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Telynor's Library, and then some

A woman of a certain age who has three cats underfoot, and has the dream of filling her passport with stamps. Books, classical music, tea, cats, movies, art, fancy needlework,  and anything else I can think of.

Small town life in a remote location -- welcome to Haines, Alaska!

If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska - Heather Lende

A collection of short narratives and news blips from Haines, Alaska, as written by Heather Lende. Lende wrote obituaries and short articles for the local newspaper, the <I>Chilkat Valley News</I>. Most of the stories in here are about death, not surprisingly, but there are some that are funny, and almost all of them are heartening, showing a community where everyone knows everyone else. The book isn't that long, and can be easily read in an evening or two. I liked this one, finding it most interesting when Lende discussed the Tlinglit peoples who lived in and around Haines. It's not a book for everyone, but if you are interested in Alaska, this should do nicely. Four stars overall and recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:

A misunderstood Prince who spent decades waiting to be king.

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince - Jane Ridley

So far this is the best book that I have read about King Edward VII of Great Britain. Starting with his birth, and the very complicated relationship that he had with his parents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Living a childhood of isolation and high pressure, Bertie found relief in partying hard, the social whirl, travel and especially pretty women. His mistresses were notorious, with one that landed him in a divorce court. But he was lucky enough to marry a beautiful woman, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who was able to provide him with a loving home and children. Unfortunately she couldn't keep him from his mistresses. His first sexual adventure would cause a rift with his mother that was permanent, for his father had exploded with rage when the news came out -- and died less than a month later. But not only was Bertie was a scandal, he was also charming, perceptive, and a quick learner. By the time he became King in 1901, he was an able negotiator and was able to forge alliances with France and Great Britain. This was a fine read, with plenty of analysis and insights. Great for fans of British history or royalty. Five stars overall.

For the longer review, please go here:

Frustrated desires

The Age of Desire - Jennie Fields

I really enjoyed this novel about Edith Wharton, her husband Teddy, their friend Anna Bahlmann, and the man who messes it all up -- Morton Fullerton. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, the characters very believable and sympathetic, and the story all based in fact. While most readers will find it all slow going, that was for me part of the charm of this one, where it seems that Edith is taking forever to make up her mind -- at times I found myself thinking, <I>go on, get on with it!</I> -- the results of all that dithering more than made up for it. All in all, this got four stars from me along with a recommendation.

For the longer review, please go here:
France -- http://www.epinions.com/review/the_age_of_desire_by_jennie_fields_2012_hardcover/content_643315502724

Reading progress update: I've read 282 out of 726 pages.

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince - Jane Ridley

Bertie marries Alexandra of Denmark, the births of their children, Alix's bout of rheumatism, the horrible comments in the republican press about the death of their youngest son, Bertie has typhoid. Also various mistresses, Bertie's travels abroad, and the assassination of Tsar Alexander II and Alix's sister Minnie becomes Empress of Russia, and Tsar Alexander III.

Reblogged from Themis-Athena's Garden of Books:

A story that felt incomplete despite Rule's excellent research

Practice to Deceive - Ann Rule

This latest by Ann Rule stretches over decades and most of the US in putting together the reasons for the murder of Russel Douglas on Whidbey Island. How the investigators tracked down who and why the murder happened is what makes this interesting. However, this single-story book left me feeling rather unsatisfied and the story seemed incomplete. While Rule does remain at the top in those true-crime authors that I will read, this one faltered somewhere. Still, for the die-hard fans out there, this one is worth the trouble. Three and a half stars rounded up to four, and a somewhat recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:

Reading progress update: I've read 101 out of 726 pages.

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince - Jane Ridley

Bertie's childhood, troubled adolensence, and his arranged marriage to Alexandra of Denmark. Some very good insights into both Victoria and Albert. Albert was a hysterical prig, no other way to say it.

A story of murder and morphine and missing widows

The Twisted Root: A William Monk Novel - Anne Perry

A very intense plot involving two story arcs that do merge. The first is about a missing widow, Miriam Gardiner, who has vanished on the day that she is celebrating her engagement to young Lucius Stourbridge. Missing along with her is the family coachman along with the carriage and horses. When the man is found with his head bashed in, suspicions fall on Miriam, being the last person to see him alive, but when Lucius' mother is found in her bedroom with her head crushed, Miriam is arrested. And she appears doomed to hang -- for she will say nothing in her defense. In a parallel tale, Hester is continuing to volunteer at the hospital but her attempts to modernize the care for patients and nurses' training is halted by a bureaucratic director. Then she finds out that one of the nurses is stealing morphine. Does Hester turn her in, or will she try to find the real truth? It's a fairly good novel, and has a nicely complex plot, but the reason why this didn't get five stars was that I was able to figure out who did the killing early on. I hate it when that happens. Overall four stars and a recommendation. Oh yes -- Hester and Monk have finally married.

For the longer review, please go here:

Sibling rivalry, scandal and two sisters

Harriet and Isabella: A Novel - Patricia O'Brien

A very involving tale of two sisters, Harriet and Isabella, members of the large, well-known Beecher family, and the trial that drove them apart. This is a carefully plotted, intricate novel about slavery, women's rights, and family  loyalties, all gathered up in a story that really made me think. Those who like their historical fiction to be well-written and accurate will enjoy this one. I give it four stars and a recommendation.

For the longer review, please go here:

My Challenge reads for 2014

The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton In Patagonia - Bruce Chatwin H.M.S. Surprise (Folio Society) - Patrick O'Brian A King's Ransom - Sharon Kay Penman The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo - Tom Reiss The Honourable Schoolboy: A George Smiley Novel - John le Carré The Emancipator's Wife - Barbara Hambly The Accursed - Joyce Carol Oates The Abominable - Dan Simmons The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War - Michael Shaara

And this, ma amiee's are the only have-to reads for 2014.


1. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
2. H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian
3. In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
4. A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman
5. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss
6. The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carré
7. The Emancipator's Wife by Barbara Hambly
8. The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
9. The Abominable by Dan Simmons
10. The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War by Michael Shaara
11. Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
12. The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields

+1. The Winter Crown by Elizabeth Chadwick
+2. Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs by Bob Brier
+3. The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince by Jane Ridley
+4. The Annotated Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Reading progress update: I've read 170 out of 325 pages.

The Red Queen - Margaret Drabble

Now finished the first half from Lady Hong's pov. Now in third person as Dr. Babs Halliwell goes to Seoul, all told in painfully slow , tedious prose. Just suck all the life out of story, why don' t you?

_The Curse of the Pharaohs:_ Great fun, dead bodies, a cat, and a curse

The Curse of the Pharaohs - Elizabeth Peters

Picks up about five years after the events of The Crocodile on the Sandbank. Amelia and Emerson are in England, having married and had a son, nicknamed Ramses. But the death of an amateur archaeologist in Egypt draw them back to the Nile (Ramses, alas, is too young to go), and not only are there some colourful characters to deal with on the expedition, but a curse seems to be hell-bent on ruining them. Being of scientific mind and constitutions, both Amelia and Emerson feel that the curse is really someone trying to ruin things, but the real question is why, and how will they try to do it? We also get to meet the lovely Bastet for the first time, a cat that attaches herself to Amelia, and providing some vital information herself. Great fun, a tomb, four dead bodies, and a great read. Four stars overall and happily recommended.

For the longer review, please go here:

A most pleasant surprise in this sequel to Pride and Prejudice.

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel - Pamela Mingle

This one turned out differently than most Austen sequels that tend to be awful for me. Focusing on Mary, the middle sister, we follow her reactions and thoughts as her married sister Lydia returns home -- announcing that she is pregnant <I>and</I> leaving  her husband, Wickham. With Kitty in tow, the two unmarried sisters are sent on to their eldest sister Jane. While there, Mary meets Mr. Walsh, a gentleman who she's very attracted to, but there seems to be complications. How it all plays out is what makes the bulk of the novel. Fortunately, the author knows her Regency details, and avoids most of the mistakes that many have made in trying to continue Jane Austen's novels. This comes to about three and a half stars, rounded up to four, and a recommendation.

For the longer review, please go here:

Reading progress update: I've read 75.

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing - Anya Von Bremzen

Can I just say how much fun I am having with this one? I'm a foodie, and always interested in Russia, and this excursion/memoir of Russian food and custom is a scream and a half. The exploration of how and why Russians drink, not to mention the proper way to drink (drinking alone is a no-no) is both very sad and riotously funny.

Ross' trial, a new set of lovers, and the 'death' of Jud Paynter

Jeremy Poldark - Winston Graham

Third in the Poldark saga, this is one that resolves the final twist that occurs at the end of the novel <I>Demelza.</I> The first half of the novel is taken up with Ross' impending trial for disturbing the peace, striking an officer, and other assorted bits of mayhem. Ross for his part has turned dark and sullen, especially as if he is found guilty, he could quite well be executed. Demelza, his wife, is mourning the death of their daughter Julia, and is trying hard to keep Ross in line, and find a way to save him. As with the rest of the series (so far) this is wonderfully written and full of life, and it is great to see the return of characters that we care about. This is clearly a bridging novel, resolving some issues, and continuing the overall story a bit, and I suspect, setting up the plot for the next novel, <i>Warleggan.</I> Four stars overall and a hearty recommendation.

For the longer review, please go here:

Putting to rest a tragic adventure, and half-baked conspiracy theories

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident - Donnie Eichar

A very compelling tale of mystery involving nine Russian hikers who perished in a remote part of the Ural Mountains. Donnie Eichar uses survivor's stories, official documents, interviews, and his own experiences at the mountain to give an answer to a riddle that has spawned plenty of conspiracy theories -- such as aliens, angry gnomes, irate tribesmen, escaped prisoners, secret military experiments and the like. What I really liked was that the author took the time to really explore the nine hikers, giving them stories and personalities beyond cold statistics. And the solution is based in real science, not half-baked theories. The only drawback are the photographs, which are rather fuzzy and grainy. On the whole, this gets four stars and a recommend from me.

For the longer review, please go here: