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LindaHilton

Linda Hilton

Reader, Writer, Merciless Reviewer and Incurable Romantic

 

Bots and Spammers are routinely purged.

Currently reading

The Summer Tree
Guy Gavriel Kay
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America
Nancy MacLean
Progress: 134/574 pages
The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance
Northrop Frye
Progress: 43/200 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 House of the Spirits
Isabel Allende

54,838

Not much for the past two days, but something.  I've been preparing for the studio tour, too, and trying to bring some order out of the chaos in the studio itself.

 

Now I'm going to bed.  I may write some more in my notebook.

54,365

I wanted to reach 55,000 yesterday, and would have been happy with 54,500, but even my longhand writing in bed didn't quite get me there.  But progress is still progress.

 

This morning I felt good enough to hit the workshop and the rock saw, since we had perfect weather for it.  I knew the blade was close to wearing out and I didn't know for sure how much lubricating oil I had left, but I figured I might as well do what I could.  Well, there was barely enough oil to fill the reservoir, and the blade was really getting down to the nub, but I did get a few things cut.  I have a new blade in reserve, but I'll have to buy more oil.

 

The material I cut was nothing spectacular, though I may have one nice piece of gem silica or malachite in quartz or something.  I can't tell because it's still so dirty from the oil.  I'll know better tomorrow.  The rest was just odds and ends to try to clean up some of the mess.

 

I won't change the blade and cut any more until after the Studio Tour, which is a mere ten days away.  Today's cuts will probably yield enough to fill at least one small tumbler barrel, which I'll start tomorrow.

 

The weather forecast for the Tour -- which is a mere ten days away now! -- has been rather iffy.  A few days ago, the prediction was for rain all that week-end, which would have been a catastrophe after the previous show also got rained out.  The outlook has improved, however, so that now we're supposed to be mostly sunny with a high around 70.  We'll see if that holds up.

 

I have considered just leaving everything set up for the next week-end as well, and just put a few signs out to see if it draws any drop-in traffic.  I wouldn't be out anything, and I could just sit out there and make jewelry . . . or write. 

 

(And yes, I know there shouldn't be an apostrophe on the first "Artists." I had already corrected the LACK of such on the second, but the people putting the map together are dumber than my rocks, and I've frankly just gotten tired of holding their hands on this shit.  I've also told them every year to leave off my phone number since I won't answer calls from any number I don't recognize, but again, dumber than rocks.  I give up.)

 

A mini purge

I've been watching the discussion posts about spammers, and I've been keeping an eye on my followers.  On Monday, I purged 65 spam/bot followers.  Today (Wednesday) I purged four more.

 

I'm not purging old followers who haven't been active; I don't know if they're still reading my posts or have written off BookLikes completely.  They were active once and might be again.

 

But these new accounts that have 26 automatic followers and follow no one else, who never shelve books, who don't read or post anything -- they're going to get purged at least once a week, maybe more often.

 

Because reasons.

Well, that was exciting.

 

Nope, not a rock.  A stone, but not a rock.

 

 

A hailstone!

 

We just had a brief (10-minute) but torrential rain with hail, most dime-size (~1.0 cm) and smaller, but the one I picked up was almost quarter-sized (2.0 cm).

 

There was too much rain and reflection on the front yard, but I did get one shot of the front garden area to show how much hail there was.

 

 

All the white specks are hail.

53,726

I had hoped to reach 53,500 today.  This is good.

 

 

I need to remember that I am writing this one for myself.

 

 

 

 

My "used" copy arrived from ThriftBooks today

Edging Women Out: Victorian Novelists, Publishers, and Social Change - Gaye Tuchman, Nina E. Fortin

The dust jacket's spine is faded, as though this book sat on a sunny shelf for too many years.

 

Other than that, it's virtually new.  Not a single mark anywhere.

Halloween Bingo worked its magic

Whether I finish either of the two books already started -- A Canticle for Liebowitz and The Witch of Blackbird Pond -- is really at this point immaterial.  I only read seven books for the game, but that's almost more than I've read the rest of the year.

 

The past several days have been very discouraging.  I'm good at pretending that all is well, and I can even laugh and have fun when that's not really how I feel. 

 

A couple of weeks ago, my first art show of the season was rained out.  This is my supplemental income, so I felt the pinch pretty hard.  Then last week Moby's trip to the vet took a big bite out of my already trimmed to the bone budget.  Oh, well, it's only money, right?

 

But Moby's stubbornness about getting into and out of the car threw my back into a tizzy.  Not the spasms I've grown so used to that I finally got medication to deal with them.  Oh, no, this was something else.  Slowly, slowly, slowly it's been getting better, but it robbed me of valuable time to prepare for the next art show, our annual open studio tour.  I wanted to spend time on the rock saw cutting more material.  I wanted to sort out more rocks in the workshop.  None of it was possible.

 

Nor could I tackle the yard work needed for the studio tour.  One tree still needs trimming.  Storm debris needs to be cleaned up.  And then there's the dead water heater that BF dragged out by the gate and left there when his knee went out.  It's right in the path visitors take to get to my studio tour exhibit.

 

But I was raised never to make demands, because I wasn't worthy of making demands on anyone else.  It hard to shake that off under the best of circumstances; it's harder when you hit resistance.

 

Last night I gave up on reading.  My back was feeling a lot better and I had finally got some favorable response on what to do about the water heater . . . after my third or fourth request.  I decided maybe I would take a look at one of the two books I have over 50,000 words on but both are stalled.  I began reading in the early afternoon.  I fixed a few small details to conform with a slight alteration I wanted to make in the plot.  When I reached the end, the spot where I'd written some more by hand and then accidentally thrown the notebook pages away, I picked up the thread again.

 

But I was tired.  And my back was hurting again.  So I went to bed with my spiral notebook and pencil, and I scribbled out a couple of paragraphs.  I'm not sure why I picked up the Kindle Fire and posted those two paragraphs on BL, but I did.  Typing on it is a pain, and its autocorrect is the worst in the world.  But when I had finished the two paragraphs, I just kept going.  And going.  And going.  Until my eyes were falling closed even while I was writing.

 

Storms woke the dogs at 3:30 this morning, and then they woke me.  I knew where I wanted to pick up the writing thread, but sleep grabbed me first.  When I woke up again, it was 8:00 and there were errands to run and small but urgent chores to take care of.  Just as I was about to settle down with the laptop and maybe maybe maybe start writing again, someone showed up to help load the dead water heater in the back of my car to take to the recycler.  Half an hour later, another interruption.  And another.

 

It's now 12:30.  Half the day is gone.  But I've copied that late night text to the manuscript file.  I've made some editing changes.  And I've added a little bit, too.

 

In order to write, I need to read.  Halloween Bingo got me back to reading.  Halloween Bingo got me back to writing.

 

52,992.

 

 

 

52,513

Phyllis gave no clue as to what she expected of me.  She knew I couldn't tell one card from another, and she didn't seem to care. As difficult as I found it to believe that she harbored such a callous attitude toward poor Pat and her naked angst, no other explanation made sense.

 

The three cards bore no resemblance to any deck I had ever played Solitaire or any other game with. Instead of red and black hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades, I saw cartoonish drawings of people, some brandishing swords, others surrounded by poles.  How could I offer Pat an answer based on these nonsensical depictions when I didn't even know what her question was?

 

I closed my eyes and hoped for some kind of inspiration

 

"We all receive messages. " I heard my uninspired self saying.  "Some are more meaningful than others.". Generic mumbo jumbo ." what's important now is to pay attention to what everyone tells you--" was I doing this right? "--and not miss the answer when it arrives."

 

I felt dishonest, dirty.  Whatever was causing Pat's distress, she didn't deserve to be lied to like this.  I opened my eyes and reached for the bracelet that lay on the card at the top of the triangle.

 

my fingers never touched the gold circlet.

 

 " there is no good answer, " I whispered.  "You already know that.  The cards indicate travel, as if perhaps that is the only answer."

 

Where were these words coming from?  Oh, I knew my tongue and lips formed them and my lungs have them voice, but they hadn't originated in my cons loud thought processes.  Of that much I was certain.

 

" Are you saying I should leave him? "

 

Well, at least now I had a good idea what her question was.

 

The Conjurer compared, and fails - but fills the Amateur Sleuth square

The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) - Cordelia Frances Biddle

In truth, I skimmed a great deal of the last 20%.  The story itself ended at 89%, with the rest being historical notes and a preview of the next Martha Beale "mystery."

 

I don't watch soap operas and I know next to nothing about Philadelphia social history, so whether or not Cordelia Frances Biddle's name recognition contributed to whatever success this book might have enjoyed is beyond my knowledge.  I don't care, either.  As far as I'm concerned, the book was an utter failure.

 

The weakness of the plot and the unlikeability of the characters brought the rating down to two stars at absolute best.  The present tense narrative dropped it another full point.  At the moment it's sitting at one-star but that may not hold.

 

Martha Beale, daughter and heiress to Lemuel Beale, is part of 1840s Philadelphia society.  That set seems to have little to recommend it or redeem it of its sins of greed.  At the other end of society, there are the child prostitutes, the beggars, the criminals.  There seems to be nothing in between.

 

And that's where Biddle lost me. 

 

At first, I compared her to Dickens, then a bit later to Hugo.  But they were writing of their own contemporaries and for their contemporaries.  Caleb Carr, author of the New York City-set The Alienist and The Angel of Death, wrote of the past, like Biddle.  So as I compared The Conjurer to the other works, I kept finding less and less to like.

 

I sat back and considered just the element of the mysteries.  Biddle brings in a lot of loose threads to weave her tale, but in doing so, she makes the whole solution more the result of blind chance than of any kind of detecting. Well, blind chance and the utter stupidity of the criminals.

 

That there were so many criminals in the highest circles of society was a bit unrealistic, if only because Biddle didn't show the other side.  Her story was of almost unrelenting depression.

 

There was some hopefulness at the end, but even that was tempered with tragedy, as poor people who tried to do something good were ultimately destroyed. 

 

I'm not inclined to read either of the other two Martha Beale mysteries, though I have them.  I don't need any more of that kind of depressing fare.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 66%.

The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) - Cordelia Frances Biddle

I'm skimming, which means I'm very close to giving up.

 

Others love gruesome horror.  I don't.  It disturbs me, gives me nightmares.

 

The people in this book are awful.  Martha Beale may have some redeeming qualities, but she hasn't really shown them yet.  Thomas Kelman seems to have no condemning qualities, but that's about the best that can be said.  All the others are either despicable or repulsive or just depressing.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 35%.

The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) - Cordelia Frances Biddle

I don't like any of these people.

 

I feel as if I'm reading an assignment, that I should feel somehow uplifted.  I'm feeling only depressed.

 

So far, there is no mystery, other than what did happen to Lemuel Beale.  The problem is that I don't care.  I really don't give a damn.

 

Martha Beale isn't doing a damn thing.  If the author was trying to create anything approaching a determined woman, she'd have done better to read some romance novels written in the past 30 or 40 years.  (Perhaps her experience as a soap opera actress has led her to believe romances and soap operas are the same thing.  They are not.)

 

I'm not sure how much more time I'm going to invest in this.  If it doesn't improve, I may not make it to 50%

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 31%.

The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) - Cordelia Frances Biddle

I don't think I'm liking this book.

 

Except for the annoying present tense, it's quite Dickensian, but without the original Victorian acerbity.  Dickens was preaching to people who didn't know any better and who were contemporaneous with the events he depicted.  Biddle, on the other hand, offers a critique of a city and way of life that are safely in the past.  The taint cannot possibly reach all the way from 1842 to . . . . today.  Thank goodness.

 

 

Reading progress update: I've read 21%.

The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) - Cordelia Frances Biddle

The present tense narration annoys the hell out of me.  It's so annoying that I keep back ing out of the story.

 

Philadelphia in 1842 has many ugly facets.  They occupy most of the pages.  When the scene shifts to wealthy Philadelphia, the ugliness is different but no less ugly.

 

Lemuel Beale, father of Martha, has disappeared.

 

A young girl prostitute has been brutally murdered.

 

Two persons guilty of the heinous crime of being different are in the squalid jail.

 

The rich are different.

Reading progress update: I've read 10%.

The Conjurer (Martha Beale Mysteries) - Cordelia Frances Biddle

A departure from the gothic trove.

 

I picked up three of these Martha Beale Mysteries when Open Road Media was passing out freebies a couple years ago.

 

Disclosure:  I do not know the author nor have I ever communicated with her about this book or any other matter.  I am an author of historical and contemporary romance fiction and assorted non-fiction.

 

Cordelia Frances Biddle was hitherto unknown to me, but she is hardly unknown to the world.  While I'm not attuned to her Roman Catholicism, we may apparently have certain other philosophies in common.  http://www.cordeliafrancesbiddle.com/page3/index.html

 

The Martha Beale books are set in 1840s Philadelphia, so I'm looking forward to exploring new territory.

 

I'm not sure where this will work into Halloween Bingo, but I'll figure out a spot for it one way or another!

Halloween Bingo - Southern Gothic

Houses of Stone - Barbara Michaels

I started this re-read a few weeks ago in anticipation of a buddy read that kind of fizzled.  Hey, it happens.

 

My objective was to solve the last lingering puzzle - for me - that a dozen readings had left unsolved. 

 

The same had happened with Michaels' Be Buried in the Rain. I must have read it ten times or more before I finally found the missing clue that answered the last question.

 

Houses of Stone retains its secret.  

 

I've read most of Michaels' gothics, and I have to say they're hit or miss with me.  Houses of Stone, despite many readings, is pretty much a hit.  It has its problems, and there's still the issue of one unsolved mystery, but I enjoy the story and I enjoy the characters.

 

Professor Karen Holloway has come into possession of a mysterious 19th century manuscript of a novel by an unidentified woman author.  The physical manuscript is damaged and missing some pages, but Karen has staked her academic reputation on both deciphering the fading script and identifying the author.

 

Her partner in adventure is Professor Margaret "Peggy" Finneyfrock, one of my favorite sidekick/mastermind characters of all time.  This story would be nothing without her.

 

The rest of the supporting characters are great, too.  Michaels isn't afraid to poke a little fun at the stereotype of romantic hero, but she doesn't rob him of all his dignity either.  She does, however, strip away the polite facades of many other stereotypes and does so with almost fiendish glee.

 

Set in the Virginia Tidewater region, this fits the Southern Gothic Halloween Bingo square.

DNF at 35 pages. Not even for Halloween Bingo will I read this racist shit

— feeling angry
Isle of the Undead - Virginia Coffman

By page 35, I had too many reasons not to read further.

 

I disliked the main character, Leslie, with a passion, and not just because she was a wealthy blonde American.  I'm not sure why she put up with her husband's numerous infidelities, but she did.  Now he thinks he's dying, and even if he's not actually dying he's certainly very ill, but she goes blithely off to some kind of reception for which she has not only had a new dress made, but new underwear, too. 

 

The evil people are all people of color, including the half-Japanese doctor. 

 

Leslie flirts, or maybe does more than flirt, without qualms.

 

Leslie seems to be unable to persuade her husband to leave the island or even follow traditional medical advice, but in fact she controls the purse-strings.  All she'd have to do is say, "Hey, Sir Tony, I'm not going to continue to pay for this nonsense.  We're leaving."

 

The book was first published in 1969.