Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Garden Intrigue

The Garden IntrigueThe Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lately, I've been reading lots of historical fiction and romances and as I've sampled a bit more of the field, I find that Ms. Willig's stories have improved in my opinion. And while that may be a bit of a backhanded compliment, it does mean that I liked the latest installment of Pink better than many of the previous books.

The dual story used throughout the series keeps things moving at a nice clip. While the Regency spies Emma and Augustus are risking their lives to foil Bonaparte's latest plan (whilst falling in love...of course), the modern couple, Eloise and Colin, grapples with relationship issues (after all, they've been dating for 6... whole... months). While this device has been used many times before (one of the first I recall reading was in A.S. Byatt's "Possession") I think that the author uses it to good effect, balancing the narrative between the two worlds, and sneaking in fun little references from one story to the other.

The wannabe research librarian in me also appreciates the HIstorical Note at the end of the book where Willig shares a few historical sources. While some historical fiction feels like a contemporary story with historical detail slapped on after the fact, "The Garden Intrigue" creates a sense of time and place that feels authentic.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Don't Look Back (Or Do?)

I saw this gorgeous photo on Flipboard yesterday. Click on the photo to go to the actual image. It's cropped here, but much better in its entirety.

Don't look back by Irene Hore (Butterfly8)) on
Don't look back by Irene Hore

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Children of the New Forest

The Children of the New ForestThe Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this with my daughter as part of the Ambleside Online homeschool curriculum for Year 3 and it was surprisingly good. The language was archaic, but the story was engaging: the four orphaned children of Cavalier Colonel Beverly escape from the burning of their estate at Arnwood and come to live in the New Forest under the protection of a wise forester, Joseph Armitage, until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Each child discovers talents and skills that help them to survive and prosper. There were a number of humorous scenes between the characters that my daughter enjoyed, and a little romance between the eldest son and a sweet girl named Patience Heatherstone.

I can see why Ambleside uses this book, as the story delivers a good deal of English history from the Cromwell period, as well as an exciting adventure that children (and adults) can enjoy.

An added bonus: the author led a very interesting life:

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Roses That Do Not Fade

"O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That’s sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee well, my only Luve
And fare thee well, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile."

--Robert Burns, 1794

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

“It was growing late, and though one might stand on the brink of a deep chasm of disaster, one was still obliged to dress for dinner.” 
 Georgette Heyer, April Lady

Unfortunately, I am still obliged to cook dinner. How the gentry will go on about their woes.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Betsy-Tacy and Tib

Betsy-Tacy and Tib (Betsy-Tacy, #2)Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second book in the Betsy-Tacy series is just as fun as the first one. Surprisingly, the addition of a third girl, Tib, does not result in the usual "third wheel" syndrome in playtime dynamics. Several of my favorite adventures were a visit to see The Flying Lady at the carnival, and a disastrous haircutting episode that leaves each girl with huge chunks of hair missing from one side of her head! Following the hair debacle, they start a "Be Good" club that backfires when they find that keeping track of the bad things they do just makes it easier to get into trouble, as they try to one-up each other in being naughty. These books are gentle and funny.

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Just a Little Off the Side(s)

Life mirrors art: Betsy-Tacy and Tib have a bad experience cutting their own hair to create keepsake lockets. (I'm not posting a photo of my current haircut.) It is so uneven, I look like Tib (far left), but I paid a professional for goodness sake! Next time I'll ask my daughter.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sprig Muslin

Sprig MuslinSprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

La! What a pleasure to read. Yes, it's a romance from a bygone era. Most thankfully, it is well-written. Would that any number of current romance and Chick-Lit authors were able to write as well as Ms. Heyer.

Like several other reviewers, I need to confess that I have never read any of Ms. Heyer's novels before. Guess that makes me a Newbie. I hope the others prove to be as good a diversion as this one. Extra points for a heroine who is past her prime, and a much younger silly twit as the comic foil. Us older ladies do enjoy that angle in a story.

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Chalkboard Placemats

Have wanted these for over a year. They were on my "Someday-Maybe" list. Finally got them at b a friend. Can you guess who each featured artist is? Hint: Look for "hidden" clues.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


"I wandered lonely as a cloud..."