Glamour in Glass

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
2012, 335 pages

Jane and Vincent have gotten married, and now work together creating glamurals. Their first commission is for the Prince Regent. They then decide to go on a “honeymoon” to visit one of Vincent’s friends in Belgium. While there they try to figure out how to work glamour while moving, because this is something that cannot be done. While they are trying to do this, they learn that Napoleon has escaped from Elba and will be marching through soon. They are British, so there are many people against them. They are surrounded by spies, and is Vincent one? How will they escape?

This is much different from the first book, Shades of Milk and Honey. There is significantly less Austen references, which was one of the reasons that I so enjoyed the first one. On the other hand, this one focuses more on the glamour aspect, which I find interesting. The idea of using these illusions to make the world prettier is pretty cool. It later comes out that certain people are thinking of using it for military purposes as well. That is pretty interesting.

I learned a new word through reading this book too. That word is “widdershins.” It means counterclockwise. Why it is a word, I do not know. But I double checked, and it is, indeed, a real word. So get ready people, I will no longer be saying counterclockwise!

So while not quite as enjoyable as the first one, it is still worth a read. There’s another one coming out this year and I will probably read that too.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 bedazzles


Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
2010, 305 pages

So this book says that it is a mixture of Jane Austen and science fiction. Sort of. It has elements of the majority of Austen’s books, which I like, but a little easy on the science fiction.

Essentially the plot is that Jane (similar to Anne Elliot of Persuasion) is plain and sensible so no one sees her. However, she is a very well trained glamourist, the type of magic in the book is called glamour and allows the glamourist to create illusions using folds of the ether around them. She observes the world around her and looks for a man to love her for herself, even without being good looking.

The characters follow many of Austen’s, as there is the mother overtaken by nerves, the proud and mysterious stranger who Jane naturally ends up with, a greedy man who entangles himself with many young girls in order to get more money, and a flighty sister who rarely thinks of the consequences. Sound familiar?

I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t too heavy on the magic, but it was useful in some plot points. There is a sequel, and it is currently sitting on a shelf at the bookstore, so we all know where my next shift is headed….

Also, there’s a book trailer. And that’s weird.

Rating: 4 out of 5 bedazzles (I really like all the winks to Austen)

Reviews: Speed Round

I have been struggling through many books recently. Some have just not been working and I throw them away in disgust. Clearly I haven’t been posting about these. I figured that I might as well put the titles up. Maybe someone else will want to read them…or at least want to avoid them. With that in mind, here we go.

On a side note, I think that if I suffer an untimely demise it will be because the books on my shelves has squished me due to their anger that I have not read them.

Falling for You by Julie Ortolon
2002, 336 pages

Quick, trashy read. Rich society guy falls for poor, feisty chick. Not badly written for a romance.

Rating: 3 out of 5 bedazzles

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich
2005, 352 pages

Stephanie Plum’s adventures continue. Best part: a cross dresser who drives a bus and carries an AK 47 to protect the “little dudes.” I will continue to read the series.

Rating: 3 out of 5 bedazzles

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley
1992, 896 pages

Sequel to Gone with the Wind, the only book that I have actually thrown across the room because the ending annoyed me so much. Not badly written, but I skimmed the second half. I just wanted Scarlett and Rhett to get together! Preferable to Gone with the Wind though.

Rating: 2 out of 5 bedazzles

Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore
2004, 321 pages

Moore is very much a hit-or-miss author with me. I love Lamb, the story of Jesus written by Jesus’ best friend, and The Stupidest Angel. This one is a miss though. Started out okay, about whale researchers, but when things get weird I was ready to peace out.

Rating: 1 out of 5 bedazzles (1 means I quit reading. Get ready for more of these.)

Paris to Die For by Maxine Kenneth
2011, 368 pages

This book promised a lot, ie, Audrey Hepburn fighting crime and solving mysteries in Paris. Sounds like some of my favorite things. The plot is essentially that, before marrying JFK, Jackie Kennedy worked for the CIA. In the first chapter Jackie decides she doesn’t want to live the life of a debutante trophy wife and agrees to go work for a family friend in the CIA. She uses her feminine wiles on a Russian in Paris and then…I stopped reading.

Rating: 1 out of 5 bedazzles

The Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato
2011, 416 pages

Siena, in Italy, is under the governance of a Medici lady. There is a plot for the oldest, richest families to take back control of the city. There’s a girl (the Daughter of the title) married to an abuser and she falls for a commoner horseman.

I liked the author’s other books, one set in Murano and one set in Florence, but this one was just slow. I stopped about halfway through because all of the nefarious plotting wasn’t going anywhere, and isn’t that supposed to be the point of nefarious plotting? Just ask Gru in Despicable Me. He’ll tell you.

Rating: 1 out of 5 bedazzles

2008, 292 pages

I actually had to look up the plot to remember what on earth this was about. An NFL player fell in love with a dream girl when he came home from college one summer and never saw her again. 14 years later, he’s an NFL player and his dream girl ends up being assigned as his nutritionist. But she has a secret…..

Clearly forgettable, but not a bad read for a trashy romance.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 bedazzles (since I forgot what it was about)

Thus concludes this speed round. 🙂

Beautiful Creatures: Book and Movie

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
2012, 577 pages

Beautiful Creatures movie
2013, 2 hours and 7 minutes

I am not big on young adult novels. I don’t know why, but some of them I just can’t handle. Beautiful Creatures was recommended by both a tutoring student, we had spent the hour talking about books and movies, and my friend Alyisha, who I trust with the young adult novels and it’s kind of her thing. That, added to the fact that Amazon was running a deal where the books in the series (there are four of them) were $3 each, and my decision was clearly made for me.

The book is told from the perspective of Ethan, a 16 year old living in the small town of Gatlin, South Carolina. Everyone knows everyone else’s business, the “War of Northern Aggression” is still such a big deal that the history class puts on a reenactment every year on the anniversary of a local battle, and strangers are not to be trusted.

Ethan just wants to get out of Gatlin, until the strange Lena Duchannes appears. She is the niece of the town’s shut in, and Ethan instantly falls in love. But Lena’s different. She is a Caster, i.e. witch, and she is cursed. On her sixteenth birthday, she will be claimed for either Dark or Light, good or evil. A little too much of the book is spent wondering “will she, won’t she” but it’s not a bad read. There is, naturally, the sidekick to provide comic relief and the characters are all interesting.

I enjoyed most the parts that focused on the small town. They don’t like strangers, and there is a campaign set against Lena to try and get her run out of the local high school, led by Ethan’s best friend’s mother. There is also voodoo as well, Ethan’s housekeeper, Amma, is a Seer, and asks her ancestors to help her protect Ethan. Naturally there is the Southern Belle contingent, who act all nice but are really vicious. Note to self: don’t cross any of them!

So while the book was a pleasant surprise to my low expectations, the movie was an entirely different story. Shout out and apologies to Rachel, who I dragged to the movie with me and probably annoyed by leaning over every few minutes to say, that’s not what happened in the book. 🙂

Here’s the biggest problem: the movie really only uses the book for the character names and a teeny bit for the plot. However, if you haven’t read the book, the movie seems to be really confusing! Characters are combined, the housekeeper and the librarian (who is also the librarian of the Caster library in the book) are combined into one. In the book Ethan’s father is around, in the movie Ethan shouts at him a few times, but you know that he’s clearly imaginary. And this is the face for all of these problems:

Similarly, Lena has all these powers in the book but you don’t really know about them in the movie. Like, it rains on them all the time. Rachel leaned over and asked if she controlled the weather because they never say anything about it. So yes, the plot doesn’t follow the book at all, which makes it bad. The ending is possibly the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. It also differs significantly from the book, so that’s lame. And Ethan’s a big dweeb in the movie. In the book he’s a basketball player, so there’s a general level of cool about him. Not in the movie! Whoa. I think he actually snorts as he laughs at one point. Super dweeb. Unless you can see this for free, back away!

Book rating: 3.5 out of 5 bedazzles (not super my scene, but it is an enjoyable quick read if you don’t think too much)
Movie rating: 1 out of 5 bedazzles

Against My Better Judgment….

When Parents Text

Normally I hate books that originated as blogs. They generally should not be books. That is why they are blogs. And I probably wouldn’t shell out money for this one. But as something to read at work last night, it was pretty amusing. I actually started laughing out loud when I read some of the texts. Good thing there weren’t very many customers, or they would wonder what I was doing!

So….don’t read the book, but go to the website. Some of them are real gems. Especially if you need a time waster or a reason to not do your homework (this guy!).


Holly Would Dream

Holly Would Dream by Karen Quinn
2008, 448 pages

Holly works in a fashion museum, which she loves. She wishes her life was like the plot of a 1950s movie where everyone wears fabulous clothes and falls in love with a rich guy (I agree). Instead she has a horrible fiance who leaves her and an evil boss who gives her promotion to someone else. Holly decides to take matters into her own hands and makes a bet with her boss that if she gets a huge donation for the museum she will get to keep her job. Her plan is to go on the cruise that the museum has booked to give fashion talks and rustle up some new donations.

While on the cruise, Holly realizes that her luggage, which she lost, has some priceless Audrey Hepburn costumes that she was supposed to be delivering to a fashion museum in Rome. She then tries to track down the luggage and not get fired, while falling for the rich older guy. (See, plot of an old movie, I tell you!)

I enjoyed this book for many reasons. Firstly, I love old movies. There are lots of mentions of them in the book, and I have seen most of them. So yay for me getting the jokes. Also, I love old clothes too. I would like to walk around in fancy clothes from the 1950s. And clearly I wish I was Holly. So there’s that. The plot is amusing, the book moves fast and it ends happily, which is really the whole point. I would recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5 bedazzles

Face Palm

So it’s been a while since something completely ridiculous has happened in the store. Yesterday, however, it appears that people took their stupid pills and then went out shopping. And while that sounds mean, it was definitely true.

Exhibit A: A woman came up to me with a military book and asked if it was nonfiction. I checked and said that yes, it was, indeed, nonfiction. Her response: “Oh. Well I don’t want that then. I want the books that are true stories.”

Her daughter was in the store and knew what nonfiction was. I very kindly explained that nonfiction meant that it was true. Meanwhile, I was totally judging her.

Exhibit B: After the nonfiction woman, a teenager and her mother came in looking for a book. It was not, “I have a title and an author.” No, it was “I maybe have a title, but I know the whole plot, so if you could find that..” The daughter is going on about some sort of romance book about suicide and love and star crossed lovers and maybe it is called The Plan. (The only Plan book we have is a weight loss book, so I think not.) I said I didn’t know of it and the teenager was fine with that. Her mother, on the other hand, was not. “Well, where do you keep the books with that kind of plot? Suicide? Violence? But in a romance.”

What I wanted to say was, “This is a bookstore. We do not organize books by plots.” I didn’t though, just said we didn’t have anything like that. The mother looked at me like I was the stupid one for not immediately finding them this book. They left in a huff.

Kiddie Pick #1

Neversink by Barry Wolverton
2012, 287 pages

While at work yesterday I noticed this book and decided I should probably read it. I mean, the cover is of a walrus, puffin and hummingbird. And they live on an island called Neversink. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be awesome, yes? And if that didn’t sell me, there was the definition of a puffin, taken from The Walrus Guide to Lesser Creatures.

“Puffin: Smallish, squidgy, improbable looking. Relatively quiet and well mannered except when provoked. Not to be confused with a penguin, or a parrot, or a cross between a penguin and a parrot.”

This book was quite lovely. Long ago, before there were people, and books, and clothes, Lockley, the puffin, lived on Neversink with a colony of Auks (apparently birds that look sort of like puffins but are not, necessarily, puffins). The Auks had originally lived on Tytonia, but the owls who ruled all punished the Auks and forced them to move to the island of Neversink, for losing the Cod Wars. The auks all go about their business, fishing and hanging out, but Lockley wants to be different. Puffins are “objects of suspicion in a colony where Blend In and Don’t Make Waves were the guiding principles of life.”

On Tytonia a small pygmy owl, Rozbell, decides that he wants to be king. Rozbell kills the old king and says that it was from the Sickness, a threat from the past where the prey for owls was diseased and could kill them. Rozbell then decides to institute a fish tax on the auks on Neversink. Lockley does not agree with this and tries to make waves, but of course the other auks would rather just grumble and carry on.

Rozbell’s Napoleon complex leads him to become even more of a dictator and Lockley decides to fight back with his friends Ruby, the hummingbird, and Egbert, a very verbose walrus. (How great is it that a pygmy owl has a Napoleon complex? He’s tiny, Napoleon was tiny, it works!) Egbert decides that they should protest, and comes up with the slogan “Ichthyological Taxation Without Representation Shall Not Stand!” So Rozbell represents a dictator, and Lockley, his wife and friends represent the revolutionaries who have to try and convince everyone else that they should fight the owl’s rule. This is the main plot.

As a side plot, Egbert wants to create books so that future generations can read about the past. Lockley says, “most animals are fairly literal…Apparently, it’s why we don’t yet have a large body of imaginative fiction.” That made me smile. Rozbell then decides that Egbert should write his biography, including some poetry that he wrote, “For eons afterward, dictator poetry was regarded as one of the most deplorable trends in publishing until the dawn of celebrity children’s books.” Not only is it true, but it makes me laugh.

I love children’s books that have stuff in there for adults to smile about. It’s as if the author is saying, yes, I wrote this book for children, but an adult is probably reading this and would like to be entertained too. It’s funny and you can draw parallels to the real world. Hence, awesomeness.

Rating: 4 out of 5 bedazzles

Summerset Abbey

Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown
2013, 320 pages

This was another book recommended based on liking Downton Abbey. I was a little concerned that
1. it would just be a rip off of the show and would be the same thing (there is an Abbey in the title….so….) and
2. that it might be just as awful as Snobs. Also, the cover didn’t really give me a vote of confidence. Luckily this was not the case. I actually enjoyed this book, and it only took an afternoon to read.

The book opens in 1913. Rowena and Victoria have just lost their father, Sir Phillip, who took a very liberal approach with the class system. His brother, the Earl, takes the girls in and naturally is very concerned with class and where everyone belongs. This grates on the girls, especially because their best friend, Prudence, was their governess’s daughter. She was raised along with the sisters and shared everything with them, but when they move to live with the Earl she is forced to be a servant. Important plot point: Where does Prudence belong? Who are her parents? (Her mother apparently never mentioned her father)

The good thing about this book is that nothing really terrible happens to the girls. They’re just going along, finding some love interests, and no one dies (aside from the dad at the beginning). Something that keeps coming up in the book is how the class system and the way things work will not last forever. This is a trilogy, so I’m thinking that will become important in book number 2.

Anyway, quick read, interesting, not depressing. 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5 bedazzles

Snobs by Julian Fellowes

Snobs by Julian Fellowes
2012, 288 pages

Oh why did I read this?! This is the face:

So, I read this because I, unfortunately for me, watch Downton Abbey. At this point I don’t even know why. Nobody can catch a break on that show, so I spend about half of it sitting there crying and yet I still go back and watch a new episode. That’s not good. Amazon recommended some books that are similar, and really I just wanted to find a version of this show that doesn’t suck and people actually have happy endings.

I would have quit about halfway in, but since I spent the money to download said terribleness onto my Kindle, I soldiered on.

It is written by the guy who wrote Downton, so, okay, he can write some witty dialogue, maybe the book won’t be that bad? I should have read the book description first! Or known that the title meant stay away! Essentially the story is about an upper-middle class woman, Edith, who decides to marry into the rich British nobility, Duke Somebody-or-other (ir is it an Earl?), because that is what everyone dreams of, isn’t it? Naturally the marriage is not awesome, as the Duke is a super bore, and she has to fight with in-laws and various other people who think that she is not quite “of their set” or whatever.

The strikes:

Strike 1: Everybody is whiney in the book. They are not happy with what they have so they look for something better. There are the social climbers and then the actual rich people. And they all hate each other and are content to put each other down while smiling.

Strike 2: The author seems to rely a bit too much on big words. Ok, you are smart. Why are you trying to convince us that you know all the things? The most annoying example: “solecism” is thrown around left and right. According to Merriam Webster, it can be used in two ways: 1. a blunder in speech or 2. something deviating from the normal, proper or accepted order.

Strike 3: The book circles around. The end of the book is pretty much the same as the beginning of the book. Not much changes for any of the characters. And that is annoying.

Here are the only good bits, which will save you the time of reading said boring book:

“Squidged” is used as a verb. Granted it is caviar squidged on a cracker, but I really enjoy that word. I will try to find more ways to include it in conversation. I feel that frosting could be something that is squidged.

And the one quote, that I think is actually in the Amazon description which gives you hope that the book does not suck:

“The English…are addicted to exclusivity. Leave three Englishmen in a room and they will invent a rule that prevents a fourth joining them.”

Rating: 2 out of 5 bedazzles (And half of a bedazzle is just because of the word squidged)