Terse and to the point!

No zombies. No vampires. No angels. No self-help. No horror.



Definitely light reading



but I have added so much non-fiction of late that I just need some brain candy, something I can read without feeling the need to analyze or digest. Mental floss. In one ear and out the other.

Currently Reading

The House with a Clock in Its Walls audiobook cover art


Time to switch to fiction for a while. After back to back Great Courses, I need something that I can listen to without thinking.


Not that I was bored but because I didn't want to stop listening, I fell asleep listening to the book. When I awoke some time later, it wasn't George Guidall talking at me and I had no idea what was going on. I slept right through the end of the book. So I rewound and started listening again and once again I fell asleep before the exciting denouement. Tonight, I'm going to choose one of my re-reads, then it won't matter if I sleep through two or three hours of text. Maybe Frederica....


FINISHED!! Moving on.



UPDATE: Jan 14:



Sadly a couple of my recent acquisitions are not on AmazonUK and all my attempts to find them on the BL DB have failed. The House with a Clock in the Walls is one of them and my next read is another. Hence, my own little "currently reading."


  The Perfectionists audiobook cover art


I grabbed a book by Simon Winchester called The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World. The reason it isn't found on the AmazonUK is that Winchester published under a different title in the UK. The book is called Exactly: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World if you are shopping in the UK. Personally, I prefer the UK title. I wonder what else is different between the two.



0 Stars
Great Courses: The American West
The American West: History, Myth, and Legacy - The Great Courses, The Great Courses, Patrick N. Allitt, Patrick N. Allitt


What I love most about Professor Allitt is that he is a Brit teaching American history to Americans. He has no baggage, nothing to defend and he has no qualms about telling it like it is. Manifest destiny and the taming of the West is sadly our contribution to the list of genocides and Allitt reminds us of this. He explains but he does not apologize for or attempt to justify the actions and behavior of those who settled the West. His lectures are rich with reading from primary sources, particularly journals.

2019 Reading List

 Cumulative hours: 79:39



  1. The Spies That Bind --NEW6
  2. The Perfectionist -- NEW5
  3. Out of My Mind -- NEW4
  4. The House with a Clock in Its Walls -- NEW3
  5. Great Courses: Ancient Civilizations of North America --NEW2 HISTORY2
  6. Great Courses: The American West -- NEW1  HISTORY1
  7. Frederica - re-read
  8. The Foundling -- re-read
  9. Flying Finish -- re-read


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Copyright by owner

In the Audible 2-for-1 Sale Pile

I just added 6 new titles from the current Christmas week sale  to Mt. TBR 2019. I wanted to spend all 6 credits --and add 12 new titles -- but in the end I was lucky to find 6 titles that grabbed me enough to want to read them. But, sometimes they add titles toward the end of the sale and I'll check again before it ends.



In the meantime, the librarians are going to have a busy week because I am adding books to my shelves and every single one of them will need some sort of update in DB.




Preparing Mt. TBR for 2019




I've been shopping the sales and stockpiling titles in anticipation of the new year.

2018 Books -- 183 and counting
  1. Faro's Daughter -- re-read
  2. The Far Country -- re-read
  3. False Colours -- re-read
  4. Even Money -- re-read
  5. Enquiry -- re-read
  6. Born a Crime -- NEW84
  7. Lady Windemere's Fan  -- NEW83
  8. Hot Money -- re-read
  9. Driving Force --re-read
  10. Dick Francis's Bloodline --re-read
  11.  Devil's Cub -- re-read
  12. Decider -- re-read
  13. A Serpent's Tooth -- NEW82
  14. Trial Run -- re-read
  15. Skinny Dip -- re-read
  16. Safe Passage --re-read
  17. Paris in the Present Tense -- NEW81
  18. Dead Heat -- re-read
  19. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper -- NEW80
  20. The Rags of Time -- NEW79
  21. Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets --NEW78
  22. Noir -- NEW77
  23. Hogfather -- NEW76
  24. The Goodbye Girl -- NEW75
  25. The Cold Dish -- NEW74
  26. American Dialogue -- NEW73 History12
  27. The House of Unexpected Sisters -- NEW72
  28. Have A Nice Play -- NEW71
  29. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People -- re-read
  30. The Danger -- re-read
  31. Crossfire - re-read
  32. Cotillion -- re-read
  33. The Corinthian -- re-read
  34. A Convenient Marriage --re-read
  35. Come to Grief-- re-read
  36. A Civil Contract -- re-read
  37. The Chequer Board -- re-read
  38. Charity Girl -- re-read
  39. The House of Broken Angels --NEW70
  40. The Breaking Wave -- re-read
  41. Break In -- re-read
  42. Hi, Bob -- NEW69
  43. The Queen -- NEW68
  44. Bolt -- re-read
  45. Blood Sport -- re-read
  46. Black Sheep - re-read
  47. How Language Began -- NEW67
  48. The Boston Girl -- NEW66
  49. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd -- NEW65
  50. Titan --NEW64  HISTORY12
  51. Five Presidents -- NEW63  HISTORY11
  52. The Black Moth -- re-read
  53. Beyond the Black Stump --re-read
  54. Behold, Here's Poison -- re-read
  55. Bath Tangle -- re-read
  56. Emma -- NEW62 DNF
  57. English History Made Brief, Irreverent, and Pleasurable -- NEW61 HISTORY10
  58. Uncommon Type -- NEW60
  59. Banker --re-read
  60. Arabella -- re-read
  61. April Lady -- re-read
  62. One-Way Tickets -- NEW59
  63. My Adventures with God -- NEW58
  64. Master of Formalities -- NEW57
  65. A Week in Winter -- NEW56
  66. Romeo and Juliet: A novel -- NEW55
  67. Great Courses: 12 Essential Scientific Concepts -- NEW54 DNF
  68. Someday the Rabbi Will Leave --NEW53
  69. Single Malt Murder --NEW52
  70. Great Courses: Science Wars --NEW51
  71. Sacre Bleu --NEW50
  72. Great Courses: Heroes and Legends
  73. Lane -- NEW49
  74. Four Princes --NEW48 HISTORY9
  75. Steambath -- NEW47
  76. Prisioner on 2nd Avenue -- NEW46
  77. Great Courses: Classical Mythology -- NEW45
  78. Great Courses: America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era -- NEW44 HISTORY8
  79. Adam's Rib -- NEW43
  80. The Accidental President --NEW42 HISTORY7
  81. The Secret, Book and Scone Society --NEW41
  82. Great Course: The Rise and Fall of the British Empire -- NEW40 HISTORY6
  83. Lion (aka A Long Way Home) -- NEW39
  84. The Third Man -- re-read
  85. No Higher Honor -- re-read
  86. Eisenhower in War and Peace -- re-read 
  87. The Secret Life of Pronouns -- re-read
  88. What's So Funny -- re-read
  89. 10 LB. Penalty -- re-read
  90. Whip Hand --re-read
  91. Venetia --re-read
  92. The Unknown Ajax -- re-read
  93. The Unfinished Clue -- re-read 
  94. Twice Shy -- re-read
  95. Trustee from the Toolroom -- re-read
  96. Trial Run -- re-read
  97. The Toll Gate --re-read
  98. To the Hilt -- re-read
  99. These Old Shades -- re-read
  100. The Talisman Ring -- re-read
  101. Sylvester, ... --re-read
  102. Sprig Muslin -- re-read
  103. So Disdained -- re-read
  104. Smokescreen --re-read
  105. Shattered -- re-read
  106. Second Wind - re-read
  107. Ruined City -- re-read
  108. Round the Bend -- re-read
  109. Risk -- re-read
  110. The Reluctant Widow -- re-read
  111. Regency Buck --re-read
  112. Reflex -- re-read
  113. Rat Race -- re-read
  114. The Rainbow and the Rose --re-read
  115. The Quiet Gentleman --re-read
  116. Proof -- re-read
  117. Pastoral -- re-read
  118. An Old Captivity -- re-read
  119. Odds Against -- re-read
  120. No Highway -- re-read
  121. Nonesuch -- re-read
  122. Nerve --re-read
  123. The Masqueraders -- re-read 
  124. Longshot --re-read
  125. Lonely Road -- re-read
  126. Landfall -- re-read
  127. Steppenwolf --re-read
  128. Zorba the Greek -- NEW38
  129. The Virginian -- NEW37
  130. Three Men in a Boat... --NEW36
  131. Roughing It -- NEW35
  132. The Railway Children -- NEW34
  133. Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk --NEW33
  134. Lady of Quality -- re-read
  135. In the wet -- re-read
  136. In the Frame -- re-read 
  137. Cider House Rules -- NEW32
  138. Matriarch -- NEW31 HISTORY6
  139. Misbehaving -- NEW30
  140. Cat's Cradle --re-read
  141. All Creatures Great and Small -- NEW29
  142. Pale Blue Dot -- NEW28
  143. Hot Money -- re-read  
  144. High Stakes -- re-read
  145. Friday's Child -- re-read
  146. Frederica -- re-read 
  147. Flying Finish -- re-read
  148. The Wizard of Menlo Park -- NEW27 HISTORY5
  149. On Power -- NEW26
  150. In This Bright Future -- NEW25
  151. Thursday the Rabbi..  -- NEW24
  152. Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet -- NEW23
  153. Code Girls -- NEW22 HISTORY4
  154. The Foundling --re-read
  155. Faro's Daughter -- re-read
  156. If on a Winter's Night a Traveler --NEW21
  157. Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red -- NEW20
  158. The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons -- NEW18
  159. The Secret of Chimneys -- NEW18
  160. A Nun in the Closet -- NEW17
  161. Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness -- NEW16
  162. Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Traveler -- NEW15
  163. Monday the Rabbi Took Off --NEW14
  164. The LIghthouse Keeper -- NEW13
  165. The Great Train Robbery --re-read
  166. The Great Courses: Food -- NEW12 HISTORY3
  167. Cosmos -- NEW11  SCIENCE2
  168. Amadeus -- NEW10
  169. The Far Country -- re-read
  170. False Colours -- re-read
  171. Even Money - re-read
  172. Enquiry -- re-read
  173. Driving Force -- re-read
  174. Dick Francis's Bloodlines -- re-read
  175. The Great Courses: Redefining Reality -- NEW9
  176. The Pun Also Rises -- NEW8
  177. M. Butterfly -- NEW7
  178. A Hologram for the King --NEW6  
  179. The Fountain of Paradise --NEW5
  180. Fire and Rain -- NEW4 -- HISTORY2
  181. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night --NEW3
  182. Consider the Fork -- NEW2   HISTORY1
  183. Consciousness and the Brain: -- NEW1  SCIENCE1 DNF
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24 Festive Tasks: SUMMARY

Many, many thanks to the Magister Ludi of 24 Festive Tasks for another delightful year of fun and games. Looking forward to the 2019 Edition.


This is my final tally.



24 Festive Tasks Point Summary
Tasks:   52          Books: 18
DAY 1 -- 2 + Cotillion (Tasks 1, 4)
DAY 2 -- 3 + ... (1,2,3)
DAY 3 -- 3 + I picked a winner + In the Frame (1,3,4)
DAY 4 -- 2 + The Marriage Bureau for Rich People  (2,3)
DAY 5 -- 2+ Crossfire (1,3)
DAY 6 -- 2 + Paris in the Present Tense (1,2)
DAY 7 -- 2 + The Accidental President  (2,4)
DAY 8 -- 3 + From the Friday the Rabbi Slept Late series  (1,2,4)
DAY 9 -- 3 + The Boston Girl   (2,3,4,)
DAY 10 -- 0 + Skinny Dip
DAY 11 -- 4 +Trial Run  
DAY 12 -- 2 +  ...  ((1,3)
DAY 13-- 0 + Four Princes
DAY 14 -- 3 +  ... (1,2,3)     
DAY 15 --2 + Serpent's Tooth  (1,2)
DAY 16 -- 2 +  ...  (1,2)
DAY 17 -- 1 + ...  (4)
DAY 18 -- 2 + Cold Dish  (1,2)
DAY 19 --  2 +  Noir  (1,4,)
DAY 20 --  0 +
DAY 21 --  1 + The House of the Unexpected Sister  (3)
DAY 22 --  3 +  Hot Money  (1,2,3,)
DAY 23 --  4 + Hogfather  
DAY 24 -- 4 + Safe Passage 
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24 Festive Tasks: Flap 24 - Epiphany (January 6)
Day 24 - Epiphany (January 6): 
Task 1: Tell us: What’s your favorite trilogy?
I have put on my thinking cap and dipped into the well and I have come up dry. I can't think of a single one that I have read and liked well enough (or even remember) to call it a favorite.
Task 2:  Chalking the door is an Epiphany tradition in some places, to bless a home for the coming year.  Different patterns exist, with different meanings.  If you could create your own pattern to bless your house next year, what would it look like?
I'm not clever and I would end up using something already in existence, the peace symbol:   
Task 3: Compile a post containing one image for every gift mentioned / added in each new verse of The Twelve Days of Christmas (lyrics here:
Again not feeling clever but here is one we can all appreciate. 
Task 4: Prepare your favorite spicy dish or holiday drink containing spices and share a photo. Also sharing the recipe is optional but welcome!
I used to love fiery food. Not so much anymore. I like dishes where the herbs and spices enhance the flavors of the ingredients, not attack my mouth with overpowering fire. I would very much like to make the dish I'm offering up here but it serves 6 and we are only 2 and my kids don't like lamb so much (especially my son-in-law and I always make sure to cook things I know he likes). I'm trying to figure out who I can invite to share the dish but in the meantime, I can share the dish with you all. And, the dish is kind of a Middle Eastern dish and that fits with the Magi, so here goes. The key spices for flavor are allspice, sage and cinnamon stick:
  • 2-3 lbs of lamb cut into strips (like for wok cooking)
  • 3 yellow onions slices (not sweet onions if you can help it)
  • 1 small box of raisins (yes, I'm laughing because she means one of those one ounce boxes you used to get in a six pack) --about a 1/4 cup
  • optional 1/2 cup pecans (I don't use them)
  • 2-3 dashes of garlic powder
  • optional 2 tomatoes cut up (I'm lazy and just use a can of dice tomatoes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 cups rice (Mom used Uncle Ben's Converted Rice)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teasppon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • optional chopped parsley
  • 3 cups boiling beef bouillon  (Mom used the cubes
 In a 12 inch skillet (with high sides and a lid), saute the meat and the onions in 2-3 tablespoons oil until the onions are soft and the beef is browned.  Add the rest of the ingredients except the bouillon and the cinnamon, stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the bouillon and the cinnamon, cover and cook on a low light for 25 minutes (or until the rice is cooked and the liquid absorbed. 
Book: Read a book with three main characters; books about traveling on a journey to a faraway place, a book that’s part of a trilogy, with a star on the cover, with the word “twelve” or “night” in the title, or concerning kings or spices.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 23 - Hogswatch (December 32)*
Day 23 - Hogswatch (December 32)*: 
Task 1:  glingleglingleglingle – if you could wish any kind of god(dess) into existence, what would they be in charge of?  Dusting?  Weeding?  We’re not aiming high here… tell us!
Oh, honestly, this one is a no-brainer!! He would be in charge of house cleaning, especially bathrooms.
Task 2: Tell us: Did you or any kids you know ever have a funny or weird (the good sort of weird) encounter with a department store Santa, um, Hogfather?
Man, I was SO shy as a kid that visiting Santa was traumatic!! I wanted to do it and I eagerly got in line but the talking part was impossible. Fortunately my mother pulled the plug on this activity early on.
Task 3: Which children’s myth / mythical character (Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc.) did you never believe in even when you were little?
I fell for them all, hook, line and sinker. My parents were good at it. 
Task 4: Discworld features a number of inventions that mirror our world’s technology but work according to Discworld’s very own specifications; e.g., Hex, the ant-powered sapient thinking machine (computer) and a demon-powered picture box (camera). What other invention from our world would you have liked to see appearing in Discworld and how might it have worked there?
Well, it seems to me that there had to be some sort of GPS but I'm not conversant enough with Discworld to tell you how it would work.
Book:  Anything by Terry Pratchett.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 22 - New Year's Eve (December 31)
Day 22 - New Year's Eve (December 31): 
Task 1:  Your 2019 Book Goals:  what are they?
I want to read 200 books--which is going to be hard to do if I keep buying 35 hour tomes. In that 200, at least 50 new titles, including at least 5 history books and at least 5 theatrical works (in other words, 5 plays from LA Theatre Works) and a couple of science for poets kind of reads. In other words, pretty much the same goals as last year.
Task 2: 2018 Reading Year in Review.  Tell us about your year in books:  happy? disappointed? 
Considering what a lousy start my reading year had, in the end, it didn't turn out too badly. I did notice that I had a lot of DNF's this year. I started both Steppenwolf and Zorba the Greek this year, neither of which I have returned to finish (even though I read Zorba when I was teenager). On the other hand, I did find one more mystery series that I can work my through (Walt Longmire) and  and I did manage to find a couple of books that I thought were very well written and thought provoking (American Dialogue by Joseph Ellis and Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin --both of which appear else where in the 24 tasks for one reason or another). So over all, it has been a good year for reading.
Task 3: New Year’s Book Lottery: Write the names of the first 5 books you’re planning to read in 2019 onto identical pieces of paper, fold them, place them in a bowl (or bucket, jar, box, etc.), and draw one to determine the very first book you’re going to start in the new year.
No lottery need. I like to read new books in alphabetically order because that is how they appear on the iPod "recently added" playlist--saves decision making each time I add new books.  So the winner is:
Task 4: Find a bakery that sells Krapfen (German deep-fried sweet dough dumplings) or make them yourself (recipe here: and enjoy with a glass of champagne or non-alcoholic bubbly drink – but first, take and post a photo of them!


Book: Read a book about endings, new starts, or any book where things go
B O O M !

24 Festive Tasks: Flap 21 - Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1
Day 21 - Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1): 
Task 1: “Africa” was originally the name of the Roman province originating from the North African empire of Carthage, which was mythologically founded by Queen Dido and blossomed into Ancient Rome’s only lasting opponent and nemesis (until it was finally conquered by Rome in the Punic Wars). So: who are your five favorite book heroes and their respective nemeses?
Task 2: In Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, the “Finis Africae” is the hidden center of the labyrinth which constitutes the monastery’s library, protected by a number of intricate, misdirecting devices. Tell us: Where have you recently encountered clever misdirection or a labyrinthine plot in a book?
Task 3: Tell us: If you could travel to Africa (for those living on the African continent: to a part of Africa that you don’t know yet): Where would you want to go?
I want to see Egypt (Pyramids, Abu Simbel, the Nile), Carthage, the Serengetti. I'm not sure I will ever get there but they are on the travel bucket list.
Task 4: Have a meal involving vegetables (= crops) and / or corn, or another form of traditional Kwanzaa dinner. Recipe suggestions here:
Book: Read a book set in Africa or the Caribbean, or by an African, Caribbean, or African-American author, or a book with a green, red, or black cover.
24 Festive Tasks: Flap 20 - Christmas (December 25)
Day 20 - Christmas (December 25): 
Task 1:  Post a picture of your Christmas decorations.
Task 2: Tell us: If you could share Christmas dinner with any author (dead or alive), who would it be?
Task 3: Watch a favorite Christmas movie.
  Just as soon as I get the TV to myself!
Task 4: Create or recreate a short text relating to Christmas (poem, carol, wish list, season’s greetings, etc.) from the titles of books on your bookshelves.
Book:  Um, Christmas books …