This blog is basically about how good books are nice and bad books are the pits. And then I get grumpy.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Miep Gies!

Tomorrow is Miep Gies's 100th birthday. Gies helped hide Anne Frank and the others in the Secret Annex during WWII and has, by the accounts I've read, always remained loyal and modest about it. I find her so courageous and principled, very admirable. And that this member of that circle of friends is still here today is wonderful and amazing. So here's a big shout out to Miep Gies:

Happy Birthday!!!

Check this out :-) And some advice...

I hope you had a chance to read my Q&A with Lost for Words author, Lorelei Mathias. But I forgot to put something in and I'm a little ashamed of myself and - OUCH! (Note to the wise: If you forget to do something and, thus, the whole 'slapping yourself on the hand' thing comes to mind, DON'T actually do it! It hurts.)

So I'm popping in today and just wanted to let you know that Lorelei has a really fun site of her own where you can read about her books, her articles and play videos! Here's a link. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer - A review

Alas, blood is not thicker than water, after all. At least this seems to be the case for Charity Steane, the unfortunate young woman whose father is dead and who has been thrust into the care of her mean relatives. Unable to bear her life with the Bugles, she runs away and is rescued en route to London by Viscount Desford who takes it upon himself to find a better life for Cherry, as she likes to be called.

Georgette Heyer's novel, the second that I've read, is light and frothy. At times it gets a bit longwinded but you can always count on a character to clarify a situation for you and that can be greatly appreciated, as anyone knows who reads books that simply don't make their plots clear. Now who's that? Why's he there, not in London? How'd she get out of that scrape? Characters explain themselves which can be either tedious or helpful, depending on the reader's temperament. Consequently, you could shave off a great deal of this novel and retain the whole plot and even most of the characterization (which, by the way, is done very well.)

There's no real way to emphasize how light this novel is; it's lighter than air or even helium. And it's without that shoe and shopping mania, that man-crazy female theme that so many of today's 'chick-lit' novels aspire to. Say you're drinking champagne. This is the bubble that tickles your nose. Non-alcoholic.

And the characters are loveable, particularly Cherry and Desford and, later, Hetta and Simon. Reading Georgette Heyer's work astutely, the reader realizes that it wouldn't be all fun and games living in Regency England, despite the frothiness of the tales. This becomes obvious when you consider lives from the minor characters' viewpoints, or at least when you consider how vulnerable they are to those on whom they rely. If it's Desford and Hetta being relied on, no problem. The major characters that populate this novel are loveable for a reason, not least of which is their decency.

So why is it that water is thicker than blood? I won't tell you. Why would I want to spoil it?

Thanks to Danielle at Sourcebooks for this complimentary review copy.

Yea! A Q&A! - Lorelei Mathias

Lorelei Mathias is the author of two novels Step on It, Cupid and Lost for Words. After reading the lovely Lost for Words, a romantic tale of a slush pile reader, her literary discovery and her love-life, I emailed Ms. Mathias with a question and was very pleased to receive her thoughtful response. And I am so pleased now, as well, to present this Q&A, made possible through the magic of email (as were my previous Q&As). If you're looking for a frothy, romantic read for Valentine's Day, the kind that doesn't insult sensibilities or intelligence, Lost for Words may be for you. (Meanwhile, I'm going to look forward to Step on It, Cupid!) Thanks so much to Ms. Mathias for her thoughtful answers! Reader, enjoy!

GBBS: If you could, which literary fictional character would you date?

LM: Septimus Hodge in 'Arcadia' by Tom Stoppard. It's a play, but he's just the most dashing, intellectual hero of all in my opinion. He's classic Byronic hero in looks, and genius in mind. Oh and he's a great dancer too - he's got it all!

GBBS: What is the one book you'd take to a deserted island?

LM: War and Peace. It's so long, so I’d be getting the most out of my one and only book. And it's also one I've not yet got round to reading, but always wanted to!

GBBS: What's your preferred method of book-buying -- internet or old-fashioned bookstores?

LM: I'm a total luddite, so I'd say old-fashioned book stores all the way. There's so much more magic in browsing through old shelves and being surrounded by them than just staring at a screen! My favourite bookshop in the world is 'Shakespeare and Co' in Paris - it's wonderfully chaotic and romantic and dusty...

GBBS: Which writer is so great that it's hard to tear yourself away from his/her writing so you can get stuff done?

LM: Ian McEwan

GBBS: Lost for Words possesses a big sense of fun while declining to stoop to the questionable language and situations of so much chick-lit. Is this a reflection of your preferred brand of writing?

LM: I guess so - I don’t actually read that much chick-lit per se but I do know that the genre often gets slated for being trashy. I don’t know if I succeed in this but I do try to write books that are entertaining but also make you think – so it’s not just literary popcorn, but perhaps chick-lit with a brain… Even though all my books are romantic at heart, I also try and make them books about ideas too, and a bit more nourishing in some way (!). In both my novels there is usually an intellectual pursuit running along side the romantic strand. In Step on It, Cupid Amelie has an ad campaign to come up with, so it’s as much a journey of ideas as it is romantic. Similarly, in my latest, Lost for Words, Daisy is drowning in a slush-pile and is helping a struggling author get published. I’m told my readers enjoy learning about both these industries, (a number of fans have written to tell me they now want to work in advertising or publishing as a result, which is sweet!) So yeah, I like to hope that my readers get more than just escapist buzz from my books, and they’re not (entirely) brain dead when they turn the last page!

GBBS: Are you writing anything new? Any possible sneak-peaks, by chance?

LM: Yes, I've got two ideas on the go at the moment. One's a non-fiction piece but is on a backburner while I focus on the novel. The novel has a much more complex plot than my last two so it's taking a lot longer to do! It's all about a group of friends joined together by weirdly similar circumstances - in some ways it's also a modern spin on John Hughes' classic 80's movie The Breakfast Club. I can't say much more about it than that though for now!

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