Showing posts from May, 2017

Book Review: Courtesan by Diane Haeger

Courtesan by Diane Haeger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

To be clear, this is a work of fiction, a romance novel based on a real person, rather than an historical novel. Big Difference. Don't read this one for the history. Diane de Poitiers existed, and she was the mistress of the King of France. Some of the events from her life are represented in the book, and some are fabricated. Diane Haeger has done her research, and the book rings true-ish for the most part. It's the story of the widow Diane, who is called to the court of Francis I, presumably to become a conquest of the king's. She faces the king's advances, the hatred of the official "Favourite", Anne D'Heilly, and the contempt of the king's closest advisors. She is also pursued by a charming but duplicitous courtier. It reads like a 16th century "Mean Girls". Pauvre Diane!

After many trials, Diane falls into an affair with the much younger (20 years) son of the king, Henri, who …

Book Review: The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, by David Jaher

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won The Witch of Lime Street in a books giveaway quite some time ago. I put it on the stack and didn't remember it until I recently added some large gorgeous bookshelves to the house and started shelving my books properly. I'm so glad I did!

This book is a non-fiction, but reads like a novel. The author, David Jaher, has conjured up a great story, with magic, celebrities, sex, spirits, violent death and hubris. It all takes place in the 1920s, after the Great War, when Spiritualism gained strength as a movement. The war, and even more so the Spanish Flu, had killed so many people, that many bereaved loved ones wanted to try to contact their dearly departed one more time. Mediums were popping up the world over, and famous people like respected author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were promoting Spiritualism to willing audiences. At the same time, others, such as Harry …

OUTLANDER MANIA!!! Bookish Box Un-Boxing

A few months ago I ordered an Outlander Bookish Box. When it finally came, I was so excited I couldn't wait to do a video un-boxing. This is the result - an awkward, weirdly positioned video. It does show all of the cool items I received in my box:

Bookish Boxes are by subscription for the monthly boxes, or they have these special boxes that are available to order separately, like the Outlander box. You can read more about that here:

Of course I had to get the Outlander box! I've been a Diana Gabaldon fan ever since Outlander was first published, and the advent of the wonderful Starz TV show has only made my heart beat faster. One day I will find a beautiful full-size hardback copy with the original cover, like the one pictured, and like the one I read back in 1990 or 1991.

If you haven't read the book, do it! Or go watch the show. It's pretty faithful to the book, you won't be disappointed. And you'll fall in love. I'm j…

Book Review: My Mother was Nuts by Penny Marshall

My Mother Was Nuts by Penny Marshall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Penny Marshall has always wanted to just play. She came from this dysfunctional family in New York, got married and had a child at a young age, then became an actress, met everyone in show business and even beat cancer. And then she wrote a book about it.

My Mother Was Nuts is such an easy book to read. It feels like Penny is just sitting there next to you, with a cigarette in her hand, telling you her life story. I could almost imagine her voice as I read. Sometimes I would be laughing out loud, then somber, realizing that she has lost both her brother and best friend just this last year, and I feel so bad for her. She comes across as such a real human being, so enmeshed in movies, talking about all these incredibly famous people, but it never seems like name-dropping, it's just Penny talking about her friends.

A League of Their Own is one of my favorite movies, so I was very happy to read a chapter or so about it. Pe…

Book Review: I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron

I Feel Bad about My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a short little book (137 pages) with stories about getting older, the past, purses and threading, among many other things. I read it in one morning, in between doing laundry and eating breakfast, before going to the gym. Nora Ephron is a very famous writer for movies. You've very likely seen her stuff. She doesn't spend a lot of time on that, though. She talks about various things in her life, including her pretty amazing life in New York from her time as a young woman to the time the book was written, in her 60's. She's funny in an understated way, but I burst out laughing a few times. I read parts aloud to my husband. She's a smart lady. I have little in common with Ms. Ephron. She's been married 3 times, she's a famous movie person, she's a Democrat, she's a wealthy New Yorker and she knows a lot of celebrities. I am not any of that - but …

Book Review: I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwitch

I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities, and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50 by Annabelle Gurwitch
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Goodreads needs to add a new shelf for books like this one - "Stopped Reading". I really thought I would like this it. I'm the target audience, just shy of 50, dealing with all that entails. The cover was really cute, the title made me laugh out loud, and really, if we can't laugh over these indignities that come with aging, we're just going to be sad.

I read the first 4 or 5 chapters and just sort of gave up. It's amusing, but not laugh-out-loud funny, and that's ok, if there is any substance behind the amusement. But this book doesn't have it. As others have said, it's possible that I just am too far removed from Annabelle's lifestyle to relate too much to her.

She tries to work in "jokes" about Conservatives, and sometimes they work, but most of the time they don't, and sometimes they'…