• 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

    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.

  • Reading

    What I Read December 2018

    Nonfiction
    The Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas by Ace Collins. I really, really enjoyed this at first. I didn’t appreciate the lack of sources, and I noticed he embellished his stories and spoke too firmly of things that maybe weren’t so factually provable, but I didn’t really pause until I came to the story of the 12 Days of Christmas. That song included an extremely far-fetched story about it being code for Catholic doctrines (besides the connection stretch the doctrines weren’t specifically Catholic, and Latin rather than English was significant in Catholic teaching at that period). I looked it up, its essentially an urban myth. So of course that gives me pause about the whole book. I know there is a more updated edition, perhaps this story (and other issues if any) are corrected in that. I still want to read his other books about Christmas, I just think I might be doing my own confirmation research

    Light Fiction
    15 books by Diana Wynne Jones. Howl’s Moving Castle at 4 stars is the highest rating I’ve given her books, I think. She has a lot of boring ones plus I find a lot of problematic elements in her works (dwimmer magic in Crestomanci gave me a twinge for example with the dead animals). I did put one book down (The Time of the the Ghost) which I definitely advise against (twisted, violent, occult, savage, old pagan), although I skimmed it (I need to stop that, not exactly consistent). My standards slipped I think both with morality and with quality because I wanted easy, and I wanted to finish my challenge.

    1. The Lives of Christopher Chant. Not my favorite Crestomanci; his and Millie’s backstory is fun though.
    2. The Islands of Chaldea. Her family should have left this unfinished.
    3. Dark Lord of Derkholm. Fun enough, tons of moral issues though.
    4. Year of the Griffin. Fun enough.
    5. Witch Week. Fun enough.
    6. A Tale Of Time City. Interesting.
    7. The Magicians of Caprona. Cute.
    8. Witch’s Business. Cute.
    9. The Ogre Downstairs. Funny a bit heartwarming at the end.
    10. Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories. Some good, some disturbing, some boring.
    11. Enchanted Glass. Interesting, totally repulsive “twist” at the end though, to me.
    12. The Homeward Bounders. I gave it a three, but drawing a blank about my impressions and the details.
    13. The Game. Boring.
    14. Earwig and the Witch. Bleh.
    15. Wild Robert. Funny.

    Illustrated Books (oh, I know, scoff)
    Dorothy Kunhardt’s Kitty’s New Doll. A Golden book childhood favorite my sister received for Christmas. This one has the original illustrations (far more charming that the current ones, I need to get my own copy, why do publishers do this, if you want new, keep the old and have both!).
    The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Marla Frazee. A childhood favorite that I received for Christmas.
    Thumbelina by Hans Christian Anderson, illustrated by Adrienne Adams. Received for Christmas; I grew up on the movie, but I don’t think I’d read the original story.
    Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter. Part of my Christmas season reading.

    Rereads
    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

    Knife (Spell Hunter), Rebel (Wayfarer), Arrow, Swift, and Nomad by R.J. Anderson. I love these painfully, just read them.

  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas Wrap Up

    I’m posting my wrap-up for A Literary Christmas, late of course, but I was only participating loosely since that tends to work best for me. Any reviews will be in November and December books read posts. Now, I need to peruse everyone’s links to find ideas for next Christmas.

    Juvenile Fiction
    The Holly and the Ivy Rumer Godden
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story Lemony Snicket
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Cynthia Rylant
    The Christmas Day Kitten James Herriot
    The Lump of Coal Lemony Snicket
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson

    The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter. I added this.

    Grown-Up Fiction
    Christmas At Fairacre Miss Read. I guess I’ll try this next year.

    Christmas History
    Christmas In Williamsurg: 300 Years of Family Traditions K. M. Kostyal
    Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas Ace Collins. I loved this at first but had my confidence in his veracity shaken by one of the stories (see my review); however, I think that if the updated version has corrections, I want to buy it and the second one as well as his book of stories (which Sarah of Lilacs and Springtime mentioned, and which I then requested from the library, but it looks like it might have been lost or taken off the shelves since my request), and maybe read a story a day for a Christmas countdown next year.
    Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, And Rituals at The Origins of Yuletide Christian Rätsch. Yeah, um this was disturbing. Also, not quite honest. Seemed to not merely be a factual story but a promotion of ancient paganism and drug use. Also, you can’t separate the pagan aspects out from Christian aspects so easily. Christmas is more like spaghetti historically, and you won’t get an honest picture unless you look at all the parts with some organization, something these authors weren’t doing. I put down.
    Christmas Customs and Traditions, Their History and Significance by Clement A Miles. I added this but only got through a few chapters as it was written in 1912 and is a bit more scholarly than easy. I do want to get it again, but I think I will start over and read more carefully and take notes.

    Christmas Baking
    Scandikitchen Christmas: Recipes and Traditions from Scandinavia Brontë Aurell
    Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Luisa Weiss
    Festive Baking: Holiday Classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian Traditions Sarah Kelly Iaia

    I didn’t make anything this year except what Mom had already decided on. Maybe I’ll have more motivation next year. I own the last book already, but I’d like the other German baking book as well if not also the Scandinavian one.

  • Reading

    What I Read: November

    I determined to try and meet my 140 book goal despite my laziness previously. It helps that I got a lot of children’s illustrated Christmas books, lol. Obviously, that is not my ideal reading. I think they are excellent for relaxation from stress, but I’m not sure I would want to count them normally. Anyway, I read 21 books in November.

    Children’s Christmas Books

    The Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot. I love James Herriot, but this is a tear-jerker, and probably too sad for the intended age (we’re a leetle, read “a lot,” sensitive about animals in this family).
    Christmas in Williamsburg: 300 Years of Family Traditions by Karen Kostyal. I was just not impressed by this, it seemed rather incoherent (although I was a bit out of it when I read it).
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant. I got this because I remembered the silver packages from my childhood (which featured a lot of Cynthia Rylant books, my mom didn’t remember this one).
    The Lump of Coal by Lemony Snicket. Boring and unfunny.
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story by Lemony Snicket. Adorable illustrations and concept, too bad about the tone.
    A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas. What on earth?
    Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco. My childhood featured several Patricia Polacco books, but I didn’t remember this one although my mom did. This one is bittersweet, featuring a couple separated during the Holocaust and reunited in old age, so caution for the sensitive.

    Light Fiction

    The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Um, so I don’t get the craze about this although it was funny (I’m NOT a sci-fi person, so I probably missed a lot of the poking fun).

    Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead. Um, quite a massive drop in quality from his Pendragon Cycle, and, I felt, in morality. I finished this one and started Scarlet which I eventually quit as it got worse. Bran’s no hero. Quite zero sum in a way that especially bothered me. Some very perverse, grotesque slaughters of animals and scare tactics (including horses, is this just an American thing to put horses on a higher plane? I guess I assumed it was British too, but maybe not for the time period, but its fantasy historical fiction). Unprovoked killing of men by “good” guys.

    Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci. The first two of these I enjoyed far more than I think Charmed Life, they are delightfully funny and charming (precious Cat in the second one). The third is eh, the fourth a bit better (some funny shots at Greek gods).

    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. I remember this from childhood, and my scandalized feelings about the Herdmans (clearly, I was a bit Alice-like). We even watched a play version. I read this hilarious and heartwarming books very quickly in one day, and since I’ve discovered it was a series, I think I’d like to try more (since I need tons of light stuff to get through more serious reading).

    The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones. This was such fun, except toward the end, I was hoping for something more upbeat, I’d preferred the Pinhoes to be more wholly good. Also, the power Chrestomanci has over his fellow magic people bothers me. There shouldn’t be one person with unilateral decision-making capacities. Particularly a person with magical abilities. I like Chrestomanci (Chrisopher Chant) himself, overall (athough I’d like him better if he felt he shouldn’t have that much power), but I don’t like the Chrestomanci position.

    A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich. Historical fiction, I was wondering how accurate this portrayal was, but it was written in the 1920’s, so she probably had access to people who were alive at the times about which she was writing, but still. I was rather annoyed by about every characters, but I did find the book interesting for a “light” read.

    Literary Fiction

    All Creatures Great and Small and All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot. I’d skimmed some of these stories as a child, but I didn’t remember anything to inspire me to pick them up quickly though I’d been meaning to do so. My mom borrowed a bunch of his works from the library, and when I worked a tedious job, I decided to get Playaways and got this one (narrated by Christopher Timothy). I was hooked right off. Little me clearly didn’t understand/appreciate British humor. I decided I wanted to try to read the second and quickly realized, no, I must listen, so I borrowed the second audio version. These are gems. The humor, the detail, the learning, the homeyness, the characters plus the narrator-actor’s brilliant reading and accents bring it quite alive. If blood and guts grosses you out, this isn’t for you. An be wary animal-lovers, there are some hard stories. I almost thought I couldn’t make it through a few.

    So Big by Edna Ferber. When I read A Lantern in Her Hand, I was reminded of this. So many of the same irritations. Rather depressing and yet at the same time rather fanciful. I know Ferber would’ve or could’ve known people like this, but it still had the sort of “poor hardworking hopeless people” attitude that someone who isn’t in that sphere uses. I definitely prefer Berry’s outlook toward farming even as I realize he usually has more more recent, more potentially prosperous (in soil and access geographically to other things) settings, and even as fanciful I think his outlook can be; he gives dignity not despair and pointlessness.

    Merlin by Stephen R. Lawhead. I enjoyed this one more than Taliesin. The feel is strikingly different. It’s also darker. I’ve thought a lot about bad content and tone toward content, but I guess didn’t think about emotions. I’m on Arthur now and started thinking about all the palpable hate. There are few acts of violence described, but not usually too graphically, and they fit with the historical (Saxon invasions) setting. The main characters are usually distinctly “good” characters in this series, but they are surrounded by so much hatred. It’s chilling and depressing, especially since the author is writing fantasy historical fiction. Much of what he writes rings similar to Sutcliff books, except darker; he’s done his research. Just bear all this in mind as it can be emotionally daunting or depressing. Thus far, I think it is definitely worth a read.

    Popular Nonfiction

    Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg Mckeown. I don’t agree with his philosophy, but I do think there are things I could learn, so I might re-read.

    Accounting 101: From Calculating Revenues and Profits to Determining Assets and Liabilities, an Essential Guide to Accounting Basics by Michele Cagan. I’m planning on taking the accounting CLEP, so this was for that. It was written for prospective entrepreneurs and written to people who don’t know much about business, so I’m not sure how helpful it was for me. The writing seemed a bit, informal?

    Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson. A lot of this I’d heard before, but it puts ALL the aspects of sleep together along with tons of science plus stuff I’d not heard plus tips. All very organized (unlike the above sentence). I want to buy this.

    Scholarly Nonfiction

    Infectious Disease: A Very Short Introduction by Marta L. Wayne and Benjamin M. Bolker. I’m rather a germaphobe, so I like to know. Actually, I find epidemiology fascinating and it’s on my list of prospective majors (for when I’m rich and can just keep going to school for everything I find interesting). This had some very interesting information on the mathematics and statistics involved in tracking disease which is something I’d never heard or thought of, rather beyond me now, but definitely interesting. I’m interested in reading as many of these Very Short Introductions as I can (at least the more concrete ones, I’m not sure I could take the more abstract ones, like Consciousness and the like, I’ve little patience for that, but we’ll see how I like them), and have a whole batch to borrow next from the library.

     

  • Reading

    What I’ve Read: October 2018

    Light Fiction

    The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup. Children’s illustrated book by Rosemary Sutcliff. Cute story, but I thought the illustrations lacking.

    The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. Cute but definitely trying to hard to be whimsical.

    Simon. A Rosemary Sutcliff novel set in Civil War England. I enjoyed it, but I definitely prefer her more ancient settings (and those tend to be better written). This made me curious about the division of England, how and why? As far as I know my family was from the very far north. Puritanism was strongest in the lower east. But how much did actual Puritanism play as opposed to just plain anti-Catholic sentiment (and wasn’t the North more Catholic for a time or was that just more ancient? It wasn’t Catholics who emigrated in the particular wave from which I hail) or just plain anti-Charles I sentiment?

    Literary Fiction

    Frankenstein. I posted my review previously.

    Taliesin. Quite unique in conception I think, I of course, LOVED the Roman-Celtic Britain setting.

    An Episode of Sparrows. I got confused and posted about this for September, but I read it in October.

    Nonfiction

    A book on a county in my state.

     

     

  • Reading

    A Literary Christmas 2018

    I’m linking up here for A Literary Christmas again.

    I actually planned and researched better this time (I have a list for holiday books to choose from now), and below is my Christmas reading list; I’ve  ordered these already (because previous years I didn’t think, that you know, other people might have requested books near Christmas), and I should be able to put off reading them until December (or at least until after Thanksgiving) to read.

    I’ve used up my interlibrary loans for this month, but I think I might try to order some Christmas ones in December, we shall see.

    Most Christmas books I seemed to see are either kids books (I’ve included a few from my childhood), Hallmark style (I’ll stick to the movies), moralizing (no thanks), or Christmas histories. So most of my choices are kids books and histories of Christmas traditions, carols, etc.

    I’ve also included the Christmas baking books from the library I want to peruse along with the one I own for some Christmas goodies.

    Juvenile Fictions
    The Holly and the Ivy Rumer Godden
    The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming: A Christmas Story Lemony Snicket
    Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story Cynthia Rylant
    The Christmas Day Kitten James Herriot
    The Lump of Coal Lemony Snicket
    The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Barbara Robinson

    Grown-Up Fiction
    Christmas At Fairacre Miss Read

    Christmas History
    Christmas In Williamsurg: 300 Years of Family Traditions K. M. Kostyal
    Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas Ace Collins (I didn’t get to finish this previously)
    Pagan Christmas: The Plants, Spirits, And Rituals at The Origins of Yuletide Christian Rätsch

    Christmas Baking
    Scandikitchen Christmas: Recipes and Traditions from Scandinavia Brontë Aurell
    Classic German Baking: The Very Best Recipes for Traditional Favorites, from Pfeffernüsse to Streuselkuchen Luisa Weiss
    Festive Baking: Holiday Classics in the Swiss, German, and Austrian Traditions Sarah Kelly Iaia

  • Reading

    Review of Frankenstein

    I read Frankenstein this month for The Classics Club October Dare. I’m a procrastinator, so I’m really lucky that I have a review done at all; I’m actually proud of myself since I did think ahead, takes notes, and make an outline. I just didn’t leave myself enough time for a couple drafts. And I have more words on this book/the background than the close to 1,000 below.

    I’d never really wanted to read Frankenstein; I am not drawn to horror which is what I thought this book was. I procrastinated to start it, and then quickly realized that the book is incredibly dull, predictable rather than suspenseful and frightening. Then I procrastinated because of the tedious verbosity and dull, slow (because of said verbosity) plot. This book requires far too great a suspension of disbelief and not for creativity but for plot holes and devices. I knew some of the circumstances of the writing, written by a teenager during a sort of dare (although undergoing revisions, possibly with her eventually husband’s help). But because it was a classic I was expecting a solid story and prose vs obviously written in Romantic vein by uncontrolled, undisciplined teenager! I think it is famous for the barest plot concept that more recent portrayals have developed and that readers then insert into the story.

    This book features absolutely atrocious prose. I was gagging over the stock Romantic language and expression; the flowery verbosity and excessive, sanctimonious and fawning emotionalism and sentimentality. The author is tedious and repetitiveness with details that take away from the story rather than add to it. These fountains of extraneous detail fill in most of the story which would have little substance else because concepts pertinent to the plot are vague and general. And I didn’t find a hint of irony in all this language either.

    In amidst all this fluff, some scatter trails of a plot float. With much unrelated verbosity we are get the story from various narrators in a general and literal way (and Frankenstein continually drops spoilers). Everything has told us by the author via her narrators rather than displayed via art; she gives no detail (regarding the actual plot), not from mystery, but from ignorance and lack of creativity. In addition to having a spare plot delivered literally, the plot has so many devices, holes, and implausible points. Shelley exhibits total unawareness of any other class than her own (and any other point of view than her coterie) and this leads to so many of the issues.

    Let’s start with Victor Frankenstein, who by the by is no doctor but a pedantic, spoiled, sheltered, young fool. Because of these things, I don’t see how he had: 1) the ability to pursue this creation; he very obviously isn’t the brightest, 2) the interest/passion to pursue such a thing (so little reason had he that I assumed his friend would die and he would revive him, nope, he is just playing around, and he didn’t seem to have passion for anything except whining and protestations, 3) the stomach for such a task; he was such a hypochondriac and always talking about his delicate sensibilities, and 4) the will for such a task; he is indecisive, passive, and lazy elsewhere in the story, dragging his feet at every turn.

    Now onto his implausibly created monster. He isn’t described and since the author doesn’t forget any other descriptions (however poor they are and however little they apply to the story), this doesn’t come across as mysterious but rather a lack of creativity. Everything about Frankenstein’s creation is implausible; he has a fully developed mind with the elasticity of a child’s brain with the thought processes of adults. His mind is full of Romantic sensibilities which he quickly taps into thanks to the improbably (and highly Romantic) circumstances of finding himself by educated people who coincidentally aid his learning. All of this is too convenient. He could have had the soul of a demon or another dead person or the mind of the person whose brain Frankenstein gave him. He could have truly come from nothing, truly a blank slate in which case he would have had the mind of an infant or an animal.

    In the same vein, a double-minded author doesn’t equal a truly conflicted villain; that requires insight and talent. He comes across as a psychopath; only when he gets what he wants does he act anything like appropriately, his manipulations and revenge, his complaints and reviling, his vicious triple murders (two of which were in cold-blood, the other a child murder) of innocent people to wreak personal revenge all point to psychopathy. His rage isn’t the bewildered, blind lashing out of the abused and abandoned by humanity (that is also implausible, no one gives him any aid at all?), it is very specific, clever revenge. He goes from zero to one hundred in this quite fast. Of course, there are inconsistencies here, sometimes he does rage against humanity (from his tiny experience).

    Overall the moral issues are grossly and falsely simplistic expressions of false choice moral “dilemmas”—more from inconsistent plot and lazy thinking, ignorant/irresponsible idle upper-class perspectives than from any understanding of the complexities of human nature and circumstances. All sorts of misunderstandings of duty and virtue. Virtue doesn’t turn to evil; doing good in good times doesn’t make one virtuous; the monster wasn’t ever virtuous, nor did he try. As to the idea that Frankenstein is the villain, I don’t think the story has the depth and irony; I don’t see any irony at all in Victor Frankenstein’s portrayal; I don’t think Romantics understood or appreciated in since they enacted in their own lives as well as in their stories such drama that is ludicrously ripe for satire). I think we can get deep discussion out of the plot and morals (or lack thereof) in the book, but that fact doesn’t make the novel itself deep.

    After reading, I immediately had to look and see what other reviewers thought on Goodreads. This review expresses my opinions (and I’m sure others) in a hysterical way.

  • Reading

    What I Read: September 2018

    I feel like I have a habit of slacking off and then reading a ton  . . . and then not keeping a good pace. I read 15 books this September. As of this writing, I’m 25 books behind my goal.

    Rereads (3)

    Magic for MarigoldPat of Silverbush, and Mistress Pat by L.M. Montgomery. Nothing like an L.M. Montgomery book for a soothing and beautiful read.

    Light Fiction (6)

    Murder is Easy, Towards Zero, Destination UnknownThe Secret of ChimneysThe Seven Dials Mystery, and Sparkling Cyanide. I needed some more easy reads, but of course I needed to save some of Agatha Christie, and I usually get a little freaked out after awhile.

    Literary Fiction (1)

    An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden. The beginning was slow, the middle beautiful, the ending rather slapdash and ludicrous and also made the beginning look silly too. I’ll still read more of Godden though for that middle goodness.

    Serious Nonfiction (2)

    Death by Living: Life is Meant to Be Spent by N.D. Wilson. I love his voice and his prose and his insight even if I’m estranged from his message.

    The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. I think this straddles the below category because while the subject is serious, I think the treatment is deceptive it is “depth.” And I’ll leave it at that.

    Popular Nonfiction (3)

    Book Girl: A Journey Through the Treasures and Transforming Power of a Reading Life by Sarah Clarkson. I think this straddles the serious category because it is far deeper than the similar book below. So much in here struck a cord with me. I’ve experienced Sarah’s deep writing on her blog and her sister’s writing on her blog. I was sure enough on the depth of this book that I preordered it (I mean she promised extra reading lists and such for preorders too); I’m so glad I treated myself. This is something I will be going back to again and again. I had hardly started in before I was bursting into my sisters room raving about Sarah’s discussion of discernment (an opportune irony moment, my sister had a peculiar smile/smirk and when questioned, revealed the cover of the book she was reading, one of the Twilight books, ha, I’ve read them too, at I think the same age). I’ve since lent the book to another sister. This is just the deep discussion of humanities and taste of which I’ve felt a lack.

    I’ve already picked up one of her recommendations (one I’d heard of but wasn’t at our library, so I hadn’t pursued strongly). I’d read many recommendations, but she had plenty more, including some I’d heard of and thought I should try to pursue more seriously (most of the times I add books to my massive library TBR list and then randomly order them and possibly try them).  I since noticed that Joy, her sister, has started a podcast, so I’ve listened to a few of those, including one with her brother about heroes (go listen!). That family clearly knows how to discuss deeply. I know my mom had their mother’s books that I skimmed growing up, but I since I skimmed those ages back probably sort of pushed them all (unjustly) too close to those other Christian Mom type books (which can be really fluffy), but now I want to know pursue more of her work with her children.

    Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa Van Edwards. This was interesting book on interpersonal skills, more in my language than Crucial Conversations. Probably a book I need to own and reread.

    I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life Popular Nonfiction by Anne Bogel. This is superficial; this is from that group of readers who I just can’t relate to even if I technically agree with some of the words and opinions expressed, there is no real Kindred Spirit. I read it for contrast and to have quick read (cheap, I know) with Book Girl (publishers seem to have a theme going, I have my sights on another book in this category, probably more in the Book Girl league).

     

  • Reading

    What I Read and Watched August

    Scrolling through my Goodreads, looking at August books, why does the beginning of August feel so long ago (oh, because it’s close to October now).

    August was NOT a good reading month.

    I only re-read items. Books 3-7 of HP at the beginning of the month and Jane of Lantern Hill towards the middle.

    I’m thinking I watched a lot of YouTube like I did this month. I miss good blogs. I started a month of Netflix in August too. VERY disappointing. I’m not sure what things I watched in August and what I watched in September. I think August was mostly “Friends” and rewatching “Parks and Recreation.”

  • Reading

    What I Read: June

    I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit.

    When one adds Agathe Christie to the months reading numbers, one looks like a prodigious reader. Of the 10 books I read last month, 6 were Agatha Christie’s. I’ve already read 10 books this month (again, thanks mainly to Agatha Christie novels).

    The Secret Adversary (Tommy and Tuppence #1), The Thirteen Problems (Miss Marple, #2), The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (Miss Marple, #9), The Pale Horse, A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple #7), and Crooked House. These are just page-turners and most didn’t stand out much except the Crooked House which was the best mystery I think, but I almost cried at the end. The rest aren’t her most interesting.

    Switzerland by Lura Rogers Seavey. This is a children’s Enchantment of the World series book. I think kids’ books are great for quick overviews of subjects, particularly for subjects I know very little about. I thought this was a solid source of beginning information on countries, and I plan on reading more of this series.

    Outlaws of Time #3: The Last of the Lost Boys by N.D. Wilson. I’ve been less satisfied with most of his more recent writing, I feel like his unique voice is being drowned out or diluted. This novel was fast and forgettable and rather pointless I thought. This series is my least favorite.

    Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons by Shirley Jackson. I found parts of these books quite funny, but I think put together they were a bit repetitive, mundane, and tedious; the adults came across as spiteful (that ballgame section, ouch) and whiny especially since I was comparing my grandparents (who all were children in the 40’s like Jackson’s children) and their families’ to Jackson’s; I suppose the Northeast was quite a bit wealthier and more modern (e.g. my grandparents didn’t always have plumbing as children, I’d have to ask about a telephone, and I know my grandmother recently mentioned an aunt as having more money as the one with the camera) at that time period if this family was “tight” on money. Regional and historical differences like that are quite intriguing.