January 2018 TBR & BoB 21

Bout of Books

I’ll have an update post on the date, but for now this is not only my January TRB, but my Bout of Books 21 sign up post!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 8th and runs through Sunday, January 14th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 21 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

 

Continue reading “January 2018 TBR & BoB 21”

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Writing Update, 12/27


How’s It Going?
I’ve been working slowly and steadily on a rewrite of One Ahead #3. Some of the situations were a little plain, and I shifted the intent of one of my characters. Still haven’t quite figured out an ending.

Research Topic of the Fortnight
The History of Cigarette Productions

Obviously, doing sleight of hand with such a small, common object would seem to be a no-brainer, at least in a past era when people smoked more. But when I did a quick search, the majority of cigarette performances and tricks seemed to originate in the 1920s-30s. (My stories are set in 1915.) To some extent, these results are limited by when magic publishing became a thing, but it also led me to the question: when do cigarettes become a common enough item that you can do the equivalent of street magic with them? Wikipedia puts the technological turning point at 1850 with James Albert Bonsack’s cigarette-making machine and the cultural turning point around the end of the Crimean War 1856. Using Magicpedia, I searched for earlier and earlier performers and tricks. For example, Cardini, who comes to my mind when I think of cigarette tricks, didn’t really get into magic until WWI—past 1915.

Eventually though, I did come across mentions of Walter Baker performing a cigarette trick in a 1916 issue of the Magical Bulletin of the Magical Shop of the West which also includes ads for Louis Christianer’s “Cigarette Tricks” pamphlet in January  of the next year. Close enough to let me know that an impromptu cigarette production might not be too out of place in 1915.

(I also read about a Card in Cigarette trick that was performed as early as 1883 in London, but that’s a little different.)

About This WIP
One Ahead is a series of mystery novellas focusing on David P. Abbott, a magician who lived in Omaha, NE at the beginning of the 20th century. Aside from being an accomplished magician, David Abbott was a debunker of fraudulent mediumistic practices. I’ll be delving into the history of Omaha in 1915 as well as visiting some of the magicians, mediums, and skeptics that lived in that era.

It’s Monday, What Are You… (12/25)

…Reading?

The Linking Rings (An Eli Marks Mystery Book 4) Fangirl

I’m well on my way to finishing 40 books this year (which was my goal). The only wrinkle in my planned TBR list for December is a reread of Fangirl. The residence hall where I lived and worked for the majority of my time at UNL, which is also where Cath lives in Fangirl, was demolished on Friday.

Any sadness about the end of an era is mostly eclipsed by the coolness of the demolition. Still, it seemed a good time for a reread.

It's Monday! What Are You ReadingIt’s Monday! What Are You Reading, hosted by Book Date!

…Doing?

Enjoying Christmas at my parent’s house. There are way too many goodies. For me, feast-wise, Thanksgiving has nothing on Christmas.

What Was I Doing?

I didn’t think I posted much on Christmas, but I guess I’m wrong.

Deal Me In, Week 51 ~ “Afternoon in Linen”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Afternoon in Linen” by Shirley Jackson

Card picked: 7
From: The Lottery, and other stories

The Story
I’m finishing up the year with a couple Shirley Jackson stories. This is the first of two remaining hearts in my Deal Me In deck.

(Psst — Signup for Deal Me In 2018 is open! All you need is a deck of cards and 52 short stories. This is a challenge so easy and wonderful that I’ve managed to complete it (knock on wood) four years in a row!)

This is another story, and Shirley Jackson does them so well, about the disconnect between adults and children. Mrs. Kator and her son Howard are visiting Mrs. Lennon and her granddaughter Harriet. The story begins with Howard playing piano, slowly and carefully. He’s a good student according to Mrs. Kator, though he doesn’t like to practice and she feels he isn’t getting much out of it. Mrs. Lennon counters that Harriet seems to be naturally inclined toward music and makes up her own tunes. Mrs. Lennon is eager to have Harriet play. Harriet, though, has decided she isn’t going to. Worse, the adults then request that she recite some of the poetry that she’s written, a concept that Howard seems to find funny. “He’ll tell all the kids on the block,” Harriet keeps thinking as she denies writing any poetry at all. And often, for a kid, getting in trouble with adults is better than being strange to your peers…

 

Review ~ Wuthering Heights

Cover via Goodreads

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before; of the intense relationship between the gypsy foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw; and how Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past. (via Goodreads)

Why was I interested in this book?
Twenty years ago (yes, that much), I finished my college education, earning a bachelor’s degree in English. Yet, I had never read Emily Brontë’s only novel. More shameful still (if you have a degree in English), I had attempted to read Wuthering Heights not once, but twice(!), before I decided to jump on board Roofbeam Reader’s Classic Book of the Month Club.

What Worked
I started the year with Moby Dick and I am near ending it with Wuthering Heights, two of the oddest novels I’ve encountered. In the case of the former, I’m rather glad that I never had to read it for a class. It’s too big and there’s too much. I think the only way to do it justice would be to have a semester long class. In the case of the latter, I wouldn’t mind a little guided context for Wuthering Heights because I feel like I’m missing something.

My initial read is that this is a novel about miserable people being miserable to each other.

…however miserable you make us, we shall still have the revenge of thinking that your cruelty arises from your greater misery.

In that way, and this might be considered sacrilege, but it reminded me of Gone Girl. Just full of terrible, horrible people. Even Mr. Lockwood, our entrance-level character, is snarky, peevish, and jealous. The only character worth her salt is Ellen Dean—nanny, housemaid, sane person.

I *suppose*, prompted by the summary above, I could buy that all this tragedy is set into motion by a woman doing what is expected of her instead of what her heart dictates, but the wheels of dreadful behavior are already set in motion by the time Cathy decides to marry proper Linton instead of mercurial Heathcliff.

What Didn’t Work
Is it just me or is the use of quotation marks a little eccentric? Honestly, this is one of the reasons I’ve had trouble with Wuthering Heights. I’d put it down for a day and lose track of who was doing the narration, even though it was usually Mrs. Dean.  Also, the names just kill me. This genealogy chart helped a lot (linked to avoid spoilers).

What also doesn’t help are relatively good movie versions (adaptation doesn’t seem to be the right word) that leave out all the domestic abuse in favor of telling a romantic tale. With the number of beatings that occur, I’m not sure why this is considered a romantic work. Maybe that’s where my disconnect lies. I expected a great, if tragic, romance. Instead, I got one of the great novels of revenge. As a revenge story, I’m not sure Quentin Tarantino has done better.

Overall
I can’t say I disliked it, but it’s one of those cases where I feel like I’ve read a totally different book than everyone else.

Publishing info, my copy: Kindle, AmazonClassics
Genre: classics, literary, gothic

The first time I encountered an allusion to Heathcliff:

Down the TBR Hole #7

TBRHole

This is a meme started by Lia at Lost in a Story. The “rules” are:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I’m modifying this a little since my to-read shelf is a mess of books that are mostly in storage. Instead, I’m going to look at my wishlist—all those books I add on a whim during my travels around the book blogging community—and weed out the ones that don’t quite sound as good now. The “keepers” I’m going to look for at online libraries or add to my Amazon wishlist.

alt text How to Read a Graveyard by Peter Stanford

KEEP. Because Peter Standford doesn’t write enough books. And this one is about cemeteries too.

alt text The Extra Mile: A 21st century Pilgrimage by Peter Stanford

KEEP. See above. But seriously, if I had to choose one of these to go, it would probably be this one.

alt text Magic: A Beginner’s Guide by Robert Ralley

I was ready to throw this one under the bus as a sacrificial “go,” but it’s more about magic history than beginner-level magic. So, KEEP.

alt text The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

I already have too many historical crime novels. And historical crime nonfiction books. GO.

alt text A Whiff Of Death by Isaac Asimov

I think I added this before I finished the other book of Asimov mysteries I owned, which I sometimes enjoyed. You know what though? I’m good. GO.

Anyone have any experience with any of these? Any arguments for KEEP or GO?

Deal Me In, Week 50 ~ “Gentlemen”

(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)
(Deal Me In logo above created by Mannomoi at Dilettante Artiste)

Hosted by Jay @ Bibliophilopolis
What’s Deal Me In?

“Gentlemen” by Craig Spector and John Skipp

Card picked: 10
From: The Architecture of Fear, edited by Kathryn Cramer

The Story
Generally, this anthology has been a little light on stories that centered on architecture—actual buildings. Maybe I had an out-sized expectation of how the hauntings would play out; I often fall victim to my own disappointment. “Gentlemen,” though, does not disappoint. It’s haunted place: a dive bar bathroom. Not only do Spector and Skipp take advantage of the low hanging gross-out fruits, but provide a truly eerie setting.

Alas, the story was a bit lacking. David, our hapless protagonist, is in love with LeeAnn, but is firmly in the friend zone. This story was written in 1989 before the term “friend zone” was much of a thing. LeeAnn calls on David whenever her romantic relationships go south. And on this particular night, she calls David to a bar filled with awful people and having a curious bathroom in the basement. While he seems to become infected or possessed by the forces that exist in the bathroom—that urge him to BE A MAN—there’s a social aspect that is lacking. David’s bad behavior can be explained away by whatever has taken over, which is actually not very scary.