Autumnal Reads Recommendations

Happy First Day of Fall!

I love every season, but autumn is one of my favorites. What’s not to love about it? There is the crisp, cool air, the changing colors of the leaves, copious amounts of tea and long, cozy evenings at home.

In that spirit, I shopped my bookshelves to share a few autumnal book recommendations.

The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski makes the list because it’s a super spooky read. A woman takes a nap and wakes up stuck in another body, in another era. She is literally imprisoned in her new life and can’t figure out how to get back. A nightmare. My nightmare. I still can’t believe I read this book in one sitting. I must have been too scared to move. If you read it, let me know your thoughts.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is on the list because the plot is set in a spooky, gothic castle. I know I’m always recommending Jane Austen novels, but that’s because Jane Austen is an author for all seasons. In Northanger Abbey you can lose yourself in Bath, England and join several of the characters on their quest for love and happiness.

The Ghost: A Cultural History by Susan Owens is a biography of the British ghost. I actually haven’t read this book yet, but I will. I love reading British stories the best. Well, I should clarify that I love reading all kinds of books, but as you can guess from this blog I’m a bit of an anglophile. So I’m definitely looking forward to getting lost in the spooky pages of a British ghost history book.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling is a re-read for me. What’s better than starting autumn with a magical feel-good back-to-school story? The story of the young Harry Potter is always a good idea. Do you agree?

Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane

PS. I’m on Instagram where I post about books and tea. Stop by and say hi.

My Favorite Books of 2021 So Far

We are past the half-way point of 2021. Time to have a quick look at my favorite books thus far. The following books are my favorite because they touched my heart in one way or another.

I really enjoyed reading A Most English Princess by Clare McHugh. It’s a well-researched, fictionalized account of the early life of Empress Vicky of Prussia. Vicky was the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria. While her marriage to the Crown Prince of Prussia was an arranged union, it was a happy and fulfilling partnership. Vicky’s first child was Wilhelm II (yes, that Wilhelm). The novel charts the ups and downs of her marriage amidst the turmoil of 19th century Europe. I wrote more about the novel here.

Chère Annette: Letters from Russia is a compilation of letters from Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia to her favorite daughter Anna Pavlovna in The Hague. Maria Feodorovna was the wife of Paul I and the mother of Alexander I. The book’s editor traveled to the Netherlands to read and translate the letters from French into English. (The Russian court spoke French during this time). I love reading letters; it’s an authentic glimpse into the lives of women from history. Maria Feodorovna doesn’t have the best of reputations today and she isn’t as well known to modern audiences, but I loved getting to know her.

Salonica: City of Ghosts by Mark Mazower chronicles the history of the city of Thessaloniki in Greece. The true story of this amazing city really touched my heart. Salonica went from being a city of Byzantium to an Ottoman stronghold to finally gaining independence by merging with the Kingdom of Greece. The book charts the history of the Greeks, the Jews and the Muslims. It’s a fascinating account of a fascinating city. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in Ottoman history, Greek history or the history of city planning.

Do you have any favorite books of 2021?

xoxo, Jane

My Favorite Quotes from Literature

There are books, long after you finish the last page, that will stay with you forever. These are some of the books that have stayed with me. Today I’m sharing quotes from my favorite books to entice you to read them.

xoxo, Jane

I can no longer listen in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me that I am not too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you with a heart even more your own than when you broke it almost eight years and a half ago.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Reader, I married him. A quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

The small, slender woman with apple-red cheeks, greying hair, and shrewd, almost naughty little eyes sat with her face pressed against the cabin window of the BEA Viscount on the morning flight from London to Paris. As, with a rush and a roar, it lifted itself from the runway, her spirits soared aloft with it. She was nervous, but not at all frightened, for she was convinced that nothing could happen to her now. Hers was the bliss of one who knew that at last she was off upon the adventure at the end of which lay her heart’s desire.

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

The past, as we have been told so many times, is a foreign county where things are done differently. This may be true – indeed it patently is true when it comes to morals or customs, the role of women, aristocratic government and a million other elements of our daily lives. But there are similarities, too. Ambition, envy, rage, greed, kindness, selflessness and, above all, love have always been as powerful in motivating choices as they are today.

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

Marguerite suffered intensely. Though she laughed and chatted, though she was more admired, more surrounded, more fêted than any woman there, she felt like one condemned to death, living her last day upon this earth.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Melanie had found the Victorian chaise-longue on her last day of freedom when the threatening cloud was no larger than a man’s hand and could still, as by the finding of the chaise-longue, be replaced in her vision by toys.

The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski

As soon as they were gone, Elizabeth walked out to recover her spirits; or in other words, to dwell without interruption on those subjects that must deaden them more. Mr. Darcy’s behaviour astonished and vexed her.

Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen

Shopping My Shelves: Summer 2021 Reading Recommendations

Hooray! Summer is upon us. If you need some light (and not so light) reading recommendations, then please come in! I shopped my bookshelves to share a few reading ideas with you!

Let’s start out with a very light reading recommendation. The Wind off the Small Isles by Mary Stewart is a novella (more of a long short story, really) set in the breathtaking Canary Isles. It’s a Mary Stewart classic so this means there will be a ton of suspense packed in while a romance is brewing on the side; hence perfect read for the beach getaway. (Or if you’re like me and not traveling far because of the pandemic then read it at home with a frosty beverage. Win-win.)

You can not go wrong with Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson. It’s the charming tale of Miss Buncle and her adventures. Miss Buncle, you see, is in need of some funds. So she sets out to write a book set in her village which features all of the villagers. Unfortunately Miss Buncle did a terrible job of disguising the actual people she wrote about and the villagers become quite upset with her. All kinds of mayhem ensues. If you love classics, romance and English villages then this is the summer read for you!

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson is a little bit more serious but just as charming of a read. Miss Pettigrew is a governess who endured hardship most of her life. But thanks to a plucky young American she finally (after a very long day gallivanting around London) may just get her happy ending. I’d compare this story to Cinderella but without the stepsisters.

Summertime should be all about adventures. So what better adventure than the Harry Potter series? I just love this series and will never tire of it. I wonder if they are teaching Harry Potter in schools yet? I think they should. The school curriculum in the US is extremely outdated (we can all live without reading Lord of the Flies ever again) and I think they should replace a few of the books for the Harry Potter stories, in my humble opinion.

Can we let summer pass without reading a Jane Austen novel? Not in this house! May I recommend the timeless, sparkling tale of Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice? If you need another Austen recommendation, Persuasion is a good book for any time of year. Persuasion happens to be my most favorite Jane Austen novel. If you’re interested, I ranked the Jane Austen novels in an earlier post.

Which books would you recommend for summer reading?

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #66

Photo via Pexels.com

Hi, there! So, I bought the audio book for The Heir Affair from Audible. It’s the sequel to The Royal We. Have you read it? It is partially inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but completely fiction. I enjoyed the first book so much. Apparently the whole world did as well, which is why there is a sequel. Hooray for fun sequels!

I’m currently reading The Grimaldis of Monaco. It is so good!! It reads like historical fiction, except it’s all real. Those Princes of Monaco were bad boys. I’m simultaneously reading Paris to the Moon, a collection of essays inspired by the author’s time of living in Paris.

Coronavirus isolation: How to be alone, during a pandemic or anytime. This was really interesting to read. I love staying home, but I take for granted that it can be hard for some people to be alone or stay at home for extended periods of time.

The truth about Christopher Columbus. It’s possible he had two identities.

How to take afternoon tea like a Brit. I’ve been stirring my sugar all wrong!!

21 Writers on Their Favorite Children’s Books.

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #65

I’m not sure how good June was to you, but I sure hope July will treat you better. Remember, wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe! Here is a mix of reading links, not all are related to one or the other, but interesting nonetheless.

Inside Story: Handbags That Made History.

How To Start An Online Library Book Club.

Black Lives Matter.

This Victorian painting depicting two women in love was nearly lost forever.

What Is Owed. “As we focus on police violence, we cannot ignore an even starker indication of our societal failures: Racial income disparities today look no different than they did the decade before King’s March on Washington.” A very powerful essay by Nikole Hannah-Jones for The New York Times.

French history lovers check this out, French Revolution: remains discovered in walls of Paris monument.

My recent book haul, always a happy moment.

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #64

I have to admit, I’m surprised at how many confederate statues there are. Every day there is yet another story of protestors tearing down a statue. I say, good for them. Tear them down faster.

I don’t understand people who say you can’t learn about history (and the Civil War) without the racist statues. To them, I say: I’ve learned so much about so many countries and world events without ever setting foot in those countries. It’s called reading.

I’m writing a book where Nikita Khrushchev loiters in the background. I’ve never seen a statue of him (nor was I able to invent a time machine and travel to the USSR circa 1959) yet I know who he was and what he stood for.

Have you learned anything about something without visiting the country where the event took place?

**

A travel writer contemplates a less mobile future.

Speaking of reading, what does it mean to be well read?

The Brooklyn Book Festival is going completely virtual.

Have you seen this video of Ken Burns talking about the monuments? The video begins with a poignant interview given by James Baldwin.

DW has a really cool series of short videos called Meet the Germans. It’s all about German culture as discovered by a British woman living in Germany with her German husband. Super fun and interesting!

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #63

Another week is drawing to a close, though each week seems to melt into the next. This weekend is the official start of summer and I plan to celebrate it. I don’t know how quite yet (maybe a scenic drive) but I will do something to commemorate it. Also, I have a new thing I’m doing. I listen to the ocean sounds while I work. Sometimes it’s the rainforest or a waterfall. It helps with stress and makes for a nicer work day.

How are you?

xoxo, Jane

The best short stories for every taste and mood.

Your daily dose of joy: Dog ‘adopts’ nine orphaned ducklings.

Interesting read! As a consumer, how can you tell if companies support Black Lives Matter? Do companies really support Black Lives Matter?

The race-related things that have changed since protests began around George Floyd’s death.

Black Owned Tea Brands! This tea lover says: Yes, Please.

Thursday Reading Links #62

Hello! I hope you’re doing well under the circumstances. Here are a few reading links that caught my fancy.

Inside the Culture of Racism at Bon Appétit.

Muriel Bowser and Black women are going after Trump. And they’re winning. And may they keep on winning!

If this doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what will: A teen who spent ten hours cleaning up after a protest in Buffalo is rewarded with a car and a college scholarship.

A Brief Feminist History of Bike-Riding.

Parents must teach their children to oppose racism.

And last, but never ever least: Black Lives Matter.

Be well and stay safe! xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #60

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Hello, there. How are you?

Today’s readings links are brought to you by yours truly.

This was an interesting read about how boredom can spark creativity. I do love being bored and having a lot of downtime. Though it hasn’t resulted in a masterpiece yet. Here’s hoping.

Just when I was telling you that I’m not going to buy any more of the Penguin Clothbound Classics, look what I found: this Sanditon edition. Of course, I couldn’t resist ordering it and it’s on the way. Yippee!

Photo Essay: Bookstores Are Opening, Cautiously, Across the Country.

20 Must-Read Free Classics You Can Find on Project Gutenberg.

In case you missed it, yesterday I wrote about my thoughts on Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting.

This is so cool. Roman mosaic floor found underneath vines in northern Italy. I can’t believe how beautiful (and new) the recently discovered Roman mosaics look.

Have a great day!

xoxo, Jane

 

Thursday Reading Links #59 (Cold War Edition)

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I don’t have any appropriate pictures for this post, so let’s just pretend this trail from my walk is a dead drop.

I’m working on a series of novels (Book 1 is in the editing phase, Book 2 needs to be rewritten and Books 3, 4 and 5 are in the draft outline phase) set during the Cold War. So, I thought I would make today’s reading links all about the Cold War.

What I Learned From Women Who Were Prisoners of the Gulag.

The Long History of the Red Scare as an American Political Tactic, an interview with Kathryn Olmstead, professor of history at the University of California, Davis.

Capitalism’s Baby Mania.

Nazi who arrested Anne Frank became a spy for West Germany.

Activist or spy? The curious case of a Cold War nuclear scientist.

Four Books about the Cold War.

My life under surveillance after I married a KGB agent.

Not about the Cold War, but set during the Reagan administration: Dee Snider on PMRC Hearing: I Was a Public Enemy. Dee Snider of the band Twisted Sister talks about his senate hearing. It’s a fascinating read because he is being brutally honest and doesn’t mind calling people on their hypocrisy. I had no idea that this was even an issue in the 1980s. Sometimes I wonder if politicians create drama and waste taxpayer money because they have too much time on their hands. (Sounds like Dee would agree with me.)

Let me know what you think of the articles.

xoxo, Jane

Thursday Reading Links #58

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Today’s reading links are brought to you by Mother Nature. Enjoy! Have a great day!!

The debate: how many books should you have on the go at once?

This was really fun. Highly recommended to take the quiz. This Soothing Quiz Will Tell You What Feel-Good Book To Read.

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Our new lockdown game: judging famous people by their bookshelves.

Ok, I loved this! I own the same books as a duchess. Footnotes: The Duchess of Cambridge’s viral bookshelf.

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This article is old but it still applies, especially now. The Guardian view on the joy of books: time for guiltless pleasures.

And in case you missed it, pairing books with tea (Emma).

xoxo, Jane