Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We Interrupt This Blog. . .

I started this blog with the intention of giving myself extra encouragement and a way to be accountable for tasks around the house.  It hasn't worked out as I had planned, but so little actually does!  =)  Trying to blog about my week in review and plans for the next week has begun to feel like an unpleasant (and dreaded) chore instead of an interesting way to help me stay on task.  I plan to step away from this blog (yes, even the book lists, challenges, etc..) and concentrate on other things for now.

On another topic. .. May your Thanksgiving be occasioned by true thankfulness.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Review of Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings
Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
2/5 stars

Princesses Behaving Badly is a collection of mini-biographies (ranging from a few paragraphs to a few pages) of various royal (or royal-wannabe) women over a wide selection of history and cultures. The premise is that these are rebellious women who broke with the traditions of society, and promised to be a highly entertaining and interesting book.

Unfortunately, McRobbie writes about her subjects in a colloquial, flippant and at times campy style, which detracts from the subject matter. I've no doubt she intends to be humorous and accessible, but (for me) it clashed with the seriousness of her topic. For example, her use of terms like "crazy cat lady", "baby maker", and "broad" feels derogatory, not funny.

In a book that is supposed to be lauding women who are not typical of society's expectations, McRobbie manages to portray many of these ladies in a negative, as opposed to a neutral, light. Conversely to the premise, McRobbie appears to judge their actions by the very standards that these "princesses" faced in their own time. I was very disappointed by this; I had expected Princesses to be more on the lines of the "Uppity Women" series.

There is no doubt that the information was truly interesting, but I think the book would have benefited from more detailed biography on fewer subjects, instead of the small amount given on a large number. Photos or illustrations would also be helpful; I don't know if these will be included in the final copy.

Another point of irritation for me was the cover. It shows a slovenly drunk woman and a passionate lesbian kiss, neither of which actually occur in the book. I felt that this again was an example of trying to be humorous about the topic, but instead it depicted women in a manner that is supposed to be insulting (the drunk) and shocking/titillating (the kiss).

Overall, I was disappointed in this book as (based on the cover blurb) I expected it to be a celebration of individuality, of rule breaking, of women who didn't "stay in their place". Instead, it appeared as if McRobbie couldn't make up her mind as to whether she wanted to promote or condone this "bad behavior"; she seems to send mixed messages.

If McRobbie had approached her topic with a less jokey tone and had seemed to respect her "princesses" more, I think it could have been an excellent read. As it was, I would not recommend it. If this is a topic of interest, I would instead recommend the "Uppity Women" series by Vicki Leon, or Royal Pains by Leslie Carroll.

I was given this book by the Amazon Vine program in return for an honest review.

On a personal note: What the deuce?!  Who is her intended audience?  I can't see it being well received by feminist readers. . . perhaps she intends it for young adults?  If so, I wouldn't recommend it for that audience either.  

I'm just puzzled by her attitude toward her subject.  I was so turned off by her slangy language and the disrespect that I felt she was showing these women, that I could hardly finish it.  

That being said, there are many positive reviews by others that didn't feel the way I did.  If anyone would like to give it a try, let me know and I'll mail it to you.  Some of it is truly interesting, if you don't mind her style.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

October Book List

October 2013
Reading List

This month I did more cross stitching than any thing, so I didn't actually read many books.

It was  good month for audio books, as most that  I listened to were stellar and highly recommendable.

Books Read

  1. Anne of Windy Poplars (1936) by Lucy Maude Montgomery
    I am thoroughly enjoying this gentle series!
  2. Princesses Behaving Badly (2013) by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
    Negative review coming soon.

Audio Books:

  1. The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988) by Diana Wynne Jones
    A reread; I love this series!
  2. Overture to Death (1939) by Ngaio Marsh
    I was fairly certain of the culprit early on, but enjoyed the narrative and characters tremendously.
  3. The Maltese Falcon (1930) by Dashiel Hammet
    I cannot believe how good this was!  I can't believe I waited so long to read it!
  4. Towards Zero (1944) by Agatha Christie
    Excellent mystery; kept me confused til the end.
  5. A Damsel in Distress (1919) by P.G. Wodehouse
    A delightful tale, typical of Wodehouse.  I knew from the first chapter what the happy endings would be, but that didn't lessen the enjoyment.
  6. Little Women (1868/9) by Louisa May Alcott
    I had only read a child's annotated version before this, and yet have devoured all I can find of her sensation stories, so the heavy, preachy tone surprised me.  I still enjoyed it, but not as much as I do her ridiculous thrillers.
  7. And Then There Were None (1939) by Agatha Christie
    A long-time favorite; this time I actually remembered "whodunnit", but still had a hard time believing it.  This is such a great mystery.
  8. The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013) by Robert Gailbraith
    This was an excellent book and I highly recommend it; well plotted, with excellent character development.  Looking forward to more in this series.
  9. Crooked House (1949) by Agatha Christie
    I figured out the murderer just a few pages before the startling answer was revealed; another highly recommended Christie. 
  10. The Silver Linings Playbook (2008) by Matthew Quick
    I strongly identified with Pat.  This book was beautiful, funny and poignant.  I recommend it universally.  I will say this, though: I looked at a few of the film clips and from what I could tell, the movie took pivotal, beautiful scenes and farce-ified them.  Read the book, skip the movie.
  11. The Black Angel (1943) by Cornell Woolrich
    Stunningly good noir; highly recommend.  This is my second time reading Woolrich and both were fantastic.
  12. The Marseilles Caper (2012) by Peter Mayle 
    I can't say that the book had a very riveting plot, and yet I kept listening to see what would happen next.  I enjoyed it enough that I'm planning to read another of this series.

Looking Back on October

This October was a gorgeous month: we had mostly enjoyable weather, and the autumn colors were brilliant and long-lasting.  I love October. . .  As Anne Shirley says, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Despite this, October was a difficult month for me--hence my disappearance from blogging.  I was unable to stick to my tasks, and did not accomplish much.  I'm trying to ignore that part of the month, though, and focus on the good.

  • We finally got the water situation resolved!  We are now on "city water" (though I suppose it's more "county water", or perhaps I should say "pay-per-flush". . . ) and I am ecstatic about it.  No more muddy water when we have big rains, no more lime-y water that cakes on every thing, and most importantly, no more worries about e.Coli.

    I expect the first bill will be a shock, and I'll have to conserve more than I have been accustomed, but it will still be well worth the cost!

  • Mom's birthday was in October.  She and I celebrated with a mother-daughter day: lunch out and a bit of shopping.  I am so blessed that she lives close by, now.  It is such a pleasure to spend time with her.
  • I finished The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery's Autumn Sampler.

     I still think the second square is my favorite, I just love those leaves!  Number twenty-two is a close second.

    Of course, I adore all the kawaii foods and objects, too.  That is how I found the Frosted Pumpkin--googling for kawaii cross stitch patterns!

    My husband settled on number 23 as his favorite, which is also lovely.  Nineteen, too, with the night sky and full moon.

    I am proud of the fabric, too.  I used chocolate brown Rit and dyed it just lightly to make the pale rusty color.  I am enjoying making my own fabric colors; I may never buy colored cloth again!

  • I took a photo every day in October!  This is a big deal, as I consider photo taking a type of therapy.  Last year, I took a photo nearly every day for the entire year.  I had not done so well up until October.

    Here is one of my favorites from the month:

I am trying hard to snap out of my funk, and I hope that in November (another month I love, with my favorite non-birthday holiday) I can do this.  I am thankful for so much; I just want to be able to show it!