Haunting Jasmine

July 11, 2015 at 12:58 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I have a cousin I’ve never met.  She married my actual cousin that I grew up playing with on a good chunk of our weekends when we were kids – and special holidays – so she’s not really MY cousin, but I have a habit of adopting people that way.  My family is weird, he’s the great grandson of my Grandfather’s sister, but I spent more time with their family than a lot of people spend with first cousins.  Unfortunately, he flitted away out of state and I haven’t had a chance to spend time with his lovely bride.

She’s been a published author for quite awhile now, longer than I’ve been running this blog, but I had conveniently lodged that information into some lost corner of my brain – until recently, as he and I played Scrabble over Facebook.

Anjali Banerjee is the lovely woman my awesome cousin chose to spend the rest of his life with and I’m so pleased to finally read one of her books.  While reading Haunting Jasmine, I felt like perhaps we were kindred spirits, as we have both written about bookstores, and clearly have a mutual passion for the written word.

She’s just way better at using those words than I am!

Title: Haunting Jasmineabanerjee-2l-haunting

Author: Anjali Banerjee

Genre: Women’s Fiction

If you’re in the mood for a haunted bookshop, a fabulous Indian aunt, a god hanging out with Dr. Seuss, Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, and a number of other ghosts – then you might need to find yourself a copy of Haunting Jasmine.  Set in the north west, there’s a nice bit of ocean, some chilly weather, rain, hot tea, and a divorcee you might want to spend a day with in Seattle.

The writing is easy to get into, and she made lucky choice to use the word wafted – we all know how much I love that word, I think.

There’s a bit of a romance, but nothing too over the top to actually place it in the romance genre – it’s more about Jasmine and her journey to understanding herself and the nature of her aunt’s shop.

It’s definitely worth a bubble bath or day off, and I’m not just saying that because I’m biased. 🙂

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The Haunted Bookshop

January 22, 2015 at 9:52 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

“It’s one of the uncanniest things I know to watch a real book on its career – it follows you and follows you and drives you into a corner and makes you read it. […] Words can’t describe the cunning of some books.  You’ll think you’ve shaken them off your trail, and then one day some innocent-looking customer will pop in and begin to talk, and you’ll now he’s an unconscious agent of book-destiny.” – pg. 121, The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

The Haunted BookshopTitle: The Haunted Bookshop

Author: Christopher Morley

Length: 265 pages

I am constantly haunted by books.  As a reviewer your TBR pile grows and grows, but there are books that you want to read that no one is asking you to that sit and lurk until finally they demand that you pick them up.

I purchased The Haunted Bookshop years ago; it was the same time I bought Parnassus on Wheels.  Nearly two years after finally reading my first encounter with Morley, I’ve finally been hunted down and captured by his wonderful sequel.

“There’s only one way to lay the ghost of a book, and that is to read it.”

haunted shopNow that I’ve revisited Roger and Helen Mifflin, however, I just want more.  I want to know what happens after this glorious book fetish mystery.  After Parnassus on Wheels, it was exciting to see Mr. and Mrs. Mifflin after they settled down.  But now I want to know: how does all the inadvertent advertising change the face of Mr. Mifflin’s business.  I want to hang out with these fine people until we experience their inevitable deaths.  Favorite characters deserve that much, for their fans to sob at their memorials.

Mostly, I adore Mr. Mifflin’s constant book recommendations.  As long as people love books there will be books about bookstores, I am convinced, because the truly bookish seek out recommendations from their favorite characters, always.  That was the romance, for me, in writing The Bookshop Hotel.  I hope in time that fans will see more similarities in my work to Christopher Morley than to Debbie Macomber (of whom my writing has been compared) and the like.   Ultimately, however, I’m happy with however I am categorized as long as people are enjoying them.

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Do You Believe in Ghosts?

August 4, 2014 at 4:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

the_thirteenth_taleTitle: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Length: 406 pages
Publisher: I read from the Atria Books Book Club Edition

The first time I read this book it was July of 2011. I was no longer on maternity leave, but my daughter still seemed very, very small. We were a sleepy household then, despite her running around long before her playmates and peers had begun taking their first steps. I remember mostly listening to this book on audio because I had a hard time keeping my eyes open when I was home – but I wasn’t actually napping ever. It was excellent and I adored it. That’s why I encouraged the HPB book club to read it for our August discussion that will take place tomorrow night (August 4th, 2014).

One of my fellow clubbers emailed me already, saying he only gave the book a 5.5 out of 10. He had questions I can’t repeat in a review due to spoilers. I had meant to take this month off and discuss from memory, but his questions and low rating for a book I remember describing as the perfect tale forced me to pick it up and read it again.

And I discovered that I disagree with him…

I feared I would have my mind changed by time and growth. I feared I would have read so many wonderful things since my first reading that somehow the magic wouldn’t shine to brightly and mysteriously the second time around. I feared the ghost story wouldn’t feel so ghostly, knowing the ending.

But my fears were unwarranted, because I still loved it. I loved it all.

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” – pg. 9

thDiane Setterfield has expert hands. She manipulates words deftly. She takes a reader prisoner with her storytelling. Vida Winter winds herself around your limbs like spider silk and will enthrall you. Charlie will render you so terrified you will not move, except to turn the page; Adeline March will pierce your skin, and become a knot stuck in your throat; Isabelle will enter your blood and startle you; Emmeline will numb your thoughts. It is the best, most believable ghost story I’ve ever read.

Also this week, I’ve watched the BBC screen version of the story. Yes, there were a few things changed, much left out, but overall I was pleased with the production.  We were able to watch it on youtube.

First of all, it was brilliantly cast with Vanessa Redgrave.  I adore her and she is exactly how I imagined someone like Vida Winter to be.  She appears in so many of my literature to film favorites, like Atonement, Howards End, and Mrs. Dalloway.  She’s such a classy lady.  I must say, too, that I think she looks fabulous with Vida’s red hair.

Some people express a distaste for the “name-dropping,” the characters discussing books and how they shaped their lives.  There are a lot of Jane Eyre references.  If you’ve read my book (The Bookshop Hotel) you’d know that I am not one to find this unfavorable.  In fact, that is my favorite sort of  book, and it is in this fashion that I have discovered my most cherished reading experiences: from characters who pointed me in the right direction.  Characters always have more impact on me than real people.  They have no stake in it, I can trust them, they gain nothing by convincing me or failing to convince me to choose a certain book or behave a certain way.  For this I love them.  For this I respect them more than the living and breathing.

Only a character could get me to listen to a ghost story with an open mind.  Only a character can bring to life the fantastical, the magic, the mystery, and the excitement of a ghost story.  Only a character could make me see and understand a ghost.

Do you believe in ghosts?  No? Read The Thirteenth Tale and Vida Winter might change your mind.

 

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Ghosts, Suffragettes, and Skirts, Oh My!

March 4, 2011 at 3:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

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.

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The Lovely Bones

January 24, 2010 at 8:13 pm (Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

I read this book a few years ago, actually, but with it being so wildly popular again I realized I never wrote a review.

The Lovely Bones is a bit tragic, terrible in its opening rape and murder, hazy with a metaphysical view of heaven, and sad as the family surviving the deceased fourteen year old attempt to function with one less person in the household.  Its beautifully written despite its harsh plot points and terrifying point of view, but reading Alice Sebold’s memoir Lucky will help you understand her approach to the story.  I highly recommend for 14-18 year old girls to read as a warning to pay attention to what’s going on around you and that the wise choices in life are not always polite nor do they quench certain curiosities.
Buy The Lovely Bones

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Gloriously Symmetrical

January 18, 2010 at 12:32 am (Reviews, The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

As beautiful as The Time Traveler’s Wife is, Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry is awful.  Every moment, every line is filled with mystery, sadness, and the terrible selfishness of humanity.  I loved it.

People have described this second novel as disappointing.  I feel as though it was done on purpose.  I cried on page one, knowing that the rest of the book could not be even remotely as beautiful or as happy; and by the end I had been disappointed by every character so often, I merely settled into a sigh of understanding.  Of course it ends this way, of course.  The novel was gloriously backwards, in comparison to Niffenegger’s first book, just as Valentina is a backward version of Julia.

If you read it, I think you’ll understand my meaning.

Buy Her Fearful Symmetry

If you liked it, I also recommend:

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold (although The Lovely Bones is not nearly as fascinating, the writing is most excellent)

The Mercy of Thin Air – Domingue (equally calm and spooky, but add a southern American drawl)

Swan – Frances Mayes (for the characters and her always amazing prose, also set in the American south)

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The Ghost and Mrs. McClure by Alice Kimberly

November 29, 2009 at 8:53 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

The first of the Haunted Bookshop Mystery Series is adorable.  I want to shop Buy the Book (a small bookstore that reminds me of Houston’s Murder By the Book), hug Penelope McClure, and exchange witty dialogue with her resident ghost P.I. Jack Shepard.  Like her Coffee House Mystery Series (written under the name Cleo Coyle), Alice Kimberly’s bookshop murders are fun, endearing, and most importantly, cozy.

Buy it Here!

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