What Are You Reading, History Edition

What Are You Reading - HistoryI didn’t plan it, but lately my reading has been revolving around history.  And, oddly enough, not historical fiction!  I’m midway through Winston and Clementine, a collection of letters between Winston Churchill and his wife, Clemmie.  They’re just adorable, and are an amazing blend of huge world events, domestic concerns, and romance.  One letter might feature lunch with the Prime Minister, questions about household bills, and cute nicknames!

I’m also researching for my Phantom of the Opera retelling.  I finished Eccentricity and the Cultural Imagination in 19th Century Paris, which was remarkably helpful.  I skimmed parts, but other parts were fascinating, and on the whole it gave me good insights and some shocking historical details.  I found out they were still exhibiting people in freak shows and “anthropological exhibits” in Paris into the 1930s!

I’ve read about half of Nights in the Big City for research purposes as well, and it has been less helpful.  It’s too theoretical, discussing philosophies when I really just want to know what the night was like for people in the late 1800s.  For example, in the chapter on unaccompanied women, there’s long discussion about the societal and moral codes that influence women, how they were perceived and what archetypes were involved, etc., etc., when all I really want to know is whether a woman would have felt alarmed walking unaccompanied through Paris at night in 1880.  (I think the answer is yes, but there was lots of rhetoric to wade through to determine that.)

I’m enjoying Winston and Clementine, but I’m finding it hard to stick with them for 650 pages straight.  I took a break after World War I to read The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (excellent!) and plan to break again just before World War II.  I want to read Gryphon’s Eyrie by Andre Norton and A. C. Crispin, to finish out that trilogy.

So much for what I’m reading!  Visit Book Journey for more posts.  And…what are you reading? 🙂

What Are You Reading?

itsmondayIt’s been a couple of weeks since my last What Are You Reading post, so it looks like time to check in again…

My last post mentioned the pile of series -books I was planning to read, and which I am happy to say I finished up this week.  Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card means finishing the Ender Quartet, The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig got me up to date on the Pink Carnation series, and after finishing Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier, I just have one book left in the Sevenwaters series too.  Progress!

Coming up next, I decided to read a couple of very light books, after all the denser ones I’ve been reading lately (meaning: Tolkien).  I decided to do a reread of a fun time travel book, The Secret of the Ruby Ring by Yvonne MacGrory, and The Ogre Downstairs by Diana Wynne Jones is one I’ve somehow never got around to (despite loving her books!)

What Are You ReadingNot at all on the lighter side, I also have Eccentricity and the Cultural Imagination in 19th Century Paris by Miranda Gill, and Nights in the Big City: Paris, London, Berlin, 1840-1930 by Joachim Schlor.  Both are research for my next novel, a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera.  Seeing as I’m writing about a masked man who lives under an Opera House in 1880s Paris, it is a source of wonder to me that there’s actually a book about the cultural attitude towards eccentricity, in that city, at that time.  I have no idea yet if it will actually have anything useful, but I’m fascinated by the prospect!

And the last big thick book, somehow strangely on the lighter side, is a book of letters between Winston Churchill and his wife, Clementine.  I started reading it a few years ago and absolutely loved it (who knew Winston Churchill could be cute and romantic and adorable?) but somehow got sidetracked and never finished.  So I’m resolved to pick that up again too.

So much for my plans!  What are you reading this week?

What Are You Reading?

itsmondayI’m moving into a new phase of reading, so it’s the perfect time for another What Are You Reading post?  And by “new phase,” I mean “not centered around Lord of the Rings!”  I finished reading Return of the King, so after two months of all my other books orbiting Tolkien’s big challenges, I’m back to more open territory.

My immediate plans are to continue on with a number of series I’m midway through.  That means Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card (Ender series), The Garden Intrigue by Lauren Willig (Pink Carnation series), Seer of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (Sevenwaters series) and Gryphon in Glory by Andre Norton (…I don’t think the series has a name).  That’s a lot of series reading, but I’m close to the end on all of these, and eager to tie things up!

No picture of a book stack this time, because most of these books are still on their way from the library.  No matter–in the meantime, I’m reading Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings by Mary Rubio, an enormous biography of my favorite author.  It’s crazy-detailed, and is giving me all the cultural context and alternate-sides-to-the-story that Montgomery’s journals (which are lovely) don’t include.

Once I finish off a few more series, then I’m thinking I’ll get to the very long To Be Read list that has rather got away from me in the last several months…

What are you reading this week?

What Are You Reading: Lord of the Rings Edition

Time for another post for What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Journey.  I have been reading…a lot of Lord of the Rings.

On my last WAYR post, I was about to attempt The Fellowship of the Ring.  I am happy to report I finished that one, and didn’t find it nearly as difficult to get through as I feared.  I didn’t madly love it–but it was a good time.  Posted my review here.  I read a few other books, but pretty quickly went on to The Two Towers.  Have to keep the momentum up, now that I’ve begun!

P1020482I have a few books lined up for after The Two Towers.  I’m thinking Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier next, then The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett to finish the Mrs. Quent trilogy, and then The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, since I just reread The Blue Sword, the companion book (review here).  And then–on to Return of the King!

So I’m actually reading a fair bit that isn’t Lord of the Rings…but Tolkien looms rather large.  All three books have been these big icons in my reading plans, and all the other books have been selected and viewed as fitting in around Lord of the Rings.

Can you tell that I sort of make a big deal out of these books?  But after having them loom at me for ten years, it is a big deal to finally read them! 🙂

What are you reading this week?

What Are You Reading?

itsmondayIt’s been a while since I joined in with the Book Journey meme, “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”  Maybe it’s time for an update!

I’ve been reading lots of fantasy for Once Upon a Time, which has been enormously fun.  And I can’t believe we’re almost a month in already!  I have so many more books to read…

Right now I’m midway through A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett, because I’ve been meaning for months to read more of the Tiffany Aching books, which feel a bit more like a proper series than the rest of the delightfully mixed up Discworld books.

Coming up next I have a big one to tackle: Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien.  I read The Hobbit years ago (and reread it recently), but I’ve never read the Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I was bound and determined to make the attempt this year, and now’s the time!

I am probably way over-focusing here…I reread The Hobbit and watched the movie of Fellowship in preparation, then made sure I cleared through my stack of library books before turning to Tolkien.  So I’ve been counting down to Fellowship for about six books now.  Wish me luck!

I have new ones coming in from the library as well, for once I get to the other side of Middle Earth.  I’m planning on Heir to Sevenwaters, the next in the series by Juliet Marillier, and The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, which I read so long ago I barely remember it.

As you can see, we’re continuing the fantasy adventures…

What Are You Reading This Spring?

itsmondayTime to join in again for the Book Journey meme, “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

I finished reading and reviewing Les Miserables, which was quite the long haul.  Read the review(s!) here: Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

I read and enjoyed the other books on my previous list, with reviews coming up in the next week.  I’ll have Scarlet up tomorrow.  (Addendum: It’s up now!)

Right now I’m in the middle of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, because I love her most famous book, Rebecca.  I first heard about this one years ago, and thought I didn’t want to read it because it was too much like Rebecca–another mysterious woman who may be good or may be monstrous, though in this case it’s her husband who died under mysterious circumstances.  So I put that one at the back of my mind and read three other, very different, books by du Maurier…and didn’t find them to be all that good.  Yet I’m convinced by Rebecca that du Maurier is absolutely brilliant!  And thus I’m deciding that maybe it makes sense after all to read her most Rebecca-like other book.  So far, I’m liking it better than the others!

Spring BooksAfter this one, I have a big stack of fantasy I’m eager to jump into.  The Once Upon a Time “challenge” runs every spring, and I may just start in on the fantasy a few days early.  I have a number of rereads piled up, but I want to take a new perspective on them: Chalice by Robin McKinley, because I want to look at it as a Beauty and the Beast retelling; Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, because it was only the second “12 Dancing Princesses” story I ever read, and now I’ve read eight or ten, and written one; The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien which I haven’t read since I was maybe twelve.  And I am vowing and swearing to read Lord of the Rings this spring, and The Hobbit seems like good gateway-Tolkien.

And last, I have been meaning to read Good Omens pretty much forever.  Because, I mean, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman!

I’ll let you know how it goes.  🙂  Happy Spring and Happy Reading this week!

It’s…Not Quite Monday, But What Are You Reading?

itsmondayAs usual, I’m joining in a little early for the Book Journey meme, “It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?”

I haven’t had much to report here recently, because I spent two weeks reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.  I turned the last page Friday evening–loved it, won’t even begin trying to unpack it here.  Stay tuned for a review (maybe more than one…it’s long, you know?)  In between volumes of Les Mis, I had some fun with graphic novels, and The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.

Looking ahead…yesterday at the library I picked up Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Book Two in her series of sci fi fairy tale retellings.  I waited literally months on the library hold list for Book One, Cinder, so for this one I was smart and got on the list much earlier.  Scarlet just came out in February, and I’m excited to jump in–apparently it brings in Little Red Riding Hood!

I also have Imagined Lives: Portraits of unknown people, a collection of short stories inspired by, well, portraits of unknown people.  I’m fascinated by paintings, especially portraits, and this collection is put together by my favorite museum (ever!), the National Portrait Gallery in London.  Plus I saw a TED talk by one of the authors referencing the book, and have been intrigued ever since–and without even realizing that Terry Pratchett contributed a story!

After those two, I’m hoping to read Marie, Dancing by Carolyn Meyer–if Amazon and the Post Office cooperate with my plans and get it to me!  I’ve read it before and it’s a pretty good historical fiction story about the model for Degas’ statue, The Fourteen Year Old Dancer.  I must confess, though, I’m mostly interested in a reread for the sake of what it can tell me about life in the Paris Opera House, circa the 1880s.  There’s not so much as a hint of a reference to Monsieur Phantom, but he was inhabiting the same time period…and I recently have been failing utterly to find an actual history book that will tell me about the Opera in that time.  So I’ll see what fiction can offer!

That sums up my immediate plans…what are you reading? 🙂