susanna clarke

a year-end note

early this year, to tame my spiralling expenses i made a mental note to cut back on my book purchases. for the first 10 months, rather to my surprises, i actually managed to make good on this promise — well, except for one occasion when i gave in to buy Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

ladies grace adieu

my unusual restraint started to crumble last november. the first time it happened was when i caught sight of Susanna Clarke‘s The Ladies of Grace Adieu. of course, being a certified Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell fan, there was no way i could have walked away from that. (and i consider that money well spent, because ms. clarke doesn’t disappoint.)

then a few minutes later, i inexplicably reached for this Jane Austen fanlit title (These Three Remain) and handed it to the cashier before i could change my mind. i really have no excuse for it, except that i was feeling nostalgic i guess. like every Jane Austen fan, i’ve always wondered what happened to elizabeth bennett and mr darcy before, during and after the events that transpired in Pride & Prejudice. i suppose, if nothing else, buying that book ought to warn me not to raise my expectations too high, and to steer away from fanlit pulp.

last legion hiccup drahon's tale

then, a couple of weeks ago, i succumbed to temptation again and bought a copy of Valerio Manfredi‘s The Last Legion. at the moment i’m plowing deep into various resources to learn more about the Roman legions, so i enjoyed the book for its entertainment value. i also managed to dip into Cressida Cowell‘s delightful Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III series. this time i snapped up How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale. as always, i find myself vastly amused and entertained by its sly humor. it’s geared for male juveniles, but if you go beyond the obvious it’s still a whole lot better than most books intended for grown-up readers.

the one book that has eluded my grasp so far is Naomi Novik‘s Victory of Eagles (book V of her Temeraire series). i am sooo tempted to buy the hardbound copy, but i think i’ll hold off for a while. at least until 2009.

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let’s talk about books baby

i haven’t have had much time to read lately, so i’m back to skimming through some of my old favorite titles. these include a number of fantasy books: Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series jsmn.jpg(His Majesty’s Dragon, Throne of Jade, The Black Powder War) and Susanna Clarke’s challenging but hugely satisfying Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. There is also John Keegan’s masterful Mask of Command and Capt. John Kincaid‘s droll autobiographical account of the Peninsular War — Adventures in the Rifle Brigade and Random Shots from a Rifleman.

i’m not sure why, but for some reason i find Napoleonic wars fascinating, particularly the Peninsular War (1808 – 1814) which took place in the Iberian Peninsula. i even plodded through vols. III and IV of Sir Charles Oman’s A History of the Peninsular War (for cryin’ out loud!), which a lot of my friends find baffling if not downright bizarre.

in fact, i have yet to meet anyone (locally at least) who shares this interest. i guess that makes me a bit of an oddball. big deal.

shelf.jpgand then, there’s my durable list of old Georgette Heyer favorites (she’s like an updated version of Jane Austen, but a lot more funnier and easier to read) and James Herriot’s stable of delightful books recounting funny and heartwarming scenes from his veterinary practice (All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, etc.)