August is a Wrap #ReadersWorkouts

Readers' workouts
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Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

I met my August goals at about 7pm last night! 1300 minutes of exercise in August including 21 days with 8000 or more steps and eight strength-training sessions.

Since that’s working for me, I’m setting the same goals for September!

How is your exercise going?



Black Dove, White Raven #BookReview

Book: Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Genre: YA
Publisher: Hyperion
Publication date: 2015
Pages: 357

Source: Library

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein
Barnstorming, Ethiopia, and the build-up to World War II

Summary: Teodros Dupré and Emilia Menotti are raised as brother and sister by their aviator mothers, one black and one white, who perform as Black Dove and White Raven while barnstorming across America. Most of the book, though, is set in Ethiopia during the events leading up to the 1936 invasion by Italy — a precursor to World War II that I knew nothing about.

As in Elizabeth Wein’s previous World War II era books (Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire), Black Dove, White Raven is a story told in documents. In this case, the documents are those blue notebooks used for writing themes. At first, they are used for themes (natch) assigned by a teacher of Teo and Em. Later, the two young people use the notebooks for fantasy stories and flight logs.

All of these documents, according to an introduction in the form of a letter, are given to the Emperor of Ethiopia, as a way to tell the story of Em and Teo in the hopes it will garner sympathy and a favor. It’s not until the end of the book that the reader fully understands the favor being asked. We read over the shoulder of the Emperor to learn the story ourselves.

Ethiopia
Ethiopia. I needed a little geography help.

Thoughts: Like Wein’s previous book, Rose Under Fire, this book starts with an introduction that tells the end of the story before shooting back to the beginning. In Rose Under Fire, I appreciated that introduction because the story was so harrowing that I needed the reassurance of knowing Rose will end up safely in Paris. I appreciated the introduction of Black Dove, White Raven for the opposite reason — it promises an exciting end to a story that has many calm and beautiful moments.

Appeal: Black Dove, White Raven will appeal to lovers of history (especially World War II and aviation), documentary novels, and the previous books by Elizabeth Wein.

Diversity on the Shelf 2015Challenges: This book is my sixth one for the Diversity on the Shelf Challenge since Teo and his mother, as well as many of the characters in Ethiopa, are people of color. Or, let’s use a term I learned recently in a workshop: People of the Global Majority. I pledged to read at least seven books for this challenge in 2015, so I’m going to meet that goal handily.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

Not Always a Saint #BookReview #BriFri

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, Heather continued recounting her recent trip to England with fun stories and beautiful photos of the grounds at Hampton Court. Sim gave us more family stories and described her trepidation at visiting a barely known grandmother in north England. Becky reviewed the third book in the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd, A Bitter Truth, and the biography that Elizabeth Gaskell wrote about Charlotte Brontë, The Life of Charlotte Brontë.


Book: Not Always a Saint by Mary Jo Putney, book #7 in the Lost Lords series
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication date: 2015
Pages: 352

Source: Provided by the author via NetGalley for a reviewer fan club that I joined. I don’t normally do that sort of thing, but Mary Jo Putney has been my favorite author for, oh, say, twenty-five years. I guess that makes me a fan!

Not Always a Saint by Mary Jo Putney
The story of Daniel (Laurel’s brother) and Jessie.

Summary: Daniel’s life is full — he’s both a doctor and a vicar. He runs a busy clinic in Bristol alongside his sister’s project, a home for abused women. Daniel’s familial relationships, though, are practically at zero. His sister reunited with her husband and spends her time in London and Kent, his parents recently passed away, and the love of his life died years ago when he was away at college. He was fine with all of that until he unexpectedly inherited an estate and a title. Taking advice from his brother-in-law, who is more experienced in this business of being a lord, he heads off to London as a man in want of a wife.

Jessie is also adjusting to changed circumstances. Her elderly husband has died, leaving their young daughter an heiress but also in danger. She is in want of a protector. But, her hidden wicked past causes her to reject Daniel. She doesn’t need a saint as a suitor.

Thoughts: As I wrote last week (a review of the most recent books in Jo Beverley’s Company of Rogues series), I enjoy historical romances set in England. The majority of those take place during the Regency period, from 1811 to 1820, thanks to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. Mary Jo Putney was one of the novelists who bridged the transition from the sweet, short Traditional Regency Romance to the longer format Historical Romance set during the Regency. I started reading these novels at that time, since I much preferred the deeper characterizations and varied settings of the Historical Romances.

Putney’s specialty is complex characters with tortured pasts. The glory of the romance, of course, is that the reader can count on love as a healing force — no matter the problem, love is the answer.

Daniel is a character that Putney readers already love — he’s the brother of Laurel, the heroine of the previous book in this series, Not Quite a Wife. It’s not necessary to read the whole Lost Lords series to enjoy this book (although, it’s lovely, so I definitely recommend it), but I think it’s best to read Not Quite a Wife before reading Not Always a Saint so that you enjoy the full effect of getting to know Daniel over time.

Jessie is a new character and the more tortured one of the pair. Often, it’s the Putney hero with the darker past and the heroine who provides the healing, so this is a nice twist in the genre.

The English settings, especially the interiors of the various houses, are wonderfully drawn in Not Always a Saint. I went to bed each night after reading this book with the fantasy of yet another beautiful home.

Check out the Word Wenches blog — it’s Mary Jo Putney, Jo Beverley, and a slate of other authors who mostly write historical romance. They take turns writing posts and have kept it going for over nine years!

Appeal: For lovers of the historical romance in England.

 



Last Week of August #ReadersWorkouts

Readers' workouts
banner designed by Isi

Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

Let’s see if I think I’ll meet my goals for August:

  • 1015 of 1300 exercise minutes, 285 minutes left, 41 minutes per day
  • 17 of 21 days with 8000 steps, 4 more days to go
  • 6 of 8 strength-training sessions, 2 more to go

That all sounds very doable. I just need to keep at it the way I’ve been doing the rest of the month.

How is your exercise going?




Chrysanthemums at the Lantern Festival #SaturdaySnapshot

This is my fourth, and final, post in a series about the representations of flowers in the Chinese Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden this summer. Here are the previous ones:

Today, I’ve got photos of two lantern displays that talk about chrysanthemums, one of my favorite flowers because they put on such a beautifully colored display in the autumn.

First, let’s look at the Double Ninth Festival lantern.

Double Ninth Festival, Chinese Lantern, Missouri Botanical Garden
This large scene represents the celebration of the Double Ninth Festival in China.

 

The double nine is for the 9th day of the 9th month. In the lunar-based calendar used by China, that festival floats around in our October — this year, it’s on October 21.

According to the Guide book that accompanies the exhibit:

The Double Ninth Festival celebrates chrysanthemums. China boasts diversified species of chrysanthemums, and people have loved them since ancient times. So enjoying the flowering chrysanthemum is a key activity of this festival. People will drink chrysanthemum tea or wine, and women may put chrysanthemums into their hair or hang them in windows or doors to ward off evil. p. 16

The festival is also a time to celebrate and honor the elders and ancestors of a community.

Double Ninth Festival, Chinese Lantern, Missouri Botanical Garden
An honored elder at the Double Ninth Festival

Another showy display of chrysanthemums lines a pathway where day lilies bloomed earlier in the summer. The Guide tells us that there are 37 species in the genus Chrysanthemum — 13 of them are known only from China. Since the flowers bloom in the fall, they are associated with longevity and “people who maintain their virtue despite adversity and temptation.” What a lovely trait in a person!

Double Ninth Festival, Chinese Lantern, Missouri Botanical Garden
Chrysanthemum Pathway

If you aren’t familiar with chrysanthemums, here’s a photo of some real flowers — an annual display at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Chrysanthemums, Missouri Botanical Garden
Chrysanthemums come in lots of varieties. The loose large flowers, here, on tall stalks are one type. The flowers cascading over the wall are another.

The Lantern Festival has been extended due to popular demand. You have until August 30 to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden and see these beautiful lanterns.

Check out West Metro Mommy Reads today for more Saturday Snapshots.

Company of Rogues #BookReviews #BriFri

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, Mark Baker reviewed Malice in the Palace (isn’t that a great title?) at Carstairs Considers.

Sim shared more of her trip to England when she was a young woman on her personal blog. She also linked up her take on The Girl on the Train, the book I reviewed last week, at Chapter 1 – Take 1. I loved her choices for casting the characters for the movie version.

Karen at Booker Talk reviewed The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan, a title on the 2015 long list for the Man Booker Prize.

Carole of Carole’s Book Corner reviewed the mystery novel Cold Revenge by Jo A Hiestand. I was thrilled to learn that the author lives in St. Louis, like I do, even though she writes novels set in Britain.


Book: A Shocking Delight and Too Dangerous for a Lady by Jo Beverley, books #15 and #16 in the Company of Rogues series
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Signet
Publication date: 2014 and 2015
Pages: 432 and 432

Source: purchased as e-books

A Shocking Delight by Jo BeverleySummary: A Shocking Delight and Too Dangerous for a Lady are the latest additions to the long running Company of Rogues series by Jo Beverley. These novels are set during the Regency period in England — from 1811 to 1820, when King George the Third was considered unfit to rule and his son, the Prince Regent (later King George the Fourth), took on the powers of the monarch.

In A Shocking Delight, a merchant’s daughter takes an opportunity to mix with London society during the season. She doesn’t fit in particularly well, but neither does the Earl of Wyvern who never expected to be an Earl but desperately requires a wife with money to set things right in his coastal village. Smuggling is a theme of this novel with different characters representing opposing views so that the reader gets a good understanding of the issue.

Too Dangerous for a Lady contains more political intrigue and a less compromising approach — the bad guys and gals are really bad and the reader has plenty of good characters to root on to victory. Our heroine is a lady from an impoverished family off to visit a dying rich uncle who might improve her fortune. The identity of our hero is a bit more complicated with a warrior’s past, a spy’s present, and a future that may or may not be able to accommodate our heroine.

Too Dangerous for a Lady by Jo BeverleyThoughts: I think I’ve read all of this series, but there was a several year break between the publication of book #14, Lady Beware, and these two books published in the last couple of years. The previous books in the Company of Rogues series were published before I started using Goodreads or keeping this blog — my records about books read before then are very spotty!

The Regency is the time period when Jane Austen wrote her contemporary novels. Their popularity to the modern day led to that era being a common setting for historical romances. When I was younger, there were still series books that are now called Traditional Regency Romances that were formulaic, sweet, and short. I never enjoyed those as much as the newer genre, Regency Historical Romances, that are darker, more nuanced, and long enough to really sink into the time period and the characters.

Jo Beverley, like others of my favorite romance authors including Mary Jo Putney and Mary Balogh, started out in Traditional Regency and transitioned to Regency Historical Romances. I enjoyed both of these books and I’m looking forward to the next installment in the Company of Rogues, The Viscount Needs a Wife is due out in April 2016. According to the summary on Jo Beverley’s website, this book will feature a hero who appeared as a sidekick in Too Dangerous for a Lady. That will be fun — Braydon was a great character that I’ll enjoy getting to know better.

Jo Beverley has a terrific resource on her website outlining the use of aristocratic titles in England in the 18th and 19th century. She wrote it primarily for writers, but it’s also a great reference for confused readers, including how to pronounce the words Marquess and Marchioness.

Do you read romances set during the Regency period?



Write On #ReviewAThon

Write On Review-a-thonBrianna, the Book Vixen, is hosting another of her Review-a-thons for three days at the end of the month. I find these so helpful to get caught up when I’m behind on my reviews!

Here’s what I’m planning to review (and this is assuming that I get a couple of others written before that weekend):

  • Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (complete & scheduled for tomorrow)
  • Doughnuts & Deadly Schemes by Janel Gradowski (complete & scheduled for Saturday’s Weekend Cooking)
  • Witnessing Whiteness by Shelly Tochluk
  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • [Added] One Flea Spare (play) by Naomi Wallace (complete & scheduled for September 4)

Will you be participating in the Review-a-Thon?

Signature of Joy Weese Moll

Mid-Month Report #ReadersWorkouts

Readers' workouts
banner designed by Isi

Welcome to Readers’ Workouts, the weekly event where book lovers share workout stories, goals, successes, and challenges.

By the end of Saturday, the 15th, I was half-way through all of my exercise goals for August. That’s a good position to be in during a month with 31 days.

I’ve had a hard time getting in steps the last couple of days (busy social life!) but I made some progress on the other two goals, so I’m still in pretty good shape:

  • 730 of 1300 exercise minutes
  • 11 of 21 days with 8000 steps
  • 5 of 8 strength-training sessions

How is your exercise going?



Lotus Girl and the Dragon King #LanternFestival #SaturdaySnapshot

The father in the story
A father promises his daughter’s hand in marriage to the Dragon King

The Chinese legend of the  Lotus Girl and the Dragon King reminded me of the western tale of the Beauty and the Beast. In this version, the father of the beautiful girl is blind and falls into a water hole. The Dragon King agrees to rescue the father from drowning in exchange for the daughter’s hand in marriage. The Dragon King proves to be a better husband than one would expect, but the daughter misses her father. In a loving gesture, The Dragon King returns the girl to Earth as a lotus flower so she can be with her father again.

Lotus Girl lantern
The daughter, returned to earth as a lotus flower

Lotus flowers bloom for a very short time at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Here’s a photo I took a few years ago when I managed to get to the Garden on the right day.

Lotus flowers and leaves
Lotus flowers bloom in June, often for just a few days

This is my third in a series of posts about the representations of flowers in the Lantern Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden this summer.

Next week — chrysanthemums!

The Lantern Festival continues at the Missouri Botanical Garden through August 23, open nightly and with extended hours some nights. Information about the Lotus Girl and the Dragon King came from the guide, Lantern Festival: Magic Reimagined.

Check out West Metro Mommy Reads today for more Saturday Snapshots.

[Added] Check out a more detailed version of this story that Carol wrote up for her Thursday’s Tales feature on Carol’s Notebook.

a librarian writes about books