Monday, July 21, 2008

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

This novel is very similar to the previous one I blogged about, Silent in the Grave. As in Silent, And Only to Deceive centers on a young widow in the Victorian era who comes to believe that her husband was murdered. Lady Emily Ashton never really knew her husband, as he died in Africa several months after they were married. He was a great art collector, especially of Greek antiquities, and in an effort to know him better Emily develops an interest in and passion for art and literature (she reads The Iliad and takes ancient Greek lessons). Through her new art-world connections she begins to suspect that her husband was involved in something shady and with the help of her friends Cecile, Margaret and Ivy and of her love interest Colin Hargreaves, she gets to the bottom of the mystery. Was her husband really an art thief and involved in forgery? Or was he the victim of a forgery ring that spanned countries and classes? I really liked this mystery and I loved the art aspect of it. It stimulated my interest in Greek art and literature and I will definitely be reading the second book in the series, A Poisoned Season.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn

As this wonderful novel opens, Lady Julia Grey witnesses her husband's demise and becomes a young widow. After his death she is bound by the strictures of widowhood in the Victorian era and lives a quiet and undemanding life. Until she meets Nicholas Brisbane, a private inquiry agent who had been hired by her husband to investigate a series of death threats he received before he died. Convinced that her husband was murdered she hires Brisbane to help her discover the murderer. Of course Brisbane is a dark and mysterious man who she can't help but be attracted to. Misunderstandings and arguments ensue, making their relationship intriguing and infuriating for both of them. With the help of her large and eccentric family, Lady Julia navigates society and the disappointment of her marriage with wit, dignity and elegance. I really enjoyed this mystery/romance/historical novel and am already devouring the second book in the series. On a side note, I also very much enjoy Deanna Raybourn's blog. Check it out; it is just as satisfying as her novels.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Forgot to Post

I did finish a book last month. I read The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald for my genre study at work. We were concentrating on gentle fiction. The Bookshop is the story of Florence Green, a widow who lives in a small village on the north coast of England. She has no friends in town and is without children. Looking for some way to spend her time and talents she purchases an old building and opens a bookshop, the first ever in the village. She has opposition on many fronts and is not completely successful. This is a quiet and subtle read. The humor is very subdued and it is not really a "feel-good" book at all, but it works it's way under your skin and had me thinking about it for several days after I finished. I'm not sure I would recommend this to very many people because it isn't fast-paced or happy, but some readers may recognize its beauty.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Next Month's Pick

Alright girls, I found a book for next month. I would like to read Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd C. Douglas. If you guys have already read it, just let me know and I'll find another classic. Anyway, when are we going to discuss A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?

Monday, June 16, 2008

True Classic

I just finished reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I love love LOVE it! I loved this whole book from the first sentence to the last and I will read it at least 5 times more throughout my life. I loved the Nolan family and the Rommely girls. Her descriptions of the people hid nothing, all their faults were laid along side their virtues, but you loved them. Their faults seemed... sensible, somehow. Not like the novels with the heroines I wrote about whose only faults were an unawareness of their own beauty or a fiery but charming temper or a sensitive pride. I loved Katy in spite of her favoritism towards Neely. I loved Sissy in spite of her senselessness and deceptions. I loved everyone she laid bare in this novel. I loved how some periods of their lives were written in much detail and some skimmed over with just vague descriptions of what had passed. It was the perfect mix with all the desired information covered. I'll stop gushing now, but I must say I am looking forward to other classics much more than before.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Join Us

Niesa and I are going to resurrect the book club. We've decided to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith for our first discussion. If you'd like to join us we'd love to have you ! We don't have a date for the discussion yet, but I will post when I know. We've both already started the book and have found it to be quite sad, but I'm sure it will make for an interesting discussion.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What I'm Reading

I'm reading a few things right now. I started reading Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell after watching the PBS miniseries. I'm re-reading What Southern Women Know about Flirting. I'm trying to read the latest Elizabeth George mystery. And I'm working up the courage to read the violent and scary ending of a book called The Exception by Christian Jungersen, which is brilliant, but makes me too anxious.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2nd Childhood

I'm reading the Chronicles of Narnia after watching the second movie this weekend-so good! The books are really simple and short and I feel like I accomplish something because I can read it so quickly! I hope they are all as good as Prince Caspian!

Monday, May 5, 2008

What is Wrong With Me?

I have never before felt such a disinterest in reading. Every night after I get home from work I pick up a book hoping to relax and escape and end up being disenchanted and feeling like I am wasting time. This is not like me! Has anyone else gone through this horrible phase? Reading is my solace and my comfort - why isn't it working anymore?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

What a lovely book this is! It is one of my favorites. I watched the film a few weeks ago on Masterpiece Classic and loved it and decided to read the novel. I read this when I was a teenager and vaguely remembered it, but the film brought it all back to me. It is romantic, funny, passionate and wise. Lucy Honeychurch is a flawed and very believable heroine and her cousin, Charlotte Bartlett, is so complex and aggravating and fascinating. This is a short and near-perfect book.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

No Interest

I've lost interest in reading this week. Everything I pick up seems pointless and boring. Last night I was bereft so I walked over to my bookcase hoping that something would entice me. My eye fell upon a P.D. James mystery and I immediately knew that is what my heart wanted. I've been missing my British mysteries! So I started A Taste for Death last night and reading is a pleasure again.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Is this Realistic?

It seems the books I have been reading lately have a common element: what I call "the Helen of Troy" character. A woman of gifts, beauty and spunk. The further commonality that makes her a Helen is that not all men are attracted to her. Some hate her, some fear her, some are indifferent. But the men who are attracted to her are invariably powerful, intelligent, and charismatic. And they are not just attracted to her, they're practically obsessed with her. Is this pure fiction? Or is this a phenomenon that a simple, homely girl such as myself just can't equate to anything in my personal experience? I don't know. What do you guys think?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fantasy Land

At work, the next genre we're discussing (in May) is fantasy. So, I'm reading a few fantasy novels right now: Tithe by Holly Black, The Blue Girl by Charles De Lint and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Now, I am not normally a fantasy reader so this is a departure for me, but I'm really enjoying each novel and am glad that I'm forced to read different genres.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

This is a very funny, sweet and slightly sad tome on aging. I really enjoyed it. With essays on everything from body maintenance to apartment love to JFK, it is really endearing and amusing. Just don't read the final essay before going to bed. It is about death and was painful and terrifying to read. I couldn't sleep and when I did I had nightmares because it truly makes you think about death seriously. But it is mostly hilarious and entertaining and if death scares you just skip the final essay!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Something New

Well, good things can come even from a terrible gothic novel. At the end of my book there was an excerpt from a novel called Dead to the World. I read it and was interested. It turns out it was the fourth book in a vampire series by Charlaine Harris. I read an entire book yesterday. It is the strangest mix of genres I have ever seen. It's like sci-fi/romance/mystery. I had to look in like every section of the library until I finally found it in mystery. It's like the vampire part of it is more part of the setting than the main subject, which is really a mystery about women being murdered in a small Louisiana town. It's set in a world where vampires have "come out of the coffin" as they put it in the book and revealed their existence to the world because a synthetic blood has been invented so they no longer have to feed on humans (they still do, though). Anyway, interesting main character who is not a vampire, only telepathic, colorful characters throughout, AND they were written by a hugely fat Southern woman, and that just makes me feel good! It's called the Sookie Stackhouse series if you're interested. I think Niesa would really like them.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Sofie Metropolis by Tori Carrington

I read this mystery as part of the genre study we are doing at work. We had to read a type of mystery that we normally don't read. I never read P.I. novels and this one looked okay. Sofie Metropolis is from a large Greek family in Queens and has inadvertently started working for her Uncle Spyros' detective agency. She gets caught up in a mob-related, cheating spouse, murder case and in finding the missing dog of her mother's friend Mrs. K. The mystery really only takes up about 30% of this novel. The rest is concerned with Sofie's family and her love life. I enjoyed it, but I prefer more of a mystery and something a bit darker.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Finally Finished

I finished The Historian! It was pretty good. It was a bit anti-climactic. You read through like seven thousand pages of convoluted and overlapping plots for about 3 seconds worth of action and loose end tying and then POOF, it's over. Left me feeling unsatisfied. I am currently reading a blatantly bad Gothic novel called On the Edge of the Woods. It was the only book that came up when I typed in the word "Gothic" at my closest library. It reads like an R.L. Stine novel for young adults, but not as good. Ah well, it's the only thing I have to read at the moment so I will continue being amused when I'm not supposed to be until I can get something else from the library.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

It just keeps going and going and going...

I'm STILL reading The Historian. It's finally starting to move at a somewhat faster pace but I've just already put so much time into it that I've kind of lost interest. I think the style of this book creates problems. 1) How do you tell people the plot of your book when there's 3 different timelines going on? I've tried to describe this book unsuccessfully several times. 2) It's like Heroes: when you're trying to advance three different stories in flashes, it takes a LONG time to make any of them go anywhere. 3) I've been reading it so long with so little progress in the stories that I'm just done. I don't know if I'll ever finish it! I will. It might just take a while.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What Southern Women Know About Flirting by Ronda Rich

This is one of my favorite books dealing with charm. I've read it 3 times now and could probably read it again and learn something new. Ronda Rich is a Southern woman who exudes graciousness, charm and kindness. I am definitely NOT a natural flirt and some of her suggestions would be terribly hard for me to even try, but she makes them seem fun and easy. Hopefully, I can learn something from her advice and become a great social flirt. Her advice might be hard for modern women to swallow, but I believe she knows her stuff. She gives tons of examples of how flirting (with men AND women) led her to get better flights, hotel rooms and restaurant service. It would be worth your time, married or single, to read this book.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Day at the Ballpark

I spent the afternoon at Phoenix Municipal Stadium with my dad watching the Dodgers (see all the blue?) vs. White Sox. It was heavenly! I will aggressively root against the Dodgers when the season starts, but it was fun to see them in action today. Brad Penny pitched and Russell Martin, Andre Ethier, Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones all started the game and played nine innings. I just love the baseball atmosphere and had a great time today.

The Power of Charm

I read this short book by Brian Tracy and Ron Arden last night. According to the authors charm is a learned skill and they give tips on how to effectively communicate with anyone. The tips are sensible and definitely doable and don't advocate anything that would make you feel stupid or uncomfortable. I enjoyed this little gem and might even read it again.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Anbo, I read your blog about your love for Gothic novels and decided to give it a try. I read Thirteen Tales, and I really enjoyed it. It was a thoroughly engrossing read and it was vivid enough that imagining the people and settings came naturally without being so descriptive you forgot what was being described in the first place. The library didn't have Fingersmith, so I checked out Sarah Waters' Night Watch, which is most decidedly NOT Gothic, so I just stopped reading it. I have the Historian and plan to start reading it tonight. I'll let you know what I think.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's Almost Here!

Baseball season, that is. I am so excited I can hardly wait. Most of my reading lately has been fantasy baseball sites, doing research for Yahoo fantasy baseball. My draft will be next week, I believe. I must get good pitching this year or I am doomed. I know this is off-topic, but if there is a reason I'm not posting, this is it. Go D-backs!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

This one's for you Anbo :)

I'm actually posting! Read a book titled Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughn that I really liked. It's about a country at war and it's princess who studies medicine and treats the injured enemy prisoners. When her country is forced to surrender, she is claimed by the barbarian warlord that defeated them as the warprize. My description makes it sound like some cheesy romance and, of course, she and the warlord do fall in love but it was actually a really enjoyable read. I guess this is the first book in a series so I'll have to check the others out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

That Teenage Feeling

This week I've been pondering my reading history and realized with a shock and a bit of pride that I was a great reader as a teen. My teen years were when I embarked on the most ambitious and challenging reading of my life. I read more classics of fiction, history and philosophy than at any other time. Not even in college did I read so well. I truly educated myself and laid a great foundation for all the reading to come. Why can't I do that now? I think my avid curiosity still lives, but laziness has nearly completely taken over. In order to return to those great reading years, I've decided to watch less TV and spend less time on the Internet. I'm embarrassed by my lack of knowledge on many subjects and now is as good a time as any to remedy that situation.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Genre Study

At my library we're starting a genre study to help us learn more about different authors and genres we may not be familiar with. I'd like to extend the challenge to you! For April we'll be reading and studying mysteries. This is your chance to read something you've never explored before. I'll post more later on the sub-genres of mysteries and authors you may want to consider reading if you take the challenge.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Hanging Valley by Peter Robinson

The Hanging Valley is the fourth novel in the Chief Inspector Alan Banks series. Peter Robinson is one of my favorite mystery authors, but I find these early novels a bit plodding. And I can't help but miss the druggies, thieves and con-men of Rebus' Edinburgh. However, the country setting is a nice change. This particular mystery takes place in Swainsdale where a decomposing body has been found. The police suspect he is a hiker as he is found in the hanging valley where walkers frequently visit . Interrogating the townspeople leads them no where and it is only when a forensic odontologist is called in that they discover the victim is a college professor who lives in Toronto. The unique feature of The Hanging Valley is that Banks is permitted to go to Toronto to investigate for a short part of the novel. I don't know much about the city, but this novel makes it sound charming. Anyway, Banks learns that several people in Swainsdale have secrets and the professor knew them all. A bit of an unsatisfying ending, but in the end a good read.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Green Again

The brown was too blah. I think the original green is fresh and pretty.

Saturday, March 1, 2008


The library I work for is considering merging all of our genres into one large fiction section. We currently have them split into fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction and westerns. I personally like them separated, but I'm curious to see what others prefer. Please take my survey to the right and give me your opinion!

A Gothic Kind of Girl

I really dig gothic literature. I'm currently reading Fingersmith by Sarah Waters which is deliciously gothic. Wondering what gothic is? According to Wikipedia gothic novels contain elements of "terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, doubles, madness, secrets and hereditary curses". Sounds good, doesn't it? Recent gothic novels I've also enjoyed are The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield and The Historian (which I haven't quite finished yet) by Elizabeth Kostova.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is kind of random

Okay, this really doesn't have anything to do with books, but on Without a Trace they have a new detective. It's Spike from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show!
P.S. Anbo, whenever that happens to me I read super easy kid books, like the old John Bellairs series. Sometimes I just need something that is enjoyable and doesn't deal with heavy life issues. Or big words!

Kinda Bored

The past couple of days I've been bored by reading. Nothing is sparking my interest and everything I pick up is unsatisfying. Does anyone have any tricks to get out of this funk? Or do our brains just need a break from reading sometimes?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Try This Blog

If you are looking for a witty and knowledgeable read all about grammar and editing try Editrix. My friend Stacey writes this and though I don't know much about punctuation myself I've enjoyed reading her opinions.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Recent Reads

Wednesday's Child by Peter Robinson -- An engrossing, interesting mystery featuring Alan Banks, one of my favorite police detectives. A little girl is kidnapped and days later a man is found brutally murdered at an old mill. Are the cases connected? And can they stop the killer and find the girl before it is too late?

The Year of Fog by Michelle Richmond -- I had high hopes for this novel. The premise is intriguing. Emma disappears (I'm sensing a theme) on the beach in San Francisco while her father's girlfriend Abby is watching her. How does Abby cope with the guilt? The plot centers on Abby's search for Emma and her desperate need to remember what happened that day. Though it sounds irresistible, I found this novel to be mediocre. Abby is too whiny and needy and yuppie. The main character of this book is the city of San Francisco itself. The author's obvious love for the place sometimes overshadowed the progression of the plot.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson -- I really don't have the words to describe this novel. It in unlike anything I have ever read. Set in Fingerbone, a town in Idaho dominated by water, it traces the history of a unusual family of women. The water theme is oppressive and dominating and reading this felt like drowning.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Today I received Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett.

The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks

I normally don't like any science fiction type books, but this was more of an action-adventure novel with science fiction elements. Maya is a Harlequin, one of a group of trained warriors who protect Travelers. Travelers can leave their bodies and visit different realms. The Brethren want to kill the Travelers because they want a controlled society where everyone behaves because they are being watched all the time. It's believed that there are no Travelers left in the world until Michael and Gabriel Corrigan are discovered living in Los Angeles. The plot revolves around Maya's efforts to save them from the Brethren and protect herself from being killed. I thoroughly enjoyed the fast-paced adventure of this novel. The Big Brother elements are tinged with reality and make the plot believable. If you're looking for an absorbing novel that doesn't really have a lot of character development you should try this.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Interesting Blog Post

Today I read a blog post by novelist Susan Hill that addresses Sybil's concerns. It is here. Maybe this will help us understand a bit more about why authors choose to write about unhappiness and depravity.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What I (don't) Love About Books

I was thinking about this just today as I've had this particular problem with the last two books I've read. What is up with the uneven pages? I know it's supposed to be novel and old fashion-y looking, but it just makes the pages darn hard to turn! I read a P.D. James mystery novel a la Adam Dalgliesh. I love mystery novels and hers was pretty clean besides everyone being incestuous, gay, or a sexual pervert. At least she didn't really describe their activities in detail. I am currently reading a book called The Secret of Lost Things by Sheridan Hay. I don't know how I feel about it. Why is it that sexuality is such a pervasive theme? I've been thinking about this as I've been reading a lot and it seems every book mentions something if not many somethings about the sexuality of the characters. Which brings me to this question: Is sexuality a valid aspect of character development? Or is it just sensationalist fluff? As a woman who has recently had an infant ripped from my womb after many long, painful, and unsuccessful hours of labor and who currently has no interest in sex, it seems largely the latter. It just frustrates me that as human beings with pre-frontal cortexes (what is the plural for this word?) in the 21st century, we choose to dwell on and magnify something that does NOT separate us from the animals. And I think it is especially hypocritical in a world that tells us sexuality does not define a person. The argument could be that it is part of everyday life for the character, but so is peeing and pooping, and I do not see that included in many novels. Just some points for pondering. Hope this is not too risque for our little circle of readers, Anbo.

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Love Paperbacks

For some reason I only want to read paperbacks lately. I just love how you can squish them and fold them and how soft they are. I just can't read hardbacks right now and so have been scouring the book sale at the library every day for new paperbacks to buy. This limits my choices a bit, which is probably a good thing as I can't limit myself when it comes to reading. In honor of Valentine's Day tomorrow, what are you loving about books lately?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This has nothing to do with reading, but it reminds me of our fun (and cold) weekend and it is a pretty picture.


I received two books in the mail today. They are Bleak House by Charles Dickens and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Yay! Fobo has joined us. It will be fun to read more of her reviews. I love hearing her talk about books.


I recently read Deadline by Chris Crutcher. I really liked it. It dealt with some pretty heavy issues without being overly serious. I liked the main character as he was always trying to take care of others and spare them the knowledge of his death while having to pack everything he wanted to do into his Senior year of high school. I also liked how you never really felt sorry for him because he was so determined to make the most of the time he had left. It made me reevaluate how I think of people, even racists, bullies, and molesters, if you can believe it. A real tear jerker.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Masterpiece Classic Update

I realized that I've never given my thoughts on Northanger Abbey or Mansfield Park on Masterpiece Classic. Well... I liked them both. Much, MUCH better than Persuasion. I know most people don't like Northanger Abbey, but I enjoy it. It was the first novel that Jane wrote and was published after her death. It is light-hearted and buoyant in a way her other novels aren't.
Mansfield Park, along with Emma, are my two least favorite Austens, but I always like Mansfield Park better on film. The actress who played Fanny was not exactly my idea of the character, but she ended up doing a fabulous job.
Now this Sunday we're on to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice that made every woman in the world fall in love with Colin Firth.

Monday, February 4, 2008

No More Reviews

I've decided I'm not going to call my thoughts about books "reviews" any longer. Because they aren't really reviews. I am in no way a critic. I was an English major, but those days are very much over. I don't really like looking at a book in a purely critical manner. So I'm just going to give you my impressions of books I've read, which is what I've been doing anyway.

Review: Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield

How I loved this book! Rob Sheffield is a music journalist who works for Rolling Stone. In his early twenties he was a grad student in Virginia when he met and fell for Renee, who shares his love of music. Renee sounds like an awesome woman, the kind we all want for our best friend. She loves life, people, music and, I was thrilled to read, baseball. Their relationship quickly progresses and they marry. They are together for five years when Renee suddenly dies and Rob is left a widower (a word he doesn't like). A major theme of their relationship is their love of music and the mix tapes they make for each other. Most of the music mentioned is from the early 90's when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Rob's opinions of various bands and artists from this era are hilarious -- I nearly peed my pants laughing several times while reading this. This is a bittersweet and tragic tale of love and music and life told in a funny, thoughtful, endearing, and yes, truly romantic way. It is a perfect read for Valentine's Day and might inspire you to make a mix tape for your honey (although jewelry and chocolate are nice, too).

Blue Was Bugging

Okay, I changed it again. I kind of like the blah brown.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Better in Blue

It was time for a change and I think this blue looks great. I hope you don't mind -- what do you think of it?

Recently Read

You might have guessed that I don't review every book I've read, mostly because I don't feel like it. So here are a couple of books I've read recently that were very good, but did not inspire a review:

The House at Riverton
by Kate Morton

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Friday, February 1, 2008

Genres I Despise

I don't have much to write this week, but I can tell you that I hate Christian fiction, romances, most chick lit, best sellers, cozy mysteries and books where women "bond". Although, as in most things, there are always exceptions.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pick of the Week

This week I recommend On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. I didn't review it, but it is fantastic and you should read it.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Today I received a book in the mail that I mooched, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I want to read this because Masterpiece Classic is going to show it in May, I think, and I'd like to see if the film lives up to the book.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Today's Purchases

Today I purchased four books from the Friends of the Library book sale.
1. Black Water by Kerstin Ekman
2. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
3. Cloudsplitter by Russell Banks
4. The Paris Review Book of ........

I can never resist the paperback sale cart at the library, even though I work there and could probably check all of these out and not have to spend a dime. But there is something about owning books that is very alluring.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Review: The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller

This novel is about sex. No, really, it is. It certainly isn't erotic or even very arousing, but there is A LOT of sex in this book and, in fact, the strange and unexpected ending revolves around a wife walking in on a sexual scene involving her disabled, elderly, long-estranged husband.
I love Sue Miller because she writes about real people and their inner lives and relationships. Everything is mundane, everyday, normal -- on the surface. But she digs deeper and reveals the bizarre workings of her character's minds and thoughts and how that affects their, in this case, marriages, and of course the sexual aspect of marriage.
Meri and Nathan are a newly married couple who have recently moved to the East Coast, where Nathan has secured a job as a professor. Their next door neighbor is Delia, the 70-ish wife of a former senator. The novel gives parallel accounts of the two marriages and how adultery, pregnancy and children shape and define the physical and emotional bonds between husband and wife. The star of the book is Delia who is a complex and fascinating character. I was engrossed from the beginning and experienced a variety of emotions while reading this novel: amusement, revulsion, outrage. In the end I applaud it as a fabulous character study and a very satisfying read.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is being hailed as the latest DaVinci Code-like novel to take readers by storm. It is 1996 and Hanna Heath, a rare-book conservator, has been commissioned to work on the Sarajevo Haggadah. A haggadah is a manuscript that is used at Passover to tell the story of the Exodus. The Sarajevo Haggadah is illuminated, which is rare, as Jews did not normally use likenesses in these manuscripts. The haggadah has recently been discovered again after disappearing from the national library during the Bosnian war. It was saved by a librarian, Ozren, who risked his life to spirit it out of the library during intense shelling. Hanna, a fiercely independent Australian, arrives in Sarajevo and spends a week documenting and conserving the haggadah before it is to be placed in a special exhibit at the museum. During her work, she discovers three items inside the book that she hopes will help her to discover its origin: a butterfly wing, a drop of salt water, and a single white hair. The remainder of the novel goes back and forth in time as we learn about the people who not only created the book, but who saved it. These tales are interspersed with the modern tale of Hanna discovering who her father is and her disintegrating relationship with her mother. I truly enjoyed this novel and think it is far superior to The DaVinci Code. It is not action-packed, nor very suspenseful, but as the title suggests, it is about people. Each small section of the historical record is compelling and riveting and made me want to know more about the characters and their fates. I heartily recommend it.


I finally watched the new version of Persuasion that aired on Masterpiece Classic and I have to say... it isn't very good. The acting was blah, the story was too rushed and the romance and sense of anticipation that you feel while reading the novel was extremely lacking. I was a bit disappointed. I hope Northanger Abbey turns out better. On a side note: I kept staring at Mr. Elliot and desperately racking my brains to figure out where I had seen him before. It finally came to me -- he was Giles from Buffy!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Jane Austen Bumped

The new Masterpiece Classic series began on PBS on Sunday evening with a showing of Persuasion. I've Tivo'd it, but I'm not sure when I can get to it as I am thoroughly engrossed in the Australian Open this week. This is one of my favorite tennis tournaments if only because it is on in the evenings --it being the next day in Australia --and I can watch tons of matches. So, I probably won't find time to watch Persuasion until this weekend. And Sunday, I will Tivo Northanger Abbey. So exciting! I love having things to look forward to.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Because I've been sick for over a week now and was feeling crummy and irritated yesterday, I decided to go to Barnes & Noble and buy some classic novels I've been wanting to read. I picked up Emma by Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, Middlemarch by George Eliot and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. They are all very pretty and smell like heaven. I love new books -- why don't I buy them more often?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Review: Party of the Century by Deborah Davis

I read Party of the Century while I was sick in bed over last weekend. I heard about it on an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Ina Garten had the author, Deborah Davis, for dinner and prepared a meal that included chicken hash, which is what was served at Truman Capote's famous Black & White ball held in November 1966. I enjoyed reading about the preparations for the ball and about Capote's relationship with his "swans" -- several beautiful, rich women whom he socialized with, including Babe Paley, Gloria Guiness and C.Z. Guest. This is a nice, fluffy read that gives an insight into high society in the 60's and how Capote helped usher in the new era of "publi-ciety". I'd recommend this for a day spent bundled up with the flu or for a flight.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2008! Does anyone have any reading goals for this new year? I haven't really formulated any yet except that I'd like to read more classics, especially Victorian fiction, and I'd also like to read all of the Adam Dagliesh novels by P D James. Other than that, I've discovered I just like to see where life takes me in my reading adventures. It is hard for me to commit to reading challenges because my moods and tastes vary daily, if not hourly. I definitely want to read MORE this year and more quality books. I feel that 2007 wasn't my best reading year -- I was too ambitious and it made me crabby when I didn't fulfill my goals. I hope everyone has a fantastic year of reading ahead!