In this age of immediate gratification and faster means better, do you think that abridgments are required to make certain that the classics continue to be read?  Do you think that it is a good thing or a bad thing? Have you ever read an abridged edition simply because the original was "too long"?

Mainly because I love the written word, I make every effort to avoid abridgments.  I want to absorb the words that the author wrote just the way they wrote it.  Whose to  say that an abridgment didn't leave out a critical part. However, because of the lack of interest in reading  for many in the younger generation (video games and movies are more their interests) having them read even an abridged version is better than not reading at all.  I just hope that there never comes a time when Harry Potter is abridged.  As long as authors like J.K.Rowling, Rick Riordan, and George RR Martin (to name a few) continue to write, we may be able to develop readers in the younger generations.  As for me, I'll still plug through the classics one at a time, full length.

I will admit that as a child I read abridged versions of stories.  In my tween years , there was a book discussion group for us call the Great Books of the Western world and we read abridged versions.  But I think that only made me want to read the entire book if I liked the shortened version.  My father was the leader of the discussion group so we were reading the same book together.  Guess that's why I like book groups too.

So what about you, full length or abridged?  And if it's a chunkster, does reading it with someone help to get you through?


Dracula by Bram Stoker


GENRE: Classic
SUBJECT: vampires
SETTING: Transylvania, Romania  London, England
CHARACTERS: Count Dracula, Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker, Van Helsing, John Seward, Quincey Morris, Arthur Holmwood
DATE READ: October 17 - October 25
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?:   Yes, Nook stockpile

Average 3.5

I have a hard time with classics, I don't like books with vampires, so why then did I enjoy the 1897 classic novel about the vampire to top all vampires, Count Dracula? I won't go into the plot, I'm sure that there are many descriptions that are far better than I could write, but I will try to explain my feelings about this book.

First, I have to say that I've never watched the movie so I had no idea of the tale that would be related, so I was enveloped into the story at the very beginning, travelling through what is described as a beautiful land but with residents that are frightened of something, but no idea what.

The story was captivating, how this group came together to defeat this evil creature and save the lives of women and children that were threatened. However, the characters were, IMO, a little two dimensional and the style was a little difficult to follow in a few areas, but overall, I liked the story being told in their diaries and letters.  At the time of the original publication, I would imagine that Victorian England was scandalized by the behavior of Dracula and his victims, because even though there may have been discussions of folklore related to vampires, I doubt there were few books telling the tales.

So for me this classic was a winner. But don't think that I will be searching or reading more vampire literature, I think I've had my fill.


Uniform Justice by Donna Leon


GENRE: Mystery
SUBJECT:  blackmail, threats, cover-ups, military schools
SETTING: Venice, Italy
CHARACTERS: Commissario Guido Brunetti
DATE READ: October 15 - October 20
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?:  yes, audio stockpile
CATEGORY: Math Class

PLOT:   3
STYLE:   4
Average 3.25

This Commissario Brunetti chronicle tells of the discovery of young teenage boy found hanging at a military school, an apparent suicide.  However, as Guido investigates he finds that the family of the victim has been continually threatened due to the father's political activities.  Was the death a hazing gone bad, a payback to the father, or more sinister?

Donna Leon's storytelling always manages to captivate me while telling of some social problem in a mesmerizing locale.  Definitely another good tale in this series.


The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

GENRE: Mystery
SUBJECT: Art theft, reproductions, painting style
CHARACTERS: Claire Roth, Aiden Markel
DATE READ: October 5 - October 9
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?:   yes, LT ER


This book tells the story of a young female artist who is persuaded to copy a painting by Degas that was stolen in a highly publicized theft from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990.  I found the chronicle of Claire Roth's efforts to not only reproduce this painting but also to find and return the lost art slow and uninspiring until very late in the book.  The tangled threads of three different time periods and viewpoints did not make this a book that drew me further into the intrigue but made me question why I was spending the time reading it.  The characters were unlikeable and stereotypical (starving artist, snooty museum curators/gallery owners), the plot too convoluted. Maybe an art student would enjoy it because of all the details conveyed relating to the process of painting but for the ordinary reader, not something I would recommend.


Princess Elizabeth's Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal


Genre: Mystery
Subject: espionage, decoding
Setting: Germany, England
Main Characters: Maggie Hope, Princess Elizabeth, Churchill, Mark Fraine, Hugh Thompson
Series: #2 Maggie Hope Mysteries
Dates Read: October 14 - October 16
Number of pages: 345
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?:  yes, ER my shelves
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: English Lit

Maggie Hope, transferred from #10 Downing St and the position of Mr. Churchill's Secretary (book #1) to MI-5 and training for undercover missions, finds her shortcomings are not acceptable and flunks out of the "spy" school not because of her brain but that she has no brawn.  She is given the domestic assignment of protecting Princess Elizabeth from a  possible kidnapping plot.  She shows up at Windsor Castle as the new Maths tutor and after a few minor issues develops a rapport with the future queen and her younger sister.

As a "servant" she is privy to numerous issues that lead to danger and intrigue as well revelations that she may have preferred not to know.  The writing is crisp and exciting and draws the reader further and further into the plot, until you are afraid to read more and yet you can't stop.  A great sequel to the introductory book, only making the reader want MORE!


Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Monday Mailbox, the meme started by Marcia and currently on tour around the internet. This month is being hosted MailBoxMonday at Wordpress. This past week's mailbox arrivals:


I got this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewer's program.  I had requested it and wasn't sure that I'd win it, but I decided that I really wanted it so that I requested it from NetGalley as well hoping to win it from one of the sites - I lucked out and won both, so I am doubly responsible for a review.;  Better get to it soon - oh, what a hardship (can't wait!)  


Devil's Food Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Subject: mistaken identity, stolen goods
Setting:  Lake Eden , MN
Main Characters: Hannah Swensen, Norman Rhodes, Grandma Knudson
Series:  yes, #14 Hannah Swensen mysteries
Dates Read: October 12 - October 14
Number of pages:   302
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, public library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Speech Class

Hannah Swensen is one of my favorite characters but that  may be coming to an end because of her contradictory behavior.  Hannah can come to all kinds of conclusions when it comes to her business and her impromptu investigations, but when it comes to her lovelife, she is completely incapable of making a decision.

This mystery was fun and some of the events that are included, hopefully will carry the series forward, but that is questionable.  Love the recipes.


Quarantine by John Smolens


Genre:  Historical Fiction
Subject: Epidemic
Setting:  Newburyport ,Mass
Main Characters:  Leander Hatch, Gilles Wiggins, Enoch Sumner, Miranda Sumner
Series:  no
Dates Read:  October 5 - October 12
Number of pages: 384
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?:  yes, NetGalley
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: Speech Class, Lunch

So often as a reader, we are presented in historical fiction unspecified details of how life was at the time.  However, in this book set in Early American historical times (1796), we have exactly the opposite.  The reader is awarded a tale of the decimating conditions that surround the small harbor town of Newburyport, MA when a ship arrives carrying an epidemic which swiftly spreads to the population when those quarantined on board the ship escape.

The story is told through the experiences of two main  characters - Dr. Gilles Wiggins, the town physician who initiates the quarantine, and Leander Hatch, a young man who looses his entire family to the "fever".  These two characters, so different in their backgrounds and yet so alike in their principles, show how  good people can overcome any adversity presented to them.

This was a powerful story which had a few slow spots in the narration but the characters and the ordeal carried it through.


Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President by Candice Mallard

Genre:   Biography
Subject: Assassination, medical advancements, inventions
Setting:  Washington, D.C.
Main Characters:  James Garfield, Charles Gaiteau, Dr. Bliss
Series:  no
Dates Read:  October 1 - October 9
Number of pages: 432
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?:  no, audio MCL
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: History Class

James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States was unique in that he was the only preacher to have held this office. Unfortunately, he was shot in the back by an insane office seeker and though  he could have survived these wounds in modern day, the level of medical care that he received at the time was the cause of his eventual death.

What was amazing about the man was that he never sought nor wanted to be President.  Rival political factions (0ne for Grant and one for Sen. Blaine of Maine) were fighting for the Republican nomination and when they wouldn't given in, Garfield was the alternative candidate selected.

After Garfield was shot, several notable people were involved with his care - one the first licensed black doctor in the District of Columbia as well as Alexander Graham Bell who invented a metal detector for the specific reason to try to locate the bullet that was still in the President.

Comparison of the advancements that Bell was working toward and the antiquated medical treatment provided were both shocking and sickening.  It is truly disappointed that a man of Garfield's character and demeanor was shot down before he was permitted to help those that would have benefited from his policies.

What his death did accomplish, however, was a reunification of the citizens throughout the United States.

This book was powerful in its storytelling as well as its story.


Reckless Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Genre: Romance
Subject: Love, Marriage, espionage
Setting: Germany, Italy, England
Main Characters: Rafe Carstairs, Loretta Michelmarch, Hassan, Esme Lady Congreve
Series: #4 Black Cobra Quartet
Dates Read: October 2 - October 4
Number of pages: 464
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?:  yes, my shelves
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: English Lit

The final book of the Black Cobra Quartet finds Rafe Carstairs traveling from India to England carrying the original document of damaging evidence which will identify the Black Cobra.  Rafe has decided to take the river route through Austria and Germany but finds that he has inadvertently endangered Loretta and her great-Aunt Esme and so is forced to include them in the plans to get to England.  Pretending that he and his man, Hassan, are guide and bodyguard they proceed over the Danube and Rhine rivers. During their travels love and danger envelope them.

It was fun to finally see that the Black Cobra would be apprehended and who it turned out to be.  The reunion of the other characters from the first three installments was the perfect ending.

Never be without a BOOK

Well, many months ago, I swore to myself that I would never go out anywhere without having a book with me.  Even if I didn't think I'd have time to read, it would be better to have the book and not have time, than have time and not have a book.

Today I'm really glad I stuck to my vow.  While at a friend's house, I went out to my car to get something and when returning, I tripped on the steps and fell, hitting my head against the brick wall, my knee against the concrete  step and fell into a deep flowerbed on the side cleverly trapping myself in a position where I couldn't get up.  Fortunately, my friends heard me call for help, and stayed with me while we waited for the Emergency squad to come and extricate me from my predicament.  The EMTs  and my hubbie (by phone) thought I should go get checked out at the hospital (head injuries are nothing to play around with). So off I went in the ambulance.  Once I got there and was registered, I was left waiting for service - Thank God I had my MP3 with the audiobook I was reading (Destiny of the Republic) - I had just downloaded it this morning.  Well, 4 hours later, after being shot (tetanus), x-rayed (knee), and scanned (head), I was released with an ice bag and instructions to see my doctor and  4 chapters read.  No concussion, no internal bleeding, only a few bruises, a big bump, a headache and a severe feeling of being really stupid.  I do think this has screwed up my back again big time.

Then I got home and the answering machine was blinking away. Believe it or not, somehow my Mom knew something was wrong – she left 3 messages on my answering machine worried that something was not right  – can you believe that? I assured her that I was sore but would be fine.  I hope I  didn't lie to her.

So, my reading friends, learn a lesson from me - NEVER go anywhere without a book, you never know when you will be sitting in the emergency room with time to read on your hands.  As I say,  it's better to have a book and not have time to read it, than to have time on your hands and not have a book to read.

Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Monday Mailbox, the meme started by Marcia and currently on tour around the internet. This month is being hosted MailBoxMonday at Wordpress. This past week's mailbox arrivals:

                            Stake & Eggs
                        by Laura Childs

I just love Laura Childs series - the Tea Shoppe series and this one, the Cackleberry Club.  Somehow I got really lucky and she sends me the new books for review.  Can't wait to savor this one!


Mailbox Monday

Welcome to Monday Mailbox, the meme started by Marcia and currently on tour around the internet. This month is being hosted MailBoxMonday at Wordpress. This past week's mailbox arrivals:

The Outcast

In 1957 Lewis Aldridge, newly released from prison, returns home to Waterford, a suburban town outside London. He is nineteen years old. A decade earlier his father's homecoming at war's end was greeted with far less apprehension by the staid, tightly knit community—thanks to Gilbert Aldridge's easy acceptance of suburban ritual and routine. Nobody is surprised that Gilbert's wife counters convention, but the entire community is shocked when, after one of their jaunts, Lewis comes back without her.
No one in Waterford wants Lewis back—except Kit, a young woman who sympathizes with his grief and burgeoning rage. But in her attempts to set them both free, Kit fails to foresee the painful and horrifying secrets that must first be forced into the open. The consequences for Lewis, his family, and the tightly knit community are devastating.

My lovely friend, Linda, sent this to me.  I think she's afraid I'll run out of things to read.  Just joking.  She passes a few books to me that she thinks I'll enjoy.

Frozen Thames by Helen Humphries


Genre: Historical Fiction
Subject: frozen river
Setting:  London England
Main Characters: none
Series:  no
Dates Read: October 1
Number of pages:   181
Off the Shelf (pre-2012)? Source?: no, public library
Category for 12 in 12 challenge: History Class

This book is a collection of very short stories surrounding the 40 times that the River Thames froze over and allowed for activities to actually take place on the river.

It was slightly entertaining but seemed to get repetitive toward the end.  I can see where it could have been better if the small stories had been expanded.  Not recommended.

I was a very disappointed in this book.  It was so beautiful from the outside, but inside, it lacked the depth of stories that I was looking forward to.