Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The book follows several storylines--politics of that era (late 1880s), Russian spies, English intelligence agents, some other people and a "romance" between Damien and Emma.
The book is seen through from Emma Wyncliffe's eyes. She is a headstrong spinister (insert conventional headstrong spinster stereotypes here) who is coerced into a marriage with Damien Granville--a landowner in Kashmir. Why didn't I like this couple? Well, in their first meeting, Damien tells Emma that he supports physical punishment for cheating wives--and in India, it's a pretty rough punishment. In their second meeting, he slaps her. Um, that sort of action is NEVER acceptable. I don't care if he was angry; it was absolutely wrong.
It's not like Damien spouted off support of wifely abuse, but his actions somewhat supported it. (Rebecca Ryman is a pseudonym for someone who was raised in and lived in India [but isn't Indian? Her bio didn't say.]. So I wonder if her heritage or religion had anything to do with presenting Damien in this manner--and Emma, for that matter. Emma was upset, etc., but didn't condemn Damien for his treatment of her.)
Basically, the convenient marriage romance--which I normally like--didn't work for me. The espionage parts of the book (and there were plenty) sometimes confused and bored me. At the end, the storylines do come together nicely, if somewhat unbelievably and suddenly (for example, the identity of the random Armenian slave girl that all sorts of people are looking for).
So...overall, it honestly wasn't a bad read, just not engrossing and with a shoddy romance--but I would not re-read it, that's for sure!
Monday, July 28, 2008
I couldn't find a better photo of him; most of them involve him in some weird gymnastic position. Jordan is 35 and will retire after this Olympics--he's been in six Olympics. I'm impressed.
Doesn't it look like an excellent summer read? As the cover states, it's a summer vacation story featuring four sisters, their neighbor, a dog, a teenage gardner and two bunnies.
If I had children, I would make them read this book. It follows a familiar story: an unhappy, lonely boy finds adventure/happiness/courage because of the friendship of four sisters. Jeanne Birdsall does a great job of making the four Penderwick sisters unique. It was funny, cute and evokes a child's summer perfectly.
The book is Birdsall's first novel but it won 10 awards (very impressive!). Her second book is The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
One aspect that I definitely noticed about the book is that it's very of its era--the 1970s. There were references to "the fuzz," hippies, beads, the rebellious youth, etc.
The setting is Rome: seven students at an art and archeology school are living up their time abroad. Jean, the main character, literally runs into librarian Jacqueline Kirby. Jean and her fellow students rather adopt Jacqueline--a mother in her mid-40s--because she's witty, intelligent and has great legs.
The group is rather forced into a murder mystery with Jacqueline surreptitiously taking the lead. An interesting story follows.
I think it's one of Peters' earlier works and it lacks the strength of some of her later writing. Still, it's a fun summer read that made me want to go abroad.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Up first was Death in Kenya by M.M. Kaye. It's not my favorite--too dark and not enough romance. So I'll probably never re-read it again. I had forgotten a lot of the story but my memory is now refreshed.
Now I'm reading The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, which is one of the first books I remember Amazon recommending for me, back in January 2005. Ah, yes, that's when our love affair began, didn't it Amazon?
Anyway, it's a delightful book that sort of plays off of the Scarlet Pimpernel (another book I love). So it's always a good re-read.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The major theme for this novel is East vs. West and how one English woman finds herself torn between two cultures: Victorian England and India. In the first book, Mariana (the English woman) accidentially-kind-of marries Hassan, an Indian man, because there's several prophecies about her watching over Hassan's son. (Hassan is a widower.) There's almost a lot about the civil unrest in India and plots about who is going to be the next ruler.
Anyway, Mariana just leaves Hassan and they don't have a marriage (as they never consumated it). Fast forward TWO YEARS for book two and oh, it's time for their first interaction. Did I mention that Mariana has had Hassan's son with her the entire time? Bad daddy, indeed.Mariana waffles over whether she wants a divorce or not, blah blah blah. She ends up sleeping with Hassan and spending some time with his family--but then again, at the end of the book, she leaves for freakin' Afghanastan. (I don't even remember whether Hassan's son is with her or not.) Evidently in book three, after more civil unrest and trouble, they hook up again. Or something.
The main issue I had is this: a true English woman--especially one like Mariana, who frequently breaks proper etiquette and basic social rules for a lady of her era--would never be content in an Indian home. The ladies of the home--at least in this book--were sequestered in the upstairs. They only interacted with other ladies and their husbands. It reminded me a lot of Muslim women today.
There is no way that Mariana would ever settle into that type of life. In the book, she can't even handle a few days in the room and escapes to do various things. Yet, through out the book, we are expected to believe she should be with Hassan and would be happy in that life. Hassan expects her to act like a normal Indian woman, too--he never bends his ideals--and gets angry when she doesn't. I just can't believe they would be happy together.
I don't I'm going to read book three. If I see it at my local Borders, I'll read the ending but I don't want to waste my energy on something I can't swallow.
On a positive note, Ali really captures Indian life well! She certainly has done her research.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I stumbled across The Sugar Queen randomly on Amazon and decided to give it a try.
I must admit, the absolutely gorgeous cover drew me in. Isn't it so pretty and magical? Anyway, the story is about Josey, who at 27, lives with her really old mom and does everything her mother tells her to do. It actually reminds me of Valancy and The Blue Castle.
One day, Josey opens her closet door--her secret closet, where she hides oodles of sweets and romance novels from her mother--and there sits Della Lee. Della Lee refuses to leave Josey's closet. That's where Josey's new life begins.
Can I make it any clearer? This is a really sweet, cute book. I liked Allen's style of writing so much that I will read all of her books. All of her books feature "love and magic." I know her Garden Spells was a huge hit, so I'm going to read that, too.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
It wasn't exactly what I expected; like with Frankenstein, the character has been so dramatized and changed from the original that your expectations get twisted. Anyway, the basic story is guy gets sent to Count Dracula's castle for business; freaky business ensues. Guy comes home, Dracula follows, a girl becomes a vampire. The guy, the guy's wife, a doctor, a professor, the girl's fiancé and a cowboy from Texas (SO random!) decide that Dracula must die.
It's a suspenseful story, albeit a bit unbelieveable at times...but it's about vampires so why would I expect true realism? One aspect that did surprise me was the gore. A girl (her name is Lucy--sorry if that just ruined the whole book for you; but then again, if you are reading it and didn't know she was becoming a vampire, well, I have no words left for you) who became a vampire had to have her head chopped off! Wow.
One aspect I really liked is how the main girl (Mina, not Lucy-vampire-girl) was portrayed as so intelligent. How refreshing to have a smart girl in a pre-1900 book!
I'm sure a lot has been said about this book and I don't have anything new to really add. I'll just have a better appreciation for Breaking Dawn now.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I haven't finished it yet and I'm not sure I will...I hate coming into a series blind. So we'll see.
Peters has really developed the relationship between Vicky and John Smythe (actually John Tregarth, as we learn). It's believable and satisfying. Also, this book was very romantic--not that it involved a lot of lust/sighing/sex, but in that the characters were willing to sacrifice their safety and their own needs for the other person. That is love--placing someone else's needs above your own.
Monday, July 14, 2008
As you can tell by the cover, it is an EPIC novel, published in the 1980s. The story follows Laura Hewitt, an English spinster, who accompanies her cousin Emily (and Emily's husband, Charles, who Laura secretly loves) to India.
The three meet up with Oliver Erskine, Charles' half-brother who has lived his whole life in India. He is a "zemindar"--a hereditary ruler of a vast parcel of land. Laura and Oliver connect...and maybe fall in love.
The story takes place in 1857, right during the time of the Indian Sepoy Mutiny. Fitzgerald's attention to history is amazing. You experience the mutiny and suffer with the characters through a siege...which may be why this book is almost 800 pages long.
Anyway, nice historical read about India--I recommend it, if you're in the mood for an epic story.
For example, after watching the movie Gone With The Wind, I was so upset at the ending (will Scarlett and Rhett end up together?!?!) that I dreamt all night about the movie and created my own happy ending (they did!!!).
I knew going into Veronica Mars that there probably wouldn't be a lot of closure--after all, the producers/writers were hoping for a fourth season. And I was right. Veronica and her love interest Logan didn't end up together--although they did share "a look" before the show ended. But you know what's wonderful about watching TV on DVD? Writers' interviews!!!
An interview with creator/writer Rob Thomas reveals that the writers intended to keep those two together and had they fully known that the episode would have been for sure the last one, it may have ended with more closure. That made me happy (and able to sleep). See, writers and authors, closure is a beautiful thing.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Today is my local library's booksale--I am excited! Yay for cheap books! I'll let you know what I pick up.
Lastly, and this is sad, I only have three discs left in the last season of Veronica Mars. In case you haven't figured this out, I really like this show. The ending of that series will be a sad day for me. I'll probably need a bowl of my Ben and Jerry's Phish Food--or a Coca-Cola. Both are excellent comforters. Good thing Burn Notice just started up again...and Psych starts next week. I will need distractions for my sorrow.
Monday, July 7, 2008
In other news, I'm not sure what's going on with me, but I haven't been able to really get into a book for the last week or so. I started two books and realized I didn't care at all about either story.
One such book was Chosen by Ted Dekker. I kept on feeling really out of the loop while reading it and couldn't understand why. It was bizarre; the characters would make reference to people and backstories without a lot of detail. Then I realized while Chosen was actually the first book in its particular series, it's actually part of "The Circle Trilogy." So I was legitimately confused! Yay for me.
So I ended up reading Touch Not the Cat (by Mary Stewart) and being fully satisfied. While prowling Goodwill, I found Madeline Brent's Merlin's Keep. (I love used bookstores and Goodwills for this very reason--cheap books!)
I like how Brent features Asia in his works--this novel was partially set in Tibet. The story follows an orphaned girl who was raised in Tibet but ends up in England. The story, while different from Moonraker's Bride, certainly has some similarities. However, Merlin's Keep had a lot of omens/superstition in the book, which I didn't like--some of it bordering on demonic activity.
Now what shall I start next?
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
One summer it was Elinor Lipman (amazing writer!). One spring/summer it was Georgette Heyer. This past year or so I've read most, if not all, of Helen Fielding, Mary Stewart, M. M. Kaye and Stephenie Meyer's works.
This is definitely an Elizabeth Peters summer. I've realized I don't like her writing as Barbara Michaels, but really, really like her EP novels.
The Camelot Caper was her latest work I read. It features John Smythe from the Vicky Bliss series--but this one actually was written first. To be honest, Smythe or "Cousin John" in this book, stole the book. He upstaged the hero, even though he was one of the bad guys. I can see why Peters liked him so much that she brought him into another series. Camelot features art thievery, romance and plenty of action. It's definitely fun summer reading.
Anyway, this is the perfect time for me to devour all of Peters' books, especially her Vicky Bliss series, as there's a new Vicky Bliss book out this summer (the first one in a decade!). From what the publisher has said, it's the last one, too. The Laughter of Dead Kings will be out August 26, published by Harper Collins.