricatures. No one -- not even our heroine Lucy -- was developed; and yet, I don't think this was supposed to be a plot-driven novel (even though this book has plot in spades). I think we're supposed to be caught up and moved by the various, damaged characters, but not a one was particularly engaging or interesting.

Somewhere I saw a reference to Naslund as being a bit Virginia Woolf-ish, and I can see that in this book. However, there's a big difference between attempting Woolfian prose and actually executing it, and sadly, Naslund is no Woolf. Disjointed ruminations stuck between scenes doesn't a Mrs. Dalloway make.

I'm hesitant to get into the specific problems I had as I don't want to spoil anyone the numerous bizarre plot twists. Needless to say, I found her pacing and plotting problematic. There's an artificial sense f urgency due to the cabal of religious fundamentalists chasing after Lucy -- a particular sticking point for me, as I found Naslund's exoticization of Middle Easterners rather offensive and embarrassing. There's an unremarkable retelling of the Genesis story that was unimaginative and predictable. The book's opening borders on cartoonish. I'm unsure why Naslund set the book in the future -- 2017 through 2021 -- as much of the world she describes -- right down to the conflict in Iraq -- sounds contemporary.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesday, Sept 21


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week's quote is from the painfully bad Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund.

His eyes were like the eyes of a lazy African lion tracking a small female gazelle but waiting for the lioness to do the work. The lion's mane fluttered in a slight breeze. Again, I felt mesmerized -- and afraid. Strangely alive.

Hope you all are reading something a little better written!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mailbox Monday, Sept 19

Hosted this month by Bermudaonion! Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia of The Printed Page and is now on tour.

One book this week, but it looks very promising! Sadly, I can't put my hands on the digital camera for a picture (the dangers of moving -- did I pack it? Or just put it aside?) so here's one from the internet:



Thanks to Book Junkie for this one!

TWO BRILLIANT AGENTS

FBI Special Agent Monica Davenport has made a career out of profiling serial killers. But getting inside the twisted minds of the cruel and the sadistic has taken its toll: She’s walled herself off from the world. Yet Monica can’t ignore fellow agent Luke Dante, the only man who ever broke through her defenses.

ONE DREAM TEAM

Luke has the unique ability to put victims at ease…professionally, he and Monica made a perfect team. Now they’re reunited to catch a murderer who uses his victims’ deepest, darkest fears for sport - but their investigative skills aren’t enough. Luke and Monica will have to face the secrets from their past, the ones that terrify them the most, if they are to have a future together.

But can they catch a killer whose weapon is…DEADLY FEAR?

For You Alone - Susan Kaye



Title: For You Alone (Frederick Wentworth, Captain: Book Two)
Author: Susan Kaye

Genre: Fiction (Historical; Jane Austen)

Love/Hate?: Love!
Rating: 5/5
Did I finish?: Yes, and this time, I raced through it because this was potato chip-level of delicious.

One-sentence summary: Jane Austen's Persuasion from Capt. Wentworth's point of view, continued from the events in Lyme.

Why did I get this book?: My Austen challenge plus I've a giant crush on Wentworth, and this is the sequel to None But You.
Source: Public library
Challenges: Historical Fiction, Jane Austen is my Homegirl, Support Your Local Library

Do you like the cover?: Yes, and while subtle like the first, I think this cover better represents the plot than the cover to None But You.

First line from book: Louisa insisted on standing and even took the few steps to the window.

Do... I wish Kaye would write a book about Wentworth's siblings?: Yes! I've always been partial to Sophia Croft, especially Fiona Shaw Sophia, and Kaye's articulation of both Sophia and elder brother Edward is just wonderful.

Am... I contemplating writing Kaye a fan letter?: Yes, although I'm not sure what I'll say other than 'Dear Ms Kaye, your books are made of awesome and so are you'.

Did... I about die of joy when I discovered there's going to be a third book?: Ohmygosh, yes. Praise higher powers for that.

Review: I read this book in at least half the time of the first, and I think it's because there's so much original plot in this one. Unlike None But You, which is almost scene-for-scene of Persuasion (right down to the dialogue), Kaye has to fill in the details of Wentworth's activities after the disastrous event in Lyme. While Anne and her family goes to Bath, Wentworth is on his own, and Kaye easily fleshes out Wentworth's family. In None But You, the reader is sort of holding their breath, wondering how Kaye will handle the scenes and characters we readers are so familiar with. I think that's why my reading was so slow. In For You Alone, I had no apprehension that there might be a wrong note -- Kaye already proved her Austen competency, and when it came to her original plotting regarding Wentworth, it was engaging and felt authentic.

There was a different feel to this book than the first in terms of tension, and again I suspect it's due to the change in plot and focus. None But You is fraught with the tension of Anne and Wentworth's reunion and the reader's knowledge of what is to come. In For You Alone, Wentworth (and the reader) freed from the carefully controlled dance of society and I think everyone breathed a bit easier.

The only misstep for me was the very abrupt change of focus that began at Chapter Fourteen. With no notice, the point-of-view changed from solely Wentworth to that of Wentworth and Anne; finding myself in Anne's bedroom as she and her maid prepared for the night felt very sudden and abrupt. I wished Kaye had done something to indicate this shift in direction, perhaps a Part I and Part II, something like that.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wandering Thursday, Sept 16

Another wandering Thursday since my Wednesday was full of...work. Hm, I'm not sure I approve of Working Wednesday!

  • The Millions always has really interesting posts that are sort of dreamy, sort of random, but always fascinating, kind of like my teenaged-idea of what hanging out at a coffee shop would be like. Today's article is about novellas being pushed as novels.

  • Beginning September 29th, an Elizabeth Gaskell blog tour! (I suppose I should wait until it gets closer, but I'm pretty excited about it!)

  • Having been assigned I, Rigoberta Menchú in college, I've been particularly interested in all the controversy that's subsequently followed her; a new article in the Nation summarizes the story of Ms Menchú and her memoir.

  • Author Karen Essex's blog post says it all: 'No Sex, Please, We're Literary'.

  • American Scholar has a piece on the Lady Chatterly ban in the UK, made a little more human by looking at those who were involved in the trial.

  • And finally, a very late but interesting article from the Guardian about modern textspeak and Victorian emblematic poetry.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Giveaways, September 15ish

Oofta, what a week! Real life has made things totally crazy and I've done next to no reading and very little playing online. LE SIGH.

However, here are some giveaways I'm pretty excited about!

From Page Turner's Blog, a fabulous prize-pack that I am drooling over: signed copy of Forest of Hands and Teeth & The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan plus a handful of signed bookmarks!

Also from Page Turner's blog, a lovely giveaway for Banned Book Week!

From Enchanted by Josephine, a chance to win the much-blogged about The Countess and the King, a book I am particularly excited about!

From Confessions of a Bookaholic, the very delicious-sounding Twin's Daughter is up for grabs. I'm reminded of LM Alcott's pot boilers in the best way!

As an Eleanor fan, I'm thrilled to see a novel featuring her daughter! The Queen's Daughter is being given away by Rebecca's Book Blog; I highly recommend Rebecca's interview with Susan Coventry.

The best titled giveaway might have to go to Ramblings of a Wanna Be Scribe for The Epic Giveway of Epic Epicness!!!!!! And seriously, it is pretty epic. I'm drooling over the signed copy of Leviathan.

Now purists might balk, but I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of Pride and Prejudice in a different setting, and there's a giveaway for Darcy's Voyage which does just that.

Win one of three very hot YA titles -- signed! From A Good Addiction, a chance at Paranormalcy, Firelight, or Beautiful Creatures! (I'm aiming for Paranormalcy!)

None But You - Susan Kaye


Title: None But You (Frederick Wentworth, Captain: Book One)
Author: Susan Kaye

Genre: Fiction (Historical; Jane Austen)

Love/Hate?: Love!
Rating: 5/5
Did I finish?: Yes, although slowed by my constant pauses to savor and daydream over a scene!

One-sentence summary: Jane Austen's Persuasion from Capt. Wentworth's point of view.

Why did I get this book?: My Austen challenge plus I've a giant crush on Wentworth.
Source: Public library
Challenges: Historical Fiction, Jane Austen is my Homegirl, Support Your Local Library

Do you like the cover?: Yes, although it's quite understated.

First line from book: Captain Wentworth, thank you for inviting Anne and me.

Did... I learn interesting trivia about the British navy?: Yes, like the source of 'letting the cat out of the bag'!

Did... I envision Ciarán Hind the entire time I read this book?: Yes, and it only enhanced the experience.

Did... I take forever to finish this book because I kept pausing to daydream over scene after scene?: Uhm, yes. It's better than any movie.

Review: As I've admitted before, Persuasion ranks very close to my favorite Austen novel, so I just couldn't resist this two book series from Wentworth's point of view.

I'm kind of bubbling over with excitement about this book (I'm dying to read the sequel, For You Alone) as it has so many great elements. Of course, there's a compelling plot line (thanks to Austen), but Kaye isn't lazy with her storytelling. She takes what we know in Persuasion but fills out all the blanks regarding Capt. Frederick Wentworth: his thoughts, his feelings, his back story.

The writing has the lovely heft of a good historical novel but excellent pacing and marvelous characters. Again, Kaye is helped by Austen's original work, but she does an excellent job of filling them out and breathing life into them without making them seem anachronistic or out-of-character. I was particularly struck by the fleshing out of Wentworth: Kaye's research into Naval life post-Napoleonic Wars is fascinating to read, heavily infused into the story without being cumbersome.

As a fan of Persuasion, this was a beautiful retelling of the story that left me very satisfied and wildly eager for the sequel. I don't think one has to be an Austen or Persuasion fan to enjoy this book; it's a wonderful, readable historical novel in it's own right.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009


From the American Library Association, the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009. A depressing mix of new releases and lovely classics. I'm just so baffled by those parents that would rather have a book removed entirely from a library rather than have a conversation with their children about the content. So barbaric!

I suppose the small silver lining is that the number of books challenged in 2009 was less than in 2008.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cinders - Michelle Davidson Argyle


Title: Cinders
Author: Michelle Davidson Argyle

Genre: Fiction (Fantasy/Fairy Tale)

Love/Hate?: Love!
Rating: 4/5
Did I finish?: Uhm, yeah. Got the book in the mail, opened first page to peruse, next thing I know, it's hours later and I'm on the last page!

One-sentence summary: Cinderella's story, after 'and they lived happily ever after'.

Why did I get this book?: Won it!
Source: Contest by VVB32 Reads, sent and signed by the author!
Challenges: None.

Do you like the cover?: Yes -- and as it's author designed, it actually relates to what's in the book!

First line from book: The twelfth week after the marriage Cinderella grew tired of the servants.

Did... I inhale this book in one sitting?: YES.

Did... I develop a tiny crush on Prince Charming: YES. What a goober.

Did... I get teary by the end: YES, in such a good way!

Review: This isn't a reboot or retelling of the Cinderella fairy tale; instead, it's a brief but engrossing take on what might have happened after the story ended. Argyle's writing is simple and straight-forward, in the type of style that fairy tales are told, but the character motivations and plot are far from simplistic. I was reminded of Emma Donoghue and Angela Carter a bit; while Argyle doesn't twist the story of Cinderella, she offers us a poignant version of what a life based on enchantment and magic would feel like. Cinderella (or Princess Christina, as she is called) lives in the palace with her lovely husband and amazing household, wondering at the authenticity of her prince's feelings and her own feelings in return. The fairy godmother's enchantments, once so welcome, now make everything Cinderella knows suspect and suspicious.

I have to confess, I was sort of bracing myself for some cruel reinvention of the story -- like Prince Charming was really a sadist -- and so I was pleasantly surprised and relieved that Argyle's characterizations are more subtle and deft. The twist of the story isn't that Cinderella's fairy tale life is really a nightmare; it's that nagging feeling that maybe it isn't really what she wanted.

The story is decidedly adult -- not in a XXX sort of way -- but in the mature and bittersweet resolution Argyle offers. I was completely unprepared for the book's conclusion -- in the best way -- and I'm planning a reread soon. I want to savor the story all over again!

The author is selling discounted copies of Cinders -- I highly recommend picking up a copy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mailbox Monday, Tuesday edition!


Yesterday was a postal holiday so no mail -- which means today is my Mailbox Monday! And as I actually got goodies over the week, I couldn't resist posting!

The goodies are:

A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi, thanks to GoodReads Giveaway;

Cinders by, from a giveaway by VVB32 Reads (and signed by the author Michelle Davidson Argyle!);

John Belushi is Dead, from a giveaway by From the TBR Pile;

The Pindar Diamond from a GoodReads swap;

and finally, a Catherine de Medici pendant from C.W. Gortner, via Historical Novel Review. (I'm wearing it to work tomorrow!)

This almost makes up for the fact that the Post Office lost/destroyed a package of eight books that I had a sent for a GoodReads swap. I'm super steamed at the loss of the books and that I'm not getting credit for shipping them. Le sigh.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wandering Thursday

Back to Thursday for my link post -- apparently the theme will wander the days of the week and the web!

  • 'When book recommendations go wrong'. I just had a convo this month with a friend in which we agreed, it's horrifying when we get book recommendations from someone we like, and it's awful; and then we were shocked to discover her all-time-desert-island-pick was, like, my least favorite book in history. It was awkward for a moment.
  • 'Getting seasick with Somerset Maugham'. One, I've got a bit of a girlcrush on Jessa Crispin; two, I've got a bit of a mancrush on Somerset Maugham; and three, I love travel writing.
  • Nicola Griffith considers offering 'The perfect writing class'. I'm kind of drooling over this. Author Nicola Griffith is feeling out interest in a writing class taught by her. Were I doing any serious writing I would consider it, but where I am now, I can only watch and drool.
  • 'Mr Rochester is a creep'. I loved this because I vastly prefer Wuthering Heights to Jane Eyre. I so don't get the Rochester love. But I also think it's a fun piece because I know many are all wrathful about Edward Cullen (that's the vampire's name, right?) and his behavior toward Ms Swan, and here we see it's nothing new!
  • Jennifer Egan: Gallery of Writer's Impulses. This article is what inspired me to pick up The Keep from the library.
  • And finally, winners of the Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Award. I'm always in need of book recommendations, and award winners usually satisfy!

Zombies

I like zombies enough, (more than vampires, perhaps) but I'm particularly tickled by the zombie reading list created for September Zombies. Living in Boston, where right now everyone is moving back to the many local universities, I'm reminded a bit of a zombie infestation: you can always tell the freshmen by their rather dazed expressions!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Banned Book Month (!)

I know that it's typically Banned Book Week (this year, Sept 25 - Oct 2), but inspired by Bites, I'm doing Banned Book Month, September 2 through October 2nd.

Bites


Having attended a high school that succumbed to book banning as well as currently living near a town where one family is working hard to ban books, I'm passionate about this topic. Not only do I oppose book banning on principle, but as a lesbian who hopes to have a family, I am particularly hurt by those who wish to make me and my loved ones invisible. The reasons books get banned are varied, but all wrong, and it's important to fight censorship in our communities. /soapbox

I'm still working on my content, but I hope to feature my favorite banned books and see what banned books all of you read. Any ideas? Let me know!

WWW Wednesday: September 1


From Should Be Reading, WWW Wednesday!

I've had a breakneck week at work (moving offices!) and a myriad of personal life errands (dentist, passport, apartment hunting), so content has been thin the last few days and I've been very bad about visiting my usual blogs. Sorry!

* What are you currently reading?: None But You by Susan Kaye, which tells Persuasion from Capt. Wentworth's viewpoint. Wonderful so far, and only improved by my envisioning Ciarán Hinds as Wentworth.

* What did you recently finish reading?: Dracula In Love by Karen Essex, with mixed feelings. Ultimately, my enthusiasm for it still rages, but I was a mite disappointed at the end.

* What do you think you’ll read next?: Choices, choices! I forgot to do my Mailbox Monday, so I don't know if I should get my brag on about what arrived this week -- I might keep it a secret for next Monday's Mailbox. Needless to say, I'm swimming in so many options I don't know what to choose!

What are you all reading now?