Google+ The Introverted Reader

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted at Book Journey

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

As predicted, I haven't had time to post much in February and March probably won't be any better. But here's what I've been up to since February 8.

Posted:
Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times at Biltmore Estate--Costumes from Downton Abbey are on display at the Vanderbilts' estate here in Asheville, NC. It's a must-see for fans of the show!

Read:

Cover of A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin--4 Stars


Cover of Hawaii by James Michener
Hawaii by James A. Michener--3 Stars


Cover of Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael
Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, read by Rosalyn Landor--3 Stars


Cover of All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg
All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg--4 Stars

Currently Reading:
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, translated by Simon Pare

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, read by Cassandra Campbell, translated by Kevin Wiliarty

Up Next:
I need to get started on Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning as soon as I finish one of my print books.

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times at Biltmore Estate


I'm pretty sure I've never mentioned Downton Abbey here on the blog, but I am a big fan! My husband and I started watching it late and we're slow series watchers, so we only caught up right before the new season started in January here in the US. I can't believe tonight's already the season finale! No spoilers, please! I won't be able to watch it until later in the week.

Biltmore Estate
A photo of the Biltmore house my husband took several years ago
So, anyway, we are incredibly lucky here in Asheville, NC. One of our biggest tourist attractions is Biltmore Estate, a huge house castle? built by the Vanderbilts in the style of a French chateau. It's beautiful. My husband and I spend a lot of time there, wandering the grounds, biking, and catching outdoor concerts. But now they've outdone themselves.

They've brought costumes from Downton Abbey to display throughout the house! Aaaaahhhhhh!!!! I was so excited when I saw this exhibit was coming! It opened on February 5 but yesterday was the first opportunity we've had to check it out.

Oh my gosh. The costumes are gorgeous! And there are so many! There are over 45, many of them very iconic outfits that we immediately recognized. Each costume has information posted about it in the room, detailing whether it was a new piece or a vintage piece from the era, the details of the fabric and decorations, which character wore it (generally including a picture of that character in the costume), and which episode it appeared in. I really liked being able to orient myself to the show like that. There were very few rooms in the upstairs part of the house that didn't have at least one costume displayed. The downstairs (servants' quarters) didn't have very many, but how many maid uniforms do you really need to see?

The surroundings were perfectly suited for the display. The Vanderbilts lived in Biltmore at around the same time that Downton takes place. The house is richly decorated, giving the feel of the show. I can't tell you how many times I've toured the Biltmore house over the years, but seeing these costumes on display brought it to life for me. Instead of museum-like spaces, I was finally able to see it as a place where real (albeit unbelievably wealthy) people lived and breathed.

We were a group of six, including me, my aunt, our husbands, and my two teenage cousins. I think we were all thrilled with the exhibit, even the men!

Photos aren't allowed in the house, but I was able to take a picture of one of Lady Violet's outfits in one of the gift shops.


We were in a bit of a hurry so there may be more scattered in other shops and spaces that I haven't found yet. I intend to go back before the exhibit ends on May 25, so I'll post more pictures here if I find any other unexpected displays.

This gift shop also had a wide variety of Downton merchandise for sale. Of course. But it was really cool. From t-shirts to DVDs to books to fragrances inspired by each of the Downton women to hats to jewelry, there is something for every taste and every budget here.

Here's a link to an official photo gallery of some of the costumes on display. The first few pictures are stills from the show but the rest are photos of the display at Biltmore.

If you're going to be anywhere near Asheville before May 25 and you're a fan of Downton Abbey, you have to stop by and see this! The house was packed yesterday, but it was absolutely worth the slight agoraphobia. The display is amazing!

If you do go, call ahead to make reservations for your house entry time as soon as you know you're going. I was with family members who had free passes that expired today. We tried calling Friday night to make reservations and were told that the only entry time they had for the house for the whole weekend was at 7:00 pm on Sunday night. We took a chance and drove out there Saturday morning and were lucky to get a 1:45 entry time on the same day. We were a bit nervous about it though, so do yourself a favor and plan ahead.

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted at Book Journey

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

We had a beautiful weekend! 60-65 degree temperatures and blue, sunny skies. That's practically unheard of for early February here! I was busy yesterday and didn't get to enjoy much of it but today my husband and I got out for a walk. It was nice to be out without a coat on! Although I was still looking at the people in tank tops and short like they were crazy. Let's not get too carried away, now.

I'll probably be laying low around here for the next month or so. My sister and I are planning our parents' 40th anniversary party next month and I'm spending a week with my in-laws. Busy, busy!

Posted:
Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer--4 Stars

Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger--3 Stars

Review: Good Omens: The BBC Radio 4 Dramatization by Terry Patchett and Neil Gaiman--3 Stars

Read:
Nothing finished this week.

Currently Reading:
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, read by Rosalyn Landor

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

Up Next:
I'll probably finish those last two but I'm not sure what I'll be in the mood for. Probably something light and frothy to balance out A Dance with Dragons!

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Good Omens: The BBC Radio 4 Dramatization by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cover of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
3 Stars

In a hospital in England, the anti-Christ is born, making unlikely allies of the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale. They've both spent quite a bit of time on Earth and they actually kind of like the place. They're not ready for the End of Days. So they set out to make sure it doesn't happen.

I read this book about half a lifetime ago, which makes me feel a little old. I really enjoyed it. When I saw that it was going to be adapted for radio by the BBC and we could stream it on our side of the pond, I was excited.

I think I was a little distracted as I was listening to it. I only listened to it around the house so I could stream it over our wifi. And of course I was puttering around as I listened. I laughed in all the right places but it felt disjointed to me. I think that's at least partly because I would get focused on whatever I was doing for a minute or two and then try to pick up the thread of the narrative again. Also, the BBC app is terrible. I could only listen to five minutes at a time before the audio started whistling at me, so then I'd have to exit completely out and go back in to listen to the next five minutes. That shows some sort of dedication on my part, doesn't it, that I listened to the whole thing like that?

Also, (I'm afraid to say this), I tend to love Neil Gaiman's books but I've never been a huge Terry Pratchett fan. My sister has tried to get me to read the Discworld books forever. I've read a few. I enjoyed one and the others were just too random and over the top for me. That's how Good Omens felt to me now. I don't know if my taste has changed or if it just stood out to me more in this format.

The adaptation was very well done though. I haven't listened to many (if any) other radio adaptations, and I liked the full cast and the sound effects. I can't think of any weaknesses in that aspect of things.

I don't know if this is still available, but fans of the book should definitely check it out. I think I just had too many other things going on because I really should have loved it.

Check out the BBC Radio 4 Good Omens page.

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Cover of Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
3 Stars

Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has taken boys on board and is heading to London. Sophronia knows that something is afoot, if she can only figure out just what it is. Someone seems to be determined to kidnap Dimity and her brother (What is his name? I can't be bothered to look it up just at this moment), and Sophronia's friends aren't speaking to her.

Hmmm...I loved this while I was reading it and laughed my way through several parts, even going so far as to read them to my husband. But now that I'm sitting down to write my review a couple of weeks later, I find that I've forgotten most of the book. I'm going to knock it back a star. I think it's fallen prey to the "filler" curse. How often does book two of a series only feel like filler? Entirely too often for my taste.

The book was as witty and charming as I expect Gail Carriger's books to be. I loved that Lord Akeldama finally made an appearance. He will eat Sophronia up! Hopefully not intentionally. I actually enjoyed the triangle that is forming between Sophronia, spoiled Lord Felix, and down-to-earth Soap. I'm Team Soap all the way! I fear that it's a doomed relationship before it even gets started though.

The whole thing with the other girls shunning Sophronia felt very forced. She's a smart girl and she should have realized what was going on. I guess sometimes it's hard to see it when you're right in the middle of things though.

And I think that's all I have to say about that. I'll definitely continue with the series, I just hope the next installment is a bit stronger.

Read an excerpt.

Check out my 4-star review of the first in the series, Etiquette & Espionage.

Find author Gail Carriger on her website, her blog, and Facebook.

Buy Curtsies & Conspiracies at


I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cover of Cress by Marissa Meyer
4 Stars

Holy smokes. When does the next one come out? November? *sigh*

I don't even know how to summarize this one. Cinder, Scarlet, Captain Thorne, Wolf, and Iko are doing their best to eliminate the threat that Queen Levana and her Lunar army present to Earth. They're in contact with Levana's chief hacker, lonely Cress, imprisoned on a satellite with no means to cut her lovely locks. That's right--Rapunzel has made her way into the story.

For some reason, I thought this series was a trilogy, so I expected everything to be wrapped up neatly. I just got more and more stressed out as everything fell apart. Let's face it--Cinder and company are very much the underdogs. But things just got worse and worse and worse for them!

I seem to remember missing Cinder and Emperor Kai in Scarlet. They were there but not as much as I would have liked them to be. I didn't mention that in my review though, so maybe I'm wrong. Either way, they were each front and center quite a bit in this book, so I was happy about that.

Scarlet and Wolf fell into the background this time though. That might not be a terrible thing. I like Wolf but Scarlet irritated me a bit. I definitely do not like where her story arc went though. Grrr...

And now it looks like the last book will bring in Snow White. I'm not sure how I feel about that. One of my friends is emphatic that Snow White is the most irritating fairy tale. Off the top of my head, I agree, at least based on the Disney movie. She doesn't really seem to have a thought in her pretty little head and people just seem to feel sorry for her. Princess Winter (read: Snow White) makes a brief appearance in Cress. She seems just as breathless, airy, and thoughtless as I would expect. Hopefully there's more to her than that first impression.

But I haven't talked about Cress at all! I like her. She's become an awkward, romantic, dreamy-eyed genius of a hacker in her isolation on that satellite. The reality of Earth is a bit much for her to take, but that all felt very real. She has her freakout moments and makes some pretty big mistakes but she eventually starts to figure things out and show some inner steel. I like her. I do have to say that the whole hair thing felt a bit superfluous and only there to establish her as Rapunzel. Other aspects of the fairy tale were worked in effectively though, even things I thought would most likely be overlooked. I was happily surprised by that!

Captain Thorne is starting to show that there's more to him than a vain flyboy. That's still mostly what he's showing to the world but he has moments where his inner hero shows through.

I do love listening to Robecca Soler narrate this series. She is young enough to fit the part and she keeps me on the edge of my seat as I'm driving. All I can say is that it's a good thing that I've been driving at weird times lately because I don't know if I would be safe to navigate in the usual bumper-to-bumper while I listen to these books!

If you enjoy this series, you won't be disappointed by Cress. If you haven't started them, pick up Cinder and give it a try. I just love these highly original re-tellings.

Read an excerpt.

Read my reviews of Cinder (Book 1) and Scarlet (Book 2).

Find author Marissa Meyer on her website, her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Cress at



I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted at Book Journey

It's Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

I didn't have too much going on this week. My grandmother came home from the assisted living facility on Thursday afternoon. Yay! Thanks for all your well-wishes!

I finally spent all my Christmas Barnes & Noble gift cards. I think I got some goodies!

From the bottom:
Trader by Charles de Lint (I used to own this one but I think I loaned it to a former co-worker and never got it back.)

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash (I loved Mr. Cash's second novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, so I decided to order his first)

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

I read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede ages and ages ago. My sister bought her own copy when we were both still at home but I never did. Until I found this box set.

Dealing With Dragons

Searching for Dragons

Calling on Dragons

Talking to Dragons

Posted:
Meeting the Authors: Sarah Addison Allen

Review: Time Stops for No Mouse by Michael Hoeye, read by Campbell Scott--3 Stars

Review: Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger--4 Stars

Read:
Cress by Marissa Meyer, read by Rebecca Soler

Currently Reading:
A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin

Romancing Miss Brontë by Juliet Gael, read by Rosalyn Landor

All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg

Up Next:
I probably won't get to anything new this week either. It usually takes me a solid month to read anything by George R. R. Martin!

What are you reading this week?

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in beautiful downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site. My opinions are completely my own.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails