Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes December 21, 2013

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

Dear Internet,

Reading

cocainebluesCocaine Blues: Phryne Fisher Mysteries #1 by Kerry Greenwood
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

The first book in a long series that inspired the show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, is currently available for free on the Kindle via Amazon. Since I had become obsessed with the show, it seemed natural to check in on the book series to see how it lived up.

TV and book series are pretty on par with the other. Action is high, Phryne is pretty similar in both medias, and but the character development. with the exception of Phryne, in the book series is lacking whereas the TV series feels more well thought out. Phryne is a very visual character, her frocks and accessories are very detailed in the books, as is more of her backstory is explained, but the rest of the book characters seem kind of stale in comparison to their TV counterparts. I know there had been some complaints about Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (secondary character in the books, primary in the series) and the changing of some events in the book series to the TV version actually made the storyline slightly better and still satisfying.

While I found development of the characters a bit weak, the storyline seemed abrupt at times, I am rating this a 4/5 for technique, research, and content. I also loved how Greenwood walks you through elements of the mystery without spoon feeding them to you, which is echoed in the TV version as well.

Very enjoyable and fast read. Highly recommended.

dodgerDodger by Terry Pratchett
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

A departure from Discworld, Sir TPerry takes us on a romp through the early days of Victorian London, where Charles Dickens is a journalist prowling the underbelly of streets, Prince Albert is still alive, and we’re introduced to a wealth of characters that seem almost unreal and yet, they very much are.

As most of you know, I’m a huge fan of Sir TPerry, but this book was hit or miss for me. The backstories of early Victorian London, the dialogue, the slang, the characters were all true to life. While I appreciated the nod to Dickensian themes and word styling, but there still felt like something was detached and it’s driving me crazy that I cannot put my finger on it. I read this in spurts of 50-75 pages, putting it down, and then picking it up months later for another 50-75 page spurt. The last spurt happened in a 1.5 hour long bath because I was desperate to finally finish it.

This book would be  a great companion to anyone interested in a fantasy set in reality (as Sir PTerry puts it) of early Victorian Age or who wants to get into Dickens without reading Dickens. Sir PTerry is a great storyteller and that is still evident here and while I feel he was incredibly passionate about Dodger and his companions, the magic was slightly off and a bit hard to swallow.

thisyearyouwriteThis Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

I’m going to disagree with much of the middling and negative reviews about this title.

If you’re serious about writing, why would you dismiss something that would and could be of great help to you? Especially from someone who is as esteemed as Walter Mosley? Doesn’t that seem ridiculous?

Like most writers, I collect, read, thumb, and tag writing reference titles to keep on hand and to get guidance. Mosley’s title was recommend to me from an artist friend who thought its straight to the point advice given in bite sized allotments would be attractive to me and he was right.

Sure, yes, you can listen to CBC Writers and Company (one of the best writing podcasts out there), subscribe to a zillion magazines and newsletters, and read blogs and websites to get advice. But while some of that information is helpful and at times useful, distilling through the noise to get to the actual meat of matter is exhausting. This is why Mosley’s works is important – it gets rid of all the high falutin pretentious twaddle that seems to crop up in most writing manuals and advice how-tos and gives you the real deal.

snobberywithviolence

Snobbery with Violence by Marion Chesney
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

Marion Chesney/M.C. Beaton has a formula that regardless of which series or persona she is writing in, is always in play: Barely existing plot, overly pulled sexual tension between the leads, content the depth of a 1″ puddle, and story devices that are thrown against the wall and then forgotten. Having read much of the Agatha Raisin series, while knowing it was to be frivolous fun, I grew bored because Aggie (don’t call her that if you value your life) never seemed to grow as a character. It was always the same shenanigans, book after book.

With this being said, I picked up the Edwardian Mystery series by Chensey/Beaton as I grow increasingly interested in this time period I’m on the lookout for contemporary titles written about this period and this is one of the few contemporarily written series currently available.

Chesney/Beaton doesn’t disappoint. You have your “oh she’s supposedly so well educated but portrays herself as a half-wit” heroine who comes from exceedingly good stock; the mysterious and fallen main male lead who “oh really publicly hates the heroine but secretly loves her” and yes, it’s all very predicable and cliche-y.

There is no stretch in the research or imagination here, and if I had not been well attuned to Ms. Chesney/Beaton’s writing style from before, I would probably like the book even less but you know, at the end of the day, it’s a frippery of a read that while it may not have educated me, it did keep me entertained.

2013 List | In progress

Watching

  • Masters of Sex
    The season finale and much is left to the open for interpretation on what is going to happen and where the show is going. I really adored this show – and it was one of the few shows in our weekly repertoire I would demand to watch live. There is certain detachedness to the show, and some of the characters are written flat, but I do love this show. Michael Sheen as the uptight Dr. Masters is a delight.
  • A Place to Call Home
    TheHusband and I have mainlined this show in its entirety. Complex, thought out, well drawn drama about early 1950s Australia. Complicated relationships, characters, and the setting is gorgeous.
  • Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
    Season 2 kittens, season 2!
  • Survivor
    It’s finally over. Thank fuck.

Weekly watching: BBC Tudor Monastery Farm, Reign, DraculaProject Runway All-Stars, Breathless, Atlantis,  ElementaryMarvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Sleepy Hollow,   Boardwalk Empire, Doc Martin, QIPeaky Blinders,  Sons of Anarchy,  The Vampire Diaries

What have you read/watched/listened to this week?

x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in:

Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes: October 12, 2013

Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

During the Renaissance, cabinet of curiosities came into fashion as a collection of objects that would often defy classification. As a precursor to the modern museum, the cabinet referred to room(s), not actual furniture, of things that piqued the owners interest and would be collected and displayed in an aesthetically pleasing manner. Collectioun of Cunnynge Curioustes is my 21st century interpretation of that idea.

 

Dear Internet,

Writing

Cunning Tales from a Systems Librarian

Reading

silverpigs The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis
(Amazon | WorldCat | GoodReads | LibraryThing)
Status: Finished

Widely recommended by historians and booksellers for its authenticity to the period, incredibly detailed research, and snappy pacing, in the end I found that while I enjoyed the book, ultimately I wasn’t in love with it. There were some inauthenticities that drove me slightly mad (like the use of the word “fuck” which while rare in the story, is not true to period. That word doesn’t show up in English until the high middle ages. I’m also fairly certain there was not a Latin equivalent of the word, which makes it a bit more annoying). I try to keep my prejudices in check knowing that if this was written true to language of the period, modern eyes would be bored so the work had to be given some leeway to make it more palatable. I couldn’t relate to or connect with any of the characters, which while not a terribly huge problem, is not exactly easy finish the work.

But I do like the concept of the series! And I did feel like not only was my brain getting entertainment, but I was also getting a bit of an education too. I’ll give this a few more books before I either fully commit or ditch them. Davis also has a new series with a female lead in the same period, which I also want to check out.

Watching

  • BBC The Fairytale Castles Of King Ludwig II With Dan Cruickshank
  • Atlantis
    A new spin on the mythology of Atlantis coupled with Greek mythology, this new series from the BBC is also produced by the same folks who did Merlin. Expect to see a lot of familiar actors popping in and out, slightly changed storylines, and a same kind of goofy feel. Not a bad show, but not something to absolutely love either. More of background noise than rapt attention, and more a long the lines of binge watching rather than catching it every week.  Atlantis is coming to BBC America in November.
  • Homeland
    Third season has begun and I’m a bit weary after the first few episodes of their portrayal of Carrie’s bipolarism. Not everyone who goes off of lithium, automatically gets tossed into the crazy hospital. Even more importantly, while ECT is commonly still used for treatment, you don’t just “get it” just because you’re having a moment. There are some wretched side effects to ECT that aren’t even addressed in the show. I get the point is to underscore her craziness to mean her unreliability, but it’s beginning to feel slapstick rather than serious.
  • Masters of Sex
    A quasi-historical romp of the late 1950s, following two of the pioneers of the science of sex. Two episodes in and I’m hooked, not on the obvious (it’s sex. For science!) but by the subtle interplay of characterizations and relationships. Sure, there are some stereotypes, like the hooker with the heart of gold, but overall this is great fun to watch even when it’s attempt at being serious.
  • BBC Four – A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley, If Walls Could Talk: The History of the Home, BBC Four – Tales from the Royal Bedchamber
    I realised recently that if my life was a choose your own adventure, I would have chosen a path similar to Lucy Worsley‘s. By day, a Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces in England and historian/writer at night, Worsley’s interests not only match my own but what I’ve come to adore about her is how she makes history accessible and fun, no matter what the topic. I also love the fact that she’s willing to get into a historical thing to experience it herself, whether it is dressing like a Georgian queen, sleeping in a medieval bed to find the pea, or not bathing for a week to get a sense of how they did it in ye olde tymes. Her interest in a broad range of topics makes her exploration of them fresh and compelling. She also has several books out to support her topics, which I’m hoping to check out in the near future.
  • Da Vinci’s Demons
    I finally got around to see the final two episodes of this season and it was much better than my previous impression. Like Atlantis in that it’s kitchy and background noisy, it’ll stay in the rotation with the hopes it will get stronger in the future.
  • The Bridge (US)
    Slow, slow pacing; the murder solved mid-season, the fact I couldn’t get “it puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again” out of my head whenever Ted Levine walked into the screen, the unbearable hotness of Demian Bichir, and the confusing actions of possibly Autistic Diane Kruger made this show hard to watch at times. It just felt utterly confusing, some main characters dropped for a few episodes with no mention, and then magically reappear, the too many sub-plots floating around, and the strange build of romantic tension (or not) between Bichir and Kruger. TheHusband really liked this show. Not not loved, but liked. This is an American take on the Danish/Swedish version, and soon there is a joint English/French version, The Tunnel, coming in a few weeks. As one critic intoned, this is a format that works. Apparently so.

Weekly watching: Elementary, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.Sleepy HollowSurvivorDownton AbbeyBoardwalk Empire, Doc Martin, QIPeaky Blinders, Project Runway, The Newsroom, Sons of Anarchy, The Vampire Diaries

Links

x0x0,
lisa

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003