Archive for August, 2011


  Oh Yeah! Oh Yeah!  RIP is here! Oh Yeah! Doin’ my happy dance!



Finally!  It’s time for Carl’s RIP Challenge!!!

Briefly put..in Carl’s own words:

Every September 1st through October 31st for the last 5 years I have hosted the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge, affectionately known as the R.I.P. Challenge. I began this reader event, I blinked, and now I am hosting this for the 6th time. Wow, that is so hard to believe.

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Dark Fantasy.

The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.

It’s still incredible to me that I have come such a long way from not reading ANY of these type books to anxiously awaiting Carl’s announcement that indeed it is time to begin the RIP Challenge!!!

This year I am choosing Peril the First… which is to read any 4 books in the categories listed above.


Carl does enjoy when we make a list of books that we have to choose from (not that it matters if we choose from them or not).  And I love going around looking at all the lists myself.. it always makes for a longer wish list.. I am sure Amazon love’s Carl for doing these challenges!

Anyway.. here’s a look see all most of the books I can choose from:

1.  Mina by Marie Kiraly
2.  Irish Ghosts and Haunting’s by Michael Scott
3.  Oscar Wilde & the Candlelight Murders by Gyles Brandreth
4.  A Fine and Private Place by Peter S Beagle
5.  Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
6.  20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill
7.  What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman
8.  What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen
9.  The Edinburgh Dead by Brian Ruckley
10. The Mammoth Book of Victorian & Edwardian Ghost stories  edited by Richard Dalby
11. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Randsom Riggs
12. Graveminder by Melissa Marr
13. The Map of Time by Felix J Palma
14. The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
15. The Bone Magician by F.G. Higgins
16. Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Robertson

Sixteen Books!.. eeeee-gads! There was a time when I didn’t have one book to my name that would fit any of Carl’s categories!

Then.. just in case I don’t feel like one of those I have a few others …

In Reserve:


I love the old two column writing!..



1.  The Works of Conan Doyle by Conan Doyle
2.  The Legend of Sleep Hollow by Washington Irving
3.  Grimm Fairy Tales by Grimm
4.  Bleak House by Charles Dickens
5.  Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
6.  Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
7.  Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
8. Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
9. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

And then If all else fails, and I feel like my reads are not hitting the spot  I will fall back on two of my all time favorites:

1.  Drood by Dan Simmons &
2.  The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

It’s time for RIP folks!!!…..

Time to be Happy!!!…………………

come join the fun over at Stainless Steel Droppings!

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New Life at the Pond

Three new *chicklets*..

(Moe..Larry..& Curly..”Hey, where’d everybody go?” )

Small TriColor Heron …*fishin’ *

Last nights sunset..

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The B F G by Roald  Dahl…(for his daughter Olivia.)

Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Puffin (August 16, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0142410381

Illustrated by Quentin Blake

Amazon.com Review

Evidently not even Roald Dahl could resist the acronym craze of the early eighties. BFG? Bellowing ferret-faced golfer? Backstabbing fairy godmother? Oh, oh … Big Friendly Giant! This BFG doesn’t seem all that F at first as he creeps down a London street, snatches little Sophie out of her bed, and bounds away with her to giant land. And he’s not really all that B when compared with his evil, carnivorous brethren, who bully him for being such an oddball runt. After all, he eats only disgusting snozzcumbers, and while the other Gs are snacking on little boys and girls, he’s blowing happy dreams in through their windows. What kind of way is that for a G to behave?

The BFG is one of Dahl’s most lovable character creations. Whether galloping off with Sophie nestled into the soft skin of his ear to capture dreams as though they were exotic butterflies; speaking his delightful, jumbled, squib-fangled patois; or whizzpopping for the Queen, he leaves an indelible impression of bigheartedness.

My *adopted* son Chris sent me this book. (and I am thankful for such a caring and giving son!)  After reading Roald’s biography I felt I needed to read more of his books. I had long ago read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach to my sons when they were young. (back in the stone age!)

Had this book been out when they were still young I would have loved to read it to them.  It’s a great book to read to young children! 

I loved the speech that Roald gave to the BFG.  It wasn’t quite correct and it made it all the funnier because of it.  I am after all I am a *human bean*..:o)

The amazon review says it all, I couldn’t say more about it.

If you have a young child or if you have a young grandchild this book is for you and you will always be glad that I let you know about it!!

I am guessing that no matter what his life was like (and it wasn’t all peaches and creme)for Mr Dahl, that a big  part of Roald loved children and loved never quite growing up.

This is a super book.  Get it and give it to some child for any reason you can find… they will thank you for it.

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The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Washington Square Press(March 3, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1416550534

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, April 2008: In her cinematic debut novel, Kate Morton immerses readers in the dramas of the Ashbury family at their crumbling English country estate in the years surrounding World War I, an age when Edwardian civility, shaken by war, unravels into the roaring Twenties. Grace came to serve in the house as a girl. She left as a young woman, after the presumed suicide of a famous young poet at the property’s lake. Though she has dutifully kept the family’s secrets for decades, memories flood back in the twilight of her life when a young filmmaker comes calling with questions about how the poet really died–and why the Ashbury sisters never again spoke to each other afterward. With beautifully crafted prose, Morton methodically reveals how passion and fate transpired that night at the lake, with truly shocking results. Her final revelation at the story’s close packs a satisfying (and not overly sentimental) emotional punch.

I read this book about 2 years ago.. I can’t say I was overly thrilled with it but then I had just come off of reading The Thirteenth Tale which I loved, loved, loved.   So I gave the books a second chance when I found it for .50 cents.

This time I like it a lot better.  It still doesn’t live up to The Thirteenth Tale but I did like it better and I liked both of her other books since this one… (another reason I have it a second chance)

It’s a tale of secrets that people in the service of the rich learned to keep.  A house with a family filled with secrets.  There were secrets of paternity, of love  and feelings of failure and disappointment and even a sub story of a love story that made me smile in the end.

All of it told by the elderly maid, Grace.  The story was mainly about the family that lived at Riverton, but it was also Grace’s story.  How at 14 she began working at Riverton and worked her way up to being a personal maid to Hannah, the oldest daughter of the house.

Over years secrets were kept and secrets were discovered… and in the end Grace passes on those secrets … but you will have to read it to find out what the secrets are and who they got passed on to.

I guess what I learned most was that it’s really hard to give a book my full attention when coming off of one of those rare, but extremely special, reading experience that one gets now and then. You know, one of those that you can’t say enough about and keep telling everyone that they have to read it… yeah those books.

So I am glad I gave this book a second chance.. it’s a good read.  There are secrets to be learned while reliving old England in a time when the rich were the rich and the servants were rarely anything but servants.

I look forward to Kate Morton’s next book, whatever it is.

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The pictures will tell the tale….

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Following Links

Michael Scott (of Nicholas Flamel fame) put a link up showing Puzzlewood Forest in Coleford, England.  It is supposedly the forest that gave Tolkien some ideas…. and if you check it out you will see why!  Fantastic place.. I must go there one day! …for as it inspired Tolkien as Middle Earth..so does it look much like my very own Kesterwood Forest!




From there I followed a link that took me to sculptures by David Goode’s site… gotta love his work!!  If you don’t like his work you don’t like Fantasy!


I want one of everything he’s made!!!..doh!  ok ok so I’ll settle for one.. as a pressie from anyone who wants to buy me one!

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A Hot Day at the Pond

Egret and Ducks

…below: the big Heron

Oh.. and I guess I should mention the new *tenant* in the pond..

I haven’t seen it out of the water yet but it’s not small like the last one! .. but not near full grown either.. big enough for all our birds to  watch out!

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Mrs. Tom Thumb

Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin.

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press (July 26, 2011)
ISBN-10: 0385344155

This is the second book I have read by Melanie Benjamin.  The first being Alice I Have Been. 

Without writing another word I will say: I liked them both!

Advance praise for The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb
“Benjamin handles the era of mid-nineteenth-century America like a native, telling a walloping good story about a tiny person with the soul of a giant. The lovely Lavinia Bump once again comes alive, and we’re all the richer because of it.”—Ellen Bryson,

“Vinnie Bump is one of the most engaging characters to come along in a while. Nineteenth-century women had few options; Vinnie had fewer yet. ..Johanna Moran,

“Lavinia Warren was only thirty-two inches tall, but in Melanie Benjamin’s The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb she soars above the tumult of Gilded Age America. Benjamin makes her a woman of courage and refinement with an itch for adventure and ambitions that far outstrip her size. I enjoyed every minute I spent with Vinnie in this exuberant, absorbing, elegantly written novel.”—Carol Wallace,

“By turns heart-rending and thrilling, this big-hearted book recounts a fictionalized life of this most extraordinary of women in prose that is lush and details that are meticulously researched. I loved this book.”—Sara Gruen,

“Melanie Benjamin’s striking novel about the diminutive Lavinia Warren Bump, one of P. T. Barnum’s ‘oddities,’ shows that love and desire, strength and ambition, come in all sizes. Mrs. Tom Thumb brings out the humanity in all of us.”—Sandra Dallas,

“Melanie Benjamin has created a compelling heroine, whose dramatic and poignant story will capture the reader’s heart to the last page.”—Stephanie Cowell,

As I mentioned above, this is the 2nd book of Melanie Benjamin’s that I have read.  She has a style of writing that is so easy to read that it’s hard to put her book down for very long.

Although this is a fictional account of Lavinia’s life you feel you are reading an action Biography of her.  I would not have thought that such a book would be all that interesting ..but I was wrong.  I really enjoyed this book every bit as much as “Alice I Have Been”.  Both, fictional tales of women of interest.  Melanie Benjamin has done an excellent job of both.

I do have to say though.. I wish there had been more about a minor character in the book:  Sylvia the Giantess.  She was in the first part of the book but once Vinnie had parted with Sylvia she was only mentioned once towards the end.  I may have to see if I can find anything else that might tell me more of Sylvia, the Giantess.

All things said.. this is a very enjoyable and easy read.  I hope Melanie Benjamin does more such books at the two I have already read!

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The Moonstone

The Moonstone by Wilke Collins.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications (October 29, 2002)
ISBN-10: 0486424510

From Wikipedia

The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie Collins is a 19th-century British epistolary novel, generally considered the first detective novel in the English language. The story was originally serialized in Charles Dickens’ magazine All the Year Round. The Moonstone and The Woman in White are considered Wilkie Collins’ best novels. Besides creating many of the characteristics of detective novels, The Moonstone also represented Collins’ social opinions by his treatment of the Indians and the servants in the novel. Collins adapted The Moonstone for the stage during 1877, but the production was performed for only two months.

Brash Statement: I have come to the conclusion that I like Wilke Collins writing above the very famous Charles Dickens!

What made me wait so long to read this book after I had read The Woman in White and enjoyed it way more then I ever thought I would!?    No other reason then it was a paperback with not the largest printing I’ve seen in a paperback. *sigh*..  

So.. I finally decided to tackle it and what did I find?… I found I couldn’t put it down for very long!  I was limited on how much or how long I could read the print but  as soon as I felt my eyes had rested I had the book back on my lap opened to where I had left off!

I really REALLY liked this book! (and I really REALLY like The Woman in White also).

Like Dickens, Wilke wrote some fabulous characters to weave through the mystery of the stolen Diamond, the Moonstone.   There were twist and turns, there was a love story, and there were surprises and intrigue!  What more can one person ask ?

I really don’t want to give anything away, but I can say that I think anyone who picks up this book to read a mystery taken place back in 1948.. well.. you won’t be disappointed .

If someone had told me that I would become a Wilke Collins Fan, even only a few years ago, I would have laughed at the statement… but a fan I have become.

I have enjoyed both the books I have read of his and now I am on a quest for find a copy of No Name that the print might be decent enough for me to read..(so far I’ve only heard of it in paperback and I am keeping an eye out for an old used hb copy.  If you hear of one let me know~!)

For now, I will say that the Moonstone should go on any reading list that likes “Victorian mysteries”… ’nuff said.

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