A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

A Civil Contract

On the heels of Devil’s Cub, this book is different in tone, characterization, and pacing. It is Jane Austen like and actually three of Austen novels are referred in the book. The set up is also akin to an Austen novel where there is a poor family and marriage as a way out of that. There are some really amusing supporting characters as well which is reminiscent of Austen. Unlike Austen, the protagonist is a Viscount in need of a rich wife.

This book is about a subtle romance or rather should I say, it’s about two people getting to know each other in a marriage of convenience. It was fascinating to watch two generally good young people enter in a marriage of convenience and grow accustomed to one another. I just can’t think of many stories where that happens and of course, it’s no as prevalent as today so modern stories don’t really feature this kind of theme. Though this kind of contrivance and the novel’s love triangle remind me a lot of Korean dramas.

The narration kept referring to how plain, homelely and down right unpretty Jenny the female lead was. She could not have been that bad. Honestly, one can overlook that sort of thing readily, but I guess it is a accurate to that society that they cared so much for her looks and mien. Still, she couldn’t have been that ugly, I’m surprised Heyer didn’t give her some redeeming physical feature other than her smile.

In any case, I don’t think people expecting passionate romance like that of Devil’s Cub will be pleased with this novel. It’s more serious, historically rooted (set at the time of Waterloo) and real. The dialogue and the conflict felt very real between the characters at times. A Civil Contract was published in 1961 some thirty years after Devil’s Club so the author herself had matured.

I liked this novel. It was more slow paced, but it was still interesting. I grew fond of the characters; they were all realistically flawed, but good people. I also like unconventional romances so this was right up my alley. I was impressed with the range Heyer showed in both these novels and it has made me a fan. I am now going to go through the rest of her novels.

Read April 24th-25th 2012.

Booking Through Thursday – Changes

This week on BTT:

Has a book ever inspired you to change anything in your life, fiction or non-fiction alike?

There have been books I loved, books that I fell in love with, and books that changed my life, and they’re not always the same nor mutually exclusive.

I have read some inspiring books both fiction and non fiction. I don’t know if they have necessarily changed my life in a big way though. I think a lot of good books offer you reflection and introspection on your own life which can be a catalyst for change. That’s one of the best things about reading. I can’t really think of many books that changed my life in a big way, but the act of reading does make one think of things afterwards and that in itself can lead to change big or small. Certainly, my tastes change over time as well.

Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer

Devil's Club

This is my first Georgette Heyer novel. I have been curious about Heyer for awhile now. Since I started blogging about books a few years ago, her name kept coming up on the blogosphere. It was inevitable especially since I adore Jane Austen’s novels. Austen and Heyer are not exactly the same of course. Heyer is detailed and must elucidate on historical details such as fashion and dress.

I don’t really read a lot of romance books or whatever is considered typical romantic novels now. I do read some chicklit, but not a lot. The premise of this story is classic good girl ‘tames’ bad boy. I found the book a bit slow to like. There was a little too much showing how rakish (almost sociopathic) Vidal was at the beginning. The whole premise of him kidnapping Mary makes them both look ridiculous. I found his initial threats to her distasteful; it’s not very romantic to me how they began their relationship.

When the leads started bantering, it got better. The book became even more addictive and engaging once they reached Paris (isn’t that usually the case?). Heyer is very good at pacing. There were many characters in this book and many misunderstandings. It was a comedy of errors almost. There was a lot of dramatic irony for the reader and made it a page turner.

I only wish we had more of the two protagonists and their time together, but still, it was a good escapist, light read. I have another Heyer after this which I am looking forward to as well.

Read April 22nd 2012.

The Best American Travel Writing 2011

Best American Travel Writing 2011

I have been reading this series for at least five or six years now. I can’t remember when I started, but I’ve read almost every annual anthology. I always enjoy these books. I would like the chance to read more periodicals, but I rarely have the opportunity. I also like reading about travel, but I have been doing less of that reading and indeed, travelling in general. I haven’t really travelled for the last two years, and it’s not good. I still dream of it, and reading this series always makes me appreciative of how big our world can be at times and how small we are. I enjoy how multi-faceted travel writing in these books are. It encompasses so many topics. In this book there is discussion and focus on Monet, NASCAR, Saudi Arabia, Haiti, Denmark’s Free Town, life on a freighter ship in the 1970, Moscow traffic, sense of direction, vampires, Miami and more. Travel writing itself embodies so many subjects such as news international affairs, politics, history, and anthropology to name a few subjects. Even though the book is titled The Best American Writing, many of the authors are not native to the USA and like good travelers are open after experiences moving around or adventuring abroad.

For many years, I think I’ve harbored some dream of being a travel writer. I don’t know if I have the necessary ability for it, but writing and travel are two of my passions so it stands to reason that if I ever got the chance to be paid for it, I’d take it. I doubt that will happen anytime soon, but when I travel, I try to write. I think it’s a natural marriage of sorts. So I will continue to dream of travel and my pen will be ready as well. In the meantime, I should read more travel books.

Read April 21st 2012.

Sunday Salon: Catch-up

TSS

It has been a lethargic week for me and to be honest, I hadn’t read a book for two weeks until yesterday. Yikes. It’s suppose to be a year of me reading more again. I remember summers as a teenager and two weeks without a book would be very strange. It use to make me angsty when I didn’t have a book on hand.

To be honest, I have been doing much of anything lately. The days are a blur. Still, with impending library books due, I read one yesterday: The Best American Travel Writing 2011 (review up tomorrow).

Now that I’ve hit my stride, it’s a reading weekend so I will start another today among the To Be Read queue. It will be my first Georgette Heyer today:

The Devil’s Club by Georgette Heyer
A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
The Maladjusted by Derek Hayes
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

And more. There is always more books for me to read. It’s a cloudy weekend so it’s perfect time to stay indoors. What are you reading this week?

Booking Through Thursday – Pet Peeves

BTT this week:

What are your literary “pet peeves”?

At first, I didn’t know how to answer, but on more thought: precocious child geniuses. I don’t know why, but the reason I couldn’t stand Artemis Fowl was due to the eponymous character. I know he is an antihero, but the fact he was 12 made it worse. Similarly, I didn’t mind the mystery in The Sweetness at the Bottom of Pie, but the preciousness of Flavia de Luce prevented me from reading more of the series. It’s a bad sign when reading a series of novels when you find the protagonist so annoying. I still read young adult and children’s books and there are lots of characters I still like from that world, but when they get particularly arrogant, it really irks me.

That really specific archetype aside, I usually don’t like fictional books where the characters are motivational less or static. I don’t mind unsavoury characters or those unlike me, but they should be entertaining and interesting. There are a few books where I struggled to feel for any of the characters and this ultimately makes me dislike a book.

Booking Through Thursday – Eternity

This week’s BTT:

What book took you the longest to read, and do you feel it was the content or just the length that made it so?

I think the content is usually what makes it take awhile. I thought about this for a bit, and the longest book was JRR Tolkien’s The Two Towers. I read The Fellowship of the Ring and started TTT, but I was getting bored so I put it down. Soon after, someone gave me the last two books for a birthday present as well. When that happens, I’m even less inclined to finish a book because I know it’s there. So I left it in limbo for at least 5-7 years. I can’t remember when I finished it exactly but it was definitely over five years later. I wasn’t actively reading it. It just fell by the wayside.

Length doesn’t bother me. I read War & Peace in two weeks and actually enjoyed myself because of the content.

WIP Wednesday: Blue Cardi continued

Progress on my blue Garter Yoke Cardigan:

Sweater WIP at Instagram
Taken on the new iPad 3 and Instagram since I wanted to test both features.

I finished one sleeve yesterday. While I was doing the body, I didn’t want the sleeves to take up my remaining yarn so I put the body on hold (it’s beyond the waist shaping now) and started the sleeves. That way, I can make this a fairly long cardigan. I am really liking this royal blue from Patons Classic Wool.

Let’s be honest, I’d have finished this sweater in less than two weeks given my situation. I’ve been very slow with it and spent a few days not even knitting a bit. I know knitting hasn’t been on my radar as much lately because of that and the fact I haven’t been on Ravelry much. I was a bit sick the other week and distracted with other things. I also haven’t been watching shows or movies that much and I almost always knit during those times. I don’t really sit and knit; I’m usually watching something while doing it. Even with lace!

In any case, the Crazy Zauberball I mentioned a few weeks ago, I bought as a birthday present to myself. Yay! Except I have no idea what I will do with it yet.

I’m nearly done this cardigan and due to my lack of knitting mojo, I haven’t really been excited for my next project. Maybe I will take a break and knit some hexipuffs. I haven’t done that since last year; I can make a couple and then plan my next project.

Do you ever feel you lose momentum during projects and why?

Check out other WIPW at Tami’s Amis.

Timeless by Gail Carriger

Timeless

Timeless is Parasol Protectorate No. 5 and the last of this series. I have been reading this series since late 2010 I think. I like it because it has comedy, supernatural elements, steam punk and urban fantasy, but it isn’t as dark as some of the latter two elements usually. It’s fun ‘fluff’, but it also has some wit and great diction. The series is found in the young adult section of the library, but all the characters are adult and there is sexuality in it.

What I really adored from this series are the characters. That’s usually how it goes for me. While I like Alexia and Maconall, I have a fondness for the supporting characters and relationships: Professor Lyall (who reminded me of Harry Potter’s Lupin), Lord Akeldama, and Biffy. I was pleased that Biffy had even more prominence and perspective in the last book.

I recommend this series for those who like light supernatural series and Victorian times. It’s light and suitable for adults.

The next series The Parasol Proectorate Abroad will come out Fall 2013 and is suppose to be set twenty years in the future from the end of Timeless. I hope most of my favourite characters will become prominent in the next series and I look forward to seeing how Prudence grows into her powers.

Finished reading on the Kindle on April 7th, 2012.

Visit the author’s website at Gail Carriger.com.

Girl Reading by Katie Ward

girl reading

Girl Reading by Katie Ward is another 2012 “TV Book Club” pick. As often is the case, I saw the episode before I read the book.

The premise is that this novel is really a series of short stories based on artwork featuring women’s reading. Each chapter is one standalone story with characters and often incorporating the creator or artist.

There are almost no quotation marks in this novel. The dialogue is written without them. I’ve read other books that employs this literally technique, notably Jose Saramago. It’s not my favourite thing in the world, but generally the books I read can get away with it because the editors realize the authors are decent enough otherwise to not employ them. Still, I generally won’t recommend a book such as this to everyone because that kind of technique can be warying to most readers if they are not use to it or have the patience for it.

The stories are all very different, but they all feature female characters. I found it was easy to be involved and interested in the characters; the author gave a good sense of them in less than 50 pages. There’s an element of art history in this along the lines of Girl with a pearl earring, and I would recommend it to be people who enjoy art, history, and female literature. I liked almost all the stories except the one taking place in 1914. I didn’t really care for any of the characters in that and it seemed even more aimless than the others.

Aside from that, I liked this book. If you have read it, I’d like to know your thoughts.

Read April 2nd-3rd, 2012.

Here is a snippet from the segment on “TV Book Club” featuring the author as well:

Booking Through Thursday – Recommendation

This week on BTT, Bookish Sarah asks:

If someone asked you for a book recommendation, what is the FIRST book you’d think to recommend (without extra thought)?

Actually, I don’t have a book that I would recommend without extra thought to everyone. I tailor my book recommendations to people based on their interests, personality, and other books they like. I have a varying tastes so there is usually something I could recommend. It also doesn’t mean I love the book, but I think they can appreciate it more or just as well. I think I only know a couple of voracious readers, all the others are casual or non readers. I don’t try to push books on anyone unless they ask and with thought, it makes the experience better for them if I consider.

The Hunger Games movie

Hunger Games

It’s been over a year since I read the books, but I did enjoy them for the most part. They are entertaining and it is definitely a series which I thought would translate on screen especially since the author Suzanne Collins wrote the screenplay and seems to be so involved with the films. I enjoyed the film too, and it is hard to condense such an action packed book into a film even if the film was 2.5 hours.

The casting of Jennifer Lawrence was perfect as I anticipated. I saw her in Winter’s Bone (which I also read). The protagonists of THG and WB are essentially the same: independent, strong young women with younger siblings, unstable mothers, and no father. Lawrence has this ability to be both strong and steely, but also very quickly and naturally, sensitive and vulnerable. I like that she herself looks normal physically without being too skinny. She is one of my favourite young actors. I also liked Lenny Kravitz being cast and few people could have taken on that role.

When the guys were cast, I was more unsure. Peeta was one of my favourite characters in the books so I wasn’t sure about Josh Hutcherson. It wasn’t until recently that I found out he was the kid from Bridge to Terabithia! That and the promotional interviews made his image ascend in my eyes. I thought he did a decent job for what’s written. They even toned down the romance. The guys don’t really get a lot of stuff in this movie. Gale has such a small role up until the third movie and Liam Hemsworth is unremarkable likewise.

The emotional note in the book for me was and the played onscreen as well. I did like how it was an epic movie and that they obviously built and designed so much of the film. I was also impressed with the music. It was effective especially in the action and darker scenes.

All in all, I look forward to the sequel. As a reviewer and someone who reads and watches adaptations, I am lenient on these things. I just want to be entertained and to escape, and this did that for me.

Watched April 3rd, 2012 in theatres. I usually don’t see movies in theatres very much; I average about one of them a year now. Years ago, as a high school student, I would go to see movies in theatres all the time. I would often go alone; I watch movies alone all the time even now. It was a bit addictive back then so I stopped. Everyone was telling me how good The Hunger Games (or my friends who had also read the books liked it) so I decided to go for it on cheap Tuesdays.