Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book/Series of but need to read More

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week was top 10 authors I’ve only read one book by but need to read more. I have expanded it to one book or one series as I’ve just recently managed to cross off a few authors that would have fit this meme. Here we go:

Top Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book/Series of but need to read More:

1. Sarah Rees Brennan of “Unspoken”
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/unspoken-the-lynburn-legacy/)
kami

This first book of a series blew me away and now I’m in the ridiculous situation of being behind on a series I started all my friends on because none of the bookstores seem to still be carrying the sequel now that I’m at liberty to read it. Even my local library has failed!

2. Rachel Hart of “Seraphina”
I love the characters and the issues in this work and am eagerly awaiting whatever she comes out with next, be it a sequel or something entirely different.

3. Kristin Cashore of the “Graceling” series
(Full review of “Bitterblue” here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/bitterblue/)

I adore the way her mind works and whatever’s next, sign me up!

4. M. M. Kaye of “The Ordinary Princess”
ordinary princess

This is perhaps my longest lagging. Those of you following this blog will know that I am absolutely enraptured with “The Ordinary Princess” and my expectations for her other works are through the roof. So far I haven’t been able to push myself into active pursuit of them in case said expectations get shattered. Still, it is a meandering sort of search…

5. Lauren DeStefano of the “Chemical Garden” trilogy
(Full review of “Sever” here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/30/sever-chemical-garden-trilogy-3/)
(Poem based on “Fever” here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/madames-turn-in-fever/)

DeStefano’s lyrical writing style draws me in and inspires me, as shown in the poem above!

6. Elizabeth Loupas of “The Second Duchess”
books_duchess

History, mystery, supernatural presence, and literary references lead by a courageous and persistent heroine, bring on more!

7. Alan Gordon of “Thirteenth Night”
thirteenth_night

I still must read more of this world where jesters run the show and Shakespearean intrigue continues.

8. Tom Reiss of “The Black Count”
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/the-black-count-glory-revolution-betrayal-and-the-real-count-of-monte-cristo/)
BLACK-COUNT-COVER

This historian has fantastic narrative, transparent research, literary references, and even the best footnotes ever. For example, one told the story of a British officer stationed in India who came to join (and die) in the French revolution, having developed “a strain of militant, Jacobin vegetarianism.” In the brief space of a normal footnote, not the giant “Moby Dick” type ones, too. Go read about Alexandre Dumas’ father!

9. Anne Eliot Crompton of “Merlin’s Harp”

This author’s version of fairies is the most similar to mind that I’ve yet seen in print. Also, we all know I love a good Arthurian tale, no?

10. Helen Frost of “Diamond Willow”

This book’s words are shaped in beautiful silhouettes, with bold words making a message at the heart of each section of this story about family, about love, and about growing up in a world where humans reincarnate as animals to watch over their descendants and survival is as much about friendship as oneself. It’s beautiful.

So, have any of you read any other books by these authors? Are as excited as me to see what else the newer ones will come up with? Have your own authors you haven’t got enough of through your slowness to find or their slowness to write?

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)

Heartless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 4)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2011
A steampunk historical mystery review

Heartlessthumb

Alexia Tarabotti faces continued assassination attempts on her person with hilarious resignation. Not so when a deranged ghost reports a plot against the queen. Alexia’s investigations lead her headlong into the Kingair plot of the past, the secrets of other women, and oh, yes-her final month of pregnancy.

Firmly back in London, and in control of husband, home, and helping, Alexia’s indomitable spunk and efficiency return this series to the light-hearted antics of Soulless. Heartless allows Alexia to upend supernatural society, even while it delves more deeply into her supporting cast. Biffy, Lyle, and Lord Maccon all hold together and even out the tone of this work so that the deep undertones begun in Blameless continue to support the world and characters of this creamier, more refreshing novel, like a tart on firm, chocolate crust. With plenty of fun and significant revelations, Heartless is an enjoyable rush to a climactic, parasol-dropping crescendo that will have you searching for the last book in Gail Carriger’s series.

Top Ten Books for a Beginner to Historical Fiction

This is a rendition of Top Ten Tuesday (and a Day…or Three) by the thebrokeandthebookish.wordpress.com. This week’s prompt was the top ten books you’d give someone to introduce them to your choice of a genre. I chose historical fiction because I feel there’s many wonderful books that are sadly overlooked.

Top Ten Books for a Beginner to Historical Fiction (many of which are just my top ten historical fiction books)

1. “Scaramouche” by Raphael Sabatini
-I know I mention this a lot and there’s an abundance of reasons for it! This book is set in the French Revolution and is good for drama nerds, lovers of wit, and people who like “The Princess Bride.”

2. “Mistress Wilding,” also by Raphael Sabatini
-This has one of my favorite first sentences: “‘Then drink it thus,’ cried the rash young fool, and splashed the contents of his cup full into the face of Mr. Wilding even as that gentleman, on his feet, was proposing to drink to the eyes of the young fool’s sister.” As you can see, it is high on passions, as well as British history and romance, in both senses of the word.

3. “The Borgia Bride” by Jeanne Kalogridis
Borgia_Bride
-This novel focuses on Sancha, bride of the youngest Borgia son and notorious in several tales. For fans of the Borgias, Italian history, “Game of Thrones,” scheming, and strong female leads.

4. “Master of Verona” by David Blixt
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-master-of-verona/)
-This is another Italian history tale, that focuses on Dante’s son and explains the feud behind “Romeo and Juliet.” Obviously, for fans of Shakespeare, Italian history, and those who like to discuss philosophy.

5. “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier
-This tale of a girl’s entanglement with Dutch painter Vermeer provides excellent insight into a historical mindset in a lovely succinct, brief manner for such intense themes.

6. “The Second Duchess” by Elizabeth Loupas
-Another Italian setting, Barbars marries the Duke of Ferrara in 1565. This is another literary crossover tale as it’s based on Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess.” For fans of poetry, murdery mysteries, and paranormal works.

7. “The Grand Sophy” by Georgette Heyer
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/the-grand-sophy/)
-This regency romance with a shockingly in-control heroine is a hilarious, quick read for fans of romance, Regency Britain, and humor.

8. “Her Royal Spyness” by Rhys Bowen
(Full review here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/her-royal-spyness/)
Her Royal Spyness
-This murder mystery set in 1930s England showcases a witty, practical, and engaging heroine who leads us on a light, quick read for fans of mystery, humor, British history, and reliable narrators.

9. “Lion of Ireland” by Morgan Llywelyn
lionofireland
-This history of Brian Boru brings early Ireland to vibrant, detailed life. For fans of Ireland, “Game of Thrones,” military tales, scheming, and “Vikings.”

10. “Catherine called Birdy” by Karen Cushman
-A fit introduction for younger readers, this daily diary book is set in 1200s England from a teenage girl who discusses holy days, marriage prospects, and daily concerns like food, animals, and who can fart at will.

Yes, indeed, if we switch out “Catherine Called Birdy” for “Baudolino” by Umberto Eco, this would basically be a list of my top ten historical novels of the moment. But “Baudolino” is not for beginners…So, if you aren’t one, I highly recommend it to you. What historical novels do you like?

Her Royal Spyness

Her Royal Spyness
By: Rhys Bowen
(http://rhysbowen.com/)
Berkley Prime Crime 2008
A Historical Mystery Comedy Review

Her Royal Spyness

Being thirty-fourth in line for the British throne proves utterly unhelpful to Lady Georgiana (Georgie) Rannoch. Nothing but royal expectations for Georgie’s future, but she is without the money, tolerable husband candidates, or conventional disposition to meet them. In this stifling situation, striking out on her own to London seems a great idea…except for the fact that she has no servants, cooking knowledge, or the ability to light a fire. Georgie’s quest to correct these oversights finds her mixing with new circles, learning scandalous secrets, and struggling with a murder investigation. Letting a dead Frenchman bring down her family name would never do, but can Georgie straighten it out while still managing to avoid deadly accidents and marriage machinations?

Lady Georgie proves a marvelous combination of Elizabeth Bennet’s good sense and sense of humor, and Anne of Green Gable’s penchant for new experiences and getting into trouble. The novel’s quick pace reflects Georgie’s quick wit and bright spirits. The supporting cast balance strong personalities with expected English types. The world of 1930s London appears with enough scope to draw everyone in, but never drags down the tone or pace. The mysteries bob and weave gracefully through the plot, buoying the reader’s enjoyment and fascination with Georgie’s world even more without proving overly suspenseful.

In short, this is a quick, delightful read with a heroine you’ll love to cheer on and a way of making one want high tea. Recommended for the society of travelers, beach-goers, and at-home readers, Her Royal Spyness introduces a world I’ll be glad to read more of.

The Puppeteer’s Apprentice

The Puppeteer’s Apprentice
By: D. Anne Love
Aladdin Paperbacks 2003
A middle grade historical fiction review

There seems to be no place in the world for orphan girl Mouse, abandoned as a baby on the steps of a medieval manor house. When things go from bad to worse, can a little courage and determination enable Mouse to choose her own way, to become…The Puppeteer’s Apprentice?
The book read like a sponge cake to me as the main character and her story seem a very solid base for a dessert, but a plain one. Love kept things simple and easy to grasp. From scullery maid to vagabond, Mouse comes across interesting people and curious customs that will engage young imaginations, in spite of lacking a bit of development for older readers. Most importantly, Mouse endures severe ups and downs, caused by both forces outside of her control and of her own making. This gives the story a warmth and believability. Most of Mouse’s journey covers only the important days, as if dipping the sponge in different flavors of frosting as Love went along. The mystery Mouse encounters becomes clear rather too easily, but she is easy to relate to and it’s a fun, quick read to follow along and see where she winds up. In short, I wish there had been a bit more depth, a little more flavor, but it was a solid, light read for the right age group.

Happy Bastille Day!

“Bastille”

Bastille-day-lady-e1310481946351

It might just be holding seven,
but it feels like ninety-two;
It may just be pieces,
but it overshadows you;
Been living as It pleases-
Tyrannical, it’s true.

Big and heavy and always there,
oppressive through and through.
Always there and never fair,
the discontent grew and grew-
The day has come to overthrow,
with red, with white, with blue!

Doesn’t matter what we liberate,
or how motley runs the crew,
the time has come when I can fight,
cut out the upper-crust few,
For see, the Bastille now will fall;
Now Victory’s for me and you!

“Soulless” (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)

Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate Series 1)
By: Gail Carriger
(http://gailcarriger.com)
Orbit Books 2009

Alexia Tarabotti wields two great weapons: a custom parasol and the fact that she’s soulless. Up against mysterious incidents that frighten vampire queens and get under werewolves’ skin, will Alexia’s ability to cancel out any supernatural powers be enough? More importantly, will her spinster reputation survive her investigatory antics? And just how provoking can Queen Victoria’s werewolf agent, the Earl of Woolsey, become for this stubborn, intelligent lady when they must work together?

Gail Carriger’s novel works like an English scone smothered, or jammed, with humor. The light overall feel and humorous quirks tie the whole thing together and make Soulless good, quick travel reading. However, beneath all that fun lies a very solid and interesting world. The thoroughly thought-out details seem a bit dense at first, but the precocious characters and Carriger’s humorous jam balance it out well. The romance works well within the plot. The characters are engaging, and left with plenty of room to grow in the sequels. While not taking the most unpredictable route, the mystery unfolds with aplomb and drives a good pace. An excellent book to read over tea or when in need of a fun, supernatural escape, Soulless holds a world I would like to visit again.

Shirley Temple Dies at 85

Shirley Temple Black, Screen Darling, Dies at 85 – NYTimes.com.

The link not only talks about Shirley Temple’s death, but gives an encapsulated biography that includes not only her film and political successes, but also several anecdotes and more nuanced experiences of her life. For example:

“After winning an honorary Academy Award at the age of 6 and earning $3 million before puberty, Shirley Temple grew up to be a level-headed adult. When her cancerous left breast was removed in 1972, at a time when operations for cancer were shrouded in secrecy, she held a news conference in her hospital room to speak out about her mastectomy and to urge women discovering breast lumps not to “sit home and be afraid.” She is widely credited with helping to make it acceptable to talk about breast cancer.”

Hats off to you, Shirley. Thank you for showing everyone that even the most iconic little girl could grow up into a tough and intelligent diplomat more than capable of holding her own as an adult:

“When she was appointed ambassador to Ghana in 1974, some career diplomats were outraged, but State Department officials later conceded that her performance was outstanding…Mrs. Black succeeded beyond almost everyone’s expectations, winning praise during her three years in Prague from, among others, Henry Kissinger, who called her “very intelligent, very tough-minded, very disciplined.” Although she may always be best remembered as America’s sweetheart, the woman who left the screen at 22 saying she had “had enough of pretend” ended up leaving a considerable mark on the real world.”

White Queen 1×7 “Poison and Malmsey Wine”

FINALLY, this show has joined the ranks of a proper history soap opera! The costumes are looking up, they took a moment for simply a beautiful nature shot, they left room for some mystery…it has arrived. This is definitely my favorite episode so far.

SPOILERS:

-Margaret Beaufort, turns out you just needed things to Do other than mope around about your son and Lancaster in order to enliven the screen. The baby thing in itself and as your way in was dumb, but you went for it and by golly, anything that makes you stop bellyaching and start spying and speaking with dignity is excellent. However, it would have been that much better if you’d been seen subtly scaring off the other maid before she asked the queen to leave court, so it would be clear you’re still backstabbing and scheming away.

-David Oakes, your Juan pt. 2, the English One ends as outrageously as I had hoped. From the moment I saw you stroking your dog while watching brother-sex I was worried about the relationship. I was relieved to see it ended in a superstitious death. Also, I shall go ahead and give you credit for brainwashing Isabel for that year we didn’t see-getting her so afraid of Lizzie she could have died of voodoo-inspired fear was quite the accomplishment. Still a big fan of your hissyfits, but seeing one start with you in a bull mask was a special treat. Also, choosing a colorful way to go literally gains my approval.

-Edward…I love your lion outfit. Why do you keep whoring around and pretending to go to war so much when you’re obviously way too tired to make any kind of decent decisions ever and merely bend to wife, brothers, or the letter of the law without much foresight or zest? The year has not been kind to you, has it? Perhaps you’ve already got STDs and that accounts for it.

-Anne, why does everyone else get new clothes but you remain stuck in the one plain silhouette ALWAYS? I feel like this episode had you wanting to jump ship to Revenge, wanting to destroy someone for your fallen family member, clearly not knowing everything, needing Victoria’s advice about controlling powers that be instead of just having to choose a side…yeah, you’d fit RIGHT in. And they’d liven up your wardrobe, too.

-Elizabeth, I feel for you. One snarky comment about your womb being able to beat up everyone else’s womb and suddenly court is exploding in your face. What I’d like to know is how everyone somehow realized you were responsible for the storm that killed Izzy’s firstborn-don’t think that’s ever been comprehended before and it had no realization moment. However, storming after George in front of everyone served no useful purpose except to show off your sparkly gold dress. This is a schemey political show and you’ve got witchcraft-why bother to go after him yourself? It’s the least interesting choice. Your problem here seems, in fact, to be that you are too direct and honest. You let everyone know how you feel, you’re consistent, and you try to come at problems head-on. These are not the most useful problems from a TV perspective, but you’re doing them with flair.

-Richard, I am glad they let you speak up for George. On the other hand, your dealings with Anne are becoming too focused on dark looks. Your best moment really was when you got to blow up at your mom over her favoritism. Also, you at least have been paying attention to the foreshadowing. Please, let that not be played out as a self-fulfilling prophecy instead of actually your decision.

-Dear show, see how that works out for everyone when there’s not absolute clarity about a suspicious death? That’s what we’re looking for. That and more present complexities instead of filling in with repetitive foreshadowing. And more masquerades/intriguing scenery. Take note!

Fantastically Bejeweled Skeleton News!

Meet the Fantastically Bejeweled Skeletons of Catholicism’s Forgotten Martyrs | Past Imperfect.

You must read this article.  It starts with:

“Paul Koudounaris is not a man who shies away from the macabre. Though the Los Angeles-based art historian, author and photographer claims that his fascination with death is no greater than anyone else’s, he devotes his career to investigating and documenting phenomena such as church ossuaries, charnel houses and bone-adorned shrines. Which is why, when a man in a German village approached him during a 2008 research trip and asked something along the lines of, “Are you interested in seeing a dilapidated old church in the forest with a skeleton standing there covered in jewels and holding a cup of blood in his left hand like he’s offering you a toast?” Koudounaris’ answer was, “Yes, of course.”

 

Includes good historical evidence riddled with details like:

“One thing the nuns did lack, however, was formal training in anatomy. Koudounaris often found bones connected improperly, or noticed that a skeleton’s hand or foot was grossly missized. Some of the skeletons were outfitted with full wax faces, shaped into gaping grins or wise gazes. “That was done, ironically, to make them seem less creepy and more lively and appealing,” Koudounaris says. “But it has the opposite effect today. Now, those with the faces by far seem the creepiest of all.”

 

And ends with his book about these spectacular skeletons, which “Accomplishing that was no small task. Nearly all the skeletons he visited and uncovered were still in their original 400-year-old glass tombs. To disassemble those cases, Koudounaris thought, would “amount to destroying them.” Instead, a bottle of Windex and a rag became staples of his photography kit…. After examining around 250 of these skeletons, Koudounaris concluded, “They’re the finest pieces of art ever created in human bone.””

 

And there you have it: The finest pieces of art ever created in human bone!  With Vatican blunders, worshiping believers, and a whole lot of photos-I conclude: You really want to add this to your Halloween reading!

 

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