In the High Peaks

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Listening to Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years by Julie Andrews

I've been thoroughly enjoying listening to this brand new memoir by Julie Andrews. In Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years, Andrews gives a heartfelt summary of her life and her family before her Hollywood years, including a brief summary of her years on Broadway. Then she pitches in to tell lots of stories about the filming of Mary Poppins, and her fond reminiscences of Walt Disney and her cast members in that film.

Then Andrews spends an entire hour detailing everything about the filming of The Sound of Music, which was so incredibly fascinating! Loads of surprises there--and I will not reveal a single one. I just don't want to spoil it for you. The filming of The Americanization of Emily opposite her love interest James Garner and her work on Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain opposite Paul Newman comes next, and then the filming of James Michener's Hawaii onsite in the islands opposite the Swedish superstar Max Von Sydow. So much, and I'm only 39 percent of the way in! Details about her personal life, too. Very much a worthwhile listening experience, and of course Julie Andrews narrates.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

October and November Engagements

I have several projects ongoing. One is a genealogical project--Pushing and endlessly researching the origins of a number of my Irish immigrant ancestors,  mostly on my father's side of the family.  Researching ancestors in Ireland is much, much more difficult than researching English ancestors, and the former requires a completely different skill set.

Fortunately loads of people have done all of this before me, so there are lots of books and articles and websites to point the way. During the month of October I have learned so much that I am amazed. (Note: I have been researching these relatives since the late 1980s, but due to great advances in digitized records, I've been able to move forward this past month by leaps and bounds.)

My other project is novel writing. I'm taking another novel-writing class which will take me through December 11th. I love the pressure and camaraderie of good online writing classes. It keeps me from frittering my writing time going nowhere.

Sandy is my other project. She's been  needing to walk 3 to 4 miles a day, which takes  a while because she needs to sniff everything and listen to the wildlife--those saucy chipmunks, pesky red  squirrels, and  leaping deer! I grant her the permission to do this because all that sniffing tires her out!! (Thank goodness!)While she sniffs, I meander in my mind about my novel, for example.

OKAY--So as you can imagine I've been devouring books of more recent historiography about the Great Famine in Ireland, AND I've been reading Christmas novels.
I am more at peace moving forward with Nancy Thayer's Nantucket Island Christmas novel, Let It Snow.  And I will be finishing it in a day or two. It picked up the pace, but you know what the real problem is with this book?  Christina the  protagonist is a gutsy, yet  lovely person, but her romantic partner is a ZERO. He is so shallowly portrayed. He has no faults!!  A huge flaw in this type of book.  Yet I am enjoying Christina's relationship with young Wink, a nine-year-old girl who helps Christina in her toy shop.

I need some Christmas mysteries. Do you know of any good ones, or any new ones appearing on the scene? Do tell!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Late October Book Lore--Christmas Preview Not So Hot

Tess Gerritsen's The Shape of Night was  a rewarding read for me. I do love it when suspense writers try their hand at a gothic novel. (Remember Elly Griffiths' achievement published early in 2019--see my "Books Read in 2019" booklist in the sidebar.)
And, you know, even though I guessed early on who the murderer was, (NOT because of any sleuthish abilities on my part), I enjoyed the ride just as much because it was so wonderful watching it all come together, or to put it another way, to watch it all fall out.
Dyed-in-the-wool mystery hounds may well disagree with me on this, and I value their opinions. And I suppose I do wish it had been a bit harder to guess, but that doesn't take away from what I loved about the book. The old Maine house on the coast. The ghost who promised to protect, but who also promised pleasure and pain. And the characters who seemed culpable but were heroic.  

Late this afternoon I finished Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman, which was published in 1964. It was very good, largely because it was so different from the standard mystery. I appreciated learning more about the unique role of a rabbi in a Jewish congregation, as opposed to a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest in their congregations. The early 1960s setting reminded me of what might be incorrectly called "a simpler time." And as this book proves, and as a close examination of the times and my life as a youngster proves, there was absolutely nothing simple about the early 1960s, nor the 1950s. I am sure I will read another in the series. Probably the Saturday volume.

And in seasonal news, I have started reading a Christmas novel or two or three,  and so far they are not hitting the mark, not by a long shot. They have been downright DULLSVILLE as compared to previous years.
So I sample a book, sigh a lot, and toss it aside.
Then sample another and toss aside again, extremely disappointed.
(Lots have come from the library, so I am thankful I didn't invest in them.)

Then I started reading my very first Nancy Thayer novel of all time--her Christmas title for 2019, set on Nantucket Island, entitled Let It Snow. I've managed to get to the one-third mark and it is SO BORING. I keep thinking the excitement is starting to get off the ground, but it's a tepid glow, like sitting in lukewarm bath water in a frigid bathroom.
And now this passage has made for some very dull reading indeed. I tell you what--When I find a really good one, I'll let you know. Until then, just picture me frisbeeing Christmas titles across the reading loft! Fetch, Sandy!


Friday, October 11, 2019

An Uptick in My Reading Life--Tess Gerritsen's Latest Rules!

I really hate to use the word "UPTICK," because our tick population and tick diseases are escalating hugely. For the first time, Lyme Disease has been frequently diagnosed in people and animals suffering from all sorts of ailments this year. So sorry about the uptick, but tick-tock, I am glad to say that I'm reading much, much more than I have been compared to July, August and midway through September.

Sandy actually let me finish P is for Peril by Sue Grafton very early one morning this week. Monday it poured rain all day, and she was subdued by the weather. This morning, though, she acted as if she had been shot out of a cannon.  Lots of tennis ball retrieving and frisbee helped to settle her a bit. But it is her third birthday today after all. I sang "Happy Birthday" to her on our LONG walk, and,  do you know, when I finished singing, she sat down directly  in front of me, and smiled happily in response! What a dog!

I have never read Tess Gerritsen's novels before, but news of her latest, The Shape of Night, got me clamoring for it, and I was so lucky to get a library copy quickly. It's set on the coast of Maine, and is Gothicky, and is incredibly good. What a writer she is! The novel is incredibly well-written and  downright HOT, although I wasn't expecting it to be (though it's very welcome). Where has Tess Gerritsen been all my life? She lives in Maine now and was trained as a physician, though she's not practicing now. I do think I must check out more of her books. She has several series, but this one is a standalone novel. And do I ever recommend it!

I also read my very first Fern Michaels's Christmas romance novel, Spirit of the Season. You may want to go online to read the premise of this one--it is so unusual, I'd say. The most entertaining aspect was that Joy, a young businesswoman and owner of a very successful nail-polish company in Denver learns that her grandmother in Spruce City, North Carolina, has died, leaving her to run the grandmother's business for 6 months OR the business will be turned over to the State of North Carolina. Her grandmother's business???  A large, profitable Bed and Breakfast that is devoted to the celebration of holidays. Like Christmas. This specific aspect of the book is entertaining, and yes, CRAZY,  but the business aspect is not boring in the slightest, though  the romantic aspects are a bit dull in comparison. It's a cozy first and foremost. Kisses are all you get. Very traditional. But it was an incredibly FAST read and parts of it amused me mightily, though I must confess I SKIMMED through a lot of the boring parts. Yes, indeed, my first and LAST Fern Michaels novel!! Actually this one got very high ratings on Goodreads. Go figure.

Friday, October 4, 2019

What's Up Next: The Rabbi--Sleeping Late, on a Friday No Less!

I've always wanted to read Friday the Rabbi Sleeps Late, by Harry Kemelman (1964). As soon as I finish P is for Peril by Sue Grafton, I'll be all over it. When I was a very young teen, and  just embarking on my babysitting career, it seemed to me that every young mother had this book on their nightstand or by their rocking chair. It won the Edgar, for one thing. The only reason my mother didn't read it was because she was working and also getting her masters degree in library science, with a specialty in children's and young adult literature, so she had no time whatsoever to read adult books.  In any case, I know the book was super hot among all the adults I engaged with. And, of course, naturally, I was living in the Boston suburbs, which is the setting of this book and others in the series. So I can't wait to get started on it. It's still being read and is still widely available, and I must say it must be in demand because it's not available at a giveaway price, as are many other first books in a series. I was surprised at that.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Kinsey Milhone Pulls Me Back to the Reading Life

As everyone knows by now, I have had an extended reading hiatus--not one that I planned for or one that I wanted. I have read several books over the past two months, but I don't feel fully engaged in the world of books. And I miss it. And I want to immerse myself in reading again, though it's been a struggle.

Sandy, our new golden retriever, is doing very well, but I must say that she has had a marked (negative) impact on my reading life, and it has been exactly the same for Ken. Our reading time took a hit--bigtime! She requires lots of attention as she continues to settle in, and lots of walks, and obedience training. She's so good-natured--we love playing and spending time with her.

I have had a lot of acute back pain recently, which is, yes, related to our new beloved, but today I made myself read something, and finally, finally, I turned to a book that allowed me to become totally re-engaged in one of my favorite series. I picked up P is for Peril by Sue Grafton, a Kinsey Milhone mystery. And I was so thankful. For the first time in three weeks a book reeled me in. Thank you to Sue Grafton, and a thank you to her spunky creation, Kinsey, who is unlike any other female private detective. The mysteries are serious, yes, but Kinsey is a hoot, and she's not trying to be funny. She just can't help herself. She is a very serious private investigator. But with a unique sensibility. And I felt so happy again.