Jan. 7th, 2015

venetia_sassy: (101 Dalmatians // happy puppies!)
Let's see if I can can keep up with doing it weekly this year! I really would like to.

What I've just finished reading

Underline: Greatly enjoyed; highly recommend.
Strikethrough: Did not like; do not recommend.
#Meh# It was okay; had some good points but I'm not keeping it.

Fiction - new

Vixen in Velvet (The Dressmakers #3) by Loretta Chase

Light, frothy and fun but nothing so far has compared to Chase's Miss Wonderful/Mr Impossible/Lord Perfect trio. Even Peregrine and Olivia's return appearance as adults in Last Night's Scandal was no match for their appearance as children in Lord Perfect.

Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century #1) by Cherie Priest

Entertaining? But ... unmemorable? I liked Briar as the book went on but ...
it never quite grabbed me.

Charmed Life (Chrestomanci #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

Bizarrely, I have not read DWJ before despite having a number of her books on my shelves for years. Shocking I know. I have actually read The Tough Guide to Fantasyland and laughed myself silly over it but I tried reading a couple of her novels, got stuck and gave up.

Tried again and enjoyed this. I felt terribly sorry for Cat by the end of it and did rather wonder if things could have been better handled.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

TOUGH GUIDE TO FANTASYLAND! Oh, if only this one had been suggested sooner. Did find it a bit stodgy in spots.

The Year of the Griffin (Derkholm #2) by Diana Wynne Jones

Loved it, loved it, loved it. Harry Potter kids at uni, with strong whiffs of Unseen University. Friends helping each other out!

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle #1) by Diana Wynne Jones

This was one of the books I got stuck on (I think I just got bored.) Still not hugely thrilled but I liked Sophie embracing old ladyhood and I understand Coulson naming the toaster Calcifer now.

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein

It was hot and stuffy and I had a headache so why on earth did I read a book that I strongly suspected was going to make me cry? Well, I read it and I cried and the headache got worse and IT WAS SUCH A GOOD BOOK. A bloody clever one, with so many layers and ways of shaping a story. And the characters ... KISS ME HARDY!

#The Piano# by Jane Campion & Kate Pullinger

Flat, faithful adaptation of a very excellent movie that somehow managed to suck all the depth out it. Seriously, watch the movie, don't read the book.


Golden Afternoon : Volume II of the Autobiography of M. M. Kaye by M.M. Kaye

I liked the first volume, about her childhood, better. This did seem like an endless string of parties at times. But it's a very vivid portrait of a specific time and place (the Raj, between the World Wars) that will never come again. Kaye is an excellent writer and she draws her word portraits beautifully. Also with great humour when called for.

Joan of Arc: A History by Helen Castor

This is where I wish I'd kept up the meme last year. I know I read Joan of Arc: Maid, Myth and History by Timothy Wilson-Smith, found it unsatisfactory and got rid of it but I can't remember exactly why. I know that I was left wanting a basic bio of Joan of Arc and Castor's book suited me well.

It's not just about Joan (in fact, she doesn't even appear for quite some time) instead it places her story in the context of the time and shows why people, especially certain people, were prepared to believe in her, give her a chance - and then abandon her to her fate at the hands of English.

As an introduction to Joan's story, I think it's excellent. But if you want a book that focuses exclusively on her life then I doubt you'll like it.

The Great Crown Jewels Robbery of 1303: The Extraordinary Story of the First Big Bank Raid in History by Paul Doherty

Terrible. A potentially interesting story completely obscured by bad, repetitive writing and sloppy editing. The only bit I liked was an translated extract from Fitzstephen's Description of London.

What I'm reading now

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Champagne: How the World's Most Glamorous Wine Triumphed Over War and Hard Times by Don & Petie Kladstrup

What I'm reading next

No idea! Possibly Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens by Jane Dunn and something lighter in fiction?


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