Posted in blog stuff, Weekly Reading

What I’m Reading Jan 24

As of today, I’ve read 12 books this month. I think I’m on a pretty good pace to meet my annual goal, especially for those occasional reading slumps that I get into throughout the year. Goodreads says that I’m eight books ahead of schedule. Woot!

Currently, I’m kinda sorta in the middle of four different reads. I say, “kinda, sorta” because two of them I haven’t touched in a couple months. Did you hear my sigh? I’m going to work from my most current read back. Click on the links to read more about the books. These are just my opinions of them so far.

The BookwormFirst up, I’m reading The Bookworm by Mitch Silver. This is a Netgalley book and I’m about 10% into it. I’m enjoying it so far. It has historical elements, mystery, and some violence to it. It’s also a little bit political, which makes me wary and we’ll see where Silver goes with that. It seems to bounce back and forth in time from 1940 to 2017 with the focus being on WWII, Nazis, and Russia. This is, according to my memory, my first book dealing with this subject matter. Where history is concerned, I tend to gravitate towards older stuff. Only being 10% into it, I haven’t formed a concrete opinion, but the character development is solid and the building of the suspenseful atmosphere is great.

The Bear and the NightingaleNext, I’m reading The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. This is a pretty popular book and I’m sure most everyone has heard something about it. I guess I wasn’t listening close enough because I didn’t realize this was the first book in a trilogy. Normally, I love trilogies and series, but I wasn’t looking to get into a new one, especially an unfinished one. That being said, I’m probably about 10% into this one too and I like it so far. Again, the character development and atmosphere building is great. It’s also a book set in Russia (what’s up with that??) but medieval Russia this time. I’ve found the storyline and characters compelling enough that I’ve been looking up names and events mentioned to learn more about this period in Russia’s history, of which I know nothing. The fantasy elements add to the story and have kept me engrossed in the book enough that I have to make myself put it down to do other things. I love the lyrical, mystical quality to Arden’s storytelling.

I’ve mentioned these next two books in a past post and because I haven’t actually gotten any further in them since that post, I’m just going to mention the titles here. I’m stillllll reading Monstress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie M. Liu and Queens of the Conquest by Alison Weir. The reasons why I’ve stagnated on these books are that Monstress just didn’t hold my attention and I haven’t had the time and focus to devote to Queens that it deserves. I’ll get back to them both, but I’m not sure when.

What are you currently reading? What do you do when you’re really enjoying a book but have put it aside for whatever reason? Do you still consider it a “current read”?

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Posted in Weekly Reading

What I’m Reading Oct 4

So, I decided to get back to blogging and then came down with the flu. I missed all of the Banned Book Week activities, getting started with Dewey’s pre-readathon challenge, and National Coffee Day. Talk about a major bummer. The only good thing to come of being a walking zombie is getting unlimited reading time in, guilt-free, which means I was able to start a few books while being laid up.

MontstressFirst off, I started a new graphic novel, Monstress, Vol. 1 by Marjorie M. Liu and artist Sana Takeda. I’m only a couple pages in, so I haven’t formed an opinion yet. The artwork, however, is impressive and compelling. I thought this graphic novel would be a perfect accompaniment for this time of year. From Goodreads:

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

grey mask Secondly, I began an eBook by Patricia Wentworth titled Grey Mask. It’s supposed to be a cozy mystery type of book. Set in London, post-war (I haven’t read any indications which war, but I’m assuming WWI. I could be wrong though. It’s really hard to tell from the context clues or lack thereof.) this is a tale of Charles, who has returned to his childhood home after being jilted by his fiance. His father has passed away and he’s returned home from abroad to claim his inheritance. Upon his arrival, he happens upon several uninvited guests in his house discussing some scheme or conspiracy. Deciding to remain hidden, Charles hires a lady detective, Miss Silver, to try and sort out the mystery on his own rather than go to the police.

I’m just short of halfway through the book and so far, it’s ok. The dialogue comes off as being written for a screenplay rather than a book so it’s different, but not hard to follow. The characters are a little one dimensional. I’m waiting to see if some development will occur as the story goes on. As for the mystery itself, I have no idea what’s going on, so I guess it’s a good one, lol. This is supposed to be the first book in the Miss Silver series, but it’s really hard to believe that an entire series is centered on Miss Silver whom we only see sporadically in the novel. She seems like a tertiary character rather than the main one. We’ll see, I guess.

Queens Lastly, I started Queens of the Conquest:  England’s Medieval Queens by Alison Weir. I am a huge fan of Weir’s and appreciate and respect her writing, opinions, and history that she imparts expertly about England’s monarchy. Her biography about Henry VIII was what started my journey into learning more about England’s history, which blossomed into learning about other nations and periods in history. Anyway, I’ve only just started this book and between being really tired and having to take notes on every page (because I can’t help myself), I’m only in the first chapter, lol. I’m enjoying it so far though and can’t wait to really get into the meat of it. Please click on the book’s title for a link to the Goodreads page. I didn’t want to include a lengthy description here.

How’d you bring in the month of October? Are you reading anything you’d recommend?

Posted in Book Review

Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days by Will Bashor

Marie

Title:  Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days

Author:  Will Bashor

Publisher:  Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Pages:  312

Genre:  Nonfiction, history, French history

Setting:  Paris, France

Source:    Net Galley

Publication Date:  December 1, 2016

Blurb:

This compelling book begins on the 2nd of August 1793, the day Marie Antoinette was torn from her family’s arms and escorted from the Temple to the Conciergerie, a thick-walled fortress turned prison. It was also known as the “waiting room for the guillotine” because prisoners only spent a day or two here before their conviction and subsequent execution. The ex-queen surely knew her days were numbered, but she could never have known that two and a half months would pass before she would finally stand trial and be convicted of the most ungodly charges.

Will Bashor traces the final days of the prisoner registered only as Widow Capet, No. 280, a time that was a cruel mixture of grandeur, humiliation, and terror. Marie Antoinette’s reign amidst the splendors of the court of Versailles is a familiar story, but her final imprisonment in a fetid, dank dungeon is a little-known coda to a once-charmed life. Her seventy-six days in this terrifying prison can only be described as the darkest and most horrific of the fallen queen’s life, vividly recaptured in this richly researched history.

From Me:

I’ve read a few novels over the years about Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution, both fiction and nonfiction. I find this period of history fascinating. The story of the end of the French monarchy and the Reign of Terror is both interesting, compelling, and to me, unfinished. People have their opinions of what led up to the Revolution, who was to blame, how it could’ve been avoided, who was right, who was wrong, but as with most major historical events, there is no end all, be all definitive answer to any of this. That might be what keeps my interest and why I continue to seek out books about this time in France’s history.

Will Bashor takes a unique look at Marie Antoinette’s life. In all the books I’ve read thus far, and I’m by no means saying I’ve read a significant amount, they’ve always started in her childhood and what led her to becoming France’s final queen. Bashor takes his readers directly to Marie’s imprisonment, the final days of her life.

One might wonder how interesting a book could be when the entire thing takes place in prison, but a lot occurred during those days of confinement. There was the famous Carnation Plot and the heart-wrenching separation of Marie Antoinette from her children and her sister-in-law just to touch on a couple highlights. Bashor relates, in detail, what Marie’s daily life was like in prison and how it evolved during her somewhat elongated stay in the infamous waiting room of the guillotine, to the end and her trial and execution.

While this book is a work of nonfiction, Bashor writes like a novelist and the book reads as such. It’s moving, frightening, and edge-of-your seat writing, despite knowing Marie’s fate.

Every time I read a book about Marie Antoinette, I always hope that something will happen to change her fate, lol. Maybe one of the numerous plots to rescue her will finally succeed!! Maybe her milksop of a husband will finally grow a backbone and they will all escape their fate. I’m always sad when the book ends with the guillotine’s blade and Marie Antoinette’s Darkest Days was no exception.

4 Hearts

Posted in Book Haul

Banning Myself from Buying Books

I’m putting this out there because I told myself on Monday that I wasn’t going to buy any more books for “a while”. Then I went to Target on Tuesday and bought these beauties:

Books

They were, between the two of them, 50% off, so technically, I only bought one book. Do NOT argue with my math logic. 20+30=50 end of story. Tuesday evening when we got home, I told my husband that I was, again, going on a self-imposed book-buying-ban. Like the first time I said this, I didn’t specify a length of time. Today, we went to Barnes & Noble. ::cough:: I went in to buy one certain book which was the second Saga graphic novel. One book. I came out with this teeny, tiny, practically nothing, mini book haul:

Book Haul
Isn’t that cup so pretty?? On the inside it says, “Take a sip, turn a page”. I bought it today at Starbucks.

This brings my TBR shelf of books that I actually own up to 80 and a total of 141 (61 of them I don’t actually own) books that I want to read. I need to get this in hand, at least a little bit. I’d like to whittle my TBR shelf of owned books down to at least 50. I read a total of 11 books in September, so I think this is a realistic goal. As for the “need to buy” shelf, I don’t worry about that so much. I use that Goodreads shelf as a way of keeping track of books that sound good that I see on other people’s blogs, booktubes, and review articles. A virtual shelf of books isn’t a bad thing to have.

I am, for the record, announcing “out loud” my self-imposed book buying ban for three months. This doesn’t include books that I might/will buy as gifts for other people or books that I get from other people. This block of time will encompass Christmas and I know I’ll get at least one book as a gift. On January 1, 2015, I can resume buying books. Sound fair? Oh gosh. This is giving me anxiety just thinking about it. I hope I can do it. I’m going to need help, lol.

OH!!! Did you happen to notice what’s missing from that stack of books????? The second Saga! Lmao!!