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richardderus's third thread of 2019

This is a continuation of the topic richardderus's second thread of 2019.

This topic was continued by richardderus's fourth thread of 2019.

75 Books Challenge for 2019

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Edited: Jan 30, 3:44pm Top

1949 DeSoto CarryAll sedan in a *luscious* shade of green

I love old-fashioned hood ornaments and car-brand "crests". They made for such simple statements of one's taste.

Edited: Feb 14, 5:16pm Top

I am never-endingly gobsmacked at the influence of the past on the present. Read: People steal from the past constantly, and without attribution. Everything old is new again.

Damn, it's almost the end of the Teens. The days may drag, but the years WHOOSH by! I'll shoot to write 200 reviews for my blog, meaning real reviews not impressions or squibs. My ancillary goal will be to create some sort of post about the Pearl-Ruled books explaining why I am abandoning ship; I'll set an arbitrary count of 100 of those since goodness knows I abandon a lot of books.

My 2018 Reviews Are Here:
Reviews 1-25 are linked there.

Reviews 26-31 are linked here.

Reviews 32-39 are linked there.

Reviews 40-54 are linked over here.

Reviews 55-70 are linked over here.

Reviews 71-101 (I misnumbered) are linked over here.

Reviews 102-110 are linked over here.

Reviews 111 - 123 are reviewed over here.

Reviews 124-127 are there.

2019's Reviews Are Here:

Reviews 1-4 are here.

My first Pearl-Ruled notice and two reviews are found here.

This thread's output is:

7 Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World fell on me, well the YGC first, and demanded attention, given in post 42. (Not coincidentally the Answer to the Question.)

PR2 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine misfired from the minute I opened it, see why in post 57.

8 The Reluctant Widow bubbled and danced delightfully for me, see post 70.

9 The Making of the African Queen delights me as much 32 years after I bought it as it did that day, see why in post 91.

PR3 Scurvy wasn't a good read in post 123.

10 Articulated Restraint is another story in Author Kowal's delicious Lady Astronaut series appreciated in post 130.

11 Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel retells the venerable UK classic with pictures, though not very interesting ones, in post 131.

12 The A.B.C. Murders is a good book, and a decent mini-series, reviewed in post 161.

13 The Other Boleyn Girl tells Mary's tale of woe as the younger (? a disputed interpretation) sister of Anne in post 172.

Well-loved reads from my past The Front Runner author died at 82, I remember reading it in post 223.

14 Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd redeems the previous book's idiotic and unpleasant move to Canada in post 240.

15 The Burning Page is the third delicious Invisible Library book, warbled about in post 272.

Edited: Feb 14, 5:16pm Top

Via Bookish, here's a list of challenges to #KillYourTBR (note that I've modified a few entries to make them possible for me to meet):

  1. A book you bought for the cover

  2. A book by an author you’ve met
  3. The Front Runner
  4. A book you’re embarrassed you haven’t read yet

  5. A book that is under 220 pages
  6. The King's Evil
  7. A book that came out the year you were born

  8. A book whose title uses alliteration
  9. When Saigon Surrendered
  10. A book in your best friend’s favorite genre

  11. A book from an independent publisher

  12. A book you borrowed from the library
  13. The Reluctant Widow
  14. A book featuring a fictional language

  15. A novel that includes a recipe (Bonus points for making the recipe)

  16. A book won in a raffle/giveaway

  17. A book about going on a quest
  18. The Burning Page
  19. A book set in a city you’ve visited

  20. A book with a dust jacket

  21. A book by two or more authors

  22. A book that is over 1000 pages

  23. A book that’s been out for less than a month

  24. A book with a name in the title
  25. The Other Boleyn Girl
  26. A book from a genre you want to read more of

  27. A book written by a Native American author

  28. A book with an asexual character

  29. A book you were given as a gift

  30. A book translated from Spanish

  31. An award-winning graphic novel
  32. Tom's Midnight Garden Graphic Novel
  33. A book featuring a false confession

  34. A book you meant to read in 2018

  35. A book featuring a memorable companion animal

  36. A book set in South America

  37. A book with a cover you kind of hate (but a story you love)

  38. A book by an author you’ve never heard of before
  39. Coming Through: Three Novellas
  40. A book of short stories

  41. A book featuring a nonbinary protagonist

  42. A book you’ve been waiting for forever

  43. A book about intersectional feminism

  44. A book with a place in the title
  45. Our Man in Havana
  46. A book bought at/from a physical bookstore
  47. Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World
  48. A book by an author you’re thankful for

  49. A book with gorgeous descriptions

  50. A book signed by the author

  51. A book set in Africa
  52. The Making of the African Queen
  53. A book about mental health
  54. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
  55. A book written by an immigrant

  56. A retelling

  57. A book about incarceration

  58. A book recommended by an author

  59. A book with a person of color on the cover

  60. A book by an author who uses a pen name

  61. A book whose title includes a verb
  62. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd
  63. A book recommended by a librarian

  64. A book being adapted in 2019

  65. A book you found in a Little Free Library

Jan 30, 3:41pm Top

It's your turn!

Jan 30, 3:42pm Top

I'm laughing at your "me, mine" temporary posts! Happy new thread!

Jan 30, 3:44pm Top

Seems like a good use of a blustery day. Happy new thread! I'll be back later to see what automobile of interest claims the top spot this time.

Jan 30, 4:00pm Top

>5 thornton37814: Hi Lori! Look who gets the trophy for this thread:

Jan 30, 4:01pm Top

>1 richardderus: Whoa, almost as old as I am. Now that's a paint job. Happy new thread!

Jan 30, 4:03pm Top

>6 harrygbutler: Hi Harry, I hope you like my DeSoto choice. Back then, Chrysler was #2 to GM and surging streets ahead of poor old Ford. Astounding to think of in this time of FiatUSA, but true.

>8 quondame: Hiya Susan! That paint job ain't no 70 years old, but it's historically accurate. We should all be so well-preserved at 70.

Jan 30, 4:06pm Top

>7 richardderus: Thank you!

Jan 30, 4:46pm Top

Happy new thread Richard! I bin lerkin along. Stay warm!

Jan 30, 4:49pm Top

Happy new thread! Love that shade of green

Jan 30, 4:52pm Top

Happy new thread, RD. I love that color green, too.

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Jan 30, 4:57pm Top

Happy new thread, Richard xx

Jan 30, 5:01pm Top

Happy New Thread, Richard. Those are some mighty cool car photos and ads up there.

Jan 30, 5:13pm Top

>11 humouress: Welcome, Nina, you hothouse tropical fleur you. Don't wither in the icy blasts from the North Pole that're barrelling through here.

>12 figsfromthistle: Isn't that gorgeous, Anita? *smooch*

>13 karenmarie: Hey Horrible, it's a rare shade that garners near-universal approval. I think we've hit a winner here.

Jan 30, 5:14pm Top

>14 katiekrug: Thanks, Your Kickassness. I'm so pleased to be able to focus long enough to do it after a week of being wretched.

>15 jnwelch: Hi Joe! I'm glad you like them, too.

Edited: Jan 30, 7:10pm Top

Happy New Thread, Richard. Love the DeSoto toppers! Sorry, to hear you are still feeling crummy. I hope tomorrow brings you some relief.

Jan 30, 7:41pm Top

I'm glad you defeated the virus and not the other way around!

Jan 30, 7:45pm Top

Good Day my fine friend! Stay warm and happy reading!

Jan 30, 8:32pm Top

Snaaaaazzzy, Richard! Those toppers!

Feel better soon!

Jan 30, 9:20pm Top

Happy new thread, Richard! Stay warm in these crazy temps - I was going to try to walk the dogs at least once this evening before the cold set in, but I managed to forget my boots at work so they're just going to have to run out in the yard a bit, poor things. Tomorrow in the freezing bitter cold that was already a given.

Jan 30, 10:13pm Top

Happy new thread!

Jan 30, 11:39pm Top

Happy new thread, Richard. Hope you are feeling better and that the polar vortex isn't bringing you down.

Jan 30, 11:40pm Top

Happy New thread Richard!

Jan 30, 11:52pm Top

I KNOW I posted on this thread--I specifically commented on the beauty of the De Soto. Guess I didn't press the Post button. Happy New Thread, Richard, and hope you feel better real soon!

Jan 31, 9:00am Top

Morning, BigDaddy! Happy new one! Hoping today is kind to you.

Jan 31, 9:20am Top

'Morning, RD!

I'm glad you're able to focus long enough to make this lovely new thread. I hope you have a good day and can get some reading in. I also hope you don't have plans on going outside. My Uncle Doug lives in Cedar Rapids IA where it's -28F right now, going to a high of -1F. Even at 34 degrees warmer, your weather is still ridiculous.

Jan 31, 9:55am Top

>18 msf59: Hiya, Mark! I'm thrilled with the whisky and books. I'm much, much better than I was, thankfully.

>19 EBT1002: Oh, me too, Ellen. I'm so relieved to be breathing without gurgling you can't imagine. Stupid virus. G'bye.


>20 mahsdad: Hey Jeff, happy to see you here!

Jan 31, 10:00am Top

>21 jessibud2: Hello Shelley, I'm so pleased you like the new green monstermosbile...I think it's gorgeous, of course. I chose it, after all. Happily I'm able to function about 75% of normal at last.

>22 bell7: Ooohhh, Mary, I hope the pooches just did the necessary and came back in quick. I myownself WILL NOT be moving towards the outside door until there's no more vortex. *shiver*

>23 drneutron: Thank you, Jim, lovely to see you.

>24 Familyhistorian: I'm pretty sure "down" is rebounding into "not heinous," thanks Meg.

Jan 31, 10:06am Top

>25 swynn: Hi Steve! Welcome to the new space.

>26 ronincats: Much better today, thanks Roni, and pleased you're in the DeSoto fanciers' club.

>27 Crazymamie: Hey Mamie, I'm pretty much over the hump and guarding my gains.

>28 karenmarie: Horrible dear! Your poor UNCLE! That's just horrific. I'm so lucky in comparison.

Jan 31, 10:12am Top

Hooray for feeling better!

Now just stay warm!

Jan 31, 10:17am Top

Happy new thread, Richard dear!

Thanks for the sign of life on my thread, I wasn't much around this week. Real life sucks sometimes...

Jan 31, 10:26am Top

>32 katiekrug: It's less windy today, Katie, so it's not as brutal here. Winds by the sea are seriously painfully cold. I won't be touching trotter to pavement for a nanosecond until it's not agonically cold.

>33 FAMeulstee: It does, doesn't it. I assume your friend's partner wasn't exaggerating the severity of the problem. That's very saddening.

Jan 31, 11:01am Top

>34 richardderus: No, she wasn't, Richard, and that is VERY sad :'(

Jan 31, 11:18am Top

>35 FAMeulstee: {{{Anita}}}

Jan 31, 11:53am Top

Glad you're feeling a bit better, Richard. That green is startlingly beautiful. And I love your reading challenges. Do you allow one book to satisfy more than one category?

Jan 31, 11:56am Top

>37 laytonwoman3rd: Thanks, Linda3rd! I've decided to make it a true challenge and have each item be unique. I need to power through a lot more reading.

Jan 31, 12:29pm Top

I am presently in bed with
-1 sheet
-3 blankets
-1 LL Bean flannel robe
-1 cardigan
-1 long-sleeved t-shirt
-1 pair blue jeans
-1 pot hot coffee
-2 servings hot buttered oatmeal
-1 Georgette Heyer novel, The Reluctant Widow
-1 laptop playing steel drum music
-1 highly amused Young Gentleman Caller
Do your worst, Polar Vortex.

Jan 31, 12:51pm Top

I would say you are well-fortified, Richard! :-)

Jan 31, 2:29pm Top

Do your worst, Polar Vortex.

Or as we like to call it, Polar Vorpocalypse!

Jan 31, 2:32pm Top

7 Elect Mr. Robinson for a Better World by Donald Antrim

Rating: 3.5* of five

My Young Gentleman Caller hefted a bin for me today, its lid slipped, and this book bonked his noggin. Bin safely deposited, piffling nature of injury established (to my satisfaction if not his, I suspect he was angling for sympathy/guilt banana bread as his desire for more of that comestible is a refrain in our recent conversations), I picked up the book and was right back in the Sixth Avenue B. Dalton circa 1994. (The receipt tells me I bought the book December 8, 1994. Computer POS precision noted.)

At that time I was gadding about Lower Manhattan in a haze of grief for my dead lover, mid-30s-male sexual hunger, and frustrated seeking for a hit in my newish career as a literary agent. Numbing pain via reading was an old, old habit of mine. This novel's premise, which nowadays we'd call bizarro, was so askew that I was sure I'd be diverted and possibly edified.

Like so many expectations....

So the read itself was successful, I kept the book somehow in spite of literally thousands of others falling away; but damned if I want to re-read it. Antrim's first novel is jam-packed with brio. His narrative voice isn't assured, it tries too hard to clever-clever its way out of some cul-de-sacs with limited success, but still tells a true story. Ours was then a country of receding community ethic, a sense of a destiny shared was eroding ever-faster, and its lack of usability as a ground-cover in the garden we're supposed to be maintaining was alarming to many of us.

As a reminder, the first government shut-down was almost a year away but had already been set in motion by the politically tone-deaf Clintons proposing a National Health Insurance Plan that would've saved tens of thousands from death or debilitating debt. (I never said they were wrong, just tone-deaf.) Antrim's Civil War fit beautifully into that deep and accelerating fault line's growth under the national garden's soil. His satirical intentions were spot-on. His storytelling voice wasn't quite up to the task but he was close enough for me at that time.

So today (post-boo boo kissing) I picked the book up for the first time in many long years, flipped around, and was chuckling again. I told the mildly sulky YGC Rob why I wasn't continuing to fuss over him and, I am gratified to report, sent the book home with him after I sold it by mentioning missile attacks on a gated community and drawing-and-quartering by Subaru.

Since it's a story with far greater relevance to today's 20-somethings than even to my then-30-something self, I'm hopeful it will reinforce his sense that the morality he sees enacted around him is pathological and not emulatable. And I'm enormously tickled in the vanity area that owning a book that I demonstrably bought for myself on a particular date before he was born made him covet the object.

Everybody wins. Like it should be.

Jan 31, 2:38pm Top

>40 jessibud2: Well fortified indeed, Shelley. See above review.

>41 drneutron: It's a dreadful sign of worse to come. I'm content to leave the stage in the not-enormously-distant future, though guilt-ridden about the planet my grandkids are going to have to live on.

Jan 31, 3:03pm Top

>42 richardderus: - Love this!

And what a memory you have...

Jan 31, 3:11pm Top

>42 richardderus: Well, that was entertaining! Thank goodness for lids slipping and books bonking. We sure benefited.

>39 richardderus: Congratulations on such thorough cold-fending. Georgette Heyer seems like a perfect accompaniment.

Jan 31, 3:26pm Top

>44 katiekrug: Aww, thanks Katie. A good memory is a survival tool when one grows up among persons with mental health issues.

I feel lucky to have such vivid memories!

>45 jnwelch: I'm getting back into Heyer's story now, as Rob's departed and I have no further temptations to do other things than read.

Jan 31, 4:22pm Top

Happy new thread Richard dear friend.

Jan 31, 4:35pm Top

>39 richardderus: Sounds loverly. I assume you let YGC have one of the portions of oatmeal?

Question: Do you have a microwave oven?

Jan 31, 5:36pm Top

>47 johnsimpson: Thank you, John, hope you're all keeping well.

>48 karenmarie: Hey Horrible, it was loverly indeed. I am not quite so vile a human as to refuse hearty sustenance to a frozen visitor! Apparently I make better oatmeal than others, though I can't for the life of me figure out how. Milk, oats, butter, time.

Nope. Specifically forbidden to congregate-care residents. Possibility of burns.

Jan 31, 6:43pm Top

Boo hiss to no microwave ovens, although I do understand the reason. I was going to send you a corn bag - square cloth bag filled with deer corn. Microwaved, it's good to warm hands, feet, and core when required. *sad face*

Jan 31, 7:43pm Top

Thank you for the lovely thought! I have a similar contrivance that I chuck into the crockpot on low for an hour before nighty-night. I put it by my feet and all is delightfully warm until about 4am, by which time I'm up for a whiz and a slurp of juice.

Jan 31, 7:50pm Top

>42 richardderus: Gotta love a good story about the absolutely random ways in which the perfect book can fall in one's hands.

Jan 31, 7:54pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Richard! It looks like you have quite a crowded bed up there, but you sure seem quite content. Hope you are continuing to improve.

Jan 31, 8:10pm Top

>52 bell7: Hi Mary! Isn't the universe amazing.

>53 msf59: Howdy, Mark, it was a bit of a squeeze but one makes room for the necessities after all.

I am a different, better human from even this morning! Yay!!

Feb 1, 9:25am Top

So glad to hear that you're on the upside of this nastiness, RichardDear.

And, as you happily pointed out on my thread just now, Happy Gardam Day!

The Group Read thread for Last Friends by Jane Gardam is up. Here’s the link: Group Read: Last Friends by Jane Gardam.

Feb 1, 9:30am Top

I totally spoilered everything there, faithless to your instructions.

Feb 1, 3:07pm Top

pr2 Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Real Rating: 1.5* of five

This read was down there with Gone Girl in my Hall of Shame. I was squicked out from the get-go by the premise, but got the book for a Goodreads group read...I should just know better than to violate my gut's response.

The prose is honeyed (see what I did there, Author Honeyman?) and the words are well-meaning...I don't think this book was perpetrated, like I felt Gone Girl to be...but the gestalt was as anger-inducing to me as Punk'd was. This is funny? To whom, and why? This is insensitive and slightly disrespectful of someone who is already an outsider, someone for whom the world provided little to no padding against the rough edges life naturally has. And watching the bruises form is not in the smallest degree an entertainment in which I wish to participate.

Edited: Feb 1, 8:54pm Top

>57 richardderus: Gone Girl was perpetrated and so full of ick. When I got done with it I wondered happened to Gillian Flynn to make her write like that. Just to make sure, I read Sharp Objects and thought the same thing. Then I wondered what was wrong with me that I'd read two of her books.

Feb 1, 5:28pm Top

>58 AuntieClio: *snerk* Yeah, I got that feeling as well. The movie's ending was better than the book's.

Feb 1, 5:43pm Top

>1 richardderus: >9 richardderus: That DeSoto would definitely be a keeper!

We're supposed to see a warming trend around here the next few days. I hope you get the benefit of some better weather, too.

Feb 1, 6:05pm Top

Thank you, Harry! We're expecting 40° on Sunday which is peachy keen by me.

Feb 1, 8:54pm Top

>59 richardderus: No way am I spending energy on the movie

Feb 1, 9:15pm Top

>62 AuntieClio: Not even for free? Wow. Even *I*, who got acres of angry woman-screams on my review, spent the energy on the film.

Feb 1, 9:43pm Top

>63 richardderus: Noooooooooooo

Feb 1, 9:47pm Top

Copied from my thread: Richard! NOOOOOO! That was not to be cruel, it was to be encouraging, there is light at the end of the tunnel, before you know it you'll be complaining about the heat, and besides, it is simply too gorgeous not to share. I DEPEND upon your aesthetic opinions; please don't let me down!

Feb 1, 9:58pm Top

>57 richardderus: Oh no! That was chosen as a book read for March's RL bookclub. Well, I guess I will have to be thorough in picking it apart. Sigh.

Happy new thread! Glad you are feeling better.

Feb 2, 5:58am Top

‘Morning, RD!

>57 richardderus: Hmm. It’s on my shelves. We’ll see. I value your opinions, as you well know, although there have been a few times we’ve ATD. *cough* Camilleri. C the D. *cough*

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Feb 2, 1:01pm Top

>64 AuntieClio: *smirk*

>65 ronincats: No worries, Roni, it's not like I could ever keep my mouth shut for long anyway. *smooch*

>66 Berly: YMMV, Kimmers, almost the rest of the goddamned world loved the book. I'm called sexist for calling out privileged little twidgee KonMari for using her platform to advocate an absurd minimalism towards book ownership; the same legions of disapproving Women read and ecstatically warbled praises of this, to me, extremely abuse-normative ghastly thing. *shrug*

>67 karenmarie: *smooch* back!

Feb 2, 1:09pm Top

I am so very happy to be able to breathe and not hack a lung out that I could spit. It's a great deal warmer today than yesterday, which was warmer and less windy than the vortex days. It will be 40°/4C tomorrow!! Break out the swimmys, time to beach it.

Not really, but "Break out the rolly-cart, time to have a grocery run" is so much less colorful and interesting an image, no?

I'm busily tarting up a grateful warble for The Reluctant Widow's ability to engage my fragile attention span without challenging my (temporarily, one hopes) diminished powers. I'm almost at "I rilly likeded it" level, so "I found it a typical high-Heyer dish of froth" is positively Shakespearean by comparison.

Feb 2, 2:35pm Top

8 The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer

Rating: 4* of five

The reason I find Georgette Heyer a pleasure to read is simple: Her heroines are fools, her heroes are saturnine, and everyone around them makes me snort with laughter. When the leads are on stage alone or, ever so rarely, together, things get tedious fast. When the wagtail young male or the mischievous schoolgirl arrive trailing clouds of knowing innocence tinged with bombast, I am a happy man indeed.

Recovering from a recent re-descent into viral hell, I was so wretched I couldn't keep track of anything with stories in it. I was on a 24/7 diet of Sir David Attenborough. An estimable man, no one could say otherwise, but there are only so many whale flukes and nematodes and iridescent comb jellies I can look at before a hunger for story kindles. I fetched up in front of the tree-book TBR because basta with the blue light, scanned a few shelves, turned a corner and...

Looka tha'!

These decade-old trade paper Heyer reissues were a delightful idea on Sourcebooks's part, as they clearly determined to make them aesthetically in tune with the topic of Regency. This cover image tugged my sadly disused smile muscles into stiff but sincere action. I want to sit next to the lady and listen to what her clear, unsparing eyes have seen in her untrammelable mouth's widest, loudest Pronouncements. The gent in the embrasure will, no doubt, perceive that I pose no threat to what he quite clearly regards as His Woman.

To page one...and into a gloomy destination where a young governess alights from the stage and is gratefully whisked into a crested-doored coach by an attentive coachman, her trunks stowed aloft, and she bowls comfortably swathed in rugs to a scene of the most sparkling-wine-esque cross-purposes mistaken-identity repartee deliciousness. In four pages, the quite absurd plot is laid out. As I am not a Heyer-naive reader, I know that the "plot" will indeed unfold, in a cloud of exclamation marks, exactly following these lines; I also know that the ostensible plot will in no way get in the way of Heyer's seeming addiction to hiking her skirts and making an Olympic-speed dash into the weeds. The heroine, a hard-done-by daughter to a profligate father, tends towards the dudgeony end of Heyer's ladies. Lord Carlyon, her nemesis, tends towards the Mark II or rude-because-he-can-be end of her capable, masterful gentlemen. They will do swimmingly together.

Come now, no one alive is so naive as to not know that the hero and heroine will, in due course, end up together. Heyer. Regency. If-Then.

It is the supporting characters and the more interesting secondary plots that will make a Heyer reader for life of the casual peruser of this story. Or it will so irk and chafe on the unsusceptible-to-heightened-whimsical-language as to cause them ever after to shudder and glower at the sound of her name. They are equally valid responses, and greatly to be preferred to a bland indifference towards the read. Which latter response I am at a loss to conjure a possessor of, in all honesty, as this is a type and a level of prose that can induce panther-screeching fury or rapturous coos more readily than the oatmeal-farina-porridge stuff one finds so readily in all categories of writing.

At any rate, I was launched in the proper boat and heading to the destination I was expecting to reach with some alarums and excursions in the middle. With a great deal of pleasure I met young Nicholas Carlyon, murderer of intended bridegroom Eustace Cheviot, and his hound Bouncer. Why worry about Eustace, he needed killing, and besides it was really an accident (mostly) and Eustace really did bring the whole miserable incident on himself. At any rate, Author Heyer was at the time this book was being written in the middle 1940s was the mother of a teenaged boy, and it shows. Nicky is a perfect late-adolescent young man of good breeding and simple nobility. He despises all that is brummagem, he embraces pashes without exercising his nascent capacity for perspective *before* acting, he loves easily and fiercely...you've met him. You're probably related to him or wearing his slightly wrinkled skin yourownself.

Nicky's tidings set the marquee plot, marrying Miss Elinor Rochdale to Mr. Eustace Cheviot to cause the latter's estate entire to pass away from sorely overtaxed Lord Carlyon's unwilling grasp, into high gear. There is no time for frail sensibilities to quail at the mercenary nature of this cold-blooded scheme that verges on the disreputable. Miss Rochdale, having been diverted all unknowing from the grasp of a dreadful fate in the household of one Mrs. Macclesfield, really has no realistic option but to fall in with this bizarre proposal and submit to her fate. She puts up a vigorous rear-guard action, it is true, but one isn't entirely persuaded that she isn't in fact a smidgin relieved to allow Carlyon to take the reins of her future in his capable hands:
"You must not think that you will be lonely...{f}or we shall come and visit you."
She thanked {Nicky}, but turned once more to Carlyon. "And what is to be done about Mrs Macclesfield?' she asked.
"It is very uncivil of us, no doubt, but I am inclined to think that we shall do best to let Mrs Macclesfield pass out of our lives without embarking on explanations which cannot be other than awkward," he replied.

Soon enough the Widow Cheviot and her eager young protector Nicky, together with Bouncer, are up to silliness and goofiness and there's a so-totally-filmable drawing-room farce among the three of them that had me in stitches and...
...not one word I can say will convince you to sign on for this somewhat creaky ride if you don't like the quote above, or get all riled up at the abominable gender politics. If you do like the quote and accept that gender politics was utterly abominable 200 years ago, get the book.

That creakiness, let me say, is largely in the odd choice Author Heyer made of keeping the hero and heroine out of each other's company for most of the book. They speak more about than to each other. Also the inevitable heartfelt nuptials are barely even hinted at, with the most halfhearted proposal scene I've ever read!

I was very not-amused with the revolting dandyish behavior of Francis Cheviot, cousin to the Carlyons on one side of the family and to the late Eustace Cheviot on the other. At first I suspected Author Heyer was coding homophobia, and almost certainly she was on some level, but I realized quite quickly that the character's Exquisiteness was utterly period and I am projecting back onto his mannerisms a meaning they didn't convey to Regency people. The Carlyon men did not like Francis's foppishness because they do not share his interest in appearances, manners, etc etc. The 194 audience would likely have read Author Heyer's words as properly homophobic, I am persuaded, but I know nothing of the lady's opinions about the subject and do know she was a meticulous researcher, so I'll go with her creating the disagreeable Exquisite without a double entendre.

I was very pleased as well with Author Heyer's resolution to the strange and sad espionage plot. On every front, this secondary-to-the-love-story aspect was entertaining and energetic. The resolution she crafted gave each character touched by it a believable reaction to and benefit from it.

I mentioned a filmable drawing-room farce scene. I was astounded to learn that only TWO of Heyer's novels were filmed! This one, made in 1950 as The Inheritance (in the USA), was...well...not great. Not awful, just not great. It needed a lead couple with chemistry and the one in the film gave every appearance of having met while quarreling over a parking space at the studio. What a sparkling thing a *good* film of this would be!

Edited: Feb 2, 2:58pm Top

>70 richardderus: Was The Reluctant Widow movie called The Inheritance? It is findable as itself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdwKPoQrLAg

For decades I belonged to a group originally called The Society for Heyer Criticism, sadly morphed to The Friends of the English Regency. We dressed up and danced and threw parties, even had a web site. Various authors were involved. It all started at Science Fiction conventions, and there is "Regency" dancing at some still. It got somewhat blown away by Jane Austen mania. I was also part of that.

Feb 2, 3:05pm Top

>71 quondame: Yep, thass tha one I watched. Sadly flat compared to the source material.

Jane's unbelievably powerful cleats mowed down many a formerly popular author's fanbase. It's not like anyone anywhere ever said, "DON'T like {Author} if you're an Austenite" but the fandom's astonishingly all-encompassing universe is exhausting to immerse oneself into. Leaves little for other fandoms to get!

Happy weekend.

Feb 2, 3:24pm Top

Still lurking here, don’t worry.

Feb 2, 3:25pm Top

>72 richardderus: I've never noticed a lack of fandoms, just lower attendance at the dances I put on because the JA's had bigger budgets and dance masters that hadn't somehow been overcome with an inability to actually let people do the dances. I try not to blame someone else when I've slit me own throat.

Feb 2, 5:55pm Top

Happy Saturday, Richard. I am getting ready to head home with a bag of goodies for tomorrow. I hope you are back to full strength. We saw Bohemian Rhapsody last night. It was awful.

Feb 2, 6:34pm Top

It's a dark and stormy day here, Richard, with pelting rain and strong wind gusts. I'm so tempted to go immediately reread The Reluctant Widow--it's early Heyer so not as polished as her later books but the side characters (and situations--I love the judge) are so funny it always makes be laugh. Guard, Bouncer!

Feb 2, 6:40pm Top

I have read nothing. But, hi there my brother :)

Feb 2, 6:48pm Top

I think Roni has the beginning of a book up there in #76 if she'd only change the word to "night." "It was a dark and stormy NIGHT . . ."

Feb 2, 8:08pm Top

I know it's a radio-station call sign, but the confluence of the, um, homely 1958 Edsel and the urpsome, ubiquitous, nasty KALE made me giggle.

Feb 2, 8:12pm Top

>73 humouress: Your Overkillerness! *smooch* I feel safer already.

>74 quondame: Heh! Nothing like retrospective honesty to discourage repetition, I've found.

>75 msf59: Hey Mark, I'm almost 100% at this point. Residual chest yuuuk is about it. I'm going out tomorrow to shop so I will test that.

Bohemian Rhapsody was so disappointing that I didn't notice if it was good or bad.

Feb 2, 8:15pm Top

>76 ronincats: Hey Roni, ignore the awful punstress in >78 thornton37814: and give the dark and stormy day all you got. Not really early, pubbed in 1946; I'd say more height-of-powers, but so very worth your eyeblinks.

>77 mckait: You have other stuff to accomplish right now. *smooch*

>78 thornton37814: Madam. *stiff bow*

Feb 2, 8:42pm Top

Well, NOW it is a dark and stormy night, and I started the new Aaronovitch, Lies Sleeping, instead, which scratches many of the same itches. And you are right, it was a middle book.

Feb 2, 9:40pm Top

>82 ronincats: Ah! There's something so delicious about the next-in-series book. Blub blub burble!

Edited: Feb 3, 1:37am Top

If I may be so bold as to say, "Hey look, it's me!" http://www.lunisea.com/2019/02/on-writing-drink-tank-409/
The latest issue of The Drink Tank published my 2018 year in review writing piece. ::kermit the frog::

Feb 3, 7:42am Top

>1 richardderus: I've wanted emerald green taffeta curtains for years! Gad I love that color.

Feb 3, 8:17am Top

'Morning, RD!

>70 richardderus: I've been reading Heyer since I was 12, so since about 1965 or so. Not my fav, by any means, but definitely 4 stars for me. Excellent review of a book and author I absolutely adore.

I love those trade paperback reissues, too and buy them whenever I see them at a thrift shop or Friends of the Library sale.

Do you have a favorite Heyer?

Feb 3, 10:22am Top

>86 SomeGuyInVirginia: I do, too, though am less than enamored of taffeta.

>87 karenmarie: *smooch* I'm not sure about a favorite Heyer...though the one I most often leaf through is These Old Shades, just to get a booster shot of Heyerity.

Edited: Feb 3, 11:57am Top

Thoroughly enjoyable review of The Reluctant Widow, Richard. My favorite line was about the film: It needed a lead couple with chemistry and the one in the film gave every appearance of having met while quarreling over a parking space at the studio. Ha! And how wonderful to see the word "brummagem". I'm not sure I agree about the heroines being fools; seems to me they've usually got more wit and a clearer eye than the misguided heroes. I liked this one (Reluctant Widow). My favorite Heyers may be (there are so many possibilities!) Frederica and The Grand Sophy. And I remember getting a big kick out of the exaggerated Yorkshire brogue in The Unknown Ajax. I did love These Old Shades, too.

I'm sorry to hear that Eleanor Oliphant was a Pearl-rule for you; the book really comes around to treat her well in the second half. But it is tough to endure in the beginning, I remember that.

Feb 3, 10:27pm Top

>88 richardderus: Devil's Cub and These Old Shades are two of my particular favorites. I have a soft spot for Faro's Daughter because it's my first Heyer, and I still have my original now-ratty Bantam edition.

Edited: Feb 4, 12:15am Top

9 The Making of the African Queen by Katharine Hepburn

Rating: 5* of five

The African Queen starred Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, and was released wide in 1952. If you don't know what it is, or why you should care about it, nothing I say hereinafter will make one drop of sense to you, and you'd far better use your eyeblinks elsewhere. Remember to shut the screen door not slam it! Papaw's nerves are raggedy at this hour of the day.

Katharine Hepburn was the Meryl Streep of her time. Well regarded, blessed with talent, a bit upper-crusty in her roles. When the story of the making of The African Queen begins, she is treading the boards in Shakespearean stuff and, frankly, pretty bored. She needs a challenge to spark her inner V-16 engine. A call comes to her friend's home, where she's staying...there's a script based on a novel...nothing new...but set in Africa! Yes please, Mr. Producer, send it to me and I shall read forthwith. Read she does; part's great, script's so-so, so....

On page 7, Hepburn writes of her initial meeting with Producer Sam Spiegel, wherein a raft of English actors were discussed for the part of Cockney Charlie Alnutt, and finally Spiegel says, "What about Bogart—he could be Canadian." And there it was, decided. Did getting Hepburn mean Spiegel could now stand a chance to get Bogart? Did it occur to him in a divine revelation on that spot? Was he hell-bent on the casting of both these American actors to play uber-British roles so American audiences would turn out en masse? We know that the Brits put up £250,000 (about $60 million in today's dollars) only after their Film Finance Board overcame demands for Brits to be cast in the British author C.S. Forester's bestselling 1936 novel about Brits in World War I East Africa.

Such are the things producers must concern themselves with and all at the same time, in the same calculation. The film's budget, in today's dollars, was about $100 million and the box office ended up at around $1 billion. But while Producer Spiegel chatted up the excited and eager Miss Hepburn in the kitchen that first day, he had bubkes except a script, a director (the already almost-legendary John Huston), and now a star. But this star, this force of nature Miss Katharine Hepburn, wanted to film this Technicolor all-outdoors vehicle for some major Hollywood egos on location. In Africa, that is. On big African rivers with real, malaria-sodden African mosquitoes and real, bilharzia-causing schistosoma snails. "We'll see," equivocates a rapidly thinning producer; "we'll see it in Africa," responds Miss Famous Actress with Fans, and guess where they filmed it.

Africa is hot. It's big. People in the Belgian Congo don't speak English, and even French is touch-and-go. Getting to Africa took days on planes, weeks on boats. Getting Technicolor cameras to Arizona was a huge deal! The mind boggles, the spirit quails, to imagine getting these multi-million-1951-dollar monsters to Africa! Not to mention two movie stars. Assorted crew, camera operators, thousands of props, safe drinking water, food...a director whose gun fetish and desire to murder elephants must be coddled...rich Americans all, and not a little high-handed even among themselves.
We packed our duds and I found myself moving all my odd stools—spears—arrows—chairs—down into the accountant's room on the first floor for him to send to New York for me. Things almost impossible to pack. A stink of a job to foist off on anyone. You remember him—the accountant—the rightful inhabitant of my third-floor room. ... How could I be so awful? Apparently easily.

It's her saving grace that Hepburn, writing this book in the 1980s, realized that she was a Bigfoot stomping all over everyone. Didn't stop her, probably wouldn't if she'd gone again, but really now is any celebrity likely to behave differently? Not often.

The shoot is huge. The crew isn't all in place when they arrive. The advance construction of different things must needs be torn down and rebuilt, the piece supposed to fit here don't fit there, in short the bog-standard common-as-pigtracks problems of doing a complicated thing in a limited amount of time. Miss Hepburn acts as costume lady, invents a solution to wilting-chapeau syndrome (super creative, impressed me a lot), seamstresses, does hair...
I never have a permanent, for it makes {hair} feel funny, it makes it smell, and I'm a sort of impractical character. Love the feeling of soft, clean hair. Can't remember that anyone ever made a comment, certainly not either of those jerks. But please yourself and at least someone is pleased.

"Those jerks" are Bogie and John Huston, Hepburn's costar and director. Her friends. She has little enough to say about Bogart, a good deal more to say about Bacall who came with him but not all of it kind. She's also not kind about Huston's inability to be on time, his indifference to the reality of others' feelings, emotions, existence, his bloodlust. But beginning on page 81 and ending on page 83, Miss Hepburn the journeyman actress recalls Director Huston's performance notes on Rosie Sayer's unsmiling, serious countenance. How hard it is to watch a serious face for so long...how Mrs. Roosevelt, an unhandsome lady, dealt with a similar issue.

And Miss Hepburn the journeyman actress, writing at a distance of thirty-five years, still lights up at the memory of receiving her entire performance in a short, simple, perfectly observed and conveyed image from a genius of image-making. She went on to make the film on a perfect note, sustained throughout by the single conversation and its illuminating insight. It is the most gorgeous moment in the book.

There aren't a lot of anecdotes in the book, the kind you'll whip out at parties to improve the shining hour, but there are lovely and honest observations, a lot of unnoticed privilege behind her quite self-aware self-regard, and photos. Lots of them...forty-five...from a man called Alfred E. Lemon, and some from a Life magazine photographer called Eliot Elisofon. The permissions must've taken forever to clear. The text design is clear and simple, using Garamond type and generous white space around the scattered halftone reproductions, including both endsheets. The binding is smyth-sewn with real cloth on the boards.

The book is as much an artifact of a vanished world as is the film it describes, as is the now-gone writer of this personal and charming memoir. Time pressed on her, those years so clear in memory but so distant in time, still eagerly sought by the Fans:
It's strange being a movie actor. The product goes out—it's popular—it's unpopular—or it's somewhere in between. And it's always to me a real part of myself. I mean it represents my own decision to do it: Was I wise? Was I dumb? I've tried never to do anything just for the money. I do it because I love it—the idea and the characters. And, my oh my, it is great when you—when the people like it too and make it theirs—that is the real reward.

So, suddenly, thirty-five years have rushed by. Bogie has gone. {Sam} Spiegel {the producer} has gone. The Queen herself is still alive--so are John {Huston} and Betty {Bacall} and Peter {Viertel, the German boat captain} and I.

It's hard to get old and lose people, and places, and memories that meant something are increasingly one's own unshareable treasures. What matters, in the end? Is it something anyone can see or is it something so buried there's never going to be another soul who sees it whole and entire?

Katharine Hepburn was a star, but more, she was a genius because she had an answer to that question, one that most people (I think) can agree with and buy into. It is her last word on the topic of this book.
Now, what do you suppose ever happened to Charlie and Rosie? Where did they live? Did they stay in Africa? I always thought they must have. And lots of little Charlies and Rosies. And lived happily ever after. Because that's what we wanted them to do. And every summer they take a trip in the old Queen--and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh....

Feb 4, 12:21am Top

>89 jnwelch: Heh, thanks for noticing my somewhat astringent derision about the film's leads. They really wore my socks for me. And you will never guess what my next Heyer is: The Unknown Ajax! Haw.

If I had to get through stuff I was very unhappy about reading to get to the good stuff, I wasn't likely to like the read anyway.

>90 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! You sent me your copies of Devil's Cub and These Old Shades, remember? Or anyway sent me copies of them, I can't be certain they were your own personal copies. I love them! They're so...scintillating. So full of startling and bright and luminous language. *happy sigh*

Edited: Feb 4, 1:06am Top

Regency romances annoy me, Heyers less so. I actually went out and bought The Foundling because the hero ran counter to her usual type. Other than that, I can pick her books up once in a while and enjoy it, but then I'm not likely to read another for a while after that.

Feb 4, 12:53am Top

>93 humouress: It's telling to me that, even without a taste for the genre, you're still willing to enjoy Heyer's work for the pleasures intrinsic to it.

Feb 4, 1:11am Top

My sister went through a Regency/ Heyer phase when we were in our teens (her excuse being she was going to compare them to Austen, until I pointed out they weren't her contemporaries) and I, of course, would read voraciously whatever I could get my hands on, even though she tried to hide the books from me. So I have read a few, in my day, and I know that there are a lot of LT fans so I'm willing to give her a go every now and then.

Feb 4, 2:39am Top

>91 richardderus: We watched this movie not too long ago. I am intrigued by her take on the whole process. On the list it goes.

Feb 4, 3:53am Top

Feb 4, 8:57am Top

‘Morning, RD! Have you started Last Friends? I don’t remember where you are in the trilogy.

>91 richardderus: Oh, how I love this book! It’s upstairs in my Retreat, just waiting for a re-read. And Jenna and I watched The African Queen over the Christmas holiday because she’s open to old classics. She loved it, as I always have. I had really forgotten how good it is, though.

The second part of the title: or How I went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and almost lost my mind is pretty cool, too.

>92 richardderus: I absolutely do not remember sending those to you, RD, but good for me! The Unknown Ajax is 7th in my top eight.

Devil's Cub
Faro's Daughter
The Nonesuch
The Quiet Gentleman
The Talisman Ring
The Toll-Gate
The Unknown Ajax
These Old Shades

*smooch* from your own Horrible

Feb 4, 8:58am Top

>91 richardderus: I don't read many "celebrity" books, but I did admire Katharine Hepburn. I probably won't be reading the book, but I'm glad it was a 5 star read for you.

Feb 4, 9:24am Top

The African Queen was one of my mother's favorite movies and I have happy memories of watching it with her. I think she had a crush on Charlie.

Feb 4, 10:17am Top

>95 humouress: I think Heyer's mysteries would appeal to you, Nina, so permaybehaps take a gander at Envious Casca if you haven't.

>96 mahsdad: It's a really good read, to me, because it's not deeply detailed and chock-full of minutiae. It's Miss Star Lady's memories, and her really quite effective narrative voice, not the Making of The African Queen, that make the book memorable.

And the photos.

>97 Berly: *smooch*

Feb 4, 10:25am Top

>98 karenmarie: Hey Horrible! *smooch*

I am, as I mentioned elsewhere, planning to read The Unknown Ajax as my next Heyer. I'm much relieved to know that it's on your Index as Nihil Obstat.

Last Friends? I think it's around here somewhere...why, should I dig it out for some reason?

>99 thornton37814: Ya know, Lori, I don't know that it's a must-read for anyone not deeply fascinated by midcentury pop culture and film in particular. Safe to pass! Thanks for stopping in.

>100 katiekrug: I think lotsa folks had crushes on Charlie. He was a staunch and valiant soul despite his foibles, and that's always addictive to those surrounded by...lesser lights.

Feb 4, 11:45am Top

Lovely review of the Hepburn book, Richard! She was such a cool lady, privilege and all.

The Unknown Ajax is in my top 5 of Heyer, the others being:

The Grand Sophy
The Devil's Cub

Next in line are:
These Old Shades
The Masqueraders
False Colours
Friday's Child

Feb 4, 11:58am Top

>102 richardderus: Nobody here on LT has me zooming over to duckduckgo (as opposed to google, which I shun) as much as you, dear RD. Nihil Obstat indeed. (VW, on the other hand, is most certainly on my Index...)

Feb 4, 1:51pm Top

>103 ronincats: Thank you, Roni! I've owned that book for over 30 years and never written a review...why, I wonder, when I love it so? But there it is, done at last!

That's an impressive ranking. I can't ever settle on ranks for books, I have a hard enough time making up my mind how many stars are going onto its little fanny.

>104 karenmarie: And aren't we all thrilled to *have* search engines and online dictionaries. Not that I ever minded flipping through the tree-book dictionary, not even a little bit.


VW. This means...?

Feb 4, 3:00pm Top

Wonderful review of The Making of the African Queen, my friend. We loved that movie. I’m not sure I’ll ever read this book, but I sure enjoyed the review. Thumber being applied.

Feb 4, 3:18pm Top

>106 jnwelch: Thank you, Joe, it's nice of you to say so. I don't think the book is a must-read. I love it because reasons, but I'm no evangelist for its inclusion on every list or in every film-goer's heart.

snort imagine not reading the Beatified Hepburn's Sacred Prose when one can such a waste ::eyeroll::

Feb 4, 3:22pm Top


Thinking big LitCrit thoughts after my meeting with Mentor yesterday.

Feb 4, 3:34pm Top

Take notes of these thoughts in concrete form for future reference.

Feb 4, 4:26pm Top

Great review of The Making of the African Queen. I read this a couple of decades ago, and remember really enjoying it. I should revisit it. Did you ever watch any of Dick Cavett's interviews with Hepburn? If not, they are absolutely priceless. What a class act she was. An absolute one of a kind!

Happy Monday, Richard. I am just having a quiet afternoon with the books.

Edited: Feb 4, 4:36pm Top

>110 msf59: Thanks, Mark, and I speak from experience: The read ages well. I haven't seen any interviews with Miss Hepburn.

Happy happy happy sunshine and toastiness.

Feb 5, 10:33am Top

Hope you get to enjoy a bit of this warmer weather...

Feb 5, 10:53am Top

>112 katiekrug: Warmer! I'm fearing heatstroke after the -21° days, when it's due (here) to hit 50°!!

Scurvy is fascinating.

Feb 5, 6:09pm Top

Happy late-in-the-day Tuesday, RD!

I was quite busy today AND have just finished Last Friends.

>105 richardderus: Rocks and a river.

Feb 6, 8:47am Top

>114 karenmarie: Horrible dear! Lovely to see you about 14 hours later.

I'm going to chisel in a complete read of Old Filth's trilogy for March or April. I liked Last Friends and I appreciate Gardam's glorious language, and I want the whole experience all at the same time. I've read them piecemeal over the years. Now let's see what's what when I give them a power-read.
It was 60°/15C yesterday; today it's going to be 42°/5C. The latter is normal for this place and time. I'm happy I had a lovely spring day to walk to the library in yesterday and today, while chilly, is sunny so I'm pretty much as happy as I can get. But a twenty-degree drop is, well, harsh.

Scurvy is nowhere near as much fun as I thought it would be. So to speak.

Feb 6, 9:00am Top

15º? Hot stuff!

Feb 6, 9:09am Top

It was! Also weird, after last week's scary -22°/-30C.

Feb 6, 9:24am Top

Yesterday *was* lovely. It was nice to hear kids playing outside again.

Feb 6, 9:26am Top

I'm perfectly happy with today's weather, but yesterday was a lovely apology gift from the Weather Goddess.

Feb 6, 9:27am Top

Happy Hump Day, RD!

Edited: Feb 6, 9:32am Top

'Morning, RichardDear!

>115 richardderus: I am quite sure that I'll do a power read of the entire trilogy sometime 'soon' - perhaps early next year. I read them in December, January, and February. Close, but not enough to really get them subtleties and overall story. I'll be looking forward to your review (hint, there). If it's anything at all like your review of The African Queen, I'll be happy for weeks.

Feb 6, 9:56am Top

>120 ChelleBearss: Hi Chelle! Thanks, you too.

>121 karenmarie: *smooch*

I promise faithfully to write "I likeded it" when I'm done with the Gardams.

Feb 6, 10:56am Top

PR3 Scurvy by Stephen R. Bown


Rating: 1.5* of five

I'm callin' it. No more. I KNOW THAT ASCORBIC ACID IS THE ANSWER IT'S THE 21ST GODDAMNED CENTURY so tell me how people who *couldn't* have known it was ascorbic acid firgured it out without saying it's ascorbic acid EVERY MOTHERFUCKIN PAGE. Cartier could've saved tens of thousands of lives with the white-cedar bar tea discovery. Boo hiss on him for not doing it.

The full star is for the subject of the book causing me to learn that scurvy is on the raise among gastric-bypass surgery recipients. And the Cartier discovery, I'd never heard of that or the Iroquois possessing the secret before now.

Feb 6, 11:56am Top

>91 richardderus: Besides knowing that African Queen is a perfect movie and that Katharine Hepburn is a mesmerizing actress, I'm pretty ignorant of the metastory. I had a vague notion that it was John Huston who insisted on filming on location in order to indulge his appetite for game hunting -- which reminds me I ought to watch White Hunter Black Heart sometime. (Have you seen it? Do you recommend?) In any case, I'll add The Making of The African Queen to the Someday Swamp. Thanks for the rec!

Feb 6, 12:26pm Top

>124 swynn: Hi Steve! I recommend the read, though not the film. It was...limp.

Feb 6, 1:05pm Top

Just dropping by to say hello! * waves*

Feb 6, 1:10pm Top

It is 35/~2C here in "sunny" northern California, I am wrapped up in extra layers with my little heater cranked up to "Don't use the microwave at the same time"

Feb 6, 1:11pm Top

>123 richardderus: I can safely say I wasn't remotely interested before your review, but now I'm even less interested

Feb 6, 2:17pm Top

>126 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita! *smooch*

>127 AuntieClio: 35°, poo' widdle punkin preshus. *snort*

>128 AuntieClio: It would never have been a book I'd recommend to you, but now I'll actively warn all y'all off!

Feb 6, 3:19pm Top

10 Articulated Restraint by Mary Robinette Kowal

Rating: 4* of five

Warbled at me by AuntieClio. I attach no epithets to her name because the read is free so blows no hole in my *snicker* "Budget".

A deleted scene from The Calculating Stars that's well worth reading. In spite of pain, in defiance of Proper Procedure, Lady Astronaut Ruby Donaldson works her hardest to save the life of her trapped and desperate friend Myrtle Lindholm.

Author Kowal understands stakes and investment in characters. If you've been chary of committing time to reading these books, try this short piece. If you're not gripped, maybe they're not right for you.

But I'm confident most of y'all will be gripped.

Edited: Feb 6, 4:44pm Top

11 Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce and Edith

Real Rating: 3.75* of five

I confess I remember the novel this comic book...sorry, graphic adaptation...is based on very poorly. It was something I read from the Leona Doss Elementary School library in 1970 or so. It was sold to me as a time-travel story, so I was down...then I read it and it was all soppy and sweet. Yuck.

So now that I'm fifty years older, what did I think of the read? It's fine. I'm less averse to soppiness and sentiment. I'm not all that enamoured of Edith's illustrations, to be frank. They're pleasant, that's really the best thing I can find to say about them.

That's pretty typical. I'm not blown away.

So reading a comic book (standard disclaimer) still isn't the go-to amusement for me. It's fine, I'm not sorry I reacquainted myself with the story and honestly it's probably all to the good that I didn't re-attempt the original. The days ahead number ever fewer and spending them pursuing middling memories of moderately unhappy times? No thanks. Y'all go on ahead into this wooded area of fancy-schmancy comics, I'll be back here on the croquet lawn of tree books or up yonder at the entertainment center of ebooks.

Feb 6, 4:41pm Top

I love your review of Scurvy. While the subject might ha e drawn me in because I like historical science books, this one clearly ain’t for me.

So thank you, Dear Young Man, for suffering few at least some of it.

Feb 6, 4:45pm Top

>132 bohemima: I take care of my peeps, sweetiedarling. I think your organizing streak would itch to the point of madness if you made the journey through this book.

Feb 6, 6:39pm Top

>130 richardderus: Oh, thank you, Richard! I just finished The Fated Sky and haven't looked around Tor for the other stories I hear are out there. That was a good one.

It's a winter day in San Diego. There's snow in them there mountains and it was 52 degrees when we left the house at 10. Not going to hit 60 today--I had on a sweater AND a jacket!

Feb 6, 6:44pm Top

>134 ronincats: You're welcome, but direct the luuuuv to Stephanie. She located the story in the first place.

Fifty-two! Brr. ::eyeroll::

Feb 6, 7:09pm Top

Feb 6, 7:25pm Top

>123 richardderus: I love when you hate a book. LOL. Great review!

>136 BBGirl55: Purrrrrfect!

Feb 6, 8:31pm Top

>136 BBGirl55: Oh. A c-a-t. How...it's...there, isn't it.

>137 Berly: Heh, glad my outrage has the power to amuse and inform.

Feb 6, 11:43pm Top

I’m glad you tried the comic book version, I mean, graphic adaptation of Tom’s Midnight Garden. I love that story. Yeah, the illustrations are fine but not exceptional. The two adapters did convey the story well.

Feb 7, 9:07am Top

>139 jnwelch: I don't remember the novel anywhere near well enough to say that, but I'm glad to know it. It was a pleasant way to spend an hour. I'm not called to do it again any time soon, but that's always the case with comic books. In fact I have another, far bulkier, comic book waiting for me: Twists of Fate, a welcome corrective to my US-centric trove of information about WWII.

Feb 7, 9:18am Top

'Morning, RD!

I will happily pass on >131 richardderus: although I'm going to make my second foray into a comic book, er, GN, Kindred sometime this week. It's a liberry book, so sooner than later is important. Just read the original book by Octavia Butler, of course, so can compare from memory.

*smooch* from Madame TVT Horrible

Feb 7, 9:42am Top

Hiya Horrible. Was just chez vous with some coffee and donuts. Happy Thursday!

Feb 7, 12:17pm Top

Sweet Thursday, Richard. It is a wet one here, so I am glad to be enjoying the day off. I am also enjoying The Calculating Stars on audio. A nice diversion, to my work day. I hope you are having a good one.

Feb 7, 12:29pm Top

>143 msf59: Hey Mark, glad to see you here. Not too bad here today, thankfully, though I'm still not going out. Too much effort expended yesterday = ouchies today. It's a great feeling not to *have* to go out and do specific things!

Feb 7, 12:32pm Top

Good Afternoon, BigDaddy! I love your review of Hepburn's memoir about the making of The African Queen. I read that several years ago and found it delightful. Anyway, I gave your review my thumb. For you I leave my love. And some soft pretzels because snack time:

Feb 7, 12:33pm Top

>145 Crazymamie: *smooch*

Hey, does the mustard have horseradish in? I love horseradishy mustard on my pretzels!

Feb 7, 12:41pm Top

But of course!

Feb 7, 12:41pm Top

*smooch back*

Feb 7, 3:17pm Top

Maybe you will share those pretsels and horseradish mustard? Please?

Feb 7, 3:25pm Top

>147 Crazymamie:, >148 Crazymamie: Let the revels begin!

>149 katiekrug: ...oh dear...

Speak up sooner or the Mighty Jaws do their work!

Feb 7, 5:04pm Top

never quite understood people who put mustard on a pretzel.

Feb 7, 5:16pm Top

>151 magicians_nephew: If I could I'd stuff pretzels with mustard. But then I used to make mustard and pickle sandwiches, so probably incomprehensible.

Feb 7, 6:16pm Top

>151 magicians_nephew: Why else would one eat pretzels?

>152 quondame: I eat big kosher dills as snacks, dipped in mustard; possibly even more incomprehensible.

Feb 7, 7:23pm Top

I've felt this way the majority of my life.

Feb 7, 10:47pm Top

>123 richardderus: and >137 Berly: I also love it when you hate a book. I love how you calls 'em like you sees 'em.

>154 richardderus: Yep.

>131 richardderus: It turns out that I also love it when you think a book is, well, fine.

And I don't have an example right in front of me, but I know I love it when you love a book!

Keep writing 'em, Richard. You're one of the best.

Feb 7, 10:53pm Top

>154 richardderus: tru dat ... I finally learned my lesson

Edited: Feb 8, 12:27am Top

>155 EBT1002: Heh...what about my warble of joy in >91 richardderus:? Hm?

>156 AuntieClio: It takes years, I guess...if I could go change a thing in my life, it'd be this one.

Feb 8, 8:05am Top

I loved comic books and collected them as a kid, and still do. I lost interest when they started to be called graphic novels.

Moving this weekend! Whoo-hoo!

Feb 8, 8:15am Top

'Morning RD!

>154 richardderus: Yes.

Mustard. It's good on pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and with corned beef and cabbage. (note the deafening silence on other things I think it's good on)

I eat big kosher dills as snacks, dipped in mustard; possibly even more incomprehensible. *smooches* to you, even with the visual of dill pickles dipped in mustard. I eat cold B&M Brick Oven Vegetarian Baked beans with red wine vinegar. Also probably incomprehensible.

Feb 8, 12:47pm Top

>158 SomeGuyInVirginia: I was never forbidden to have comic books, but Mama favored my taste for books by taking me to the library frequently, and to the used bookstore only slightly less frequently. Comic books were never mentioned; when I read others' comic books, they seemed to be over so soon and, for the same quarter, I could have a *whole*novel*! When I shared this insight with her, Mama said, "that's an excellent point, daaaahliiiiin, value for money should always matter."

Et voila, here I sit in a 200sq ft space with hundreds and hundreds of books.

>159 karenmarie: *chuckle* I'm much more mustardy than you, obviously, but that's not unusual. I myownself use apple cider vinegar in my baked beans...which I prefer hot and mixed with rice. And mustard. Oh, and salad dressing: Italian herb blend, tablespoon of brown mustard, oil & balsamic vinegar! Loves me some tart flavors.


Feb 8, 1:29pm Top

12 The A. B. C. Murders by Agatha Christie

**2018 UPDATE**
There's yet another unnecessary, unwanted remake of this book into a 3-part miniseries being made; John Malkovich will appear as Poirot, which is as ludicrous as that Brannagh dude and his mustachios appearing in the unnecessary, unwanted remake of Murder on the Orient Express that carbuncled itself onto screens last year.

Rupert Grint, of Harry Potter fame, will also appear. Amazon Prime will stream in the US, though I'm not sure about international markets. End of this year.

Why they can't leave it with David Suchet, who filmed all the Poirot stories in 25 years as the little Belgian, I cannot fathom. He **was** Poirot. *annoyed sigh*

2019 UPDATE I watched the Amazon Prime 3-part adaptation. It wasn't at all bad. I still think of Suchet as Poirot, but wasn't distracted by Malkovich in the role as I worried I might be. His Poirot is very different from the canonical one. Not bad, please understand, just different; his moustaches are infinitely preferable to the pogonotical heresy sported by Branagh in the recent feature film of Murder on the Orient Express.

There is a new, and divisive, backstory to the character; Malkovich's Belgian accent is superior to almost all the preceding efforts; the production was possessed of some annoying (to me) anachronisms (eg, a Woody Herman tune from 1939 being used in a 1933 setting, a china pattern I know from my years selling the stuff was introduced in 1960) but overall was beautifully conceived to convey the despair of the time.

I was inspired by the series to zip through the book again, and found it to be one of the top quality Christie efforts. Hastings, our narrator, has just returned from South America; he delivers us the the story with all the verve of Boswell reporting on Johnson's aperçus. Hastings is also, in the way of informing the reader, attempting to put himself in the head of the killer. It's not the ordinary run of the mill technique used in the Poirot books and I, for one, am pleased that's the case. It's not unsuccessful, exactly, to tell the story this way. It's obtrusive, and calls attention to the story as being told. So there one is, listening to one's rather dull cousin talking about how clever someone else is. It's not the smoothest reading experience, but it's quite effective as used in this particular story.

I was again struck by the great usefulness of Hastings as a narrator, and am sad to report that he is absent from this filmed version; Inspector Japp's fate, dealt with here in a cursory way, is at variance from the book; Cust's issues and their resolution are very much changed for no particular reason that I can see; and Rupert Grint's Inspector Crome is a nasty little man, eaten alive by jealousy and petty grievance. It was actually a perfect foil for Malkovich's performance.

So I'll eat my 2018 words and say this *isn't* an unnecessary and unwanted remake of the Suchet-era version (which, if I'm honest, isn't all that). It's a different, darker, and curiously unpleasant take on a top-flight Christie novel.

Feb 8, 1:32pm Top

>161 richardderus: - Oooh, good timing! I'm currently reading this one, as I noticed the new version available streaming and wanted to watch it (love me some John Malkovich) but Had To Read The Book First. Not reading your comments, lest there be anything even slightly spoiler-y....

Feb 8, 1:39pm Top

>162 katiekrug: Good decision! On all counts, to be clear. I hope you like the watch and read.

Feb 8, 2:06pm Top

Good review of the ABC Murders miniseries. I'm sure our daughter was all over that one, so I'll get her take when we get home. That one of Dame Agatha's better books, IMO.

Feb 8, 2:18pm Top

>164 jnwelch: Thanks, Joe, it's got a lot of stuff that Dame Agatha didn't give it but the filmed version is a good story...though it's also slightly unpleasant...and I'm sure that's intentional, which is why I didn't downgrade my rating. It might be a good way to wile away some plane time returning home, if planes offer such amenities.

Feb 8, 2:32pm Top

Good hot mustard on Kosher Hot Dogs - too

Feb 8, 2:37pm Top

>166 magicians_nephew: Yes! Absolutely agreed.

Edited: Feb 8, 3:24pm Top

>158 SomeGuyInVirginia: >159 karenmarie: >160 richardderus: >160 richardderus: Comic books, pickles, mustard, and vinegar, Oh My! My house is bursting with comic books, graphic novels, my fridge is jostling with mustard and pickles (I'm rather fond of Japanese pickles) and vinegar is a much maligned condiment. I haven't heard of putting it on baked beans, but then I've never encountered another family that required it, with onions and cheddar, on chili. I tend to tart up dumpling dipping sauces with rice vinegar.

Feb 8, 3:49pm Top

>168 quondame: Yum! My dumpling sauce-tarter-upper is soy sauce. Happy to see you here, Susan.

Feb 8, 3:59pm Top

>169 richardderus: Chili paste+soy sauce (or pon sauce)+rice vinegar+mirrin. Yumm. I'm always lurking about.

Feb 8, 4:17pm Top

Yes indeed, that's very yum!

Feb 8, 8:31pm Top

13 The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

Rating: 3.75* of five

Not bad...not bad at all...fast and loose with some details, speculations presented as facts, but it's a novel. The facts being pretty well known, I don't feel the need to recap them. Anne's character is quite modern for the day, but that's likely to be accurate. Anne was a schemer and her world was a bitterly competitive one. I wasn't in any way displeased by the more, shall we say, possessed of agency Anne; I was, however, extremely irked at Mary's characterization. History doesn't know much about her. Author Gregory uses this to give us a limp, depressed, lifeless blur of a girl. She is a damned soul, caught up in plots and schemes she doesn't understand or care about. It's hard to care about her.

George is a major popinjay and utterly lacking in any depth or redeeming qualities. He exists to scheme and preen. So, of course, he's gay BUT possessed of a pash for Anne that enables him to so much as consider incest! What? Huh? It is impossible to know, at this distance in time, the truth of the sexual nature of anyone alive then. Identity constructs like gayness didn't exist then. People did what they did and, if one knew about it, one simply ignored it.

I simply didn't want to be irked by a book, so I'm not giving it a better rating for its interpretations of historical figures as moderns in fancy dress. Because that's what it felt like she was doing.

The 2008 film made of the book was very pretty, starred beautiful actors, had lots of swell excitement in chases and rapes and suchlike. I liked it well enough. I wasn't sad about watching it but wasn't blown away. I got the urge to read the book when I found the film on Netflix; I'm pretty sure that's backwards, but it's become a strong habit for me. I'm not inclined to believe that's wrong.

Feb 8, 8:36pm Top

Happy Friday, Richard. I am home but a bit wind-burn and frostbit, so my energy levels are dwindling. I did have a good time with The Calculating Stars. Maybe, not as crazy about it, as you guys but it was a fun listen.

Feb 8, 9:00pm Top

>173 msf59: Oh. I'm glad you enjoyed The Calculating Stars! It's a series, so it might be a good idea to try the next in the series before allowing it to pass into the misty memory land.

Be warm tomorrow.

Feb 8, 9:07pm Top

R--I haven't read Gregory in years, but I was a definite fan. Glad ABC Murders on Amazon exceeded your expectations. Happy weekend.

Feb 8, 9:30pm Top

>175 Berly: P Gregs didn't make a fan out of me, and the film, well...not something I'd want to watch again.

Feb 8, 11:29pm Top

I would be interested in what you have to say about Philippa Gregory’s Cousins War series. This is the one about the War of the Roses. That series was made into a TV series called THe White Queen.

I read the entire series, but did not watch the series. It didn’t come on my cable package.

Feb 9, 8:29am Top

I remember reading The ABC Murders and thinking it was a really good Christie, but I don't remember a thing about the plot. Which is one of the best things about mysteries.

Malkovitch skeeves me out, he always seems on the edge of cannibalism.

Feb 9, 9:12am Top

Good morning, RD!

>172 richardderus: It sounds like you had a love-hate relationship with this book; or, if that’s too strong, like-dislike. Haven’t seen the movie, have the book on my shelves still on Mount TBR after 11 years. Hmm. Prospects aren’t good for pulling it any time soon.

Between what you wrote here and on Mark’s thread, I’ve persuaded Bill to watch The A.B.C. Murders tonight.

Have a loverly day, and *smooches* from Madame TVT Horrible

Feb 9, 9:44am Top

>177 benitastrnad: That's an interesting challenge. Since P Gregs is a novelist, I'm not inclined to do much more than curl a lip at "inaccuracies" that don't change actual history for convenience's sake...but the Wars of the Roses have so many twists and turns and the facts are genuinely changeable depending on one's allegiance that it's a more fluid situation. Hm. I'll consider it.

>178 SomeGuyInVirginia: The edge of cannibalism! Haw!! That's priceless.

I'm a little surprised that the details of the book didn't stick, but then again I'm not because there's a lot of lit under my belt and much of it is a title and a vague feeling of will, good or ill.

>179 karenmarie: *smooch* Enjoy the watch! The first few scenes will tell the tale: If you don't like those, it's none of it different from there on out.

Feb 9, 9:46am Top

The Other Boleyn Girl was the first Gregory I read - I thought it was good fun. I wasn't concerned about accuracy.

I went on to read her Wideacre trilogy but that's as far as I got with her work.

Feb 9, 11:13am Top

>181 katiekrug: I don't think one should read historical novels as history texts. I am a little more irked by putting modern identities on ancient people because it feels dishonest, like someone who takes up with a lover to "fix" them. That said, I simply didn't like the character P Gregs gave to Mary, whose presence in the historical record is a series of dates therefore making her fair game for any interpretation one wishes.

I don't feel called towards the Wideacre works. You're not sufficiently enthused to make this a warble, so I feel excused!

Feb 9, 1:00pm Top

>182 richardderus: - I really remember very little of it, except that there were some smutty bits.

And yes, you can skip Wideacre and its sequels. Its about a truly awful, loathesome woman - not your favorite sort of fictional (or real life) character!

Feb 9, 2:25pm Top

>183 katiekrug: Ugh! I detest the Scary Old Harlot (Scarlett O'Hara) wimmin. Hard pass.

Feb 9, 2:35pm Top

Hey there, big guy! I read The Other Boleyn Girl but it was so long ago (pre-2006 when I started tracking) that I can't remember what I thought of/rated it. I do know I liked it. I thought The Virgin's Lover (Elizabeth I) and The Queen's Fool (Mary then Elizabeth's court) were good (8/10 & 7/10 stars, respectively) and A Respectable Trade (set in late 1700s Bristol, slave trade) wasn't (5/10 stars.)

Feb 9, 2:46pm Top

>185 Morphidae: Hey Morphy! Happy weekend. I'm not at all convinced I need more P Gregs in my life. This one was enough for me to get the gestalt of her ouevre. (A shorter way to say that is "she only wrote one book.") Libby the One isn't my favorite fictional female, and Contrary the Mary is actively dislikeable. So...no thanks. Once a philosopher.

Feb 9, 2:53pm Top

>186 richardderus: Good to see you're keeping an open mind ;0) (sez I, not having read any of her books).

Feb 9, 2:56pm Top

>187 humouress: Nope, no guilt in closing these books. History was my college major and I get gestalts good n quick.


Feb 9, 3:08pm Top

Not sure how I missed your thread before, Richard. Not even pretending to catch up. I will just wish you a "Happy Saturday!"

Feb 9, 3:11pm Top

>189 alcottacre: Hi Stasia! I wonder constantly how I miss entire threads. It's a consequence of attention being split...socializing, reading, doing life stuff, all of it takes time!

Edited: Feb 9, 4:27pm Top

>182 richardderus: What I enjoy mostly about historical novels is well constructed settings and characters that do think differently - and a minimum of hand wringing women. I grew up on Shellabarger and Sabatini, Sutcliff and Renault plus Georgette Heyer. As an adult I've much preferred Dorothy Dunnett and Cecelia Holland and haven't been able to get through Philippa Gregory or Sharon Kay Penman but enjoyed the Ken Follett book I was given.

Feb 9, 4:32pm Top

>191 quondame: Let's make a stipulation that hand-wringing females get an automatic DNF. TSTL heroines, too. Georgette Heyer's heroines aren't frail fainting flowers in any way, in my observation. I like Dunnett okay, though her unpleasant attitude towards gay men is deeply offensive to me. Part of those times? Okay, leave it out.

I started re-reading Holland's books and found several weren't as terrific as I remembered. I'm chary of starting any more, since Firedrake was my ignition point for realizing I wanted to study deeply the history of our world.

Feb 9, 4:53pm Top

>192 richardderus: It's not surprising that the negative toward gay men mostly went over my head as I was (initially) surprised by (for the 1960s) what seemed to be Lymond's plastic preferences though yes, Aga Norat is one of the baddies and Nicolas really has no plasticity - but who likes to be raped, period. I found the homophobic characters she created as destructive as any those motivated by greed or specifically lust.
Most Holland has a dryness that I can only down in measured bites. Her recent(ish) viking series has a whole different feel and a fantasy undercurrent which doesn't interfere with historical shenanigans.

Feb 9, 5:10pm Top

>193 quondame: I'm sure an argument could be made that the Lymond Chronicles as a whole were groundbreaking just for including male bisexuality and homosexuality as facts of existence. In point of fact, I suspect many readers encountered the concept of it for the first time in her work. To the best of my knowledge, no one has done any sort of analysis of her work using that lens but I wish someone would!

My mother, as an aside, read those books at a great rate of speed and (highly unusually) refused to let me see them. Quite naturally, I went and got them from the library and saw her objection immediately: Men sexin' other men! NO!!!! Don't give the boy Ideas!

It was far too late for that, but I never enlightened her.

Feb 9, 5:21pm Top

>194 richardderus: I didn't encounter the books until much much later - I was 11 when GoK came out and nobody mentioned the humor at all, the like of which I have never encountered, so they were listed as long unlikely historical romances in my mind for 20+ years and introduced me to no notions at all, but I didn't get to the 70s, not even the late 60s not encountering homosexuality, though I had no idea, beyond seeing a high-school classmate bated cruelly by a teacher, both were gay, that the cost was so high, as the two teachers who lived together seemed to my dull mind totally OK with themselves and our community.

Feb 9, 5:31pm Top

>195 quondame: That story is appalling and cruel! I know it happened often. I'm sad for that long-ago friend's suffering. The cost of being yourself is always high in youth. It's never been different.

Feb 9, 5:37pm Top

>172 richardderus: Well that doesn't happen often, Richard, you liked The Other Boleyn Girl much better than I did... It made my worst reads list in 2008.

Edited: Feb 9, 6:10pm Top

>186 richardderus: I wasn’t really being a Philippa-Pusher. I think it was 8 - 10 years ago when I read the last one. I doubt I’ll read anything more of hers.

Feb 10, 11:07am Top

Hi there Richard. Well here's my take away after getting caught up: you didn't finish a few books including Eleanor Oliphant which I pretty much liked, The Making Of The African Queen was a 5 star read and is now firmly on my list, I really need to read something by Georgette Heyer, and I will definitely be watching The ABC Murders on Amazon Prime, possibly this week.

Feb 10, 11:11am Top

>198 Morphidae: No no, Morphy dear, not pushing as in "shoving something at," pushing as in "sweetly warbling the virtues of." Entirely different pushes!

>199 brenzi: Hi Bonnie! I'm really happy you're going to read The Making of the African Queen! That is a must, IMO, for people in our age cohort. I warn you in advance: The Malkovich Poirot is polarizing.

Edited: Feb 10, 7:18pm Top

Jeez.... I knew I was behind but 200 posts behind, Whew!.

>57 richardderus: - Oh dear. You Pearl-ruled Eleanor Oliphant. ;-( At least your next read >70 richardderus: was more enjoyable. I do love Heyer's Regency books. Fabulous review!

>115 richardderus: - Power read the Gardam trilogy! I plan to do so as well as I have only read Old Filth and want to read the trilogy. It will be fun to compare notes, although I have no idea when I will get around to reading them myself.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead, RD.

Feb 10, 1:18pm Top

>190 richardderus: I am facing an uphill battle where threads are concerned. Between work, gaming, trying to get books read, and chronic fatigue syndrome which is making me sleep at least 11 hours just to function, I am never going to get caught up at any point. Long gone are the days when I read every thread, every day. *sigh*

Feb 10, 4:23pm Top

>200 richardderus: Ha! There are a good couple hundred authors I'd warble before Gregory!

Feb 10, 5:49pm Top

Hallo RD!

Having read and reread everything Dame Agatha wrote with Poirot and having always avoided TV or movie adaptations (except for the execrable Murder on the Orient Express, I actually did not mind The A.B.C. Murders at all. I think I mentally took it as a standalone effort and did not think "egg-shaped head', "little grey cells" or even Where Was Hastings? after the first couple of minutes. And Rupert Grint as Crome worked very well for me - it's the best acting he's ever done, IMO, and I have hopes for him.

It worked for me although the flashbacks and implications that he was a priest are mind-boggling and NOTHING I've ever picked up in any of the books or thought about even remotely as a back story for him. I think the books paint a consistent and 'verifiable' case of his being a detective in Belgium prior to the war although I don't remember why he became a refugee. I'm re-reading The A.B.C. Murders again and am on chapter 14 and am looking for implications which I think I will not find. And, strangely, it doesn't bother me.

Feb 10, 7:09pm Top

>201 lkernagh: Hi Lori! Eleanor and I were incompatible. I understand that, later in the book, my disgust at what seems to me to be mean-spirited laughing at her becomes redeemed, but I say one can't redeem the inexcusable.

I'm not sure when my own power read of Gardam will occur but will announce it here when I've decided.

>202 alcottacre: My dear lady! Take care of YOU FIRST!! If that means less time for LT, then that's the cost and we'll all understand and help you pay it. I'll come announce reviews to you so you can decide when to hop in, if you decide to do it at all. Better you should be healthy than "caught up."

>203 Morphidae: I can well imagine. Me too, as it happens. :-)

>204 karenmarie: That Branagh nonsense was unforgivable. It reeked. I want to use a gallon of Neet on his face to be sure he can't perpetrate those moustachios ever again!

Grint's Crome was dislikeable, but that was the point; my problem was that he's not in the book and I don't see the point of inventing...but there, that's the issue in a nutshell. The filmmakers re-imagined the story, didn't adapt it, and that's a perfectly valid use of the characters.

THAT SAID...the priest thing...that's just weird and left-fieldy. I wasn't exactly happy about it, since it makes Poirot a liar and a coward and those are two things I can not imagine him being. All in all, as a reimagining of Poirot, it balances out slightly on the positive side in my graces.

Feb 10, 9:47pm Top

OMG the Travelers ... into Season 3 now

Feb 10, 10:16pm Top

But RD, Crome is in the book. He's even listed in the Cast of Characters. I>Inspector Crome - The official in charge of the case, he has an insular air of superiority that rubbed Hastings the wrong way.

So far we don't have Hastings and Betty Barnard's sister Megan is not the dumped former fiancé of Donald Fraser. She lives in London and comes back home when she hears her sister has been murdered. So very many changes... but completely separate from them I enjoyed Mr. Malkovich as M. Poirot. I'm just seriously glad I didn't read the book and then immediately watch it. I've done the opposite.

Feb 10, 10:26pm Top

>206 AuntieClio: Nonononononono! I haven't started 3 yet!!

>207 karenmarie: ...he is...? I am fading faster than I thought. I had Japp in the role in my head. Oh well, sic transit gloria mentii.

Feb 11, 4:14am Top

I like Robert Graves' historical novels, but you're right they are not history.

Feb 11, 7:54am Top

Good morning, RichardDear!

The only reason I know that about Crome is that I'm reading it right now. As my MiL used to say "I miss my mind." and as my husband says "CRS". (can't remember shit)

Feb 11, 8:23am Top

>209 SomeGuyInVirginia: They have the gravitas of Truth, but we're not wise to trust even the best fiction to inform us about Fact.

>210 karenmarie: *smooch* I miss my mind as well...but memory lapses like that are not really disturbing...since the last time I read The A.B.C. Murders, I've read over 500 other books! No wonder Crome vanished.

Feb 11, 10:19am Top

>210 karenmarie: I say "mental moment".

Morning, BigDaddy! As always, I loved reading through your reviews. Rae and I are wanting to watch that ABC Murders adaptation. I'll have to come back and read through the spoilers once we have done so.

Feb 11, 10:41am Top

>212 Crazymamie: I'm eager to hear what y'all think of it, dearest, so please come tell me when the deed is done. *smooch*

Feb 11, 11:43am Top

Another, oh hey! Look at me! My review of Lime Street by David Jaher is in the latest issue of Claims Department


Feb 11, 11:59am Top

>214 AuntieClio: Brava! So pleased for you. Trenchant review...though I'd've liked some examples of Jaher's writing. Would've strengthened your case against him as not quite up to the job of the book.

Feb 11, 12:50pm Top

Nice review - and pretty well what I remember of the book.

Feb 11, 1:20pm Top

>216 drneutron: Thanks, Jim...but which book?

Feb 11, 2:12pm Top

>217 richardderus: Oh, sorry - was referring to Stephanie’s book review. Too quick fingers... 😀

Feb 11, 2:14pm Top

>218 drneutron: OIC Yeah!

Feb 11, 4:20pm Top

>210 karenmarie: >212 Crazymamie: aka “brain fart”

*snorts* Autocorrect tried to turn that into “brain fairy.”

Feb 11, 4:33pm Top

Hilary Mantel's two books about Cromwell have a very modern take on the Boylyn girls - Anne is seem as a jumped up Valley Girl out for what she could get and her sister was just trying to keep her head down and trying to survive.

I'm not a big Gregory fan - don't mind extrapolations and guesswork DO mind intellectual laziness.

Feb 11, 5:08pm Top

>220 Morphidae: :-D

>221 magicians_nephew: Exactly. I mind not doing the minimum amount of thinking that makes a story cohere. "If I make this person sound period, does that mean they all must sound period?" Not that complicated a query to pose but with huuuuuge ramifications based on the answer.

Edited: Feb 11, 8:50pm Top

Well-Loved Reads from my past The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren

Patricia Nell Warren died at 82. Her gay-male novels of the 1970s (eg this one, The Beauty Queen, The Fancy Dancer) were eye-openers for young queer me. RIP, and thanks.

I've come to think of this as a very flawed book because its heroes don't get anything like their richly earned HEA. True to its times, death stalks them. But before that...transcendent love and not just slaked lust (though there's plenty o' lust-slakin' indeed). Revelatory for my 1976 self. I am sad it never got its movie...Paul Newman optioned it way back when and the bubble machine hit overdrive imagining him as Harlan...but I'm deeply glad it was around in its flawed glory when I was young and impressionable. Love! Ordinary, human love between two men, neither of whom wore marabou or make-up!

And then that ending. I think rising sea-levels started when gay guys hit the last three chapters of this book. It *still* hurts forty-three years later to think of the ending. My goodness, I'm even tearing up, I can not believe just remembering it affects me so profoundly!

Patricia Nell Warren, you did real good.

Feb 11, 9:59pm Top

It's been a while since I visited your thread, Richard. Lots of catching up done. I am currently reading Elinor Oliphant for book club, well reading it when I can bring myself to pick it up, that is. I couldn't quite put my finger on what bothers me about the book but I think you summed it up. I intend to finish by taking it in small doses. Things went better with Gone Girl, I abandoned that one after a chapter or maybe two.

Feb 11, 11:18pm Top

>224 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg! I'm happy to see you here. I'm just not down with the Forrest-Gump-iness of it all. As for Gone Girl, be grateful you didn't experience that ending! They changed it for the movie, but it wasn't enough to make it an enjoyable experience.

Feb 12, 8:32am Top

Good morning, RD!


not enough coffee.


I don't have anything else to say. But, *smooch* from your own Madame TVT Horrible

Feb 12, 9:11am Top

>226 karenmarie: Hi Horrible!

I grok. I so so grok. *smooch*

Feb 12, 9:14am Top

>227 richardderus: Mmmm. Drinking by the bucketful today!

Feb 12, 9:15am Top

>228 ChelleBearss: Me too, Chelle, me too. Hope it kicks in soon for us both.

Feb 12, 9:22am Top

G'morning, Richard! Are you expected to get the snow/sleet from this storm on the coast?

Feb 12, 9:25am Top

Hi Katie! Likely to get a wintry mix, but most likely not to cause any noticeable accumulation. I'm blanketed and supplied so rage on, sez I.

Feb 12, 9:26am Top

Ah, very nice. Stay warm and happy reading to you!

Feb 12, 9:40am Top

Morning, BigDaddy! Hoping your day is full of lazy.

Feb 12, 10:29am Top

Stay dry and warm me friend!

Feb 12, 10:35am Top

>232 katiekrug: It is indeed! My dear YGC is heading over now to supply me with donuts. The final ingredient for a decadent day.

>233 Crazymamie: *stretch* ...hmm? I was napping, did you speak?

>234 SomeGuyInVirginia: I am! How went the move?

Feb 12, 1:03pm Top

I can't catch up. I just can't. I hope all is well and I haven't missed anything too awful or awesome and that all is well.

Also, have you read Hallucinating Foucault? I'd be interested to know what you thought of it (I suspect either love or hate...).

Feb 12, 1:39pm Top

>236 BekkaJo: Don't! And don't fret about it, just start again wherever you are. Nothing, but nothing, is worth your precious remaining shreds of sanity to feel pressured to "catch up."

Nope, never heard of Hallucinating Foucault, but the county system has 3 copies and one's on the way to me now. Curse you! *weakly shaken fist*

Feb 12, 6:49pm Top

Wow! I have not been by in a few days! I hope all is well and that you are surviving this last round, of crappy weather. I am so done with winter. One more full season of this epic evilness, and I can join my retired companions, who get to watch it from indoors.

Feb 12, 10:22pm Top

I'm sore as all get-out from the changes in weather but yeah, pretty much an indoor cat therefore quite roasty-toasty. Soon you'll be among us.

Feb 13, 9:52am Top

14 Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: Hailed as “a combination of Eloise and Sherlock Holmes” by The Boston Globe, Flavia de Luce returns in a much anticipated new Christmas mystery from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Alan Bradley.

In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.

My Review: What?! ::incoherent word salad::
Yes, that's right, this book ended on a note that raised within me the Category 5 hurricane of outrage and indignation. I won't discuss what it was because it would make me utterly completely furious to know this turn of events before I got there and would, indeed, sour me on the read altogether.

Because it's a very sour thing that happens.

As is his habit, Author Bradley (that dreadful gong farmer {see text for this *hilarious* new old insult} whose misdeeds I'm not quickly going to forgive) starts with Flavia making wonderfully trenchant observations:
There are those persons, I suppose, who would criticize me for loving a chicken to distraction, but to them I can only say "Boo and sucks!" The love between animal and human is one that never fails, as it does so often among our own sorry tribe.

Thus Flavia on the first problem she encounters when returned from Canada to the loving embrace of her homeland and family. The combination of childish taunt with accurate character assessment of our species is the trademark thing this series offers. It's clearly a taste, and not everyone's favorite. I confess to needing a long break after As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust, a most unsatisfactory entry into the series that left me disgruntled if not outright annoyed. I didn't like the silliness of the Nide and its cover story. But there one is, a long-running series must make an effort to freshen itself up if not reinvent itself or the dreaded series sag will set in.

Flavia's current case, which she must solve before the winter of 1951 ends (references are made to "His Majesty" and to Christmas, so it's before 6 February 1952 when George VI died), is the death of a strange duck named Sambridge. Flavia discovers his body in a completely unexpected way, exactly as one would expect. Being a sleuth to her core she uses her only chance to view the crime scene to observe many details but seems not to have a lot of joy from them. Her strangest find is a book that belonged or belongs to a girl with whom she's acquainted, one Carla Sherrinford-Cameron, whose ghastly pretentious artsy-fartsyness causes Flavia actual pain:
Carla Sherrinford-Cameron, her hands clasped together at her waist like lobster's claws, was singing "The Lass with the Delicate Air," and I found myself wishing that I had thought to bring a firearm with me—although whether to put Carla out of her misery or to do away with myself, I had not quite yet decided.

(That's a song I have to admit made me wince even when Julie Andrews emitted it.) But what was the dreadful Carla's book doing at the scene of old Mr. Sambridge's murder? Why was he murdered? What significance does his quite strange habit of carving weird creatures for churches have?

All in good time. This is Author Bradley's show so we'll let him elucidate his purposes in his own way and at his own pace. The usual suspects are deployed, Inspector and Mrs. Hewitt, Cynthia the vicar's wife, sisters Feely and Daffy, Dogger...all present and accounted for. New series regular, it would seem, is Mrs. Mildred Bannerman late of the Nide. Her assistance to Flavia in this case is invaluable. Why is she taking such an interest in Flavia? Is there a deeper purpose to this lady's presence in England? And what goddess placed a helper whose connections are *the*exact*ones*needed* in Flavia's pursuit of a killer?

I will say I found the resolution to the murder far-fetched and impractical, and a bit less than believable even within the heightened reality I've come to expect from the series. But the major shocker is not even to be hinted at. It is a shocker. But you'll see, series readers. Those joining the party just now: Don't start here. Nothing will make sense, none of the pleasures will please, which is a waste and a shame. Read the books in order for them to be at all worth your eyeblinks.

Feb 13, 9:57am Top

Very nice review. I enjoy the series on audio. Dogger is probably my favorite character. I understand the most recent entry is to be the last, and I think I am okay with that.

Feb 13, 10:26am Top

I thank you most kindly, Katie. Since Bradley's 81, I'm not too surprised he's going to retire. And the series is settling into a saggy mode so...well...adieu, Miss de Luce.

Feb 13, 10:28am Top

I have enjoyed reading the Flavia De Luce series, but, like you, at times I find it highly implausible. The shocker at the end of Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd is indeed a shocker.

I also find it interesting that an 81 year-old can write this series through the eyes of a child. Flavia's immaturity in the early novels irritated and captivated me, and she is growing up. The novels show a clear progression towards those teenage years. That does't make Flavia any more likable than she was in the first novel. In fact, I find her rather irritating and her position of privilidge grates on me. As escape fiction (which is why I read mysteries) they are wonderful.

The recorded versions of this series are wonderful. The narrator does a great job, especially in the early novels in the series. She manages to sound exactly like an indignant child. She is probably one of the big reasons why this series has been such a success. I highly recommend them for listening to during long drives in the car. Or long plane trips.

Feb 13, 10:35am Top

>243 benitastrnad: It was a sock-knocker-offer all right. The implausibility factor is, TBH, the main curse of mysteries in general. The police would NOT be so sanguine about a kid poking into a case. Or a teacher, or a retiree...anyone not a cop, really.

I think the fantasy world created here took a turn for the worse in the previous book and is recovering in this one, thankfully. The character's aging into teenage is pitch-perfect to my inner ears. I'm pleased that the series has a good narrator, since the wrong person speaking can totally ruin a book.

Feb 13, 11:00am Top

Nice review up there, Richard. I'm one of those who can't get over the ridiculous precociousness and implausible liberty of Flavia. One was enough for me. But our daughter loves the series. How can Flavia continue to be 12 years old through all the books? That's quite a year she's having.

Feb 13, 11:03am Top

>245 jnwelch: Heh...I think she's getting older at a different rate than the rest of us, much like Kinsey Milhone. It's been 1983 since 1980 in her world...I think of it as soap-opera physics. Y'know, women give birth and three seasons later have college-age kids? Significant improvement on the dreary trudge of actual child-rearing.

Feb 13, 12:18pm Top

It seemed time for a little octo-art....

Feb 13, 1:57pm Top

Chiming in on the Flavia series. I agree with Benita that the audio versions are wonderful. Once I happened on those, I quit reading the print books. I love the series, but I really prefer for authors to end the series before it grows too stale. I'm currently listening to last year's installment on my commute. I'll probably finish it this week, but not until Saturday.

Feb 13, 2:04pm Top

Hello Richard!

I finished Travelers over my 'snow break' - Greater Seattle Snow-mageddon! What a great show! I love characters. All of them are so genuine and unique in their strengths and weaknesses. I also enjoyed all the recurring characters (Grace and Boyd). So original and evocative. I am sorry it will not continue.

Feb 13, 4:40pm Top

>247 quondame: What gorgeous octoart it is, Susan, and thanks for thinking of me!

>248 thornton37814: I can't ear-read or I'd look into them from all the joyous warbling they're getting. I've got The Grave's a Fine and Private Place awaiting me at the library. I seem to be in the frothy mood, so it's a good idea to get it read while that's so.

>249 brodiew2: Oh, I am so sad about that, too...I can see this idea and these characters over at least seven seasons. Still...three isn't bad, when the ending was as complete as this one was.

Feb 13, 5:14pm Top

>250 richardderus: Did you have a favorite character?

Feb 13, 5:44pm Top

>251 brodiew2: I think I identify most with Gary, the father; he's kind of clueless, he's deeply unsure of what's going on but needs to feel he's necessary; and then here comes Trevor and he's never remotely been sure of anything again!

I dislike David, that whiny needy wimp. Other than that, I think they're all well cast and damn good at their various roles.

Feb 13, 5:47pm Top

I'm enjoying the discussion of the Flavia deLuce books, although I cannot say the same for the novels themselves. I read two and listened to one. I disliked the audio version intensely---Flavia's voice just added to the irritation the character raises in me. I don't like her, and I don't believe in the "heightened reality" (LOVE that expression, though) of the books. So many readers find her great fun, but I can't get on the bus.

Feb 13, 7:11pm Top

>252 richardderus: I seriously disliked Grace after she became a host. Philip and Trevor were by far my favorites, followed closely by Marcy. Best villain ever though.

Not that anyone asked me.

Feb 13, 7:17pm Top

By the time I got to the fifth paragraph of your review, Richard, I had completely forgotten the publisher's blurb and, following on a quote on loving chickens, I took your reference to the death of a strange duck quite literally! I did recover, you'll be glad to know, but it gave me quite a turn.

I've read the first 6 in this series and need to move it along--I usually do it during a mystery-themed month but we haven't seemed to be having those monthly themes lately. Agree with you--highly implausible but such an interesting character!

Feb 13, 7:44pm Top

>254 AuntieClio: Hello AuntiClio! No doubt Grace was caustic and awkward, and demanding. However, she grew on me. The romantic angle came as a surprise, but by then I was willing to accept it.

Feb 13, 8:02pm Top

Just popping in to stay current. Not much to say. But Hi!!

Feb 13, 8:26pm Top

>253 laytonwoman3rd: Hi Linda3rd. It's just not a series for everyone. A high tolerance for whimsy is a must. It's understandable that Flavia will annoy the pants off some readers.

>254 AuntieClio:, >256 brodiew2: Grace irked me less than David does, despite her grating Traveler. She was competent at least! I was more than a little squicked about the, um, *interest* she took in Trevor, but I loved his Traveler's response to it.

>255 ronincats: Hi Roni! Yes, I can imagine that somewhat appalled turn...sorry...I wasn't terribly careful in my phraseology. As Katie says, the series looks to be ending with this year's entry, tenth in order. It makes "staying current" so much less urgent, doesn't it.

>257 Berly: Hey there Berly-boo! *smooch* Happy to see you out and about.

Feb 13, 9:22pm Top

>235 richardderus: The move went fine, but I'm utterly exhausted. I haven't even set up my internet modem and WiFi. And won't until this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting unpacked and back to my own shall corner of the world.

I have no idea if the other apartments around me are occupied it's so quiet, and that, my friend, is how I know I'll like my neighbors.

Edited: Feb 14, 10:15am Top

Howdy-do, RD!

>240 richardderus: This is a series that I have no interest in reading, having started and abandoned the first one. However, I do love the title of this one and wish it was used on a series I liked.

>246 richardderus: Yup, Kinsey time was 7 years, A-Y publishing time was 35 years.

>258 richardderus: A high tolerance for whimsy is a must. It's understandable that Flavia will annoy the pants off some readers. I tolerate whimsy, just not Flavia. *pout*

Feb 13, 10:21pm Top

>259 SomeGuyInVirginia: Hey Larry, happy you're able to move and think and speak so soon after moving. Quite impressive. I'm fully down with the need to be in your own corner of the world, yessiree bawb, I am I am.

Silent neighbors! I am appallingly jealous and *barely* restraining myself from whammying up a month of back-to-back wedding receptions in each close apartment.

>260 karenmarie: *there there, pat pat* No worries loveycuddles, it's not your fault that a lifetime of logical thinking and debugging stuff has left you without the capacity to appreciate Flavia and her world. Inevitable, I'd say.

*flees Wrath of Horrible*

Feb 14, 12:08am Top

>256 brodiew2: Hey Brodiew2! I thought Trevor handled that with a lot of grace and elegance. (no pun intended) The hug was really sweet, though. I just couldn't find my way to liking her.

Feb 14, 12:09am Top

>258 richardderus: I developed a soft spot for David, the end had me sobbing mostly for the other person involved.

Philip really got the raw deal with his host though.

Feb 14, 6:40am Top

>240 richardderus: I was just thinking of starting this series. It'll probably take me time to get around to it, but luckily I always try to read series in order. I hate not understanding what's going on. But thanks for the warning. It's good to know, just in case.

Feb 14, 7:37am Top

I may be the only person in the universe who does not like the Flavia books, just saying.

Happy Valentine's, RD!

Edited: Feb 14, 9:31am Top

>265 alcottacre: There are two of us, Stasia. See you at the tiny convention.

I hope you enjoy Valentine's Day, Richard. How we got to this from the execution-origins is hard to figure!

Feb 14, 10:23am Top

>261 richardderus: The Terrible Wrath of Horrible!

I can be right-brained with the best of 'em. I won't condescend to the level of providing proof, however. *grumble*

But I do admit that mysteries are my favorite genre, even if NOT little twee girl mysteries. And, for the record, with the exception of Agatha Christie, I don't like cozy mysteries very much.


Feb 14, 10:58am Top

>262 AuntieClio:, >263 AuntieClio: Mmm. David's a wet washcloth IMO, ending be smirched. I feel for Jared What's-it who plays Trevor, though, he had some unique challenges.

>264 The_Hibernator: I hope you like the series when you get to it, Rachel, it's got some pleasures not instantly obvious to Some People *side-eye at >265 alcottacre:, >266 jnwelch:, >267 karenmarie: *

Feb 14, 11:04am Top

>265 alcottacre: Hi Stasia, well as you see you're scarcely alone in your...less than appreciative...opinion about Flavia.

>266 jnwelch: So important to feel supported and understood, isn't it, Joe. My Thursday started out with Rob stopping in to pick up his banana-spice cake bread. I got cooed over and smooched on, which was a far nicer gift than anything I'd have to find a place to put!

>267 karenmarie: Horrible dear, so lovely to see you here in such fine fettle! As they say in your native tongue, "10010010010111110100101010001110001100000111110000​!"

Feb 14, 11:05am Top

Morning, Richard. Sweet Thursday. Now, we are enjoying mild 40 degree temps. Unfortunately, it will only last for a day. Stifles a sob...

Happy reading, my friend.

Edited: Feb 14, 11:59am Top

RD, have a great Valentine's day!

Edited: Feb 14, 4:51pm Top

15 The Burning Page by Genevieve Cogman

Real Rating: 4.75* of five

The Publisher Says: Librarian spy Irene and her apprentice Kai return for another “tremendously fun, rip-roaring adventure,” (A Fantastical Librarian) third in the bibliophilic fantasy series from the author of The Masked City.

Never judge a book by its cover...

Due to her involvement in an unfortunate set of mishaps between the dragons and the Fae, Librarian spy Irene is stuck on probation, doing what should be simple fetch-and-retrieve projects for the mysterious Library. But trouble has a tendency of finding both Irene and her apprentice, Kai—a dragon prince—and, before they know it, they are entangled in more danger than they can handle...

Irene’s longtime nemesis, Alberich, has once again been making waves across multiple worlds, and, this time, his goals are much larger than obtaining a single book or wreaking vengeance upon a single Librarian. He aims to destroy the entire Library—and make sure Irene goes down with it.

With so much at stake, Irene will need every tool at her disposal to stay alive. But even as she draws her allies close around her, the greatest danger might be lurking from somewhere close—someone she never expected to betray her...

My Review: Irene Winters is, comme d'habitude, in the stinky stuff up to her modest pseudo-Victorian neckline. We join Kai, the elegant and toothsome dragon prince and Irene's apprentice Librarian, as they receive desperate new instructions from the Powers That Be. The Library is not aligned in the power struggle between the orderly dragons and the chaotic Fae, officially anyway, but it seems that the battle is joined...many worlds not safe for Librarians (a combination of spy and thief and bibliophile...I want to be a Librarian so bad I can taste it) to traverse. Something is clearly up. Irene and Kai are damned near killed by the Something, in fact, as a door into the Library from their current assignment literally bursts into flames as they try to use it.

Well, I ask you, is there any more exciting a way to bring a reader into the book's world?! And to set the stakes as high as they can be (personal survival)? I was prepared for a rollicking good time. I got one.

Vale, Irene and Kai's good friend in the alternate London where they are stationed as Librarians in Residence, is a relatively high-chaos world...magic works, there are werewolves all over, that kind of thing...whose life is analogous to Sherlock Holmes's in Conan Doyle's novels. The poor man, in the last book, was exposed to an EXTREMELY high-chaos world while rescuing Irene and Kai. (He nurses Feelings for...well...I suspect for both of them.) As a result his morphine addiction is in high gear. Since he's using the drug to self-medicate his inner demons, it makes sense that a chaotic world would cause his turmoil to reach a boil. It does...and in the universe of these novels that means he's literally, physiologically infected with chaos, to his severe detriment. Irene and Kai are desperately worried about him, but forced to focus on their Librarian issues.

It seems that the Big Baddie of the series, Alberich, has his sights on Irene again. He wants her to join him in his war to replace the Library with his own Chaotic sphere. Failing that, he wants her dead, because she's just too adroit and clever to allow to continue opposing him. He even takes on the bodies of others, killing them in the process, to reach her.
He swept her round another turn, his hand warm on the small of her back, gloved in a dead man's skin.


Their battle runs across multiple dimensions, includes innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders, and causes Irene to do something...a desperate survival tactic in the face of imminent death...that will cause her endless nights of grief and remorse. She has to set all the books in Alberich's Library alight! She destroys all the unique and irreplaceable volumes he's stolen from across the multiverse!! It comes close to ruining her, which I *totally* get.

Kai, in this story, turns himself into his draconic form for the first time. He's as magnificent as one would expect. Author Cogman describes his dragon form in lavish, luxurious terms though not at any great length. The real focus is that he has the power to fly across the multiverse! This is new, or it was to me. He takes acrophobic Irene into the space between the worlds where she can see alternate realities as if she was in a jetliner. It's horrible for her, but amazing for the reader. It becomes urgent for Kai to do this multiple times and in some very high-stress situations.

Vale, meanwhile, is sinking fast. His save-the-day actions in The Masked City are reaping the whirlwind of his addiction. He spirals deeper and deeper into depression. Vale's best friend Inspector Singh of Scotland Yard (how you can tell it's an alternate London, South Asian inspectors?! Yeah, not so much in reality) is frantic with worry. He and Kai and Irene are locked in conflict about how to save their friend, with no good options appearing and the bad ones piling up. Ultimately, the problem of how to help someone in self-destruct mode is resolved...but having known self-destructive people well, I don't entirely buy it. The ultimate resolution is one I truly wish we had a way to implement in reality.

It's an exciting ride to get to the ending, and the fact is that it's a middle book so that's not as easy as one might think. I felt that this book was a step UP from its predecessor in action and excitement. That's a good, good thing. Series reads are deeply satisfying, as I've said elsewhere. I'm a happy boy when I'm among familiar faces doing fun things while thinking interesting thoughts, and that's how series reads are at their best. I was pleased enough with the last book to read this one, but it suffered from a, well, a bagginess at the knees that wasn't a good omen. This book didn't have that issue. The action was well-grounded in the reality of the series and the characters weren't Playing Parts...which might have been the point of the last book but wasn't to my taste.

Irene and Kai and Vale emerge from this entry in the series as a stronger team and a better bunch of individuals. Their interdependence is coming clearer and making them all stronger. I'm thoroughly hooked on these reads and can't wait to get to The Lost Plot.

Feb 14, 12:55pm Top

>270 msf59: Hey Mark, happy Thursday to you too. It's going to be mild here until Sunday, when the dreaded Wintry Mix will blow in. YUCK!! Today, however, is perfectly lovely and sunshiney.

>271 SomeGuyInVirginia: Thank you, Larry! You do the same.

Feb 14, 1:39pm Top

Happy Valentine's Day!! ❤️💚💗💙

Feb 14, 2:44pm Top

Oh, I love Genevieve Cogman's Library series. Great review of The Burning Page. "I was prepared for a rollicking good time. I got one." Yes! "Series reads are deeply satisfying, as I've said elsewhere. I'm a happy boy when I'm among familiar faces doing fun things while thinking interesting thoughts, and that's how series reads are at their best." Yes! Perfect use of the spoiler cover, too.

Off to apply my thumb.

Feb 14, 2:50pm Top

>274 ChelleBearss: Thank you, Chelle, and the same back to you!

>275 jnwelch: Thank you, Joe, I appreciate the vote of confidence...and the thumb!

Feb 14, 4:03pm Top

>265 alcottacre:, you are not the only one who doesn't like Flavia

Feb 14, 4:08pm Top

Feb 14, 4:22pm Top

Ix-nay on the ibrary-lay, I fear. My right knee bled too profusely to allow for walking outside. Leaving bloody footprints tends to make the neighbors tense, I've observed. Rob came hotfooting over when I grumbled about it, flustered and wondering if I should go to the hospital...I said "ooh mmhmm yes of course" while fishing around for the rock of tophus causing the problem with my forceps. When I pulled it out, the poor thing looked like he wanted to pass out! Now the bleeding's finally, after more than an hour, slowing down.

Feb 14, 4:33pm Top

Seconding Joe's message (and thumb) about a great review, Richard!!

Feb 14, 4:52pm Top

>280 ronincats: Thank you most kindly, Roni!

Feb 14, 8:42pm Top

>272 richardderus: This is the one I am ready to read next in the series--can't wait!!!

Feb 16, 2:48am Top

>279 richardderus: I think I may join Rob :0/ Well, I'm glad you got the bleeding to stop.

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