Book 457: One of These Things First – Steven Gaines

Gaines, Steven - One of These Things FirstI had no idea who Steven Gaines was and after reading this, I don’t have that much more of an idea. I’d love to say I’ve done more research but I haven’t, but I may try to read Philistines at the Hedgerow later this fall as we’re going to a wedding in the Hamptons and it’s about property there.

All of this being said, my thoughts are not a bad thing, especially as I enjoyed his writing, but an observation of my usual lack of background knowledge going in to a book.

The lovely people at Open Road Media reached out to me with a copy of One of These Things First* as I had previously read In Youth Is Pleasure and I can see the similarities in story, style and experience even though they’re set in different countries and quite a bit apart temporally.

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Book 454: The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) – Deborah Harkness

Harkness, Deborah - The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3)Where do I begin with this?

It’s very rare that a series starts off and continues to pick up steam the entire way through. In my previous experience, there is usually a middle-book slump. In the case of Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy the middle book of the trilogy, Shadow of NIght, was the stand out, followed closely by The Book of Life and in a distant third, the trilogy opener A Discovery of Witches.

This could be because the entire series takes place over about a year (give or take a few months because of time travel), but more than likely I think it has to do with the amount of action continuously increasing as the series moved forward. This wasn’t necessarily a good thing as I’ll talk about below, but that’s my conjecture. Continue reading

Book 450: Sisters In Law – Linda Hirshman

Hirshman, Linda - Sisters In LawFour the fourth installment of our nonfiction book group, we’re learning about the amazing Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor. I thought I knew a lot about the “Notorious RBG,” but I knew nothing; and then add in what I learned about the FWOTSC (First Woman on the Supreme Court) and I’d say this was a pretty good addition to our year of biographies and autobiographies.

As interesting as the book was, I felt like there was so much from both their histories and from their time on the court that was left out of the book. Hirshman seemed to rush the first half of O’Connor’s time on the court and the last part of Ginsburg’s continued time on the court. It was disappointing because there are clearly so many additional amazing cases they had to decide that weren’t as glamorous as LGBT rights, women’s rights or racial equality.

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Book 440: Jane Steele – Lyndsay Faye

Faye, Lyndsay - Jane SteeleThis was incredibly entertaining and fascinatingly fun to read, but it wasn’t at all what I expected. I think perhaps I’ve read too many Austen fan-fiction novels that fit into one of two molds: modern retelling or prequel/sequel. There are the occasional paranormal/sci-fi mash-ups but mostly they fit within those first two molds. This novel was completely different.

I knew it would be different because the Brontë’s are such different writers, but I wasn’t aware how different it would be in terms of fan-fiction. I’ve only read a few Brontë fan-fiction works, 50% or more of which made me want better stories or better writing. When I reached out to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for a review copy I didn’t quite know what I was getting into, but I’m definitely glad I requested it!*

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Book 434: Eligible (The Austen Project #4) – Curtis Sittenfeld

Sittenfeld, Curtis - Eligible (The Austen Project #4)I really should’ve read Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility and McCall Smith’s Emma before I read this, but getting my hands on a galley/uncorrected proof copy from Random House* sort of made that a moot point. Perhaps I’ll read the other two soon as I loved this one so much. Needless to say, I’m proud I saved it for as long as I did. I always get a bit nervous when an uncorrected proof has in big bold letters “DO NOT PUBLISH YOUR RESPONSE BEFORE X DATE.”

I mean I get it, but it’s still like you want me to read this book and then keep mum on it. How is that possible!? It’s 1) Jane Austen, 2) ADORABLE and 3) hilariously modern in a way only Jane Austen can be made so. I’ll go ahead and warn you that this response isn’t all sunshine and roses though. I will say I was hesitant of the name-change from the original, but as I read it I was convinced with the okay-ness of it. There is a tangent later that is not a reflection of the book, but of some of the stupid comments I’ve seen recently of The Austen Project adaptations.

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Book 431: A Gentleman’s Position (Society of Gentlemen #3) – K.J. Charles

Charles, K.J. - A Gentleman's Position (Society of Gentlemen #3)I would love to say that this is another one of those opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone, but we all know I’d be lying through my teeth😀 After my last experience with a specific romance publisher, I’ve shied away from them unless they were Jane Austen related for quite some time. Thankfully this one is tangentially Jane Austen related in that it’s set during the Regency. Swoon.

I’m happy to say Loveswept* may have won me over with this one. After requesting a copy of A Gentleman’s Position (out April 5, 2016) and then devouring it, I think I have a new publisher to turn to when I want something a little more frilly to read! Seriously though, I need to get my hands on the first two-and-a-half books in this series! Now, I just need to keep myself away from their galley page because I want to read all the books by all the authors!

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Book 412: Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Are You My MotherAfter re-reading Fun Home for book group I dove right into the follow-up Are You My Mother? As much as I enjoyed it and ultimately identified with it, it didn’t live up to the magical experience of Fun Home. It’s hard to say whether this lack of magic was a result of the intense navel gazing or the less compelling surface emotional story. To be honest it could be the daughter identifying with mother as this is an experience/story that I will never experience in the same way.

This being said, the story was still eloquently and humorously told! The graphics were just as poignant and detailed as those in the original. I enjoyed the complete color shift from the green-gray to the red, especially when Bechdel revisited scenes from her earlier work and the emphasis changed slightly. The book list in Are You My Mother? wasn’t quite as long as Fun Home but it was still pretty impressive at 38 separate works listed.

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