Friday, February 25, 2011

I Bought Books...

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
This book has been 'calling' to me. First, I saw Tink mention it on her blog. Then, when I was at the bookstore the other day I was just walking around and my eyes fell on it... It's a very pricey book! I have no idea why, but even in online from big box stores it is more expensive than anything else I would care to want! So, I passed, but then I saw it at the library on the holds shelf for someone and I decided I was going to have to read it. When it started getting lots of reviews I decided I was going to have to buy it before it got ruined for me. So, I bought an e-book version last night.

Troublesome Young Men: The Rebels Who Brought Churchill to Power and Helped Save England by Lynne Olson
A riveting history of the daring politicians who challenged the disastrous policies of the British government on the eve of World War II

On May 7, 1940, the House of Commons began perhaps the most crucial debate i
n British parliamentary history. On its outcome hung the future of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's government and also of Britain—indeed, perhaps, the world. Troublesome Young Men is Lynne Olson's fascinating account of how a small group of rebellious Tory MPs defied the Chamberlain government's defeatist policies that aimed to appease Europe's tyrants and eventually forced the prime minister's resignation.

Some historians dismiss the "phony war" that preceded this turning point—from September 1939, when Britain and France declared war on Germany, to May 1940, when Winston Churchill became prime minister—as a time of waiting and inaction, but Olson makes no such mistake, and describes in dramatic detail the public unrest
that spread through Britain then, as people realized how poorly prepared the nation was to confront Hitler, how their basic civil liberties were being jeopardized, and also that there were intrepid politicians willing to risk political suicide to spearhead the opposition to Chamberlain—Harold Macmillan, Robert Boothby, Leo Amery, Ronald Cartland, and Lord Robert Cranborne among them. The political and personal dramas that played out in Parliament and in the nation as Britain faced the threat of fascism virtually on its own are extraordinary—and, in Olson's hands, downright inspiring.
This one I owe to Sassymonkey. She told me she was reading it, then she reviewed it, and then when I said I was going to buy books she told me I have to read this one. So, I am!

Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First World War by Virginia Nicholson
Almost three-quarters of a million British soldiers lost their lives during the First World War, and many more were incapacitated by their wounds, leaving behind a generation of women who, raised to see marriage as "the crown and joy of woman's life," suddenly discovered that they were left without an escort to life's great feast.

Drawing upon a wealth of moving memoirs, Singled Out tells the inspiring stories of these women: the student weeping for a lost world as the Armistice bells pealed, the socialite who dedicated her life to resurrecting the ancient past after her soldier love was killed, the Bradford mill girl whose campaign to better the lot of the "War
spinsters" was to make her a public figure—and many others who, deprived of their traditional roles, reinvented themselves into something better. Tracing their fates, Nicholson shows that these women did indeed harbor secret sadness, and many of them yearned for the comforts forever denied them—physical intimacy, the closeness of a loving relationship, and children. Some just endured, but others challenged the conventions, fought the system, and found fulfillment outside of marriage. From the mill-girl turned activist to the debutante turned archeologist, from the first woman stockbroker to the "business girls" and the Miss Jean Brodies, this book memorializes a generation of young women who were forced, by four of the bloodiest years in human history, to stop depending on men for their income, their identity, and their future happiness. Indeed, Singled Out pays homage to this remarkable generation of women who, changed by war, in turn would change society.
Another book that Karen (Sassymonkey) told me she was reading. She didn't wind up liking it as much as she had hoped, but Ana (Nymeth) really liked it back when she read it, so I am going to see what I think about it. I have wanted to read it for ages, but I don't buy books as much as I used to.

The Bluestockings: The Remarkable Story of the First Women to Fight for an Education by Jane Robinson
In 1869, when five women enrolled at university for the first time in British history, the average female brain was thought to be 150 grams lighter than a man's. Doctors warned that if women studied too hard their wombs would wither and die. When the Cambridge Senate held a vote on whether women students should be allowed official membership of the
university, there was a full-scale riot. Despite the prejudice and the terrible sacrifices they faced, women from all backgrounds persevered and paved the way for the generations who have followed them since. By the 1920s, being an 'undergraduate' was considered quite the fashionable thing; by the 1930s, women were emerging from universities as anything from aviation engineers to professional academics. "Bluestockings" tells an inspiring story - of defiance and determination, of colourful eccentricity and at times heartbreaking loneliness, as well as of passionate friendships, midnight cocoa-parties, and glorious self-discovery.

Ana told me to read this book back when she did, but unfortunately it was not available in Canada at the time and I was mostly shopping where my gift cards are for. When I was finishing up my gift cards from Christmas, I saw that it was in fact available in Canada now and knew I had to buy a copy!

Terribly Twisted Tales by Martin Greenberg
From Hansel and Gretel and Goldilocks, to Snow White, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and more, here are eighteen stories that take familiar fairy tales and twist them around to give them an entirely new slant. Any fan of far-out fantasy is sure to be delighted.
Suey mentioned this in passing and I decided 'What the heck?'. I know absolutely nothing about this book and know no one that has read it, but it sounds fun. Someone should buy a copy and read it with me!

So, what have you bought recently that you are very excited about? What are you currently reading?

I am currently concentrating most of my reading time on Spitfire Women of World War II by Giles Whittell. Karen has been telling me to read this book for ages, so I finally bought myself a copy for Christmas! It's an ebook version, though, and now I want a paperback... I should have just bought that in the first place, but I thought it was out-of-print! It's an excellent book that I will hopefully be reviewing very soon. If you want to see a review of it, you can always read Sassymonkeys! And, here is the full description off of Goodreads:
The story of the unsung heroines who flew the newest, fastest, aeroplanes in World War II -- mostly in southern England where the RAF was desperately short of pilots. Why would the well-bred daughter of a New England factory-owner brave the U-boat blockades of the North Atlantic in the bitter winter of 1941? What made a South African diamond heiress give up her life of house parties and London balls to spend the war in a freezing barracks on the Solent? And why did young Margaret Frost start lying to her father during the Battle of Britain? They -- and scores of other women -- weren't allowed to fly in combat, but what they did was nearly as dangerous. Unarmed and without instruments or radios, they delivered planes for the Air Transport Auxiliary to the RAF bases from which male pilots flew into battle. At the mercy of the weather and any long-range enemy aircraft that pounced on them, fifteen of these women died, among them Amy Johnson, Britain's most famous flyer. But the survivors shared four unrepeatable years of life, adrenaline and love. The story of this 'tough bunch of babes' (in the words of one of them) has never been told properly before. The author has travelled to four continents to interview all the surviving women pilots, who came not just from the shires of England, but also from the U.S.A, Chile, Australia, Poland and Argentina. Paid GBP 6 a week, they flew up to 16 hours a day in 140 different types of aircraft, though most of them liked Spitfires the best.


  1. I really want to read the Witches one. It sounds like a fun one.

  2. I'm reading Discovery of Witches right now and it's very good so far! I love books with an academic setting and then you throw in the paranormal element - great combination!

  3. Oh... am going to have look for A Discovery of Witches! Love the sound of it.

  4. ALL of these books look like winners.

  5. I want to read A Discovery of Witches myself as well.
    Enjoy all your new books ;)

  6. Can't wait for your thoughts on a discovery of witches. :P

  7. Oh I'm so glad you picked this up! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I'm currently reading the latest thing I bought which is The Postman by David Brin. It's what that Kevin Costner movie was based on. I always liked the movie (Tom Petty is in it!) but I didn't know it was a book until I finished Alas, Babylon. Then since my library didn't have it, I had to give in and buy it.

  8. I've been hearing about The Discovery of Witches too, and really want to read it. If I could find a copy of Terribly Twisted Tales I'd buy it and read it with you! Is is a new paperback out? I like his collections. Interesting books and now I want to find a copy of Women of WW 2, and I already have 29 books out from the library!

  9. Hi there.

    Great list.

    Singled Out sounds particularly interesting. I know the history but have never read a book on it.

  10. I've read nothing but positive comments on A Discovery of Witches and am looking forward to reading it myself. Enjoy!

  11. Great books! I am waaaay down on the library hold list for A Discovery of Witches, but I'm looking forward to it as well.

  12. Chris: It does look really good. I hope I end up enjoying it!

    Carrie: I am glad you are enjoying it! I hope to get to it soon!

    Cath: It does sound very good, huh? Chapters has it for 40 percent off and then 10 more if you have a card. I saw it the other day...

    Care: I know! I am excited!

    naida: Thanks! Hope you enjoy Discovery of Witches when you get a chance to read it.

    Amy: I really need to read it!

    Tink: Tom Petty in a movie? I have to see that now!

    Susan: Oh, you should buy a copy! I think it's been out for a while, but they are selling it at a decent price...

    Monica: I am looking forward to Singled Out.

    Samantha: Yes, it does seem to be going over well... I am hoping I will like it!

    Kim: I could have waited for the library, but the bookstore had an ebook version at a decent price and I am weak... lol

  13. I want Discovery of Witches. I am hoping it will come into the library soon!


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