logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: various-authors
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-21 08:24
The One-Cent Magenta
The One-Cent Magenta - James Barron

I have always thought postage stamps were neat.  I admit I'm the ass in the post office line asking if I can see all the current stamps when I get to the counter, so I can pick out the coolest ones.  (This, by the way, is unheard of in Australia; I've only found one post office where the lady is nice enough to let me pick my own stamps.)

 

But I have never collected stamps.  The hobby holds no appeal for me and never has. What I am hooked on, is rarity.  The idea that there are only x number of something in the world sucks me in, no matter what x is.  I understand the collectors that want to own what no one else owns; I don't have the ego for it, but the idea of owning something that is completely unique is a seductive one.

 

That's why I bought this book on a whim.  That and the cover.  James Barron is a New York Times journalist, who stumbled on the story of the one-cent magenta stamp at a cocktail party; the article he wrote about it led to this book, where he chronicles the path this odd-looking stamp took on it's way to becoming the world's most valuable stamp, selling at auction in 2014 for 9.5 million USD, to Stuart Weitzman, he of the red-soled shoe empire.

 

This is where journalists who write books shine, especially for someone like me, who knows almost nothing about stamps or philately.  Let's face it, stamps do not lend themselves to page-turning drama, and philately needs all the help it can get if it's to appeal to those outside the bubble.  Barron succeeded beyond my expectations.  I completely enjoyed this book and spent all day reading it.  His journalistic style brought the stamp's history to life, and even though he has a bit of fun with the eccentricities of "Stamp World" as he calls it, I thought he did a brilliant job describing the passion and dedication of the hobby in a sympathetic way.

 

I'm thoroughly surprised and delighted at how much I enjoyed this book.  

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-20 07:19
Speedy Death
Speedy Death - Gladys Mitchell

I'm not sure what I think of this.  It dragged a bit in the middle, mostly as the plot was so odd.  So much was crammed in that by the time I got to the end, I barely remembered the beginning.  It seems like another book entirely that started with a dead man – who was really a woman –  in the guest room bathtub.

 

But Mitchell's writing is strong and very readable.  She painted a very compelling country house setting with characters that really worked well in the plot, even if they're rather 2 dimensional in that way I find all third person, golden age crime characters to be.  My biggest gripe is that there is an awful lot of unspoken truths throughout the dialog.  Two people talking about the murder, sharing information and one starts to reveal Something Important when the other gasps "You don't mean..." and the other cuts him off and exclaims "Exactly!".  And the reader is left saying "what?  what do you mean?  what the hell did I miss?!"

 

Of them all, I liked Carstairs best; I am conflicted about Mrs. Lestrange Bradley though.  I like her intelligence and her strength and I'm offended on her behalf of the way she keeps getting referred to as an ugly old lady.  Mitchell gives us her age via formula, by stating that her son is 39 and she was 18 when he was born.  With a bias that grows stronger every day, I hardly think 57 is an age that warrants 'ugly old lady' status.  But Mitchell sacrifices a great deal of Bradley's humanity for the sake of her intelligence and strength.

 

This led me to an interesting personal quandary because the character she most reminded me of is my personal ideal of literary perfection: Shelock Holmes.  He too is cold, calculating, analytical to the extreme, and designed to be unpleasing to the eye, so why do I find him to be the acme of literary perfection, but am left unsure, at best, about Lestrange Bradley?  I was set to face some hard truths about my own gender bias, but thankfully that can be saved for another day, as the answer really is much simpler: Holmes' analytical genius is grounded in facts and hard science; Lestrange Bradley's on psycho-analysis.  That is my bias; I don't condemn psychoanalysis, but neither do I trust it, and I do not find it all that interesting. 

 

So, long story short, this is a book with merit and definitely worth reading, especially for anyone who enjoys classic crime, and Mitchell's writing is worth seeking out.  I just don't know if I enjoyed it enough to pursue other books in this series.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-01-19 07:44
Pomfret Towers
Pomfret Towers - Angela Thirkell

This is the 3rd Angela Thirkell I've read so far (and finished - I DNF'd one last year), and it is, by far, the most biting, painfully hilarious of the lot yet.  I say painfully because all those moments you wish would happen in books, when the evil/nasty/rude character is at work, happen in this book.  But I almost dnf'd this one too, because it doesn't start off well at all.

 

At the opening, it appears that the narrative (3rd person omniscient, btw) is going to focus primarily on Alice Barton, a character so Mary Sue that the Mary Sue trope should have been named Alice Barton.  She is ridiculous; frankly, she's barely functioning.  As I write this, it occurs to me that in current times, she might have been thought to be agoraphobic; she isn't, she's just terrified of everything beyond belief.  

 

Fortunately the biting humor was making me laugh or giggle too often, so I kept on and discovered the story rapidly becomes an ensemble, and even though Alice continues to get more page time than the rest, her growing confidence makes her a tiny bit more bearable.  Tiny bit.  Fair warning, by the end of the book she's still pretty ridiculous. 

 

But along the way, Thirkell does something interesting with Alice; something very unexpected from what I know of her Barsetshire books.  She uses Alice's character to sniff around the edges of masochism and emotional abuse.  Just the edges, mind you; events that would seem inconsequential or pathetic on their own start to add up to a disturbing pattern, and Thirkell writes a scene or two where her friends discuss her pattern of behaviour quite frankly.  This doesn't go anywhere, of course; this book's destiny was to be a frivolous, entertainment, so of course everything works out in the end.  But given the time it takes place (~1930), I found it to be an unexpected and interesting thread and raised the story's merit in my estimation.

 

The end was a tad trite, and could only be expected, but my rating stands because, man, this book was funny.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-01-18 16:41
PSA: I Might Not Like Your Book and That's Okay

Seriously, it is okay. I am but one person in a sea of readers. Most of who probably have better taste than I! There is no need to come on over to my review (or anyone's) at Goodreads and tell me how much of an idiot you think I am. It will not change my opinion about the book but it may change someone's opinion about you. A bad review is also never a reason To Start A Petition to force Goodreads to change their TOS to suit you.

I love books, I love authors, I love to read, to review and I love nothing more than to spread the word about books. But I'm not always going to like your book. In fact, I will probably dislike at least one thing about it because I'm a bit of a jerk like that and that's okay too. There are very few books that I think are perfect.The first one that comes to mind is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. It is my comfort read. I have read it numerous times and it always makes me feel magical.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13872.Geek_Love?ac=1&from_search=true


I adore that weird book so much and, whoa, would you look at this!

Holy crap! Not everyone adores it nearly as much as I do. My favorite book in all the land has 1390 one star reviews. Bastards! Some of those one stars are even from my bastard friends who must not be following my review rules!! But I still love them dearly and respect the fact that they despise the best book ever written. We are all different and totally entitled to have our own opinion no matter how contrary or peculiar or inconceivable that opinion may be.

So here's a little reminder because some people out there in bookland seem to have forgotten this:

Negative reviews are NEVER a reason to freak out.

Mediocre reviews are NEVER a reason to freak out.

Five star reviews are NEVER a reason to freak out.

READER REVIEWS ARE NEVER A REASON TO FREAK OUT.  PERIOD.

Because some people take this all a little too seriously, I'm going to give you a little insight into a book crazy persons head. Or maybe just a crazy person. It matters naught. Most of time I read reviews after I've finished a book and written my own review because I'm nosy and only really care about the last book I've just read. I'm self-centered like that. I like to see what others thought and how my thoughts match up. I bet many readers do the same. Some folks give reader reviewers way too much power.

I also, as a rule, pretty much only read my friends reviews of books I'm considering buying. I trust no one else. I've been burned too many times and from my example above I noticed even my friends can't totally be trusted! So while reviews are great fun to read I do not think they are the end all, be all, final word on a book, on book sales and on book exposure. Also, one reader review does not have the ability to "ruin" an authors career. That's just someone being dramatic.

 

These books are classic examples of books people loved but that burned me bad. I was sucked in by the overwhelming positive reviews and the "you've gotta read" comments and wasted both my time and my money listening to people who did not share my taste. One stars. All of them. I don't care what anyone else says! (you can read my crappy reviews by clicking on a cover)
 
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/159409115?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1Dark Prince by Christine Feehanhttps://www.goodreads.com/review/show/86121449?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/80527099?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/87141714?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/81750749Skinny Bitch in the Kitch by Rory Freedman


Perhaps there are people who have the time to sit around doing nothing but reading all the reviews written by everyone ever and being all judgy but most of us are not that person. We have books to read. This is what always blows my mind when an author has a meltdown over a reader review. A negative review is not a big deal to me, nor to most other readers. It certainly won't stop me from buying something (though ALL five stars might). We buy based on many factors. Here's some free advice and it's totally worth what you're paying for it, on how to deal with a not-so-great, maybe not-so-nice review: Keep it to yourself! Forget you read it. Walk away. It's highly likely that very few people will  even notice it! That's what I'd do were it me. Boohoo about it publicly, leave crappy comments on the review and maybe even threaten the reader with a lawsuit and you can bet we will all be running over to that review to rubberneck that trainwreck and we will remember your name and we won't touch your work with a ten foot pole. Why would anyone do this? But yet they do and it always ends, well, awfully for the offended party.

So I say leave that one star review alone. It can be a good thing! I kid you not. Here are some books I bought because a key word in a review caught my eye and I had to know more! For the record, I ended up five starring all of these books (clicking on cover will bring you to the gushy review).

                  

                           "Vile"   

                613605                              https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/130199982?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

                  I Want my $ back"                               "Too much sex"

Why am I posting this? Well there was a little kerfluffle on Twitter over the weekend that reminded me that a reminder is overdue! An author took up the Anne Rice mantle and wrote up a petition to have GoodReads change their evil ways. Demanding they stop allowing people to write whatever they want to write (no "nasty" comments - who determines the nasty?) and disallowing them the ability to star books without writing reviews amongst other demands. She later backtracked and deleted her #AuthorsRiseUp account as well as the petition. But I saw it and quite a few others did as well. It gave me the shivers! Oh also, here's another reminder that people sometimes forget. Once you post something on the internets, it is out there on the internets forever. Yes, even if you delete it You can read the text of the petition here if you so choose.

http://alexandrasadventures.booklikes.com/post/1631056/yet-another-petition-for-goodreads-to-change-to-suit-entitled-authors

And that story about the lawsuit threat? I wish I could say that I made it all up but it's real. Yep, someone did that. Over. A. Reader. Review.

http://www.happyindulgencebooks.com/2017/12/30/the-importance-of-the-book-blogging-community/

 

Please remember I might not like your book and that's okay because reader reviews are never a reason to freak out!
 
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-01-18 13:04
Reading progress update: I've read 96 out of 384 pages.
Schilf: Roman - Juli Zeh

 

Sebastian = Faust

 

Oskar = Mephisto, der Faust zugleich verführt und bei der Suche nach der absoluten Wahrheit überflügeln will -- er braucht jemand, den er besiegen kann.

 

Dass das Krankenhaus hinter der Entführung von Liam stecken soll, glaube ich keine Sekunde.  Das geht auf das Konto des Obermanipulators Oskar.  Geh zur Polizei, Sebastian.

 

Die Physik ist window dressing.  In Wirklichkeit geht es um ein schnödes Machtspiel.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?