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Showing posts from March, 2012

Pomp(ous) and Circumstance

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Wow.  Just wow.  I rated Jude Deveraux's The Raider as receiving three out of five stars on Goodreads, but I was being generous.  I didn't care for this book at all.  I didn't like the lead male character and didn't enjoy the plot.  So not good.  Despite being part of the Montgomery series, which I've enjoyed, this one takes place in America instead of the UK.  I think I'll stick with the British ones from now on.

Raider is set in Colonial New England and focuses on the homecoming and re-immersion of Alexander Montgomery into the town he grew up in.  When he arrives he is recovering from a gunshot wound and is dressed up in a fat suit and garish clothes.  This sets tongues wagging about him being fat, lazy, and a perpetual drunk.  The image is only perpetuated by Jessica Taggert, the most beautiful, unattainable, and tomboyish girl in the entire town.  Also during this time, the British have essentially taken over the town and are wreaking havoc on the citizens:…

Robbin' Trains and Keeping Secrets

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Linda Lael Miller's The Rustler was...kind of blah actually.  I mean, the story was decent.  The characters were fine.  But there wasn't anything that really captured my interest in the entire story.  That's sad and disappointing.

Rustler follows Wyatt Yarbro as he decides to give up his cattle stealing, train robbing, saloon frequenting ways and relocate to Stone Creek where his brother, also a reformed rustler, just happens to be the local sheriff.  At first Wyatt thinks he's just going to lie low until the ruckus from his last cattle raid blows oven, but then he meets Sarah Tamlin.  Sarah works at the local bank, which her father owns, and is considered quite the catch despite her additional years compared to other first time brides.  In addition to running the bank in lieu of her father's failing health, which must be kept hushed, she has several rather large secrets from her past.  To keep track of all the lies she's had to tell to survive, she keeps a smal…

Screw Society!

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I have to say that I was completely surprised by Julia London's The Secret Lover...in a good way!  Reading the synopsis kind of left me feeling ho-hum, but it definitely didn't do the story justice.  I'll admit, the beginning of the book was rather slow, but it really picked up and I thoroughly liked the characters and how things played out.  Good deal!

Lover follows Sophie Dane and her journey and re-entrance into London Society (which she adamantly wanted to avoid) after eight years of absence.  For reasons that are explained fairly early on, Sophie has been ostracized from her family and high society and has been living as a companion to an older, wealthy woman, Honorine, in France (among other places).  Soon Honorine decides that she wants to travel to London and that Sophie must accompany her.  Thus begins to harrowing journey and Sophie's not so seamless appearance back in London.  However, she soon finds herself on the receiving end of one of the most eligible ba…

Music Saves the Day

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Alexander McCall Smith's La's Orchestra Saves the World was a pretty decent read.  Although, for me, it does not stack up to some of his serials (44 Scotland Street, etc.), I rather enjoyed it.

La's is set, for the majority, during the span of WWII in the countryside of Suffolk.  The story begins with La (Lavender) and her developing relationship with Richard Stone.  The two share a whirlwind of a romance that leads, rather quickly, to marriage.  Not even two years later La is alone.  She then moves from Cambridge to Suffolk county into an old farmhouse owned by her in-laws.  It is here that La's life gains new purpose and she becomes a more self-assured individual.  While working on the home-front to help the citizens of Britain during a time of war, she meets a Polish soldier, Feliks, who has been sent to work on a neighboring farm.  Naturally La develops feelings for Feliks, though he's so uptight and reserved that she has no idea where he stands on the issue.  I…

Why I Love...Tear Jerkers

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I am not, by nature, an emotional person.  I don't cry when I get upset.  I don't cry when I get hurt.  Honestly, I don't cry...at least it's a rare occasion if I do.  In fact, several friends have described me as having a heart of stone because I never cry (jokingly, of course).  However, there are a few things that get me every time:  Selena, The Notebook (film version), The Family Stone and some other films.  But for the most part, I'm a stone wall.  Now that all changes when it comes to certain books.  There are a few books that I will cherish forever despite the fact that they make me cry.  For that reason, they belong in the Why I Love...Tear Jerkers category. 

First, and foremost:  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
This was the only installation in the boy wizard series where I cried.  It's not that I wasn't upset about things that occurred in the previous books (Cedric's death, Sirius' death, Dumbledore's death, etc.), but this last b…

Teaser Tuesday...Chelsea Handler is a Big Liar!

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So I've had Chelsea's Family, Friends, and other Victims Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me since it came out months and months ago.  It's been sitting in a pile of books next to my mirror...because I'm lacking enough bookshelf space.  Does that say something about me?  Ha.  Anyway, I am finally picking it up to read it!  Joyous occassion indeed!  Without further ado...today's teaser:

"You see, Chelsea has tricked the world into believing that she is technologically retarded, but that's a lie.  What I and several other victims have discovered is that she likes to sneak into people's work spaces, get on their computer without their knowledge, and wreak havoc" (Eva Magdalenski 197).

I've loved everything written by Handler.  She's hilarious, rude, and absolutely obnoxious.  I can't wait to find out the different antics she's pulled on those closest to her.  Happy reading!

Poetry Friday...William Butler Yeats

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Leda and the Swan  (1928)
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thights?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
                                 Being caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with is power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?


When I first read this poem as an undergrad in college, I was shocked and in awe of how brilliant William Butler Yeats was.  His use of symbolism, allegory, and mythology are pure genius!  An Irish play-write and poet, Yeats became one of the most influential writers in the 20th century and went on to win the Nobel Prize for Litera…

Do I Even Know You?

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I've heard so many good things about Pam Jenoff's The Diplomat's Wife and it's predecessor, The Kommandant's Girl, but I've never felt like reading either for some odd reason.  Both are set during my favorite time, WWII, and both are books that I would probably like.  Why wouldn't I want to read them?  Well, I finally remedied this conundrum, though probably backwards from how I should have done so.  I found a copy of The Diplomat's Wife for two dollars in a used bookstore some time back and picked it up (I mean, it was ONLY two dollars).  Now I can say that I'm really glad I did!

Diplomat follows the trials and tribulations of Marta Nederman after the war has come to an end.  She's been rescued from the Dachau concentration camp by an American soldier, Paul Mattison, and placed in a DP hospital in Switzerland.  Though she doesn't know it at the time, this chance meeting with Paul will shape her life in ways she never could have imagined.  Th…

Teaser Tuesday...Turning a New Leaf

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This week's teaser comes from Linda Lael Miller's The Rustler.  I've never read much of Miller's writing, but my mom really likes her; so I thought I'd give it a try.  We'll see how it goes.

"Men like Mr. Yarbro didn't marry, they dallied with foolish women, and then moved on" (65).

Poetry Friday...Wilfred Owen

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Dulce et Decorum Est Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep.  Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod.  All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas!  Gas!  Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime... Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,  As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood C…

Why I Love...Book Boyfriends

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How fitting that I was rockin' to the smooth grooves of SWV and "Weak in the Knees" this morning and then saw this week's topic for "Why I Love" Wednesday:  Book Boyfriends.  While I've read hundreds of books, literally, there are very few male characters that are swoon-worthy.  Despite that, I can name a few, so here goes:

As cliche as it may seem, I developed an unnatural book crush on Edward Cullen.  Damn you Stephanie Meyer for creating a character that is completely enchanting and demented.  Despite the creep factor that Edward has, there is something magnetic about him.  He's intense, dangerous, and calculated.  I don't know why, but that's kind of appealing.

I think that my most enduring book boyfriend would have to be Mr. Darcy.  Though he's "married" to Elizabeth, he will forever be one of the most charming, infuriating, and wonderful male characters in my mind.  Not to mention the fact that he has some of the best li…

It Should Have Ended Sooner

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Michael Ende's The NeverEnding Story...one of my all-time favorite movies...finally found in a book form!  What I never realized about this story was the fact that the movie was only based on the first third of the book.  Say what?!  When I found that out I couldn't wait to read it and find out what wasn't included in the film version.  Needless to say, I will stick with the movie from now on.

The NeverEnding Story follows the journey of Bastian Balthazar Bux as he reads a book, The NeverEnding Story, about a world, Fantastica, that is dying.  He travels along with Atreyu in his search for the one thing that can cure the illness that the Childlike Empress is suffering from.  Atreyu's search eventually leads him to the discovery that only a human child can save the Empress and Fantastica from the Nothing.  This is where Bastian comes in.  Once he enters Fantastica and gives the Childlike Empress her cure, things change.
This is where the movie version ends.  However, the …

Which to Choose?

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Jude Deveraux's TheDuchess, yet another in the Montgomery series (which I will completely knock out one of these days) was a pretty decent read.  While I didn't quite enjoy it as much as some of the others, I did like the fact that it was a quick read with characters that I believed.

Duchess tells the story of Claire Willoughby and her journey to finding a "suitable" husband, as declared by her grandfather.  Claire finds Harry Montgomery, the Duke of MacArran, and a seemingly perfect fit for her grandfather's stipulations.  The engagement is announced and Claire and her family move into the historic castle of her intended.  While there, some interesting things occur.  Claire is thrust into the mix of an extremely eccentric bunch of people, all of whom inhabit the castle.  A mysterious man, Trevelyan, appears in the countryside who draws Claire like a magnate.  Harry starts to show some of his true colors.  People's feelings and true circumstances are revealed.…

Making a Case

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Having spent time living in Scotland, I've been reading some of the contemporary authors that have been products of that beautiful land.  One of my favorites, who I discovered in a random charity shop in Edinburgh, is Christopher Brookmyre who is a wonderful political/crime/whodunit writer.  Another well-known contemporary Edinburgh writer is Ian Rankin, whose books are along the same lines as Brookmyre's.  His Detective Rebus novels have even garnered a television show.  In addition to these two writers, there is Kate Atkinson.  Now, I have never read anything by Atkinson, though she's prevalent on my To-Read list because her novels always sound so interesting, but I ran across an inexpensive used copy of one of her books recently and thought I'd give it a try.

Kate Atkinson's Case Histories was an interesting read.  Not bad...not great...just interesting.  The novel covers a time span of thirty years and three separate cold cases.  Somehow these cases have been …

Sailing the Pacific

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I've put off reading Yann Martel's Life of Pi for years it seems.  I don't know why.  It's been recommended to me several times and touted as a "must read" by many of my friends, mainly Audrey. Maybe that's why I never got around to reading it:  fear of it not stacking up to the hype.  So, while I was in Portland at one of my favorite bookstores, Wallace Books, I saw a used copy for four bucks and finally picked it up.  All I can say is "Thank You" Martel for writing a book that was seriously awesome and thank you Audrey for continually extolling its awesomeness!
Pi follows the story of Pi Patel, a sixteen year old boy who has been shipwrecked while on his way from India to Canada on a Japanese ship.  Before setting sail, Pi and his family have liquidated the zoo that his father manages.  All of the animals have found homes around the world in different zoos and sanctuaries.  However, there are a few animals that embark on the same journey the Pa…

Bossy McBossypants

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"...by the time i got to the interview I was sweating my roommate's BO out of the suit.  The stench of every drink and every cigarette she'd had the last time she wore it filled the high-end office in which I interviewed.  Between the suit, its booze cloud, and my thick virgin eyebrows, I was deemed unfit to answer phones in plain view.  I was turning out to be college educated and unemployable in even the most basic way" (69).
Oh man is Tina Fey a funny lady.  Bossypants, Fey's first autobiography, is quite hilarious.  I had been wanting to read this book for a while now and finally did over a week long Mexican vacation...the perfect place to get some much needed reading done along with some much needed sun on my pasty, white Oregon skin!

Bossypants explains the trials and tribulations of Fey's life.  From her childhood mishaps to certain mishaps in college, from her portrayals of Sarah Palin and other SNL episodes to the birth of her daughter.  The hilarity…

Mistaken Identities

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Jude Deveraux's The Heiress was a pleasant, easy read.  The book is one of the many in the Montgomery series, of which I am rather enjoying.  It's nice because this series does not need to be read in order (though it would probably help to do so in order to see the timeline), which is a wonderful thing seeing as how there are quite a few in it. 

Heiress follows the story of Jamie Montgomery, an impoverished knight, and Axia, an extremely wealthy heiress.  Jamie is taxed with escorting Axia to her newly arranged husband, a mission that will supply him with a nice nest egg to help his two sisters as well as himself.  Of course he would be even more well off if he could get Axia to fall in love and marry him, thus inheriting her entire fortune.  His sisters further spur the mission toward this outcome.  Unbeknownst to Jamie, Axia and her cousin Frances, her only companion aside from Tode the jester, have decided to pretend to be each other and trick Jamie along the way.  With this…

Teaser Tuesday...Not Such a Secret Lover

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Going to be starting a quick read to catch up on my Goodreads Challenge list...I'm a few books behind.  So here's an excerpt from Julia London's The Secret Lover:

"They were two scarred people, two outcasts in an imperfect world....But they were perfect for each other" (170).
Sounds promising as a quick read...and unbelievable in its romanticism...joy!

Teaser Tuesday...Music's Healing Powers

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With the end of the term in sight, I promise to get caught up on my reviews.  I have a pile of seven books sitting next to my computer...all read...all waiting to be reviewed.  Ugh.  In addition to that, I will be adding yet another to said pile in a few days because I'm nearly halfway through with The Diplomat's Wife, which I posted a teaser for last week just before starting it.  Despite my serious lack of reviewing (damn you student essays!), I am still posting teasers for new books that I'm starting.  So, without further ado, here's today's teaser from Alexander McCall Smith's La's Orchestra Saves the World:

"The music reminded her:  love and loss were inextricably linked.  This world was a world of suffering; music helped to make that suffering bearable" (109).

Poetry Is Awesome

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"Poetry is the kind of thing poets write." ~Robert Frost~
Another great meme has been brought to my attention recently and I think it's fitting that I should participate.  This meme, Poetry Fridays, was started by The Thoughts of a Book Junky, a great blog that I've been following for about a year now.  The premise of the meme is pretty much how it sounds.  Every Friday those participating would post a poem that they particularly enjoy in order to expose people to poetry they might not generally encounter.  I love this for several reasons.  One, for the past two Winter terms I have had the pleasure of teaching Introduction to Poetry, where I am able to expose students to poets and poetry that they have never encountered before; some students having never encountered poetry at all.  Two, I happen to really enjoy poetry.  And three, I like that I can include poetry through this medium that isn't necessarily applicable to the introductory level classroom.  Not only th…