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Helenliz does battle with the books in 2018

2018 Category Challenge

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Edited: Oct 12, 2017, 3:54pm Top

The aim this year is a gentle year with little pressure. No target of books to read, no need to read 6 of this and 3 of that type. Just a place to record what I get up to.

Having said that I do, of course have some reading targets. I hope I've set some of my categories up to help me meet a few of them. My theme is castles. I like visiting castles, they come in all shapes and sizes and histories. They're fun to clamber around, they look interesting in the landscape and they tell us something of who we are. I've tried to pair the castles with the themes I've picked.

I will also maintain a list of books for the year.

I think that's me set up, let's see how it goes!

Edited: Jun 29, 3:05am Top

Currently reading:

Wish I Was Here (audio)

July's plan:
RandomCat: Getting to know you
AlphaKIT: S&A: NW, Zadie Smith
ColourCat: Pink: Uncle Fred in the Springtime (Pink cover)
Heyer Read: Masqueraders
HP re-read: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Library books out on loan (which I really ought to get too sooner rather than later!)
The Mysteries of Udolpho
The Forsyte Saga
A Little Life
The Italian Wife

Edited: Jun 29, 3:06am Top

Challenge 1 - books by women authors

Castle: Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle is a natural site for a castle, it dominates the landscape and was probably a fortified place long before the Normans put a stone castle in this location. It's importance is clear from the fact that this is one of the first Norman castle to be built in stone - most early castles were wooden palisades on top of a motte.
It continued to be a royal residence into the medieval period, with it being one of King John's favourite places.
However it's applicability to women comes to light during the Civil War. It was then owned by the Bankes family, a Royalist family in a parliamentary county. It was placed under siege when Lord Bankes was absent. That didn't deter the lady of the castle. Lady Bankes, her maids and 5 men defended the castle in a 6 week siege. Later in the civil war, Corfe again came under siege and Lady Bankes, again, rose to the occasion. The small group of retainers and servants defended the castle successfully. The castle was only taken when one of her men betrayed the defenders by letting the parlimetary forces in a side door. Pah! Men, can't trust them.
Lady Bankes' courage was saluted, however, as she was allowed to keep all of the keys to the castle. After it was taken by parliamentary forces, the castle was slighted, to prevent it being used defensively again.

So far in 2017 I've read 2/3 by women authors, which was never an intention, but is quite impressive. I'd like to maintain at least parity between the sexes in terms of authorship in 2018

Corfe Castle is now in the hands of the National Trust.
Should you be feeling equally brave, you can attempt to take the castle with your teddy bear. We never leave a bear behind

1. The Black Moth, Georgette Heyer
2. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
3. Rosie Revere, Engineer, Andrea Beaty
4. Life After Life, Kate Atkinson
5 Property, Valerie Martin
6. A History of Britain in 21 Women, Jenni Murray
7. An Experiment in Love, Hilary Mantel
8. Powder and Patch, Georgette Heyer
9. A Brief Summary, In Plain Language, Of The Most Important Laws Of England Concerning Women: Together With A Few Observations Thereon, Barbara Bodichon
10. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
11. The Periodic Table of Feminism, Marisa Bate
12. Happiness, Like Water, Chinelo Okparanta
13. Lie by Moonlight, Amanda Quick
14. Last Writes Catherine Aird
15. The Great Roxhythe, Georgette Heyer
16. Simon the Coldheart, Georgette Heyer
17. A Spot of Folly Ruth Rendell
18. These Old Shades, Georgette Heyer
19. Married Love and Other Stories, Tessa Hadley
20. Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver
21. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling

Edited: May 17, 2:10pm Top

Challenge 2 - Mysteries

Castle: Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle is an earthworks castle, with the natural hill being fortified with ditches and banks. It is an ancient site, with evidence of neolithic habitation, ~ 6000 years ago. Its use continues into the Iron age, with the multiple ditches and banks being formed in stages of activity. It was in use at the time of the Roman invasion, but does not seem to have been the site of a pitched battle. It was abandoned during the Roman occupation.

It's a very strange site to visit. You're alone in this windy location with birds overhead and you can easily loose people in the scale of the castle and it's fortifications. I found it somewhat eerie and strange, somewhat mysterious in fact.

I'm a fan of historic mysteries, Sayers, Christie and the golden age mysteries. I don't like blood & gore, so nothing too modern and gory will be found in here.

Maiden Castle is maintained by English Heritage and is free to visit at any reasonable time. I'd not go at night, it was haunting enough during the day.

1. Suffer Little Children, Peter Tremayne
2. The Tales of Max Carrados, Ernest Bramah
3. Murder Under the Christmas Tree, Various
4. Last Writes, Catharine Aird
5. A Spot of Folly Ruth Rendell

Edited: Jun 22, 1:48pm Top

Challenge 3 - Classics

Castle: Ashby de la Zouch

Ashby Castle is not one of the classic castles one thinks of when the word is used. But it fits this challenge, as it features as a backdrop for the joust in Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. It is the creation of the later middle ages, being built in the last quarter of the 15th Century. It remained unfinished, although was the seat of power of the throughout the Tudor & Stewart periods. It hosted a number of royal visits and held Mary Queen of Scots for a while (although the castle that didn't is rare indeed!). During the Civil war it was a Royalist stronghold, and hosted Charles 1 on more than one occasion, including after the defeat at Naseby. It was surrendered to the Parliamentarians and the defences were enthusiastically destroyed by them.
The ruins became popular after they featured in Ivanhoe. Thereafter, visitor numbers increased as the Victorians got their taste for the picturesque and the romantic impressions that these places offer.

These days it remains an attractive place to visit, with the tower walls standing to full height in places. There are gardens to stroll around and you can find a bench to read Ivanhoe.

I have a feeling that I'm under-read. I'm trying to wander my way through a load of the classics, just to catch up.

Ashby de la Zouch Castle is now maintained by English Heritage

1. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
2. Don Quixote, Cervantes
3. The Man of Property, John Galsworthy

Edited: Apr 5, 12:24pm Top

Challenge 4 - History

Castle: Dover Castle

Dover Castle is selected to represent History as it has featured in pretty much every age of English History. It has evidence of Roman occupation (a Roman lighthouse still stands) was occupied by the saxons (the church foundation is Saxon), was a Norman keep, formed part of the defence of England in multiple wars and was active through to the Second World War with the relief of Dunkirk being planned from the Second world war tunnels. If you wanted to capture a nation's story in one location, you'd be hard pressed to beat this.

We're going to be staying here in November. English Heritage have created small cottages for holiday lets in some of their properties, and Dover Castle is one of them. I couldn't resist the idea of getting to stay in a 12th Century gatehouse (with 21st Century mod cons) - can't wait. It appeals to me quite a lot. I will add some photos after we go.

Dover Castle is maintained by English Heritage.

This category will include straight history as well as historical fiction.

1. Property Valerie Martin
2. A History of Britain in 21 Women Jenni Murray
3. Suffer Little Children, Peter Tremayne
4. A Periodic Table of Feminism, Marisa Bate
5. Threads of Feeling, John Styles

Edited: Jun 9, 6:50am Top

Challenge 5 - Non-Fiction

Castle: Deal Castle

Deal Castle is one of a series of defences built by Henry VIII against probably invasion from the continent. They are known, collectively, as the Cinque Ports and they are all of this form, although to different degrees and scales. They are beautiful and deadly. From the air it looks too pretty to be effective, but this was the cutting edge of technology at the time. The circular construction is to allow the defensive cannons to have an effective and uninterrupted field of fire. The low height is to prevent it offering an attractive target to ship borne cannon and invaders. There's nothing superfluous or fanciful about this, it is all about effectiveness as a fighting machine. To that end, I've selected this for my Non-Fiction category.

I try and read about 1 non-fiction per month, but will be happy with 9 over the year. I like science (I once was a scientist) & history.

Deal Castle is maintained by English Heritage and is one I haven't visited, although it remains on the list...

1. Jolly Wicked, Actually, Tony Thorne
2. A History of Britain in 21 Women, Jenni Murray
3. A Brief Summary, In Plain Language, Of The Most Important Laws Of England Concerning Women: Together With A Few Observations Thereon, Barbara Bodichon
4. Religio Medici, Sir Thomas Browne
5. The Green Walk into the Trees, Hugh Thomson
6. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft
7. A Periodic Table of Feminism, Marisa Bate
8. Threads of Feeling, John Styles
9. The Pie at Night, Stuart Maconie
10. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby

Edited: Apr 9, 10:35am Top

Challenge 6 - Romance

Castle: Castle Coch

Castle Coch (it means Red Castle) may be an old site, but its current presentation is an imaginative imagining of what a fairytale medieval castle might be, one that ought to be populated by damsels in distress and bold knights. It is the creation of Victorian money and artistic talent and I loved it. Although don't ask me to stay there - the walls are far to busy for a restful night's sleep. Never intended as more than a country retreat it is a brilliant invention of the Victorian High Gothic period. It could be a romantic vision of the past, and so is a suitable castle for my Romances.

This is not a major category, but occasionally it is something I turn to.

Castle Coch is maintained by CADW, the Welsh equivalent to English Heritage.

1. Lie by Moonlight, Amanda Quick

Edited: Jun 2, 11:36am Top

Challenge 7 - Georgette Heyer Read

Castle: Hackness Martello Tower

The Martello towers were a series of forts that were built along the coast to protect shipping and ports from invasion during the Napoleonic wars. They were all built on the same basic plan, such that a soldier could be deployed to any of them and be familiar with the fort's layout. They were never used in anger. Some have fallen into disrepair, some have been converted into an unusual house or accommodation. Only a very few are open to visit, Hackness being just one example.

The overlap between the building period of the Martello towers and the Regency period, of which Georgette Heyer is most well known is why this odd combination has been chosen. I'm planning on reading Heyer's romances in publication order.

Hackness Martello Tower is maintained by Historic Scotland. It is not one I have visited, it is selected as an archetype.

Heyer romances:
(r) Set in Regency Period
(g) Set in Georgian Period
(h) Set in prior historical Periods.

The Black Moth (g) 1921 Finished 01Jan18, ****1/2
Powder and Patch (g) 1923 Finished 05Feb18, ***
The Great Roxhythe (h) 1923 Finished 30Apr18, ***
Simon the Coldheart (h) 1925 Finished 7May18, ***
These Old Shades (g) 1926 Finished 31May18, ***

To be Read
The Masqueraders (g) 1928
Beauvallet (h) 1929
The Conqueror (h) 1931
Devil's Cub (g) 1932
The Convenient Marriage (g) 1934
Regency Buck (r) 1935
The Talisman Ring (g) 1936
An Infamous Army (r) 1937
Royal Escape (h) 1938
The Spanish Bride (r) 1940
The Corinthian (r) 1940
Faro's Daughter (g) 1941
Friday's Child (r) 1944
The Reluctant Widow (r) 1946
The Foundling (r) 1948
Arabella (r) 1949
The Grand Sophy (r) 1950
The Quiet Gentleman (r) 1951
Cotillion (r) 1953
The Toll Gate (r) 1954
Bath Tangle (r) 1955
Sprig Muslin (r) 1956
April Lady (r) 1957
Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle (r) 1957
Venetia (r) 1958
The Unknown Ajax (r) 1959
Pistols for Two (short stories) 1960
A Civil Contract (r) 1961
The Nonesuch (r) 1962
False Colours (r) 1963
Frederica (r) 1965
Black Sheep (r) 1966
Cousin Kate (r) 1968
Charity Girl (r) 1970
Lady of Quality (r) 1972
My Lord John (h) 1975

Edited: Jun 9, 6:46am Top

Challenge 8 - Orange Prize

Castle: Tower of London

The Tower of London has everything. It has been the heart of the nation's life since the White Tower (the keep at the centre of the complex) was built after the Norman invasion. It has been extended, expanded, and altered by every generation since it was built. It has been the key the keeping the country every since. It is the jewel in the crown, the prize any invader sets their heart on. Hence it being selected for my read of Orange prize winner and shortlisted books.

I'm going to aim for at least 6 of these over the course of the year.

It was also the location of the moving installation of poppies to mark the start of the first world war. We visited a few weeks before it was completed. I couldn't help but be impressed by the grand scope of the idea and the attention to detail of the installation. Some of my images are below.

The Tower of London is in the hands of the Historic Royal Palaces. I happily spent an entire day here and am still not convinced I saw all of it.

1. Life After Life, Kate Atkinson.
2. Property, Valerie Martin
3. Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver

Edited: Jun 29, 3:06am Top

Challenge 9 - Flights of Fancy

Castle: Alnwick Castle

Alnwick castle was bought by a Percy in 1309, when there was already a motte & baily castle in existence on the site. Over the years, the castle was extended and modified to meet the requirements of the family as they caused trouble in the political scene. They have, more than once, ended up on the wrong side, yet seem to survive, as did their castle.

Alnwick Castle is probably best known now for being one of the locations used for the Harry Potter films. In which case this will be used for any book that is not set in a realistic mode. Any fantasy, magic and so on. I might try a Harry Potter series read, as I'm still pretty sure I've not read all of them, even though we have them all on the shelf.

Alnwick Castle remains owned by the Percy family, who have held it for over 700 years.

1. The Best Bear in All the World, Various
2. Lucky Button, Michael Morpurgo
3. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling

Edited: Jun 14, 2:14pm Top

Challenge 10 - Miscellaneous

Castle: Portchester Castle

Portchester castle is the best preserved Roman fort north of the Alps. Which is quite some claim to fame. It was built by the Romans to deter the marauding Saxons who were harrying Britain from all sides. After the Roman retreat, the Saxons took over and built a town within the walls. They stayed until the Normans arrived and built the castle in one quarter and the church (originally a priory) in another quarter of the extensive fort. The church remains in use. The castle was used primarily as a prison in its later life with the peak occupancy during the Napoleonic wars.

Seeing this castle has a bit of everything, it will serve for all books that can't fit anywhere else - a miscellany.

Portchester Castle is in the care of English Heritage, although the church remains an active parish church and is maintained by the diocese of Portsmouth.

If any castle can be said to be mine, this is it. I grew up 10 miles up the road, and while Portsmouth is surrounded by various fortifications of various ages, this was always my favourite. Probably as it was the one you could go in and climb up and down and round and that always appeals to a child.

1. Piccadilly Jim, PG Wodehouse
2. The Art of Flying, Antonio Altaribba
3. Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, PG Wodehouse
4. Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid, Simon Armitage
5. Dom Casmurro, Machado de Assis
6. The Convict and Other Stories, James Lee Burke

Edited: Jun 10, 11:11am Top

Challenge 11 - CATs

Castle: Belfast Castle

I know little about Belfast castle, but a search lead me to discover that it has a legend that there should always be a cat in the castle, else it will fall.To avoid such an eventuality, they have introduced a cat garden at the castle. How adorable. There are 9 different cats in the garden, some of them are shown below.

Belfast Castle is run by Belfast city council. I've never been, but now I know about the cat garden, it's crept up the list.

Colour CAT
January/Black - luvamystery65 - The Black Moth
February/Brown - whitewavedarling - Religio Medici, Sir Thomas Browne
March/Green - DeltaQueen50 - The Green Walk into the Trees
April/Yellow - VivienneR - The Best Bear in All the World (Winnie-the-Pooh is yellow, as is Honey, and the cover was a yellow/gold)
May/Blue - RidgewayGirl The Pie at Night (blue cover)
June/Purple - sallylou61 These Old Shades (purple clothing in first page)
July/Pink - clue
August/Grey - LittleTaiko
September/Metallic - VioletBramble
October/Orange - virginiahomeschooler
November/Red - MissWatson
December/White - Chrischi_HH

Mystery CAT
January: Nordic Mysteries hosted by sushicat
February: Female Cop/Sleuth/Detective hosted by LittleTaiko - Suffer Little Children
March: Global Mysteries hosted by VivienneR
April: Classic and Golden Age Mysteries hosted by mathgirl40 - Murder Under the Christmas Tree
May: Mysteries involving Transit hosted by rabbitprincess
June: True Crime hosted by LibraryCin
July: Police Procedurals hosted by DeltaQueen50
August: Historical Mysteries hosted by majkia
September: Noir and Hard-Boiled Mysteries hosted by RidgewayGirl
October: Espionage hosted by MissWatson
November: Cozy Mysteries hosted by virginiahomeschooler
December: Third World Mysteries hosted by LisaMorr

Random CAT
January: DeltaQueen50 - Ack! I’ve Been Hit - The Ever Dangerous Book Bullets - Life After Life
February: majkia - Laissez les bons temps rouler - Powder and Patch
March: RidgewayGirl - Ripped From the Headlines - A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
April: clue - April Loves Books! - Murder Under the Christmas Tree
May: Chrischi_HH
June: VioletBramble
July: beebeereads
August: sturlington
September: Robertgreaves
October: LittleTaiko
November: sushicat
December: LibraryCin

I intend to use this to pick Orange prize winners by author's name.
January: V, M Property, Valerie Martin
February : P, J
March: F, I
April: Y, U
May: Q, K Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver
June: G, R
July: S, A
August: O, D
September: B, E
October: N, L
November: T, H
December: C, W

Edited: Jun 29, 3:07am Top

Challenge 12 - BingoDog

Castle: Leeds Castle

Leeds Castle is not obviously a castle at first glance. I has been beautified over the ages, such that it is marketed as the loveliest castle in the world. I think it's had a bit too much work and has lost something of its age under a veneer of prettification. But that's just me. It has Norman origins and was a favourite castle of Henry VIII. It fits here as it also has an exhibition of dog collars. Yes, really.

Leeds Castle was transferred to a charitable trust by the last owner and is open as an attraction most days of the year.

1. Book that fits at least 2 KIT’s/CAT’s Powder and Patch
2. Title contains name of a famous person, real or fictional Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
3. Money in the title - any form of currency, type of payment, etc...
4. Originally in a different language The Art of Flying
5. Book bought in 2017 that hasn’t been read yet Property
6. New-to-you author Jolly Wicked, Actually
7. Autobiography/memoir Dom Casmurro
8. Book published in 2018 The Periodic Table of Feminism
9. A long-time TBR/TBR the longest Life After Life
10. Book with a beautiful cover (in your opinion) The Green Walk into the Trees
11. Poetry or plays Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid
12. LGBT central character Happiness, Like Water
13. Read a CAT (middle square)
14. Title contains a person’s rank, real or fictional The Little Prince
15. Published more than 100 years ago Religio Medici
16. Book that is humorous Eggs, Beans and Crumpets
17. Fat book - 500 plus pages Don Quixote
18. X somewhere in the title An Experiment in Love
19. Relative name in the title (aunt, niece, etc...)
20. Related to the Pacific Ocean
21. Book set during a holiday Murder Under the Christmas Tree
22. Title contains something you would see in the sky The Black Moth
23. Book on the 1001 list Frankenstein
24. Number in the title A History of Britain in 21 Women
25. Story involves travel Piccadilly Jim

Edited: Jun 29, 3:08am Top

Yearlong list
1. The Black Moth, Georgette Heyer, ****1/2
2. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, ***
3. Jolly Wicked, Actually, Tony Thorne, Non-Fiction, Audio, ****
4. Rosie Revere, Engineer, Andrea Beaty, *****
5. Like After Life, Kate Atkinson, ****
6. Property, Valerie Martin ****
7. A History of Britain in 21 Women, Jenni Murray, Non-Fiction ****
8. Piccadilly Jim, PG Wodehouse, ***
9. An Experiment in Love, Hilary Mantel, ***

10. Powder and Patch, Georgette Heyer, ***
11. A Brief Summary, In Plain Language, Of The Most Important Laws Of England Concerning Women: Together With A Few Observations Thereon, Barbara Bodichon, ***
12. Religio Medici, Sir Thomas Browne, Non-Fiction *****
13. Suffer Little Children, Peter Tremayne, ***

14. The Art of Flying, Antonio Altaribba, ****
15. The Tales of Max Carrados, Ernest Bramah, Audio, ***
16. The Green Walk into the Trees, Hugh Thomson, Non-Fiction, **
17. Eggs, Beans and Crumpets, PG Wodehouse, Audio, ***
18. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft, Non-Fiction ***

19. The Best Bear in All the World, Various, *****
20. The Periodic Table of Feminism, Marisa Bate, Non-Fiction, ***
21. Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid, Simon Armitage, ***
22. Happiness, Like Water, Chinelo Okparanta, ****
23. Lucky Button, Michael Morpurgo, ****
24. Threads of Feeling, John Styles, Non-Fiction, ****
25. The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , ****1/2
26. Lie by Moonlight, Amanda Quick, ***
27. Murder Under the Christmas Tree, Various, ****
28. Dom Casmurro, Machado de Assis, *****
29. Last Writes, Catharine Aird, Audio, ****
30. The Great Roxhythe, Georgette Heyer, ***

31. The Pie at Night, Stuart Maconie, Non-Fiction, ***
32. Simon the Coldheart, Georgette Heyer, ***
33. A Spot of Folly Ruth Rendell, Audio, ****
34. Don Quixote, Cervantes, ***
35. These Old Shades, Georgette Heyer, ***
36. Married Love and Other Stories, Tessa Hadley, ****

37. Flight Behaviour, Barbara Kingsolver, ***
38. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby, Non-Fiction, ****
39. The Convict and Other Stories, James Lee Burke, Audio, ****
40. The Man of Property, John Galsworthy, ****
41. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling, ****

Oct 12, 2017, 8:30pm Top

Excellent theme! Love those castles. We were in Wales last month and visited Castell Coch, as well as Cardiff, Caerphilly, Conwy and Caernarvon, so I am glad to see it here :)

Oct 13, 2017, 3:34am Top

>16 rabbitprincess: Thankyou. That's an impressive list of castle beginning with C. Wales does have other letters, you know >;-) I've been to all of your list with the exception of Cardiff.

Oct 13, 2017, 3:54am Top

This is a wonderful idea! Lovely pictures and many thanks for the introductions. It's great to know what Ashby de la Zouch looks like!

Oct 13, 2017, 10:55am Top

I love your castle theme and enjoyed learning about the history behind each castle! I'll be following your challenge with interest, especially the mystery and Heyer categories.

Oct 13, 2017, 12:25pm Top

I love your setup and the pictures you used of the castles. As a huge historical fiction fan, I love castles and I enjoyed your explaination as to the history of each one. Looking forward to seeing these "castles" fill up with books!

Oct 13, 2017, 12:46pm Top

Love the castle pictures - my favorite is the Belfast castle. Would love to visit it someday.

Oct 13, 2017, 12:56pm Top

Wonderful theme! The descriptions were so interesting. Although I've lived most of my life in Canada, my old home town is Belfast so I was very happy to see Belfast Castle, a popular place for wedding receptions back in my time (probably still is). I had forgotten about the cat legend. It fits so well with the CATegory.

Oct 13, 2017, 1:30pm Top

Thankyou all for the welcome.

Oct 13, 2017, 3:35pm Top

Excellent theme! I haven't been there for many years, but in my opinion Corfe Castle is the best castle in the world! (which is saying something, given that I live in Stirling!).

Oct 13, 2017, 3:44pm Top

Love your theme and photos. The Belfast one is especially gorgeous.

Oct 14, 2017, 1:39am Top

>17 Helenliz: Haha! We did intend to visit Beaumaris, but the timing didn't work out. Next trip to Wales we'll have to visit all the castles beginning with B.

Oct 14, 2017, 10:10am Top

Great setup. Luck with a year of little pressure. The best kind of reading.

Nov 12, 2017, 12:07pm Top

Castles! I love castles and the choices you made for your categories.

Nov 15, 2017, 3:51pm Top

I am so impressed with the amount of detail you put into your theme and categories - so fun, and the images are beautiful. Looking forward to following your reading journey.

Nov 17, 2017, 12:49pm Top

Your castles are so beautiful and I want to travel and visit all of them! Have a great year!

Nov 19, 2017, 3:10pm Top

Lovely theme! Thanks for the pictures and infos, very interesting. Unfortunately I haven't visited any of them (yet). Enjoy your reading!

Nov 28, 2017, 2:06pm Top

Thanks all for visiting. I'm torn between not wanting to wish time away and wanting to get started on a fresh challenge!

This month we visited 2 castles in my list, visiting Deal Castle and staying in Dover Castle. We stayed in a gate house, which was built in the 12 century, then modified in the 13th to form part of a barrier within the outer bailey. It was used in the later centuries as a prison and there was some carved graffiti from the 1750s.
But it was not primitive accommodation, with all the comforts of modern life.
Some pictures:

"Our Castle". Both sides.
The view from the roof terrace & the (unused) fireplace in the kitchen

The view from the tower entrance (compete with arrow slits) and the bathroom door.

I will admit that, in November, it was a tinsy bit cold (like really cold) but once we'd worked out the heating and got used to heating the room you were in, not the whole house, it was fine. Although the bathroom stayed cold the entire time. There was a window seat in the living room that was the window over the arch, which was fun to sit in & read. A lovely view and get the opportunity to confuse people.

Dover castle itself is excellent, an entire day to visit. I must have walked miles and walked up more steps than goodness knows what! It's been adapted and modified that many times that its hard to know what is original and what is later, but that adds to the charm. Loved it!

Nov 28, 2017, 8:20pm Top

How fun! Even if it was a bit cold, what a great way to soak up the atmosphere of the places!

Nov 29, 2017, 4:43am Top

I think I'm jealous. Even if it was cold, the views are spectacular.

Nov 29, 2017, 8:20am Top

Oh lovely castles. Since in August I'll be on a two week trip to Scotland and Ireland, hoping to see a few castles myself.

Nov 29, 2017, 5:13pm Top

Staying in a castle sounds like it would be fun, at least for a short period (and definitely with all mod cons!).

Nov 29, 2017, 6:56pm Top

What a gorgeous setting, I guess castles almost always have excellent views as they were built on high ground for defense purposes!

Nov 30, 2017, 5:06pm Top

Spectacular views! Sounds like you had a great time. :)

Dec 1, 2017, 4:25pm Top

I have got to manage a vacation with a stay in a castle - thanks for sharing yours!

Dec 2, 2017, 2:39pm Top

Staying in a castle sounds wonderful, you pictures make it even better! What a fabulous experience!

Dec 2, 2017, 3:05pm Top

It was great fun staying in a castle with modern conveniences - I'm all for things like fully equipped kitchens over an open fire and a spit! We're really lucky in the Uk to be able to stay in some of these there are a couple of options. We stayed in an English heritage holiday cottage, where the facilities are all top notch. We had a dishwasher and washing machine in the kitchen as well as the necessary cooking apparatus, fridge & microwave. Even had wifi, although mobile signal was poor unless you were on the roof - thickness of the walls, I imagine!
There is another organisation who has been renting out historic locations as holiday homes for much longer, so there is a wider choice and that's the Landmark trust. Their approach to accommodation is more stripped back, when we last stayed in one there was no TV, certainly no dishwasher. It's a style choice, and I'm afraid I prefer my creature comforts.

I've not been to any Irish castles, but I have a fair few Scottish ones ticked off the list >;-)

Dec 2, 2017, 4:11pm Top

>41 Helenliz: I have a vague feeling that friends of ours spent their wedding night at a Landmark Trust property. I can't remember which one, but it looked amazing from what I remember of them showing us the details.

Dec 2, 2017, 6:31pm Top

>41 Helenliz: After several years of travelling to the British Isles and staying in holiday lets, I've found that I can safely live without TV and a dishwasher, but I *need* laundry facilities and wifi. Or if there isn't wifi, I need to *know* this in advance and know that there's a reliable cafe with wifi nearby. It's terrible how dependent I am on the Internet :-/

Edited: Dec 10, 2017, 11:11am Top

Although Castell Caerffili is not one of your categories, I had to share with you this gorgeous photo I found on their Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/Caerphilly_Cadw/status/939399547423510528

Dec 10, 2017, 12:12pm Top

>44 rabbitprincess: that does look fabulous. Snow covers a multitude of sins. We've had about 4 inches today, most of it over night. Made driving home this morning rather interesting. Some people shouldn't be out in it, they were driving worse than my granny. It was the ringer's Christmas dinner last night, so we'd booked a hotel for the night, meaning we could both drink. Then had to drive home this morning. 30 miles took over 2 hours. And we ended up abandoning the car ~ 200 yards from home, as we simply couldn't get up the incline to our house on virgin snow. So 3 hours after we got home, there had finally been enough traffic to squish the snow down enough that we got the car and brought her home. Eventful is, I think, the word I'm looking for. You don't realise how uppy-downy roads are until traction is at a premium. We got to within a mile from home and nearly got stuck, there were a string of 8 lorries that were failing to negotiate a rise. Fortunately there was enough traffic to have cleared the second lane, so we were able to get past them.

So I've spent the afternoon with the fire on and a book and possibly the odd nap. It certainly wasn't going out weather.

Dec 10, 2017, 6:15pm Top

What a great theme and a great way to target your reading list for 2018! I love your pictures of castles and miss heading over to Europe to see them.

Your description of driving in snow sounds like snowfalls in Atlanta. Many, many hills (we are, after all, the Piedmont of the Appalachian mountains!) and we long-time residents are familiar with the idea of staying home and playing in the snow. Which we used to do until enough folks moved here from points north and laughed at how we (didn't) drive in the snow. Until they, too, drove on hilly lands and not flat lands, and since most of our snow turns to slush and then to ice . . . you see the problem!

Glad you made it home and hope you enjoyed your nap!

Dec 11, 2017, 5:33pm Top

>41 Helenliz: My sister and I are thinking about a week in England next year, so I'll have a closer look at those links later. Thanks for sharing!

Dec 14, 2017, 2:26am Top

>44 rabbitprincess: I noticed too that Caerphilly Castle was missing - Caerphilly is my favourite cheese!

Dec 21, 2017, 11:57am Top

Oh, how exciting. The husband has just ordered my Christmas present. A subscription to http://www.bookvoyage.co.uk/ 3 months to start with, then we'll renew if it's good. No pressure then... need to read them fairly soon after they arrive.

Dec 21, 2017, 12:53pm Top

>49 Helenliz: Wow, what a cool present! I always love the look of gift subscriptions to that sort of thing, but then I remember how many unread books I still have (current tally: 383) and have to resist.

My parents tried to give me a £50 kobo voucher for Christmas, but there was some problem which meant that I didn't get it, and the money wasn't taken from dad's card, but he suddenly started getting a million emails a day from them trying to sell him ebooks he doesn't want. Oops. So I've managed to sort that out and he's giving me £50 instead, specifically to buy ebooks. I'm going to be strong and not actually buy them till the 25th, but I'm very excited! Normally I try (don't always succeed) to have a £2 limit on my books, but I think I might use this to get some slightly more expensive books that I wouldn't otherwise have bought.

Jan 1, 8:55am Top

Book 1
Title: The Black Moth
Author: Georgette Heyer
Rating: ****1/2
Where from: Inherited Heyer collection
Why: Book 1 of a Heyer romances series read.
Category: Woman Author, Heyer Series read
TIOLI: January #4. The WIKI Rolling Challenge: read a book with 'w', 'i', 'k', 'i' in the title

Re-read as part of a plan to read the Heyer romances in publication order.
First time I have read this, as opposed to listened to it. It occurs to me that the identify of "The Black Moth" of the title is never actually made clear. It could be Jack, the gentleman highwayman, or it could be Tracy Andover, who always wears black and has a dastardly way with him. They have crossed paths previously, over a crooked card game and they now cross swords over a young lady. In each case they desire her, but go about it in very different ways. There's a cast of supporting family and friends to put flesh on the bones of the story. It's a good read and a good way to start the year.

Edited: Jan 2, 9:22pm Top

I only recently realized that The Black Moth was such an early book by Heyer. It's been a long time since I read it but I remember liking the story.

Jan 2, 5:10am Top

Book 2
Title: Frankenstein
Author: Mary Shelley
Rating: ***
Where from: tbr pile
Why: Christmas chunky, 200 years since publication
Category: Woman Author
TIOLI: January #2. Read a book with a gothic theme

This isn't what films and popular culture might have you expecting.
Frankenstein is the creator of the creature, he heads off to university to become a student of natural philosophy. Along the way he gets the idea of creating life into his head. He then spends (if I read this right) approaching 2 years putting together the creature is his attic. How is not made clear. The scale of the creature as well as the time to construct makes it unlikely that it was made up of dead body parts. The creature was also made larger than life size, in order to make construction easier. Then the manner in which life is introduced is not described either, at this point or anywhere in the text. The scientist in me wants to know HOW he did it, but that is never made clear.
The book itself has a multiple layer constructions, with the story being framed by letters from an English sea captain to his sister. He finds Frankenstein and listens to his story, the central portion of this is the tale told by the creature to Frankenstein. It's possibly not entirely successful, as it all has essentially the same voice, the different sections aren't identifiable different. There's little to distinguish between Frankenstein and his creature in tone, language etc. But maybe that's the point.
As for the creature himself, I remain unconvinced he is entirely the villain of the piece. As life is initiated, Frankenstein turns tail and runs away, thus abandoning his creation. The creature has to learn how to fend for himself and how to interact with humanity. He suffers from his appearance and the betrayal of the creature by Frankenstein colours the rest of the tale. It might have gone very different had the creature not been repulsed at every turn. He says he was not made for evil, that misery made him so. The nature versus nurture debate here seems to come down on the side of nurture being the more powerful force, the creature's inherent lack of evil is overcome by his bad treatment.
This wasn't a difficult read, but neither is it what you're necessarily expecting. It also doesn't end neatly, you are left wondering what happens next.

Jan 2, 1:21pm Top

>53 Helenliz: A very thoughtful review, Helen. I'll add my thumb if you posted that tot he review page. I read it years ago, and I agree that it is not what one is expecting based on all the movies, tv shows and images we have been exposed to over the years. I remember liking it but wanting more - it would interesting to revisit it and see if it holds up for me.

Jan 2, 3:07pm Top

>54 Crazymamie: thank you. It is posted to the book page. It's the first time I have read it, and it is already dated, if that makes sense, so it isn't as if it would date more. I saw a documentary on Mary Shelley and how she came to write it, which went into her upbringing and the philosophical ideas of the time. It was very interesting and well timed, being on at the beginning of December. I watched it again last night as I was approaching the end of the book.

Jan 2, 9:57pm Top

>53 Helenliz: I remember reading Frankenstein years ago and being totally surprised that Frankenstein wasn't the "monster." I will be re-reading it for the shared read because it's been so long since I've read it, and we've had English classes reading it this year.

Jan 3, 10:04am Top

>53 Helenliz: Nice review! And I agree with you that the villain isn't the creature; it's Victor Frankenstein!

Edited: Jan 3, 10:37am Top

>53 Helenliz: - Very nice review. Coincidentally, the theater where I work just started rehearsals yesterday for a production of Frankenstein. The tagline for the show is "Who is the real monster?. When we did the meet & greet yesterday for the show the director was explaining how this version starts with the creation of the creature and then explores the impact of that creation. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.

Jan 3, 11:26am Top

Thanks all! Occasionally I manage a lucid thought. :-)
>58 LittleTaiko: that production sounds really interesting. Do let us know what you think of it when it comes to life.

Edited: Jan 9, 3:59pm Top

Book 3
Title: Jolly Wicked, Actually
Author: Tony Thorne
Rating: ****
Where from: library
Why: non-fiction, audiobook
Category: Non-Fiction
TIOLI: January #16. Read a book with at least a two-word title, but containing no prepositions

I listened to this in the car and it was perfect in that environment. It contains a sample of 100 words that, the author proposes, in some way define the English. For each word he provides a short narrative, lasting from a few minutes to 10 to 15 . This can include the derivation of the word, how it presents in other languages, how it is used and how that usage has evolved. It is quite fun hearing some words and they strike a chord. Some I was less convinced by, I'm not a "yoof" and I don't speak the youth dialect, meaning that some of these words I had never come across. It doesn't take itself too seriously and is not snobby about the words chosen.

Book 4
Title: Rosie Revere, Engineer
Author: Andrea Beaty
Rating: *****
Where from: Mabel's bookshelf
Why: Bedime story, I was told that was what I was reading!
Category: Woman Author
TIOLI: January #5. Read a book that you did not select (eg gift, subscription, book club choice)

This was fun. I was staying with friends and their 6 year old wanted me to read her bedtime story and had selected this. As a scientist, I entirely approved of the content. Rosie Revere is a young girl with an inventive mind, only she suffers a lack of confidence when her first invention is laughed at. She plucks up courage to make another when Great-Great aunt Rose arrives and tells her all sorts of stories. From the images and Rosie's own description, Great Great aunt Rose is supposed to be Rosie the Riveter from the WW2 poster "We can do it!".

Inspired by the stories, Rosie decided to make her great great aunt's wish come true, only the machine, again, fails. However, as is pointed out, in order to have crashed, it did first have to succeed, just not for long enough. All in rhyme, this is clearly designed to read aloud. The illustrations are detailed and technical and really very good, there is lots to look at in here. This is an excellent book for the child engineer, no matter who they may be.

Jan 18, 2:06am Top

Book 5
Title: Life After Life
Author: Kate Atkinson
Rating: ****
Where from: My shelves
Why: finally picked it up as a book bullet for RandomCAT.
Category: Woman Author, RandomCAT, Orange Prize (shortlisted in 2013)
TIOLI: January #9. Read a book that contains more than one beginning

This is a really neat idea, what if you could live your life over, what would you change? If you could try over and over until you got it right, what would your life look like. And that is the heart of this book. Ursula is born in 1911 and dies at birth on a snowy night. She is born again and this time the cord around her neck is cut, and she lives. And so it goes on. At times you get multiple versions of events, in order for Ursula to get through that event safely. It is a really neat surmise. Where it is let down is that I am not sure that the author ever really defines what Ursula was going round and round her lives, trying to get right. Her happiness has to feature in there somewhere, or is it someone else that she is more interested in saving. Hard to tell. Such that when the book ends there is no sense that this last life is the one she wanted to lead.
It is inventive, and the writing is good. I'm just not sure that the ending lived up to the rest of the book.

Jan 18, 12:07pm Top

>61 Helenliz: I tried to listen to this book and gave up halfway through.

Jan 18, 3:39pm Top

>62 mamzel: I think I can understand that. I'm not sure how well it would lend itself to being listened to.
I tended to get to a death and stop reading each night, so I began anew each time with her.

Jan 21, 2:09pm Top

>61 Helenliz: - I came away with the same impressions for the Atkinson book. Good and inventive but the ending seemed a bit off.

Edited: Jan 23, 11:27am Top

Book 6
Title: Property
Author: Valerie Martin
Rating: ****
Where from: Bought
Why: Orange prize book, satisfying both AlphaKIT letters
Category: Woman Author, AlphaKIT, History, Orange Prize (winner in 2003)
TIOLI: January #6. Read a book you acquired in December 2017, but NOT as a gift

I am uncertain as to what the author intends you to feel about the characters in this book. It is narrated by the wife of a plantation owner, Manon Gaudet. She is clearly not happy in her life or here marriage, comparing her husband unfavourably to both a friend she'd like to have married and her father, who she perceives as having been perfect. IN fact neither man turns out to have been what she imagines they are, and her husband does something quite unexpected that should cause her to revise her opinion - but doesn't. She's too set in her opinions readily change her views. She is also unable to imagine that anyone else can suffer and that the system she is part of is in any way wrong or damaging to the people it makes use of. So at one level you have sympathy for her, but at another she has no sympathy for the slaves on the plantation and that makes her seem unsympathetic.
The tale revolves around Manon and her house slave, Sarah. Manon imagines that she and Sarah share a bond in that they both have cause to hate her husband, as he has had two children on Sarah (one assumes not willingly, based on his other behaviour). But that manages to overlook the fact that Sarah is not free and Manon is unable to see that.
It is a well written book, eye opening, set at a really interesting place. Subject matter is not easy to read and every now and then there is something that brings you up sharp. An excellent book.

Jan 23, 11:53am Top

>60 Helenliz:
I like the idea of the Rosie book, especially for girls.

Jan 26, 1:18am Top

>67 mamzel: Thanks for posting that, I hadn't seen it.

Jan 26, 7:21am Top

Ohhh, how exciting, my first Book Voyage monthly box has arrived. Spain. I have The Art of Flying 2 packets of ColaCao (a hot chocolate mixture) and a tin of lemon stuffed olives. There's a postcard that explains a little about each item and the book is a nice hard back edition. I think I'm going to need to rearrange the book shelves to make sure these all sit next to each other.

Never read a graphic novel, so this will be a new experience for me.

Jan 26, 7:25am Top

>69 Helenliz: Most exciting, Helen! Such a fun idea. Hoping your Friday is full of fabulous!

Edited: Jan 26, 7:57am Top

I'm not sure why traveling has such glamour attached to it; in my experience traveling for work always falls short of the idea people have of it. I flew to Germany Monday night, had 3 long days in meetings and back Thursday night. Arrived home 1 am Friday morning, so allowed myself a lie in, but did make it up for a telecon at 10 am! The hotel, apparently, had a spa, pool, gym etc. No idea, didn't see it. And flying is such a palava. All that having to get half undressed to go through security, queue here, move there, queue here, get herded on a bit further. Dull and tedious and terribly tiring when all you're doing is sitting. It does give a chance to do some reading though, and I finished >65 Helenliz:, as well as this and made significant progress on Piccadilly Jim during this trip. Whinge over.

Book 7
Title: A History of Britain in 21 women
Author: Jenni Murray
Rating: ****
Where from: My shelves
Why: short chapters, making it ideal for interrupted reading, as when travelling.
Category: Woman Author, History, Non-fiction
TIOLI: January #1. Read a book having a title which includes an animal with exactly three letters in its name (subtitle is a personal selection making ape)

This is a great idea. Jenni Murray takes 21 women who have shaped Britain and who have, in some way, inspired her in her life and gives a short biography of their life, what they achieved and sometimes an explanation of their impact on her life or why she picked them. Some of the people selected are certainly inspiring. It is clearly a personal selection, and that's where I feel it is weakened. The selection includes a range of pioneers in various areas, scientist, doctor, nurse, artist, composer, fashion designer, a couple of rulers, & mathematicians and 4 authors. The balance of the book is 5 politicians and 2 suffragettes/suffragists, which seems to throw the book out of balance. I accept that Jenni is a journalist and has always been a more political animal than I ever will be, but it did weight the book very heavily.

For me, the selection reduced the rating, as it was the weighting towards women in the one area that reduced, to me, its power. Each short chapter is very good on their own, it is the way the whole works together that I felt didn't work entirely for me.

Jan 26, 8:41am Top

>69 Helenliz: What a neat subscription box. I've wanted to do one for a long time, but most of the ones I've seen are young adult books only.

Jan 26, 11:46am Top

>70 Crazymamie: well that was pretty fabulous. Arriving home at 1 am, after having flown home from a work trip to Germany was a little less fabulous. Left Monday evening, back Thursday night. Travel involves lots of tedium and sitting, yet is so very tiring.

>72 virginiahomeschooler: I was terribly stuck for a Christmas present idea when someone suggested a subscription box. Perfect, multiple presents in one. There are a number of subscription services I found that are not YA, but I was concentrating on UK sites. There were options for classics as well a options to pick a number of genre to receive books from. I liked this one as they send a book from a foreign country, plus a drink and snack from the same country. They also commit not to send you the same country twice, until you've read the entire world! It will broaden my reading, if nothing else!!

Jan 26, 12:36pm Top

>73 Helenliz: SO true about traveling.

That is so cool about the options. I can't wait to see what you get next.

Jan 26, 1:57pm Top

>69 Helenliz: - What a wonderful box of goodies! Lemon stuffed olives... those sound good, I love olives. ;-)

I agree with your comments regarding business travel, or travel at all if one has to spend time worrying about connections, schedules, etc.

Jan 28, 11:31am Top

Book 8
Title: Piccadilly Jim
Author: P.G. Wodehouse
Rating: ***
Where from: My shelves
Why: lightweight, making it ideal for interrupted reading, as when travelling.
Category: Miscellaneous
TIOLI: January #11. Read a book that has been (or is going to be) adapted for film or television

A fun outing this one. Jim Crocker is a bit of a lad about town, which is fine until his name is linked with that of his aunt Nesta and she takes umbrage about it. She's convinced that Jim is a wastrel and that his life should be turned around by working for his living, preferably in her husband's firm. Jim doesn't necessarily agree with the plan, but he ends up falling in line when he falls for Nesta's husband's niece, Ann. Unfortunately, Ann has had a run in with Jim before, when he was working as a journalist and wrote a piece after an interview in which he scorned her poems and she has been set against him ever since, on principle. Somewhere mixed in all this is a boxer, a plan to kidnap a spoilt brat, baseball and two determined sisters who have married men who might be able to exert themselves in the office, but who wilt when faced with their wives. It's light-hearted and, unlike the Bertie Wooster books, at least has someone wanting to marry (unlike Bertie's aims to not be married). Enjoyable light writing, not entirely believable and relying on co-incidence, but you can forgive that when they're this much fun.

As this is set in London, New York & has a chapter on a boat in between the two, I am going to count this for the travel Bingo square.

Edited: Jan 28, 11:41am Top

Nice review, Helen. I have that one in the stacks somewhere.

*back to add that I gave your review my thumb

Jan 29, 12:52pm Top

>76 Helenliz: I enjoyed this one too -- "a fun outing" describes it perfectly!

Edited: Jan 31, 9:48am Top

Book 9
Title: An Experiment in Love
Author: Hilary Mantel
Rating: ***
Where from: Library on CD
Why: Audio book in the car
Category: Women authors,
TIOLI: January #6: Read a book you acquired in December 2017, but NOT as a gift

This was probably not the ideal way to read this book. I listened to it in the car, but it took most of a month, so there were significant gaps in the listening.
It's told in retrospect, with the adult Carmel returning to her first term at University and how she arrived at that place. She traces her friendship with Corinna & Julianne through primary school, through the 11 plus and into the selective girl's grammar. There is a vividly depicted youth in straightened circumstances, and how she deals with her parents and their deteriorating relationship as she grows further from them.
The other important relationship is that with Corinna. This is longstanding and not healthy. They are thrown together and expected to be friends as they live close and are going through the same 11 plus experience. However they are not natural friends. It becomes a form of habit, they've been classed as friends for so long that they can't make the break.
At university, she tries to take control of her life, as those around her do the same, to varying degrees. And with varying degrees of success.
At one stage, Carmel herself says that this is a book about appetite and desire. I think is is about desire for control, and being in control of appetite is one way of appearing to exert control over your life. In Carmel's case this takes a particular form, for her friends it takes different forms and has different effects.
The finale is startling and unexpected.
I felt that the characters were well drawn, and the background entirely believable. The angst of young love and life were vivid and clear. I would have wanted to know how Carmel went on after the events in the book, but it ends quite abruptly after the climax. Good book, I just spread it out too much.

Jan 31, 9:32am Top

>75 lkernagh: I've not started them yet, I imagine the tin will vanish in double quick time. I like olives as well - as long as someone else has taken the stones out.

>77 Crazymamie: do, it's good! And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

>78 christina_reads: Glad you enjoyed it too. I do like to know when someone else has had a similar reaction to a book as I did. >:-)

Edited: Feb 6, 3:49am Top

Book 10
Title: Powder and Patch
Author: Georgette Heyer
Rating: ***
Where from: my shelves
Why: Heyer read in order
Category: Women authors, Heyer read. RandomCAT
TIOLI: February #14. Read a book by an author you also read last February

This is Heyer's second novel, and I think it shows her as not yet being the fully formed artist she becomes.
Phillip is a country bred man; plain and with few airs and graces. Near him lives Cleone, who is the love of his life. All is well until a man from town arrives and with his polished ways shows Phillip up. He leaves to get a polish in Paris, having been sent away by both his father & Cleone, working in sympathy.
Polish duly acquired - and this is the middle section of the book, he arrives back in London shortly after Cleone has been taken there for the season. At this, there is much talking at cross purposes, both trying to conceal feelings behind a mask of society airs, flirting, and generally getting in a pickle when a good, honest conversation would have sorted the thing out in 5 minutes.
The principles themselves are a tad annoying. Especially Phillips continual slipping into French, mine wasn't up to most of this, I was continually guessing what was said based on what happened before and after, and filling in the gap. The older generation are the better drawn characters. Phillip's father & uncle & Cleone's aunt are the sensible heads in this romance.
It was good, but not great.

I'm claiming this for RandomCAT this month and as it has P in the title, I get to fill the Bingo square "fits 2 CAT/KITs"

Edited: Feb 6, 9:45pm Top

>81 Helenliz: I think I left the list of last February's authors on my desk at work. I know one of the options is Louise Penny. Reading her would be a good chance to actually get caught up on the series before the next installment comes out in August (or whenever). However, there was one other author I was considering. I guess I need to look at that list!

Feb 7, 1:51am Top

>82 thornton37814: Fortunately at some point in early 2013 I stared added date finished to my books. So for me, finding what I read last year was a fairly simple sort of my books. Otherwise I'd have had to resort to finding last February's wiki & going through that to find those I'd entered.

Edited: Feb 7, 5:36pm Top

>82 thornton37814: & >83 Helenliz: I love that challenge. I just looked up my Category Challenge thread for February last year to find out which author would fit. I was so happy that I had read one of the Fiona Griffiths mysteries and could do so again!

Feb 8, 6:03pm Top

>83 Helenliz: I'd gone through my list with the completion dates from last year's thread. Jenn McKinlay was the other one I was thinking of--and my hold on her Sugar and Iced came in so that's probably the one I'll read from last February's author lineup.

Feb 15, 9:54am Top

OK, which nutter thought that she'd get through Don Quixote in the shortest month of the year? Yup, that was me. No way. I'm at page 191 of 750 and it's taken 3 weeks. Ho hum. Having a break (again) and reading something else for a bit. Is that the reading equivalent of biting off more than you can chew?

Feb 15, 1:18pm Top

>86 Helenliz: 191 pages is a great start! But I completely understand the need to take a break and read something a little lighter/shorter.

Feb 15, 4:19pm Top

>87 christina_reads: What she said.

I always pair those heftier tomes with something lighter. Remember, it's supposed to be enjoyable.

Edited: Feb 16, 3:59am Top

>87 christina_reads:, >88 Crazymamie: I usually leave the really b i g books for a holiday. Only this is supposed to be a shared read. I'm sure I'll finish it eventually.

In the meantime:
Book 11:
Title: A Brief Summary, In Plain Language, Of The Most Important Laws Of England Concerning Women: Together With A Few Observations Thereon
Author:Barbara Bodichon
Rating: ***
Where from: online
Why: Reading materials as part of an online learning
Category: Women authors, Non-fiction
TIOLI: February #3: Read A Book of which the title contains something that you love (Language)

Well! If you ever want to feel that we are making progress in the cause of equality, read this. Published in 1856 it is a short but cutting assessment of the rights of a women in English law at the time. Basically none once you marry, some (but only limited) either side of that. Several "whaaaat?!" moments. I had to read the first few pages as part of a course I've signed up for online, Beyond the Ballot, marking the 100 years since some women gained the vote. I decided to read the rest of the thing, seeing it was only 12 pages. We have made progress, at least I am no longer bound to hand over all my earnings to my husband (good!, I earn more than him and he'd only spend it). But I can't help thinking that Barbara would think we still have some way to go... and we do.

Feb 16, 11:17am Top

>86 Helenliz: - Congrats on getting through so many pages already. I'm sure you'll wrap it up in the next few months with no problem.

Edited: Feb 18, 4:38pm Top

Maybe you meant that the book should be started in February?
I managed to get through about half several years ago and haven't been able to get myself back into it.
Mine had this cover:

Feb 23, 8:31am Top

My next book box arrived today, Nigeria. *does a happy dance*
*ignores the fact she hasn't read the last book yet*

Contains Happiness like water, a packet of Hibiscus tea and a packet of Cinnamon Chin Chins. Apparently they are a snack that is crisp like a biscuit but tastes like cake. That sounds right up my street! Also intrigued by the hibiscus tea.

Feb 23, 10:20am Top

>92 Helenliz: - What a great box! I'm going to have to see about doing something like this as a gift for my mother-in-law.

Feb 23, 10:31am Top

>92 Helenliz: What a great box of goodies. The chin chins sound delicious.

Feb 23, 10:43am Top

>93 LittleTaiko: Mine came from here: http://www.bookvoyage.co.uk/ , if that is any help.
>94 virginiahomeschooler: I know, I'm holding off diving right in!

Feb 23, 12:55pm Top

>92 Helenliz: That looks so lovely, but I just know that if I signed up for something like that I would most likely look but not read. It's how my TBR pile has got so out of hand!

Feb 23, 12:58pm Top

>95 Helenliz: - Thanks! I've made note of it as a potential Christmas gift.

>96 Jackie_K: - I can completely relate. I used to have a book of the month subscription - I still have most of them unread so finally cancelled it.

Feb 23, 1:32pm Top

Bookvoyage seems great! They charge an extra £10 to ship to the US, but... *tempted*

Feb 24, 2:52pm Top

>92 Helenliz: What a treat! Hibiscus tea is delicious!

Feb 24, 2:56pm Top

Book 12:
Title: Religio Medici
Author:Sir Thomas Browne
Rating: *****
Where from: library
Why: Intrigued, it's the book that Peter Wimsey carries in his pocket.
Category: Non-fiction
TIOLI: February #5. Read A book that is referenced in another book you have read

Wow. I went into this book not knowing at all what to expect. The musings of a middle ages doctor on the nature of religion is probably not typical of my reading. But it's a book I intend to find a copy of and can see myself reading it again. It's not an easy read, the language is dated, the sentence structure is extremely unfamiliar to the modern reader. It is not a structured philosophy, it's more stream of consciousness, moving from one topic to another based on where the previous thought hand ended up, it's not a proof of something, nor a rebuttal, it is simply his thoughts and ideas written down.
He's writing this in the 1630s (date unknown, it was never intended for publication, although he had it published in 1660 after a number of unauthorised and incomplete copies had been published) and he is a creature of his time. In another 100 years we'd be in the middle of the enlightenment and thought would sound far more modern, back another 100 years and you're in the middle ages and another world. He is living on the cusp, when there is so much change in thought about nature, religion, science and the place of mankind, and that is reflected in his writings. As times he sounds entirely from the middle ages:
"Thus it is impossible, by any solid or demonstrative reasons, to persuade a man to believe the conversion of the Needle to the North; though this be positive and true, and easily credible, upon a single experiment unto sense." He doesn't have the knowledge that the earth's core is magnetic and the compass points to the magnetic pole. That was first postulated at the beginning of the century, but he's not convinced, as the proof isn't easy to see. Similarly, he doubts the heliocentric solar system "Some have held that Snow is black, that the earth moves, that the Soul is Air, Fire and Water; but all this is Philosophy:" It's a denying of scientific theory that has behind it a religious sensibility and an apparent contradiction - he's prepared to believe in a God without any proof, but not a scientific theory.
At other times he is startlingly contemporary. Ignoring the language, tell me this isn't a thought from the modern era, "... we vainly accuse the fury of guns, and the new inventions of death:- it is in the power of every hand to destroy us, and we are beholden unto every one we meet, he doth not kill us."
This is something entirely outside my usual reading experience, but I'm very glad I read it. This is one man I want to meet, I want to meet the owner of the brain that produced such a wide ranging set of thoughts. At times he is frustrating, at times he is dated, but he is more than that. He is open to ideas, he is open to learning, and he thinks himself unknowing yet pities those who have no learning (the thought behind this sentence could have been written by me: I cannot contemn a man for ignorance, but behold him with as much pity as I do Lazarus.). He wants to explore the world that he believes has been created by God. This is a man from a vastly different time, yet I sense a meeting of minds.

Feb 24, 3:02pm Top

>100 Helenliz: Thumbs up for an excellent review! Interesting that Peter Wimsey carries it around in his pocket. I'll have to re-read a Wimsey to spot that detail :)

Feb 24, 3:22pm Top

>101 rabbitprincess: Gaudy Night, it's the book Harriet reads when Peter falls asleep when he takes her punting. If it is good enough for my first literary crush, it has to be worth a read.

Feb 24, 5:21pm Top

Happy Saturday, Helen! I love seeing what you get in your book box. The hibiscus tea I have tried was really delicious.

>100 Helenliz: You should post this review - there is only one other review on the book page. If you do, I will add my thumb.

Here's hoping that the rest of your weekend is full of fabulous!

Feb 25, 2:17am Top

>103 Crazymamie: Me too. It's the perfect christmas present, I get multiple presents, the contents of which are completely unknown. Not often I'm surprised by the contents of a present these days. Good to know the hibiscus tea is worth looking forward to.

Review posted here: https://www.librarything.com/work/89633/book/147327230 I think the touchstone goes to a different book. Nope, no idea how that works.

Sunday dawns cold (for us very cold) and crisp.

Feb 25, 8:43am Top

Thanks for that, Helen - I added my thumb.

It is 8:40am here, and it is already 66F. Going to 81F today.

Feb 25, 9:29am Top

>105 Crazymamie: hmmm. I've just come in from doing some gardening, as it is a rare dry and clear day and the tree needs a haircut before spring decides to make an appearance. I was wearing a tshirt, 3 jumpers and a fleece. I also had my fur hat on, which is not usual gardening attire. It was about 2C. That's not very warm. Not jealous, not jealous at all...

Feb 25, 9:42am Top

*quietly leaves Helen some bunny slippers*

Feb 28, 3:50am Top

Book 13:
Title: Suffer Little Children
Author: Peter Tremayne
Rating: ***
Where from: my shelves
Why: Mystery CAT
Category: Mystery, History
TIOLI: February #4. Read A book about, set in, or published in the 60s. Any century, past or future (665)

I've read all of these before, this is a gradual run through the series again. I'm not sure that I feel the same about them now as I did. The setting remains intriguing, 7th Century Ireland being a very different place. But I did find myself getting somewhat irritated at Fidelma. In this book her usual sidekick, Eadulf, is missing and I'm not sure that it works as well without him. She is a woman of status, sister to the king, highly educated, and a nun. It's a mixture that makes her quite exceptional and she uses it blithely, it's a little bit arrogant and I found it a bit irritating.
The mystery is complicated enough, and is muddled by more than one thread of motive by different parties. It is quite unpleasant at times, with children being murdered. I'm not sure it works as well now as it did when I read them initially, but that is probably me.

Edited: Mar 22, 5:53pm Top

Book 14:
Title: The Art of Flying
Author: Antonio Altaribba
Rating: ****
Where from: BookVoyage box 1: Spain.
Why: guilt trip from the husband as to why I'd not yet read my book!
Category: Miscellaneous
TIOLI: March Challenge #10. Read a book that isn't a "book" (Graphic novel)

This is the first time I've read a graphic novel. I'd never have picked it up at all if it hadn't been from my monthly book box. With there being few words on each page, it is quite quick to read, however I found that I had to slow myself down to read the pictures as well as the words. It's quite a different way of reading and it took a little getting used to, but it did add a different dimension to a conventional book.
Having said that about the way it is presented, the book itself. It is an exploration of his father's suicide at 90, by exploring his father's life, he hopes to come to terms with the specific instance. However, it is more than that, this is a story of Spain, through the civil war and how the aftermath lives on for decades.
It is told in a very honest style, at times brutally so. The suicide is flagged in the first few pages, so you spend the remainder of the book exploring how he arrives at his ending. Meaning that it's not really a book I can say I enjoyed. It was worth reading though, which is different but as important. The lesson I would take form this is that in a world where people re-invent themselves, we can't ever outrun our past.

Edited: Mar 22, 5:54pm Top

Book 15:
Title: The Tales of Max Carrados
Author: Ernest Bramah
Rating: ***
Where from: Audio
Why: short stories work better for my reduced commute. And Stephen Fry narrating
Category: Mystery
TIOLI: March Challenge #5: Read a book where the title includes at least two different words beginning with the same letter

This is a set of 11 short stories that feature the detective capability of Max Carrados. He's a slightly murkey figure who clearly grew up in some degree of poverty, although we never really find out much about that. He is also blind, as the story never fails to remind us many many times. Individually, each story is quite interesting, particularly with the lack of eyesight posing what might be considered a hindrance. However it gets very repetitive, we are reminded that he is blind several times in each story. These seem to rage in date from the early 1900s to the middle of WW1, with at least one of them being clearly set at particular dates (start of WW1 and the Irish uprising, being but two). They are somewhat of their time, don't expect much enlightenment here. At times he resorts to tidying things up with a sit down and explain it all later, which always strikes me as a lazy way to resolve a mystery. All in all, they are an interesting set, but are best read with intervals between them - don't binge read this lot.

Mar 14, 10:05am Top

>110 Helenliz: hello, Helen! I started listening to those a few years ago because Stephen Fry, but ended up abandoning them for the reasons stated in your review. you are so right that they would work better with breaks in between the stories.

Hoping your Wednesday is full of fabulous!

Mar 14, 1:23pm Top

>111 Crazymamie: I listened to the first 3 quite quickly, but the rest were at a rate of 1 or two a week, which was better. Too many and they got very same-y.

Wednesday, aside from work, is mostly plotting a day out on Saturday >:-)

Edited: Mar 22, 5:54pm Top

Book 16:
Title: The Green Road into the Trees
Author: Hugh Thomson
Rating: **
Where from: Library
Why: fits this month's colour Cat
Category: Non-Fiction, ColourCAT
TIOLI: March Challenge #11. Read a book with something that grows from (or under) the ground in the title

In theory this should have been right up my street, or, indeed, right up my country footpath. And bits of it were delightful. However, all too often the delightful was subsumed under a mass of prejudice, stereotyping, name dropping and self pity that made this a lot less enjoyable than it should have been.
After returning from a trip to Peru, he has a fit of wanderlust and sets out to travel across England following the Ickneild way, an ancient route that crosses England diagonally from the Dorset coast to the Wash. There are some fascinating sights along this route, some of them he explores, some of them he uses a s jumping off point for some irrelevant rant. His conversations with people he meets are a mixture of unrelated and repetitive but mostly just plain grumpy.
This should have been a lovely book, a hymn to the English countryside and its history. At it's best it is all of these things, but it is dragged down by the unnecessary side shows. I cannot recommend it, but note it does have a beautiful cover.

This is the cover I'm claiming as beautiful for the Bingo square

Mar 23, 6:57am Top

It's that time of the month again, BookVoyage book box arrived today. Brazil!
*dances samba*
*puts her hip out & has to stop*

A book, coffee (well what else was it going to be?) and a sachet of brazil nut & cacoa nib butter. Which I'm assuming will be the same principle as peanut butter, but different input ingredients.

We'll ignore the fact that I've not yet got around to reading February's book... shhh, don't tell.

Mar 23, 8:53am Top

What's the book??

Mar 23, 8:56am Top

That's not very clear, is it. It is Dom Casmurro by Machado de Assis.
I like the parrot >:-)

Mar 23, 9:11am Top

I thought it must be, but I wasn't sure, there's so much white on the cover. I hope it is enjoyable when you get round to it. It figures somewhere deep down on the must-read-sometime list...

Edited: Mar 23, 10:37am Top

Hi Helen!

First time visitor, and between Bagpuss and Georgette Heyer, I'm definitely in!

I read The Great Roxhythe in 2010 and liked it. It's not a romance, per se, but very well done anyway.

Edited: Mar 23, 12:23pm Top

>118 karenmarie: welcome in! It's a mixed bag in here, that's for sure. And I may have my challenge theme for next year - childhood TV classics. I could merrily waste hours on youtube for that one!

Mar 23, 12:35pm Top

>116 Helenliz:
That one's next on my to-buy list! Hope it's good, for your sake and mine! :)

Mar 23, 3:26pm Top

Happy Friday, Helen! Lovely book box! Sadly, I am allergic to Brazil nuts, which is too bad because I love chocolate covered ones. But coffee! Yes. Your samba dance and hip displacement made me laugh - that is probably exactly what would happen if I attempted the samba. Points for getting into the spirit of things, though.

Hoping your weekend is full of fabulous!

Mar 23, 3:40pm Top

>120 -Eva-:: based on current rate of progress, I'll be reading it in May! I've not heard of the author or title, so good to know that it's on your list to get - raises the hopes of it being something good.

>121 Crazymamie:: I have two left feet and less co-ordination, so me and dancing never goes very well! I'm not a massive fan of nuts whole (it's a texture thing) but happily eat peanut butter, so I'm hoping this will be OK. Coffee, yum. It's not decaf, so I'll limit that to small doses only.
Weekend involves a day in the big city, I've got tickets to the RA exhibition. And seeing I'm making the effort to get there, may as well make the most of it. >:-) There's an exhibition on Victorian portrait photographs at the NPG which has also caught my eye. And there is some truth in the saying that when a person is tired of London they are tired of life. There is always something interesting to see. Trying to see it without 17 squillion people looking over your shoulder or treading on your toes is the challenge...

Edited: Mar 23, 4:38pm Top

>122 Helenliz:
It's considered to be the epitome of Brazilian realist writing, so it should be good! Should. :)

Mar 23, 6:02pm Top

Yay, book boxes! Enjoy :)

Mar 26, 8:51am Top

>114 Helenliz: I love seeing what you get in your book box each month. Such a neat little assortment of goodies.

Mar 26, 3:36pm Top

>123 -Eva-:, >124 rabbitprincess:, >125 virginiahomeschooler: glad to be the bringer of pleasure, even if it is vicarious! >:-) I intend to get round to some of them as soon as I've finished my current read.

I note it's my thingaversary at the end of the month. I've been very good and not bought any number of books recently (although I did succumb to a catalogue of the exhibition at the RA I went to last weekend). I could probably put together a list of books that vastly outnumbers the number of years I've been here. hmmm, decisions, decisions...

Mar 27, 4:39pm Top

>114 Helenliz: Your BookVoyage box always looks so tempting! Enjoy!

Mar 27, 4:45pm Top

*sits down to await the Thingaversary book list*

Mar 28, 2:48pm Top

You lot are a bad influence.

This is my book acquisition in the last week. I'm claiming the 2 exhibition catalogues as not books, but souvenirs. So they don't count. (fingers crossed that works as an argument!)

Today I had a day off to go to the Winnie-the-Pooh exhibition at the V&A. It was simply magical. Full of lots of the original drawings by EH Shepard, so you could see the evolution of the drawings as they were refined and then converted to a pen drawing for the books, from the original pencil. They are even better in the original pencil, having more depth and texture than the printed images.
I came away with the catalogue and a book of 4 new stories. It introduces a new toy, a penguin. I have a small thing for penguins, so I approve entirely.
So book 1 is The Best Bear in All the World.

Books 2 to 6 I blame Charlotte for, aided and abetted by Mamie. If I hadn't read their threads, I'd not have heard of Brazen or Bad Girls. And in looking for them, I'd not have found the other books. So there, not my fault. >;-) The two with a science slant are because that's my background, I have a degree & PhD in chemistry, not that I ever use it anymore, but I still have an interest in that direction.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies
Bad Girls
Forgotten Women: The Scientists
Bygone Badass Broads
The Periodic Table of Feminism

Mar 28, 4:07pm Top

NICE! I heartily approve your haul. And I am thrilled to be charged with aiding and abetting Charlotte.

I have a thing for Pooh, so I am completely jealous of your attending the exhibition - how very cool!

Mar 28, 4:11pm Top

>129 Helenliz: Oh that is a fabulous haul!

Mar 28, 4:28pm Top

>130 Crazymamie: Thank you. My credit card is a little less happy with the sate of affairs! The exhibition was quite marvelous. It ends next week and tickets were going fast. I was too slow to get tickets for each of the last two weekends when I was visiting the capital, so I am very very pleased that the husband persuaded me to have a day off and go. It was just fabulous and so very well done. As the poster says, it was for children from 2 to 102.

Edited: Mar 28, 4:32pm Top

odd double post thing, ignore me.

Mar 29, 1:23pm Top

>131 Jackie_K: Thanks Jackie, I'm looking forward to getting to them, even though there is no way I need that many extra books to read. (sorry, LT was playing silly sods last night).

Mar 29, 1:40pm Top

Book 17:
Title: Eggs, Beans & Crumpets
Author: PG Wodehouse
Rating: ***
Where from: Library
Why: Audiobook
Category: Miscellaneous
TIOLI: March Challenge #4: Pangram rolling challenge: "How vexingly quick daft zebras jump!"

Listened to this in the car, a series of short stories. They feature Bingo Little, who is a Drones Club colleague of Bertie Wooster, but these aren't Jeeves & Wooster stories. They are narrated by an unnamed fellow member of the club. To be honest, I thought these the weakest of the lot. The Mr Mulliner story was good (I like the way the listeners in the pub are identified by their drinks, not by mane), as were the 3 Ukridge stories. These last 3 were probably the most successful, in terms of story and the narrrator, they seemed to mesh well together. It's the usual story, not enough money and loosing the girl features heavily. Nothing to get too serious about, they're lighthearted fun.

Mar 29, 2:19pm Top

I love Thingaversaries - such a perfect excuse to buy books! You have acquired a very nice selection and Bygone Badass Broads has somehow found it's way onto my wishlist. ;)

Mar 29, 3:32pm Top

>136 DeltaQueen50: It was just the excuse I needed >:-)
I was caught at the title of Bygone Badass Broads, if I'm honest. I like the idea of knowing more about a wider range of characters, rather than the usual suspects.

Apr 1, 6:05am Top

Book 18:
Title: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Author: Mary Wollstonecraft
Rating: ***
Where from: Library
Why: Non-Fiction
Category: Woman writer, Non-fiction
TIOLI: March Challenge #3. Rolling challenge: Read a book with a plural noun in the title, going up in alphabetical order

I'm torn on this one. One the one had, this is the founding document of feminism, of which I am a modern day beneficiary. On the other hand, I found a lot that I could not relate to.
It's a single volume of what was intended to be a 3 volume treatise, this isn't a fully finished article. It also has the feel of having been written swiftly, it doesn't follow an entirely logical sequence, and it repeats itself more than once. On the other hand, this gives it an impression of being written with feeling (which is ironic, when reading the view on emotions expressed in this).
What I didn't relate to:
The reasons for wanting to educate women is so that they can use reason to supplant emotions.
Passion is a sign of weakness.
Women should be equal so that they can gain merit in heaven for their souls
An educated women makes for a better mother to her children
That marriage & motherhood should be a woman's ideal.

There's a lot in there that I found impossible to relate to. It seems to me that she wants to make women into female men. The trouble with that being that she then wants to assign women to a set role in life, that of wife and mother. I can't see that suppressing emotion to reason is ever a good idea, it strikes me as a recipe for mental health issues. Life is a balance between head and heart, not the suppression of one to the other. And to argue that passion is not worth the same as reason is to ignore the impact that emotion can have on a life. It also strikes me that her life is not an example of practicing what she preaches. Her attempt to commit suicide after Imlay deserted her and her marriage to Godwin suggest, to me, that she would, herself, be unable to meet her own expectations. It strikes me as an argument that only works in the abstract.
The call on religion is, clearly, of its time and is something that makes a lot of this hard to take seriously. I also note that she fails to take issue with the attribution of God as male, which is something I find unpalatable.
The limitation of the women's role to the sphere of wife and mother is somewhat inexplicable. Mary Wollstencraft would seem to be an example of a woman who wanted a life outside that sphere, as she didn't fit that role herself. It seems an odd contrast again.

On the other hand, there is a lot of ambition in this. She wants equal opportunities for education of both sexes, in fact going as far as to propose primary schools on a national basis. There is the call for women to be represented in parliament (along with the point that the franchise is still very small at this time, and that the majority of the poor are also disenfranchised). There's the wish to change the law to allow women to have civil rights, to be able to hold their own property and have control of their own income.

The other oddity in this was that this is directed purely to middle class women. It's not intended as a broad rallying cry for women. I'm not sure I can understand the logic of this.

It's difficult to rate books from a different era, their starting point is so different from where we are now. I wanted to love this, to find it as a rallying cry that I could take up. It didn't work out like that, there was a lot of good, but there was too much that I found hard to get behind.

Apr 1, 8:33am Top

>138 Helenliz: Thumbs up for a thorough and thoughtful review!

Apr 2, 4:01am Top

>139 rabbitprincess: thank you. I sometimes worry that I waffle on far too much! And now for something completely different:

Book 19:
Title: The Best Bear in All the World
Author: various
Rating: *****
Where from: Winnie-the-Pooh exposition at the V&A I went to last week
Why: Why on earth not!
Category: Flights of Fancy
TIOLI: April Challenge #6. Read a book whose LT average rating is more than 4.0

This is a lovely trip back to childhood. In honour of Winnie-the-Pooh being 90, there were 4 new stories written by 4 authors and illustrated in the style of EH Shepherd. It works surprisingly well. One story, set in each season. There is a new character introduced in the winter story, a penguin, and it works really well (I approve of penguins in principle).

If one were being highly critical, the colour illustrations are not the same as the original line drawings, but they do use the same water colour wash approach as Shepherd used in the 70s, so they are certainly not a great departure.

It's not the same as the originals, but it's a lovely revisiting.

I was going to ration myself to a story a night, well that went out the window. I finished 3 in bed last night, even reading bits out to the husband (who did say he might read it himself!). It's a emotional rating, not a rational one, just for change. This is as much about how it made me feel, that reminder of being read to and discovering reading as a child as for any merit the book had.

Apr 2, 7:11am Top

Book 20:
Title: The Periodic Table of Feminism
Author: Marisa Bate
Rating: ***
Where from: Recent Purchase
Why: Non-Fiction
Category: Women Author, Non-Fiction, History
TIOLI: April Challenge #1. Read a book with at least three pages starting with the same word, but NOT the word “the”

This is an interesting surmise, use an approach akin to the periodic table to group and sort a subject into related areas, showing kinship and relationships by their organisation. Unfortunately, the selection process seemed to leave something to be desired.
Each woman or group is given a page biography and works of significance. Clearly it is impossible to be comprehensive in that space, but I felt each entry did give a flavour of the person. And there were some really interesting women who I had not heard of or knew little about. So in that sense this works.

Any work selecting those who have made contributions to feminism will leave people out, and I appreciate that this is the nature of the work. However while the first wave was global in scope, there was then a big gap between the 20s and the 60s, which was the second wave. I can't believe that there was nothing of moment happening in that gap. The third wave was heavily US-centric and the 4th wave seemed, to me, to be heavily topical. It's difficult to discuss legacy when the events discussed are in the last 5 to 10 years.
So, it was a good idea, and well executed in parts, but left something to be desired.

Apr 2, 7:35am Top

Hello, Helen! I love your thoughtful review of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - thumb from me if you posted that. I had very similar thoughts on it when I started, but as I went along I thought that perhaps she was slanting her argument so that it would be more receptive - harder for men to argue when she is addressing what would make a woman an even better wife and mother. She was in a hurry when she wrote it, as she was responding to Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord's presentation of his "Rapport sur l'instruction publique" to the National Assembly in France (in 1791). She meant to go back and edit and add to it, but she died before she could do that.

And hooray for Pooh! How delightful that you loved the book and that it was so well done.

Apr 3, 4:51am Top

>142 Crazymamie: Review posted. I appreciate all of that, but I think I was still expecting to find something in this that spoke to the heart, and in that, I felt it was lacking. That was probably an unreasonable expectation on my part, as 200+ years later, things have changed and the basis of the argument has changed.

Hurrah for Pooh! Indeed.

Apr 4, 4:03am Top

Book 21:
Title: Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid
Author: Simon Armitage
Rating: ***
Where from: My Shelves
Why: it was short
Category: Miscellaneous
TIOLI: April Challenge #3. Read a book with the word "fish" or a species of fish in the title

A collection of poetry that I found to be a mixed bunch. Some of them I really fell for, others left me wondering what was going on. I think I prefer the longer form poetry of Armitage's translations. They give you something to get into the swing of.

Apr 4, 10:25am Top

Helen, it's Wednesday.

Okay. I love why you read that last one - gave me a giggle.

Apr 5, 3:45am Top

Book 22:
Title: Happiness, like Water
Author: Chinelo Okparanta
Rating: ****
Where from: Book Box
Why: because I've had it over a month...
Category: Women authors
TIOLI: April Challenge #11. Read a book which contains a word in the title that can be found in a garden

This is a series of short stories, usually told from the perspective of the child, be that a young child or an adult child. They are all vividly set up. Sometimes I found myself being uncertain of the narrators gender until some point later in the story. They are all told in a vivid and lively manner, with much detail to provide colour and life.

My only reservation is how often domestic abuse features. In a number of the stories, the wife is being abused by the husband, be that physically or emotionally. I can't know if that is the writer's experience, or if it is a reflection of Nigerian society. Either way, I found it troubling.

Which I read at the same time as eating my cinnamon chin chins and drinking hibiscus tea.
The Hibiscus tea was sent as just a packet of hibiscus flowers. I can see why the various recipes for hibiscus tea combined the flowers with some fruit juice. On its own it was quite earthy and a little bit too bitter. The second mug I made I added a splash of lemon juice and a dash of honey. That worked quite well. I still have quite a lot of the hibiscus flowers, so may well do some more experimenting. It was a gorgeous red colour.
The cinnamon chin chins were fab. They are crunchy without being brittle and the cinnamon was just right, not too overpowering. I happily polished off the packet. They come in a variety of flavours - I might just be hooked!

Apr 5, 3:45am Top

>145 Crazymamie: Thanks for that. By process of deduction, I surmise it to be Thursday.

Apr 5, 9:11am Top

Well, I guess that frees up my day then since you don't need me to stand here with the placard labeled Thursday above my head...

I love that you immersed yourself in the book box experiment! The hibiscus blend I have has raspberry in it, and it's lovely.

Apr 5, 10:16am Top

Book 23:
Title: Lucky Button
Author: Michael Morpurgo
Rating: ****
Where from: Recent purchase
Why: Visited the Foundling Museum last month & the illustrations were on display.
Category: Flights of fancy
TIOLI: April Challenge #13. Read a book that fits the "You Keep Missing the Target" challenge

The idea behind this is excellent, I'm just a fraction worried that the execution could lead to unrealistic expectations.

I picked this up after a visit to the Foundling Hospital Museum in London, the original site where Thomas Coram set up a hospital for the poor and abandoned children of the city. It attracted a great deal of high brow support and holds things like Handel's will after he gifted the rights to The Messiah to the Hospital. If you are ever in the vicinity, it is well worth the time to visit. One of the most evocative items are the tokens that a mother would leave with the child. On entry, the children lost their original names and record of their parents, in order to have a clean start. If she were ever in a position to return and reclaim the infant, she could describe the token, or produce her half of the token and match it to the child's. These range from scraps of cloth to punched pennies, to buttons, like that included here. After a while, the London site became too crowded and dirty, and a new hospital and school was built on the outskirts of London. In the middle of the 20th Century, the buildings were transferred to a the county and became a conventional school.

In this book, Jonah is a student at the school. He is a loner, as he is also a carer for his mother, after she had an accident on a bicycle, involving a lorry. Since then, she has been largely confined to a wheelchair and suffers from what we infer as depression. Jonah struggles at school with bullies due to his shyness and not being able to partake in outside school activities. After a nasty bullying incident, he ends up in the school chapel, where he finds a button on the floor and, as a result, meets the ghost of a former foundling boy who relates his life story. It is not all a happy ending, but it is eventful and he explains how he comes to haunt the chapel. Part of his tale is about the button that Jonah picked up, that was his mother's token. In the end, Nat gives the button to Jonah and vanishes.
Its the last few pages that I take issue with. Jonah gets home and his mother's depression seems to have lifted, she has started playing the piano again and she is clearly in a much happier place. That strikes me as setting a very high expectation on anyone with depression that they can simply do something and lift themselves out of it.which is a shame, as I think this covers some bog and important issues. Child carers often feel isolated, as they cannot partake fully in school life. They may even be bullied for being different in that way. All of which should be talked about in this age group. It is very good, and would work well as a story for those who are struggling, there is hope of life, even if it doesn't turn out like the fairy tales. But that almost fairy tale ending undermines it, for me.

Apr 5, 12:24pm Top

Book 24:
Title: Threads of Feeling
Author: John Styles
Rating: ****
Where from: Recent purchase
Why: Visited the Foundling Museum last month.
Category: History
TIOLI: April Challenge #5. Read a book whose title references a physical action a human can perform

This little book is full of scraps of fabric, ribbons, embroidery and other textile tokens that were left in the mid 18th century at the London Foundling Hospital. They were intended such that the mother could identify the child if she was ever in a position to reclaim it at a later date. very few did, the figures are heart rending. Only one of the fabric samples shown in this book was where the mother had reclaimed the child. The survey is relatively brief, but thorough and systematic. It discusses cloth types, their usages and why certain types of fabric predominate in the collection. These are not, in fact, the very cheapest materials, but those of printed coloured cottons linens and similar. Then it discusses ribbons (including how to sex a baby by the ribbons on its hat, has nothing to do with colour), embroidery and the portions of baby clothes that were left as tokens. It is very interesting and manages to walk a fine line between being sentimental and academically dry.

Apr 5, 5:12pm Top

Book 25:
Title: The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Rating: ****1/2
Where from: My shelves
Why: because I'm aiming for as many books as I can before I got back to work on Monday, so that means they need to be short.
Category: Flights of Fancy
TIOLI: April Challenge #12. Read a book in the library of a TIOLI challenger from January, February, or March 2018 (SqueakyChu)

How do you review this? I have no idea what to make of it. Is if a children's book? Is it a children's book aimed at nostalgic adults? Is it an allegory of the horrors mankind has created? I really don't know.
What is it about? A prince from a small asteroid planet with 3 volcanoes that come up to his knees, and need their chimney's sweeping falls to earth. He meets a pilot who has crashed in the desert and they start to talk. It's all a bit odd - and moved me to tears and I really couldn't actually tell you why.
I think the prince is something of lost childhood, innocence or implicit trust or faith in the unknown, something that we lose as we grow up. We can't own the stars, but we can see in them something to inspire us. It might not the the tinkling of laughter, but it should move the soul. Like this does.

Apr 9, 10:34am Top

I don't know, how am I supposed to post a review when LT is down! harumph! >;-)

Book 26:
Title: Lie by Moonlight
Author: Amanda Quick
Rating: ***
Where from: Our shelves
Why: It was light and frivolous and ideal for reading in the bath
Category: Women Author, Romance
TIOLI: April Challenge #2. Read a book where something you could find in the sky is part of the title

This was picked up as I didn't fancy reading the heavy weight Don Quixote in the bath after a day in the garden.

Set in the Victorian era, this is a romance with a political overtone. Concordia Glade is a lady with an unconventional upbringing who no makes her living as a teacher. She has some unconventional ideas as well, particularly those relating to the role of women. Under her wing she has taken the 4 girls she has been employed to teach and who, she believes, are being prepared to be sold as high-class courtesans. At this idea, however, she rebels and we first come across the lady on a dark set of stairs with her charges, having recently set explosives to provide a distraction.
At this point she runs into (almost literally) Ambrose Wells. He is an investigator on the trail of answers, and Concordia has got in the way. He takes charge, or thinks he does, and they set off to safety and then to rescue the girls and find the answers.
At one level, this is all just too neat and the answers come too easily. ON the other hand, I like that Concordia and Ambrose arrive at this as equals, both into the relationship and their pasts.
It's not great art, but for relaxing with in the bath, you don't want high art.

Apr 12, 9:52pm Top

>151 Helenliz: - Every time I re-read The Little Prince I fall in love with the story and gain new insights. Such a great book!

Apr 12, 10:41pm Top

>151 Helenliz: This is a lovely review that reminds me I really should read this book! I honestly have no excuses, as I have copies in both English and French in my house that my daughters had read a long time ago.

Apr 13, 1:10am Top

>153 lkernagh: that was the first time I'd read it, but I can see why people revisit it. I can't imagine it ever gets old.
>154 mathgirl40: Happy to help. >:-)

Apr 13, 9:26am Top

Happy Friday, Helen! Here's hoping your weekend is full of fabulous!

Apr 13, 2:04pm Top

Thanks Mamie, a weekend of shopping (wedding present shopping) and lounging around doing very little loom in front of me.
And maybe a smidgeon of reading here & there >:-)

Edited: Apr 14, 4:36pm Top

Stopping by to say hello! I love your book box, looks really tempting with the book, the snacks and something to drink. :)

Apr 15, 7:46am Top

>158 Chrischi_HH: Hi Christiane. I am loving the book box too. I like the immersive experience, as well as the complete surprise as to what the contents will be.
Half way through Brazil's book as well, so the husband is going to continue the subscription for me >:-)

Apr 27, 9:13am Top

A work trip to Germany involving lots of sitting in planes, airports and the like sees a couple of finishes to report.

Book 27:
Title: Murder Under the Christmas Tree
Author: various
Rating: ****1/2
Where from: My shelves
Why: because short stories work well for travelling.
Category: Mysteries
TIOLI: April Challenge #14. Read a book by an author who was born, or died, in April

A pretty good read (if unseasonable for April). A series of short stories, mostly from golden age writers that feature a mystery set at Christmas. Some of them I have read previously, others were new to me. Collections can sometimes feel uneven, but this didn't have any real stinkers, all thee stories were interesting enough in themselves. A good collection.

Book 28:
Title: Dom Casmurro
Author: Machado de Assis
Rating: *****
Where from: My shelves
Why: BookVoyage box
Category: Flights of Fancy
TIOLI: April Challenge #15. Read a book where the beginning of the title is following the musical scale, a rolling challenge

Well that was good! This is why I like the idea of the book gift box, this is something I doubt I'd have picked up for myself, but I really enjoyed it. Narrated by the titular character, Dom Casmurro is a nickname, it means something along the lines of Lord Aloof, in that he holds himself apart from the rest of the world. He tells the story of his life, his great love for the girl next door, Capitu, and how he believes that she has betrayed him. Told entirely from one side, there is no answer to his belief in her adultery with his best friend. And, seen as an impartial reader, there is no evidence presented either, is is all extremely flimsy and circumstantial. This is in contrast to his being trained as a lawyer, he never seems to weigh the evidence he believes he has, nor does he give anyone else a fair hearing. As an unreliable narrator, you learn what he wants you to learn, and anything else is not presented. As to motive and the real facts of the situation, I will leave that one to you to determine for yourself. I think this would make a realy good book for a discussion group, with different opinions on the true events.
As to the characters he includes in his story, they are all in the shade of the love of Bento's life, Capitu. She is many things and different characters in the story react to her differently. She is, regardless of the actual facts, a great leading lady.
Although written at the turn of the 20th century in Brazil, this does not necessarily evoke a particular time and place. What feels very contemporary is the way the story centers entirely on Bento's emotional response to the world around him. He is also breaking the forth wall by talking directly to the reader in a way that feels far more modern a device.

With the book from Brazil came ground coffee. A lighter roast than I usually have, but good. I also had a sachet of nut butter with cocoa nibs. That was completely delicious. Tasted a lot like Nutella, but without the overly sweet aftertaste. A grown up version, if you like. I had it thinly spread on toast and really enjoyed my taste of Brazil.

Apr 27, 1:30pm Top

>160 Helenliz:
This is excellent news about Dom Casmurro since I want to read it too! Skimming your review for now, but what I'm seeing, I'm liking!

Apr 28, 8:15am Top

>161 -Eva-: It was really very good, I hope you enjoy it too. I did try and review without too many spoilers, but it's quite hard at times! The edition I read has an interesting introduction by the translator that was also well worth reading.

May 1, 4:18pm Top

Book 29:
Title: Last Writes
Author: Catherine Aird
Rating: ****
Where from: Library
Why: Audio
Category: Women authors, Mysteries
TIOLI: April Challenge #4. Read a book that brings up the right title but the wrong touchstone

This is a collection of short stories, some of which are very short. They are set in different locations and times, which caught me by surprise first time there was a switch. The time frames are in generally: the Black Isle in the time of Mary, Queen of Scots, in just pre- WW2 in a fictional home counties locale and the same location at an undisclosed time, probably 60s, to 80s, but I remain unsure. As each setting features at least 1 common character, this isn't as confusing as all that. They are not all mysteries, as such,some are puzzles, others are more psychological studies.
The stories range from the simple to the complex and some have a twist that I'd not always seen coming. Those I enjoyed best where the unhappy wife on holiday, the divorced wife and those featuring Henry Fyle and his sister Wendy. Henry works in the Foreign Office in late 30s London and the story generally starts when asks Wendy if he can some and stay for a few days. Wendy is delightful and has a brain concealed under her staid housewifely exterior and she plays an integral part in unraveling the puzzle that Henry and the brains of the Foreign office have struggled with. I liked the way that in these it was something apparently simple that was the key each time, but that something was outside Henry's experience, hence his need for his sister.
As with any collection, some are stronger than others, but those I liked least were outweighed by those that I enjoyed.
Not a writer I'd come across before, but one that I would consider reading more of, although I need another series of detective fiction like a hole in the head!

May 1, 4:32pm Top

Book 30:
Title: The Great Roxhythe
Author: Georgette Heyer
Rating: ***
Where from: Bought specially
Why: Heyer series read
Category: Women authors, Heyer Read.
TIOLI: April Challenge #16. Read a book to remove it from your bookshelves

This is somewhat out of the usual for Heyer, and I'm note sure I enjoyed it particularly. Roxhythe is a member of the aristocracy and a close favourite of Charles II. Set after the restoration, it is evident that Roxhythe accompanied Charles during his exile and struggle to regain the crown and has since devoted himself to Charles. At the crux of the book, we discover that he is also prepared to put Charles' interests and wished above those of his country. The counter to this is Roxhythe's new secretary, a young man named Christoper Dart. He is of puritan stock, and his loyalty will be to country over person, as is evident by his removing himself from Roxhythe's service after he discovers he has been duped into some intrigue that he cannot approve of.
The relationships at the heart of this are devotion between men and how that can blight or make your life experience. In the end, this does not end happily, but I can't say that I was disappointed to have got to the end of it. As an experiment, I'm not sure it worked for me.

As a note on the choice of TIOLI category, I will find a photo, but it's a rotten printing. The rest of my Heyer collection came from Mum's shelves and are a 70s set of Pans. All the same size, they all fit neatly on one shelf of the bookcase. This one was clearly a copy of an earlier edition and it must be getting on for 50% taller. It also has a facsimile cover which is badly pixilated and poorly reproduced at the larger size. This book will be leaving the house for all those reasons - it offends the eye!

May 2, 3:55am Top

A quick summary on how this is going, a third of the way through the year.

Completed: 30 books.
Well that's more than anticipated. That's on track for 90 in the year, which is more than I'd have anticipated at the start of the year.

Category 1: Women Authors: 15/30
So that's an equal balance of female authors to those at are authored, or part authored, by men. That's a good balance and one I'd want to try and maintain for the remainder of the year.

Category 2: Mysteries: 4 completed
I thought I read a lot of mysteries. Maybe I used to, but it's not been my go-to genre on evidence to date. Half of those read have been listened to as short stories in the car.

Category 3: Classics: 1 completed
This was never going to be a high number of books. I have a second on the go (still) so steady progress is the best I can say about this one.

Category 4: History: 5 completed
A mix of fiction and non-fiction in here. I'm quite pleased this isn't higher. My non-fiction reading had tended to history and I did want to broaden that. Good progress on this one.

Category 5: Non-Fiction: 8 completed
I wanted to aim for 1 non-fiction per month, so 8 is a staggering over-achievement! I'm not sure I will maintain this over the remainder of the year, target remains at one per month, meaning that I should end up with 16 in this category.

Category 6: Romance: 1 completed
Another anticipated low scorer is proving to be the case. Nothing to worry about here.

Category 7: Heyer series read: 3 completed
3 finished in 4 months is reasonable rate of progress. Just to carry on.

Category 8: Orange Prize: 2 completed
I wanted to read 6 in the year, so one every other month is working out well. I do have 3 on loan form the library that I need to get too sooner or later...

Category 9: Flights of Fancy: 3 completed
This was always a bit vague. No sign, as yet, of a Harry Potter re-read, instead this category has tended to capture reads based in childhood. Nothing of note or to change here.

Category 10: Miscellaneous: 5 completed
Mildly surprised that there are 5 in here at all. These are the books that don't fit anywhere else. This is the one that I should be looking at to revise categories for next year.

Category 11: CATs
Colourcat: 4/4
Randomcat: 4/4
A mixed bag here. Colourcat and randomcat are both going well. I will try and keep these up. I intended to use alphacat to select Orange prize winner by name, and that's not worked as well as it might. I have 3 on the shelf still to read that have been selected this way.

Category 12: Bingo: 19 completed
That's better progress than I'd anticipated. Although I can see a few of those remaining causing me a problem. Aim to complete.

In summary, going OK so far in the year. >:-)

May 2, 2:31pm Top

>165 Helenliz: Impressive stats there!

May 2, 5:56pm Top

>165 Helenliz: I'm also contemplating a Harry Potter reread later this year...let me know if you want to team up!

May 2, 7:08pm Top

Excellent work on surpassing your non-fiction goal! I've been finding that a lot of my "books of the month" have been non-fiction. I consider it Jackie_K's influence ;)

May 3, 1:06am Top

>166 Jackie_K: Not compared to some! I'm pleased I've got something in each category, at least.

>167 christina_reads: I could be tempted... We have all 7, and I've still not read the last one. Although we went to a quiz last night and one of the quiz sheets was last lines of books, including the last line of HP&the deathly Hallows. So I know the ending now! It would be fun to read along. Give me a shout when you' know when and how quickly you want to go through them.

>168 rabbitprincess: It is surprising really. And yes, that is a very dangerous thread, lots of lovely selections. Fortunately, so far she's not hit me with one I have to go and acquire immediately quite yet!

May 3, 5:00am Top

>168 rabbitprincess: >169 Helenliz: Haha, my nefarious plot to turn LT nerdy is starting to work, albeit slowly :D

May 3, 1:54pm Top

>170 Jackie_K: I don't usually need help in the nerd stakes! I like learning stuff, it's good to keep the brain active and maybe one of the reasons we won a quiz last night. Not smug, not smug at all!

May 3, 3:05pm Top

>171 Helenliz: *high five*

May 3, 4:04pm Top

>169 Helenliz: I was thinking about doing one book per month in the back half of the year (July-December), although I guess I'd have to do two books in one month. Luckily, the first couple are short! But I'm by no means married to that idea.

Edited: May 9, 3:40pm Top

We had a long weekend away for the bank holiday, and so much reading was done. We didn't turn the TV on once, and I survived with no wifi. We had fabulous weather and I did a load of walking, which makes for a very nice change. Managed to catch the sun, despite having sun tan lotion in the car - I just didn't think to apply it on Saturday. Tons of moisturiser and sun tan lotion for the next few days means that I've not yet peeled! Lovely weekend.

Book 31:
Title: The Pie at Night
Author: Stuart Maconie
Rating: ***
Where from: My shelves
Why: non-fiction
Category: Non-fiction
TIOLI: May Challenge #13. Read a book related to the day in May you start or finish it (world Laughter Day)

I'm a fan of Stuart Maconie, I bought a DAB radio when he moved to 6 Music. But in this one, he's not at his best. He's a self proclaimed northerner and this book is described as a companion piece to his earlier book, Pies and Prejudice: In search of the North. In that book he searches the country for where the North begins (Crewe, apparently), whereas in this he looks for what the people of the North do to have fun.
I like the way he throws himself into the different activities, getting involved and getting close to the people attending, not just showing up at the top of the table clashes, but those at the grass roots level. He spends time talking to the people and understanding their passions. That he does really well.
All well and good. But it falls a little flat, for me, in that I'm not sure I see many of the occupations as, now, being distinctively northern. There was also a bit of an anti southern chip that seemed more evident in this book than I have noticed previously. Not enough to make it unenjoyable, but enough to take the edge off.

Edited: May 9, 4:06pm Top

Book 32:
Title: Simon the Coldheart
Author: Georgette Heyer
Rating: ***
Where from: My shelves
Why: Heyer series read
Category:Woman authors, Heyer Series read
TIOLI: May Challenge #7: Read a book where part of the author's name begins with G

I had the feeling that I have read this before, but, if so, it must have been a very long time ago. This is not set in the usual Heyer Regency, this is set in the time of the start of the wars of the Roses, in early 1400s. Starting with Simon, an unacknowledged bastard son of Lord Malvallet, turning up at the castle of Malvallet's foe, Fulk of Montlice. He gets himself taken on as a page, and then worms his way into Fulk's affections. Simon is quickly the ideal knight, strong, stern, brave, commanding and, apparently, completely without heart. But the lie is given to that by his affection for children, and the number of his pages that he seems to employ. Simon is presented in contrast with his half brother, Geoffrey, and Fulk's son, Alan. The three, between them, are the different faces of manhood, soldier, courtier and poet. They form a quite attractive contrast and are well penned.
There's a lot goes on in here, lots of battles, sieges, attacks, plots and strategies (successful and not). It is all quite breathless, there's barely a chance to take stock and find your balance. The romance is a long time coming and is contrasted with the romance between Simon's half brother and Margaret's maid, the courtier and the soldier going about this is quite different ways.
This is a book Heyer wanted to suppress as being not up to her later standards. It's not as elegant as later books, the romance isn't as subtle or engaging as in later books. It's far too bent on Margaret giving into Simon's will than it is a meeting of minds. Later books manage this a lot better.
Having said all that, I enjoyed it. A less good Heyer is still better than a lot of what's out there. Not one I'd suggest to start with, but it's not that it should be avoided.

Edited: May 10, 3:52pm Top

While away at the weekend, I too the opportunity to do some exploring and visited an iron age fort, Blackbury Camp. There is little visible now except for some earthworks. It's nothing like as large as Maiden Castle, but has similarities, in that it is on a rise in the ground and protected by double banks. It has since become wooded and is very peaceful. I seem to have visited at exactly the right time of year, as it is also a bluebell wood. The sign at the entrance saying "bluebells growing, please keep to the paths" severely underplayed it, the entire inner of the fort was covered in bluebells. The colour is amazing and I don't know why it never comes out in a photo the way it does in real life. It is far more like looking at a blue carpet, almost with purple hints, than the photo shows. They were also English bluebells, as the smell was delicious.
Picture of bluebell floor

Arty one of bluebells framed against the sky.

May 10, 3:54pm Top

>173 christina_reads: that sounds do-able. I will try and join in, assuming I ever finish Don Quixote!

May 10, 4:18pm Top

>176 Helenliz: We did a couple of 'bluebell' walks too over the weekend (we have a bluebell wood about a mile from our house which we went to on Sunday, and then on Monday for the bank holiday we went to Inchmahome island which is also covered in them). My photos don't do them justice either.

May 11, 4:39am Top

>178 Jackie_K: it's such a shame that the image never quite reflects the beauty of the reality. I'm never sure if that is down to me being a poor photographer, my camera being somewhat old and basic, or something else.

I wouldn't know where my nearest bluebell wood was. Must go and find that out.

May 12, 1:46pm Top

I've read a few books that talk about bluebell woods so it is nice to see your pictures and get an idea of what a bluebell wood looks like.

May 12, 3:49pm Top

>180 DeltaQueen50: happy to help. They look more impressive in real life than the picture, it's a very special, short lived, experience.

May 16, 5:16pm Top

Something odd happening with trying to save a review.

Book 33:
Title: A Spot of Folly
Author: Ruth Rendell
Rating: ****
Where from: Library
Why: Audio
Category:Woman authors, Mysteries
TIOLI: May Challenge #6. Read a book with an egg or a bird on the cover

This is an assortment of short stories. They range in length, with the shortest being barely a paragraph - and none the less effective for that. 3 are ghost stories, all contain an element of mystery or suspense. A number gave the impression of being a sketch for a longer novel, the last one, in particular, could be taken in any number of novellistic directions. Most of the stories contain some relationship that is not as it appears, or has been badly misinterpretted on one side or another. There are also unexpected twists in a number of them that turn the judgements and assumptions of the preceeding story on their heads.
This was read by a cast, which at first had me worried. It turned out to be that different stories were narrated by different voices, which actually worked very effectively.
I've not read much Rendell before, but this was quite good going.

May 16, 5:22pm Top

>182 Helenliz: LT had a little blackout a while ago.

Edited: May 17, 1:25am Top

I was adding a book when LT went down briefly. When it came back again the same title had been added twice. Better than eating a review.

May 17, 2:49am Top

I saw the down time, it came back up and I tried posting the review. Got a "failed to connect to database" (or similar) response when I viewed the review in "My Books". After typing it in again, I copied it, then tried to submit it (so at least I didn't loose the text) and it did the same thing again. But when I went into the review from the book page, it showed not yet reviewed, but the text was there. So I copied it in here on the grounds that at least I'd then know it was safe! Figured I may as well sort it out in the morning.

May 20, 9:51am Top

>182 Helenliz: Nice to see this review. I've read novels by Rendell before but not her short stories, as far as I can recall. I've been reading more short-story collections lately, so I'll keep this one in mind.

May 25, 10:32am Top

Helen, my mystery stats are probably a little off for the year too. I think they will pick back up. I've just been participating in lots of other challenges which have broadened my reading. That's not a bad thing. Mystery is still a go-to genre for me. I just don't read quite as "exclusively" in the genre (for fiction) as I once did.

May 26, 5:42pm Top

>187 thornton37814: Lori, I think that, for me, I'm not into any particular series or author at the moment. Last year I read all of Dorothy L Sayers books, in publication order, so that's immediately 1 mystery a month. I've not got that incentive this year. I used to read a number of mystery series, buying them hen they came out in paperback, but those series are either no longer being written, or I have lost the love for them. So while I still enjoy a good mystery, it's not actually featured as highly in my reading as I'd imagined it did. My impression and the data are not adding up.
Not to worry though, it was never to hit targets.

May 26, 6:06pm Top

Book 34:
Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miguel de Cervantes
Rating: ***
Where from: My shelves
Why: It was a group read (in February)
TIOLI: May Challenge #14. Read a book where one word gives a Scrabble score of more than 2.5 points per letter

This is a difficult one to review. Partly that is as it just took me too long to get through it. 4 months reading the same book just means that all I felt on finishing it was relief that I'd made it to the end. However, after having let it stew for a bit, I have come to the conclusion that I'm glad I have read this, and that I enjoyed it, even if that was dulled by the sheer length of the book.
Don Quixote is one of those books that is the source of a number of phrases and sayings that are in use, and yet, until now, I'd never read the source from which they spring. Tilting at windmills is a pointless, slightly absurd, exercise, and so is Don Quixote when he attacks the windmills, thinking them to be giants. That is one of a very great number of instances when he appears to disadvantage, not seeing the world as it is, but insisting on seeing it as he imagines it should be. In the first part of the book, the tone is very much that he is mad and that he is to be laughed at. However, as the book progresses and the other characters in the books start to have fun at Don Quixote's expense (the Duke & Duchess being the most obvious examples) then I felt that he was maybe not to be laughed at. He has a sort of nobility of purpose, even if that purpose is the result of something apparently deranged. That purity of heart, if misguided, makes him seem an innocent and the way he is put through make believe trials shifts the reader's sympathies towards him. This shift is also reflected in Sancho Panca's attitude to his master. He seems to start in the same position as us, Don Quixote is mad and a figure of fun, yet by the second book, he is no longer entirely sure what is truth and what is made up. He becomes a faithful squire, supporting his master (for the most part) in all his strange adventures.
At times I felt that I was maybe missing out on some background, or could have done with a more heavily annotated edition, in order to understand the background to Spain at this time and the literature of the knight errant that has influenced Don Quixote to set out on his quest. While I was relieved to reach the end, I felt it didn't really do the Don justice.
I'm glad I have read this, I just wish I could have got through it a little bit more quickly, such that it felt less like a chore.

May 27, 5:22pm Top

>188 Helenliz: I know what you mean. I'm having difficulty connecting with the new cozy authors. They seem to be written with a younger audience in mind, leaving those of us who are baby boomers out of the equation. It's partially in the style of writing and partially in the verbiage. I still enjoy historical mysteries and some of the police procedurals. I'm also reading some of the "Scandi crime" genre. I discovered a few older authors I missed out on reading whose work I enjoy and look forward to reading those until I run out of them.

Edited: Jun 2, 5:36am Top

Book 35:
Title: These Old Shades
Author: Georgette Heyer
Rating: ***
Where from: My shelves
Why: Heyer Series read
Category: Woman authors, Heyer series
TIOLI: May Challenge #7. Read a book where part of the author's name begins with G

Let's get the difficult bit out the way first. There is something a tad distasteful in the relationship at the heart of this book. The two protagonists are 19 and 40, which may not be totally unheard of, but still leaves a mildly unpleasant taste in the mouth. He has a disreputable past and is notorious, she is masquerading as a boy and is bought for a gold coin. See, I said it didn't sit very well. He starts out by using her to his own ends, she is so grateful that she worships him (for no very good reason, that I could see). It all feel a bit uncomfortable.
Avon at least has the grace to evolve through the story, with his growing feelings for Leonie coming as much as a surprise to him as they are to his family and friends. He manages to carry the change off with some grace and humility, which is refreshing and unexpected. He manages to achieve his aim of revenge as well as carrying off a well born bride, which was not part of the original plan. His heroine, however was a tad annoying. The french interjections and occasionally poor english are a bit too put on to feel real. What she gets wrong in english is often less complex than what he gets right. She wants to dress as a boy, even after having to learn to be a girl, which I can kind of understand, but then relies on people to come and rescue her. It's all very well wanting to be self reliant, but you do have to then be self reliant. I also found the hero worship just far too much to take.
If you can put that to one side, and remove modern morality from a tale set in the past, when this would have seemed a lot less unusual, then it's not too bad.

Book 36:
Title: Married Love and Other Stories
Author: Tessa Hadley
Rating: ****
Where from: Library
Why: Audio
Category: Woman authors
TIOLI: May Challenge #11. Read a book you acquired on or after January 25, 2018

This is a set of stories about relationships. Not necessarily a very cheerful or optimistic set of stories, but each one does find something to say about the nature of relationships. They feature young love, old love, loss and parting with a clear eyed lack of romanticism. In one sense nothing much happens in any of these stories, yet each of them tells us something fundamental about relations with other people. It wasn't exactly a fun book to listen to, but there was something deep in each small tale told.

Jun 2, 5:38am Top

>190 thornton37814: I've never really seen the appeal of the cosy mystery. I like the historical, and have a plan to work am work my way (slowly) through some of the golden age authors (and maybe push that a little later).

Edited: Jun 3, 1:31pm Top

After missing a month, between the subscription ending and us getting around to starting a new one, it's book box time again. This month we are going to la belle France.

The book is The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, the drink is 3 sachets of coffee and the chocolate is a slab of Cote D'Or dark chocolate. The latter only just survived long enough to have its photo taken!

I read the prologue and it looks like I'll be jumping right into this one. I know there was some controversy when it came out as to how much he had actually dictated and how much was made up, so it will be an interesting read from that perspective. Also a potentially timely one. Mother in Law has been in hospital for the last month, terminal cancer, which, I suppose, we could view as a side effect of living longer than our bodies were intended for. It is the difference between being alive and living that I think society needs to tackle next. It's all very well to be kept alive, but that isn't the same thing as living. As the author was in a far worse state than my mother in law, I'm interested to hear what his thoughts on life and living might be. Life is a hard habit to break.

Jun 3, 12:59pm Top

>193 Helenliz: Well done on the chocolate lasting as long as it did!

I read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly donkeys years ago and don't remember much about it, although I do vaguely remember thinking I didn't like the author as much as I felt I ought to. It was pretty remarkable though. I didn't know about the controversy about the book. I do intend to reread it sometime and see what I make of it now I'm not in my 20s any more.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother-in-law, that must be very difficult for you all.

Jun 3, 10:56pm Top

>176 Helenliz:
What a beautiful area.

>193 Helenliz:
Côte d'Or is so yummy.

Jun 5, 3:41pm Top

>194 Jackie_K: I know! In fact, even though I've started it, I still have some left (which is almost unheard of for me!)
Thankyou. It's difficult for him, who always wants to fix things, and this is not fixable. The only thing is to keep on keeping on.

>195 -Eva-: thankyou and it well and truly is!!

Jun 9, 6:23am Top

Catching up...
Book 37:
Title: Flight Behaviour
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
Rating: ***
Where from: Library
Why: Orange prize winner
Category: Woman authors, Orange prize winner
TIOLI: June Challenge #2. Read a book that is dedicated to the author's father

Dellarobia Turnbow is stuck in her life. She is heading off to a cabin to an illicit liaison with a young man when she sees something that will overturn her life - it seems that the entire hillside is aflame. So begins this book that is an examination of a small life that encounters something much larger than itself and the struggles that ensue. It is also a book about global warming and the challenges facing us as a species, but by being told at a very intimate level it becomes both less and more overwhelming at the same time.
This manages to not turn into a lecture, which is a feat in itself, and yet allows all its characters space to develop. From Hester, the farm matriarch, to Dellarobia and her son, Preston, they all grow and unfold and discover something of themselves and the world around them. Set in small town America, it highlights how badly off the poorest in society are and how differently the same things are viewed form the other side of the unseen divide. On so many levels, there is an us and them mentality, money, education, science, life has become very tribal. It's as unsettling as the global warming issue that is the background against which this is played out. The scene where the environmentalist is talking to Dellarobia about things people can do to reduce their impact is telling, and not a little dispiriting.
I enjoyed it and have the author on the list to revisit again.

Edited: Jun 9, 6:43am Top

Book box review. Never managed to finish my book box so quickly after arrival!

The book
Book 38:
Title: The Diving-bell and the Butterfly
Author: Jean-Dominique Bauby
Rating: ****
Where from: Book box
Why: Non-fiction
Category: Non-Fiction
TIOLI: June Challenge #12. Read a book that takes place in or around a beach/ocean

I had heard of this book before, but not read it or seen the film. The author is struck down which a stroke that paralyses his brain stem and leaves him in a locked in condition. He has limited movement of his head and can blink one eyelid. So, in some senses he is better off than those in a complete locked in state. However, as he says, "In the past it was known as a 'massive stroke', and you simply died." He is stuck in this state, with no likelihood of recovery, and describes it as being an active mind (the butterfly) stuck with a dead weight of a body (the diving bell). It is the paradox of modern medicine, that sometimes you can keep someone alive, but is this state being alive or not? It is certainly not a state of living.
The book is a series of short essays, rather than a story, he revisits his past, the stroke, his life and how different it has become. The first few sections, dealing with how he becomes aware of the extent of his illness and the prognosis are heart breaking. The discussion of his father and how he is unable to leave his flat due to issue of old age and how the son cannot reply to the father's telephone calls is desperately sad, two being unable to communicate properly. The section of his children's visit on father's day brings home the enormity of his loss and their confusion as to how to manage this.
It is not all depressing, though, there are flashes of beautiful writing, there is humour and there is self deprecation. The passge on how he can think up a sparkling reposte, but that it takes 10 minutes to take down tends to blunt the wit shows an active mind at work still, and frustrated by the body's limitations. It is melancholy, without being depressing. He regrets his current state and wishes he was not in it, but does not, to my mind, will himself to die.
I'm left with his image of his mind, memory and imagination taking flight like the butterfly. It is a beautiful image that captures something of the miraculous nature of the human spirit. I find myself hoping that this butterfly took flight and remains free.

The snack
Cote D'Or chocolate, Noir. Yumptious. I didn't actually finish the whole bar in one go, as it was one of those that 2 squares is enough at once. So it lasted almost a week, which , for me, is amazing!

The drink
Absolut Or coffee. Instant coffee is not my favourite beverage. This is good for instant coffee (think Douwe Egberts rather than Nescafe), but I'm not about to rush out and buy loads of it, or replace my morning ground coffee.

Jun 9, 9:25pm Top

Flight Behavior sounds interesting.

Jun 14, 1:17pm Top

Book 39:
Title: The Convict and Other Stories
Author: James Lee Burke
Rating: ****
Where from: Library
Why: Audio
Category: Miscellaneous
TIOLI: June Challenge #6. Read a book with a body of water on the front cover

When I picked this up, I thought it wouldn't be my thing, but hile the stories were outside my experience, they were all good in some way, with one that was outstanding.
These are set, for the most part, in what I think of as backwater America, it feels like they were mostly in the South, as the racial tension seems to reflect that region (I may be wrong there, but that's the impression). If there is a common theme, it is war, with the various characters being returned from war, at war or caught up in the the middle of a war that's not theirs. They are all flawed in some way, or trying to manage in a flawed world. And few of these stories end happily, but I don't recall the world being a fairy tale.
The second to last story, set in Guatamala was the one that really got to me, the world weary journalist who still feels it to have been his fault tugs at the heart strings.

I know it is a small thing, but the way that the audio was presented was really helpful. It was 1 CD with one story and 4 CD each with 2 stories. No having to change CD mid story, which gets really annoying It is only a small thing, but, you know, the small things make all the difference.

Jun 22, 12:50pm Top

Book 40:
Title: The Man of Property
Author: John Galsworthy
Rating: ****
Where from: Library
Why: Group read
Category: Miscellaneous
TIOLI: June Challenge #16: Read a book which would have been a shared read in this year

I really enjoyed this first installment in the family Forstye's history. It is set over quite a short period of time, and the action all proceeds quite slowly. This means that we get to know the various characters. Old Jolyon is a delight. There is (fortunately) a family tree provided, such that you can get the various characters straight. There are 3 generations who feature in this book, Old Jolyon and his siblings, their children and grandchildren. Old Jolyon has made a number of choices in respect of his treatment of his family, and in this book, those begin to change, with him softening his stance towards his son.
The marriage of Soames and Irene is clearly unhappy, but I can't help feeling that each party is unpleasant as the other. Irene clearly doesn't love Soames, but agreed to marry him and is now looking for a way out. She takes a lover, who happens to be engaged to Soames' relative, June. Soames is simply incapable of understanding his wife, and so they are both unhappy. And, based on how this concludes, they'll carry on making each other unhappy through a mixture of pride and stubbornness that each possess. I can't say I found either to be terribly likeable.
Of the other members of the family, there are the spinster sisters, the bachelor brother, the reclusive brother, the assortment of cousins. Some of them play a minor role in the story, and there are some lively characters in the mix there. It's set at an interesting time, in that the younger set are beginning to change the status quo that Jolyon and his siblings seem to cling to.
I really enjoyed this, and will move onto the interlude and books 2 of the saga, In Chancery, in due course.

In other news, I have acquired a set of varifocal glasses. After nearly 10 years of (reluctantly) wearing glasses for distance, I now need glasses for reading as well. Rather than go down the route of two pairs of glasses, I thought I'd try the varifocals. Collected them yesterday and the world has been a bit in and out of focus today! It's very odd, having to move your head to see something, rather than just glance with your eyes. But people get used to it, so it must be possible. Not yet tried reading in them, that's the next step. I did drive into town today wearing my old glasses, felt that might be a step too far, driving on day 1 of wearing them!

I'm going to join Christina to re-read the Harry Potter series of the rest of the year, with a target of 1 book per month, if anyone fancies joining us.

Jun 22, 1:07pm Top

Happy Friday, Helen! I recently got progressive lenses, which I am guessing are the same thing as your varifocal glasses, and I really love them. It's wonderful not having to constantly move the glasses on and off depending on what I am doing.

I would love to join you and Christina is the Harry Potter reread - are you starting this month or next month?

Jun 22, 1:38pm Top

>202 Crazymamie: I understand that progressive glasses are what we call varifocals. First day hasn't gone too badly. Certainly none of the really bad headaches and sick feelings, so looking good so far.

I'm starting the first one this month, I think Christina was thinking of reading the first 2 next month.

Jun 22, 2:40pm Top

>201 Helenliz: Another enthusiastic varifocal wearer here - they've honestly changed my life! I've actually worn glasses since I was a kid, and until a few years ago I also wore contact lenses. As my eyes got worse I found myself either wearing lenses and then still needing reading glasses, or wearing my normal glasses which were fine for middle and distance, but useless for reading. It was such a faff that a couple of years ago I ditched the lenses and reading glasses and went for varifocals, and I think they're brilliant, I wish I'd got them years ago. I've also got varifocal sunglasses.

Jun 23, 3:28am Top

>204 Jackie_K: it was to avoid the 2 pairs of glasses that made me try the varifocals. I'd got to the stage that I was taking off my distance glasses to read or cross stitch. But I needed them on for the TV, so watching the TV while stitching was a right pain.

It's good to hear that people do get on with them, you hear a lot from the people who struggle with them (including the husband), but you rarely hear the successes.

Jun 25, 9:53am Top

Joining the "love my progressives / varifocals" posters here. While I didn't like them at first, it was because the optician who fitted me for my glasses took the wrong eye measurements so everything was just slightly off. Once that was fixed, it was clear sailing. I did try bifocals as I was curious to see if I would like them more for reading, which I do, but the downside to bifocals was the were crap for mid-distance like working on a computer. I still have the bifocals but I now use them in the evenings or during the weekends when I know I will not be on the computer.

Jun 25, 3:36pm Top

>206 lkernagh: Thanks for chipping in. It's an ever increasing band! Doing OK so far, drove in them for the first time (only into town and back, but it's a step forward) and stitching is going really well. I can see the holes and everything! Stairs are my current wibble. Do I walk down them with my chin on my chest to see the step in focus, or look up and rely on peripheral vision to not go base over apex.

Jun 26, 4:10pm Top

It took a little while to get used to them but my first progressive lenses were perfect. The next pair gave me "wibbles" on stairs, or walking anywhere in fact. I came to the conclusion that in my case, the problem had something to do with the frame design. When I got around to replacing them with a third pair, I was back at perfect.

Stick with it, you will end up loving them.

Jun 28, 3:57pm Top

>208 VivienneR:, I'm getting on with them fine, thank you. Driven to work in them, been sewing in them and wearing them a fair amount when usually I'd not have put my glasses on. I went with a deeper lens style than my previous pair, as the assistant advised that if they're too shallow, the depth of each field of view can be too small.
I'm struggling with the concept that my feet will forever be out of focus!

Book 41:
Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Author: JK Rowling
Rating: ****
Where from: My shelves
Why: Group read
Category: Woman author, Flights of fantasy
TIOLI: June Challenge #4: Read a book from Public Broadcasting System network's The Great American Read

A re-read of the entire series begins here. I just missed an exhibition at the British Library earlier this year marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first book. Doesn't seem that long ago!
So my thoughts on this now. I can still see the attraction. It's engaging, there's action, suspense, friendship, exams, enemies and all the things that seem to make your childhood years so vivid. Coming back to it, there are flaws, the idea that 3 first years could get through a series of hurdles that a much more experienced wizard could not is slightly far-fetched. Not sure that necessarily detracts from the fun ride though.

Group: 2018 Category Challenge

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