Friday, January 25, 2013

The Mirrored World by Debra Dean and a Fiona Friday photo

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean was one of those wonderful books that taught me something new about a favorite time period and also kept the pages turning, so I really was looking forward to reading The Mirrored World by the same author, even though the time period is completely different.

Xenia is one of the Patron Saints of St. Petersburg.  The story of how she went from a adventurous child to happily married woman to crazy widow giving away all her worldly goods and finally a pauper living in the streets is told from the point of view of a cousin whose family took her family in after a fire.  

I'd never heard of Xenia and I always choose not to read the cover blurb at the time I pick up a book because cover blurbs often contain spoilers and have ruined plenty of reads, over the years.  Unfortunately, I had a great deal of difficulty figuring out what was going on in The Mirrored World. Initially, I felt that the story of Xenia was lacking in a concrete sense of time and place -- and kind of weird, to boot.

My refusal to read cover blurbs when I settle down to read was, for once, a very big problem. I probably overlooked the location, St. Petersburg, because I was so baffled by the royalty. Eventually, I gave up and read the cover blurb because I still wasn't feeling it and the sensation was, "I. Am. Lost."  Reading the cover blurb helped, although I will say that The Mirrored World was never a book that grabbed me and would not let go.

Debra Dean's writing is pretty, if a bit overwrought, although judging from her acknowledgements, that's just her personal style. The sense of time and place improved marginally as the book progressed and I did learn something new, but as I'm sitting here with the book at my side, my overwhelming sensation is, "Meh." Not a book I'd highly recommend. Not a total waste of time, but I'm glad it was fairly short.

3.5/5 - Above average but not great.  

And, now . . . a Fiona Friday pic that actually shows Fiona!  It's not a very exciting photo, a  shot of Fiona looking out the back door on the day we got snow.  But, lately, that seems to be about as good as it gets.  Fi has been running from the camera.   

The good news is that she's been every bit as hilarious and fun to be around, whether or not she's willing to pose. Last night, Isabel was marching through the kitchen with her favorite hoodie string in her mouth and Fiona grabbed the other end.  After a brief tug-of-war, Isabel won that battle.  It was particularly funny when Izzy realized there was something holding back her string and turned around with a  "What the heck?" look on her face.

Another great moment occurred on Sunday when Husband and I were watching Downton Abbey.  When we moved into our house, the cats couldn't open the cabinet doors at all.  Not so, anymore.  We were sitting on the sofa, cats happily playing chase in the background, when Fiona burst into the living room, opened one of the entertainment center doors with a single swipe of her paw and dived in.  What a riot!

In other news:

I'm taking an online photography course and loving it.  But, boy, does it eat a lot of my time. I'm not a technical person, by nature, so I have to read very slowly and stop to let things sink in.  Read a little, practice a little, read a little more.  Difficult as I'm finding it, I am absolutely having a blast.   What's up in your world?

©2013 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. Our reactions to The Mirrored World are about the same I think.

    1. I'm not surprised. I thought it was almost formless - rather startling after TMoL.

  2. "writing is pretty, if a bit overwrought" pretty much sums up my reaction to The Madonnas of Leningrad so I think I'll give this one a pass.

    I'd love to take a photography class someday but the timing hasn't ever really worked out.

    1. If you weren't overwhelmed with The Madonnas of Leningrad, I'd definitely skip The Mirrored World. Maybe it would have more meaning to someone who is already familiar with St. Xenia but it really didn't mean much to me. It was just too weird.

      The photography class I'm taking would probably suit your needs very well, Q. It's online, lasts 6 weeks and you can do 1 lesson per day or just go at your own pace. I've been behind pretty much from the get-go, but it doesn't seem to matter and I am learning so much I'm afraid my head will soon explode. Feel free to email me for details.

  3. What's with all the pretty blue book covers lately? oh, it's probably me noticing the pretty blues... YAY for a Fiona pic. Just found out my neighbors now have 4 kitties. The newest came over to inspect me rather than run and hide like the others. Cats are so odd.

    1. Haha! Funny, I just noticed I keep using the same blue bookmarks. I match my bookmarks to my book covers, you know. Bit of weirdness, there.

      I grew up with cats so I guess I don't find them all that odd -- I like their restraint better than the eagerness of a dog, although my current two are "run and hide" kitties and I prefer greeter cats. They're buddies to me, but I really kind of loved it when I had a one who greeted everyone at the door and was determined to make absolutely everyone her friend (that was Sunshine). It worked; even my cat-hating friends loved her. Isabel is incredibly sweet and lovable to me but she would not be the kind to talk anyone into being owned by a cat, poor thing. She's particularly terrified of males. I'm convinced she was driven somewhere and dumped by a man.


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