Rereading this one for the umpteenth time. I've always enjoyed this stand-alone Christie adventure/thriller/mystery which is along the lines of The Ma...moreRereading this one for the umpteenth time. I've always enjoyed this stand-alone Christie adventure/thriller/mystery which is along the lines of The Man in the Brown Suit or The Secret Adversary (if anyone recalls that Tommy and Tuppence mystery). This book features Victoria Jones who impulsively follows a cute young man to Baghdad and winds up smack in the middle of an espionage - conspiracy story.
(view spoiler)[This is a book that should've been featured at some point in Heather Ordover's "What Would Madame Defarge Knit" series of books. The minute Victoria absent mindedly shoves that red knitted scarf into a drawer and then goes around trying to find out who "Lefarge is" (having not been able to hear the dying man very well), one is shouting at her to "get the scarf!" I knew that much even when I first read the book, not having read A Tale of Two Cities at the time. (hide spoiler)]
Just as much fun as ever and even though I know "who done it" I am still enjoying it quite a lot.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is an old review from my blog that I thought I had posted here. Evidently not, but now that is taken care of!
A few weeks ago I received an elabor...moreThis is an old review from my blog that I thought I had posted here. Evidently not, but now that is taken care of!
A few weeks ago I received an elaborate mailing piece for this book. I looked through it longingly and then resolutely threw the pieces in the trash. I had no business purchasing a book right now, even if it was a DK Publishing book ... those grown-up picture books that I love so much.
You can easily imagine my delight then when I received an email offering a review copy the next week.
What you may not be able to so easily imagine is just how beautiful this book is. In fact, I took it to my Scripture Study class the night I received it and was afraid I wouldn't get it back. Person after person paged through, lingering over the beautiful photography of the gardens, treasures, and buildings. Each of them asked the price ($35) and then would say, "That's all? But it's such a big book with so much in it..."
Actually, upon checking, I found that DK offers it for a nice discount and Amazon for an even steeper one.
So now that all those preliminaries are out of the way, just what is in this book?
The author is a historian and former Vatican employee who clearly knows his way around the ins and outs of Vatican City. He also knows the Vatican officials well enough to have gotten full cooperation and to be able to display some things that the regular visitor would never see.
Divided into six sections that cover the Church year, history, architecture, daily life, people and treasures, the book goes into much more depth than one would expect. True, many of the 320 pages feature the stunning photography that is DK's trademark. However, the history section has a succinct yet thorough overview of popes and their accomplishments than I expected. In fact, it is nice to see one that handles the basics so well without getting bogged down in the details. Admittedly I tend to read some very indepth books.
I think that my favorite section features people and their jobs. We see at work those famous Swiss Guards (and their training), the ceremonies assistant, the mosaic restorer, the papal photographer, and even what extensive practice that one must have to sing in the choir. All these have multiple photos and captions that put us in place with them.
However, I also enjoyed the architecture section more than I thought I would. Let's face it. It is unlikely that I will ever go to Rome, much less the Vatican. This book puts me there where so much that is integral to the Catholic faith takes place and has taken place for hundreds and hundreds of years.
This is well worth the price and would make a wonderful gift. In fact, my sister did give it to me, whereupon I promptly donated my review copy to our parish library.
I'm a sucker for little books and the only way I really like poetry if it is collected under some sort of theme. Oh, and I like cats. So this book was...moreI'm a sucker for little books and the only way I really like poetry if it is collected under some sort of theme. Oh, and I like cats. So this book was of interest and I was happy that Paperback Swap sent it my way.
I like it fairly well, despite the preponderance of prose poetry, which is what is responsible for it not getting five stars. Backwards, traditional, hidebound, crochety, dumb ... call me what you will. I like a poem to rhyme or have a particular meter ... otherwise it's just a paragraph broken into nice short sentences scattered about the page.
However, there are a good number of regular poems included here and I like them very well. As well, the Everyman's Library Pocket Poets book is lovely to behold, hold, and to slip into one's purse. (less)
Holy mackerel, people! Why is this book not a standard recommendation for every Christian who wants to know what the apostles did after Pentecost?
We k...moreHoly mackerel, people! Why is this book not a standard recommendation for every Christian who wants to know what the apostles did after Pentecost?
We know about John (mostly). We know about Peter (mostly). And a few others. But to read about Bartholomew's ministry to Iran is amazing. And that Thomas is the apostle who we know most about other than Peter or Paul ... well, that was pretty surprising also.
This book was lent to me for some research I'm doing so I'm just dipping into it here and there. But it is so fascinating and readable, with trustworthy scholarship, that I find myself reaching for it for my bedtime reading also.
It's Saturday, I'm cleaning house and finding that only an audiobook gets me through it. But I've got nothing that appeals at the moment. Thank goodne...moreIt's Saturday, I'm cleaning house and finding that only an audiobook gets me through it. But I've got nothing that appeals at the moment. Thank goodness I recalled that my Audible membership just cycled through another month so a credit is available!
I've been trying to get this Leiber series for a long time but the library doesn't have it. I read one of the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories in Otto Penzler's Big Book of Adventure Stories. That really piqued my interest. That made me happy to see that Audible's "Neil Gaiman Presents" series features several collections of these stories. This is the first ... let's see how easy it is to clean bathrooms now!
We get a long story about Fafhrd. Then a short one about the Gray Mouser. The last story is about their meeting and beginning adventures together. And the role that their ladies play in it, as well. Altogether enjoyable and altogether a perfect introduction to this series of legendary fantasy stories." I'm looking forward to trying the second book.(less)
I'm a sucker for history told through various different lenses. My interest in food and cooking makes this a natural book to try.
I'm enjoying this fa...moreI'm a sucker for history told through various different lenses. My interest in food and cooking makes this a natural book to try.
I'm enjoying this fairly well but I'd enjoy it more if the author stopped making cracks at the expense of the historical figures he mentions. I'm sure he thinks of them as light humor, but they come off as silly since they largely judge ancient habits and customs against modern standards. Very tiring and doesn't add to the book. Although other than that I really like it.
UPDATE I'm going to return this to the library for now since I have too many other big nonfiction books partly underway. That way someone else can read this book and I'll pick it up later.(less)
The latest in our audiobook listening and we are both loving this book. William Dufris' narration is simply stellar. It is like listening to an all st...moreThe latest in our audiobook listening and we are both loving this book. William Dufris' narration is simply stellar. It is like listening to an all star cast.
Now we have to watch the movie. This book's classic status is well deserved.
And, again, I must mention that William Dufris' narration makes it. His "fat man" has to be heard to be appreciated.(less)
This is my vacation indulgence ... a book purchase for the road. I am surprised I don't hear this book spoken of more often. It was one of the inspira...moreThis is my vacation indulgence ... a book purchase for the road. I am surprised I don't hear this book spoken of more often. It was one of the inspirations for Arthur C. Clarke's Tales of the White Hart and, although more weird tales-ish than sci-fi fun, it is perfectly grand. I may have a crush on the good Brigadier, by the way.(less)
Got this for a project I'm considering but find that it is fascinating reading just on its own. To see what is known of Ur where Abram lived (before h...moreGot this for a project I'm considering but find that it is fascinating reading just on its own. To see what is known of Ur where Abram lived (before he set out for parts unknown at God's behest and became Abraham) and how everyone lived has really set my imagination alight. Suddenly those Old Testament figures are all quite a bit more human and three-dimensional.
I've skipped ahead for the moment to the thick section during Jesus' lifetime, but definitely will be going back to the rest of the book later. This is amazing material.(less)
I know, I know. This looks like the lamest old book ever. Yet after enjoying the clever, gentle humor of the commentary in Mrs. Appleyard's Kitchen I...moreI know, I know. This looks like the lamest old book ever. Yet after enjoying the clever, gentle humor of the commentary in Mrs. Appleyard's Kitchen I was intrigued enough to find a cheap copy of this book. Truth to tell, I was thinking it might be good to read to my mother-in-law (she suffers from slight dementia and so far Cheaper By the Dozen is our favorite to share together on my visits).
At any rate, as I was looking through this I found myself continually pulled into the story and laughing. Louise Andrews Kent pays us the compliment of not underestimating our intelligence. The imagined life of the Italian family living in the hedges (prompted by a gardener's unpleasant joke) or Mrs. Appleyard's defense of her family to a British aunt allow us to enter a world long gone but to realize that people were still the same then as now.
I have been waiting for at least a month to read this on Forgotten Classics and am excited that Mrs. Appleyard's time to shine has finally come. Pull up your rocking chair on the porch, have a glass of lemonade and rock in the cool breeze as we follow Mrs. Appleyard through her year.
Simply brilliant and sheds light (ha!) on the faith. It might be a good read for those who wonder about the faithful. It explains...moreThank you Internet!.
Simply brilliant and sheds light (ha!) on the faith. It might be a good read for those who wonder about the faithful. It explains how they themselves see it ... in a way.
Since it was mostly written by Pope Benedict XVI and then finished/polished/tweaked by Pope Francis, I have seen speculation as to which parts are from whom. That is sheer silliness and completely missing the point.
If two such seemingly different men both embrace what this encyclical brilliantly conveys, then it means that it tells us universal Catholic (and catholic) truths. It also means that these two very different men merely are showing us different facets of God. So there is really no point in comparing them except as part of a larger whole which is the Body of Christ.(less)
I hadn't heard of this author but was casting around for something different to read. The idea of reading someo...moreThis is a review book from Amazon Vine.
I hadn't heard of this author but was casting around for something different to read. The idea of reading someone's collected essays about life on a farm in upstate New York sounded just the thing, almost like an adult version of the Laura Ingalls Wilder tales I always loved as a child.
It was definitely the right choice as I have been enchanted by the beauty of Verlyn Klinkenborg's prose, the strength of his understanding of nature and animals, and in the vivid images which make me feel as if I am there in the country. Truly, this description of the book is not overstating the case:
Klinkenborg's pieces are admired as much for their poetic writing as for their insight: peonies are "the sheepdog of flowers," dry snow "tumbles off the angled end of the plow-blade as if each crystal were completely independent, almost charged with static electricity," and land is most valuable "for its silence, its freedom from language." Klinkenborg writes with a grace and understanding that makes us more aware of the world around us, whether we live on a farm or in the middle of a city.
It is almost as good as taking a vacation. I find myself deliberately slowing down, savoring the writing, and simply relaxing.
There is a section in the middle of the book called Interludes wherein are included more direct commentary on subjects like genetically engineered crops, big farming, and so forth. I read the first couple but, frankly, I found nothing that I hadn't picked up already in the more lyrical journal style writing from the rest of the book. One may agree with him or not in these more opinionated pieces and I found that about 90% of the time I did agree. However, as I say, I lost nothing in briefly skimming most of them and moving on. The other essays which make up most of the book are more thoughtful and reflective and naturally tied to the land. Therefore, I found these pointed pieces to be overkill. Your milage may vary. The pointed pieces cost the book one star from me.
Despite the Interlude, this book is a rare find for me and one that I will enjoy rereading over the years.(less)
Simply fantastic. I am a H.V. Morton fan anyway. He had such a knack for drawing one into the past while talking about how it turned into his present...moreSimply fantastic. I am a H.V. Morton fan anyway. He had such a knack for drawing one into the past while talking about how it turned into his present time ... and he wrote long enough ago that his "current times" are a look into the past for us.
In this case, we see where St. Paul traveled through fairly modern eyes but while those places were still (I have a feeling) fairly close to what they would have been like long, long ago. At least in most cases. One understands that Rome stands still for no one following St. Paul.
Morton was a very engaging writer and he put me enough into St. Paul's life, especially at the end that I was actually crying over his last letter to Timothy. Actual tears. Now, that is a good travel writer.
Whether one is Christian or not, the look at ancient life and travel is often eye opening and it gives really fascinating glimpses into Turkey as it changed into a more European-style country under Ataturk. This is a simply wonderful book and I cannot recommend it highly enough.(less)
I've had this book for some time and have had a lot of fun randomly dipping into it now and than. Being the sort of family that we are, we have also s...moreI've had this book for some time and have had a lot of fun randomly dipping into it now and than. Being the sort of family that we are, we have also spent a lot of time looking up answers to food-related questions in it.
In search of breakfast reading (and possibly inspired by the fellow who read the OED in a year), I recently began flipping through the alphabet. Reading whatever caught my eye on the next letter's page has been amusing, educational and surprisingly literary given the sometimes wide-ranging references.
I have no time limit but am going to see how long it takes me at this leisurely pace to read the whole thing. I'll update when I've finished a letter of the alphabet (Q or U will surely be one of the first, won't they?).(less)
I recently discovered the existence of this book and given my new project of leisurely reading through The Oxford Companion to Food it seemed a natura...moreI recently discovered the existence of this book and given my new project of leisurely reading through The Oxford Companion to Food it seemed a natural addition to that slow survey of food. Luckily, our library had it and I'll be interested to see if I can push the renewals to the 99 times that they say are available (that is, unless someone else requests it before then).
Flipping open to "A" I was interested to read about Aunt Jemima. Already knowing much of the Aunt Jemima brand history (I am in advertising, after all), it was a good test of how neutrally the author could convey the facts of the matter ... and they did a very good job. I also was happy to see the advertising information included and my flip to "B" landed me on a page where Elsie the Cow smiles out at me from the Borden entry.
What a great find this book is!
UPDATE This is going back on my "to read" list simply because I am working my way through too many books (yes, again). I will be picking it up again, rest assured.(less)
Some of these stories are simply great and others are smaller bits of fluff (well done fluff, but still fluff). That is explained from some of the sou...moreSome of these stories are simply great and others are smaller bits of fluff (well done fluff, but still fluff). That is explained from some of the sources that prompted the author, such as workshop prompts. I believe all of these have been published. I like them all but it is not like reading Ted Chiang where there is the same level of craftsmanship and thought put into each one.
My favorites were Rejiggering the Thingamajig; That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made; and ... can't recall the name ... but the story about the wizard and warrior brothers. I'd love to see more of those in particular since each was overcoming a particularly ironic handicap in their profession and the author handled it in an ingenious way.(less)
I picked this up on Kindle's daily deal sale not long ago. It is just what I needed and I forgot just how easy it is to sink into an Agatha Christie m...moreI picked this up on Kindle's daily deal sale not long ago. It is just what I needed and I forgot just how easy it is to sink into an Agatha Christie mystery.
This has always been one of my favorite Christie books. Mrs. McGillicuddy wakes from a nap on a train to see another train has pulled exactly alongside them for a moment ... when a window shade snaps up she becomes the witness to a man strangling a woman before the other train sweeps the scene from sight. Ignored by the authorities when she reports the crime, she arrives at her friend Jane Marple's house. They begin investigating only to become stymied when no body ever turns up.
I had forgotten that this book has one of my favorite characters, Lucy Eyelesbarrow. She becomes Miss Marple's "legs" and we see much of the story from her perspective.
Highly recommended as light summer reading, especially for those who last read Christie very long ago.
I was really struck at the end of this by Miss Marple's reminiscences of the wicked people she'd seen during her long life in the village. We like to think that there were no people who might kill their children for profit or even some lesser reason (none of which happens in this book, btw), but the human tendency toward greed is always with us which is how Miss Marple sums up a basic reason to do evil. One person says that someone who would do something so evil must be mad and Miss Marple says that is a very modern way to explain things which she never has agreed with. She sums up again with "wickedness." This provided much more food for thought, especially now that we are continually exposed to a steady media stream of "wickedness."
Christie never moralizes and rarely does a character even mention faith, but she does have a solid world view grounded in Christianity and tradition which is telling and refreshing these days.(less)