Thursday, September 30, 2010

Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories

I first learned about Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu through Harriet Vane, the detective novelist love interest for Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy L Sayers' mystery stories. When Harriet returns to Oxford to help track down a poison pen in Gaudy Night, she uses research into Le Fanu's writings as a plausible cover for her return to college. Her interest sparked mine.

This collection of ghost stories, originally written in the mid- to late-1800s is a bit verbose and slightly dated and the work is a bit uneven. But for those of us who aren't looking for truly horrific ghost stories, these are just right. Perfect for snuggling under the covers late at night and giving oneself a mild case of the shivers. Some of the stories (for instance, "Dickon the Devil" and "The Vision of Tom Chuff") remind me of ghost stories told around the camp fire or at sleep-overs. Meant to make you just a little bit uncomfortable, but not enough to give you the screaming heebie-jeebies and prevent sleep. The best of the lot is the title story, "Madam Crowl's Ghost." It is the longest and the best thought out. The descriptions serve the story well and, unlike some of the stories which appear later in the book (but were written earlier), do not go on forever and bore the reader with too much of a good thing. And the final twist at the end of the story is nicely done. Over all, a pleasant read as I head into October and Halloween season. I read this as my spooky Halloween entry for the Fall into Reading Challenge. Three stars out of five.

Follow Friday 40 and Over!


I'm joining in for the first time in the Follow Friday 40 & Over blog hop (which is in its 19th edition). Sponsored by Never Growing Old, this blog hop asks: Are you a blogger over 40? Yeah, welcome to the club! Please join in the fun and get to know your fellow bloggers!!



The RULES to join in are very simple:

*Grab the button
*Add your link to the list on the blog site
*Visit as man blogs as you can
*Follow the ones you like (and comment to let them know you're following)

Almost Ready for a Give-Away!

I've been watching my numbers and I see that I'm creeping up on 100 Followers. As promised, once I reach that magic number, I plan on hosting another Give-Away. Tomorrow, our local Red Cross is having their annual Book Sale (one of the best book sales I've ever been to) and I plan on hunting for treasures to offer as prizes as well as looking for long-desired reads of my own.

So, stay tuned for exciting Give-Away news! Only 15 followers to go....

Booking Through Thursday: The Series & the Shark

This week's Booking Through Thursday question asks: If you read series, do you ever find a series "jumping the shark?" How do you feel about that? And, do you keep reading anyway?

First off, I was surprised that I'm in a minority...I actually got that reference. It's been a long time since I've seen "Happy Days," but I still remember the Fonz and the shark.

I do read series books. I don't know that I've ever read a series where it went seriously off the rails...but nearly all series have books that just don't quite meet the standard. As long as it's a one-off, then I can take a single book that's not up to par. But if the series keeps going downhill....then I'll probably quit. Occasionally, a series doesn't lose quality, I just get tired of the formula. I'm thinking of the popular "theme" series. Some authors carry their theme (needlework, scrapbooking, cooking, dog or cat involvement, etc.) very well. Others get into a formlaic rut and, while the first several entries in the series may be interesting, quirky, whatever, it soon becomes boring. Those are the series I most often abandon.

Give Away for the Book Obsessed


To celebrate the paperback release of Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, Meg at 1st Books is holding a Give Away of at least one copy. Enter to win by leaving a comment about any book you obssessively love on the main 1st Books blog post OR Better yet: link to the Give Away on your own blog and paste your post link into a comment on the post. Creating a link gives you a chance to win two copies--one for yourself and one to Give Away on your blog. Meg will draw a winner at noon Pacific Time on Tuesday, October 5--the paperback publication date!
My obsession is with Classic/Vintage British Mysteries. There is no way I'd ever let any of my Lord Peter Wimsey books out of my sight. Not any of the editons (and I have multiple editions of most of the novels). And the pocket size editions (published from the 30s through the 60s), don't even think about looking at, let alone touching. Those are mine! Mine! Mine! There's something about books from that era that just makes me a little crazy when it comes to possessing them.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ready for Another Challenge: Dueling Monsters Round Two


Hosted by Heather (Age 30+... A Lifetime of Books) and Jill (Fizzy Thoughts), The Dueling Monsters Round Two read-a-long is about to commence. The read-a-long is set to celebrate October and all things creepy.

This year the duel is between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Participants can sign up to read-a-long with Heather (Jekyll) or Jill (Dorian) OR if you're really ambitious do both. Go to the sites to sign up for some creepy fun!

I may be crazy, but I'm in for both!

WWW Wednesdays: Whatcha Reading?


WWW Wednesdays is Hosted By MizB over at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions....

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you recently finish reading?
*What do you think you'll read next?



Current Reads: Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. In 1888 Henry James wrote "There was the customary novel by Mr. Le Fanu for the bedside, the ideal reading in a country house for the hours after midnight." [These] are tales selected from Le Fanu's stories which mostly appeared in The Dublin University Magazine and other periodicals, and their haunting, sinister qualities still have an enormous appeal for the modern reader.



Changeless by Gail Carriger. The second in the steampunk series starring Alexia Tarbotti, the Lady Woolsey. [She] awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears--leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria. But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. Even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugle waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can.

Just Finished (click titles for reviews):
Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers)
Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie
Jane Eyre by Charolotte Bronte

Up Next:
The Divine Comedy III: Paradise by Dante (trans by Sayers & Barbara Reynolds) for The Really Old Classics Challenge & The Fall Into Reading Challenge
Castle Dor OR Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier for the Daphne Du Maurier Challenge
Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by Marion Chesney

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Read My Review: Banned Books


Read My Review is a chance for book bloggers to share new and old reviews, related to a theme. It is hosted by A Trillian Books and this week's theme (in honor of Banned Books Week) is Banned Books.

What you need to do:

*Find one of your reviews that fits this week's theme (new or old).
*Leave your link with Mr. Linky at the bottom of A Trillian Books' post.
*Visit some of the other reviews and leave a quality comment (a couple of sentences).
*Grab the button and post about Read My Review.

I chose I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (for full review, click title). I just recently read this for The Birth Year Challenge hosted by Hotchpot Cafe. So, I read it primarily because it was published in 1969. But I also chose it because I had never read anything by Maya Angelou before and wanted to. I had no idea that it had ever appeared on the Challenged Book list when I read it. It is quite open about some sexually disturbing topics, so obviously that's why the book banning brigade have it listed (not that I agree that it should be banned--I do NOT support book-banning!).

As I wrote at the end of my review: The raw emotion and sensitivity of this book made it a difficult read, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It is a powerful memoir of growing up black and female in the 30s and 40s.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Couples


This week at Top Ten Tuesday (brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish) the topic is your favorite couples in literature. I'm not all that hung up on romantic pairings. I've spent the better part of the day trying to come up with ten couples that just wow me. Can't do it. Here's what I have managed:

1. Harriet Vane and Lord Peter Wimsey: Dorothy L Sayers did her very best to produce an example of the perfect union. A marriage of the minds and spirits, as well as fiery romance (that comes late in the saga) where the couple are true partners. I love the interaction of Harriet and Peter.


2. Phryne Fisher and Lin Chung: Kerry Greenwood's 1920s free-spirit and private detective extraordinaire, Phryne is marvelous in her own right. But her enjoyment of her romantic interludes with her lover Lin Chung (as well as various others along the way in the series) is as delightful as it must be scandalous to the time period.


3. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth: Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel and these are my favorite Austen characters. One wishes Anne had not been persuaded at the outset...but then, I suppose, there would be no novel.

4. Kate Fansler and Reed Amherst: Another marriage of equals...in a true partnership. There is much affection between the characters of the Amanda Cross mystery series, but no ties that constrict. The books are worth it for the quotes I gather from the conversations between Kate and Reed.

5. Pam and Jerry North: This mad-cap detective couple (who beat Nick and Nora Charles--even the film versions--hands-down) are wonderful together. I am always on the look-out for the Lockridge books that I don't yet own or have not read.

6. Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes: Laurie R King has done what many may have thought could not be done...found a woman to outshine
the woman. Mary absolutely complements Holmes in every way and matches him wit for wit and deduction for deduction. A terrific series.

7. Miranda and Alan: from
Miranda by Grace Livingston Hill. Once upon a time, I was in a huge romance novel phase. I devoured the Hill books as well as Victoria Holt and others. This couple stands out. Alan is the (much older) black sheep of the town. Only Miranda whose child's heart has loved him from the time he defended her at school is the only one who believes him innocent of all that has been claimed about him. A well-worn plot, but this was the first time I ever encountered it and I loved it.

8. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester: a classic (and I just finished re-reading it, so it's fresh in my mind). I like Rochester's apparent brooding ways WAY more than Heathcliff's and I love how Jane shows in little ways that she's his equal in all but station until...but, reader, that would spoil the ending....


That's it can't come up with two more couples for anything. How about you? Who's on your list?

Jane Eyre: Over 40

I have just finished re-reading Jane Eyre--the re-read fitting in well with a couple of reading challenges I'm in the midst of. I hadn't thought much about this book for about 25 years or so. The last time I read this novel, I was young and hormonal and all caught up in the romance and gothic feel of the thing.

This time around, I'm still hormonal (but of a different variety), but what grabs my attention is Jane's independent nature. A nature that in her era is criticized as unnatural and "of the devil" (witness her aunt's tirades and Mr. Brocklehurst's announcement in front of the school). Heaven forbid that a young girl know and speak her own mind. Or that she recognize injustice and proclaim it. Jane's independent nature doesn't leave her when she leaves the school. She is ready to meet Mr. Rochester on his own verbal ground, sparring with him and proving herself his equal in every way that truly matters. Nevermind, the inequality in status.

Yes, the romance is still enthralling. I love bits like:

"I have told you reader, that I had learnt to love Mr. Rochester: I could not unlove him now, merely because I found that he had ceased to notice me--" AND

"Sacrifice! What do I sacrifice? Famine for food, expectation for content. To be privileged to put my arms round what I value--to press my lips to what I love--to repose on what I trust: is that to make a sacrifice? If so, then certainly I delight in sacrifice."

Charlotte Bronte can certainly weave the romantic tale. But within it she can also hide a bit of feminism. Jane making her own way. Jane following what she believes is right for her. Jane refusing to stand still for injustice. Jane showing herself every bit an intellectual equal (and an emotional superior, I think) to St. John.

A well-told tale that ages well. That is to say, it's one of the small number of favorites I've had in by-gone days that remain every bit as enchanting when I read them now. Jane Eyre over 40 is a delight. I gave her four stars when I last read her and she has earned the same again.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday


MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesday. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's a teaser from what my current read, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (p. 172):

"Well then, on that mercenary ground, will you agree to let me hector a little?"


"No, sir, not on that ground: but, on the ground that you did forget it, and that you care whether or not a dependent is comfortable in his dependency, I agree heartily."

Meet Me On Monday


Meet Me On Monday is a blogging meme hosted by Never Growing Old, as she says: "Blogging is a funny thing...we tell our most intimate thoughts for all to read and yet most of the time I find myself sitting and wondering, "who is this person!?" I know them...but yet I don't know them! I want to know who the person is behind all those words so I thought of a great way for all of us to "meet" each other!

Every Sunday she will post five
get to know you questions that we can copy and paste into our own Monday post and we can all learn a little more about each and every one of us!!"

To play along click on her meme and join up with the linky.


Here are today's questions and my answers:

1. How many TV’s do you have in your home? Two. And I rarely use them. Everything I watch is pre-recorded, but there are so many other things I'd rather do. Like read. Or work on my own novel. Or scrapbook. Or read. Or listen to music. Or read...(you get the idea).

2. What is on your bedside table (nightstand)? Lamp. Clock/Radio/CD Player. Papers I need to take care of. TBR books--plus current read.

3. How many pair of shoes do you own? Without going to the closet to count? Hmmm. Possibly 12-15.

4. Can you change a flat tire? In theory, yes. My dad made me learn and demonstrate before I was allowed to drive on my own. In actuality...it's been so long since I used the skill, I don't know.

5. Do you prefer sweet treats or salty treats? Either and both...at the proper time. If I have to choose, then I lean towards sweet.

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading, a bookish meme hosted by Book Journey, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. So hop on over to Journey and join in...and leave a comment here so I can check out what you are reading.

Here's mine:

Books Read Last Week:
Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers
Soulless by Gail Carriger
The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans Dorothy L Sayers)
Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

Books I'm Reading Now:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Books that spark my interest this week:
The Divine Comedy III: Paradise by Dante Alighieri (trans Sayers & Barbara Reynolds)
Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
(I'm still determined to get to these first two)
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by Marion Chesney

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Catch-Up Read-a-Thon Wrap-Up



I have just finished up the Fall Catch-up Read-a-thon hosted by Michelle at A True Book Addict. Although I did read four books as anticipated, I didn't quite meet my goal. My fourth book was intended to be The Divine Comedy III: Paradise by Dante--but as you can see below, I didn't make it. I did give my self an extra few hours on the read-a-thon. My co-rec softball team needed me for a double-header this afternoon and I decided I deserved the extra time for not letting the team down. (It's 8 pm somewhere...right?) This was a great read-a-thon...really made me keep working on the first two books of The Divine Comedy.

Here's my list. Books read have the date and reviews may be found by clicking on the titles.

1. The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans Dorothy L Sayers) (read 9/26/10)
2. Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers (read 9/20/10)
3. The Divine Comedy III: Paradise by Dante Alighieri (trans by Sayers & Barbara Reynolds)
4. Soulless by Gail Carriger (read 9/22/10)
5. Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie (read 9/26/10)

Cat Among the Pigeons


"Another term has begun at Meadowbank, a prestigious, well-respected British girls' school. The indomitable headmistress is preparing to retire and name her successor. There is a disconcertingly mature Middle Eastern princess among the students and several new staff members in residence. And a brand-new sports pavilion is the pride of the campus.
But the school year suddenly takes a deadly turn when one of the teachers is found shot to death. As the investigation ensues, it becomes clear that the killer was not an outsider—and equally clear that no one at Meadowbank is who he or she seems to be. It is up to Hercule Poirot to determine who is who—and, more importantly, what has drawn the killer to the school—before anyone else falls victim to the cat among the pigeons."
Dame Agatha never ceases to entertain. This book has it all...international espionage, missing jewels, kidnapping...and, of course, murder. It was truly delightful to take a break from Dante's Divine Comedy for a little mystery and mayhem in a British girls' school. Working in education myself, I always enjoy a good bit academic murder. Hercule Poirot comes in late to the game, but when he does the "little grey cells" are firing on all cylinders and he soon gets right to the heart of the matter. As always, Dame Agatha pulls off a bit of sleight of hand and had me suspecting the wrong person. One of these days, I'll guess correctly. Four stars out five.

Dante's Purgatory

After what seems like forever, I have finished Dante's The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory (trans by Dorothy L Sayers). This was a much more difficult read for me. First of all, there is less action. In Hell, there is constant movement from level to level and Virgil and Dante are continually observing punishment in action. There is also, of course, the horrible fascination with watching the punishment fit the crime. Because Hell is set in eternity, there is no time and therefore no time limit on action.

In Purgatory, the movement is less and, in fact, is even limited by the passing of time. Souls working their way through Purgatory are not allowed to move upward on the mountain at night, so Dante and Virgil are forced to stop several times on their journey. Purgatory was also a bit more challenging for me, a Protestant, since I was not familiar with the doctrine. Sayers does an excellent job explaining the doctrine of Purgatory in the introduction and clarifying some mistaken notions that many have. Again, without her introductory passages and excellent notes, I would have been lost.

So far, I would say the Divine Comedy is a beautifully done allegory representing the journey of the soul from sin to knowledge of and repentance of that sin to the eventual acceptance into Heaven. A bit difficult for those of us who aren't inclined to the Classics, but lovely poetry and a well-executed translation go a long way to making it more palatable. Three and a half stars out of five.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Book Beginnings


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do or do not like the sentence. Here's my latest:




The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans Dorothy L Sayers)

For better waters heading with the wind
My ship of genius now shakes out her sail
And leaves that ocean of despair behind;

For to the second realm I tune my tale,
Where human spirits purge themselves, and train
To leap up into joy celestial.

The Friday 56


The Friday 56 is a bookish mem which I have seen credited to Storytime with Tonya and The Bookaholic Zone. Whoever's responsible, it's really easy (and fun!) to participate.

*Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
*Turn to page 56 and Find the fifth sentence.
*Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section below.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog and either Storytime with Tonya or The Bookaholic Zone (or both, if you like).
*Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST

Here's mine from my current read The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers). For the purposes of this meme, I am using page 56 of the actual text by Dante rather than material from the long introduction:

Look at the angel over there, and how
He moves to come to us; look how the day's
Sixth handmaiden resigns her office now.

Adorn with reverence both thy mein and face,
That he may joy to speed us up the mount;
Think that it dawns but once, this day of grace.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hippity Hop to the Used Book Shop


...Or anywhere that has books. We're looking at Friday, so that means that it's time for the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy-For-Books. It's a time to talk about blogging topics and to venture out on the internet and visit other blogs. Visit the link to join in.


This week's question:
When you write reviews, do you write them as you are reading or wait until you have read the entire book?

Most of the time I wait until I've finished the book. I let my thoughts simmer a while and thenput them together in what I hope is a coherent fashion. One in a while a brilliant (at least to me) thought occurs while I'm reading and I may jot that down to include in the final review. But that's fairly rare.

How about you? How do you do your reviews?

Booking Through Thursday


Here is this week's Booking Through Thursday questions: What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying? Would you recommend it? (And by all means, discuss everything if you're reading more than one thing!)

At the moment I'm working diligently on Dante's The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory (trans by Dorothy L Sayers). I chose it for several reasons. The complete work has been on my TBR list for a looooooong time. It will help me fulfill several reading challenges (including The Fall Into Reading Challenge hosted by A Chick Who Reads and The Really Old Classics Challenge). The Divine Comedy is a difficult read for me simply because I'm not really into 14th C literature. But the translation is very good and the poetry and imagery are beautiful. So, despite the difficulty, I am enjoying it and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the classics or good poetry.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Read My Review: Supernatural


Read My Review is a chance for book bloggers to share new and old reviews, related to a theme. It is hosted by A Trillian Books. This week's theme is the Supernatural.


What you need to do:

*Find one of your reviews that fits this week's theme (new or old review).
*Leave your link with Mr. Linky at the bottom of A Trillion Books' post.
*Visit some of the other reviews and leave a "quality" comment (a couple of sentences).
*Grab the button and post about Read My Review.

This week's theme is very fortuitous. I just finished reading Soulless by Gail Carriger. (click title to go to the review.) This is a rare foray for me into the realm of the supernatural. Vampires and werewolves aren't my usual fare.

Soulless


As I mentioned in my WWW Wednesday post, I kind of stumbled on to Soulless by Gail Carriger. I found Carriger's books mentioned on another blog site (Adventure Into Romance) and it sounded so good, I just had to run right out to the library and grab the first two of the series. This series stars Alexia Tarabotti, a preternatural--born without a soul, and takes place in an alternate Victorian era where vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures have been accepted into mainstream British society. After accidentally killing a vampire who so forgot the rules of etiquette to neglect to ask before attempting to bite her neck, Alexia finds herself drawn further and further into a plot that involves the disappearance of known vampires and werewolves and the appearance of unknowns. Who is behind these disappearances and to what purpose? Soon Alexia finds that she knows more about these questions than may be quite safe. Helping Alexia get to the bottom of the mystery (and vice versa), we have Lord Macon (the loud, messy, gorgeous Alpha male of the London werewolves). When these two forceful characters get together, the sparks fly. In more ways than one. The romantic interplay is also a draw for this series.

This book is way outside my usual comfort zone...I don't usually do the supernatural/steampunk. But the description on the back of the book and the fact that it plays on one of my favorite time periods lured me right in. And I'm glad it did. This was such a fun book and a fast read. Alexia Tarabotti is a very forthright young woman and holds her own with the Alpha male of the werewolves as well as bearding the queen of the local vampires in her den. Cliches may abound, but they are used to such humorous effect that they don't jar the nerves.

One thing that does bother me though....what's up with her posture on the cover? People just don't stand that way.

If you're looking for something a little bit Victorian, a little bit sassy, a little bit sexy, and a whole lot of fun, then this just may be the series for you. The vampires don't sparkle...but a few of them do wear lace. Three out of five stars on Visual Bookshelf.
This book also qualifies for Reading At The Beach's A-Z Wednesday. This week's letter is "G." To play along, you read a book from your stacks where the author's name (first or last) begins with the posted letter. Then go to the link and post your review in the comments. Go check out what other bloggers have read. And have fun!

WWW Wednesdays: Whatcha Reading?




WWW Wednesdays is Hosted By MizB over at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions....

*What are you currently reading?
*What did you recently finish reading?
*What do you think you'll read next?

Current Reads: Soulless by Gail Carriger. I found this one as a result of browsing the Teaser Tuesday posts. Shelley Munro over at
Adventure Into Romance had posted her teaser sentences from Changeless, the second book in this series. It looked so good that I just had to run to the library and get both of them. Here's the blurb from the back of Soulless: "First she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster who se father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette. Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia [Tarabotti] accidently kills the vampire--and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe that Alexia is responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and to they have treacle tart?"



What I'm Supposed to be Reading: The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers. Having just finished Hell, I'm having a hard time getting into this one. This is my next read for several of the challenges I've signed up for. I suppose I shouldn't have let the Carriger books distract me, but they are so fun (at least Soulless is so far)!



Just Finished Reading (click titles for reviews):
The Divine Comedy I: Hell by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers)
Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers

Up Next:
The Divine Comedy III: Paradise by Dante Alighieri (trans by Sayers & Barbara Reynolds)
Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Miss Tonks Turns to Crime by Marion Chesney

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday


This week at Top Ten Tuesday (brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish) the topic is your Top Ten Favorite Book Quotes!!!!!

This is going to be a bit hard for me. Not to come up with ten. That's no problem at all, but which ten??? I collect quotes from the books I read like ships collect barnacles. One of the criteria that works into how a good a book is for me is "did I gather any quotes from it?" I have been gathering quotes of all sorts from all kinds of places for eons (well, at least since junior high). I guess I'll just go to my notebook where the most recent are and go from there. So, without further ado, in no particular order, and taking them as they come:

1. A strong personality comes into the world, touches some people, infuriates others, then goes out again. The absent one remains present to those people. Evenings at Five by Gail Godwin (p. 20)

2. And so, wisely no doubt, I left philosophy to my brother, and returned to literature, which did and still does, tell us best what the world consists of. It can also tell us how best to live in that world, though it does so most effectively when appearing not to do so. Nothing to Be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes (p. 148)

3. Two loving hearts looking at each other say more things than all the tongues of this Universe could express in a day-- The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco (p. 158)

4. For better or worse, somebody has noticed you. And there's no way now to get yourself unnoticed. The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry (p. 3)

Bonus: ...the world is unkind to the shoeless and frolicsome. (Berry; p. 33. I like this one simple for its whimsy.)

5. Captain, it's my general philosophy that in a world rife with absurdity, an arched eyebrow and an ironic aside are sometimes the only defenses against going stark raving mad. The Hindenburg Murders by Max Allan Collins (p. 78)

6. I have enough problems all my on my own. No need to go out of my way looking for people who are only going to confuse me even more. I Been There Before by David Carkeet (p. 33)

7. He charmed me in the way that all true charmers do: he made me feel I was the only person who mattered to him. Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man's Smile by Gyles Brandreth (p. 68)

8. ...being successful in life depends on two gifts, and two only. One is to know where to go for anything you want to get done; the other is to be able to get it done for you. Death Under Sail by C. P. Snow (p. 67)

9. It is not a pleasant prospect to be book-less. The Murder of My Aunt by Richard Hull

10. My dear Markham, you're far too logical. It's your legal training, of course. But the world is not run by logic. I infinitely prefer to be emotional. Think of the masterpieces of poetry that would have been lost to humanity if their creators had been logicians. The Dragon Murder Case by S. S. Van Dine (pp. 44-5)


Mini-Challenge Fall Catch Up Read-A-Thon


In addition to the Read-a-Thon, The True Book Addict is running a mini-challenge.The task : In honor of Banned Books Week--go to the American Library Association (ALA) banned book page, look over the Frequently Challenged Books, pick on that you have read and tell why you read it, what your thoughts, and anything else you might want to share. Then add your info to the linky.

I chose I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (for full review, click title). I just recently read this for The Birth Year Challenge hosted by Hotchpot Cafe. So, I read it primarily because it was published in 1969. But I also chose it because I had never read anything by Maya Angelou before and wanted to. I had no idea that it had ever appeared on the Challenged Book list when I read it. It is quite open about some sexually disturbing topics, so obviously that's why the book banning brigade have it listed (not that I agree that it should be banned--I do NOT support book-banning!).

As I wrote at the end of my review: The raw emotion and sensitivity of this book made it a difficult read, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It is a powerful memoir of growing up black and female in the 30s and 40s.

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

*Grab your current read.
*Open to a random page.
*Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.
*Be careful not to include spoilers! (Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don't want to ruin the book for others.)
*Share the title and author, too, so other TT participants can add the book to their TBR lists if they like your teasers!

I'm going to cheat a little bit and do two. I just finished Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers and I just have to share something from this book. One of my all-time favorite reads! Here we go from page 75:

It was natural that the conversation should turn to the subject of murder. Nothing goes so well with a hot fire and buttered crumpets as a wet day without and a good dose of comfortable horrors within. The heavier the lashing of the rain and the ghastlier the details, the better the flavour seems to be.

And from the book I'm just starting, The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Aligheiri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers) page 75 of the edition, which includes a hefty introduction (actually page 3 of the work itself):

I've shown him Hell with all its guilty herd,
And mean to show him next the souls who dwell
Making purgation here beneath thy ward.

How I have brought him through, 'twere long to tell;
Power from on high helps me to guide his feet
To thee, to see and hear and mark thee well.


Strong Poison (Dorothy L Sayers)

I love Dororthy L Sayers. I can't say it any better than that. I could read her Lord Peter Wimsey novels any time and I've already read them many times (more than I can count). I reach for Sayers when I need a pick-me-up, a soothing read, good writing, great quotes and references, a good dose of golden age mystery, any or all of the above. I also reach for Sayers when the Fall Into Reading Challenge calls for me to "Re-read a book you consider an old friend." My only quibble with the Wimsey books is that I have already read them all and I have no new stories to look forward to. Oh to be in the position to pick up a Sayers for the first time--that would be bliss.
Strong Poison marks the beginning of real changes in the Wimsey character. Prior to this he comes across as a bit of a Bertie Wooster type--but with brains. Starting with this novel and his romance with Harriet Vane, Wimsey begins to develop more and more layers. I love watching Wimsey and the romance develop over the course of four books.
The story begins with Harriet Vane on trial for her life. Accused of murdering her former lover, things look mighty black for the detective novelist until Miss Climpson, "a tough, thin, elderly woman with a sound digestion and a militant High Church conscience of remarkable staying power," decides that Miss Vane did not do it and will not let the jury convict her. A new trial is called and Lord Peter, who has in the course of the trial both decided that Harriet is innocent and that he loves her, has about 30 days to find new evidence to prove her innocence.
What follows is an absolutely delightful investigation which involves everything from teaching a legal secretary how to pick locks to Miss Climpson's posing as a medium to find a missing will. The novel contains some of the best quotes and this is one of my all-time favorites from Wimsey's first visit to Miss Vane in prison:
(Harriet Vane) "But, by the way, you're bearing in mind, aren't you, that I've had a lover?"
(Lord Peter) "Oh, yes. So have I, if it comes to that. In fact, several. It's the sort of thing that might happen to anybody. I can produce quite good testimonials. I'm told I make love rather nicely--only I'm at a disadvantage at the moment. One can't be very convincing at the other end of a table with a bloke looking in at the door."
I could write pages and pages...but not nearly as well as Miss Sayers. I'll just leave it at this: If you enjoy good prose by an intelligent writer then you'll want to read this series. Start with Whose Body? and work your way through to get the full effect of Lord Peter's development. Five out five stars.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's Monday: What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading, a bookish meme hosted by Book Journey, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. So hop on over to Journey and join in...and leave a comment here so I can check out what you're reading.


Here's mine:

Books Read Last Week (for a review click the title):
Lady Fortescue Steps Out by Marion Chesney
The Divine Comedy 1: Hell by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers)

Books I'm Reading Now:
The Divine Comedy II: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans by Sayers)
Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers (I think I'm going to need a murder break from Dante)

Books that spark my interest this week:
The Divine Comedy III: Paradise by Dante Alighieri (trans by Sayers & Barbara Reynolds)
Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories by Sheridan Le Fanu

Both of these are carry-overs from last week. Didn't get as much read as I planned.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Divine Comedy 1: Hell

Well, I have now been to hell and back. Not quite literally, but given how far out of the norm 14th C literature is for me...it was a pretty difficult read. Dorothy L Sayers' translation of The Divine Comedy 1: Hell by Dante Alighieri is tremendous. Her attempt to maintain the terza rima rhyme scheme is beautiful and the overall feel of the work is haunting. She also has provided copious notes explaining the political background and giving details on the figures Dante encounters on his journey through hell. Without these notes, I would have been lost.

Of course, most literate people have the general idea of Dante's Inferno...that hell is divided up into various levels starting with the least of sins to the most vile. It was quite a trip to finally read in detail the punishments set in store for transgressors. And quite interesting to see how the "punishment fit the crimes." But it was also interesting to find that Dante's work was not just meant as a warning of what awaits the unrepentant in the hereafter, but it is also a warning about the workings of this life. Dante was speaking directly to those in power at the time....warning them against using that power unwisely or selfishly.

This was a daunting read for me...but I intend to keep soldiering on. Next up, Purgatory.

I'm not quite sure how to rate this one....four stars out of five seems about right--for being a classic, for Sayers' terrific translation, for the awesome imagery, and for knocking me off the laurels of my English degree.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy 1: Hell by Dante Alighieri (trans Dorothy L Sayers). Oh my. Okay. This is where the former English major realizes just how rusty she is at all this classic literature jazz. Where she realizes that she really needs to get off her literary duff and read more heavy duty tomes and just maybe find herself a reading group to discuss these things with. 'Cuz, man, am I finding this heavy going and trying to make myself digest all the allegorical wisdom is giving me a mental tummy ache.

Am I enjoying it? Sure thing. Am I glad I'm doing it? You betcha. Am I going to be able to write an intelligent review when I finish my journey through hell? Um.....we'll just have to see. I'm a little over half-way finished and I'm still not sure what I'm going to be saying. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Friday 56


The Friday 56 is a bookish meme which I have seen credited to Storytime with Tonya and The Bookaholic Zone. Whoever's responsible, it's really easy to participate.

*Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
*Turn to page 56 and Find the fifth sentences.
*Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section below.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog and either Storytime with Tonya or The Bookaholic Zone (or both, if you like).
*Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

Here's mine from my current read The Divine Comedy 1: Hell by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers). For the purposes of this meme, I am using page 56 of the actual text by Dante rather than material from the introduction:

The grave-slabs all were thrown back and upturned,
And from within came forth such fearful crying,
'Twas plain that here sad tortured spirits mourned.

The Friday Hop


It's time once again for the Friday Book Blogger Hop. The Hop is hosted by Crazy for Books and the goal is to get bloggers out and about on the web, meeting and greeting new bloggers and old friends. Let's get hoppin'....


This week we are honoring Book Blogger Appreciation Week, so we're being asked to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!


Here are some of my favorites (and I'm sure I'm going to miss some...):

CMash Loves To Read: Beautiful layout; interesting reviews; Table Talk Tuesday
Dead White Guys: Insightful and hilarious reviews
English Major's Junk Food: First book blog I ever followed, great reviews
Hotchpot Cafe: Home of the Birth Year Reading Challenge--best challenge I've done
I'd So Rather Be Reading: Home of some great give-aways (especially the "Fictional Men Never Let You Down" t-shirt!
Lady Scribble's Book Lounge: Terrific Reviewer and fellow blogger
Roof Beam Reader: Interesting and eclectic reviewer
The Reading Ape: Terrific posts; intelligent, humorous and interesting reviews
What Red Read: Love the background and her mix of interesting & eclectic posts and nifty reviews

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Beginnings


Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Becky at Page Turners. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading. If you like, share with everyone why you do, or do not, like the sentence (thanks to Rose City Reader for inspiring this meme). I'm getting my Friday in just a little bit early....



The Divine Comedy 1: Hell
by Dante Alighieri

(trans. Dorothy L Sayers)

Midway this way of life we're bound upon,

I woke to find myself in a dark wood,

Where the right road was wholly lost and gone.






This is a big challenge for me. I am going WAY out of my comfort zone to read this for a couple of the Reading Challenges that I signed up for. The Divine Comedy has been on my TBR list for a looooong time and I'm finally going cross it off! This par
ticular edition, translated by Sayers, is broken up into three books (covering the three sections: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise). Right now all my friends can say that I've gone to hell. But with Virgil as my guide...I'm on my way to heaven.

Booking Through Thursday: Day & Night


This week's Booking Through Thursday question is short and to the point:

Do you divide your books into day and night reads? How do you decide?

My answer is short and sweet as well....No. To elaborate: the only reason I might is if I read horror or intense thrillers or really bloody/gory murder mysteries. As a general rule, I don't read that sort of thing. I will read whatever I happen to be reading whenever I can snag the time to read--day, night, lunch, breaks, whenever.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More Awards!


Thanks to BookQuoter over at A Thousand Books with Quotes I am the proud recipient of more Blog Awards. To accept these awards you must link back and thank the person who recognized you and then ten questions/tell ten things about yourself. The best part--after answering the questions, you get to pass the awards on to your favorite bloggers.

First, she once again blessed me with the "Life is Good" Award. I received this one earlier (my first award!) and will now accept again...with the same 10 answers.

1. If you blog anonymously are you happy doing it that way; if you are not anonymous do you wish you had started out anonymously so you could be anonymous now? I've been full-on from the start. Booksa are one are of my life that I'm not shy about. So I have no problem putting myself out there just as I am.
2. Describe one incident that shows your inner stubborn side. I think most of my family & good friends would agree that there's nothing "inner" about my stubborn side. I'm stubborn from a long line of stubborn (my dad's side of the family--and, yes, they know I say that). I'm the only one who is not too stubborn to admit it.
3. What do you see when you really look at yourself in the mirror? A middle-aged (can that be right?) woman who is more content with herself than she ever was in the first 30 years of her life. Very comfortable with who I am...although there's always room for improvement.

4. What is your favorite summer cold drink? Lemonade or Pink Lemonade.
5. When you take time for yourself, what do you do? Read (of course). Blog. Work on my novel. Scrapbook.

6. Is there something you want to accomplish in your life? Publish the aforementioned novel. Travel (specifically to the British Isles as well as other places). Perhaps go back to college for a Master's Degree.

7. When you attended school, were you the class clown, the class overachiever, the shy person, or always ditching? The shy, academic overachiever--always with my nose in a book.

8. If you close your eyes and want to visualize a very poignant moment in your life what would you see? Oh dear, I don't know. I don't spend a lot of time looking back. I'm more focused on the future and now. In that order. I should probably think more about what "is" rather than what might be coming.

9. Is it easy for you to share your true self in your blog or are you more comfortable writing posts about other people or events? Well, considering that my blog is a book-blog, I'm mostly writing about other "people" and their "events." Hopefully, I come through... with my thoughts and sense of humor...I do try to get that in there.

10. If you had the choice to sit down and read or talk on the phon, which would you do and why? Read. No contest. I hate talking on the phone...unless it's my best friends, then I can talk for hours. But I'd much rather sit down with someone in person.
Now I will pass this award on:


The next two Awards require that I share ten things about myself.

1. I'm an only child. Spoiled...but not rotten. I think.
2. I have sung with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir in NYC (twice).
3. When I'm not riding the graduate secretary desk in the English Department, I'm whacking softballs around the field with our departmental co-rec softball team.
4. I wanted to be an Olympic figure skater or an author when I grew up. Working on the second one...that skating thing, not gonna happen.
5. I do not watch cable tv at all. Don't ask me who I think will win Idol or who will get kicked off the island next. No clue.
6. Speaking of...my favorite board game is Clue (I'm a mystery-lover, go figure.)
7. My favorite season is Fall. I love the colors on the trees, the crisp air, wearing sweaters.
8. I love to camp. I've been camping since my parents took me in my bassinet. I just wish it weren't so much work (putting up the tent, carting the gear)...but it's so worth it once everything's set up.
9. I am still in mourning for Mason's Rare & Used Book Store. Once upon a time in a little town called Wabash there was an AWESOME used book store. Mr. Mason would hold "happy hour" on Fridays and I could walk out of there with a pile of books that I could barely see over in exchange for my tiny allowance. Then Mason's went away (out east where the rare books are--or so rumor had it). After a few years, he came back and set up shop in Lebanon. I was back in book-lover's heaven. Until 3 years ago when he retired for good. Best used book store EVER. I'm still looking for something even close.
10. I have been a Scout mom for ten years. Assistant Den Leader. Going on extraordinary camp outs (Rocky Mountains, Boundary Waters in Minnesota). Helping my son on a mad-dash to Eagle Scout. (He's waiting on his final Board of Review--almost there!)


And my choices to recieve both of these awards:

WWW Wednesdays: Whatcha Reading?


WWW Wednesdays is hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading.

To Play along, just answer the following three questios...



*What are you currently reading?
*What did you rencently finish reading?
*What do yo think you'll read next?



Current Read: The Divine Comedy: Hell by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers). With Virgil, the ultimate tour guide, in the lead, I'm going to follow Dante as he plunges through the circles of Hell...checking out the heretics and pagans, gluttons and seducers.




Recently Finished: Lady Fortescue Steps Out by Marion Chesney (click title for review). The unconventional life of poor relations in Regency England. Normally poor relations are shuffled around among the more prosperous of the family often destined to be companions to demanding elderly women. Lady Fortescue comes up with a daring plan to start a hotel run by poor relations like herself.




Up Next: The Divine Comedy: Purgatory by Dante Alighieri (trans by Dorothy L Sayers). I plan to continue my journey through Dante's Christian allegory.

Wish I Was Here

J.G. at the Hotchpot Cafe is making me long for other places.
Right now I'd rather be here:


Emerald Lake, Rocky Mt. National Park, CO


Or here:

Boundary Waters in MN


Or even here:
Lounge chair under my sprawling maple tree
So, where would you rather be today?