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SheriC

Portable Magic

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

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, #1)
Ursula K. Le Guin
Whisper Network
Chandler Baker
Progress: 54 %
Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison
Progress: 28 %
The Mystery at Lilac Inn
Carolyn Keene
100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories
Gary Raisor, Richard Chizmar, Al Sarrantonio, Avram Davidson
Progress: 70/512 pages
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 Mystery at Lilac Inn
Russell H. Tandy, Mildred Benson, Carolyn Keene

PM's BL-opoly - Update #4

Welp, that Krakauer book really slowed me down. I'm halfway across the board at least. 

 

Books Completed/Bank

 

Total Bank

Worth

Roll#

Lot/Book

$20

 

 

Starting bank

$20

$0

1

The Stay-cation 8: Everneath, by Brodi Ashton; 370pg. ★★☆☆☆ (DNF)

$23

$3

2

Mountain Cabin 15: Dear Life, by Alice Munro; 319pg ★★★★☆

$26

$3

3

The Lake House 19: Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer; 399pg ★★★☆☆

 

Game Play

 

 

And my first Le Guin book! I've been meaning to read her forever, but just now getting around to it. I don't know much about this one, but "coming of age" is one of the popular shelves for it, so it must fit the BL lot. 

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, #1) - Ursula K. Le Guin 

 

Under the Banner of Heaven ★★★☆☆

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith - Jon Krakauer

This was not really the book I was expecting - a true crime nonfic with an exploration of the religious fanaticism that drove the murder, how man commits atrocities and somehow uses his God to justify it to himself and others, especially when God has conveniently provided him with a divine revelation to go ahead with whatever it was he really wanted to do, anyway. 

 

Krakauer does this, peripherally, but he really spends far more time just giving us the history of the mainstream Mormon church and its splinter fundamentalist groups that more closely resemble the original founders' intents and revelations in all its glorious 19th century brutality, xenophobia, misogyny, and racism. Ah, the good old days. 

 

I'm generally suspicious of all organized religions, but even I felt that, if the author was going to spend so much time sifting through LDS history for all the dirt, he could at least make the effort to provide a more balanced view of what the church is and what, if anything, they do about the lunatic fringe. Besides excommunicating them. 

 

And I still have very little sense of who Brenda Lafferty was, besides a woman with enough courage to fight back. 

 

It was interesting enough reading in short bursts, but this is the longest I've taken to read a book since the pandemic began and the social isolation and cancellation of baseball left me a LOT more time to spend reading. 

 

 

I read this for the Booklikes-opoly 2020 lot The Lake House 19: Read a book with a cover that is more than 50% blue, or by an author whose first or last name begins with any letter in the word L-A-K-E. 

Hello, BLopoly Update, and BOOK HAUL

Sorry I've been MIA but the last two weeks have been pretty insane for me, work-wise. We went through our first pandemic-related round of layoffs and I was sincerely worried that I was going to be out of work, but luckily survived with my job intact. But the followup has been a real scramble, as I've been getting the people left behind up to speed as they take on the projects of the departed and initiatives that had been on hold grind back into gear. 

 

When I went to the office for the first time in weeks yesterday, I drove past the flagship Half Price Books and was delighted to see that it was open. Words cannot express how much I've missed browsing bookshelves. And of course, I negated all the progress I've made on my TBR Mountain by buying more books. Instead of searching for books on my wish list as usual, this time I just picked up books at random and purchased on a whim without knowing much about any of them, with several new-to-me authors. Fingers crossed!

 

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith - Jon Krakauer 

I've been grinding away on my current BLopoly selection, but with very limited success. I was expecting more true-crime in the context of the current church, and maybe it's going to get there, but the author is spending far more time on the founding and development of the Mormon church. I'm finding it mildly interesting, but I am getting bored fairly easily and can only read a little at a time, meanwhile I've been binge-watching the episodes of Sherlock Holmes starring Jeremy Brett on YouTube. 

 

 

PM’s BL-opoly – Update #3

My little virus is happily travelling across the BL-opoly landscape. By the end of next week we might be passing GO.

 

Books Completed/Bank

 

Total Bank

Earned

Roll#

Lot/Book

$20

 

 

Starting bank

$20

$0

1

The Stay-cation 8: Everneath, by Brodi Ashton; 370pg. ★★☆☆☆ (DNF)

$23

$3

2

Mountain Cabin 15: Dear Life, by Alice Munro; 319pg ★★★★☆

 

Game Play

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith - Jon Krakauer 

 

Dear Life ★★★★☆

Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro

I don't think I could do this book of short stories justice with a review. Munro writes stories about ordinary people in everyday situations that are a turning point in their lives. To have an affair, to stay or leave, to wait or act, to be silent or speak. She writes without any literary tricks and often at a remove from the characters, but each story still pulled at me in some way. 

 

Paperback. I discovered Munro while vacationing at a rental beach house and had finished the book I had brought with me, so was browsing the completely random selections on the bookshelves. I didn't get to read more than the first story in this collection, but it was enough to know that I needed to have a copy for myself. 

 

I read this book for Booklikesopoly 2020, lot Mountain Cabin 15: Read a book with a tree or a mountain on the cover, or read a book that features a main character who is a father. This book has a tree (or tree trunk, I guess) on the cover with a woodsy background.

.  

The Deep ★★★☆☆

The Deep - Alma Katsu

This book was kind of a mess. It was intriguing enough to keep me going to the end, but after it was over, my only thought was, "well, that's over". It had so many good reviews that I wanted to like it, but even with a generously open mind, I found it mostly annoying. 

 

The problem, for me, is it didn't know what kind of story it wanted to be. A well-researched,  fictional accounting of true historical events and real historical characters? A ghost story? A mystery? A romance? An unreliable narrator with a disturbed mind? I think it could have been any of these things, and done it well, if the author had just committed to a couple of these concepts. But she tried to do it all, and it just didn't work for me. I spent most of the time wondering what the heck was going on, and not in a good way. Extraordinary amounts of time were spent on characters who weren't central to the story. The narrative continually jumped between characters and tense and timelines. 

 

I'm rating it three stars, because for all its flaws it kept me interested and sort of entertained. Maybe this would have been better in a text version, although I felt Jane Collingwood gave an excellent performance as narrator. 

 

Audiobook, via Audible. 

 

 

The Deep - 17%

The Deep - Alma Katsu

This book is just all over the place. The combination of timeline-jumping and character-jumping and retrospectives during the character-jumping leave you with no coherent narrative to follow. A few of the characters are at least mildly interesting, so I'll keep soldiering along, but if things don't start settling down and coming together and telling a single story, I'm out of here. 

Dear Life - pg 91/336

Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro

She had existed and now she did not. Not at all, as if not ever. And people hurried around, as if this outrageous fact could be overcome by making sensible arrangements. He, too, obeyed the customs, signing where he was told to sign, arranging - as they said - for the remains.

 

 

Oh how I love Goodreads

I just flagged it. No need to feed the trolls. 

A Scandal in Bohemia ★★★☆☆

A Scandal in Bohemia -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I appreciate the intrigue, and that Holmes was actually a little delighted that he was outsmarted (and out-acted) by a woman, but I'm a little puzzled as to why the Grand Duke insists that a woman who has been blackmailing him is a "woman of her word" and won't expose him now.  

 

Audiobook, part of the enormous Audible "Sherlock Holmes" compilation of works read by Stephen Fry. I'm slowly working my way through it. I'll be listening to the rest of the short stories in "Adventures of" later. 

Dear Life - pg 47/336

Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro

Ahhh. I love Munro's ability to write a simple story about normal people in normal situations and to somehow make them so very interesting. 

PM’s BL-opoly – Update #2

Well my first roll was a bust and didn't net me any BLopoly dollars. But I think I'll have better luck with my second roll.

 

Books with trees on the cover are pretty easy to come by, so I decided to limit it to books that actually had a woodsy sort of cover and came up with a collection of short stories that I've had on my TBR for a while. 

 

Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro 

Everneath ★★☆☆☆

Everneath - Brodi Ashton

I'm not sure it's possible for a book to fail the Bechdel test when there are no actual conversations in the first 50 pages, but this one seems to fail the intent, anyway. This re-imagining of the Persephone myth has an interesting premise and (what I read of it) is well-written. But our main character is wholly defined by (and obsesses over) her relationships to people with penises, with a token "best friend" with whom she exchanges three sentences, outside of hellos and goodbyes. 

 

I just am not the target audience for this kind of book. DNF at page 50.

 

Hardcover, signed by the author, who seemed like a very engaging person at her book tour. 

 

I was reading this for the Booklikes-opoly 2020 game, for the lot Stay-cation 8: Read a book that was published during the months of May, June or July, or that contains an item that would be used as a school supply or an article of clothing or an accessory pictured on the cover. This book has a girl in a dress on the cover. With half her head cut off, in true YA cover fashion. Since I DNF'd early, I don't earn any $$ for it. 

Agent to the Stars ★★★★★

Agent to the Stars - Wil Wheaton, John Scalzi

Okay, maybe not objectively 5 stars, but this book was just exactly what I needed right now. It's a little silly on the surface, but the goofy premise and light humor and bantering dialogue camouflage some serious themes, one of which surprise-smacked me in the face towards the end. Because it was there all along, I just didn't notice because I was laughing. 

 

Audiobook, via Audible, and Wil Wheaton's performance was as perfect as always. 

 

Thanks for the rec, Char. You never steer me wrong. 

PM’s BL-opoly – Update #1

Yes, I'm using the coronavirus for my marker. Sorry. 

 

 

 

Everneath - Brodi Ashton 

 

I have relatively low expectations for this book. YA romance really is not my thing, but I met the author at the book tour and brought home a signed copy and some promotional swag, so it's been sitting on my bookshelf for 8 years, unread, staring accusingly at me every time I pass it over for another book. I guess it's time. 

I love used book surprises

I forgot to mention the happy surprise I found tucked into my copy of The Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham! It's just a promotional paper bookmark for a now-defunct local bookstore chain that revolutionized bookselling in the 1980's, before it was (ironically) run out of business by the big box stores like Borders. But I love bookmarks, and this is a fun little piece of local history.