The better to see you, my dear
Review
4.5 Stars
Surprised me
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

I was not expecting to find such a flawed, three-dimensional cast and a sad grim tone in a short, children's book. I don't know why, really, since I've come across both of those separately often enough in them (Dark Materials, Little Princess) paired with the big questions too. Specially given the fact that I've been a heavy reader since my tweens, and a firm believer in that Cabal's quote "when I want to write something that I think adults will have trouble understanding, I write children books" (I'm paraphrasing, I don't have that good a memory, and she likely borrowed too).

 

Here is the deal: this was way dramatic than I expected. And when I say dramatic, I mean angst, grief, homesickness, the loneliness of being an outsider. Really sad. Also maddening.

 

It is maddening because human nature is maddening. And because everyone, MC included, are flawed people with some good qualities and reasonable ideals and opinions and stances, and some appallingly wrong mixed in, so even with the best intentions they rub the wrong way and clash, misunderstand, work at cross-purpose. And there is always a little bitch witch shit ready to hate.

 

It was an interesting read even before the context of publishing-time kicks in (though I suspect there were some interesting witch-hunt related things coming out then... wasn't The Crucible a contemporary of McCarthyism too?)

 

At any rate, it was a really good book (totally deserves those awards), and it ended all sweet, happy and neat.

 

Hey! I keep missing my read for making another bingo. At this point, I'm not even pretending to curve my mood-reading. (There is also the bit where there is no magic here, but I'll let the title excuse my being misled)

Review
4 Stars
Bittersweet is such an odd word for this, yet...
The Return of Sherlock Holmes -  Arthur Conan Doyle

I'd never read this collection before, and I'm happy to say I liked this one about as much as Adventures (which is to say, among favourite Holmes').

 

There is this sense of deep friendship that permeates it and also growth. Holmes has changed as time passed, taking more care of what he divulges once he solves the mystery, he's more... empathetic I guess. Oh, and he has stopped doing drugs.

 

It might be that I was primed by the first story. I felt angry at the detective for concealing his continuing living from Watson, even as I grasped his pragmatism, but I reached dismay when I realized Watson was now a widower. Holy shit, the man had to have had some terrible three years there.

 

But whatever I though of Holmes, I could read in Watson's frame his care, and maybe the same tether that saved him in A Study in Scarlet. And if I got fanciful, I might imagine Watson's bereavement is recent, and Sherlock picked a good time to show himself.

 

Because those are some long years of friendship folks (my maths say 16 from A Study to Abbey Grange), and the bits where Watson points to them being middle aged men have their bittersweet culmination in the mention on the final story of Holmes having retired.

 

And hell, I'm feeling like bumping Memoirs' stars now.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 75 out of 256 pages.
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare

Huh...

 

This is shaping as quite the bleak thing for a children's book. My compliments to the author for not shying from serious issues.

 

Also, I'm having some flashbacks to The Little Princess.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 7 out of 362 pages.
The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart

Gertrude came out was nothing but a succession of sitting up late at night to bring her home from things, taking her to the dressmakers between naps the next day, and discouraging ineligible youths with either more money than brains, or more brains than money. Also, I acquired a great many things: to say lingerie for under-garments, "frocks" and "gowns" instead of dresses, and that beardless sophomores are not college boys, but college men. Halsey required less personal supervision, and as they both got their mother's fortune that winter, my responsibility became purely moral. Halsey bought a car, of course, and I learned how to tie over my bonnet a gray baize veil, and, after a time, never to stop to look at the dogs one has run down. People are apt to be so unpleasant about their dogs.

 

Oh, my God! I laughed so much at this page! I got some funny looks at the train-station.

 

Halloween Bingo 2018 (tracking post)

Called Squares

 

Classic Horror; Cryptozoologist; Cozy Mystery; New Release; Southern Gothic;
Terrifying Women; A Grimm Tale; Modern Masters of Horror; Creepy Carnivals; Relics and Curiosities; Murder Most Foul; Amateur Sleuth; Genre: Suspense; Supernatural; Ghost Stories; Doomsday; Shifters; 13; Terror in a Small Town; Darkest London; Gothic; Genre: Horror; Fear the Drowning Deep; Spellbound;

 

 

Links for easier access

 

Master-post list of sugestions managed by Murder by Death.

Bingo squares cut 1 & 2

List of Participants

My Card (behind, but having a blast)

 

 

 

Book Picks (mood reading is messing with strategy)

 

Doomsday: Children of Men by P. D. James (headstart)

Classic horror: The Yellow Wall-paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1/9)

Fear the Drowning Deep: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (8/9)

Terror in a small town: The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (11/10)

Baker Street Irregulars: Vecinos y detectives en Belgrano by María Brandán Aráoz (3/9)

 

Darkest London: The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthir Conan Doyle

Gothic: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe; The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole; The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins; Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Ghost Stories: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Genre: Horror: The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty; Feed by Mira Grant

Deadlands: Iron Magic by Ilona Andrews (16/9)

 

Murder Most Foul: Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith (4/9)

Supernatural: The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (8/10)

Free Space: Leverage in Death by J. D. Robb (18/10)

Modern Noir: Mystic River by Dennis Lehane; Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Relics and Curiosities: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett (17/9)

 

Amateur sleuth:  The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Country house mystery: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle (9/9)

Diverse voices: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (10/9)

Spellbound: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness; Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke; The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elisabeth George Speare; Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead

Creepy Carnivals: Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter (17/10)

 

  • A Grimm Tale: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (26/9)
  • Cryptozoologist: His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (5/9)
  • Modern Masters of Horror: Under the Dome by Stephen King (2/10)
  • Shifters: Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews (13/9)
  • Southern Gothic: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (19/9)
Reading progress update: I've listened 2267 out of 4260 minutes.
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection -  Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry

Look! Fandom over a century ago!

 

This collection keeps on giving

Reading out inertia
Leverage in Death - J.D. Robb

Meh.

 

At this point, I figure I keep reading these because they are easy time-killer page-turners.

 

 

Review
5 Stars
Guess who has a new favourite author?
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

This was bloody amazing!

 

The writing was gorgeous, the braided in stories colorful and as bizarre as you could expect, and even when at their most tragic, always running this underground hilarity out of sheer cynicism and pragmatic pizazz. All seasoned with a good dose of feminism and magical realism.

 

I laughed a lot, but it actually ran me through the whole gamut of emotions and I did not want it to end. Loved it, will read more by the author, and will buy whatever of hers I can find around here.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 298 out of 304 pages.
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

"What is your name? Have you a soul? Can you love?" he demanded of her in a great, rhapsodic rush as she rose up out of her curtsey. When she heard that, her heart lifted and sang. She batted her lashes at him, beaming, exuberant, newly armed. Now she looked big enough to crack the roof of the god-hut, all wild hair and feathers and triumphant breasts and blue eyes the size of dinner plates.
            "That's the way to start the interview!" she cried. "Get out your pencil and we'll begin!"

 

Full circle. Damn, this is such a good book. I'm sad to see it end.

 

Challenging myself this 2018 (tracking post)

12 classics from my TBR

 

Most years I manage to read a dozen or so of some form of classic, but just to keep on track and maybe try to stay within of what's ALREADY THERE in my TBR

 

  • Eugenie Grandet by Honerè de Balzac (22/1)
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (16/8)
  • The Tennat of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (22/8)
  • O Pioneers! by Willa Cather (25/8)
  • The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1/9)
  • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (8/9)
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (11/9)
  • The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (17/10)

 

Other Countries, Other Languages

 

I've noticed I'm reading a lot of works originally written in English (somewhere around a 9 in 10 at least). A bit because England and USA have a long and healthy publishing history, with a lot of classics and pop-culture exponents to their soils. Some, because English is an easy common ground language-wise, and forums like these tend to exchange in it, either opinions or recommendations. A good deal because the market is flooded with them.

But I want more perspectives, different styles and backgrounds.

So I'll start shooting for 20 or so from my TBR and we'll see (availability might be an issue)

 

  • Dante Alighieri, La Divina Comedia (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Jorge Amado, Grabriela, Clavo y Canela (just bought it! so happy!)
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata
  • Roberto Arlt, Los 7 Locos
  • Honerè de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet (1/22)
  • Enrique Barrios, Civilizaciones Internas (I'm so happy about this one! I read the first two books when I was a kid, and never found them again till now!)
  • María Brandán Araoz, Vecinos y detectives en Belgrano (3/9)
  • Ítalo Calvino, Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Fernándo de Rojas, La Celestina (this one I have on hand, but it's such an archaic Spanish, it gave me head-aches the one time I attempted it. We'll see)
  • Marguerite Duras, L'Amant
  • José María Eça de Queirós, El Crímen del Padre Amaro (reading)
  • Umberto Eco, El Nombre de la Rosa (bought it too, will have leisure to read)
  • Yasunari Kawabata, Meijin
  • Clarice Lispector, Laços de família
  • Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
  • Guadalupe Loaeza, Las Niñas Bien
  • Gabriel García Marquez, El Amor en los tiempos de Cólera (another of the buying spree and mom kept laughing and being amazed by the first third)
  • Facundo Manes, Usar el Cerebro (reading)
  • Haruki Murakami, Kafka en la Orilla (need to retrieve from hometown)
  • Kezaburo Oe, Memushiri kouchi (Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring)
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Pairault, Suzanne, Verónica, ¿Estrella de Cine? (31/8)
  • Marjane Satrapi, Persépolis
  • Tulsidas, Ramayana
  • Marguerite Yourcenar, Mémoires d'Hadrien
  • Banana Yoshimoto, Kitchen
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El Juego del Ángel


 

25 female authors (20/25)

 

A follow up on this idea (here Themis-Athena explains in English). Shall construct my tentative list from my TBR as much as possible too, and post read books as I go.

 

A

  • Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey (16/8)
  • Margaret Atwood: The Penelopiad (24/8)

 

B

  • Lois McMaster Bujold: I owe to myself to try her. Almost did for Bingo, but couldn't get my hands on one of her books.
  • Octavia E. Butler: Ditto
  • Anne Brontë: The Tennat of Wildfell Hall (22/8)
  • Charlotte Brontë: Shirley and Villete have been there some 7 years too, but I've been procrastinating because I did not care for Jane Eyre when I was a teen.
  • Leigh Bardugo: Ruin and Rising
  • Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting (21/7)
  • Fanny Burney

 

C

  • Angela Carter: Nights at the Circus (17/10)
  • Willa Cather: O Pioneers! (25/8)

 

D

  • Marguerite Duras: The Lover is one that I've been meaning to read for over a decade but have not yet found a hard copy
  • Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember (4/8)

 

E

 

  • George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans): Middlemarch keeps popping (Chist, it's massive)
  • Kate Elliott: King's Dragon

 

F

  • Carrie Fisher: The Princess Diarist (9/8)

 

G

  • Elizabeth Gaskell: North and South (11/9)

 

H

  • Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train (4/9)
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett: The Shuttle (26/1)

 

I

  • Laura Ingalls Wilder: Little House in the Big Woods (29/7)

 

J

  • P. D. James: Children of Men (27/8)
  • Diana Wynne Jones: Howl's Moving Castle

 

K

  • Barbara Kingsolver: The Poisonwood Bible
  • M. M. Kaye: The Ordinary Princess (5/8)

 

L

  • Clarice Lispector: I think mom added one of her books to our library
  • Guadalupe Loaeza: Las Niñas Bien
  • Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice
  • Madeleine L'Engle: A Wrinkle in Time (9/1)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: The Dispossed (4/1) The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (24/1) The Word for World is Forest (26/1) Four Ways to Forgiveness (18/4)

 

M

  • Juliet Marillier: I've heard so amazing things about her, and fantasy is my love
  • Carson McCullers: scared to, but have The Heart is a Lonely Hunter somewhere around
  • Collen McCullough: The Thorn Birds, yeah, another scary prospect
  • Marissa Meyer: Cinder (26/9)
  • Toni Morrison: Funny thing here: I've had it on my "author to try" list for a long while, but thought her male
  • Anchee Min: Empress Orchid
  • Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Blue Castle
  • Ann McCaffrey: Dragonflight

 

N

  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler's Wife
  • Anais Nin: Delta of Venus has been waving at me, but I'm unlikely to pick it up this year
  • Amelie Nothomb: another on mom's wish-list that I can't remember if we bought
  • Naomi Novik: His Majesty's Dragon (5/9)

 

O

  • Joyce Carol Oates: Bellefleur is one I took a stab at when I was 14 and never finished. Might rectify this year (and how did I come to the conclusion Joyce was a male name then? maybe my brain associated James Joyce?)
  • Lauren Oliver: Liesl & Po
  • Wendy Orr: Nim's Island
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Akata Witch (10/9)

 

P

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper (1/9)
  • Eleanor Porter: Pollyana
  • Katherine Anne Porter
  • Barbara Pym: Excellent Women
  • Ann Patchett: Bel Canto
  • Katherine Paterson: Bridge to Terabithia... if I'm feeling brave or wanting a good bawl

 

Q

 

R

  • Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho
  • Veronica Rossi: Never finished her saga. Might go for it if in the mood for YA
  • Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow
  • Carrie Ryan: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
  • Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

 

S

  • Lisa See: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (some group discussed a buddy read when I was still on goodreads, and the movie renewed my interest)
  • Alice Sebold: maybe. The Lovely Bones did a lot of noise
  • Betty Smith: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Dodie Smith: I Capture the Castle
  • Sofia Samatar: Stranger in Olondria (read a short story of hers in Clarkesworld magazine, and oh, my!)
  • Marjane Satrapi: Persepolis

 

T

  • Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar was brought to my attention during the games, and will read as soon as I can get a copy
  • Amy Tan

 

U

 

V

  • Catherynn M. Valente: In the Night Garden is one I want to buy and savor
  • Joan D. Vinge: The Snow Queen

 

W

  • Edith Wharton: pure author faith (even if she rips my heart)
  • Connie Willis: keeps popping up on my radar
  • Virginia Woolf: sure I have a couple of hers back at home

 

Y

  • Banana Yoshimoto: Kitchen is a book that keeps popping up and haven't gotten to yet
  • Jane Yolen: I had Tam Lin on my list, but reading up on her... over 365 books! Woman!
  • Marguerite Yourcenar: Have Memories of Hadrian on my bed-table
  • Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: I'm likely to pick Blood Games for bingo

 

Z

Reading progress update: I've read 172 out of 304 pages.
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

"He says he loves you," she told Mignon. Mignon presented a blank face. Fevvers hastily translated herself. Mignon laughed. The Strong Man wept and mumbled some more.
            "He says he loves you but he's a coward."
            This time, Mignon did not laugh but kicked at the straw with her bare toe.
            Mumble, mumble, mumble.
            "He says he loves you; he's a coward; and he can't bear to think of you in the arms of a clown."
            It was the Princess who burst out laughing, this time,

 

This comedy of errors!

 

I'm loving this to pieces

 

Reading progress update: I've read 82 out of 304 pages.
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

I'm at Mr Rosencreutz, and I'm taking a second to post so as to regain my breath, I'm laughing so hard. I mean, I don't even know which bit to choose, so some samples of amusing savagery:

 

"So that was the signification of his gold medallion! The penis, represented by itself, aspires upwards, represented by the wings, but is dragged downwards, represented by the twining stem, by the female part, represented by the rose. H'm. This is some kind of heretical possibly Manichean version of neo-Platonic Rosicrucianism, thinks I to myself; tread carefully, girlie! I exort myself.
            "He's so appalled himself at the notion of the orifice that the poor old sod mumbles and whimpers himself to a halt, though he's no stranger to the Abyss, himself, used to come every Sunday, just to convince himself it was as 'orrible as he'd always thought.

 

"I try a dollop of his excellent Stilton, pondering as I savour it the baroque eclecticism of his mythology.

 

"I saw in the paper only yesterday how he gives the most impressive speech in the House on the subject of Votes for Women. Which he is against. On account of how women are of a different soul-substance from men, cut from a different bolt of spirit cloth, and altogether too pure and rarefied to be bothering their pretty little heads with things of this world, such as the Irish question and the Boer War.

 

for what Mr Rosencreutz is willing to pay for the privilege of busting a scrap of cartilege was quite sufficient to set my entire family up in comfort, I can tell you.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 50 out of 304 pages.
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

OMG, I'm laughing so hard I'm in tears. Jenny's story!

 

What makes it all the more hilarious to me, is this sense that it would have fit just as well among my great-grandaunt's anecdotes.

 

Prepare to be seriously spammed. This books is amazing.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 38 out of 304 pages.
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

"I put it down to the influence of Baudelaire, sir."
            "What's this?" cried Walser, amazed enough to drop his professional imperturbability.
            "The French poet, sir; a poor fellow who loved whores not for the pleasure of it but, as he perceived it, the horror of it, as if we was, not working women doing it for money but damned souls who did it solely to lure men to their dooms, as if we'd got nothing better to do. . . Yet we were all suffragists in that house; oh, Nelson was a one for 'Votes for Women', I can tell you!"
            "Does that seem strange to you? That the caged bird should want to see the end of cages, sir?"

 

Preach!

 

Reading progress update: I've read 10 out of 304 pages.
Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter

This is delightful!

 

I'm just starting, and I already know I have a new favourite author. The style! The humour! Those fast, flavourful descriptions!

 

I don't know how I'll stop the gushing, wanting to quote every-other sentence.

 

Review
3 Stars
Par for course (it's Holmes by ACD)
The Valley of Fear -  Arthur Conan Doyle

Despite never having read this one before, I called it soon enough.

 

Second part, as is par for course with Holmes novels MO, was a narration of the history (on a far place and piquant circumstances for the edifice of London society), spawning the issues at present. Was mislead nicely for a bit, but called too by the letter.

 

I have to say though that both instances were very gratifying conclusions.

 

The epilogue was an interesting partner to the third chapter in a way.

 

currently reading

Progress: 40/362pages
Progress: 2267/4260minutes
Progress: 189/366pages
Progress: 27/260pages
Progress: 140/288pages
Progress: 69/264pages
The Castle of Otranto - Horace Walpole