For the last month or so, I have been doing something I rarely do. I’ve been reading more than one book at a time. Normally, this is a sign of stress and I only do it for a week or so, until the stress goes away. Unless this is just an unusually long period of high stress, I might have to get this looked at.
Currently I’m reading The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters Volume 1. I’m nearly half way through it. Mike got this for me for Christmas and I’ve only just found time to squeeze it in. It is like Victorian Science Fiction. Something sinister is going down in London and it is leaving people with bizarre burns on their faces. And something is going on with some blue glass. So far 3 different people have been working separately to find out what it is. I fully expect there to be more detectives.
I also felt that it was time to read another book for the 1% Well-Read Challenge, so I’m reading The Master by Colm Toibin. The book starts out in 1895, but each chapter flashes back to a different period in Henry James’ life. It is very calming to read. The language is very beautiful and the scenes frequently turn up in my dreams.
I’m also half-heartedly reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It’s not that the story isn’t good. It’s that the book is so unwieldy. I have the paperback version, even. I can’t imagine trying to wield the hardcover copy! I can only read it with the book open on my lap. This is not a good position for bedtime reading.
So that is what I’ve been up to. Maybe I’ll finish a book one day and tell you about it.
Curiosities of Literature by John Sutherland
rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is a book of trivia about books and authors, basically. Normally, I’m a huge sucker for that kind of book. My problem with it was the vast quantity of typos! If you’re going to spend that much money to have a book produced in hardcover, wouldn’t you take the time to check that sort of thing? I’m just saying.
Also, there were some fact checking problems. For example, he mentions that the 2005 movie of Pride and Prejudice has made about $121M. Then he says something about women wanting to look at Colin Firth’s nipples through a wet shirt. Oops! Colin Firth was in the 1995 made for TV movie. Things like that made me not entirely trust his other assertions.
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I finished this on Saturday. Sigh. I laughed all the way through. I had to stop reading funny bits to Mike or he would never bother reading it for himself.
The chapters match up to the original chapters in Pride and Prejudice, so if you’ve never read P&P, you could read one chapter of it, then one chapter of zombies for a fun comparison.
If you are a die-hard Jane Austen purist, this book will only make you angry. If you are tired of reading crappy Austen take-offs, this might be just the book for you. It does get kind of bloody, but the “ultra-violence” in the title might be pushing it. Maybe. Maybe I’m just inured to that sort of thing from all the martial arts movies I’ve watched.
You’d think from the title that this book has something to do with Emma by Jane Austen, but you’d be wrong. This is a manga book about a Victorian ladies’ maid named Emma. I’d show you a picture of it, but Amazon doesn’t seem to know what I’m talking about. And I can’t remember the author’s name. It starts with an M. Anyway, it was a pretty cozy read even if there were elephants.
My darling son is 9 today. He is so much fun right now! I know that one day he will get taller than me and talk a lot of smack, but for now, it’s all good.
This is a twist on true crime. It starts with the crime and the trial, etc, but then it goes on to detail the convicted man’s continued quest to prove it wasn’t him. In the OJ Simpson trial, DNA evidence was first used. That same DNA testing was used to prove that Ronald Cotton did not rape Jennifer Thompson 11 years earlier, even though she asserted that is was him. He was exonerated of the crime and went out to try to make a life for himself. Strangely enough, that life includes a deep friendship with Jennifer Thompson.
The book details both sides of the situation. It is thrilling when Ronald walks out of court a free man, but it is equally wonderful, when Jennifer realizes that she needs to speak to him in person to forgive herself for her mistake.
It’s not brilliant literature, but it did keep me up very late reading it.
I love this series. Have I mentioned that before? Well, it’s true.
Guido Brunetti is a Commissario in the Venice police department. The best part about these books is his family, I think. He has a very outspoken wife, Paola, and two teenage children that never cease to entertain.
In this book, Brunetti is visited by a seemingly shady officer from another city who wants information, but isn’t willing to give any help to get it. He wants the name of a guy who might live near a certain canal port and might be involved in a murder in another town. Well gee, that could be anyone. Just when Brunetti starts to figure it out, the officer is murdered.
If it wasn’t for all the murder in these books, they would be cozies. The lovely Venetian settings. The realistic family interactions. I love this series. Did I mention that?
1. Take five (random!) books off your bookshelf.
2. Book #1 — first sentence
3. Book #2 — last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 — second sentence on page one hundred
5. Book #4 — next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #5 — final sentence of the book
7. Make the five sentences into a paragraph:
What began as coincidence had crystallized into tradition: on the sixth of July, they would have dinner with Ramsey Acton on his birthday. Maybe get her hair and nails done on Friday afternoon. Everything is smooth, now. Luke came running up the hill, carrying a pair of basketball shoes. And everyone gets the devil he deserves.
1. The Post-birthday World – Lionel Shriver
2. The Reading Group – Elizabeth Noble
3. The Return of the Native – Thomas Hardy
4. The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
5. The Club Dumas – Arturo Perez-Reverte
I probably don’t need to tell you I’ve read a LOT of Austen-related books. Prequels, sequels, re-tellings, you name it: I’ve read it. So I feel qualified to give a fair review of this one.
Pemberley Manor is one of the better of the Pride and Prejudice sequels. By itself, it has some problems, but compared to some really bad P&P stuff, it can hold it’s own. Firstly, there’s no gratuitous sex. Normally, I don’t mind gratuitous sex scenes, but when it comes to Elizabeth and Darcy, I don’t think so. Also, the characters mostly hold on to their personalities as put forth by Jane Austen. I hate it when authors write a sequel and suddenly Georgiana is a budding exhibitionist or something. Anyway, that doesn’t go on here.
I will say that Darcy becomes a bit of a drama queen. I guess it’s not a huge jump from brooding to tortured. I just think that the Darcy Austen created would have been more cool-headed and thought things through before he jumped to conclusions. Also, the whole premise of the book is that Darcy’s horrible childhood is tormenting him and making him depressed. Since this was supposed to take place around 1815, I find this hard to believe. Freud didn’t come along for at least 50 years to make us look at our parents to blame them for everything wrong today. In 1815, people would have just said he was an ass without worrying about why. I’m just saying.
On the other hand, I really appreciated the fact that the author didn’t steal directly from Pride and Prejudice while writing her book. Yes, Mrs. Bennet’s nerves were referred to, but she didn’t run around quoting herself from P&P. Anytime a scene from P&P was referred to, it wasn’t blatantly in order to bring up to date the reader who hadn’t previously read P&P. It is assumed if you are reading this one, you’ve already read the original work. I hate it when authors feel they have to rehash the whole stinking book just in case you hadn’t read it.
So there you go. All in all, it was a pretty good book. No one can write like Jane Austen. She was so subtle and witty. I have yet to see anyone write that way. But this book maintains the integrity of the characters while presenting an interesting continuation of the story.