Review: The Long Ships by Frans G. Bengtsson


The Long Ships

by Frans G. Bengtsson

Rating ****

Read 4/12/2013

Delightful story of Red Orm and his life in the tenth century. The period detail seemed authentic, but since you could tattoo everything I know about the tenth century on my eyeball without causing me the slightest discomfort, I’m not the person to judge. It felt authentic, and that’s what’s important to me in a story. It’s got these flashes of hilarity that are delicious and can be read aloud to great effect. A very absorbing, engrossing romp. Plus swords. And hounds.


Review: Martha Stuart’s Excruciatingly Perfect Weddings by Tom Connor

Martha Stuart’s Excruciatingly Perfect Weddings

by Tom Connor

Rating: *

Read 4/9/2013

It says PARODY right on the cover. I picked it up by accident in a pile of magazines at a rummage sale, and it’s languished around the house on seemingly every horizontal surface. I finally picked it up tonight and I didn’t think it was very funny. Maybe it was funny when it came out and the real Martha was gaining traction but not yet a byword in K-Mart linens. My advice: always shake down your pile of beading magazines at a yard sale for stray hitchhiking parody books.

Review: Powerhouse Plants by Graham Rice



Powerhouse Plants

by Graham Rice

Rating: ***

Read 4/9/2013

Beautiful photos. I think this book about plants which hold one’s interest for multiple seasons, is geared toward the beginning gardener. There were lots of lovely photos and descriptions of plants that I’ve been familiar with for years. I can lay some of the blame with my father and my grandmother, each of whom grew some crazy stuff. It’s certainly worth picking up if you are tired of having a garden strictly driven by flowers.


Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell



Eleanor and Park

by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: ****

Read: 4/7/2013

This one kicked my feet out from under me and kept me up all night. Dawn’s rosy fingers found me still listening, with Dylan’s voice rasping in my head: “But all the while I was alone / The past was close behind.”

Incredibly emotionally affecting, the only thing keeping this from that final star is my feeling (probably biased) that Eleanor reads much, much younger than any of my compatriots in similar situations ever were at her age. And it’s probably not fair to judge this book on my own situation, but I was so deeply drawn in, so awash in my own youth, and the youth of my lost friends, that I can do no other.

The narration was top-notch, and the writing was stellar. I was entirely engrossed and invested. The ending was perfect, oh, so perfect.


Review: Whirligig House by Anna Rose Wright



Whirligig House

by Anna Rose Wright

Rating: ****


Read: 4/6/2013


There are no more Melendy books to discover, and no more jolly Eager siblings yet to meet. I feel lucky that I found the Yates clan at this late date. Thank goodness for pictorial covers and old comfortable library bindings. I saw this one across the room, and though it was totally unfamiliar to me, it promised to be one of those comfortable, chatty books. The cover told truth. There’s the barest of bare-bones plots, and a wealth of splendid anecdotes. There are delightful illustrations throughout, and all the Usual Suspects for these kinds of books: absent but well-loved parents, irascible and unrelated hired hand whose heart of marshmallow is apparent from the first, cranky old Pecksniffian relative, reclusive neighbor, harum-scarum friends, secret clubs, newsletters, boats and of course a baby alligator. ¬†This was an unmitigated delight.


Review: Jane Boleyn by Julia Fox



Jane Boleyn

by Julia Fox

Rating: **


Read: 4/6/2013


I found this purported biography of Anne Boleyn’s sister-in-law Jane to be wildly erratic. First of all, there is little verifiable known about Jane’s life and the author spends a lot of time speculating. The first “if Jane were there, she would have” was barely noticeable, but by the middle of the book it was clear that nobody really can ever know what Jane Boleyn thought, said, or did beyond what’s already documented. I didn’t like the imagined Jane. I also didn’t like what felt like clear bias against the Boleyn clan as a whole. I did like the meticulously researched, historically verifiable parts. But mostly I didn’t like it.


Review: Love Minus Eighty by Will McIntosh



Love Minus Eighty

by Will McIntosh

Rating: ****

Read 04/05/2013

Wow, this was a wild and engrossing story. The worldbuilding was seamless, the characters strong, and the ending delightful in its ambiguity. At first, I was caught up in the horror of the poor bridesicles’ plight and I had to keep putting the book down and walking away. But as I got further into the book and got to know the characters, I couldn’t put it back down till I found out what happened.

I loved the way McIntosh connected all the threads together in the book, and I really enjoyed the ride. Recommended.

I got this ARC at ALA free.