Saturday, November 7, 2020

October Books and More

 Hi everyone.  More beautiful weather on tap in New Hampshire today. More fall yard clean up is on my agenda. We painted the fence yesterday, hurrah, and it looks fantastic. 

Let me start off today with another bird journal page for Wendy's challenge at Art Journal Journey.

When I made this page I was specifically thinking about Covid, and  how we are all a bit like a cage bird right now. Also how we all want to fly free again. I made the background bright happy colors for hope and even stamped bits of a map on the page to represent how Covid is not only a worldwide disease but how we are all missing so much many things in the world, whether it is travel or just local things.  Can you tell these colder and darker days as well as the rise in numbers is getting me down a bit?

 I added the clock because it is just a matter of time before all  get better.

I am also participating in Art Everyday Month .

Thought I would share my monthly book read today also. As I write every month, this post is more for my own records, but I know many of you enjoy reading about books also. So here it is.

If not your thing, that's OK. For all of you, whether you read to the end of this post or not,  enjoy your weekend.

My Listens:

I ended September and started October with a bit of Roald Dahl. He wrote amazing older children's books. If you're not familiar with him,  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory might be one his most famous. 

Last month I listened to Matilda by this author.  I enjoyed that so much I went on and listened to this book also by him.

I didn't like The Witches as much as I did Matilda, but  I still enjoyed it. I smiled a lot and thought it was a very clever story. Dahl lived in England but his family was Norwegian. What I did love about this story is he incorporates a Norwegian grandmother, and the reader, Miranda Richardson, did a wonderful Norwegian accent when speaking for the grandmother. Although I must also say, she also did a terrific witch shriek, a bit ear piercing even.
Typical of many children's stories, the boy tries to solve the problem, but with the help of his grandmother. This story has a wonderful grandparent and child relationship.
I found the 1980's film of this book with Angelica Huston on Netflix, and I watched that. It was a fun version of the story and fairly true to the book.

A Witch in Time was an enjoyable listen. A friend recommended it with a text that said she loved it. I didn't love it, but I am glad I listened. In this story a woman is doomed to relieve her life over and over through different time periods, starting in France in the  late 1800's. I did love the part set in the 1930s. The rest of it was good to very good,  not exactly repetitive but had some elements repeated. The women in her modern reincarnation didn't excite me too much, and I thought she might have been a little stereotypic. This  modern woman does occur throughout the novel.  And why did I enjoy the book but didn't love it like my friend did? Maybe it was the writing style or maybe I just wasn't as much in the mood for this story as my friend had been. Yet I do recommend it if you like this kind of story.

Then I needed to listen to something with a little meat in it. Melinda Gates' The Moment of Lift was my next listen.

I enjoyed it being read by Melinda Gates, and I also enjoyed learning about the woman who Bill Gates fell in love with and married. I also enjoyed hearing about the amazing woman Melinda Gates  has met on her journey with the Gates Foundation.  The chapter on schools and education was in some ways repetitive after teaching for 36 years , but that being said, there is always something new to learn. It's not a long book, and  it could have been a bit shorter, but overall I highly recommend it . It did make me think about how much further women's opportunities have come since my grandmother's and mother's times.  Even between my early years and my daughter's.  It did motivate me to think about women's lives in places where life is so much harder than it is for many educated women in the western world. 

Mysteries were calling me, and so I listened to these 2 light cozy style ones. The were both enjoyable, fairly quick listens,  well written and although not particulary unique, sometimes that is just what you want to hear.  And they both had orange cats.  The first one, Ghostly Paws, was set in Mystic Notch, New Hampshire.  

This one had a bit of magic, some romance and a nice mystery about who killed the town librarian.

This second cozy style mystery, was set in Salem, Massachusetts. It also had a bit of magic, some romance, and the death of a local tv station personality. The killer in this one was  easier to figure out earlier in the book, but that really didn't turn me off of the story.

And my latest listen is this classic, A Woman in White. I read the Moonstone by Wilkie Collins earlier this year and enjoyed it so I decided to try another of his books.  Women in White is over 24 hours to listen to, and I'm over 12 hours into it at this point. So far so good. I'll talk about it next month.

My Reads:

My first book, The Ashes of London,  was an excellent story.  It starts in London during the Great Fire of  1666 and goes into the next few months once rebuilding begins. I didn't know much about the Restoration Period, which is when this story is set, and that itself was fascinating. The author did, what I believe, a very good job making the time frame real and the characters believable.  There are 2 more in this trilogy which are on my list. (Of course I have a huge to read or listen list. I think once the weather gets colder and as covid gets worse, I will hopefully knock off a few more reads.) The mystery was also very good, even if for me, it did get a bit lost in the story of the time period. 

Then feeling a little travel itch, and not being able to go far afield, I pulled this book, Steps Out of Time,  out my  collection. I had bought it a couple of years ago on mark down but had yet to read it. It is a true account of a women from Michigan who walked the Camino de Santiago. The book is not exactly written in journal form, but reads in chronological order as she walked the breadth of Spain to Santiago de Compostela. ( She started just east of the Pyrenees in France.) Part of me would love to take this walk. What I don't know is if I would really like to do this or if it is one of those things that sounds better than it would actually be. ( I must admit getting a book stamped at the end of each day is something I would be into doing.) 
At the end of the book the author talks about how popular this walk has become, and it sounds like it might be a little more crowded than when she walked it in 2002. The number of pilgrims  have skyrocketed in the last few years. I even know 2 women who did walk it a couple of summers ago.
  Katharine Soper  writes about what she gained from this very long walk, and I have to say that's what I really liked about this book. The author managed to get past the blistered feet and aches to realize that this trip was about giving herself some time to know herself again, without all the daily commitments of family, home and work.   

And in October with Halloween approaching, I wanted to push myself outside of my normal reading limits. Yes, I went for spooky. Not my usual read, although I have read some non-spooky Stephen King. In fact 11/21/63 by him is one of my all time favorite books. (That one is about time travel and preventing Kennedy's assassination if you aren't familiar with it.)
So I picked up this next book, a Stephen King classic.
One thing I did do was promise myself  that when and if the story got to too spooky for me and I couldn't read on, I would call it quits with the story. No pressure to finish the book.

 I have yet to complete it, but so far the spooky is ok, but I'm only 250 pages in, so we shall see. 

And I won't read it before bed.

I also pulled this book off my shelf and am reading it alongside The Shining.

In a recent book post by another blogger (Jeanie at The Marmalade Gypsy), Josephine Tey's  classic about Richard III was mentioned. I read that book a few years back, and as I often do when I get on a reading kick, I pick up a couple  or a few other books on the same topic. Sometimes I read them all at once, and sometimes I shelf one or two. 

At that time (a few years back), I read The King's Grave  (Phillipa Langley and Michael Jones). It is about finding Richard III's remains, and after reading that,  I didn't feel I needed to read more. I am glad I kept The Bones of a King on the shelf until now, as it is a much different and a little more scientific (although very readable for non archeologists and bone specialists). I am fascinated by the DNA work and also the other scientific tests they performed to prove if these were indeed Richard III's bones. (I think I should have studied paleontology and how it related to archeology. Not that teaching wasn't a really good career for me. It was.) 
As I am just about done with it, I am including it here in this post. 
If bones and royalty are something you like, then I do highly recommend this book.  

And I already have a stack of books to dive into during November.

And that's what he or she wrote (and I read/listened to). Hope your weekend is going and/or  continues to go well.
Thanks for visiting.


Iris Flavia said...

Sad-clever bird page, and beautiful, too.
Sure one you can take it back in some years and clearly say, "oh, 2020..." I hope! Because... it´s time to live better with darn Corinna!

What do you use for your listening? Do you do art or anything whilst doing it?
My teamleader once gave me a thriller for listening to whilst driving and boy, did I have a hard time, I thought I´m too dumb to drive and follow a plot!
(it certainly came over the car´s speaker, my ears were free to hear traffic).

Turned out the chapters were mixed up, hence people were alive, then dead and suddenly back that way. Geez!

nwilliams6 said...

Erika, I totally love and agree with your bird page. WE are like caged birds who can open the door but are too afraid to as the cat is lurking around. Very thoughtful and true, but also encouraging with your words. Love it.

Wow, you read a lot of books! I am so impressed and I want to read every one of these books (already read Witches by Dahl but none of the others). I am book marking this post so I know what to get next - probably the Melinda Gates or Bones of a King but the cozy mysteries sound fun as does Witch in Time. Thanks for sharing all this! Love your post. Hugz

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

I always enjoy when fellow bloggers post about books they have enjoyed, Erika, whether ones read of listened to, so thanks for these recommendations. The Wilkie Collins suggestions are ones I will see if the local library has available. Here’s an audio book recommend for you, The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. I just finished listening to it and enjoyed.

Valerie-Jael said...

Love your page, the background is gorgeous, well done. And well done on the yard work. You've been reading some good books, too. My auntie used to read me the woman in white when I was a kid, I loved hearing a chapter every evening. Have a great weekend, take care! Hugs, Valerie

Neet said...

I like your bird page very much and thought it was clever to link it to Covid which is dominating so many of our lives at the moment. Our local council has just rung to see if I am ok and do I need any help with being classed as extremely vulnerable so that was nice to know.
Lots of people are not as lucky to have councils ringing them but I do hope that anyone lonely gets the call.
I love how you have depicted certain things, like the clock, the cage, the map and the colours you have used. All is so well thought out and yet it makes a very agreeable page even had we not known the thinking behind it.
Beautiful and extremely clever.
Hugs, Neet xx

Divers and Sundry said...

I'm with you in wanting to fly free. Tired of all this I am.

Roald Dahl is a creative writer, isn't he! The Woman in White is a real treasure. I've always liked it. I might need to re-read that one :) The Ashes of London and Steps Out of Time both sound like books I'd like. I liked The Shining.

I'm so focused on news and commentary these days my reading has slowed _way_ down *sigh* but I just can't look away lol

craftytrog said...

A beautiful page Erika! And a great selection of books too. I haven't read any of those.
Alison xx

pearshapedcrafting said...

I adore this page Erika! I love your references to the situation we all are in now. I do hope it is dealt with soon!
Your books look to be a wide range of interests. I read The Witches to one of my classes in school and then to my own children when the film came out (it was filmed near their Grandparents home in Cornwall) We keep meaning to watch it again someday!
'A witch in time' looks like the sort of book I would enjoy, Not too keen on ghost stories but I have read 'The Aahes Of London' It was a while ago - don't remember much about it!
'Steps out of time' also looks interesting as on our travels in France we have seen many of the check in places - marked by a shell. Yes, I would have loved to do it, feeling I might flag a bit now!! My nephew and his wife did a fair chunk of it!
I hope you are able to do some more reading this weekend, Chrisxx

WendyK said...

I don't think my comment posted so I will do it again. A beautiful background for the lovely birds. Thank you for entering another page for my theme.
Hugs Wendy.

DVArtist said...

I too love the bird in the cage. I enjoy listening to books but I no longer have a device that I can do that on. So glad you can. It is a good way to get a book.

Serena Lewis said...

Loving your bird pages! Sadly, Covid has made us more wary.

I'm a book fanatic! I lean towards a lot of crime, true crime, horror, memoirs. I do love Catherine Ryan Hyde books also. LOVED the Harry Potter series! All in all, I have fairly wide tastes when it comes to books.

I wouldn't mind reading the Melinda Gates book. The Ashes of London sounds very interesting. The Bones of a King sounds interesting too.

I am a bit of an addict when it comes to reading or watching documentaries on people who walk the Camino de Santiago. A couple of artists I follow have done it and published illustrated journals of their experience. I also read Keith Foskett's book - The Journey in Between - on his Camino experience. I just bought and added Steps Out of Time to my Kindle reading list.

Have a lovely weekend,
Serena :)

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

That's a dramatic journal page, Erika. Your bird will fly like an eagle and it will one day be free again, metaphorically speaking of course. I can see how you might have been down when you created this, but there is a very bright and bold color spread, too. This turned out great. And it's quite inspiring for Wendy's theme at Art Journal Journey, too.

I want to read the two cat cozies. They sound good. I also want to read the story of the Bones of King Richard III. You certainly found some good reads this month. Somehow, I don't find time to do that much fiction reading. I'm busy studying scientific journals that would only interest me. Have a super rest of the weekend, dear.

NatureFootstep said...

love your little bird art :) Beautiful!

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Lovely artwork. Nice mix of books.

Tracey@Hotchpotchcreations said...

Your so right with the bird reference Erika, some people feeling caged more than ever, wouldn't it be wonderful to be a bird and just fly free. Love the page with it's element of time and words of positivity, sometimes the smallest can be the strongest. Love it.
I wish I had more time to read but my Hubby reads daily, horror is his choice of reading I don't think there are many of his you would finish..
Hugs Tracey xx
P.S I hope this comment gets through, had issue with comments & commenting :(

Jeanie said...

Well, before I go all "book" on you, this is one of my all-time favorite pieces of yours. I love everything about it -- the theme, texture, quote, colors. It all goes together perfectly. But it really resonates with the in-a-cage feeling we've experienced during Covid and are due for again. And yet the colors are more uplifting. It's really a nice one, Erika.

The books sound great. The one on the London fire I don't have yet but is on my list and now I've added your Richard III titles too. I remember reading The Shining years ago up at the lake, at night, when I was alone (and branches from the bushes outside were scratching on the screen in the wind.) I was totally freaked -- I haven't been able to touch Stephen King again! Maybe the Kennedy book!