Non-Fiction

Readerly Rambles: Trollope and an August TBR

readerly rambles

What I read: Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope rivals the very best Jane Austen has to offer. Doctor Thorne, our hero, is a good man. He is a good doctor and he really endeavors to make the right choice despite how it impacts his life. While Doctor Thorne is our hero and holds all the cards, so to speak, the plot really centers on Mary Thorne — the doctor’s niece — and Frank Gresham, Squire Gresham’s heir. Doctor Thorne has cared for the Gresham family for years and as a result Mary Thorne, who is illegitimate and poor, has grown up as a companion to the Gresham children. Of course Frank falls in love with Mary and the Gresham family is shocked and dismayed. Frank is to marry money to save the financially compromised family estate and Mary has neither money or rank. But what if Mary had money? How would things change? How important is blood and can money outweigh “bad blood?” This book was marvelous especially with the witty dialogue and the excellently drawn characters. I think I would classify Anthony Trollope’s novels as the perfect “gateway” to reading large Victorian novels. Side note, Frank and Mary reminded me of Fred Vincy and Mary Garth in Middlemarch. He is young and brash and she is all sense, but still in love. Anyone else feel that way?

What I’m reading: Tonight I plan on sinking into The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my most favorite classics and I’m looking forward to learning more about the inspiration for the novel. I also think it will be nice to read something under 400 pages and non-fiction. I need a change before I dig back into Trollope and George RR Martin!

What’s up Next: Behold! My August TBR!!!

August2014TBR

  • The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss.
  • A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin
  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  • Born Reading : Bringing up Bookworms in a Digital Age by Jason Boog
  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
  • All Joy and No Fun: the Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior

Let’s hope August is a readerly month, because I have many books ready to go

Happy Reading!

 

Remembering September and Looking to October

For photo credit, click on pic

October is here and it is one of my most favorite months; I adore fall weather.  September was disappointing as far as autumn goes — we had temperatures in the upper 80s most of the time.

Now the air truly has a bite of apple crispness and find myself perfectly content to stay home with a large mug of warm milk and and an even bigger book.

Now, for retrospect followed by exciting plans….

Remembering September:

  • I began life as a soccer mom (gasp!); and Hope is really loving the sport.  It is so nice to see her working hard and making friends.
  • Baking:  a made some fall favorites (pumpkin bars and espresso brownies) and baked a new recipe, Cranberry Honey Drop Cookies.
  • The adoption was finalized!  Sam is Hope’s daddy for ever and always!
  • I began a new embroidery project
  • I had a wonderful date day with Sam to Athens.
  • Several wonderful trips to the library and a phenomenal library book sale
  • Celebrated Sam’s 29th birthday
  • Began taking Prepared Child Birth Classes
  • Readying the nursery!
  • Finally I have internet at home
  • Craft night with friends featuring yarn, Thai food, coffee and gossip
  • Read three books (only three!), Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir, Anatomy of Deception by Lawrence Goldstone, and The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Looking to October:

  • Blogtoberfest! The goal is to post every day in October.  I didn’t accomplish this last year, but I sure did post a heck of a lot more.  My goal is to post every day, even if it is a tiny writeup, rant, or link.
  • Finishing Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour.  This is a fabulous book, but nearly 1,000 pages long.  This is my “I must finish this book before Atticus gets here” challenge.
  • Speaking of Atticus he *might* be here by the end of the month.  Needless to say I’ll be nesting, baby prepping, and finishing childbirth class.  I’m looking forward to this being my last month of pregnancy and having my little man soon!
  • Thrifting!  Tomorrow is the huge community thrift sale, because of Hope’s soccer game I won’t make it there until noon so I hope some deals are left.
  • Working on my new embroidery project and finishing the blanket for Atticus.
  • Organizing my photo albums.  I feel compelled to tackle the box of pictures and put them in order.
  • Breaking out the sewing machine
  • Making holiday plans and beginning my baking and gift plans early
  • READATHON!  Next Saturday!  Yay!
  • Staycation!  Hope has fall break week after next and we have plans to see a movie, have lunch with her Dad at work, take walks and watch plentiful amounts of Dark Shadows.
  • Possibly a foray into Once a Month Cooking…. possibly
  • Organizing my bookshelves.  I’m saving this for my nesting spurt.
  • Baking big loaves of crusty bread and making jar after jar of pumpkin butter and apple butter.
  • Audiobook stockpile!  I’m stocking up on audio books for when I function as a milk tank in late October / early November.  Pass on any recommendations!

There we have it, lots of stuff to look forward to!  In my immediate future I see a shower and hitting the pillow.  I’m tired and I know I’ll be up 5o0 times in the night since Atticus has decided my bladder is the perfect squeeze toy.

Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley by Alison Weir

I’ve spoken before of my childhood obsession with Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots.  I went back and forth between the two queens anxiously trying to align my loyalties, but I remained conflicted.  Even my immature ten-year old self could see that Mary, Queen of Scots was ruled by emotion, far too trusting, and was no match to Queen Elizabeth’s brilliance.  I guess you could say that my head was for Queen Elizabeth (pun intended) but my heart went out to Mary.

I picked up Alison Weir’s focused biography of Mary, Queen of Scots on a whim.  The cover was pretty and I’ve been so immersed in The War of the Roses, that I hadn’t thought about Mary in quite some time.  I was quickly captivated by Weir’s analysis of Mary.  In fact, I read the last 200 pages in one sitting; something I never accomplish with most non-fiction.

Weir’s book specifically follows the events leading up to and following the murder of Lord Darnley, Mary’s second husband and father of King James I of England.  Essentially, Mary was raised in French courts (which didn’t go over well in Scotland), found herself in the midst of religious conflict (the Reformation and Counter-Reformation) and was manipulated by nearly every man close to her (Lord Darnley, her third husband Lord Bothwell, and her entire council), and was far too trusting of her dear cousin Queen Elizabeth.

She witnessed the murder of a trusted servant, had numerous plots against her life, was a victim of kidnapping and imprisonment several times over, suffered from grave illnesses and a miscarriage, and was reviled as a harlot and murder when all was said and done.

Weir does an excellent job of reclaiming Mary’s reputation; Mary made many mistakes and showed poor judgment, but Weir points out that she had very little options available.  Protecting her heir, her honor, her throne, and her health was complicated by the fact that she was being manipulated by those in positions of trust.

Conjectures and explanations are not the only proofs offered in Mary’s defense.  Weir carefully cross-examines each piece of evidence — especially in the case of the infamous Casket Letters — contemporary letters, journals, and accounts are double-checked for inaccuracies, contradictions are traced, translations reexamined, and personal vendettas aired.

At the close of the book, it is apparent that Mary did not have a hand in murdering her husband, but, rather, Darnley was murdered by the very men who tried to pin the murder on Mary.

Mary, Queen of Scots, and the Murder of Lord Darnley, is truly enlightening and reads as smooth and as fast-paced as fiction.  I will certainly be checkout more of Weir’s non-fiction work in the future.

Notes on a Cold, Solitude, and The Weekend

On a Cold

My allergy-induced illness turned into a dreadful cold by Wednesday evening.  Being pregnant, I was advised to only take Benadryl (Zyrtec did nothing).  Benadryl affects me like a gallon of gin; I spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in a daze, with more boogers than one human should have in a lifetime, and plagued by a cold, clammy sweat that wouldn’t go away.

By Friday afternoon I was barely caught up at work, dehydrated, having contractions (again) and ready to quit my job and join the circus.  No one was at work (nearly half the staff out or at meetings) and someone pooped on the floor of the bathroom.  Yes, a college student shat on the floor AND WALKED THROUGH IT.  I conducted 2 trainings, handled a mess of interlibrary loan requests, and pondered “why-in-the-hell-is-an-academic-library-running-like-a-Fortune-500-company.”  I’ve had enough of meaningless meetings, self-important garble, and statistics. Work was stressful.  One desperate call to the OB/GYN later, and I was armed with a new medication, Zyrtec-D, and instructions to hydrate and rest.

I came home, showered, drank an entire bottle of SmartWater in one go, medicated and flopped into bed for a wonderful two-hour nap.  Sam — awesome husband that he is — handled soccer practice, dinner, and playing with Hope so I could rest.  I awoke feeling worlds better.  The contractions died down as did my work rage concerns.

On Solitude

I’m in a weird place right now that only my introvert friends will understand.  For the past 6 weeks I’ve had least three social events a week (school meetings, dinners with family and friends, baby showers, outings, chatting at the coffee shop, etc…).  I adore my friends and love spending time with them, but I crave a weekend of solitude with my family.  I’m avoiding the phone, endeavoring to avoid Facebook, and trying my best to engage in hermitude.

As a fan of the Meyers-Brigg Personality Assessment (I’m an INFJ) I can tell you that extroverts and introverts handle social activity very differently.  Extroverts are energized by social engagements, Introverts are typically exhausted by social engagements.  Not in a negative way, we enjoy time with friends, we just need solitude to recharge and refresh.

Of course this could just be a quirk of pregnancy making me crave solitude with family.  Atticus will be here in 9 weeks and each weekend is fastly filling up with social engagements.  I need some quiet time to read, think, sleep, and cuddle with my family before I have those sleepless nights of breastfeeding stretching out before me.  Have any other mothers experienced this?

On the Weekend

This weekend will be marvelous:  Sam and Hope are out playing soccer, Autumn is certainly in the air, and I’m sitting in a cushy chair at Starbucks sipping a pumpkin spice latte.  Plans for later include the family finishing up a challenging owl jigsaw puzzle, flopping on the couch to watch Where the Wild Things Are, and munching on popcorn.  When Hope is in bed I plan on finishing up Alison Weir’s Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley.  Tomorrow we have plans to do the weekly grocery shopping, make baby shower thank-you cards, and take a trip to the library.

Alright, I’m off to resume my Hobbit-esque weekend!


Remembering August and Looking to September

Yesterday Hope stayed home from school because of a sore throat, sinus headache and some sniffles.  By two in the afternoon she was feeling much better and I began feeling crappy.  My throat hurts and I’ve been blowing my nose in Starbucks for the past hour (I’m sure the other customers are more than thrilled).

While I was feeling ill yesterday, I flipped through my journal and found something interesting.  On January 31st I listed accomplishments and memories from the month and then made another list of things I was looking forward to in September.  Seasonal allergies aside, there are many exciting things happening in September and August was a good month for me so I thought I’d revive the list.

Remembering August:

Sam's DIY Dali moustache...

Looking to September:

  • another baby shower
  • Hope’s soccer season begins
  • Carl’s R.I.P reading challenge (more on that later)
  • finishing the baby blanket
  • Autumn baking (pumpkin and apple everything)
  • leaves changing and cooler breezes
  • breaking out my Docs
  • getting internet at the house (hopefully next week)
  • baking bread with friends
  • completing the nursery
  • adoption finalized
  • library book sale
  • new embroidery projects
  • pumpkin spice lattes
  • black fingernail polish
  • childbirth class
  • crafting thank you cards
  • paying off my credit cards
  • Sam’s 29th birthday

I’m ready, September!

In the words of Eddie Vedder, “I’m still alive”

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since Wednesday!  The last half of my week off from work flew by.  I accomplished a great deal, but, alas, I didn’t have the time, energy, or any real inclination to blog.

So what did I do from Wednesday evening until today?

  • Started a biography of Mary Queen of Scots
  • baked Snickerdoodle cupcakes
  • had my friend, Meghan, over for dinner
  • went to lunch with my friend Erin and Hope
  • bought the new Arcade Fire album and obsessively listened to it
  • purchased yarn for a baby blanket and began furiously crocheting
  • watched several movies with Sam
  • had a day at the pool with Sam and Hope (I’m slightly burned)
  • went to dinner with Sam and Hope
  • cleaned the house
  • did massive grocery shopping
  • reorganized the pantry
  • finished back to school shopping
  • packed Hope off for her first day as a fifth grader
  • packed Sam off at for his new job
  • went back to work after 9 days of vacation and tried to catch up on work

WHEW!  I’m tired and amazed that summer vacation has flown by so quickly.   Between the two of us, I’m a bit glad that I’m back to my regular schedule.  I miss my routine and I honestly feel like I get more done when I have some order in my life.  Alright folks, I’ve a busy week this week but I am determined to get some reading done.