Monday, December 11, 2017

Monday - Book Date

Hosted by Book Date.

Just Finished:   

What a sweet book.  I have read recently The Man Who Invented Christmas which is a more historically accurate book that Mr. Dickens and His Carol, but the latter is much more touching and enjoyable.  Both are fantastic reads leading into A Christmas Carol.  I will reread that next week.

Still Reading:

I decided to read David Copperfield in the installments as Dickens released them originally.  That amounts to about three chapters a night.  I should finish by Christmas Eve.  I tried once before to plug through this 700+ page book and that didn't work but these smaller chunks are manageable and much easier to "digest."


This is the story on which the Nutcracker Suite Ballet is based (loosely).  I wanted to familiarize myself with the Ballet's story but also I want to read Hiddensee:  A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker by Gregory Maguire.  I am not sure what grabbed me about this book because I had a very difficult time with Wicked. I loved the music but I even had a hard time following the musical.  I want to like Maguire's works so I will give Wicked another try especially if I enjoy Hiddensee.  I will keep you posted!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Weekly Wrap-up

Books Read:
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
  • The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
  • The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
  • A New York Christmas by Anne Perry
  • The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry
  • A Christmas Message by Anne Perry
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Books To Be Read:
  • Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva
  • A Christmas Return by Anne Perry
With the exception of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, it seems my December reading is centered on Dickens and Perry.  For some reason I associate Christmas with Victorian England.

I have chosen to read Copperfield in the original installments from Dickens' magazine.  It will take me until December 24.  In the meantime, I will include other holiday fare.

I hope to post some reviews or reactions to these works.  I owe a decent review of The Old Curiosity Shop.  That is what I am working on now.  I will post it upon its completion.  

Friday, December 8, 2017

Book Beginnings

Rose City Reader  says "Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name."

She goes on to include the Friday 56 from Freda's Voice"The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice is a natural tie in with this event and there is a lot of cross over, so many people combine the two. The idea is to post a teaser from page 56 of the book you are reading and share a link to your post. Find details and the Linky for your Friday 56 post on Freda’s Voice."

My Read:    

The Angel Court Affair by Anne Perry published in 2015 is number 30 in the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series with a 3.33 star rating on Fictfact.

"Pitt stared at the Home Office minister with disbelief.  He was standing in the quiet, sunlit room in Whitehall, the traffic outside inaudible.   'A Spanish saint?' "  (1)

"It was nothing to do with reconciliation, Ramon agreed quietly."  (56)

Granted neither of these sentences is very "grabbing" but as a fan of the series, I was willing to go a little further.  The Spanish saint is a young woman who ran away from her London home to marry a Spaniard.  Now she returns preaching a new interpretation of Christianity to the consternation of her British family and the Anglican Church.  With treats on her life, Pitt and the Special Branch are called in to provide protection.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


It's Thursday and time to look back.  As the year draws to a close, I have been looking at what I have read in 2017 and trying to find a favorite (or two).  

In 2017 I discovered Fredrik Backman.  I don't know much about him except that he is Swedish, a blogger, a columnist, and now a novelist.  For this, I am most grateful.  

A trusted reading friend recommended A Man Called Ove by Backman.  I picked it up several times on my trips through Barnes and Noble and always ended up laying it aside.  When my friend took me on my birthday jaunt to the bookstore, she picked it up and added to the haul her gift card provided.

From Booklist:

At 59, Ove is a grumble Gus of the first degree. Rules are made to be followed, signs are meant to be obeyed, and don’t even get him started about computers and mobile phones. In truth, Ove has been this way his whole life, but he’s gotten worse in the last four years since his wife, Sonia, died, taking with her all the color in a world Ove sees as black-and-white. Ove has decided life without Sonia is not worth living and plans to join her in the next world. But a young couple and their two children (a third is on the way) move in next door, his oldest friend and most feared enemy is about to be forcibly removed to a nursing home, and a street-scarred cat insinuates itself into his life. Suddenly, Ove’s suicide plans get delayed as he helps solve neighborly crises large and small. Though Ove’s dark mission mitigates any treacly upstaging by animals and small children, readers seeking feel-good tales with a message will rave about the rantings of this solitary old man with a singular outlook. . --Carol Haggas

I sat on my balcony with a cup of coffee and the book.  There had been several occasions that caused me to laugh.  Neighbors walking by with their dogs looked up, smiled, and waved.  But by the time they were on the way back home, I was sobbing. (quite loudly).  I called my friend and could barely catch my breath as I begged her to tell me it would end happily ever after.   I had a good deal left to read.  She hung up chuckling.  I will only say "I love that book."  I love Ove.  I want to live in his neighborhood.  I want to share his friends.  I love that book.

I vowed to read all Backman's books.  They are now downloaded on my kindle.  Yesterday as I browsed the "Books Recommended for You" section, I found "The Deal of a Lifetime."  Wow!  A Christmas book.  A mere 96 pages, this is the story of a man who has sacrificed his family for money and success.  Now, he has a chance to make it right, but it is a drastic plan.  The story moves from present to past and back.  This is not a religious Christmas story, nor is it a pop culture look at the holiday, but readers will walk away with a feeling of redemption and the true meaning of love.

Have I told you how much I love Fredrik Backman?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

First Paragraph Tuesday

First Chapter Tuesday is hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea

"The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world.  They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemakesr's old broken-down tool house." (1)
    Robinson. Barbara.  The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  New York:  Harper and Row, Publishers, 1972.

This is one of my all time favorite books, much less Christmas books.  The Herdmans are hysterical and yes, even lovable.  They worm their way into the church Christmas Pageant and cause any number of catastrophes from taking the coveted roles of Mary and Joseph to the all important role of The Angel of the Lord!  But without a doubt the best part of the whole pageant and story is Gladys as The Angel "with her skinny legs and her dirty sneakers sticking out from under her robe, yelling, at all of us, everywhere:  'Hey!  Unto you a child is born!' "

Monday, December 4, 2017

It is Monday and I am still reading The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.

Amazon says:

"The Old Curiosity Shop is the mesmerizing and heart-breaking tale about Little Nell, who is orphaned and living with her loving Granddad in the shop. In his attempts to secure Nell’s future, Granddad starts gambling. He keeps his nocturnal games a secret, but borrows heavily from the evil Daniel Quilp, a malicious, grotesquely deformed, hunchbacked dwarf moneylender. In the end, he gambles away what little money they have, and Quilp seizes the opportunity to take possession of the shop and evict Nell and her grandfather. Her grandfather suffers a breakdown that leaves him bereft of his wits, and Nell takes him away to the Midlands of England, to live as beggars. The book enjoyed enormous success when it was first published as a serial and has never been out of print since. It is one of the most familiar and well-loved works by Dickens and has been adapted into numerous films, TV-series and plays."

Because this was originally published in installments, I find that Dickens jumps around covering all the main characters which means we go for many chapters without seeing Little Nell and her grandfather.  

Another criticism I have is that rather than seeing Quilp as a malicious villain, I find him farcical, unintentionally humorous.  To make matters worse I see Tyrion Lannister who is anything but malicious and grotesque.  So for me, Quilp is a failed villain.

Finally, I have very little sympathy for the grandfather.  He falls victim to Quilp because of his own weaknesses not because Quilp is so evil. 

If I were writing a final review I would cite evidence to support my issues but for now this is a cursory glance at the book.  I have slightly more that 25% of the book left to read.  I am sure Dickens is prolonging the drama to keep the serial readership up.  I will plug on.

This meme is hosted by Book Date

Friday, December 1, 2017

Shock Wave

From the back cover...

Tasman Sea, 1856.  A British clipper ship bound for Australia's penal colony is crushed in a raging typhoon.  A few pitiful survivors wash up on a deserted island.  Among these are Betsy Fletcher and Jess Dorsett, who discover an immense supply of exquisite diamonds..

Seymour Island, Antarctica 2000.  Dirk Pitt rescues Maeve Fletcher, a descendant of Betsy and Jess, after an unknown cataclysm kills thousands of marine animals plus nearly two hindered people aboard a cruise ship.  Pitt traces the carnage to the global diamond operations of Maeve's father Arthur Dorsett, and her callous sisters.

Dirk Pitt is a member of the NUMA crew a government sponsored team to study marine life.  Perhaps he can be described as a kind of American James Bond or Indiana Jones.  This entry in the Pitt series is a thriller than moves from Antarctica to Canada to DC.  He must fight a ruthless diamond hunter as well as dangerous environmental threats.
I've only read a few Cussler thrillers but so far they are exciting satisfying adventures, so I see no reason not to continue.  I haven't read them in order and don't feel I have missed anything which is unusual for me because I prefer to go in order.