Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

This is the second book in the Finishing School series, but the seventh book I’ve read from Carriger’s steampunk and urban fantasy world.

As usual, I continue to like Carriger’s diction, silly dialogue, and her unique fantasy world. I am not enamoured with Sophonria anymore than I was with Alexia, but I like the ensemble cast. I really adored three characters from the Parasol Protectorate series and none of them appeared in this series until this novel!

My favourite Lord Akeldama finally showed up. Not enough page for the most fabulous vampire in fiction, but I’ll take it. I hope this means he’ll show up more in these books.

My main criticism of this novel was that they introduced a love triangle which seems silly since Soap is clearly the end game for the heroine. I like the rake Lord Mersey, but why tease it out? He’s clearly not to going to get the the girl, but I wouldn’t mind if he does. I like Soap and Mersey for different reasons. It is silly because the heroine is 15 and not very romantic.

The third of this series comes out in November so hopefully the plot and characters move even further along. I am looking forward to the Prudence/Custard series next year too.

Read July 4-5 on Kindle.

This entry was posted in Books.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

For years I knew that this book was good. I did not know what it was about though. It happens that I hear good things about a title and author, but not know their work. I finally was able to read this and prepared myself after all the fluffy Heyer and Fleming novels.

When I started this book, I was interested in the narrative style and the characters. I didn’t necessarily think it would give me a book hangover. This book really grew on me. It has that quality wherein the characters and their lives slowly seep into your mind and heart. I didn’t even realize how much I loved it until the end.

The ending! I cried. I probably only cry for a book once a year and rarely do I sobbed. I sobbed, and I had to hold it in. There was so much pathos for the characters. They were all well drawn out. Everyone of them had a story and quality. It was really lovely.

The novel is definitely one of family and friendship. It is also one about war, death, and the deep love one has for writing and books. It’s simply written and it really knocked me over when I finished it.

Definitely recommended.

Finished May 29, 2014 on Kindle.

Sunday Salon: Rain Day

Sunday Salon

Hello, all!

I had planned today to take a bike ride to a farmer’s market, but at dawn, there was a wicked thunderstorm. Now it’s a real rain day. I really needed the exercise too. My running has almost been non-existant, and I have a 5KM race in two months that I want to make good time on. I don’t like running in the summer though.

In book news, I am trill trying to read a giant biography that was interesting when I was in China, but no longer. I think I’ll switch to Kim today and see if it works. I’m am starting to itch for fantasy or lighter books though. I’m looking at the Song of Fire & Ice series. Hmmm.

Crafting: Lost all my knitting mojo. I have a giant coat that I started in the winter, but I’m just keen on knitting these days. I still like browsing knitting books, but no desire to work on my stash. I may work on a t-shirt bag though.

What are you doing this weekend?

Dr. No by Ian Fleming

When I read this back in May, I thought this was my second James Bond – Ian Flemming novel, but it was actually my fourth. If I count the Sebastian Faulkner Bond novel, this was actually my fifth Bond novel. I read the first three Fleming Bond backs in March 2009. All three of them bled into each other I guess.

It makes sense because these books are formulaic. James Bond goes on an adventure, meets a girl, and there is some action.

What is really quite funny and discomforting about Dr. No is that there is a lot of casual racism in the book. The racism surrounds the mixed villain who is Chinese. I read this novel while in China and it was the only Bond novel on my Kindle for some reason. The racism was not so bad, but it was a bit ignorant. Kimonos aren’t Chinese style. There was sexism as well which is classic Bond.

Having said that, I still found myself reading the novel quickly. I think I’ll keep reading them even though they are incredibly outdated. I think Fleming does good pacing and there were a couple of sensual moments in this book. I can’t really take these books seriously, and knowing that helps me enjoy them.

Read May 29, 2014 on Kindle.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese

Oh! How I adore a good food book. It’s easier for me to be pleased with cookbooks and food books. They are real comforts for me.

I started reading this book on my Kindle in 2012. I liked the first couple of chapters so much that I was able to score a cheap copy off Book Outlet. Then I put thoughts about this book aside until this May.

The author set out to try various recipes and evaluate both their difficulty and economics when making at home compared to buying. With each recipe she provides, she offers a small anecdote. The soft cover I bought has no photos, but this is one of those rare cookbooks that has a nice narrative. I like when recipes are interwoven with stories.

While I have not made any of the exact recipes in the book, I have done similar ones especially in the baking and jam sections. On the whole, I agree that some things are probably too finicky to do more than once or ever. Reese and I have opposing views about jams and preserves though, but that’s a small complaint.

It’s a fun cookbook for those who want to figure out what they should try cooking first. Definitely, make some bread.

Finished May 22, 2012 on Kindle.

Sunday Salon: Books Madness

Sunday Salon

Hello, all!

While cleaning a couple of weeks ago, I was faced again with all my unread books. I have so many boxes of unread books. One of the boxes was exclusively my library books. Books were in my closet, in my parents basement, by my desk, and of course, my book shelf. Everywhere! It was a bit overwhelming. I can’t deal with them now. I have a couple of boxes of books that I have read. I’ll need to consider what to do with those at some point too.

This was the first year in a long time that I did not go to any June used book sales. This is usually the season. I love going to big charity book sales, but I have had too many books. It was a good idea.

There is a more pressing book issue. I am following very behind on my 70 books goal this year. I did not even finish a book in June. So this week I organized my library books and Kindle. I loaded it with a lot of YA and fantasy series. We’ll see how I get through.

I am done with all the reviews of books I finished in May except I didn’t write a review of Roald Dahl’s The Fantastic Mr Fox (finished May 23, 2014). Suffice it to say, adored it. I really liked Wes Anderson’s stop motion film of it released a few years ago too.

I did finish one book last night (at 1:30AM): Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger another in a series I’ve been reading for awhile. I’ll write up the review later today.

Today, I may do a little work and read more as well. I’ve still got 50 more books to go!

Have a great week!

Six Georgette Heyer novels

It’s been a fun couple of years reading Georgette Heyer novels. They have been great summer reads. While I have not read every book in her oeuvre, I have covered all her romance works now. I own one of her mysteries so it’s to be determined if I’ll enjoy them as much as I have some of her romance novels.

When on vacation, I discovered I had six unread Heyer novels on my Kindle. These books were great for the boring and slow days I had. Not all of them were good so let’s summarize quickly on which are the ones I enjoyed.

Continue reading →

Deadlocked and Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Deadlocked Dead Ever After

These were the first books I read on my holiday last month. I started Deadlocked on the plane and more or less finished it by the end of my sixteen hour flight.

I avoided reading these last two installments to the Southern Vampire Mysteries / Sookie Stackhouse / True Blood series for a couple years now. I first mentioned the series on this blog back in 2008 and reviewed it in 2009: Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire Mysteries True Blood Books 1-8. From that review, I noted how “excellent” the series was and how much I adored the characters especially Sookie. At that point, the books were easily my favourite modern vampire series. While I knew this series wasn’t great literature, it was fun.

Basically, the series lived far past its prime. They were suppose to end originally around book ten, but the books had become so popular that the author and the publisher extended it to Bbok thirteen. I think this was a terrible idea. After certain events, the characters became depressing. Sookie was no longer fun and it felt like she had regressed even. The last three or four books have been boring. The last book was terrible when compared to the earlier books. The author was clearly running out of ideas for plots and adventures. She was also unsure how to breakup the most popular couple in her fandom, and did so terribly.

Harris maintained for years that she hadn’t decided who she wanted Sookie to end up with. While reading the first couple of books, it was obvious to me based on Sookie’s personality and goals. As a result, it felt anticlimactic for me and really rushed. It didn’t feel earned or natural how Sookie broke up with her previous (and probably the love of her life) boyfriend.

I could rant a bit more, but then I’d be spoiling the series. Then again, I am not recommending anyone finish reading these books. I think they stopped being alright around book ten.

If you want pulpy, silly vampire and southern book series, read the first four or so, then continue a bit more. Just don’t go beyond book ten.

Finished reading May 9 and May 13, 2014 on the Kindle.

Sunday Salon: World Cup and Chores

Sunday Salon

Hello, all!

Since last Salon, I haven’t had time to think about the blog very much. In fact, I didn’t even know the comments were broken and a visitor kindly contacted me about it. Thanks, Susan!

Yesterday, I finally did write a couple of posts on some books I read in May. I have a couple more posts to write then I’ll have caught up for those posts. I am still not reading though. I’ve been too busy.

I’m working at home these days which is not something I have done in awhile. I made progress this week, and did some cleaning and laundry as well. In fact, I still have to clean some more.

Knitting: Haven’t done any in months. I have to be careful otherwise my muscle memory will forget like it did five years ago. I’ll have to make time for it.

Fitness: Started running again on Thursday and I ran this morning. Just 4km each time, and today was better. I’ve got a 5km race in September, but I find running in summer difficult because of the heat. Hopefully I can get back to doing a regular 6km on weekends.

TV: Finished the new season of “Orange is the New Black”. I enjoyed it, possibly more than season one.

Later today, more chores, maybe some gelato, but now, finish the Netherlands vs Mexico World Cup game. I would have posted this post much earlier if I hadn’t been watching. I’ve got a soft spot for the Dutch!

Have a great week!

Sunday Salon: Return

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone! I am back for a late Sunday Salon. I got back June third, but I am still adjusting to life back in North America. I am recovering from a bad cold and jetlag.

This domain also just recovered from a downtime and being misplaced for at least a week.

My trip was both boring and stressful at times. I would like to say that I will post photos or blog about it, but I have learned I am a quite a bad travel blogger. I still have not posted the photos to when I was in NYC last year.

I will, however, blog some books reviews of the books I read while on my trip. I read 12 books in a little over three weeks. It was a good time to catch up on mostly fluff reading. Since I can group the books and I’ve forgotten a lot of the nuanes to them, it will probably only result in couple of book reviews in the near future.

Currently, I am still trying to read Kipling’s Kim, but I have also added Balzac’s Pere Goriot, and a biography on Deng Xiaoping. All three books that I have not touched since I got back from my trip.

Blogging to resume soon.

Have a great week!

Sunday Salon: May Break

Sunday Salon

Hello, everyone!

It’s been awhile since my last post. I have not been blogging or reading very much the last couple of months. In fact, I’ve been trying to read Kipling’s Kim for over a month now. It’s not engaging me, but I actually do not have time.

I have been preparing for a trip to China. In fact, I will be gone from the blog and most of the internet until June 4th.

The good news is that I have loaded up my Kindle and bought a new book for the trip. I rarely buy new books. I’ve actually resolved not to buy any books until Christmas, but I had to buy these books as they were French! It was special occasion. I bought Balzac’s Pere Goriot and how could I resist the urge to buy the classic Le Petit Prince.

All my other hobbies have fallen to the wayside as well. I don’t knit as much, and I am taking a break from running until I get back. I have been doing some hot yoga though. I still watch a lot of TV shows.

With summer coming – my traditional reading season – I can hit the books more, work out, and have more hobby and outdoor time.

Be back in June. A la prochaine!