The Year of Unfinished Books
Any of you who have been following me for a while will have realized that I clearly have issues with schedules. Even those that are self-imposed. 🙂
But one reason that I haven’t posted much recently, or at least with any type of schedule, is that I haven’t been reading much this year. Or finishing the books I start, anyway. I have started so many more than I finished it’s not even funny. It has definitely been a year of unfinished books. However, I did have a few books that have been standouts so far this year. I wanted to list some for you. Some of these have already been on here but some are new, so this is really just an update on what I have already posted previously. I may do another similar post at the end of the year but I think December will mostly be devoted to Christmas.
As I said I have a few stand-out books so I am just going to make you a little list here of some of my favorites from this year so far and what I am currently reading.
- Daughter of the Moon Goddess – Sue Lynn Tan
- Currently reading the sequel and conclusion of the Duology/series Heart of the Sun Warrior
- The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea – Axie Oh
- The Inheritance Games – Jennifer Lynn Barnes
- I have #2 and #3 in the series but haven’t finished them yet. (See what I wrote above about that. lol) The second book is The Hawthorn Legacy and the third is The Final Gambit.
- Strike the Zither – Joan He
- I really enjoyed this one and look forward to the sequel.
- Wild Sign – Patricia Briggs
- Alpha and Omega #6 – Patricia Briggs is one of my all-time favorite authors and I love these two series. A must-read.
Ok, I think that’s a good list. It doesn’t cover everything, by any means, but it has some of the favorites that I’ve had throughout the year so far. One other addition that I hope to start before the end of the year is North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell published in 1855. I have seen the mini-series a couple of times and really enjoyed it but never read the book. Of course, this can be said about many books but this is one that I have thought about reading for a while.
As I said earlier, I may do another short post later in the month but not unless there are some drastic changes between now and then. Maybe I will get my reading mojo back soon. I hope to have a couple of Christmas posts out this month and so, on that note, I will see everyone later! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Jane Austen: A Life in Books
Jane Austen is a much-loved author. This is a truth that is, as she would say, universally acknowledged. Jane began writing at a young age what would be called her Juvenilia. A compilation she eventually created of her early poems, stories, and plays written for her family. However, she eventually would turn her passion into published works.
Throughout her books, from Pride and Prejudice to Emma, Jane’s narrators offer a good deal of social commentary on the customs of the time. While there is an ongoing debate on whether her books are, in fact, romance novels or just social commentary, I believe that any book can be a multitude of things. Jane was writing, for the most part at least, about the social customs surrounding courtship and marriage. These rules were something that, although she never married herself, all young people would have been familiar with. And so, in reading her books, they would have also been familiar with the woes, heartbreaks, and joys in some cases that the characters go through in each of the books. The marriage plot was expected in books for them to sell. Romance novels were then and are still not exactly looked at in the best light. Usually by those who don’t read them.
By 1815, although Jane had never put her name in her books, she was slowly beginning to be known as their author. Jane enjoyed the fame as her books began to sell out multiple times over. One of her many fans was the Prince Regent who “suggested/ requested” a dedication in her next book. So in her next book, Emma, he got his dedication. Jane was “never, in fact, persuaded that His Highness actually read Emma or had any notion of her “exquisite touch.” Her final finished book was Persuasion (although she did revise Northanger Abbey at this time, too). It was somewhat different from her other books; an older female character than usual and the storyline didn’t follow her normal patterns either. She seemed to be revising her style somewhat but she was also beginning to have failing health at this time. She had started working on Sanditon but it was left unfinished when she died. Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published after her death.
“Her legacy is not a piece of reportage from the society of a particular past, but a wise and compelling exploration of human nature.” Jane Austen’s books are still read today and her characters are vibrant creatures that are just as interesting today as when she first wrote them. It may take a little more for us to understand today when we read them than it did for contemporary readers who would have been familiar with what she was writing about.
A note to readers: I plan to have more in this later but probably after the new year. if you read the next post you will see partially why this post has had such a delay. Thanks for reading! 🙂
- Jane Austen: A Life – Carol Shields – pages 164-166, 182
- Complete Works of Jane Austen, Books and Juvenilia – https://www.janeausten.org/jane-austen-books.php
- The real reason Jane Austen wrote about romance | Pride & Prejudice analysis & Regency women writers – Ellie Dashwood youtube channel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QcofuBK58sQ
a little quote…
- The Daily Jane Austen: A Year of Quotes, edited and with a Foreword by Devoney Looser – quote of December 4 – page 180
What I’m Reading…
Two of my favorite books that I’ve read this year to round out Mythology before I move on to something completely different. 🙂
Daughter of the Moon Goddess
by: Sue Lynn Tan
I have mentioned this book several times already. However, I wanted to mention it one more time since the second book is coming out in November, Heart of the Sun Warrior.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess has definitely been one of my favorite reads this year. The main character Xingyin goes through quite a journey in the attempt to save her mother and meets many interesting characters along the way. Some of these are helpful and some are not so helpful. Xingyin still manages to make everything work out in the end.
I’m looking forward to the sequel when it comes out to complete her journey.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
by Axie Oh
This has been another favorite. When I first started the book, I really had no idea where it was going. As the story progressed, I got more attached to these characters and it went where I wanted it to go while still giving me a surprise at the end. I love books that do that.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea tells the story of a girl who makes a sacrifice at the beginning of the book. She takes a journey and tries to figure out why tragedy has repeatedly happened to her people and her home. Mina eventually is successful and everything works out in the end.
What I’m Reading
World Mythology: From Indigenous Tales to Classical Legends
by Tamsin Hughes
I’m currently reading through a book called World Mythology. It looks at mythologies from around the world from creation myths to specific gods that appear and reappear in multiple countries as well as stories about creatures. It also helps identify the difference between what is a myth, what is a legend, and what is a folk story. These three things can all be quite similar and get confused often. However, they have some distinctions to help make them more clear.
“Myths tell us much about the past, present, and sometimes the future. They form a digest of sorts about humanity and the part it plays in the natural world.”World Mythology page 17
In the conclusion of the book, the author notes that there are many remarkable similarities among the various versions of these stories across the globe. She also marveled at how creative these people were when they were attempting to understand the world.
“Whether you have read this book from beginning to end or simply leafed through its pages at random seeing what piques your interest, you will surely have marvelled at the creative enterprise that our forbears employed to make sense of their world.”
“Being firmly rooted in an age of science and technology, it is easy for us to be critical of, and even to deride, the fantastical aspects of the belief systems of our progenitors. We can forget just how powerful a profoundly inspiring story was to earlier cultures where storytellers were revered and narrative was the epitome of invention.”World Mythology pages 247-248
I’m also currently pleasure reading the “Shield-Maiden” series The Road to Valhalla by Melanie Karsak. I had previously read the first four books but had not read the fifth. In these books, the main character Hervor (as well as many of the other characters) has a close and personal relationship with their gods. For Hervor, it’s the All-Father Odin and for her friend Eydis, it’s Loki. Throughout the books, the gods speak to the characters and guide them along their journey. I’m re-reading the series and am about to read book five so I’m not sure how their story ends yet. But I’m sure it will be interesting.
I am still in the process of reading these books (yes, I did skip to the end for some of this.) I do plan to put up another post on mythology in general soon as I plan to have a few more posts on mythology topics/books.
- World Mythology: From Indigenous Tales to Classical Legends by Tamsin Hughes
- The Road to Valhalla Series by Melanie Karsak
Top Favorite Reads of 2021 and 2022 Current TBR List
My favorite books of 2021 could probably keep us here all day. However, I’m going to narrow it down to just a few. Most of these deviate from the historical areas that the blog usually leans towards but some are what I will call “history adjacent”. 😄 Some may be repeats to the blog or to you. I hope there are a couple of good suggestions for your shelves.
#1. The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives by Barbara Burman and Ariadne Fennetaux
This was a fun book looking back at the history of pockets in women’s clothing and the journey that we have taken together. It was a little trip through time looking at clothing and how it has changed. I have two separate blog posts referencing this book so you can go back if you have time and see some of my thoughts. (Please see the links here.)
#2. Wild Sign: An Alpha and Omega Novel book 6 by Patricia Briggs
This is just a continuation of one of my favorite series. There are two separate but intertwined series and this is book six of the “spin-off” series. The original series that goes along with this (see the timeline on the author’s website for guidance) is the Mercy Thompson series. Coyote Mercy (full name Mercedes) went to school to be a history teacher and decided it wasn’t for her and became a Volkswagen mechanic. These books are full of supernatural friends, usually saving the day from some disaster or other. I would suggest starting at the beginning with these as the stories all intertwine with each other. But if you don’t, you can always go back.
In Wild Sign, Charles and Anna, the two main characters go to investigate when they find out that everyone in a remote mountain village has disappeared. Happy reading. 😊
#3-5 The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness – A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life
These three books follow the journey of Diana Bishop, a witch, and Matthew Clairmont, a vampire. They meet in a library. They time walk to the time of Elizabeth and back. They search for the truth of the Book of Life, the thing that brought them together to start with. These books have a lot packed in them from scholarly research, murder, and of course, there is the magical world of the witches, vampires, and daemons living in secret and just trying to stay alive.
Alright, time for the 2022 Current TBR List
#1. Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
A book 1 of 2 of the Celestial Kingdom Duology – a journey through legends and follows, as the title would suggest, the daughter of the Moon Goddess as she goes on a quest to free her mother.
#2. Elizabeth & Margaret: the Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters by Andrew Morton
#3. Eleanor by David Michaels
#4. ‘Tis Herself by Maureen O’Hara with John Nicoletti
This list will probably be much longer here shortly as new books are always coming out. Some of these may make a return to the blog, so stay tuned!
More history content coming soon! Happy reading! 🙂
What’s in your pocket?
If you took a moment to empty your pockets or bag what would you find? A phone? Keys? Money? What a person carries around can tell a lot about what they feel is important in everyday life. This has always been the case. People have “necessary” things to get by in their lives and work to make life easier.
One thing that made life easier was the pocket. Originally worn by both men and women as a tie-on pocket, it was up to the wearer as to how big it was or the shape. They could also wear one or two (or sometimes more) if they chose. Pockets were sewn into men’s clothing long before women’s clothes. Men’s clothing, by the end of the 17th century, had for a long time already a tradition of sewn pockets versus the tied-on that women’s clothing still used.
What each person carried in their pockets varied from person to person, as well as how the pockets were made as these were personal items. However, there was a market that sprung up for items, for both men and women, to carry around with them in their pockets. These could always include the ever-present handkerchiefs but even went so far as to include small books and other polite conversation helpers.
With pockets, the number of things you could carry was only really limited by the size of the pocket. This was especially true when the ladies’ dresses got larger during the mid-18th century. The petticoats that were fashionable at the time either had their own pocket detailing or were tied toward the front which allowed for pockets to be accessed more easily.
Handbags didn’t immediately replace the pocket. Fashion just changed over time as women’s clothing slimmed down and no longer allowed for the tie-on pocket under their clothing and was replaced underneath. However, the number and size of pockets in women’s clothing has become an increasing problem over the years, and pockets continue to grow smaller or non-existent.
- The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux – page 23, 144
- Women’s Pockets Weren’t Always a Complete Disgrace | A Brief History: England, 15th c – 21st c – Bernadette Banner https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaRoWPEUTI4
- Image of Pocket – Courtesy of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ecru_Cotton_Pocket.jpg
What I’m Reading… Book One
A Hidden History of Women’s Lives
by: Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux
Hi there! This is a very good book for anyone who is interested in this type of history. The book allows you to look at the individual because each pocket would have been made to suit the wearer and their own needs. (Often by the person wearing them.)
Many of them had beautiful embroidery on them. This is important to note, since you were not technically supposed to see these pockets as they were tied underneath the ladies garments. Since the pockets were just tied on, they could fall off or be stolen. Ladies would have to claim what items had been in their pockets such as thimbles, rings or handkerchiefs. Hopefully, these items would have their initials on them and they would be lucky enough to get them back easily.
My following post will have some more tidbits about pockets and their history. I hope that you will find this as fun as I do!
- The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives by Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux, 2019 Yale University Press