Various and Sundry of a Bookish Nature

A Mini-Book Review: Asylum by John Harwood

I finished a book a little more than a week ago that I loved, for the most part. Asylum by John Harwood concerns a young woman, Georgina, who wakes up in an insane asylum and is told that she not Georgina, but another person all together.

The first three-quarters of the book was wonderful. I felt like I had dropped in on The Woman in White re-imagined as a Sarah Waters’ novel. It was dark, brooding, and had an unreliable narrator. I couldn’t tell if this was going to be a ghost story or if it would turn out to have a splash of The Thirteenth Tale.

The last part of the novel fell apart a bit. I was expecting a bit more, probably because the beginning was so evocative of Collins, Setterfield, and Waters. I guess the bad guy and was disappointed that this route for the story was chosen. It could have been such a slim, brooding, Gothic masterpiece and instead was a quite conventional mystery story.

I did enjoy the book a great deal and it proved to be quite the page turner. My main problem was building it up in my mind. If I had never read The Woman in WhiteThe Thirteenth Tale, and Affinity I would have been enthralled with this book. So I guess I recommend this book with caution; read it and enjoy the tale, but don’t compare it to other books.

RIP VIII Conclusion!


I very nearly completed RIP VIII, which is pretty darn good considering this has been a terrible year for completing reading goals. I read three novels: The Dead Secret by Wilkie Collins, The Victorian Chaise-Longue by Marghanita Laski, and The Asylum by John Harwood. I didn’t read any short stories, although Hope has read both “The Tale-Tell Heart” and “The Monkey’s Paw” at school and I’ve enjoyed discussing them.

The Historian is wonderful, but I haven’t finished yet. I love this book and I am so glad I’m rereading it. My problem is that I need huge chunks of time to bury myself in it and those moments are few and far between. It is not a book I recommend “dipping” into. You need full submersion.

I did complete Peril of the Screen! I watched the first season of Ripper Street. Skip the first episode. It has graphic sexual violence that really doesn’t jive with the rest of the season. There is violence, sex, and murder in the rest of the episodes, but sans Victorian, snuff-film making rape. Seriously, go straight to the second episode.

Sam and I also attend a screening of Night of the Living Dead at our local theater. It wasn’t just the movie, but a special live RiffTrax version. Basically the stars of Mystery Science Theater rip on the movie live. I thought I would choke on my popcorn.

I am going to mark this as a close to a wonderful RIP season!

November TBR


Yesterday I pulled out a calendar and figured out about how many pages a day I read. I can normally fit in an average of 50 pages a day. Then I did a quick mental calculation and realized this means I can read between 3 and 5 books a month depending on their length. No wonder I’ve been frustrated. I typically have a reading list of between 5 and 10 titles and I’ve never read that much in a month. I don’t typically do YA or slim novels so reading 5 Victorian chunksters just isn’t going to happen.

I’ve drafted a reading list for November that I believe is quite practical. This month I hope to be reading:

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (I really need to dig into this and finish!)
  • If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino (I’m join in a November read along of this as it has been about ten years since I read it)
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (this has been recommended so often and I really want to see the film)
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (in anticipation of reading the trilogy. I read this one about 9 years ago.

There we have it. Three rereads and a new to me book. Let’s hope I can stay on my game at least get these completed!

Wilkie in Winter

Join in for some Wilkie Collins this winter! Read more here.



  1. Kudos to you for sitting down and making yourself a realistic reading list to prevent future frustration. (May I go and do likewise!) I always have about 25 or 30 books that I want to read right NOW, and that just doesn’t work with reality very well. I just don’t know what to leave off, so I make a long list telling myself I can then read by my mood of the moment with lots of wiggle room. (Still ends up frustrating me, though.) Love your November TBR banner with the leaves! Happy reading to you.

  2. Very smart to calculate realistic reading goals based on average pages per day! That’s the kind of calculated, mathematical thing I’d come up with… 🙂 I actually don’t know my average pages per day (it varies too much, depending on book and time), but I’ve been tracking my books read for a long time, so I have a good idea of how many books per month fall into the normal amount range!

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