Thankfully Reading Weekend Wrap-up

Well, I didn’t get as much reading done this weekend as I hoped.  Of course, that is all directly related to the holiday shopping hubby and I did for the apartment.  We spent his only day off over the holiday weekend putting together my new shelves.  Check out that post, here.

I finished The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White, click here for my review.  And started, again, At the Threshold of Alchemy by John Amen.  I should finish this book up today.

I escaped for most of Sunday into my books, much of the previous days was spent cooking, cleaning, and putting together bookshelves.  I’d probably guess about 9 hours total.

Did anyone else in your family take time to read?

Nope!  The hubby was working and even if he wasn’t it would be more likely that he’d be in front of the television than with his nose in a book.

I wouldn’t say that either of these books was a winner over the other since they are very different.  I’ve enjoyed them both.

That’s my recap of the Thankfully Reading Weekend.   Did you participate? How many books did you read?

FTC Disclosure:  Clicking on title links will lead to my Amazon Affiliate page; no purchases are necessary.

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White pits Melanie Middleton, a Realtor who guards her emotions like most would protect buried treasure, against Jack Trenholm, a confident author and potential suitor, and elements of the supernatural.  Melanie must face her fears about her abilities and the truth behind the break-up of her family when her famous mother and opera singer returns to Charleston, South Carolina.

“We stood gaping at the marble-tiled floor with the faux-zebra shag area rug galloping down the middle of the hall.  The elegant egg-and-dart carved cornices had been painted black to offset the fuchsia hue of the walls.  Lime green beanbag chairs with legs offered seating to anybody with enough taste to make their knees go weak upon viewing the psychedelic colors of the hallway.  (Page 44-45)

White creates an intricate mystery that Melanie must unravel for herself without relying heavily on Jack, as she did in the previous book, The House on Tradd Street (click for my review).  White’s characters are vivid; so much so, that readers may want to smack Melanie through the pages and tell her to get a grip.  The beginning chapters spend a bit of time with Melanie as she attempts to sort out her feelings for Jack, her mother, and her abilities.  In some cases, Melanie’s whining may be a bit much for readers, but the action picks up and the knotted lives of Melanie’s ancestors will hook readers until the very last pages.

“I didn’t wait for a response, and was glad he didn’t show any resistance as I dragged him toward the back door.  . . .  I gave a brief wave and had pulled Jack through the door and closed it before my mother made it into the kitchen.

‘I think I like it when you’re rough,’ Jack said.”  (Page 143)

White introduces new characters, like Rebecca Eggerton, and resurrects some of the older characters, like Sophie and Chad, from the first book.  This provides readers with new relationship triangles to navigate, while trying to work through the paranormal mystery.  If readers have read and enjoyed The House on Tradd Street, they will enjoy this tale.

The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White is an entertaining and a good second book in this paranormal-gothic romance-mystery series.  At times, readers could find the repetitive elements in Melanie’s narration distracting, as she repeats her grudge against her mother and her indecision about letting go of her self control where Jack is concerned.  It is clear that this is a second book and that there is more to come given the final lines of the book.

Stay tuned tomorrow, Dec. 1., for a guest post from Karen White about her writing.

FTC Disclosure:  Clicking on images and title links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchases are necessary.  I received my free review copy of The Girl on Legare Street by Karen White from the author and Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting.

I read this book as part of the recent Thankfully Reading Weekend Challenge.  Did you participate?  Which books did you read?  I only read two.

2009 and 2010 Challenges

I’m participating all weekend Nov. 27-29, 2009, in the Thankfully Reading Weekend as well.  Check out the details at the Book Blog Social Club.

It’s that time again to start thinking about some reading challenges. Anna and I at War Through the Generations are working on the announcement post for the 2010 Viet Nam Reading Challenge.  I hope that you will all consider our challenge in the new year, since we had such a great time with the WWII Reading Challenge this year.

Ok, here are some of the challenges I’m planning on for 2010:

For the All About the Brontes Challenge, sponsored by Laura’s Reviews, you just need to commit to reading, watching, or listening to between 3 and 6 Bronte items (books, movies, audiobooks, etc.) between January 2010 and June 30, 2010.

I’m going to strive to read/watch 3-5 items, and these are the three I’ve picked, though I could change my mind:

1.  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Book/Movie)
2.  Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Book/Movie)
3.  The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James (Book)
4.  Emily’s Ghost: A Novel of the Bronte Sisters by Denise Giardina (Book)

Won’t you join me?!

S. Krishna’s Books is hosting the South Asian Author Challenge, which given the swath of South Asian Books I’ve seen and those I’ve read, I’m going to commit to reading 3 books that qualify between January 2010 and December 2010.

These are the 3 books I’m currently considering for this challenge: (Links are to S. Krishna’s reviews)

1.  The Sari Shop Widow – Shobhan Bantwal
2.  Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie
3.  The Enchantress of Florence – Salman Rushdie

Please check out her list of South Asian Authors’ Books that qualify for the challenge and the breakdown of those authors by genre.  Won’t you join the fun?!

Next up is a challenge that is likely to be tough to finish for me, but I’m going to sign up anyway because I love the genre.  Book Chick City is hosting the Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge 2010.  The goal is to read 12 thriller/suspense books between January 2010 and December 2010.

I haven’t preselected any books for this challenge.  I think I’m going to pick these twelve books as I go along.

I hope you’ll consider this great challenge too.

Last, but not least.  I’m jumping on this bandwagon late, but Regular Rumination is hosting the Valparaiso Poetry Review of contemporary Poets and Poetics.  I’m going to dive into the deep end on this one, since I adore poetry.   This means I have to read between 11 and 15 books between May 16, 2009 and May 16, 2010.

I’m hoping that some of the poetry books I’ve read this year count for the challenge, which would be the following:  (Click on the links for my reviews).

1.  How to Read a Poem by Molly Peacock
2.  Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey
3.  Green Bodies by Rosemary Winslow
4.  Apologies to an Apple by Maya Ganesan
5.  Carta Marina by Ann Fisher-Wirth
6.  More of Me Disappears by John Amen
7.  Fair Creatures of an Hour by Lynn Levin

If they don’t, I have my work cut out for me.  I hope you’ll consider adding some poetry to your reading!

Here are the guidelines from Literary Escapism:

1. The challenge will run from January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010.

2. Since this is an author challenge, there is no restriction on choosing your novels. They can definitely be from other challenges. However, the authors must be new to you and, preferably from novels. Anthologies are a great way to try someone new, but only a third of your new authors can be from anthologies.

3. I want this to be an easy challenge, so you can pick to do either 15, 25 or 50 new authors. It all depends on how fast you read and how adventurous you want to be. If you reach your goal halfway through the year, don’t stop. Any new author you try can be added to Mr. Linky. We all want to know about your new experience.

4. After reading your new author, write your review and then add your link to Mr. Linky. Make sure you include your name and the author.

5. Bloggers or Non-Bloggers alike are welcome

I don’t have a list ready for this challenge yet, but I think it will fill out throughout 2010 with all the challenges I’ve joined. I’m going to start with a small goal of 15 50 new-to-me authors.

What challenges are you joining?

FTC Disclosure:  Clicking on certain book titles will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate Page; No purchase necessary.

Fair Creatures of an Hour by Lynn Levin

Lynn Levin‘s Fair Creatures of an Hour is a collection of poetry that draws on current events — Smarty Jones in “Little Red Telegram” and skydivers Sara Loshe and Ron Samac in “Freefall” — imagery, and culture to draw in its readers.  Levin intertwines traditional Jewish rituals and stories into her poems, and interjects a fresh perspective.  Readers will intimately understand her and mimic her lines.

“What finer thing is there than to pour out
your thoughts and have someone drink
of your meaning?
It is better than being loved
I sometimes think
for love is not everything.”  (Page 61, “I Wanted to Tell You”)

Levin creates a wistful atmosphere in some of her poems, but easily turns that into something playful.  Even in her most serious poems, Levin cultivates an undercurrent of sarcasm, playfulness, and hope.  From “Peace Is the Blithe Distraction,” Levin repeats the word “peace” and uses each subsequent line to illustrate what peace can mean to even the worst of enemies and how hope plays an integral role.

On the other hand, her humor is ever present as she begins more than one poem with horoscope predictions and planet alignments.  Readers will enjoy the wit shown in these poems and will nod in agreement with many of them.  Levin has an eye for the human condition and the emotions, even those not most desirable. 

The White Puzzle (Page 42)

To love jigsaw puzzles, you have to love trouble —
the mad messing of a picture, the slow steps back to art.
Years ago, my brother and I spent hours
breaking up then piecing back
The Skating Pond by Currier & Ives,
Remington’s The Old Stage-Coach of the Plains
the cardboard pieces colonizing
the game table in the family room.
There was satisfaction in the fitting together
the doing of the definite task
then some days of admiration
of the solved thing before the sundering.
Once someone gave us a white puzzle,
a real head-breaker, the blank pieces
many and small like the counties of a state.
This was fitting for the sake of fitting.
No art in it that we could see, but we stuck to it,
and after a while the pieces began to clump together
like new snow on the lawn.
I remember the way our small talk
scribbled itself over the gathering page:
something about a math bee and Old Man Sprague
who kept sheep in his backyard and had a gun.
We nibbled popcorn, made Montana take shape
with its three sides and human profile,
the pieces knit like bone.
When the white puzzle was complete
we loved the way it lay like moonlight on the floor
then sat before our conquered space,
two Alexanders wanting more.

The poet includes references and explanations in the back of Fair Creatures of an Hour, of which the title is taken from a John Keats poem, “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be.”  Levin’s collection is about embracing the moment and being comfortable with oneself before fate steps in.  Well worth reading again and again, Levin’s collection will leave readers wanting more.

Please check out 20th Virtual Poetry Circle for a discussion of Levin’s “Helium.”  Also, for another review, please check out The Pedestal Magazine.  Stay tuned for an interview with Lynn Levin.

I want to thank the poet, Lynn Levin, and Arlene Ang for setting me up with a free copy for review. 

This is my 7th book for the poetry review challenge.

Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe

Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe reunites readers with Mr. and Mrs. Brandon and Marianne’s sisters Margaret and Elinor from Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen. 

“But three years of married life had done little to really change her.  Marianne still had an impetuous nature, she still retained a desire for impulse and enterprises undertaken on the spur of the moment.”  (Page 3)

Truer words were never spoken about Marianne.  She is the same impetuous girl from Austen’s book, even though she is married to Colonel Brandon and has a son, James.  Her husband, however, has obligations to his ward, the daughter of his deceased first love, and her child–a child she had with Marianne’s first love, Mr. Willoughby.  Drama, drama, drama fills these pages, just as they filled Marianne’s life in Ausen’s work, but Odiwe adds her own flare to these characters.

Marianne continues to hide things from her husband no matter how innocent the situations may be and her jealousies drive her to make nearly scandalous decisions and snap judgments.  However, while this book is titled Willoughby’s Return, he is more of a minor character and his storyline with Marianne looms from the sidelines as her younger sister Margaret and her beau Henry Lawrence take center stage.

“She watched two raindrops slide down the glass, one chasing the other but never quite catching up.”  (Page 39)

Margaret is very like Marianne in that she is passionate, romantic, and impetuous.  She’s opposed to marriage and Marianne’s matchmaking until Margaret sets eyes on Henry Lawrence.  She falls head-over-heels for him, but Odiwe throws a number obstacles in their way.

Readers may soon notice some similarities between Henry Lawrence and Frank Churchill from Emma by Jane Austen, but the romance unravels differently for Henry and Margaret than it does from Frank and Emma.  Readers that enjoy Jane Austen’s books and the recent spin-offs will enjoy Willoughby’s Return — a fast-paced, regency novel with a modern flair.

This is the 5th item I’ve completed for the Everything Austen Challenge 2009.  I’m one item away from meeting my goal, which will be coming up either later this month or in December.

Don’t forget the Willoughby’s Return giveaway, here.

Additionally, I would like to thank Jane Odiwe and Sourcebooks for sending me a free copy of Willoughby’s Return for review.  Clicking on title links will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page, not purchase necessary.

Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Charlaine Harris’ Living Dead in Dallas continues the Sookie Stackhouse series.  Sookie has agreed to use here telepathic powers to help the vampires when necessary so long as the interviewees go free.  The death of a co-worker and friend thrusts Sookie deep into the vampire world.

“‘Angelic Sookie, vision of love and beauty, I am prostrate that the wicked, evil maenad violated your smooth and voluptuous body, in an attempt to deliver a message to me.’

‘That’s more like it.'” (Page 40)

The Sookie Stackhouse series is full of vampires and other supernatural creatures, mystery, and witty dialogue.  Readers will find the vampire world created by Charlaine Harris dark, intricate, and mysterious.  As their world unravels to reveal its connections with other supernatural communities or its battles with other groups who wish vampires were back in the coffin, readers will be absorbed.

“I realized I’d been rented, like a chainsaw or backhoe.  I wondered if the vampires of Dallas had had to put down a deposit against damage.” (Page 47)

Sookie is soon sent to help vampires in Dallas where she is caught up in the community’s feud with the Fellowship of the Sun.  Some of the most interesting elements of this novel was learning about Anubis Air and its business of transporting vampires across state lines as cargo and offering them protection when they travel during the day.  Living Dead in Dallas is a quick read.

Living Dead in Dallas is a book I purchased from Borders and is in my personal library.  Also, clicking on images and text links to books will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page.  No purchases are required.

This is the second book I’ve read for the Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge, which I read during the October 2009 24-Hour Read-a-Thon.  I’m hopeful I can read the rest and complete the challenge, though the deadline for this one escapes me at the moment.

More of Me Disappears by John Amen

John Amen’s More of Me Disappears is broken down into three separate sections and each poem in each section is accessible, vivid, and explosive.  In a number of poems, Amen’s musical and song writing talents permeate the lines.  However, these are more than rhythmic dances, his work gradually moves toward a vanishing point. 

From Verboten (Page 17)

“They are drinking wine and speaking
of French-U.S. relations when the long
sleeve on her arm falls down.  Before
she can clutch it, I see the faded blue
tattoo on her flesh.  “What are those
numbers?” I ask.  A silence explodes
through the room like spores.”

Each poem in this collection tells a story, reflects on a bright memory, and picks these events apart to reveal the truth beneath.  There are times in this volume when the narrator is sure of his path and at other times ideas run contrary to one another.  Some of my favorite lines will leave readers squirming or gritting their teeth.

From Walking Unsure of Myself (Page 65)

“The fortune teller is battling a migraine.
Wind has swallowed my itinerary.

A man in blue goggles is on his knees outside the bank.
The rape victim is scrubbing herself with a steel brush.”

Readers will enjoy the music of these poems and how these poems pop off the pages, with an in your face quality.  Subtlety is not a prevalent style in Amen’s work, but readers will appreciate his frankness.  From poems where the narrator takes an active role to poems to observances from a distance, Amen draws the reader in with immediate and concrete details.  One of the best collections I’ve read in 2009.

New York Memory #3 (Page 36)

“When I get to my dead father’s apartment,
Liz emerges from ruptured planks and exploded plaster.
She is covered with soot, like some pagan baptized
in refuse.  The wrecking crew has come before
we had a chance to vacate the place, stripped the loft
to its skeleton.  My father’s furniture has been destroyed,
a lifetime buried beneath an avalanche of wood and iron.
Beds have been gutted, paintings raped by protruding nails.
A fast-food cup rises from the ruin like a conqueror’s flag.
The apartment is quickly remodeled, rent raised;
the revolving door of humanity spins.  Over the years,
I make a point of knowing who is living there.  I see tenants
come and go.  I accept that we’re not so unlike animals.
I mean, I have this friend who tells me all about bees,
how the queen is revered and protected, ultimately
replaced in a savage deposition, how the mad
hive continues, greater than any one member.
And everything he says sounds familiar, and stings.”

I want to thank John Amen for sending me a free copy of his book More of Me Disappears for review.   For additional examples from this book, visit John Amen’s Web site.

Also, clicking on images and text links to books will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page.  No purchases are required.

This is my 6th book for the poetry review challenge.

Carta Marina by Ann Fisher-Wirth

Carta Marina was the first largely accurate map of the Northern Countries, completed by the Swedish historian Olaus Magnus in 1539.  Ann Fisher-Wirth has taken her inspiration from this map–complete with its lions, sea monsters, and warriors–for her poem in three parts–Olaus Magnus’ Carta Marina, The Coming of Winter, and Les Tres Riches Neures.

“When I was young, Yeats said, I wanted to take off my clothes,/
now I want to take off my body.” (From April 3. In the Restaurant, Page 61)

Each poem within the overarching three parts of the larger poem, Carta Marina, chart the story of the narrator as she travels through Sweden and the inner heart and soul.  The poems are dated so readers can follow the poet narrator’s progress as they deal with old age, finding a lost love, and incredible loss.

In section one of the poem, readers follow Olaus Magnus on his journey into the north interspersed with email from Paris between lovers.  Fisher-Wirth uses a combination of images and stylistic devices to create her own unique account of a cartographer’s journey, but in some cases, the use of the alphabet was a bit difficult to follow and at times distracting.  Readers may need to sit with these poems, allowing their meaning to simmer to the surface.

“But in the booth facing me the twenty-first child/
chews stolidly, gazing . . ./
lost in whatever dream, as her duckling-colored//

braids bob and her jaws revolve./
Above her pale blue jacket her eyes meet mine;/
I look away, look back, she is watching me./
In this season of coming winter she is my daughter.//”  ( From November 14, Page 33)

The second section of the poem, the narrator is reflecting on her existence and how she relates to those in in her life and life-changing events.  But there is also a reflective self-examination of who she once was and how to reconcile that person who is no longer present with the woman she has become.  From beautiful and mysterious phrases like “icy mercury blackness” to jarring images such as “Three skulls form the base of the table,” readers will transition from thoughtful to alert awe.

In the final third of the book, Fisher-Wirth incorporates some musical rhythm through repetition.  Carta Marina may resemble a cartography of life and aging, but the poem in three parts is a journey, like a journey through the northern lands of Sweden, wrought with harsh weather and rough terrain.  The background story behind the map inspiring these poems is intriguing, but readers could find that they will have to take their time with some of these poems, churning over their images like the Baltic Sea.

December 17, 4 a.m.

I know how to find you.
I go where your sleeping
is filled with the shadows
of leaves, where the leaves have
bled their green,
and all that remain are
their skeletons, nearly
transparent, translucent,
and tissue gone blurred as
the moon among clouds, as
the fur on a moth’s wing,
and tips as if trailing
through water . . .

Such leaves are not common.
In this snowy country
they cherish them, save them,
the white skelettbladen–
like us, they have died, to
become more enduring.

(From Page 47)

I’d like to thank Ann Fisher-Wirth (click her name for my interview) for sending me a free copy of her book, Carta Marina, for review.   Also, clicking on images and text links to books will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page.  No purchases are required.

This is my 5th book for the poetry review challenge.

Night of Flames by Douglas Jacobson

Douglas Jacobson’s Night of Flames is a gritty “spy” novel set during World War II beginning in 1939 during the invasion of Poland by the Nazis.  The main protagonists Anna and Jan Kopernik are separated by war and face near misses with the wrath of the Germans.  Anna joins the resistance in Belgium reluctantly, while Jan jumps at the opportunity to help MI6 on a secret mission in Poland with the hope that he can find his wife.

“Anna’s eyes snapped open and she sat bolt upright.  The shrill sound blasted into her brain, penetrating through the fog of sleep like an icy wind.  She blinked and looked around the dark room, trying to focus on shadowy images as the sound wailed on and on.”  (Page 11)

Anna is in Poland with her friend, Irene, and her son when the bombings start in earnest, leaving them and their driver very few options on the way back to Krakow and her father, a professor at the local university.  Anna is hit by significant loss and constant worry about her husband, who’s career is with the Polish military.  Night of Flames is a fast-paced novel that pushed through the front lines and skulks in the shadows of the resistance.

“‘The best thing any of us can do is try and keep out of their way, and if you get stopped or challenged, be as cooperative as you can.’

‘So you’re telling us to act like house pets in our own city.'” (Page 65)

Jacobson’s no-nonsense writing style will place readers in the heart of the resistance, though some readers could get bogged down by the military strategy and direction, such as how the resistance used holes dug in the earth to hold lanterns that were lit to signal the Allies as to where to drop supplies.  Readers will either enjoy the detailed strategy or wish for a greater focus on the characters.  Anna is the most developed of the two protagonists, though Jacobson does give each nearly equal time through alternating chapters.  These chapters help build tension, leaving the reader in suspense as to whether they will ever be reunited.

Readers who enjoy learning about World War II and who enjoy spy novels will like this novel.  But Night of Flames is more than just a war novel; it is about how ordinary citizens can rise up to reclaim their homeland and their dignity in the face of adversity signifying an indelible human spirit.

Check out this video for Night of Flames:

I want to thank Douglas Jacobson, McBooks Press, and Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me a free copy of Night of Flames to review.  If you click on the title links, you’ll be taken to my Amazon Affiliate page, but there is no obligation to buy.

They’ve also kindly provided an additional copy for one reader of my blog from anywhere in the world.  To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment on this post.
2.  Check out the War Through the Generations blog and leave me a relevant comment here about something you read or learned.

3.  Blog, Tweet, and spread the word about the giveaway and leave a comment here.

Deadline is Nov. 4, 2009, at 11:59 PM EST

This marks the 7th book I’ve read for the WWII Reading Challenge.  Though I officially met my goal of reading 5 WWII-related books some time ago, I’ve continued to find them on my shelves and review them here.  I’m sure there will be more, stay tuned.

A Match for Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward

Eucharista Ward O.S.F.’s A Match for Mary Bennet: Can a serious young lady ever find her way to love? is delightful and reminiscent of the regency craftswoman Jane Austen herself.  The novel’s pace is dead on, unfurling Mary Bennet’s character slowly, allowing readers to sit with her, getting to know her mind, her choices and motivations, and her true heart’s desire.

“‘I fell asleep in Inferno, and the candle went out.  I awoke in Purgatorio.  But all the light is on now.  I have found Paradiso.'” (Page 323 of ARC)

With her older sisters, Jane and Elizabeth married to Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, and her youngest sister, Lydia, married off to Mr. Wickham, Mary and Catherine Bennet are left at home with their meddling mother, eager to marry them off.  Mary continues her ways of sitting alone with her books and her music, content to expand her mind rather than chase after men in society.

“‘You sat so creep mouse in a corner with, of all things, a book! What a way to comport yourself at a dance! Why, you might as well scream to all the world that no man is good enough for you. . . .'” (Page vi of ARC)

Despite her shyness and unconscious judgment of others, Mary comes to learn there is more to life than just books and music, though they certainly enhance her journey and even direct her ultimate place in society.  Readers will revisit with Mr. & Mrs. Darcy and Mr. & Mrs. Bingley following their marriages and how Mary perceives their married lives.  Lydia, Mr. Wickham, Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, her daugher, and Kitty Bennet return as well.  But there are new characters to love and dislike from the new pastor Mr. Oliver to the odd Mr. Grantley and the musical Mr. Stilton. 

Ward lives in Austen’s world, manipulates language easily to emulate regency England, and expands the characterizations sketched out in Pride and Prejudice: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) without losing Austen’s vision.  However, Ward’s Mary Bennet is more than the thinly sketched, judgmental, religious, bookworm on the sidelines.  She is observant, knowledgeable, and deeply committed to her family and her faith.  Overall, readers will find A Match for Mary Bennet fills out the other Bennet sisters deftly and makes a perfect addition to any Austen lovers’ collection.

Sourcebooks has kindly offered 1 copy of A Match for Mary Bennet: Can a serious young lady ever find her way to love? by Eucharista Ward O.S.F. for a U.S./Canada reader.  To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment here about why you want to read about Mary Bennet or what your first impressions of her were when you first read Pride & Prejudice.

2.  Blog, Tweet, Facebook, or spread the word about the giveaway and leave me a comment. 

Deadline is October 16, 2009 at 11:59PM EST 

This is my 4th item for the Everything Austen Challenge 2009.

Apologies to an Apple by Maya Ganesan

Apologies to an Apple by Maya Ganesan is a breath of fresh air in contemporary poetry.  At eleven years old, Maya has a crisp style and is very observant and critical.  Her poems do not criticize overtly, like some poets that tend to hammer their messages home.

“They see the horizon, a smoky gold line
over the sea,
and call it names like faraway and
To them,
horizon is a dream” (From Ash-Colored, pg. 10)

In these simple lines, the narrator observes the horizon in terms of what it means, its location, and how it is perceived by others.  It is an unattainable destination or a dream.

Maya uses short lines to let readers examine the images and statements and discern their own meaning–the greater meaning.  Readers will be reminded of William Carlos Williams‘ short lines, but Ganesan’s work holds a veiled innocence.  For such a young age, Ganesan has an old soul with a great deal of wisdom.  Some of these poems will make readers blush with their self-imposed innuendo.

A Message for You (Page 21)

I have traced your name
my finger

on the steamy
glass doors surrounding
the shower.

Readers will find poems to treasure, to savor, and to hold close to their hearts in this slim volume.  As a debut book of poetry, it stands tall among a vast crowd, waiting for readers to hear its whisper.

Yesterday (Page 24)

Yesterday is one book,
today is another.

Different books, telling
different stories.

I like to be part of 
both yesterday and
today, falling out of

one, tipped into
the other.

Her poem, September, was recently showcased in this past weekend’s Virtual Poetry Circle.  Readers enjoyed how the narrator speaks of trees as having souls and feelings.  It is a great commentary on how little we pay attention to the environment and its importance.

Susan at ColorOnline let me borrow her signed copy of Ganesan’s work for this review, though I did first read about this poetry book on 5-Squared.  I’m going to have to get my hands on another copy for myself.

Also Reviewed By:

Book of Kells
ReadWritePoem (also has a list of virtual tour sites for the book)

4th book for the poetry review challenge.

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini is loosely based upon Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. Fitzwilliam Darcy is the youngest judge appointed to the bench of San Francisco and Meryton is not a town in England, but a town outside of San Francisco, California. Elizabeth Bennet is an attorney with Gardiner & Associates, and the lead attorney is not her uncle Mr. Gardiner, but her boss. California has laws about fraternization between judges and attorneys who work on the same cases, and when sparks fly between Elizabeth and Will, it becomes a sticky situation.

“‘So, what are you doing during the first two weeks of June?’ Jane asked. Elizabeth switched the phone cradle to her other ear and spread the California Bar Journal in the desk before her.

‘Um, same thing as usual. Bill ten hours and work fourteen. Go home, eat Lean Cuisine over the sink, and go to bed convinced I’m never going to meet Mr. Right. I blame Mom. Oh, and I’ll probably have Lou give me a massage.'” (Page 63 of ARC)

Angelini has a brash style all her own in this modern take on these famous characters, but readers could find the explicit sex scenes and sometimes crass language tough to take if they are looking for the same Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam. However, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy exhibits the dynamics of modern relationships well, from the frenzied first glimpses of attraction to the obsessive first moments together and more.

Elizabeth and Darcy spar well in the courtroom before they realize their attraction, but attorneys, clients, and readers will cringe at the biting remarks they make to one another in the courtroom following a break from the realities of California.

“‘How did it go?’ he asked anxiously.

‘I’ve got competition,’ Elizabeth replied.

‘Lady Boobs-a-Lot?’ he asked, referring to Caroline.

‘Yep. She’s catty too.’

‘I know you. You can match her bitch-slap for bitch-slap.'” (Page 251 of ARC)

Readers will enjoy this retelling, though they should expect differences in the characters’ personalities from Elizabeth’s greater outspoken nature and stubbornness to Lou Hurst, Elizabeth’s gay friend and confidante. Jane is in the novel with Bingley–both work at the hospital in Meryton–but their love story is more of a sideline and is derailed less by Darcy and more by Jane’s need to defend her sister against Bingley’s sister, Caroline.

Overall, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini could have been its own stand-alone chicklit novel without the references to Pride & Prejudice, but the modern spin Angelini gives to the characters and the plot makes the novel a quick, fun read. A great way to spend a lazy afternoon.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for providing the advanced readers copy of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy. Stay tuned for a guest post from Sara Angelini on Sept. 28, 2009 with a giveaway.

This is the second book or third item I’ve completed for the Everything Austen Challenge 2009.