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review 2018-11-12 03:26
The Rules of Magic
The Rules of Magic: A Novel - Alice Hoffman

I am pretty sure that I read Hoffman's Practical Magic since I've read several of her books, but it was probably in the 90s, long before I started keeping track on Goodreads. I once heard Anna Quindlen speak, and she said something I never forgot regarding certain female authors, "You can't go wrong with a book written by an Alice." This is terrific advice, and, I've found, completely accurate.

 

When I saw The Rules of Magic offered on NetGalley, I requested it right away, especially since the author considers this the first in the series, just in case I forgot the plot of the first one. (Yes, here I go with a series again, right after I said I never read them...) The family legacy of witchcraft haunts the Owens family, and you can bet that Susannah Owens' three children are not about to escape unscathed. Charged with a myriad of rules, their mother offers one that is just too compelling to ignore, "Don't fall in love." So you see where this is going — witches, spells, secret powers, and love — what's not to like? Trust me and Anna Quindlen, you can't go wrong with a book written by an Alice.

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review 2018-11-12 02:40
The Boy on the Bridge
The Boy on the Bridge - M.R. Carey

I can't really explain my fascination with these books. When I read The Girl with all the Gifts, I never imagined I would read the sequel — not because I didn't love it, but because I sometimes have the attention span of a gnat, and rarely follow up with series, trilogies, etc. because I just run out of steam. This is probably the same reason I have loyalty to only a few television shows and am quick to consider they've "jumped the shark". In any case, here I am again, reading a zombie book while my husband watches The Walking Dead (and no, I didn't give that show up, I was too chicken to even watch it.) Before I read The Boy on the Bridge, I watched the movie of The Girl with all the Gifts. Had I not been watching that on an airplane, I would have either cried in terror or shrieked like a little baby, because, despite knowing the entire plot and outcome, I was terrified.

 

The Boy on the Bridge is equally terrifying, at least to me, but in a completely satisfying way. If you have not read the first one, I am sure you can still read this as a stand-alone, but I recommend reading both no matter which order. The two stories are cleverly intertwined, so that the author considers it a sequel, prequel or equal, but that's merely semantics. Whatever he wants to call it, I'll read it. In fact, I will probably even read another. Bring on number 3.

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video 2018-11-06 14:21
The Darkest Part of the Forest - Holly Black
Insanity - Cameron Jace
Figment (Insanity Book 2) - Cameron Jace
The Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
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review 2018-11-01 14:12
The Mysteries of Udolpho / Ann Radcliffe
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe

The Mysteries of Udolpho is the story of orphan Emily St. Aubert, who finds herself separated from the man she loves and confined within the medieval castle of her aunt's new husband, Montoni. Inside the castle, she must cope with an unwanted suitor, Montoni's threats, and the wild imaginings and terrors that threaten to overwhelm her.

 

I read this book to fill the Gothic square of my 2018 Halloween Bingo card.

This is the mother of all Gothic romance, originally published in 1794. Twenty-first century readers may find themselves challenged by the style. Here is Wanda’s recommended reading instructions for The Mysteries of Udolpho:

1. Practice your patience. Readers in the 18th century weren’t in a rush and didn’t expect lean prose or fast plot development. Don’t read to a deadline if you can help it—trying to rush through will probably frustrate you further.
2. Develop your taste for scenic descriptions. Because you’re going to be reading a lot of them. Apparently good people spend a lot of time gazing at the mountains and the moon and rhapsodizing about them and bad people can’t be bothered. Now you know which kind of person you are.
3. Speaking of which, decide whether you are going to read all of the poetry & songs or not. I started to skip them about 1/3 of the way through the book. It was minutes of my life that I wasn’t going to get back.
4. Prepare yourself to be horrified, not at the so-called horrors of the book, but at the limited role of women in 18th century society. Their lives are controlled and run by the men who claim authority over them. If their wishes are listened to at all, they are lucky.
5. Prepare yourself for the boredom of women’s lives, at least upper-class women, who seem to do a lot of sitting around. You can paint, you can read, you can admire the scenery (see #2 above), you can do needlework. Sometimes, you can go for scenic walks. If you’re really lucky, your controlling men (see #4) will take you to a party. But mostly you sit around in your dreary chamber and talk to yourself.
6. There will be crying and fainting. Lots and lots of it. Or swooning or being rendered speechless. In fact the main character, Emily, seems to subsist on meals consisting of a few grapes and half a glass of wine, after staying up most of the night listening for mysterious music or watching for spectres. It’s no wonder that she tips over so easily, as she’s under-nourished and under-slept all the time.

This is where so many of the Gothic romance tropes got their start—the orphaned young woman, struggling to make her own way in the world, adored by every man who stumbles across her path—she and her true love have a communication issue which leads to a horrible misunderstanding and much suffering on both sides, until the truth comes out. Radcliffe introduces the mystery element too—who is the woman in the miniature portrait left behind by Emily’s father? Why does Emily look so much like her?

Truly, I’m glad to have read this ancestress to the Gothic romances that I’ve enjoyed since junior high school. But wow I’m also glad that writing styles and expectations have moved along.

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text 2018-10-31 13:34
Reading progress update: I've read 591 out of 654 pages.
The Mysteries of Udolpho - Ann Radcliffe

 

Almost done!  If I can finish it this evening, I'll be done all of my Halloween Bingo choices within the time limit.  Yay!

 

The pace has picked up in these, the final pages of the novel.  Emily is back in France and she is getting used to a new life there.  It remains to be seen if it will be a happy ending.

 

I will definitely have things to say in my review!

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