Fox on Books

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Archive for the category “Historical”

Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea – by L. M. Montgomery

greengablesRecently, I felt the need to revisit Anne, Marilla and Matthew on Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables and its many sequels were one of my most beloved childhood series, and there’s something beautiful in the nostalgia you experience in re-reading these classics. At the same time, the story is a somewhat different experience when you’re an adult.

It took a little while for me to empathise with Anne, this time around. Perspective changes things, and as a grown up, I’m now approaching Anne’s story from more of a Marilla standpoint than from Anne’s. Does that make any sense? Just go with it. What I’m trying to say is that Anne wasn’t a kindred spirit (to borrow a term) as quickly now as she was when I was ten. I think it took time to settle into the cadence of Anne’s thought patterns, and her dramatic whimsy. But I love her. I defy anyone not to love Anne. Her boundless imagination, wild flights of fancy, and implacable optimism are incredibly endearing. Why Can’t I Say Goodnight:

The White Queen – by Philippa Gregory

WhiteQueenI read The Other Boleyn Girl many years ago, and quite enjoyed Gregory’s blend of history with liberal doses of fiction – it’s addictive, and there’s just enough fact to make you feel like you’re learning something as you read. I picked up The White Queen in Britain (naturally) because I’d heard it was about to be made into a TV show, and I like to read the source material first, like a good booklover. Here’s how Philippa Gregory’s foray into the lives of the Plantagenets grabbed me:

Before the Tudors, the Plantagenets reigned in a bitter, brother-against-brother dynasty. The White Queen follows the young Elizabeth Woodville, who catches the eye of the young king, Edward I. Using all her charm, wit and possible otherworldly talent, she must maneuver the deep, deadly currents of the English court. Despite her best efforts, readers will know that Elizabeth’s two sons are the centre of one of the oldest mysteries in British royal history – the mystery of the princes in the tower. (Not) The Children of the Revolution:

Sensational Quote Sunday

Some books change your life. They change the way you see the world. They do this not only with the story as a whole, but sometimes with an idea, a beautiful phrase, or even a word, that resonates with you the way nothing has before.

Sensational Quote Sunday is my way of paying homage to those books that remind me every day why I love reading.

This week, I’ve chosen a quote from The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, because I’ve recently visited The Anne Frank Museum and re-read the book. I’m feeling a little World War II preoccupied at the moment, so allow me to indulge that.

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The Diary of a Young Girl – by Anne Frank

imageOne of the things I was determined to do in Europe was visit places I had learned about as a child and teen. I’ve always found the first and second World Wars compelling – interesting in a cautionary and sociologically worrying way. In Amsterdam, I visited the Anne Frank Museum, where the Franks hid for more than two years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, in WWII. After touring the house, I bought another copy of Anne’s diary. I can’t think of a more pertinent time to read it.

I was about Anne Frank’s age when I first read her diary. At that age, I don’t think I could fully appreciate its importance. Or perhaps I simply understand a lot more of the context now, 10 years later. Either way, reading the Diary was a powerful experience. During my travels, I also visited Dachau, a former concentration camp outside Munich, Germany. The amount of history, the depth of sorrow, and the continuing warning provided by stories like Anne’s, and places like Dachau, make them crucial.

It’s easy to forget, when reading this diary, about all the external horrors Anne and the Franks faced. I Don’t Wanna Be:

Jess Talks: Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

I’d like to give a warm welcome to Jess, my good friend who’s just as big a book nut as I am! Today in Jess Talks, Jess gives us her thoughts on Queen of Kings, by Maria Dahvana Headley:

queen

History merged with magic is an intriguing idea, and that’s what Maria Headley sets out to do in Queen of Kings. The trick to this sort of story is how well you pull it off: is it realistic, despite the magic? Do the characters stand up? Is the narrative clear? Here’s what I thought of Headley’s execution:

It’s 30BC, and Octavian Caesar and his legions are determined to take Alexandria. Having always wanted Cleopatra for his own, Octavian devises a ruse that leads Cleopatra to believe her beloved Mark Antony has taken his own life. Driven to the brink of madness by Octavian’s deception, Cleopatra calls upon the god Sekhmet, seeking his aid in reclaiming her Kingdom, and returning Mark Antony.

Calling upon Gods is never free, however, as Cleopatra quickly discovers. Sekhment agrees to return Mark Antony: in exchange for Cleopatra’s own soul. Under Sekhmet’s influence, Cleopatra is transformed into a shape-shifting, blood-sucking immortal being with only one driving force: vengeance. Completely devoid of anything human or good, she will settle for nothing less than the complete destruction of Octavian, and the world he has taken for himself. Hell Hath No Fury Like A Cleopatra Scorned?

Top Ten Favorite Books I Read Before I Was A Blogger

top ten

Hosted by the awesome folks as The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme celebrating all things book. This week we’re looking back to those books that started it all. The books you loved long before you could go online to rave about them. The ones you had to rant about in person to your poor (lucky!) friends because they made you the book-obsessed person you are today. Here are the Top Ten books I loved before I was a blogger:

Five

I get that there are problematic themes in Blyton’s work. But to me, Enid Blyton is the crux of my childhood. I can’t count the number of times I read The Famous Five series, The Secret Seven, The Adventurous Four, the Naughtiest Girl and so on. They are classic, wonderful, uncomplicated stories that enriched my young life.

Obernewtyn

Obernewtyn was a series I started reading when I was about thirteen, and I’ve read them a few times since then. Post-apocalyptic before it was cool, Obernewtyn tells the story of a young Misfit girl, Elspeth, who’s been born with powers that she doesn’t understand. Hidden away and mistreated by the authorities, Elspeth learns to fight back. The series isn’t finished yet (!!) but the last book is on its way…

alibrandi

Melina Marchetta was cool WAY before the amazingness that is The Lumatere Chronicles. Meeting the insane, loveable, loyal Italian-Australian family at the centre of Looking For Alibrandi is a must. I studied it in high school and EVEN SO I loved it.

tomorrow

Tomorrow, When the War Began was the Hunger Games of my generation. By which I mean it was the dangerous book we read that our parents worried was too violent for us. Ellie and her friends have ‘gone bush’ for the weekend and by the time they come home there’s a war on, and all their parents are prisoners. What do you do when your home: everything and everyone you love, is threatened? You fight back.

HalfBloodPrince

I’m picking this as my favourite Harry Potter, but I love them as a whole series and a whole experience. I think this generation all grew up with Harry, and while I didn’t need him to rekindle my love of reading, J K Rowling absolutely enhanced my teen experience with Harry’s amazing story.

LotR

Because Tolkien, that’s why. The Lord of the Rings is a brick of a book, a phenomenally imagined world packed with rich, archetypal characters that make it one of the best fantasy novels ever. (“After all this time?” “Always.”) I discovered it as a fifteen year old just venturing into the realm of fantasy reading, and it was love at first read.

Sisyphus

Albert Camus’ philosophy, particularly The Myth of Sisyphus, is fascinating. I love thinking about thinking, about  why things are the way they are, and how they came to be thought of that way. I love the ideas Camus posits in his essays – and I’m not going to go into them here because I’d rather you let his ideas speak to you directly. He does them justice; I can’t!

MoabHow wonderful is Stephen Fry? Whether it’s his accent, his lovely, slightly hoity-toity mannerisms, or the awesomeness that is his show, QI, there’s a lot to love. The most striking element of Moab Is My Washpot, one of Fry’s two autobiographies, is how brutal Fry is with himself. Not just brutally honest: actually almost cruel. I don’t think he has ever felt like a success. And he seems at best bemused by, at worst flummoxed by his popularity. I have such a soft spot for people who are so much more than they believe themselves to be.

anne

Anne Shirley. Who didn’t love the redheaded bundle of energy at the centre of Anne of Green Gables? Growing up, Anne was someone I revisited on more than one occasion. Recently I bought the whole series so I could get my nostalgia on. And I’ll definitely get around to reading them. Soon.

Bridget

I don’t trust people who don’t like Bridget Jones, as a general rule. This ridiculous, manic, endearing, so-very-relatable woman is one of my favourite book people. I hated her obsession with self help books (SO MUCH). I loved her social ineptitude. I despaired for her ability to be happy. I adored her relationship with Mr Darcy Mark Darcy. She’s the best kind of main character.

I’d love to hear about the books you loved before you blogged! Link for me, my pretties, in the comments!

Clockwork Princess – by Cassandra Clare

clockworkAnd so we come to the end of another trilogy: Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices. This prequel series is set in nineteenth-century London, and chronicles one of the most challenging battles Shadowhunters faced, through the eyes of a handful of remarkable people.

I read Clockwork Princess early this week. Holy beautiful cover, Batman! Here’s what I thought:

SPOILERS SPOILERS ALL THE SPOILERS. Sort of, anyway. Proceed with caution!

Tessa Gray has finally found a place she fits. Or has she? She’s engaged, planning her wedding, and surrounded by people she cares about, and who care about her in turn. But Tessa can’t shake the nagging feeling she should be happier than she is. Some Boys Don’t Know How to Love (But Some Do):

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