June 10th, 2012

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

I finished another book, yesterday, before going out on the day's activities.

This was Osprey Warrior #133: SOE Agent: Churchill’s Secret Warriors, about the troops who parachuted into Nazi-occupied Europe, supplying and leading partisans into fighting the Germans to prepare for the Allied invasion. Their actions were brave and impressive, but I didn't find this book to be so impressive, unfortunately.


It has long been the position at Cold Spring Shops that the progress of Grant and Sherman from Kentucky into Tennessee and Mississippi, and thence to Atlanta and onward to the coast, secured the Union, and likely would have done so no matter how the contest between Lee and any commander of the Army of the Potomac prior to Grant coming east had turned out.  Jeff Shaara's A Blaze of Glory: A Novel of the Battle of Shiloh has a note to the reader beginning "This is the first of a trilogy that explores the mostly overlooked stories of the Civil War that take place west of the Appalachian Mountains."  If these works turn out as well as his European Theater trilogy did, Book Review No. 17 will be followed by additional favorable reviews of the promised works on the siege of Vicksburg and Sherman vs. Johnson in the Carolinas, a part of the war that is most obscure yet possibly more significant than the better-known culmination of Grant and Meade vs. Lee culminating at Appomattox.  Mr Shaara follows his usual practice of following the actions of individuals on both sides, both well-known (Forrest, Sherman) and less well-known, including one private in the Sixteenth Wisconsin Regt, a unit mustered at Camp Randall, thence with Sherman into the Carolinas.  Any further discussion of the Regts role in Blaze of Glory would risk spoiling the tale: let us note that Mr Shaara's research is evident.

(Cross-posted to Cold Spring Shops.)


book 19

I was feeling a little trashy today; took a break from Pride & Prejudice and put Of Mice and Men on hold to read Spring Break! An O.C. novelization.

The O.C. Spring Break by Audry Miller
alternate views, angst, family, pop culture, teeny bopper, tv
1/5    - bad

Get the story behind the TV show--stories you won't find anywhere else! Everything's changing in the O.C.

The events of the past few months have left everyone changed. Seth has found the person he wants to be and he's grown confident about most things-except one, Summer. He can't forget her and so far she can't forgive him. Ryan has returned to Newport after learning that you can't force a family into existence, but he's also realized that he's got a family now-the Cohens. Now if he can just make things right with Marissa, he can focus on his new life. It's a period of change. Nothing is certain. Everything is up for grabs. Welcome to The O.C.

An original story based on the hit TV show!


Poorly written, and the narrative was all over the place. I actually didn't mind Marissa's story here. Maybe because I didn't have to see Mischa Barton pouting and whining at every second.

magical child

Book 73: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee

UK cover
Book 73: A Spy in the House (The Agency #1).
Author: Y. S. Lee, 2009.
Genre: Historical Fiction. Victorian England. Mystery. YA.
Other Details: Paperback. 341 pages.

Orphan Mary Quinn lives on the edge. Sentenced as a thief at the age of twelve, she’s rescued from the gallows by a woman posing as a prison warden. In her new home, Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls, Mary acquires a singular education, fine manners, and surprising opportunity. The school is a cover for the Agency – an elite, top-secret corps of female investigators with a reputation for results – and at seventeen, Mary’s about to join their ranks.

With London all but paralyzed by a noxious heat wave, Mary must work fast in the guise of lady’s companion to infiltrate a rich merchant’s home with hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the Thorold household is full of dangerous secrets, and people are not what they seem – least of all Mary.
- synopsis from author's website.

While I certainly enjoyed this lively historical mystery, I was struck by a glaring anachronism on its opening pages, which continued to bother me every time the issue was mentioned in the text. Collapse )

In addition, I felt that often the language and sensibilities were too modern. Still Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart series and Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle Trilogy were both prone to this tendency. I was still able to enjoy those novels and the same was true here. Overall, I felt the author's heart was in the right place and also appreciated that she was seeking to highlight the limited opportunities available to women during the period even if she over-simplified the issue.

US cover
In terms of the cover art, while the UK publishers stuck to objects it is commendable that Lee's US publisher's resisted the trend for 'whitewashing' cover art and used a model that reflected Mary's mixed race (her mother was Irish and father a Chinese seaman). A few reviewers on Goodreads were disappointed that the novel didn't explore much of Mary's heritage. However, this made sense in the context of the times and Mary's desire to conceal her background and pass as Irish. I felt that Lee was not trying to gloss over the racism prevalent in Victorian society. Of course, there was also strong anti-Irish prejudice during the period. There was some foreshadowing that Mary will be exploring more of her Asian heritage in the later books.

I certainly plan on reading more of this series as despite my timey-whimey quibbles it was a fun romp and Mary proved a lively and appealing heroine.

Y.S. Lee page on 'A Spy in the House' - includes link to excerpt.