Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Yesterday I took an admin day to take care of some administrative tasks that had been piling up. This included making some long-needed changes to my blog templates.

I've done quite a bit of work revamping the Livre du Jour template. You'll find that post titles are also now links to the individual post pages, for one thing. I've also written an author bio, rather than pulling in my Blogger profile, and changed the picture. Finally, I've made the copyright notice a little more prominent, as well as provided a link to the feed for the site.

Other than that, the only changes are a little reworking of the ads displayed on the main and individual post pages.

Let me know if you notice any bugs with the new template changes, and enjoy!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

iconiconNote: The image links to Barnes & Noble's paperback and ebook editions.  If you prefer a free ebook version, you can download a nicely formatted one for free from Girlebooks.com.

I actually finished this book at least a week ago, but I've been really busy and kept forgetting to blog about it.

Anyone who knows me or reads my blogs often probably already knows that I'm a Brontë fanatic. I visited Haworth in March, and have read Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Shirley, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall multiple times each.

Anne Brontë is my favorite of the three sisters — I absolutely adore The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. I hadn't read Agnes Grey yet, though, so when a friend gave me a book on the Brontë sisters' books and the influences on them, I decided I needed to hurry up and finish reading their novels before reading the new book.

Flipping through the book our friend gave me, I saw a comment about how the reader can see a lot of growth between Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. This is absolutely true. Agnes Grey had a lot of description and much more "telling" than "showing," and is a much less involved plot than Tenant. Tenant, on the other hand, shows a lot of growth in the development of plot, characters, and narration.

Agnes Grey is an interesting story and worth reading if you are a big Brontë fan — I think it really helps to understand Anne's work to see its progression. I also can't help but wonder how much of the observations and events that took place in Agnes Grey came from Anne's real-life experiences as a governess. However, the book is not for everyone, and is much more difficult to appreciate on the basis of the story alone than Tenant.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Light of the Oracle by Victoria Hanley

iconiconIt's pretty bad when your reading list is so long you even forget what books you have waiting on the shelf. But that's exactly what happened with The Light of the Oracle, by Victoria Hanley.

I bought this book months ago when I saw it at Barnes & Noble. It's an autographed copy by a local author, not to mention it's in my favorite genre (young adult), so I thought it was worth giving a try.

I wasn't disappointed. The Light of the Oracle is a fantasy about a young woman with special powers and visions, who is discovered by the Master Priest and taken to the Temple to train as a handmaiden. There, she encounters the shady politics that the Temple is involved in.

The book has all of the characteristics of great young adult fantasy: The action starts off immediately, the fantasy world is solidly created, and the heroine is properly flawed — and unlikely heroine. It is also a fairly short, fast-paced story that didn't take me all that long to finish.

This is apparently the author's third book, and a continuation of the world created in her earlier two. I will have to check them out as well!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Horse, Follow Closely by Gawani Pony Boy

iconiconOne of the reasons it took me so long to finish The Other Boleyn Girl was because I took a break midway through to read a couple of horse books. One I haven't finished yet, but the other was a training book called Horse, Follow Closely by Gawani Pony Boy.

I've reviewed this book over on my Pony Tales Blog, so I'll let you go over there to read it!

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

iconiconLast year, my husband and I watched The Other Boleyn Girlicon (the movie), and I loved it so much that I promptly put Philippa Gregory's book on my stack of books to read. I'd bought the book a few years ago, but I have so many waiting to be read that I hadn't gotten to it yet. In fact, even moved up to the "short" stack, it still took me months and months to get to it, if that tells you anything!

Anyway, in the meantime we'd also watched the first two seasons of the TV series The Tudorsicon, and I'm now very glad I'd waited to read the book. I'm not usually a fan of watching the movie first, but in this case whatever you do with the movie you also ought to do with the TV series: Either watch both before you read the book, or read the book before you watch both.

This is because there is A LOT that wasn't included in the movie, but was definitely present in the TV series. The major difference is that the TV series cuts Mary out of pretty much everything, so none of the events are shown from Mary's point of view. But since it's a TV series, there was also more time to include many of the complicated events that led up to Anne's beheading.

I have to say one more thing about this book. It's a perfect example of how sometimes hastily flipping through a book won't really tell you anything about whether you'll like it. When I flipped through it after watching the movie, I wasn't sure I'd like it, particularly the writing style. But I was quite wrong: I loved it! It's hard to say what makes us decide to read certain books, but apparently judging a book by its cover isn't the biggest danger. I'm glad I decided to read this one anyway!