If you’re going to write a book about Beefeaters in the tower of London, it doesn’t hurt to be named Stuart.  For the uninitiated, Stuart is the illustrious (infamous?) last name of James I of England (son of Mary Queen of Scots).  And even though the author is likely no relation (she makes absolutely no such claims) it lends a certainly legitimacy to her story.

Which is funny because I really did believe everything she wrote in this book, though the rational side of my brain kept reminding me, as the title drives home (der, it’s “a novel”).  Her snippets of Tower “history” were just kooky enough to be true.  The scientist in me is eager to go read a history of the tower to check, but the reader in me wants to let sleeping ravens lie.

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 As regular readers of this blog know, I’m contrary about a lot of things, but particularly when my ‘non reading’ friends recommend a book.  I resist, I balk, I dig in my heels until either one of two things happens a) someone literally puts the book in my hands and says “READ IT!” or b) a ‘real’ reading friend recommends it.  If neither of these two things happen I simple become of those people who appear behind the times, but is secretly sitting smugly and patting myself on the back for not following the crowd.  Of course, as I’ve acknowledged before, this kind of thinking is potentially dangerous, since I would miss some amazing reading.   And really, who am I to judge what other people are reading?  At least people still are reading, even if it is on an e-reader (don’t get me started there. . .).  Sometimes, like now, when I’m too tired and dazed to concentrate, easy reading, good reading, fun reading is exactly what is needed.

Like the rest of the world I’d been hearing about Sarah’s Key everywhere.  Lots of people I knew had read it and were lauding it, but these were all the same people who read Water for Elephants (full disclosure, I read that too, but in hardcover, before everyone was mad about it and before that Twilight guy made a movie of it).  My mother, the mother-of-all-readers, brought it over and put it on my shelf without so much as a comment (apparently option c to get me to read something).   I found it after I spent three days enthralled with The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and needed some fiction.  However I wouldn’t call this book, a story about the Holocaust, easy nor fun, but it was in so many aspects, very very good.

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 I’ve gotten on my soapbox before about how high school English ruins reading for kids.  And be forewarned, here we go again.   But before I begin, I just want you to read this:

“This was the tree, and it seemed to me standing there to resemble those men, the giants of your childhood, whom you encounter years later and find that they are not merely smaller in relation to your growth, but that they are absolutely smaller, shrunken by age.  In this double demotion the old giants have become pigmies while you were looking the other way.”

I have one question.  How the HELL does anyone expect a 16-year-old to understand that?

The fact is, course, that they can’t.  They’re sixteen, mere emotional fetuses.  They read John Knowles beautiful words, but they don’t digest them.  They hear but they don’t listen (isn’t that typical teenager behavior?). They don’t get what this book is really about, which is deeply sad, because there is so, so much to “get.”

I know this, because I was asked to read this book when I was sixteen and I even I, a practically professional reader, almost forgot about the third protagonist – the war.  What I remember most was wondering idly which of the boys I would have liked to date (Finny of course!).   In that way I am (or rather, as I like to think, was) no better than the scads of Twi-hards in their Team Jacob and Team Edward tshirts.

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Hiya! Remember me? No? Oh, fine. Neither do I, so I guess we’re even.

While it may not look like I’ve been reading much at all by the total lack of posting, you’ll be surprised to know that my lack of posting is due to two things that aren’t that:

1. The “L” key was stuck on my keyboard.

2. I’ve been too busy reading!

I know — not exactly as solid as Jessica’s “I spent the last year creating and raising a human being” excuse, but it’s a start.

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I have this self-imposed rule that you don’t buy a book with the movie photo on the cover.  I’ve broken this rule twice – once for A River Runs Through It (the one with a silhouette of Brad Pitt), and a few weeks ago for Shutter Island (which, I’ll admit, I bought at the grocery store – I’ve really purchased books everywhere). 

It also goes against my general beliefs that one should not read a book after seeing a movie, but after many years of wanting to do this and stopping myself I finally relented (it’s my own rule after all).   I really like Dennis Lehane’s books and though I hate most Martin Scorsese films (yes, even the ones with Leo in them), I wanted to see this movie because the author himself said he really enjoyed it.  After seeing it I was so intrigued by how it would play out in print form.  It was an impulse buy at the checkout line, pure and simple.

So in the interest of alleviating some cognitive dissonance (how’s that for a psychological term?) I decided to change this rule too.  My new rule:  it’s acceptable to buy the movie version of the book – only if it’s a trade paperback. 

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Jesse and I like to think we appreciate each other all the time (though as a middle child i often feel underappreciated), but even so we’re really excited that it’s that time of year again!  Book blogger appreciation week is almost here.   It’s a time when we can appreciate other book bloggers and the general fun and geekiness that is book blogging in general.  We both encourage you to check out the BBAW website  for more information.

Jesse and I have registered our humble little blog for two categories – Most Eclectic Blog and Best Written Blog.  Our favorite posts below will be presented to the judges.

Best Eclectic Blog

Peter and The Sword of Mercy
1602
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
A New Mom’s Guide to Reading
Odd and The Frost Giants

Best Written Blog

Peter and The Sword of Mercy
1602
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
A New Mom’s Guide to Reading
Odd and The Frost Giants

Wish us luck and check out some of the (other) amazing blogs participating in this year’s BBAW!

“I’m not a Starcatcher anymore, James.  I’m a mother of three and the wife of a prominent barrister who does not approve of talk of starstuff and evil creatures and the like.  Childhood fantasies, he calls them.”

These are the words of Molly Darling, nee Molly Aster, a hero in the previous Peter installment, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon.  Now, I’m not here to disparage wives and mothers, especially now that I’m both of those things.  But I reserve the right to mock a formerly powerful girl who not only worries about, but abides by what her uptight, self-righteous husband “approves” of.

Thankfully the lady doth protest too much and by the beginning of the next chapter has embroiled herself in the dangerous adventure that threads through the book.

But Wendy, she’s another story.

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My mother’s reading habits are less like Jesse’s and more like mine.  She reads quickly, broadly and plentifully (is that a word? spell check says it is).  This, in addition to our generally similar test, and our always similar distaste in fiction make us especially good reading partners. 

She and I exchange books so often that we don’t always remember whose book it was originally.  We also share with many others in the family and with select friends, so it can get confusing.  For instance she recently recommended a book to my sister-in-law that my sister-in-law had given to me which I then passed on to my mom. 

Further, sometimes we want the books back, sometimes we don’t care where they end up.  So we have a system.  Anything we want back we put our address label inside.  Anything we don’t want is blank.  Apparently though, somewhere along the way, we needed some improvements on this system.  I went to my mom’s house the other day and saw a familiar book on the table.  I picked it up and read the back and thought “Hey, this sounds like a good read.”  I looked inside and found a post-it note in my own handwriting:

“You have read this book before.  And yes, you need the reminder.”

I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes.  The funniest part is, that neither she nor I can remember who the note was for.  Clearly we’ve both read the book before and at least one of us (if not both) has attempted to read it again.  So it’s entirely possible she is currently reading it for a third time – and enjoying it.  I might even take it from her when she’s done.

What does this have to do with A New Mom’s Guide to Reading?   Rereading!

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I forgot my book in the other room earlier this morning.  Not a problem for a normal person, but a huge problem for a new mom.

Now that I have a newborn, my world has diminished substantially from as recently as a month ago.  My world, in its entirety, consists of three rooms in my house.  As such, I have come to realize the importance of having things at arm’s length (yes, one arm, because the other is holding the baby).  Not just things such as burp cloths, tissues, a glass of juice (I do think it is possible, like  Tantalus, to die of thirst within sight of refreshment), but other things like this laptop I’m writing on, or, for those brief moments when the baby is finally asleep and I can’t move from my position, a book.

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It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a potentially brilliant/interesting/funny idea, poorly executed, was probably done as an Emerson College senior project.

At least that is an inside joke that my sister, an Emerson alum, and I have had for years.  I was not surprised to hear that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was written by an Emerson alum.  Nor was I surprised that it is so popular.  The idea is positively hilarious.

I’m no Austen purist, as shown by my benign tolerance of other P&P “spin offs.” I think Ms. Austen had enough imagination to appreciate this humorous use of her work, and she had the kind of sensibility that would make her likely to enjoy a good zombie story.  Unfortunately I don’t think she would want to be given credit for this book (she’s listed as a coauthor) because it really isn’t a good zombie story.

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Jessica’s Reading

Jesse’s Reading

Jesse and Jessica are Both Reading

Devin’s Reading

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