What the Librarian Did by Karina Bliss: Book Review + ASMR Librarian Role Play

by Karina Bliss
Published by Harlequin Super Romance on March 2012
Pages: 249
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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When the librarian met the rock star...

Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn't know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel's refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll." Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she's kept hidden for years.

It's up to this librarian to find out firsthand just how "bad" he really is. Because her secret -- and her growing feelings for a man who claims he's bent on redemption -- depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.

“She’s got a secret that’s long overdue.”

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This scene from Atonement was, of course, one of the first things that came to mind when I saw the cover of What the Librarian Did. But, to my dismay, the author does not utilize this fantastically cliche scene. Nevertheless, this book is hot.

I am blushing as I type this review post; but YES, I read a Harlequin Super Romance. As I went through one of the handy self-checkout stations at my local library, I convinced myself that this romance novel was probably going to be a DNFer. The synopsis did not sound especially intriguing to me, but the cover and the title were enough to make me risk my prudish and professional public reputation in order to check it out.

In spite of my reservations about reading a novel one would typically find in a grocery store check-out aisle, I really enjoyed the book. Interestingly enough, it was the un-romantic aspects of the novel that I liked best. For a 249 page book the characters were thoroughly developed, and the plot was emotionally engaging and intellectually satisfying.

The story of the librarian and the rock star unfolds in an academic library located off the coast of a suburban New Zealand town. The two MCs are in their mid-thirties and both are experiencing an early mid-life crisis when they cross paths. The author’s writing voice is concise, charming, and witty. The mix of humor, drama, and romance makes for an entertaining book that readers will want to finish in one or two sessions.

The romantic tension between the two main characters is expertly escalated in the first third of the book, but it is not all hugs and kisses and steamy sex scenes thereafter. As each character takes a turn playing hard to get, the motivations behind their actions are revealed and prove to be more complex than the thrill of a game of cat and mouse. The librarian and the rock star are both entertaining characters and proved to be more than one-dimensional stereotypes on the page.

A long story short, this sweet and steamy romance successfully achieved its thematic goal: never judge a book-or a person-by the cover.

Just For FUN:

I love ALL THINGS LIBRARY so, naturally, when I see anything that thematically falls into library culture, I must indulge myself. A few months ago on the blog, I revealed my dirty little ASMR secret here, and wouldn’t you know it? Library themed ASMR videos are all over You Tube. LIFE IS GOOD.  Below, I have linked to some of my favorite and some of the quirkiest ASMR Library videos. Enjoy!

Lets start with the CRAY:

Next up, old school:

Time for typing and tingles:

And how could anyone pass up the MEDIEVAL LIBRARY:

Are you a fan of ASMR videos? If so, link me up to your favorites!

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The Gentleman by Forrest LeoThe Gentleman by Forrest Leo
Published by Penguin Press Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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When Lionel Savage, a popular poet in Victorian London, learns from his butler that they're broke, he marries the beautiful Vivien Lancaster for her money, only to find that his muse has abandoned him.

Distraught and contemplating suicide, Savage accidentally conjures the Devil -- the polite "Gentleman" of the title -- who appears at one of the society parties Savage abhors. The two hit it off: the Devil talks about his home, where he employs Dante as a gardener; Savage lends him a volume of Tennyson. But when the party's over and Vivien has disappeared, the poet concludes in horror that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the dark lord.

Newly in love with Vivien, Savage plans a rescue mission to Hell that includes Simmons, the butler; Tompkins, the bookseller; Ashley Lancaster, swashbuckling Buddhist; Will Kensington, inventor of a flying machine; and Savage's spirited kid sister, Lizzie, freshly booted from boarding school for a "dalliance." Throughout, his cousin's quibbling footnotes to the text push the story into comedy nirvana.

Lionel and his friends encounter trapdoors, duels, anarchist-fearing bobbies, the social pressure of not knowing enough about art history, and the poisonous wit of his poetical archenemy. Fresh, action-packed and very, very funny, The Gentleman is a giddy farce that recalls the masterful confections of P.G. Wodehouse and Hergé's beautifully detailed Tintin adventures.

“A funny, fantastically entertaining debut novel, in the spirit of Wodehouse and Monty Python, about a famous poet who inadvertently sells his wife to the devil–then recruits a band of adventurers to rescue her.”

This is a short and sweet book review.

I read this book back in February because I was planning on reviewing it for National Poetry Month (in April), but April was busier than I anticipated. Thus, I am reviewing it now, even though its hilarity and cleverness are not freshly imprinted on my brain.

This witty and entertaining Victorian era novel is true to form and unfolds in 19th century dialect. The Gentleman is not a fast read because of the period syntax, but it is oh, so enjoyable. Period detail throughout is on point, and the characters are delightfully shallow. You will end up staging this book like a theatre play in your mind’s eye because it is so easy to imagine the story world and characters from the author’s exquisite attention to detail.

I just really like this cat picture…

Fans of Jane Austen’s Emma will enjoy the twists and turns and mixups that the popular poet, Lionel Savage, encounters. The story switches narration between the poet and his editor, who admits that he reluctantly published the poet’s story that readers are indulging in. (The editor regularly interjects with footnotes and quotes before the beginning of chapters.) Read the fictional editor’s note that opens the book below:

EDITOR’S NOTE.

I have been charged with editing these

pages and seeing them through to

publication, but I do not like the task.

I wish it on record that I think

it better they had been burned.

— Hubert Lancaster, Esq

The poet’s wife, Vivien, is a satisfying character that ends up stealing the show, in my opinion.

A literary comedy of errors that will enchant fans of poetry, the Victorian era, and historical mysteries, The Gentleman is as enjoyable for its form, syntax, and witticisms, as it is for its characters and plots.

 

 

 

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Worlds of Ink and Shadow ( A Novel of the Brontes) by Lena Coakley

by Lena Coakley
on January 5, 2016
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been close. After all, nothing can unite four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict, spartan upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

From the Bronte Parsonage Museum

 

This is the kind of book that you want to plan a whole photo shoot for. Isn’t the cover fabulous!? Of course, the title of the book is pretty fabulous as well.

And that, my friends, is exactly why I went into this novel with a little trepidation.

Would the story be equally amazing, creating a trinity of bookish brilliance?

I should know better than to ask so much from books with beautiful covers.

While I was not blown away by the story, I was continually intrigued by it. I enjoyed what I learned about the Brontes, and I would definitely recommend this book to any fan of their writing.

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I love the writing of the Bronte sisters. I also love reading novels set in the nineteenth century, and I have read many, so the author had her work cut out for her. I just did not adore this novel as much as I had hoped I would. I think the reason for this was mostly my fault. Reading fantasy is always a challenge for me. I found it a little difficult to keep up with the characters within the Brontes’ created worlds.

Despite my too high expectations, this book was a lot of fun. It was filled with darkness, magic, and mayhem. Sibling rivalries and deceptions abound within the walls and imaginary worlds of the Brontes’ home. Worlds of Ink and Shadow reminded me of Jumanji or Night at the Museum in some aspects.

Oh! And there is a Bronte brother! This book introduced me to Bramwell, the brother to the Bronte sisters that I did not even know existed. According to the author’s book, he was equally as creative as his female siblings.

Click on the picture to be redirected to an interesting article in Emily Bronte from The Paris Review.

Emily-Bronte-Paris-Review

The plot was slow-moving, reminiscent of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Unlike these novels, however, there is no passionate and forbidden love story. There is a thread of romantic feelings between two characters in the novel, that mirrors Heathcliff and Catherine’s in Wuthering Heights, but nothing that is ever developed to capacity.

This novel is a window into the psyches and daily lives that shaped the writing of the Brontes. The author shows how, despite their creative talents and impulses, the Brontes were forced to create alternate lives for themselves, with ink and paper, to escape the oppressive culture that only provided them with two narratives to live their lives by: become a governess spinster or marry into the cult of domesticity. While the Bronte siblings had a relatively free and rich life within their home, the real-world that they were aging into would not have allowed them the same freedoms. It is no wonder that they created such dark and magical parallel lives. The world beyond their hearth would not be as accommodating to their talents and temperaments.

To Walk Invisble: The Bronte Sisters ( A Masterpiece Original series)

The author did a wonderful job drawing from the thematic material of each Bronte sisters’ writing to shape the Gothic fantasy world that occupied and controlled the lives of the Bronte family within her novel. Themes of despair, love, loss, religion, and gendered oppression are all touched upon. The critique of women’s roles and expectations in nineteenth century England was, in fact, the most compelling part of the novel for me. Worlds of Ink and Shadow gives twenty-first century readers a glimpse into the stark reality for women during the Brontes’ lifetime. The fact that any of them found the opportunity to put pen to paper was an anomaly all its own.

Did you read Worlds of Ink and Shadow? Please leave a comment, and let me know what you thought!

And Just For FUN:

Here is a fantastic and informative promo video for the novel, narrated by the author herself:

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How to Hang a Witch by Adriana MatherHow to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 26, 2016
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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It's the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren't enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it's Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Ummmm….An actual relative of COTTON FRIGGIN’ MATHER wrote a book about witches. How am I not going to read and like this book?!?!

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Cotton Mather

When I started Adriana Mather’s debut novel, How to Hang a Witch, I knew I was in for a spooky-good time. My anticipation was met, and then some, by the end of the novel. Besides being historically on point, this book was a magical mash-up of some of my favorite 90s and 00’s films.

Ghost+ The Craft+ Mean Girls+The Crucible= A unique YA novel that entertains and educates to the beat of its own drum.

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The Craft 1996 film

When Samantha Mather moves back to her ancestral family’s hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, old family feuds and ghostly apparitions are conjured, drawing Samantha into the dark history of her family’s past. As a descendant of the infamous Cotton Mather, Samantha immediately becomes a person of interest at school for the local ‘mean girls coven’, and she is swept up in a storm of rumors, bullying, hauntings, and black magic.

Image result for cotton mather's house salem massachusetts

Oh, and there just might be a peculiar love triangle…or quadrilateral that fits itself into the story.

I loved the setting of this book. The creepy old house, with creaking stairs and A SECRET LIBRARY, absolutely seduced me from the beginning of the book.

The antagonists in the story (there are a handful of them) are the kind you love to hate, and I was left guessing until the very end about who was truly evil and vengeful, and who was just an insecure bully.

Samantha was a smart and strong MC, and I was equally torn between the two romantic interests that complicate her life beyond witchcraft.

This book was a fast read for me because I had a hard time putting it down. Besides the fact that I love all things witches, I really enjoyed the snippets of historical insight that Mather provides in the novel, straight out of her own, personal family history.

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I will say that there were times when this book felt schizophrenic. It was almost as if the author could not decided what type of creepy story she wanted to write. In the end, I decided to roll with it. It was fun, entertaining, and unique because of the author’s lineage.

Have you read How to Hang a Witch? What did you think?!

And Just for FUN:

A home video of some of the Witch Trial memorial sites introduced by a tour guide:

An interesting student-made documentary about the tourism and spectacle that surround the Witch Trials:

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