|Gustav Adolph Hennig -- Girl Reading, 1828|
Anyone who says they have only one life to live
must not know how to read a book.
"How delightful it would be to be a governess! To go out into the world; to enter upon a new life; to act for myself; to exercise my unused faculties; to try my unknown powers; to earn my own maintenance, and something to comfort and help my father, mother and sister, besides exonerating them from the provision of my food and clothing; to show papa what his little Agnes could do; to convince mamma and Mary that I was not quite the helpless, thoughtless being they supposed. And then, how charming to be intrusted with the care and education of children!"But the realities of being a governess soon dispel all of Agnes's hopes and bright optimism. Because the children don't mind, and their parents aren't supportive or welcoming, and she doesn't fit with the family and their friends, or with the servants.
"My task of instruction and surveillance, instead of becoming easier as my charges and I got better accustomed to each other, became more arduous as their characters unfolded. The name of governess, I soon found, was a mere mockery as applied to me..."And that's just the beginning! After her first disastrous position, Agnes goes to work for the Murray family as their governess and her story really begins. Not that her job there is a shining success. (She's a little too passive to ever be that.) But she bravely endures the trials of genteel poverty and the struggles and frustrations of governessing and finds her own happiness in the end.
"If someone asked you to paint a snowman. you would probably start with three white circles stacked one upon another. Then you would add black dots for eyes, an orange triangle for a nose, and a black dotted smile. But if Picasso painted a snowman...."
|Lichtenstein's Snowman by Greg Newbold|
Hilary said, "You know, Robert, anyone listening to some of the things we've said tonight might almost believe we really do think the Tarleton's haunted. I don't mean just enjoying the atmosphere and the echoes--I mean really haunted."
"I do think it's haunted," said Robert. "So do you. All old buildings are haunted, to some extent anyway. I don't know what we encountered tonight, but whatever it was, I don't think that what's sealed beneath that stage is a ghost."There are multiple story lines in this novel: Toby's and his mother's, both performers at the Tarleton back in the day, Robert's and Hilary's own modern-day encounters, along with some long-buried secrets, unexpected political intrigue, murder and revenge, and, of course, the mystery surrounding the Tarleton ghost. I got caught up in each part of this mystery, eager to see how they all came together in the final chapters. There was only one story line, Shona's, that seemed completely superfluous and unnecessary. Luckily, Rayne is such a talented writer I never felt my interest or attention wane. So even though this wasn't the ghost story I was hoping for, I ended up really enjoying this well-written and intriguing mystery. (It also counts as another TBR book checked off my list for Lark's Backlist Reader Challenge.)
It's the look in their eyes that does it. A mix of pity and disgust. Like I'm worth nothing, just another stray for them to clean up. A memory slowly opens and I realize I know exactly how to get myself out of this. The power of what I'm about to say is huge. It courses through my body like a shot of vodka, removing the tightness in my throat and sending tingles to the tips of my fingers. I don't feel helpless anymore; I know I can pull this off. "My name is Rebecca Winter. Eleven years ago, I was abducted."But she's not Rebecca. She's an imposter who only intends to borrow Rebecca's identity until she can get the police off her back. But having a nice home to go to, and a warm bed to sleep in, and loving parents is appealing. Plus, there are things in her own past she's trying to escape. So she continues the charade. And being Rebecca isn't so bad...until she begins to suspect that something's not right in the Winter home. Plus, a black van keeps following her. Bec's parents and twin brothers are acting strangely. And what if whoever caused the real Bec to disappear decides to come after her?
Bec shoplifts and then flaunts her new acquisitions while the imposter pretends to be someone she's not and never flinches as she tells lie and lie, so I think they both have a similar kind of recklessness about them. I also think both of them have the same tendency to run from their problems rather than face the truth. And while I liked both girls, I liked the imposter a little bit more than the real Bec. To me, she just seemed like more of a scrappy fighter/survivor. And I liked that about her.Q. Who do you most sympathize with? The real Bec, the imposter, or both?
I sympathized with both characters, but at the end of the book I was rooting for the imposter while feeling mostly pity (along with a little frustration) for Bec.
"Twenty-two days. Michael lifted his finger from the Sharpie'd tally in his journal. Wow. Man. Twenty-two days since Halloween. Twenty-two days since Michael followed the Game Master's instructions and carried Patrick through a door into the night and saw their first Bellow. Twenty-two days since that moment, since the world seemed to end, but then instantaneously resurrected to a frightening and beautiful life."
"Because Patrick ... looked so small, so sweet, that Michael thought, not for the first or final time, that he would shoot all the monsters in the world he had to, he would do anything to reach the Safe Zone in the capital city of Charleston, to win the Game for Patrick."There are a lot of mediocre and disappointing zombie reads out there, but this is one of the good ones. I liked Martin's style of writing and his take on the undead is different and fun. But his main focus is on his characters. I may not have liked all of them, but I did really like Michael. And as I learned more about his and Patrick's back story, I liked him even more. This entertaining apocalyptic novel ended up being a perfect end-of-summer read for me.
I had almost reached the back of the room and was casting my eye over a display of cheap trinkets and ugly paintings on the walls when I saw it ... An eighteenth century pastel in its original frame, of a man wearing a powdered wig and blue coat. In the top right-hand corner, a coat of arms I couldn't make out. Yet it was not the coat of arms that grabbed me, but the face. Transfixed, I could not tear my eyes away from it: the face was my own.The Portrait is another delightful read from Antoine Laurain. I love his books, especially The Red Notebook. Both novels are whimsical, subtle, and beautifully written. In this one, a collector of antiques sees a portrait at an auction that looks just like him. And he has to buy it. But when he gets it home, his jaded wife can't see the resemblance. Her reaction makes Pierre-Francois Chaumont even more determined to learn the identity of the man in the painting. What he discovers is beyond anything he ever imagined. Once again Laurain spins an unforgettable tale of mystery and romance. And he does it in just 128 pages, making The Portrait a true bookish gem.
"In the sun-warmed quiet of her uncle's library, Lady Helen Wrexhall spread the skirt of her muslin morning gown and sank into the deep curtsy required for Royal presentation: back held straight, head slightly bowed, left knee bent so low, it nearly touched the floor. And, of course, face set into a serene Court smile."But 18-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall is not your typical debutante. She has hidden gifts and intuitive powers that other young ladies don't have. Gifts she inherited from her mother...who died in disgrace ten years ago.
"...reading expressions was her one true accomplishment. When she concentrated properly on a face, her accuracy was startling and a little disturbing. It certainly made her aunt and uncle uneasy, and they had forbidden her to voice her observations about anyone...Girls were meant to paint screens and play pianoforte, not see through the masks of polite society."Then there's Lord Carlston, who knew her mother and who seems to know more about Helen than he should. And Helen doesn't know if she can trust him. Her brother certainly doesn't.
"Lord Carlston was handsome, Helen conceded...and the brown of his eyes was so dark that it merged with the black pupil, making their expression impenetrable. It was very disconcerting and gave him a flat look of soullessness .... Helen dipped into her curtsy but did not lower her eyes as modesty decreed, instead, studying Lord Carlston as he bowed. He was studying her just as closely, his gaze far too penetrating for politeness."Lord Carlston shows Helen abilities she never knew she possessed. And he tells her why she has them. That it has to do with demons and darkness and saving the world. That Helen is a Reclaimer. It's an inheritance Helen isn't sure she wants. And the story continues from there--an entertaining and fun (although rather long) supernatural adventure set in the Regency era. (And this story is followed by two more books; The Dark Days Club is book one of a trilogy!)
|BBC series: Thirteen|
They are here: Luc, Ambrose, and not just them, but ourselves, the ghosts of our past, the slim laughing girls we used to be before that summer ended with a cataclysmic crash, leaving us all scarred in our own ways, trying to move on, lying not for fun, but to survive.This is not exactly a fast-paced page turner, but I didn't mind the unhurried way this mystery unfolds. It takes its time, but I never felt that it dragged. I was too caught up in the story of these four girls. Isa's narrative flows effortlessly between her memories of her year at Salten House with Fatima, Thea and Kate, and what's happening now with Kate and what's been uncovered. And since I'm a sucker for boarding school novels, I have to admit I liked all those bits set in the past with this quartet of imperfect girls and their unbroken bond of friendship. The rest of the plot kept me guessing as to who was behind what and where the truth actually lay. And I did not see that ending coming! Not having read either of Ware's other novels, I don't know how this one compares, I just know that I liked it. What made it even more fun was reading it with Melody. Make sure you go to her blog and check out her awesome review of this book.
|The Lake of Dead Languages|
by Carol Goodman
"All this time I've been walking around thinking I've become pious because I've made the difficult decision to wear the hijab. I've been assuming that now that I'm wearing it full-time, I've earned all my brownie points. But what's the good of being true to your religion on the outside, if you don't change what's on the inside, where it really counts? ... I've been kidding myself. Putting on the hijab isn't the end of the journey. It's just the beginning of it."Amal is a charming character. She has all the normal teen worries, along with a few extra hijab-inspired ones. And this book gives you a view of Islam from the inside out. It's insightful and entertaining and I liked it a lot. Best of all, I got my copy for a quarter from my library's discarded books sale. Don't you just love bookish bargains? So, here's to serendipitous library finds that lead to such interesting and enjoyable reads. I bought another discarded library book the same day I got this one; I hope it's just as good. The cover and title certainly sound like fun: