Month: January 2017

Jan 24

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill

Audio Books, Non Fiction 10

Greetings Bookworms!

If you’re anything like me (and I imagine that you are) you’ve fantasized yourself into the plot of a novel every now and again. It’s difficult NOT to get swept up sometimes. Of course, whenever I’m in the throes of a particularly dreamy bout of “I wish I were Elizabeth Bennet” or, you know, any historical heroine, I like to remind myself about the lack of indoor plumbing. That usually helps. Which is why I was so flipping excited to get my paws on a copy of Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners by Therese Oneill. Actually, I decided to use an Audible credit to get the audio book version and OMG. It was an EXCELLENT use of a credit!

It’s so easy to get caught up in false nostalgia, isn’t it? I mean, the past gets all obscured in mist and fog. It seems so idyllic, what with the nattily dressed gents and the waltzing and folks being so polite all the time. Therese Oneill is here to burst your bubble, but her fabulous and irreverent sense of humor takes some of the sting out of it. (The narration of the audio book is A+ hilarious. If you’re on the fence, go audio!) Did you know, my little erstwhile Austen-ite, just how horrendous everyone smelled in the Victorian era? Or just how much you really love your indoor plumbing and modern sewer systems?

Oneill walks the reader, a modern 21st Century woman, through the ins and outs of life in the Victorian era. From the fashions of the day to the complex social mores, this book is seriously eye opening. Then there’s the whole issue of things we take completely for granted- say, for example, that the medical community understands that mental illness is not caused by one’s uterus? There are a zillion reasons I’m grateful I live in there here and now, in spite of any daydreams about Mr. Darcy. That dude probably smelled really, really bad anyway.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It was so funny and so informative. I wish all non fiction were this delicious. If you have even a passing interest in the subject, do yourself a favor and give Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners a read (or a listen.) You won’t regret it!

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s the one bit of modern living that you are most grateful for?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

 

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Jan 17

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Contemporary Fiction 13

Greetings, Bookworms!

The fact that it’s cold and gray doesn’t appear to have had the desired effect on my blogging output. So much for that theory. I’m still reading, of course, in between bouts of hibernation and snacking. Yes, I’m probably part bear. Let’s not make a big deal out of it, okay? Anyhow, a while back I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (review) and really dug it, so I thought I’d check out some more of his work. That’s how I came to read Britt-Marie Was Here.

Britt-Marie is sixty three years old. She’s not difficult, she just happens to like things a certain way. A well organized cutlery drawer and a thorough understanding of the virtues of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) are key to a proper life. Kent never fully appreciated the extent to which Britt-Marie kept his life in order, unfortunately, and she’s simply had enough of their loveless 40 year marriage. Once she’s left, she takes a job the only place she can find, the rather derelict town of Borg. It was once a thriving town with a large trucking company, but it was hit very hard by the financial crisis. Britt-Marie begins work attempting to bring order to the soon-to-be-demolished recreation center, and soon finds herself somehow coaching a youth soccer team.

Fredrik Backman has the market cornered on curmudgeonly older Swedes with hearts of gold, let me tell you. Over the course of the book, we learn a lot of the circumstances that shaped Britt-Marie into the woman she became, and we are privileged to witness the circumstances that surround her metamorphosis. I mean, she ends up coaching soccer, for heaven’s sake. It’s adorable.

I must admit that I was somewhat surprised by the plot of this book. For some reason, I never think of a country like Sweden having any problems. It’s one of those countries that always seems to be topping the “best countries to live in” lists. I just never thought “oh hey, I bet there are economically depressed areas of Sweden that are plagued with crime, unemployment, and general discontent.” Because I’m incapable of recognizing complexity, or something. Actually, I’ve got a quote from the book that totally works right here. Ahem: “Societies are like people in that way. If you don’t ask too many questions and don’t shift any heavy furniture around, there’s no need to notice their worst sides.” You should probably read this book. It’s a delight. Britt-Marie Was Here– check it out!

Talk to me Bookworms! What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Sweden?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 03

Bite Size Reviews… For Everything I Didn’t Review in 2016

Bite Size Reviews 10

Happy New Year, Bookworms!

It’s 2017 now, y’all! Maybe this year will be better than the last. (If you don’t have Counting Crows in your head right now, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.) I sort of fell off the planet mid month because December turned into craziness and I just didn’t blog. I had holiday magic to make. But now it’s January, which is prime blogging time because there is NOTHING to do in January. So. Maybe I’ll catch up on my reviews and come up with brilliance. I’m feeling optimistic. Anyhow, I had a post draft sitting around that I meant to publish as a set of mini reviews in December, but since that didn’t happen, we’re going to play catch up now.

ONE: The Graceling Series by Kristin Cashore: Do y’all know Jenny from Reading the End? If you don’t, get to know her. Chat with her on twitter. Girl is a delight. Which is no surprise because her dad is basically the most whimsical man to have ever graced the planet. Case in point: he read this YA girl power fantasy series and was totally jazzed about it. Which is 100% why I decided to read it. Because if Jenny’s dad thinks it’s a good idea, it probably is. This is a three book series; Graceling, Fire, and Bitterblue (though Fire was really more of a companion/prequel than a second installment, but I digress.) I thought Graceling was the best of the bunch, Fire was entertaining though a biiiiit of a slog, and Bitterblue rounded things out nicely. If you’re in the mood for a YA fantasy series, it’s a solid investment.

TWO: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez: Oh this one was a heartbreaker. The Rivera family leaves Mexico for the US after their daughter Maribel suffers a near fatal accident that leaves her with a traumatic brain injury. They arrive in Delaware hoping to enroll Maribel in a special education program to help her recover. Holy smokes, y’all. This is an eye opening view into the life of immigrants. Every resident of the Redwood Apartments has a different story, and they’re all beautifully woven together. Plus young love? Gracious. Read this one, okay?

THREE: Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz: Since we’re on the topic of powerful immigration stories, it’s fitting that we follow up with the tale of Jasmine de los Santos. She’s a high school senior, straight A student, and captain of the cheerleading squad. Her future at the college of her choice is all but ensured until she receives the devastating news that her family is undocumented. Their visas expired years ago, and her Filipino family has been living in the US illegally. In the meantime, Jasmine falls for a boy- Royce, the wildly unsuitable son of a prominent politician who is vocally anti-immigration. I have read some criticisms of this particular storyline because some felt that their very chaste courtship wasn’t something that should have had Jasmine in such a tizzy, BUT. As a gal who didn’t date a whole heck of a lot, I fully relate to getting one’s emotions all a flutter over a couple of make out sessions.

FOUR: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova: This book was kind of amazing. If you dig books about magic, drop what you’re doing and pick this up. Latin American tradition infuses every inch of this highly inventive fantasy novel. Alex is a bruja at the cusp of her power. Only, she hates magic. In an attempt to rid herself of the pesky talent and live her life as a “normal” person, she accidentally banishes her family into another dimension. WOOPS! In order to save her family, Alex must venture into an in-between world known as Los Lagos accompanied by the enigmatic Nova, a handsome but untrustworthy brujo boy. There’s something of a love triangle going on when Alex is attracted to Nova while simultaneously being attracted to her best friend Rishi. Bisexual representation in a YA novel full of fantasy and folklore? It’s as awesome as it sounds. You should totally read it.

FIVE: Henna House by Nomi Eve: I’ve always associated the art of henna with India and Middle Eastern countries, but I never really thought of it as a Jewish custom. I don’t suppose the custom is necessarily Jewish per se, but it was definitely practiced by the Jewish folks living in Yemen in the mid 20th Century. Which is a thing I know now, thanks to reading this book. It’s similar in tone to The Red Tent (though I must admit I preferred Anita Diamant’s style). A fascinating book about a fascinating culture, the book tackles everything from arranged marriages to historical atrocities. Definitely worth a read.

Whew! What a start to the year! I’m not going to be making any resolutions, because I’m terrible at them, but I’m looking forward to a kicking year in reading and blogging. I’m ready for you, 2017. I’ll fight you if I have to. So. You’d best behave yourself.

Talk to me, Bookworms! Are you making resolutions this year?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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