Everything I read and was able to post about in 2005. Entries dated on the date each book was finished.

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Location: Dexter, Michigan, United States

I've been taking photos since I eagerly asked for and received my first camera on my 12th birthday. Naturally, I was made for scrapbooking. I also enjoy knitting, quilting, and swimming. I used to be CreativeExile; my email still reflects that!

Monday, February 28, 2005


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I really wanted to like this book. I absolutely loved Gregory's The Other Boylen Girl, and I'm still looking forward to The Queen's Fool, so I have a passion for historical literature.

This book actually reminded me of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour in that I almost did not finish it (I have never finished Rice's book. It actually gave me nightmares). The problem with Wideacre was not subject matter or creepy detail (as it was with Witching Hour), it was in a main character I just could not like. Still, I did finish Wideacre, and I'm compelled to think it was Gregory's ability to build tension and make history fascinating without overwhelming you that made me read on.

But sorry, no matter how spunky or strong or passionate Beatrice appears, I found her (and her effect on others) unnerving and disturbing. And it wasn't just the incest with her brother Harry. It was the total destruction of a truly interesting world. Gregory spent the novel building it, only to tear it down at the end (or rather, burn it down...but, I give away too much...)

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Horse Heaven

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The one prejudice I have against Jane Smiley (and it's an obscure one), is that waaay back when, a number of years ago, I chose to consult a psychiatrist for my depression, and went through lengthy (and boring, I caught her smothering a yawn once) talk therapy, my shrink had Smiley's Moo on her desk for a long time.

Since then, I've avoided Smiley, thinking her a cynical, highbrow writer of liter-AH-ture, read by brainy psychiatrists and other high-end professionals. It did take me a while to get through Horse Heaven, but only due to the incredible twists of characters and plots that mark, for me, one damn hard-working author.

Not only does Smiley give life to the people surrounding racehorses, she gives life (in the form of personalities, and quirks and charms and real pathos) to the horses. Yet another thing to admire in an author. You cared about every one of the five horses whose world she portrayed.

Now, I'm a natural-born horse afficianado, so I'm curious as to whether Moo makes cows as personable...

Saturday, February 12, 2005


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No, that's not Johnny Depp on the cover, it's a girl! What a terrific book. Now, here's a book for teens (besides chick lit, I have a fondness for young adult novels) with class. Well-rounded characters, great bits of history (as an American student, I learned nothing about the English port of Bristol; here I learned its importance in the shipping industry), and immensely readable (I've got to stop using that phrase. But it is my ultimate compliment).

I learned a lot about the people who became pirates (including women) and about their life on the high seas. Best of all, it's got Girl Power. Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Knocked out by my Nunga-Nungas

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This series is just plain fun. I love the glossary of British teen expressions in the back. The author has a great voice and you find yourself thinking, if not talking (my British accent sucks), just like the lead character -- at a breakneck pace, full of witty observations and self-depreciating comments.

I can read one of these in a day, which tells me the publishers are milking it; all of the books could be combined into one big one, but then the publishers wouldn't make as much money, right? (No, not bitter about my experience in publishing at all, not me!) That's my only gripe. As if teenagers wouldn't be caught dead with a big, thick book in their hands. It's much "cooler" to carry short pocket-sized (or backpack-sized) books, I guess. And get ripped off to the tune of $21 for three smaller books, as opposed to $6.99 for one big one.

Then again, series are the "thing."

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

7 Stages of Motherhood

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I read this from the very beginning (covering pregnancy & dealing with a newborn, a time I'd rather forget) to the end (teenagers leaving the nest), despite the fact I'm really only dealing with a toddler right now.

My only hangups regarding this book are my own:

1) Uncomfortable passages where she talks about the deep biological link between mother and child (I was adopted, and have a good friend with an adopted son two months younger than my daughter - so, no recommending this book to her).

2) Her own working mom status (throughout her children's lives; I've chosen to stay home, and didn't feel my "story" was covered or given much consideration).

3) Her status as an urban mom (again, I'm in the suburbs, dealing with intense isolation; she regularly croons about her girlfriends and the amount of her sanity saved by having them).

Otherwise, a comforting and enjoyable read. I especially enjoyed the following:

"I actually found what I thought was an ancient grocery list not long ago, which read as follows: 'Three raisins, eight ounces milk, four grape halves, two bites toast, two cups bathwater, one M&M, one third breadstick, one-half teaspoon toothpaste.' I couldn't imagine why I had saved this bizarre scrap of paper, but then it hit me: It was a list of what Nicholas had eaten one Sunday, prompted by my aunt remarking that he looked 'scrawny.'" (pg. 102)

Hee. I can totally relate right now.

Saturday, February 05, 2005


This book is my favorite so far this year. It has all the elements: history, biography, and, well -- Paris at the turn of the last century, during La Belle Époque. I confused it with another Madame X book I saw at the bookstore recently, but I'm glad I saw this one at my library and read it first.

There were so many delicious moments of history and intrigue in this book, I don't know where to begin. Oh! And New Orleans, too -- my other favorite city (and one I've actually visited, a number of times). I especially enjoyed the early history of department stores and the description of French womens' behavior in Bon Marche. Fascinating.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Celebration of Fools

I don't regularly read business books, but since I worked for JCPenney from 1984-1988, I was obviously intrigued by this one. The following also summed up my feelings for my latest company (a small publisher bought out by larger and larger corporations) and made me glad I stopped working for them when I did:

"Penney's had drifted from being a company of merchants to an organization of managers, with its focus changing from serving customers and communities to maximizing sales and profits." (pg. 270)

Replace "merchants" with "quality publishing," "customers" and "communities" with "readers," and you're describing my last employer to a tee.