Readin' and Dreamin'

Reading progress update: I've read 19%.

The Toy Makers - Robert Dinsdale

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern  A lot of people are comparing this to The Night Circus, which is one of the reasons why I picked it up. Completely different story, but has a similar magical feel to it.

Love, Janis

Love, Janis - Laura Joplin I don't really write reviews anymore, but I definitely need to say something here.

First, about the book. I thought that maybe being written by her sister, that this might be a biography with a lot of facts and incidents glossed over to maybe not tarnish Janis' reputation. However, that wasn't the case. It was made clear in the very last chapter that Laura wanted people to know the real person that Janis was, not just the legend. In Love, Janis we saw all of Janis: scars, flaws and all. I appreciated it. While I may not have agreed with everything Janis ever did or said, it didn't diminish the effect she has on me, and how much I love her music. In fact, knowing she was such a flawed person even made me love her more.

I've always had such strong emotions about Janis, even before reading this book. I said to my dad a few days ago, "Whenever I listen to Janis, I am both happy and sad. Happy because she was so amazing, but sad because of 'what else she could have accomplished.'" And I got emotional reading the book, especially the end. Her life didn't have to end like that, she had so much left to give. She didn't want to die, and certainly didn't expect to die that night. She was so excited for the future, and that just makes me sad. Looking at the impact she had on people during such a short career, imagine how much bigger that impact would be if she had gone on making music for decades.

Anyway, this is such a great tribute to an amazing force of nature. If you want to read one book about Janis, let this be the one. There are no rumors and crazy fictionalized stories here, just Janis.

The Other Daughter: A Novel

The Other Daughter: A Novel - Lauren Willig I'm a big fan of Willig's Pink Carnation series, and I'm finding her other books enjoyable, as well. Her writing flows very well, and her characters are engaging and full of surprises.

The Other Daughter looks like another story about the Bright Young Things of the 1920s, all parties and frivolity and such. However, this book, while starting out as so, slowly peels back the layers of the facade, showing the ugliness underneath.

The drama and secrets made The Other Daughter gripping for me, because I wasn't interested in another story set in the 1920s about young people causing trouble with no consequences. I wanted to see what was underneath the shininess.

The Other Daughter is not a long book, and was a speedy read. There is a slight romance, but it's not really what the story is about, which is another thing I was pleased with. It was about a young woman finding herself, and that was good enough.

A Desperate Fortune

A Desperate Fortune - Susanna Kearsley Whenever I'm in a reading slump I can always count on a Susanna Kearsley novel. They're readable, engrossing, and just plain good.

A Desperate Fortune was a bit different than her last few novels. There was no time travel, instead we just went back and forth between two women from two time periods. What connected them was a journal written in code.

The story takes place in France, with Sara in modern time, and Mary in the 18th century. Employed by an author who needs the information from Mary's journal, he employs Sara to go to France and decode it. In the journal and in France, Sara finds more than she bargains for.

The story was a bit slow going, but I didn't seem to mind. I liked the pace and I liked the characters of both Sara and Mary. There was also a lot of intrigue and romance and mysterious side characters.

Fans of Kearsley's other books should also enjoy this one.

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley

Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley - Charlotte Gordon This biography is to Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Shelley what [b:The Brontës|763144|The Brontës|Juliet Barker|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1223636088s/763144.jpg|3360804] is to Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë. Meaning: if there is one book you want to read on the two Marys, this is the one.

One unique thing about the book was the alternate chapters. Instead of talking about both women in a chapter, Gordon instead would dedicate one chapter to each woman at a period in her life. We literally go back and forth between the two.

Wollstonecraft, unfortunately, did not have as long a life as her daughter. Because of this we 'spend more time' with her in order for the chapters to remain even. We're more focused on certain periods of her life, whilst with Mary Shelley it's more spread out.

While a tome, it was very readable. I never felt bored or felt that there was a bunch of information being thrown at me. A great biography about two incredible and revolutionary women.

The Diamond Conspiracy

The Diamond Conspiracy - Pip Ballantine, Tee Morris Another entertaining romp from Books & Braun, unfortunately I wasn't much into it as the previous books.

The intricate plots to this series are impressive, but I'm starting to think they're a bit too much for me. Also a bit much is the excessive descriptions and unnecessary dialog. I found myself skimming more than usual because of them.

There are also a lot of characters that I really just do not care a fig about. At this point, even the main characters of Books & Braun are starting to make me gnash my teeth. The only character I'm invested in is Sophia del Morte, and I really wouldn't mind having a entire book told from her point of view.

I'm starting to think that maybe steampunk just isn't my scene. I can deal with books that have light steampunk, but when the technology becomes too hard to follow, I find myself zoning out. And that's what happened here.

I gave this three starts because I really did like the story, even if I felt it was weighed down with unnecessary things. I probably will read the next book, or at least most of it.

Word Power Made Easy

Word Power Made Easy - Norman  Lewis For an online class.

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization

Pacific Rim: The Official Movie Novelization - Alex Irvine I would only recommend this book to people who have already seen the movie. The book obviously does not capture the epicness of the movie.

I am obsessed with Pacific Rim. Obsessed. It is not my kind of movie at all: action adventure with a predominantly male cast. Alas, I love it.

The actual writing of this book was basic. I imagine it's hard to take a script and try to write a book around it, especially a story of this caliber. These kind of characters are better in the flesh than on the page.

Nevertheless, the book gave me some better understanding of the characters and of the Jaeger program and its history. So, it was worth it.

Liberty and Other Stories

Liberty and Other Stories - Alexis Hall I loved these stories that took place in the world of [b:Prosperity|22544017|Prosperity (Prosperity, #1)|Alexis Hall|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403127950s/22544017.jpg|41999500], especially the first two stories.

The first story, which told of the first meetings of Ruben and Milord, was by far the best. It was short, so I don't want to give anything away, but WOW what an ending!

The second story told of a particularly disturbing governess job of one Miss Jane Grey. No idea if this contributed to the loss of some of her wits in the future, but I would't blame her if it did.

And I was fascinated by the third story, which basically was Byron Kae telling of his past and what led him into being a skycaptain.

The fourth story was interesting enough, but I did skim some. It's strong point was the introduction of a few new eccentric characters.

I loved the character of Miranda Lovelace and I'm holding out hope to hear more about her. What a character. And I really hope this is not the last time we hear from any of these characters.

The Bells of Times Square

The Bells of Times Square - Amy Lane I should never have requested to review this. Don't get me wrong, it was a great story and really well written. It's just, I promised myself to stay away from stories like this, especially ones that take place in wartime, because they never have happy endings.

Like I said, it was well written. It takes real talent to keep a reader interested when most of the story is just two characters located in a small, isolated area. I cared about these characters and what happened to them.

I don't know what much else to add. It took me so long to write this because I didn't know what to say.

No more wartime m/m romances for me, unless I already know the ending. I can't take much more.

Bonfire Night

Bonfire Night - Deanna Raybourn Bonfire Night was an entertaining and amusing novella. Like every other Lady Julia novel/novella it read fast, and had the usual witty dialogue.

While short, I felt the story lacked for nothing. So much was packed into every page, and it was a creative plot.

It was bittersweet to finish this, knowing that this is probably the last we'll hear from Julia, Brisbane, and the eccentric March family. I will miss them all.

Night of a Thousand Stars

Night of a Thousand Stars - Deanna Raybourn Another great novel from Deanna Raybourn! I just love her style, which is breezy and engaging.

Like her previous novel City Of Jasmine, Night of a Thousand Stars takes us to the Middle East for another adventure. And we see characters from Raybourn's previous books pop up, and there's even a connection to her Lady Julia books!

The opening chapters grab you immediately: a runaway bride who is helped in her getaway by a curate. I am already wondering about this gutsy heroine, who is already making a pretty bold decision.

Finding herself seeking a purpose after ditching her fiance at the altar, with her newly obtained ladies maid, she goes out in search of said purpose. And in trying to find her curate to thank him, she finds more than her purpose, she find a life-altering adventure.

Like I implied at the beginning, the writing flows easily. If you liked Raybourn's other books, especially her recent ones, you'll like this just as much.

The Last Cannoli

The Last Cannoli - Tali Spencer I don't usually read contemporary m/m romance, but the Italian American theme caught my eye.

By the end of the book it made me realize how tiring an Italian American family is, which makes me glad my own is so far away.

Provoked (Enlightenment)

Provoked (Enlightenment) - Joanna Chambers SO GOOD.

City of Jasmine

City of Jasmine - Deanna Raybourn First of all, I highly recommend reading the prequel to this novel: Whisper of Jasmine. It shows how Evie and Gabriel met, and gives good insight into the beginning of their relationship.

That being said, City of Jasmine takes place in 1920 Syria, and seeing as how I didn't know a whole lot of what was going on in that area then, I learned a lot. Evie and Gabriel were thrown into lots of adventures and came across a lot of suspicious characters, some dangerous, some just shady. The descriptions and seeing the area through the eyes of Evie totally brought the country to life. The descriptions were not overdone, but were the right amount.

While I miss the Lady Julia books, I'm just happy to have another book by Deanna Raybourn. Her style and feisty, independent heroines are still strong in books like City of Jasmine.

I couldn't put this down! Deanna Raybourn fans will not be disappointed.

The Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle)

The Two Mrs. Abbotts (Miss Buncle) - D.E. Stevenson The Two Mrs. Abbotts is the third book in the Miss Buncle series, and while the title suggests it's about the former Miss Buncle and her niece-by-marriage, it is really not.

Of the two, we spend the most time with the younger Mrs. Abbott: Jerry. We see Barbara every now and again, but her story line is nothing substantial. Actually, none of the story lines are. There are just too many characters and too many plots going on that it's hard to keep it all straight.

This is a weird little book, because while it takes place during World War II, it's about nothing at all, really. There are certain characters that we see for a little while, and then they disappear never to be heard from again. And at the end of the book, there are a bunch of characters' stories still hanging there.

Unfortunately, the charm of this series dissipates with each book. If you like books set in the country during this time period, then this is probably your thing, but it just wasn't mine. If you liked the first book Miss Buncle, don't feel the need to continue because the two books after it are just pale imitations, sadly.

Currently reading

Curse of the Poppy
Emily Organ
Black Thorn, White Rose
Storm Constantine, Nancy Kress, M.E. Beckett, Ann Downer-Hazell, Isabel Cole, Midori Snyder, Ellen Steiber, Susan Wade, Patricia C. Wrede, Terri Windling, Howard Waldrop, Michael Kandel, Daniel Quinn, Lawrence Schimel, Ellen Datlow, Tim Wynne-Jones, Peter Straub, Jane Yol