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Search tags: 19th-century
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review 2018-01-08 17:54
The Oregon Trail: An American Journey
The Oregon Trail: An American Journey - Rinker Buck

This is Rinker Buck's account of how he and his younger brother, Nick, (and Nick's dog, Olive Oyl) traveled the Oregon Trail, from Missouri to Oregon, by covered wagon and mules, in 2011.  It hadn't been done since 1909.

 

 

Buck seems to have been inspired by a combination of a deep melancholy and a desire to recreate the best summer of his childhood, when his father loaded up all his children (he would eventually have eleven) onto a covered wagon and toured New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Their trip even made the pages of Look magazine as "Covered Wagon Days - 1958."  His father hung a sign, reused in 2011, apologizing for the inconvenience, but they wanted their children to "SEE AMERICA SLOWLY."

 

 

Rinker was lucky that his brother Nick came along, as Nick is both an expert horseman and apparently can fix anything, both skills much needed on this journey.

 

Also included are historical accounts of the pioneers and the origins of the Oregon Trail, from George Washington to Brigham Young, and a map, which is not quite as useful as one would hope.  Many places are mentioned that aren't marked.

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review 2017-12-31 12:36
Wooden Cut Outs with an Agenda.
The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell

 Now and again I like a good bit of creep but it is so hard to find, the more books you read, the less creepy they are but his story had atmosphere. This is your typical gothic horror novel that has been done to death over the years - it has supernatural elements, a grieving widow, a crumbling mansion, hereditary insanity, villagers that won't go near the big house and a mysterious 200 year old diary written by a witch in the mid 17th century. What puts it above the others for me are the 'Silent Companions' themselves. They remind me strongly of the weeping angels in Doctor Who - take your eyes off them for a minute and you're a gonner.

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review 2017-12-30 23:19
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 16 - New Year’s Eve / St. Sylvester’s Day: Prophetic Bells
The Chimes: A Goblin Story of Some Bells that Rang an Old Year Out and a New Year In - Charles Dickens,Richard Armitage

Well, well -- nothing like ringing in the New Year (albeit a day early) with Charles Dickens: What he did for Christmas in the story about the old miser Scrooge, he did again a year later for New Year's Eve with this story; which is, however, quite a bit darker than A Christmas Carol.  Once again, a man is swept away to see the future; this time, however, it's not a miserly rich man but a member of the working classes, a porter named Toby (nicknamed Trotty) Veck eeking out a living near a church whose migihty bells ring out the rhythm of his life -- as if Dickens had wanted to remind his audience that the moral of A Christmas Carol doesn't only apply to the rich but, indeed, to everyone.  Along the way, the high, mighty and greedy are duly pilloried -- in this, The Chimes is decidedly closer to Hard Times, Our Mutual Friend, A Tale of Two Cities, and Bleak House than it is to A Christmas Carol -- and there are more than a minor number of anxious moments to be had before we're reaching the story's conclusion (which, in turn, however, sweeps in like a cross breed of those of Oliver Twist and Oscar Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest).

 

Richard Armitage's reading is phantastic: at times, there are overtones of John Thornton from the TV adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, (or in fact, both John Thornton and Nicholas Higgins) which matches the spirit of the story very well, however, since workers' rights and exploitation are explicitly addressed here, too, even if this story is ostensibly set in London, not in Manchester.

 

In the context of the 16 Festive Tasks, The Chimes is an obvious choice for the New Year's Eve holiday book joker, so that it is going to be.

 

 

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review 2017-12-26 18:15
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 6 - Sinterklaas / St. Nicholas’s Day / Krampusnacht: Can you say angelic?
Little Lord Fauntleroy - Frances Hodgson Burnett,Johanna Ward
Little Lord Fauntleroy - Frances Hodgson Burnett

Youtube: 1980 TV adaptation trailer

 

Book themes for Sinterklaas / St. Nicholas’s Day / Krampusnacht: A story involving children or a young adult book.

 

I was introduced to this story by its 1980s TV adaptation starring Alec Guinness and Ricky Schroder, which was a runaway success in Germany when first broadcast on TV and has long since become a holiday tradition -- it just isn't Christmas without it.  I've long since read (and reread) the actual book, which I love almost as much as the movie adaptation ... I admit this is one where I actually prefer the movie, thanks in no small part to Sir Alec, though possibly also to some extent simply because it was the first version I experienced. -- That said, this year for a change I decided to listen to the audio version read by Johanna Ward, which I also enjoyed tremendously.

 

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text 2017-12-24 23:12
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol: Ignorance and Want

 

“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?”

“It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.”

From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment.

“Oh, Man! look here. Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost.

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched, and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread.
Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude.

“Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And bide the end!”

“Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge.

“Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?”

The bell struck twelve.

 

Ignorance and Want

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