fiercebunny: (Keaton reading)
(Yes, am trying to keep better track of my reading this year. We'll see how it goes.)

So far this month, I've finished reading two books. The first was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenneger, which Nicole and Sarah lent to me, despite my protests that I am apparently the only person who didn't like The Time Traveller's Wife, which they also lent me. (It wasn't so much as that I didn't like it, as it was that I hated the ending. It was an intriguing read for the most part.) They pointed out that it was about cemeteries and ghosts, morbid subjects I usually find interesting.

And those bits I actually did like. Being a history buff, I was really interested in the parts about London's Highgate cemetry. And with some of the story being from the ghost's point of view was kind of novel. It was interesting enough for me to read it pretty quickly.

However, I disliked the way the writer handled the multiple points of view. I like multiple points of view in a novel, but changing p.o.v. in the middle of a paragraph (or two or three times a paragraph) makes it confusing about who is feeling what.

And again, Niffenegger wrote an ending that really annoyed me. There's a plot twist that makes absolutely no sense, seeing as how you'd have to be an idiot to think it was a good idea to go along with. Characters who were previously sympathetic started acting like assholes and I kind of stopped caring about them.

So what I learned here is that if I ever get to visit London, Highgate cemetery would be an interesting tourist attraction and seriously, do not lend me any more Audrey Niffenegger books.

The second book I read was a mystery novel The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. And no, I didn't read it just because it had the word "pie" in the title. It's not really about pie. It's more about stamp collecting and murder and then pie. It's the sort of English murder mystery inhabited by generally eccentric characters. (They reminded me very much of characters you see in Edward Gorey drawings.) Anyway, the book is narrated by Flavia de Luce, an 11 year old girl obsessed with chemistry and poison, who resolves to solve a murder in which her eccentric father is implicated. I think the story would have been better served had it not been written in the first person. Although Flavia rather reminded me of Harriet the Spy, I had a hard time suspending disbelief at the idea that she's supposed to be an 11 year old girl when the narration sounds of someone much older. However, it was generally a fun read and did not especially annoy me. As it is supposed to be the first of a series, I wouldn't be opposed to reading more about Flavia either.

And now I have gone back to my favorite comfort reading, Georgette Heyer novels, and am reading The Masqueraders. It's set much earlier than her Regency stories and involves cross dressing siblings on the lam(!) after a failed Jacobite rebellion in the 18th century. So obviously, it is awesome so far.
fiercebunny: (Keaton reading)
Chatelaine Workshop 1

I finished my Chatelaine workshop last week while watching Lost. I'm happy with how it came out; it's going on top of the ever-increasing Needs to Be Framed Pile. Doing all those jessica stitches were kind of a pain at the beginning, as I kept losing track of the number of legs, but I finally managed to get the hang of them by the end. I almost kind of miss doing them now.

Now I have signed up for Workshop #2, which is focusing on rice stitches. It will be awhile before I can really work on that one though, I have a couple of exchanges coming up that I need to concentrate on first.

In the meantime, I've read two more books since my last post.

The Fire Kimono by Laura Joh Rowland. I'm sort of losing interest in the Sano Ichiro mysteries the further it goes along, although this one wasn't that bad.

Also, I reread Watchmen since I saw the movie a few weeks ago. It's been a long time since I'd read it and kind of surprised by how faithful the movie was to the book. Also, Watchmen the second time around? Still not a cheerful way to pass the time. Actually, the first (and last) time I read it was I think, right around 9/11, so the story kind of freaked me out at the time and still kinda reminds me of that period. Strangely, the movie, while awesome, did not freak me out nor depress me as much as the book. I just enjoyed it's sheer awesomeness.

I think I'm going to read something a bit more fun now though.
fiercebunny: (Hello Elizabeth)
It's been awhile since my last book post and I was going to try to keep better track of them this year, so here goes.

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. Pretty good, but then again, I'll read any book about the Tudor period, so I can't really judge. I liked how this one started out with Elizabeth's very early years, at the time of Anne Boleyn's death, since not many novels cover that formative period that so influenced to her adult life. And one of the things that I liked was that when Weir takes artistic license, she specifically takes care to point out the fact in the afterward that there's no historical basis. That's one of the things that often annoys me about Phillipa Gregory's Tudor novels (not that it's stopped me from reading them so far, to be honest. Which reminds me that I need to check her Mary, Queen of Scots book from the library.)

I reread Coraline by Neil Gaiman, a few days before I went to go see the animated movie. I think it creeped me out even more the second time around.

The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer. This was a really funny, charming Regency romance, although it's bit heavier on the madcap capers than the romance side. The first Heyer novel I read was one of her historicals, An Infamous Army, and while it wasn't bad, I didn't really get into the story. A conversation on the SF Current Reads thread lead me to give Heyer another chance and I'm really glad I did. I'll definitely be buying more Heyer novels sometime soon. (Yay for payday. Payday means more book buying!)

Another rec from Current Reads (which hasn't steered me wrong yet)was for mystery writer Sarah Caudwell. Also, they had Edward Gorey cover art, which is always an incentive. So far I have read Thus Was Adonis Murdered and The Shortest Way to Hades. I would not have expected that mysteries involving tax attorneys and tax law to be at all interesting, but I loved, loved, loved them. It took a chapter or two for it to grow on me, but they're very witty and funny. Go read them!

Sadly, Caudwell passed away having written only four novels. I only have two more to go and I've sort of putting off reading them right away, just because I'll be sad when I've finished them and there's no more left.

I think that's about it so far. I've also bought copies of Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII (I had a coupon for Borders) and Coraline: A Visual Companion, but those I've mostly been skimming through. I'd recommend both though, especially Weir. It's an excellent biography and highly readable.

Off for some reading before bed. ^_^
fiercebunny: (Keaton reading)
Although I generally veer more towards the Fantasy side of YA fiction, I picked up the paperback of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist at Target the other day and am about halfway through. This book is making me feel really old.

Nick and Norah are both college age, recovering broken-hearts who meet-cute at a club. It started out promising enough, but as Nick and Norah become more attracted to each other, the more angsty and capslocky they become. Occasionally they will hear a punk song and they will pause to pogo dance their little hearts out, but since punk songs last like, three minutes, they are swiftly dropped back to reality to bemoan the dismal state of their love lives.

I really wanted to like this. I like books about music (like High Fidelity) and I'm kind of a music snob (I think punk is way overrated though. I spent my rebellious teen years listening to Weird Al Yankovic and Fleetwood Mac. Yeah, I'll show myself out.), but while Nick and Norah seemed like cute, funny characters at the beginning, their acquaintance is not improving over time. Norah, especially. I just want to take her aside and go, Dude, chill out. Enough with the CAPSLOCK. And yeah, I get it, you're straight-edge with your virgin daiquiris and ironic paper umbrellas, but for god's sake, drink and/or smoke something, so you can MELLOW the FUCK out. You don't have to get blotto, just relaxed enough so that you don't pop that blood vessel that's threatening to blow.

I still think the movie trailer looks good though, as it downplays Nick and Norah's wangstiness, so I'll probably go see it.
fiercebunny: (LJ - bored)
Artsy closeup shot!
Reading Writing Stitching

the whole thing under the cut )

Eh, I must be pms'ing because I've been feeling kinda cranky lately. I had the past three days off of work which is a good thing or I'd probably be ready to rip somebody's head off right now.
But other than a general sense of blah, things have actually been okay.

Yesterday, I took my mom to see the Roman Art from the Louvre exhibit at the art museum. It was really fascinating and if you're in town, I highly recommend it. I realized though that my total knowledge of Roman history is derived from the HBO series Rome, I, Claudius and Gladiator (and um, Wikipedia) because in the first gallery, I was pointing out statues to my mom and explaining, "This is Livia. Remember, she was married to Augustus and poisoned off half his family? This statue is of Caligula. He slept with his sister and liked dancing. And killing people." Then I had pretty much nothing else to say in any of the other galleries because I hadn't seen the relevant subjects on tv. (I liked the collection of busts showing different women's hairstyles especially though. That was pretty neat.)

Then we had lunch at the museum cafe. Which you should do, because they have the best vanilla bean crème brûlée ever. OMG DROOL. We also had fried okra for an appetizer, which had a really good cornmeal batter and tasty dipping sauces, but was kind of gross because they didn't cut up the okra into pieces and just fried the whole thing. I love fried okra, but I've never had whole pieces of it before and that's for a very good reason in that it is pretty gross whole. It's
slimy even after frying and has lots of little white seed pods and just in general, very alien looking.

Books I've been reading:
The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark - I really didn't like this, but finished it because for the most part, I was stuck with it on a plane. Basically, a crazy pharmacist tries to create birth defects by freaking out pregnant women. None of the characters are remotely likeable. It reminded me of The Dress Lodger, but even more miserable, if possible.

Man, I don't think I've read a happy Victorian historical novel in ages. I'm beginning to think the whole of the Victorian era was populated entirely by lunatics and whores. Miserably grim lunatics and whores, none of your happy-go lucky lunatics and whores, mind you.

Okay, where was I? Oh yes, I'm continuing with Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles and I read Dido and Pa and Midwinter Nightingale. In comparison to Clark, Aiken is someone who can do dark, yet still have sympathetic characters and maintain a sense of humor. It amazes me how violent these are for children's books. I mean, people seemed shocked by how dark Harry Potter took a turn for, but this series has been around for awhile and so far in just these two books... )

Also, I finished Strange Poison by Dorothy L Sayers and am currently reading the next in the series, Have His Carcase. Lord Peter Whimsy is kind of goofy and amusing and Harriet rocks so far.
fiercebunny: (Colbert reading)
When I'm bored, I shop. And when I shop, I buy tons of books.

My latest Amazon order:

Have His Carcase and Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. I already bought Strong Poison at Borders tonight and I'm going to start that one once I finish my latest Plaidy book. These came recommended by the Snarkfest Current Reads thread. I'm looking forward to reading a good mystery series.

Comic Book Tattoo: Tales inspired by Tori Amos

Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein. I think I enjoy reading more about the lives of the Romantics than their actual works. (See Passions by Jude Morgan) Did I mention that I netflixed Gothic? Whoa. 0_o

Spaced: The Complete Series.

I also sank to a new level of geekdom and bought a Doctor Who t-shirt. Because I apparently need everyone who might chance to see me know that I am a huge nerd. And then I also bought a Chairman Meow t-shirt.

Speaking of clothes, does anybody have recommendations for clothing sites? I often see Anthropologie mentioned on SF and while I like their clothes, they're quite a bit out of my price range. I'm feeling the rare urge to improve my wardrobe.
fiercebunny: (tophat)
I just finished watching Penelope from Netflix. Aww, that was such a sweet, cute movie. (Plus, it gave me the opportunity to play my favorite game, British actor spotting: Withnail! Octavian from Rome, Owen from Torchwood. Hey, was that Nick Frost? Yes, it was. ) I really loved it. It's definitely going into the dvd collection.

James McAvoy's performance was funny and charming. I don't think I've seen any of his movies that I've disliked so far. (Although Starter for 10 did make me cringe a bit.) My favorite photo of him, let me show you it...

In other news, I did finish reading Breaking Dawn and it was bad. No, it did not get any better. It was so long and never-ending, that I almost lost the will to persevere through it and/or life, but I did manage to finish it. You should read [ profile] cleolinda's recaps of the series; she does a much better and funnier job of pointing out the WTFery than I could and you can still lol without going through the bother of actually reading the damn things yourself.

I also finished reading Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man. When I was little, I wanted to be Nancy Drew when I grew up; now I kinda think I want to be Nick Charles. Solve crime, make smart alec-y remarks, have cocktails. I was kind of surprised at how little Nora had to do in the book. (Perhaps she has a larger role in the movies?) She was awesome, but more like awesome in the background and every now and then she would make a snappy comment, but more often, it seemed like she was fixing Nick a drink (a lot of drinks) than actively doing anything. I still enjoyed the book though.
fiercebunny: (tophat)
Okay, I'm bored and need to write something, anything, but I'm going to do this meme instead.

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. How do you do?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare parts, but no not all
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger The ending of this made me so mad
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams When I die, make sure they throw this one in the coffin with me. (I never go anywhere without something to read)
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis This was already listed!
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdi
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill
75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Not much to report on lately, but that I've found region hacks for my dvd player and have been doing nothing but watching Life On Mars episodes for the past few days. It's about a detective who gets hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up back in 1973. It's really good and I love it so far. Although I wish that there would be some happy medium between American shows, where they run forever and jump the shark multiple times, (X-Files, I'm looking at you) and British shows, where they just film 16 episodes and decide to call it a day.

Sadly though, they are making a American remake of it. Blargh! And it looks crappy. There were some other clips of it on YouTube. The scene where Sam gets hit by a car was especially bad. I didn't think the UK-version looked all that realistic to begin with, but at least it was quick and surprising, because the car now just sort of sloowly rolls into him and that kind of made me LOL. Also, American Sam looks about as emotive as a brick wall. This can't end well.

I'm also watching Black Books, which I got through Netflix because it came recommended by some guy at the bookstore. It amuses me greatly. I want to work in a bookshop and yell at customers. And drink lots of wine.
fiercebunny: (Hello Elizabeth)
Enough boring work posts, here is a picture of Opaline.
red & white Opaline

another one under the cut )
I am half-heartedly reading Alison Weir's Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley. I am about halfway through it, but even though it's about murder and the blowing up of the evidence, I am finding it hard to maintain interest. I usually like Weir, but this one is taking me forever. I ought to order a copy of The Six Wives of Henry VIII and The Lady Elizabeth, her new novel. I am interested in seeing how much more Weir can write about the Tudor era. And I am sure it must be better than Philippa Gregory's The Virgin's Lover because good god, that one was terrible. I think Gregory is sometimes fun, but she definitely uses the Bizarro book of Tudor history for reference.
fiercebunny: (Colbert reading)
I haven't done a books post in almost 4 months when I was disenhearted by my computer eating my last attempt at one. I'll try to post a few of the ones I've read in the meantime, just to catch up.

In February, I read several books from Joan Aiken's Wolves Chronicles: The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Black Hearts in Battersea, Nightbirds in Nantucket, The Stolen Lake, and The Cuckoo Tree. They're set in an alternative universe where the Stuarts never lost the English throne and supporters of the Hanovers constantly scheme to upset the monarchy. Generally involve orphans, plucky street urchins and the like. These are awesome. If you like odd childrens' fantasies, these should definitely be checked out. (Plus Edward Gorey did the cover art for most of them, always a plus.) Aiken has the best names for her characters, Dido Twite, Dutiful Penitence Casket, etc.

Amazon cancelled my order for Dido and Pa :P Why are these books so hard to find?

The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy - reread this novel about Anne Boleyn. Plaidy is generally more sympathetic about Anne than some other writers I've read recently.

Brilliance by Rosalind Laker - I've really liked the Laker books I've read in the past, so when I saw this one involving the beginnings of cinema in fin-de-siecle France, I thought it would be perfect. One of my favorite subjects in my favorite time period. But it fell far short of what I expected. It reminded me of writing classes in college where the teacher's always telling you to show and not tell; there's not a lot of show here, so it's kind of hard to get to engaged with what's going on in the story. A disappointing entry.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - I keep trying to read Murakami even though I don't always 'get' him. This early novel is one of his more straightforward works and I quite liked it. I think I probably would have had better luck getting into his writing if I'd started with this one first.

More updates later.
fiercebunny: (Keaton reading)
I've decided that I really like the new Indiana Jones trailer. I have a weird ambivalence about the new movie. Raiders of the Lost Ark was my favorite movie as a kid, but I can barely bring myself to read up on it in case it ended up being too disappointing. But the clips of the action scenes look reminiscent of the chase in Raiders and there's some fairly amusing lines. I'm kind of meh on Shia LeBoeuf, but Cate Blanchett looks like she's having fun playing the evil nazi Commie. So yay for that, I think I can uncover my eyes now.

Anyway, here are the books I've read so far this year:

Love and Louis XIV by Antonia Fraser. Excellent biography on a fascinating time period. Very well researched.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Gothic tale about feral twins. Enjoyed.

After Dark by Haruki Murakami. I enjoy reading Murakami, but I'll admit, I always feel like there's stuff going way over my head, especially with some of his more fantastical or sci-fi bits. I liked the realistic parts about the night owls hanging out at Denny's, but the part about Eri getting sucked into the tv? No clue, wtfkaythnx, also felt those scenes caused the book to drag. Still, I ordered a copy of Norwegian Wood because I am nothing if not tenacious. And also, because of the Beatles reference.

And Only to Deceive
and A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander. Two excellent mysteries set during the latter part of the Victorian era. Emily marries solely for wealth and when her husband dies soon after, realizes only too late his worth and depth of character. Then she goes around studying classics and solving crime. ^_^ The first book is mostly about stolen and forged antiquities and the second deals with someone pretending to be a descendant of the lost Dauphin of France. I'm really looking forward to the next book.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Friendship and betrayal in 19th century China. Reread this and was horribly depressed all over again.

The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner. A fantasy of manners in which Alec, the Mad Duke of Tremontaine decides that he will have his long estranged niece trained to learn the sword. It was rather slow moving at the beginning, but it picked up after awhile and I was sorry it ended so soon. Alec is much less annoying here than he was in Swordspoint.

Yikes, much later than I thought. Time for sleep. I'll post the others later.
fiercebunny: (Greco Roman Kitty)
Happy (Belated) New Year! Thank goodness 2007 is over, it was a crummy year. It's time for new beginnings.

the year in books *sadface* )
By the way, I bought a Hello Kitty calendar for the computer room. And its theme was Hello Kitty wearing fashions through the ages. *cackles* Of course, this gives me plenty of fodder for iconage.
fiercebunny: (Colbert reading)
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Had to share the pimptastic Elizabethan cover art. I'm not sure what that magenta thing that Elizabeth is wearing. Actually, I'm not sure why it's magenta in the first place.

I first read this back when I was in high school, I think, but I couldn't find my copy anywhere, so I actually ordered a new/old copy from Amazon marketplace. I've been reading a lot of Jean Plaidy lately (Victoria Holt's other nom de plume) and I remembered this one was a lot of fun. It's about Lettice Knollys, cousin to Queen Elizabeth and the woman who eventually married Robert Dudley, Elizabeth's OTP. Lettice is such an unrepentantly whorey bitch. Good times. She's spending most of the book boasting to the reader and herself about being the Queen's rival and getting to schtupp Leicester, only to get pwned everytime she's in Elizabeth's presence. Also, pretty much everyone who crosses Leicester falls down a flight of stairs or dies of dysentary. OR DO THEY? DUN DUN DUN.

Some BPAL decants came in the mail today. I'm trying Beaver Moon '07. Not as good as the '06 version. This one smells like strawberry cream soda and incense (that sort of incense-y smell that was in Underpants.) The fizzy strawberry smell kind of faded over the day though, and now it's just the incense-y smell that remains. Nice, but I think an imp will suffice.
fiercebunny: (Marie Antoinette gish)
I haven't really done much reading so far this year. I'm never going to make the 50 book challenge at this rate. In February and March, I've only read four books.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. I heard via [ profile] cleolinda's lj that they're thinking of making another Phillip Marlowe movie, this time with Clive Owen. Mmmmm, that would be perfect casting. Figured it was time to reread this; still baffled by it. If you haven't read Chandler before, I highly recommend you do so, his prose is made of awesome.

The Constant Princess by Phillipa Gregory. Another one of Gregory's inaccurate Tudor novels. This one, focusing on the young adult life of Catherine of Aragon, is unfortunately more boring than trashy. I did like how Gregory portrays Catherine's strength and how it stemmed from her childhood and parents' influence though. On the other hand, it still really annoys me how inaccurate Gregory is.

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. Of the three fictional books about Marie Antoinette that I've read recently (Versailles, The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette), I liked this one the best. Not quite the prose poem that Versailles attempted to be, it's still nicely written. Naslund credits Antonia Fraser's biography as an influence and it shows.

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir. Weir's first fictional novel, about Lady Jane Grey. I generally enjoy her biographies (I've read her work on Henry VIII's wife and the one on Elizabeth I) and she does well at fiction too, creating a compelling narrative and a sympathetic character in Lady Jane. Lady Jane's is such a sad story though; cursed with rotten, ambitious parents and a horrid marriage (nothing like Cary Elwes, unfortunately). And she didn't have Elizabeth's wiliness in getting out of tight predicaments. I hope Weir continues to write fiction.

In other news, I went to Hastings and bought a used copy of The Prestige, aka the duelling asshole magicians movie, and a cross stitch magazine that had several cute little patterns of kokeshi dolls. I think I'm going to make one into a needlekeep, although I have to finish my needleroll for the lj swap first.
fiercebunny: (Keaton with book)
Still trying to keep track of my reading. So for January, just three...

The King's Touch by Jude Morgan - picked this up since I enjoyed reading Passion so much. This one is narrated by James, Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of Charles I. And of course, with his being a bastard, there are many, many pages of daddy issues. Although a deeply flawed character, Morgan gives him a much more sympathetic portrayal than Plaidy did in The Loves of Charles I.

The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillipa Gregory - well, this one did not annoy me as much as The Virgin Lover did. In fact, it was a fairly fast-paced read. It's split up into three stories, that of Anne of Cleves (Henry VIII's 4th wife/victim), Jane Boleyn (who betrayed her husband and sister-in-law Anne Boleyn), and Katherine Howard (Henry's fifth wife/victim). I actually really liked this one, because you really don't see Anne of Cleves get her story told too often and it's a very suspenseful one at that. (Considering she has to manuever between an intolerably strict family back in Germany and a new, bloodthirsty husband.)Jane, who was pretty evil in The Other Boleyn Girl, comes across as much more sympathetic here, although after reading the author's note at the end, I'm not sure if that was really Gregory's intent. I think Gregory's use of first person just makes Jane seem pathetically self-deluded and in denial instead of just plain evil. Katherine Howard was the least interesting of the three... she was just selfish and stupid, rather like Lydia Bennett.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte - reread this after watching the new BBC version of this on Masterpiece Theatre. This was my favorite classic as a teenager. I still love it, but I think Pride & Prejudice has replaced it in my heart. I had forgotten how religious it gets, like whenever Jane admonishes Mr Rochester to turn to God and be a good Christian. I would totally have gone off with him to his French villa. At least she turns down St. John Rivers, who is my least favorite part of the book. Anyway, I bought a new copy of it with illustrations by Dame Darcy. Her art style doesn't look really Victorian (it reminds me more of Edward Gorey's Edwardian style), but it's still a nice edition (although I wish they had done it in hardcover instead.)
fiercebunny: (Keaton with book)
Eh, I've been remiss in keeping track of my books lately, which I intend to hopefully improve upon. So here's updates on the past couple of months...

Athénaïs: The Real Queen of France by Lisa Hilton - I'd been wanting to read this one for ages since the Marquise de Montespan led such a scandalous life and I finally found a used copy at Hastings. It has some fairly poor reviews on Amazon and having read it, I can understand why. The writer is extremely biased towards her subject and goes on at length about La Montespan's beauty, charms and humility. (She cooked dinner for nuns! With her own beautiful white hands!) So she seduced the King away from her supposedly closest friend, Louise de la Vallière, she's just a spirited young girl. Leave her alone! Oddly, the other books I've read about this time period make La Montespan out to be a huge bitch. That's not even getting into the L'Affaire des Poisons, where La Montespan was largely implicated in participating in the poisonings and Black Masses. (Although Hilton defends La Montespan's innocence in the scandal, of course.) You can kind of get an idea of what's actually going on if you read between the lines, but Hilton's attempt to rehabilitate La Montespan's reputation is tiresome. I want scandale damnit!

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erikson - an engaging and highly sympathetic portrayal although the writer takes a fair amount of poetic license. Marie takes a diplomatic/romantic trip to Sweden with Axel Von Fersen, for example (didn't happen). The Necklace Affair isn't mentioned at all either, which seemed a little odd as well. Still, I enjoyed reading it.

The Illuminator by Brenda Rickman Vantrease - An impoverished but aristocratic widow tries to curry favor with the Church by taking in a manuscript illuminator and his daughter. Set in England during Medieval times, so it was a nice change of pace until the plot became hugely depressing. No problems with the writing style . . . it was just really depressing. And the ending was very forced and not believable.

Uncharted Territory by Connie Willis (reread) - a light Western-style science-fiction comedy. Love Willis, would recommend anything by her. Not as good as To Say Nothing of the Dog (which I love), but fun regardless.

The Raven Ring by Patricia C. Wrede - [ profile] mythicalgryphon helped me out by lending me some books after I was stuck for reading material. This one was a pretty good fantasy novel, although it was fairly brief. I'll have to check and see if it's part of a series.

Circle of Pearls by Rosalind Laker - another borrowed book. I really loved this one. It's set during the conflict between the Cavaliers and the Puritans during the Commonwealth period. Lots of great historical detail, lots of depth given to the characters. Actually, I think my favorite part was that the mother in the book did needlework and Laker had done proper research on it. I get really peeved when writers used needlework as shorthand for a sign of passivity. (And okay, the mother is kind of passive, but ends up being a really strong character, etc. *rambling dwindles off*) Anyway, I quite enjoyed it and need to track down my own copy as well as Laker's other books.


Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain - I really enjoy Bourdain's writing. Cynical, witty, has the unfortunate effect of making me want to try lots of unattainable gourmet food.

Versailles by Kathryn Davis - sort of a post-modern take on Marie Antoinette's story. It shifts from first to third person, but from Marie's prospective beyond the grave. Occassionally, it takes the form of a play or poems. I feel kind of meh about this approach. It's not badly done, (at least not as badly as The Red Queen, which I hated), but it's not a style I enjoy very much. If you like stream-of-conscious though, you may enjoy it.

The Goddess of the Green Room by Jean Plaidy. The downtown library had a few out-of-print Plaidy books, yay. This one was regarding the ill-fated romance between comic actress Dorothy Jordan and William, the Duke of Clarence. Interesting to learn about theater at that time period as well as Plaidy's portrayal of mad King George III. The royalty in this one all come off really badly.
fiercebunny: (Keaton with book)
Delayed, as usual, but here are my books for April...

The Drowning Tree by Carol Goodman - Still on the modern Gothic kick. A good suspense thriller, but Goodman's endings tend to be a bit too tidy. One of the things I like about Goodman is that she seems to pick a subject she wants to research more about and then writes a novel around it. Her first book was Latin Classics, the second fairy tales, and this one is about Pre-Raphaelite style artists and stained glass making. This made the latter seem really interesting.
Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand -(reread)Dual storylines about muses (or one Muse, in particular) and the artists they inspire to the point of madness. More (actual) Pre-Raphaelite artists. Gorgeous, decadent prose.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd - I feel strangely ambivalent about this one, although I'm not sure why. I really liked the movie version, which is fairly faithful to the book. Part of it is because of Moore's dense writing style, I think. Everything's so crammed with meaning, it's really the type of book meant for a close reading rather than a casual read for enjoyment. Like how V speaks in iambic pentameter, for example, I would never have known that if I hadn't read about it in Wiki. For some reason, this makes me feel kind of shallow for enjoying the movie more. Things go boom, me happy, arrr.
Lily Dale: the True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead by Christine Wicker - Hey, a nonfiction book for once. Lily Dale is a small town in a upstate New York that began (and continues) as a spiritualist commune. Spiritualism (mediums, seances, and so forth) was a pretty popular fad during the 19th century, and Lily Dale was a major center for the movement. Wicker, a religion journalist, travelled to the town to explore the beliefs of the people there. It's not really an investigative account. Wicker's not trying to debunk anybody or prove anyone a fraud. Actually, she seems to go out of her way to give the spiritualists the opportunity to prove life after death to her. Wicker is somewhat skeptical, but obviously more than willing to believe. It's an effective approach. The important thing about Lily Dale isn't about whether the paranormal experiences are real or not , but rather people's faith in it. Very interesting.
The Basic Eight by Daniel Handler - A teen drama (or a send up of one) by the guy who writes the Lemony Snicket books. To be expected, it's a morbid, blackly humourous book. The most exaggeratedly pretentious teenagers ever written get accused of a ghastly, Satanic cult murder. It's funny. There's a strange bit in there where they get crazy drunk off hallucinogenic absinthe and then later one of the characters tricks her lecherous bio teacher into an absinthe-induced coma. Shit like that never went down the one time I tried absinthe; maybe we just didn't get the good stuff. Okay, back to the book: the ending was lame, which was a disappointment since the rest of the book was nicely satirical.
fiercebunny: (Default)
I went to the needle shop in Norman today before work because they were having a going-out-of-business sale. Since everything was 75% off, I lost my mind and bought a metric buttload of stuff. (1.0 Metric Buttload = a seriously retarded amount of stuff. To put it scientifically.) At such opportunities, my mind switches to "Get it NOW" mode, only to come to an hour later in another town on top of a pile of silk threads, patterns, and fabric. Gah! Must say no to further temptation! Thank goodness it's the weekend, so I can stitch to my heart's content at work while it's slow.

And also the books and cd I recently ordered off Amazon came today too. Make that 1.5 metric buttload.

More tomorrow, a book entry possibly, if I can ever remember what I've read lately. (I knew I should've written it down for a reason.)
fiercebunny: (p&p - bored)
So many people have quit work that the weekdays are pretty busy now. Customers continue to be aggravating. Yesterday, I told a guy to google a hotel if he wanted more information and he asked me to spell google for him. Perhaps I should have spelled instead. Also, some other guy called me an Okie hick after he asked where my call center was. What a douche. Now, I realize he was just trying to be funny. He just failed miserably. (I always groan inwardly when the agents transferring the calls say something like, "Oh, he's a character", "a cool guy" or crap like that because it usually translates to "pain in ass.") Whatever. He was from Minnesota, of all places. Not exactly the most posh accent either, asshole.

I'm almost looking forward to the possible layoff, just to break up the monotony.

In other news . . .
I'm really, really enjoying the online Dracula read along. Reading it from the lj friends' list makes it creepy and seem more real. The discussion in the comments section has been enlightening as well. It's difficult to read the Jonathan Harker entries and not hear Keanu Reeves' voice, though.

Was surprised to see that Placebo has a new album out. Why Amazon spams me about crap I don't listen to and never notifies me about bands whose cds I have bought before, I do not understand. Must chalk it up to suckage. Anyway, I'm enjoying the album so far, although Placebo seems to be continuing their trend of really ugly cover art.

Off to go watch Derailed. . .
fiercebunny: (Default)
Read Dracula in real time. The book is an epistolary novel and the community is posting installments on whichever day that particular journal entry or letter happens to be dated.

I am absurdly excited about rereading this.


fiercebunny: (Default)

November 2011

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