Category Archives: Literature

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 Swag: 6 Etsy Finds Inspired By George Orwell’s 1984

Today we celebrate the anniversary of George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, 1984, which was published on this day in 1949. 1984 has been very much in the public eye lately, becoming a much-referenced part of our political discourse and enjoying a surge in readership and book sales. Somehow I made it into my 40’s without ever picking up an Orwell book, an omission in my reading life that seemed more and more glaring as time went by, so I decided to spend a weekend reading both 1984 and Animal Farm. I try very hard to not discuss politics on social media but I have to admit that I emerged from my own, personal Orwellian weekend feeling both awed and terrified.

So in honor of the day, I went in search of the best Etsy finds for book lovers inspired by George Orwell’s 1984 and here’s what I found.

What do you think, book lovers? See something you love? Did I miss your favorite piece of 1984 swag? Let me know in the comments! I’d also love to hear what books / authors / genres you would like me to feature in a future “Book Swag” blog post.

Until next time, take care and happy reading!

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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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Shakespeare Summer

Shakespeare Summer

It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in NY, just what you want for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer! I’ve got Shakespeare on my mind – particularly this quote from Sonnet 18, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou are more lovely and more temperate.” While it’s hard to believe that there’s anything more lovely than this summer’s day, I’ve always loved that quote and decided that the time had come to do a Shakespeare – inspired outfit for all my fellow poetry lovers. I started with a lovely, lacy top for a touch of summer romance and added a pair of floral embellished jeans and lace sandals. Then I added a beautiful Shakespeare Quote Necklace from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop for just a touch of Shakespeare – chic style.  All together, this lovely summer outfit is perfect for sunny, summer days spent flirting with someone special or relaxing in the summer sunshine with a book of your favorite poems.

 

Shakespeare Summer

 

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Don’t forget that my Shakespeare Sonnet Necklace (and all my handmade bookish pendants) are on sale this weekend. The sale ends at midnight tomorrow so don’t miss out! Click here to shop my Memorial Day Sale.  You can also:

Thanks for visiting, book lovers! I hope you are having a great holiday weekend. Until next time, take care and happy reading!!

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Book Review – Miranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey

Miranda and CalibanMiranda and Caliban by Jacqueline Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now that Memorial Day weekend is finally here, book lovers everywhere are looking for their next summer read and I recommend Jacqueline Carey’s Miranda and Caliban. An interesting read for Shakespeare fans, Jacqueline Carey’s Miranda and Caliban, tells the back-story behind William Shakespeare’s Tempest. While Carey’s re-telling of the tale gives the ending a much more bittersweet, conflicted resolution, I really enjoyed her attempts to flesh out Miranda and Caliban, taking them from Prospero’s pawn and slave to independent characters with feelings and motivations of their own. All in all, Miranda and Caliban is a great summer read for theatre lovers looking for a good beach book.

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Have you read Miranda and Caliban? I’d love to hear what you thought of the book. Let’s chat in the comments below!

For more Shakespeare – inspired summer fun, check out this summer outfit inspired by Miranda from The Tempest. Featuring a handmade Tempest pendant from the C. S. Literary Jewelry Etsy shop and crochet barefoot sandals, this outfit is perfect for dreaming on the beach or soaking up some sun while re-reading your favorite Shakespeare plays.

 

Miranda

 

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Happy reading, book lovers, and have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend!!!!

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Bookish Summer Style for Book Lovers

Bookish Summer Style for Book Lovers

C. S. Literary Jewelry Memorial Day Sale

 

With the Memorial Day weekend just days away, I am looking forward to a three-day weekend of fun, sun, and lots of extra reading time. I am also celebrating the unofficial start of summer with a sale on my bookish pendants. These handmade pendants are a great way to combine your summer style with your summer reading list and to show off your love of books and literature while on vacation, heading to the beach, or enjoying the summer sunshine. Don’t believe me? Check out these fun summer outfits featuring handmade pendants inspired by The Great Gatsby and Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

Boat Party at Gatsby's
Under the Sea

 

 

What do you think, book lovers? What books and poem says “summer fun” to you? Let me know in the comments.

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Sherlock Chic

Good morning book lovers. Today I am celebrating Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday with a Sherlock – chic outfit inspired by the famous literary detective, Sherlock Holmes. Featuring one of my handmade Sherlock Holmes Friendship Rings and a gorgeous Sherlock Holmes Book Purse by Novel Creations, this Sherlock Holmes outfit is a great tribute to this iconic character and a wonderful way to express your bibliophile style.

Sherlocked

 

Like what you see and want to see more? Elementary, my dear reader!

Until next time, take care and happy reading!

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Book Review – Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

Dear Mr. KnightleyDear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dear book lovers, I have to admit that I’ve been stressed lately, and with the state of the world as it is, I have been indulging in more than a little literary escapism. It’s not unusual to hear book lovers talk about books as a safe place they go to whenever they are upset or in trouble but the main character of Dear Mr. Knightley, Samantha, takes this concept to an extreme. After a traumatizing past and years in the foster care system, Samantha has trouble relating to people and has distanced herself from her own emotions. She copes with this by emotionally retreating behind the characters of the books she loves and often using their words instead of her own to express herself. But all that gets challenged when Sam gets a grant to go to grad school. There are two conditions of the grant. The first is that she study journalism instead of English lit, forcing Samantha out of her comfort zone and out into the real world. The second is that she write letters to “Mr. Knightley,” the anonymous benefactor who is funding the grant, telling him about her experiences at school. The name, taken from the hero of Jane Austen’s Emma, has comforting associations to Sam and she decides to take the letters, which are never returned or answered, as an outlet for all the thoughts and feelings she has trouble expressing anywhere else as she struggles to break through the walls she has built around herself and begin to live as the main character in her own story.

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Of all the books I’ve been reading lately, I had the most fun reading Dear Mr. Knightley. While the idea of a tough-shelled former foster kid talking almost exclusively in adapted Jane Austen quotes took me a little while to adapt to, Sam’s story was an interesting look at the strengths (and limitations) of living inside your favorite books. But to be honest my favorite part of Dear Mr. Knightley, was how much I got into the story. I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I’ve yelled out-loud at a book but that’s how invested I got in this one. If you are looking for a touch of literary escapism with lots of heart, I definitely recommend Dear Mr. Knightley.

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P. S. Want your own Mr. Knightley? Check out this sweet heart necklace inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma or click here to see more Jane Austen jewelry for book lovers.

 

Until next time, book lovers, take care and happy reading!!

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