It’s Time for R.I.P. XIV

It’s THAT time of year again! Time for the annual Readers Imbibing Peril book challenge celebrating all things spooky and mysterious! This is the 14th year for this Fall festival of fun reading, and I’m so excited to participate again.

Here’s how it works:

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

  • Mystery.
  • Suspense.
  • Thriller.
  • Dark Fantasy.
  • Gothic.
  • Horror.
  • Supernatural.
The emphasis is never on the word challenge, instead it is about coming together as a community and embracing the autumnal mood, whether the weather is cooperative where you live or not.

The goals are simple.  

1. Have fun reading.
2. Share that fun with others.

There are different ways to participate by choosing which “PERIL” you want.  You can choose PERIL the First;  PERIL the Second;  PERIL the Third;  PERIL of the Short Story;  PERIL on the Screen;  PERIL of the Review.   Click here to see the descriptions of each of these PERILS.

MY PLAN:

This year, I am choosing both PERIL the First, and PERIL on the Screen. That means I will be reading a minimum of 4 books and watching some movies. Because I love this genre, I have an endless list of books on my bookshelves that will fit nicely for the PERIL I have chosen. And my husband and I love a good film festival, so for my PERIL on the Screen, we will be watching as many Agatha Christie movies/TV series as we can.

So check back here from time to time in September and October to see what I have added to my list of books read and movies watched!

Have fun everybody!

BOOKS I READ and MOVIES I WATCHED FOR THIS CHALLENGE:

PERIL the FIRST:

  1. The Lost One, by Mary Stewart
  2. The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  3. Christmas in Absaroka County, by Craig Johnson
  4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Religious Body, by Catherine Aird
  6. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten
  7. The Case of the Famished Parson, by George Bellairs
  8. The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier
  9. .

PERIL on the SCREEN:

  1. 4:50 From Paddington, (1987) starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple. Hubby and I watched it as a welcome to the beginning of my R.I.P.-XIV Peril on the Screen. It was very good and quite true to the book. I love Joan Hickson as Miss Marple!
  2. Murder at the Gallop, (1963) starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. When I was growing up, my parents took us to see all the old Agatha Christie movies that came to town. I remember Margaret Rutherford from way back when!
  3. The Mirror Crack’d, (1980) starring Angela Lansbury as Miss Marple. I liked Angela Lansbury in this film, and it was fun to see so many Hollywood greats in the cast — Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, Geraldine Chaplin. However, it was so Hollywood-ish that it put me off a bit. Definitely not my favorite Agatha Christie movie!
  4. Murder Most Foul, (1964) starring Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. Another fun mystery with a lot of humor.

…Arthur Rackham

Emmanuel’s Dream

Emmanuel’s Dream: the True Story of Emmanuel Osofu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson, tells the story of a boy from Ghana who was born with a deformed leg. He lived in a time and place where there were no rights for people with disabilities, but his mother did not want his disability to define his life. She encouraged his independence, and instilled in him a drive to succeed and to live his life with no “disability.”

Even as a young child, Emmanuel showed great creativity and courage in how he made adaptations that would help him to do the things he wanted to do. He joined in the neighborhood soccer play with the other children by making some makeshift crutches and doing things with only one leg that were hard for those with two legs! They soon developed a great respect for him. When he wanted to learn how to ride a bike, they helped him. Riding a bike would become an important part of his adult life.

As he grew, Life was never easy for him. His mother became very ill when he was thirteen and he left home for the city to find a job that would help his family. At first no one would hire him because of his disability, but he persisted and did find work. Two years later, at Christmastime, he returned home to care for his dying mother. Her last words to him have guided him through the rest of his life!

“Be respectful, take care of your family, don’t ever beg. And don’t give up!”

Emmanuel had a big dream. He wanted to ride a bike all around Ghana sharing his message with everyone — that disabled does not mean unable!  He wrote to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, in San Diego, California, asking for help to make his dream come true. They sent him a bike, helmet, and all the gear he needed, and he trained and started his long ride. He rode nearly 400 miles in ten days, and talked with everyone he met, including farm workers, government officials, and reporters. He became an inspiration to all and a national hero.

In his own words: “In this world, we are not perfect. We can only do our best.”

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book that takes place in Ghana.

Currently Reading: At Seventy

May Sarton’s books have been part of almost all of my adult life. I discovered and read Journal of a Solitude when I was a young mother. And then, over the years, read most of her journals, some of her fiction, and much of her poetry. This year, I turned seventy and am celebrating it with a year-long reading festival of books related to Seventy, so I happily added her journal, At Seventy, to the top of my reading list. I’m reading it slowly, savoring some of the wonderful passages like the one below, and simply enjoying  being with May Sarton again at age seventy!

What is it like to be seventy? If someone else had lived so long and could remember things sixty years ago with great clarity, she would seem very old to me. But I do not feel old at all, not as much a survivor as a person still on her way. I suppose real old age begins when one looks backward rather than forward, but I look forward with joy to the years ahead and especially to the surprises that any day may bring.

 

I am reading this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old.

 

A Small Place


A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid, is only 81 pages long, but it hits with a powerful impact. The “small place” is Antigua, the country in which she grew up and describes as being nine miles wide and twelve miles long. With sardonic humor and a laser-precision of words, she reveals the devastating effects of colonialism, slavery, and tourism on this tiny country.

The Antigua that I knew, the Antigua in which I grew up, is not the Antigua you, a tourist, would see now. That Antigua no longer exists. That Antigua no longer exists partly for the usual reason, the passing of time, and partly because the bad-minded people who used to rule over it, the English, no longer do so.

With incising wit, she reveals the personal toll of the subjugation of the people of Antigua, and the racism and corruption they were and are still faced with on a daily basis, even though now “self-governed.” The “masters” from colonial times, she calls “human rubbish,” and the slaves, she calls “noble and exalted.” And it becomes clear that this beautiful but troubled country continues to struggle with its tortured past and it’s difficult path to self-government.

Here is how she describes Antigua and the people of Antigua today:

Eventually, the masters left, in a kind of way; eventually, the slaves were freed, in a kind of way. The people in Antigua now, the people who really think of themselves as Antiguans (and the people who would immediately come to your mind when you think about what Antiguans might be like; I mean, supposing you were to think about it), are the descendants of those noble and exalted people, the slaves. Of course, the whole thing is, once you cease to be a master, once you throw off your master’s yoke, you are no longer human rubbish, you are just a human being, and all the things that adds up to. So, too, with the slaves. Once they are no longer slaves, once they are free, they are no longer noble and exalted; they are just human beings.

As I said at the beginning of this review, this was a very powerful read. I was fascinated by Jamaica Kincaid’s style of writing in this book. Sardonic, bitter, hard-hitting and very effective in helping the reader really understand the long-term devastating impacts on the country of Antigua of colonialism, slavery, post-independence corruption, and racism. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like the little book before, and I admire the power of this writer’s words.

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book about Antigua.

 

I also read this book as part of my year-long celebration of turning 70 years old. Jamaica Kincaid was born in the same year as me, 1949!  Happy 70th Birthday year to you, too, Ms. Kincaid!

Wise Words from Eleanor H. Porter

Eleanor H. Porter, author of Pollyanna

“What men and women need is encouragement. Their natural resisting powers should be strengthened, not weakened…. Instead of always harping on a man’s faults,tell him of his virtues. Try to pull him out of his rut of bad habits. Hold up to him his better self, his REAL self that can dare and do and win out! … The influence of a beautiful, helpful, hopeful character is contagious, and may revolutionize a whole town…. People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts. If a man feels kindly and obliging, his neighbors will feel that way, too, before long.But if he scolds and scowls and criticizes—his neighbors will return scowl for scowl, and add interest! … When you look for the bad, expecting it, you will get it. When you know you will find the good—you will get that…”

~ Eleanor H. Porter

Island Treasures

Island Treasures, by Alma Flor Ada, is a collection of two of her books, Where the Flame Trees Bloom, and Under the Royal Palms, plus a new set of stories called “Days at La Quinta Simoni.”

I read the two books that are included in this collection many years ago, and I read this new collection in February of this year but didn’t review it. A few weeks ago, I found that it was available as an audiobook on Audible, so I downloaded it and listened to it. What a lovely way to experience this book! The narrator, Trini Alvarado, is absolutely perfect! She has a beautiful voice for both reading and singing! It was fun to hear the little songs included in the book…a wonderful addition to the experience of reading these beautifully written stories.

from the publisher:

The author of My Name Is Maria Isabel offers an inspiring look at her childhood in Cuba in this collection that includes “Where the Flame Trees Bloom”, “Under the Royal Palms”, five new stories, and more. These true autobiographical tales from renowned Hispanic author and educator Alma Flor Ada are filled with family love and traditions, secrets and deep friendships, and a gorgeous, moving picture of the island of Cuba, where Alma Flor grew up.

Told through the eyes of a child, a whole world comes to life in this audio: the blind great-grandmother who never went to school but whose wisdom and generosity overflowed to those around her; the hired hand, Samone, whose love for music overcame all difficulties; the beloved dance teacher who helped sustain young Alma Flor through a miserable year in school; her dear and daring Uncle Medardo, who bravely flew airplanes; and more.

Heartwarming, poignant, and often humorous, this wonderful collection encourages listeners to discover the stories in their own lives – and to celebrate the joys and struggles we all share, no matter where or when we grew up.

I discovered Alma Flor Ada’s work while I was teaching because one of her picture books for young readers was included in our second grade reading text. My students and I both loved the story, and I followed up my own interest by researching the author. I discovered a dedicated educator, wonderful award-winning writer, and delightful human being!  And I found a treasure trove of stories for young and old!

about Alma Flor Ada (from her Amazon page):

Alma Flor Ada, Pro­fes­sor Emerita at the Uni­ver­sity of San Fran­cisco, has devoted her life to advo­cacy for peace by pro­mot­ing a ped­a­gogy ori­ented to per­sonal real­iza­tion and social jus­tice. A for­mer Rad­cliffe Scholar at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity and Ful­bright Research Scholar she is an inter­na­tion­ally re-known speaker and the author of numer­ous children’s books of poetry, nar­ra­tive, folk­lore and non fic­tion. Her books have received pres­ti­gious awards; among many: Christo­pher Medal (The Gold Coin), Pura Bel­pré Medal (Under the Royal Palms), Once Upon a World (Gath­er­ing the Sun), Par­ents’ Choice Honor (Dear Peter Rab­bit), NCSS and CBC Notable Book (My Name is María Isabel). She is also the author of a book of mem­oirs, Vivir en dos idiomas, two nov­els for adults, En clave de sol and A pesar del amor, and sev­eral pro­fes­sional books for edu­ca­tors, includ­ing A Mag­i­cal Encounter: Latino Children’s Lit­er­a­ture in the Class­room, as well as a wealth of edu­ca­tional mate­ri­als. Her work, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with F. Isabel Cam­poy in pro­mot­ing author­ship in stu­dents, teach­ers, and par­ents is the con­tent of their book Authors in the Class­room: A Trans­for­ma­tive Edu­ca­tion Process. Alma Flor Ada has been awarded the Amer­i­can Edu­ca­tion Research Asso­ci­a­tion [AERA] His­panic Issues Award for Research in Ele­men­tary, Sec­ondary and Post­sec­ondary Edu­ca­tion and the Cal­i­for­nia Asso­ci­a­tion for Bilin­gual Edu­ca­tion [CABE] Life Long Award. She has received the Virginia Hamilton Award, for her body of work, as well as the OHTLI Recognition from the Mexican Government for her support of Mexican communities abroad.

These stories are full of beauty and wisdom and poignant memories of growing up in Cuba. Each one is a little gem.  I have my copies of Where the Flame Trees Bloom, and Under the Royal Palms, that I bought years ago. Now I have the audiobook of Island Treasures, and I have ordered a hardcopy of the book, as well. Alma Flor Ada has a special place on my bookshelves and in my heart!

Please read my review from 2008 of her book Where the Flame Trees Bloom. (And if you read the comments to that post, you will see that after I published it, she wrote me a sweet note!)

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book based on a true story from Cuba.

Subtle Alterations

 

But day by day there are slight changes, subtle alterations in shape, in the mood of the season, it is as though everything is slipping and sliding very gradually downhill, like some great high hayrick sinking softly into itself as it dries. The year has turned and it is autumn, though we do not fully acknowledge it.

~ from The Magic Apple Tree, by Susan Hill

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens, by Virginia Woolf, is a beautifully written story. Someone described it as almost an impressionist painting, but in words. I would agree with that description! It was a self-published work, printed by the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press and illustrated with woodcuts by Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf’s sister.

The story is simple, but the writing quite complex. It begins with an intricate description of one of the oval flower beds at Kew Gardens. It’s almost as if you were lying down on the grass looking at the flower bed from ground level and noticing every minute detail of the flowers, the structures, the colors, the life (including a snail) in this flower bed. And then people start walking past, and as if the snail (and thus you) were listening to everything said, you overhear parts of conversations of the different human beings passing by. It’s really quite fun and interesting to hear those snatches of conversation! We are all listeners of such things.

The beauty of the flowers, the leisurely enjoyment of the garden by the passersby, and the quiet glimpses into the lives of those people make for a fascinating and enjoyable afternoon in Kew Gardens!  I loved it!

 

 

I read this book as one of my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.