Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: Heroic Measures

This week my teaser lines come from Jill Ciment's lovely little novel, Heroic Measures.  I bought the book when it was published back in 2009, but it's taken me all these years to get around to reading it. What a mistake - it's a brilliant read.  In this snippet, one of the main characters is waking up on what might turn out to be a life-changing morning:
For Ruth, the spectacle of sunrise is less inspiring than comforting. The rise of the sun is like the opening of a novel she's read so many times that she can take pleasure in the details and nuances without having to race to the end to find out what happens. (p.57)

Well, with this book, even though it's not a re-read, I'm going through very slowly and savoring each line. It's that good.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Vintage Mystery BINGO 2014

One more challenge that's just too enticing to pass up! Bev at My Reader's Block is hosting another Vintage Mystery reading challenge for 2014, and this time there's a bingo-card twist that sounds like a lot of fun. And two versions - Silver Age or Golden Age mysteries (you can choose to do either version, or both).  See the announcement/sign-up page to read all the rules and guidelines. 

I'm going to start with the Gold Edition card (mysteries published before 1960), and try to complete one whole line (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally - haven't decided which yet).  Then if I can complete that one I might go for the Silver as well - that would be a total of 12 books, and I definitely have that many want-to-read mysteries on my shelves.

So we'll see how it goes.  During the year I'll be tracking my progress over on my challenge blog (HERE). This one should be fun.

Teaser Tuesdays: The Shooting Party

This week my teaser lines come from The Shooting Party by Isabel Colegate, a book I've been meaning to read ever since 1985 when I saw the movie based on the novel.  This quote comes very early in the book, on page 2:
"It's not a bad idea to get in the habit of writing down one's thoughts. It saves one having to bother anyone else with them."
I've kept a diary or journal of some kind almost since I learned how to write.  And this has always been one of my favorite quotes about journal keeping.  I knew it was by Isabel Colegate, but I never knew exactly where it appeared in her works.  So I was pleasantly surprised to discover it here. (And, by the way - do you keep a journal?)

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

New Author Reading Challenge 2014

I really am trying to be a little more selective about signing up for reading challenges in 2014, after doing so badly with my 2013 crop.  But the New Author Challenge (hosted by Jackie over at Literary Escapism) is one of my favorites.  For some reason, I forgot to sign up this year.  Not making that mistake again.  I'll be committing to fifteen new authors, but hope to do a little better than that.  Since I don't know who those authors will be yet, I won't be making an advance list, but during the year I'll be tracking my progress on my challenge blog (HERE), and here too (if I can remember):
  1. Marguerite Yourcenar: Coup de GrĂ¢ce
  2. Julia L. Sauer: Fog Magic
  3. Gavin Extence: The Universe Versus Alex Woods
  4. C.C. Benison: Ten Lords A-Leaping 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wrapping Up the Chunkster

The 2013 Chunkster Challenge actually runs through December 31st, but I'm wrapping it up now - even though I've only read two of the four books I intended to read when I signed up at the "Chubby Chunkster" level.  Realistically, I don't think it's likely I'll have time to read any other BIG books before the end of the year, so I'm admitting partial defeat and bowing out now.

The two chunkies I finished were:

The Lost Symbol, by Dan Brown
(509 pages in hardcover)


Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
(602 pages in hardcover)

I cheated just a smidge with that second one, as I started reading it on my Kindle.  But almost immediately I realized I needed to read a print version to see all the illustrations, which are a major part of the narrative.  So, I actually ended up reading nearly 600 pages of it in print.  (No, really - I did!)  Will get my review up in a day or so and add the link.

So, that's about it.  My thanks to Wendy and Vasilly for hosting - it was a fun challenge, even though I only made it halfway.  Maybe next time....

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril / VIII: The (Very Late) Wrap-up

I know, I know - the RIP/VIII reading event actually ended with the month of October.  Well, the month of October sort of got away from me this year, folks - so, I'm just now getting around to writing my wrap-up.  Yeah, it's been that kind of year.

I do love this challenge and I seriously regret making such a hash of it this year.  Will try to do better with Number IX, if Carl decides to treat us all to another go-round next year.   (Fingers crossed!)

Anyway, I read three books for the challenge/event.  Haven't posted any reviews yet, but I am working on that (still playing catch-up on all my reviews for 2013).  Since I signed up for Peril the First, I was aiming for four books, but didn't quite make it.  I did much better with Peril on the Screen: managed to watch lots and lots of scary stuff (Turner Classic Movies always comes through this time of year).  Didn't do separate reviews of those either, but I've gone ahead and listed them here for your list-reading pleasure (I LOVE a good list). 

  1. Night Film. Marisha Pessl
  2. The Small Hand and Dolly. Susan Hill  
  3. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. H.P. Lovecraft

  1. The Baby's Room (2006) Spanish horror film, apparently made for TV.  Altogether a fairly mediocre movie, but the shtick of ghostly happenings recorded on baby monitors was good and creepy.
  2. Badlands (1973) Very disturbing film about a couple of very disturbed individuals.  And who does disturbed-and-disturbing better than Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek?
  3. Cat People (1942) Simone Simon is fascinatingly feline in this original version directed by Jacques Tourneur.
  4. The Devil Doll (1936) Lionel Barrymore in drag! Who wouldn't love that?
  5. Diary of a Madman (1963) Vincent Price screamer set in France; from a story by Guy de Maupassant.
  6. The Fall of the House of Usher (1960) Vincent Price OWNS Edgar Allan Poe, doesn't he?  I've always loved the way the house sinks into the bog at the end - wonderfully cheesy.  (Oops! spoiler alert!)
  7. The Haunted Palace (1963) More Vincent Price; this time in a film version of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" - with a title borrowed from Edgar Poe.
  8. Horror Castle (1963) Italian horror flick with Christopher Lee. Women being tortured and killed by a deformed, hooded, holocaust survivor.  Felt like taking a shower after this one.
  9. Horror of Dracula (1958) One of the best versions of Bram Stoker's tale; probably my favorite, although I do love Frank Langella as the Count.
  10. The Legend of Lucy Keyes (2005) Evil real estate developers? Now that's scary.
  11. Mary Reilly (1996) I'm not a Julia Roberts fan, but she's actually pretty good in this. Love Malkovich, though, and he makes a great Hyde.
  12. The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) Boris Karloff as the evil Dr. FM. Can't believe I'd never seen this one before.
  13. Mirrors (2008) Another one of those stories with mirrors as a gateway for ghosts and spirits. Actually a pretty watchable film, but the ending was a little confusing.
  14. The Mummy (1932) The "original" version with Boris Karloff and Zita Johann - still the best and the scariest.
  15. The Ninth Gate (1999) One of my all-time favorite films, by one of my all-time favorite directors, based on one of my all-time favorite books. What could be better?
  16. Nosferatu (1922) A creepy classic. 
  17. The Reeds (2010)  What the....?  Have no idea what was going on in this one.  In the running for worst horror film ever made.
  18. Sea of Love (1989) Love Pacino. Love cop movies. Pacino + cop movie = perfection.
  19. The Seventh Victim (1943) Satanic cults in Greenwich Village. Yeah, I can buy that. Kim Hunter in her very first film.
  20. 007 - I also watched a handful of James Bond movies.  Not spooky, but I suppose they do qualify in the suspense/mystery/thriller category.  The list:
    Dr. No (1962)
    From Russia With Love (1963)
    The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
    The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
    For Your Eyes Only (1981)
    Licence To Kill (1989)

  1. The Blacklist (2013; pilot episode)
  2. Broadchurch (2013; mini-series)
  3. Doctor Who: The Power of Three (2012; Season 7/Episode 4)
  4. Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan (2012; 7/5)
  5. Doctor Who: The Snowmen (2012; 7/6)
  6. Doctor Who: The Bells of St. John (2013; 7/7)
  7. Doctor Who: The Rings of Akhaten (2013; 7/8)
  8. Doctor Who: Cold War (2013; 7/9)
  9. Doctor Who: Hide (2013; 7/10)
  10. Inspector George Gently: Gently Northern Soul (2012; Season 5/Episode 1)
  11. Midsomer Murders: The Electric Vendetta (2001; Season 4 / Episode 3)
  12. Midsomer Murders: Who Killed Cock Robin? (2001; 4/4)
  13. Midsomer Murders: Dark Autumn (2001; 4/5)
  14. Midsomer Murders: Tainted Fruit (2001; 4/6)
  15. Midsomer Murders: Market for Murder (2002; 5/1)
  16. Midsomer Murders: A Worm in the Bud (2002; 5/2)
  17. Midsomer Murders: Ring Out Your Dead (2002; 5/3)
  18. Midsomer Murders: Murder on St. Malley's Day (2002; 5/4)
  19. Midsomer Murders: A Talent for Life (2003; 6/1)
  20. Midsomer Murders: Death and Dreams (2003; 6/2)
  21. Midsomer Murders: Painted in Blood (2003; 6/3)
  22. Midsomer Murders: A Tale of Two Hamlets (2003; 6/4)
  23. Midsomer Murders: Birds of Prey (2003; 6/5)
  24. Midsomer Murders: The Green Man (2003; 7/1)
  25. Midsomer Murders: Bad Tidings (2004; 7/2)
  26. Midsomer Murders: The Fisher King (2004; 7/3)
  27. Midsomer Murders: Sins of Commission (2004; 7/4)
  28. Midsomer Murders: The Maid in Splendour (2004; 7/5)
  29. Midsomer Murders: The Straw Woman (2004; 7/6)
  30. Midsomer Murders: Ghosts of Christmas Past (2004; 7/7)
  31. Midsomer Murders: Things That Go Bump in the Night (2004; 8/1)
So, that's it. My thanks to Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings for hosting this wonderful annual event. I can't resist it, and I'm already making my list for 2014. (Did I mention that I LOVE a good list?)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Read Scotland 2014


I made such a mess of most of my reading challenges this year, I guess I really shouldn't be thinking about signing up for any at all in 2014.  But this one is so attractive, I've just GOT to give it a go.

The "Read Scotland 2014" Reading Challenge is being hosted by Peggy Ann's Post, and runs  through 2014.  You can see all the guidelines over on the announcement page, but basically the idea is to read Scottish authors (by birth or immigration), or books about Scotland, or books set in Scotland.  There are several levels of participation, and you don't need a blog to join in (if you've got a GoodReads account, there's a challenge group you can join, here). 

This one should be fun and easy to do - I love Scotland, even though I've only been there once.  And one of my favorite authors, Muriel Spark, was a Scot by birth, and there are plenty of her works I have yet to read.  So I'm signing up at the second level (The Highlander), and committing to 5-8 books. 

Aside from the Muriel Spark books, I don't have firm plans about reading choices, but here are a few possibilities (in no particular order):
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club. Alexander McCall Smith (Scottish author.  The first book in a very popular series that I've never tried.)
  • The Man in the Queue. Josephine Tey (Scottish author. Again, the first book in a series - Inspector Alan Grant. I've read some of the later books, but never managed to read this first one.)
  • The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame (Never read it! Loved the Disney animated feature when I was a child. Scottish author.)
  • Death of a Gossip. M.C. Beaton (Scottish author.  And yet another series I haven't tried. This is the first book in the Hamish Macbeth series.)
  • The Rector. Margaret Oliphant (Scottish author. First book in the Chronicles of Carlingford series. I've had this one on my TBR list for a number of years; this might be my chance to cross it off.)
So, that's something like a plan.  During the year, I'll be tracking my progress over on my challenge blog.  And I'm hoping that in 2014 (unlike 2013), I'll actually have some progress to track!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesdays: The Case of Charles Dexter Ward

Paperback edition from the 1970s

This week my teaser lines come from The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H.P. Lovecraft.  Over the years, I've read quite a few of Lovecraft's major works, but somehow managed to miss this one until this year's "RIP" reading event came along and nudged me into finally pulling it off the TBR pile.  This snippet comes from Part II: An Antecedent and a Horror, and tells us a bit about one of the book's strangest characters:
Now the first odd thing about Joseph Curwen was that he did not seem to grow much older than he had been on his arrival....always did he retain his nondescript aspect of a man not greatly over thirty or thirty-five....
Curwen always explained it by saying that he came of hardy forefathers, and practiced a simplicity of living which did not wear him out.
OK, so now we know the secret to eternal youth - just take it very easy!

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by mizB at Should Be Reading. If you'd like to read more teasers, or take part yourself, just head on over to her blog.

And please feel free to leave me a link to your Teaser Tuesday post in your comment here.