harrygbutler's Tomes and Trifles in 2017, Part 1

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harrygbutler's Tomes and Trifles in 2017, Part 1

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Dec 21, 2016, 12:42pm

Hello, I’m Harry, and this will be my second year in the 75 Books Challenge. By training I'm a medievalist, by occupation an editor; my taste in reading runs to Golden Age and earlier mysteries, pulp detective and adventure fiction, Late Antique and medieval literature, and westerns, among others. I also have a fondness for collections of cartoons and comic strips. A fairly recent discovery for me is the appeal of late nineteenth and early twentieth century popular fiction. I usually have a few books going at once.

My wife Erika and I live in eastern Pennsylvania with three cats — Elli, Otto, and Pixie — and a dog, Hildy. Our pets occasionally make an appearance in my thread. My other interests include model railroading, gardening, and birding, so you'll sometimes see something related to them as well.

I enjoyed the Take It or Leave It challenges in 2016, and I'm sure I'll take part again. I may try some other challenges this year, too, if time permits.

I try to provide some sort of comment on the books I read, but they aren't really reviews.

Edited: Mar 16, 2017, 8:15am

Books completed in the first quarter of 2017

1. Why Shoot a Butler?, by Georgette Heyer
2. The Exeter Book Riddles, trans. by Kevin Crossley-Holland
3. Bear Island, by Alistair MacLean
4. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 919-966, ed. and trans. by Bernard S. Bachrach and Steven Fanning
5. Murder in Maryland, by Leslie Ford
6. Kate Carnegie, by Ian Maclaren
7. Babylonian Literary Texts in the Schøyen Collection, by A. R. George
8. The Destroying Angel, by Norman Klein
9. Sweet Danger, by Margery Allingham
10. Rudder Grange, by Frank R. Stockton
11. Best Cartoons of the Year 1943, ed. by Lawrence Lariar
12. Norse Romance I: The Tristan Legend, ed. by Marianne E. Karlinke
13. The Footsteps at the Lock, by Ronald A. Knox
14. Proverbs of Ancient Sumer, by Bendt Alster
15. Solomon Kane, by Robert E. Howard
16. Hägar the Horrible: The Epic Chronicles: The Dailies 1983 to 1984, by Dik Browne
17. The Case Is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth
18. Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, ed. by Milton J. Davis and Charles R. Saunders
19. Ava's New Testament Narratives: "When the Old Law Passed Away", by Ava
20. The Blackout, by Constance and Gwenyth Little
21. Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West, ed. by Alan Thacker and Richard Sharpe
22. Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West: Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough, ed. by Julia M.H. Smith
23. Lonesome Road, by Patricia Wentworth
24. Gray Dusk, by Octavus Roy Cohen
25. East of Samarinda, by Carl Jacobi
26. Partners in Crime, by Agatha Christie
27. The Crock of Gold, by James Stephens
28. The Eye in the Museum, by J. J. Connington
29. The Life of Bishop Wilfrid, by Eddius Stephanus
30. League of the Grateful Dead and Other Stories, by Day Keene

Dec 21, 2016, 1:53pm

Happy reading in 2017, Harry!

Dec 21, 2016, 2:57pm

Welcome back!

Dec 21, 2016, 3:01pm

Happy Reading >1 harrygbutler: !

Dec 21, 2016, 6:01pm

Harry, I will be a regular again as you navigate your sophomore year in the 75ers. You were a great addition to our number in 2016, buddy.

Dec 21, 2016, 6:49pm

>3 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita!

>4 drneutron: Thank you, Jim, for stopping by, and for setting up the group!

>5 mellymel171328: Thank you, Melissa!

>6 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I've very much enjoyed the group.

Dec 21, 2016, 7:28pm

Here I am!!!

Your thread now has a star...

Dec 21, 2016, 8:04pm

Goodness, Harry, we share a lot of interests! I took a sabbatical from LT last year, so missed your freshman experience. I'll be following along this year, though.
Hanging my star...

Dec 21, 2016, 9:50pm

Lovely thread topper! Dropping my star.

Dec 21, 2016, 9:52pm

Hi Harry! I missed your thread last year, but I have you starred now. It looks like there's quite a bit of overlap in our reading interests. I'm a big fan of Golden Age & other vintage mysteries. And dogs, so I'll be on the lookout for Hildy! Not so much of a cat fan, but mostly because I'm allergic to them.

Dec 22, 2016, 7:49am

Hi Harry!

Dec 22, 2016, 2:18pm

>8 fuzzi: Hi, fuzzi! Thanks for dropping in.

>9 bohemima: Hi, Gail! It's always nice to find someone with similar interests.

>10 thornton37814: Thanks, Lori! The thread topper is from Joseph C. Lincoln's Christmas Days, which I just read this month. I'm going to try to include more illustrations from the books I read in this year's thread.

>11 cbl_tn: Hi, Carrie! Hildy will likely make an appearance soon.

>12 The_Hibernator: Hi, Rachel! Thanks for stopping by!

Dec 29, 2016, 6:22pm

Hi, Harry - so glad you'll be with us again! :)

Dec 29, 2016, 7:36pm

>14 lyzard: Thanks, Liz!

Dec 31, 2016, 8:21am

Edited: Jan 2, 2017, 7:18pm

I am part of the group.
I love being part of the group.
I love the friendships bestowed upon my by dint of my membership of this wonderful fellowship.
I love that race and creed and gender and age and sexuality and nationality make absolutely no difference to our being a valued member of the group.

Thank you for also being part of the group.

Edited: Dec 31, 2016, 2:55pm

>16 The_Hibernator: >17 PaulCranswick: Thank you, and Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2016, 5:17pm

Fingers crossed for a better, kinder 2017.

Edited: Dec 31, 2016, 7:18pm

>19 lyzard: Thanks, Liz! Happy New Year to you!

Jan 1, 2017, 12:53am

Happy New Year!

Jan 1, 2017, 9:24am

A happy, healthy, and safe new year to you, Harry!

Jan 1, 2017, 9:52am

Thanks, Gail! And to you!

Jan 2, 2017, 2:44pm

One of the books I received for Christmas, which I am now reading, is a volume of translations of the Old English riddles contained in the Exeter Book, one of the four important surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry. Riddle 47 concerns the pernicious pest, the book moth. It is not a bad poem, but its source, No. 16 among Symphosius' Aenigmata, is a better poem:

Littera me pavit nec quid sit littera novi:
In libris vixi nec sum studiosior inde;
Exedi Musas nec adhuc tamen ipsa profeci.

The Bookworm
I thrive on letters yet no letters know,
I live in books, the made more studious so,
Devour the Muses, but no wiser grow.
(text and translation from The Hundred Riddles of Symphosius)

Jan 2, 2017, 6:43pm

Stopping by to say "hi!" and drop a star. I hope you have a Happy New Year!

Jan 2, 2017, 7:14pm

Thank you, Jennifer! And to you!

Edited: Jan 2, 2017, 8:06pm

1. Why Shoot a Butler?, by Georgette Heyer

January TIOLI Challenge #16: Read a book in which bad/extreme weather plays a part

Barrister Frank Amberley, wandering the countryside while attempting to follow a shortcut to his aunt and uncle’s place, happens upon a car stopped by the side of the road; a woman is standing beside the car, and within the car is a man who has just been shot. Frank believes Shirley Brown when she tells him she did not kill the man, and later, when reporting the murder to the police, Frank suppresses her involvement, deciding instead to investigate the affair — which he considers bigger than the murder alone — himself. His course is made easier when the police ask for his assistance, and a subsequent encounter with Shirley at a fancy dress ball at Norton Manor (where the murdered man had been butler) gives him a lead. More murder follows, with moves and countermoves and a thrilling chase.

Why Shoot a Butler? is an entertaining mystery from Georgette Heyer, though one in which the reader is not privy to all the clues. Still, the solution to the main mystery is fairly obvious, so the pleasure is rather in watching the effort to thwart villainous plans and bring the crimes home to the guilty. A standout character is Frank’s Aunt Marion, Lady Matthews, who despite appearances proves generally keen and decisive. Recommended.

First line: "The signpost was unhelpful."

Jan 2, 2017, 8:40pm

>27 harrygbutler: A classic for your first completion of the year!

Jan 2, 2017, 9:42pm

>28 thornton37814: I remember the book being around the house when I was younger, but I don't remember reading it then — and if I did read it back then, I certainly didn't remember any plot details now.

I've quite liked all the Heyer mysteries that I've read (most of them now, but possibly not all; I'll have to check).

Jan 2, 2017, 10:10pm

Averting my eyes as I have not read that one yet. (Only read a couple of Heyer's mysteries so far, though I'm expecting to encounter more of them this year.)

Jan 3, 2017, 5:00pm

>30 lyzard: I don't think I included any spoilers, but better safe than sorry, I guess, Liz. :-)

Jan 3, 2017, 5:02pm

2. The Exeter Book Riddles, trans. by Kevin Crossley-Holland

January TIOLI Challenge #4: Read a book you received for free in December 2016

The Exeter Book, one of the four major surviving manuscripts of Old English poetry, includes within it nearly 100 poetic “riddles” — some apparently based on, or parallel with, Latin riddles, while others seem rather more homegrown. Of the 96 riddles, Kevin Crossley-Holland provides poetic translations of 75 in the main text of this volume; another 16, which are in a damaged or incomplete state in the manuscript, are translated in the notes; 5 are left untranslated, generally because too much is missing. Agreed-upon solutions to the riddles are provided in the notes as well, and Crossley-Holland notes when there is substantial disagreement or uncertainty. All in all, a decent set of translations, but I think it would have been a much stronger volume had the Old English originals been included as well.

Opening of the first riddle in Old English (lines 1 – 6a):
Hwylc is hæleþa þæs horsc ⁊ þæs hygecræftig
þæt þæt mæge asecgan hwa mec on sið wræce
þōn ic astige strong stundū reþe
þrymful þunie þragum wræce
fere geond foldan folcsalo bærne
ræced reafige

Crossley-Holland’s translation:
Who is so clever and so quick-witted
as to guess who goads me on my journey
when I get up, angry, at times awesome;
when I roar loudly and rampage over the land,
sometimes causing havoc; when I burn houses
and ransack palaces?

Jan 3, 2017, 7:47pm

>32 harrygbutler: what's the answer?

Jan 3, 2017, 8:20pm

>33 fuzzi: It's said to be "storm on land." The whole first riddle is about three times as long as what I shared, and it is even possible that the first three riddles are actually one long riddle, which would then have the solution "storm," as the others involve some disturbances at sea, too.

Jan 3, 2017, 11:04pm

Ok, that's cool. I need to find that one!

Jan 4, 2017, 4:56pm

>35 drneutron: If you can't find the Crossley-Holland book, Jim, there's an edition by someone else available online, with both the Old English and a modern translation: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_Riddles_of_the_Exeter_Book.

Jan 4, 2017, 9:35pm

For one of this month's Take It or Leave It challenges, I'm reading Kate Carnegie, the third of Ian Maclaren's bestsellers from 1895-96. The specific challenge is a book with illustrations accompanying the text. My edition of the book is copiously illustrated (though no illustrator is identified), with small pictures accompanying a large initial at the start of each chapter, as well as larger illustrations (mostly full-page). Here are a couple reading- or library-related illustrations from the book:

An illustration with a large initial.

A close-up of the illustration.

One of the full-page illustrations.

Jan 5, 2017, 12:45pm

I love Heyer, but haven't read any of her mysteries.

Jan 6, 2017, 7:11am

>37 harrygbutler: Oh, my poor Jeremiah! That's a first page that would grab me. Does the rest of the book live up to its beginning promise?

Jan 6, 2017, 7:43pm

>38 The_Hibernator: I think they're well worth a look. So far I haven't read any of her romances.

Edited: Jan 6, 2017, 7:56pm

>39 2wonderY: Thanks for stopping by, Ruth! I haven't actually reached Jeremiah yet — he comes a bit later in the book than I've reached — but so far I've been enjoying Kate Carnegie quite a bit. Of course, I liked the other two books set in and around Drumtochty when I read them last year, so that I knew what I was likely to get. There is a fair amount of Scottish dialect when the characters speak, but I haven't found it a hindrance.

Here's the opening of the book:

The hustle and bustle of a railway station that is handling a rare abundance of passengers is well done in the first chapter, "Pandemonium," with some amusing and enlightening incidents that drew me in.

If you wanted to sample Ian Maclaren you might want to take a look at his first bestseller, Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush, as it is really a collection of stories.

Edited: Jan 6, 2017, 11:01pm

3. Bear Island, by Alistair MacLean

January TIOLI Challenge #13: Read a book whose title includes, or whose subject concerns, an animal that hibernates

As the converted trawler Morning Rose heads north through the Norwegian Sea toward Bear Island (Bjørnøya), part of the Svalbard group, death strikes both passengers (a film crew) and crew: food poisoning, apparently, kills three and leaves four ill. Doctor Christopher Marlowe, who has been hired by the film company, suspects more than an accident, and he concludes that aconite may have been introduced into the horseradish served at dinner. Circumstances suggest that he is correct, and that his interest and suspicion have been noted. More deaths follow as the doctor pursues his investigation, and it isn’t clear whom he can trust.

I was a bit surprised to find this more mystery than adventure, though there are some good descriptions of the island and the arctic environment. An unexpected and effective twist helped add dimension to the story of a reasonably capable man attempting to thwart a clever killer. Recommended.

First sentence: "To even the least sensitive and perceptive beholder the Morning Rose, at this stage of her long and highly chequered career, must have seemed ill-named, for if ever a vessel could fairly have been said to be approaching, if not actually arrived at, the sunset of her days it was this one."

Jan 6, 2017, 8:03pm

Why Shoot a Butler? is one of the better Georgette Heyer mysteries I've read. It was a fun read.

Jan 7, 2017, 7:43am

>43 cbl_tn: I certainly enjoyed it.

Jan 7, 2017, 7:48am

Last October I read a collection of short stories by Henry Kane, Report for a Corpse, starring his series detective Peter Chambers. I've begun listening to episodes of the 1954 radio series Crime and Peter Chambers, with Dane Clark in the lead role — not great, but not too bad. I was pleased to recognize one of the episodes so far was based on one of the stories in the book.

Episodes are available at archive.org: https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Crime_and_Peter_Chambers_Singles

Jan 7, 2017, 10:41am

Snow has arrived at last, with a modest amount earlier in the week and more coming down today. Our bird feeders are mobbed.

This year we had some planters on the back porch that I've been using as feeding stations for the ground-feeding birds. The dark-eyed juncos in particular seem to like them, and it brings them up close enough for us to watch them easily through the kitchen window. Here is one that has just gotten a bite to eat.

Jan 7, 2017, 2:26pm

>41 harrygbutler: My trusty LT catalog says I own that book, though I know I haven't read it yet. And I think I can put my hands on it fairly easily.

Jan 8, 2017, 10:10am

>47 2wonderY: I hope you enjoy it, Ruth!

Jan 8, 2017, 10:10am

Just 16°F outside right now — I think it will be a good day to stay in and read!

Jan 8, 2017, 11:28am

4. The Annals of Flodoard of Reims, 919-966, ed. and trans. by Bernard S. Bachrach and Steven Fanning

January TIOLI Challenge #6: Read a book whose title includes at least two of the same number

Tenth-century cleric Flodoard of Reims wrote a number of works, including a history of the church of Reims (in present-day France); poetic accounts of saints of Palestine (in three books), Antioch (in ten books), and Italy (in fourteen books); and the work translated in this volume, his Annals chronicling the years 919–966. The Annals provide an account of the fracturing of Carolingian rule, particularly in what is now northern France, the Low Countries, and western Germany, and the struggles of the dynasty and its supporters against the representatives of what would become the Capetian dynasty. They also highlight the important role of Saxon king and emperor Otto the Great even in areas outside his realm, in part thanks to familial ties. Finally, they reveal the power of invading groups during this time of fragmentation and internecine strife; Scandinavians (not just the early Normans around Rouen, but a large body along the Loire and those dominating Brittany for a time as well), Saracens (who had a fortified outpost in southern Provence but operated as far north as modern Switzerland, interdicting travel from England and France to Rome), and Magyars (the future Hungarians, who raided through Italy and as far west as Aquitaine, though they were decisively defeated by Otto at the battle of Lechfeld) engaged in both raids and alliances with various contending parties. A surprise was a successful Byzantine naval operation against the Saracen base in Provence; though the tenth century was a period of recovery and resurgence of Byzantine power, I hadn’t realized they operated quite so far west. Unusual events — weather, astronomical phenomena, etc. — are also included, as well as the deaths of notable persons.

An interesting chronicle of events, but at times hard to follow because of the abundance of people and place. The translators helpfully provide bracketed identifiers for many, as well as copious notes. Recommended for those interested in the history of the period.

First line of the Annals: “In the year 919 from the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ, a marvelous hailstone fell at Reims.”

Jan 8, 2017, 6:35pm

>42 harrygbutler: It is years since I read that one Harry. I used to love MacLean, Innes, Bagley and Ambler when I was younger and have read all of them a time or two.

Jan 8, 2017, 9:59pm

>51 PaulCranswick: I like to have some sort of action or adventure story mixed in with my other reading, Paul. Ice Station Zebra will most likely be my next read by MacLean, but probably not before next month.

Jan 8, 2017, 10:03pm

5. Murder in Maryland, by Leslie Ford

January TIOLI Challenge #9: Read a book honoring SqueakyChu

Dr. Ruth Fisher is called to the home of Antoinette Wyndham, a mean but wealthy old woman estranged from her niece and two of her nephews (the third, the caddish but apparently devoted Richard, is expected to be her heir), by a young woman, Daphne Lake, who is staying the night. Upon arrival, she finds Nettie Wyndham dead — and clearly poisoned, as her dog has died as well from drinking her spilled water. What’s more, her will, which was seen earlier that day, has disappeared. Aside from her relatives, who all had cause to hate her, or at least want her out of the way, Nettie Wyndham also gave cause to the Penniman family, inducing an attack of pseudoangina in Alice Penniman at lunch earlier that day by threatening to burn down the Wyndham home, which Alice had wanted to buy for years. Police lieutenant Kelly comes down from Baltimore to investigate, and Dr. Fisher is an interested witness to his activities, as the clever detective uncovers secrets and threads his way through a maze of clues and false and true stories. Recommended.

First sentence: "Judge Garth's cold, ancient gray eyes met mine searchingly across the dusty ink-stained green baize top of his office table."

Edited: Jan 9, 2017, 11:10am

6. Kate Carnegie, by Ian Maclaren

January TIOLI Challenge #11: Read a book that contains some illustrations alongside the text

Ian Maclaren’s third bestseller in two years, Kate Carnegie, is a leisurely tale of religion and rural life in Scotland in the late nineteenth century. A romance provides the framework for the novel, which spans some six months, but with various digressions into the past and sketches of strife and saintliness. As with Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush and The Days of Auld Lang Syne, the author casts a gentle and sympathetic eye on humble sorrows and joys, day-to-day tragedies and triumphs, natural beauty and human nobility and kindness. I think Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush a more powerful book, but I quite liked this one as well and will probably read it again someday. Recommended.

As I read this for a challenge that highlighted illustrations, I’m including a couple more here. I’ve already posted a few above: http://www.librarything.com/topic/243932#5871693

First sentence: “It was the morning before the Twelfth, years ago, and nothing like unto Muirtown Station could have been found in all the travelling world.”

I quite enjoyed this passage on an abundance of books:

Book-shelves had long ago failed to accommodate Rabbi's treasures, and the floor had been bravely utilised. Islands of books, rugged and perpendicular, rose on every side; long promontories reached out from the shore, varied by bold headlands; and so broken and varied was that floor that the Rabbi was pleased to call it the Ægean Sea, where he had his Lesbos and his Samos. It is absolutely incredible, but it is all the same a simple fact, that he knew every book and its location, having a sense of the feel as well as the shape of his favourites. This was not because he had the faintest approach to orderliness — for he would take down twenty volumes and never restore them to the same place by any chance. It was a sort of motherly instinct by which he watched over them all, even loved prodigals that wandered all over the study and then set off on adventurous journeys to distant rooms. The restoration of an emigrant to his lawful home was celebrated by a feast in which, by a confusion of circumstances, the book played the part of the fatted calf, being read afresh from beginning to end.

Jan 9, 2017, 12:21pm

>54 harrygbutler: **great big grin** That passage is lovely!

Jan 9, 2017, 2:23pm

>54 harrygbutler: Book-shelves had long ago failed to accommodate Rabbi's treasures...
I think we all can realte to that ;-)

Jan 9, 2017, 5:53pm

>55 2wonderY: There were others that were quite good — including a line that I'm saving for a gardening post or thread later — but that one seemed just about the best for a general post.

>56 FAMeulstee: We certainly can, Anita! :-)

Jan 9, 2017, 6:42pm

>53 harrygbutler: I'm not sure I've tried anything by Leslie Ford. I'll have to keep an eye out for something by this author.

Jan 10, 2017, 6:51am

>58 cbl_tn: Her long-running series starred Grace Latham and Colonel Primrose. She also wrote the Mr. Pinkerton mysteries (and at least one other) under the name David Frome. I've read three of the Mr. Pinkertons and Scotland Yard Can Wait and enjoyed them.

Jan 10, 2017, 7:24am

>59 harrygbutler: I haven't read her under David Frome, either. I've read lots of the classic British mysteries, but not so many classic U.S. mysteries.

Jan 10, 2017, 1:18pm

Lovely book-shelves passage. I'm also enjoying reading your first sentences, my favorite so far being Bear Island up-thread.

Jan 10, 2017, 3:02pm

>60 cbl_tn: The David Frome books I've read are all set in England, Carrie, so they might be a good way for you to try out the author (whose real name was Zenith Jones Brown) if you have a preference for British settings.

Jan 10, 2017, 3:05pm

>61 countrylife: Thanks for stopping by, Cindy! I saw first lines included in some threads last year (such as those of Jennifer (inge87)) and liked the idea; I'm glad you're enjoying them.

Jan 10, 2017, 3:09pm

Rearranging the living room to bring the chairs close to the front windows has met with approval. Hildy is enjoying the recliner, and Otto has pretty much claimed the Morris chair for his own.

Jan 10, 2017, 9:06pm

Jan 11, 2017, 4:00am

>64 harrygbutler: They both look happy with your effords, Harry :-)

Jan 11, 2017, 2:01pm

Occasionally they'll share the same futon or bed — at opposite ends or with some space — but they much prefer separate seats!

Edited: Jan 11, 2017, 8:17pm

Cirsova is a new fantasy and science fiction magazine (first published last year) that aims to recapture the strengths of pulp magazine stories and early novels in the field. Four issues were published in 2016, and two issues are planned for this year. As my interests include such earlier entries in the genre, as well as pulp weird fiction and especially adventure, I went ahead and picked up the initial issue to give the fledgling publication a try.

The cover illustrates the first story, "The Gift of the Ob-Men," about an exile who encounters alien creatures who give him powers that enable him to return and survive peril along the way. Unfortunately, this lead story was one of the weaker in the volume, with an uncertain style for the protagonist (including turns of phrase that jarred with the material); it seemed too short for the amount the author was trying to accomplish as well.

"This Day, at Tilbury," in which a young wizard comes of age during a Spanish invasion of England at the time of the Armada, was better — a slight tale, but readable. "At the Feet of Neptune's Queen" was a largely successful sword-and-planet tale fatally weakened by an annoying twist at the end. "Rose by Any Other Name" was an OK story of an episode in the life of a lost time traveler, but it seemed more of an excerpt from a longer work than a separate tale. "Late Bloom," a steampunk sort of story, didn't really engage me. "The Hour of the Rat," on the other hand, worked well, with a protagonist on a quest for her stolen property ending up a witness to a battle between stronger forces. "A Hill of Stars," a novelette with a touch of alien menace mingled with swordplay, was pretty good. The one poem included, the first part of a poetic retelling of Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, was weak. An essay discussing the old role-playing game Traveller and E.C. Tubb's Dumarest books was interesting but in need of some editing.

Overall a tolerable first effort. Much of the content was only so-so in execution, and there were some editing and formatting issues (particularly with odd line breaks and hyphenation), but I'll be willing to try another issue.

For those who might want to sample the magazine, the content of the first two issues is available for free online at the Cirsova website at present.
Issue 1: https://cirsova.wordpress.com/cirsova-magazine/issue-1/
Issue 2: https://cirsova.wordpress.com/cirsova-magazine/issue-2/

Jan 11, 2017, 3:27pm

Hmm. Gonna have to check into the magazine - looks like it would be right up my alley.

Jan 11, 2017, 8:26pm

>69 drneutron: I hope you find it of interest, Jim.

Jan 11, 2017, 8:48pm

I've finished up reading parts of Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent, Volume 3 in the series Essays in Anglo-Saxon Studies. Not all of the essays caught my eye, so I won't be counting this as a book read this year. Among the more interesting to me: "On the Danish Origins of the Beowulf Story," "Saint Oswald and Anglo-Saxon Identity in the Chronicon Æthelweardi: The Correspondence of Æthelweard and Abbess Matilda," and particularly "Travel Between England and Italy in the Early Middle Ages."

I liked also that the essay "Panegyric and Reflection in a Poem of Abbo of Fleury to Ramsey Abbey" included the Latin poem that was the subject of the essay as well as a translation:
O Ramesiga cohors, amplis que claudere stagnis,
purior obrizo niteris esse Deo.

O noble throng of Ramsey, secluded by spreading waters,
You strive to be purer than gold for God's sake.

(ll. 1-2, ed. and trans. by Michael Lapidge)

Edited: Jan 13, 2017, 1:52pm

Question of the day:

inim.bal inim.šár.šár an.ta eme uriki.ra ki.ta e[me.gi7.ra] an.ta eme.gi7.[ra ki.ta eme uriki.ra] i.zu.u
inim.bal.e.da šu-ta-bu-la e-liš ak-ka-da-[a] šap-liš šu-me-ru šap-liš ak-ka-da-a e-liš šu-me-ru [t]i-de-e
Do you know translation and interpretation, from Akkadian into Sumerian, from Sumerian into Akkadian?

—Examenstext A 14, ed. Å. W. Sjöberg, in Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 64 (1975):137–76, as quoted and translated in the notes to an item in a book I'm reading right now, Babylonian Literary Texts in the Schøyen Collection

The first line is Sumerian, the second Akkadian.

(My answer is "no.")

Jan 14, 2017, 2:49pm

>72 harrygbutler: LOL Harry, same answer ;-)

Jan 14, 2017, 4:27pm

Yeah, what she said! :)

Jan 14, 2017, 5:16pm

>64 harrygbutler: Love the photo of Hildy and Otto! Adrian loves my recliner at night. He'll sit with whoever is occupying the chair. During the day, he prefers to sit on the back of the sofa and watch what isn't happening outside the picture window.

Jan 14, 2017, 5:50pm

>63 harrygbutler: Glad to see I'm making friends and influencing people. But first lines are so fun, once you start you just can't stop.

>64 harrygbutler: My dogs have a couch that they let humans sit on. Some would claim it actually belongs to my father, but anyone who uses it quickly learns otherwise.

>72 harrygbutler: I actually took some Sumerian courses when I was in Germany, which were fun but taught me that the answer is definitely "no".

Jan 14, 2017, 11:44pm

>73 FAMeulstee: >74 drneutron: I'd be very surprised if more than a handful of people in the world — if any — could answer "yes."

Jan 14, 2017, 11:45pm

>75 cbl_tn: Thanks, Carrie! Hildy spends most of her time on the couch with Erika in the evenings, but in the mornings she likes to squeeze into the recliner with me. When the couch was in front of the windows, she'd climb up on the back to watch for us when we came home from being out.

Jan 14, 2017, 11:54pm

>76 inge87: I'm enjoying including the first lines. In recent years I've not been very good about saving (or even marking) interesting passages in books I've read; this may ease me back into doing so.

It's amusing to me that our various animals have clear preferences in terms of places that they seem to consider "theirs." Hildy will share the recliner with either of us, and will grudgingly allow a cat on the person's lap as well, but she doesn't usually want the cats to share the couch.

It's cool that you studied Sumerian! My interest is purely casual, and I doubt I'll ever make an attempt at learning to read cuneiform or any of the languages it was used to represent, but I'm pretty fascinated by what has survived from ancient Mesopotamia, and by the painstaking scholarly piecing together of literature, history, and documentary witnesses to daily life.

Jan 15, 2017, 12:02am

I think that this is one of the few places in the group that Sumerian may be used for a post.


When the Sumerian decided to Spring
And would Fall in the Winter of his days.
Then would lose a language that once was king
But proved seasonal and that nothing stays.

Jan 15, 2017, 4:19pm

>79 harrygbutler: I think it would be awesome to learn languages like that - maybe a retirement venture!

Jan 15, 2017, 8:58pm

>80 PaulCranswick: Thanks for stopping by, Paul — and with apt poetry, yet!

>81 drneutron: Agreed, Jim! But I think I'm more likely to tackle classical Greek first (I had a tiny bit in college but had to stop).

Jan 15, 2017, 9:01pm

7. Babylonian Literary Texts in the Schøyen Collection, by A. R. George

January TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book with at least five names in the title and/or subtitle

This book, the tenth volume in the series Cornell University Studies in Assyriology and Sumerology, provides an edition and translation of 19 texts that could in some way be considered “literary”: narrative poems (including fragments of the Gilgamesh story), love poetry, a prayer, letters, a dialogue, the story of a lawsuit, and more. The first text, “The Song of Bazi,” is important because it introduces a hitherto unknown god, Bazi, a son of the god Enki who establishes his home in the mountains of Syria; according to information included on the clay tablet where it is recorded, the song was used on a ceremonial occasion. Also interesting are “The Scholars of Uruk,” a dual-language piece (in Akkadian and Sumerian), apparently the product of a scribal school, in which a father chides his son, another scholar, and “The Tribulations of Gimil-Marduk,” which is an account of the title character’s nearly fifty-year struggle to obtain justice after his uncle blocked him from his inheritance (whether this account is fact or fiction is unknown). Recommended.

Lines 1–4 of “The Song of Bazi” (some parts of the lines are missing, as indicated by the x’s and the ellipses:
wa-a-ši-ib ˹am-x x˺ ni[m…]
[k]a-az-zum bu-ku-ur ˹den-ki˺ x[…]
ilum(dingir)i-lum ba-a-ri te-né-ši-e-˹tim˺
mu-˹ú˺-de li-ib-bi-im za-wa-nim ù i-ša-ri-im
He who dwells in …[…,]
ram, son of Enki […;]
the god who surveys the human race,
who knows the minds of the wicked and the just!

The first line of “The Scholars of Uruk”:
Sumerian: uru.šú.gìn šubax (ZA.MÙŠ.ba) uru.gá.àm uru lugal
Akkadian: ki-ma a-li ki-iš-ša-tim ú-ru-uk a-li-i-ma a-li šar-ri
Like a city of supreme power is my city Uruk, a city of kings!

Opening of “The Tribulations of Gimil-Marduk”:
Gimil-Marduk mār Utlatum mār Ēṭirum apil Lu-Dumununna maḫar awīlim Awīl-Nabi’um šukkallim kī’am idbub umma šūma
Gimil-Marduk, son of Utlatum, son of Ēṭirum, heir of Lu-Dumununna, complained thus before His Excellency the vizier Awīl-Nabi’um, saying as follows:

Jan 16, 2017, 11:39am

8. The Destroying Angel, by Norman Klein

January TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book with at least five names in the title and/or subtitle

Detective Kennedy Jones, a brash fellow modeled at least in part on Louisiana politician Huey Long, reluctantly agrees to be hired by millionaire G. Howard Leland, who says that he fears for his life. Jones, with operatives in tow, goes up the Hudson to the Leland estate, where he indeed discovers a murder. The victim is not Leland, however, but neighbor Charlie Farmer, a friend of Leland’s son Paul who apparently was having an affair with Leland’s second wife, Carlotta. Suspects for the killing of young Farmer abound, and the investigation is complicated by the discovery that Farmer was shot after he had died of poisoning — perhaps by mushrooms grown on the Leland estate, though no mushrooms were found in his stomach in the autopsy. The members of the Leland family resent the presence of the detective and urge Leland to get rid of him, but Leland won’t take that step, though the hostility does impede the detective’s inquiries. Then there’s another murder…

Norman Klein’s The Destroying Angel, from 1933, is not well written, with annoyingly frequent scene jumps and an unlikeable cast of characters overall. Even those who are supposed to be sympathetic mostly don’t come off that way. Not recommended.

Jan 16, 2017, 11:42am

Though Norman Klein's The Destroying Angel wasn't very good, it did provide me with something I don't think I'd come across before: a logo for A. L. Burt Co., the reprint publisher responsible for many older reprints I own.

Jan 16, 2017, 3:01pm

>84 harrygbutler:

Even those who are supposed to be sympathetic mostly don’t come off that way.

I find that a lot with American mysteries and thrillers of that time, very odd.

>85 harrygbutler:

I don't think I've seen that before either and I've read quite a lot of Burt books; perhaps it was introduced in 1933?

Jan 16, 2017, 3:31pm

Goodness, Harry; your tastes are certainly eclectic.

Love Otto and Hildy! My cats each claim specific territory, but constantly launch invasions, most of which are unsuccessful.

Jan 16, 2017, 6:23pm

>86 lyzard: I've encountered the problem with unsympathetic characters in more than one mystery, though I didn't pay much attention to where they were written or published. One I can recall was part of the British Library Crime Classics reprints, though: Murder in Piccadilly.

I'll have to keep an eye out for other instances of the Burt logo.

Jan 16, 2017, 6:26pm

>87 bohemima: I do like a little variety, Gail! :-)

We have three cats: Elli, who is a bit older, and then Otto and Pixie, who came from the same litter. Pixie is the smallest of the cats. Elli will share space with Pixie, and Otto will share space with Pixie, but Otto and Elli will seldom share space. I was very surprised to find all three on the guest-room bed one day last week. Hildy will grudgingly share space with one or another of the cats, but she clearly wishes they'd go somewhere else.

Jan 17, 2017, 3:23pm

I have begun rereading the Judge Dee mysteries by Dutch author Robert van Gulik. This time I'm reading them in chronological order. A collection of short stories, Judge Dee at Work, contains tales set at different times during Judge Dee's career, so I'll be dipping into it when appropriate. I've just red the first three stories, which are set around the time of The Chinese Gold Murders, at Judge Dee's first independent official post.

In "Five Auspicious Clouds," the magistrate investigates an apparent suicide; in "The Red Tape Murder," he is asked to assist in establishing the truth in a murder that occurred in the nearby fort; in "He Came with the Rain," he investigates the stabbing of a retired pawnbroker. The short story form unfortunately leaves little scope for the interwoven narratives that add greatly to the interest of van Gulik's novels. "The Red Tape Murder" is probably the best, despite a rather unsatisfactory murder, in its unexpected tying together of bureaucracy and crime.

Jan 17, 2017, 4:17pm

>88 harrygbutler:

The issue I find with the American cosy mysteries is a tendency to confuse "rich" with "nice". :)

Jan 17, 2017, 4:48pm

>91 lyzard: Hmm. I haven't noticed that, perhaps because I've not read as many older equivalents of modern cozies (and probably next to no modern cozies).

Edited: Jan 19, 2017, 9:23am

9. Sweet Danger, by Margery Allingham

An excellent entry in Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion series, Sweet Danger finds the mild-seeming but ruthlessly competent Campion in a race to secure three items that are key to control of a newly important minor Balkan country, Averna. Aided by Augustus (Guffy) Randall, Jonathan Eager-Wright, and Dicky Farquharson, and of course his servant Maggersfontein Lugg, he follows the trail to Suffolk and battle against the villainous Brett Savarake for the goods. There Campion and his comrades find the Fitton siblings — Mary, Amanda, and Hal — and their aunt, Harriet Huntingforest, who may all have a connection to Averna, and who occupy an old mill near the village of Pontisbright. Strange doings in the countryside may be related to their quest, and Campion finds an unexpected and quite clever ally in one of the Fittons. Recommended.

First sentence: "A small window in the sunlit, yellow side of the Hôtel Beauregard, Mentone, opened slowly, and through it a hand appeared, which, after depositing a compact brown suit-case upon the sill, speedily vanished."

Edited: Jan 19, 2017, 4:32pm

10. Rudder Grange, by Frank R. Stockton

January TIOLI Challenge #11: Read a book that contains some illustrations alongside the text

Frank R. Stockton’s Rudder Grange is the amusing story of a couple who set up housekeeping in suburban New Jersey in the late nineteenth century. Their first suburban home is a worn-out canal boat whence the name of the home and the title of the book. Here, to cover costs, they take on a boarder; they also hire a servant, Pomona, an eager reader of romances. Ill-considered modifications to the boat, including a window cut too low on the side and a garden on the deck, lead eventually to the loss of the vessel. After some time, the narrator and his wife Euphemia locate a new house to rent, with an eye toward eventually buying the place; soon Pomona shows up, and they once again hire her. Humorous episodes include an attempt at camping, a vacation in the hills, and Pomona’s honeymoon. Recommended.

First sentence: "For some months after our marriage, Euphemia and I boarded."

Rudder Grange. The illustrator for the copy I read was A. B. Frost.

Each chapter begins with an illustraton and a historiated initial.

Here Pomona reads to the narrator, his wife, and a servant after their guard dog has driven them up onto the roof; she is providing them with the passage in her current book that made it possible for her to subdue the beast.

Jan 20, 2017, 5:21pm

>90 harrygbutler: Great minds think alike! I got hooked on Judge Dee after reading The Chinese Gold Murders for the Take It or Leave It challenge. I'm starting my canonical read with The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee. I'm really enjoying the style and the sense of history.

Karen O.

Jan 20, 2017, 5:36pm

>95 klobrien2: Thanks for stopping by, Karen! I really should reread The Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee — the Dover edition of that was how I first discovered Judge Dee. And I was hooked by van Gulik's writing, too; the translated stories were quite different from what I usually encountered in mysteries I was reading at the time. I then sought out and practically devoured his own Judge Dee books. More recently I've been replacing my paperbacks with hardcover editions, and that TIOLI challenge was a good motivator to get me started reading them again.

Jan 21, 2017, 3:56am

>96 harrygbutler: I read my first Judge Dee last month and intend to read more this year.

Jan 21, 2017, 8:54am

>96 harrygbutler: i have the first Judge Dee on the shelves, Harry, so I reckon I should get to it soon.

Have a great weekend.

Jan 21, 2017, 10:14am

>97 FAMeulstee: Enjoy, Anita!

>98 PaulCranswick: I hope you like it, Paul! Have a great weekend, too!

Jan 21, 2017, 3:42pm

I read the first Judge Dee some years ago, but didn't go on with the rest for reasons that now escape me. (This was prior to the first appearance on my threads of the series lists, obviously!)

Jan 21, 2017, 4:31pm

>100 lyzard: Maybe you'll get back to them when you move on to series published beginning in the 1950s. :-)

Jan 21, 2017, 4:33pm

It probably was that, yes. :)

Jan 21, 2017, 8:59pm

11. Best Cartoons of the Year 1943, ed. by Lawrence Lariar

January TIOLI Challenge #17: Read a book whose title or author's name includes the word "year", or a synonym

Cartoonist Lawrence Lariar for many years edited a series of books compiling the “best cartoons of the year” among cartoons for (usually major) American magazines. The series got its start in 1942 and ran through 1971, with its demise roughly coinciding with the end of the era of general-interest American magazines, like Look and The Saturday Evening Post. Best Cartoons of the Year 1943 is an early entry. With World War II raging, many of the cartoons focus on military matters — some are by cartoonists who were now serving in the military — while others take a look at homefront issues like rationing. The book also includes brief bios of the contributing artists. Not all the cartoons work, including some that are sufficiently topical that they might not be immediately clear to a modern reader, but the mix is pretty good. Recommended.

Edited: Jan 22, 2017, 8:35pm

Although Conan the barbarian is probably Robert E. Howard's most lasting creation, I think I prefer the haunted character of Solomon Kane, the grim Puritan who witnesses and battles supernatural evil. For Howard's 111th birthday today, I began rereading the stories contained in Solomon Kane.

In "Skulls in the Stars," a battle with a spectral killer leads to knowledge that will permit the laying of the ghost, though it almost costs Kane his life. In "The Right Hand of Doom," a necromancer reaches out to bring death to his betrayer before his own demise. These are both effective pieces, and though I hadn't originally planned to do so, I think I'm going to go ahead and finish the book now that I've started it.

I also read "Pigeons from Hell," in The Book of Robert E. Howard, which is a creepy horror story of voodoo and vengeance, but rather too dated.

First sentences:

"Skulls in the Stars": "There are two roads to Torkertown."
"The Right Hand of Doom": "'And he hangs at dawn! Ho! Ho!'"
"Pigeons from Hell": "Griswell awoke suddenly, every nerve tingling with a premonition of imminent peril."

Jan 22, 2017, 4:05pm

Hej Harry, you doing some diverse and interesting reading. I'd like to read the Babylonian texts as well but don't have the time at the moment.

Jan 22, 2017, 8:32pm

>105 paulstalder: Thanks for stopping by, Paul! I've learned of an anthology that I hope to have time to read sometime, Before the Muses: An Anthology of Akkadian Literature, as well as a couple dealing with Sumerian and with Ugaritic literature, The Harps That Once...: Sumerian Poetry in Translation and Ugaritic Narrative Poetry — all English translations. I would expect there are similar volumes in German. One I just saw mentioned somewhere is Mythen und Epen I: Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments, Bd 3: Weisheitstexte, Mythen und Epen - Lieferung 3; and it looks like the whole series might be of interest: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texte_aus_der_Umwelt_des_Alten_Testaments

Jan 22, 2017, 10:53pm

I haven't read the Solomon Kane stories - sounds like I need to get to it!

Jan 24, 2017, 8:33pm

>107 drneutron: I hope you like them if you try them, Jim. In some respects they are dated, but the combination of adventure and horror is fairly effective. The Baen edition of the Solomon Kane stories that I own includes three that were left unfinished by Howard and were completed by Ramsey Campbell. I've read one of those so far this time; it was fine, but it definitely had a more modern horror feel to it.

Jan 24, 2017, 8:56pm

>103 harrygbutler: Don't you love that kind of book, Harry? You can float right back to another era in a pleasant haze of nostalgia, just drifting along...most relaxing!

I have The Laquer Screen here with Judge Dee. I've dipped into it just a bit. It looks like a fun read.

I find I have Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush, probably fro Liz's thread last year, in the depths of the Kindle. I'd like to get to it this year.

I remain quite fascinated by your reading choices.

Jan 25, 2017, 7:18am

>109 bohemima: Thanks, Gail! I find the variety keeps me interested.

We have quite an array of older cartoon books — they're an enjoyable way to pass the time. Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush was one of my favorite reads a couple years ago; I hope you'll enjoy it.

Jan 25, 2017, 8:50am

12. Norse Romance I: The Tristan Legend, ed. by Marianne E. Karlinke

Courtly romance is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Norse and Icelandic sagas, but Arthurian tales nevertheless found an audience there. Boydell & Brewer published three volumes of Norse romance with English translations in its Arthurian Archives series, and I have just read the first volume, chiefly concerning the famous story of Tristan and Isolde, though two Old Norse translations of Old French lays are also included. (For clarity, I’ll refer to the main characters by their best-known names in what follows.)

The first of the included lays, Geitarlauf, does deal with the Tristan story; it tells how honeysuckle got the name “goat’s leaf.” The second lay, Janual, is the tale of a knight’s romance with an otherworldly lady.

The main work in this volume is Tristrams Saga ok Ísöndar, based on Thomas of Britain’s Tristan is important for its completeness, as Thomas’s poem survives only in fragments. The reader learns of Tristan’s prowess, his journey to Ireland to bring back the princess Isolde as a bride for his uncle King Mark, the fateful love potion that Tristan and Isolde accidentally drink, their continuing deception of the king, and the death of the lovers. Memorable episodes include Tristan’s slaying of a dragon in Ireland and a courtier’s claim to have done so instead; the crafty way by which the lovers cheat a trial by ordeal; King Mark’s discovery of the two apparently living chastely in the forest; and the echo of the story of Theseus, with black sails leading to death. It is all interestingly and well handled, but I’ve never been a big fan of the story, so I can’t really say that I liked it.

Only one poem is included: Tristrams kvæði, a retelling of the tale as a ballad, with the refrain “Þeim var ekki skapat nema skilja” (“They had no other fate than to be parted”).

The final piece in the book is Saga af Tristram ok Ísodd, an amusingly bad version of the story probably written in the fourteenth century. Luckily it is relatively short, so the author’s infelicities (e.g., the completely undramatic resolution of the jealous courtier’s claim to have slain the dragon) and oddities (Tristan’s strange and ill-explained desire to trick a group of 60 people from his uncle’s kingdom into killing each other) are more entertaining than otherwise.

First lines/sentences:

  • Geitarlauf:

    Mioc licar mér ok giarna vile ec syna yðr þann strengleic er heitir i volsku Chefrefuillenn, Geitalauf [i norr]œno, hvar þessi strengleicr var gor [ok kveðenn ok] með hverium hætti.

    It greatly pleases me, and I want very much to present to you the lai which is called “The Chefrefuill” in French and “Geitarlauf” in Norse, and where this lai was composed and told and in what way.

  • Janual (the beginning is missing because of a lost leaf of the manuscript, so here is where the surviving text starts):

    …ok lengr mynde hann hafa dvalzc ef henni licaðe.

    …and he would have stayed longer if it had pleased her.

  • Tristrams Saga ok Ísöndar:

    Hér skrifaz sagan af Tristram ok Ísönd dróttningu, í hverri talat verðr um óbæriliga ást, er þau höfðu sín á milli.

    Written down here is the story of Tristram and Queen Ísönd and of the heartrending love that they shared.

  • Tristrams kvæði:

    Frúr ok herligir sveinar / heldu vel sína trú.

    Ladies and warlike lads / kept their loyalty well.

  • Saga af Tristram ok Ísodd:

    Þá er saga þessi gerðiz, hefir sá kóngr ríkt yfir Englandi, er Philippus hét; hann var bæði vitr ok góðgjarn.

    When this story took place, there was a king ruling over England who was called Philippus.

Jan 27, 2017, 5:51pm

From one of my current reads, Proverbs of Ancient Sumer:

dub-sar eme-gi7 nu-mu-un-zu-a
a-na-àm dub-sar e-ne

A scribe who does not know Sumerian,
what kind of scribe is he?

And another:
dub-sar lú gù-ra-aḫ(!) nam-tag-ga-ni ab-gu-ul

A chattering scribe, his guilt is very great!

Jan 28, 2017, 5:49pm

The public library in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has regular book sales every couple months. We tried the sale awhile back but didn’t find it rewarding enough to make the 90-minute drive to go regularly. Today we had occasion to be near there, so we went ahead and visited the sale, with better results. I was able to pick up several books:

Regional fiction (Vermont):
Hillsboro People, by Dorothy Canfield (Dorothy Canfield Fisher)

The Poems and Fables of John Dryden, by John Dryden

Westward to Paradise, by W. D. Hoffman

Crime and Mystery:
Murder Too Late, by Gordon Ashe (John Creasey)
The Man Who Changed His Name, by Edgar Wallace & R. G. Curtis
Gunman's Bluff (aka The Gunner), by Edgar Wallace

Jan 29, 2017, 10:50am

13. The Footsteps at the Lock, by Ronald A. Knox

The Indescribable Insurance Company’s investigator, Miles Bredon, returns in this mystery by Ronald A. Knox. While cousins Derek (who is insured by the Indescribable) and Nigel Burtell are on a canoe trip on the Thames, Nigel leaves the vessel while it is passing through a lock and goes to Oxford for an exam. He awaits his cousin’s arrival at a downstream inn, but Derek never shows up. The canoe is found, drifting nearly sunk, with a hole in the bottom, but there is no sign of Derek’s body. Did he leave the canoe? If so, why? Did Nigel do him in? Certainly Nigel’s actions that morning seemed intended to establish an alibi? What of the unknown man in a punt who passed the cousins heading upstream? And who is the American, Erasmus Quirk, who seems quite interested in the investigation? Recommended.

First sentence: “It is an undeniable but a mystifying fact of natural ethics that a man has the right to dispose of his own property at death.”

Jan 30, 2017, 7:00am

14. Proverbs of Ancient Sumer, by Bendt Alster

This two-volume work includes an assortment of Sumerian proverbs, grouped in collections based upon matching texts/tablets, with some single-tablet proverb texts at the end. The second volume contains notes on the texts and plates of photographs or facsimiles of the tablets. I found the proverbs themselves of moderate interest, with some echoing universal concerns that remain salient today, and others tied into the society of ancient Mesopotamia, and often the interests of the scribes (frequently students) responsible for the texts.

First proverb in the first collection:
níg-gi-na-da a-ba in-da-sá nam-ti ì-ù-tu

Who compares with Justice? It creates life.

This one was quite striking:
eriduki hé-gál-la dù-a-ba
uguugu4-bi é-nar-ra-ka igi-lá-bi al-tuš

In Eridu, built with abundance,
the monkey sits with longing eyes.

Jan 31, 2017, 8:48am

When I learned that the publishers of the fantasy and science fiction magazine Cirsova were running a Kickstarter for subscriptions for 2017, I decided I should take a look at a second issue to help me decide whether to back this year's offerings.

The second issue, for Summer 2016, overall marked an improvement on the first, with better editing and proofreading in evidence (fewer bad breaks, typos, etc.) and overall an entertaining batch of stories. The featured novella, "Images of the Goddess," by Schuyler Hernstrom, was a quest story told with some humor and sufficient action, though the "twist" involving the object of the quest was fairly obvious from the start, and there may have been a touch too many odd elements thrown into the mix. The previous issue's "The Gift of the Ob-Men" by the same author suffered from the same problem, and in addition was too short for the weight of the narrative; the novella form used here was better suited to the author's approach.

The two longer short stories, "Hoskins' War," by Brian K. Lowe, and "Squire Errant," by Karl Gallagher, were pretty good, with the latter, narrated by a squire who carries on after his knight is killed by a monster, better than the former, a tale of magic set during the American Revolution but weakened by a choppy narrative pacing. "The Water Walks Tonight," by S. H. Mansouri, the first of the two shorter stories, was an OK tale of supernatural vengeance in a quasi-Norse setting. "Shark Fighter," by Michael Tierney, finds an underwater photographer struggling without his memory in a tiger shark breeding ground; I didn't care for this one, as the fragmented memory conceit is one that I don't much enjoy. I skipped the second installment of the retelling of A Princess of Mars in verse, as I didn't care for the first.

This issue's essay, "Rescuing Women," by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, is an interesting account of the way that generations of women fantasy and science fiction writers and publishers have often tended to minimize or distort the history and accomplishments of the women who were their predecessors in the field, both on the writing side and on the publishing side. Her essay's title is a call to give more prominence to the involvement and importance of women in the field in the past — an involvement recognized at the time but subsequently effectively erased — in contemporary attempts by both men and women to understand the genre(s).

Edited: Feb 2, 2017, 12:38pm

Prominent in the popular literature of the Philippines in the 19th century and before were the corridos, verse romances generally founded on European tales, such as chivalric stories in the Charlemagne cycle or the story of Romeo and Juliet. I think they are largely unavailable in English translation, but in Volume 29 (pp. 203ff.) of The Journal of American Folklore*, published in 1916, there was an article by Dean S. Fansler surveying the genre and including a facing-page translation of one of these metrical romances, Corrido at Buray na Pinagdaanan nang Princesa Florentina sa Cahariang Alemania (Story of the Eventful Life of Princess Florentina of the Kingdom of Germany). The translation is by Fansler and Salvador Unson. This romance, written in Tagalog, is a version of the Constance story (found in Chaucer’s The Man of Law’s Tale,, for example), with features such as the heroine being set adrift (twice!), a wicked mother-in-law, and a false claim of the birth of a monstrous child. This corrido is not great literature by any stretch, but I can see why it was popular, and I’m glad I read it.

First stanza (Tagalog and English):
Oh Dios na Poong mahal
Hari nitóng sangtinacpán,
acó po,i, iyong tulungan
magsabi,t, macapagsaysay.

O God! great Lord of all,
King of the whole world,
Help me, Lord,
To speak out and to narrate!

(*Note: I found this volume of the journal online via Google Books.)

Edited: Feb 6, 2017, 6:59am

15. Solomon Kane, by Robert E. Howard

The terrible cover of the edition I read.

Last month, in connection with the 111th birthday of pulp author Robert E. Howard, best known of course for creating Conan the barbarian, I instead read a couple stories starring a lesser-known character, the Puritan Solomon Kane, who witnesses and battles supernatural evil and oppression. I then went on to read a whole collection of them. The book I read, Solomon Kane, published by Baen in the mid-1990s, gathers stories and poetry about the dark and driven Puritan, including three that were completed by modern horror writer Ramsey Campbell.

Standouts include "Skulls in the Stars," in which a battle with a spectral killer leads to knowledge that will permit the laying of the ghost, though it almost costs Kane his life; “Red Shadows,” in which a quest for vengeance sees Kane stalking a bandit and his men; and “Blades of the Brotherhood,” in which Kane comes to the aid of a young Englishman and his abducted sweetheart. Other stories owe a good deal to H. Rider Haggard, including “The Moon of Skulls” and “The Children of Asshur”; interesting twists on vampires and harpies can be found in “The Hills of the Dead” and “Wings in the Night” — the latter with a particularly grim resolution as Kane takes revenge for the destruction of a village. “The Footfalls Within” has a touch of Lovecraftian-style horror. Some of the material is rather too dated, but the horror and adventure are effectively done.

First sentences:

"Skulls in the Stars": "There are two roads to Torkertown."
"The Right Hand of Doom": "'And he hangs at dawn! Ho! Ho!'"
“Red Shadows”: “The moonlight shimmered hazily, making silvery mists of illusion among the shadowy trees.”
“Rattle of Bones”: “’Landlord, ho!’” The shout broke the lowering silence and reverberated through the black forest with sinister echoing.”
“The Castle of the Devil”: “A rider was singing down the forest trail in the growing twilight, keeping time to his horse’s easy jog.”
“Death’s Black Riders”: “Solomon Kane reined his steed to a halt.”
“The Moon of Skulls”: “A great black shadow lay across the land, cleaving the red flame of the sunset.”
“The One Black Stain”:
“They carried him out on the barren sand
where the rebel captains died;
Where the grim gray rotting gibbets stand
as Magellan reared them on the strand,
And the gulls that haunt the lonesome land
wail to the lonely tide.”

“Blades of the Brotherhood”: “The blades crossed with a vicious clash of steel; blue sparks showered.”
“The Hills of the Dead”: “The twigs which N’Longa flung on the fire broke and crackled.”
“Hawk of Basti”: “’Solomon Kane!’”
“The Return of Sir Richard Grenville”:
“One slept beneath the branches dim,
Cloaked in the crawling mist,
And Richard Grenville came to him
And plucked him by the wrist.”

“Wings in the Night”: “Solomon Kane leaned on his strangely carved staff and gazed in scowling perplexity at the mystery which spread silently before him.”
“The Footfalls Within”: “Solomon Kane gazed somberly at the native woman who lay dead at his feet.”
“The Children of Asshur”: “Solomon Kane started up in the darkness, snatching at the weapons which lay on the pile of skins that served him as a crude pallet.”
“Solomon Kane’s Homecoming”:
“The white gulls wheeled above the cliffs,
the air was slashed with foam,
The long tides moaned along the strand
when Solomon Kane came home.”

Feb 6, 2017, 9:46am

I love the proverb about the chattering scribe. After all, they must have been aware of many secrets better left untold. Interesting that the thought is still applicable today.

You hit me with a BB re: Footsteps in the Lock. I have some Knox on the kindle, but I'm not sure if that one is included. It sounds like an entertaining story.

Feb 6, 2017, 1:37pm

>119 bohemima: I can see that. These proverbs were also being copied in scribal schools, so it might have been a dig at students prone to talk among themselves, too.

So far I've enjoyed Knox's Miles Bredon series. They have a certain amount of humor in the telling — not as madcap as, say, Phoebe Atwood Taylor's Leonidas Witherall series, or the many "black" mysteries from Constance Little and Gwenyth Little, but somewhat lighthearted nonetheless.

Edited: Feb 6, 2017, 4:15pm

16. Hägar the Horrible: The Epic Chronicles: The Dailies 1983 to 1984, by Dik Browne

Dik Browne’s comic strip of Viking times, Hägar the Horrible, debuted in 1973 and met with immediate success; it remains in widespread syndication today in the hands of Dik’s son Chris. Several years ago Titan Books / Titan Comics began a series reprinting the daily strips from the beginning, and I’ve been buying them as they are released. These were not the first reprints of the comics — the strip’s popularity meant that there were many paperback collections issued starting in the 1970s — but the Titan series is, I think, the first that is tackling them chronologically. As is to be expected with a daily gag strip, especially ten years in, the quality of the humor in this volume, covering half of 1983 and all of 1984, varies from day to day, but the volume as a whole is pleasant enough, and I’ll continue to get them if Titan keeps producing them.

Feb 7, 2017, 10:28am

17. The Case Is Closed, by Patricia Wentworth

Geoffrey Grey languishes in prison, convicted of murdering his uncle, James Everton, after that uncle made out a new will in favor of Geoffrey’s cousin Bertie Everton. Geoffrey’s wife Marion drags out a miserable existence with her world crushed. Marion’s cousin Hilary Carew accidentally encounters Mrs. Mercer, who had been James Everton’s cook, and the woman’s obscure comments prompt Hilary to probe the circumstances again, convinced as she is that Geoffrey is innocent. When she finds herself followed by Alfred Mercer, the woman’s husband, who attempts to convince Hilary that his wife is mad, Hilary turns to her former fiancé, Henry Cunningham, for help. And though Henry is not convinced of Geoffrey’s innocence, he does hire private investigator Maud Silver to uncover the facts about the Mercers and the case. Meanwhile, Hilary pursues her own inquiries…. The focus remains on Hilary (especially) and Henry in this, the second of the Miss Silver novels. As in the first in the series, Miss Silver is a competent professional agent who is instrumental to the resolution of the investigation but is not the protagonist. Recommended.

Feb 7, 2017, 10:54am

>122 harrygbutler: I nominate that one for the "really bad cover" award.

Feb 7, 2017, 11:43am

Feb 8, 2017, 7:25am

18. Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, edited by Milton J. Davis and Charles R. Saunders

February TIOLI Challenge #7: Read a book that is a collection of short stories

Griots is a good collection of (mainly) sword and sorcery tales set in a fantastic version of Africa or with black protagonists in other fantasy locations. The quality of the tales included certainly varies, and it is clear that some of them would have benefited from an editor’s help in avoiding infelicities that tend to pull the reader out of the story. Some highlights: The work of the two editors bookends the collection, with Milton J. Davis’s “Mrembo Aliyenaswa (Captured Beauty)” an opener that sets the pattern for the volume and Charles R. Saunders’ “The Three-Faced One,” starring his hero Imaro (who was featured in novels published by DAW some 35 years ago or so) a strong closer. “Skin Magic,” by P. Djeli Clark, is effectively creepy in its beginning scenes and draws the reader in. Anthony Kwamu’s “The General’s Daughter” is a well-crafted tale of a journey to the Underworld, and I found Ronald T. Jones’ “The Queen, the Demon, and the Mercenary” entertaining as well. Recommended.

First sentences:

  • “Mrembo Aliyenaswa (Captured Beauty),” by Milton J. Davis: “Eager spectators crowded the bulwark of the Sada, packing the merchant dhow from stern to bow.”

  • “Awakening,” by Valjeanne Jeffers: “The nine-year-old girl ran to catch up with them.”

  • “Lost Son,” by Maurice Broaddus: “’Favor us with a tale, storyteller,’ Ghana Menin asked in his way of implying a threat if disobeyed.”

  • “In the Wake of Mist,” by Kirk A. Johnson: “Vapor and smoke covered his eyes, hiding the sky and earth, and all in between.”

  • “Skin Magic,” by P. Djeli Clark: “Makami stumbled, almost falling.”

  • “The Demon in the Wall,” by Stafford L. Battle: “The horses wandered about the camp without supervision; but because of weeks of routine and strict discipline they kept their distance from the supply tents and the tempting sacks of oats.”

  • “The Belly of the Crocodile,” by Minister Faust: “My brother hated me, do you understand that?”

  • “Changeling,” by Carole McDonnell: “Lacking beauty, regal will, or imperious bearing, Iyoke, the third daughter of Queen Mizaka, was mocked as a cuckoo’s egg.”

  • “The General’s Daughter,” by Anthony Kwamu: “Abyssinia, 1274 AD: The people of Roha chanted, danced and made merry as the army marched in from the wars, with victory over the rebels in Amhara Province achieved at last.”

  • “Sekadi’s Koan,” by Geoffrey Thorne: “His blade entered Sekadi’s body between two ribs on her lower right side and proceeded to carve an elliptical path through her abdomen.”

  • “The Queen, the Demon, and the Mercenary,” by Ronald T. Jones: “Ajunge the demon-sorcerer narrowed his scarlet eyes in contempt.”

  • “Icewitch,” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle: “Ashlan spurred his tired stag the last few measures toward the warlord Lyrell’s camp.”

  • “The Leopard Walks Alone,” by Melvin Carter: “The city was in high celebration.”

  • “The Three-Faced One,” by Charles R Saunders: “The warrior peered intently over a high sandstone escarpment.”

Feb 12, 2017, 10:49am

19. Ava's New Testament Narratives: "When the Old Law Passed Away", by Ava

Challenge #11: Read a book containing a work or works originally written in an earlier form of a modern language

In the early 12th century, a poet named Ava wrote a set of Middle High German poems on John the Baptist, the life of Christ, the Antichrist, and the Last Judgement. Ava was likely an anchorite who had withdrawn from the world in later life; in the concluding passage of her Last Judgment poem, she makes mention of two sons, one who had died and another still amid the world’s travails.

The poems are written in couplets linked sometimes by rhyme but often by assonance; they may have actually been long lines with internal rhyme or assonance. Adding some interest in this dual-language edition are reproductions of some of the pen-and-ink illustrations found in one of the two manuscripts that contained the poems.

The poems are significant for their early date and their authorship, but unfortunately I found them rather pedestrian — though part of the problem seems to have been with the translator, who flattened out poetic variation (e.g., when two different words, what would be Modern German Straße and Weg, appeared within three lines of one another, the translator chose to render both as road in English). Still, there’s a good chance I’ll revisit these, especially if I ever get more comfortable reading Middle High German. Recommended.

First lines:

  • Johannes:
    Nu sule wir mit sinnen
    sagen von den dingen,
    wie die mit aneviench
    daz di alte e zergiench.

    Now we should — in a clear and thoughtful way —
    tell about things,
    how the time began
    when the old Law passed away.

  • Das Leben Jesu:
    Do got hie in erde geborn
    wolte warden,
    do hiez er iz vor sagen
    Ysaiam den wissagen
    und ander propheten,
    daze er is willen hete,
    daz in ein magit gebare,
    daz iz deste gelouplicher ware,
    swenne iz darnach geschahe,
    daz man in mennisc gesahe;
    wan diu magit ungeborne
    tet vil manic werlde verlorne,
    daz daz widertan wurte
    mit der magitlichen geburte.

    When God wanted to be born
    here on earth
    he ordered it to be foretold
    by Isaiah the prophet
    and other prophets
    that it was his will
    that a virgin bear him,
    so that it would be more believable
    when it happened, afterwards,
    that he was seen as a man;
    for the virgin who was not born
    caused the loss of a great may people,
    and that was undone
    by the virgin birth.

  • Der Antichrist:
    In dem jungisten zite
    so nahet uns des Antechristes riche.

    At the end of time,
    then the Antichrist’s kingdom will near us.

  • Das Jüngste Gericht:
    Nu sol ich rede errechen
    vil vorhtlichen
    von dem jungisten tage,
    als ich vernomen habe,
    unde von der ewige corone,
    die got gibet ze lone
    swelhe wole gestriten
    an dem jungisten zite.

    Now I shall speak
    full fearfully
    of the last day,
    as I have heard of it,
    and of the eternal crown
    that God will give as a reward
    to those who fight well
    at the end of time.

Feb 12, 2017, 7:37pm

I read The Footsteps at the Lock several years ago and really enjoyed it. I haven't run across any of the other Miles Bredon mysteries.

I've only read one or two of the Miss Silver mysteries. I'll have to make that series a project after I finish my Agatha Christie reread.

Feb 12, 2017, 8:34pm

>127 cbl_tn: Hi, Carrie! I've managed to get two others in the Miles Bredon series over time, but the third and fourth have eluded me so far. Apparently they were republished in paperback a few years ago, but I've never seen them and they don't appear readily available online except as e-books, so I guess I'll be trying to get them through interlibrary loan.

I read one or two several years ago and liked them well enough to pick up the rest (well, I'm still searching for one or two) when I came across them at used book sales. I've started reading them in order; Liz (lyzard) and Julia (rosalita) and I are aiming to do a shared read of the fourth, Danger Point, in April. Maybe you'd like to join us?

I'm also working my way through all of Agatha Christie's mysteries in publication order — though I'm stalled at the moment because I can't find the next one. (It's in the house somewhere, but not on the shelves where we keep the Christies.) Some are rereads for me, but many aren't.

Feb 12, 2017, 8:46pm

I don't think I'll be able to join you for Danger Point. The public library doesn't have a copy and used copies are too expensive. I'd have to ILL it, and that close to the end of the school year my reading time will likely be limited.

Feb 12, 2017, 8:53pm

>129 cbl_tn: I can understand that. I've had extra work come my way this month, and it has really cut into my reading time. And I see what you mean about the used copies of Danger Point. I've been fortunate in finding nearly all the Miss Silvers at thrift stores or used-book sales, but it has taken some time.

Edited: Feb 15, 2017, 9:14am

20. The Blackout, by Constance Little and Gwenyth Little

February TIOLI Challenge #20: Read a book whose title only contains one noun

The Blackout, a late entry in the long-running series of mysteries by the Little sisters, Constance and Gwenyth, is a lackluster book, suggesting that the authors were growing tired of writing — and indeed they would stop altogether just a couple years later. And although many of the staples of the Littles’ tales — a mixed group of relatives and strangers or near-strangers thrown together in a boarding-house, hotel, or similar setting filled with odd characters in an atmosphere of seemingly inexplicable, albeit minor, unusual occurences — are present, the whole lacks the charm of their earlier books. The final resolution was a bit of a disappointment to me, with less creativity and unexpectedness than I have come to expect from their intricate plotting. Only recommended for completists, I’m afraid.

First sentence: "Joseph Crolliz turned the clipping over in his hand, but he didn't really see the portion of a tire advertisement that was on the other side."

Feb 16, 2017, 8:40am

One of my favorite small presses is Coachwhip Publications, which has reprinted many early mysteries, notably including the well-crafted stories by Todd Downing.

From time to time Coachwhip has made interesting pamphlets and other small items available freely for download. Now, however, it is a whole book: three novellas and a novel by engineer, academic, and inventor Nevil Monroe Hopkins (1873-1945) — The Strange Cases of Mason Brant and The Raccoon Lake Mystery.

The PDF can be downloaded from Coachwhip's Early Detective Stories page: http://www.coachwhipbooks.com/early-detectives

Feb 16, 2017, 8:58am

>132 harrygbutler: thanks for the link.

I'm not much of a mystery fan, but I will check it out for later. :)

Feb 16, 2017, 9:04am

>133 fuzzi: You're welcome. The description indicates that The Raccoon Lake Mystery is more of a comic romance with detective elements.

Other freebies, including a few comics, are at the bottom of this page: http://www.coachwhipbooks.com/coachwhip

Feb 16, 2017, 12:39pm

Valentine's Day book gifts from my sweetie:

The Eye in the Museum, by J. J. Connington

Mandrake the Magician: The Hidden Kingdom of Murderers, by Lee Falk and Phil Davis

Prince Valiant, Vol. 12: 1959-1960, by Hal Foster

Feb 16, 2017, 5:04pm

Oh, I'm definitely got to try to find the Mandrake book!

Feb 16, 2017, 6:01pm

>136 drneutron: Apparently it was first due several years ago and only finally was released in 2016. I'm looking forward to giving it a go.

Edited: Feb 16, 2017, 7:33pm

21. Maza of the Moon, by Otis Adelbert Kline

February TIOLI Challenge #17: Read a book by an author whose full name is at least 5 syllables long

When inventor Ted Dustin’s experimental missile hits the moon, it leads to unexpected retaliation by the hitherto-unknown inhabitants, and that retaliation escalates into a war of conquest by the Lunites, under their emperor, P’anku. Leaving his able assistant, Roger Sanders, in charge of producing new weaponry to enable Earth’s defenders to repel the attackers, Ted heads to the moon in a secretly-built small spacecraft, where he nearly falls prey to the satellite’s plant life but his rescued at the last moment by Maza, ruler of a different group of the moon’s inhabitants. Circumstances soon permit him to return the favor, and the two become allies against the empire of P’anku. Meanwhile, back on Earth, a foolhardy effort to gain intelligence about the attack leads to the capture of noted scientist Professor Ederson by the Lunites.

Fast-paced adventure ensues, as the author switches among the various characters’ stories in the race to end the P’anku menace. Kline effectively maintains interest, varying among large-scale battles involving barrages, individual combat involving disintegrator pistols or fencing with red and green ray projectors (effectively light sabers long before Star Wars), imprisonment and escape, and the wonder of alien surroundings. Though in some ways a bit dated, it is an appealing sword-and-planet adventure (and since reviews indicate that Kline’s Planet of Peril series is better, I think I’ll be on the lookout for them). Recommended.

First sentences: "'We've got to win that reward, Roger, or close up shop.' Ted Dustin, youthful president and general manager of Theodore Dustin, Inc., reached mechanically for his tobacco pouch, filled his briar, and sighed."

Feb 16, 2017, 7:32pm

22. Shag, by Thomas C. Hinkle

February TIOLI Challenge #1: Read a book whose one-word title is composed of four letters and/or numbers

Shag is a throwback — unlike his brothers, who are pure in color, he has a mottled coat, rendering him unsuitable for breeding purposes. So Tom Glen, his owner, proposes to give the pup away, despite signs the dog is active and intelligent. But the friend who promised to take the dog is called east, and during the two years in which Tom keeps Shag for his friend, the love of the dog for this master grows. When an accident means Tom must seek another person to take the hound, he tries diligently to find a good home for him, but Shag repeatedly escapes and tries to return to Tom — until finally he ends up taking to the wilderness because of a misunderstanding. This is a good dog story, with imperfect but good and sympathetic characters who try to make the best decisions they can based on the limited information available to them, and who are willing to acknowledge errors and try to make things right. Some exciting battles and escapes add interest. I’ll be on the lookout for more animal stories by this author. Recommended.

First sentence: “The faintest little whining cry attracted Tom Glen’s attention as he tightened the saddle cinch on his horse early that morning.”

Feb 17, 2017, 8:56pm

I liked Shag, quite a bit, but I think Mustang: a Horse of the Old West is the best I've read by Hinkle, so far.

Feb 18, 2017, 9:41am

>140 fuzzi: Thanks! I'll definitely be on the lookout for that one, then!

Feb 19, 2017, 11:02am

Elli is quite happy with the unseasonably warm and sunny weather.

Feb 19, 2017, 12:25pm

>142 harrygbutler: She looks a bit bothered by the photocamera ;-)
We have wet, clouded and rainy weather :-(

Feb 19, 2017, 12:48pm

>143 FAMeulstee: Yes, she doesn't really like to be disturbed when she is in the window. I hope your weather improves soon!

Feb 20, 2017, 3:52pm

>142 harrygbutler: Elli seems to really be soaking in that sun. I do believe she's giving you a look of disdain. She doesn't understand why her pet human enjoys hiding his face behind such a strange little box.

Feb 21, 2017, 8:41pm

>145 thornton37814: Elli is our cat who most often expresses disdain. Otto is much more desirous of human approval — nearly dog-like in his desire to be with you and to have you praise and pet him; his sister Pixie is too much the junior of the cats to be disdainful of anyone or much of anything (except most food).

Feb 23, 2017, 3:33pm

A sunny 60 degrees isn't really warm enough for Hildy.

Feb 24, 2017, 7:24am

Glad Hildy has found a warm spot :-)

Feb 24, 2017, 8:14am

>148 FAMeulstee: She has four throw blankets that are "hers," and she makes use of all of them -- and of any additional blankets she can find! :-)

Feb 26, 2017, 4:00am

>139 harrygbutler: That is an unfortunate title for a book, Harry. I would hazard that if it is published in the UK, it masquerades under a different name!

Have a great weekend.

Feb 26, 2017, 8:03am

>150 PaulCranswick: Thanks for stopping by, Paul! And yes, that's not a title that works for every market. :-)

Feb 27, 2017, 3:25am

>126 harrygbutler: That sounds interesting. I am just struggling with Gottfried von Strassburg Der Gottfried von Strassburg zugeschriebene Marienpreis und Lobgesang auf Christus which I probably not finish till the end of that month.

Feb 28, 2017, 1:08pm

>152 paulstalder: I look forward to hearing about that, Paul. I've only read Goffried's Tristan (in translation). Next up for me on the medieval German front is probably Wigamur, but it might be time to revisit Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival.

Edited: Mar 1, 2017, 9:35am

21. Local Saints and Local Churches in the Early Medieval West, ed. by Alan Thacker and Richard Sharpe

This is a solid collection of academic essays dealing with history, hagiography, archaeology, and more, with a focus on France and the British Isles. Standouts for me included Richard Sharpe's "Martyrs and Local Saints in Late Antique Britain," with its emphasis on continuity in a post-Roman setting; the archaeologically oriented essays "The Enshrinement of Local Saints in Francia and England," by John Crook, and "Celtic Saints and Early Medieval Archaeology," by Nancy Edwards; and O. J. Padel's "Local Saints and Place-Names in Cornwall." Finally, John Blair's "A Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Saints" (as well as the related essay) was fascinating in the tidbits of saints' legends and folk memory on offer. Particularly interesting was the recap of a relic thief's stealing of the relics of Saint "Lewinna" (perhaps Leofwynn) from an Anglo-Saxon church in 1058; the most noteworthy detail was that sheets of parchment bearing accounts in the vernacular of the saint's life were attached to the walls of the church. Not really recommended for the casual reader, but it does have something to offer someone with a stronger interest in the topics.

Feb 28, 2017, 8:35pm

>154 harrygbutler: That one sounds interesting.

Feb 28, 2017, 9:37pm

>147 harrygbutler: My Adrian was doing the same thing in the car this afternoon. It was about 60 outside, but he was shivering in his basket seat. I keep a blanket in there so I wrapped him up.

Mar 1, 2017, 9:21am

>155 thornton37814: There was a good amount of space devoted to untangling names and persons and places from documents and inscriptions and place-name evidence, Lori.

Mar 1, 2017, 9:22am

>156 cbl_tn: We always take a throw blanket for Hildy for longer trips, though she usually spends most of even the longest trip on the passenger's lap, requiring the passenger to use the blanket, too. :-)

Edited: Mar 1, 2017, 7:52pm

A variety of circumstances curtailed my reading in February, but I start March hopeful that I'll pick up the pace. Here are my current reading plans for the month.

Under way, to be finished:
Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West: Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough, ed. By Julia M. H. Smith
The Eye in the Museum, by J. J. Connington
Cirsova #3 / Fall 2016 — completed March 1

Planned reads:
Lonesome Road, by Patricia Wentworth
Moon of Israel, by H. Rider Haggard
The Crock of Gold, by James Stephens
The End of Time: A Meditation on the Philosophy of History, by Josef Pieper
Prince Valiant, Vol. 8: 1951-1952, by Hal Foster

Tentative reads:
The Black Stallion Returns, by Walter Farley
When Eight Bells Toll or Ice Station Zebra, by Alistair Maclean
The Riddle of the Yellow Zuri, by Harry Stephen Keeler
Gray Dusk, by Octavus Roy Cohen
The Amazing Adventures of Letitia Carberry, by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Mar 1, 2017, 12:01pm

When Eight Bells Toll was very, very good. I have Ice Station Zebra waiting to be read, want to do another shared read?

And I see you have The Black Stallion Returns on your tbr list as well. I read it as an adult, a few years ago, and it wasn't bad, but not as good as the original The Black Stallion, imo.

Hope you enjoy it/them.

Mar 1, 2017, 12:08pm

>160 fuzzi: Thanks!

I'm definitely up for a shared read of Ice Station Zebra. Maybe mid-month, so you can finish up When Christ and His Saints Slept?

I re-read The Black Stallion for the first time in years in 2015. I meant to get to The Black Stallion Returns sooner, but didn't. :-) My goal is to read the whole series again, including those that I missed when I read them as a kid.

Mar 1, 2017, 1:29pm

>161 harrygbutler: thanks for the leeway, I want to finish it. RL keeps interfering...mid-month is doable for that shared read.

I've read most of the Black Stallion books, but have only reread the first two since I became an adult. I think I petered out about the time of The Black Stallion and the Girl, but did read all three of The Island Stallion stories.

Mar 1, 2017, 2:38pm

>162 fuzzi: Sounds good.

The Island Stallion books were my favorites at the time. I read all the Walter Farley books that my Dad had had and then some from the library, but I don't recall just where I dropped off.

Mar 1, 2017, 8:33pm

>150 PaulCranswick:, >151 harrygbutler:

We have an expression here, "Like a shag on a rock." It does not mean remotely what it sounds like it means. :)

I was thinking of reading The Eye In The Museum for Carrie's "rhymes with pi" challenge this month, if you're interested?

Mar 2, 2017, 8:21am

>164 lyzard: Thanks for stopping by, Liz, and sharing another idiom!

I'd be up for a shared read of The Eye in the Museum, but I'm skipping the challenges this month. I'm already about 50 pages in, but I don't expect to get back to it for at least a few days more.

Edited: Mar 2, 2017, 8:32am

I'm struggling a bit with "Tecumseh" and Other Stories of the Ohio River Valley by Julia L. Dumont, a collection of stories by Ohio-born 19th-century author Julia L. Dumont, who lived for many years in Vevay, Indiana. I'm about a third of the way through the chronologically arranged collection, and the stories so far just aren't very good. I'm hoping they'll improve, but as yet I'm not impressed.

Mar 2, 2017, 9:17am

I went ahead and got the third issue of Cirsova last month, and yesterday I finished reading it. I'd say that the editing and proofreading had improved, but the stories struck me as just of average quality.

Cover, illustrating "Blood and Bones: Caribbean 1645"

The first couple stories were science fiction: "War in a Way That Suits You" involves a mercenary learning a lesson from foes, and "The Lion's Share" is a pirate story in space — with an irritating narrator. "Blood and Bones: Caribbean 1645" is another pirate tale, in an alternate world of magic, as is "The End of the Golden Age"; both were OK. "The Mad God's Scepter," wherein a mercenary and others face a monstrous foe, worked as an adventure, though the "twist" was obvious and the ending somewhat disappointing. "Othan, Liberator" is pretty much the story of a caper gone awry; it is one of the better stories in the volume. "The Space Witch" is a good, brief tale of duty. "Clock's Watch" was just irritating, with a world too-little realized to bring much investment in the story. And the novelette, "The Wooing of Etroklos," would have benefited from another round of revision to provide clearer motivation and characterization and also prune some of the irrelevancies. This issue's essay, on the excellent pulp author C. L. Moore, provides a decent, if argumentative, survey of some of her works, her style, and her themes in a fairly small compass.

Mar 3, 2017, 1:20pm

Late last month I purchased the second and third books in the Tish series by Mary Roberts Rinehart, Tish and More Tish. Both had been owned by the same person at some point, apparently in the 1930s, when they were located on Shelf 1 as Books 37 and 36, respectively. As the end papers of Tish reveal, the owner was interested in movies (in particular "Swingtime") but possibly stage musicals as well -- certainly in popular music -- and in fashion.

Here's the front end paper from Tish:

And here's the back end paper:

More Tish at one point had similar sketches, but they have been erased.

Mar 3, 2017, 3:23pm

>168 harrygbutler: what a find!

My mother had sketchbooks, I now remember, but don't know what happened to them. :(

Mar 4, 2017, 8:22am

22. Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West: Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough, ed. by Julia M.H. Smith

This Festschrift focuses on the two topics mentioned in the title. The first half contains essays devoted to Rome itself and its development from Late Antiquity through Carolingian times. Particularly noteworthy to me was how archaeology reveals Rome's participation in long-distance trade and the continuance of a money-based economy (with small-value coins supporting day-to-day transactions) through the end of the seventh and early eighth centuries, when the Muslim conquest of Byzantine Carthage put an end to the trade with North Africa and the other setbacks the empire suffered (e.g., the Lombard conquest of Ravenna) left Rome more on its own. The second half of the book looks at the ways in which other areas of western Europe interacted with Rome and the Papacy through Carolingian times, with essays dealing with the importance of Rome in the development of Christianity in Anglo-Saxon England, the translation of relics from Rome to England and to Carolingian regions, and the creation of display scripts for notable manuscripts based on Roman models.

Here's a stunning example, the beginning of the Gospel of John from MS Harley 2788, folio 162r:

Image source: The British Library, http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=harley_ms_2788_f162r

Mar 4, 2017, 9:22pm

Mar 4, 2017, 9:38pm

>169 fuzzi: Indeed! I regularly come across gift inscriptions, or names, but this was unusual. Maybe you'll be fortunate and come across your mother's sketchbooks tucked away forgotten in a box.

>171 fuzzi: Although the essay was a little too technical, focused on comparing letter shapes, it certainly pointed to some beautiful manuscripts.

Mar 4, 2017, 10:27pm

I never would have understood this reference if we hadn't watched LOVE ACTUALLY...

Edited: Mar 5, 2017, 9:45am

I've given up on "Tecumseh" and Other Stories of the Ohio River Valley by Julia L. Dumont. The stories I read just weren't very good, and I'd rather spend my time on others that better fit my tastes.

Edited: Mar 5, 2017, 3:22pm

After a disappointing trip to a library book sale yesterday — Erika found just one book, and I found none — today a visit to the Book Garden, in Cream Ridge, N.J., netted me a few and allowed me to spot others to pick up on a return visit. Today's small haul:

Mainly Horses, ed. by Ernest Rhys and C. A. Dawson-Scott — an anthology of short stories, part of a series
The Black Stallion's Filly, by Walter Farley — eighth in the series
Tales of Our Coast, by several authors — another anthology of stories, possibly for youths
The Mystery of Hunting's End, by Mignon G. Eberhart — third in the Nurse Sarah Keate series

Mar 5, 2017, 4:13pm

The Mystery Of Hunting's End is interesting and rather creepy.

I have stalled on the Sarah Keate series because my next one up is one of those infuriating instances of something being on Kindle in America but not here, though others in the series *are*, and I keep going around in circles hoping it will show up. However---it turns out that there's a copy in the Rare Books section of the library, so I think I'll have to tackle it that way.

Mar 5, 2017, 4:29pm

>176 lyzard: That characterization makes it likely I'll aim to get to The Mystery of Hunting's End sooner rather than later. :-)

I like the Sarah Keate character and the novels I've read so far. I'm picking them up when I have a chance to get them. I'm likeliest to stumble across the 1960s-era paperback reprints.

Mar 5, 2017, 4:52pm

We have that thing where a couple are available in libraries, and a couple are available as ebooks, but then suddenly you hit a wall...

In fact I have three or four series at the moment where that's the case and I have to decide how to proceed (and how much to spend doing it). Very frustrating!

Mar 5, 2017, 5:20pm

>178 lyzard: Yes, I can sympathize with that situation. Sometimes the situation is such that one can't even hope; I realized fairly quickly that despite my enjoyment of Frampton – of the “Yard”! (chance found at a local library book sale), it was quite unlikely I'd ever read more of the dozens of mysteries in that series by T. Arthur Plummer, as the books seem to be simply unavailable.

Mar 5, 2017, 5:23pm

Dropping by to say "Hello, Harry." I am coming back to the group after several years sabbatical.

Mar 5, 2017, 5:33pm

Hi, Stasia! Thanks for taking the time to stop by my thread! I hope you're enjoying your return to the group. I'll be sure to stop by your thread, too.

Edited: Mar 6, 2017, 10:04am

23. Lonesome Road, by Patricia Wentworth

Wealthy Rachel Treherne seeks out private investigator Maud Silver after several occurrences make her suspect someone has marked her for death — threatening letters, extra-slippery steps on a staircase, a fire, and poisoned chocolates. The events escalate: first adders are found in her bed, and then someone attempts to push her over a cliff. Which of her relatives might it be: Her sister and brother-in-law, who resent her control of the family money? Their grasping children, Maurice and Cherry? Caroline, who seems crushed by some secret sorrow? Her fiancé Richard? Devoted cousin Cosmo? Or is it someone outside the family, such as her apparently devoted servant Louisa, or the American stranger Gale Brent, though he rescued her from the cliffside?

The culprit is fairly obvious in this exploration of the burdens of responsibility, a reluctance to suspect those who are loved, and the desire to be fair to those who are disliked, but the story nevertheless works. Miss Silver remains perceptive and efficient, and I look forward to her next case. Recommended.

First sentence: "Rachel Treherne got out of the first-class carriage in which she travelled to London, gave up her ticket at the barrier, and after walking a little way in the direction of the exit stopped and looked up at the station clock."

Mar 6, 2017, 3:49pm

>182 harrygbutler:

Nice, Harry! I don't know if you saw the debate I had with Julia about this one on her thread---I felt that 'whodunnit' wasn't really the point. I think you've summed it up nicely in your second paragraph.

Mar 6, 2017, 5:32pm

>175 harrygbutler: have you read The Black Stallion's Filly before? I recall liking it, a lot.

>180 alcottacre: hiya! :waves:

Mar 6, 2017, 9:47pm

>183 lyzard: Thanks, Liz! I saw the start of that discussion, but I don't think I saw how it all played out. I agree that the mystery — if there even is a mystery — is often not the main concern. So far the Miss Silvers have seemed more character-focused. This was probably the best so far, as you said, I think, helped by having Miss Silver present from the outset. Grey Mask had some appeal for a fan of Edgar Wallace thrillers, but I like Wallace's own novels better on that score; I thought the mystery OK in The Case Is Closed, but not particularly compelling.

Mar 6, 2017, 9:49pm

>184 fuzzi: I really don't recall whether I read The Black Stallion's Filly. It seems likely, but I don't recognize the light blue cover. If I did, it might have been one from the library. I may recognize the story once I get around to reading it, but as I'm going to try to read them in order, that will likely be awhile yet.

Mar 6, 2017, 10:49pm

Tucked inside a book I'm reading right now is a bookmark from the Camden Free Public Library shown below. The front is on the left, the back on the right.

It is interesting that the back of the bookmark bears an advertisement for a local theater, and the advertisement makes it easy to date the bookmark, as the movie "David Copperfield" was released in 1935.

Mar 7, 2017, 7:51am

>187 harrygbutler: That is a lovely find!

Edited: Mar 7, 2017, 8:08pm

>187 harrygbutler: wow! Agreed, nice find!

No spoiler here: the daughter of the Black Stallion has a very short tail, due to an accident. Does that help you remember?

Here's the cover I recall:

Mar 7, 2017, 8:04pm

>187 harrygbutler: I love finding stuff like that inside books!

Mar 8, 2017, 7:24am

>188 FAMeulstee: Thanks!

>189 fuzzi: Thanks. The cover doesn't ring a bell, nor your short description, so either I missed that one, or the details are so far gone that I won't recognize the story until I read it again (which may be the case, as I have no recollection of the details of The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt, and I know I read that one, probably multiple times).

>190 alcottacre: It has been awhile since I found something like this in a book. One shop where I used to go had a case filled with items they had found in the books that they bought; it made for an interesting display.

Edited: Mar 9, 2017, 8:14am

24. Gray Dusk, by Octavus Roy Cohen

Murder hits close to home in the third and final David Carroll mystery by Octavus Roy Cohen, Gray Dusk. He receives a desperate telegram from his good friend Stanford Forrest, who is being held in jail in Karnak, South Carolina, for the brutal murder of his bride, Mary, just a few days after the wedding where Carroll served as best man. Carroll rushes to Forrest’s aid, accompanied by his clear-thinking assistant, Jim Sullivan, whose detachment offers balance to Carroll’s support of Forrest’s innocence.

The setting — rural South Carolina — and the generally positive depiction of law enforcement — in the person of the local sheriff, who is himself sympathetic toward the accused man but who realizes he is no detective — make a contrast with the previous books in the series. The author shows some sympathy for the swamp angels as well, especially for the Devarney family, whose daughter Essie, whose education in Charleston, which her family ensured she got, has made her ill-fitted for the backcountry life, may be implicated in the murder.

I spotted the murderer fairly early on, as one clue in particular stood out starkly. I did miss most of the others, however. Recommended.

First sentence: "David Carroll felt suddenly ill."

Mar 8, 2017, 12:39pm

>191 harrygbutler: if you don't recall anything, then it'll be like a new read!

I remember little bits about Sulky Colt, not enough to review it.

Mar 8, 2017, 4:02pm

>193 fuzzi: That's right!

Mar 8, 2017, 4:05pm

I'm gradually scanning the covers of all our books so that the cover images on LibraryThing match our copies. Today I ran into one of my favorite pulp reprint covers, for The Kid and the Cutthroats the third volume of the entertaining Foreign Legion stories by Theodore Roscoe:

Mar 8, 2017, 9:13pm

I also came across another neat publisher logo, on the back of the title page in my copy of P. G. Wodehouse's Summer Lightning. (The same logo also appears on the back cover of the book.)

Mar 8, 2017, 9:19pm

>195 harrygbutler: I scan the cover when I can't find a matching image, here on LT or on the web. It happens a lot with my TBSL books.

Mar 8, 2017, 9:42pm

>197 fuzzi: I started out doing it that way, but I had quite a few that needed a scan anyhow, so eventually I decided to just do them all.

Mar 8, 2017, 10:02pm

>196 harrygbutler:

I knew I'd encountered some Herbert Jenkins books, but had to check which they were: that company was the original publisher of the 'Clubfoot' stories.

Mar 8, 2017, 10:10pm

>199 lyzard: I didn't know that. I know Jenkins was also an author in his own right, with a series of comic novels starring the Cockney Bindle and his family and friends; I read one of them after I picked it up somewhere. And a quick look at Wikipedia tells me that Jenkins also wrote short stories about a sleuth that were collected in 1921 in Malcolm Sage, Detective.

Mar 8, 2017, 10:14pm

Yes, you didn't have to mention that... :D

Edited: Mar 8, 2017, 10:24pm

>201 lyzard: At least it's readily available online. :-)

For example,

And with more formatting:

However, it looks like the character of John Dene in the Malcolm Sage book first appeared in this, which sounds like a comic spy thriller:


Enough for the list? :-)

Mar 9, 2017, 12:00am


Mar 9, 2017, 8:14am

Mar 9, 2017, 1:30pm

>1 harrygbutler: BTW, I love the endpapers on your OP, and enjoy seeing them every time I visit this thread. :)

Mar 9, 2017, 4:21pm

>205 fuzzi: Thanks! I guess the pressure is on for my second-quarter thread topper! :-)

Mar 9, 2017, 6:42pm

>170 harrygbutler: You've read some interesting older church history things lately.

>182 harrygbutler: It's been a long time since I read anything by Wentworth.

Mar 10, 2017, 10:29am

>207 thornton37814: Hi, Lori. I have enjoyed the reading. They were a bit closer together than I had expected, because they were ILL requests, and when or even if I get a book in response to those is somewhat unpredictable. I do have a list of other similar books waiting, pulled out from the references in those.

A few of us are planning a shared read of the Miss Silver series, picking up with #4 next month, if you're interested.

Mar 10, 2017, 10:31am

25. East of Samarinda, by Carl Jacobi

I think this cover is illustrating the story “Tiger Island” included in this collection.

East of Samarinda is an excellent collection of adventure stories — good enough, in fact, that I’m considering tracking down a copy to purchase after reading a copy obtained via the library. These are tales of vengeance and redemption, justice and the thwarting of crime, with scarcely a week story in the lot, which were culled from those that Jacobi had contributed to an assortment of pulp magazines in the 1930s and 1940s. It is difficult to pick standouts in this volume, as nearly all were quite good. Some favorites:

  • “Crocodile,” in which “the ‘wrong’ story is told to the ‘right’ person”

  • “Letter of Dismissal,” in which a young officer bearing a letter kicking him out of the service faces the temptation to betray his trust

  • “The Jade Scarlotti,” in which radio codes prove critical to solving a mystery

  • “Leopard Tracks,” in which an engineer faces crooks trying to prevent a railroad from being built

  • “Deceit Post,” in which reels of film play a part

  • “Quarry,” in which a crook on the run tries to escape a dogged pursuer

  • “Trial by Jungle” — a quest for vengeance

Highly recommended to readers with a taste for adventure stories.

Mar 10, 2017, 4:50pm

>209 harrygbutler:

You should never go deep-sea diving without your revolver!

Mar 10, 2017, 4:56pm

>210 lyzard: It's certainly part of my gear! (Though I think that cover is intended to illustrate that story, the fighting on the sea bottom sensibly enough does not involve revolvers, and the pistol is handled topside by a friend while the diver is down below.)

Mar 10, 2017, 5:00pm

But where's the fun in that?

Mar 10, 2017, 5:04pm

Certainly not as interesting visually!

Mar 10, 2017, 6:07pm

With a couple big book sales over the next two weeks, I'm reminded I should move ahead with pruning duplicates and books that no longer have a place in our library. Will the tedious work of H. C. Bailey be purged? Probably, as I've never yet been able to finish a mystery in either of his series, and though Erika made it through one, she wasn't exactly enthusiastic about it. Several of the Gideon series by J. J. Marric (John Creasey) are already in the pile to go.

I'll post the list here first, once I get it done, as I'd prefer to pass them along to those who might want to read them.

Mar 10, 2017, 8:31pm

>214 harrygbutler: I'll be watching for your list...

Mar 10, 2017, 8:33pm

Mar 11, 2017, 7:02am

>215 fuzzi: >216 lyzard: I suspect there will be something of interest to each of you. :-)

Mar 11, 2017, 8:02am

26. Partners in Crime, by Agatha Christie

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford are asked to take over a detective agency that was being run by foreign spies. Seeking a change of pace, they agree to do so, and over the next few months solve a variety of cases, ranging from the lighthearted to the grim. In each investigation, they propose to adopt the methods of a famous fictional sleuth, and the stories are to some extent thus imitative parodies or homages.

This volume was fun, but not really a success. I tired of the conceit of “following the Classics.” Moreover, where I didn’t think the imitations/parodies always very effective — and as I felt that most with the authors or detectives I knew best, I have my doubts about the rest. In particular, the Edgar Wallace parody in the case of the Crackler missed the mark for me. This is not a surprise, I guess, as I’ve been unimpressed by Christie’s attempts at books in the Wallace thriller vein; I think she just wasn’t sympathetic enough to the genre.

Recommended for completists or fans of Tommy and Tuppence.

Edited: Mar 11, 2017, 8:31am

>161 harrygbutler: argh...I don't own Ice Station Zebra, no shared read after all. :(

If you still want to do a shared read, maybe we can pick another MacLean we both own? I have seven, unread, on my shelves.

Mar 11, 2017, 9:45am

I am always impressed by the breadth of your reading, Harry. As for the science fiction/fantasy genres, I dipped my toe in a year or so ago for a SFFF challenge, but that was enough for me!

Mar 12, 2017, 9:12am

>219 fuzzi: Drat. The only others I have at the moment are River of Death and Breakheart Pass. I'll be keeping my eye out for others, if you'd like to suggest one for next month.

Mar 12, 2017, 9:17am

>220 countrylife: Thanks, Cindy! I like a little variety. :-)

I want to like science fiction and fantasy more than I usually do when I actually try some. I think in general I find the older stuff a better fit for my tastes.

Mar 12, 2017, 9:45am

Yesterday was the annual AAUW sale in Delaware, and I managed a good haul.

Curtains for the Judge, by Thomas Polsky
The Corpse Steps Out, by Craig Rice
Nothing Venture, by Patricia Wentworth
Out of the Past, by Patricia Wentworth
Poison in the Pen, by Patricia Wentworth

Sailors' Knots, by W. W. Jacobs
The Affair at the Inn, by Kate Douglas Wiggin et al.
The Birds' Christmas Carol, by Kate Douglas Wiggin
New Chronicles of Rebecca, by Kate Douglas Wiggin

Children's Books
Mother West Wind's Children, by Thornton Burgess
Copy-Kitten, by Helen & Alf Evers
Son of the Black Stallion, by Walter Farley
The Black Stallion Mystery, by Walter Farley

Shanks' Mare, by Ikku Jippensha (translation of Japanese comic novel from the early 19th century)
The Towneley Plays (Early English Text Society edition of these Middle English plays)

The most surprising find was probably the EETS volume; I never run across those at used book sales. The best finds, though, were probably the two by Walter Farley, as they are first editions still in their dust jackets and fill in a couple holes as I look to assemble a complete series.

* * *

After the book sale, we went to the Brandywine River Museum (http://www.brandywine.org/museum), which is currently featuring the exhibition "From Homer to Hopper: Experiment and Ingenuity in American Art" and a smaller exhibit on American landscapes that I quite liked. The museum is a good stop for fans of late 19th and early 20th century books, as it features paintings by N. C. Wyeth (the museum overall is focused on the Wyeth family artists), Howard Pyle, Frederic Remington, and others that were the originals for book illustrations. Here's an example, the endpapers for an edition of Treasure Island: http://www.brandywine.org/museum/collection/collection-highlights/treasure-islan... (I'm unable to embed the image directly.)

Mar 12, 2017, 9:58am

Oh, and a couple stops at thrift stores on our leisurely trip homeward (the sale was about an hour away) netted two more books:

Best American Mystery Stories, as selected by Carolyn Wells. Most, if not all, the stories included seem to have been published in 1930 (and, based on the copyrights, chiefly in the "slicks"). Many of the authors are unfamiliar names, so they may have had few reprints in book form.

Strange Tales from The Strand. This is a companion volume to another that I've had for several years, Detective Stories from The Strand, but with stories concerned with the fantastic and supernatural in some way.

Mar 12, 2017, 10:04am

My you've been busy with an acquisition spree, Harry.

With my slightly straightened circumstances at the beginning of the year I am not living up to the coined "Cranswickian" behaviour so it is good to see someone else is.

Have a great Sunday.

Mar 12, 2017, 11:17am

>225 PaulCranswick: Thanks for stopping by, Paul! I've actually been buying fewer books the last couple years myself, but modest prices at used book sales allow the occasional quantity purchase. I have hopes for a second sale that starts later this week, where I usually manage to get several books of interest.

Edited: Mar 12, 2017, 5:03pm

27. The Crock of Gold, by James Stephens

The Crock of Gold was a real disappointment. An Irish comic novel first published in 1912, it features the adventures of a Philosopher and his wife, the Thin Woman of Inis Magrath, in their dealings with leprechauns and gods and the police and others. I never really warmed to it, however. Parts were fun, but the action was too much interrupted by commentary — not by the Philosopher (whose opinions were amusing in general) but by the author. I found it well written, but not something I’m likely to revisit.

First sentence: "In the centre of the pine wood called Coilla Doraca there lived not long ago two Philosophers."


Mar 12, 2017, 12:33pm

>221 harrygbutler: I don't have either of those MacLeans... :(

What a prolific author!

Mar 12, 2017, 5:04pm

>228 fuzzi: Darn. I'll definitely be getting more as I see them, so maybe we can manage a shared read later on.

Mar 12, 2017, 7:07pm

>229 harrygbutler: eventually we've gotta have one that matches!

I own books 1-4 in The Black Stallion series, so if you ever want to do a shared read there, I'd be interested.

Mar 12, 2017, 7:16pm

>230 fuzzi: Sounds good. I'm planning on The Black Stallion Returns this month, if I can find it. :-) Now that I have Son of the Black Stallion, I'd be up for it in a month or two.

Edited: Mar 23, 2017, 4:20pm

So here's the list of books we have on hand that are free to good homes. If you are interested in any (or all!) of them, just let me know. If you want any more info on any of them, just ask.

TBSL books:
Rudder Grange, by Frank R. Stockton (hc)
More Forgotten Towns of New Jersey, by Henry C. Beck (hc)
The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott (4-volume 19th-century -- I think -- Collier hc edition with very cheap paper and a few loose pages in one volume)
Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope (hc, Everyman’s Library edition)
Stories from the Italian Poets (First Series): Dante Alighieri, by Leigh Hunt (hc, decorative binding)
Matthew Arnold: Prose and Poetry, ed. by Archibald L. Boulton (1927) (hc)
The Bride of Lammermoor, by Sir Walter Scott (hc, Collins’ Clear-Type Press illustrated edition)
A Dictionary of Non-Classical Mythology (hc, Everyman’s Library edition, binding loose)
Balladen und Romanzen, ed. by C. A. Buchheim (hc, Macmillan, 1904)
Rasselas, by Samuel Johnson (hc, decorative binding, but loose)
The Crock of Gold, by James Stephens (first published 1912; this copy 1926; hc)
Hidden Creek, by Katharine Newlin Burt (hc western, first published 1920)
Pussy Meow: The Autobiography of a Cat, by S. Louise Patteson (hc)
All six Automobile Girls books Laura Dent Crane (hc; these are definitely somewhat tattered — weak hinges and some damage to covers/spines):

The Mayfair Mystery, by Frank Richardson (hc, Collins Crime Club modern reprint)
Murder in Piccadilly, by Charles Kingston (pb, British Library Crime Classics reprint)
Death on the Cherwell, by Mavis Doriel Hay (pb, British Library Crime Classics reprint)
The Double, by Edgar Wallace (hc, Grosset & Dunlap)
Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries, by Melville Davisson Post (Collier pb)
The Case of the Constant Suicides by John Dickson Carr (Collier pb)
The White Priory Murders, by Carter Dickson (pb)
Death Knell, by Baynard Kendrick (Dell mapback pb)
Trent Intervenes, by E. C. Bentley (Dover)
Fire Below (aka By Royal Command), by Dornford Yates (pb)
The Tragedy of X, by Ellery Queen (pb)
Mr. Fortune Speaking, by H. C. Bailey (hc)
The Shadow on the Wall, by H. C. Bailey (Rue Morgue pb reprint)
The Garston Murder Case, by H. C. Bailey (ex-lib in lib binding, missing title page but otherwise complete)
Gideon’s Ride, by J. J. Marric (pb)
Gideon’s Art, by J. J. Marric (pb)
Gideon’s Badge, by J. J. Marric (pb)
Gideon’s Staff, by J. J. Marric (pb)

Jasper Fforde books (all hc):
Something Rotten
The Fourth Bear
The Eyre Affair
Thursday Next
One of Our Thursdays Is Missing
Lost in a Good Book
The Big Over Easy

Louis L’Amour paperbacks:
The High Graders
The Trail to Crazy Man

Standing in the Rainbow, by Fannie Flagg (hc)
The Phormio of Terence – edition of Latin text with notes (hc)
Phantastes, by George MacDonald (Eerdmans pb)
South of Sulu: The Adventures of Singapore Sammy, by George F. Worts (pulp reprint, pb)
Amusement Inc. vs. the Scarlet Ace, by Theodore A. Tinsley (pulp reprint, pb)
Amazon Nights, by Arthur O. Friel (pulp reprint, pb)

Mar 13, 2017, 7:40am

Aw nurtz! You would have to offer some wonderful titles in a year I'm culling.
Stopping at three. ;)

I love Frank Stockton, so can I please have Rudder Grange?
And I would love to have Pussy Meow - I've read a little bit of it online.
And I can't resist a motoring romance either. May I have one of the Automobile Girls, please? Not particular as to which one.

I checked out The Crock of Gold page, and have to save the quotation from one of the reviews:

"A thought is a real thing and words are only its raiment, but a thought is as shy as a virgin; unless it is fittingly appareled we may not look on its shadowy nakedness."

Mar 13, 2017, 9:15am

>233 2wonderY: I've been keeping an eye on your culling thread in case something needs to come here, Ruth, but nothing so far.

I'll set these aside; I'll figure out the Automobile Girls selection.

I like Frank Stockton, too, and have picked up several volumes of his stuff. I quite liked Rudder Grange, but I have two copies, so one must go. :-)

I'm of two minds about The Crock of Gold. I finished it because the writing was quite good, but it wasn't a good fit for me, so I think it best to let it find a more appreciative audience. I do recall that quotation from the book.

Mar 13, 2017, 9:23am

A salutary advisory:

The first author listed, Jean Lilly, is unfamiliar to me.

I'm planning to read my first Keeler soon, The Riddle of the Yellow Zuri.

I read Francis Gérard's Secret Sceptre many years ago. An odd book, which I think my mother got via the Mystery Guild or one of the other book clubs, and which I quite liked. I never knew it was part of an ongoing series starring the character John Meredith, though.

Mar 13, 2017, 11:13am

Nice selection, but I'm going to pass. I'm trying to cull, too, so I am being more selective in my choices.

Since I don't think Harry would mind, I'll add a book to the "anyone want this?" list: Luck of the Irish by Ruth Adams Knight. You can read the review on the book's main page, as I'm the only one who has reviewed it!

Mar 13, 2017, 11:26am

Mar 13, 2017, 11:34am

>236 fuzzi: Oh, well, maybe next time! :-)

I hope you find a taker for Luck of the Irish!

Mar 13, 2017, 11:38am

>237 fuzzi: I'll look a little harder for The Black Stallion Returns among the shelves and piles, then. It's not on the bookcase where I expected to find it, but I have several other places to search.

I'll keep an eye out for those Alistair MacLean books. I've definitely seen them around, but I had tapered off buying because I had a backlog to read already on hand.

Mar 13, 2017, 12:47pm

>237 fuzzi: >239 harrygbutler: I think I'll just get The Black Stallion Returns — that should ensure that my copy shows up! :-) (It worked exactly that way with Partners in Crime this past week.) Would you be ready for a shared read around the end of this week?

Mar 13, 2017, 12:48pm

>240 harrygbutler: sounds like a plan.

Don't buy it, I'm sure your public library has a copy of that book.

Mar 13, 2017, 12:50pm

>241 fuzzi: Oops. I left out "...at the library." :-) Cold medicine at work!

Mar 13, 2017, 1:59pm

>242 harrygbutler: oh no! Not you, too!

My reading jag this weekend was because I was feeling too ill to get off the recliner, but not too ill to read...

Mar 13, 2017, 3:35pm

>243 fuzzi: I'm trying to forestall it. I started out the day feeling as though a cold were starting, so I hit it right away. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

I hope you're feeling better!

Edited: Mar 13, 2017, 4:44pm

>232 harrygbutler:

Mmmmm... But checking reveals that the books on your list which most catch my eye are available here, so I will pass.

>235 harrygbutler:

I know I have Jean Lilly on The Series List, but I haven't read her yet. On the other hand, I have already dipped a toe into Lake Keeler, naturally (from my point of view) starting with his fist novel, The Voice Of The Seven Sparrows, which was a lot more normal than I'd been led to expect. :)

ETA: I have Jean Lilly listed with a three-book series featuring a District Attorney called Bruce Perkins.

Mar 13, 2017, 4:57pm

>209 harrygbutler: I have to have that one!

Mar 14, 2017, 6:49am

>245 lyzard: I have to say I'm not surprised that you have Jean Lilly listed, Liz! I'm looking forward to trying out Keeler.

>246 alcottacre: It really was a very good collection of adventure stories, Stasia.

Edited: Mar 14, 2017, 7:50am

28. The Eye in the Museum, by J. J. Connington

The Eye in the Museum opens with a visit by Joyce Hazlemere and her fiancé Leslie Seaforth to the local museum, in which we learn of its signal architectural feature, a camera obscura that allows visitors close-up views of parts of the town below. We also learn of Joyce’s bitter hatred toward her controlling and vicious aunt, Evelyn Fenton, and it is no surprise that Joyce is the immediate suspect when her aunt is found dead thereafter. Other suspects emerge, however, including the victim’s estranged husband, who desperately wanted a divorce that she refused to give; an estate agent who may have been cheating her; and Dr. Simon Hyndford, who lived just across the river and was very close to the victim. Cagy lawyer James Corwen works to shield his client, Joyce, from arrest, while methodical Superintendent Ross uncovers an array of clues, including, at the last, a crucial one that depends on the museum’s camera obscura. Recommended.

First sentence: "'Not so very far to walk, was it?'"

Mar 14, 2017, 10:03am

Weather looking bad up your way, Harry! Hope you have a warm fire and plenty of books to see you through.

Mar 14, 2017, 10:19am

>249 fuzzi: Thanks! It's blowing and snowing and sleeting; the window by where I'm working is all iced up. Erika's work is closed because of the weather; since I work from home, I don't get the unexpected day off. :-)

Mar 14, 2017, 12:57pm

>250 harrygbutler: yeah, but you don't have to commute, either!

Stay warm, and stay safe.

Mar 14, 2017, 1:36pm

>252 harrygbutler: True — and not commuting is a big plus! Thanks!

Mar 14, 2017, 3:45pm

29. The Life of Bishop Wilfrid, by Eddius Stephanus, ed. and trans. By Bertram Colgrave

Bishop Wilfrid of York was an important but controversial figure in the church in late sixth and early seventh-century England. Clashes with kings and the archbishop of Canterbury resulted in imprisonment, exile, and the temporary loss of his see, leading to more than one trip to Rome to appeal to the pope for support — support that he got, although it wasn’t always effective. Over the course of a lengthy ecclesiastical career, he founded monasteries, built churches on the Roman model (indeed, references to his imitations of Roman churches in my recent reading helped prompt this rereading of The Life of Bishop Wilfrid by Eddius Stephanus), converted Frisians (albeit temporarily, it seems) and South Saxons, and was influential in political developments in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the time. Eddius Stephanus apparently wrote his Life shortly after Wilfrid’s death. It is a highly partisan account by a follower of the oft-exiled bishop, but interesting and worth reading nonetheless. The edition I read includes both the Latin original and a facing-page English translation. Recommended.

Mar 16, 2017, 9:14am

30. League of the Grateful Dead and Other Stories, by Day Keene

This collection of stories from the pulp magazines by Day Keene offers an interesting contrast in styles. The first story, “League of the Grateful Dead,” was published in Dime Mystery Magazine in 1941 and is an example of the “weird menace” tale, in which seemingly supernatural events are unraveled by an investigator, here a washed-up alcoholic doctor whose friend, a reporter, is murdered. The story is perhaps noteworthy for being the source, apparently, of the name of the band, as according to the introduction Jerry Garcia in an interview once told a reporter that he took the band’s name from “an old pulp magazine.”

Most of the rest of the stories, all of which were published in Detective Tales between February 1945 and May 1948, are more hard-boiled, with a protagonist, often either a serviceman or an ex-serviceman, tackling murder and more. A few of the stories feature the same detective, Tom Doyle, who struck me as unusual in that he is married, with young children; another story seems to have the same character, but under a different name. These are serviceable tales with a recurring setup, including the opposition of the state’s attorney to the “kill-crazy” PI, a respectful and even friendly relationship with at least some of the police, and lots of violence on the way to a solution to the crime. Another story has practically the same character, but with a different name (Matt Mercer); that one also has a version of the Winchester Mystery House. “Marry the Sixth for Murder!” features a detective, employed by a movie studio, who is called upon by a fading star after an apparent accident; the investigation uncovers more, including an unexpected back story for the detective. “Dance with the Death-House Doll” has a much-decorated soldier on leave trying to carry out the last request of his brother, who was killed at Anzio, and becoming entangled in a mystery involving murder, robbery, and a woman just a few days from being executed for the crime.


Edited: Mar 16, 2017, 1:58pm

>254 harrygbutler: Louis L'Amour wrote a bunch of hard-boiled detective stories, and published a collection called The Hills of Homicide. It sounds similar to your pulp collection read.

Mar 16, 2017, 4:39pm

>255 fuzzi: I remember enjoying those; I guess I'll have to find my copy and reread them.

There's also a collection of mystery stories Ray Bradbury wrote for the pulps in the 1940s: A Memory of Murder. I don't recall the details, but I know I liked some of them when I read them.

Edited: Mar 16, 2017, 7:53pm

>256 harrygbutler: I've only tried one Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, and disliked it to the point that I did not finish it.

Mar 16, 2017, 7:56pm

>248 harrygbutler: >253 harrygbutler: >254 harrygbutler: All of those are going into the BlackHole! I am going to have to watch out for your thread it seems, Harry!

Mar 17, 2017, 8:31am

>257 fuzzi: I don't really recall that one. I've liked what I've read of his — mostly short stories, I think, but a few novels as well.

>258 alcottacre: Happy to help! :-)

Mar 17, 2017, 9:12am

Tomorrow we head to the annual Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale (http://bmandwbooks.com/), a fundraiser for scholarships held each year at the Princeton Day School. This sale is one of the best around, with large quantities of books of all sorts, including plenty of older books for me. I'm looking forward to it.

Mar 17, 2017, 2:27pm

>260 harrygbutler: whew! The admission fee is too expensive for me.

Mar 17, 2017, 2:45pm

>261 fuzzi: That is only charged if you want to go on the first day -- the equivalent of the library sales where they make you join the friends of the library group to get early access. The rest of the days are free, with one day half price and the final day a box sale.

Mar 17, 2017, 6:01pm

>262 harrygbutler: ah, better.

Hey! I found The Black Stallion Mystery today, for 25 cents. That's one I never read.

Edited: Mar 17, 2017, 6:23pm

>263 fuzzi: Cool! And an excellent price, too! I just got it myself. I don't think I ever read it, either.

Mar 17, 2017, 10:12pm

>260 harrygbutler: I hope you are able to pick up a bunch of books, Harry!

Happy weekend :)

Mar 18, 2017, 8:20am

>265 alcottacre: Thanks, Stasia! You, too!

Mar 18, 2017, 9:01am

>240 harrygbutler: I'm between reads, are you ready for The Black Stallion Returns?

Mar 18, 2017, 2:45pm

>267 fuzzi: Yep. I was able to pick up the library copy today, so I could start at any time.

Mar 18, 2017, 2:58pm

>269 harrygbutler: I found a decent number of books at the book sale today, and I also spotted around two dozen more that I will pick up if they are still there on box sale day on Tuesday. The finds:

Murder in Room 700, by Mary Hastings Bradley (1931)
Common or Garden Crime, by Sheila Pim (Rue Morgue Press reprint)
Knocked for a Loop, by Craig Rice (1957)
The April Robin Murders, by Craig Rice and Ed McBain (1958)

Jorrocks's Jaunts and Jollities, by R. S Surtees (1903 Methuen illustrated edition)
"Hoots!", by J. J. Bell (1929 collection of jokes/humorous stories)
"Care for a Merger?" Cartoons from The Wall Street Journal, ed. by Charles Preston (1958)

Heidi by Johanna Spyri (Thrushwood edition)

Science Fiction
Nordenholt's Millions, by J. J. Connington (Penguin reprint)

Tam O' the Scoots, by Edgar Wallace (A. L. Burt reprint of short stories about WWI fliers)

Mar 18, 2017, 4:58pm

>269 harrygbutler:

Murder in Room 700, by Mary Hastings Bradley (1931)

Wow! :D

Edited: Mar 18, 2017, 5:07pm

>270 lyzard: Do you know anything about it, Liz? (I saw you have it cataloged.) I don't, nor really about the author (though I have one other work by her).

Edited: Mar 18, 2017, 6:14pm

I know she was one of the many incredibly busy people of that era of whom you can say---"...and in her spare time, she wrote mysteries." :)

I can't say I know anything about her mystery writing (though she has found her way onto the wishlist), though I'm aware of her travel writing. And of who her daughter was...

Edited: Mar 18, 2017, 6:27pm

>269 harrygbutler: the only one I know from your haul is Heidi, which is a good read!

>268 harrygbutler: sure, let's start tonight!

Mar 18, 2017, 7:18pm

>272 lyzard: You're definitely ahead of me; I didn't know about her travel writing, or about her daughter, who wasn't an author I read (that I can recall) when I was reading a fair amount of science fiction.

>273 fuzzi: I've been looking for a copy of Heidi for quite some time, but the copies I've found till now were in bad shape (or abridged). I'm a fan of the movie, which I think I first saw as a child, but I've never read the book. Glad to hear it's good!

I'll get started on The Black Stallion Returns this evening, then!

Mar 19, 2017, 9:01am

I've begun a second thread, here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/252731