Casvelyn's 2011 Challenge, Part II

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Casvelyn's 2011 Challenge, Part II

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Editado: Dic 31, 2011, 8:26pm

Since the year is (almost) half over and my other thread is getting long, I've decided to move the party over here. I'm also reinstituting my possible reads for each category. (The previous thread can be found here.)

Books Read: 121 / 121

COMPLETE 1. "Ideally, we should like to define a good book as one which 'permits, invites, or compels' good reading." (C. S. Lewis) - Guardian 1000/1001 Books to Read Before You Die

COMPLETE 2. "Rereading, we find a new book." (Mason Cooley)

COMPLETE 3. "Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed." (Charles de Lint)

COMPLETE 4. "What I like about non-fiction is that it covers such a huge territory." (Tracy Kidder)

COMPLETE 5. "The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most." (John Ruskin)

COMPLETE 6. "Proper names are poetry in the raw." (W. H. Auden)

COMPLETE 7. "Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title." (Thomas Paine)

COMPLETE 8. "Every person who has mastered his profession is a skeptic concerning it." (George Bernard Shaw)

COMPLETE 9. "Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living." (Dr. Seuss) - also includes science fiction

COMPLETE 10. "What is really best in any book is translatable." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

COMPLETE 11. "Good authors too who once knew better words/Now only use four letter words/Writing prose. Anything goes." (Cole Porter)

Editado: Sep 14, 2011, 5:48pm

COMPLETE 1. "Ideally, we should like to define a good book as one which 'permits, invites, or compels' good reading." (C. S. Lewis) - Guardian 1000/1001 Books to Read Before You Die

1. Whose Body? - Dorothy L. Sayers (3.9)
2. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Winifred Watson (4.6)
3. I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith (5.0)
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J. K. Rowling (4.6)
5. The Crab with the Golden Claws - Hergé (4.0)
6. Tintin in Tibet - Hergé (4.0)
7. The Castafiore Emerald - Hergé (3.7)
8. Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.2)
9. Excellent Women - Barbara Pym (3.5)
10. The Castle of Crossed Destinies - Italo Calvino (2.9)
11. And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie (4.3)

Editado: Jul 12, 2011, 11:12pm

COMPLETE 2. "Rereading, we find a new book." (Mason Cooley)

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (3.8)
2. A Letter of Mary - Laurie R. King (5.0)
3. Clouds of Witness - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.2)
4. Around the World in Eighty Days - Jules Verne (4.3)
5. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen (5.0)
6. Unnatural Death - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.8)
7. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.6)
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling (4.2)
9. The Last Battle - C. S. Lewis (4.0)
10. Why Didn't They Ask Evans? - Agatha Christie (4.9)
11. The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann David Wyss (3.8)

Editado: Nov 9, 2011, 3:31pm

COMPLETE 3. "Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed." (Charles de Lint)

1. Strong Poison - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.9)
2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie - Alan Bradley (4.0)
3. After the Funeral - Agatha Christie (4.0)
4. A Century of Detection - John Cullen Gruesser, ed. (no touchstone) (4.3)
5. Have His Carcase - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.9)
6. Hamlet, Revenge! - Michael Innes (4.4)
7. Gaudy Night - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.7)
8. The September Society - Charles Finch (4.0)
9. The Fleet Street Murders - Charles Finch (4.2)
10. A Stranger in Mayfair - Charles Finch (4.0)
11. Behold, Here's Poison - Georgette Heyer (4.1)

Editado: Dic 31, 2011, 8:27pm

COMPLETE 4. "What I like about non-fiction is that it covers such a huge territory." (Tracy Kidder)

1. Thriving in the Knowledge Age: New Business Models for Museums and Other Cultural Institutions - John H. Falk and Beverly K. Sheppard (2.9)
2. The Four Loves - C. S. Lewis (5.0)
3. A Letter Concerning Toleration - John Locke (3.6)
4. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader - Anne Fadiman (5.0)
5. The Borgias and Their Enemies - Christopher Hibbert (4.5)
6. A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg (4.0)
7. The Midwestern Pastoral: Place and Landscape in Literature of the American Heartland - William Barillas (3.0)
8. The Life of Samuel Johnson - James Boswell (3.6)
9. The Way of Improvement Leads Home - John Fea (4.7)
10. Anne Orthwood's Bastard: Sex and Law in Early Virginia - John Ruston Pagan
11. A Brief Subject Guide

Editado: Oct 5, 2011, 7:41pm

COMPLETE 5. "The purest and most thoughtful minds are those which love color the most." (John Ruskin)

1. Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron - Jasper Fforde (4.7)
2. The Man in the Brown Suit - Agatha Christie (4.8)
3. A Red Herring without Mustard - Alan Bradley (4.0)
4. The Five Red Herrings - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.0)
5. The Blue Lotus - Hergé (3.9)
6. The Black Island - Hergé (3.9)
7. Red Rackham's Treasure - Hergé (3.9)
8. Land of Black Gold - Hergé (3.7)
9. The Red Sea Sharks - Hergé (3.5)
10. The Mystery of the Blue Train - Agatha Christie (4.1)
11. A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Finch (3.9)

Editado: Dic 31, 2011, 8:27pm

COMPLETE 6. "Proper names are poetry in the raw." (W. H. Auden)

1. Daisy Miller - Henry James (3.3)
2. Agnes Grey - Anne Brontë (4.5)
3. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe (3.7)
4. Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear (4.2)
5. Michael O'Halloran - Gene Stratton-Porter (3.6)
6. John Adams - David McCullough (5.0)
7. Edward Hopper (5.0)
8. Zuleika Dobson - Max Beerbohm (3.2)
9. Julius Caesar - William Shakespeare (3.7)
10. Ansel Adams - Andrea G. Stillman, ed. (4.8)
11. Titus Andronicus - William Shakespeare (3.4)

Editado: Dic 27, 2011, 12:21am

COMPLETE 7. "Titles are but nicknames, and every nickname is a title." (Thomas Paine)

1. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand - Helen Simonson (3.2)
2. Lord Edgeware Dies - Agatha Christie (3.6)
3. Cigars of the Pharaoh - Hergé (3.7)
4. King Ottokar's Sceptre - Hergé (4.1)
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling (4.7)
6. The Princess and Curdie - George MacDonald (3.9)
7. The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald (4.3)
8. Lord Peter - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.1)
9. King Lear - William Shakespeare (3.8)
10. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court - Mark Twain (2.9)
11. Little Lord Fauntleroy - Frances Hodgson Burnett (4.5)

Editado: Dic 15, 2011, 12:16pm

COMPLETE 8. "Every person who has mastered his profession is a skeptic concerning it." (George Bernard Shaw)

1. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley (3.9)
2. The Merchant of Venice - William Shakespeare (4.2)
3. A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin (2.4)
4. Pirate King - Laurie R. King (3.4)
5. The Nine Tailors - Dorothy L. Sayers (3.5)
6. Busman's Honeymoon - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.8)
7. The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen (3.5)
8. Hangman's Holiday - Dorothy L. Sayers (4.0)
9. The Italian Secretary - Caleb Carr (3.8)
10. The Calligrapher's Daughter - Eugenia Kim
11. A Student's Guide to Political Philosophy - Harvey C. Mansfield (4.1)

Editado: Dic 27, 2011, 8:53pm

COMPLETE 9. "Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living." (Dr. Seuss) - also includes science fiction

1. Death in Winter - Michael Jan Friedman (3.8)
2. The Compass Rose - Ursula K. Le Guin (3.3)
3. Blackout - Connie Willis (4.8)
4. One of Our Thursdays is Missing - Jasper Fforde (4.4)
5. All Clear - Connie Willis (5.0)
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J. K. Rowling (4.6)
7. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling (4.8)
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - J. K. Rowling (4.4)
9. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J. K. Rowling (4.3)
10. Magic by the Lake - Edward Eager (4.0)
11. The Time Garden - Edward Eager (4.0)

Editado: Jun 29, 2011, 11:09am

COMPLETE 10. "What is really best in any book is translatable." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

1. Tintin in America - Hergé (3.4)
2. The Broken Ear - Hergé (3.2)
3. The Shooting Star - Hergé (4.4)
4. The Secret of the Unicorn - Hergé (4.4)
5. The Seven Crystal Balls - Hergé (3.9)
6. Prisoners of the Sun - Hergé (4.1)
7. Destination Moon - Hergé (4.1)
8. Explorers on the Moon - Hergé (4.1)
9. The Calculus Affair - Hergé (3.7)
10. Flight 714 - Hergé (4.1)
11. Tintin and the Picaros - Hergé (4.1)

Editado: Dic 13, 2011, 10:31am

COMPLETE 11. "Good authors too who once knew better words/Now only use four letter words/Writing prose. Anything goes." (Cole Porter)

1. Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare (3.5)
2. The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield (3.4)
3. The Inimitable Jeeves - P. G. Wodehouse (4.3)
4. Very Good, Jeeves! - P. G. Wodehouse (4.3)
5. Right Ho, Jeeves - P. G. Wodehouse (4.2)
6. The Comedy of Errors - William Shakespeare (3.2)
7. The Doll - Daphne du Maurier (4.8)
8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
9. A Comedy of Terrors - Michael Innes (3.2)
10. A Night of Errors - Michael Innes (4.5)
11. A Burial at Sea - Charles Finch (3.7)

Jun 29, 2011, 12:29pm

Just wanted to drop by and leave a comment so this thread shows up on my "your posts" list! :)

Jun 29, 2011, 6:42pm

I've come by to drop a star. I am really looking forward to the Reading Through Time Challenge in July, there was so much going on in the sixties from Viet Nam, social changes, hippies etc. I expect to see lots of variety being posted about.

Jun 29, 2011, 7:27pm

I'm looking forward to July as well. I didn't get a Reading Through Time book read for June, which is kind of funny, since I read over 30 books. For July, I'm reading about farm life and early environmentalism in Indiana during the 1960s.

Editado: Jun 30, 2011, 11:12am

June Recap

I'm now 63% finished!

Best Book: Hamlet, Revenge!, Harry Potter series
Worst Book: None were particularly bad. The Tintin books and The Comedy of Errors were disappointing.

1001 Books/Guardian 1000
The Crab with the Golden Claws - Hergé
Tintin in Tibet - Hergé
The Castafiore Emerald - Hergé
Murder Must Advertise - Dorothy L. Sayers

Rereads (formerly Shakespeare)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J. K. Rowling
The Last Battle - C. S. Lewis
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? - Agatha Christie

Have His Carcase - Dorothy L. Sayers
Hamlet, Revenge! - Michael Innes


The Blue Lotus - Hergé
The Black Island - Hergé
Red Rackham's Treasure - Hergé
Land of Black Gold - Hergé
The Red Sea Sharks - Hergé
The Mystery of the Blue Train - Agatha Christie

Proper Names
Agnes Grey - Anne Brontë

Cigars of the Pharaoh - Hergé
King Ottokar's Sceptre - Hergé
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling


Fantasy/Science Fiction
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J. K. Rowling
The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald

Translated (formerly Essays)
Tintin in America - Hergé
The Broken Ear - Hergé
The Shooting Star - Hergé
The Seven Crystal Balls - Hergé
Prisoners of the Sun - Hergé
Destination Moon - Hergé
Explorers on the Moon - Hergé
The Calculus Affair - Hergé
Flight 714 - Hergé
Tintin and the Picaros - Hergé

Anything Goes
The Comedy of Errors - William Shakespeare

I just counted, and I read 32 books this month. I said I wanted to beat last year's June record of 20 books in one month. I don't expect to read nearly as many books in July, as my summer class has started and I am busy. (Whoever had the idea of cramming 16 weeks of work into 6 weeks of summer...) I'm also attempting to plan a vacation for some time in July. It's the academic's version of living dangerously: taking a vacation during a summer class.

Jun 30, 2011, 12:19pm

Wow, 32 books in one month?! That's insane and amazing!

Jun 30, 2011, 12:23pm

But 21 are Tintin comic books, which are quite short and mostly pictures. So it's more like 11 actual novels. (Although all that Harry Potter ought to count double due to length.)

Jun 30, 2011, 12:31pm

Well, 11 is still nothing to sneeze at. :) But 32 is an awe-inspiring number, even if some of them are comic books!

Jul 5, 2011, 10:19am

Book: The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
Category: Titles with Titles
Rating: 3.9

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It's not quite as original as The Princess and the Goblin, but overall I liked it better. It's not a terribly complex book, but it falls into one of my favorite genres/trope: "average Joe who saves the world."

Jul 6, 2011, 10:19am

I never even knew there was a sequel to The Princess and the Goblin. Thanks for mentioning it!

Jul 10, 2011, 8:39pm

The George MacDonald books sound familiar but I don't think I've ever read any of them... I'll have to pick one up.

Good luck with your class (and your vacation!) :)

Jul 10, 2011, 10:40pm

>22 antqueen: They are quite good. And thanks for the good luck wishes! My class is going quite nicely, although I'm just a bit behind in my readings. (I decided to read Robinson Crusoe today rather than my textbook.)

Jul 10, 2011, 11:14pm

Book: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Category: Names
Rating: 3.7

When I was a child, one of my favorite genres was "Lost on a Desert Island" (which I have recently discovered is actually called Robinsonade, after the intrepid Mr. Crusoe). Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, The Mysterious Island, My Side of the Mountain (not actually a desert island, but what the hey; it's a great book) - these were some of my favorites. Were they remotely realistic? No, but they sure were fun.

So today I reread Robinson Crusoe, instead of reading my homework assignments, and I enjoyed the book greatly. I think I must have read an abridged version as a child, because the archaic language (and the lack of an "e" in most of the verbs ending in "-ed") really annoyed me. Normally I don't mind archaic language, but this made the book flow less well. Other than that, it was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Jul 11, 2011, 6:30pm

The 'Lost on a Desert Island" was one of my favorite genres as well. I loved The Coral Island as a child, but when I reread it recently with my grandson, I realized how dated it was. I also think my love of Lord of the Flies comes from my attachment to this genre.

Jul 11, 2011, 7:10pm

Lord of the Flies always struck me as more of a dystopian novel, which is why I've never read it. I hate dystopian fiction.

(And for some reason my in-browser spell check thinks that by "dystopian" I mean "dyspepsia.")

Jul 12, 2011, 4:11pm

Found you again! You're making great progress on the challenges!

Jul 12, 2011, 8:06pm

Thanks! I didn't realize I was hiding, though... :)

Jul 12, 2011, 11:16pm

Book: The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
Category: Rereads
Rating: 3.8

In keeping with my Robinsonade theme, I decided to reread The Swiss Family Robinson. This was yet another childhood favorite. However, I'm discovering that rereading childhood favorites is not such a good idea. When I was younger, I didn't value character development - I just wanted a good plot. (This is probably why I liked the Hardy Boys mysteries so much, although it didn't take me too long to realize that they all had the same plot. Nancy Drew was slightly better in this respect.) Anyhow, The Swiss Family Robinson does have an excellent plot, but rather thin characters and an utterly unrealistic setting. But it's still a fun read.

Jul 16, 2011, 8:57am

Book: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Category: Names
Rating: 4.2

This was a hard book to rate. I liked it and enjoyed it greatly, but the mystery was overly simplistic and I saw the solution coming a mile away. But it wasn't really the mystery that made me love the book, it was the characters and their stories. I like this book more for the historical fiction than the mystery, but that's okay; I probably read too many mysteries anyway.

Editado: Jul 17, 2011, 7:55am

Book: Pirate King by Laurie R. King
Category: Jobs
Rating: 3.4

Note: I won this book through the Early Reviewer's program.

I love the Mary Russell series, but this book is not nearly as good as the others. First of all, most of the book had little to do with the not-terribly-complex-or-interesting mystery. The first two-thirds is Russell as an overworked administrative assistant. Granted, she's undercover, but she's so overworked she doesn't actually have any time for investigating. Also, this book has a large cast of characters. Consequently, few of them are very well developed and some of the more interesting minor characters' actions are never explained (for example, why does Edith's mother treat her the way she does?). Finally, Russell and Holmes never really seemed to be in any sort of danger. Of course, eleven books into the series, we know that they can get out of any situation, but I'd like to feel, at least for a chapter or two, that there is some real threat against them, particularly after the non-stop danger of The Language of Bees and The God of the Hive. Overall, the book is entertaining and made me laugh, but does not have the qualities that make the earlier books in the series so addictive.

Jul 18, 2011, 1:51am

Book: The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
Category: Jobs
Rating: 3.5

Unlike any of the other Sayers novels I've read thus far, this book wins the prize for inspiring sheer terror. Unfortunately, inspiration of terror results in books getting a rather low "like" score from me.* If you've ever seen the movie Vertigo, I feel about noise the way Jimmy Stewart's character feels about heights. I can't handle loud noise. I can't handle dissonant noise. I just sort of shut down. So this book really didn't work for me. (In other news, I now have a new "worst way to die." Seriously, just thinking about it makes my spine tingle, my skin crawl, and my brain throw out highly irrational thoughts at a very high speed.) Coupled with the fact that reading murder mysteries after dark consistently scares me (considering this started when I was six and reading The Boxcar Children, you'd think I'd have learned my lesson by now), this was really not my book. Pity, because it was otherwise brilliantly executed.

And now I'm going to go read about kittens and ponies and sunshine. 'Cause I can't sleep anyway.

*I rate my books on "like" - how much I liked it - plot, character development, and writing - this book did quite well in the other categories, except for a 1 point character development deduction for lack of Harriet Vane.

Jul 18, 2011, 10:38am

Good review of The Nine Tailors. I don't handle terror very well so I will steer clear of this one.

Jul 18, 2011, 11:05am

It's probably not actually that scary. I just scare way easier than your average person.

Jul 18, 2011, 3:06pm

Sorry that one wasn't a good experience for you. I haven't read any Dorothy L. Sayers yet, but intend to start with Whose Body? eventually.

Jul 18, 2011, 3:09pm

Oh yes, you should give Sayers a try at some point! I really do love her work.

Editado: Jul 20, 2011, 11:02am

Book: Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
Category: Mystery
Rating: 4.7

Harriet Vane returns to Oxford for a class reunion of sorts and ends up investigating a series of poison-pen letters and college vandalisms. Peter is on the continent for much of the novel, leaving Harriet to try to solve the mystery by herself and also leaving her to grapple with the future of her relationship with Peter.

This book is rather longer than many of the others in the series, but for the most part the added length doesn't detract from the book (there are a few short duller moments where one must wait around for the action to resume, but not too many). Overall, one of the better (possibly the best) Wimsey novel, but unfortunately for me, the second-to-last. Part of the brilliance of the novel, at least for me, is that it doesn't just deal with a murder mystery, but also with the culture of a women's college at Oxford in the 1930s. As a lover of academic traditions and academia in general, I loved the depictions of university life, although Sayers did tend to romanticize writing papers just a bit - in reality term papers are far more stressful than romantic. Still, all the talk of academic garb did rather make me wish it was already next May and I had my own master's hood in hand. (After which time I will leave the university, find a job, and likely never use the thing again. Sad really.)

Jul 20, 2011, 1:01pm

After which time I will leave the university, find a job, and likely never use the thing again.

Whatever the case may be, you'll always have your memories... :-)

Jul 20, 2011, 1:16pm

Yes, quite good memories. But I do wish we still used academic gowns for something besides just graduations. They're so fun. I wish people wore them to classes. Of course, if the university tried to tell us we had to wear them, I'd probably complain. I don't mind dress codes, but I despise uniform dress requirements. Although, I'm not overly thrilled with the colors of my hoods - a white one for my MA (history) and a lemon one for my MLS.

Jul 24, 2011, 10:20am

Book: Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
Category: Jobs
Rating: 4.8

Well, I've finished the series now, except for the collection of Lord Peter short stories (which I've read once before). Busman's Honeymoon is funnier than some of the other books, which is nice. Sayers really does write comedy well.

Peter and Harriet get married and spend their honeymoon in an ancient farmhouse in the country. Of course, there's a murder. I don't really know why they act so surprised - where have they ever gone and not found a murder? I enjoyed the plot, as for most of the book it seems as if the murder could have been committed by either any of several people or by no one at all.

Jul 24, 2011, 10:33am

I love your categories! I'm already planning my next year's categories, so you are giving me ideas.

Editado: Jul 24, 2011, 10:38am

Thanks! I've been planning for next year for awhile now. I think I've got the categories all worked out the way I want.

Jul 24, 2011, 1:25pm

@ 42 -- Haha, same here! I even have a list of books I plan to read in each category.

Jul 24, 2011, 2:15pm

Actually, Christina, I've had my categories more or less planned since March. (Of course I haven't got issues with focusing on the matter at hand, not one bit.)

Jul 24, 2011, 4:57pm

We're having a "September Series & Sequels" theme over at the 75ers, but I do intend to have that as one of my categories next year as well, and I have to say your categories give me ideas too. I LOVE the quotes you've used... very clever. I might steal that too, or some form of it anyway. ;-)

Jul 24, 2011, 9:28pm

Yes, the quotes are fabulous. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one leaping ahead! I actually may start 2012 in September because I'm looking forward to it. As to the 75 thread, I don't think I'll really read 75 books in a year, but I'm thinking about doing that instead of Books off the Shelf. 75 seems to be the happening place, especially if you like group reads.

Editado: Jul 27, 2011, 2:52pm

I went to the Half Price Books on the other side of town today - it's considerably bigger than the one closest to my house. I got:

Strong Poison - Dorothy L. Sayers
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (to replace my cheap and falling apart paperback)
Little Men - Louisa May Alcott (because books in series must match)
The Inheritance - Louisa May Alcott
The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan
Gaudy Night - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Encyclopedia of Indianapolis - David J. Bodenhamer and Robert G. Barrows, eds.

I also got some CDs of music by Ravel, Holst, and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Then I decided that All-Clad copper core pans were just too expensive ($250 for a 12-inch skillet at Williams Sonoma), ate lunch at a fabulous local cafe, and went food shopping. (I got burrata, pates de fruits, Vosges bacon chocolate bar, ginger beer, Riesling, Asti, praline pecans, and some tea.) Now I just have to keep myself from eating all of it tonight. I have no self control when it comes to food.

Jul 27, 2011, 3:29pm

because books in a series much match
I hear you!

What Holst CD did you get? I adore his military suites.

Jul 27, 2011, 4:14pm

I got Holst's The Planets. I'm rather fond of it, particularly Jupiter.

Jul 28, 2011, 1:20am

@49 -- Jupiter is my favorite too! I love Holst in general because he was nice and gave good parts to the trombones sometimes. (I played the trombone in high school and college. I did not often get fun parts.)

Jul 28, 2011, 4:56pm

I think Mars is my favorite.

Jul 30, 2011, 9:35am

Book: Lord Peter by Dorothy L. Sayers
Category: Titles with Titles
Rating: 4.1

This is a collection of all the Lord Peter Wimsey short stories Dorothy Sayers wrote. Like any short story collection, some are better than others. I'm not usually a fan of short stories because, in my opinion, there's not enough room for character or plot development. Character development is less of an issue in this collection, because we know so much about Peter from the novels. Overall, these stories are really quite good, and some are very creative. Others merely reuse plots that have been used by practically every mystery writer since the invention of the genre.

Jul 30, 2011, 10:38am

July Recap

I'm now 70% finished!

Best Book: Gaudy Night, no contest
Worst Book: None. All good books this month. I just didn't really like The Nine Tailors.

1001 Books/Guardian 1000

The Swiss Family Robinson - Johann David Wyss

Gaudy Night



Proper Names
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
Maisie Dobbs - Jacqueline Winspear

The Princess and Curdie - George MacDonald
Lord Peter - Dorothy L. Sayers

Pirate King - Laurie R. King
The Nine Tailors - Dorothy L. Sayers
Busman's Honeymoon - Dorothy L. Sayers

Fantasy/Science Fiction (COMPLETE)

Translated (COMPLETE)

Anything Goes

Only nine books read this month, but my summer class has been keeping me busy. I could have counted my textbook for the non-fiction category, but I'm somewhat infamous for not actually doing my reading assignments. I've got to read 7.2 books per month for the rest of the year if I'm going to finish on time. I think I can do it, but I'm going to see if I can get some shorter books.

Jul 31, 2011, 10:30pm

You can do it. I only went for the partial challenge though. 121 is a lot of books!

Jul 31, 2011, 11:04pm

I figured I'd give 121 a try. This is the first year I've done a category challenge and the last year I have a reasonable chance of being able to complete the full amount until 2100. (And considering that in 2100 I'll be either 114 or dead, I'm likely to be able to read 0 books in 12 months.)

Jul 31, 2011, 11:33pm

So 2100 is 100X100??? Wow, I'm not going to be able to make that challenge either. Actually, I used to think the lower #s like 8 in 2008 would be easier but I like having more categories.

Ago 1, 2011, 12:09am

Actually, it might be 100 x 100. I was assuming it would be 0 x 0, since the last two digits of the year are 00. I'm doing the 12 in 12 next year, but I'm not even attempting 144 books. I am inventing lots of bad puns using the word "gross," though.

Ago 1, 2011, 11:00pm

I'm not going to attempt 144 either. I'm thinking 60 is more reasonable!

Ago 16, 2011, 9:38pm

Book: The Doll by Daphne du Maurier
Category: Anything Goes
Rating: 4.8

The stories in this collection are brilliant. (And that's saying something, since I usually don't like short stories.) With the exception of the title story, which is just weird, I loved these stories. These are not stories to make the reader feel happy or stories that are particularly enjoyable to read, as they are mostly stories about people falling out of love or people who are somewhat insane, or people whose obnoxious qualities are obvious to everyone but themselves. These stories are quite realistically written, which is partly what makes them so great. My most common complaint about short stories is the lack of developed plot. I love detailed plots, which are not at all present in this book, but the characters and situations are so well-written that the relative lack of plot barely registers.

Ago 24, 2011, 8:18pm

Book: Excellent Women by Barbara Pym
Category: 1001 Books/Guardian 1000
Rating: 3.5


Is it possible to like a book without particularly liking the characters or the plot?

The rating of the book eludes me. According to my rubric, it should get a 3.5, but I enjoyed the book more than "slightly above average." Except for the ending, of course. I didn't like the ending - Mildred should have fallen in love with Everard while working on his book's index. Maybe she does, since Pym ends the book before Mildred begins work on the index, but I'd like to know. (Only I, as a lover of indexing projects, should find the idea of falling in love over an index to be romantic.)

I was also annoyed by how most, if not all, of the female characters couldn't seem to define themselves apart from men. I'm not criticizing Pym for writing them that way, because that's how a lot of women of the period thought. I'm frustrated on behalf of these fictional women who talk about how unfulfilling they find their lives but can't think outside their mindset in order to be able to see that life can be fulfilling apart from a husband or men in the community to take care of. I wanted to tell them to go read a book or hear a lecture or go to a concert or do something that doesn't involve fussing over someone else. I'm by no means a feminist, and I'd really like nothing more than to be a housewife and stay-at-home mom (after I finish grad school), but it frustrates me when women tie their identity to having a significant other rather than realizing that they are a whole and worthwhile person by themselves.

But now I'm just projecting the 21st century onto the 1940s and 1950s.

Ago 24, 2011, 8:22pm


My general method for picking books this year has been thus:
1. Does it fit a category?
2. Does it sound interesting?

But this system is no more. The new method is as follows:
1. Does it fit a category?
2. Is it short?

Because I will finish on time, if I have to go without sleep for the entire month of December!

Ago 24, 2011, 9:00pm

I'll be rooting for you!

Ago 24, 2011, 9:01pm

You can do it!

Ago 25, 2011, 12:37pm

@ 61 -- Haha, I totally get that! I will probably use a similar rubric when the end of the year looms closer.

Ago 25, 2011, 12:42pm

I already know that there's one category that I'm not all that likely to complete, but I've decided I'm ok with that. I'm reading the entire 20-book Rougon-Macquart series by Émile Zola, and to get to 11 books this year, I should be reading one book per month, but it's not really happening. I might decide to cram a bunch in at the last minute though!

Ago 26, 2011, 3:49pm

Book: Michael O'Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter
Category: Names
Rating: 3.6

This book was way too "sweet" for my tastes. Essentially, it's the story of orphan Michael (Mickey) O'Halloran and the orphan girl, Peaches, whom he "adopts." Mickey is a good kid and he works hard selling newspapers to make enough money to support Peaches and himself, but Stratton-Porter expects us to believe that Mickey's goodness can rub off on everyone around him, healing broken marriages, reconciling parents and children, and just generally working miracles. Actually, one of the marriages is fixed by the wife listening to birds singing in a swamp and deciding that she's been a horribly selfish person because the bird songs are so beautiful.

Something that confused me was the very traditional gender roles espoused by the characters. The book was published in 1915, so such traditionalism is not out of place, but Gene Stratton-Porter was not exactly an example of traditional early 20th century femininity. So I'm not really sure why so many of her characters have such traditional views, saying things like boys raised by women will never become manly men and similar ideas.

Ago 26, 2011, 11:00pm

@66 Good question about the traditional views. Maybe she thought of herself as an exception? It's so hard for us to get in the mindset of back then, even though it really wasn't that long ago. & yes, that sweetness! I couldn't take it either, but it was also popular in those Victorian/Edwardian days.

Ago 31, 2011, 10:50am

Book: John Adams by David McCullough
Category: Names
Rating: 5.0

I hate reviewing non-fiction. Essentially, this book is excellent and amazing (and I don't usually like biography). Read it!

Ago 31, 2011, 3:16pm

Book: The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino
Category: 1001 Books/Guardian 1000
Rating: 2.9

The premise of this book is quite interesting - travelers stopping at a castle in the midst of a wood find themselves struck mute and are forced to communicate through a deck of tarot cards. Unfortunately, the limited number of tarot cards means that the narrator has to provide some interpretation of what others are trying to say. So there are several instances of "Well, he just laid down ____ card, which could mean this, but it could also mean that. Or it could mean this third thing entirely." Also, the entire story is told by the narrator with no dialogue, since no one can talk. The stories would be a lot better if they were told in a more conventional fashion.

Overall, each story seems more like the outline of a story rather than a story in and of itself. It's not a bad book, it's just drastically different from anything I've read before.

Editado: Sep 30, 2011, 1:52pm

August Recap

I'm now 74% finished!

Best Book: John Adams
Worst Book: Nothing truly bad. Excellent Women, Michael O'Halloran, and The Castle of Crossed Destinies were all various shades of okay.

1001 Books/Guardian 1000
Excellent Women - Barbara Pym
The Castle of Crossed Destinies - Italo Calvino

Rereads (COMPLETE)




Proper Names
Michael O'Halloran - Gene Stratton-Porter
John Adams - David McCullough



Fantasy/Science Fiction (COMPLETE)

Translated (COMPLETE)

Anything Goes
The Doll - Daphne Du Maurier

Just 31 books left to go! (7.75 books per month)

Ago 31, 2011, 11:42pm

That Calvino premise sounds awesome. He had a wild imagination.

Sep 1, 2011, 6:28am

@69/70 I got halfway through that before I got a bit bored and wandered off. I love the though and the fact he became obsessed with trying to get stories out of tarot cards.. in a way that fact is more of an interesting tale than the book

Sep 1, 2011, 8:36am

>71 cammykitty: The premise is way better than the execution, in my opinion, not because Calvino is a bad writer but because the way he tells the stories turns each story into more of an outline than a story.

>72 clfisha: I got bored with it as well, but it's short and I'm determined to finish all 121 books this year.

Sep 2, 2011, 1:19am

I've read enough Calvino to have a good idea about what you were reacting too. Cosmicomics could be a little that way. He compiled a huge collection of Italian Fairytales that is absolutely wonderful, and I wonder if he wasn't playing with the fairytale style which is very spare - lacking in detail. Paperdoll characters.

Sep 2, 2011, 4:44am

I am half way through Cosmicomics, I dip into to it every now and again so I am quite enjoying it, probably the best thing to do :)

Sep 2, 2011, 9:48am

>74 cammykitty: I've got the fairytale collection on my TBR pile. Cosmicomics has been recommended to me in the past, but based on the summaries I've read, I'm ambivalent.

Sep 2, 2011, 10:23pm

@75 I agree with clfisha. Books like that are better sampled off and on instead of read all at once. Kind of like binging on too many fancy little chocolates.

Sep 2, 2011, 11:16pm

I really have to check out Italo Calvino one of these days, he sounds like a really interesting writer.

Sep 3, 2011, 10:04am

>77 cammykitty: I binge on chocolate way more often than I should. It all tastes so good and I never seem to remember how bad I feel afterward. I'm not really good at moderation, in reading or food.

>78 Smiler69: You should. I do like him, despite my critiques. I think If on a winter's night a traveler is a good place to start with his work, because it's so very different from typical novels, it's well done, and it's a good example of his work.

Sep 3, 2011, 7:14pm

79 I was thinking If on a winter's night a traveler as well.

Sep 5, 2011, 12:43pm

I went to the Borders 60%-80% off sale today and came home with a small load of books. I haven't got anywhere to put them, and I also haven't got anywhere to put any more bookshelves, so the following are going to join the pile of books taking over my bedroom floor:

Blackout - Connie Willis
A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg
Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin
Collected Poems, 1909-1962 - T. S. Eliot
Shades of Grey - Jasper Fforde
Chez Panisse Vegetables - Alice Waters
Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes - Jennifer McLagan
P. Allen Smith's Seasonal Recipes from the Garden - P. Allen Smith

Sep 5, 2011, 12:56pm

@ 81 -- Good haul! I recently picked up Blackout at Borders as well.

Sep 5, 2011, 1:21pm

I picked up Blackout on Thursday at a Friends of the Library sale. I'm not planning on reading it until the 12-12 though.

Sep 5, 2011, 7:20pm

I read Blackout and All Clear earlier this year, but they're on the reread list for next year.

Sep 8, 2011, 10:09am

Book: A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
Category: Non-fiction
Rating: 4.0

This book, by the author of the blog Orangette, is part memoir and part cookbook, which makes it reminiscent of M. F. K. Fisher's numerous books. The writing quality also compares favorably with Fisher, although to me Fisher will always be the best food writer ever. I love the essays, and I love the recipes, although I just got the book and haven't tried any of them yet.

Sep 14, 2011, 5:51pm

Book: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Category: 1000 Books/Guardian 1000
Rating: 4.3

I'm not going to say much about this book because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it yet. All in all, it's a pretty brilliant mystery story, although I'm not quite as enamored of it as some people seem to be. I don't think it's Christie's absolute best (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd wins that prize in my book), but And Then There Were None is suspenseful and completely different from the cozier Miss Marples or more detective-driven Hercule Poirots.

Sep 22, 2011, 10:03am

Book: The Midwestern Pastoral: Place and Landscape in Literature of the American Heartland by William Barillas
Category: Non-Fiction
Rating: 3.0

This book was such a disappointment. Based on reviews and summaries, it should have been a great help to my research on Midwestern pastoral writing, but the book doesn't do "what it says on the tin." The opening chapter, to Barillas' credit, is wonderful. It really provides an interdisciplinary look at the history of pastoral writing, how such writing shaped the Midwest, and how the Midwest shaped pastoral writing.

Then Barillas spends each of five chapters analyzing a different author that he claims is influential in Midwestern pastoral writing. This is where the book gets into trouble. First, Barillas never defines "Midwest" or "Midwestern author." These seem like simple terms, but what is the Midwest, really? Does it include the Great Plains states? What about the Dakotas? Minnesota and Wisconsin? If one organizes the US such that there is a Great Lakes region and a Great Plains region, is the Midwest really just three states? Is Ohio really a part of the East? I grew up thinking Iowa was part of the Great Plains, but a classmate from Iowa was taught that it's part of the Midwest. Are we defining Midwest by topography, ecology, crops produced, culture, or linguistics? Can we split states in half? Are Midwestern authors from the Midwest, or do they just write about it? Can they move to New York City and still be a Midwestern author? What about a poet who writes about the Midwest until he moves to Oregon and starts writing about his new environment? Am I drastically overthinking this? : )

Barillas also does not analyze place nearly as much as he says he will. The chapter on Willa Cather spends 90% of its length on gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and immigration in Cather's work. It's an interesting and likely correct analysis, but not useful at all for someone doing pastoral or place research. The three chapters on poets spends more time analyzing the influence of their depression on their poetry than their land on their poetry. To be fair, though, the Aldo Leopold chapter is nicely done.

I thought this book would jump start my research, and it didn't. Disappointing.

And incidentally, out of the nine reviews published in academic journals, only one reviewer agreed with me. The other eight thought it was brilliant.

Sep 24, 2011, 10:19pm

Brilliant but off-topic and misnamed? I would've been annoyed too. You'd expect him to define his terms and look for commonalities among the authors, especially when it looks like the thesis question would be "How does landscape/geography affect the interests, themes and styles of authors?"

Sep 25, 2011, 12:40am

To his credit, I did find the definition of Midwest buried in the endnotes. I read the endnotes along with the book, so I should have seen it earlier, but it wasn't terribly clear. Plus, I was always taught that foot/endnotes are for citations and that if it's important enough to say in a note, it's important enough to say in the main text. The rest of my critique still stands.

Sep 28, 2011, 11:45pm

Book: The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen
Category: Jobs
Rating: 3.5

Just your typical fluffy historical fiction/romance novel. Entertaining, but nothing special.

Book: Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy L. Sayers
Category: Jobs
Rating: 4.0

A collections of Sayers mystery stories, some about Lord Peter Wimsey, some not. While the stories in this collection are good, I'd read the Lord Peter ones before and Montague Egg really got on my nerves.

Editado: Sep 30, 2011, 2:04pm

September Recap

I'm now 79% finished!

Best Book: Nothing I particularly liked this month, but...
Worst Book: Nothing was particularly bad, either. The Midwestern Pastoral was just frustrating.

1001 Books/Guardian 1000 (COMPLETED THIS MONTH)
And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

Rereads (COMPLETE)


A Homemade Life - Molly Wizenberg
The Midwestern Pastoral - William Barillas


Proper Names


The Apothecary's Daughter - Julie Klassen
Hangman's Holiday - Dorothy L. Sayers

Fantasy/Science Fiction

Translated (COMPLETE)

Anything Goes

Just 26 books left to go! (8.6 books per month)

Oct 5, 2011, 7:51pm

Another category completed!

Book: A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch
Category: Color
Rating: 3.9

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters, the plot, the setting, and I didn't figure out the mystery before the protagonist (I don't try to - I like to be surprised, as long as I can keep myself from reading the ending first. Bad habit, that.)

This really should have been more than a barely-four points rating for me, but the writing got in the way of my enjoying the book. The writing is all telling and no showing. There is also a lot of passive voice. (I just spent two days proofreading a 750-word paper 82 times in order to remove all weak writing after my professor demolished my first paper. I'm kind of judgmental about writing at the moment. This is actually a good book. You should read it.)

Oct 10, 2011, 3:28pm

Book: The September Society by Charles Finch
Category: Mysteries
Rating: 4.0

When a student at Oxford disappears, Charles Lenox is recruited to find him. In the process, Lenox comes across the mysterious September Society and attempts to tie together two murders that took place years and miles apart.

This book was much better written than the previous one, which made it much more enjoyable. Plot wise, this is just as good as the first in the series.

Oct 10, 2011, 3:34pm

Book: The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch
Category: Mysteries
Rating: 4.2

In the third book in the Charles Lenox series, Lenox is attempting to get elected to Parliament in northern England and trying to ignore the murder of two journalists back in London. But he keeps getting drawn into the murder investigation, despite needing to focus on winning the election.

I've been reading the Charles Lennox books in close succession, and this is by far the best one I've read yet. I found Finch's writing unpolished and grating in the first book, but the writing has improved in each book. The plots are more complex in this book than in the previous ones, which makes the investigation more interesting.

Also, I think the book covers for this series are brilliantly designed.

Oct 13, 2011, 10:15am

I've read 100 books this year!!! Just 21 left to go!

I'm behind by two reviews - I'll post those later today.

Oct 13, 2011, 1:24pm

It is so exciting to pass the 100 mark. Congratulations!

Oct 15, 2011, 10:38pm

Congrats! That's a lot of books!

Oct 17, 2011, 9:12am

Congrats on your 100 books so far!

Editado: Oct 27, 2011, 10:49am

I'm behind in posting reviews, so I'm going to catch up all in one post. I like writing short reviews better anyway.

Book: A Stranger in Mayfair by Charles Finch
Rating: 4.0
Category: Mystery

I liked this. I also read it long enough ago that I can't really remember it. Now I'm ready for my ER win of the next book to show up.

Book: The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell (edited by Christopher Hibbert)
Rating: 3.6
Category: Non-Fiction

This was just okay. I read the abridged version (~350 pages), which was nice. No way I'd finish the 1000+ page version, even if it was assigned for class. I enjoyed reading about life in Johnson's London, but honestly, Boswell was such a suck-up and name dropper and Johnson-stalker. It was a little weird.

Book: The Way of Improvement Leads Home by John Fea
Rating: 4.7
Category: Non-Fiction

This is an excellent biography of Philip Vickers Fithian, a Presbyterian minister in Revolutionary War-era New Jersey. Fea also does a good job of explaining the rural Enlightenment popular at the time among educated country gentlemen. This was another read for school, but I really enjoyed it. I did find that having a Calvinist-leaning Evangelical background helped in understanding Fea's analysis of eighteenth century evangelical Presbyterianism.

I hope to read more books soon. I'm working on a massive project at the moment that involves hours of reading every day (I need to annotate 30+ relevant books between now and early December), but no books completed, because I'm reading only parts of books. But I am reading about a lot of interesting subjects, including:

- the history of American property laws between Revolution and today
- the social history of American farmwives
- the influence of federal farm policy on small-scale farming
- the rise of the sustainable farming movement

Editado: Oct 27, 2011, 5:05pm

I went book-buying again yesterday. I now have ~10 linear feet of books without shelves. I can't put in more shelving because I have the world's oddest bedroom:

- north wall: built-in desk, closet
- east wall: windows (the whole wall)
- south wall: wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, the door (important feature, that)
- west wall: "blank" wall (aka the only place to put a dresser, because my closet is tiny)

So not only are there no more walls for shelving, but I'm quickly overcoming my 144 sq. ft. of floor space. Should I take out my bed? (I downsized from a full to a twin three years ago so I could double the shelf space of the built-ins.)

Anyhow, yesterday I bought:
- A Letter of Mary by Laurie R. King (I'm slowly replacing my mass market paperbacks with trade paperbacks)
- The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson (on sale 85% off!!)
- Feast by Nigella Lawson
- Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson
- Enya's A Day without Rain

I almost bought three Agatha Christie first editions, but they were in a somewhat fragile state, and I don't have room for books I can't read.

Oct 28, 2011, 6:55pm

Who needs a view! Stick 'em in front of the window. (Kidding) Perhaps build a bookshelf platform and stick your bed on top of it? Then add a ladder so you can climb into bed.

Ah, I've drooled over The Oxforc Companion to Food but it's never made it home with me. You'll have to let me know. & the Nigella Lawson books should be good too. I have one of her cookbooks and don't use it as much as I should. The chocolate hazelnut "pudding" in it is almost too decadent for my friends.

Oct 28, 2011, 7:12pm

I've thought about lofting my bed and putting short bookshelves underneath it, but my bedroom has a 7-foot ceiling, so I can't raise the bed too much.

Oct 28, 2011, 7:20pm

Not unless you don't mind waking up to a daily concussion.

Editado: Nov 30, 2011, 9:48am

October Recap

I'm now 85% finished!

Best Book: I really enjoyed The Way of Improvement Leads Home
Worst Book: The Life of Samuel Johnson, while sometimes interesting, felt like I was hanging out with someone else's friends.

1001 Books/Guardian 1000 (COMPLETE)

Rereads (COMPLETE)

The September Society - Charles Finch
The Fleet Street Murders - Charles Finch
A Stranger in Mayfair - Charles Finch

The Life of Samuel Johnson - James Boswell
The Way of Improvement Leads Home - John Fea
Anne Orthwood's Bastard - John Ruston Pagan

A Beautiful Blue Death - Charles Finch

Proper Names



Fantasy/Science Fiction

Translated (COMPLETE)

Anything Goes
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie

Just 18 books left to go! (9 books per month)

ETA: I finished The Murder of Roger Ackroyd at 11:47 pm, so it's still October. :)

Oct 31, 2011, 8:35pm

Wow, you really plowed through the Charles Lenox books! Looks like we are both ready for A Burial at Sea now...hope it gets here soon!

Oct 31, 2011, 10:00pm

>105 christina_reads: So do I! I'm holding the last spot in my mystery category for it.

Nov 2, 2011, 10:36pm

hanging out with someone else's friends good description!

Nov 2, 2011, 10:47pm

>107 cammykitty: I really didn't dislike Life of Johnson, I just found it boring. It's perfect for someone doing research into that time period, but not terribly interesting for just reading.

Nov 2, 2011, 10:57pm

I get it. The kind of book that one can easily be distracted from. Just like sitting through uncomfortable in depth discussions of a movie you never intend to see. Someone else really gets into it but...

Editado: Nov 2, 2011, 11:12pm

>109 cammykitty: Yes, and like that movie discussion, you haven't even got enough background knowledge to keep the characters straight or to understand why certain plot developments are important.

Plus, Boswell is such a name-dropper and suck-up.

Nov 3, 2011, 6:27pm

Glad to see that someone else likes Charles Finch!! I'm saving the latest one for 12 in 12.

To finish my historical mysteries category, I will instead read the new Abigail Adams mystery, Sup with the Devil by Barbara Hamilton.

Nov 3, 2011, 9:57pm

Seeing your comment about The Life of Johnson made me chuckle again as I thought of Flavia de Luce's comment about that book in A Red Herring Without Mustard, which I just finished reading tonight.

Nov 4, 2011, 4:59pm

Ha Ha Plus, Boswell is such a name-dropper and suck-up. That's the one thing I remember about Boswell from my college English lit class.

Nov 9, 2011, 3:40pm

Book: Behold, Here's Poison by Georgette Heyer
Category: Mystery
Rating: 4.1

WARNING: Very mild spoilers

When Gregory Matthews is found dead, his family assumes it is an accident. But when his sister insists on an autopsy, Gregory was found to have been poisoned. As the insufferable and noxious Matthews family dissolves into accusations and passive-aggressive infighting, it is up to Inspector Hannasyde to solve the murder without igniting a civil war.

I greatly enjoyed this mystery, although the conclusion is just a bit too neatly handled. All of the characters are obnoxious to one degree or another, and I really wanted to beat half of them over the head with a stick before I was halfway through the book. Actually, I really liked the plot, but despised the characters. They are all a strange mix of ignorance, stupidity, and self-righteousness.

Nov 12, 2011, 10:27pm

Book: A Comedy of Terrors by Michael Innes
Category: Anything Goes
Rating: 3.2

This is only the second Innes mystery I've read, and I didn't like it nearly as well as the other one. Essentially, this is a variation on the country-house murder, where everyone gets accused and anyone could be the killer. Except the victim isn't killed, merely injured. I won't attempt a summary, because I couldn't keep any of the characters straight.

Also, the book has a first person narrator who is constantly making asides to the reader, which I very much dislike. The plot is too overwrought and the conclusion is too neat and doesn't really fit with the previous 240 pages of plot development. Innes does get bonus points for making me think that this would end similarly to a famous Agatha Christie novel; if he had used that particular plot, it would have made the book much better.

Nov 19, 2011, 8:41am

I'm going to the library book sale for the county library system today. Usually I either buy tons of books or come home with nothing, with no middle ground. I'm hoping to find a lot, but I have negative shelf space left, and I think my floor might hate me if I bring home any more books. But at 50 cents paperback, $1 hardcover, I can't not go, right?

Nov 19, 2011, 12:47pm

Good luck at the book sale! If you can see the floor, you still have space. ;)

Nov 19, 2011, 1:05pm

Yeah, but I kind of feel like a hoarder with tiny paths through the chaos, except mine's all books instead of random junk. Well, there's some random junk too, but it's mostly books. And shoes. I have way too many shoes.

Nov 19, 2011, 1:57pm

So here's what I picked up at the library book sale at an average cost of 65 cents per book:

CookWise - Shirley O. Corriher
Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes - Jeanne Kelley

An Edible History of Humanity - Tom Standage
Cleopatra: A Life - Stacy Schiff

Magic by the Lake - Edward Eager
The Time Garden - Edward Eager
The Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau - Anthony Hope
The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens
Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld
The Prydain Chronicles (complete series in one volume) - Lloyd Alexander
Partners in Crime - Agatha Christie
Cranford - Elizabeth Gaskell
Rainbow Valley - L. M. Montgomery
Curtain - Agatha Christie
Hallowe'en Party - Agatha Christie
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams
The Fourth Bear - Jasper Fforde

I haven't read any of these except for Rainbow Valley, and that was years ago, so I'm looking forward to reading all of them... in 2012, since none of them really fit the remaining gaps for this year.

Nov 20, 2011, 1:57pm

Haha, glad you decided to embrace your book-hoarding tendencies. Nice haul! I just bought Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency at a library sale also.

Nov 20, 2011, 6:50pm

My brother really likes Douglas Adams, but I haven't read anything of his except for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I'm really looking forward to Leviathan, since I've heard nothing but good things about it. I'd like to read it for one of my last two fantasy/science fiction slots, but I know I should read something shorter because I'm running out of time. I'm also looking forward to The Prydain Chronicles, the Agatha Christie novels, and The Fourth Bear. I'm such a Fforde fan (or is that ffan?).

Nov 20, 2011, 11:01pm

Book: A Night of Errors by Michael Innes
Category: Anything Goes
Rating: 4.5

An intriguing mystery of long-lost relatives, dark family secrets, blackmail, and inter-continental intrigue, this novel borders on Gothic with its suspenseful plot and sinister twists. The plot is also remarkable as the entire story takes place in less than twenty-four hours. However, the plot never feels rushed; rather Innes moves the story along at just the right speed to maximize the suspense and horror.

Nov 23, 2011, 11:07pm

Book: The Italian Secretary by Caleb Carr
Category: Professions
Rating: 3.8

It's always risky to try to write a new book using someone else's characters, particularly when the main character is as famous and popular as Sherlock Holmes. Carr does a fairly good job of reproducing Conan Doyle's Victorian England, and he does an acceptable job of reproducing Holmes, although the "real" Holmes was never as verbose as Carr's. Where Carr really fails is in reproducing Watson. Carr's Watson is much more Holmes' intellectual equal than Conan Doyle's Watson ever was. Watson wasn't stupid, or else Holmes wouldn't have kept him around, but Watson never the talent or knowledge to put together random bits the way Holmes could.

Also, the mystery isn't really all that mysterious. Carr never allows suspense to build up as new plot complications are revealed; he solves the problems practically as soon as they arise. The conclusion is a bit of a let-down, particularly the bad guys' "evil machine." (Although, I will admit, I have more than a passing familiarity with medieval siege equipment. Despite having absolutely no interest in military history, I find the history of weaponry and defenses to be fascinating.)

Editado: Nov 27, 2011, 1:38pm

Book: The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
Category: Professions
Rating: 4.7

This is an amazing book. Quite possibly one of the best I've read this year.

The Calligrapher's Daughter is the story of Najin, a Korean girl born in 1910, the same year that Korea became a protectorate of Imperial Japan, against the will of many Koreans. It follows Najin's life from 1910 to 1945, during which time Korea experienced massive cultural changes, some a result of WWII and others a result of Japanese occupation. Najin is among the first generation of Korean women to receive formal education and to have some right to determine her own future. The love story in the book is perfectly written and not completely the focus of the book (I'm not a big fan of straight up romance novels, but I don't mind books in which characters fall in love).

I particularly enjoyed the depictions of traditional Korean life, since my knowledge of Korea involves a post-1953 divided nation, the site of an American attempt to stop the spread of Communism, and M*A*S*H reruns.

Nov 26, 2011, 10:19pm

I've had The Calligrapher's Daughter on my wishlist for a long time, I see I should be nudging it closer to the top. Maybe I should push for an Asian themed read for the Reading Through Time Challenge.

Nov 27, 2011, 1:38pm

You should! It's such a wonderful book.

Nov 27, 2011, 10:31pm

I read The Calligrapher's Daughter last year and really enjoyed it! Definitely an interesting look at a culture I know basically nothing about.

Editado: Nov 30, 2011, 9:56am

November Books Read

I'm now 89% finished!

Best Book: The Calligrapher's Daughter, definitely
Worst Book: A Comedy of Terrors - it's a good example of the negatives of Golden Age crime novels

1001 Books/Guardian 1000 (COMPLETE)

Rereads (COMPLETE)

Behold, Here's Poison - Georgette Heyer



Proper Names


The Italian Secretary - Caleb Carr
The Calligrapher's Daughter - Eugenia Kim

Fantasy/Science Fiction

Translated (COMPLETE)

Anything Goes
A Comedy of Terrors - Michael Innes
A Night of Errors - Michael Innes

Just 13 books left to finish the challenge!!!

Nov 30, 2011, 2:51pm

You can do it!

Nov 30, 2011, 8:49pm

Thanks! I don't think I'll have that much trouble finishing, although I haven't got any time to read during the next six days, as I have to start and finish a historiography by the 6th. My week looks something like this:

Wednesday: Organize sources (identify theses, classify by type of history, order by publication date)
Thursday: Work on other stuff for other classes
Friday: Write 5 pages
Saturday: Write 5 pages
Sunday: Write 5 pages, plus introduction/conclusion
Monday: Rewrite; proofread
Tuesday: Proofread; deliver to professor's office by 3pm

Dic 18, 2011, 10:33am

And I'm back...

I didn't read anything for the first two weeks of December because I was too busy with end of the semester projects, but once the semester ended and I got my traditional end-of-semester cold, I started reading again like crazy. Here's a brief rundown of what I read while I was sick:

Book: A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch
Category: Anything Goes
Rating: 3.7

This was my ER win from September, and I'd been waiting not-so-patiently for it since I read the other four books in the Charles Lenox series (I still think that an author named Charles should not also name his main character Charles; it's confusing). This was an entertaining read, although not as good as some of the others in the series. Most of the action takes place on board a ship, which severely limits the scope of the book. Also, the espionage part of the book is rather weak. I also missed the depictions of Victorian London.

Book: Edward Hopper: Forty Masterworks
Category: Names
Rating: 5.0

This is a collection of forty of Hopper's oil paintings. I love Edward Hopper for his use of vibrant color and because he's one of the few artists I can adequately reproduce with my minimal art skills.

Book: A Student's Guide to Political Philosophy by Harvey C. Mansfield
Category: Professions
Rating: 4.1

This was a somewhat dull introduction to the history of political philosophy.

Book: Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm
Category: Names
Rating: 3.2

I don't even know where to begin with this book. I can't really summarize the plot, because it's a very one-note plot and I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The whole book doesn't make any sense, but Beerbohm has an excellent vocabulary that sent me to the dictionary repeatedly. It's still just an okay read.

Dic 18, 2011, 1:20pm

Welcome back! Sorry to learn about the end-of-semester cold. Hopefully it was short lived.

I am currently reading A Burial at Sea - at page 190 - and agree with your review. I am felling a little bit let down by this fifth installment in the Charles Lennox series and the shift Finch has taken with the story.

Dic 18, 2011, 1:34pm

I also agree re A Burial at Sea; I still liked it well enough, but it definitely wasn't as good as some of the earlier installments. But I hope that Book 6 will return us to the London setting and characters we all love!

Dic 18, 2011, 1:43pm

I did love the cover of A Burial at Sea. All the books in that series have fabulous cover art!

Dic 26, 2011, 2:17pm

>131 casvelyn: I still think that an author named Charles should not also name his main character Charles; it's confusing

I agree.

There seems to be pretty universal agreement about A Burial at Sea. It's too bad, since I thought book #4 was the best yet. Nevertheless, I plan to read it next year.

Dic 26, 2011, 7:17pm

>135 ivyd: #4 is my favorite, too. A Burial at Sea isn't a horribly flawed book--it's quite entertaining as far as light mystery novels go--but it's just not as good as the others.

Dic 27, 2011, 12:24am

I've got to read 5 books in the next 5 days to finish my challenge. Can I do it? I think so. I've picked short books, but I may be posting my statement of victory at 11:59:59 pm (EST) next Saturday.

Dic 27, 2011, 1:53am

You can do it!!! My Books off the Shelf challenge is likely to be a failure. 4 books to go and very little time. I'm thinking if I don't post anything more on that thread, though, no one will notice I failed. ;)

Good luck!

Dic 27, 2011, 11:56am

>137 casvelyn: - You can do it casvelyn!

Dic 27, 2011, 5:20pm

I went to the used bookstore today to spend some of my Christmas money and to sell some books I no longer wanted. I ended up spending less than the credit I got for my books, so I didn't have to touch any of my Christmas money at all! Plus I got three new (to me) books. The sad part is that I can't read them until Sunday because none of them fit my remaining categories. :( I wanna read my books!!!

(For the record, I bought: The Bloody Wood, Sleeping Murder, and The Big Over Easy.)

Editado: Dic 31, 2011, 8:51pm


I may have read a pamphlet on popular Dewey call numbers for my last non-fiction book, but I finished the challenge earlier this evening.

See y'all in 2012... aka 3 1/2 hours. My 12 in 12 thread can be found here:

Ene 1, 2012, 1:25pm


Ene 1, 2012, 3:13pm

Congratulations! I knew you could do it!

Ene 1, 2012, 3:52pm


Ene 2, 2012, 5:49pm

Woohoo, congratulations on making it in under the wire!