June 27, 2008
The Mother Superior agrees to admit Margherita to their order. But first, she must give up the ruby ring she wears on her left hand, the ring she had worn in Raphael’s scandalous nude “engagement portrait.” The ring has a storied past, and it must be returned to the Church or Margherita will be cast out into the streets. Behind the quiet walls of the convent, Margherita makes her decision . . . and remembers her life with Raphael—and the love and torment—embodied in that one precious jewel.
Well, if you take a look back at my last posting, you'll know that Roman artists aren't usually my choice for literary focus. I can't decide necessarily how I feel about this book. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it my favorite historical fiction novel I've ever read? No. The love story between the two characters was very well done. It made sense where the transition from being stubborn toward one another turned into passion.
I guess my main issue lies with Haeger's writing. Sometimes it seems a bit repetitive in this book, which is something that I did not see in her other work that I've read: Courtesan. I wanted to scream if I heard Margherita referred to one more time as "the baker's daughter." We get it, she's poor and of a lower class than the famous artist. Ultimately, I did enjoy the book and am happy to have it in my personal library at home. I may even reread it someday when my TBR pile dwindles down a bit.
Up next? I'm rereading the Harry Potter series because it's been a year since I've read them all. Laugh if you want to, but I love these books and will gladly spend however much time is necessary to reread all seven of Rowling's masterpieces.
June 24, 2008
Today I was thinking about my trend in reading. I don't mean choosing historical fiction, because that's quite obviously what I am most often drawn to. But I typically also veer toward specific historical figures when choosing a story to read. Now, why I do this? I have no idea. Some because they were genuinely interesting people with lives that could read like a bad soap opera. (Come on, Henry VIII hooking up with Mary Boleyn only to trade her in to marry her own sister, thus breaking with the church and declaring his own divorce? All My Children or Days Of Our Lives would KILL for that!)
I think my favorites are stories about Henry VIII and his many, many, many wives. That sort of automatically makes The Boleyn family rather interesting and one of my favorites as well. I must have at least 25-30 books revolving around these characters on my TBR pile. And I am anxious to read every single one of them. Going along with Henry, the entire Tudor dynasty is intriguing. They, Richard III, and French courtesans capture my interest with only a single word.
My attempts have been to broaden my historical fiction scope. Hence why I am reading the Haeger book now... it is about a painter in 1520 Rome and the woman he falls in love with. But that's for another day.
Next post look for my review! Happy reading!
June 20, 2008
This one centers around three friends: Leigh, Emmy, and Adrianna. Leigh is in publishing and lives the "perfect life" that leaves her feeling slightly empty. Emmy is the one with only eyes for marriage and tries to make a life change to be a little more "loose with it." And that leaves Adrianna. She's one of the most beautiful women in NYC who is a bit Samantha Jones. She, naturally, tries a shot at monogamy and a job for the first time in her life. The story revolves around the idea of endless friendship and personal growth.
Again, I did like this book a reasonable amount. It wasn't nearly as good as her others, but it still was enjoyable if you like these chick lit kind of books, which I do when I need a break from serious historical fiction. Weisberger's type of writing sort of cleanses my reading palate. After all of the ones I have read lately, this book was a sort of breath of fresh literary air. Something simple and sweet and really easy to read. I just wish Weisberger could muster up enough storyline to compete with her best book to date, The Devil Wears Prada. I doubt she'll ever be able to recapture that magic.
I know I said I was happy for a break from historical fiction, but come on... I can't stay away that long. Up next for me is Diane Haeger's The Ruby Ring.
June 16, 2008
That is not to say that the book is reflective of the calibur of Austen's work, because it most certainly is not. Perhaps one of the main reasons that I liked this so much is simply because I love Pride & Prejudice so much. I will never tire of Elizabeth and Darcy's love for one another. However, I do not think that Grange captured the essence of Mr. Darcy as well as she perhaps could have. Bingley, Jane, Elizabeth, and the other Bennetts were done very well, in my humble opinion. She did fail for me in representing Darcy the way I think that Austen meant him to be.
It is rather interesting to see how Grange interpreted the scenes in which Austen only told us about and did not let us see: Lydia and Wickham's wedding, what Caroline Bingley said after Elizabeth left the room, and most importantly, what Darcy said to Mr. Bennett when he asked for permission to marry Elizabeth. Those were the parts that I enjoyed the most. It allowed for Grange's voice to be heard as an author as opposed to her trying to incorporate her style with actual dialogue from Austen's novel.
On the whole, I enjoyed the book. I will read Grange's other Austen inspired novels after I refresh myself on the novels that she interprets (she also takes on Mr. Knightley, Captain Wentworth, and Edmund Bertram).
Next up: Lauren Weisberger's third novel: Chasing Harry Winston. Come on, I'm on vacation, it's expected that I read a little chick lit!
June 15, 2008
Medieval Scotland comes to life in Holling's tantalizing trilogy, and each book is moving and engrossing, as each tormented hero is saved, not by the powers of the MacDonell sisters but by their love. Through her alluring characters, Holling celebrates the triumph of good over evil, especially in dangerous times, and no one should miss these fine romances.
First of all, greetings from Cancun, Mexico! I wish that I could begin to explain the beauty of this place, but it would do no justice. Perhaps once I'm back in the states I will post a photo or two so that you all can be jealous.
But on to the real reason you are here. I recently finished this Jen Holling book on my plane ride. As the synopsis says, it is the second in the trilogy about three witches from Scotland. The romance in these books floor me. I really end up loving the characters and am almost as desperate for them to fall in love as they, in the book, are. I find that these aren't quite "amazing," but definitely do not deserve to be shelved with those other really trashy romances with equally lame titles and covers. This trilogy is quite good. One of the things that I love the most about it is that you can literally read it in one day without taking a ridiculous amount of time out of your day. It's light and fun and exciting.
Right now I am reading Amanda Grange's Mr. Darcy's Diary. I started it this morning by the pool and am already half way through it. Which means two things: 1) it's that good and enjoyable. and 2) that I spent way too much by the pool today and probably burnt my poor Irish skin to a crisp. Bah, it's worth it to get inside the mind of the greatest male character of all time: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Come on, how could any girl not have a crush on him?
June 12, 2008
I finally dove into the "Lord John" series after falling in love with Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander" books, which any historical fiction fan will tell you are fantastic! The tales about Lord John are not nearly as entertaining as those about Jamie Fraser, but I don't think they're supposed to be. Lord John's story is about mystery. Jamie's is more about his love for his wife.
However, I do not at all feel that the "Lord John" series should get as bad of a reputation as it does. I was quite thrilled with this book. There's murder, mystery, love, whores, and cross-dressing. What more could a book possibly contain? Look, if you liked the "Outlander" books, give this one a try and keep an open mind. If you go into reading this with the expectation that it won't surpass Jamie's adventures, then you'll be pleasantly content with it. I plan on buying the other two books in the series once they're out on paperback. Gabaldon's caught me again, and I am curious where she is going to take Lord John Grey.
Next up: Jen Holling's My Devilish Scotsman
P.S. I apologize if I am absent for a bit. I will be on vacation in Mexico and may not have time to get back on to post. But stay tuned, I plan on having lots to talk about!
June 10, 2008
1) Amanda Grange - Mr. Darcy's Diary
2) Diane Haeger - The Ruby Ring
3) Jen Holling - My Devilish Scotsman
4) Sophie Kinsella - Confessions of a Shopaholic
5) Annie Sanders - Goodbye, Jimmy Choo
6) Lauren Weisberger - Chasing Harry Winston
I am really excited about these six choices. Although from my personal collection I could not have chosen a book that I wouldn't enjoy. Truly, I really want to reread the Harry Potter series because I've only read them all once (I'm ashamed). I am not ashamed at being 22 and wanting to reread those books. I am ashamed that I have only read them once... just so we're clear about that. I decided against them for the trip though because they are so heavy, which won't work with the weight limit that airports give you now-a-days. Regardless, I am very excited to get after this list and see how many I can actually read poolside.
On a non-book related note: I am officially a college graduate. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. It's all very exciting and a bit weird. But mostly exciting. Starting a new chapter of my life.
I belong to a community within my LibraryThing community called “Book of the Month.” Here, the members, about six of us total, at the first of every month, report on the previous month’s books we all read. We then go on to choose a favorite among out own lists. In January of 2009, we will review every book that was chosen from each month by all of us and then collectively pick a favorite. Whoever has not read said book, must do so (or we cut off a finger for every month that reading that book is delayed, we’re sort of passionate about this whole thing…. just kidding, obviously). But anywho, I realize that LibraryThing is not everyone’s thing. I decided in addition to sharing my reads with my LT friends that I would share it here as well.
1. Alexandra Robbins - Pledged- I had actually already read this, but really enjoyed it and wanted something kind of different from my typical fiction to read. It’s obviously about sorority life. Robbins shadowed a few sorority girls around their campus and wrote a tell-all book about it, including a bunch of research that she did. It was based on southern sororities, because as a member of an Ohio sorority, Greek like is not the way it is written about in this book up here. All in all, it was interesting. Something I would recommend every sorority girl to read… but if you’re on the fence about rushing, maybe don’t read this… especially if you’re rushing in Ohio.
2. Candace Bushnell - Sex And The City - Another reread… this one was in honor of the release of the movie. I generally don’t like this book because the television series was so fabulous (sorry to drop the f-bomb, but it’s the only word that can be rightly used). However, it is a staple book in every chick lit collection.
3. Jean Plaidy - Loyal In Love - Also called Myself My Enemy. I loved this book, it’s the story of Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. It mostly revolves around religion struggles but also focuses on the romance between Henrietta and Charles. I love anything Jean Plaidy, and I ate this book right up.
4. Michel Faber - The Crimson Petal and the White - This was one was tough to get through… not because it wasn’t good. It was phenomenal (and was my pick for the month). However, it’s roughly 850 pages. So it felt like it took FOREVER to read. It’s all about a prostitute’s rise from the lowest whorehouse to dwelling in a middle class home. Faber is called the “modern day Dickens,” and I think is just as brilliant.
5. Jeffrey Eugenides - The Virgin Suicides - I loved this book. It came in a close second place for my pick of the month. I always wanted to read this after loving the movie. It did not disappoint. It is very depressing and is definitely written in a distinct style. But it’s fantastic, in my humble opinion.
6. Georgette Heyer - Cotillion - If you haven’t gotten the gist of my reading preferences, then allow me to clarify. I love romances set in the past. Historical fiction with romance in it, typically regency writing or during the Tudor era… but I’m not picky. This was no exception. Heyer very much so puts me in the mind of Jane Austen, only different. She’s tough to put into words, but I loved this book. And it certainly will not be the last Heyer book I read.
So there you have it folks, my May reads. June will no doubt bring many, many more as I have a vacation coming up that will be consumed by reading on the beach. And since school is out, I plan on lots more time in the sun with a good book.
Pride and Prejudice may seem like an obvious choice. But I don’t care, it’s my choice. I am a self-proclaimed romantic. What on Earth is more romantic than the relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth? The dynamics of that relationship are so realistic that it would make any woman swoon when Darcy finally realizes that all of his contempt for Elizabeth is actually love that he has been unable to express because of his inability to speak socially. Yeah, that was a mouthful… but I cannot get enough of this Regency world that Austen has created. It makes me so badly want to travel to England to visit Pemberly, which is there for Austenites like me.
I think that just publicly declaring my complete preference to this book has helped me with another decision. I will bring Mr. Darcy’s Diary to Cancun with me (if you have no idea why this is relevant, check out the previous post). Alright, well, as promised… I have included the link to my LibraryThing profile, where you can then go to my library. If you like it, join me!
My LibraryThing: http://www.librarything.com/profile/Hollister5320
My college graduation is quickly approaching (please don’t ask me what my plans are… I can’t take it anymore). To celebrate, my parents decided to take a family vacation (mom, dad, me, Matthew my little 20 year-old brother is actually much bigger than I) to Cancun in Mexico. Needless to say, I’m thrilled. I’ll get to travel to a new country that I’ve never experienced. I’ll also get to get a killer tan and just relax in warm weather.
None of these things are as exciting to me as one aspect of what this trip means. I am excited to pack. Not clothes, or toiletries, or beauty products… no, I am excited to pack my books (go figure, right?). In true MissHolly fashion, I have made a long list of candidates, that is which books (roughly between 6-8 because I read fast) I am going to take with me for the plane ride, the hours relaxing on the beach, the time to fill during lay-overs.
Choosing books to read while traveling can prove to be quite difficult. Typically, you’ll want to take something simple and relaxing. Something that will provide entertainment without making you think too hard. I mean, come on, it’s vacation, who wants to think? However, for a person like me who reads very quickly, it is impossible to read that much (remember, 6-8 books) mindless material in one trip. So what is a book lover to do? I’ve made a list of every book that I am considering taking (paperbacks only, you never know what the sun and water will do to your pricey hardcovers). Slowly, but surly, I will make my way through said list, reading synopsis, reviews, etc. to help me decide if it is an acceptable “Beach Read.” And then there is the guiltiness of choosing favorites. Perhaps only experienced by a true book lover, but picking one book out of your library over another sometimes feels like choosing which puppy out of the litter you’re going to purchase from the pound. Thank goodness the books can’t whimper because otherwise, I’d be packing one outfit to make room for the entire contents of my library. Regardless of the guilt, I have to limit my choices as books take up too much room and airlines now-a-days only allow you one carry-on bag and purse, if you’re female. I might cheat and bring a carry-on and a large purse that I can fit two more books into. So I have decided to list the “Cancun Candidates” I have so far. Warning, they aren’t groundbreaking, earth changing books… so don’t judge me! I swear once I return from Mexico I will tackle another one of the five remaining Jane Austen novels on my TBR Mountain (TBR= to be read). Feel free to give me some insight as to what you think I should be taking, or just skip over it.
1) Lauren Weisberger - Chasing Harry Winston - I know that I will be taking this because my mother is dying to read it also. She’s the author of The Devil Wears Prada. So this will be one of my mindless material books.
2) Philippa Gregory - The Wise Woman - It has witchcraft, love, and royalty. What more could you possibly want in a book? Not sure if its going to be a good vacation read, but I’m really excited to read this.
3) Jennifer Weiner - Good In Bed - Another good mindless material book… but with a lot of sentiment to it. This would be another book that I am sure my mother would borrow from me on the trip. However, the title would make me blush in front of my father.
4) Annie Sanders - Goodbye, Jimmy Choo - The title explains that it’s mindless: i.e. the perfect beach read.
5) Diana Gabaldon - Lord John and the Private Matter - My favorite author. It’s historical fiction that is incredibly accurate. I have yet to dip into her Lord John books… so I’m anxious to. But I’m not so sure if Cancun is the place for it. Then again, maybe an airport is.
6) Philippa Gregory - Wideacre - It’s another historical fiction that’s a little more fluffy than Gabaldon or the other Gregory work I have listed above. Not really sure why I wanted to bring this one, but I do know that she’s another one of my top authors.
7) Amanda Grange - Mr. Darcy’s Diary - It’s Pride and Prejudice told from Mr. Darcy’s perspective. I know that Austenites will hate that this is something to even be considered, but I can’t help it. P&P is one of my favorite novels of all time. My curiosity about sequels to it has peaked.
8.) Emily Giffin - Something Borrowed - I’ve been told that it is really adorable and well written chick lit. Again: the perfect “Beach Read.”So I realize that there are eight total that I could take. But keep in mind, that those are the ones that I picked the first time going through my library. Lord only knows what will happen once I go through it again. Or, heaven forbid, I end up wandering through Borders with an open checkbook. Wish me luck on my pickings
Confession: I spent an hour on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites today looking for recommended reading based on my particular tastes.
Now the question is why did I spend this much time on said websites? Answer: my roommate, a fellow book nerd, and I have a date at Barnes & Noble tomorrow because there are two books she wants to buy and asked me along because she knows that I can’t say no. But, Holly, why does that constitute you being on websites for so long if you’re just going to the store tomorrow? you ask. Well, my friend, I was doing research into which book I would select for purchase to add to my library. I wish I were joking.
Most sorority girls will go to the mall and spend an obscene amount of money on clothes, or jewlery, or shoes. And while I love all of those things, being a sorority girl myself, I find spending $10-$15 on a book that will forever remain in my library such a more exhilerating experience. I feel this will be my downfall as far as throwing my money away goes. Spending that little a month may not seem like a huge expense, and it isn’t, even for a poor college student. However, the more books I buy, the more bookshelf space that I will need to purchase. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I do not see my library expansion coming to a hault anytime in my future.
I’ve had an epiphany. I am addicted to books. They are not just my hobby. I honestly believe that I am addicted to purchasing, keeping, alphabetizing, and treasuring them. I treat them as though they are my trophies because books deserve respect (something that your library “teachers’ in elementary school no doubt drilled into your brains, mine would be so proud. I have visions of someday lining an entire office with bookshelves that are over-stuffed with some of my favorite works. Perhaps someday it will economically be possible.
All of that being said: My name is Holly, and I’m a book addict.
Currently, I am taking a class at The Ohio State University entitled “Media Ethics.” I won’t complain about the course, or the professor, because that is not what a blog is for. However, I have begun to work on my final paper for the class. My topic, you ask? My task was to find a book that analyzes some sort of media and then find criticisms of said book. My assignment is to write an 8-12 page paper about what I discovered from all of this research. Here are a few opinions that may change as I read on, but for now… this is where I stand.
Disney is obviously a very influential source on children. The book entitled Mouse Morality: The Rhetoric of Disney Animated Film by Annalee R. Ward discusses this topic in depth by looking critically at the films The Lion King, Pocahontas, Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Mulan. Ward’s argument is that Disney films can teach and impose ideas upon children. The idea is presented that Disney films instills moral values that are normally instilled by parents and society more effectively.
While to a degree there is no way to doubt that Disney’s versions of stories effect children. I wasn’t a child all that long ago, and I still long to look like Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I’ve got the red hair, just need the tail, the beautiful singing voice, and um… other certain assets that Disney has always been very generous with giving its heroines. But that is what Disney instilled in me a child: that women should voice their minds, be smart, tell the truth, and be beautiful. Perhaps I’ll get some hate mail by saying this, but I still believe that the perfect woman would be like that.
But Ward take everything to a completely different level. She doesn’t mean that morals are shaped as innocently as mine above. For example, did you know that the The Lion Kingis a very religious story? No? Allow me to explain. In the beginning everything is perfect at Pride Rock(paradise), where Mufasa (God) oversees the happiness of all. Then there’s the tragic fall (Mufasa dies). After the fall, there’s the desert wondering of Simba through Africa having been run-off by his evil uncle Scar. Scar takes over ruling Pride Rock (the reign of Satan). Of course, that calls for needing the return of a savior (Simba’s childhood friend Nala seeks him out to save Pride Rock). Immediately following is the destruction of the Earth (here, Pride Rock is slowly being destroyed by Scar’s hyennia sidekicks). But finally, the rightful king returns and takes his place as the savior and regains the thrown, thus making everything peaceful once again. Needless to say, SImba returns and everyone is happy.
If you ever had an English teacher in high school that looked for God in every book he/she assigned, this will cause those memories to come screaming back. Yes, I believe that Disney attempts to teach children valuable lessons. Are they preaching about the rise and fall of God and Satan? I really doubt it. Is it possible that Disney was simply trying to get the message across that being a good person and doing the right thing will always prevail over being a bad person? That’s how I always pictured it. Something tells me Disney would never force religious views upon children.
Can’t we all just watch Disney without looking for God references?
It’s a haven for book nerds everywhere. Here they not only can catalog the books that they’ve read, but they can also keep track of how many books they read per month, join groups that suit their tastes to get recommendations for further reading, and they greatest part of all: they get to communicate with people all over the world who also share a passion for books.
It’s an online book community called LibraryThing. (www.librarything.com) It’s a fantastic web site dedicated to the readers of the world. I personally have an account there and love it. I’ve befriended a woman, roughly 52 in age, that lives in England. Now if I’ve never mentioned, I live in Ohio. It’s amazing to talk to someone in another country about things that we both love. She’s in a sense become my pen pal. We both are huge historical fiction fans and recommend books to each other. It’s wonderful to have a connection with someone who is only interested in one of your passions.
Sloth and I (I call her Sloth because it is a shortened version of her handle) belong to a book club called “Book of the Month Club.” At the first of every month, we all list every book we read the previous month and choose a favorite out of all of them. At the end of the year, we compile the list of all of the nominated books of the months and will then choose the absolute best in that group as our book of the year. This group is on the small side. Its small size adds to its charm because all of the members have gotten to know each other almost as friends.
All of this sounds so incredibly nerdy, and maybe it is. But for the users of LibraryThing, it’s truly special. On a personal level, I’ve gained more respect for books and the authors who put their blood, sweat, and tears into creating these works. It also makes you want to read faster so that you can keep adding books to your shelf. At the end of the month, it’s embarrassing to only have four books to report. Granted my college life does not allow for much more than that, I’m hoping to have more time to dedicate to reading upon graduation.
So to all of the book nerds reading this — definitely check out LibraryThing, and go ahead and look me up. I’m Hollister5320. Happy reading!
It’s obvious and easy to recognize that these stories are not exactly historically accurate. There is no way to know the most intimate details of these monarchs’ lives unless they kept a detailed diary, which most never did in case its contents would end up damaging their position. The most recent example of popular historical fiction is the somewhat newly released movie, “The Other Boleyn Girl,” which is based off of the novel written by Philippa Gregory. In it, it depicts Mary Boleyn as having been deeply in love with Henry VIII while her sister, Anne Boleyn, was just simply a scheming social climber. If you watch Showtime’s sexy series “The Tudors,” then it appears as though Anne truly loves him and Mary was nothing more than a few months of Henry taking royal liberties with his wife’s ladies in waiting.
Whichever interpretation you prefer, it is important to keep in mind that they are simply that: interpretations of the past. All of this entertainment media gets criticized constantly for being historically inaccurate about the way in which some people died, or the romances that were experienced between certain characters who have never been documented. Philippa Gregory’s novels are for entertainment purposes. Television series are for entertainment purposes. While they may take a few liberties with the content in which they choose to interpret, they are very honest about being a somewhat imagined account of history. Perhaps this will turn even more people off to accepting this fiction. I, however, will be curled up this Sunday on my couch with my copy of Gregory’s “The Boleyn Inheritance” while I wait for the newest episode of “The Tudors” to come on.
Sometimes I consider myself to be one of the last readers of my generation, which I believe is either X or Y… it’s hard to keep the generation letter straight sometimes. Anyways, my generation was born out of the 80’s; I’m an ‘85 girl myself. All of us, whether we attended public or private school, had English classes where teachers would force us to read. Generally, the students treated reading the assigned books as if forcing themselves to swallow a deadly poison. The Grapes of Wrath was equivalent to a spoonful of cyanide. Reading for pleasure was quickly replaced by the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation. I adored the reading and enjoyed most of what was assigned, with a few exceptions (I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to pick up anything Nathaniel Hawthorne ever again…). However, I was in the minority… “no one” liked to read.
So how was reading ever going to make a comeback? While many people will roll their eyes in disgust at what I think brought it back into popularity, it is undeniable. J.K. Rowling and her boy wizard brought literature back to the masses. The Harry Potter series not only made Rowling the wealthiest writer in the world, but it also turned huge profits for book stores as well. The genius behind the franchize is that it appeals to most ages, which drives book sales. I’m 22 years old and still was in attendence at the “Midnight Madness” party at Barnes & Noble, waiting to get my copy of the final installment. And yes, I had a t-shirt: “I Wish I Were A Weasley.” But the point is that I waited in line with 30-something year olds (who were not with children), and with 12 year olds.
Harry Potter may be a bit “in your face” with movies, action figures, and an amusement park opening in the next yearor two…. but it did bring reading back into fashion. The evidence is clear when looking at the other movies that have been adapted from books, thus launching the books to best seller status. Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, etc. People like me, who gulped down my English teacher’s poison with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader on game day, are lovin