lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
I'm still not recovered from last week, although probably some part of that was my fault for trying to make use of that family history offer over the weekend, but there we go. I'll get there, I suppose.

In the meantime, here's a post.

What I've just finished reading

I have read the next two in the Kate Shackleton mystery series by Frances Brody. I still don't know quite what to make of them - I'm enjoying them, I can read them and yet... I don't know.

I also went to the library and got some Regencies to try and get me back reading again a little better, which worked until I was undone by the Thing last week. They were slight, but no Carolyns, at any rate. (Two more MC Beatons, but nothing that reached the ridiculous/sinister heights of the Mannerling idea.)

However, then I got Snowdrift, the reissued collection of Georgette Heyer's short story collection, Pistols For Two, with three rediscovered stories in it! I mean, her short stories aren't anything to her novels, but this was the most exciting thing reading-wise that has happened to me since I was ill, I think. They were slight, but it was very lovely to have new Heyer words for the first time in probably twenty years.

And then I randomly found on a charity book stall in my supermarket, a weird little teen book I used to have a fascination with back in the 90s, The Bewitching of Alison Allbright by Alan Davidson. It is still a very odd little book, not quite like anything else I can think of & enjoyable to have a revisit, even if not at anywhere near the same intensity as back then. It's not a fantasy - the 'bewitching' involves no magic, just the glamour of riches hiding some sinister/obsessive intentions.


What I'm Reading Now

Nothing, really; I need to get a bit better again. HMS Surprise needs more brain than I have, and I've a few other things started and abandoned, so mostly, nothing and occasionally re-reading some of the older stories in Snowdrift. (I like my new copy better than the old one, which is nice, because it's not always the case.)

I am still taking (family history-related) notes from London in the 19th Century by Jerry White.


What I'm Reading Next

Something, I hope. My TBR pile is far larger than my actual reading ability, but you've got to have optimism and hope and ambition, right?
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
What I've Just finished Reading

Frances Brody's Dying in the Wool, the first of the Kate Shackleton mysteries. I did like this, but the title, cover and first person narration promise a lighter tone than is actually the case - they seem quite serious so far. Kate Shackleton is another ex-VAD detective, and they're set in Yorkshire, which is a nice bonus, and seem pretty well-researched. (In the case of the first one, I'd say maybe too well-researched or too inclined to share it here and there, but it's better than the more common alternative.)

I also finished note-taking from Maureen Waller's The English Marriage, which was very readable, with plenty of examples and quotes from letters, diaries and court cases from the middle ages to the twentieth century, mostly of terrible marriages (but not always).

I think maybe one highlight is the super-sarcastic sentence of a 1845 Judge (Mr Justice Maule) on a labourer convicted of bigamy:Cut for lengthy sarcastic summing up )

And then I also went back through The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Servant by Pamela Horn and now I have notes from it, too. Not magically, but not too painfully either.

I also finished reading Alison Light's Common People, her history of her very 'ordinary' family. It was very interesting. I think the best bit was the Road to Netherne section, following a maternal line (which had a narrower, more distinct focus) but it was very good overall.


What I'm Reading Now

Still not really read much more of HMS Surprise. I tried the other night, but they went on about eating rats, the same day as next door's rats came back, and I was also stressed so I had my Doomwatch-inspired evil rats nightmare and when I woke I knew there actually were rats nearby (even if not irrationally terrifying dream rats; it doesn't help at 4am). I am now eyeing it warily, and instead reading:

A Medal for Murder, the second Kate Shackleton mystery. It is still not light, but it is interesting. (The misleading covers and titles are very misleading! I am not able to shake them off and accept its seriousness yet. I will persevere, because they are otherwise good and it's not Frances Brody's fault if the publishers set about misleading people. Mind, I think I resent the flashbacks. It's a detective story, I'm supposed to have it unravel courtesy of the detective; don't give me flashbacks!)

For note-taking, I have now returned to Jerry White's London in the 19th Century: A Human Awful Wonder of God, which I was forced to abandon six years ago due to illness. I triumph at last! Also, it's very readable and interesting as well as useful. (I have the 20th C and 18th C ones, too, which I am now looking forward to as well, at some point.)


What I'm Reading Next

Who knows? Possibly the collection of Gothic novels I picked up in the free bookshop. Otherwise, I have mostly just started things, so it's a bit early to say.
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
(I found I already had a title for this sort of not-too-belated post).

May was a month full of rl tirednesses and causes of being ill, so inevitably my reading suffered, or at least the precarious novel-reading part of it, did, so there are a lot of started non-fiction books, some of which will undoubtedly fall by the wayside presently, plus those I was doggedly note-taking from. There was not much reading for three weeks, and then I had a sort of burst of birthday books!


What I've Finished Reading

I finally finished In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars 1793-1815 by Jenny Uglow! I was reading it for family history note-taking purposes, but it was very good and readable and I was sorry to come to the end. (If she wanted to do the previous twenty years or next twenty years in a book, I would read that as well!)

I also re-read my birthday Chalet School books, Jo to the Rescue and Joey Goes to the Oberland - always easy reads. I liked the second one best, and was reminded how much I'm not so keen on the holiday books in general, though. But, yay, collection completed! \o/

Having finished In These Times, I then realised that perhaps it was about time I went back through The Workhouse by Norman Longmate for family history note-taking. I read it quite a few years back, and realised after reading it and Pamela Horn's Rise and Fall of the Victorian Servant, that I should probably note-take from things. I always intended to go back and do those two, except I sort of thought it would magically happen somehow, or the power of having read it once would suffice? Anyway, it is an account of the Workhouse system and the lives of people working and living in it and so interesting, appalling and angry-making by turns. And now I have notes from it instead of just being permanently unable to understand why notes from it aren't in my notebook.

Also on a family history theme, I read My Family and Other Strangers by Jeremy Hardy, which is a humorous book about Jeremy Hardy (who is on the radio show I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue) doing his family history. The problem with this is that it's not all that funny (there's a lot about death in family history and this leads Jeremy to think about other deaths; also he wrote it while his mother was suffering from Alzheimers and Humphrey Lyttleton died), and he's also fairly hopeless at doing his family tree. He doesn't know what he's doing. He doesn't really ask relatives about stuff till the end, and then sort of looks someone up on the census, drives off to visit their house if he can, gets lost because he has no map, finds a map, eventually hopefully finds the house (or grave) often with further assistance, and then wonders why on earth he bothered, for which you can't really blame him. He also discovers that he hates archives and gets immediately lonely, oppressed and depressed in them and runs away from them as soon as possible if he's not accompanied by a more useful friend or relative. The bits that come alive are when he's talking to other people, visiting archives with people (and therefore actually finding stuff and understanding what he's finding) and by the end, he's got the hang of it and might have written a better book.

I still enjoyed reading it anyway, because I only know of two books that are actually about people family detective-ing and this is one of them. The other is also flawed, but very enthusiastic and obsessed. If you mushed them together, you'd get a perfect chatty genealogist's journey in print. Maybe one day someone will write it.


What I'm Reading Now

I keep sort of starting things, so I am currently at least a few pages into about six books: I haven't really read any more of H.M.S. Surprise since last time, because reading fiction is hard. I need another terrible Regency to rescue me again!

I am now note-taking from the also very readable and interesting The English Marriage by Maureen Waller and reading another birthday purchase, Common People by Alison Light, an academic's account of her family history (with a framework of her researches, but mainly a history of her family), which is, as the title suggests, full of working-class people who left little behind them, and it's very good and (to me) inspiring.

The others can wait till I see which of them stick and which don't.


What I'm Reading Next

I probably really do need another Regency to rescue me, alas, but I have none. Maybe the library will oblige again. I am planning to note-take from either London in the 19th Century or the aforementioned Rise & Fall of the Victorian Servant by Pamela Horn, because that didn't magically get into my note-book either & will have to be done, as with The Workhouse.
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
What I've Just Finished Reading

I finished Post-Captain by Patrick O'Brian, so I'm now committed to the series! I'm continuing to enjoy them, and this one was probably less technical than the first, or I'm getting to be less of a landlubber. Highlights being the bear escape mentioned last time and when Stephen decided a hive of bees are a perfectly reasonable thing to keep on board a ship. (It's very satisfying to have made a small dent in my TBR pile as well, because I was rather beginning to think I would never read anything new again that wasn't a regency romance.)

Before I finished that, however, I found another Regency romance in a charity shop (well, actually I found two, but the other was the usual, complete with someone called Carolyn) - from 1972!

I complain all the time about the modern ones not being like Heyer, now let me be nothing if not inconsistent and complain about Clare Darcy's Cecily for being too much like Heyer! The blatant copying left me open-mouthed. Her plot is her own, but all the Heyer ingredients and descriptions are present and correct... and, alas, have nothing of the engaging liveliness of Heyer. I'm not surprised Heyer used to get angry about this sort of thing. Clare Darcy was only lucky that Ms Heyer was probably dead by the time this book crossed the ocean.

It was an interesting read, though, and would have been better had the hero and the heroine actually had more time together on the page. Probably. Actually, it would have been better if it had just focused on the heroine's aunt and the hero's mother and their disapproving alliance, because that bit was her own, and a little more enjoyable than the rest. Everyone else should just go home for being pale copies of Heyer characters. Charity Girl was published the same year, and even though that is not my favourite Heyer, it still has a lot more going for it than a copy of the real thing.


What I'm reading now

I am just a few pages into HMS Surprise. There has not been a bear so far, sadly.

I'm still reading and taking notes from Jenny Uglow's In These Times, which continues to be an excellent social history of Britain in the Napoleonic War era. (There are no people called Carolyn in it. So far.)


What I'm Reading Next

I still haven't read that Daisy Dalrymple mystery, because I found two Regency romances for my light-reading needs instead, so that needs to get read so it can go back to the library.

I don't know what else will be next, or if I'll even get to Daisy, but I did find the first of Frances Brody's series of Kate Shackleton mysteries in a charity shop, hurrah, so that'll probably get read sometime soon, because I do need to get to the one I found first with the tantalising title of Death of an Avid Reader.
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
Given that I only do it about once every three weeks, and I was due, I'm going to be a rebel and talk about reading on Saturday...


What I've Finished Reading

I mentioned elsewhere that I read my way through MC Beaton's Daughters of Mannerling series, but I think I have to mention the evil manor house one more time here, because that was the best and most unexpected concept I've come across in a Regency Romance series. I want to steal it and do other stuff with it, but that would be Wrong. (Although, I suppose that is what fic is for. I'm pretty sure there's a crossover there waiting to happen, but I'm not sure what it would be, and I have to return the series to the library this week.)

Otherwise, I have read Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian, as I have a the first few of the Aubrey-Maturin series sitting on my TBR pile and now was the moment, it seemed. I read it okay, even though it's quite dense! (I may have skipped over some sea-related detail, reading is hard work enough as it is sometimes). But I enjoyed it so far and liked the characters a lot, and am looking forward to attempting the rest.


What I'm Reading Now

I temporarily (I hope) abandoned Perdita because it was giving me a headache (which is all to do with me and not with it), but I'm currently re-reading The Foundling by Georgette Heyer. I rashly gave away a whole lot of books when I had 13 libraries of my own to play with and this was one of them, and on Thursday I found it in a charity shop and have replaced it! Naturally, I had to re-read it, and it is probably more entertaining than ever. I didn't like it anything so much as some of the others when I first read it, which I can understand, looking back, given that it's rather less of a romance than most of the others, but it is pretty much a book that can be described as "shenanigans" and that's never something to be sneezed at.

I've also started Post-Captain, the second Aubrey-Maturin novel, but faithlessly abandoned it for The Foundling. (They were on land for a bit, which involved actual women (hurrah!) and obviously necessitated Jack being disguised as a bear. Not because of the women, though.)

In historical note-taking, I'm still working my way through Jenny Uglow's In These Times, which continues to be excellent. (I'm over half-way now and kind of sorry to be in many ways.)

I realise this is all very 'Regency'-flavoured, but that was accidental.


What I'm Reading Next

I have a Daisy Dalrymple murder mystery that someone recommended, and it's due back at the library... on Tuesday. So maybe I'll read enough of that to see whether I want to renew it or not, or perhaps even finish it in time. (It looks fairly slight; I might do it!)

Otherwise, I think I'll be a while with Post-Captain.
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
My parents are up visiting, so bear with me if I'm more erratic at commenting than usual - my socialising spoons are going elsewhere! But I thought I'd still do this today.

What I've Finished Reading

I got through my batch of library regencies (and didn't find any John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson at my other library alas, nor did I find the earlier books in an interesting looking detective series I picked up a later installment of in a charity shop. I may just have to read out of order, dammit).


What I'm Reading Now

I'm still note-taking from In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon's Wars 1793-1815 by Jenny Uglow, and as I'm now on p152, I can say that it's both useful and highly readable. (Not dry, despite its 640 pages, or at least I don't think so. It's just got plenty to talk about.)

Perdita by Paula Byrne, a life of Mary Robinson, which I picked up off my shelf when I was trying to see if I had any information about Gainsborough for my Scaroth story and got distracted into reading it. Mary Robinson was a late 18th C actress, mistress of the future George IV, and later one of the most popular Gothic novelists of her day. It's therefore pretty interesting so far, as you can imagine.

I'm sort of reading some other things, but not sure how they're going as yet. (Reading spoons are still variable.)


What I'm Reading Next

I think it'll take me a while to get through the above two and the redacted reading, but I may go to the library again in search of some more lighter material, because, as I said, reading spoons are still variable!

Or I may get distracted by something hanging about on a bookshelf; it happens a lot.
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
What I've Finished Reading
Mostly Regencies! I was taken to a different library by a friend and it was full of them, what could I do? They're reading candyfloss and I can't help it, even though I know I'm the wrong person to read them because whatever it is I'm after, they're not quite it. Still mostly fun, though. I just wish the latest one would stop having people say, "Brilliant!" It would feel like we had time-slipped into the 1980s if it had ever felt as if we were anywhere near the 1820s in the first place. (Sorry, deadline-ridden, hard-working Romance authors! I know, I know, I should leave you alone! But... I don't.)

I also re-read Heyer's Charity Girl. It's the last one she wrote (or completed, anyway), but it's also one I find weird in that there's nothing obviously wrong with it that I can ever quite put my finger on, and there are a bunch of engaging side characters but I always wind up doing the same thing in re-reading it, which is: I wait years and years, then start it again, thinking, "Hey, why didn't I like this one last time? It's pretty good!" and then by the end I feel like slapping Hetta and the Viscount for being too smug and heartless and feel that Cherry and Cary Nethercott are well out of that. And yet what is really so different from all the rest? I DON'T KNOW.

I finished the Mrs Jeffries thing. That was... a book. And mostly pretty inoffensive and all.

I also finished two local history books on Barnstaple. I still feel that I don't know quite enough about Barnstaple, though, which is a bit of an unsatisfactory outcome. I wonder if there's any way of me getting hold of the 19th C local histories at some time? (Now I have slightly more of a brain again, our sad expensive charges for ILLs are really getting to be a nuisance. By the time you're spending £8, you might as well just try and buy the book.) I bet they're more in depth and more fun to read. Or, better still, if you know someone handy in North Devon, tell them it's a serious gap in the market.

I also read Belle by Paulina Byrne, which is too slight a biography to comment on really. That isn't a complaint; it's just that hardly anything is known about Dido Elizabeth Belle. It was actually interesting to read from the point of view of how to write NF about someone you know very little about, because if I do write up some family history, that's how most of it will be, regardless of all my best efforts.


What I'm Reading Now

Another regency (the one where they keep saying 'brilliant'). It was being pretty mindlessly enjoyable, but now the plot has twisted and I'm not at all sure why everyone has decided they must all rush off to an inn to see somebody's father. And I don't know why I'm even cavilling at that, given that people keep saying 'brilliant.' Otherwise nothing really.

In NF note-taking, I have moved onto In These Times by Jenny Uglow, a social history of Britain 1793-1815. It looks promisingly interesting and useful, but since I am only on page 7 of 650 or so, it's too early to say much else.


What I'm Reading Next

I don't know, but I probably do need to find something a bit better in the fiction line. I'll get to go to the library when I go to the doctor's on the 17th, so maybe I'm find some more John Dickson Carr or something else that will suit my need for not very taxing but also interesting fiction. Who knows? Possibly The Valley of Fear in the meantime and skim-reading a Skulduggery Pleasant book for wrangling purposes.
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
(Because let's do this thing. :-D)

What I've Just Finished Reading

Nothing, actually. Since last time, I finished The Return of Sherlock Holmes, read two more Regency Romances made of pure fluff, and meanwhile carried on reading and taking notes from Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England (which I haven't yet finished but continues to be very good).


What I'm Reading Now

Currently, a book randomly picked up in a charity shop, Mrs Jeffries on the Trail by Emily Brightwell, which is basically crime fluff rather than Romance fluff - one of a long series* about a Victorian housekeeper who solves crimes for her Inspector employer. Well, actually the whole household solves the mysteries, and she just co-ordinates them and tactfully hints about their finds to the Inspector. I'm not sure when they get the housework done. So far, all I can say is that it's certainly easy reading, which is what I wanted.


What I'm Reading Next

Ah, the part of the meme where I'm supposed to predict the future. Well, meme, it'll either be something off my to-read pile, or something random that I picked up somewhere else, or a safe re-read, I can tell you that much. *nods*

And when I've finished the current NF read, I'll probably start on The Book of Barnstaple, which is a bit more specific than general, but of use to me.


* Going by the list of about 100 others in the front, anyway. Mrs Jeffries keeps busy.
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
(Gosh, bi-monthly. Look at me. :-D)

What I've Just Finished Reading

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, which a friend gave me for Christmas. This was the book that looked liked the easiest going off my to read when spoons pile, and it was. It was a recent Sherlock Holmes 'missing adventure' type novel and ticked all the boxes and was fun.

I then happened upon three more actual Sherlock Holmes books in a charity shop soon after and got them, so I've been re-reading for the first time in years The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles, all of which were perfectly readable, yay. (I feel v proud of myself). Interestingly, with the actual books it is very easy to hear Douglas Wilmer and Nigel Stock, which helps, but not so much with the 'new' one. (Anthony Horowitz was imagining Jeremy Brett, he said. I wouldn't have supposed it would make much difference which classic Holmes model you used but maybe it does.)

I also read and took notes from Barnstaple's Vanished Lace Industry by Peter Christie & Deborah Gahan. Obviously, this was a very specific local history book for family history purposes, so not likely to be of general interest, but it was useful (and not as dull as the title sounds). It did, however, reinforce my feeling from reading the North Devon Journal entries that Barnstaple is very possibly not a real place, although I don't know what that says about me or my Granny's relatives. It could explain a lot...


What I'm Reading Now

The Return of Sherlock Holmes (I got to the bit where Holmes reappeared, as you do; priceless), and in NF note-taking the very light and readable Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England by Roy and Lesley Adkins. I would recommend it to all Regency Romance authors as it included a short section on naming and how most people didn't have middle names. (I know I'm mean about names, but the "What's your middle name?" question is a particularly head!deskworthy point every time it occurs.)


What I'm Reading Next

I don't know, meme! I'm only on the first few pages of "The Empty House", honestly. It depends on my mood and my spoons and what I find next in a charity shop or library to distract me from the to be read pile. But I do feel reasonably sure that there will be a next book now, and that's a good feeling. (Tomorrow, the world, people! \o/)


ETA: I'm still taking questions/topics for the Talking Meme *looks around hopefully*
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
(I'm still not doing anything for [community profile] fandom_stocking. Luckily it should open soon and then I can relax and do something else! I forget, of course, that 'better' when you've been bad is a relative term.

Also I seem to have given the impression to everyone that Manhunt is rubbish and it really isn't; it was just a bit up and down and sexist to begin with & I get very little out of protracted 'action' sequences. It's now reached an impressively consistent high standard. Vincent, Nina, and Jimmy, though, remain the most rubbish. Strangely, everyone was a lot more interested in watching it despite this, much more so than anybody is when I tell them old TV is good. Reverse psychology??)

Anyway, look at me, this makes it twice in a year (not calendar year) at least this time. I probably won't read enough to make it every Wednesday, but hopefully more often. I am optimistic!

What I've Just Finished Reading

And So To Murder by Carter Dickson, which I finished up quite quickly after I posted the other day. It was good fun and I enjoyed it. I still don't know whether to praise the BBC for giving me lovely mental casting (the three characters who were the most fun were played by Suzanne Neve, William Russell, and Stephanie Bidmead) or curse them for burninating it, but it did add to the book, so I suppose I'd better at least be a tiny bit grateful.

As I said, Monica Stanton (aka Suzanne Neve) is a vicar's daughter who writes a steamy Romance novel in 1939; her aunt, distressed, wonders why she couldn't write a nice detective novel, like those by Bill Cartwright (Wm Russell):

Now Monica Stanton, to begin with, had no real grievance against that inoffensive form of entertainment known as the detective-story. She neither liked nor disliked it. She had read a few, which struck her as being rather far-fetched and slightly silly, although doubtless tolerable enough if you liked that sort of thing. But, by the time her aunt had finished, Monica was in such a state that she had come to curse the day Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born. It was a wordless, mindless passion of hatred. As for Mr William Cartwright... Monica felt that she would like to poison Mr Cartwright with curare, and dance on his grave.

Read more... )

Before Christmas, I can now say that I was for obvious reasons, re-reading a lot of Miss Marple as well as reading Dracula for the first time (my reactions are in my Yuletide reveals post).

I also finished Venetia by Georgette Heyer, a re-read, although it was one of the books I rashly gave away a while ago, so it had been a long time. Very enjoyable, of course, and I am very happy to have a copy again. It is very sad that after a year of reading Regency Romances, I still haven't found anyone even a tiny bit like Georgette Heyer. I wish there would be, somewhere, in some period or other.


What I'm Reading Now

I'm a bit between things, but I continue with the very excellent The Victorian City by Judith Flanders in NF. (I am even taking notes for family history, which is a very exciting development as of the last few weeks and months. It's taken a bit of patient building up, but I'm able to do it a little again.)


What I'm Reading Next

That is the question. I was looking at my TBR (when spoons) pile and seeing whether any of them clicked easily, but I haven't decided which one to try next or whether just to re-read something to build up a little more stress-free stamina first before I risk reading a new-to-me book that might get killed by CFS. (I'd rather wait and be fair in my first reading). We shall see!
lost_spook: (Northanger reading)
I really should get on with these because a) they were lovely questions and b) it is really not summer now. It's not even 2015. *cough*

For [livejournal.com profile] persiflage_1: What's the best new-to-you book you've read so far this year?

Well, it has been a while since July 2015 when Pers asked me this, but I think it is fair to say that the answer is still undoubtedly The Count of Monte Cristo, which I managed to read last spring. I had avoided it when reading other Dumas novels as a teenager because it was large and I thought it was about someone being in prison for years and finally getting out and having revenge. While that is kind of true, it turns out, Edmond is in prison only for a small part of the book (I know, I feel v dumb that I ever even vaguely thought Dumas would write endless grim prison fiction, lol me) and it is surely the most entertaining revenge tale ever told.

I don't know how my brain works: I can read so little without getting a headache and then I pick up a 1000 page brick and go "ooh, now this I can manage!" and basically solely in terms of having something long and enjoyable (I so rarely enjoy books because they are just such an effort; it's one of the main things I hate about being ill), it was amazing. I should think it is also a pretty darn great old-fashioned ride of improbable long, complicated revenge scheme even when you're not ill.

If you hate it, btw, this is one of those times when I will love you a lot if you don't feel the need to share that fact with me. Thank you.

Anyway, it is all the things (poison and runaway lesbians and treasure and random drug-taking and pirates and bandits and long-lost relatives and cunning disguises! Other things I have since forgot!) and only slows in a few sections where there is too long an absence of the Count, and it is both awesome and ridiculous, regardless of any faults, and I could have taken another few hundred pages of it, easy.


Coming up some way behind it, I thought The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders was pretty great, too (an NF book about the Victorians and their obsession with murder) but that was not a magical huge novel that only rarely gave me headaches. Which is not its fault. It's definitely a recommended read for people with an interest in such things and a brain. Victorians, newspapers and lurid murders and the growth of detection fiction is a wonderful subject for a history book & the author is pretty reliably good.


Plus, in Jan 2015, I managed to finally finish the last few chapters of The English Civil War by Diane Purkiss, which was also excellent (even if I had five years or so in between the first 3/4s and the last). It deals with the Civil War (duh) but from all sorts of different points of views and aspects & is thoroughly engaging and readable. The author clearly has a passion for the era she's keen to communicate. It also mentioned my home town, which gets it extra bonus points, obviously.


But basically Le Comte de Monte Cristo is a thing of endless delight & my brain is a mystery. I feel bad for teenaged me for missing it when I could have read it totally without any adult reservation or irony or headaches, but on the other hand, I seem to have needed it last year.
lost_spook: (dw - eleven reading knitting book)
[livejournal.com profile] liadtbunny asked: What would you recommend as a good, amiable fantasy or not very sci-fi sci-fi novel?

Now, I am so out of date on reading generally, let alone SF and Fantasy, that it would be laughable if I even tried to answer this question. However, I am pretty sure that you, my marvellous, book-loving flist will be able to, and with ease!

So, people... what do you reckon would be good? Prove to me that my confidence in you all is not mistaken and find Liadt some splendidly amiable genre reading matter!

Thank you! ♥


(And, Liadt, I know you said you'd heard of Terry Pratchett and that sounded as if you didn't want him recced, but seriously: Guards! Guards! - no silly fantasy names, a parody of all the detective/noir stories and with bonus dragons. I mean, it might as well have your name on it. Beyond that, I'm mostly highly out of date or stuck in the YA section as of five years ago.)
lost_spook: (b7 - deva)
Request: Favourite plot twists - [livejournal.com profile] jaxomsride (It turns out I'm not doing these in order. Also I see no reason to wait for December, either.)


It's hard to think about favourite plot twists, maybe because it's not the first thing I think of in what I like about something (though don't get me wrong, I love a really great plot twist), but also because I have a tendency to rewatch and re-read things I like a lot, so then it becomes hard to remember the time when the plot twist was surprising instead of inevitable and admired plot work.

Or, in short, I can't guarantee these are my actual favourite plot twists, but they were the ones I came up with this week. I shall try to talk about them without spoilers. If this involves sign language at any point, bear with me.


1. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. Her books are so well known, that I think I was spoiled for quite a few of them by the time I read them, or, being the sort of lazy reader who hardly ever tries to work out the murder, maybe I wasn't struck by the others. At any rate, once it became clear what the plot twist was in this one, I was delighted by it, and remain so. I've read at least one other book that used the same twist as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd but I don't think I've ever come across anything with the same solution as Orient Express. (It is something that should be hard to pull off without being ridiculous, which is perhaps why. Or because I haven't read the other books in question, of course.) It's not my favourite Christie, but it is by far my favourite solution to a murder mystery.


2. Listen (Doctor Who). I hesitate to mention this, because I don't want to get into DW discussions, but I thought this was shaped around such a wonderful twist, not just for an episode but because it subverted the expectations of the whole show, especially in terms of New Who and did so beautifully. I know some people are watching this other awful show at the moment, but for me, this was one of the most perfect episodes in a long, long while & largely because of the twist, so I have to include it here.


3. My Life's My Own (Public Eye). It's probably not so much a proper plot twist, in the same way as the two above (but then Public Eye doesn't really work like that), but over halfway through there's a reveal that I completely didn't see coming which not only impressed me in terms of the episode but revised my entire opinion of the series I was watching and what it was capable of. And it was already being a particularly good episode. In addition, there's a twist of viewer expectation in which it looks as though the story is winding down to its close in a particular way - and then it suddenly does so much more with its last five minutes.
lost_spook: (carry on Richard O'C go away reading)
I usually ignore these, but, oh well, why not? I'm a little bored tonight. So, in what seems to be a sort of updated version of the BBC's Big Read list (with a mystery missing no. 19. I think I shall add in something I like. *evil*). Taken from [livejournal.com profile] justice_turtle:

There were rules, but I'm just going to bold the ones I've actually read, and make any relevant notes next to any of the others. I find predicting what I will or won't read in the future is unreliable. I think someone reckons the average most people will have read is 6. I think that's a bit pessimistic. I also, since I nicked it of JT, put in the full list of Carnegie winners as a contrast to the Newbery list. (They are the UK and US equivalents - the Newbery came first, though.)

Long booklist is long )

Carnegie winners )
lost_spook: (inkheart - fear kills everything)
6. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Books were her home when she was somewhere strange - familiar voices, friends that never quarrelled with her, clever, powerful friends, daring and knowledgeable, tried and tested adventurers who had travelled far and wide.


Of all the books I probably wouldn't have read if I hadn't been a children's librarian, Inkheart has to be pretty high up on the list of my favourites. It's not only a gloriously old-fashioned, complex and engaging children's fantasy (in the best possible way, and beautifully written - or, very well translated, since I'm unable to read German), it's an exercise in pure bibliophilia. Inkheart is about book-loving Meggie, her book-binder (or book doctor) father, Mo, her great Aunt Elinor (a book collector who verges on bibliomania), an author and a number of escaped book characters. It's a genuine fantasy novel, but the only magic in it is the power of books and words, of printed paper pages, and reading, and writing - and reading aloud. And about the power, danger and addictiveness of stories and the imagination, of the contrast between fantasy and reality. It's also about the way that stories and characters have a life of their own that can't truly be owned by anybody, even their creators.

The hardback copy I first read (published by Chicken House) was lovely - covers, paper quality, typesetting, everything. A lot of thought went into having not just the cover art (which is nice, but not the thing here) but the whole feel of the book match the theme of it, of getting completely lost in a story. (Actually, I'm thinking now, given how much of it is also about loving the sheer physicality of books - the covers, the paper, their presence in the house, under the pillow, everywhere - it's a little ironic to think how many people are going to read an e-book version of this. That's not a criticism... just a passing thought.)

My only regret is that I couldn't have read it when I was 10 or 12 or so. On the other hand, whether I'd have ever been able to emerge again is a good question, so perhaps it's as well. It is, however, very much one of those books that is a worthwhile read at any age. (Stories have their own shape, and sometimes that shape is a children's novel. That doesn't automatically make it not worth reading by adults.)

Books are like flypapers )

Credits: textures by [livejournal.com profile] tiger_tyger
lost_spook: (Mahy - pulverised)
Mostly made during Yuletide procrastination on the previous weekend. (My friend gave me a book of book quotations, and I couldn't help but turn them into icons).

Teasers:

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket


Total Icon Count: 30

Icons Here! )

Usual rules: Want, take, have, credit. No hotlinking. Comments are always very welcome!

Credit: The darker background created with a texture from Leilax@ the preamble.

Book Meme

10 Feb 2010 07:55 pm
lost_spook: (Default)
Caught from just about everyone on my flist, because it looks like harmless fun.

1. Take five books off your bookshelf
2. Book #1 -- first sentence
3. Book #2 -- last sentence on page fifty
4. Book #3 -- second sentence on page one hundred
5. Book #4 -- next to the last sentence on page one hundred fifty
6. Book #5 -- final sentence of the book

Meme )

Book meme

22 Jan 2010 07:45 pm
lost_spook: (Five Guilty Reading)
Just about everyone on my flist seems to have been doing this book meme. I hesitated, because I couldn't think of answers, but on the other hand, I did find a strange thing in a book once...

Book meme )
lost_spook: (Five)
Edit: Sorry, LJ was refusing to cut everything the other day and now it's done it again.  Sorry about the long entry, but I am not playing about with it any more.  And it's eaten the links again.  *goes off to hit things*

I got this off [personal profile] persiflage_1 a couple of days ago and have been busy. In fact, really I am still busy, but there we go.

Memes under cut )
lost_spook: (Five)
I nicked this off [profile] daibhid_c- how could I, a children's librarian, pass up on this one? Of course, it's odd for me, as this meme assumes one has stopped reading children's books. Heh.

Books, glorious books! )

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