Jun 30, 2009
My list of 6 things I intend to do for the challenge is as follows:
1. Read and review the book Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor by Stephanie Barron
2. Read and review Old Friends and New Fancies: An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen by Sybil G. Brinton
3. Compile a list of my favorite Jane Austen websites and blogs and post it on my blog.
4. Re-read my copy of Persuasion by Jane Austen.
5. Re-watch Becoming Jane
6. Paint an Austen inspired portrait and post a photograph of it on my blog (assuming it turns out good enough that I am not too embarrassed to let anyone see it).
Notes: Not necessarily in that order and I reserve the right to change my list during the challenge!
Jun 29, 2009
Title: Mare's War
Author: Tanita S. Davis
Publisher: Random House (2009)
When Octavia and Tali are forced to spend their summer going on a road trip with their eccentric grandmother Mare, they do not expect to actually enjoy one moment. As the long trip proceeds the two sisters discover so much untold history and are inspired by Mare's past. She was a member of the African American battalion of the woman's army corps during World War II. Mare has many adventures both in the USA and overseas, she makes important friendships and comes to know her own inner strength. It is through these times that she matures into a responsible woman and begins to develop her future plans. Mare's experiences and friendships spark Octavia and Tali's imaginations and they immediately apply the lessons to their own lives and relationships.
The book smoothly transitions between 'then' and 'now'. I found it easy to read because of its engaging characters and realistic flavor. The author's uniqueness shines through with the quirky characters and humorous touches. Mare's War is an inspiring story which educated the reader about a relatively unknown aspect of the American contribution to World War II. This book is a great read for any young person who wants to make something of their life even in difficult circumstances. It is aimed toward early teens and would make a good choice for summer reading while school is out. The characters are mostly female and one of the strong themes is to do with the disadvantages women faced at that time, so it may appeal more to young women. The lesson of perseverance in the face of discrimination is obviously universally applicable. I enjoyed Mare's War and am sure that others will also.
(Thanks to Book Divas for providing me with a copy of Mare's War)
Jun 22, 2009
Title: Of Bees and Mist
Author: Erick Setiawan
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 2009
Erick Setiawan’s debut novel Of Bees & Mist will take you on an epic journey to a mystical place. Prepare to suspend your disbelief and be jolted to an unfamiliar time and place where your imagination will be required to work overtime. This new author’s creative skill is unquestionably evident in his evocative imagery which will have you really hearing the buzz of angry bees, smelling the lingering scent of verbena and finding your vision obscured by colored mists.
This dark fairy tale features many engaging characters but mainly traces a character called Meridia. She grows up in a cold, lonely and loveless home full of deceit and humiliation. During her childhood she struggles to uncover the mysteries of her parents’ marriage and the mists which strangle their home. When Meridia marries she moves into a new home that is not what it initially appears. She is forced to engage in an ongoing war with her spiteful mother-in-law in order to preserve herself and the love of her husband. Over and over again she must reach inside herself and connect with her inner strength in order to survive.
There are many bizarre elements in this book which can be interpreted metaphorically or literally. The strange occurrences seem to dramatize the dynamics within a dysfunctional family and describe negative emotions as they would look if released visibly. The mist which hovers over the house also hovers over the book in general. I loved the ambiguity of the time and place in which the book is set. The more questions a good book evokes in our minds the better. I enjoy a book that is open to numerous possible interpretations because you can interact with it more. You can play with the ideas, language and setting in your own mind and build upon the scaffolding put up by the author. Of Bees and Mist is such a book.
Setiawan’s book depicts the universal theme of good against evil. It has a very dramatic feel in the way it slowly builds up to a crescendo. His unique interpretation of the theme places the battle in a fantasy realm and on a domestic scale. Essentially this book is about real family relationships; the hate, jealousy, betrayal, manipulation and ultimately love that binds people together. Of Bees & Mist is a timeless book that not only invites numerous readings but will echo in your subconscious long after you have savored every word.
Jun 20, 2009
Title:The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
Author: Diane Setterfield
The Thirteenth Tale is the story of Vida Winter, a reclusive popular author who employs a biographer to record the truth of her life before she dies. The book is narrated by the character of the biographer Margaret Lee who doubts the truth of the tale until she begins to verify its details by going to the town from which Vida Winter originated. Even after her research some elements of the story do appear to be true while others remain shrouded in mystery.
As the tale unfolds we realize that the genius of Vida Winters writing has been inspired by the unconventionality of her ancestors and her upbringing. At her childhood home, Angelfield House, she has been surrounded by madness, decay and mystery. The total lack of order and parental authority results in many 'accidental' deaths and a devastating fire that leaves the home in ruins.
This family saga explores the strong bonds between siblings, especially twins. It hints at the illusive nature of truth and the fragility of sanity. It poses the question of whether truth is better than fiction, or if it is merely a depressing weight to carry around the rest of your life. Setterfields unique novel demonstrates the power of fictional literature and the way in which it shapes identity.
While this book did hold my interest throughout, I did not feel satisfied at the end. It seemed like all the bizarre elements and the mysteriousness of the identity of some of the characters ended up being resolved too neatly. The resolution was too complete and in some ways it revealed the ordinariness of what had seemed so unique. What I did appreciate about this book was the strangely comforting nature of the settings. In the midst of the loss and despair in the characters lives, the book shop, the beautiful gardens and the moors provided peacefulness to the story. Overall, my favorite thing about The Thirteenth Tale was the interesting observations about the power of reading.
Jun 15, 2009
"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." - Diane Setterfield
Also try winning Stand the Storm by Breena Clarke:
Jun 11, 2009
Jun 10, 2009
We were able to bring home a bound folder of our child's work. Here is a cute sample of bedroom description:
"The wall is as yellow as the color of really sour lemons. The bulletin board probably tastes like raspberry. The door is as hard as a rock or a stone. My bed is as brown as a moose. I smell fresh air coming from the window. I hear the sound of turning pages as I read my book."
Great use of the five senses there!
Jun 8, 2009
Title: God's Little Princess Devotional Bible
Author: Sheila Walsh
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (2006)
Sheila Walsh has created a sweet book that gives young girls examples of strong women who reflect good characteristics. It helps them to learn how to grow up to be a beautiful princess. The many different sections highlight ways for girls to develop and express their true nature. The book contains beauty secrets, scriptures, stories, royal traits, role playing, and tips on how to show love and have charming manners. Inside and out this is a colorful and attractively presented book.
This book makes a perfect gift for any little girl. It focuses on ages 4-7. Reading it with the little girls in your life is a lovely way to share a special moment each day. The pictures really captured my 5 year old daughter's interest and the stories were simple enough for her to enjoy. I am happy that she now has another perspective on the usual princess theme that focuses exclusively on external beauty.
Jun 3, 2009
Title: Carve Your Own Road: Do What You Love & Live the Life You Envision
Authors: Jennifer Remling & Joe Remling
Publisher: Career Press 2009
Carve Your Own Road is about living your career dreams instead of getting stuck in the corporate rut and stifling your creativity. The authors traveled around America with an Airstream travel trailer, interviewing entrepreneurs and writing the book. They took risks in order to pursue their unique ideas and want to inspire others to try it also. The book has many stories of people who have broken away from corporate careers in order to start their own businesses. It also has some steps on how to go about the process of clarifying your goals and how to make changes in your work life.
The author's have peppered the book with inspiring quotations that made me think about how I choose to live. Carve Your Own Road encourages people to explore who they are and where they want to go by inspiring them with examples of others. The advice is very practical and achievable. The ideas in this book were focused on career choices, but are easily transferable to other areas of life. On the down side, this book had a few glaring typos. It could have done with another proof-read.