11 Following

I Like Books

I like to read, write and talk about writing.

Currently reading

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel
Shannon Hale
Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality
Rob Bell

My comments from Goodreads

The Duchess and the Dragon - Jamie Carie

I was surprised at how well-done this book was in a number of ways. I won't go into it now, but Carie is a born-storyteller and quite good at using words to make new to us feelings that we've all had. She also paints an almost fairy tale world - in the right places - without laying it on too thick. I did prefer the first half or so to the end, as I didn't quite grasp what became a significant moral in the tale. I really don't know why everyone is so upset about 'titillation' in this Christian fiction novel. I feel people have used by far the wrong term there. This was an nod to sexuality that is born of love; surely that has a place in God's world and, therefore, in our representation of this world of God's. It happens; it needs to be acknowledged in the honorable of ways. Something I liked in this book is the suggestion that there is nothing sinful about sensuosity or sexuality, from the joy Serena took in paints and colors to the physical expression between Serena and Drake. I was really surprised that a novel with such a lovely, perfect fairy-tale-like name could prove itself so well. Kind of like the book that library-haunting readers always expect to find on a shelf but don't. Well, looks like I went and got into it, after all.

Reblogged from Mammarella:


Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953

Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 - Elizabeth Winder Exquisite and an inspired idea to write about this month Plath spend at Mademoiselle. I doubt anyone could have written it better than Winder. She catches the spirit of the story expertly and conveys it in words so carefully chosen and perfect that her background as a poet is obvious. Lovely.

Hugs and Kisses A Photographic Celebration

Hugs and Kisses A Photographic Celebration - Unknown
Nice quotes and some good photos. The index of photos was fun, too, but disappointingly not all citations matched all photos.

Inside Tin Pan Alley

Inside Tin Pan Alley - Trudi Michel Three to four stars for this unexpected find on the used book shelves. Interesting window to a former time and place through the narrator's strong personality.

Sweet Tooth: A Novel

Sweet Tooth - Ian McEwan Loved it. My second McEwan after On Chesil Beach. I was afraid, after hearing about Atonement and other books, that it would be disturbing. Verrrry interesting, and a terribly interesting twist at the end that made me review the first few pages again and compare the to the final pages. Sweet, too, in its way. Love.

Highland Scandal (Scandalous)

Highland Scandal - Julia London I don't know what people's problems are with this book. I've looked at some of the reviews here, and feel as though others must have read an entirely different book from the one I did. It was great. Really, really great and warm and loving. Yes, it was in the tradition of all those tales wherein a group of people are thrown together, detest each other and then grow to be each others biggest fans after a remarkably fortuitous shift in the social circle, but who cares? Julia London did it well, with almost cinematic descriptions, or at least highly visual ones that I could see a director thanking her for if a movie were ever made. There's enough in life to moan about. Why moan about a genuinely good book? Sorry. I have no patience for silly criticisms.

He is Just Not That Into You

He's Just Not That Into You:  The No-excuses Truth to Understanding Guys - Greg Behrendt I never read relationship help books like this, so I was really happily surprised to find this was gold. All the psychiatrists in the world wouldn't give such good advice. It's like someone extracted all the common sense from all the most sensible and sensitive women who ever lived and put it in concentrated form in this book.

And, even better the authors are totally upfront that they are comedic writers and not experts. They're people and that's why they know. I was cynical and thought they were just out to make money and a product. But this book is actually really useful and needed to be shared. It's great that they add that, of course, everyone's different and has to make their own decisions.

It was a surprising read that didn't pretend to be more than it is. And, I have to admit, it actually seems like the authors care about the topic and women. I'm pretty cynical, but maybe I've been taken in. Still, it was fun to read and its message bears consideration.


Edwina - Jill Hofstra I'm giving it a five because it's a great addition to local Boston history records insofar as it's a description of everyday life in a small part of the city.

But the fact that Hofstra calls herself the writer of the book, when she is clearly the editor of her grandmother's writing shows that this self-published book, good in so many ways, did not go through the usual vetting process that traditionally published books do. Hofstra indicates that she found her grandmother's writing, and the book is presented in first person as a series of autobiographical stories by Edwina. The only thing to be assumed is that Hofstra assembled and edited the writings, which are actually quite good. Nonetheless, this is editing not authorship, at least as I understand it.

Additionally, an editor should make sure she knows the place name spellings of streets and cities when editing a non-fiction local history/biography. One glaring error and another smaller one were annoying.

Finally, the subtitle is poetic but doesn't make sense. At least, it's superfluous. Sorry. Most bios are actually written by adults. It seems silly to say,"A Memoir of Childhood Through the Eyes of a Woman." Of course, it is.

On the other hand, Edwina herself writes charmingly, and produces a touching portrait of life in her neighbhorhood and about being raised by an amazing single mother. Life was certainly different back then in some ways. It's worth reading. Too bad it hasn't been found by a traditional publisher. And, too bad that most traditional publishers are probably not interested in such a niche market. This is one of the places that self-publishing is very useful and good.

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel

Midnight in Austenland: A Novel - Shannon Hale I'm just a few pages in,but I have a preliminary opinion. I am fearful it won't change too much.

I enjoyed the first Austenland, even though there were some challenges in it. It was light and frothy and fun.

This book so far shows few signs of froth and fun. That could change, though. This is a good thing. But there are lots of cliches so far - and I'm just on page 7 or 8. They're cliches and they are not done well, either. You understand what Hale is getting at - for example in the magazine excerpts - but it doesn't ring true. It's not convincing. The characters don't seem to have their own voices. The daughter is 13 on one page and 14 three pages later. That's not a big deal, but didn't Austenland have an inconsistency or two, also? This reminded me of that. Don't publishers have proofreaders?

Also, the tone of the book so far is, of course, trying to mimic Northanger Abbey but it seems out of place. As far as plot goes, it's strange to have a grown woman sneaking through bushes trailing her young daughter's equally young boyfriend, and then hiring a detective to do the same. That's not balanced, and it's almost ignored that it's, in so many different ways, so very highly dumb to do that, even if a mother is worried about her daughter. I don't believe, either, that the main character would read so much Austen in a weekend. And, I can't respect a character who has never read a novel in her adult life that wasn't Agatha Christie. This is a person who just launches into Jane Austen's works? It doesn't feel real.

I'm surprised at all the great ratings here. Perhaps that means it's going to get better.

I will say that I love that Hale had this idea of a Jane Austen-themed resort and that she seems to be using it for more books. I hope she continues, but with more levity and,maybe, a tone that makes me believe she's an Austen afficionado. I like also that her books seem to be sweet and stay away from silly, unnecessary vulgarity that so many people often mistake for sophistication. Hale just wants to tell a good story in an inoffensive, entertaining way, and I think that's great. I hope the writing gets better, though.

I know it seems silly to write so much after just a few pages, but I was reading today and had so many thoughts about the book!

What Would Barbra Do?: How Musicals Changed My Life

What Would Barbra Do?: How Musicals Changed My Life - Emma Brockes The writer has a bit of an obnoxious tone, esp for a person who supposedly loves musicals. You'd think she wouldn't be so snarky talking about them; perhaps she should write about edgier stuff.

But it was laugh-out-loud funny sometimes. But it would have been nice if she'd kept the attitude in check.

Larz Anderson Park, Massachusetts (Images of America Series)

Larz Anderson Park - Evan P. Ide Really, just a picture book, but it does a lot to answer any questions a visitor to the park might have about its history. So, well done.

Smouldering Fires

Smouldering Fires - Anya Seton 3.5 stars

Overbite (Insatiable)

Overbite - Meg Cabot Link to my review/comments on my blog. http://bookbash.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=137&action=edit&message=6

Sadly, this book was horrible, kind of an insult to the fans of the series. I guess every writer deserves to be given a break because these things happen. But from a reader's perspective, it was like no care was put into it after such a great first book in the series. No care. Perhaps Cabot is writing too many books and the quality suffers from that. It's a shame to have great characters and ideas and then drop the ball almost completely.

The Book of Boston

The Book of Boston - Marjorie Drake Ross Very quick read. I read at least a significant portion, as this was done for research. Written in 1960 so it's outdated, but if the history is still accurate, then it's a good source for basic questions about what Boston was like to walk around in during Colonial times. Good source for historical fiction writers. Interesting info - not the same old stuff only - assembled into one easy-to-read book.


Nocturne - Syrie James 2.5 stars

Logical ending when something illogical would probably be better. Something unexpected. I liked the setting. But a lot of the book seemed the old vamp stuff all over again - the fear of intimacy, the healing power of the vampire's saliva, the attitude, etc.

There were some knew things thankfully, but James seemed to write what was logical, all logical feelings on the parts of the characters, a logical ending, logical thinking. But it's no fun when you can predict everything. You want the writer to surprise you, to do something you would never have thought of or, at least, to do something you feel clever to have figured out. ;-)

I liked the characters and was not happy with the way their stories turned out. Since it's fantasy, why not try to think of some way to make it happy. It doesn't have to be too realistic; vampires aren't, after all.

Addendum: Just wanted to add that I do care about the characters, so obviously something worked. Somehow I still hope for another book. Hopefully, James gets an opportunity.