We're already halfway through the month and I'm a little past the midway point of my May TBR. I've read all the fiction on there (big surprise ...) and I'm at different stages in three of the remaining four books.
I've been listening to The History of the Ancient World with the Voice Dream app and I'm a quarter way through. I hadn't intended going the listening route that far into the book, just maybe 5%-10% to prep myself and to put me in the mood. At which point, the plan was to take up the reading from one of my devices. But now I'm trying to decide whether to continue the listening route or go back to reading from the start. I know I've lost some detail by listening instead of reading but that wouldn't matter much if I was only going for a broad overview. I am enjoying the book perfectly fine so far, and I know I'd only get bogged down in all the footnotes if I were to use my e-reader. Continue listening or start actually reading from the beginning on the Kindle ... I don't know. What do you think?
I completed Glass Houses in Thursday's wee hours and I had the feeling of sleep deprivation all of yesterday for my reward. I enjoyed it overall; the story simmered for 1/3 of the book, then the temperature picked up, with a full-on roiling boil at the end. I'll probably write up something later if my weekend allows. Unusual for me but I have a full social agenda this weekend and I don't anticipate getting much reading done.
Oh, and a big confession - I've only played Monopoly a few times in my life and that was years (and years) ago. I've read all the Booklikes-opoly 2019 posts (thanks so much, Moonlight Reader!!) and I think I'll be ready to start on Monday (May 20) but I'm sure there will be silly questions from me as soon as it gets underway. Y'all have been warned! = D
What are your reading plans for the weekend? Are you following a TBR list? Happy with where you're at?
Full disclosure - this collection of stories turned out to be more of a reread, as the first 11 are already included in the Pistols for Two collection. I read the latter collection in 2012, so I hope it’s understandable when I say I barely remembered some of the stories. This aside, they were all delightful romps as usual, with duels, thwarted elopements, incorrigible misses and, that Heyer mainstay, Nonpareils with their many-caped driving coats of white drab.
Have I mentioned yet this was a fun read? Before this collection, my last Georgette Heyer read was almost two years ago and I didn’t realize how much I’d missed her writing, with its exquisite detail and witty dialogue that just cracks me up :-)
Of all the Heyer novels and stories I know about, this collection is the only one I don't yet own. It first debuted at US$14.99 and now sells at US$9.99. As only three of the stories are new-to-me, I find it hard to justify buying the collection at that price. I'm (stubbornly) waiting patiently for a sale.
This is a collection of insightful and inspirational quotations from Martin Luther King, Jr’s (MLK) writings, sermons and speeches. Like any such collection, this is not an end-in-itself work but more of an opener for a deeper and more contextual dive into MLK’s life and work.
It’s a short collection, less than 20K words; the quotations take up about 55% of the book, with the rest of the space given over to Coretta Scott King’s introduction, a chronology of MLK’s life, and the Proclamation of MLK Day text.
The quotes are organized by subject headings, such as Racism, Peace, Civil Rights and the Community of Man; all are thought-provoking and some of my favourites are:
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.
I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.
A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.†
We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.
A doctrine of black supremacy is as evil as a doctrine of white supremacy.
The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason but with no morals.
Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.
There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God.
St. Augustine was right—we were made for God and we will be restless until we find rest in Him.
The belief that God will do everything for man is as untenable as the belief that man can do everything for himself. It, too, is based on a lack of faith. We must learn that to expect God to do everything while we do nothing is not faith but superstition.
(† this quote brings to mind Socrates’ “an unexamined life is not worth living”)
The books mentioned in the chronology as authored by MLK are:
It's been wonderful to return to Narnia and by the most direct route this time around. My first foray into that delightful realm was eons ago via audio dramatizations, and I listened to the books in publication order then. I always promised myself I would go back and read the actual books, and do so in chronological order. And so I stepped back in ...
I heartily enjoyed both books, but especially TLTWTW with its themes of hope, forgiveness, sacrifice, and restoration. Deep magic in a simple package.
Everyone plus the whole world have probably read the Chronicles of Narnia already, but if by some remote chance you haven't, I highly recommend that you remedy this oversight immediately. Pronto and ASAP. For therein lies magic deeper still.
Mary Roberts Rinehart is an author I've wanted to try for some time now and The Circular Staircase was a satisfying intro to her works. I like her writing style so far, tinged as it is with a little humour and irony.
"This is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, deserted her domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summer out of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysterious crimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy and prosperous."
The Circular Staircase was a quick and enjoyable read; I started on a Saturday and was done by the following day. It was also a tea & blanket read (a phrase I've stolen without shame from BrokenTune) - I had the flu (now recovering) and it helped keep my mind off my misery, at least when I wasn't blowing my nose for the 1000th time :(
The opening quote from the first paragraph caps everything nicely. Like her fellow city dwellers do in the summer, Rachel Innes takes her household, which includes her niece and nephew, Gertrude and Halsey, and her maid, Liddy, to the country house of Sunnyside, leased from the Armstrong family, presently out in California; the two families are acquainted with each other.
From almost day one, there are strange happenings in and around the house, with someone (a woman?) lurking outside, and inexplicable noises inside. Soon after, a man is murdered on the circular staircase, leaving Rachel and company with none of the peace promised by the retreat to the country:
"The peace of the country-- fiddle sticks!"
Aside from the murder, someone (or some persons?!) is trying very hard to get into the house, and both Gertrude and Halsey are keeping secrets. And where does the Armstrong family fit in all this?
The reveal of the murderer was a bit anticlimactic for me; I had had my suspicions but the way it was revealed and tied up was so low-key. To be fair, though, the murder and its resolution turn out to be almost secondary to the more confounding mystery of who is trying to get into the house and why.
I like the character of Rachel Innes and wish I could meet up with her again in other Rinehart books - she is not shrinking or melodramatic, and I enjoyed her often-times contentious relationship with her maid, Liddy:
"Liddy and I often desire to part company, but never at the same time."
All in all, a good read and I will certainly carry on with Ms Rinehart - The Circular Staircase was plucked from a collection of 22 books, 17 of which are mysteries. We have ample opportunity to get acquainted ;)
The photo is of Vigie Beach in Castries, St Lucia. George F L Charles Airport, the smaller of our two airports, is directly behind us.
This past Thursday and Friday were weird days; we had a midweek holiday and I kept thinking Thursday was Monday and Friday did not feel like itself.
May 1 is Labour Day (aka International Workers' Day) and we always celebrate it with a public holiday. So, on Wednesday, with our tools downed, we took to the beach to relax. It was a nice not-too-hot (but windy!) day and, a happy surprise, the beach wasn't all that crowded or noisy. On our way back home we treated ourselves to soft serve ice cream. Definitely a day well-spent.
How did you celebrate Labour Day? Do you get a public holiday?
After more than three years of reading my books any old how, creating a TBR list again has brought on a nice purposeful feeling. And how much nicer if I complete the whole thing ;)
For May 2019, I hope to complete:
Seven of these are from my paid TBR, and would be a score if I can finish them. The Louise Penny I'm very late in reading; when it first came out I wasn't in a good reading mindset and before I knew it another book had come out, and still another is due later this year in August. At least I have time to catch up without rushing.
The Georgette Heyer collection of stories was a serendipitous library find just now. I don't own it (I think that's the only one) but I've been waiting for a sale before I buy it. It came to mind as I was finalizing my TBR list. I checked my library, thinking no way they would have it but the little doubter was not rewarded, a happy turn of affairs. I know what I'll be doing tonight ;)
What are you most looking forward to reading this month?
I know it looks weird - the post before my latest (Apr 30) is from November 2015, a gap of over three years. I was here for a little while, met some wonderful people and had a blast. Then I started having some health issues and I took what I thought would be a short break that turned out to be longer. Also, around that time Booklikes was misbehaving, and I deleted all my non-review posts and all my shelves (which I now regret, of course) thinking I was done with here.
During my three-year plus absence, I took up mobile photography, resigned my job of over 15 years, took a year-long break, got another job, lost my father, my grandfather, one of my dearest friends and a cousin. Not necessarily in this order. I also read a lot.
From the end of 2015 to present, I read 304 books, including:
I'm back because I liked how my previous time on Booklikes helped me focus my reading on my paid TBR (instead of mostly freebies and library books), I met some wonderful people and hope to reacquaint with them (those who are still around) and also meet new friends. Plus, right here is a good space to organize reading projects. Here's hoping Booklikes doesn't crash and burn any time soon :P
Oh, and before I forget to mention it, my name is Yasmin. I'll put up a short 'about me' thingy soon.
... or so they say. It's my third attempt at this book and, trust me, the book is not the problem. I keep getting distracted by other things every time I pick it up. Hoping to complete it this time around *fingers crossed tightly*
"No one is aware that the world is on fire."
- Mother Maria
A quick, inspiring look at seven fascinating women who made a huge impact in their generation. While not comprehensive, it is neither superficial, but rather appetizing, in that it makes you want to go on to discover more about these women.
The book looks at women from the three major Christian traditions (Protestant (mostly), Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) and how their faith in God inspired and empowered them to do great works for the good of others. I had previous (and varying degrees of) knowledge of all these women, except for Mother Maria, aka Elizabeth Pilenko (maiden name), aka Elizabeth Kuz'mina-Karavaeva (from her first marriage), aka Elizabeth Skobtsova (from her second marriage), and aka Maria Skobtsova (from when she became a nun). In 2004 she was canonized by the Orthodox Church, becoming Saint Maria of Paris. Her varied names are only a hint of her complexity; she is easily the most interesting and fascinating of this small group of women.
The book also features:
The author, Eric Metaxas, wrote a previous book (titled, strangely enough, Seven Men ;p) and he was encouraged to write a similar one for women. The next step was deciding which women to highlight. In seeking out suggestions, he noticed that many people suggested women who were the first ones to do something that men had already done. I appreciated what he had to say about that:
"What struck me as wrong about these suggestions was that they presumed women should somehow be compared to men. But it seemed wrong to view great women in that way. The great men in Seven Men were not measured against women, so why should the women in Seven Women be measured against men? I wondered what was behind this way of seeing things, that women should be defined against men? Or that men and women should even be compared to each other?
Two interrelated attitudes seemed at play. First, men and women are in some ways interchangeable, that what one does the other should do. Second, women are in some kind of competition with men, and for women to progress they need to compete with men. This thinking pretends to put men and women on equal footing, but it actually only pits them against each other in a kind of zero-sum competition in which they usually tear each other down."
- from 'Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness' by Eric Metaxas
It was a pleasure meeting and becoming inspired by these women, to see in each life the awareness that not only is the world on fire, but each in their own way did something about it, because this is what love does - it acts (John 3:16). And, most of all, to be challenged: what am I doing about my own small burning part of the world?
(In expressing my appreciation of this book, I feel I must also give this small disclaimer, that I'm not endorsing everything these women believed (as revealed in the book, of course), because I find the theology of a few of them somewhat questionable, and the author gives no caveats but rather seems to embrace all as good. I would encourage Christians to read this one with discernment, as we should always be doing, anyway.)
I received this book free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.
outside the door
A beautiful, elegant collection of 81 haiku poems, most of them inspired by the winter season, though the other seasons are also represented. The majority are three-liners, but a small few are other lengths, including one, two and four lines:
the park bench seats two summer dreams
deserted tennis court
wind through the net
the daylight gone –
to her granddaughter
I love every single one, each evocative in some way or other. This is my second read through and, for some of the poems, the meaning remains fixed (like coffee in a paper cup), but a few have new or weightier significance. If you love haiku poems, get this. Also, I’d love some recommendations! I’m definitely buying this collection, Take-Out Window, edited by Gary Hotham.
one hand warms
(this is one whose meaning has evolved, infused with more, I think, gravitas)
”Here.” The boy handed Gamache the stick. “If anything bad happens to me, you’ll know what to do.” He looked at Gamache with deadly earnest. “I’m trusting you.”
Everyone is so used to nine-year old Laurent Lepage’s outlandish stories that when he finally tells the truth, that he’s found a giant gun with a monster (with wings) on it, in the woods, no one bats an eyelid. But someone believes and Laurent is found dead a couple days later in what initially looks like an accident but turns out to be murder. Who would kill a child? This has to be one of the most heart-wrenching questions ever, and the closer we got to the answer, the more unnerved I became.
The pacing was good, starting out slowly to set the groundwork, but taking off as soon as poor Laurent was found dead. The plot was great as usual, but somewhat ambitious, IMO – a child murder exposing events that took place about 30 years ago, even now with present and dire international repercussions, and yet, for the most part, contained in the small space of Three Pines, where much of the story takes place. So many monsters and so much darkness; it got a little claustrophobic at times. The identity of the murderer, if you do not allow yourself to be sidetracked by everything else that’s thrown out at you, isn’t hard to figure out. I was a little afraid, with all the diversions, Ms Penny would pull a jump-shark on me, so it was with relief I got safely, though not too shockingly, to the end.
There’s also a side story about a play written by a convicted serial murderer, and Gamache is adamantly against its production. This causes Reine-Marie to ask Clara a thought-provoking question: “You’re an artist,” said Reine-Marie. “Do you think a work should be judged by its creator? Or should it stand on its own?”, to which Clara responds: “I know the right answer to that. And I know how I feel. Would I want a painting by Jeffrey Dahmer, or to serve a meal from the Stalin family cookbook? No.”
The book incorporates details from at least one real life event and from the life and work of one real life person that I felt were well done. The details I found online about the event mentioned were horrifying, and they added to the overall dark feel of the story.
The usual characters are their usual great selves. Ruth is still rude and intrusive though we see new layers to her character in this one, things that explain more about the woman she is today. Clara seemed a bit off-color but that is to be expected from the events of the previous book; her artistic eye comes in handy in helping to expose another one of the book’s monsters - this one was a shocking twist. Lacoste is growing into her new role and Beauvoir is still maturing nicely (I’m liking him more and more). And we have a new protégé! Maybe it’s the distance of waiting some months for this book, compared to reading the previous 10 in about two weeks straight, but I found the character of Gamache a tad deified. While he’s quite humble himself, those around him, especially his former colleagues, have him firmly set on a pedestal. I don’t know how I feel about that. But I like how he’s starting to consider what next, as he’s had some time to heal. Many offers are coming in but Gamache is nothing if not deliberate, and Reine-Marie is taking it all in stride.
Overall, there’s a fantastical feel to the book, starting with Laurent and his absurd cry wolf stories, and the beasts and monsters uncovered by the investigation into his death. There was a lot of mask on, mask off going on from beginning to end. In all, I enjoyed this entry in the Armand Gamanche series and I’m eager for what’s next for Three Pines and its residents.
“Through the window he could see splashes of astonishing color in the forest that covered the mountains. The maple and oak and apple trees turning. Preparing. That was where the fall began. High up. And then it descended, until it reached them in the valley. The fall was, of course, inevitable. He could see it coming.”
“Oak walls. Ah, my soul! It has come soon!”
A traveler is caught out during a storm and is warned, by a fellow traveler, against seeking shelter from the old, dilapidated inn. They move on to a more welcoming refuge, where the helpful traveler gives the other a manuscript that will explain his warnings against the inn, which he calls a ‘charnel house’. The story itself starts out in 1775, during the unrest of the American Revolution. Edwin Urquhart visits the ironically named Happy-Go-Lucky Inn with his new bride, Honora; they only stay one night but it is enough to show Mrs Truax all is not well with the couple. Mrs Urquhart, while veiled, seems unwell and unhappy, and Edwin seems falsely jovial and uncaring of his wife’s comfort; he seems more concerned with an inexplicably large box he has brought with him. Edwin makes a tour of the available rooms and insists upon the least favorable one, the oak pallor with its stuffiness from disuse, because it’s on the ground floor and easier to move his great big box into.
In the night both the landlady and Burritt, her man-of-all-work, are wakened by a strangled shriek coming from the oak pallor. They investigate and both occupants of the room claim all is well.
The couple leaves the following morning and this would be the end of it, except for two things: Honora seems strangely happier and more energetic, and Burritt claims the big box was markedly lighter that morning than it was the night before. Both he and Mrs Truax can find nothing to account for these two changes and that makes them uneasy.
Sixteen years pass, and a new guest makes a startling revelation about the inn’s oak parlor, a revelation that causes Mrs Truax to reflect back on that long ago night of the Urquharts’ stay. From there, the story turns to the past, to the events leading up to the couple’s arrival at the inn, and then back to the present as the long-brewing consequences of that time come to a disastrous conclusion.
The story is told from the perspectives of different characters, through letters and journal entries, but all in the first-person POV. The manuscript given to the traveler is really Mrs Truax’s journal, with her own observations, but also includes letters from other characters, and in these letters are observations from other characters; think nesting bowls.
I liked this book more than I thought I would, and would’ve liked it even more if not for the overwrought, heavy-handed writing and the melodramatic characters. It also has a few paranormal elements, is not much of a mystery, and the plot is very contrived. Ah, fun stuff!
Mrs Daniels, housekeeper to Holman Blake, requests the help of the police in the possible abduction of the sewing girl. She is frantic about locating this missing girl but very sketchy on details about her: what is her background, and why was she staying in such a sumptuous room clearly unsuited for a servant. It is also apparent she knows more than she is revealing. Mr Blake is equally unhelpful, claiming no knowledge of the missing girl, and not being privy to much of the day-to-day workings of his household, a duty he leaves to Mrs Daniels. He is also an ‘important man’ in society, who cannot be bothered with such trivial matters, and must be handled with kid gloves by the police.
Through a friendship with a maid in the house, Q, one of the detectives on the case, learns that both Mrs Daniels and Mr Blake are exhibiting peculiar, unusual behavior, and takes to surveilling Mr Blake, who seems to be on an investigation of his own. This surveillance takes Q to a small town outside the city, where Mr Blake visits a house where no one is at home. Q searches the house and questions the locals, where he learns the house belongs to two bank robbers, the Schoenmakers, who recently escaped from prison. How did Mr Blake come to know these men and why is he visiting them?
As the story progresses, the disappearance of the sewing girl and Mr Blake’s visit to the Schoenmakers starts to connect, but in the first half you are completely bewildered as to what is even going on. The writing is chunky, the plot is good but sometimes needlessly convoluted, and the characters are eye-rollers – all usual things for Ms Green. All these things were expected, so no disappointments there. An OK read but nothing that can’t be passed over.
More than 75% of the food we (husband and I) eat is home-cooked, and we grow a few vegetables and herbs and have a few fruit trees. We aren’t health freaks but we are keen on healthy eating. So, much of this book was simply interesting without being anything of an epiphany.
The author’s relating of the history of food transformation (minus all the speculative evolutionary ‘millions/billions of years’ stuff, meh) and the science of present-day food preparation is quite fascinating. My favorite chapter is the one on Air, which deals with baking bread. There he goes into the history of white flour, which was very eye-opening. The book advocates the use of a sourdough starter for breads, and I’d love for us to look into that. We bake our own whole-wheat bread (my husband does, actually) but we use regular yeast. The other chapters were equally interesting but not to the point of wanting to test out.
His style is engaging; he mixes funny and serious very well, and his accounts of the cooks he met during his research make for lovely snapshots. Also, he relates scientific info in a way that doesn’t make your eyes glaze over. I would definitely read other books by Michael Pollan.
Some excerpts from Cooked:
“The premise of this book is that cooking—defined broadly enough to take in the whole spectrum of techniques people have devised for transforming the raw stuff of nature into nutritious and appealing things for us to eat and drink—is one of the most interesting and worthwhile things we humans do.”
“Cooked is divided into four parts, one for each of the great transformations of nature into the culture we call cooking. Each of these, I was surprised and pleased to discover, corresponds to, and depends upon, one of the classical elements: Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.”
“Taken as a whole, this is a “how-to” book, but of a very particular kind. Each section circles around a single elemental recipe—for barbecue, for a braise, for bread, and for a small handful of fermented items—and by the end of it, you should be well enough equipped to make it. (The recipes are spelled out more concisely in appendix I, in case you do want to try any of them.) Though all the cooking I describe can be done in a home kitchen, only a portion of the book deals directly with the kind of work most people regard as “home cooking.””
“Tongue taste is the straightforward chemical phenomenon that takes place whenever molecules make contact with taste buds, something that happens with any food as a matter of course. Tongue taste is the kind of easy, accessible flavor that any food scientist or manufacturer can reliably produce in order to make food appealing. “McDonald’s has tongue taste,” Hyeon Hee explained.
Hand taste, however, involves something greater than mere flavor. It is the infinitely more complex experience of a food that bears the unmistakable signature of the individual who made it—the care and thought and idiosyncrasy that that person has put into the work of preparing it. Hand taste cannot be faked, Hyeon Hee insisted, and hand taste is the reason we go to all this trouble, massaging the individual leaves of each cabbage and then folding them and packing them in the urn just so. What hand taste is, I understood all at once, is the taste of love.”
This is a new book (published Feb 2015) giving a concise, overall sweep of Christianity, from the Apostolic age to the present. It posits itself as "an ideal introductory survey for undergraduate students and any reader who desires to know more about the broad scope of Christianity" and I'm in complete agreement with that statement. It is accessible and well-written and should be beneficial to just about anyone (including non-Christians) who is interested in getting a general view of the shaping of Christianity through the ages.
So much fascinating stuff in there: the development the NT canon, the heresies, the persecution of Christians, the melding of Church and state (that creeped me out the most, to be honest), the Holy Roman Empire, the Reformation, the Christianization of the New World, modern Protestantism! I learned so much from reading this book; it provided much needed context and grounding for all the bits and pieces of Church history I’d absorbed here and there. I gained not only a greater appreciation for the Christians of the past but also a sober reinforcement that no man, movement or institution has a perfect theology. There were some great defenders of the faith who brought in their own aberrant doctrines that needed defending against. And that, gasp, my own theology may certainly have suspect bits scattered throughout. Yeah, sobering.
I felt the author did a great job of putting flesh on the information he provided, without resorting to speculation. I also felt he was fair in his presentation; he didn’t shy away from some of the more unsavory aspects of the Church’s history in general or, as he is a Baptist believer (like me), of Protestantism in particular.
One thing I was tempted to complain about at the beginning of the book, but I came to appreciate later, is the lack of footnotes. The author addresses this in the preface, that he chose to note only the primary source documents. I appreciated this later when I was tempted to visit the endnotes time and time again, which would’ve kept me at this book for another month at least. Just so much fascinating stuff to track down! Actually, about 35% of the book is allocated to endnotes, the bibliography, and various indices.
In summary, I believe this is an excellent resource and I recommend it to all lay Christians, and anyone else who is a fan of history but hasn’t yet explored this particular aspect. For my part, I see more indepth study of Church history in my future!
“Perhaps more than any other academic discipline within Christian education, church history is holistic and integrationist in nature. It encompasses the study of theology, ethics, philosophy, pastoral ministry, preaching, missions, and evangelism, as well as others. Church history helps us better understand Scripture because it is a further unfolding— through many cultures, times, and places, of biblical history— of the story of God’s working in the world among His people.”
– from the foreword by J. Bradley Creed,
Provost and Executive Vice President and Professor of Religion