rosalita jumps a little higher in 2017: verse 11
This is a continuation of the topic rosalita jumps a little higher in 2017: verse 10.
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Did you know the “super moon” was Sunday night? That’s when the full moon coincides with the moon being closest to the earth in its orbit. It was really beautiful as you can see here in this photo of the Old Capitol on the University of Iowa campus. I’ve really enjoyed introducing you to the beauty of my campus on my threads this year; I hope you’ve enjoyed it, too.
The book-reading slump I fell into in the last two months of 2016 may be the way of the future, which is OK. I’m going to continue reading books of all sorts (fiction, nonfiction, mystery, history, science fiction/fantasy), maybe fewer but hopefully better. (Better does not mean Serious, or Literary, or any such thing. It just means, you know, Better.)
And because I do a lot of reading outside of books, I’m going to also “review” some of that as well, which just means I’m going to be dropping some links and comments to articles I come across that I find interesting, amusing, or thought-provoking. Perhaps you will, too! None of the non-book reading will count toward my 75-book total, of course.
About those stars:
My system for assigning star ratings to books has evolved over the years, but this chart comes the closest to describing what I consider when I rate a book.
Breathtaking. This book may not be perfect, but it was perfect for me.
Not quite perfect, but I will actively recommend this book to friends.
A really great book with minor flaws, still highly recommended.
Better than average but some flaws. Recommended.
Entertaining but probably forgettable, not worth re-reading. Recommended only for fans of the genre or author.
Readable but something about the story, characters or writing was not up to standards. Not recommended.
Finished but did not like, and would not recommend.
Some redeeming qualities made me finish it, but nothing to recommend.
Nearly no redeeming qualities. Really rather bad.
Could not finish, possibly destroyed by fire (unless it's a library book)
Wow, have I fallen behind in sharing my book reviews with you all! Between the Joplin Meet-up last Tuesday and taking the rest of the week off work, I've been occupied away from the computer. But I've still been reading, and I'll start to catch up here. But first, a belated report from Joplin:
Our intrepid group (clockwise from bottom left): Stasia's daughter Beth, Nancy, Sandy, me, Terri, Donna, Stasia. This was lunch at the Red Onion Cafe, which is always fantastic and an earned reward after the hard work of shopping for books! Speaking of which ...
These are all mine:
* Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
* The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea (highly recommended by Donna)
* Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons (I thought I had read all of Rivers Siddons books, but it turns out I hadn't)
* Live By Night by Dennis Lehane (one of my favorite gritty authors; this one is set in Boston in 1926 during Prohibition)
* The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter (I enjoyed Walter's Beautiful Ruins when I read it a couple of years ago)
* Room by Emma Donoghue (I checked the LT app again and again because I was almost sure I already had this one, but if I do I've never catalogued it and I have no idea where it is, so I grabbed this one)
It was so wonderful to see everyone again, though I do wish the drive was just a little bit shorter. Tuesday night those of us staying over in Joplin had a fabulous dinner at a Mexican restaurant called Habaneros, which we had first found a couple of years ago. It was just as good this time around, too.
Whoohoo! A new thread. With meetup pictures, books and a Super Moon! And that is only two posts in! Way to start it off with a bang. : )
Great book haul and lovely meet-up photo.
I saw the super moon and it was actually a clear enough night to see it. Lovely.
Happy New Thread, Julia!
Happy new thread, Julia! Love the meet-up photos, and I've definitely enjoyed your campus photos this year. Iowa City is such a cool place (so perfect for the likes of you).
Happy new one, Julia! The super moon was mostly obscured by clouds here, but I caught a brief glimpse...
Happy new one, Julia! We also saw the super moon - I have a fascination with the moon and love to see it when it is full and gorgeous. Your Joplin meet-up always sounds so fun - thanks for sharing. And a very nice haul!
Happy new thread! We had some good views of the moon through and rising above the trees behind our house. Didn't have the right equipment to get a good picture, though.
Happy new thread, Julia! Quite a stunner of a topper you have here. We were driving home around 4:30 pm and saw the moon begin to rise out of the horizon. Gorgeous and as bright as a sunset. Do I think to take a pic? Of course not! Grrrr.
>6 scaifea: Thanks, Amber! It's true; Iowa City is a cool place for lots of people. ;-)
>7 katiekrug: We had alarmingly nice weather over the weekend, but that's over now. Still no snow in the forecast, at least. Congrats on the Giants getting rid of their moron coach and GM.
>8 Crazymamie: Few things make me happier than a good full moon, Mamie. Did I tell you that I am on the library hold list for Sudden Mischief? The last week is kind of a blur. I'm looking forward to comparing notes with you and Roberta.
>9 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! I will confess that that is not my photo in the thread topper. The university posted it on Twitter and I grabbed it. Much better than I could have managed with my phone!
>10 Carmenere: I am never situated to take a picture at those times, Lynda! I guess I'm not used to always having a camera in my pocket; I remember the days when you had to drag a bulky thing around with you if you wanted to take photos!
Happy New Thread, Julia!
Love that Super Moon photo posted by the University! Really great.
Ours was more mysterious - lots of hazy clouds, so it was more of a huge, glowing ball.
And the meetup photo! Your thread is already off to a great start.
I do a lot of reading outside of books. Yes - I love the idea of your posting more about that reading you do.
I first noticed the incredible moon on Saturday evening but didn't know it was a "super moon". I called it a "harvest moon". Whatever it's called, it was spectacular!
Happy new thread - lovely pic of the super moon.
Nice book haul.
Thanks for the picture of the meet-up.
>12 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe! Clickbait links have been piling up like crazy while I've been away. I'm glad you like them; I enjoy the conversations they generate.
>13 RebaRelishesReading: It really was, Reba.
>14 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I think your semester is winding down, too? Next week is the last week of classes for us, then finals week after that and then, FINALLY, winter break.
A City Destroyed: Experience the Halifax Explosion, 100 Years Later — This is a fantastic interactive graphic story from the CBC that explores both the causes and the aftermath of the huge explosion in the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1917. (Probably the most well-known book about this incident is Blizzard of Glass by Sally Walker.) I loved exploring all the bits and pieces of the story and seeing it all laid out on a 3D map and animated re-enactment of the collision of the two ships. Pro tip: If you click on the three horizontal lines icon at the top left of the opening page, you can see links to other related stories. (via CBC)
Halifax provides the City of Boston's Christmas tree every year, as a token of thanks for Boston's help in the aftermath of the explosion. I always thought that was nice :)
>19 rosalita: Ha! You sure are! I'm not going to close my laptop and GET BACK TO WORK. No thanks to you. Sheer will power, baby. Just watch me. Any minute now...
Hi Julia, great opening to your new thread. It looks like the Joplin Get-Together was a hit. I lived in Halifax in the early 1950's, so young that I barely remember, but I remember enough to know that explosion was well remembered.
Hi Julia, Happy new thread my dear and a great thread topper photo of the super moon and then the great meet up photos, looks like you had a really good time dear friend. Sending love and hugs and hope you are having a good week so far.
Happy new thread, amazing moon photo, and fascinating thing about Halifax. Not bad for 27 posts. :)
Happy newest thread!
I didn't succumb to the clickbait. Mwa ha ha, I can resist!
Howdy Julia! Looks like you had a great meetup. Your book haul looks great. The Devil's Highway is on my wishlist.
>33 luvamystery65: Thanks, Ro! Donna says it’s excellent, and Donna has never steered me wrong!
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Everyone who's anyone is coming out with their "best books of the year" lists. Here are a few I have bookmarked over the past few days. If you've found others, please share them with me!
100 Notable Books of 2017 — (via The New York Times)
Best Books of 2017: Part One — (via The Guardian; the page also has a link to Part Two)
NPR's 2017 Book Concierge — (via National Public Radio)
Best Books of 2017 — (via Esquire magazine)
Top 10 Novels of 2017 — (via Time magazine)
Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2017 — (via Time magazine)
Top 10 Young Adult/Children's Books of 2017 — (via Time magazine)
Your Ultimate Guide to Holiday Books — (via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Best Books of 2017 — (via The Washington Post)
You are very welcome, Katie! It's my favorite "best books" discovery tool.
Thank you for this memorable photograph!
Madison, Wisconsin, was mostly clouds before bedtime.
69. The Black Echo by Michael Connelly.
I’ve read and enjoy Connelly’s series about The Lincoln Lawyer, and while Harry Bosch, the LAPD detective who is the main character here, makes occasional appearances in that series, I hadn’t felt compelled to seek him out in his own milieu. Then Joanne started reading the Bosch books and writing favorable reviews and well, here I am, starting another dang series.
To be fair to Joanne, it’s pretty good. Harry is a good character and the mystery was absorbing. I kind of figured out some of the key plot points before they were revealed but it was still enjoyable to see how it all shook out. I suppose I’ll have to continue reading them, dagnabit. Thanks, Joanne. I guess. ;-)
70. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn.
I am suffering from HWP — Heyer Withdrawal Pains. I have read every one of Georgette Heyer's wonderful Regency romances, some of them more than once, and I miss hanging out in the early 1800s with members of the British aristocracy. I know quite a few of my LT friends who also like Heyer read Quinn's Bridgerton series, so I thought I'd give her a try.
And you know what? It's fine. The biggest flaw — and for me it is indeed a big one — is that Quinn just doesn't capture the time period. Her characters all seemed to me as if they could have been speaking in 2005 as much as 1805. It was rather jarring to my brain after being immersed in Heyer's mastery of the slang, fashions, and attitudes of the Regency period.
I won't rule out reading more of the series, but only when I absolutely must have a fresh Regency fix. In the meantime I'll keep looking, not for someone who can equal Heyer, because no one can, but for someone who can more satisfyingly quench a craving.
I just finished that one too, Julia, and agree that the characters seemed too modern despite all the Period name-dropping. Still, it was a light, enjoyable read if not compared to Heyer too closely and I'll probably try some of the others when I am in the mood.
Happy new thread, Julia, it is nice to see the annual Joplin meet-up was a succes again. And even a glimpse of Stasia at the picture! :-)
Hi Julia! Happy new thread.
>41 rosalita: I love the Harry Bosch series and have read every single one, including the newest. There's an extremely well done Amazon TV series based on the books called Bosch, too.
It's interesting that you backed into the series via Mickey Haller (the Lincoln Lawyer).
>42 rosalita: - Hmm. I wouldn't think to compare modern romance writers to Heyer and the like. Entirely different beasts in my book. I'm sorry the Quinn suffered in comparison :(
>43 ronincats: Thanks, Roni. I probably will, too, at some point.
>44 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita. Stasia is notoriously photo-averse, a trait I share with her to a large extent, but we both got tagged in that one. :-)
>45 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen. I remember the first time Bosch showed up in a Mickey Haller book, I had known he had a whole long series of his own but I thought I'm not going to go back and wade through all that. And yet, here I am! I'll have to check out the Amazon series sometime.
>46 katiekrug: Katie, I think my beef is more that the author made no attempt to creditably place her characters in the time period she chose for them — which I would complain about even if Heyer never existed. But the last thing I'd want to do is imply that someone else is wrong for liking something I don't, so apologies if that's how it came across.
I love this series. It's holding up well on a second read-through.
71. Bill Bryson's African Diary by Bill Bryson.
This very short book is just what it says on the tin: A day-by-day accounting of Bryson's trip to Kenya as part of a CARE International site visit. The book, which was sold to raise money for CARE, suffers a bit from a lack of the usual madcap Bryson humor. Only his account of a hair-raising flight on a small propeller jet in bad weather got an out-loud chuckle from me. I can understand why, when he's trying to educate people about the need for donations to a worthy non-governmental institution, he would tone down the yuks, but pedantic Bryson is not my favorite Bryson. I enjoyed learning more about Kenya and its people, as well as what CARE does, so this was far from a total loss. And now I'm off to send a donation to CARE, since I checked this out from the library and thus did not pay my "fair share".
>47 rosalita: - Nope, no apology needed, I was just musing on the different reactions. I think I don't expect much from my fluff reads, so the modern tone of Quinn's series doesn't bother me. I'm just there for the bosom heaving and well-muscled nobles ;-)
ETA: And I totes agree on the Crombie series. I am hoarding the ones I have left to read. I allow myself two a year, tops.
>50 katiekrug: Oh, good! I will admit to enjoying the addition of some reasonably steamy scenes, which you never get in Heyer. And as I said, I'll probably read more of these, if only for those bits. :-)
ETA: The Crombie series is SO good! I think it's my fave current series.
>50 katiekrug: What Katie said. (About Quinn) And I also love that Crombie series - I am ready for the book you just finished the reread of, but it's been a while since I read the previous one, so I will probably reread that one first and then continue forward. I need to get back to them!
And I am a huge fan of the Harry Bosch books - they just get better as they go, IMO. Rae and I both love the tv series, too.
>52 Crazymamie: I'm glad you like the Quinn books, Mamie. And especially glad that you like the Crombie series — you really must get back to it soon. I'm going to have to insist...
Well, that settles it. All the cool kids love Harry Bosch. I can't believe it took me this long to succumb to peer pressure to read them!
>53 rosalita: - Point of order. Not *all* the cool kids love Harry Bosch. Ahem.
(I have not read any.)
>54 katiekrug: Excellent point duly taken, KAK. At least now I know I'm not the last person on LT to read them!
>54 katiekrug: Sorry, I have never warmed up to Bosch, either. But, I've never been a cool kids either. :(
However, guess what reserve finally became available? The Magpie Murders - I'll probably start it this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it.
Oh, the Washington Post also has a best of list.
Thanks for compiling, Julia.
Well, hell, I've never been cool, but I'm glad you like Harry, Julia! It's not a series I thought I'd like at all, but go figure. With that first one, wasn't it a hoot how often he had to find a telephone? It could have been a drinking game....
It was the third book, The Concrete Blonde that totally hooked me, btw.
>35 rosalita: durn it. That post alone could keep my busy all summer. I mean, it really could!!! (copy/past/save for summer)
>63 BLBera: What is with all you people thinking you are not cool?! You are cool, Beth, in my book. And hooray for Magpie Murders — now I'll be nervous hoping you like it as much as I did!
>64 Copperskye: One of the first clues that you are cool is thinking you aren't, apparently! The phone thing was great — the same thing happens with Sue Grafton's series about Kinsey Millhone. Even though she's down to the last two books, Y and Z, they are still set in the 1980s when they started all those years ago.
>65 LovingLit: I'm just trying to keep you busy and out of trouble, Megan. I know how you get when you have too much time on your hands! ;-)
>66 rosalita: I love the Kinsey Millhone series, and read Y is for Yesterday recently. Can't wait for Z is for Zero. No touchstone, but I think that's the title I've seen in interviews with Grafton. I have Kinsey and Me on my shelves but it seems to be MIA - not on the shelf I say it is - so now I have to go searching for it. *grumble*
Happy Thingaversary, Julia!! This place wouldn't be the same without you.
>71 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! Gosh, the first 12 years just flew by. :-)
12 years - how great, Julia. Yes, treat yourself to some libraversary books.
Thanks for the Thingaversary wishes, Beth, Judy, Joe, and Katie. Here's to the next 12, should the world survive that long.
72. Sudden Mischief by Robert B. Parker.
I read so many of Parker's Spenser series back when they were new. I still remember sitting in the Knox County Public Library and devouring the entirety of Mortal Stakes, third in the series but the first I read, in one afternoon while playing hooky from high school. (Yes, that's the kind of juvenile delinquent I was: skip school to hang out at the library.) My love for the series has waxed and waned over the years and eventually I stopped reading, right around the time this one was published. So when Mamie and Roberta resumed their shared series read I thought I'd jump in.
It didn't take long for the familiar characters to make themselves at home in my head. Spenser is still a wiseass (might be why I like him), he still pals around with ambiguously bad guy Hawk (who steals the show whenever Parker lets him, which isn't often enough), and he's still (sigh) in love with psychologist Susan Silverman (who makes navel-gazing a four-letter word). She's especially prominent in this one, as she asks Spenser to help out her ex-husband who is being sued for sexual harassment.
Inevitably, we get a lot of Susan backstory and it's sort of interesting to fill in those blanks, but boy did this book make me realize why I drifted away from the series: Every move that Spenser makes has to be talked to death by him and Susan, as they vie to see who can be the most evolved spirit on the planet. I think Parker intends these conversations to be signposts for the reader but having moved on to more sophisticated, subtle mysteries I realize how overdone and anvilicious this dialogue is. Less shrinking, more sleuthing!
Also, given the current climate surrounding the issue of sexual harassment, it irks me that
I love that you skipped school to hang out at the library, Julia! Your review is spot on - if you posted that, I will thumb. It cracked me up that Susan wants Spenser to help her ex, for free no less, but when Spenser asks her to tell him about the ex, Susan says she doesn't want to talk about it. WHAT?! I was really hoping she would get dead in this one. And really, Spenser could go too - let's just keep Hawk and start fresh.
I certainly can't turn down the offer of a thumb! I've posted it, and thanks, Mamie. I knew Susan wasn't going to die but would some sort of accident that put her in a coma be too much to ask?! I'd like to keep Spenser around just because he was so darn much fun before he met Ms. Frownypants. But we definitely need more Hawk!
So, are you going to keep reading? How often are you reading these — is it once a quarter?
Oh, I like how you think - a coma would totally work! And yes, if we could return to the earlier Spenser it would be so much better. Or, if he could be "with" Susan but we, as readers, never have to see or experience her, that would be awesome - the dialogue between those two Makes Me Completely Insane (French Kiss quote).
This past year Roberta and I just read one per quarter, which is about as much Spenser as I can take at one time. I would be game to continue if I have company - the fun for me is in ranting about them. Heh.
One per quarter sounds like a good plan! I'll keep an eye open for when you're ready for the next one. And yes, the ranting is the best part!
I can understand the "enough already" reactions to Susan, and can't disagree. My esteemed spouse would join you in wanting a series with just Hawk. If I tell her one doesn't have Hawk in it, she's not interested.
I was your kind of juvenile delinquent, Julia. In high school I got called into the principal's office for skipping classes to go to . . . the school library. Classes were boring, and the school library was pretty darn good.
I don't think they'd have had James Dean play either one of us.
>87 Crazymamie: A-ha! I knew I had heard that phrase somewhere! I really liked that movie.
>88 jnwelch: I think I could live with Susan if every conversation with her wasn't some deep psychological dive into the deepest recesses of hers or Spenser's soul. It just gets old and seems really artificial. I've never been married but do couples really talk like that to each other?
I don't think they'd have had James Dean play either one of us.
I do believe you are correct about that, sir!
Secret message to Julia about our shared nerdy trivia habit:
>90 katiekrug: Woo-hoo! Way to go, KAK.
>91 rosalita: -
I've never been married but do couples really talk like that to each other?
Belated happy Thingaversary, Julia! 12 years! That's the longest I've seen yet.
>97 ronincats: Thanks, Roni. I stumbled onto LibraryThing just a few months after it went live, though I can't quite remember how I found out about it. Some article somewhere, I think. One of the best decisions I ever made!
>87 Crazymamie: That's my favorite line in the movie and there is so many great lines. It's the way she delivers it and his reaction. Priceless!
>86 rosalita: Sorry about the crude language Julia. Who am I kidding? I'm not sorry at all. As Luc would say,
If you'll indulge me in a little personal note:
Earlier this month I celebrated my 10th anniversary in my current job. Apparently this fact just popped up on LinkedIn, where I have a sadly neglected profile. Over the past day or so I've been getting notifications from people in my "circle" or whatever they call it sending me boilerplate congratulations. And then there's the one I just received, from a writer I worked with back in the 2000s:
"Congratulations on your anniversary! Hope you and yours are happy and healthy! Loved, LOVED working with you. You were my 'best boss'. Probably would be again...;-)I don't think I've spoken to Jim in 5 or 6 years, and while we got along well as editor and reporter, I never knew that he thought so highly of my work. It's got me thinking about all the people I've never properly thanked for their mentorship and collegiality. I think 2018 needs to be the year I change that.
>104 rosalita: Oh, what a cool thing! And yeah, I think life would maybe be a little more kind if we all let folks know when we admire and appreciate them; what an excellent idea for a new year's resolution...
>105 scaifea: Thanks, Amber. It seems like the sort of resolution I might actually be able to keep!
>104 rosalita: How great to get kudos like that! I can certainly see how that would motivate you to pass it on. Sounds like a great goal for next year.
>104 rosalita: That is very cool, Julia.
I am another fan of "French Kiss." My kids gave me the DVD, but I sadly lent it to someone who never returned it. And I don't remember to whom. Oh well.
Re-reads are great when your head is stuffed full of cold viruses and you keep falling asleep over the pages. This one marks a key turning point in the Gemma-Duncan relationship.
73. Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks.
Actor Tom Hanks has turned his real-life obsession with typewriters into a collection of short stories, each having at least a glancing mention of the original word processing machines in all their varied glory. Some of the better stories, unexpectedly, feature a typewriter as a main focus, as in "These Are the Meditations of My Heart," a sweet story about a young woman finding her own feet again after a romantic breakup. Others include typewriters only in passing (in "A Junket in the City of Light," a farcical peek inside a whirlwind press tour for a wildly popular action film, they are a symbol of decadence in a Paris hotel room that includes three typewriters, one with Russian-language keys, one with French keys, and one with English keys).
Several of the stories are connected by their characters. There are three now-adult college friends who reappear several times, including on a trip to the moon (no, really). And there is a series of crabby newspaper columns from an old geezer reporter who thinks everything was better back in the good old days when no one had a cell phone and everyone who wasn't a white man knew their place (not that the character is written as self-aware enough to figure out that last bit).
Some of the more successful entries focus on people coming to grips with broken marriages, relationships, or families, whether those people are adult women ("A Month on Greene Street") or kids young ("A Special Weekend") and not so young ("Welcome to Mars"). Probably my favorite story was "Christmas Eve 1953," which starts out as a standardly sappy Christmas story that takes a turn into poignance that elevates it above the rest.
I'm tempted to adapt that old joke: As a writer, Tom Hanks is a great actor. But really, his writing is quite good — he mentions getting some writing coaching and advice from his friend, the late Nora Ephron, and it shows. Where the collection fails is in the ideas, which are pretty thin, and not the execution. I wouldn't go out of my way to read another book by Hanks but I wouldn't actively avoid one, either.
>110 rosalita: - That's one of my favorites in the series (at least so far. I'm only about halfway through!).
I"m hoping to get to the next one (In a Dark House) over Christmas!
>114 katiekrug: Excellent! I'm going to catch up to you soon and then we can read on together. :-)
All those spoilers up there sure are tempting :)
*chants to self repeatedly: I'm not tempted*
>111 rosalita: my sister has this one, and she reckoned it was fantastic! I certainly like the cover :)
Nice comments on the Hanks, Julia. I think I'll pass.
I hope you're feeling better. Happy Monday.
Two Space Or Not Two Space — Finally, the definitive answer to the age-old question: Should you type one space after sentence-ending punctuation, or two? The author of this blog is Jonathan Owen, a linguist, editor, writer, and book designer; he shoots down some myths and gives you enough information to make your own decision. (via Arrant Pedantry)
Hi Julia, hope you had a good weekend my dear and wishing you a good week ahead in the run up to Christmas. Sending love and hugs dear friend.
Hi Julia, just dropping by to wish you the best for the holiday season. I have been busy with preparations for Christmas and I am leaving the day after Christmas to visit my Mom for a week. When I get back the countdown to our move will be off and running! I may not get back here until the 2018 threads are up!
>119 rosalita: Fascinating. I learned the two-space rule when I learned to type on typewriters eons ago, and it was VERY hard to stop doing it. I'm sure some still get away from.
>120 johnsimpson: Thank you, John. Same to you and Karen.
>121 DeltaQueen50: Thanks for stopping by on your way out the door, Judy! Happy New Year!
>122 BLBera: I'm of the age where I learned to type in high school on an electric typewriter, and we definitely learned the two-space rule. For some reason, I didn't find it that hard to give up when I became a journalist and began using a computer. Maybe because i was being paid to forget it!
>123 Copperskye: Thank you, Joanne! It was very touching and came at a time when I really needed a boost.
>119 rosalita:: I also learned two-spacing in typewriting class. I know that I'm not supposed to do it any more, and won't put up a fight about changing it when somebody points it out, but I only worry about it when somebody points it out. Really I don't grasp why some are so passionate about it, except that it's funny what people get passionate about. (Says the guy who has to stop and take a breath when he hears "enormity" used in the sense of "enormousness.") I mean, if you don't like double-spaces, why can't you just run find-and-replace?
>125 swynn: I'm a one-space gal, Steve, as I mentioned in my reply to Beth, but I don't get worked up about other people sticking with two. Like you, I have much more important pets to peeve. :-)
The funniest part of that article was mentioning that writers who adhere to APA style have to put in two spaces for the editing process, and then the editor has to take them out before publication. Madness!
We run into the two-space thing with nursing students. The instructors are fanatics about the two spaces. The English teachers just shrug their shoulders. As you say, we have bigger fish to complain about. Like students who copy their entire essays.
>127 BLBera: Yep, nursing falls under APA style rules. When I worked at the College of Nursing, it was hard to get used to after having followed Associated Press style in my newspaper life, and then Turabian/Chicago Manual of Style for my college history and English papers.
Rosalita - from a different site > NOW, Barnes has the hardcover up next to the paperback!
Enjoyed your review.
74. Maps to Nowhere by Marie Brennan.
LibraryThing has done wonders for expanding my reading comfort zone. One genre that I've started to read much more widely is science fiction/fantasy (apologies to those who think of those as two separate genres, but I tend to lump them together when I think of them). So it's no surprise that I first heard of Marie Brennan right here on LT when I saw reviews of A Natural History of Dragons, the first in her Lady Trent's Memoirs series. I've still not managed to read that one, although it's on my wishlist; I guess my local library is not as enamored of dragons and dragon stories as I am. When this book of short stories came up as an October selection of the Early Reviewers program, I requested it to get a feel for Brennan's writing and worldbuilding. As with any collection of short works some are stronger than others, but overall it's quite good.
Although there is a Lady Trent story included here, Brennan is clearly not a one-note author. She has created a wide variety of worlds and creatures in these stories. Among my favorites in this volume: "Once a Goddess," which had an intriguing premise and unexpected depth; "The Mirror-City," set in an alternate-universe Venice; "Nine Sketches in Charcoal and Blood," nicely foreboding; and "From the Editorial Page of the Falchester Weekly Review," which finds Lady Trent engaged in a bit of humorously savage old-style feuding with an academic rival, all carried out in an exchange of letters published in the newspaper.
In addition to how varied the settings and situations are, I like how Brennan doesn't drag a story to a screeching halt to explain details of how things work; she trusts readers to be able to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations and other SF/F experiences.
Among the lesser lights (though none are terrible) was "Love, Cayce," meant to be a breezy and humorous letter home from a group of young friends of indeterminate magical abilities who have set off on a series of adventures much as all of their parents did together at the same age. I think people who are big into Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games would really like this one, though. Also, "A Thousand Souls" fell rather flat for me.
Each story has a short accompanying essay in which Brennan recounts her inspiration or interesting tidbits about the writing process. Sometimes these sorts of things can be ho-hum, but I enjoyed them here. And the ebook was nicely formatted so that at the end of each short story, there was a link to the appropriate author's note, and then links back to that story or the next story in the volume, so that you could choose to read the notes with each story or skip them altogether without having to flip a bunch of pages back and forth.
So what's so wrong with double spaces anyway? It makes a paragraph easier to read.
>131 RebaRelishesReading: I don't have time to explain, but the article I linked does.
I'm fascinated that the age-old question about one space or two to follow a period is, well, an age-old question! I was taught the two-space rule and have a hard time shaking it, although I try not to obsess about it. My fingers do it as automatically as I type as they do anything else on the QWERTY keyboard, thanks to 9th-grade typing class.
I love this group. We have the best discussions.
>133 EBT1002: Howdy, Ellen! One of the best decisions I made this year was to start sharing all the random stuff I read on the Internet. Honestly, I wasn't sure anyone would really care, but the response overall has been extremely gratifying. It's nice to have people to discuss things with!
Let me add that the blog post is delightful to read. Thanks Julia.
And now I have to decide whether I'm going to try to break my decades-old habit of double spacing after a period.
>130 rosalita: Great review and I agree that LT has done wonders for expanding my reading comfort zone. I have still only dipped my toe in the SF/F waters but I'm joining Roni for a read of Godstalk in January.
Hi Julia! I am also joining the Godstalk group in Janauary. : ) Just finished the Hank's book yesterday. I enjoyed it more than you did, but I also did the audio and it was very fun to hear him read the stories. I will write a more official review on my thread...soonish! LOL Happy Thursday, otherwise known as Friday Jr.
>135 EBT1002: I'll look forward to hearing more about the Godstalk shared read next month, Ellen.
>136 Berly: Hi, Kim! I can definitely imagine that hearing Hanks read the audiobook version of his stories would be more enjoyable than just reading them. I'll look forward to your "official" review. :-)
>132 rosalita: OK, I read the article and must admit I kept thinking "much ado about nothing". The author seems to basically agree, it seems:
"Part of me really wants to say that yes, it really is that wrong, and you need to get over yourself and just break the stupid habit already. But the truth is that unless you’re writing for publication, it doesn’t actually matter all that much. If your work is going to be edited and typeset, then you should know that the extra space is going to be taken out anyway, so you might as well save a step by not putting it in in the first place."
He says "it doesn't actually matter all that much" -- I would argue it doesn't matter at all.
>74 ffortsa: We have only Lady Trent book in the library system, so I have been hesitant to read it in case I have to buy more.
As far as the one-space vs. two space rule, I remember fighting about it when I was a technical writer, and am glad it's not important where I work now. I did eventually train my fingers not to type two spaces.
Have a lovely holdiay - I will be flying up to Iowa on Christmas Eve, so I'm hoping the flying weather at least will be clear.
>139 markon: Safe travels, Ardene! I think it is supposed to be clear on this end, at least.
I agree with Reba - definitely much ado. If you're typing something for an editor, then yeah, maybe common courtesy to make less work for her, but otherwise it certainly doesn't hinder understanding so how could it possibly matter that much? Just like "10 items or less" signs: get over yourself, Trusses of the world; I can't imagine that there's anyone out there who would be mystified at the meaning of that sign, so who cares?! I try to use proper grammar (and fail miserably sometimes, I know), just because I kind of love it, but I couldn't possibly care less if others don't.
(NB: I know that I've used double spaces here and it wasn't intentional or any sort of civil disobedience; that's just how I was taught to type and my fingers automatically take over.)
But honestly, less vs. fewer drives me bonkers probably because it seems like an easy one to get right. I'm more understanding of more complex grammatical issues, but can't we have *some* standards?
A Truss (even though I don't get the reference)
>142 katiekrug: Katie: They're all easy to get right if you know the 'rules.' But the rules change, too, and along with them, standards. The only rigid languages are the dead ones (and you know I have a soft spot for those).
I'll trot this beautiful nugget out again because I love it and Stephen in general (plus, his use of 'farting' as an expletive is one of my very favorite things):
>138 RebaRelishesReading: Apologies for missing you earlier, Reba. It sounds like you are on the same page as the author, more or less. I concur.
>141 scaifea: Preach it, sister! I'm certainly not going to get worked up about one space or two in LT posts of all things! (I don't get the Truss reference?)
>142 katiekrug: The thing about fewer/less for me, Katie, is that it just SOUNDS so clearly wrong to my ears that it really grates. It bothers me less when I read it than when I hear people say it. But I would never correct someone unless they asked me directly. I've also come to realize, as my friends had kids who moved through school, that not all schools do a bang-up job of teaching about collective/non-collective nouns and other parts of speech anymore, so people can't do what they've never been taught.
>146 scaifea: Ah, now I get the connection! I have that one on the shelf but haven't read it yet, Amber. I look forward to hate-reading it next year. :-)
I'll try to be fewer judgmental if people try to make less mistakes. 🙄
>150 katiekrug: This is why I love you so much, Katie!! Snark on, Sister!
>142 katiekrug:: "The dating agency found no matches"?!?!?! I'd date him/her in a heartbeat. Well, if I were looking.
In the movie "The Big Short" Christian Bale plays a character somewhere on the autism spectrum, which causes him to have difficulty with social interaction. He's happily married to a woman he met through a dating service, who read his self-description of his "odd social affect" and knew he was the one.
It probably says something about me that I find that story unusually romantic.
In this case, the usage grates on me less than it does on others, probably because of its standard usage in mathematics, where the symbol "<" is almost universally read as "less than," even in a discrete context: "3 < 7" is usually read, "three is less than seven," though I'll concede it's more proper to say, "three is fewer than seven." In a continuous context, I'm honestly not sure which is formally proper: e < π but is e fewer than π or less than π? (For clarity: I'm musing, not necessarily expecting an answer.)
>155 swynn: Oh no, someone brought up math! :-) Just kidding. But it's a good point, but I realized as I read your example that in a mathematical context, "3 is less than 7" sounds perfectly fine to me. So perhaps mathematic expressions are an exception to the less/fewer distinction.
Steve, have you watched "The Good Doctor" at all? It's a new TV drama on CBS who main character is a surgeon who is autistic. From an outside perspective it seems like they do a good job of reflecting both the attitudes of the people around him as well as his own interactions and assumptions about people. I've only watched a few episodes but I like it.
>150 katiekrug: LOVE it, Katie! Our newspeople do that all the time and it drives me nuts!
>119 rosalita: I switched to the single space in 1990, with my first Mac, after reading The Mac is Not a Typewriter, after having double-spaced on typewriters for 24 years. But I don't get upset by the spacing in other people's messages.
>158 ronincats: I'm glad we're all pretty live-and-let-live when it comes to grammar peeves, Roni. Well, except for Katie. :-P Fortunately she has many, many other redeeming qualities.
75. Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin.
Sometime in the last few months my library has acquired all of Rankin's Inspector Rebus series in ebook form. I've heard lots of good things about this series over the years, and was curious to check it out for myself. There are some glimmers of potential here, but I found Rebus to be fairly unlikable (which is forgivable) and fairly stupid as a detective (which is not). I can only assume he improves greatly from this debut appearance. I might come back to this series sometime, if I ever finish off some other series I'm following.
After finishing grading 100+ student essays, I find that my tolerance is high for grammar and/or punctuation and/or spacing mistakes in anyone who is NOT a student.
>160 rosalita: Doesn't really inspire me to start this series. Oh well, like you, I do have plenty of others to catch up on.
Delurking to say Hi! Sometimes it's one space. Sometimes it's two. It depends on my mood. : P
I suppose now the one-space-or-two controversy has died down, it’s time to mention that pretty much any software that autocorrects these days will autocorrect two specs to one. And on my smart gadgets, typing two spaces without a period first will insert a period and take out a space.
So our Robot Overlords have decided for us!
>164 drneutron: Thanks, Jim! I wasn't sure I'd get there this year but here we are.
>165 Berly: Now, Kim, I think I've established here that I'm pretty easygoing — people who one-space and people who two-space are just fine with me. But I will confess I don't understand how you can bounce back and forth between the two! That's just madness, my friend. :-)
>166 drneutron: And I love the feature on my iPhone and iPad. I use it all the time!
>142 katiekrug: Yes, Katie!! That's one of my pet peeves. I was once in a grocery store that offered a line for "15 or fewer" items and I was so pleased with them I wanted to use them exclusively -- unfortunately I was traveling so it wasn't possible but still...
>160 rosalita: Congratulations on reaching 75, Julia!
Nothing to add to the grammar discussion, it sounds all good enough to me ;-)
>142 katiekrug: I love that! The less/fewer confusion is one of my grammar pet peeves.
Wishing you a warm, safe, and joyful holiday season, Julia!
Woo hoo! Congratulations on hitting the 75 book mark!!
It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:
Hi Julia, wishing you a very Merry Christmas my dear and sending love and hugs from both of us dear friend.
>160 rosalita: Congratulations on reaching 75! I felt exactly the same way about Rebus. I haven’t read any more of them after reading it in February of 2016.
Stopping by to wish you and yours all good things this holiday season.
Thanks for the holiday wishes, everyone! I hope yours is everything you want it to be.
>175 karenmarie: I am so happy to hear my reaction to Rebus wasn't a total aberration, Karen!
Woo Hoo! We both made it to 75. *Whew* I would hate to be kicked out of this wonderful group…
May the joy of the season continue into the New Year!
Happy Holidays to you and yours! Its such a joy to be a part of this group, and I’m glad to call you friend.
I remember to use one space for a short span of time and then I revert back to two spaces again until one of these conversations pops up and then I attempt again to limit it to one. : )
Happy Boxing Day!!
Hi Julia, I love the use-of-less/fewer discussion up-thread. Some things can really get your goat (as they say). I believe my inability to distinguish refuse and refute got my lecturer's goat last year! Every revision to my paper was riddled with attempts to educate me on that matter....I'm pretty sure I still haven't figured it out properly :)
Eta: corrections to wayward italics
Thanks for the holiday wishes, everyone.
>186 Berly: Thank you for explaining I was picturing you richocheting back and forth between one and two spaces within the same paragraph! Your way makes much more sense. :-)
>187 LovingLit: it's funny how hard it is to dislodge misinformation from our brains once it gets well and truly stuck in there, Megan!
I reach for this one whenever I need a good laugh. It's charmingly madcap.
>194 jnwelch: It's a good one, isn't it?
So sad to get this news alert on my phone just now: Sue Grafton, Best-Selling Mystery Author, Dies at 77
Such a poignant quote: “She was adamant that her books would never be turned into movies or TV shows,” her daughter wrote, “and in that same vein, she would never allow a ghost writer to write in her name. Because of all of those things, and out of the deep abiding love and respect for our dear sweet Sue, as far as we in the family are concerned, the alphabet now ends at Y.”
76. The Key by Patricia Wentworth.
This was supposed to be a shared read for January with Harry and Liz, but it came in at the library earlier than expected so here we are.
Wentworth has a knack for taking her time introducing Miss Silver, the unassuming elderly English woman who solves the mysteries in this series that bears her name, and this entry was a spectacular example of that. The first mention of our sleuth comes on Page 102 of a 221-page edition, and the woman herself does not make actual contact with one of the other characters until Page 118. This would be annoying except that the espionage-ish mystery as it's presented in the Silver-free opening chapters is pretty interesting.
That late entry doesn't give her much time to work, but Miss Silver doesn't take long to inspire confidences from otherwise close-mouthed villagers and is soon well on her way to solving the crime, which ends up being multiple murders and a busted spy ring by the time all's done and dusted. Of course, it goes without saying that the man who has been arrested by the police (Miss Silver's old acquaintances Lamb and Abbott) isn't guilty of anything except being a rather large jackwagon. Fortunately for him and me, being universally unlikable is not a hanging offense, even in wartime England.
And of course there's a star-crossed couple who find their forever happiness forged in the crucible of double murder. Sigh. Ain't it romantic?
>195 rosalita: oh my, so sorry to read of Ms Grafton's passing. I had just begun to collect her books too. Thanks for sharing the info.
>197 Carmenere: I was shocked, Lynda, as I don't remember reading that she had cancer. It must have been so difficult for her to know how close she'd gotten to completing the Alphabet series, and to realize she wasn't going to get there. Some were better than others, but she created winning characters in Kinsey and Henry, the sexiest octogenarian landlord you could ever hope for.
77. Beneath The Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn.
Blackburn's debut novel tries to be several things at once and doesn't really succeed at any of them. It presents itself as the first in a mystery series (note the subtitle: Dive Team Investigations) but there is exactly one scene featuring an underwater dive — the opening scene of the novel — and after that it's just a standard murder mystery.
The mystery itself becomes more and more unbelievable as the story progresses, and Blackburn commits the capital sin (to me) of having the killer be someone who isn't really part of the ongoing story. There's no way for the reader to guess whodunit because we never meet the perpetrator until they've already been identified by the investigators.
The investigation seems to careen from unlikely occurrence to unlikely occurrence. The sheriff instantly approves all extra expenditures involved, and cheerfully approves of his main investigator getting romantically involved with the woman who is the killer's repeated target. There's not even a token scene where someone suggests that he might be too personally involved to be a good detective. Instead everyone, including his fellow cops, plot to make them into a couple.
In fact, no one ever disapproves of anything anyone does, because it turns out they are all proselytizing Christians who think nothing of interrupting a murder investigation with pages-long ruminations on why Jesus lets bad things happen to good people. Novels without conflict between characters are bloodless, boring things.
And of course, it wouldn't be a "Christian" novel without evil Muslims, in this case the family of the heroine's sister-in-law, who are furious that she converted to Christianity and married outside their faith. So furious, in fact, that the heroine's brother takes a job in Europe to keep his wife away from her family, and cannot return to the States to support his sister while her life is repeatedly threatened BECAUSE HE'S WORRIED HIS WIFE'S CRAZY MUSLIM FAMILY WILL KIDNAP HER. Not that we get to meet them, or the sister-in-law, or allow them to present their side of things because no non-Christian characters are allowed speaking parts, I guess. And I mean that seriously: Everyone in this book is an outspoken Christian. They say grace before every hastily grabbed sandwich in the middle of the investigation and no one is made uncomfortable. There's not even a token agnostic who can be converted by the end of the book, let alone a Jew.
I am not against characters expressing their faith within the construct of a mystery. But there's a difference between the nuanced way Margaret Maron portrays her characters' strong Christian faith in the Deborah Knott series (coincidentally also set in North Carolina, so it's not a cultural difference) and the way Blackburn shoehorns God onto nearly every page.
So yeah, I didn't much care for this one. It was an Early Reviewers pick, and nothing in the ER description mentioned the proselytizing aspect. Being blindsided by that probably made me react more strongly than I would have otherwise, but ultimately this is just not a very well-written or -plotted mystery.
So, no then. Thanks for taking one for the team, Julia. I loved your rant.
>202 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! It's been a while since I read a truly not-good book. They are always the most fun to review. :-)
Wow, sounds seriously bad. I got a chuckle over a Christian author committing the capital sin, even if it’s just mystery writing. 😀
>206 drneutron: Ha! I didn't even pick up on that, Jim. It is pretty funny now that you mention it. 🤣
Adventures in Emerald by Neil Gaiman.
Minority Report by Philip K. Dick.
My RL book club chose a pair of short stories for its January selection, as we are working on a "criminal justice" theme for this round of picks. The Gaiman story is a pastiche of Sherlock Holmes, as anyone who has read A Study in Scarlet will recognize, but with some otherworldly elements that make it classic Gaiman. I'm not sure I fully understood the premise, exactly, (I'm hoping the person who chose this one will be able to explain it when we meet) but it was enjoyable to see the parallels to the Conan Doyle original. The Dick story is the basis for the film "Minority Report," which I've never seen. It's a fascinating concept and I can see why it appealed to filmmakers. I'm going to try to read more PKD in 2018.
Since these were shorts and I didn't read the rest of the stories in the books, I'm not counting these in my yearly total.
>209 Crazymamie: I think seeing him hanging out in your thread was one of the reasons I finally gave him a go, Mamie, after a lifetime of thinking I didn't like sci-fi. I have only read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and now Minority Report. Do you have any suggestions for a good next PKD read?
>210 swynn: Thank you for the thumb, Steve! And yeah, you'll want to stay away from this one.
Happy New Year, Julia.
I'll be trying this reading business anew in 2018, hoping to do better both in numbers and in being more social. See you one the other side.
>211 rosalita: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is my favorite so far, but I really liked The Man in the High Castle and Flow My Tears The Policeman Said. He has a collection of short stories Selected Stories of Phillip K Dick that has a bunch of his stuff that has been made into films as well as some lesser know writing - I am still working my way through it, but it is very good.
I started this one today but I won't finish it before the end of the year, so it will end up being No. 1 in 2018. I am looking forward to getting a chunk read in the next two days, when the high temperature is forecast as 0 degrees F, and the low temp forecast is -15 F. Nothing else to do in this kind of ridiculous weather except curl up under a blanket and read!
2017 in Review
I made the decision at the start of the year to only count new reads in my yearly total, and that turned out to be 77. I've read more in the past but that's OK. Every year has its own rhythm. Since I track reading dates in my catalog, I can see that the total number of books read in 2017, including re-reads, is 103. I haven't decided whether to continue counting this way next year or go back to lumping them all together. What do you think?
I only rated three books as :
The Children by David Halberstam (nonfiction, history)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (fantasy)
Calamity Town by Ellery Queen (fiction, mystery)
The list of books is a bit longer:
The Green Mile by Stephen King
Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
The Western Star by Craig Johnson
The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel
Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
Middlemarch by George Eliot
The Trespasser by Tana French
The Fireman by Joe Hill
Of the 77 books I read for the first time, 38 were written by men; 37 by women, and 2 were written by a mixed male-female collaboration.
And that's about the extent of the stats I track!
I say a book read is a book read and, just as you never step in the same river twice, you never read the same book again when you reread. So count those babies! Just my humble opinion, humbly offered.
>217 ronincats: Thank you, Roni I like the way you put that.
>218 Berly: I've just realized that I got so caught up in my rant that I forgot one of the most annoying elements: The heroine and her brother were both adopted, she from China and he from Brazil (or was it Bolivia? Somewhere in South America, anyway.) This information is just plopped down as more evidence of the Christian charity and goodness of their parents; absolutely nothing is done with the information and OF COURSE none of the saints in this small Southern town show the slightest bit of prejudice or othering toward them. And how her Chinese background might have affected her growing up or be informing her reactions to what's happening to her is never mentioned except in her thoughts of gratitude toward her American parents for rescuing her from the orphanage. As far as the book is concerned I don't think her parents made any attempt to keep her connected to her heritage in any way. Gross.
Hi Julia, just stopping by to wish you a Very Happy New Year my dear and hope that 2018 is a really good year. Sending love and hugs from both of us dear friend.
>223 katiekrug: I'm sensing a pattern here ... :-)
I think I was the only goober on LT who didn't think I should count re-reads. I should have asked you all before I started this malarkey and saved myself some trouble!
>201 rosalita: I've occasionally gotten a poorly written Christian book - now I always check the publisher before requesting a book because the ones I've gotten have been uniformly bad. sorry it was 2.5 stars.
On a brighter note,
Peace, Health, and Happiness in 2018
>225 karenmarie: Hi, Karen. I wish publishers would realize that their odds of getting positive reviews would go up if they fully disclosed the book's focus in the ER blurb, so that reviewers like me self-selected out.
And Happy. Ew Year to you, too!
I agree on counting rereads, Julia. The only time I don't count rereads is when I listen to the book as a way to fall asleep and sleep through most of the book. (I started doing that on November 9, 2016, because I was having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep after the November 8th fiasco, and certain books helped me fall asleep and fall back asleep rather than lie awake having anxiety attacks.)
Oh, yeah, and HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2018 be filled with health, joy, peace and prosperity.
>227 Storeetllr: Thanks, Mary! That seems to be the majority view, so I reckon I'll go back to counting them next year.
Happy New Year to you and Nickel and Rosie!
>201 rosalita: I love your rant! 2.5 stars seems a little generous actually :-) And I would (and do) totally count rereads. Happy new year!
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