I seriously missed the notifications for comments SO.DAMN.MUCH!
EDIT: I may have started the happy dance too soon. :( I have some notifications but they are all over the place.
Reviews & Rants - Blogging about books, authors, and generally
"I wonder where the old codger was," he said to his wife as he sat down to his tea, and spread his bread with a liberal helping of butter and stretched out his arm for the jam.
"Iding," suggested Mrs Simmons promptly.
"But I looked all over the place - I looked in the toolshed even -"
"More fool you!" retorted his better half scornfully, "if 'e 'ad bin in the toolshed it would 'ave meant 'e didn't want to be found. What call 'ad you to be 'unting for the pore gentleman in the toolshed? None. If 'e didn't want to be found it was yore place not to find 'im - see?"
LoL. This is a lot of fun.
I just noticed that I haven't posted a Sunday Soup for ages. Sorry about that.
This week has been rather manic, but has also had some high points such as an impromptu dinner with a friend who was in town from Houston, and on a more bookish note, I finished The War the Ended Peace, which left me with a sense of achievement. It felt like a very long book and like hard work.
Anyway, I made some soup earlier to celebrate Sunday. This is Take # 2 of my attempts at a simple potato soup (Take # 1 was ok, but needed more work).
I liked this. There's soup enough for lunch tomorrow, too.
4-5 Potatoes, peeled, diced
2 carrots, peeled, diced
1 red pepper
2 sticks of celery
1 clove garlic
Vegetable stock, salt, pepper, a bit of red chilli (because I like a little spice), nutmeg, bay leave, caraway seeds.
For the topping: (veggie) sausages, sliced and fried with a few shallots.
Happy (Soup) Sunday!
I have lots of stuff to get on with this afternoon, but have spent the last 30 minutes glued to Lively's book - I won't call it "memoir". It's only partly a memoir. - in particular to her discussion of the Suez Crisis.
I couldn’t be at the meeting, not being a senior member of the university, but I remember vividly the heightened atmosphere of that time, the urgency of the newspapers, the climate of discussion, of argument, and eventually, for many of us, of outrage. For me, what was happening had a personal dimension – here was my own country dropping bombs on the country I still thought of as a kind of home. The Suez crisis was a baptism of fire, a political awakening, the recognition that you could and should quarrel with government, that you could disagree and disapprove.
I really want to re-read Moon Tiger after this book. Not because it also looks at Suez, but because it has a similar theme in that the MC looks at her own life and ties it to current event of the time.
Also, as some of you know, I have had some rough reading experiences with the RL book group I sort of joined last year. Dancing Fish and Ammonites is their choice for February and I cannot wait to see what they all thought about. It also is the first one I'm reading with that group that I really like. (In fairness, they had picked Rebecca a few months ago, but I was too busy with something else to re-read it.)
"I am no longer acquisitive. I was never exactly voracious, but I could fall prey to sudden lust: one simply could not live a moment longer without that sampler spotted in an antique shop, or that picture or rug or chair. No longer. I can admire, but I no longer covet. Books of course are another matter; books are not acquisitions, they are necessities."
Penelope Lively - Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time
Miss Isabella looked at Barbara with contempt - fancy standing up for Miss King! But of course nobody in Silverstream cared what Barbara Buncle thought, the woman was nothing but an idiot. She wondered idly what Barbara Buncle was thinking about now, sitting there with that silly vacant smile upon her face. She would have been surprised if she could have read the thoughts that prompted the silly smile.
Ok, I'm hooked. This is delightful and had me grinning since page 1, but the description of the tennis club just now and Vivian's chasing the vicar for company really cracked me up.
The rest of the book are notes and sources.
That was a hell of a long, depressing, and infuriating read - but it was worth it.
I haven't been able to keep up with the chapter updates - it didn't help that BL was (and still is) so slow to load anything - but I will add more thoughts to the forthcoming review.
And if we want to point fingers from the twenty-first century we can accuse those who took Europe into war of two things. First, a failure of imagination in not seeing how destructive such a conflict would be and second, their lack of courage to stand up to those who said there was no choice left but to go war. There are always choices.
It's Pancake Day today. I'm not making this up. It's a thing.
Shrove Tuesday is celebrated differently in different parts of the world, and in these parts, we are having Pancake Day.
There was a short but fun article on the BBC News website today giving some details to the background of Pancake Day. I don't really care that much about the significance of Shrove Tuesday, but I am partial to a pancake. Especially one made just right to my own liking: not too thick, lightly browned, and not drowned in syrup.
A bit like this...
I've gone for a fruity topping today, but Nutella was a close second choice...except I forgot to pick up a jar on the way home.
Anyway, I still have left over for breakfast tomorrow.
When I was a student, I used to phone my mum at any time of day (or night) because I could never remember how much milk and how much flour. I eventually wrote it down on a sticky note, which is still pinned to my kitchen wall.
100 g flour (I used self raising)
200 ml milk
1 pinch of salt
I don't use oil or butter in my pan as most recipes recommend. The non-stick pan usually works better for pancakes without additional oil - the oil or butter is usually soaked up by the first pancake...and usually makes the firs pancake the least tasty one. So I don't add oil or butter to the pan, and trust me, these lovelies were anything but dry.
Have you been celebrating Tuesday?
I meant to read this book in 2014, but may have gotten side-tracked with other books about WWI in that year...
I'll keep a running post for reading updates for this book as it will encompass too much information to deal with in one post and I would like to keep notes while reading - and I would like to keep the notes in one place.
Chapters 10 through 16 - ...
I haven't made notes on these chapters individually. They all describe further events in international politics that are fuelled by imperialism, nationalism, and the general ineptitude of various people in positions where diplomacy and circumspection are requirements which they all seem to be lacking and try to make up for with arrogance, nationalism, and ambition to put themselves on the map.
Aehrenthal recognised that there were risks in stirring up the Balkans. The international scene, he told Austria-Hungary’s Common Ministerial Council in the autumn of 1907, was generally good but there were trouble spots, such as the Balkans themselves or Morocco, and there were turbulent forces at large in the world. ‘The stage is set, the actors are ready, only the costumes are lacking for the play to begin. The second decade of the 20th century may well witness very grave events. In view of the combustible material about, they may come sooner.’32 In 1908 Aehrenthal came close to setting that material alight but luck was with him and the world for the time being.
Alois von Aehrenthal was Austria-Hungary's Foreign Minister, and it is actions and statements like the above that show how unsuitable he was for that positions. Many of his international counterparts seem to have been no better.
Seriously, these people were bat-shit crazy and it is scary and depressing to read, even more so when one considers how many "politicians" today lack the very qualities - knowledge, tact, circumspection, diplomacy, long-term planning - caused the infernal events of WWI and its consequences.
Previous updates are below the page break.
Update - Feb. 2018: 44 of 66 books read. There are a few favourites among the ones that are left.
Update - Jul. 2017: 35 of 66 books read. I think most of the clangers are out of the way now.
Update - Jan. 2017: 28 of 66 books read. Looking forward to more.
Update - Jun. 2016: A few more of the reads and re-reads taken off the list.
Update - Dec. 2015: I'll repost this every now and then to keep track of titles and reviews.
I have read most of Dame Agatha's books in my teens (though mostly in translation) but as am in the process of a re-read, I need a list to keep me right.
|1920||The Mysterious Affair at Styles||Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
|1922||The Secret Adversary||Tommy and Tuppence|
|1923||The Murder on the Links||Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Monsieur Giraud
|1924||The Man in the Brown Suit||Colonel Race
|1925||The Secret of Chimneys||Superintendent Battle
|1926||The Murder of Roger Ackroyd||Hercule Poirot
|1927||The Big Four||Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
|1928||The Mystery of the Blue Train||Hercule Poirot|
|1929||The Seven Dials Mystery||Superintendent Battle
Eileen "Bundle" Brent
|1930||The Murder at the Vicarage||Miss Marple
|1931||The Sittaford Mystery
also Murder at Hazelmoor
|1932||Peril at End House||Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
|1933||Lord Edgware Dies
also Thirteen at Dinner
Arthur Hastings, Inspector Japp
|1934||Murder on the Orient Express
also Murder in the Calais Coach
|1934||Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
also The Boomerang Clue
|1935||Three Act Tragedy
also Murder in Three Acts
|1935||Death in the Clouds
also Death in the Air
|1936||The A.B.C. Murders
also The Alphabet Murders
Arthur Hastings, Chief Inspector Japp
|1936||Murder in Mesopotamia||Hercule Poirot
Captain Maitland, Dr. Reilly
|1936||Cards on the Table||Hercule Poirot
Colonel Race, Superintendent Battle, Ariadne Oliver
also Poirot Loses a Client/Mystery at Littlegreen House
|1937||Death on the Nile||Hercule Poirot
|1938||Appointment with Death||Hercule Poirot|
|1938||Hercule Poirot's Christmas
also Murder for Christmas/A Holiday for Murder
|1939||Murder is Easy
also Easy to Kill
|1939||And Then There Were None
||Sir Thomas Legge
|1940||Sad Cypress||Hercule Poirot|
|1940||One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
also An Overdose of Death/The Patriotic Murders
Chief Inspector Japp
|1941||Evil Under the Sun||Hercule Poirot
Colonel Weston, Inspector Colgate
|1941||N or M?||Tommy and Tuppence|
|1942||The Body in the Library||Miss Marple
|1942||Five Little Pigs
also Murder in Retrospect
|1942||The Moving Finger
also The Case of the Moving Finger
also Come and Be Hanged
Inspector James Leach
|1944||Death Comes as the End||Hori|
also Remembered Death
Chief Inspector Kemp
also Murder After Hours
|1948||Taken at the Flood
also There is a Tide...
|1949||Crooked House||Charles Hayward
Chief Inspector Taverner
|1950||A Murder is Announced||Miss Marple
Chief Inspector Craddock
|1951||They Came to Baghdad||Victoria Jones|
|1952||Mrs McGinty's Dead
also Blood Will Tell
Ariadne Oliver, Superintendent Spence
|1952||They Do It with Mirrors
also Murder with Mirrors
|1953||After the Funeral
also Funerals are Fatal
Inspector Morton, Mr. Goby
|1953||A Pocket Full of Rye||Miss Marple|
also So Many Steps to Death
|Mr. Jessop, Captain Leblanc|
|1955||Hickory Dickory Dock
also Hickory Dickory Death
|1956||Dead Man's Folly||Hercule Poirot
|1957||4.50 from Paddington
also What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!/Murder She Said
Chief Inspector Craddock, Lucy Eyelesbarrow
|1958||Ordeal by Innocence||Arthur Calgary
|1959||Cat Among the Pigeons||Hercule Poirot
Inspector Kelsey, Adam Goodman
|1961||The Pale Horse||Inspector Lejeune
Ariadne Oliver, Mark Easterbrook
|1962||The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
also The Mirror Crack'd
Chief Inspector Craddock
|1963||The Clocks||Hercule Poirot
Det. Inspector Hardcastle, Colin Lamb
|1964||A Caribbean Mystery||Miss Marple|
|1965||At Bertram's Hotel||Miss Marple
Chief Inspector Fred "Father" Davy
|1966||Third Girl||Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver, Chief Inspector Neele, Mr. Goby
|1967||Endless Night||Sergeant Keene|
|1968||By the Pricking of My Thumbs||Tommy and Tuppence|
|1969||Hallowe'en Party||Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver, Superintendent Spence
|1970||Passenger to Frankfurt||Stafford Nye|
|1972||Elephants Can Remember||Hercule Poirot
|1973||Postern of Fate
Last novel Christie wrote
|Tommy and Tuppence|
Poirot's last case, written 36 years earlier.
Miss Marple's last case, written 36 years earlier
An anomaly which often struck me in the character of my friend Sherlock Holmes was that, although in his methods of thought he was the neatest and most methodical of mankind, and although also he affected a certain quiet primness of dress, he was none the less in his personal habits one of the most untidy men that ever drove a fellow-lodger to distraction.
Not that I am in the least conventional in that respect myself. The rough-and-tumble work in Afghanistan, coming on the top of a natural Bohemianism of disposition, has made me rather more lax than befits a medical man. But with me there is a limit, and when I find a man who keeps his cigars in the coal-scuttle, his tobacco in the toe end of a Persian slipper, and his unanswered correspondence transfixed by a jack-knife into the very centre of his wooden mantelpiece, then I begin to give myself virtuous airs.
I have always held, too, that pistol practice should be distinctly an open-air pastime; and when Holmes, in one of his queer humors, would sit in an arm-chair with his hair-trigger and a hundred Boxer cartridges, and proceed to adorn the opposite wall with a patriotic V. R. done in bullet-pocks, I felt strongly that neither the atmosphere nor the appearance of our room was improved by it.
Our chambers were always full of chemicals and of criminal relics which had a way of wandering into unlikely positions, and of turning up in the butter-dish or in even less desirable places.
Having read this, I am much relieved and encouraged that my own housekeeping is a little more organised than that at 221B.
The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual is a bit different from other Holmes stories - and is very different from the TV adaptation (I'm talking about the Jeremy Brett one. It's always the Jeremy Brett one for me.)
As with the Adventure of the Gloria Scott, which was Holmes first "adventure", this one precedes Holmes meeting Watson for the Study in Scarlett. And, unusual also, this story is told by Holmes, not Watson. So, what we get is Watson recording Holmes own speech, and as a result the narration is a little more to the point than other stories.
We also get to know Holmes a little better.
“These are the records of your early work, then?” I asked. “I have often wished that I had notes of those cases.”
“Yes, my boy, these were all done prematurely before my biographer had come to glorify me.” He lifted bundle after bundle in a tender, caressing sort of way. “They are not all successes, Watson,” said he.
As for the mystery itself, there is quite a Gothic feel to it: an old estate in the country, which has been passed through the same family for hundreds of years, a treasure hunt, and a wronged woman.
I mentioned that the TV adaptation is quite different to the original story. The plot is almost the same, but the characters - especially the relationship between Holmes and Mr. Musgrave - are quite different, which Mr. Musgrave being the source of some rather mean ridicule by Holmes. That is not really there in the story, and as a result, Holmes does not come across as an ass in the same way. I like the TV adaptation, apart from that particular aspect, and I have no idea why it was scripted like that.
It was a day in early June. I had been transacting some business in Paris and was returning by the morning service to London, where I was still sharing rooms with my old friend, the Belgian ex-detective, Hercule Poirot.
The Calais express was singularly empty—in fact, my own compartment held only one other traveller. I had made a somewhat hurried departure from the hotel and was busy assuring myself that I had duly collected all my traps, when the train started. Up till then I had hardly noticed my companion, but I was now violently recalled to the fact of her existence. Jumping up from her seat, she let down the window and stuck her head out, withdrawing it a moment later with the brief and forcible ejaculation ‘Hell!’
Ah, Hastings. This book is all about Hastings.
And by the end of it, Christie may have had the proverbial excess of "a good thing", because even tho this is only the second book in the Poirot series, Christie seems desperate to get rid of Hastings. And I can't blame her.
Don't get me wrong, I love Hastings. However, in this particular book which is mostly written about him and not so much about Poirot, Hastings is utterly annoying. And what can possibly be worse than Hastings being annoying? Yes, there is only one thing - Hastings being in love.
Never mind the convoluted murder mystery in the French countryside ... somewhere near a golf course ... blah, blah,..., the real question is, will Hastings get the girl?
By the end of the book, I wished he would, because they seemed to deserve each other, and that maybe Hastings would learn a few things and stop being such an idiot (even if he is lovable). But as we know, ... that is not quite how it goes, and of course I desperately miss Hastings when he isn't in a Poirot story.
So, there. Not quite a review of the book, but really the book isn't about the murder that much anyway.
I don't usually anticipate the release of a new book, but this one I have been looking for. I really loved the author's A is for Arsenic (currently in the running for our Flat Book Society read in May), and I am confident that this new one will be equally as enlightening (ha!), fun, and just a little bit ... dramatic.
Here's the opening to the book:
On 4 November 1818, a scientist stood in front of the corpse of an athletic, muscular man. Behind him his electrical equipment was primed and fizzing with energy. The scientist was ready to conduct a momentous scientific experiment.
The final preparations were made to the cadaver – a few cuts and incisions to expose key nerves. No blood ran from the wounds. At that moment the thing on the table in front of the young scientist was just flesh and bone, from which all life had been extinguished. Then the corpse was carefully connected to the electrical equipment.
Immediately every muscle was thrown into powerful convulsions, as though the body was violently shuddering from cold. A few adjustments were made and the machine connected a second time. Now full, laborious breathing commenced. The belly distended, the chest rose and fell. With the final application of electricity the fingers of the right hand started to twitch as though playing the violin. Then, one finger extended and appeared to point.
The images conjured up by this account may seem familiar. Perhaps you have seen them on the silver screen when Boris Karloff’s iconic creature twitched and stumbled into life. Or maybe you have read something like this in the pages of a novel written by the teenage Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. But the description above is not fiction. It happened. Two experimenters, Aldini and Ure, made the dead move using electrical devices.
I had never actually seen a dead body before and I stared at him in fascination. He can’t really be dead, I told myself. It’s some kind of macabre French joke, or he’s trying to frighten me. Or maybe he’s sleeping. But his eyes were open and staring vacantly at the ceiling.
Sleeping? He's submerged in a bathtub. Fully clothed. And in cold water as the author has already told us that no one knows how to light the boiler.
I was just about ready to throw in the towel when we finally had some movement in the plot. Not great, and I am not convinced the whole mystery can be developed and solved within little more than half the book, which is all that is left.
Also, this is decidedly more "chick lit" than mystery, at least in my book.
Still why is the book called "Her Royal Spyness"? No spying has occurred. Charring, dusting, disguising, but no spying. :(