Category Archives: Literature

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

“Miss Jenkyns wore a cravat, and a little bonnet like a jockey-cap, and altogether had the appearance of a strong-minded woman; although she would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men.  Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior.”

 I picked this one up to satisfy my continued need for period pieces written in the period as well as it being the novel a TV show I watched was based on. It’s a nice tale, a stream of consciousness view of life in small town England with all it’s quirks. I’m still not sure what to think about the husband who wrote to their son that his wife had sprained her ankle and therefore wasn’t able to hold a pen. Considering her note on the back of the page, I guess the pain in her foot didn’t affect her hand that much. I don’t know whether to laugh at the obsurdity or to suspect that something more sinister was amiss.

I wouldn’t consider this a special piece of literature per se, but it’s definitely a good introduction to social history and viewing historical figures as they viewed themselves.

Flapper in a Feathered Turban
Flapper in a Feathered Turban by hermoines
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If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins

Ugh. I have a headache now from all the crying I did while reading this book. I still rated it a 5, but it was just so dang depressing for a Kristan Higgins novel! Spoiler alert (it’s in the blurb) one of the husbands is a cheater.

I’m not sure exactly what made me cry so much. They were the leaky tears that you don’t even notice until they either roll down your cheeks or make it difficult to see the page. I suspect my BF’s smoking played a roll in my tears because it’s our “other woman”. BF won’t lie about it, but he certainly isn’t as forthcoming as he should be and there are a lot of the same “I’m weak” comments. Grr.

My mom came out here to spend half the day with him since she had the day off and with two full grown children her compulsive shopping addiction has gotten out of control (she’s depressed). He took her out to lunch, drove her around the county on all his favorite back roads, showed her a Fort we found, took her to get a car with the tow truck, and at some point brought up the idea of marrying me. She gave her blessing, of course (she’s had us hitched since she first found out we were a couple). He told her that it won’t happen until he’s been smoke free for 2 months, but there’s still the Feb 29th deadline looming. And I came home yesterday to him in the backyard smoking a pathetic looking butt that he wouldn’t but out until he’d gotten one last drag on it. So yeah…while I don’t have to worry about another woman catching his eye, I still have to contend with the siren’s call that can be triggered by nothing more than a neighbor asking if he has a cigarette to spare. By the way, he’s been telling me for a week that he’s only been getting drags, rather than whole cigarettes from his friends–how did he end up with something smokable in his pocket?

Wedding Love Postage
Wedding Love Postage by allweddingproducts
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Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer

“If every young vandal was forced to do his rounds without pants on, the world would be a safer place.” –Fletcher Moon

I picked this book up because I’ve adored the Artemis Fowl series as well as Airman. Again we have an intrepid youth who takes matters into his own hands when the parental units aren’t willing to bend a few rules in order to find out the truth.

Fletcher “Half-Moon” Moon is a 12 year old (or so) detective with the badge to prove it. While trying to solve one mystery he finds himself in the middle of a much bigger case.

What I liked most about this book is that it really makes you think about judging people guilty before all the facts are gathered. Sometimes the guilty party is the person you’d least expect and sometimes the person who is easiest to blame is completely innocent. It’s a lesson everyone needs to take to heart.

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In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

Sigh. This is one of those wonderfully depressing stories that leaves you crying at 3 am because you can’t put it down. I read it purely on a whim because it was advertised as a “Big Library Read Book” this month on my library’s ebook site (a book which isn’t limited in checkouts by the number of copies the library owns). It’s one I highly recommend.

It’s set in 1918, during the last months of WWI and the Spanish Influenza pandemic. Lot’s of death, lots of sorrow. And yet, finishing it has left me hopeful rather than depressed, which is how the best books are (in my opinion).

The last book I read on Spiritualism was set in WWII Britain (The Strange Case of Hellish Nell) so we know that this phenomenon (I mean the act of believing in spirits) lasted a long time. This book paints a very realistic view of life during this period–no white washing.

WWI Propaganda
WWI Propaganda by Dividenda
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Are you 100% American? Buy Bonds
Are you 100% American? Buy Bonds by parrow1978
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Beat Back the Hun
Beat Back the Hun by Dividenda
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Northanger Abbey

I’m very glad that I’ve decided to finally tackle the works of Jane Austen. The more I read of her, the more a fan I become.

Northanger Abbey started out kind of slow, which I expected when the introduction implied it was the first novel she’d written even though it was only published after her death. It starts out sounding very much like a rant against society, which I think is common amongst young writers. I know that my one attempt at writing a novel gets a C- from me simply because I spent too much time ranting. Of course, Ms. Austen had the skill that I lacked which is in her ability to reign it in, or at least when it’s viewed from 2015, these rants would have been shared by all of us modern women, so we sympathize instead of condemning her “youth”.

This is definitely a book that a lot of teenage girls today would still find relevant, especially when it comes to the “friends” who are self-centered and conniving. I could only groan at the comments that Catherine used to be so easy to persuade and that it’s her fault that their trip would be ruined because she has other plans. There are plenty of women in therapy now because of the guilt laid upon them by “friends” who are actually abusive users.

I also found the conversation between Catherine and Henry on the definition of matrimony as relative to a country dance. They end up with such a complex definition of what it means to be married, I’m surprised that just 2 weeks ago another debate was hashed out in our court system that a marriage can be so easily defined as “between a man and a woman”. Goodness: if that’s all it takes to make a marriage last, why on Earth does divorce exist?!? Of course, in today’s world, most people would agree that there is also more to a marriage than a man supporting his wife  and the wife making “an agreeable home”. ‘Course, I definitely wouldn’t feel comfortable if they proscribed way to find a husband (a woman’s only duty, of course) was for her to hide every scrap of intelligence she has, or to not be intelligent to begin with.

“Yes, I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.” I’ve always been the “smart” one of the group, but I cannot begin to tell you how many times I’ve been appreciated for not being pretentious. I do not like people using a “5 dollar word” as a measure of intelligence especially since many who do use such words incorrectly. I have had to say on a few occasions: “I’m not sure the word you just used means what you think it means” and I admit it’s difficult to do with a straight face. Luckily, most don’t mean any harm by it, they’re simply trying to sound smart, but I like to think that smart is something you do, not something you say.

I was listening to an interview on NPR with researchers who want to promote physical intelligence instead of merely mental intelligence in US society (the action of creating something rather than the mental processes of thinking about stuff). I disagreed with the whole notion that a single individual can excel at both ways of learning because I don’t think it’s probable for all humans to be geared towards the exact same way of learning: kinetic vs. listening vs. optical. Yes, US society looks down upon the individuals who lack “book knowledge”, but watching my BF load and unload a car Friday night shows me that there is a considerable amount of intelligence that goes into physical labor! My brother would also tell you that it IS a skill to be able to load a trailer properly–he’d been the unfortunate victim of one such person too many times when he quit his job loading them because the other person’s “walls” kept falling on him.

My only complaint is that when Catherine realized the error of her ways in making assumptions about the General based on her experience with romantic novels, she was only able to extend her miss-assumptions to those who live within her general area (or at least this is how I read this passage)–people in the far east and west would still be like the villains and heroes of her novels: either good or evil and nothing in between.

On that note, I anxiously await my next Blogging for Books request: Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and as Warning. I’ve heard that it relates to the xenophobia we’re now seeing with the refugee crisis in Europe. Something doesn’t sit right with me when doctors, lawyers, and teachers are treated like vermin simply because they’ve been forced to take sketchy boats, trucks or just walk to cross borders  just to get away from oppression in their home countries.

P.S. Does anyone know why this book was originally called “Susan” by Ms. Austen? I’m pretty sure that there is no one called by that name in this novel!

The Princess and the Pea: A Very Short Tale

This is essentially just an extended joke with a single punchline. It’s not very different from the original and is indeed a VERY short story.

I can only wonder whether I’d be able to feel the pea if I were the “princess” because at work there are always holes all over the floor (from the hole punch) and they’re not flat pieces of paper. I can feel them through my boots and it’s quite uncomfortable.

Getting Old is Criminal (Gladdy Gold #3)

More than just a murder mystery, Getting Old is Criminal deals with many of the realities of getting old. I laughed, I (almost) cried, and if I hadn’t already been a fan of this series, I would have become one. These books just keep getting better!

From the back of the book: “Gladdy Gold had reached a golden moment. There she was, soaking in a hot tub with a man she adored, far from Fort Lauderdale and her nosy neighbors…until an urgent message sent her running home. Now her exotic vacation is a memory, Gladdy’s would-be beau, Jack, is furious, and not only are the girls of the Gladdy Gold Detective Agency all alive and well—they’re onto a hot new murder case.

Is a retirement-home Romeo to blame for the mysterious deaths in Florida’s most luxurious communities? Gladdy and her curious kibitzers will have to go undercover to find out—covering themselves with as many fancy-schmancy airs as possible. But with Gladdy’s drama queen sister Evvie playing the role of a Palm Beach flirt, their fun and games turn deadly. For by the time the girls ID their perp, Evvie is in the arms of a killer—and loving it.…”

Vintage Retro Style Woman iPhone 5 Case
Vintage Retro Style Woman iPhone 5 Case by SassySues
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Dragonbane by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Well, I’m going to start this review off with a minor spoiler alert: it ends more or less on a cliffhanger and the next book won’t be published until Aug. 2016. Boo. BUT, this is still a fantastic read for anyone who likes fantasy romances. Though, when it comes to this series, I really recommend starting from the beginning because even though every book stands alone, the characters intermingle amongst themselves and there’s a lot of subtle stuff that you’d miss out on if you read them out of order. Like the major squeal that escaped me within the first 5 chapters or so, hahaha!!! I’ll stop there because that’d be a MAJOR Spoiler! But I assume all fan-girls (and fan-guys) have already read this one, so I’m not very worried.

Anywho. Bad-ass dragons. Amazon warriors. The usual stuff for a Dark-Hunter novel. I’ll admit that these books get to the point that they’re really formulaic, but the stories themselves are so nuanced to keep things interesting. For instance this book explains the invention of the entire Were-Hunter species, which we fan-girls have been dying to learn for like 15 books!

One of the reasons I like the Were-Hunter stories (which is a subsection of the Dark-Hunters Universe) is because there are two types of “Weres”–those who are humans who can shift into animals (Arcadians) and those who are animals that can shift into humans (Katagarians). One of the running themes tackles the issue of who the “real animals” are and the answer isn’t necessarily the obvious one. In previous books we’ve been told/shown that they’ve been hunting each other for centuries because of some endless civil war. In this book, we learn what started it all.

Like I said, this book ends with me whining for more even more than I do usually with this series. I miss the days when I was 15 books behind the author and could order a new one every week! But actually, for anyone looking to get hooked on this series, there are about 6 additional books hinted at within this one (which one HUGE one, if I do say so myself).

Find it here on Amazon! Yes, that’s an affiliate link, haha.

Dragon Sunset
Dragon Sunset by DreamFlame
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The Lookout
The Lookout by tigressdragon
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The Magic Half

I picked this book because I was reasonably sure that it would fulfill the required “book read in one day” spot on my 2015 Reading Challenge. I was only reasonably sure because I can never guarantee exactly how quickly I’ll be able to read a book. I don’t tend to read much during the day when there’s so much more active things to do, but I do enjoy nothing less than laying in bed with a book. Until it hits me on the nose because I’ve fallen asleep with it above me.

Anyway, it was a risk to start this book on a weekday because I leave for work at 7:30 and don’t get home until after 5 usually. But this has been an unusual (and economically sucky) week, so I knew there was a good chance I’d get plenty of time to read at work. I actually read half of this book between 8 and 9 this morning because there simply wasn’t a reason to punch in until I had enough work in front of me for at least 3 hours. I hate the idea of punching in and out all day for 30 minute jobs and I despise the idea of being on the clock while not working. Sure, I did read for about 20 minutes on the clock today, but that was while I was literally waiting for the photo-polymer to imprint into the matrix board (I suppose that’s a way to describe it), the matrix board to harden, and for the rubber to mold into the matrix board. In all 3 cases, me and my dad refer to it as “cooking” because it’s all done in a heat press (though the matrix board doesn’t need pressure to cure). All 3 steps take 7 minutes when you can literally do nothing but wait. The pressmen often play games or watch movies on their phones while the presses do the work, but whereas these distractions can cause them to miss when the ink starts to “dry up”, when you’re cooking photo-polymer, matrix board, and rubber, there’s simply nothing that needs to be watched. If it’s going to mess up, you can’t stop it mid-process. Sure, I could have taken a minute to cut the one piece of wood I needed and got that ready to go, but seriously, I got paid for 3 hours and 15 minutes today–my boss can eat the time I didn’t spend multi-tasking.

In case you couldn’t figure that out, I was making rubber stamps today. Though half of them were technically MaxLight Stamps. My first love is rubber, but the MaxLights are pretty nifty, too. The company we buy from actually sent us a new machine to make MaxLights (FREE!) because they changed the design so that their stamps no longer work with the machine we have. I was pretty happy to spend 10 minutes reading it’s manual from cover to cover to learn that the only real difference is how it clamps and that there’s a piece that must be removed instead of added, depending on things.

But I’m seriously digressing over here! Sorry!

The Magic Half is exactly the kind of book I adored when I was a kid. There’s magic and a charming locale and spunky girls. Adults will like it for it’s depth–how many kid’s books really question the practicalities of time travel? My only complaint is that I wished there was some kind of additional plot-twist at the end that explained why Miri’s family moved into the house in the first place. If you’ve read this book, you’ll understand what I mean. I think that that would have added more than what the current ending gives.

Anyway. If you’re looking for a very quick read that will take you back to your childhood and refresh your imagination, this book is for you. And if you’re looking for something to hand any 8 to 11 year old girl, go with this one as well.

London Candy Kitchen, 1938
London Candy Kitchen, 1938 by Photoblog
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Ralston PA Main Street Postcard
Ralston PA Main Street Postcard by vintageamerican
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Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede

Well, I can honestly say that I have a new (to me) favorite series!

Or rather, I’d stumbled across the series before (according the Goodreads), but hadn’t remembered it.

I read Briar Rose by Janet Yellen a few years ago, which is also part of the “The Fairy Tale Series”, but hadn’t really understood the premise behind it. It’s also an amazing book, by the way–I highly recommend it!

“The Fairy Tale Series” is a simple enough idea–it encouraged established writers to take their favorite fairy tale and expand upon it in a somewhat controlled way (in this case, each chapter starts with a short passage from the original tale to help unite the two tales).

This story is obviously based on the tale of “Snow White and Rose Red”, which I think I’d read once, though to be honest I tend to lose interest quickly with the original works simply because they’re short stories and lack the depth and detail that I crave in my fairy tales. I’ve always preferred reworked fairy tales for this reason.

What I found interesting is that the introduction to this book explained the reasoning for these new stories and why they’d be found in the adult section. Namely, the Disney-fication of the original stories which cut out the sex and violence because they were originally written for adults before it was decided that they should be cleaned up for children. It seems that this story was itself “Disney-fied” when the single death was changed from a direct blow from the bear to the result of a magical overload. Of course, this story was published in 1989 and we all know how much adult books have changed in the past 10 years. Even books written towards teens and tweens  have more explicit sex, drugs, and violence than your average adult book written 25 to 35 years ago, for good or for bad.

I personally think that it’s the parents job to teach about these issues early and often and it’s the kid’s responsibility to pick books to help them escape whatever reality they want to escape from. I think there’s a big problem when kids are learning about the dangers of sex, drugs, and violence from books instead of from their parents because we all know that there’s way too many who are learning it from their also youthful friends rather than books or their parents. Judy Bloom, while wonderful, shouldn’t be the one giving kids their first adult talks.

Anyway, for anyone looking to escape to a simpler time, this book will definitely suit your fancy. Though, beware of the Old English dialogue which can be a jarring contrast to the Newer English descriptions.

Fairy Tales
Fairy Tales by GoldenAurora85
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