The Read goes ever on and on...MrsLee 2018 part 2
This is a continuation of the topic The Read goes ever on and on...MrsLee 2018 part 1.
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Here we are.
It Must Have Been Something I Ate
King Henry, IV, part 2
Alphonse Daudet - This is my classic for the month. Never heard of him. A collection of his writings. Just testing the waters.
Thereby Hangs a Tail by Spencer Quinn - I need something fun to read that doesn't take a lot of investment.
Your Doro Wat in the other thread reminded me of a scene in this week's Voetspore. The guys stopped at the market in Ponta do Ouro (Mozambique) to buy bread rolls, and the stall next door was selling bottles of a red substance labelled "Soldier". The stall owner was busy making it as they watched; she was pounding what looked like several kilos of birds-eye chillies and not a great deal else in a large bowl. So they stopped and sampled. Comments indicated that "it's hot -- but tasty" and "it just doesn't stop burning". Sounds like the ideal sauce for the Wat.
Happy new thread!
>2 hfglen: Um, I'll leave them to it. Is the program a documentary?
>3 humouress: It's a long-running series detailing the adventures of a group of guys exploring various routes through Africa, so yes, a documentary in which the protagonists take extraordinary overland routes and interact with the locals. Several series are available on DVD, but the commentary is in Afrikaans, and only two series have English subtitles AFAIK. (Tonight's was the last episode of the 11th series.)
Following you from France while gaving a café au lait on the terrace. Glad to hear you are feeling better and I hope the energy is flowing back in a satisfactory fashion.
*waving* So happy to hear you're feeling better! Hope the allergies abate soon.
>7 clamairy: Thank you! I have given in and am taking a pill for them. It did no good yesterday, I'm hoping it will have a cumulative effect and kick in today.
Still not reading much. Too many distractions, or perhaps I am too willing to be distracted?
>8 MrsLee: I feel your pain. It's allergy season here too and the meds just make me sleepy.
Just taking my place on your new thread! Hope the allergies abate soon and you get back to reading again.
I actually felt like picking up a book last night! Correction. I didn't really feel like it, but did it anyway and found myself happily reading until bedtime. I hate dry spells, and usually don't force things, but sometimes one has to push on through. The book was Thereby Hangs a Tail and it had me chuckling away. Sometimes the clever/cute is a tad too much, but the story moves along fast enough that I can handle it.
I have finished Euphemania, but not had time/will to review it yet. This weekend does not hold much hope of time to do so. When did my life get so busy? Not doing grand things, either. Just the small everyday tasks to keep everyone around me, and myself, going. I realize that I could drop out, but that would mean sacrificing my health and other's health, so I won't. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
>14 MrsLee: I enjoy those "Chet" light mysteries, and I think the author does a good job making sure the cutesy aspects don't ruin the story.
I FINISHED A BOOK!
This reading slump has been ridiculous. Anyway, made it through Thereby Hangs a Tail. So what do I do with these books? I enjoyed them very much, but I doubt they will compel me to read them again. Do I save them to share with others? Where in my house do I store them? Sigh. I suppose for now I will have to make room for them among my favorite mystery authors books. My poor dragons are getting crowded off of the shelves.
I'm not going to start anything new, still struggling to finish up the books I've begun. I am doing well on the physical side of my life though. Exercising again, eating right, feeding my mom healthy, tasty food with not much salt, gardening (sort of). Why can't I do it all? Oh, and working 8 hours a day.
>16 MrsLee: yippee!
I donate books to my coworkers, the local cancer center's waiting room "library", and Habitat for Humanity.
Someone will take it.
>16 MrsLee: Well done. Small victories all add up, especially when you have a busy home and work life.
>16 MrsLee: what is the secret to tasty low-salt cooking? I'm trying to reduce my sodium intake and it's not going well so far.
>19 Darth-Heather: for me, finding herbs and other low/no-salt alternatives are important. I like a few drops of vinegar (wine or apple cider) on many foods. Pepper is a decent substitute, too.
>20 fuzzi: oh yes, I've been peppering everything :) Are there certain go-to herbs that you enjoy?
I've tripped up a bit on condiments, so now I'm buying flavored vinegars to use instead of salad dressings and they make good meat marinades too. I would like to learn to make my own mustard. I just like salty stuff alot, especially pickles and olives... :(
>19 Darth-Heather: Roasting veggies in the oven brings out the natural sugars, and we rarely need to add salt. Sometimes I drizzle balsamic vinegar and toss them with it. Oil, butter and fat are great for flavor enhancement. :)
Chopped parsley and fresh garlic tossed into lightly sautéd (heat heavy skillet, which has a tight lid, very hot, add about 1/4 - 1/2 c. water or no salt broth, when it boils, add veggies which have been chopped to bite size bits, cover, make sure liquid is still boiling, shake pot once or twice and cook 5-7 min. depending on density of veg.) veggies while they are still hot and toss.
Fresh squeezed lemon juice added at the last minute into soups, stews, salads, etc. The chopped parsley and garlic go great with a squeeze of lemon juice in almost anything.
If you can take the spice, fresh chopped hot chilies, along with lemon, garlic and parsley are wonderful. If you are tired of parsley and have access to other fresh herbs, any of them can be substituted. Cilantro, rosemary, thyme, sage, green onions, etc. Mix and match. The secret is fresh, not dried, and add at the last minute so they do not lose their essence in the heat.
We do not fear fat in this household, so I use good oils such as olive, avocado, sesame and coconut (there are tons of others, these are just easily accessible and sort of affordable. I also use fat from roasting chickens and bacon (although unless you buy unsalted bacon, that might be salty), and butter. It doesn't take a lot to bring out the flavors of a dish.
Sesame oil and rice vinegar are a wonderful flavor boosting team. I use those, with a bit of sugar and some of my chili paste to make cabbage slaw-type salads.
Sugar is also something you can add just a bit of to bring out flavor in veggies or meat dishes.
Also wine/saki/beer. These added to stews and sauces make for tasty goodness.
If you think of the five heavenly flavors: hot spice, sweet, salt, sour and umami, and you include all but salt, you will still have a great tasting dish, especially if the salt is substituted with lots of fresh herbs and garlic.
>22 MrsLee: awesome, thank you! I took a lot of notes for my cooking workbook. I like the final paragraph about fulfilling the other four flavor profiles to get balance without missing the salt - I hadn't thought of it like this but it makes sense to keep in mind when designing my recipes.
My husband hunts, so I cook a lot of venison and wild turkey (and occasionally moose) and am always looking for ways to work with lean meats. We agreed-to-disagree on the hunting thing before we got married. ;) I appreciate that he is ethical in his approach, so he only hunts something we will use (not bear - it's yucky) and we use as much of it as we can.
I'm definitely going to try the slaw salads with sesame and vinegar and chili - that sounds excellent!
>23 Darth-Heather: Oooo, for game meats, you can get some wonderful flavors by studying the Indian curry recipes. Heating oil or ghee very hot in a cast iron skillet and tossing in whole spices like cumin and coriander seeds, allspice, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and mustard seeds, then adding onions and garlic, then the meat which has been browned dark (umami), and some liquid. A slow simmer until meat is fall apart tender, add some veggies if desired and serve over rice. Yum. In fact, that's what we had for dinner! The meat was goat in our case.
>24 MrsLee: oh my, that sounds amazing! I love curry, but hadn't thought of using it for game meat. Turkey season is starting on Tuesday so I may get the chance soon to try this :) I haven't tried goat yet, but am curious about it. Is it like lamb?
>25 Darth-Heather: Taste is stronger and gamier (which in some parts of the world is no bad thing), and depending on the age of the animal and how far it's walked, it may be tougher.
>26 hfglen: Now that's interesting, because here I've found it to be milder than lamb.
Interesting, indeed. I was thinking of Namaqualand, where the choice is between goat that's lived on the local highly aromatic vegetation, or Karakul lamb -- think of it, they must do something with the contents of the pelts that go to make Persian lamb coats! And I'm sure Wikipedia will tell you that the lambs that provide the pelts are less than 24 hours old. So therefore Karakul lamb looks and tastes like wet grey cardboard.
>28 hfglen: :P That doesn't sound very appetizing.
I managed to finish three books in April, two of which I had already been reading in Feb./March. Dismal record for me. Ah well. I am now behind schedule on my 12 classics I was trying to read some of this year. Began reading The Works of Alphonse Daudet last night, and even though April is ending, I will continue this into May. So far, I've only read the first chapter of "Studio Love." It is surprisingly modern for the women's right movement, but I will see, because it may be that these "liberated" women end up either no better than they aught to be, married and happy little homemakers, or something evil to show women that living in a liberating manner will bring them to a bad end. I don't know enough about the author to tell yet, except that he was one of those who didn't bother with monogamy and suffered from syphilis.
I've also begun reading an ER win: Water at the Roots by Phillip Britts. Not quite what I expected, but not a disappointment, either. The poems are moving and lovely, the story an interesting one, so I'm happy with this win.
Finished Henry the IV, part 2 yesterday. The drama was pretty good, but my reading mood was off and so it took me two months to finish. Not good for continuity. Even so, I was able to pick up the main characters and plot. All the side characters became rather muddled for me though. Not sure what to think of Henry V. Seems a rather calculating and mean sort of man. Used Falstaff harshly, although I don't have much sympathy or care for Falstaff, either. Not sure why people have loved him so, I found him repulsive. Possibly the language barrier? I would like to read this in a more modern language to see if it makes a difference. Loved Henry the IV's speech about sleep, or the lack thereof. Also, one of the women who gave her father-in-law (or was he her father?) what-for because he deserted her husband when her husband needed him most.
I may not be reading much, but my dreams are pretty vivid!
Last night I went to a cheese and wine tasting class. The cheeses were amazing! So much so that I found myself only having a sip or two of the wines because I didn't want to become inebriated and not get the full taste of the cheeses. Some were melting, soft and creamy blues, others were creamy and filled with tasty herbs and spices, then there were the harder cheeses, oh my. What an experience.
BEST. DREAM. EVER!
>30 MrsLee: I wouldn't have wanted to wake up from that dream! It sounds nearly as good as the ones where you're in a bookshop that has every book you've ever wanted to read on the shelves, along with amazing-looking ones you've never heard of ...
>32 Sakerfalcon: Yes, that sort of dream. Sadly, it segued into one about getting lost in the underworld of NYC with my husband, and then having to rescue him from the mental hospital because they had mistaken him for one of their patients! lol
I finished the first story by Alphonse Daudet, "Studio Love." A very short story which took me an inordinate amount of time to read. Partly due to the fact that is was written in first person, present tense, which I pretty much hate. Also, I'm no expert, but at times it seemed to switch tenses? I didn't stop to analyze because every time I did sit to read I just wanted to get it over with. In spite of it beginning with a surprisingly liberated and modern view of women, it did end with a marriage. Although, not every woman in it ended up married, so I suppose it was still somewhat modern for its time.
I want to read one or two more in this book before I put it aside. Do any of you have a recommendation for a specific story by Alphonse Daudet?
>33 MrsLee: I know of someone that actually happened to. A respected lady botanists, she had to stay in the mental hospital over the weekend until her prof could fish her out.
I am grabbing Personal by Lee Child, off of my TBR shelf to read. No, I haven't finished any of my current reads. They are pokey and meditation-worthy, or at least nothing I can read quickly. This is Mother's Day here in the U.S.A., so I want to sit by myself and read. Hoping this story will grab me and pull me along. I really hate this reading slump. Lack of concentration? Lack of ability to sit and do nothing but read? Me? Why?!
Hurray! I read a book! In two days! I'm still capable! Granted, the material was not challenging, but, yay!
Personal by Lee Child
I have been in one of the worst reading slumps ever, and Jack Reacher was just the ticket to kick my butt into reading again. I finished this in two days and it felt marvelous. Reacher is predictable. He does the right thing with very little fuss and frills. This story was predictable as well, but in all the right ways. There was no mind-blowing reveal for me at the end, but I didn't care because the journey was fun along the way.
>39 MrsLee: hope that fixed your reading slump. I had one of those earlier t his year.
Feels good, don't it?!
I love Sandford's two series for the same reasons (Prey/Davenport and Flowers) - they don't hurt my brain, I love the characters (they kick as much ass as Reacher!) and they make me laugh and entertain me from start to finish. Great stuff.
Glad you are climbing out of the slump! Brain candy books are a great choice for that.
Some nice, healthy cooking ideas here, which I really ought to come back for.
>30 MrsLee: I wasn't sure at first, because it's usually cheese that causes vivid dreams (or so I've heard). I must say, your dreams make more sense than mine do; they usually segue too fast to be cohesive. Last night I dreamed about lizards - a combination of the book I'm reading, I suspect, and the fact that I kept coming across frogs hopping across the road in the rain.
In the meantime, it looks like my reading slump is ongoing. The odd thing is that I am reading, but I don't seem to be making much progress.
>43 Bookmarque: Oh sure, hit me when I'm at my most vulnerable! I've added the first book in the Davenport series to my wishlist. That's all the further I'm going at the moment though, due to cost, lack of reading time/will at the moment, and all these other books on my shelves calling out to be read.
Going to start another predictable win in my books, Talking God by Tony Hillerman. A bit more subdued that the Jack Reacher novels, but compelling and interesting, so it should be good.
>44 pgmcc: Thanks, and may your good reads continue!
>40 littlegeek:, >41 fuzzi:, >42 Jim53: & >45 catzteach: Thank you for the encouragement!
>46 humouress: I am sorry about your slow-down. I've decided not to force my reading. I have so many interesting books on my shelves that I want to read, like all the classics in my goals for the year, but they are not compelling. So hard to focus enough on them at the moment, because my brain seems to want escape, not engagement. I don't think this is a life-long mode for me; only a season. There is a lot on my plate at the moment that I'm trying to get right, so my brain escaping is like a release valve. I'm gonna let it do its thing.
As to the dreams, I have had whole mystery/suspense/action movies as dreams. Kind of fun. There used to be horror ones as well, which I am happy to say have not happened for awhile. The nice thing now, is that usually I am more of an observer during the scary bits. I've only ever written down bits and pieces which stuck with me though. When I wake up and try to tell someone about them, they don't have the same impact as they did when I was in the middle of them. Ah well.
>47 MrsLee: "So hard to focus enough on them at the moment, because my brain seems to want escape, not engagement. I don't think this is a life-long mode for me; only a season."
This is pretty much where I am as well, and I'm just going to have to go with it for the next six months or so.
>48 clamairy: that's a great thing about books - they are patient and will wait until you are ready :)
Well, that was a short reading spurt of one book, apparently.
Tuesday night I didn't start a new book because my husband and I went to gather rocks for the garden from the river, then stopped at a new Mexican restaurant for dinner where I ordered a beer, husband ordered a beer, and the waitress brought us half of another beer (supposedly just a taste!) for comparison. Husband drank the "taste" and made (well, okay, there wasn't much force involved) drink the two full ones. Can't read when I'm tipsy.
Yesterday I found elderflowers blooming by my workplace, and grape leaves. So I sent a message to my sister to bring some ground game meat when she comes and I would make dolmas for Friday night dinner. So I spent the evening cleaning the grape leaves and picking the tiny, tiny elder-blossoms off of the stems because apparently the stems are poisonous! This is a tedious process which took me 2 hours to finish. Happily re-watching Death in Paradise on Netflix. Then I had to make the simple syrup and pour it over the blossoms. Got to bed at 10, when I usually am there at 9.
Tonight I need to spend getting some housework done because my sister is arriving Friday, and my two brothers on Saturday to celebrate my mother's 87th birthday with us. I don't see me having time to get involved in a book until maybe Sunday. :/ Still, life is fun too.
Sounds like you're having a lovely time. Books will be there when you need them. You know that.
>51 MrsLee: Have a wonderful family time. It sounds like nice things are what is keeping you from books.
Now, I am sitting in an airport waiting for my flight and Sam Spade is telling me I only anither thirty pages to read. Must go.
In spite of all the wonderful activity this weekend, I managed to finish a book, Talking God by Tony Hillerman. The company all went home by yesterday noon, so I was able to relax the rest of the day. I like spending time with Lt. Joe Leaphorn and officer Jim Chee.
I think the next quicky book I shall try will be Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines. Trying to keep it light for now.
Finished Water at the Roots by Philip Britts. What a lovely surprise for me. No time to do a proper write up at the moment. Let it suffice that this is a Five star book for me which will be cherished and revisited when I need perspective on the world at large. I know poetry about as well as I know wine, in that, I know what I like but can't tell you why. It is enough for me that I love it.
Still no time to write a proper review, but here is a sample of some of the poetry from Water at the Roots.
I may not move, while that lone tuft of cloud
Still holds the fairy hues,
An opal thrown against the sky;
And were this shovel in my hand a waiting sword,
And all the great crusaders beckoned me-
I could not move, until the glory passed.
1936 Philip Britts
The Hour on Which we Look
Now is the harvest of Death,
Now the red scythe-blade of slaughter
Sweeps through the children of Eve.
We stand in a circle of silence,
The wings of the Reaper are hissing-
And what could our speaking achieve?
And we, as we stand in our silence,
Hear the laugh of the sower of fate,
Who scattered the seed in the hearts of the tribes,
And who reaps now the hate.
Only the music of a wild wind in trees,
Or the rumble of thunder, the roar of the rain,
The shouting of demons who ride on the storm winds of wrath
Can tell of the tempest that howls like a wolf on the plain;
Where the earth carried wheat, and the waters were sweet,
But now stink with the blood of the slain.
1940 Philip Britts
>56 MrsLee: I'm no fan of poetry (I don't appreciate it) but I liked both of those poems, thank you for sharing them.
>57 fuzzi: It was very difficult to choose only two to share. Most of them called to me.
I still haven't written my review for this work, Water at the Roots, and I think I won't share too much about it, due to its nature. However, if you are of a spiritual nature, and enjoy reading about people who have stretched themselves and struggled with the meaning of life, I recommend this to you. Even though the author of the poetry and essays was a member of a Christian group called the Bruderhof, the book is not written with that passionate evangelical push. I found it interesting in an historical way, and inspiring in the poetry, which covers organic gardening, war, ecstasy of discovering nature, and yes, some bits of faith.
This will be a book I return to when I need beauty and inspiration. Five stars from me.
Oh yeah. Poems that rhyme. I remember those. Haven't seen any for a while. Thank you for sharing.
My father-in-law knew a couple of Bruderhof residents. He admired their desire to share all their worldly goods, but there were other aspects he couldn't take.
Libriomancer was a fun adventure, but I don't feel the need to follow up with the next in the series. That has more to do with my mood than the quality of the read.
I began Chocolat yesterday. It is not as easy to read as the movie was to watch. I am not into the dark broodiness of it. Making the priest such an asshole. It is striking me as an arrogant thing, even though I can fully acknowledge that small towns can come across as the author portrays it, and I understand what she is doing, and I loved the movie. Just my mood again, I think.
>61 Bookmarque: Hahaha! Right. Somehow, this is a book whose film completely did it better IMO. The film also portrayed the angst and troubles of the souls of folks, especially folks who try so very hard to be righteous and force others into righteousness as well (regardless of what their "righteous" bent is, it isn't always religion), and yet there was grace as well. There was a measure of forgiveness and understanding of the forces that move people. The book seemed to be more of a knee-jerk response, sort of "So there, you jerk!" kind of thing.
The following comment possibly steps across the line of religion in this group. I will remove it if required, but I beg tolerance until I get a chance to write my review, because it popped into my head while typing here and I want to remember it in case I use it in my review. Thank you.
>62 MrsLee: I think the spirit of the ban on politics or religion is to stop people preaching or arguing on the topics. My understanding would be that a discussion on the content of a book is fair dingum cobber. As long as one is not using it as an opportunity to convert or convince it is ok. I think your comments were grand for the GD. I await correction.
>62 MrsLee: I too would see your comments here as descriptive rather than anything else. That being so, they are 100% legit IMHO.
Your consideration for others is commendable. I agree with Peter And Hugh on their understanding of the rule. I think there is one added result of the happenings, but I can't find the angle brackets on my phone so it will have to wait till tomorrow.
>62 MrsLee: I just read your review of Chocolat and I do not see it causing a problem in the GD.
By the way, my wife an a friend or ours read the book and loved it. I gave it a go and was finding it well written and was looking forward to good things. I was almost half-way through it and mentioned to my wife and the friend that I was finding it ok but that I was still waiting for something to happen. They both said, "Nothing happens!"
For some reason I could not build up the enthusiasm to go back to the book and have not gone near is since.
I have not seen the film.
>62 MrsLee: I would say that the events enable
>71 Darth-Heather: Yes, that is one of my favorites! In fact I was wishing I could watch it again on Saturday when I was watching "Burnt."
>72 Jim53:, that about describes it. You are only missing the Mesoamerican mythology and seductive chocolate dinner. I have a sauce recipe for enchiladas or tamales which has a combo of chocolate and chili among other things, which sends shivers of delight down to your toes. Mmmmm
On Sunday, I sat down and read The Girls at the Kingfisher Club all the way through. This is my review/reaction to the story.
A modern retelling of the tale "12 Dancing Princesses," this story is enchanting. Twelve sisters, locked away by their father from the world, manage to find a way to escape to the nightlife of New York city in the 1920s. The story of what became of them is told with the voice and mood of the fairy tale and carries the reader away.
What a fun read! I started it on an extremely hot day when there was little else I could do because my A/C was broken and all I wanted was to sit with an icy drink in front of the fans. This book was perfect for the occasion. Because the most of the action takes place in various speakeasies in New York City during Prohibition, I thought the suitable drink would be my lemon infused gin in a gilded teacup. It was.
I am now reading in the land of the Grasshopper Song by Mary Ellicott Arnold and her companion in the adventure ...Reed. I'll look it up when I have more time. Poor second authors. It is a nonfiction about two east coast white women and the natives they were sent to "mother" in a part of California near me, in 1908 and 1909. I have high hopes for it. Loving the women's narrative so far as they tell about their trek to get to one of the remotest and wild spots in California.
>62 MrsLee: I have been in this position numerous times. One of the most enjoyable things about this group is to watch rule-abiding folks who act in good faith try hard to respect the GD rules in reviewing books that are overtly or even controversially religious or political. Please continue! :)
>76 stellarexplorer: Thank you for the encouragement.
I'm still in the middle of my trip, will do a proper thread for that when I return. I bought my tablet along so I could make a dent in my Kindle library, but what with meeting GD folks in bookstores, and having lovely book purchases in hand, I've begun reading two print titles. One is about the literary history of bars in NYC. I left it at the resort in the Poconos, which we return to today, so I don't quite remember the proper title, but it is interesting.
The other is Rules of Civility, by Amor Towles, which I am enjoying very much, but in a different way than A Gentleman in Moscow.
Catching up is hard to do.
I finished reading Rules of Civility. I wasn't sure I was enjoying it along the way, but in the end, I enjoyed the trip. My mom is reading it at the moment, about half way through, and she says she loves how the cast and characters keep twisting. That's what I wasn't sure about while reading, and yet it felt right when it was finished. What I loved, was the setting, both place and time. I'm sure it meant more to me because I had just been in NYC for the first time, and so could "see" many of the places mentioned. It felt right.
I began reading:
Storied Bars of New York by Delia Cabe, interesting, easy to put down because each chapter tells of a different bar with a brief history of the place and peoples who frequented it. Also easy to pick up again, I'm thinking this will be finished in my bathroom, after I finish It Must've Been Something I Ate, which is also chapter length essays.
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin, this one I began, but it was heavy material, and I didn't want to read that on my trip, so I will start it up again after I finish In The Land of the Grasshopper Song, although I may slip in a mystery first. I'm feeling the need for a nice little mystery.
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz, which is good and interesting and inspiring for a lady who likes to ferment and likes to do it with as little fuss as possible.
Interesting note: there is a thread somewhere in Talk asking what are we reading for Pride month. I hadn't intentionally picked anything to read for it, but both James Baldwin and Sandor Ellix Katz were/are unapologetic homosexuals, and Sandor sprinkles in bits of alternative lifestyles encouragement throughout his book. :)
I haven't picked up a book since I got home though. Too many things to catch up on, too tired, etc.
Hmm, beginning of July and if my record-keeping is correct, I only finished 2 books in June. That is somewhat of a record low for me. Does it count that they were both 4 star books for me? Does it count that I have half a dozen nonfiction books I'm dipping in and out of at the moment? Sigh.
>82 MrsLee: I've had some very low number months, mainly due to real life interference.
It's July first, time to start anew!
>83 fuzzi: :) Thank you for the encouragement! Yes, real life has been busy this month, what with my vacation and getting ready for it, etc. Also, I'm finding myself whipped when I get home from work. No energy or mental ability to read, so that's 5 days out of 7 that I can't read. Then on the weekends I work like a crazy woman to get all the food prepped, clothes washed, garden cared for, etc. for the coming week. Still, I used to be able to read after work, and now I can't. Not sure what's up with that.
>82 MrsLee: You spent a lot of time meeting up with Green Dragoneers and giving away skeletons! Who could have had time to read?
I finished in the land of the Grasshopper Song yesterday. A very gratifying read. The authors have a dry wit, and it can be found often between the lines. The way they "dealt" with the natives they were sent to care for was enlightening. It may be the first book I've read which simply regarded the natives as people and neighbors.
Then I tried Murder is Binding. Wish I hadn't. Oh well.
I need a refreshing book, I may just hop into one of my Nero Wolfe novels. Not sure.
>81 MrsLee: I don’t even know where the quilt is or if I took a picture. I’ll see if I can find it.
I picked up an Agatha Christie book to read as a comfort read. It did just that. Elephants Can Remember
The phrasing and conversations were very repetitive, with an almost lulling effect, although I became tired of it by the end of the book. I also solved the mystery fairly early on, but that is irrelevant because I was reading for comfort, not intellectual stimulation. I found it interesting that folks in their 50s, 60s and 70s were referred to in terms such as elderly, grey-haired, arthritic, etc. This was written in the early 1970s. We've come a long way, baby. That age group are my contemporaries now, and they are anything but decrepit and senile.
Instead of starting a new book, I'm going to try to push through the It Must've Been Something I Ate book I've been reading for several months now. Also want to finish Storied Bars of New York and Wild Fermentation.
Sounds like a lovely, soothing way to spend your time. I'm doing the same with my reading. Nothing upsetting or shocking. And good for you for solving the mystery. I never can with Dame Agatha.
>91 Bookmarque: I'm wondering if it's just that I've read so many mysteries that my mind knows most of the tricks? I never used to be able to solve any mysteries I read, but lately it is hard to find one I can't solve. And by solve, I mean knowing who did what and sometimes how, but not all the little details that take us there. Double identities, the death that isn't a death, and other tricks, I've read a lot of them so I think my brain sees the patterns and clues. Not always though, and it is great fun to be mystified through most of the story.
I did finish It Must've Been Something I Ate. I enjoyed reading it for the most part, if only for his enthusiasm over food, and his very dry sense of humor. As for the recipes, most of them I will not try and am not even interested in trying. They require complicated techniques, lots of equipment, and ingredients I don't have access to, not unless I want to pay through the nose to get them, and sometimes not even then. I am trying to get my kitchen and cooking down to the basics and simplify.
There were many references to New York City and the food purveyors there, which makes me want to go back. In many ways, his enthusiasm for food, and his confidence in his opinions on all subjects, remind me of Brillat-Savarin.
I did pick up one of my 5 BIG books that I want to finish this year. I began reading Sword at Sunset and it seems to have good promise. A story of King Arthur, by Rosemary Sutcliff, told as if he were an historical figure, not with all the legend stuff.
>92 MrsLee: I do hope you enjoy Sword at Sunset. Coincidentally I just donated my partially read copy a couple of weeks ago. If I ever decide to give it another go it will be in digital form anyway, and my copy had some water (at least I hope it was water) damage. Plus it had been collecting (inches of) dust for the past 17 years.
(It Must've Been Something I Ate looks like my kind of book!)
>93 clamairy: It may be a little more world building than I want to get into right now, but I'm going to give it a good shot anyway. At least her writing doesn't annoy me. :)
>93 clamairy: I ended up setting it aside and picking up The Last Detective by Peter Lovesey. It suits my mood much better.
Sword at Sunset is in first person. In trying to be authentic, none of the names of places or characters are recognizable to me, and don't seem to be on the tiny map provided in the book. Too much work for me at the moment, although it is what I would have gobbled up even 10 years ago or five? Will I ever read like that again?
>97 MrsLee: I hope so! I'm pretty much in the same boat. Plus I find I often choose to read meatier things in the Winter.
Finished reading The Last Detective after bedtime last night. Ta Da! A mystery which kept me in the dark until the end! I certainly had suspected the culprit, but was led away by red herrings and an intense desire for it to be a certain other character I had little liking for. The only thing this was missing was a dose of humor. The main character, while not lovable, was interesting, but he needed someone to be his Watson, or counterpoint. His wife was good, but we only glimpsed her. Repartee, probably a good thing for an author to avoid if it doesn't come naturally to them, but done well, it will make me a fan forever. This mystery was good enough for me to read the next by this author though. The story was very well done. I'm giving it 3 1/2 stars, right up there with Agatha Christie, Dick Francis and Tony Hillerman in my estimation.
I think I am now ready to give James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son a serious try.
Still having trouble settling to read. I thought I was getting into it again, then fire.
Baldwin is still languishing by my chair. He takes a lot of brain work which isn't available right now. Instead I picked up The Broken Teaglass by Emily Arsenault to try. The prologue left me confused and intrigued, now it is slow but interesting while the narrator describes their job as a lexicographer at a dictionary publishing house. I'll keep at it, even if it is just one chapter a day I am managing at present.
>101 MrsLee: Hey, a little reading is better than none. At least I hope so, because that's all I'm managing too right now.
Finished Storied Bars of New York: Where Literary Luminaries Go to Drink, by Delia Cabe. What fun this was to read! Full of trivia and enticing cocktail recipes, it makes me want to go back to NYC for a bar tour.
Glad you're back in the swing of things, but it's TOTALLY understandable in the situation.
Reading bits and pieces, here and there. Still in the James Baldwin book. I have to read it in small bits, it is so sad, discouraging, bitter and revealing. Written in the 1950s, we have come a long way, and yet clearly our hearts have not ("our" meaning the nation as a whole). Very glad to be reading it though, however difficult it is to swallow. This is the conversation I have been wanting to have with someone for a very long time, but it is an impossible one for me to start.
Yesterday at work was slow, so I was able to read some more in The Broken Teaglass. I am enjoying the way the author reveals bits and pieces of the backgrounds of the characters here and there. Glad I'm reading this one on my ereader, for instant dictionary access to words I don't know. Interesting that one of the words, carceral, mentioned as not being in the dictionary they are working on, wasn't in the ereader dictionary either.
I am also finding the inner workings of lexicography fascinating. Stuff I never thought about before.
Managed to finish two books yesterday! Granted, one was a very small picture book, but as you will see from my review below, it felt like a good read.
Bilbo's Last Song, This book is packed with more goodness inside than its size implies. Pauline Baynes created illustrations for the poem Bilbo wrote to commemorate his last adventure; the trip into the West with the elves. That's not all though. At the bottom of each page is a tiny picture to illustrate scenes from The Hobbit. That's not all though. The stanzas of the poem, one to a page, are surrounded by an illustration of various types of old withered trees, covered in wildlife and woodland creatures, and the first letter is illuminated beautifully. All of the illustrations are beautifully detailed with many lovely sights to discover. Tiny little jewels. At the end of the book, the quotations which inspired the illustrations are included, along with a bit of information about the pictures.
I also finished The Broken Teaglass. An interesting read, which somehow didn't do something for me in the end, but I'm glad I read it.
ETA: Oh, I definitely quit reading Sword at Sunset and got rid of it. Not happening for me, but others may (and apparently do, from the ratings) like it.
I'm torn over what book to begin. Reading has been so difficult for me lately. Just settling down to it seems such a chore. It isn't a problem with the books, it is with me. My random choosing off of the shelves picked Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways by Valerie Hemingway. I will try it, and if it doesn't appeal, guess I'll pick another mystery to read. They seem to be satisfying me consistently this year.
>110 MrsLee: I am finding it hard to get good books this year. I have had a couple of good ones, but many run-of-the-mill ones too. Last year I had a great run of books, albeit not very many.
The Hemingway book is probably going to be a skimmer. The author is very snide. Possibly she has earned it over her years of dealing with the family, but it doesn't seem fair to take pot shots at them after they are dead.
>112 MrsLee: I don't care for snide books...why can't people just tell the story and stop playing games?
It was slow yesterday at work, I had my tablet there, so I began reading The Grey Mask, a Miss Silver mystery by Patricia Wentworth. I've yet to meet Miss Silver, and I'm at chapter 10, but I'm enjoying the story very much.
>114 MrsLee: Enjoying the story is the main thing. I am glad you have found something that is rewarding your reading effort.
Managed to finish in a skimming sort of way Running with the Bulls by Valerie Hemingway. I don't know. This book should have been fascinating, but it was rather a slog to get through. There were enough interesting parts in it that I kept reading, but I didn't enjoy it. Was it the tone of the author? For all her protestations that she loved the Hemingways, etc., she seemed bitter and snide (not without reason on the bitter part). Or is it simply that looking too close at the lives of even the most celebrated writers ruins the patina and we see how really mundane it is? Or do I simply not have enough love of Hemingway the writer to be fascinated by all the dirty little tidbits of his life? This is not told without compassion, the author did seem to see the family individuals for who they were and loved them in spite of it. Somehow her voice doesn't ring true for me though. She was so young when she went into a strange and compromising situation, then her relationship with Mary Hemingway, and later marrying Hemingway's estranged son. I don't know. It all seems bizarre and a bit twisted somehow.
I read the first chapter in The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza by Lawrence Block. It seems promising.
That does sound weird...especially marrying the son. Ew. Not in the least tempted to read it or Hemingway although I did look at his old house in Key West a long time ago.
I'm happy to see that you are reading some. That Baldwin book must have ripped your heart out, though. I had a similar experience when I started listening to Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I had to set it aside but I do plan to go back and finish it.
How have I never seen a copy of Bilbo's Last Song?
>117 MrsLee: I haven't read that particular Bernie, but I enjoyed the first couple of the series. Hope you'll have fun with this one!
>119 clamairy: You've described it exactly. But I would read it all over again. Well worth the heartache to feel that one has gained a bit of insight. :) I would like to read something he wrote later in his life, to see if he had any insights about whether or not things have progressed. My thought is, yes, and no.
I hadn't seen the Bilbo book until recently either!
>120 Jim53: I read an hour past bedtime last night, so something must be good, although I have a hard time rooting for a burglar.
>118 Bookmarque: Hemingway is an author I have loved some of, not so much all of, his works. I've actually only read two that I can think of, maybe a couple more, or maybe I just saw the movies. For Whom the Bell Tolls I read while I was still in high school. I remember being absolutely captivated, and devastated. The Old Man in the Sea I love.
Recovering from a root canal, so not feeling up to being creative twice. So, I'm simply posting my review of The Burglar who Studied Spinoza here.
Bernie Rhodenbarr owns a bookstore in New York City, but supplements his income with burglary. His good friend Carolyn, owns a pet grooming shop, and has become his partner in crime. When one of their burglaries becomes complicated by a corpse, Bernie must solve the murder before he goes down for it.
This had many enjoyable aspects. The characters were interesting, as were the details of the city. The plot was nicely complicated, and although I saw some of it coming, I did not see the whole picture, so that was refreshing. Nor did I feel the author pulled the solution out of his hat at the end. I have problems rooting for Bernie though. Burglary to me is highly invasive and violating, not something to be taken lightly, so my heart wasn't in it. I also did not like that Bernie planted some evidence to make sure his allegations took; and there were chalk lines where the corpse had lain. Something done for TV and movie effects, not in life. With these quibbles, I won't seek out any more of these books, but if one dropped in my path, I might read it because I enjoyed the telling of the tale.
I am not committed to my next read, although I have opened two books and dabbled in them.
I'm dabbling in three books. I know exactly how you feel about not wanting to commit.
>122 MrsLee: I think a root canal is creative enough for anyone. I wish you a swift recovery.
>124 suitable1: They sort of enjoy it in the short run, but it leaves them with no lasting satisfaction. ;)
>125 pgmcc: Thank you. Today it feels like I got socked in the jaw, but I can function. I'm putting of any serious brain work another day though.
I may be watching too many Midsummer Murders though. When I came to the reveal in that mystery I started hearing the theme song in my head.
Dipping into And Four to Go by Rex Stout. A reread of many times, I needed to remind myself that a mystery can be lots of fun without being simple or cloying.
Finished And Four to Go last night. As enjoyable as ever.
I'm enjoying Just Plain Folks by Lorraine Johnson-Coleman, although taking it in small bits due to my lack of concentration/time.
Also reading The Godwulf Manuscript by Robert B. Parker. This is my second book by Parker and I find him readable, in the way that Dick Francis is readable for me. In other words, his stories hold me, but do not compel me to rereads.
*waving hi in the midst of everything else*
I never found Parker to be that compelling of a read either.
I finished The Godwulf Manuscript, which was very disappointing if you expected to be immersed in medieval literature, or learn anything about illustrated manuscripts. That wasn't really why I bought this on Kindle. Having read and enjoyed one Robert B. Parker Spencer novel, I thought I would try a couple more. They are okay. About in line with Lee Child, a bit more witty and sarcastic, very much dated in the 1970s. Parker describes the clothing in all its lurid details, along with the hairdos and the lifestyles. Sex, drugs and rock n roll, baby!
My random pick off the TBR shelves brought me The Picnic and Other Inimitable Stories by Gerald Durrell. I'm looking forward to this!
>131 MrsLee: Nope. Wouldn't expect that series would appeal to you at all. Robert Parker is nothing like Rex Stout.
Better luck w/ the Durrell!
>132 jillmwo: There are a fair amount of mystery authors which I can read, but I don't collect their books. Agatha Christie, Tony Hillerman, Dick Francis, Dashiell Hammett and many of the other noir writers are among some of them. I think Robert B. Parker may be there as well, but I will have to read one more book to know for sure. As I say, the first one of his I read was pleasantly surprising to me, the second rather meh, but with interesting bits in it, so a third is required, but not any time soon. :D
By the way, the Durrell is terrific! One story had me laughing so hard my husband wanted to know if I was okay, several others have had some lol moments, but all are amusing.
I think you winged me with the Durrell. I just requested it from the library on the far side of the county, where there is more money and more books.
I finished reading The Picnic and Other Inimitable Stories by Gerald Durrell yesterday. Delightful, and it ended with a very seasonal creepy, creepy story!
My intention is to begin reading Sharpe's Fortress by Bernard Cornwall, as my reading chair book, today. I realize it is third in the series, and somewhere in this house, my LT catalog tells me, I have the second installment, but I can't find it and this is the book my blind draw pulled from the shelves. I figure this one will tell me whether I like them or not, then I can do a proper search and fill in if I do. If not, I will be able to re-home 2 books!
Yesterday I began on my tablet at work I began, The Case is Closed by Patricia Wentworth. Liking it so far, if work gets busy, I may have to bring my tablet home.
The other book which is engaging me at this time is in the throne room. Just Plain Folks Lots of small stories of exactly what the title says, about everyday plain colored folks in rural South Carolina. Folk wisdom, insights into a life I am unfamiliar with, poignant and sad at times, yet also hopeful. Good stuff.
Also still addicted to Midsomer Murders. In the 14th season, and I love how they managed to keep an Inspector Barnaby when the original actor wanted to retire.
Finished The Case is Closed. These seem pretty formulaic, and the author repeats the details a lot. Other than that, the characters are usually fun, and so it is readable if you can skim when they become repetitive. I won't be seeking out more, but will probably read the ones I have. Miss Silver, the detective, is rather a nonentity. I don't know why the author has her there at all. The other characters seem to get most of the facts and such, Miss Silver doesn't make enough of a showing to have any impact. The reader isn't allowed to see her method or reasoning capabilities. I like to engage with the detective in a story.
I've read a couple westerns by Robert B. Parker and enjoyed them enough to keep. My 90yo father has discovered Parker's other works, and has highly recommended them, so I guess I'll try. He's burning through a couple books a week!
I tried a Gerald Durrell a couple years ago, but it just didn't grab me. I recall putting it down and rehoming it, a "did not finish" for me.
Mysteries have never been a favorite genre of mine, but I've learned to appreciate some of them as I have gotten older. I love Laurie R. King's Holmes & Russell books (for the most part), enjoy Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael stories, but what I really, really like are Stuart Kaminsky's Rostnikov books, set in Soviet Russia...he does a lot of character-building which is something I thoroughly enjoy.
And for light-hearted fun I recommend Spencer Quinn's "dog" mysteries.
>139 fuzzi: I think my dad would have liked the Spencer novels, too.
My mom also loved the Durrell book, but she said she hated the last story, as it was so creepy. I wonder, do you like P.G. Wodehouse, or other British humorists? Because that is the camp I place Durrell in, but that sort of humor isn't for everyone.
One of these days I will try a Kaminsky mystery. I think he is on my wishlist so I don't forget him. :)
Oh, I love Gerald Durrell's books! I get a kick out of how he skewers big brother Larry--you have to wonder what their relationship was like after both were published.
>141 Marissa_Doyle: He dedicated this book to his sister, saying she was such a good sport through all the lampooning he did of her. I see that brother Lawrence was a prolific writer as well. Hopefully he took it in good nature. :)
I made a start on The Green Man's Heir by Juliet E. McKenna yesterday. It seems to have much potential as an interesting story, but I'm only on chapter 2.
>143 MrsLee: I hope you like it. I am half way through at this stage. I am still enjoying it.
Hello MrsLee! Consider me stupefied. ;-P Ypu hve managed to touch on three of my favorite literary subject all in a matter of a few posts. And it has nothing to do with fantasy.
>131 MrsLee: I'm sorry to hear that The Godwulf Manuscript was a disappointment. Spenser definitely falls within the hard boiled P.I. genre. If you decide to read more, the series is known for its snappy dialogue and 'hard hitting' action. I have enjoyed reading spenser over the years and, given the author's death in 2010, the estate chose a terrific author, Ace Atkins, to carry the torch. Probably more than you wanted to know.
>137 MrsLee: Sharpe! I read a few of these in the wake of watching the entire tv series featuring Sean Bean.
>140 MrsLee: I am intrigued by the Durrell and took the opportunity to check out a sample The allusion to Wodehouse helped greatly.
>144 pgmcc: Kindle says I am 50% through as well. It's a smidgen more graphic in the sex arena than I prefer, but the episodes have been brief and few. It is missing the sarcastic smart-ass humor to make it one of my "preferred" authors, but so far an absorbing and good read.
>145 brodiew2: Heh, when I first came to this group, it was because I loved Tolkien and Lewis. Those were the ONLY fantasy authors I had read. Fantasy is still not my go-to genre, but I have discovered a few excellent authors who have enriched my life here. I did not realize that Sean Bean was in the Sharpe series. I may have to look them up and watch a few as I adore him.
>146 fuzzi: Well, as you know, we each have our favorites, and what appeals to one doesn't always appeal to another, even if we think it should! lol
I finished Just Plain Folks this morning. It was a good read. An insight into a culture I would otherwise have no opportunity to see. Although I don't plan a reread of it, I do plan to keep it for awhile to loan out. The first few stories didn't overwhelm me, but after that, the author hit her stride and the characters came alive. All of the stories were an interesting window.
My new book for the Throne Room is Buried in Books: A Reader's Anthology by Julie Rugg. A collection of antidotes about reading from readers throughout the ages, what's not to love?
>147 MrsLee: By coincidence Juliet will be at Octocon this weekend. The sex was more graphic than I thought it would be. I wonder if she lets her teenaged sons read her books. :-)
I am enjoying the story and I think she has spun enough false trails to keep me wondering.
71% at this stage.
>148 pgmcc: I'm slightly bogged down, but more due to life than the story. Hoping to finish it today.
After that, I want to start Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome on my Kindle. It's been there awhile, since reading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. It got a push to the front yesterday when I was reading the intro to Buried in Books: A Reader's Anthology.
My life has become slightly more complicated since Thursday night when my mom had her third fall in a month. She is battling a UTI and it has made her weak. She has never injured herself falling before, but this time she fell on her nightstand and has a nasty bruise on her ribs, so she is in a lot of pain and unable to do much for herself. This means I need to be on hand to help her in and out of bed and such. She is a trooper though. Hoping this is temporary. The EMT personnel said nothing seemed to be broken. My sister is coming Monday evening to stay a few days and help. We need to put our heads together and reevaluate mom's care needs. So, readjustments ahead.
Oh no. I'm so sorry MrsL. I hope she heals and you can find a solution that works for all of you.
>149 MrsLee: I am sorry to hear about your mother's fall and the aftermath. I hope she gets over the pain soon and can be a bit more comfortable. I am sure she is very frustrated being a trooper and not able to do everything for herself. Thinking of you and yours.
>149 MrsLee: owie! The UTI would be bad enough, but a fall, too? I hope she heals well from both!
Thank you all. I am really looking forward to my sister's arrival today to ease the pressure a bit.
I managed to finish The Green Man's Heir yesterday. I will be giving it a solid three and a half stars. That's a good rating from me. It means that the book was enjoyable with few hiccups, but I won't feel the need to reread it. The story was interesting, and the characters were too. I am a bit partial to anything about the Green Man, and I thought McKenna did a good job with his nature and what it might be like to interact with him. Also with the naiads and dryads, etc. A fun read, and I would probably read a second book if she decided to make this a series.
The only reason it didn't make it to four stars, is that it didn't make me laugh, I didn't fall in love with anyone (meaning I won't be longing to return to their company), and it didn't move my soul in any way. Actually, if it had managed to hit all of those points it would have been a five star, but there you are.
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