- I purchased Mockingjay the morning it was released at the Brookline Booksmith (my favorite indie). I was a little nervous about just how long I’d have to wait in line to get it–I only had about half an hour before I had to get back on the bus to be at work in time, and if I was the type to bite my nails, they would have been to the quick because of my worry I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on it. So imagine my surprise upon finding only one other customer in the store! And she wasn’t even buying Mockingjay! I had to break out my Blackberry and check out everyone’s tweets to be sure I hadn’t imagined the excitement.
- In subsequent news, I am officially anti-epilogue. And note to self: Do not leave books you really want to read on your work desk when you can’t read them for hours. It will bring unnecessary anxiety.
- I started listening to The Boy With a Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu on Friday because it is narrated by Jim Dale (who also narrated the Harry Potter series). It’s not exactly my favorite book, but hearing Jim Dale repeatedly say “cunnilingus” is a life event every one should experience. …Or not, your choice.
- Book candy alert! I listen to a lot of audio books at work because a) the Boston Public Library has an amazing online collection that you can download, b) because I’m actually allowed to use my iPod at work, and c) it helps block out the conversations about Lady Parts and giving birth that my co-workers partake in on an almost-daily basis. This past week, I discovered Harlan Coben mysteries, and listened to not one, not two, but three of them. They are total ear candy, similar to watching a Law & Order: SVU marathon on television and bringing a similar guilty-pleasure feeling. (I kind of loved them.)
I attempted to listen to a Philip Roth novel this month; I’d never read anything by him before and I figured it was about time. My mistake was to choose The Humbling, a novella involving a past-his-prime actor who tries to reclaim his glory by exacting power over a masculine lesbian (dressing her up in sexy lady lingerie and having, uh, “hot” heterosexual sex with her). “Hot” is in quotes not because of the hetero-sex, but the ABSOLUTELY GROSS over-the-top descriptions of their interludes. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to be celibate.
- Despite that tragic experience, I will be trying another Philip Roth novel. I received The Plot Against America through Paperback Swap, a book recommended by Frank Rich in his excellent book The Greatest Story Ever Sold. Roth’s book is a speculative fiction work, on the premise of what could have happened had Franklin Roosevelt lost the Presidential election and the anti-Semitic pilot Charles Lindbergh had won. I have much higher hopes for that one, especially since it seems unlikely that there will be gratuitous, nauseating sex scenes.
Monthly Archives: August 2010
Bellfield Hall: Or, The Observations of Miss Dido Kent
by Anna Dean
(Originally published 2008 in England as Moment of Silence)
What It’s About: From Indiebound.org:
1805. An engagement party is taking place for Mr Richard Montague, son of wealthy landowner Sir Edgar Montague, and his fiancee Catherine. During a dance with his beloved, a strange thing happens: a man appears at Richard’s shoulder and appears to communicate something to him without saying a word. Instantly breaking off the engagement, he rushes off to speak to his father, never to be seen again. Distraught with worry, Catherine sends for her spinster aunt, Miss Dido Kent, who has a penchant for solving mysteries. Catherine pleads with her to find her fiance and to discover the truth behind his disappearance[...]
Why I Read It: I’ve been reading a lot of political non-fiction lately, and I needed a change. Bellfield Hall is set in 1805, and I thought the Austen-esque atmosphere would lend to a cozy, original mystery.
Why It Didn’t Work For Me: (contains minor spoilers)
- Dido Kent is an open rip off of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple–except Dido is younger and will therefore probably end up married at some point in the series.
- The characters frequently use the word “stuff.” As in, “I have some stuff in my pocket” or “I have some stuff to do.” I love ‘stuff’ as much as the next person, but for an historical mystery, I found the anachronism to be continually distracting and frustrating. And stuff.
- There is a terrible sub-plot involving a Colonel who, one can easily infer, is forcing a young male servant to have sex with him. Both the rape and the Colonel’s sexual orientation are played off for laughs, and does not affect the mystery in any way. It could have easily been left out. I found the plot very offensive, and I admit it clouded my opinion of the rest of the book.
What You Should Read Instead:
- If you’re looking for a regency novel: (Re)Read Persuasion.
- If you’re looking for a mystery with a classic feel (that is, in fact, a classic): Read Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.
- If you’re set on reading a regency mystery: Try this one anyway. You may like it more than I did.
BUT ONE MORE THING: I seem to be one of the few bloggers who did not enjoy this book. For other views check out these links:
Total Books Read: 21
Audio: 12 — 107.5 listening hours
Print: 9 — 2,065 pages
Fiction – 13
- Follow Me Down by Shelby Foote: I downloaded this book on a whim because I couldn’t make a decision on what to listen to at work. Oops. Foote is known for his civil war novel Shiloh and for appearing the Ken Burns documentary about the civil war. Follow Me Down is not about either of those things. It is also rather terrible.
- The Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian
- Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bonjalian: About World War II and the Holocaust. Very graphic, and very not suitable for work listening. Oops again.
- Bellfield Hall: Or, the Observations of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean: I kiiind of hated this book, and I’ve been surprised by the positive reviews around the blogosphere.
- All Sleek and Slimming: Stories edited by Lisa Heggum
- Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days) by Bill Willingham
- Fables: Wolves by Bill Willingham
- Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham
- Jack of Fables: The (Nearly) Great Escape by Bill Willingham
- Fables: Sons of the Empire by Bill Willingham
- Fables: The Good Prince by Bill Willingham
- Fables: War and Pieces by Bill Willingham
- Fables: The Dark Ages by Bill Willingham: I’m kiiiind of addicted. Although I need to catch up on the Jack series before I read the most recent Fables collection, Fables: The Great Fables Crossover. Because it’s um, a crossover of the two series.
Non-Fiction — 8
- This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson: There’s a lot to love here, especially for book nerds, but I was wary of the constant referrals to the Internet as “the web” and “cyber space,” and the narrator’s tendency to pronounce library incorrectly. (Although I suppose it just sounded wrong to my New England ears.)
- Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner
- It’s a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments by Amanda Marcotte
- Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McClain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
- The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman
- Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover: I really liked this book, which I read because of Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness. Now I want to read an in depth history of Sing Sing.
- Conservatize Me by John Moe: In the style of Supersize Me, NPR host John Moe tries to become a conservative by eating beef jerky, listening to Toby Keith, and talking to Bill Kristol. Shockingly, it doesn’t work.
- Love is a Mix Tape: Love and Loss, One Song at a Time by Rob Sheffield
Own – 1
Borrowed – 20 (19 from Boston Public Library; 1 read at Barnes & Noble)
USA, England, Germany, Canada
Oldest Book Read: 1950: Follow Me Down by Shelby Foote
Newest Book Read: February 2, 2010: Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian; This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
Favorite: Legacy of Ashes by Tim Weiner
Least Enjoyed: Follow Me Down by Shelby Foote; Bellfield Hall: The Observations of Miss Dido Kent by Anna Dean