First of all, I have good news.
I actually have outstanding news, and it occurred to me (via my husband) that it ought to go in this blog, and the more I thought about, the more it seems, he's right. After all, this blog is about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of being a graduate student in English. Lately, it's been mostly about the romance novels I read to escape all of that. Part of the reason is also that I don't want to complain. First of all, I really don't have much to complain about, and second, it's never a good idea to complain in a public forum.
But when I have awesome news, I have to share. I went to meet with Dr. K yesterday to see if she would be willing to, well, basically, do me several favors in a row, starting with being the director for my dissertation. I posited the idea to her that we might begin with a directed reading next semester that would have two goals--the first to help me prepare for the preliminary exam in Victorian literature, and the second being to help me do quite a bit of preliminary research for my dissertation. My idea was to focus the first part of the semester on what I needed for the exam, the second my half more on dissertation, and do several short exploratory papers throughout the semester to help me focus my ideas for my dissertation, with the end goal of the semester being to have a dissertation proposal completed.
She thought this was a great idea. Then I mentioned how I was working on applying for the Fulbright scholarship, and she was also ecstatic about the prospect. As I noted I was still having difficulty coming up with an affiliation, she suggested the Tennyson Research Centre in Lincolnshire. I hadn't considered that (it was a fantastic idea), and she sent off an email to them right then.
I ended up sending a text to Snarky Writer with the message "My dissertation director is cooler than yours."
The day only got better, as we discovered that my husband had been hired for a temporary position at a local party store to get them through Halloween! This is great, and it gives him retail experience to put on his resume as well. So he's been off to work today (!), and I'm waiting for him to get home right now. I'm planning a ham steak, green beans, mac and cheese and biscuits for dinner. I'd thought about chicken and dumplings, but trying to get the recipe out of my mom was a little difficult, and she doesn't put chicken in hers anyway. As I didn't want to give my husband salmonella poisoning his first week of work (or, you know, ever), I figured I'd stick to something I couldn't screw up!
Book review! I just finished Julia Quinn's Just Like Heaven, the first in her Smythe-Smith quartet, and anyone who has ever read her Bridgerton series knows exactly just how disastrous the Smythe-Smith musicales are. The poor four girls who take part in the musicale are the heroines of this quartet. Our heroine, Honoria, desperately does not want to take part, to the point where she digs a hole in the garden, hoping that she can get out of rehearsal by "tripping" in a mole-hole. What she doesn't plan on is Marcus, our hero, accidentally tripping in it instead, badly turning his ankle.
Quinn uses a quirk of Regency fashion as the hinge for her plot. Men's boots at the time required assistance to take on and off without a sprained and swollen ankle, and Marcus' boot actually has to be cut off his foot. He comes down with pneumonia from sitting out in the rain for a while (since Honoria can't carry him home), but what no one realizes is that his leg was cut when the boot came off and is now infected.
The dedication to the book is, as always, dedicated to Quinn's husband, who apparently told her under no circumstances that there was no way Marcus could survive such an injury. But miracles do happen, and Honoria and her mother nurse him back to health, just in time for him to hear their genuinely disastrous musicale. Those who've read Quinn before might remember in one of the Bridgerton novels, Lady Danbury knocks a Smythe-Smith violin off a piano, shattering it and insists on buying a new one (that might take up to a year to come in). Honoria, it seems, is the owner of that violin, which ties this story nicely into the greater universe Quinn has created.
Is it a great novel? No, probably not. Quinn is certainly not the queen of Regency romance--I maintain that crown very firmly belongs to Stephanie Laurens (and I'm sure others would argue Georgette Heyer, but I've not read any of hers). If I'm judging against Laurens, Quinn simply can't compare. She's good enough that I'll continue reading her books, but not so good that her books are a must have the day they come out.
Just Like Heaven - C+
Hastings had another sale on, and in celebration of employment, my husband and I went out last night. Speaking of Stephanie Laurens and books that I desperately want the day they're released, I now have obtained a copy of In Pursuit of Miss Eliza Cynster. (I do want to know what is up with her titles these days, though. Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue? This? Are the Harlequin editors--those responsible for, I kid you not, Pregnesia--titling her novels?) In any case, I am very much looking forward for that.
I also bought, since it was again 2 paperbacks for $10, Lisa Kleypas' When Strangers Marry. It was originally her first novel ever published with Avon Romance, as Only In Your Arms, and she has since revised and retitled it. I figure this way I'm getting it the way she wants it. It's the first Kleypas book I've ever had, so I'm looking forward to reading it.
But first, I have some 18th century drama to get through, and I have to start Maria Edgeworth's Belinda. I think I'd rather read romance.
On one final note: Amazon has just begun taking preorders for the Kindle Fire. Why is this important? Well, first, here are some of the details from Mashable regarding the Fire.
Then there's the part where Barnes and Noble's stock fell 9% on the announcement of the Fire, the fact that the original Kindle just dropped dramatically in price, and the fact that Amazon is also taking orders for the new Kindle Touch, to be released not quite two weeks after the Fire.
What bothers me about this is that Amazon, essentially, is copying Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble gives us the Nook Color--Amazon comes along and makes the Kindle Fire, which is meant less to compete with the Nook and more with the iPad. Barnes and Noble gives us the new version of the Nook, completely e-ink and touch based. Amazon ends up with the Kindle Touch. And yet, it's the company that's innovating--Barnes and Noble--that's suffering.
Here's an idea--and the companies can keep it. Give me a tablet computer that can switch between a backlit display for computer work and an e-ink display (for reading books). Do that, and you'll have me hooked.