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text 2017-08-17 00:04
Look!! Isn't it pretty? Thank you so much, MR!!

 

Now, as for filling in all those beautiful squares ...

 

 

I think my brain will be going full tilt tonight!

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text 2017-08-01 22:12
England (the Southern / Central Part), from East to West and Back: Bookish Souvenirs
Jane Austen's Hampshire - Terry Townsend
The Book of Margery Kempe - Margery Kempe,Barry Windeatt
Intimate Letters of England's Queens - Margaret Sanders
1415: Henry V's Year of Glory - Ian Mortimer
Bosworth: The Birth of the Tudors - Chris Skidmore
Constable in Love: Love, Landscape, Money and the Making of a Great Painter - Martin Gayford
The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, the Lost Hero of Science - Andrea Wulf
The House of Rothschild: Volume 2: The World's Banker: 1849-1999 - Niall Ferguson
The Malice of Unnatural Death - Michael Jecks
The Late Show - Michael Connelly

The Trip:

* Chiltern Hills and Thames Valley (to mystery lovers, aka "Midsomer County" -- though given that this is an area chock-full of quintessential(ly) English villages, it's no surprise that it also routinely provides locations for other series, such as Inspector Morse, The Vicar of Dibley, and of course, adaptations of Agatha Christie's mysteries ... Christie herself, after all, also spent her last years in this area, in a village just outside of Wallingford, where she is also buried.)

* Chawton: Jane Austen's home

* Gloucester and Malmesbury

* The Welsh Borderland: The Welsh Marches, Herefordshire, and Shropshire

* Bosworth and Leicester

* East Anglia: Norfolk, Ely, and Stour Valley (aka [John] Constable Country)

 

 

The Souvenirs:

* Jane Austen:

- Pride and Prejudice -- an imitation leather-bound miniature copy of the book's first edition

- Lady Susan -- audio version performed, inter alia, by Harriet Walter

- Teenage Writings (including, inter alia, Cassandra, Love and Freindship, and The History of England)

 

* Terry Townsend: Jane Austen's Hampshire (gorgeously illustrated hardcover)

* Hugh Thomson:

- Illustrations to Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion

- Illustrations to Mansfield Park and Emma

* Pen Vogler: Tea with Jane Austen

 

... plus other Austen-related bits, such as a playing card set featuring Hugh Thomson's illustrations for Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion, two Austen first edition refrigerator magnets, two "Austen 200" designer pens, a Chawton wallpaper design notepad, and a set of Austen-related postcards.

 


* Margery Kempe: The Book of Margery Kempe
* Julian of Norwich: Revelations of Divine Love

(have read bits of pieces of both, but never yet the whole thing(s) -- something to be remedied soonish)

* Margaret Sanders (ed.):

- Letters of England's Queens

- Letters of England's Kings

("Queens" looks decidedly more interesting, but I figured since there were both volumes there ... Unfortunately, neither contains any Plantagenet correspondence, though; they both start with the Tudors.)

* Terry Jones: Medieval Lives

* Ian Mortimer:

- The Greatest Traitor: The Life of Sir Roger Mortimer, Ruler of England 1327-1330

- 1415: Henry V's Year of Glory

* Chris Skidmore: Bosworth -- The Birth of the Tudors

* David Baldwin: Richard III

* Richard Hayman: The Tudor Reformation

* Glyn E. German: Welsh History

(The last two are decidedly more on the "outline" side, but they're useful as fast, basic references)

* Martin Gayford: Constable in Love -- the painter John Constable, that is.

* Andrea Wulf: The Invention of Nature (yeah, I know, late to the party, but anyway ... and at least I got the edition with the black cover!)

* Chris Beardshaw: 100 Plants that almost changed the World (as title and cover imply, nothing too serious, but a collection of interesting tidbits nevertheless)

* Niall Ferguson: The House of Rothschild -- The World's Banker, 1849-1999

 

 

* Michael Jecks, Knights Templar:

- The Leper's Return

- The Boy-Bishop's Glovemaker

- The Devil's Acolyte

- The Chapel of Bones

- The Butcher of St. Peter's

- The Malice of Unnatural Death

   

* Shirley McKay: Hue & Cry (a mystery set in Jacobean St. Andrews, Scotland)

 

... and finally, two present-day mystery/thrillers, just to balance off (well, not really, but anyway ...) all that history:

 

* Jo Nesbø: The Snowman

* Michael Connelly: The Late Show
 

... plus several more mugs for my collection (because I clearly don't own enough of those yet), two Celtic knot bookmarks, a Celtic knot T-shirt, a Celic knot pin, a Celtic knot designer pen (can you tell I really like Celtic knot designs?), assorted handmade soaps and lavender sachets, and assorted further postcards and sticky notes, plus in-depth guidebooks of pretty much every major place I visited (which guidebooks I sent ahead by mail before leaving England, so they're currently still en route to my home).

 

ETA:

Oh, and then there's John le Carré's The Pigeon Tunnel, which I bought at the airport right before my departure and am currently reading.  Books that you buy at the departure for a trip do qualify for a vacation book haul, don't they?

 

 


Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

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review 2016-12-13 22:29
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- Task the First: The Winter Wonderland; and Task the Seventh: The Christmas
Dylan Thomas Reads a Child's Christmas in Wales and Five Poems/Cd - Dylan Thomas
The Nightingale Before Christmas (Meg Langslow Mysteries) - Donna Andrews

Task the First:
– Read a book that is set in a snowy place.

 

Dylan Thomas: A Child's Christmas in Wales

 

Thomas's lyrical memoirs of his childhood Christmas experience, read by himself ... truly magical.  One of the books (or CDs) that I revisit every single holiday season.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Task the Seventh:
– Read a book set during the Christmas holiday season. 

 

Donna Andrews: The Nightingale Before Christmas

 

The year before last's entry in Donna Andrews's Meg Lanslow series: An uninhabited  Caerphilly house has been turned into a show house for the local interior designers' pre-Christmas competition, which Meg has agreed to organize (her own mother being one of the contestants, and Meg's involvement as an organizer having been the price for their own house not to be used as the scene of competition) -- as a result of which Meg is having to constantly mediate between the contestants, who keep going at each others' throats hammer and tongs and are, as a whole, more unruly than a bag of wriggling kittens.  It doesn't particularly help, either, that there's a student hanging around the place doing research for an article on the competition that she's writing for the local university newspaper, that moreover, packages containing the contestants' orders of items needed in their decorative arrangements keep disappearing, and that at last someone even takes to vandalizing the house and some of the half-arranged rooms, with merely a few days to go to Christmas (and to the advent of the judges).  When the most unpopular of the contestants -- whom the others also hold responsible for the disappearance of their packages and for the vandalization of their rooms -- is found murdered, there doesn't seem a shortage of suspects ... except that every single one of the other designers seems to have a credible alibi.

 

A more than solid, tremendously enjoyable entry in the series ... having read Duck the Halls just before Christmas last year, I'm seriously tempted to hunt down all of Andrews's holiday books and read them, one at a time, before Christmas each year!  She truly has a knack for combining a hilarious storyline with fully-rounded characters (however unusual), a homely and comfortably-feeling small-town setting and a lot of warmth, humor, and common sense.  Highly recommended!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Task the Seventh:
– Grab your camera and set up a Christmas bookstagram-style scene with favorite holiday reads, objects or decorations. Possibly also a cat. Post it for everyone to enjoy!

 

Well, the cat preferred to watch the setup from atop the half-empty box of Christmas decorations instead of being part of the picture, but anyway ... here we go!  (And yes, that's a real candle again. :) )

 


 

 

 

 

Snow Globes: Reads
Bells: Activities

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text 2016-10-23 19:25
Black Cat Productions Presents: Bingos No. 12 & 13 and BINGO BLACK OUT!

 

 

 

This has been enormously great fun; thanks to Moonlight Reader and Obsidian Blue for putting this together and hosting it!  I've loved following everybody's reads – still sorry RL duties made me bow out for 2+ weeks smack in the middle of it all.  Most of my selections turned out to be enjoyable, many even great reads, and as a bonus I've discovered two new favorite series (James D. Doss's Charlie Moon series and Peter May's Lewis crime novels) and a new favorite character in an already-loved series (Angua, in the Night Watch subseries of Terry Pratchett's Discworld).

 

 

The Books:

Read by Candlelight or Flashlight – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi (Mademoiselle de Scuderi
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 5, No. 6 & No. 12

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits
=>  Bingos No. 6 & No. 11

Witches – Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman: Good Omens 
=>  Bingos No. 3No. 6

Genre: Horror – Mary Shelley: Frankenstein 
=>  Bingos No. 6 & No. 8

Black Cat – Frances & Richard Lockridge: The Norths Meet Murder 
=>  Bingos No. 4, No. 5No. 6 & No. 9

Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun – Sherman Alexie: Reservation Blues 
=> Bingos No. 10 & No. 12

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw 
=> Bingos No. 1, No. 10 & No. 11

Young Adult Horror – Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost 
=>  Bingos No. 3 & No. 10

Scary Women (Authors) – Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn 
=>  Bingos No. 4, No. 8 & No. 10

Reads with BookLikes Friends – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles 
=>  Bingos No. 9 & No. 10

Grave or Graveyard – Bram Stoker: Dracula & Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado 
=>  Final Bingo Square: Bingos No. 12 & No. 13

Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse 
=>  Bingos No. 11 & No. 13

Free Space – Dashiell Hammett: The Dain Curse 
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 3, No. 4,  No. 5 & No. 13

Gothic – Horrace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto 
=>  Bingos No. 8 & No. 13

Creepy Crawlies – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventure of the Speckled Band 
=>  Bingos No. 9 & No. 13

"Fall" into a Good Book – Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher 
=> Bingos No. 7 & No. 12

Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room
=>  Bingos No. 4, No. 7 & No. 11

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night – Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None 
=>  Bingos No. 3 & No. 7

Set in New England – Shirley Jackson: The Lottery 
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 7 & No. 8

Full Moon – James D. Doss: White Shell Woman 
=>  Bingos No. 7 & No. 9

Vampires vs. Werewolves – Terry Pratchett: Feet of Clay 
=>  Bingos No. 2, No. 4, No. 5 & No. 12

Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire 
=>  Bingos No. 2 & No. 11

Classic Horror – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman
=>  Bingos No. 2 & No. 3

Pumpkin – Washington Irving: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 
=>  Bingos No. 2 & No. 8

Set on Halloween – Agatha Christie: Hallowe'en Party 
=>  Bingos No. 1, No. 2, No. 5 & No. 9

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-10-22 15:00
Halloween Book Bingo 2016: Eleventh Update and BINGO No. 11
The Blackhouse - Peter May
The Prague Cemetery - Umberto Eco

 

Home stretch – 24 books down, 1 to go!

 

 

Bingo No. 11 – the Books:

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits)

Isabel Allende's breakout success and still one of my favorite novels by her (surpassed only by Of Love and Shadows): A multigenerational allegory on the story of her native Chile – seen through the eyes of the novel's female protagonists, the women of the Trueba clan; particularly the paranormally gifted Clara, as well as the Patrón, Don Esteban Trueba (Clara's husband and the father and grandfather of their daughter Blanca and granddaughter Alba) – and at the same time, Allende's attempt to come to terms with her own family's involvement in Chile's history.  A gorgeously lyrical narrative, as expansive as the plains surrounding the Trueba estate of Tres Marías; at times harsh, at other times, delicate, and a paen to the will to survive and to live exhibited by the Trueba women in the face of all adversity.  Of all books labeled as exponents of magical realism, to me this one, alongside Gabriel García Márquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, is the quintessential magical realist novel.

 

 

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw  

A perfectly-timed, profoundly unnerving fireside tale of a young governess's experiences on her very first job, guarding two children – a boy of ten and a girl of eight – who appear charming and innocent initially, but are slowly and bit by bit revealed to be possessed by the evils spirits of their former governess and her paramour, the household's former manservant.  By Henry James's standards rather short and concise (even in its language), and all the more memorable for its blend of succinct language and masterfully crafted, eery atmosphere.

 

 

Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse

Book 1 of May's Lewis Trilogy; a darkly atmospheric tale of childhood ghosts rearing their ugly heads to bring down the lives of a group of former schoolmates some 30+ years later; set on the northern end of the largest and northernmost of Scotland's Outer Hebrides islands, the Isle of Lewis.  May does an excellent job of bringing to life both the starkness of the Lewis landscape and nature and its dramatic coastline, and the inner demons haunting his protagonist (DI Fin Macleod, on secondment from Edinburgh CID because a recent murder on Lewis bears hallmark similarities to a case he's working on in Edinburgh) and Fin's former schoolmates, one of whom – a much-feared bully – turns out to be the victim of this latest murder.

 

The story is told in the third person when moving in the present and in the first person when revisiting Fin's and his schoolmates' past; something I ordinarily don't much care for and which almost threw me at the beginning of the book.  But here I stopped minding less than halfway through the narrative, and I'll admit that it did provide for a clear line of distinction between past and present.

 

Warning: The story's central episode revolves around the annual trip that a group of Lewis men take to a rock/island some 40+ miles north of Lewis in the North Atlantic named Sula Sgeir (or An Sgeir, as it's referred to here) to hunt and kill a total of 2,000 gannet chicks (locally known as gugas).  The killing and curing of the gugas is described in unflinching detail, which animal lovers may find disturbing (I know I did): my feeling is that the author wants readers to experience revulsion for the hunt while also exploring the mindset of the hunters and the place which the hunt occupies in local society today ... in addition to which, as I said, the An Sgeir trip operates as the major catatlyst in the book's narrative arc.

 



 Northern Isle of Lewis (photos mine)

 

 

Isle of Lewis: The Standing Stones of Calanais (Callanish) (photos mine)

 


Sula Sgeir (images from Wikipedia)

 

File:Northern Gannet juvenile RWD.jpgFile:Northern Gannet juvenile RWD4.jpg
Young gannets (gugas) (images from Wikipedia)

 

 

Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room)

https://themoviemayor.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/3-5-star-rating2.jpg

This book is billed as the first-ever locked room mystery, which isn't entirely correct, as by the time it was published (1907), there already were several very well-known mysteries relying on the same feature (Edgar Allan Poe's Murders in the Rue Morgue, as well as Arthur Conan Doyle's Sign of Four and The Speckled Band (see below)), even though their solutions are different than this book's.  The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Speckled Band are, interestingly, expressly referenced here, and it is quite obvious that Leroux was a huge admirer of Sherlock Holmes and his creator, to the point that I couldn't make up my mind to the very end to what extent he was copycatting and to what extent he was paying hommage.  By and large it's an enjoyable read, though, and I can well believe that the book's contemporaneous readership considered it a novelty and was seriously wowed by its solution.  (Side note: Grammar nuts reading this in French will have the rare joy of finding the chief narrative tense to be the first person plural passé simple, which greatly added to my personal reading pleasure.)

 

 

Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire

 Sherlock Holmes receives an urgent request for help and advice from a former acquaintance of Dr. Watson's, who, having recently returned from an extended business-related stay in Peru (from where he has also imported his new wife) has been shocked into believing he has married a vampire, upon finding his wife sucking the neck of their newborn son – with a pinprick mark on the baby's neck and traces of fresh blood on his wife's lips providing seemingly undeniable evidence as to the lady's actions.  Sherlock Holmes, of course, derides the belief in vampires as "pure lunacy," insists that "[t]his agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain.  The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply" – and proceeds too demonstate, applying his trademark reasoning, that there is a perfectly logical (though rather tragic) explanation for the things that his client has witnessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 Currently Reading:

 The Prague Cemetery - Umberto Eco

 

 

Finished – Update 1:

 

Creepy Crawlies – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventure of the Speckled Band
Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire
Set in New England – Shirley Jackson: The Lottery

 

 

Finished – Update 2:

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James Das Fräulein von Scuderi: Erzählung aus dem Zeitalter Ludwig des Vierzehnten - E.T.A. Hoffmann

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw
Read by Candlelight or Flashlight – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi (Mademoiselle de Scuderi)
(read by flashlight, in bed)

 

 

Finished – Update 3:

The Canterville Ghost - Oscar Wilde, Inga Moore  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving
 
Young Adult Horror –
Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost
Pumpkin –
Washington Irving: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

 

 

Finished – Update 4:

The Dain Curse - Dashiell Hammett Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie

Free Space – Dashiell Hammett: The Dain Curse
Set on Halloween – Agatha Christie: Hallowe'en Party (novel)

 

 

Finished – Update 5:

  Der Sandmann - Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann

Scary Women (Authors) – Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn
Classic Horror – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman)

 

 

Finished – Update 6:

Le mystère de la chambre jaune - Gaston Leroux
Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room)

 

 

Finished Update 7:

Feet of Clay (Discworld, #19) - Terry Pratchett 
Vampires vs. Werewolves – Terry Pratchett: Feet of Clay (Night Watch novel)

 

 

Finished – Update 8:

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil GaimanGood Omens: The BBC Radio 4 dramatisation - Terry Pratchett, Neil GaimanAnd Then There Were None - Agatha ChristieThe Norths Meet Murder (The Mr. and Mrs. North Mysteries) - Frances Lockridge, Richard Lockridge

Witches – Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman: Good Omens
Black Cat – Frances & Richard Lockridge: The Norths Meet Murder
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night – Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None

 

 

Finished – Update 9:

La casa de los espíritus - Isabel AllendeFrankenstein - Mary ShelleyThe Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle, Anne Perry

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits)
Genre: Horror – Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
Reads with BookLikes Friends – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Castle of Otranto - Michael Gamer, Horace WalpoleThe Fall of the House of Usher - Edgar Allan PoeWhite Shell Woman: A Charlie Moon Mystery (Charlie Moon Mysteries) - James D. Doss


Gothic – Horrace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto 
"Fall" into a Good Book – Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher

Full Moon – James D. Doss: White Shell Woman

 

 

Finished – Update 10:

Reservation Blues - Sherman Alexie
Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun – Sherman Alexie: Reservation Blues

 

 

Finished – Update 11:

 The Blackhouse - Peter May
Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse

 

 

TA's Reading List:

Read by Candlelight or Flashlight – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Das Fräulein von Scuderi (Mademoiselle de Scuderi) (novella)

Magical Realism – Isabel Allende: La casa de los espíritus (The House of the Spirits) (novel)

Witches – Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters (or possibly Terry Pratchett / Neil Gaiman: Good Omens (novel)

Genre: Horror – Edgar Allan Poe: The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether (short story); alternately E.A. Poe: The Tell-Tale Heart or The Masque of the Red Death (also short stories). Change of plan: Mary Shelley: Frankenstein.

Black CatNgaio Marsh: Black as He's Painted (novel) (black cat central to the story and therefore also black cat on the cover of the stand-alone paperback edition) change of plan: Frances & Richard Lockridge: The Norths Meet Murder (novel)

Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun – Possibly Edwidge Danticat (ed.): Haiti Noir (short story anthology); otherwise TBD Settled on: Sherman Alexie: Reservation Blues.

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses – Henry James: The Turn of the Screw (novella)

Young adult horror – Oscar Wilde: The Canterville Ghost (novella)

Scary Women (Authors) – Daphne Du Maurier: Jamaica Inn (novel)

Reads with BookLikes Friends – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Hound of the Baskervilles (novel)

Grave or Graveyard – Edgar Allan Poe: The Cask of Amontillado (short story); alternately Ngaio Marsh: Grave Mistake (novel) or Umberto Eco: The Prague Cemetery

Genre: Mystery – Peter May: The Blackhouse (novel)

Free Space – Dashiell Hammett: The Dain Curse

Gothic – Horrace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto (novel)

Creepy Crawlies – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Adventure of the Speckled Band (short story)

"Fall" into a Good Book – Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher (short story)

Locked Room Mystery – Gaston Leroux: Le mystère de la chambre jaune (The Mystery of the Yellow Room) (novel)

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night – Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None (novel)

Set in New England – Shirley Jackson: The Lottery (short story)

Full Moon – James D. Doss: White Shell Woman (novel) (full moon on the cover, and the protagonist / investigator is called Charlie Moon); alternately Dennis Lehane: Moonlight Mile

Vampires vs. Werewolves – Terry Pratchett: Feet of Clay (Night Watch novel)

Supernatural – Arthur Conan Doyle: The Sussex Vampire (short story)

Classic Horror – E.T.A. Hoffmann: Der Sandmann (The Sandman) (short story)

Pumpkin – Washington Irving: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (short story)

Set on Halloween – Agatha Christie: Hallowe'en Party (novel)

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