Books

Book 502: Jane Austen, the Secret Radical – Helena Kelly

Perhaps I’m too smart for my own good, but overall this book was a bit disappointing. With a title like Jane Austen, the Secret Radical, you’d expect there to be revelations of sorts and yet there weren’t. I mean that’s why I requested a copy from the publisher.* I was hoping as the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death rapidly approaches there’d be something completely new and innovative to talk about, but there wasn’t.

Sure Kelly highlighted a few things that I missed when reading Austen, but really she just expounded upon the things that those of us who don’t read Austen ONLY as a romance novelist, but as a social commentator hopefully picked up on. She provided more detail of course, especially when it came to names and places, but overall there just weren’t a lot of revelations.

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Books

Book 416: Running with the Demon (Word & Void #1) – Terry Brooks

Brooks, Terry - Running with the Demon (Word & Void #1)Talk about coincidence! I planned to read the Word & Void trilogy early this year as it’s been on my shelf for far too long and a coworker from my last job (3+ years ago) recommended it. Add that we recently started to watch The Shannara Chronicles (IMDB link) and my interest in Brooks’ work increased. So when I started reading this and found out it’s a distant part of the Shannara universe my mind was blown!

I asked advice on whether to even consider the Shannara super-series and I find out I’ve backed myself into it inadvertently. Again, Mind. Blown. Although this is the eleventh book published connected to Shannara, it is the first in story chronology. I have no idea how many I will read, but I will most definitely finish out this trilogy as I was sucked in within the first few pages!

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Books

Book 394: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) – Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Galbraith, Robert (J.K. Rowling) - Career of EvilI was so excited this book came in early at the library. The best part about living in a bigger city is that we have multiple library systems so I wasn’t sure which one was going to come in first, but I didn’t expect either of them this fast. There were almost 200 people on the list and I thought for sure I’d signed up a lot later, but apparently not!

This is just as much a page turner as The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm and provides even more character development for Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. It picks up not long after The Silkworm and Robin and Cormoran have seen a successful uptake in business, that is until they receive a woman’s severed leg in the mail. And then they’re off on the chase. What always surprises me about mystery novels is how little action there can be, but with a great writer it still feels action packed.

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Books

Book 361: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Shelley, Mary - FrankensteinAs with 99% of the Classics I’ve read, I’m wondering what took me so long to read this one! Not only is it under 200 pages, but it’s quick and fascinating read. Add in that Shelley was only 19 when she wrote it and I’m like WHOA. This is my second Classic’s Club book this month, so yay for finally making progress on that again.

As when I read Dracula, I was surprised at how much of Frankenstein’s story was different from what has become the common perception of Frankenstein and his monster in pop-culture.I am happy to report that my reading of this coincided really well with other books I’ve read that are fan-fiction pieces, like Meghan Shepherd’s A Cold Legacy, and tangentially related books about the authors and their connections like another piece of fan-fiction, like Michael Thomas Ford’s Jane Fairfax Trilogy (Jane Bites Back in particular).

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Books

Book 356: The Witch of Portobello – Paulo Coelho

Coelho, Paulo - The Witch of PortobelloIn a further attempt to get a few more posts up while I’m on vacation I went to my TBR shelf and found I had two more Paulo Coelho novels yet to go so I grabbed them to read. They’re always easily written, well translated and fascinatingly beautiful and The Witch of Portobello (Amazon Affiliates link), was no exception. I’m actually not sure when I picked up this book as I can’t find a photo of it, so I’m going to assume it was sometime in 2011 right after I read The Alchemist.

Every time I read a book by Coelho, I find myself wondering about and searching for my spirituality. Whether he is talking about the Mother or organized religion (usually not), Coelho has a way of writing incredibly complex ideas and intricate narratives that is so simple and beautiful that it’s almost breath-taking. I do wonder if it is even more beautiful in his native Portuguese, how can it be so incredibly beautiful translated into English and not be beyond beautiful originally. So that being said, some credit must, obviously, be given to Margaret Jull Costa who has translated other works by Coelho including Veronika Decides to Die and Eleven Minutes (my next read) and many works by José Saramago including Seeing.

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Books

Book 355: Jane Vows Vengeance (Jane Fairfax #3) – Michael Thomas Ford

Ford, Michael Thomas - Jane Vows Vengeance ( Jane Fairfax #3)Book three of the Jane Fairfax trilogy just didn’t live up to Jane Bites Back or Jane Goes Batty. That being said, there were some great moments, but overall it just wasn’t as light or as fun. As an end to the trilogy, it did a decent job wrapping everything up as it should and leaving enough room to keep going if Ford ever decides he wants to write more, but I doubt I’ll read more.

Rather than keeping the story in Upstate New York, Ford takes the traveling circus that is Jane Austen’s new life on the road. From Jane’s best friend, Lucy, to the future mother in law Miriam, everyone who is important either goes along or is named dropped at some point. Ford again introduces a cast of quirky minor characters, but this time they felt lightweight and fluffy. There wasn’t a lot of substance to many of them and I was left wanting.

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Books

Book 336: A Cold Legacy (The Madman’s Daughter #3) – Megan Shepherd

Shepherd, Megan - A Cold LegacyI’m still torn on this novel. It’s been almost a week since I finished it. The response was delayed due to not knowing how to respond to the novel, but also my having to fly down to NC for family matters. On the plus side I got to visit Highland Books again, which the author’s parents own and run. If you check out the website, you can see her signing books in the shop.

I found it frustrating and satisfying. Most of this had nothing to do with the novel itself, but with the time between this novel and Her Dark Curiosity. I loved it and The Madman’s Daughter when I first read them, but I couldn’t remember enough of the details to truly enjoy this novel. Maybe this just means I’m getting old, but I’ve avoided starting any new series until it is either completely finished or it’s a long enough series I can re-read.
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