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text 2016-11-28 11:05
The Twelve Tasks of the Festive Season -- Task the Ninth: The Happy New Year
A Christmas Carol (Audiocd) - Patrick Stewart,Charles Dickens

- Every year you get a little bit older! Read a coming of age novel or any old favorite comfort read to start the new year right.

- If you're feeling brave, post a holiday picture of yourself from your childhood or misspent youth.

 

For Part 1 of this task I listened to the audio version one of my annual holiday reads, Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol, performed by Patrick Stewart.  I already reviewed it, and the TV adaptation starring Mr. Stewart as Scrooge, last year -- but it really can't be said often enough what a phantastic reading this is.  Nothing like RSC training, coupled with enormous acting sensibility and empathy for all the story's characters, for bringing this classic to life!  No doubt I'll be revisiting Messrs. Scrooge and Stewart again for Christmas ... and for many years to come.

 

As for Part 2 of this task, eh voilà!

 

Age 4:

 

Christmas 1968:With my mom and my grandpa (and a new favorite doll)

Christmas 1968:With my grandma (and the selfsame doll)

Christmas 1968:
With my then-best friend: I actually had piano lessons at the time, but unlike the adults in attendance we thought it much greater fun to just hammer away at those keys wildly, at random, and as loud as we possibly could!

 

Age 6:

 

Christmas 1970:What a difference two years make ... and oh, how I hated those glasses.

 

Age 8:

 

Christmas 1972:Glasses gone again.  For the time being ... alas, they'd come back with a vengeance in my adult years, and there's unfortunately no way I'm getting rid of them again now.

 

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

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text 2016-11-20 16:54
Reading progress update: I've read 340 out of 928 pages.
Merlin Trilogy - Mary Stewart
The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart
The Hollow Hills - Mary Stewart

 

(Page numbers are for the omnibus edition.)

 

Well, I finished The Crystal Cave (a while ago in fact) and have now moved on to The Hollow Hills, which picks up right where the first book of the trilogy ends.  Merlin is still rather unlike the wise old wizard as whom I'd so far seen him and is becoming ever closer to what I'd so far imagined young Arthur to have been ... but I'm still enjoying the read as such.

 

For those who care, I thought I'd share a couple of photos from the location of the final chapters of The Crystal Cave and the first chapters of The Hollow Hills, Tintagel, where legend has it that King Arthur was conceived ... or, well, photos of what's left of the Tintagel castle ruins (which incidentally date from the 12th, not from the 6th century), as well as the paths that Merlin and Uther would have had to climb, first down to the beach and then back up along the face of the cliff, to get to the castle high up on the promontory:

 




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review 2016-11-07 22:50
Reading progress update: I've read 249 out of 928 pages.
Merlin Trilogy - Mary Stewart
The Crystal Cave - Mary Stewart

 

(Note: the page number is for the trilogy's omnibus edition, which is the book I'm actually reading.)

 

"Thanks" to having contracted some sort of cold or flu bug and having been out of commission for pretty much all other purposes over the weekend, I've progressed fairly well with this book -- well there has to be at least one upside to fever, perpetually running nose and clinging headache, I suppose.

 

Anyway, I'm enjoying this enormously, and I'm so glad I joined this buddy read, so a big thank you to Moonlight Reader for setting this up!

 

I confess I'm not, or perhaps just "not yet" reading Merlin as the same person as the old wizard known from most other incarnations of the Arthurian saga, though.  It actually struck me, especially in Part 1, how similar this trilogy's young Merlin is to the young Arthur of some of the other narratives -- a misfit and a loner, the kid that nobody really knows where and how to place him, entirely too bright for his own good, and intensely interested in books and learning (even though that doesn't mean he wants to be shut up behind the walls of a monastery),

 

And in Parts 3 and 4 we're now getting the one thing that I sorely miss in accounts like T.H. White's Once and Future King, great series though that is in all other respects ... a glimpse of our hero's coming of age and (with apologies to James Joyce) a Portrait Our Hero as a Young Man.  So, yey for that, too!  The magic stuff starts when he's still a boy, but he's learning more about his own magical powers as we go along now, too, as well as how to deal with other people's expectations of him (well, that's bound to happen, I suppose, especially looking at Stewart's source material and the story -- or throw-away line -- that she herself says inspired the whole trilogy).

 

A great read so far, in any event; here's hoping it's going to continue this way!

 

I'm reading this book both for the Merlin Trilogy Buddy Read and for The Twelf Tasks of the Festive Season (Task the Twelfth: The Wassail Bowl).

 

Merken

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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! 2016-10-23 19:20
Final Bingo Square: Grave or Graveyard
Dracula - Bram Stoker,David Suchet,Tom Hiddleston
The Cask of Amontillado - Edgar Allan Poe

Changed my mind (yet again) and switched books for my final bingo square, as I'm not sure I'll be in much of a mind to finish my previous choice for "Grave or Graveyard," Umberto Eco's Cemetery of Prague.

 

So I switched to the 2016 BBC audio adaptation of Dracula, starring David Suchet in the title role and Tom Hiddleston as Jonathan Harker; combined for good measure with Edgar Allan Poe's Cask of Amontillado: Dracula for the crucial Whitby graveyard scenes (and the fact that Whitby Abbey actually inspired the whole novel, which has drawn the goth scene to the town, which in turn has given rise to plans for a mock Whitby graveyard so as to restore some respect to the real place); and The Cask of Amontillado for the fact that ... well, one ironically-named Fortunato does end up in a grave of a very particular sort at the end of the kind of story only Poe could have come up with.

 

The Dracula adaptation is an abridged one; David Suchet makes for a great Dracula, but not all of the book's profoundly somber atmosphere translates well here – I couldn't help being reminded of some of the camp movie additions of yesteryear.

 

Poe's Cask of Amontillado OTOH is one of my favorite short stories (by Poe, as well as overall); it's a concise, perfectly-executed piece of mounting tension and dread, laced with irony and merciless resolve.

 

Anyway, so that concludes my bingo reads – wrap-up post coming separately.  Thanks to Moonlight Murder and Obsidian Blue ... I've had a blast!

 

Whitby Abbey and Graveyard (photos mine)

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