Monthly Archives: June 2012

Bookends About Tigana

Title: Tigana
Author: Guy Gavriel Kay
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Summary:  I was very close to giving this a five-star, gushy review.  The plot is clever and thought-provoking and the characters have a lot of depth, but I just didn’t find the ending very satisfying.

Like Hyperion (which, having read the sequel, I’ve retroactively makde a 5 star book), this book was selected by the Sword and Laser group on goodreads, has been nominated for several awards, and was exceptionally well written.   Tigana is about a world similar to 16th century Italy, with many warring provinces.  In this world, eight of the nine provinces have been conquered by two foreign sorcerers.  In revenge for the death of his son one of these sorcerers has obliterated one province entirely, casting a spell that prevents anyone not originally from that province from even remembering its’ real name – Tigana.  The book focuses on efforts, lead by people from Tigana, to remove the two sorcerers without allowing either of them to grab control of all the provinces. Continue reading

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June BAND Discussion

Today I’m doing a couple of last minute posts for the month of June and that includes the current Bloggers’ Alliance of Non-fiction Devotees (BAND) discussion.  Each month, this group poses an interesting question related to our common love of non-fiction.  This weeks’ question comes from Marilyn from Me, you, and books and she asks the following question:

When is an author’s subjective response to a subject not a bias but a legitimate perspective? What non-fiction have you read where an author’s feelings enhance your understanding?

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Photography Friday

Although the name “Photography Friday” has become less accurate lately, I am excited to at last have gotten out to take pictures this week.  With getting ready to move to Ithaca at the end of July, I’ve already started putting in extra time trying to finish things up here before I leave.  But today the weather was beautiful and I didn’t have much work to do, so I just wandered around my apartment complex and enjoyed taking some nature pictures.  I hope everyone else is having a relaxing weekend too :)

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The True Catherine de Medici

Title: Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
Author: Leonie Frieda
Source: library
Fun Fact:  During her life, three of Catherine de Medici’s sons were king of France.
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Summary: I loved the characters and their stories, but the narration was a little dry.  It wasn’t overly scholarly or a difficult read, but the plot was sometimes hard to follow and I think this was because the author treated the book like a list of facts instead of a story.

After reading The Dark Queen, a historical fiction novel in which Catherine de Medici is portrayed as the titular dark queen and an evil witch, I was left wanting to know more about the historical basis for the story.  In The Dark Queen Catherine is accused of everything from poisoning her rivals to employing beautiful seductresses to control her courtiers to engineering a massacre.  This non-fiction account is largely intended to dispel such rumors and show what an impressive woman Catherine de Medici really was.  And after reading the book, I’m convinced.  She was a little ruthless protecting the throne for her sons, but she was also a very courageous, capable, and mostly well-intentioned woman.  Interestingly, many of the horrible things Catherine did in The Dark Queen are based on rumors the existed in Catherine’s time, although most are false or only very loosely based on actual events. Continue reading

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Monday Musings

This week the Monday Musings question from Should Be Reading is the following: Do you set goals for yourself, while reading? For example, “I want to get this book finished this weekend“, or “I will read __ pages today“, etc. Why, or why not?

I do set reading goals, but only in a very informal way.  With book blogging, I think it would be very easy to become stressed out about trying to get books done instead of just enjoying reading them, so I’m careful not to beat myself up if I don’t meet my goals.  But I do always try to have at least one non-fiction review and one fiction review each week, which sometimes means finishing a book by a certain date.  I’ve also started doing a lot more online book clubs and book tours, so I might have to become a little more structured with my reading goals in the future.

What sort of reading goals do you set for your self?  How do you avoid letting blogging make reading a chore?

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Bookends About The Dark Queen

Title: The Dark Queen
Author: Susan Carroll
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary:  I wasn’t sure I liked this book at first – as a historical romance, with more sex and a more serious plot than the “chick flick” style romances I occasionally I read, it was a little outside my comfort zone.  But I ended up loving it and the other four books in the series enough that I would definitely read more books like them, partly for the great plot and partly because I’m a sucker for a happy ending :)

During the late 16th century in Renaissance France, Ariane Cheney, a daughter of the earth and lady of the faire isle, is duty bound to prevent the misuse of power by other daughters of the earth.  Although the true witches are those she defends against, she also faces the superstitious minds of the time, some of whom would brand her a witch as well.  When a stranger arrives seeking Ariane’s help against the dark queen, Catherine di Medici, even the strong Ariane needs some help.  She has no one to ask but the Comte de Renard, although she hesitates to do so because of both their mutual attraction and her uncertainty his intentions are as straightforward as he would have her believe. Continue reading

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The Lives of a Cell in the 570′s

Title: The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher
Author: Lewis Thomas
Source: library
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Summary: This collection of short but thought-provoking essays is sometimes humorous, sometimes inspiring, and always an insightful, approachable look at some of the wonders of biology.

Although written in the 1970′s, these essays by Lewis Thomas cover subjects that are still some of the most interesting questions in biology today.  From the awe-inspiring complexity of a single cell to our approach to curing diseases, from how our interactions compare to those of social insects to the health care system, the essays in this book will give you a new appreciation for biology and a unique, thoughtful perspective on these fascinating topics.  Every time I finished an essay, I was struck by the thought that surely no one really just sits down and writes essays like this any more.  More than anything else, the author reminded me of a naturalist, someone from the early twentieth century simply observing, wondering at, and trying to learn from nature. Continue reading

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