Friday, October 17, 2014

The Witches - Roald Dahl

We always did read-aloud time in our family. All three of the kids were read to right up through elementary school and into middle school, too. Consequently, I miss reading aloud and being read to!
The popularity of books on tape, though, never really caught on with me until I retired and found myself home alone, the kids having grown and flown. Nowadays, you can usually find an audio book on the kitchen table with an accompanying book. I listen to audio books while I cook or putter in the kitchen at dishes and housework. 

The past couple days have been great fun, as I've reacquainted myself with Roald Dahl's fun adventure story called The Witches. This is the perfect read/listen for the Halloween season! I've known the story for ages, as the kids read it when they were young and we used to watch the movie adaptation of the book every Halloween. Anjelica Huston is just so perfect in the character of the Grand High Witch!

When I first joined in on this year's Readers (R) Imbibing (I) Peril (P) reading challenge at Carl Anderson's Stainless Steel Droppings blog (see link here RIP-IX reading event,) I noticed the title of Dahl's kid classic as the number one entry on the link up page. "Oh!, I thought, I haven't thought about that old story in sooo long!"  That's when I knew I'd seek out an audio version of the book to see how it would feel to have it read to me! 

What fun! The version I received from my public library's inter-library loan program is quite old, but the CD's are still in pretty good condition. The story is narrated by the actor, Ron Keith. He does a great job. It was really fun to hear his voice develop 'a smile' in it when he read particularly funny or clever parts of the story. You can hear the delight he is taking in the story and that adds to the charm of the experience.

I found myself cheering on the young protagonist of the story, as he came face to face with the dreaded witches that his dear grandmother warned him of in her many stories and tales of witches that live right among us! Imagine the smarts and derring-do it would take to outsmart a whole convention of withces! Therein lies the fun in Dahl's fast-moving romp of a story! It's a delight and one book that most elementary kids would love to experience! It's the perfect Halloween week read!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Longbourn - Jo Baker

For a woman who loves all things Jane Austen, this book is really quite fun. It is a re-telling of the life and times at the Bennet household during the time when the events of Austen's tome, Pride and Prejudice are unfolding. The characters of the Bennet family are intact with the addition of a strong new cast of characters - the household staff. Yup, Downton Abbey meets Pride and Prejudice ...

I was quite happy with the way Jo Baker told her story. The characters are really strongly developed. Sarah, a young housemaid bridles at the yoke of servitude and wishes for a broader view of the world and a happier existence. Mrs. Hill, the stalwart housekeeper, guards her staff like a barnyard goose, but hides her own hurts and hopes behind the veil of loyalty to the Bennet family. Young James, a mysterious young man who is taken on as the Bennet's footman has a story of his own that slowly unfolds. What's central to the novel, though, is the strange incongruity between wealthy England's dismissal of slavery as a cruel business and the callous class structure that kept the serving and working classes firmly in place at the bottom of the social ladder.  Spending years in servitude without being given the means to form family bonds or homes of their own,  working long hours without notice of their social and emotional needs, being dismissed for any reason - this was surely not an easy life. It was to be endured because it was the only sure way to have a roof over one's head, sure food for one's belly, and a certain amount of protection from the harsh reality of economic conditions in the greater society. UGH ... it all seems so romantic when we see the Austen movies, but it wasn't all it was cracked up to be!

Ms. Baker has added a wonderful addition to the story of the Bennet family and the staff that cares for them, but no spoilers here. There's sure to be a movie adaptation for this novel and if not that, then a PBS production for the Austen fiends. I'll climb on board that fan wagon when it happens.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Snapshot --- Little Bee

...  Little Bee turned 5 weeks old on Thursday. He's got some growing to do if he's ever to fit into those double front paws. They are like snowboots on him right now. He walks and trots like a Clydesdale  ...

... Bee can't go far yet, as we worry about the dogs' pestering, so Opey and the baby gate keep him confined to the upstairs bedroom ...

... Bee is not amused and would like the gate to go away so further exploration could be accomplished ...

shared at Saturday Snapshot, hosted by Melinda Ott over at West Metro Mommy Reads

Friday, October 10, 2014

Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

... was wondering what all the fuss was about when the Outlander series was brought to television and fans were all excited. My friend, Betty swears by the books. I never read any of them, so ....

What can I say? Bodice-ripper. That is all.

I finished this book so that I could have conversation with Betty about it and the movie adaption that she has been watching on Starz, but I was not really caught up in the fervor of Galbaldon fandom. These books are easy reads with copious amount of sex and sweatiness - not my cup of tea. I'm heartily glad for Ms. Gabaldon, though. She has certainly worked the angle of time travel, romantic lust, and dysfunctional family histories to the max.

Now, let the movie producers tough it out deciding whether to adapt all the books in the series to the screen for fans that are just panting for one more peek under Jamie's kilt. Ms. G is laughing all the way to the bank.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Saturday Snapshot

... the view from my back door ...

The sugar maples are peaking here in New England. Fall is definitely here and the first  of the fall rains have moved in for the weekend. The rain and gloomy skies only make those reds seem more brilliant, though. This is the tree that I wake up to every morning and each morning over the past week it's become more and more beautiful.

... a leafy mosaic ...

Its leaves cover our little gravel walkway out to the mailbox and nestle down amongst the fall plantings. It's such a pretty time of year.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

RIP IX - A Little Something Different

I have discovered, through a fellow blogger, a new graphic novelist/artist - Emily Carroll has done some truly interesting stuff with the horror genre. Here is a taste of her work, no pun intended. The piece is called Out of Skin and appears on here website. Check it out!

Her first book is called Through the Woods and is a collection of short horror stories that are made incredibly powerful because of her imagery.  I believe Out of Skin is included in the book. Really. Check it out! The book is intended for young adults and older. You'll see why when you get a look. It would be far too scary for youngsters.

This book and the website are the perfect addition to my reading and looking challenge at Carl's literary event called RIP IX. This is horror of the first order - spare words, strong images, and a lasting creepy impression. Good work, Emily Carroll!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Saturday Snapshot - Vermont

Late in August, we vacationed for a week up along the shores of Lake Champlain.

We spent our days riding our bikes along farm roads that wended through fields and pastures.

Sunsets at the little cottage we rented were really lovely.

We loved finding fields of sunflowers that are becoming a popular crop for farmers.

... and barns, did I mention barns?  So many different kinds and colors !

On our last afternoon at the cottage, I stopped and picked a bouquet of Queen Anne's Lace to have for a dinner table centerpiece. It was so pretty!

We have pledged to go back next summer ... I can't wait.

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