The Glorian Legacy Series by A.L. Raine is about to begin.
Not long before it’s in print for you to read and enjoy! For now, here’s the cover!
Cover art by Gershom Wetzel of Aoristos.
Title: Mercy Watson Fights Crime
Author: Kate DiCamillo
I heard a rumor that Kate DiCamillo used to work for Half Price Books. With that being said, and me being an event coordinator for the company, I am bound and determined to get her in my store. So of course, I have to read everything she wrote aloud to my daughter in the interim.
And the kiddo loved Mercy Watson. It’s an easy reader chapter book with lots of pictures, and after sitting through countless Magic Tree House books, her attention span is right on par with these pig stories.
I highly recommend Mercy Watson books for toddlers on up to kiddos who can read this for themselves (8 years?). Mercy is highly entertaining as are her co-stars.
And for the Adults in the room…
Title: Don’t Die By Your Own Hands
Author: Reeshemah Holmes
I booked nutrition coach Reeshemah Holmes for a book signing at Half Price Books in Humble. The signing was just last night and she was kind enough to give me a copy of her book to read and review.
It truly is a busy person’s guide. It’s just shy of 70 pages and depending on your reading speed could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to conquer. I read it right before heading to bed after coming home from the signing.
It’s a great motivational tool for those who have already selected a diet plan; encouraging them not with a specific diet, but the tools to stick to the diet they’ve chosen as a lifestyle rather than a fad.
Don’t Die By Your Own Hands is definitely worth while for anyone wanting to change their life but uncertain of their power to do so… or someone who is convinced that they can change at any time, but haven’t changed yet.
For homeschooling parents who read my blog, this is also a good book to hand your teens as a lifestyle guide to follow their sports/ P.E. programs and rituals. There’s a lot of good advice about handling goals, nutrition, and staying healthy mentally in order to stay healthy physically.
Although Rebecca Kent (also known as Kate Kingsbury or Doreen Roberts) is not English, her Bellehaven Finishing School is, as are all the household staff and students. Well to do Edwardian Brits send their daughters to the care of Meredith Llewellyn, a widowed headmistress who sees ghosts! Not just any ghosts, though, of course only ones that have been killed off before their time!
A sort of “Ghostwhisperer” (tv show starring Jennifer Love Hewitt portraying a woman who talks to ghosts and coerces them to go to the light) for lovers of period pieces and proper society and pesky suffragettes, Kent’s cozy mysteries are just the right medicine to hunker down with while recovering from a Spring cold, hayfever, and all those other things that come with the changing weather.
I’ve finished reading High Marks for Murder, am currently reading Finished Off, and cannot wait to begin Murder Has No Class. Although the series was cut off by the publishers trying to pinch pennies in this recession, the author has wrapped up some loose ends for us here on her website: http://www.doreenrobertshight.com/id4.html.
As a kid, I remember being completely infatuated with Red Badge of Courage. But there was a time around the ages of nine and ten when anything to do with the Civil War was fascinating. About the same time when teachers brain wash you with the “history” that all things Union were good and righteous (the way Fanny Price and Jane Eyre are good and righteous), and all things Confederate are sinful and misguided, a nuisance the Union had to deal with like Ramona the Pest before she learns her lesson, leaving out all the important political stuff regarding state’s rights.
Now, as an adult re-reading this elementary school favorite by Stephen Crane, I find my childhood obsessions a bit morbid and unfamiliar. The only thing I feel inclined to get excited about is the memory of the excitement over the names of two characters: Rogers and Fleming. My maiden name is Rogers and my real live Hilary Whitney Beaches-like pen pal’s last name is Fleming. (I only dub her as Hilary because between the two of us I’m the only one loud enough to compete with Bette Midler.)
Looking back, it must have been the tomboy in me, appreciating lines like: “When in a dream, it occurred to the youth that his rifle was an impotent stick, he lost sense of everything but his hate, his desire to smash into pulp the glittering smile of victory which he could feel upon the faces of his enemies.” (Chp. 17) Because admit it, that’s a sentence worthy of Twain’s Huck Finn – and all little boys want to be Huck Finn, and all little tomboys want to marry him (as Tom Sawyer’s love is reserved for the girls in ruffled dresses).
In short, not until this book have I been so sure in my decision to have Ayla keep reading review journals from the second she can read and write sentences. I long to know what my specific thoughts were on this book, as I can’t recapture more than a vague idea of having loved it. What was my ten year old self thinking? It’s a good, well written book of irony, but nowhere do I truly see the appeal to a third to fourth grade girl since the majority of the book features a lot of running around and “men, punched by bullets, fall[ing] in grotesque agonies.” (Chp. 19)
I enjoyed the anecdotes quite a bit, this parrot learns to say this, that elephant painted that, this species is documented as feeling empathy towards that species in a rare moment, the monkeys are a lot like us, but so are the fish etc. etc. I agree with most the points, animal cruelty is wrong, experimentation needs to have stricter rules, we should treat the animal world with respect. However, I don’t want to become a vegetarian and I didn’t care for how the opening and ending arguments basically boiled down this beautiful essay to we shouldn’t eat meat. Apparently that’s what this was about to them, to me this book was about how beautifully complex our world is, but I can’t argue with the authors themselves. By the end of the book they had achieved a level of redundancy I don’t think I’ve ever managed to read in any other book my whole life. This book’s saving grace was those amazing animals that starred in it, but if I hear /read the word “anthropomorphism” I think I’ll scream, and if someone tries to guilt trip me out of eating my steak I’ll kindly smile, cut, and chew. And if I’m told I’m a bad person for taking my daughter to the zoo, well, I’m sorry you feel that way, I’m going anyway.
Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady is quite possibly one of the most depressing novels of all time. Although there are numerous sentences throughout the book that I would deem some of my favorite quotes, the book as a whole put me in a sad, sad state, and not a deep whimsical sadness like that of Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, just sad. Isabel Archer gets used terribly ill, poor Caspar Goodwood will never have peace, the rotten Osmond gets to keep his prize, and the manipulative Madame Merle (whom I do feel a bit sorry for, but only a bit) gets to runaway to America and leave her consequences behind her. The “incredible twist” towards the end of the book did not seem like a twist at all, but rather was much expected.
A Review of Legends of the Fall, a novella by Jim Harrison
I only read The Legends of the Fall novella of this book, not the other short stories and novellas. That being said, I was disappointed with this short piece. After growing up watching the sweeping epic film, the novella felt too quick, there were no moments to pause on the beautiful despair of it all. Although they are almost exactly the same (aside from the fact that Tristan and Susannah were actually married in the book and there was a lot of time spent on Susannah’s mental instability) I feel as though the film makers did well with the screenplay and turned mere 80 pages into something amazing. Obviously, kudos to Jim Harrison for his awesome original storyline – but when it comes down to it – I’ll hypocritically watch the movie on repeat before I re-read the book.
Kidnappings, betrayal, damsels in distress, and rogues to make you swoon fill this high adventure tale of intrigue as we are unwittingly introduced to the ancestors of the illusive scarlet pimpernel.
In Baroness Orczy’s old familiar style of classic romantic suspense, The Laughing Cavalier follows a Pride and Prejudice sort of story as the Holland native Gilda is kidnapped by a man she initially loathes named Diogenes. In that regards, the book is as lovely as expected, its only downfall coming towards the end of the book when Orczy awkwardly and only momentarily switches tenses for a few chapters.
After reading this, one cannot wait to read the next installment of the Pimpernel series: The First Sir Percy.
(written based on notes from a book club meeting with Lauren Davis of http://lollygabber.wordpress.com/)
Love in the Time of Cholerais not an engrossing love story as some will tell you; it is nothing more than a brilliant essay on the illusions of love. Set in the late 1800’s, Florentino Ariza falls in love with Fermina Daza, they have a three year long affair in letters and then she ends it with one short phrase: “What is between us is nothing more than an illusion,” and then marries another. Fifty one years, nine months, and four days later, her husband Dr. Juvenal Urbino dies and her teenage flame Ariza presents himself again at the funeral. Despite all his many sexual affairs throughout his life he has supposedly saved his heart all these years for Fermina Daza alone.
Much like Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Florentino Ariza is in love with soap operas and romance novels, so much so all his letters to Daza when they are young read just like one. He is so involved with the idea of romance after Fermina’s rejection of him he makes a pass time writing love letters for other couples. Ariza is all youthful passion and intensity saying, “Age has no reality except in the physical world. The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom. Think of love as a state of grace, not the means to anything, but the alpha and omega. An end in itself.” Needless to say, he’s all swoon and flowery words as he makes his way into the bed of over six hundred women in the course of his life while pretending to be faithful to only Fermina. None of the women know about the others and each is told that she is his first and only, perpetuating Ariza’s illusion of himself that he is a heart sick and loyal love puppy in need of nurturing.
In the mean time, Fermina Daza has married a very clinical man, its no mistake that Garcia has written this character to be a doctor by profession, who is overly concerned with appearances. Dr. Juvenal Urbino loves classic literature, does not listen to “popular” music like Ariza, but music he imagines gives him the right to look condescendingly on other’s tastes. Fermina takes part in this illusion of high society that her husband has chosen, most likely having married him for it in the first place as they have very little in common. She prefers all the opposite things, helping the reader understand why she was captivated by Ariza in the first place – he wrote to her beautiful letters, like the love stories she was enraptured by. Ariza learned to play the violin when they were young and played her beautiful music, “popular” quixotic pieces from the street.
Garret Wilson writes in his review: “[…]Fermina was trying to fool the world, Florentino was consumed with fooling himself. Fermina Daza’s claim that Florentino Ariza was not in love with her, that he was merely infatuated with some ethereal concept of the woman perfect for him, is certainly not baseless.” (http://www.garretwilson.com/books/lovetimecholera.html)
However, I also believe that the idea that the Urbino’s fifty one year long marriage not having a true element of love to it is also not unfounded. Their relationship was based purely on an act of will, as if willing themselves to love would be enough, as though creating an illusion of a happy marriage would trick not just the world but themselves that their marriage was a happy one. It becomes all too obvious that their relationship could not stand on its own two feet when after his death Fermina’s idea of his character is blown totally out of the water and she believes him to have had an affair with their family friend just because someone insinuates it. A woman with a true and solid relationship based in honest love could not go fifty one years and still not know if her husband ever loved her. Dr. Joyce Brothers says, “The best proof of love is trust.” Clearly, neither of them really loved the other.
Love is a choice, but it is also a passionate driving force. This book makes it quite obvious that two people must have more than just passion and more than an act of will, there must be balance. In 1 Corinthians chapter 13, it states, “Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy. It does not boast and it is not proud; it’s not rude or self seeking. Love is not easily angered and it keeps no record of wrong, it does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” Needless to say, sometimes it takes a lot of work and a lot of persistence to love someone and in this both Urbino and Ariza had it half right. But there is also something to be said for the poetry of love, and in this Ariza went so far it seemed insincere, and Urbino neglected it altogether. When it came to having the whole package, all three of these characters seemed to have gotten it so wrong, treating love like the plague that swept through the nation: either something of great force that snuck up on them, or an ailment that they’d have to spend a long time living with.
I promised myself I would write more complete reviews this year, keep my blog updated and all that, but after reading Edward Gibb’s Christians and the Fall of Rome I just don’t have a lot to say. I got tired reading it. Despite its short hundred pages I found it difficult to focus on the topic. Gibb spent a lot of the essay comparing Christianity to various mythologies and its a good thing to read and be familiar with differing viewpoints, but I found his writing style tiring and without passion. So I just didn’t care. I will have to re-read it with Ayla when we study the history of Christianity as well as when we cover the Greek and Roman Empire, but I’ll need a good solid pot of coffee in my system to do so. I suppose that’s my review…