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JennW in SoCal

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JennW in SoCal last won the day on January 4 2013

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About JennW in SoCal

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    Hive Mind Queen Bee
  • Birthday August 5

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    Female

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    violinist, former homeschool mom who graduated 2
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    bird watching, gardening
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    MOM!

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  1. Today I rushed through the last few chapters of Love of Country: A Journey Through the Hebrides as it is due back at the library tomorrow. What an exceptional book! Part travelogue, part political and cultural history always tied in with modern politics and realities. Great writing, too. I wish good photographs weren't so expensive to print -- the black and white photos in this volume are barely helpful. But thanks to google I've been virtually traveling the islands and filling in all the huge gaps in my knowledge of Scottish history. The author made a point of visiting the mills and the individual weavers on Lewis who make Harris Tweed. I had no idea it is still created by hand and created on just a handful of islands in the outer Hebrides. She visits a retired dentist who took up weaving with his uncle's old loom, housed in a shed, which is powered only by his pedaling! "As he wove and his feet pedaled, one hand checked the shuttle while the other smoothed and felt the cloth for imperfections." The final paragraph in this chapter My other reading this week was a repeat, but this time an audio version of a print book. I adore the Rivers of London series -- part police procedural, part urban fantasy, all written with a very funny yet understated satirical snark. I listened to the first one, which has the American title Midnight Riot. I loved the narrator so much I figured I should just get the most recent title, Lies Sleeping, in audio, too.
  2. I was just reviewing the series via a fan page (Follypedia, I think) so I wouldn't be too lost in Lies Sleeping. They are all on my shelves, but I'm too impatient to reread them all before starting Lies Sleeping. And, nope, don't think I had heard about Murderbot before people starting writing reviews here. But my brain is enough of a foggy muddle that it is entirely possible I recommended it then forgot the series entirely🤣. In any case, I just bought the kindle edition of the first one and will probably get to it in the next week.
  3. What about Mr. Popper's Penguins? Or the Freddy the Pig books? Or some of the Lynn Reid Banks books such as I, Houdini (an escape artist hamster)? I may have to pull some Lord Peter stories off the shelf and settle in for some lovely rereading. I haven't been brave enough to try any of the "new" ones... @mumto2 I just finished listening to the first of the Rivers of London series. I've read the series in print up through Hanging Tree, but thanks to ds the first book is in our Audible library. I liked the narrator so much I just downloaded Lies Sleeping to listen to. Have you read any of the graphic novels or novellas? And, lol, I just looked up the Murderbot series on Goodreads and I've clearly had my head in the sand. EVERYONE has read at least the first one in the series.
  4. Haven't been reading too much in the last week and a half as I've been under the weather. Instead I've started binge watching Last Tango to Halifax! I do have a book question for @mumto2. Are any of the Clare Fergusson mysteries set during the warmer summer months? I just started the 4th book in the series and once again it is cold and our favorite Reverend is still driving her unsensible car. The last book it was late spring with snow still on the ground, now it is November with a hard frost. I had to bundle up in a sweater and blanket as I was reading because it was making me feel even more cold and achy!!
  5. I've read almost every Louise Penny book over the years. For the most part I have enjoyed them, loved the community of 3 Pines, and find myself craving brie and baguettes with every book (they eat well in Three Pines)! You do have to suspend belief, as the setting and our hero are all just a little too perfect. But, I'm trying to figure out how to say this without giving anything away. The more recent books featured a long arc of a trope I just can't stand. Let me see if I can white this out... the hero being the lone wolf fighting to save a corrupt, conspiracy filled department. . My reading was quite varied this week. I finally finished A Secret Map of Ireland. I could have rushed through it but preferred reading a couple of essays at a time so the stories wouldn't just jumble together. Love of Country, a Journey through the Hebrides is really excellent. I'm a little slow going through this one, too, but I find myself needing to stop and google locations and paintings and poems. I especially love how the author Madeleine Bunting weaves in the history and literature and art connected with each Hebridean island she visits. And I love how she addresses the way the English appropriated the culture of the Scottish Highlands and adopted it as their own. The book was written around the time of the Scottish Independence referendum, and this very English author is wrestling with where she stands on the issue, never quite resolving it for herself. Which leads me to ask @Violet Crown Have you read the James Macpherson epic poems, specifically the Fingal or Works of Ossian? The chapter on Staffa is utterly fascinating. The name of Frederique Petrides, a female violinist and music conductor, was brought to my attention a few weeks ago. I'd never heard of her before so requested the one book I could find on her, Evening the Score. It is a short book with a brief bio, but the bulk of the book are facsimile copies of her 1930s publications of a newsletter Women in Music which the author has annotated. She was a passionate advocate for advancing the careers and opportunities of women musicians and conductors, and her newsletter covered not just the activities of all the women's orchestras and symphonies across the US, but also included tidbits of the stupid sexism of the time. For instance, the BBC orchestra banned female cellists even though they had other female musicians in the group. A prominent woman composer of the time wondered if "perhaps the attitude of the cello player is considered an unseemly one for women?" After a break of a couple weeks I started listening again to Michelle Obama's Becoming. It is once again very engaging, and I especially appreciate the vignettes of the campaign trail from the perspective of a mother of young children. Frantically shopping for cute hats in February for the girls for the presidential campaign kick off, insisting that the girls didn't need to sit through his campaign speeches. The tidbits that every mom would relate to. And thanks to last week's thread when Mumto2 mentioned this series, I started Out of the Deep I Cry. It is the third in the series that features a woman Episcopalian priest in a small town in the Adirondacks. It had been a couple of years since I read the first two, and was happy to see my library has more of the series on the shelves. (And I thought I had read more than 2 of these, but apparently not!)
  6. I love, love Terry Pratchett!! It is hard to know where to begin, though as all the characters come and go in the different books, but there are some tidy collections of titles that deal with the same characters. I suggest looking through this list. The Tiffany Aching books are really popular, but I can't quite comment as I haven't read them all. One of my favorite characters is Death WHO TALKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS and has a white horse named Binky. His first book, Mort, isn't my favorite of his. I love Thief of Time and Reaper Man when Death has to go work as a human. Oh and Hogfather which is the Discworld version of Santa Claus. I re-read Hogfather every Christmas now, lol! I also love the Sam Vimes, or City Watch books. They are part mystery. Guards Guards is one of the books I have recommended to people who want an introduction to Discworld. My hands down favorite, and the other one I give to people as an introduction is Going Postal where a con-man is conned into running the postal service. Have your kids read the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathon Stroud? There is a magic and an utterly sarcastic wise ass of a genie named Bartimaeus. It was the absolute favorite of my youngest when he was 13, and I enjoyed them too. I listened to them while crocheting the blanket he took to college! Do your kids like John Scalzi's books? Red Shirts or Old Man's War? Or Fuzzy Nation that has a planet with talking cats? And...this isn't fantasy or sci-fi, but the world building is just as brilliant as the best of that genre. The Master and Commander series is utterly brilliant -- yes it is the Royal Navy fighting the French and scurvy during the Napoleonic Wars. Great action, well rounded characters that grow and change throughout the series. My youngest also loved non-fiction during his young teen years, especially anything written by Bill Bryson. And he loved and still loves the All Creatures Great and Small series.
  7. I really enjoyed the first few books in the series, and can't remember where I left off, or how many books there actually are. I may just have to start over again! One of the things I appreciated about the series is how church going Christians -- and the clergy -- are just regular people. They aren't fanatics, the church isn't corrupt -- it's just a normal way of life. It is SOOOO rare in modern fiction.
  8. @Kareni Thank you especially for the link to Katherine Addison's "Five Favorite Moments" in writing The Goblin Emperor. I loved seeing all the kindred souls posting in the comment section saying it is their favorite book and go-to comfort read. And I'm ridiculously excited she is writing another novel set in that universe! Earlier this afternoon I finished Milkman by Anna Burns. I absolutely loved it. Was gobsmacked by it. Loved the writing, the main character and the evocation of a place and of situations so familiar yet so utterly alien. If you are considering it, I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook as apparently the printed version is a challenge. You are inside the main character's head, an 18yo girl who prefers to read while walking, and prefers 19th century novels. She is escaping the 20th century, specifically the 1970 Troubles in Belfast. The setting is never explicitly named, nor are the characters. It is a stream of consciousness narration of a few months in her life, with long rabbit trails into background and explanation that stop the action in the plot. It all makes perfect sense when listening to it as it feels as if you are listening to what is going on inside the 18yo's head. But apparently in print it means never ending paragraphs which, judging by some reviews, is exhausting. The NYT's called it a slog! Other reviewers who loved it nevertheless mention how difficult a read it is.  I'm also really enjoying the non-fiction Love of Country, the chronicles of a journalist's trips to the different islands of the Hebrides. The author, Madeleine Bunting, was a columnist for The Guardian for a number of years. It is the perfect travel book, at least for me, in that she describes landscapes and modes of transport, but intertwines the history and throws in lots of literary references, quoting Samuel Johnson and James Boswell who travelled the Hebrides together. She writes about George Orwell who decamped to the island of Jura after WWII, and wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four there. And she writes about the fun stuff -- going on a boat excursion to ride the whirlpool in the Gulf of Corryvrekan.
  9. Good grief it is Tuesday, I haven't posted my update and have lots of catching up to do! @mumto2 I really enjoyed The Sunday Philosophy Club! It was the yin to balance out the decidedly yang of Ian Rankin's Edinburgh mysteries. And, I looked it up. Did you know The Really Terrible Orchestra is a real thing? Alexander McCall Smith was one of the founders, and he plays bassoon in the group. I wasn't sure whether to believe his author bio, so looked it up, lol! I agree that the ending was...odd. But the characters and the conversations are worth revisiting. I'm listening to Milkman, the 2018 Man Booker prize winner. I can't quite imagine reading it, as it is a very stream of consciousness book without names. But it works in audio with the Irish narrator. I'm totally riveted by it. It is the story of an 18yo woman in Belfast (though the place is never named) during The Troubles, and it immerses you in the world of living on one side of the line. The cruelties, the ways in which you have to cope. Will check back in later after I catch up with this week's discussion.
  10. Just FYI: The castle is currently under tarps because they are redoing all the roof caps and turrets. (The castle hasn't had any major work done on it since it was built in 1955). The tarp isn't too ugly, though -- it has the castle painted on one side and Malificent and a dragon on the other side. Weather permitting, there will be fireworks on Sunday night, but a light show only on Monday and Tuesday along Main Street. As far as food, we are not fans of Blue Bayou, although the atmosphere is great. We like Cafe Orleans -- sitting outside and people watching while eating. There's often entertainers performing just outside of Cafe Orleans. We also like the pasta at Pizza Planet. Last December we had a nice and relaxing meal in CA Adventure at the Lamp Light -- a Pixar themed restaurant. We sat outside downstairs where we could watch the coaster taking off -- it was quiet and the food was good. The food and wine festival will be going on while you are there, so there will be lots of little trailers with yummy offerings.
  11. Disneyland, yes? Anaheim?? Are you doing California Adventure at all or just Disneyland? And where are you staying?? It's been ages since I've gone with young'uns, but my ds is a cast member, (as is his girlfriend) so I can get answers to any specific questions you have. Below are some rambling thoughts.... Monday and Tuesday morning thru early afternoon should be quite pleasant as people tend to come to the park after school and work. Save the gentle Fantasyland Rides (Small World, Dumbo, etc) for then as both adults and families with young kids like to ride them and they can be the longest lines in the park! Sunday might be a little nuts, but you can get a good overview of the place and pick out the stuff you want to do when it is less crowded. It is "off season" but there are thousands upon thousands of annual pass holders in Southern California who will just go for a few hours on a whim, any day of the week. It is their own personal playground! Down load the app that has all the ride wait times. Think of some games to play in line, like finding hidden Mickeys. Definitely get fast passes first thing when you enter an area. California Adventure has much more space -- the walkways are wider and it just feels more open. Carsland is a hit with the younger crowd as is the Little Mermaid ride. Some 8 yos do fine on the coasters at Disneyland. There is nothing super crazy like the 6 Flags parks. Can't remember what the height restriction is. Space Mountain is totally cool as is Big Thunder Mountain. Indiana Jones freaked my kids out as did Haunted Mansion -- it was too spooky for them but your kids might be just fine! Our whole family hates Matterhorn since it jerks you around. The yeti is cool, but it is a painful ride. Stuff my kids liked and that ALL of you can do: To the left of the hub in the Adventure and Frontierland area: Jungle Cruise Explore the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse (maybe renamed a Tarzan??) Riding the train around the park Pirates of the Caribbean -- don't let the line scare you -- it is a constantly loading/unloading ride so the line moves fast. Riding the boats Exploring Tom Sawyer Island -- a great place to let kids run and burn off energy. You take a raft to it! The cute Winnie the Pooh ride that is almost past Splash Mountain. Haunted Mansion is a gentle ride but some kids are totally freaked out and spooked by it. Your older kids might like Indiana Jones, but my kids found it a bit scary til they were older. Splash Mountain is gentle til that last drop. To the right of the hub in Tomorrowland: The roundy round rockets -- which have a name I can't remember at the moment. You'll know it when you see it, lol! Buzz Lightyear is great fun for all ages. Autopia is a classic! The 2.5yo might be able to go with you... Older kids would like Star Wars and perhaps Space Mountain -- the best coaster in the park! Fantasyland is great for all ages as is Toon Town. Can't comment on the current parades and entertainment. There is a Frozen "show", I think still by the castle, and a bigger more Broadway like Frozen show in CA Adventure. Take time to poke into the fire station near the flagpole at the entrance to the park. On the 2nd floor is Walt Disney's old apartment where he would sometimes stay, and they keep a light on in the window for him. You can't go in, but look for the light! I can comment more on food and CA Adventure later, if you'd like. And feel free to post or PM specific questions.
  12. I too skimmed and edited while reading to the kids. But the funniest thing I did was when reading aloud the exciting bits of good books, like some of the Harry Potter books -- I'd stop speaking and just be reading to myself and wouldn't realize it!! My kids would get so exasperated! We'd have to figure out where I left off and start again.
  13. Do you think it is a better Edinburgh book than 44 Scotland Street (which I have on my shelves)? I actually read about half of it several years ago but it never engaged me the way the Ladies #1 Detective Agency did. ETA: While I was at the library this afternoon I found and checked out the Sunday Philosophy Club. 😉
  14. Happy Monday, everyone! My February romance indulgence will likely be a relistening of an Audible freebie from a few years back: Richard Armitage (what a voice!) reading famous love poetry from Shakespearean sonnets to Lord Byron to Shelley to Keats. Last week I read a satisfying Ian Rankin mystery, A Question of Blood. It had a serendipitous tie in with the Belfast based thriller I'd read a week early in that both books deal with the personal toll to those who fought in both sides of The Troubles. My other Irish read is much gentler and so much fun. A Secret Map of Ireland is by an Irish poet and journalist who writes about something unique and quirky in each of the 32 counties of Ireland. Each chapter is a short essay, making it the perfect "sip" book. While I am enjoying Michelle Obama's memoir, it is a bit long, and I wanted something different and lighter to listen to over the weekend. So I put Becoming aside and started listening to a fun Brandon Sanderson YA, Rithmatist. The premise is utterly ridiculous -- certain people have the ability to do battle through chalk drawings, and some of those drawings have come to life and are fighting on their own. But it totally works with its Harry Potter like setting of a school with plucky teens. @Kareni I've added the Hum and the Shiver to my "want to read" list. There were a few titles I'd like to read from that list you linked of musical books, but I'd probably add a few others as well, such as Patrick Rothfuss's work. He really captures what it is to be a musician.
  15. Yep. My ds and I listened to it last summer and I remember the relationship between Cormoran and whatshername drove us both absolutely nuts. And the whole damsel needing rescue trope at the end. I wish she (the author, for those who don't know is JK Rowling writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith) would just write solid mysteries featuring Cormoran as he is a great character.
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