The better to see you, my dear
Review
4.5 Stars
Corny as all hell
Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter

But frankly, corny is good for the soul, even if jaded me felt like rolling eyes sometimes.

 

It surprised a lot of laughter out of me (specially her Annesque steamroller-chattering and the romance tangle) and quite some tears, so even if it goes to the preachy/edifying/anvilicious grouping of Heidi and An Old-fashioned Girl, I liked it better than those.

Reading progress update: I've read 270 out of 304 pages.
Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter

I did not expect this sweet corny thing would make me cry, yet here I am. I think I've been sniffling from the first glad visit (not that my cold help much containing the waterworks).

Reblogged
Summer Game Time!

THE NEW GAME BEGINS JUNE 1, 2019

 

and

 

GAME PLAY ENDS AUGUST 15, 2019

 

 

Announcing a new summertime game of Booklikes-opoly! The game is still in development, but the theme of the game is "summer vacation." The rules will be similar to our last game of booklikes-opoly (all the way back in summer 2017), and the bank system will work the same way, although the categories will be different, and I will tweak some of the elements that didn't work so great last time

 

I will be reblogging some of my old posts this morning, for everyone to peruse while OB & I work on the new game!

 

New theme!

New book tasks!!

New tweaks!

 

So, if we are going to start a new game on 6/1/19, then we have to call an end to Snakes & Ladders, which will go through 5/31/19.

 

Get ready...

Reblogged from Obsidian Blue
Review
1.5 Stars
Needs a lot of work
First Lessons (A Medieval Tale #1) - Lina J. Potter

It reads like one of those ambitious, great-ideas fanfictions written by a painfully young person. Acceptable grammar, cool premise, needs serious editing.

 

This is, at best, a first rough draft, and it is a real pity that it was published as is. There are other issues (Mary Sue, general shallowness, a judgemental omniscient POV that is a stand in for the author's opinions), but they are not real drawbacks from what could have been a solid 3 stars comfort read, so if there was an editing team on this publishing house, they did this work a serious disservice.

 

Because I'm a sucker for this type of adventures, I'm still reading, and can say that the worst of the bloating gets a bit pared down by book three. Quality of writing is still the same, but it's neater.

Reading progress update: I've read 110 out of 304 pages.
Pollyanna - Eleanor H. Porter

“But they acted as if little boys HERE weren't any account—only little boys 'way off. I should THINK, though, they'd rather see Jimmy Bean grow—than just a report!”

 

Ain't you a preachy little book. Some of it I'm finding overly-edifying, but there are parts like this where I really feel like going "Good for you!".

Review
3.5 Stars
Fun with sociopaths
Lady Susan - Jane Austen

It's short, it's unpolished, and the MC is an absolutely conniving bitch. And, oh, my god, it was magnificent.

 

Susan is horrid and also compelling. A fun (yet sadly not that far from reality) caricature of your garden variety sociopathic creature.

 

From the first letter I was laughing at the convolutions and machinations, and all the suspected make-up to what could be inferred of recent past happenings.

 

Facts are such horrid things!

 

And facts do come out, because it is a happy little story all things said. Oddly cute romp.

Review
5 Stars
I was a feminist before I knew what that meant
Mujercitas: Eran Las de Antes? y Otros Escritos: (El Sexismo En Los Libros Para Chicos) - Graciela Beatriz Cabal

I loved these essays when I was 12, and I loved them all over again 20 years later. Part of it is that I've never read something of this author that I did not love. Part of it is that I happen to agree with much of what she present here.

 

Mostly, is how she writes this: The subtitle is "Sexism in children books"

 

She proceeds to write about her primary school experience, interspersing it with textbook and the accompanying "pseudo-literature" (that's what she calls it) quotations and bibliography. She never says "this was sexist", "this was racist", "this was unfair". But boy, does it come across. At points it's so ridiculous, you can't help but laugh.

 

She talks about the roles of women in fairy and traditional tales. She talks about explicitly (and sometimes either horrifyingly or hilariously, or both, missing the point) tacking on moralizing end-lines to fables. There are also among the pages pictures of old advertising posters geared toward women. OMG, those posters.

 

The last essay is one that is dear and near to my heart (and my mom, as a die-hard librarian): this pervasive idea (that needs to be killed with fire) that children literature is "a women thing", because it is more about children (clearly, a province of the female) than about literature, and on this triple insult of "women write badly" "children do not understand much" "bad literature produced by women is therefore a perfect match".

 

It is a very short book. It can be read in an hour. But is a powerful one, that charms you as you read, that stays in your mind, that makes you squint your eyes at what you read after (and oh, boy, did I tear though some fairy tales collections afterwards).

Review
5 Stars
Srong Collection
The Birds & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier

There are six stories in this volume and they all work on that eerie maybe-normal-maybe-fantastical/grothesque/horror line.

 

The Birds is excellent at suspense and the daily made unnerving. And it leaves you there.

 

Monte Veritá reads almost like one of those non-Cthulthu's Lovecraftian tales. I really like the beginning, and the maybe-magical-maybe-mundane and expansive tone. The thing is, though, that much like in Lovecraft's writings, I had issues... I don't know, it was not... It felt like it was written by a man trying to be fair-for-his time but still...

 

The Apple Tree was a perfectly done unreliable narrator. He makes you despise the dead woman, but at the same time, you can read between the lines his own "polite" chauvinism, and so you feel for her. And then the layers peel, and oh my. Another that treads the line between the real and the fantastical for disquiet, and it's a gruesome poison study that you can see coming and still...

 

The Little Photographer ... Well, talking about poison-study. Ennui does not make good councilors. A bit of tragedy with some karma.

 

Kiss Me Again, Stranger was the eerie of prototype modern goths with some sauce.

 

The Old Man is interesting because you don't question it.

My 2018 year, reading-wise (and some more)

Because, as we all know, life gets in the way of reading, so it's only fitting that a summary of my reading year would be peppered with some RL facts. Conversely, I find that a lot of my reads influence my life too, so it all balances somehow.

 

It happens that this is a bit of a late posts, but just now I'm finding myself with some time back at my PC for something other than work, work, work, moving, and family, friends, travel, family, moving.

 

All this because the 20th of December I moved back to my hometown after living 14 years in the capital and surrounds.

 

The reasons are varied and long-spanning, but the decision itself was taken on middle November, during a long conversation with my dad on his car, coming back from a family pilgrimage to a doctor appointment of my aunts over yet another health scare. Given the tone and MO of my extended family these last years, it was a weird mix of emotional and logical, and much like I tend to do with my "upend your whole life" choices, followed through pretty much immediately. Historically, it has worked for me splendidly, and this is shaping up to not be the exception.

 

What it did translate, though, was into over 200 hours of work plus a long-distance move packed into 3 weeks. And then a huge amount of work over my grandparents belongings mixed in with the end-of-years-festivities and job-hunting when I landed. I'm still cleaning, boxing, tagging, selling, giving and throwing, basically living at mom's from a couple of suit-cases and not yet really sure that I'll adapt back to life in a little town, but I'm inexplicably happy.

 

Now, if I could make myself some time to read....

 

Anyway, huge introduction aside, looking back to my 2018, it is no wonder that I terribly failed or barely squeaked by on some of the challenges, but I find that I'm satisfied with the over-all haul.

 

I did manage over 12 new-to-me classics (though I wiggled a bit over picking titles already on my tbr). Depending on how you define "classic", I likely doubled this.

 

  • 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 (11/10)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (19/10)
  • The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (21/10)
  • La Divina Comedia by Dante Alighieri (26/10)
  • His Last Bow, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (9/11)
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy (29/11)

 

As for 25 female authors, I managed 25 that I had chosen, and some extras. Then again, I usually find that without looking into it too much, my reading is quite balanced among the male/female line. The interesting part is all those I ear-marked that I did not got to, and so am bumping up for this 2019.

 

A

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

 

B

  • Anne Brontë: The Tennat of Wildfell Hall (22/8)
  • Natalie Babbitt: Tuck Everlasting (21/7)

 

C

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

 

D

  • Marguerite Duras: Los Ojos azules, pelo negro (25/11)
  • Jeanne DuPrau: The City of Ember (4/8)

 

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)
  • 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)

 

K

  • M. M. Kaye: The Ordinary Princess (5/8)

 

L

  • 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

  • Robin McKinley: Deerskin (12/7)
  • Marissa Meyer: Cinder (26/9)

 

N

  • Naomi Novik: His Majesty's Dragon (5/9)

 

O

  • Emma Orczy: The Scarlet Pimpernel (29/11)
  • Nnedi Okorafor: Akata Witch (10/9)

 

P

  • Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper (1/9)

 

R

  • Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Circular Staircase (23/10)

 

S

  • Elizabeth George Speare: The Witch of Blackbird Pond (20/10)

 

Language-wise, I failed catastrophically. Mostly because it was a hectic year and my books in English are digital and so forever on hand on my phone, but still, 6 out of 20... I have 3 more half-way, so I'll have a headstart this year (and my mom's library on hand*grin*)

 

  • Dante Alighieri, La Divina Comedia (26/10)
  • Honerè de Balzac, Eugenie Grandet (22/1)
  • María Brandán Araoz, Vecinos y detectives en Belgrano (3/9)
  • Marguerite Duras, Los ojos azules, pelo negro (25/11)
  • Pairault, Suzanne, Verónica, ¿Estrella de Cine? (31/8)
  • Lisbeth Werner, Puck y la Fierecilla (28/10)

 

Bingo was huge help and had me busting my yearly challenge by September, plus introducing me to many authors, some of which have become favorites, so even more positives. So yeah, upheavals and all, it was a good reading year.

Reading progress update: I've read 46 out of 160 pages.
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood - Marjane Satrapi, Blake Ferris, Mattias Ripa

 

Damn. What a book.

8/24 Tasks: 21st of November: Day of Penance

Task 1:  “Confess” your book habits.  Dog-earring?  Laying books face down?  Bending back the spines? Skimming?  OR: Confess your guilty reading pleasure, or comfort reads.

 

Oh, my. I do all of those. Plus taking a pencil to those books I own, marking good passages or bad translations.

 

Task 2:  It’s “Pennants” day according to MbD’s husband:  post a picture of your favorite team’s logo / mascot and the last time they’ve won a championship (or not).

 

Task 3: In centuries gone by, penance would often end up in what might be described as a very extended bad hair day (complete with sackcloth and ashes). Tell us: What’s a bad hair day to you – and what (if anything) do you do about it?

 

 

Since I've got the good luck of very fine, straight hair, most of my issues are around frizz and little else. When it's long enough, I just pull it into a bun. It's actually more of a hazzle now that I wear it short, lol.

 

Task 4: Early Christian spiritualists would sometimes do penance by spending time in the desert. If you’ve ever visited a desert region (or even live there), post a picture and tell us about it. Alternatively, post a picture of sand dunes (NOT with water in the background!).

 

Book:  Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution.

Review
3.5 Stars
Fun romp
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

Very easy and fast read. It would have been the type of book I would have adored as a kid in that liminal space where high reading skills put you beyond children's books but maturity does not really afford you adult reads. So yeah, classic adventures for the win.

 

The devise of telling the story from the third limited of a character other than the Scarlet Pimpernel allows for a show of his BAMF qualities that would have sounded boastful otherwise, so that's another good bit.

 

Most of my gripe comes from the ever moronic woman (I'll leave the political and racial alone this time). We are constantly told she's the cleverest woman in Europe, but either that's a huge fail of informed quality, or the author was taking the mickey on it by drawing a contrast of what the world says of a characters intelligence vs what happens behind curtains of a person's life. Still, the fact that she's absolutely useless and most times an obstacle, continued to bother me. I thought the story would redeem her when she decides to go to France, that we would be shown her being resourceful and clever and see her save the day right alongside the Pimpernel. Hell, for a bit there I was prepared to be blown out of my mind by a turn of the XX century female author writing a woman saving the hero. Alas, no dice.

 

The other bit that is a bit weak (beyond several un-reveals, duh), is the constant over explaining. Orczy does an excellent job of showing the pieces so that you can puzzle it out. It is a pity she wastes pages and belittle her readers intelligence by spelling it all out yet again in expository dialogues and what not.

 

Anyway, if you are not nit-picking like I've been, it is good entertainment.

 

7/24 Tasks: 20th of November: Mawlid or Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif

Task 1:  Make two “prophesies” you think will come to fruition in 2019 in your personal or reading life.

 

I'm moving back to my home-town in 10 days, so everything is a bit up in the air, but:

1- I'll start a vegetable garden

2- I'll sell a lot of stuff (crossing my fingers)

 

Task 2: The Five Pillars of Islam include almsgiving and the pilgrimage to Mekka. Tell us: Have you ever donated books or rescued them from (horror of horrors) being trashed? Alternatively: Is there a book-related place that is a place of pilgrimage to you?

 

Beyond practically every public library and book-store I've ever encountered, right?

- Buenos Aires annual International Book Fair: we used to travel 300miles just for a day at it with mom.

- The Ateneo Grand Splendid. As in, people all over the world actually come and see it (lord, I used to live some 10 blocks from it, and passed it almost every-day, and still entered at least twice a month just to bask in the lovely). I mean. look at it:

 

Task 3: Prophets are messengers. Tell us: Which book characters are your favorite messengers (no matter whether humans, angels, (demi)gods, etc.)?

 

Gandalf (I did mention before that I was a hardcore Tolkien fan before, right?). Hedwig! (yeah, childhood companion book series ftw). Cassiopea from Ende's Momo.

 

Task 4: Muhammad was a merchant before becoming a religious leader. List 5 books on your shelves in which a key character makes / undergoes a radical career change.

 

- Mary Malone from His Dark Materials saga. From nun to quantum phisics doctor... Yeap, that one is the one that stayed top of my head. Will have to think on others.

- Erik, from soldier to ghost writer (heh) and the eponymous Phantom of the Opera

- Richard Mayhew from Neverwhere, from desk-jockey to... uhm... BAMF unemployed street dweller? It's one of those things that really only make sense in context (like most of this list, lol)

- Jean Valjean, from bread-thief to convict, to trader, to mayor, to fugitive, to gardener, to idly wealthy/fugitive... between the upheavals of the world and those of his soul, the poor guy saw some drastic career changes.

- I was thinking about every career woman in The Handmaid's Tale. And almost every character from Darkfever's 3rd book on. And those in The Host... and likely any going through an apocalyptic story, really... But I'll go with Chantal from L'Impure, by Guy des Cars, who goes from unapologetic whore to nun because it feels like a cop out.

 

Book:  If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.  Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover.

6/24 Tasks: 16th of November: International Day for Tolerance

Task 1:  Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it.

 

I had a pretty good reading streak this year, but looking at stars, I'd go with the four PP novellas. They were bland, but they got me out of a reading slump.

 

Task 2: Tell us: What are the tropes (up to 5) that you are not willing to live with in any book (i.e., which are absolutely beyond your capacity for tolerance) and which make that book an automatic DNF for you? (Insta-love? Love triangles? First person present narrative voice? Talking animals? The dog dies? What else?)

 

Oh, boy! I rarely, if ever, DNF books, and most times is because I loose interest, so this one is a bit difficult. I don't know that I have true deal-breakers... no, wait, there is one...but I doubt there are so much as five. Will have to think on it.

 

Task 3: The International Day for Tolerance is a holiday declared by an international organization (UNESCO). Create a charter (humorous, serious, whatever strikes your fancy) for an international organization of readers.

 

Task 4: UNESCO is based in Paris. Paris is known for its pastries and its breads: Either find a baker that specializes in pastries and bring home an assortment for your family, or make your own pastries using real butter and share a photo with us.

 

I happen to work at a bakery/cafe, and pastries on Sunday is something like a tradition around here. Will upload a pic later.

 

Book:  Read any fiction/non-fiction about tolerance or a book that’s outside your normal comfort zone.  (Tolerance can encompass anything you generally struggle with, be it sentient or not.) OR Read a book set in Paris.

24 Tasks of the Festive Season (Masterpost)

Decided to make one of these because tracking is getting unwieldy. Ah, wow, am I behind or what, lol. Between moving out and pulling a short second job, I'm starting to think I'm way over my head.

 

Door 1: Dia de Los Muertos (November 1): points 1

Book:  Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico:

 

Door 2: Guy Fawkes Night (November 5): points 4

Book:  Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy review

 

Door 3: Melbourne Cup Day (November 6): points 2

Book: about horses or a horse on the cover.  Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.

 

Door 4: Diwali (November 7): points 5

Book: Read a book with candles on the cover or the word “candle” or “light” in the title; OR a book that is the latest in a series; OR set in India; OR any non-fiction book that is ‘illuminating’: Latest Hidden Legacy Book: Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews review

 

Door 5: Veterans/Armistice Day (November 11): points 2

Book:  Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover: I might go with the second Temeraire if I get the time.

 

Door 6: International Day for Tolerance (November 16): points 1

Book:  Read any fiction/non-fiction about tolerance or a book that’s outside your normal comfort zone.  (Tolerance can encompass anything you generally struggle with, be it sentient or not.) OR Read a book set in Paris.

 

Door 7: Mawlid or Mawlid al-Nabi al-Sharif (November 20): points 3

Book:  If you can find a copy, read Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.  Or read any book about a leader of a movement, nation, religion or large group, OR read a book with a green cover OR with a half moon on the cover.

 

Door 8: Day of Penance (November 21): points 2

Book: Read any book concerning a man / woman of the cloth, a book about a character hiding a guilty secret or searching for absolution.

 

Door 9: Thanksgiving (November 22)

 

Door 10: Bon Om Touk (November 24):

 

Door 11: Russian Mother's Day (November 25):

 

Door 18: Winter Solstice / Yuletide (December 21):

 

Door 19: Festivus (December 23): 

 

Door 20: Christmas (December 25): 

 

Door 21: Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1):

 

Door 22: New Year's Eve (December 31): 

 

Door 23: Hogswatch (December 32)*:

 

Door 24: Epiphany (January 6):

5/24 Tasks: 11th of November: Veterans/Armistice

Task 1:  Using book covers (real or virtual), create a close approximation of your country’s flag (either of residence or birth), OR a close approximation of a poppy.  Take a pic of your efforts and post.

 

Snow Crash - Neal StephensonStrangers on a Train - Patricia HighsmithCrash - J.G. Ballard

El Golpe y Los Chicos - Graciela MontesHalf of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieA Bend in the River - V.S. Naipaul     

 The Lovely Bones - Alice SeboldMen Explain Things to Me - Rebecca SolnitThe Phantom Tollbooth - Jules Feiffer,Norton Juster

 

Task 2: Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year.

 

Task 3: Tell us: What author’s books would you consider yourself a veteran of (i.e., by which author have you read particularly many books – or maybe even all of them)?

 

I'd say Tolkien's. I have not yet read The Unfinished Tales, but the amount of times I've gone over The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion ought to count. My mom opted to buy me a luxury hard-cover edition when I was a teen so I'd stop checking them out of the library.

 

Task 4: Treat yourself to a slice of poppy seedcake and post a photo.

 

Book:  Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover.

 

I might go with the second Temeraire if I get the time.

 

 

 

currently reading

Progress: 189/366pages
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Progress: 46/160pages
Progress: 140/288pages
Progress: 69/264pages