Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for July 26, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

 

Dear Internet,

You can follow me on Pinterest on what I’m readingwatching, and listening.

Reading

Finished
sickofshadows
Sick of Shadows: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #3 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)

Our Lady of Pain: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #4 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)

(Reviews for book #1 and book #2)

There is no stretch in the research or imagination here, and if I had not been well attuned to Ms. Chesney/Beaton’s writing style from before, I would probably like the book even less but you know, at the end of the day, it’s a frippery of a read that while it may not have educated me, it did keep me entertained.

The Edwardian Mystery series provided a borderline dull, and often choppy, story arc of boy meets stubborn girl, boy handles his feelings badly, girl saves the day plotline that went three books longer than it should have. As I said in the review for the first book,
ourladyofpain

Books #3 and #4 were almost identical to books #1 and #2. There is really nothing I can say here that would be so markedly different from previous attempts to review the series other than to reiterate Beaton’s research prowess because that is where she shines.

If you’re looking for a story of substance, thought provoking, and full of win – this is not your series.

 

 

amadwickedfollyA Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads)

Something is missing from this novel. It could have been a lot more and yet, it played it safe. You knew what was going to happen in the very end, because the author made it all painfully clear this is what is going to happen through the entire book. There was no twist. No surprises. Not even a really original thought going into this book given the author’s history (she lived in England for nearly a decade and had access to primary sources) and the fairly nice bibliography at the end of the book. The book is just mediocre and a let down, but it gets 3 stars because technically it is well written, even if the storyline seems meh.

The author could have made this really beguiling and filled with wonder, but instead she made it feel tightly corseted and maybe a titch overedited.

Pros
Story was fast paced and read quickly
Plot was pretty well organized and was linear
There was not an abundance of useless characters
When the author was on point about a scene, she got it brilliantly well (but this was more rare than one would hope)

Cons
Use of language: Edwardian England is a class filled society, yet everyone spoke the same: Her parents, Will, the French boys at the atelier, and so forth. She could have least tried to make an effort, but instead, this seems sloppy and lazy.
Colloquialisms: Example: In the beginning, she had her parents say “Oxford University,” despite no one actually calls it that. She would often fob Vicky’s use of American colloquialisms onto Lucy, Vicky’s best friend from America. Considering Vicky and Lucy are not BFFs for first half of the book, this doesn’t make sense.
Flavor of the period: Despite her meticulous research, you don’t feel like you’re in Edwardian England. Something is just off when she tries inject something that would give it a hint of realism, so then it feels stilted.
Character development: Other than Will or Vicky, you don’t really get a sense of who these people are. Even Vicky’s mother, whom we find out has a connection to Vicky’s choice in life, seems to be absently shallow.

Watching

  • The Bridge
    The unbearable hotness of Demian Bichir is baaacccckkk! This time with more depressing topics. In the few episodes shown thus far, the storyline feels tighter and better thought out; there is less a million sub plots thrown against the wall to see what sticks and turning it into a hot mess. This show has grown on me but we cannot watch it every week because it’s just far too depressing.
  • Project Runway
    It’s pretty clear the series doesn’t work without Heidi Klum. Tim Gunn’s Under the Gunn was an interesting twist to the format, but it seemed stilted. Project Runway – All Stars, which is sans Klum, also doesn’t have the same appeal. Klum just cannot leave. The End.  Can we also request that Michael Kors not ever leave? Zac Pozen is no where Near Kors’ brilliance or bitchiness and Pozen feels overwrought half the time when he starts critiquing. TheHusband has already picked out who will win season 13 based on the very first episode. I wonder if he is right.
  • The Almighty Johnsons
    NZ show that is now being carried on SyFy here in the States; the premise is four brothers who become gods on their 21st birthdays, in reincarnated forms of the old Norse gods. Throw in destiny, some goddesses out to destroy, and half-hearted prophecy and boom, TV show. Interesting concept, not terribly well executed, but is loads better than what is available on most channels.

Weekly watching: The LeftoversTrue BloodRectifyHalt and Catch Fire, A Place To Call Home, Last Week Tonight with John OliverCosmos: A SpaceTime OdysseyElementary

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?

x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2010, 2008

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes for January 4, 2014

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

 

Dear Internet,

Reading

hastydeath

Hasty Death: Edwardian Murder Mysteries #2 by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

Chesney/Beaton doesn’t disappoint. You have your “oh she’s supposedly so well educated but portrays herself as a half-wit” heroine who comes from exceedingly good stock; the mysterious and fallen main male lead who “oh really publicly hates the heroine but secretly loves her” and yes, it’s all very predicable and cliche-y.

There is no stretch in the research or imagination here, and if I had not been well attuned to Ms. Chesney/Beaton’s writing style from before, I would probably like the book even less but you know, at the end of the day, it’s a frippery of a read that while it may not have educated me, it did keep me entertained.

The above was written about Snobbery With Violence and much could be said for book two in the series. Rose is still flighty as ever, Daisy is one step ahead of everyone else, and poor Captain Harry is just reviled that he could be in love with Lady Rose Summer.

I immediately started book 3 after finishing this one and what I can say about the series at this point is they make great books to use for research on Edwardian themes since Beaton was kind enough to reference many period items and sayings. But other than as reference points, the books are incredibly dull.

 Watching

  • Death Comes to Pemberley
    I finished the three part series on NYE, and my first impressions were not terribly far off. The conclusion to the mystery was kind of weak and I did a lot of eye rolling to the entire thing. Fabulous cast, many of the actors did superb jobs of their characters with what they had, but ultimately the writing, the need to have one of the characters lead us through the mystery, and the final ending was just meh.
  • Vicious Christmas special
    I could watch Sirs Jacobi and McKellen snipe and love each other till the end of time. So, so thrilled this is getting a second season.
  • The Thirteenth Tale
    Based off the book of the same name, this taut gothic televised adaptation was rather good. Surprisingly good and kept me riveted to my seat during the entire 1.5 moments. Having read the book, sure, there were moments of cliche and gloss, but overall not a bad story.
  • Cleopatra: Portrait of a Killer
    Presented by Neil Oliver, it tells the story of Princess Arsinoe, Cleopatra’s sister, who was killed to preserve Cleopatra’s line to the throne.
  • Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer
    A two part series on Henry’s creative efforts and works made in his name may or may not override his destruction of treasures later in his reign.
  • Edward VII: Prince of Pleasure
    Interesting documentary on Edward VII, for whom the Edwardian period is named, and his life, loves, and monarchy.
  • Miss Marple
    Mainlined all of the most current (season 6) of Miss Marple — the first two were excellent, as always but the last one left us a bit on the “WTF?” side. Turns out it was a later Christie story, without Marple, that was adapted to include Marple as a almost fourth wall character, but not quite. When/If this shows up on PBS, you can miss the last episode without regret.

Weekly watching: Raised by WolvesBBC Tudor Monastery Farm, Reign, DraculaProject Runway All-Stars, Breathless, Atlantis,  Elementary, Doc Martin, QIPeaky Blinders,  Sons of Anarchy,  The Vampire Diaries

Links

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?

x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2013

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes December 21, 2013

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

Dear Internet,

Reading

cocainebluesCocaine Blues: Phryne Fisher Mysteries #1 by Kerry Greenwood
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

The first book in a long series that inspired the show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, is currently available for free on the Kindle via Amazon. Since I had become obsessed with the show, it seemed natural to check in on the book series to see how it lived up.

TV and book series are pretty on par with the other. Action is high, Phryne is pretty similar in both medias, and but the character development. with the exception of Phryne, in the book series is lacking whereas the TV series feels more well thought out. Phryne is a very visual character, her frocks and accessories are very detailed in the books, as is more of her backstory is explained, but the rest of the book characters seem kind of stale in comparison to their TV counterparts. I know there had been some complaints about Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (secondary character in the books, primary in the series) and the changing of some events in the book series to the TV version actually made the storyline slightly better and still satisfying.

While I found development of the characters a bit weak, the storyline seemed abrupt at times, I am rating this a 4/5 for technique, research, and content. I also loved how Greenwood walks you through elements of the mystery without spoon feeding them to you, which is echoed in the TV version as well.

Very enjoyable and fast read. Highly recommended.

dodgerDodger by Terry Pratchett
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

A departure from Discworld, Sir TPerry takes us on a romp through the early days of Victorian London, where Charles Dickens is a journalist prowling the underbelly of streets, Prince Albert is still alive, and we’re introduced to a wealth of characters that seem almost unreal and yet, they very much are.

As most of you know, I’m a huge fan of Sir TPerry, but this book was hit or miss for me. The backstories of early Victorian London, the dialogue, the slang, the characters were all true to life. While I appreciated the nod to Dickensian themes and word styling, but there still felt like something was detached and it’s driving me crazy that I cannot put my finger on it. I read this in spurts of 50-75 pages, putting it down, and then picking it up months later for another 50-75 page spurt. The last spurt happened in a 1.5 hour long bath because I was desperate to finally finish it.

This book would be  a great companion to anyone interested in a fantasy set in reality (as Sir PTerry puts it) of early Victorian Age or who wants to get into Dickens without reading Dickens. Sir PTerry is a great storyteller and that is still evident here and while I feel he was incredibly passionate about Dodger and his companions, the magic was slightly off and a bit hard to swallow.

thisyearyouwriteThis Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

I’m going to disagree with much of the middling and negative reviews about this title.

If you’re serious about writing, why would you dismiss something that would and could be of great help to you? Especially from someone who is as esteemed as Walter Mosley? Doesn’t that seem ridiculous?

Like most writers, I collect, read, thumb, and tag writing reference titles to keep on hand and to get guidance. Mosley’s title was recommend to me from an artist friend who thought its straight to the point advice given in bite sized allotments would be attractive to me and he was right.

Sure, yes, you can listen to CBC Writers and Company (one of the best writing podcasts out there), subscribe to a zillion magazines and newsletters, and read blogs and websites to get advice. But while some of that information is helpful and at times useful, distilling through the noise to get to the actual meat of matter is exhausting. This is why Mosley’s works is important – it gets rid of all the high falutin pretentious twaddle that seems to crop up in most writing manuals and advice how-tos and gives you the real deal.

snobberywithviolence

Snobbery with Violence by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

Marion Chesney/M.C. Beaton has a formula that regardless of which series or persona she is writing in, is always in play: Barely existing plot, overly pulled sexual tension between the leads, content the depth of a 1″ puddle, and story devices that are thrown against the wall and then forgotten. Having read much of the Agatha Raisin series, while knowing it was to be frivolous fun, I grew bored because Aggie (don’t call her that if you value your life) never seemed to grow as a character. It was always the same shenanigans, book after book.

With this being said, I picked up the Edwardian Mystery series by Chensey/Beaton as I grow increasingly interested in this time period I’m on the lookout for contemporary titles written about this period and this is one of the few contemporarily written series currently available.

Chesney/Beaton doesn’t disappoint. You have your “oh she’s supposedly so well educated but portrays herself as a half-wit” heroine who comes from exceedingly good stock; the mysterious and fallen main male lead who “oh really publicly hates the heroine but secretly loves her” and yes, it’s all very predicable and cliche-y.

There is no stretch in the research or imagination here, and if I had not been well attuned to Ms. Chesney/Beaton’s writing style from before, I would probably like the book even less but you know, at the end of the day, it’s a frippery of a read that while it may not have educated me, it did keep me entertained.

2013 List | In progress

Watching

  • Masters of Sex
    The season finale and much is left to the open for interpretation on what is going to happen and where the show is going. I really adored this show – and it was one of the few shows in our weekly repertoire I would demand to watch live. There is certain detachedness to the show, and some of the characters are written flat, but I do love this show. Michael Sheen as the uptight Dr. Masters is a delight.
  • A Place to Call Home
    TheHusband and I have mainlined this show in its entirety. Complex, thought out, well drawn drama about early 1950s Australia. Complicated relationships, characters, and the setting is gorgeous.
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
    Season 2 kittens, season 2!
  • Survivor
    It’s finally over. Thank fuck.

Weekly watching: BBC Tudor Monastery Farm, Reign, DraculaProject Runway All-Stars, Breathless, Atlantis,  ElementaryMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Sleepy Hollow,   Boardwalk Empire, Doc Martin, QIPeaky Blinders,  Sons of Anarchy,  The Vampire Diaries

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?

x0x0,
lisa

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