|Edward Burne-Jones -- Portrait of Katie Lewis|
"One must always be careful of books and what is inside them,
for words have the power to change us."
--Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel
It felt strange to be standing in a place where at some point -- hundreds or thousands of years ago -- there had been an intense fire and great heat. That was gone now, along with any hope of understanding what had caused it. All that remained was an unpleasant olfactory echo. And us, stuck, with no way out.The suspense mounts slowly in this one, but I thought it was a fun escapist adventure. But then, I've always liked survival stories that take place in mysterious caves. And you'll never guess what's in this one! Nolan is a fun character who doesn't take himself too seriously but is a surprisingly good person to have around in an emergency. I liked him and his crew (even though I thought Ken used the f-word a little too much.) There are some good twists along the way as they explore the cave, and some tense and suspenseful moments as they try to find a way back out. I liked Rutger's writing, though I did think the ending was a bit fantastic and out-there. Still, The Anomaly is a pretty entertaining read. (And it'd make a great Syfy movie.)
Gumiho -- n. an immortal nine-tailed female fox who can take the shape of a human woman, and who survives by consuming the gi, or energy, of men.
"If I stop absorbing gi for a hundred days, I'll die. I trade human energy for my life and for immortality."Jihoon, on the other hand, is a typical Korean teenager. He prefers video games to school and usually manages to charm his way out of trouble with his boyish grin. He stumbles upon Miyoung one night in the woods just after she's fed. She ends up saving him from a dokkaebi, a powerful goblin, losing her fox bead in the process (that's the bead that holds her gumiho soul). It's a problem. Jihoon now knows her secret, and that puts both of them in danger because the gumiho have many enemies. But even though Miyoung tells Jihoon to leave her alone, he persists in trying to be her friend. Because he can't seem to forget her.
"It had been a long week of thinking of Miyoung. Of worrying about her. Of remembering that night in the rain. That night ... he'd been tempted to kiss her. He'd wanted to see if she'd taste like rain. He suspected it was more likely she'd taste like lightning."Melody suggested we read this book for our next buddy read and I'm so glad she did! I loved the fantasy part of it that revolves around the Korean folklore of the gumiho, and the dokkaebi, and the shamans and their power; and I loved the 'teen-ness' of Jihoon's friendship and growing feelings for Miyoung, and her guardedness against getting involved with him...or any human. Jihoon's loving relationship with his aging grandmother was another favorite part. Miyoung's mother, Yena, on the other hand, kind of scared me. The modern-day Seoul backdrop, with its distinctive culture, added really nice flavor to the entire story. This fun YA novel has humor and magic and suspense, along with death and loss, forgiveness and love.
"...and the problem of her future lay heavy upon her sons and daughters. Of course, she would not question the wisdom of any arrangements they might choose to make. Mother had no will of her own; all her life long, gracious and gentle, she had been wholly submissive--an appendage....That she might have ideas which she kept to herself never entered into their estimate. They anticipated no trouble with their mother."But Lady Slane surprises her children. Instead of dutifully accepting their plans for her, Lady Slane sells her house, moves to Hampstead, forbids her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to come visit her, and makes friends with a few eccentrics. Lady Slane's small rebellions, and her children's indignant reactions to them, made me smile. Only her youngest daughter, Edith, cheers her on. I found myself cheering her on, too. This is how Lady Slane defends her newfound freedom to her children:
"If one is not to please oneself in old age, when is one to please oneself? There is so little time left."Written in 1931, All Passion Spent is one of those quiet, character-driven novels that is contemplative and melancholy at times, and unexpectedly humorous at others. Some of Lady Slane's reminiscences about her younger self, and the dreams she had of being an artist that she gave up when she married, made me a little sad. But I was glad she managed to steal a little happiness for herself at the end of her life.
"How oddly it had come about, that the whole of her life should have fallen away from her--her activities, her children, and Henry--and should have been so completely replaced in this little interlude before the end by a new existence so satisfyingly populated! 'Perhaps,' she said aloud, 'one always gets what one wants in the end.'"Only 167 pages long, this is a charming little read. I admired Sackville-West's writing except for one thing: her overly long paragraphs. Many were a page and a half long! And that did slow down the narrative for me. Overall, though, I liked this one. It's a little bittersweet and sad, but not depressing. And I liked the characters. Best of all? It fills my Classic By a Woman Author category in Karen's Back to the Classics Reading Challenge.
"...a girl of about nineteen, with beautiful fair hair, kind blue eyes and long curls. ... Poor little fair-haired girl! Did I imagine for one moment on that serenest of May nights, that she would later become the heroine of my troubled novel?"That's when things change, with a sudden marriage, an adulterous affair (or two), and murder. There's even a plot twist at the end. Disenchantment, with life, with love, and even with one's self, seems to be the main theme of this novel. Chekhov writes well, but overall, this is a pretty depressing story. And none of the characters are very likable. Needless to say, this one won't make my favorite reads of 2019 list. But it does count as my Classic in Translation for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge which makes me happy.
"I had read enough of our history to know that if female succession was not forbidden in Castile as it was in Aragon, no one actually believed a woman capable of ruling. The few who succeeded had encountered relentless opposition, sacrificing everything to retain their tenuous power. In the end, none had lived a happy life; all had paid a price for the right to call themselves queen. Was this what God required of me?"What I quickly discovered while reading this book is how little I know about Spain's colorful history. And all I really knew about Isabella of Castile is that she was the queen who supported Christopher Columbus's journey to America. But she was so much more than that.