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text 2018-12-12 19:52
Reading progress update: I've read 6%. - the Assassin's Guild reminds me of Eton
Hogfather: Discworld, Book 20 - Random House Audiobooks,Terry Pratchett,Nigel Planer

 

 

I've just started my re-read of "Hogfather" and I'm already asking myself how I can have left it so long* without re-reading it

 

         *(for context, I've only read it once... in 1998... is twenty years too long?)

 

 

 

I'm pleased but not surprised by  philosophical gems like opening with

 

"Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.

 

But people have always been dimly aware of the problem with the start of things. They wonder how the snowplough driver gets to work, or how the makers of dictionaries look up the spellings of words. Yet there is the constant desire to find some point in the twisting, knotting, ravelling nets of space-time on which a metaphorical finger may be put to indicate that here, here, is the point where it all began..."

 

Wonderful stuff, not least because it is at the beginning and because it uses the word ravelling in a sentence.

 

Or the dry wit of statements like:

 

"The only sticky bit had been the embarrassment when her employer had found out she was a duchess because, in Mrs Gaiter's book, which was a rather short book with big handwriting, the upper crust wasn't supposed to work."

 

What caught me by surprise was how much the Assassins' Guild reminded me of Eton. It started with Lord Downey's pride in the Guild he leads because it:

 

"practised the ultimate in democracy. You didn't need intelligence, social position, beauty or charm to hire it. You just needed money, which unlike the other stuff, was available to everyone. Except the poor, of course but there was no helping some people".

What really reminded me of the alma mater of English entitlement was this:

 

"...the Guild took young boys and gave them a splendid education and incidentally taught them how to kill, cleanly and dispassionately, for money and for the good of society, or at least that part of society that had money, and what other kind of society was there?"

 

In the current climate in England, this came off as gallows humour.

 

 

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text 2018-12-12 19:33
Reading progress update: I've listened 90 out of 1080 minutes.
Spinning Silver - Naomi Novik

Well, I'm not disliking this. It seems a lot better than Uprooted. But it's still too early to pass judgment.

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text 2018-12-12 19:28
24 Festive Tasks: Door 16 - Human Rights Day, Task 1 (Human Rights Keywords in Book Titles)

Since I just recently restored order to my physical shelves, I'm reluctant to upset that particular apple cart all over again -- but here are screenshots of some of my search results on my BookLikes shelves (both read and TBR) for the keywords "human," "rights," "freedom," "justice," "liberty," "peace," and "vision":

 

... as well as the little "European Enlightenment" corner of my philosophy shelf (the American authors are part of my Library of America collection):

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text 2018-12-12 17:17
24 Festive Tasks: Door 16 - Human Rights Day, Task 2 (70+ Year Old Characters)
Miss Marple Omnibus Vol. 1 - Agatha Christie
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson
The Old Curiosity Shop - Charles Dickens,Norman Page
The Final Solution - Michael Chabon

Admittedly fairly obvious choices, but anyway:

 

1. Miss Marple -- who may or may not have cracked 70 at the beginning of the series (The Murder at the Vicarage, 1930) but is an elderly lady even then and must have been over 90 by the time the last book about her was published, some 46 years later (Sleeping Murder).

2. Allan Karlsson -- the eponymous protagonist of The Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared.

3. Little Nell's Grandfather in The Old Curiosity Shop.

 

Honorary mention:

 

Sherlock Holmes -- who has retired and is keeping bees in the South Downs in The Final Solution, which is set in 1944.

 

 

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review 2018-12-12 15:05
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Book
Six Geese A-Slaying (Meg Langslow, #10) - Donna Andrews
Six Geese A-Slaying - Donna Andrews,Bernadette Dunne

I decided to backtrack a bit to the series's first (I think) Christmas entry, which is set right after Meg and Michael's marriage and in which Meg is in charge of organizing Caerphilly's annual holiday parade -- emphatically not a "Christmas" parade, since it includes a nod to Diwali (complete with elephants), as well as a Kwanzaa float, which obviously makes this book a fun match with "24 Festive Tasks".

 

Andrews had definitely found her Meg Langslow legs by the time of this book, and the writing and plotting is great fun ... of course a holiday parade themed on The Twelve Days of Christmas offers countless opportunities for things to go hilariously haywire, but you still have to be able to hit just the right balance of humor and storytelling instead of simply stringing together a series of (wannabe) quirky incidents and characters, which not every writer is able to pull off convincingly.  Perhaps the one tiny letdown was that the murderer (and their motive) was fairly obvious well before the conclusion of the book, but still, I very much enjoyed my annual return to Caerphilly for Christmas the holidays.

 

And since a whole rafter of turkeys show up in various parts of the book -- they march in the holiday parade, they're being offered as charity gifts to the local poor, they're roasted at one of the local church community's food stand, and a turkey also features in the Christmas dinner "in the off" at the end of the story, to be prepared by Meg's mother -- I feel justified in using this as my Thanksgiving square read in "24 Festive Tasks" ... even if the turkeys are not accorded quite as prominent a role as the titular six geese (or actually, 37 geese ... or make that 38, counting one deceased of natural causes).

 

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