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Jan. 7th, 2011

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To anyone who may read this:
Please be advised that I am no longer using my LJ for blogging purposes.
If you'd like to read my latest news, please head over to my blog, which is updated regularly.

Thank you, and I hope to see you there!

Nov. 2nd, 2010

Book Review: Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

Mistress of RomeMistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


It's ancient Rome, and a Jewish slave falls in love with a Gladiator from Britannia. This begins the story of Thea & Arius, and their savage existence under Emperor Domitian's rule.



Sounds intriguing, right? If you believe the reviews it should be, but unfortunately for me, I simply could not get into this story. One hundred pages from the finish and I had to stop: I just could not bring myself to continue reading, not even after I had subjected myself to 300+ pages.



I don't know how to categorise this novel: Is it hist-fic? Romance? Something else? Perhaps I have become too much of a history snob, but I did not feel the story centered around Domitian enough to be based upon his life, especially considering that most of the characters and events in the story are entirely fictional. For me, the story lacked historical substance, and that was the greatest disappointment.



Another major issue I had with this novel was that not one of the central characters was likeable, nor could I relate to or connect with any of them: I could not care less what happened to them in the end, hence the reason for my not bothering to find out.



The purpose of many of the minor characters I couldnt understand: There's nothing more annoying than to have a character appear seemingly out of nowhere, and have the author try and establish their background and purpose to the story in a single, random paragraph.



I also didn't like the repetitive use of full names: It was unnecessary and added nothing to the story. Also, too many characters were inter-connected in too many ways. For example, why did all the characters have to have had sex with one another to be known to each other? I just didn't get it.



All in all, a disappointing read and not what I expected at all.


BCID: 024-8113004 (Bookring)



View all my reviews

Oct. 19th, 2010

Teaser Tuesday.


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
5. Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



This week's Teaser Tuesday comes from Kate Quinn's debut novel Mistress of Rome, a story about a Jewish slave, a Britannian gladiator, and their masters.

"He was the hero of the mob, the favourite of the slums, and the plebs of Rome poured their money uncomplainingly into Gallus's hand so they could pack into shaky stadiums and hang on his every move. They told their children he was a devil, they counted his scars and tabulated his kills; they howled and shivered and came back screaming for more." - p70

Oct. 18th, 2010

Book Review: Lady of the Butterflies by Fiona Mountain



BCID: 954-8369112

Title: Lady of the Butterflies
Author: Fiona Mountain
Category: Historical Fiction

 

"What was the point of living if it was not to learn? There were things I wanted to know, that I couldn't live without knowing, couldn't die not knowing, or not at least without trying to find out."

Fiona Mountain's debut novel Lady of the Butterflies is based around the life of entomologist Eleanor Glanville.

Eleanor grew up on the marshlands in Somerset, and was made heiress of Tickenham Court at her Puritan father's death. Eleanor was educated by her father in a manner that was unconvential for the time, teaching his daughter about the developing sciences as much as religion, and with little focus on "female tasks". This upbringing encouraged Eleanor's fascination with the natural world, and with butterflies in particular.

After her marriage to her first husband, Edmund Ashfield, and with plans in the works to drain the marshes for prime grazing land doomed to fail, Eleanor's interest in butterflies wanes as she settles into domestic life and becomes a mother. However, at Edmund's sudden death she establishes a friendship with London apothecary James Petiver, whose interest and knowledge of butterflies re-sparks Eleanor's obsession.

Her second marriage to Richard Glanville proves disasterous, and so Eleanor distracts herself in the collection and recording of butterfly specimens. Through this process the connection between the condition of natural habitats and butterflies was made. It was also these collections that made her famous, some of which can now be seen in the British Natural History Museum, and which lead to the naming of the Glanville fritillary in recognition of her efforts.

However, Eleanor's family did not share this appreciation. They used her interest in butterflies to found claims that she was not of sound mind in order to turn over her will and claim her estate.

Whilst Eleanor's exact fate has not been established, Fiona Mountain provides one of the most inspriring and clever endings to Eleanor's story that truly reflects her passion and determination to be free, like the butterflies she dedicated her life to admiring. This is not just a novel about a woman with an interest in butterflies: It is a story about the amazing and inspiring life of a woman who refused to be dictated to and restricted by convention, and whose tireless work in the study of butterflies has provided us with the understanding necessary to ensure their survival.

A beautiful story, impeccably written, and highly recommended.

Sep. 22nd, 2010

Wombat, Wombat, Wombat.



Ving the wombat takes a nap! Picture from here.


Today I discovered that it is possible to sponsor a wombat - one just like Ving (pictured above)!

Wombats are intelligent marsupials native to Australia. They are hunted for food and sport, and are killed by farmers who consider them a pest. A female wombat may only produce young once every two to three years, so it probably comes as no surprise that they are also endangered. However, they receive poor protection from government.

Everyone knows of kangroos, koalas and emus, but I think often the wombat is Australia's forgotten marsupial, perhaps because it is so rarely seen. We have wombats in South Australia. Where I grew up on the Eyre Peninsula the Southern Hairy Nose Wombat is native. I have seen wombats in captivity, and come across burrows, but I have never come across a wombat in the wild. Pehaps this is not simply because they are nocturnal and shy - Perhaps it really is because there are so few of them left?

If you'd like to learn more about the plight of wombats, please visit the Wombat Awareness website, and to sponsor one simply go here.

Sep. 21st, 2010

Teaser Tuesday.


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
5. Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



This week's teaser is from Fiona Mountain's debut novel, Lady of the Butterflies. It is a historical novel on the life of botanist Eleanor Glanville, a Puritan, set in the ancient marshlands of Somerset, England, after the Civil War.


"What was the point of living if it was not to learn? There were things I wanted to know, that I couldn't live without knowing, couldn't die not knowing, or not at least without trying to find out." - p152 


What are you reading?

 

Sep. 17th, 2010

Funny Pet Friday:



Every time I see this picture I have a chuckle and think of my Bailey-dog.

Funny story: At our house we must ensure that the toilet door is closed securely at all times. During the cooler months the frames swell and then the door will not shut without a firm tug. Bailey-dog knows when it isnt latched closed, and will push open the door. One evening I came out of the bathroom, which is located next to the toilet room, to find a trail of toilet paper going from the toilet, through the laundry, down the hallway and into the second bedroom. At the end of the trail of toilet paper was Bailey-dog, looking terribly pleased with himself.

I dont know what it is about toilet paper, but dogs seem to love it.

Sep. 13th, 2010

Book Review: Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks


BCID: 189-7770321 (bookring)


Title: Foreign Correspondence - A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Category: Memoir
 
 
 

 
 
I have been penpalling since I was 7 years old and am still in touch with my first pen pal. As a shy child growing up on a farm in South Australia, penpalling was a convenient way to make friends and learn about the world beyond my own, and over the years has taught me many things about people and the world in which we live.

 
This is the experience shared by Geraldine Brooks in her memoir, Foreign Correspondence. Her desire to learn more about the world through penpalling created the framework for the rest of her life, growing up to become a journalist and Foreign Correspondent.

 
After many years of silence, she decides to seek out the long-lost pen pals from her youth, the results of which are both unexpected and insightful. Through these people, strangers but not, she learns more about herself than she could have possibly imagined.

 
An interesting memoir, beautifully told.

 
 
Inspired by Geraldine Brooks' memoir and my own love for the lost art of letter writing, I am hosting a Letter Swap at my blog. If you are interested in participating, please stop by and leave a comment.

Sep. 7th, 2010

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
5. Share the title & author, too, so that others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



This week's teaser comes from Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over, a memoir by Australian author Geraldine Brooks (who wrote Nine Parts of Desire, Year of Wonders and People of the Book) and of how penpalling introduced her to the rest of the world.

"But the huge spaces, the deep silences, the vast paddocks free of road rules and stranger danger could never be transported to the black-bitumen blocks of suburban Concord. The great dark mass of movement from country to city is made up of little specks like me: children who don't have any land left to visit, except in their parents' memories." - p23


What are you reading?

Sep. 6th, 2010

Book Review: The Lady Elizabeth

 BookCrossing ID: 389-7314519 (Bookring)


Title: The Lady Elizabeth
Author: Alison Weir

Category: Historical-Fiction (Tudor)

 


 

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir is a novel of the early life of Elizabeth Tudor, before she became Queen Elizabeth I.

As a historian, Weir always ensures to incorporate plenty of historical detail into her novels, bringing the story to life for the reader. It is not difficult to imagine Elizabeth's detached, confused childhood, her father (King Henry VIII) being its only constant; she admiring him endlessly despite his decision to bring her mother's life (Anne Boleyn) to a brutal end; her love-hate relationship with her half-sister, Queen Mary I; the utter choas that followed the death of her father and brother (Edward); her life becoming an endless fight for survival, and her unyieling determination to secure her place in the succession.

Weir's skills as a fiction writer improve dramatically with The Lady Elizabeth, her second novel, creating for the reader a truly compelling account of the events that culminated in Elizabeth Tudor's rise to the English throne.

Highly recommended.
4 out of 5 stars.




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