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Crowdsourced Book List: Just Saying

 

I've just updated the Google spreadsheet, and we haven't just cracked the 500 book threshold, we've cracked 600 ... and we're on a good way to get to 700.  Do we rock, or what???

 

Triple hooray for Moonlight Reader's brainwave and for everyone who responded!

 

And it's not too late yet in case anybody else wants to contribute ...

 

 

Crowdsourced: More Books with a Difference -- Fiction

You asked, Moonlight Reader?  To quote from one of my additional entries below:  "As you wish ..."

 

Without any further ado:

 

Hilary Mantel: Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies

When Lillelara added A Place of Greater Safety to her list, I could have kicked myself --  because Hilary Mantel's Cromwell books were definitely among the most impressive books I've read in the past couple of years.  (A Place of Greater Safety as well, but the Cromwell duology even more so.)  They've changed my perception of Cromwell from that of a ruthless schemer to an incredibly complex and astute person (and politician): perhaps still not somebody I'd have wanted to be around all the time, but definitely someone for whom I'm caring from afar and back across several centuries.  And I'm both looking forward to and dreading the release of book 3 (now apparently scheduled for 2020).

 

Ben Jonson: The Alchemist

Speaking of scheming, the best evidence (if such a thing was needed) that get-rich-quick schemes are not the invention of the likes of Ponzi, P.T. Barnum, Madoff et al. -- they've always been around.  A ribald, laugh-out-loud satire that's best experienced on the stage rather than on the page ... Philosopher's stone, anybody?
 

Ellis Peters: Brother Cadfael series

MbD has already listed this series's first book, A Morbid Taste for Bones, but really, the whole series is absolutely canon for me.  Peters condenses the complexities of the first English Civil War down to installments of roughly 200 pages, and she does so not only with great knowledge and insight but also with great empathy, through the eyes of one of literary history's most engaging and worldly-wise characters.

 

Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night

And it's the exact reverse here: I'll be the first to get behind anybody's adding all of Sayers's writing to the list by way of a blanket reference, but the simple fact is that you haven't really read Sayers until you've read Gaudy Night.  It's the crowning achievement not only of her Lord Peter Wimsey series (and Wimsey / Vane subseries) but of all of her writing, not only until then -- no wonder she was essentially done writing mysteries after this one.  MR rightly asked yesterday how come nobody has added Gaudy Night by name to the list, yet ... it shall be so no longer!

 

Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express, Murder at the Vicarage, Crooked House, Witness for the Prosecution, and The Mousetrap

We already have "all of Christie" (minus Passenger to Frankfurt) and several individual titles on the list, and I swear I've tried to really keep a lid on things, but ... look, I just don't think I want to look at a crowdsourced BL list that doesn't at least contain the above-named books as well.

 

Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451

My personal tetralogy of must-read dystopias consists of George Orwell's 1984, Margaret Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.  Orwell's and Atwood's books are already on the list.  I'd (very grudgingly) be willing to live without  Huxley (even though the opening chapter alone should send a chill down everybody's spine, particularly in light of the recent advances in genetic engineering).  But Fahrenheit 451 just has to be included -- it's never been more relevant than today, and it completely blows my mind that it was written in the 1950s.

 

Aravind Adiga: The White Tiger

I was initially going to include this in my first list, but took it off again after seeing that it was on the infamous published "1001 books" list.  Given that we've since clarified that this is not necessarily an exclusionary criterium, I'm happily listing it again: This is one of the funniest, most acidly satiric tough-love letters to one's own country (packaged as a letter to a visiting foreign potentate) that you'll ever come across.  Your laughter may be sticking in your throat a couple of times when you realize that you've just exposed your vocal chords to a razor blade hovering a nano-inch right above them, but even that won't keep you from laughing out loud again and again on the very next occasion.

 

Louis de Bernières: Birds Without Wings

As book lists go, an exercise in contrasts vis-à-vis The White Tiger:  Just as panoramic in scope, just as searing to your various and assorted body parts, though in this instance, your guts (individually and collectively): a foray into early 20th century Turkish history as showcased in one particular community and by the friendship of two boys; Turkish-Greek (Muslim-Christian Orthodox) relations, Galllipoli, women's roles, displacement, diaspora and all.  As gorgeously written as utterly devastating.  (Some of the characters, I'm told, resurface in Captain Corelli's Mandolin -- which I've yet to read, though.)

 

T.C. Boyle: The Tortilla Curtain

Like Adiga's, Boyle's sword is satire first and foremost, but there is a good deal of anger here, too:  Upper middle class gated community meets illegal Mexican immigrants -- the quintessential Southern Californian culture clash.  This book, too, has never felt more relevant than today.

 

Edna O'Brien: In the Forest and Down by the River

O'Brien caused a stir and got herself onto her country's censorship index with her Country Girls trilogy (and given 1960s' morals, at least in  Ireland, that sort of figures), but it's these two books by her that have left an indelible impression on me; on account of their topics (the prohibition of abortion -- even in cases of incestual rape -- in Down by the River, and a serial killing spree in In the Forest) and even more so because I've never before or since seen topics like these discussed in prose like O'Brien's, with a brutal and yet lyrical immediacy that grabs you by the throat and never lets you go.

 

Bernard MacLaverty: Cal

If you only ever read one book on the (Northern) Irish "Troubles", make it this one -- simple as that.  Short and profoundly heartbreaking, and if afterwards you still don't have a sense of what's (been) going on there, you never will.

 

Heinrich Böll: Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum) and Irish Journal

Böll's two sides: One, an angry polemic on one woman's loss of privacy, employment, security, and pretty much everything else as a result of a vicious tabloid campaign following on the heels of her being falsely accused of being a member of a gang of terrorists; the other, a humorous, upbeat and downright serene account of his life in Ireland (or at least, some of its episodes).  Böll at his best in both instances, and taken together they showcase both the breadth and the depth of his writing.

 

Bertolt Brecht: Der aufhaltsame Aufstieg des Arturo Ui (The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui)

Brecht is best known for The Threepenny Opera, Mother Courage and, perhaps, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, but I'm not aware of any play that satirizes a demagogue's rise to absolute power as trenchantly as this one, set in Chicago and written after Brecht had emigrated to the U.S. (There is no question that Arturo Ui is meant to be Hitler.)  Like all plays, obviously best experienced on the stage; and I swear Ian McKellen took more than a page out of Brecht's book when transposing Richard III to a fascist version of 1930s Britain in his 1995 movie -- characterization, set decorations and all.

 

Su Tong: Raise the Red Lantern (aka Wives and Concubines)

The first narrative actually by a Chinese author set in the world that I had previously only known through Pearl S. Buck's novels; and it completely broke my heart.  (So did the movie starring Gong Li.)  It's not easy being a rich man's young minor concubine ... in fact, it may clean drive you insane.

 

Amy Tan: The Kitchen God's Wife

The Joy Luck Club is a good book, but it's here, in her second novel, that Tan really gets up, close and uncomfortably personal with married life in early 20th century China.  Like most of her writing, partially informed by her own family's experience, which adds ever so much more immediacy to the storytelling.

 

Colleen McCullough: The Thorn Birds

People may have watched the TV series for the romance (and, um, for Richard Chamberlain), but I'll take any bets you like that you will read the book for the history, the sweeping canvas of Australia, and all of the characters -- though there is, of course, only one Mary Carson, and that's probably a good thing, too.

 

Margaret Mitchell: Gone with the Wind

Speaking of romance tearjerkers, though ... Look, I know, it's racist to the core and Ashley is the wettest of wet towels (even if he's played by Leslie Howard in the movie).  But Scarlett is a complete and utter badass, and that alone means she has every right to be on a list bearing that very word in its title; Rhett and Scarlett have more memorable lines of dialogue between the two of them than a whole other library's worth of romance novels, and Mellie almost certainly is one of literary history's most underappreciated characters.  (Also, Rhett Butler will of course always be Clark Gable.)

 

Elizabeth von Arnim: The Solitary Summer

MbD listed this book's prequel, Elizabeth and her German Garden, but I think the two should be read together; and though I haven't read everything by von Arnim yet I've read enough to know that her books are absolutely part of my personal canon.  Charming, witty, here also frequently contemplative -- and way ahead of her time in terms of her insights on society.  (Also, there's an obvious reason why she nicknamed her husband The Man of Wrath.)
 

John Mortimer: Rumpole of the Bailey

This has to be one of very few examples of storylines first developed for a TV series later being turned into book form and making their central character an icon both on the page and on screen.  Rumpole will always look like Leo McKern to me (it's no coincidence that some of the book covers are cartoons mimicking him in the role, either); and I've learned more about common law criminal trials and about the differences between British and American criminal procedure than from many a textbook.  Also, the manifold ways in which Mortimer kept Rumpole from actually "taking silk" (i.e., becoming a QC -- queen's counsel -- in his own right and allowed to first-chair trials), and thus keeping him safely in the disdain of his wife Hilda, aka "she who must be obeyed", never cease to astound me.

 

Peter May: The Blackhouse

I'm fairly late to May's books and, based on what I've read to date, I'd have no hesitation in blindly recommending the entire Lewis Trilogy and everything else he's written that is set on the Hebrides as well.  As it is, I'm going to content me with one of the two books I actually have read so far, the first installment of the Lewis Trilogy.  (The other book by him I've read is The Coffin Road, which is every bit as good.)  Darkly atmospheric, gripping; just all around phantastic writing.

 

James D. Doss: White Shell Woman and Grandmother Spider / Tony Hillerman: Leaphorn & Chee series

Two  series focusing on Native American cops and making the most of their Southwestern U.S. setting and the culture and mythology of the Native people at their core: Hillerman's Navajo mysteries, I've been aware of for a long time (though not quite from the time of its actual beginning), but Doss's Ute tribal investigator Charlie Moon, his best buddy sheriff Scott Paris and his shaman aunt Daisy Perika are fairly new to me, and boy am I glad I finally discovered them!  I've read all of Hillerman's mysteries -- those by him, not the sequels by his daughter, that is -- and love (or at least like) most of them well enough to recommend the entire series; my favorites are probably some of the first books after Leaphorn and Chee were first lumped together (after having initially worked alone in three books each): Skinwalkers, A Thief of Time, Coyote Waits, and Sacred Clowns, as well as the final book written by Tony Hillerman himself, Skeleton Man. -- By contrast, I still have quite a bit of catching up yet to do with Mr. Doss, but he's definitely a new favorite already, and I'm very much looking forward to the rest of my journey through his catalogue.  Of the books I've read so far, Grandmother Spider and White Shell Woman are far and away the best.

 

John Le Carré: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes -- who will spy on a spy; who'll guard the guardians?  The eternal question, ever since rulers first figured out that it might be worthwhile keeping tabs on their friends and enemies, abroad as well as at home (and also keep tabs on the people keeping those tabs); and nobody before or since nailed it the way Le Carré does here.  The Spy Who Came in from the Cold may have been his breakout success (and for a reason), but to me, in setting, characters, story arc and everything else, Le Carré's writing will always come down to this one book.  Even Stella Rimington (former head of MI 5) grudgingly acknowledged that he gets it right ... and even if he had written no other book at all, his would still be one of the most imporant contributions to the genre -- and to a wider understanding how secret services operate --, for this one book alone.

 

Edgar Allan Poe: The Masque of the Red Death

Heaven knows I'm no horror fan, and Poe creeped the heck out of me when we read The Tell-Tale Heart way back when in high school.  While I acknowledge his mad genius, I admire some, but not all of his writing (The Black Cat is not a story I ever want to go near again in my life, and the Dupin Tales, though of course groundbreaking in terms of genre, leave me somewhat unimpressed from a storytelling perspective); but you'll have to look long and hard to find another as spine-chilling portrayal, in the brief span of a short story at that, of a society literally partying itself to death in complete oblivion of the peril it has conjured right into its midst.

 

Stephen King: Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption

Even more than Poe, Stephen King is able to creep me out like nobody's business, but even if you're not into horror, if there's one piece of fiction writing by him that I think everybody should read it is this one, for its middle finger salute to adverse fate if nothing else.  (Also, Edmond Dantès has nothing on Andy Dufresne.  And I'm saying this as a big fan of The Count of Monte Cristo.)

 

James Goldman: The Lion in Winter

Modern TV has discovered the Tudors as soap opera material (and there's a point to that, obviously), but if there's one family in the centuries-long history of the (immediately preceding) Plantagenet dynasty, it's Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their sons, not coincidentally known as "the devil's brood".  If you don't believe me, watch this play ... or the movie based on it.  It gives a whole new meaning to the term "family feud" -- and this all actually happened!

 

William Goldman: The Princess Bride

This, on the other hand, is a fairy tale.  (Or is it?)  Well, at least the best bits are; "S. Morgenstern" my foot.  This one is of course worth it for the one-liners alone (as is, again and even more so, the movie -- the Goldman brothers really had a run in Hollywood).  And seriously, how can we possibly have a "favorite 500" crowdsourced list without this book on it?

 

Jules Verne: Mich(a)el Strogoff (aka The Tsar's Courier)

One of the first adventure novels I was seriously hooked on; a ripping great yarn set in Tsarist Russia.  It helped that there was a TV adaptation when I was in my most impressionable years in terms of hero worship, but who hasn't ever wanted to be chosen to carry a secret message from the Tsar's Moscow court all the way to Irkutsk in Siberia, fight bandits and Tartars on the way and have all sorts of other adventures (romantic, with a killer partner, included)?

 

Robert Louis Stevenson: Kidnapped

Before there was Michael Strogoff (for me), there was David Balfour.  Replace Russia by Scotland, and you had me at "adventure":  Jekyll and Hyde came later, but neither it nor The Treasure Island has ever occupied even remotely the place in my heart that is firmly reserved for the adventures of David Balfour.  Als, note to Mr. Dickens: See, I really like your larger than life characters, but this little book is proof positive that you can deliver this sort of story in the space of a little less than 300 pages and even include a sea voyage and some nifty swashbuckling.  It doesn't have to be a 950-page brick like Nicholas Nickleby ...

 

Giovanni Guareschi: The Little World of Don Camillo

Another book that I discovered via its TV adaptation, starring French comedian Fernandel as Don Camillo: The daily feuds of the local Catholic priest and his friend and rival, communist mayor Peppone, in small-town post-WW II Italy.  Cheeky, funny and an all-around feel-good book -- and always with an upbeat, hands-on solution to whatever problem has arisen in the course of the narrative (even if occasionally a somewhat ... unusual one).  If only all politics would work like that, village setting or not!
 

Francis Hodgson Burnett: Little Lord Fauntleroy

Yes, it's sentimental (then again, so are The Secret Garden and A Little Princess, which tend to get somewhat more play when it comes to "must read" lists), and I know it's not even a Christmas novel as written -- it was only tweaked that way in the TV adaptation starring Alec Guinness and Ricky Schroder --, but it's been one of my feel-good go-to books, around Christmas especially, since practically time immemorial.

 

T.S. Eliot: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

Most people know it because it's provided all except one of the song lyrics and feline characters for the musical Cats, but seriously, people -- whether or not you are a cat person yourself, just read it, laugh and enjoy.  Eliot wrote this for his godchildren, and he obviously had a ball.  He also knew cats really, really well.

 

J.R.R. Tolkien: Letters from Father Christmas

Tolkien's letters to his children, responding to their letters and wish lists to Santa Claus (Father Christmas) -- do yourselves a favor and get the hardcover edition, which is illustrated with Tolkien's own drawings.  This is where The Hobbit came from ... and probably parts of Lord of the Rings as well.

 

Otfried Preußler: Die kleine Hexe (The Little Witch)

Otfried Preußler, in Germany, is sort of Frank L. Baum, Dr. Seuss and Lewis Carroll rolled into one -- he is, or used to be, one of the most popular children's authors for decades.  Many of his stories were inspired by the myths and legends of his native Sudeten region (today: chiefly in Poland and the Czech Republic); including this one, which has always been my absolute favorite.  Talk about a middle finger to adversity ending ... --  Otfried Preußler was also the first author to whom I ever wrote a fan letter ... in first grade, when I had barely learned to read and write!

 

Bill Watterson: The Complete Calvin & Hobbes / René Goscinny & Albert Uderzo: Asterix the Gaul

Hobbes forever. -- And you couldn't grow up in Europe when I was a kid without knowing about (and loving) Asterix and his village of crazy Gauls.

 

 

And since books that are on "those lists" are no longer absolutely taboo, I'm hereby also offering the following additions from the "I know they're on all of 'those lists', but they're canon to me and there's nothing to be done about that" department:

 

Jane Austen: Mansfield Park and Persuasion

All of Austen, really, but if I have to pick individual books, it's always going to be Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park.  Since Moonlight Reader has already added P&P, I'm obviously going to go with the other two.  Of course you can't help but love Lizzy Bennet (and Colin Firth is Mr. Darcy, period), but I've always had a special place in my heart for Austen's quieter heroines; not least because they're having so much more of a hard time sticking to their guns and they persevere nevertheless.

 

Charlotte Brontë: Jane Eyre

Not the only badass among the Brontë sisters' heroines, but however much I may like The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Jane still takes the cake.  We first met when I was barely a teenager -- I guess that kind of lengthy acquaintanceship is just a bit too long to upend, even by charracters from the pen of another member of the same family of writers.

 

Elizabeth Gaskell: Cranford and North & South

It's not hard to see how Gaskell and the Brontës (especially Charlotte) were friends.  But where CB kept things essentially to a personal level, Gaskell took it to a wider scope (also, I can't read North and South without seeing Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton).  Her greatest jewel, though, is Cranford and the microcosm of its village life -- nowhere else does Gaskell's wit and insight into human nature sparkle as much as there.  Besides, how can you resist a book about a village where men are merely tolerated and nobody really dare dispute that women are the infinitely superior sex?

 

William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Richard III, Hamlet

For obvious reasons I'm tempted to list half his catalogue, but even if you're not into Elizabethan theatre at all, the three plays by the Bard that you absolutely ought to see are Macbeth, Richard III, and Much Ado About Nothing.  Since Tea, Stitch, Read thankfully already listed Much Ado, I'm going to stick with the other two -- plus my personal favorite (after many meanderings), Hamlet.  Nobody does the ruin of a human being -- and his complete entourage -- as the consequence of a single destructive character flaw like Shakespeare, and these three plays are among his very best.

 

Alexandre Dumas (père): The Three Musketeers

We already have The Count of Monte Cristo on the list, and I totally agree with that of course, but I met M. Dantès at around the same time as D'Artagnan and his friends, and they've been an item in my mind ever since.  Besides, Artos, Portos and Aramis totally rule at wisecracking while swashbuckling.  So onto the list they go!

 

John Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck wasn't on my high school curriculum, and that was perhaps fortunate, as no teacher had the opportunity to ruin him for me and I could discover him all by myself and in my own time.  My two "must read" entries by him are East of Eden and The Grapes of Wrath; since we already have East of Eden, obviously I'm going to go with his pull-no-punches, kick-in-the-gut Depression Era masterpiece.

 

Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Williams named his fictional world "Dragon Country" and described it as an uninhabitable place of pain that is nevertheless inhabited -- that's really all you need to know about his plays.  These two hit me the hardest by far.

 

Edith Wharton: The Age of Innocence

Wharton won the Pulitzer for this novel, and even if perhaps she'd already deserved one a lot earlier, there's no question that it's justified here.  Social conventions were never so stifling, scheming never so vicious -- and all hidden under a perfect, completely scratch-proof, shining veneer.  In equal parts chilling and heartbreaking.

 

Virginia Woolf: Orlando and A Room of One's Own

The first of these, Woolf's tongue in cheek but heartfelt love letter to Vita Sackville-West (also one of the most approachable among her novels), the other one her feminist manifesto.  It's hard, indeed, not to recognize both Sackville-West and her beloved Knole in Orlando's title character and key setting, and this is one of the few books where both time travel and a gender swap really work for me.  A Room of One's Own, on the other hand, contains the famous "anonymous poet(ess)" quote, but it shouldn't be reduced to that -- it's really quite a trenchant analysis of the history of women's literature, and much of it still rings very true today.

 

Aristophanes: Lysistrata

A sex strike to prevent a war ... maybe we should revive that idea, what do you think?

 

Sophocles / Jean Anouilh: Antigone

Antigone has been one of my heroines ever since I first came across her story, and not even a French teacher who almost managed to ruin Camus for me (whom, in turn, I had to rediscover on my own after having graduated from high school) could muddy those particular waters.  In fact, in a way I've even come to love Anouilh's version of the play just a tiny bit more than Sophocles's original.

 

Jean-Paul Sartre: Huis Clos (No Exit)

L'enfer, c'est les autres -- hell is other people.  I didn't have to see this play to form that particular conviction, but Sartre really nails it -- and all he needs is three characters and a stage set with three chairs and a locked door.

 

George Orwell: Animal Farm

Yes, it's manipulative to the nth degree, yet, "all pigs are equal but some pigs are more equal than others" and "four legs good, two legs bad" are far and away no longer applicable to the communist dictatorships that Orwell aimed this at.  A worthy companion to his masterpiece 1984 (which is already on our list anyway).

 

Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go

Ishiguro's big theme is the unreliability of memory -- and indeed, nobody does unreliable narrators like him.  He deserved the Lit Nobel for these two novels alone.

 

Thomas Mann: Doktor Faustus, as well as Mario und der Zauberer (Mario and the Magician) / Klaus Mann: Mephisto / Heinrich Mann: Der Untertan (Man of Straw, aka The Loyal Subject)

The Mann family's individual and collective takedown of the Nazi regime and the society that made the Nazis' rise to power possible.  Thomas Mann's seducer (in the novel) and magician (in the short story; in both instances, an obvious parable for Hitler -- with the novel's Faustus standing in for the German people), aided and abetted by charismatic opportunists like Klaus Mann's Mephisto, who mesmerized a people conditioned for centuries to obey and even slavishly adore authority without question.

 

E.M. Remarque: Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front)

In a sense, the prequel to the above-mentioned Mann family's writings: the story of the lost generation bamboozled into joyfully rushing into the slaughter that would be WW I.  This will make you angry, and it will also break your heart (several times).

 

And with that, I'll leave it for the time being ... nonfiction additions (if we still have space for them) to follow tomorrow!

 

BL-opoly: Dice Roll #11

The Murder of My Aunt - Richard Hull, Gordon Griffin
Today is a roll day for me -- turns out I just snuck in under the radar before midnight (phew)!
 

 

 

I move to square 22: The Lake House -- read a book whose title includes a woman's role or that features a strong woman character.

 

My pick is Richard Hull's The Murder of My Aunt.

 

Length: 240 pages

=> + $3 upon completion.

 

 

 

 

BL-opoly: Dice Roll #10

The Body in the Silo - Barnaby Edwards, Ronald Knox

Having completed the three books of my last rolling exercise, I'm allowed to roll again:

 

 

 

This takes me once more to square 16: Mountain Cabin -- read a book classified as mystery or suspense, or whose title contains all the letters in C A B I N.

 

That is a square I've been on before -- but it's also one of the squares on this board that I'll always find a matching book for.

 

This time, my choice is Ronald Knox's Miles Bredon mystery no. 3, The Body in the Silo.

 

Length: 256 pages

=> + $3 upon completion.

 

 

Import from Goodreads in Progress!!

Hi! I'm new here and eager to get started making new reader friends.

I'm currently importing my shelves from Goodreads so give me a follow to see what pops up and stay up to date with what I'm reading next.

Reblogged from Lucy Goodfellow Reviews

BL-opoly: Dice Roll #9 ... Parts a, b, c and d!

The Memory of Love - Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Aminatta Forna

U P D A T E

____________________________________

 

Today is June 9 was another roll day for me, and it turnsed out as a result I'll probably be I was set, reading-wise, for quite some time! 

 

Let's take this one step by step ...

 

Beginning on my just-finished square, #16, my first roll today is was a double, which puts me on square 23: The Cape-to-Cairo Railway -- read a book set in Africa or by an African author (a square I've visited before).  My read for this square will be was Aminatta Forna's The Memory of Love.

Finished June 16, 2019.

 

Curiously enough, in a repeat of my Memorial Day results, my next roll again puts me on the BookLikes square.

 

 

 

The Spin-the-Wheel Decide gives gave me two extra rolls ...

 

... the first one of which takes took me to square 35: The European Vacation -- read a book set in Europe or by a European author, or that involves travel by boat or with a boat on the cover.  There are plenty of choices for this one so I'll make it a spur-of-the-moment pick, which means that for the time being my little helpers get another refreshment break.

Decided on Israel Zanwill's The Perfect Crime, aka The Big Bow Mystery. 

Also finished on June 16, 2019.

 

 

And with my final roll I pass GO and finally end up on square 9: The Stay-Cation -- read a book involving a visit to a museum, concert, library or part, or by an author whose first or last name begins with a letter in R-E-L-A-X.  Again plenty of choices, so in the interim more break time for Sunny and Charlie!

Decided on John Le Carré's A Murder of Quality.

Finished on June 19. 2016.

 

 

 

For Moonlight Reader: Books With a Difference

Responding to Moonlight Reader's "call for papers (= titles / authors)" -- there are quite a number of excellent lists out there already; anyway, here's my contribution ... or a first draft, at least.  Links go to my reviews (or status updates / summary blog posts) to the extent I've written them, otherwise to the relevant BookLikes book page.

 

Not necessarily in this (or any particular) order:

 

Dorothy L. Sayers: Are Women Human?

Sayers didn't like to be called a feminist, because she was adverse to ideology for ideology's sake, but nobody makes the case for equality and for the notion that a person's qualification for a job depends not (at all) on their sex but solely -- gasp -- on their qualifications and experience more eloquently than she did in these two speeches.  (I gave up on the attempt to review this little book when I realized that I was basically fawn-quoting half its contents, but the BL book page lists two very good reviews by others.)  Sayers's crime fiction is legendary, of course, but she'd totally be short-changed if she were ever reduced to that ... even to a brilliant book like Gaudy Night (which transforms into fiction much of what she addresses here).  This should be taught and listed right alongside Virginia Woolf's Room of One's Own and Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women.

 

Moderata Fonte: The Worth of Women

If you thought women in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance didn't know how to speak up for themselves, think again.  There's Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Christine de Pizan ... and then, there is 16th century Venetian Moderata Fonte.  The Worth of Women is, essentially, a witty, pithy conversation among several women preparing one of them (the daughter of another one of their number) for her wedding, and it covers everything from women's daily life and struggle (as such, but in particular vis-à-vis the stupidity and inferiority of the other sex, which without any justification whatsoever has been declared "superior"), their wishes, desires, etc.  The young bride, who actually doesn't much feel like marrying to begin with, is consoled over the fact that she really has to (the only alternative being the cloister) by the assurance that every effort has gone into finding her a good husband (i.e., the best specimen from an inherently inferior selection), and receives manifold advice on how to get around him.  The whole text reads refreshingly contemporary, very much to the point -- and in part, it is just laugh-out-loud funny.  ("Moderata Fonte" was, incidentally, the pen name of a lady actually named Modesta Pozzo, which means ... exactly the same thing: Modest Fountain.  [Or Fountain of Modesty.]  And yes, I probably should review this book at some point, too -- God knows, I added enough quotes from it on Goodreads back in the day ...)

 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun

One of my highlights of 2018 and the book that (in large parts) inspired my personal "Around the World in 80 Books" challenge; an insightful, heartbreaking, unflinching, and just all around amazingly written look at the 1960s' Biafra war, post-independence Nigerian society and the human condition as such, by one of today's most brilliant writers, period.  Eye-opening in so many ways.  (And yes, admittedly this one is on several of those published "must read" lists, too, but in this one instance I don't care.  This really is a book that everybody should read.)

 

Aminatta Forna: The Memory of Love

My Half of a Yellow Sun of 2019; the book which alone would have made that "Around the World" challenge a winner even if I'd hate every other book I've so far read for it (which I don't).  Trauma, fractured lives and society, love, betrayal, war and peace in post-independence Sierra Leone (1960s-70s and present day).  Forna is Adichie's equal in every respect and then some.  For a bonus experience, get the audio version narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith: He transforms a book that is extraordinary already in its own right from a deeply atmospheric and emotional experience into visceral goosebumps material.

 

Xinran: The Good Women of China

Before she emigrated to the UK, Xinran was a radio presenter in Nanjing: Inspired by the letters she received by women listeners, she started a broadcast series dedicated to their stories, some of which she tells in this book.  Her broadcasts gave Chinese women -- firmly under the big collective male thumb for centuries and still considered beings of a lower order today -- a voice that they hadn't had until then; now her books give non-Chinese readers a pespective on an aspect of Chinese society that most definitely doesn't figure in the pretty picture of a modern high-tech society that China would love to present to the world.

 

Astrid Lindgren: Pippi Longstocking and Lindgren's Wartime Diaries ("A World Gone Mad")

Pippi Longstocking taught me, when I had barely learned to read, that girls can go anywhere and do anything they set their minds to. -- Lindgren's wartime diaries are tinged with the same sense of humor and profound humanity as her children's books, in addition to containing a spot-on analysis of the political situation in the years between 1939 and 1945 and many insights into her daily life.

 

Lion Feuchtwanger: Die Jüdin von Toledo (Raquel, the Jewess of Toledo, aka A Spanish Ballad)

A bit hard to come by in translation, but absolutely worthwhile checking out (and an indisputable evergreen classic in the original German): Set during the medieval Spanish Reconquista (the era when Christian princes and armies were wresting the Spanish peninsula back from the Muslims), in Toledo, during a phase when Christians, Jews and Muslims were living together peacefully in Castile; the true-life story of -- married -- (Christian) King Alfonso of Castile and his love for a young woman of Jewish faith.  Lots of food for thought on multicultural societies, tolerance, broadmindedness and responsible choices that applies today just as much as it did then.  I first read this decades ago and it has stayed with me ever since.

 

Iain Pears: The Dream of Scipio

More on multicultural societies, tolerance, conscience and choices; set in the Avignon area of Provence during three distinct historical periods: the end / breakdown of the Roman empire, the medieval schism of the Catholic church (when the popes were residing in Avignon), and the Nazi occupation of France.  All three periods are linked by a mysterious manuscript, and in all three periods the (male) protagonists are guided by a woman who is their superior in wisdom and who becomes their inspiration.  Another one of those books that have stayed with me for years and years.

 

Wallace Stegner: Remembering Laughter

MR mentioned Angle of Repose, and I'd agree that is Stegner's best novel (it's also far and away my favorite book by him); but I do also have a soft spot for his very first novella, written as his (winning) entry in a writing competition, in which all of the hallmarks of his fiction are already present, most importantly the backdrop of his beloved Western Plains and the topic of people's isolation from each other (even when they're ostensibly in company).

 

Gabriel García Márquez: Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold)

100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera may be the books by García Márquez that the creators of those "must read" lists tell you to read (and I don't exactly disagree), but this brief novella set in a small Columbian seaside town is every bit as worthwhile of notice: A deconstruction, in a mere 100 pages and in reverse chronology, of an honor killing and the society that has allowed it to happen.  Completely and utterly spine-chilling.

 

Salman Rushdie: Joseph Anton

Actually, any nonfiction by Rushdie (for my money, most of his fiction writing as well, but part of that is on "those lists" anyway, and I know Rushdie's style of fiction writing isn't everybody's cup of tea).  I've read some of his essays, but not enough of them yet to make for a full collection, so I'll go with the one nonfiction book of his that I actually have read cover to cover: His memoir of the fatwā years.  Unapologetically personal and subjective, even if oddly -- and to me, jarringly -- written in the third instead of the first person; but definitely one of my must-read books of the recent years and one that I have every expectation will stand the test of time.

For completion's sake: His essays are collected in two volumes entitled Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 and  Step Across This Line: Collected Nonfiction 1992-2002.  I'm hoping to complete both of them, too, some day soon.

 

Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana and John Le Carré: The Tailor of Panama

Two takes on essentially the same topic -- corruption, Western espionage and military shenanigans in Central America --, both redolent with satire and featuring a bumbling spy against his own will as their MC.  I'm not a fan of either author's entire body of work, but I find both of their takes on this particular topic equally irresistible ... and unfortunately, they seem to have regained consiiderable topicality in recent years.

 

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman: Good Omens

By which I do not mean the recent TV adaptation but the actual book, as well as (by way of a companion piece) the full cast BBC audio adaptation.  Armageddon will never again be as much fun -- but Pratchett and Gaiman wouldn't be Pratchett and Gaiman if there weren't a sharp-edged undercurrent, too: Unlike the TV adaptation with its squeaky-clean looks, the book does not shy away from taking an uncomfortably close look at religion and society.  And then, of course, there's Crowley and Aziraphale ...

(Honorary entry from Pratchett's Discworld series: Hogfather.  Just because.)

 

Michael Connelly: Harry Bosch Series

One of the two ongoing crime fiction series that I'm still following religiously and have been, from very early on.  Connelly nails L.A., to the point that it becomes a character in its own right in his novels rather than merely a backdrop.  Harry Bosch is a Vietnam vet, your quintessential curmudgeonly loner with a big heart, fiercely loyal (motto: "Everybody counts or nobody counts") and hates corruption, grift and nepotism in the LAPD more than anything else.  One of my all-time early favorite entries in the series is book no. 6, Angels Flight (which deals with the Rodney King riots and their fallout), but really, Connelly just keeps getting better and better.  The TV series starring Titus Welliver as Harry makes for great companion material, but to me the books will always come first.  (Even more so now that some of them are actually narrated by Mr. Welliver in the audio versions.)

 

Ian Rankin: Inspector Rebus Series

The other long-lasting crime fiction series that I've been following since pretty much forever; for similar reasons as Connelly's Harry Bosh series: Edinburgh is a character of its own rather than mere backdrop; John Rebus (ex-S.A.S.) is Harry Bosch's brother in spirit in virtually every respect -- except that Bosch has a daughter, whereas Rebus has (or had, until recently) his booze -- and like Connelly, Rankin does not shy away from addressing the social and political topics of the day in his novels.  For me, Rankin had found his Rebus legs, oddly enough, also in book 6 of the series, Mortal Causes (which deals with the "white supremacy" /  neofascist brand of Scottish nationalism), but he, too, just keeps getting better and better.

 

P.D. James: Inspector Dalgliesh Series

From the waning years of the Silver Age of detective fiction (post-WWII through the 1960s) all the way to the New Millennium, James was the reigning queen of British mystery writers, and for a reason.  Her friend (and rival for those honors) Ruth Rendell may have been more prolific, but every so often gave in to populism and cliché -- not so James.  She was unequaled at setting a scene and creating a suspenseful atmosphere, and in the best tradition of the Golden Age masters, her mysteries always turned on psychology first and foremost.  Means and opportunity were important, but it was humans and their relationshp that she was chiefly interested in.   I have no doubt that her books will stand the test of time just as well as those of Conan Doyle, Christie, Sayers and their generation of mystery writers.

 

Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters

The second book in Ellis's Jackman and Evans series; an absolute stunner in every single way.  Mike Finn and Jennifer('s Books) weren't that enchanted with Ellis's other series (Nikki Galena), and I have only read one other book by her so far (Jackman & Evans no. 1), but be that as it may, this one is completely worth it and then some.  Set in the Fen Country, dripping with dark atmosphere, with a likeable and fully rounded pair of detectives as MCs -- and a veritable jaw-dropper of a finale.  Oh, and the audio version (of the entire series) is narrated by Richard Armitage.

 

Peter Grainger: An Accidental Death

New Norfolk crime fiction series no. 2, and every bit as atmospheric and well-written as Ellis's Their Lost Daughters.  This is the first book in the DC Smith series, which centers on a formerly higher-ranking policeman who has chosen to stay on the job as a detective sergeant (rather than go into retirement), so as to be able to actually do hands-on crime solving work instead of being shackled to his desk dealing with police administration.  Again, highly recommended, and I am very much looking forward to continue reading the series. -- With this series and those by Ellis, I'm also really, really happy to have found not one but several new series set in a part of Britain that has not yet been written to death.

 

Donna Andrews: Meg Langslow Series

I am not anywhere near a reader of modern cozies (and though Golden Age mysteries are often lumped into that category, to my mind few of them really belong there) -- I quickly get bored by trademark kinks and similar forms of repetitive humor, and I often find their plotlines, characters and settings unconvincing, shallow and overly sugarcoated.  Donna Andrews is the exception to the rule: I probably still wouldn't read too many of her books back to back, but visits to the crazy but comfortable world of her small-town Virginia have become a Christmas reading tradition in the last couple of years that I've really come to look forward to.  Favorite entries to date: Duck the Halls, The Nightingale Before Christmas, and Six Geese A'Slayin'.

 

Jennifer Worth: Call the Midwife

Midwifery in London's East End, in the mid-20th century.  I'm not even a mother myself, but man, I've never been more grateful for the advances in modern medicine than after reading this book.  Well, and other social advances obviously.  Gotta love the Sisters, though ...

 

 

 

Jared Diamond: Collapse and The World Until Yesterday

Diamond won a Pulitzer for Guns, Germs and Steel, but these two books (particularly: Collapse) are, to my mind, much more relevant to the world in which we're living today; in analyzing both the state of our modern, globalized world (and its chances for a sustainable future) and the lessons to be learned from past societies: those whose choices led them to failure as much as those whose choices led to success and long-term survival.  Diamond is anything but a prophet of disaster, but being a scientist, he cannot and of course does not shrink from simple, indisputable facts and realities.  At no time have voices like his needed to be listened to and taken seriously as much as today.

  Full disclosure: I know Jared Diamond personally; he's a longtime friend of my mother's.  That doesn't however impact my belief that his voice, and those of scientists like him, need to be heard now more than ever.

 

Stanley Wells, James Shapiro, Tarnya Cooper and Marcia Pointon: Searching for Shakespeare

Hard to believe this started life as a National Portrait Gallery exhibition catalogue, but it did: A lavishly, gorgeously illustrated, supersized, book-length (240 p.) showcasing of Shakespeare's life and times; companion to the 2006 exhibition on the NPG's examination of the authenticity of six portraits then believed to be of the Bard (of which only one, the Chandos Portrait, in addition to the famous First Folio cover of Shakespeare's works and the statue in Stratford's Holy Trinity Church survived that scrutiny).  More informative in both text and images than many a Shakesperean biography or a book on the history of the 16th / 17th century.

 

Stanley Wells: Shakespeare and Co.: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Johnson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher and the Other Players in His Story

The world of Elizabethan theatre, by the grand master of British Shakespearean scholars and long-time chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.  Equally engaging, informative and entertaining -- and I'm pretty sure the Bard would have appreciated Wells's not just occasionally pithy turn of phrase.

 

Antony Sher and Gregory Doran: Woza Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus in South Africa

The future artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and one of Britain's greatest contemporary Shakespearean actors (himself born in South Africa) -- off stage, a couple -- take the Bard's most controversial and violent play to Sher's home country ... in the middle of Apartheid.  Judging by their tour diaries (in essence, this book), it must have been quite a trip.

 

Final note, for those who are wondering: Golden Age mysteries have been covered by several other list creators here on BL already, so I decided not to replicate that (obviously, otherwise the better part of the entire canons of Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie and others would have shown up on my list, too).  Similarly, while Jane Austen, the Brontes, and several other 19th century writers are unquestionably part of my personal canon, they're also on just about every published "must read" list out there, so there hardly seemed any point in including them here.  Ditto Greek mythology.  Ditto William Shakespeare (the plays themselves, that is).  Ditto Oscar Wilde.  Ditto John Steinbeck.  Etc. ...

 

And now that I'm finally about to hit "post", I'm probably going to think of a whole other list of books that I really ought to have included here!

On Trauma and Healing (of Sorts)

The Memory of Love - Aminatta Forna The Memory of Love - Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Aminatta Forna

Sierra Leone gained independence from British colonial rule in 1961, but, like so many other African countries, after enjoying a few brief initial years of peace and democracy, it was torn apart by dictatorial rule, military regimes, civil war and corruption in the decades that followed.  As a result, surveys have shown that a staggering 99% of the population exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

This is the background against which the events in Aminatta Forna's novel The Memory of Love unfold.  Don't be fooled by the title: Yes, love in all of its shapes and forms is a driver of people's motivations here, but this book is about so much more -- it's a vast, virtually boundless tapestry of events, emotions, action and reaction, illness and health (mental and otherwise), war and peace, ambition, greed, selflessness, loss, beauty, ugliness ... and again and again, trauma; pathological, emotional and in every other respect you can imagine.

 

Forna unveils the enless layers of the novel's complex tapestry with a painstaking and almost painful slowness and care (as a result, it is virtually impossible to describe the plot without giving away major spoilers): The events, alternating between the late 1960s / early 1970s and the present day, are told from the point of view of three men -- Elias Cole, a former university professor lying on his deathbed in a Freetown hospital and telling his story to Adrian Lockheart, an English psychologist who has come to Sierra Leone with an international aid organization but has decided to stay on and help since he specializes in PTSD, and Kai Mansaray, a surgeon at the hospital where Elias is wheezing his way back through his life for Adrian's benefit (and his own -- or so Adrian hopes).  Though strangers initially, over the course of the novel it becomes clear that the three men not only establish a relationship in the here and now but that what connects them goes deeper and has roots in the past; their own as much as the country's.  At the same time, through the PTSD sufferers that Adrian treats at a nearby mental hospital (not the general clinic that ties him to Elias and Kai but a different place), through his and Kai's friends and colleagues, and through Elias's narrative and the men and women inhabiting it, in turn, Sierra Leone itself and its people collectively become a further main character to the novel -- the one that, ultimately, is the most important one of all and which drives every action and event; a huge, many-limbed, monstrously traumatized and brutalized organism that can't help but swallow its own constituent organs -- its own people -- and those whom it does eventually spit out again after all will be changed forever.

 

It took me a while to get into this book, and this is not the kind of novel that you can race through in a day or two (or at least, I can't).  But this definitely is one of my reading highlights of this year -- and this reaview wouldn't be complete without me giving my due and hartfelt plaudits to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, whose unmatched, deeply empathetic narration lifted an already profound, complex and harrowing reading experience onto yet another level entirely.  Highly, highly recommended.

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

The Memory of Love - Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Aminatta Forna

Wow.  What a book -- definitely one of the highlights of this year; and I'm glad I took a whole week to finish it.  Nothing short of spectacular -- as is Kobna Holdbrook Smith's narration.

If Muhammad won't come to the mountain ... (the feline version).

While Sunny and Charlie are having great fun helping me pick books for BL-opoly (and enjoying their repeated snack breaks), they've had to do without me in their favorite parts of our home a lot lately because I was spending long hours at my desk.  So they decided they needed to check out what exactly was keeping me away:

 

 

Soon they also discovered that there was a new spot with prime view of my desk top where I had removed a couple of binders that I was working with, and which therefore made for an excellent observation post (or, um, daytime bed ...) ...

 

... until I replaced the binders belonging in that spot.  Charlie in particular was decidedly not amused: He promptly removed the first layer of micro binders in the shelf below, so as to have a ledge to stand on, and then set about restoring the status quo ante:

(I don't know how well you can see this, but in the left photo he actually has his paw inside the binder, reaching in from below -- exactly as you or I might grab it and pull it out.)

 

He eventually capitulated (with a monstrous grudge), realizing -- or so I hope -- that if the binder had hit his head that might actually have hurt, and has since returned to using the various cat beds in my office (it's not like they don't have a choice of those, after all), or just hanging out next to my desk:

 

Sunny, meanwhile, has discovered that my office chair (on which he has lately also taken to sleeping at night) makes for an excellent stepping stone to the windowsill, and has appointed himself neighborhood watch and guardian of the minor tools of  my trade:

 

... if he's not in the mood for a nap, that is.  For which pretty much anything but a kitty bed will do (even if that means he has to squeeze onto the windowsill or next to me on my office chair -- or on my lap / arm / the edge of the desk, in whichever position happens to spring to his mind).

 

 

By and large, they still much prefer me to join them elsewhere in our home, though!

Reading progress update: I've read 100%.

A Blunt Instrument - Georgette Heyer, Ulli Birvé

Let's just say this is one of Ms. Heyer's less than stellar efforts.  Also, it didn't age well at all -- and Ulli Birvé hits a new low in the narration.

 

Oh well.  Two nonseries mysteries to go, and I'll be done with Georgette Heyer's crime fiction!

Good Omens: The Screen Adaptation -- Ten Comments, Two Addenda and a Summary

 

So, I finally had an opportunity to watch this (binged on the whole thing last night).  A few comments:

 

1.  The kids: loved them.  The only people in the whole production who were visibly in it for the fun of the thing, not because it was a job.  Sam Taylor Buck was fabulous as Adam, but I almost loved his friends even more.

2.  Obviously a huge star vehicle for Michael Sheen and David Tennant, and both of them used it to the max.  Tennant wins in the coolness department, but then, bad boys who aren't really bad always do.  As does tall, dark and handsome.  (As does, for the same reasons, Crowley in the book.)

3.  God bless Miranda Richardson.  And Jack Whitehall and Michael McKean -- but chiefly, Miranda Richardson.  Besides the kids, the trio that really grounded the whole thing.

4.  Anathema as a mllennial Californian with a Latina mother -- why, oh why???  She's the direct descendant of a 17th century rural English witch, for crying out loud ...

5.  Footnotes from the mouth of God -- and not the Metatron, either, but God (Frances McDormand) herself?  Please.  I mean, I do love Terry Pratchett's footnotes, but jeez.

6.  Adam and Eve: PC casting rather than inspired.

7.  The Four Horsemen: More PC casting, but I loved the looks.

8.  The (arch)angels and demons (except for Hastur):  More PC casting.  (What is one of the hallmarks of PC casting?  It goes to supporting and [relatively] minor characters who make up the background and "feel" of the production, rather than the starring roles.)

9.  Derek Jacobi as the Metatron: What a letdown.  No dice on Nicholas Briggs in the BBC audio production (nor, for that matter, on Alan Rickman in Dogma, but let's not even go there).  The Metatron is many things, but decidedly not an elderly gentleman dragged out of semi-retirement.  Being a huge fan of Jacobi's, it pains me to say this, but there we are.

10.  The Shakespeare scene was inspired.  Particularly so, the allusions to Tennant's previous role as Hamlet and to the Bard's mastery at appropriating source material from brains other than his own.  Loved seeing the actual [reconstructed] Globe Theatre as the setting, too.

11. Addendum 1:  The nurses and the switching scenes were fun.  Also, good old-fashioned stop-motion technology put to great effect in the winking exchange.

12.  Addendum 2: Benedict Cumberbatch was wasted as Satan's voice.

 

Overall:  Gaahhh, this is slick.  Make no mistake, I instantly downloaded the whole thing so as to be able to watch it again (and again), for Tennant and Sheen alone.  And it's enormous fun.  But it has a glossy, sleek, high tech surface that buries much of the rough, original force of the book under it; never mind that the essential plot remains unchanged and many of the lines are taken straight from the novel: It's the visuals that get in the way.  And while in both the book and the BBC audio adaptation, for all the humor and downright slapstick comedy, there is a real sense of dread and impending doom towards the end, I never once had that feeling while watching this screen adaptation -- even the end left me as cold as just about every blockbuster disaster movie produced ever since the early 2000s (which is why I don't bother watching them).  I'm not sure less would have been more there -- we're literally talking about the end of the world, after all -- but here, too, all I saw was CGI and other high tech effects being showcased for themselves, not in aid of the story.

 

This adaptation has all the makings of an instant classic, and there is much to love about it.  And most of its audience will probably not even think about, let alone be bothered by the things that are bothering me.  And I enjoyed it enough to want to watch it again, too, probably repeatedly.  And perhaps this is just the sort of production we have to expect, coming out of Hollywood, in this day and age.  Still -- for however much I did enjoy it, for me it's just a tad short of what it could and probably should have been.

 

BL-opoly: Dice Roll #8

A Blunt Instrument - Georgette Heyer, Ulli Birvé

(Germany is UTC (GMT) +1, so it's already June 7 here and I'm allowed to roll again.)

 

 

 

This takes me to square 16: Mountain Cabin -- read a book classified as mystery or suspense, or whose title contains all the letters in C A B I N.

 

This is a square I've been on before -- but it's also one of the squares on this board that I'll always find a matching book for.

 

I'm in the mood for one of my go-to comfort reads, so I picked Georgette Heyer's final Inspector Hannasyde mystery that I haven't read yet, A Blunt Instrument.

 

Length: 293 pages

=> + $3 upon completion.

 

BL-opoly: Dice Roll #7

The Grell Mystery - Frank Froest, David Bauckham The Belting Inheritance - Julian Symons, David     Thorpe

U P D A T E D

_______________________________

 

I just about made it through Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility in time to still be allowed to roll today on June 3.  Funnily enough, I rolled the same results as with my roll before the last one -- a 1+1 double and a 5+4 -- even though I'd actually not only gone back to start but also refreshed the page before I rolled for the first time.  Oh well -- I guess that comes under the heading of "random", too, then.

 

So here we go:

 

 

 

 

 

My first roll takes took me to square 3: School's Out For Summer -- read a book set in a school or college, or considered a "classic", or that is frequently banned.  I've decided to use this square to start my Summer of Sherlock reading program, though not with a book by ACD but with Frank Froest's Grell Mystery; a crime classic from the early days of the Golden Age of Mysteries.

Length: 304 pages

=> + $3 upon completion

Finished June 5, 2019.

 

My second roll puts me on square 11: Beach Week -- read a book set in a coastal region that you love or would like to visit, or a book with a beach or ocean on the cover.  This one, I'll have to think about (not that there's a lack of coastlines I love or would like to visit, but anyway), so in the interim it's refreshment break time for the crew again:

 

 

Refreshment time over.  Settled on Julian Symons's The Belting Inheritance, which has an image of (what I take to be) the Dover Cliffs and the British Channel coast on the cover.

Length: 240 pages

=> + $3 upon completion

Finished June 6, 2019.

 

Seeking Beta readers for two short stories.

 

 

Seeking Beta readers for two short stories fro The Beta-Earth Chronicles

 

One is "A Day in the Death of the Magic Mabel" with a Word Count of 10196. Set 40 years in the future on our planet, it's set on a doomed cruise ship with a horrible fear-inducing chemical compound hidden somewhere on board. Can Mary Carpenter find it in time?

 

The other is "The Alien That Never Was" with a Word Count of 10772. It's set on Beta-Earth during the Alman Civil War with a distinctly WWII flavor. Can sexy special operatives of the Kirippean resistance fool the forces of the power-hungry Lunta?

 

If interested in an Advanced reader copy PDF, or Word file, of either of these yarns, reply to me here or email me at spywise@verizon.net.

 

Thanks in advance--

WB

Reblogged from Wesley Britton's blog

Golden Age Mysteries: Further Reading

With my Detection Club Bingo card now blacked out, I'm going to track my reading here.  (Note: for purposes of completeness, this includes books by the below authors already read prior to the creation of this list.)  My priorities are going to be:

 

 

Arthur Conan Doyle's / Sherlock Holmes's adventures, biographies, contemporaries and rivals, as included in my 221B Baker Street and Beyond reading list

 

 

Agatha Christie's Plays and Romances:

The Stage Plays:

a) Black Coffee
b) And Then There Were None
c) Appointment with Death
d) Murder on the Nile
e) The Hollow
f) The Mousetrap
g) Witness for the Prosecution
h) Spider's Web
i) Towards Zero
j) Verdict
k) The Unexpected Guest
l) Go Back for Murder
m) Rule of Three: Afternoon at the Sea-side / The Patient / The Rats
n) Fiddlers Three
o) Akhnaton
p) Chimneys

 

The Broadcast Plays:

a) Behind The Screen
b) The Scoop
c) Wasp's Nest
d) The Yellow Iris
e) Three Blind Mice
f) Butter in a Lordly Dish
g) Personal Call

 

The Romances (writing as Mary Westmacott):

a) Giant's Bread
b) Unfinished Portrait
c) Absent in the Spring
d) The Rose and the Yew Tree
e) A Daughter's a Daughter
f) The Burden

 

-- as well as Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks by way of a companion read.

 

 

Dorothy L. Sayers's Montague Egg stories, nonfiction and plays:

The Montague Egg stories:

a) Hangman's Holiday

b) In the Teeth of the Evidence

 

The Nonfiction:

a) The Mind of the Maker

b) Unpopular Opinions

c) Are Women Human?

d) The Lost Tools of Learning

e) The Wimsey Family: A Fragmentary History (with C.W. Scott-Giles)

f) The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist

g) The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1937–1943, From Novelist to Playwright
h) The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1944–1950, A Noble Daring
i) The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1951–1957, In the Midst of Life
j) The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: Child and Woman of Her Time

 

The Plays:

a) The Zeal of Thy House

b) He That Should Come

c) The Devil to Pay

d) The Man Born to be King

e) The Just Vengeance

 

 

Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver series:

1: Grey Mask
2: The Case Is Closed
3: Lonesome Road
4: Danger Point
5: The Chinese Shawl
6: Miss Silver Intervenes (aka Miss Silver Deals With Death)
7: The Clock Strikes Twelve
8: The Key
9: The Traveller Returns (aka She Came Back)
10: Pilgrim's Rest
11: Latter End
12: Wicked Uncle (aka Spotlight)
13: The Case of William Smith
14: Eternity Ring
15: The Catherine Wheel
16: Miss Silver Comes to Stay
17: The Brading Collection
18: The Ivory Dagger
19: Through the Wall
20: Anna, Where Are You?
21: The Watersplash
22: Ladies' Bane
23: Out of the Past
24: The Silent Pool
25: Vanishing Point
26: The Benevent Treasure
27: The Gazebo
28: The Listening Eye
29: Poison in the Pen
30: The Fingerprint
31: The Alington Inheritance
32: The Girl in the Cellar

 

 

Josephine Tey's Inspector Grant series:

1. The Man in the Queue
2. A Shilling for Candles
3. The Franchise Affair
4. To Love and Be Wise
5. The Daughter of Time
6. The Singing Sands

 

-- as well as some of Tey's plays (chiefly written under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot)

 

 

Georgette Heyer's mysteries:

Non-series:

a) Footsteps in the Dark

b) Why Shoot a Butler?

c) The Unfinished Clue

d) Penhallow

 

Inspector Hannasyde & Sergeant Hemingway:

1. Death in the Stocks

2. Behold, Here's Poison

3. They Found Him Dead

4. A Blunt Instrument

 

Inspector Hemingway:

1. No Wind of Blame

2. Envious Casca (aka A Christmas Party)

3. Duplicate Death

4. Detection Unlimited

 

 

A (futher) taste of Gladys Mitchell's Mrs. Bradley series:

1. Speedy Death

2. The Mystery of a Butcher's Shop

4. The Saltmarsh Murders

5. Death at the Opera

18. The Rising of the Moon

23. Groaning Spinney (aka Murder in the Snow)

28. Watson's Choice

(Note to BT: These are the books currently on my TBR based on various recommendations and reviews.  If there are others that I should absolutely be including, by all means let me know!)

 

 

By Patricia Highsmith:

a) Strangers on a Train
b) Carol (aka The Price of Salt)
c) The Blunderer
d) The Talented Mr. Ripley
d) Deep Water
e) A Game for the Living
f) This Sweet Sickness
g) The Cry of the Owl
h) The Two Faces of January
i) Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

(Note to BT and Lillelara: See my above comments re: Gladys Mitchell -- the same applies here.)

 

 

A further taste of E.C.R. Lorac's Robert MacDonald series:

1. The Murder on the Burrows
6. Murder in St. John's Wood
7. Murder in Chelsea
8. The Organ Speaks
13. Bats in the Belfry
25. Murder by Matchlight
26. Fire in the Thatch

 

 

A further taste of Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day Lewis)'s Nigel Strangeways series:

1. A Question of Proof

2. Thou Shell of Death

4. The Beast Must Die

12. End of Chapter

 

-- as well as the nonseries mystery The Private Wound.

 

 

 

By Julian Symons:

Inspector Bland:

1. The Immaterial Murder Case
2. A Man Called Jones
3. Bland Beginning

 

Sheridan Haynes:

1. A Three-Pipe Problem

 

Nonseries mysteries:

a) The 31st of February

b) The Belting Inheritance
c) The Man Who Killed Himself
d) The Man Whose Dreams Came True
e) The Players and the Game
f) The Plot Against Roger Rider
g) The Name of Annabel Lee
h) Death's Darkest Face

 

Nonfiction:

a) The Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations

b) Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel 

 

 

By John Dickson Carr (aka Carter Dickson):

Dr. Gideon Fell:

1. Hag's Nook
2. The Mad Hatter Mystery
4. The Blind Barber
6. The Hollow Man (aka The Three Coffins)
8. The Crooked Hinge
9. To Wake the Dead
13. The Case of the Constant Suicides
15. Till Death Do Us Part
xx Dr. Fell, Detective, and Other Stories

 

Henri Bencolin:

1. It Walks by Night

 

Sir Henry Merrivale:

1. The Plague Court Murders

3. The Red Widow Murders
8. The Judas Window
9. The Reader Is Warned
14. She Died a Lady
20. Night at the Mocking Widow

 

Nonseries mysteries:

a) The Murder of Sir Edmund Godfrey
b) The Burning Court
c) The Hungry Goblin
d) The Door to Doom and Other Detections

 

Collaborations:

John Dickson Carr & Val Gielgud: 13 to the Gallows
John Dickson Carr & John Rhode: Drop to His Death

 

 

By J. Jefferson Farjeon:

a) The House Opposite
b) The Z Murders
c) Thirteen Guests
d) Mystery in White
e) Seven Dead

 

 

 

By Cyril Hare:

Inspector Mallett:

1. Tenant for Death
2. Death Is No Sportsman

 

Francis Pettigrew:

1. Tragedy at Law (also Inspector Mallett #4)
2. With a Bare Bodkin (also Inspector Mallett #5)
3. When the Wind Blows
5. He Should Have Died Hereafter

 

Nonseries mysteries:

a) An English Murder

b) That Yew Tree's Shade

 

 

By Anthony Berkeley:

Roger Sheringham:

1. The Layton Court Mystery
2. The Wychford Poisoning Case
4. The Silk Stocking Murders
5. The Poisoned Chocolate Case
6. The Second Shot
7. Top Storey Murder
8. Murder in the Basement
9. Jumping Jenny
10. Panic Party
11. The Avenging Chance and Other Mysteries from Roger Sheringham

 

Ambrose Chitterwick:

1. The Piccadilly Murder
2. Trial and Error

 

Writing as Francis Iles:

a) Before the Fact

b) Malice Aforethought

 

 

By Raymond Postgate:

a) Verdict of Twelve
b) Somebody at the Door
c) The Ledger Is Kept

 

 

 

 

By E.R. Punshon:

Bobby Owen:

1. Information Received
3. Crossword Mystery
5. Death of a Beauty Queen
6. Death Comes to Cambers
10. Dictator's Way
11. Comes a Stranger
16. Ten Star Clues
17. Diabolic Candelabra

 

 

By Philip MacDonald:

Colonel Gethryn:

1. The Rasp
4. The Noose
6. The Maze
8. The Crime Conductor
11. The Nursemaid Who Disappeared (aka Warrant for X)
12. The List of Adrian Messenger

 

Nonseries mysteries:

a) Murder Gone Mad

b) X v. Rex

 

 

By Anthony Wynne:

Dr. Hailey:

12. Murder of a Lady

18. Death of a Banker
28. Death of a Shadow

 

 

 

 

 

By Edmund Crispin:

Gervase Fen:

1. The Case of the Gilded Fly
2. Holy Disorders
3. The Moving Toyshop
4. Swan Song
5. Love Lies Bleeding
6. Buried for Pleasure

 

 

The Detection Club round robins:

a) The Floating Admiral

b) The Sinking Admiral

c) Anatomy of Murder
d) Ask a Policeman
e) Baker Street Studies
f) Detection Medley
g) Double Death
h) No Flowers by Request
i) Six Against the Yard
j) The Scoop / Behind the Screen

 

 

The remaining "100 books" from Martin Edwards's list in The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (in alphabetical order and to the extent not already listed above or in the reading lists linked in this post):

H.C. Bailey: Mr. Fortune, Please (Reggie Fortune #4)
C.E. Bechhofer Roberts: A.B.C. Solves Five
Francis Beeding: Death Walks in Eastrepps
Godfrey R. Benson: Tracks in the Snow
Jorge Luis Borges: Six Problems for Don Isidro Parodi
Christianna Brand: Green for Danger (Inspector Cockrill #2)
Douglas G. Browne: What Beckoning Ghost?
Leo Bruce: Case for Three Detectives (Sergeant Beef #1)
John Bude: The Sussex Downs Murder (Superintendent Meredith #2)
Christopher Bush: The Perfect Murder Case (Ludovic Travers #2)
Joanna Cannan: No Walls of Jasper
Bernard Capes: The Mystery of the Skeleton Key
G.D.H. & Margaret Cole: End of an Ancient Mariner
J.J. Connington: Mystery at Lynden Sands (Sir Clinton Driffield #3)
Freeman Wills Crofts: The Cask
Francis Durbridge: Send for Paul Temple (Paul Temple #1)
Sebastian Farr: Death on the Down Beat
C.S. Forester: Payment Deferred

Val Gielgud: Death at Broadcasting House

Michael Gilbert: Smallbone Deceased (Inspector Hazelrigg #4 / Henry Bohun #1)
Lord R. Gorell: In the Night
Bruce Hamilton: Middle Class Murder
A.P. Herbert: The House by the River
James Hilton: Murder at School (aka Was It Murder?) (originally published as by Glen Trevor)
Roy Horniman: Israel Rank
Richard Hull: My Own Murderer
Michael Innes: Death at the President's Lodging (Sir John Appleby #1)
Romilly & Katherine John: Death by Request
Milward Kennedy: Death to the Rescue
C. Daly King: The Curious Mr. Tarrant
C.H.B. Kitchin: Birthday Party
Ronald Knox: The Body in the Silo (Miles Bredon #3)
George Limnelius: The Medbury Fort Murder
A.E.W. Mason: At the Villa Rose (Inspector Hanaud #1)
Q. Patrick: Murder at Cambridge
Rupert Penny: She Had to Have Gas (Chief Inspector Beale #6)
Eden Phillpotts: The Red Redmaynes
Ellery Queen: Calamity Town (Ellery Queen Detective #16)
John Rhode: Hendon's First Case (Dr. Priestley #20)
Joel Townsley Rogers: The Red Right Hand
Helen Simpson: Vantage Striker
Shelley Smith: Background for Murder (Jacob Chaos #1)
C.P. Snow: Death Under Sail
Stanislas-André Steeman: Six hommes morts (Six Dead Men)
F. Tennyson Jesse: A Pin to See the Peepshow
Roy Vickers: The Department of Dead Ends
Henry Wade: The Duke of York's Steps (Inspector Poole #2)
Edgar Wallace: The Four Just Men (The Four Just Men #1)
Hugh Walpole: The Killer and the Slain
T.H. White: Darkness at Pemberley
Victor L. Whitechurch: The Crime at Diana's Pool
R.C. Woodthorpe: Silence of a Purple Shirt (aka Death Wears a Purple Shirt)

 

... as well as the re-releases in the ongoing British Library Classic Crime, Collins Crime Club, and Penzler American Mystery Classics series.