Tag Archives: Gaudy Night

Whatcha Reading…? 2/15/2017 Book Update

My last Watcha Reading Update was in September…whoops! (Still working on An Autobiography…Sort of. It is somewhere in my room. Probably.) 

I’ve read quite a few books since then, mostly fiction, which don’t fit in the Watcha Reading format very well. I don’t usually read them all at the same time. However, my ban on getting anything new from the library until I’ve read what I have has got me juggling several books at once. I just finished Reading Women: How The Great Works of Feminism Changed My Life by Stephanie Staal and the audio book The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I am currently reading The Story Girl by Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Candymakers by Wendy Mass, and re-reading Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. I’ve got The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad on audio book. 

Reading Women was disappointing. I didn’t expect to agree with the author’s take on the feminist texts, but I hoped to at least feel challenged. Instead I was bored. At 29, the author gets married, has a kid, and moves from New York City to Annapolis. The book emerges from her struggle to “be a Mom” and a “have a career.” I might have been more sympathetic if the author and her husband didn’t both work from home and co-parent their one child and if the move didn’t entail buying a three story house. Her “rediscovery” of feminist texts such as A Vindication of the Rights of Women, The Yellow Wallpaper, and The Feminine Mystique made for only a nominally interesting read that I nearly gave up on several times. However, you won’t find this one in my end of the year 1 star reviews, because despite my annoyance with the author’s first world problems, I found I did like the author and she takes a stance against pornography which I appreciated. So…1.5 stars. 

I read The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins this year and enjoyed it so I figured I would enjoy Collins’s other famous novel, The Woman in White. However, it wasn’t as good. It was very Gothic, dramatic, and dull. I didn’t like any of the characters and the females were always fainting or wishing they were a man. It was interesting enough to keep me engaged for over 25 hours, but not one I’d read again. 

I’m not very far into The Story Girl, but I’ve struggled to keep myself interested. The book is only 177 pages so I assumed I would whip through it in an afternoon. However, I’m confused by the multitude of characters and bogged down by the weirdly cramped font of this copy. I like the idea of it, though, and am pretty sure I’ll get into it more the farther I go.  

The Candymakers was recommended to me by my cousin Ella years ago and I am only now getting to it (sorry, Ella!) I like it so far! It is super creative and reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory while still feeling original. The book is 450 pages and I’m only 100 pages in, but I like how several underlying mysteries have surfaced. There is the overt plot (who will win the competition?) but also some subtle ones (why did The Candymaker stop all tours?) I look forward to seeing how it all plays out! 

Gaudy Night is book 12 in the Lord Peter Wimsey series, and probably my favorite of all of them. I love anything by Dorothy L. Sayers but this books is particularly well done. There isn’t as much mystery but there is a lot of discussion about being a woman and an academic. Also, it takes place at Oxford University, so every line paints a familiar picture for me. We’re reading this in one of the book clubs I belong to and I’m excited to discuss it more fully with my friends. 

Finally, I am listening to The Secret Agent. This is my third try with this book, once before in print and once audio, but this time I am determined to finish it. I didn’t make it through Heart of Darkness but I will make it through this one!

2015 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 1

Based on the vast number of good books I read this year, I have broken this post into three parts to help readability. As usual, books are not laid out in any specific way, but in the random order ordained by Goodreads (and myself!) See any favorites?


Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched A Hundred Years of Federalism by Mark Curriden and Leroy Phillips

Rarely do you find biographies so readable and uniquely connected to everyday life. Contempt of Court covers the trial and lynching of Ed Johnson, an African American accused of raping a white woman in 1906. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, a judge found him guilty and sentenced him to death. The U.S. Supreme Court intervened and eventually went so far as to hold those connected to his lynching in contempt of court. This case was the only time the Supreme Court ever heard a criminal case. United States v. Shipp did more than decide one man’s guilt or innocence. It declared the Supreme Court had authority over a state criminal court case. This both reflected and launched a new age of federal involvement. Very worth reading.

Strong Poison (book 6), Gaudy Night (book 12), and Busman’s Honeymoon (book 13) by Dorothy L. Sayers

These are all books in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. To be honest, I love them all and if you haven’t discovered the brilliance that is Dorothy L. Sayers, you really need to. Her mysteries are intellectual and intriguing and Sir Peter Wimsey is wonderful. However, these three were my absolute favorites. (If you know the series, you’ll realize all these books involve Harriet Vane. She is fabulous.) What is great, though, is that they are all wonderful in equally different ways. Strong Poison involves a cold case, where the murder happened months earlier and now Sir Peter must piece together the clues. Gaudy Night takes place at Oxford and is very soul-searching and academic. Busman’s Honeymoon is everything a fangirl could want for the couple she’s been shipping for 6 books. Oh, so good. I want to go re-read them right now.

The Science of Success by Charles Koch

Easy to understand and filled with helpful principles, this is an “abbreviated” predecessor of Good Profit. It was designed for more internal use and that comes across. Certainly worth reading for a better understanding of Market Based Management and Koch Industries. There are lots of interesting stories and it really is a good grounding in MBM. However. Good Profit is now out. Go read that one.

The Queen’s Thief Series by Megan Whalen Turner

If you want to be technical, only The King of Attolia (book 3) and A Conspiracy of Kings (book 4) got 5 stars from me, but the entire series is totally worth it. While the first book, The Thief, feels a little slow, it has a terrific twist at the end. Plus, the series picks up and gets better and better and BETTER. It has adventure, battles, romance, plot twists. The series will break your heart a million different ways, every one of them worth it. I can’t really give plot descriptions without giving something away, so just go read it already. (There are some mature themes, so I recommended for high schoolers on up)

Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti by Chad Eastham

Chad Eastham’s book Guys Like Girls Who… played an influential role in my life in high school. It was great reading him again. Guys Are Waffles, Girls Are Spaghetti is aimed at teenagers and talks about the different ways guys and girl function. It covers a myriad of topics like brain development, emotions, and relationships. Funny, serious, and easy to read, the book is a mix of stories, facts, and zany quips.  Even “outside” of the intended age group, I found it very helpful. Highly recommended, especially for teenagers.

Plain Kate by Erin Bow

A dark, twisted children’s book that breaks your heart but is eminently worth it. The story is very reminiscent of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale. “Plain” Kate is a woodcarver, left on the streets to fend for herself after her parents die. Her woodwork is beautiful, but many whisper that she is a witch. In order to escape the accusations, Kate makes a bargain with a mysterious man: her shadow in exchange for her heart’s wish. Gypsies, magic, and love all come to play in this lyrical story.

Disclaimer: I do not recommend this book to just anyone, and certainly not the intended age group. Plain Kate involves witchcraft, raising the dead, and sacrifices. While many of these things are treated in a negative light, I know many of my readers will not like it.