Category Archives: Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday: The Post-Christmas edition

image of an old-fashioned post office with the words Royal Mail.

I’ve been a rather negligent blogger this past year, and although I expect I’ll be busier than ever during the first third of 2013 as I juggle a full-time job in my chosen field with finishing the last course of my graduate degree (by distance), I still hope to become more active on here.

As I’ve said before, I love the idea behind Mailbox Monday, which serves as a weekly gathering place for readers to share their newly acquired books. Originally created by Marcia at Hooked by a Book (formerly The Printed Page), it is now being hosted on a monthly basis as the ‘Mailbox Monday Blog Tour’ and can be found at Lori’s Reading Corner during the month of January. Although I rarely receive enough reading material in one go to merit devoting a post to it, Christmas is the exception as I was recently supplied with more than enough books to keep me occupied!

The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips shifts between Restoration-era London ( a new favourite time of mine to read about) and present- day Cambridge in a historical mystery.

Gillian Bagwell’s The Darling Strumpet is also set in Restoration England. After reading about the famous actress and mistress of Charles II Nell Gwynn in Priya Parmar’s novel Exit the Actress, I was eager for more. I look forward to reading a different take on Nell’s rise from orange girl to royal mistress.

Jumping ahead to 1850s London, The Agency series by Y.S. Lee was recommended to me by a close friend, who enjoyed the banter and interesting female protagonist. A Spy in the House is the first novel in this YA series about an orphan instructed at a school that also happens to be a front for an all-female investigative unit.

Those three have been on my wishlist for awhile so I look forward to diving into them. Although the next two are new to me, they come highly recommended as well. I’m familiar with John Green, of course, and attended grad school with at least one “nerdfighter”, but have never read any of his works. The Fault in Our Stars will be my introduction to the author. As a historical fiction novel, Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, is perhaps closer to my preferred genre. It tells the story of a pilot and an undercover spy who are forced to endure capture in Nazi-occupied France during WWII.

When I first saw the fantastic HBO miniseries John Adams several years ago I loved Abigail and John, but was perhaps most captivated by Stephen Dillane’s portrayal of the complicated Thomas Jefferson. I’ve been looking for a good biography on the man for awhile, and was extremely pleased to receive Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham for Christmas, particularly as I am hoping to visit Monticello later this year.

Although I was the one doing the gifting, I should also mention Veronica Roth’s Divergent, which I bought my mother for Christmas, idly started flipping through and before I knew it was halfway through! I stole borrowed that one back for a few days to finish it off and now have the sequel on hold at the local library.

The Devlin Diary by Christi PhillipsDarling Strumpet by Gillian BagwellA Spy in the House by Y.S. Leethe Fault in Our Stars by John GreenCode Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinThomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

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Mailbox Monday: Christmas edition

After taking a hiatus to concentrate on coursework, I’m returning to Truth in Fiction with a Christmas edition of Mailbox Monday. I don’t usually receive enough books to participate in the weekly meme, which encourages readers to share the new books they’ve acquired each week, but during family get-togethers after Christmas I was well-supplied with enough fiction and non-fiction to ward off the boredom of a long Canadian winter.

Mailbox Monday began at The Printed Page but is now being hosted on a monthly basis as the ‘Mailbox Monday Blog Tour’. For the month of January it can be found at Rose City Reader.

Sir William Garrow: His Life, Times and Fight for Justice has been on my wish list for awhile so I was thrilled to find it under the tree! Written by legal historian John Hostettler and Richard Braby, a descendant of Garrow’s, it details the life of Sir William Garrow, an eighteenth century lawyer who changed the English criminal trial. Garrow spent the first ten years of his career as a defender at The Old Bailey and became known for his aggressive cross-examination, but later in life he changed sides and conducted prosecutions against political radicals while his colleague, Lord Erskine, defended them and became the more celebrated lawyer. Garrow’s early career has been dramatized in the wonderful British drama Garrow’s Law, which concluded its successful second season in December.

For my birthday several months ago my Aunt gave me Aristocrats, Stella Tillyard’s biography of the Lennox Sisters who became influential in Georgian England, so it was only fitting that I received Tillyard’s other titles, A Royal Affair and Citizen Lord: The Life of Edward Fitzgerald, Irish Revolutionary from her for Christmas.

A Royal Affair is concerned with King George III of England and his siblings, primarily his sister Caroline Mathilde whose affair with a court doctor ended in tragedy. Also featuring the king’s brothers, who delighted the gossip-hungry press by partying and carrying on disastrous relationships, Tillyard’s biography suggests that George III’s refusal to give up America can be attributed to his desire to control the colonists in the same way that he tried to rule his siblings.

Her other title, Citizen Lord, chronicles the life of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, a Dubliner who fought with the British in the American War of Independence, visited revolutionary France, and took part in the 1798 Irish rebellion. A blurb on the back of the work writes that Lord Edward “grew up as vigorous as Garibaldi and passionate as Byron”. That description alone is enough to pique my interest!

Continuing with the Irish theme, I received Morgan Llywelyn’s 1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion. I first borrowed this fictionalized account of the Easter Rising from the library last March as part of the Ireland Reading Challenge, and am thrilled to have my own copy of this fantastic novel to re-read and keep. You can find my review of it here!

My final historical addition is Kate Pullinger’s Mistress of Nothing. The novel, which won the 2009 Governor General’s Literary Award recognizing excellence in Canadian literature, is loosely based on the writings of Lady Lucie Duff-Gordon. Lady Duff-Gordon moved to Egypt in order to help manage her tuberculosis and published Letters from Egypt in 1865. Pullinger’s novel places Sally, the lady’s maid accompanying her, as the narrator who eventually must learn that despite the new freedoms life in Egypt has granted her, she is ultimately mistress of nothing.

I was also fortunate enough to receive a pair of fantasy novels to read when I’d rather escape to another world than the past. I’ve been meaning to read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman for awhile and asked for the novel this Christmas in the hopes of finally sitting down to read it. This collaboration by two of the biggest names in fantasy was nominated for the World Fantasy Award in 1990 and concerns the efforts of the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley to postpone the end of the world after the apocalypse is announced.

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians tells the story of a teenager, Quentin Coldwater, disappointed in real life and secretly fascinated by a series of fantasy novels set in a magical land of Fillory. Life becomes much more interesting when he’s admitted to a college of magic in New York and discovers that Fillory is real, but he soon realizes that the reality is darker than his childhood fantasy and more dangerous.

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Filed under British History, Irish History, Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday

I’ve been reading other bloggers’ weekly posts but today marks the first time I’ve taken part in Mailbox Monday, a weekly meme hosted by The Printed Page. The aim is to provide a “gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week”, but the site warns that “Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.” Although the meme is often used by book bloggers receiving review copies, I’ve chosen to include books I’ve purchased.

I received just one book this week, but it’s one that I’m very excited about. The Younger Pitt: The Years of Acclaim is the first book in a three volume biography of William Pitt the Younger, the man who became Prime Minister of Britain at age 24.

Thanks to my beloved Alumni library card, I was able to borrow The Younger Pitt last month from the University library, but, at over 650 pages, it’s a dense read and I reluctantly returned it unfinished. Fortunately, used copies are available through a number of booksellers online and I found a copy at Prairie Archives, an Illinois bookstore specializing in history books.

Ehrman’s The Younger Pitt: The Years of Acclaim was originally published in 1969 and is the definitive biography of the important statesman. In power between 1783-1801 and again from 1804-1806, Pitt rehabilitated the nation’s finances following the costly American War of Independence, and was in power during the war with France. Ehrman’s first volume covers Pitt’s early life and career, finishing with the Regency crisis, and continues the story in subsequent volumes The Consuming Struggle and The Reluctant Transition

I greatly enjoyed reading William Hague’s more recent biography and look forward to reading the rest of this more comprehensive work!

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Filed under British History, Mailbox Monday