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review 2016-04-28 17:22
Suffer the Little Children (The Chronicles of Christoval Alvarez Book 5) - Ann Swinfen

I have enjoyed all of this series—some books more than others, but every one has its own charms. This one was a particular pleasure. Kit is installed as an assistant physician at St. Thomas's Hospital, the second great facility caring for the poor in late 16th-century England, and in charge of the maternity ward. Abandoned, abused, and unwanted children are everywhere in this novel—the most compelling a group of young urchins who beg for food outside the playhouse where Kit's friend Simon makes his living as an actor. A young playwright named Will (with an unpronounceable last name—guess who?) has just joined the theater, and there are amusing references to his plays. But the central story line involves the approaching death of Sir Francis Walsingham, the potential threats to his secret service as a result, a kidnapped child, and, of course, a plot against the throne. It's all fast-paced and riveting and sets Kit up for the next journey, to Muscovy, which I loved even more.

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text 2016-03-10 11:30
Harry Potter - Chapter By chapter: Philospher's Stone - Chapter 1
Harry Potter Boxed Set (Harry Potter, #1-5) - J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1 - Pottermore from J.K. Rowling,J.K. Rowling,Jim Dale

As the page turns invited me to join in this in depth reread. I'm very excited because I've been wanting to do this for awhile. It's taken me a while to get this together but hopefully these will come out more regularly.


Chapter 1: The Boy Who Lived


I can remember picking up this book (though it was of course an US version) in the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year of High School. My Biology teacher knew how much I liked to read and couldn't believe I'd never read the Harry Potter series. She arrived at my doorstep four days after school let out with her box set of the first four books and said I was not to give them back to her until school started, when I had her for another class. Could anyone have said no to that? So I figured, I'd read them quick and at least answer truthfully I'd read them. See, I didn't buy into the hype.


In four days I'd read all of them. By the end of the week, I'd read them again. By the end of the summer, I'd read them four times apiece and could barely return them to her.


All of this was to explain to you what won me over: this chapter. I've long considered this to be one of the best introductory chapters I've ever read. Within only a few pages, we are moved from the mundane world we know (though it takes place in England, Rowlings keeps things very generic) to the threshold of a new and strange one. Do we get an info dump? No. Everything moves smoothly and we don't really understand much but we know enough. So that when chapter two opens with Harry completely in the dark, the reader is in the position to know that more is going on. For the rest of the series we learn about the world with Harry but for this moment, we know just a bit more.



Stuff I noticed and figured out:



  • Bonfire Night = Guy Fawlks night. Didn't know that before
  • Stopping here, I felt just a twinge of sympathy for the Dursleys. Now that's completely eroded by what they will do in the future. But with what we know now, you can't help but think about the ordered life and the curve ball sitting on their very step.
  • Does nobody question Dumbledore leaving a child (one that presumably can move around and get into mischief) on a doorstep? I mean really. Discounting that fact that he's a Headmaster and McGonagall's a teacher (which makes this worse IMO), this is a stupid idea and I don't care how old or powerful he is. Say something!
  • Of course, the motorbike is Sirius Black's, who we know is very connected with Harry.
  • Dumbledore doesn't fear Voldemort; Voldemort fears Dumbledore. = D doesn't fear death; V fears death. I'm not sure where I'm going with this but I just noticed this parallel this time around.



Spoilers for whole series



This is my first reread since the final book came out. And Dumbledore's insistence on saying You-Know-Who's name really bothered me. We had the idea hammered into our heads that fear of the name increases fear of the thing itself. And I completely agree. Especially when facing evil, you don't sugarcoat it and give it a pretty name. Call it what it is. Face it and conquer it. Letting that rule you is basically handing your freedom of speech over without even a whimper.


But with the last book, we learn that Voldemort knows when he's name is spoken and sends his Death Eaters to kill anyone who does so. First, I have to give him the applause due him, this is a great scare tactic.  But not everyone is as powerful as Dumbledore. While I still stand by what I said above and truly believe people in the Wizarding World should have said his name, you have to be smart about it. Aurors could have used this as a trap. That would have curtailed it quick. But for the average person...that's a choice they have to make. And when you're family is the one who will pay, I can't say what's the right answer. So many people have and are making this choice and it galls me a bit that he would ignore the issues the average wizard has to deal with.

(spoiler show)



On the reading front, I read my UK version (yes, I do own the first five in the UK version rather than the Scholastic - I don't like changing such hard to understand Britishisms as Moterbike and Sherbert Lemon) and then listened to the wonderful Jim Dale audiobook. Not only did it help me pick out the differences but how I read things versus how he did helped me rethink things.



Sorry if this is a bit rushed. I've had most of this disappear twice - when Booklikes went down and then when my computer decided to shut off for no reason - so I'm going to post it before anything else happens.


As the page turns post on Chapter One: here.

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text 2016-03-01 22:29
February's Books - 2016


I got some things I wanted done this month but towards the end, I kind of wandered off and started picking things up as I felt like it. I'm going to try and get through some specific books in March.


Read books:

Bess Crawford series: 1, 2, 3, 4, and Walnut Tree short story

Kamisama Kiss Vol 18

The Game Believes in You

Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe


Two free Great Courses lectures: Sherlock Holmes and Holiday Music

Bathroom Reader Audiobook

Modern Scholar: World War I

My Hero Academia Vol 1

Shaun the Sheep: The Beast of Soggy Moor


Started but not Completed:

The Science of Sherlock Holmes


Storm Kings

Murder by Candlelight


Books read for Audiobook Challenge: 8


Books cleared from TBR: 2


Modern Scholar: WWI

(when finished) Science of SH

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text 2016-02-04 15:40
2016 Audiobook Challenge - Let's try this again

You can sign up here.


Though I threw in the towel last year on all my challenges, I'm going to try at least this one again. I do love listening to audiobooks and I like keeping track of how many I read in a year. I think I'll go with Binge Listener this year and see where I go from there.


The rules etc. are below:


reading challenge details:

  • Runs January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2016. You can join at any time.
  • The goal is to find a new love for audios or to outdo yourself by listening to more audios in 2016 than you did in 2015.
  • Books must be in audio format (CD, MP3, etc.)
  • ANY genres count.
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed.
  • You do not have to be a book blogger to participate; you can track your progress on Goodreads, Shelfari, Booklikes, Facebook, LibraryThing, etc.
  • If you’re a blogger grab the button (on the sidebar) and do a quick post about the challenge to help spread the word. If you’re not a blogger you can help by posting on Facebook or Tweeting about the challenge.


  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30-50
  • Marathoner (Look Ma no hands) 50+


Books I've Read This Year:


  1. Star Wars Dark Empire
  2. Star Wars Dark Empire II
  3. A Duty to the Dead
  4. An Impartial Witness
  5. A Bitter Truth
  6. An Unmarked Grave
  7. A Brief History of Holiday Music
  8. Sherlock Holmes - The First Great Detective
  9. Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (the audio)
  10. Modern Scholar - World War I
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review 2016-01-25 02:27
The Invention of Wings: A Novel - Sue Monk Kidd

A beautifully written, emotionally compelling story of slavery in the early 19th-century United States, told from the contrasting perspectives of Sarah Grimké, a Charleston planter's daughter, and Hetty (Handful), the slave given to Sarah by her parents as a maid to mark Sarah's 11th birthday. With her younger sister Angelina, Sarah traveled the path from pampered society darling to become an abolitionist, a voice for racial equality, and a feminist before any of these things was fashionable. As the suthor notes, in the 1830s the Grimké sisters were the most famous—and the most infamous—women in the country, regularly assailed in both the relatively liberal North and their own home city.


The book does a great job of tackling the complex and difficult subject of slavery, revealing the violence and brutality inherent in the system without turning those on either side into caricatures. Descriptions are rich and often beautiful. If there is a problem, it lies in the character of Sarah. Perhaps it is the nature of crusaders to value principles over people, but I kept wishing that Sarah would understand that, even though her life was restricted because she was born a girl, her race and status gave her power to help the individual slaves within her parents' household—something she too often overlooked in pursuit of some grand but ultimately ineffective gesture. She did not have to choose; that she so often chose principle I found frustrating. Some of the events in Handful's life also seemed contrived, as the story went on, to ensure that she wound up in the right place at the right time to take part in or observe a particular moment in history rather than because it made sense for someone who had suffered as she had to behave in that way.


But on the whole, I was glad to learn so much more about the Grimké sisters, who until now had been not much more than names to me, and I think this is a book well worth reading.

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