17 December 2013

Reading report for November 2013

November was a less than average reading month for me: I finished 8 9 books. (Tsk! I forgot one).
Of those, 5 were rereads and 3 were TBR.

Unusually, this was not due to one of my fits of depression (reading little and rereading are two of the danger signs), but simply because I have had other things to do. I have been using some of the time I usually spend reading to draw/doodle instead, something I love doing but I haven't had much energy to do for a long time. One of the things I did was to hand-draw all my Christmas cards. I also made a number of paper ornaments, most which can be hung anywhere at any time of year, but of course they also look nice on the Christmas tree.

Any time I do less than my usual amount of reading for a while, I begin to feel the difference in my body by the second week or so, especially my neck and shoulders. Having myalgia means I need to take good care of myself and reading unfortunately puts a strain on my muscles. But if I had to choose between being perfectly free of myalgia and not reading, or having myalgia and continuing to read, I would still choose reading and the stiffness and sore muscles it entails, because I can't imagine not having the joy of books in my life.

The stand-out was undoubtedly  L'étranger by Albert Camus, not only because it is good literature but also because it is the first unabridged, unsimplified novel I finish reading in French. Reading it and then discussing it (in French) helped me get a better feeling for the French language than any book meant for teaching possibly could.

But on to the books:
  • Mary Balogh, Sandra Heath, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, Patricia Rice: A Regency Christmas Feast. Historical romance novellas. Reread.
  • Albert Camus: L'étranger. Novel. 
  • Martha Grimes : Help the Poor Struggler. Murder mystery. TBR read.
  • Georgette Heyer : The Masqueraders. Historical romance. Reread.
  • Georgette Heyer : Powder and Patch. Historical romance. Reread.
  • Georgette Heyer : Cotillion. Historical romance. Reread.
  • Terry Pratchett : Night Watch. Fantasy. Reread.
  • Helen Scales : Poseidon's Steed: The Story of Seahorses. Natural history. TBR read.
  • Marilyn Wann : Fat!So!. Self-help. TBR read.

02 November 2013

Reading report for October 2013

I finished 14 books in October. Of those, 4 were rereads and none were ebooks, something that hasn‘t happened in a single month since I bought my Kindle a couple of years ago. In addition, all 10 first-time reads were TBR books, so I have now fulfilled my goal of reading 50 books from my TBR stack in 2013. Now that there are only 2 months left in the year I don‘t think I will set myself a further TBR goal, but I will continue to count the TBR books I read to see if it is realistic for me to set the TBR bar higher for next year. I am finally beginning to see gaps in my formerly overstuffed bookshelves, and I should be having a hard time preventing myself from buying books to fill them, but so far it has been easy to avoid that temptation, because I am saving up money for something else. Besides, the Christmas season is beginning and I have been busy planning what to give to whom and making Christmas cards.

There were several reading highlights in October. Among them were Only in America by BBC correspondent Matt Frei and The Unites States of Europe by American reporter T.R. Reid, which are comparable books in that the authors are trying to give their compatriots an idea of what the subjects they are writing about are like. Their approaches are different, Frei‘s being more anecdotal and using him and his family to illustrate many points of difference between the USA and Europe/Britain, while Reid takes a more political and historical approach and makes comparisons while mostly keeping himself and his family out of the picture. Both are informative and enjoyable reads.

Both Georgette Heyer books were stand-outs as well. Not because they are good mysteries – I can't in all honesty say that about either – but because of the repartee-filled dialogues and screwball characters Heyer excelled at whatever genre she was writing in. I also enjoyed the humour of Martha Grimes‘ The Anodyne Necklace, which in addition is a good mystery, one in which Elizabethan literature plays a considerable role. I am also happy to have discovered a new mystery author (to me): V.C. Clinton-Baddely, whose twist at the end of My foe outstretched beneath the tree came as a complete surprise, even though I did have my suspicions about the identity of the killer.

The Books
  • V.C. Clinton-Baddeley: My foe outstretched beneath the tree. Murder mystery.
  • Jennifer Crusie: Anyone But You. Romance, contemporary. Reread.
  • Jennifer Crusie: Getting Rid of Bradley. Romance, contemporary. Reread.
  • Jennifer Crusie: Manhunting. Romance, contemporary. Reread.
  • Elínborg Lárusdóttir: Hvíta höllin. Memoir.
  • Fannie Flagg: Can't Wait to Get to Heaven. Inspirational novel.
  • Matt Frei: Only in America. Social commentary.
  • Martha Grimes: The Anodyne Necklace. Murder mystery.
  • Georgette Heyer: Behold, Here's Poison. Murder mystery.
  • Georgette Heyer: A Blunt Instrument. Murder mystery.
  • Lora Leigh, Nalini Singh, Erin McCarthy, LindaWinstead: The Magical Christmas Cat. Romantic urban fantasy.
  • T.R. Reid: The Unites States of Europe. Political science and history.
  • Sigge Stark: Engir karlmenn, takk. Romance. Reread.
  • Patricia Wentworth: The Catherine-Wheel. Murder mystery.

26 October 2013

Friday book list # 16: A medley of books

Books mentioned in ...not in love with Kale Eddison by Joanne McClean. 

Wuthering Heights by emily Brontë.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare.

Books mentioned in Even Vampires Get the Blues by Katie MacAlister

The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien

Ancient book of history and magic, fictional:
Simia Gestor Coda, by (possibly) Samaria Magnus.

Books mentioned in Storm Warning by Nora Roberts

War and Peace by Tolstoj.

Books mentioned in The Catherine-Wheel by Patricia Wentworth

Crime novel, fictional:
Three Corpses and a Coffin by [not mentioned]

Publications mentioned in Romancing the Chef by Robyn Amos

Las Vegas Review.

Taste magazine.

19 October 2013

Friday book list #15: Still more books by Ngaio Marsh

Death and the Dancing Footman:


Stage works:
  • Saxophone in Tarlatan by Aubrey Mandrake (real name Stanley Footling). Play (highbrow and presumably experimental). Imaginary.
  • Bad Black-Out by Aubrey Mandrake. Play. See above.
  • Six Characters in Search of an Author (Italian: Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore) by Luigi Pirandello. Play. (sideways mention, i.e. the actual title is not mentioned as a title but the exact phrase occurs in reference to the play. I felt justified in including it as the author is mentioned as well).
  • The Passing of the Third Floor Back by Jerome K. Jerome. Play and short story, but the reference could be to either the play or a film based on it.

  • Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. (mentioned as Alice through the Looking-Glass). Novel.
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. Novel.
  • Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers. Detective novel.
  • Handley Cross: Or, Mr. Jorrocks's Hunt by Robert Smith Surtees. Novel.

Impossible to place:
  • Stonehenge. Could be anything.

Colour Scheme

Lots of Shakespeare in this one - including the ubiquitous Macbeth - as one of the supporting cast is a Shakespearian actor.

  • Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë.

  • Some aspects of the Study of Comparative Anatomy by Dr. James Ackrington. Fictional work. 

  • Henry IV by William Shakespeare. Historical play. 
  • Henry V by William Shakespeare. Historical play.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (as "The Dream") by William Shapespeare. Comedy.
  • Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare. Comedy. (Wikipedia calls it a "problem play")
  • As Your Like It by William Shakespeare. Comedy. 
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.
  • Troilus and Cressida by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.
  • Charley's Aunt by Brandon Thomas. Farce.

  • Theatre Arts. A theatrical periodical. Seems to be real.
  • The Harpoon Courier. Presumably a newspaper. Can't say whether it's real or imagined.

  • The Babes in the Wood. Could be a reference to the folk tale, the ballard or the pantomine based on it.

Died in the Wool:

Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.

Hakluyt's Voyages.  Travelogue.
Famous Trials. True crime. Probably a genuine book.

The New Statesman. Magazine.

Final Curtain

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.
  • Othello by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.
  • King Lear by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.
  • Timon of Athens by William Shakespeare. Problem play.
  • The Lady of Lyons by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton. Romantic melodrama.
  • The Bells by Leopold Davis Lewis. Tragedy.
  • The Way of the World by William Congreve. Comedy.
  • The Second Mrs. Tanqueray by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero. Problem play.
  •  Victoria Regine. Probably the play by Laurence Housman.


  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. 


  • “The Antient Arte of the Embalming of Corpfes. To which is added a Difcourfe on the Concoction of Fluids for the Purpofe of Preferving Dead Bodies. By William Hurfte, Profeffor of Phyfic, London. Printed by Robert White for John Crampe at the Sign of the Three Bibles in St. Paul’s Churchyard. 1678.” I can't find any sight of it's being real, but it could easily be genuine.
  • Famous Trials. True crime. See previous mention.
  • The Times. Newspaper.

 A Wreath for Rivera, aka Swing Brother, Swing

  • Harmony. Periodical. Imaginary.
  • Monogram. Periodical. ??
  • The Evening Chronicle. Newspaper.
  • The Triple Mirror. Periodical, probably imaginary.
  • Pegs Weekly. Periodical, possibly imaginary.

  • Don Quixote (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha (Spanish: El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha)) by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
 Short stories:
  • "The Purloined Letter" by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Stage works:
  • Fewer and Dearer. Play or show, probably imaginary.

  • The Yogi and the Commissar by Arthur Koestler. Collected essays (on sociology?).
  • Police Code and Procedure. A reference to a real work, I have no doubt, but this is probably a shorthand title.

Night at the Vulcan, aka Opening Night

The Onlooker. Periodical.

  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Tragedy.
  • Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare. Comedy.
  • The Second Mrs. Tanqueray by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero. Problem play.
  • Private Lives by Noël Coward. Comedy of manners.
  • Sleeping Partners. I think this must refer to a real play, but as it's a common phrase, Google throws up so much junk that I don't feel like sifting through it all to make sure.
  • This to revisit by John James Rutherford. Dramatic play. Imaginary.