richardderus's twenty-first 2022 thread

This is a continuation of the topic richardderus's twentieth 2022 thread.

This topic was continued by richardderus's twenty-second 2022 thread.

Talk75 Books Challenge for 2022

Join LibraryThing to post.

richardderus's twenty-first 2022 thread

Nov 29, 2022, 1:26pm

It's Yuletide again! I'm delighted not to live in a place where succulents are my only hope for having a holiday-celebration tree. A living celebration of this dark, regenerative phase of Earthly life, however, is a welcome and delight-filled addition to anyone's space.

The darkest, grimmest part of 2022 is the resurgence of the hateful and ignorant mobs calling for book bans, encouraging loathsome and violent behavior with incendiary rhetoric then scurrying behind "Free speech! free speech!" bad-faith calls for decent people to tolerate their hatefulness while declining the reciprocal obligation to be tolerant themselves. And we, idiots that we are, still believe they can be brought to civilized behavior after radicalization.

That's why the "Books Save Lives" campaign is going on. All are encouraged to take part in the campaign in one (or all) of three ways:

  • Starting December 1, take a selfie with a book that saved your life and why, then use the
    hashtag on social media to share your story.

  • Advocate for diverse books in your community, including any of the steps outlined here.

  • Make a financial donation to We Need Diverse Books’s fund for ending book bans.

  • Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black are publicly sharing "Baby's First Christmas" which, TBH, feels very generous of them given the hate-speech they're routinely subjected to by the ignorant and hateful. Celebrate the cycle of the year by resolving to fight the hate you carry for others who have done nothing to you. Never advocated your existence should be illegal/unacceptable. Never said you should be punished, Othered, even killed for being your authentic self.

    Hate can't be read away, but ignorance can. Read more. Read better. Reach up for the stars on the darkest nights ahead.

    Edited: Dec 15, 2022, 8:16am

    For 2022, I upped my goal of posting an average of 4 or 5 book reviews a week on my blog to an annual total of 288. 2021's total of 229 (I need to do more to sync the data on my reads between my blog, Goodreads, and here this year for real NB this goal's officially dead because Goodreads has implemented its hideous user-unfriendly redesign and lost portions of my data) posts in 50 weeks of blogging shows it's doable.

    I've long Pearl Ruled books I'm not enjoying, but making notes on Goodreads & LibraryThing about why I'm abandoning the read has been less successful. I gave up. I just didn't care about this goal, but I need to learn to because I *re*Pearl-Ruled five books after not remembering picking them up in the first place. What I've decided to do is have post >7 be the Pearl-Rule Tracking post!

    And now that I've gotten >3 Burgoineing as a habit, I'm going to make a monthly blog-only post with my that-month's Burgoined books. It will appear the last Sunday of each month.

    My Last Thread of 2009 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2010 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2011 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2012 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2013 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2014 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2015 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2016 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2017 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2018 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2019 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2020 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.
    My Last Thread of 2021 Is Here:
    Reviews are back-linked there.

    Reviews one through eight? Seek them thitherward.

    Looking for nine through sixteen? Click that link!

    Reviews seventeen up to twenty-six? You know what to do.

    I know you think reviews twenty-seven to thirty-three are here...well, you're right, they are.

    Seekest ye the reviews entitled thirty-four to thirty-eight? They anent just so.

    I understand you're curious about thirty-nine to forty-seven. Go back there.

    Longing to view reviews forty-eight to fifty-four? Advance towards the rear.

    The reviews numberèd fifty-five through sixty-four are por detrás.

    Sixty-five, -six, and -seven, eh? Seekest thou in arrears.

    Sixty-eight up to seventy-four aren't hard to find by using that link.

    There are reviews numbered seventy-five through ninety, you know. This post links you to them.

    Ninety-one through one hundred ten? Try that link, it'll sort you out.

    111 through 131? Go back there.

    Those reviews numbered 132 up to 142 will be found at the linked post.

    Reviews 143 up to 150 can be found in a specific post back there.

    Oh, are you looking for 151 up to 165? Follow that link!

    Interested in 166 on through 178? This post should be your goal.

    So, it's reviews 179 up to 188, is it? This is a dry hole, go back there for links.

    So, you missed 189 all the way up to 211, did you? Don't sleep on 'em forever!

    Reviews 212 to 224...let me see...I *think* I left them back there.


    244 Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and Their Magical Tales delighted, post 232.

    243 Good Girls Don't Make History explicated, post 230.

    242 Cosplay: A History: The Builders, Fans, and Makers Who Bring Your Favorite Stories to Life slam-dunked, post 216.

    241 To Know a Starry Night beguiled, post 198.

    240 Wild Plant Culture: A Guide to Restoring Edible and Medicinal Native Plant Communities delighted, post 196.

    239 Colors of London: A History ensorceled, post 182.

    238 The Atlas of Atlases: Exploring the most important atlases in history and the cartographers who made them (Liber Historica) elicited drool, post 181.

    237 Jazz Age Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from America's Roaring Twenties parched, post 156.

    236 Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas puckered, post 154.

    235 Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings excavated, post 129.

    234 The Wolf Age: The Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons and the Battle for the North Sea Empire slammed, post 126.

    233 Red Sky Morning: The Epic True Story of Texas Ranger Company F explained, post 106.

    232 Truth is a Flightless Bird worked, post 83.

    231 Dirt Road Home woke me up, post 63.

    230 The Storyteller's Death enfolded, post 52.

    229 On Spine of Death (By the Book Mysteries #2) amused, post 51.

    228 The Village of Eight Graves (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #4) bumfuzzled, post 38.

    227 The Inugami Curse (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #3) squicked, post 36.

    226 Death on Gokumon Island (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #2) discomfited, post 24.

    225 The Honjin Murders (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #1) ensorcelled, post 23.

    Edited: Dec 8, 2022, 2:16pm

    Author 'Nathan Burgoine posted this simple, direct method of not getting paralyzed by the prospect of having to write reviews. The Three-Sentence Review is, as he notes, very helpful and also simple to achieve. I get completely unmanned at the idea of saying something trenchant about each book I read, when there often just isn't that much to I can use this structure to say what I think is the most important idea of the read and not try to dig for more.

    Think about using it yourselves!


    Burgoine #80, A New World, in post 118.


    Burgoine #76 through #79 live in this post right here.



    Burgoine #71 through #75, are in this post right here.

    Burgoines #69 & #70 live in that post there.



    All (through #68) are linked in this post right here.



    Burgoine #53 through Burgoine #58 are linked in this post right here.



    Burgoine #52, is in this post here.

    #44 through #51, are linked in this post here.

    #37 through #43, are linked in this post here.



    #37 through #43, are linked in this post here.

    #36 is in thread twelve, post 279.


    MAY 2022's BURGOINES

    #34 and #35 are linked in this post here.

    #31 through 33 stay linked right here.



    #25 through 30 are backlinked here.

    #20 through 24 are backlinked in this post.

    The first two for April are linked here.


    The last one for March is linked here.

    The first 4 in March are back-linked here.


    FEBRUARY 2022's BURGOINES (through #12) are linked here.

    JANUARY 2022's BURGOINES are linked here.

    Edited: Nov 29, 2022, 1:38pm

    This space is dedicated to Nancy Pearl's Rule of 50, or "the Pearl Rule" as I've always called it. I just didn't care about this goal as a separate goal, but I need to learn to because I *re*Pearl-Ruled five books this December just passed after not remembering picking them up in the first place. I realized how close my Half-heimer's is getting to the full-on article. Hence my decision to really track my Pearl Rules!

    As she says:
    People frequently ask me how many pages they should give a book before they give up on it. In response to that question, I came up with my “rule of fifty,” which is based on the shortness of time and the immensity of the world of books. If you’re fifty years of age or younger, give a book fifty pages before you decide to commit to reading it or give it up. If you’re over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100—the result is the number of pages you should read before making your decision to stay with it or quit.

    So this space will be each thread's listing of Pearl-Ruled books. Earlier Pearl-Rule posts will be linked below the current month's crop.



    Pearl Rules #45 up to #47 reside in a post of known location.


    Pearl Rules #43 & #44, live in a post found here.

    Pearl Rule #41 & #42 live in this post
    right here.


    There weren't any! I love months like this.


    Pearl Rule #37 up to Pearl Rule #40 are linked in this post right here.


    #36 is in this post right here.

    Pearl Rule #33 through #35 are linked in this post here.


    MAY 2022's PEARL-RULES

    #32 is linked in this post right here.

    #31 is linked here.


    APRIL 2022's PEARL-RULES are backlinked here: post 75.

    The first one in April is linked here.



    It's linked in right here.


    FEBRUARY 2022's PEARL-RULES are here.

    JANUARY 2022's PEARL-RULES are here.

    Edited: Nov 29, 2022, 1:40pm

    I'm not keeping up with this challenge so I'm dropping it.

    Edited: Nov 29, 2022, 1:42pm

    2021's five-star or damn-near five-star reviews totaled 28, a marked decrease from last year's 46. Fewer authors saw their book launches rescheduled, but publishers still had to cancel many of their tours and events because COVID-19. The inflationary pressure that supply-chain issues are exerting causes a lot of economic drag on the market, though there is as of yet a lot less trouble than I expected getting tree-book copies of things.

    My annual six-stars-of-five read is Cove (my book review), a perfect, spare, evocative story of the pain of existing when you genuinely can't process what is happening to you, around you, despite your best and most well-practiced efforts there is just no righting the boat. I cannot stress enough to you, this is the book you need to read in 2022. I can not forget this read. I refer to it in my head, I think about its stark, vividly limned images. I am so deeply glad Author Cynan wrote it. To quote myself from my review: "This is the book I wish The Old Man and the Sea had been, but was not."

    In 2020, I posted over 215 reviews here. In 2022, my goals are:

  • to post 288 reviews on my blog accomplished; on to stretch goal below

  • to post three-sentence Burgoines of books I don't either adore or despise

  • to complete at least 320 total reviews of all types accomplished! Yay me.

  • Most important to me again this year is to report on DRCs I don't care enough about to review at my usual level. I still don't want to keep just leaving them unacknowledged! There are publishers who want to see a solid, positive relationship between DRCs granted and reviews posted, and I do not blame them a bit. To 1 November 2022, I've posted all 288 reviews I wanted to; that makes the stretch goal of 320 seem attainable. Only 22 more to go, and I've already written 16 of them.

    Ask and ye shall receive! 'Nathan Burgoine's Twitter account hath taught me. See >3 richardderus: above. I just need to keep getting better about *applying* it, being less prolix and more productive!

    Edited: Dec 15, 2022, 8:12am

    I'll be planning in this spot...though my plans all too seldom turn into reality, don't they.

    The current plans for December/#Booksgiving posts of DRCs from NetGalley
    The Middle Class Comeback: Women, Millennials, and Technology Leading the Way by Munir Moon
    The Treeline: The Last Forest and the Future of Life on Earth by Ben Rawlence
    The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World's Greatest Salesman by Carmine Gallo
    All the Living and the Dead: from Embalmers to Executioners, an Exploration of the People Who Have Made Death Their Life's Work by Hayley Campbell
    To Know a Starry Night by Paul Bogard, photos by Beau Rogers

    And from Edelweiss+
    Variations on the Body by María Ospina (tr. Heather Cleary)
    Decolonizing Wealth, Second Edition : Indigenous Wisdom to Heal Divides and Restore Balance by Edgar Villanueva
    The Web of Meaning : Integrating Science and Traditional Wisdom to Find our Place in the Universe by Jeremy Lent
    The American Surveillance State : How the U.S. Spies on Dissent by David Hotchkiss Price
    This Party’s Dead : Grief, Joy and Spilled Rum at the World’s Death Festivals by Erica Buist
    Wild Plant Culture: A Guide to Restoring Edible and Medicinal Native Plant Communities by Jared Rosenbaum

    I've started my #Booksgiving posting this past Friday, the 25th.

    Y'all remember Jólabókaflóð? The Icelandic give-a-book-then-read-it Yuletide gifting custom? That's what I'll be riffing on again this year. Gifting ideas for all the bookish. And of course ourselves...can't be martyrs about this.

    This November, which I've truncated at the 20th, I wrote and blogged thirty-one reviews of all three types. That means I'm well past 320 reviews, this year's stretch goal, with 346 blogged reviews. I'm going to keep my 2023 goal at 350 for now because if I get COVID again, or come near to die of some horrible plague yet to hit us, I'll have wiggle room. Looking at >7 richardderus:, I've got the Yokomizo books to fit into #Booksgiving, which I'll end on December 18th. I won't be posting to the blog the week of the 19th to 25th for what are, I trust, obvious reasons.

    My best-book-of-November is Kibogo, a beautiful braided-stories novella set in Author Scholastique Mukasonga's native Rwanda as it copes with the stresses of syncretism between Roman Catholicism and the indigenous religion centering the titular god Kibogo. It's most certainly in the running for the annual six-stars-of-five award. There is a full month of things I really, really liked ahead, though...stay tuned!

    As I've mentioned above, it's going to be #Booksgiving from here on out. I'll post reviews of books I liked a lot and feel confident that you'll get happy responses from people you choose to give them to. I've talked up the Icelandic custom of Jólabókaflóð before. I like its name, but honestly it's not likely to catch on is it...that "eth" at the end? Not a-flyin' here in the xenosuspicious US of A. My purpose in using this tag on my blog is to make that hard-to-shop-for giftee a little easier to pick out a fine quality book for, or get something really special for yourself to celebrate the Yule festival with a great get-away read.

    Edited: Nov 29, 2022, 1:52pm

    There doesn't seem to be any interest in this, either, so out it goes.

    Nov 29, 2022, 1:30pm

    Okay, it's been long enough.

    Knock yourselves out!

    Nov 29, 2022, 1:34pm

    Happy new thread, Richard dear!

    Nov 29, 2022, 1:57pm

    >10 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita! Your sapphire royal tiara awaits:

    Nov 29, 2022, 1:59pm

    Happy new thread, Richard!

    Nov 29, 2022, 2:07pm

    Happy New Thread!

    >5 richardderus: I had to go back to your last thread to see what that challenge was. I saw that it was the Read Harder challenge. Yeah, I'm with you there. I don't do well with these scavenger hunt type reading prompts. I'm sure manpeople like looking for books that meet certain criteria, but its just anxiety inducing in me. Just not into hunting for a book with a silent K in the title of a book that's predominantly puce in color. :p LOL

    Edited: Nov 29, 2022, 2:17pm

    Happy new thread, dear fellow.

    >9 richardderus: Yes, please!

    >8 richardderus: Shame you dropped #8 as I had been looking forward to seeing your December picks.

    Nov 29, 2022, 2:20pm

    >11 richardderus: Oh, thank you, Richard dear.
    Would match beautifully with my Yule outfit :-)

    Nov 29, 2022, 2:28pm

    >15 FAMeulstee: *smooch*

    >14 PaulCranswick: Oh and nobody to heck with it.

    Help yourself to the cookie plate.

    >13 mahsdad: Puce?! You're doing the *wrong*challenge* you *should* be doing the one for the gamboge cover!


    >12 ArlieS: Thank you, Arlie!

    Nov 29, 2022, 2:45pm

    I love the succulent Christmas tree, very nifty.

    Hope you enjoy the Detective Kosuke Kindaichi books. I listened to the first one earlier in the year and thought it was quite inventive. I liked the way if referenced other mysteries, assuming some degree of familiarity with the writing of the period.

    Nov 29, 2022, 4:41pm

    Happy New Thread, Richard. I love the Yuletide topper and hooray for Tom & Dustin and their precious little one.

    Edited: Nov 29, 2022, 4:42pm

    >18 msf59: Thanks, Mark! Isn't that photo a heart-tugger?

    >17 Helenliz: I've enjoyed them...I just don't know if they're #Booksgiving-worthy...I'm debating.

    Thank you, Helen! I thought it needed highlighting too.

    Nov 29, 2022, 5:28pm

    Happy new thread, Richard! I abandoned the ReadHarder challenge, too. I always love the *idea* and then I get stressed out trying to deal from someone else's list or category. I'll stick to my own random goals a bit more in 2023.

    Nov 29, 2022, 5:47pm

    Happy Yuletide and Happy New Thread, Richard!

    Going back to your old thread: >206. Gracias. So far my immune system is listening.

    >225. Favorite book(s). I admire your pick (101 Dalmatians), and it makes me think of my childhood favorite Oz books, starting with the Wonderful Wizard.

    But I’ll pick a recent re-read: Plainsong. I’ve invited Raymond McPherson to help us celebrate the season.

    I’m also willing to give Cove six stars out of five, having enjoyed it on your recommendation. I read another of his, too; the name escapes me.

    Nov 29, 2022, 6:37pm

    >21 jnwelch: Hiya Joe! Glad to see you here and NOT trailing a cloud of microbial enemies. Ooohhh, the Oz books were fun, weren't they. I don't think anything about them *consciously* influenced me as a political animal, but I can't be positive about that. I have lived a long damn time since I read anything kidly.

    Plainsong and its fellows are, as you're aware, not resonant to me. I wish they were. Y'all who love them so make it seem as though Revelation can be mine if only...and then there I sit with my teeth in my mouth, unaware of whatever numinous something isn't showing itself to me.

    Cynan is a fine writer and I'm glad the book spoke to you, too. The Dig or The Long Dry are possibles...maybe Stillicide, which I also really talked up?

    >20 bell7: I'm getting the message that I need to be my own goalsetter if I'm going to be a goaltender. It's been eons since I had an external goal that I accomplished and felt anything other than relief.

    That's not enough for me. So I'm going about it myself for a while to see what happens. Happy to see you here! *smooch*

    Nov 30, 2022, 6:17am

    225 The Honjin Murders (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #1) by Seishi Yokomizo (tr. Louise Heal Kawai)

    Rating: 4* of five

    The Publisher Says: One of Japan's greatest classic murder mysteries, introducing their best loved detective, translated into English for the first time.

    In the winter of 1937, the village of Okamura is abuzz with excitement over the forthcoming wedding of a son of the grand Ichiyanagi family. But amid the gossip over the approaching festivities, there is also a worrying rumour - it seems a sinister masked man has been asking questions around the village.

    Then, on the night of the wedding, the Ichiyanagi household are woken by a terrible scream, followed by the sound of eerie music. Death has come to Okamura, leaving no trace but a bloody samurai sword, thrust into the pristine snow outside the house. Soon, amateur detective Kosuke Kindaichi is on the scene to investigate what will become a legendary murder case, but can this scruffy sleuth solve a seemingly impossible crime?


    My Review
    : In a very Sherlock's-Watson fashion, the events of this premarital murder are narrated to us after the fact; we know, by this very technique, that the mystery is one that can be solved if we're game to follow the clues. Which clues? Well, the mystery-writer narrator and I are glad you asked:
    When I first heard the story, I immediately racked my brain to think of any similar cases among all the novels I’ve read. The first that came to mind were Gaston Leroux’s The Mystery of the Yellow Room and Maurice Leblanc’s The Teeth of the Tiger; then there’s The Canary Murder Case and The Kennel Murder Case, both by S.S. Van Dine; and finally, Dickson Carr’s The Plague Court Murders. I even considered that variation on the locked room murder theme of Roger Scarlett’s Murder Among the Angells.

    You really can't get a lot more fair-play than that, can you, giving the reader the crib sheet from which the author made choices and still, not to make it too easy by telling the reader *what* was cribbed from the Greats of the Golden Age. I found it endearing. I was very amused by the conceit, and by the writer/narrator following in the footsteps of the wildly disheveled amateur detective. Now...keep in mind this is a story written in the late 1940s and set in the 1930s. The idea of a Japanese man presenting himself as less than polished and perfect is damned near heretical. There was no beatnik, or proto-hippie, movement in Japan. It is a culture of Face, something I equate with my mother's endless mantra, "but what will People Think?" It's very, very important not to insult your neighbors, or your betters, by deciding to be different, to wear your Otherness on the featuring someone who's indifferent to Face in this mystery series is quite a powerful statement of value and intent on the author's part.

    What's important for your pleasure in an amateur-sleuth read? An aura of verisimilitude? A relatable cast of characters? An evocation of a place and time? I'd venture to say that no one would behave the way the characters in this mystery do...but I could be any rate, the point for me wasn't the verisimilitude (never is with amateur-sleuth mysteries, pace all you true-crime podcasters) but the delicious evocation of the time and the place:
    A honjin was a kind of inn in feudal Japan where daimyo lords and other important officials would stay on their way to or from paying attendance on the Shogun in the capital, Edo—the old name for Tokyo. Ordinary members of the public were not permitted to stay at a honjin. A family who owned such a high-class lodging house were also members of the elite, and so it followed that this was a place where the rules of high society were closely adhered to.

    The author, or more likely the editor and translator, gives me such a full and satisfying sense of the place with this simple paragraph. I wanted to feel transported and I well as catered to, told a story to, and one that really did leave me guessing until the end. Very satisfying that Anglophone readers are getting this series (it has SEVENTY-SIX MORE VOLUMES!!) at long last...the author's only been dead since 1981. No rush, guys.

    The things I wasn't quite so pleased to read were the class-conscious snobberies of the groom's family, presented without apparent or, to my mind, appropriate negativity cast on them. This being a thing that bothers me now, in the 21st century, I can't even try to guess if I'd even have noticed it had I read the book around the time the author died...almost forty years after it appeared. The snobbish tone is grating on old-man me, anyway. And the last chapter, number 18, is such a Golden-Agey thing...the way the guilty party is dealt with, the careful recounting of the places the clues were was both what I wanted, and a hair too much to swallow in one draft.

    If your mystery-story shelves are a touch too light, this is a good, solid, entertaining crotchets aside.

    Nov 30, 2022, 6:27am

    226 Death on Gokumon Island (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #2) by Seishi Yokomizo (tr. Louise Heal Kawai)

    Rating: 4* of five

    The Publisher Says: Kosuke Kindaichi arrives on the remote Gokumon Island bearing tragic news—the son of one of the island’s most important families has died, on a troop transport ship bringing him back home after the Second World War. But Kindaichi has not come merely as a messenger—with his last words, the dying man warned that his three step-sisters’ lives would now be in danger. The scruffy detective is determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious prophesy, and to protect the three women if he can.

    As Kosuke Kindaichi attempts to unravel the island’s secrets, a series of gruesome murders begins. He investigates, but soon finds himself in mortal danger from both the unknown killer and the clannish locals, who resent this outsider meddling in their affairs.

    Loosely inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, the fiendish Death on Gokumon Island is perhaps the most highly regarded of all the great Seishi Yokomizo’s classic Japanese mysteries.


    My Review
    : This 1971 publication is the second case for Kosuke Kindaichi by internal chronology. I'm going by that order because it makes the most sense to do so for my little orderly brain. we go!...there's a lot wrong with this read. It's a cultural thing, permaybehaps, but any time women are victims of crime by virtue of their femaleness, I check out. I don't like or want that kind of imagery in my head. The way the author presents this heinous tontine by accident of birth as...a puzzle, a problem to solve. He goes about the solution methodically, and of course murder is wrong, but...there's a sort of "well, they were just women, after all" lackadaisicalness to the proceedings that truly got up my nose.

    But I kept reading. Because there is a deeply unpleasant truth I must face in reviewing this book: I love a puzzle so much that, when I'm offered it wrapped in enough sweetly seductive mystery, I will just keep reading and ignore my squicked-out "but this is appalling!!" responses to see where we're going.

    Ew. True, but ew.

    The merest tinge of remorse, it seems to me, was plastered like a too-small figleaf over the fact that the whole crime...the entire murdering spree, ending three innocent women's lives...could easily have been prevented by a simple consultation with a living man's moral compass long before the events became inevitable. As it was, that crucial step now, with their deaths accomplished, the detective suffers agonies of self-reproach...they're still dead, dude. The blame's not really his, in all honesty. It's properly placed on the planner of the crimes and the idiots who blindly follow orders.

    It's a solidly atmospheric piece, which I know won't surprise you as it's the fruit of twenty-three years' practice of his craft. The translator's still giving us subtle hints about the cultural context and slyly explaining objects we in the West haven't a single clue about. The temple bell's cultural resonance...the island's peculiar patriarchal culture...the delicately handled, and odd, romantic strand that would've passed by me unremarked without the translator's quiet nudges...all beautifully handled.

    Culturally intriguing, nicely constructed puzzle, all get big ol' tick-marks. The last-minute application of regret, even though I think the whole story's revoltingly misogynistic, does at least gesture at some sense of the trope's wrongness. You should make your readerly decisions based on your personal tolerance for unpleasant-to-you subject matter.

    I've continued the series, so clearly it's not a deal-breaker for me. I really thought it would be.

    Nov 30, 2022, 7:02am

    'Morning, RDear. Happy Wednesday to you.

    Yesterday's book sorting went well. Sorting is always fun, and sometimes there's a book that may be worth $$, which is set aside for our researcher. Yesterday she said that whoever gave her the book by Bill Russell did a good thing. First edition, signed, value $200+. I was able to acquire some books that the team rejected. For me:
    Jefferson and Hamilton: The Struggle for Democracy in America by Claude G. Bowers
    The Risen by Ron Rash ex-libris
    various and sundry esoteric books on Christianity for friend Karen in Montana. I may or may not keep one or two for myself.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Nov 30, 2022, 7:27am

    Happy new thread Richard!

    Nov 30, 2022, 7:39am

    Wordle 529 3/6


    AEONS, MIRTH, STUDY Luckily I got the correct answer stuck in my head the minute I saw the two correct-but-misplaced letters. There wasn't another word I was considering so if it hadn't worked out, I'd've been left scratching my head!

    Nov 30, 2022, 7:42am

    >26 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita!

    >25 karenmarie: Morning, Horrible...I'm glad you got a good book-fondling session with such terrific finds. I'm always delighted when the Friends can make some good money on a book that'll make a collector have frissons.

    I'm already ready for my nap...Old Stuff woke me at 2am and I haven't been able to do more than snatch a little sleep here and there since. He's up at breakfast now, thank goodness.

    Nov 30, 2022, 11:36am

    >7 richardderus: Additions made to my planning post.

    Nov 30, 2022, 9:15pm

    Happy new thread from the land where poinsettias grow outside. Your first review sounds vaguely familiar.

    Nov 30, 2022, 10:53pm

    Happy New Thread! *smooch*

    Dec 1, 2022, 3:14am

    Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

    >28 richardderus: I hope you slept better this night.

    Dec 1, 2022, 7:02am

    Happy new thread Richard!

    I'll just have a hunt around for a suitable cat picture. Back soon ...

    Dec 1, 2022, 7:30am

    Happy new thread, Richard. I thought I did that already a couple of days ago but apparently, I neglected to hit the *post* button...

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:00am

    >34 jessibud2: Well, you're posting today so it's all good, Shelley. Thanks!

    >33 humouress: Not wise, not wise...force is met with counterforce....

    >32 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita, it was my night to perfect my impression of an inert log. I did it well, it seems, since I stirred myself not even one time. Thank goodness!


    >31 ronincats: Thank you, Roni! It's good to see you posting here.

    >30 Familyhistorian: I had an entire bank of poinsettias growing in front of the porch at our first house in Progreso, Texas. They were *brilliantly* red and I loved them. Weird how little I miss them, though...I'll take peonies growing in masses over poinsettias! Enjoy it, Meg.

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:10am

    227 The Inugami Curse (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #3) by Seishi Yokomizo (tr. Yumiko Yamakazi)

    Rating: 4* of five

    The Publisher Says: A fiendish classic murder mystery, from one of Japan’s greatest crime writers.

    In 1940s Japan, the wealthy head of the Inugami Clan dies, and his family eagerly await the reading of the will. But no sooner are its strange details revealed than a series of bizarre, gruesome murders begins. Detective Kindaichi must unravel the clan's terrible secrets of forbidden liaisons, monstrous cruelty, and hidden identities to find the murderer, and lift the curse wreaking its bloody revenge on the Inugamis.

    The Inugami Curse is a fiendish, intricately plotted classic mystery from a giant of Japanese crime writing, starring the legendary detective Kosuke Kindaichi.


    My Review
    : Ex post facto narration isn't a trope for me to consume in rapid succession without psychic consequences, it seems.

    When elderly Sahei Inugami finally has the grace to die already, he leaves behind the most viciously hateful will I can even conceive of. Much like the way Kindaichi gets into the family ugliness in Death on Gokumon Island via a request from someone who's dead now, the Inugami family lawyer calls on him to referee at the reading of this horrible will. Of course he dies on page three or thereabouts for his temerity.

    What follows is a twisting, terribly sad recounting of the endless resonances of privilege in a family's life. Privilege won, in a society like Japan's pre-war was, counted for was at best a grudging thing and this warped Inugami's experience of the prosperous life he wrested from an ill-willed social milieu. The man's surname means "dog god" and, since he was without a family, he had no way to know if it was something they'd have reason to take pride in or simply some long-vanished imaginative spark's cruel jest at him, an orphan.

    The Inugamis of the next generations are warped by the curse of wealth, of deference given but grudged, and their lives made purposeless by their patriarch's iron control. His life ended far too late for the family not to be cruelly torqued into self-aggrandizing defensive arrogance. The children of the old man's mistresses, since their disadvantages were somehow socially sanctioned by being obvious, weren't entirely guilty...of more than usual awfulness, anyway.

    What made this into a delightful set-up for a killing spree, also made it less than perfect: the presence of a gay couple whose dirty deeds made them unclean and unacceptable...period-appropriate and not exactly unknown as an attitude in present-day Japanese society. What bothered me the most, frankly, was the awful way a seriously disfigured war veteran was treated, described, dealt with; it all made his actions feel more like a man clawing back some dignity...too late and in the wrong way.

    Translator Yumiko Yamazaki made some odd-sounding choices for my ears, e.g. choosing to switch between using the proper word kōtō and the oddly off-kilter transliteration "zither"...while the instruments are related they are not identical...despite making quite a palaver about defining a kōtō as a zither, she goes on to use both in the text. If there was some pattern to when and why the different words were used, I couldn't discern it. This played into a kind of story fatigue, an unforgiving hardening of my narrative-transporting arteries.

    All in all, though, this survivor from Author Yokomizo's early publications presents a lovely and involving puzzle to solve, with several ancillary riddles on the edges of the main puzzle that were very interesting in themselves. I won't say it's perfect but I will say I've greatly enjoyed more time in Kindaichi-san's company.

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:17am

    Wordle 530 4/6

    AEONS, MIRTH, ELECT, EJECT Thank goodness I've had three squillion emails begging me for money to send to Sen. Warnock.

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:23am

    228 The Village of Eight Graves (Detective Kosuke Kindaichi #4) by Seishi Yokomizo (tr. Bryan Karetnyk)

    Rating: 4* of five

    The Publisher Says: The third title in Japan’s most popular murder mystery series—after The Honjin Murders and The Inugami Curse—fiendish classics featuring investigator Kosuke Kindaichi.

    Nestled deep in the mist-shrouded mountains, The Village of Eight Graves takes its name from a bloody legend: in the Sixteenth Century eight samurais, who had taken refuge there along with a secret treasure, were murdered by the inhabitants, bringing a terrible curse down upon their village.

    Centuries later a mysterious young man named Tatsuya arrives in town, bringing a spate of deadly poisonings in his wake. The inimitably scruffy and brilliant Kosuke Kindaichi investigates.


    My Review
    : "The Village of Eight Graves" has a terrible history, and a terrible genesis in violence and unchecked greed. The common run of its people are afraid of life; they believe, and thus find evidence for, their manifold misfortunes being rooted in a curse that hangs over their heads from a long-ago unforgivable act. They are thus creating those conditions, interpreting the common misfortunes of life in that context. Superstition is a powerful drug. It allows us to Be Right, and there is absolutely nothing humans like better, need more, will work as hard to attain and maintain, than Being Right.

    Bet you're nodding along....

    I wanted to Be Right that Author Yokomizo couldn't tell a poorly paced story. I was...Not Right. The issue with this read is that our usual omniscient Watsonesque narrator is not here. Instead we have an irritatingly dimwitted PoV character called Tatsuya, whose chills are very much on a par with Miss Silver's cough in the irritating-authorial-choice derby. He spends our time sort of vaguely bumbling around while stuff happens and people he has reason to kill up and die, and then Kindaichi-san pops up (as we knew he must but, if I'm honest, I couldn't tell you why or how this hard-luck burg caught his was that little melded into the story). So the killings and deaths, somehow all connected to the village's ancestral curse, will all stop. Right? Right. But this time it's not Kindaichi-san doing detecting. It's the rush of events that Tatsuya has trouble keeping up with that reveals the malefactors. Kindaichi-san is here as window dressing, like a late Poirot novel! *grumble*

    I sense a furtive glance up at the rating...yes, that's a "4" in front of the "*". What...the.... Well, it's like this: the translator, Mr. Karetnyk, proved more than capable of exceeding Ms. Yamazaki, the previous book's translator's, occasionally clunky choices. That was a big plus. Then there was the sheer gonzo pace of the murdering that's happening in Tatsuya's orbit. I can't quit a mystery mid-murder spree! I'm not made of stuff that stern. And the spree being so obviously calculated to implicate Tatsuya, who (poor wee lambkin) only now learned that the father who raised him was not only not his real father but knew who that person was...and Tatsuya was really thrown into emotional chaos by the entire unfolding plot to entrap and incriminate him through his parentage's revelation.

    Then, while the bodies were piling up and the exsanguination was about ankle-deep, we go on an historical treasure hunt! The awful crime the villagers committed all those years ago was, you see, fruitless; they did not find the treasure they had filled the titular eight graves for. And now that Tetsuya's here, there's a reason to have a treasure hunt! Why? I don't know, whatever, treasure hunt! Does it make sense? Not to me. I am long past suchlike ponderin' when it comes to these stories. The secret to enjoying them is to flow with the river.

    In the end, isn't that sort of a life lesson? Flow with the current, don't resist the pulls and changes, be there wholly and let the events unfold...I enjoyed this read's atypical ending a lot. I admit I don't want another Tetsuya narrator any time soon, but there was a reason he had to be the one to tell this story. It wouldn't have worked any other way, hence my seemingly over-generous rating. But do factor the change of focus via narrator into your reading plans.

    Now, Pushkin Vertigo, it's on y'all not to dangle us over the pit for too much longer! More soon, please.

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:30am

    Sweet Thursday, Richard. It is currently 15F. Don't let the sunshine fool ya. No outside birding for this guy. I will get some Jackson time in, both today and tomorrow. I miss the little fella. I am loving Trust. Not sure this if this one is on your radar but it is pretty damn good.

    Dec 1, 2022, 9:17am

    Happy new one, Richard! And the Yokomizo books look great. Yet another batch you've managed to deposit on ol' Mount TBR...

    Dec 1, 2022, 10:04am

    ‘Morning, RDear and happy Thursday to you.

    >28 richardderus: I’m sorry OS woke you up at 2 a.m. yesterday. I hope you got a nap or two in.

    >30 Familyhistorian: and >35 richardderus: We had poinsettias growing outside in SoCal. I never even knew they were a Christmas house plant until I moved to NC. We love ‘em but probably won’t get any this Christmas season.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Dec 1, 2022, 11:00am

    >41 karenmarie: Hi Horrible...luckily he doesn't do this often so it's endurable. No naps but what a great sleep!

    I don't want to bring poinsettias into a place where even putting them into a window for some sun is a death sentence.

    Spend Thursday splendidly!

    Dec 1, 2022, 11:12am

    Fellow Boomers! Get off your retired/disabled butts and make calls or do other menial labor for your chosen candidates.
    ALL of us, no matter how poor, need to give something to our chosen candidates. (I cut out buying bread and gave that $10 to Sen. Warnock's can do it, too.)

    Dec 1, 2022, 3:56pm

    Hello Richard, my dear friend, Happy New Thread dear fellow.

    Dec 1, 2022, 5:03pm

    Happy cat-free new thread, Richard! Sweet pic up top - the look of love and wonder on their faces is just meltmeltmelt.

    >37 richardderus: I see you didn’t have quite as much trouble Wordling today as I did.

    >43 richardderus: Yes, it’s not over.

    Edited: Dec 1, 2022, 6:02pm

    >38 richardderus: I have this one in the tbr mountain RD. Maybe I will get to by year end.

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:25pm

    >46 Caroline_McElwee: Don't rush it, Caro! Keep it on the shelf until you're in the most receptive of moods and it will go far better than otherwise.

    >45 Storeetllr: Not today! It was a very easy find in my evil little brain-like thing.

    ...wasn't it supposed to be by now...? *sigh*

    I loved it for that reason too, Mary...Tom on the left looking absolutely enraptured and Lance on the right looking giddy. So sweet. *smooch*

    >44 johnsimpson: Thank you so much, John. Happy Christmas-to-come to all y'all!

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:31pm

    >37 richardderus: Mine was slow and steady progress for a five after I had the E's and T in placeand fiddled around with letters in my head til i finally made a word.

    Dec 1, 2022, 8:39pm

    >48 bell7: Better than a harried rush to a skunking, but also totally understandable, Mary. It's never been much of anything like easy on the days when the absolute commonest letters predominate.

    Dec 1, 2022, 11:58pm

    >45 Storeetllr: ‘Cat free’? Thanks for the reminder …

    Dec 2, 2022, 8:06am

    229 On Spine of Death (By the Book Mysteries #2) by Tamara Berry

    Rating: 4* of five

    The Publisher Says: Don't miss the second installment of this gripping and funny bookish cozy mystery series by Tamara Berry! This case isn't just cold, it's practically frozen shut...

    In the aftermath of solving their first murder, bestselling author Tess Harrow and her teenage daughter Gertrude have decided to stay in Winthrop permanently. Now that they've made some updates to their cabin in the woods, they're turning to the family hardware store that Tess inherited and converting it into the town's first independent bookstore. But when renovations unearth bones from a cold case and send them toppling—literally—onto Tess's head, the work comes to a grinding halt. With the whole town convinced that her grandfather was a serial killer, Tess has to call in a fellow horror author for reinforcements. Together, they'll come up with a perfect story to make all the clues fit...and solve a mystery more than thirty years in the making.


    My Review
    : Not many writers will 'fess up to their weirdest research methods. Tess Harrow doesn't have a lot of choice...she's tied to a chair in a basement struggling to get free (research!) when the floor above her collapses. That, my friends, is how you open a story!

    When Tess, a bestselling thriller writer and mother of a teenaged girl, needs to make a big change in her life, the opportunity to take over her late grandfather's hardware store and cabin in small-town Washington State arises. Teenager in tow, off Tess hares. It's quite clear that she won't be running a hardware store so she does what so many writers say they'd love to do and decides a bookstore is what the town needs! (The town was not consulted, but never mind.)

    In the course of renovating the store, a skeleton is uncovered in Then there's another one! All in her dear old grandfather's store! Was her belovèd grandfather a murderer?! Or if not, was he an accessory to murder? Either way, Tess wants to know (let's face it, she's stumbled into one helluva tale) and the local Sheriff doesn't much want to speed his investigation up just for this high-handed Bigfoot author from out of town. There are Procedures. They're there to make a case solid and an answer to the Big Questions of who, what, when, and why (where being known in this case) trustworthy and that's what matters to his law-enforcement officer self.

    Tess, coming at this from three angles and none of them inspiring her to patience (store owner, granddaughter, thriller writer), naturally clashes with Slowpoke McPutt-putt. The sparks must fly, mustn't they, to make the needed heat for the series to rise to new heights? Add in the teenager's discomfiting fascination with Sylvie the coroner's job (to the point that she's shadowing the poor thing really, really closely as a school project), and there's a lot of moving parts. That's what makes the read so much fun...the way Author Berry keeps all the balls in the air and manages to cast your attention into the blind alleys she needs for it to be distracted by...well, it's fun to be in the presence of a skilled practitioner at her peak.

    The renovations, the bodies, the people who just *happen* to be not quite who they say they are, the motives for the locals to take sides on the uncomfortable rooting about for answers to the Big Questions...all are standard elements handled in deft ways. They aren't surprises. They aren't meant to be, and they're all the more welcome for not being. I think the series will have legs because it's already got a smile of its own. It's presenting your ma'at-sensing organs with truth and justice but they're not as simplistically presented as they can sometimes be in series mysteries. There's thoughtful commentary on the way of the world, there's a damn-near evergreen scented evocation of the way small towns in the piney woods operate, there's the always-fun fish out of water growing into a local institution trope...remember Northern Exposure?...and it's done with panache, if not philosophical depth.

    Great for the season's snatch-a-chapter-in-line reading habits because it's already episodic!

    Dec 2, 2022, 8:12am

    230 The Storyteller's Death by Ann Dávila Cardinal

    Rating: 4.5* of five

    The Publisher Says: From International Latino Book Award-winning author Ann Dávila Cardinal comes a gorgeously written family saga about a Puerto Rican woman who finds herself gifted (or cursed?) with a strange ability.

    There was always an old woman dying in the back room of her family’s house when Isla was a child...

    Isla Larsen Sanchez’s life begins to unravel when her father passes away. Instead of being comforted at home in New Jersey, her mother starts leaving her in Puerto Rico with her grandmother and great-aunt each summer like a piece of forgotten luggage.

    When Isla turns eighteen, her grandmother, a great storyteller, dies. It is then that Isla discovers she has a gift passed down through her family’s cuentistas. The tales of dead family storytellers are brought back to life, replaying themselves over and over in front of her.

    At first, Isla is enchanted by this connection to the Sanchez cuentistas. But when Isla has a vision of an old murder mystery, she realizes that if she can't solve it to make the loop end, these seemingly harmless stories could cost Isla her life.


    My Review
    : A young-adult fantasy-with-mystery that utterly charmed me. When Isla's unusual ability to recall, if that's the word, the stories of her family's past. If it involved one of her ancestors, she can see it! Like she was there! What a fascinating, and honestly useful, paranormal ability to have. She's got a window into her family's past that could be hugely important because, well, History is nothing but His Story and isn't it the greatest thing ever when Her Story can be told?! I was so excited!

    "Reality" had to intervene, stupid boring reality!, just like it always does...not everything that happened in the past was pretty. We know this, but Isla can see it because her abuelita, on her death, passed the mantle of being a cuentista, Story-Woman, to her. Suddenly Isla's mother's sad descent into alcohol abuse and her consequent abandonments of Isla with her grandmother in Puerto Rico made more's never explicitly said, but Isla's mother seems like someone who really couldn't handle the very dark gift of becoming a cuentista. Isla's painful childhood of betrayal and loss and coping with mental illness's consequences uniquely prepares her to cope with the true burden of Remembering her family's history. And it gives her the strength to right old wrongs.

    What a great idea, right?! And what a great market to target with this message, that everything that happens to you can be used to build something wonderful if you use it that way; something I truly wish more people were taught from little on up to spike the victim gun we tend to hold at our own heads. Isla's struggles with grief...her own, her mother' her father's early death were not dwelt on or minimized. Her mother's ongoing struggles with alcoholism are honestly, forthrightly presented as the major issue they can't help but be, yet aren't sensationalized or pounded into dust as the hobby-horse gets ridden. I was completely delighted with the storytelling voice, as well. In all, this sounds like a five-star rave, doesn't why's there a "4" in front of the "5"?

    Because, in service of speed I suppose, Isla faces next to no obstacles in her quest to understand the decidedly mixed blessing of becoming a cuentista. Anyone she needs to speak to, they're still alive and they're available now and they're eager to help. Hmm, that's a bit too easy...then there's the underexamined role of colonialism (internalized and not) inherent in stories about Puerto Rico's past and how that impacts her grandmother's growing up, her mother's choices, the whole kit and caboodle. The stories and their injustices were, it's true, redolent with the issues of racism and colorism, but these factors could have benefited from some further reflection in Isla's viewpoint's evolution. It's a small niggle. And it's way more than outweighed by the delight I felt in immersion into a family whose language world is Spanish-inflected English. This is something I very much enjoy and, while I'm bringing it up to you as a positive, there are readers who won't feel comfortable with it and thus might make their decision to read the story or not on that factor.

    On the whole I wish they would take the plunge and get the book from the library. Try the waters! There's nothing to lose except a small investment of time in that case. The strong possibility, in my view, of broadening one's horizons a bit more is well worth the risk. It's a lovely story and Cuentista Dávila Cardinal has the chops to bring you along on one really excellent ride.

    Dec 2, 2022, 8:27am

    >51 richardderus: Every town needs a bookshop or three.

    >52 richardderus: Intriguing.

    Dec 2, 2022, 8:28am

    >52 richardderus: That looks like something I should go and seek out, RD.

    By the way you have marched beyond 6,000 posts already this year on your threads, dear fellow. First time you have done so since 2014!

    Dec 2, 2022, 9:57am

    >54 PaulCranswick: I definitely agree you'd do well to seek it out, PC.

    I'm over 6,000 posts?! Wow!! That is a LOT. Since The Bad Year...that does make sense.

    >53 humouress:, >50 humouress: I wish I lived in a town with A bookshop. Just ONE would do me fine! But nooooooooo the only beach town in all the world with two surf shops and no bookstore! *sigh*

    I think you'd enjoy The Storyteller's Death, Nina. Go looking for it!

    Dec 2, 2022, 10:18am

    With the reservations, I'm going to get around to the other Detective Kosuke Kindaichi books in the new year. Borrowbox has 2 of the other 3 available to listen to.

    >52 richardderus: Intriguing is certainly the word for that one.

    Dec 2, 2022, 10:26am

    You're too far in for this to be a new thread, but if I haven't spoken before, persevere with joy!
    I'll come back later to look better.

    Dec 2, 2022, 11:30am

    Wordle 531 4/6


    Dec 2, 2022, 11:41am

    >57 LizzieD: Hi Peggy! Happy to see you whenever you're here. *smooch*

    There's a cornucopia of stuff to look at, so take your time.

    >56 Helenliz: Wise. I think there's nothing to be gained by rushing. And yes, it's quite intriguing and a surprisingly good time of a read...I went in hoping not to hate it too much and ended up liking it a lot.

    Being wrong is so *that* direction.

    Dec 2, 2022, 8:01pm

    Wishing you a great weekend, RD.

    Dec 3, 2022, 5:52am

    Happy weekend reads!


    Dec 3, 2022, 7:35am

    ‘Morning, RDear.

    Well. Bad me. I didn’t post here yesterday. I hope you had a wonderful day.

    >55 richardderus: You have so many amenities where you are, yet no bookshop? Sadness. Well, at least Rob can take advantage of the surf shops when he visits.

    I got today’s Wordle in 3.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Edited: Dec 5, 2022, 8:18am

    231 Dirt Road Home by Alexander Nader

    Rating: 4* of five

    The Publisher Says: City kid Logan Davis is about to find the family he never knew he was missing at the end of a country road.

    Logan has no interest in leaving Detroit. But when his impulsive mother shoves him and his brother, Dex. in the back of her old Buick to chase her newest husband in Tennessee, he thinks heading south will be the end of the world. A physical confrontation with a local football star on his first night in town seems to confirm his worst notions.

    Prepared to encounter every stereotype in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Logan soon discovers his new home might not be all that different. His knack for fixing up fast cars helps him fit right in with the wild and loud southern attitude. A chance encounter at a back road street race leads him directly into the path of the undeniable spirit of the south; her name is Leah.

    Dirt Road Home is a novel about finding yourself and realizing that sometimes you have to travel five hundred miles away from your house to find your home.


    My Review
    : My god, I hear regular readers saying under their breaths, what the hell got into this old man? TWO books you can call YA in two days...with four stars!

    Yep. The publisher reached out to me on Twitter before the book came out...not all the way sure why...and said "you'll like this book." And I did, really surprising myself most of all.

    Logan's a kid about to become a young man. He's got some skills at car-related mechanical work. He's got a mother who's a disaster at picking men. He's got a jock as an enemy in their new town. His just-barely-younger brother is his wing man, and his fellow gearhead. It's all gonna go just swell, ain't it, thinks annoyed frustrated Logan.

    Cue the girl, please.

    Leah's the kind of girl who goes to the street races. Not with someone, she goes on her own because she likes it. The best thing about this story for me was the way these two slightly weird kids felt the gravity of each others' existence. There's the key to the story being a coming of age/young adult book: they have that feeling for each other and the whole time, they don't even question it. They're each thrilled with their luck.

    Then there's the man his mother dragged her boys to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, to be with. Another disaster, I though cynically. Another antagonist. Indeed not, cynics. Greg is the absolute best guy...patient, kind, accepting...that everyone in the family could have hoped to meet. He's a prince among men.

    I *did* say it was aimed at young adults.

    Why I liked it, though, was the economical prose wasn't at the expense of the characters being realized. It felt to me that the details Author Nader gave us were quite simple, but carefully chosen.
    My phone beeps, interrupting my late-night, early-life crisis.


    I'm trying to decide if it would look better if I dug a giant sleep-booger out of my eyeball or just left it and hope she doesn't notice.

    I came away thinking Logan finally got something good out of the craptastic life his mother had led for them. I was glad for them all that Greg (for unkowable reasons) decided this was the woman he wanted out of the billions there are. Luck for them all, he did.

    I'm surprised at how much pleasure I got from this long-afternoon's read. I hope y'all give the story a chance to beguile you, too.

    Dec 3, 2022, 8:06am

    Happy Saturday, Richard. I had a full day with Jackson yesterday. He can wear this old guy out but never fails to put a big smile on my face. Back to winter temps today, which will keep me off the trails. Have a great weekend, my friend.

    >43 richardderus: Nailed it!!

    Dec 3, 2022, 8:53am

    Saturday *smooch*

    Psst! I think you have the wrong touchstone in >63 richardderus:...

    Dec 3, 2022, 9:00am

    >62 karenmarie: You don't HAVE to post every day, Horrible. I know how life is!


    >61 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita!

    Dec 3, 2022, 9:04am

    >65 katiekrug: I certainly did! Thanks for pointing it out!


    >64 msf59: It seems to me that we're, as a group, ready to complain but not to contribute. If *I* can make my food budget stretch to cover a donation to a *critically*important* political campaign, it's not clear to me what other, more comfortably fixed, folks are complaining about.

    Dec 3, 2022, 10:00am

    Wordle 532 4/6

    AEONS, MIRTH, STROP, TORSO Interesting path....

    Dec 3, 2022, 12:14pm

    >50 humouress: Uh-oh. (Sorry, Richard.)

    >67 richardderus: I know I contributed more in the last election cycle than I did in the past 10 years altogether. No new art supplies for me for a while, and no big Christmas presents this year, but great satisfaction that, though we did not keep the House, we did keep the Senate, and the much touted red wave turned out to be a little more than a ketchup stain on the wall of a tawdry room in a glitzy hotel in Florida.

    Dec 3, 2022, 2:33pm

    >69 Storeetllr: I'm not sure you can be held accountable for genetic supervillainy, Mary.

    I think the least I can do is to give up some food to help keep the scum from having a cakewalk over our right to build a world they'll hate.

    Dec 3, 2022, 7:42pm

    >69 Storeetllr: Oh, I love your "ketchup stain" description! Another of my favorites was Colbert's? "pink trickle"--it makes me squeamish, but is so funny.

    Karen O.

    Dec 3, 2022, 11:12pm

    Dec 4, 2022, 8:58am

    ...not even a lasagna one...truly, genuinely, genetically a supervillainess.

    Dec 4, 2022, 10:02am

    Hiya, RDear. Happy Sunday to you.

    Jenna and I put the artificial tree up just now and, with some more unbending and rearrangement of branches, should have a pretty decent Christmas tree once we decorate it. So easy. Of course Jenna did most of the work, but she's young and strong. More patient than I am, too.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Dec 4, 2022, 10:19am

    Wordle 533 3/6


    Dec 4, 2022, 10:20am

    >74 karenmarie: The reason to have children is thus revealed.

    Sunday *smooch*

    Dec 4, 2022, 4:09pm

    Hi Richard - popping by to say hello. Sorry I've been absent recently but I've been spending a lot of time trying to resolve some issues with my mother. She's reached the stage where she needs to move into a residential home, and I'm trying to sort that out.

    Dec 4, 2022, 5:07pm

    >77 SandDune: Hi there Rhian!

    I'm glad to see you whenever you're here. I'm so so sad for the troubles you're enduring and working through with your mother's living situation. It's just not one bit of fun.

    I'll see you whenever you can find it in you to come around, and hope you'll all have a happy holiday in consideration of all that's happening.

    Dec 5, 2022, 1:38am

    Dec 5, 2022, 6:48am

    Hi RD! Happy Monday to you.

    >>76 richardderus: Jenna laughed when I told her your response. “That’s completely fair.”


    Dec 5, 2022, 8:18am

    Morning, Richard. I hope you had a lovely Sunday. I had a lazy one, with the books and some football, (my Bears suck!). Chilly start to the day here but I am going to still meet my birding buddies for some fresh air and exercise.

    Dec 5, 2022, 8:18am

    Happy Monday, Richard.

    Dec 5, 2022, 8:20am

    232 Truth is a Flightless Bird by Akbar Hussain

    Rating: 4* of five

    The Publisher Says: President Obama's impending arrival to Nairobi is the electric backdrop to this dazzling debut, Truth is a Flightless Bird. Yet, beneath the glittering celebrations, beats the pulse of a city aflame.

    It is into this crucible that Nice (real name Theresa) lands, fleeing her Somali drug-dealer boyfriend, her brutal UN work in Mogadishu, and the life choices stalking her. So desperate is she to flee that she involves one of her oldest friends, Duncan, an American pastor heading a church in Nairobi. On the way back from the airport, their car crashes, and Nice is abducted by a crooked immigration cop, Hinga.

    Duncan awakes after the car crash to find himself captive to the sociopathic Hinga, and the charmingly amoral Ciru. Plucked from his middle class bubble, Duncan must plunge into the moral complexities of the under-city to rescue Nice. But how deep can Duncan go, without destroying his faith, and himself?

    Truth is a Flightless Bird is a brutal love letter to the frontier town that is present-day Nairobi: a studied observation of the the failures of bare-knuckled capitalism, the inequality machines our cities have become, and—ultimately—the profoundly irrational human capacity to hope, to risk everything in order to have something in which to believe.

    With Truth is a Flightless Bird, Hussain establishes a remarkable voice, one truly his own.


    My Review
    : The African view...especially the Kenyan view...of Barack Obama's presidency wasn't like the US view in most particulars. Kenyans saw the son of one of their own people rise to the most powerful position in the world and felt slightly awed and overjoyed. (I don't need to discuss what happened here. You know.) It was a moment of real hope, much like the moment the war criminals in charge squandered when the World Trade Center was brought down.

    When there aren't "legitimate" means to make a living, improve one's lot in life, people find other means to accomplish those eternally applicable goals. That the drug-smuggling world brings misery and poverty to millions, and millions to the very, very few, doesn't matter to those whose needs include enough food and a decent place to live. (Nor do these same concerns animate the decisions of the tens of thousands in this country who work for defense contractors, or chemical manufacturers.) Nice, as young Theresa is called, is a bored American girl whose needs are catered to by a drug-dealing Somali boyfriend...she's in Mogadishu on an international-aid financed jamboree...and she's cajoled into becoming a drug mule. Fly from Mogadishu to Nairobi, deliver the goods, come back and all will be well.

    All is not well.

    Nice is kidnapped by people who would prefer their own profits get fattened by the cargo inside Nice. Duncan, her fellow American and a truly clueless White Savior spreadin' the Gospel to people he begins to realize need something to explain the randomness of the Universe and he's there, so he'll do. It's a sobering moment, facing up the fact you're really not qualified to speak for God. Especially when that's the path you've chosen to tread.

    When it comes to the Kenyans who set the plot's stressful parts in motion, they're all driven by Big Needs. You know, Revenge and Power and stuff like that. Nothing one here's hurtin' for their next meal. What I got most clearly when I read this uniquely sourced thriller was that there's really no one in it who has one single solitary excuse for what they're doing to make others miserable. Lots of reasons! Not one excuse.

    The other thing I learned is that it's hugely dangerous to imagine you're in any way immune from the consequences of your actions. Long may it be so, only a little more equitably distributed and on a thriller novel's time scale. Every one of these souls is screwed over, screwed up, and just plain screwed when the story ends. I wonder if any of them learned anything...I wonder what they dream about when they think of their time in Nairobi. I suspect a lot of "what might have been"s are thought.

    None of the characters have great depths that get plumbed but this is a thriller so why would they? What we're offered instead is telling moments...a man thinks of his worthlessness while looking at a grieving father's earlobes in the strong sunshine through a window, a woman picking up an airplane-food omelette whole and shoving it into her mouth...that concisely delineate the characters' inner states. The quietness of it could be read as an absence of effort on the author's part. I say it is, rather, a subtle and really quite uncharitable summing-up of the people in question.

    These aren't the details a writer of schlock calls to your attention. They're subtle selections presented at an oblique angle. They are the epitome of show me, don't just tell me. To be sure, there are moments of telling me what might profitably been shown:
    To this revelation, which crystallized so much of Duncan's recent experience, Edmund delivered that devastating dialectical upper cut. With a curl of his lip, he asked, "So what?"

    Duncan was too stunned and stoned to formulate a sentence.

    Too bald. Too prescriptive...I can only be allowed one response to someone who has curled a lip...and not in keeping with the best moments of storytelling in here.

    I'll still recommend to y'all that this book join your library. I think what it offers is what the best kinds of thrillers offer: A window into the worst moments of an unremarkably decent person's life. A view into a world not quite as you thought it was, or should be; that no one thinks is as good as it could be. And the bonus is that you're in competent hands guided by eyes and ears that have been where they're telling you about often enough and long enough to command your belief. There's the indefinable air of a person with local knowledge imparting it to you.

    Go on the trip, give your thriller-eater the trip, or best of all do both.

    Dec 5, 2022, 8:47am

    Wordle 534 5/6

    AEONS, MIRTH, ENJOY, WOUND, WOKEN Clearly not caffeinated enough.

    Dec 5, 2022, 8:56am

    >82 Helenliz: Thanks, Helen! I'm glad it's December. The heart of the winter's ahead! Wheeeeee

    >81 msf59: Hi Mark, enjoy your birding today. It sounds like great weather for it, what with no precip but plenty of reasons for them to stay still in one place. Bag a lifer!

    >80 karenmarie: Heh...well, it is, isn't it? *smooch*

    Dec 5, 2022, 8:57am

    >84 richardderus: - 5 for me today, too, and I was caffeinated!

    Dec 5, 2022, 9:36am

    >86 katiekrug: Maybe it wasn't just caffeine...though my word #4 didn't use one of the established-correct letters, so I think it was just not being focused that led to me hitting "enter" when I would've seen it had I been juiced up.

    I hope.

    Dec 6, 2022, 5:05am

    >84 richardderus: 4 for me; I had four correct letters all in the wrong place on the third guess. Today's however; I had three correct letters in the wrong place on guess 1 and had them in the right places for guesses 2 to 4. Took me 5 today.

    Dec 6, 2022, 6:09am

    'Morning, RDear, and happy Tuesday to you.

    >83 richardderus: None of the characters have great depths that get plumbed but this is a thriller so why would they? So true.

    I'm coffee'd and Wordled. Jenna will be up in the next 15 minutes or so to get ready for work.

    I've got books at hand and etc.

    *smooch* from Madame TVT Horrible

    Dec 6, 2022, 9:04am

    Wordle 535 3/6

    AEONS, MIRTH, AMBER The first letter in the correct position made this one a doddle for me.

    Dec 6, 2022, 9:10am

    >89 karenmarie: Morning, Horrible, happy Tuesday wishes heartily returned. have books? Like, actual physical books to hand?! When did this happen? Unprecedented, out-of-character behavior for people around everything okay?

    *smooch* from a perhaps-overcaffeinated moi

    >88 humouress: It's really helpful to have the right letters but it's a game-changer to have the first one in the correct position. The field narrows so dramatically as to give the game away if there are two or even three other letters right but not correctly placed.

    Dec 6, 2022, 9:17am

    >91 richardderus: You had four letters to my three and the M would have helped me immeasurably.

    Dec 6, 2022, 10:04am

    >92 humouress: No kidding! That's one big reason I keep using the two-starter system.

    Dec 6, 2022, 10:09am

    Good morning, Richard. Good for you and your 3! 4 for me today. My rule is that I don't use my second word if I have 3 right in the first one. I should have gone alpha for my third word, but I used the one I thought of first instead. Oh well.


    Dec 6, 2022, 10:41am

    >94 LizzieD: Morning, Peggy! I'm pretty sure that I stare hard at a three-letters-in-one moment before moving on to the second word. Because AEONS is so vowely it often doesn't help much unless they're in the correct positions. Some days are indeed little gifties from Wordle, but most are puzzling slogs through the swamp of my "brain" trying to find an ivory-billed woodpecker in a place of buzzards and skeeters.

    Dec 6, 2022, 11:44am

    >90 richardderus: Excellent Wordling! Took me 5, but it’s all good, right?

    Karen O

    Dec 6, 2022, 5:56pm

    >96 klobrien2: Hi Karen O.! I'm grateful every time I get another day added to the streak, for sure. So much of my idea about the game really shifted when I realized how little I really had to contribute to the outcome...only my well-stuffed vocabulary.

    Dec 6, 2022, 7:03pm

    >97 richardderus: Yep--another instance of the benefit of being a reader! Being a crossword fan is helpful, also, I would think.

    Karen O

    Dec 6, 2022, 8:30pm

    >83 richardderus: Ok, you got me with that one!

    Dec 6, 2022, 9:01pm

    >99 drneutron: mean I don't usually get you...?


    >98 klobrien2: I'm guessing that the crossworders of LT are overrepresented in the Wordlers!

    Dec 7, 2022, 2:53am

    >93 richardderus: Ah; but does that preclude a 2 Wordle day?

    *buffs fingernails*

    Dec 7, 2022, 5:59am

    ‘Morning, RD. Happy Wed-nes-day to you.

    >91 richardderus: Yes, I have many books at hand, although right now I’m only reading bits and bytes on my Kindle. *smile*

    I’m having lunch today with Rita the Branch Librarian. I blame her and the County Librarian for the fact that I’m still President of the Friends after three years. However, I gave my resignation, effective June 30, 2023 in July and am really looking forward to being on the Board only in an advisory position as Immediate Past President.


    Dec 7, 2022, 8:04am

    Wordle 536 4/6


    Dec 7, 2022, 8:09am

    >102 karenmarie: Morning, Horrible! I'm still stunned at the sheer weight of all you Easton Press books. But the desire to have a good book to hand is universal among us biblioholics. Stasia's long-forewarned worldwide book drought is a-comin'.

    >101 humouress: It doesn't preclude it, no; but once it's happened it's done. I used a new second word today but the Wordlegoddess didn't take the bait and give a second 2day. *sigh*

    Dec 7, 2022, 8:18am

    Happy Wednesday, Richard. My Rehab duties went well yesterday. It is the "slow" time of year there, so a lot less animals. I got to tend to a flying squirrel which was a treat. They are common here but good luck ever seeing them in the wild. I have Trail Watch this AM. Juno and the books in the PM. Life is good.

    Dec 7, 2022, 8:28am

    233 Red Sky Morning: The Epic True Story of Texas Ranger Company F by Joe Pappalardo

    Rating: 4.5* of five

    The Publisher Says: The explosive and bloody true history of Texas Rangers Company F, made up of hard men who risked their lives to bring justice to a lawless frontier.

    Between 1886 and 1888, Sergeant James Brooks, of Texas Ranger Company F, was engaged in three fatal gunfights, endured disfiguring bullet wounds, engaged in countless manhunts, was convicted of second-degree murder, and rattled Washington, D.C. with a request for a pardon from the US president. His story anchors the tale of Joe Pappalardo's Red Sky Morning, an epic saga of lawmen and criminals set in Texas during the waning years of the “Old West.”

    Alongside Brooks are the Rangers of Company F, who range from a pious teetotaler to a cowboy fleeing retribution for killing a man. They are all led by Captain William Scott, who cut his teeth as a freelance undercover informant but was facing the end of his Ranger career. Company F hunted criminals across Texas and beyond, killing them as needed, and were confident they could bring anyone to “Ranger justice.” But Brooks’ men met their match in the Conner family, East Texas master hunters and jailbreakers who were wanted for their part in a bloody family feud.

    The full story of Company F’s showdown with the Conner family is finally being told, with long dead voices being heard for the first time. This truly hidden history paints the grim picture of neighbors and relatives becoming snitches and bounty hunters, and a company of Texas Rangers who waded into the conflict only to find themselves over their heads—and in the fight of their lives.


    My Review
    : I'll start by lauding what other readers have liked least about this book: It is a mosaic of multiple stories, and intentionally so. The design of a history that's focused on a story, not a biography, is to collate the fascinating pieces and ugly, disfiguring truths that make up the whole picture of the moment in's meant to be taken in piece by piece, and assembled in one's mental theater as a whole image of The Defining Conflict.

    To that end, we meet the main main, James Brooks, as he surveys Cotulla, Texas, on the day he joins the Texas Rangers in 1883. Author Pappalardo begins, then, at a beginning...but we're going to see other beginnings as we go along. We'll see the last of active Rangers Captain Brooks in Cotulla, too...and that's the kind of symmetry I appreciate in a story.

    What happens between those two events, not hugely distant in time, is...a lot. A great deal more than one person's life generally holds, and a great deal less as well. Brooks, in his entire life of genuine service to the people of Texas, never shook a debilitating addiction to alcohol and an equally debilitating inability to form sustaining, intimate friendships with anyone. This included, as it is so sad to say, his own family. He was married to one woman his entire adult life. There is no record or indication in any recorded memory that he found any sense of companionship or happiness in their union, nor did she express any enduring or undying affection for her husband. His children were dutiful, and always played their role of help and sustenance for him, but again there is not any record of them feeling hero-worship for their truly outsized and outstanding father.

    Brooks County, named for the Captain (as he always preferred to be referred to and addressed despite having the options of Representative or Judge), was a creation of the remarkable man's efforts to drag a thousand square miles of mesquite scrub and caliche and its few thousand residents out of the hands of a corrupt Democratic party machine in the early twentieth century. He was, at the time, a State Representative, and his life-long campaign of fair treatment for Spanish-speaking people and law-abiding souls of all skin colors and ethnicities made Brooks County and Falfurrias havens of good, equitable Democratic-party led government.

    In the chapter dedicated to this end-of-life résumé of Brooks, there are résumés of his cohorts in Company F, all of whom were with the Captain during the main action of the book...the take-down of the Sabine County-based Conner crime family in the weird swampy Louisiana-like East Texas world. It was a long, tense fight on the logistical and legal levels, and Author Pappalardo doesn't stint on the practical details. There are a LOT of people in this story. There are a LOT of names that appear, then aren't mentioned for a while, then reappear with minimal fanfare. There is a Dramatis Personae that can be bookmarked or hyperlinked in your ereader, and I strongly suggest that any readers do that very thing. I found it hugely helpful and on occasion, to my utter lack of surprise, its completeness and thoroughgoing explanatory notes were interesting enough to make me want more books about this century-old vanished culture.

    What I want from histories is a sense of the why of things. The what is great as a launchpad but I really treasure whys. In that arena, Author Pappalardo is a strong deliverer. I was never at a loss for reasons to pick up the book. I took it at a measured pace, a chapter a week and a section or two a day. I think this is the most likely technique to give the story its full room to expand and its details to slot into each others' proper settings. Since I am from Texas, I was prepared with some ideas of the roles of lawmen, and specifically the Texas Rangers, in the state's history. Since I am from that part of Texas, it was even more of a sense of homecoming, of learning my own family's cultural past. That added soupçon of personal connection is likely the source of the extra half-star I hung on the book.

    It really is extra, as I can understand from others' responses to the read. Quite a few readers were unable to see the nature of the story being told and that is squarely on the author's shoulders. His stated aim is to answer this quote from one N.A. Jennings, a former Texas Ranger of that time and later an author in his own right:
    "Near everyone has heard of the Texas Rangers, but how many know what the Rangers really are, or what are their duties? In a general way, everyone knows they are men who ride around on the Texas border, do a good deal of shooting, and now and then get killed or kill someone. But why they ride around, or why they do the shooting, is a question which might go begging for an answer for a long time without getting a correct one."

    This expectation being set in the Introduction, I can see a history buff feeling let down. This isn't the book that answers that question. It doesn't seem to me to be particularly likely to, set up as it is to tell the story of a group of Rangers involved in one of the organization's formative operations. The personal focus falls most heavily, and in my opinion correctly so, on the Captain, James A. Brooks, and the people he led come in for bits and snatches of attention. But the light that shed on the Texas Rangers as a whole, while bright and revealing, does not get even partway to explaining the entire late-1800s period of the organization's existence that Author Pappalardo indicated it will.

    But what the book actually does is, to my way of thinking at least, as valuable or even more so. It traces the roots and the branches of a conflict between the law-and-order forces of state power and the flouters of same whose actions and influence were seriously detrimental to the community as a whole's ability to live their lives free from fear and danger. There are people worse than police today, there were in the 1880s, and the worst is when those terrible actors turn the police into their henchmen. Along come the Texas Rangers of Company F to reset the expectations of the community for law enforcement...and they do.

    For the better.

    It might not be what we think of in terms of law enforcement's role today, after Rodney King's beating and George Floyd's and Ahmaud Arbery's murders at their hands; but it is true, it happened, and it's worth considering that if it seemed impossible to the people of Sabine County in 1885, and it wasn't, that it isn't impossible today either.

    That deserves my attention, and my praise.

    Dec 7, 2022, 11:33am

    Oh my stars, Richard! I would never, ever consider picking up a book about the Texas Rangers, but you have convinced me that *RSM* is something I should have on my shelf and eventually in my mind. On the wish list it goes. Thank you.

    I kept my 2 words, of course, and had enough to get Wordle in 3. I wish we could think of another combination of starters that gives all the vowels, the 5 or 6 most common consonants, and Mary's troublesome letter. Hmmm. That's too many letters. I like the new second word, but your decision will be when to use the old one and when to use the new........
    Anyway, Long Streak the Streak! *smooch*

    Dec 7, 2022, 12:05pm

    >91 richardderus: " have books? Like, actual physical books to hand?! ..."


    Dec 7, 2022, 12:06pm

    >107 LizzieD: - Psst. I have 2 starter words that give me all 6 vowels. If you can find my thread, have a peek. I always put wordle behind a spoiler...:-)

    Dec 7, 2022, 1:19pm

    >107 LizzieD: Hey there Peggy! I think I'll rotate among MIRTH, MURKY, and MIGHT for a while to see if anything needs changing around again.

    I'm so pleased you're considering Red Sky Morning! Might be one to request from the library though....

    >105 msf59: A flying squirrel! Do they get spiffy little badges the way we used to when we flew alone as kids?

    Juno's got to be thrilled you're devoting so much time to her. Her previous homelife didn't have such attentive companionship, did it?

    Dec 7, 2022, 1:24pm

    >109 jessibud2: I'm pretty sure most who read our word choices separate from the puzzles won't retain them too clearly. It does make sense to get all the vowels struck from contention early. Keeps one from gibbering in a teensy heap in quiet corners, moaning about AEOLA and SKIRL being unfair.

    >108 ArlieS: :-)

    Dec 7, 2022, 2:54pm

    >110 richardderus: I'd say I, R, T, H and G are more likely than U, K and Y - but your choice. Wordled in 2 today (7th Dec).

    Dec 8, 2022, 3:18am

    Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

    Interesting conversation about starter words for Wordle.
    I only failed once with my two present starters, so I'll keep them for now :-)

    In Dutch I now rotate two first words, and choose my second based on how many letters are right.

    Dec 8, 2022, 9:18am

    Lynne Tillman, novelist and essayist (most recently of Mothercare: On Obligation, Love, Death, and Ambivalence), says in her newest book:
    Life doesn’t proceed in an orderly way. It frustrates people who need to control every part of their lives, who go berserk when anything changes on them. Life doesn’t allow it, total control, and things will go south, and north, every which unexpected way.

    This being pretty much a summation of my own journey through life, I was pleased when I started reading some gifted-to-me New York Times Book Reviews and ran across Tillman's By the Book mini-interview in the 2 August edition...she'll have something interesting to say and will say it pithily, I thought, so settled in. This page-long q-and-a sets the featured writer a list of standard questions much like those James Lipton asked his guests on the 1990s show Inside the Actors Studio. One in particular stood out to me:
    How do you organize your books?
    The usual way, I begin alphabetically. Then I'm flummoxed. First of all, I buy more books than I will ever read. I might dip into and out of them. The books outgrow their letter on the shelf. I start moving books to the next shelf; there's no room. I stack them. I put nonfiction here, fiction there. Some writers do both. Together or apart? Together is auteur theory. The stacks get higher; I can't see my books. As a kid-reader, I thought a library was the great thing to build in life. Now, unless you have a huge house with enormous rooms, this desire leads to mayhem and depression. Now, I give away books I didn't particularly like or will never read again or can easily find. With digital, with online and actual libraries, do I need to keep so many books, though I have a small hoarder in me. Once, I believed, apart from my love of books, having a library meant I was intelligent, well read, etc. Now I know that is absurd. I will never ever part with many books. Maybe I'll have them cremated with me.

    We are all, as Dee Goong An said, as Heaven made us. And Heaven made me a lot like Lynne Tillman.

    Dec 8, 2022, 9:25am

    >113 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita, happy Thursday! I hope you're reading something wonderful right now. Our Wordleing strategies are always interesting to compare. They are to me, anyway. But I'm old enough to be interested in the weather, too.

    How does Woordle treat "ij" as one character or two?


    >112 humouress: They are MUCH more likely, you're correct, but the point of this two-starter tactic is to flush out things you wouldn't necessarily see otherwise. I'm always annoyed when, for example, I would've got the answer if I'd had the "Y" from the get-go.

    I'll probably alternate the words.

    Dec 8, 2022, 9:33am

    Wordle 537 4/6

    AEONS, MURKY, PREEN, INFER First trip and I'd've done better with the old word!

    Dec 8, 2022, 10:16am

    >115 richardderus: Woordle makes two characters of "ij". In the first months it got me a few times with it, as in my mind it is one character. There are no more Dutch keyboards, so the "ij*" as one character is gone in this digital age. Some old entries at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek still have the "ij*" as one character.

    *The real Dutch ij, can be produced by & #307 ; without the spaces

    Dec 8, 2022, 11:11am

    Burgoine #80

    A New World by Steven Popkes

    Rating: 4.5* of five

    The Publisher Says: On his first voyage seeking the Far East, Columbus finds a new world occupied by intelligent dinosaurs.

    The expedition does not go as planned.

    Steven Popkes lives in Massachusetts on two acres where he and his wife raise bananas, persimmons and turtles.

    He works in aerospace making sure rockets continue to go where they are pointed. He insists he is not a rocket scientist.

    He is a rocket engineer.


    My Review
    : A shortish read, novella length, about the very best possible outcome of Almirante Cristóbal Colón's disastrous voyage to the New World: An enemy worthy and capable of resisting the scumdog religious nuts instead of normal people susceptible to diseases the evil bastards miasmically transmitted to them.

    It's a lovely thought.

    Told from several points of view in its fewer-than-100 pages, it doesn't linger on details or travel down intriguing side paths. That's understandable but regrettable. The presence of a Marrano on the voyage is, I think, allohistorical...but I can't prove that. I enjoyed the different outcome of first contact...not everything going the Spaniards' way...and relished very deeply the hints of complexity in the New World's radically new social structure. I think this is plausible since the asteroid hit the Yucatán in our own timeline by accident; as little as ten minutes earlier or later, the entire history of the planet would certainly have been different.

    Would dinosaurs have survived? Would humans have evolved if they had? Sure, why not, this is a story! And a fun one, perfect for #Booksgiving. To yourself, or to others.

    Dec 8, 2022, 1:45pm

    Wow. I followed Abby's link to my Early Readers wins over the years, and there are a LOT of books I just never posted my reviews for! I am gobsmacked. I have spent a couple days digging some of them up on my blog and posting them at last. Shocking that I just failed to do so for so long!

    Dec 8, 2022, 2:18pm

    >117 FAMeulstee: I do not see what the heck anyone gains from eliminating "ij" as a character...but there it is, people do things that make no sense whatsoever. *sigh*

    Dec 8, 2022, 7:16pm

    >114 richardderus: That's such a great answer! I think she'd be at home in my books - semi-organized, fiction by author and then shoved on top, nonfiction by topic-ish, fantasy and other nonfiction in piles upstairs because I don't have enough bookshelves. Because of course that's the problem - not too many books.

    Dec 8, 2022, 8:51pm

    >121 bell7: ...too...many...books... looks like English but conveys no meaning to me. "Too" and "many" can not be used together when modifying "books".

    I loved Tillman's answer, too. I think I'd like her! I think she'd like us here, too.


    Edited: Dec 9, 2022, 6:42am

    Hiya, RDear, and happy Friday to you.

    >118 richardderus: Ya got me. Available on Kindle for $1.99, already on my Kindle, already #347 in my book acquisitions list for the year. The description of the author is as interesting as the premise.

    Ooooh - Wordle in 2 today for me.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Dec 9, 2022, 7:31am

    >117 FAMeulstee:, >120 richardderus: Delurking because I find this linguistic stuff fascinating. You might think elimination of a character is a product of our tech-infused era. But no! It's happened before!

    Thanks to YouTube's algorithm, I recently learned of the Old English letter thorn:

    Thorn represented the "th" sound, but died out because of the introduction of the printing press. Because there were no fonts that could replicate this character, they used "y" instead. Hence: "Ye Olde Shoppe".

    You're welcome. 😀

    Dec 9, 2022, 7:55am

    Happy Friday, Richard. You sure got my attention with Red Sky Morning: The Epic True Story of Texas Ranger Company F. It seems tailor-made for me. Great review, plus I have a good friend named Joe Pappalardo. Grins...I am trying to shake off a nasty cold so I won't see Jackson this morning but maybe later in the day. We may get some snow today but it shouldn't stick around for very long.

    Dec 9, 2022, 8:18am

    234 The Wolf Age: The Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons and the Battle for the North Sea Empire by Tore Skeie (tr. Alison McCullough)

    Rating: 4.5* of five

    The Publisher Says: Thrilling history provides a new perspective on the Viking-Anglo Saxon conflicts and brings the bloody period vividly to life, perfect for fans of Dan Jones

    The first major book on Vikings by a Scandinavian author to be published in English, The Wolf Age reframes the struggle for a North Sea empire and puts readers in the mindset of Vikings, providing new insight into their goals, values, and what they chose to live and die for.

    Tore Skeie ("Norway's Most Important Young Historian") takes readers on a thrilling journey through the bloody shared history of England and Scandinavia, and on across early medieval Europe, from the wild Norwegian fjords to the wealthy cities of Muslim Andalusia.

    Warfare, plotting, backstabbing and bribery abound as Skeie skillfully weaves sagas and skaldic poetry with breathless dramatization as he entertainingly brings the world of the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons to vivid life.

    In the eleventh century, the rulers of the lands surrounding the North Sea are all hungry for power. To get power they need soldiers, to get soldiers they need silver, and to get silver there is no better way than war and plunder.

    This vicious cycle draws all the lands of the north into a brutal struggle for supremacy and survival that will shatter kingdoms and forge an empire…


    My Review
    : This Norwegian historian's viewpoint on the rise and spread of the late-Viking-era North Sea empire. The seeds of this immense stretch of territory coming under one ruler were set in the attacks of Harald Gormsson, King of Denmark, (whom we call "Bluetooth" and yes, he's the source of the name of the wireless connectivity protocol on your phone) on the rich and peaceful (therefore ripe for robbery) Anglo-Saxon Kingdom(s). His wars against the neighboring Saxon Kingdom along the Baltic Sea coast were costly, and even resulted in his loss of control over Norway; much money for rearming and hiring mercenaries was needed and, well, Anglaland ho! Alas, his death came before he could finish a war of conquest in what is today a coastal region of Poland.

    Aethelred the Redeless, who fought Harald and Sweyn his whole life, on his coinage
    We don't see all that much of Harald in English-language histories, but he was more than the raiding monarch seeking silver to pay for his wars. He was also the one who introduced a centralized coinage for Denmark, guaranteeing its value would always be the same wherever one was paid in it. And one means of assuring that? Go get silver from someone else. The English have lots! And so it came to pass that the immensity of the North Sea became the middle ground between two halves of one fact, for a brief time, and in imagination for a longer one.

    Harald's son Sweyn (opponent of "Saint" Olaf Haraldsson for the title of King of Norway, who is pictured above), after successfully rebelling against him, continued his father's efforts to unite the coasts of the North Sea under his family. A period of uncertainty in his rule before his first reported raid on the murderers of his kinsfolk in their midst (the appalling St Brice's Day massacre!) beginning a long campaign of looting and terror against the English. This campaign turned into occupation; the occupation turned into becoming the King of the English in 1013. Leaving England in the hands of his second son, he hurried off to fight another war...and died before 1015.

    He was thus not as successful as was his own son, King Canute as he is known in English and Cnut the Great at home (his coin portrait is above). He ruled all three kingdoms, Norway from 1028, Denmark from 1018, and England from 1015, for twenty years and made a decent fist of it. What happened, as happened to most all territorially great empires, was just the reality of physics. In an era without motorized transport, the chances of maintaining control over a huge swath of territory are not great. Cnut did not overcome the odds, dying in 1035 with England still barely under his control. His descendants continued to cherish hopes of reacquiring England until Edward the Confessor died in 1066, when Harald Hardrada was killed with his army at the Battle of Stamford Bridge defending his, um, very (very) extended family's claim on the wealthy English realm. This was the last gasp of the North Sea Empire as envisioned by Harald Gormsson a century before.

    The territorial drive of the father, son, and grandsons wasn't out of character; wasn't unusually violently for the era; and is ripe for reconsideration by English-language readers to account for our lamentable tendency to simply unsee the viewpoints of others on our shared histories. This volume is the first translated, for the most part skilfully, into English. I'd say the one concerning lacuna in this rendering into English of a popular history written in Norwegian is the use of colloquially still prevalent "Anglo-Saxon" in reference to the people, not the culture, of England from the 6th through 11th centuries. It's established through the use of genomics that the people of England are still largely Britons. It's a minor cavil in a work of popular history.

    More frustrating to me is the lack of maps in the DRC. There are (see above) very nice black-and-white illustrations at the chapter opens but in my DRC, there weren't maps and, in any history text that discusses battles, that is a serious omission. I am aware that there are indeed maps in your final copies, I hasten to say, but I haven't seen them and can't comment on their effectiveness at conveying information they're meant to. I left off only a half-star in my rating, however, because that lack was both unique to the DRC and somewhat compensated for by the sheer pleasure of reading the skillfully translated text. Alison McCullough deserves much praise. While there is a sense of the original text's depth of scholarship, the primary affect of this book is one of absorbing, intelligent conversation overheard by the reader...not all the references or historical figures will stay in one's mind, available for instant recall, but even at lazier moments when I didn't feel like chasing a reference or an actor in the endnotes, or the "Overview of Persons" as this text charmingly calls the Dramatis Personae, I was carried along by what felt to me like very readable, accessible prose. Enough explanation was offered to my non-specialist brain to enable me to move forward with a real sense of the ethos in which events transpired.

    Overall, the point of a book such as this...a lovely illustrated trade-paper edition of popular history about the pre-Norman Conquest world of to please and intrigue the history buff on your gifting list. (Or you, of course.) I feel confident that it will serve that purpose.

    Pushkin Press continues its streak of fascinating, unusual in the US, points of view presented in beautiful and pleasurable format.

    Dec 9, 2022, 8:22am

    >126 richardderus: Hmmmm, that does look like an interesting bit of history that I don't know much about.

    Edited: Dec 9, 2022, 8:34am

    >127 bell7: Hi Mary! See the next review, too....

    >125 msf59: Hi Mark! I agree...Red Sky Morning should be a real success for you. I hope you can get one from the library.


    >124 lauralkeet: It's one of those "ooohhh" moments when you realize there's a simple, and lazy, reason for people to be deprived of their full heritage...thorn and eth are two very useful-for-English characters and *I* for one think we should demand that they be returned to us! Why should Iceland have all the fun?!

    >123 karenmarie: Ooohhh!! A 2day! They're such fun, aren't they? I'm off to therapy shortly. I'll come look at your happymaker a bit later. *smooch*

    I'm glad the story got you in the wallet since it's such a paltry price. I'm bettin' you'll enjoy the inventiveness.

    Dec 9, 2022, 8:33am

    235 Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings by Neil Price

    Rating: 4.5* of five, rounded up

    The Publisher Says: The definitive history of the Vikings—from arts and culture to politics and cosmology—by a distinguished archaeologist with decades of expertise

    The Viking Age—from 750 to 1050—saw an unprecedented expansion of the Scandinavian peoples into the wider world. As traders and raiders, explorers and colonists, they ranged from eastern North America to the Asian steppe. But for centuries, the Vikings have been seen through the eyes of others, distorted to suit the tastes of medieval clerics and Elizabethan playwrights, Victorian imperialists, Nazis, and more. None of these appropriations capture the real Vikings, or the richness and sophistication of their culture.

    Based on the latest archaeological and textual evidence, Children of Ash and Elm tells the story of the Vikings on their own terms: their politics, their cosmology and religion, their material world. Known today for a stereotype of maritime violence, the Vikings exported new ideas, technologies, beliefs, and practices to the lands they discovered and the peoples they encountered, and in the process were themselves changed.

    From Eirík Bloodaxe, who fought his way to a kingdom, to Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir, the most traveled woman in the world, Children of Ash and Elm is the definitive history of the Vikings and their time.


    My Review
    : Far broader in scope than The Wolf Age (reviewed above), this is the most compact (at under 650 pages) and the most comprehensive overview I've ever read of the "Viking Age" Norse as we here to their South call the multiple groups of Scandinavian traders, slavers, warriors, and rapists who burst the seams of their colossally cold homeland in search of new lands and lots of money. Spoiler alert: they got them.
    If the data from the Continental written sources is combined, the protection money paid to the Vikings during the ninth century totalled about thirty thousand pounds' weight of silver, most of it in cash: a sum equivalent to seven million silver pennies over a period when the estimated total output of the Frankish mints was in the region of fifty million coins. This equates to approximately 14 percent of the entire monetary output of the Frankish empire—for a century—evaporated in the payment of extortion demands that produced no tangible positive gain, and, in many cases, failed to appease the Vikings anyway.

    (italics in the original)

    There is so much to unpack in that's shockingly obvious that appeasement is seldom a worthwhile strategy, and is always an expensive one; the reputation of the Norse people as warriors was such that they merely needed to show up to be given boatloads of money to go away again; and the tribute in kind, not just the cash they brought home, kept the balance of hunger on the rightful owners of the land and food not the invaders. The Frankish kingdom, then, was more changed by its experience of Viking invasion than was even England, though both countries saw significant influxes of Norse population, arriving to make the country their home...with variable amounts of success. (See St. Brice's Massacre.)

    That is all part of the middle, or "Viking" era that this volume is divided into. The first part of the text is called the "Migration" era. It is the time that saw huge cultural and climatic changes in Europe. There was pressure to find land to farm and patches of sea to exploit during this time, as well as the successor states to the Roman Empire arising and contending with each other for influence and territory. And ending the book is a kind of summation of the influence this phenomenally active and successful force in the world.

    I was delighted to have the maps to help me interpret the movements and stations of Norse cultural expansion. I was also impressed wt the copiousness of the in-line illustrations. It is expensive to make a book this attractive and it's not a terribly pricey purchase at $35 for a hardcover. Basic Books has done a creditable job of this without making it a coffee-table book or a category-gift book.

    Author Neil Price is a professional archaeologist. It is evident from the tone and tenor of his writing that his primary interest is in making you aware of the facts; he doesn't make the same amount of effort with the storytelling aspects of his writing. I've excerpted one of the typical passages where he's clearly making the effort to show the reader how phenomenally effective the Vikings were at their chosen task of redistributing others' wealth back to themselves. It's a fact, presented factually, that conveys a gigantic emotive affect of the Viking warriors. It is laudably clear; it is admirably placed for effect within the text (you'll have to trust me on that one); but it doesn't rise as high into the rhetorical clouds as Author Tore's book does.

    It is, as a gift item, a good value; as a gift received, a real pleasure on all levels. It's a hefty tome, though, so for your friends whose needs are more for thinner reads, the ebook is a dead cheap choice!

    Either way anyone wanting an accessible, enjoyable, and thoroughgoing overview of the Vikings as historical actors is in luck this Yule.

    Dec 9, 2022, 8:37am

    >128 richardderus: and >129 richardderus:
    Alright, alright. *Trudges off the the TBR list*

    Dec 9, 2022, 9:26am

    ^Yeah, me too.

    Pretty accurate with the BBs today, Richard... 😀

    Dec 9, 2022, 9:37am

    >124 lauralkeet: Thank you, Laura. Linguistic stuff is interesting, and the decline of the Dutch ij is a pet peeve of me.
    Similair case, new technology (printing press) can't properly reproduce.

    Edited: Dec 9, 2022, 9:43am

    >132 FAMeulstee: It's so *stupid*! If the screen can flexibly reproduce anything we can imagine, what's gained by eliminating something that does an actual job?

    >131 drneutron:, >130 bell7: *there there, pat pat* You'll thank me later.

    Dec 9, 2022, 10:05am

    Wordle 538 3/6

    Thank GOODNESS I used my old second word! AEONS, MIRTH, BRAID

    Dec 9, 2022, 11:59am

    I'm aware there's a lack of general enthusiasm for the new Three Pines series out from Prime. I tend to favor it since I think Alfred Molina has Gamache's character down (though I am a little inclined to agree with Katie that he's a bit rumpled for complete accuracy). I ran across this RadioTimes interview with him:
    "My 16-year-old granddaughter asked me, 'Well, what's his superpower?' And I said, I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but his superpower is empathy. Not just his willingness to empathise, but his desire to empathise, his need to understand and see a point of view that may not be his own.

    "I think that's what makes him kind of special as a detective, he has a moral standard about he won't carry a gun, even though it's standard issue for Canadian police. So there was, not a moral compass exactly, but just an understanding of self, knowing that this is who he is and he can't be anything else. And this desire to discover why things happen, rather than just how it happened, and who's responsible."

    That is, to me, as good a statement of Gamache's character as any I've ever seen. Also, he made them use him as an exec producer and that made me feel better about his involvement. He's invested and hoping for more seasons, so I hope he stays the course.

    Dec 9, 2022, 12:14pm

    >133 richardderus: It only does an actual job in a very small part of the world. And there is an alternative available that is more in line with global needs.

    Dec 9, 2022, 1:07pm

    >135 richardderus: Thanks for sharing the article, Richard. I like Molina's Gamache, and the bit you quoted.

    Dec 9, 2022, 1:27pm

    Just dropping off Friday smooches!

    Dec 9, 2022, 1:50pm

    >138 MickyFine: Hi Micky! Thanks for the smoochings.

    >137 lauralkeet: He's a terrific actor, and what's better as an omen than that? I'm crossing all crossables he stays the course.

    >136 FAMeulstee: *sigh*

    I keep hoping we'll stop the steamroller of conformity sometime soon. So far little luck.

    Dec 9, 2022, 2:04pm

    >126 richardderus: He shoots! He scores! What a pity I'm not reading as much this year as last, so books being added to my TBR list today may not be tracked down and read until at least 2024.

    Dec 9, 2022, 2:33pm

    >140 ArlieS: Great, Arlie, I hope its turn comes as a pleasure.

    Whenever it happens, the book will be there waiting and the same.

    Dec 9, 2022, 2:39pm

    >132 FAMeulstee:. You'll be glad to know that the IJ is alive and well in my little corner of California.

    Local brewery that we goto on occasion (one of them being tonight) is called Brouwerij West


    Dec 9, 2022, 2:57pm

    >114 richardderus: Yup to the Tillman quote on the organisation of her books.

    Dec 9, 2022, 3:10pm

    >142 mahsdad: Lol, Jeff, apparently there are Dutch breweries all over the world! :-)
    But you missed the point, the IJ as I+J is still there, and will survive. It is the single character IJ that is disappearing.

    Dec 9, 2022, 4:17pm

    >144 FAMeulstee: Well that will teach me for not keeping up with the threads. I missed that part. But I should have figured out from the context of Laura's post >124 lauralkeet: about the thorn character.

    And whatever happened to the Interrobang - the ?! character. :)

    Dec 9, 2022, 5:37pm

    >145 mahsdad: Here: ‽
    & # 8253 ;

    >145 mahsdad:, >144 FAMeulstee:, >142 mahsdad: :-)

    >143 Caroline_McElwee: Yeah, she's One of Us fer sher, Caro.

    Dec 9, 2022, 7:10pm


    Dec 9, 2022, 8:43pm

    >141 richardderus: That gave me a much needed good laugh!

    Happy weekend :)

    Dec 9, 2022, 9:14pm

    >148 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita! Glad you got a good laugh.

    >147 mahsdad: :-P

    Dec 10, 2022, 6:00am

    Hiya, RDear, and happy Saturday to you.

    >126 richardderus: and >129 richardderus: Excellent reviews of books about an endlessly fascinating subject.


    Dec 10, 2022, 8:51am

    Happy Saturday, Richard. I am waking up this morning feeling better. It has been a tough few days. We also have Jackson over. Sue and the precious boy are still sleeping in the guest room. He is also getting over a cold but still brings sunshine in any room he enters.

    I am absolutely loving The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. I can't believe I dragged my feet for so long on this one.

    Dec 10, 2022, 9:57am

    >151 msf59: Hiya Birddude! I'm so glad your catarrh is slowly releasing you. You might get to spend some lovely time with Jackson!

    There was a moment when I thought about reading The Colony of Unrequited Dreams but my Facebook/Goodreads friend Allie wasn't keen so I sort of lost the desire. Revive me!

    Happy weekend.

    >150 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible, I'm glad you liked the reviews. They're really, really good reads indeed. I was probably more impressed with Neil Price's book, it's just so vast, but enjoyed Skeie's book a bit more. Reading about our shared history from a new-to-me viewpoint was deeply satisfying. Skeie spends so much time teasing out family relationships and characterizing them that I was giddy from the sense of seeing the web of interconnection so clearly.

    Saturday *smooch*

    Dec 10, 2022, 9:58am

    Wordle 539 3/6

    AEONS, MURKY, KNOCK Lucky day...deciding to use the alternative #2 paid off in spades.

    Dec 11, 2022, 8:08am

    236 Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons, photos by Ed Anderson

    Rating: 4.5* of five

    The Publisher Says: Gone are the days when a lonely bottle of Angostura bitters held court behind the bar.

    A cocktail renaissance has swept across the country, inspiring in bartenders and their thirsty patrons a new fascination with the ingredients, techniques, and traditions that make the American cocktail so special. And few ingredients have as rich a history or serve as fundamental a role in our beverage heritage as bitters.

    Author and bitters enthusiast Brad Thomas Parsons traces the history of the world's most storied elixir, from its earliest "snake oil" days to its near evaporation after Prohibition to its ascension as a beloved (and at times obsessed-over) ingredient on the contemporary bar scene. Parsons writes from the front lines of the bitters boom, where he has access to the best and boldest new brands and flavors, the most innovative artisanal producers, and insider knowledge of the bitters-making process.

    Whether you're a professional looking to take your game to the next level or just a DIY-type interested in homemade potables, Bitters has a dozen recipes for customized blends–ranging from Apple to Coffee-Pecan to Root Beer bitters–as well as tips on sourcing ingredients and step-by-step instructions fit for amateur and seasoned food crafters alike.

    Also featured are more than seventy cocktail recipes that showcase bitters' diversity and versatility: classics like the Manhattan (if you ever get one without bitters, send it back), old-guard favorites like the Martinez, contemporary drinks from Parsons's own repertoire like the Shady Lane, plus one-of-a-kind libations from the country's most pioneering bartenders. Last but not least, there is a full chapter on cooking with bitters, with a dozen recipes for sweet and savory bitters-infused dishes.

    Part recipe book, part project guide, part barman's manifesto, Bitters is a celebration of good cocktails made well, and of the once-forgotten but blessedly rediscovered virtues of bitters.


    My Review
    : This is a classic gift book for the Dad who drinks, has all his basic needs met, and still you need to hand him something under the Yule tree. The book won the 2012 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Beverages. It's not as much a history of the concept of "bitters" as it is a practical guide to using bitters in drinks and food, as well as lovely images of what they could look like.

    the back cover with its celebrity endorsements

    From my point of view this is the kind of gift that serves your need to acknowledge Dad/father-in-law, his need to expand or polish hs repertoire, and both of y'all to get a good drink.

    There are several other food recipes, and the page layout...sorry, no samples are available online...has a column on the outside dedicated to ingredient lists with the illustrations and methods lined up on the inner page gutters. It works to make the usability of the recipes, whether for drinks or desserts, fine for use with book-stands. A nice touch, typical of the publisher; and it translates well to Kindle editions.

    Dec 11, 2022, 8:21am

    sorry, no samples are available online

    I thought you meant you weren't offering us any cocktails and I was going to ask what the publishers sent you.

    Dec 11, 2022, 8:22am

    237 Jazz Age Cocktails: History, Lore, and Recipes from America's Roaring Twenties by Cecelia Tichi

    Rating: 4.5* of five

    The Publisher Says: How the Prohibition law of 1920 made alcohol, savored in secret, all the more delectable when the cocktail shaker was forced to go “underground”

    “Roaring Twenties” America boasted famous firsts: women’s right to vote, jazz music, talking motion pictures, flapper fashions, and wondrous new devices like the safety razor and the electric vacuum cleaner. The privations of the Great War were over, and Wall Street boomed.

    The decade opened, nonetheless, with a shock when Prohibition became the law of the land on Friday, January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment banned “intoxicating liquors.” Decades-long campaigns to demonize alcoholic beverages finally became law, and America officially went “dry.”

    American ingenuity promptly rose to its newest challenge. The law, riddled with loopholes, let the 1920s write a new chapter in the nation’s saga of spirits. Men and women spoke knowingly of the speakeasy, the bootlegger, rum-running, black ships, blind pigs, gin mills, and gallon stills. Passwords (“Oscar sent me”) gave entrée to night spots and supper clubs where cocktails abounded, and bartenders became alchemists of timely new drinks like the Making Whoopee, the Petting Party, the Dance the Charleston. A new social event—the cocktail party staged in a private home—smashed the gender barrier that had long forbidden “ladies” from entering into the gentlemen-only barrooms and cafés.

    From the author of Gilded Age Cocktails, this book takes a delightful new romp through the cocktail creations of the early twentieth century, transporting readers into the glitz and (illicit) glamour of the 1920s. Spirited and richly illustrated, Jazz Age Cocktails dazzles with tales of temptation and temperance, and features charming cocktail recipes from the time to be recreated and enjoyed.


    My Review
    : A very interesting social history of the life and times in which the cocktail culture arose. I was most impressed with the beautiful book design and illustrations, starting with the frontispiece and title page:

    Handsome, easy to read, and very well presented. I'm always happy when I see this level of attention from a publisher. Of course, this is only the very first thing we'll see and thus might not see this level of attention inside. It does happen.

    Not in this book. An example of a recipe spread:

    and this is a character illustration spread:

    Clearly presented text, charming images, and then there's the content. Author Tichi's erudition really shows in her clear prose (not unexpected from a Vanderbilt University lecturer in US History of the Modern Age) and her research is amply documented. What it isn't is cited in the text itself...not a terrible flaw in a popular history aimed at intelligent and curious laypeople. Had her audience been fellow academics, she has the information in her bibliography so she could have made citations with ease.

    The extent of Prohibition was a mere thirteen years from enactment and enforcement to repeal. It changed the US forever. So many things we take for granted now...government licensing of food and drink establishments, police with paramilitary powers, a strong political urge to control peoples' personal lives to "improve" their morals...started or accelerated during Prohibition. Author Tichi's own academic interests are defined by these changes and their cultural concomitants in literature, art, and technology. In her afterword, she shares the personal dimension of her interest in the era. It is a well-written work of social history, focusing on social issues that arose or were centered at that time, and still a lovely object suitable for Yule gifting to your brother or father. They'll enjoy the history. They appreciate the cocktails' charmingly presented methods and presentations.

    A hardcover book is very much a gift item in this day and time. We've had a few supply-chain issue years what with the COVID plague. The charm of this affordable book is that it's been out for a year-plus now and is in order placed will be delivered quite quickly. Not a small consideration.

    I recommend this as a good gifting idea on a topic of enduring interest. It's solid value for money. And it's readily available.

    Dec 11, 2022, 8:25am

    >155 humouress: Ha! Well, no, they weren't that creative or that generous, I fear. (Besides, it was over a decade ago so memory isn't reliable.)

    Dec 11, 2022, 8:36am

    Drive-by octopus bomb!

    Dec 11, 2022, 9:31am

    >158 ronincats: Oh WOW Roni! I am very impressed. He's gorgeous! Where did you find him?!

    Dec 11, 2022, 9:39am

    Wordle 540 3/6

    AEONS, MIRTH, NAIVE was kinda obvious...

    Dec 11, 2022, 9:45am

    'Morning, RDear! Happy Sunday to you.

    >154 richardderus: and >156 richardderus: Mom and Dad made mixed drinks, but I was a Philistine and only made rum and coke, Screwdrivers, and Tequila Sunrises during my 'heyday' as a mixed drinks maker. The few times I hung out in bars and needed to nurse a drink, I'd get a Whiskey Sour because I didn't really like it. I only have one friend that I know of who keeps a liquor cabinet/cart, and he's in his 90s. I have Bill's mama's fancy liquor cart, which I keep my old stereo/CDs on upstairs. More than you ever wanted to know, right?


    Dec 11, 2022, 11:31am

    >159 richardderus: Unfortunately they are based in Europe and don't sell in the US.

    Dec 11, 2022, 12:43pm

    >162 ronincats: Oh cool, thanks for letting me know. I'm not likely to buy anything that just sits around. I simply haven't got the room for it. I'll just go window-shopping to get their gestalt.


    >161 karenmarie: Hey there, Horrible. I can think of few people who, these days, would need or use a cocktail cart. It's so much less a part of hospitality and entertainment culture. Which, to be honest, I sort of miss. I think some boozin' is a good way to give the world one's best. The problem's always the addicts of the world. It can't simply be ignored, as we once did, that there are people who do not have an off switch.

    Ah well, "when you know better, do better" isn't an empty slogan for me. Even when I'd rather not live by it!


    Dec 11, 2022, 1:15pm

    Best. Nativity. EVER.

    Dec 11, 2022, 1:33pm

    *raises hand*

    We have a bar cart!

    Dec 11, 2022, 2:22pm

    >165 katiekrug: I am *not* gobsmacked. Bet it's properly stocked, too.

    Dec 11, 2022, 2:41pm

    Mais bien sur!

    Dec 11, 2022, 5:31pm

    Sheesh. Two, two BBS taken. You gave me a heads up about the bitters book over on my thread, but Jazz age cocktails? Yes, please!

    Edited: Dec 11, 2022, 5:35pm

    >164 richardderus:. 😂. I love that Nativity scene.

    We were just watching the extra-fancy making of cocktails on Netflix’s Drink Masters. It’s the next best thing to a baking show, surprisingly. I don’t drink them much, and while I enjoyed your reviews, I don’t feel a need to read about them.

    I’m another Fan of Molina’s Gamache. That interview excerpt you provided shows how much he “gets” the character. I found the first two episodes a bit ho-hum, and the next two much better.

    I’ve just started Marple, a collection of Jane stories by other authors, on loan from Becca. Fun!

    Dec 12, 2022, 4:08am

    Dec 12, 2022, 6:56am

    ‘Morning, RDear, and happy Monday to you.

    >163 richardderus: Yes, there have been too many alcoholics in my life, including a boyfriend who could have been The One… 'No off switch' is right.

    >164 richardderus: Ooh, yes. I just noticed Batman, too.

    >165 katiekrug: I’m impressed, Katie.


    Dec 12, 2022, 7:23am

    I'm always intrigued by cocktails but am rarely brave enough to actually try one. I'm always worried that I won't like it - and that's a waste. Partial to a Black Russian, and have an elderly bottle of Tia Maria to indulge occasionally. Although I do have to remember to buy Coke; he drinks Pepsi max for preference and that's not an acceptable substitution!

    >164 richardderus: Too right.
    At ringers dinner Saturday & was sat opposite the vicar & her husband. They've got an inflatable nativity on order for the vicarage lawn. Vicar's husband was corrected more than once when he described it as a blow up nativity. That could be an entirely different thing!

    Dec 12, 2022, 7:33am

    I’ve actually started drinking more cocktails in the last few years as when we go out with Jacob and his girlfriend they are quite likely to order a cocktail (and of course parents are paying). And if they are having a cocktail it seems a bit skinflint not to have one myself …

    Dec 12, 2022, 8:30am

    Morning, Richard! I hope you had a great Sunday. I had a perfectly lazy one and I loved not having to watch my lowly Bears lose.

    Ooh, the bitters book sounds tasty. The past couple of years, I have been really enjoying my bourbon consumption. I love the old-fashioned and Manhattan but my go to it is a neat pour, with a small cube or two. This lets you enjoy the full flavor of whatever your tippling.

    Dec 12, 2022, 9:25am

    Hello, RD. ((Hugs)) and **smooches** from your absent friend. I have missed being here. Thank you for helping to keep my thread warm through the rough times.

    Hate can't be read away, but ignorance can. Read more. Read better. Reach up for the stars on the darkest nights ahead.

    I agree 100%. You have taught me much through the years. Not all Christians are dismissive of people who are not.

    Dec 12, 2022, 10:19am

    >175 alcottacre: Stasia! How lovely to see you out and about!

    I know that, my lovely, and I call you and those like you "real Christians." You're *vastly* outnumbered by the nasty, beady-eyed hate factories. Sadly.

    >174 msf59: Bourbon and bitters is a lovely combo, especially to me who isn't a fan of bourbon's too-sweet edge. I mean, it's made from corn, so it totally makes sense but...well...not for me.

    ALL drinking's been off my list for years now but I can remember how much I enjoyed the flavors. That's really more than enough.

    >173 SandDune: Quite right, too, on all of it. We're wallets on legs while this time of life transpires. Might so well as enjoy the process.

    Dec 12, 2022, 10:29am

    >172 Helenliz: I liked some cocktails better than others, but mostly liked scotch with a bit of cold water and one ice cube. Simple pleasures.

    "Blow-up Nativity" does have a ring these days, one that one might wish not to clang out there.

    >171 karenmarie: Monday funday, right Horrible? The presence of addicts in one's life is either a signal to give in and join them or to resist and refuse their drug of choice. I only recently began resisting Being Right's seductive siren call, and that's an addiction as fierce and destructive as any other.

    Would you expect anything less from our own Katie, Horrible? She's *exactly* the one I'd predict would wheel out the bar cart and begin dispensing the drinkable medications.

    >170 humouress: Heh. *fistbump*

    Dec 12, 2022, 10:36am

    >169 jnwelch: The first two Three Pines episodes weren't fast-paced, were they. I just forgive a show anything except actively awful performances the first few episodes. The writing will carry them while they fit themselves into these new suits, or else it's dead...and the writing did that. Enough of the dialogue and the scenes they chose were solid that it was will get even better.

    Mixology is interesting! I'm not likely to follow you down that rabbit-hole, but the way people hide the poison's taste is endlessly fascinating.

    >168 drneutron: Oh, just you wait until you see today's lovely trinkets...juuust you wait...!

    >167 katiekrug: *smooch* I would expect no less, Katie.

    Dec 12, 2022, 10:40am

    Wordle 541 3/6


    Dec 12, 2022, 10:50am

    I've ordered the Bitters book for TW for Christmas. He loves to page through things like that and keep them for reference...

    Dec 12, 2022, 11:31am

    238 The Atlas of Atlases: Exploring the most important atlases in history and the cartographers who made them (Liber Historica) by Philip Parker

    Rating: 5* of five

    The Publisher Says: This beautiful book is a lavishly illustrated look at the most important atlases in history and the cartographers who made them.

    Atlases are books that changed the course of history. Pored over by rulers, explorers, and adventures these books were used to build empires, wage wars, encourage diplomacy, and nurture trade.

    Written by Philip Parker, an authority on the history of maps, this book brings these fascinating artefacts to life, offering a unique, lavishly illustrated guide to the history of these incredible books and the cartographers behind them.

    All key cartographic works from the last half-millennium are covered, including:

  • The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, considered the world’s first atlas and produced in 1570 by the Dutch, geographer Abraham Ortelius,

  • The 17th-century Klencke—one of the world’s largest books that requires 6 people to carry it,

  • The Rand McNally Atlas of 1881, still in print today and a book that turned its makers, William H. Rand and Andrew McNally into cartographic royalty.

  • This beautiful book will engross readers with its detailed, visually stunning illustrations and fascinating story of how map-making has developed throughout human history.


    My Review
    : There is, on every gifting list, that guy. The one you just...can't...figure...out what to gift. Often they're smart, and deeply interested in something, usually something you've never heard of or think is so boring you'd rather pluck your nose hairs with needlenose pliers than think about.

    This is the present you need for that guy, whatever gender they present and/or identify as.

    Politics? You damned well better bet that politics-obsessed guy knows about maps and their political implications. Author Parker does, too. There's a huge amount of trouble stirred up in this world by making changes to maps. The Gulf War of 1990 was sparked when Saddam Hussein published a map showing Kuwait as Iraq's nineteenth province. Yes, to be clear, it was an excuse but it passed the sniff test around the world...that is how powerful a map is as a political statement.

    India and Pakistan, created from one VAST swathe of land by a few strokes of the Imperial British pen...decades of war over Kashmir being there not here, here not there. Israel? Do I even need to type it? The Toledo Strip in the US? Your politics-obsessed guy

    The history guy...the one who, when awakened from sound slumber can rattle off the presidents of the United States in order starting from the ninth (actually pretty interesting, William Henry Harrison, he was...oh, right, back to what I was saying before) or the Khmer Empire's date of foundation (or as close as we can get, anyway, the seventh century CE wasn't a time with hugely good surviving material culture in writing since they didn't have...yeah, yeah, okay) certainly knows what maps really mean in the world.

    What better way to chart a culture's opinion of itself and its history, not to mention its future, than to look at its maps? Or maybe even more importantly, who drew or draws its maps and why...the US Government produced the Atlas of the United States on paper until 2007 then digitally until 2014, and now...Google does it. The GPS revolution, the web that Time Berners-Lee imagined and enabled with his hyperlinking technology, all depend on an infrastructure less than half a century old. Atlases and maps are centuries old. Paper is ephemeral, it's true, but pixels are barely even real.

    What makes a book like this one so fun for that guy to read is that it's readable. I adored GLOBES: 400 Years of Exploration, Navigation, and Power when I reviewed it for #Booksgiving in 2017 (and it's still available, in stock and ready to ship!), but it wasn't as readable as this book is. Part of that was the coffee-table-ness and part of it was the brief it set itself. This, too, is a coffee table book but it's got a different brief. The globe is an object with a special history, one that includes the social and historical importance that atlases have, but also a physicality and social statement of power and prestige that requires a denser academic argument than does a maps-and-atlases book. It also has an earlier end-point than does a book of map-making and -publishing history given that we are amid a technological revolution with even greater import to maps and atlases than to globes. They're beautiful objects but their role has become completely virtual with the massive increases in computing power and digital storage technology.

    The text of The Atlas of Atlases asks little enough of you to make it possible to skim while sitting around post-gifting and making small talk. There is enough heft to the subjects covered, from Ortelius's first-ever compilation of printed maps that he entitled "Atlas" after the world-supporting Titan of that name in 1570, to Google Maps and its ever-expanding and slightly threatening ubiquity, to keep anyone in this interest group riveted.

    The look of surprised happiness on that guy's face as this multi-layered feast for the eyes and the brain is revealed will more than recompense the mere $40 (less if you shop for it) you shell out. Hard to buy for people, when they get this kind of gift, are always so satisfying to please.

    Dec 12, 2022, 11:38am

    239 Colors of London: A History by Peter Ackroyd

    Rating: 5* of five

    The Publisher Says: Celebrated novelist, biographer, and critic Peter Ackroyd paints a vivid picture of one of the world's greatest cities in this brilliant and original work, exploring how the city's many hues have come to shape its history and identity.

    Think of the colors of London and what do you imagine? The reds of open-top buses and terracotta bricks? The grey smog of Victorian industry, Portland stone, and pigeons in Trafalgar square? Or the gradations of yellows, violets, and blues that shimmer on the Thames at sunset—reflecting the incandescent light of a city that never truly goes dark. We associate green with royal parks and the District Line; gold with royal carriages, the Golden Lane Estate, and the tops of monuments and cathedrals.

    Colors of London shows us that color is everywhere in the city, and each one holds myriad links to its past. The colors of London have inspired artists (Whistler, Van Gogh, Turner, Monet), designers (Harry Beck) and social reformers (Charles Booth). And from the city’s first origins, Ackroyd shows how color is always to be found at the heart of London’s history, from the blazing reds of the Great Fire of London to the blackouts of the Blitz to the bold colors of royal celebrations and vibrant street life.

    This beautifully written book examines the city's fascinating relationship with color, alongside specially commissioned colorized photographs from Dynamichrome, which bring a lost London back to life.

    London has been the main character in Ackroyd's work ever since his first novel, and he has won countless prizes in both fiction and non-fiction for his truly remarkable body of work. Here, he channels a lifetime of knowledge of the great city, writing with clarity and passion about the hues and shades which have shaped London's journey through history into the present day.

    A truly invaluable book for lovers of art, history, photography, or urban geography, this beautifully illustrated title tells a rich and fascinating story of the history of this great and ever-changing city.


    My Review
    : Gifting the Anglophile on your list is always a doddle, right? "Something about England!" the generous, but innocent, gifter thinks. "This will be a snap!"

    *cue hollow laughter at callow ignorance*

    What part of England...north, south, west, Kent? What time in English history...Thatcher's 1980s, Victoria's imperial experiment, William the Bastard's conquering hordes of French-speaking Vikings? England England or Britain...Britain as a whole, the constituent parts?

    I know it's not going to soothe your frazzled last nerve enough to make the idea of a cocktail unnecessary...but there aren't a lot of people who read seriously who haven't heard of, and probably read something by, Peter Ackroyd. He's a cultural monadnock. While one might not adore his prose, or even want to read about his relentlessly centered-on-London stories, it's a whole different kettle of fresh-from-the-Thames eels to think of reading his spear-sharp and sword-long prose about London...accompanied by these startlingly colorized vintage photos of London's past. The firm Dynamichrome makes this its business, and let me tell you that they are clearly destined to be leaders in a revolution for instead of the hitherto prevalent against the colorizing trend. These are images of London from all periods in its history. They're as beautiful as photos of London get. They're also enhanced by the careful and painstaking additions of colors commensurate with the time in history as well as the time of day that they reveal.

    The book's organizing principle is seen in the Table of Contents on the recto above presented. Ackroyd's essays, which I suggest is the best way to present and think of these nominal chapters, riff on the colors, the affects, the gestalt of the visual impact of London. The publishers then chose vintage images and Dynamichrome brought their intense, archivally trained eyes to bear on enlivening them with colors appropriate to and emblematic of the times.

    Bloody gorgeous, mate.

    London's suitability for gifting your Anglophile without getting the weak smile and the slide from a slack, uninterested hand that we all dread is nonpareil. It's been the focus of immense amounts of attention in the moments of history as well as scholarship about that history, so it is readily scannable. It is a major player in the world's economic life, and its social norms have both set and influenced the social norms of many, many countries with past and present ties to it. London isn't England (me, I prefer York, or Chester) but it is called "the Capital" for a reason. It is the head of the government, the home of the economy's engine-controlling bodies, the monarchy's most famous symbols reside there...London is part of the mental furniture of the world's mind.

    It's a simple task to find illustrations for a book about London, and an even easier one to gloss over the role of color in Humankind's experience of its world. We are fortunate to have photographic evidence of the reality of London's nineteenth-century past on forward. Beginning just slightly earlier, we have color illustrations of life in London from the eighteenth century. Printing technology has improved and improved in the centuries since Gutenberg married woodblock image-making to moveable type in 1454. That's been a key development in history's accelerating climb into prosperity from subsistence levels to reliable surpluses to wretched excess. Knowledge and ideas are easily transmissible when they're on paper.

    They're also ephemeral, and subject to manipulation; they're also incomplete and misleading. But they're less likely to vanish without a trace as, for example, the cure for scurvy did in the sixteenth century when French captain Jacques Cartier heard from Native Americans that his men's scurvy would vanish if he made them drink spruce-needle tisane. It did...but he didn't do much to make it known, and it got lost in archives. Much as that has impacted our view of scurvy's history, the lack of color in vintage photos has made our vision of the past flat and one-dimensional.

    We've always lived in a world of color. Nature's colors, but also mankind's. Rescue your Anglophile's imagination from the curse of flat black-and-white thinking with this book. It's vivid, and in its vividness lies its power to inform and to build on our knowledge of one of the world's most important cities: It was always modern, it was always intense, it was always brightly and intensely modern. Celebrate that this Yule gifting season.

    Dec 12, 2022, 11:42am

    >180 katiekrug: Oh yay! I'm so pleased I could make his Yule a little bitterer.

    ...that sounded better inside my head...

    Dec 12, 2022, 12:21pm

    Well, you were right. That's four in a row. I hope you're happy.


    Dec 12, 2022, 12:23pm

    >181 richardderus: - Or "that gal"! I'm sending TW a link to the Atlas of Atlases. I love maps and history and politics and... and...

    >183 richardderus: - Heh.

    Dec 12, 2022, 1:24pm

    >185 katiekrug: "That guy whatever gender they present and/or identify as," you will note, was specifically specified! I'll bet you will *PLOTZ* when you see this marvelous glorious spectacular piece. It's actually a really good read, too.


    >184 drneutron: Heh. #sorrynotsorry

    Dec 12, 2022, 1:43pm

    >181 richardderus: The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, considered the world’s first atlas and produced in 1570 by the Dutch, geographer Abraham Ortelius, The Plantin-Moretus museum, which we recently visited in Antwerp, has one of those! I took a picture:

    Dec 12, 2022, 1:55pm

    >186 richardderus: - My bad - I somehow missed that line. Probably too taken with the photo below it :D

    The London books is also tempting...

    Edited: Dec 12, 2022, 2:52pm

    >158 ronincats: That's beautiful!

    >175 alcottacre: >176 richardderus: My grandparents were Christians, and pretty much the good kind. I try to keep them in mind whenever the antics of some set of self-proclaimed "Christians" leave me eager to consign _everyone_ who claims that label to the worst possible version of the Hell they happily predict for everyone outside their own little band, as well as far too often eagerly creating for those on Earth.

    Dec 12, 2022, 3:30pm

    >179 richardderus: I got it in three as well, though I also had the P in the wrong place, so while it gave me a bit of a think (I was pre-caffeinated), it clicked finally.

    Dec 12, 2022, 4:29pm

    >190 bell7: Oh my gosh, the pre-caffeine plays! They just can not be overstated as risks to the streak! Avoid! Avoid!

    >189 ArlieS: I think making the effort to think of people as individuals is a self-rewarding practice. I think it's also a damned difficult habit to form. I strive to live by it as a model but it remains a goal.

    Most days a distant, receding one.

    >188 katiekrug: Colors of London is glorious! I am so amazed they got the colorizing so right. Period palettes and all! Ackroyd is Ackroyd, you've read his work so you know what you think but it's no disservice to the photos to have his text among them.

    >187 SandDune: Ooooooooooooooo

    Gorgeous, Rhian! I am so envious that you got to see it that I could spit! Thanks for posting. *smooch*

    Dec 12, 2022, 6:42pm

    A Londoner on #Bookstodon posted this today!

    Dec 12, 2022, 8:18pm

    Colours of London looks gorgeous, Richard, but pricey! Wasn't Children of Ash and Elm a good one? Now I have to read The Wolf Age.

    Dec 12, 2022, 8:22pm

    >193 Familyhistorian: Cheap it ain't...beeeyouteeefull it is. Just depends on who buys you gifts, I guess, as to whether it's worth it or not.

    I think you'll enjoy The Wolf's differently aimed than Ash and Elm, but just as good IMO.

    Dec 12, 2022, 8:47pm

    >194 richardderus: I have lots of unread Ackroyd's on my shelves. Perhaps I'll just wait to see if it turns up at the library.

    The Wolf Age sounded a lot more adventurous. I'm looking forward to it.

    Dec 13, 2022, 6:31am

    240 Wild Plant Culture: A Guide to Restoring Edible and Medicinal Native Plant Communities by Jared Rosenbaum

    Rating: 5* of five

    The Publisher Says: Reconnect. Restore. Reciprocate. Repairing landscapes and reconnecting us to the wild plant communities around us.

    Integrating restoration practices, foraging, herbalism, rewilding, and permaculture, Wild Plant Culture is a comprehensive guide to the ecological restoration of native edible and medicinal plant communities in Eastern North America.

    Blending science, practice, and traditional knowledge, it makes bold connections that are actionable, innovative, and ecologically imperative for repairing both degraded landscapes and our broken cultural relationship with nature. Coverage includes:

  • Understanding and engaging in mutually beneficial human-plant connections

  • Techniques for observing the land's existing and potential plant communities

  • Baseline monitoring, site preparation, seeding, planting, and maintaining restored areas

  • Botanical fieldwork restoration stories and examples

  • Detailed profiles of 209 native plants and their uses

  • Both a practical guide and an evocative read that will transport you deep into the natural landscape, Wild Plant Culture is an essential toolkit for gardeners, farmers, and ecological restoration practitioners, highlighting the important role humans play in tending and mending native plant communities.


    My Review
    : A beautiful idea: Re-wild the forests of the Eastern North American continent. How does one even start, though.

    And here it is, an answer to the idea's obstacles.

    There's nothing complicated or threatening about the complex project's graphic presentation. It's simple and typographically clean, and the interspersed illustrations are charming and appropriate to the topics Author Rosenbaum presents clearly and lucidly in this book.

    There are simple, practical steps outlined for the project of re-wilding the most densely populated part of the continent. The world needs more wild, and re-wilded, places.

    What makes me think of Yule gifting when I read and absorb this message is the sheer number of people I myownself know who, if they possessed some guidance on how, would definitely be willing...many even join in the on-the-ground struggle to help the Earth our only home heal itself from generations of careless, heedless neglect.

    a typical page spread from chapter 3
    Below is an example of the eight-page color illustration insert. The croziers, which in the US we call "fiddleheads" from beginning to end, is particularly beautifully framed...and the skillet full of 'em is really well-chosen here!

    Dec 13, 2022, 6:38am

    >195 Familyhistorian: It's a good bet that it'll appear, absent budget constraints. The Wolf Age got my brain whirring, anticipating more translations.

    Dec 13, 2022, 6:44am

    241 To Know a Starry Night by Paul Bogard, photos by Beau Rogers

    Rating: 5* of five

    The Publisher Says: No matter where we live, what language we speak, or what culture shapes our worldview, there is always the night. The darkness is a reminder of the ebb and flow, of an opportunity to recharge, of the movement of time. But how many of us have taken the time to truly know a starry night? To really know it.

    Combining the lyrical writing of Paul Bogard with the stunning night-sky photography of Beau Rogers, To Know a Starry Night explores the powerful experience of being outside under a natural starry sky—how important it is to human life, and how so many people don’t know this experience. As the night sky increasingly becomes flooded with artificial-light pollution, this poignant work helps us reconnect with the natural darkness of night, an experience that now, in our time, is fading from our lives.


    My Review
    : There is a very strong chance that, if you're my age or younger, you've never seen a truly dark night sky. If you grew up east of the Mississippi River, it's almost a guarantee. The saddest part of that is the sheer, astonishing vastness of stars. The closest I've come to seeing skies like these:

    ...was an early 1970s car trip with my oldest sister who was leaving South Texas for California. I went with her and, at more than one point, she stopped the car at night, turned off the car lights, and we stared up at sheerly astoundingly bright skies...not from (in those days) mercury-vapor lights that were common and getting more so on major highways, as we were in the proverbial middle of nowhere, but from stars. Thousands and thousands and thousands of stars, more than I had ever seen before. The night skies I encountered in middle age above Machu Picchu were the only comparably startling revelation to me.

    What made Author Bogard present this book of Photographer Beau Rogers's glorious night-time images to us was his increasing awareness that his own daughter, whose company on these night-time ramblings in the American West he treasured, might not have even these places to see the natural condition of darkness again in her lifetime.

    Nothing could possibly be sadder than that!

    What a loss to Humanity the curse of light pollution is...and how necessary it is to protect what there is left of it.

    We're simply not paying enough attention to these losses. There's nothing to replace natural darkness. There's little research into the costs of the loss to the natural world...there's next to none on its impact to us, the polluters. What we lose only starts with the aesthetic awareness of the extent of the beauty around us on the planet.

    This absolutely astoundingly gorgeous book is perfect to gift to your photography fan as well as the environmentally aware young person. It's a spectacular creation and worthy of a space on anyone's display shelf, coffee table, or even tablet.

    Dec 13, 2022, 7:26am

    I remember skies like that. Mostly from camping trips but also, I grew up in suburbia and I remember summer nights, looking up. There wasn't a lot of light pollution back then where I lived. No idea what it's like today but I'd bet it isn't the same. And you are right, this kind of wonder already isn't part of the generation growing up now. Such a tragic loss.

    Dec 13, 2022, 7:30am

    Dec 13, 2022, 7:36am

    ‘Morning, Rdear. Happy Tuesday.

    >181 richardderus: I’m ‘that guy’ – I almost just acquired this one on Ammie using my ammie credit card free money… but put in Save for Later. I love maps. Who knows – I might just move it to my shopping cart later today or later this week. I haven’t bought myself anything for Christmas yet, after all.

    >182 richardderus: Interesting use of the word monadnock. Excellent review. Soft pass.

    >192 richardderus: The only way to deal with s******. Frozen webs, no critters visible.

    >196 richardderus: Another excellent review, of course.

    >198 richardderus: I have been lucky enough to see a truly dark night sky, and my night sky here is very close to being truly dark.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Edited: Dec 13, 2022, 8:26am

    You can't be Richard; that's a veritable slew of five star reviews.

    >198 richardderus: Hmm ...

    Dec 13, 2022, 8:27am

    >196 richardderus: Putting that one on the list, though I know it'll only frustrate me that there's no way I'm getting rid of the Japanese knotwood on my property in this decade.

    >198 richardderus: *sigh* and this one too. The closest I've come is going camping and looking up, which is impressive even with the light pollution you'll get anywhere on the east coast of the U.S. I also did a full moon walk once where we walked through paths using mostly our eyes adjusting to the dark and very little outside light. When the moon finally came up it was *bright* and I suddenly understood why in certain books characters could walk by the light of the full moon.

    You're now responsible for the last four books I've added to the TBR spreadsheet. Hope you're happy.


    Dec 13, 2022, 8:33am

    Wordle 542 3/6


    Dec 13, 2022, 8:41am

    >203 bell7: Morning, Mary, happy back-to-reality day. I'm so terribly sorry (NOT) that I've fattened your TBR, o Shipper of New York Times Book Reviews. Crushed. Racked by guilt.


    Knotweed! Boiling water on the roots...out of a teakettle spout, surgically applied to the knotweed as it's sprouting. Infallibly slaughters the gorram stuff. Time-consuming but it's worth it unless you prefer a hellscape of knotweed to accompany you to your grave. (Then over it.) *smooch*

    >202 humouress: I save 'em up. 'Tis the season to help out the publishers!

    Dec 13, 2022, 8:49am

    >201 karenmarie: Hi Horrible! *smooch* there, apart from the geographical reference to New Hampshire's eponymous mountain, another use of "monadnock"? I regularly channel my inner Horace Greeley and trot that venerable coinage out.

    Ah, yes, the leavings of the dread creatures are okay because no shuddering horrors on them! Yay.

    Here on the East Coast, true dark is almost non-existent. Light pollution isn't awful where you live but it's still very noticeable compared to midocean or Western mountains. The only reason to go on a cruise IMO is to see true dark.

    >200 Helenliz: I know, right?!

    >199 jessibud2: It's a serious problem, Shelley, and one we don't pay much attention to. I lived in Austin when it was possible to drive an hour north and be in true dark. Now, no there are so many well-lit parking lots that there are birds active 24/7. They compete with bats for the insects and, absent control efforts, will out-reproduce bats to take over the white nights of human activity.

    Dec 13, 2022, 1:39pm

    >191 richardderus: Yes, this is very much a work-in-progress, not one I'm especially good at.

    Dec 13, 2022, 1:55pm

    >207 ArlieS: There is value in making the effort.

    Dec 13, 2022, 6:08pm

    The LitHub 103 Best Book Covers of 2022 list is out. Being book geeks I know y'all'll get your gonfallons thitherward without me chivvyin' yinz.
    BUT because I'm who and what I am, I'm posting a few of my personal fave-rave ten-star loves.

    Dec 13, 2022, 7:22pm

    >209 richardderus: Eye catching!

    Dec 13, 2022, 7:39pm

    >210 Familyhistorian: Ain't they just! There were so many I really admired and a few I *almost* loved enough to bring here but these were the ones that spoke loudest to me.

    Dec 13, 2022, 8:33pm

    >181 richardderus: A five star read? Definite BB hit!

    >198 richardderus: Twice hit!

    >209 richardderus: oooh.....ahhhh! Nice book covers!

    >204 richardderus: Excellent wording, Richard!

    Dec 14, 2022, 6:23am

    I am drawn to Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow purely because of the cover. I currently have a cross stitch kit of The Great Wave on the go. It's one of my favourite artworks.

    Dec 14, 2022, 7:43am

    Happy Wednesday, Richard. The book covers look great. I should comb though my books and pick a best of the year. Lots and lots of rain here in the Midwest. We have not seen the sun in nearly ten days. Ugh...

    Dec 14, 2022, 7:53am

    >214 msf59: Wednesday orisons, Mark! We're getting your rain here pretty quick. I'm not sorry because we can always use a solid storm. Rain helps the crispiness of the greenery....

    There were a lot of really startlingly lovely covers this year. Most years there are great ones but the volume of eye-popping designs in 2022 was exceptional to my eyes.

    Sunshine soon, I hope.

    >213 Helenliz: Hi Helen! I love "The Great Wave" as well, I am sad to say I didn't love the novel as much as the cover design....

    Dec 14, 2022, 7:59am

    242 Cosplay: A History: The Builders, Fans, and Makers Who Bring Your Favorite Stories to Life by Andrew Liptak

    Rating: 5* of five

    The Publisher Says: A history of the colorful and complex kingdom of cosplay and fandom fashion by Andrew Liptak, journalist, historian, and member of the legendary fan-based Star Wars organization the 501st Legion.

    In recent years, cosplay—the practice of dressing up in costume as a character—has exploded, becoming a mainstream cultural phenomenon. But what are the circumstances that made its rise possible?

    Andrew Liptak—a member of the legendary 501st Legion, an international fan-based organization dedicated to the dark side of Star Wars—delves into the origins and culture of cosplay to answer this question. Cosplay: A History looks at the practice’s ever-growing fandom and conventions, its roots in 15th-century costuming, the relationship between franchises and the cosplayers they inspire, and the technology that brings even the most intricate details in these costumes to life.

    Cosplay veterans and newcomers alike will find much to relish in this rich and comprehensive history.


    My Review
    : Cosplay, literally a portmanteau of "costume" and "play", is very much part of the science fiction, horror, and fantasy subcultures. Any time you see TV reporters at events like ComicCons in San Diego or New York, they're there to see how many salaciously boob-exposing Sailor Moons or Elvira Mistress of the Dark cosplayers they can get B-roll from. That is, then, what the normies look at and think of as "cosplay."

    Whereas the *actual* field of cosplay is immense. It is multi-gendered. It is inclusive, it is vastly and richly endowed with niches and rivalries and personalities that can't find easy outlets in a world of mundanes. (This is where I'd usually put in "muggles" but Rowling's determined to die on a hill I don't want to climb.)

    I blame Jules Verne. He held that dinner party (which Author Liptak tells us about) where guests came as his novel's characters! In the stodgy nineteenth century! Only it was not really so stodgy, just not public in its peculiarity the way we ever-increasingly are giving ourselves permission to be. In fact, cosplay has quite a history and Author Liptak quite a nose for what to look for, where to find it, and how to explain it.

    A lifetime spent in the 501st Legion, the greatest and most active cosplaying organization in the Star Wars universe, has given him not only the joys of solidarity and fellowship with his fellow ubergeeks, but a keen grasp of what makes cosplay a Thing. It's an appeal that begins with an IP or "intellectual property"...that's a story, to the rest of us...that fires imaginations all over the spectrum of its genre's fandom. (If I need to explain "fandom" to you, you're reading the wrong review. Flip back a page and go from there.)

    The 501st is a charitable organization; it's a profit-spinning offshoot of Star Wars's films and books that isn't completely controlled by the Mauschwitz people; it's a found family for its heading-for-20,000 members. Many people, especially those with the kind of passion and focus that makes cosplay appealing, aren't very comfortable in their families of origin. Many times they've left them whether voluntarily or not. Cosplay organizations are alternative affectional groups centered on a shared vision. Often they're of practical support as well, when crises strike. It's been my own experience that these groups (the Browncoats in my case) will do so much to assist their fellows that it is quite overwhelming and heartening.

    After all, when a bunch of folks in the salad days spend the time, the energy, the money, and the social capital to make outfits like these, they're already among Nature's aristocrats. The desire to Do It Right, the get the details exactly as they should be drives many cosplayers to research films and TV shows and comic books and manga and games and...well, everything...for the smallest, least-visible detail that a particular character's presentation requires to be *just*so*. Equally there are interpreters whose idea of character's presentation of self could use some, well, tweaking to be just exactly perfect. The two camps have equal access to the starting imagery, and they share the modern world's astonishing array of personalizable, customizable anything. Technology has afforded the cosplayers 3D printing options that were once the province of the studios who created the films they obsess over. Makeup for special effects? Several generations of Fangoria magazine and its ilk readers have made careers of their obsession and remain in the cosplay community.

    Naturally, this being Murruhkuh, we need to acknowledge the cosplay community has a lot of racist and sexist people in it; in fact, there is considerable gatekeeping on multiple fronts. Societal, institutional racism is part and parcel of fandom just like it is of every other aspect of our culture. More prevalent still is sexism's idiocy, and that's a fandom issue going back to the Futurians in the 1930s. Author Liptak doesn't dwell on these unpleasant realities but he doesn't ignore their existence and takes the quietly expressed stance I trust anyone reading my words would: "You do realize how stupid this behavior is, right?"

    Unless a character requires one, no one in the cosplay world should be required to wear a mask.

    "What to get your geek giftee" is a problem now solved. Twentyish bucks, ordered right now, and you're home free. It will, I can damn near guarantee, hit their fandom. It is likely to amuse, guaranteed to entertain, and just possibly inspire some of those you give it to on a new hobby, habit, obsession even. And that, my friends, is because the author did his job: He brought faces, stories, and his own heart to all his readers. Come and enjoy.

    Dec 14, 2022, 8:06am

    >216 richardderus: *sigh* And who is the one dumping whom into the book snowball now? I'm gonna have to send some more NYT Book Reviews soon just to even it up! *smooch*

    Dec 14, 2022, 8:13am

    >215 richardderus: Noted. Shame.

    Dec 14, 2022, 8:14am

    ‘Morning, Rdear. Happy we-don’t-have-to-worry-about-mid-work-week to you.

    >216 richardderus: My first exposure to cosplay was Renaissance Fairs in SoCal in the 1970s. …a world of mundanes. (This is where I'd usually put in "muggles" but Rowling's determined to die on a hill I don't want to climb.) Sigh. Stupid woman.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Dec 14, 2022, 8:27am

    >219 karenmarie: She really is, isn't she. The backlash she's getting...and the kind of people who're agreeing with her...should tell her something very important about this point of view.

    *smooch* Lovely to see you as always, my dear lady.

    >218 Helenliz: It *so* was. But, and this is crucial, remember that straight-people luuuv stories make me feel sea-sick. They're just *wrong* and my horizon line's messed up by them. Absent that issue, the idea of the book would be lovely.

    >217 bell7: Heh. #sorrynotsorry *smooch*

    Dec 14, 2022, 8:34am

    Wordle 543 3/6

    AEONS, MURKY, USUAL The benefits of eliminating so many vowels in the first two words can't be overstated.

    Dec 14, 2022, 10:03am

    >198 richardderus: After a posting on our local community WhatsApp group, I dragged the youngest sprog out to hunt for Geminids, a meteor shower that appears to radiate from the Gemini constellation which is visible at this time of the year. Sadly there was some cloud cover and the ever present ridiculous amount of light pollution in this country. We live on the edge of the catchment area; you'll see a swathe of green down the centre if you look at a map of Singapore which is secondary jungle surrounding the reservoirs. So it's not as bad around where we live as in other parts of the country but the ambient light pollution destroys any visibility of the heavens. I'm a bit grumpy because the Milky Way should apparently be right above us, according to my app, and I would love to see it.

    Dec 14, 2022, 10:07am

    >222 humouress: That's one of the most insidious of the effects, Nina. It de-positions us in relationship to the sky and makes the stars a notional sight unless we seek out images processed by satellites and/or telescopes.

    There's no longer a viable means for most of Humanity to develop a personal awareness of the stars.

    Dec 14, 2022, 5:12pm

    So many Book Bullets!! I am off to find some...I don't have enough!! (haha)

    Karen O.

    p.s. Thank you!

    Dec 14, 2022, 5:46pm

    >224 klobrien2: The idea of "enough" is for unimportant things, food and water and clean air...books can't be subjected to such mundane measures. ...enough books...*chuckle*

    You will really enjoy The Atlas of Atlases, Karen O. It's fascinating, but avoids the fascinating-but-a-leeeetle-too-much pitfall so many fall into.

    Dec 14, 2022, 5:52pm

    Dec 14, 2022, 6:19pm

    >226 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita, it's very satisfying because I just need to shake stuff up to get some mojo back.

    Dec 15, 2022, 5:51am

    Happy Thursday, Richard dear!

    Just back, and I find all these 5* reviews!
    Light pollution is of course bad in our small counrty. Our first stay in Groningen, back in 2020, when we started our Pieterpad walk, was near one of two places in our country where you can see the Milky Way. Sadly it was clouded all days, so I still haven't seen it. Maybe one day...

    Dec 15, 2022, 7:40am

    Hi Anita! Welcome back. I'm sure it was a lovely trip, given the reason, and I'll drop by later to see what occurred.

    I'm very surprised there's still a place in the Netherlands that one *can* see the Milky Way. The urbanization's very pronounced there. I hope the clouds cooperate for you one of these fine Pieterpads!

    Thanks for visiting. *smooch*

    Dec 15, 2022, 7:51am

    243 Good Girls Don't Make History by Elizabeth Kiehner & Kara Doyle, illus. by Micaela Dawn

    Rating: 5* of five

    The Publisher Says: History has rarely been told from a woman’s point of view.

    Good Girls Don’t Make History is an important graphic novel that amplifies the voices of female legends from 1840 to the present day. 

    Reliving moments from the lives of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Alice Paul, Ida B. Wells, and Susan B. Anthony, these inspiring stories are boldly told from one of the most formative eras in women’s history—the fight for the vote in the United States.

    The tale begins at a modern-day polling station in California with a mother and daughter voting together, then flashes back 180 years to the World Anti-Slavery Convention where the women's movement got its legendary start.

    The twists and turns take readers across the country and through time, illuminating parallels between epic battles for liberty in the past and similar struggles for justice today.

    A powerful and important examination of some key figures in the ongoing fight for equality, Good Girls Don’t Make History’s accounts of bravery, perseverance and courage are truly inspiring for readers of any age.


    My Review
    : "It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the, their rights and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less."
                                                                                                                                     Susan B. Anthony
    What better way to start a story about why voting matters, what it cost to extend the vote to women, and the long, long struggle of slightly more than half of Humanity to get a bare minimum of representation at the tables where the powerful decide how far they can shove the weak without reigniting 1789's fires.

    What makes a good graphic novel? A novel, in its essence, is meant to take the reader on a deep and careful examination of some emotional state, physical event, or social reality. What makes a graphic story successful is the way that novel is told: one can't readily imagine a visual take on Gravity's Rainbow, or if you can, do share how it would work. Some interior stories aren't necessarily good as artwork. This story...a mother takes her tween daughter with her to vote, encounters a long, long wait, and takes the bored, restless youngster on the story-journey of how it came to be that US women got their right to vote for the people who govern them.

    Micaela Dawn presents the stories with economy and energy. It's a lovely story, told competently and aimed at its eight-and-up audience, represented by lovely artwork showing the selected scenes from the past and present in enough detail to make them interesting and without cramming too much visual stimulation into the frame with the words telling the story.

    Here is a representative passage:

    To my mind, the best marriage of medium to message and talent to task. I think our grand/daughters need to see and absorb this message so they will know what we are fighting for when we work to protect voting rights.

    Dec 15, 2022, 7:53am

    >229 richardderus: The other place is further north, Richard dear, at Terschelling, one of the northern islands.
    As we are walking southward, the Pieterpad won't bring us near again.

    Dec 15, 2022, 8:00am

    244 Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and Their Magical Tales by Anna Claybourne, illus. by Good Wives and Warriors

    Rating: 5* of five

    The Publisher Says: From the West African fable of Anansi the Spider, to Michabo, the magical hare who rebuilt the world and Tanuki, the sweet but troublesome raccoon-dog of Japanese folklore, Mythopedia is an encyclopedia of mythical creatures that covers legends, tales and myths from around the world.

    Lovingly created by the illustration duo behind popular flipbook Myth Match, Good Wives and Warriors, this book contains pages upon pages of cultural folklore from around the world.


    My Review
    : An overview, with stories, from world mythologies is the kind of gift I'd've *killed* for as an information-hungry kid; I love the D'Aulaire's world mythology books with their beautiful illustrations that picked the exact details I was most interested in to summon the real emotional impact of the myth being condensed (and bowdlerized for its audience, of course).

    The Haida story of Raven, the trickster god, and his antics...complete with moral message that you can't know what will happen in this life, even the gods, because there's no way to know what others will do with your ideas and as good a starter for you as any. We see the overview of Raven as a being, and are told about Raven's origins and personality:

    Then the tale associated with Raven is presented in a bedtime-friendly bite, or a reasonably balanced afternoon's read for a very young person:

    The illustration style, the graphic presentation, the whole package...just exactly right for your young mythology-loving giftee. Not a few grown-ups wouldn't say no, either.

    Probably my personal favorite myth, the Brazilian Encantado, is an Amazonian pink dolphin who transforms into a beautiful young man, full of fun and dressed for a party. He can show up at any gathering. No one knows him but soon everyone feels they must know him or the party will be pointless. He sometimes makes the night a joy; he sometimes steals more than a maidenly heart, though, and can leave his stolen loves with otherwise unexplainable babies.

    You can, I trust, see the utility of that tale among people who live along a river with commerce and predators (human or otherwise) active all over.

    As an adult the stories take on that extra cast of meaning. This makes them more interesting to offer to our grand/children. We can demonstrate with stories what values we support...and give ones we don't care for a miss, or emphasize their less nice attributes.

    Great gift that will please a child and a parent in similar measure.

    Dec 15, 2022, 8:10am

    >231 FAMeulstee: OIC
    That makes sense, and makes me sad too.

    A trip back one day might be in order?

    Dec 15, 2022, 8:25am

    Wordle 544 3/6

    AEONS, MIRTH, RIVAL If there was another possible solution, it didn't occur to me.

    Edited: Dec 15, 2022, 8:47am

    ‘Morning, RDear. Happy Thursday to you.

    >181 richardderus: Sigh. Just bought it for myself as a Christmas present. It was free, using my Chase/Amazon points money. It will arrive Dec 28-29.

    >234 richardderus: Took me 5 today - congrats on your 3.


    Dec 15, 2022, 9:04am

    Sweet Thursday, Richard. A pair of BBs landed perfectly. I just requested Good Girls Don't Make History, (my library has it) and I will be adding Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts. A nice start to the day...

    BTW- Great reviews on both!

    Dec 15, 2022, 9:19am

    >230 richardderus: You called that one yesterday... looks to be right up my alley.

    Edited: Dec 15, 2022, 9:28am

    >237 bell7: It very much is, Mary, and I'm really delighted you're succumbing to its blandishments.

    >236 msf59: Thanks, Mark! I'm glad I could add some beautiful and interesting reads to your pile.

    >235 karenmarie: Thanks, Horrible! Congratulations on your succumbing to The Atlas of Atlases...I confidently predict you'll love looking at *and* reading it. He's got a lovely, smooth storytelling voice and an awe-inspiring grasp of the subject. I so love it when those things happen together.

    Dec 15, 2022, 9:36am

    "The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."—Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist

    Dec 15, 2022, 1:09pm

    First poem I've liked in ages.

    Dec 15, 2022, 1:32pm

    >233 richardderus: Maybe one day, a last minute booking when a new moon is combined with clear skies :-)

    >240 richardderus: Like!

    Dec 15, 2022, 1:47pm

    >1 richardderus: ommmigosh I am behind by about 800 posts, I am.
    I had to google Tom Daley and Dustin Lance Black...then when I did I realised he is that diver. I saw him on the Graham Norton show a while back and thought he was rad.
    That picture though! I thought the baby was upside down??!!! It seriously took me a minute or two to see that it is in fact lying on the floor with the dads are lovingly gazing.

    I hot a lucky second guess and got todays Wordle in three :)

    >209 richardderus: drool, drool, drooly McDrool-face. That is me looking at those covers.

    Dec 15, 2022, 2:02pm

    >240 richardderus: I can see the appeal.

    Dec 15, 2022, 2:04pm

    You've been on a roll with some terrific reads. The Atlas of Atlases and To Know a Starry Night look especially appealing.

    Dec 15, 2022, 3:10pm

    >244 swynn: Heh...most of these are from weeks or months ago, Steve, all saved up for the five-star sprint to "no delivery until after Xmas" day, which is today. From here on out, it's things to get for yourself on Kindle as rewards for not pouring boiling grits on your mother-in-law or shoving your bratty cousin under a moving truck.

    You'd love both of 'em! Get the library to splurge?

    >243 Familyhistorian: Ha! I'm not surprised.

    >242 LovingLit: It's a completely adorable photo, isn't it? I love that they shared a photo of their baby without really showing anything identifiable...just diapered bottom! Ha!

    I love those covers. I was so amazed that they found one hundred and three to feature in the design winners' article! I didn't think all of them were All That, but most were *chef's kiss*

    Glad to see you around here, Megan! *smooch*

    >241 FAMeulstee: :-)

    Dec 15, 2022, 3:28pm

    That's a fantastic poem! Lol. I should show that to D13. She had to write an "ode" the other day, and it was so hard on her. I told her about a pink shower curtain ode I wrote when I was a kid (also for an assignment). I'd made it wavy like the curtain, and pink. The teacher loved it, which was hilarious to me because I was mostly joking because I thought the assignment was stupid. lol

    But that one up there is pretty clever.

    Dec 15, 2022, 3:39pm

    >246 The_Hibernator: Well, I mean, c'mon now Rachel, it's poetry of course it's stupid! That's sorta the baseline for the damn stuff.

    Which I will completely deny I have ever said in all of my life if you quote me. Someone hacked this account. Yeah, that's it, that's the ticket.
    You have been warned....

    Edited: Dec 15, 2022, 10:10pm

    >242 LovingLit: Same here; it took me a while to get the photo, but I didn't want to say anything.

    >247 richardderus: That's fine. I have the antidote and will administer it liberally.

    Dec 16, 2022, 6:49am

    Hallo, RDear, happy Friday to you.

    >240 richardderus: Clever, e.e. cummings-ish. It also reminds me of a holiday thing a friend of mine used as his Christmas card one year, which, rather than clutter up your thread with God stuff, I’ve put on my thread. *smile*

    >247 richardderus: Looking forward to next-year’s Richard after enjoying this-year’s Richard so much.


    Dec 16, 2022, 8:03am

    >249 karenmarie: Hiya Horrible! Happily, it's Friday. I've got LOADS to talk to my therapist about. I'm glad you've enjoyed this version of me...he's got remodeling underway.

    The tree was adorable! Very clever indeed.

    >248 humouress:, >242 LovingLit: I'm always entertained by how people interpret photos. Do they see at once what it is, what it's about? I seldom have that godlike experience. I have to look once for color, once for shapes, then stare for a while to see if it means something.

    >248 humouress: dDT is illegal. Dispose of properly.

    Dec 16, 2022, 10:33am

    Wordle 545 4/6


    Dec 16, 2022, 11:25am

    I've got one of your recommended gift books, Colors of London: A History, on my counter. I might get a copy of Mythopedia: An Encyclopedia of Mythical Beasts and Their Magical Tales. Without sarcasm, I thank you for those. I'm experiencing discombobulation as we charge into the gift-giving period of the year, amped up by December birthdays: a brother and a sister, two DiLs, a fellow grandfather. Stir in ADD and Old-Timer's Disease.

    Dec 16, 2022, 1:08pm

    >252 weird_O: You're the perfect target patsy dupe reader for my reviews this week, then! There's a huge universe of Stuff out there, so it matters to get help. Glad I could plug the hole in your brain.

    Dec 16, 2022, 2:54pm

    >250 richardderus: Will do (re DDT). Sending it right over ;0)

    Edited: Dec 16, 2022, 4:30pm

    >253 richardderus: One of the holes. Every little bit helps. I thank you.

    Dec 16, 2022, 6:38pm

    >255 weird_O: Yay!

    >254 humouress: Hello, Customs? Got a hot tip for y'all....

    Dec 17, 2022, 7:31am

    'Morning, RDear. Happy Saturday to you.

    I'm Wordled up (3), coffee'd up (2nd cup), and will head off to do a bit of reading soon.


    Dec 17, 2022, 8:04am

    Wordle 546 3/6


    Dec 17, 2022, 8:06am

    >258 richardderus: Ha! When I solved it in four today, I thought to myself, bet Richard gets it it in three. I had THORN as a guess before coming up with the answer.

    Edited: Dec 17, 2022, 8:08am

    >258 richardderus: Ha! Yeah, it wasn't totally surprising to me that the answer popped up pretty quickly. Once the common letters are eliminated, the word choices shrink considerably.

    >257 karenmarie: Same score on Wordle today. My caffeination is slightly ahead of yours, about half the pot (17.3 oz), and I'm not promising anything in reading terms...The Christmas Lights Battle is very chuckle-inducing.

    Saturday orisons! *smooch*

    Edited: Dec 17, 2022, 10:05am

    I always, always feel Seen by Tom Gauld. This cartoon from Revenge of the Librarians explains me to anyone who wants to know me.

    Dec 17, 2022, 10:08am

    I have that book on hold at the library but it may well find its way to my permanent collection eventually.

    Dec 17, 2022, 10:35am

    >262 jessibud2: I would think so! Pride of place therein, too.

    Dec 17, 2022, 10:54am

    >263 richardderus: - It will go right next to the other one by him that I own, I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf. Oops. That one is by Grant Snider. I have a real mental block with those two and often mix them up. They are quite similar in style and humour and mindset, though.

    Dec 17, 2022, 11:04am

    >264 jessibud2: They're kinda transAtlantic twins, and I mean that as a compliment to each of them.

    Dec 17, 2022, 1:01pm

    >258 richardderus: Different strategy, same result for me, Richard.

    I had to look to see if I had Gauld or Snider books as, like Shelley said, they are a lot alike. I have 3 Gauld's one Snider. Maybe I should pull one off the shelf.

    Dec 17, 2022, 1:59pm

    >266 Familyhistorian: Oh my heck, Meg, yes and HELL yes, grab one and sink into the world of being known. A lot like reading The Far Side was for me, these two laff-makers are home bases for my sense of humor. I imagine you'll find different reasons to enjoy them than I did, but enjoy them I expect you shall.
    I've been terribly slipshod over the years in posting my reviews to book pages. I got trapped in 2009 somehow and realized how many books I wrote reviews about and never bothered to do anything about them. (That was between blogs.)

    Anyway. It was very interesting to see folks now dead and now gone for other reasons all chatting away. Plus I feel virtuous for tidying up my catalog.

    Dec 18, 2022, 9:29am

    ‘Morning, RDear. Happy Sunday to you.

    >261 richardderus: Oh my. Yes, he Sees Me Too.

    >264 jessibud2: A friend gave I Will Judge You By Your Bookshelf for my birthday last year.

    Wordle took me all 6 today, darned alphabet soup.


    Dec 18, 2022, 9:41am

    Happy Sunday, Richard. I am still waiting for my copy of Revenge of the Librarians to come in from the library.
    We are feeling the winter crunch here, despite today's sunshine. A good day to stay in with the books and watch a little football.

    Dec 18, 2022, 10:12am

    Wordle 547 4/6

    Aeons, mirth, trade, taper I was surprised when it wasn't #3!

    Dec 18, 2022, 10:30am

    >269 msf59: Thank you, Mark. I'm sitting around with my left foot elevated for the second week so I'm a bit bored...but there's a real purpose to it, so I'm being obedient.

    Damned near killin' me though! I'm getting the fun-sized reads done, though, and that's a good feeling. Spend this Sunday splendidly!

    >268 karenmarie: Hi there, Horrible, happy to see you on this cold winter's day. I'm sure you're still leafing through the Snider book to rev up your Citizen of the Republic of Letters warm-fuzzys.

    I'm pretty sure my 4day was y'all's xian gawd smackin' me down for feeling smugly sure #3 was The Word, even betting myself out loud that it was for sure and certain That One. We all know that She hates men and queer people, so it was just inevitable wasn't it.

    *mournful sigh*

    Dec 18, 2022, 11:13am

    >270 richardderus: Same for me, Richard dear. I had all letters in the third guess, but managed to put them in other order.

    >271 richardderus: What did I miss? What is it with your left foot up a second week?

    Dec 18, 2022, 12:04pm

    >272 FAMeulstee: I was just over at yours commenting on our Wordle scores!

    I dropped a box on my left foot and the gout crystal that's right under the skin has prevented it from healing up. I need to keep my foot up so it won't get extra wear and tear until there's new skin over the divot.

    Dec 18, 2022, 1:18pm

    Messi has his Copa Mondial. Retiring might not be so appealing after this...and Mbappé has another shot in '26.

    Dec 18, 2022, 2:30pm

    >230 richardderus: None of my libraries have this, or even offer it for recommendation. WTH???

    >232 richardderus: I found a copy at my local library and am hoping to pick it up soon.

    >240 richardderus: Clever!

    >273 richardderus: Oh, ouch! My sympathy and empathy. I hope you’re not in too much pain to read.

    Dec 18, 2022, 4:14pm

    >275 Storeetllr: Hey there Mary, I'm glad to see you round about. Not one of them has >230 richardderus:? That's really gross. I suspect someone saw it on the publisher's list and thought "naaah too likely to get someone riled up" and never thought about it again. It makes me sad and angry and resigned, all at once.

    >232 richardderus:'s a terrific read indeed. I was very pleased with how they handled the retellings for kids.

    I really like >240 richardderus: too!

    I'm not really suffering because I'm being unusually obedient. *sigh* It's really, really tedious.

    Dec 18, 2022, 5:24pm

    Speedy return to normal, Richard. Did they give you a time expectation for that?

    Dec 18, 2022, 5:53pm

    >277 jessibud2: Thank you,, not like it's their habit anyway (these are systems set up to exclude you from the loop) but with something like a foot you're never ever going to be correct. Too many things depend on the patient complying, and that's not the norm around here!

    I'm mentally allowing the next three days for major improvements or else.

    ...or else what I haven't figured out...

    Dec 18, 2022, 6:13pm

    If you are supposed to stay off the foot, would crutches help at least get you off your derriere and allow you to move about more freely without undue pressure on the foot itself? As a sort of compromise, till the answer to *or else* materializes?

    Dec 18, 2022, 6:18pm

    Sunday *smooches* and hopes that your foot improves as quick as it can.

    Dec 18, 2022, 7:36pm

    >280 bell7: Thanks, Mary! *smooch*

    >279 jessibud2: I'm afraid not, with my hands being even more screwed up than my feet. I'm better off obeying than making bad into worse, and pointing worse towards catastrophe. *grumble*

    Dec 18, 2022, 8:10pm

    >281 richardderus:- Well then, good boy for being a good boy. Hope this moves to a successful end soon.

    Dec 18, 2022, 8:40pm

    >129 richardderus: That is one heck of a review dear fellow. I must add that one for Christmas!

    >274 richardderus: England is not exactly on wonderful terms with either Argentina or France but I have to say that I am pleased for Messi that his team prevailed. The French were good and perhaps a little unlucky to be missing a few of their very best players but I don't think that they were quite outstanding enough to have two World Cups on the bounce. Tremendous game for all us "neutrals" though.

    Dec 19, 2022, 6:10am

    >273 richardderus: Ouch, sounds painful.

    >274 richardderus: So you are happy and I am not ;-)

    Dec 19, 2022, 7:11am

    ‘Morning, Rdear! Brrr! It is nice to be inside and warm on a cold morning, isn’t it?

    >I’m glad there’s a real purpose to you keeping your foot elevated. Well, ah, not reading the Snider book. You’re totally aware of what I’m reading what I’m unfortunately ignoring and which will carry into the new year. Sigh. Having fun, though…

    Wordle continues to fascinate and I’m always intrigued at wondering who decides what word. We’re now 23.73% through the 2,309 words.

    >273 richardderus: *shudder* Insult to injury, what with having to be around OS 24/7.

    >274 richardderus: Sigh. Glad for Messi, sad for Mbappe, although he did win the Golden Boot Award.


    Dec 19, 2022, 8:55am

    Wordle 548 3/6


    Dec 19, 2022, 9:10am

    >285 karenmarie: Hi there, Horrible dear. I'm still elevating.

    24% through! Wonder what happens then. At Wordle 1155, does a coven of cone-hatted Puzzlers-in-Ordinary to Its Majesty the Algorithm convene and consult the entrails of a puffer-fish to determine the future of Wordle?

    Mbappé has 2026 to go. Barring death on the killing fields of the Ukraine, he'll be in it. And the likelihood of actual human soldiers getting sent to Ukraine isn't great. *smooch*

    >284 FAMeulstee: It is; I am. *smooch*

    >283 PaulCranswick: Children of Ash and Elm is a terrific read, PC. I think anyone English should make it a point to read both it and The Wolf Age.

    >282 jessibud2: Me too, Shelley. Me. Too. *smooch*

    Dec 19, 2022, 9:42am

    >286 richardderus: Nice! I worded in three as well.

    Happy Monday!

    Dec 19, 2022, 10:05am

    >288 figsfromthistle: Thanks, Anita, and ain't your timing somethin' else...I read a weird novella last night, Helpmeet by Canadian writer Naben unsettling book about a very bad man married to a very saintly woman...which then turns into something unexpected. This morning, still grinding that corn in my mental quirn, The Walrus arrived and it's one of their Staff Picks for Best of 2022!

    Dec 19, 2022, 11:06am

    >276 richardderus: No, but I’ll try again in the new year. It’s odd, because i checked the NYPL and LAPL for digital copies, as well as my local regional library system.Neither NY nor LA are timid about book titles.

    Ah, I’m sorry you’re having to stay sitting with leg propped. Once upon a time, that would have sounded like heaven to me. Now, experiencing a similar malady, I want to be up and moving more than I can say. Hope your wound heals quickly!

    Today, my wordle was a guessing game. I finally got it in 5.

    Dec 19, 2022, 11:23am

    >290 Storeetllr: ...!!... That's just weird, isn't it. I hope someone turns on the ordering machine soon. It's a worthwhile read.
    LitHub's Ultimate Best-Books-of-2022 List has 84 titles on it. How many (if any) are on your own 2022 list? (I myownself have reviewed seven of them.)

    Dec 20, 2022, 7:34am

    'Morning, Rdear. Happy Tuesday to you.

    My niece-and-her-wife sent a huge box of Wolferman's English Muffins, pastries, strawberry jam, and coffee yesterday - I had the blueberry scone last night and am saving the cinnnamon roll for Jenna and the Pecan -something-or-another for Bill. I see a Cinnamon English Muffin in my future before I head off to book sort...


    Dec 20, 2022, 7:42am

    This user has been removed as spam.

    Dec 20, 2022, 7:43am

    Morning, Richard. We are bracing ourselves for our first big snowfall of the year. It starts on Thursday. We could get upwards of 2 feet. WTH? Hey, at least the Warbler doesn't have to work in it anymore. Yah! I hope your week is off to a good start.

    Dec 20, 2022, 9:45am

    How is the foot doing today RD? I hope you are at least comfortable and reading.

    Dec 20, 2022, 10:12am

    Wordle 549 3/6

    AEONS, MIRTH, THIRD IIIIIIiiiiiiiinteresting!

    Dec 20, 2022, 11:55am

    >295 Caroline_McElwee: So far so good, thanks Caro. It's already a lot less swollen. That's a great result.

    Less swelling means less pain walking, which is terrific.

    >294 msf59: Yeeps! 2 feet of snow! I know you're delighted not to be trudging through the darn stuff.

    >292 karenmarie: I'm so glad the gift is what's wanted. I'm also a little jealous of your cinnamon English muffin...sounds like a scrummy way to use up the last dregs of lemon curd. Or a good slathering of Kerrygold!

    Dec 20, 2022, 12:11pm

    Glad to hear your foot is mending. Hoping there's lots of pleasant reading happen as you rest and wait. *smooch*

    Dec 20, 2022, 2:51pm

    Good that you can see results from sitting with your foot up, Richard, that way you're more likely to stick it out. I'm stuck home myself but for a different reason - snow. Hate the stuff which is why I live where I do but the trade off living in a place where it doesn't snow often is patchy snow removal.

    Dec 20, 2022, 6:56pm

    >299 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg, it's been tedious and frustrating but we're seeing results: the wound-care nurse thinks it's much better and sh should know. I klonked my knee earlier so it looks angry and red and gave her collywobbles...lots of Russian-accented instructions to just lie still. gonna come get my laundry out to be washed? No? Okay then!

    Anyway it's soon over.

    >298 MickyFine: Thank you Micky!

    Dec 21, 2022, 6:43am

    ‘Morning, Rdear. Happy Wednesday to you.

    >297 richardderus: I’m glad your foot is less swollen. Unsalted Kerrygold it was, and it was scrummy, to use your word.

    >300 richardderus: You’re not supposed to klonk your knee. I hope it’s better today along with your foot.

    *smooch* from your own Horrible

    Dec 21, 2022, 7:43am

    Wordle 550 3/6

    AEONS, MURKY, LUNAR I'm a little surprised I switched up word #2 today. I just...did...not planned at all, and lookee there what it did.

    Dec 21, 2022, 7:46am

    Glad your foot is less swollen!

    >302 richardderus: It took me four tries today.

    Edited: Dec 21, 2022, 8:17am

    >303 figsfromthistle: It's a good result, is 4. I'm glad I'm not getting worse, that's for sure!

    >301 karenmarie: I'll be sure to inform my knee that she's not allowed to klonk herself on laundry baskets. She won't listen, but I'll tell her.

    Ooo good butter on great baked goods is one of life's great pleasures.

    Wednesday orisons, Horrible. *smooch*

    Dec 21, 2022, 9:04am

    Celebrate the return of the Light
    Winter Solstice orisons!
    This topic was continued by richardderus's twenty-second 2022 thread.