• 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.

  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books of the Last 10 Years

    I thought this was really creative/fun/easy topic. I don’t pay too much attention to specific publication dates, more to decades/centuries/eras, so I was curious to see what would come up for me. I exported my Goodreads library and cutting down out extra columns, I managed to look at the years 2018-2009 on publication dates for books I’d rated 4 or 5 stars. I aimed for fiction when I could, but a few years I only had nonfiction. If there were two, and I thought that I preferred one over the other, I picked that. If there were two, and I thought both were equally deserving, I put both. I’m pretty sure I’ve featured most of the fiction on TTT multiple times, but what can I say, I love my favorites, and I’m quite picky. But, somebody PLEASE give Faerie Rebels  and the Swift duo more attention.

    • 2018 Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson
    • 2017 The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse
    • 2016 The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd (a standalone middle-grade novel, my favorite of hers, Appalachian magic, like the first, which I love; I usually think magic belongs in Old World settings, but there are specific areas/cultures where it fits in the New World, and Appalachia is one)
    • 2015 The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall (book four of The Penderwicks)
    • 2014 Nomad by R.J. Anderson (the second book of Swift duo, was supposed to be trilogy, but that hasn’t come and might not come, mourning)
    • 2013 Death by Living by N.D. Wilson
    • 2012 Swift by R.J. Anderson (book one of Swift, a continuation of the world from Faerie Rebels)
    • 2011 Entwined by Heather Dixon (a slight eery yet lovely retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses fairytale) and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall (book three in a charming middle-grade series about four sisters)
    • 2010 The Chesnut King by N.D. Wilson (the third book in The 100 Cupboards trilogy, a wonderful middle-grade fantasy trilogy)
    • 2009 Knife and Rebel by R.J. Anderson (books one and two of the Faerie Rebels series, an awesome fantasy series that straddles the line between middle grade and teen like Harry Potter)
  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Characters That Remind Me of Myself

    I’m picking characters with at least some similar personality characteristics , I’m not sure I think any or most of them are exactly like me. The first 5  are characters with similar personalities (i.e. rather brash/emotional/out of control types); generally speaking NOT the oldest sibling who seem to always be cast in the quiet, responsible cast, again, ouch. The other characters are those with traits I see in myself but who are not otherwise very similar.

    I’m wanting to do a post about how so often, I’m like the traditional portrayal of tomboys in personality, but not in outlook or tastes or goals or bravado/bravery. Many of the characters with my outlook, tastes, and goals are meek, sweet, or annoyingly poised. Then also, there are the uptight, old-maid characters whose opinions/outlook I can relate too. OW!

    1. Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. I also get Marianne on these quizzes.
    2. Jo March from Little Women. The unbridled tongue and temper, um yes. The tomboyishness, no. (Rose in Rose in Bloom and Eight Cousins is a well-balanced character now that I’m thinking Alcott characters)
    3.  Skye from The Penderwicks series (the “Jo” of this loosely modern middle-grade version of Little Women). Again, the brashness.
    4. Laura of the Little House books. Just generally being the one who gets in trouble, particularly because of her words. Overall my childhood personality and proclivities were similar, outdoors and a bit rebellious but still not a tomboy.
    5. Oh, and this one is going to be good. Susan Pevensie. There have been a couple defenses of Susan Pevensie recently, more or less with the same criticisms of the book that I first saw years ago from a favorite author. However, I disagree with all of them, and Susan is definitely my least favorite of most of the children. And yet, a lot of what I see to dislike in Susan, I see in myself (bossiness mainly, for example). I think I’ll save more of my opinions for when I re-read Narnia, hopefully in the near future.
    6. Johnny Tremain, from Johnny Tremain. Quick spoken, quick tempered. Sense a pattern here?
    7. Catherine Morland from Northanger Abbey. No, overall I’m not like here, but I’ve frequently, particularly when I was younger, exhibited a great deal of her gullibility.
    8. Donna in a Tangled Web. Pretty sure that’s exactly how I would act in love (also, see below). Peter and Donna are absolutely the most ludicrous, hilarious over the top people. Of course, I can also see myself making a goose of myself like Jocelyn too though.
    9. Mara, in Mara, Daughter of the Nile. Now, this is going to sound vain, “Oh, yes, I’m exactly like a clever double spy!” No, what I mean is I’m rather (!!!) readable and manipulatable, like Mara is to Sheftu, he knows all along how much she is attracted to him and toys her with it. This aspect is similar to many of the older Heyer heroines.
    10. Every unimaginative character in L. M. Montgomery books. Yes, I’ve always been the literal person, however much I now want to be like Anne or Emily or Pat.
  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up A Book

    I’m going to go mostly with what causes me to pick up a book I’ve borrowed from the library, not so much with what causes me to choose what book to add to my hundreds of titles long (I’ll have a better estimate eventually, I don’t think it’s 1000, but I might be wrong) TBR list or what causes me to choose which books off my TBR list.

    1. To get and stay off the web
    2. Comfort (escapism, avoidance)
    3. I know I will likely enjoy it (I’ve read other books by the same author)
    4. Curiosity
    5. Procrastination
    6. Contrariness (avoiding other books I think I *should* be reading)
    7. Determination (those books I *should* be reading)
    8. To learn/stay motivated
    9. Because I’ve exhausted my other book options
    10. Because I fell for the hype
  • Reading

    What I Read: March 2019

    I read 15 books in March.

    Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. This was a reread. I’d conveniently rewritten out a significant and sad part of the plot in my head apparently. Also, hindsight is 20/20; I don’t think the thought is perhaps accurate to the time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, and it did help renew my interest in my country’s founding. At least I hope, I still have not picked up the book that has caused by (apparently many years long) study of U.S. to stall. Perhaps I need to revisit Liberty’s Kids?! Yes, that’s a good excuse.

    Cotillion, Black Sheep, and Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer. These all got a 3 star from me. Cotillion was old rake free. The couple were both young, both had personalities, and it was funny and sweet. Back to regular scheduling of course with Black Sheep (as implied by the title), I still found this fun. Cotillion featured (for you know a little variety) a very young rake and his basically child-bride. She was more of a prop (why do her young heroines generally feature zero real personality?), but the “hero” and his coterie and the scrapes his bride get into and just the wit, and everything altogether is absolutely hysterical, this almost got a four.

    Betsy-Tacy, Betsy-Tacy and Tib, Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill, Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown, Winona’s Pony Cart, Heaven to Betsy, Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy Was a Junior, Betsy and Joe, Carney’s House Party, and Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace. These were not the classic sweet novels I was hoping for, they were rather flat and silly, except the Deep Valley ones (the ones that don’t feature Betsy in the title, but don’t unfortunately repeat the omission in the books), those were MUCH better although far from classic level excellent. I read them in the order listed as that was the recommended chronological order. After Carney’s House party were two more Betsy books, but when I picked them up, the quality, Betsy, and probably the contrast of Carney’s House party caused me to opt in disgust not finish those. Emily of Deep Valley, I think, fell before Carney’s House Party, but I’d saved it for last as it was supposed to be the best. It could’ve been but it wasn’t, it failed to live up to the dust jacket description. The pacing was poor on the plot and the depth increasingly shallow even though the subject matter deepens. I still enjoyed it though.

  • Reading

    What I Read: February 2019

    Random note, apparently there are people in the world who can pronounce February with that first “r.” Needless to say, I’m not one of them. I actually had to stop and think when I heard that (on Jeopardy) to make sure I knew how to spell it right, I do, it’s autopilot. Anyway.

    Scholarly Nonfiction
    Viruses: A Very Short Introduction. I’m going with the medical field to start off my reading through this Oxford University Press collection. A lot of this is beyond me (maybe I should start taking notes) as it’s very detailed, and I’m more, I don’t know big picture? Not cellular level definitely, I’m looking forward to epidemiology, pandemics, etc.

    Light Nonfiction
    Off the Clock. I loved some of her ideas for memory making, but I have totally different personality (beach bum and rebellious type, lol) and perspective so overall this main points/aim aren’t/isn’t for me.

    Thinking with Type. I read this as part of this self-directed “course” in graphic design. It seems rather abstract and esoteric in parts, but I will probably go back to it for the more practical aspects. I’m definitely analog here though, greatly prefer the ancient practice of calligraphy.

    The Four Tendencies.

    • I’d heard of this before but didn’t look into it very deeply as personality tests/typing can be really obnoxious in their unscientific, unrealistic claims. When MuchelleB mentioned it in one of her videos and mentioned that she was REBEL/Questioner, I thought that sounded like me (this explains why I find so much of her advice/tips so helpful, rather unusual for me), so I read the book. I’m definitely that type.
    • I find this framework (it’s not a personality test ) extremely interesting and practically useful. I didn’t however, find it ground-breaking. Also, I’d already known much about my tendencies already, and I didn’t find what I wanted (job advice); actually beyond the initial explanations, I found much of the advice overly-generalized opinions, the Rebel section, especially.
    • The author seemed to rely too much of the obvious cultural connotation/stereotypes of Rebels. For example, she mentions obeying speed laws and mentions Questioners and Rebels as resisting this. I don’t, in fact, I’m the strictest person I know on driving, and I know our speeding laws are lax (we have so many road deaths near us in perfectly good weather). But I think my reasons might be different than say her personal Upholder tendencies.
    • Also, I think perhaps her being an Upholder affected her view. She seemed to say Upholder’s followed rules because they were rules. I don’t follow petty rules or say-so’s, but I consider morals, ethics, and laws paramount; I don’t even consider them as comparable with “rules.” This is a whole other topic I could chase.

    The Slight Edge. I found a lot of good ideas and took notes, but I definitely think that this could’ve been reduced by two-thirds.

    Light Fiction
    Conrad’s Fate. This is the last of the Chrestomanci’s books (that I hadn’t read). Not my favorite (clearly, since I forgot what it was about and had to look on Goodreads).

    The Golden Tresses of the Dead. These books have such a fun setting/tone, and there are some hilarious lines in almost all of them, and Flavia is quite a personality. However, I think that there is quite a bit in poor taste in all the books, some more than others. In this one, the mystery and ending was also sub-par compared to the rest.

    Veiled Rose. After reading the first of the Tales of Goldstone Woods, I stalled on this the second. I almost didn’t finish it, I skimmed to see if it turned out like I wanted and discovered via the other books that this plot is strung out while new stories and characters were focused on with more and more books. That (and the fact that there was yet ANOTHER book my library didn’t have) killed my interest in the series for a time. I think maybe I will slowly work my way through them. These were surprisingly “good” from a Christian AND homeschool author (my indicators that books are going to be TERRIBLE since everyone in homeschool circles seems to think they are a writer and Christian Fiction is a ludicrously absurdly terrible genre). I don’t think the author should have strung out a series to be this long. I also think that if she worked and reworked her books she could have something of a much higher caliber (I think that is an issue in today’s writing, in part due to the publishing industry, this lack of time and extensive drafting of books and this push to churn out tons of works).

    Frederica. I’m still on a Heyer kick, but I’m trying to space them out. Another middle-aged (okay, maybe not that old) rake again. Really, Heyer. The heroine has a brain and personality though (she gives all the on-the-shelf 28-ish ladies personalities and brains).

    Sprig Muslin. Not a rake AND they are of close age. However, most of the book focuses on a really obnoxious silly, stupid young girl (the type the old rake usually marries, usually sans the obnoxiousness, that would indicate something of a personality, lol) that the hero has to babysit and that everyone of course thinks is his mistress.

  • Reading

    Top Ten Tuesday February 26: Places Mentioned In Books That I’d Like to Visit

    I want to go to more places from this list, but I’m trying to find ones that have a distinct literary connection for me. Many books are set in places I want to visit, but the books themselves don’t inspire me with their descriptions or lack thereof. And then there are places for which I have no literary connotation, but perhaps a historical or movie or genealogical interest for me instead. Anyway, I just feel that some of my favorite books are all in one place and perhaps books I didn’t like so well had geographic interest (but I can’t remember them). And of course tons places in England will have literary connections for me, but I’m trying to find the ones that match with favorites or have a vivid literary connotation for me.

    1. Yorkshire Dales (James Herriot books)
    2. London (Lord Peter Wimsey novels)
    3. Wales (Rosemary Sutcliff books)
    4. Cornwall (Rosemary Sutcliff and Swift and Nomad)
    5. Hadrian’s Wall and the Antontine wall (Eagle of the Ninth)
    6. Prince Edward Island (L.M. Montgomery novels)
    7. Mackinaw Island (Once on this Island, Girl of the Limberlost)
    8. Switzerland (Little Women, Heidi, Treasures of the Snow)
    9. Egypt (well . . . specifically Ancient Egypt with Sheftu) (Mara, Daughter of the Nile)
    10. New Zealand (closest I can get to Middle Earth) (Lord of the Rings)

     

  • Reading

    What I Read: January 2019

    Rereads

    The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson. I realized when reading this that I’d read this as a child. Funny enough I guess, but maybe not quite as much (nor as endearing) as the Christmas one.

    Popular Nonfiction

    Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal by Ben Sasse. He can be SO Luddite-sounding, even though he claims not to be. I had trouble with the first part of the book, I think he tries to reach everyone, but I don’t find it accurate, and I don’t think he should be making some of the claims he does without statistics. The end (the actionable part) is far more encouraging (similar to the other book, except that book was mainly actionable). One of the best parts (if not the best) is his highlighting and explaining the difference between civics and politics, something I hold to be highly important.

    The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. This is good for motivation if you are in the right place for it. It could definitely lose some repetitiveness and be made into a booklet.

    The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski. This had interesting information, but quite frankly, I’m not sure what her point ended up being. I think her thesis was that a group of home economics educators played a pivotal role in universal American stylishness in the 1930’s-1950’s, but I find that quite a stretch. She didn’t include readership statistics of their books or participation in their courses. And this was such a small period of American history. Also, most of it wasn’t really a historical treatise but rather focused more on the “Dress Doctors” programs and advice. She doesn’t address the past style of American women for context, nor does she give a reason for the overall lessening of formality (which also applies to Europe, but we declined into outright slobbishness and trends, at least per the average person or fashion site). Also, America is so widely different, even now, you can’t honestly lump everyone together. The rural states had less need and less access to fashion as more urban states with wildly different lifestyles and incomes. She mentions very briefly the divide of the deep South farm girls and the New York city girls, but not very comprehensively. And she focuses so much on urban working women and university women (the later an especially tiny minority) without acknowledging wide differences to or their relative significance to the broader picture.

    Light Fiction

    Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout. I’m not crazy about these, so many ethical issues.

    Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout. I decided to try one more, but no.

    The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer. I’d read two Heyer’s before, but while I enjoyed parts, they seemed to drag (also, both were apparently her Georgian novels, this one is Regency, more on that below). I started Regency Buck but couldn’t get into it, and I meant to try again later (I still do, but now our library doesn’t have it anymore). However, this one starts fast and is almost constantly hilarious. My love was dampened by the death and the poor taste response to it though. I gave this four stars.

    The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. This also starts fast and is hilarious. It also seems deeper and better writing-wise than the above. I gave this four stars. This one is also Regency.

    The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. Hmm, I wanted to like this (there are some hilarious episodes), but Rule’s adultery. Pointless too, he didn’t care for the woman, he had no reason to be with her, and it’s especially awful that he is trying to woo his wife at. the. same. time. So many layers of NO. Also, as other reviewers pointed out, the heroine is blah. Which is too bad because she starts off so strong. The is Georgian, I could hardly bear the description of the ludicrous Georgian finery and silliness, and I know the period was decadent and immoral (the Regency and the Victorian periods were a reaction to it). One star for the adultery.

    These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer. This is puke. Ugh. The age difference bothered me more here. Heightened by the constant epithet of “mon infant” and her servile, worshipful, constant “Monseigneur”-ing plus her overall worshipful attitude towards His Abominableness. More of the same Georgian decadence and shallowness. If I could give this less than one star and have it mean something, I would. Except heightened especially with being in France. I decided to take a Heyer break for a few weeks after this one.

    Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. Interesting and fairly unique (to me) fantasy. I disliked the silly, shallow heroine though.

    Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright. Cute middle-grade story. Feels like The Boxcar Children.

    Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. The residents of an island slowly lose their legal ability to speak. This is funny, although I feel like I probably missed a lot of the jokes.

    The White Stag by Kate Seredy. Um, no, I don’t want a stupid, contrived (felt very copy paste as did the illustrations which were an odd mix of old West, Greco-Roman, and who knows what else), fantasy story about an extremely violent historical person.

    The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartín Fenollera. Interesting conception in parts, annoyingly stock Darcy/Knightly/Rochester trope. Silly heroine who doesn’t have any believable or developed change, much less awakening. Unexpectedly Christian.