Sorry kids, no feet.

I'm a reader raising voracious readers. To mock my children, I have recently quit my job so  I can stay at home and read all day. I enjoy caffeinated beverages, short walks to the library, and long walks down aisles of used book stores. 

Reading progress update: I've read 142 out of 536 pages.

The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

Getting through the initial chapters describing the various elements of the abbey was tedious. Like watching a classroom full of kindergartners try to tie their own shoes. I just wanted to skip ahead. I mean really, how relevant could all of this information be later on? 

 

I pushed through. I read all the pages. Now I'm into actual mystery. People are having conversations with each other. Now my biggest problem is keeping all the characters straight. I made a list. It has lines. It's a little bit of a mess. 

 

All of that aside, I can see why so many people have this on their must read historical fiction lists. 

Reading progress update: I've read 53 out of 536 pages.

The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

This main course is definitely going to require a lighter side dish. 

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 536 pages.

The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco

Attempting to start this on a day when I'm snowed in with my children may be one of the more questionable choices I've made.

A Vision of Light (Margaret of Ashbury #1) - Judith Merkle Riley

A Vision of Light - Judith Merkle Riley

Margaret of Ashbury's introductory tale is included on The Idiot's Guide to Reading's  historical fiction. One of my personal challenges for this year is to read as many books as possible from this list. One down. Fifty-nine more to go. Hopefully the other ones are a little better. 

 

This was a perfectly fine book. It wasn't anything spectacular or life changing. It was an excellent look at women's lives in medieval England if nothing else. Margaret was immensely likable even if she was incredibly naive. She reminded me of Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter. Everything is more or less falling apart around her but she holds fast to her beliefs and maintains that eventually everything will be alright.

 

Let's home Margaret's attitude is enough to get her through the next part of her story. She's going to need it. I haven't been that surprised by a plot twist in a long time. 

 

Read 2/10/2020 - 2/12/2020

Book 14 of 75

A Vision of Light (Margaret of Ashbury #1) - Judith Merkle Riley

A Vision of Light - Judith Merkle Riley

Since I've set a personal goal of working through The Idiot's Guide to Reading  - Historical Fiction list, I should probably stop fooling around and actually read some of the books. I'm also doing an around the world challenge which requires I read books from different countries and different time periods. Needless to say, this book checks off a lot of boxes. 

 

So far I'm not sure why this book was listed as a must read for the genre. By all accounts it seems to be an accurate description of the times. The atmosphere is intriguing. I am enjoying Margaret's story. However, as of right now, I can't stand Brother Gregory. I want him to fall off a horse. He is just such a horrid little man. He's also a huge hypocrite. We know this because he's been told so by several different people. 

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women #1) - Evie Dunmore

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 1) - Evie Dunmore

My last two reads have been pretty intense and dramatic. I needed a pallet cleanser. I picked up Bringing Down the Duke a few weeks ago at the library. I was drawn to the cover. The blurbs and reviews promised me a light, comedic romp through the Victorian suffrage movement. That should have told me everything I needed to know. Is there really anything comical about women's rights? Aside from the fact that it's 2020 and we still have to march? 

 

I'm not a romance fan. I have nothing against the writers or the readers, it just isn't something that entertains me personally. This book reminded me of the books my grandma use to read "for the story". She swore up and down she skipped over the smut parts. Well if grandma would have been reading this book, she would have left a lot of pages unread. 

 

I was also reminded of Hallmark movies. However, as my bestie pointed out after I made her read one particularly scandalous scene, it was more likely you'd see this movie on Lifetime, not Hallmark.While I haven't seen the amount of Hallmark movies my mother-in-law has seen, I just assume there's always a scene where someone professes their love either in a gazebo or in the middle of the rain. This book had one of those cliches'. 

 

The question I really needed to ask myself when I got to the end of this book, was "Did it lighten the mood?" Yes and no. While the book didn't really delve too deep into the suffrage movement, the reader is presented with a protagonist who is intelligent and likable. She wasn't just another pretty face. Her decisions didn't make me want to bang my head against a wall. The typical handsome, brooding male protagonist was a little hard to swallow. He did everything you expect his kind of character to do. It was a little boring.

 

My favorite part? The female supporting cast. I loved Miss Archer's circle of friends. They were warm and inviting. They never criticized Miss Archer, even when she thought she deserved it. They weren't catty. They actually kind of made me want to go out and find a knitting circle. Except I don't know how to knit. I don't have the patience for it.

 

 To wrap things up, if you are looking for a quick and easy read, this book could be a perfect fit. It's one of those vacation reads that doesn't really require an immense amount of focus and dedication. Will I seek out any of the next books in this series? Possibly. It will all depend on how I am feeling at a particular moment in time. 

 

 

Read 2/8/2020 - 2/9/2020

Book 13 of 75 in 2020

 

 

Ribbons of Scarlet by Kate Quinn, Stephanie Dray, Laura Kamoie, Sophie Perinot, Heather Webb, and E. Knight

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather  Webb, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, Laura Croghan Kamoie

I don't know what more I can say about this book.

 

Unfortunately poignant is the best way I can think of to describe it. We love to think about how far society has come since the beginning of the French Revolution in 1786. The sad reality is we haven't. I found myself relating to these women on so many levels. Many of the things the wanted, like equality, are still mythical ideas. I wonder how disappointed the Sophies, Louises, and Paulines of the world would be today if they saw how long it has taken for us to make the little progress we have made. 

 

 

I can't recommend this book enough. So much of the fiction that exists on the French Revolution is typically told from a royal or aristocratic point of view. It was refreshing to see the French Revolution evolve from various points of view. 

 

Read 2/4/2020 - 2/7/2020

Book 12 of 75 for 2020

Ribbons of Scarlet - Part 6: The Beauty

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather  Webb, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, Laura Croghan Kamoie

Like Arianna Grande, I have no more tears left to cry. I'm done. Finished. A massive book hangover is my fate.

 

If you follow me on Goodreads, you'll notice I've been quoting this book left and right since I started it. My final quote comes from part six which is the story of Emilie who we first meet as a child in part one and come to again when she is a grown woman in part six. 

 

"La more meme est une faveur,

Puisque la tombeau nous rassemble."

 

Even death is a favor,

since the tomb brings us together."

 

Mic drop.

 

 

Ribbons of Scarlet - Part 5: The Assassin

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather  Webb, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, Laura Croghan Kamoie

Part four had me ugly crying. Part five has me in a puddle on the floor. E. Knight's contribution is the best of the bunch so far. I've not read any full length novels by E. Knight before, but they are all going to find their way on to my tbr after this.

 

Part five is different from the stories that have come before. Each of the previous stories was one woman's story of the Revolution. In part five, we are re-introduced to two women who we have briefly met before. 

 

Charlotte Corday is known to history as the woman who murdered Jean-Paul Marat. Marat was a man who makes TMZ look like honest journalism. E. Knight's Charlotte reminded me of the second coming of Joan of Arc. That's not a bad thing. In fact it was a brilliant thing. It provided a sharp contrast to the second character we see in Knight's story. 

 

The reader has seen Pauline pop up in most of the previous stories. She is a Paris citizen who runs a chocolate shop and leads the women's revolution. Pauline starts the story as an angry, bitter woman who just wants rights for woman. I immediately thought of a less Disney version of Mrs. Banks from Mary Poppins. I can just see Pauline marching around Paris in her red bonnet and cockade screaming "We adore men individually but we agree that as a group, they're rather stupid." 

 

The most amazing thing about this story was Pauline. Admittedly, I hated her when the story started. I wanted her to meet some sort of savage end (I'm terrible). Then something amazing happened. A revelation during a revolution. Knight managed to develop and flesh out a character better over the course of 96 pages than most authors manage over the course of 500. I was sad to see Pauline's story end. 

Ribbons of Scarlet - Part 4: The Politician

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather  Webb, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, Laura Croghan Kamoie

Nobody reduces me to tears quite like Kate Quinn. Kate Quinn is the reason a group of high school seniors are staring at me like I have completely and utterly lost my mind. In my defense, most of them have been staring at me like that all week. 

 

 

Manon Roland.If she lived today instead of in 18th Century France, she would be the Senator and her husband the one running the house. Through Manon, Quinn manages to capture the absolute savagery that was the French Revolution. We see the tragic end of Louis XVI and the rise of Robespierre. Quinn guides us to the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the French people turning on themselves. It's a gut wrenching story. The tension and the fear. I don't know how to adequately describe how Quinn works her magic. The only way it can be experienced is by reading it.

 

In related news, my TBR grows every time I finish a story. This time, I've added Manon's own words. 

Ribbons of Scarlet - Part 3: The Princess

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather  Webb, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, Laura Croghan Kamoie

The third story in Ribbons of Scarlet is told to us by Sophie Perinot. Here we are told the story of the royal family's attempted escape from Paris by the Princess Elisabeth, sister to Louis XVI.

 

This story is not the longest in the book but it definitely felt like it. I loved Perinot's previous full lengths works which gave me fairly high expectations for this story. Here's the problem- No matter what I read about the French Revolution, if Louis XVI is one of the primary characters, I always want to pull my hair out and beat my head against a hard surface. The man is just such a moron. Maybe moron is too harsh and a bit unfair. However, it cannot be denied that Louis was a man who made a lot of bad choices. Bad choices that a lot of other people had to suffer for. 

 

Perinot's Elisabeth was at times difficult to feel sorry for. She was arrogant but loyal to a fault. She was frustrated. Frustrated with her brother. Frustrated with France. You could feel this oozing from the pages. At times I really just wanted her to break character and shake Louis until he realized just how stupid he was being. Above all of these things Elisabeth was brave. She stared down mobs of angry people who had no reason to hate her other than where she was born and who her parents were. In short, Elisabeth is a complicated character. As morbid as it might sound, I would be interested in seeing how Perinot would write out Elisabeth's tragic end. 

Ribbons of Scarlet - Part 2: The Revolutionary

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather  Webb, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, Laura Croghan Kamoie

Part two of our story on the French Revolution gives us the story of Louise written by Heather Webb. This story was a vast improvement on Dray's story. as a result, I've now added everything Webb has written to my TBR. 

 

The reader is briefly introduced to Louise in Sophie's story. Louise is a fruit cart vendor who is being taught to read by Sophie at the end of part one. I know I'm only on part two but I love the pov change that extends the story versus a pov change that tells the same story. 

 

Louise puts the reader front and center for events like the storming of the Bastille and the women's march on Versailles. Webb's descriptions make the reader feel like they have been swallowed up by the mob and planted right in the middle of the all the action. It's a shame we are only allowed a short story. I would easily devour an entire book dedicated to Louise, Queen of the Markets. 

Ribbons of Scarlet - Part 1: The Philospher

Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution - Heather  Webb, Sophie Perinot, Stephanie Dray, Kate Quinn, Eliza Knight, Laura Croghan Kamoie

As this is a book of short stories, each focusing on one woman's perspective during the French Revolution, it only makes sense that I give each story its own review. 

 

The first story, The Philospher by Stephanie Dray, tells us of Sophie. Mademoiselle de Grouchy (seems like an unfortunate name), is a woke woman. Let me squirrel out here for a minute. I cringed writing that sentence. I don't like the term "woke woman". It's not that I don't like what it stands for or that I disagree with the "need" for woke women, there's just something about the way it sounds that doesn't work for me. The only reason I use it here to describe Sophie is that I get the impression that's how Dray would prefer for her readers to refer to Sophie. She alludes to it more than once throughout the story. I found it problematic. 

 

I'm not suggesting that well educated women with a desire for equality and justice for every human didn't exist in France pre-Revolution. As a matter of fact, if you look into some of the characters in and around Paris at the time, you will find that salons were littered with women who believed all humans deserved equal treatment no matter social status or gender. It was just the manner in which Dray presented Sophie that I had a problem with. The story was one huge anachronism (Spell check is letting me get away with that word.) I couldn't tell if I was reading about 18th Century France or something going on in my own back yard (We can discuss the parallels somewhere else. I will admit there are several. My point is, all of these stories are suppose to be historical.Yes, Sophie is a modern woman but she's a modern woman in 18th Century France.) She's very one dimensional. Everything should be one very specific way and that's all there is too it. Sophie needs to take off the blinders. The book's blurb suggests that this story is not the last we will see of Sophie. Maybe as the stories continue, Sophie will flesh out a little better in the hands of a different writer. 

 

I couldn't recall if I had read any of Dray's work before. I do recall her being the subject of a bit of controversy surrounding her book on Thomas Jefferson's daughter, Patsy. Stephanie Dray's 50 shades of Jefferson/Sally Hemings Dray actually ties part of the novel into her story here. Anyway, I had to go back and check enormous read pile to see if I had read any of Dray's work prior to this. It turns out I had. Clearly it was memorable. The only thing my review of the previous work says is that I have no desire to read anything else by this author. Oops. 

 

Up next, The Revolutionary by Heather Webb. 

 

 

Seven for a Secret (Timothy Wilde #2) - Lyndsay Faye

Seven for a Secret - Lyndsay Faye

I'm devastated that this next book is the last book featuring Timothy Wilde and his tales of the first police force in 1840s New York City. Timothy Wilde and his brother, Valentine, are quickly making their way up my list of favorite characters. 

 

"I'd prefer you ravenously jealous...because if you can't be jealous once at least, you can never love me. Can you? You could love me on paper, perhaps. From an ocean's distance. In theory. With a quill in your hand, meditating on the breadcrumb-teakettle-washboard little details of my life in New York. None of it would be enough. I can live as a mere idea to you. But minute of your every hour and if you don't want the same of me, in the flesh, then I can't need you any longer and live as I should. So I'll allow myself to think that if you never come back, I'll survive it." 

 

Letter from Timothy to Mercy.

 

After reading it again, I realize that passage sounds a little stalker-ish. I promise that within the context of the novel it's beautiful. Like most of this book. It's beautiful and gritty all at the same time. 

 

Read 1/31/2020 - 2/4/2020

Reading progress update: I've read 204 out of 464 pages.

Seven for a Secret - Lyndsay Faye

"This is the way I understand folk who accept a leg up from time to time: it isn't that we aren't industrious, or that we expect charity we don't deserve. It's mainly that human creatures want to live, and-when we can't come by the flour, or heat in the silvery frosts-we fight.....

Most Bible-fearing benevolent types figure that poverty is a sign of moral weakness and disease evidence of God's thorough dislike for your person. And best not to cross God, after all, not when He handpicks the wicked meant to writhe for their sins."

 

 

 

 

Lyndsay Faye's writing is something else. I'm trying my best to proceed slowly with these books because I know there's nothing left when I'm done. 

 

 

Death on Delos (Athenian Mysteries #7) - Gary Colby

Death on Delos (An Athenian Mystery) - Gary Corby

While the book was still enjoyable, it was the weakest of the series. Everything felt rushed. 

 

And don't even get me started on the pregnant lady. Just don't

 

Read 1/28/2020 - 1/30/2020

Currently reading

The Name of the Rose
Umberto Eco
Progress: 142/536 pages