Helenliz sends a postcard

En/na Helenliz sends a 2nd postcard ha continuat aquest tema.

Converses2021 Category Challenge

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

Helenliz sends a postcard

1Helenliz
Editat: oct. 12, 2020, 4:20pm

I'm Helen and I'm a quality manager in a small firm that makes inhaler devices for delivery of drugs to the lung. In my spare time I am secretary of the local bellringers association, which has been interesting in 2020, I can tell you! When not working, reading or ringing, I enjoy crafts. I tend to resort to cross stitch, but have tried quilting and other machine and hand sewing over the years. I also try and keep in some form of shape, as I prefer food to dieting. >;-)

This year's challenge is taken from a book of postcards. I spent years 1997 to 2001 living in London while holding a post-doctoral position in the Univeristy of London. As we were not far from the centre of London, I made a point of , at least once a month, going out on a Wednesday afternoon and visiting some fo the great museums and art galleries that are scattered across the capital. And from each place I visited, I sent my parents a postcard. What I didn;t know at the time was that Mum collected them up and saved them in a photo album, which she gave to me later. I'm not sure it's complete, but it's nice to see where I went at different times. So all my images this time are copies of the postcards I sent.

Where are we going today?

2Helenliz
Editat: març 15, 1:58pm

Currently Reading


Currently reading
Fire in the Thatch
Jerusalem

Loans: To try and keep track of the library books I've got out.
Library books on loan:
NONE!!!
Borrowed from Cathy
The Ghost Fields Ruth Galloway #7.

Book subscriptions: To try and make sure I don't fall tooooo far behind
Tyll (MrB's May)
✔️Piranesi (MrB's February)
A Woman is no Man (Shelterbox March)

Book Bullets Who got me, with what, things I want to try and find at some point.
Death walks in Eastrepps (Liz - and it's one I can get a copy of!)
Why We Sleep (Jackie_K)
The Great Typo Hunt (Cindy)
Alone in Berlin (Tess)
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (Stacy)
Cain (Annamorphic)
I will never see the world again (Charlotte)
The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (Charlotte - again).
Whitefly (DeltaQueen)
Fools and Mortals (Birgit)
Wakenhyrst (Susan) (again)
Play It Again: An Amateur Against the Impossible JackieK
Your life in my hands JackieK (again she's got me with the non-fiction)
A Jury of her Peers (Liz - and this one's not in the library - or at least not the short story)
The Seventh Cross, (Charlotte - a prolific bulleteer!)
A is for Arsenic (Mamie got me with this one)
Rummage: A History of the Things We Have Reused, Recycled and Refused to Let Go by Emily Cockayne (another hit by Susan)
From Crime to Crime by Richard Henriques (Deadeye Susan) (check title)
Life in a Medieval Village (Tess because it's local)
The Yellow Wallpaper (Mamie & Charlotte, in quick sucession)
The Man Who Walked Through Walls (Pam)
Endell Street (Susan)
Love and Other Thought Experiments (The radio & Caroline)
Pandora's jar (susan, but I was primed to take this one already!)

3Helenliz
Editat: març 15, 5:01am

The List: 2021

January
1. An Unsafe Haven, Nada Awar Jarrar, ***
2. Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir, ***.
3. It's not about the Burqa, Ed Miriam Khan, ***
4. Help me!, Marianne Power, ***
5. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis, ****
6. The Reluctant Widow, Georgette Heyer, ****

February
7. Square Haunting, Francesca Wade, ****
8. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr, ***
9. Mordew, Alex Pheby, **
10. The House of Splendid Isolation, Edna O'Brien, ***
11. Alexa, what is there to know about Love?, Brian Bilston, ****1/2
12. We, the Survivors, Tash Aw, ***
13. Nordic Fauna, Andrea Lundgren, ***
14. Crossed Skis, Carol Carnac, ****
15. Why Willows Weep, Ed Tracy Chevalier, ****

March
16. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke, ****
17. The Last man Who Knew Everything, Andrew Robinson, ***
18. What Lies Beneath, Adam Croft, ***

4Helenliz
Editat: març 4, 5:26am

Challenge 1 - Women Authors
Portrait of Dorothy Hodgkin by Maggi Hambling from the National Portrait Gallery


The NPG houses portraits from the Tudors through to modern sitters and artists. I like it because while the museum as a whole is arranged chronologically (oldest on the top floor, newest on the ground), you can pick a period and go for that in detail as well. It is also not afraid of a bit of controvery. This portrait is of the scientist Dorothy Hodgkin. She's been painted with more than the usual number of arms, in an attempt to show visually her mental swiftness and energy. I like it, I like that her desk is messier than mine.

As a portrait by and of a woman, this category will house female authors. I want to read at least 50% of books by women authors this year.

1. An Unsafe Haven, Nada Awar Jarrar
2. Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir
3. It's not about the Burqa, Ed Miriam Khan
4. Help me!, Marianne Power
5. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
6. The Reluctant Widow, Georgette Heyer
7. Square Haunting, Francesca Wade
8. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr
9. The House of Splendid Isolation, Edna O'Brien
10. Nordic Fauna, Andrea Lundgren
11. Crossed Skis, Carol Carnac
12. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke

5Helenliz
Editat: març 15, 5:01am

Challenge 2 - New Authors
Entrance to the new British Library site


The British Library Reading Rooms used to be housed in the rotunda in the middle of the British Museum. It had long since outgrown this space and was moved to the St Pancras site not long before I started working in London. Some people don't like it, but I did. Once you're past the foyer and actually in the reading rooms (which you need a readers pass to do) it's a really good working environment. My favourite table was on the side of the building, in an alcove that was windowed and jutted out over the street a little. Really good spot to watch the world go by while ideas formed.

As this was new when I was there, this will house those authors that are new to me. I'd like to manage 1/3rd of new authors this year.

1. An Unsafe Haven, Nada Awar Jarrar
2. It's not about the Burqa, Ed Miriam Khan
3. Help me!, Marianne Power
4. To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
5. Square Haunting, Francesca Wade
6. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr
7. Mordew, Alex Pheby
8. Alexa, what is there to know about Love?, Brian Bilston
9. We, the Survivors, Tash Aw
10. Nordic Fauna, Andrea Lundgren
11. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
12. The Last man Who Knew Everything, Andrew Robinson
13. What Lies Beneath, Adam Croft

6Helenliz
Editat: feb. 25, 2:38am

Challenge 3 - Translations
The Ambassadors by Holbein from the National Gallery


This is one of those paintings that everyone knows, but who is it? Well they are ambassadors to the court of Henry VIII, but that's not the painting's title. Hanging in the National Gallery, this is one of my favourites to sit in front of and see something new each time.

As the gentlemen in the painting were ambassadors from a foreigh court, this will be where I put my books read in translation. I'd like to read 6 this year. More than 4 is a win.

1. Nordic Fauna, Andrea Lundgren

7Helenliz
Editat: març 4, 5:27am

Challenge 4 - Book Subscriptions
Tromp l'Oeil. Board Partition with Letter Rack and Music Book by Cornelius Gijsbrechts, from the National Gallery


The idea of painting something so perfectly that you think you can pick it up amazes me (who cannot draw a straightline with a ruler). This was, I think, part of an exhibition of Tromp l'Oeil (which translates roughly as trick of the eye) and the idea of letters on a postcard appealed to me.

As my book subscriptions come through the post, the letter rack can house these. I'd liek to keep roughly up to date...

1. An Unsafe Haven, Nada Awar Jarrar
2. Square Haunting, Francesca Wade
3. Mordew, Alex Pheby
4. We, the Survivors, Tash Aw
5. Nordic Fauna, Andrea Lundgren
6. Piranesi, Susanna Clarke

8Helenliz
Editat: gen. 25, 3:38am

Challenge 5 - Heyer Series Read
Wimbledon tennis championships


Georgette Heyer was born in Wimbledon, so this makes the perfect match for her books. I'm reading the romances (both Georgian & Regency) and the history novels in publication order. I'd like to get 6 read.

Heyer romances:
(r) Set in Regency Period
(g) Set in Georgian Period
(h) Set in prior historical Periods.

Finished
✔️ The Black Moth (g) 1921 Finished 01Jan18, ****1/2
✔️ Powder and Patch (g) 1923 Finished 05Feb18, ***
✔️ The Great Roxhythe (h) 1923 Finished 30Apr18, ***
✔️ Simon the Coldheart (h) 1925 Finished 7May18, ***
✔️ These Old Shades (g) 1926 Finished 31May18, ***
✔️ The Masqueraders (g) 1928 Finished 17Jul18, ****
✔️ Beauvallet (h) 1929 Finished 08Sep2018, ****
✔️ The Conqueror (h) 1931 Finished 25Dec2018, ****
✔️ Devil's Cub (g) 1932 Finished 31Jan2019, ****
✔️ The Convenient Marriage (g) 1934 Finished 12Mar2019, ****1/2
✔️ Regency Buck (r) 1935 Finished 08May2019, ****1/2
✔️ The Talisman Ring, Georgette Heyer Finished 10Aug2019, ***
✔️ An Infamous Army, Georgette Heyer Finished 13Oct2019, ***
✔️ Royal Escape, Georgette Heyer Finished 14Feb2020, ***
✔️ The Spanish Bride, Georgette Heyer Finished 28Mar2020, ***
✔️ The Corinthian, Georgette Heyer Finished 17Jun2020, ****
✔️ Faro's Daughter, Georgette Heyer Finished 25Aug2020, ****
✔️ Friday's Child, Georgette Heyer Finished 10Oct2020, ****
✔️ The Reluctant Widow, (r) Georgette Heyer Finished 24Jan2021, ****

To be Read
The Foundling (r) 1948
Arabella (r) 1949
The Grand Sophy (r) 1950
The Quiet Gentleman (r) 1951
Cotillion (r) 1953
The Toll Gate (r) 1954
Bath Tangle (r) 1955
Sprig Muslin (r) 1956
April Lady (r) 1957
Sylvester, or The Wicked Uncle (r) 1957
Venetia (r) 1958
The Unknown Ajax (r) 1959
Pistols for Two (short stories) 1960
A Civil Contract (r) 1961
The Nonesuch (r) 1962
False Colours (r) 1963
Frederica (r) 1965
Black Sheep (r) 1966
Cousin Kate (r) 1968
Charity Girl (r) 1970
Lady of Quality (r) 1972
My Lord John (h) 1975

9Helenliz
Editat: feb. 28, 1:39pm

Challenge 6 - Short Stories
Mini poster, British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, from a visit to Haynes Motor Museum


I have a fondness for the original Mini. They're cute and cheeky and drive like a go-cart. Just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

And as they're little, this will be where I put my short story reading. This tends to be what I listen to when commuting to work, so I'm not sure how many will end up in here.

1. It's not about the Burqa, Ed Miriam Khan
2. Alexa, what is there to know about Love?, Brian Bilston
3. Nordic Fauna, Andrea Lundgren
4. Why Willows Weep, Ed Tracy Chevalier

10Helenliz
Editat: des. 1, 2020, 5:17am

Challenge 7 - Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize)
English Court dress 1755/60 Victoria & Albert Museum


The Women's Prize for Fiction is the UK's foremost prize for female writers. The (tenuous) link here is that the V&A houses an impressive collection of costume, with this being an example of female dress. Not at all practical, imo. the V&A having a female foremost in the title makes that just about a match.

I'd like to read 6 in the year.

11Helenliz
Editat: oct. 12, 2020, 1:22pm

Challenge 8 - Lists



I love a list. Any list, I find them irresistable. So here's where I'll put books I read from the 1001 btrbyd and Guardian 100 best novels (a more manageable amount on this list.). So why put them here with this picture? Well the picture is in 2 parts, the left is the young man, in army kit, as he heads off (you presume) to fight in WW1. The right hand side is the old man. The assumption is that they are the same person. The title is a quote from the bible about the second coming, but in this case is, I believe, being applied to death. The young man had no expecation of becoming the man on the right, as death could ahve been lurking around any corner, and yet he has and still faces that uncertainty as to when death will make itself felt. Probably before I've finished a list.

I didn't do too well on this lat year, so setting sights low with 3.

12Helenliz
Editat: març 12, 4:16am

Challenge 9 - Non-fiction
Dippy the Diplodicous from the Natural History Museum


Dippy and I have history. I first went to the NHM when I was 5 or 6, on a school trip. We were doing dinosaurs and I hated them. They gave me nighmares. So seeing this thing looming over me didn't exactly settle my fears. To the extent that I would not walk under its head. I went the full length of its body, round by its tail and back up the body - which is a big ole detour when you've only got little legs. I can't find it in myself to be upset that Dippy has been replaced by a Blue Whale.

This will be where I put my non-fiction. This used to be a regular category, but fell out of favour a year or so back. With the Non-Fiction Cat in 2020 as a prod, my non-fiction reading increased again, and I've enjoyed it. So we'll see how we go with the Non-fiction this year.

1. Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir
2. It's not about the Burqa, Ed Miriam Khan
3. Help me!, Marianne Power,
4. Square Haunting, Francesca Wade
5. The Last man Who Knew Everything, Andrew Robinson,

13Helenliz
Editat: març 18, 5:58am

Challenge 10 - CATs
The Wellington Arch


Yes, you've seen this structure before, I love it that much. In 2020 it housed my CATs on the grounds that cats arch their back. I can't even find a connection that tenuous this year. I just like it, and you can admire it again.

AlphaKit
Yearlong: X and Z
January..............P M Help me!, Marianne Power,
February............T K When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, Judith Kerr
March.................U R The Last man Who Knew Everything, Andrew Robinson,
April....................A W
May.....................I N
June....................C D
July......................S O
August................V J
September.........F L
October..............H E
November.........B Y
December..........G Q

I'm going to try and pick books I already own to meet this. Probably picking by author's name.

Random CAT is always fun

I may dip into the others, I'll see how it goes.

January:
Random CAT: LOL To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis Didn't make me LOL, but did make me smile any number of times.
GenreCAT: Non-fiction Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir
History CAT: Middle ages Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir

February:
Random CAT: Fruit & veg
GenreCAT: Memior, biography & autobiography Square Haunting, Francesca Wade
HistoryCAT: 1800 to present Square Haunting, Francesca Wade

March:
Random CAT: Surprise Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
GenreCAT: Action & Adventure
History CAT: 1500 - 1800 The Last man Who Knew Everything, Andrew Robinson,

April:
Random CAT: Some else's library
GenreCAT: literary fiction
History CAT: Ancient

14Helenliz
Editat: març 4, 5:27am

Challenge 11 - Bingodog
The Balbi Children by Van Dyck, National Gallery


I almost picked Van Dyck's portrait of the children of Charles I, which has the future Charles II with his hand on a large hound - only I think these children are even better. Van Dyck paints children like no other painter, they're real, they're lively and they're about to fly out of the frame. It's not known exactly who these children are, the painting was in the Balbi family, but the children and their ages are apparently wrong for it to be that family. Regardless, these three boys are real and will never loose their energy and youth.

BingoDog card to go here.

✔️1. One-word title Piranesi, Susanna Clarke
✔️ 2. By or about a marginalized group It's not about the Burqa, Ed Miriam Khan
3. Dark or light in title
4. Book with a character you think you'd like to have as a friend
✔️ 5. Arts and recreation Square Haunting, Francesca Wade
6. Book with a title that describes you
7. Book you heartily recommend
8. A book about nature or the environment
9. Classical element in title (Western: earth, air, wind, fire, aether/void. Chinese: wood, fire, earth, metal, water)
✔️10. Book by two or more authors Why Willows Weep, Ed Tracy Chevalier,
11. Impulse read!
✔️12. Book with a love story in it The Reluctant Widow, Georgette Heyer
13. Read a CAT
14. Set in or author from the Southern Hemisphere
15. A book that made you laugh
16. Suggested by a person from another generation
✔️17. Author you haven’t read before Help me!, Marianne Power,
18. Set somewhere you’d like to visit
✔️19. Book about history or alternate history Queens of the Conquest, Alison Weir
✔️20. Book you share with 20 or fewer members on LT An Unsafe Haven, Nada Awar Jarrar (8 members at the time of reading)
✔️21. Book less than 200 pages Nordic Fauna, Andrea Lundgren
22. Senior citizen as the protagonist
✔️23. Book with the name of a building in the title The House of Splendid Isolation, Edna O'Brien
✔️24. Time word in title or time is the subject To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
25. Book with or about magic

15Helenliz
Editat: oct. 12, 2020, 1:41pm

Challenge 12 - Miscellaneous
The Wilton Dyptych, National Gallery


This is probably my favourite painting, I love the detail, the contrast, the fact that this is the earlest known English painting, this is us, this is where we come from. If you take a magnifying glass to the bauble on the top of the staff in the right hand panel it depicts a small island, with a tiny castle on it, set in a silver sea. Sound familar? I couldn't have a challenge of pictures and postcards without including this one, so the best has been saved to last. This will be for the miscellaneous books. There might not be many, but I get to scroll past this every so often and sigh in delight.

16LadyoftheLodge
oct. 12, 2020, 4:59pm

Wow, I am impressed! These seem like interesting categories.

17rabbitprincess
oct. 12, 2020, 5:57pm

Yee haa! Awesome thread!

My favourite museum in London has to be the Transport Museum -- it has the best gift shop! And I have fond memories of our visit to the National Gallery, through which I hauled an enormous bag of books I'd bought at the Strand location of Waterstones :D

18NinieB
oct. 12, 2020, 6:21pm

My goodness, you are off and running. I don't even have a theme yet!

19katiekrug
oct. 12, 2020, 9:21pm

Marking my place here, Helen! I love the images you've chosen.

20DeltaQueen50
oct. 12, 2020, 11:56pm

Great set-up with some fascinating artwork, looks like you have a good working plan for 2021!

21Helenliz
oct. 13, 2020, 2:19am

Thanks all for visiting! It came to me all of a flash a couple of weekends ago, so it was then just a case of finding the postcards and shoehorning the categories to fit. They're basically the same as last year, just a tweak with the less populated categories.

22MissWatson
oct. 13, 2020, 5:14am

This is such a great idea! And the tripytch is simply gorgeous. Have fun with your Heyers!

23Jackie_K
oct. 13, 2020, 7:01am

That is a brilliant idea for your challenge, I'm really impressed. In my final year in London (2004-05) I made a point of visiting at least one museum or other attraction per month, that I'd not managed to get to in my previous 14 years of living there. There are some real oddities and oases if you know where to look!

I had to smile at >9 Helenliz:. I first learnt to drive in an original Mini, it was older than I was, and had a manual choke which wouldn't stay out without the assistance of a clothes peg to stop it going straight back in again. Randomly, that car still occasionally appears in my dreams.

24Tess_W
oct. 13, 2020, 7:02am

Great idea!

25dudes22
oct. 13, 2020, 7:32am

Nice beginning! I love that your mother thought to keep the cards you sent her. Makes for a great theme.

26scaifea
oct. 13, 2020, 8:05am

I love the postcard theme! I tend to keep the ones sent to me and use them as bookmarks, so I love looking through your selection!

27Helenliz
Editat: oct. 13, 2020, 10:46am

>22 MissWatson: I know it's divine. I can sit in front of it for ages. All of which is entirely appropriate for a portable altarpiece, made for Richard II.

>23 Jackie_K: Mum was quite insistent that I should take the opportunities the location offered, so she pushed me to go out and about in the first place. And yes, there are some perfect gems hidden out there if you start looking. My first car was a Mini, a red one which Dad & I did up. it had red & black chevrons on the roof and got sprayed with leftover paint, so was a red that could never be matched! We put a larger engine and disk brakes on the front. Did a number of track days in it and loved it. Never got above 80mph, but it felt like 180 when it's that small. >:-D

>24 Tess_W: thanks! I was quite pleased with it.

>25 dudes22: I know, it was such a surprise, and really nice when I got them all back years after sending them.

>26 scaifea: I've been using the same postcard from Tate Modern as my bookmark for several years. I even had someone buy me one when I'd mislaid the first one!

28lkernagh
oct. 13, 2020, 11:30am

I don't know which I love more... the fact that you had a post-doctoral position in London and checked out all the wonderful museums and galleries or the postcards you have chosen for your categories. I am looking forward to following your reading, in particular your Heyer Series category.

29This-n-That
oct. 13, 2020, 12:05pm

Wow, how amazingly well organized you are! You must have had this planned for a while. The postcards theme works so well for your challenge.

30Helenliz
oct. 13, 2020, 3:07pm

>28 lkernagh: I'm just glad you appreciate them, which ever it is.

>29 This-n-That: Like I said, I like a list! The categories are the same as this year, with 1 exception, so that didn't take a lot of work. The theme was going to be pictures, but I then got all tied up in copyright and wot not, which worried me. This idea came to me a couple of weekends ago, and all it took was a little bit of deciding which ones fitted the categories, scanning the postcards and it was all ready to go. Simples >:-)

31LittleTaiko
oct. 13, 2020, 4:51pm

How creative! Love that you were able to use your postcards this way. Completely envious that you went to Wimbledon - someday maybe I'll get to go.

32Helenliz
oct. 14, 2020, 3:22am

>31 LittleTaiko: I've been several times. >:-) If I left the university about 3 ish I could get in on an after 5 ground pass, which grants you access to all the non-ticketed courts. Excellent value for up to 3 hours tennis. I also entered the ballot and got tickets to Centre court on Second Monday, the year Murry played a match that went on really late. Mum and I both just about got home on the last trains!

If it makes you feel any better, my postcard to mum did start with "I bet you're jealous" as she used to always watch Wimbledon.

33mnleona
Editat: oct. 14, 2020, 8:41am

Love your post. I used to sent postcards also. The museums in London are wonderful.

The other day the mini skirt question was on a game show. I had no idea why it was named that. I found this when I searched.

"Several designers have been credited with the invention of the 1960s miniskirt, most significantly the London-based designer Mary Quant and the Parisian André Courrèges. Although Quant reportedly named the skirt after her favourite make of car, the Mini, there is no consensus as to who designed it first."

Leona

34LadyoftheLodge
oct. 14, 2020, 3:24pm

I have a post card collection, not as large as it used to be as I sold off some of them. I belonged to a post card collectors club that met monthly and we took turns doing presentations. I also attended many post card collectors shows and exhibits. I have quite a collection of Princess Diana cards that I acquired when I visited England many years ago, as well as some artist-designed greeting cards.

35hailelib
oct. 14, 2020, 11:57am

Love the postcards.

You’ve still got some of my favorite Heyer novels to look forward to in 2021.

36Helenliz
oct. 14, 2020, 12:07pm

>33 mnleona: Thanks. It would make as much sense as how a bikini came to be named!

>34 LadyoftheLodge: I'm have a box I have no idea what to do with. It's one of those things I understand why she kept, but it falls to me to throw them out.

>35 hailelib: thanks. that's interesting, you'll have to say when I get to a favourite. Maybe after I've read it, nothing worse than going into a book with high expectations and feeling let down by it being simply "very good" rather than mind blowingly awesome.

37LadyoftheLodge
oct. 14, 2020, 1:36pm

>36 Helenliz: Some of the postcards in the box may be worth something, or an antique vendor might be interested.

38Tess_W
oct. 14, 2020, 7:04pm

What a great idea!

39VivienneR
oct. 16, 2020, 1:53am

As usual you have a really interesting theme! I'm so glad your mum kept the postcards. My dad had a mini and I loved it.

40majkia
oct. 16, 2020, 8:52am

I set out at one point to read more Heyer but got sidetracked. I should try again.

41christina_reads
oct. 16, 2020, 9:53am

Beautiful postcards! And I love Georgette Heyer, so I'm excited to see you're continuing with that category. You have some of my favorites coming up -- The Grand Sophy and Cotillion!

42Helenliz
oct. 16, 2020, 4:43pm

>37 LadyoftheLodge: I know, it's just the time and effort to try and find if they're worth something - I suspect the answer will be not ans sometimes the easy way out is the emotionally less fraught one.

>38 Tess_W: Thanks!

>39 VivienneR: Minis were fab little cars. I do NOT count the abberation that is the not-so-Mini BMW; that's not a Mini in any way, shape or form.

>40 majkia: I read all of DL Sayers works in series order over 18 months or so and there's something about the discipline of reading in order that I like. It helps that I've got an almost complete set on the shelf ready to go.

>41 christina_reads: Thank you. I will report back when I get to those ones. >:-)

43VivienneR
oct. 16, 2020, 7:30pm

>42 Helenliz: Haha! Still, I wouldn't say no to a gift of one of those not-so-mini! On second thoughts, with the amount of snow we get it would disappear in a couple of days and remain in hibernation all winter.

44LittleTaiko
oct. 16, 2020, 9:37pm

>32 Helenliz: Okay now you’re just bragging. Just kidding, I’m just completely envious of multiple Wimbledon attendance. Your approach sounds perfect. I’m so happy that someone I know got to enjoy it properly.

45Helenliz
oct. 17, 2020, 4:26am

>43 VivienneR: *snort* We have a Fiat 500, which I think is more true to the original Mini philosophy than the current BMWMini is. Engine at the front, wheels at each corner, can't drive it without smiling. >:-)

>44 LittleTaiko: It was amazing, and I'd really recomend anyone go if they can. Especially the first week, the outside courts have loads of really top quality tennis on, it's not all about the major courts.

46Jackie_K
oct. 17, 2020, 4:59am

>45 Helenliz: My one experience of Wimbledon was in 2001, the Monday of the second week I think. So like you said, there were excellent players on the outer courts (where you get a much better view). We had a ticket for the outer courts and the old Court 1 (remember that?). I remember seeing Gabriela Sabatini, Steffi Graf, and Goran Ivanisevic that year.

47Helenliz
oct. 18, 2020, 10:11am

>46 Jackie_K: Yes, I remember number 1 court. I am that old!

48pamelad
nov. 12, 2020, 4:54pm

>11 Helenliz: I can't resist a list. Good luck with these two. Is your bingo card all women again this year?

49Helenliz
nov. 13, 2020, 10:40am

>48 pamelad: Good to know there's another list addict. I'm not sure about the all woman card. I should just about finish this year's but it might be a bit tight. Might start and see how it goes before deciding to let the boys in or not. >;-)

50LadyoftheLodge
nov. 13, 2020, 12:02pm

>49 Helenliz: I have been working on my lists too, although I usually end up changing them at some point.

51thornton37814
des. 4, 2020, 1:02pm

Welcome back!

52Helenliz
Editat: des. 4, 2020, 4:45pm

>51 thornton37814: thank you!

>50 LadyoftheLodge: I tend to bite off more lists than I can chew, then get annoyed at lack of progress. Focus is what is required, I think.

53charl08
des. 7, 2020, 2:36am

Wow, I didn't realise you were all set up already over here. I've been thinking about a category challenge thread, but haven't got any further than that! (It seems a bit of a cheat on my part to use penguins!)

I love the painting postcards. There is a similar trompe l'oeil one in NGS in Edinburgh, I always try and look at it when I visit, and have a bit of a guess at what the things mean.

54clue
des. 7, 2020, 9:52pm

WOW, obviously you put a lot of thought and work in your thread and it's going to be great fun to follow!

55Helenliz
des. 8, 2020, 2:43am

>53 charl08: Yup, we get started early, getting this in place in January doesn't happen overnight. IMO nothing wrong with penguins. >;-)

>54 clue: It came all of a sudden, and just needed a bit of a tweak to last year's categories to reflect a shift in reading. Then the fun of shoe-horning categories to fit the theme. >:-)

56markon
des. 9, 2020, 7:44am

Wonderful cards! My faves are the Dorothy Hodgkin, the diptych, and Wimbledon (I've never seen a photo from above.) Kudos to your mom for preserving them.

57Helenliz
des. 9, 2020, 8:07am

>56 markon: Thanks. It was such a pleasant surprise to get them all again. >:-)

58MissBrangwen
des. 22, 2020, 7:22am

I really like these postcards! How wonderful that you got them back in a photo album.

And how I miss London! For seven years, I went there at least once a year and 2020 was the first year I couldn't go. Thank you for giving me a bit of that atmosphere while reading your thread.

59Helenliz
des. 22, 2020, 7:36am

>58 MissBrangwen: Thank you for visiting. And glad I could give you a taste of our capital when you couldn;t come for yourself.

60PaulCranswick
des. 26, 2020, 7:50pm

Nice to see you over here, Helen.

I will try my best to keep up in this and the 75ers next year.

61Crazymamie
des. 27, 2020, 5:18pm

Helen, I absolutely love your theme. How wonderful that your mom saved the postcards you sent her - so full of fabulous.

62threadnsong
des. 27, 2020, 8:23pm

Hello and what a wonderful thread! I am so amazed at your inventiveness and look forward to seeing your books fit the postcards in your thread.

63Helenliz
des. 28, 2020, 4:31am

>61 Crazymamie:, >62 threadnsong: Thank you both.
I'm getting itchy to start 2021 now.

64RidgewayGirl
des. 30, 2020, 2:05pm

Gorgeous pictures! The Ambassadors is fun to see in person and getting the angle for the skull just right.

65Helenliz
gen. 1, 3:52am

Happy New Year one and all.
I toasted the Old year out (good riddance and all that) at 9:30 with the posh brandy in the best glass. Then I went to bed.

>64 RidgewayGirl: thank you. Yes, it is. The last time I saw it, there was a mark on the florr to indicate the optimum spot. >:-)

66PaulCranswick
gen. 1, 10:46am



And keep up with my friends here as well, Helen. Have a great 2021.

67Helenliz
gen. 1, 2:31pm

>66 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. If 2021 does even half of that it'll be an improvement.

68lkernagh
gen. 1, 4:27pm

Happy New Year, Helen! I am looking forward to following your 2021 reading.

69Helenliz
gen. 2, 5:48am

Book: 1
Title: An Unsafe Haven
Author: Nada Awar Jarrar
Why: Shelterbox bookclub
Challenge: Woman author, new author, subscriptions, Bingo.
TIOLI challenge #9: Read a book someone else picked out for you

This is trying to do something very brave, describe the refuge experience without necessarily making it seem to be a place of abject despair. There is hope and ambition in every situation, sometimes that is a small ambition, sometimes it is a dream to be fought for. The people in this book are almost all out of place in some way, the only resident of Beruit is Hannah, and she has also been displaced in her past. There is love, of partners, family, place and home. And there is conflict of all forms, war to domestic conflict features largely.
I'm not certain it entirely succeeds as a work of ficiton, there is a series of events that feels a little too improbable, or is told too superficially to feel entirely likely. It is also a slightly odd group of people, there seems to be little that actually holds them together as friends - we don't really see every day behaviour, we see them all under some degree of stress - so the fact that they would do so much for each other seems slightly unconvicing.
It is told from a number of different perspectives, each chapter following a different individual, and these separate viewpoints combine and wrap around each other to give an impression of the indivudal's past and their present situation.
I also found the manner in which this is written to be difficult to navigate. There are no speech marls, all speech is indicated by a - at the beginning of the line, but the following paragraph can include internal tuought as well as external speech, meaning that it is not always easy to work out what has been said.
It is a brave attempt to show the feeling is displacement extends to more than just the obvious refuges. It challenges attitudes to the displaced populations as well. Most of us come from somewhere else, it;s just a question of when we were last displaced.

70spiralsheep
gen. 2, 7:23am

>69 Helenliz: Several times last year I was reading worthwhile content and I thought the style detracted from the content, but there were at least an equal number of books I loved for their more experimental styles because sometimes they enhance the reading experience. I find that whether an individual reader will appreciate a particular writing style is more hit-and-miss than choosing compatible content.

"Most of us come from somewhere else, it;s just a question of when we were last displaced."

This is a very interesting observation.

71Crazymamie
gen. 2, 8:39am

Excellent review, Helen - I added my thumb to it.

>70 spiralsheep: I thought the same thing about that quote.

72Helenliz
gen. 2, 9:09am

It's not an original thought, but it is one that bears thinking about from time to time.

Especially when isolationist policies start setting us up as being special or somehow exclusive, it's important to remember that most of us are descended from imigrants - it's just a question of how far back you have to go to find the point of migration.

73markon
gen. 4, 9:55am

>69 Helenliz: "Most of us come from somewhere else, it;s just a question of when we were last displaced."

And few of us grow up in one place and stay there as adults, so there are those migrations as well.

74Helenliz
gen. 5, 12:29pm

>73 markon: I suppose there are any number of reasons why we are not where we were born. Some are out of positive choice, some aren't.

The last few years I've taken part in the 64 Million artists' January challenge. https://www.facebook.com/64millionartists It's a series of creative challenges, one for every day in January. They are not all artictic, but they are all intended to get the creative juices going. Today's challne was to imagine you're suddenly the leader of the country, what would you say.
well.
I'm afraid that I got part of the song "If I ruled the world" stuck in my head, so I apologise to all music lovers and those who expect songs to scan, but here is my offering.

If I ruled the world
Every day wold be the first day of Spring
Every heart would have a new song to sing
Music comming into lives of us all
That is my call

If I ruled the world
Every man alive would feel himself free
And every woman suffer no misogeny
Equal choice and opportunity for all
That is my call

If I ruled the world
Every child would have clean water to drink
And some schooling to teach them to think
Solving problems that affect one and all
That is my call

If I ruled the world
There would be no more hardship or poverty
Everyone would have enought food to eat
Sharing efforts, sharing bread, share it all
That is my call

If I ruled the world
Everyone would be more nice and polite
There would be no anger, no need to fight,
Manners maketh man and cost nowt at all
That is my call.

And now we know why I don't rule the world! Here's Tony Bennett, doing it much better. https://youtu.be/52k3YdzNPJo

75Tess_W
gen. 6, 8:52am

>74 Helenliz: Although my mother listened often to Tony Bennett, I can say that I have never heard that song by him or anybody else. I can also say, what great sentiments!

76clue
gen. 6, 9:36am

>74 Helenliz: This was so nice to start the morning with. I'd be more than happy for you to rule the world.

77katiekrug
gen. 6, 11:07am

You've got my vote :)

78Helenliz
gen. 6, 1:05pm

Thank you all, but I'm pretty sure I do not want the job. I couldn't work work out a rhyme scheme for spelling and good grammar to be followed. >;-)

79Helenliz
gen. 9, 6:03am

Book: 2
Title: Queens of the Conquest
Author: Alison Weir
Rating: ***
Why: CAT fitting
Challenge: Woman author, CAT (x2), non-fiction, Bingo.
TIOLI challenge #5: Read a book for the January Mystery Challenge Challenge - First in series

This is a valiant attempt to do something different in history, but it slightly fails in the execution. She lays this out as the first in a series of books focussing on the women who were crowned after the Norman conquest. This book being the first, taking in the first 3 kings to take a Queen, William I, Henry I and Stephen. Slightly confusingly they all married women called Matilda. And the first 2 Matildas go really well. There's a certain amount of information to call on, charters, chronicles, court rolls and the like, all of which can tell you where the Queen was at certain points, when she was acting with her husband and when on his behalf elsewhere.
It gets more confused with Henry I's second wife. Her life does not neatly align with her husband's being in her teens when she married him, he being in his 50s. Her life overlaps that of the next Queen Matilda, wife to Stephen, and her story sort of peters out. The reign of Stephen is greatly complicated by the civil war that broke out between him and the daughter of Henry I, the Empress Maud. In this section, the author feels obliged to include both Maud and Matilda, and it becomes a lot less easy to feel them as individuals. The chapters don;t concentrate quite so highly on the ladies, more the moves that are made in and around them. The book becomes a lot more coherrent in the final passages, when Maud has outlived both Stephen and Matilda and is acting as advisor to Henry II.
It is interesting how much clearer the lives of the first two queens were, when there was only one protagonist to deal with, Matilda (3) remains, to me, more of a mystery and is overshadowed or shown in contrast to Maud, such that she becomes less real somehow.
So excellent idea, and well executed for the most part. She writes readable history, without it feeling to have tooo many current values superimposed. There are a couple of weighty appendices, with letters and descriptions of the main chroniclers of the period, which was of general interest. I also found it interesting to know that in this period the nobility were taught to read, but not write, and they signed their mark, not their names.

80MissWatson
gen. 9, 8:37am

>79 Helenliz: Such an annoying habit of the royal houses to use the same names over and over again. Does she explain why the Empress Maud is known as Maud in England? Because in Germany she is also a Mathilde.

81Helenliz
Editat: gen. 9, 12:32pm

>80 MissWatson: It does say that the names were used interchangably, with Maud being a Germanic variant. She used Maud for the Empress and Matilda for Stephen's queen. Maybe the fact that Maud lived in Germany for her first marriage means that's the convention that's been used.

82Helenliz
gen. 10, 11:47am

Book: 3
Title: It's not about the Burqa
Author: ed Miriam Khan
Rating: ***
Why: Audio
Challenge: Woman author, short story, non-fiction, Bingo.
TIOLI challenge #14: Read a book with a LT rating of 3.5 or more

This is a series of essays by muslim women and covers a range of topics and experiences. The colleciton was prompted by the idea that while many people claim to speak for Muslim women, it is rare that you hear from Muslim women. this collection aims to put their perspective. And it is a wide ranging one. There are a range of contributors here, of different origins and different degress of religious belief or practice. The essays cover how they are percieved; how mainstream feminism fails to be sufficinely inclusive of women who don't fit the feminists idea of a woman; the head scarf and wearing it versus not wearing, what it signals and what it means; how different cultural influences mean that black muslims suffer from racism within the muslim comunity itself and how the percieved mysogeny is more cultural than based on the Quran. For the most part it is eye openeing and illuminating. The essayists are confident and yet depict the barriers they and their fellows face. As a colleciton it shows how diverse the label "muslim woman" can be, there are a vast array of people here that all represent that label, and yet they are not one person or one experience.
Once or twice it felt rather aggressive and that acts entirely counter productively, but that was the exception in the collection.
I listened to this, as read by the essayists. If you want to peek under the veils and glimpse the women behind them, this would be a very good place to start.

83MissWatson
gen. 11, 5:26am

>81 Helenliz: I think I phrased this unfortunately, because Maud is not at all German. However, my Oxford dictionary of first names tells me that Matilda is the latinised version apperaring in the documents, whereas Maud is the vernacular version actually used (how do they know?), which is probably a corruption of the French variant Mahaut. I think Tennyson's poem has probably been most influential to establish her as Empress Maud in modern times. I'm fascinated by first names, that's why I asked.

84markon
gen. 11, 7:37am

>82 Helenliz: I like the idea of listening to the different voices, as well as the diverse perspectives.

85Crazymamie
gen. 11, 8:31am

>79 Helenliz: "Slightly confusingly they all married women called Matilda." Indeed. My two oldest sisters both married men called Steve. And the third one dated a Steve for a while, but luckily that didn't work out because enough with the Steves already.

>83 MissWatson: I did not know there was an Oxford dictionary of first names! Of course, now I want one.

86Helenliz
gen. 11, 9:09am

>85 Crazymamie: lucky escape on even more Steves! It think I'm sweetness and light. I'm not saying it's wrong, but I do have occasional moments of not living up to my name...

>83 MissWatson: You're probably not wrong. She's always Maud. Nothing wrong in asking, just sorry I didn't have a more convincing answer.

>84 markon: It was a good way to appreciate this. I think words spoken by their authoer often have more power than the same words in print. You always emphasis different words when speaking while leaves up to the reader.

87MissBrangwen
gen. 11, 11:04am

>82 Helenliz: This one has been on my list already and now I'm considering the audiobook. I'm not a huge fan of audiobooks, but I agree with >84 markon: and as you say here >86 Helenliz: I think it might enhance my understanding.

88LadyoftheLodge
gen. 11, 2:17pm

>85 Crazymamie: Laughing here about the Steves! My daddy was named Stephen and my husband is also Stephen, both spelled the same. My husband goes by Steve, as did my dad. They also have the same middle initial!

89Crazymamie
gen. 11, 2:56pm

>88 LadyoftheLodge: Too funny! Both of our Steves also have the same middle initial - L. One is Stephen, and one is Steven, but they both go by Steve.

90Helenliz
gen. 11, 4:23pm

>87 MissBrangwen: I listen to audiobooks fairly often - used to get throigh them while commuting - so I quite enjoyed the experience. And I do think there is something to be gained from the listeneing experience that may not be gained from the reading experience.

My brother is a Stephen, but there is only one of him (thank goodness).

91MissWatson
gen. 12, 3:58am

>85 Crazymamie: They've done several over the years, this is mine: https://www.librarything.com/work/11163716/book/97541341

My apologies to you for hijacking the thread, Helen.

92Tess_W
gen. 12, 7:18am

Our family is a family of "Kenneth"'s, or Kens. My father-in-law is Ken Sr, my husband Ken Jr, and my son Ken III. Within the family it's easily understood who is who, but to the outside world, it's "old" Ken, "big" Ken, and "baby Kenny" (who is 40 years of age!). I think "Ken" will stop at the 3rd generation because Kenny has no sons.

93Crazymamie
gen. 12, 8:38am

>91 MissWatson: Oh! Thanks for that!

Hello, Helen! Happy Tuesday! What tea are we drinking today?

94Helenliz
gen. 12, 9:21am

>91 MissWatson: No need to apologise! If you'd started talking about football i might be less happy, but books are always on topic.

>92 Tess_W: Bet "baby Kenny" loves that still! I was named Helen quite deliberately because it wasn't a family name.

>93 Crazymamie: Thank you. Tuesday is behaving itself so far. I had Rooibos & Honeybush this morning, on Gingerbread this afternoon - only 2 tea bags left from the Christmas order. >:-(

95katiekrug
gen. 12, 9:24am

Hi Helen! Nothing much to say, but I'm lurking...

96Helenliz
gen. 12, 9:26am

>95 katiekrug: Lurk away, Katie dear.

97Crazymamie
gen. 12, 9:28am

Do they do the same holiday teas each year - will the Gingerbread tea be back? I wish I had ordered more - ours is almost gone, too. I have been rationing it.

98Helenliz
gen. 12, 9:30am

>97 Crazymamie: I think some re-appear, yes. I'm sure I had Gingerbread last year. I don't remember the pear spice, though.

99clue
gen. 12, 11:22am

>85 Crazymamie: I have a friend whose father and brother are Paul Williams. Her second husband is Paul Williams and his father and grandfather are Paul Williams!

100Helenliz
gen. 12, 11:38am

>99 clue: so if in doubt ask for Paul? How terribly confusing!

101Crazymamie
gen. 14, 3:45pm

>99 clue: Whoa! That is just so strange. Reminds me of one of those twisty logic games where you would have to solve the mystery - answer is that she married her nephew.

102Helenliz
gen. 15, 7:39am

Book: 4
Title: Help Me!
Author: Marianne Power
Rating: ***
Why: Alphakit and off the shelf.
Challenge: Woman author, non-fiction, CAT, Bingo.
TIOLI challenge #7. Read a book with a word meaning new in the title or about someone starting or starting over

A journalist decides that she is fed up of her life and decides to try 12 different self help books over the course of a year, each one aiming to "fix" some of her perceived problems. It doesn't quite work out the way she'd planned or expected.

January starts well, with "Feel the fear" with her embracing a number of different challenges to take her out of her comfort zone. It's interesting that some of them address social fears and other deep seated evolutionary fears. She manages the life modelling, but decides that she is never going to enjoy skydiving, what with being scared of heights.
February's book addresses money and here's where the one month per book lets her down, I felt. She makes some good progress within the month, but one month isn't enough to fix ingrained habits and the distraction of moving on to the next book means that the good progress she'd made in financial matters is lost by the lack of focus.
Some of the self help she tried just sounds entirely nuts. Rejection therapy just sounds horrible, even if it does teach a lesson that you self reject than actually get rejected. And not all rejection is bad, when one door closes, another opens. But that still doesn't make me want to go out and get rejected at every opportunity. I can see the attraction of "F*ck it" idea, but I'm not sure that it seems sensible to do so in all aspects of life, not really.
She ends up in a really poor mental state, and at least does the sensible thing by engaging an expert to help. She also then proceeds to find, in this poor state, a book that actually does help her. This may be a case of the right book at the right time than because it is necessarily the best self help book.
She finishes the book having finished her project to try 12 self help books, having taken almost a year and a half, rather than the planned year. And it seems that she is more comfortable in her skin at the end than she was on the journey, so maybe it has helped. But I'm not sure that I'd be suggesting it as a good idea. the most positive experiences seem to be those where she has had support alongside the self help book itself. So the week long Hoffman retreat and and Therapist in conjunction with "The Power of Now" both seem to have had the most telling impacts. All of which could be read as an indictment of the self help industry, in that they could easily do more harm than good to some individuals. I think that this might have been a foolhardy task to have undertaken, and can only be glad that it seems to have turned out as well as it did, without further harm.

103katiekrug
gen. 15, 8:30am

>102 Helenliz: - I think I will pass on that one.

104Helenliz
gen. 15, 8:49am

>103 katiekrug:, I can't argue you out of that decision. It serves as a salutary lesson rather than a positively enjoyable reading experience.

105charl08
gen. 15, 1:04pm

>102 Helenliz: Good meat for a review, clearly. I liked the column about different self help things that the Guardian used to have. Oliver Burkeman. He seemed healthily sceptical.

106Helenliz
gen. 16, 4:47am

>105 charl08: It was an interesting read, and there was plenty of reservations about how these techniques can help. There was also enough warning about how difficult they can be to follow through or how people tend to fall of the wagon with them and end up in a worse place than they were before as they never actually address the underlying issues that cause the problems in the first place.

Some of it was really interesting. In the money chapter, for instance, she explores her first memory of money, and her current attitude to money, on the grounds that most of our patterns of behaviour are set in childhood experience to at least some extent. I did the same and yes, they tally perfectly.

But I'm not sure it made me want to go digging around in my subconcious, thankyouverymuch.

107MissBrangwen
Editat: gen. 16, 9:24am

I think this is an interesting book and I personally do read self help books, although only very carefully selected ones. What I dislike is the idea of reading one a month - I think you need time to really let the ideas of the books set in, to transform your subconscious beliefs, change your rituals, work on yourself. I typically choose a book and read it for several months, one chapter at a time, rereading things if I forget about them etc. The idea to race through them seems very counterproductive.

108LadyoftheLodge
gen. 17, 12:23pm

>107 MissBrangwen: I agree with your thoughts on self-help books. I have mainly turned to them when I needed insights on what was going on with me, such as when I was widowed. The books I read brought me comfort, and were recommended by the funeral home directors who assisted me. However, at the time I was also attending small group sessions with six other widows and these were lead by professional counselors. The books were a good addition to the sessions.

109Helenliz
gen. 18, 2:46am

>107 MissBrangwen:, I'm not going to disagree, as my review already says.

>108 LadyoftheLodge:, This, again, reflects the book, where the most successful periods were when she was having support or working with people to compliment the book. The idea that you can do everything on your own is probably counterproductive.

110Helenliz
gen. 20, 2:23pm

It's decision time again. Which of these do I want to vote for?

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
Rum's exquisitely brave and beautiful writing evokes the often unfathomable strength and resilience of women. It also addresses the generational repercussions of foreign occupation, trauma, and living as part of a diaspora.
The novel follows three generations of Palestinian women: Isra aged 17 whose arranged marriage takes her to New York, her eldest daughter Deya navigating a fractured teenage life, and Isra's mother-in-law Fareeda, trying to maintain their culture away from home. Their stories work to answer the question, what does it mean to be an Arab woman today?

The Girl from Aleppo by Nujeen Mustafa with Christina Lamb
Malala Yousafzai has said that Nujeen "inspires me to dream without limits". In this book we follow her as a 16-year-old Kurdish girl with cerebral palsy escaping the violence of Syria and travelling across Europe to a new home in Germany.
Unexpectedly for such a heavy story the book bounces along, buoyed by Nujeens youthful optimism and curious mind. There's a childlike innocence in the way Nujeen recounts her life which insulates us as the reader from some of the more traumatic elements.
This is a powerful and inspiring recounting of an incredible woman's life.

Galina Petrovna's Three-Legged Dog Story by Andrea Bennett
Andrea Bennett's debut novel takes us to early 90s Moscow where a group of septuagenarians go in search of Galina Petrovna's three-legged dog Boroda, who has been snatched by Mitya the Exterminator.
This is a fun (if gritty) romp across Russia that draws on Bennett's experience of living in the country following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
This charming tale reminds us that no matter your age, you can be the protagonist of your own adventure, and the hero of your own story.

111Tess_W
gen. 20, 2:47pm

>110 Helenliz: Wow, that's a difficult decision. I want to read them all! (wrote down the titles) The one might want to read first, though, is the Bennett book.

112Helenliz
gen. 20, 3:47pm

>111 Tess_W: I know. Sometimes there's one that stands out as the clear favourite (to me). This time I'm struggling to pick a winner. I think the Bennett, because I think it sounds the most fun.

113katiekrug
gen. 20, 3:48pm

I vote for A Woman is No Man. It's gotten raves here, and I have a copy on my Kindle.

114Helenliz
gen. 20, 3:58pm

>113 katiekrug: Noted, thank you.

115charl08
gen. 20, 5:28pm

I'm no help, they all sound great to me.

116Helenliz
gen. 21, 2:24am

>115 charl08: That was my first reaction, nothing to choose between then.
Even LT is no help,ratings of 4.1, 4 and 4.2 respectively.

117markon
Editat: gen. 21, 10:29am

My first pick would be A woman is no man, but they all sound good.

118LittleTaiko
gen. 21, 10:56am

Initially I was going to vote for A Woman is no Man since a friend of mine absolutely loved that book. However, based on the descriptions my personal choice would be Galina Petrovna's Three-Legged Dog Story as that sounds like fun. So obviously I'm no help. At least it sounds like you're going to get a great book no matter what.

119Helenliz
gen. 21, 3:24pm

>118 LittleTaiko: That's OK, I'm no help either. >;-)

120DeltaQueen50
gen. 21, 4:22pm

My vote would also go to to Galina Petrovna's Three-Legged Dog Story simply because it sounds both very different and a little more light-hearted than the others, and I am all about light-hearted at the moment. I am going to add all three of these titles to my wishlist - so whichever one is chosen I think you will have a winner!

121Helenliz
gen. 22, 4:58am

>120 DeltaQueen50: That was the way I voted, it was the slightly lighter tone that appealed. Happy to help add to the wish list. >:-)

122Helenliz
Editat: gen. 23, 11:46am

Book: 5
Title: To Say Nothing of the Dog
Author: Connie Willis
Rating: ****
Why: Off the shelf.
Challenge: Woman author, new author, CAT, Bingo.
TIOLI challenge #13: Read a book that fulfills a New Year's reading resolution

The blurb on this make you expect something hilarious and this wasn't that. but it had a certain charm, and was most certainly amusing in a Victorian drawing room farce kind of way.
I admit that I am very fussy when it comes to playing with the laws of physics, so a book using time travel is probably not going to be right in my wheelhouse. but this manages to pull it off very neatly. I can suspend disbelief and allow the author to break one rule of physics, or introduce one inexplicable thing, but only so long as the remainder of the book all makes scientific logical sense. And while this does allow timetravel, it alos has rules about how it is used, that you can only go backwards, that you can;t take anything that didn;t exist at the time and that you can't intentionally change the nature of history. So you can't go back in time with the intent to assissinate Hitler (no matter how much you might like to). I like a world that runs to certain rules, so this all made the acceptance of timetravel seem far more normal.
The openeing surmise has the story set in 2057, where Lady Schrapnell is buolding a copy of Coventry Cathedral, as it stood just before it was burnt down in the Blitz. She's building this in Oxford, of course. And as part of her researches she has sent historians all over the early 20th century to check various items, their location and to get details of what they looked like. The last item is the oddly named Bishop's Bird Stump, a ghastly piece of Victoriana that was seen by Lady Schrapnell's ancestor, when it changed her life. After quite some time rooting around in Coventry before and on the night of the Blitz, Ned gets severe time lag and gets sent to the Victorian era for a rest and to escape Lady Schrapnell. Only he also has a task to complete that he's not entirely paid attention to... And so the Victorian comedty of manners begins.
The other thing to love about this is the sheer number of loterary references it manages to pack in. Lord Peter Wimsey & Hercule Poriot get name checked, as does Three men in a boat. You've got to love a Historian who can pinpoint his date by which Christie novel has just been published. >:-)
It was noticable that in this book published in 1998 that there was a pandemic in the early 21st century, the author was just a few years out...
I can think of far worse ways to spend time that hurtling around a Victorian summer, trying to save the world by making sure that certain people end up in the right place at the right time to not change the course of history. It might not have been laugh out loud funny, but it certainly made me smile multiple times. And that's no bad thing

123Crazymamie
gen. 23, 9:52am

Hello, Helen! I had wondered about To Say Nothing of the Dog. It is already on my list because we had a whole time travel discussion thing going on my thread several years ago, and this was one of the titles mentioned. I even read Three Men in a Boat first in order to be ready for it, but then never got around to it. Your review makes me want to get to it. If you posted it, I will add my thumb.

124Helenliz
gen. 23, 11:48am

>123 Crazymamie: I was wondering where I got the reccommendation from, somewhere on LT, that is for sure. Maybe it was your thread.
Posted on my copy of the book page. I'm sure I missed any numebr of other book references, it's really quite clever like that. The intersection with Three Men in a Boat is quite brilliantly done.

125CDVicarage
gen. 23, 1:40pm

I looked for you in the 75 group but found you here. I am full of admiration for all of you in this group - how can you be so organised? I have, in the past, followed very loose reading plans: for several years the Virago group chose an author or a theme for one book a month throughout the year and I didn't even mange that! and I tried to work my way through Dickens in his bi-centenary year. My only current plan is to read the oldest books on my (virtual) TBR pile, alternating between newer stuff and anything else that takes my fancy as I finish a book.

126Helenliz
gen. 23, 1:59pm

>125 CDVicarage: hello! Oh I'm not a reading planner. The categories tend to recieve books I read, rather than driving my reading, if that makes sense. I do have some targets and aims, but I've been known to miss those quite badly at times!
The 75 group is terribly busy, I joined one year but got completely overwhelmed. These days I go to visit, but I prefer the slightly smaller group here. >:-)

127Crazymamie
gen. 23, 2:40pm

"I do have some targets and aims, but I've been known to miss those quite badly at times! " This is the story of my life. Just kidding, but it gave me a giggle.

128hailelib
gen. 23, 4:47pm

After reading To Say Nothing of the Dog I then read Three Men in a Boat and very much enjoyed both.

129CDVicarage
gen. 23, 5:27pm

>126 Helenliz: Yes, January is very hectic in the 75 Group but I think I've got the threads starred that I want to follow now so things are calming down. Your description does make sense and makes me think I could choose some categories... Perhaps next year.

130pamelad
gen. 23, 6:12pm

>122 Helenliz: After reading this, despite not being a science fiction fan, I read another book by Connie Willis, Bellwether, which I liked even more, perhaps because Three Men in a Boat is perfect the way it is.

131Helenliz
gen. 24, 4:00am

>128 hailelib: I've read them in the other order, they compliment each other nicely, I thought.

>129 CDVicarage: always happy to add a convert to the cause. I've starred a couple of people's threads as well.

>130 pamelad: I'm rather fussy about sci fi, I think it can be done very badly and that just gets right up my nose. But this was well done and I've already looked up what else the library have of hers. Not a lot, but a couple.

132Helenliz
Editat: gen. 25, 3:39am

Book: 6
Title: The Reluctant Widow
Author: Georgette Heyer
Rating: ****
Why: Off the shelf.
Challenge: Woman author, Heyer read, Bingo
TIOLI challenge #12: Read a book by an author you're read before.

This may well end up being spoiler-tastic, so look away now. Although, this being a Heyer Regency Romance, you pretty much know what's going to happen by the end of chapter 2, you just don't know how you're going to get there.
Elinor answers an advertisement for a governess and is pleasantly surprised to be met at the stagecoach by a carriage. The groom asks if she's the lady that answers the advertisement and she concurs. Only they're talking about different advertisements. And so Elinor finds herself in the company of Ned Carlyon, who would like to marry her to his disreputable cousin Edmund. So begins a rollercoaster ride. Edmund is exactly as unpleasant as he is described, only fortunately for Elinor he turns out to be on the verge of death, so she becomes a wife and the widow in short order, and now owns his property.
From here things, if anything, become less odd with a mystery intruder and a missing memorandum about Wellington's plans for the Peninsular war all thrown into the mix.
The Carlyon family are a fabulous bunch, all real characters who all look up the Ned, the eldest. He's got into the habit of being in charge, so when he and Elinor quarrel, repeatedly, you know exactly what's going to happen at the end. And so it comes about. Delightful.

133Helenliz
gen. 25, 3:47am

BTW - we had snow.
Squeeee!
This was taken on this morning's trip into town for bread & milk.

And one day I will work out how to rotate a picture taken on my phone such that it appears the right way up...

134CDVicarage
gen. 25, 4:22am

>132 Helenliz: The Reluctant Widow is one of my favourite Heyers. I have audio as well as print versions of nearly all the Regency books and this is one I listen to again and again.

135charl08
gen. 25, 5:37am

>133 Helenliz: Lovely tree (and snow). Still none here. Grump grump.

136Crazymamie
gen. 25, 9:40am

>133 Helenliz: So pretty! Thanks for sharing, Helen.

137katiekrug
gen. 25, 11:46am

>133 Helenliz: - Lovely!

I think I have The Reluctant Widow on my Kindle. I bought a bunch of Heyers during a sale, but they have languished...

138Helenliz
gen. 25, 12:40pm

>134 CDVicarage: I can understand why, it was great fun.
>137 katiekrug: In that case, I think you should get to it, Miss Katie...

>136 Crazymamie:, >135 charl08: thank you.

139leslie.98
gen. 26, 12:10am

>132 Helenliz: I posted this elsewhere but will put it here too. I, like >134 CDVicarage:, have read The Reluctant Widow again & again and always love it! I wish I too had it in audio though my print & Kindle editions are really quite sufficient. I especially love Nicky & Bouncer - that scene when Bouncer is 'guarding' Elinor is priceless! My favorite Heyer tends to change with mood and age but this one is always consistently near the top if not the top.

I gather from >8 Helenliz: that you are reading the books in publication order - something I have never tried. Maybe that is a project I could take up next year :)

140Helenliz
gen. 26, 2:28am

>139 leslie.98: Good to hear from another Heyer fan. That scene amused me a lot more than it amused Elinor!

I read my first Heyer a number of years ago now, and was just picking what the library had. When we cleared Mum's house, she had an almost complete set of the romances, plus some of the detective fiction, so I acquired them all. And rather than read them in a scattergun pattern, I decided to shelve them in publicaiton order and read my way along the shelf. That way I'd not miss one. It's just an organisational thing.

I hesitate to say this, as some people may find it upsetting. Mum had them shelved alphabetically... >:-o

141MissWatson
gen. 26, 3:18am

>140 Helenliz: Well, there are a lot of them, and if it helps finding them more quickly, why not? Come to think of it, that scene between Elinor and Bouncer is a LOL scene every time, so a perfect book for this month's RandomCAT...

142spiralsheep
gen. 26, 4:52am

>140 Helenliz: I don't recall any recurring characters so alphabetical is as good as date or, and I wouldn't usually say this, cover colour afaik.

143dudes22
gen. 26, 7:27am

>140 Helenliz: - I tend to want them in groups by the series they're in and then the stand-alones in publication order.

144leslie.98
gen. 26, 4:02pm

All this talk makes me embarrassed to admit that my Heyer books are shelved together in no particular order at all!

145Helenliz
gen. 26, 4:46pm

>141 MissWatson:, >142 spiralsheep:, >143 dudes22:, >144 leslie.98:. I think it depends how far it sets off your cataloging OCD. And there are different degrees to which that occurs.
Me? I do like books in series order, but I get really really annoyed by publishers that change book size midway through a series. That has, at times, stopped me continuing with the series at all. I have my books on shelves in genre, then grouped by author in series order, but can't abide a shelf that changes size up and down, so sometimes the series are arranged by how they best fit visually on the shelf.

146MissWatson
gen. 27, 9:44am

>145 Helenliz: Yes, those different sizes are very annoying!

147Crazymamie
gen. 27, 9:51am

>145 Helenliz: Me, too, with this. I had been collecting the George Smiley books, and then they came out with completely new covers in a different size and it was crazy making. I ended up giving away the first ones, and starting over with the new covers. Craig said, Could you please just get the new ones? And could you get them all at once? And so I did. Isn't that sweet that he was bothered by the covers, too? I mean, I know it couldn't have been because I was going on and on about it.

148Tess_W
Editat: gen. 27, 10:27am

Let me shock you---I put books on a bookshelf in no order, just wherever it fits!

149LadyoftheLodge
Editat: gen. 27, 5:00pm

>148 Tess_W: I am not shocked. Most of mine are grouped by series or author, and in sections as in a library. But within sections, not in alpha order or anything. I have a pretty good memory of where they are though. I do have collections created on my Kindle, since I have way too many Kindle books.

150hailelib
gen. 27, 7:42pm

The Reluctant Widow is one of my favorites as well. However, they are shelved in no particular order on the shelf except the mysteries are in another room with mysteries. I also have a few on my Kindle app as some have become too fragile to read easily.

151Helenliz
gen. 28, 3:58pm

>150 hailelib: Mysteries with the mysteries is what I do as well.

Thought the letter fans (oh yes, that'd be all of us) might appreciate this. It's a baby blanket for a colleague. Each letter is a concept, and some of them get a bit tenuous, but hey ho.



A - Alphabet
B - Blue Blocks
C - Charcoal Chequers
D - Diamonds
E - Earth Tones
F - Flowers (in a style of mille fleur)
G - Green
H - Horizontal Lines
I - Inclined lines
J - Jigsaw pieces
K - celtic Knot
L - Links & Loops
M - Maze (although technically it's a labyrinth)
N - Numbers
O - Octagons
P - Pinks & Purples
Q - Quadrangles (they are all squares)
R - Red
S - Spirals
T - Triangles
U - Undulating lines
V - Vertical lines
W - Woven
X - eXpanding
Y - Yellow (and orange)
Z - ZigZags.

We're using each of them individual letters (can be found in my member gallery) for the AlphaKit letters for the year. Enjoy!

152spiralsheep
gen. 28, 4:15pm

>151 Helenliz: Lovely overall effect! I especially like the designs of J and M, and the variegated threads in K and L.

153Helenliz
gen. 28, 4:26pm

>152 spiralsheep:. Thank you. I have a fondness for K & L, but they're not my 2 favourites.

I love the effect from variegated thread, it's just so easy to get all sorts of effects that would be really hard work any other way. Although L actually is lots of colour changes.

154katiekrug
gen. 28, 4:32pm

>151 Helenliz: - Oh, that's lovely, Helen! I love the colorful O and the very clean and simple H. But they are all wonderful.

155LadyoftheLodge
gen. 28, 8:20pm

The T and W are my faves! Beautiful.

156Helenliz
gen. 29, 2:21am

>154 katiekrug: thank you.
>155 LadyoftheLodge: Thank you. W is one of my top favourites as well.

157Tess_W
gen. 29, 4:53am

Very nice! I especially like T!

158charl08
gen. 29, 4:57am

>151 Helenliz: Ooh, that's lovely. Do you take orders?(!)

159Helenliz
gen. 29, 5:17am

>157 Tess_W: Thank you.
>158 charl08: Not usually, and for sure not now! I've done 3 in quick succession, 2 numbers, 1 letters. I need my friends to stop dropping sprogs so I can do something else for a change! My next piece will be some cartoon unicorns for a charity that produces quilts for sick children. http://www.lovequiltsuk.com/

160MissWatson
gen. 29, 6:47am

>151 Helenliz: It is gorgeous!

161charl08
gen. 29, 7:28am

>159 Helenliz: Ha! I'm sure they must appreciate the thought.
I just follow a pattern for cross stitch but the kid I last bought a sampler template for is now 9 and I haven't done more than take it out of the packet. And put it back again. Not v good.

162Crazymamie
gen. 29, 8:24am

>151 Helenliz: Well, that is full of gorgeous!!

163rabbitprincess
gen. 29, 9:18am

>159 Helenliz: I thought the pandemic would be great for my knitting, so that I could keep a stash of baby gifts in reserve. My knitting mojo lasted maybe two weeks in March, and that was it!

164RidgewayGirl
gen. 29, 9:34am

>151 Helenliz: That is gorgeous. When my daughter was born, my aunt sent me two baby quilts she'd made (the simpler one she insisted was for outdoor use) and they were among the most appreciated of the things we received. It's just so personal and thoughtful and unique.

165LadyoftheLodge
gen. 29, 11:46am

>163 rabbitprincess: I had the same thought about finishing a rug hooking project. That also lasted a few weeks, and it is still sitting in the tote bag, waiting for me to get to it again.

166Helenliz
gen. 30, 10:27am

>163 rabbitprincess: I went the opposite way. Initially in lockdown I was trying to juggle so many balls (work, exercise, society communication, etc etc) that I barely picked up any cross stitch for the first 4 months. Took me to about summer last year to get back into the swing of it. Since then it's been a bit patchy, but more consistent.

>165 LadyoftheLodge: it'll be there when you get round to it. And projects never accuse you of ignoring them. >;-)

>164 RidgewayGirl:, >162 Crazymamie:, >160 MissWatson: well shucks, thank you.

>161 charl08: I was something like 4 years late with one. I'd hesitate to say I'd do it, as I'm a bit picky when it comes to certain patterns. Some look lovely and for various reasons I just don't get on with them, then they languish in the cupboard for decades... I'm a bit fussy that way.

167clue
gen. 30, 11:47am

>166 Helenliz: I'm the same way about patterns. I'm not sure myself why I like one above another.

168charl08
gen. 31, 12:17pm

>166 Helenliz: I still have hopes I might get it done at some point. Although not for the same kid, obviously. Good luck with your charity one.

169markon
gen. 31, 2:25pm

Thanks for showing us the entire quilt. It is lovely.

170Helenliz
gen. 31, 3:23pm

>167 clue: Glad it's not just me being irraitonal! There are things I know I don't like (coloured patterns annoy me greatly) but even then sometimes I just take a dislike to it.

>168 charl08: >:-) I mean, first child will never know they've been passed over.

>169 markon: Thanks!

171threadnsong
gen. 31, 8:11pm

>151 Helenliz: Fantastic baby quilt! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. I have to know - which quilt fabric did you use, and which variegated thread?

I'm picking back up my cross stitching on weekends, and my knitting has languished. I have the pieces to a summer-ish sweater ready to put together, and a sock that I'm knitting the foot, but I get one or three rows into it and . . . back into its little bag it goes.

Can't wait to see your other works of fabric art (hint hint!).

172Helenliz
Editat: feb. 2, 7:52am

>171 threadnsong: It's not quilted, it's a cross stitch fabric that comes with the squares and dividing lines already woven in. In the UK sewing shops they're sold as afghans. I use Anchor variegated thread, although I know DMC also offer a range. I love the effect, which would be so much harder to achieve in single colour cottons.

Never really got on with knitting. I learnt to knit, but never quite grasped casting on or casting off.

In other news I've spent the day being trained on how to be a lead auditor. First of 4 days training, all taking place online, to be followed by an exam. It's been a long time since I had to pass an exam...

173Helenliz
feb. 3, 11:20am

Book: 7
Title: Square Haunting
Author: Francesca Wade
Rating: ****
Why: MrB's subscription
Challenge: Woman author, New Author, Non-fiction
TIOLI challenge #15. Read a book with a colour of Mardi Gras in the title or on the cover Purple, Green, Gold, Justice, Faith, Power

This is an inventive approach to biography. All of the 5 women in this book lived in the same Square in Bloomsbury between the First world war and the second. They lived their for different times, some less than a year, others for much longer. They didn't always overlap in terms of residency and they didn't necessarily socialise together if they did. But the links that tie them together are many and varied. Some lived there at the start of their writing career, others nearer the end. They each tried to present, in their own way, a different type of life for women, one where independence and a marriage of two minds was possible and desirable. Of the 5 women, I have heard of only 2, which is poor on my part. But I do know the area. I worked, for a time, at Brunswick Square, which is the matching square on the other side of the Foundling Hospital from Mecklenburg Square. I liked the idea that these 5 women shared something that was more than just geography, and she makes this case throughout the book. The biographies start quite separate, but gradually then overlap, as the links between the various women through their extended social circle and through their writings becomes clearer. The final chapter on the post war history of the square was interesting as well.
As a means of writing about 5 different women, the use of the location was certainly interesting. I quite enjoyed this and mean to read some of the other women that I am less familiar with.

174katiekrug
feb. 3, 12:07pm

>173 Helenliz: - This the 3rd review I've seen of this book that makes me want to read it!

175Helenliz
feb. 3, 1:07pm

>174 katiekrug: well you'd better add it to the list then. It was good and very interesting. I'm a little ashamed to have only heard of 2 out of the 5.

176charl08
feb. 3, 2:50pm

I hadn't heard of them either. I rather liked that though: sense of discovery!

Your auditing training sounds, er, like a responsible thing. My big achievement of late was to find the reset switch on the tumble dryer after it overheated. Fortunately no exams required.

177Helenliz
feb. 3, 3:39pm

>176 charl08: Feeling less stupid now.
Audit training day 3 done, one more (and an exam) to go. It's all about making sure that a company does what it says it does. Sounds really easy when you put it that way, doesn't it?

178MissBrangwen
feb. 3, 4:24pm

>173 Helenliz: That sounds like a book I would like, on my wishlist now!

179Helenliz
feb. 3, 4:33pm

>178 MissBrangwen: it was good, I hope you enjoy it.

180Jackie_K
feb. 4, 9:29am

>173 Helenliz: That does sound interesting. I love that part of London - when I was a student nurse I had a placement at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery in Queen's Square, which isn't too far away.

181Helenliz
Editat: feb. 4, 12:16pm

>180 Jackie_K: I used to walk through Queen's Square on my way to & from work. I did a Post Doc at the School of Pharmacy and used to walk from Holborn tube rather than change and get off at Russell Square.

182Helenliz
feb. 6, 4:00am

Book: 8
Title: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Author: Judith Kerr
Rating: ***
Why: fits a CAT...
Challenge: Woman author, New Author, CAT
TIOLI challenge #15. Read a book with a colour of Mardi Gras in the title or on the cover Purple, Green, Gold, Justice, Faith, Power

This ia a work aimed at older children (pre-teens) and tells of Judith Kerr's family's decision to leave Germany as Hitler came to power. They were Jewish, although non-practising and her father had written againts the Nazis. Judith was 9 at the time. This is told as a novel, describing what happens to Anna (another of Judith's given names) and her brother Max as they leave to Switzerland then Paris and then arrive in London. She deals with school, the reduced circumstances, being uprooted and having to learn a new language and culture. There are some incidents where they are shunned for being Jewish, but for the most part that doesn;t feature very heavily. While it is quite a cheery book, it does touch on what is happening back in Germany, particularly Julius.
Anna is written as a child, with a child's concerns. As Judith reflects at the end of the book, her parents must have had very different worries, but they took pains to try and hide those concerns from the children. The book makes a valliant attempt to describe what it was to be a refuge to a younger audience.

183threadnsong
feb. 13, 8:32pm

>172 Helenliz: Oh yes, I know what you mean as far as the afghan fabric goes, where the squares are separated by the different threads. Probably meant to type afghan but quilt came out instead.

I know the Anchor threads as a line, though I've only worked with DMC threads. It looks like Anchor has a very good line of variegated colors (sp?!) in their basket.

184VivienneR
feb. 13, 9:08pm

You have had some interesting books and conversations since I last visited! I'm hoping to catch up enough that I'll be able to visit threads more often.

>133 Helenliz: What a beautiful walk for bread and milk.

>151 Helenliz: The baby blanket is gorgeous! Lucky baby.

185spiralsheep
feb. 14, 5:53am

>183 threadnsong: I prefer the Anchor selection of variegated colours.

186Helenliz
feb. 14, 12:44pm

I've always sewn in Anchor, it was the brand my mother had and it seems silly to switch brands. I like the threads that are multi coloured, not just a lightening & darkening of the same hue. The Neon pink, bright orange, sunshine yellow combo being a particular favourite (with sun glasses on).

>184 VivienneR: Thank you for popping by. I know what you mean about keeping up. I try and read round the threads at least once a week, otherwise if feels like there are thousands and you just can't keep up with them all!

187thornton37814
feb. 16, 12:07pm

I'm addicted to specialty fibers such as Gentle Arts Sampler Threads, Weeks Dye Works, and Classic Colorworks (formerly known as Crescent Colours) when it comes to the variegation element.

188Helenliz
feb. 18, 2:36am

Book: 9
Title: Mordew
Author: Alex Pheby
Rating: **
Why: Subscription book
Challenge: New Author
TIOLI challenge #8. Read a book with an increasing number of words in the title

This is a giant sprawling book that has no clear purpose or story. It is trying to be an epic and ends up as a damp squib. Nathan has some magical power that allows him to create life to things that want to be alive. Only at various points in the book this same magical power also allows him to kill great swathes of people just because he feels like it. Which breaks all my rules - you can introduce magic, but you can't then have it magically able to do something else again just because that makes it convenient. The world that has been invented is basically a city state, that has layers of society, the slum dwellers are the lowest of the low and live covered in mud and filth below the merchant city and the thing is dominated by The Manse, where The Master lives. Nathan comes from the slums, and gets in with a gang that steal from the merchants and well to do in order to please the gang master. But when in the book Nathan is taken into the Master's house, because of aforesaid ability, he simply leaves his friends behind without a second glance. Nathan also seems curiously incurious to the fate of the boys that are regularly taken into the Manse to work for the Master - and never seem to return. He is very shallow and has no depth of personality beyond his odd ability. Some of the supporting characters were more interesting, the talking dog being by far the most intelligent being in here, but the author falls into the trap of making every woman into a whore. It is all very two dimensional and fails to hang together coherrently. Nathan has nothing about him to make him an interesting person beyond his power and that seems to flex to fit the needs of the rambling story, so feels like a writing convenience rather than a genuinely interesting fact to hang our interest on.
I also found the list of events that will be found in the book (which runs to 3 pages) to be ridiculous and arch. There is also a glossary of over 100 pages at the end. At the beginning it tells you not to read it, but by the time I got the end of the book I simply didn't care enough to read any of it.
I finished it because this came as a book subscription book and I feel I owe it to them to finish it. But if this is the first in the series, the others will remain firmly unread.

189Helenliz
feb. 18, 2:59am

I'm wondering what to make of the fact that this is easily the book I've enjoyed least this year - and the first written by a man. I wonder if there's some sweeping generalisation that could be made from that limited data set... >;-)

190spiralsheep
feb. 18, 5:18am

191katiekrug
feb. 18, 8:41am

192Tess_W
feb. 18, 9:53am

>188 Helenliz: LOL to a damp squib (I had to look up squib!)

193Helenliz
feb. 18, 12:42pm

>190 spiralsheep:, >191 katiekrug: I see who's on my wavelength there.

>192 Tess_W: It's a good phrase. Nothing quite so disappointing as a soggy firework.

194spiralsheep
feb. 18, 1:06pm

>193 Helenliz: "Nothing quite so disappointing as a soggy firework."

Almost as bad as being hoist with one's own petard.

195charl08
feb. 18, 4:37pm

>188 Helenliz: I guess the subscription service can't get it right all the time?!

196Helenliz
feb. 19, 4:16am

>195 charl08: No. This is the first absolute clunker and I've been doing it almost 2 years now, so that's a pretty good hit rate.

But they will be getting feedback that this was not up my street. But then part of the idea is to get books that I might not have picked up, so that way there are always going to be some that don't fit.

197Helenliz
feb. 20, 9:18am

Book: 10
Title: The House of Splendid Isolation
Author: Edna O'Brien
Rating: ***
Why: The title fitted
Challenge: Woman author
TIOLI challenge #12. Read a book with an unsettling place name in the title

This is a story that starts as quite disjointed, but pulls together as the book progresses. Set in Ireland in the troubles, is starts with an escaped prisioner who fights for the cause of a united Ireland and the elderly woman whose house he takes refuge in. There is his effect on the local population set against her life story. It moves backwards and forwards between her time spent in America, her marriage (not happy) and her present against the police activity chasing the escapee down and their current situation. It's not a simple story to keep straight, the different perspectives and timeframes make it sometimes hard to place who is being described. But it is worth sticking with.

198Helenliz
Editat: feb. 20, 1:32pm

Currently listening to Alexa, what is there to know about love?
From "Five Clerihews for doomed lovers" comes this:
Abelard and Heloise
Caused a scandal in the diocese
Later she devoted herself to religious festivals
He made do without his testicles.

Which manages to be touching and hilarious all at the same time.

199spiralsheep
feb. 20, 1:01pm

>198 Helenliz: Brian Bilston did a poetry reading at my local church but I couldn't go!

Do you know this limerick, which only works if you know English geography:

There was a young curate of Salisbury
whose manners were Halisbury-Scalisbury.
He wandered round Hampshire
without any pampshire
'til the Vicar compelled him to Walisbury.

200Helenliz
Editat: feb. 20, 1:50pm

>199 spiralsheep:. It was a great listen. I'm certainly going to be seeing if there are any more by him on Borrowbox.

Book: 11
Title: Alexa, what is there to know about Love?
Author: Brian Bilston
Rating: ****1/2
Why: Audio, it's nice being read to.
Challenge: New author, short stories
TIOLI challenge #13. Read a book by an author who has a rating of at least 3.5 on the author’s page

I listened to this, read by the author, and it was, quite simply, a delight. Divided into 4 sections, the first is about love and romance, but all in a very down to earth style. No roses and pink fluffy clouds in here. Then there are sections that are more political, about words and the proces of writing poetry at all and finally about relationships and people.

I loved the humour in it, the lack of rose tinted glasses, the way that he takes time to poke fun at himself and the expectations of poetry. There are many times when you anticipate the next word or rhyme and he subverts that by sending you somewhere else. The poem about procrastinaiton was simply superb and right on point.

This was a most delightful way to spend an hour or so.

I can confirm from my small sample, that some male authors seem to be able to write well. >;-)

201threadnsong
feb. 21, 7:35pm

>198 Helenliz: - What a brilliant, er, funny, um, honest? poem about love.

Do you just ask Alexa the question, and then she pulls up a rhyme or book suggestion? Curiously asking.

202Helenliz
feb. 22, 4:41am

>201 threadnsong: Not quite. He asks Alexa questions about love and philosophy. Only in her reply she mishears or misinterprets the question.

Alexa, What Is There to Know about Love?

Alexa, what is there to know about love?
What is there to know about love?
A glove is a garment that covers the hand
for protection from the cold or dirt and –


Alexa, how does a human heart work?
How does a human heart work?
Blood is first received in the right atrium via
two veins, the vena cava superior and inferior –


Alexa, where do we go to when we die?
Where do we go to when we die?
Activating Google Maps. Completed activation.
Would you like to start from your current location?


Alexa, what does it mean to be alone?
What does it mean to be alone?
It is the silence left by words unsaid,
the cold expanse of half a bed.
It is the endless stretching of the hours,
the needless tending of plastic flowers.
It is an echo unanswered in a cave,
the fateful ping of the microwave.
It is the fraying of a worn shirt cuff,
and the howl –
Stop, Alexa. That’s enough.

203NinieB
feb. 22, 7:29am

>202 Helenliz: That's awesome.

204Helenliz
Editat: feb. 22, 12:50pm

Book: 12
Title: We, the Survivors
Author: Tash Aw
Rating: ****1/2
Why: Shelterbox discussion this week
Challenge: New author, Subscription
TIOLI challenge #9. Read a book that has a word from the title in the second sentence of the second paragraph in the second chapter

This is laid out as a man telling his story to a woman researcher some years after the events told. The chapters of his story are interspersed with short pieces of the two of them in the present. It works as a device, in that it brings you back to the current and constrasts with the past. The narrator was imprisioned for murder and this is his life story to that point. He tells of life growing up as a chinese origin living in Malaysia. They are barely scratching a living and the impact of factory on the village's fishing has a significant role to play in his life. In fact the role of the world beyond the village is surprisingly evident. He talks of imigrants comming from elsewhere to work, and contrasts their position with that of his village, where they are squeezed between the low paying jobs and those using the illegal imigrants as cheap labour.
It is all told with a complete lack of self pity, all very mattter of fact. He tries to tease out the roots of the events and where there were turning points. At one point he does say that seeing options and being able to take them are two different things.
It's quite a bare life, in one sense, but at the same time, the teller never sounds as if he regrets his life. There is a sense of inevitability in the events, as told, that seems to be fated. And yet there are points at which the ending could have changed, but is that the benefit of hindsight or was there ever a point when things could change.
Thought provoking without being lecturing, it certainly makes you think about the impact of global events in small places. It's not clear who are the survivors of the title.

205Helenliz
feb. 22, 9:20am

>203 NinieB:. I know, isn't it? And that's not an atypical example of the quality in here. It was a generally excellent way to spend an hour.

206clue
Editat: feb. 22, 12:42pm

>204 Helenliz: Uh-oh, looks like you carried the last author's name forward on this one. I've put this one on my list.

207Helenliz
feb. 22, 12:51pm

>206 clue:. So I did. Thank you.
It was good in a thought provoking kind of way. I suspect it's a book that grows on you rather than being one you fall in love with immediately.

208ELiz_M
feb. 22, 5:45pm

"Alexa, where do we go to when we die?
Where do we go to when we die?
Activating Google Maps. Completed activation.
Would you like to start from your current location?"


This made me laugh out loud. I think the more appropriate follow up question is "Alexa, are you trying to kill me?"

209Helenliz
feb. 23, 2:38am

>208 ELiz_M: >:-) It's an absurd image it conjures up, isn't it? I had several chuckles along the way.

210Helenliz
Editat: feb. 25, 2:40am

Book: 13
Title: Nordic Fauna
Author: Andrea Lundgren
Rating: ***
Why: Peirene book
Challenge: New author, woman author, translation, Subscription, short stories, Bingodog
TIOLI challenge #10. Read a book with a "4" in the number of pages

Goodness, this book, which is a set of 6 short stories, take you to some dark places in the human soul. They are set in the dark North and the darkness of the night and the forest is replicated in the lives of the people in these stories. Without discussing each one in turn, I was left with a feeling of disquiest after each one. No one seems to be happy or content. There is an ambiguity here as well. Are some of the items or events mentioned real or imagined?
This is well constructed, but I'm not sure that I'd describe it as a book I enjoyed. There is reference to rape and child abuse in here so those of a sensitive disposition may wish to take a pass.

211katiekrug
feb. 25, 8:57am

>210 Helenliz: - sounds cheery!

212Helenliz
feb. 25, 9:56am

>211 katiekrug: It was many things, but cheery was not one of them.

213RidgewayGirl
feb. 25, 10:24am

>210 Helenliz: My library does not have a copy, but I'll keep an eye out for it.

214Helenliz
feb. 28, 4:11am

Book: 14
Title: Crossed Skis
Author: Carol Carnac
Rating: ****
Why: it fitted a TIOLI sweeplette!!
Challenge: Woman author
TIOLI challenge #11. Mardi Gras rolling challenge

I thought this was really very inventive. The story sits in 2 parts, you have a mixed party of 16 people who set out on New Year's Day from Victoria train station to Lech, in Austria, for a skiiing holiday. You spend some time finding out about them, the different people making up the party and so on, as not all of them know each other. In parallel to this, you have a house fire discovered on the same day, in which a dead body, burned beyond recognition, is discovered. So what ties these together? A seemingly trivial fact, that an indent in the mud at the fire site looks just like a ski pole. When the fingerprints of a cat burgler are discovered on shillings in the gas meter CID get involved and your realise that the wanted party is one of the skiiers.
It's a fascinating split scene story, split between two different locations and two quite different tones. This was a really interesting way of telling a story and I thought it well done.

So - my question for you. The author uses a couple of pen names, this and ECR Lorac. If I have read an ECR Lorac before by not a Carol Carnac, can I claim this as a new author?

215Helenliz
feb. 28, 4:12am

>213 RidgewayGirl:. I hope you find something of interest in it.

216charl08
feb. 28, 5:03am

>214 Helenliz: My two pennies. I would say it depends: does the author trade/ advertise on their other name, or could you as reader pick it up not knowing their other id?

217Helenliz
feb. 28, 11:36am

Oh. My. God. I'm listening to a set of short stories that are inspired by Jane Austen. They take her life or her stories and produce a short story. OK so far. But you CANNOT have an American narrator reading a story set in Bath in 1805. Seriously, you can't. Jane Austen made me do it is being marked down a point each time the accent makes me grind my teeth. Currently at about minus 92 and I'm only ~ 1/3rd of the way through.

218spiralsheep
feb. 28, 11:46am

>217 Helenliz: Ironically, I'm currently reading a crime thriller about the (hundreds of) African Americans living in London in the 1780s. I don't know if any of them visited Bath but it'd be a helluva crossover. >;-)

219katiekrug
feb. 28, 11:49am

>217 Helenliz: - The book sounds fun, but I think I'll skip it on audio!

220Helenliz
feb. 28, 11:51am

>218 spiralsheep: If that happens I will most certainly let you know. >;-)

221Helenliz
Editat: feb. 28, 11:53am

>219 katiekrug: Wise move, Katie. Some of the stories are really inventive. The ghost hunters TV show turning up at Northanger Abbey was really quite amusing. Having Jane's diary pronouncing Avon as Ah-von, not Ay-von; unforgivable.

222katiekrug
feb. 28, 11:58am

>221 Helenliz: - WTF? We say it "Ay-von" here, too.

223RidgewayGirl
feb. 28, 11:59am

>217 Helenliz: What a coincidence -- I'm reading a book of short stories -- Sansei and Sensibility -- where half the stories are Austen's novels reimagined. So Mr. Collins is a high school librarian and Mrs. Bennett is the president of the PTA.

224Helenliz
feb. 28, 1:38pm

Book: 15
Title: Why Willows Weep
Author: Various
Rating: ****
Why: it fitted my mood.
Challenge: Short stories, Bingo
TIOLI challenge #8: Read a book with an increasing number of words in the title

This is a set of 19 short stories, by different authors, each taking a native tree and writing a short story or fable about it. There is a mixture in here of creation myths, of love and of old histories. Some of them are told with a modern perspective, others are more tradiitonal. A number relate to how the tree acquired its distinctive flower or fruiting features. It makes for a fascinating set. And a perfect relaxing read in the bath after a day in the garden.
I bought this having read the last of the stories. And I think that one is probably the best of a very good bunch.

225Helenliz
feb. 28, 1:43pm

>222 katiekrug: In that case I have no idea what's going on with the accent thing. But stick to print. >;-)

>223 RidgewayGirl: Ha! Enjoy your trip to Austen high school. >:-)

226charl08
feb. 28, 2:06pm

>216 charl08: Um. Cough cough...

227Helenliz
Editat: feb. 28, 2:09pm

>226 charl08: >:-o mea culpa.

>216 charl08:. That is a fair point. I've not counted her as a new author, as she was writing in the same genre, it was a different detective series. And I did know that she was an aka when I started it.

228MissBrangwen
feb. 28, 2:58pm

>224 Helenliz: This sounds like a wonderful read!

229pamelad
març 2, 12:47am

>214 Helenliz: I liked this one too, and was amused by the preoccupation with food.

It would be really stretching it to count E. C. R. Lorac and Carol Carnac as separate authors!

>221 Helenliz: It sounds as though your reader learned English from my G. P. S. I've come across some very odd place names. My favourite so far is Middleborough Road pronounced with the emphasis on the e.

230Helenliz
març 2, 2:46am

>229 pamelad: That was the conclusion I came to.

>221 Helenliz: Ours has some funny ideas as well. Locally we have a road known as Mereway. Said as Mere way. Sat nav decides that it should be said more like Merry way. >:-)

231LadyoftheLodge
març 2, 1:26pm

>230 Helenliz: Ha! My GPS wants to pronounce "expressway" as "expwee". (Abbreviation Expwy, which probably accounts for that.)

232Helenliz
Editat: març 4, 5:28am

Book: 16
Title: Piranesi
Author: Susanna Clarke
Rating: ****
Why: Subscription
Challenge: Woman author, new author, subscription, Bingo, CAT
TIOLI challenge #12.Rolling challenge where a one word title alternates with a longer title that includes the word from the previous title

This all gets very odd, but in a most fascinating way. Our narrator is Piranesi, but he's not sure that's his name. He inhabits a world that seems to consist of multiple rooms and halls which are mostly inhabited by statues, and we experience the world through his journal entries. There seem to be just 2 human residents, him self and someone he calls "The Other". This person seems to be a scientist or similar, with Piranesi being the person who explores the halls and reports back on various elements. He seems quite innocent and unknowing which is quite endearing, we seem to discover the world with him. We also find out about some of the statues, and the various collections of bones that indicate there have been other inhabitants of this world. Then something happens to upset the apparent equilibrium - another person appears in the world. The Other warns Piranesi against 16, but Piranesi starts to discover facts about the person that are gained by his own observations that differ from that of The Other. What happens next is difficult to describe without spoilers, and this is one that I think you need to go into blind. But explores something about the nature of the mind and madness, and questions what is truth. Does the state of mind change what is true? And that old scientific truth that observing the experiment changes the experiment. The ending feels right and yet wrong at the same time. Piranesi discovers something of himself and looses himself at the same time. I'm left feeling slightly off centre.

233Helenliz
març 4, 3:03pm

It's decision time again, which of these do I want to read?

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge
This book is quite a change of pace for us, but it taps into the core elements of our work at ShelterBox: what are the universal requirements for life? Water, food, shelter, hope, and love.
Sophie is a Parisian about to begin her honeymoon, Barry is planning to escape his corporate life in New York, when a plane crash leaves them as the sole survivors on a deserted island in the South Pacific they must work together to survive.
Part island adventure and part romance, this interesting take on the castaway genre is charming, funny and a slice of pure escapism.

Snow in May by Kseniya Melnik
Snow in May blends history and fable to tell beautiful, touching and inventive stories of people living in a peripheral and isolated community in the latter half of the 20th Century.
“Despite their isolation—and perhaps because of it—the most seemingly insignificant moments can be beautiful, haunting, and effervescent.” Melnik creates moments of temporary magic from the hum drum of domestic life in Magadan, in the far east of Russia, giving brilliant and insightful details into the culture and communities of Soviet and post-Soviet society.

Outcasts United by Warren St. John
In the early 1990s the town of Clarkston, Georgia became home to refugee families resettled from all over the globe. Warren St. John beautifully and intricately recounts the heart-warming tale of the 'Fugees', a youth football team brought together by one inspiring woman, and how each child found themselves in this suburb of Atlanta.
This fast-paced chronicle of a single season is a complex and inspiring tale of a small town becoming a global community—and an account of the ingenious and complicated ways we create a home in a changing world.

234katiekrug
març 4, 3:14pm

>233 Helenliz: - Oooh, they all sound pretty good this go round! I'll vote for #2 because I like the cover best :)

235Helenliz
març 4, 4:06pm

>234 katiekrug: That's a perfectly vaild reason. It is lovely, isn't it.

>231 LadyoftheLodge:. Well you can see where it is comming from. Faced with expwy, I think most of us would come up with something like that!

236Jackie_K
març 4, 4:30pm

>233 Helenliz: I'd personally go for either #2 or #3. I suspect #3 would be most up my literary street, but I'm really drawn to the location for #2.

237charl08
Editat: març 4, 4:53pm

>233 Helenliz: #2 - And with my current Russian kick, I might join you.

238dudes22
març 4, 6:59pm

>233 Helenliz: - I've actually read #3 when my granddaughter had to read it before her first year in college for one of her classes and I can say it was good.

239rabbitprincess
març 4, 8:15pm

One of our favourite pastimes when driving in Quebec is listening to the GPS butcher all the French street names :D

240Helenliz
març 5, 3:21am

>236 Jackie_K:, >237 charl08:, >238 dudes22: thank you for the comments. I will admit that #1 hadn't exactly floated my boat either. #2 was the one that caught my eye.

>239 rabbitprincess: I can imagine. >;-)

241Tess_W
març 5, 9:12am

#3

242RidgewayGirl
març 5, 11:06am

Snow in May sounds interesting. The only book I've read set in Russia's Far East was written by a westerner, I'm going to look for this one.

And I had largely the same reaction to Piranesi as you did.

243Helenliz
març 5, 11:11am

>242 RidgewayGirl: It was well done. Unsettling, at turns, but I certainly whizzed through it.

244LadyoftheLodge
març 5, 11:46am

Ohh, hard to choose! #3

245Helenliz
març 5, 2:12pm

>244 LadyoftheLodge: I know. Some times there's a clear favourite, other times it's much harder

246Helenliz
Editat: març 15, 4:59am

Book: 17
Title: The Last Man Who Knew Everything
Author: Andrew Robinson
Rating: ***
Why: Off the shelves!
Challenge: New author, Non-fiction, CAT
TIOLI challenge #7. Read a book with a proper noun in the title

This is more an overview than a complete biography. Thomas Young was, depending on your viewpoint, a genius who applied his talents to anything and everything, or a dilettante who couldn't focus on a single subject. The truth, as ever, is probably somewhere in the middle. I'd heard of him in science, having covered Young's slits and Young's modulus in various physics courses as a student. Anyone with one important phenomena to his name, let alone two, clearly had some skills. And that's not the extent of his discoveries. He first proposed the three colour sensor theory of vision which wasn't proven until the mid 20th century. He was also a linguist and spoke multiple languages which contributed to his early breakthroughs in translating Egyptian hieroglyphs. Trouble is that he wasn't necessarily his own best promotor. His writing is somewhat convoluted (as was the style of tie time) and it is not always clear if he had actually performed the experiment, or merely thought his way through it. There are mixed messages as well. He was trying to set up as a doctor, so most of his early publications were anonymous, but then he tended to take exception to not being credited by later work (Champollion being the most notable example). At the end of this he remains a bit of an enigma. It spends quite a lot of time on his technical achievement and almost none on his family, his poor wife barely gets a look in. I don't feel like I know the subject much more although I know more about the subject. I think that the age of people able to become an expert in multiple broad fields has gone - and I think that's a shame in some ways.

247Helenliz
març 12, 12:29pm

Just had the mail with the results of the vote in >233 Helenliz:, the winner was Snow in May. So I'll get that sometime in April.

248Tess_W
març 12, 12:33pm

>247 Helenliz: I will await your review!

249charl08
març 14, 6:54am

>246 Helenliz: Sounds like an interesting life, even if maybe this wasnt the best biography. The only person it reminded me of reading about was that amazing bio of Aubrey by Ruth Scurr: he seemed to be interested in so many different things.

You mentioned Ali Smith's recent quartet on my thread. I am tempted to reread the first three and then pick up Summer.

250Helenliz
març 15, 5:00am

Book: 18
Title: What Lies Beneath
Author: Andrew Robinson
Rating: ***
Why: Local author
Challenge: New author,
TIOLI challenge #13. Read a book in rolling order MARCH BREAK, with a title word starting with the letter

I think this almost works, but it ends up being a bit of a disappointment. What works is the setting, Rutland is a little world in its own right and he captures this quite well. His main detective, Caroline Hills, has been lumbered with an awful lot of baggage, not all of which feels to be necessary or germane to the plot. She's an incomer and has yet to adapt and integrate. Her main support, Dexter Antoine, is much more rounded and interesting as a character, while being another outsider. He feels far more human and three dimensional. The murder is an interesting one, with enough red herrings that keep crossing the trail. Although there was an awful lot of theorising ahead of one's data. Caroline got a bee in her bonnet and wouldn't let it go, despite nothing more than circumstantial evidence to support her theory. The solution, when it comes, was one that had been telegraphed in advance, but it resorted to that least satisfactory of plot devices, the confession. It was OK. I have book 2, so I'll give it a go, but the series will have to get better from here for me to be fan.

251Helenliz
març 15, 5:07am

>249 charl08:. I look forward to hearing what you and the book discussion make of it.
I'd have to read all three for the first time... That might be a project for another day. Just having taken on reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem, it might be a while before I am project ready again.

252Helenliz
Editat: març 22, 4:40am

I'm reading Alan Moore's Jerusalem. Where this might take some time (understatement) I'm going to keep track of thoughts each week, so I can try and make sense of it.

Finished the Prologue, chapters 1 & 2 this week. Prologue has me thinking mystical vision of some sort, be interesting to see what that results in. Chapter 1 the imagery of the painting coming to life was amazing. Poor Ginger. Chapter 2, I found myself both feeling sorry for and repelled by Marla and her world.

Chapter 3 Rough Sleepers. Took me a while to work out what was going on, but I got there. This is the first time you suspect that the past and the present are not separate, with Marla making an appearance in his story. I thought he was quite sweet in some ways.

253Helenliz
març 22, 11:52am

Time for a new thread, join me in the continuation... https://www.librarything.com/topic/330790
En/na Helenliz sends a 2nd postcard ha continuat aquest tema.