What’s the funniest book you’ve read recently?
Well, I don’t want to go into too much detail, because I haven’t yet posted the entry for it, but I really enjoyed Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair. I’m really glad I finally picked it up, because it had me giggling, chortling, and even guffawing more than once.
Other funny includes Rouse a Sleeping Cat, on of my favorite darkly funny low fantasies. Check the entry out for an excerpt of funny.
The Bearkeeper’s Daughter by Gillian Bradshaw
Houghton Mifflin, 1st printing, 1987
Genre: historical fiction
Synopsis & Review: In the year of the plague, a young man comes to Constantinople, seeking an audience with the Empress. He is allowed in for one reason, and that reason is that he claims to be her son. Years before she married Justinian, Theodora was an actress and sometime prostitute; one of her protectors, Diodoros of Bostra, raised the son she bore him. An upon his deathbed, he confessed John of Bostra’s origins to him. At loose ends, John has come to Constantinople seeking the truth–and he finds it. Theodora welcomes him in secret, granting him clothes, lodging, finding him an excellent job under Narses, Justinian’s head chamberlain. The one catch is that though she sponsors him, Theodora must keep John a secret in order to protect both herself and him. She presents him as a cousin from the respectable side of her father’s family, and the lie passes–for a time. As John works under Narses first in the palace, and then in the field in Thrace, he proves himself intelligent, hardworking, and extremely capable, catching the attention of both the Emperor and rival factions. An older man, Justinian wonders about a young man rising so quickly under his wife’s sponsorship, and John’s future is threatened.
This was one of the books I received from California (a friend was getting ready to move to NJ, and offered to send me whatever I wanted for the cost of shipping. Score!). Read the rest of this entry »
Last week saw the continuation and culmination of my short chick-lit/Emily Giffin marathon, as I finished Baby Proof and Love the One You’re With. It was a little much, as I mentioned in my Something Borrowed review. In the middle of the marathon, I indulged myself with a long-lost romance that captivated me in elementary school, The Loving Highwayman. I got all four of my Giffin entries up, including two that bled over from the previous week, and then published nary a one till last night–though the book stack just kept rising.
Once through the fluffy halls of chick-lit, I refreshed myself with a recovered children’s book of the Wild West, Patricia Beatty’s Melinda Takes a Hand. I also traveled back to Byzantium with The Bearkeeper’s Daughter, one of the box sent from California. And yesterday at work, I plowed through Karleen Koen’s Dark Angels, a prequel to her magnificent Through a Glass Darkly.
Last night I finally forced myself to add an entry on Rouse a Sleeping Cat. It’s one of my all-time favorite fantasies, so I wanted to do it justice. I don’t think I did. I also added an entry for that youthful favorite The Loving Highwayman, and today added Melinda Takes a Hand. I hope to be all caught up by tomorrow with entries for The Bearkeeper’s Daughter and Dark Angels.
This week, I expect to finish Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes and The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, both of which I started last ngiht before bed. I also need to catch up on Villette! And after reading the highly enjoyable … In the Attic and The Chick Manifesto, I feel a yen for some VC Andrews. Dare I add another challenge?
Melinda Takes a Hand by Patricia Beatty
William Morrow & Co, 1st printing, 1983
Genre: Children’s literature
Synopsis & Review: Thirteen-year old Melinda Carpenter was endowed with generous horse sense, so when her older sister Sarah Jane plans to travel from Chicago to San Francisco to marry her fiancé Edgar Everett Potter III, their aunt and uncle send Melinda along to represent the family and keep an eye on Sarah Jane. But upon their arrival in Goldendale, Colorado to meet his parents, the letter waiting for Sarah Jane so upsets her that she breaks off the engagement right there and then. To protect Sarah Jane and give her some time, Melinda first cables Edgar Everett Potter III with news that Sarah Jane has run off with a train conductor, then cables her aunt and uncle to tell them that Edgar Everett Potter III drowned at sea. Rather than return to Chicago as an object of scorn, Sarah Jane decides to stay in Goldendale, and Melinda stays with her. To earn their keep, Sarah Jane begins housekeeping for a local judge, while Melinda acts as his dog-catcher. Though Goldendale is a tiny town of the Wild West and can’t hold a candle to the Chicago of the World’s Fair, Melinda finds plenty in Goldendale to keep her busy, from errant Great Danes to English lords and their castle, and county seat politics to school bullies. Read the rest of this entry »
The Loving Highwayman by Helen Ashfield (Pamela Bennetts)
St. Martin’s Press, 1st US edition, 1983
Synopsis & Review: The Duke and Duchess of Kirkland are all but estranged, living parallel lives of gambling and licentiousness, but for the Duchess at least, it’s a façade, designed to protect her pride from her husband’s betrayals. Stung by his mother’s sordid reputation, their son Alistair Seymour, Marquis of Lingard lives his own riotous life as a rake, vowing to never love a woman. Like his parents before him, however, Alistair cannot resist a bet, and so he accepts two: first, to live as a highwayman for a month, and second, that he’ll not marry and fall in love before the year is out. Meanwhile, lovely Lady Anne Lydford, daughter to the Earl of Lomax, has been held up by a highwayman in Epping Forest, and a family friend abducted. Desperate to find Gem before her reputation is entirely compromised, Anne disguises herself as a man and searches the Forest for a highwayman. Alistair and Anne meet, and a comedy of errors and mistaken identity ensues. Read the rest of this entry »
Rouse a Sleeping Cat by Dan Crawford
Ace, 1st printing, 1993
Synopsis & Review: Exiled from her native Reangle, the one-time Baroness of Koanta Nimnestl met up with the necromancer Kaftus as he made his way to Malbeth, capital of Rossacotta, to protect the infant King, Conan III, Lord of All Rossacotta, the Mines of Troppo, and Anything Else He Can Take. Nimnestl became the King’s Bodyguard, the second most hated person in Malbeth, and so began the Regency. As Conan grows, so do the plots and conspiracies in the Palace Royal, as everyone from page to Councilor, seeks to climb the heights. Nimnestl and Kaftus stand as a bulwark against treason, protecting the very precarious stability of Rossacotta, so newly come to civilization. For centuries, Rossacotta was the sewer of an entire continent, offering shelter to any criminal with either money or cunning. It’s very old, very rich, and very bad. Even criminals can love their King and country, and some Rossacottans do unabashedly, confusing the many complex plots even further. Bemused by Rossacottan’s barbaric ways, Nimnestl enlists unlikely allies, such as Polijn, assistant to Malbeth’s worst minstrel. Hailing from Malbeth’s lowest district, The Swamp, Polijn has seen it all. As she creeps delicately around the traps and plots of the Neleandrai—among others—Polijn simply tries to stay alive and out of harm’s way. But unless she and Nimnestl can stop it, no one will avoid the deluge. Read the rest of this entry »