Jump to content


JennW in SoCal

  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by JennW in SoCal

  1. What a fun challenge. Find an esoteric genre... Chinese detective fiction? The police detective series by Qiu Xiaolong is quite good. Cookbooks based on historical fiction? There is Lobscouse and Spotted Dog, recipes from the Master and Commander series. Musician memoirs? Beethoven for a Later Age is a great memoir by the first violinist of the Tacaks String Quartet. Within sci-fi/fantasy there are a numerous sub-genres: Space opera, such as the Vorkosigan books of Lois MacMaster Bujold; Urban fantasy -- Jim Butcher for example; alternate history; stand alone fantasy by which I mean a fantasy novel that is NOT part of a trilogy -- Goblin Emperor is a good example, or The Last Unicorn. Southern Gothic? Your chance to tackle Wm Faulkner! Mythology? The recent Norse mythology collection by Neil Gaiman is great fun. Especially on audio.
  2. Ahem. It is Thursday already, and I've not yet completed a quick reading update. Shadow District, by Arnuldur Indidradson was quite good. I know mumto2 has also read and enjoyed this mystery. It is a story that jumps back and forth between the present and WWII, with the time jumps handled so well that the story progresses smoothly. It is also the first mystery by the author that is not part of the series featuring Inspector Erlendur, and I wonder whether it is going to be a stand alone, or if any of the detectives will become recurring characters in a series. I am hugely disappointed with The Calculating Stars, an alternate history set in the 1950s when women become astronauts. It starts well, and is clearly well researched, but it is a hot mess of a book with the author not being skilled enough to handle all the issues she wants to address in one fluffy sci-fi book. Worst of all, the author herself is the narrator for the audible version, and she reads it like a high school drama student with bad accents and exaggerated emotion. I would probably enjoy it more as a print edition, probably could over look the stupid rocket launch innuendos in the all too frequent bedroom scenes between the husband and wife rocket scientists. Ugh. It was a book I was looking forward to and it has all these glowing 5 star reviews on Goodreads and Audible. ETA -- Do we have a set plan for the Kristin Lavransdatter readalong?
  3. Oh Penguin, and Violet Crown. Just ... love and prayers for you both. And for your congregations. And the Church.
  4. I'll have to look for another Stephen Booth title -- I think the first one I read was via kindle. And a Westie?! I love Westies! My mother-in-law has the sweetest old guy, Hoku, which means star in Hawaiian. And, do you follow Casper the Wee White Dug, a Westie who goes on all sorts of adventures in Scotland? I follow him on Instagram, and stop to enjoy the blog now and again. All the blog posts are fun, but you must check out the report on their recent adventure on the Jacobite steam train, scroll down and find Casper all dressed as Harry Potter....
  5. That Penguin edition with the Nunnally translation looks like the one to get. I figure I'll do both print and audio, which I find the best means of tackling these chunksters. Which means, oh by the way, count me in! Last week was a fairly quiet reading week. I read Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves, one of the Vera Stanhope mysteries. And I'm tempted to quit the stupid fantasy Black Prism, but after investing 15 hours in the audiobook already, I feel I should just plow through last 5. I've got enough driving time this week to finish, I think. During some recent sleepless nights I've been enjoying a re-listen to The Ionian Mission, one of my favorite of the Master and Commander series.
  6. Yes -- the settings have changed for posting photos -- you have to put them in Flickr or similar service and add them via a link. *sigh.* I have some photos I'd like to upload but have been slowed down by the extra step. And I want to see the fossil - or show the pic to my ds who is home now!!! And btw, I wasn't grossed out by the 1st Stephen Booth book, but never got around to looking for and trying any others. The Anna Cleeland books however had a huge yuck factor -- the older DI and the young DC. It wasn't the age -- it was the way it was handled, like he was stalking her, grooming her (in my memory it seems far worse than it probably was). I guess I want my genres separate -- I'll accept a certain amount of creepy love in a beach read romance, but not in a police procedural! Thank you to Kareni for the link to the Tor column about the original Pooh books. I have my childhood books still, and they are treasured favorites! I had a very special weekend! Oldest ds drove our youngest ds home from the LA airport Friday night. For a brief time the entire family unit was together under one roof. We all had breakfast Saturday morning, then dh and I crawled our way up the freeway to downtown LA for a birthday getaway. We saw ELO in concert at the Forum on Saturday night -- it was exceptionally good, a blast from the past played by a group of excellent musicians with eye popping lighting. Before driving home Sunday morning we went to a funky bookstore that is in an old bank building, complete with columns. The two bank vaults are used, too -- one houses rare books and the other a collection of horror titles. I bought a nice stack of mysteries hard to find in my library system: an Ann Cleeves Vera title, two by the Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason, one of which is the first in a new series with a new detective. Lets see, another new to me author Denise Mina. All of that and a GK Chesterton classic, The Man who was Thursday. And a cool 1000 piece puzzle of a photo of the bookshop. Not much reading going on except for listening to the first in an epic fantasy trilogy, The Black Prism. It is just o.k, nothing I'd recommend, but it fits the bill for something to listen to while driving or doing stuff.
  7. Howdy all! Life keeps happening this summer, keeping my busy and off the boards. I have lots of catching up to do with y'all, but here's a quick recap... I'm currently reading 3 very different books: In print, I've got a PD James mystery, Death in Holy Orders and a wonderful collection of articles and essays by Paul Theroux, Figures in a Landscape. The link is to a review of it in the NY Times. On audio I've got an epic fantasy in progress, Black Pyramid by Brent Weeks. And I've finished a few since I last posted. On the fluffier end of things, I just finished the 4th Sebastian St Cyr historical mystery, and before that it was Warrior's Apprentice, one of the Lois McMaster Bujold space opera titles. On the literary end I finished Circe, which was quite excellent. My youngest ds is arriving home a couple of weeks early after living in Japan for the past 2 years. We're frantically cleaning out the spare bedroom, making space for him to move in and be comfortable over the next year while he gets ready to apply for grad school. We found out today that he arrives Friday night!!! And, just over a week ago I met Susan Wise Bauer and family at Comic-Con! I helped her 2 young adult kids get their bearings amidst the throngs of thousands of fans and spent most of a morning with her daughter. We even ran into each other the next day at the train station where I was meeting my oldest ds and they were heading north to meet their oldest son for dinner.
  8. I was there yesterday and today, and that is enough for me! Will post a photo or two and say more probably on Sunday's new thread....but at the moment I cannot even brain........
  9. Loesje -- I thought of you and your melting brain when I saw this news article. Those of us in hot climates didn't need science to prove our minds aren't too nimble in high heat... Heat....can slow your brain
  10. I had to go look up current weather in Belgium. I'd imagine you all are not accustomed to 30 degrees (Celsius, which is mid 80s) nor would your buildings have ceiling fans and air conditioning. It's a good excuse for eating ice cream!
  11. Not sure if I am up for 500 pages of Russian satire this summer. I will cheer you on, however!
  12. Finished Dead Souls, the 10th Inspector Rebus mystery by Ian Rankin, and my first. I did enjoy it and will read others in the series, but have to make sure the next title or two doesn't have that smirking psychopathic serial killer. I skimmed or skipped some sections with that guy, otherwise I would have had nightmares! But, like any real police officer, Rebus had other cases to work on, so the book didn't center on the psychopath, so it was still a good mystery. I have about 5 more chapters left in Circe. Just when I think the book is getting too long, the author pulls me right back in and another hour of listening has quickly passed. Not sure what to choose for my my next read from my teetering piles of books, both physical and electronic...
  13. Nice job tagging. Now, how do you do that?! I have not read that book, by the way. Let me know what you think. I'm enjoying the Rebus book, though I do wish there wasn't a psychopath serial killer. I'm watching the BBC adaptation of JK Rowlings (writing as Robert Galbraith) Cormoran Strike mysteries. Seems very spot on so far.
  14. I loved Mists of Avalon when I read it many years ago. I think Matroyshka summed up the anti-Christian label quite nicely. I loved the female perspective of the Arthurian story, and the book hit me in my sweet spot. I read the other titles in the series but they just weren't as good. I keep wondering about Lady Florida and Magpie Murders. Kathy -- did you abandon it? I would recommend skipping or skimming ahead to the 2nd mystery. Started an Ian Rankin mystery last night. Decided to be a little wild and NOT start at the beginning, so picked a title towards the middle of the series.
  15. Have you gotten to the mystery within the mystery yet? It has been a while since I read it and I recall it does pick up...
  16. Oh look -- another mystery I'll want to read! I'm #83 on the library queue... When we visited my ds in Japan last year, I packed an enormous bag of tortillas and some powered taco and fajita mix. Didn't try packing a breakable jar of salsa. A few months ago, with his time in Japan drawing to a close, he found an American grocery store less than an hour away where he could by Pepperidge Farm cookies and all kinds of taco fixins! The "fix" we crave after time away is fish tacos from Rubios, a local chain. Now....about tea. Below is a photo of the delicious, unusual afternoon tea we had in a funky cafe in Sydney. I'll post a photo of the menu, too.
  17. Love this week's theme, Robin! Have you read Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks by Ken Jennings? It is a favorite book of mine. I'd love to read each of the the 3 books you highlighted in that first post!! I love maps! Took lots of geography courses in college, and I often want maps in the books I'm reading. I spent some time this afternoon googling and searching Goodreads for some new mystery authors, and loved seeing reviews on Goodreads by Amy, Lady Florida and Mumto2. I feel I should finally try Ian Rankin, and found a few author names to look for in the library such as Ruth Rendell, Peter James and Deborah Crombie. I still have many Sebastian St Cyr titles to go, but like having a good mystery on hand. This mystery search was inspired by finishing a satisfying PD James novel, A Certain Justice. As I had mentioned last week, the first part of the book happened before the murder, with the victim and her friends such awful characters that I almost didn't want to continue with it. I was a much happier reader once Dalgleish and company took center stage. I'm about half way through Circe, and still enjoying it very much. I originally hadn't thought it would be something I'd want to read, thinking I knew Greek mythology, but it is really brilliant the way she differentiates the gods and titans from humans, makes their world distinct. Oh, and I wanted to share this "Big Idea" entry from John Scalzi's blog with Mary Robinette Kowal discussing her new book, The Calculating Stars. It is an alternate history set in the 1950s where women become the first astronauts. I thought it sounded like a book many of you, and perhaps many of your teen aged daughters, would enjoy.
  18. No suggestions, but this WTM auntie wants to give your dd a virtual hug for being such a good, empathetic friend! You and your dd should just keep repeating to this young lady that tests are not the final, nor the best, measure of smarts. Offer help or suggestions if the friend wants them, otherwise just keep on being loving and supportive.
  19. Robin -- are fireworks legal in your neck of California? They are not here, due to fire concerns, though of course there are always a few renegades shooting off some brought in illegaly. It stays fairly quiet around me and it helps that we are far enough away from the nearest municipal show. I never posted a reading update. I'm currently listening to and captivated by Circe, and am reading a PD James mystery, A Certain Justice. I'm glad it didn't take too long for the murder to happen so Dalgleish and company can arrive on the scene. What an unlikable cast of characters she introduces -- I wonder how many of them are going to wind up dead before the book is done? While on my trip I read the third of the Sebastian St Cyr books, the one with Mermaids in the title. I'm still enjoying them and will use Kathy's experience as a reminder to take my time with the series! I also read a great memoir which I bought at a store in Perth, Foreign Correspondence by Geraldine Brooks -- the author of People of the Book. I loved it as she is roughly my age and the memoir is framed by her youth in Sydney and her pen pals around the globe. Another excellent book I finished was Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. It is an epic about two dysfunctional families sharing the same old large house in Perth post WWII through the early 60s. Much of the plot is fairly grim, but it never feels that way because the writing is funny and poetic and simply beautiful. This is apparently often voted the best Australian novel, and I can see why. I'd love to read more by Winton, and highly recommend Cloudstreet. I have been listening to, and often falling asleep to Neil Gaiman reading his Norse Mythology. The stories are great, and he is a wonderful reader. I'm just falling asleep because it is bedtime!! I slept through most of it on my flight home, and have gone back to listen to the parts I missed.
  20. A couple more photos before I head to the grocery store. Sydney more than lives up to its picturesque reputation. On our first jet-lagged day (our flight arrived at 7am) we took one of the commuter ferries to Watsons Bay where we ate fish and chips then hiked a path along the headlands. The first photo below is the view of the downtown (or as they say Down Under, the CBD -- Central Business District) skyline from our hike. The second photo is from the Australian Museum. Cheeky Aussies -- one of the treasures from their collection, on display when you first enter, is the skeleton of a horse that sired several champion racing horses. Since a horse skeleton alone would be boring, they have it posed rearing up with a human skeleton hanging on......and it is affectionately dubbed "The Bone Ranger". But it wasn't the only random human skeleton on display as you can see in the second photo, taken in a corner of a gallery.
  21. No rest for the weary and jet lagged here. My mother-in-law arrives tomorrow night for a short stay, and since she can't do stairs, we let her stay in our ground floor master suite. Meaning, well, the room has to be clean! So I was scrubbing the shower and vacuuming dust bunnies today. I know I have books to post about, but will get to those later. For now here are a couple of photos from Sydney. (I'll follow Negin's lead and post a few pictures here and there -- I'm loving my vicarious visit to Italy, by the way). The first is of the reading room at the State Library of New South Wales. They have working card catalogs!!! The friendly security guard told us they would always have those card catalogs even though everything is computerized. The State Library also has a statue in honor of Trim, the first cat to circumnavigate Australia. The cafe is also named Trim, and there is a small display in the basement devoted to him. Got to love a library with card catalogs and an homage to a cat... The second is of the the Opera House and surrounding area all lit up for the big light show extravaganza called Vivid, which lasts 3 weeks every June. We arrived in time to enjoy the last few days, and it was absolutely gonzo. Not just the lights, but the festival atmosphere and the amazing food trucks! The pattern of lights on the opera house were ever changing, and all the surrounding skyscrapers and the harbor bridge (from where I took that shot) were lit with changing lights and there were lasers going, too. The big red dot in the photo is someone's drone...
  22. Just a quick wave hello! We got home Thursday after 27 hours of travel, spent most of yesterday doing laundry in a jet lagged fog. I'll post more tomorrow with the start of the new thread. Quick synopsis -- Australia is wonderful, and we managed to cover most of the country in 2 weeks. I had lunch with Rosie but not StellaM (Melissa) who was battling bronchitis. Photos and reading updates to follow.
  23. Did any of you have to wear gym uniforms -- one piece snap up rompers -- for PE? I know I had to circa 1971. I've tried to block it from my memory but here it is in this photo on this blog. Scroll down til you see the horrific blue jumper, complete with bloomers with the embroidered name. Yep -- ours had to be monogrammed, too. < shudders from the memories >
  24. Looking forward to hearing what you think of it. Looks like my library system has several copies of the 4 or so translated titles -- just not at any branch near me or on Overdrive. Ahhh, Bruges!
  25. I've read and enjoyed a couple of the Baantjer mysteries. I've not yet read any of the Maigret mysteries simply because when I first learned of them I was on my way to visit Flanders and meet our own Loesje, and I was feeling fiercely loyal to all things Flemish! I just came across a mystery series set in Bruges that might be fun. From Bruges with Love by Pieter Aspe There are some other titles from the series listed on Amazon that have been translated into English. Bruges!!! Oh, the chocolate, the beer, the architecture, the cute little shops and canals!!
  • Create New...