Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday Shorts

The Alchemist's Daughter by Katharine McMahon
published 2006
audiobook - read by Justine Eyre

Synopsis from publisher:

There are long-held secrets at the manor house in Buckinghamshire, England, where Emilie Selden has been raised in near isolation by her father. A student of Isaac Newton, John Selden believes he can turn his daughter into a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist. Secluded in their ancient house, with only two servants for company, he fills Emilie with knowledge and records her progress obsessively.

In the spring of 1725, father and daughter begin their most daring alchemical experiment to date--they will attempt to breathe life into dead matter. But their work is interrupted by the arrival of two strangers: one a researcher, the other a dazzling young merchant. During the course of a sultry August, while her father is away, Emilie experiences the passion of first love. Listening to her heart rather than her head, she makes a choice.

Banished to London and plunged headlong into a society that is both glamorous and ruthless, Emilie discovers that for all her extraordinary education she has no insight into the workings of the human heart. When she tries to return to the world of books and study, she instead unravels a shocking secret that sets her on her true journey to enlightenment.

My thoughts:

Okay, I am definitely more tolerant in audiobooks. I don't think I would have finished this had I not been listening to it. I found Emilie to be an extremely frustrating character, and the story itself rather predictable. Several times I found myself thinking, "how much more is there?" I picked this title because I thought I remembered bloggers enjoying another of her novels, but now I'm not sure I will pick up anything else by this author.

Finished: 8/5/11
Source: South Side public library
MPAA rating: PG-13 for adult situations and allusions to violence
My rating: 5/10

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
published 6/26/12
audiobook - read by Emily Janice Card (9 hours, 3 minutes)

Synopsis from publisher:

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life - the fissures in her parents marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

My thoughts:

Well, even for a dystopia, this was bleak. I just felt like the author threw every bad thing she could think of at this poor 11-year-old. I didn't particularly care for any of the characters, and kept waiting for something to make the story worthwhile, but unfortunately didn't find it. I don't know that I would recommend this one - it just wasn't great for me at all.

Finished: 8/19/12
Source - South Side library
MPAA rating; PG for creepy, end of the world stuff and some adult situations
My rating: 4/10

Minerva: The First Volume of the Six Sisters by M.C. Beaton (Marion Chesney)
first published 1983
ebook - Kindle edition

Synopsis from author's website:

 When the Reverend Charles Armitage, an impecunious country vicar in Regency England, announces that raven-haired Minerva, the eldest of his six daughters, is to have her coming-out in London, the news is not well received by the rest of the family. Mrs. Armitage has one of her Spasms and has to be brought round by burning a quantity of feathers under her nose. Annabelle, the nearest in age to Minerva, is clearly jealous, the boys are all surly, and the other girls just start off crying.

Minerva is despatched to Town under the wing of the disreputable old Lady Godolphin. Her task - to find a rich husband and thereby restore the ailing family fortunes.

But the other five daughters will all get their chance, because Minerva is but the first volume in The Six Sisters series by Marion Chesney.

My thoughts:

When I was growing up, my mom didn't censor anything I read. If I was able to read it, I could - that's how I would up reading The Handmaid's Tale for the first time in 6th grade. Anything, that is, except these darn Regency Romances that I was inexplicably obsessed with. I don't know if it was the gorgeous covers - my public library had copies with elegant ladies on each one. I don't know if it was just the simple fact that she told me I couldn't bring them home - they have been in the back of my mind ever since. Imagine my delight in finding them available on the Kindle lending library!

Really, I understand why she didn't let me read them as a kid - they are so much fluff, I'm sure she just didn't want me to waste my time. As an adult, this novel was hilarious. Everything you could possibly want - the imperious but ultimately clueless heroine, the dashing hero who doesn't want to fall in love, the slightly crazy cast of minor characters. Exactly like cotton candy for my brain, and it was a delight.

Finished: 8/30/12
Source: Kindle lending library
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for adult situations
My rating: 7/10

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