Saturday, 15 April 2017

Curently Reading and Other Stuff...

I'm currently ensconced on the couch in the family room with little Clyde curled up beside me. He's very peaceful when he's sleeping.. ;)

I've caught up on a couple of books and have been enjoying my Saturday footie. Crystal Palace have just scored to tie their game with Leicester. Now to check on another channel to see how Everton are holding on in their game. Oops! 1-1 versus Burnley. Love my Saturday footie!!

I've been a bit slower than usual with my reading. I'm enjoying my books but we've been busy getting the house organised for new carpets and flooring. Besides I do find myself these days wasting lots of time keeping track of the US news, more so than I ever did the past few years.

Anyway, these are the books I'm currently enjoying.

12 + 4 Challenge. (This is my new challenge, a selection of books written between 1900 - 1950 and those specifically that I've had the longest without trying.)

Nightwalk by Elizabeth Daly. Daly could be described as the American Agatha Christie, or maybe more accurately, Dorothy Sayers. Her protagonist is Henry Gamadge, 'the great master of criminology'. Gamadge is a wealthy New Yorker who is interested in criminology, much as Sayers' Peter Wimsey. She wrote 16 mysteries between 1940 and 1951. Nightwalk was written in 1947 and was the 12th book in the series. I will also be reading Death and Letters in this challenge. It was her penultimate Gamadge book.

Mystery Series Challenge (The Sleuths)

 Tender Death by Annette Meyers. One of the mystery series written by Annette Meyers is that featuring head hunters and detectives, Xenia Smith and Leslie Wetzon. The are detectives by accident more than anything. Meyers' Broadway interests also feature in her stories with Wetzon having a previous career as a Broadway dancer prior to getting involved in head hunting Wall Street investors.

Tender Death was written in 1990 and is the 2nd Smith and Wetzon mystery. It involves murder, Russian gangsters and scamming elderly rich folks. I love her flowing style and entertaining characters.

Mystery Series Challenge (The Cops)

 Ratking by Michael Dibdin. I've wanted to read the Zen books since the missus and I watched the TV series that was developed based on the books. Zen is an Italian police officer (in the series he is played masterfully by Rufus Sewell. Ratking is the first Zen mystery by Dibdin and involves the kidnapping and ransom of a wealthy Italian businessman. Zen is called into the case and must sort out an entangled story, with family interference and the efforts of an ambitious prosecutor. Interesting story so far. Maybe not quite as good as my other Italian mystery series, the Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon. Having said that, it's just the first book in the series and I'm still only a third of the way into it.

The Classics (Pre-1900)

 The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper. This is the last book written by Cooper in his Natty Bumpo (Deerslayer) series of five books, but chronologically, it is the first. In The Deerslayer, originally written in 1841, we are introduced to the Deerslayer, also known as Hawkeye, and his friend, Chingachgook. They travel to the interior of New York state, must fight warring Iroquois to try and save two white men who are held as prisoners and also to save Chingachgook's fiance. I'm about a third of the way through so far and enjoying my first experience with Cooper's writing and story-telling.

A Bit of History and Other Things

 Continuing my ongoing exploration of the history of the Americas as excerpted from a book I found recently, Treasures of Use and Beauty. I've been taking excerpts from two sections; Great Historical Events and Letters of Affection from various historical personages of the time.

Great Historical Events (I continue exploring the 1600's, starting today at 1615)

"1615. Champlain explores the country of the Hurons
The Dutch erect a fort on Long Island.
The cultivation of tobacco first introduced into Virginia. (Ed. Note - It's good for you, they said!)
Baffin's Bay discovered by Baffin.
1617. Pocahontas died in England, leaving a son who was educated there.
1618. Lord Delaware died on his passage to Virginia.
1619. June 19. First Colonial Assembly in Virginia.
1620. The Mayflower anchored in Cape Cod harbor. The first white child born of English parentage in New England and named Peregrine White. (Ed Note - a girl or boy??)

Landing of the Pilgrims
December. - Landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Mass.
England transported 100 felons to the Virginia colony to be used as servants.
August. - A cargo of Negroes brought from the coast of Guiana by the Dutch and sold to the Virginia planters.

Girls Sold as Wives.
1621.Cargo of girls sent to the Virginia colony and sold as wives.
Many of the first settlers who came to Virginia were adventurers, and single men, and came to these distant shores expecting to amass enough wealth in a few years to return to their country and live at ease; but finding that if fortunes were made, they must be developed by cultivating the soil; therefore, in order to successfully establish themselves and build up homes they must procure the 'home keepers,' and as there were none here, they must be 'imported' and to pay the expense of their passage, they were sold.
Ninety young and respectable women were brought over in the first company, and were quickly disposed of, (Ed note - How romantic!) and the enterprise proved so successful that a second company were ordered, and sixty more came over.
The price of a wife was at first estimated at 120 pounds of tobacco, which sold for three shillings per pound, and afterward they brought 150 pounds. This was considered a very honorable transaction, and the wives were received with so much fondness, and were so comfortably established, that the proceeding added much happiness and dignity to the colony.
May 12. - First marriage at Plymouth, Mass.
The W.I. Company build New Amsterdam (New York) and found Albany.
School for Indians established in Virginia."

And on that note, I'll stop for now. I have to say, I find some of this very interesting. Now onto a letter of affection. This letter was written by the wife of Abraham Lincoln in 1867.

"Mrs. Lincoln on the Receipt of a Medal in Memory of her husband, Abraham Lincoln.


Chicago, January 3d, 1867

I have received the medal you have sent me. I cannot express the emotion with which this proof of the sentiments of so many thousands of your countrymen fills me. So marked a testimony to the memory of my husband, given in honor of his services in the cause of liberty, by those who in another land work for the same great end, touches me profoundly, and I beg you to accept, for yourselves and those whom you represent, my most grateful thanks.
I am, with profoundest respect, your most obedient servant,

Mary Lincoln."

The Birth Day Fun Thing - Moving on to songs and books that were popular in 1960, where applicable on the date I celebrate my birthday, November 10th.

US Billboard #1 Song on November 10, 1960

Save the Last Dance for Me by The Drifters. The Drifters were an American doo-wop and R&B group that formed in 1953 as backing singers for Clyde McPhatter. Save the Last Dance was their first US #1 hit. Ben E. King was on lead vocals for this song, which was first recorded by The Drifters.

UK #1 Song on November 10, 1960

It's Now or Never by Elvis Presley. This is one of 2 UK #1's that Elvis had in 1960. He had 3 in the US; Stuck On You, It's Now or Never and Are You Lonesome Tonight. Stuck on You only reached #3 in the UK... (Only, he says) ;0) It was written by Wally Gold, Aaron Schroeder and Eduardo di Capua.

New York Times #1 Fiction Best Seller, 10 November 1960

Hawaii by James Michener. This is one of a few books that you will find, by Michener, in the #1 position over the next few posts. Michener, who lived between 1907 and 1997 wrote epics, stories which covered huge periods of time and provided a complex and detailed history of whatever his subject. He wrote over 40 books. Hawaii was his sixth book of fiction. It was originally published in 1959, the same year Hawaii became the 50th state. (a fact that I never really knew for some reason. I thought Hawaii was a state much earlier.)

Pulitzer Prize Winner - 1960

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury. I won't say any more about this book. I highlighted it previously as the 1959 NY Times #1 best seller on 10 Nov 1959. (check out yesterday's post)

Nobel Laureate - 1960

Saint-John Perse (France). Saint-John Perse lived from 1887 - 1975 and was a noted French poet / diplomat. His Nobel Prize was awarded "for the soaring flight and evocative imagery of his poetry."

 Hugo Award Winner - 1960

Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein. Starship Troopers is one of my favourite Heinlein Science Fiction stories. It tells the story of Earth's battle against the invading bugs. It goes through the training to be a starship trooper, the camaraderie of the troopers and the battles they fight. An entertaining and thoughtful story. It shows Heinlein's many strengths as a writer, especially his pure story-telling ability. First and foremost, that's what I always enjoy about a Heinlein story; they are just great, page-turners of a story. I have read Starship Troopers many times.

Edgar Award Winner - 1960

The Hours Before Dawn by Celia Fremlin.Celia Fremlin was an English crime writer, another of those writers that I've never read before. I will be checking her writing out. She lived from 1914 - 2009. She wrote 16 novels, with The Hours Before Dawn her first and her only Edgar Award winner.

So there you go, my latest year updated. Next in line will be 1961. Can't wait, eh? 

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