Saturday, April 21, 2007

When hubby's away...

...I don't play much but I do have more time to read.

Last month when he went on his annual ski trip with "the boys", I picked up two Harlequin Historicals. Sadly, both were disappointing. One was too period, which isn't a criticism; obviously it was simply not to my taste. I can't read Georgette Heyer either. Besides, the paternal streak many heroes feel towards their Regency belles in books of this fashion I find a real turn off. I actually skipped a few of the love scenes, a telltale sign that it's time to move on.

The other historical, which I was quite excited about after reading the back jacket cover, ended up driving me mad. From the blurb and first few chapters, I imagined the heroine to be tough, beautiful, a real fighter, but then, at every turn, the poor thing seemed to dissolve into a fit of tears. It's a wonder the delectable male (and he was quite something; the woman was daft not to fall into his arms) still pursued her.

This has happened to me before. I've trusted the publisher as opposed to the writer herself and gone awry. I shall continue to pick up the works of my favourite Harlequin Historical authors—such as Nicola Cornick, Michelle Styles, Diane Gaston (I did enjoy her recent Innocence and Impropriety), Gail Ranstrom, and Deborah Hale. Or perhaps turn to another line altogether. My recent introduction to the Presents line has piqued my interest to say the least. Thanks, India!

jacketThis time while hubby is away, I discovered that one of my all-time favourite authors has turned her hand to children's literature. I thoroughly enjoyed Jeanette Winterson's Tanglewreck—think orphaned girl charged with the task of healing the rent in time that has wrought havoc in not only her native England but the entire world. Next on the list is Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty. I'm much more comfortable in the Victorian period, anyway.

I can forgo romance for a week or two.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. There's nothing worse than picking up a book only to find the heroine's definition of fiesty and independent are more immature pride and childish tantrums.

Have you read anything by N.E. Bode? I saw one of his(?) books at the library: "The Somebodies." It looked so interesting, I had to put in a request to read it.

Meanwhile, another child's book: "The Sisters Grimm" (Michael Buckley) caught my eye.

So, whilst waiting for them to come in, will devote my time between Donna Kauffman's "Sleeping with Beauty," and M. Yunnus' "Banker to the Poor."

5:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoops, sorry. It's Muhammad Yunus (one 'n', not two).

Really excited to read this. Here's the blurb off of

"It began with a simple $27 loan. After witnessing the cycle of poverty that kept many poor women enslaved to high-interest loan sharks in Bangladesh, Dr. Muhammad Yunus lent money to 42 women so they could purchase bamboo to make and sell stools. In a short time, the women were able to repay the loans while continuing to support themselves and their families. With that initial eye-opening success, the seeds of the Grameen Bank, and the concept of microcredit, were planted.
After earning a Ph.D. in economics at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Yunus returned to Bangladesh to settle into a life as a professor. But a famine in 1974 ravaged the country, leading Dr. Yunus to alter his thinking and his life profoundly: "What good were all my complex theories when people were dying of starvation on the sidewalks and porches across from my lecture hall?.... Nothing in the economic theories I taught reflected the life around me." Armed with little more than a lofty dream to end the suffering around him, he started an experimental microcredit enterprise in 1977; by 1983 the Grameen Bank was officially formed.

The idea behind the Grameen Bank is ingeniously simple: extend credit to poor people and they will help themselves. This concept strikes at the root of poverty by specifically targeting the poorest of the poor, providing small loans (usually less than $300) to those unable to obtain credit from traditional banks. At Grameen, loans are administered to groups of five people, with only two receiving their money up front. As soon as these two make a few regular payments, loans are gradually extended to the rest of the group. In this way, the program builds a sense of community as well as individual self-reliance. Most of the Grameen Bank's loans are to women, and since its inception, there has been an astonishing loan repayment rate of over 98 percent.

Banker to the Poor is an inspiring memoir of the birth of microcredit, written in a conversational tone that makes it both moving and enjoyable to read. The Grameen Bank is now a $2.5 billion banking enterprise in Bangladesh, while the microcredit model has spread to over 50 countries worldwide, from the U.S. to Papua New Guinea, Norway to Nepal. Ever optimistic, Yunus travels the globe spreading the belief that poverty can be eliminated: "...the poor, once economically empowered, are the most determined fighters in the battle to solve the population problem; end illiteracy; and live healthier, better lives. When policy makers finally realize that the poor are their partners, rather than bystanders or enemies, we will progress much faster that we do today." Dr. Yunus's efforts prove that hope is a global currency." (Shawn Carkonen)

5:11 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

I also have Reading Lolita in Tehran on my to-read shelf. Have you read it, Brown? It sounds a little more up your alley than historicals.

12:11 am  
Blogger Annie said...

Sounds like you're enjoying your reading fest, Eva. Except for the ones you didn't like! It's always disappointing when that happens, isn't it? I've just finished reading a Louise Bagshawe romcom, which I absolutely loved because the heroine is a bit (lot) of a tomboy and loves running, both of which I identify with very strongly.

As for children's books, I am an avid fan stll of Winnie the Pooh, The Famous Five and probably my most influential book of all time which nobody else will have heard of: Caroline and Friends - about a girl who has various animal friends with whom she travels around Europe. It's a big, hardback book with the most fabulous coloured drawings of places all over the world. I often think that's where I developed my love of travel from.

Brown, I think your choice of reading is far too sophisticated for the likes of a romcom/children's book fan!

But ain't that the great thing about books? There's something for everyone.

Happy reading!

7:45 pm  
Blogger India said...

Eva, I've recently been privileged enough to get a glimpse of two would-be new writers to the Presents stable-- and I can thoroughly recommend both of them! (if you need clues as to their identities I'm happy to oblige...)

I've also lately discovered Phillippa Gregory's historical novels (I read a couple of her contemporary ones a few years ago and liked them). 'The Other Boleyn Girl' kept me enthralled throughout-- which is quite an achievement when you consider how obvious the ending is.(Spoiler alert: Anne gets her head chopped off!)

8:45 pm  
Blogger Danielle said...

Hey Eva, if you've had a taste of Harlequin Presents, try some of the books by Jane Porter. She's written something like 24 Presents books among others and I have really enjoyed her writing. I highly recommend one she wrote called Hollywood Husband, Contract Wife. I just finished it and loved it!

anyway, hope you find something more worthwhile to read :o)

4:33 am  
Blogger Eva said...

Thank you, one and all, for your great recommendations!! I'm almost finished A Great and Terrible Beauty - it's amazing! - so it will be tough choosing the next book.

10:24 pm  

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