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amanda4242's thread #3

This is a continuation of the topic amanda4242's thread #2.

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Edited: Sep 30, 2017, 3:13pm Top

Total books read


Edited: Oct 8, 2017, 12:19am Top

1. The Space Merchants ★★★1/2
2. The House in Paris--BAC ★★
3. Black Robe--BAC ★★★1/2
4. Voices from Chernobyl--NF challenge ★★★★
5. The Einstein Intersection ★★1/2
6. The Ballad of Black Tom ★★★★
7. Wild Seed--AAC ★★★★
8. The Dragon's Boy ★★★1/2
9. Binti ★★★
10. The Vegetarian ★★
11. The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps ★★1/2
12. Survivor--AAC ★★★★1/2
13. The House at Pooh Corner ★★★★
14. The Outsiders ★★
15. Who? ★★★1/2
16. The Jewels of Aptor ★★1/2
17. Human Acts ★★1/2
18. Doctormania ★★★
19. Feast of the King's Shadow ★★★★
20. The Blue Hour ★★★1/2
21. The Bear and the Nightingale ★★★★1/2
22. A Prayer for the Dying--AAC ★★★1/2
23. The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories--BAC ★★★1/2
24. Binti: Home ★★★1/2
25. Strata--BAC ★★★★
26. There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister's Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories ★★★1/2
27. Design for Living ★★★1/2
28. Covenant with Hell ★★★★
29. Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor Volume 5 - The Twist ★★★★
30. A Walk in Wolf Wood--BAC ★★★1/2
31. Satan's Lullaby ★★★1/2
32. James Bond Volume 2: Eidolon ★★★
33. Around the World in Eighty Days--NF challenge ★★★1/2
34. A Kind of Loving--BAC ★★1/2
35. Georgy Girl--BAC ★
36. Up the Junction--BAC ★1/2
37. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold--BAC ★★
38. Wide Sargasso Sea--BAC ★★★1/2
39. The Drowned World--BAC ★★★1/2
40. How to Talk to Girls at Parties--BAC ★★★1/2
41. Troll Bridge--BAC ★★★★
42. Doctor Who: Sins of the father ★★★
43. The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May ★1/2
44. The Hanging Tree ★★★1/2
45. The Magic Toyshop--BAC ★★★1/2
46. Land of Shadows ★★★1/2
47. Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the House of the Night of Dread Desire--BAC ★★★★1/2
48. Final Girls ★★★★
49. The Familiar, Volume 2: Into the Forest ★★
50. The Familiar, Volume 3: Honeysuckle and Pain ★★1/2
51. The Familiar, Volume 4: Hades ★★★
52. The L-Shaped Room--BAC ★★★
53. The Pumpkin Eater--BAC ★1/2
54. The Garrick Year--BAC ★★
55. A Compass Error--BAC ★1/2
56. The Proud Sinner ★★★
57. Jacaranda ★★★
58. The Long March & The Clap Shack--AAC ★1/2
59. Doctor Who: Supremacy of the Cybermen ★★
60. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall ★★★★
61. The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England--NF challenge ★★★1/2
62. Ragnarok: The End of the Gods--BAC ★★1/2
63. Constantine, Volume 1: The Spark and the Flame ★★1/2
64. A Darker Shade of Magic ★★★1/2
65. The Crystal Cave--BAC ★★★1/2
66. In Patagonia--BAC & NF challenge ★★1/2
67. Penric's Demon ★★★★1/2
68. How to Read and Why--NF challenge ★★1/2
69. Angels and Insects--BAC ★★★
70. Where the Sidewalk Ends--AAC ★★★★★
71. A Bouquet of Barbed Wire--BAC 1/2
72. Constantine, Volume 2: Blight
73. Yvain: The Knight of the Lion ★★★★
74. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath ★★1/2
75. What Makes This Book So Great--BAC & NF challenge ★★★★★

76. Castle Rackrent--BAC ★★★1/2
77. Lady Susan--BAC ★★★★
78. Every Heart a Doorway ★★★★
79. Marble Skin ★1/2
80. Constantine, Volume 3: The Voice in the Fire ★★★
81. Lady Mechanika, Volume 1: Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse ★★★★
82. Lady Mechanika, Volume 2: The Tablet of Destinies ★★★★
83. Babel-17 ★★★★1/2
84. Corridors of Power--BAC ★★
85. Infernal Parade ★★1/2
86. Constantine, Volume 4: The Apocalypse Road★★★1/2
87. Frida's Bed ★★★1/2
88. The Hellblazer, Volume 1: The Poison Truth ★★
89. Frankenstein--BAC ★★★
90. Lagoon ★★1/2
91. Believe Me: a memoir of love, death, and jazz chickens ★★★
92. A Wind in the Door
93. Empire Star ★★★
94. Lucy ★★1/2
95. Rocannon's World ★★★
96. In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World it Made--NF challenge ★
97. Planet of Exile★★★
98. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman--BAC ★★
99. Penric and the Shaman ★★★★1/2
100. The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe ★★★★
101. The Mysteries of Udolpho--BAC ★★
10. Cinnamon--BAC ★★★1/2
103. Gwendy's Button Box ★★★1/2
104. Mules and Men--AAC ★★★
105. This Census-Taker ★★
106. Ninefox Gambit ★★★★
107. Achilles ★★★1/2
108. Norse Mythology--BAC ★★★★★
109. Two in the Bush--NF challenge ★★★★
110. World Without Stars ★★★1/2
111. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian--AAC ★★★★
112. Lady Mechanika, Vol.3: The Lost Boys of West Abbey ★★★★
113. The Aye-Aye and I--NF challenge ★★★★
114. Penric's Mission ★★★★1/2
115. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet ★★★1/2
116. Hellblazer, Vol. 1: Original Sins ★★★★★
117. Hellblazer, Vol. 2: The Devil You Know ★★★★
118. Down Among the Sticks and Bones ★★★★
119. Hellblazer, Vol. 3: The Fear Machine ★★★★
120. Dead Things ★★★1/2
121. The Drowning Eyes ★★
122. An Atlas of Countries that Don't Exist ★★
123. The Handmaid's Tale ★★★1/2
124. Serve the People! ★★★
125. Friday's Child--BAC ★★1/2
126. Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Vol.7: War of Gods ★★1/2
127. Broken Souls ★★★
128. All the birds in the Sky
129. Lost Boy: The True Story of Captain Hook ★★★1/2
130. A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3000 BC - AD 1603--BAC & NF challenge ★★★★
131. Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes--BAC & NF challenge ★★★1/2
132. The Game of Kings--BAC ★★1/2
133. The Green Man--BAC ★★1/2
134. Kill 'Em and Leave: searching for James Brown and the American Soul--AAC & NF challenge ★★★
135. Mira's Last Dance ★★★★1/2
136. Akata Witch ★★★★
137. Hellblazer, Volume 4: The Family Man ★★★★
138. Hammers on Bone ★★★★
139. Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef ★★★1/2
140. Mrs. Tim Christie--BAC ★★★★
141. Storm Front ★★★★
142. Lost Empires--BAC ★★★1/2
143. The Furthest Station ★★★1/2
144. Poor Caroline--BAC ★★★1/2
145. Witch Child--BAC ★★1/2
146. Day--BAC ★★1/2
147. Army of Darkness / Xena, Warrior Princess: Forever and a Day ★★★
148. Hellblazer, Vol. 5: Dangerous Habits ★★★★
149. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell--BAC ★★★★1/2
150. Hellblazer, Vol. 6: Bloodlines ★★★★

Edited: Dec 31, 2017, 10:37pm Top

151. Clay's Ark--AAC ★★★
152. Cheek by Jowl--NF challenge ★★★1/2
153. Hungry Ghosts ★★★1/2
154. Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Volume 3 - Official Secrets ★★★
155. River of Teeth ★1/2
156. James Bond: Hammerhead ★★★1/2
157. A Game for the Living--AAC ★★1/2
158. Judge Savage--BAC 1/2
159. Doctor Who: The Twelfth Doctor, Volume 6: Sonic Boom ★★1/2
160. The Dig--BAC ★★★
161. Lady Mechanika: La Dama de la Muerte ★★★1/2
162. Nutshell--BAC ★
163. The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion 1/2
164. Penric's Fox ★★★★1/2
165. Greek Myths: Illustrated Edition--BAC ★★★1/2
166. Carol--AAC ★★
167. Kafka on the Shore ★★
168. Sacré bleu ★★★★
169. Pigeon English--BAC ★1/2
170. The Quickening Maze--BAC ★★★1/2
171. Mandoa, Mandoa!--BAC ★★★★
172. Babylon Revisited and Other Stories--AAC ★★★1/2
173. Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art, and Arson in the Convents of Italy--NF challenge ★★★
174. 99 Stormtroopers Join the Empire ★★★1/2
175. Joseph Andrews--BAC ★★1/2
176. Haweswater--BAC ★★
177. Nine Stories--AAC ★★★1/2
178. Fantastic Mr. Fox and Other Animal Stories--BAC ★★★★★
179. Longbourn--BAC ★★★★1/2
180. A Song for Quiet ★★★★
181. Doctor Who : the Tenth Doctor. Vol. 1, Facing fate. Breakfast at Tyranny's ★★1/2
182. Penny Dreadful, Volume 1 ★★★★
183. The Whispering Roots and Other Poems--BAC ★★★1/2
184. Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction--NF challenge ★★★★
185. Restless--BAC ★★★★
186. A Small Charred Face--★★★1/2
187. The Witches--BAC★★★★★
188. The Cataract of Lodore--BAC ★★★★
189. The Omen ★★★
190. NW--BAC ★★
191. Lucy Gray; or, Solitude--BAC ★★★1/2
192. In Country Sleep and Other Poems ★★
193. The People's Act of Love--BAC ★★★1/2
194. Skin Folk ★★★
195. Tam O'Shanter ★★★★1/2
196. The Tragedy of Jane Shore--BAC ★
197. The Tower ★★★
198. The Tear Thief--BAC ★★1/2
199. The Gift--BAC ★★★1/2
200. Tales from the Mabinogion--BAC ★★★1/2
201. Boy: Tales of Childhood--BAC ★★★★1/2
202. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker--BAC ★★★1/2
203. Mrs. Scrooge: A Christmas Poem--BAC ★
204. Bananas in my ears: a collection of nonsense stories, poems, riddles & rhymes--BAC ★★★1/2
205. Tremontaine Season One ★★★★1/2
206. Wylding Hall ★★★★
207. The Day of the Triffids ★★1/2
208. It Devours! ★★★★1/2
209. What Now?--AAC ★★1/2
210. Rain: a natural and cultural history--NF challenge ★★★
211. Selected Writings of the Laureate Dunces--BAC ★★★
212. Volpone ★★1/2
213. Dear Harp of My Country: The Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore ★★★★
214. The Murders of Molly Southbourne ★★★★
215. Slightly Invisible--BAC ★★★★
216. Stick Man--BAC ★★★★
217. Jack Sweettooth--BAC ★★★★
218. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight--BAC ★★★★
219. The Diary of a Killer Cat--BAC ★★★★
220. Ottoline Goes to School--BAC ★★
221. The Cat and the Cuckoo--BAC ★★★
222. A charge to the poets--BAC ★★★★1/2
223. Faringdon Hill--BAC ★★
224. Dreaming Up America--AAC ★★
225. Loveykins--BAC ★★★★

226. Into the Forest--BAC ★★★
227. The Suitcase Kid--BAC ★★★★
228. The Mimic Men--BAC ★★1/2
229. The Mermaid's Purse--BAC ★★★1/2
230. Selected Poems 1976-1997--BAC ★★★
231. A Nip in the Air--BAC ★★★1/2
232. The Memory of Love--BAC ★★1/2
233. Poppyland--BAC ★★
234. Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words--NF challenge ★★
235. Reflections on the Revolution in France--BAC ★1/2
236. The Undiscovered Country--BAC ★★★1/2
237. Tremontaine: The Complete Season Two ★★★★★
238. James Bond: Black Box ★★
239. Beowulf ★★★★
240. The Jewel in the Crown--BAC ★★★★
241. Cranford--BAC ★★★★
242. The Girl on the Train--BAC ★★1/2
243. Salt-Water Ballads--BAC ★★★
244. Idylls of the King--BAC ★★1/2
245. Black Tudors--NF challenge ★★★
246. Fortunately, the milk--BAC ★★★★★
247. The Old Man and the Sea--AAC ★★
248. The Eyre Affair--BAC ★★★★★
249. The Fox in the Attic--BAC ★★★1/2
250. Farthing--BAC ★★★★1/2
251. Waverley--BAC ★★★1/2
252. Paul Clifford--BAC ★★★1/2
253. Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man ★★★★1/2
254. Tremontaine: The Complete Season Three ★★★★

Sep 30, 2017, 5:37pm Top

Happy new thread, Amanda!

Sep 30, 2017, 8:21pm Top

>5 FAMeulstee: Thank you!

Sep 30, 2017, 8:37pm Top

Wow, Amanda! You've had some great reads.

Sep 30, 2017, 8:38pm Top

Happy new thread, Amanda and wishing you a wonderful weekend.

63 BAC reads! Awesome!

Sep 30, 2017, 8:49pm Top

>7 bohemima: I've been pretty lucky in my reading this year.

>8 PaulCranswick: Thank you, and happy weekend to you!

Sep 30, 2017, 9:45pm Top

You've been doing some great reading! Enjoy your Halloween reads :)

Sep 30, 2017, 10:16pm Top

Oct 1, 2017, 2:51am Top

194. Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson

A decent collection of stories with a couple of gems: "Riding the Red," a Red Riding Hood-inspired story; "Snake", a chilling tale told from the POV of a child molester; the folktale "Tan-Tan and Dry Bone"; and "Precious," a very satisfying take on the fairy tale of the girl who is given the "gift" of having riches fall from her lips when she speaks.

Oct 1, 2017, 5:59pm Top

Happy new thread!

Oct 1, 2017, 6:02pm Top

Oct 1, 2017, 10:16pm Top

195. Tam O'Shanter by Robert Burns

I found it a wonderful poem...once I deciphered the dialect.

Oct 2, 2017, 3:00am Top

196. The Tragedy of Jane Shore by Nicholas Rowe

Now I know why Rowe has fallen into obscurity.

Oct 4, 2017, 5:59pm Top

197. The Tower by William Butler Yeats

Some beautiful poems, largely concerned with aging. I may appreciate it more in a few decades.

Oct 4, 2017, 8:04pm Top

>17 amanda4242: I am glad that WB Yeats didn't get a put down, Amanda. One of my absolute favourite poets.

Oct 4, 2017, 9:50pm Top

>18 PaulCranswick: I have been a bit rough on some of your favorites, haven't I?

Oct 8, 2017, 12:09am Top

198. The Tear Thief by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

199. The Gift by Carol Ann Duffy, illustrated by Rob Ryan

A pair of mediocre children's books by the current British poet laureate. The Gift is worth looking at for Rob Ryan's intricate cut paper illustrations, but the art in The Tear Thief reminds me of this puffs tissue commercial.

200. Tales from the Mabinogion by Gwyn Thomas and Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Margaret Jones

Nice intro to Welsh myths and legends, although a more detailed pronunciation guide would have been nice. Margaret Jones's illustrations are stunning, with rich earth-tones making up most of the palette.

Oct 17, 2017, 10:30pm Top

201. Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl, read by Dan Stevens

Still enjoying revisiting Dahl.

202. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett

It took me five months, but I finally got through it! I really did like it but it's best taken in small doses.

203. Mrs. Scrooge: A Christmas Poem by Carol Ann Duffy

In this vile little volume Mrs. Scrooge is an environmentally-conscious killjoy who is visited by three spirits who tell her how wonderful she is.

204. Bananas in my ears: a collection of nonsense stories, poems, riddles & rhymes by Michael Rosen

The text is alright, but it's Quentin Blake's illustrations that steal the show.

205. Tremontaine Season One

A serial novel set in Ellen Kushner's Riverside world. Written by a team of writters à la a TV series, it's a fantabulous story of intrigue, espionage, fencing, love, mathematics, and chocolate.

Edited: Oct 27, 2017, 2:12pm Top

206. Wylding Hall by Elizabeth Hand

Neat little ghost story written as interviews with a band forty years after they stayed in a haunted house. Not scary, but Hand did a good job of keeping a low level of suspense throughout.

207. The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

Dated and not terribly well written.

208. It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, read by Cecil Baldwin

Loved it! Much stronger storytelling than the first novel, and we finally get to meet the Smiling God!

209. What Know? by Ann Patchett

A commencement speech. It reads fine, but I probably would have been staring at my phone if I'd had to sit through her delivering it.

Oct 27, 2017, 2:58pm Top

210. Rain: a natural and cultural history by Cynthia Barnett

The sort of non-fiction book I generally prefer: informative, but not technical, and full of interesting tidbits. The topics are wide ranging, covering rain gods and rainmakers and the origin of the phrase "when it rains, it pours". I would have given it an extra half star except Barnett annoyed me by writing about the Los Angeles area as if it was the totality of California.

Edited: Oct 29, 2017, 4:24pm Top

211. Selected writings of the laureate dunces, Nahum Tate (laureate 1692-1715), Laurence Eusden (1718-1730), and Colley Cibber (1730-1757) edited by Peter Heaney

My quest to read something by all of the British poets laureate was almost derailed by Tate, Eusden, and Cibber. Appointed more for political than literary reasons, if these three are remembered at all these days it's as the subjects of Alexander Pope's vicious satire, The Dunciad. After making my way through this selection of their writings I can see why they're mostly forgotten.

In his introduction, Peter Heaney gives a brief account of each poet, the times in which they wrote, and a short discussion of their works. He also provides some footnotes on obscure terms, historical events relating to the poems, and the occasional judgement on quality.

The best of the lot is probably Nahum Tate. Most of the selections are panegyrics on British monarchs and, while effusive in praise, do carry a note of hopefulness that the rulers will live up to the virtues he attributes to them. Tate did show some flair with "Panacea--A Poem on Tea," which features a wonderful canto in which the Olympian goddesses are competing to be made patron goddess of tea. Also worth mentioning is the scathing "On a deform’d Old Bawd, designing to have her Picture drawn":

Thy Picture drawn, foul Beldame, Thine!
What Frenzy haunts thy Mind
And drives Thee on this Vile Design,
T’ affront all Woman-Kind?

For while thy swarthy Cankard Face
Posterity shall view,
They’ll loath the fairest of the Race,
For sharing Sex with you.

To some forlorn Church-yard repair,
And haggard thou shalt see
The fiercest Goblin will not dare
To stand the Sight of thee.

Those Ghosts that Strike with Pannick-Fear
The Breasts of stoutest Braves,
At thy Approach will disappear,
And burrough in their Graves.

Fix thy Effigies on the Shield
Of some bold Knight in Arms,
Twill aid him more to win the Field,
Than all his Lady’s Charms.

While Tate's panegyrics are fulsome, Laurence Eusden's are downright ass-kissing. He's also painfully long-winded:

An Ode for the Birthday, 1721: as it was sung before the King


When the great Julius on BRITANNIA’s Strand
First leap’d, He cry’d. Thou sweet, delightful Land!
‘Tis Caesar tells thee, He must thee command.
Brave Heroe! the pleas’d Legions shout around;
Brave Heroe! all the list’ning Clifts resound;
The Equal in no future Age shall rise;
One Caesar rules the Earth, One Jove the Skies!


Vales of Pleasure are her Vales,
Peaceful smile her silent Dales.
Smoothly flow her crystal Floods,
Verdant rise her shady Woods.
Nor ler fam’d Olympus dare
With Albion’s Mountain to compare:
Tho’, big with fabl’d Gods, he shrouds
His lofty Head amid the Clouds.


Straight from the hallow’d Grove there sprung,
Wreath’d with an acorn’d Crown of Oak,
The ruiling Druid of the Throng,
And thus the hoary Prophet spoke,
Caesar, wilt thou lend an ear?
“Thou, the boasted Pride of Rome!
“Truths ungrateful canst thou bear,
And not tremble at thy Doom?


The Soldiers, with rash Fury fir’d
No Foresight from the seer desir’d;
Not Him, as sacred Priests, rever’d,
Nor all his threaten’d Dangers fear’d;
Swift had he felt a mangled Death
For his mistim’d, prophetic Breath.
But Caesar heard the whisper’d Ruin run
Thro’ all the Cohorts, e’er the Crime was done;
And with one awful, Roman Look,
Their impious Conspiration broke,
And silent, more than speaking, spoke;
Then greatly bad the daring Bard sing on.


“Will wild Ambition know no Bound?
With heav’d-up Hands the Druid cry’d.
“Thou, Caesar, now shin’st in thy Pride;
Thy Conquests, Warrior, are renown’d:
“Enough!--wouldst thou be deify’d?
“Proud Mortal, Know!--the fatal Ides shall come,
“When thou thy self shalt bleed for bleeding Rome.


“Thou’ thy flatt’ring Minions tell thee,
None can rise, who shall excel thee;
“In revolving Years, believe me,
“(Heroe! I will not deceive thee)
“From distant German Climes shall rise
“A Heroe, more, than Julius, Wise;
“More Good, more Prais’d, more truly Great,
“Courted to sway BRITANNIA’s State:
“Such are the fix’d Decrees of Fate.
The Priest, the Bard, the Prophet then withdrew,
And to the thickest, Sylvan Covert flew.


Britons! the promis’d Blessing you behold.
So many finish’d Centuries foretold.
Caesar strove to chain Mankind;
Your gen’rous Monarch labours to unbind.
That, to himself with Joy say Altars rais’d,
This, blushes ev’n to hear his Merit prais’d.
He owns his Glories to the Pow’r Divine;
Asks but his People’s Love, and not a Shrine.

Caesar records his Fame from captive Lands,
GEORGE from rescu’d Kingdoms His demands.
EUROPE’s firm Peace is now his glorious Aim;
The Love of Peace from Heav’n derives its Flame:
Hush’d was the World, when the Messiah came.
(Yes, Eusden is really comparing the king to Jesus.)

Compared to Eusden, Colley Cibber is a breath of fresh air. His poems made me think of the average pop song: unmemorable, but inoffensive. He did show some verve in defending himself from his critics:

The LAUREAT’s Answer to the POETS

My Brother Poets all are d--n’d severe,
Because I’ve got a hundred Pounds a Year,
They rail, they write, and threaten dire Disgrace,
And each is angry he has not the Place.
But let these worthy Gentlemen consider,
As a Dramatic Poet, I’m best Bidder;
My Careless Husband I’ll transmit to Fate,
With any Comedy produc’d of late.
O! but, say they, He’s a sad Wretch at Rhime.
Why, Gentlemen! Is that so great a Crime;
If want of Jingle, I supply with Sense,
I to the Laurel have a just Pretence.

And against Pope in particular:

Mr Colley Cibber’s Epitaph on Mr Pope

OUR pious praise on tombstones runs so high,
Readers might think, that none but good men die!
If graves held only such: Pope, like his verse,
Had still been breathing, and escap’d the herse!
Tho’ fell to all men’s failings, but his own,
Yet to assert his vengeance, or renown,
None Ever reach’d such heights of Hellicon!
E’en death shall let his dust this truth enjoy,
That not his errors can his fame destroy.

Prince Henry on the Death of Hotspur:

Adieu! and take thy praise with thee to heaven!
Thy ignominy sleep with thee in the grave,
But not remember’d in thy epitaph.

He did turn out a few poems that aren't bad. The Blind Boy is too sentimental for my taste, but "On Miss M--ks and Miss H--" is pretty good:

Two lovely Nymphs desire my Song,
With rival charms they tempt and teize me;
Whether in Smiles or Frowns they long,
And while they long they still do please me.

The one, with lovely Eyes half kind,
Intreats me fondly to befriend her:
The other, with a Smile confin’s,
Silent demands me to condemn her.

To this, to that, I turn, I gaze,
Yet e’er I can resolve me, tremble;
Nor dare bestow alternate Praise,
Lest both should tell me I dissemble.

Take Courage, Heart! and both defy,
Of each alternate be the Capture;
When Praise to this gives Jealousy,
That kinder Jealousy’s thy Rapture.

When fair Bianca’s Fronwes resent,
She humbles thee to Sighs and Sadness,
But when her softer Eyes relent,
Well she repays the Pain with Gladness.

When gentler Charlotte thinks thee cold,
Or that she’s like her Locks neglected;
No longer, then she finds thee old,
But with a youthful Flame affected.

What tho’ thy Flame in neither Breast,
For thee, one Spark of Warmth inspire,
Yet, by the Muse, each Charms confest
May warm the worthy to admire.

By Nature guarded from the Harms
Which each to younger Hearts may measure:
I’m still contented, while they charm;
Be theirs the Triumph, mine the Pleasure.

Also included are a few poems by Stephen Duck, who was considered for the post before it went to Cibber. He’s like Cibber with a pastoral bent, although his The Thresher's Labour is worth reading.

Oct 29, 2017, 4:21pm Top

212. Volpone by Ben Jonson

I'm sure it works better on stage than it does on the page.

Edited: Oct 30, 2017, 3:23am Top

213. Dear Harp of My Country: The Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore by James W. Flannery

The first two-thirds of this book give enough highlights of Irish history so the reader can understand Moore's writing in context. It's a lot to take in, but it really did shed light on the verse. The melodies themselves are beautiful, passionate works of art. My favorites:

They Know Not My Heart

They know not my heart, who believe there can be
One stain of this earth in its feelings for thee;
Who think, while I see thee in beauty's young hour,
As pure as the morning's first dew on the flower,
I could harm what I love, -- as the sun's wanton ray
But smiles on the dew-drop to waste it away.

No -- beaming with light as those young features are,
There's a light round thy heart which is lovelier far:
It is not that cheek -- 'tis the soul dawning clear
Through its innocent blush makes thy beauty so dear:
As the sky we look up to, though glorious and fair,
Is look'd up to the more, because Heaven lies there!

Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms

Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
Which I gaze on so fondly to-day,
Were to change by to-morrow, and fleet in my arms,
Like fairy-gifts fading away,
Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
Let thy loveliness fade as it will,
And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
Would entwine itself verdantly still.

It is not while beauty and youth are thine own,
And thy cheeks unprofaned by a tear,
That the fervor and faith of a soul may be known,
To which time will but make thee more dear!
No, the heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look which she turned when he rose!

Edited: Oct 31, 2017, 10:34pm Top

214. The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson

In this excellent novella we follow Molly as she navigates life with a horrible condition: every time she bleeds, a murderous doppelganger is born from her blood. Thompson does an amazing job imaging what it would do to someone to have spend her life killing herself over and over again.

215. Slightly Invisible by Lauren Child

Clever picture book about a boy trying to avoid playing with his little sister and how she sneakily hijacks his game.

216. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

The trials and tribulations of Stick Man who goes out for a jog and is picked up by a dog to use in a game of fetch. Things just go downhill from there for poor Stick Man. Silly fun.

217. Jack Sweettooth by Malorie Blackman

I picked this one up because of the adorable cover and was happy to find the story lived up to it.

Nov 2, 2017, 9:30pm Top

218. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman

Great prose adaptation of one of my favorite poems.

219. The Diary of a Killer Cat by Anne Fine

Fun book about a cat who is just as smug as I know all cats (not so) secretly are.

220. Ottoline Goes to School by Chris Riddell

Full of that cutesy quirkiness I loathe.

221. The Cat and the Cuckoo by Ted Hughes, illustrated by Flora McDonnell

I wasn't much taken by it, but this collection of poems about animals would probably be great for very young readers.

One I liked:


I am the Pig.

I saw in my sleep
A dreadful egg.

What a thing to have seen!
And what can it mean

That the Sun's red eye
Which seems to fry
In the dawn sky
So frightens me?

Why should that be?
The meaning is deep.

Upward at these
Hard mysteries

A humble hog
I gape agog.

Nov 3, 2017, 12:39am Top

>21 amanda4242: "Vile little volume" - classic Amanda!

I also see there that you got through and enjoyed Smollett; well done, you.

Nov 3, 2017, 2:45pm Top

>29 PaulCranswick: It was bad enough to make me swear off Duffy.

Smollett, though slow going, actually turned out to be quite fun. I'm going to have read him again sometime.

Nov 3, 2017, 6:51pm Top

A Charge to the Poets by William Whitehead

A long poem full of good advice to poets, including the way older than we thought "don't feed the trolls" rule.

Nov 3, 2017, 10:42pm Top

223. Faringdon Hill by Henry James Pye

I'm torn on whether to sum this one up as pastoral patriotism or patriotic pastoral-ism.

Nov 5, 2017, 12:06am Top


There is a reason those forgotten poets got forgotten,
Not because they were great, because they were rotten
Their eloquence with words
Now seems a trifle absurd
To foist them upon you is probably not quite spot on.

Have a lovely Sunday, Amanda.

Nov 5, 2017, 1:06pm Top

Edited: Nov 30, 2017, 11:07pm Top

224. Dreaming Up America by Russell Banks

Sweeping generalizations and gross oversimplifications of American history. I hope he's a better novelist than he is a historian.

225. Loveykins by Quentin Blake

The story seems to exist just to hang the illustrations on, but the illustrations are by Blake, so who cares?

226. Into the Forest by Anthony Browne

Neat illustrations but not good enough to make me look past the so-so story.

227. The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson

Very good book about a girl who goes from being an only child in one house to having five step-siblings in two houses when her parents get divorced. I love that Wilson gives an upbeat, but realistic ending.

Nov 7, 2017, 2:02pm Top

Congratulations on reaching 3 x 75, Amanda!

Nov 7, 2017, 2:06pm Top


Nov 7, 2017, 6:33pm Top

Congratulations on 3x75, Amanda.

By my reckoning 82 of those books were for the British Author Challenge. You are awesome!

Nov 7, 2017, 6:36pm Top


Edited: Nov 7, 2017, 11:16pm Top

228. The Mimic Men by V.S. Naipaul

Would have made a great satire if it didn't take itself so seriously.

229. The Mermaid's Purse by Ted Hughes

Another fair collection of poems for children.

Nov 8, 2017, 3:12am Top

230. Selected Poems 1976-1997 by Andrew Motion

Pretty good, but just didn't do much for me.

Nov 8, 2017, 4:44am Top

>41 amanda4242: Motion is a funny poet for me. Technically adroit but somehow leaves me very cold. Seems to be an absence of real feeling there.

Nov 8, 2017, 2:11pm Top

>42 PaulCranswick: Most of the poems did seem kind of emotionally detached.

Nov 8, 2017, 5:23pm Top

231. A Nip in the Air by John Betjeman

Doesn't inspire great passion, but easy to enjoy and admire.

Nov 12, 2017, 2:29am Top

232. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

It picked up significantly in the second half, but I had to be bored for 200-odd pages to get to that point.

Nov 12, 2017, 10:53am Top

>44 amanda4242: Betjeman was "light" compared to some of his far more serious contemporaries but I always enjoyed reading and declaiming his verse.

Have a lovely weekend.

Nov 12, 2017, 8:38pm Top

>46 PaulCranswick: Despite its "lightness," I think his verse has aged better than that of many of his contemporaries.

Enjoy your...well, it's Monday for you, isn't it? Happy Monday!

Nov 12, 2017, 9:20pm Top

>47 amanda4242: I will agree with that too Amanda. There is a lovely suburban flow to his writing that, as an Englishman of a certain age, being able to identify with some of the small world minutiae that he lovingly highlights, it is all the more poignant and convincing.

Nov 12, 2017, 10:39pm Top

>48 PaulCranswick: the small world minutiae that he lovingly highlights

Yes, there is a beauty in that which is often undervalued.

Edited: Nov 12, 2017, 10:39pm Top

233. Poppyland by Raffaella Barker

Once you brush aside the literary aspirations it's really just boring chick-lit.

Nov 15, 2017, 9:40pm Top

234. Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe

I was disappointed by this one. The conceit of the book is a couple of dozen things are explained using only 1,000 commonly used words* in an attempt to make difficult things easier to understand; however, for the most part I was left even more confused by the "simple" explanation than I would have been by a technical answer. There were a few things where Munroe managed to do well (the entry on the US constitution is actually pretty damn good), but for things like cells, car engines, and the Large Hadron Collider the explanations were so dumbed down I had trouble even identifying the topic.

*or a "hundred hundred" since "thousand" didn't make the list of approved words

Nov 15, 2017, 9:56pm Top

235. Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke

Ugh. I waded through all 300-odd pages of this and all I managed to take away was that Burke believed the foundation of a strong government was a hereditary monarchy and a (Christian) church working in conjunction with the state. Oh, and he didn't like Jews.

Nov 23, 2017, 7:19am Top

This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.

I am thankful that you are part of this group.

I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.

Nov 23, 2017, 1:12pm Top

>53 PaulCranswick: I am thankful for you, too, my friend.

Nov 28, 2017, 1:20pm Top

236. The Undiscovered Country by Julian Mitchell

An odd book. The first half is reminiscent of Brideshead Revisited, but the second half goes off in a really strange direction that I can only compare to Joe Orton's Head to Toe. I liked it, but it's a weird one.

237. Tremontaine: The Complete Season Two

Somehow, even better than the first season.

238. James Bond: Black Box by Benjamin Percy

Humdrum Bond graphic novel. Nothing awful, but nothing to make it stand out.

239. Beowulf translated by Stephen Mitchell

Stunning translation. Far superior to Seamus Heaney's, in my not so humble opinion.

240. The Jewel in the Crown by Paul Scott

A rich, immersive experience. I will definitely be re-reading this one.

Nov 29, 2017, 3:27am Top

241. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

Lovely little book.

Nov 30, 2017, 1:30am Top

242. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This is the book everyone was going gaga over? It's not awful, but it requires zero effort from the reader.

Two thoughts I had while reading it: 1) why did Hawkins have to make all of her characters unlikable and boring? 2) Hitchcock was so much better at this.

Dec 1, 2017, 2:15pm Top

243. Salt-Water Ballads by John Masefield

Nothing very memorable, but it wasn't awful.

Dec 8, 2017, 3:21am Top

244. Idylls of the King by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Okay, it wasn't *that* bad. It's just so...Victorian.

Dec 9, 2017, 1:04am Top

>244 You deserve a big hug for suffering and struggling through that one!

You may have guessed by the tagline "Queen of the BAC" who sent you your Christmas swap books.xx

Have a great weekend.

Dec 9, 2017, 2:12am Top

>60 PaulCranswick: I had a feeling it was you when I saw I had been gifted with one of next year's BAC titles. Thank you so much for the wonderful selections!

Enjoy your weekend. I'll be spending mine with the Pythons in an attempt to purge Tennyson.

Dec 9, 2017, 5:32am Top

If you've only got two so far then there are more coming. xx

Dec 9, 2017, 1:01pm Top


Dec 12, 2017, 2:11am Top

245. Black Tudors by Miranda Kaufmann

This book is insanely well-researched. The notes and bibliography run about a hundred pages--and it's only a selected bibliography! Unfortunately, despite all of the research Kaufmann did, there just isn't a lot of detailed information on the lives of Black Tudors so there's a lot of speculation and digressions going on to pad out the page count. It's worth picking up for its information on a little-known topic, but it's not a very engaging read.

Dec 12, 2017, 7:39pm Top

246. Fortunately, the milk by Neil Gaiman, read by the author

Wonderful book made even better by brilliant narration.

Edited: Dec 13, 2017, 1:51am Top

247. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I don't like it any more now than I did when I had to read it in 7th grade. It's pretty much all the things I dislike about Hemingway contained in one (mercifully short) volume.

Dec 13, 2017, 7:44am Top

>63 amanda4242: I heard a whisper that Santa Clause has been knocking on my pal's door.

Dec 13, 2017, 2:07pm Top

>67 PaulCranswick: Santa's a helluva guy.

Dec 16, 2017, 2:20am Top

248. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

A re-read of an old favorite. I love all of the literary allusions and wordplay.

Dec 18, 2017, 7:58pm Top

249. The Fox in the Attic by Richard Hughes

The first section had me expecting a nostalgic English countryside novel, but the second section did a complete 180 and dropped me into Munich for a detailed account of the Beer Hall Putsch. I really enjoyed this one, but I think I suffered some minor whiplash from the change in tone.

250. Farthing by Jo Walton

Yes, it really does live up to all the praise.

Dec 23, 2017, 7:46pm Top

251. Waverley by Walter Scott

A slow starter, and the style takes a bit of getting used to, but it turned into a very enjoyable read.

Dec 24, 2017, 8:46pm Top

Dec 24, 2017, 9:21pm Top

Wishing you all good things this holiday season and beyond, my BAC Queen.

Dec 24, 2017, 9:51pm Top

It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:

Dec 26, 2017, 1:25pm Top

>72 rretzler: Thank you! Happy holidays!

>73 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul! I have one more book to go and I'll have conquered this year's BAC.

>74 ronincats: Thank you for your kind wishes. Happy holidays!

Dec 28, 2017, 1:27pm Top

252. Paul Clifford by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Much better than its reputation. The language is a little florid, but it's no worse than many other works of its age. It's not as sharp as Swift or as raucous as Fielding, but it's an entertaining tale told with gusto.

This is the second book I've read beginning with "It was a dark and stormy night" and I must say it is my favorite of the two. Of course the other is A Wrinkle in Time, so the competition wasn't stiff.

Dec 31, 2017, 8:18pm Top

Dec 31, 2017, 10:38pm Top

>77 rretzler: Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2017, 10:45pm Top

I managed to finish off two books today, bringing my total up to 254 books this year.

253. Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man by Siegfried Sassoon

The sequel is on the 2018 BAC list so I thought I should read this one first. Fox hunting is something I find as incomprehensible as cricket, the other activity George Sherston enjoys, but I can appreciate the nostalgia, especially as the book ends with Sherston in the trenches and all of his friends dying horribly.

254. Tremontaine: The Complete Season Three

Dec 31, 2017, 11:32pm Top

End of year summary

books read:
132 new reads
22 re-reads
total: 254

N/A (multiple authors, unknown, etc.)--22

translated books: 12

sex of authors read:
male: 130 books by 104 different authors
female: 103 books by 75 different authors
N/A (multiple authors, unknown, etc.): 21 books

BAC books:
January: 2
February: 4
March: 20
April: 3
May: 10
June: 2
July: 2
August: 3
September: 17
October: 5
November: 27 (plus a number of poems)
December: 7
total: 102

AAC books:
January: 3
February: 1
March: 1
April: 1
May: 1
June: 1
July: 1
August: 2
September: 2
October: 1
November: 1
December: 1
total: 16

NF challenge:
Prizewinners: 1
Voyages of Exploration: 3
Heroes and Villains: 1
Hobbies, Pastimes and Passions: 3
History: 2
The Natural World: 2
Creators and Creativity: 1
"I've always been curious about...": 1
Gods, Demons, and Spirits: 1
Current Affairs: 1
Science and Technology: 1
Out of Your Comfort Zone/Book Bullets/ Published in 2017: 1
total: 18

1001 books to read before you die (all editions): 14

group reads:
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
total: 3

Some favorites (in no particular order):
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Strata by Terry Pratchett
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
What Makes This Book So Great by Jo Walton
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix
Penric & Desdemona series by Lois McMaster Bujold
Tremontaine Season One & Tremontaine Season Two
The People's Act of Love by James Meek
Yvain: The Knight of the Lion by M. T. Anderson
Longbourne by Jo Baker

Some...not favorites:
A Bouquet of Barbed Wire by Andrea Newman
Judge Savage by Tim Parks
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
A Wind in the Door by Madeleine L'Engle
Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke
Haweswater by Sarah Hall
Poppyland by Raffaella Barker

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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