Caramellunacy's TBR Excavations - 2021

Discussão2021 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Caramellunacy's TBR Excavations - 2021

Editado: Nov 12, 2021, 4:45 am

Greetings excavation enthusiasts!
After being on hiatus for quite some time, I am happy to report that we have secured the backing to reopen the digsite at Mt. TBR! Given current difficulties, the initial goal for the excavation will be low in terms of artefacts, and I will separately be keeping track of de-accessioned artifacts under the Spoils Heap below.

As always, I appreciate all your support for these excavations. Happy digging!


Spoils Heap:

The Bad Luck Bride - Janna MacGregor
Flora in Love - Natasha Farrant
Tepper Isn't Going Out - Calvin Trillin
The Art Detective - Philip Mould (x2 as I found a duplicate)
Jane and the Genius of the Place - Stephanie Barron
The Springtime Mail Order Bride - Kit Morgan
Atonement - Ian McEwan
A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
A Taste of Something Sweet - Kit Morgan
The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper - Simon Leys
Once Upon a Marigold - Jean Ferris
Healing Crystals - Michael Gienger
Witch Way to Murder - Shirley Damsgaard
Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float - Sarah Schmelling
The Burning Times - Jeanne Kalogridis
Merry Meet - Isobel Bird
Wish Me Luck - James Heneghan
Secret Letters - Leah Scheier
Philomena - Martin Sixsmith
The Blue-Eyed Aborigine - Rosemary Hayes
Waking the Dead - Kylie Brant
Witchful Thinking - H.P. Mallory

Editado: Jan 3, 2022, 5:51 pm

Artefacts Excavated in 2021
Catalogue Note: Items listed in italics below are exhibits on loan (library) or ephemera (digital) and therefore are not being counted for purposes of this excavation as the intention is to work through the physical digsite. Items listed in bold are the exhibit of the month (favorite read).

1. The Bad Luck Bride - Janna MacGregor (The Cavensham Heiresses, Book 01)
2. Tepper Isn't Going Out - Calvin Trillin
Milkman - Anna Burns
3. Flora in Love - Natasha Farrant (The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby, Book 02)
4. Wish Me Luck - James Heneghan

5. The Art Detective - Philip Mould
Tweet Cute - Emma Lord
6. Jane and the Genius of the Place - Stephanie Barron (Jane Austen Mysteries, Book 04)
7. Atonement - Ian McEwan
You Have a Match - Emma Lord
8. The Springtime Mail Order Bride - Kit Morgan

9. Battle Dress - Amy Efaw
10. Kill Joy - Holly Jackson
Beach Read - Emily Henry
11. North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell
12. Secret Letters - Leah Scheier
13. The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper - Simon Leys

Loathe at First Sight
14. The Case of the Shipwrecked Tree - John R. Erickson
News of the World - Paulette Jiles
15. The Court of the Stone Children - Eleanor Cameron
16. Once Upon a Marigold - Jean Ferris
17. Witch Way to Murder - Shirley Damsgaard
Love Your Life - Sophie Kinsella
18. Just One Day - Gayle Forman

19. Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float - Sarah Schmelling
My Secret Life in Hut 6 - Mair & Gethin Russell-Jones
20. Dragon Bound - Thea Harrison
21. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle - Stuart Turton
His Bloody Project - Graeme McCrae Burnet

Delicious in Dungeon (Vol. 1) - Ryoko Kui
The Wallflower Code - Bethany Bennett
Hideaway - Nora Roberts
Pride & Prejudice (Graphic Novel) - adapted by Ian Edginton
Game On - Sara Whitney
The Bourne Identity - Robert Ludlum
The Gravity of Us - Phil Stamper
22. The Burning Times - Jeanne Kalogridis

23. I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara
24. Hot British Boyfriend - Kristy Boyce
Legacy - Nora Roberts
Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
All Stirred Up - Brianne Moore
A Time for Mercy - John Grisham

25. Philomena - Martin Sixsmith
26. Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo

27. The Pearl Thief - Elizabeth Wein
28. Merry Meet - Isobel Bird
29. The Blue-Eyed Aborigine - Rosemary Hayes
Camino Winds - John Grisham
Just One Damned Thing After Another - Jodi Taylor
The Library Book - Susan Orlean

30. The Book of Blood and Shadow - Robin Wasserman

Siege and Storm - Leigh Bardugo
Battle Royal - Lucy Parker

31. The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen - Syrie James
Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo

Alexandria: The Quest for the Lost City - Edmund Richardson
The Shadowy Horses - Susanna Kearsley
The Personal Librarian - Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray

32. Waking the Dead - Kylie Brant
33. The Box in the Woods - Maureen Johnson
Walk On Earth a Stranger - Rae Carson
34. Witchful Thinking - H.P. Mallory
35. Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach
The Sun Down Motel - Simone St. James

36. A Good Girl's Guide to Murder - Holly Jackson
37. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan
38. Good Girl, Bad Blood - Holly Jackson
39. Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys
Deep Blue - Adriana Anders (novella)
Whiteout - Adriana Anders
You - Caroline Kepnes
The Summer Job - Lizzy Dent

A Match Made for Thanksgiving - Jackie Lau
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

40. The Queen Bee of Bridgeton - Leslie DuBois
A Very British Murder - Lucy Worsley
41. As Good as Dead - Holly Jackson
The Feather Thief - Kirk Wallace Johnson
Where There's a Whisk - Sarah J. Schmitt

42. Catch a Falling Heiress - Laura Lee Guhrke
Happily Ever Afters - Elise Bryant
43. A Game of Birds and Wolves - Simon Parkin

Jan 9, 2021, 7:37 am

What a brilliant way to frame your reading! Welcome back!

Jan 9, 2021, 8:11 am

>3 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie! I have missed being here and having bookish conversations :)

Jan 9, 2021, 8:28 am

Hi Caramellunacy. Good to see you again. I always loved your nickname. It sounds delicious.

Good luck with the excavations. I hope you'll find some real gems!

Jan 9, 2021, 8:51 am

Welcome back! I love your digsite reports and hope for some valuable discoveries.

Jan 9, 2021, 10:01 am

>5 connie53:
>6 MissWatson:

Happy to see you both again! This is such a supportive group, which is such a help during these trying times.

Jan 9, 2021, 10:31 am

Hurray!! Welcome back!! I've missed your field notes. Looking forward to this year's dig!

Jan 9, 2021, 2:09 pm

>8 rabbitprincess:
Thank you! I am looking forward to following your book adventures as well!

Editado: Jan 18, 2021, 5:34 am

Dig Progress Report

Currently making my way through two books - Milkman by Anna Burns and (because reading about the Troubles before bed is not a good plan) The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor.

Milkman - I have only read the first chapter and am finding the tone of the narrator very engaging (she reminds me a bit of Mattie from True Grit and also the titular Eleanor from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) and I think many of us here can relate to her attempting to escape the conflict-ridden world around her by burying her head in her books. At times, I do find the style of using only generic terms rather than names for people, places, things verges on the gimmicky, which is irksome. I am intrigued, though, and will continue on.

The Bad Luck Bride - This is a tricky one for me - I really enjoy the couple's time together and how tender and caring they are with one another, but the hero is basically a big dummy and revenge-OBSESSED in a way that has given him complete blinders. We haven't had to deal with the fall-out of his CALLED IT FROM THE FIRST SCENE mistake yet, but it is coming and I just want that to be over with so we can go back to distributing baskets and hopefully hosting an orphans' ball...

Jan 10, 2021, 12:44 pm

>10 Caramellunacy: Love the report on your diggings, C.

Editado: Jan 13, 2021, 10:08 am

Artefact: The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor (The Cavensham Heiresses, Book 01)

Trove: Paperback

Status: Deaccessioned

Pemhill (an estate near Dorchester) & London, England, 1812

1 "Cursed" Daughter of a Duke
4 Former Fiances
5 Unfortunate Deaths
1 Traumatic Carriage Accident
1 Completely Understandable Terror of Thunderstorms

1 Misguided Elaborate Revenge Plot
1 Hot Dummy Marquess
1 Truly Stupid Wager
1 Marriage of Convenience

Intrusively Short Timeline
Several Betrayals of Trust
Insufficient Grovelling
1 HEA Based More on Pants Feelings Than Actual Affection

0 Balls for Orphans that were Promised in the Marriage Negotiations!!!

The Short Version
What should have been a quick read took me much longer than I had hoped because I kept *not* wanting to go back to the story to deal with the fall-out of the hero's truly obvious mistakes and otherwise bone-headed decisions. For the maybe 15 pages that they were together, they were tender and kind and lovely and then they (usually he) would do something stupid to betray what trust there was and we would start the cycle all over again. I had no real affection for any of the characters, and this was too exhausting to want a re-read.

Jan 13, 2021, 11:12 am

That sounds really awful!

Jan 13, 2021, 1:01 pm

I too am looking forward to your dig reports. Sounds like your ROOTs can only get better from here, but at least you were able to coin the phrase "hot dummy marquess", so that's something.
Good luck with your 2021 reading!

Jan 13, 2021, 5:39 pm

>13 connie53:
It wasn't actively awful - it would have been easier to just make a decision to get rid of it then! It was more bland and vaguely distasteful. Thankfully, I have finished with it now and can deaccession it next time I venture out of the house...

>14 mstrust:
I have to admit, Hot Dummy Marquess was not something I anticipated typing this year, but it was too apt in this case. My next read (Milkman) is challenging but holding my attention much better - I just also need to find a "happy book" for bedtime!

Jan 18, 2021, 5:26 am

Artefact: Tepper Isn't Going Out by Calvin Trillin
Trove: Paperback
Status: Seeking Parking

New York City, 1990s

1 Somewhat Eccentric Everyman
1 Dying Mailing List Advertising Business
Several (Legal) Parking Spots - Mostly Metered
1 Newspaper Column, which spirals into
General Advice-Seeking Hullabaloo

1 Order-Obsessed Mayor
1 Hapless Pollster
1 "Quirky" Mayoral Has-Been and Seeks-to-be-Again
1 Obscure City Ordinance, trotted out for
Several Citations, and
Escalating Court Cases

1 Twist Ending?

The Short Version:
A gentle, humorous tale of a 1990s New York, where a mailing-list advertiser whose entire job rests on his ability to make quirky connections has a similarly eccentric "hobby". He finds a spot to park his car, pays up at the meter, then sits there to read his newspaper - waving away any hovering hopefuls wondering if he is leaving said spot.

An uptight, increasingly paranoid/obsessive mayor determined to stand against the gathering "forces of disorder" begins a bit of a crusade to prevent this as increasingly crowds gather to sit in Tepper's front seat and tell him of their troubles.

Pleasant, warm and comfortable - a story with low stakes and no real villains, which feels quite cosy during these times. I'm trying to work out whether I feel betrayed by the possibility of the clever twist ending or whether I am just going to ignore it.

Jan 18, 2021, 11:56 am

I enjoyed that when I read it a few years ago. It's a good, easy story, and I like Trillin's company.

Jan 19, 2021, 6:08 am

>17 mstrust: Definitely, it was a really good choice for a distraction.

Editado: Jan 28, 2021, 1:40 pm

Artefact: Milkman by Anna Burns
Trove: Library
Status: Returned

Unnamed Place (but definitely Belfast), late 1970s

The Troubles
Tea of Allegiance
Tea of Betrayal
Rough "Justice"

Sexual Harassment
Difficulty Processing What Is/Isn't Harassment

19th Century Novels (Never the Dreaded 20th Century)
Detachment from Politics - Except Maybe Not

Ever-Present Danger
Judgmental Ma
Wee Sisters
The Real Milkman

0 Proper Names
Stream-of-Consciousness Musings
Unique Viewpoint with Clever Truths

The Not-So Short Version
This was difficult to read - both stylistically and due to content.

This book is deliberately uncomfortable - a sort of stream of consciousness weaving back and forth around the current story and the history and associations (and this I liked very much) with an interesting novel way of looking at things - a certain detached incisiveness that reminded me of Mattie from True Grit or Eleanor Oliphant. But also a lack of chapter breaks/ places to stop and process or escape the fever dream - and ultimately, an unsatisfying (for me)"ending" as the story seems to peter out as it abruptly stops while telling of something else that doesn't finish. Uncomfortable

It's also uncomfortable with its content - the narrator is being followed by a married man 20 years her senior with the intent that she become his mistress. He never touches her, but his constant presence, knowledge, the rumors spread have a terrible, numbing effect on her. As do her own musings about what he can actually be said to have done - musings that are all too prevalent and familiar in the #MeToo era.

All of this is even more uncomfortable as it feels pseudo-autobiographical - terrible incidents and small realities of day-to-day life in the Troubles. Specific books the narrator reads that seem to be chosen not so much to echo the plot or provide insight into the heroine, but perhaps because of memories? Specific reactions to particular music, film stars, all placing a time and date stamp on the story while the narrator shies away from names and dates as if from a still-raw wound. Perhaps projecting and perhaps a key part of the power of the read, but uncomfortable all-the-same.

I'm glad that I read it, but I am equally glad to be leaving the district and getting away from the pervasive everyday terror, violence and misery.

Jan 21, 2021, 3:15 am

That sounds really controversial but intriguing.

Jan 21, 2021, 7:23 am

>20 connie53:
I...well, enjoyed is the wrong word. I found it a worthwhile read and definitely a thought-provoking one. I am definitely looking about my shelves for something happier now, though!

Editado: Jan 28, 2021, 1:39 pm

Artefact: Flora in Love by Natasha Farrant (The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby, Book 02)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Deaccession

London, Contemporary (p.2014

1 Large Family with Plant Names
1 Largely Overlooked Narrator
1 Meddlesome Best Friend
1 Pretty Bad Boyfriend

1 Eldest Acting Obsessed Sister
1 Mysterious Musician Boy
1 Absurdly Cheesy Meet Cute Music Video

1 Music Recital
1 Drama Audition
1 Poetry Competition

1 Very Bad Parent
2 Very Chaotic (But Loving) Parents
1 Former Nanny
1 Unexpected Addition

7 Loosed Rats
2 Newfound Kittens
1 Horse-Obsessed 9 Year Old
2 Horses Galloping Through London
Assorted Shenanigans

The Short Version:
First, a note - this is the second in the Bluebell Gadsby Diaries and I have not read the first. I don't think you particularly need to as the gist of the family situation is made clear by the narrator.

Overlooked quiet middle child Bluebell turns once again to her diaries (both written and transcripts of her video diaries - she wants to be a filmmaker) when she is troubled by the chaos erupting in her family. Her parents are acting strangely, her father is unduly stressed and her mother In the usual chaos of her siblings, Blue's troubles with a boyfriend and finding her place seem to barely factor.

There are some lovely moments here, and this was an amusing read. But for all that Blue is the narrator, she seems a bit overlooked even by the author who focuses her attention far more on her siblings than Blue, with Blue sometimes seemingly only there to support and report on her sisters' goings-on or to further the plot. A pity, really.

Jan 24, 2021, 3:53 pm

>19 Caramellunacy: You've really got me interested in Milkman. I don't have the attention needed for it now (unless maybe on audio?) but have tucked it in the wishlist.

Jan 26, 2021, 1:08 pm

>23 detailmuse:
I'm not really great with audio and worry that it might be easy to get lost in the roundabout narration - but honestly maybe that would work better? Would love to read how you find it if you get around to it.

Dig Progress Report
Making progress on clearing the spoils heap - 3 books from the collection have been deaccessioned along with a handful of travel guides that are probably out of date / would pick up new ones when we are allowed to travel again...

So what has been found recently? We are working on the following artefacts:

The Art Detective - a collection of stories from the art world by art dealer and UK Antiques Roadshow expert Philip Mould. So far, we have identified a stealth Gainsborough and followed up on a forged Norman Rockwell.

Wish Me Luck - a children's book set during the Blitz in Liverpool. Our 12-year-old hero has just been put on a luxury liner evacuating children to Canada, but a neighbor is insistent that he has seen a U-boat. I fear bad things on the horizon. (And I am having to stop myself from googling the name of the ship to find out what happened...there is plenty of time for that after!)

Jan 26, 2021, 8:54 pm

>24 Caramellunacy: I borrowed some of the latest travel guides from the library this summer, thinking it would be nice to dream about whenever we can travel again, but it had the opposite effect :-/

Glad to hear you're making progress!

Jan 27, 2021, 4:52 am

Great to hear your digging is still going strong.

Jan 28, 2021, 8:32 am

>25 rabbitprincess:
I certainly can commiserate - one of my favorite destressers was to plan fun trips (even if they were pipe dream trips), but right now it just makes me more anxious. So out the travel guides go for now!

>26 connie53:
Thanks, Connie. This year is both easier and harder, go figure!

Editado: Jan 28, 2021, 1:40 pm

Artefact:Wish Me Luck by James Heneghan
Trove: Paperback
Status: Rescued from the Icy Waters

Liverpool, September 1940
SS City of Benares, 17 September 1940

2 New Kids Next Door
1 School Fight
Domestic Violence

Air Raids
Incendiary Bombs
Sheltering Under the Stairs

1 Luxury Liner Transporting Evacuees
Incredible Food

1 Departing Navy Escort
1 Zealous U-Boot
2 Torpedoed Ships
Flooded Life Boats
Rough Seas

The Short Version:
I admit, I had never heard of the tragedy / war crime that was the sinking of the SS City of Benares - a luxury liner that was transporting 90 evacuee children to the safer shores of Canada. I'd put this at an older child (not quite YA) level in terms of detail and writing style - sort of the same level or a little older as a Dear America / Royal Diary type book.

Most of the book takes place in 1940s Liverpool - before the worst of the Blitz, when 12-year-old boys still desperately want to see the planes, collect bits of shrapnel and the whole thing seems more an adventure / a nuisance than a danger. But when Jamie Heneghan's neighborhood is hard hit, his mother insists that he be evacuated as soon as possible, and his father who works down at the docks hears of some places becoming available for evacuees.

There is a fair amount of information about daily life in the '40s that I found very interesting, though I have to admit that the Scouse slang - particularly repeating "phizog" for face over and over again - wore on me a bit. I enjoyed the descriptions of the ship and the unexpected luxury for these kids. I was appalled (though not surprised) at 12 year olds' hygiene habits.

And then the tragedy foreshadowed by setting sail on a Friday 13 hit and the pages flew past as Jamie and the neighbor children scrambled through the chaos to attempt to board their lifeboats in a storm and make it through the long night before rescue finally arrived.

The historical note at the end (and other sources) indicates that of the 90 evacuees, only 13 survived.

Editado: Jan 31, 2021, 7:17 am

Dig Progress Report - January
Altogether a good effort in January - 5 books read, 4 artefacts excavated, 3 consigned to the Spoils Heap.

Exhibit Centerpiece was Milkman by Anna Burns - an exhibit on loan from another venerable institution. I spent a lot of time contemplating this particular exhibit due to its challenging nature - plus it sparked supplementary research into the Troubles:

I dug up a fascinating documentary (I, Dolours) interviewing Dolours Price about her role with the paramilitaries and her time in prison. Tough to watch, but interesting - I far preferred the times when we just watched Dolours' face as she told her story rather than the re-enactments, but I understand why they used them. Certainly the discussion of the hunger strike and force-feeding was more powerful with visuals (as disturbing as those visuals were).

Work continues at the excavations with focus on one ROOT and one not:

The Art Detective - I am taking this one chapter by chapter so I can take the time to pore over pictures and really get a sense of the artworks in question. We have just restored a Rembrandt that was previously thought to be a "charming fake".

In ephemera:
The Bourne Identity - After a bit of a Bourne movie binge, I thought this might be fun to read and a fun change of pace from art restoration.

The first section was tough to read now as the hero's approach to gaining the cooperation of his love interest seems to consist mostly of alternating threatening to kill her and deadening her arm to convince her of how serious he is. The whole thing is ugly and frustrating because of how often it is repeated as she tries to escape and I am very glad that they changed it for the movie. It is particularly jarring that in the second section, a mere 8 days later, Bourne and Marie are swapping "I love you"s and she is willing to throw her life away to be with him.

I am intrigued by the central mystery of Bourne's identity, though, and his connection (or lack thereof) to Carlos the Jackal, so I will push on.

What else am I reading?
I was just looking through A Reading List for Bookstore Lovers from the New York Public Library - With both fiction and non-fiction choices, this seems like it will be a fun list to come back to when I find myself missing the experience of poking through a bookstore too much. Of those listed I have only read two, leaving me with plenty of choices should the urge strike.

Fev 1, 2021, 12:06 pm

>29 Caramellunacy: Thanks for "A Reading List for Bookstore Lovers," lots of possiblities.

Fev 1, 2021, 4:55 pm

>29 Caramellunacy: I read The Bourne Identity back when the movie came out and was so excited that the book's female protagonist was from Canada! I was kind of disappointed she wasn't Canadian in the movie ;)

Fev 1, 2021, 5:26 pm

>30 detailmuse: I agree! I'm looking forward to dipping into them.

>31 rabbitprincess: I am always happy to see an actual international team in a spy thriller, and I am loving Marie's incredible competence with all things financial and how she is bossing all the bankers around to make sure all of their funds are untraceable.

Editado: Fev 2, 2021, 10:07 am

Artefact: The Art Detective by Philip Mould
Trove: Hardback
Status: De-accessioned

England, 2010

6 Paintings (Various)
4 Stories that Actually Involved the Author
1 Painting Visible to the Public
1 Not Very Subtle Plug for Author's TV Show

1 Intrepid Researcher who seems Far More Useful than the Author

The Longer Version
I picked this up because I was fascinated by the title - an ART DETECTIVE searching for lost treasures, spotting fakes and frauds! Yeah, no. Philip Mould is an appraiser for Antiques Roadshow, but first and foremost he is an art dealer - his detecting is in scoping out the potential of a work so he can increase the return on his investment by removing later overpaint and restore paintings to their former glory (and a larger price tag). And I have no issues with that, but his examples of "detective" work don't (to me) seem very much to fit the advertised bill.

Most of these stories are about spotting something in an auction catalogue, buying it, restoring it and selling it on to a private collector where I, as the reader, will never be able to examine it in detail to test the author's assertions of its power, beauty and the excellence of their restoration work. Once I had worked out that many of the paintings he talks about are privately owned with often the only available pictures from Mr. Mould's own website, some of the draw dissipated.

The most interesting (and "detective"-like) of the stories is that of a previously unknown Winslow Homer, found by a fisherman next to a garbage dump. There Mould's team (because it does seem like the majority of "detective" work is not done by Mould but by his not-celebrated-enough researcher) deduced through a number of clues the probable previous owners and eventually the subjects of the painting - only for everything to bog down in a still-unresolved ownership dispute.

The concept is interesting and I enjoyed learning about artists, but got frustrated at not being able to view the pieces discussed in more detail.

Fev 7, 2021, 5:20 am

Digsite Progress Report:

Physical Artefacts

* Jane and the Genius of the Place by Stephanie Barron - The fourth in a series about Jane Austen as a Regency era sleuth under the conceit of being taken from Jane's previously undiscovered diaries and "edited for publication" by the author with occasional footnotes with historical context - a framing I very much enjoy. So far, the mystery aspect isn't really grabbing me - not least because I think I have worked out the key aspect of the "how" (though not the "who") but the characters have not yet...

In Ephemera

* The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum - Still here for Marie's competence but a bit confused about the muddle of the plot - there are a lot of names being thrown around here (traitors, murderers and murdered alike) and I'm not at all sure that I have them all straight...

* Tweet Cute by Emma Lord - A light-hearted read about teenagers overwhelmed with too much responsibility engaged in a twitter war from the accounts of their respective family businesses and secretly spilling their feelings to one another on an anonymous chat. It's a bit like You've Got Mail without the gaslighting and with both sets of online personas being anonymous while Pepper and Jack struggle toward something resembling a friendship in person.

Other Amusements

* The Dig (2021) - I enjoyed this archaeological drama about as much as one might expect from the "digsite/excavation" related conceit of my reading log. I wish we had spent more time with the artefacts and the digging and less on speculative romantical relationships amongst the group, and I enjoyed putting the snotty representative of the British Museum in his place rather more than I should have (IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM). But I console myself that I knew that Mrs. Pretty did, in fact, donate the artefacts almost immediately, so it was just a slap at a self-absorbed jerk that he richly deserved. I do wish I could go and see the treasures...

* 13 rue Madeleine (1946) - I originally came across this while "mapping the digsite". I have a map where I put pins in meaningful locations from my reading and a reference in The Bourne Identity to a bank on the "rue Madeleine" had me searching when I came across this film about spies during WWII. So I thought to myself, maybe this was a reference Ludlum put in and decided to watch the movie (I don't think it was).

After a lengthy, newsreel-style intro in which we had to watch Japanese-Americans and presumably German-Americans be rounded up while the voiceover talks about their "extensive spy networks in the US" (which is an incredibly ugly and untrue bit of propaganda that started things off on a very distasteful note), we finally got to the plot - Robert Sharkey (James Cagney) is an instructor at OSS spy school who has to ferret out which of his 22 recruits is secretly a German Abwehr spy, feed them misinformation about D-Day AND get hold of a French scientist so the Allies can take out the V2 factory that risks it all. Stakes high enough?

We are only introduced to three of the recruits, so working out which one is the secret spy (who gives themselves away by being TOO GOOD at spying to be a novice...) is not so very difficult, and the rest of the plot is a muddle ending in a weirdly triumphant sacrifice that just doesn't have the emotional impact I think they were going for now. I have to say, though, the section at spy school was my favorite part as it reminded me a lot of Churchill's Secret Agents: The New Recruits - which was a reality show actually worth watching where ordinary people are put through WWII spy school training.

Fev 7, 2021, 9:09 am

>34 Caramellunacy: The fact of Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan being in The Dig makes this a movie I'd like to watch, although duly noted re the romantic relationships. I watch movies with captions all the time, so if I'm not interested in a part of the movie I just mute the sound and read the movie until it gets to a more interesting bit :D

Fev 16, 2021, 6:29 am

Artefact: Jane and the Genius of the Place by Stephanie Barron
(Jane Austen Mysteries, Book 04)

Trove: Paperback
Status: To Be Sent to Landscape a Neighboring Estate

Godmersham Park, August 1805

1 Sleuthing Authoress
1 Brother/Magistrate
2 Dastardly Murders

1 Scandalous Frenchwoman
1 Neglectful Husband
1 "Sporting" Set of Gambling Friends
1 Handsome Landscape Artist
1 Temperamentally Unsuited Governess
Too Many Edwards

1 French Army Gathering Along the Channel
1 Evacuation Plan for Kent
Complicated Banking Arrangements
Monologuing Spies Making a Muddle of Everything

Scholarly Footnotes
Several Allusions to Austen Characters and Works

The Short Version:
I really enjoy the central conceit of this mystery series - that a scholar has stumbled upon a cache of lost Austen diaries detailing her sleuthing and has prepared them for publication (including occasional explanatory footnotes which give me *heart-eyes*).

The underlying mystery of this one felt much more of a muddle, though. I figured out the "how" very quickly (and the wait until the characters cottoned on was very painful), the "who" in good time, and the "why" perplexes me despite the relevant characters monologuing to explain for two chapters. I'm not sure if it actually *is* a muddle or if my brain is just refusing to process it at the moment.

Regardless, while I found this enjoyable, the resolution let me down. This can move on to another home, but I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another in the series.

Fev 16, 2021, 9:02 am

I’m glad to see you back this year, and so glad you’ve gotten the backing for the Mt. TBR dig site. Here’s to a successful dig!

>12 Caramellunacy: ‘Hot Dummy Marquess’ and ‘Insta-Love’. Crack me up. Don’t think I’ll be negotiating with you to acquire this artifact for my collection.

>16 Caramellunacy: ‘a story with low stakes’ – I may borrow this phrase sometime down the road for a review, giving credit to the resident archaeologist, of course.

>19 Caramellunacy: I’ve been hearing about this one and studiously avoiding it.

>29 Caramellunacy: Excellent progress report, C.

>34 Caramellunacy: My husband and I just watched The Dig last week, and I agree with your comments 100%. I’ve put the book on my wish list.

Fev 16, 2021, 9:36 am

>36 Caramellunacy: Too many Edwards. *snigger*

Fev 16, 2021, 2:26 pm

>37 karenmarie:
So glad to see you stopping by. It is such inestimable patronage (such as by the deeply esteemed Lady Catherine de Burgh) that allows this digsite to continue so successfully!

Feel free to borrow away - and I promise not to foist any Hot Dummy Marquesses on your excavations.

I've put myself on the waitlist for The Dig novel at the library - trying to avoid cluttering up the digsite, if possible. I'm looking forward to it coming in.

>38 MissWatson:
They tried to get around it by calling her brother Neddie, but ... just so many Edwards...

Fev 22, 2021, 6:02 am

Dig Progress Report

Things have been quiet at the dig (excavation-wise) due to operational hiccups at HQ, but progress continues - though more slowly.

The main artefact holding my attention these days is Atonement by Ian McEwan - I have already seen the movie, which I think was helpful for Part 1 when it had been 100 pages of a 13-year-old's hurt feelings and we hadn't even made it down for dinner yet. Now that we have reached the beaches near Dunkirk with Robbie and are returning to nursing with Briony, things may slow down again. We'll have to see. I will admit I am largely enjoying the writing (though dealing with a 13 year old was rough, even a fictional one), but cringed hard at the writing of the intimate scene... just oof...

In ephemera, after thoroughly enjoying Emma Lord's Tweet Cute, I have picked up her most recent You Have a Match - about a teenager learning she has a sister from a DNA/ancestry website. So far, the atmosphere reminds me a bit of the delightful Nothing Much to Do - a NZ webseries adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. I have no idea *why* it puts me in mind of Nothing Much to Do, but that is what my brain says today.

I am also still working through Ludlum's Bourne Identity - things are shaping up to be a bit more action-packed again, I think.

Fev 22, 2021, 6:24 am

Este utilizador foi removido como sendo spam.

Fev 23, 2021, 7:51 pm

Glad to hear you're still making progress on your reading, and that you're making space for ephemera *and* serious reads. These days I am letting myself be governed a lot more by whim, even with library books. What the brain craves, the brain gets.

Fev 28, 2021, 9:48 am

Artefact: The Springtime Mail Order Bride by Kit Morgan
(Holiday Mail Order Brides, Book 05)

Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent to Marry Out West

Half a Day's Ride from Nowhere, Washington, March 1871

1 Largely Unnecessary Prologue with Characters Not Seen Again
1 Tragically Orphaned Heiress (Unbeknownst to Herself)
1 Greedy Lecherous Uncle
13 Years of Skivvy Work
1 Mail Order Bride Agency (Non-Sketchy Variety, to the Extent the Concept Can Be Non-Sketchy)

1 Romantically Minded Farmer Who Despite Being Popular Amongst the Local Womenfolk Decides to Send Away for a Mail Order Bride Rather Than Doing Any Courting
3 Overgrown Hoodlum Brothers Who Specialize in Dangerous Pranks
0 Comeuppance / Socialization
0 Farmwork

1 Conniving Hussy
1 One-Eyed Bandit (Non-Euphemism Variety)
1 Complicated Kidnap/Wedding Plan

The Short Version
A sweet (kisses/fade-to-black) romance about nice people believing they have fallen in love VERY quickly because the plot demands it. I would have liked a few more Little House in the Big Woods descriptions of farming life (as she didn't seem to be expected to do much other than cook and she had never experienced life outside of New Orleans). It felt more like an episode of Little House on the Prairie / Anne with an E (more soap opera than substance).

I got cranky at the sequel-bait brothers and their pranks - many of which are dangerous and none of which are adequately dealt with (I wanted Samijo to refuse to cook for them if they behaved this way). The only real conflict surrounds a conniving hussy with her wiles set on Arlan for the flimsiest of reasons - and then a complicated climactic scene with three different parties of ill intent showing up at the Weaver farm largely independent of one another... and all of this was so soon after Samijo's arrival that their affection felt incredibly rushed / unearned.

Sweet but insubstantial.

Editado: Out 12, 4:48 pm

Artefact: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Trove: Paperback
Status: Off to War

Surrey, 1935; Dunkirk, 1940
1 13 Year Old Writer on the Cusp of Adolescence
1 Very Bad Play
3 Cousins - Refugees of Divorce

1 Prickly Young Woman Just Back from Cambridge
1 Very Bright Cleaning Woman's Son

1 Sexually Charged Power Play by a Fountain
1 Broken Vase
1 Uncomprehending Observer
1 Accidentally Explicit Note
1 Painfully Overwritten Sex Scene, including a Prolonged Mountaineering Metaphor

1 Unholy Marriage of Adolescent Self-Righteousness and Attention-Seeking, leading to
1 Unfounded Accusation
At least 4 Ruined Lives

Affection via Censored Correspondence
Nursing as an Act of Atonement
Musings on the Nature of Storytelling and Truth

The Short Version
Thought-provoking, and the movie was a remarkably faithful adaptation. I don't much care for unreliable / self-serving narrators generally and Briony is no exception.

Mar 2, 2021, 10:36 am

>44 Caramellunacy: As much as I enjoy well-written sex scenes, I avoid Painfully Overwritten Sex Scene(s), including a Prolonged Mountaineering Metaphor. Oof. I've got this one on my shelves, but will look at it again - it might be a faked artifact and thus need to be deaccessioned.

Mar 2, 2021, 2:44 pm

>44 Caramellunacy: I think I might have Atonement on my shelf too - it was a book my husband was going to send to the charity shop, and I thought I ought to read it. Although the more I think about it, the more I'm wondering what I was thinking.

Mar 2, 2021, 2:45 pm

>45 karenmarie: I found quite a bit to ponder in Atonement, so it may just be a mere ham-fisted later addition by a smug restorer rather than a full blown fake...or something to that effect.

Mar 2, 2021, 2:47 pm

>46 Jackie_K: I'm not going to lie, it was the wrong book for me especially at this time - there are a lot of questions but about some difficult subject matter around sexual violence/consent. If you are truly curious, the film adaptation was quite a good one as these things go - so that can always be used as a gauge.

Mar 2, 2021, 3:54 pm

>44 Caramellunacy: Funny!! I read Atonement some year before 2008 and rated it 1 star :0 All I remember is being un-invested, I don't even remember the sex scene -- again, :0

I liked his Saturday more, and it's weird how drawn I am to read more by him.

Mar 2, 2021, 4:31 pm

>49 detailmuse: I am hopeful I will be able to purge at the very least the sex scene from my memory very soon...

Mar 4, 2021, 7:35 pm

I've been turned off MacEwan ever since reading a really terrible sex scene in The Innocent... he seems to have form for this sort of thing :-/

Mar 5, 2021, 6:37 am

>51 rabbitprincess: Hopefully no mountaineering metaphors! Now I'm almost curious to see a survey of what bizarre jarring metaphor / simile was used in his sex scenes - not curious enough to undertake such a labor, one was quite enough for me.
I think aside from the befuddling mountaineering, I was most weirded out by kissing involving "slippery muscle" as all I could then think was...ARE THEIR MOUTHS FULL OF EELS??

Mar 5, 2021, 9:36 am

I've yet to read any McEwan but these awful passages seem like a selling point to me.

Mar 6, 2021, 8:09 am

>52 Caramellunacy: Their hovercrafts are full of eels!

The thing that was terrible about The Innocent was it was set in Berlin in the Cold War, and the British protagonist had a German girlfriend and was basically imagining himself as a colonial conqueror during the sex scene. Gross in a different way.

Mar 6, 2021, 11:52 am

>54 rabbitprincess: Yes, that'll be six shillings...

Oof - gross in a different way - and one much harder to make amusing.

Mar 8, 2021, 10:57 am

Interesting discussion which makes it natural to bring up one of the fun but normally overlooked prizes: Bad Sex in Fiction Award! It's done by the Literary Review, and though I believe McEwan has been nominated, he hasn't won:

Ian McEwan is one of the writers I find it really difficult to make up my mind about. I have loved some (On Chesil Beach, which is pretty much only about awkward feelings about sex, and Black Dogs) but others have been just so-so (Amsterdam and Enduring Love). And I'm not quite sure why I like the ones I like, and don't like the ones I don't because his style seems the same.

I do, however, think it has something to do with believing in the story. Reading McEwan is like watching a magician doing a very sophisticated and elaborate trick - it can become so obvious that the magician is doing a trick that you can only focus on the fact, that it is a trick. That's how McEwan sometimes makes me feel. I don't necessarily understand how he does it, but above all else I get a sense of being manipulated.

Mar 8, 2021, 3:34 pm

>56 Henrik_Madsen:
I am pleased to hear that (by nomination) it has at least been acknowledged that McEwan is responsible for some Bad Sex in Fiction.
I was very grateful that I had already seen the movie Atonement before having read the book - if the "twist" had come as a surprise to me, I think I would have felt more manipulated for effect. Still, while some of the writing was thought-provoking, I don't think McEwan is for me!

Mar 10, 2021, 12:21 pm

Artefact: Battle Dress by Amy Efaw
Trove: Paperback
Status: Retained

West Point, Pre-Cell Phone Contemporary (p.2010)

6 Weeks Cadet Basic Training, the "Beast"
Many Confusing Shouted Orders
Many Confusing Acronyms

1 Narcissistic Parent
1 People-Pleasing Cadet
Casual Misogyny (some Internalized)
Squad Bonding

Athletic Triumphs
1 Ending That Came Too Soon

The Short Version:
I was very immersed in getting through Beast with our heroine Andi and cheered her triumphs and determination.

I would have loved this book to cover the full year (instead of just basic training) as I wanted to see her shine academically and watch her leadership skills emerge.

Mar 14, 2021, 8:13 am

Artefact: Kill Joy by Holly Jackson (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, Book 0.5)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Retained as Evidence

Little Kilton, UK, Summer 2017

1 Murder Mystery Party
6 Suspects
1 Eerie Storm

1 Feast of Domino's Pizza
1 Purloined Moustache
1 Very Involved Explanation
1 Overly Simplistic Explanation

1 Spark of an Idea

The Short Version:
This is a short prequel novella to the YA thriller A Good Girl's Guide to Murder - it is a bonus released for World Book Day this year, and can be read as an intro.

I read and loved A Good Girl's Guide to Murder at some point during the Quarantimes (does time have meaning any more?) but remember next to nothing about it (see the aforementioned Quarantimes and its effect on my brain).

This story is a great introduction to our overachieving, detail-oriented, analytical protagonist Pippa Fitz-Amobi. She treats the mystery game like homework - but in a hyper-focused, immersive, taking it seriously sort of way that is particularly endearing to me. She gets into character, she imagines all sorts of scenarios and scribbles furiously in her notebook. And I related so hard to her when the answer is revealed and it is disappointingly inconsistent and careless with the very story it provided.

It did exactly what it was meant to and whetted my interest in re-reading Guide to Murder. Soon. When I have finished unearthing one of the many other artefacts that are currently in progress...

Mar 16, 2021, 1:46 pm

>59 Caramellunacy: That sounds like a very intriguing book with a strange ending.

Mar 19, 2021, 6:39 am

Artefact: Beach Read by Emily Henry
Trove: Ephemeral Library
Status: Returned to Library

North Bear Shore, Lake Michigan, Contemporary (p. 2020)

1 Successful Romance Novelist
1 Family Tragedy
1 Case of Epic Writer's Block

1 Not-Quite-As-Unexpected-As-Expected Mistress
1 Lake House
1 Unread Letter
Terrible Coffee

1 Grumpy But Attractive College Crush and Rival Writing Literary Fiction about
1 Doomsday Cult

2 Aligned Windows
Signs Reminiscent of a Taylor Swift Video
1 Genre-Based Wager
Literary Lesson Plans

The Short Version
For the first half / two-thirds of this book, I was convinced it was going to be not only a "keeper" but that I would immediately insist that my friends and family read it AT ONCE. I loved January's voice and her spirited defense of the romance genre. I reveled in her interactions with Gus and the juxtaposition of the fluffy romcom hijinks with the sensitivity of Gus and January interviewing survivors of a cult (I know! I thought the whiplash would be worse).

For me, though, the story lost me in the last third - the tone seemed to shift abruptly away from her relationship with Gus (over something that was a non-thing) and toward January finally coming to terms with her relationship with her father only to culminate in an over-the-top reconciliation in the rain that fell completely flat for me because I wasn't really sure why they were that upset? The "dark" moment seemed shoe-horned in because it was the thing that needed to happen to end the book, but it didn't really have the impact it was meant to.

At any rate, I still enjoyed this book a lot - I will happily read all the Gus and January banter, though in terms of the wager, I am giving it to January as I felt like she actually did write literary fiction (even if it didn't have a heart-breaking "literary" ending), and I'm not sure Gus' story even tried.

Editado: Ago 1, 2022, 1:24 pm

Artefact: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Trove: Paperback
Status: Put to Work

Cover: Detail from "The London Road Viaduct, Brighton" by John Wilson Carmichael (National Railway Museum, York)

Helstone, New Forest (South) & Milton (North), 1850s

1 Sensitive Southern Young Woman (Raised as a Gentlewoman)
1 Clergyman of Rather Inconvenient Conscience
1 Mother Given to Complaints
1 Overweening Servant

1 Career Change
1 Resented Change of Situation
1 Unyielding Northern Millowner
1 Young Friend Wasting Away of Mill-induced Lung Disease
1 Socially Conscious Union Man
1 Ugly Strike

1 Mutinous Brother in Great Peril of His Life
1 Protective Lie
1 Cancelled Inquest

2 Rejected Proposals
1 Spoiled Brat Matchmaking Cousin
6 Untimely Deaths

1 Rather Abrupt Happy Ending

The Short Version
A story much like Pride and Prejudice in form, but with an industrial background and juxtaposing two different ways of life - and Margaret Hale's maturation and adaptation to obstacles in her way. I enjoyed this story (though not my edition where the end-notes seemed more eager to support the introductory essay rather than aid in understanding unfamiliar allusions and references).

Less romantic and more focused on social class and a sort of advocacy regarding the correct amount of individualistic freedom vs. paternalism between an employer and his workers than the mini-series had me believe (which I loved), but I enjoyed this a great deal.

Editado: Mar 31, 2021, 3:02 pm

Artefact: Secret Letters by Leah Scheier
Trove: Paperback
Status: Requires Further Investigation

221B Baker Street & Hartfield Hall, 1891

1 Secret Holmesian Love Child with a Penchant for Observation
1 Baker Street Irregular starting his own Consultancy
1 Tragic Backstory

3 Explicit Cameos/Carryovers (Cartwright, Agatha, Toby)
1 Easter Egg Cameo

Several Purloined Letters
1 Missing Heiress

1 Nefarious Manservant
1 Intrepid Detective Undercover as a Scullion
1 Maidservant in the Family Way
Numerous Ill-Advised Attempts at Flirtation
1 Disturbing Attempt at Overprotectiveness / Instilling Caution that Reads Poorly

Skullduggery! Literal Skullduggery! Skulls are Dug!
1 Very Bad Burn
Several Romantical(?) Meetings in Graveyards

The Short Version
Sherlock Holmes' secret daughter comes to London to consult with him about her cousin's troubles with a blackmailer over some secret letters (Title! Drink!), only to discover by newspaper headlines that he has been killed in Switzerland at the Reichenbach Falls.

Instead, she turns to one of Holmes' Irregulars, Peter Cartwright (of Hound of the Baskervilles fame - Drink!) and her own wits to solve her cousin's mystery as well as that of a missing young lady. Dora goes undercover as a maidservant, passing secret letters (Drink!) to Cartwright as she investigates belowstairs.

This has an Enola Holmes-ian vibe (though considerably fewer fisticuffs) and a number of amusing cameos - my favorite was Toby, the scent dog, and was clearly intended to be the first of a series, though there doesn't seem to be a sequel.

I enjoyed it, although I am a bit fuzzy on some of the details of the resolution.

Editado: Abr 1, 2021, 6:24 am

Artefact: The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper by Simon Leys
Trove: Hardcover
Status: Washed Out to Sea

2 Essays? Collection of Notes? Each appx. 60 pages

Houtman Abrolhos (an arid archipelago off the Western coast of Australia, 1629

1 Planned Mutiny
1 Unexpected Shipwreck
2 Persons in Authority Absconding with the Lifeboat (for Rescue)
1 Psychopath Apothecary
Several Rapes and Massacres
Several Groups of Survivors Left to Starve
Organized Terror

Several Smug Authorial Asides
Unfortunate Choice of Words, Particularly with Regard to Women (I would blame the translation, but the author chooses to translate his own work)
Odd Fascination with the "Genius" of the artist Torrentius
Lack of Respect for Archaeological Sites

1 Much Better Book, From Which the Author Admits he has drawn much of his Information

The Short Version
Well, as the author himself points out in his introduction, and again early in the text, Mike Dash has written and published a comprehensive nonfiction work on the wreck of the Batavia (Batavia's Graveyard) which he notes is excellent and from which he says he drew much of the information for his account (though he had been researching and toying with the idea of writing his own book, but was pre-empted by Dash).

Given how unpleasant and insufferable even this summary makes the author seem (irrelevant smug aside about English monarchs, repeated use of language that devalues women - noting that they were "liquidated" or "put at the disposal of the mutineers" and notably idly referring to the maidservant Zwantie causing "trouble" by being a "slut"), I am glad I didn't read a lengthier account of events from his perspective and see no reason to recommend this. I will, however, be seeking out Dash's book.

The seas off of Etel, Brittany, 1950s
1 Maree - a fishing trip for tuna
1 of the last remaining sailing vessels making the trip
Hardships and Skill
A Great Deal of Red Wine
1 Abrupt Death

The Short Version
This didn't work for me - I have seen this described as poetic and elegiac, but it didn't strike me that way and I didn't care particularly about the trip, nor did I feel that I particularly got to know the characters. I have no idea why they let the author come, nor did I get a sense that he contributed in any way. I was just bored and then a bit surprised by an abrupt death at the end. Others' mileage clearly varies, yours may too.

Mar 31, 2021, 5:31 pm

I've read this book and came away wondering why it had been published. I had never read a book in which the author says, "There's a much better book about this subject that you should read..." But it did lead me to Dash's book, which is excellent.

Mar 31, 2021, 10:07 pm

>65 mstrust: I think Batavia's Graveyard is on my to-read list because of your recommendation!

Abr 1, 2021, 6:25 am

>65 mstrust: That was my first thought - if you can note in the intro that everyone should go read another book, why bother publishing this one? I have the Dash book somewhere in the vast digsite and am looking forward to digging it up!

Abr 1, 2021, 9:56 am

>66 rabbitprincess: >67 Caramellunacy: Dash's book is so well-researched and a complete study of all that happened. Good book about an appalling event.

Abr 3, 2021, 1:39 pm

Lack of Respect for Archaeological Sites

That must have hurt a lot!

Happy Easter to you and yours!

Abr 4, 2021, 4:59 am

>69 connie53: I was severely miffed at that! It was the one original contribution of his (as he had visited the site of the wreck in the company of a fisherman) - and it turns out his host had poured concrete for his cabin over remains after he accidentally uncovered them so that he wouldn't have to deal with the archaeologists...*shakes fist*

Hope you have a wonderful Easter!

Abr 13, 2021, 11:34 am

Artefact: The Case of the Shipwrecked Tree by John R. Erickson (Hank the Cowdog, Book 41)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Head of Ranch Security

Ranch in the Panhandle, Contemporary (p.2003)

Hank the Cowdog - Head of Ranch Security
1 Sidekick who is a Bit of a Doofus
1 Snivelling Barn Cat

1 Brewing Turkey Rebellion
1 Potential Spy in Disguise
1 Run-in While on Mailman Escort Duty
1 Small but Terrifying Pirate
1 Bubblegum Trap
2 Tuna Fish Sandwiches in Dire Need of Protection

1 Dog Stuck in a Pirate Ship Tree
2 Unhelpful Buzzards
1 Lightning Storm
Life-Saving Barking

The Short Version:
This series never fails to make me smile - a staple of my childhood. My parents used to read them aloud with all the necessary voices. I love Hank's Monster Reports and "technical" terminology. These are always so much fun and this one was no different.

Abr 15, 2021, 4:41 am

>71 Caramellunacy: Sounds delightful. Going back to your childhood and memories is lovely to do.
While cleaning out a small closet I came across some photo's and those me me smile too.

Abr 17, 2021, 4:31 pm

>63 Caramellunacy: I am a bit fuzzy on some of the details of the resolution
Well yes (Drink!). Very fun review. Smiled through them all, actually :)

Abr 18, 2021, 11:02 am

>72 connie53: It's always nice to come across old photos and memories - although I admit that usually side-tracks me from the cleaning I am meant to be doing...

>73 detailmuse: I'm glad you enjoyed them! I enjoy putting them together.

Abr 20, 2021, 2:27 pm

>62 Caramellunacy: I just finished North and South myself and really enjoyed it -- glad to see you did too!

Abr 20, 2021, 3:16 pm

>75 curioussquared: I really did! I have been taking some time to dig in to some of the allusions - which has been really interesting (I never knew that Byron wrote an epic poem about the mutiny on the Bounty) and has expanded my book journal :)

Abr 22, 2021, 12:42 pm

Artefact: The Court of the Stone Children by Eleanor Cameron
Trove: Hardcover
Status: Permanent Collection

The (fictional) French Museum in San Francisco, Contemporary (p.1973)

1 Girl with a "Museum Feeling"
1 Museum with Recreated Rooms from a French Chateau
1 Courtyard with Stone Statues of Children
1 Mysterious Spirit with a Distinctive Ring
1 Journal
1 Fresh Perspective

1 Slightly Odd Friendship
1 Project Regarding Time
1 Marc Chagall Painting

The Short Version
An odd quiet children's novel - the plot is slow and largely surrounds a quiet sort of historical puzzle, nothing flashy, no treasure, just historical interpretation. I enjoyed it (and probably would have as a child), but I suspect it would appeal mostly to those who were quiet, slightly odd children with their own Museum Feeling allowing them to sense / imagine stories of the historical objects. This is a very atmospheric story that feels a bit dreamy / unset in a vague childhood time before smartphones and the internet. I'm hanging on to it for now.

Abr 22, 2021, 12:49 pm

>77 Caramellunacy: Ooh, I'm intrigued by this one. Count me in as one of those quiet, slightly odd children who probably would have enjoyed this as a kid!

Abr 22, 2021, 1:07 pm

Artefact: Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris (The Tales of Marigold, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: To be Sent Into the World to Make Its Fortune

The Kingdom of Beaurivage, Once Upon a Time

1 Curmudgeonly Troll with a Heart of Gold
1 Misplaced Boy with Tinkering Tendencies
1 Important Blue Velvet Suit

4 Princesses, consisting of
1 Set of Triplets and
The Odd One Out
1 Curse

1 Controlling Queen
1 Doting but Addled Father
Too Many Suitors
5 Dogs

1 Book of Greek Myths
2 Carrier Pigeons
1 Rivalry with the Tooth Fairy

The Short Version
A fun, lightweight fractured fairy tale about a boy who grew up in a cave with a troll who cultivates a friendship with the princess by p-mail (carrier pigeon) which blossoms into romance. Sweet but without much substance. I would probably be fonder of this if I had read it younger (or at least before the excellent Ella Enchanted).

Abr 23, 2021, 4:17 am

>74 Caramellunacy: I know. I got distracted too. But I finished cleaning the drawers anyway. And put the photo's aside to show them to my son and daughter-in-law when they visited the next day. It was fun to watch his face seeing himself as a little boy.

>79 Caramellunacy: I like the cover of that one.

Abr 23, 2021, 12:22 pm

>79 Caramellunacy: I read this when I was probably a little too old for it but still remember enjoying it in either late middle school or early high school. Definitely doesn't have the staying power of Ella Enchanted but it was a fun romp!

Maio 1, 2021, 8:48 pm

You have been digging up some interesting books.

Maio 4, 2021, 10:24 am

Artefact: Witch Way to Murder by Shirley Damsgaard (Ophelia and Abby Mysteries, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent Back to Library School

Summerset Iowa, Contemporary (p.2005)

1 Curmudgeonly Small-Town Librarian (Mean rather than Heart of Gold Variety)
1 Sidekick Described Through Reference to Playboy by Page 9
1 Love Interest of the Early '00s Style "Obnoxious-Continued-Pursuit-In-The-Face-Of-Outright-Explicit-Rejection-Is-Charming-Proof-of-My-Affection-Not-Creepy" School of Wooing

1 Sadly Underused Dog and Cat
1 Witchy Grandmother
Suppressed Powers
Prophetic Dreams

1 Dead Body
1 Suspicious Fire at the Newspaper Office
1 Drug Trafficking Ring
Animal Death
1 Gunshot Wound
1 Confused Resolution

Short Version
This was not for me. I was hoping for more from the witchy angle, but this first book is mostly our heroine Ophelia rejecting her powers. Plus, this is now showing its age with the superior "not-like-other-girls" heroine judging her bubbly assistant while demonstrating no real skills (research or otherwise) at her job nor interest in it. Top that off with a love interest who doesn't take explicit no as a possible response (and our heroine mysteriously changing her mind about that partway through the story) and a resolution that didn't really seem to make much sense, sprinkle with death of an animal and threats to another. Not for me.

While it seems like future books might improve (she is interested in learning about her powers and it looks like the love interest is heading off), I have no real desire to seek them out.

Maio 9, 2021, 8:25 am

Artefact: Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don't Float by Sarah Schmelling
Trove: Paperback
Status: To Be Deaccessioned

Old Skool Facebook, Classic Times
8 Networks
54 Classics/Authors Discussed
1 Quip-Off on Oscar Wilde's Timeline (much to his chagrin)
Scrabulific Games
Sponsored Ads

The Short Version:
Short, humorous summaries/riffs on a number of classic works (I liked how Shakespeare's comedies and histories got smooshed together - respectively - but it also felt familiar from The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abgd). I had read about half and was fairly familiar with a handful of others. On the whole an enjoyable quick read, but the old old Facebook format feels a bit dated now and, honestly, while it was a fun afternoon, I didn't laugh enough to feel the need to keep this.

Jun 3, 2021, 2:24 pm

Bookish news - I can't think of anyone who will properly commiserate other than you:

I just reached the top of a hold queue at the library for A Murder In Time which I have been dying to read. Today when I opened the app (they don't seem to have a physical copy), it went blank becauuuuuuuse - they switched over to a new ebook app. No hold or save data has transferred over AND A Murder in Time isn't available - nor are any of the other authors I searched for based on what little I remember of my hold list.

I AM JUST SO FRUSTRATED. I don't think the library system bothered to send an email telling people that they were switching and I certainly don't remember anyone telling me none of my holds would transfer!

Jun 3, 2021, 2:29 pm

I do sympathize and would be tearing my hair out.

Jun 3, 2021, 3:12 pm

>85 Caramellunacy: That is the worst!!! I would also be furious.

Jun 4, 2021, 4:54 am

>85 Caramellunacy: How frustrating! Looks like the library failed miserably on the human part of technology, letting their patrons know what they are doing.

Jun 4, 2021, 8:57 am

>85 Caramellunacy: Oh that is annoying. Our library also recently changed over (from RBDigital to Libby), but luckily I follow our local council's facebook page and they posted several times that it was going to happen so I wasn't taken by surprise. So far Libby seems much less clunky than RBDigital was, and they seem to have a larger selection of books (I suspect that's pandemic related, requests for ebooks apparently went through the roof last year compared to the Before Times).

Jun 4, 2021, 1:56 pm

See, I knew you all would understand!
I am hoping that the current lack of available titles is a matter of growing pains related to the switch over and not a portent of things to come. I have been requesting a bunch more e-books since our libraries weren't doing any interlibrary loan and I couldn't browse to see what I might be in the mood for...

Jun 5, 2021, 11:23 am

>85 Caramellunacy: Ugh that is so irritating when things are changed without notifying people! I hope you'll be able to get a copy of the book soon.

Jun 5, 2021, 12:31 pm

Just catching up with your thread. I enjoy the way you arrange your reviews. Cheers!

Jun 28, 2021, 2:05 pm

Just visiting your thread to see what has happened here, CL. I feel your frustration. Absolutely right to feel that way.

Jun 29, 2021, 11:59 am

Artefact: The Burning Times by Jeanne Kalogridis
Trove: Paperback
Status: To Be Sent Out into the World to Find Its Match

Carcassonne, 1330s-1350s

1 Goddess-Chosen Woman
Her Loving Wise-Woman Grandmother
Her Powerful Jealous Enemy
Her Noble Strong Beloved
So Much Pining
2 Maternal Betrayals with Surprisingly Little Emotional Fallout

1 Ambivalent Inquisitorial Scribe
1 Involved "Confession"
Too Many Burnings
Magic (Including Miraculous Healing, Charms and "Seeing")

1 "Message" About the Harm Caused by Fear Hit Over and Over Again to make sure it is Drilled into Readers' Skulls

The Short Version:
This book and I just didn't gel. It was more of a fantasy in a historical setting than other books of the authors that I have read (and which I enjoyed for their Philippa Gregory-esque soapiness). We spent altogether too many pages describing torture and burnings and spiritual rapture while the relationship of central importance (between Sybille and her Beloved) is mostly long-distance pining and expansive dramatic hand gestures of EMOTION. Just calling someone "Beloved" doesn't lead me to buy that you are in love...
Overall, I thought this was a massive "meh" that thought its stakes were way higher than I did.

Jun 30, 2021, 5:29 am

>94 Caramellunacy: Thank you for taking one for the team.

Jul 1, 2021, 4:39 am

>93 connie53: Thanks for stopping by, Connie - I hope things with Peet improve and that your books bring you comfort.

>95 MissWatson: I'm sure there is a right reader for this, but I was definitely not it!

Jul 2, 2021, 4:52 pm

haha! Favorites:

So Much Pining
2 Maternal Betrayals with Surprisingly Little Emotional Fallout
1 "Message" About the Harm Caused by Fear Hit Over and Over Again to make sure it is Drilled into Readers' Skulls

Jul 6, 2021, 7:17 am

>97 detailmuse: Sometimes with a very iffy book, amusing myself with Fieldnotes helps!

Jul 24, 2021, 2:32 pm

>98 Caramellunacy: '... and a partridge in a pear tree'

Your field notes are fun to read.

Editado: Jul 28, 2021, 5:52 am

Artefact: Philomena by Martin Sixsmith
Trove: Paperback
Status: Donated

Sean Ross Abbey, Roscrea, Ireland, 1952
Washington, DC, 1980s

1 Unwed Mother
1 Son with a Sunny Disposition
1 Harsh "Mother and Baby" Home
Paid-for Adoption Scandals
1 Woman Eager for a Daughter
Orphans as Christmas Presents

Guilt and Abandonment Issues
AIDS Crisis

1 Career in the Republican Party
1 (or is it 2?) Double Life
1 Unending Quest to Find His Mother

The Short Version
A tragic and often-times enraging (purportedly) true story about Irish mother and baby homes, paid for adoptions and the Reagan administration's homophobia and response (or lack thereof) to the AIDS crisis told by chronicling the life of Michael Hess (born Anthony Lee at Roscrea) in its complexity as he and his mother Philomena, who was coerced to give him up for adoption, searched for one another and hit stumbling block after unnecessary stumbling block.

I actually would have been interested to know more about the author's investigative work and interactions with Philomena as to be honest, I found the recreated conversations of Mike's life off-putting - not least because a bunch of Midwesterners apparently used extremely British word choice and sentence structure (and also because Mike was dead before Sixsmith began work on this project so presumably had little to no access to his conversations, inner feelings or thoughts)...

I am glad to have read it, but will be reaching for something lighter next!

Editado: Ago 3, 2021, 5:30 am

Artefact: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
(Grishaverse, Series 01; Shadow and Bone, Book 01)
Trove: Paperback
Status: Kept in the Little Palace

Ravka, Once Upon a Time
1 Russia-Inspired Fantasy World

2 Orphans, of which
1 Cartographer
1 Tracker

1 Terrifying Shadow UnSea filled with Monsters
1 Unexpected Grisha (Magic Worker)

1 Magical School with
3 Orders of Grisha
1 Dark and Brooding Bad Boy, Necessitating
1 Sort-of Love Triangle
Unanswered Letters

1 Dangerous Hunt for an Amplifier
1 Request for an Impossible Sacrifice
Confusing but Prophetic Dreams

The Short Version:
I had heard about this series ages ago, but was never quite drawn to it but picked this up after watching the first half of the Netflix series (which I am enjoying immensely) - and if it helps cement my devotion, I immediately grabbed the next two from the library on my next visit.

I really enjoyed this - I found Alina relatable with enough naivete, awkwardness and selfishness to be interesting without too much (lest I spend the entire book shouting at the characters). I enjoyed seeing her grow into her powers and her new world.

Ago 2, 2021, 4:03 pm

Oh man, I love your field notes!

Ago 3, 2021, 3:31 am

>102 Charon07: I do too.

>101 Caramellunacy: On my TBR-list already, but it's moving up to the top 5!

Ago 5, 2021, 8:51 am

Artefact: Merry Meet by Isobel Bird
(Circle of Three, Book 02)

Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent to Make its Way in the World

Beecher Falls, WA, Contemporary (p.2001)

3 Friends with an Interest in Wicca/Witchcraft
2 Competing Friend Groups
1 New Friend / Rival? with a Secret

1 Longed For Boyfriend
1 Wiccan Boy with Golden Eyes

2 Rituals/Ceremonies
1 Intro to Witchcraft Course
Many, Many Questions

The Short Version
This reads quite young - sort of a middle grade mashup of Babysitter's Club or Satin Slippers and Charmed. None of the problems are particularly urgent and are quite readily solved with no real emotional fall-out.
The main focus is really an explanation and exploration of what it might be like to participate in and study Wicca - discussion of rituals and ethics, but also the fear of ostracism from the "cool"/"popular" side or from one's parents.
Mostly this had me remembering the witchy/Wicca fad everywhere when I was at school - I probably would have eaten this up with a spoon around age 12. As is, I found it briefly amusing, but ultimately forgettable.

Ago 8, 2021, 7:31 am

Artefact: The Blue Eyed Aborigine by Rosemary Hayes
Trove: Paperback
Status: Castaway

Houtman Abrolhos (an arid archipelago off the Western coast of Australia), 1629

1 Notorious Shipwreck and Mutiny
1 Charismatic Leader
1 Runty Cabin Boy with Strong Resentment
1 Soldier Seeking to Protect Lucretia

Countless Murders & Rapes
Undeserved Mercy
A New Life Ashore

The Short Version
The first half of this book is based on what is known about the Wreck of the Batavia and the subsequent mutiny and the second half an imagining of what may have happened to the two mutineers who were spared hanging and were instead marooned on the coast of Australia - including reports of Aboriginals in Western Australia with fair hair and light eyes.

This was a tricky one for me - the book seems aimed at older children/young teens in terms of language and level of detail, but (of course) the subject matter is quite gruesome. In order to follow the castaways to the mainland, our protagonist is teen cabin boy Jan Pelgrom - assistant to ringleader Jeronimus Corneliez and convicted of at least one murder as well as "misbehaving" with married women (so rape). He is a pretty detestable protagonist - he desperately wants to fit in and he enjoys peacocking about and his newfound power over the cowering passengers. Instead of spending enough time with his emotional state to understand him better, the book largely glosses over his crimes and the general mass murder and only has him reflect a bit on his raping later (when we are supposed to believe he would never hurt a young Aboriginal woman he is interested in) - and not in a way that really dealt with him forcing people into sex to save others/because he felt like he was owed sex because he wanted it other than including a throwaway sentence.

Honestly, I needed more depictions of Corneliez' actual influence and peer pressure - or any actual character development/inner life - for me to want to spend any time with Jan or to enjoy his making a new life. I enjoyed the survival and first contact aspects - I just had no interest in being there with Jan.

Ago 8, 2021, 9:54 am

Do you think the book was actually written for teens/kids? That's a brutal story, odd to think children would be the intended audience. But a few years ago I read a children's book about Jack the Ripper. I don't know why there needed to be an explanation of the crimes aimed at children.

Ago 8, 2021, 11:55 am

>106 mstrust: I do think it was aimed at teens - especially the second half reads like exactly the sort of survival adventure story that appeals so much at that age and it felt like the Batavia aspects were included to explain how the protagonists got there rather than being an integral part of their characters. It probably would have worked better if there had been a short prologue or flashback with the main focus being on surviving and integrating with the local indigenous population.

Ago 19, 2021, 4:05 am

Waving! How are you doing? I hope everything is alright, CL.

Ago 21, 2021, 10:35 am

Hi Connie! Thanks so much for stopping by - yes, all is well. My partner and I have been travelling a bunch in-country trying to use this summer to see some of the historical sites that we've somehow missed. But we don't have a car, so logistics with public transportation and bus tours (though we try to avoid those as much as possible) has been sapping all of my reading energy it feels like.

But I always seem to find a book or two that is special to a site that needs to come home with me - sometimes a guide-book, sometimes a YA novel or a popular history. It's been fun.

I'm just catching up on threads, so will pop by momentarily to check on you!

Ago 29, 2021, 8:35 am

>109 Caramellunacy: The problems of not having a car! I have the same problem here. But I feel safe enough to travel by train, just by avoiding the rush hours. Last weekend I went to visit my friend for two nights and it was really very doable. But when schools are starting again on September 4 the trains will get full again.

Set 6, 2021, 6:38 am

Going on a de-accession run. This time to lose out-of-date travel guides and similar. 5 books out of the house!

Set 7, 2021, 6:35 am

Artefact: Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
(Grishaverse, Series 01; Grisha, Book 02)
Trove: Library
Status: Returned to its Hiding Place

The Bone Road & Ravka, Once Upon a Time
1 Russia-Inspired Fantasy World

1 Sun Summoner
1 Restless Tracker and Bodyguard
1 Ruthless Privateer in Disguise
2 Faithful Twin Protectors (with Secrets)

Visions of the Darkling
Terrifying Shadow Creatures

Several Very Cool Machines
1 Uneasy Truce Between Grisha Orders and the First Army
1 Creepy Cult following "Saint" Alina
Petulant Princes

Too Much Brawling
Not Enough Smooching
The Dreaded Middle Book

The Short Version:
I hate middle books of trilogies. Everything is always so bleak and unresolved and everyone is miserable and snappy and prone to stupid misunderstandings because nobody can be happy until the final book.

This is no real exception - on the plus side, at least I actually understood why Mal and Alina end up fighting - the pressures on each of them and their needs are largely incompatible and neither of them want to address it.

I liked the time spent with the ingenious Sturmhond - ruthless privateer extraordinaire with a number of tricks up his sleeves. I liked seeing David essentially apply physics to strengthen Alina's magic and the ongoing research puzzle. But dang, I could have used at least a small victory in there somewhere. Middle books...ugh.

(That said, I am off to read the third now!)

Out 1, 2021, 3:47 am

Good to hear that, CL. I'm looking forward to reading that series anytime soon.

Out 9, 2021, 9:35 am

>112 Caramellunacy: I'm going to have to try this series soon. I've read the Six of Crows duology for our bookclub and I watched the first episode of the TV series but I think I'll read the books first and then carry on watching. But I'll borrow it from the library (at least unless I fall in love with it and have to have it on my shelves) which means it'll have to wait until I catch up on my ROOTs.

Out 9, 2021, 9:46 am

>114 humouress:
I definitely think reading the books first before getting too far into the series is the way to go. I know the feeling of falling in love with a series and needing the books on shelves instead of waiting for the library - I enjoyed these, but that didn't happen to me here.

Out 13, 2021, 5:00 am

Artefact: Waking the Dead by Kylie Brant (The Mindhunters, Book 03)
Trove: Very damp paperback (stranded in my luggage on the tarmac during an epic storm)
Status: Sent off to investigate elsewhere

McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, Contemporary (p. 2009)

7 Sets of Skeletal Remains

1 Forensic Anthropologist (formerly Runway Model)
1 Outdoor Outfitter (formerly Army Ranger)
Too Much Pointless Bickering, that detracts from
Maybe 3 Scenes where the Protagonists seem to Like One Another

So Much Trauma that No One Seems to have Dealt with Appropriately
1 Meddling Mother
Countless Antiquated and Infuriating Misogynist Internal Monologues Masquerading as "Rugged and Manly"
1 Great Set-down that is Sadly Never Repeated

Surprise! Biographical Paintings
Dermestid Beetles
1 Readily Apparent Plot Twist (Mildly Obscured by the Weight of Reader Expectations and Stilted Language Choices)
1 Shoot-Out
Chekhov's Ice Caves

The Short Version:
This one is going to end up in the Not-for-Me pile. The mystery aspects I enjoyed (although I would have liked for there to be slightly more insights from the actual forensic anthropology that is Cait's expertise) -

Cait Fleming is competent and largely unflustered by those (read: everyone in town) who think she must be an idiot because of her teen runway model career. She is an unabashed science nerd and doesn't shy away from thorough investigation. Nor does she have the "overconfidence" outdoor outfitter Zach Sharper accuses her of - which is based on no actual evidence or actions/words of hers and more based on the fact that he doesn't want to guide her because of his preconceived notions and sullen adolescent resentment at being roped into doing so by the sheriff.

That is essentially typical of their interactions. Cait is doing her job while he stands around snarling about how angry he is that he can't go hermit in the woods. He's constantly mad about her doing her job - especially angry about the audacity of her asking for elimination prints when he found the remains initially... He's also constantly mentally accusing her of using her looks to "manipulate" men into answering her questions - but a) there is no evidence of that on page and b) their preconceptions are their own doing. All of this is firmly "his issue" and not one he ever bothers to examine or dismantle. Other than his abs, I'm not sure what he has going for him.

Their constant bickering really detracts from the "romance" side of things as it isn't fun / masking sexual tension - it's pretty much just ugly.

The big twist was pretty apparent to me the killer's partner "Sweetie" is obviously a man, not the preconceived woman, which I guessed because the narrative refused to use a pronoun . I had Sweetie pegged pretty early on and guessed the other culprit relatively late in the book, but the "why" wasn't really explored at all which is the part I tend to be most interested in.

Out 13, 2021, 11:58 am

>116 Caramellunacy: Sorry that one wasn't for you! I'm giggling at "So Much Trauma that No One Seems to have Dealt with Appropriately," lol.

Nov 1, 2021, 6:12 am

Lured by the promise of gold and adventure (and girls dressed as boys on essentially the Oregon Trail) in curioussquared's thread I set off on a side excavation.

Artefact: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson (The Gold Seer Trilogy, Book 01)
Trove: E-book
Status: Seek Out More Nuggets

Dahlonega, Georgia; Independence, Missouri and the Trail to California, 1848/9

1 Hard-Working Young Woman with a Sense for Gold (and Skill with a Rifle)
1 Half-Cherokee Teen Boy Seeking to Escape His Terrible Family
1 Cameo by Historical Figure James "Free Jim" Boisclair - an African-American gold miner and entrepreneur (I hope we get more of him in later books)
1 Villainous Relative

1 Over-stuffed Wagon
Many Trailside Tragedies that Reminded Me of Playing the Oregon Trail (Caulk the Wagons!)
Prejudice and Bigotry (But Acknowledged, Not Swept Under a Rug)
1 Girl in Boy's Clothing

The Short Version:
I really enjoyed this - historical fiction with just a touch of fantasy/magic, a cross-country trek with the dangers and beauties of the American West, a girl disguised as a boy. The pace was leisurely, but since I wanted to know what Lee was doing pretty much all of the time, I didn't mind that at all. I am definitely looking forward to the next in the series.

Nov 1, 2021, 10:34 am

>118 Caramellunacy: Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Nov 1, 2021, 12:10 pm

>119 curioussquared: I really did! I had been meaning to read it for a while, but your thread gave me the right nudge at the right time.

Nov 10, 2021, 12:24 pm

Artefact: Witchful Thinking by H.P. Mallory
(Jolie Wilkins, Book 03)

Trove: Paperback
Status: Sent Away

Pelham Manor, Contemporary (p.2012)
A magical part of Scotland where one can simultaneously admire puffins and blooming heather...

74 pages of Previously, on... Infodump

1 Newly Proclaimed Queen of the Underworld
1 Love Triangle featuring:
- 1 Stick-in-the-Mud Warlock with Anti-Monarchic Leanings
- 1 Bad Boy Vampire with a Hidden Agenda and a Truly Painful To Read Spelling of His Name (SINJIN???)
Several Marriage Proposals (though None from the Love Triangle Members)
Too Many Decisions Made on the Basis of Pants-Feelings Rather than Sound Political (or Other) Reasoning

Dire and Growing Threat to the Existence of Underworld Denizens as a Whole that is Treated as Subordinate to the Dilemma of Which Boy to Choose
1 Mysterious Prophetess
Dozens of Reanimations of Deceased, including
- 1 Vampire named Klaasje with a "Texan Twang" with a History with the Bad Boy Vampire
1 Block on our Heroine's Power that is Somehow Never Investigated

1 "True Love" Bond that Fails to Materialize After All
1 Sexy Dance Lesson
Several Spells Cast on Love Interest involving Dubious Consent (Previous Books?)
1 Timeloop Cliffhanger

0 Actual Events that Further Anything Resembling a Plot

The Short Version
Nothing Happened. A woman made poor decisions between two equally unattractive-to-the-modern-eye love interests she is lusting after and decides to sext telepathically rather than pay attention to the meetings determining the fate of those dependent on her in her new-found powerful role. Everyone wants to shag Sookie Stackhouse Jolie Wilkins.

Meanwhile I am tortured by the fact that the author named this poor vampire Sinjin Sinclair. I CANNOT. Away it goes.

Nov 10, 2021, 3:48 pm

>121 Caramellunacy: OK, I appreciate you taking that one for the team, but I have to say I think that's your best review of the year, I sniggered several times!

Nov 10, 2021, 5:08 pm

>121 Caramellunacy: Lol! Sorry you went through that but I agree with Jackie, I very much enjoyed the review :D

Nov 11, 2021, 6:26 am

>122 Jackie_K:
>123 curioussquared:

Needless to say, I will NOT be continuing with that series, though I am glad to have brought you some amusement. Hopefully the next one will be more fun.

Nov 11, 2021, 7:59 am

>121 Caramellunacy: Haha that is an awesome review! I hope your next book is more enjoyable.

Nov 12, 2021, 7:53 am

>121 Caramellunacy: Thanks for providing some sniggers on an otherwise grey day. I hope you enjoyed writing it and getting the disappointment out of the way.

Nov 12, 2021, 11:23 pm

>121 Caramellunacy: Made me laugh too, thank you. I don't think I'll be picking up that series.

Editado: Nov 28, 2021, 9:21 am

Artefact: The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
Trove: Borrowed from Library
Status: Would Visit Again, but Would Check ID Carefully!

Loch Dorn (a small boutique hotel on Scotland's West Coast near Skye), Contemporary in the BeforeTimes (p. 2021)

1 Drifting Young Woman with No Career Prospects
1 Case of Mistaken Identity Taken Way, Way Too Far
1 Very Bad Sort-of Boyfriend

1 Absent Sommelier Friend
0 Wine Knowledge or Credentials
1 Newly Branded Hotel Depending on the Sommelier to Save their Fortune

1 Staff of Lovable Misfits, Including
1 Michelin-Starred Jerk of a Managing Chef
1 Very Handsome Chef with a Passion for Foraging
1 Very Eager Young Wine Enthusiast (Life-Saving Variety)
1 Closet Alcoholic

1 Wine-Based Event that Needs to Be Extraordinary
Too Many Lies to Count
Several Disasters
Beautiful Landscape
Woefully Inadequate Clothing

The Not-So-Short Version:
Elizabeth "Birdy" Finch has no real plan in life and is drifting from unsatisfactory job to unsatisfactory job. When her best friend - an up and coming young sommelier - ditches a job at a small hotel in Scotland and the manager of the hotel mistakes Birdy for her friend at a wine event Birdy is attending in her stead...well, it just seems easier to bluff it out. After all, it's one summer in Scotland - how much could there really be to recommending wine, anyway?

There was a lot to like about this novel - but as a heads-up. It is not as frothy and fluffy as the rom-com cover would have you believe. The book deals (well) with alcoholism, and issues arising from being the child of an alcoholic.

Birdy soon finds herself in way over her head (the hotel has had a luxury makeover and the job entails far more than she anticipated), but buckles down to study to make the most of the summer without (hopefully) destroying her friend's reputation or hopelessly misleading her romantic interest. The staff are a ragtag bunch of lovable misfits who help one another out (heartwarming) through a number of amusing disasters. The inevitable boy is lovely and Scotland around the Isle of Skye is gorgeous and described in a way that lets you admire its beauty as Birdy does. I actually like that a woman in her early 30s is still a bit adrift and trying to figure out her place in the world and the work she does and how invested she becomes in Loch Dorn are great.

But Birdy doesn't come clean to her friend Heather - even to plan a make-it-or-break-it Wine Society event that could both ruin the hotel AND Heather's reputation, but somehow she manages to BS her way through it with the help of Google?. Listen, I know that people who are super-pretentious about wine can be incredibly intimidating, and I didn't have a problem with Birdy's more casual approach being a good thing in the dining room. I didn't even mind her studying the wine list with others' reviews to bust out memorized keywords. Fine - she put in some serious work. I got mad when she acted like completely screwing up in front of a pretentious reviewer didn't matter. But her "succeeding" at a fancy wine society event of people who know their way around wine just because she tells good jokes just felt incredibly insulting to the work it takes to become a sommelier and her friend. The sort-of grovel at the end doesn't do anything to actually apologize to the people whose livelihoods she risked, and it made me mad that she didn't have to deal with any consequences from being so incredibly self-involved and risking not herself (fine and understandable) but a LOT of others. Instead she has a direction! So it must be worth it! I liked her, I wanted things to be ok for her in the end and I wanted her to find her sense of belonging. But I don't think she actually did any of the work to repair the relationships that all miraculously are fine by the end of the book.

I have super-mixed feelings about this book. Birdy was a great character - and I really was rooting for her to make it through everything ok. I think if the final event had been her telling Heather, telling Irene, telling someone and then everyone pulling together to make the event work - Birdy being honest and letting others help - I would have enjoyed this a lot more. I just didn't buy the "victory" which seemed like it had a chip on its shoulder about showing up "pretentious wine people" rather than the heart we'd seen elsewhere.

Also I (probably disproportionately) resented that nameless tourists with "one of those perfect little Texan accents" asks her for a recommendation, she fobs them off with Chardonnay because "Americans only ever drink bloody Chardonnay" and he asks for it with an ice cube. Making fun of these people for not knowing what to drink when you know NOTHING about wine except that you like to fill the glass to the brim didn't strike me as particularly funny.

I hear this is being made into a TV show, and I think that would be amazing fun, actually. Beautiful scenery and hijinks in the Highlands!

Nov 28, 2021, 11:40 am

>128 Caramellunacy: I've been delaying delivery on this from my library for a few weeks now while I finish up some other stuff so I'll probably get to it soonish. I'll come back and read your spoilers then!

Editado: Nov 29, 2021, 10:02 am

>128 Caramellunacy: Since I don't have that lined up, I went ahead and read your spoilers. I think I'll reserve judgement on whether to read the book until Natalie reviews it too.

Dez 7, 2021, 6:29 am

Love all the reviews, CL. Always such fun.

Jan 3, 2022, 5:49 pm

My participation petered out a bit as things got messy in real life, but I doubled my goal of my own artefacts excavated and even managed to reach my Spoils Heap goal (which needs to be higher for the coming year). I was hoping to put in some stats and maybe a map, but that will have to wait until back from the holidays (if at all). But I am pretty proud of myself. It's been a rough year, but I will give it another shot in 2022! Hope to see you all again.

Editado: Jan 3, 2022, 5:50 pm

edited to delete duplicate

Jan 3, 2022, 6:01 pm

Woo hoo, glad you met your goals! See you in the new group :)