NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)

Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!


Monday, June 29, 2009


by Andre Aciman

"Time makes us sentimental. Perhaps, in the end, it is because of time that we suffer." (Call Me by Your Name, p. 232)

Call Me By Your Name is the story of a young Italian man who falls deeply for his parents' summer guest, an American scholar working on a philosophy book. Their turbulent and passionate six weeks together is destined to end, but the emotions that memories evoke linger as each of their lives takes its own path.

Anyone who has ever had any kind of relationship will be able to identify with the angst of uncertainty that your feelings will be returned in kind, the excitement of a new love, the pain of loss, and the bittersweetness of memory. Andre Aciman so beautifully puts into words the confusion and euphoria, the loathing and adoration that I could see images of my own reckless youth in those of Elio and Oliver.

This was only the second book this year that made me cry. Not racking sobs like the first one, but earnest tears for the beauty of the tenderness that remained in the hearts of Elio and Oliver so many years after they parted. We should all be so lucky to have had such a moment in time to look back upon and smile, even if it hurts.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

LLP: 2009 Third Quarter Goals

Wow. June has flown by so quickly I nearly forgot I need to set my third quarter goals for my Lifetime Learning Plan! Because these next three months will be spent engaged in outdoor reading as much as possible, I'm going to let the goals be fairly open ended without a lot of "textbooks at the dining room table" time. Here is what I would like to work on between now and September 30, 2009:

1) My main focus will be the Reading Challenges I signed up for. Because the Countdown Challenge will end Sept. 9, I will make that one my primary driver and aim to finish it along with at least seven others.

Decades Reading Challenge **Finished July 2, 2009**

2nds Reading Challenge **Finished July 12, 2009**

Pub Challenge **Finished July 29, 2009**

Support Your Local Library Challenge **Finished August 5, 2009**

1% Well Read Challenge **Finished August 10, 2009**

The Countdown Challenge **Finished September 6, 2009** (Yahoo! Did it!!)

2) Finish up The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative

3) I have at least three Knowledge Blocks in progress, including the one I originally wrote about regarding Art Forgery. I will try to rein in my literary ADD long enough to finish at least one of those blocks and write about it. I'm guessing it will be the one on the Borgias as that is my current obsession. :-) Though I also have one in the works on the Pacific War that I'm finding very interesting also. Decisions, decisions . . .

4) Continue picking away at books and lectures from my Teaching Company Course "Classic Novels: Meeting the Challenge of Great Literature".

I think that should keep me busy for a while. As for monthly goals, I think I'll alter that part of my plan by reporting which parts of these Quarterly Goals I accomplished at the end of each month rather than reporting what I plan to do at the beginning of each month. I tend to change my mind as days roll on, and it's kind of silly overkill for the blog posts. However, I reserve the right to go back to my original plan if I find myself wandering too far astray. Or simply to do whatever I want and quit apologizing to myself like I did something wrong. :-)

I'll link my progress posts as the months continue to fly by far too quickly:


In the meantime, Happy Reading, Everyone!

Friday, June 26, 2009

We Got Him!!

Yes, that would be a Minnesota Timberwolves cap on the head of Ricky Rubio!! All of us at the Draft Party went crazy! Now to cut through all the NBA "business" and actually get him here, which, it turns out, may be problematic. Oh, well. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I have a show tonight, so I'll be singing instead of reading. But after this, I have a couple of months with no shows and no dog trials, so you all know where I'll be: On the patio with a stack of books. Until then, and in honor of our newest T-Wolf, here are Tony and I playing one of the songs we'll be doing tonight -- "Sweet Child 'O Mine":

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Please, Please, Pretty Please!

Tonight is the NBA Draft, and my Timberwolves are sure making it exciting! We traded Mike Miller and Randy Foye the other night for another great first round draft pick (we now have four total), but I get so attached to our guys that it's always difficult for me to see players leave due to trades, non-renewed contracts, etc. However, rumor has it that this is the man we may be going after:

Wouldn't that just suck to have to watch him play all season long? ;-) I'm thinking court side seats for next season. And I'll sell the plan to Peter under the guise of him needing a better view of the Dance Team. It's not totally a lie. He really would get a better view of the Dance Team. I like it! I think it will work! I mean, after all, if they're going to trade away all my favorite players (please don't trade Craig Smith, please don't trade Craig Smith), the least they can do is give me this Ricky Rubio guy to look at, right? (Holy cow. He's only 18 years old. I feel like a dirty old lady!)

I'll let you know tomorrow if I have to upgrade our seats. Maybe they'll let me be the Gatorade Girl during the games?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


by Jean Plaidy

"In a castle in the mountains outside Rome, Lucrezia Borgia is born into history's most notorious family. Her father, who is to become Pope Alexander VI, receives his daughter warmly, and her brothers, Cesare and Giovanni, are devoted to her. But on the corrupt and violent streets of the capital it is a very different story: the Borgia family is feared, and Lucrezia's father lives up to his reputation as 'the most carnal man of his age'." (From the cover of the Arrow Books edition.)

I was gushing just the other day about the ability to get Jean Plaidy reprints from Book Depository. Madonna of the Seven Hills was my first purchase from there, and I'm so glad I took the plunge! I've read Jean Plaidy a couple of times before, and I still feel that she is great for that dose of "history lite" that I find I so often want. The stories tend to move quickly but highlight the important people and events.

One of the best parts of reading this version of Lucrezia Borgia's life is that my memories of The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis are so fresh in my mind. It was fascinating to compare how the two authors took the same set of facts and approached them in vastly different ways. For example, Kalogridis took the Borgia incest rumors head on, while Plaidy chose to portray the family as simply weirdly affectionate. They both agreed on the brutality of Cesare and Giovanni Boria and the corruption of Pope Alexander VI, but Plaidy hinted at it much more than blatantly showing their actions. Lucrezia's first pregnancy is told very differently in each book, but I believe the same man dies for it. (I can't check my Kalogridis book right now because a friend has it. Sorry!) Sanchia of Aragon, the heroine of The Borgia Bride, has a wildly different persona in Madonna of the Seven Hills. Both authors, however, cut Lucrezia some serious slack regarding her evil image. Now I'm wondering if she really was as bad as I've heard! Don't worry. I'll keep seeing what I can find out. :-)

Plaidy has split Lucrezia's story into two books, and I have Light on Lucrezia sitting right here to get to very, very soon. I already know how it ends, but it will be so much fun finding out how Ms. Plaidy gets there!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Skye!

Our Skye-man is five years old today! Skye is our rescue Border Collie and the "serious" one of the two. His favorite activities are agility lessons (but only if Daddy is running him), getting squirted with the garden hose, sheep herding, and lying in the grass scoping the neighborhood for anything that may need to be rounded up.

Happy Birthday, Skye!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Depository, I Love You!

I have officially fallen for Book Depository and their "No Shipping Charge" policy. And now I'm in big trouble, because I can get so many of Jean Plaidy's books that aren't reissued here in the states yet. I'm currently reading her books about Lucrezia Borgia, and I just ordered her Medici Trilogy, which are pictured here. Aren't they beautiful?? I mean, despite the continuation of the whole "headless woman" look. :-) And I can get her French Revolution Series and I can get the Plantagenet Saga without having to read the nasty old ones in the library. (I mean that with love, Mr. Library.) Oh, and the Ferdinand and Isabella Trilogy is available, too! This could be the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship . . .

Saturday, June 20, 2009


by Richard Wolffe

Among the overabundance of political pundits during the 2008 presidential election, Richard Wolffe was my favorite. He appeared to be an Obama supporter, but it always seemed to me he was attempting to be fair to both sides. He pointed out the Obama campaign's flaws and didn't have problems praising the McCain campaign when he felt it was deserved. He continues that fairness in this book.

Renegade: The Making of a President is a behind-the-scenes look at the Obama campaign from a man who was there from the announcement of Obama's candidacy in Springfield, Illinois to his victory on election night, inauguration and transition. You'll see Barack Obama when he's not so cool and collected. You'll see his fears and doubts about enduring the harsh grind of the election, and his conflicting emotions about uprooting his young family. And you'll see him grow from a somewhat awkward, unprepared underdog to the man you see in the White House today.

If you're looking for dirt on the Clinton and/or McCain campaigns, you'll not find it here. Wolffe leaves his personal opinions mostly unstated and gives a journalist's view of the events without partisan embellishment. He moves quickly forward and backward through through the two year process, touching on both stories we've all heard and private moments you'll only see here. Renegade will not convince the anti-Obama faction that the right man currently occupies the Oval Office, but folks who would like to see a peek at the real man behind the celebrity status and calm demeanor or experience an insider's look at that historic election should get their hands on this book.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

To Read Deep or Read Wide?

In Beowulf on the Beach, one of Jack Murnighan's "Tips on Reading Classics--and Good Books in General" reads as follows:

"Don't have literary one-night stands. Go back again and again; the really good ones get better and better. Instead of there being a lot of books out there that you barely know, pick a few and love them well" (p. 360)

I think that is a great tip. I think it's a fantastic plan. And I know for a fact I am going to do exactly the opposite. I love the idea of being somewhat of an "expert" on certain books that I adore. I love even more the idea of having the experience of reading as many different books as I can possibly get to in my limited lifetime. It's a little like asking, "Do I want to go to Italy every time I vacation so it becomes like a second home? Or do I want to travel the world?"

I'm only speaking for myself here. I can't recommend my ambition to anyone else because I am relatively psychotic when it comes to reading. It's my addiction and my therapist. It fires me up when I'm feeling despondent and it calms me when life is crazy. I love the feeling of discovery when a book deeply moves me, and I love finding that one great moment in a book I nearly gave up on. I love finding new favorite authors and searching out more of their work. I love reading complete bibliographies. I love sitting snugly in my home reading about places I'll never go, people I'll never meet, living dangerous lives vicariously -- or even quaint happy ones! I'm a book list junkie and my head spins with all the titles I want to take home when I randomly explore a bookstore or library.

There are books I want to go back and revisit, and I will someday. But my overarching plan is to travel the world through time and space and let you know what I find. How about you?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


by Christi Phillips

"A follow-up to the well-received The Rossetti Letter (2007), Phillips once again simultaneously follows seventeenth-century and twenty-first-century mysteries. A serial killer is loose in seventeenth-century England. Are his gruesome crimes random, or are they part of a royal conspiracy? Hannah Devlin, a rare female physician, becomes convinced of the latter. Meanwhile, in twenty-first-century Cambridge, England, Clare Donovan finds Hannah’s diary. Shortly thereafter, an academic rival is murdered. Are the crimes connected? Both women work to solve their mysteries, while also becoming embroiled in parallel romances. Although the twenty-first-century plotline and ending are the weaker, both sets of mysteries and romances are engaging. An excellent afterword answers questions about historical accuracy and literary license." -- Marta Segal Block (From Booklist as posted in the Editorial Reviews section of

I liked Christi Phillips' The Rossetti Letter when I read it last year, and I was very excited to finally get a hold of The Devlin Diary, which had been delayed from it's original January 2009 release date.

Like the Booklist reviewer, and for the second time for me, it was the historical chapters that I preferred over the ones set in modern times. Hannah Devlin's reluctant introduction to the decadent court of King Charles II kept me turning pages all afternoon, and I liked the way her relationship with Edward Strathern developed slowly from mutual respect of their work. In fact, it almost seemed like the modern-times chapters could almost have been completely left out and the book would have been just as good. I could live with or without the growing relationship between newly minted historian Claire Donovan and the super-reserved Englishman Andrew Kent. Their personal story didn't grab me, but it was fun to see the scholars in pursuit of their subject. I also enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at the highly competitive world of academia.

I will definitely be looking forward to whatever Christi Phillips has coming up next, and if you want to keep track of her also, you can find more information on her Official Web Site.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


by Jefferson Bass

"Dr. Bill Brockton is in the middle of a nuclear-terrorism disaster drill when he receives an urgent call from the nearby town of Oak Ridge -- better known as Atomic City, home of the Bomb, and the key site for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Although more than sixty years have passed, could repercussions from that dangerous time still be felt today?" (From the book jacket)

And my fluff reading jag continues with Bones of Betrayal, the fourth Body Farm novel. It is much like the others in that the story is engaging, but it's not a book you can't put down. The humor still feels a bit forced, but I didn't find myself rolling my eyes at the jokes quite as often as in the previous books. This one was more straight-up mystery than forensics, but it was a great book to help me pass my day in the hospital waiting room.

Some of the characters in Bones of Betrayal find themselves wrestling with their feelings regarding the U.S. decision to use the bombs code-named Little Boy and Fat Man, and that will probably be the aspect of this book that sticks with me the most. I'm not familiar with the deeper stories of the building of the nuclear weapons used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so learning about things like the Manhattan Project and the beginnings of the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee was what really held my attention. I was inspired to pick up Hiroshima by John Hersey to continue my exploration into that side of WWII.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Company of Wolves

I've been seeing quite a few reviews lately for Angela Carter's book of short stories, The Bloody Chamber, which got me thinking about a movie I used to love watching.

In that book is a short story called "The Company of Wolves", which Neil Jordan made into a movie in the mid-eighties. My roommate and I used to watch parts of it over and over again. Here is an extended clip from our favorite part of the movie. I'm guessing you can figure out why our copy of the video was always cued up to the beginning of this section. (Warning - It's pretty creepy. You might not want your kids to watch it until you check it out first.)

I didn't check it out completely, but it looks like you can see the entire film in parts on You Tube. But I need to go read the story again. After I watch this cute guy turn into a wolf one more time in Part 9. :-)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Agility Trial Update: Sunday a/k/a Sometimes Life Is Hard

This weekend was an experiment and here's what I learned: I have been a lot more mentally stressed than I was willing to acknowledge these past couple of weeks, and one day of trialing on a weekend is plenty.

I got to the trail site this morning with not enough sleep, which is never good. Max and I did our first run and it was awful. He ran crazy yesterday, but this morning made yesterday look like a cake walk. I promptly took him back to our tent where I sat on the floor with him and had a completely irrational emotional breakdown. Apparently I was little more overwrought from personal issues that had been building up lately than I thought I was. I decided it wasn't fair to Max or myself to compete with him in that state of mind, so I had him scratched for the remainder of the day. After I got done sobbing onto Max's shoulder, I called Peter, who not only came to help me pack up the tent but took me out for breakfast and to the bookstore for therapy. Isn't he a good guy?

I bought some great stuff, because I needed more books for the TBR shelf. Yeah, right. :-) I really did buy some great books though, and I'll tell you all about them later. Right now, however, Max and I are going to play out in the yard to make up for our icky morning and I'm going to tell him how much I love him even when he is the devil. :-)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Agility Trial Update: Saturday

Wow! We couldn't have begged for a more beautiful day to be out running around obstacle courses with our dogs! It was gorgeous outside! And even though Max spent the entire day running like his brain fell out, we still managed to qualify in three of our four runs!! For those of you keeping track at home, that makes 17 out of 40 that we need for our Championship title. Go, Max!!!

Peter was there just in time for our first run and ended up staying the entire day. He napped a bit on the floor of the tent (not comfy), but felt pretty good for the most part and recorded all of Max's runs. Even the really bad one. :-) I'll try to get a couple of them posted soon so those of you who are curious can check them out. After we got home, he took video of me learning how to mow the lawn. Smart a**. He can't do it yet and our lawn was so over-grown that it looked like we were an abandoned house. It was kind of fun in a "Man, I'm glad I don't have to do this all the time" kind of way. And a girl should know how to mow the lawn. You know. Just in case . . .

Now I need to go get some sleep so I can do it all again tomorrow! Minus the lawn mowing part. The novelty has officially worn off. :-)

Sleep tight, everyone!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Competition Weekend Coming Right Up!

See more LOL Dogs here.

Now that we've got Peter all taken care of for a while (he's doing great!), Max and I are headed back to competition this weekend. Yay! We'll be competing both Saturday and Sunday with four runs each day. The trial is outdoors and the weather is supposed to be beautiful. And just to make it even more wonderful -- I have next week off of work! Yahoo!!! A weekend of agility followed by a week of reading on the patio. What more can a girl ask for? Not much, I tell you.

We'll be setting up the tent tonight, and I'll check in tomorrow and let you all know how Max and I fared. Peter might film a run or two if he's feeling up to it, so we might even have some video for you!

Talk to you tomorrow!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


by John Sandford

"In the nineteenth installment of the Prey series, Minnesota investigator Lucas Davenport struggles to protect his daughter Letty from a vengeful psychopathic pimp who blames Davenport for his handicap. All the while, a professional thief plans to rob the city of Minneapolis blind right before the Republican National Convention. Can Davenport protect his daughter and ensure the security of Minneapolis?" (From the CD container)

If you've read any of John Sandford's Prey series, you know exactly what you're getting in Wicked Prey, and that's not a bad thing. When you need a book you know is going to be entertaining, but you don't want to think hard about deep messages, this is a good series to turn to. It's your basic bad guys versus the justice system with lots of personal drama and guns. And a hotel fire. And the Republican National Convention. And a gunman from Oklahoma. And a paraplegic pimp. And those aren't even the main story!

Two things stood out for me in this installment: First, I liked that it didn't end all clean and tidy but not in an "obviously setting up for a sequel" kind of way. Second, I'm starting to suspect that Sandford has plans for Lucas Davenport's ward, Letty. She plays a big part in this book, and although she is only fourteen at this point, Lucas is aging and Sandford could be testing the waters regarding a future series with Letty as the main character when she gets older. It could be my imagination, but that's what it felt like. With as spirited and intelligent as Letty is, I think it might be really great if I'm right!

Other Prey books I've written about:

Phantom Prey

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

He's Alive!! Yay!

See more LOL Cats here.

It was a loooong day! They laser-burned around in his heart for about 5 hours straight, but Peter's procedure went great! The surgeon said it was about as close to perfect as he could have asked for. Peter's feeling groggy but great and is going to be very excited when he gets to roll over on his side. :-) He has to stay flat on his back, literally, for four hours to let the entrance wounds heal up a bit. (They're in a very delicate area.) He can't even lift his head. He'll get to "dangle" about 10:00 tonight (which of course sent us into gales of immature laughter), and they'll get him up to walk after that if it goes well.

He'll be spending tonight at the hospital and, barring any unforeseen difficulties, I'll get to bring him home tomorrow. Currently, Skye once again thinks I lost his daddy somewhere, Max has already claimed Peter's side of the bed, and I'm a very tired girl. I'm going to go read a bit more until I pass out. Shouldn't take long.

In the meantime, Peter and I thank everyone for all the wonderful prayers and thoughts and wishes! It's so great to be a part of such a caring community!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


by Greg Hollingshead

"Conspiracies, plots, and paranoia are sweeping through London in the last days of the eighteenth century, and James Tilley Matthews has been caught under false pretenses and locked up in the city's vast, crumbling asylum. As his wife, Margaret, tries desperately to free him, political forces conspire to keep him locked up. Margaret's main adversary is John Haslam, the asylum's chief apothecary, a man torn between his conscience and the lure of scientific discovery: as James becomes more famous -- and more unhinged -- he becomes a valuable specimen for the young doctor and a pawn in a grand political conspiracy. Based on real people and events Bedlam: A Novel of Love and Madness is a brilliant evocation of a city teetering between darkness and light, and a moving study of every kind of madness." (From the back cover of the Picador edition)

Bedlam was not what I expected. For some reason I was thinking it would be a book along the lines of The Nature of Monsters. I don't know why I thought that, and that's not what it is. The story is mostly political, moved along slowly and seemed to expect more familiarity with the French Revolution than I possess. I didn't love the book, but I didn't dislike it either. The prose was lovely and the glimpses into the lives of the inmates and employees of Bethlam (aka "Bedlam") were fascinating. I wished there had been more of that. The intricate international politics went mostly over my head.

I've always felt that even a book I'm not crazy about has qualities that make it worth my time, and this one ended up having numerous passages that spoke to me personally even while I was wishy-washy about the story itself. I was surprised at how many little colored flags were sticking out when I was finished! Here are just a few examples:

"[I]f humankind is ever to deliver itself from bloodshed, then every person must understand they have the same worth as the next and each a free and full say in the common good. Estimate another's worth as greater than your own, and it follows that another's is less. From inequality it's a slippery slope to intolerance and from intolerance to resentment and resentment to oppression if you can and slaughter if you can't, so why make that first mistake? Until this primary human principle has been understood, how can the future not be perfect mayhem?" (p. 211)

"People tend to grant an oracle figure leeway. They like to stumble away from a godhead with something to think about." (p. 285)

"I considered how you can think of yourself as a certain sort of person yet watch yourself behave as quite another; and how easy it is that disjunction becomes simply how things are with you, and your failure to reconcile that contradiction, whenever it noses its way to awareness, you tell yourself is only the small, private price you must pay awhile longer yet if you would achieve such-and-such a worthy end." (p. 338-39)

"Brains are prone to certain kinds of error. One is assuming they were capable then of what they are only now." (p. 383)

See what I mean? Bedlam was okay, but I love these quotes and I would never have seen them if I hadn't read it. I know this doesn't begin to hold true for most people, but more and more I am of the opinion that no book is ever a complete waste of my time.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


by Gore Vidal

This book came out shortly after 9/11 and opens with an essay regarding that event. Considering this and the subtitle, "How We Got To Be So Hated", I was expecting a lot of Gore Vidal's opinion regarding our relations with the Middle East. Wrong. What Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace does contain is a lot of interesting information on Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing.

I may be the only person on earth who didn't know that Vidal and McVeigh struck up a casual correspondence while McVeigh was in prison. Vidal was even invited to witness McVeigh's execution, which he ultimately did not attend. While Vidal does not in any way condone McVeigh's actions, he does not accept the media portrayal of him as an out-of-control lunatic. This book is Vidal's argument that America needs to see and understand the role that its own actions play in the development of antagonism against it -- actions toward not only other countries and cultures but sometimes its own citizens. I didn't always understand or agree with his reasonings, nor did I completely disagree, but he certainly gives the reader something to think about.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Message From Peter

Thanks to everyone who sent their kind thoughts and good wishes. I had my final heart test today and all systems are go for the ablation on Tuesday. I'm feeling pretty good right now and I'm anxious to get on with this next step.

Best Regards,

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock

Things are most likely going to slow down a little bit here at Books 'N Border Collies. Remember the little issue with Peter's heart? Well, we've been dealing with all kinds of things here the last couple of months: heart monitors, medicines, blood tests, various heart imagings, etc., etc., and now we're coming to the actual "fix-it" stage. Next week Peter will go in for a cardiac ablation. Yikes. We've spoken to a lot of people who have either had the procedure or know people who have had it. All should be just fine, and he should feel much, much better within a couple of days. No reason to be nervous, right? (But they're laser scarring his heart!!!!)

Anyway, I won't be posting as often leading up to and following this, but I promise I'll have lots of great stuff once we've got Peter all settled in to normal life again. In the meantime, Peter sure could use some happy thoughts sent his way!

Talk to you all soon!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


by Jeanne Kalogridis

"Vivacious Sancha of Aragon arrives in Rome newly wed to a member of the notorious Borgia dynasty. Surrounded by the city's opulence and political corruption, she befriends her glamorous and deceitful sister-in-law, Lucrezia, whose jealousy is as legendary as her beauty. Some say Lucrezia has poisoned her rivals, particularly those to whom her handsome brother, Cesare, has given his heart. So when Sancha falls under Cesare's irresistible spell, she must hide her secret or lose her life. Caught in the Borgias' sinister web, she summons her courage and uses her cunning to outwit them at their own game." (From the back cover of the St. Martin's Griffin edition)

My only knowledge of the Borgia family prior to reading The Borgia Bride was a lot of malicious historical gossip that I always wondered about. Well, it turns out, according to Jeanne Kalogridis' author comments at the end of this novel, that the majority of it appears to be true. Excellent! Nothing like papal corruption, poisoning of rivals, fratricide, incest and dreams of military domination to pique a reader's interest!

And they're all here, folks. Stories of the Borgia family are not for the easily nauseated, and Kalogridis has never been one to sugarcoat the darker side of humanity. It's part of what I love about her writing, the grit. She isn't unnecessarily graphic, but you get enough to shock the unprepared reader. And you're never sure who is going to come out all right. Or if anyone will for that matter.

I thought it most interesting that Lucrezia was portrayed very sympathetically, sometimes much more a victim than the calculating, immoral murderess my limited understanding of her had led me to believe she was. There was nothing in the author note explaining why she chose to characterize her the way she did, so I can see I have some research to do if I want to discover if my past beliefs about Lucrezia were way off the mark.

I've been meaning to get to The Borgia Bride ever since I read Kalogridis' I, Mona Lisa a couple of years ago. With The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici coming in July (a book I cannot wait to get my hands on!!), this seemed like the perfect time to finally pull it off the shelf. It's a perfect summer read -- easy to lose yourself in and quick to get through despite its 500 page length. Between the two, I'd say I preferred I, Mona Lisa, but The Borgia Bride did not disappoint one bit.

Other reviews of this book:

Passages To The Past