The Sunday Salon ~ Jane Austen and Henry III in a throw down… who’d win?

The Sunday Salon.com

Read.  Read read read read read.  and then Read some more.  Having been distracted by life and video games, it would seem that the end of the year has snuck up on me.. again.  This is very familiar.  It seems that I was racing to the end of the year last December, as well, only Second Life was my distractor then… World of Warcraft has done it this year (the facebook games don’t help, either).  But I think I’ll make the 75-book goal this year.  I’ve already read more this year than last.  I ended with 63 last year, but I’ve read 71 already, and with only eleven more days to go, I’m confident I’ll hit 75.

This week I finished three books ~

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is the fifth of the sixth Jane Austen novels.  Though it was written first, it was published, posthumously, next to last.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and have to admit that it’s my new Austen favorite.  I crushed harder on Henry Tilney than I did on Mr. Darcy, and that’s saying something.  Tilney has a bit of an edge over Darcy… Henry is actually a nice person, as well as being funny and smart.  Darcy, while sweet in his private way, was a bit of an ass.  I guess that went along well with Elizabeth, since she liked to jump to conclusions and was a bit proud herself, but it did a little to put one off.  Of course, the ingenue.. the innocent, country flower.. who is a blank slate and, therefore, non-threatening to Tilney’s intellectual authority, ready and willing to be molded by him, which suits his fancy, I think. 

All in all, I enjoyed Austen’s wit and sarcasm, as well as her parody of Gothic novels of her day.

Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar is a humorous walk through many schools of philosophy.  The authors, Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, use jokes to illustrate what each school of thought is about.  Like with Teleology, the philosophy that all things exist for a purpose, one joke used to illustrate this is:

Mrs. Goldstein was walking down the street with her two grandchildren.  A friend stopped to ask her how old they were.  She replied, “The doctor is five and the lawyer is seven.”

I also finished my appointment read, Three to Get Deadly, the third book in the Stephanie Plum numbers series by Janet Evanovich.  I’d been missing Stephanie lately, so I picked this, the next in the series for me, up to read when I was away from home.  I learned an important lesson with it.  Just because a book can fit in your coat pocket doesn’t mean it’s a good appointment book.  By the time I’d gotten to the end of the book, I’d forgotten some of the beginning.  Also, it lost a bit of it’s momentum this way.  In the future, I think I’ll stick to short stories for appointment books.

I’ll write up real reviews for these books later this week… I hope.  I’ve already jumped into my next book, and I’m about 40 pages in it already.  Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second of the Dune series.  I read the first book earlier this year, and I was in the mood for a good sci-fi book, so I picked this up.  I had forgotten how fascinating and fantastic the first book had been, and the second book is, so far, every bit as good.  It is also, however, as much a thinking book as the first.  My brain hurts after a while.   Trying to picture Edric, the fishy-humanoid Guildsman in his tank… picturing the Tleilaxu Face Dancer Scytale manipulate his physical body to be one form one second, then turn into the ghola version of Duncan Idaho (also a mind-bender of a thought), then back again… it’s all an exercising of my imagination muscles… both enjoyable and tiring at the same time.

Reading may be a little easier to do here… but I won’t guarantee it.  Sam, my oldest, has gone to her dad’s for the two-week vacation, and Gwen will go closer to Christmas day, but only stay gone for a week.  Maggie, however, will be here throughout, as her dad has moved back to town.  She’s happy about this, but it has it’s downside, too.  He’s here more, which means he’s nit-picking about my housekeeping more… which means less time to read.   And it means that he no longer needs to take her home with him to spend time, since he can see her whenever he wants. 

LOL.. the remainder of my reading may be Magic Treehouse books with Maggie.

I’ve been watching the Tudors, also.  I got hooked on it when I was sick with the flu last month.  I watched Seasons 1 and 2 straight through on Netflix’s Instant thing.  When the third season came out on DVD this past week, it was on the top of my queue.  I watched the first two discs last night, but I’ll have to wait for the third to come on Monday.  Watching it reminds me how we tend to judge history with modern day values.  Henry VIII was quite a tyrant through 21st century eyes, but was he all that bad or different in his own time-frame?  Sure, he had the north of England hung without trial for rebellion, but the Catholic Church had the Inquisition.  I suppose it all balances out.

I have to admit to a bit of cheating.  I had forgotten which wife Henry took after Jane, so I watched this video.  Now the rest of this season’s lost all suspense for me! 

Happy Reading and have a safe and Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Title: Twilight
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Paperback: 498 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publish Date: 2005
ISBN: 9780316015844

“It’s not only your company I crave! Never forget that. Never forget I am more dangerous to you than I am to anyone else.”

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer is the ultimate good-girl-falls-for-bad-boy story. Bella, daughter of the local police chief, fall for the mysterious Edward Cullen… whom she discovers is a vampire. It is everything I remember from being a teenager, some of it wonderfully nostalgic and some of it painfully annoying. While there were parts that dragged, and I honestly could have stopped at the hospital scene at the end… about 50 pages less than the final 498 pages, for the most part it was fun, arousing, and quite a page turner.

I definitely want to linger on the point of arousal. Twilightfull of the kind of sexual sensations I remember from being a teenager. The flutters of the attraction, new and exciting feelings, and the lingering over the first moments, uncertain and inexperienced about what comes next. The long lasting moments spent staring, lightly touching and feeling the skin of the object of one’s affection. All this innocent (or mostly innocent) pleasure before the actual end-run of sex becomes common and mechanical, losing all the magic it once held. I really enjoyed this aspect of Twilight.

“So what you’re saying is, I’m your brand of heroin?” I teased, trying to lighten the mood.
He smiled swiftly, seeming to appreciate my effort. “Yes, you are exactly my brand of heroin.”
“Does that happen often?” I asked.
“Never.”

While Twilightis definitely no literary classic, for me there were aspects of other stories that are classics. I couldn’t help but see that obvious Romeo and Julietaspect of it. The fated lovers, separated by their identity (Capulet v. Montague, Human v. Vampire), brought together by their love. I also saw a parallel of Pride and Prejudice: Edward as a Darcy of sorts, loving Bella against all his better judgment, and Bella as an Elizabeth Bennett, opinionated, headstrong, and impossible for Edward (Darcy) to read.

It is definitely a YA fiction, but there is a lot in it for an adult to love, as well. I can, however see how it could seriously grate on a reader’s everlasting nerves. There is a soppy-sweetness to it that is, at times, indigestible. It’s a bit aggravating that Bella tends to be a bit dippy and put herself in dangerous situations… again and again. She could also stand to grow a spine, as she hooks up her potential suitors with her girlfriends instead of saying “No.” Damsels in Distress annoy me. But I couldn’t help loving Edward all the more for rescuing her. I couldn’t help, at thirty-four, imagining myself in the role of Bella.

He rolled his eyes and set his lips. “Bella, we’re not having this discussion anymore. I refuse to damn you to an eternity of night and that’s the end of it.”
“If you think that’s the end, then you don’t know me very well,” I warned him. “You’re not the only vampire I know”

With the end of Twilight, Meyer’s sets up New Moon with the possibility that Bella may get her way and become a vampire with Edward. This question is left hanging, and I have my suspicions it with remain so until Breaking Dawn. A new American Gothic, Twilight is a fun, fast read that will leave you thirsty for more. 😀 4 out of 5 stars.