Mix-Tape Mondays: A Fistful of Rampion

Ending the year on a strong note, I’m bringing it home with the last installment of


for 2013.

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Mix-Tape Mondays: David and Goliath

Merry Christmas Eve-eve, friends and readers! I have prepared a little present for you. The first of my diversified


in which I expand my self-created sonic universe to include more than ten song playlists for books.

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Random Review: Bitter Greens

A Rapunzel far more Grimm than Tangled.

Bitter Greens by Kate ForsythBitter-Greens

Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens is the braided tale of three women’s lives, wound around the structure of the Rapunzel fairy tale. Three different women locked in three different versions of a tower, finding themselves there because of others’ actions. Imprisonment, violation, escape, and salvation play out again and again against a backdrop of Renaissance Italy and Rococo-era France.

This novel offers three (or more, depending on your interpretation) strong female characters at its core. Their stories are masterfully intertwined with Forsyth’s intimate knowledge of the culture, history, and languages of France and Italy. Each of the characters suffers every horror unique to the lives of women at the time and in general, without the whole affair turning into some kind of penny-dreadful. The narrative winds between all three women in a way that is never confusing, in fact it seems to make perfect sense. Famous historical figures appear, but Forsyth never overdoes it. The Sun King is a character is Charlotte’s tale, not an encyclopedia entry. The same goes for the painter Titian and La Bella Strega.  The author has woven a magnificent tapestry with the delicate handling of too many plot threads to count. It’s astonishing to behold.

All of the elements of the core fairy tale are here: a witch with rampion in the garden, a prince blinded by thorns, hair tumbling from a high tower window that it might be scaled…but the pieces have been joined in ways that seems perfectly natural. Only slightly removed from reality.

If you like France or Italy, sumptuous food or the idea of life at court, music or art or fairy tales…even black magic…this book is for you!

Chair Rating:


Regal, powerful, and unabashedly feminine.

2013 Literary Year In Review

Just in time for last-minute Christmas book-buying, it’s time again to take a look back at all the books I loved and loathed in 2013 (and I’ve got quite the backlog of reviews.) I did not get to read as much this year as I usually do, with school and my overseas teaching job keeping me on the run. I apologize for the repetitive answers.


1.Best Book You Read In 2013 by genre?

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn’t?

  •  Son by Lois Lowry

3. Most Surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth – I bought it based on a Twitter comment, and only had the vaguest idea of what to expect. What I got was nearly perfect.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

5. Best Series You Discovered in 2013?

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

  •  Kate Forsyth. It takes forever to get her books from England, but they are so completely worth the trouble.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

  • The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin – I don’t read a lot of contemporary literature because there’s usually a lot of grimy sex and crime and drugs and cursing and it all makes me very tired of the world. I had read Shopgirl and while it was fine, it didn’t have me seeking out Martin’s new work. Luck put a copy of this book in the dormitory I lived in while working in Germany.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

  •  I stayed up all night reading Bitter Greens. Like, ’til dawn.

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

  • I will probably re-read The Dream Thieves just before the next book in the series comes out.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?












11. Most memorable character in 2013?

  • Just about everyone in Peter Pan, Daniel Pecan Cambridge.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

13. Book that  had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma. I already spent a lot of time thinking about food, but that book actually pushed me to make some philosophical decisions about where my food budget goes. Mr. ArmchairAuthor and I no longer go to McDonald’s even as a guilty pleasure, and though we have limited resources we spend a little extra for meat and dairy from grass-fed cows. Thankfully those things are readily available in our rural town, which lies in the valley where most of the country’s food is grown.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

  • Peter Pan. Seriously, I used to rent the stage play of Peter Pan from the library every other week (my mom was super sick of it), and I bought the live action film from 2003 and made all the girls in Germany watch it with me. Why did I wait so long to read that book?

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?Peter_Pan__Neverland_by_SetsunaMitzukai

  • “We too have been there; we can still hear the sound of the surf, though we shall land no more.” – J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2013?

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it:

  • Peter Pan made me laugh so hard I was dying to share it with someone, Bitter Greens was beautiful and shocking in many scenes. The “final showdown” scene in The Dream Thieves was epic.

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013.

  • Aristotle and Dante.

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously.

20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else.

  • Bitter Greens. Maggie Stiefvater asked her Twitter followers to recommend read-alikes for her novels, and someone put this one forward. I read the synopsis, and the rest is history.

21. Genre you read the most from in 2013.

  • This year was a little more diverse than others, given the circumstances, but Fantasy remained a heavy hitter on my reading list.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013.

  • Call me crazy, but I don’t get crushes on fictional characters. Perhaps that makes me no fun, but it’s just the truth.

23. Best 2013 debut you read.

  • I don’t think I read any debuts.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013.

27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out.

28. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)

  • Though I did not post very many this year, I enjoyed putting together playlists for Mix-Tape Mondays. I have some ides for this meme in the new year that will take it away from just soundtracks for books (though I will still do that.)

29. Most popular bookish blog post of the year.

30. Book you’re most anticipating for 2014.download (1)

31. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014.