Reading Room Blog
Every year the holidays start sooner and sooner with advertising bombarding us about all the great deals and discount gifts, but you don’t have to plan a big shopping trip to spoil your loved ones. Handmade gifts can be more fun, exciting, and thoughtful to give than the newest gadgets and gizmos.
When you first approach reading Shakespeare, it can be a daunting experience. Even though I grew up reading books with similar language, I still found Shakespeare difficult unless I had a teacher holding my hand every step of the way. I could just about understand the basic plot line and even some of the language, but many of the jokes, the history, and the language went over my head.
Over the years, I have found several things helpful in reading Shakespeare’s plays. With these aids, I am able to enjoy Shakespeare so much more than before as well as understand the plays at a deeper level.
In Elizabeth Camden’s Against the Tide, a self-made, 19th-century woman meets an arrogant, handsome man who draws her into a dangerous scheme.
I’ve never really liked horses. The way they side-step with those ginormous, clippy-cloppy hooves, bare those big, big teeth, and roll those huge eyes until the whites show all the way around? Very scary! Yes, they are beautiful, and yes, their shiny coats are like stroking silk. But still. Horses. <shudder>
My fear of horses probably is the reason that I never really wanted to read Westerns. But I quite often looked at Westerns. So many great covers! So many sub-genres! I read Doc, by Mary Doria Russell. And then Epitaph, the sequel. I wanted more, more, more!
I still don’t really like horses, but I have discovered that I really like Westerns! Check out some favorites in my Most-Wanted list.
In Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, Jun Do works for the government of “the most glorious nation on earth” as a professional kidnapper. This isn’t a science fiction dystopia, but rather it is a raw, searing novel concerning one man’s life under a regime that crushes its citizens, body and soul.
Jun Do doesn’t know his real name. Like his fellow orphans, his was chosen from a list of North Korean war heroes. There is decency to Jun Do, even as he surmounts a horrific childhood only to realize that he (and everyone else) exists primarily for their usefulness to the state. But Jun Do has ambitions.
A dream to get out of the drudgery of domestic service led Tess to take a leap of faith and board the H.M.S. Titanic. She knew she had more to offer the world than cleaning her mistress’ dirty linen, so when the beautiful dress designer Lady Duff Gordon agrees to take her on as a personal assistant,Tess is eager to become part of another, more glamorous life. In Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker, Tess’ voyage veers from Cinderella story to disaster. Its aftermath will test her loyalties and love for two very different men.
What would Jane Austen’s delicate world look like from the point of view of the young woman who launders the family’s linen? Life at Longbourn can be as raw as Sarah the housemaid’s hands as she lugs buckets of water across an icy courtyard. It’s not that the Bennet family isn’t well-liked by their servants. It’s simply that there’s a world of difference between what goes on above and below stairs, as Jo Baker deftly shows in her award-winning novel.
In Georgette Heyer’s The Unfinished Clue, it becomes evident that whilst some marriages end happily, others end in murder. Sir Arthur Billington-Smith was dead, and he probably deserved it. He had been chuffing and harrumphing at his male guests, leering--and perhaps a bit more--at the female ones, all the while being quite revolting to his wife.
Aren’t English country house parties entertaining? Well, they are when penned by a master craftsman such as Georgette Heyer. Her thoroughly modern (for the early twentieth century) heroine Dinah, sister to the beleaguered soon-to-be widow, has a clever wit and no intention whatsoever of being set down by her blowhard brother-in-law.
It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.