Reub's journey

26 September 2013

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: September's read

By far the best book I read in September was The Engagements, by J. Courtney Sullivan, which went on my book list after Suze's recommendation in June. Thank you Suze! That was a great read, so deftly written that even an observant reader isn't likely to guess how it all wraps up. Plus it contains the most complete and wickedly satisfying revenge-after-a-jilting scene ever. Go for it.

 Littering my table right now are old newspapers, a classic or two, a mystery, a Japanese novel, some poetry, a fashion review, a book about cowgirls, ads from the Sunday paper, some comics, and a steampunk novel, volume 1. Oh, and a wrapper from a Baby Ruth. I'll take a dart, throw it at my table and see where it lands.

Aha. Let's hear it for steampunk, a term I loosely associate with vaguely-Goth fashion shoots, dirigibles, clockwork, Jules Verne, metallic jewellery, top hats, and a few recent movies such as Hugo, which contained an animatron. What's not to love?

Especially with cover art like this:

Seriously, if your name were Lilith Saintcrow wouldn't you be writing books exactly like this?  Actually Ms. Saintcrow has written prodigiously in the areas of urban and historical fantasy as well as "paranormal romance." I got this book for .99 on my Nook reader, just for fun. (Don't worry: the dart barely nicked my Nook.)

One of the annoying things about the Nook "find of the day" books is that they're often the first in a lame series of dumb books, and this is definitely in that category. However I do like to supplement my diet of quality reads with some cheap fun. It's like eating Cheetos once in awhile.

The Iron Wyrm Affair is all about an  atmospheric, alternative-London filled with sorcerers, witches, and the like. If you're a fantasy or sci-fi buff you would probably like this book. My favorite thing about it was the off-beat vocabulary. I found myself using the dictionary function  a lot, looking up a mixture of made-up words (no definitions found, duh) and slightly obscure or antiquated words. Here are some  favorite words:

juddering: vibrating with intensity
homonculus: a little man
curricle: a chaise drawn by 2 horses
antimacassar: a cover to protect the back or arms of furniture
simulacrum: insubstantial image
caracole: half-turn executed by a mounted horse
greaves: armor for the shins
coja: (invented) a mind-sharpening drug
mentath: (invented)  brilliant mind devoted to logic and reason

This is not a must-read book. But if you're in the mood for Cheetos then by all means, indulge.

Interested in some book ideas? Check out the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, Friday September 27,  hosted by Armchair Squid:

1.The Armchair Squid2.Remembering Grace
3.Vanessa Morgan4.Trisha @ WORD STUFF
5.M.J. Fifield6.Denise Covey @ L'Aussie Writing
7.My Creatively Random Life8.Subliminal Coffee
9.The Random Book Review10.Divine Secrets of the Writing Sisterhood
11.Scouring Monk12.Clarissa Draper
15.Excuse Me While I Note That Down16.Mark Noce Stories
17.StrangePegs -- Temporary Anne18.Blue Sky Gazing
19.What's Up! MOCK?20.Nicki Elson
21.V's Reads22.Stephen Tremp


  1. I love the if you're in the mood for Cheetos, bit, Kerry. And I am so glad you seemed to enjoy The Engagements as much as I did. Thanks so much for compiling a favorite words list. Way cool and fun and cool. My fave: antimacassar. That sounds so much like something one would yelp, no?

    1. Hi Suze! The Engagements was a great recommendation; thanks again. Isn't antimacassar a terrific word? Makes me want to go get a big old armchair & put some crocheted thingies on its arms, then curl up & read something good.

  2. I love Cheetos. Doritos and Sun Chips are preferred but I'll take a good Cheeto anytime.

    Lilith Saintcrow - awesome name!

    Just out of curiosity, what is the Japanese novel?

    1. I thought for sure it was a pen name, but no, it's her real name: Lilith Saintcrow. Pretty cool, but I still wonder if she took it on, like Robert Allen Zimmerman transforming into Bob Dylan.

      The Japanese novel is "Silence" by Shusaku Endo; John just finished it but I don't think I'll be reading it. I'm more likely to read The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby, also lying around but due back to the library soon.

    2. I haven't read either of those. I think you may have asked me about Japanese novels at some point and I never got back to you. I'd say I ended up enjoy the stuff by Westerners the most. Historically inaccurate though it most certainly is, Shogun's a lot of fun.

  3. Would you say it's a dumb book as in "fluff" or as in "badly written?" I picked up a few fluff books on a whim — yep, daily deals — and had to stop reading them. Not because of the Cheeto factor, but because the writing was just SO BAD. Misspellings, cliches, grammar fouls. It was all distracting me from getting my fluff fix ... like finding ants in your Cheeto package.

    Between you and Suze, I am definitely adding The Engagements to my to-read list. Well, it was already on there, but now I'm bumping it up near the top of the list.

    Fun review! I laughed at the darts nicking your Nook.

    1. I found one or two typos, but as you say, there are books even more laden with mistakes: so annoying. So by "dumb" I mean "fluff." Dumb books are the ones I read and then utterly forget within two weeks' time. They are stories in which characters have little depth and I can't sympathize at all with the "bad guys," and forget the names of the heroes. If the plots take twists and turns it makes little sense, and all of the protagonists end the story having learned or taught nothing. But despite all of this, a true fluff book is something I kind of like to read once in awhile anyway. It takes the place of thinking. :-)

  4. Replies
    1. The dictionary function is one of my favorite things about eBooks.

  5. I read The Engagements last month. The standout character had to be the Parisian gal who exacted her revenge. I liked her book, "Maine" better, though.

    I, too, love the dictionary function on my ipad. The word "homonculus" I learned from The Big Bang Theory. I've never seen it in any writing. :)

    1. My daughter-in-law knew almost all of these words, so I'm glad you only knew maybe one of them:)

      I noticed on goodreads that some people preferred Maine; I think I'll have to read that.

  6. Oh good, I'm glad to hear you liked The Engagements - I added it to my list after reading about it at Suze's too. Perhaps one day I'll also be reporting on it here at the Coffeehouse.

    1. Oh do report on it. Not everybody loves this book, but I thought it was very good.

  7. Replies
    1. I know, right? I feel like a bag right now. Eating it all by myself with my mouth turning yellow-orange. But my next book will be something more...better.

  8. I like fluff. It has its place. In fact, I'm suspicious of anyone who dismisses fluff.

    1. Thank you!!! Me too. If you don't like fluff, than just go read Faulkner and stay away from the county fair. However I do also love Faulkner. I have no filter.

  9. I already knew curricle and antimacassar, I read fluff quite often! LOL
    Fluff is actually my favorite genre of book...

    1. Although I dearly love horses, I didn't know "curricle" but on the other hand I kind of knew "antimacassar," a very cool out-dated word. I like it that you like fluff. Sometimes life is serious enough, without more serious-ness.

  10. Oh, I love reading. Good for you to look up the words! I love that book cover but am not too much into Scifi.

  11. Love that book cover - and the story sounds like my kind, too, not that I only have one particular preference for reading. On the contrary!

    I also already had the Engagements on my list, but haven't read it yet.

  12. Looks like a great read. New follower here. So glad to find a new friend. I look forward to visiting again.


  13. Reya: I love awesome words, don't you?

    Rebecca: Wellll, it isn't really scifi at all and I shouldn't have said that, maybe.

    Trisha: About that book you think they photoshopped the faces onto the Victorian bodies?

    Sylvia: Hi! Welcome! I think I'm gonna get some good book ideas from you.


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