CassieBash’s eclectic (and sometimes disturbing) reads for 2020

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

CassieBash’s eclectic (and sometimes disturbing) reads for 2020

1CassieBash
Editado: Jan 2, 2020, 4:07pm

I’m back, and ready to try tackling another 75 minimum. My preferences are YA, children’s chapter, and adult fiction in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, historical fiction (and history mysteries of course), animal fiction, horror, and pretty much anything that’s not too heavy on the romance. I’ve never been able to get into romance novels, somehow. I’ll let others read and review those.

Then there’s the nonfiction, which is where the disturbing sometimes comes in. I like medical books about diseases (especially the classics like bubonic plague, smallpox, and other communicable infections), chemical contamination and misuses, mummification and funeral customs, forensics, ecological issues, food processing and contamination, and the like. Currently I’m reading a nonfiction on poisons, for instance. But I also read a lot of books about nature, too, particularly animals and plants. So my nonfiction is another grab bag.

Book 1 is Classic Tales by Famous Authors, volume 10: “Child Stories”. I’ve been slowly reading this 20 volume set; those of you who have followed me for the past few years are familiar with these. For those of you new to my readings, this 20 volume set features short stories and excerpts from longer works in thematic volumes. For instance, this one contains “The Water Babies”, “La Belle Nivernaise”, “How the Count’s Son Died”, “Cosette” (excerpt from “Les Miserables”), and “A Dog of Flanders”. The editors include bios (worth reading) and summaries of the works (not worth reading, especially if you want to avoid spoilers). Eventually this set will go to my fiancé’s store in Muncie, Indiana, “The White Rabbit Used Books”, south of the campus in the little area known locally as The Village.

There, that covers shameless plug 1. :)

2drneutron
Jan 1, 2020, 7:55pm

Welcome back!

3PaulCranswick
Editado: Jan 12, 2020, 10:40pm



Another resolution is to keep up in 2020 with all my friends on LT. Happy New Year!

4DianaNL
Jan 2, 2020, 2:25am

Best wishes for 2020!

5CassieBash
Jan 2, 2020, 9:01am

>3 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul, but I'm going to make a small substitution for "more road trips" (I'm a homebody). I'm going to instead try for more kitty snuggles! :)

>4 DianaNL: Thanks!

6FAMeulstee
Jan 2, 2020, 2:52pm

Happy reading in 2020, Cassie!

7thornton37814
Jan 5, 2020, 9:31pm

Enjoy your 2020 reading!

8ronincats
Jan 8, 2020, 9:42pm



Happy New Year, Cassie!

9CassieBash
Editado: Jan 21, 2020, 4:20pm

>8 ronincats: Thans, Roni!

Got 2 done back on Friday so this post is a double whammy!

Book 2 is The Knocker on Death’s Door by Ellis Peters, who is probably best known for her Brother Cadfael history-mysteries. This one is set in modern times and it seems a little more straightforward than the Cadfael mysteries I’ve read (and enjoyed). The plot centers around an old, wooden carved door with a big iron knocker on it; when it’s moved to what is supposedly it’s rightful place in the old local abbey, the attention it receives turns deadly and dangerous—one man is killed and another badly hurt. Can the police find the murderer before he or she kills again? My only problem with this book was that I easily figured out who had done it (but I’m not telling!) as she practically smacks you in the face with a huge hint. I wonder if this is one of her earliest ones and she wasn’t quite as experienced at hiding clues or if she didn’t mind if you knew before the characters did. Not a bad read mind you—just not a grip your chair because I don’t know who did it kind of read.

Book 3 is the first nonfiction title, and true to my reputation, it’s a humdinger of a disturbing book. (OK, honestly, by my standards it’s pretty tame, but several of you out there will probably think it’s disturbing. The book is Poisons: From Hemlock to Botox and the Killer Bean of Calabar. I’m not sure which you all might find more disturbing—cases of people purposely poisoning others, or how easy it was (and still is) to be accidentally poisoned. Lots of common substances either were poisonous once (lead in paint and gasoline, arsenic in dyes for fabrics and wallpaper) or still are, if you look carefully at what’s in your house—chlorine in bleach, various chemicals in pesticides. Even Botox is a poison people sometimes seek out on purpose; the toxin works on smoothing out wrinkles by paralyzing the muscles. Some even consider the viral and bacterial infections are a form of poisoning since the germs sometimes release chemicals that help them hijack cells to infect. Fascinating but occasionally a bit technical regarding how they chemically interact with our bodies.

I’ve already started the next fiction title, a children’s/tween fantasy, and I think that, since next week is the start of spring semester and I’ll be super busy helping students, I’m going to read fiction at work—possibly The Last of the Mohicans.

10CassieBash
Jan 19, 2020, 8:39pm

Another double whammy weekend—woo hoo!

Book 4: The Ability is a tween fantasy with the premise that every person has, at the age of 12, the prospect of having great mental abilities, including mind control over others and telekinesis. Most people don’t realize what they have and never become aware of their powers before they disappear at the end of their 12th year. The British government has known about this for decades; they trained a small group of children to help with the war effort during WWII. Unfortunately, something goes wrong with one of the missions, resulting in the deaths of 2 of the children. Now, decades later, someone with the Ability is targeting those survivors involved with that fatal mission—and a whole new crew of 12 year olds are chosen to be trained in an attempt to stop the person responsible for driving people insane.

This is, I believe, the author’s debut title, and there are some odd turns of phrase and even a few downright errors, nit-picky though they may be. (A mare is a female horse and therefore is a she, not a he.) Still, I’ve read much worse, and the story itself is action-packed enough to keep kids reading. It is sad in places, however, as the main character’s home life isn’t good, and you feel bad for this basically good kid struggling with his situation and sometimes making poor choices. The ending is open and there may be a sequel.

Book 5: We Love Harry Potter is a literary criticism mainly by kids; a collection of letters and short essays by children. Some are insightful, some touching—all interesting, especially if you’re a parent, teacher, or librarian, as many of the children remark how the Harry Potter series turned them into readers. Like the series itself, this book could be enjoyed by all ages, as both children and adults will like reading about what kids think of the characters, Quidditch, the food, and more in this slim and quick read. Recommend to any HP fan.

Number 6 is a book I picked up two weekends ago at the local library sale, where I was the picture of reservation, having only bought the one. It seems to be a blend of fantasy and western—perhaps a bit of steampunk? The cover suggests YA audience but the older end of YA—high school and up. Anyway, it looks like fun, whatever it is! :)

11CassieBash
Jan 22, 2020, 4:09pm

AAAAHHH! I just found out that my current read is the first of a series, and if I really like it, I'm going to want the others...NOOOO!

lol...not really that bothered by it, it's just funny because, like everyone else here, my "to read" piles are out of control and probably the last thing I need is to be hooked into another series.

12ronincats
Jan 22, 2020, 4:16pm

So, now I am REALLY curious about your current read! What is it?

13CassieBash
Jan 23, 2020, 7:18am

The Six-Gun Tarot. I picked it up at a library sale for 50 cents. Fortunately it's the first book of (so far) 3. Each chapter is named after a different card in the tarot deck, based on what's going on and who's in the chapter--for instance, one of the characters is related to the local coyotes--he's introduced to us in the chapter "The Moon".

14Only2rs
Jan 24, 2020, 4:09am

>9 CassieBash: Hello Cassiebash, I see we seem to share quite a few reading interests - fantasy &SF, historical mysteries and straight historical fiction, although I tend to adult rather than YA. I haven't previously come across any of Ellis Peters' contemporary mysteries, I will maybe check them out. Another author who also wrote contemporary (when she wrote them) mysteries and historical novels, was Georgette Heyer. I don't normally much care for romance either but she is so witty and knowledgeable about the late 18th and early 19th centuries I can forgive her that! If you've not read any of her contemporary stuff give it a go (it's pretty historical now set from the 1930s onwards).

15CassieBash
Jan 24, 2020, 1:27pm

>14 Only2rs: I recognize Georgette Heyer's name, but I'm not sure if I've read anything by her. I did sample some Victoria Holt when in high school (well over 20 years now), because my older sister had them. I was trying to broaden my tastes into romance and thought that if I read something not entirely romance, it might ease me into it. I liked the gothic mystery parts but found the romance dull. Guess that theory about easing into the genre got blown out of the water. But next time I'm in Muncie visiting my fiance (have I mentioned his store, The White Rabbit Used Books yet?), I'll take a look at what he's got by her and maybe pick up a title or two.

And here's a photo someone took of him behind his desk at the store. This shot would have been taken from the very top of the spiral staircase to the 2nd floor, on the upstairs balcony.

16ronincats
Jan 24, 2020, 1:59pm

>13 CassieBash: Oh, I've got that in my TBR pile! Picked it up at the booksale in November, but haven't gotten to it yet.

>15 CassieBash: Start with Frederica or The Grand Sophy or The Unknown Ajax.

17Only2rs
Jan 25, 2020, 10:55am

>15 CassieBash: I don't recall ever reading any Victoria Holt, but it's a name that I have mentally stored along with Catherine Cookson, someone I never really much cared for. Georgette Heyer's novels are always witty. A couple of the dectective-y ones are The Reluctant Widow and The Tollgate. Two of the 'contemporary' ones are Behold, Here's Poison and Envious Casca.

Wow! What a great looking bookshop. Just the sort of place I could poke around in for hours and come out with about twenty books!

18CassieBash
Editado: Jan 29, 2020, 8:43am

>16 ronincats: Enjoying it so far, it has some religious stuff in it that some would probably find offensive, but it's obviously leading up to Lucifer's betrayal of God. I'm wondering how much of the angels' storyline carries through to the other books.

>17 Only2rs: I don't remember much about them, except that in her book The India Fan, I learned that it's considered bad luck to be gifted peacock feathers in many countries, including England (and only I suppose if you're superstitious). I think I read Curse of the Kings, which is about an archaeological dig site in Egypt, because I've long been fascinated by ancient Egpyt and I tried to read anything and everything, fiction and nonfiction, about that. I'm sure there were a few others I read, too, because my sister had a dozen or more and I read most of them, but none of the others stand out. I'll look for the ones you and ronin suggested and give her a try.

I've come away with more, so if you manage to get out with 20, you're doing well, lol!

19CassieBash
Jan 30, 2020, 10:11am

OK, Book 6 is actually an audio book, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, an historical fiction about the Pack Horse Library Program that FDR put in place during the Great Depression in order to help educate poor and isolated mountain communities. It's also a book with heavy themes of racism; aside from the black woman, Queenie, the main character and narrator, Cussy Mary, who's an entirely different color--blue. Cussy's family, though strictly Caucasian, suffers from a condition known as methemoglobinemia, which is a condition in which the iron in the blood is altered by methemoglobin to be less effectively carried through the bloodstream, reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood, causing the blood to look chocolatey in color and the skin to look blue. When it's hereditary, as in Cussy's case, as in Cussy's case, it's not a health concern in and of itself, but it does lead to her further isolation from society. She's considered every bit as "colored" as Queenie, with whom she's great friends, and it's hinted that she may be even lower than Queenie, as many see her as not just beneath them, but something unnatural and perhaps even unholy. However, the patrons on her book route almost all seem to look forward to seeing her, and provide her with just enough positive social contact to keep her spirits up, as she (and through her, we) get to know them. The book has happy moments and sad, tense and fearful ones, events that cause anxiety in both Cussy and the readers (or listeners, as in my case). In short, it's a book about life.

There are some unpleasant things some might not want to read, though the book is never what I would call extremely graphic in its descriptions. They may be disturbing, however--rape, abortion, suicide to name just a few. However, it's a unique story about a little-known health condition and a wonderful government program from the Great Depression era and is worth the read. What romance there is in the book (and it's relatively minimal) works to enhance character development and serves as a comparison/contract to the hatred and bigotry of many of the townsfolk. Strongly recommend to historical fiction readers.

20CassieBash
Fev 7, 2020, 8:42am

Book 7 is a cryptozoology book called Real Wolfmen: True Encounters in Modern America. Whether you believe or not--I'm not exactly a believer but I do keep an open mind, having had some unexplained things (though more ghostly than cryptid)--the book is interesting from a folkloric approach. Author Linda S. Godfrey, who also wrote on this topic in The Beast of Bray Road (which I haven't read), has collected a large number of supposed werewolf or man-wolf sightings and has done some correlation between them, from lumping similar descriptions and noting some unusual deviations from the norm, like tufted ears, as well as their locations in relation to each other--particularly those in Wisconsin which are close to Bray Road. She also notes that virtually all are found near bodies of water, and many sightings happen close to churches, graveyards, Native American burial mounds and other native spiritual sites, and crossroads--all of which have folkloric import. And that's where the theories--everything from actual humans shapeshifting to interdimensional beings--begin. Even if you're a doubter, there may be some theories in here that you might at least find amusing--and like all cryptids, there are so many sightings by enough reliable witnesses, including law officers and military personnel--that clearly something was there, regardless of whether it was a man-wolf hybrid. I would love to see the physical book--I got this from OverDrive as a quick audiobook before my hold on The Hero of Ages was ready--to see if there are maps included that show some of these correlations. The author clearly believes, or at least wants to believe (not to get too X-files), so it's obviously not entirely unbiased, but at least she does acknowledge that not all sightings are authentic, as she's well aware of hoaxers and even downright liars. But if you're fond of the folklore of unknown creatures, as I am, it's worth at least a casual read.

Some time ago, I created a mask for the renaissance festival I participated in as a volunteer children's entertainer--a storyteller, specifically. I was a faerie character and therefore most of the nobles couldn't see me, unless I wore a mask. Here are pictures of my "human" mask, which I decorated in old images that seemed to tell stories of some sort. I really need to figure out where and how to display this, as I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Thought I'd share it, as I haven't got much in the way of visual interest on this thread right now.





The forehead:





Mouth and chin:



Side views:



21CassieBash
Fev 17, 2020, 10:22pm

>14 Only2rs: & >16 ronincats: Derek didn’t have any of Georgette Heyers in right now but he’s going to keep an eye out for her. I did walk away with a Brandon Sanderson and a Douglas Adams—yes, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Adams—animal nonfiction though.

Those of you who followed my thread last year know about my mother’s cancer. She continues to fight this; this weekend, she went to the hospital with bilateral pneumonia. This year will probably be another one where I just try to meet the minimum 75 as best I can. I did a little reading while at the hospital today but not much. And I’m a little behind with posting; I’m posting books 8 and 9 quickly now.

Book 8 is The Six-Gun Tarot, a mix of fantasy, steampunk, western adventure, and a touch of supernatural horror/thriller, though I personally didn’t find it any more scary than a later Harry Potter book. Maybe I should try to coin a phrase for books with elements of the horror genre but that aren’t that scary (horror lite?). But there is swearing, sexual situations including homosexuality, and religious unorthodoxy, so if you’re easily offended by any of these, you should probably steer clear. (The sexual aspects aren’t detailed, which is good as true sex scenes tend to be boring in my opinion, slowing down the flow of the plot.) It is, ultimately, a good v. evil scenario. I did enjoy it and my family wants to read it—plus there are 2 other books from this set out there, so for the moment I’m keeping it.

Book 9 was Incident at Hawk’s Hill, which is supposedly based on a true incident. Think of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Books but with a badger raising the child (and only for a couple of months) instead of wolves on the Canadian frontier around a young Winnipeg and you have the general idea. Survival story that really shows how even a wild animal can learn to trust and even be affectionate towards a human under the right circumstances. Shows badgers in a positive light which, considering many still see them as pests, is a refreshing change, as they are important creatures in their native ecosystem. Highly recommend for those who enjoy nature reads and survival fiction.

22ronincats
Fev 18, 2020, 12:14am

>21 CassieBash: I've got The Six-Gun Tarot in my tbr pile, so glad you liked it. Hope your mother is doing better; such a worry!

23CassieBash
Fev 18, 2020, 7:39am

>22 ronincats: We should find out what the oncologist says about the cancer in her lung today.

24CassieBash
Fev 20, 2020, 2:17pm

Thought I'd share this article with all of you, as we probably are all guilty of the art of "tsundoku"....

Enjoy! :D

25CassieBash
Fev 23, 2020, 3:48pm

Book 10, audio of The Hero of Ages, the final book of this trilogy, concludes the struggle to save the world after the events of the first two books. Without giving too much away, I’ll forego plot points and just say that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like where the author was going with the ending but in the end—the very end—he pulls off a satisfactory ending. In fact, I appreciated several of the resolutions but am wondering what happened to some of the cbeings like the Mistwraiths. Still, I’ve now listened to several of the author’s works and must say that the reads are enjoyable (though this was was quite gory) for the great characters and detailed descriptions of the world that help make it more believable. Highly recommended for fantasy and steampunk lovers.

26CassieBash
Fev 24, 2020, 8:23pm

Book 11: The Gardener by S. A. Bodeen isn’t set so far into the future—but that’s partly what makes it so thought-provoking (and a little scary in a Frankenstein way). Mason can’t seem to help playing the hero, but when a girl living in a nursing home run by the large corporation that employs (and owns) most of the town wakes up unexpectedly from her coma and he helps her escape, Mason uncovers something horrible—and it ties in to his past.

The book isn’t scary for gore or even sudden starts, but it’s unnerving in the social aspects—in order to solve a massive, worldwide problem such as food insecurity and overpopulation, do you play God and mess around with the nature of things? Do you go a step further than that? Tackling concepts of sustainability and the ethics of human experimentation and corporate policies, this YA novel packs a lot of discussion potential into a rather small book with little for parents to object to regarding language and sex. Recommend to teen and adult readers of science fiction who also like a thoughtful story with societal impact.

27CassieBash
Mar 2, 2020, 11:03am

Double posting. Worked hard to catch up to where I should be on average for this time of year. Having multiple books going at the same time makes it a little difficult to calculate how much I've actually read, but knowing that I've gotten 13 done so far, which is about half a book over the average needed. So without further ado....

Book 12: Even More Short and Shivery is the second (I think) collection of short horror stories and folklore compiled by Robert D. San Souci, who has worked with folklore before, including Fa Mulan and The Six Swans. Because these are written slanted towards children, the horror is not as horrible as one might think, especially if you're an adult fan of the genre. But the folklore is great for me because these are stories that a lot of children who like scary stories love, and some of the stories are more obscure than others. The illustrations aren't always that scary--one of the more gruesome tales, "Old Raw Head", a re-telling of a story I usually call "Raw Head, Bloody Bones" that involves a monster made of giant pig bones and parts from other animals--looks rather silly to me, but other illustrations might upset some younger readers. If you're into the horror genre, this probably won't be scary enough for you, but if, like me, you enjoy the folklore elements, it's a good selection of worldwide tales.

Book 13: Butterfingers by J. M. Trewellard fit surprisingly well as a follow-up option for the San Souci read, as it is basically an original folk tale that utilizes many of the traditional elements of folk tales: poor servant boy who can't do anything right who must try to win the princess's hand by defeating a monster, aided by animal friends. It's beautifully illustrated with silhouette pictures by Ian Beck. I would recommend this not just to children starting to read chapter books (the print is larger than normal and the words are generally simple) but also as a read-aloud--with one word of caution. There is no sex or cursing, but there is some death involved, and one picture is that of a human skeleton in armor, the remains of an ill-fated knight. Parents with sensitive children might want to simply skip over showing that particular page to their child as they read; as long as the child can cope with the mention of death, they should be OK. As always, I recommend parents preview the book before reading it aloud. I enjoyed the simple story and the simple yet somehow elegant illustrations; they went well together. But, it's not exactly so great that I'll read it over and over, so it's going to Derek's.

And speaking of, here are some shots I took of his store while I visited him over Valentine's Day weekend. I took these at closing so apologies for the darkness of the photos.

Ah, the mystery alcove:


The horror section and the entrance to the mystery alcove:

You can see my younger sister's slug kitty coloring book sitting on the display case in the front. He's her only official retail outlet.

The spiral staircase, from the top looking down. Movies are against the outer wall, while YA fiction is directly under the stairs, with role-playing game manuals and graphic novels flanking them on the left.


2nd floor: nonfiction, classics, general fiction:

28CassieBash
Editado: Mar 5, 2020, 7:22am

Book 14: Midnight Magic by Avi is a mystery and intrigue story above all else. Though the kingdom is imaginary, it has an Italian Renaissance feel to it, so while you can't exactly classify it as historical, it does have a history mystery feel to it. Mangus, a former magician, and his servant boy must face political intrigue in a hostile castle as they're called upon to solve the mystery of a ghost that appears to the soon-to-be-wed princess. Despite the ghostly elements, this book is NOT horror, so if horror stories leave you cold, never fear. This chapter book is free from swearing, sex, and even romance, so it's very kid-friendly though there are times when our servant boy, Fabrizio, is in mortal danger so there are intense moments. Like everything else I've read by Avi, the story is well-crafted and the characters engaging, and it's definitely worth a read.

Next week, I may be summoned for jury duty selection, so I plan to start The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. This whopping 400+ Pulitzer Prize book should last for days, especially if I take the time to read the notes. I figure since mom is fighting lung cancer, it's good to know the enemy. Besides, I haven't read one of those disturbing medical books yet this year....

29CassieBash
Mar 16, 2020, 8:22pm

Book 15: Harry Potter: A Journey through the History of Magic is unusual—not in that this nonfiction read is about the folklore and mythology behind the Harry Potter series; that’s been done. What makes this unique is that the British Library had an exhibition on this very topic, and this book is sort of a visual guide to the exhibition but written in a less dry way than your typical museum guide. The text is sometimes minimal compared to the illustrations, which range from photos of actual artifacts such as pages from bestiaries to copies of early drafts from the series written in J. K. Rowling’s own handwriting. But the showcasing of the artifacts is the most interesting part anyway, as many of these items won’t be seen by most of us outside of this book. Even if it’s not an in depth look at the myth and folklore, it’s definitely worth at least one read by all HP fans.

30figsfromthistle
Mar 16, 2020, 8:34pm

>27 CassieBash: Oh man! LOVING all the pictures of books on the shelves and floors. This would be the perfect bookstore for me. A wonderful finding adventure. Perfect place to spend a rainy day exploring :)

31CassieBash
Mar 16, 2020, 9:48pm

>30 figsfromthistle: Very much so! When I go for a weekend visit, I always bring back books. So. Many. Books.... At this point his shop is still open. Our governor has closed places where 50+ people congregate and has closed restaurants’ in-dining (carry out, drive through, and delivery still available) but he doesn’t usually have that many at once, so he’s staying open. This is a rough time for small businesses. Most of us higher education institutions are moving to all online delivery instead of face to face classes, K-12 are shut down, presumably doing e-learning days. Right now I’m still running the library as we don’t expect high volumes of traffic but we do have some students who will need computer and internet access. If I do have to shut down, I fortunately have plenty to read!

32CassieBash
Editado: Mar 28, 2020, 12:56pm

Book 16: Hex is an audiobook; this horror read follows the ghost of a witch who haunts the entire town of Black Spring, her eyes and mouth still sewn shut from over a century ago. Everyone has strict rules they’re expected to follow regarding the witch; everyone fears what will happen if her mouth or, worse, her eyes are ever opened. But what’s really worse—the witch, or the dark undercurrents of the town’s populace? The author really captures what it might be like for an old, established town living under the shadow of a supernatural entity; the blend of the superstitious, archaic acts and laws of a town that more or less cuts itself off from the rest of the world juxtaposed with modern times is well done. It speaks as much to the horrors people inflict on each other as those that a supernatural entity can. However, like most adult horror, there’s swearing, sexual references, and of course death. And speaking of....

Book 17 is The Last of the Mohicans, which also has a lot of death, partly because of the frontier time period. Lots of Native American tribes fighting colonists (both French and English) and each other. But it’s also part romance in that old-fashioned, innocent love way. Not a bad read, better than some of the books considered classics written around the same time. A good read if you like frontier fiction.

33CassieBash
Mar 28, 2020, 12:54pm

Book 18: A Tale Dark and Grimm is an older chapter reader based on several Grimm’s fairy tales—the not-so-sanitized versions, too. Adam Gidwitz weaves them together using Hansel and Gretel as the protagonists, even though the story weaves several unconnected stories together. The author breaks into the narrative occasionally, usually to warn readers of upcoming violence. Probably not suitable for the very young but those older elementary and tween readers looking for dark stories will love this. Adult readers who enjoy the original folk tales will, too.

34PaulCranswick
Abr 3, 2020, 9:27am

Have a lovely, peaceful, safe and healthy weekend, Cassie.

35CassieBash
Abr 7, 2020, 8:00pm

>34 PaulCranswick: Thanks, so far, so good. Hoping you are safe and healthy, too.

Book 19: Everwild by Neal Schusterman is the sequel to Everlost, which I must have reviewed last year, because I don’t see the review in this. Book 2 continues the struggle between those following Mary Hightower, who believes that Everlost—a world where the young can get waylaid when they die, and Nick, who helps children move into the light. I’m currently reading the last book in the trilogy, Everfound. This is more fantasy than horror, for the ghosts of the children are just people, so don’t let the supernatural aspects fool you into thinking this is a ghost story. It’s a typical good v. evil scenario. Be forewarned—while the first book can be a stand-alone, and while this one isn’t exactly a cliffhanger, if you get hooked, you’ll want to get started on the third right away. Fortunately when I last visited Derek, he had the other 2 in stock....

Book 20: The Alloy of Law takes place a few centuries after the end of Brandon Sanderson’s first trilogy, setting up a new era of allomancy. Waxillium is a noble lord who had gone into the “Roughs”—a sort of Wild West no-man’s land and became a lawman. Now he has to come back as lord of his House, but when a major crime crosses his path, he and his deputy are on the trail of the villains. Once more, Sanderson has created a wonderful world and memorable characters, even tying the current world to the old. This was the audio version and the same reader as the other trilogy—and once again, he nails the reading. Highly recommend for steam punk readers, especially if they like western steampunk.

I haven’t been in the mood recently to read nonfiction; the cancer book is on hold until further notice. It’s not that it’s not good—it’s an excellent read for the topic—but I want escapism right now. My cat loves that I’m working from home. Me—not so much. At least I have a garden and a big yard to get some fresh air and exercise.

36PaulCranswick
Abr 12, 2020, 4:01am



I wanted my message this year to be fairly universal in a time we all should be pulling together, whatever our beliefs. Happy Celebration, Happy Sunday, Cassie.

37CassieBash
Abr 12, 2020, 5:00pm

>38 Thanks, and a great one to you as well. This is a big weekend for us as it’s Easter, mom’s birthday, and the approximate 1 year anniversary of her cancer survival.

Book 21 is Everfound, the last of Neal Shusterman’s Skinjacker series, and the climactic good v. evil battle between Mary Hightower and her followers and the forces of Nick. Satisfying conclusion that may leave you with a tear or two, but in a good way. Find out if Mary sees the light (literally and figuratively). I highly recommend this YA series to fantasy lovers, as Shusterman creates a very believable ghost world co-existing with ours, with its own rules of physics, and very believable characters. But be forewarned that he does sometimes breaks the fourth wall and addresses his readers occasionally, so if that’s a problem, it might hinder your reading enjoyment.

Book 22 has a lot of good things about it, including the full color illustrations. My folklore reads continue with Best-Loved Celtic Fairy Tales and it includes several I’ve come across elsewhere, including “Duffy and the Devil”, “The Black Bull of Norroway” (though simplified compared to the version I read elsewhere), but also includes a few more obscure ones, such as the short, “Give Me a Crab, John” and “The Soul Cages”. Again, great for folklore enthusiasts and storytellers looking for classic stories to re-work for their own retelling.

Everyone have a great weekend!

38ronincats
Abr 18, 2020, 9:14pm

Keep up the reading, Cassie. Is the library still running?

39CassieBash
Abr 25, 2020, 10:04pm

>38 ronincats: Virtually it is. I’m working mainly from home, which is quite the challenge when you recall that my Internet is the 4G network and my computer refuses to accept that as a hotspot. Still, I’m getting my job done, and I can access all necessary programs including the library system through the phone.

I’ve fallen behind in LT; between working from home, my mom’s health (we’re COVID free for the moment as we’re pretty good at this isolation stuff), and this big crafting project I’m doing for my sister, I haven’t taken much time recently to check all your wonderful posts and reading suggestions. But I have been doing some reading of my own:

Book 23: Weedflower was a change of pace as it was a historical fiction rather than the fantasy books I’ve been reading—though it’s still a book for younger readers ( tweens and early teens). Sumiko isn’t a Japanese American girl who’s world is turned upside down by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Her uncle and grandfather are taken to a holding camp for possible traitors while she and the rest of her family are sent to a less guarded camp on Indian reservation ground. A very interesting read that draws parallels between the relocation of Native Americans and Japanese Americans, with a note at the end of the book on how each ethnic group served their country in WWII. Recommended for history lovers but it does have downer moments, especially the note at the end.

Book 24: Greystone Bay is a horror anthology edited by Charles L. Grant, known for his fantasy and horror works. All the stories take place in the titular town; some have supernatural elements, some don’t. I enjoyed the stories but while a few had an eeries quality, not a single one gave me chills. Unless you have to have that heart-pumping feeling from your horror reads (if, of course, you read horror), I’d give it a try, as the stories were still enjoyable nevertheless.

I’m almost done with a YA steampunk fantasy espionage story; the cancer book is slow reading right now as I’ve been focusing on escapism reads. Reading a book on cancer right now just seems to be like reading about a different pandemic.

40CassieBash
Abr 27, 2020, 10:04pm

Two more; hooray for audiobooks!

Book 24: Etiquette & Espionage is another YA title, this edition an audiobook, about a very different sort of finishing school. Rather than just turning out fashionable young ladies, the finishing school our heroine Zephronia (not sure of the spelling) finds herself banished to is just up her adventurous alley, as the school is secretly training their charges with how to be intelligence operators, spies, and the like. (Their partner school trains young men to be evil geniuses.). Of course, it’s not all fun and games, as Zephronia becomes ensnared in a plot involving flywaymen (airborn highwaymen), a mysterious prototype, and the ire of some of her new classmates. But of course she still makes friends, including the boy Soap, the love interest for her in the book (although neither would admit it). No bad language, no sex scenes (the romance is very sweet and innocent), so this is at worst a PG 13. The blend of steampunk and gothic supernatural mystery (for the werewolves and vampires) makes this a fun fantasy read for those who like fun fluff. It somewhat reminded me of a more action based Murder, Magic, and What We Wore, though for a younger set.

Book 25: Legends & Lore: Year of the Dragon is one of those artsy books that are based in folklore or historical and cultural facts but is presented as if it was a list manuscript by an expert in the field or a world traveler or such. Dragonology, Egyptology, Monsterology—those kinds, only without the “artifacts”. Instead it focuses on the traditional illustrations, but the text explains the lore of the dragon in China as if some late 18th century visitor to the country did a study on the dragons of China. Drawing on the richness of China’s dragon lore, the author shares the folklore with simple story retellings and supposedly true encounters, all with wonderful stylized illustrations. This one is, for now, staying on my shelves, not only because I love dragons, but also for the illustrations.

41CassieBash
Maio 8, 2020, 9:03pm

Book 27: The Treasures of Weatherby is a realistic fiction for younger readers—upper elementary grades. While most of the other works I’ve read by Zilpha Keatley Snyder—whose first name I just love for its uniqueness—are darker, like the psychological book The Witches of Worm and the sometimes intense read The Egypt Game, this one is lighter in many ways, as it focuses on the character development of Harleigh Weatherby the Fourth, whose health problems and lack of parental involvement in his life seem to have given him a need to prove himself better than anyone else. Until he meets a mysterious girl who claims to have seen one of his distant relatives searching for treasure. Can they stop the man before he steals the treasure that rightfully elongated to Harleigh?

Now I know I said this book is lighter than others by this author that I’ve read, and it is, BUT there are allusions to the possibility that the manor house is haunted. By what, it’s difficult to say as Harleigh himself doesn’t experience much of anything himself. But there can be an eerie atmosphere sometimes in this book, so easily suggestive children might not be able to sleep well after reading some parts. For those younger readers who like a small chill (this is by no means what I would call horror), this book is great, especially if they also appreciate mystery.

Right now, I’m having a Brandon Sanderson fest, as I’m reading a print copy of one of his books and I just downloaded another of his in audio format.

I also just caught my miscount, which turns out to be in my favor! I really have to stop repeating numbers! :D

42CassieBash
Editado: Maio 13, 2020, 7:55am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

43CassieBash
Maio 13, 2020, 7:53am

Book 28: The Rithmatist is Brandon Sanderson for younger readers. Shorter than his “Mistborn” and related series, this one focuses on a teenage boy and girl as the protagonists. Joel is the son of a chalk maker—an important job in a world where some people, Rithmatists, can instill power into chalk drawings—and Melody resents her position as a Rithmatist. But someone or some thing has brought wild “chalklings”, drawings that have a semblance of life and that can attack and kill, into the area and is capturing or killing young Rithmatists in training, and Joel and Melody become entangled in the plot.

A typical good v. evil steampunk fantasy as far as plot goes, but like everything Sanderson does, it’s the world he creates that really fascinates and makes the book stand out. The characterization is good, too—don’t get me wrong—but I’ve read books by authors where the characters can be awesomely done but the world in which the story takes place isn’t fleshed out. Sanderson seems to do well at both. Highly recommend that parents who love Sanderson’s work and want to share with their young tweens and teens but don’t feel their children are ready for the more mature titles give this one a try. It says it’s to be continued at the end (I’ll have to look for the sequels) but it works well as a stand alone. This one is staying here so no trip (back) to Muncie for this one. I expected nothing less.

44CassieBash
Maio 15, 2020, 5:33pm

We have a faerie literary society meeting in one of our gardens....





45drneutron
Maio 15, 2020, 7:06pm

Well, that’s just cool!

46PaulCranswick
Maio 24, 2020, 7:04am

Cassie, wishing you a restful long weekend.

47CassieBash
Maio 25, 2020, 8:11pm

>46 PaulCranswick:. Thanks! Hope you had a great weekend too!

Book 29: Shadows of Self is the next in line in my latest Brandon Sanderson trilogy. Wax is still trying to track down the over-arcing villain (book 1 reveals that person but no spoilers here!), while trying to track down a seemingly unrelated murderer zealot. Sanderson’s book lives up to his usual standards, with humor and adventure galore, all within a rich, detailed world.

Book 30: Mairelon the Magician is a fantasy about a young, 17 year old street girl desperately trying to pass off as a boy for as long as she can to avoid prostitution (though it’s never put that directly). She becomes entangled in the exploits of a wizard on the run for a crime he didn’t do. I’m having a hard time deciding how to classify this regarding the audience; the character is a young adult but the language used—lots of slang, particularly archaic British slang, since this takes place in a fanciful England pre-Industrial Revolution. So if a YA reader is going to tackle this, I suggest they be on the older side of YA, but adults who like fantasy and mystery reads should like this as well, with an ending reminiscent of a parlor mystery. Good for a quick fluff read; great characterization and decent plot.

48CassieBash
Maio 29, 2020, 11:05am

Book 31: The Bands of Mourning is the third book of this set of Brandon Sanderson's second group of books taking place in the Mistborn world. I can't really call it a trilogy because there is a fourth book on the way, The Lost Metal. And there's technically a novella called Mistborn Secret History, which isn't in the library listing nor owned by me, so nuts. My Brandon Sanderson fest will have to be put on hold for a little. And this one did leave me wanting more; though I enjoyed the first trilogy, I actually think I like more of the characters in this one. For one thing, I think they have a wider range of personality. In the first trilogy, everyone's personality, except for Breeze, was so intense and focused, and everyone was so serious. Here, you have a bit more humor not just in the dialog but in the quirky behaviors of so many of the characters. Not that there aren't dark scenes; there's quite a bit of violence that follows in the wake of an action/adventure fantasy, but it seems like Sanderson has done a better job of balancing the dark with some light.

I'll have to find another audiobook until the next one in the other series that I started, the one by Gail Carriger, and pick up with Curtsies & Conspiracies when it's available in audio.

49CassieBash
Maio 29, 2020, 7:58pm

Book 32: The Mostly True Story of Jack is an upper elementary/middle school read, a fantasy suspense with an eerie feeling to it in a lot of places—maybe borderline horror “lite”, if that makes sense. No ghosts but some strange, sometimes disturbing events that focus around places called “eruptions” in the book—not volcanoes, as the main hero, Jack, thinks, but magic eruptions. Jack has always been hard to see and remember even by his own family; this story explains why. The book Has the age-old theme of power-hungry villain prepared to do anything to keep (if not increase) his power while also emphasizing the importance of friendship, family, and love. If your young reader isn’t easily creeped out, this is a great book for either gender (there’s a strong female character or two in here as well), with nothing inappropriate for the age group regarding language or sex. I liked it a lot but I’m on the fence about keeping it with space such a premium.

50CassieBash
Jun 6, 2020, 6:08pm

Book 33: Ritual Murder by S. T. Haymon is British detective fiction for adults. I felt I was getting into a bit of a rut reading juvenile and YA fantasy so I thought I’d go for something a bit more mature. Guess I was spot on with the “mature” part, as this book has sexual themes and innuendo (but no sex scenes per se), with the murder including a boy’s sexual mutilation that mimics the murder of a boy in 1144. I wanted to be excited about this book and I did finish it, but I was apathetic about the characters, including the main detective, Ben Jurnet. He didn’t seem to have that much of a personality that would make him a memorable character. His constant pining for his wife, who was taking some time to visit her mother (I couldn’t decide if there was supposed to be the hint of more at play), I found more annoying than anything else, as it seemed like something that would fall under teen angst. It was OK but I’m not recommending it as a must read. It’s going to Derek’s ship the next time I’m going.

51CassieBash
Jun 8, 2020, 9:23am

Book 34: J. A. White's The Thickety: A Path Begins is the first of another youthful fantasy adventure series; there are apparently 4, but of the set, my library only has access to the first so far. I've requested they purchase the 2nd in audio so I can hopefully continue the series in the not-too-distant future, especially as this one ended in a slight cliffhanger way. It could have been worse, but it definitely leaves you wanting more.

The story focuses on Kara, who when she was but 5 years old witnesses the murder of her mother, accused of the worst crime their village has on the books: witchcraft. Kara grows up uncertain of her mother's abilities--was she a witch or not?--and her mother's alliance--good or bad? Was there such a thing as a good witch? The teaching her village follows, known as The Path, says not. All magic is evil and attracts the attention of the demon that lived in the magical forest known as The Thickety, which daily creeps towards the village, and only a group of outcasts known as The Clearers work to keep it at bay. But when Kara, now a girl in her teens feared and despised by her fellow townsfolk for being suspected of witchcraft, is drawn into The Thickety by a strange bird, only to discover a grimoire she believes was her mother's. Her experiments with magic draw the attention of another girl of the village, Grace--as well as the demon of the Thickety, Sordyr, who is determined to have Kara himself. Can she protect herself and her sickly brother and father from both the hatred of her fellow villagers as well as the demon?

I want more, and unfortunately inter-library loan is not currently an option! It's a dark fantasy, so be prepared for that going into this. Because of the dark aspects, I would say this is for tweens up, though the style of writing suggests upper elementary wouldn't be out of line as a potential audience. I would say parents know their children best; if you have a young Tim Burton or E. A. Poe who thrives on horror and dark fantasy, they'll be fine. More timid readers, and those looking for a heavy romance with their darkness, need to look elsewhere. The romance between Kara and her Clearer friend is subtle, understated, and gentle; a friendship just beginning to bud into something deeper. There is bullying, violence and death; however, I highly recommend to readers who can handle these themes, as there are also good themes of friendship and family woven in as well.

52CassieBash
Jun 13, 2020, 8:48pm

Book 36: A Hint of Witchcraft is surprisingly a more realistic historical fiction than fantasy. Character-driven rather than plot-driven, this book is a slice of life in a small English village. The “witchcraft” isn’t literal but is based on the superstition and artful conniving of one of the characters (nameless here so as not to spoil), which brings about disasters and sorrows—or does it? Like in real life, one event can have far-reaching consequences.

No sex, no swearing, but little in the way of true action; mostly it is how characters interact and react to each other and the events that unfold around them. Though death is present, it happens “off stage”, and so have a softened, melancholic feel rather than a shock. In fact, the whole story is gentle. Romance, as a part of life, is of course present too but it doesn’t overpower the rest of the plot, which is simply, as I said, grounded in daily life events.

It’s actually a very good read for this type of book but this type of book isn’t one I’m likely to read multiple times; those tend more towards fantasy and science fiction, so I’ll be either sending this on or putting it in our library at work.

53PaulCranswick
Jun 13, 2020, 9:15pm

>52 CassieBash: Nice to see that you contribute to a library at work, Cassie. What an excellent idea!

54CassieBash
Jun 14, 2020, 11:14pm

>53 PaulCranswick: I am director of a small college library. Not much of a budget so if I think there may be an interest I sometimes add a book I’ve finished but don’t want to keep, particularly fiction since I tend to use my budget for curriculum support materials rather than recreational reading. I may do that with “Greystone Bay”, too, as our horror section is pretty thin.

55CassieBash
Jun 22, 2020, 10:45pm

Book 37, Dead Until Dark, proves to me once more that I don’t care how many vampires, werewolves, or other supernatural characters you cram in a book, if it’s too heavy on romance (especially romance with sex scenes, as is the case with this one), it’s just not my cup of tea. It started out with promise as it is also part mystery (which is a genre I do love), but the deeper into the book you go, the heavier the relationship aspects until the mystery started to take a back seat to the romance plot. Plus, apologies to the fans of this series but I found Sookie to be a little teenage in her behavior towards the guys; too much angst I guess. If you like books with the supernatural romance this is probably more for you than me—unless sex talk isn’t your thing, either. Small wonder HBO snapped up this series. My copy did help out the local animal shelter as it came from a store called Retail to the Rescue, which donates its sales to the shelter; it will be going to Derek’s store as soon as I’m able to go.

Under 50 pages in the cancer book to go (if I skip the last 100 pages of source references, the glossary, the index, and the acknowledgment). Gotta love these massive, well-researched, scholarly tones.... ;)

56CassieBash
Jun 25, 2020, 10:57pm

Book 38: well, since I do promise disturbing in my thread title, I’d better deliver. I have made an effort to finish the cancer book (mostly so I can shelve it so it’s not lying about anymore) and have finished it tonight. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer is written by an oncologist, Siddhartha Mukherjee. This is one scholarly tome, complete with almost 100 pages of notes, glossary, and index, it is, if nothing else, well researched. But don’t let the size of the book (or its notes section) scare you off. It’s less technical than you might think, and where Mukherjee is forced to go into the complicated scientific descriptions of genes and proteins and drugs, he does a remarkable job of taking jargon and explaining it in layman’s terms. And much of the book is historical, social, and political; cancer has always been with us, but it hasn’t been until relatively recent times that we have begun to truly start understanding it.

A warning to those interested; the author uses some real-life cases to help tell the story, and they aren’t all happy endings. While he does say how much we’ve gained he also admits that we have a long way to go to solve cancer—and because of the nature of the beast (our own cells And genes turned against us), he doubts we will ever truly get rid of it like we have (supposedly) gotten rid of smallpox. There were parts of this book that made me tear up if not actually cry; while this is in part because it hits home with my mom’s health right now, but not entirely. But it’s good to know the enemy and I now know how some of the weapons we use in the war, including the targeted therapy they want to start her on next week, works. Since 1 in 4 of us are going to develop some form of cancer in our lifetime, I figured it’s best to be informed. I’ll be keeping my copy.

57PaulCranswick
Jun 27, 2020, 10:31pm

>56 CassieBash: I have that one on the shelves Cassie and will get to it soon.

58CassieBash
Jun 28, 2020, 7:51pm

Triple whammy!!! Wooooo!!!

OK, that’s only in part due to the small nature of the third, but it was still more text than illustration and is most certainly not a picture book. But first....

Book 39, What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self, is a feel-good, quick advice book for women. Published by Hallmark, it’s a collection of letters by famous women written as if they could somehow send the letter back in time to their younger selves. With people from such diverse occupations and backgrounds, the book includes brief biographies giving the context of the letters’ contents as well as the letters themselves. Included are Ann Curry, Maya Angelou, Vanna White, Beverly Sills, Joyce Roche, Heather Mills McCartney, and more. Most probably won’t resonate with younger generations because of the generation, which is potentially sad since there are some pieces of advice general enough for anyone (female or male at times) to take to heart. But...not the kind of book I would refer back to again and again so it will be heading to Derek.

Book 40 is an audiobook version of Curtsies and Conspiracies, the second book by Gail Carriger from >40 CassieBash:. The plot thickens as Zephronia and her friends try to find out more about the mysterious “prototype” device that has been worked into some equally mysterious plan that has somehow brought together the ladies’ espionage school, Madam Geraldine’s, and the rival boys’ school, Bunsen’s. Add to this the plot to kidnap Zephronia’s best friend, Dimity, and her brother, and there’s plenty of intrigue for all. While still full of wit and humor (the secret society of the pickle men have a rank called—what else?—gherkin), this one is a little more intense, much in the way that the Harry Potter books got darker. Still an excellent read or listen and of course I will have to see if the next is also available through the local library.

Book 41 I borrowed from the sales section of the college library. It is a reprint of Paul Revere’s Own Story of That Famous Ride, illustrates by Louis D. Gowing. This is actually a printed and bound copy of an original letter from Paul Revere himself to a Dr. Belknap; a Boston publishing company put the letter in typeface and got an illustrator and bound the whole thing into a 16 page book, 4 of which are illustrations. Interesting from a historical perspective and pretty cool as a copy of a primary source, so I hope that it eventually gets sold to a good home.

I put in an electronic request for the audiobook copy of the second “Thickety” book from >51 CassieBash: and they already got a copy. So it got downloaded into OverDrive and it shouldn’t take me long to get through that. I’ve started a new fiction—historical—and a new nonfiction—ecological. I think I’ll take at least a couple of days off from disturbing!

59PaulCranswick
Jul 4, 2020, 11:34pm

In this difficult year with an unprecedented pandemic and where the ills of the past intrude sadly upon the present there must still be room for positivity. Be rightly proud of your country. To all my American friends, enjoy your 4th of July weekend.

60CassieBash
Jul 6, 2020, 8:24am

>59 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! We spent the 4th eating fair-themed food we picked up and brought home for a private celebration. Also watched the movie version of the musical 1776.

61CassieBash
Jul 9, 2020, 4:28pm

Book 42: Savannah, or A Gift for Mr. Lincoln is an historical fiction suitable for tweens and up. It's not as gritty as so many modern YA books are; no salty language, no heavy romance, definitely no sex. Even the violence (and there is some--it is during the Civil War, after all) is rather tame, and the main protagonist is a young girl just starting to become a woman, so I'm going to classify this for the younger YA audiences. However, parents may want to talk with their children about the themes which, of course, are heavily racial. John Jakes uses the "n" words (though like Harriet Beecher Stowe did in Uncle Tom's Cabin, most everyone who uses that "n" word is a villain) because no one was going around during Reconstruction using "African Americans", and he was keeping true to the language of the day. (Read the afterward; he talks about using some other common words of the day, far less offensive, that have fallen to the wayside.) This could be a good book to start a discussion with children about race, bigotry, persecution, and just human nature in general; not everyone from the South is depicted as evil and cruel, because that's how it is in life, and not everyone from the North is kind and good--again, that's how it is. Both sides had good people and bad, racists and non-racists.

62CassieBash
Jul 10, 2020, 11:55am

Book 43: An audio version of the second book in the series, The Thickety: The Whispering Trees continues the quest of Kara and her brother, who must brave The Thickety and face the forest demon, Sordyr. I requested this book through OverDrive not knowing if the request would be honored, but it was! Huzzah! And just as I was finishing this book up, Brandon Sanderson's Elantris hold came ready! I will start this audiobook and when I'm getting somewhat close to the end, I will request the third (of four) Thickety book. And then I will have to go for the next book in the espionage training school series by Gail Carriger. Alas, once our classes resume this fall and the library opens up again, I will no longer have the luxury of listening to audiobooks in the office, so my audiobook listening will probably slow down some. Bummer. Ah, well, it was good while it lasted....

63CassieBash
Jul 13, 2020, 9:30am

Double whammy time! Yesterday I sold a bunch of our old discarded and donated books at work because we need the space they occupied for other purposes. But before I did that, I took the opportunity to re-read an old volume before selling it, which is Book 44, The Story of the Other Wise Man by Henry Van Dyke, which may seem like a Christmas book (and you could read it as such), but this Wise Man's attempt to join the famous 3--Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar--didn't work out, and he wandered for years trying to find Christ and offer his gifts: a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl, each of exquisite beauty. Things don't go as planned, and yet he may succeed after all. A good Christian spiritual read that's even suitable for read-aloud bedtime story times, though the very young may get bored with the lack of pictures. It's a very slim and quick read, though, and captures the heart and spirit of the Matthew 25:40 perfectly. A great little story worth the read when you're needing a spiritual pick-me-up.

Book 45 was a nonfiction conservation/travel guide called Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams. Yes, THAT Douglas Adams; the man who brought us The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was actually a conservationist--and he wrote a book about his travels with a zoologist, Mark Carwardine, and various BBC crew. Granted, much of the book is written about the headaches of traveling to some of the more isolated or locked-down areas of the world, and you won't get a lot of in-depth information about the animals' lives, but you will learn why these creatures are so rare, what's being done to save them, and you get to read about Douglas's reactions to the beautiful landscapes and the animals themselves, all delivered in Douglas's poignant yet humorous way. Definitely worth the read for conservationists, animal lovers, or anyone who is a big Douglas Adams fan.

64CassieBash
Jul 22, 2020, 9:16pm

Book 46: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson, audiobook as usual for my Sanderson selections, is another masterpiece of epic fantasy set in another wonderfully detailed world. Elantris is a city, once blessed but now seemingly cursed, it’s citizens suffering eternal hunger and pain though they can’t die unless they are beheaded or immolated. When Prince Rayodan is inflicted with the curse and is banished to Elantris, he works to improve the lot of the citizens from the inside. Meanwhile, his betrothed princess from another kingdom, Sirini, arrives and finds she’s a widow, as everyone thinks Rayodan is dead and that the two kingdoms—gets and Rayodan’s—are threatened with annihilation if they don’t convert to the religion practiced by the rest of the world. As always, Sanderson has created a complex political plot with memorable characters that epic fantasy will appreciate.

Book 47 is Shane Leslie’s Ghost Book; Shane is obviously a Catholic from the UK (Ireland? Scotland?) as his book focuses on stories collected from Catholics in the United Kingdom and makes an argument in favor of their existence from a Catholic viewpoint. A bit more scholarly than my usual ghostly fare, I’d recommend more to serious students of ghost folklore than to those wanting a chill or who want advice on how to study or observe them. All the arguments pro-ghost presented here are doctrinal and theological in nature—but it was a good read, nevertheless.

65CassieBash
Jul 29, 2020, 7:30am

Book 48: Merlin’s Book of Magick and Enchantment: I’ve had this one for so long I don’t remember where it came from, but I’m just now reading it. It starts out as a quick, first person summary of Merlin’s beginning and goes up to young Arthur drawing the sword from the stone. After that, it becomes a time of Merlin’s guide to spells and magic, likely drawing from the author’s research, since the about page for Nevill Drury says the anthropologist specialized in “fields of magic, mythology, shamanism, and visionary states of consciousness.” The last two, I’d say, are particularly emphasized as it talks about totem animals/spirit guides, invisibility, and flight—these reminded me of what I’ve read about self-trance and psychedelic drugs (though drugs are not mentioned). Not my scene, thanks, so I’ll be passing this on to Derek. The only bit I found interesting enough to study would be the runic alphabet.

66PaulCranswick
Ago 3, 2020, 8:59am

>64 CassieBash: Very interesting fellow, Shane Leslie. Anglo-Irish he became a Roman Catholic and very much a "home ruler" he became an Irish diplomat. He was also first cousin to Winston Churchill. He was the 3rd Baronet of Castle Leslie in County Monaghan in Ireland where he was born and where he died.

His mother was the sister of Winston Churchill's mother.

67CassieBash
Ago 3, 2020, 2:04pm

>66 PaulCranswick: Huh. Didn't know that. I just love ghost lore and it was a different perspective on them. Cool! Thanks for the info!

I've started my next disturbing disease book; with its larger type, smaller size, and less technical jargon than the cancer book, it should go by relatively quickly. But until then, I have 2 fiction books, an audio and a print, to add to the count:

Book 49 is Waistcoats and Weaponry--yes, another audiobook by the author Gail Carriger in the steampunk Finishing School series. This time, Sophronia (the reader, though very good with inflection and voices, does make the s sound like a z, though) and her friends Dimity and Soot must help their friend Sidheag when a family issue with her werewolf pack arises. This results in some rather good opportunities for the friends to practice the espionage lessons their finishing school imparts. A great read (or listen) for YA audiences, particularly girls, with strong female characters. There's even a bit more sociological food for thought on race and class; Sophronia, Dimity, and Sidheag don't let a little thing like skin color or social standing get in the way of their friendship with Soot, despite this being the common practice in their Victorian world. But like the Harry Potter series, this set of books seems to be maturing and getting a little darker, with the politics and intrigue winding its way through the plot like a menacing river of dirty oil. Strong character development with a good plot and hints of humor always pays off. Highly recommend to YA steampunk fans.

Book 50 was an old Scholastic book by Sam Savitt, Wild Horse Running. Two Saturdays ago a nearby country church had its annual rummage sale (with social distancing and masks--never letting more than 10 people in the building at any one time) and they were wheeling and dealing since it was the last day of the sale and they wanted to clear things out. So they offered me a box and said I could fill it for $2. It wasn't a huge box but it was big enough; I chose a lot of YA and children's literature, mostly animal (and mostly horse) based. This is the one off the top of the pile. There will be more.

The plot is basic; it follows a grey mustang named Cloud from birth until the end of the book (not the end of his life, however). He's alive during what I'm guessing from knowledge of the history of mustang roundups is the 1950s--people were using some pretty inhumane ways of hunting the horses that basically ran them to exhaustion, sometimes death, before laws were enacted that curtailed these practices. Cloud may just fall victim to the hunters, unless laws are passed to protect the horses living in the area of the Pryor Mountains. A good book for boys in particular; Mr. Savitt clearly sides with the horses and while it doesn't go into huge details about the hunts or about the measures to try to protect them, it's a good intro to the topic for those who are accomplished enough readers for a small, easy to read chapter book. For older readers interested in the laws and more able to withstand the details of how they would force mustangs to run in terror dragging tires until they nearly died (or did die), I suggest Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West by Marguerite Henry, who wrote the book after researching "Wild Horse Annie", the woman who helped push the conservation of mustangs and who helped put a stop to the cruel hunting practices.

68CassieBash
Ago 14, 2020, 11:53pm

Book 51: Manners and Mutiny is the 4th and final installment of the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger, and it concludes the plot regarding the Picklemen and their attempt to undermine the British government using technology introduced in previous books in their mad-scientist/evil genius plots. Of course, Sophronia, Dimity, and Agatha must do their part to try stopping them. Like the others, quite enjoyable characters, but as noted before, they grow progressively darker and there are some rather violent scenes, one involving a wicker chicken. (Gail, I suspect, was trying to balance the serious with the absurd.) Good YA read for young “ladies” who love adventure but enjoy a bit of girliness and some romance.

Book 51: The Faith of a Collie by Albert Payson Terhune is a bit dated with its language, and it’s ultimately a romance/adventure With less emphasis on the collie than I had hoped. I’ve read other works by Terhune about dogs and I feel this isn’t his best. Still, if you like quaint books and want to read this as a period piece, go for it. It’s not the worst story I ever read but it is a tad predictable and old-fashioned, so depending on the preferences of the reader, it could be a good fit—just not for me.

69CassieBash
Ago 15, 2020, 9:37pm

Book 52 is a graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier called simply Ghosts. However, this isn’t a work of horror but a story of family and friends, as the book revolves around Dia devils Muertos—the Day of the Dead—a Mexican celebration that celebrates ancestors. Catrina (call her Cat) and her family move to a new town because the doctors recommended it to help Cat’s little sister, Maya, wh has cystic fibrosis. The town is particularly fond of Dia de los Muertos because ghosts naturally like the foggy, windy location—and Maya can’t wait to see and talk to her first ghost, even though Cat would rather the ghosts stay away from them. More uplifting than you might think, this gentle fantasy is still realistic in that Maya and Cat must face Maya’s mortality some day, but the ghosts may just be there to help remind them that no one is truly lost if they’re remembered.

70CassieBash
Set 6, 2020, 9:06pm

I have not 1, not 2, not even just 3, but 4 books to review! (This has more to do with my busy schedule putting me behind posts than my reading speed, lol.)

Book 53 is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, which after watching the Prime video version I decided to check out the audio book for comparison. I can see why some fans of the book were disappointed; as always with epic fantasies, I cut film adaptations some slack because there is absolutely no way you can cram everything from the book or books into a visual adaptation, but I understand why the changes made might upset some fans. The book had some more background of Them, which I liked—but I also loved the more in-depth build-up of the friendship of Aziraphale and Crowley seen in the series. This was a great listen for before and after work at the time leading into the semester; a fun, witty story brilliantly narrated.

Book 54 was Penrod, the classic by Booth Tarkington, which like Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine follows the adventures of a boy in Illinois for a time. Like “Dandelion Wine”, the book is written more for adults than children, as a look back into childhood. However, unlike Bradbury’s work, “Penrod” is potentially offensive as it uses the language and stereotypes of the 1920s; the “n” word is used and Tarkington clearly believes in the “lazy black” stereotype—yet another reason I would NOT recommend this to children.

Book 55 is, however, a children’s book; it’s the audio version of The Thickety series’ 3rd book, The Well of Witches. Because each book builds off the others, I can’t give much in the way of plot—no spoilers here—but now there’s a new threat set free upon the world, and it’s even worse than the Forest Demon. Again, the intensity of the plot and the tones of horror don’t make this suitable for just any child, but for those who love dark fairy tales, this is a perfect suggestion.

Book 56 is my newest addition to the “disturbing” category; an eerily prophetic nonfiction from 2011 called The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age, in which the author, who has worked with primate diseases and who founded Global Viral Forecasting, an organization set up to independently monitor possible pandemics, quite clearly predicted that the next major pandemic would most likely be a novel infection, likely viral and animal in origin, and that either it would start in a wet market or through another source of bush meat in either Asia or Africa. However, after reading the book, this doesn’t seem odd as he points out that almost all new diseases are those that jump the species barrier (at least to start with), that hunting and butchering wild animals is the most direct, efficient, and likely path to infection, and that wet markets and bush meat sales are most common in China and African countries. However, he also has suggestions on how we should have monitored and prepared for a pandemic, and that one of the best things that can be done (and should be done as quickly as possible) is to have a well-informed populace who can “stay calm and follow instructions”. Full of notes, sources, and complete with an index, it seemed a perfect choice for my nonfiction read.

But I think I’m going to switch back to reading about insects for my next nonfiction choice. I’m eyeing a disease-based fiction title and I don’t want to get disease overload. :D

71ronincats
Set 23, 2020, 12:40pm

Glad you enjoyed the book Good Omens so much, Cassie--I'm a long-time fan!
The pandemic book sounds very timely. Too bad it wasn't attended to in 2016.

Whatcha reading now?

72CassieBash
Set 24, 2020, 4:37pm

>71 ronincats: Re: Good Omens: The reader, Martin Jarvis, is quite good if you ever decide to try the audiobook version. Re: Viral Storm: Quite timely, and yes, it would have been nice if many of his suggestions were in place, more's the pity. Since this was a virus from an animal, the system he recommended would have been aware of the potential of this virus to jump species, as we would be closely monitoring all diseases located within any animal species, and mammals and birds in particular. (It's harder for a reptile virus to cross the species barrier, as they are biologically farther removed from us.)

What am I reading now? Glad you asked!

Book 57: Blackout is, as promised, a YA diseased-based fiction title. Despite the review by Michael Grant, who says "This eerie look at an all-too-possible future", I'm not particularly worried about this type of virus, which gives teenagers (and only teenagers between a certain age range) powers and abilities that vary from being extra--good at mental math calculations to super-strength, telepathy, and other "super" powers. However, leaving aside the implausibility of a virus able to infect and impart such abilities to such a limited group, the story is quite good, though a little heavy as I was reading this around 9/11 and the book deals with a group of these infected kids turning terrorists (while others turn their powers to good) and how the US military deals with this. I've read darker but I think the timing made it seem darker than it otherwise would. Definitely leaves you thinking there will be another book, though it's not necessarily such a cliffhanger that you'll be pulling your hair out while waiting to get the next book.

I decided I needed some fluffy, happy, not-intense story so I picked the most happy, squee-inducing cover I had handy:



Book 58 is Absolutely Lucy, which is a starter chapter book for those children just starting to read books with more text and less pictures (though there are some simple black and white drawings inside). Bobby is a quiet, shy boy who doesn't make friends easily, but when he gets a beagle puppy for his birthday, she turns out to be great at helping Bobby make friends. A simple, straightforward plot that will appeal to young kids (especially boys), age appropriate and with a little simple humor (like when his young relative told him he was getting an "eagle" for his birthday instead of "beagle", and Bobby was picturing this huge fierce bird and wondering why his parents would think giving him an eagle was a good idea. Excellent for read-alouds at bedtime if your child is able to handle books without many pictures.

I know I have a few other quick, easy youth animal books (mostly centered around horses) so I think I'll detox on the heavy, disturbing things for a week before tackling my October horror reads. My library received a grant (Advancing Racial Equity) from the Lilly Endowment and the Indiana Humanities and I got to choose titles of a pre-selected list, and I purchased Lovecraft Country from the list. I can't resist; I must catalog it, check it out, and read it this next month.

73CassieBash
Out 4, 2020, 2:17pm

Book 59 is a children’s nonfiction on insects, think 4th-6th grade primarily, called Stinkbugs, Stick Insects &Stag Beetles and it covers 21 unusual members of the insect world that are strange or outstanding in some way. From burying beetles to bot flies and from monarchs to Madagascan giant hissing cockroaches, the author gives brief 4-5 page descriptions of the insect, where it’s found, what it does that makes it strange and stand out, plus a short section on what to look for if you happen to be around one (most are from the United States), and at the end there is a glossary, suggested reading, and a resources list. Good for young scientists interested in zoology and specifically entomology.

Book 60: Belly Up is a children’s book that appeals to the same age as above, also focused on animals and, despite the fictional status, it also provides some basic animal information—not surprising since the author worked at the Philadelphia Zoo. The story focuses around Teddy, the son of two employees of Texas’s newest zoo, FunJungle, who with the help (or not?) of the owner’s daughter tries to uncover the person who killed the zoo’s mascot animal, the ill-tempered Henry Hippo. A great introduction to young readers of both ages (the book is first person narrative from young Teddy’s perspective, it’s got a lot of boy appeal) to the mystery genre. Because of the animal angle, there are references to mating, birth, courtship, etc. but there aren’t explicit descriptions. There are a lot of references to poop, manure, and excrement, especially as Henry was fond of relieving himself at zoo guests, so there is some literal toilet humor.

Only 15 more to reach the goal; this month includes some ghost and horror titles including a collection of Edgar Allen Poe, some ghost lore from Alabama, and the aforementioned Lovecraft Country, because the only thing scarier than ancient gods with lots of tentacles are the racist bigots who worship them.

74CassieBash
Out 9, 2020, 4:05pm

The first of my Halloweenie October reads, a print book, a collection of ghost folklore from Alabama appropriately named 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Jeffrey is apparently a ghost one of the authors/editors caught on film and they include the photo in the book at the beginning with the introduction. To me, Jeffrey's photo looks like a flaw in the film or something, with only a vague (very, very vague) human appearance, and distorted at that. However, being a folklore enthusiast, especially with the supernatural, I thought I'd travel metaphorically down south with this quick read. The photos of the places where the hauntings take place, mostly big manor houses and plantations, are a lovely touch and remind me of another ghost book I read that focused on Louisville, KY. New stories to me since of course I'm mostly familiar with Indiana ghosties. Interesting but not necessarily to die for.

75CassieBash
Out 14, 2020, 8:14am

Post 74 was book 61, so book 62 is an audiobook appropriate to the season, The Edgar Allan Poe Audio Collection, with Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone providing the lively readings, so if you're a fan of Poe and classic horror films, this is perfect! My only problem with this collection is that there are few of the stories and poems with accompanying titles; Price and Rathbone just jump into the work without announcing which it is. They are listed on each individual disc (this was a CD format) so if you specifically want "Mask of the Red Death", you will certainly be able to figure out where it is, but when listening to the collection straight, this is annoying, especially with the poetical works, which are often a lot harder to ID quickly unless you're an uber-fan. (I had no problems with the prose or, of course, the most famous poems like "The Raven", "Annabel Lee", or "The Bells", but "Alone" and "The City in the Sea" were lesser-known and I had to reference the disc to find the titles.) Still, it's worth it to hear two of the masters of classic film horror read a classic horror author's best works; Rathbone in particular is a dynamic reader, varying his pace and intensity in such a way that I had to keep adjusting the volume in the car because he'd be reading very quietly and then suddenly might be screaming (notably in "The Pit and the Pendulum" and "The Tell-Tale Heart"). Definitely a must for Poe fans! This was a format upgrade from my cassette version, which will be re-homed to my fiance's shop in Muncie (unless Derek decides to keep it for himself). :)

76CassieBash
Editado: Out 28, 2020, 7:59am

Not a lot of text reading has gotten done this month, but I have another audiobook, Book 63: Famous Modern Ghost Stories--if of course by "modern" you mean the 1920s. Some of these stories are dated, some however are timeless, like The Willows by Algernon Blackwood. Some are potentially creepy, some are "meh" and a couple are gentle, particularly At the Gate which is about what this author pictures a dog's afterlife is like and isn't at all scary--in fact it's very touching. There is no touchstone for that story, but as the work is public domain, I was easily able to find an online version and have linked it here for those who would be interested. The stories are a wide selection and some are a bit obscure, at least nowadays, so it's possible that horror fans who haven't spent much time with the older works might not recognize some and be interested, but if its the more modern gory stories that thrill you, you'll probably find these don't have enough oomph in the way of horror. While none of these induced nightmares or even any sense of fear for me, a few of them are still good stories of the supernatural.

The audio version of this book I got from Librivox; I don't believe that any other audiobook so far this year has been a Librivox book, so for those who don't know what it is, Librivox provides public domain recordings free of charge for classic public domain books of all sorts. Readers are volunteers and so it can be hit or miss when it comes to that aspect of an audiobook, and collections of stories like this one often have multiple readers, but overall it's a nice service and the variety is astounding, from mysteries to historical fiction and adult and children's titles alike.

77PaulCranswick
Out 29, 2020, 11:39pm

Stopping by to wish you well and to hope that you are able to choose some lighter reading!

78CassieBash
Out 30, 2020, 9:24am

>77 PaulCranswick: Don't worry, I'll finish my horror kick before the end of November (just have a couple of books to finish) and then I have a bunch of children's horse stories I can read. That light enough for you?

However, my fiance lent me one book on the history of death and one on the history of poisons, which I would like to read and get back to him--not sure that those count as "lighter" reading, but it does fall into the disturbing category, lol!

79CassieBash
Nov 2, 2020, 9:02am

Book 64 is Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff; you can see this as one novel or as a connected set of short stories told in H. P. Lovecraft's style, tied together by the characters and plots, which move smoothly from one to another. Set in Jim Crow America, it follows an African American extended family and a few of their friends as they deal not just with the supernatural but the day to day dangers of racism and hate. You really do wonder which is worse in this book (I'm leaning towards the racism myself) but the stories usually have some humor so they aren't as dark as they could be, and not all of the supernatural elements end up being as nasty or scary as they first might seem--though there are some stories that do deliver some chills, so if horror isn't your thing, you probably want to skip this. Anyone game for a horror without much gore, with great character and plot development, and of course societal commentary.

I have a couple of ghost lore books I would like to finish this year; I also would like to read the histories on death and poison, which look like relatively quick reads. That should wrap up the "disturbing" part of this year's reads as far as nonfiction goes. Now that I've finished Book 64, I'm going to move into light children's fiction for a bit, then maybe some folklore. I have this Time-Life set called The Enchanted World--yes, all 21 volumes--that took a long time for me to complete. I'm not sure that I've read each one cover to cover but I'm going to start tackling that this Christmas, starting appropriately with this one:



The volumes aren't numbered and I just have them alphabetically on my shelf, so I'll probably skip around and read what seems right for the season.

80PaulCranswick
Nov 6, 2020, 10:13pm

>78 CassieBash: That is a brave move - supplying your intended with a book about poisons!

Have a great weekend and don't get too many ideas!!

81CassieBash
Nov 9, 2020, 8:41am

>80 PaulCranswick: Our first date was going to see the 1991 movie "The Addams Family" when it opened in theatres. He likes to say it's set the tone for our relationship from that point on. :D

And yes, I move slowly going into a serious relationship. Then both of us have ended up as caregivers for our mothers, our respective jobs are not yet designed or aligned with relocation for either of us, neither of us cares that much about the legal status, so we're not really in any hurry to officially tie the knot.

82CassieBash
Nov 10, 2020, 3:57pm

Book 65 is The Secret Horse, a children's chapter book from (originally) 1959, and it is dated. The tech savvy kids who might not be familiar with the concept of historical fiction may ask about why the girls aren't in constant contact with each other via cell phone texts and video conferencing, but any girl who has ever wanted a horse but whose parents tell them they don't have a place to keep it will sympathize with Nickie and will cheer as she and her new friend Gail figure out not only where to keep a horse on the sly but also how to care for it. The ending falls into place neatly and somehow a bit too easily to my jaded adult eyes but reading this from the innocence of childhood, the ending will be satisfactory to non-adults and won't seem at all abrupt. It would be a good read-aloud for younger children (horse-crazy girls in particular) who are ready for read-alouds with few pictures and more text.

83CassieBash
Nov 11, 2020, 10:25pm

Ghost Stories of London is book 66. It’s pretty much what it sounds like; these are ghostly tales that happen in London and it covers the backstories for each tale. From Jack the Ripper to several unidentified ghosts, I actually thought some were rather emphasizing the non-ghost stuff like architecture and therefore it reads partly like a travel guide. Don’t get me wrong—several tales are excellent but there are some that are fairly lackluster. Still might be worth picking up when you have the time.

84CassieBash
Nov 16, 2020, 2:56pm

This is my Triple Crown post, not just because I'm posting three books but because they're all children's chapter books with stories focusing on, what else?, horses. The first is book 67 by Glen Rounds and is called Stolen Pony. It's about a blind pony nabbed by horse thieves, and once they find out he's blind, they turn him out in the wilderness, his only companion the faithful dog that lived with him on the ranch he was stolen from. Can they survive the brutal wilderness long enough to make their way back? Book 68 is Afraid to Ride by the famous author C. W. Anderson, probably best know for the Billy and Blaze books. A girl injured in a riding accident and an abused horse are urged to work together for them to both heal from their past and to forge a new one together. Book 69 is El Blanco: The Legend of the White Stallion, written by Rutherford George Montgomery, which tells most of the story from the horse's perspective, as there are few humans in the bulk of the story--just a few at the start and end. This is another survival tale much like the Rounds book but instead of a western U.S. setting, this one takes place in South America in mountains, jungles, and swamps.

As a group, these are good chapter books for younger audiences; El Blanco is perhaps the most violent of the group in that there are some detailed animal v. animal scenes (the most spoiler you're going to get from me), followed by Rounds' book, and then the very gentle Anderson book. So depending on the emotional abilities of your child, you may want to steer clear of El Blanco until they are old enough to handle some potentially distressing scenes. Neither Rounds nor Anderson go into enough detailed descriptions to really probably cause younger children to get nightmares or other sleep disruptions so they make good read-alouds; girls in particular will enjoy Anderson's work as the main character is herself a girl.

I think I shall be able to hit my 75 goal with diligence, perseverance, and audiobooks, lol! I am working on a sewing project--a big Santa Claus doll of felt and fake fur--for our local Humane Society fundraiser and need to do a lot more sewing to try to make him in a timely fashion, so I need to hit the audiobooks because I have yet to manage to sew and read a print book at the same time. Not sure yet what the next fiction title will be; I'll have to skim my piles/shelves. I'm leaning towards the borrowed poisons book for the nonfiction read, because you can never know quite enough disturbing things about poisons. Green wallpaper from the Victorian era, anyone? ;)

85PaulCranswick
Nov 20, 2020, 10:16pm

>84 CassieBash: I suppose given humankind's affinity to animals it isn't too surprising that so many good books have been written about them - particularly dogs and horses.
By the way:

>81 CassieBash: Good for you. x

86CassieBash
Nov 22, 2020, 4:58pm

I know I read 2 of the 3 horse books from 84; I think I've read "Stolen Pony" too, but it might have been another book by the same author. His simple sketches are distinctive and familiar, as is his writing style, so I know I've at least read something by him before.

87CassieBash
Nov 25, 2020, 8:30am

Book 70 is The Topaz Story Book: Stories and Legends of Autumn, Hallowe'en, and Thanksgiving, which was a Librivox public domain audiobook read by several people. This is pretty much what it says it is; a collection of works from various authors, including Louisa Alcott, Harriet Beecher Stowe, James Whitcomb Riley, and many more. All of these works are older, pre-1900 Victorian classics, with stories and poems that are suitable for pretty much all age groups. You could easily turn most of these stories to read-alouds for even the youngest children. Frankly, the scariest Halloween offering was Shadow March, a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, and The Pumpkin Giant by Mary Wilkins Freeman, which the scariest thing about that short story from an adult's perspective is how the author seems to positively view childhood obesity. (In the story, the fat boys and girls are the favorite food of the Pumpkin Giant, but this isn't seen as a reason to change their eating habits or to get more exercise, and the rotund status of the 2 main children--the princess and the hero's son--don't change at the end.) Ah, the Victorian era, where chubby kids were seen as "healthy" and arsenic abounded in common household features, like green wallpaper and drapes. (Don't forget I'm also reading the history of poisons book, haha!)

5 more to go this year, so I'm not worried. I'm reading a YA fantasy and the poisons book, and am making good headway with both. I have 2 December reads picked out including an audiobook for the commute so with all of those combined, there are my 75. So do-able!

Next month I'll start planning the New Year reads, maybe starting with the appropriately-titled book from that Time-Life series:



Let's hope 2021's the beginning of a better year for all.

88fuzzi
Nov 25, 2020, 12:09pm

Cassie!

I was thinking of you today, and wondering why I couldn't find your critter thread...and did a search...and here you are!

Why in the world did I not have this thread starred?

89CassieBash
Nov 25, 2020, 2:06pm

Not sure, but that's OK. *sheepishly* Honestly, I've not visited your 75 thread either (and again, why not???) I'll make a point to do that in a few. I haven't been doing a critter thread, but instead have been on the Cats and Books group, posting on behalf of my cat, Peppa.

Hope you enjoyed playing catch-up!

90CassieBash
Nov 25, 2020, 2:06pm

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving everyone!

91ronincats
Nov 25, 2020, 3:55pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Cassie!

92PaulCranswick
Nov 26, 2020, 9:59pm



This Brit wishes to express his thanks for the warmth and friendship that has helped sustain him in this group, Cassie.

93CassieBash
Nov 29, 2020, 5:44pm

>92 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul, I’m grateful for your friendship too.

I’m also thankful that I have another multiple book post, lol.

Book 71 is Poison a History: An Account of the Deadly Art & Its Most Infamous Practitioners is a short history of poisoners rather than poisons. It doesn’t go into details on the discoveries or much on the background of the poisons themselves, so don’t expect to learn much on the chemistry and biology of these substances. But it does go into brief biographies of the most famous victims and practitioners from ancient times (Socrates) to the more modern cases (sarin poisoning in Tokyo subway). A good if brief overview, I’d recommend to those with a fascination into real crime.

Book 72 is The Floating Island, the first book of a YA fantasy series (*sigh*) that supposedly follows the journal entries of a young man of the Nain race; slow-growing, though 50 years he’s more a teenager in thoughts and actions, albeit a mature teenager. The first book follows the start of his life’s journey from apprentice shipbuilder to...read and find out. If I told you it would be a major spoiler so just read it, because it’s very good. Clean language and no mature content actually make this a good read for more advanced tween readers and a good read-aloud for precocious younger children, although there are some supernatural elements that might frighten more timid or the very young.

94CassieBash
Nov 30, 2020, 10:01am

Book 73: Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow isn’t your typical cookbook. Before you start drooling, imagining that the mud pies in the title are rich with chocolate fudge pudding, these are “recipes” intended to feed dolls and stuffed animals at tea parties. When she says mud (and dirt and seaweed and gravel), she means it. This is more a book that could be used to spark creative play for children and as a nostalgic look back at childhood for the rest of us. Though not exactly in the book, I remember making hollyhock Kool-Aide by taking the dead blooms, putting them in a play pitcher with water, and letting it sit in the sun as the color drained into the water. (Her variation uses marigolds.). Delightful and quick read!

By the by, Marjorie was born in Muncie, Indiana and is therefore of possible interest to those fellow Hoosiers interested in local and Indiana authors.

95PaulCranswick
Dez 4, 2020, 11:43pm

This week I trust you'll pass 75, Cassie.

Have a great weekend.

96fuzzi
Dez 5, 2020, 12:29pm

>93 CassieBash: I'll keep an eye out for book 72, though I doubt I'd read it anytime soon...Mount TBR is too big.

>94 CassieBash: noted, as a grandma.

97CassieBash
Dez 8, 2020, 2:04pm

>95 PaulCranswick: Nope. Didn't happen, but I still have a few weeks. I was slammed on Friday with the task of compiling a CV and answering 4 essay questions, due on Monday. So no real reading got done this weekend.

>96 fuzzi: Oh, I know the feeling of Mount TBR, lol! But yes, book 73 is a great one for kids and it might be one reprinted by one of those nostalgia/public domain presses, like Dover.

98CassieBash
Dez 13, 2020, 11:25pm

Book 74: So for Christmas, what better way to celebrate than by learning a little history about the customs of the season! The Christmas Book, while not creative in title, is exactly that—a history of the Christmas celebration starting with a synopsis of the Christmas story on to feasts and carols and other important aspects of our traditional Christmas celebration. It’s not an in-depth and lengthy tome but it does contain a few pages of references and it comes with an index so it could be used by the scholar of, say, junior high and up, reading-level wise. A good introduction to the topic, most people would probably learn something new while reading this about a favorite aspect of Christmas; I learned that mince pies used to be made in a rectangular shape, with a dip in the middle to mimic the manger, until the Puritans pitched a fit about that and the shape gradually changed to the more typical pie roundness.

99PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 2:36am



I hope you get some of those at least, Cassie, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

100PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 2:37am

Looking forward to seeing what is your 75th book.

101CassieBash
Editado: Dez 28, 2020, 10:57am

Thanks, Paul! Hope everyone had a great holiday, whatever you may celebrate (or be celebrating right now)!

Mom’s health hasn’t been great; she got pneumonia again so there’s been lots of running around and little time to read, but I’m squeaking in my 75th: The Book of Christmas from the previously mentioned Time-Life series. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of the titles in this series if you like legends and folklore. I mean it. Go out and buy a used set, either complete or one at a time. Great retellings accompanied by awesome artwork. They’re worth it just to look at the pictures.

This volume focuses on, well...the obvious. Christmas legends both religious and secular are in here, focused mostly on Europe and Russia; sadly, very little of South American or any Asian celebrations are in here, but as the book’s focus is on early origins that makes sense, as Christianity and thus Christmas was introduced to these countries much later. Wassailing, Christmas feasting, the hunting of the wren, a selection of traditional carols, and descriptions of various saints, creatures, and figures are included, including Saint Brigit, Befana, Julnissen, Kolyada, and Saint Nicholas, of course. While the book has pages of illustrations there’s plenty of accompanying text and most everyone, unless you’re an Uber-expert on Christmas, will pick up something new.

102CassieBash
Dez 28, 2020, 10:59am

Grrr...touchstone's aren't working for this title right now; here is the direct link.

103fuzzi
Dez 28, 2020, 1:50pm

>101 CassieBash: nice 75th read choice. I have a TimeLife cookbook on Denmark, which is part of my heritage.

I wish you, your mom, and the rest of your family a belated Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

104FAMeulstee
Dez 28, 2020, 5:32pm

>101 CassieBash: Congratulations on reaching 75, Cassie!

105CassieBash
Dez 29, 2020, 1:03pm

Thanks, both of you. It was the first year in a long time that I truly had my doubts about reaching the minimum goal.

>103 fuzzi: Time-Life had a lot of series; is the cookbook one of a multi-volume set? It seems to me they had a cookery around the world set at one time....

Tomorrow mom is getting some fluid drained from her chest and/or abdominal cavities, with luck. They will do an ultrasound first to determine if the fluid is too viscous to remove, but hopefully they can get this done. I think it will be easier for her to breathe because it's constricting her lung capacity. We're waiting for the referral for the cardiologist to go through, but her blood work doesn't show anything dire or in imminent danger--no liver, kidney, protein, or heart failure indicators are showing up, so her combined doctors right now are scratching their heads about the fluid buildup. Hopefully the cardiologist will be able to sort it out.

I've started my thread for 2021, in case you want to follow again. I just got another maybe 10 YA books, mostly fantasy, that got added to the pile. Ah, Christmas.... :D

If I've done my counts right (and we have established that even keeping a simple count can be tricky for me, since I tend to duplicate numbers), here is the sum total of this year's reads:

Breakdown by age group:

Adult fiction: 24
Adult nonfiction: 15
Children's fiction: 17
Children's nonfiction: 3
Young Adult fiction: 15
Young Adult nonfiction: 1

Breakdown by genre:

Nonfiction: 19
Classics: 6
Poetry: 1
Graphic Novels: 1
Horror: 6
Mystery: 6
Realistic fiction: 5
Historical fiction: 6
Science fiction: 1
Fantasy: 25

There were 14 audiobooks; the rest were print.

Looking back, I'm surprised by the total of nonfiction. I hit nonfiction relatively hard this year it seems.
Not surprised by the number of fantasy. :)

106PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 12:09am

Congratulations on your 75!

107PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 12:09am



Cassie

As the year turns, friendship continues