• Culture and Entertainment,  Reading

    What I Read and Watched: October 2019

    I’m rather burned out and unmotivated. I barely read, watched a few Hallmarks (not really in the mood for many of these this year thankfully, but really read for old favorites for Christmas).

    Books

    The Dream Stealer by Sid Fleischman. Uninspiring kids’ book.

    The Queen’s Secret by Jessica Day George. A middle-grade book that as I was reading caused me to feel like I picked up a middle book . . . I had. I’m interested to a least skim the next whenever it comes out, but not really super inspired to read the first one though.

    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Middle-grade, okay, reminded me of the much more interesting How to Steal a Million.

    Movies

    Clueless. So, way raunchier than I was expecting (I guess I didn’t realize it was 90’s or think much further about that). I could have done without that. All the 90’s Valley Girl talk was hilarious though, at least I assume that is what some of it was anyway. Everyone’s accent sounded Northeastern though. The driving part is funny. Cher is funny. Cher’s friend’s boyfriend who is trying to be all ganster but has braces, that was a hilarious. The “Mr. Martin” and “Harriet” are adorbs. I generally find the modern version cuter, apparently since I loved Martin and Harriet in Emma Approved, better even than Knightley and Emma.

    I wanted to like it, but between skipping because of the scratches on the dvd and my boredom, my trying to do a million things at the same time and finish the movie before family and guests got home from church (Sunday, what a great day to watch a movie like this . . .) and the changes in the plot and far too fast plot, I was disappointed. I will try it again, but yeah. Not near as much “Mr. Knightley” as there was in the book, plus making “Frank” gay completely changed the plot. In Emma, Mr. Knightley is jealous of Frank before anyone meet him, Emma is building him up as the perfect man, there is tons of flirtation, and he generally is the cause of Mr. Knightley realizing he loves Emma, going away to try to get over it, the ultimate avowal of love etc. Yeah, that falls terrible flat in the movie. The “Mr. Elton” guy has more of a point than the “Frank” while I think that Frank holds a slightly bigger role in the book. All that contributed to the flat, rushed ending.

     

  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Extraordinary Book Titles

    I’m linking up for Top Ten Tuesday (well, a day late) here. I’d fallen out of interest with TTT for a bit. I also feel that when I post I just find some other posts to read, but I don’t always see common interests and/or feel like going through 100+ posts. So I think I’ll try each of the multiples of tens or something.

     

      1. Imaginarium by Amanda Kastner
      2. A Pocket Full of Murder by R.J. Anderson
      3. The Eagle of the Ninth and The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff, for a start, I love all the titles of all the books I love of hers and think those titles are special, but I thought these could represent the more unique to the average person.
      4. The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye. Seeming oxymoron anyone?
      5. A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary (how apt) by Natalie Lloyd
      6. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury and
      7. Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson. Something about dandelions, I don’t know, just seems mysterious and whimsical.
      8. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
      9. Three Times Lucky, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing, The Odds of Getting Even, The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage
      10. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Reading

    What I Read: September 2019

    I surpassed my 2019 goal in August, I believe. But I’d still like to work on my new-to-me reading until December. I haven’t had to resort to much re-reading (I add all my re-reading to my goal, so that I know how much I re-read and so it doesn’t count towards my 100+ new reads), but I might have to increase that since I feel like I’m losing motivation, we shall see. And then I’m going to make sure I have the colored-illustrated version of Narnia to read along with the audio versions on Audible.

    All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot. I finished the third James Herriot collection on Audible. I love these, although this one featured a jarring suicide story and then followed with another one about depression. I could have done without those, I just wanted animal stories with pleasant or funny people stories. I like living in a safe bubble that only I puncture if and when I chose.

    The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay. Ultimately shallow.

    Barchester Towers and Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope. Oh, I’m VERY happy with this series of Trollope. It’s very readable and quite funny. His characters are all complex and developed, though not in the traditional sense, more that you very much know they are human, even the women, something Dickens couldn’t or wouldn’t do. I’m not sure when I want to watch Dr. Thorne on Amazon, I think I want to make it through the series, just so my perception of later books isn’t affected even though though each of these books focuses on new sets of characters with mentions of old ones, I just don’t want anything affected. I also discovered that BBC has a radio drama of The Barsetshire Chronicles available on Audible (!!!).

    The Unknown Ajax and Venetia by Georgette Heyer. I enjoyed the first well-enough even though the (rare) not-rake hero was a bit self-righteous towards the end. The first part was quite funny. Venetia, well, the worst type of Heyer rake AND the “older” heroine was more like the obnoxious younger ones in her defense of him. And oh, this one DRAGGED. I seriously thought of putting it down multiple times.

    The Man in the Brown Suit, The Sittaford Mystery, They Came to Baghdad and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? by Agatha Christie. Apparently I enjoyed these well-enough since I gave them all three-stars. I think I have one Christie mystery left that I haven’t read.

    A Fashionable History of Hats and Hairstyles by Helen Reynolds. Interesting book aimed at children for historical hats mostly. I wish I could find better adult resources, but the ones I got didn’t have illustrations, which is RATHER important for this subject!

    Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze by Elizabeth Enright. It took me a month to finish this. I’m obviously not the intended audience, but I still feel like at a young age, I wouldn’t have liked this as well either. It focuses on the younger two of the family following clues around, I feel like it reaches a younger, narrow age range than the first three books even though its the last of the series.

  • Reading

    The 7 Question Book Tag (Or Rather, 28 Question)

    So many bloggers I follow did this tag and had such interesting questions, I answered in the comments and then as I found more questions, I decided I’d might as well put all my answers here.

    Olivia’s Questions:

    What is your favorite genre to read?
    I feel like my favorites don’t necessarily have a “genre” always. I’m more drawn to authors, meaning, if I like an author, I will try all their works, but that doesn’t mean I will like any other author in the same genre. I do like many mystery authors though, but I wouldn’t say, I’d read any mystery book simply because it’s mysteries.

    What was the best book you read for the first time last year?
    I listened to the audiobook All Creatures Great and Small narrated by Christopher Timothy, best decision ever. I’m still not sold on audiobooks overall, but this is the type of book and narrator that brings out the work far better than merely reading it would. I’m currently on the 3rd of the series.

    Do you remember when you first began to read? What drew you to it?
    I apparently struggled to read, but my parents read aloud to us. I remember my dad reading the American girls books. Also, Mom used the 5 in A Row homeschooling curriculum which focuses on the Charlotte Mason method, using books to learn, so we had lots of lovely illustrated books.

    How do you arrange your books? By color? By title? By author? By series? By something else altogether?
    I keep my Barnes and Noble leather and Penguin clothbound editions separate and try to group them by color. Everything else has been divided between nonfiction and fiction, then fiction by author. But I’m going to be redoing my room plus have some newer paper backs and hardbacks that I might keep separate because they are pretty.

    New books or used books?
    New or like new, yet then I’m afraid to touch them, and might just end up reading a library version instead.

    What tends to send you into a reading slump?
    A lack of interest to try anything in my current library horde because I don’t know if I’ll like it or not. A determination to plow through a book I’m not enjoying but have disinclination to read. It’s better for me to put such a book down for a time and pick up another. Occasionally, an addiction to another form of entertainment. Usually that seems to come during the reading slump, but sometimes it’s before.

    What tends to pull you out of a reading slump?
    A easy read or an old favorite, this year thus far it’s been majorly Georgette Heyer, M.M. Kaye, and Mary Stewart

    Eva’s Questions:

    What’s the first book you can remember reading?
    I, apparently, struggled to read. I can’t remember a first. I do remember getting the American girl books, and for some reason, I thought Kirsten was read to me, but I managed Felicity on my own? Or maybe I’m dreaming, those were advanced for someone who couldn’t really read.

    First person or third person POV?
    3rd all the way. First person only rarely.

    What’s the longest series you’ve ever read? (It can be in terms of page numbers, amount of books in the series, or any other method of calculating.)
    I’m pretty sure it’s Harry Potter, I feel I looked up word counts of books and that came up on top.

    What book world would you least like to enter?
    Well, the Hunger Games seems kind of cliche, but yeah, any dystopia (I loathe that genre overall).

    Do you own any autographed-by-the-author books?
    A book about regency times, it’s packed away and I can’t find it easily on Goodreads, so I don’t have the title.

    What is your favorite place at which to buy books?
    Currently, Barnes and Noble, ordering I mean, I usually buy giftcards at a huge discount (discount #1) and then wait for a discount from my membership card (discount #1).

    Who is your favorite sibling duo/trio/etc in literature?
    The Penderwicks are all I can think of from a quite scan of my Goodreads favorite books, I’m sure I have others though.

    Katie’s Questions:

    What’s one genre you used to avoid, but now love?
    I’m not sure I really have this, classics is too broad, I didn’t read many classics as a teen, well, I didn’t read much as a teen as I struggled with it, but I don’t uniformly love all classics. And I can’t really think of any genre that I love that I hated. I’m more likely to be surprised by liking one book out of the genre. For example, I don’t tend to enjoy biographies because of the tone and the not so great historical accuracy (of perspectives, of comparison, of relative importance etc.), but I seriously enjoyed Tolkien’s bio, but that one book doesn’t convert me to the genre, but to the author.

    Have you ever liked a movie adaptation better than the book? Which book? Why?
    Eva mentioned this in one of her posts, I pretty sure everyone who has ever read the book and watched the movie prefer the movie for Alcott’s The Inheritance. I think sometimes I enjoy versions of Emma (movie or webseries) to book, because I can’t stand Emma herself, and the while not written in first person (I’m opposite to you on that, I can struggle with first person a lot) it is effectively written in her point of view, which is an obnoxious one.

    Name one thing about your favorite genre that you absolutely can’t stand. Something you wish you could change.
    That there aren’t enough well-written books in it? I always feel that I’m running out of authors I can respect whose books I can also enjoy.

    When was the last time you shipped a non-canon book couple?
    I don’t think I usually do, because 1) I generally read books where the author fits the characters together well 2) Most of the books I read don’t have true love triangles. Most rivals are either a bad guy or a boring guy, etc. 3) If I don’t like the way the book is going, I won’t finish it, and 4) I don’t really care to put couples who wouldn’t work in the actual story world together. I’m more likely to not like a couple or not like how one character ends up being bad, than actually having another couple in mind.

    Jo and Laurie are the main couple I can think of, because it SHOULD be canon. I feel like there may be some smaller side characters couples I’d like together (like Luna and Dean), but nobody I’m really crying about.

    How often do you write ‘rant reviews’? Or do you prefer to keep quiet if you didn’t like a book?
    I’m better at criticism than elucidating why I like something, so yes to the ranting.

    Thoughts on Charles Dickens? Love him, hate him, in-between him?
    In-between. I loved much about his writing and conception, but the VERBOSITY, my stars, it’s hard to get through the books. Also, I do prefer a bit more character development, and his females are usually the worst in that department, they often lean toward only one characteristic. I haven’t read him in awhile though (because of all. the. words.).

    Paperback covers: glossy or matte?
    Matte, more elegant.

    From Charity:

    What was your favorite series as a child?
    I had lots, but I’m going to go with Little House. I was definitely in a “Pioneer” phase, loved the books, sewed many sunbonnets from the sewing book, played “Pioneer,” played the Oregon Trail over and over.

    What classic book do you feel most obligated to read?
    Well, I have started War and Peace on Serial Reader ages ago, so I really want to finish it.

    If you could run away with any fictional character, who would it be?
    The first that popped into my mind was Martin from Faery Rebels trilogy and the Swift duology. I don’t know though, I think a Rosemary Sutcliff hero would be lovely, escaping would be the accurate term for that escapade though.

    What is your true opinion of Agatha Christie?
    She’s WAY overrated from an artistic standpoint. But I do like her books (not all) for an escapist read. I think I’m often disappointed though, or at least lately.

    What’s the last book you read that made you see red?
    I’ll TBR any book that makes me see red. The last I can think of was Prairie Fires an alleged biography about Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’d already read Pioneer Girl so found the information about Laura redundant. But that wasn’t the main issue, the tone was absolutely condescending and demeaning to everyone, Laura, the reader, etc. And I can’t stand when non-historians touch history, this is usually the result.

    What book would you most like to see turned into an ACCURATE movie?
    I’m always afraid of my favorites being touched, also, I don’t think movies can accurately bring out what I love if I love the good-writing. I think a good series of Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries would be awesome. Plenty of the wit is verbal in those, so not too much would be lost.

    If you could recommend any book, what would it be?
    Well the Faery Rebels (middle-grade blends the ancient celtic faeries, the origin of Tolkien’s elves, not Disney fairies in modern Britain) trilogy and the connected Swift Nomad duology by RJ Anderson, they do not get enough love. I was lent them by and acquaintance (only the first two are available in the US) and the bought them on Amazon.uk.

  • Reading

    Georgette Heyer’s Character Types

    So Georgette Heyer has a few varieties of leading men:

    • Her favorite who comes in two styles, the middle-age rake who may be flagrantly and/or offensively still a rake (I can’t STAND these) or have that more in the background or past history (the above two feature the latter). Not always (maybe not even usually handsome, but almost always “distinguished,” often Corinthian, always the sportsman, always careless of everyone’s opinion. Always wealthy and titled, I think.
    • The young-rake (I think I’ve come across him once, Sherry in Friday’s Child).
    • The not-rake (a couple times), vary in type (may be a decent gentlemen, may be a bit of a dandy, may be a soldier everyone thinks is low-class but isn’t).
    • The good boy (I’ve come across him once, Charles in The Grand Sophy). Usually the good boys are sententious prigs who stay sententious prigs. Charles doesn’t and between him and Sophy (one of the best heroines) this book is one of the best.

    Here heroines:

    • The (always) beautiful (usually) bland teenage (almost always) idiot heroine. Sometimes Heyer starts out misleading you to think “strong-willed” and with a brain only to disappoint later, usually this is a bland “innocent” or just a fool (think These Old Shades). This type is always paired with a rake. Often with the worst one. Usually these pairings make my least favorite stories, with the exception of Friday’s Child because the plot is good and the young rake and his friends are hilarious.
    • The young one (usually early twenties?) with a brain and personality. Usually these get the not-rake or good boy. Almost always or always have one of the more unique plots.
    • The slightly older young ones are are “on the shelf,” they could be mid-to late twenties. They are always possessing of a brain, and usually of a personality, but not always. May have one of the more unique plots, or more likely they may have the chaperone of a silly girl meets some rake connected to silly girl or girl’s lover plot-line variation or some version of responsible older sibling narrative.
  • Reading

    What I Read: August 2019

    Rose Cottage and Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart. Not my favorites, the first is better, the last was rushed, undeveloped, and yet another of her stories were I preferred the bad guy (he had more personality and development).

    Lady of Quality and The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer. These feature the less-offensive rake and demure “on-the-shelf” lady pairings. I’m going to do a quickie post on her character types.

    Three Times Lucky (Mo & Dale Mysteries, #1), The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing (#2), The Odds of Getting Even (#3), and The Law of Finders Keepers (#4) by Sheila Turnage. This are lovely, just right what I needed when I needed it. They have the same Southern sparkle and charm as A Snicker of Magic and The Key to Extraordinary. So much personality, such fun, such closeness. Mo reminds me of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. There is that same charm and pull there, but without the bad things, the hard things (and these are not classic level), I’m just talking about the overall small-town, charm.

    70s Fashion Fiascos: Studio 54 to Saturday Night Fever by Maureen Valdes Marsh, Fabulous Fashions of the 1970s by Felicia Lowenstein, and The 1970s Decade in Photos: Protest and Change (reread) by Jim Corrigan. So That 70’s Show sent me on a 70’s, particularly, 70’s fashion, binge. The first books was a fiasco in terms of organization, I’m not sure you’d get much from it as a stand-alone. I watched THE ULTIMATE FASHION HISTORY: The 1970s series on YouTube for a more coherent understanding of 70’s fashion (be aware that the punk rock section, which appears twice, in the main and in a high light, contain x-rated material!). From what I gather the strict standard of fashion that had been in vogue for centuries began to be broken in the 60’s and by the 70’s we had modern fashion. I had previously though there was a 70’s “look”, but it was made up of many different trends (jeans for example), all of which continue to this day with more specific details (flared jeans, boho look) coming in and out of modern trends. As well as making permanent the break away from formality.

    A Circlet Of Oak Leaves by Rosemary Sutcliff. Another of her smaller “children’s” works from that Antelope Books series.

    Passenger to Frankfurt and Endless Night by Agatha Christie. Didn’t care for either of these, the first had potential, some interesting characters and romance but that was mostly shoved aside for a weird dystopia/mystery (don’t like) that felt like WWII, the Cold War, and paranoia all cut and pasted together. Well, we had WWII, just write about that?!

  • Reading

    It’s So Classic Tag

    I’m joining the It’s So Classic Blog Party here at Rebellious Writing. 

    I saw posts about this party, but wasn’t super interested (I really don’t have tons of mental energy right now, not really reading much) until I saw all the posts with this tag which were fun to read. I’m not going to tag anyway since a) I’m lazy and unmotivated, b) I’m just linking up to the source and c) Almost everyone whose blog I read and who still posts regularly about books has already been tagged.

    What is one classic that hasn’t been made into a movie yet, but really needs to?
    I’m scared when filmmakers get their hands on my favorites. I think I’m more wanting re-do’s at the moment.

    What draws you to classics?
    The feeling of erudition? The quality of timelessness in perception, prose, etc.

    What is an underrated classic?
    I think that the Charlotte Brontë’s less discussed books are better written than Jane Eyre. I adore Dorothy Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries and KNOW they are far higher quality of books than the insanely popular Agatha Christie novels.

    What is one classic that you didn’t expect to love, but ended up loving anyway?
    I don’t know, maybe the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, I went in with total ignorance. I don’t think I’ve ever loved a book I was going to dislike or hate, just loved books I didn’t know much about. I enjoyed Dickens more than I thought, but I’m not sure “love” is appropriate, they are so long, and they don’t tend to be relaxing which is what I most want.

    What is your most favorite and least favorite classics?
    My favorites are many L.M. Montgomery novels. So many are just balm to my soul.

    Frankenstein is an example of trash that is made famous when an untalented upper-class teen girl hangs around a group of famous actually talented rakes.

    What is your favorite character from a classic? Or if that is too hard, one is your favorite classic character trope (e.g. strong and silent, quiet sidekick, etc.)
    I’m a sucker for really snarky, witty, confident men (e.g. Lord Peter Wimsey).

    What’s a popular classic that you felt wasn’t actually that great?
    Other than Frankenstein which is the worst, Les Mis, Rebecca, and The Great Gatsby are WAY overrated.

    Who is your favorite classic author?
    L.M. Montgomery.

    In your opinion, what makes a classic a classic?
    Brilliant writing (prose, insight, characterization, wit) and lasting through the ages. Unfortunately, I think that the latter is based on circumstances, not always on worth to talent ratio, meaning, I wonder if many books are lost that would be just as good if not better, simply because they didn’t catch the public’s whim at the right moment.

    Relating to newer books, what attributes does a book need to have in order to be worthy of the title “classic”?
    I think it should only be writing quality and not popularity but popularity can ensure that something will last.

     

  • Culture and Entertainment,  Reading

    What I Read and What I Watched: July 2019

    I didn’t read much in July. I brought several books on vacation and barely read at all. I was not in the mood, but my younger sisters started watching Psych and got me hooked again. I’d meant to rewatch those at some point. I remember one blogger recently asking if people preferred Monk or Psych. Since at that point I’d watched Psych 7 years ago and Monk recently, I wasn’t sure. Oh, it’s Psych all the way. I was SO thrilled that this show stood the test of time for me. The first time I watched it the 7th season was still airing, and between waiting for episodes and not likening the feel anymore, I quit in the early episodes of that season. This time, I quit sooner. I actually feel the show falls in quality in season 6. But before that, yes, just my thing.

    It’s also the first real adult U.S. television show I watched. I think Castle was next, but I didn’t really watch that in order, not sure that will have the same appeal either. Any show needs to end many seasons sooner than it does. Even ones I enjoy. The other shows I’ve watched in more recent years like Parks and Rec and Friends, well, I don’t think those will stand the test of time. I didn’t enjoy them near as much as expected. Television shows are such a “commitment” to me, that I usually (now anyway) see things on Pinterest or clips on YouTube and watch, then I have to feel like starting them.

    I’d seen clips and quotes from That 70’s Show years ago, but I wasn’t ready to commit, nor I think able to handle that humor then, don’t get me wrong, Fez almost always crosses the line so far he isn’t even in sight (why couldn’t they have focused more on his naivety and sweetness?!), and there are things the other characters say that bother me too, but oh, my, now, I LOVE this show. And by this I mean the early seasons plus Jackie and Hyde, there are only 6 (5 and 6 are a joke for most characters as they are overused, flattened, or made out of character and their plot-lines are mostly soap operatic) seasons, 7 is a joke (as Jackie and Hyde join the character and plot devolution and soap opera drama) and some stupid fanfic got made into a season unwatched, unmentionable, nightmarish. I think the show should’ve stopped at 4 or 5 after putting Jackie and Hyde together in 3. I don’t like everything in Jackie and Hyde’s relationship (all the drama which is such lazy writing, plus so out of character for Hyde), but wow, overall one of my (if not my) favorite couples ever, I knew they were going to be together before starting the show, and I was shipping them so hard. Of course the writing fell short of this couple’s potential starting at the end of 5 and reappearing again in 6 and then ruining everything later. All this sounds like I hated the show, but I loved the beginning plus Jackie and Hyde so much that the disappointment in the later seasons hurt. So much potential wasted.

    Dad bought Avengers: Endgame the day it came out on digital and we watched it that day. I hadn’t cared for Infinity War, I was barely paying attention by the end (probably shouldn’t watch dramatic/action films on my laptop), but I greatly enjoyed this one. And Thor, oh, my. The I got up the next day and watched Spider-Man: Far from Home which was the main reason I’d wanted to watch Engame, while I enjoyed it (although I got there 10-15″ after it started), it didn’t live up to my expectations (this is why I just CAN’T be allowed to look forward to movies!!!). I didn’t care for the plot, it felt kind of “filler.” Plus a bit disappointed in Peter and M.J.’s romance, it felt rushed and not as cute as it should’ve been, perhaps it should’ve been slower and resolved in the next movie.

    Now for the books.

    Then There Were Five and The Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright. #2 and #3 of the Melendy family, very charming, possibly a bit lower than middle-grade? Except something sad/scary in #3, so parents should preview first.

    The Chief’s Daughter by Rosemary Sutcliff. Another short story, probably the shortest of hers yet.

    Ordeal by Innocence by Agatha Christie. Not my fav.

    Thornyhold by Mary Stewart. Enjoyable, a bit different than her usual.

  • Reading

    What I Read: June 2019

    Imaginarium: A Graphic Novel by Amanda Kastner. I’m not usually into graphic novels (I want to work on that). I follow this artist on Instagram, and helped fund her Kickstarter for this. Her illustrations are charming.

    Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear. Definitely more what I was looking for than The Power of Habit. I read this fast, because I want to get it to read slower and closer.

    Death in Berlin and Death in the Andamans by M.M. Kaye

    J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter. I’d originally wanted to watch the Tolkien film, so I order tons of biographies as prep, this is the official or best one, I’d realized. I started with that. I enjoyed it so much, and I normally don’t like biographies. It is so well-written and Tolkien was such an interesting person. I actually prefer Narnia to LotR, but Tolkien to Lewis. His mind, interests, and skills, absolutely fascinating. I’ve read the Silmarillion as it’s been put together (by his son I believe) from his manuscripts, but this book made me mourn that Tolkien didn’t finish it himself. That was his true fictional life’s work, LotR was merely a side path.

    Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction by Christian W. McMillen and Epidemiology: A Very Short Introduction by Rodolfo Saracci. I believe I wrote reviews for both of these on Goodreads, I know for the former I did.

    My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. I found this from a list Catherine from Based on the Book had posted. I found it quite enjoyable. A bit odd reading about Corfu from this decidedly unromantic point of view after reading This Rough Magic earlier this year.

    How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by the Babylon Bee. The Babylon Bee is a Christian satire site or a satire site by Christians, like a Christian or written by Christians version of the Onion. Unlike most Christian media nowadays, it is decently clever. However, apparently some people are born without the ability to understand sarcasm (trust me, I’m sure my family thought I was for a while, but I’ve learned and appreciate it) or to learn it. Also, sometimes some topics need to be handled with kid gloves. Anyway, I personally have enjoyed articles from the site (and skits from John Crist pointing out some issues), however, this book, except for a few things (the quips about the denominations are a scream), I found this depressing and in poor taste; it’s not the same as articles on foibles, it comes across as mocking the motivations of every Christian. Yes, there are problems with American Christendom certainly, but I think that this assumes everyone is acting with terrible motivation rather than in ignorance or conformity or just blundering through. I think is the kind of thing that Pharisaical doctrine obsessed people and non-Christians with issues would use badly. I think this would wound rather than convict.

    The Warden by Anthony Trollope. I’d tried Trollope before but didn’t care for that book (The Way We Live Now) and not sure I cared for satire. I found it painful not funny, but is satire supposed to be laughing funny? Anyway, another blogger, Elisabeth Foley, mentioned The Chronicles of Barsetshire, so I’ve started these. I did enjoy this one, and I did laugh at this.

    The Gabriel Hounds and Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart. Not my favorite, although the setting of the first was exotic, I guess I found the story a bit bland. The latter was set in England but the atmosphere was more interesting, however, both involve cousin romances, though the latter is, thankfully more distant. As someone in a state notoriously mocked (with reason, my great-great grandparents were first cousins) for cousin marriages because, you know, hillbillies and all that, I find it odd that modern upper-class (well, maybe upper-class in this situation is an explanation) cousin marriages in England were happening so recently. I mean everybody knows the hillbilly jokes, and I can allow (i.e. try to ignore) the Jane Austen stories and to a lesser extent (because set more recent than JA) Eight Cousins because they were so far back in time (still not excusable though, I know people had qualms even then), but that is mostly way back then. These books were published in the late 60’s to 70’s!

    Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley. Eh, over-hyped in my small bookish world, found it a bit sanctimonious.

  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

    I’m not going to do all the illustrated books (I think I might do that for a freebie). I’m picking books (mostly series) from when I was strongly reading on my own. I’m going with favorites then that I’d want my kids to read.

    I guess my age was maybe 9 to early teens or maybe 9-12 for most of these? (And yeah, that’s childhood for me. I was a kid until maybe 14-15). Lot’s of historical fiction (although not the Historical Diaries or whatever they were called  that my sisters and others loved, I think those were a little too realistic for me to handle then based on my memories of my unsuccessful attempts). My introduction to Rosemary Sutcliff came right on the heels of these age.

    1. The American Girls. Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, Samantha, Molly at first, then later Kit, I was growing out of them a bit when Kaya arrived (and she’s the last of the quality ones in my opinion).
    2. The Little House books and the Caroline books (and the Charlotte ones I read when I was a bit older).
    3. Boxcar children (we were all obsessed with these).
    4. The Borrowers (The Borrowers, The Borrowers Afield, The Borrowers Afloat, The Borrowers Aloft, and The Borrowers Avenged) by Mary Norton.
    5. Grandma’s Attic series and Grandma’s Attic Novels (In Grandma’s AtticMore Stories from Grandma’s AtticStill More Stories from Grandma’s Attic; Treasures from Grandma; Sixteen and Away from HomeEighteen and on Her OwnNineteen and Wedding Bells AheadAt Home in North BranchNew Faces, New Friends) by Arleta Richardson. Our friends read these allowed while we sewed or whatever (I think I was bit older maybe preteens to early teens?).
    6. Narnia. My dad read these aloud to us twice.
    7. Sarah’s Journey Series (Home on Stoney Creek, Stranger in Williamsburg, Reunion in Kentucky, Whispers in Williamsburg, Shadows on Stoney Creek) by Wandra Luttrell (so, apparently these are middle-grade Christian fiction but I remember these being good, granted they were favorites).
    8. Annie Henry: Adventures in the American Revolution (Annie Henry and the Secret Mission, Annie Henry and the Birth of Liberty, Annie Henry and the Mysterious Stranger, Annie Henry and the Redcoats) by Susan Olasky
    9. Calico Bush by Rachel Field (Hitty is waaay more famous but this was the first one we read, and I’m not sure if I read Hitty at all, if so it was recently).
    10. Bobbsey twins (to round out the list, these were books I read at my grandparents). For some reason, I never got into the Nancy Drew books or the Hardy boys. I did look at Trixie Beldon, I think those are probably more interesting. I wish I’d read all these when I was younger, some books you can love only if you start young.
  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

    I don’t know if all of these are unpopular, they are just opinions/arguments (not the same thing) I rarely see expressed or are expressed and then scorned. But I have a limited exposure.

    A lot of these are my ideals. I’m SUCH a mood reader. I feel like I need some escapist reading. I don’t read near enough deep books. But I do think that I should, I just have to have a lot of easy (but still quality) reading on hand, plus ways of planning and motivating myself.

    1. Show, don’t tell. If I feel like the author is telling me something, forcing something, rather than displaying it, then they’ve failed to convince me (ahem, Jo and Laurie). Books aren’t mere explanations, they are story, art (perfection, okay, maybe an exaggeration). A reason, I think for my avoidance of contemporary fiction.
    2. Prose, description, characterization, interpersonal relationships, wit, etc. are more important than plot to me, and, (I think) in terms of literary merit at least equal to plot. I feel that this is also why I dislike so much of contemporary writing.
    3. I dislike the didactic in all forms, and obvious preaching isn’t art, even though some obviously gifted people squeeze it into their books. This goes back to showing, not telling. Y’all, I could find a preacher for anything, but I don’t want preaching, thanks, there is far too much of it already. And I’ve had far too much of it already (and probably done too much of it . . . like now, lol). Again, another reason I tend to avoid contemporary fiction.
    4. I like my realism idealized (I’m wanting to explore this more later). Basically, when I’m reading a “real” life setting, I’d like it to be idealized, not perfect, just not sordid or mundane or petty.
    5. Gritty “true to life” isn’t an asset (and isn’t necessarily true to life). Dark doesn’t equal deep. “Realism” can be vicarious reading or voyeurism. I want to escape reality and/or have my mind, ideals, etc. uplifted.
    6. I like my fantasy realistic. I don’t even know how to describe what I mean about that, but maybe I just mean well-written? I guess I want believable circumstances in a fantasy world, exciting, fanciful, yes, but still “human” I guess? Actually, now that I’m thinking of it, I generally prefer, low fantasy, and this is probably part of why.
    7. Quality over quality. All books are NOT equally good, well-written, etc. Taste and comprehension are two different things. You can like different genres from other people. But sometimes one genre may be notorious for being shallow and silly.
    8. Reading is not a hobby. Everyone who can read is a reader. People who don’t regularly read are still readers. Everyone should read as a form of mental exercise, to learn, to be inspired, I think reading for entertainment is good, but that is not the sole purpose of reading, rather an additional purpose.
    9. Interpretation isn’t up to the readers. Reading comprehension matters, like listening matters.  The author chose specific words, for specific reasons. Obviously, we are going to disagree, not understand, view things through our own lenses. But we should try to understand what the author is saying. And then form opinions on what is said, described, etc. Not the actual meanings.
    10. Reading well matters. Our brains are muscles, reading well is important to our personal development, to our knowledge, to our comprehension, to our families, to our culture, to society, to life. And I don’t mean “current” event copy+paste type reading. I mean read just a tad beyond your comprehension, and then when you get comfortable, a tad more beyond that.
  • Reading

    What I Read: April and May 2019

    Children’s Lit

    Continuing on from earlier this year in children’s lighter classics that I didn’t read as a child.

    Knight’s Castle by Edward Eager. I read Half-Magic ages ago but forgot everything about it. This is fun, I’m reading more of the series, but it’s not the most thrilling middle-grade lit for adults.

    All-of-a-Kind Family, All-Of-A-Kind Family Downtown, More All-of-a-Kind Family, All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown by Sydney Taylor. These are okay, not the most interesting in tone and description, rather didactic, definitely a lower reading level than middle grade. I ended up DNF-ing the last book, a juvenile tone and writing style doesn’t work with adult life.

    The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright. This is far closer to the sweet spot for excellent children’s literature, and I think I want to get more of these for vacation reading.

    Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. This is below middle-grade, definitely want future kids to read or to read aloud with them but just not inspiring enough/high enough grade level for an adult although I’d still like to try Ramona Quimby because I’ve heard those are more popular.

    What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. I saw a gorgeously illustrated set of this series on a British Instagrammer’s page, it turns out they are American but for some reason I got the impression that they were less popular here, the reprint has a note from a British lady. I guess I thought that was odd, it feels like its usually the other way around usually? Also this kinda has that classic American North moralizing (the Northern authors moralize; the Southern authors write about crazy, and I mean CRAZY, people; and the Midwest authors manage to make everything banal, despairing, and demoralizing in my little, ironically, exposure to the grown-up American Classic scene) without the charm of better authors (think Alcott). At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to read more, but those covers! Maybe the others are better?

    The Changeling, The Truce Of The Games, Shifting Sands by Rosemary Sutcliff. And now for the taste of genius. I’ve exhausted most of the best novels of Sutcliff and had been getting some of her less inspiring reads. But these short stories that are part of an older children’s collection, are the true Sutcliff storytelling magic. I think that she wrote more of these (they are published by or part of Antelope books and feature woodcut illustrations, I believe), but I’ve had to get them a few at a time through interlibrary loans.

    ReReads

    The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This, thanks to my more capable reading abilities plus age, is much shorter than my memory of it. Also, Puritan stereotypes are still annoying as heck. This is sheer historical ignorance, for example black was a GOOD color, a wealthy color for Puritans. Per David Hackett Fisher in my beloved Albion’s Seed Puritans were far more egalitarian (second to the Quakers who were the most) in gender roles and economics than the two Southern cultures (he divides early developing U.S. into four basic cultures coming from four in England) which would’ve have been more similar to Kit’s, I’d imagine, and she’s just used to being on the top too. So, a lot of this story is just nonsense. A lot of this just feels like modern projecting based on some dramatic events without any understanding of the overall times. Nat’s still awesome though.

    My Escapist Reads

    False Colours, Arabella by Georgette Heyer. These were both 3 stars for me, the first featured identical twins as hero and side character, one normal, one a rake. The second featured a girl with a brain . . . and a rake for a hero. Well you, know, that’s her favorite “hero.” I decided to take a break to keep any other Heyers in reserve.

    So then, I started on Mary Stewart and MM Kaye and found another therapeutic reads, of course I’ve mostly exhausted Kaye as she didn’t write very many.

    Death in Cyprus by MM Kaye and The Moon-Spinners and This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart which I read in that order and fairly close together (followed up by Death in Zanzibar), and I kind of started blending the author’s styles a bit, they are both British, suspense for the former, mystery for the latter; have a lot of similarity in the hero-types; and hilariously, were each set on an Island in the the eastern Mediterrean starting with a “c”: Cyprus (no, really?), Crete, and Corfu, respectively. I greatly enjoyed all three. I’m so glad I started both authors like this and read these books in this order, it just fit so well, and I highly recommended anyone new to these authors to do this.

    The Ivy Tree (My least favorite Stewart, I preferred the villain, I kept hoping against hope he wasn’t the villain, I hate the inclusion of infidelity, that was the love story, also, just not a great love story, period, rather sickening.)

    Wildfire at Midnight (Not super crazy about this one, also has a bit freaky stuff, again, cheaters. And the women are just supposed to ignore and forgive the not-truly-repentant cheaters to “keep” them. NO.)

    Nine Coaches Waiting (I think my expectations were too high as I adore the first two I read, and this is the most famous and didn’t match those first two in tone for me.)

    My Brother Michael (I really enjoyed parts, but kind of felt choppy in quality, also, be careful with this one, I feel like trigger warnings are needed, there is a psychopath here and some sexual stuff, one part is pretty awful, not rape although I thought for a bit it was implied in different episode which without the first I wouldn’t have thought at all, but then Simon and Camilla were too calm in their response, but it doesn’t stretch to the imagination that the villain would; anyhow, this is darker than the others.)

    Madam Will You Talk? (This one was thrilling, for more overall evenly intriguing but still doesn’t come close to my original favs.)

    Thunder on the Right (Eh, far more buildup than delivery.)

    The Wind off the Small Isles (This was an enjoyable short story.)

    All by Mary Stewart. A lot of my liking of these novels involves her evocative settings, so if I didn’t like the settings/her descriptions just didn’t match the atmosphere of previous ones, that fact was also mixed with any dislike of the story.

    Death in Zanzibar, Death in Kashmir by MM Kaye. The former is up there with Death in Cyprus, the latter is enjoyable. I DNFed Death in Kenya. I think there is two that I have ordered/will order via interlibrary loan.

    Westerns

    True Grit by Charles Portis. Eh.

    Shane by Jack. Eh, but in the hands of a better author could’ve been awesome.

    I’m going to keep trying, albeit slowly, on Westerns, though.

    Random

    Arthur by Stephen R Lawhead. I have Pendragon (the 4th book), but I think I’m done with this series for now. I felt so lost and felt that the author was as well.

    Motivational

    Outer Order Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin. This isn’t really a book, rather a collection of organizational/personal environment ideas. I felt it “spoke my language,” others may not feel so. I think motivational/self-help books are VERY specific to each person, I mean within the exact same topic, if one author doesn’t work for you, find another.

    When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H Pink. Eh, considerably overstretched the “scientific” aspect, if you could even call it that; books like this and The Happiness Advantage (I DNF’ed for this reason, the lack of new concepts, and the tone) tend to stick “scientific” in quite too often and, I think, not very accurately. Sorry, not every scholarly study, undertaking, etc. is scientific. Also, protesting too much.

    The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey. Overall, great basic money advice. As with everything can be tailored to personal situation (something I didn’t realize in my foolish youth with his first book). Don’t agree about no credit cards, nor about super specific budgets all the time, ain’t gonna happen for this girl. But all the way there for the emergency fund!!!

    I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. He speaks my language, and I find him hilarious. He also writes more for my age and situation. I want to get the newer copy of this book for myself. I agree with more of what he had to say/the way he said it than Ramsey although, truly, the overall advice isn’t wildly different (no helpful financial advice is at bare bones). But I found Sethi’s breakdown extremely helpful to me.