Wednesday, June 29, 2022

June 2022

 Eight books in June. Publishing this post early as I won't finish the book I'm currently reading before Friday:

  • Stars and Bars, by William Boyd. Great book of his. Which one is next?
  • Harry Potter i kamen mudraca, by JK Rowling. Working on my Serbian/Croatian. Thankfully I know the story because my language isn't sufficient yet.
  • Cluny Brown, by Margery Sharp. Love me Margery Sharp. She was a master storyteller. I will continue to read her till I've read all of her.
  • Serbo-Croatian Grammar and Reader, by Oton Grozdińá. Got this years ago at a used bookstore for a dollar or so. Great grammar review.
  • The Eiger Sanction, by Trevanian. Great book. 50/50 I'll read more of him.
  • Uncertain Glory, by Joan Sales. Another great book, but I'm done with the Spanish Civil War for a while.
  • Young Men in Spats, by PG Wodehouse. Great book by the Master. Blandings sightings. For the FB Wodehouse Book Club. Wonder what July's book will be?
  • The Vikings, by Else Roesdahl. Quick and easy history.
And my purchases:
  • The Vikings. Got this one and the next one at Salvation Army for, IIRC, two bucks each. 
  • Viking Age Iceland, by Jesse Byock. 
  • The Galaxy, and the Ground Within, by Becky Chambers. Bought this based on reading previously her The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, which was great. Two bucks, Kindle deal.
  • SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard. Bought this based on her Confronting the Classics.
  • The Circle of Reason, by Amitav Ghosh. Kindle deal. Looked intriguing. 
  • Winterkill, by Ragnar Jonasson. One of these days I'm going to read these books from the Dark Iceland series.
  • The Eiger Sanction. You pick it for the family book club, you should own it. But, actually, bought it for the wife. I read it with Audible.
  • It's Our Turn to Eat, by Michela Wrong. This one is for the book club at work.
  • Tales of Al: The Water Rescue Dog, by Lynne Cox. Yes, that Lynne Cox of ultra-swimming fame. Met her years ago and have stayed in touch. She's wonderful.
June was BCS heavy, and I think it is coming along. Not sure I'll be ready for an OPI this year, so I redirected the instructor to concentrate on listening and reading for the DLPT in November. In C&M, we had a mid-term (second mid-term, technically), wherein we translated a stele from 1870 bc, currently housed in the Louvre (Louvre 272). I did pretty well, considering my several-weeks auditing of the course in December-January while prepping for my Russian DLPT. Granted, the midterm covered areas we'd already studied in the C&M course, but still, the only help the moderator gave us were some names we hadn't learned yet. I dorked up while submitting my homework by missing some of the offerings; there they are in my notebook, but when I was transposing from my notebook to the email submission, I skipped them. I also missed some xrw 'justified' at the ends of some of the "his brother/sister/dad/mom" rows (top right in picture below). 

Monday, June 27, 2022

The Vikings, by Else Roesdahl

 Picked this book up at Salvation Army for a buck, along with Viking Age Iceland. Read this one first. Very good history, broken into thematic chapters. Very enlightening. 

I've always had a fascination with this area of history, especially the intersection of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norse histories, contact, war, language. The languages are incredibly interesting, thus my past attempts at Norwegian, Danish, Old Norse, Old English, Middle Welsh, Cornish, Irish. You get the idea. 

This is a quick read, despite me taking over a week to read it; got busy during the work week. Good illustrations throughout, but B&W only. The maps are great, and really allow the reader to envision why the Faroes are a natural stop for the Vikings en route Iceland (and Greenland, and Vinland, aka America). Not to mention the Orkneys and Shetland, all locations I now have on my "cold places" visit dream list. 

Originally published in Danish (I believe) in the late '80s, this revised English-language edition I read was copyright 1998. I'm assuming there are more updated histories out there, but this one is recommended for the lay reader. 

Great cover, too.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Uncertain Glory, by Joan Sales

 Good book, war book, Spanish civil, again. Originally in Catalan. 

Spoilers commence:

The book is divided into three parts, each one in 1POV. I usually don't like book in that point of view but it started out so well. 

Main players are Lluis (in Catalan the ll is not pronounced like a y), Trini, and Cruells. A love triangle of sorts. The three parts are from their points of view, respectively. Yet, another main character, and the hub around those three spokes seem to rotate is Soleras, a difficult man, depending upon which part of the book you're reading.

The republicans aren't doing so well against the fascists, at least in the year-plus that this book covers. In the field or in Barcelona. Neither are relationships going well. Doctors, commanders, captains, lieutenants, they all have weird relationships with their wives. Ugh..

It just got to be too much by the end. Still, great writing and translating. (Trans by Peter Bush.) But I just wanted it done at the end. It dragged...

Spoilers complete.

Probably done with the Spanish Civil War for a while. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Eiger Sanction, by Trevanian

 This is such a good book, by Trevanian, if that is his or her real name. 

Spoilers below:

Jonathan has a problem. He owes a sanction. To pay back the sanction of a friend of his. How about a mountain climb? Sure, why not?! 

He's an art professor. He's a lover. He's an owner of a church. Oh, and he's a contract killer. And he prefers that. He doesn't even like teaching. Even with all the coeds he could have sex with. Hell, his virgin neighbor is ready and willing, blonde and randy, yet he's got standards. Really?

Still, throughout the reading of this, all I saw in my mind's eye is Clint Eastwood. The first half of the book, IIRC, isn't even in the film. The angry gardener. The virgin/slutty neighbor. I don't even remember the sexy black woman. But I'll have to re-watch the movie.

IIRC, the movie revealed the killer differently, but I think I like the book version better. And the Audible narrator was great, the voices he did (Joe Barrett) were spectacular. 

Spoilers complete.

I'm looking forward to watching the movie this weekend. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Classics Spin #30

 Time for another Classics Spin. Dear reader(s) recall that I have to list 20 books from my classics list, then they "spin" and come up with a number, and I read that book by 7 August. So here's my list this time:

  1. Homage to Catalonia
  2. American Pastoral
  3. The Stories of J.F. Powers
  4. Love's Labour's Lost
  5. Tender is the Night <----
  6. Orlando
  7. Dead Souls
  8. Solaris
  9. King Soloman's Mines
  10. In Patagonia
  11. Kidnapped
  12. The Mosquito Coast
  13. King Lear
  14. The Turn of the Screw
  15. The Fellowship of the Ring
  16. The Groves of Academe
  17. Endurance
  18. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  19. Cakes and Ale
  20. The Death of the Heart
I think tomorrow is when we get the number. #ccspin 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Cluny Brown, by Margery Sharp

 Another wonderful book by Ms. Sharp and I'm left wondering why I don't only read her books. (Yes, I know the answer: there'll be no more once I'm done, so space them out.) She is just the perfect author. This is my third of hers; I have yet on my bookshelf: Britannia Mews and The Stone of Chastity

Spoilers down there:

This one has an English country home, staff below stairs, a chemist's, a labrador, parlor-maids, a Pole, even mention of Nazis and the RAF. Everything one would want in good Brit-lit. And Cluny Brown. Cluny, short for Clover, as if that weren't evident. (What is it about Anglophones and their inexplicable nicknames: Jack for John; Betty for Elizabeth?) Cluny is the ingenue, but not annoying like Holly Golightly (although Capote did proffer quite the competition to Sharp in the naming department). Don't get me wrong, I liked Breakfast at Tiffany's, at least I remember liking it; I read it maybe 15 or more years ago. And I love Audrey Hepburn, but it's not about who played the ingenues in the movies, but the characters in the books, and I'll take Cluny over Holly any day.

I haven't seen the Cluny Brown movie yet. 

People keep asking Cluny what she's all about, what she's going to do with her life, what's her deal. She doesn't know, and her uncle, in loco parentis, decides for her, which is what brings her into service in the country. She has no liking for the job, but does it to the best of her ability, because that's what uncle Arn asks of her. She cherishes her Wednesday afternoons off, romps with the dog, and eventually walks with the chemist. 

There's much else going on in the country, to include an heir trying to decide his future, a Pole writing a book and falling in love left and right, and a peer (or not) wishing for the old days. But all this pales in what fate has in store for Cluny. With a marriage proposal virtually on the front step, hours away, she makes a rash decision which, in the end, seems to come out alright. 

Spoilers, alas, complete.

I loved this book, and read its 270 pages quickly; of course, bacterial conjunctivitis keeping one away from work gives one plenty of time to read. Onward!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Harry Potter i kamen mudraca

 Finished, for the second time, the first Harry Potter book in Croatian. (I "read" it the first time in 2020 prior to my deployment.) Harry Potter i kamen mudraca was tough. My Croatian is still coming along, but my vocab is still weak. Thankfully I know the story. And I'm sure my dear reader(s) know the story as well. 

Why did I listen-read this book in Croatian? I'm following a program called Listening-Reading (L-R). Theory is you listen-read to the book in the foreign language three times, then you move to L1 for one of the modalities. For instance, if I want to work on my listening, I'd listen in Croatian and read in English. 

Not sure if I'll listen-read it again in Croatian, perhaps L-R Hunger Games (Igre Gladi), which I also have. But who knows. For now I'm going wait a bit till the next Croatian read.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Stars and Bars, by William Boyd

 Another great one by William Boyd. 


British ex-pat, art appraiser, PhD, "impressionist man," gets to experience The South. Unlike the horrible Quichotte, the author doesn't blame an entire portion of the U.S. of being morons or racists or rubes. This poor Brit gets to experience one crazy family, possibly an example of a family with sudden wealth (initially, only to be drained through the years). 

Several surprises during this novel, only a few of which I guessed ahead of time. Burning them, though. Ugh. I almost cried, and the paintings were fictional. The book did make me want to look up some of the art, but I'm afraid they won't be real, or possibly I'm afraid they are real? The Demeter and Baubo...and oh yes that myth is real (since I had to look up the spelling of the second party). Why had I not ever heard of the pudenda-flashing old Greek woman? Quite shocking...until you read anything about the ancient Greeks.  

Spoilers done.

Friend of mine read this book to prep herself for her trip to the States later this summer. Not sure this'll prepare her. This is pure fiction, perhaps with some flashes of truth, but not an accurate portrayal of America. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

May 2022

 (Edit: I realized I forgot about "digital purchases" so update to my purchases below.)

Here's my May.

And my purchases
  • Complete Middle Egyptian, by Richard Bussman. Should have gotten this earlier.
  • Esperanto and Languages of Internationalism in Revolutionary Russia, by Brigid O'Keeffe. Pre-order. Can't wait till this comes out...IN DECEMBER. Ugh.
  • A Person from England and Other Travelers to Turkestan, by Fitzroy Maclean. 1st ed. hb w/dj. Will start this soon.
  • Ukridge, by Wodehouse. This and the next three were on a deal.
  • Mulliner Nights, by Wodehouse
  • Summer Moonshine, by Wodehouse
  • Money in the Bank, by Wodehouse
  • Cluny Brown, by Margery Sharp. Sharp!
  • Between Two Worlds, by Upton Sinclair. Lanny Budd series. Heard it's good, and all the novels seem to come up on Kindle deals, so why not?
  • The Cave, by Saramago. Based on The Double, I got this one for 2 bucks.
  • Papillon, by Henri Charriere. One night of BCS class, my instructor and I talked about this movie. Very next day, this book on Kindle deals!
  • Earthlight, by Arthur C. Clarke. Never heard of this one and I thought I'd read all his.
  • How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, by Corinne McKay. I am translating Mi Stelojn Jungis al Revado, after all.
BCS is going well. The language is coming back, slowly. I'm going to try to do another 2-3 months starting in late September. (This iteration goes through July.) I'm also doing the Hippocrene and Complete Croatian still, at lesson 5 and 4, respectively. Middle Egyptian also good. That Complete text above is a great reinforcement for C&M.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V.E. Schwab

 Great book. I'm on a roll.  Spoilers : Adeline "Addie" LaRue has a problem. She's being forced to marry. This is 1600s Fr...