Reviews & Rants - Blogging about books, authors, and generally 

Reading progress update: I've read 48 out of 303 pages.

Savage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain - Jennifer Jordan

The approach to K2 was infamous, and Wanda knew what she was in for: a grueling two weeks of travel, most of it on foot. Under the best of circumstances, it would demand a level of peak physical fitness. On crutches, it would be excruciating, but she was determined to be part of the expedition she’d so painstakingly planned.

On crutches???!!!!! She started this while still recovering from a broken femur?!?!?!?!


Reading progress update: I've read 3 out of 303 pages.

Savage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain - Jennifer Jordan

On certain peaks the fatality rates are staggering, but on K2 they are mind-boggling. When a climber straps on his crampons with the intent of ascending K2, he knows he has a one-in-four chance of not making it off the mountain alive. One in four. And as bad as those odds are, they are even worse for women. Six women have reached the summit of K2, but five have died trying. (In addition to the three who died on descent, another two women died on ascent without reaching the summit.) For women the statistics are small but nonetheless powerful. The bottom line is that women have fared disastrously on K2.

   Ironically, as bad as their experience on K2 has been, women actually die less often than men on the other 8,000-meter peaks. Although there has been almost no scientific research on the effects of high altitude on the female body, what little data there are actually indicate that women are better suited to the rigors of the Death Zone than their male colleagues. Recent studies suggest that as men and women climb higher, men’s initial advantage of muscle mass and brute strength equalizes out against women’s better endurance and ability to adapt to the thin air. Not only do women suffer high-altitude pulmonary edema less often, but they acclimatize better, they retain their base body weight better, and their more efficient circulatory systems lead them to suffer less frostbite—the formation of ice crystals in the cells that destroys their structure and constricts the oxygen flow, leading to infection and, if untreated, quickly to gangrene, resulting finally in amputation. There is also early evidence that the female sex hormone helps to guard women against the deadly effects of high altitude, but further research needs to be done to make that theory conclusive.

Aaargh, I wish there had been an end note or footnote or other form of reference here. I'd have loved to look up the research behind this.

Bel Canto

Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

DNF @ p.50.


I just could not get invested in the story or the characters. Then I came to a point where Alex, the opera singer, performs just after the entire party has been taken hostages.


I'm sorry, but I can't suspend my disbelief enough to buy that people who have just been taken hostage by a group of automatic-rifle-slinging terrorists would give a damn about a musical performance, never mind appreciate the finder points of opera.


Erm. Next.

Reading progress update: I've read 42 out of 319 pages.

Bel Canto - Ann Patchett



I may need to look up what the rules are for DNFs in the BL-Opoly game. I'm not finding any interest in this story or any of the characters at all.

Weekend Planning

It's the university's May Festival this weekend, so I am off to join in. I had to make a plan, tho, because there is so much going on, and I can say that there is only one thing that is better for planning than a spreadsheet, and that is circling and crossing out events on a schedule. :D


Booklikes-Opoly! - Roll & Book Selection - Memorial Day Bonus Rolls

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm not going to be able to hold off rolling my Memorial Day bonus turns!


Bonus Roll # 1:


You rolled 2 dice:

6 1

Timestamp: 2019-05-24 22:45:06 UTC


Which takes me to:


21. The cat: Roll again & hold card to play later; be the cat. Read whatever the hell you want.


So, I pocket the Cat card and roll again:



You rolled 2 dice:

1 3

Timestamp: 2019-05-24 22:55:15 UTC


Which takes me to:


25. I look forward to the summer blockbuster movie releases every year!
Read a book that has been adapted for a film.


I'll need to think about this one, but I am leaning toward Ann Patchett's Bel Canto.



Bonus Roll # 2:


You rolled 2 dice:

4 5

Timestamp: 2019-05-24 22:58:54 UTC


35. We took the Ferry to France, crossing the English Channel.
Read a book set in Europe, or that was written by an author who was born in a Europe, or that involves travel by boat or that has a picture of a ship on the cover.



Yup. I have a book that fits here. Too many of them. I'll need some time to think about which one I want to read. 

Booklikes-Opoly! - Roll & Book Selection

Savage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain - Jennifer Jordan

I read Chapter #3 "Glucose" of Napoleon's Buttons during my lunch break today and have just finished Ladies' Bane. It's time for another roll. (I'll add the Memorial Day extra rolls tomorrow.)


You rolled 2 dice:

2 4

Timestamp: 2019-05-24 22:26:33 UTC


...which lands me on:


15. My husband, Mr. MR, is a big fan of the mountain vacation.
Read a book with a tree (or trees) on the cover, or that is set in a mountain community.


Ok. Seriously? Mountain books, eh? 


Bank: $23

Reading progress update: I've read 81%.

Ladies’ Bane - Patricia Wentworth

LoL. Miss Silver as a combination of Sherlock and Marple?

“In fact, no fury like a woman scorned. You know, the immortal Sherlock was perfectly right when he pointed out that the English countryside fairly seethes with material for crime. I seem to remember that Dr. Watson couldn’t believe him! But I can!”

Miss Silver looked some slight reproof, and opined that human nature was very much the same wherever you found it, but that of course in the country people did know more about their next door neighbours.

TA, I think we have a definite nod to ACD in this one. 

Reading progress update: I've read 50%.

Ladies’ Bane - Patricia Wentworth

Curiouser and curiouser, ...


There is so much going on here. 


I'm not keen on the emotional apathy of the main characters. They seem to have no regrets over the death

of a child at all, and this only because they see her mental disability as a burden. Again, times have changed and all that, but I would have thought that at least someone would show some feeling towards the child.

(show spoiler)


We also have new clue, and another attempted murder which was prevented at the last moment by someone who seems to be ... Joseph Bell (on whom Sherlock Holmes was modelled):

“What happened? Were you behind us? What did you see?”

Miss Silver shook her head regretfully.

“Very little, I am afraid. There was a very big man in front of me wearing one of those old-fashioned Inverness capes. It was he, of course, who saved your sister’s life. No one could have reached her in time, but he caught her arm with the crook of his stick.”

Ione drew in her breath. “I didn’t see him,” she said—“only his arm—and the stick. He must have gone away.”

Miss Silver said in a non-committal voice, “He may not have wanted to be thanked.”


Reading progress update: I've read 44%.

Ladies’ Bane - Patricia Wentworth

Her glance passed to Ione Muir, to Miss Delauny, to Geoffrey Trent. Jacqueline Delauny had a handkerchief clenched in her hand. She raised it suddenly, not to her eyes but to her lips, as if the task of controlling them had become too much for her. As she did so she looked in the direction of the door and became aware of Miss Silver’s scrutiny. The lashes came down over the dark eyes. Miss Silver was left thinking about what she had seen in the instant before they fell.

I loved this paragraph. What a way to build the tension!

Reading progress update: I've read 36%.

Ladies’ Bane - Patricia Wentworth

“What is it?”

“There’s something lying at the foot of the quarry wall.”



Ooooh! We have a suspicious death! 


Sometimes, it is just brilliant to not know anything about the book you're reading. I find this is becoming increasingly true for me, even - or especially - when you can find summaries, reviews, and background information for most stories somewhere online nowadays.

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

Ladies’ Bane - Patricia Wentworth

“Oh, no, we never scold her,” said Jacqueline Delauny.

Her tone was that of the civilized person who is addressing a member of some backward tribe. Ione’s reactions were of the simplest. She felt an inward glow of fury, and she said,


Miss Delauny’s superiority became a little more pronounced. “It would not help.”

“Have you tried?”

Some parts of this story are painfully dated, but some are just hilarious. At least, I find them hilarious even if there is nothing funny about the idea that one could scold someone out of an addiction. 


Anyway, this story has been quite an onion so far ... it has layers peeling off, which reveal the mystery. I still haven't got a clue what the actual mystery is.


Btw, Ammy UK has this edition listed as 237 pages. I had read 9% before BL-Opoly so I'll round down to count only 200 pages towards my Jail space reading and will add a chapter from either Napoleon's Buttons or Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography towards the Jail reading task.

Mountaineering Book Haul

Savage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain - Jennifer Jordan Clouds from Both Sides: The story of the first British woman to climb an 8,000-metre peak - Julie Tullis, Peter Gillman Just for the love of it - Cathy O'Dowd The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest - Anatoli Boukreev, G. Weston DeWalt

As many of you know, I love a mountaineering book every now and then. And so does Lillelara. So, when Lillelara recently shared updates on her read of Savage Summit, I checked what books I had left unread on my shelf and found that there only was one - ONE - book. And it isn't one that holds much promise for me as I postponed reading it after I found some reviews highlighting a few shortcomings...


So, erm, I added a few books to Mt. TBR. 

Reading progress update: I've read 14%.

Ladies’ Bane - Patricia Wentworth

Oh, so the mystery at the start isn't the main mystery?

Booklikes-Opoly! - Roll & Book Selection

Having finished Death on the Nile earlier this evening, I rolled again tonight:


You rolled 2 dice:

4 1

Timestamp: 2019-05-22 19:57:13 UTC


...which lands me in Jail. Just visiting, of course. 


So, I will read up enough pages to equate $3 (201 - 400 pages), and donate the money to the Bail Fund.


From what I remember last time, reading for this square can be spread over several books, right?


If so, I'll use some of the books I'm currently reading. 

The Game is Afoot...


Many thanks to Murder by Death for the game board file. My version is a lot less polished and ... erm ... flat, and certainly not at risk of being decorated with paw prints or furry house mates, but I could not possibly pass up the opportunity to have an actual game board.


I'm using a plectrum as my game piece. :D

Currently reading

Savage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain by Jennifer Jordan
Progress: 95/303pages
The Complete Works (Oxford Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare, John Jowett, Gary Taylor
Progress: 183/1344pages
Shakespeare's Unorthodox Biography: New Evidence of an Authorship Problem by Diana Price
Progress: 126/376pages
Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History by Jay Burreson, Penny Le Couteur
Progress: 87/377pages