Sandy's Books: December ⛄️🎄⛄️ 2019 (thread #4)
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Reading update:Two 4-★ novels, and, just reviewed
(1) Sunrise & snow clouds ~ (2) A childhood vintage toy
Quilted floor play mat, with a double layer of batting
and a second view, to showcase the 'Turkish Tiles' quilting pattern,
The navy blue-white polka dot side is the backing. And it's mama-friendly: machine-washable and -dryable! I test each play mat myself so it's "guaranteed" sturdy.
I know there are masses of threads I have visited and not responded or commented. I gathered insights to add to my WL, envied people in warmer climes, and generally look forward to finding out what people have posted on WL for their friends & families to fulfill.
I may just continue to be lazy for the rest of the month and not bother with a final thread, myself
>5 SandyAMcPherson: I know there are masses of threads I have visited and not responded or commented.
We all do, I visit many threads without leaving a comment. I would not have time to read if I did ;-)
>15 jessibud2: Hi from the flatland, where we are (ah-ha!) NOT having freezing rain! Yes, do relax. We're not obliged to read at all! I made shortbread today...
>16 FAMeulstee: Hey good to see you. I zoomed the threads looking for the new BBs so I could potentially score Christmas gifts in the online sales. Canada being as much a slave to "Black Friday" as our neighbours to the south.
So fun to know peeps are awaiting the baby play-mat being finished. I'm farming out the squaring up and seam binding. That's the part I really do poorly! And don't enjoy. Apparently I will have to wait until next week...
I used to post more than most, I guess, but "lurking" is a honourable profession!
I'm still amazed that I achieved reading even 75 books. What a great lot of fun and support this 75-er group provides! And the encouragement to review has been invaluable in prompting my memory of the story while still fresh in my mind.
Ballet Shoes (★★★★) A book bullet, from humouress (https://www.librarything.com/topic/310765#6958180).
Surprisingly engaging! Initially, with the way the 3 orphans are so casually acquired and adopted, the story lingered on the edge of syrupy. However, the down-to-earth narrative of 1930's London and the prosaic details of the girls' lives was charming.
Streatfield wrote an amazingly captivating novel of a close-knit home and an enlightened view of dance, stage and ambitions fulfilled for practical reasons. The ending was the only flaw, being rather abrupt and a little too pat, but it was very enlightening for its day in that one of the girls was so well-mentored in her wish to pursue the study of mechanical and aeronautical devices.
However... having finished the RG novels currently available I think I'll revisit the Magic Men series.
Here's the newest ~ fifth book, which appeared on Goodreads recently
I'm wondering if many middle grade readers these days would not find enough action which seems so prevalent nowadays? I loved the pace of the story and it was so well-written (except for my review criticism about the ending...).
After much faffing about, I got the Junk Drawer to work reliably and not have obscure little blank squares instead...
Here where I wrote out a small tutorial for jessibud2 ...
I thought it might help others. There's probably a wiki page somewhere but I have added annotated screenshots because I am more of a visual person...
I've also noticed that certain television programs, popular say in the 1980s, don't hold up well when watched today. There's something different about the pacing. So perhaps there are other factors?
>26 SandyAMcPherson: You might send a private message to Jim (drneutron), the mastermind behind the 75ers group. He's pretty well plugged into LT and might have a suggestion about how to share your creation, which is a thing of beauty. 😀
I'm going to follow up >29 lauralkeet: Laura's suggestion and maybe Jim can run with it...
Laura, high praise, (a thing of beauty), thank you. In fact, I think you were the one that LizzieD mentioned for some help for navigating photos onto Talk, yes?
I think it's a great idea to see if we can get this on the wiki. One option is to link it to humouress' wiki page on doing cool things in threads, which we link to from the group wiki page. Another option, as I think about it, is to make a separate wiki page with this content, then just link directly to it from the group wiki page in that same area as the link to humouress'. First I gotta figure out how to embed pics in wikis - not hard, just gotta find the time to do it... 😀
The initial visuals, https://www.librarything.com/topic/310773#6984534, were too small to read on the Talk screen
(thanks to jessibud2 for the feedback).
I have re-drawn the annotations ~ here is another How to tutorial for junk drawer use.
My advice to enlarge the images if you can't read them on TALK: put your cursor on the image and 'right-click' to save to your device; on Mac computers, hold down the control button and click. I don't know how to do this on tablets, but one of our lovely 75-ers on Talk probably can advise.
Once the image is saved, you can manipulate it in a photo program to magnify the picture. I use "Preview"as a default app. On Mac systems, there is also iPhoto. I'm no longer a Windows user, so can't help there...
Here are the latest adjustments to Junk drawer, along with my original comments:
#1: Look in the top-right corner of your profile page and find "member Gallery"; Click as shown in image here ~
#2: Finding the Junk drawer and the link to add an image file (*jpg, *png, *gif or *bmp) Click the indicated selections ~
#3: Uploading the image to the junk drawer ~
What to do next ~~ upload the image to TALK!! (I know lots of folks can do this but some of us less computer-literate folks take forever to figure it out and for me, it was so frustratingly-arrrggh!)
So you want to have an image from the junk drawer appear in Talk ~
KEY POINT... click the image so the one you want is all you see in the junk drawer ☛ right-click (control-click on Mac) and select either "copy image address" (if Safari is your browser) or "copy link location" (Firefox) or the equivalent on other browsers...
NEXT - paste the copied link into the HTML format for images:
(I have substituted the sideways V characters with " § " and " † ", so you can see the code):
Here's the HTML for the previous image, "copy image address"
§ img src="https://pics.librarything.com/picsizes/9e/f2/9ef2a79fa36048f63716f4b7477434b41716b42.jpg" †
The main thing to add to this code, if you want to reduce the size of the image, is to specify height in between img and src, like this: (make sure to incorporate the spaces exactly as shown!)
.... § img height=150 src= ... †
TIP: Preview the post to check the height, which you adjust up or down by increasing or decreasing the number. Reclick 'preview' each time so the image is the size you want.
In this post, I left the images at quite a large size, so the details were legible; in my opinion, this sizing overwhelms the thread!
Probably high-quality chocolate and a small toy. They will also enjoy Christmas day gifts with family visiting, but we're staying home. Prairie winter travel is too fraught.
A friend scored this gorgeous volume at an estate sale.
I forgot to look at the bibliography page though, so I'm not sure how old this edition is. I snapped an inadequate set of photos with my mobile phone camera but only the cover is worth showing off. The illustrations were so vivid. I think Mallory makes no effort at historical accuracy, so I've never been attracted to reading this title.
A few years ago, when we were walking beside one of the canals (November 15 actually), a barge pulled up to a landing and St. Nicholas (with his white horse!) rode off along with a small entourage. It was so real and there wasn't a big crowd around, so felt quite normal.
We didn't follow but I guess he was headed to a festival to mark the beginning of the season. Those processions are so jam-packed, our family tended to avoid Dam Square where this happens amongst all the Christmas market booths.
We liked that Dec. 25 is more about families gathering for a feast and just being together. Christmas Eve is usually when a candle-lit service was attended and there are small gifts exchanged in some families. It is so much less frenetic than a celebration all on the one day.
Regrettably added to my DNF graveyard
After about half the book, I had to give up. I think this is one of those novels that a reader either loves or struggles, with no in-between. Many reviews suggest that the story is worth soldiering through to reach the halfway point, but I didn't find it worth the slog.
For my tastes, the story was weirdly depressing, alternating between dreariness of the new wife's half alive-life and the 'Miniaturist', a strange persona with unexpected insights into the character's lives. I found very little of the prose moved the story forward so that there was progress, some sense of flow. There's the bones of an excellent narrative here, but there was not an especially uplifting tone to relieve the 17th century gloom. (2**)
I was sorry to be so ambivalent about this novel, because I sense it was more a case of my frame of mind at the time, than any real flaw with the author's work. I seem to have very little resilience these days for reading about dark, sad lives or psychological weirdness. There never seemed to be an uplifting point or positivity in this novel.
I also hear you about not being in the mood for dark or *downer* books. I have been like that pretty much all this year.
This was a book bullet from Susan (quondame) and I am so glad to have been alerted to this Marianne trilogy. In book 1, I was immediately drawn into the story right from the beginning and stayed up ridiculously late reading the first half of the novel.
My review is quite succinct ~
An imaginative adventure, beautifully written with a subtle use of the magical aspects. Although some plot twists were unsurprising, the story followed the theme and didn't create a flat-lined narrative. The final sentence very cleverly invokes a cliff-hanger, both alluring and insidious. Sheri Tepper is a new-to-me author and didn't disappoint.
~ and I went all out, with 💥💥💥💥💥!
I was absolutely slain by the final sentence in the book,
I'm going to request Book 3 even though #2 is unread... this book falls into the "I'll re-read it many times" category, so I don't think I will feel that Book 2 is ruined just because I read #3 ahead of #2.
A friend who is more advertant* than I noted the point system in MtM&tM is very like her OCDish way of dealing with what is beyond her control. As she was blind, she listened to the book on a tape I made for her so she had more time to think about it, that's my excuse.
Also, I want to express my deep despair that so far, there's no Book 2 available,
In fact, I am the penultimate in being fussy about condition, so buying used has to be from dealers we know.
The other hassle, is that I need a Canadian source, otherwise, it is so expensive.
Shipping plus customs and the exchange rate disqualifies paperbacks from the USA as an option.
For buying used, even before the online days, the condition is completely unpredictable. Many sellers do not understand that (for example) "very good" means it has all the pages and shows wear, with defects noted. In my world, not a book for which I would pay more than $3 or $4.
There are standards for describing book condition as you probably know, but we've had appalling experiences from well-known sources who think they can get away with misleading descriptions. So if we can't find friends or relatives to check book condition and buy for us, we stick to looking on our travels and at used book sources that know us.
I'm sure Santa-Honey will eventually discover it somewhere. Over the years my 'WishList' has been amazingly fulfilled.
In the meantime, some homemade yumminess.
Later today, I will tackle the Christmas cinnamon buns, a morning tradition in Christmas week.
There are nearly 50 reviews of this story (on LT), and I probably don't have much extra to add. I'm confounded by the thought I had originally read this when my younger daughter was accumulating YA novels. But the story was so completely unfamiliar that I'm now doubtful I ever read it before.
Anyway, it was a nice segue back into the comfortable style of 1970's and 80's fantasies. I like the way mood is developed as much as action in this narrative style. I find thoughtful concepts develop in my own mind about implications for living/not living alone, for the greater harm/benefits of hate and revenge and letting go. McKillip may not have intended this novel to become an avenue of self-exploration but that is what developed for me.
As I say, it was an imaginative story and I would have loved to read more about the 'wizardlings' and hoped for additional interactions with the wondrous beasts. Parts of Forgotten Beasts felt rushed and in places, I would have liked more "story" around the details.
>50 quondame: Hi Susan. Thanks for dropping by. Floor mats rock! And I feel so relaxed about the exactness of the patchwork.
>51 lauralkeet:, Hi Laura. We'd all love to see some pix of these keepsake quilts. Right, everyone?
Richard will probably visit to exclaim, "Mastodon huntresses had time to make quilts? Who knew?"...
I never take photos of the quality needed for prints, just suitable for ephemeral digital pix!
Indeed, I think scanning notecard images just the ticket.
That is not a Tepper I have or have read . . . must find!
That's a McKillip I want to reread!
Love the cartoon too -- it's infrequent I love a book so much that I get that despairing feeling but when I do, argh!
I'm living in optimistic anticipation that The Man will succeed in discovering Book 2 of this trilogy. Maybe even by December 25th, hey! I have Book 3 requested from the public library. And in >42 quondame:, Susan reassures me that Book 3 is a different sort of story, so I'm going to read it as soon as I finish The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.
>56 ronincats: Thanks, Roni. It will be a cosy gift for winter floors. I'm glad I made it a double thickness, because this 6-weeks-old child apparently is rolling around and doing her own tummy-time already! So on the floor is safest.
When Jim (drneutron) is done flying solar probes and all, he's going to look into how one can add images along with text to a wiki... or telling me how to add them.
Abbi Waxman has an interesting narrative going here, with my interpretation of Nina Hill’s bookish life as follows:
Nina is apparently very much a bibliophile ~ except in this story, she is portrayed more as someone who uses reading to escape a life that was bereft of parental presence and not much nurturing. As an adult, Nina spends her time scheduling most of her daily life, right down to what she’ll feed the cat and what to do every evening.
With daily employment at a bookshop and a social life that really holds people at a distance (trivia gaming in pubs not being open to introspective connections with actual individuals), I don’t believe Nina is all that bookish: she’s a lonely kid who craves sensitive people that can understand her need to quell panic attacks.
The writing was at times amusing, although the quips came across as “witty sayings the author read or heard somewhere else”. The story was insightful about anxiety and illustrated how very debilitating this syndrome can be. My main criticism is the intrusiveness of the narrator, which invaded the story from time to time, as if the author was having us step outside her novel and pass opinions.
Overall, I decided the book was pretty decent reading for those who like chick-lit that features millennial relationship lifestyles, even though the conclusion felt very unfinished. Readers may find that the chronicle has a flat-lined ending with some ridiculous food-fighting at the bookstore. It was as if Waxman was tired of the character development and just wanted to finish the final draught “thankyouverymuch, I’m done” sort of atmosphere.
Edited to mention that this was a BB from Roni, https://www.librarything.com/topic/311636#6967317!
A winter solstice is the moment in time when the Earth's tilt away from the Sun is at its maximum and the Sun's maximum elevation in the sky is at its lowest. Thus the ice crystals form magical lighting effects ~
Sundogs and a sunrise on the Winter Solstice
Beautiful picture, I din't know those were calles sundogs, always learning new things :-)
The images and sentiments were all very welcome. I'm planning on tidying up here with some final reviews from my holiday reading binge!
This biography of populating Oceania was interesting and frustrating by turns. I selected the book because it promised an insight into how the Polynesian islands were originally populated. For my tastes, the narrative was too much from a Euro-centric view. Relative to the Polynesian immigrants, it was difficult to separate the speculative ideas from the facts supported by soundly-based data. Many passages were historically interesting, but the final overview was based more on rat DNA than human genomics. Unlike genomics research in other archeological excavations, such as Bronze age digs in Ireland (*Cassidy et al., 2015), the Polynesian work doesn't appear to have used these tools to find racial irruptions from from far-flung immigrants.
The other great flaw in Thompson's book were the absence of illustrations and a glossary. The history would have been clarified with maps to illustrate the immediate geography being described; a glossary would help keep non-specialists informed as the story progressed. As it was, there were constant interruptions to the flow since unfamiliar island names and terms were sprinkled through out the text. I'm glad I read the book, but I did end up skimming a certain amount, looking for more of a scientific discussion on the original peoples than was presented.
*Neolithic and Bronze Age migration to Ireland and establishment of the insular Atlantic genome. www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1518445113
New one is now in place and reloaded. Chilled to -22 oC in no time. And wow, is it ever quiet!
Marianne, the Matchbox, and the Malachite Mouse by Sheri S. Tepper, 1989.
Warning ~ a crabby review because
Not nearly as engaging as Book 1, Marianne, the Magus, and the Manticore (and I have yet to get my grubby mitts on Book 2). A novel written, for the most part, as playing on a game board. The premise was less than enthralling. Perhaps a pushy book agent or a publisher was the incentive for the novel (rather than the author). Most of the time, the story felt contrived as in "the continuing saga of heroine X..."
My main difficulty in feeling drawn into the plot lay with there not being enough indication as to what 'creatures' Marianne and her companions had been changed into. Eventually, with a lot of skimming back and forth (yeah, totally ruins a story), I contrived to follow the plot ~ but by then, meh! did I care?
From time to time, the narrative pops out of the board-game milieu and into the world from the first novel.
The grump-reviews each made perfect sense to me. Just not up to snuff, eh what? I expect I'll see you around in 2020, it's too hard *just* to lurk.
PS. Ummm, who is Ryan Reynolds?
Courtesy of Roni because she had such a cool 2019 display.
I don't have all 108 books that I read this year inputted to GR but now that I know there are these ready-made visuals, I've some incentive to add every book from now on. The biggest flaw with GR is that if you have quite old books to list (like my 1908 Two Dianas in Somaliland or some quite rare publications), these don't display properly. However, still worth the fun of visuals!
By Patricia Wrede, Snow White and Rose Red.
I guess this is a major record for me: 109 books read. I'm surprised...
OK... Later this evening I'll start my 2020 page.
I hope y'all star it and visit often!