Monday, November 2, 2009

Tracy Chevalier: The Lady and the Unicorn

One Word Summary: a mon seul desir
More Words: There is definitely something seductive about this book. I like Tracy Chevalier's style. While the story behind the unicorn tapestries is made up, I'd like to believe there is a real woman behind each one. And it's even better that the women remain a mystery to Mr Casanova, Nicolas des Innocents.

Plot Summary: Oversexed portrait artist, Nicolas des Innocents, is commissioned to design tapestries for Jean Le Viste's home in Paris. He fascinates all the women meets between Paris and Brussells with his seductive words (a unicorn pickup line-of all things). While Nicolas is at work the reader gets a snapshot of medieval life and a glimps at the workings of the human heart.

Do men always get what they want?
Which woman are you- scent, sight, touch, sound, taste?

Censorship: This book is full of sex and human desire, like Captain Correli's Mandolin I'd rather have my daughter grow up before she reads this book.

Three pre-teen books you can read in a day

How to Take the Ex Out of Ex Boyfriend, by Janette Rallison- Girl dumps her boyfriend in a fit of petty temper, and spends the next week trying to entice him back. This book is funny.

Slept Away by Julie Kraut- NYC city girl is forced to attend summer camp, where she learns the meaning of friendship. This book has fast paced language similar to Megan McCafferty cynical genius (errrr, I'm not saying J. Kraut plagiarized anything)

The Boyfriend Game by Stephanie Davis- Soccer girl discovers boys, and learns a little about being a friend.

Diana Wynne Jones: Fire and Hemlock

One Word Summary: Tam Lin
More Words: The cover of this book was a little creepy and a huge deterrent to even touching it even though I'm in love with Diana. I sort of danced around it at the library for three years. However I read in Nancy Pearl' s Book Crush that this was a Tam Lin Story and so I had to read it. I enjoyed reading Fire and Hemlock, I'll probably read it again. But I have to admit it's not a great book.

List of what I didn't like: It was a little surreal at the beginning and took awhile to get used to. At first I didn't like or understand Polly's friendship with Tom. And the ending was a little confusing. Not only confusing it was... well I didn't like it. {What's the word for something that is too unrealistic even for fiction}

What I did like: I like how the stories Polly and Tom made up became true. And the Fairy Queen was one scary lady.

Other Books:
An Earthly Knight by Janet Elizabeth McNaughton

Dianna Wynn Jones: The Game

One Word Summary: I want to be a comet
Kirkus says it all: A fantasy novella kindles a sizzling premise that fails to catch fire.
When I read the title of this book I got it confused with 3 other books...
  • Teresa Toten's The Game, which I really liked but have to recommend with caution since it's a teen book dealing with dysfunctional family issues.
  • A story I read a long time ago about a teen girl who gets stuck in a virtual reality game. It was really really fun. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
  • A story I read a long time ago about a two teens who become unlikely friends through an online rpg. Their friendship and private game help the girl to work through a traumatic event and her subsequent gender identity issues.

Katherine Paterson: Preacher's Boy

One Word Summary: The Bucket List

More Words: Katherine Patterson is a great writer. This book is easy and good to read. I bet it would be fun to read with a child so you could talk about it together. It has all the right elements: an adventure, a moral lesson(s), a satisfying ending. Only I seem to remember it taking a long long time to read. It was only 186 pages, which means... I wasn't that into it.

Plot Summary: It's the turn of the century, possibly the end of the world, and the preacher's boy has a list of things he wants to do before he dies and goes to... well it's not up.

Why couldn't Vile stay in Leonardstown?

This book reminds me of:
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Soup by Robert Newton Peck

Harold K. Moon: The Leah Shadow

One Words Summary: Polygamy-shmigamy
More Words: My mom went to Education Week and she brought me back this book (along with several others). There must be a whole bunch of people out there who love LDS fiction. Unfortunately I don't live on that island. The book was fine, and the writing too, but I for sure had a problem with the content. It made me feel so miserable for all the women who had to claim second place. Maybe love was different 120 years ago. Maybe it's possible to love and cherish and be loyal to more than one person. But I don't believe it.
Summary: A man marries a good woman. Fifteen years later he marries another woman. There's trouble with the law. The man flees to Mexico with his second wife. The first woman tells her husband not to come back for her, because she doesn't want to share him. He stays away until her death years and years later. Then he realizes how much he hurt her, but admits that he wouldn't have done anything differently because he loves his second wife.
Moral of the Story: It's wrong to break someones heart. Don't marry someone you don't love, even if you live on the frontier and there is no one else. And if you do... gosh you've got a real dilemna.
Note to self: what's the name of that romance with the exercise girl in it.

Georgette Heyer: Not Quite the Complete Ouvre

My Very Favourites:
The Masqueraders, Devil's Cub, The Convenient Marriage, Faro's Daughter, Friday's Child

The Favourites:
Regency Buck, The Foundling, Arabella, The Quiet Gentleman, Bath Tangle, The Unknown Ajax, Sylvester, Venetia, The Grand Sophie

The Good Ones:
The Black Moth, Powder and Patch, The Reluctant Widow, The Nonesuch, False Colours, Cousin Kate, Charity Girl

The Ones I didn't Finish:
The Talisman Ring, An Infamous Army, The Spanish Bride, The Corinthian, Cottillion, The Toll Gate, Sprig Muslin, Frederica

Not Favourites:
April Lady, Black Sheep, Lady of Quality

Not Regency:
Pastel, Barren Corn, Instead of the Thorn

Memorable Enough but Not Georgette Heyer:
Babe, Little Coquette, Bath Scandal, Escapade, The Bargain, The Rakes Rainbow, The Black Diamond, Rose Trelawney, Olivia, Scandal's Daughter, Mr. Cavendish I Presume, Winter Wedding...

Catherine Gilbert Murdock: Dairy Queen

One Word Summary: Moo!
More Words: I liked this book, let me tell you.
Summary: A not so bright and not so beautiful jock has a brilliant idea. After a backbreaking day on the farm D.J.'s arch enemy, Brian, calls her a cow because she always does what's she told and she's too stupid to care. This starts her thinking about how much her life sucks and about how much she loves football. DJ is determined to be anything but a cow, which is why she decides to try out for the boys football team.
Murdock's Other Books:
There's a sequel to Dairy Queen, Off Season, and it was very good. And there's a third, Front and Center, which I haven't read-but I will. Although I hope number three is the last one.
Murdock also wrote a Sleeping Beauty tale, Princess Ben, which had some great elements but was just okay.

Edith Pattou: East

One Word Summary: cold, hungry, and tired.
More Words: I think fairy tales are great. I think fairy tales that feature a girl who must be silent or blind to pass some test involving their lover fascinating. I think this story was slow moving. I think the writing was affected and dull. I think it could have been better than boring. On the plus side, I think the trolls and their city were cool. I think Rose was admirable because she could make clothes from scratch. I think she could do anything. I think she could do anything even if she were cold, hungry and tired. I think I'll probably read this book a fourth and fifth time, despite not liking the style.
Summary: Troll Princess falls in love with a human boy. Before she can possess him a human girl of his choosing can rescue him by passing an improbable test. Rule number one: The girl can't know anything.

David Mitchell: Cloud Atlas

One Word Summary: I love you, forgive me
More words: Without being sentimental, even a little, this story is about heartache. I really got wrapped up in the narrative. It haunts me still. I'll be going about my day and all of a sudden I'll remember something and I'll have to stop and chew it over again. The dedication was beautiful, although I didn't record it.

Other Books:
Stone Angel by Margret Lawrence
Fifth Business by Robertson Davies
I heard the Owl Call My Name by Margret Craven

Diane Setterfield: The Thirteenth Tale

One Word Summary: Sybling Rivalry

More Words: Ummm... I think I didn't really like this book. It's distinctly unpleasant and yet disturbingly compelling. It haunts me. It didn't turn out like I expected or wanted. Which is funny because the narrator and I both like clean fairy tale stories, and this one was upsetting and twisted. All I have to say is... poor cinderella.

Recommendations: You should read this book if you're in a miserable mood and would like to feel worse. I think my daughter can live a fulfilling life without this dose of reality. Really I hate to be mid-victorian, but I am and that's that.

People who liked this:
Anything by Torey Hayden
The Lovely Bones by AliceSeybold

Tracy Chevalier: Girl with a Pearl Earring

One Word Summary: 5 Guilders
Last Words: A maid came free.
A Few More Words: I liked this story. The writing was fluid and gorgeous and simple. I'm not a huge fan of clever artistic posturing, and this novel is so unaffected that I'm going to read all of Chevalier's work. I can't stop thinking about Griet's hair. It's so odd and wonderful to me that woman (maybe man too?) can be two contrary things at the same time. And a mystery all at once. I remember learning in an art class that beauty of a drawing lies in the unfinished elements. You know partial circles and disappearing lines so that the eye has to fill in the gaps. I like that. Griet's hair fixes that principle in reality for me.
  • What is wrong with Frans?
  • Why does Griet have sex with Pieter-the-son?
  • Does Griet even like Pieter-the-son?
  • Do men always get what they want?

Joanne Harris: Chocolat

One Word Summary: Transcendental-Buddha is a Woman
More Words: When I finally closed this book I felt unsettled and confused. On reflection, that's probably just as I ought to feel. If you've seen the movie the book is not exactly the same. Although, I can't really remember the film except that to say I thought it was beautiful. I think Hollywood wrapped it up nicely too. The novel has a less tidy and not-so-happily-ever-after finale. It ended on a plea. Harris left it up to the humble reader to choose which way the wind was blowing. For me- I can't decide.
Recommendations: This story isn't for the dogmatic (-izer or -ees). It's not for people who can't tolerate a little or a lot of negative christian stereotyping. It's also not for people against euthanasia or for people who have a problem with alternative lifestyles. This book is not relaxing. Don't pick it up after a long day at work, don't pick it up if your feet hurt. It's a good book to think about-it grows on you after you've put it down. Read it on a rainy day with a blanket a fire and a pizza (or maybe a box chocolates would be more appropriate).


  • What do magic, fairy tales, imaginary friends, Christ and chocolate have in common?
  • Why does Vianne have sex with Roux?
  • How is Vianne both domesticated and untethered?
  • What would you give up for lent? Would the sacrifice make you a better person?
  • Can a mother be everything for her daughter? How about a daughter to her mother?
  • Write a 80 000 word essay on the meaning of life.
  • Where did Vianne find time to do everything she did, including the everyday stuff that doesn't get written about? & decorate it all pretty?
  • Is it good to be attached to things and people?
  • Does life imitate art? (ha-mine doesn't!)

Other Books:

Middlemarch by George Elliot

Technical Difficulties

ummm... I'm back. and I've read a lot of books.