Mini Minithon End – The Sadness and Birdman

Thank you, Tikabelle, for a fabulous minithon, which though I missed half of it, was still super fun and I can hardly wait until next time.   Thanks, everyone, who stopped by or who tweeted, including the guy who was just happy about his new Mini Cooper.  I will continue this mini-madness on my own for what remains of the evening as I’m really into the Goldfinch.   It was a shame I had to leave you all.

And especially a shame because I wasn’t all that keen on the movie I went to see:  Birdman.  94% on Rotten Tomatoes and I was left with a sort of, um, okay, I guess I don’t really get it feeling.  I don’t want to tell you all the end, so I can’t go into that, but I was nonplussed.   Michael Keaton plays an actor who was famous as Birdman 20 years previously who is now trying to they say resurrect his career by opening his own adaptation of Raymond Carver on Broadway.  Sorry, even if it works, that’s a really different career than playing a superhero in movie blockbusters.   All the actors are really good.  And it has a lot of good scenes, but somehow I’m not clear in the end on what any of it meant.  It’s a strange combination of realism and fantasy that may or may not be all in his head.   Different scenes seem to indicate different things.  I dunno.   Overall, I guess I’d rather have been home reading, tweeting and snarfing mini m&ms.

Anyway, back to the book.   I’m at that horrible point where I want to finish it, but have too many pages for one night.  I have little doubt I will stay up too late trying and failing to finish it.

Mini-Minithon

I even got up early to post so I would miss as little as possible.  Okay, that’s not why.  I got a phone call and it didn’t seem worth going back to bed.  But I was unable to keep this eight hour span free, so I’ll leave at some point and maybe try to make up for it afterward.  I bought a pile of mini junk food I can’t show you because my camera cable has wandered off, but it includes mini M&Ms, mini Triscuits and mini Pretzels coated in Butterfinger candy.  Who knew there was so much mini junk out there?

And for the mini-reading:

goldfinchcoverscarletpimpernelcovermortedarthurcover

The Goldfinch is a mini-bird.  A scarlet pimpernel is a mini-flower.  There is nothing mini about Morte.  Except perhaps the number of people who are reading it.  I’m part of a mini-readalong.   In a great burst of effort, I finished book IX, which is also the end of volume 1 and should count as a chunkster by itself, but alas, does not.  Apparently Book X is like a doorstop itself.   If I make it through that, the rest is cake.   I may need more coffee.

Rankings, Minithon and Mort Report

I was trying to figure out how to log on to my blog at another computer and a search revealed my Alexa rating – my global ranking is 22,350,244.   When I’m rich and famous, I’ll try to remember all you little people who got me there.  Up, up, up the ziggurat, lickety-split.   I have no idea if this is out of 22,350,244 sites or a billion or what.   I was just surprised to find I have a rank.  I’m also pretty sure all the people I visit and who visit me are higher up the rankings, so perhaps I should put a lid on any ‘little people’ comments.  Thank you, dear readers, both of you, for making this possible!

MiniThon No Date

Reading the Bricks is hosting a minithon for the lazy.  I am highly qualified for this mini-thon, I might even be over-qualified, but I’m hoping they won’t kick me out because of that.   This Saturday, the plan is to eat mini-foods, read mini-books, and…  well, that’s it really.   Only 8 hours instead of 24, so totally doable.

And then there’s Mort.   Ah, Mort.  I keep wanting to throw in the towel.  I was supposed to report days ago on the second section which is supposed to be books VII – X, I think.   I believe I’ve now made it to IX.   Sir Tristram turns out to be (so far, anyway) quite the jerk himself.   Telling La Beale Isoud he loved her forever, handing her to his uncle Mark, and marrying the very next Isoud he meets.   Oh, but he doesn’t consumate the marriage, so that’s supposed to somehow make it all right instead of being even jerkier, which is how I see it.   Isoud de Beaux Mains can’t have a real husband because she’s married to Tristram who only kisses her because he actually loves someone else.   How much would that suck?   I forget all the other jerky things he did.   That’s the problem with this book.   It’s sooo repetitive and sooo long that even though I read it within the last few weeks, I don’t remember what Tristram did.    I should probably write about it more often, but then, who would want to read this?   It’s just like Rimmer giving the turn-by-turn description of his game of Risk, but instead of rolling a 2 and a 6, Sir La Cote Male Taile feutres his spear and knocks someone to the ground.   I did acquire, however, the illustrations Aubrey Beardsley did for Mort in 1892 or so.   All the illustrations are by themselves in a big book.   Might have been nicer to have the illustrations with the work, but this was cheap.   It is gorgeous.   I’ve hardly looked at it, so maybe if I do that a bit more it will inspire me to carry on.   After all, I’m almost halfway through this sucker.   Surely I’ve come too far to quit now?

how-la-beale-isoud-nursed-sir-tristram.jpg!Blog

A Pocket Full of Rye

Time flies when you’re not posting.   I decided to take a break from looooong books and read Agatha Christie’s Pocket Full of Rye because it begins with P like Phinnea and that’s one of my challenge items for the Lucky 14 challenge.   So I did that.   And it’s a good one.   I knew pretty early a good chunk of the solution, but can’t really take credit for this because I might have read it in my teens.   The reason I started keeping track of my reading in my teens was because I read an Agatha Christie twice and was annoyed about that.   I’m not a re-reader (or I wasn’t) and if I did, I wanted it to be on purpose.   I’d love to find that notebook again.   I’m sure it’s packed away somewhere.

pocketfullaudiocover

This is not the one I read, but I love this cover.

Obnoxious business man is poisoned and in his pocket is found a bunch of rye.   What can it mean?   Christie was fond of using nursery rhymes and other poetry for her work, though I don’t actually remember the others well enough to know if they formed an integral part of the mystery or not.   I’m inclined to think not.   Aside from the device of the nursery rhyme there’s nothing special about this one.  Standard Christie – small group of suspects, most with a motive, a mansion, and breakfast served in silver chafing dishes.  I think it might be Dame Agatha’s fault I want to live like that.   Anyway, good story that begins with a P.

This was my cover:

pocketfullcover

Not bad, but why do people upload such tiny pictures?   Yes, I could take one myself, but it hardly seems worthwhile.

The Challenge of Challenges

With two months left in the year, I’m trying to figure out if I can finish all the challenges I signed up for.   I believe, after careful consideration, there is a small chance.   If I hadn’t done R.I.P.  or the Morte D’Arthur Readalong the chance would be much better.   One particular problem is finding a good Historical Fiction classic I want to read.   I had originally thought of Twenty Years After, the sequel to The Three Musketeers, but it’s almost 800 pages.   Is Morte D’Arthur historical fiction?   I’m thinking that the historical part is not so much.  And sadly Seven Gables was not set sufficiently far in the past.   Hawthorne’s past, that is.

I had thought the TBR challenge was a complete washout when I realized I had been ignoring all the mysteries I’ve read this year that I owned before 1/1/14.   Quite a few actually:

Mrs. McGinty’s Dead!

A Murder is Announced

Crooked House

Green for Danger

Dead Man’s Folly

There is a Tide

Utz

The Case is Closed

&

Unexpected Night

That’s 9 and I had two previously listed so I only need one more.

Have been hammering away at Morte D’Arthur.   Actually, it just feels like hammering.   I can’t read more than 10-15 pages of the darned thing.   It’s very repetitive:  one knight sees another, they feutre their spears, they brast their spears and shields, they lightly avoid their horses and then pound away with their swords for a few hours.   Finally, one of them gives up, dies or they have a chat.   Half the time they figure out they shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place.    Is this why gang signs were invented?    Even though there are members of the Round Table, it doesn’t really seem to stop them from fighting all the time with everyone.   Then they have a party in which they all joust.   Thank God, we invented television.   Occasionally something different happens and I get excited enough to read 20 pages, but this is seldom.  Still, I’m working at it.   Falling further behind every day…

RIP IX Finale – This House is Haunted

Sadly, This House is Haunted is not the sort of book you want to end your Imbibing Peril with.   It starts off pretty well, Dickens era London, a young school teacher’s father dies suddenly and she decides to take a job as a governess in a country house.   Things are odd from the get-go as she is never interviewed, just given the job.   No details are given such as how many children there are – and yet she takes the job.   Well, of course, she does.   Otherwise there’s no book.   And that’s one of the problems.   Eliza’s personality never really gels for me and there are a number of times where the only reason things happen is because otherwise there’d be no book.  She asks the driver questions on the way to the house and then flat out refuses to believe him.  There are times she just seems really slow and others where I don’t know what she’s thinking even though she’s the sole narrator.

houseishaunted

The ghost attacks immediately although she doesn’t realize it immediately.   No one will tell her anything about the family at first and finally they do and they act like they were never hiding anything.    I found not just Eliza’s personality unsatisfying — everyone was.  The children, the lawyer, the friends, the creepy servants — all of them somehow lacking.   It might be just that they’re not very deep or detailed.    The back story is supposed to be horrifying, but not caring about anyone, it’s just an unbelievable story.   And the house is supposed to be falling apart although it’s only been about a year since the unsatisfying horrible events.   I guess that supernatural wear and tear takes its toll.   And someone talks about holding on to a stone beam on the roof at one point — didn’t think such a thing existed.   And generally aren’t beams under the roof?

Cliché plot, uncompelling characters, I would say don’t bother.   Pretty sure you can find a better ghost story out there.

Update:  Just found this review which puts it so well:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/books/review/john-boynes-this-house-is-haunted.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

But aside from this, I enjoyed this R.I.P. and thank Carl for hosting!   Hangsaman, flawed but compelling, and Supernatural Enhancements, 75% highly entertaining, were both good reads.   I was overall disappointed by Seven Gables, but if you don’t expect it to be too creepy and just enjoy the style, you probably won’t be.   I really did like Hepzibah and the others, which I can’t say about anyone in Haunted.  Hope you had a good R.I.P. IX and a Happy Halloween!    If not, join us next September when I hope we will do the Imbibe again!

lavinia-portraitRIP350

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQlaMCWuRyg

The House of the Seven Gables Readalone Finale

Yesterday I did what I thought it would take another week to do: finished Seven Gables.    It’s not that long a book, but it took me about seven weeks.   That’s one week per gable!    H7G is actually a lot less grim than I was expecting.   It’s got a few creepy moments, particularly the opening death, but overall it’s a long wait between creepy moments and plot developments.    It opens with old Hepzibah Pyncheon, one of the last remaining Pyncheons – an old and unhappy New England family.   The unhappiness goes back two hundred years to when the first Pyncheon stole land from his neighbor and helped get him hanged for a wizard.   Ever since then Pyncheons have done now better now worse, but mostly worse.

HepzibahPyncheon

Hepzibah’s a crazy cat lady without cats.   The neighbors avoid her and she them, but she’s not without gumption and facing destitution she decides rather than taking money from her hated cousin Jaffrey, she will open a shop.   Hepzibah’s not really a people person and her shop seems doomed to failure except for the arrival of the perfect miss Phoebe from the country.   Phoebe’s a ray of sunshine and competent.   Her never-failing good cheer and industry make the shop a going concern.   Then arrives Hepzibah’s brother Clifford who has been away for a long, long time.   We don’t know exactly where or why until near the end, but Clifford is basically now incapable of anything except enjoying a cup of coffee, a seat in the garden and now and then nearly throwing himself out a window in a panic.   In addition to these three is a daguerreotypist named Holgrove.

The book goes on rather a long time describing what passes for domestic bliss under these circumstances, now and then pausing to fill in a bit of the past family history or reveal some clue and it’s not until two thirds of the way that things start to move a little faster.   It’s not without some charm.  The characters, except the Judge, are all likable and I was certainly rooting for them over him the whole time.   I was hoping for a bit more excitement at the end, but it’s just not that kind of book.   The plot is rather simple and while there’s some suspense near the end, Hawthorne never lets the action getting in the way of waxing lyrical about the weather or the Italian organ grinder.  I would say if you want a good story, go read the Moonstone or Bleak House instead.

Sadly, I don’t think this meets any of my myriad challenges.

Idle thoughts on books and movies. Some new, but mostly old.

Idle thoughts on books and movies. Some new, but mostly old.

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