Tuesday, September 5, 2017

My New Blog

Wow, this process took a lot longer than I anticipated. I bought my Siteground hosting in April, but I wasn't able to get everything to start to fall into place until recently. I'm still working on a few things, but my site is now presentable.

Hop over here and check it out. I will be posting the rest of my August reading over there. I may pop back here from time to time, but this new site will be my main blog.

Monday, September 4, 2017

What I Read August: Nonfiction

I read/finished the most books per month this month: 15. Four of these are nonfiction. We'll start with the heavy

1. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry by Philip D. Morgan. I will be brief. I'm not going into the topic, not the scope here, just the scholarship. Exactly the type of meticulous research and analysis that I think all historians should use. Reminded me of my favorite Albion's Seed in the scholarly rigor. I do think he could have cut out some redundancy in the end and much detail in the beginning (I don't need to understand every single step of the cultivation process of every plant to understand his point about the grueling brutality). So for my self-imposed U.S. history course, I have 2 out of 3 books in less than two years (maybe when I'm 40 I will have completed it), still, with all the books out there that are a great percentage.

2. Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky by Paul Johnson. Yes, this was rather disappointing. I didn't think the author wrote well. His points, clarity, structure, and continuity are unclear and convoluted. I do appreciate learning about some of these people, but I don't understand his decision-making process for including others. I have to say I thought he made mostly poor choices. I wouldn't call all his choice intellectuals and of those who might be not all were/are all that influential.

Now "ad hominem" came to mind, and many other reviewers claimed that the author made this fallacy, but I think that is misplaced and misconstrued here. I don't think he is analyzing these people's arguments; however, like I said before, clarity is not his strong point (if he has a strong point?). I don't choose arguments based on people, but I do think you should reject immoral people even if their arguments aren't sound; the ends do not justify the means. Logical argument is not the only consideration, there are also morality and persuasion. However, immoral and fallible are often confused.

I would definitely state that most of these people are terribly immoral and massively hypocritical. Some reviewers said he only focused on the bad. Quite frankly, unless he lied, no good could cover all the bad that he described in these people. I think it is good to know the failings of influential people, particularly if they practiced a lack of ethics and lied in their contributions to society. However, I don't think we need to know all the biographies of unimportant people (which adjective I think describes most of these in terms of intellectual influence). And we certainly don't need to know a gross level of scandal.

That I think is the worst part of this book. His disgusting, obsessive, voyeuristic descriptions of sexual issues. I felt that he had some sort of complex. I mean he gave waaay more detail to this, graphic in my opinion, than any other issues he described. Immorality and abuse can and should be stated, but I don't need to know such vile detail that he too clearly enjoyed giving. Some of the things he shared didn't even relate to the major figures he featured. Even if the book had been well-written, I'm not sure that that would justify reading this. I wish I had put it down. Actually, I should have put several books down this month.*

3. Belles on Their Toes by Ernestine Gilbreth and Frank Gilbreth, Jr. Sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen. I found this even funnier than the first although I will note that some may be uncomfortable with the at times slightly suggestive humor.

4. Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light by Amy Thomas This is indescribably silly, trivial, and poorly written. I didn't really learn much about Paris or Parisian culture. The author focused on

#1  Flinging a slew of French food terms that meant nothing to me without pronunciation aids (which is frustrating); I couldn't appreciate learning about new food because I couldn't understand what the food was.

#2Switching back between New York and Paris restaurants. Um, what about the rest of the city of Paris. And the book isn't about New York.

#3 Herself and her embarrassing, insecure, awkward, immature #firstworldproblems.

I had no connotations, no knowledge to draw from to understand any of the French terms she threw at me. I felt like she was being intentionally snooty and ostentatious without being in the least educational. I wish I had put this down, a waste of time; I learned so much more from my skimming of Lessons from Madame Chic, and I'm sure there are tons of better books on Paris and Parisian food. This book is one of the most poorly written I've ever read; it is clearly all about the author having a publishing deal for herself.

Not a great nonfiction month, especially considering the fact that I had at least one guaranteed excellent nonfiction book on my shelf that I could have been reading instead of the absurd/awful ones.

*Oh, and he also quoted foul language. Again, just stated that the person cursed or something. I hate when people write for shock value. That distracts from the rest of the writing, which oftentimes in such cases is weak.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What I Watched Recently

I don't think I watched many new movies. I can only remember one new movie, a Hallmark, A Country Wedding which was super cute. We rewatched a lot of movies including North and South, That Darn Cat, and Parent Trap (I got all these for my birthday).

However, I have watched a lot of travel shows over the last couple months

Rick Steves Europe
This my least favorite. A bit more touristy/watered down history. Not enough culture or interesting details.

Little Europe (this featured five micro countries which can all fit into the sixth smallest, Luxembourg)
Israel (not Europe, clearly, but still under this show)

The Curious Traveler
I like the focus on architecture and historical details.

Kotor, Montenegro
Oslo, Norway
Bordeaux, France
Venice, Italy

Born to Explore
This is my favorite. He focuses on food, nature, handicrafts, culture, animals, etc. The Namibia show focused entirely on cheetah conservation. I think the shows on Turkey and Namibia may have been my favorites.

Turkey
India
Shetland Islands, Scotland
Namibia

Wild Alaska Live Special
Anyone else grow up with the Kratt brothers' shows? Pretty sure I had a crush on Chris. When I was little I watched Kratt's Creatures every so often. When my youngest sisters were little they watched Zoboomafoo. Us older siblings watched them too, but I apparently wasn't as devoted; the little girls can remember so many episodes and details.

Well, they've aged considerably, but still apparently talk the same way as they did in their kids' shows. A bit jarring. But these three 2+ hour long specials on Alaska were magnificent. They filmed these during the Alaskan salmon runs at a couple locations including Tongass Natural Forest and Katmai National Park. The show focused on how salmon is the keystone to the entire Alaskan ecosystem and feature all sorts of Alaskan wildlife: brown (called Grizzlies in the lower 48 and black bears, beavers, otters, orcas, humpback whales, bald eagles, gray wolves, an absolutely adorable porcupine, salmon (of course), and some of the ugliest animals I've ever seen, walruses. I had forgotten they existed, and I must have only ever seen photos and drawings of the supermodels of this animal. They appallingly ugly. Anyway, the whole show showcases the absolute gorgeousness of this area of our country. Glaciers, lakes, forests, fjords, etc. Well worth a watch or two. (I watched a considerable amount again with my sister who hadn't seen it the first time).

Ireland's Wild Coast Special
A two-hour show featuring man making his way around the Atlantic coast of Ireland in an old-style boat. A rather softer part of nature, compared to Alaska. Even the salmon look different because of the milder environment; they didn't go throught the bizarrely dramatic changes the Alaskan salmon did. Birds (including the ludicrous, adorable puffins) comprised a huge proportion of the wildlife, but we also saw humpback whales again, a blue shark, a basking shark, red deer (they are huge, my sister thought they looked like cows; the mule deer out West were huge too, not like our over super abundant white-tailed deer), red squirrel (much prettier than our aggressive gray squirrel which has apparently invaded and harmed red squirrel populations in Ireland and the UK), and pine martin.

I was looking up the name of the last animal and discovered the last wolf was killed in Ireland in the 18th century. I guess that is rather more recent than I would have thought although I usually think of England in terms of that (and they became extinct there two centuries earlier; that is a big difference though). Wolves are "extinct" if you can call it that in my state and region which is JUST fine with me. They are one of the most dangerous predators to humans and their animals. By wolf, I mean gray wolf. I think the coyotes around here may have red wolf blended in them.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How I Choose My Books Tag

I found this tag here and thought I would do this.

Find a book on your shelves with a blue cover. What made you pick up that book in the first place?

An Old-Fashioned Girl by L. M. Montgomery. I saw it on my grandparents' bookshelves, and when they downsized, I got to keep it!

Think of a book you didn’t expect to enjoy but did. Why did you read it in the first place?

I brushed off some middle-grade novels because they were middle-grade novels, um people, those are what are blossoming now. But stupid me. Specifically, Harry Potter (I was caught by the fourth movie), and the Penderwicks (I got into these after all my sisters raved about them).


Stand in front of your bookshelf with your eyes closed and pick a book at random. How did you discover this book? 

Wuthering Heights. Um, well, it's well known?

Pick a book that someone personally recommended to you. What did you think of it?

Knife by R. J. Anderson (well, the trilogy and the duology that followed). It sucked me right.

Pick a book you discovered through book blogs. Did it live up to the hype?

Blue Castle. I didn't discover it, but I had written it out because of mistaken understanding, and when lots of bloggers started raving about it I had to try. My library had to get a new copy, and I saw the lovely cover and read the beginning, and I was drawn right in, and DID it live up to the hype!

Find a book on your shelves with a one-word title. What drew you to this book?

Entwined. Twelve dancing princesses retelling. Another blogger recommendation.

What book did you discover through a film/TV adaptation?

Pride and Prejudice. Friends introduced my sister to the '95 adaptation, and then other friends brought it to a sleep-over.

Think of your all-time favourite books. When did you read these and why did you pick them up in the first place?

All-time favorites? That is a bit concrete and permanent. Rosemary Sutcliffe novels (introduced through school, around age 14) are some of my longest loved books.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top Ten Tuesay: Back to School Suggestions

I'm linking up at The Broke and the Bookish again.

I'm going to split my list, some classics, some historical fiction

I'm going to pick classic novels that I hadn't heard much or anything about until I entered the blogosphere or until I read the more popular ones by the author. I found the stories and writing style of Eliot interesting in her long novels (but not her novellas), and I preferred Charlotte Brontë's more mature style in her less famous works. And the less famous Anne has an interesting novel that is as gothic as Emily's in a different way. 

Classics (high school)

1. Middlemarch by George Eliot
2. Adam Bede by George Eliot
3. Daniel Deronda by George Eliot
4. Shirley Charlotte Brontë 
5. The Professor by Charlotte Brontë 
6. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë 

Historical Fiction (middle and high school)

7. Jip, His Story by Katherine Patterson (I love her writing and this story ranks with Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge to Terebithia in quality of plot and writing)
8. Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
9. Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
10. The entire Eagle of the Ninth series by Rosemary Sutcliff (except the adult crossover with King Arthur novel Sword at Sunset which is inappropriate for children plus doesn't fit in with the rest of the series well). This series traces a family line through the various periods, cultures, and people groups of Britain starting with a Roman Italian who marries a woman from what is now Wales all the way to a family in a Viking stronghold in the time of the Normans. 

The Eagle of the Ninth 
The Silver Branch 
Frontier Wolf
The Lantern Bearers 
Dawn Wind 
Sword Song 
The Shield Ring

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Books I Read and Movies I Watched in July

Let's just say this was an embarrassing month. I read a whopping 2 books and watched and re-watched a TON of Hallmark.

Books
So I read two books . . . but only one new one. I did read on plenty of other books that I will be finishing up in August (but that I easily could have finished in July, ahem).

Reread
A Tangled Web
Since I was not super motivated with my main stack of books, I decided to read something I wanted to read. I've since increased my lighter and fun reading pile. I usually have plenty of fun novels, but they are usually shorter, and I read them first, plus this time I didn't finish at least two.

Anyway, I had forgotten some of this, and I love all the details. I laughed out loud at parts. I went back and re-read parts again after I had finished re-reading.

New Read
Cheaper by the Dozen
Dad started reading this to us when we were small; he may have finished it, but what I found most memorable were the times he stopped because of not age appropriate issues. Definitely adult areas, but written in a way a child wouldn't understand, I think. I was surprised at this for the time period though.

Movies
At some point, I might start writing down all my re-watches because I need to limit my movie viewing. I don't want to watch movies at the same pace or higher than I read whether they be new or not. I'm not sure if I've listed everything, but this is bad good enough. I don't have much to say. We, of course, enjoyed the Thin Man mystery, and some of the Hallmarks (the last two listed) were dumb/boring, some were cute and funny (the first two listed) and one had a really funny guy but the rest was blah.

Classics
Shadow of the Thin Man

Rewatches
Hallmarks
How to Steal a Million
Roman Holiday

Hallmark
Surprised by Love
Appetite For Love
Moonlight in Vermont
Autumn in the Vineyard
Chance At Romance



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Fairy Stories

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie (here is the list on The Broke and the Bookish). 

Mine is fairy stories, not really fairy-tales, but rather stories that feature the fairy realm. And this is eleven and all that I've read in this category.

~Fairies of the Celtic Lands by Nigel Suckling. This is a book about what is essentially Celtic mythology which is what fairies are. And this is the original dark stuff, not the cute, fun pixies and sparkles and Disney. You can see how Tolkien formed his fictional universe. This is essential to understand better the British based novels below (only Wildwood Dancing is not British)

~Faery Rebels (Knife/Spell-Hunter, Rebel/Wayfarer, and Arrow). Set in Britain and based on Celtic/British mythology. Absolutely riveting.

~Swift and Nomad. These follow the above three chronologically in the same fictional universe (and with some of the same characters) but are part of their own series. The author planned a third but to our sorrow, that hasn't worked out yet. These are my favorite.

~Wildwood Dancing. I love this. Set in Transylvania with a hint of the twelve dancing princesses fairy tale (my favorite) and touches of vampire legends, just enough to spook but not enough to terrify. I didn't enjoy Cybele's Secret as well.

~13 Treasures, 13 Curses, and 13 Secrets. These are technically middle grade, but be warned, they are dark (more like the actual tales), and the last is far too gruesome for that age (and for me in parts)




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Art Fair Haul

My grandparents and I made our fourth annual trip to a local art fair again. I went once before without them and then after I invited them once we've made it a tradition. I love it. My attention span matches with their strength and the area is a nice, small size.


This lovely tray is made out of recycled aluminum; its as elegant looking as pewter but lighter and less expensive. The lady said is was safer for food use too, but I know other people disagree with use of aluminum with food. 


I love these little houses. I bought different sizes and colors for my sister, and I'd love to have a more full collection. They are adorable alone but can also be used for vases and planters.

I also bought natural bug spray and poison ivy treatment spray. The latter contains jewelweed. I'd read about that before when searching for poison ivy helps (I seem to get it every year, probably from the animals although I haven't got it yet). The lady who made these sprays says jewelweed grows by poison ivy which I thought was fascinating.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Books as Cake Tag

I'm still trying to tie up things for my new blog, and because I'm still learning how to prepare and not wing everything, this is taking much longer than I expected because I'm constantly finding out new things. So, here is another tag.

I've seen a few versions of this tag, but I don't like some of the cakes/haven't had some and didn't think all the choices fit, so I scrambled them up from the sources and then scrambled the tag up and also added my own cakes and categories.

Dark Chocolate Cake: a Dark Book You Enjoyed
All the Light You Cannot See. This is possibly the darkest book that I've read and enjoyed, but I'm not sure I'd read it again. I know too much about WWII (and yet hardly a drop), and I kept adding to what the writer said in my head.

Chocolate Cake: a Book You'd Recommend to Everyone
That would have to be non-fiction, sorry, I don't think people have the same fiction tastes. Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer. An amazing history of the colonization of the United States that explains SO much of our history and culture. Oh, I'm sorry is does that sound like a vegetable book to you? Well, it shouldn't. I found it quite readable for a scholarly work and absolutely fascinating in content and organization.

Angel Food Cake: a Light Read (because vanilla cake ISN'T light people)
The Ordinary Princess by M. M. Kaye. Princess and fairytale stories are my go-to light reading category.

Vanilla Cake: a Romance
I'm going to put something different from Blue Castle although that is good, everyone seems to be talking about it so instead I will choose The Harvester by Gene Stratton-Porter.

Red Velvet Cake: a Favorite Mystery
Whose Body by Dorothy Sayers. What caught me and held me to the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. There are few boring ones, but the ones with him and Harriet Vane!

Cheesecake (cause I'm not a cheesecake fan): a Book You Didn't Finish
So many, I don't remember them all. I didn't think them worth finishing after all. The most recent unfinished book was the first of Andrew Peterson's Wingfeather saga. I did appreciate his humorous references to popular fantasy novels and the ridiculous amount he sculled from them. However, that is not enough for a story. His characters were awful and the story slow. And the scatological humor and other gross 6-year old boy descriptions made me want to gag regularly; this was SO unnecessary and beyond distracting. I ended up skimming and sending back to the library.

I don't feel compelled to finish books. I dislike the check box mentality. To-dos are for accomplishing worthy activities, not simply to complete something. Don't waste your time merely to complete something. and there are too many good books in the world and too many good things in the world to waste time on bad and mediocre books.

Carrot Cake: a Book You Had Mixed Feelings About (I'm not sure I really HAVE mixed feelings about books, I'm a bit take it or leave it)
I'm going to go with Jacob Have I Loved. I loved the writing, but the story has some content issues, and I didn't find the ending (and the ending writing quality) satisfying.

Pound Cake: a Book with Great Writing (because the best poundcake has perfect texture)
So many books have great writing. That is a HUGE reason why I like them. And I like reading whole spades of books from authors whose writing I liked. No, wait. I've found one. The Book Thief. I loved the writing for that, but when I tried another of his books, his writing style didn't translate well for that story, it felt overwrought, absurd, and out of place.

Ice Cream Cake: a Book with All the Layers and Details
I'm going to go with a recent re-read, A Tangled Web. So much going on here. So many lovely details that you forget and love to find again when re-reading.

A Teeny Tiny Petit Four (since every other cake fills you quite up): A Book that Left You Wanting More
Okay, I'm going to be lazy and pick an unfinished work: Sandition. Oh, it looks to be one of her best novels and best heroes! There are so many books that leave me wanting more to various degrees. More about continued generations, more about the characters' lives later, more details.

Cupcakes: a Favorite  4+ Book Series
I'm cheating, sort of. My sisters and I consider R. J. Anderson's Faery Rebel trilogy Knife (Spell-hunter in U.S.), Rebel (Wayfarer in U.S.), and Arrow the beginning part of a series with the duology (Swift and Nomad) following because of the same universe and characters and the chronology. I think only the first two are available in U.S., but I ordered them all from Amazon U.K. so all the covers would match together.

Fruitcake: a Book that Was Not What You Expected
Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrell. I expected more of a usual style of fantasy, but this was almost like Dickens plus magicians. Odd too in other ways.

Strawberry Cake: Your Favorite American Novel
I haven't read many U.S. classics and don't like what I've read. I prefer children's classics, and I will go with A Bridge to Terebithia. I love Katherine Patterson's writing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The "100 Books the BBC Think Most People Haven't Read More than 6 of" Tag

I found this post via Olivia's blog here, but MovieCritic made it here.

Also, I'm not sure there is any evidence that the BBC ever made such a list or made such a claim. Nevertheless, this tag is fun.

The ones I've read (17), I've highlighted. I plan to read some of more of these titles. I'm not absolutely certain about all the ones I've skimmed or started (or which is which), so I didn't mark those. Many of the others I've never heard of. I'm not going to tag anyone, but feel free to tag yourself.

1.  Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 
2.  Gormenghast Trilogy -  Mervyn Peake
3.  Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë 
4.  Temple of the Golden Pavilion - Yukio Mishima
5.  To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee 
6.  The Story of the Eye - George Bataille
7.  Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë 
8.  Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell 
9.  Adrift on the Nile - Naguib Mahfouz
10.  Great Expectations - Charles Dickens 
11.  Little Women - Louisa May Alcott 
12.  Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13.  Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14.  Rhinoceros - Eugene Ionesco
15.  Baron in the Trees - Italo Calvino
16.  The Master of Go - Yasunari Kawabata
17.  Woman in the Dunes - Abe Kobo
18.  Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger 
19.  The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa
20.  Middlemarch - George Eliot
21.  Gogol's Wife - Tomasso Landolfi
22.  The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald 
23.  Magic Mountain - Thomas Mann
24.  War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25.  Ferdydurke - Gombrowicz
26.  Narcissus and Goldmund - Herman Hesse
27.  Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky 
28.  The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29.  Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 
30.  The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31.  Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy 
32.  The Jungle - Upton Sinclair
33.  Tom Sawyer / Huck Finn - Mark Twain 
34.  Emma - Jane Austen
35.  Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe 
36.  Delta Wedding - Eudora Welty
37.  The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini 
38.  Naomi - Junichiro Tanizaki
39.  Cosmicomics - Italo Calvino
40.  The Joke - Milan Kundera
41.  Animal Farm - George Orwell
42.  Labyrinths - Gorge Luis Borges
43.  One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44.  A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 
45.  Under My Skin - Doris Lessing
46.  Anne of Green Gables - L. M. Montgomery 
47.  Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy 
48.  Don Quixote - Miguel Cervantes 
49.  Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50.  Absalom Absalom - William Faulkner
51.  Beloved - Toni Morrison
52.  The Flounder - Gunther Grass
53.  Dead Souls - Nikolai Gogol
54.  Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55.  My Name is Red - Orhan Pamuk
56.  A Dolls House - Henrik Ibsen
57.  A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens 
58.  Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59.  The Idiot - Fyodor Dostoevsky
60.  Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61.  Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62.  Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63.  Leaves of Grass - Walt Whitman
64.  Death on the Installment Plan - Celine
65.  Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66.  On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67.  Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68.  Pedro Paramo - Juan Rulfo
69.  Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70.  Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71.  Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72.  Dracula - Bram Stoker
73.  The Metamorphosis - Kafka
74.  Epitaph of a Small Winner - Machado De Assis
75.  Ulysses - James Joyce
76.  The Inferno - Dante 
77.  Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78.  Germinal - Emile Zola
79.  To the Light House - Virginia Woolf 
80.  Disgrace - John Maxwell Coetzee
81.  A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82.  Zorba the Greek - Nikos Kazantzakis
83.  The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84.  The Box Man - Abe Kobo
85.  Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86.  A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87.  The Stranger - Camus
88.  Acquainted with the Night - Heinrich Boll
89.  Don't Call It Night - Amos Oz
90.  The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91.  Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92.  The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93.  Gravity's Rainbow - Thomas Pynchon
94.  Memoirs of Hadrian - Marguerite Yourcenar
95.  A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96.  Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
97.  The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98.  Hamlet - William Shakespeare 
99.  Faust - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
100.  Metamorphosis - Ovid