Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Went to the library again today...

..and it was another grab-n-go. The boy was running around everywhere, so I just grabbed books randomly off the shelves with the bare minimum of a glance to make sure it looked like something I might not hate. So this is what I got:

The Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper, because I have never read it, because James pulled it off the shelf for me, and because so far this year I have kept my reading list *fluffy,* and I'm needing some more mental stimulation. Oh, and a bonus that I thought of afterward is that I might get some enjoyment from the description of nature in the book? I've been reading Last Child in the Woods and the author mentions that books about nature can also help our children (and us) become closer to nature. Sweet!

The Mage's Daughter, Lynn Kurland, which is apparently "A Novel of the Nine Kingdoms." I have no idea what this means, but apparently this is a fantasy novel. Weird. She usually writes cheesy medieval romances, which I enjoy, but which are also the ultimate in Fluff. We'll see how this goes.

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, Linda Berdoll, because I am in the mood for some more P&P. But I am expecting to be disappointed, because honestly, I can't imagine it gets any better than the Pamela Aidan series I just finished. Also? I seem to remember that there was a "sexy" piece of P&P fanfiction that came out a few years ago...and now I'm wondering if this is it, since the back says, "Whoa, Darcy!" We'll see. The good thing about the library is, if this turns out badly, I can just slip it back in the return slot. I'll let you know!

And finally--Everything You NEVER Wanted Your Kids to Know About $EX (but were afraid they'd ask): The Secrets to Surviving Your Child's Sexual Development from Birth to the Teens, Justin Richardson and Mark A. Schuster. This is not a grab-n-go. This is a book that James pulled off the parenting shelves and wouldn't even let go of long enough for me to read more than the title...but you know my feelings on getting bad books from the library, so I got it for him anyway. And lo and behold, when I cracked it open at home, it was funny! And it seems like it might be a good read, even though the subject isn't really on my radar at the moment. We'll see what happens with this one too.

Monday, February 25, 2008

These Three Remain

The third "novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman," by Pamela Aidan.

The conclusion of the events covered in Pride and Prejudice.

Absolute perfection!

That is all.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Duty and Desire

I finished this, the second of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy, several days ago, but since things have been crazy around here for awhile, I haven't had time to write the review. And now I'm in the middle of the third and final book already. So this review might not be the most coherent....here goes.

Usually, when you read the second book of a trilogy, you have to give it some slack, because the author has to continue plotlines introduced in the first book, introduce elements that will be important in the third book, but not really finish off the story just yet. It's a hard thing to do gracefully. But Pamela Aidan? She nailed it! Not only did she continue to develop Darcy's character in a meaningful, fascinating way that resonated with me as a lover of the original Pride and Prejudice, she also made this book into almost a stand-alone...I was NOT expecting it to be a Gothic Romance/Mystery novel, but it was! It was really great. My only complaints are that, because she really only introduced the mystery (think Northanger Abbey if you want to know what kind of writing I'm talking about) halfway through the book, it was a little...abrupt.

But still, superbly done and fun fun FUN to read. One of my favorite little tidbits in this book was when one of the characters is caught reading a new book--Sense and Sensibility! Clever and sneaky, Ms. Aidan...I like it!

I also like the Q&A with the author that is included in the back of the book, because she is much better at articulating what I like about the book than I am. ;) For example, she says that in this book she wanted to "put Darcy into situations that would reveal more of his character to the reader" and that she "wanted Darcy to be truly tempted by another woman. Elizabeth Bennet...should not just win Darcy's heart by default..." but rather she would be "providing him something to choose against in contrast to what, in Elizabeth Bennet, he would be choosing for." And she did just that.

Also? Some great website info and suggestions for "enhancing your book club experience" are included, which are exquisite. In this one, we have two of the author's favorite Austen sites:

The Republic of Pemberley


The Derbyshire Writer's Guild

which are both excellent and tons of fun! I'm sad I didn't write down the sites listed in the back of the first book. Drat!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Birth: the surprising history of how we are born

I've been wanting to read this book, by Tina Cassidy, since I heard about it shortly after James was born. Now I have, and I have to say--it wasn't that surprising!

Okay, it wasn't surprising...for me...a woman who has extensive knowledge of the history of childbirth and issues surrounding it. I would probably recommend it as a primer for those who don't know much about this subject, though. I enjoyed the organization of the book as well as many of the anecdotes contained within. My favorites were included in the "pain relief" chapter:

...Sitting at the head of his dining table, he tested all sorts of drugs on himself. One day an assistant recommended that they try chloroform, a relatively new discovery. They obtained a sample, filled tumblers with the "curious liquid," and drank it straight. At once, they became very chatty. Then incoherent. Then they crashed to the floor. When Simpson came to, he knew he was on to something. They continued to experiment with chloroform, albeit more gingerly, and even persuaded some women to join in the tests, including Simpson's niece...who cried out under its influence, "I'm an angel! Oh, I'm an angel!" (p.138)

...This method of administering pain relief was pioneered in 1898 by German doctor Karl August Bier, who injected cocaine into his assistant's lower back. To test whether the assistant, Dr. Hildebrandt, was numb, Bier pulled on the man's pubic hair, yanked his testicles, hit him in the shins with a hammer, and singed his thights with a cigar. Hildebrandt felt only vague sensations of being touched. (p. 162-3)

Good grief!

Anyway. So it was a fairly predictable read for me, with a few surprising and fun tidbits. It was written by a journalist, so it's supposed to be "unbiased" but of course it's not, really. Everyone has a point of view, and I just wish people were better at explaining where they're coming from. For example? This woman is still working under the modern-day American medical assumption that women's bodies just don't really work right. For example, when discussing when to cut the umbilical cord, she talks about how "there is some concern that allowing too much blood to flow from the placenta can raise the infant's blood pressure (p. 342)." Wait a minute...so our bodies were designed to need someone to clamp off the cord as soon as possible after a baby is born? But...we don't come with a sterile pair of scissors!

You know...it's just that whole mindset not being highlighted again. But luckily, that doesn't happen too often. She's generally fairly impartial.

So that's about it. The book was decent but not spectacular. My only other piece of advice is this: don't read it while pregnant! It has some fairly scary stories, mostly in the "medical fads" chapter. Just a word for the wise.

Now I'm off to read more Mr. Darcy! Yay!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

An Assembly Such as This

This is the first in a trilogy subtitled "A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman," so you can understand what attracted me. Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favorite books, and I simply adore Jane Austen. Last year I read Stephanie Barron's series featuring Jane Austen as a mystery-solver...delicious! And this year I was determined to read this Darcy series, by Pamela Aidan, to discover his side of my old favorite story.

What a story it is. I won't spoil it with too many details of the events themselves, but suffice it to say that these books bring Darcy to light in a most perfect way. He has ever been enigmatic at best. In P&P, he goes through what looks like a complete transformation of character at a distance--we don't really get to see how he moves from seeming scum to perfect prince, or what he's thinking about it all. Here, you do!

God, what a wonderful, fun, and perfect read. Really, I liked it. Can you tell?

Monday, February 4, 2008

When I Fall in Love

I read this book last week, and then we all had a puking sickness. I do remember that I liked it. I do remember that it was typical Lynn Kurland fare. I don't particularly remember the details right now. So this is what's left...

Lynn Kurland writes a lot of romance novels involving time-travel and/or medieval knights in shining armor. I almost always enjoy her writing, and this was no exception. One of the enjoyable bits about being a loyal Kurland reader is that she always gives you glimpses of previous characters' lives in her new novels. In this one, I got to see bits of probably 6 or 7 main characters of other novels, which was great.

But you know what? Her theory of time travel is...well...let's just say "unparsed." And since I really don't get it, it's starting to get confusing and cumbersome, all the people who are from the past who live in the future and the people from the future who run into them when they still live in the past and and the people from the future who stay in the past and then go into the future, in the future...well, you get the idea.

It was good, though. I liked it. But I'd be happy to forget all about it if it meant I could forget what happened after I was done with it. =)