Friday Linkity-Links

Since I wasn't able to get any sort of review post up for this week, I thought I'd share some of the links I stumbled across this week.

~ First off, Pottermore. Anybody else started in on this yet? I just finished exploring Book One and must say I'm impressed. Especially with the 'extra content' from J.K. Rowling (did you know Professor McGonagall had been married?!?) Currently however I have no friends (and I'm feeling a bit like Neville Longbottom in Book One), so if feel free to 'friend' to me if you are puttering around there as well, I'm LumosRune5872. I'll send you one of my poorly made potions or something. Any guesses which house I landed in?*

~ May is almost here with the arrival of Bitterblue. It's one of my most anticipated 2012 reads and the most lovely Ms. Kristin Cashore has put out a free eSampler with teasers for all three books and some letters that take place before Bitterblue. It is possible to be even more excited than before?

~ Then there's this video that I've seen a couple of places and finally sat down to watch over at Chachic's place. Oh, I do love me a good P&P retelling. Especially when it's done in video diary form a la Easy A. Don't be like me and wait any longer to watch Episode 1. Look at me being all nice and posting it RIGHT HERE for your easy viewing pleasure...I'll wait till you're done.

And then go here for Episode 2: My Sisters: Problematic to Practically PerfectEpisode 3: My Parents: Opposingly Supportive, and Episode 4: Bing Lee and his 500 Teenage Prostitutes. Let the hilarity commence.

*Yeah, it's gonna be Ravenclaw. Nerdy, bookish, and a wee bit eccentric. They got me pegged.

Retro Friday Review: Plain Kate by Erin Bow

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc
Sometimes there are books that float around that I just know I am going to love but for some strange reason never pick them up. Plain Kate is one of those books. For starters, it's set in Russia (which is like crack to me kids) and it's got a fabulously scrappy talking cat and lots of Hard Times for one determined girl. Sometimes I think I put off reading a book with all the obvious possibility of becoming Something I Will Love just so I don't have to face disappointment if it doesn't quite work out. Anyone else do that? Well, I think I hesitated over Plain Kate because I just wanted it to be good. And just so I don't keep you all was. Good that is.

Just like the cover suggests, Kate walks a fine balance. Life has always been hard in the small Russian town of Samilae but Plain Kate felt safe while close to her beloved father, a talented carver. But when the witch's fever takes her father Kate unexpectedly finds herself all alone in a town not too keen on her obvious talent with a knife for one so young. Rumors of witches are racing across the country and it steadily becomes harder and harder for Plain Kate as she struggles to provide for herself and her loyal cat Taggle. And then the unthinkable happens, the towns' thin approval of Plain Kate suddenly turns to hatred and she is forced to make a dubious bargain with the real and powerful witch Linay. A trade is made: her shadow in exchange for the supplies necessary to flee her home. But the loss of ones' shadow is a gradual thing and Plain Kate knows its absence will mark her forever.

What a perfectly excellent, and all-around satisfying read Plain Kate was. Full of Russian folklore, colorful Roamers wagons, and the two-edged witch's magic. From the beginning I was effortlessly captured by Plain Kate and her no-nonsense take on the life that had been handed to her, despite her seemingly endless supply of bad luck. Take this section that came from the very first chapter. I knew after I had gotten this far that good things lay ahead:
In Kate's little town of Samilae, people thought that there was magic in a knife. A person who could wield a knife well was, in their eyes, halfway to a witch. So Plain Kate was very small the first time someone spat at her and crooked their fingers.

Her father sat her down and spoke to her with great seriousness. "You are not a witch, Katerina. There is magic in the world, and some of it is wholesome, and some of it is not, but it is a thing that is in the blood, and it is not in yours.

"The foolish will always treat you badly, because they think you are not beautiful," he said, and she knew this was true. Plain Kate: She was plain as a stick, and thin as a stick, and flat as a stick. She had one eye the color of river mud and one eye the color of the river. Her nose was too long and her brows were too strong. Her father kissed her twice, once above each eyebrow. "We cannot help what fools think. But understand, it is your skill with a blade that draws this talk. If you want to give up your carving, you have my blessing."

"I will never give it up," she answered.

And he laughed and called her his Brave Star, and taught her to carve even better.
What a father. And what a girl! In this book, there is such beauty to be found in ugly places and yes, even some wholesome magic to be found amid the evil. I especially like it when authors chose not to make their villains completely evil and Erin Bow does a fantastic job at making Linay utterly human. His motivation was expertly described and very believable that by the end I was (almost) hoping for his redemption. With such descriptive writing and flawed characters, I all but ate up the pages following Kate on her journey to find a place where should could belong. Obviously, I'm happy to report that Plain Kate expertly lived up to all my expectations. It's found a place on my bookshelves for good.

Because Everyone Likes A Second Opinion:
Bookshelves of Doom review
The Book Smugglers review
Chachic's Book Nook review
Charlotte's Library review
Good Books & Good Wine review

book source: bought

Little Miss Bronte & Little Master Carroll by Jennifer Adams

As you well know, I don't usually review children's books here on the bloggy. But when I recieved a review request for a series of board books which use classic novels to teach counting and colors to babies, well you can be sure I was pretty much sold. Especially since you all know (and understand) my longstanding obsession fascination with all things Jane Eyre. 

When Little Miss Bronte: Jane Eyre and Little Master Carroll: Alice in Wonderland first arrived on my doorstep I admit to squealing a bit. Because seriously, these books are utterly brilliant! Rich, vibrant colors and intricate, textured illustrations all but shout out 'Read Me!' Which I did. Several times. And
maybe I read them to my kids too. Once or twice. Although I confess that they currently live on my bookshelf and not theirs. To be fair however, as I write this review my four year old has wandered over to read the books to himself and is currently laughing himself silly over Alice in Wonderland. 

Thankfully, it seems that both the author and illustrator actually
know these classic stories -- there are subtle quotes and pictorial references to some of my favorite scenes from the books. Like this one from Jane Eyre, which references what is probably my most favorite quote ever. Plus the pearls!
 Or this one:
Which although the picture looks quite cheery, the text is suitably foreshadowing. Love. 

Upon further research it looks like there are several other ones including a Pride & Prejudice and a Romeo + Juliet story. Which both look so stinkin' adorable that I just might have to pick up those as well.  If you are looking for a unique baby shower or birthday gift you really couldn't go wrong with these two perfect little board books. They would also make excellent gifts to any bibliophile. Especially one of the Jane Eyre disposition. 

book source: provided by the publisher

Great Expectations

Thankfully Masterpiece has provided us with yet another top-notch adaptation to fill that gaping Sunday evening void left by Downton Abbey. This time it's the unforgettably atmospheric Great Expectations and after watching the first episode can I say I loved how the creepiness (a truly integral part of any Dickens story) was given full reign? Excellent stuff.

Next Sunday can't come fast enough.