Monday, 10 December 2012

Monday Mania- A Bit of a Catch Up

The past week has been pretty much an assortment of puzzles, bike rides, Penguin collecting and reading.

The puzzle was a 1000 piece jigsaw of USA national parks my sister gave me awhile back. I finally pulled it out of the closet and put it together.  I find assembling jigsaws a good thing to do while listening to an audio book.

I am currently listening to the completely unabridged audio book of Moby Dick.  So far I am enjoying it but am only on chapter 10.  It has a lot of humour in it that surprised me. For some reason I didn't think of it as being very funny in parts but it is. But it is getting a bit more serious now as he has just launched out to sea. Lots left to yet happen.

I finished a 'fluffy" crime novel, Bones are Forever by Kathy Reichs.  I began reading her books years ago when she published her first novel, Deja Dead in 1997.    Her character Temperance Brennan is an American forensic anthropologist who spends a great deal of time between crime labs in North Carolina, USA and Montreal, Canada.  I particularly enjoy the time when she is in Montreal as it is such an interesting city.

I recently read a review from someone who stated if you want to learn about a locale's geography be sure to read crime books located in the area. This story takes place, for the most part in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of north-western Canada and I found the characters, especially their names fun and interesting.  This town is a bit out of her mainstream locations.  I think most crime books are written to a formula and although this one was a bit predictable I still enjoyed the people and the places.  However she generally has a bit more about her character's personal life regarding her grown daughter and her on again/off again love interest. Not much in this book about either of them this time and I found I missed that.  But a quick entertaining read and better than anything that was on t.v. that night. There actually is a television series based on her books but I never watch it. I can't tolerate American mainstream television.

The next book I read was a vintage Penguin from my collection called The Lost Stradivarius by J. Meade Falkner.  It was originally published in 1895 and Penguin Books published it as book number 487 in 1946, just after World War II.

The story is narrated by Sophia Maltravers who was the sister to her late brother, John Maltravers, who was father to her nephew, Sir Edward Maltravers, upon the death of his father. (Wow! say that fast three times!)  It was his wish that his son Edward knew about certain events which occurred in his last years upon Edward coming of age.

Her story begins of a young John who is an Oxford student of music who discovers every time he plays a particular piece of music, The Gagliarda (Italian) that a wicker chair in his student room creaks and moves a bit. His friend, Mr. Gaskell who accompanies him on the piano is also shown the creaking and movement of the chair when he arrives to play.  They play other music but the 'ghost'  only seems to be interested in this one piece of music.

Running parallel to this tale the young John is also quite taken by Constance Temple, a young woman he eventually marries.

However nothing is ever simple in an old Penguin book and we find John becoming more and more obsessed with the mysterious Gagliarda and the ghost. It isn't long before he actually sees the man who appears from making sounds to an appearance as he disappears through a wall one evening.

One day John is rearranging his student room and moves a book case finding an old door in the wall. Upon opening the door he finds a very old Stradivarius violin that we eventually learn was one of the very first ones ever made and it was made for an ancestor of Constance, a man known as Adrian Temple.

There is a large portrait of Adrian Temple with music written on a scroll in the background that John discovers is in fact the Gagliarda.

As our story continues John becomes more and more obsessed with the late Adrian Temple, so much in fact he travels to Italy, buys a villa and from there the story completely unwinds into total silliness.

He discards everything important in his life and leaves behind family members who love him but are completely unable to connect with this poor shell of a man who has become insane with his obsession of Adrian Temple.

I found this story quite entertaining and enjoyed reading it because although I thought I could predict what would happen I was never completely sure.  The characters were well described to the point I'd know them if I ran into them on the street. At times I had to flip back a few pages to see that what was being described as happening actually was the case. The section where he is living in Italy became a bit confused but was easily sorted upon revisiting a couple of pages. I enjoyed this book but then I am easily able to suspend all belief when reading most things and it was necessary to do this with this book.

Upon finding Adrian's final resting place in Italy that just happens to be in the villa John bought, he speaks to his visiting sister:
"He described it,"my brother continued, "as a long hall with an arcade of arches running down one side, of the fantastic Gothic of the Renaissance. At the end was a gallery or balcony for the musicians, which on its front carried a coat of arms." I remembered this perfectly (from the portrait of Adrian Temple back in England)  and told John so, adding that the shield bore a cherub's head fanning three lilies on a golden field.  

"It is strange," John went on, "that the description of a scene which our friend thought a mere effort of his own imagination has impressed itself so deeply on both our minds. But the picture which he drew was more than a fancy, for we are at this minute in the very hall of his dream. 

My final book of the week I finished up with was a very light silly romance from the Virgin River series by Robyn Carr. I read somewhere in a blog that somebody (sorry I forget) enjoyed this series so I checked it out from the library.  It takes place in the mountainous area of redwood trees in northern California. I immediately enjoyed the location very  much and the people are all likeable, the men are perfect, even the crooks have a moral code and all the women become friends who are supportive of everyone. It is a story of a practising nurse/midwife living in Los Angeles who finds herself suddenly widowed as her husband has inadvertently walked in on an armed robbery in a local convenience store and been shot to death. 
Taking her grief she flees to a remote area in the mountains to work with a cranky old doctor who doesn't want her there and falls in love with the local bartender. And so it goes.  It was fun to read it in the mornings when waking up too early and not wanting to get out of bed yet.  Everyone in it makes you feel good and therefore starting the day knowing the world is all right. I don't think though I could bear to read the entire series in what I think may be 5 books all located in this same area. 

Well that is my week of activity having finished up the weekend with a 300 kms motorbike ride to the central highlands of Tasmania in strong winds with the Ulysses Motorbike club I belong to. It was a beautiful day with good friends, who all support each other and everyone is a really nice person. Oh no, did I just describe Virgin River?? Anyway that is an account of some of the good things that happened during the week. So on we go to the next.


  1. What a great idea, to assemble a jigsaw puzzle while listening to an audiobook! Will have to try that the next time I attempt a puzzle. :)

    1. I really enjoy it. Working two parts of my brain at once! haha

  2. I wouldn't have expected humor in Moby Dick either!

    The "Bones" TV series has nothing in common with the books except Tempe Brennan's name and her profession. I enjoyed the first couple of seasons and then it just got silly.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Agree with you very much on both counts!

  3. I heard The Lost Stradivarius on the radio, years ago, but have never found the book. I remember it being quite eerie and disturbing, very different to Moonfleet, which is a rattling good adventure.

    1. Nice to hear from you Christine. Yes the book is very eerie in parts. I found the first half of it a bit spookier than the second half.

  4. My favorite thing about each post is the little themed penguin. After seeing so many my curiosity has got the better of me - How DO you do them? Would love to see them all together in a post

    1. The themed penguins are my inner child trying to draw which I am not great at. So I use the Penguin logo and change it a bit and then use the paint or Corel art program and just draw clothes on them. I think it's a lot of fun and some turn out better than others.

  5. Replies
    1. Glad you like the little Penguins. My inner child having a bit of fun trying to draw and colour w/ a mouse!


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