The better to see you, my dear
Review
3.5 Stars
Jewel of a family
Diamond Fire -  Ilona Andrews

I had so much fun.

 

I did not expect to engage much with 18-year-old Catalina, and picked it up mostly out of author faith a desire for some fast entertainment. I was pleasantly surprised. The passing of the torch was done well, and the humour and length helped a lot.

 

Blast! Now I want to go over the whole saga again.

Reading progress update: I've read 111 out of 197 pages.
Diamond Fire -  Ilona Andrews

“Mmm, delicious cyanide. Old school. Histotoxic hypoxia on you, histotoxic hypoxia on your house, histotoxic hypoxia on your cow. Wait.”

 

LMAO! The poison tester rocks

4/24 Tasks: 7th of November: Diwali
Anna Karenina - Larissa Volokhonsky, Richard Pevear, Leo Tolstoy Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry The MacKinnon's Bride (Highland Brides, # 1) - Tanya Anne Crosby El oso de karantania - Cristina Loza Heidi - Johanna Spyri Anne of Avonlea - L.M. Montgomery Pygmalion - George Bernard Shaw Reforming Lord Ragsdale - Carla Kelly Her Sister's Baby (Harlequin Superromance No. 627) - Janice Kay Johnson

Task 1:  Share a picture of your favorite light display. ~ I might be reaching here, but no man-made display has ever captivated me as much as the night sky (though lantern festivals come close).

Task 2:  Cleaning is a big part of this holiday; choose one of your shelves, real or virtual, and tidy / organise it.  Give us the before and after photos.  OR Tidy up 5 of the books on your BookLikes shelves by adding the CORRECT cover, and/or any other missing information.

 

Well, since I can never help myself, while searching for the girl with flowers covers I ended up merging one of my books into it's proper author, and I bet I'll end up doing some more, lol.

 

As for my physical library, I plan on an overhaul around Christmas, so I'll post pictures then.

Task 3: Eating sweets is also a big part of Diwali. Either select a recipe for a traditional sweet, or make a family favorite and share a picture with us.

 

Dulce de Leche!!

 

This is not an easy one to make, actually. I think we only attempted it once, it took a looooong time, and the consistence was not that firm (plus, I think we got a bit enthusiastic with the sodium bicarbonate)


Task 4: During Diwali, people pray to the goddess Lakhshmi, who is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman holding a lotus flower. Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images.

 

I'm among those having a lot less difficulty finding women brandishing weapons than carying flowers among my covers, but children and classic books came to my rescue. Clearly, I might want to "make love not war" more reading-wise. If only I could find more romances that treaded better the line between crazy drama and blandness.

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’ (Diwali is Sanskrit for light/knowledge and row, line or series)

3/24 Tasks: 6th of November: Melbourne Cup

Task 1: Pick your ponies!  MbD has posted the horses scheduled to race; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order).  

 

I made 0 points here. I love it that my surprisingly brilliant luck in games always deserts me as soon as any betting is involved.

Task 2:  Cup day is all about the hats.  Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.

 

I need to come back to this one. I have the hat, and the photo, but will need to find and upload

Task 3: The coloring of the “horse of a different color” in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was created by rubbing the horse’s fur with jello. What’s the weirdest use of jello you’ve ever come across?

 

I know I joked around with aspiks, but I have one better:

 

While running around in Peru, we found a traditional desert in Cusco is sweetened natural jelly. For northerners, this might sound perfectly normal, because their jellies, now mostly synthetic, used to come traditionally from mallow. For us, old school jelly comes from extracting the collagen by boiling bones and cartilage. Not many people outside culinary circuits know this, the instant dust fruity types being so ubiquitous, so a lot of my companions took a bit to catch why I was grimacing to the idea. Our guide laughed quite a bit when he explained that it therefore had a bit of a soupy taste.


Task 4: Have you ever been to or participated in a competition involving horses (racing, jumping, dressage, whatever)? Tell us about it. Photos welcome, too!

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

2/24 Tasks: 5th of November: Guy Fawkes Night

Task 1:  Burn a book in effigy.  Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)?

 

Huh... you know, there are many books that annoy me to no end, or plain give me the shudders, but since I've not been bombarded by any of them or their hype lately, I can be all mellow and skip to appreciating the discussion they spark... but if we are talking sacrifice and "burning this saves all the others" I'll throw the 50 shades ones into the pyre with no tears or lamentation.


Task 2:  List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books.  Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.

 

Lol, I have several book-peccadilloes in my past, but for outright crimes, I'll go with burning, banning and not returning.

Task 3:  Share your favorite / most memorable BBQ recollections or recipe, or your favorite recipe for food “flambé” (i.e., doused with alcohol which is then set aflame and allowed to burn off).

 

That will be flambe apple crepes, but I'll have to search for my notes, because I always made them on instinct.

 

Here is one pretty close to how I make them (though it is in Spanish, of course)


Task 4:  Find 5 uses of the word “gunpowder” in book titles in contexts other than for blowing up things or shooting people (e.g., Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs = tea).

Book:  Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.

 

1/24 Tasks: 1st of November: Día de los Muertos

Task 1:  Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice.

 

Task 2:  Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).

 

Lol! Several!

 

The much used old astronomer's, of course: "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.", being so bad-ass, hopeful and accepting all at once.

 

Bette Davies': "She did it the hard way"

 

Tolkien's "Beren" and "Luthien" on his and his wife's headstones

 

Task 3:  Create an altar (either digital or physical) for your favorite book, series, or book character, and post a picture of it.  Inclusion of book cover encouraged.

 

Task 4: If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it.

 

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

 

Halloween Bingo 2018: Full Blackout!!

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; Diverse Voices; 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; Country House Mystery; Deadlands; Romantic Suspense; Slasher Stories; Modern Noir; Backer Street Irregulars

 

 

Links for easier access

 

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

Bingo squares cut 1 & 2

List of Participants

My Card

 

 

 

Book Picks (wiiiii!!!)

 

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 Arthur Conan Doyle (19/10)

Gothic: The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (21/10)

Ghost Stories: The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (26/10)

Genre: Horror: Midwich Cuckoos (27/10) (Wildcard author)

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: Chocky (25/10) (Wildcard author)

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

 

Amateur sleuth:  The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart (23/10)

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

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

Spellbound: The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elisabeth George Speare (20/10)

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)

Halloween Bingo Conclusion

Having finished my 25th book (and holy hell, these games put me in overdrive, I hoped for 18 to 20 at the outside), I'm taking stock of how close I stayed to my tbr, and how much it grew (inevitable, given all those delicious reviews).

 

I docked several classics and pop-culture exponents long languishing in my tbr:

   

The Children of Men - P.D. JamesThe Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman,Elaine HedgesStrangers on a Train - Patricia HighsmithHeart of Darkness - Robert Hampson,Joseph ConradThe Valley of Fear - Arthur Conan DoyleThe Return of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan DoyleThe Castle of Otranto - Horace WalpoleChocky - John WyndhamThe Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale,Sandro Botticelli,Peter Armour,Dante Alighieri,Allen MandelbaumThe Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham  

 

Found some new favourites, and think that they deserve all their accolades

 

His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - John Berendt  The Color of Magic - Terry Pratchett  Nights at the Circus - Angela Carter  The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare  

 

Miscellanea from my tbr that I got to:

 

Akata Witch - Nnedi OkoraforCinder - Marissa MeyerUnder the Dome - Stephen KingThe Bazaar of Bad Dreams: Stories - Stephen KingThe Circular Staircase - Mary R Rinehart,Otto Penzler 

 

The rest were re-reads and books that just landed in my hands in time.

 

Between suggestions and reviews now I also want to read:

 

Magpie Murders - Anthony Horowitz  Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett  In a Glass Darkly - Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu  Uncle Silas - Victor Sage,Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu  Dorothy Must Die - Danielle Paige  Anna Dressed in Blood - Kendare Blake  Obscura - Joe Hart  The Fairy Godmother - Mercedes Lackey  American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis  Skinwalker - Faith Hunter  The Decagon House Murders - Yukito Ayatsuji,Ho-Ling Wong,Soji Shimada  The Hollow Man - John Dickson Carr  Jaws - Peter Benchley  The Secret Adversary - Agatha Christie  

 

All in all, it was a great show and a I had a lot of fun.

 

Thank you Moonlight Madness and Obsidian Blue for hosting!

 

Reading progress update: I've listened 3377 out of 4260 minutes.
Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection -  Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry

Hell, Fry got me right in the feels with the foreword of His Last Bow

Review
4.5 Stars
Competition for survival
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

This one went into and explored many of the points that I thought Chocky would, which is doubly great because creepy kids are disturbing as hell, and because I can give Wyndham props for not repeating himself in hindsight.

 

There are differences with the pop-culture classic movie, as it always happens. Beyond the distillation over our narrator and Zellaby (which I imagine stems from a wish to transfer all the BAMF quality from the seemingly absent minded old man to a younger MC), the big fact is that the mind reading is not part of the original book. There is enough flash and imminent danger with the will thing. The hive mind is the cherry that makes the eerie otherness cake.

 

I loved how things proceed slowly, and this insistence of going about business as usual. When the mothers bring the babies back to town, you immediately go "Oh, fuck", and in their heart of hearts, you know every character kinda does too, but they bury themselves in self denial. And as the book comes closer to the end, you start thinking back to Zellaby's wondering if civilization had not been a bad survival idea.

 

Seriously, for all the old man seemed to everyone as digressing from the current point, he was very much clear-sighted.

 

I loved the sci-fi call backs (and the niggling for none going into the morally ambiguous). Some of the doubts it tries to posit (specially on evolution) are a matter of "science marches on" but I always end up finding the idea of outside influence entertaining. The social commentary (outside the references to sci-fi, that is after all a commentary on society too) was a mixed bag, some insightful, some blithely chauvinistic, and there is what is clearly a lesbian couple never addressed as such, so maaaybe fair for its time.

 

At any rate, I had fun reading it. And that's a good way to wrap up my bingo card and get my reading black-out. Just to wait for the calls now.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 180 out of 220 pages.
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

‘Oh, yes… where was I?’
‘With H. G.’s Martians,’ I told him.
‘Of course. Well, there you have the prototype of innumerable invasions. A super-weapon which man fights valiantly with his own puny armoury until he is saved by one of several possible kinds of bell. Naturally, in America it is all rather bigger and better. Something descends, and something comes out of it. Within ten minutes, owing no doubt to the excellent communications in that country, there is a coast-to-coast panic, and all highways out of all cities are crammed, in all lanes, by the fleeing populace – except in Washington. There, by contrast, enormous crowds stretching as far as the eye can reach, stand grave and silent, white-faced but trusting, with their eyes upon the White House, while somewhere in the Catskills a hitherto ignored professor and his daughter, with their rugged young assistant strive like demented midwives to assist the birth of the dea ex laboritoria which will save the world at the last moment, minus one.

That's a "take that!" that has not lost it's being current.

 

 

Wrapping up my last read towards Bingo-blackout tonight.

Review
4 Stars
Since I'm not reading for spirituality's sake
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

Done! *cheers* (and an abrupt end it was)

 

I confess I started to loose my enthusiasm by Purgatory, and Paradiso veritably dragged for me.

 

Inferno is indeed the most interesting, likely because it concentrates more on describing the poetic (and in many cases gruesome) justice inflicted there.

 

Purgatory gets a bit wishy washy because we are even more deluged with contemporary examples, which was exhausting from a "pausing to research WTF" whenever I needed context to understand the grade, and felt like self indulgent page bloating when I didn't. And then we get to Eden, pretty cavalcade of symbolism lead by the still much discussed mystery that is Matilda, and meet Beatriz. Ahhhh, the lady herself, that symbolizes theology. Maybe it is no wonder I found her supercilious and overly jealous.

 

I have to praise Dante's balls: first he aligns himself equal among Homer, Ovid and Virgil in that Limbo chat, and here he places his lady love highly enthroned in the Empireum, representing the Dogma by which he knows God.

 

If I could leave Paradiso just taking away that love has been his salvation and his way to heaven, we'd be good. But no, he had to insist on hammering until rigid conformity to scripture was reached. Thorough what felt like endless proselytizing (hey, I know it is my fault, because what was I expecting, right?) and pointing fingers of doom everywhere (the amount of eggs thrown the church's way! And his political enemies... you bet this got him the exile prophesied to him here).

 

Also, even considering some pretty descriptions, the spheres felt lame and boring reward (and here I'm reminded of Huxley calling happiness undramatic and boring, and Le Guin criticizing those that think "Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting"). Where is the imaginative poetic justice of the first third? Methinks Dante got too tangled in the discussion of virtues and splitting hairs on their display levels. So yeah, I get the whole "watching god and feeling his light is rapture beyond comprehension", I'm still contending that the theological got in the way of the literary, and there goes one star. Sue me.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 220 pages.
The Midwich Cuckoos - John Wyndham

He lowered his pole from the vertical, and with the cage still dangling at its end, thrust it forward tentatively. The bird fell off its perch, and lay on the sanded floor of the cage. The corporal withdrew the cage. The bird gave a slightly indignant tweet, and hopped back on its perch.

 

I have a terrible sense of humour.

 

One not-so-young woman suddenly bought a bicycle, and pedalled it madly for astonishing distances, with fierce determination.

 

Appalling, really, lol!

 

Review
4 Stars
Unexpected
Chocky - John Wyndham

That ended in a place I did not expect before I started. It is disquieting indeed, but more from being guilty of emulating the mum than anything else.

And because almost every adult involved was ghastly.

(show spoiler)

I kinda loved that it veered so.

 

I'm discounting a star because this being my second read of a book of his, I noticed and got irked by Wyndham's penchant for making women the overcautious anxious frets (sometimes warranted) while the men are all calm, cool and collected (sometimes even when unwarranted). He does not say that each are not sometimes right in their approach, but makes those approaches kinda married to their sexes, and it grates.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 505 out of 798 pages.
The Divine Comedy - Eugenio Montale, Sandro Botticelli, Peter Armour, Dante Alighieri, Allen Mandelbaum

I get the "pointing him away form the carnal to the spiritual" thing, but Beatrice's rant over Dante looking toward other women after her death sounded downright bitchy to me (it's been 10 years woman!).

 

I found Inferno a lot more engaging than Purgatory on the whole, but the symmetry between the two is interesting, as is the fact that the punishments are not that much lighter in corresponding sins and circles, but for the hope.

 

What I am wondering, given the correspondence where repentance makes the difference between up or down, is whether not even repentance can wash fraud and betrayal in this cosmology.

 

Reading progress update: I've read 60 out of 183 pages.
Chocky - John Wyndham

‘What have you been doing to Mr Caffer?’ I asked.
‘He gets annoyed,’ said Matthew. ‘There was one time when I wanted to know about the pressure of light, and another time when I told him I can see what gravity does, but I don’t see why it does it. I don’t think he knows why

 

LMAO! I reckon uppity middle grade teachers will forever sweat that one coming.

 

currently reading

Progress: 30/303pages
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Progress: 3377/4260minutes
Progress: 189/366pages
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Progress: 69/264pages