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MAMZEL in 2018

This topic was continued by MAMZEL in 2018, Episode 2.

2018 Category Challenge

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1mamzel
Edited: Jun 4, 1:48pm Top



It's so good to see everyone back again and welcome to the new members of the Category Challenge! This is my seventh year with this group and so happy to be here again. Rather than stress about filling a lot of categories I am just going to list the books I've read by month.

My taste still runs high with fantasy with a little science fiction thrown in but I've noticed that mysteries have been sneaking into my Kindle buying and reading. I read a fair share of nonfiction, especially books from my school's library. They are finally writing "narrative nonfiction" which is not only interesting but downright riveting. I'll also read other random books which pique my interest for some reason or other.

I appreciate the camaraderie and support received here and look forward to reading what everyone has been reading and notes about trips, family, and pets.

I will move here on Dec. 16 which is the first day of my winter break. Now I am off to see how everyone has set up their threads.



eta: I remembered a theme I had thought of a while ago. (My memory sucks sometimes.) Therefore I am invoking the challenge's rule that I can change up my program and am introducing a theme which celebrates the beauty and variety of my adopted state - California. These do not, by any means, cover all of the regions of this amazing state. If I can think of more clever matches to other areas, I will plug them in.



Redwoods are stunningly beautiful even though most people don't get to see much more than their trunks. The General Sherman in the Sequoia National Park is the largest living organism in the world with a total volume of 1486.9 cubic meters. The tallest tree in the world, Hyperion, is 115.55 meters tall. (Wikipedia) Close to me there are two remarkable old growth groves, Muir Woods, which is being loved to death, and the lesser known state park, Armstrong Woods, near the Russian River.

I will record my 500+ page-long books in this category.

1. Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw (audio version 2016), narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds audio - 29h36m



California's Mojave Desert is truly amazing. While most of the year it is arid and, to many people, dull and featureless, when it gets rain in the spring it transforms into a glorious bloom-filled landscape.

Nonfiction books often are dull but some are transformed into interesting stories.

1. The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers (2017)



The Sierra Nevada mountains are relatively young in geologic terms, and are still in the process of growing.

Young Adult books are aimed at teens who are still growing.

1. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (2017)
2. Far from the Tree by Robin Benway (2017)
3. The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides by Ben Tripp (2014)



Our wine industry provides us with scenic vineyards and amazing wines. Unfortunately, I am a rare person who does not find the taste of wine very appealing. It is a mystery to me why people make such a fuss over distilled grape juice. And I'm half French, too!

Mysteries will be recorded in this category.

1. This Night's Foul Work by Fred Vargas (2008)
2. The Black Tower by Louis Bayard, narrated by Simon Vance (2009)
3. Glass House by Louis Penny (2017)
4. Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs (2005)
5. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (2005)



Silicon Valley, south of San Francisco, is known for its high-tech companies.

I enjoy scifi and cyber thrillers and will note them here.

1. The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz (2015)



California has some of the most spectacular coastlines. Whenever I need a dose of salt air I like to visit the Pt. Reyes National Shoreline. The smell of salt in the air, the gentle breezes wafting in from the ocean, the sound of the surf, all never fail to rejuvenate me.

I will record books that are easy and rejuvenating - graphic novels, audio books, and any other non-novels will end up here.

1. Varjak Paw by SF Said, illustrated by Dave McKean (2005)



The Central Valley is nicknamed the nation's salad bowl. Everything from almonds to zucchini are grown in the region. Over 230 different crops!

Any books that don't fit in the other categories will appear here.

1. The Nightingale by Kistin Hannah (2015)
2. The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (2017)
3. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (1951)
4. Scourged by Kevin Hearne (2018)
5. Circe by Madeline Miller (2018)
6. Season of Storms by Andrezej Sapkowski (2018)

2christina_reads
Nov 17, 2017, 4:40pm Top

December 16 is Jane Austen's birthday as well -- an excellent day to start! :) Hope you have fun reading by month -- we'll have to compare notes!

3DeltaQueen50
Nov 17, 2017, 7:01pm Top

Looking forward to following along for another year! :)

4rabbitprincess
Nov 17, 2017, 7:23pm Top

Woo hoo Mamzel is here!! Looking forward to seeing you get things started in just under a month (!).

5Crazymamie
Nov 17, 2017, 7:55pm Top

Dropping a star so I can follow your reading!

6lkernagh
Nov 19, 2017, 12:47pm Top

Great to see your thread is up! Looking forward to seeing what you read in 2018!

7pamelad
Nov 20, 2017, 2:03am Top

>1 mamzel: Good idea. You could decide on your categories after you see what you've read!

8VivienneR
Nov 21, 2017, 12:50am Top

Good to see you back for another year! The by-the-month idea seems to be popular this year. I like it.

9Chrischi_HH
Nov 25, 2017, 2:16pm Top

Good to see you all set for 2018. Happy reading!

10MissWatson
Nov 26, 2017, 4:59am Top

I'm happy to see you're back!

11mamzel
Nov 27, 2017, 4:05pm Top

>2 christina_reads: How auspicious! Might be a good excuse to dive into one of her books, right?
>3 DeltaQueen50: Thanks You too!
>4 rabbitprincess: I can't believe how fast it will get here!
>5 Crazymamie: Got a star on you too!
>6 lkernagh: I'm interested in that too! Never can tell with me.
>7 pamelad: Indeed. If I see a yearlong challenge that sounds interesting, I'll give it a go.
>8 VivienneR: Thank you.
>9 Chrischi_HH: Thanks for stopping by!
>10 MissWatson: Thank you. It's always a pleasure to be here!

12mamzel
Dec 4, 2017, 2:17pm Top

>2 christina_reads: Taking your excellent suggestion - I'm listening to Sense and Sensability. Last night I realized I had never watched Death Comes to Pemberly. I had read the book a few years ago. I really enjoyed it!

13christina_reads
Dec 6, 2017, 4:01pm Top

>12 mamzel: Hooray! I enjoyed the PBS version of Death Comes to Pemberley, although I actually didn't like the book much. It was funny to see Matthew Rhys as Mr. Darcy, as I primarily know him from the TV show "The Americans," where he plays a significantly different type of role! But anyway, hope you enjoy your listen of Sense and Sensibility. :)

14mamzel
Dec 7, 2017, 11:09am Top

>13 christina_reads: I agree. I enjoyed the adaptation more than the book, too.

15Crazymamie
Dec 7, 2017, 11:13am Top

>13 christina_reads: Me, three! I actually abandoned the book.

16mamzel
Dec 7, 2017, 12:40pm Top

In the shower this morning (my favorite thinking place) I remembered a theme I had come with so I am changing from my month-by-month arrangement and have created a theme that extols the beauty of California.

17Chrischi_HH
Dec 7, 2017, 4:54pm Top

>16 mamzel: The "change whatever you want when you want it" rule is the best of all rules. Looks like fun!

18rabbitprincess
Dec 7, 2017, 6:59pm Top

Great theme! And excellent to see my favourite challenge rule being invoked :D

19MissWatson
Dec 8, 2017, 4:06am Top

Love those redwoods!

20mstrust
Dec 8, 2017, 11:46am Top

Dropping a star! Nice to see my home state being celebrated in your thread.

21mamzel
Dec 8, 2017, 1:48pm Top

>17 Chrischi_HH: I love flexibility!

>18 rabbitprincess: It's such a thoughtful and considerate rule which definitely eases any stress from the creation process!

>19 MissWatson: I wish there was a way to share the smell of the fallen needles when you walk through them. The ground under the trees is soft and a pleasure to walk on.

>20 mstrust: Do you have a favorite region?

I just thought of another category. Off to add it to the list...

22DeltaQueen50
Dec 8, 2017, 11:11pm Top

I love your tribute to California. I am horrified at the fires that are raging there and hope that they are soon under control.

23mstrust
Dec 9, 2017, 9:09am Top

>21 mamzel: I grew up on the street that divides Garden Grove from Anaheim, which put me five minutes from Disneyland. There is Laguna, Del Mar or Newport. And in L.A., where I worked and spent a lot of time, there's LACMA and the Natural History Museum, which has a gorgeous building and rose garden.

24Roro8
Dec 9, 2017, 3:25pm Top

I like your updated theme. Your mystery category made me smile.

25sushicat
Dec 10, 2017, 2:30am Top

Same here. Lovely pictures too.

26threadnsong
Dec 10, 2017, 6:38pm Top

>16 mamzel: What a great way to bring your love of place into your categories of books!

And QQ - what does "dropping a star" mean in context of what people have said about coming to visit you on this thread?

27mamzel
Dec 11, 2017, 10:55am Top

>22 DeltaQueen50: I have a horrible feeling southern California was wiping their brow that they squeaked through the fire season without incident. It is still raging!

>23 mstrust: I am not familiar with S. California. I hope you are safe from the fires and accompanying smoke!

>24 Roro8: I know, right? Sad but true.

>25 sushicat: We are a picturesque state!

>26 threadnsong: Someone did a New Jersey theme a while ago which must have given me the idea.
"Dropping a star" means clicking on the star by a person's thread on the group page. It makes the star yellow so it easier to remember who you want to follow. I usually click my own star so I can find myself. You can always unclick someone.

28virginiahomeschooler
Dec 11, 2017, 11:05am Top

I love the new theme. And I'm totally with you on the wine thing. The only ones I can tolerate are the very fruity and sweet red wines. Plus drinking it (or anything alcoholic really) just makes me entirely too warm and sleepy. The photo of the vineyard is very pretty, though.

29mamzel
Dec 11, 2017, 11:07am Top

>28 virginiahomeschooler: LOL! I'm a cheap drunk too. Merlot is the only wine I find palatable and most wine snobs look down their noses at it.

30LittleTaiko
Dec 11, 2017, 11:25am Top

Love the revised theme! Such a beautiful state.

>29 mamzel: - Ha! I love red wine, including merlot. Though every time I drink it, I think of the scene from the movie Sideways where the one character makes his feelings about merlot known. :)

31mstrust
Dec 11, 2017, 11:29am Top

>27 mamzel: I live in Phoenix now. My sister lives in Riverside and works in Ontario, and luckily for her the closest fire was an hour away. It's amazing how many are going at the same time. On a map, L.A. was pretty much surrounded.

32mamzel
Dec 11, 2017, 1:43pm Top

>30 LittleTaiko: I really wish I liked wine. It would be so nice to drive past a vineyard and remember tasting and enjoying their vintages.
I also enjoy fortified wines like port. I use generic dry vermouth whenever a recipe calls for white wine.

>31 mstrust: Good thing concrete doesn't catch fire easily, huh? Hope she is not suffering from bad air quality.

33VivienneR
Dec 11, 2017, 3:20pm Top

Love your revised categories! Hoping to learn more about the geography of California along the way.

34mamzel
Dec 12, 2017, 10:39am Top

>33 VivienneR: So glad you stopped by. I will be sure to add more pictures during the year.

35mamzel
Edited: Dec 19, 2017, 3:37pm Top



Lake Tahoe is a very popular place to visit. Straddling the border of California and Nevada, it offers the best of outdoor recreation as well as indoor entertainment.

I am starting my 2018 thread with a wonderful book. When the library received it I was not sure how I would book talk it. It has received many starred reviews but I wasn't sure I would want to read it even. Then one of our students checked it out. When she returned it I asked what she thought of it, she raved. Usually I can't get more than one word. Okay, I thought. I'll give it a go. So glad I did!



The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (2017)

On the morning we are to leave for our Grand Tour of the Continent, I wake in bed beside Percy.

How's that for an opening line? And it never stops. Surprises and action all through the book.

Henry Montague (Monty) is the son of a lord and likes nothing more than partying with both girls and boys. Percy is his childhood friend, a bastard son, bi-racial, and Monty finds his feelings growing more and more serious. Alas, he is to scared to reveal his feelings and face ridicule from him. Monty's father is sending him off on Tour of Europe hoping Monty will make profitable contacts and mature so that he will return and learn about handling the family's holdings. Monty's sister, Felicity, will be dropped off at finishing school. The only good thing about this is that Percy will be coming along too. It is soon revealed that Percy is the victim of epilepsy, an condition that mystified people at that time.

At a grand fete at Versailles, Monty is teased to follow a girl into one of the many suites for what promised to be a romp. He casts his eye around for something to lift and picks up an unusual item off of the desk just as the owner of the suite, the Duke of Bourbon comes in. What ensues is a chase around Europe as Monty, Percy, and Felicity head to Spain to return the item to its owner with the Duke in hot pursuit. Adventures with highwaymen, pirates, and alchemists combine with Monty's inner battle to make an excellent read.

I still don't know who I could recommend this book to. I think I might just let word of mouth promote it and silently enjoy its success.

36mysterymax
Dec 19, 2017, 4:45pm Top

Well, there's my BB for January!

37scaifea
Dec 20, 2017, 6:26am Top

>35 mamzel: I've got that one on my wishlist already - I'm glad to see that you liked it so much (and that your student did, too)!

38mamzel
Dec 20, 2017, 12:58pm Top

>36 mysterymax: Have fun!

>37 scaifea: Word does get around! Enjoy!

39majkia
Dec 20, 2017, 2:16pm Top

>35 mamzel: Seriously??? I'm shot already??? Bleeding all over the bloody place... Mumble, mumble.... It isn't even the New Year yet!

40virginiahomeschooler
Dec 20, 2017, 2:33pm Top

>35 mamzel: I did one of those Owlcrate things a few months ago, and this was the book that came in the crate. I haven't gotten to it yet, but I may bump it up higher on my tbr pile thanks to your review. :)

41DeltaQueen50
Dec 20, 2017, 3:10pm Top

>35 mamzel: Great review of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue. Your review and a few other glowing comments has placed this one on my wishlist.

42mamzel
Dec 20, 2017, 6:20pm Top

>39 majkia: Here's some gauze for the wound!


>40 virginiahomeschooler: I don't think you'll be disappointed.

>41 DeltaQueen50: I hope you'll find Monty as interesting a character as I did.

43mamzel
Dec 21, 2017, 12:48pm Top

Happy Winter Solstice!

44mysterymax
Dec 21, 2017, 4:22pm Top

Lovely!

45mamzel
Dec 21, 2017, 5:15pm Top



Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (2017) developed and published by Ninja Theory

I have been a gamer since Zork (all you under 40 - look it up). I have enjoyed role playing games (RPGs) where gathering items for money and improved gear and facing bad guys is the basic game. I do not play online games. I don't want to compete with or against 15 year-olds with better hand/eye coordination, but prefer to battle on my own. The past couple of years I have been immersed in the Witcher series, both the games and the original novels by Andrzej Sapkowski. The story, gameplay, and graphics combine, for me, to present an ultimate experience. That there haven't been many options which come close (IMHO) means I have replayed the game over and over.

This last Black Friday, my son suggested I download this Hellblade. It's a relatively short game. It only took me a total of 12 hours to play. It is linear, meaning you have one path to follow, no side quests, and no way to back up to an earlier place to replay. What is intriguing about this game is the focus on mental illness. (A trailer for the game can be found here )

Senua is a Celtic woman who has suffered terribly by the hands of her father. The final straw was when her lover was sacrificed by invading Vikings. She fell into a deep psychosis and felt she had to deliver her lover's head to Hel to reunite it with his soul so he can be at peace. The road to Hel (pun intended) is paved with puzzles to solve and beasts to battle.

The creators of this game teamed with psychiatrists and sufferers of psychosis to create an authentic experience for the player. The whispering voices and hallucinations create scenes which give the player an idea of what it is like for someone with the condition.

For such a short game, it was sure packed with great adventure.

The game comes with a warning that those who suffer from psychosis maybe should not play this game. I can see why. It is also recommended that you play with headphones to get the 360° sound. I didn't because 1) I'm too chicken and 2) I rather keep in touch with the real world around me at all times. Maybe if I play it again I'll borrow my son't headphones.

The other game I downloaded on Black Friday was Assassin's Creed: Origins. I have been aware of this series for a long time. My son, who knows me and my tastes well, and keeps abreast on gaming news, said that this one might be one I would enjoy. I have started in during breaks from Hellblade and will continue with it now. At least there is a lot more daylight in AC than there was in Hellblade! I do still have Witcher 3 in progress and when things get too rough in the other game I will go back to it.

46VivienneR
Dec 21, 2017, 6:10pm Top

>43 mamzel: What an outstanding Solstice pic! Happy Winter Solstice to you too!

47scaifea
Dec 22, 2017, 6:28am Top

Hellblade sounds good! My husband is a huge fan of the Assassins Creed games and is playing the origins one now and loving it. I'm more of a Final Fantasy gal, but I may try AC eventually.

48majkia
Dec 22, 2017, 7:05am Top

Love the solstice image. Hope yours was wonderful. Ah, Zork. Well I remember you!

49mamzel
Dec 22, 2017, 3:16pm Top

>46 VivienneR: I'll be happy to go to go to work with my sunglasses on again!

>47 scaifea: Final Fantasy may be the next game I play! Have you played Witcher? 3 is an outstanding game. You don't have to play 1 and 2.

48> Major use of graph paper! Those were the days.

50ErinPaperbackstash
Dec 23, 2017, 1:07am Top

Love this idea and had no idea California turned that beautiful with rain. Have fun reading in 2018!

51mamzel
Dec 23, 2017, 1:46pm Top

I always look forward to spring. Even though I don't live in an area considered desert, we do go months without any rain during the summer.
Thanks for stopping by.

52mamzel
Dec 24, 2017, 11:25pm Top

To all of you LTers!



53rabbitprincess
Dec 25, 2017, 2:04pm Top

Merry Christmas, Mamzel!

54andreablythe
Dec 25, 2017, 5:32pm Top

What beautiful photos of California! Merry Christmas and I'm looking forward to reading with you next year (assuming I keep up on all my threads, lol).

55mamzel
Dec 26, 2017, 2:38pm Top

>53 rabbitprincess: Thanks!

>54 andreablythe: I intend to share many more pictures of this state through the year!



The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz (2015)

This story begins with a dream, and not a particularly spectacular one at that.

I had been avoiding this book fearful that it would not be able to hold a candle to the original three of the series by Stieg Larsson. However, when I visited the FOL booksale, there it was laying on top of a pile, in pristine condition, and I thought it was kismet.

The first third of the book plods through plots of cyber espionage and commercial espionage and hacking and counter-hacking. It wasn't until Lizbeth burst on the scene that I was able to enjoy a little of the feelings I got from the original stories. She is a tour de force which cannot be denied. A genius at computers, physically able to overcome men three times her size, and devoted to protecting defenseless women and children, Lizbeth is a most amazing character.

There are no mysteries to solve as the reader follows the thoughts and actions of the bad guys as well as the good guys. What is of interest is how much Lizbeth will hurt them. In this case, not as much as I would have liked. I thought that, in the case of the autistic boy's abusive stepfather, I was hoping that she would fix it that he would be disabled himself and stuck being in the care of others, always fearful that he would receive some of the same treatment that he dished out. In this instance, Lagercrantz never rose to the same level as Larsson.

I am glad, though, that Lizbeth is still kicking ass!

56andreablythe
Dec 27, 2017, 12:56pm Top

I haven't read the books yet, but I love the Dragon Tattoo movies. I love Lizbeth so much, so I'm glad to see that the continuation of her story is enjoyable.

57mamzel
Dec 27, 2017, 1:45pm Top

>56 andreablythe: This one isn't nearly as intense as the originals. I hope they pepper things up if they continue. Did you watch the Swedish or American movies? I enjoyed both.

58andreablythe
Dec 27, 2017, 1:52pm Top

I watched both and enjoyed them, but preferred the Swedish films over all. But then, I love Noomi Rapace.

59mamzel
Dec 29, 2017, 3:40pm Top

I spent today getting myself set for the new year. I got my hair cut and my teal patch redone then went to get new 'intimate apparel'. Time to clean out my drawers. (Ooh, that could have been such a bad pun!)

60Dejah_Thoris
Dec 29, 2017, 7:02pm Top

>35 mamzel: Well if I hadn't already requested The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue from the library, your review would have certainly prompted me to!

I've got you starred - good reading in 2018!

61mstrust
Dec 30, 2017, 10:55am Top

>59 mamzel: I've been playing with the idea of cleaning out some drawers for the new year. Then I'd have room to fill them with more stuff.

62mamzel
Dec 30, 2017, 2:02pm Top

>60 Dejah_Thoris: Thanks for stopping by. I left a lot out of the review so you will still find some surprises. Enjoy!

>61 mstrust: LOL! Isn't that just the way it goes?

63mamzel
Dec 31, 2017, 2:34pm Top

May the New Year bring you nothing but happiness, health, good friends, and most importantly, good books!

64mstrust
Dec 31, 2017, 5:19pm Top

And to you!

65mamzel
Jan 1, 9:37am Top

66lavaturtle
Jan 1, 6:06pm Top

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue sounds super interesting! I'll have to check that one out.

67mamzel
Jan 3, 2:50pm Top



This Night's Foul Work by Fred Vargas (2008)
A Commissaire Adamsberg Myster #5

By fixing his curtain to one side with a clothes-peg, Lucio could better observe the new neighbour at his leisure.

My Secret Santa did a wonderful job choosing books for me. I had asked for non-U.S. mysteries and she found this one which takes place in France.

I had never hear of this series before. Commissaire John-Baptiste Adamsberg works in the Serious Crime Squad and investigates a multiple murder of two med with their throats cut. He has just moved into a new house which he believes might be haunted since he hears noises in the attic and sees a 'shade'. He also is pondering how to deal with one of his men who he recognizes as having lived as a boy in a neighboring valley and was brutalized by boys in Adamsberg's valley.

His ex-wife is a classical musician so he frequently has to babysit his toddler son. This gives him a chance to step back and reflect on things he has learned.

I really enjoyed this book and will keep my eye out for more of the series.

68Roro8
Jan 3, 3:01pm Top

>55 mamzel:, good to hear that the book was probably better than you expected.

69thornton37814
Jan 4, 9:30pm Top

>67 mamzel: Glad your Santa did such a great job and got you hooked on a new series!

70VioletBramble
Jan 5, 1:07pm Top

Hi Mamzel. Happy New Year!
Luckily The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is already on my wish list or that would've been a BB.
I can't believe you've already read three books. I've barely read three pages this year.

71mamzel
Jan 5, 2:56pm Top

>69 thornton37814: I was very lucky!

>70 VioletBramble: *blush* I actually started my 2018 challenge on Dec. 17. I like to get a head start on the new year. I hope you enjoy TGGtVaV as much as I did. It was a very pleasant surprise!

Went to our local indie bookstore to get the much talked about Fire and Fury but they had not received their copies yet. I heard that Amazon was already sold out. They took my number and will call when they come in. They said that there has been a lot of interest for the book even though our community is mostly conservative.

72mamzel
Jan 7, 5:06pm Top

I finished a book and a game today! Just in time, too, since I go back to work tomorrow.



Daemon by Daniel Suarez (2009)
Daemon (1)

What the hell just happened?

Lots of cyber learning here. A daemon is "a computer program that runs continuously in the background and performs specified operations at predefined times or in response to certain events". The one in this book was created by the genius Matthew Sobol who made his fortune by creating an extremely popular MMORPG game and died young. This almost sounds like the beginning of Ready Player One (which I loved) but the genius here is by no means generous and benign but uses his vast fortune and knowledge to bring about a cultural cleansing. Even all of the intelligence departments together can't get ahead of his booby-rigged houses and self-driving armored cars to prevent it.

This was another choice made by my wonderful Secret Santa.



And so, my hero, Bayek of Sewa and his wife, Aya, have completed their missions and head off to continue defending the downtrodden. I really enjoyed this game taking place in ancient Egypt. The creators paid close attention to making scenes of life along the Nile to make the game more fun. Walking around, the NPCs can be heard to speak in ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek, and Latin. Farmers, tanners, embalmers, market sellers, blacksmiths, cobblers, and priests galore ply their trades. Hippos, crocodiles, cobras, vultures, hyenas, lions, lurk everywhere.

The action took place in the desert and along the lush Nile river. There were also scenes where Aya was in command of a ship giving us some cool naval battles. (I'm guessing that the creators wanted to use the programming from their pirate game - no problem here.)

I really enjoyed the totally unrealistic ability to scale walls and dive 10 stories into a cart full of hay. I had fun sneaking around trying to avoid confrontations, raiding loot boxes, and hunting when my abilities improved enough.

If the creators were trying to lure more female players by giving play to a female character, thanks. I, for one, appreciate it.

Ugh, back to work tomorrow.

73virginiahomeschooler
Jan 7, 6:13pm Top

>72 mamzel: The book sounds great. I'm gonna have to look for that one.

My son loves that game. I love the idea behind it, and he tried to get me playing it but the motion makes me sick. There's another he got for Christmas that he likes that has a very similar play style. I think it's Shadow of Mordor?

74scaifea
Jan 8, 8:01am Top

>72 mamzel: My husband was playing this again yesterday while I sat nearby reading. I looked up at one point and said, "Were you just mauled by an elephant?" His response: "Yes. For the fifth time." Ha!

75hailelib
Jan 8, 9:54am Top

Sounds like a fun book and a fun game.

76mamzel
Jan 8, 1:04pm Top

>73 virginiahomeschooler: I have SoM and couldn't get the hang of the action but I want to get back to it eventually.

>74 scaifea: Is it the elephant that is chasing him and Caesar in the chariot? Tell him to shoot arrows as fast as he can at the elephant, forget trying to shoot the driver!

>75 hailelib: They were!

77scaifea
Jan 9, 8:12am Top

>76 mamzel: I have no idea what the elephant is about, but I'll pass along the tip!

78mysterymax
Jan 9, 10:37am Top

Is page ten too soon to say I love The Gentleman's Guide...?

79pammab
Jan 9, 11:28am Top

Happy 2018! I have to look into the Gentleman's Guide... and probably Hellblade as well, which is not a bullet I was expecting. Where did you download it?

80mamzel
Jan 9, 11:43am Top

>77 scaifea: Wish him luck for me!

>78 mysterymax: ;-) No, it's a grabber!

>79 pammab: I play on a PC and get my games through Steam. The prime benefit is that they keep games updated for users.
Gentleman's Guide has received many high reviews. Richly deserved.

81sirfurboy
Jan 11, 5:41am Top

I starred your thread. Your categories are good, but the photos make them all the better.

82mamzel
Jan 11, 11:13am Top

>81 sirfurboy: Thank you. I'll share another with you now.
When I drove in this morning it was foggy, foggy, foggy!
I don't know if there is anywhere else in the world where fog is so photogenic!

83virginiahomeschooler
Jan 11, 4:13pm Top

>82 mamzel: That photo is gorgeous!

84mamzel
Edited: Jan 11, 4:35pm Top

That photo is a sunrise picture (from the Marin headlands facing the East Bay). Not so much fun if you are driving in it.

85hailelib
Jan 13, 9:42am Top

Still, you showed us a great sunrise!

86sirfurboy
Jan 15, 8:57am Top

Beautiful picture of the fog. The lights inside it look eerily like flames.

87VivienneR
Jan 15, 1:57pm Top

Fabulous picture of fog! You live in a lovely area.

88mamzel
Jan 16, 2:13pm Top

I'm glad everyone is enjoying pictures of my state.
I admit that none of them are mine, they are taken from Google images.
Others are way more photographically adept than me.

89mamzel
Jan 23, 2:39pm Top

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (2015)

If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be' in war we find out who we are.

This book really hit home for me since my mother was a teenager in occupied France. Unfortunately she never shared any stories with us.

Isabel Rossignol is like most teenagers and feels like she can solve all the world's problems if she could just be allowed to. Nothing can hurt her. After her mother died her father sent Isabel and her sister, Vianne, to live with a friend. It took a long time for them to deal with this double abandonment. Eventually Vianne married and had a daughter and Isabel went on to be kicked out of one finishing school after another. When the Germans invaded Paris she set out on foot to be with her sister.

Over time Isabel joined the Resistance, starting out by delivering flyers. Her courage and exploits eventually became the stuff of legend causing the Nazis to hunt the Nightingale. Vianne, whose husband was a POW, tried to protect her daughter as best she could, and feared that Isabel's actions would attract attention and danger.

Whenever I read a book about people in war, I have a sick feeling in my stomach. I had one again reading this book. I should know better than to read books like this at work. The kids look at me in surprise as I wipe away tears.

Fantastic book.

90thornton37814
Jan 23, 8:36pm Top

>89 mamzel: Once that one got going, it was absorbing!

91christina_reads
Jan 24, 2:26pm Top

>89 mamzel: I recently bought The Nightingale at a used bookstore, so I'm really glad to see your 4.5-star review!

92lkernagh
Jan 26, 1:13pm Top

>89 mamzel: - Wonderful review!

93VivienneR
Jan 28, 3:16pm Top

>89 mamzel: I have that one on the shelf. I'll think of you and your mother when I read it. Great review!

94AHS-Wolfy
Feb 5, 6:38pm Top

>55 mamzel: I was glad I left a gap in between the last of Larsson's books before picking this one up. It would have definitely had a negative affect of my enjoyment for the Lagercrantz continuation. It's a decent read in its own right but, as you say, it's a little less intense than its predecessors. I haven't got around to picking up the next one as yet but will at some point.

>67 mamzel: Glad to see you also enjoy the Vargas book. It's one of my favourite mystery series around at the moment. The mysteries aren't what makes it for me as it's the characters that really keep me hooked.

95mathgirl40
Feb 5, 10:05pm Top

>89 mamzel: Taking a BB for The Nightingale. It's too bad your mother did not share her stories with you. My mother also refused, for a very long time, to talk about her youth in China. Her family suffered terribly during the Sino-Japanese War and the Communist Revolution, and only 50 years later did she start telling me a few things about her life.

96mamzel
Feb 7, 1:39pm Top

>90 thornton37814: I found the beginning a little disjointed and confusing but like you said, it straightened out.

>91 christina_reads: I hope you'll enjoy it too!

>92 lkernagh: High praise coming from you. Thanks!

>93 VivienneR: I hope you'll like it when you get around to it.

>94 AHS-Wolfy: I think the shock of the first book is what I continued to appreciate through Steig's books. This one was like a deflated balloon for me.

>95 mathgirl40: I understand how these painful memories might be too much to resurrect. I blame myself for being a typically indifferent teenager and not realizing how valuable her history was until it was too late. I hope you enjoy the book when you get time for it.

Now for my big news.
Three years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). For two years we carefully watched my kidney function, made drastic changes in my diet, I lost 40 pounds, and waited. The time eventually came that I had to go on dialysis. While the employees of the center was marvelous, sitting in a chair for 4 hours a day, three days a week, was really a drag. I turned down one call with a kidney. The lady who called did not seem very enthusiastic about the kidney and afterwards I kicked myself for being a chicken. After 14 months on dialysis I got another call and I jumped on it. It was a perfect match for me and there were no issues with the donor that affected the kidney. I'm glad I waited. I said adios to school (they were told about this possibility so they weren't surprised). That evening I was told to check in to the hospital the next morning. I spent the day meeting with various members of the transplant team, getting tests galore, and nervously waiting for the plane carrying the kidney to arrive. Finally at 11:30 that night I headed to the operating room and woke up at 4:30 am in postop.

The first day/night was tedious as my vitals were taken every hour with people popping in at random times in between. My son is my primary care giver and spent his waking hours with me. He had been driving me to dialysis and now does all my driving to the lab and the clinic and does any shopping I need. He has been doing the cooking too. I am on heavy anti-rejection drugs and antibiotics. It has been 2 weeks since K-Day and I have been walking every day, slowly getting back into real food (all those drugs and surgery messes things up). One of the restrictions I had was phosphorus, found in dairy products. I had to take phosphorus binders with every meal. I was pleased to learn that actually I need to get my phosphorus up. Last night I enjoyed a little bowl of ice cream, the first in years! I still have to be careful with potassium, sodium, and, of course, sugar.

The new restrictions I face are disappointing but completely understandable. No sushi!!!!! Meat has to be completely cooked, raw vegetables scrupulously cleaned, even sandwich meats have to be heated before eaten. I can't go outside without a mask, and protected from the sun with hat and sun block. The mask will hopefully go away but not the sun issue. That will really put a crimp in my visits to St. Thomas! My son has to see to the chickens and I won't be doing any gardening for a while, all those nasty germs in dirt. Those weeds are going to get a reprieve. Our early spring has them going gangbusters. Maybe I can bribe my daughter and her boyfriend to clean them up if I offer something yummy for dinner.

I'll be away from work maybe three months! I'll be reading, binge watching Netflix, and playing my video games.They're the best time killers! I just got a new game called The Reckoning which is a cartoonish fantasy game. Not great but it was cheap. I was knitting squares for a throw but I'm dealing with a little shakiness that makes it difficult at present. It could be a result of the anesthesia that is slow to clear up.

So, my friends. My message to you is to take care of your kidneys! Monitor your blood pressure and sugar levels. If you haven't had one in a while, ask for an A1C blood test. That will check your sugar over past months, not just a snap shot result.

97Jackie_K
Feb 7, 1:49pm Top

Wow, that is big news! I hope that you and your new kidney get on swimmingly for many many years to come!

98mamzel
Feb 7, 2:07pm Top

>97 Jackie_K: Thanks so much!



Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (2018)

The evening began at six-thirty but Steve Bannon, suddenly among the world's most pwerful men and now less and less mindful of time constraints, was late.

Full disclaimer - I am a biased reader of this book. Please don't be mad at me for my opinion.

I had actually finished this before I went to the hospital but didn't have a chance to post about it. I think I came away with the feeling that even if only half of the junk that went on is true, this is horrifyingly embarrassing!

I think it sunk in how timely this was as I was reading about Scaramucci. It appears that he insinuated himself into the White House, was never really invited or wanted. He would walk into random meetings and pull up a chair and participate like he was expected. I read this as the economic summit was occurring in Switzerland. I was surprised to see him on the TV being interviewed like he really had something to contribute. MSNBC lost some points on that one!

I marked this paragraph as being a good summation -

Perhaps never before in history - not through world wars, the overthrow of empires, periods of extraordinary social transformation, or episodes of government-shaking scandal - have real-life events unfolded with such emotional and plot-thickening impact. In the fashion of binge-watching a television show, one's real life became quite secondary to the public drama. It was not unreasonable to say Whoa, wait just a minute: public life doesn't happen like this. Public life in fact lacks coherence and drama. (History, by contrast attains coherence and drama only in hindsight.)


Just like this morning's news. Threatened government shut-down, immigration reform, Russian collusion investigation - heck, let's have a big parade! I am totally ashamed by this 'man'!

99christina_reads
Feb 7, 5:36pm Top

>96 mamzel: Glad to hear that the operation went well and that you are on the road to recovery!

100DeltaQueen50
Feb 7, 5:53pm Top

My goodness, I am so happy that you have had the operation and that is was successfull. Take care of yourself, enjoy your time off, and read lots of good books. Your son deserves a special pat on the back as well for being there for you.

101mathgirl40
Feb 7, 6:16pm Top

Best of luck for your health going forward! It's great that you have such super family support.

102AHS-Wolfy
Feb 7, 6:56pm Top

>96 mamzel: That's a life-changing event! I wish you well on your road to recovery.

103rabbitprincess
Feb 7, 9:45pm Top

Glad to hear you have a new kidney! Sounds like you have an excellent support system in place for your convalescence. Wishing you a speedy recovery and hoping that every book is exactly what you were looking for when you picked it up :)

104MissWatson
Feb 8, 3:38am Top

That is life-changing indeed. Best wishes for a speedy revovery and that all goes well for a long long time to come!

105mysterymax
Feb 8, 2:08pm Top

Speedy recovery!

106rabbitprincess
Feb 8, 8:28pm Top

>103 rabbitprincess: Also, do you like the colour of your new kidney? ;)

107pammab
Feb 9, 1:53am Top

Wow! That is huge news. Congratulations on the beginning of a second life! These stories always seem so pat in the telling but in the living they never are. I am so very glad to hear such good news and very glad for you that you have a new lease on life, even though the post-transplant period will be an absolute bear. So glad! Hope things go smooth as silk going forward too.

108pammab
Feb 9, 1:59am Top

>98 mamzel: so... why only 3.5 stars? Book is spoke to you but it wasn't especially well written or something?

I have been avoiding this one out of fears it might be dismissive more than serious and well articulated. I don't do well with black and white, even when the black looks darn black and the white looks darn white to me.... Would love your reaction on that!

109mamzel
Feb 9, 1:06pm Top

>99 christina_reads: Thanks so much!

>100 DeltaQueen50: A friend gave me a goody bag and included a couple of excellent chocolate bars which I unfortunately couldn't eat. I handed them off to my son to enjoy in my stead!

>101 mathgirl40: I do know how lucky I am.

>102 AHS-Wolfy: Thanks.

>103 rabbitprincess: I certainly have plenty to choose from!

>104 MissWatson: I will certainly do my best to take of my gift!

>105 mysterymax: Thanks.

>106 rabbitprincess: I only thought later that I might have asked to see the kidney but, alas, not in time. I doubt they would have showed it to me. I imagine that it's a pretty pink now. Thanks for the Doctor Who pic!

>107 pammab: I will always have in the back of my mind what happened to give me this chance. I mentally thank the family for allowing me and any other recipients this second chance at life.

>108 pammab: I got the impression it was rushed to publication since I noticed a number of grammatical and spelling errors. Also, the style of writing made it difficult for me to follow.

There certainly were no silver linings in this book. Wolff was chronicling the misadventures of the administration and the choices made to staff the West Wing. Bannon was a particularly odious character. The pattern continues even today as the recent news of Rob Porter's spousal abuse and the administration's allowing him access without security clearance.



The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley (2018)

A Flavia deLuce Novel, No. 9

I am on my deathbed.

Ah, Flavia. Always the drama! I have enjoyed this series from the beginning and this has to be my favorite episode yet.

Grieving the loss of their father and facing a splitting up of the family, Flavia and her older sisters are taken on a road trip by their father's close friend, Dogger. Dogger and their father had spent time in a Burmese POW camp and Dogger dedicated himself to the care of the family. He had a special understanding of the precocious Flavia. On a boat ride which was chosen to pass by the notorious site of three unsolved murders, Flavia, trailing her hand in the water managed to snag another body. Dogger could not have better planned a distraction for her.

This adventure brings Flavia the most danger she has faced yet.

110rabbitprincess
Feb 9, 6:17pm Top

>109 mamzel: I agree, this was a great book in the series. Flavia sounded more like herself, if that makes any sense.

111hailelib
Feb 9, 10:08pm Top

Good news on the transplant. Hope your recovery continues to go well.

112mysterymax
Feb 10, 10:54am Top

Good news about Flavia. My book just came. I have one to read before I jump into Flavia's adventure, but I'm looking forward to it. >110 rabbitprincess: I totally understand your comment.

113threadnsong
Feb 10, 7:09pm Top

Wow! I've been away from LT for about two weeks, and I am especially glad to hear that you are well on the road to recovery. Yes, it is hard to know that with a transplant . . . but you have an extraordinary new life ahead of you. And you are definitely making the best decision possible and asking all of your LT followers to take care of their bodies.

And thanks also for your honest review of Wolff's book. I've been debating reading it just because it's so hard to watch this drama unfold.

114LittleTaiko
Feb 13, 9:52am Top

I'm catching up on threads and finally read your big news. Happy to hear that all is going well with the new kidney. So, does this mean no sushi ever or just while the new kidney gets adapted? If it's ever then I definitely I understand the disappointment. I would probably shed some tears however for a new kidney and an improved life then it would be worth it.

115VivienneR
Feb 13, 4:44pm Top

Just catching up on threads (and getting distracted by BBs) when I came to your fabulous news! I'm so glad that everything went so well and you are on the road to recovery. Kudos to your son (and daughter) for taking care of you so well.

Great review of Fire and Fury! I'm way down the list of holds at the library. You will probably have a new president by the time my name surfaces!

And I love your review of The Grave's a Fine and Private Place. Flavia's my favourite sleuth.

116sirfurboy
Feb 15, 5:39am Top

>98 mamzel: Nice review of Fire and Fury. I don't think your bias showed in the review. The points you pick up on are simply public record: Trump's presidency seems to lunge from disaster to disaster - so much so that we lose track of just how many extraordinary things we have witnessed.

Someone really should have confiscated his phone!

117mamzel
Feb 16, 12:31pm Top

>116 sirfurboy: Thanks for that. However, I feel that his 'base' would probably argue that this is a perfectly acceptable way to run a country. I wish we could declare his tweets as terrorist propaganda and give Twitter a reason for closing it and blocking him from any more tweets!

118clue
Feb 16, 2:53pm Top

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

I'm headed for the library this afternoon and will check on the newest Flavia. I want to be girl chemist in my next life!

119lkernagh
Feb 16, 6:54pm Top

Taking advantage of some slow time at work to get caught up. Joining everyone else with speedy recovery and good health wishes!

120mamzel
Feb 17, 12:53pm Top

>18 rabbitprincess: Thanks! I hope it's available and you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

>119 lkernagh: Gotta love that slow time! Thanks for your good wishes.

121-Eva-
Feb 21, 7:25pm Top

>96 mamzel:
Holy moly! Joining in the sending of best wishes for speedy recovery. That's not a tiny little surgery to go through, but well worth not having to do dialysis anymore. I do envy the 3-month book-and-Netflix break, but none of the other. :) Well done being brave!!

122mamzel
Feb 22, 12:30pm Top

>121 -Eva-: Thanks, Eva!

123mamzel
Feb 22, 12:38pm Top

Argghh! Our furnace died last night. Trying to get a new one. Funnily enough my husband loaned me his space heater last night because I commented that my room was cold. It has outside walls on three sides and the only vent in the room is right in front of a sliding glass door. What genius thought that was a good idea?

124Roro8
Feb 22, 2:22pm Top

>96 mamzel:, wishing you the perfect recovery too. It's nice that you have such love and support around you.
Regarding your cold room and the vent, you do have to wonder what people are thinking sometimes. Is it a better room for summer ?

125mamzel
Feb 23, 12:51pm Top

One of the things I used to do when it got very hot was hose down one of those exterior walls until the water didn't immediately evaporate. It helped to cool down the room tout de suite! We don't have AC so I have a fan. I also take a cool shower before going to bed. The day/night temperatures in this part of the state can vary as much as 30 degrees so if it's 90° during the day it can drop to 60° at night. So if I fall asleep outside my covers, guaranteed I'll wake to pull the covers over me. I'm not complaining, however. There is no humidity associated with the heat so it is easy to cool off.

Thanks for your good wishes. I am indeed fortunate to have a wonderful husband and son to take care of me.

126VioletBramble
Mar 4, 11:02am Top

I'm finally catching up on threads this weekend so I'm late reading your news. Congratulations on your new kidney! I hope your recovery is going well and that you and your new kidney have a long, healthy life together. As someone who also has to avoid the sun due to medication I can say find clothing that acts as an SPF, buy wide brimmed hats and the highest SPF sun screen you can find. Portable shade - like a sunscreen umbrella or even a regular umbrella- is great when you have to be out somewhere without natural areas of shade.

There's no way I could read Fire and Fury. Just watching the news makes me so angry I have trouble falling asleep. I can only watch the news in the morning now.

127mamzel
Mar 4, 12:48pm Top

>126 VioletBramble: I do have a hat I wear and I have to wear a mask when I'm outside. I don't have to worry about covering up these days since the temperature is usually in the high 40s and 50s when I go out. I stole one of my husbands old work shirts for when the temperature goes into the 60s. I'll look for an umbrella when it gets hotter.

As you can see from my lack of postings that I haven't been doing much reading. Rather, I have, but from several different books and none have been finished. I have The Black Tower by Louis Bayard on audio (read by Simon Vance - my favorite narrator), The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley on my Kindle, and a library book The Darling Dahlias and the Texas Star by Susan Wittig Albert. I am making the most progress in the audio book which I listen to on my walks. Yesterday I started off on my walk and didn't make it far before it started hailing and I hustled back home. It seems that something I'm taking is affecting my vision which makes it difficult to read for very long. I will ask the doctor if it's temporary, might become worse, or would it make sense to have an exam and get new glasses. It's time for one any way.

Otherwise, my new kidney is working like a champ.

We got a new furnace and as is typical, found out we needed all new ducting and when things dry up we'll have to install a sump pump since the crawl space under the house is a lake. When one thing goes wrong, several other things crop up.

I know what you mean about the news. I also only watch the morning news. There's always something these days that makes me yell, "What?!?"

Oh, well. Time for my walk. It's partly cloudy and cool. No rain.

128mamzel
Mar 10, 3:36pm Top



On my walks I have found that the gorgeous California poppy is popping up all over. I love their cheerful orange. It must be a pain but I have noticed when they mow the grass on the medians they go around the poppies (state law?). Mustard is also in bloom and many vineyards are yellow with them.





The Black Tower by Louis Bayard, narrated by Simon Vance (2009)

13 Thermidor Year II
1st meeting with prisoner: shortly after 1 A.M. Prisoner alone in cell. Dinner had not been eaten. Nor breakfast.


In the same vein as The Man in the Iron Mask and the story of Anastasia Romanov, this story is about a man found in prison, beaten, ill, and starving and could be a member of royalty.

Chapter 1
I'm a man of a certain age - old enough to be every kind of fool - and I find to my surprise that the only counsel I have to pass on is this: Never let your name be found in a dead man's trousers.


The narrator is Dr. Hector Carpentier. He is visited one night by a smelly beggar who turns out to be a police detective named Eugene Vidocq (a real historical figure). A man who had been interested in a prisoner was found dead with the doctor's name and address in his pocket. Together they manage to get this man out of prison. They believe he could be Charles, the son of King Louis and Marie Antoinette. Hector's father was Charles' doctor before the Revolution. Together they rehabilitate this man and reunite him to his sister. However, not everyone is pleased and welcoming to a member of royalty.

Vidocq was one of the first criminologists who realized that finger prints could be instrumental in identifying guilty people. He loved changing his appearance which might make him one of the first undercover detectives as well.

This book was narrated by the incomparable Simon Vance who always sounds like he is relating a story and never like he is reading a book.

I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction.

129pammab
Mar 10, 10:01pm Top

The poppies are gorgeous and the Black Tower seems like it would be full of dry wit! I'm also very glad to see you're feeling strong and recovering, even if your eyes are now a bit wonky. I hope that an eye exam will be enough to fix it and get them back right.

130rabbitprincess
Mar 11, 10:27am Top

The Black Tower sounds great for many reasons! Will have to add it to the TBR.

131mamzel
Mar 11, 2:23pm Top

>129 pammab: The wit comes in as Vidocq surprises the good doctor with his disguises. Also, a little humor comes in with the doctor's specialty - syphilis, believe it or not.

>130 rabbitprincess: He also wrote The Pale Blue Eye which featured Edgar Allen Poe as a cadet in West Point Academy. I also enjoyed this one.

132Jackie_K
Mar 11, 5:04pm Top

>128 mamzel: What beautiful poppies! We could really do with some of their colour round here, it's far too grey still!

133mysterymax
Mar 12, 11:06am Top

You're breaking my heart with all the lovely flowers. I still have two feet of snow and another storm is coming up the pipe.

134mamzel
Mar 12, 1:07pm Top

>132 Jackie_K: and >133 mysterymax: It feels like things start blooming earlier and earlier every year. I've already seen fruit or nut trees blooming in the orchards along Hwy 80. We're expecting a lovely sunny day today with a high of 60° but the rest of the week will be cloudy and rainy. I gotta get my son to mow the weeds today!

Got another book finished this morning.



The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (2017)

Although I hadn't been shot at for years, it took me a long time to understand that the bang wasn't artillery.

I don't remember what enticed me to buy this Kindle book. The cover was pretty cool. The story is narrated by Merrick Tremayne, the grandson of a man who had explored Peru's interior. Merrick is persuaded to return to Peru even though he is recovering from a leg injury to try and sneak some cuttings from the chinchona tree from which quinine is derived. In the mid-1860s this treatment for malaria was vital for all the colonization of tropical countries in progress. He is going under the guise of looking for new coffee varieties that are frost resistant.

He struggles up the mountains dealing with the pain in his leg and altitude sickness. He finally gets to a place where the paths and roads are made of glass and there are living stone statues and pollen which glows when stirred up. There are also trees that explode when exposed to fire. He meets a priest named Rafael who suffers from catalepsy, he falls asleep in an instant for an indeterminate length of time from half of an hour to years.

The story kind of dragged for me and I never really bonded with the main character. I think I didn't realize there was a fantasy side to the story and was expecting just historical fiction.

135Helenliz
Mar 12, 1:15pm Top

>128 mamzel: the black tower sounds like a good read, will look out for that one.
Love the poppies, so very cheery.

136Jackie_K
Mar 12, 2:25pm Top

>134 mamzel: Yes - even here I noticed the gorse bushes started flowering last month - I'm sure that last year I had noticed it in March and thought that was early!

137virginiahomeschooler
Mar 12, 10:12pm Top

>134 mamzel: Its funny. I have this on my Amazon Wishlist, and I don't even remember adding it or why I would have. I'm thinking maybe I'll remove it.

138mamzel
Mar 12, 11:46pm Top

<135> I hope that reading it is as enjoyable as listening to it.

But according to the head of the EPA there is no such thing as global warming, right?

at least you didn’t pay for it yet!

139christina_reads
Mar 14, 10:59am Top

>128 mamzel: Glad to see your positive review of The Black Tower! I've owned it for years but haven't gotten around to reading it yet...looks like I should bump it higher up my TBR list!

140mamzel
Mar 14, 12:34pm Top

>139 christina_reads: I'm a fan of historical fiction and since this one takes place in France it really fit my bill! Hope you enjoy it too, when you get to it.

141lkernagh
Mar 18, 11:08pm Top

Sorry to read about the furnace wows but love the review of The Black Tower. Bayard is easily one of my favorite writers. He brings such vivid clarity to his stories.

142mamzel
Mar 19, 1:25pm Top

>141 lkernagh: Our new furnace is working very well. Not only is it way more efficient than the old one (from 1976!) but it is quieter. We're having some cool temps (low in the 30s, highs in the 60s) and it is very welcome.

I returned books to the library (including the not-finished Darling Dahlias book) and found the latest Louise Penny sitting on the shelf like it was waiting for me. I'm really enjoying it so far. My audio book is Dawn of Wonder by Jonathon Renshaw, a whopping 29.5 hours long. It should take me through many more days of walking. I don't remember when, but I had started it some time ago and picked something else.



Our fruit trees are in bloom. This picture happens to be of peach trees. I heard that the celebration of cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. was delayed a week. Tomorrow is the first day of spring so hopefully they'll come out soon. We've got a break today but are getting more rain this week. Yesterday we had a couple of hail storms.

143-Eva-
Mar 19, 5:43pm Top

>142 mamzel:
That so beautiful!

144thornton37814
Mar 19, 7:30pm Top

>142 mamzel: Those trees are lovely! They'll be even lovelier when bearing peaches!

145mysterymax
Edited: Mar 20, 1:32pm Top

Spring? Humbug. It's 10 degrees (F) and there's mounds of snow. I'm thinking perhaps in May?

146DeltaQueen50
Mar 20, 3:03pm Top

>142 mamzel: I love that picture of the flowering peach trees, it's gorgeous. Our ornamental cherry and plum trees are blooming now but the real fruit trees won't be blooming until May.

147Helenliz
Mar 20, 4:43pm Top

>142 mamzel: that's a lovely picture. None of that round here yet either...

148mamzel
Mar 22, 3:49pm Top

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain. (Not bragging, those of you on the East Coast!) Got a little break and saw the sun pop out. Checked the Doppler Radar program on my phone and saw a nice chance to get out and walk.



Glass House by Louis Penny (2017)

"State you name, please."
"Armand Gamache."
"And you are the head of the Sûreté de Québec?"
"The Chief Superintendent, oui."


Louise Penny has crafted a story that had me on the edge of my seat. Gamache is testifying at the trial for a murder that occurred in his second home, the tiny village of Three Pines. But he has something much bigger in the works, something that might end his career.

I love how she includes references like the Cortez strategy of burning all his ships so his men have no choice but to follow him. Also, she brings up the true (un-Disney) version of Pinocchio.

Gamache fans will love this episode of the Three Pines gang and for those of you who have not yet read this series, what are you waiting for?

149rabbitprincess
Mar 22, 6:52pm Top

Lalalalalala going to squint at your review of Glass Houses until I can retrieve my copy from my parents' place ;) I do see a very high star rating, which is good!

150mamzel
Mar 23, 12:48pm Top

>149 rabbitprincess: I don't think I gave anything away in my review. I hope you get your copy back soon!

151rabbitprincess
Mar 23, 6:00pm Top

>150 mamzel: I should be able to pick it up in May, on my next visit :)

152thornton37814
Mar 24, 7:41pm Top

>148 mamzel: That one is on the agenda soon so I'll be up-to-date when the 2018 one releases in September.

153mamzel
Edited: Mar 30, 5:25pm Top

Spring and beautiful weather has returned to my area along with balloons. A few people complain about them passing over head and their annoying sounds from their burners and people enjoying the view of our backyards. Poor babies. Talk about a first world problem!



I've managed to complete a couple of short books, both off the shelf.



Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs (2005)
A Tea Shop Mystery

Since the Weatherman at Channel 8 had predeicted a glorious evening, that's eactly what Theodosia Browning was expecting.

I am not a reader of cozy mysteries, I prefer the edgier stuff like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But I needed something short with larger print size and this fit the bill.

Theodosia Browning owns the Indigo Tea Shop in fashionable Charleston, SC. Women belong to different societies, are thrilled to have a new milliner's shop, and enjoy the pastries and tea offered at the tea shop. Theo is helped by pastry chef Haley and tea expert Drayton. A good amount of the book is about the treats they serve and the rare and delicious teas offered.

At a poetry reading, part of the Spoleto arts festival, the owner of a local auction house is shot and tumbles off a balcony right onto the table loaded with cake and teas. When Theo's milliner friend becomes the chief suspect, Theo is on the case.

A lot of the story is taken up by descriptions of the teas served and treats offered (recipes in the back). I think my teeth would ache if I read any more of the series (19 in all).

154mamzel
Edited: Mar 30, 5:36pm Top



Varjak Paw by SF Said, illustrated by Dave McKean (2005)

The Elder Paw was telling a story.

This was a cute kid's story with a thinly disguised coming of age theme. Varjak is a Mesopotamian Blue who lives with his family in a mansion. One day, instead of an old lady, a man with two sinister looking black cats feeds them. Sensing something is wrong, Varjak leaves his home to search for a dog to help chase them out. Thing is, he has no idea what a dog is.

When he sleeps he is visited by Jalal, another Mesopotamian Blue who teaches him the Seven Skills in the Way of Jalal. Only when he masters them is he able to achieve his goals.

The story is enhanced by drawings which reminded me of the black cats in the wonderful animated movie Gay Purr-eel

155virginiahomeschooler
Mar 30, 9:53pm Top

>153 mamzel: Oh, I'd love to watch the balloons passing by. How neat! We used to live about a mile from the end of the Norfolk Navy base's runway. There were always jets taking off and landing over our house, which would shake until you wondered if it was going to fall down. We only lived there for about 6 months, but it left a very loud and long-lasting impression. I'd take balloon burners any day.

156Jackie_K
Mar 31, 4:51am Top

>153 mamzel: I love seeing balloons too! What a stunning picture!

157Helenliz
Mar 31, 7:16am Top

>153 mamzel: they look lovely! Some people seem determined to be killjoys, no matter what. I like the idea of a balloon flight, but as I'm terrified of flying, I wonder if I'd not actually enjoy the reality.

158mamzel
Edited: Mar 31, 4:26pm Top

>155 virginiahomeschooler: Those people complained on Facebook's Next Door site. They didn't get much in the way of sympathy. When my family moved to St. Thomas in the early 60s we lived close to the runway. At that time we had turboprops which were very loud. The good thing was that they could only fly during the day.

>156 Jackie_K: They always look peaceful drifting down the valley.

>157 Helenliz: Do you think you would worry less knowing a glass of champagne awaits you at the end?

I'm going back to work next Wednesday. I can't sit around any more and I need to see what awaits me back at school.

159thornton37814
Mar 31, 5:52pm Top

>153 mamzel: I'm sorry you don't like the series. I love Charleston, and I wish the tea shop existed in real life.

160-Eva-
Apr 3, 2:01pm Top

>153 mamzel:
Haha! To me, the balloon-burners are connected with lovely, calm summer days, so you won't hear me complaining. I do sometimes think that there are people who aren't happy unless they're annoyed by something. :)

161mamzel
Apr 3, 3:06pm Top

>159 thornton37814: I've visited Charleston and the historical quarter is charming. I think the 'high society" stuff rubbed me a little wrongly.

>160 -Eva-: Exactly! They do fly early in the morning, however. Maybe they disturbed her beauty sleep.

162mamzel
Apr 6, 12:43pm Top

One of the things I'm working at today getting back into the swing of things, is unpacking new books that arrived while I was out. (At least no one tried to process them in my absence!) It's amazing how that renews one appetite for reading. I went through my Amazon account and found some books that never made it to my Kindle and I'm eager to get to them, too!

163VioletBramble
Apr 7, 8:49am Top

>154 mamzel: It took me a minute to realize why that name sounds familiar. The cat must be named after Paul Varjak -- or in the library scene: Varjak, Paul -- from Breakfast at Tiffany's.

164clue
Apr 7, 9:30am Top

I live near an airport too and our National Guard has used it for many years. We live in a small city but for some reason I don't remember the runway is exceptionally long and F16s can take off and land there. Every morning and every afternoon they would fly over and my windows would rattle. I was so used to hearing them that I didn't. Or, if they didn't fly at the time they normally did I realized it and wondered why. Then the Air Force took the F16s away and now the pilots fly drones. I guess that's exciting in a way but on the day pilots came from somewhere else and flew the planes away it was a day of mourning for us.

165mamzel
Apr 12, 3:48pm Top



The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers (2017)

Mokhtar Alkhanshali and I agree to meet in Oakland. He has just returned from Yemen, having narrowly escaped with his life.

This was a wonderful story of a young Yemeni man, full of passion and energy, who decides to return Yemen to the front of the coffee world where it was the place from which coffee originated. He had a few things to do first, like learn about coffee, learn about coffee growing, find someone to buy the coffee, find someone to financially back him, avoid being killed by insurgents, bandits, Al-Qaeda, loan sharks, diseases, etc. No problem, right?

I highly recommend this book for people who would like to learn about Yemen and coffee growing, processing, and drinking.

166mamzel
Apr 16, 3:42pm Top

I've had an interesting last couple of days. Yesterday I took advantage of a break between rain storms to do some weeding and am I paying for that today!!
I had to report for jury duty this morning. I had my Kindle with me and actually dozed. At about 10:30 the judge came in with apologies. She said they try very hard to make sure that everything is set by Friday afternoon but after 4:00 a key witness recanted so that was that and thank you all for coming and don't forget to buy your lottery tickets!
In the car I debated whether or not to go to work, feeling as sore and achy as I was. Good thing I did because the office manager's husband was there, too, and texted her as soon as they made their announcement!

167VivienneR
Apr 16, 3:47pm Top

>166 mamzel: Good decision!

168pammab
Apr 16, 10:38pm Top

>166 mamzel: Congrats on serving jury duty without having to serve! I hope you did buy a lottery ticket or at least embraced your luck -- sounds like a series of lucky incidents!

169mamzel
Apr 17, 10:42am Top

>167 VivienneR: >168 pammab: Sometimes the stars do align! When I told Monsieur about my morning (which actually started with having to have my blood drawn) he was amazed at how I got everything done. We both said at the same time, "Work ethic!"
I'm feeling better this morning, especially since I managed to sleep the whole night without waking once!

Good luck for all us Americans and taxes! Monsieur already filed for us and we had to pay a little extra. Hope many of you enjoy wonderful refunds!

170Helenliz
Apr 17, 3:18pm Top

So how does jury duty work? In the UK you have to turn up every morning for 2 weeks and you stay there until you're either called for a case or told to leave for the day. After that you're exempt for a number of years before you have to serve again, if called.

I got collared for it many years ago, and found it really interesting. I served on 3 short cases in my first week, none in the second. I also made the mistake of turning up in a suit and being elected foreman of the jury! Don't make that mistake!!

171Jackie_K
Apr 17, 4:34pm Top

>170 Helenliz: I was called for jury duty a few years ago (UK), and turned up every morning for 3 days, the first day the scheduled case I think came to some kind of plea bargain so it wasn't heard, there wasn't a case the second day, and the 3rd day when there was a case I wasn't chosen for that particular jury. So each day I was able to leave the court by 11am. After day 3 they told us to phone in the following morning (they didn't know if the day 3 case was going to finish in one day or two), which I did, no case as day 3 case was continuing, and then on day 5 when I phoned in I got a recorded message that jurors were not required for any of the next week, so I was able to go back to work earlier than I expected (and I worked from home each of the week 1 days once I was dismissed for the day). I was relieved, to be honest, but it did also feel like a colossal waste of time.

>169 mamzel: A lot of my American friends on facebook are moaning about the tax returns, am I right in thinking this is the first for a new system since the new tax legislation passed? I hope it hasn't been too painful!

172mamzel
Apr 17, 5:23pm Top

>170 Helenliz: A pool of names is chosen by random from a database that is compiled from people with driver's licenses and/or voter registration. The Friday before the week you're to serve, you call a number or go online to check your status. You can either be excused, on hold and have to call back on Monday, or told to report on Monday morning. Once you've actually had to report you are exempt for one year (whether or not you actually sit on a jury). You must hang on to the work excuse paper they give you on the off chance you get called to serve on a federal jury. Your year of freedom counts there too. I've never had this pleasure.

If you are called you could serve on either a civil or criminal case.

Many people consider jury duty a curse but they need to be reminded that everyone is constitutionally guaranteed a speedy trial by a jury of their peers and they should be so lucky, if they are sitting in the defendant's seat, to have a jury as qualified and educated as they themselves are.

173mamzel
Apr 17, 5:38pm Top

>171 Jackie_K: A colossal waste of time, yes, but please feel good that you did your civic duty. We could be living in one of those counties where one could be convicted, sentenced and executed without even a semblance of a fair trial. (I'm one of those unbearable looking-on-the-bright-side people.)

Every year, I think, there are always little changes. We use a computer program (Turbotax) that is updated every year and makes things easy/easier. I don't think the tax reforms impacted us poor little taxpayers; it just benefitted the big corporations by giving them even more breaks than they already had. May I guess that these people are the kind that complain every year (and waited until the last minute)?

174Helenliz
Apr 18, 1:39am Top

>171 Jackie_K: I certainly went armed with a book! My jury duty was ~ 20 years ago now. I remember the second week we had to call in each afternoon to find if we were needed the next day. Having got to serve on a number of cases, I found it really interesting. However, had I not been called, it would have been quite dull.

>172 mamzel: True. If we don't put ourselves out, we'll end up being judged by those that do have time on their hands, and (having met some of them) I'm not sure I'd trust their ability to make a balanced judgment.

175mamzel
Apr 18, 1:40pm Top



Far from the Tree by Robin Benway (2017)

Grace hadn't really thought too much about homecoming.

This story illustrates the unique hopes and fears experienced by kids who are adopted or are in the foster care system. They may have trust issues, may fear being abandoned a second time, may be afraid to get too close to people if their placement is temporary, etc. These are seen through the eyes of three children of a woman who could not support them: Joaquin (the oldest, in foster care), Grace (adopted, just gave up her own baby for adoption), and Maya (adopted with a sister born to her parents just after they adopted her).

I really grew to like this trio and rooted for them, that they would enjoy their relationships without fear of losing their families. I hoped Joaquin would be able to learn to trust others and himself, that Grace would be able to live with her decision, and that Maya would accept that she looked so different from the others in her family.

This was not a sob story but one full of love and mutual support.

176clue
Edited: Apr 18, 9:52pm Top

>169 mamzel: No, the changes made recently by Pres Trump and Congress did not affect this year's tax returns, that happens next year. If what they say is true it should simplify filing taxes.

I volunteer doing taxes for people over 60 free and I was so glad I didn't work the last day. The day before was bad enough for me! The craziest things come up, like one man couldn't decide if he was married to the woman he lives with, and most people that have procrastinated don't have what they need to file. They get so irate when we tell them they need to go home and get whatever. I worked 10 hours that next to last day and as I do every year I swore I'd never do it again!

The problem at IRS was that their antiquated system couldn't handle the volume. Of course, no one that waited until the last day thought they should be inconvenienced! I read that last year over 21 million people filed the last week.

177mamzel
Apr 19, 10:48am Top

>176 clue: Thanks for the info. At least the "last day" only comes once a year!

178mamzel
Apr 19, 12:17pm Top



Siddhartha by Herman Hesse (1951)

In the shade of the house, in the sunshine on the river bank by the boats, in the shade of the sallow wood and the fig tree, Siddhartha, the handsome Brahmin's son, grew up with his friend Govinda.

This book is used as a textbook here in my school and I have waited too long to pick it up.

It's very short which will make it easy to come back to it and reread it over and over, for this is that kind of a book.

Siddhartha is a young man who leaves his home with his childhood friend to try and learn about his place in the world. He starts by becoming a Samana, a wandering ascetic, gives up everything he owns and learns to control his own body by facing hunger, heat, cold, and discomfort. Along the way he crosses paths with the Buddha. His friend stays to learn from the Buddha but Siddhartha feels he has to learn on his own and leaves. He meets many people and ends up with a ferryman who teaches him to listen to the river. It is here he finds his inner peace.

Funnily enough, I thought of The Little Prince while I was reading this book.

179mamzel
Apr 21, 1:06pm Top



Scourged by Kevin Hearne (2018)
The Iron Druid Chronicles #9

Atticus O'Sullivan, born in 83 B.C.E. as Siodhachan Ó Suileabháin, has spent much of his long life as a Druid on the run from Aenghus Óg, one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

It was very nice of the author to give a brief synopsis of the series to date to understand how Atticus was able to attract so many enemies. Now he and the world are faced with Ragnarok, the Apocalypse.

I'm afraid I didn't enjoy this as much as I wanted. Somehow the action fell a little flat. I didn't feel any breathlessness one would expect from so much death and destruction. There was one bit of a surprise but even that was negated in the end.

Overall, I enjoyed the series and loved the varied characters (especially Oberon - I'm a sucker for communicating dogs). I loved the originality of the magic and the inclusion of all the most famous pantheons and some less well known. One of the most marvelous touches is the contact the Druid has with the earth, drawing power and healing from direct contact, and communicating with various regions.

If you have read and enjoyed the series, please do not be dissuaded from reading this by my comments.

180-Eva-
Apr 24, 2:30pm Top

>179 mamzel:
Yeah, I'm not giving up on the goal life - definitely will read this too!

181mamzel
Apr 25, 6:02pm Top



The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides by Ben Tripp (2014)

Gentle Reader, This story contains nearly as many dark deeds, treacherous villains, and acts of violence as one might expect to find in a typical morning newspaper. In addition, there is a significant emphasis on heathen magic and demoniacal doings. I cannot recommend that anyone read it.


This book was a true breath of fresh air. I found myself smiling to myself the whole time I read it. Through all the action and danger it remained sweet and, I hesitate to use the word, cute.

There were lots of ancient words thrown in with footnotes to explain them Words like weskit (waistcoat), redingote (riding coat), tatterdemalion (raggedy fellow), slubberdegullion (wretch), and more.

Well, I thought I was in for another argument, and filled my chest with air to expend upon my defense, but the sharp words didn't come. Instead, she looked up at me and smiled her radiant, secret smile, the one that bewitched me. I thought to myself, This must be what warm toast feels like when butter melts into it.


Awwwwwwwww!

Sometimes I recalled Lemony Snicket's style and was frequently reminded of The Princess Bride. In any case, if you want a change from the all-too-common angst and anger, visit this book. Please note, it is the first of a series.

182mamzel
Apr 30, 1:40pm Top



Dawn of Wonder by Jonathan Renshaw (audio version 2016), narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
The Wakening, Book 1

29 hours, 36 min.

I listen to my audio books when I walk and when I'm in my car so when I was able to obtain a reasonably priced version of this one was available, I jumped on it. I was not disappointed. The problem with borrowing audiobooks from the library is that one cannot renew it. It vanishes from one's device and one can only hope that no one else has requested it so it can be downloaded again immediately.

Aeden is a young man from a humble background who itches for adventure. He gets himself accepted into the royal academy to be trained as a marshall. He is the type who takes a warning to not go somewhere as a dare to go there and see why. He finds some amazing things in the lower levels of the academy.

The book version is over 1700 pages but it actually didn't seem that long. Renshaw has a gift in keeping the reader/listener engaged in the story and invested in the characters. Tim Gerard Reynolds did a wonderful job with the voices and accents of the characters. I will certainly continue with this series after I finish a few other audiobooks I already have. Or later in the summer, whichever.

I recommend this book for lovers of epic fantasy.

183mamzel
Apr 30, 7:00pm Top



No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (2005)

I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville. One and only one. My arrest and my testimony.

Reading this book was like watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. (I did not watch the movie version of this book.) Lots of bad guys and lots of violence. But through it all was the sheriff narrating the story and offering his impressions about the events and the participants.

Moss was out in the Texan desert hunting when he came across a scene of a botched drug deal. He helps himself to some of the weapons and a bag full of money, leaving the Mexican heroine for someone else to deal with. One of the victims wasn't quite dead and asked for water. Moss didn't have any. He took his loot home then guilt overcame him and he returned with some water. In the meantime someone else had discovered the scene and the missing money. Moss was now on the run with some very, very bad men and the law after him.

I also read All the Pretty Horses by McCarthy and loved it. It was a terrific coming-of-age story, less violent than this one. McCarthy has a wonderful way of writing dialogue that mirrors the sparse way that country people speak. No quotation marks, little punctuation, no so-and-so said (which sometimes makes it difficult to figure out who is talking. The sheriff reminded me of Longmire with his low key and thoughtful approach to the investigation.

If you haven't read any of his books yet, give them a try. They're truly American fiction!

184mysterymax
Apr 30, 7:21pm Top

A BB for The Accidental Highwayman. It sounds exactly like the kind of book I need right now.

185mamzel
May 1, 10:44am Top

>184 mysterymax: You'll love it!

186mamzel
May 13, 2:33pm Top

Around this time of year it is common to see the combination of purple lupines and the orange poppies blooming together alongside the road. Stunning!



I have been on a roll with some excellent books. I am most excited to share my review of this one with everyone!



Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan (2018)

Like all the pharaohs, emperors, and tyrants before him, Il Duce had seen his empire rise only to crumble. Indeed, by that late-spring afternoon, power was bleeding from Benito Mussolini's grasp like joy from a young widowed heart.

When I saw comments about this book I was pretty sure it should be in my high school's library. To be sure I bought it and read it before adding it to the catalog. I am happy to report that it is perfectly appropriate for teens and I highly recommend it to teens and adults alike!

This book was written like historical fiction but was based on real people and events.

Pino Lella lived with his parents and younger brother in Milan during World War II. Bombs began to rain down on Milan so his father sent him to a camp in the mountains run by a priest. There he grew strong climbing the Alps and following ancient trails which crossed into Switzerland. Soon enough he was guiding Jews across to safety. Just before he turned 18 his father called him back to Milan and told him to enlist in the German army. The reason was that if he had joined the Italian army he would have been nothing but cannon fodder but now he could choose which branch he wished to served. He joined the Organization Todt which was responsible for gathering supplies for the German army (at gunpoint or worse), clearing roads and digging caverns (with Italian workers treated no better than slaves).

Pino was injured in a bombing and was allowed to recover in Milan. One day he found a young man trying to repair a large Daimler. With Pino's help he was able to get it going again. The car was for General Hans Leyers, the third highest ranking officer in Germany (and sitting on Hitler's left hand as he always said). When the general discovered Pino's engineering skills and ability to speak French, he hired Pino on the spot. Pino now served as his chauffeur and translator, perfect for reporting sensitive information to the resistance.

Leyers was a mysterious figure in history. He somehow managed to get the Americans to believe he was helping them. Pino witnessed him pulling four children off a train to Auschwitz and handing them over to the Cardinal but he also saw work crews digging a tunnel and how they were inhumanly treated by the men under Leyers' command. Was he creating a false history of himself to survive whatever happened in the end of the war?

This was a thrilling page turner which ended with a car drive that rivals any chase scene in movies today. Lovers of historical fiction and biographies will love it!

187mamzel
May 14, 12:57pm Top

Saturday my friend and I went to a retirement seminar (more for her than me) and went to lunch at a pub style restaurant. The busboy asked my friend if she was still eating. Before she could swallow the food in her mouth to answer before he whisked away her salad. He didn't even look at her face. Care to hazard a guess if we're going back there again?

188VivienneR
May 14, 2:07pm Top

I hope you left a comment! It seems restaurants don't train busboys in customer relations as much as they do for other staff who have direct contact with customers.

189LittleTaiko
May 14, 5:28pm Top

>186 mamzel: - My book club read this earlier in the year and enjoyed it. It should make for a really good movie if it's done properly.

190mamzel
May 14, 6:11pm Top

>188 VivienneR: I was so surprised I didn't stop him. We should have commented. I'll ask my friend if she did.

>189 LittleTaiko: I would love to see the scenes that took place in the mountains. They would be spectacular!

191christina_reads
May 16, 10:47am Top

>186 mamzel: BB for that one!

192mamzel
May 16, 11:56am Top

>191 christina_reads: Enjoy! I will look forward to seeing how you like it.

193mamzel
May 18, 11:56am Top

This is a continuation of the roll of excellent books I am enjoying!



Circe by Madeline Miller (2018)

When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.

I loved Miller's previous book, A Song of Achilles and really looked forward to this book. In fact I preordered the hard copy. I was not disappointed in the least. First of all, the cover is a metallic copper color, which doesn't show up in photos. Stunning!

I have always had a love for Roman and especially Greek mythology since fourth grade when our obsessive teacher had us read junior versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Edith Hamilton's mythology, and put on a play called The Wrath of Achilles. This appreciation, buoyed by video game storylines, has spilled over into Norse mythology as well. Reading this book has inspired me to read the Odyssey (a version which is presented in paragraphs, not verse).

The section of the Odyssey which talks about Odysseus and his men landing on Circe's island take up less than two pages. Miller has greatly expanded her story to include her childhood and life after Odysseus.

Circe was banished to the island by her father Helios and Zeus because she turned one of her nymph cousins into the monster Scylla. Her argument that the creation reflected the girl's true nature fell on deaf ears. On the island, Circe was able to expand her talent for creating potions from plants which, when combined with spoken spells, could transform animate and inanimate things.

Miller has given us a tale which show us how gods and demigods and their prodigious offspring live. I think she has demonstrated that they are just like us mere mortals except that their retributions and rewards were on a much more epic scale.

I can't recommend this book highly enough to anyone with a interest in mythology and character development.

194Helenliz
May 18, 12:10pm Top

>193 mamzel: oh good. I thoroughly enjoyed The Song of Achilles and read The Odyssey last summer. If this is even half as good as her earlier book it'll be excellent. I'm lookign forward to finding this one. Thanks for the review.

195mamzel
May 18, 2:02pm Top

>194 Helenliz: I liked it even better than TSoA - probably because the main character was a woman.

196VivienneR
May 18, 3:01pm Top

>193 mamzel: That bullet hit a bullseye! Great review!

197mamzel
Edited: May 22, 11:24am Top



The Odyssey by Homer (originally put to paper during 8th century BC), translation by George Herbert Palmer

Famous first line - Tell of the storm-tossed man, O Muse, who wandered long after he sacked the sacred citadel of Troy.

As I stated in my review for Circe: A Novel I had only ever read this in a junior version when I was in fourth grade. It has always piqued my interest in Greek mythology and nudged me to enjoy various books like The Greek Treasure by Irving Stone which was about Heinrich Schliemann and his discovery of the ruins of Troy and The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

I did not learn anything new from reading this. I was familiar with the main characters and plot. I'll admit to getting teary when poor ailing Argos recognized his old master. (Dogs in books get me every time!)

The translation I read was in paragraph format, not verse, which I think made it easier for me since I don't have any appreciation for poetry. The sentence structure was in a convoluted form which forced me to reread some over again to restructure them in my head.

One thing that helped me was an illustration of the axe challenge. For some reason I had imagined that there was a hole in the back of the axe (for hanging up on a wall maybe?) but the illustration by N.C. Wyeth offered in this book showed the axe face curled down to form a hole. A search for "axe challenge" in Google images showed a lot of different interpretations. I also think that I had always assumed they were wood-cutting axes, not weapons.



I'm glad I finally read this. I probably should have tried to read The Iliad after reading Miller's The Song of Achilles but I didn't. I wonder what her next project will be.

198lkernagh
May 23, 2:17pm Top

>183 mamzel: - Great review and plug for Cormac McCarthy! I love his stories, even if they are not always comfortable reading. ;-)

>187 mamzel: - Not a good restaurant experience. Definitely not someone one would expect to happen, especially as he had asked a question, so should have waited for the response!

199mamzel
May 25, 3:55pm Top



Best wishes to all you veterans and families thereof.

200mamzel
May 30, 1:44pm Top



The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, narrated by Scott Merriman (2017) DNF

I gave up on listening to this at Chapter 26 of 61 (732 print pages). One of the main problems I had with this audio was the narrator who annunciated. Every. Single. Consonant. I found it jarring and unmusical and could never get used to it.

The story is a kind of "Lord of the Flies" theme and takes place in a school/home for disabled kids. We rarely see any supporting adults and the girls' side of the school is pretty much ignored. The boys form their own groups and give each other nicknames ("nics") based on their disability or habit.

I couldn't perceive any plot and found it pretty dismal.



Season of Storms by Andrezej Sapkowski (2018)

It lived only to kill.

Happiness is more adventures with Geralt! I have long been a big fan of both the book series and the video games and am looking forward to the CGI version to someday appear on Netflix.

Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher who, as a boy, underwent painful and dangerous mutations to enhance his strength and abilities. Survivors of this transformation travel around taking jobs to take care of pesky monsters. They carry two swords, one silver for monsters and one of steel because some monsters are human. A side effect of his mutations is an inability to show emotions but he does feel love, anger, etc. Through his stories he has stood up for the downtrodden and loved beautiful women. His one true love is the beautiful sorceress Yennifer of Vandeburg who does not appear in this book. For the most part.

In this episode, Geralt is hunting down a sorcerer who is creating some murderous monsters (as if there aren't already enough) and his creations. He has his swords stolen and spends most of the book trying to hunt down the thief and his swords. This hunt is naturally made more difficult by the lack of swords. His friend, the bard Dandelion, buys him one but it's just not the same.

Geralt gets involved with Coral, a sorceress with a wicked sense of vengeance. In the game, Witcher III, she turns men into statuettes. I don't remember her appearing in any of the books which makes me wonder how much collaboration there is between the writers of the games and the author of the books since events and people in the games are now appearing in the books. In any case, it's cool by me!

201-Eva-
Jun 3, 9:27pm Top

>197 mamzel:
I read that in verse at University and loved it - once you get into the rhythm of the story, it's quite enjoyable.

>200 mamzel:
I picked up a freebie copy of The Gray House on Kindle - hope the "paper" version is better than the audio...

202mamzel
Jun 4, 1:51pm Top

>201 -Eva-: I tried the verse version and couldn't get into it. Good on you for managing!

I don't know if I'd enjoy the book version much better. I look forward to your comments.

203mamzel
Edited: Jun 4, 1:53pm Top



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This topic was continued by MAMZEL in 2018, Episode 2.

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