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Showing posts from December, 2008

Tuesday Thingers

Today's question: Here is a list of the main areas of Library Thing:

1. Home (http://www.librarything.com/, before you log in)
2. Home (once you log in, contains Your Home, Your Profile, Connections, Recommendations, Reviews, Statistics, Clouds, Gallery, Memes)
3. Profile (Recent activity, tags, comments, members with your books)
4. Your Library
5. Your Tags
6. Add Books
7. Talk
8. Groups
9. Local
10. Search
11. Zeitgeist (Stats, Top Lists)
12. Tools (Widgets, Store)
13. Blog

What area are you most familiar with? What area is your favorite? What area are you curious about? Are there any that you have not really looked at?

I’m familiar with pretty much all these areas, except home before you login because my computer automatically logs me in every time I use LT.

Home after you log in is a good place to start from, because I enjoy playing around with the various features (I especially like Statistics). On my profile page, I like looking at the “reviews” page, because I enjoy looking at the review o…

Review: Niccolo Rising, by Dorothy Dunnett

Niccolo Rising is the first in the House of Niccolo series. In this particular book, we are introduced to young Claes, who begins the story as a servant in the dyeing establishing of the widow Charetty in Bruges.

I picked this novel up because, as any reader of this blog knows, I love historical fiction. On the whole, though, I struggled with Niccolo Rising, primarily because the author lost me when she got into the political events of the time. Frankly, I was bored, so much that I began to skip pages to get to the more interesting parts. The language is dense and difficult to follow. I had to read this book is short fits and starts because the author really packs the information in, sometimes to the detriment of the plot. But when the plot got back to Claes, it was actually quite interesting. It’s just too bad that there was so little plot there. Too, it was really difficult for me to identify or even understand the main character, since the third-person narrative doesn’t actually rev…

The Buy One Book and Read It Challenge

Here are the rules:

This challenge is designed to encourage you to rediscover the joy of reading, while supporting the authors who bring us books.There are two levels or choices for this challenge. Because a lot of people who read this blog are voracious readers, I have added a new level this year.

1) The first option is to simply buy one book and read it. The book you buy and read should be a book you have chosen for yourself for pleasure. It should not be work related and books read to your children do not count.

2) The second option is to buy one book a month and read it. I am asking that those of you who will probably already have one book read by January 2 choose this option. Books can be on your other challenge lists, it is only necessary that you buy them and read them!

I'm doing option #2. Here's my list:
January: Harriet and Isabella, by Patricia O'Brien
February: The Dark Rose, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
March: Sophia's Secret, by Susanna Kearsley
April: Frenchman'…

The Sunday Salon

For this week’s Sunday Salon, I’m following the herd and doing a round-up of what I read this year. This year I finished 138 books, with one still in progress. Here are some statistics, as well as a “best” list.

Number of books read: 138
Number of re-reads: 1
Number of distinct authors: 111
Most frequent author: Dorothy Sayers (3); Alison Weir (3)
New-to-me authors: 100
Longest book completed: The Far Pavilions (St. Martin’s Griffin, 955 pp.)
Shortest book completed: 84, Charing Cross Road (Penguin, 97 pp.)
Most productive months: June and July (15 books each)
Least productive month: February (4 books)
Reviews posted in 2008: 207

Genres (some may overlap):
Fiction: 113
Chick Lit: 10
Historical fiction: 63
Classics: 9
Mystery: 24
YA: 0
Other:
Nonfiction: 25
History: 17
Biography: 10
Memoir: 8
Women’s Studies: 5
Essays: 2
Other:

Books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list: 16
Author nationalities: US, Great Britain, Australia, Pakistan, Japan
Settings (country): United States, Britain, Pakistan, Australi…

Review: The Book of Unholy Mischief, by Elle Newmark

It’s 1498, and the Renaissance is at its height in the city-states of Italy. Savonarola has just been executed in Florence, and Rodrigo Borgia is Pope Alexander VI in Rome. And half of Europe is in a race for dominance across the Atlantic in the New World. Venice is the home for a convergence of cultures in the Mediterranean, allowing its residents to experience foods never before seen in Europe (including the supposedly poisonous “love apple”).

Luciano is a homeless Venetian street urchin, forced to live hand-to-mouth and to steal in order to survive. One stolen pomegranate and Luciano finds himself as the apprentice to the chef of the doge, the secular head of Venice. When the doge (not named here, but probably Agostino Barbarigo) poisons a peasant in the palace’s dining room, Luciano embarks on a search for a highly-prized book that holds secrets that many powerful people will kill for. But what are those secrets?

Venice comes to life in this vibrant novel. The author has clearly don…

Cover Deja-vu #7

As I mentioned here, the covers of Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber and the Penguin Classics version of Daniel Defoe's Roxana are similar. Here's another book cover that's similar--eerily so--to those: that of The French Mistress, Susan Holloway Scott's next book. Can we place a moratorium on covers that have headless or nearly-so women on them?

SantaThing

Since a lot of people are showing off what they got from their Secret Santa this year on LT, I thought I might do so as well. I got two books:


and


The Observations has been on my TBR list for a while; and Five Quarters of the Orange is the only one of Joanne Harris's books I haven't read. So in all, a very good SantaThing! Thanks go out to xrayedgrl for doing this for me.

As for what I gave: I feel bad now, because other people gave two books, but I only gave one to my SantaThing person:

My person had a lot of Ken Follett in their library, including World Without End; but not this one, so I thought they'd enjoy reading the prequel.

If you partitcipated in SantaThing, what did you give/ get?

Review: A Foreign Affair, by Carol Peacock

A Foreign Affair is the first in a series about the adventures of the resourceful Liberty Lane. It’s 1837, and Queen Victoria has just ascended the throne of England. However, Liberty isn’t concerned about the coronation of the Queen; she’s much more interested in how her father died, apparently in a duel, while in France. Her investigation leads her to a dangerous plot that may jeopardize the English crown and possible England itself.

I thought this was a pretty lively, exciting, and fast-paced novel. Although the characters seemed to be a little too modern at times, I enjoyed this book and the sort-of gothic Mandeville Hall. It had just the right combination of murder, mystery, and treason, with a little bit of romance mixed in. Caro Peacock used to work as a guide at Croft Castle in Hereford, the family home of Sir Richard Croft, the medical expert who was present at the birth of Princess Charlotte’s son in 1817. From that story sprung the idea for A Foreign Affair. Reading this nov…

Shakespeare Meme

I stole this from Jackets and Covers...

1. What was your first introduction to William Shakespeare? Was it love or hate?

I was introduced to Shakespeare through the 1996 film Romeo and Juliet; it was the movie to see when I was in middle school. Then, our drama teacher had us read out the play in class, which was fun. But my love of Shakespeare’s works goes back to reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 8th grade.

2. Which Shakespeare plays have you been required to read?

In grade school: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing.
In college: Henry V (for a British history course), then for a course on Shakespeare I was required to read A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, Twelfth Night, and a few others which I can’t remember at the moment. I also had to read “The Rape of Lucrece” (the poem) for a class on unruly women in the Renaissance.

3. Do you think Shakespeare is important? Do you feel you are a “better” per…

Friday Finds

Here are a few books that have caught my attention recently:

The Principessa, by Christie Dickason. Sequel to The Firemaster’s Mistress.

The Devil’s Queen, by Jeanne Kalogridis (author of The Borgia Bride and others). Novel coming out sometime next spring/ summer (Amazon.com says next July, but who knows?) about the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre and Catherine de Medici.

Two Early Reviewers books:

Serendipity, by Louise Shaffer and A Dangerous Affair, by Caro Peacock.

Recommended by author Deanna Raybourn: A Moment of Silence, by Anna Dean. Mystery set in Regency England. To be published next June.

Recommended by another Historical Fiction Online member: The King’s Mistress, by Emma Campion (Candace Robb). It’s about Alice Perrers, mistress to Edward III. Coming out in the UK in April.

Darling Jim, by Christian Moerk. Modern gothic suspense set in Ireland, to be published in March; ARC that’s coming to me in the mail.

The Miracles of Prato, by Laurie Albanese. Historical fiction set in Renais…

Booking Through Thursday

There seems to have been two Booking Through Thursday posts posted this week, so I’ll answer both of them.

Do you give books as gifts?
To everyone? Or only to select people?
How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?
I usually give at least one person on my list books, and it usually depends on personal taste. I enjoy receiving books, of course, but I also enjoy getting gift cards in order to buy them on my own—I’m very picky about my taste.

What is the best book you ever bought for yourself?
And, why? What made it the best? What made it so special?
Oh, goodness, this is a tough question! I’ve bought a lot of good books over the years, but on of my favorite impulse purchase was The Sunne in Splendour. Bought it for less than $5 at the Strand last winter on a lunch break, and I basically devoured the book in less than a week (at over 900 pages, it’s no small feat). I love medieval history, so reading the book was quite a treat for me.

Tuesday Thingers... on Wednesday

Today's Question: The LT Home Page feature. How are you liking it? Or not? Do you go here when you log into LT or do you use your profile page more?

I always log into the Home Page feature. I like it a bit because that’s where I get a few recommendations for reading. Also, I can quickly search my whole library from there. I also use my profile page a lot; I have fun playing around with Statistics (just learned what median/ mean book obscurity means!). I also use the profile page to get to my Groups, where I spend a lot of time.

Review revisited: Girl in a Blue Dress, by Gaynor Arnold

Today is the US publication date of this novel, so I thought I'd repost this review so that those of you in the US will be encouraged to go out and buy this book...

The thinly-disguised story of Catherine Dickens, wife of the famous author, is at the heart of this unpretentious, unassuming novel.The celebrated author Alfred Gibson has died, leaving England in mourning. His estranged wife, Dorothy (or “Dodo”) sits at home as the funeral and reading of the will take place. As she sits, she looks back on her twenty-year-plus marriage to “the One and Only,” and “The Great Original.” An invitation to visit Queen Victoria, as well to her sister Sissy and the actress Wilhelmina Rickets, leads to another series of reflections on her marriage.

It’s a quiet novel, simple yet complicated in many ways. There’s not much action, certainly not in the present day, but there’s a certain gentleness of language that makes this book compellingly readable. Dodo, despite her shy, retiring ways, is a like…

Sunday Salon

It’s been a quiet Sunday. I’ve been in Pennsylvania for the past week or so, and I’ve had a lot of time to read. I’ve only written one review this week, of The Far Pavilions; but I’ve finished a few others: The Séance, by John Harwood (creepy), The Book of Unholy Mischief, by Elle Newmark (good except for the culinary anachronisms), and The Piano Teacher, by Janice Y.K. Lee (not enough character development). I’m currently reading Mistress Shakespeare, by Karen Harper, and enjoying it immensely. Otherwise, not much new has been going on here in my neck of the woods.

Review: The Far Pavilions, by MM Kaye

Where do I begin with The Far Pavilions? It’s an epic love story with a complicated, suspenseful plot, and any review I might write wouldn’t do it justice. But I’ll try.

Ashton Pelham-Martyn is born in India in 1852, the son of a famed British scholar. When his father dies, Ash is entrusted into the care of his maternal uncle. However, the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 changes the course of his life, and Ash goes into hiding with his foster mother, Sita. Later, Ash becomes a servant in the royal court at Karidkote, under the crown prince. While there, Ash meets Juli, and his life changes once again.

MM Kaye was born in India and lived there for a significant part of her life, and it’s clear from this novel that India left an indelible, positive mark on her. India in the time of the British Raj fairly oozes from all 955 pages of this epic novel about love that transcends culture, caste, religion, and other factors. Kaye does a fantastic job of describing the differences between each of the Indian…

Giveaway: Mistress Shakespeare

I haven't picked a winner yet for the giveaway for Mistress of Mellyn, but I'll do so in a moment. In the meantime... I'm giving away an ARC of Mistress Shakespeare, by Karen Harper (author of The Last Boleyn), which will be published in February. Here's the blurb from the back of the book:

"In Mistress Shakespeare, Elizabethan beauty Anne Whateley reveals intimate details of her dangerous, daring life and her great love, William Shakespeare. As historical records show, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton is betrothed to Will just days before he is forced to wed the pregnant Anne Hathaway of Shottery. The clandestine Whateley/Shakespeare match is a meeting of hearts and heads that no one—not even Queen Elizabeth or her spymasters—can destroy. From rural Stratford-upon- Avon to teeming London, the passionate pair struggles to stay solvent and remain safe from Elizabeth I’s campaign to hunt down secret Catholics, of whom Shakespeare is rumored to be a part. Often at odds…

Belated Booking Through Thursday

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?
(I’m guessing #1 is an easy question for everyone?)
2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

1. Everyone is going to hate me for this answer, but I think I have way too much time on my hands! I don’t have a job right now (been trying for three years, but I haven’t given up yet), so I do nothing but read and apply and interview for jobs all day long. I estimate that I read about six hours each day. Don’t be jealous; having so much time on your hands and not knowing what to do with it gets old after a short while.

2. If I had more time to read, I'd probably give myself a headache! But if I did read any more, I’d probably stay with the same things I’d always read—escapist and comfort books. And I read those kinds of books in order to get my mind off of my current situation.

How to Survive a Renaissance Drama

I got a particular kick out of this, since I wrote my undergrad senior thesis on the clowns and fools in Shakespeare's comedies. Even though I'm partial to Renaissance comedies, pretty much all of that is true, in a funny, irreverent way.

I've been away for a couple of days, and I've been reading The Far Pavilions-- a review will be forthcoming. I also need to go catch up on my blog reading...

Cover Deja-Vu #6

In September, I did a Cover Deja-Vu where I noticed that the covers of James Conroy Martin's Push Not the River and the Bantam Classics cover of Wuthering Heights were one and the same. Here's another cover that's nearly ideantical: that of The Seduction of the Crimson Rose, by Lauren Willig.

Tuesday Thingers

Most of us book bloggers like to write book reviews- if we don't love to write book reviews- but here's today's question. When it comes to LT (and your blog), do you review every book you read? Do you just review Early Reviewers or ARCs? Do you review only if you like a book, or only if you feel like you have to? How soon after reading do you post your review? Do you post them other places- other social networking sites, Amazon, etc.?

I try to review every book I read, but sometimes I don’t, if I can’t muster up enough to say about a book. Sometimes I have very strong opinions about a book, and at other times I’ll read a book, leave it alone for a few days, come back to review it, and find that I can’t remember anything about it! I try to review all the ARCs I receive, especially since the publicist or author goes to such great length to send the book to me. I write reviews as I’m reading, and then I generally try to post those reviews within a few days of reading the book.…

In which I like and dislike two book covers...

Once again, the people at Berkely/ NAL have come up with a great cover for the newest book of one of my favorite authors. Jen Lancaster's next book will be out in May, and Pretty in Plaid is apparently a prequel to Bitter is a New Black.
On the other hand, here's the cover of Silent on the Moor, by Deanna Raybourn, another one of my favorite authors. It's to be published in March. Boy, does that look like the cover of a romance novel, or what? If I wasn't already a fan, I'd walk right on by this cover in a bookstore!

Review: The Firemaster's Mistress, by Christie Dickason

The Firemaster’s Mistress is set against the rich backdrop of 1605 England. In the spring of that year, an explosion took place in London that was a harbinger of a far larger plot: the Gunpowder Plot, in which a number of Catholics planned to blow up Parliament and King James I, and put a Catholic on the throne of England.

Francis Quoynt is a firemaster (someone who creates explosions), who is enlisted by William Cecil, Secretary of State, to spy for him. Quickly, Quoynt ingratiates himself among a number of men (including one who calls himself “Guido”) who are deeply involved in the plan to kill the king. Francis's father, Boomer Quoynt, is a former firemaster who lives in what is now Brighton, at the family home, Powder Mote.

Kate Peach is a glovemaker and secret Catholic, whose family perished during an outbreak of the plague in the summer of 1604. Her lover, Hugh Traylor, uses her for his own nefarious deeds, including hiding Catholic priests in Kate’s home at a time when to do …

Friday Finds

Is is really Friday again? Here's a book that has caught my attention this week:

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, by Tiffany Baker. A much-looked-forward-to debut novel coming out in January.


Book giveaway: Mistress of Mellyn

I received a second ARC of Mistress of Mellyn in the mail today, so I'm having a giveaway for it!
Here are the rules for entry:
1) Deadline to enter is December 11th, or a week from today
2) US entries only
3) Please be sure to leave an e-mail or some way for me to reach you in case you win. Good luck! Watch out for a couple more giveaways here in the next few weeks.

Booking Through Thursday

1. Do you have a favorite author?

I have a number of favorite authors, but my all-time favorite is Jane Austen. Her work has been dismissed by a lot of people as silly/ trivial, but I think she’s a great observer of human character.

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

I’ve read her six novels, but I haven’t read the rest of her work… yet.

3. Did you LIKE everything?

Loved Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility (I've read each at least twice); I was a little bit on the fence with Persuasion.

4. How about a least favorite author?

There have been some authors along the way that I wasn’t too fond of. For writing, I’d say Katherine Neville. For her response to my review of one of her books, Leslie Carroll.

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

I don't think there's ever a situation where I go in thinking that the author/ book is horrible. I wanted to like The Eight; but I just didn’t like Neville's writing style. I think she was just trying too ha…

Dewey

I'm probably the very last person in the bookblogosphere to talk about this in my blog, but I echo the sentiments of pretty much everyone else when I say that I was shocked to hear of Dewey's passing last week. She was such an incredible online friend and blogger, though I don't think I ever had any direct contact with her. I especially loved the effort she put into creating Weekly Geeks.

I didn't know until recently that Dewey's son has Asperger's Syndrome, and that she worked with teens on the autism spectrum. This isn't something I really talk about here because I'm still getting used to it, but in August I too was diagnosed with Asperger's. It really touches me that Dewey had so much compassion for people on the spectrum; I remember that she was constantly adding books on the subject to her TBR pile.

I'll miss her in our little online community.

More meme fun

I've actually done this meme I think twice before, but I love doing it, so I don't mind doing it again!


Open the book closest to you at the moment and turn to page 56. Write out the 5th sentence as well as 2 to 5 sentences following.

The closest book to hand is the one I'm currently reading, MM Kaye's The Far Pavilions. It's a wonderful epic, novel. At over 900 pages, it tends to be long-winded, but I love books like that, if the plot is engrossing enough. The Far Pavilions is that kind of book. I have to cheat here a bit, since page 56 is hanging text at the end of a chapter. So I'll turn to the page before...

"When I am head-syce," said Ash grandly, "we will move to a big house and have a servant to do the cooking, and you will never have to do any more work, Mata-ji."

It is just possible that he might have carried out his plan and spent his days attached to the stable of some petty nobleman. For as soon as it became apparent that he could ri…

Review: A Matter of Justice, by Charles Todd

In 1920, a man, hated by everyone around him including his wife, is murdered in a tithe barn in Somerset. His body is found suspended from the rafters in a contraption used for the angel for local Christmas pageants. Inspector Ian Rutledge of the Scotland Yard is in the neighborhood to attend a wedding, and is called to the scene of the crime.

A Matter of Justice is the eleventh book in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series. The author is actually a mother and son writing team. From the get-go, I could tell that the authors are influenced by PD James's style. Rutledge is haunted by the ghost of his past, especially a dead lieutenant he fought with in the First World War who speaks to Rutledge in a faux-Scottish accent (I'm no expert, but do the Scots really say things like "yon?" Did the authors even speak Hamish's lines out loud as they were writing them?).

The authors tend to pepper their prose with Americanisms such as "bookstore" for "bookshop,"…

The Bookshelf Meme

I got this from Eva at A Striped Armchair. The books I’m using for this meme are only the ones in my current apartment.

The Bookshelf Meme

It quickly becomes apparent from reading book blogs that books are not only a collection of words on paper, but also physical objects that we treasure. With that in mind, here’s a brief glimpse onto my bookshelves!

The Rules
1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific e…