In the High Peaks

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Had Too Much Fun at the Nook E-Book 50% Off Sale

And a good time was had by me. The stars were aligned last evening. I had a Barnes and Noble gift card of $25 AND this weekend Barnes and Noble is offering 50 percent off selected titles of best-selling fiction and nonfiction.

What did I get?? I was stunned, when on  Friday night I discovered that Marisha Pessl's Night Film was available for $6.49. (Do visit the discussion and interview about the novel's unique features!) I wanted a captivating title for the weekend and expected to pay much more for it, but surprise!  In 2006, I read Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics and was awed by her vision, talent, and, for a very young woman, her craft. I loved the book and could not race through it because I kept rereading passages that were so elegantly handled. The entire book struck me that way. Night Film is Pessl's first novel since 2006. I'm not far into it, but by page 20, I was already doing that "rereading passages" thing again because I'm so bowled over by the way she writes.

What else did I purchase in this price-slashing of e-books for the Nook?
The Bat by Jo Nesbo
The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo
B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton--very cheap, but not on the bestseller-slashed price list 
Murder of a Stacked Librarian (A Scumble River Mystery) by Denise Swanson--very cheap- not on the list
Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan  
This title may surprise some of you as one of my selections. It's nonfiction and is a historical analysis or reconstruction of the life and times of the real-life Jesus and the years immediately after his death, as best as can be sorted out. I researched the author and reviews of this book thoroughly, quite painstakingly, in fact. It has received excellent reviews for being authoritative and scholarly, although completely within the grasp of the non-academic reader. I like that fact and have started reading it. I will say I've always been interested in the historical aspects of the man--the world he grew up in and the messianic aspects of first-century Palestine. I'll admit my friends find this interest a peculiar fact about me, because I'm an enthusiastic agnostic.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mary Stewart: The Stormy Petrel Fiasco, Future Plans, & Corrections

First off: A correction of yesterday's post! I believed I was on the Mary Stewart page when I ordered The Ivy Tree for the Kindle. I really did. I was there. It gave me permission to order. But! And this big but I will ascribe to user error. Somehow or other I ordered The Ivy Tree, a completely different novel, written by another writer.

So, as of now, I'm doubtful that The Ivy Tree can be ordered for the Kindle. Sorry, readers!

And my plans to read The Stormy Petrel went Poof! as soon as I realized it's the Mary Stewart novel I read most recently, although probably 15 years ago. I remember parts of the novel vividly, especially the heroine's arrival on the Hebridean (sic?) island on the West Coast of Scotland and her early, lonely days there while she waited for her brother to arrive--her solitary communion with the seabirds, the rugged terrain, and the isolation.

My Plans: I intend to purchase a complete paperback set of her novels, most of which are available from Amazon, and I believe from Barnes & Noble.

Please visit Gudrun's Tights for more Mary Stewart discussions! A great week.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mary Stewart Week and Me

Gudrun's Tights is hosting a Mary Stewart Week this week. Darn! I didn't find out about it soon enough to make it as prominent event in my life as I would like it to be. Because it seems to be an annual event, I'll make a note to myself for next year.

Of the many Mary Stewart novels I have voraciously consumed, the only one I didn't like was The Moon Spinners. This may have been due to my earlier viewing of the Walt Disney film starring Hayley Mills. Perhaps I was disappointed because it was not more along the lines of the romance portrayed in the movie. But, to be historically accurate, I was truly bored by the book, which surprised me because it was in stark contrast to my experience reading her other titles.

Nine Coaches Waiting enthralled me beyond reason.

Mom and I went crazy for the three books that were once called The Merlin Trilogy: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment.  The fourth and fifth books, The Wicked Day and The Prince and the Pilgrim, which tagged along afterward, I haven't read. They may have been published at a time when I wasn't paying attention. What were your impressions?

Wildfire at Midnight and Thunder on the Right were just so much fun! If only Stewart had written more books!

I haven't read The Ivy Tree, but I purchased it last night for the Kindle for $2.99.  Stewart titles for the Kindle abound, but very, very few are available for the Nook. Even on Amazon, I had to fiddle around, using various search phrases before I found the Kindle versions of Stewart's books. Don't give up! Keep trying!

Early this week I borrowed The Stormy Petrel from Crandall Library, the large library in Glens Falls, the closest city to us. The only other titles were so unbelievably old and beaten down and covered with dust! I must encourage Crandall to buy the new paperbacks available.

Please share your personal history with Mary Stewart!!

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Fun! Georgia O'Keeffe & Reading A is for Alibi: Grafton in the '80s

Yesterday I managed to make it, at long last, to the final day of an exquisite exhibition of Georgia O'Keeffe's early work--paintings she created while spending the non-frigid seasons in a shanty on Lake George in the southern Adirondacks with Stieglitz, with works dating from around 1918-1926 or so. The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, New York, went all out for this exhibition, gathering her paintings from many small and large museums from all over the U.S! I was so impressed with the effort, but even more impressed by her Lake George work. Of course, being a nature nut, I loved her paintings of leaves and trees most. They inspire me to joy! Naturally, I bought the exhibition book published by Thames & Hudson. I'm thrilled beyond words with it. Well, you see, I love to paint and draw leaves and trees, and seeing this work collected was just the artistic boost I needed for the autumn season.

By the time we got home, we had eaten dinner, and because Ken had to work, I dug into Sue Grafton's A is for Alibi, which I bought for $2.99 for my Nook. (Please see my previous blog entry for links.) Three hours later, I was still reading. I really like Kinsey, the female private detective, and I admire Grafton's descriptions that allow me to picture every detail in a scene. The 1980s details were lots of fun...Remember teak furniture? And the clothing! Men's and women's hairstyles! Shag rugs! Just the overall culture. I highly recommend this book, and I was swept away. Right now Kinsey and I are in Las Vegas investigating a potential suspect. Can't wait to get back to it. Do check her out if you like no-nonsense heroines and storytelling and FUN.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What Are You Reading This Weekend? About Sue Grafton

A Post with lots and lots of questions for you, especially for mystery readers!

Slight Diversion: We reached record high dewpoints on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday, it was more humid than we've ever experienced in our eight years here. Ghastly wet steam! So warm and wet that walking out the door was like smashing into an enormous steaming hot washcloth. Also, record-high temps for this time of year. More humid air than at any point all summer. I've been staggering under the weight of it. My brain? Dull, limp, useless!

A vast change is underway as we speak. So I'm hopeful that reading will be possible again.

I heard a fascinating interview with Sue Grafton, in which she talked about her books, her life, and her career--and her reactions to her much-maligned recent comments about the "laziness" of self-publishing today. Actually, although those remarks were taken out of context, the issue remains.
Oh, by the way, she is still mourning the loss of her favorite author, Elmore Leonard.

Grafton is 73 years old now, has a new book W is for Wasted, and hopes to finish the alphabet by the time she is 80, at which time she believes she may retire from writing. I found the interview on National Public Radio's "On Point" program with Tom Ashbrook absorbing. I'm now dying to read one of her novels. After hearing so much from Grafton and her readers about Kinsey, her lead character, I wonder if I should start with A is for Alibi, or should I select another? I don't intend to read the entire series, so if you have a favorite Grafton novel, do please let me know!

Do tell: How is Grafton regarded in countries aside from the U.S. Is she read in the UK and Australia? Ireland? In translation in Europe and elsewhere? OR, is she really too REGIONAL to be read outside of the US?  Dying to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Nature Writers

A perfect early autumn/late summer day in the Adirondacks. Sue and I were gushing with superlatives throughout our hike on the eastern slopes of Eleventh Mountain. My nature walks recently have been crammed full of one-of-a-kind plants, trees, and animal happenings and discoveries. Surprising! And so welcome.

I've been closely examining and studying native trees for well over a year, and I'm finally getting to the point where I really know a great deal about the trees in the South-Central Adirondacks. But! I'm always adding new information and discoveries to my reservoir of knowledge.

Sue is a nature lover whose main residence is in the San Francisco Bay area. She and her husband spend three months of the year here in a cozy, quaint old cabin once belonging to her husband's parents. Today she told me about the New England nature writer she's been reading, someone I don't know, which surprises me. I must get a hold of some of Edwin Way Teale's books.  Like many of our wonderful nature writers, he's been dead for several decades, but his work continues to captivate. Can't wait to read him. From his Wikipedia listing, he's authored many fascinating titles. An intriguing life.

My favorite nature writers:
Bernd Heinrich: I own most of his books. My favorites are Winter World and Trees in My Forest. He's a wildlife biologist who was a professor for many years at the University of Vermont in Burlington. As far as I know he still owns a  place in northern Vermont as well as a remote cabin in the wilds of northern Maine. He's still observing and writing. I find his writing fascinating. Although he's in his early 70s now, he has always not let the environment, the harsh climate, or anything get in the way of his nature study. He is the author of many books.

Henry David Thoreau. Well, of course.

Who are your favorite nature writers that observe the environment in your neck of the woods?