Thursday, January 31, 2008
Here's the plot summary from Wikipedia: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe follows the fortunes of Emily St. Aubert who suffers, among other misadventures, the death of her father, supernatural terrors in a gloomy castle, and the machinations of an Italian brigand. It is often cited as the archetypal Gothic novel.
Here's the main things that happen:
-Emily looks at the scenery
-Emily almost faints
-Emily cries some more
-Emily writes poetry
-Emily gets scared
Okay, so I'm making fun of this book, but it really wasn't that bad, once I got beyond the first 200 pages (the book had 632 pages in teeny tiny print). It was dramatic and I may have muttered "you have GOT to be kidding me" and "oh my word" and "pirates? oh yes, of course, pirates" a few times to myself.
I felt as if I had to finish it because This Rough Magic mentioned it, the fun "Northanger Abbey" Masterpiece Theater made fun of it, and two other random books that I picked up and skimmed a few pages all happened to mention this book. I felt as if it was DESTINY for me to finish it.
I was only confused about one thing: I had heard before I read the book that Count Ugo was such a bad guy, etc., etc. But he was barely in the book. I didn't understand it all, but oh well, her step-uncle makes up for it!
Anyway, earlier I declared it to be the most dramatic book ever, and just as proof, here's a few of the key plot elements that happened in the last 200 pages or so:
-Girl is FINALLY reunited with her lover, but oh wait, he's now a depraved rake with a gambling problem and a mistress
-Oh wait, he's not---now they can get married!
The book is a 18th century soap opera and the main character cries/faints waaaaaay too much but I'm glad I forced myself to read it.
Psssst....you want to read it, too? Download it for free here--but you're crazy if you want to read this entire book on the computer.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Yeah, it's not. It should be called Emily Weeps: A Story of Emily's Fainting Fits and Melancholy Spells. The heroine, Emily, has literally cried/wept/had a tear fall from her cheek/faint 200 times. Wow. And I'm still not sure why it's a gothic masterpiece yet. Here's hoping I figure that out soon!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
PBS will be showing a Jane Austen masterpiece every Sunday through April. Check it out!
But in the meantime I wanted something light and wonderful. I turned to Mary Stewart's This Rough Magic, which fit the bill perfectly.
What a fun cover! Mine was the paperback version from HarperCollins, which I'm a bit disgusted with, because it's already falling apart. I'm not that rough of a reader, either.
Anyway, there's a great connection to Shakespeare's The Tempest. I love the romance between Lucy and Max, too! Stewart always blends great heroines, mystery, romance and just great writing and description. I discovered her last year and went through most of her books in a few months. Now I'm on to re-reading them!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
I love this cover! It's actually from Amazon's UK site, which is a shame, because I'd proudly parade out with this cover.
Amazon's editorial review sums this book up perfectly: Originally published nearly 40 years ago, this gothic classic has been frightening, romancing, and winning fans ever since. Part Jane Eyre, part Rebecca and all good, clean, campy fun, Mistress of Mellyn will keep you tearing through the pages, and looking for copies to lend out to friends.
Martha Leigh is an impoverished gentry lady, who must take up work. She takes a post as a governess at Mellyn, caring for widowed Connan TreMellyn's little girl, Alvean. What I love about this book is the plot: it's not soley focused on the mystery of what happened to Connan's wife, Alice; it's also focused on Martha's daily life and her interactions with various secondary characters.
The Mistress of Mellyn even reminded me a little of Mary Stewart, which is a high compliment! But the highest compliment I could pay is the fact that I woke up this morning thinking, "ooh, time to finish Victoria Holt's book." And then I was sad when I realized I had finished it last night.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
With the help of this book, I've realized something very important: I don't like books written between 1900-1920. I hate the slang, the style of writing and yeah, I've hated every book that I've read from that time period. P.G. Wodehouse, I'm sorry, the one book of yours that I tried to read (written in the '20s, I believe) was even more annoying than this one.
Take a look at that cover. Would you like to meet this girl? I wouldn't---she seems annoying, all about Nature (that's nature with a capital N) and moths. Yes, moths fill this girl's every thought. Good thing Elnora (that's her annoying name) meets a guy who feels the same way! Oh, no, wait, he's engaged. Oh whew, he breaks it off because Elnora is PERFECT and wouldn't break off their engagement at a dance like that other tramp did.
Yeah, this book was all about moths and how perfect the main character, Elnora, is. Her hardship is that her mom doesn't love her and that they're poor, yadda, yadda, yadda, oh wait, her mom actually does love her, they're not poor (which the mom never realized BECAUSE SHE NEVER ASKED FOR HER BANK BALANCE---omg), and if Elnora catches butterflies, caterpillars and freaking MOTHS, she can buy nice clothes and the friendship of her peers. Oh, and yes, everyone loves Elnora because she's PERFECT. I can't stand perfect heroines. And I'm just not into nature. Some of L.M. Montgomery's books even go a little over the top on nature descriptions, but I can handle those because she's such a beautiful writer.
Suffice it to say that the only reason I finished this book is to see what the plot was, because I had no idea where the book was going. Her "hardship" (being poor) was solved in the first few chapters. I should've quit there. Take my advice and don't start this book (unless you're into moths and all that crap).
Thursday, January 17, 2008
It's a different style than I normally read, that's true, but I just couldn't get into the story. And I'm not really sure why. The characters were all distinct and realistic. The plot was interesting and the diary form wasn't distracting in the least. I like YA, so that wasn't an issue.
So I've been thinking and have come to a decision: there are some books that I would read and some that I wouldn't re-read. This is one that I wouldn't re-read. I think I may start labeling books as a "re-read" (as in I'd re-read it) and "possibly re-read." If I don't put "re-read" on it, I won't re-read it. I'm going to go label my other posts now, too, if I like them enough.
Let's be clear here; I like to re-read books. The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery? I've read it seven or eight times. Pride and Prejudice, The Cheney Duvall series, Dani Ross mysteries, Georgette Heyer's books and literally, hundreds more. So when I give a book a "re-read status," that means I enjoyed it and that it's enjoyable enough to savor more than once.
Anyway, Shannon Hale's book was fine, but just wasn't for me.
Rating: 7/10 (because really it was a good book, even if I didn't like it)
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Yup, Christie got me. I thought it was a well written and put together mystery---she throws in quite a few twists. Add in a bit of romance and wit and it's a classic! The plot is semi-complicated, probably more so because I just want to go to bed, so let's just leave it as a nice stand-alone mystery.
Monday, January 14, 2008
The book follows Nicholas Darrow, who is Jonathan Darrow's son (see Howatch's Starbridge series). Like Jonathan, Nicholas is blessed with what Howatch calls "psychic" powers, which are basically the more charismatic gifts of the Spirit. Anyway, the book has five main sections, all from a different character's point of view, but it begins and ends with the same character. Nicholas is basically on a downward spiral, moving from a God-centered spiritual healer to a "wonder worker," which is a selfish abuser of the gift God's given him. Yet, will he be rescued?
I really like Howatch, but I had several theological issues with the book, which prevented me from enjoying it more. She tends to ascribe too much to psychological issues and brushes off true demonic and spiritual activity.
Also, the ending tied up way too nicely for two certain characters. Don't get me wrong; it's the ending I wanted, but still...it seemed a bit premature.
On a positive note, one of the saddest parts of Scandalous Risks was the utter lack of hope for Venetia Flaxton....but this book brings her back---and her ending sounds happy! I really appreciated that Howatch did that. Even one of her own characters in Absolute Truths lamented Venetia's fate and I felt exactly the same way. So, basically, read the Starbridge series first.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
I finished it in one reading, which isn't all that common for me anymore. (I think the last one I read in one sitting was Twilight, which I did just read this fall....that book was definitely a 10!) Silent in the Grave opens with Lady Julia Grey watching her husband die. Over the next year and a half, her world is upset as she discovers the truth about his death and life, with the help of private investigator Nicholas Brisbane.
I really liked the biting interactions between Julia and Nicholas. One of my favorite scenes is when Nicholas has had a bit too much absinthe to drink...ah, good times. This is the first in a series, so the romance isn't over the top yet, but I'm eagerly looking forward to the second book, which, lucky for me, just came out this month.
And on a last note, this book was published under MIRA Books, which is a subset of Harlequin. I was surprised to read that, so I checked out MIRA's other publications and none even look remotely similiar to Raybourn's book. Seriously, does that cover even make you think the book has anything to do with Harlequin? Anyway, forget about who published it, and just enjoy!
Saturday, January 12, 2008
I haven't read the books but I thought the TV show looked interesting/trashy. In the end, I decided not to watch the show but I can live vicariously through New York Magazine. NYMag.com's detailed coverage of each Gossip Girl episode is hilarious. But I adore NY Mag's detailed coverage of it. The writing is funny--I actually laugh out loud--and I feel as if I'm watching the show, just via reading about it. I'm so sad that Gossip Girl is going off air until next year (booo, writer's strike!), but at least Psych began last night!
Rating: 10/10 (for both Gossip Girl and Psych!)
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
But then take a closer look....
How freaky are those eyes?!?!?! I didn't realize a real person's eyes were in the mask before I really took a close look at the cover. Then I was freaked out and couldn't handle looking at the cover.
Masquerade follows Blue Bloods, which I actually think I liked a bit better. The books are about a group of people known as the "Blue Bloods" aka vampires. I like De La Cruz's take on vampires and all that...I think the books will appeal to those who like Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. However, the action was a bit slower in this book and there's quite a bit of mystery about who's a "Silver Blood" aka the bad vampires and who various characters are actually in love with and such. The beginning didn't really hook me, but by the end I was involved. So if you can handle creepy eyes, give it a try.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
I enjoyed it. It features Francesca, an English maiden who goes to live with her Italian relatives after being orphaned. There a plot similarity to The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I adore, so I liked that part. More romance would've been nice, but the snappy dialogue was definitely enjoyable.
**Plot spoiler: It bothered me a bit that Francesca saw her as in love with the wrong cousin a vast majority of the book--up until the last few pages. Anyone else have that same issue?**
Still, I think I'm going to try more of her works. Hopefully more love will be in the air.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Mmmm, I can't resist a fun cover like this. Romance! A man in some sort of naval uniform! Mystery! Gold lamé!
The book is part of Kaye's six (or seven?) part series of "Death in..." books. They read quite similar to some of Mary Stewart's works, featuring a girl who must solve a mystery and finds love at the same time. Death in the Andamans had a very...creepy feel to it. Seriously, the atmosphere just seeps out of this book.
The plot is set right before WWII and a group of houseguests get stranded on a little island in the Andamans. A few murders, tropical storms and mysterious happenings later and you've got a good book. This story features Copper Randal (who I always want to call Cooper), who is visiting her friend Valerie.
I personally like Death in Kashmir best, but all Kaye's books are great---they just have that certain 1950s flavor to them. All six (or seven? I really think it's just six, though) were recently republished. Check 'em out!
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Cold Comfort Farm is a satiric poke at many typical novels of its era.
Recently orphaned Flora goes to live on Cold Comfort Farm and brilliantly manipulates everyone. I recently watched the movie version and it was hilarious, too---and starred Kate Beckingsdale and Rufus Sewell. He made a sweltering Seth.
Total Rating: 9/10