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Archive for December, 2010

Mr. Timothy

Mr Timothy by Louis Bayard

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0060534214

    From Publishers Weekly

    Bayard’s first two novels (Fool’s Errand; Endangered Species) were contemporary romantic comedies, a far cry from his third, an audacious and triumphant entertainment that imagines the post-Christmas Carol life of Tiny Tim, transformed from an iconic representation of innocent suffering (“the iron brace was bought by a salvager long ago, and the crutch went for kindling”) into a fully realized young adult struggling to find his place in a cruel world. Having lost his parents and become estranged from his remaining family as well from as reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. Timothy Cratchit has found a niche in a brothel as the tutor to its madam. Haunted by his failure to connect with his father, as well as by his father’s ghost, Timothy has developed a thick skin to guard against the oppressive misery endemic to 1860s London. His defenses are penetrated when he encounters Philomela, a 10-year-old waif who has been mysteriously abused. With the assistance of a singing street urchin called Colin the Melodious and a maimed retired seafarer, he pursues the source of her torment and its connection with another child whose branded body was dumped in an obscure alley. The quest becomes more quixotic when evidence points to the aristocracy, abetted by a corrupt police force, but with Philomela taking an active role, the quartet narrow in on their target. With surprising but plausible twists, and a visceral, bawdy evocation of Victorian London, Bayard has crafted a page-turner of a thriller that is elevated beyond its genre by its endearingly flawed hero for whom nothing human is alien.

    I had high hopes for this (my last review of 2010).  But I was only partially right.

    I was continually not “with it” for the first 2/3rds of the book but I kept hoping it would get better.  And the last 1/3 got quite good!

    I’m not sure what was, or wasn’t missing ,or written in the first part of the book but it didn’t hold my interest and I found myself not reading as much as normal with each time I’d pick up the book.  I am happy to say that changed with the latter part.  I went through that part rather quickly!

    I think there was much here to be used with old Scrooge and Timothy that wasn’t brought to light, but then maybe  Mr Bayard was being overly cautious so he wouldn’t be said to be stealing the works of Mr Dickens.

    Over all this book was “good” but not great, though I do think I will give the author another shot to see if maybe I expected a little too much.

     

    Here’s hoping that 2011 brings us all many good reads during the year!! Happy New Year (on Saturday) and Happy reading!!!

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    The Pond in December

     Hard to believe it’s after Christmas when the trees here look like this!  (well they did until a big wind *cold front* came thru)

    But it has been rather cold (is there such a word for florida?) So I was surprised to see the Egret pay us a visit.

    And of course there are always plenty of piggies.. oh.. I mean Ibis!

    Actually, for the most part, the pond is very quiet.  I wonder if “next year” will bring any new birds to the pond?

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    Once Upon a Time..

    Oh wow.. I dug out this old photo and decided to hang it up.  I must be going thru a *remember when* phase!

    The photo is of me when I was young, and my son Thom.. also young!  It was on the Star Trek Cruise where I first met DeForest and Carolyn Kelley.  Tom was dressed for a costume contest. (Thought I’d mention that so you didn’t think my son normally looked like that ..heh)

    The gown I have on was designed by me and one of the last gowns my brother made. I am happy to say it made an impression on the Kelleys!!

    I keep looking at the photo lol..

    I was young..

    I was thin..

    I had lots of hair..

    and look at those fingernails!!!  (they were real!)

    I guess I am going through a bit of “the old days” since the year is about to change once again.

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    Christmas 2010

    My eldest son, George, my daughter (in-law) Kat, and grandson Brent came by on Christmas Eve and took me to lunch at Olive Garden. (love their soup / salad and breadsticks)

    My grandson grew a foot and no longer wears glasses..sheesh.. they grow up tooooo fast!

    (below) Boo is checking out the new scratcher  it’s supposed to *file* his nails down as he uses it… of course that catch is “if he uses it” which so far he isn’t!  I’d like very much to save the 12.00 every 5 or 6 weeks to go have his nails clipped. (no he won’t let me do it!)

    and then there’s a few new toys to check out!

     

    (hmmm, looks like big butt is at it again!  saved the new mousie with a dive under the television furniture, now trying to get himself out from under it!)

     

    As one might suspect, he got out. lol

    I hope everyone that celebrates Christmas had a fabulous one! 

    Now, in a few days, we enter 2011…   I know I am old, and that there are many even older than myself..but I have to tell you, every part of me is still wanting to write 1960 or 70 or 80 or 90.. I’ve never been comfortable writing the 20–. I can’t even fathom those that will write the 30’s!

    No matter what, I can only hope life is better for them…

    As for me..I really did like when life was simpler. (never thought I’d say that seeing as how much I love my big screen TV and my computer)  But families were closer, maybe because back then there were stay at home moms and kids never came home to an empty home. ? I dunno what it was but it was quieter and nicer somehow. Ah well, I was used to that and today’s younger people are used to what they have. I guess it all works out in the end.

    But I will always remember penny candy, 10 cent comics, and staring at the channel number on the television until a program finally came on!  And I can never forget the Brooklyn Dodgers!  ( Don Newcombe/ Roy Campanella/ Pee Wee Reese/ Jackie Robinson/ & Duke Snider.. ok so memory fades after that lol)  Of course not everything was good, but we all choose to remember the good stuff.

    It’s hard for me at this time of year to loose yet another year. 

    It all happens so fast.

    But before I go, I do want to wish you all the happiest and healthiest coming year.. May 2011 be your best yet!

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    The Pond has been very quiet and so when I watched the Grebe foraging for food I thought I’d take some snaps.. I wasn’t quick enough to get him “tail up”.. he’s a fast little critter!

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    Best and Worst

    This is my best and worst list of books for this year.  I have to say though that not a single one that I read would be considered “bad” so although I didn’t read a lot this year it was all quality reading for me!

    The Best List: (in no particular order)

      Two Sides of the Moon..Scott & Leonev

    In this unique dual autobiography, astronaut David Scott and cosmonaut Alexei Leonov recount their exceptional lives and careers spent on the cutting edge of science and space exploration. This book reveals, in a very personal way, the drama of one of the most ambitious contests ever embarked on by man, set against the conflict that once held the world in suspense: the clash between communism and Western democracy.Through the men+s memoirs, their courage emerges from their perseverance in times of extraordinary difficulty and danger.

    This is a no brainer for me since I read quite a bit about our early Astronauts, but I have never read about any of the Russian Cosmonauts , so I found this VERY interesting.

      The Necromancer .. Michael Scott

    Nicholas Flamel is dying, and the spell from the Codex that renews his immortality is in the possession of the evil John Dee. Reunited with his wife, Perenelle, Flamel hopes to use his remaining power to prevent the monsters now on the island of Alcatraz from escaping. Meanwhile, Machiavelli and Billy the Kid have come to San Francisco to achieve the opposite, releasing the monsters to destroy the city. Twins Sophie and Josh are also back in San Francisco, where Sophie is kidnapped by Aoife, the twin sister of Scathach, the Celtic warrior who had been protecting them. Josh is beginning to doubt whether he is on the right side of things. John Dee is now persona non grata with the Dark Elders, having failed to capture the siblings in London. Trying to escape his inevitable judgment, Dee teams up with Virginia Dare to find his way to Josh so that he can train him as a Necromancer. With this power, Josh can raise Coatlicue, the Mother of All the Gods, from the dead, and thus allow Dee to take over the world himself. Depending on one’s point of view, all of these plot elements can either be disconcerting or can serve to create a sense of unrelenting forward momentum, taking readers breathlessly through to the end. The end in this case is a huge cliff-hanger, carrying with it an enormous sense of melancholy and moral ambiguity. This book will thrill fans of the series who are willing to stick with it to the conclusion.Tim Wadham,

    I have been enjoying this series from the very beginning and each book gets better and better. The books are a great mixture of  historical figures and Michael’s own fictional characters, and he makes the stories very interesting as well as action packed! 

    The Necromancer is a YA book but this old lady is totally enjoying the series. ( I will be sad when they end. :o(   )

      Neverland: J. M. Barrie, The Du Mauriers, and the Dark Side of Peter Pan. by: Piers Dudgeon

    The untold story behind Peter Pan: The shocking account of J. M. Barrie’s abuse and exploitation of the du Maurier family. In his revelatory Neverland, Piers Dudgeon tells the tragic story of J. M. Barrie and the Du Maurier family. Driven by a need to fill the vacuum left by sexual impotence, Barrie sought out George du Maurier, Daphne du Maurier’s grandfather (author of the famed Trilby), who specialized in hypnosis. Barrie’s fascination and obsession with the Du Maurier family is a shocking study of greed and psychological abuse, as we observe Barrie as he applies these lessons in mind control to captivate George’s daughter Sylvia, his son Gerald, as well as their children—who became the inspiration for the Darling family in Barrie’s immortal Peter Pan.
    Barrie later altered Sylvia’s will after her death so that he could become the boys’ legal guardian, while pushing several members of the family to nervous breakdown and suicide. Barrie’s compulsion to dominate was so apparent to those around him that D. H. Lawrence once wrote: J. M Barrie has a fatal touch for those he loves. They die.

    This book was a shocker for me.  Very interesting.. so much so that I have gotten a Biography of J.M . Barrie !  This has the *feel* of a *tell-all* book.

      Guernsey Literary & potato Peel Society.. by: Mary A Shaffer

    The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet’s quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers.

    I had book after book surprise me.. in a great way.  This was yet another of them.  This is a superb little book of reality.  I am not even sure why I got the book because I never thought it would interest me.. boy.. was I wrong!

        The Child Thief… by: Brom

     Chesley-winning illustrator Brom (The Plucker) weaves together gloomy prose and horrifying adventures in this macabre fairy tale inspired by J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Born of faerie blood, Peter hunts abandoned children, runaways and the hopeless, recruiting for his Devils in Avalon and promising them a place where you never have to grow up. He conveniently fails to mention that Avalon’s monsters are very real, and the Devils must practice their war games or risk being tortured to death, eaten or worse. While early chapters are promising, this gothic fantasy stumbles on its own darkness. The devilishly amusing flashbacks to Peter’s origins don’t make up for the heavy-handed bloodshed, rampant violence and two-dimensional characters. It’s all fiendish monsters and desperate battles in this twisted, dark Neverland; the Disney Peter’s mirth and good humor are nowhere to be found.

    Dare I say it?  Another shocker.  I saw this book at the book store and when I found no others to purchase I went back and picked it up.  It had fine illustrations by Brom in the book so I though I’d try it.  It IS dark.  It IS horrifying and it is Good!

      The Meaning of Night : A Confession by  Michael Cox

    Starred Review. Resonant with echoes of Wilkie Collins and Charles Dickens, Cox’s richly imagined thriller features an unreliable narrator, Edward Glyver, who opens his chilling “confession” with a cold-blooded account of an anonymous murder that he commits one night on the streets of 1854 London. That killing is mere training for his planned assassination of Phoebus Daunt, an acquaintance Glyver blames for virtually every downturn in his life. Glyver feels Daunt’s insidious influence in everything from his humiliating expulsion from school to his dismal career as a law firm factotum. The narrative ultimately centers on the monomaniacal Glyver’s discovery of a usurped inheritance that should have been his birthright, the byzantine particulars of which are drawing him into a final, fatal confrontation with Daunt. Cox’s tale abounds with startling surprises that are made credible by its scrupulously researched background and details of everyday Victorian life. Its exemplary blend of intrigue, history and romance mark a stand-out literary debut. Cox is also the author of M.R. James, a biography of the classic ghost-story writer.

    Well now.. I sent for this book because I felt it fit for Carl’s RIP challenge.  It’s not the first time that I read something for RIP that I absolutely loved!  (re: The Thirteenth Tale/ Drood) And I hope it won’t be the last!  This and it’s sequel were really.. reallly… really good.

     

      The Glass of Time.. by: Michael Cox

    Starred Review. Set in 1876, Cox’s gripping second gothic thriller (after The Meaning of Night) follows the fortunes of 19-year-old orphan Esperanza Gorst, whose guardian charges her to go undercover as a lady’s maid. Without knowing precisely why she’s doing so, Gorst insinuates herself into the inner circle of Baroness Tansor, the fiancée of the preceding volume’s villain, Phoebus Daunt. The fake maid soon learns that her mistress has many secrets, and may, in fact, have been complicit in the death of a former servant. Cox excels at conveying his heroine’s conflict over deceiving her employer, especially after learning the role the lady played in her own difficult personal history. While readers unfamiliar with the first book will find themselves deeply engaged by the elegant descriptive prose, those with the benefit of the full context and nuances of The Meaning of Night will better appreciate this sequel.

    This book picks up about 20 yrs after The Meaning of Night and has some of the same characters.  I totally enjoyed both of these books and was deeply sad to learn that Michael Cox passed away last year and so there will be no more such books from him.

     

      Tamsin.. by: Peter S Beagle

    Like his enchanting The Last Unicorn, Beagle’s newest fantasy features characters so real they leap off his pages and into readers’ souls. Tamsin Willoughby, dead some 300 years, haunts ramshackle old Stourhead Farm in Dorset, England, an ancient 700-acre estate that 13-year-old Jenny’s new, English stepfather is restoring. Thoroughly American Jenny, miserable at being transplanted from New York City to rural Britain, finds a suffering kindred spirit in Tamsin, a ghost who is mourning Edric, a love she lost during Dorset’s punitive Bloody Assizes under King James II. Tamsin leads Jenny through an engrossing night world inhabited by an array of British spiritsAthe Black Dog, a braggart Boggart, ominous Oakmen, the shapeshifting Pooka and a marvelous mystical army-booted Earth Mother. To save Tamsin and gentle Edric from eternal torment, Jenny faces evil personified: demonic Judge Jeffries, who sentenced hundreds of people to brutal execution during the Assizes. Slipping effortlessly between Jenny’s brash 1999 lingo, the raw primeval dialect of ancient Dorset and Tamsin’s exquisite Jacobean English, Beagle has created a stunning tale of good battling evil, of wonder and heartbreak and of a love able to outlast the worst vileness of the human heart. Fantasy rarely dances through the imagination in more radiant garb than this.

    Unfortunately, it took me some time to get to read this book… What can I say? It was another totally enjoyable read!!  I think I am rather stuck back in old England where most of these fine stories seem to be centered around.  So if you want a good old ghost story.. this would be the one to grab!

    Least Liked:  (hard choice there were none I really disliked)..

     

    We Bought a Zoo: by  Benjamin Mee (and only because I felt there could have been more to the story)

    When writer Mee’s father died, his mother needed to sell the house and move to a smaller place—so the entire family decided to buy a zoo. Mee’s sister had seen an advertisement for the sale of the Dartmoor Wildlife Park, a small zoo in Devonshire in the southwest of England. After a long series of negotiations, licensing snafus, and the inevitable family conflicts, the author, his mother, and his brother moved into the park’s rundown house and started running a zoo. Though they owned the grounds and its 200 animals outright, they still had to pay 20 staff members, feed the animals, and upgrade the grounds. During the first week, a jaguar escaped, and the author and his brother began to realize what they’d gotten themselves into. Through eradicating the plague of rats, clearing out years of rubbish to reveal usable buildings, and battling with banks for operating expenses, the author and his staff gradually pulled the zoo back from the brink of closure. The emotional appeal of the zoo’s rescue is wonderfully limned in Mee’s practical, good-humored prose

    Like I said, this isn’t a bad book!.. It just felt like it could be a whole lot more.  It sure is an interesting prospect, and a true story but there just seemed to be something missing..or unfinished?   So on that basis alone I dubbed this book as the least enjoyed.

    I think it’s safe to say that my favorite new author for this year is Michael Cox.

    Although my overall reading did not do well this year (not even half of the year before) I am still happy with what I did read!

    The list below includes the book I am reading now because I know I will finish it before December is over…

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    I Need a Cure!… NOW!

    Well, I took some books to the used book store today also.. then came home with MORE books! 

    I cannot believe I do this, I am at the point of having to get rid of books I’ve read that I want to KEEP!

    This last trip when I gave them books I didn’t expect to take anything home!…but I am actually very happy that I did.

    First, I got these two “paperbacks”  ..Folly  by Laurie R King was 1.00 and the biography of Helen Keller by Dorothy Herrmann, was 3.00..

    so far so good huh?… ummm, then I found some hardbacks..

    One is David Copperfield a 1980 publication with illustrations..  it was 5.00  I have a paperback of this book, (which I haven’t read yet)  but the hardback is in such good condition I couldn’t resist.. look and see what you think.

    Then I spotted two more hardbacks… (geez, I’ve got to get a life!)       I bet you can’t read the titles.. they came in their own covers! the spines were a bit soiled… but… the rest of the covers were in great condition

    Very good condition… one drawback.. they have a musty odor… but I bet you want to know what they are!.. (look below)..  publish date  1938!!  and the pages are neat, clean (though smell musty) and Illustrated!!! 

    (I didn’t think anything got published before “I” was born!  Heck, my birth certificate is carved in stone!)

    curious as to the price???

    3.00 each!!!  I just couldn’t leave them there! 

    I am thrilled with them! I might actually read them since the print is a  lot more legible.   But if you know a way to kill the musty odor do let me know lol..  (all this and they will most likely not be read for some time!)

    After I  posted about the other books I bought a few days ago  I panicked at posting these!! 

    I feel like I’ve gone insane!! 

    I have to bring a bunch more  books to them just to make room for these!  I am at the point I am ridding myself of books I want to Keep!!!  I am not leaving this house for a week nor will I go to amazon!  If anyone posts a review of a good book I will scream!!!!

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of the blogreaders and those I follow for doing all they can to support my addiction!! 

      

    *I was to go to a white Formal affair, but when they brought the white jacket I noticed it had these very l-o-o-o-o-o-ng arms… *

    *They’re coming to take me away, hey hey..*

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