Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “#MrsSmithReads”

Mrs Smith Reads The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke by Timothy Snyder, #CBR4 Review #19

The Red Prince is a book I read a blurb about somewhere and thought it sounded interesting and educational so I put it in my library queue. The book jacket also mentions that Archduke Wilhelm occasionally liked to wear dresses which piqued my interest even more. Archduke Wilhelm Franz of Austria, aka The Red Prince, was a nephew of Emperor Franz Joseph, cousin of Franz Ferdinand (the man, not the band) and he himself set forth from an early age with a plan to become ruler of a Ukrainian state.

I wasn’t disappointed by Timothy Snyder’s deeply researched history of the decline of the Habsburg empire over the course of two world wars, as it was cunningly disguised as the biography of a very wealthy bisexual with poor financial skills and delusions of grandeur. Wilhelm, prompted by his father the Archduke Karl Stefan, devised a plan to unite Ukrainian nationals in Eastern Europe and release them from German and Soviet control, all with an eye to becoming their presumptive leader—hopefully as a King, and failing that, military dictator would be OK too. Wilhelm liked hanging out with soldiers, especially dark-haired, exotic looking ones.

The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke by Timothy Snyder

Mrs Smith Reads Washed in the Blood by Lisa Alther, #CBR4 Review #10

I love a story that can teach. Lisa Alther’s Washed in the Blood presents readers with three affecting stories, each one tracing the history of Appalachia and the racially-mixed Melungeon people who subsisted and endured there from America’s earliest existence. Her stories are personal and small, and yet, encompass the vast historical lineage of a largely misunderstood group of ethnically diverse people, who have lived in the Appalachian cradle of North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee since the Spanish Conquistadors first came to American shores.

Washed in the Blood by Lisa Alther

Mrs Smith Reads Damned by Chuck Palahniuk, #CBR4 Review #9

Image: George Grosz. Cain, or, Hitler in Hell. 1944. Oil on canvas. Private collection.

“Are you there Satan? It’s me Madison.” 

According to Madison Spencer, the bar for getting sent to Hell for all eternity is pretty low. Maddy knows, because at 13, she’s one of the Damned; sentenced to roam the unending landscape of misery, punctuated by the Sea of Wasted Sperm and the Mountain of Toenail Clippings, where candy is currency, call-center operators really are Satan’s minions and The English Patient is projected everywhere on an endless loop.

Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk

Mrs Smith Reads The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, #CBR4 Review #8


As a teenager my favorite books were Jane Eyre and anything by or like Anya Seton, Daphne DuMaurier or Mary Stewart that I could get my hands on. Gothic themes, orphaned heroines and forbidden love stories were just my cup of tea. The Thirteenth Tale is a story after my teenaged, romantic heart and I enjoyed every minute of reading it.

Mrs Smith Reads The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, #CBR4 Review #6

I originally picked up The Snow Child as a possible read for my daughter, but once I got it home and took a peek at the first chapter I was hooked. Eowyn Ivey writes a sweet, gentle tale about Mabel and Jack, an older couple who have moved to start a new life together in the rough wilds of Alaska in the 1920s. They have no children and both of them yearn for a sense of togetherness that seems to be slipping ever further from their grasp.

Mrs Smith Reads Snowdrops by A.D. Miller, #CBR4 Review #5

Snowdrop (n):

  1. An early-flowering bulbous plant, having a white pendent flower.
  2. Moscow slang. A corpse that lies buried or hidden in the winter snows, emerging only in the thaw.

Nick Platt needs to make a confession to his fiancé. Snowdrops is that confession. A.D. MIller’s Booker Prize-nominated first novel is the small, intimate story of a man, who, while working as an expat lawyer in Moscow in the early 2000s, makes a bad habit of looking the other way when a pair of beguiling sisters (who aren’t really sisters) lure him into a simple plan to help an old auntie exchange her lavish Moscow apartment for a newly built flat in the country.

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

Mrs Smith Reads Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife by Irene Spencer, #CBR4 Review #4

By the time Irene Spencer was twenty years old, she had three living children, had moved to Mexico to live in abject poverty, shared her husband with two sister wives (and would eventually have seven more) and had had intercourse exactly seven times in her entire life. Sounds awesome doesn’t it!

Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist’s Wife by Irene Spencer

Mrs Smith Reads The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein, #CBR4 Review #3

A Painting by Pan Yuliang

Jennifer Cody Epstein bases her first novel on the life of Pan Yuliang, a Chinese woman sold into prostitution by her uncle at fourteen, who then became one of the first important woman painters of the twentieth century.

The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Mrs Smith Reads #CBR4 Review #2, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, by Ken Robinson, Ph.D. with Lou Aronica


As self-help books go, The Element was reasonably pleasant. Sir Ken Robinson is pretty well-known on the circuit and has spoken at the TED Conference twice. He’s got a lot of good things to say about finding one’s creativity and thus one’s passion and he can be pretty funny too. All that being said, by the time I’d gotten to the third chapter, I’d pretty much figured out what he was getting at, and the rest of the book was just boringly repetitive.

But, This. This is awesome.

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Ken Robinson, Ph.D. with Lou Aronica

Mrs Smith Reads, #CBR4 Review #1, The Night Eternal by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The Night Eternal is the third installment of del Toro and Hogan’s Strain vampire series. I was not disappointed and found this third book to be on par with the first two. If you haven’t read the trilogy, it’s worth your time and all three are pretty quick reads.

The Night Eternal, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

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