Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Heirs and Graces

Title: Heirs and Graces
Author: Rhys Bowen
Series: Her Royal Spyness, book 7
Genre: Mystery
Published: 2013
Rating: 7.5/10

Review: I think I will go straight to the punchline first. After finishing this book, I found out that I completely missed the previous book in the series: The Twelve Clues of Christmas. And now I feel surprisingly embarrassed about that, despite the fact that each book is pretty stand-alone and I only got one little spoiler out of reading this first. And it's more of a teaser than a spoiler really. So I am pretty sure my next book review will be for the previous book in the series.

In this installment, Lady Georgiana gets invited to Kingsdowne Place where she is to teach manners to an heir of a duke who's fresh off the boat from Australia where the boy was raised as a sheep farmer, unaware of his lordly connections. Of course, there is plenty of family drama surrounding this and very soon also a murder. What we get is essentially a "closed circle mystery" where one of the inhabitants of the house must have done it and the bumbling police will be lead to the killer by polite and tender suggestions from Lady Georgiana.

Overall, it was funny and cozy and enjoyable as intended. I did not see the final twist coming and it was really fun to spend time with this weird crazy family. Looking forward to reading the previous book...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Little Prince

Title: The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Genre: Children's book
Published: 1943

Review: I saw this really pretty edition of The Little Prince in the bookstore and decided to buy it on a whim. This is a really gorgeous edition of the book: printed on thick paper, with lots of really cute colored illustrations, a bookmark, and gold-colored page edges.

I know many people for whom this was a classic when they were growing up, but I've never actually read this book until now. I think I've tried once upon a time, but didn't actually get into it and set it aside back then. Today, I just read the whole thing in one sitting and it was a really pleasant experience.

The plot of the story is that the narrator of the story (who is clearly de Saint-Exupéry himself) gets stranded in Sahara dessert because of a plane crash and meets the little prince who is visiting Earth from another planet.

The prince tells the narrator about the rose he cares about on his own planet, various personages he has met in his travels (each of whom is a personification of a human foible), and what the wise fox has taught him. The message is pretty obvious, but the story is told in a touching way with a lot of whimsy, and gives the impression that the author is laughing lightly at the people criticized. I enjoyed the style -- I wonder whether it's faithful to the original French version.

A few quotes I really liked:
Grown-ups never understand anything on their own, and it's a nuisance for children to have to keep explaining things over and over again.
This is my secret. It's very simple. You can only see clearly with your heart. The most important things are invisible to the eyes. 
It's a sign of a good children's book when you can read it as an adult and enjoy it, though I wonder whether I would like it as much when I was a kid. Either way, I am glad I've read it now.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September Recap

I finished September with three fairly meaty books read and feeling happy about my reading this month. Two of the three books I read were historical fiction which is not something I read all the time, but I enjoyed both of them (though for different reasons).

Here are the books I've read:

  1. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
  2. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
  3. The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault
It's hard for me to pick a favorite book this month since How the Light Gets In was a very satisfying book, concluding the story arch started in the previous novels. On the other hand The Last of the Wine was very fresh in setting and enjoyable as well, so they pretty much tie. It's been a fun month of reading, I hope I won't get derailed next month with all the shows coming back in the fall.

I just keep picking up new shows and catching up with them and then continuing with steady-state watching. This fall, I am watching Castle, Bones, New Girl, Modern Family, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, How I Met Your Mother, White Collar, and Top Chef Masters. Wish me luck.