Kirconnell Reads on the Homestead
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The Iliad of Homer translated by Samuel Butler
Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus
(touchstones omitted in consideration of my sanity. I will insert later during comments.)
I joined Club Read 2010 late, but I have been reading all along since the end of 2009. It will take awhile to log my thoughts so be patient with me. I don't write reviews, as such, often and prefer to think of my log entries as blurbs composed of impressions, observations, and notes to memory.
Like many other LT members I planned to reduce my book buying in 2010, but fell off the wagon around the second week of January. One consolation is the booksellers that I'm saving from bankrupcy.
I wish I could stick to a reading outline, but that is a hopeless quest and I read as my fancy strikes me. I do have plans to finish the stack of books my sister loaned me last year and also to whittle away at the many volumes languishing on my own shelves. I have a thread elsewhere (The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer....a very quiet group) to record my reading of the world classics, but I refuse to give up my guilty pleasures (mysteries, historical fiction, and biographies). Anyone who would like to follow my thread and/or comment is more than welcome to join me in a cup of tea and conversation.
1. Pride and Predator by Sally Wright
2. The Case for Books: Past, Present and Future by Robert Darnton
3. Jack Knife by Virginia Baker
4. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
5. The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel by Kathleen Kent
6. Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris
7. Thieves' World edited by Robert Lynn Asprin
8. Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander
9. Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton
1. Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton
2. The Time of My Life by Patrick Swayze
3. Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton (audiobook)
4. Tales From the Vulgar Unicorn edited by Robert Lynn Asprin
5. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
6. The 37th Hour by Jodi Compton
7. Shadows of Sanctuary edited by Robert Lynn Asprin
8. Pirate Latitude by Michael Crichton
9. The Socrates Cafe by Christopher Phillip (audiobook)
10. Fools Rush In by Ed Gorman
11. Gilgamesh translated by John Gardner
12. In Search of King Solomon's Mines by Tahir Shah
13. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
14. The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott
15. Candy for Christmas by Joanne Fluke
1. Devil in a Blue Dress: A Novel by Walter Mosley
2. Across the Wide Missouri by Bernard Devoto (audiobook)
3. Santa in a Stetson by Janet Dailey
4. Harry Potter's Bookshelf by John Granger
5. How to Wash a Cat by Rebecca Hale
6. Death of a Gossip by M.C. Beaton (audiobook)
7. A Plague on Both Your Houses by Susanna Gregory
8. The List of Seven by Mark Frost
9. Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman (audiobook)
10. Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters (reread)
11.Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.R. Rowling (reread0
Hi, Theaelizabet. So glad to hear from you again! I've been lurking on your thread for months. Did you feel someone looking over your shoulder?
Hi, Velma. I wondered where your 50 books thread had gone--I noticed that it hadn't surfaced for months. But I see in the introductions thread that you've been busy. Welcome back!
Pride and Predator by Sally Wright.
I picked this book up in the used bookstore while looking for some new mystery writers. It looked like an interesting premise and I had high hopes for it, but was disappointed. A Scottish landowner asks his friend, Ben Reese (an American professor), to evaluate the antiques in his country manor. Meanwhile, a close friend of his dies of accidental bee stings, but there are suggestions that it isn't so accidental. I mean, the Scottish countryside as a setting sounded so wonderful! However, Reese's angst about his WWI memories set my teeth on edge. Perhaps if I had started with the first volume in the series the reading would have fared better, but after this one I just don't have the motivation to seek anymore out.
The Case for Books: Past, Present and Future by Robert Darnton
This one I checked out at the local library. I'm always happy to read books about books and this one seemed to promise views on the evolving state of the book industry. It had some of that, but proved to be a collection of essays as opposed to a whole. While Darnton's experience in the world of books, the progression of ebooks and a universal digital library is extensive I found the arguments hard to follow because of the lack of consistency throughout the book. I know that I am rambling on and that is just what the book felt like too.
Jack Knife by Virginia Baker.
I found this one at my library as well. In the storyline a futuristic world has developed time-travel and plans to make some journeys backward to observe historical hot spots. Unfortunately, one of the scientists makes a trip of his own back to 19th century England (ca. Jack the Ripper's time) without the others approval. Another scientist and a Black Op agent are sent back to retrieve him before he can alter history forever.
I found this idea intriguing and the characters were solid if a bit cliched. The book toys with the idea of whether things happened because of the scientists' interruptions or would have occured anyway. The writing style was comfortable and moved along at a quick pace, but I found the ending to be oddly unsatisfying. Bad for me because the ending can make or break a book in my opinion.
The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston.
This is one of the books my sister loaned me. Unlike other books he has written, this one is a nonfiction investigation of a series of murders in Florence, Italy. While the author and his family were living there he became involved with a crime reporter who told Preston about some unsolved murders in the surrounding local areas and they set out to find some answers of their own. In the process Douglas Preston was exiled from the country and his reporter friend was arrested. While the conclusions remain unproved they are thought provoking.
>11 Medellia: Hi, Medellia! It's so great to see you again. I have missed you guys soooo much. Thanks for the welcome back.
edited because I am such a lousy typist
the Heretic's Daughter: A Novel by Kathleen Kent.
This is another of my sister's books (the stack dwindles) and I did enjoy it. Kent has a way of giving you a real feel for the Puritan life in early America. In this adaptation of her personal geneological history a family is ripped apart by the Witch craze surrounding Salem, Massachusetts. For the most part she writes well, but Ms Kent's love of similes almost got the better of me a few times. I wanted to grab her, shake her, and say Enough already! Get on with the story!
Where Serpents Sleep: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C.S. Harris.
In my neverending search for new mystery writers I found this book at the local Walmart. (Stupid touchstones). In 1812 London a refuge house for "unfortunates" burns to the ground with only Hero Jarvis as a witness. She asks Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin to help her find the murderers. This book pulled me into the world of Regency London with unexpected strength. I liked the characters, empathized with them, and wanted to learn more about them. The plot was decent and I didn't figure out who dun it until almost the end of the story. Definitely a plus to a hardline mystery reader. Unfortunately this wasn't the first in the series so now I'm off in search of the rest.
Well, enough catching up on posting for now. I'm off to read through the threads and actually read some books too!
It was nice that I finally had a book that I really enjoyed after so many this year that were only so-so. Hopefully, the year will be full of great books.
Thieves' World edited by Robert Lynn Asprin.
I read this book many years ago, but it popped up at the top of a pile and since I had enjoyed it so much then I decided to give it a reread. Unfortunately, it wasn't as good as I remembered. It is the first book of the Thieves' World series in which a city called Sanctuary is set as a generic location for many different writers to use. It consists of short stories where each writer created their own character who was allowed to interact with all other creations in this world. A great idea with many major SF/Fantasy writers that fascinated me upon my first read, but fell flat on the second. I don't know why, but the characters just didn't seem as vivid and the stories were choppy. Go figure!
Blind Justice by Bruce Alexander.
I found this one at my favorite used bookstore, but I was a little afraid to start it because I thought that the writing style would be too 18th century. I was pleasantly surprised to find it a marvelous read and an intriguing mystery to boot.
It enlists John Fielding (a real life person who created the Bow Street Runners and was the half-brother of Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones) as the sleuth. The narrator is a 13 year old boy who comes to London after being orphaned.
Called to the home of a lord who appears to have committed suicide it seems like an easy case, but the wife of the lord insists that her husband would never have commited such an act. Upon closer observation things look a little odd and off we go on a convoluted chase.
Fielding presents a likeable character who just happens to be blind. This adds a little more interest to the story. There is a real flavor of 18th century London which allowed me to lose myself in the story every time I picked the book up. I had an extremely enjoyable read and I'm currently in search of the rest of the series. Since Alexander died several years ago there won't be any more.
Death of a Valentine by M.C. Beaton.
I've been working a lot lately so when this came in at the library it just had to come home with me. Cotton candy for the brain. I have read all of the Hamish Macbeth mysteries therefore this one arriving for the holiday was a nice surprise.
Macbeth has acquired a new helper from the main office in Strathbane, but who would have suspected it was a policewoman with a secret crush on him. Not great literature, but just what I needed right now to distract me.
Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton.
I picked this one up in B&N sometime in 2009 because it had great cover art and it was a new mystery writer to me. I'm just now getting around to it.
An interesting mystery that occurs in Ft Conner, Colorado and involves a group of knitting friends thus combining two of my favorite things, mysteries and knitting. The characters could have been better developed, but this is the first book in the series so there is still hope. I did like Jennifer with her sweat phobia though. Very funny. Not my best read of the year, but one more down from the TBR stack. It also includes a couple of knitting patterns and a recipe for some scrumptious sounding cinnamon rolls.
The Time of My Life by Patrick Swayze.
A loan from my sister who picked it up on the library sale table for 50 cents.
This memoir was written (perhaps dictated) during the last months of Swayze's life. It is not well written, but you do get the picture of a determined perfectionist. Ok, if you like celebrity biographies. Could have used some editing.
Eaters of the Dead by Michael Crichton.
I grabbed this one for the car commute that I make every workday. It was on the library sale table for 50 cents so I had to find out if it was ok, didn't I?
Having read the book 4 times previously there weren't any surprises, but I love the story. it's a variation on Beowulf written when a friend of Crichton's bet him that no one would read Beowulf in this century. I wonder if he won the bet?
Beaton may not commit "great" literature, but her Hamish series sure provides a lot of giggly fun. Personally, I think she's a cut above most "cozy" writers. There's a lot of wry humor in those stories.
Thanks for dropping by. That's true, Thea, about Beaton. I've read both series, but I prefer Hamish for some reason.
Tales from the Vulgar Unicorn edited by Robert Lynn Asprin.
The second book of short stories in the Thieves' World series. Better than the first IMHO. More careful development of characters and better plotted stories.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.
Another loan from my sister. She says that she bought it for the cover which I have to admit on the first edition is very striking. I wasn't sure that I would like it partly because of the blurbs that I had read and also some of the reactions of fellow LTer's. For those reasons it was low in the pile. However, its day arrived and I don't regret it. I found that the "grusome" parts didn't bother me much (maybe because I work on a trauma unit at the hospital) and I soon found myself hooked on the story in spite of the fact that I didn't like the narrator much at all. I began picking it up and reading just a few more pages to find out what was going to happen. Interesting references to Dante, but Davidson seemed to be a little bit unsure what to do with his story toward the end. Nice resolution though. Probably not one that I would reread, but maybe 10 years from now I might pick it up again. Definitely not bad for a first book.
The 37th Hour by Jodi Compton.
I just finished reading The 37th Hour and at first I wasn't sure what to make of it. I expected an action thriller when I picked it up, but it is more in line with a psychological mystery with its extensive delving into the psychology of the actions of individuals much as Ruth Rendell did. It revolves around a Minnesota cop who finds her husband missing and knows that after 36 hours a case often goes cold. The characters are well drawn and interesting, the writing style fluid. The ending is different than expected, but mostly satisfying. She has created a somewhat surrealistic world in the frozen Minnesota landscape with her casual use of time which can be a little off setting. However, in general, I liked this book a lot and will look for others by her, especially the sequel since this one left the main character hanging a bit.
Now to discuss other reading. Ta da! I finished all the threads on Club Read 2010 today. Does that count?
Tuesday my copy of Backwoods Home Magazine arrived with lots of intriguing articles on gardening and country life. I've been dipping into it on my days off. I also have this month's issues of Guideposts (always inspirational), Countryside (great old magazine), New Mexico magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, and Texas Nursing Voice to get finished. I'm awaiting my first issue of The Atlantic Monthly, but may have to be patient until March or so for that.
As I went to take the clothes out of the washer I saw that it has started to snow here! Very unusual for this part of the country. It probably will be gone tomorrow, but I will enjoy it while it lasts with a fire in the fireplace, a good book, and a cup of hot chocolate. Thank goodness I'm off today so I have a chance to cuddle up on the sofa.
Today I awakened at 5am to a world of snow and ice. Approximately 6 inches of snow fall. Very unusual for this part of the country. The bad part was when the power went off at 7am, but I am used to this living in a rural area. They did really well to get the power back on by noon. Now, if it will just still be on when I get home from work tomorrow morning.
Shadows of Sanctuary edited by Robert Lynn Asprin.
The third book in the series. Short stories are better than previous two volumes. Better character development and plots and stories not so black.
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton.
This book was found on Crichton's computer files after his death in 2008. While I was glad to read one more story by him I really wondered if he would have wanted this one published. It is one of his historical adventure tales in the same vein as The Great Train Robbery, Eaters of the Dead, and Timeline except this one lacks his usual polish and style. It is a story of pirates, the Carribbean islands, gold, and damsels in distress based on a notebook left by Captain Hunter after his death at 43. However, it seems so dry and lackluster. Not what I have come to expect from Crichton at all. A disappointment.
Socrates Cafe by Christopher Phillips.
I listened to this as an audiobook on my commute. Picked it up at library sale for 50 cents. Mr. Phillips set himself up as philosopher of the people. He doesn't have a degree and began his work by announcing gatherings at local cafes, nursing centers, school, and libraries where people could meet to discuss philosophical questions in the manner of Socrates's dialogues. It would seem that he met an unknown need because the groups have proliferated across the country. This book was his story of how it began, why he did it, and some stories about various gatherings. It is a very uplifting story that makes philosophy seem more approachable and enjoyable. Interesting work if you can find it.
>26 Kirconnell: I was waiting to see how you liked this. I saw it when I was looking for some beginning philosophy books for my daughter, who is taking an intro. course. Maybe I'll pick it up next time I'm at the bookstore.
It's really not much about philosophy as much as how he established the cafes. However, he does discuss some philosophical questions well and gives the take of the group on them.
Fools Rush In by Ed Gorman.
A quick, fun read. The 60's were difficult times for most people without too many good memories. This murder mystery reflects back to those times...the good parts and the bad. Nostalgia. *sigh* There is a double murder in Black River Falls, Iowa and it looks as if it may be racially motivated. Sam McCain, private investigator seeks the real answers. Well done with some complex characterizations and a solid plot. Enjoyable.
Well, first things first. Since I fell off the wagon back in January I have continued to add books to my library. *it's my worst vice* On Tuesday I bought a used copy of 'Tis by Frank McCourt on the sale table at my local public library. Friday morning I went by the B&N in Tyler and got Drood by Dan Simmons, Winter Study by Nevada Barr, and Through a Glass, Darkly: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery by Donna Leon. Two out of three were on the bargain table so I guess that is some redemption. Saturday my Library of America selection, American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, Vol. 1, came in. I have a lot of reading ahead of me.
I'm still trying to work on my TBR and the books that my sister loaned me. One stack (my sister's) is decreasing nicely, but the other still looks like Mt. Everest and steadily growing. Oh well, I can't say that it doesn't make me happy thinking about all those new worlds and ideas waiting for my exploration.
I finished Gilgamesh and will write my impressions later. Today I plan to start on The Iliad. I've read it before, but this time I hope to see it with new eyes. I wanted to use my Fagles edition, but couldn't locate it so I have fallen back on Lattimore for now.
Hey Kirconnell, of Fagles and Lattimore, which translation do you prefer? I've got Lattimore and Lombardo, and each has charms, but I've yet to look at Fagles, though I know it's very popular.
Well, I bought the Fagles because I'd heard that it was very good, but then when I tried to find it this week it is out of pocket. Figures. I'm not fond of Lattimore. I prefer Fitzgerald, but I don't have a copy of his translation. I haven't read Lombardo, is he good?
I like Lombardo, but he may be an acquired taste. He translates for performance. Also, his text can be jarringly modern and yet I think it works on some levels. Bottom line, I guess, is that most translations offer something.
Here's an interview with Lombardo:
Thanks for the nice interview, Theaelizabet. I have loved reading The Iliad for years (not so much the Odyssey) and I tend to buy new translations all the time. I bet that I wind up with this one too. *chuckles*
Well, here I am, behind on posting already. Best to get on with it before I forget all the juicy details.
Gilgamesh translated by John Gardner. I enjoyed reading this poem again. (I initially read it at university.), but throughout it felt familiar and at the same time strange. I believe that it was the significant time lapse between when it was written and my time period and the differences in the two cultures that made it feel strange. It felt familiar because people really don't seem to change a whole lot. Here you have two young men who become friends and set off on adventures to win themselves a name. As Gilgamesh tells his friend not to fear death because their trials will cause their names to be remembered forever. Ah, fame! However, this poem is more than an adventure story, it is about life and death and our understanding and acceptance of it. After Gilgamesh watches Enkidu die he finds that he does fear death. His search for immortality as an escape from death eventually leads him to acceptance of condition of mankind. A timeless piece which deserves to be read again and again.
In Search of King Solomon's Mines by Tahir Shah.
I've enjoyed every book that I have read from Mr. Shah and this one is no exception. It took me a little longer to get involved in this trek into Africa, but once I did the pages flew. Tahir Shah's travelogues aren't like any others that I've read. They haven't been sanitized and made politically correct for my consumption. I feel as if I am there beside him traveling in his footsteps, so to speak. Not always a pleasant experience, but memorable, educational, and mostly enjoyable. A keeper!
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Murder by Joanne Fluke
A guilty pleasure. One of my mystery series that has been sitting on the shelf for quite awhile so it really counts as one off the TBR stack. This is number one in the series where we are introducted to Hannah, Moishe, and the other inhabitants of Lake Eden, Minnesota. Not a bad plot, but probably not the best that I've ever read. However, the author obviously knows this part of the country and that is part of the fun, learning about life in a place that I have never been. The worst part is that she provides some of the most tantalizing recipes. It slows my reading down so much when I have to copy off the recipes for later.
ok, that post was getting a bit lengthy so I am continuing on another one.
The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott
I postponed reading this book for quite awhile because (unlike others) I wasn't really impressed with Ghostwalk. However, I bit the bullet and picked up a copy at the local library. I was pleasantly surprised. I really fell plunk, dunk into this tale of thieves, mysterious women, and naive young men set in post Revolutionary France. Ms Stott's research into the period brings it to life and just when I thought that the plot was getting familiar she swept me away into another creative characterization. I found myself fascinated by Lucienne and her friends and thoroughly enjoyed their story.
Candy for Christmas by Joanne Fluke.
This charming novella was added onto Chocolate Chip Murder. I liked it a lot. The story is a departure from the murder and mayhem of Fluke's other work because it involves solving the mystery of a runaway teenage. And the recipes...great for the holidays.
This is probably my last book for February. I was amazed that my total for this short month was almost double that of January. I guess that the audiobooks and quick reads helped.
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