Books, Recountings

recountings: the cover is pretty though

Some books and I get on very nicely; if they were a person, we could have tea and crumpets and bemoan the weather together quite cheerfully. I didn’t like Wintersong. There will be no tea and crumpets.

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Liesl likes to compose but her dreams in that direction are fading. But then her sister gets nabbed by the Goblin King and Liesl must save her. She does so, but runs smack into Angst! True love! (And dishes of eyeballs.)

SOME POSITIVES

  • Jae-Jones is a talented writer and can turn a phrase quite nicely.
  • The front cover is excessively pretty.
  • I liked the feel of the book. The font was a nice size and the spine was lovely and soft, but not too soft.
  • The ending, Liesl was able to take a stand as her own person. Huzzah for character growth.

LIESL NEEDS VALIDATION

Whether it be from her family, or the Goblin King himself, Liesl looks to others for validation; for her worth.

Yes, in the end, Liesl is able to walk away …

Elisabeth, entire.

… which is brilliant, but the path to her arriving at such a conclusion was fraught with looking to others to validate her worth. I thought this to be odd. For you see, it’s really best not to look to others in order to best view ourselves.

Like, no. Find your own mirror.

THE SETTING WAS NOT MINE SCENE

I didn’t like the Underground. The very idea of being stuck underground is an awful, no good thought. If there was a choice of: ‘would you like to go to the Underground Kingdom which is full of ILLUSIONS!!! And goblins and dishes that look nice but are actually eyeballs and lots of gothic weird and wonderful things OR paint a country house in the shade of eggshell from top to bottom’ I would choose the country house.

(I hate painting. And country homes are huge. And their ceilings are massive and, being no Michelangelo, I loathe painting ceilings. I’d still chose it though. Every time.)

THE ROMANTICLE ROMANCE

The Terrible Sorrow, Pain, and Heart-Wrenching Love that Surpassed All Others was ‘meh’.

I’m sorry. I didn’t get it; I did in that I understood the plot, but my emotions were never invested or in danger of sending streaming rivers from my teary ducks.

WRONGLY FILED

Look, unless YA fiction has greatly changed whilst I wasn’t looking (which is possible. I look away for long periods of time), I think this book is in the wrong category/genre. There are scenes that shouldn’t be classed as Young Adult. New Adult – yes. Mills and Boon – that too. But Young Adult? No. Nope. IS THERE NO INNOCENCE LEFT IN THIS WORLD?

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THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE CAST

… were selfish and horrible and unlikable. The sister. The brother. The parents. All of ‘em. Apart from the Goblin King. Maybe. I can’t remember – I was going to reread this book, just to make sure but after deep thought and momentary reflection, I decided … nah. Life is too short.

TO CONCLUDE

If you’ve read Wintersong and enjoyed it … than that’s wonderful. I’m pleased for you. But as for me? No. I didn’t like it. And that’s okay too. It’s good to have differences of opinion and books you don’t like. If we all liked the same thing, why, the world would be an astoundingly boring place.

In the future, if I ever feel the pressing urge to read about goblins, I shall pick up The Hollow Kingdom.

But take a character I didn’t much like, pop her in a setting that depressed me, add in a huge dollop of romance that felt more ‘meh’ than a cardboard sandwich, and we find ourselves with a book that simply wasn’t my cup of tea.

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Thank you and goodnight.

Books, Recountings

recountings: georgette heyer and how to run a drug cartel

I’ve been reading a steady stream of factual books. This is shocking, for my reading habits generally are ‘fiction with a sparse, tiny, weeny smattering of factual’.

But no. Not this month. Nor last month. I’ve been reading books and they’ve all been off my factual shelf.

(Quite literally. I have a shelf dedicated to factual books. It’s at eye level. I haven’t necessarily read them all, but they do make me feel intelligent.)

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Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller

by Jennifer Kloester.

I wouldn’t say that I loved this book – I’ve even removed a star, for I like to re-award stars after a little thought marination.

I liked to learn of Georgette’s personal life because I’m a stalker even though what I read was a tad depressing.

Why I Didn’t Love This Biography:

  • There was a heavy focus on bills, and the need to pay them. Georgette was the family bread-winner and she had to write to keep her family’s head above water. It was a little depressing to be constantly reading about them – and it must have been even more so to have this heavy burden.
  • Her letters were one-sided. We only really read her letters to people and though I love the woman’s work, constantly reading of her very. strong. will and so very self-deprecating nature was a little … overwhelming?
  • I don’t think we’d have got on. I know. It’s an enormously sad fact, but I rather think I’d be diving under the sofa or out of the window if she was coming. She sounded like a strong character who I’d rather admire from a distance. A great distance.
  • Rather unconventional, she seems. (Like Yoda, I speak.) Her relationship with her husband was a meeting of minds and hearts, but quite passionless. And for me, I find this rather dispiriting. She wrote such wonderful novels, and I’d like to think she had a complete Happy Ever After.

She once said that she was to be found in her work. I think I’ll enjoy finding her there, rather than in her biography.

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Narconomics: How To Run A Drug Cartel

by Tom Wainwright

This book. This book. I couldn’t put it down. I came home from work, found this had arrived, picked it up, and gobbled the whole thing down in one afternoon/evening.

It. is. so. interesting.

I’m not entirely sure how Wainwright does it, but once I’d finished reading this book, I felt that I’d completed a course in:

  • business studies
  • economics
  • criminology
  • how to run a drug cartel
  • how to destroy a drug cartel

and found it all fascinating. Every bit of it. This is quite astounding for business and economics are not two words that bring much excitement to mind.

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oh yes. I just love the thought of business studies

He is one of the luckiest journalists alive just to have survived his research,‘ says the Washington Times in the first page blurb. And he is.

But honestly, if you want to be informed about the war on drugs, on how it could be more effective, on how the drug cartels work and how their franchising is a bit like McDonald’s (for realz!) I’d highly recommend this book.

It’s the best one I’ve read this year.

Happy reading!

Books, Recountings

Recountings: Eloping Sisters and Replacement Brides

A long time ago, I discovered something wonderous … free books! And so I dived into that marvelous place known as Project Gutenberg. Many adventures did I have, and here is one of them …

Marcia Schuyler

by Grace Livingston Hill

First, a confession: for an obscenely long time, I had no idea how to pronounce ‘Schuyler’. I ignored it, pretending it was a sort of ‘Marcia S-silentletters-ler’. I only knew that I enjoyed reading this book.

Now – let’s not dawdle, let’s plunge in and see if I can convince you that you will enjoy it too.

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Our story opens with fresh-faced and innocent Marcia leaving her home to pick berries. She will sell these and use the money to buy some fabric for a dress she wants to make. In a few days her sister is getting married to David. David is a Man. A Good Man. A Worthy Man.

Only … Kate, her sister, is a flighty thing. A selfish flighty thing. Marcia doesn’t see this – she loves her sister, after all. But the facts are there and Kate is a Piece of Work.

Things Happen. A small (not an enormous amount) of drama ensues: Kate is being a little too friendly with a Captain What’s-His-Face, David arrives home in darkness, mistakes Marcia for Kate and kisses her. Over the garden gate. ON THE LIPZ!!!

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In a gentle and pleasant way, David brushes this off like he does his teeth every morning*. Kate is still a Piece of Work and Marcia is gradually growing to wish that she had her own Good ManTM.

And then … and then the morning of the wedding dawns. But Kate isn’t there! Her bedroom is empty. Empty! Rather thoughtfully, she’s left a note. But a note doesn’t really replace a bride.

Poor David – the woman he loves has eloped with dashing Captain Thingybob. Poor Kate and Marcia’s father – he’s shamed, shamed!

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Something must be done. But what?!

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And it is here that Marcia’s life changes. Because her father speaks:

“It is terrible!” he murmured, “terrible! How could she bear to inflict such sorrow! She might have saved us the scorn of all of our friends. David, you must not go back alone. It must not be. You must not bear that. There are lovely girls in plenty elsewhere. Find another one and marry her. Take your bride home with you, and no one in your home need be the wiser. Don’t sorrow for that cruel girl of mine. Give her not the satisfaction of feeling that your life is broken. Take another. Any girl might be proud to go with you for the asking. Had I a dozen other daughters you should have your pick of them, and one should go with you, if you would condescend to choose another from the home where you have been so treacherously dealt with. But I have only this one little girl. She is but a child as yet and cannot compare with what you thought you had. I blame you not if you do not wish to wed another Schuyler, but if you will she is yours. And she is a good girl. David, though she is but a child. Speak up, child, and say if you will make amends for the wrong your sister has done!

Yup! You read that right – seventeen year old Marcia is offered to David. As a replacement bride. To stop the scorn, right a wrong and save the family name.

As you do.

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And Marcia, pitying David and feeling so very sorry for him says …

“If David wishes I will go.”

(This is just chapter five, by the way.)

So she marries him.

And the equation of:

heart-broken man + innocent young girl + marriage

goes just about as well as you could expect. And this is just the start, folks. There’s Miranda (who’s brilliant) and a Dangerous Man and Betrayal and Anguish and Moral Peril and Bonnet Buying and a satisfactory Villain Is Found Out scene and … it’s clean, dramatic perfection.

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// … and you can enjoy it too, right here //

Happy Reading!


*this metaphor may not make much sense, but I feel quite proud of it. Actually, this begs the question – would David brush his teeth every morning? Because … time period and history and hygiene. Hmmm …

Books, Recountings, Uncategorized

mini recountings from a boat

I am currently aboard a boat. Naturally, I lugged books along with me. Unnaturally, there is wifi. Let the recountings commence!

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Uprooted by Naomi Novik

For a single book this had a lot packed in; there were three distinctive acts which could have easily been turned into a trilogy, but I was rather satisfied that it was a standalone.

There was a moment when I had to close the book because I was certain that it was going to suffer from Sagging In The Middle, but it didn’t. IT DIDN’T, I TELL YOU!

I loved the heroine, who was quite down to earth, there was one scene that I could have done without, and the Dragon WASN’T a dragon (I’ll forgive him) but other than that – yes, a most satisfying read.

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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokski

I was so looking forward to this book, it arrived in time to be dragged along with me and I read it on the first day. But get this – I didn’t like it. My suspension of disbelief didn’t suspend very well. My favourite character was a cannibalistic horse who only appears in the last half. (Seriously though – she has all the best lines.)

YA and I have a very temperamental relationship, and this book – which I was so intrigued by – just wasn’t for me.

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The Partner by John Grisham

Found in the Post Office of a village that had bunting and so. many. ducks. This book actually made me hold my breath AND WHAT A TWIST AT THE END! (Well, there were actually two twists and the very last one left me a little down and put out with the author who hasn’t written a sequel. WHY?!)

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Well, I’d better dash as a) a kingfisher has been spotted and b) the wifi might forsake me.

have a grand weekend!

Books, Recountings

Recountings: Musketeers (and trifles)

My second readolution is finished. The Three Musketeers was a hybrid read – I read about a third of it in paperback and finished the rest in ebook format. I know, I know. How terrible of me. I feel no guilt.

I have loosely watched the BBC adaption of The Three Musketeers and so had a mental image of some of the characters. It turns out that when I was reading and picturing Athos, I was actually picturing Aramis.

(Apparently, I’m quite good at mixing people like this – fictional or otherwise. I once spent an entire tennis match cheering for the wrong person. It was very confusing.)

Anyway, back to the recounting …

D’Artagnan is a) a playah and b) a victim of insta-lurve! At the same time. Dude.

… shall we talk about Kitty? Hmm?

How he meets the Musketeers is hilarious – he manages to offend them all, one after the other. Accidentally. He’s also a little puppy like and you can’t help but like him.

“I am at the age of extravagant hopes, monseigneur,” said d’Artganan.

Oh. And he’s also a Gascon. (A fact repeatedly mentioned.) Did anyone picture the below when Gascon was mentioned? (Yes, I know – there is a difference between a Gascon and Gaston. But still …)

Porthos … ah, Porthos. He’s brash and vain, but he can maintain a silence. A majestic silence. No. Really. He can:

Porthos maintained a majestic silence.

… anyone who can do such a thing has my respect.

Aramis is torn between the church, his one true love and the possession of a handkerchief.

Athos is my favourite musketeer. He’s rather cool.

Athos listened to him without a frown; and when he had finished, said, “Trifles, only trifles!” That was his favourite word.

He has a favourite word! (Mine isn’t ‘trifles’ but I’ll overlook our differences.) He’s haunted by a troublesome past, can barricade himself in the cellar of an inn with style and is the musketeer closest to d’Artagnan.

Milady … my word, she was such a good villain. She saw opportunities and she grabbed those opportunities and cast such petty things as morals and conscience to the wind. Villains – female villains – of her ilk you don’t often see.

Though you wouldn’t want to *see* them. You’d want to run. In the opposite direction.

Favourite Chapters

Chapter 26 ‘Aramis and His Thesis’ is brilliant. D’Artagnan arrives to find Aramis about to enter the church, in the company of a curate and a Jesuit. Sheer. Gold. The curate pretends to know Latin and just echoes it after the Jesuit, whilst d’Artagnan is just like ‘Wha-?’

“See what an exordium!” cried the Jesuit.

“Exordium,” repeated the curate, for the sake of saying something. “QUEMADMODUM INTER COELORUM IMMNSITATEM.”

Aramis cast a glance upon d’Artagnan to see what effect all this produced, and found his friend gaping enough to split his jaws.

Chapter 47 ‘The Council of the Musketeers’ is awesome. Basically the heroes need to have a chat but the cardinal has eyes and ears everywhere. Their solution? Simples. Make a bet that they can have lunch in the middle of some sort of no man’s land. The cardinal won’t suspect a thing.

So they’re in the middle of Serious Discussions and all the while they are under fire and have to oh so casually fight for their lives whilst eating lunch and plotting.  And they say women are the best multitaskers …

Chapters 63, 64, 65 and 66 – AKA the Ending. The whole thing. As I was with How to Train Your Dragon 2, I was shocked – shocked! – when a character died. I honestly thought that they were still alive until they were either burned or buried. It was then that I realised that they were dead. Not comic book dead. But dead dead.

“… but I was so sure.”

In short: It took a while for me to get into this book, but after it got moving? It was such great fun.

Two readolutions down, an attempt on Dickens is next …