Jane’s Fame by Claire Harman

Okay, this is strange. The book I just finished doesn’t come up on my Amazon Reloaded page, so you’ll have to look it up for yourself. Sorry about that.

The book is called

    Jane’s Fame

by Claire Harman. Yes, it’s about Jane Austen. Go figure. The subtitle is “How Jane Austen conquered the world.”

I’m a sucker for a new take on the Austen angle, and here it is. This book looks at the rise and fall (and rise) of Jane Austen’s popularity throughout time. It starts with a short biography of her life and the success she knew before she died. Then, it discusses all the ways interest in her works has changed over the years and how it reflects contemporary society.

It was relatively short, so it didn’t have room to get old and repetitive. It also didn’t read like a dissertation.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My friend, Julie, recommended Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet to me. She read it recently and loved it. Now, I’m not usually a lover of World War II stuff. And actually, the war is sort of peripheral to the story. It doesn’t take place in the trenches or anything.

The story takes place in both 1942 and 1986. In 1942 a 12 year old Chinese kid at an all-white elementary school meets a Japanese girl and the become fast friends. Her family is evacuated during the internment the US government did with Japanese and German Americans during the war, in case they might be spies or terrorists, even though most of them were born here and only spoke English.

In 1986 that same boy, now a middle-aged man, is morning the loss of his wife to cancer, and remembering the Japanese girl because the things she left when she was evacuated have been recovered in the basement of an old hotel.

The copy on the jacket cover doesn’t really explain it very well, I didn’t think. I remember reading it and thinking it wouldn’t really excite me. But I did like the book quite a bit.

Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb

The latest in the Eve Dallas mystery series by J.D. Robb is Fantasy in Death. I really like this series because of the character development. Or perhaps the lack of. This series is reassuring. Comfort reading, despite the grisly details that are always included.

In this one, the head of a major up-and-coming video game design company is found decapitated in his apartment. He was such a great guy, according to everyone who knew him. Who would do such a thing? And how? considering he was locked in his apartment alone.

Eve does all her usual brooding and genius-type things. Roarke is handsome and snarky and madly in love with her. Peabody is sarcastic and the good cop to Eve’s bad cop. Just like I like it.

Library request list overload.

Once again, I got carried away with my library request list. I sat down with the last two issues of Bookmarks Magazine (Best Books Of 2009, November December 2009) and requested anything that looked even the least bit interesting. I brought two books home yesterday, four today, and there are 23 more on my request list.

This is why I have a book about Jane Austen and a book about the Civil War and a book about state mental hospitals all together on my books-from-the-library shelf.

It’s an illness.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

I finally got my copy of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter from the library the other day. Love the cover (be sure to look at the back). I pranced around with it at home for a while, to the consternation of my children (“Is that Abraham Lincoln?!”)

Last night, I was reading in bed next to Mike, when I got to page 89, at the bottom of which I said, “Oh, NO WAY!” Mike said, “No! No! Don’t ruin it for me!” I said, “Oh, did you want to read it?” He said, “Well, some day, yeah.”

Apparently some day meant as soon as he thought I was asleep (I wasn’t). He tiptoed past my side of the bed and snagged the book off my bedside table. He read up to page 89, at the bottom of which he said, “No Way!” and decided he had to go to sleep instead of finishing the book.

This morning, I had to run an errand. When I got back, Mike was propped up in bed reading MY book. I sat on the bed and looked at him while he read. “Oh, did you want this?” he said.

He did finally put the thing down, so I got a chance to read some more of it. I’m about 2/3 through it and it’s hilarious. It’s really six kinds of awesome.

March 22: Finished it last night! While Mike waited patiently. Then, he finished it.

So let’s recap the genius that is Seth Grahame-Smith. The book is written as a biography of Abraham Lincoln. So he had to write in the authoritative/biographer voice. But there are excerpts from Lincoln’s personal diaries written from age 12 on. So there’s another voice, Grahame-Smith had to use. Not to mention the excerpts from the autobiography that Lincoln himself wrote, depicting his vampire hunter days. It’s so awesome, you forget it’s fake.

But my absolute favorite parts are the pictures. Photographs that show vampires in various scenes, or Lincoln with his trusty vampire hunting axe. Vampires are identifiable by their dark glasses and parasols, to keep off the sun.

Mike and I both liked this one. Two thumbs up.