Get Ready for HPB Humble’s 1st Book Club Meeting!

August 30, 2012 at 1:52 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I made and printed little post cards in preparation of the September 3rd Book Club Meeting (8pm-9pm at HPB Humble!).  We will be discussing Koen’s Through a Glass Darkly.  Feel free to print a copy for yourself.

Pamela Aidan

Paul Anderson

Jean Auel

Bernard Cornwell

Umberto Eco

Karen Essex

Diana Gabaldon

Kathleen O’Neal and W. Michael Gear

Pauline Gedge

Margaret George

Philippa Gregory

Karen Harper

Melinda McGuire

Michelle Moran

Delaney Rhodes

Anya Seton

Anne Easter Smith

Wesley Stace

Also…

Eleanor Hibbert, who also writes under the names:

Jean Plaidy

Victoria Holt

Philippa Carr

Eleanor Burford

Elbur Ford

Kathleen Kellow

Anne Percival

Ellalice Tate

Don’t forget we will be meeting the first Monday of the month through out the Fall/Winter 2012.  Here’s this season’s reading roster:

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Through a Glass Darkly – A Review

August 16, 2012 at 6:46 am (Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

I am reading from a first edition. Click the image to view the most recent book cover.

Title: Through a Glass Darkly

Author: Karleen Koen

Publisher: Random House

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 743 pages

*Spoilers*

Depressing. Intense. Captivating. Intriguing. Dramatic. I end this book exhausted.

Karleen Koen has effectively dragged me tooth and nail, screaming, begging to stop, through roughly 6 years (if I followed the timeline correctly) of Lady Barbara Alderly Montgeoffrey’s life.  It was long, excruciating, and well, brilliant.  I am so tired, feeling as though I lived through it myself, and wonder how Koen managed to write 700 pages of this 1700’s soap opera without bawling her eyes out daily.  The children die, the brother commits suicide, the husband has a male lover… can anything go right in this poor woman’s life? The only solace was knowing it was fiction, although I was constantly reminded of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire whose life was pretty awful and unfortunately true.

Even more, up until the last few pages, I wondered how on earth two more novels could possibly follow this one (I didn’t realize while reading that Dark Angels is a prequel, not a third piece of Barbara’s life).  But now, I find myself itching to get to the library or book store to see if the second book (Now Face to Face) is available.  What will happen to Barbara in Virgina?  It’s ridiculous how a book I whimpered through has me so captivated – guilty pleasure at its finest.  It seems I’m full of guilty pleasures lately, what with my recent Cassandra Clare binge.

I feel terrible reviewing this book, describing it so crudely.  Koen states on her site:

“This was such an innocent experience for me, writing without realizing others would read me and have opinions about everything. I’ll never be able to write with the innocence this book displays, but it’s my goal.”

and I don’t wish to be the person that adds to that loss of innocence.  The book is good, it really is.  Just probably isn’t the best of books to read while plodding through Les Miserables.  It makes it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the middle of a rough week!

I can’t wait to discuss this book with other readers, as this is the first official Half Price Books Humble Book Club pick.  Koen is a Houston resident, so I thought having a local author on the Book Club’s first set of titles would be both exciting and appropriate.  The meeting will be held September 3rd from 8 – 9pm, led by yours truly, and I’m getting very antsy.  There’s still time to pick up a copy and read the book in time to join the discussion! You won’t be sorry, and there will be more exciting event announcements for September to come… So stay tuned, and start enjoying your Karleen Koen binge now.

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The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

May 3, 2010 at 12:48 am (JARS, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

Ruiz revisits the world of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books first introduced in Shadow of the Wind and presents us with a strangely philosophical mystery of life, death, love, and literature.  Uniquely captivating from start to finish, the story unravels in such a way that in the end, like the narrator, I was still wondering who exactly had died and who had survived.  I highly recommend The Angel’s Game (and The Shadow of the Wind) to any book lover.

Buy Books Here

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Rosalind Miles’ Guenevere

April 21, 2010 at 12:23 am (JARS, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country:
The First of the Guenevere Novels by Rosalind Miles

Though racier than I would have liked, Rosalind Miles portrays the Arthurian Romance of Guenevere, Arthur, and Lancelot exactly how I should think someone going for historical and religious accuracy should. Miles captures the thoughts and rituals of the pagans well and interweaves the young Christian societies the way they must have seemed to the Druids of the time. This first chapter of Guenevere’s life shows the gradual change from pagan feminism to the changing views of the times that brought women to more submissive roles, as she is caught between a husband trying to be a Christian King and an upbringing where royalty was passed down through the female line with sexual freedoms to boot. Can’t wait to read the second and third parts.

Click Here to Purchase

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Unexpected Gem

December 18, 2009 at 4:31 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

The Reader is a touching coming of age novel that reads like a  memoir.  Reminiscent of McEwan’s Atonement in its themes of shame and intense raw humanity, Schlink constantly begs the question from his characters and his readers: “What would you have done?”  The humility of illiteracy, ignorance, and confinement brought tears to my eyes.  I found The Reader to be an unexpected gem.

Purchase The Reader

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The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason

November 27, 2009 at 4:09 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

Piano TunerThe Piano Tuner reads like a distant memory.  Mason’s story is woven like a song you feel you’ve heard before even from its very first notes, bringing you to a state of foggy nostalgia.  His cadence as he writes is lovely, “Details emerge from soot stains and ashes” as you become acquainted his eccentric characters.  The characters themselves remain endearing, pensive, and beautiful even in a time of war and betrayal.  It could quite possibly be the saddest story I ever read, but
“‘It doesn’t matter. It is just a story, I suppose.’ ‘Yes, Mr. Drake […] They are all just stories.'”

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