A Garden of Delights

Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Wednesdays seems to be flying by this year.  Here’s another one and time for…


Just Another

2018 ROW80 Check-in WWW Wednesday Post First Friday Photo

Post

(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

Since one of my new ROW80 goals was to start blogging more consistently and since I’ve wanted to become more active in the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) and since I have read a lot and wished I had a way to share my recent pleasure… this seemed like a great place (and great time) to start.

First things last and last things first, got a picture you’d like to share, a thought on photography or even a piece of digital art…

The First Friday Photo blog hop is open for submissions.  All creative images* welcome as long as you link your post up this Friday.

I created this blog hop to make a space to enjoy art in my busy life, even when it’s only once a month and to share my love of photography with others.

The rules are simple (quoted from my original First Friday Photo post Still Motion):

  • post a photo (one you took, please don’t post other people’s work) on your blog
  • include a link to the linky (so visitors can visit each other’s work)
  • add the link to your post to the above linky (so we can find your work)
  • visit other people’s posts
  • enjoy

I had to put that “enjoy” there.  Every time I open a package of instant ramen, I giggle because of that.  I mean, of course I am going to enjoy…  yummy ramen is, well, yummy.  😀

Hope to see you there!

(*if your image is explicit, please use discretion and an NSFW warning)

Now, let’s go with WWW Wednesday where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently? I’ve been plowing through the Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson.  Since my last WWW Wednesday post, I am now reading Murder on Amsterdam Avenue.  This is book #17 of the series.  At my last post, I was on book #5.  I’m a short ways into In Like Flynn, another Molly Murphy mystery by Rhys Bowen, but I confess to setting it aside to fully invest myself into the lives of Sarah Brandt and Frank Malloy.  My ARC of To Woo a Wicked Widow is nearly done (review next week), and despite the cray-cray I made some progress on the beta read I accepted.

Recently? It’s been two weeks since my last WWW Wednesday post, so it looks like I’ve read a lot of books.  I won’t bother to list all the Gaslight Mysteries titles I’ve read.  I read twelve of them.  I’ve also read two Molly Murphy mysteries (Death of Riley and For the Love of Mike).  Dear Life by Alice Munro presented a welcome though-provoking serious note here and there.

Next? This Monday I turned in books and took out another twelve.  In bag…  Kindred by Octavia Butler, the next Deep Fried Mystery by Linda Reilly, Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr, and so many others.  Oh, and all but the latest Gaslight Mystery.  But I do have the next six Molly Murphy’s…  That should keep me busy a while.


And lastly, here is my ROW80 check-in. For those who didn’t see my goals for the upcoming 12-weeks of ROWing, you can see them here. You can find our very supportive and helpful group here, as well as some history and “rules” if you want to know more about the ROW80 in general.

My creative writing has been pretty staggered.  I did manage a Stream of Consciousness post (on Sunday instead of Saturday) and a WIPpet Wednesday post today.  But I hadn’t even looked at 750words.com until today.  I did keep up the ROW80 blog well enough, although I am behind on my sponsor visits.  (Actually, I’m behind on all my blogging visits…  last week was…  difficult, and this week, when I wasn’t reading, I was recovering or sick.)

So it’s been a pretty off few weeks in my writing life.  But the mind is starting to demand something other than staring at little black marks on a white page.  It’s demanding I make some of them myself at least.  And the body is demanding I get up and move and do.  So I have started some.  Even if it’s just reading  while pacing in the living room.

Small steps…

Yet Another…

2018 ROW80 Check-in WWW Wednesday

Post

(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

As is becoming the trend, first things last and last things first, the WWW Wednesday where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently?  An odd mix here…  I just started an ARC of Jenna Jaxon’s To Woo a Wicked Widow.  I’m also almost done with Book #4 of the Victoria Thompson Gaslight mysteries Murder on Mulberry Bend.  And I’m delving into Cathedrals of England by Sir Nicholas Pevsner.  It’s an odd passion of mine…

Recently? I’ve set aside Gun, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  I just took on a beta read and an ARC (above) that I need to prioritize, and it’s a library book.  It’s back into my TBR list for another time.  Of course, I have indulged in a fair amount of escapism, having finished Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore by Rose Pressey.  By the end, I was actually glad I’d read the book, and definitely looking for the next one.  However, since I couldn’t find it (even at the local Barnes & Noble), I jumped into Victoria Thompson’s Gaslight series and plowed through books #3 and #4 (Murder on Granmercy Park and Murder on Washington Square.

Next? Let’s see, I have my beta read (sooper sekret! 😉 )to do, plus the next Molly Murphy mystery Death of Riley.  Though  went through another short in Dear Life by Alice Munro, I’m not sure I call it in my “I am reading” list because of where my head is right now.  I also picked up Tête-à-tête by Hazel Rowley at one of the local used bookstores because a glimpse of a few pages intrigued.


 My ROW80 progress has been bit less inspiring.  My 750words.com word counts are slowly increasing (averaging about 600, so I’m not on track yet, but the creative ideas are flying fast and furious).  In keeping with my theme of consistency (and because this was my week off from the Weekend Writing Warriors blog hop) I’ve posted a WIPpet Wednesday post on Many Worlds and done my best to offer some thought-provoking posts to the ROW80 blog for our check-ins.  I’m still trying to figure out the exact rhythm our writing community performs best at now that I’ve taken over the blog from Kait Nolan.

I’ve also started work toward my upcoming First Friday Photo post.  This morning offered several of those remarkable post-snowstorm captures…  and one (though not my best shot) was of a gorgeous murder of crows I saw on the drive to bring my son to school (no buses were running today).   I love crows.  Last Friday we had one sitting on our deck.  Squee!

That’s it, I guess.  Signing off from my “office” at the Glenmont Applebee’s…

Another Wednesday…

Time for another…

2018 ROW80 Check-in WWW Wednesday

Post

(click below an image to go to the specific section you want if you don’t want to read the whole post)

You can see I am making serious progress on that old consistency thing…

First things last and last things first, let’s go with WWW Wednesday where, according to the rules of the bloghop, I need to answer three main questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently? I’m still slowly plowing through Gun, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  I appreciate Diamond’s intelligence, and I enjoy the actual subject matter, but…  maybe my head just isn’t in it at the moment.  Sometimes I really just want to dive into escapism and mystery, and I have a lot of that on my reading list of late.  I’m also reading Haunt Couture and Ghosts Galore by Rose Pressey.  I can’t even say why to be honest.  I read the first two books of the series and liked them “enough”, but didn’t feel I loved them.  But here I am reading #3.  It’s kind of like the Charlie Plato books, I think.  I like just-enough-to-keep-going in them.

Recently? I finished Thursdays at Eight by Debbie Macomber.  It was a revelation.  I totally understand now about how she became a bestselling author.  It’s called a romance, and it is…  but the love interest was Life Itself.  A tale of four women and life…  I really enjoyed it.  Also, I decided to surrender to my inner mule and read that second book in Margaret Chittenden’s Charlie Plato mysteries: Dean Men Don’t Dance.  It was hard to get into, but I guess the heroine, Charlie, is growing on me.  And Monday evening, I finished The Chocolate Cat Caper by JoAnna Carla, a cozy with lots of chocolate trivia interspersed between the covers.  Oh, and a very gorgeous cat named Yonkers…

Next?  It’s pretty sad.  I can repeat my last week list because I moved a bunch of new books into their places: still have the next Molly Murphy mystery Death of Riley, Dear Life by Alice Munro, and the other eight books waiting for me at the library.  Never made it there.  First the weather didn’t hold out, and then I got sick.  It’s where I’m heading as soon as this gets posted.

*Update…  there were eleven books waiting for me, two of which were 600+ page books by Caleb Carr.  Yeah…  I’ve got some reading to do.


Now as far as my ROW80 progress is going…  pretty much good stuff.  Not a lot of new fiction…  I’m actually going to have a problem writing a WIPpet Wednesday post on Many Worlds because I’ve written so little except mind-dumping into 750words.  I didn’t write there on Monday and only wrote 600 of the words yesterday, but in all, more days than not came with some words.

The words weren’t story related, but I do see places where I might eventually evolve the feelings and ideas into characters or their reactions.  My husband and I have also been having some wonderful discussions about characters in shows we like to watch and some books we’ve traded.  It’s interesting to see how his perception of an event and mine differ and how what we believe is “normal” sometimes seems way off from what the writers seem to think it should be.

I’m starting to see why I used to get critiques that said “Why would she do that?  No one would do that!”; all the while I was thinking…  I have, or that I knew someone who did.

World-building…

And that is a topic for another day.  Saturday, to be exact, since our local RWA Chapter is hosting a World Building discussion at the East Greenbush library.  Hoping I can go, but it depends..  my son is participating in Future City at his school, and the local competition is happening this Saturday morning until late afternoon.  There’s a future city idea…  a way to safely clone one’s self just long enough to be in two places at one time and not harm the clone person in the returning of the mind/memories to the original person.  I have a feeling that idea is a long time in coming.

If you could design your perfect futuristic self, what would one thing you could do then be?

The Storyteller in Uncertainty

Inspired or nudged or something by both Shan Jeniah and Shah, I’m adding my two cents into Shah’s Storyteller Challenge due today.  Or maybe it was the cool picture–See?

Does she manage to soar?

As She Said

The wings felt heavy, unnatural.  It should have been a clue, but the desire to escape the confines of her day-to-day life seemed so strong, so powerful, Naria accepted them.  How could she not, she thought?  How could anyone refuse the chance to soar free, above the clouds, to live, even for a moment like the birds…

The  djinni had warned that few could wear the wings and make themselves a part of the living bird spirit that existed within them.  Death came to those the bird spirit refused.

But what of those it accepted, Naria had asked, several times, demanding the djinni answer her, even to the loss of her last favored wish.  She had to know.  Could she become as the birds in the sky?  Would she stay human, bird, both?

The answer had been unsatisfying to say the least.  How could a djinni not know such things? He had sworn even to the oath of his royal family in the Planes of Ether that there had been those the bird spirit in the wings had accepted.  Death had not taken all those he had been sent to gift.  And yet, he could only answer her with “They became what they were already.”

A truly unsatisfying answer

Still, even if it were a moment of escape, a moment to try on the life that she would never experience again, to see the world in a new light than than of her husband’s kingdom, her oversight of the servants, the petty squabbles of her fostering ladies…  If she could have but a moment to be more than she was, she would not refuse to take it.

“I won’t fall,” she told herself  as she crept to the top of the highest tower of the castle.  She paused at the window ledge, weary from hauling the large wrapped bundle up the stairs, held as carefully away from her body as she could in the tightness of the stone stairways.  It had suddenly seemed vital to protect the delicate barbs of the fathers from harm.  Every quill must remain solid and firm.

She knew this, and as soon as she’d entered the tiny chamber, she had gently laid out the plumage, inspecting it carefully, soothing it, feeling it, cool yet warm and alive under her fingers.  And, though the djinni had told her otherwise, saying she should spread the wings out inside out and lay upon them till they became with her flesh,, Naria erected them, tenting them over her body as she crouched, bare to any eyes that might see.  The wings felt heavy and unnatural, pressing her body into the stiff straw pad of the bed.

And now, they felt even heavier, drawing back her shoulders as she tried to stand straight and proud the way she’d always been taught.  Chest in, she heard her nurse scold, though the woman had been dead many years now.  Do not show  a man more than he need see to know you are virtuous, her tutors had lectured.  But try as habit forced her to do, she could not, her back wearied from her journey up the several flights of stairs already, and  Naria felt herself drawn forward, chest pressed to the world defiantly.

Forward, unsteady, weary, wobbly, from where she stood, looking down over her husband’s lands.  “I will not fall,” she told herself once more, even as she felt herself totter.  A moment’s panic gripped her, but she vowed it yet again.

“I will NOT fall.”

And she did not try to hold on.  She faced what was to come, whatever her choice would bring.  She could not fall, she realized, because she had already escaped.  She was already free.  She had already done as she’d wished.

Naria did not fall.

There was a second prompt to write about; a timed prompt for 3mins.  It could be in any genre, any form, just three minutes…
————————

Treacle:

TIMED WORD ASSOCIATION:Treacle, Bloated, Yesterday.

Sweet the pudding words you told me, treacle to my ears and heart
Yesterday your mind was showing, you spoke some thing,
Pop art, urban deco, bloated with your self-importance, thinking foolish
hardly worth my time and thought

Yesterday, your words were treacle,they tasted sweet, they warmed my soul
Today your words smell of noxious vapors, putrid bloated in my bowl

I don’t want to touch them, don’t want to taste, don’t to smell.

I can’t even wash them

 

Continuing on a regular feature here at the Garden of Delights, welcome to Book Review Monday which alternates with Your Inspirations twice a month.  Last time Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War was the feature piece.  Today, let’s enjoy something a bit lighter.

Knees Up, Mother Earth by Robert Rankin

Knees Up Mother Earth

If you’re like me, living across The Pond, you may have heard news stories about European “football” (rugby) teams and how violent and reactionary their fans can get.  And if you’re like me (or even if you actually enjoy sports), you have to wonder what all the fuss is about.

I mean, it isn’t as if seeing your favorite team lose a game once in a while is the end of the world!

Or is it?

Enter the Brentford United FA (Football Association) whose members have been contracted to win every single game of their season and achieve the coveted FA Cup, lest their football field be sold off to a land developer.  Since the team’s plummeting streak has held solid since the 1920’s, there seems to be little chance of saving their beloved club.   But the stakes end up being far more dire.  And even as the team acquires a new captain empowered to propel them to victory, member begin falling by the wayside, only to be replaced with members of a traveling circus.  Still, Brentford United must win, because the alternative is the end of the world.

Knees Up, Mother Earth came to my home by accident almost two years ago.  And once I realized what I’d bought, Borders refused returns on anything because they were closing all their brick & motor stores.  So I shoved it into a pile of ‘not dealing with this now’ books and magazines that monopolize the little bookshelf in our bedroom.  And there it sat, gathering dust while I worked through other books in my list.  Finally this January, I picked it up for my (failed) attempt at the Fifty/Fifty/Me challenge (I still haven’t watched another movie since V for Vendetta).  Oh, and yes, I’ve sat on writing this review for nearly two months now.

So let me first say that my initial reaction to this book was just above ‘negative’.  I’d perhaps heard Rankin’s name somewhere on a random webpage or in conversation somewhere, but it had meant nothing.  And the cover art, as you can see (although my copy has a different cover), didn’t give a real sense of its fantasy genre.  Indeed,  neither the blurb on the back nor the Wikipedia  description of the storyline nor even most of the characters recommended this book to me.  It was about sports (rugby no less, which I only know a pittance about) and hanging out in taverns, boozing…  Heck, the heroes are the town drunks!

I had trouble putting the book down.  I think I could have married Old Pete, wonderful curmudgeon that he was.

Oh, there were lulls,  and it wasn’t really a matter of the super suspenseful  story arc that held me….  Knees Up made me laugh.  I’m sure I missed over a hundred of the little side jokes Rankin included simply because I wasn’t familiar with his “world”, but that didn’t matter.  It is hilarious.  The writing was wonderful too.  Through Rankin’s writing, each character, each place in the story came alive and breathed with believability.  The details not only popped, but were beautifully written (Rankin KNOWS his stuff with words).  As frustrated as the characters made me with their total …humanity!  I couldn’t “hate them”; in fact, I began rooting for them right from the beginning.  I even cried a bit when The Campbell died (though he wanted to, so I must respect that).

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse

I would happily read another book by Robert Rankin–particularly  when it’s noted that most do not consider Knees Up, Mother Earth to be one of his best works.  Perhaps next time, I’ll pick up a copy of  The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse.  Seems fitting for just after Easter.

And just as a side note: Rankin based his book (and according to the Wiki most of his others) in  Brentford, UK (and on their very real football team, the Brentford F.C.)  Looking over online details make Brentford out as a very interesting place too, though nowhere as intimate as Rankin makes it in his book.  I do get the phenomena from my brief time in the UK.  There is a very different feel to towns in the UK to town in the US., and I don’t mean this in criticism to either place.  But I remember sensing much more intimacy and awareness of community in most places in the UK, even larger “towns” which could be easily compared to small cities in the U.S..  (my closest example would be obviously Solihul since that’s where we stayed during our time in England.  Located just south eat of Birmingham, Solihul would easily be comparable to a small city size and population-wise here, but it felt more like a hamlet than anything more.)

Oh, and one other last note…  I have to add a “Thank you” here to Mr. Rankin, for had I not read his book and inspired to look up what inspired him, I would never have found out about the Syon Abbey Monastery.  Now little more than a ruin that is being slowly excavated, it was once the largest monastery in England.  I eventually must return to England just so I can visit Brentford.   I love this sort of thing.

And yes, I would recommend this book to a friend.

Bosna - modlitba

Last week, if you checked in here you found a lovely piece by my guest blogger, Elaine Stock.  As I noted “Your Inspirations” will run twice a month (1st and 3rd Mondays) and will feature thoughts and inspirations from guests around the web and beyond. I hope you will join me on March 19th for a visit from Mrs. Bongle, whose post about tea and writing inspire me to use language more effectively and gracefully.

Today’s feature revolves around a different style of inspiration.  Books!  Or in this case, book reviews….  As part of my trying to offer a semi-consistent schedule here at the Garden of Delights and to track the progress of my Bookmarks Challenge, I will be alternating book reviews with Your Inspirations (2nd and 4th Mondays).

And for the first installment:
Love Thy Neighbor A personal account of Peter Maass’s experiences as a war correspondent in the Balkans during early 1990s

It’s a catchy title Love They Neighbor: A Story of War, and Maass uses it well, more as admonishment than anything else.  Any story that highlights the tragedy of war and the politics that perpetuate such suffering can quickly fade into what Maass himself refers to as “warporn”, and occasionally a section of the novel pushes that barrier between informative and expressively pornographic.   More so at the beginning of the book where Maass is himself reliving the intensity of the things he saw in Bosnia and the causes of his determination to become a journalist there.  But most often, we are drawn into the human experience that made this conflict.  We see the victims as people with dreams and aspirations as real as our own.

And through Maass’s careful commentary, we see the aggressors in the same compassionate light.

At times Love Thy Neighbor almost pains the readers as much as it informs.  The grief seems so inevitable when read in the beginning of the book, but Maass toys with his readers delicately, introducing historical instances of violence in the Balkans, stories of the extreme cruelty that has erupted in the region over the past 400 years.  Yet,  in the same pages, he speaks of the many years of peace and of the multicultural paradise that had once been Yugoslavia, an in particular the city of Sarajevo.

As a reader I could not question his words from experience here.  My one chance to go travel behind the Iron Curtain before it fell was foolishly squandered in chasing boys and avoiding schoolwork.  As rebellion was slowly fomenting in the East, it was being enacted with even less focus or sense on my own life.  But unlike the chaos that was about to rip apart the lives of hundreds of thousands, mine could be contained through introspection and patience.

Not so for the people of Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia.  Not in 1992…

English: An exhumed mass grave in Potocari, Bo...I confess I do not like (or agree) with all the political observations that Maass makes in his book.  Granted, we both have very skewed perceptions of the conflict and the external circumstances.  And even more important for the reader, I am neither a historian nor a political scientist (positions  that would allow me to make an educated opinion on why people can be convinced to kill a friend, a neighbor, even a complete stranger just by the manipulation of others).

But my distance has some virtue as well.  I also was not as directly affected by the pain and suffering of good people and friends.  Unlike Maass, I cannot make accusations of insensitivity based on political hopes being squandered because the President didn’t stop Serbia from invading and destroying the “safe zones” of Bosnia.  Maass  blamed Clinton, but he didn’t blame Bush Sr. equally for not seeing the stirrings of excessive nationalism being allowed free rein.  He blamed the Labour Party in England, the French, the appeasers as he calls them…

He’s right…  at least as someone who experienced so much of the diplomatic “we’re a peaceful people” stabs from various figures in Serbia and even Croatia can be.   Maass daily saw the homes of doctors and architects, of farmers and school teachers being destroyed;  he witnessed interment camps where Bosnian Muslims were turned from human beings into skeletons…

Maass, for a few years, lived where Bosnian Muslims were made aware they were Muslims and not Bosnians. …  Where the seeds of the present day Sharia law in the Balkans, and the increased strife in the world between Muslims and Christians and Jews may not have been sown, but were certainly fertilized on the blood of the innocent and peacefully integrated.  Maass saw that pain, and he knew too many of those people as people.  He could not afford to be unbiased.

And sadly, I can.

It’s interesting to note that just after I finished the book, I watched a few Castle episodes this weekend and had similar thoughts to Maass’s closing chapter on how quickly Yugoslavia fell from peace into hell on earth.  Even if you don’t like the show, the (two-part) episodes “Pandora” and “Linchpin” are worth watching…  For those of you who say “It would never happen here”.  Watch it.

And, while it is not a work of “Great Literature” and it is clear that the author has forfeited his journalistic neutrality with joyous delight, Love Thy Neighbor was a wonderful book.  There is enough eloquence and despair and love, to stir the coldest hearts.  But read it with both open eyes and an open heart.

Another Mini Mash-Up today…  Really, it’s difficult to do anything but mash-ups when so many interesting things are going on all over the web lately.  It feels really wonderful to be part of such a creative global community.

The news first:

As I noted on Tuesday, I will be hosting my very first guest blogger, Elaine Stock, who will be sharing with us those things that inspired her to write and tell stories.  A writer of  faith-based fiction, Elaine’s curiosity and love of people has led her to welcome writers and readers from all over the world to tell their stories.  If you have the time, pop over to her page and check out some her guests.  You won’t be disappointed.

Now for the fun stuff:

Flash fiction!  Yep, as I posted for my recent ROW80 update, I’ve finally gotten myself back into the Swing of Things, and that means some Friday Flash Fiction.  It’s not as if I’ve kept up with my flash fiction of late.  No Five Minute Getaways…  No random prompts…  I am even behind on my Three Word Wednesday posts over at Many Worlds From Many Minds.

Well, to make up for some lost time, here is a piece of quasi-inspired writing to (hopefully) amuse you.

Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog gets a lot of traffic on Fridays because of the flash fiction challenges he posts, and normally I wouldn’t have bothered with an expired contest, but I felt a need to write a piece (albeit a week late) for Chuck’s The 10K Contest  where people were supposed to write a full story of less than 100 words in five sentences.

Her footsteps creaked on the stairs as she came down slower than normal.  He knew she’d heard about the shooting as soon as he saw her tear-stained face.  Steeling himself, “Honey, there was a–,” he started to say.  He reached out to wipe away a tear, wrapping his other arm around her, but she stiffened against the bulk of the P225 under his coat.

Refusing to give up faced with going to their son’s funeral alone, he clung to her, sobbing in her hair, “I didn’t know it was Bobby–I honestly didn’t know….”

That’s it.  Not much to it, I’m afraid.  There was supposed to be more, but due to technical issues I regret to inform you that those pieces have been canceled.  I am endeavoring to reschedule them for a later date.  😉


First Friday Photo

Something to inspire

obligatory “What I Allow”

Short Stuff

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Member of The Internet Defense League

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 771 other followers