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Eager reader of history, mystery, biography, YA, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, paranormal, and etc. My reviews are usually positive--there are too many books I adore to finish those I don't.

Currently reading

Ecstatic Nation: Confidence, Crisis, and Compromise, 1848-1877 (American History)
Brenda Wineapple
Progress: 156/534 pages

An achingly poignant conundrum

The Warden (Oxford World's Classics) - Anthony Trollope

With a small town Victorian setting, the fictional Barsetshire, and an appealing somewhat Austen-like cast of characters, Trollope's novel The Warden illustrates just how complicated reforming a centuries old church policy can be, even when everyone involved has valid concerns and mostly the best of intentions. When John Hiram died in long ago 1434 his will left money and property for the support of twelve impoverished older men retired from the trade of wool-carding, the men being replaced by others as they passed on to the better world, all of which was to be overseen by a warden compensated for his work. The charity has prospered in the 400 or so years since it was established and has been able to continue its mission unabated.


Obviously by Victorian times though things had changed--there were no longer wool carders in Barsetshire for instance--so terms have had to be adjusted, but maybe they have strayed too far from the original intent? Currently the twelve elderly recipients are housed in comfortable lodgings, receiving all they need to live and allocated a small amount of money for their own use. Rev. Harding, the just and compassionate warden, also gives the twelve an extra stipend from his own pocket, and the men enjoy both his company and the beautiful music he plays in the evenings.


But then John Bold, a reform minded young man incidentally in love with the warden’s daughter, takes it into his head that the warden’s yearly salary is too much and that more of the charity's money should be going directly to the twelve men. Which sets up an achingly poignant conundrum. Should such a caring warden’s income be reduced?  Everyone has a strong opinion about what is right, including the men themselves, and when the matter is taken up by the press the poor warden is vilified, horrifying him.

There is almost an O. Henry quality to this story, with some surprise twists at the end and most characters having to live with the unexpected consequences of actions they had thought so prudent at the time. Trollope uses The Warden to make lots of observations about human nature and the workings of Victorian society, which are wittily written and for the most part interesting, but they do slow the story down. I had heard The Warden is the weakest of Trollope’s Barsetshire novels, which makes me very eager to read the rest because I loved this one.

Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/859704/an-achingly-poignant-conundrum

Mary Cassatt in Paris

I Always Loved You: A Novel - Robin Oliveira

Beautifully written and full of period details, this novel features American artist Mary Cassatt and her complex relationship with the talented, sometimes infuriating Edgar Degas, but the viewpoint also switches to Berthe Morisot and her brother-in-law/maybe-lover Edouard Manet, creating a broad intimate portrait of Belle Epoque Paris and the loves, doubts, struggles, triumphs, yearnings, fears, and ambitions of four painters hoping to change the direction of art. I’ve read several books on the era, but nothing that focuses so much on the personal lives of the Impressionists. I usually prefer biography to fiction in books about actual people, but Robin Oliveiera did her research and breathes life into the characters, intriguing me enough that I have biographies of Cassatt and Morisot on hold at my library. One fun fact I didn’t know: Cassatt was a dear friend of Abigail May Alcott--Louisa’s artistic younger sister and the basis for the Amy character in Little Women.

Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/859237/mary-cassatt-in-paris

My very superficial idiosyncratic review of Saga

Saga, Vol. 1 - Brian K. Vaughan

I am not a graphic novel person. I’m not sure why, but instead of artwork on the pages I see something close to a chaos of jumbled drawings spackled with confusing bubbles of print--probably some brain glitch, a kind of graphic image dyslexia maybe. But I’ve read and heard raves about Saga and I certainly liked the sound of the storyline: two humanoids from warring alien races--his with horns & hers with wings--fall in love, have a baby, and then are on the run from both of their peoples. Sort of a space opera Romeo and Juliet. So I got Saga from my library and liked it well enough to read the whole book--a graphic novel first for me--but couldn’t love it.


What I liked:


  • The story panels are large and fairly regular in size so my brain glitch didn’t kick in much,
  • The panels are colorful, a page of smallish black and white sketches is harder for me to process,
  • The print is not askew, cramped, crooked or variously sized to express emotion--also a help for my quirk,
  • The main characters are wonderful, strong and caring individuals, and while they  love each other they are still trying to work out their (very interesting) differences,
  • And the story is exciting and even witty.


What I didn’t like:


  • Some of the villains and even some of the “good guys” are so creepy looking I didn’t want to look. Which is another quirk of mine. I love the storylines of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for instance, we have every season on DVD because my daughters love the show, but can’t take the sight of all those disturbing evil menace characters (and I’m not talking about someone like Spike--I love him.)


This is the start of a series and the story is well introduced though it doesn’t go very far in this book, but I can highly recommend Saga to anyone who doesn’t have excessive squeamishness or general difficulty enjoying graphic novels.

Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/857762/my-very-superficial-idiosyncratic-review-of-saga

Rabbit-Proof fence author dies

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence - Doris Pilkington Rabbit-Proof Fence Publisher: Miramax - Doris Pilkington

I saw the movie, but never read the book--which sounds like it's wonderful.


From the Washington Post:


Australian author Doris Pilkington Garimara dies at 76


Doris Pilkington Garimara — who died April 10 in Perth, Australia, and was believed to be 76 — wrote perhaps the most gripping and personal narrative about the assimilation process. Her 1996 book, “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence,” traced her mother’s escape at 14 from a government-approved native settlement and her audacious, 1,000-mile trek home through the harsh wilderness in western Australia.


Director Phillip Noyce’s acclaimed 2002 movie version of Ms. Pilkington’s book reverberated deeply. It was a crucial factor in then-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s decision to issue a formal apology in 2008 for “laws and policies of successive parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on . . . our fellow Australians.”




Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/857298/rabbit-proof-fence-author-dies

Ruin lust, early post-apocalyptic novels, the Shelleys, and more . . .

A lovely article about the civilized and literary charms of ravaged panoramas with collapsed roofs, crumbling walls, and lush overgrown vegetation by Lewis Dartnell inThe Morning News:


Demolish Me


"The present-day lust for ruins is nothing new. In fact, it’s nearly as old as any ruins themselves. From a flattened Louvre to Percy Bysshe Shelley, a journey to the dawn of ruin porn . . .


Ruin lust grew with fervor from the 18th century: the soft, pastel hues of J.M.W Turner’s Tintern Abbey, Hubert Robert’s “Imaginary view of the Gallery of the Louvre as a Ruin,” the ruined cathedrals and shipwrecks of Caspar David Friedrich, and Gustave Doré’s “The New Zealander.” Eighteenth-century English aristocrats even went to the extent of constructing fresh ruins on their estates—follies—for exhibiting their wealth and sophistication whilst picnicking in the shade of the contrived remnants.


It is within this zeitgeist that one of the earliest examples of post-apocalyptic fiction was born, Mary Shelley’s novel The Last Man, published eight years after Frankenstein. The Victorians in particular were obsessed with the decline and fall of Rome and conscious that their mighty, globe-spanning British Empire could also succumb to chaos and disintegrate . . ."




Vue imaginaire de la galerie du Louvre en ruine, 1796, Hubert Robert




Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/856768/ruin-lust-early-post-apocalyptic-novels-the-shelleys-and-more-

How Europeans imagined animals they had never seen

Imaginative but not completely accurate animal illustrations from the 1200's to the 1800's on the website io9:


A crocodile

How Europeans Imagined Exotic Animals Centuries Ago, Based on Hearsay



How Europeans Imagined Exotic Animals Centuries Ago, Based on Hearsay




How Europeans Imagined Exotic Animals Centuries Ago, Based on Hearsay


An elephant and a giraffe

How Europeans Imagined Exotic Animals Centuries Ago, Based on Hearsay



See more at this Link

Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/852879/how-europeans-imagined-animals-they-had-never-seen

Charlotte and Emily Brontë solve a mystery

Always Emily - Michaela MacColl

Readers already acquainted with the Brontë sisters and their stories will have multiple mini-thrills (and possibly a few snorts) of recognition reading Always Emily, a highly suspenseful cozy mystery featuring Emily and Charlotte as unlikely but determined heroines who put themselves in perilous situations worthy of characters in their juvenilia writing when they join forces to rescue a woman kidnapped and held against her will. The author has done her research about the Brontës and their lives, and though the characters are of course simplified they are spot-on recognizable. Charlotte is responsible, bossy, near sighted, and small in stature, while Emily is a tall wild child who loves to run loose on the moors doesn’t trust doctors.


The third sister, Anne Brontë, is mostly offstage visiting friends with their aunt, but their increasingly dissolute brother Branwell is back from London after his Art Academy studies fell apart and he’s getting himself mixed up in all kinds of trouble. Also on hand is their crusading father Rev. Bronte, their long time housekeeper Tabitha Aykroyd, and even an author conceived, very appealing Rochester/Heathcliff character, if you  can imagine that combination. Freemasons, striking mill-workers, inheritance laws, greedy relatives, parish politics, and hints of the novels to come all play a part in the plot and help to make this a fun, fast read. I read a review copy of this book supplied by the publisher through LibraryThing. The opinions are mine.


Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/849596/charlotte-and-emily-bronte-solve-a-mystery

Plato’s back!

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away - Rebecca Goldstein

Reading Plato was by far my favorite part of studying philosophy in college, and it was sheer delight to encounter him again in this book. Author Rebecca Goldstein, both a philosophy professor and a novelist, poses an interesting question: Now that the sciences have advanced  so far in explaining the inner and outer worlds of our universe--from the subatomic level, to the farthest galaxies, from the genetic codes for life, to the structures of the brain that support thought, emotion, and morality--is there any role left for philosophy? Some scientists think there is not, but it won’t be giving away much to say that Goldstein disagrees. Then there is also the question: Has philosophy since the time of Plato made the same kinds of advances as other fields of knowledge? And: What would Plato make of our modern world--would he have anything to tell us, or, since we’re talking about Plato, it might be more accurate to phrase that question what would Plato ask us to think deeply about?


Goldstein approaches these questions with two methods, used in alternate chapters. First there are the expository chapters, well written discourses examining the questions that have been posed, including any new questions that come up along the way, and also providing some fascinating background history. These take a satisfying amount of mind exercise and it felt good to rejoin the philosophical discussion around a theoretical seminar table, but it’s the chapters following the expository ones that are the real reward for all that thought work. Because in them Plato is back, here in our modern world, and like Socrates he is engaging everyone he meets in dialogue, allowing them all to take another look at their unexamined assumptions.

Plato doesn’t do one-sided lectures, of course, and in these back and forths he is learning too--how to avoid using sexist language for instance. People Plato delves into discussion with include a Google software engineer who thinks crowd-sourcing is the most reliable way to attain information which he equates with wisdom, a book tour escort who is sure she knows how best to live her own life, a Fox news host who’s proud of his rigid beliefs about religion and morality, a neuroscientist who doesn’t believe in conscious free will, and a tiger mom and psychoanalyst who debate with each other and Plato about how best to raise a child. These sections are as substantive as the expository chapters, but they are also sometimes laugh out loud funny. Goldstein has put the fun back into philosophy while making a strong, well reasoned case that it still has relevance in today’s world.

Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/849574/plato-s-back-

Noticed while reading Plato at the Googleplex

Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away - Rebecca Goldstein 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction (Vintage Contemporaries) - Rebecca Goldstein The Mind-Body Problem (Contemporary American Fiction) - Rebecca Goldstein Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity (Jewish Encounters) - Rebecca Goldstein Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel (Great Discoveries) - Rebecca Goldstein

Rebecca Goldstein's Plato at the Googleplex sets that ancient philosopher loose in our world to strip away those modern unexamined assumptions that separate us from true self knowledge.  Frank & Ernest have a question for him:


Frank & Ernest



Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/842312/noticed-while-reading-plato-at-the-googleplex

Has anyone tried "Spritz" reading?

Racing words! With Spritz you read just one word at a time as it flashes briefly on the screen. Why? On the Spritz web page it says:


Reading is inherently time consuming because your eyes have to move from word to word and line to line. Traditional reading also consumes huge amounts of physical space on a page or screen, which limits reading effectiveness on small displays. Scrolling, pinching, and resizing a reading area doesn’t fix the problem and only frustrates people. Now, with compact text streaming from Spritz, content can be streamed one word at a time, without forcing your eyes to spend time moving around the page. 



I gave it a try at http://www.spritzinc.com/ but didn't dig it. I could keep up, just as they promised, but there's no time to ponder, or appreciate an elegant turn of phrase.  


A New Yorker blog titled Life is Short, Proust is Long discusses it here: Link

Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/841411/has-anyone-tried-spritz-reading-

J.K. Rowling Reveals She’s Hard at Work on Colin Creevey Novels

EDIT---Ummm . . . . APRIL FOOLS!?


Tor.com got me. Read on only for the fun of what might have been:



A new Hogwarts series based around Colin Creevey? This was announced by Rowling a few days ago, so maybe I'm the last to know.


Quoted on Tor.com Rowling said:

“I had been wanting to return to the world of Hogwarts for some time,” Rowling explained. “But instead of continuing the timeline forward I wanted to re-approach the relative innocence of the first volumes of the Harry Potter series.” The author went on to explain that she felt stymied as to how to approach this desire until she happened to catch a few minutes of the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets movie in her hotel room during a convention appearance in the U.S. in 2013.


“Right there, it hit me. Colin Creevey. He’s got such charisma, his innocent impetuousness is clear, and his arc is simultaneously tragic and heroic.” She was further delighted to find a small but fervent fanbase for the character online.


According to Bloomsbury UK, the Adventures of Colin Creevey series will take place in and around the adventures chronicled in the main Harry Potter book series. Readers will see familiar events from a different angle, and Rowling hopes to balance the darker portrayal of Hogwarts in the latter books with Creevey’s more lighthearted view of the school and his classes. “I always regretted that,” the author elaborated. “As the war against Voldemort took precedent I lost the opportunity to portray Hogwarts as a school and a place where young wizards feel welcome.”



I'll take what I can get, but like many other fans I would love to read more about some of the other characters, including Tonks and Lupin.




Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/841387/j-k-rowling-reveals-she-s-hard-at-work-on-colin-creevey-novels

You got: The Raven

Reblogged from Lora's Rants and Reviews :
Added by Reflections: I got Raven too! Here's the link to find out what your Spirit Animal is: http://quizsocial.com/what-is-your-spirit-animal/ 
What quoth the raven?

In some mythologies, the Raven represents the Creator. It is a dark, mysterious, and highly intelligent animal. Like the Raven, your soul is filled with creative energy. You will make something that others will be in awe of.



Source: http://loram.booklikes.com/post/838743/you-got-the-raven

More Wimsey!

The Late Scholar: The New Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Mystery (Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane Mysteries) - Jill Paton Walsh

Jill Paton Walsh may not be Dorothy L. Sayers, but this is still a witty, entertaining story and it’s wonderful to have more Lord Peter Wimsey and  Harriet. This story takes place later than Sayer’s books, after the WWII, but fortunately Bunter is still around serving as Lord Peter’s devoted valet. Like Gaudy Night, my favorite Sayers book,  the setting is the world of Oxford in all its insular arcane academic glory.  St. Severin's College must decide whether it should sell a moldering but valuable ancient manuscript to acquire more land, and it turns out it’s Lord Peter who, through a hereditary appointment, is supposed to cast the deciding vote.  This won’t be an easy matter because passions are quite heated and though he will only be dealing with the highly educated Lord Peter is forewarned that people overestimate the power of reason among intellectuals. As Peter certainly knows well already.


It’s been a while since I read Dorothy Sayers, which maybe was an advantage for enjoying this novel, but one difference did stand out to me though I didn’t mind it--I don’t believe Sayers would have let us know that Peter and Harriet spent an afternoon dallying in bed. Rest assured, it’s just a brief, tasteful mention. My only (mild) complaint has to do with an excess of riches. There were so many Oxford fellows who had a vote in the to sell or not to sell the manuscript decision that it was difficult to keep track of who was who and what side they were on. I should have made myself a cheat sheet, but even without it the novel was a delight.

Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/838784/more-wimsey-

Had trouble enjoying Mansfield Park? Me too . . .

Mansfield Park - Jane Austen Jane, Actually: or Jane Austen's Book Tour - Ms Jennifer Petkus

But Jennifer Petkus's blog post appreciation is making me consider re-reading what may be Austen's least beloved book. 




P.S. And I loved Petkus's book Jane, Actually which brought Jane Austen into the modern world (and not as a vampire) via the AfterNet.


Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/838449/had-trouble-enjoying-mansfield-park-me-too-

What Is Your Medieval Profession?

Ever wonder what you'd be doing if you lived in Medieval times. Here's a handy quiz from Medievalists.net  but I have to wonder. Fashion designer? ME? Obviously the quiz isn't taking into account how I dress . . .




Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/838068/what-is-your-medieval-profession-

All 339 Books Referenced In “Gilmore Girls”

Was anyone else a fan of the Gilmore Girls? My daughters and I watched every week, and within all that rapid fire dialogue there were a lot of references to books. This article lists all 339 of them according to Australian writer Patrick Lenton. Lenton is attempting to complete the "Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge" by reading each one himself--he's currently on #18, Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress. 





In her valedictorian speech Rory Gilmore said, “I live in two worlds, one is a world of books. I’ve been a resident of Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, hunted the white whale aboard the Pequod, fought alongside Napoleon, sailed a raft with Huck and Jim, committed absurdities with Ignatius J. Reilly, rode a sad train with Anna Karenina and strolled down Swann’s Way. It’s a rewarding world."





Source: http://jaylia3.booklikes.com/post/832520/all-339-books-referenced-in-gilmore-girls-