Category Archives: book

Books and Inspiration

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I have read, or listened to, a couple books this year that have inspired other things. A television series and another book. I have read Poldark by Winston Graham, inspired a show on PBS, and Jane Steele by Lindsay Faye, inspired by Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I didn’t realize until now but I have opinions. I’m going to deal with both separately because both are different.

 

PBS has done a fantastic job on taking Graham’s book and turning it into a series. The first book, the only one I have read and there’s 12 total, is the first half of the first season. Why is everyone so good looking and have great hair in that show? I had a friend that saw I was reading and watching this on Instagram and asked me how I felt about it. I told her you had to like post-revolutionary war England and want to know about miners. That’s when I wasn’t feeling season one and only part way through the book. She watched the show, both seasons that are out, and loved it. I ended up loving the second season and we fan girled just a little bit together. I don’t have many people to do that with but that’s how good this gets. I think that the overall story is slow. But there’s details you have to know and characters you need to get to love or hate. It’s so easy with film to change what happens in a story in exchange for time. But it’s PBS so they do a pretty good job.

 

Lindsay Faye, what can I say? You did something. Now, forgive me if I’m a little harsh because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books ever. The book is structured like Charlotte Bronte novel, exactly like Jane Eyre in fact. She goes so far as to have Jane Steele compare herself heavily to Jane Eyre.  It starts with a child living with cruel relations, goes to school and eventually goes to be a governess in a house with secrets. Mr. Thornfield? HONESTLY? Yes, the homage to the original novel is great. I also know that you cannot write a book word for word because that would be plagiarism and that would end Faye’s career. But could there be a better last name for the guy? I guess it’s cheeky and isn’t so bad. There were historical elements I had to look up. Steele seemed to lose some of her edge when she turned a governess. Maybe because she ended up loving the people and she felt at home. She was not as cold. A part of me wants to say he turned into a woman who almost didn’t know what to with herself. Jane Eyre always made up her mind and knew who she was. Couple other things. Clark just leaves which blows my mind. Steele saves her life and then Clark was just out of there. Yes, it’s more complicated but still Clark. Get your life together. I listened to this and every time the narrator said reader, I heard Rita. There were a few times where I was doing something while listening and I would stop and ask myself who Rita was before I realized she said reader.

 

It’s interesting to see differences and similarities in works of inspirations and they’re offspring. It’s always a good discussion for a book club. You can always find inspirations. Shakespeare’s works has been turned into so many different movies and inspired different works. You could have a whole book club on Shakespeare inspirations and have a lot of material. The problem is, there’s so much out there that you have to go through or weed out the crappy stuff. Then if what you’re reading or watching is a recommendation, you have to be careful about who you take a recommendation from because they might not understand you and your tastes and if you take the recommendation and you hate it, you have to be careful with that person next time you see them. Sorry for that horrible sentence. But I’m not taking it back.

 

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The Bookseller Review

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The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson is not a bad book. It is a book that if you don’t think much about, you won’t mind it. But I’ve overthought it for you because I overthink everything.

Let’s talk about the bad things right away and get that out of the way. My biggest problem is with the end. Swanson had a perfectly good stopping point and then it seems that she had some extra time before her deadline and added some more and ran out of time. Then the publisher said okay, whatever you want and published it. I feel like it didn’t end well. I feel like there was loose ends that really, REALLY needed to be tied up. I would have ended it after Kitty saw her former friend and saw her parents. End story. The friend situation bothered me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve royally screwed up a friendship before and it hit a nerve or this is just one of those things where it wasn’t handled well. After years of letting things settle and for the reason why Kitty backed out, there would be a little more grace for what happened. But I don’t know. I’m not always the person to ask when it comes to relationships. And what the crap is with this title? Yes, in one life she is a bookseller and that’s what pretty much drives her in one life but this book is way more of her finding what life is the real life and which one is fake. And what is Kitty’s husband? Average with amazing eyes or hot? I guess I understand that her opinion changes with how she feels about him but I hate when people do that in real life so in books it bothers me.

I am completely fascinated by the premise. At first I was like, yeah, she’s just dreaming the one life and then not long before she realizes it, I start to wonder if she has it flip flopped. Kitty did say after she figures out that the one life was very convenient. I did like how this book started which is so weird for me to love a beginning and hate the ending. I usually will say I love the ending. There are parts of each of her life that I really like. One life she is more conventional than the other and I don’t know how I feel about that. Both ways Kitty is painted seems to fit her. I want to like that there are triplets in the story. My mind stops from liking it and I don’t know why. I think having children, especially one with a disability, adds dimension to the book. I do really like Lars. He seemed like a really good guy that I would get along with. The kids seemed pretty good but I saw her parents as being part of a faction of people from a certain generation that would bug me about not being married and then be too sweet. But people can annoy me so don’t take my word on the parents.

I do like that Kitty sees how her life is both ways. It makes me wonder what my life would be like if I had gotten married after college and had kids instead of stayed single and traveled and basically have the life I do now. 99% of my life I wouldn’t change but it’s still interesting to think of an alternative life, just as long as I keep it a fleeting thought.

This book does have dimension to it and I don’t completely hate it. It’s a good book if you’re looking for a half decent book. Like I said, I would have loved this book a lot more if the end was different.

Life and Book Update.

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I apologize. I haven’t blogged in quite some time. I was gone longer than I should have. And it isn’t because I haven’t read. Because I have. I mean I read A Little Life and didn’t blog about it. If I were going to blog about any book in the last few months, it would be that one. December was one heck of the month. We had several snow storms and I was waiting for a storm since I came back from Hungary but the snow can stop now. I got stranded in town for three days and it wasn’t fun. And I might have to stay in town for the next few days again cause of the wind and snow.

I feel like it has been very common knowledge that I have had my demons since I have been back from Hungary. Depression and anxiety, though not officially diagnosed. And I do have to point out that my experience is not as bad as others. I know I have it pretty good. I just have to get through my own head. I know. And I do feel like what I’m feeling is not as intense as it was when I first came back. The anxiety is just an annoying hum in the background and I have to learn how to deal with it.

But let me talk about the books I have read recently.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. So much better than I thought it was going to be. I did this on Audible and it’s 33 hours long. It’s a good thing that I got a dog to walk so I can listen to this. Oh yeah, I got a dog. Named Florence. I went into it expecting that the hype made it out more than it was going to be. No, it was legitimately good.

Jackaby by William Ritter. Not as good as I was hoping it would be. It’s very young Sherlock Holmes and yeah. Not a fan.

A Man called Ove by Fredric Backman. This wasn’t so bad. I didn’t love it, but it had it’s moments that it was charming. I have his other book trying to read but I have a hard time getting into and staying in the story.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I was nervous about this one. I have had it on my TBR for a while but then I hyped it up in my own head. It was good. I love the ending.

The Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers. I got this book when I made a trip to South Dakota and it’s by a South Dakota author. I couldn’t do it. I’m sure some people love this book but I couldn’t finish it. Nope.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I feel like I have read this plot before. It is definitely not my favorite YA.

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan. The second in a series. I’ve said this before about Riordan and I’ll say it again, he has the same voice in every book. I like it cause of the sarcasm but find a new voice for a main character.

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balsom. I liked part of this book. I liked the flashbacks and I like the elderly man but I hated the relationship between the P.I. and the lawyer. They didn’t have to hook up but they did. Could have been better written.

Rosemary by Kate Clifford Larson. Confession: I was sick during listening to this book and fell asleep during part of it. It was good though. I thought.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s about time I read this. I actually listened to it. It as good. It’s a book I do better listening to rather than reading. It sinks in better. It does give me flashbacks of watching the last Hobbit movie in Hungary. I fell asleep during that movie. I didn’t fall asleep during the book.

A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and the Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens. It was timely. I really liked the Carol and I skimmed the other two. The Carol is probably my favorite Dickens.

Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julien Rubinstein. Oh Hungary. I love Hungary. I love learning about what happened in Hungary. I think it was well written and it was enjoyable for me cause I recognize names and places in the book. I think this book isn’t for everyone but it definitely good.

I will try to keep up with blogging this year. I will not guarantee it.

Winter Garden Review

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First a personal update. I got a dog. I went to my 10 year high school reunion. I realized that I can’t handle people’s struggle as well as I thought I was starting to do again. I know I have my issues, it just sucks when my issues get in the way of a friendship. I can’t go back now. All I can do is learn from my mistakes. I could write posts upon posts on how I have made a lot of mistakes in the past few years with relationships and how not to make these mistakes. But this is a book review blog.

If you’ve followed my blog for any time, you probably have figured out that I’m a sucker for historical novels. It blends my English degree and my history minor. And because I have a weird fascination with war and I did my senior paper in college on this war, World War II is my weakness. And I have this little spot in my heart about families that try to connect again. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah hit a lot of those spots.

This book is a about a family that has their issues and the mother tells her girls her story without really telling them it’s about her. They have to figure it out. Which is nice to bring them together. It’s nice how that works out. They all open up and get closer in this book. I really don’t know how to feel about the parents’ relationship. Do they really love each other? Did they grow to love each other? How did she really feel about marrying an American soldier? Are they participating in polygamy? The first guy was alive the whole damn time. I’m sure they learned to love each other. He was way more open to loving but I don’t blame her for closing up. I close up a lot for more petty reasons. I mean she did learn to love him, she had to with how she reacted after he died. I do appreciate how she told her story. I like she told it as a fairy tale and I like how they started in regular print and then have a break in a sentence and go into italics. It helped me pay attention because when I know that there’s a story within a story, I space out usually.

I think the girls are way younger than what they really are. Especially with the nicknames. My siblings and I had names we called each other but we haven’t used those names in years. And the girls are in their 40/50’s? What’s the deal? Are they reverting to their childhood?

I get the relationship that these women have. Mainly because I shut down when something happens just like these women do. But I’m glad that they broke down their walls and became close again. There’s hope for me yet. I also like that there was a journey from being told that you are like your mother and hating it to thinking that a pleasure. I also relate to the girls because they’re close to their father. I have always considered myself closer to my dad. And that ending with the real Anya. It makes me happy. The world is right again. It makes me happy they found each other but upset that the mother didn’t find her true love until a year after he died. That’s lame. They should have found each other and then oops, I married another man. But I get what was going on.

I love the writing. Other than the reverting to the childhood. Definitely a go back to book.

Empire of Storms Review

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So until today I thought I was wasting my time. Wasting my time with the Throne of Glass series. It’s not that I hate Sarah J. Maas. I like her. I don’t understand her cause she pushes out books like poop. (I work at a nursing home. If someone takes three days to poop, we worry. And Maas has a lot coming out. Hence the reference) But today, after a short 2 day stint of having anxiety about life, I finished Empire of Storms. I loved it. Or wait. Love is a strong word. Strongly like is better and I’m more comfortable saying it.

So I have reviewed this book on Litsy and GoodReads by summing up by saying everyone hooked up and kind of made friends. It’s true. And it’s about time some of these people hooked up. And I suppose rivalries were strengthened. This book grabbed me like the past two haven’t. The last two were decent but this one was like, hey let’s get back into the swing of things and make you emotionally invested before I end the series. I don’t even know where to start. I guess with the questions.

I do have questions. What’s with the cover? Pants in the front and dress in the back? Is it a mullet? Someone explain that to me. When did I start liking Manon? Who saw what she did coming? When did Aelin start being decent again? What’s the real deal with Aedion? What was with the ending and how do I process it? When will Chaol be back in my life? Why must you Lorcan? Why must Rowan and Aelin’s marriage not be shown? I do understand that question and appreciate that. Those are questions off the top of my head. Just think what I could do with some time.

Let’s take it by couple by couple.

Aelin and Rowan. I love them together. I know I was team Chaol for a long time and I still am and I want him around but Rowan is better for Aelin. I’ve known that for a long time but I was in denial. I love that they’re married and the realization that they should have always been together. And you go get your woman Rowan. You’ve waited way too long for this.

Manon and Dorian are all sorts of yes. When Dorian’s other girl was murdered, I was like ‘oh no you didn’t’ and now it’s okay. They can be feisty together. I like that Dorian is coming more into his own and knowing more about who he is. And Manon. Well look what she’s done with herself in this book. That is all sorts of good and I love her now. I didn’t understand what the witches were for when they first appeared in the series but now it all makes sense now. I find myself not predicting author intentions as well as I used to. But I do say that I like this relationship.

Lorcan and Elide. This is another relationship I love. It’s the relationship that has a hate that turns into love. She seems so innocent for him and they joined a circus. They did that in the last book I read too. There’s a theme here. It means I should grow a beard and join the circus as the bearded lady. They’re another couple that do so well together.

Nehemia and the queen. Need I say more? I said a lot of what the hell with them and their plot line.

If I had to complain about this book, it’s that the couples fit way too nicely together. I do like what Maas did at the end and am really excited for the next book and let’s face it: it’ll probably be out in the next year and a half. How does this woman have time to do book tours and juggle two series? Diana Gabaldon goes years between books and Sarah J. Maas busts them out like nothing. Yes, I realize that Gabaldon has more research to do but they both have intense world building skills. Anyway, go read it. I mean, if it’s your kind of book.

A Curious Beginning Review

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I took a mini vacation to the Black Hills this weekend. I took five books along for 3 days. I didn’t get to them all. I did read A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn. It’s the first book in The Veronica Speedwell Mysteries and this is at least a trilogy. I haven’t read any of Raybourn’s other novels. But according to the New York Times, she’s a best seller. So that’s saying something. This will be a short review. Nothing against the book, it’s just how it is.

Let’s point out the one major thing that is this book. I don’t feel the Victorian era very much. I know that Veronica is not supposed to be your typical Victorian woman. But no one in this book feels very Victorian to me. But then I asked myself what the purpose of the book was for. It’s not supposed to be a fictionalized history of spunky females in the Victorian age. It’s for entertainment and I have to remember that. But that was my only real big complaint. That’s not so bad.

The rest of the book was good. I liked that there was an excellent vocabulary. I like the character interaction. The interactions between Veronica and Stoker were good. There was a general distrust between them that changed into a trust. If they don’t end up being married or even more like siblings, I’ll be surprised. The interactions with the other characters were great too. I liked that there was a little bit of mystery with all the characters all through the book. Everyone has their secrets and they’re revealed slowly and smartly.

Then there was the circus part. There was a reason for it. I didn’t quite understand to begin with but it definitely had its reasons. It grew on me. Even after dwelling on it after finishing it, it grows on me.

Overall, a decent book.

Slade House Review

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I’ve been in a major reading slump lately. Obviously, with the lack of posts lately. I’ve been tired lately. In all cases; emotionally, physically and mentally. It’s further proof I need a vacation from work. But I have been out twice in a week…with people…in a social setting. That’s twice more than usual. One friend is moving to the other Dakota soon with her husband and we went to a vineyard and the other time was for a good bye party for a friend that is moving to Virginia. But I’ve had two days off in a row which doesn’t happen often and I could do a little concentrating on myself.

I’ve been randomly picking up books, like I do, and I picked up Slade House by David Mitchell. I read it in a day. It would have been hours if I hadn’t taken quilting breaks. (remember that I haven’t hit 30 yet. I’m an old soul sometimes in my hobbies.) It’s just under 250 pages so it isn’t that long. I have the copy that has the gray-ish cover and I love this cover. It’s so pretty. It’s better than the yellow version because it fits the book better.

I went into this book with having just read the back of the book and I thought it was really interesting. Reading it, I think it is even more interesting. The concept of people being in or at a place that they want to be at and then completely changing is compelling to me. I think that each person that went to Slade House was very interesting. They were all vulnerable in one way or another and they all had their own weaknesses. And not only were the victims vulnerable but Jonah and Norah were too. In a totally different way like needing people every 9 years but they were still very dependent and had a vulnerability in their weakness. Eventually, with each person, I did want to yell at the person to get out of the house or not to enter it. Being the reader, you have the privilege of reading the back and knowing that there’s something not right. That gives you the privilege to yell at the oblivious characters. But why would they know that the house has something off with it? They haven’t read the back of the book. The back of the book was probably written at the end of the publishing process. And they can’t read the back of the book. They’re freaking fictional.

I have to bring up Norah and Jonah. First of all, I love the names. Then, I find them…I don’t know how to describe it. Like I want to be sympathetic to them but then not at the same time. Like I understand why they’re doing what they are and I understand the backstory but does it make it right? Where is the moral line? I’m finding myself thinking of those twins probably more than everyone else in the book. And reading the book again, I’d probably focus on another character but this time it’s them. I want to sit them down and pick their brains about why. But then I am fascinated with people’s backstories and why they do things. Fictional characters Megan. Fictional characters. They can’t talk back to you. This is proof that I need to get out more. (Don’t worry. I’ve been trying to be social. People just haven’t been cooperating with me.)

I have to give props to Mitchell for not just writing well, but every once in a while putting in a line that would make me stop and think. If I read a book in a day, I normally don’t stop and think about lines as hard as I did with this one. I saw one review that said Mitchell is really good at writing short stories and gluing them together and I hadn’t thought about it until then. But it’s true. Each section is a different person and they could stand alone but you still really needed the story before.

This book, to me, had the same feel as The Night Circus. I definitely think that if you like one, you’ll like the other. I liked Slade House better but it’s still the same feel for me. Let me know if you agree or disagree or what you thought of this book. To me it’s a keeper.