Modern Reader

"Never trust anyone who has not

brought a book with them"

-Lemony Snicket

How do you live in a world not defined by the stories you've read? 

Originally posted by Penguin Random House
Originally posted by Penguin Random House

Lady of Letters

Lady of Letters - Jacqueline Diamond For a historical romance written in the 80s it really doesn't get better. I was so shocked that I loved this story so much. It had undertones of Love and Friendship, the same lightness and humorous archetypal characters you love to hate and hate to love. At 176 pages it's an easy read, but a worthwhile one


Longbourn - Jo Baker I never thought it was possible to think less of Wickham, detest Mr. Bennet more so, or sympathize with Mrs. Bennet despite her goings on about her nerves. In the kitchens and horse barns real characters live and work, ones which I found easier to connect with than Elizabeth or Jane who are represented as rather more aloof and unknowing of what must happen behind the scenes to afford their quality of life. I think there's a more mature and captivating love story between the restless Sarah and the wandering James, who both carry with them both figurative and quite literal emotional baggage. Honestly, James Smith is too good for this world and I'd take him over Ptolemy, no doubt.

Lord John and the Haunted Soldier

Lord John and the Haunted Soldier - Diana Gabaldon The most anti-climatic of the three novellas, sadly

Lord John and the Succubus

Lord John and the Succubus - Diana Gabaldon As is the Gabaldon way, there are many strings to follow, but the pain taken to remember all the details pays off in the end. Very mysterious!

The Book of Speculation

The Book of Speculation - Erika Swyler I can usually find more things to love about a book than to hate. The best thing about this book was its cover. I will admit the story of Peabody and the Wild Boy was more interesting than the first-person narration from Simon. He was boring. The book as a whole was boring despite a good quote here and there.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson As an American it's easy to be offended by this book--much of the descriptions are not complimentary, and are, on the whole, stereotypical. Considering the author has lived in America for the past 20 years I find it hard to believe that she can't at least tolerate us. That being said, the point of this wonderful book was to recognize stereotypes and the judgmental tendencies of a society set in their ways. So for those who felt like Simonson was going out of her way to criticize Americans, quite honestly you're just illustrating the point! The intelligent character of Jasmina Ali was so even tempered despite the appropriation of her culture and the blatant Islamophobia directed towards her from the community in which she lived. The Major, whose appreciation of manners and all things purely English, could have easily been seen as brash and snobbish, but upon developing a friendship with the outed Mrs. Ali, readers come to realize that he too is influenced by prejudice, though he is able to see through it and fall in love with a woman he had never expected to fall in love with. When I picked this book up a few years ago I couldn't see how I would be able to understand or feel emotionally connected to a romance between a 58 year old woman and a 68 year old man. However, now I consider this to be one of the sweetest, most honest love stories ever written.

The Diary of Mattie Spenser

The Diary of Mattie Spenser - Sandra Dallas I would not have been able to withstand the number of sad events in this story had it not been for Mattie's humor. She's a lovable protagonist who didn't deserve the pain she was forced to endure. One moment in the story that stuck with me was the revelation that it was illegal for men to abuse and starve their cattle, but it was acceptable for them to do so to their wives. In my modern frame of mind I can't even fathom how this was viewed as civil. Reading the story I felt a mingled sense of grief, for Mattie and the other women on the plains, and gratefulness that I was born in a time advanced beyond this general acceptance of what we now call barbaric treatment of women. I loved the prose, but the ending left me with an "I don't know" feeling. Sorta empty, sorta wanting more.

The Third Angel

The Third Angel - Alice Hoffman I really didn't like Maddy, but Frieda and Lucy were incredible characters. One of those books you'll still be thinking about years later

Second Glance: A Novel

Second Glance: A Novel - Jodi Picoult I had actually started to read this book a few years ago and stopped 50 pages in because I couldn't get into it. Having read 11 of Jodi's books, all of which I loved, I figured Second Glance was worth another try. I couldn't get myself to like Ross, but the suspense surrounding the strange occurrences in Comtosook kept me on the edge. I was fairly certain the ending would be very Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which I really was not prepared for. Appreciated the themes of the book, being the closeted romantic that I am, and ended up being surprised by the amount of research she must have gone through to create an intricately detailed story of love and loss.

The Rose Grower

The Rose Grower - Michelle de Kretser The prose was absolutely beautiful. The book could have easily been boring if her choice of vocabulary wasn't so poetic. I felt the pains of loneliness Sophie suffered through, and the longing that Joseph endured despite the chaos surrounding him and the rest of France. Although the ending broke my heart, I really did enjoy a story about people fighting the French Revolution in their own quiet ways.


Ulysses - James Joyce I read through half the book and spent the second half reading through a Ulysses companion, attempting to understand exactly what was written. I can say that James Joyce undoubtedly had skill and was able to imbue humor into this story, but like most other readers of this lengthy novel I found it very hard to stay entertained. And it's not Joyce's fault. I'm just going to stick to linear story telling...

Written in My Own Heart's Blood

Written in My Own Heart's Blood - Diana Gabaldon And thus begins the terrible wait for book nine


Persuasion - Jane Austen This one may be my new favorite, replacing Pride and Prejudice.


Stardust - Neil Gaiman Definitely different than the movie...