Well, maybe.   I finished the 4th book which is all I’m challenged to, but I may go on.   It does seem to fit my mood.   The 4th book was the 3rd in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s series on the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  According to the author you can read them in any order, but I can’t imagine reading the Prisoner of Heaven first.   It would spoil so much in the other two.   Although I can’t remember the others all that well, it seemed like every section of Prisoner gave away what happened in the earlier two books.   I enjoyed Prisoner of Heaven though it was not as gripping as Shadow of the Wind or The Angel’s Game.  Still pretty gothic.   And I love the books intertwine with the characters lives.  This one centers on Daniel Sempere and Fermín.   I really should read the other two again, but I’m such a slow reader it would take ages and there are new things to read.

I’m also counting Prisoner for the European challenge.  Ruiz Zafón is Spanish and the book is set in Barcelona, so it’s my first book for that challenge.   It does not, however, count toward the Century of Books.

R.I.P. VIII – Haunting of Lamb House

My 3rd book in the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge was The Haunting of Lamb House by Joan Aiken.   The story of Toby Lamb and his sister Alice, the difficulties they suffered and ghosts.   Years later, the house is lived in by Henry James and E.F. Benson, both writers of ghost stories and influenced by the ghosts in the house.   The first half of the book tells Toby and Alice’s story through Toby’s eyes.  The next section is written in somewhat Jamesian prose and tells of James’ years in Lamb House and the influence the house had on his life.  In the final section, things get more exciting with far more in the way of ghostly manifestations, but that’s only in the last 30 pages.   Not sure I really recommend this book, though it is pretty short.  


I have found another challenge I think I can manage:  5 books by different authors from 5 different European sovereign states by the end of next January.    That’s only 1 a month.   I should be able to manage that.


Especially as my next book for RIP VIII is set in Spain.


Also there’s a read-along of Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy with a plan to read about 100-140 pages a month, which also seems do-able.





Peril of the Short Story



I did not expect to do this Peril because I really don’t care for short stories.   They’re so… short.    But having read We Have Always Lived in the Castle earlier this month, I had thought there was something about ‘hundreds and thousands’ in it, but there wasn’t.   So, what was I remembering?   Upon googling it, it turns out I was remembering (at least may have been) the story The Tuesday Night Club – the first Jane Marple story.   I may have read this around the same time as Castle and it could be why I had conflated them in my head.  I have the book, so I read the story.  A clever idea, a quick read.   A bit too quick.  There’s barely anything to go on and it’s over.   Maybe I’ll feel more satisfied if I read the rest of them.  Even so, it was more satisfying than the second Agatha Raisin.   I read the first page and a half of the Vicious Vet and Agatha is at her most annoying having attempted to stalk her neighbor in the Bahamas, but failing because he was warned in time and went to Egypt instead.

RIP VIII – Book 2

I actually finished Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House last night and figured I would think about it and write something this morning, but I couldn’t think of anything intelligent or amusing, so I left it for tonight.   I still don’t really have anything to say.  It was a very fast read.   I don’t think it’s as good as We Have Always Lived in the Castle.   If I were staying in a big old house and those things happened, I’d be scared to death, but they wouldn’t.  I think I’m non-plussed.   I think I prefer my ghosts to have more solid identities and desires.    A clear agenda.   Or one that becomes clear with time.   I was amused when Mrs. Montague showed up with her planchette.   I don’t get why when they found the creepy book in the library nobody talked about the fact it was apparently only addressed to one of the daughters.   Which daughter was it?   And why set up a ghost that stole things that then proceeds not to?   It was just so inconsistent.    Which I suppose an insane house would be.   But still.


R.I.P. VIII – Book 1

For my first Readers Imbibing Peril http://www.stainlesssteeldroppings.com/r-eaders-i-mbibing-p-eril-viii book, I revisited Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle, a book I picked up the first time in junior high, I think, not my usual sort of thing at all, then or now.  A bad choice because I couldn’t stop reading it and was up until almost 4 finishing it.   Now I’ve started The Haunting of Hill House, but I’m not going to read it at bedtime.

Castle is exactly the sort of story I hate.  Small-minded, small town people tormenting others because they don’t fit in.  And yet, for some reason, I just kept on reading and I’d have to say, enjoyed it.   I had forgotten most of it.   This is the cover I remember:


I sometimes have difficulty suspending my disbelief and the fact that they get no mail was a problem for me.   They seemed to have all their utilities running, but no means of paying for them.   Now, I realize we aren’t meant to take this story literally and I’m sure there are many other problems with what’s left of the family living as they do, but I think this bugs me because it would have been so easy to fix.  But if you can look past that, an eminently readable book.  Try not to lose too much sleep over it.

The Pursuit of Love and Fear

Have finished Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love.   A witty book, a pleasure to read, but it is a little surreal now to read of young, upper class women between the wars whose whole lives and thoughts were on getting husbands from their teenage years.   And stranger still to read about the Mitfords.   Three fascists, one communist, one socialist and two not terribly political children.   Unity, in fact, stalked Hitler until she became his girlfriend, essentially.   She shot herself in despair when the war broke out.   How insane is that?   

Excited to realize I’ve ordered a book which will fit in quite well with RIP VIII – The Haunting of Lamb House.   Lamb House was the actual home of Henry James and E.F. Benson, both of whom wrote ghost stories among other things.   Joan Aiken has written a ghost story including both men.

Also remembered reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson when I was in junior high, I think.   I wasn’t really bothered by it and I don’t know if that’s because it’s not the sort of story that scares me or I was too young to get it.   So, I’m reading it again.   I was a bit worried because I had just started Lord Jim before finishing Pursuit of Love and without getting far in that was now starting Castle and this is how I go along starting many books and not finishing many, which I would kind of like to stop.    But Pursuit of Love is done.   Perhaps blogging will help me finish more of what I start.



Here’s a somewhat easier challenge Readers Imbibing Peril is in its 8th year and it seems pretty easy –  4 books that fit into the following categories:

Dark Fantasy

Or anything dark and moody like the above.   This is broad enough that even I can find 4 books that fit.  (I avoid horror, thriller, suspense for the most part.)   And two months to do it in (Sept-Oct).   I would join the group read of The Historian, but I already read it.

A Century of Books

A number of bloggers have challenges to get people to read more or to read different things from their usual.  One that I really like is


One book per year of the 20th century.   (You could, of course, choose another century, but I imagine it gets harder the further back you go.)  I’m sure it would take me at least two years.   If I started now, with Mitford’s Pursuit of Love that would be 1945 taken care of.


Hmm.   This reading for 24 hours is not easy.   I read maybe 5 hours out of 24.   No, it can’t have been 5 as I only read 82 pages which is pathetic even for me.   If I read 100 pages an hour like some of these bloggers I would have finished The Pursuit of Love.   Obviously, more training is required.

The Quiche of Death

Some people post every hour during a readathon, carefully tracking pages read, minutes read.    I doubt I could keep track of minutes read.   I read for an hour, but I did a few other things, too.   No idea how many minutes that was of actual reading, but it was the last 23 pages of the first Agatha Raisin mystery.    And I’m definitely disappointed.   Agatha is rather silly and stupid.   I guess it’s supposed to be funny the policeman dragging her out the window by her hair, but it was decidedly not amusing me.   Plus she microwaved an entire frozen chocolate cake (which she’d stolen) – how would that turn out?   Awful, I should think.   I’ll probably read the next one, as they came as a set and they might get better.   Trouble is, my taste in mysteries was formed by Agatha Christie – I want a detective who investigates, who’s intelligent, who is at no point in mortal danger.    I also like them cozy – no rape, no torture, minimal drugs, certainly no trafficking, but not too cozy.   The Carsley Ladies’ Society is a bit too cozy.