ATTENTION CHALLENGE PARTICIPANTS

2015 Editions of the Color Coded , Mount TBR and Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenges--as well as Read It Again, Sam (due to popular demand)-- have been posted. I am also introducing my newest brain-child: Super Book Password. Please check it out!

As in the past, I will post sidebar links for sign-up posts as well as review headquarters once the new year begins.


Some of Bev's Favorite Quotes...



Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Tale of Two Cities: Review


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity...."

It was the best of Dickens, it was the worst of Dickens, it was passages of brilliant description, it was pages of tedious detail. A Tale of Two Cities is very much a best of and worst of kind of book--with a final tally in favor of the best. I love the story. I love some of the descriptive passages....like this one:
[about Tellson's Bank] Thus it had come to pass that Tellson's was the triumphant perfection of inconvenience. After bursting open a door of idiotic obstinacy, with a weak rattle in its throat, you fell into Tellson's down two steps, and came to your senses in a miserable little shop, with two little counters, where the oldest of men made your cheque shake as if the wind rustled it, while they examined the signature by the dingiest of windows, which were always under a shower-bath of mud from Fleet Street, and made the dingier by their own iron bars proper, and the heavy shadow of Temple Bar.

I can see Tellson's. I feel like I'm there. But then there are the long, drawn out bits (pages--especially when Dickens has taken us to France) where I despair of Dickens ever getting back to the story.

The story is a familiar one to most classic literature enthusiasts. Dickens depicts the years leading up to the Revolution in France. He begins with the freeing of Dr. Manette--a man who has been kept prisoner in the Bastille for all of his daughter's life. They are reunited and begin to live a normal life in London. They soon become involved in the life of Charles Darnay, a French expatriate, who is being tried for treason. They are witnesses at his trial and through their evidence and the work of Sydney Carton he is acquitted. Darnay marries Lucie, Manette's daughter, and Carton (who harbors an unrequited love for Lucie) becomes a close friend of the family. Several years later, Darnay (who is really a French aristocrat) is lured back to France when he receives a message that a former servant is imprisoned. The vengeful peasants, led by Mr. & Mrs. Defarge, have begun the movement towards revolution and Darnay is captured and sentenced to death. Carton, who closely resembles his friend, performs the ultimate sacrifice and takes Darnay's place in prison--and finally at the scaffold. To paraphrase: It is a far better thing that he does than he has ever done before.

Dickens does a terrific job in balancing the story between London and Paris. He shows us the building resentment among the poor and oppressed people of France. He uses the backdrop of the horrors of the time to set off and highlight the sacrifice of Sydney Carton. It is a timeless story and a very touching story of redemption and new life. If only Dickens could have trimmed out some of the long-drawn out descriptions in France, then I would give a five-star rating. As it is--four stars--for a timeless classic, for a Dickens novel that I liked so much better than Great Expectations (which I read and slogged through in high school), for Carton's sacrifice, for Manette's suffering, and for Miss Pross's stand-off with Madame Defarge. (Miss Pross is Lucie's devoted former nursemaid and current companion.) A rollicking good historical classic.

Oh...and another plant for my victory garden this one has been on the TBR shelf for...um...30 years. Yikes! But done now. Oh yeah.

Quotes:
...perhaps second-hand cares, like second-hand clothes, come easily off and on. (Book 1, Ch. 4)I have sometimes sat alone here of an evening, listening, until I have made the echoes out to be the echoes of all the footsteps that are coming by and by into our lives. (Book 2, Chapter 6)

The time will come, the time will not be long in coming, when new ties will be formed about you--ties that will bind you yet more tenderly and strongly to the home you so adorn--the dearest ties that will ever grace and gladden you. O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father's face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you! (Book 2, Chapter 13)

If you remember the words that passed between us, long ago, you will readily comprehend this when you see it. You do remember them, I know. It is not in your nature to forget them. I am thankful that the time has come, when I can prove them. That I do so is no subject for regret or grief. If it had been otherwise, I never should have used the longer opportunity. If it had been otherwise. (Book 3, Chapter 13)

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known. (Book 3, Chapter 15)

Science Fiction Experience Wrap Up



Back in December I signed up for the Science Fiction Experience, sponsored by Carl V. I knew that I had several SF books on the docket for this year--between my Mt. TBR Challenge and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen--so I just moved the bulk of them up in the piles to the beginning of the year.
(The Experience ran from January 1, 2012-February 29, 2012). I originally thought I might get about four books finished and I've managed to do almost three times that! Considering that Goodreads still says I'm 10 books behind, I think that's pretty darn good.

Books Completed:
1. My Name is Legion by Roger Zelazny (1/4/12)
2. Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (2/14/12)
3. The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells (2/5/12)
4. The Future on Ice by Orson Scott Card (ed) 2/15/12)
5. Prayers to Broken Stones by Dan Simmons (1/14/12)
6. Murder & Magic by Randall Garrett (1/28/12)
7. The Masks of Time by Robert Silverberg (1/16/12)
8. The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom (2/29/12)
9. Future Crime by Cynthia Mason & Charles Ardai, eds. (1/23/12)
10. The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells (1/9/12)
11. Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett (1/19/12)


The Jesus Incident: Review


Once upon a time in a science fictional decade far, far away there was an author named Frank Herbert. He wrote a novel called Dune and it was good. He wrote a few more Dune-related books and they were a mixture of good and bad. And he wrote a book called The White Plague and it was good as well. And then he joined up with another author (a poet) named Bill Ransom and wrote a novel called The Jesus Incident--and completely lost this member of his audience.

After having this novel (and its two companion pieces) sitting on my TBR shelf for decades, I decided that this year, with my Mt. TBR Challenge, was the year to finally tackle it and get it out the way. I'm going to confess up front--I did not read every word of the entire thing. I skimmed a great deal of the mid-section....because, let's face it, it wobbled between being down-right confusing and all-out boring. With Dune Herbert created a whole new world--lots of things going on that were unusual and different, but he managed to give the reader enough information about that world that we knew what was up and we actually cared about Paul's journey to become Muad-Dib. In The Jesus Incident, we have another whole new world....and I just don't get it and I don't really care all that much.

Well, okay. Yes, I did get it. We have this experimental group of the last survivors of Earth. They were originally set up to try and create sentience. Somewhere along the line, they succeeded and now their space vehicle, Ship, is sentient. And thinks it is god. And wants to be WorShipped. And it has brought the humans and their clones (yeah, what?) to a new "paradise" planet where they will be tested--one last time. (Apparently, there have been many "testings" prior to this that we really don't know about. Must not be important). If they fail to figure out to WorShip properly, then Ship is going to "wipe the tape," end the experiment, in a word--get rid of mankind. Nice.

Oh. And that "paradise" planet? Not so much. It's full of all kinds of predatory life that just love to kill humans/clones. And there's not enough food for everybody. Sounds like the perfect place to take your next vacation, don't you think?

You'd think that might be complex enough to hold my attention. Yeah, no. Because when it came down to it, the answer to how Ship expects to be WorShipped is a pretty lame and predictable and recycled answer. No new insights here. No real comment on the human condition or human spirituality or anything. Just not Herbert's best writing, in my opinion. One star.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesdays. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

*Grab your current read.Link*Open to a random page.
*Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.

*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to ruin the book for others.
*Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add it to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.

Here's mine from The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom (p. 51):

Poetry, like consciousness, drops the insignificant digits.


[This sentence was such a grabber for me, that I only picked one this week.]

Monday, February 27, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a bookish meme hosted by Book Journey. It's where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It's a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. So hop on over via the link above and join in...and leave a comment here so I can check out what you are reading.


Books Read (click on titles for review):
Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash
The Yellow Room by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Currently Reading:
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: With dramatic eloquence, this story of the French Revolution brings to life a time of terror and treason, and a starving people rising in frenzy and hate to overthrow a corrupt and decadent regime. (Still working on this one--'bout half-way done.)

The Greenwell Mystery by E. C. R. Lorac:
When young Ian Campbell disappeared it was suspected that he had sold to a foreign government an invaluable process for the synthetic manufacture of gasoline. Lois Brendon, Ian's fiancee, refused to believe it. Her faith led her to risk her life in his vindication. The matter was put into the hands of Scotland Yard and Chief Inspector MacDonald began operations. Against him were ranged the subtlest conspirators of two foreign powers, and the case led him through as absorbingly tangled an international intrigue as has ever been spun in mystery fiction.

Books that spark my interest:
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom
From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux
The Fire Engine that Disappeared by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

The Yellow Room: Review


Mary Roberts Rinehart does it again in The Yellow Room. Billed on my edition as a more Gothic, Had-I-But-Known story, it's really more of a twisty-turny mystery (and she delivers on the twisty-turny solution!). Shoot, if you read the blurb on the book I have here beside me, you'd think that some evil terror hangs out in the Yellow Room of Carol Spencer's family home in the country and that she goes in mortal fear of her elder brother.

See?:


As a child, Carol Spencer had always thought of Crestview as a place of light and laughter. But Carol was a young woman now, a lovely young woman, and a badly frightened one. The old mansion on the hill was no longer a refuge from the world. It was a prison from which even the man she loved could not rescue her...a nightmare from which she could not awaken...where every heart beat brought her closer to the strange menace of--The Yellow Room

And:


Brother and Stranger It had been years since Carol Spencer had seen her brother Greg. Time and war had separated them, but Carol still could vividly remember his flashing smile, his easy grace, in the days when he had been a kind of a god to his younger sister. Now they were together again at Crestview--and it was as if Carol were facing a stranger...a stranger whom she knew she should help but could only fear...a stranger with bitterness curling his mouth...hate in his eyes...and blood on his hands....

Can we say melodramatic and over-the-top? Just a little bit.


Seriously, there are some mysterious goings-on at Crestview but not quite on this scale. Carol and her help (a housekeeper/cook and two maids) arrive at the family home to open it in time to receive her elder brother Greg who is home on leave from service in WWII. He's come back from the Pacific theater to receive a Medal of Honor and their mother wants him to have a chance to relax in the cool country air before returning to "that awful tropical heat." When the women reach the train station, there is no taxi to meet them as expected. When they reach the house, there is no caretaker to greet them with breakfast and a warm fire as expected. The gardener/handyman has disappeared. And what exactly is that odd smell?

Before the morning is over, they discover that the handyman is in the hospital with appendicitis and the caretaker has fallen down the stairs the previous Friday and is in the hospital with a broken leg. Oh, and there's a dead body in the linen closet. That somebody tried to burn to prevent identification. By then end of the book, there is another murder and a shooting. The local chief of police goes from having the usual respect (of the period) for the uppercrust, to an all-out effort to make one of the Spencer family out as the guilty party. He finally settles for the war hero. ***Spoiler Alert*****


Because after all, the war hero was tricked into a marriage with a "little tramp" who seemed to have come East specifically to blackmail somebody. (The "little tramp" would be the body in the closet.) And said hero was planning on marrying a society lady--who probably wouldn't be too happy to hear that her hubby-to-be had gotten himself entangled.

Carol doesn't know what to think. Did Greg do it? Did her sister Elinor, who has always been devoted to Greg, do it? Or is she just covering up for him? Or maybe it's somebody else altogether. She turns to her neighbor, Major Dane, for help. He just happens to be a recovering Army Intelligence officer of some sort...and soon he's uncovering all the evidence that the local police miss.

But Rinehart has plenty of tricks up her sleeve and she uses the Major's investigation to provide all the surprises. Just when you think he's collected the final clue, along comes another to make you rethink the solution. Of course, with Rinehart, there is the standard romance and there are a few loose ends that don't quite get tied up in this one (not to mention a few vital clues that are kept just a little too ambigious), but over all a fun outing--I read this one in just one day! Four stars.

Fascintated? Please Vote For Me!

A blog post I wrote in 2011 titled Vintage Mystery Progress and Review Site has earned a nomination for a Fascination Award: 2012's Most Fascinating Librarian blog. The Fascination Awards are an annual collection of the web’s most inspirational and thought-provoking blogs and are nominated by the editorial team and voted on by readers. If you agree that I have a fascinating blog, then please vote for me (link below). Thanks!!!!


The voting will continue to March 6 at 11:59 P.M (EST). The site with the most votes will win the grand prize, a $200 restaurant gift card as well as permission to display the prestigious "Winner" emblem on their website!


  • All blogs listed on the ballot are randomized every time the poll is accessed to ensure the fairness and integrity of the results. [The best way to find me is to click Ctrl + F and search..."block" works well for the key word, 'cause, like Tigger, I'm the only one.]
  • All votes are 100% anonymous and secure through the use of a 128 bit SSL connection.
  • The ballot contains a list of 100 nominees which have been chosen by our editorial staff and were selected from a pool of over 2,300 submissions.
  • Click here to view the voting page. If you feel inspired to urge your friends and neighbors to vote for me, please feel free to repost.

As far as I can tell voting on this poll will in no way obligate you to receive information from the Accelerated Degree Program with which it is associated. I would appreciate your vote--but if you have any qualms at all about doing so, then I understand.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Friday Memes (On Saturday!)

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages. Here's what you do: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section. Include the title and author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line and if you did or did not like that sentence. Link up each week at Katy's place.


Here's mine
from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

One of the best known openings in all of literature. Even most of us who haven't yet read the novel have heard at least the very first portion at some time.


The Friday 56 is a bookish meme sponsored by Freda's Voice. It is really easy to participate. Just grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56. Find a sentence that grabs you and post it.
Here's mine from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (page 56 is blank in my copy, so I will jump to 57):

[about Tellson's Bank] Thus it had come to pass that Tellson's was the triumphant perfection of inconvenience. After bursting open a door of idiotic obstinacy, with a weak rattle in its throat, you fell into Tellson's down two steps, and came to your senses in a miserable little shop, with two little counters, where the oldest of men made your cheque shake as if the wind rustled it, while they examined the signature by the dingiest of windows, which were always under a shower-bath of mud from Fleet Street, and made the dingier by their own iron bars proper, and the heavy shadow of Temple Bar.

Satan's Circus: Review


Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash does exactly what you'd expect that long title to do....try to cover way too much material in one book. Er, wait, no. That's not what I expected the book to do, actually--although that's what I got. When I picked it up and read the book flap, I expected the book to tell the story of Charley Becker, a NY cop at the turn of the century (turn of last century, that is). Charley Becker was a handsome lieutenant who had been decorated as a hero, had led the department's vice-busting Special Squad, and who wound up on trial for his life--accused of arranging the murder of one of the members of Manhattan's underworld. Becker was also, at the time of the writing of this book, the only police officer in the United State to be executed for murder.

It does tell that story. But Dash doesn't just stick to that story. He's gives great detail on the history of the police department and the history of vice in the city--everything from prostitution to gambling to gang warfare. It tells us all about Tammany Hall and Teddy Roosevelt's efforts to clean it up. It, in fact, tells way too many stories in one book. By the time we get to the "Trial of the Century" we're pretty weary. We've slogged through so much information that working our way through the ins-and-outs of the evidence and the DA's all-out determination to send Becker to the chair, we're kind of over-whelmed.

Dash had a great central story. Was Becker a good cop gone bad? Was he just a normal guy--normal by the standards of the times he grew up in--who had taken advantage of the same opportunities for graft that his fellow policeman had taken and somehow become the fall guy for an overly ambitious DA? That is a story worth telling. If I stick to just that story--then this is a very interesting book. Having finished it, I can't tell you if Becker was guilty or not. He, like so many public officials at the time, was definitely on the take. So, he was no saint. But a murderer--or the man behind the murder? I just don't know. What I can say is, given the evidence and details that Dash recounts, Becker did not get a fair trial. It becomes obvious that the DA, who was a publicity-seeker looking for a way to rise in politics, was absolutely intent on getting a conviction and didn't much care how he got it. Witnesses were allowed free rein to collaborate on stories. The judge, who was very anti-police, put every obstruction possible in the way of the defense.

This could have been a great book. I wish that Dash had stayed more closely tied to his central story. And I wish that, rather than rattling off fact after fact--especially when it came to the trial--he had given us more human interest. By the end of the book, I felt like I should be feeling a lot more invested in some of these people. I should feel more when Helen Becker, Charley's wife, pleads for the Governor (who just happens to have been the prosecuting DA at the time of the trial) to issue a stay of execution for her husband. But I didn't. My first thought was "Hurray, I'm done!" Three stars for the story itself and detailed information. Better execution, please pardon the pun, would have put it in the four- or maybe even five-star range.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Theme Thursday: What Is That Smell?




Hosted by Reading Between the Pages

Rules
*A theme will be posted each week on Thursday
*Select a conversation/snippet/sentence from your current book that features the theme
*Post it and don't forget to mention the author and title of the book
*Event is open for the whole week
*Link back to Reading Between the Pages

This week's theme is Smell (breathe, anything else to do with the nose's functions).

Here's mine from Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash:

It is...one of the gloomiest structures in the world....Tier on tier it rises above a huge central rotunda, rimmed with dim mezzanines and corridors, and crowned by a glass roof encrusted with soot, through which filters a soiled and viscous light. The air is rancid with garlic, stale cigar smoke, sweat and the odor of the prisoners' lunch.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tag! I'm It...Again

Earlier this month, I was swatted in a Blogger's Game of Tag. Today, I was Tagged by Freda at Freda's Voice. If you don't know Freda, then please pop over and check her blog out. It's one of my favorites! And now to the tagging nitty-gritty....


THE RULES

- You must post the rules.
- Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
- Tag eleven people and link to them on your post.
- Let them know you’ve tagged them!


QUESTIONS (from Freda)

1. What was the last book that made you tear up/cry? Laugh out loud?
That Day in September by Artie Van Why Didn't quite have me in tears, but a very touching book about Van Why's experiences on and after 9/11.
Loose Cannons: Devastating Dish from the World's Wildest Women by Autumn Stephens. Very funny quotes from some very vocal women.

2. What new book are you most excited to read this year?
Titanic 2012 by Bill Walker. It's a mystery. About the Titanic! And it has an academic flair--a Harvard reunion! How could I not be excited?


3. If you could spend the evening with one author, living or dead, who would it be?
Dorothy L Sayers. I'd want to talk to her about mysteries and then when we got tired of that we could discuss her religious works. And anything else that came to mind.

4. If you could be reincarnated as one of your favorite characters, who would it be and why?
I'm not entirely sure that I'd want to be reincarnated as a character. But, if I must choose....then Phryne Fisher, Kerry Greenwood's grown-up Nancy Drew. Phryne is smart and witty and self-sufficient. She has enough money to do as she pleases, but she doesn't abuse her position.
5. If you could pick an author to write the story of your life, who would you choose?

Um. I dunno. How about Kerry Greenwood? Especially if she can make my life sound half as exciting as Phryne's. :-)

6. What’s your favorite cook book?

The one that has the recipe I want in it. (I don't really have a favorite.)
7. Edward vs. Jace. Who wins that fight?
I have no idea who Jace is. I'm assuming that Edward is from Twilight. Regardless, I don't know and I can't say that bothers me much.
8. Dumbledore vs. Gandalf. Who wins that fight?
Again, I'm sorry, but I don't particularly care. I've only read one Harry Potter book and I haven't read any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

9. What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?
That's a hard one. I have a few. But if I have to choose just one, then I'm going to go with Rebecca (1940). Alfred Hitchcock certainly knew what he was doing with suspense. The casting is perfect. Dame Judith Anderson is wonderful as the woman you love to hate, Mrs. Danvers. I love the old classics.

10. What book would you want to buy a special edition for?
That all depends on what you mean by "special edition." There are special editions that are movie-tie-ins, there are special editions that are illustrated or specially sized or bound. Or some other limited-edition thing. I'm not all that into those. NOW, if a special edition means a first edition copy of a Vintage Mystery (any Vintage Mystery, doesn't matter), then I'm all over that. And the WWII pocket sized editions of Vintage Mysteries? I absolutely love those.

11. What, if anything, do you snack on while you’re reading?
Depends...but I do love sunflower seeds and grapes.

Now to do some Tagging:Actually, I'm not going to tag anyone by name/blog. I tried that when I was tagged at the beginning of the month and that didn't seem to take off very well. SO....If you're reading this, then...TAG! You're It! Feel free to grab the questions below, answer them and let us know a bit more about yourself. I'd appreciate it if you'd post a comment letting me know and I'll be sure to stop by and check out your answers!

Here's my questions for those of you who accept the tagging challenge:
1. Favorite childhood book-related memory?
2. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
3. Best present you ever received?
4. A song that you could sing the lyrics to right NOW.
5. Who was your first friend? Are you still friends?
6. Do you collect anything? If so, what and what got you started?
7. What is the title of the book that is closest to you right now?
8. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
9. Do you live in the city, the suburbs or the country?
10. Have you ever met somebody famous? Who?
11. What would a perfect day be like for you?

TAG YOU'RE IT!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bev's Believe It or Not

Okay. So yesterday I participated in the Top Ten Tuesday meme. The topic was Top Ten Books (that you own) that you'd want to rescue in case of disaster. Or, in my case Top Ten groups of books that I'd want to rescue--'cause there's no way on earth I could possibly choose just ten books. Anyway...so when I decided that I would just have to list my "puff book" as I call it, I went to the shelf to get the official title: Thomas Moore's Complete Poetical Works. And made an absolutely mind-boggling discovery.


Now you have to understand...I coveted this book, but I've never read it. As I mention in the meme, I just thought it was one cool-looking book. And it was published in 1895, so it's really old, and it's got this interesting, puffy, off-white cover that just called my name every time I stepped into the used bookstore. When I finally got my hands on it, I didn't really go through it page-by-page but I I did try to read it. Well, let's just say it's flowery, 19th-C poetry at its best (or worst, depending on your point of view) and I never made it past about 20 pages or so. But it's a cool book and the first really old book that I pu
t on my shelves and it was a keeper. And there it sat, undisturbed from 1988 until yesterday.

Yesterday, as I was thumbing through it, this fell out of the pages (click picture to enlarge):


My first reaction was to the date. 1/20/43. Wow. Then I read through it. It's a letter from a soldier who has just gone overseas to London and on to his posting (censored). Cool. So, I take it in to show my husband and I'm reading it to him and then it suddenly registers with me that the soldier in question is a Cpl. R. E. "Bob" Worrell. Wait a minute. Worrell is my husband's grandmother's maiden name. I point that out to him and then he notices that the recipients of this missive are Rev & Mrs. Earl Hankins. That would be his grandparents. Say what?!

Apparently, I was given a book by my friend in 1988 that had been sold/traded at some point by his grandmother and made its way from Indianapolis to Wabash to Mason's Rare & Used Bookstore. And the book contains a photostat of a letter from her brother. From the shelves of his grandmother to the shelves of his future wife. Go on, say you don't believe it. Neither do I. But here it is.


Full text:

Dear Folks

How is everybody at present, fine I hope, the boys all alright? How are you feeling Doris any better? Had a wonderful trip over. I never got sea-sick once and I have been in (censored) and it is very nice country everything is so nice and neat there. I have also seen London, there they can't have any buildings over four floors high. But I just seen the outskirts of it. I also seen the river called The Thames it is the same size as White river. Over here in England they really treat the soldiers nice. The red cross gave us doughnuts and coffee more than once. This here is a neat looking country also. The place I am in at present treats us very nice. Will write soon and Be good.


As ever

Bob

P.S. Happy Birthday Sis


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teaser Tuesdays

MizB of Should Be Reading hosts Teaser Tuesdays. Anyone can play along. Just do the following:

*Grab your current read.Link*Open to a random page.
*Share two "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.

*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! You don't want to ruin the book for others.
*Share the title and author too, so other TT participants can add it to their TBR lists if they like your teaser.

Here's mine from Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, and New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash (p. 116):

From that date on, he vented his anger even more volcanically on anyone in range. The mayor might, on a good day, be sweet-natured and reasonable. For the most part, though--as the Sun observed--he "fought without gloves, he liked to swat; he was more than a 'good hater,' he was a pitiless scorner of many; and he turned not the other cheek but the other fist to those who assailed him."



Top Ten Tuesday: Rescue from the Inferno

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new top ten topic is posted for followers to write about. This week we are asked to list our "Top Ten Books to Save If the House Were Abducted by Aliens (or some other disaster)". So...I own over 2000 books....and I'm really supposed to choose only ten to save? I'm afraid I'm mostly going to have to choose Ten Groups of books to save from the Inferno (or other imminent danger).

1. All of my Dorothy L Sayers books--especially the special editions of Lord Peter. That includes a first edition, hard-back British Whose Body? and a special Armed Forces edition of Busman's Honeymoon and a couple of WWII pocket size editions that I will probably never find again in used book stores.
2. Speaking of pocket size editions. I love those little square-shaped books. Must save all of those--the whole shelf.
3. All of my signed editions. Most of these are not signed by famous authors. Rather, 90% of them are signed by authors I know personally and whose books are all the more special because the authors are my friends.
4. A Sprig of Sea Lavendar by J. R. L. Anderson. Is it a great book? I have no idea--I haven't read it yet. But it had been on my must-find list For-ev-er. And my mom-in-law just found it for me this past Christmas at a used bookstore in Florida. Must save it since it was so difficult to find.
5. All of my Frances & Richard Lockridge books. I have a near-complete set...I certainly don't want to have to start collecting all over again.
6. All of my hardbound S. S. Van Dine mysteries--nearly all are first editions in fine to near-fine shape. Don't want those going up in smoke.
7. Beverly of Graustark by George Barr McCutcheon and Laddie: A True Blue Story by Gene Stratton Porter. Two very old editions that also have a great deal of sentimental value. My grandma got these for me--Beverly she picked up simply because that's my name and she thought it would be nice to give me a namesake book. Beverly is in great shape...Laddie, not so much--but I loved it when I was growing up and wouldn't want to lose it for anything.
8. Thomas Moore's Complete Poetical Works. Again, not the greatest poetry on earth--but it is the edition that makes it worth saving. It's what I call my "puff book." It's covered in an interesting, off-white, "puffy" material. When I was growing up, I used to covet it....it sat for years on a shelf in Mason's Rare & Used Bookstore downtown. Finally, one of my best friends arranged for me to have it.
9. Set of 6 Nancy Drew books that were my mom's. They were a Christmas gift to her from her mom and she passed them on to me when she realized she had a reader on her hands.
10. All of my Bibles...they all have been given to me by special people and have additional meaning beyond spiritual.

and I had to add an extra level...

11. The rest of the 1st edition vintage mysteries that I own. If you absolutely insist that I wouldn't have time to save all of these books...then I'll just grab one at random. And then stand outside and cry when I think of the others that I couldn't save.



Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a bookish meme hosted by Book Journey. It's where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It's a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. So hop on over via the link above and join in...and leave a comment here so I can check out what you are reading.


Books Read (click on titles for review):
Future On Ice by Orson Scott Cared, ed.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly
A Spark of Death by Bernadette Pajer

Currently Reading:
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: With dramatic eloquence, this story of the French Revolution brings to life a time of terror and treason, and a starving people rising in frenzy and hate to overthrow a corrupt and decadent regime.


Satan's Circus: Murder, Vice, Police Corruption, & New York's Trial of the Century by Mike Dash:
They called it Satan’s Circus—a square mile of Midtown Manhattan where vice ruled, sin flourished, and depravity danced in every doorway. At the turn of the 20th century, it was a place where everyone from the chorus girls to the beat cops was on the take and where bad boys became wicked men; a place where an upstanding young policeman such as Charley Becker could become the crookedest cop who ever stood behind a shield. The handsome lieutenant was a decorated hero, the renowned leader of New York’s vice-busting Special Squad. Was he a bad cop leading a double life, or a pawn felled by the sinister rogues who ran Manhattan’s underworld?


Books that spark my interest:
The Time Machine by H. G. Wells
The Jesus Incident by Frank Herbert & Bill Ransom
From Sawdust to Stardust: The Biography of DeForest Kelley, Star Trek's Dr. McCoy by Terry Lee Rioux
The Fire Engine that Disappeared by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö


I'm So Honored


Just today I received an email letting me know that I have been nominated for a blogging award.

A blog post I wrote in 2011 titled Vintage Mystery Progress and Review Site
has earned a nomination for a Fascination Award: 2012's Most Fascinating Librarian blog. The Fascination Awards are an annual collection of the web’s most inspirational and thought-provoking blogs and are nominated by the editorial team and voted on by readers.

The nomination email says: "The comments posted in response to your post prove that your content
not only inspires your audience, but it also creates discussion around your posts, both of which are requirements for the nomination of a Fascination award."

I don't know how the folks at the Fascination Awards learned about My Reader's Block, but I just want to say a big THANK YOU!!! I am so excited. Please watch for a posting telling you how you can vote for me...I would love it if you all could help me win!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Spark of Death: Review

Set in the Seattle of 1901, A Spark of Death by Bernadette Pajer, feeds two of my mystery habits--historical and academic. And I must say thank you to Steve, aka The Puzzle Doctor, over at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel for bringing this one to my attention. He has been adding to my TBR pile on a regular basis since I started following his blog. If you like mysteries and don't already know Steve then you should definitely head on over to his site. You won't be disappointed!

The novel takes place at the turn of the century when electric power is just beginning to be widely used and the common man is still a little suspicious of this new-fangled power. The Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Washington has designed a Faraday Cage of the Electrical Machine with plans to display its powers when President McKinley comes to campus for a visit. Before the town hears that the President's trip has been cancelled, tragedy strikes--great enough that it might have prevented the President from coming anyway.

Professor Benjamin Bradshaw makes the discovery. His despised colleague, Professor Oglethorpe, is sitting in the Cage, dead from electrocution. The police quickly fasten on the rivalry and dislike between the two men and Bradshaw becomes suspect number one. Fortunately for Bradshaw, there isn't enough evidence to hold him and he is left free to do a bit of detective work on his own. He feels that he must--to clear his name and protect his son.

While the police shout murder and the good citizens howl for his arrest, Bradshaw begins to unearth clues that reveal several motives. But the real question is--was Oglethorpe the intended victim or did he die in a trap laid for the President? Was personal vengeance or public anarchy at the bottom of it?

Pajer has done a terrific job with this debut novel of what promises to be a wonderful historical mystery series. She's obviously done her research and expertly evokes the time and setting of early 20th Century Seattle. But the research is not overdone. She doesn't burden the reader with so much information that all you see is "It's a historical novel! Look it's 1901!" The setting is important, but only to support the story. And the characterization of Professor Bradshaw
is marvelous. He is a character with depth and I can't wait to see where the next novel takes us. Other characters can use some fleshing out--but I'm quite sure that Pajer will take care of that as the series develops. Over all, a wonderful beginning. I will definitely be on the lookout for more Bradshaw adventures. Four stars.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Quote It! Saturday


Freda's Voice has an awesome Saturday meme for quote lovers called Quote It! and I have another blog, Quote Mistress, which is entirely devoted to the quotes I have collected over my lifetime. So my Quote It! may be found on my quote site. I'd love for you to visit...and be sure and visit Freda's Voice too!

Saturday Snapshot: Valentine Flowers


Saturday Snapshot is a meme hosted by Alyce at At Home with Books. All you have to do is "post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mr. Linky on [her] blog. Photos can be old or new, and be of anything as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give is up to you." All she asks is that you don't just post random photos that you find online. (Click picture for close-up).




Valentine's Day Flowers from my Sweetie. He outdid himself this year...candy and flowers sent to me at work! (usually it's just candy....)


Nothing Can Rescue Me: Review


Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly....the title is oh so right. Nothing can rescue Sylvanus Hutter from the brutal blow dealt to him by an unseen hand wielding a Chinese bronze statue. Nothing can rescue his sister Florence Hutter Mason from the poison planted in her iron pills. Not even having Henry Gamadge on the spot and prepared for something malicious to happen.....

Sylvanus approaches Gamadge at their club and asks him to come with him to Underhill, the Hutter family's country estate for the weekend. Florence has gathered her friends and family there in an effort to get away from the pressures of World War II--which seem so much more evident in New York City than in the country. She thinks she's surrounded by friendly souls, but after trying to contact the spirits using a Ouija board, she's not so sure. Someone has been typing ominous messages in the manuscript of the novel she has been working on. It begins with a mischievous message, but they gradually become more threatening. Gamadge is quite sure that there is more than spooky fun and games going on.

He is very quickly proved right when Sylvanus is found bludgeoned by the the proverbial blunt instrument. One of the guests still points to a spectral hand--after all Sylvanus was killed in a dark room while playing at Ouija himself. Gamadge is on the look-out for a human agent with a perhaps more mercenary motive, and he makes every effort to protect Florence from harm. The killer is very cunning, though and, despite Gamadge's attempt to prevent another murder, Florence falls victim as well.

But who could have wished Sylvanus and Florence dead? Of course, there is the Hutter family fortune and the inheritance of Underhill at stake....but with Florence changing her will on a regular basis, could anyone have been sure that the inheritance would fall where they wanted it to? Did Tim Mason, Florence's philandering husband, believe that he stood to inherit? Or perhaps Susie Burt, his current interest, counted on him inheriting and helped things along? Then there's Florence's secretary, Evelyn Wing, who, unlike her predecessors, has managed to stay in the position for four years. Did she hope that her devotion would be sufficiently compensated for in the most recent will? And what about Sally Deedes--did she hope for an inheritance big enough to bring her former husband back? There are too many possible motives with not enough certainty for Gamadge's taste. It will take another attempt at murder before he can give the police enough evidence to arrest the culprit.

Daly, who is said to be Agatha Christie's favorite mystery writer, weaves an interesting mystery with plenty of suspicion to go around. There are several false clues and it a good, solid, workable mystery. Not her most outstanding work, but certainly no dud. And Henry Gamadge, her dashing bibliophile amateur detective is always a treat. Three and a half stars.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Memes

Book Beginnings on Friday is a bookish meme sponsored by Katy at A Few More Pages. Here's what you do: Share the first line (or two) of the book you are currently reading on your blog or in the comments section. Include the title and author so we know what you're reading. Then, if you are so moved, let us know what your first impressions were based on that first line and if you did or did not like that sentence. Link up each week at Katy's place.


Here's mine
from Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly:

The plump little man leaned over Gamadge's shoulder and squeaked in his ear: "Who am I?"

Not sure I'd want someone squeaking in my ear....but Gamadge doesn't seem too put out about the surprise.


The Friday 56 is a bookish meme sponsored by Freda's Voice. It is really easy to participate. Just grab a book, any book, and turn to page 56. Find a sentence that grabs you and post it.
Here's mine from Nothing Can Rescue Me by Elizabeth Daly:

"It wasn't a joke, you know, although the perpetrator certainly meant to amuse him- or herself as well as to frighten the victim."

Booking Through Thursday: Fan Fiction


This week's Booking Through Thursday question:

A while ago, I interviewed my readers for a change, and my final question was, “What question have I NOT asked at BTT that you’d love me to ask?” I got some great responses and will be picking out some of the questions from time to time to ask the rest of you. Like now.

Pepca asks
Have you every written any fan-fiction? If yes, why and for which book(s)? If no, would you like to and for which books(s)?

For that matter, do you ever READ fan-fiction??


A day late (as seems to be a habit these days), but: Actually....yes. To both questions. When I was a teenager and heavily into my Classic Trek phase (I'm still a Trek fan-girl, but not quite so much), I wrote some Star Trek parodies--which I think counts. I had gotten into reading the book versions of The Best of Trek (fan fiction magazine!) edited by Walter Irwin and G. B. Love. There was a regular feature for a while in which parodies of classic episodes appeared. Then they stopped...and I decided to try my hand at a few. I have them around here somewhere....maybe some day I'll inflict them on you all.

I've also read some of the fan fiction collections that have come out more recently--featuring stories from all the Trek variations through Enterprise.