Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Middle Sister's November 2013 Books

Because of the US Thanksgiving holiday this weekend, I'm going to review my November reads a bit early. Any subsequent books finished before Saturday will be reviewed next month. It was a slow month, book-wise, but that's because one of them was quite lengthy.

Silence by Diarmaid MacCulloch I was hoping for a detailed treatise on silence in religious practice, as the book cover blurb indicated. The main material appears to be adapted from a series of lecture given by the author. The beginning of the book focuses on silence in the Old Testament and Judaism, the latter of which I'm not familiar with, so it was a bit steep. The next part deals with the early Christian church, with which I'm a bit more familiar and which therefore was easier to follow. The Final portion is where the author lost me. He switched from a discussion of silence as a meditative pursuit to silence in terms of official church policy on homosexuality, and while that is a an interesting topic and deserving of an essay or newspaper column, the book was supposed to explore the use of silence as a religious exercise, or so I thought. It's a very erudite book, with lots of footnotes, and clearly the author knows his subject matter, but it's probably too weighty for any readers but church historians.

And please, publishers, will you make the footnotes in your Kindle version active? The one downside to a Kindle is that it is not easy to scroll back and forth between locations when one doesn't know where the footnote pages begin because there is no link to that page or to specific footnotes within the text of the book. This book in particular needed its footnotes for the reader's enlightenment. (Net Galley Kindle)

Ten Lords A'Leaping by C.C. Benson Father Tom Christmas (yes,that's really his name), vicar in a small English village, sprains his ankle while jumping out a plane with a group pf philanthropist titled nobles for a fund raiser, and is stuck recuperating for a few days at the English manor where the event occurred until he is mobile. Unfortunately, someone is killed, followed by a second murder, in Benson's take on the classic mystery setting. Pluses: engaging cozy mystery, enough characters for suspects aplenty, interesting modern update of the country house murder ploy, and a cast of characters and a genealogy chart  (I love a cast of characters). Minuses: a heavy dependence on British idioms of vernacular jargon almost makes some passages read like a parody, and why does it take three-quarters of the book for us to find out that Miranda is 10 years old? Madrun's letters to her mother were an interesting sidebar, but the crossed-out misspellings got tiresome by about the fourth chapter. I enjoyed how Father Tom's two mothers were so matter-of-factly included in the story without drama. However, I enjoyed the book enough that I will seek out the first two entries in the series. (Net Galley Kindle)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quote About Reading

I watched one of my favorite verions of the Cinderella story yesterday, and included was this priceless 'indictment' of the troubles that follow when one reads too much:

"They say she was once a grand lady and lived on the hill. But she took to reading books and went from bad to worse, stuffed her head with full of ideas, and now she's a bit addled."

The Widow Sonder to her children and stepdaughter Ella, about Madame Toquet, in The Glass Slipper (1955).

Friday, November 1, 2013

Middle Sister's October 2013 Books

Believe it or not, I've been reading--a lot--this month, but I'm currently reading an ARC on my Kindle that I've been reading exclusively for 3 weeks--it's that thick. The beauty/bane of the Kindle is you never know what you've gotten yourself in for with any particular book, because who really understands into how many inches thick thousands of locations translate? But I did finish two books this month:

Great Little Gifts to Knit by Jean Moss Charming small presents for the knitter to make. Taunton Press did as nice a job as a certain other press whose knitting books I've reviewed in making sure the layout is open (knitters write notes while knitting), and that there are lots of clear, detailed photographs. The usual line-up of knitted gift subjects (a shawlette, hats, mitts, toys) is upended by the inclusion of more unusual items, like a guitar strap that doubles as a belt. And there's a particularly cute tea cozy pattern, and you know how I love tea cozies...  (Net Galley)

The Money Bird by Sheila Webster Boneham Second in the Janet MacPhail series which, let's face it, I'm predisposed to like--50-ish, dog-loving woman finds charming, dog-loving professor to share life and murder mysteries with (yes,that's a dangling preposition there--I'm feeling spunky tonight). In this book, Janet gets involved with exotic bird smuggling. Although Janet again insists on doing harebrained things she should know better than to do after her first murder encounter, at least she has learned some lessons. I admit the ending surprised me--well done. Dog lovers will love this series. (Net Galley)

Next month may be another two-title-only month: Silence, which I'm reading now, and my book club will be reading Lorna Doone, which is 10,638 locations in the Kindle version I have, which sounds like it is an awfully thick book. But I've seen the old, silent movie, so I'm eager to brew a pot of tea, make some shortbread, and escape to the highlands.