I’m trying something new with this post, so bear with me. When I started my blog, I had a long-term idea that I would write an entry every time I visited a bookstore – talk about where the bookstore was located, some general information about the store, and a list of what I bought. Ideally all the bookstores featured would be quirky independent places, and the posts would have lots of lovely photos and encourage lots of people to visit. My blogging abilities are still developing, so we’re not at the photo stage (and also I didn’t think of doing this until I had left the store), but I figured I would give this a shot.
Monthly Archives: February 2013
“The town of Wall stands today as it has stood for six hundred years, on a high jut of granite amidst a small forest woodland. The houses of Wall are square and old, built of grey stone, with dark slate roofs and high chimneys; taking advantage of every inch of space on the rock, the houses lean into each other, are built one upon the next, with here and there a bush or tree growing out of the side of a building.
…Immediately to the eat of Wall is a high grey rock wall, from which the town takes its name. This wall is old, built of rough, square lumps of hewn granite, and it comes from the woods and goes back to the woods once more.
There is only one break in the wall; an opening about six feet in width, a little to the north of the village.
Through the gap in the wall can be seen a large green meadow; beyond the meadow, a stream; and beyond the stream there are trees. From time to time shapes and figures can be seen, amongst the trees, in the distance. Huge shapes and odd shapes and small, glimmering things which flash and glitter and are gone. Although it is perfectly good meadowland, none of the villagers has ever grazed animals on the meadow on the other side of the wall. Nor have they used it for growing crops.
Instead, for hundreds, perhaps for thousands of years, they have posted guards on each side of the opening on the wall, and done their best to put it out of their minds.”
I’ll be honest, guys: I was really, really worried about this one. After being disappointed and slightly embarrassed by Beauty Queens, I was worried that Libba Bray had lost it.
But I should have known better. This is the woman who wrote the Gemma Doyle books, a historic fiction/supernatural series about teens with magic powers; and Going Bovine, a book about a teenager trying to stop the end of the world. Once I realized that The Diviners was going to be a historic fiction/supernatural thriller series about teens with magic powers trying to prevent the end of the world, I knew everything was going to be okay, because this not a heavy-handed political statement about feminism and pageant foolery. This is unabashed Gothic supernatural historic fiction, and it’s what Libba Bray does best.
The last Brunetti mystery I read (Doctored Evidence) left me feeling mostly cold. By then, I had read several of Leon’s mysteries in rapid succession and was tired of her formula. But when I was in the library last week, browsing through the mystery section, I decided to revisit the Brunetti series. Even when the mysteries themselves aren’t thrilling, I always enjoy reading about Leon’s non-tourist view of Venice.
After the heart-stomping terror that was The Magicians, the second book in Grossman’s series seems to be almost an apology for what he did to us in the first book. “Look!” he seems to be saying, “it all turns out okay! The kids get to live in Fillory and be kings and queens, and they go on a voyage to explore the other islands and it’s all fun and hardly any of it is horrifying! See, I didn’t want to crush all your hopes and dreams about fantasy worlds! It will all be okay!” And you believe him, because in your child’s heart you still want to believe that one day you’ll be spirited away to some fantasy world, where everything is talking animals and nothing hurts, and you will get to be Special, because even Lev Grossman lets this happen to his characters.
After I finished reading this, I put off writing a review for about a week, which is much longer than I normally do. There are a few reasons for this. First, once I finished the review, it would mean that the process of reading A Dance with Dragons was well and truly over, and that now I would have to join all the other George RR Martin fans in the long, grueling wait for Book Six. Having spent my summer ripping through the first five books in rapid succession, I’m still not sure if I can handle the years of waiting for the next book, much less remember who the fuck Oberyn Martell is and why he’s important. While reading this book, I found myself thinking, “wait, which Clegane brother is the Hound again?” so I don’t have a lot of faith in my ability to remember everything that Martin needs me to remember to enjoy this series.
Several months ago, when I was visiting home for a family event, I once again stayed in a Country Inns and Suites. And once again, I took advantage of their overly-trusting nature and stole a book from the bookshelf in their lobby. (Okay, technically it wasn’t stealing, since their policy clearly states that you can take a book and return it the next time you’re in one of their hotels, so if I’m ever in a Country Inns and Suites again, and if I happen to have this book with me, I will gladly return it. Sorry guys: I am the reason we can’t have nice things.)
As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to read it immediately. Paris? Crime? Belle Epoque? Detectives? Yes, yes, yes, and YES.
Seventeen-year-old Quentin Coldwater has always been obsessed with fantasy worlds. As a child, he was obsessed with a series of books about four British children who travel to a magical world and become royalty there (the magical land is called Fillory – why, what did you think I was talking about?), and has always wished that he could escape the real world and have an exciting adventure in a different world. One day, while on his way to a college interview, Quentin is given a mysterious envelope, and learns that he has been selected to apply at Brakebills, a school for magicians. He gets in, and spends the next five years at Not-Hogwarts learning magic. And then he gets out of school and he and his friends find out that Not-Narnia, aka Fillory, is real.
Here is the genius of Hilary Mantel: she can take a story about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, a subject that I have been reading about since I was twelve, and make it new and fascinating to me. She does this mainly by focusing her story through the eyes of, not Anne or Mary Boleyn (as so many authors choose to do) but through the eyes of a relatively unknown and certainly mysterious person: Thomas Cromwell, Master Secretary and grand puppetmaster of all Tudor drama. Cromwell is, to this day, an enigmatic character, and most of his motivations and machinations remain a mystery to us. Which is what makes Mantel’s Cromwell trilogy so great: she’s showing us this common, well-known story and making it fresh by writing about it through a new perspective while also providing her own solutions to questions about Cromwell.