Archive for the ‘books’ Category

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When the Yule Log Burns

December 25, 2018

So, uh, hey. It’s been a while.

I’m really sorry for not posting for so long. I’m really sorry for missing Captain Blood Day. I tried to get something together but I just couldn’t do it. But I didn’t want to let Christmas pass without at least one Christmas story. And I’ve only got one, but, as luck would have it, the one story I read was kind of two.

Leona Dalrymple is pretty good at Christmas stories. Jimsy: The Christmas Kid and In The Heart of the Christmas Pines are exactly what Christmas stories should be. When the Yule Log Burns is…also many things a Christmas story should be, and I’m tempted to say that it’s my own fault I didn’t love it. Maybe I would too anxious to get something read and reviewed. Maybe I’ve read too many of these things before. And, you know, I like a predictable Christmas story. But this one (these ones) left me kind of bored. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Spray on the Windows

July 20, 2018

The thing about Spray on the Windows (by J.E. Buckrose) is that I’ve only just admitted to myself, a month and a half after finishing it, that I don’t like it. I feel guilty about that, because it’s not bad. It’s just that Buckrose’s thesis is that no matter how much life sucks, it’s going to be okay if you’re with the person you love, and to prove that thesis, she has to make life suck pretty bad. For most of the book, things are sort of okay, but you know where it’s going, and “how unhappy is everyone going to be?” is my least favorite kind of suspense.

Our protagonist is Ann Middleton, who has just moved to the seaside town of Wodenscar to work for the wealthy and eccentric Mrs. Barrington. Mrs. Barrington has a nephew who Ann would like to marry, and he likes her, too — but not necessarily enough to offer her marriage. Then there’s Ann’s neighbor Stephen Finlay, poor and disgraced and possibly a bit of an obstacle to Ann marrying for money.

You get to stress through her romantic decisions, stress through her married life, and stress through some possibly supernatural deaths and near-deaths. It’s…not that much fun. But I suspect that if I was a little less prone to anxiety, I would have liked it a lot more.

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Empty Hands

June 22, 2018

Robert Endicott, early in Arthur Stringer’s Empty Hands, compares his employee Shomer Grimshaw to a Diesel engine, efficient and emotionless, and wonders who would win out if Grimshaw had to deal with Endicott’s modern, spoiled daughter Claire. As a reader, you know what this signals: they will meet, and probably fall in love, and we’ll find out just how human Grimshaw can be. And I guess we do, but — and I suspect Stringer didn’t intend this — the answer is “not very.”

Read the rest of this entry ?

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Fashion Magazines – 1904, 1916, 1922

June 13, 2018

This past week I’ve been a) mainlining Grace S. Richmond books I’ve already read and b) burying myself in early 20th century fashion magazines via Google Books. I thought some of you guys might enjoy the results of b).

My Twitter threads with lots of clipped illustrations, quotes, and a smidgen of commentary:

Take a look and tell me which dresses you’re picturing on which fictional characters.

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Nina’s Career

June 7, 2018

The bad news is that Nina’s Career isn’t as good as The Story Book Girls. The good news is that it’s still good enough that I want to read everything Christina Gowans Whyte ever wrote.

Nina Wentworth is an orphan being raised in London by three spinster aunts. Their income will die with them, so eventually Nina will have to support herself, and as she’s shown some artistic talent, she’s training to be an artist.

That’s not what the book is about. Read the rest of this entry ?

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An Everyday Girl

June 5, 2018

An Everyday Girl, by Amy Ella Blanchard, is one of those books that wants to be two or three completely unrelated books, but it’s fine. I didn’t mind the structural issues half as much as the casual racism (including blackface and the N-word).  Read the rest of this entry ?

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The Seed of the Righteous

June 3, 2018

The Seed of the Righteous feels like Juliet Wilbor Tompkins’s entry into the subgenre that includes V.V.’s Eyes, The Clarion, and A Poor Wise Man. But those are about wealthy young people coming to terms with the ethical realities of their situations, and this is about a poor one. Read the rest of this entry ?