Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Books in the Mail--the Actual Mail--Today

Just a word...the new Blogger is threatening  to undermine this platform in every way imaginable.
But! While I still HAVE a viable old platform, I will announce that two new books arrived in the mail today.
First of all is Monogamy: A Novel by Sue Miller, which was published in early September. I have loved all of Sue Miller's novels. While I Was Gone was probably one of her most well-known novels, and I loved and admired it. So much depth!  I will have to dig back to name the other novel she wrote since that title that I also liked very much. I also loved her novel The Senator's Wife, which was also top-notch. I listened to that as an audio, and I simply loved it, but at that time  I was not as finely tuned a listener, so I don't remember it well.

The other novel that arrived, and which I'm looking forward to reading, is The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves (the latest Vera Stanhope mystery).  Think murder mystery. Think BLIZZARD. Think Northumberland, northernmost England. Think perfect for me. This has had excellent reviews, not to mention several starred  reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. Can't wait to read it.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Reading So Many Books!

Tonight I'm being forced to use yet another version of the NEW Blogger. Please bear with me. Yes, I'm in the midst of quite a number of new books, a dizzying number at this point.

First of all, I would like to announce that yes, I am reading Michael Cohen's memoir Disloyal, about his personal history and how he got sucked into Trump's paralytic orbit. I'm only 20 percent in, but Cohen's experience makes clear how people, with certain unfulfilled needs and pathological personality traits, become joined at the hip with people who appear to wield power and who employ a bullying strategy to enroll followers who may feel weak, yet want to feel powerful. This is the crux. Michael  Cohen admits that he worked doggedly for Trump for years before he was paid a cent. He just wanted to be in Trump's power orbit. It's mind-boggling, of course, as is every book written by a person close to Trump. Glad to be reading it, but let's face it. Can we trust that Cohen is being entirely truthful?? Given his personality profile, that is an unequivocal NO.

I'm luxuriating in the audio listening version of Elin Hilderbrand's 28 Summers. Wow!! Loving it so much!! These audio productions of her recent novels are of such high quality. I can't bear to see even one of them come to an end. 

Next, I'm listening to a new book published in late August, The New Wilderness by Diane Cook. It is a dystopian novel, and I hope to provide a link to its description very, very soon. It's an unsettling read, as dystopian novels so often are, set in the future.

I'm trying to finish 500 Miles from You by Jenny Colgan. This is definitely not one of my favorites of hers, as I've mentioned before, but I've stuck with it. I MUST list the Jenny Colgan books that are tops on my list. Very soon.

Made another disheartening trip to buy groceries an hour from here yesterday. SIGH. It could have been worse, I suppose. But I'm going further afield next week, to Saratoga Springs, where there  is an excellent market. At least I'll be able to get excellent chicken. And some other meats. And fish.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

September is My Favorite Month

And I love the first half of October equally.
But  we had dreary, dark days for the first three days of September, and limited sun yesterday and today. Oh, we've been out hiking about, but I can't wait for a truly sunny day.
All the bugs have gone away--tra la! Except for the hornets and yellow jackets and spiders, that is.

I have lots of nature plans for September--hiking, studying nature, and then writing. But the mid-late afternoons are reserved for my knitting endeavors and audiobooks. I've been knitting up a storm, and most recently working on a cable pattern that was so complicated, I could only work ten rows in an hour. It's been interesting, for sure, and it composes just one ten-inch square block for a throw I've been working on for quite a while. I can't wait until I gather all the squares, each one of them a different pattern, block them, and then sew them up. That will feel good. That will be my winter reading and knitting throw, which I will toss over my hips and legs whenever the reading and knitting mood hits.  I hope that will be often!

I'm listening to 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand, her most recent Nantucket Island novel. It has been wonderful to see Hilderbrand grow in her depth and her handling of complicated, character-driven plots that are a joy to read.  I'm reading Jenny Colgan's new novel 500 Miles from You, which is set in a remote Highland town in Scotland AND in London simultaneously. I'm finding it pleasurable reading, although I would not call this one among my favorites of Colgan. It is good enough, however, that I would not think of abandoning it, as I have other reads this summer.

As summer turns to fall, I do hope our grocery situation improves. It has been barely tolerable all summer, probably because the region has had so many visitors this year. Vacationers have flocked here because we have had very low rates of stupid Covid, but the grocery stores have in no way been able to keep up with demand. I am so sick of going to the store and getting very little in return for the effort. My ONE complaint. How I wish I could go to the store and get even half to three-quarters of what we need!

Do tell how life is going for you in your neck of the woods these days.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Latest Relaxing Reads

Bring on the comfort reads! I cannot bear the news or the ignorant stupidity of this week of Republican lies. They feel no shame. And I'm not talking about Trump. Republicans in general. Yes, let us retreat to all that makes us feel whole.
I desperately feel the need to post something tonight. After loads of heat and humidity, we're being plunged, quickly, deeply, into fall weather. Tomorrow the temperature will not reach 60 degrees until noontime, and a high of 64 degrees after noon. This is a sharp contrast! And I welcome it wholeheartedly. 

I suppose I'll be finishing The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand tomorrow afternoon. I'm so sad to see it end. And I realize that this is essential--I MUST find another comforting read. I have one lined up on audio--and that would be the August-published Royal by Danielle Steel (please don't count her out). But I need more. Where will I land?

I thoroughly enjoyed Rhys Bowen's most recent novel, The Last Mrs. Summers, which was published in early August. Lady Georgiana is at her plucky best, when she is railroaded into a trip to Cornwall by her friend Belinda, to survey Belinda's inheritance of a terribly rickety cottage cliff-side by the sea. Sheer mayhem ensues when this cottage needs so much work it is not habitable!  Both ladies end up in the grand estate of Belinda's childhood chum.  A very relaxing read, despite the murders and mayhem. A jolly good sleuthing.  I should warn you that I am helpless before two things: 1) novels set in Cornwall, and 2) gothicky novels set in creepy English country estates.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Bookshelf Travelling Is Still Going, But Has Moved

Please note that Katrina of Pining for the West has offered to continue to lead "Bookshelf Travelling for Insane Times." Katrina has also mentioned that her husband Jack will also be continuing the meme on his blog A Son of the Rock. I hope to continue, too, when I can, and if you're able and willing, do please continue.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I've been very busy this month of August with two writing classes. They have both been wonderful during this time. I have enjoyed the camaraderie of other writers striving to put their words to the page, as well as the instructors, both of whom have been top-notch. I needed something intellectually strenuous this month, as both classes have proven to be. I think it's been good for my lazy brain!

I am still reading. I am loving listening to Elin Hilderbrand's novel The Perfect Couple, which, unlike its title, is actually an incredibly complex murder mystery, set on the island of Nantucket. It is so absorbing, so accomplished. Naturally, I knit like crazy while I listen, and I'm enthralled, absolutely. This has to be among Hilderbrand's best novels, I believe. If you were to read just one of her oeuvre, I would choose this one. Swept away, I am! And so happily. It is such a gift, really, to feel happy reading or listening to a book when there is so much angst threatening to submerge us. This book has lifted me up! Maybe I should write to Hilderbrand to tell her so.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

What to Do about Blogger? A Suggestion!

This evening I tried and tried to find a way to communicate with Blogger.
As I'm sure you all know, communication with them is not encouraged.
However, I did post our problems to this URL: https://gethuman.com/help/Blogger-com

I strongly encourage you, if you truly want to continue to use Blogger, to report to them the problems you've experienced. I have, in spades.

The PORN spam  I'm receiving each day is increasing exponentially. The other problems with  posting and the like, well--I'm not sure how helpful they will be. BUT, and this is a bit BUT, Blogger can't continue if everyone is  facing problems as we have.

I will continue until  it is impossible. I will definitely let you know if I abandon Blogger for WordPress. So...things are getting worse by the day, and I wish you all well. I am leaving my email address here for those who can figure it out.  If not, please email Katrina at Pining for the West.

Email me at judith   e   harper  at   gmail    All one word. Lower case fine.  Best wishes to you all!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

August Reading upon Us and a Blogger.com Warning

I'm happy to be launching into August for a reason I would rather not say though I will. August is my least favorite month of the year (Don't we all have a month that we wish were another, more favored month?). And I'm about to get through it. Happily, merrily, make the bestest of it, damn it! ;)

This August I'll be continuing to write my way through my Creative Nature Writing class (via the University of Cambridge Continuing Education. Cambridge, England, that is.), which ends the next to last week in August.  And to challenge myself, and hopefully pass the time, I've enrolled in another writing class entitled, "Two Essays, Four Weeks." This online course runs from August 5th through September 2nd, and is offered through Grub Street, a Boston-based writers' collaborative. I took an online class with Grub Street late last fall, and it was excellent, and encouraged me to write like a demon. I find these classes challenging, fun, and a great way to meet and spend time with other people from around the world who enjoy writing. These classes expand my worldview and also help me to more closely examine my own worldview.  Consequently, my posting will be less frequent in August, as has been the case for me since June, I'm sorry to say.

I've dug in to Sharon Kay Penman's Devil's Brood, and I'm 85 pages in, which has taken a bit of time. It has been wonderful that Penman has cleverly interwoven the events and  personages from the first two books with the beginning of this third book.  This book could easily have been and should have been 1,000 pages, but the publisher used a very small font, though, to be helpful, they used a decent amount of leading between the lines, which means it is legible for me. Still, it's dense! This week I haven't been able to gather the time to read it everyday. So I see this one going onward and forward through Labor Day, September 7th, which is fine with me.

While Devil's Brood is ongoing, I'll be reading one easier read at a time, as well as an audiobook, whenever I grab some time to knit in the late afternoons.
Right now my easier read is The Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs (July 2020), and I'm finding it exceedingly mediocre. I read on thinking it will improve, but it is overly repetitive about grief for a parent, and that is troublesome because the author repeats the same feelings and facts over and over and over. I'm all for books describing grief about parents, lots of us have been through it, but grief is not static, it moves and changes as time goes along.

The Blogger.com warning: I updated to the new version of Blogger quite some time ago, but tonight, there was no way for me to write a new post. I clicked on "New Post," and when the page appeared, there was no way to do it whatsoever. The page to write a new post did not appear. After trying repeatedly, I reverted to the Old Blogger (only viable til August 24th), just so I could post.  If you are a Blogger user, would you try to see what happens when you hit the "New Post" tab?

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Buried in Books as I Haven't Been for Months!

Indeed, my bookish areas are swamped by piles of books. All the books I had on hold at my favorite Crandall Library for the past five months were "let loose", due to Covid-19, last week. I picked them up curbside in a large paper bag.
As sometimes happens, after what seemed like many, many months, only a few of the hoard still interest me.
I am nearly finished reading Uncanny Valley: A Memoir by Anna Wiener, which is a memoir by a young woman who worked in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco area, in the hopes of making much more money than she was making working at her job at a literary agency in NYC. Her tale of start-up computer companies (she worked in several) is revelatory, especially considering her work there was so recent. She does not harp on the misogyny in these companies, but it is crystal-clear. I entered a totally foreign universe when I read this memoir. I listened to the first half on Audible, but it was too slow. The second half as I read it in hardcover zooms by and is much more satisfactory. I sometimes mind how slow audio is from a reading perspective.

Next: As some of you may recall, I waited for one month for the Sarah Kay Penman novel, the third in the series, The Devil's Brood to arrive. I can't believe that it actually made it, after four weeks, and in excellent condition. I've started it, but with  Penman's novels, there are so many characters and so much going on, it takes about 50 pages to really settle in, and I'm only 20 pages in so far. Yet I'm fascinated! Nothing like England in the 12th century, I always say! Henry II and his Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine and their three sons, the devil's brood, for sure. Fireworks will ensue!! At 770 pages, with tiny print--it will be a work in progress, but one I'm happy to make. Fortunately, there is lots of leading between the lines of tiny print, which helps immensely.

The other book I'm reading now received a starred review from several publications. It's Susan Wiggs's The Lost and Found Bookshop. I was fortunate to borrow this very recently published book as an e-book from the New York Public Library. It's women's fiction, first of all, and it's the story of a woman business executive who abandons  her career to rescue her deceased  mother's bookshop and to take care of her grandfather who has dementia. Sounds grim, but it's not at all. The community she returns to offers lots of possibilities in every area of her life. I'm enjoying it!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Warning: The Disastrous State of the Nation

Think very seriously whether you want to read this post. No books are mentioned. And no, I don't consider it a rant. It is a warning cry to all who would listen. Yes, gosh darn it,  I have had terrible difficulty posting regularly here. The state of our nation presently could not be more dismal, could not be more horrific. And people are sitting idly by. Well, perhaps if we were at war with a nation destined to crush us to dust, perhaps that would be worse.

I don't wonder that people in countries throughout the world HATE the U.S. 
There should have been a massive insurrection a long time ago to pressure the removal of our current pseudo-leader who is a sham, a charlatan, a puffed-up self-aggrandizer who is fatally paranoid, a fake, a conniver, and most of all a malevolent person who would do anything at all if it meant he would come out on top. He is, in fact, evil.

My apologies to any of his supporters who have stumbled onto my blog by mistake. It would be best if you left now.
But the stakes are too high now to remain silent. The president is operating a secret police force in several cities, where ununiformed federal officers are kidnapping protestors off the street. These officers wear no identification. They throw people into unmarked cars and take them away. Where???This has been happening in Portland, Oregon for one. This is real news. And little wonder, with this secret police crackdown, the  protests are becoming worse. We are now in the throes of a country exactly like Nazi Germany, like the Soviet Union, like the Russia of today. And it's all thanks to Mr. Fake Man who is a white supremacist and an anti-Semite, and his cronies. Oh, and don't forget the troops he has called out to battle protestors.  Troops armed with U.S. military weapons to shatter protestors. Oh, yes, you're right. Those weapons were intended to only be used by trained military in the event of war. The  police using them have not been trained in their use. And they were never developed with civilian uses in mind. WTF???
I am 67 years old. I remember the race riots of the 1960s. I remember the deaths at Kent State. But nothing then compares with what's happening now.

Okay, so where do BOOKS fit in to this picture? Well, they don't, not really.