Pub. Year: 2011
When I first heard of Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, I wanted to read it because Sankovitch is a book blogger over at ReadAllDay.org. I was ecstatic to see a fellow book blogger come out with a book about reading.
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair is Sankovitch’s memoir about the year that she challenged herself to read and review a book everyday for the whole year. Well that’s what HarperCollins says the book is about but it’s not really. Tolstoy is more of a book about grief and finding ways to live after the loss of a loved one. The author, a life-long reader, just finds a way through her grief with books. That’s okay but I expected a memoir that dealt more heavily with reading than grief and that’s not what the book is. I was about halfway through the book when I realized it so I had to change my expectations. The book is filled with some great observations about reading but it wasn’t enough for me. Though many bloggers have loved this book, sadly I’m in the “like” group. Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Pub. Year: 2011
Source: Public Library
The leather-bound volume was nothing remarkable. To an ordinary historian, it would have looked no different from hundreds of other manuscripts in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, ancient and worn. But I knew there was something odd about it from the moment I collected it.
I read a lot of positive reviews about A Discovery of Witches including Carrie’s from Books and Movies. So I downloaded the book on a whim, just in case I needed something different from all the non-fiction I’ve been reading lately. What a difference!
Diana Bishop is an American historian who comes from a long line of powerful witches but has refused to learn the craft in hopes of a normal life. A visiting scholar at Oxford University, she’s working on a paper about alchemy for an upcoming conference when she comes across an old bewitched book called Ashmolem 782. Diana is unaware of what Ashmolen really is: a book written by the very first witch that tells of the origins of the three creatures that walk among humans; witches, vampires, and daemons. When the world of creatures realizes that Diana has been able to open the book, all three groups want her on their side for the book’s contents and the chance to be the most powerful. With the help of a mysterious vampire by the name of Matthew Clairmont, the pair travel around the world trying to keep Diana safe from those who want to harm her while trying to get Diana to learn how to control her emerging magical abilities before it’s too late.
It’s almost too hard to write about what I loved (and didn’t) about this book but I’ll give it a try.
- I loved that at almost 600 pages there was never a dull moment and the author did a great job with the pacing. This isn’t a book that leaves you thinking that there were chapters or pages that could have been left out. Every page was needed.
- There’s so much that’s been written about vampires, witches, and daemons but A Discovery of Witches adds on to that genre in a refreshing way by intertwining history and science which reaches out to not only readers of fantasy but also to those who love history even that which isn’t real.
- I love the Bishop house and its inhabitants, dead and living. The Bishop house was a character itself since it could open and close doors, hide objects, and misbehave when it wanted to.
- The book is a chunkster (over 350 pages), but it reads so well that I didn’t want to sleep until I finished it. Luckily I did get some sleep in though at the time I really didn’t want to.
- From the way the book ended, I’m sure it’s at least a trilogy so there will be more books to come about Diana, Matthew, (and hopefully) the Bishop house.
What I didn’t like about the book:
- Readers come to understand Diana’s reasons why she won’t (and can’t) use her powers. But I disliked how she refused to try even though there were so many people who wanted her dead or wished to harm her to get her on their side. Harkness made readers see how scared Diana was but I think after awhile you have to fight back or just lie down and die. Once Diana started using her powers (that’s not a spoiler) it was refreshing to see this new strength rise out and take charge.
- Matthew Clairmont was in love with Diana from the moment he saw her but some of his behavior had me wondering whose side he was on until the very end. That part I didn’t mind since it kept me guessing but it didn’t keep Diana wondering. Matthew constantly kept secrets from Diana even when there wasn’t a reason to. His controlling nature reminded me of a certain famous sparkling vampire.
Even with its flaws, A Discovery of Witches is a great book that I can definitely recommend. Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5.