Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

I was recently perusing my bookshelves for something to read (this comes up less often than you’d think—usually I have a stack from the library) and settled on an old favorite classic: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

The tale begins with one of my favorite opening lines in all of literature: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” (It’s best in a British accent, and preferably Joan Fontaine’s voice.)  The never-named narrator goes on to describe her whirlwind courtship with Maxim de Winter, her arrival with him at his ancestral estate of Manderley, and her growing realization that the memory of the deceased Rebecca, the first Mrs. de Winter, still holds powerful sway over the house and their lives.

This is a delightful, wonderful read in so many, many ways.  I love the narrator, the second Mrs. de Winter.  I love that we never learn her name—that’s such a brilliant writing device.  Throughout the book she’s overwhelmed by the overwhelming presence of Rebecca, and even her name is obscured.  The second Mrs. de Winter also slots nicely into a couple of my favorite literary types.  I love heroines who think they’re ordinary who discover their own power, and I have a serious soft spot for children who are disregarded by the adults in their lives.  The second Mrs. de Winter is definitely the first type, and has elements of the second too, even though she’s twenty-one.

Maxim does see and appreciate her when he meets her, but unfortunately joins a long list of literary heroes (including Mr. Rochester and Mr. Darcy) who do not use their words.  Causing, of course, far more complications and therefore plot. Continue reading

Posted in Historical Fiction, Reviews | Tagged | 2 Comments

Blog Hop: To eBook or Not to eBook

book blogger hopThis week’s Book Blogger Hop question: Do you read via eBook and if so which one(s) and why?

I suspect all my book-reading friends who know me off the internet have already heard the answer to this question…  I do not read ebooks.  I still hang onto my paper ones.  I very, very rarely read a book on my computer (usually beta-reading for a writer friend).

There are a few reasons I haven’t switched to an ereader.  The big one is that reading is my one major activity that doesn’t involve a screen.  I work at a computer for most of the day, and in off time I write novels and blog posts, then relax with television…  Socializing doesn’t involve screens, but my one solitary leisure activity that doesn’t require a screen is reading.  I’m not prepared to give that up!

Advocates of ereaders tell me that it’s not really like a computer screen…but it feels like one to me, when I’ve looked at other people’s devices.  People have also pointed out that they can carry 1,000+ books around with them.  But I don’t need a thousand books.  I carry one book, and the only time this question is really relevant is extended vacations, which only come up about once every two years.  Last argument?  Ebooks are cheaper than paper ones—but the library is free, and that’s where I get the vast majority of my reading material.

I’m not anti-ebooks for anyone else, but none of the arguments in favor have ever weighed much for me personally.  And paper books have a charm and a character and a warmth that no device will match!

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Book Review: Around the World in Eighty Days

I can’t remember how long ago I read Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, but it was probably high school or even earlier.  I’ve been meaning to reread it for a while now, for a very writerly reason!  In my Phantom of the Opera reimagining, my protagonist Meg dreams of travel.  The Phantom needs a Christmas gift for her, and I thought–Around the World in Eighty Days!  Verne was a French author popular at the time.  Perfect!  Except I thought I ought to reread the book to make sure it really was perfect.

The novel tells the tale of English gentleman Phileas Fogg and his (possibly) mad bet that he can travel around the world in a mere 80 days.  Accompanied by French manservant Passepartout, Fogg travels east from London, through India to America, passing through a series of adventures and mishaps with perfect, imperturbable calm all the way.

This is a strange and fun book.  Like its protagonist Fogg, it is frequently quite calm and unperturbed and serenely explaining (in more detail than really necessary) the exact mathematical calculations enabling Fogg to pursue his goal.  But like its secondary protagonist Passepartout, it also goes on wild flights of drama, including encounters with a murderous cult in India and an extremely bloody attack by Indians somewhere in the American west. Continue reading

Posted in Historical Fiction, Reviews | Tagged | 3 Comments

Release Date for The Lioness and the Spellspinners

Lioness Cover - SmallI am slightly superstitious about announcing a book release date too early…but with the fall fast approaching, I think it’s time!  The next novel in my Beyond the Tales series, The Lioness and the Spellspinners, will be available October 14th!

You could mark your calendar…but I’ll be sure to remind you!🙂

In the meantime, read an excerpt here.

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Book Review(s): Dead End in Norvelt and Shiloh

I’m making ever more headway on Newbery Medal reads (great options for audiobooks, which helps a lot!) and thought I’d hit two today.  Both stories about boys in small towns, so they kinda fit each other.  But the quality varied!…

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

In the tiny town of Norvelt, young Jack is looking forward to a summer of baseball, trips to the movies and other fun, until one bad decision and one wild injustice (more on that later) gets him grounded until school starts.  He’s only allowed out to help elderly Miss Volker write obituaries…which comes up surprisingly often as a string of old women start dying.

I wanted to like this more than I did.  An ordinary kid surrounded by slightly kooky characters in a small town sounds great!  Dollops of history as Miss Volker looks to the past to expound on ideals of freedom and community, plus a hint of a murder mystery.  What’s not to like?

Well, a few things.  I never loved Jack; I don’t know why, I just didn’t.  Usually I like kids who get a bad rap from adults, especially if they like to read, but somehow this one didn’t work for me.  Maybe Jack liked to read a little too much about bloody history, harder to relate to than a Star Wars fandom.  I hate (hate) to classify books as boy books or girl books, but this one did seem to be aimed at a certain age of boy, when blood and guts are so cool.  That wasn’t a big part of the story, but it was an element.  Personally, I could have lived without Jack’s perpetual bloody nose, or his love of war movies. Continue reading

Posted in Juvenile, Reviews | Tagged | 1 Comment