I'm still slaving away happily reading pressing ahead in Anthony Trollope's Orley Farm. I have only one question: WHAT KIND OF BOOK HAS EIGHTY CHAPTERS?!?!
Every time I think I'm making some kind of progress, I get discouraged. I believe I've read forty-two or forty-three chapters. (Most books these days don't even have forty-three chapters!)
I am also reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. I will say this so far: it is more compelling than Orley Farm. (Also darker. Also a LOT more confusing. Characters are so much harder to keep track of when they are Russian and have a couple nicknames per character.)
Quotes from Crime and Punishment:
Efficiency's acquired with some effort, it doesn't just fall from the skies. (179)
'Where was it,' thought Raskolnikov, as he walked onward, 'where was it I read about a man who's been sentenced to die, saying or thinking, the hour before his death, that even if he had to live somewhere high up on a rock, and in such a tiny area that he could just stand on it, with all around precipices, an ocean, endless murk, endless solitude and endless storms--and had to stand there, on those two feet of space, all his life, for a thousand years, eternity--that it would be better to live like that, than to die so very soon! If only he could live, live and live! Never mind what life was like! As long as he could live!...What truth there is in that! Lord, what truth! Man is a villain. And whoever calls him a villain because of it is one himself!' he added a moment later. (191)
Quotes from Orley Farm:
Men will not labour who have gotten all that they require without work.
Why strive to deserve any woman, when women are plenty who do not care to be deserved? That plan of picking up the fallen apples is so much the easier.
Mrs. Furnival had made up her mind that war was expedient, — nay, absolutely necessary. She had an idea, formed no doubt from the reading of history, that some allies require a smart brush now and again to blow away the clouds of distrust which become engendered by time between them; and that they may become better allies than ever afterwards.
At last the battle began. He was not looking, but he heard her first movement as she prepared herself. “Tom!” she said, and then the voice of the war goddess was again silent. He did not choose to answer her at the instant, and then the war goddess rose from her seat and again spoke. “Tom!” she said, standing over him and looking at him.
Robert Turner's Revenge First sentence: When Robert Turner came to the green, ferny triangle where the station road forked to the right and left under the birches, he hesitated as to which direction he would take.
Premise/plot: Robert Turner has waited his whole life to get revenge on a childhood enemy. Will he changes his mind when he realizes that the person he'll be hurting most is his former sweetheart?
My thoughts: It was just okay for me.
The Fillmore Elderberries: First sentence: "I expected as much," said Timothy Robinson. His tone brought the blood into Ellis Duncan's face. The lad opened his lips quickly, as if for an angry retort, but as quickly closed them again with a set firmness oddly like Timothy Robinson's own.
Premise/plot: Ellis Duncan's father has died. Ellis finds it a real struggle to get work since he's a boy--not a "man" and since his father was known for his laziness. Fair or not, Ellis is going to have to prove himself to his community if he is to make it. And prove himself he does when he tackles a difficult job--clearing a pasture of elderberries/elders.
My thoughts: I liked this one so much better than Robert Turner's Revenge.
The Finished Story First story: She always sat in a corner of the west veranda at the hotel, knitting something white and fluffy, or pink and fluffy, or pale blue and fluffy—always fluffy, at least, and always dainty. Shawls and scarfs and hoods the things were, I believe. When she finished one she gave it to some girl and began another. Every girl at Harbour Light that summer wore some distracting thing that had been fashioned by Miss Sylvia's slim, tireless, white fingers.
Premise/plot: Miss Sylvia stars in this short story. She is a magnet for young people. And young people love to tell her stories. One young man is a writer who shares a story he's hoping to have published. In the story, a young man goes away from his lover without declaring his love for her. He thinks it's nobler that way since they can never be together. Miss Sylvia is opinionated. Can she change his mind?
My thoughts: This one is definitely my favorite of the three.
But one evening, when I had known her a month, as time is reckoned, and long years as affection and understanding are computed, she told me her story—at least, what there was to tell of it. The last chapter was missing.
I was reading one of my stories to Miss Sylvia. In my own excuse I must allege that she tempted me to do it. I did not go around with manuscripts under my arm, inflicting them on defenceless females. But Miss Sylvia had discovered that I was a magazine scribbler, and moreover, that I had shut myself up in my room that very morning and perpetrated a short story. Nothing would do but that I read it to her.
This week I've kept up with Charles Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop. I've listened to episodes eleven through fifteen this week.
I've also finished The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. The last episode was "Bingo and the Little Woman." There were eight thirty minute episodes. And they were all DELIGHTFUL. It was dramatized by Chris Miller.
I am super-super-super excited to begin The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. It is a mystery starring Lord Peter Wimsey whom I ADORE. Granted that it isn't my favorite Wimsey mystery. It was also adapted for radio by Chris Miller. "Ian Carmichael appeared as Lord Peter Wimsey for BBC Radio from 1973 to 1983, in addition to the BBC TV adaptations that were broadcast between 1972 and 1975."
Annie Patches: My New Forever Home. Marty Koblish. Photographs by Jessica Charous. 2015. 34 pages. [Source: Bought]
First sentence: My mommy lived on the streets.
Premise/plot: This picture book tells the story of a foster kitty who found her furr-ever home. Her mom was a pregnant stray cat taken in by a foster family. Annie Patches was adopted a few months later and placed in a new home--a forever home. The book uses photographs to tell her story. Well, to show off her cuteness mainly.
My thoughts: I bought this one at a local charity shop because of the photographs. To say I love cats would be a bit of an understatement. I just couldn't resist this one. Sadly, I lost a few pages just with the first read. The story is heartwarming and the photographs are ADORABLE.
Text: 3 out of 5 Photographs: 5 out of 5 Total: 8 out of 10
Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) Neal Shusterman. 2018. 5014 pages. [Source: Library] First sentence: Peach velvet with embroidered baby-blue trim. Honorable Scythe Braums loved his robe. True, the velvet became uncomfortably hot in the summer months, but it was something he had grown accustomed to in his sixty-three years as a scythe.
Premise/plot: Thunderhead is the sequel to Scythe. If you haven't read Scythe yet, you should. What should you know about the series? Well...it's set in the future. Many advancements have been made. Immortality is the norm--for most. Gone are the days where you could die of disease or old age. Most people who die can be revived. Dead has become deadish. But a small percentage of the population is gleaned each year. That is the role of the Scythes. Readers meet many scythes in the first novel in the series. Two of the main characters in the first book were Rowan and Citra. Both characters are back in the sequel. Rowan has adopted the name "Scythe Lucifer" and is on a mission of his own. Citra has adopted the name "Scythe Anastasia." Two main characters that take prominence in Thunderhead are the THUNDERHEAD and Greyson Tolliver.
The Scythes are finding themselves divided into two factions: the 'old' guard that believe that the role of scythe is honorable but heavy with responsibility and the 'new order' which believe that killing is an exhilarating joy. They don't work with heavy hearts and solemnity. No, they approach the job as a pleasure. Scythe Anastasia and Scythe Curie are of the old guard faction.
There are some truly EVIL characters in Thunderhead.
My thoughts: I'm not sure I have words. The ending left me crushed and broken. (I can only compare it perhaps to listening to the whole Hamilton soundtrack.) I think the book is well written and well plotted. It almost goes without saying that it is incredibly compelling--intense and dramatic.
I do recommend the series. Read them back to back if you can. I did not reread the first book. If there is a third book, I will try to make a point to reread all the books.
No Nap! Yes Nap! Margie Palatini. Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. 2014. Little, Brown for Young Readers. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: Mama says, Nap. Baby says, NO NAP! Nap, yes, says Mama. Yes yes yes! Nap, no! No no no!
Premise/plot: Will Baby take a nap? How long will it take to get Baby to nap? Will Mama need a nap too?!
My thoughts: I like this one. I do. I think the enjoyment--in part--comes from not overthinking it. How can you overthink a picture book? By worrying about the dangers of baby talk. By seeing the short, simple incomplete sentences as a threat to your child's language acquisition. By judging the mom for everything she does or doesn't do right. By seeing the BABY not as humorous or realistic but as a super-dangerous role model, a threat or danger to your own child. Read what you want to read to your child, with your child. Be as scrupulous as you want. But here's the thing...in my personal opinion...kids aren't taught to misbehave or be naughty through books. Naughtiness comes naturally. Even if you never pick up No Nap! Yes Nap! chances are that a power struggle over nap time will occur at your house if you have a little one.
Text: 4 out of 5 Illustrations: 4 out of 5 Total: 8 out of 10
Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. Susan Hood. Illustrated by Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, and Melissa Sweet. 2018. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Premise/plot: Shaking Things Up is a nonfiction (biographical) poetry book celebrating remarkable women past and present. The fourteen women included are Molly Williams (first known female firefighter in the U.S.), Mary Anning (paleontologist), Nellie Bly (journalist), Annette Kellerman (athlete and designer/inventor of the modern swimsuit), Pura Belpre (Latina author/librarian), Frida Kahlo (artist), Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne (secret agents), Frances Moore Lappe (anti-hunger activist/author), Ruby Bridges (civil rights pioneer), Mae Jemison (first African American astronaut), Maya Lin (architect and sculptor), Angela Zhang (scientist and cancer researcher), Malala Yousafzai (youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize).
Each spread includes a biographical poem and is illustrated by a different artist. Just as there is variety in the women highlighted in the book, the poems are written in a variety of styles or forms.
My favorite poem:
TURNING THE TIDE There once was a mermaid queen, lovely and lithesome and lean, who swam afternoons without pantaloons-- her swimsuit was deemed obscene! The lady was quickly arrested. Unafraid, she calmly protested: Who can swim fifty laps wearing corsets and caps? Her statement could not be contested. She streamlined the suit of the day and invented our water ballet. By changing the fashions she fueled swimming passions as women made waves in the spray. (15)
My thoughts: I really loved this one overall! Some of the women were completely new to me. I was glad that the back matter included a suggested reading list for each woman. I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys nonfiction OR poetry OR inspirational reads in general.
Text: 5 out of 5 Illustrations: 4 out of 5 Total: 9 out of 10
This week I've continued to listen to Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop. I've listened to episodes five through ten so far. I've reached the part of the story where it's completely new to me. I'd attempted the novel a few years ago. It is holding my interest. Some story lines more than others. There are a few characters--okay ONE character in particular--that I just can't help boo-hissing every time he enters a scene. I have come to loathe his voice simply because I hate the character so much. I believe there are twenty-five episodes in all. What keeps it perhaps from becoming overwhelming is the fact that each episode is less than fifteen minutes long!
I also listened to "The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace." There is just one more episodes of The Inimitable Jeeves left. It has been so much fun to revisit these stories. I definitely enjoy it more than The Old Curiosity Shop!!!
This week I read three short stories by L.M. Montgomery.
Jessamine First sentence: When the vegetable-man knocked, Jessamine went to the door wearily. She felt quite well acquainted with him. He had been coming all the spring, and his cheery greeting always left a pleasant afterglow behind him.
Premise/plot: Jessamine never expected to fall in love with anyone, but love knocks at her door one day. He's the nephew of her regular vegetable-man, Mr. Bell.
My thoughts: I enjoyed this one! Jessamine, our heroine, lives with her brother and his snooty wife. But she longs for the country life she was forced to leave. I am so glad she got her happily ever after ending!
Miss Sally's Letter First sentence: Miss Sally peered sharply at Willard Stanley, first through her gold-rimmed glasses and then over them.
Premise/plot: Willard Stanley is madly in love with Miss Sally's niece, Joyce. But Miss Sally has sworn that she would never, ever, ever give her consent for Joyce to marry anyone. Miss Sally's heart was crushed and broken once--men are not to be trusted. Willard Stanley is determined and clever. He seeks Miss Sally's help in decorating his new house. He acts as if he'll be bringing home a bride soon. And Miss Sally assumes that it is someone besides Joyce. He lets her believe this. Now Miss Sally loves, loves, loves, loves to fix up old houses. If they'd had HGTV back in the day, she'd have had her own show. Will Miss Sally get to know and trust Willard doing this home renovation project? Will Joyce and Willard get their happily ever after?
My thoughts: I really loved this one!
"But I think it will do," mused Miss Sally. "We'll make it do. There's such satisfaction getting as much as you possibly can out of a dollar, and twice as much as anybody else would get. I enjoy that sort of thing. This will be a game, and we'll play it with a right good will. But I do wish you would give the place a sensible name."
"It will be Eden for me when she comes." "I suppose you tell her all that and she believes it," said Miss Sally sarcastically. "You'll both find out that there is a good deal more prose than poetry in life."
Prose, rightly written and read, is sometimes as beautiful as poetry.
My Lady Jane First sentence: The boat got into Broughton half an hour after the train had gone. We had been delayed by some small accident to the machinery; hence that lost half-hour, which meant a night's sojourn for me in Broughton. I am ashamed of the things I thought and said. When I think that fate might have taken me at my word and raised up a special train, or some such miracle, by which I might have got away from Broughton that night, I experience a cold chill. Out of gratitude I have never sworn over missing connections since.
Premise/plot: A man is given a second chance at love. This story is completely silly but has a charm about it as well. Clark Oliver and Elliott Cameron are cousins who could be identical twins. They hate each other. They LOATHE each other. Elliott had no intention of seeking out his cousin's company, but, he missed his train. Delayed for a day, he sees his cousin and ends up agreeing to do him a favor. He will pretend to be Clark for the evening and attend a social dinner. At the dinner he sees an old girlfriend that had broken his heart. In the role of Clark, the two talk and chat...will he get a second chance?!
My thoughts: This one is essentially a short story version of George Strait's LEAD ON. I liked it very much.