Category Archives: Books

Book Review – A House Among The Trees by Julia Glass

A House Among the TreesA House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After a run of disappointing reads, it was a delight to discover A House Among The Trees by Julia Glass. The book centers on the recently deceased children’s book author and artist, Mort Lear, and the various characters who are left to pick up the pieces after he dies, including his long-time assistant, an actor who will be playing Mort in an upcoming bio-pic, the man who unwittingly inspired the character that made Mort famous, and the museum curator who is desperate to secure Mort’s papers and drawings for her museum. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into with this book, particularly themes of honoring the people we lose, (their stories and their legacies), of how and why people distance themselves from each other and how easy it is to get trapped – even by things that originally seemed positive. But what I really loved the most about A House Among The Trees was the author’s skill at creating her central character. Glass used the real-life children’s author, Maurice Sendak as the foundation for Mort, grafting layers of fiction onto elements lifted directly from Sendak’s life and using Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are, as inspiration for the fictional story book that rocketed Mort to fame and fortune. In the hands of a lesser author, this could have backfired badly, but Glass manages to use just enough of the real author to make Mort feel like a real (and beloved) part of her readers’ childhood and to infuse Mort’s book with the same sort of menace and wonder that was often found in Sendak’s work. This works well to draw the reader into the story, giving them a real emotional connection to Mort and making them feel invested in his story and legacy.

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A Jane Austen Summer

Flirty, summer style meets your favorite Jane Austen novel with this lovely book lovers outfit! Featuring a hand-crafted Pride and Prejudice bangle bracelet from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop and a gorgeous Jane Austen book purse by Novel Creationsthis beautiful Jane Austen outfit is perfect for a wedding at Pemberley or a romantic date with your own, personal Mr. Darcy.

 

A Jane Austen Summer

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Celebrating 20 Years of Harry Potter

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. And so to celebrate the day that the world met Harry Potter and the 20 years of magic that has followed, here is a fun outfit for Harry Potter fans inspired by the “Boy Who Lived.” I wanted to create a magical, but stylish tribute to one of my favorite fandoms, so I started with a bold, Gryffindor red and gold color scheme and added a bunch of fun Harry Potter accessories, including a lightning bolt necklace, a golden snitch bracelet, and a gorgeous Harry Potter book purse from the Novel Creations Etsy shop that was inspired by the book that started it all! Enjoy!

 

Harry Potter

 

What do you think, book lovers? Can you believe that Harry Potter came out 20 years ago?!! I sure can’t! But I do want to wish a very happy anniversary to Harry Potter and send a very big thank you to J.K. Rowling for 20 years of magic!

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Book Review: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Happy Friday, book lovers! Looking for your next read? Check out my book review of Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Enchanted April!

The Enchanted AprilThe Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The ultimate “staycation read” for when you are longing to run away from your everyday existence, The Enchanted April is every bit as enchanting as the title suggests. The story tells of four English women, each struggling with various disappointments and loneliness, who decide to pool their resources and rent a romantic Italian villa for the month of April. Although the woman are very different in background and temperament – which leads to the occasional, (and rather funny), butting of heads – each experiences a sort of renewal during their stay at San Salvatore.

My only complaint about this light but highly enjoyable book is that the resolution of all the character’s problems seemed to come together rather quickly and easily without much more effort than a simple (and much needed attitude change). I guess the moral of the story is that it’s easier to evaluate your life and make changes in a villa on the Mediterranean than back home in your everyday life, and if that’s the case, I am more than willing to try it. I would have also loved an epilogue (or a sequel) that explored how all of these vacation epiphanies and romances continued (or didn’t) once everyone got back home. But other than that, I really enjoyed this fun little novel and highly recommend that you add it to your summer reading list.

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Fourth of July – Gatsby Style

Your Fourth of July fashion meets the “great American novel” with this fun summer outfit featuring a Great Gatsby ring from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop. Perfect for a Fourth of July BBQ or enjoying some extra reading time over the holiday weekend, this fun Fourth of July outfit is a great way to celebrate our nation’s independence AND your love of books and literature.

Fourth of July - Gatsby Style

 

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Help me plan my next literary look! Leave a comment below with ideas and suggestions for my next “Read, White, and Blue” outfit.

 

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Reading in the Secret Garden

What book lover wouldn’t love to find a cozy reading spot inside the Secret Garden?  I know I would and if I ever discover the key to an enchanting, hidden garden, this is the outfit I would want to be wearing. Inspired by Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic children’s book, this outfit combines lots of flirty, floral details and a handmade Secret Garden Key Necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop for a look that’s as sweet and fresh as a morning inside the Secret Garden.

 

 

Mary Lennox

 

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Until next time, take care and happy reading!

 

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Book Review: After Rome by Morgan Llywelyn

After Rome: A Novel of Celtic BritainAfter Rome: A Novel of Celtic Britain by Morgan Llywelyn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Have you ever been disappointed in a new book by one of your favorite authors? That’s the situation I found myself in this week after reading Morgan Llywelyn’s After Rome. I really wanted to love the book as much as I have loved other Morgan Llyweln books but, as hard as I tried, I really couldn’t see After Rome as anything other than a pale and lifeless re-treading of old stories and characters that Llywelyn has used to much better effect in her previous books.

After Rome, particularly suffers in comparison to the book Morgan Llywelyn wrote about the coming of the Romans, Druids. If After Rome was a stronger book, it would have felt like a continuation of the saga that Llywelyn told brilliantly in Druids, but instead the two main characters felt like blander reincarnations of Druid’s two main characters without any of their strength and personality. And while Druids had an engrossing plot that had me emotionally invested from the first page, After Rome never seemed to reach any kind of satisfying payoff with a plot that just trailed off rather than concluded.

I seriously considered not reviewing After Rome because I adore Morgan Llywelyn and her brand of historic fantasy inspired by Celtic / British myths and history. As a long-time Morgan Lywelyn fan, I just think that it would be a shame if a new reader picked up After Rome as their first Llywelyn book and judged her writing by it. So instead, here is what I think. Skip this book and instead pick up one of the many brilliant Morgan Llywelyn books that came before it. I STRONGLY recommend Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish, Finn Mac Cool, Red Branch, Lion of Ireland, Grania: She-King of the Irish Seas, and, as you can probably guess, Druids. You won’t regret it.

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Book Review – In Calabria by Peter Beagle

In CalabriaIn Calabria by Peter S. Beagle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since I was introduced to the Last Unicorn living alone in her lilac woods, Peter Beagle has been one of my all-time favorite authors and my go-to writer for unicorn stories. Over the years, he has revisited the magical beast that made him famous with his book, The Unicorn Sonata, a sequel to The Last Unicorn entitled Two Hearts, and as an editor for The Immortal Unicorn anthologies, (which incidentally contain the best short story ever written, Peter Beagle’s Professor Gottesman and the Indian Rhinoceros). I always enjoy Peter’s work – not just the unicorn books – but since I never completely out-grew that unicorn-crazy phase I went through in my pre-teen years, I was especially looking forward to getting my hands on Peter’s latest unicorn story, In Calabria.

SUMMERY: In Calabria tells the story of a curmudgeonly, old farmer, Bianchi, who lives on a tiny farm in Italy, too far from anything to be a tourist attraction, and spends his days tending to his cows, writing poetry, and basically living a solitary, 19th century life while ignoring the modern world around him. But when a pregnant unicorn chooses to have her baby on his farm, Bianchi’s quiet existence comes to an abrupt end as reporters, tourists, animal rights activists, hunters and gangsters descend on him.

MY THOUGHTS:  First things first, I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but the cover art on the hardcover edition of this book is beyond gorgeous! I have a stunning, leather-bound Easton Press edition of The Last Unicorn and In Calabria can more than hold its own on the bookshelf next to it.

And I really enjoyed what was inside the book as well. One of the great things about Peter Beagle’s work is how he can create a totally new world for each book. If another author kept coming back to unicorns time and time again, I would probably get a little bored after a while, but each of Peter’s unicorn books have such a distinct flavor and tone to them that he never seems to retread the same ground. In this book, there is a focus on time and the reader gets a sense of several different eras converging on each other, with Bianchi’s old-world life (and his inability to let go of the past) colliding with the modern world – both in the form of threatening mobsters and his unexpected, (and rather sweet), romance with the postman’s sister – and then both the old and the modern contrasted with the agelessness of the unicorns. The setting of a small mountain village in Italy, the cover art featuring a classic image from the Unicorn tapestries, and the little smatterings of Italian scattered throughout the dialogue all reinforce the sense of a medieval fable brought into a modern story.
All in all, I really enjoyed In Calabria and highly recommend it for fantasy fans who enjoy timeless stories of magic found in unexpected places.

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