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Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic

Currently reading

The Dragonbone Chair
Tad Williams
Progress: 391/766 pages
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
Ibram X. Kendi
Progress: 22/750 pages
All the President's Men
Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward
Progress: 73/383 pages
Women's Gothic and Romantic Fiction: A Reference Guide (American Popular Culture)
Kay Mussell
Progress: 17/157 pages
The Looking-Glass Portrait
Linda Hilton
Really Neat Rocks: A casual introduction to the rocks & gems of Arizona and the lapidary arts
Linda Hilton
Progress: 61/61 pages
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith
Jon Krakauer
The Power of Myth
Joseph Campbell, Bill Moyers
Progress: 20 %

Ave atque vale

My father-in-law passed away Sunday morning.  He was 95, would have been 96 in March.  He and my mother-in-law celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in October.


I took this photo of them in the summer of 1980, in the front yard of their house on the farm in Indiana.


Karl was a World War II veteran, a pilot who flew bombing missions in Europe but never talked about it.


He was a quiet man who could surprise every once in a while.


I remember my mother-in-law Helen and I had gone shopping in Fort Wayne one Saturday, probably in the early or mid 1970s.  On the way home, we stopped to pick up the groceries needed to fix a quick supper of sandwiches and salads: bread, cold meats, cheeses, salads, relishes.  When I added a loaf of rye bread to the mix, she kind of turned up her nose.


"Do you really eat rye bread?" she asked.  "That's so weird.  No one I know eats rye bread!"


Well, I like rye bread (with seeds!) so I insisted, but I knew she thought there was something wrong with me.


When we arrived back at the farm and began laying out a buffet-style supper for the rest of the family, Karl wandered into the kitchen to see how things were going.


"Oh, wow, rye bread!" he exclaimed.  "I haven't had rye bread in years.  Helen, why don't you ever buy rye bread?  I love it!"

Reading progress update: I've read 391 out of 766 pages.

The Dragonbone Chair  - Tad Williams

Tiny bits of memory come back to me as I'm reading this, though it's been at least 20 years, maybe 25 or more.


I spent the morning cleaning in the studio, scavenging many a quaint and curious scrap of half-forgotten fabric.  The place is still a complete disaster, but some frail bit of progress has been made.


Then I rewarded myself with a couple of hours of reading.  Uninterrupted. Unbothered.

Reading progress update: I've read 143 out of 766 pages.

The Dragonbone Chair  - Tad Williams

A book to linger over and savor, to read carefully and with attention.


I haven't had the time to read lately that I had hoped, so my progress on this is far slower than anticipated, but at least I've been able to renew it from the library and hope to finish it now that I don't have any art shows for another five or six weeks.

A lovely but not very profitable day

Weather for today's holiday craft show at the Superstition Mountain Museum was sunny, cool, and slightly breezy.  As usual, I took way more merchandise than a 10 x 10 booth would hold.  Not that it would have mattered -- people were simply not buying.


I was lucky enough to at least make back the cost of the space, but most of the vendors around me sold very little and many sold nothing at all.


The dogs were super excited to see me -- they had been left home alone all day -- and bounced around like crazy puppies.  As soon as they had some time outside, I fed them, then jumped in the shower to wash off ten pounds of dust before I could even think of fixing any supper for myself.  Now that I'm clean and have had something to eat, the laundry is started and I'm going to relax.


Just keep your fingers crossed that I don't end up in back spasm hell again.

Taking a break

The news is overwhelmingly oppressive, to the point that I've become emotionally exhausted.  Recovery is not a matter of turning off the television or not looking at Twitter.  If I don't know what's going on, I simply imagine the worst.


I have managed over the past couple of weeks to find some reading time, but writing is out of the question. My heart is no longer in it.  And writing is a huge part of what I am.  I feel as if that huge part is paralyzed.


There are other issues, more personal and therefore not suited for this forum, that impact my state of mind.  I'm just at a loss.


I'm not disappearing, but don't be surprised if I'm just not here very much.

Faded at the end

The War of the Flowers - Tad Williams

Disclosure:  I obtained this book from my local public library.  I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with him about this book or any other matter.



I agonized over the rating to give this and finally settled on 3.5 stars, but it's really more like 3.25.  I wanted it to be 4.0 at least, but just couldn't do it.


The beginning is great, and the premise is solid:  Theo Vilmos, SF Bay Area musician, has reached the age of 30 and hasn't accomplished much.  An odd inheritance from a distant relative and a surprise visit from two very different creatures land Theo in a bizarre other world that is both like and unlike the world he's known all his life.


It's an intriguing set-up, a fairyland that runs on a different kind of "science" and seems to have some political issues not unfamiliar to anyone who has paid attention.  Theo meets up with some of the powerful folks and the not-so-powerful, and becomes caught between several different factions on both sides.  He knows he somehow fits into this drama, but figuring out how is the issue.


For the first 75 to 80 percent of the book, I was capitvated.  Williams's writing is splendid, beautiful without being purple, with just the right touch of casual to make it real.  Most of the main characters are well developed, fully dimensional, especially Applecore and Theo himself. 


The world-building could have been a little stronger -- that was one of the reasons I couldn't even begin to put this in a 5-star race.  Though the description of the City was precise and detailed and full of atmosphere, there were major elements that just didn't come across well.  I kept expecting more information on just how the power plants operated and why they were failing, and maybe that wasn't important enough to know, but it bothered me, especially because one of the important secondary characters was so affected by the power generation aspect.


The last 100 or 150 pages, however, didn't quite hold up.  There were several sections of long backstory narrative where Theo is left basically standing around and listening while someone tells him what happened "before."  I felt the backstory information could have been brought in more dynamically, especially when the same technique had to be repeated for subsequent characters.


I also didn't care for the way the actual "war" was resolved, simply because Theo didn't have an active part in it.  That dropped the rating down some more.  The whole idea of a character arc is for the person to learn and grow and ultimately make a difference; Theo learned and grew, but at the end it was other characters who resolved the crisis.


As long as the book was -- almost 700 pages of a large hardcover in small print -- I think it might have done better as a two-volume work, with more world-building to fully integrate certain foundational issues, such as the Clover Effect, the power plants, and the "contract" that seemed so important at the end.


All of that said, the book is very well written, and I'm sure 95% of fantasy readers will love it.  I'm just picky.

Reading progress update: I've read 410 out of 686 pages.

The War of the Flowers - Tad Williams

I've been reading this late at night and early in the morning, in between sometimes frenzied bouts on Twitter, so I'm not making the progress I had intended.


If I have any complaint at all it's that there are small details planted early in the book that don't come back until much later, after all kinds of things have gone on.  It's hard to remember those details from two or three or four hundred pages ago.


There is a great deal of cleverness in this book, especially


the way Williams posits the connections between Fairyland and what's referred to as the mortal world.  I suspect there are some political statements in that cleverness, which I'll discuss further when I finish the book and post a full review.

(show spoiler)


The darkness of the tale is resonating with the current world situation, almost to an uncomfortable degree, but I'm still enjoying the book and looking forward to the rest of it.

Posted without comment




White House


Reading progress update: I've read 210 out of 686 pages.

The War of the Flowers - Tad Williams

From page 158.  Two ogres are talking about the potential dangers of eating certain kinds of food.   One ogre, Teddybear, says to his sister:


"Gah, Doll, you talk a load of old fewmets sometimes."

A fellow artist

Where Will This Train Take Me - Barbara Buck, Janna Blok

Photographer Janna Blok is a member of my artists' group here in Arizona.  Our booths were back-to-back at yesterday's art show, so I got a sneak peek at her book!

Reading progress update: I've read 68 out of 686 pages.

The War of the Flowers - Tad Williams

Way down in the lower right hand corner there is a poppy.


Square #3 - Veterans' Day now has a book.


I have not had time to sit down and reeeeeeeeeeeeead.  The long week-end is almost over.  I am going to take this book outside and relax with it for as long as I can.


Current temperature is 85.

Update on Holiday Art Show -- No Back Spasms! ;-)

There were glitches.  BIG glitches.  Glitches that had no reason to exist.  But as I think most of us have come to recognize, there are people in this world who like the idea of having power but have no idea how to use it to anyone's benefit but their own.


I had actually prevailed upon BF to help me with some of the loading and unloading, because the schedule for this show allowed for a brief window during which we could access the venue on Friday to unload tables and other large, heavy items, in advance of Saturday's early-morning set up time.  The actual time of this window wasn't announced right away, but the Person In Charge promised she would let us know "asap."


I began the loading on Thursday, then BF helped me finish the preliminary loading Friday early afternoon.  Then we waited for the word on when to drive the five miles to the venue and unload.


That word never came.  Finally, at 4:53, I texted the Person In Charge to find out when we could get access, and she replied that the window was 3 -5 p.m. and she had sent out an email to everyone.


I never got it.  She insisted she had sent it.  She sent a follow-up text that was so rude and hurtful and insulting that I started to cry.



My name will be mud on my face????  WTF??????????


I managed not to start crying, but it wasn't easy.  I couldn't believe this person meant what she wrote, but neither could I figure out what she DID mean.  And since we had missed the window for early set-up, I needed to let BF know.  While I was telling him, I asked him if he had any clue what she meant by "your name will be mud on your face."


He thought about it for a while and then said, "She's using voice recognition software to compose her text.  She probably meant 'Your name will be up on your space' but didn't check to make sure that's what went through."


That at least kept me from crying.  It didn't make me any less angry.  Nor was my anger alleviated when, a few texts later, I learned that she's in effing FLORIDA!


BF and I then rearranged the items already packed in the car so that I could load everything for a 7:00 a.m. Saturday set-up.  To my surprise, he came with me to help!!  Oh, what a difference that made!


Of course, there were small glitches with that, too.  Some people were parked to block the entire unloading area -- a warning not to do that is part of the standard set-up information, but apparently the Person In Charge hadn't included that in the emails that may or may not have gone out to our many new members.  At any rate, BF and I got everything unloaded, then he left and I began the process of setting up my display.


I never even got to take any photos.  When I wasn't busy with the actual work of setting up, I was sharing angry comments about the Person In Charge's poor job of notifying people.  There were MANY others who hasn't gotten her alleged email, and she had pushed the work off on other board members who weren't prepared for that sudden extra task.  There were a lot of very angry people Saturday morning!! 


At least I wasn't alone, and that DID make me feel better.


For the most part, the show itself went very well.  We had a good crowd, and it was definitely a buying crowd.  By the time the 3:00 closing time arrived, everyone was satisfactorily tired and ready to quit.  I had just about everything packed up and loaded when, to my surprise, BF showed up to help!  Most of the work was done, but I was still grateful for the assistance.  At home, I unloaded nothing, just headed for the shower and then we went out to eat.


Next show is in two weeks, and I do have to restock some inventory.  I'm also going to rearrange some of my storage tubs to lighten the load a bit.


Today's show had some MAJOR glitches -- all due to human stupidity -- but it managed to go well anyway.  I had good sales, including this one that I just made.  I had a feeling it would go quickly.



Another new piece also sold -- so new, in fact, that I haven't even taken the photos off the camera yet.  I'll get that in the morning.


I did well.  Great?  No, not quite, but I'm not complaining.  The funny thing is that even though I sold quite a bit, everything is small, so it seems like I brought home just as much as I took!


I'm going to bed early, however.  These shows are exhausting.




First three books free today 11/24/17

Rose Hill Mystery Series Three-Book Collection: Books 1-3 - Pamela Grandstaff

I read the first of these and wasn't overly impressed (review here) but others may like it, so I thought I'd offer the link since all three are free today, at least in the U.S.

16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #8; Book #1

The Jews in America: The Roots, History, and Destiny of American Jews - Max I. Dimont

Book themes for Hanukkah: Any book whose main character is Jewish, any story about the Jewish people –OR– where the miracle of light plays a significant part in the stories plot.


See also previous update here.


Disclosure:  I obtained the Open Road Media Kindle edition of this work when it was offered free on Amazon.



I had read Dimont's Jews, God, and History close to thirty years ago; the paperback copy is on the family room bookcase right now.  When Open Road Media offered three more of his volumes last year, I eagerly downloaded them.  This was the first I've read, however.


He traces the history of the Jews in America from the arrival of the first dozen or so in 1654 through the various waves of immigration and how those waves effected a unique transformation of the Jewish culture into the latter part o fthe twentieth century.  That much was to be expected.  What I found interesting was the fact that Dimont demonstrated how the experience of being American/Americanized contributed as much to that transformation as, and maybe even more than, just the influx of Jews from other backgrounds.  I recognized a lot of characteristics from my own family.


I learned a great deal and will try to make time to read the other Dimont books from Open Road.






Reading progress update: I've read 57%.

The Jews in America: The Roots, History, and Destiny of American Jews - Max I. Dimont



Whereas the communists viewed socialism as scientific materialism, the Jewish socialists thought of it as ethical humanism. They were impelled toward their social goals by moral indignation rather than by rational hate.

Dimont, Max I. The Jews in America (Kindle Locations 2134-2136). Open Road Media. Kindle Edition.