As I continue my discovery of Charles Dickens I thought it would be interesting to go to the book that brought him such acclaim. This is combined withAs I continue my discovery of Charles Dickens I thought it would be interesting to go to the book that brought him such acclaim. This is combined with a desire for light reading, which every commenter agrees is what one gets from The Pickwick Papers. I also read G.K. Chesterton's commentary on the novel which points out that, for a comic novel, it has a great deal of truth about people especially after Sam Weller's character is introduced. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that monthly publication sales really picked up after that point in the story as well.
I've been looking forward to this a lot and will be trading off between the print and audio versions, as needs dictate. I will be picking up David Timson's narration from Audible once my monthly credit comes around. In the meantime, LibriVox has a decent enough version to tide me over, especially if I pretend it is just my dear old aunt who wants to read me the book. :-)...more
The story itself is fascinating. The writing is less impressive with everything strung together so fast that it can be hard to keep track of events. TThe story itself is fascinating. The writing is less impressive with everything strung together so fast that it can be hard to keep track of events. The book could have done with just a touch of breathing space.
That said, this is still very worth reading. One realizes that although the Vatican's official neutrality had to be maintained (as did that of others highlighted in the book), there was a lot of frantic activity below the surface to save lives in Rome right under the Gestapo's nose....more
This is set in an earlier period than Heyer generally wrote about and it a bit more stiff language as a result. However, it carries the trademark HeyeThis is set in an earlier period than Heyer generally wrote about and it a bit more stiff language as a result. However, it carries the trademark Heyer humor, mystery, and enjoyable romance. It isn't one of my favorites but I like it well enough and when Audible had it on sale recently I snapped it up....more
This is not as indepth as Casson's Travel in the Ancient World which I greatly enjoyed, but it is a wonderful overview nonetheless. Add to that that iThis is not as indepth as Casson's Travel in the Ancient World which I greatly enjoyed, but it is a wonderful overview nonetheless. Add to that that it is the book which Isaac Asimov was so engrossed in that he completely forgot to fret over his daughter being very late when he was waiting to pick her up one day ... and you can see just how engrossing it is....more
This is not the exact same material as his book that bears the same title. Rather it is from a series of radio broadcasts prior to the publication ofThis is not the exact same material as his book that bears the same title. Rather it is from a series of radio broadcasts prior to the publication of the book.
That said, I am enjoying hearing Lewis's own voice. I keep thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien's supposed basing of the Ents and their way of talking on his friend C.S. Lewis ... and it kind of works.
Also the material is great and is a wonderful precis (probably) of the book which I know contains more material. And which I will be reading in the future. This is great stuff, especially the section about friendship....more
I'm not the target market for this book but I know lots of young women who are. That's what made me flip through the book. I kept coming across sectioI'm not the target market for this book but I know lots of young women who are. That's what made me flip through the book. I kept coming across sections that caught my attention and made me want to know the rest of the story. I finally realized that I'm going to have to read this book even if it isn't aimed at me. Which says a lot about how personable this author is. And, let's face it, if I know people in the target market then I need to know what this author's saying because it could come up in conversation. Such are the times in which we live....more
To be honest, I'm not going to actually read this whole book. However, I loved the Popcak's Just Married book and that gave me the impetus to flip thrTo be honest, I'm not going to actually read this whole book. However, I loved the Popcak's Just Married book and that gave me the impetus to flip through this one. I saw so much common sense displayed, combined with sensible Catholic grounding, that I resolved to buy two more copies to give to some young mothers I know....more
I'll be participating in the blog tour for this book. They had me at Aquilina. Then they threw in the Church Fathers and John Michael Talbot whose musI'll be participating in the blog tour for this book. They had me at Aquilina. Then they threw in the Church Fathers and John Michael Talbot whose music, I'll be honest, I've never listened to. However, I'm friends with one of his longtime friends (the main deacon in our parish) and so am interested in his story. Plus, when flipping through I could see his memoir intertwines with the Fathers' stories in a way that just pulls me in....more
I've been noting Jeff Miller's progress with this book. Though he is a fast reader, this book's been taking him a while. I've never been interested inI've been noting Jeff Miller's progress with this book. Though he is a fast reader, this book's been taking him a while. I've never been interested in reading Aquinas and Jeff's slow progress wasn't inspiring me to get a copy of the book, though I am a Peter Kreeft fan from way back. Then, lo and behold, a review copy came in the mail.
And it happened. Kreeft laid a zinger on me on the very first question ..."Yes, organized religion is a crutch. You mean you didn't know that you are a cripple?" ... and I was hooked. These bits of Aquinas aren't easy. They require slowing down, mulling them over, and really thinking. It's been a while since I've had to do that. But they definitely look worthwhile. I'll be working my way through them at a rate of one per day. So in about a year I may be a little wiser. And maybe (fingers crossed!) a bit closer to heaven....more
I borrowed this to read for the Kindle via my Amazon Prime account. I've now read enough pilgrimage tales to see that they all fall into a familiar paI borrowed this to read for the Kindle via my Amazon Prime account. I've now read enough pilgrimage tales to see that they all fall into a familiar pattern of getting used to the reality of walking so much and finding one's way, meeting and remeeting people on the way, internal reflections and realizations. And I enjoy them every time. In this case, I was interested to get to the end of the book to see if Koontz's relationship with his girlfriend would turn out the way he wanted. That question preoccupied me almost as much as the author....more
There was once a fourth famous Virgin of Chartres; a silver image crafted in the thirteenth century. She no longer exists, though a depiction ofher ma
There was once a fourth famous Virgin of Chartres; a silver image crafted in the thirteenth century. She no longer exists, though a depiction ofher may still be seen in one of the windows, where a pilgrim is shown praying to her. Her story proves that vandalism is not exclusively the province of revolutionaries.
This Virgin was greatly venerated in the Middle Ages; indeed, she held the place of honor above that altar. Yet at some point her popularity went into decline ...
For the next two centuries she forged on, doing her best despite reduced conditions. But then came the debt crunch of the 1760s. The canons of the cathedral went casting about for any little scrap of gold or silver. In a note signed April 6, 1769, Germain Blonnie, a goldsmith of Chartres, acknowledged receipt of twenty-four livres for "melting down the Christ and the Virgin of the old altar." The little silver Virgin had been turned into ingots to pay for Carrara marble ...
It is horrifying to think that an image that had received so many prayers over the centuries could be so blithely destroyed. Then again, the Church could reply that works of religious art are intended to be not receptacles for prayer, but windows to a higher reality; that one prays through, not to, an image. A statue of Mary is not Mary, and maybe it's better to melt down the images from time to time before they turn into idols.
An avowed atheist, Ward indulged his long held desire to walk on pilgrimage in going to various Marian shrines throughout Europe. In doing so he presents one of the clearest and most even handed views of pilgrimage and these shrines that I have ever read. He gives the history for each place, which includes Lourdes, Chartres, and Fatima. We then share his experiences in current day surroundings and see the many types of pilgrims that also are at these shrines. Atheist or not, Ward has an excellent understanding of the Catholic Church's view and is more open minded in many cases than some Catholics I know. Highly recommended....more
These days it seems almost commonplace to encounter stories about walking a pilgrimage on The Way of St. James – El Camino Pilgrimage in Spain. I've rThese days it seems almost commonplace to encounter stories about walking a pilgrimage on The Way of St. James – El Camino Pilgrimage in Spain. I've read a number of these and lately have been wondering if The Way is really crowded. Certainly a large number of people's experiences have made it into print.
Therefore I was interested to see this book by Harry Bucknall about his pilgrimage walking the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome. I'm not the only one who's never heard of this ancient pilgrim trail considering how few pilgrims the author encounters on his way. Bucknall does a nice job of relating his walking adventures and tying in the history of the places on the route. As a straight forward travelogue it is enjoyable.
However, it falls short when it comes to a significant part of a pilgrim's experience. Bucknall very rarely lets us see his inner self. There are about four times in this 272 page book where we get any hint of what he hopes for, is surprised by, or learns about himself. Any of these experiences would have given the most average person reason for reflection which one might reasonably expect to be shared in a book like this. I don't demand one be a believer, which this author is not, or religious fervor from such a book. In fact, one of my favorite pilgrimage books is Virgin Trails by an atheist. I don't even have to agree with the person's personal conclusions, as witness my feelings about Grandma's on the Camino, another book I can recommend.
However, there is a special blend of tour guide, introspection, and the author as friend that the best books convey about such journeys. One need only look at H.V. Morton's travel books, most of which are not religious at all, to get a sense of that special blend. I'm not sure if this was an editorial or authorial decision, but Bucknall seems to hold himself aloof from opening up. This leaves one with the sense that we are just skimming the surface.
I can recommend it on the basis of simply seeing what it is like to undertake walking a pilgrimage in modern times while holding to medieval paths. The history, landscape, and journey itself are interesting. Just don't expect to find out what internal changes one might experience.
NOTE This was a free review copy. I think we can all see that didn't influence my review....more
Another anthology of tales Lovecraft highlighted in his Supernatural Horror in Literature essay. This is enough of a different selection that it is deAnother anthology of tales Lovecraft highlighted in his Supernatural Horror in Literature essay. This is enough of a different selection that it is definitely worth owning also, if that's what you're into. And I am.
A bonus is that it has Lovecraft's entire essay as the first item in the book so you can read the whole thing for yourself before you begin the stories....more
I come to this book via two influences. The first is that of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast which, when they finished discussing all of LovecraftI come to this book via two influences. The first is that of The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast which, when they finished discussing all of Lovecraft's writing, then proceeded to read the authors and stories mentioned in his influential essay, Supernatural Horror in Literature. Hence, I've heard many of these stories discussed even though I haven't read them.
Secondly, this was a logical progression after reading Douglas A. Anderson's Tales Before Narnia and Tales Before Tolkien, both of which I greatly enjoyed.
This collection earns an additional star than Anderson's other anthologies simply because I am enjoying every single story in it. That speaks more to my enjoyment of weird tales than to Anderson's selection but it is a fact that this is the collection I'll be buying and rereading in the future....more
Read by the fabulous Andy Minter at LIbriVox. It is in the early chapters but I'm enjoying this a great deal so far. Here's his summary.
The setting, g
Read by the fabulous Andy Minter at LIbriVox. It is in the early chapters but I'm enjoying this a great deal so far. Here's his summary.
The setting, geography and history of this story by Rev'd Sabine Baring-Gould, author of Onward Christian Soldiers and a number of other well-known hymns, are all accurate, or at least as accurate as local lore will allow. Kinver has long been a midlands beauty spot, and the UK National Trust own and open one of the rock-dwellings mentioned. The 'Stewponey' too was an inn until a year or two into the twenty-first century: - the present reader having stopped there for a drink and a meal many times.
The story, whether you call it a romance, a historical novel or a horror story - comprising as it does a young woman being offered as a prize in a bowling match, a wife-burning, highwaymen and buried treasure - is of course wholly fiction.
"Night in Whitechapel" -Guy de Maupassant When two young men make a trek to London on a cold December evening, they expect to take in the city and mayb
"Night in Whitechapel" - Guy de Maupassant When two young men make a trek to London on a cold December evening, they expect to take in the city and maybe a pub or two along the way. But a chance encounter with a mysterious woman soon has them questioning not only the proceedings of their evening but their sanity as well.
"Was It a Dream?" - Guy de Maupassant A young man recounts the tragic death of his love, claimed by an unknown illness. In his grief, he wanders the cemetery where she is buried to find a dark secret that she, and many other corpses, share.
"Caterpillars" - E.F. Benson A man recalls his terrifying stay at a haunted Italian villa. You will never look at caterpillars in the same way.
"John Mortonson’s Funeral" - Ambrose Bierce The mourners at this funeral will be forever changed.
This collection is well named. All of these tales have a certain creepiness factor that will leave your skin crawling if you think about them too much. They also have the virtue of not being the usual "classic" horror tales included in most anthologies, although they are by authors acknowledged as master storytellers.
What enhances the subtlety and creeping horror is Victor Garber's soft spoken narration. As any good actor would, he reads each tale differently to reflect its own character, but never with obvious technique that draws the listener away from the story itself. My favorite was "Was It a Dream?" in which the protagonist's lovelorn state gradually gives way to shuddering fear in the graveyard. The transition was so seamless that I couldn't tell you when it happened and by the end of the tale I myself was horror stricken.
The collection is short, clocking in at slightly more than an hour, but it is choice. Definitely recommended.
NOTE I received this audio as a review copy for SFFaudio. My love for Victor Garber and these tales is my uninfluenced own opinion (if you can count loving the first two seasons of Alias as no sort of influence at all)....more
If there is a God, then why is there so much suffering and pain in the world?
This is a common problem brought up by atheists and C. S. Lewis says it wIf there is a God, then why is there so much suffering and pain in the world?
This is a common problem brought up by atheists and C. S. Lewis says it was a problem for him before he became Christian. Somehow it's not a question that ever bothered me whether I believed or didn't. So I welcomed the premise of the book since that's a question that always stops me in my tracks. I also was happy to see my library had it available on audio.
This is one of those books that pulls no punches. In his trademark style, Lewis applies logic, common sense, and his considerable breadth of knowledge to the question. Whether he convinces any unbelievers or not, I don't know. But he includes so much that I either agreed with or found to be "mooreeffoc" thinking that I now want to get the print version for leisurely rereading....more
What can I say? It was $6.95 on sale at Audible for Halloween. I'm not made of stone, people!
These stories were chosen from Lovecraft's scholarly essaWhat can I say? It was $6.95 on sale at Audible for Halloween. I'm not made of stone, people!
These stories were chosen from Lovecraft's scholarly essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature" where he discusses a number of authors and works that were influential horror literature. Each is prefaced by a bit of Lovecraft's comments about the work.
I'm four hours into this 16-hour book and so far there is not a bad narration in the bunch. There is also not a bad story thus far. I know most of them, believe it or not, but there is something about listening to an excellent narration that doesn't allow you to skim over anything that really enhances enjoyment of what the author put into it....more
As with this editor's Tales Before Tolkien, this collection presents not only tales Lewis read but those which would have been in the current story enAs with this editor's Tales Before Tolkien, this collection presents not only tales Lewis read but those which would have been in the current story environment when he was growing up. A really wonderful collection and one which I enjoyed thoroughly, all the moreso for the inclusion of short stories by some of Lewis's fellow Inklings who are lesser known.
I didn't feel I had to painstakingly read every story if one wasn't the sort I like. A quick skimming was perfectly adequate to give me the gist. If one approaches it that way then you will probably like it just as much as I did....more