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Showing posts from August, 2022

Summer's End

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 Well, how did I do with the 20 Books of Summer?  I managed to blog about 17 books, most of which were on my original list.  I did get an 18th book read, but it's for Witch Week so you'll have to wait!  I'm not thrilled with my performance, but all things considered I'm happy and I had a really nice summer, which is the important part.  I got some quilting done too! I did fall down a bit with WIT August.  The first books I chose turned out not to be translated at all; it was written in English.  (Every other book I've gotten from that 'Emerging Voices' series has been translated!  I just assumed!)  I'm still reading my other choice, which is a very long mystery novel from Spain, set in Basque country.   Now it's back to work/school and there's plenty going on, which is keeping me from doing a whole lot of posting at the moment.  My younger kid is preparing to move out next week, into an apartment here in town with a friend.  Time for some indepen

Summerbook #17: Word From Wormingford

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 Word From Wormingford: A Parish Year, by Ronald Blythe Ronald Blythe is the fellow who collected and edited Akenfield , in which villagers talked about how things were in the old days (yes, people were closer knit, but no, it wasn't better).  I really enjoyed that book and when I saw this one described, I'm not sure what I thought it would be like, but I knew I wanted to read it.  Whatever I expected, this wasn't it, but it was a nice surprise. Ronald Blythe turns out to be a clergyman, working in three village parishes in Suffolk.  The one he lived in is Wormingford, and the book collects selections of the weekly pieces he would write for the parish news -- these date from 1993 - 1996, so presumably he went through and picked his favorites, and I think there is more than one for every week.  They are titled by the church calendar: Second Trinity, St Dunstan, and so on, but there are more than four in a month.  The pieces are meditations on the season, on the people of the

Summerbook #16: A Fatal Grace

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  A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny I wanted to read another Louise Penny mystery over the summer.  I didn't realize that the second one in the series is a Christmas mystery that involves an incredible amount of snow, ice, and freezing everything (possibly I could have paid attention to the cover).  It's been really hot here, as it always is in August, so in a way it was nice to read about snow and ice... Our first murder victim is CC de Poitiers, self-proclaimed lifestyle guru.  She's got a book explaining her revolutionary new philosophy of Li Bien, she's planning a magazine and a home d├ęcor line, and she's certain she'll make it big once people understand.  She's also a horrible person who manipulates and abuses everyone around her, especially her husband and daughter.  When she collapses at the traditional post-Christmas village curling match, her death seems impossible, but certainly lots of people are happy she's gone. Inspector Gamache is put on the

Summerbook #15: Reflections on the Psalms

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  Reflections on the Psalms, by C. S. Lewis Today was the first day of the new semester, and it's looking good.  Finally, there are a reasonable number of students on campus and in the library, and the place doesn't look like a ghost town.  I was so busy today!  Lovely. At my church, I teach the adult Sunday school class once a month, and yesterday was my day to teach.  The lesson was on the psalms, and so to prepare, I thought I'd read Lewis' Reflections, which I'd never done before.  I figured I might as well count it as one of my 20 summer books, since we're obviously getting down to the end and I am not going to reach all 20 (unless you count the fluffy mysteries I read before going to sleep, but I don't blog about those). The book is quite short, and is really a series of essays.  Lewis starts with enumerating the errors a reader might fall into with the psalms.  He talks about the structure of the songs, and how they use parallelism.  He's kind of

Summerbook #14: Pillars of Salt

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 Pillars of Salt, by Fadia Faqir I was saving this novel for August's Women in Translation event, and got halfway through before I looked at the copyright information and realized that Faqir, a Jordanian author, actually wrote this story in English.  So, oops.  Good thing I've got a Spanish mystery so I won't totally miss out on WIT! Two women are imprisoned in a mental asylum, and tell each other their stories.  Maha's life is told in the first person, in flashbacks.  Um Saad narrates her life to Maha each evening when the lights go out, since they aren't supposed to talk.  And a storyteller jumps in every so often to tell Maha's life through his own malicious and gossipy lens. Maha lives on a small farm with her father and no-good brother.  She is delighted to marry her husband, the Bedouin Harb, and they are deeply in love, but he spends most of the time off in the mountains, raiding English camps.  Despite this, the village is talking about Maha's barren

Summerbook #13: San Fransicko

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San Fransicko: How Progressives Ruin Cities, by Michael Shellenberger Michael Shellenberger is, to put it mildly, a maverick.  (And not the movie jet-flying kind!)  He started off very left/progressive, became disillusioned with the results, and now advocates for nuclear power, water desalinization, and other solutions for West Coast problems.  California recently had an election in which we voted whether or not to recall the current governor, Gavin Newsom, and if yes, who should be governor instead, and Shellenberger ran for the post.  (Newsom didn't get recalled.)   Here, Shellenberger tackles the most obvious problem in San Francisco, as well as Portland, Seattle, and the rest of the West Coast -- including my own little city -- that of homeless addicts living on the streets.  For years, we've poured billions into homelessness, only to see it getting worse and worse.  This is partly because the problem in this case is not 'just' homelessness; we have shelters and pr

CC Spin Title (and Summerbook #12 ): Our Mutual Friend

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 Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens This doorstopper tome came in at over 800 pages!  So, clearly, this is a story that is going to have a lot of characters and a lot of plot threads.  Dickens does weave all of it together into a suspenseful and exciting pattern, and for the most part I enjoyed the novel and often kept reading to find out what would happen. Our story revolves, mainly, around one hero and two heroines, but they are not in a love triangle.  In fact, we start with a murder; the body of John Harmon, heir to a large fortune and just arrived to claim it, has been found in the river.   Who killed him, and who will get the money?  It is not a spoiler to let you know that John Harmon is in fact alive, but is pretty iffy on whether he wants the money.  He definitely does not want to force Miss Bella Wilfer into marriage, which is what his father has ordained in the will, although the two have never seen each other.  So the family servants, the kind and relaxed Boffins, get th

Summerbook #11: All the Birds in the Sky

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 All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders I took this home because the inside cover had reviews that compared it to DWJ and Neil Gaiman.  It turned out to be a pretty good modern urban fantasy novel (and I don't mean 'urban fantasy' in the sense of 'werewolf romance'). Patricia and Laurence are both underdogs and social outcasts.  Their (improbably uninterested) parents don't understand them and usually do the opposite of what their kids need.  They're tormented at school and at home.  Patricia finds solace in nature, and is shaped by a strange encounter with a bird who speaks with her, while Laurence is a tech geek building an AI from discarded parts in his bedroom closet.  In junior high, they become friends, but social pressures and, eventually, parents make it increasingly difficult, until Patricia is whisked off to a school for magic users and Laurence finally makes it to the tech high school he's dreamed of. Years later, their paths cross a

Classics Club 10th Anniversary!

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 Wow, it's been ten years since Jillian started the Classics Club!  Unbelievable.  To celebrate, the Club has published some questions for us to answer.    Share your links in the comments, I'd love to see your answers too! When did you join the Classics Club?   I'm a charter member and have been in the whole time.  Here's my first post about the Club!     Here's my first list, and the second one that I'm working on now. What is the best classic book you’ve read for the club so far? Why?  That is a nearly impossible question to answer!  I've read a heck of a lot of books for this club!  But I think I will pick Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston, for a few reasons: a)  it's an amazing novel and I just love it; b) I'd never read ZNH before, and I went on to read and love several of her works (not done yet!); c) I found a fascinating connection between ZNH, this novel, and an incredibly obscure Danish romanticist writer's first no

Summerbook #10: Honeycomb

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 Honeycomb, by Joanne M. Harris This is a rather fascinating collection of....very short stories?  chapters?  which all weave together into a complex set of tales.  Harris explains in the afterword that it started off as little stories on Twitter, which forced her to write tightly, and people would ask for more stories about their favorites, and after a while she had "a new medium for folklore.  An interlinked series of stories, all set in the same honeycomb multiverse as [two other books] and with an overarching storyline about love, magic, the power of story, and the quest for redemption."  Neat, hm? The stories revolve around the Silken Folk -- what you'd usually call Faerie, which here is also the world of insects -- and their interactions with the Sightless Folk, which are of course humans.  The Honeycomb Queen is the first of these, and her son, the Lacewing King, is the protagonist.  He grows up to be cruel and ruthless, and his various adventures, and long accide