• Reading

    What I Read: March 2021

    My Goals
    • Start to transition to reading primarily on Kindle and return back all my library book. Yes, I’m enjoying it! I do love pretty book covers, I’m not sure I’m going to give all mine up or even stop buying them, although for the present I am. But this is SO convenient.
    • Update my reading Excel list. I’ve not kept up on this very well. Too much work, I’m not sure I will.
    • Reevaluate Storygraph. I’ve not used either of these things. I need to look at Story Graph closer to see what stats it provides, I want something quick like Goodreads, but I want more reliable stats.
    • March TBR
      • Read The Pomeranian Handbook
      • Finish Factfulness. This is a book borrowed from my Dad, probably should finish before I move out.
      • Finish How to Raise a Perfect Puppy. No, and I’m not 100% sure I will, too much information I feel.
      • Finish The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel
      • Continue to participate in the Sense and Sensibility Read Along, which is so much fun, and I need to participate in more read-alongs, I should seek out ones for books I have on my TBR. I love this, I’ve missed more structured book discussions. Once we are done I’m going to rewatch the movies and Elinor and Marianne Take Barton.
      • Continue to participate in the Villette Read Along. I’m really enjoying this, definitely prefer the lesser known Brontë works. Definitely enjoying it, I’m getting to all of the M. Paul Emmanuel scenes that are gems of wit.
      • Get caught up on The Silent Bells serial
    Other Reading

    Thanks to my kindle I read 8 Georgette Heyer novels. 5 stars doesn’t give enough nuance. I have a lot of 3’s of these on Goodreads, but I think that they rank more like 4 to 6 or 4.5 to 7 which is quite a difference. I’ve put them here in order of liking as best I can remember or judge.

    • Sylvester, Devil’s Cub
    • The Reluctant Widow, Regency Buck
    • The Foundling
    • The Masqueraders
    • Powder and Patch
    • Cousin Kate

    I finished the pomeranian book (different than above) that I’d started. And I also read Greensleeves by Eloise Jarvis McGraw which I greatly enjoyed until it (and the heroine) took a nosedive at the end attempting to be all deep, realistic, psychological or whatever and being instead completely flakey and fickle. Ugh. Ugh. UGH.

  • Reading

    What I Read: January 2021

    I reread the first four Harry Potter books, reading my sister’s illustrated copies. I’m going to wait to purchase my own set once they’ve all come out. These editions are amazing. They definitely give you a strong sense of place and atmosphere.

    I read The Shadow of the Wind. This did NOT give me a strong sense of place in the way I wanted. It was very atmospheric though. I won’t be continuing with the series. The writing is excellent comparably, but I just can’t justify the content, in every sensitive area it felt gratuitous.

    I’ve decided that I needed to finish at least one book for every Harry Potter book I read. I think perhaps, I need to do that with any rereads, and maybe bump it up to 2 or 3 books for every reread. Maybe once I get my hands on more new relaxing reads (which may have to be once I get a Kindle), I can increase that.

  • Reading

    What I Read: October 2020

    I read a whopping 3 books and two of those were rereads.

    An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott. I just was not feeling the fiction I had from the library, and I really wanted a comfort read.

    Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers. I dragged out this one since August. Not sure I was in the right frame of mind.

    Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell. Not sure how to process this. The first story, didn’t make sense with the title, but the next explanation of his process and the next story, I started to think, “Ok, this is about how we don’t read people nearly as well as we thought.”

    Eventually the stories started being about his analysis of the stories and what went wrong but wasn’t really tied to his point, and these stories were trigger warning crime scandals we’ve all heard of, so basically horrid events that I could see less and less a connection with his alleged thesis. And I don’t see how the suicide and coupling one had even the reading people aspect of it at.

    Then I wasn’t so convinced of his alleged point, what even he meant By the end, I was wondering “What is this about, where is the point?” and feeling nasty for those stories. By the end of the book I’d forgotten the alleged thesis, it was so off track. He had a small section trying to tie his disparate side thesis or rather other peoples theses he had been exploring to the reading people bit, but it all felt random and nothing was really explained. So allegedly we misread people and don’t realize it, have a nice life. There was absolutely no hope or help besides the not really having a point most of the time

    I had some perspectives/stats/theories (the drinking and suicide and coupling) that were interesting and good to learn, but know I don’t think I am convinced of all those (for this nondrinker the blackout stuff was enlightening), and again, those were side theories not the alleged main point of the book. I would not recommend. I think someone so high in esteem should write more responsibly about serious subjects. I was interested in reading more of his work, now I’m not going to.

     

  • Reading

    What I Read: September 2020

    I’ve gotten my reading motivation back thanks to going through Fairytale Central’s retellings lists, reading two fairytale retellings by Liz Brazwell (found on those lists), the Dune trailer motivating me to pick up Dune (it has been on my list for awhile then some of my siblings read it, but I’ve got to see that movie, so now I’m starting it), the new season, and I think the push to finish The Idiot. Edit, no I haven’t, I’ve just moved on to new books to borrow, better get with it!

    The Last Battle. I finally finished rereading Narnia 9-10 months after I started. I think the next go round, I might not reread them all, and end at Prince Caspian. The Magician’s Nephew might get skipped as well.

    Part of Your World by Liz Brazwell. I enjoyed this one more than As Old as Time. And I don’t really care for Little Mermaid much, but this was quite fun and interesting.

    Everything That Remains. I love their podcast, love, LOVE their secret podcast, but this book is not great (I thought it would be about both of them and be better written), and I’ve heard a lot of their points, it is a good reminder though, it did help with my motivation to really go through things. I am however, going to read their newest book when it comes out because I’m sure (I hope) the writing has improved. I’ve been listening to their most recent podcast episodes which led me to this book which is indie published and years old.

    And then I finished the audiobook of Every Living Thing by James Herriot. This is the last of the 5 American collections, I think they were published differently (not merely the title but the division of the stories) in England.

    I fell behind on The Idiot, then started to speed up my reading, but ultimately decide that I didn’t want to push to finish it for the Classics Club spin, I think the spin did what it should, got me to read, but I think I’ll take it slow, and read small amounts. Edit, well, I haven’t picked it up since this draft, but surely I will, I’m 38% percent done.

  • Reading

    What I Read August 2020

    These High, Green Hills and Out to Canaan by Jan Karon (books 3 and 4 of Mitford). I had decided that I would read Mitford every once in a while and now seemed like a good time for a nice cozy read. Then I thought I’d read them straight through, but since I’ve stuck in book 5, and I’m starting to get my reading interest back, I think, this current month, I think I’ll save the rest for another time.

    Rilla of Ingleside. This book starts out so well, it is so deep and atmospheric and the build up to and after effects of the tragedy are excellent and then everything else seems incidental.

    As Old As Time by Liz Brazwell. I’ve been in the mood for fairytale retellings and this part of a series that takes Disney’s retellings and retells them. I greatly enjoyed it. The prose was decent to be easy to read and it was fast paced. It was very dark, much darker than the usual Beauty and the Beast, not kid or sensitive teen appropriate.

  • Reading

    What I’ve Read: May and June 2020

    I read 23 items in these two months, 6 of those were short fairy tale retellings and 2 plays. Only 7 were new-to-me reads.

    These were:

    Coriolanus. There is a reason why this one is less famous. More on that in a later post.

    Hamlet. I’ve already review this for the Classics Club here.

    Charity Girl by Georgette Heyer. This was fun (and NOT the rake and young dope version, young rake and his childhood bff). I’m exhausting the treasury of historical Heyer novels. One was so boring and unsatisfactory I opted not to finish.

    Restless Empire: A Historical Atlas of Russia by Ian Barnes. Highly recommend, extremely fascinating. This was supposed to go along with my reading of War and Peace, but said reading has been nonexistence.

    Listening Valley by D.E. Stevenson. Sweet and a nice happy read. I think that is what another blogger wrote which is why i got it.

    Framed! by James Ponti. A darling middle grade fiction mystery. I need to look up to see if there are more. This is a very fast read.

    Penhallow. So I thought I’d try a Heyer mystery. Yeah, so besides not actually being a mystery to the reader and an unsolved one for the characters, it features unarguably a patriarchal, narcissistic, god-awful horror of a man and his piggish progeny. It could have been set in a older time, the vague mention of cars clued me in to it being contemporary to Heyer. The manor house with the men who impregnate village women (over generations, so what an incestuous mess that probably was) and who are basically moneyed Neanderthals. All of these criticisms have lost their weight because over and misuse have diluted their meaning. But as I rarely use them please understand that I mean them fully.

    Yeah, most characters were awful, often inconsistent. The one character I leaned towards has a horrible end, kind of gave me nightmares because of the overall ick and the despair and the non-ending, ending. I rated it one star, the reason I have so few one stars is that I view books that derisive that rating as books that should not be read, so I don’t finish them and therefore don’t rate them. This is one I should not have finished I felt guilty reading it. It was muck with no literary merit. It was interesting in a grotesque way, but I was disgusted that I’d allowed myself to read this completely through.

    Rereads:
    The Fairy’s Return, For Biddle’s Sake, Cinderellis and the Glass Hill, Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep, The Princess Test, The Fairy’s Mistake. All the princess tales by Gale Carson Levine. Again, lovely quick escapist relaxing reads.
    I started the Grandma’s attic novels in April and read most of them in May. So that is 7 right there.

    The Silver Chair. I stuck fast on this one for a while. Bear in mind that Narnia was supposed to be my Christmas treat, but I dragged on many of them. I’m currently stuck fast in The Last Battle.

    Gaudy Night and Murder Must Advertise. Two of the best Wimsey nove.. I think next time I’ll skip a few and reread only the best. I’m saving the final novel to finish on my birthday.

  • 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

    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

    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?!

  • 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 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

    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.