SylviaC's 2017 Reading Extravaganza!
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Just trying to insert some enthusiasm into a year that has gotten off to a rough start. After a bad bout of pneumonia, today I finally feel like there might be some life left in me. I'm as caught up on the threads as I'm ever going to be. I wasn't able to make comments on individual threads, but I do follow them all. So know that I am lurking, even if I haven't said anything. I'll be more involved in the coming days.
I read for pleasure, roughly equal amounts of fiction and nonfiction, and am quite willing to abandon any book that I'm not enjoying. I read paper books, ebooks, and audio. I only write a proper review if I really have something to say about a book, but I'll always give at least a brief reaction. My star ratings are based on how much I enjoyed the book.
The Chalet School Group is here: LibraryThing Goes to the Chalet School
The New How To Do Fancy Things In Your Posts Thread
Poppies for England by Susan Scarlett (pseudonym for Noel Streatfeild). My real first book for the year. This is the first of Streatfeild's books that were written for adults that I have been able to find, and I will be looking for more. It has a little more edge and romance to it than her children's books, but is still quite light and enjoyable. It takes place in 1946, as England is adjusting to the aftermath of World War II. The Corner and the Binns families are old friends and neighbours who have always been involved in the theatre. They put together a family variety show to perform at a newly reopened holiday camp. While the book includes romances for some of the young people, the theme that interested me the most was the re-integration of the two fathers into the family and the community. Both men had spent five years as prisoners of war, and were thrown back into families and a society that were no longer familiar to them. Meanwhile, their families had to adapt to include the men who they had learned to do without. While by no means an in-depth exploration of the problem, it made an interesting background to the story.
Glad to see you back. Hope your recovery continues apace and that the rest of the year is plain sailing with lots of good books along the way.
It is great to see you back on the threads. I will be watching for your feet sticking out from under the curtains.
>3 SylviaC: I'm excited to have caught a book bullet right between the teeth! I loved Streatfield's childrens' books and this mature version sounds lovely.
Starred your thread!
And I hope and pray you continue to improve. I sympathize, I've had pneumonia, NOT fun.
Getting through pneumonia is no joke. I've had it. Glad that you are beginning to feel normal again.
It's lovely to have you back! I hope that 2017 improves quickly after the poor start. At least your reading has begun with a good book. I really need to read more of Streatfeild's books for adults.
So glad you are back! Have a round on me. *a round of what, you say? well, whatever you like round*
Thanks for the welcome back, everyone!
Maybe the PGGBs better wait until I'm off the "good" cough medicine. In retrospect, I probably should have had one as soon as I experienced my first symptoms. That would have driven away any nasty germs.
In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker. One of my SantaThing books. I really liked the look of this, with time travel and history, but it didn't live up to my expectations. It seemed promising in the beginning, but then it didn't really seem to be going anywhere interesting. I gave up about halfway through and flipped ahead, but didn't see anything to draw me back in. Part of the problem may be that anything about the Spanish Inquisition and religious intolerance in general is a big turnoff for me. And the romance plot wasn't convincing. You can't win them all.
>24 SylviaC: I have this one on my TBR list, mainly because I got the first book for free several years ago, but I haven’t been in any hurry to get to it. Now at least I know I probably haven’t been missing out, so thanks for that. ;)
I read one of the author’s shorter fantasy series, starting with The Anvil of the World, a couple years ago. I liked it fairly well, but had several complaints. I liked the other two books a bit better.
>25 YouKneeK: It does have a lot of very good reviews, and my SantaThing person loves the whole series, but it just didn't work for me. And I really wanted to like it.
>24 SylviaC: I had issues with that book as well, didn't finish on first reading, and it's unfortunate because while it's the first book in her Company novels, it's also probably the worst. Maybe she got better with experience? Anyway they are quite enjoyable, many charming and well crafted. I'd like to finish them all some day. Some Kage Baker fans prevailed upon me, and I did give her another try, to my pleasure.
>27 stellarexplorer: Perhaps I'll revisit the series someday, because the concept is certainly intriguing.
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett. This was one of my SantaThing books, and I'm trying not to let them pile up like I have in the past. I'm not reading the Discworld books in order, so I didn't mind that this is one of the later ones. I could tell that I was missing some backstory, especially to do with Vimes and with the newspaper, but still felt that the story stood very well on its own. I liked the characters and the way the story unfolded, although I didn't get many surprises.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Another SantaThing book. A fitting follow-up to Monstrous Regiment. When I was a teenager and young adult in the 1980s and 90s, we believed that the battles had already been fought, and we were living in a world of equality. As the years pass, I'm seeing that equality and social justice are elusive, and the battles are far from over. In succinct and engaging language, Adichie demonstrates the existence of gender inequality, and encourages us to work towards cultural change. I passed the book along to my daughter, though I don't know if she's old enough to care about the issue yet. Maybe it would be more to the point to give it to my son. I think I'll do that.
Very glad you're feeling up to it. Years that start like that can only get better, right?
>24 SylviaC:, >29 jillmwo: I too liked In the garden of Iden but I can see why it wouldn't work for everyone. Mendoza is not terribly likeable and the plot is slow moving. The immediate sequel is narrated by Joseph and is much easier to get into.
>32 SylviaC: Glad you enjoyed Monstrous regiment. That was the book which got me back into Discworld after a few years of not reading Pratchett.
>34 Meredy: Thanks! I keep telling myself that. My breathing and energy have improved a lot in the last few days, which certainly brightens one's outlook. Unfortunately, I'm still coughing enough to have either pulled a muscle or cracked a rib, which kind of slows down the recovery process.
>35 Sakerfalcon: I was able to get past Mendoza as a prickly teenager—she had been through a lot, after all. It was Nicholas that I couldn't connect with, and once he became the focus of the plot, I lost interest. A book narrated by Joseph sounds like it would be interesting.
>37 clamairy: It seems to be taking the edge off, anyway. Coughing aside, it's remarkable how often one bends and twists over the course of even a very quiet day. But even with this complication, I feel far, far better than I did two weeks ago.
Glad that you are improving. Pneumonia is tough on the body.
Perhaps this will help your recovery along:
Happy National Cheese Lovers Day Here Are 10 Reasons Why You Should Drop Everything and Celebrate, for the purposes of this holiday, we'll make you an honorary American - I couldn't find an equivalent Canadian holiday at any time, much less when it is needed to hasten your recovery.
>40 MDGentleReader: Sweet cheeses! There will be one good thing for me to celebrate that day, at least.
(I know, I know... I'm dangerously close to the line there.)
William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher. Audio. I turned this on expecting it to be some pleasant background noise, but I ended up being delighted and entranced. As in the movie, the droids steal the show. There is much more introspection here than in the movie—more opportunities for soliloquies. I definitely recommend the audio format for this one.
>43 SylviaC: Yup.
"What light through yonder flashing sensor breaks?"
"—True it is,
That these are not the droids for which thou search'st."
>46 clamairy: Too bad, the audio definitely adds something. Especially for R2D2. But text should work fine if you enjoy reading Shakespeare.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. The last of my SantaThing books. An alternate Regency England in a world full of magic. I found it a little slow to get going, but I loved the characters, and the plot was interesting. I thought the author hit just the right note with the setting. It never feels modern, but there's no excessive use of regency slang, while fashion is mentioned but not dwelt on. So it felt regency, without whacking you over the head with it.
>43 SylviaC: No. Just...no.
How is your chest/rib feeling? And you in general?
>49 Morphidae: I'm coming along nicely, thanks. I actually made a brief foray into Walmart today with my husband. And the weather is nice, so I can walk outside more. The rib has dulled to a mild background ache, plus random chest pains due to coughing. Biggest frustration at the moment is laryngitis, which is seriously limiting my conversational ability. Almost a month now. Good thing it's quiet season on the farm, so my husband can easily cover chores without me.
>50 SylviaC: Biggest frustration at the moment is laryngitis, ...Good thing it's quiet season on the farm
I see what you did there. I am glad the illness has not dulled your sense of humour. :-)
Keep getting well!
>43 SylviaC: you got me with that one. but 630 minutes?! I might have to read it.
Hope you keep improving!
>52 Jim53: It definitely isn't 630 minutes—maybe for he whole series. It's only 3hr 31min.
>51 pgmcc: That may or may not have been intentional.
>54 Morphidae: I've had to hold back so many smart remarks because I have to save the remnants of my voice for the important stuff. I have some people that I need to phone to assure that I'm recovering, but they would be more alarmed than reassured if they heard me try to speak.
>55 jillmwo: I gave my son a box set of three last year, but I haven't been tempted to read them in print. I may read the first book in print now, to catch some of the stuff that I might have missed in audio. The original Star Wars movie is the only one I've seen (and I've seen it a few times), so I'm not likely to pursue the series any farther. I actually downloaded the audiobook for my son when it was on sale at Audible quite a while ago, and only chose to listen to it myself because I wanted something short and pleasant sounding for background noise. I didn't expect to get caught up in it.
>56 SylviaC: When I get laryngitis, it's after the cold. So I basically FEEL fine, but I sound like death warmed over. People totally freak. "OMG, are you okay?" "Yes, I'm fine. Just laryngitis." "Have you been to the doctor." "I'm okay. It's just laryngitis." So, yeah, I get you.
Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell. Quick and fun. Lives up to the recommendations. The three women showed a surprising amount of complexity considering the brevity of the book. Initially, none of them seemed particularly appealing, but I quickly came to appreciate each of them. I hope that
>58 SylviaC: I'm glad you enjoyed. If you're planning to read the second might I suggest you take a breather with a few other books between them. (I wish I had.)
1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal by Christopher Moore. Our book club librarian selected this one for the first book of 2017, because Canada is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Confederation this year. The book was dry in places, and the reader was assumed to know a lot more about political systems and Canadian history than this particular reader could recall from school history classes. My favourite parts were the descriptions of the personalities, backgrounds, and motivations of several of the Fathers of Confederation. Some of the information on historical political systems and political manoeuvring was beyond my grasp, but the author did have some interesting comments on how our parliamentary system has changed between Confederation and the end of the 20th century. Not something I would pick up again to read for fun, but I did learn some stuff.
>62 MrsLee: Oh yes they are quite different!
I just had a look at their author profiles photos. This is the humorous Moore:
Yes, quite different, indeed! They seem to be equally prolific, but the American Christopher seems to have about 154 times as many readers. Can't imagine why.
The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth. Audio. A fast paced and funny spin through English word origins. It's like a long chain of etymology that loops right back around to its starting point. I had a great time reading it in audio, but would have been able to absorb more of the information and wordplay if I had read it in print. I highly recommend it for word nerds.
>66 SylviaC: I had that as my audio in the car last year - didn't take long to get through and made me laugh and be startled at times as to how things were related. A good one. Our library has another by the same author that I've been contemplating borrowing (too many books, too little time) called The Horologicon.
>68 hfglen: Good to know - maybe not one to borrow with a time limit then? One to look out for though.
>69 Peace2: Not to borrow with a time limit, but a definite keeper if the price is right (secondhand or bookstore sale).
>66 SylviaC: I'm glad you enjoyed it. I bought it last year (when it was really cheap) and I did start listening to it at one point but got dragged off by something I borrowed and haven't gone back yet. This should nudge me a bit to finish it.
>67 Peace2: >68 hfglen: I'd like to pick up both books in print or ebook format.
>71 clamairy: That would be when I got it, too. Almost all of my Audible books were bought on sale, as I just have the basic $9.95/year, 0 credits membership. The one that they offer you when you try to cancel your regular membership.
>72 SylviaC: I don't even have that! I just use my Amazon Prime account to buy stuff when it's on sale.
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick. Just a lovely, lovely, quiet book, full of kindness. After spending a year sunk in depression after the death of his wife, 69 year old Arthur Pepper discovers a mysterious charm bracelet hidden in his closet. He sets out to find out the significance of the six charms, and learn more about his wife's past. He ventures far out of his comfort zone and meets different people who all have their own stories, and predictably, learns a lot about not only his wife and himself, but also about his family and friends. The copy I read was an Overdrive ebook, but I'll be looking for my own copy because I can see this becoming a comfort read.
>75 MrsLee: >76 clamairy: Arthur Pepper is good for if you're looking for something low-key and soothing, but it has enough humour and depth to it to keep it from getting boring.
>77 Jim53: Google provides an... interesting...variety of definitions for snudge and sprunt. I'll go with the more innocuous ones.
>78 SylviaC: I was using them in their most innocuous meanings: "running around looking busy when you're not" and "chasing girls around the haystacks after dark." As Mr. Forsyth says, wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a time where that was common enough to merit its own one-syllable word? Assuming, of course, that the girls were willing participants.
>78 SylviaC:, >79 Morphidae:, >80 clamairy:, >81 Jim53: I looked! No blushes in the definitions I found, but it is interesting how the meaning of words changes, huh?
I'm thinking sprunt probably worked the other way as well, at least when I was a girl. It seemed we girls did a lot more chasing than the boys did. They seemed to be more interested in snudging (sharing an emotional moment after consuming a case of beer).
Oddly, I had never encountered either term (snudge or sprunt) before I tripped over them in here. I suspect I've been living a really sheltered existence.
There is a Sprunt Street here in Durham. I had always assumed that it was named for some illustrious resident, but I may have to do some more digging.
>85 SylviaC: Here it's more likely that the young ladies were chased around piles of tobacco leaves.
>86 Jim53: LOL Same here! I live in 'Shade Tobacco' country. The leaves are grown exclusively for the outer wrappings of hand-rolled cigars.
>87 clamairy: One of which I contentedly consumed with a friend this afternoon. Another thing to like about Connecticut!
>90 stellarexplorer: I like the way they smell. Every time I've tried to smoke one however I've woken up the next day with the taste of long dead varmint on my tongue.
There was another definition for sprunt that no one has mentioned yet. I wonder why? It's quite pointed.
Deflation comes to mind.
You are right! How did footballs come to your mind?
I've just seen some more definitions. I love George Carlin's use of the word. I don't mean his use of it, just his imagination.
I live in New England. (For those who don't pay attention to American sports, the recent super bowl winners have been found guilty in the past of not properly inflating footballs to their own advantage.)
Are footballs short and stiff in New England? Oh - is that where Deflategate happened?
Well, we'll see who else of our interesting friends here will catch this drift :-)
>99 suitable1: Vile. I'm sure there are mouth rinses to alleviate this phenomenon now, but I haven't been willing to try again. Maybe some day.
Poor Sylvia. She will come back to her thread and wonder how on earth it got to this point.
Still, this story goes with the flow of the conversation, so here it is. When I was young, one of my first apartments had a drawer in the kitchen, on which a previous tenant Had written in Green marker, GOOCH. Growing up, one of my friends had the last name of Gooch, and so being philosophical and not wanting to paint, that drawer became the catch-all drawer, and that is what we have called our catch-all drawer every since then.
Last night, my son's girlfriend asked what it meant, so we Googled the definition. O_O
Happily, there is an older definition by the Gooch Apparel folks which says, "The definition of Gooch is simple. Gooch is a slang term used to describe life’s best in one word. To better understand the meaning of Gooch, words like awesome, epic and sick are all rolled into one when something is Gooch. When you enjoy music, sports or art and want to express those peak moments of the experience into words, the one word is Gooch."
That is the definition I am going with for my drawer, especially since it is the one with the bottle openers and corkscrews. I'm just glad we didn't know that other meaning when we were growing up. My friend's life would have been Hell.
>102 MrsLee: Yikes! The thought of associating that area with corkscrews and bottle openers! :)
Goodness! I turn my back for a few hours, and look what happens here! People are smoking footballs and deflating dead varmints, and sprunting with gooches and stiff corkscrew cigars! I don't know which way to look.
I loved gooch! Now I can describe short distances as no farther than from sprunt to gooch.
ETA it's the new hop, skip and a jump.
or yell Guard Yer Gooch you Snudgy Sprunt!
(I hope I haven't insulted anybody. I've had a crummy day.)
"Guard Yer Gooch you Snudgy Sprunt!" would make one heck of a battle cry.
Okay now children, fun and games are over. Back to work...
Overdue: The Final Unshelved Collection by Gene Ambaum, Bill Barnes, and Chris Hallbeck. As it says, this is the final collection of Unshelved comics (link goes to Unshelved webpage). Still funny, but I don't think their hearts were in it as much anymore. I would like to have seen more of Trillian, too. But well worth reading.
Ambaum and Hallbeck have started a new webcomic, Library Comic. It hasn't been going long enough for the characters to be as developed as they were in Unshelved, but I've been enjoying it so far.
>109 SylviaC: I have not read many comics and have read no web-comics, but my sons love all forms of comics. When we were in Boston last August they got to attend the final day of Comic Con and, as it happened, this was the first Comic Con to have web-comic producers present and my sons got to meet some of their web-comic idols. (Do not ask me for names. I can get back to you on that.) Unfortunately the web-comic artists had run out of material on the first two days and had nothing for the boys to buy, but they signed their programme for them and a couple of them drew portraits of them in their web-comic style. They were delighted.
I have often heard it said that one should not try to meet one's literary heroes for fear of disappointment but my experience has been quite the opposite: I have found the overwhelming majority of authors I have met to be lovely people. (Yes, there is that minority, but I will not name and shame.)
I follow a few webcomics via Twitter, email, and Facebook, as I'm sure you could tell from my Facebook posts. My son is a big fan of webcomics (when he's not watching YouTube videos of people playing video games), so we're often saying, "Did you see this one?" I have a fairly large collection of books of comic strip compilations, but I still haven't catalogued many of the older ones on LT.
I've met more of my musical heroes than literary ones, mainly because Canadian folk singers are far more likely to appear in small towns than dead authors are (or even reasonably well known live ones). I did meet Dick Francis once, though, and he was very kind. Oh, and I saw Margaret Atwood on stage last year, although I didn't get to meet her in person. She was very funny, in a deadpan way.
>111 SylviaC: (when he's not watching YouTube videos of people playing video games),
I could say the same for both my sons. What's with the watching other people playing video games? It must be a generation thing. :-(
>112 pgmcc: I don't really get it, myself. But then I'm not a hardcore gamer. Are there YouTube videos of people reading?
>111 SylviaC: >112 pgmcc: It's definitely a generational thing. I was talking with a friend about how one of her sons talks to the screen while he's watching someone else playing a game on youtube and how her other son is actually aspiring to be the one who everyone is watching on youtube because he can make his fortune that way...
We were trying to work out what we could sit and do and have people watch us - I'm not sure cross-stitching would have quite the same attraction.
Is watching a Youtube video of someone reading like trying to read over their shoulder? Would give a whole new meaning to a 'readalong'.
>112 pgmcc: >115 Peace2: My son informs me that there are practical purposes to watching videos of people playing video games. 1) to preview a game before deciding whether to spend money on it; 2) the game may not be available in a format that he can play, so that is the only way he can see it; and 3) because he knows he can never play that well.
I think there would be something quite soothing about cross-stitch videos.
Reading videos would somehow have to show us both the text of the book and the reader's reactions.
And Then Their Hearts Stood Still: an exuberant look at romantic fiction past and present by Mary Cadogan. An exploration of 200 years of romance novels and short stories. In minute detail. Her classification of romantic fiction is broad, embracing the Brontës, Austen, Du Maurier, Hemingway, Heyer, pulp magazines, Danielle Steele and her ilk, Harlequin/Mills & Boon authors, and a multitude of others. The book is organized loosely chronologically by themes that were popular in different eras, starting with "Governess and Gothics" and finishing with "Sex, Shopping, and Social Responsibility." She highlights representative works by popular authors, and gives a detailed synopsis of each book or story—including the ending. I found the early chapters most interesting, but by two thirds of the way through it was starting to feel like there was just too much of the same thing. It would make a good reference book if it had an index, so that you could search for specific authors and titles. Being over 20 years old, it doesn't cover more recent trends in the genre, which has changed quite a bit since the early 90s. I enjoyed it, but it could have been pared down a bit.
>116 SylviaC: I watch video games being played because I can't figure out how to do that part - but just a small part. It's kind of fascinating watching them go, especially if that person is groaning and yelling in the frustration of the thing.
As for watching someone read, you'd pretty much have to hook them up to a blood pressure monitor to get any action.
But watching cross stitch at high speed might be a new art form! A fascinator to lower blood pressure.
>118 nhlsecord: He didn't mention looking for hints, but I'm pretty sure that is one of his motivations. I always preferred text walkthroughs because it's easier to isolate the small part you need. But I'm not very video oriented in general.
I am currently playing Rise of the Tombraider and I am using the text walkthrough as well as 2 sets of maps and sometimes the video. This game is so very detailed! And Charlie knows if I am muttering that he should tip toe out of the room until he hears me slam my laptop shut. And then he yells "that wasn't MY fault!"
BUt I am now dealing with a death in the family so there'll be no games for a while.
The Lost Child of Lychford by Paul Cornell. I enjoyed this one too. Just the right length to fill an evening.
Shoulder the Sky (also titled Winter and Rough Weather) by D. E. Stevenson. This the third book in the trilogy that began with Vittoria Cottage and Music in the Hills, and I like it best of the three. It continues shortly after the last book left off, and with mostly the same characters. There are a few references to events from the second book, but can really be read as a standalone. This was one of the first two D. E. Stevenson books I read when I was about 12 or 13, and rereading it now after many years, I can see how I got hooked on her writing. It has very little in the way of action or excitement. It is just the story of a young couple settling in at a sheep farm in Scotland, and their friends and family. It is all about the characters, their interactions with each other, and their own growth.
My Friend Muriel by Jane Duncan. The second in a long series of semi-autobiographical novels. Unfortunately, the print in my copy is so small that I ended up skimming through the book. I will probably buy the Kindle version at some point, so that I can read it comfortably. I really liked the humour of Janet's narrative voice, and thought Flash and Twice made a good pair.
Darn, I just looked at the Amazon reviews, and it seems that the ebook versions of the books are abridged.
I am noting your enjoyment of D.E. Stevenson. I just wish more of her stuff was available at reasonable pricing here in the States.
Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw. Audio. Did not finish. Autobiography of a young man with spinal muscular atrophy. I've been looking forward to reading this for quite a while, and was really enjoying it for several chapters. Then he devoted a chapter to telling us that he wasn't like the other kids at muscular dystrophy camp, because they were immature and had poor social skills. Then a couple of chapters later, he made fun of the other kids on "the Short Bus". And in the very next chapter he talked about how stupid Challenger baseball was. Self-promotion at the expense of others doesn't impress me, so I quit reading about halfway through the book. I may continue reading it sometime later, because I am interested in his story, and his writing is engaging. I'll go with the ebook version, though, so I can skip through any more derogatory parts.
It's funny, one complaint that I've heard people with disabilities make is that other people consistently portray them as quasi-saints. That their physical state erases any bad qualities they might have, reducing them to sketches of illnesses and syndromes. Maybe the writer was taking the opposite tack; bringing out his least attractive quality to show that a wheelchair doesn't erase personality faults. Just a thought although I'd probably have stopped reading, too. Running down the other guy never makes me like you.
>133 Bookmarque: Well, he does end the sports chapter with the words, "I'm probably an asshole." The bus chapter was the worst, because he makes fun of the other kids' hygiene problems and socially inappropriate behaviours. He is an intelligent and articulate young man, and is very open and honest about his own physical issues (there are a lot of bodily fluids in this book), and shares numerous embarrassing anecdotes about himself. That is his choice, and the basis of a lot of his humour. But making fun of others, with constant reminders that he isn't like them, just seems mean. It's like he's trying to validate his own social superiority.
The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer. One of my very favourite books, this is the first time I've listened to it in audio. I loved it as much as ever. The narrator was very good, although I had a few quibbles. But that is only to be expected when I almost know the book by heart, and have my own interpretations of the characters and dialogue firmly fixed in my head.
Hmm, it sounds from the reviews that The Toll-Gate is less a romance and more an adventure. And I like dialects in fiction. I may have to give this one a try.
>136 diana.n: It is very much an adventure, with some brief romantic intervals. One of my quibbles with the audio was that I felt the narrator overly dramatised those intervals. The main character is my favourite Heyer hero. And there's a highwayman.
>141 clamairy: It's fun. He's written numerous books of wordplay of one kind or another.
*waves and hugs* Hi Sylivia! Just dropping in to improve my vocabulary and increase my wish list.
>143 katylit: Nice of you to drop by! I hope it isn't as stormy there as it is here!
The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer. Reread. Audio and print. Georgette Heyer in audio is my preferred entertainment while redecorating, so that is why there is this sudden influx of Heyer. I finished my painting when I was about a quarter of the way through this one, so I switched to print because I was eager to read the rest of the story at my own pace (considerably faster than the audio). It had been well over twenty years since I last read The Masqueraders, and I was afraid the suck fairy might have got at it. On the contrary, I think I liked it even better than before. While I can see certain practical problems and plot weaknesses, it is still a wonderful adventure with interesting characters.
So, just as an interesting aside, what do you guys think of Mary Stewart? I'm just asking because I was reading her books and Heyers around the same time and all those feelings come back at their mention, as well as a few others from that period.
>152 nhlsecord: I like the Mary Stewart mysteries that I've read. They have just the right balance of plot, setting and romance for me, and the heroines don't rely on their man to get them out of trouble. I'm less keen on the Merlin ones but that's because I'm not keen on the Arthurian legends generally. Her children's novel Ludo and the star horse was one of my favourites when I was growing up. I read it over and over again!
>152 nhlsecord: Mary Stewart was an author I read in my teens, and the few books I have a foggy memory of, the memory is fond, but it doesn't make me want to grab her books today to read. That is with the exception of the Arthur books. I recently reread one of them, the first, and loved it very much.
I have most of Mary Stewart's books, and reread them frequently when I was younger, but there are only a few of them that I tend to revisit anymore. These days I'm most likely to read Touch Not the Cat, The Wind Off the Small Isles, Rose Cottage, and The Ivy Tree. Like Sakerfalcon, I'm not that into Arthurian legends, so didn't care for the Merlin ones. Ludo and the Star Horse is one that I never came across.
I can vividly remember the path I used to take through the fiction section of the library: Aiken, Andrews, Cadell, Francis, Heyer, Hill, Hodge, Loring, MacLean, Peters, Peters, Sayers, Shute, Stevenson, Stewart, Thane. (That took some touchstone acrobatics!) Then there were the SF, fantasy, YA, and nonfiction sections...
I had this whole message typed out on my tablet and I hit the wrong button ####! So now I'm using my big computer where my fingers belong.
I think my favourite Stewarts are The Moonspinners (and the Hayley Mills movie), Thunder on the Right and The Gabriel Hounds. I also loved the Merlin books.
I'll have to look closely at Sylvia's list of authors, I'm not familiar with all of them. In the same general period I'd add Mary Roberts Rinehart and Helen MacInnes.
I still have them all, on the shelves just behind me when I read. They give me comfort.
I enjoyed Mary Stewart's Merlin books many, many years ago (as I recall, the last one seemed a bit overdone), but I haven't tried her others. One more batch to add to the list. And I might get around to Heyer one of these days, when I want a break from my usual stuff.
I used to read Mary Stewart in high school. I can't remember if I read her mysteries first or the Arthur books. I loved them all! I wouldn't mind rereading them some time.
>159 Jim53: If you do try Heyer, the three that I just read are good adventure stories. (The Toll-Gate, The Masqueraders, and The Talisman Ring.)
>161 Marissa_Doyle: I used to love Madam, Will You Talk?, but now I look at it and wonder why.
This discussion is bringing back some happy memories not only of reading, but of the hours that I used to spend browsing well-stocked libraries and used bookstores.
I'm too afraid of the suck fairy to try Mary Stewart's Merlin books again but I remember enjoying them in my teens.
>164 Morphidae: There seems to be pretty high suck fairy potential for a lot of her books, but I would think the Marlin ones would be less likely than the others to become dated.
Lakeland: Ballad of a Freshwater Country by Allan Casey. Finally, a book club book that I really enjoyed! This is a book with a message about conservation and protecting the environment. Sixty percent of the world's lakes are in Canada, and we tend to take most them for granted. I've lived three quarters of my life within sight of one or another of the Great Lakes, and they have always fascinated me. But I rarely even think of the millions of other lakes scattered all over the country. In Lakeland, Alan Casey only mentions the Great Lakes in passing, and focuses on eleven other lakes in eight provinces. The book is divided by seasons over a two-year period as he travels around the country visiting different types of lakes, with different economies and different environmental challenges. He talks to the people who make their livings on the lakes, cottagers and tourists, and those who are working to preserve them. While he is educating the reader on environmental issues, it is also a very personal journey for him, as he explores his own feelings and ideas about the lakes, starting and ending at his own family's cottage on a lake in Saskatchewan. His writing is clear and descriptive, without getting too flowery or fulsome. In the future I'll be more aware of the abundance of lakes scattered throughout this country.
>166 SylviaC: That sounds wonderful; the sort of book which would make me want to take a long road trip around Canada.
>167 Sakerfalcon: It makes me want to see some of those lakes, and I'm not even an outdoors person.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua. Graphic novel (kind of). This was highly recommended by several people whose judgment I trust. It was loads of fun to read and I've developed a great admiration for Sydney Padua's talents. Not only can she draw and write, but she can understand and explain complicated math concepts, and has impressive research skills. This is one of the few books that I've labelled both "fiction" and "nonfiction". Normally I don't care for fictionalized biography, but this was thoroughly entertaining, and it was always perfectly clear which bits were real and which were imagined. Fortunately, I'm a fan of footnotes, so enjoyed the ones that were on almost every page (although their print size was a bit of a challenge). I think my favourite thing about the book was the way the author took two rather prickly and socially difficult people, and made them seem so darned loveable. I wish they'd had a few more thrilling adventures.
Remove Child Before Folding: The 101 stupidest, silliest, and wackiest warning labels ever by Bob Dorigo Jones. Quotes from warning labels with accompanying cartoons and comments. Such useful warnings as: "Ovenware will get hot when used in oven" and "Shin pads cannot protect any part of the body they do not cover."
>170 SylviaC: I bought a packet of boxers from a department store in Dublin. It was branded with the stores own brand. It had a small label sewn onto the front of each pair of boxers; one of those labels that are considered stylish and that usually have the designers name. When I got the packet home and took out the first pair of boxers I read the label. The word on it was, "Underwear".
I suppose it avoids confusion and lets people know they are not to be worn outside the trousers the way Superman wears his speedos.
>172 pgmcc: That's what the world needs. More clarity! Less ambiguity! Underwear must be clearly labelled as underwear, and the purchaser should use them as intended.
>173 SylviaC: yes, otherwise the warranty is void.
When i was 11 or 12 and first learning Latin, our class's motto was Semper ubi sub ubi. What can I say? We were that age.
>174 Jim53: When I was about 8, the most popular joke going around the class was for one child to ask another, "What are you eating under there?" If the other asked, "Under where?" the first would shout, "You're eating UNDERWEAR!?!" And hilarity would ensue.
>176 Spurts: Some of it was pretty funny, but some of them were repetitious. There were a lot of variations on "Do not ingest", "Keep away from fire", and "Do not use while sleeping."
>178 clamairy: Clam, I'd definitely vote for the physical copy, because it's all illustrated, not just partially, and it's worthwhile to be able to hold the book up to your nose to take in some of the delightful details. I can't imagine trying to read this as an ebook.
I agree, this is best read in paper. Even if you have an ereader that handles illustrations, there are some double page spreads (including some that are enhanced by rotating the book). And the drawings are quite detailed. The only advantage of an ebook would be to enlarge the footnotes.
>175 SylviaC: ooh, a certain five-year-old will have that inflicted on her when next we visit.
*sigh* I've been resisting this one, but the bullet finally sank in. I decided to buy a hardcover for my daughter. It is more up her ally than mine, but I might just have to preview it before giving it to her.
>170 SylviaC: Two labels that never cease to irritate me somewhat are the bag of mixed nuts with the label "This product may contain NUTS" - may contain? MAY contain? It's a bag of nuts there better be nuts in it! Closely followed by the portions of fish wrapped with a label that said "This product may contain Fish. Do not consume if you are allergic to fish." Again, while I understand, fully support and encourage the need for appropriate labelling and think it's absolutely essential on products where there may be any confusion, I do feel that this kind of labelling is unnecessary. Fish with nothing done to it to disguise it being fish or confuse its fishiness by mixing it with something else is Fish - similarly with bags of nuts. I'll stop whining now. :D
>190 Peace2: So, according to your last sentence a bag of unadulterated nuts is fish? I never knew that. It is amazing what one can learn on the Internet.
>190 Peace2: If they MAY contain nuts (or fish), one has to wonder what the alternative ingredients would be if the nuts (or fish) are lacking. It bothers me to see things like fruit or meat labelled as "gluten free"—but that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish.
>192 SylviaC: The other day Better Half bought a container of chicken stock granules. The label says it's vegan.
>194 hfglen: I always had my doubts about the chicken content of those granules. They must be made of soy chicken (gluten free, of course). (Still hungry, MrsLee?)
>191 pgmcc: Must be true if I've put it on the internet - everything else on the internet is absolutely 100% true that's on there! ;-P
My Wisconsinite son-in-law likes cheese burgers. He only likes the square cheese slices that come in packs to be used on his burgers. We tease him that they are plastic cheese.
When he is with us and we are making burgers we get a packet of cheese slices for him. One day we went to open the cheese slices and discovered they were described as, "Cheese flavoured slices". Perhaps we were not wrong about their being plastic cheese. I wonder if they are actually nuts or fish.
>203 Spurts: High-temperature pastuerization (like UHT long-life milk) will destroy vitamin C. "100%" juices around here are made of a mixture of de-flavoured apple, grape or pear juice and a minor addition of the named flavour (I get this from the label on the box). I suspect that the de-flavourizing will carry off more vitamins.
>201 pgmcc: The more remarkable as Wisconsin makes some very fine cheese, as I found delightfully at the 1998 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
>203 Spurts: Perhaps they are only listing the vitamins they add, not what is naturally occurring in the juice. Which at this point in time would be difficult to determine anyway as every crop, and indeed each individual berry or piece of fruit, varies a bit from the average. Analyzing each batch of juice at the food processing plant would be too costly and time consuming.
>205 clamairy: I didn't realize that they didn't list naturally occurring vitamins. That explains some puzzling labels that I've seen.
>205 clamairy: I don't believe that's true. Do you have a source? It just doesn't make sense that the label would list the percentage of the Recommended Daily Allowance for that vitamin from that product but it doesn't list all of that vitamin that is in that product. With all the arguments about the food label I don't think that such an obvious point of confusion would have been overlooked.
>207 jjwilson61: Truth is I don't know. I tried to read the FDA website but I gave up.
I do know that the laws about the labels changed drastically last year. Now they are only required to list the D and Calcium levels because Americans are lacking these things in their diets. https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/GuidanceDocumentsRegulatoryInformation/LabelingNutrition/ucm385663.htm Listing other vitamins in voluntary.
I did edit my previous post, though.
>204 hfglen: Yes, Hugh! That is one of the reasons I was so amazed at my son-in-law's preference for plastic cheese. Wisconsin is a dairy state; a big dairy state.
Yeah but that orange stuff they make here is crap. As a person raised on Vermont white cheddar, it's inedible. Don't get me started on cheese curds.
The discussion on juices interests me. Twenty years ago (I can date it exactly as my son was born at the end of this assignment) I carried out an organisational review of a juice packing company in England. They imported FCOJ (Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice) from around the world, defrosted it, added water, and put it in cartons. As someone who loved the film, "Trading Place", I was highly amused to be dealing with FCOJ.
There were a number of planning and production issues, and I was delighted when one of the production managers asked me, "How hard can this be? Any three year old adds water to orange concentrate. Why are we finding it so difficult?"
Apparently the norm was for the natural juice to be dehydrated to one-sixth and then shipped to its destination where it was rehydrated by adding back the missing water.
There was one exception to using the concentrate. Their premium product, chilled orange juice, was not dehydrated, just frozen. This was defrosted and packed without adding water.
Another factor that interested me was the way the season moved around the world and the source of the juice followed the season.
My husband I bought some land with an apple orchard almost 20 years ago. We decided quickly enough that it was extremely hard work with no profit to be made. One of the issues with the market was that juicemakers could buy concentrate from China far cheaper than processing locally. I don't know how the market might have changed more recently with the increased demand for juices that are not from concentrate.
A colleague of mine has a small orchard and uses his apples to make cider. He does not do it on a commercial basis, but prides himself on making the cider with old equipment in a traditional fashion. I think he just likes to be in a position of making a year's supply of cider for himself.
>213 SylviaC: This does not surprise me. You might find the attitude towards such things has changed for the better. I have been thrilled to see the resurgence of such enterprises around here. Not only are there farmers markets, also most of the grocery store chains have made room for local produce. The ciders especially are from our county or one nearby.
>214 pgmcc: Oooh, does he let it ferment?
>215 clamairy: Yes, our grocery chain here carries locally made fresh apple juice. It's great to see, although being allergic to apples I do not partake.
>215 clamairy: People have changed what they're looking for in eating apples too. When we were selling them, the wholesaler only wanted huge, perfectly formed, unblemished apples. How do you take that first bite out of an apple that is bigger than a grapefruit? Now the apples I see in stores are more reasonably sized. The stores still want them to look pretty, but our biggest grocery chain is now selling bags of "imperfect" apples as well.
>214 pgmcc: we have several nice orchards in our area that make their own cider after the pick-your-own season is over. We make quite a lot of good things with it.
A few do ferment theirs, but you have to know someone personally to get any since they can't legally sell it. It's rough stuff but an interesting experience.
Inspired by answering a "Name that book" question on the Lost Classics of Teen Fiction blog, I was pulled into the rabbit-hole of YA fiction of my youth. Teen fiction certainly used to be shorter than recent books, which is interesting, considering that so many of the people who grew up reading those shorter, less complex books, now complain about young people having no attention spans. Anyway, some of these stood the test of time for me, and some didn't.
The Troublemaker by Robert McKay. Good girl, who raises canaries, is drawn to new boy in town, who is rumoured to have committed some mysterious crime. Main theme is the students' rights movement. Very late 60's/early 70's vibe. I loved it when I was a teenager, and it hasn't lost its appeal.
Dave's Song by Robert McKay. Good girl is drawn to stubborn chicken farmer. (Why does that sound familiar?) Leonard Cohen's song "Suzanne" plays an important role in the story. So do chickens. What's not to like? I think I like this one even better now than I did way back then, because I have developed a certain partiality to chicken farmers.
Both of the McKay books were published when I was a very young child, so I have some memory of the era. The whole hippies, headbands, freedom, and music thing is part of my worldview. I wonder if they would have any meaning for my children's generation. (It's no use asking, they won't read them.) The next three books all take place during my own teenage years, and two of them didn't hold out as well.
Run, Don't Walk by Harriet May Savitz. Girl in a wheelchair aspires to compete in a marathon, while boy fights for accessible washrooms in their school.
If You Can't Be the Sun, Be a Star by Harriet May Savitz. Girl (with the help of boy) encourages fellow students and neighbours to improve their communities by working together. Both books rather hit the reader over the head with their messages of cooperating to fight for what you believe in. I enjoyed them when I was in the target audience, but they haven't grown with me.
The Changeover by Margaret Mahy. A witchy fantasy. This one doesn't really fit in the previous cluster, because even though I originally read it as a teenager (or in my very early adult years), I've read it many times since, so knew that my satisfaction was guaranteed.
This should give a pretty good indication of my level of concentration lately. Due to a variety of factors, some positive, some negative, and some just tedious, I'm not getting far with anything that requires much focus. I'm going to read a children's book next—but a brand new one!
>219 SylviaC: I love Margaret Mahy's teen books, and The changeover is a good one. I also like The tricksters, Memory and The catalogue of the universe. I love the way she uses metaphors in her descriptions which give even mundane things a magical touch.
I also have a few go-to YA titles that I've kept in my collection and frequently reread when I want something quick that I know will be satisfying.
Oh! I knew that author looked familiar. I keep a copy of The Catalogue of the Universe for repeat pleasures and hoping to pass it on to a grand.
>220 Sakerfalcon: >221 2wonderY: I really like The Catalogue of the Universe, too. The Other Side of Silence is another excellent YA book. She has some cute kids' books, also. The Great Piratical Rumbustification is fun. She was an incredibly prolific author, but her books aren't always easy to find in North America.
The Lotterys Plus One by Emma Donoghue. Children's book about diversity and acceptance. An extremely diverse family in Toronto has to adapt to the arrival of a very conservative grandfather who is developing dementia. Even with the occasional adult asides, it may be a little overly cutesy for adult taste, but would probably work well for 9-12 year olds. The four co-parents are called PopCorn, PapaDum, MaxiMum, and CardaMom. (They'd had way too much tequila the night they picked their nicknames.) The seven children are all named after trees. The book kind of felt like an exercise in how much diversity the author could include in a single family, but the characters were all interesting. There was lots of humour and wordplay. The story was engaging and I was always eager to return to it. The pacing was very good for most of the book, with the characters' backstories being released gradually instead of dumping the whole family history at once. The resolution did seem rather abrupt, though.
>223 SylviaC: That sounds like too much entertainment not to give it a try. The fact that all the copies at the library are out suggests that either it's a fun read or you've got more followers around here than I realized.
>225 Jim53: It was only released on March 28, but there has been a fair bit of hype because it is by the author of Room, which is a very different kind of book (and I haven't read it). I though the descriptions sounded intriguing, and managed to be first on my library's hold list when it came in. And yes, I did find it quite entertaining, despite a few shortcomings.
>207 jjwilson61: I have to agree with jjw until proven othotherwise.
>230 MrsLee: Yes, I did! The illustrations were adorable. Poor Duncan wanted to finish his books so badly.
>231 SylviaC: I identify with him a lot recently, although, our reasons for not finishing books are somewhat different.
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson. The parts about the development of the industry, the technology, and even the labour issues were interesting, but the political and regulatory stuff was pretty monotonous. I would like to have learned more about the physical aspects of the boxes, ships, cranes, and dockyards. Diagrams or photos would have been nice.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. I was sorting through unread books to see whether there were any that I could release to new homes, and decided to read the first pages of this one to see whether it appealed to me. I surfaced a few hours later to the realization that I had a family to feed. I was pulled right in from the very first page, and stayed engaged all the way through. Harry was born in 1919 to a former kitchen maid and adopted by the Augusts. He lived out his life, died, and was born again in exactly the same circumstances. Over and over again. He discovers that there are others like himself, who are regularly reborn into the same lives, with memories of their previous lifetimes more or less intact. I found the concept fascinating, and have been spending quite a bit of time working out some of the ramifications in my mind. Although I was left with some questions about temporal paradoxes and timelines shared by multiple characters, I still found the book satisfying. The torture scenes were the only thing I didn't like about it, and I had to try to skip those bits. Some reviewers didn't like the way the story keeps skipping back and forth between timelines, but I thought the author wove it all together deftly. A well-crafted novel.
>234 SylviaC: I have this one on my list for this year, (will be borrowing from library). Your description makes it sound somewhat reminiscent of Life After Life. Have you read that book by Kate Atkinson? If yes, how does 'The First Fifteen Lives...' compare?
>237 SylviaC: Ah, ok. Your review has me moving the North book up my list. Will probably check it out after my current 4 Overdrive holds come through... ;)
I think it will be cool to compare the two. Quite a few reviewers didn't like the way Atkinson handled the timeline thing either. I just found the the early going a bit confusing but, once I realized what she was doing, I settled right in and found the book to be quite good. It was an interesting, 'what if...?' type of scenario.
>234 SylviaC: >236 ScoLgo: The First Fifteen Lives of was on my list of favorite reads of the year last year. I felt much as you did, Sylvia.
As far as Life After Life, for me it was a great premise, over written and ultimately not nearly as enjoyable as it could have been. A trifle pretentious, I hate to have to say.
In the "Lives Relived" subgenre, Replay is an old favorite. Grimwood apparently went to his grave convinced that the idea behind Groundhog Day was stolen from him, but I don't buy it. Still a very enjoyable exploration of the idea. And I just saw the musical version of that movie on Broadway -- good, whimsical, but the movie set the bar quite high....
>237 SylviaC: I'm not an urban fantasy reader either, but her Matthew Swift series is probably going to be one of my top reads for the year. The writing is gorgeous, the undercurrent of humor just right and leavens the urban grittiness, and London is a character all in itself.
>234 SylviaC: I have this one on my tbr shelves having read a preview featured in another book. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it.
Company Town by Madeline Ashby. For book club. Go Jung-hwa, a bodyguard for the National Sex Workers union ("There's a pension. Flexible hours. Nice people."), is recruited to protect the teenaged heir to the Lynch Corporation. Lynch recently bought the New Arcadia oil rig city, off the coast of Newfoundland. Hwa is the only person in the city who has no surgical, technological or genetic modifications, despite having a congenital disorder which involves a number of physical issues. She compensates for this by being very, very fit, and very, very deadly.
My reactions to this book were all over the place. I hated the violence but loved most of the rest of the book, except for the parts that were just bizarre. Science fiction, dystopia, thriller, mystery, romance, futurism, and social commentary are all thrown into the mix, and some of it works and some of it doesn't. The first time I started reading it, the violence turned me right off, and I got very confused about what was going on. I tried again a couple of weeks later, and my reading experience was very different. The violence was still there, but I got better at skipping it. This time I was completely immersed in the story and didn't come up for air until it was done. The setting was well developed, and totally believable. Hwa is a wonderful, complex character, who may not always make the best choices, but always does what she thinks is right. Oddly, this gritty, violent book has one of the sweetest romances that I've encountered. It doesn't take up a lot of page space, but it was what lightened the tone up enough that I could keep reading. Some spoilery commentary on the ending:
>244 SylviaC:, that's an interesting point. You had to find the right road into the particular narrative that worked for you in order to enjoy the reading experience. I sometimes hold on to books that I didn't enjoy the first time around to see if they work for me in a different mood or time-frame. It's the same dynamic at work.
>245 jillmwo: So much depends on the reader's expectations, experiences, mood, stage of life, state of mind, health, weather, and on and on and on... There are times when something that has all the elements that should work doesn't, and times when something previously enjoyed falls flat. It's no wonder that different people respond differently to the same book, when an individual reader doesn't even respond consistently
>236 ScoLgo: >237 SylviaC: >239 stellarexplorer: I thoroughly enjoyed Life After Life, but it was a bit dark and it contains several (probably many?) incidents that I believe Sylvia might find uncomfortable to read.
Thanks, >236 ScoLgo:... you just added another to my creaking OverDrive pile. Have you read Atkinson's A God in Ruins by any chance? I bought it for my kindle but haven't gotten to it yet. I have enjoyed her Jackson Brodie series immensely over the years. There's a lot of dry humor in there.
>247 clamairy: Thanks for that warning, Clam! I really appreciate it. I visualize what I read pretty clearly, and scenes of violence, bullying, and cruelty can keep me awake at night, or fill my dreams if I do sleep. At least with a warning, I can make a more informed decision on whether to read it, and if I do decide to, I won't be blindsided by those scenes.
Is all of Atkinson's work like that? I bought Case Histories at a sale, but I haven't really looked into it yet.
The Forest of Reading is an annual recreational reading initiative by the Ontario Library Association, with lists of recommended Canadian books for children at different grade levels and adults to read and vote on. The members of my library book club read as many of them as we want, then discuss and vote on them in September. A few of the nonfiction ones on the list look interesting to me, and I got off to a good start.
Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan Coyote. Ivan Coyote is a Canadian writer, performing artist, public speaker, and filmmaker. And a skilled storyteller, both orally and on paper. This book is a memoir, consisting of short pieces about their childhood in a large extended family in the Yukon, their life as a non-binary trans person, tributes to people in their life, and support to others who may be struggling with questions of identity and acceptance. Even though there are many incidents of insensitivity and humiliation, the overall tone of the book is positive. The writing led me to look for videos of some of Ivan's performances online, and the little bit that my crummy internet let me see helped me imagine the pieces in the book being performed by Ivan. I'll try to watch more videos sometime when I have a decent internet signal.
>252 clamairy: Yeah, even the Kindle version is $16.74 on Amazon.ca—a paper copy is less than $1 more. It's from a small publisher. It's readily available in libraries here, of course, since it's part of a provincial reading program. Maybe if it continues to do well here, more US libraries will pick it up. I think you would appreciate Ivan's observations and humour.
>254 Sakerfalcon: It was definitely the roughest of the four, IMHO. Or maybe I just got used to it. :o/
>254 Sakerfalcon: I hope it becomes more available outside of Canada. Actually, one of the neat things about it was that it was identifiably Canadian, even though it takes place in a dystopian future. Most notably, Hwa frequently talked like a Newfoundlander. Not enough to parodize or annoy, but just enough to give it that localized touch.
Your warning about Case Histories is a definite deterrent.
ETA: Mind you, much of the violence in Company Town is against women.
Cotillion by Georgette Heyer. Audio. An old favourite, this is the first time I've listened to the audio. I enjoyed it, but it didn't work quite as well for me in audio as some other Heyers. It was no fault of the narrator—Phyllida Nash did an excellent job—I think it was just the pacing of the story. But Freddy was just as wonderful as ever.
The Georgette Heyer group on Goodreads is doing a group read of The Unknown Ajax in May. Just saying. :)
>260 Marissa_Doyle: If anything can tempt me to learn to navigate the Goodreads groups, that would probably be it.
I'm not a big fan of GR in general, but it's a nice group of adults with no drama: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/19912-georgette-heyer-fans
>262 Marissa_Doyle: I joined the group. Now I just have remember to go back to Goodreads every now and then, and get used to the different Talk format. Apparently I last logged in a year ago--and I never have explored the social side of it.
The Menace From Earth by Robert A. Heinlein. Short stories published in 1959. fuzzi gave me this book. As with a lot of scientific fiction of the period, you have to try to tune out a certain amount of racism, sexism, and nuke 'em attitude, but outside of that, I enjoyed this collection. "The Year of the Jackpot" was my favourite, with its blend of apocalypse and statistics. ”By His Bootstraps” is a classic of time travel paradox. "Goldfish Bowl” is an interesting study in perspective. I don't know why Heinlein or his publisher chose to use the title of one of the weakest stories in the book as the collection's title, unless it was just because it sounds dramatic. It's been a long time since I read any mid-century SF short stories, so this was a nice reminder of a different period of my life. Thank you, fuzzi!
The Name Therapist by Duana Taha. Did not finish. This is another Forest of Reading book. I'm not even sure how to describe it. It is about unusual names, and is partly memoir, partly advice, and partly information, with a smattering of self-promotion. I was too bored to persist past the first few chapters.
Five Roses by Alice Zorn. Forest of Reading. A few months in the lives of some women in a neighbourhood in Montreal. I didn't think I was going to like this book at first, finding it disjointed and bleak. But I eventually grew to like most of the characters, and wanted things to turn out well for them. Their lives touch and connect at various points, but each has her own storyline. The setting is very well written. The old working class neighbourhood that is just on the brink of gentrification, and the abandoned industrial zone are vividly portrayed.
Some things that I want to remember for the book discussion:
-Fara's story is barely connected with the others, and I found her the least likeable of the women. Links: geography, workplace, loss through suicide vs loss through kidnapping.
-It was an interesting narrative choice to have Yushi, who is important to two of the storylines, as the only major female character who is not given her own point of view.
-I liked it that Maddy and Rose didn't feel any connection at all when they met, no subconscious awareness of their relationship. Eventually, there are a couple of hints that Maddy might eventually figure out who Rose is, but there is no intuitive link.
-There was some problematic sex that did not seem to get adequately addressed, but I can only conclude that the author wanted to leave us feeling uncomfortable about those experiences.
-Nature/nurture: was Rose's lack of awareness of social cues and feeling of disassociation entirely due to her upbringing, or might she be on the autistic spectrum?
-Was the relationship between Maddy and Yushi mainly mother/daughter substitution, or was there an element of sexual attraction?
-Fara and Rose are both socially oblivious, but in very different ways.
-I liked Maddy, Rose, Yushi, Kenny, and Leo.
-The character of Frédéric only seems to exist to be bossed around by Fara.
-The tone of the book shifted from bleak to surprisingly optimistic.
I enjoyed most of Friday but was disappointed with the ending. It was doing great with
I think my favorite Heinlein must be his short story All You Zombies - which was recently (and quite decently) adapted to film as Predestination starring Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook.
Another I greatly enjoyed was The Door Into Summer. The title and subsequent story was actually inspired by Heinlein's Feline Overlord.
edit: fix typo
The Science of Why: Answers to questions about the world around us by Jay Ingram. I found it more engaging that other books I've tried by the same author. Good to pick up if you have a few minutes to fill, but definitely not for any kind of in-depth study. Includes cute little cartoons, for which the illustrator is only credited in teeny tiny print in the copyright notice. Tony Hanyk deserves more acknowledgement, since the cartoons add that little bit extra to Ingram's generally uninspired writing.
What the F: What Swearing Reveals About Our Language, Our Brains, and Ourselves by Benjamin K. Bergen. Audio. My father swore as naturally as he breathed, and the most I ever heard from my mother was a subdued "damn". My brother takes after our father, although with significant differences in vocabulary. I am even less sweary than my mother, but I have a certain respect for particularly creative practitioners (see the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog, for example). So I'm curious about the psychology of swearing. This book didn't tell me what makes some people swearers and others not, but it did give me a whole lot of information that I hadn't even realized I wanted to know. It covered history, psychology, sociology, etymology, linguistics and more. Who knew that swearing has its own set of complex grammar rules? The author read the audio version, and clearly enjoys his subject matter very much. I have to confess, I got a wee bit of entertainment from observing my daughter's reaction whenever she got into the car and was greeted by a litany of profanity coming from the speakers. She kept switching to something else, for some reason.
>277 SylviaC: That's funny! Im pretty sure my teenage daughter would be highly amused, but would demand an explanation.
>277 SylviaC: I love the irony of an audio book on swearing. It seems so appropriate; genius even.
You reminded me of a TV ad that has been showing here. It is advertising the services of an Internet Service Provider who is promoting their fibre-optic supported services and the ability to watch different programmes in different rooms to facilitate different tastes. It starts with an elderly lady sitting on a sofa with what appears to be her teenaged granddaughter and they are watching a film. It is obviously a romance and the action on screen starts getting a bit steamy. The grandmother has a lascivious smile on her face, eyes wide open not to miss anything, and is uttering little groans of appreciation while holding a small handkerchief to her lips. The teenaged granddaughter gets progressively uncomfortable at her granny's reactions to the images on the screen and eventually runs up to her bedroom to watch it on another screen, not in the company of her granny.
I think you may have hit me with that one as a book bullet. Should I use a profanity at this stage? Which one would you recommend?
>279 pgmcc: I would recommend the hidden spoiler function, with nothing behind it, poking light fun at the clicker's prurient interest.
>281 pgmcc: Well done! But perhaps add the word "Obscenity" before "Spoiler"?
277> The little I've read about swearing is fascinating. Apparently that bit of language is stored away from everything else.
Was your daughter oh so obviously trying to be all casual about changing to something else?
It would be a terrible thing to
My son, who never swears in front of his parents, preferred to continue listening to the book, and started a discussion about societal expectations and implications around swearing and the use of slurs in particular. He is older than his sister, and is rarely embarrassed by anything his parents do. My daughter frequently accuses me of traumatizing her for life. But she's addicted to Netflix, and often watches shows with far more profanity, violence, and sex than she's ever likely to encounter in our home.
>279 pgmcc: That ad sounds funny!
>284 MDGentleReader: Yes, that was one to the things he talks about, and that is why some people who have had damage to the speech areas of their brains can still swear, even if they have no other words. Unlike the other book I just read, this one is loaded with science.
There was nothing casual about my daughter's response. It was more like, "Mother! Why are you listening to that?!? I don't want to hear those words!" She's a teenager in highschool, so I doubt that there was much there that she hasn't heard. Although I will admit that I learned some new words, she didn't listen long enough to hear those ones.
>285 SylviaC: Did you say she is 17? I predict she will thank you for her upbringing before she turns 24.
>286 SylviaC: that explains a lot - my husband's sister suffered a stroke that has impacted her speech center, so she only has command of about twenty different words; it seemed odd to me that 5 of those are curse words, but maybe the area they come from isn't damaged? Surprisingly she can also repeat something that is said to her, but a few minutes later she doesn't have those words anymore, just the core 20.
>287 2wonderY: She's only 14, so still pretty young. Her brother is 17.
>289 SylviaC: He goes into a fair amount of detail about the different parts of the brain used for different aspects of speech. I've read about a lot of that in Oliver Sacks' books, and some others. I think music is also stored separately from speech, so some people may still be able to sing songs, even though they have lost individual words. How long ago was your sister-in-law's stroke? I hope she will be able to recover more communication skills.
>286 SylviaC: so she was overt about not wanting to hear cursing, not trying to play it cool.
>289 SylviaC: Wendy's stroke was 8 years ago, so she's recovered as much capacity as she is going to.
The thing about music reminded me of Wielding a Red Sword where the main character learns that he does not stutter when singing - I thought it was interesting and learned later that it is true for a lot of stutter sufferers.
What the F sounds fascinating, but I'll confess to having uttered an example of the subject matter in question when I saw that the ebook version is a full $1.50 more than the hardcover. What the F indeed.
>293 Marissa_Doyle: Oh, too bad. It was a daily deal a few weeks ago, which was when I bought it. Maybe it will come up again later in the year, when they have one of their sales of prior daily deal books.
>285 SylviaC: she's addicted to Netflix, and often watches shows with far more profanity, violence, and sex than she's ever likely to encounter in our home.
Well that really sets the bar for your home behaviour. :-)
My mom yelled at me yesterday for using the F word. I am 38. But really, though, I can't think of another swear word that one can use in such a variety of situations.
>283 pgmcc: No, here's the reasoning: if you just offer a spoiler and someone clicks it, they don't understand what is uncovered. It's meaningless. If you say, in effect, "click here for obscenity", then they see the connection between their impulse to see and the wagging finger underneath.
I think I would like What the F. I swore like a sailor when I was in high school. Kinda got out of it because the crowd I ran with didn't use it and thought it was not ok. Now I only use it when I'm angry. I'll have to see if my library has a copy.
I swear more now than I ever used to. I'm going to blame it on age damaging my language center of the brain and making it hard for me to find words now and then. Now I know that I keep swear words in a special pocket of my brain, very easy to access.
>277 SylviaC: That's sounds like my kind of book. I'm a lot more like your father (and mine) than I am like you and your mother (and mine.) When I was growing up my mother didn't even like to say 'darn.' She said 'drat.' I never heard her use the word 'shit' until I was in my late teens, and even then she was talking about horse poop on the beach. LOL My kids are both like me.
I am intrigued by your daughter's reaction to your audio book. Very interesting indeed.
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