Feed on

Today’s topic is cheating on books with movies and TV. Instead of giving a boring rundown on what I watch, I’m going to explain how movies and TV made me go get myself a new hobby.

Have you seen the movie A Mighty Wind?

It is a movie about trying to put together a reunion concert with some folk musicians. The main act is Mitch and Mickey who were big stars and had a hit song called “A Kiss At The End Of The Rainbow”. It features a kiss at the end. However, Mitch and Mickey have since divorced and hate each other.

I was always impressed with her playing in this song. It is the actors playing and singing. I liked the sound of the zither she has and always thought that I’d like to learn to play.

Just recently we started watching Gilmore Girls again now that it is streaming on Netflix. In the first season there is a harp player named Drella.

She’s yelled at for playing Black Sabbath on the harp and given a list of bands that she can’t play that ends with “No Queen.” I thought that was unfair. I think Queen would sound great on a harp. I decided if I could play the harp that I would play Queen. I decided it was time to learn.

I didn’t get a big harp. I remembered back to A Mighty Wind and started researching. I got a Lap Harp, otherwise known as a hognosed psaltery.

It comes with music like this.

You just slide it under the strings and pluck the notes in order. But, I wanted to learn to really play so I got some easy music books – the Beatles and Disney. I’m not ready for Queen yet.

I can play piano so playing the melody is easy. I’ve never played guitar so learning to do chords is new for me. Right now I’m playing the melody with my left hand because I’m left handed and playing chords with the right.

I’ve made a cheat sheet on my harp to help learn what string is which.

Now I’m even more impressed with Catherine O’Hara in A Mighty Wind. I didn’t remember until I embedded the video that she plays without even looking at the strings.


Dick Francis’s Damage

Dick Francis's Damage Book Cover Dick Francis's Damage

Putnam Adult

Undercover investigator Jeff Hinkley is assigned by the British Horseracing Authority to look into the activities of a suspicious racehorse trainer, but as he’s tailing his quarry through the Cheltenham Racing Festival, the last thing he expects to witness is a gruesome murder. Could it have something to do with the reason the trainer was banned in the first place—the administration of illegal drugs to his horses?

Then many more horses test positive for prohibited stimulants, and someone starts making demands, threatening to completely destroy the integrity of the racing industry. In order to limit the damage to the sport, it’s critical that Jeff find the perpetrator . . .

I don’t read a lot of mysteries, especially series of mysteries. This author is one I read routinely though. I appreciate that there isn’t a repeating character that always finds a dead body and takes it on himself to investigate. If that happens over and over to a person, I start thinking they must be a serial killer. This author writes characters that have a legitimate cause for investigating the crime at hand. They aren’t just nosy busy bodies.

In Damage, Jeff Hinckley is an investigator for the British Horseracing Authority. A murder is committed by a suspect he’s trailing through a crowd at an event. The murderer was banned from racing because his horses were drugged but he claimed he didn’t do it. Now other trainers are receiving threats to pay money or their horses will be drugged. Maybe the investigation into the first trainer was flawed?

When every horse at an event tests positive for the same drug, the BHA receives a threat. Pay 5 million pounds or it will happen again. Hinckley is assigned to find out what is going on. The sabotage starts escalating from drugged horses to sick people to accidents on course.

The interesting part of the book for me was figuring out how these things were happening. All do you drug all the horses at an event, for example? The main character is good at disguises and going undercover.

There are some side stories in here that distract a bit from the main plot. The resolution of the plot seems abrupt and slightly anticlimactic. I felt sort of, “Well, that’s that then” at the end but it was interesting and kept me reading up to that point.

Tags: ,

I’m a bathtub girl. I once picked a house to build based purely on the bathtub included in the design. In my last two houses I’ve had small, sad bathtubs but I use them anyway.

Source -Cheviot Products 2161W-AB Vintage Dual Cast Iron Clawfoot Tub (in case you would like to buy me one)

Obviously I’d need a side table to hold my books and drinks and candles.  Something like this would be lovely.

traditional-outdoor-planters I could arrange as needed and then push them out of the way.

Sometimes I like to read outside.

55fff8cb57a841bcf9e28da9bee9bfd4 I’d don’t know about the water since I like to keep books and electronics dry.  Let’s just go with over land.  I’d credit this but every place I see it has just the picture – probably so no one else can get one for themselves.

If I want to move indoors, we could do this.

reading-hammock Link


Nice Modern Art Museum

I like modern art better than older art usually. The husband is the opposite. We usually meet in the middle around the Impressionists.

I went to the Modern Art Museum by myself in Nice. He was going to the bar next door.

I wasn’t overly impressed with this museum. It was a very large space that didn’t have much in it.

This shroud is made entirely of bones. I’m not sure where you get that many bones. The sign said that they were human and animal bones. It certainly shows dedication to collecting.

My favorite piece was this dress.

It is made entirely from plastic pop bottles.

There was a section on Niki de Saint Phalle. This is Fontaine aux Quatre Nanas.

I got out of the museum and couldn’t find the husband. Turns out he got bored and decided to go into the museum too but had no way to tell me that. I could have killed him. He actually liked the museum better than I did.

New to My TBR: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

I’ve had a lot of fun with Nonfiction November.

Currently listening to:

Everyday SexismEveryday Sexism by Laura Bates

In 2012 after being sexually harassed on London public transport Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called Everyday Sexism to collect stories for a piece she was writing on the issue. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought.” Goodreads


Currently reading:

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern WorldThe Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Trust Steven Johnson to put an intriguing and unconventional spin on a well-known story! The nimble-minded nonfiction writer who dazzled us in Emergence, Mind Wide Open, and Everything Bad Is Good for You now parses a storied incident from the annals of public health– the Broad Street cholera epidemic of 1854, a deadly outbreak that decimated London’s population in eight days.

At the center of the story stand two heroic figures: Reverend Henry Whitehead and Dr. John Snow, whose combined efforts in mapping the disease solved the mystery of how cholera spreads and created a model of information design with wide-ranging implications. Using historical narrative as a scaffolding for some of his famously big ideas, Johnson shows how this story from Victorian times offers lessons for modern cities facing a host of problems–from urban sprawl to environmental crises and the threat of bio-terrorism.”  Goodreads


The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized HistoryThe Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History by Katherine Ashenburg


The apparently routine task of taking up soap and water (or not) is Katherine Ashenburg’s starting point for a unique exploration of Western culture, which yields surprising insights into our notions of privacy, health, individuality, religion and sexuality.” Goodreads



Added to my TBR list from posts this month:

This isn’t even close to all the books I’ve added but you get the idea.  I don’t remember who posted what books because I’ve read so many blogs this month.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North AmericaThe Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King





A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in AmericaA Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in America by Allyson Hobbs





I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de SantiagoI’m Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago by Hape Kerkeling





Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much MoreRedefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

This was from a Become an Expert post on transexual identity.




Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in AmericaAtheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America by Richard Cimino





The Empathy Exams: EssaysThe Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison


The Lost Sisterhood Book Cover The Lost Sisterhood

FICTION, Historical fiction

Ever since her grandmother told her stories of Amazons, Diana has been fascinated by them.  She's a professor at Oxford now with the history of the Amazonian myths as a special interest.  Her interest is peaked when she is invited to have a private look at a newly discovered archeological site that may prove that Amazons were real.

In North Africa, thousands of years ago, Myrina and her sister Lilly flee from a plague that decimated their village.  Their mother told them that if they were ever in trouble that they should travel to the sisterhood in the city by the sea for help. 

The Lost Sisterhood tells two separate but intertwined stories that attempts to explain the Amazonian myths in Greek history.  Myrina and Lilly live as priestesses in Algeria.  When their temple is raided by Greek soldiers and several priestesses are captured, the rest follow to try to get their sisters back.  In the present day, Diana unknowingly is following the trail that Myrina left but someone seems determined to stop her from finding out about the Amazons.  Is it an unscrupulous collector with a penchant for all things Amazon or are there really Amazons who don’t want to be discovered?

I wasn’t aware of a lot of the myths surrounding the Amazons or that the myths show up in such far apart places as Algeria, Crete, Greece, Turkey, and Germany.  This story does a good job of trying to put together a narrative that shows how those myths could have come to be.

I liked the ancient story better than the modern one. Diana and her friend Bex seemed a bit too passive at times.  There were several times that they should have gone to the police or at least kicked up a bit of a fuss but they just went along with whatever was happening to them. Very unAmazonian.


Step 1:  Announce that you are having a girl child that is due in the middle of December.  This gives the quilter ample time to procrastinate.  Quilters generally like that.

Step 2:  Announce at the end of October that the child will be coming early.  Say that they will induce your wife in the third week of November.  Because you are not a quilter you will not notice said quilter go a bit pale and start swearing under her breath.

Step 3:  In mid-November, announce that your wife will be induced on next Tuesday.  Say your last day in will be Monday.  Since the quilter has gone into work mode with a projected due date now in mid-November she will calculate and know that she can get that quilt done for Monday.  No problems.

Step 4:  Text to let us know that your wife went into labor early on Saturday.  You won’t be in next week at all.  This is a problem because quilters are motivated by deadlines.  Now the quilter can’t tell if she missed the deadline or if you just gave her another week.

Step 5:  Quilter forces herself to finish quilt for this Monday anyway so she won’t be frantically trying to finish it next Sunday night.  This is unusual behavior that she is proud of.

Step 6:  It is the first snowfall of the year.  Quilt flat out refuses to dry in the dryer anyway so quilter puts it in the snow for a nice picture.  Quilter shows the picture at work.

Other  coworker – “What is that?”

Quilter – “A baby quilt”

Other coworker – “Oh, I thought it might be a grill cover.”

Linking to TGIFF at What a Hoot! and since finishing anything is quite odd for me I’m linking here and here  too.


Best Book I Read This Year

Ok, for my long-term readers, let say it all together now:

Who Fears DeathWho Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a post-apocalyptic future in sub-Saharan Africa, the Nuru are waging war against the Okeke. The Nurus believe in using rape as a weapon. They know that raped Okeke women will be shunned by their families and that any children born will be Ewu. Ewu children are identifiable by their skin color. It is believed that children conceived in violence will be violent themselves so Ewu are kept outside civilized society.

After a powerful Nuru sorcerer rapes an Okeke woman, she flees to the desert where she gives birth to a girl who she names Onyesonwu. It means Who Fears Death. Onyesonwu grows to be a powerful sorcerer herself but will her society reject the possibility of a savior who is twice an outcast – both Ewu and a woman?

I feel like I’m a broken record on this book. I’ve plugged it so often. Here’s the rest of my review.

Best Conclusion to a Series

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review



Fiction Favorites

The Invention of WingsThe Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My review



The Midnight RoseThe Midnight Rose by Lucinda Riley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review



Best Fiction Audio

Calling Me HomeCalling Me Home by Julie Kibler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review – including why listening to the audio drove me batty.



Best NonFiction So Far

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil WarLiar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review



Series I’m Glad I Started This Year

Moon Called (Mercy Thompson, #1)Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My review




Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #1)Hounded by Kevin Hearne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My review




Enchanted, Inc. (Enchanted, Inc., #1)Enchanted, Inc. by Shanna Swendson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My review


What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.

What Books Am I Excited to Read?


Empress of the Night: A Novel of Catherine the Great



I loved the first book this author wrote about Catherine the Great. I want to find a time when I can totally immerse myself in this one with no distractions.



First FrostFirst Frost by Sarah Addison Allen


I just found out that this one is going to published in 2015 from a Goodreads banner ad. I don’t even know what it is about but I love this author’s books.




Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey


I heard about this book on a list of feminist reads at The Lady Errant.


What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.

Urban Fantasy

I love magic and supernatural creatures set in the real world.  I should probably read less of it because it is affecting my brain.  When clients say their dogs are staring off into space I think ghosts before neurological disease.  Stories about dogs restless at night and barking at “nothing” leads me to assume that there are monsters outside their house at night.

Favorite series

The Dresden Files
Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)


Storm Front by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Hallows

Dead Witch Walking (The Hollows, #1)Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars





Bitten (Women of the Otherworld #1)Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



Historical Fiction

I like fiction books set in the past especially if they are as educational as they are entertaining.

The Camuloud Chronicles

The Skystone (Camulod Chronicles, #1)


The Skystone by Jack Whyte

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Edward Rutherford

LondonLondon by Edward Rutherfurd

My rating: 4 of 5 stars




What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.


My Favorite Book Tropes

Whenever I think of this topic I think of a story a librarian told me about a woman who came in and requested a book like the one she was returning.  He couldn’t figure out exactly what she wanted.  It was the same author or anything obvious.  Finally she told him in explicit detail about her sexual fetish.  He said it got a bit awkward.

I don’t have a lot of tropes that I look for specifically.  I have a lot more that I avoid like the plague but that’s a later post.

Origin Stories

I am a sucker for an origin story.  I like the start of series.  I like the time before the hero knows that she or he is a hero.  I like seeing the ordinary life before the quest for greatness.






The News Sorority Book Cover The News Sorority

Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction

A provocative critique of three influential women in television broadcast news draws on exclusive interviews with colleagues and confidantes to reveal how their combinations of ambition, intellect and talent rendered them cultural icons.

I’ll preface my review with saying that I haven’t watched TV news in about 10 years so I’m not up to date.  I’m not a fan because it seems to play to the lowest common denominator and consists mostly of sensationalism and fear mongering.  This book did not change my mind.

Diane Sawyer – I didn’t know anything about Diane Sawyer.  She was a beauty queen who went on to work in the Nixon White House.  After Nixon resigned, she went with him to his home in California and spent years working with him on his papers.  This tainted her in the eyes of a lot of reporters when she went into television.

Christiane Amanpour –  She was born in Iran to a well-off family who had to flee to London during the Revolution.  She moved to the U.S. to go to the University of Rhode Island.  She made some friends at nearby Brown University including John Kennedy Jr.  Her name, looks, and accent meant that no one wanted her on air at CNN, even at the foreign desk.

Katie Couric – Everytime I look at her the words “Evil Robot” pop into my head.  I asked the husband about this and he said that was universal.  I guess that means that I’m biased about her story.  I used to watch the Today show as a kid but quit when she was hired because I couldn’t handle the bubbly, seemingly insincere persona.

I don’t know exactly how I feel about this book.  The sexism in the book is overwhelming.  Partially, that is the point.  These women all had a lot to overcome to get to the heights of their careers.  But, when you read things that are said about them I was never quite sure if it was fact or if people were saying it because they were women.  This is addressed a little bit.  The author gives some examples where women were critiqued much more harshly than men for doing the same thing but it didn’t help dispel the notion that a lot of people interviewed were critiquing them as women first and journalists second.

There is a lot of discussion of the different forms of manipulation practiced by Sawyer and Couric.  Couric appears to be a lot more up front about it.  Again I’m not sure about the word.  Are people calling it manipulation because they are women?  Would it be called “good business sense” in a man?  Would it even be mentioned?

Amanpour is the only one that people were routinely positive about.  Is that because she is a nicer person or because she spent most of her career in war zones and away from the political infighting of the other women’s careers?  I found her sections to be the most interesting.

“Diversity and Nonfiction: What does “diversity” in books mean to you? Does it refer to book’s location or subject matter? Or is it the author’s nationality or background? What countries/cultures do you tend to enjoy or read about most in your nonfiction? What countries/cultures would you like nonfiction recommendations for?”

I’ve never thought much about diversity in my nonfiction reading.  I do in my fiction reading.  I track settings of books and aim to read books set all over the world each year.  (See my map for 2014 on the sidebar.)

I looked at the diversity of the nonfiction books I’ve read this year.

The authors are exactly 50% female and 50% male.

However when you look at race there is a definite imbalance.  Twenty of the books were written by white authors, one was written by an African woman, two were written by Pakistani women, and one was written by a Jewish woman.

What about diversity of subjects?  Roughly the books break down into three broad categories:  Ten biographies/memoirs, eleven historical books, and three essays/current events.

Settings?  Fourteen in the U.S., six in Europe, one in Africa, two in the Middle East, and one in the Pacific Islands.

I choose my nonfiction read based entirely on subject and not the author but I think I need to find some more nonfiction authors of color.  Suggestions?


Linking up to Nonfiction November


What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.

My Least Favorite Book Blogging Things

If I’m going to take the time to read a post I want to know what the person thought of the book.  I don’t want to see just cover reveals or the same blurbs I can see on the book jacket.  Give me your thoughts.  Tell me how it made you feel or what topics it made you think about.

I don’t like giveaways that make you follow a group of people to enter.  I want to gain followers because they like what I say not because I bribed them.

I like blogs that cover a whole range of books.  Seeing the same type of book all the time on a blog bores me.

Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers Book Cover Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers


It's Harry Potter - you know the story.

I’ve been working on learning French this year using the Duolingo website in preparation for our trip to France in October. I was getting pretty good at reading websites. I could at least get the general idea of what was going on. I saw a suggestion to try reading a book that you know really well. I decided to try Sorcerer’s Stone.

When I opened up my French copy from Pottermore I saw an immediate problem. It is written in past tense. I don’t know past tense. Ok, time to learn.

This is how I read it. At first I tried to understand every word. It took forever to highlight every word I didn’t know for the dictionary to define. Now I read a paragraph in French and see what I think it says and then read the paragraph in English.

What are things called in French?

Major character names are the same but there are some differences.
Hogwarts – Poudlard
Muggles – Moldu
Diagon Alley – Chemin de Traverse

Hagrid speak

I can’t imagine trying to translate Hagrid into another language. Here are some of my favorite translations:

Codswallop – sac de Méduse (bag of jellyfish)
Blimey – Nom d’un vampire (name of a vampire)

I need to work those phrases into my daily conversation.


Because this is taking a long time, I haven’t gotten all the way through the book yet.  I have gotten through the beginning though and that is my favorite part of this book.  I’m a sucker for origin stories so the beginning of a series is always my favorite. I liked rereading all the little details that get forgotten when a book is translated to a movie like Hagrid moving about Muggle London and knitting on the train.

The one thing that always surprises me when I reread this book is how much foreshadowing there is.  I remember my first reread when I was shocked when Hagrid says Sirius Black lent him his motorcycle to deliver Harry to the Dursleys.  It is such a throw away line in this book but speaks volumes to how well planned the whole series is.

Linking up with the Harry Potter re-read at Book Journey.



What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.

My Favorite Book Blogging Things

Learning About New Books

I hear about all kinds of books that I want to read.  If not for book blogs I’d just read whatever caught my eye at the library.


I’m not a fan of challenges like Read 5 Books on a certain topic in a year.  I do like challenges that fit into what I’m already reading though.  I had a lot of fun with Around the World in 80 Books and Travel the World in Books.  I liked Diversiverse and Nonfiction November is amazing.  I’m looking forward to the Harry Potter Reread-a-thon.



What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.


What is My Rating System?

I use a 5 star system because that’s what Goodreads uses and I used their links. I just started playing with the Book Review wordpress plugin a few days ago.

I think of 3 stars as the average book. That’s what most books get from me. That means that I enjoyed it enough to read it all the way through but it isn’t anything that’s going to stick with me. Next week I won’t remember the details of the plot.

To get 4 stars a book has to be thought provoking. There have to be themes that made me think throughout the day when I wasn’t reading the book. Another way to get 4 stars is to be so compelling that I can’t put it down.

Getting 5 stars from me is almost impossible. It would need to be a book that I want everyone in the world to read right now. Who Fears Death is the only 5 star book I have for this year.

I don’t usually give less than 3 stars because I ruthlessly abandon books that I don’t like. There are too many great books out there to waste time with so-so ones. I probably don’t finish 25% of the books I get. That’s another reason why I’m a die hard library user!

I have given 2 stars to a book that I got for a blog tour that was just awful. I wouldn’t have finished it if it was up to me but I was obligated.  Two stars could also be a book I finished but that had some fatal flaws that make me not want to recommend it even though it started with promise.

I think the only way I’d do a 1 star review would be something like Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon that was so incredibly racist that I wanted to talk about it.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The ... Book Cover As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The ...


Cary Elwes played Wesley, the FarmBoy turned Pirate, in the classic film The Princess Bride.  Now, 25 years after the release of the film he tells the story of movie.

This book features not only Cary's stories about casting, rehearsals, filming, and the aftermath but features stories from most of the rest of the living cast members also.

I LOVE The Princess Bride. I can’t stress that enough. I first started watching it obsessively when it came out on video back in the day. Cary Elwes was absolutely beautiful. I was in love.

I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to read this to see the pictures or listen to it on audio. It is only 7 hours on audio and I usually do longer books to get my Audible money’s worth.  I decided on audio because a lot of the people involved in the film voiced their own sections of the book, including Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Wallace Shawn, Robin Wright, Carol Kane, Chris Sarandon, and Christopher Guest. How can you resist that?

A lot of the stories in this book I had heard before but what comes through in this book is the absolute love that everyone involved in the production had for the project. They still love it.

A Few Things I learned that I didn’t know:

  • Wallace Shawn was lecturing at Oxford on his days off from filming.
  • The horse that Andre was supposed to ride at the end wouldn’t get him get on his back.  Smart horse.
  • Robin Wright had to commit to an extra year on her soap opera to be allowed the time off to film The Princess Bride

If you love the film, if someone reciting a line of dialogue will make you smile every time, if you don’t need to have the DVD playing to repeat most of the scenes word perfectly – then this is the book for you.


What is #BookBlogWriMo?

Basically, it’s a lax version of NaNoWriMo for book bloggers. I created prompts for each day, discussing different topics around books, blogging, and books + blogging.


What is My Review Process?

I write reviews of books as soon as I finish the book. There is no way I’d remember enough about the book to write about it later. I tend to sit down at the computer with the book for reference so I remember how to spell names of characters (and a lot of times I need help even remembering what the names were at all).

I start with a one or two paragraph summary of what the book was about and then get into what I thought about it. I’ve recently added a Spoilers page so I can get deeper into books where I want to talk about key details.

Sometimes I schedule the posts ahead. If I do that I put them on a Thursday or Friday when I don’t have other memes that I do. But, if I’m finishing several books at once I’ll post one a day. I won’t save them and schedule them for next Thursday. That’s way too much planning ahead for me!

I just started using the Book Review wordpress plugin on a post for today. Prior to that I’ve been using Goodreads to host the images.

Necessary LiesNecessary Lies by Eva Stachniak

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Historical fiction

In 1981 as the Solidarity movement is disrupting Soviet control of Poland, Anna is offered a fellowship to travel from Poland to Montreal to study.  She leaves behind her activist husband Peter.  She plans on being gone for six months.  She doesn’t plan on falling in love and leaving Poland for good.

Anna was from a town named Wroclaw which used to be apart of Germany until the end of World War II.  Her new husband was born there and was five years old when his town fell to the Russians and his family evacuated.

After 10 years of marriage, Anna’s new husband expectedly dies.  The Berlin Wall has fallen and Poland is ostensibly free.  She decides to visit her family in Poland again to see the changes for herself.

One of my historical fiction reading goals has been to find more books set in Poland that aren’t about World War II.  This author is one of the reasons for that.  I loved her book The Winter Palace about Catherine the Great that talked about the greatness of Poland at that time.  This was her first book though and it doesn’t live up to what comes later.

The author also left Wroclaw in 1981 to go to Canada.  That part of the story is good.  It discusses adapting to a life suddenly free of rationing and shortages.  But the story takes a turn after her husband’s death.  Her return to Poland is just boring.  Everything is pretty much that same and her ex-husband is mad at her.  There’s a shocker.  I just wish there was more to the story because the beginning showed so much promise.


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