Ruth's long and short list
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Let us begin.
I'm on furlough, so you'd think I'm getting a lot of reading done. You'd be wrong.
I am in the middle of several good books. But mostly, I'm trying to de-junk my house. My hoarding has gotten away from me. At my age, I'm beginning to re-evaluate the reason for much of the stuff, but so far, I'm still enjoying most of it.
My continuing list of book discards is HERE.
>2 harrygbutler: Cute!
And glad to have my small group of like-minded readers along for the ride.
Started with The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter - 1. I'd read a short story of the Athena Club and thoroughly enjoyed it. Goss has some problems with the novel form. The first half was full of action and cute asides; but then the history of the characters was just revealed in boring synopsis. Since this will be a series, she'd have done much better to have saved it for another day.
Listened to A Closed and Common Orbit - 2 and caught more nuance second time around.
Tossing back Crazy Rich Asians. No literary merit, better to catch the film someday.
>5 2wonderY: I enjoy small groups such as in this thread, and TBSL.
Before discarding it, I sped-read The Secrets of Intercessory Prayer - 3. I have several others on the same topic that have much more substance than this one. I'm not even adding it to my library. But I would rate it 1+1/2 stars.
Since I'm reading so little, I'll count even the minor stuff, just to move things along.
Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas - 4. Drawn in by the wonderful cover and then charmed by the understated details. Puddle busied self around the homestead (Woodcock Pocket, outside of Boston) while Toot overcomes obstacles to arrive as promised, lastly getting a lift from an old gentleman in a sledge.
Between Husbands & Wives - 5. A small anthology done by Peter Pauper Press. Not much substance.
And then I finally picked up a book sent to me by SylviaC several years ago. Kate Hardy - 6, and wondered what had taken me so long. The characters reminded me of the Green family in Green Money. A very nice visit.
Sorting the childrens book shelf this morning, I discovered I own but hadn't read the original Toot and Puddle - 7. I like it better than the Christmas story. Toot travels the world while Puddle keeps all the joys of home alive. The best page is the winter maple woods drawing. Man! You can sink right into the picture and be there.
Toot's adventures are sometimes over the top. (roasting marshmallows with the penguins)
My favorite Toot page is his face-to-face with a huge mountain goat with the Alps lovingly depicted. Hobbie doesn't skimp just because it's for children.
Also want to mention I watched Walt Before Mickey. For a film about a filmmaker, it sucked. It was painful to watch.
Ha! I'm reading while I'm sorting and can dispose of two more.
I've had Jesus Among Other Gods - 8 on my shelf for a decade. I think I was intimidated, not knowing much about the author, Ravi Zacharias. He is an apologist. (technical term) He writes conversationally, but densely. He brings in personal anecdotes that are interesting perhaps 50 percent of the time.
I liked best his assertion that we live in an "ontologically haunted universe," and that "There is intelligibility running through our veins, and from that we cannot run." In other words, arguing that the universe came into being from nothing and holds no inherent meaning is nonsense.
The other book freshly finished is Tell Me Again About Snow White - 9. A quiet but odd duck. It's a coming of age/romance written in the early 60s with a female protagonist; written by a man. Laurie is a high school senior wrestling with what to study in college and suffering from low self-esteem. Her group of friends practice nonsense conversation. It's witty, but doesn't move character development along very well. Remember transistor radios? Car coats? The book does end with a laugh though, if you can catch the oblique cultural reference.
>10 2wonderY: I used to listen to Ravi Zacharias, and loved his way of pointing out absurdities.
Well, then, I may have to look for him on audio. That seems to be my main way to read nowadays.
Okay, I might not take a full credit for picture books. I'll just throw in a digit now and then.
Sorting my shelves, I revisited these two and confirmed they should stay.
My Friend Mac. Baptiste lives in the deep woods with his parents. When a moose foal follows him back to the cabin, Baptiste names him Mac. Mac stays several seasons, with the problems you might imagine. When Mac hears others of his kind, Baptiste is left lonely again... until a school is built, and he meets Jack McGregor, another Mac.
Our Tree Named Steve. The baby can't pronounce the word tree, so the huge yard tree becomes 'Steve' and is integral to the lives of this family throughout the decades.
Did you have a focus tree in your family? Growing up, it was the umbrella-like buckeye tree in our front yard. It was so dense, we could play under it while it rained.
With my own family, it was a scrub apple tree in the back yard, where we always sat, ate, entertained, swung, and took pictures.
The Boy Who Played with Fusion - 11. Wow! Childhood biography of science genius, Taylor Wilson. He was building a particle accelerator at 11; and achieved nuclear fusion at 16. And energy harnessed from rolls of scotch tape.
Clynes pads the book with tons of science and child development psychology. The man has an agenda.
>16 2wonderY: Is he the boy that was building some sort of device in his parents garage amd the FBI or some other agency came to hom and said, "yeah, no. not gonna happen."
There was another young man who had a less stellar trajectory, mentioned for contrast. Wilson seems to have had fairly adequate sponsorship and mentoring.
In all this spare time I have, I came across a file of clippings concerning books I'd like to examine. While tossing the papers, I got on the library catalog and ordered some. Ahem. I had to make two trips out to the car yesterday picking them up.
Many are mostly photographs. I'm not reading all of the text, so will count them only partially.
Snowmen, by Peter Cole (probably #9) is sort of a recipe book. He lives in San Francisco, so probably vacations in Colorado. He has enough snow to make whales, dinosaurs and roomscapes. The last few pages are food themed. Amusing. A few old b&w photos.
Vintage Tea Party - 12 is also a recipes book. Lovely photos of food, tablescapes, and a dozen of the English countryside.
I feel like I accomplished something by reading through another physical book.
Out of Time - 13, by Lynn Abbey, had multiple pluses on my personal checklist. Older female protagonist, librarian, some nice, thoughtful phrasing, fantasy. The plot itself, and the resolution, are weak. What kept me going was Abbey's genius at the telling detail. Occasionally, her choices made the scene ring the reality bell:
"He swung the sword; the sound of a steel wind, though Emma had never heard it before, was unmistakable."
Reading synopses of the next books, the plots appear even weaker; and the most intriguing character, Matt, doesn't get much space. So I may not pursue the series. I haven't decided yet.
From the library stacks, two interior design books, one credit - 14.
Classic Country, by Kathryn M. Ireland has an attractive cover. But the interiors are fairly pedestrian and serve to illustrate her fabric design business. The one outstanding room this book shares with the next one is Ireland's stone cowshed near Tounis, France. It appears to have been visited and raved over by many decorators. I'm frankly disgustingly jealous. It's a dining pavilion with open arches on either end, displaying the gorgeous French countryside.
Judith Miller includes it in her Influential Country Styles, which is a much more substantial book than Ireland's. Of course, Judith Miller always does things up perfectly. Is she a real person, or a corporation? Much like Martha Stewart, but less pushy.
I've read some of Lynn Abbey's short works in anthologies, but never read any of her full-length novels.
After falling hard for this book, I spent some time this morning organizing the short series it belongs in.
Garden Tools - 15 celebrates the collection of Guillaume Pellerin, who is listed as a co-author. He owns the Chateau de Vauville, in northern France, with a 10 acre garden. He's been collecting tools for decades, with a cut-off of the 1950s. Broken into 8 chapters, there is a page or two of text and then marvelous pictures of tools, advertisements, some garden photos and historical engravings and paintings. Informative and very, very well done.
Did you know that table grapes were picked and kept fresh for months in racks of jars?
>22 2wonderY: I'd have to go back and see what she wrote in the anthologies. It's been years.
If she'd been a WOW author I probably would have looked up her other works.
Enjoyed the audio Twain's Humor - 16. I couldn't tell you about the edition or the narrator, but I count 23 stories. A few don't survive well, but some seem prescient, particularly a story about an advertising jingo that he merely read. My favorites were his struggles with tradespeople and physical objects. 'Political Economy' is one of the former, and 'My Watch' is of the latter. His watch suffered many repairs and he suffered a multitude of time errancies, even falling ahead to November.
I won't take credit for Trash Revolution, as I merely thumbed through it. But I do criticize it for offering too many odd facts, and then not exploring them in any meaningful way. For instance: "In New Zealand, 90% of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by methane from sheep."
Another I didn't actually read, but spent some time savoring the photos - The Most Beautiful Villages of Ireland. I've never travelled and don't even have a passport. But this is one I'd like to visit. But on my own, on foot or bike. It's the solitude and quiet these landscapes evoke. Timeless and yet plenty of time.
Realistically, I know most places would be thronging with tourists.
One question I continue to have. I know the camera is selective, but I see almost no evidence of electrical infrastructure and advertisments, a couple of the things that makes the US so unsightly.
>26 2wonderY: the lack of ugliness in the pictures might be due to "selective" angles of the photos, or photoshop?
Gosh, I would hope the photos were not photoshopped. That turns the book into fiction and that would be too sad.
I'm nearly finished with The Great Courses: The Aging Brain - 17. It's only mildly interesting. I totally skipped the chapter where the author made up this elaborate scenario with odd rhyming things in each room of a house in order to remember a seven digit number string.
Finally got back to reading a tattered tome. The Way of a Woman - 18 is entirely obscure. I'm the only owner of it on LT. It came out of husband's grandmother's house. It's a romance with a bit of mystery to it. The mystery is never explained, but that's alright. I enjoyed the characters enough to spend the time with them. I've never met the likes of some of the minor characters. For instance, a woman called The Duchess has rooms above a shop. She invites her fox hunt crowd to dine with her before a ball, and then insists some of the ladies stay the night afterwards in her attic and on the floor. She yells out her windows to people she knows on the street. All these landed gentry go along as if this isn't odd. I love that.
I'm almost finished with Lies Sleeping - 19. I may have to listen to it twice, just because the next book isn't out yet.
I tossed Elizabeth Bear's Hammered after a few chapters. Didn't like the character.
Same with The Vintage Teacup Club, which had a very nice first page and then devolved into stock wooden characters. Please! Does every male have to have stubble on his face?
Penric and the Shaman - 20. I do like Penric and his narrator. The other characters need more strength and focus.
Heir Apparent - 21, by Vivian Vande Velde. The review blurb on the cover promises "Hilarious." I gave it enough of a chance that I was invested in finishing it. I would call it mediocre.
Goodnight from London - 22 is historical fiction with a romance angle. But the history is most prominent; is well done and affecting. Recommended.
From the library, House Beautiful Weekend Homes. The interiors were much less interesting than the exteriors. Both the yards and the wider landscapes are lust provoking.
Oh, and the best line from Lies Sleeping, in Kobna Holdbrook-Smith's most precise inflections:
"It’s tedious stuff, but it all goes into the great mill of HOLMES-2; the better to grind the flour of Truth and produce the wholesome bread of Justice."
Following a lead in picture books like Shortcut and The Ark, I borrowed Oops by Arthur Geisert. It's a wordless book, and you have to look closely at the pictures to gather the storyline. Usually I thoroughly enjoy this kind of exercise. This one left me feeling cheated. Macaulay's circumstances are improbable; Geisert's are painfully stupid. None of the chain of events made enough sense, especially to children who wouldn't even be able to identify what the items involved are. As an adult, I had a hard time with it. And the pig family are not appealing. And the utter destruction should have been traumatic, but the pigs remain calm and smiling all the way to the end. Not impressed.
Left over from my Christmas borrowing, The Christmas Crèche - 23 was worth poring over the pictures and reading all of the text. The book is from 1997, and does a good job of recounting the history of Nativity scenes from all the way back, and throughout the world. Starts with paintings, moves into classic Neapolitan-style collections and then a sampling of modern sets. I learned a lot of detail.
I’ve tracked you down and will be interested in following your reading this year. (I keep track of mine on the 75 books challenge thread).
My husband and I have accumulated enough stuff over the years to almost be considered hoarders, although it still is contained (mostly) within closets. I got him to get rid of his 20-year collection of Astronomy magazine several years ago, and got rid of my 15-year collection of Gourmet magazine about the same time. I can't get rid of too much until daughter goes through it, though, and she's busy at college. When she does come home for a visit we spend time doing other things. Great excuse, eh?
>10 2wonderY: I know I had a Toot and Puddle book here when my daughter was little – must have given it to the cousins. Drat. I’d like to look at it again.
My favorite Christmas present when I was 10 was my transistor radio, tuned to 98 KFWB in Los Angeles. My car coat was blue. *smile*
>35 karenmarie: Welcome!
"I can't get rid of too much until daughter goes through it, though, and she's busy at college."
Yeah, I'm still trying to pass on stuff to my kids and will start with the grandkids soon. (Grandson just turned 18!) They don't want it!
I don't read Gourmet magazine, but I am attached to the cover with four chefs crossing Abbey Road.
My car coat was dun.
Spending some time with my tattered tomes.
Miss Lulu Bett - 24 was a popular book in it's time. It was made into a play and a silent film. The theme is the awakening of a meek spinster. It is unlike most fiction of the time. The story is told in vignettes, one per month from April to September. The structure breaks down at the end of the book, making it more conventional. But character exposition is heavily reliant on authorial commentary rather than by the rule of "show it." Gale explores different ways to describe character development. I'll post some quotes on the work page for illustration.
I gather the various versions each had different endings. I like the one in the book.
I read The True Meaning of Smekday in 2008 on the recommendation of a fellow book club member. I remember really liking it but never wanting to read anything else by Rex.
A WW2 story about a hero dog ... I've tried it twice now and the writing is not to my taste, so I'm abandoning Judy: The Unforgettable Story of the Dog Who Went to War and Became a True Hero. Others may enjoy it though.
I turned to the DVD last evening and enjoyed two films.
The documentary Marwencol was fascinating.
Light entertainment in Ant-Man and the Wasp. Would love the portable buildings.
A stinker too - Dear God. It was so clichéd that even Tim Conway couldn't save it.
He added so much detail that couldn't have been documented that it was impossible to discern where fiction met fact. For instance, the first chapter is a story about Judy escaping from the kennel in Shanghai and her several weeks adventures before her kennel caretaker happens upon her in the street.
Lois McMaster Bujold is an author I will return to always. I just listened to Proto Zoa - 27, which collects 5 of her early stories. I have read the last two stories in other collections; Dreamweaver's Dilemma is a stand alone, but still generally placed in the Vorkosigan universe. Aftermaths is also set there, but is clearly placed in time and place, just after the '120 Days War.' Sometimes Bujold's short stories are strikingly powerful. This last one is in that group.
Watched films this weekend.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was a pleasant revisit of a great location and interesting characters. It is inferior to the first, as Sonny was required to be unforgivably rude to a customer. Richard Gere was a good on the eyes addition, and the dance numbers for the wedding events were especially nice.
On Netflix, I watched Dumplin'. I'd rate it middling. I liked the growing friendships among the girls, and Willowdean's sincere body image confusion. Good and brave address of overweight females.
Mark Kurlansky has been on my get-to-it list for some time. So I started with Cod - 28. It did go on for longer than I wanted, but I was glad I stayed with it, as I thought the modern issues were the most interesting. The three Cod Wars of the 20th century and then fisherman and their devotion to the life. (I won't cheapen it by calling it a lifestyle.)
I recently researched Grover Gardner and cleaned his author page some. Having run out of Bujold titles, I thought I might try to expand, reasoning that Gardner would always choose wisely.
Very happy with the first in the Andy Carpenter mystery series, Open and Shut - 29. Typically not my genre of choice, but I like the characters and the wit.
I think I ordered these a couple of months ago, because both are Christmas themed. Enjoyed them both this weekend.
A Town Divided by Christmas -30. Huh! Orson Scott Card writes a romance! He got a couple of details wrong, but overall, it's an attractive story.
Winter Solstice - 31 is also essentially a romance. But it's got lots of substance and a good mix of characters. Three generations of romance and some awfully nice neighbors as well. Enjoyed the time in this northern Scot small town. Especially liked the parson's wife, Tabitha.
Oh! Oh! I do remember one of Card's defects in A Town Divided by Christmas, and it's a doozy. His take on the commitment of marriage deals only with the intention in the present. Nothing to expand on love as an active verb, or marriage vows as covenant. He also mischaracterized a doctrine of the Catholic Church.
Abandoning The Women in the Castle. Will take a half credit for it later.
I'm nearly done with The Fifth Risk - 32. I will be looking for more of Michael Lewis' work. It's kind of billed as political, but it's more political education. He talks about the functions of a handful of federal agencies, and introduces them by telling the fascinating stories of some of the leading bureaucrats. Good inside examinations of missions. I particularly appreciate his understanding of my own little bit of turf - USDA Rural Development.
Just a bit of indulgent luxury, I went on to the second of the Fernald family trilogy, Under the Christmas Stars - 33. It takes less than an hour to read, but the character sketching is so deft and the story is heartwarming. I will read the third as well, before tucking them back in. I see that someone has added a title to Richmond's page that I hadn't known about - The Forgotten Christmas Dinner. Must look for it!
Nearly done with another short piece, Penric's Fox - 34. I'm disappointed. The story of the fox is mostly third hand. This doesn't move the series along, as far as I can see.
You're really racking up the reads, Ruth! (how's that for alliteration?)
>46 2wonderY: I agree with you about The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
>50 2wonderY: I read Women in the Castle last year. I wasn't particularly fond of it -- not my prefered genre.
>55 lesmel: I was told I should keep reading. But character connection is usually paramount for me; and there was none.
Had to finish up the Fernald trilogy. I realized I had them in the wrong order, and fixed the series page. On Christmas Day in the Evening - 35 is actually the second book. It was lovely, but left one worrisome thread loose which was never resolved.
I bought some Vorkosigan books and wallowed in luxury, reading The Warrior's Apprentice - 36 in hardback.
Yes. these are mostly re-visits. I like Bujold's attempt here. She consciously structured the plot to mimic The Sorceror's Apprentice, as Disney illustrated it with Mickey. (I'm not sure where the original story came from.) Miles' acts making his world spiral out of his control.
Huh. Inga Moore illustrates a version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Nearing the end of the audio, so I'd better mark it down here. The View from the Cheap Seats - 37, read by the author. Entertaining and thoughtful.
Well, I'll be! I hadn't taken a close look at the table of contents or the time and parts count. I just assumed a normal length to the book. I've renewed it once already and I'm only on the 4th part of 13 parts. I am abandoning it as my primary read, but because of the multitude of short pieces, I'll use the book as fill-in for the next few weeks. Unfortunately (or not, depending on your perspective), Gaiman writes enthusiastically about other authors and is expanding my wishlist.
In December, I read Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Goose, and rather than wait till another Christmas season, ordered the sequel, Lady Osbaldestone And The Missing Christmas Carols -38, which I found just as pleasing. the Lady Osbaldestone has seasonally retired to her dower home and her small grandchildren had so much fun last year that they insist on returning. Their 15 year old cousin joins them. Melissa's adolescence is recognizable, and Lady Therese does her gentle leading magic. She is such a good observer of people and their foibles, and enjoys a mild improving meddle. The mystery is cunningly solved and all live happily ever after. It was a good visit.
Library on Wheels - 39 is about a pioneering female librarian. Hired by Washington County, Maryland when they opened their first library in Hagerstown, Mary Lemist Titcomb was dedicated to bringing books to all the outlying citizens as well. She designed and equipped a library wagon which travelled to the ends of the large county. She established book boxes, much like the Little Free Libraries of today, placed in grade schools, commercial sites, mills and factories and even private homes for those farm families. She held story hours by the side of the road. When the horse drawn wagon was destroyed on the railroad tracks (no horse or driver were injured!), she found a sponsor to replace it with a motor truck.
Washington County still operates a bookmobile. Photos from every decade are shared.
Cross referencing, I've begun a posting thread at The Green Dragon pub, for my Science fiction/fantasy reads.
Oh, and need to mention that I watched the first season of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. I can recommend it unless you have no tolerance for violence. Some of the deaths are bad. One is unhappily memorably bad.
>62 2wonderY: I'm mid-watch with The Umbrella Academy. I'm not sure I like it or not. Also, it's sort of obvious (I'm still mostly guessing) who destroys the world in Number Five's future.
>64 lesmel: Actually, upon reflection, you're right about the ease guessing who is the destroyer. And daughter points out that the relationship between Allison and Lucas doesn't pull the plot along, but is given lots of time.
I was most intrigued by Klaus. In later chapters, you discover why he escapes in alcohol and drugs. And Ben's story hasn't been explored. Those two siblings and their constancy to each other are my favorite parts.
Spent time with nearly 9 month old granddaughter this weekend. I brought a book inside to share with my daughter, and Theia's eyes lit right up. She loves books! So I immediately went to the shelf and found a board book for her. She crowed and played with it, trying to turn pages and tell me a story.
>65 2wonderY: I love Klaus & I am desperate to know what happened with Ben. I am guessing Klaus picked up a drug habit to kill the endless ghost voices/visitors. I will probably binge watch over the weekend.
rainpebble has been reading lots of Betty Neels, so I thought I'd try one. Nice, old-fashioned, but modern romance. A light diversion. An Ordinary Girl - 41. And in the large print package, another short work, A Perfect Proposal - 42, by Liz Fielding.
On audio, Record of a Spaceborn Few - 43. I tried it in print, but was getting frustrated with the numerous unrelated characters and scenes. The structure is much different from the first two books, and suffers accordingly. Chambers excels in cozy small group dynamics. The status of the human Exofleet is center stage here. It did have a satisfactory ending.
Probably tossing That Inevitable Victorian Thing. Was attracted to the enormously pretty cover. But the characters do not engage me. Well, Helena and August might, if I kept going.
In my copy of the paperback Young Miles, I had started reading The Vor Game - 44, but was relieved when the hardback Vorkosigan's Game arrived, so I could switch and save my eyes on the larger print and pages.
I had forgotten that this is a dumbbell shaped story, Kyril Island, then ImpSec HQ, then the Hegen Hub. Miles spends an inordinate amount of time beaten and imprisoned.
I persisted through Over Sea, Under Stone - 45, though it made me grouchy. The lads at the Pub encouraged me to forge on with the promise that the next book is better. I was only satisfied when Great Uncle Merry was in scene; though annoyed at how vague he is to the children and how easily he is sent on a wild goose chase. The story is too pat.
The Hollow Hills. Tried it on audio. It is too somber and pedantic for me. Not nearly the gem I remember from decades ago. Switching to The Sword in the Stone.
Was attracted by the concept - Bookish Boyfriends: A Date With Darcy; but it is awful! Not only inane adolescent maunderings; the narrator makes all the male characters sound sickly and whiny.
I recall loving The Sword in the Stone, which I read as a young teen. There were some elements that went over my head but for the most part it was great at age 14 or so. After reading another TH White last year, Mistress Masham's Repose, I think I would enjoy a reread of the Arthurian books by this author.
Yes, I'm looking forward to it. Seems I still read a lot of new stuff, but I'm less able to tolerate mediocrity and happier re-visiting old friends. Cranky old age. Did I announce on this site that I got my Medicare card? Whoo-hoo.
VERY lazy weekend. And I felt not one jot of guilt. I suffered through a root canal Friday. It was my first experience with Valium; which my regular dentist recommended, as my chair anxiety is steepening. It helped a lot. But I had no idea how incapacitated it would make me. Had to call a friend to come and drive me home.
When I wasn't sleeping, I was cozy with Vorkosigan's Game, finishing off Borders of Infinity - 46. Powerful stories.
I'm in the middle of several books, which slows down the completion speed.
So I'll take a point for a neat children's picture book.When Spring Comes to the DMZ - 47 was first published in 2010, and has just now been translated to English. In it's simplicity, it covers a lot of ground. Not only the cultural longing of Korean society for re-unification; it describes an ecosystem that uniquely offers protection to some endangered species.
Barbara Hambly is on my short list of favorite authors, but I don't like everything she's written. So I approached Stranger at the Wedding - 48 neutrally. I liked the evolution of attraction between Kyra and Spenson. The final battle was well done, and the exposition of Tibbeth of Hale went well. Still, it was a longish book; and I never made connections enough to have more than a modest appreciation. This will go on my discard pile.
I've been wanting to read about the Women's Land Army, but The Victory Garden - 49 disappointed. The effort seemed amateurish in plot and character, and especially in conveying emotion. I'd even dismiss it as a paper doll story.
I've been fighting a bad case of influenza this week - it has evolved into a sinus infection, and I'm still struggling with medications regulation. So my head has been fuzzy and attention is short.
Experimented with a couple of light-hearted poetry books. I Could Pee on This and Gone Camping - 50. The former is poetry by cats. I guess I don't appreciate cats. The latter was more cogent, if a bit tame. It did bring memories of my own family's camping adventures.
OMG, I feel as if I should get credit for two books. Spinning Silver - 51 went on forever! I’ve read and enjoyed Novik before, but this was over the top involved and convoluted. Sheesh. Maybe it’s the meds I’m taking...
>80 2wonderY: Her first one in that series kinda turned me off from reading anything else in the series. And that's sad b/c I loved the Temeraire books (though I did struggle with liking the captain through the first book).
ETA: Ok. Technically, it's not a series. They are stand alone...but they are riffs on fairy tales, so I see them as a series. lol
>81 lesmel: I wonder if Uprooted qualifies as a fairytale riff? It felt like it, but it was unfamiliar to me. I thought that one had much more depth and sympathy than Spinning silver. And I love the Temeraire books. I thought the man/dragon bond was lovely right from the start.
Meanwhile, I've been alternately print reading and listening to Cetaganda - 52 and Brothers in Arms - 53. Cetaganda is my least favorite of the Vorkoverse books. Uncharacteristically, Miles does things like duck behind another soldier during a scuffle.
>82 2wonderY: Maybe not a complete riff, but there are bits like Baba Yega/Jaga & a Polish bedtime story & a few other bits that Novik mentions in the acknowledgements or in interviews.
I listened to the surprisingly short, but entertaining Good Omens: The BBC Radio 4 dramatization - 54. Part 5 in the production was bloopers and outtakes. I'll be listening to the audio book when it comes into my queue at the library. The new film looks interesting.
>86 2wonderY: sadly, no. I gave up on audio books, as my mind wanders too much.
It has taken several weeks to get through The Book of Night with Moon - 55. I'm still dosing with sinus meds, which definitely reduced my pillow time reading. But truly, a lot of this book was boringly long travel through the Downside. I felt a fairly distant empathy with the feline characters. I'm sure it's tough trying to conceptualize and then explicate Felix character and thought processes. Even the ending was out of reach of my ken.
One bright note was the revelation that The Powers That Be hold the hope that the Lone Power can be redeemed. That's an interesting theological concept, also shared by Madeleine L'Engle in the Time Quintet.
Typically, I enjoy the Lone One's interactions with Kit and Nita in the Young Wizards books, but he's almost an absent character here. I do have To Visit the Queen, the next book, and plan to read it soon.
Spent the day cataloging my DVDs and watching a few of them.
I had two versions of A Knight's Tale. Keeping the extended version, which has some lovely details cut from the theater version.
Watched The Love Letter, and stayed confused. Putting it on my discard pile.
I thought I was going to discard The Fourth Wise Man, but decided to watch it again. The acting is old-fashioned and melodramatic, but it ultimately tugged at my heartstrings and tear ducts. It stays.
I see that I've never read (or finished) any of the 529 titles on Debbie Macomber's author page; and I now know I never will.
The cover and blurb attracted me to The Trouble with Angels.
It's not romances that I object to; it's really bad romances I can't stand. The bad wasn't obvious at first, but became glaring midway through.
>93 fuzzi: There are two widowers in the book; both loved their spouses with great devotion. The younger man, widowed 3 years ago, makes very forward moves on a woman he has just met; and we're supposed to believe he's sensitive and generous.
The other is an older man with two grown children. They don't understand why he is depressed this second Christmas season after their mother died. Hmm. Must be something wrong with him.
Just unbelievable. And if true, not characters I care to spend time with.
I was down to 7 library books and felt like I had a good firm handle. Then I went on another ordering spree.
Blood of Tyrants - 57 has Lawrence and Temeraire in Japan, China and Russia. Thankfully, we are spared the long travel segments. I'm recently exhausted by those. The first half of the book has a twisty device - Lawrence has amnesia from a head blow and near drowning. He gets to consider his previous actions from outside himself; as well as acknowledge his gut connection with Temeraire without remembering any of their history.
On the road this weekend I listened to Arrows of the Queen - 58. I've only ever read a couple of Lackey's fairytale re-tellings before. This is my first dip into Valdemar. I liked it enough to spend some time there. Opinions, please. Should I continue with this trilogy of go back to the very beginning?
I was impressed by how much of daily mundane material sustained my interest. There was only one jarring moment when Talia lied to Selenay to get Skif out of trouble. She is supposedly unable to lie to the queen. It must have bothered Lackey as well, as she later made up an excuse - a poor one. And the Companions is a weak story device.
>91 2wonderY: I love A Knight's Tale. I could hardly believe it the first time I watched it - jousting and Queen. 'Way cool.
Surprised by Joy - 61 has been on my tbr list for some time. I certainly identified with Lewis’ evolution in faith. He describes it so spot-on, and provides certain key literature works; some I’d like to explore. He ocassionally goes off subject and delights, such as describing the different cast of sunlight in Ireland compared to England. I’ve never read a better nonfiction writer for nailing descriptions.
I'm poking at my piles of print books, and re-running a couple of Harry Dresden audios just for fill-in.
Watched some film
Oddball is a fictionalized true story about training livestock guardian dogs to protect the endangered penguin population on an Australian island ~ https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35039105
The Colour of Magic is a better introduction to the Discworld than the first book. (Though I love all the other books in the series. Pratchett just hadn't reached his stride yet.)
The Good Fight, season 1. It's only mildly interesting. My favorite character is Marissa Gold, played by Sarah Steele.
I was down to one non-fiction audiobook on my phone, so instead, I listened to Cold Days - 63. I may be nearing the end of my interest in this story set, but not quite yet.
A library book ~ Cabinet of Curiosities: Collecting and Understanding the Wonders of the Natural World - 64.
This had the potential to be lots of fun and intriguing. But, beyond the promise of the front cover, it disappointed. It starts out strong, with a bit of natural history focusing on the Age of Exploration and what a cabinet might consist of. A cabinet was originally meant as a storage room. Two pages describe 5 historic collections, with two detailed drawings.
Advice on constructing your own cabinet takes up the next few pages, with suggestions ranging from tackle boxes to typesetter trays to pizza boxes.
But then the rest of the book is a fairly boring breakdown of phyla, with old illustrations and one or two close-up photos of examples on a white background. This is much less useful than any field guide and less interesting that seeing how collections might be organized and displayed.
Kind of a waste of time and effort.
Edited to get to the correct touchstone.
>103 2wonderY: You only have one more book to worry about. Butcher has stalled out. Peace Talks was supposed to be out last year. And then there's another books after that. Supposedly. Don't hold your breath.
Yeah, he's moved on to other, less fascinating worlds, it seems. I roam around in the Dresden world almost randomly now. There are some surprisingly random pieces of wisdom mixed in.
For instance, he exhibited a piece of female wisdom that drove the story line - mother love.
Finished Death Masks - 65 and decided to make some private notes on who gets introduced and what the action is, for my own reference.
Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests - 66 is a 2003 USDA Forest Service publication. The bulk of the book is for identification purposes. A slim section at the end discusses control measures, giving a nod to an Integrated approach, but mainly recommending glyphosate and triclopyr. Other than that weakness, it's a handy reference.
I'm taking full credit for A Corner of White - 67, though I've abandoned it just past half-way. I figure my time invested should be worth a credit. I began it in audio, but was enchanted by some interesting phrasing to want it in print. That wasn't enough to hold my interest though. We've met all the characters, but they are still sitting around in their normal lives, with not much new happening. I've got better books to get to.
Audio books have been a real mixed bag this year; perhaps because I've been experimenting with new to me authors.
Decided to try George R.R. Martin with A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms - 68. I enjoyed the first story of three, but things swerved to stupid and then boring in the second story. I've satisfied my curiosity.
Granddaughter really liked Sharon Draper book Out of My Mind, as did I. Hoping to share more books with her, I downloaded Panic -69. And I had to send a caution to her mother to read along. Panic deals with abduction and rape.
I tried to listen to Rogue Protocol - 70 and switched to the print book, as I was losing the thread of the story, simple as it is. This is a lovely series. I'm going to go back and listen to the rest, as I now have a firm hold on the story. Then I'll soon take in the fourth book.
BTW, we've mused here before on the gender of the SecUnit. Wells is very careful in her neutral descriptors. But Don Abene refers once to Rin (an alias) as 'her.'
I loved Out of My Mind. Have you read Counting by 7s? Not the same, but it is YA and it's lovely.
Not yet. I downloaded the first title available. Good! I will continue to explore her works.
I ordered the book The House with a Clock in Its Walls from curiosity and saw there is a recent film by the same name. The start of the book was disappointing, so I thought to just watch the movie. The movie veered away from the book's tone pretty quickly and it too was disappointing. I like Jack Black in some things (The Holiday), but this seemed a vehicle for him to act melodramatically instead of to just act.
I'm finishing a re-read on Captain Vorpatril's Alliance - 71 and eager to go on to the newish Ekaterin adventure. The incident of Imp Sec sinking delights me, and Gregor's star chamber review is nice too.
>111 2wonderY: Doesn't he ALWAYS act melodramatically? lol (p.s. I love Jack Black)
My audio file suddenly overflows. So I've gotta dismiss a few items unfinished.
Oil and Honey - I may come back to this one.
Maggie Smith - surprisingly not interesting. The author seems to have harvested every side fact in and around her life and decided they were all worth saving.
You Can't Spell America Without ME - almost nauseating.
The Prisoner of Limnos - can't read these out of order, but I was desperate for something to listen to last week.
I'm alternating amongst 4 good books now, and another was just delivered.
In print, returning sampled but not approved:
The Lake of the Ozarks. Willie Geist is a co-anchor on Morning Joe. This is his father's memoir. Bill Geist is a journalist, so I expected an engaging story. I may try it once more before I put it in the book slot, but … I don't know, maybe it's me. What am I spoiling for?
The Foodscape Revolution. I feel on firmer ground here. When I read a gardening book, I look for solid factual material and pleasing, informative illustrations. This book offers vanilla nonsense. A quarter of the book features her own yard, but the photos are both repetitive and vague. They don't contribute to the knowledge base. The second quarter is a plants list, two to a page, with a generic photo taking up half that space and the text as general as you could imagine. The third quarter is how-to, showing how Brie does basic garden chores. Really? You need photos to know how to scatter or thumb plant seed? And a full page photo teaching us how Brie adds fertilizer. (She tosses it by the handful.) The fourth quarter has a few recipes and photos of canned goods.
Now, I would like for her to write about her work adding food plants to commercial and municipal properties. That would add value. Not sure it's worth a book though.
I know this is sort of a repeat, but I had another listen to Good Omens -74. The MP3 edition doesn't credit the narrator, but I'm pretty sure it is Stephen Briggs. His voices and interpretation are perfection. Just the slightest changes sometimes, but each character is distinct. And I'm not sure this is in the print version, but Adam Young pronounces 'analogy' with a hard g. Perfect for an 11 year old boy. I think his work is better than the full cast BBC version.
Correction - it was Martin Jarvis I was listening to.
With no phone or computer to distract, I read Terminal Uprising - 75 straight through. I love these guys. Janitor heroes. They take a trip to Earth and discover
(I can't keep the titles of the first and second book straight in my head, for some reason.)
Randomly picked up a lovely old novel and now I will probably search for the other 11 in the series. Sadly, they are obscure.
Miss Minerva's Neighbors - 76 is smack in the middle, but I felt right at home. These were marketed as children's books back in the 20s & 30s, but I found this book charming and interesting. It presents a different angle on race relations. The setting is small town Tennessee, and there is separation and limitations, as you'd expect, but also friendships and unexpected successes. One young black man has gone to Hollywood to act in films. A letter from him talks about the limited and stereotypical roles, and also the financial realities of his situation.
Unmentionable - 77 was written for ladies who imagine they would rather live in the romantic past; the time of flowing gowns and chivalrous men. It doesn't really matter which century; Oneill covers a lot of territory. First she discusses physical realities such as sanitation, clothing, daily necessary chores. Then she quotes a lot from medical and sociological books of the times to expose attitudes and perceptions. I make a hobby of reading those old tracts myself, but she found some real doozies.
Team of Vipers - 78. Just from the title, you expect a lot of dirt. But it doesn't get rolling till chapter 11. The bulk of the book is mostly mild and boring Sims' day to day personal story. He begins to examine his conscience about half way through. I ran out of time on the audio download, so I've missed the last few chapters. I've ordered it again to see how it ends.
I'm listening to Songs of America; and I may or may not finish it. But it does seem an appropriate listen for this patriotic season. The subtitle is 'Patriotism, Protest, and the Music That Made a Nation.'
Jon Meacham is a scholarly and thoughtful writer. His background discussion is teaching me some finer points about the Revolutionary era. He has some pertinent points to make about political patterns that seem universal. Tim McGraw is listed as co-author, but so far he adds very little. I thought perhaps he would sing some of the songs, but all he does is read the lyrics.
I don't really cook. So, I'm mostly just enjoying the front half of The Edible French Garden, by Rosalind Creasy and the photos in A Seat at the Table. The Artisan Profiles in the second book are pretty cool too. The Beekman 1802 farm is in Sharon Springs, NY. The owners celebrate their local community and their fascinating neighbors.
I was in the children's section of the library looking for versions of Little Red Riding Hood, and was attracted to Miss Smith and the Haunted Library - 79. The illustrations show accurate covers of the books the children check out, and several are old favorites that I own, like the classics printed by Charles Scribner's Sons. The Black Arrow and The Boys King Arthur are two. It's nice to see those old illustrations appreciated anew.
The librarian, Virginia Creeper, reads spooky stories from Miss Smith's book and the characters come out and interact with the kids and contribute to the riotous party atmosphere.
I abandoned Songs of America.
On audio, I've been listening to what is essentially a film bonus to The Crimes of Grindewald - Makers, Mysteries and Magic - 80, narrated by one of the actors, Dan Fogler.
Also listened to a slightly odd Fannie Flagg story, The Whole Town's Talking - 81. It starts out as a lovely history of a community in rural Missouri, and runs from the 1850s or so through to nearly the present. What's odd is the activity in the cemetery. But there is a nice conclusion to the tale.
And I'm nearly done with a re-listen of Midnight Riot - 82, one of my go-to series when I can't think of anything else to load on my phone for the road.
I’m feeling self indulgent, so I’m going to count and celebrate another picture book. The Relatives Came - 83 makes me so happy. It’s a celebration of extended family. Every library should have a copy.
Sorting piles, started and finished a stray romance, The Best Christmas Ever - 84. Mildly okay.
Finally got around to the second book in the Tomorrow series, The Dead of Night - 86. I don't know why it took me so long. I thought well of the first book. Marsden does a creditable job of portraying real teens in an extraordinary circumstance. The Chinese have successfully invaded Australia, and these few are the only ones not rounded up in their community. There are elements of this installment that had me muttering "Nah, that makes no sense." But I could still overlook those; as the rest of the story is solid.
I've finally gotten around to reading the canes chapter of Homegrown Berries, by Timber Press. I'd like to find scientific materials on wild varieties of blackberries, but there was some helpful information. I have erect and trailing varieties. The semi-erect are thornless. Guaranteed, there is no such cane on my property. The erect benefit from tipping, the trailing do not.
I may keep the book long enough to read the blueberries chapter. My plants have been disappointing.
Listened to the new novella in the Peter Grant series. The October Man - 87. Neither Peter Grant nor London figure in this book except by reputation. Aaronovitch is branching his world out, in this case, to Germany. I've got the print copy now and am reviewing it. I'm not sure if it's the writing or the narrator that makes this new central character less appealing than Grant. There are still some great quotable lines. And Tobias Winter has an interesting family, but seems to lack his own heft.
Listened to The Dark is Rising - 91, and finished it only by dint of determination. I won't be finishing the series. The main character seemed to just be the object of the action rather than a protagonist. Very unsatisfying.
Skipping through the last third of Eleanor and Hick - 92, as the recital of the friendship gets a bit stale; though some of the Eleanor and White House anecdotes are still pretty good.
For example, FDR went to Casablanca, Morocco to meet with Churchill to discuss the African war. The Germans got wind of the meeting, but translated Casablanca as "White House" and thought the meeting was being held in Washington, DC.
Very tattered copy to be disposed now - The Ordinary Princess - 94. I remember this with great fondness, but probably because it was a first fairy tale re-telling. The concept of 'ordinary' was pretty cool.
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