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SheriC

Portable Mistletoe

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

Being Texan: Celebrating a State of Mind
Jeff Carroll
Hogfather
Terry Pratchett, Nigel Planer
Progress: 25 %
Lady in the Lake
Laura Lippman
Progress: 100 %
Lies Sleeping
Ben Aaronovitch
Progress: 100 %
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
Progress: 100 %
Leading Change
John P. Kotter
Peanuts Classics
Charles M. Schulz
Progress: 66 %
The Bungalow Mystery
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery #3
Carolyn Keene
Progress: 192/192 pages
The Bungalow Mystery
P.M. Carlson, Russell H. Tandy, Carolyn Keene
Progress: 204/204 pages

Good insight into audiobook narration

I can't figure out how to embed the article, but here's the link:

 

'Your throat hurts. Your brain hurts': the secret life of the audiobook star

 

Gather Together in My Name ★★★★★

Gather Together in My Name - Maya Angelou

It’s hard to read such an honest book full of uncomfortable truths. The author picks up where Caged Bird left off, telling her story from ages 17-19. It’s a story of beginnings and endings as she struggles to define herself as a person and find her way as an adult in a harsh world, as her family disintegrates around her. She tries on and discards personas like costumes – short order cook, grand sophisticate, professional dancer, giddy young mistress, sternly remote woman, whorehouse madam, aspiring junkie. This last venture ends the book and what an emotional nuclear bomb it was.

 

As she tells her story, Angelou seems to regard her younger self with both impatience and sympathy, never trying to justify her thoughts and actions, but only demonstrating how she reacted to and attempted to control her circumstances, made mistakes and learned from them, and through it we see how she grew to become the woman who inspired so many.

 

Vintage hardcover, picked up secondhand at a used bookshop.

 

 

I read this for The 24 Festive Tasks 2019 for Door 22 New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31): Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM! with fireworks on the cover, set in medieval times, about the papacy, or where miracles of any sort are performed.

Gather Together in My Name - 103/224pg

Gather Together in My Name - Maya Angelou

I had seen the formality of black adult equals all my youth, but had never considered that a time would come when I,too, could participate. The customs are as formalized as an eighteenth-century minuet, and a child at the race's knee learns the moves and twirls by osmosis and observation.

Gather Together in My Name - 41/224pg

Gather Together in My Name - Maya Angelou

He amused me. I could not and and did not consider him a person. A real person. He was my baby, rather like a pretty living doll that belonged to me. I was myself too young and unformed a human being to think of him as a human being. I loved him. He was cute. He laughed a lot and gurgled and he was mine. 

Gather Together in My Name - 29/224pg

Gather Together in My Name - Maya Angelou

Hasn't every teenaged girl seen herself just this way, luxuriating in the melodrama?

 He knew me too well. It was true. I was loving the role of jilted lover. Deserted, yet carrying on. I saw myself as the heroine, solitary, standing under a streetlight's soft yellow glow. Waiting. Waiting. As the fog comes in, a gentle rain falls but doesn't drench her. It is just enough to make her shiver in her white raincoat (collar turned up). Oh, he knew me too well. 

PM's Bon Om Touk, Tasks 1 & 3

Task1: List / tell us about your favorite rainy day reads.

I don’t have a list of specific books I like to read on rainy days. It’s more *how* I read. For whatever reason, rainy days are an excuse to let go of all guilt and just wallow in reading. Any other day, I’ve got an audiobook plugged into my ears while I do chores and run errands. On rainy days, especially when the weather is cool, I will stay in my pyjamas and drink coffee and curl under a blanket with my dogs and read whatever bound book I have in progress to my heart’s content.

 

Task3: Dragons and dragon-like serpents (imugi) are important to Korean mythology (as they are to that of other Asian peoples). So – which are your favorite literary dragons (fictional, mythological, whatever)?

 

Thieves! Fire! Murder! Such a thing had not happened since first he came to the Mountain! His rage passes description – the sort of rage that is only seen when rich folk that have more than they can enjoy suddenly lose something that they have long had but have never before used or wanted. His fire belched forth, the hall smoked, he shook the mountain-roots.

 

 

Tolkien’s Smaug is the first literary dragon I met, and the one by which all others have been measured and found wanting. He was intelligent, powerful, and terrifying, but Tolkien also gave him a very human weakness in keeping with his character: the sort of arrogant pride that comes with being rich, powerful, and bad-tempered. Later, when he and Bilbo are verbally jousting:

 

    “My armour is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!”

    “I have always understood,” said Bilbo in a frightened squeak, “that dragons were softer underneath, especially in the region of the – er – chest; but doubtless one so fortified has thought of that.”

    The dragon stopped short in his boasting. “Your information is antiquated,” he snapped. “I am armoured above and below with iron scales and hard gens. No blade can pierce me.”

    “I might have guessed it,” said Bilbo. “Truly there can nowhere be found the equal of Lord Smaug the Impenetrable. What magnificence to possess a waistcoat of fine diamonds!”

    “Yes, it is rare and wonderful indeed,” said Smaug absurdly pleased. He did not know that the hobbit had already caught a glimpse of his peculiar under-covering on his previous visit, and was itching for a closer view for reasons of his own. The dragon rolled over. “Look!” he said. “What do you say to that?”

    “Dazzlingly marvelous! Perfect! Flawless! Staggering!” exclaimed Bilbo aloud, but what he thought inside was: “Old fool! Why there is a large patch in the hollow of his left breast as bare as a snail out of its shell!”

 

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch ★★★★☆

The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch - Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean

Graphic novels are really not my thing. But this is the first one I've read that *felt* more like an illustrated novel than a comic book. Or at least, illustrated short story. It might be because this one has as much narrative structure as dialogue and very little action, so the artwork seemed more for building atmosphere and mimicking a sort of stop-motion movie drama, like extreme closeups, rather than depicting characters in action with voice bubbles over their heads. 

 

The artwork is strange but compelling. The story is strange but compelling. And the ending is... unsatisfactorily unresolved. 

 

Paperback, picked up on a whim at a Friends of the Library sale, because the author is Neil Gaiman. 

 

I read this for the 24 Festive Tasks 2019 for Door 2 Japanese Culture Day (Nov. 3): Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.

PM's Melbourne Cup Day Task 4

Door 3 Melbourne Cup Day - Task 4: Prepare your favorite dessert – in a cup! Post a photo of it for us to enjoy vicariously.

 

 

Okay, I admit it's a bit of a cheat, but as I've said many times before, I don't cook! I did look at some desserts in my Mug Meals recipe book but that book has you microwaving everything, and I think microwaved cake is just gross. 

 

Honestly, my favorite dessert probably *is* Blue Bell ice cream, and I saw that they've got their holiday flavors out  in the store, so I picked up their Christmas Cookies (so good it gets national magazine articles) and scooped some into a mug. It was delicious! 

PM's Japanese Culture Day Task #4

Door 2: Japanese Culture Day - Task 4: If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish.

 

I'm not nearly talented a cook as I'd need to be to make my favorite Japanese dishes. So I talked my best friend into having lunch at Kyoto Japanese Steakhouse on Lake Ray Hubbard. Since she loves their hibachi, I didn't have to twist her arm. :D

 

We ordered the Crunch Roll, which has shrimp tempura and crab. It's topped with a pile of tempura crispies, so you can't really see the rolls. My friend absolutely will not eat raw fish, so our sushi roll selection is always a little limited. 

 

Then we had the hibachi lunch - I got the filet mignon, and my friend got the shrimp. The pictures really don't do it justice. The best part is, I'll get two more meals out of it, because the servings are so enormous. 

 

The Lost Man ★★★★★

The Lost Man - Jane Harper

I just finished this and Wow. Just... wow. No idea how to review this without spoiling the plot, but this is the second Jane Harper book I've read and both have been excellent, compelling reads. Unlike The Dry, it's not detective fiction, but I think the story is better for it. She has a way of creating believable, nuanced characters that I can empathize with, although none are fully likeable. Her ability to immerse the reader in the setting had me feeling hot and thirsty, feeling the grit of the Outback on my skin and in my clothes. She skillfully dropped hints and clues into the story so that the big reveal was not a surprise or a cheat, but I wasn't entirely sure of it until the very end. And that end is hopeful, but not HEA either. 

 

Hardcover, borrowed from my public library. So very glad I came across it on the New Fiction shelf by accident. 

 

I read this for The 24 Festive Tasks 2019, for Door 3 Melbourne Cup Day,Read a book about horses, with a horse or with roses on the cover, about gardening, or set in Australia, or written by an Australian author. This book is set in Australia, written by an Australian author, and it does have horses that serve a definite purpose in the story. 

 

Lord of the Flies ★★★★★

Lord of the Flies - William Golding

I first read this book as a teenager, and in some ways it was more terrifying than all the Stephen King books I was busily gobbling up at the time. It might have been the first book I read that illustrated, in a way that felt viscerally true, how easily the veneer of civilization can break down. 

 

I'm sometimes afraid to revisit a book I loved in my youth, because so often they disappoint me as an adult. Lord of the Flies did not disappoint. It resonated more than ever, this story of what can happen when the rule of law breaks down, truth becomes fluid, and a compelling personality with bullying ways gains a little power. 

 

Audiobook via Audible. The audio experience can sometimes suffer when the book is read by the author rather than a professional voice actor, and this story of children descending into savagery could have seemed odd when read with the voice of an old man, but in this case it worked very well. 

 

 

I read this for The 24 Festive Tasks 2019, for Door 1 Dia de los Muertes, Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies. William Golding passed away in 1993. 

 

PM's Festive Tasks Update #1

I'm having tremendous fun so far, but am also way behind on getting my reviews posted. Hopefully, I'll be all caught up by the end of the weekend. 

24 Festive Tasks 2019 – Tracking

Running Total: 7 points

 

Door 1: Nov. 1 - Día de los Muertos / All Saints' Day

Task1: Compose a limerick or short poem in honor of a favorite book character.

Skip

 

Task2: If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to a favorite dish – and / or make yourself a margarita – and share a photo.

Planning: IDK, so many wonderful Tex Mex to choose from!

 

Task3: Write an epitaph for the book you most disliked this year.

1 point: epitaph to Dusk by Ron Dee

 

Task4: Do you have any traditions or mementos of happy memories of a loved one that you feel like sharing?

1 point: Memories of Bonnie

 

Book: Reread a favorite book by a deceased author or from a finished series, or read a book set in Mexico or a book that either has a primarily black and white cover or all the colors (ROYGBIV) on the cover, or a book featuring zombies.

Pending Review: Lord of the Flies by William Golding (audio)

 

Door 2: Nov. 3 - Japanese Culture Day

Task1: Tell us about a cultural festival or event in the area where you live.

Planning: Texas State Fair

 

Task2: Try a flavor of Kit Kat other than chocolate and report back if you liked it.

Skip

 

Task3: Try your hand at folding a paper crane.

Instructions: Link

Planning

 

Task4: If you like Japanese food, treat yourself to a favorite dish.

Planning: Kyoto

 

Book: Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.

Planning: The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch by Neil Gaiman (paperback)

 

Door 3: Nov. 5 - Melbourne Cup Day

Task1: Pick your ponies! Darth Pedant will post the horses scheduled to race; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order)

2 points: I picked my ponies!

  • Steel Prince (IRE)
  • Prince of Arran (GB) Placed 2nd!
  • Mer De Glace (JPN)
  • Alternate pick: Cross Counter (GB)

 

Task2: Roses are the official flower of Flemington Race Track; write your own “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue” poem for one of your favorite or most hated books of all time.

Under consideration

 

Task3: Aussies shorten everything, so Melbourne Cup Day is just called “Cup Day” – post a picture of your favorite cup or mug for your daily fix of coffee, tea or chocolate.

1 point: Banned books mug

 

Task4: Prepare your favorite dessert – in a cup! Post a photo of it for us to enjoy vicariously.

Under consideration

 

Book: Read a book about horses, with a horse or with roses on the cover, about gardening, or set in Australia, or written by an Australian author.

In progress: The Lost Man by Jane Harper

 

Door 4: Nov. 5 - Guy Fawkes Night

Task1: Make a list of the top 3 treasonous crimes against books that an author can commit.

1 point: Crimes against books posted

 

Task2: Start a revolution: What one thing would you change about the book reading world? (Be it publishing, distribution, editing, cover art, bookstores – anything having to do with books.)

1 point: Book banning proposal

 

Task3: Make a little straw (or wood / cloth / wool / fabric) effigy of the book character you like least.

Under consideration

 

Task4: How do you order the books on your shelves?

In progress

 

Book: Read a book set in the UK, a political thriller, a book involving any monarchy or revolution, a book about arson or related to fires and burning, a book whose plot involves costumes / fancy dress, or that has masks on the cover, or that is self-published.

In progress: Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch

 

Door 17: Dec. 21 - Winter Solstice (Yule / Yaldā Night / Dongzhi / Soyal)

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: Read a book that takes place in December, with ice or snow on the cover, where all events take place in a single day or night, that revolves around the solstice, set in Persia / Iran, China or the American Southwest or prominently featuring Persian / Iranian, Chinese or Native American characters, or a collection of poetry.

Planning: Midnight Son by James Dommek (audio)

 

Door 18: Dec. 22 – Hanukkah

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: Read a book about light, miracles, featuring Jewish characters, set in Israel, that is the second book in a series, with the word “two” in the title, or with a light on the cover.

Planning: Gather Together in My Name by Maya Angelou (hardcover)

 

Door 19: Dec. 23 – Festivus

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: Read any comedy, parody, or satire.

Planned: Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett (hardcover)

 

Door 20: Dec. 25 – Christmas

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: Read any Christmas book.

Planned: The Night Before Christmas - In Texas, That Is by Leon Harris (Hardcover) or Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie (audio)

 

Door 21: Dec. 26 – Kwanzaa

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean, by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author, with a green, red, or black cover, or with crops of the earth or a native African animal on the cover (lion, giraffe, cheetah, etc.).

Pending review: The Color Purple by Alice Walker (eBook)

 

Door 22: Dec. 31 - New Year's Eve / St. Sylvester's Day

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: Read a book about endings, new starts, or books where things go BOOM! with fireworks on the cover, set in medieval times, about the papacy, or where miracles of any sort are performed.

Planning: Wine of Satan by Laverne Gay (hardcover)

 

Door 23: Dec. 32 – Hogswatch

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: For the members of the Discworld group: This of course includes the Discworld December read, Guards! Guards!, as well as some group members' favorite seasonal reread, Hogfather.

Planned: Hogswatch by Terry Pratchett (audio)

 

Door 24: Jan. 6 - Epiphany / Twelfth Night

Task1:

 

Task2:

 

Task3:

 

Task4:

 

Book: Read a book with three main characters OR a book about traveling on a journey to a faraway place OR a book that’s part of a trilogy OR with a star on the cover OR with the word “twelve” or “night” in the title OR or concerning kings or spices.

Planning: The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrick Backman (ebook) or A Midnight Clear by Katherine Paterson (hardcover)

Lies Sleeping - 31%

Lies Sleeping - Ben Aaronovitch

Peter's description of community outreach policework: 

This involves meeting people, listening to their stories, and memorizing their names and faces in case you had to come back and arrest them at a later date. 

PM's Guy Fawkes Night - Tasks 1 & 2

Guy Fawkes Night (Nov. 5) - Task 1: Make a list of the top 3 treasonous crimes against books that an author can commit.

 

  1. First Person Present Tense. This is no surprise to anyone who reads my book reviews.
  2. Abridgments.
  3. Heathcliff-style romantic heroes

 

Guy Fawkes Night (Nov. 5) - Task 2: Start a revolution: What one thing would you change about the book reading world? (Be it publishing, distribution, editing, cover art, bookstores – anything having to do with books.)

 

I propose to make it an international law that anyone who submits a request to ban any book must first read the whole thing cover to cover, write a 1,000 word essay on it to be graded by my high school Lit teacher, and be able to pass an exam proving they've read it, before their proposal can even be brought forward for consideration. If they can't score at least a B+ on both, they must make amends by serving two weeks of community service, preferably by cleaning public toilets. 

 

PM's Melbourne Cup Day Task 3

 

Melbourne Cup Day (Nov. 5) Task 3: Aussies shorten everything, so Melbourne Cup Day is just called “Cup Day” – post a picture of your favorite cup or mug for your daily fix of coffee, tea or chocolate.

 

Although I have some very nice coffee cups that match my tableware set, I usually get my daily coffee in one of a few favorite novelty mugs. But my Banned Books mug is my absolute favorite, not only for the perfect size and weight, but also for the unique look and meaning of it.

 

I took some close ups below, and in some of them you can very faintly see that BANNED is embossed on the front, in the same color black as the mug. 

 

 

The Lost Man - Door 3 Melbourne Cup Day

The Lost Man - Jane Harper

Don't you just love when the whole universe conspires to get just the right book to you at just the right time? 

 

Today is Voting Day in my little corner of the world, and as my polling station is in the same building as the city library, I stopped there first to return an overdue book and pay the library policeman her hefty 80 cent fine. And what caught my eye in the New Books! shelf but The Lost Man by Jane Harper, which just happens to be set in Australia and written by an Aussie! I have had the ebook on hold for forever, but apparently it's a lot easier to get your hands on the Old Fart Edition (ie large print). 

 

And I managed to get through the first chapter while waiting in line to vote, and it was killer. I can't wait to get back to it after work.