The Wonder of Story

Have you ever held a new book in your hands, fresh and clean and so ripe with possibilities? You want to start reading, immediately, leap into its pages, but you don’t know where to start, as silly as that may sound. This is one of those books.  For those of you who may not know (or have forgotten), I am in love with Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters books. So when her first anthology of fellow-author-written stories based in the world of Edwardian England under the veil of the White Lodge (Elemental Magic) was published, I was ecstatic. I bought a hard copy, as well as an e-copy on my Kindle. I read it to my infant daughter to put her down for  naps and thrilled at it in the quiet of my private time.

And, then, this morning – Christmas morning – I unwrap a gift from my husband to find this particular beauty waiting for me. I was wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and absolutely thrilled. I jumped up, ran to the bookshelf, and picked up the previous anthology to make sure that they were indeed different, and then I did a little happy dance in the living room and told my husband that he is simply amazing (which is very true). But I cannot describe the butterflies in my stomach as sit here with this book next to me. It’s like I want to rip into it but, at the same time, I want it to be the right time. The right time when I can have a substantial amount of time to myself to dive into these stories properly. I just can’t wait!


BabyLit Books

I made the greatest discovery in Books-a-Million the other day. BabyLit books. These books are the classics, re-purposed for toddlers and early learners. I love this idea! These books are beautifully designed and illustrated board books, re-titled as “primers” on different early learning subjects. For example, Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky is labeled as a nonsense primer. I have already bought three of these for my daughter: Pride & Prejudice, Jabberwocky (for reading time with Daddy), and Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles. So she has counting, nonsense, and sound primers so far.

I’m very excited to collect the rest of these books and start instilling an interest in the classic with my daughter early on, just as Wishbone did for me as a kid. And I’ll tell you a secret: I ended up reading every one of them. 🙂

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Ah, the discovery. The day that you walk through the bookstore, minding you own business, only to find that a book that you have been anticipating slipped through its release date without you even noticing. That was me and The White Princess, Gregory’s latest addition to The Cousins’ War. I was being so good, purchasing only what was on my list and making record time to boot, and here was this beauty just calling to me. So I used the last of an anniversary gift to purchase it for myself and have been enjoying it in the short spurts that I get to read for myself in the midst of raising an 8-month-old. This also happens to coincide with the premiere of the Starz production of “The White Queen” series, which is based upon The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The White Princess.

As I began to read, having only recently finished The Kingmaker’s Daughter, I instantly had the urge to lay all four books of The Cousins’ War side by side and see how seamlessly Gregory moves from one character’s point of view and emotional space to another’s. Anne Neville saw Princess Elizabeth of York as plying her wiles to steal Richard III away from her, to remove Anne from her place and cement her own position. In Anne’s eyes, it had naught to do with love but was merely a ploy well-used by the Woodville women in the past. As you begin The White Princess, however, you see Elizabeth in deep and painful mourning for the man she loved, the selfsame RIchard III. She gives each character an original voice and their own, defensible position. Doesn’t matter if you’ve read the same story from three different viewpoints already, you instantly feel for Elizabeth, especially in the light of her sister Cecily’s spite, though poor Cecily herself has been ill-used by Richard III. Well, at least her own mind, if no one else thinks so. Now Elizabeth must cement her position again and marry Henry Tudor. He needs her to solidify his throne and the beginning of his dynasty; she needs him to save her family and restore them to a position of pride and power. She must do her duty as the daughter of Edward IV and as a Woodville woman.

I am looking forward to diving ever deeper into this book and losing myself in the world of the Roses once again.

The English Roses: Too Good to be True by Madonna

The English Roses: Too Good to be True

When I first spied this book in the bargain bin at Marsh, I thought it lovely and grabbed it up immediately. For my Elizabeth, of course. But that doesn’t mean that Mommy can’t enjoy a pretty book, too. When I saw the title, I colored myself surprised. I have seen Madonna’s renditions of folk tales before but never The English Roses.

Think that your friendship can withstand anything? So did the English roses: Charlotte, Amy, Grace, Nicole, and Binah. This is the second book in the series, the first outlining how the girls become friends. Now, the English Roses are starting fifth year  of school together. And with that fifth year come several surprises, chief among them are a teacher named Miss Flutternutter (I kid you not), the fall dance, and a gorgeous new exchange student by the name of Dominic de la Guardia (yes, like the airport). Of course, all of the girls instantly fall for him and try to gain his favor. Except Binah. But this is the classic instance of the girl who doesn’t try is the one who gets the attention. But what will this obvious preference by Dominic do to the girls’ friendship? Will the other Roses allow the Green-Eyed Monster to come between them or will they learn another important lesson in life and friendship?

Madonna writing style is very much the intrusive narrator, who stops frequently to address a fictitious reader, who also interrupts with comments. It’s rather endearing, in my view, and children will find it funny, I believe, especially if read aloud. The illustrations and illuminations on each page, done by Stacey Peterson, are colorful and lively and fit well with the voice and style of the book. This is an excellent partnership between author and illustrator, a fun story, and a delightful read altogether. Well done!

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

So, my experience with Orson Scott Card has been limited to his books Enchanted and Hart’s Hope. I enjoyed the former and definitely struggled through the latter. However, in a night of boredom in the husband’s absence and the baby’s slumbering, I walked over to Ben’s Card library and pulled down this hardback, finding myself struck by the cover. Reading through the synopsis, I decided to give it a try. I am fewer than 100 pages into it but it is rather interesting thus far. I am rooting for Danny and have easily come to instantly despise some of his family members.

I will be honest in that I’m not entirely sure of what to expect of this book; it’s been years since I read a Card book but I am hoping for this to be a good adventure. I like Mages.

Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

Started 5/28/2013: I read Amirrezvani’s first book, Blood of Flowers, and found it excellent. I know that I shall have to read it again to truly get all of the nuances and the like but the imagery and importance of the carpets is beautiful.

Now I have begun her new novel, Equal of the Sun, the story of Pari, a Shah’s favorite daughter and, undoubtedly, the equal of any man in the palace in the areas of governance and strategy. When the Shah dies unexpectedly, without a will or a named heir, Pari and the narrator, Javaher, her newest eunuch and gatherer of information, must navigate this world of men and prevent the Shah’s kingdom from falling into civil war amongst his sons.


The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory

I have just crested page 100 of Philippa Gregory’s The Kingmaker’s Daughter and I marvel on how much has happened in just these first 100 pages. Let me remind you, there are 412 pages in this book, so I have hardly scratched the surface.

Gregory paints such a picture of tumult, confusion, embarrassment and agony for Anne and Isabel Neville that it breaks your heart over and over again. Within 100 pages, we have had three rebellions and have just embarked upon a third. It’s all rather amazing that so much has happened in only 100 pages.

Anne Neville is an incredibly sympathetic character. You feel for this poor girl who has been taught familial loyalty no matter what and is thus moved back and forth in a deadly chess game by her constantly scheming father Warwick the Kingmaker. You can see the effect that the tumult has on her mind and her heart, as well as on her perceptions of the world. She had been taught that the world was one way and, at a moment’s notice, that idea can be turned on its head, presented as her new normal, and leave her foundering for a foothold, poor girl.

I am greatly looking forward to see what continues to happen with Anne Neville as she and her elder sister are played for pawns by their power-hungry father. Though he may never be able to possess the throne himself, Warwick will take it any way he can and sacrifice whomever he must to make his power complete.

Just how safe can one be? Even his daughters?