Socksquatch by Frank W. Dormer

bookshelves: winter-20152016, kiddlewinks, published-2010, paper-read, hardback

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Kaethe
Read from January 28 to February 22, 2016


Description: Poor Socksquatch. All he wants is two warm feet, but things aren’t going his way. Even his friends can’t help. AAAAAAA!

What’s a monster to do?

Frank Dormer’s story will charm readers’ socks off.

The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin, Chi-chen Wang (Translator),

bookshelves: books-about-books-and-book-shops, china, dip-in-now-and-again, epic-proportions, e-book

Read from February 15 to 21, 2016


Guardian article

Read the novel here Hattip to Wandaful

Opening: Chen Shih-yin, in a vision, apprehends perception and spirituality — Chia Yü-ts’un, in the (windy and dusty) world, cherishes fond thoughts of a beautiful maiden.

This is the opening section; this the first chapter. Subsequent to the visions of a dream which he had, on some previous occasion, experienced, the writer personally relates, he designedly concealed the true circumstances, and borrowed the attributes of perception and spirituality to relate this story of the Record of the Stone. With this purpose, he made use of such designations as Chen Shih-yin (truth under the garb of fiction) and the like. What are, however, the events recorded in this work? Who are the dramatis personae?

A stone hurled by an Empress feels neglected, desolate and unfit…

The Empress Nü Wo, (the goddess of works,) in fashioning blocks of stones, for the repair of the heavens, prepared, at the Ta Huang Hills and Wu Ch’i cave, 36,501 blocks of rough stone, each twelve chang in height, and twenty-four chang square. Of these stones, the Empress Wo only used 36,500; so that one single block remained over and above, without being turned to any account. This was cast down the Ch’ing Keng peak.”

So how long is a chang so that we can picture this thing? Answer: 3.58 metres or 11 feet 9 inches Ta-dah! Yet that is only half the story, this heavenly stone can expand or contract – become the apex of a mountain or lay in the palm of a curious hand.

What fun! Not like Pauline Collins talking to ‘rock’ in Shirley Valentine*, this rock talks back.

* Damn! couldn’t find that clip of her talking to ‘rock’ yet did find this bit, which is smashing

As regards the several stanzas of doggerel verse, they may too evoke such laughter as to compel the reader to blurt out the rice, and to spurt out the wine.”

The True Story of Martin Guerre by Jean de Coras

bookshelves: published-2016, france-languedoc, winter-20152016, play-dramatisation, radio-4x, historical-fiction

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from February 20 to 21, 2016…

Description: Charged as an imposter, Guerre’s trial is dramatised from notes of the 16th-century French judge, Jean de Coras. Stars Sean Bean

I would so love to see the film!

Martin Guerre, a French peasant of the 16th century, was at the center of a famous case of imposture. Several years after he had left his wife, child, and village, a man claiming to be Guerre reappeared. He lived with Guerre’s wife and son for three years. The false Martin Guerre was eventually suspected of the impersonation. He was tried, discovered to be a man named Arnaud du Tilh, and executed. The real Martin Guerre had returned during the trial. The case continues to be studied and dramatized to this day.
wiki source

Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles…

Description: On a balmy summer’s day in 1930 the great and the good of the county are out in force for the annual, much-anticipated tennis party at the Bickleighs, although not everyone has much enthusiasm for the game. The tennis party exists for other reasons – and charmingly mannered infidelity is now the most popular pastime in the small but exclusive Devonshire hamlet of Wyvern’s Cross. Which is why, in his own garden, the host, Dr Edmund Bickleigh, is desperately fighting to conceal the two things on his mind: a mounting passion for Gwynfryd Rattery – and the certain conviction that he is going to kill his wife …

Hywel Bennett as Dr. Edmund Bickleigh

Think twice before accepting high-tea from a genial Devon country doctor.

Parnell And The Englishwoman by Hugh Leonard

bookshelves: winter-20152016, britain-ireland, politics, published-1991, film-only, under-20, victorian, oo-la-la, history, colonial-overlords

Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read from February 16 to 18, 2016


Punch magazine depicts the Fenian movement as Frankenstein’s monster to Charles Parnell’s Frankenstein, in the wake of the Phoenix Park Murders.

Description: The leader of the struggle for Irish independence and the daughter of an English clergyman risk everything to become lovers during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Watch here

Charles Stewart Parnell (Irish: Cathal Stiúbhard Pharnell; 27 June 1846 – 6 October 1891) was a Protestant Irish landlord, nationalist, politician, land reform agitator, and the founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. He was one of the most powerful figures in the British politics in the 1880s when he helped overthrow two British governments. He maneuvered Prime Minister William Gladstone and the Liberals into adopting Home Rule. He succeeded by balancing the constitutional, radical, and economic forces at work in the Irish countryside, and by a skillful use of parliamentary procedure, by creating and leading Britain’s first disciplined democratic party, and by holding the balance of power between Gladstone’s Liberals and Disraeli’s Conservatives. He destroyed himself by an adulterous love affair that made his leadership unacceptable to many religious Catholics and Protestants.*
Wiki sourced

*Bolded type=The subject of this book

Introduced by the wonderful Alistair Cooke RIP, who clarifies the historical facts and fills in the gaps. Starring Trevor Eve and Francesca Annis

Episode 1 – The Meeting
Episode 2 – The Outrage
Episode 3 – The Libel
Episode 4 – The Reckoning

Sorrell and Son by Warwick Deeping

bookshelves: winter-20152016, film-only, published-1928, long-weekend, eng-gloucs-staunton, britain-england, medical-eew, families, euthanasia

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Karen
Read from February 14 to 17, 2016


Set in England 1926 the story is about a man who devotes his life to making his son’s a success. In the course of the story many themes are explored including life, love, career and familial and marital relationships.

Watch here

Thanks Karen! Whilst this is neither Turgenev nor Foyles War, the father and son here lead caring, insular, and blinkered lives with the soul aim to get Kit his education. Things take a turn for the better when we get to women’s rights, marriage and motherhood and Kit realises he is rather old-fashioned, awkward and dare I say it, mostly obsolete in the new-thinking within the social sphere. That all abruptly changes and Kit becomes a fantastic surgeon, loving husband and a dutiful son.

Honour Bright!”

The Slipper Point Mystery by Augusta Huiell Seaman, C.M. Relyea (Illustrator)


Read Here

Opening: SHE sat on the prow of a beached rowboat, digging her bare toes in the sand.

There were many other rowboats drawn up on the sandy edge of the river,—as many as twenty or thirty, not to speak of the green and red canoes lying on the shore, bottoms up, like so many strange insects. A large number of sailboats were also anchored near the shore or drawn up to the long dock that stretched out into the river.

For this was Carter’s Landing, the only place on lovely little Manituck River where pleasure-boats could be hired. Beside the long dock there was, up a wide flight of steps a large pavilion where one could sit and watch the lights and shadows on the river and its many little activities. There were long benches and tables to accommodate picnic-parties and, in an inner room, a counter where candies, ice cream and soda-water were dispensed. And lastly, one part of the big pavilion was used as a dancing-floor where, afternoons and evenings, to the music of a violin and piano, merry couples whirled and circled.

Down on the sand was a signboard which said: “Children Must Not Play in the Boats.”

“That’s just the trouble. I can’t imagine what it means. I’ve studied and studied over it all winter, and it doesn’t seem to mean a single thing.” It was indeed a curious thing, this scrap of stained, worn paper, hidden for who knew how many years in a tin box far underground.

“His name was Richard Worley,” answered Doris. “He was a pirate about the year 1718, the same time that Blackbeard and Stede Bonnet were ‘pirating’ too.”

She led the others up the cellar steps

More About the Squirrels (Classic Reprint) by Eleanor Tyrrell

bookshelves: e-book, eng-surrey, gutenberg-project, nature, kiddlewinks, zoology, britain-england, art-forms, winter-20152016

Read from February 13 to 14, 2016


Read here

Opening: As I am often asked about the little beasts whose adventures were set forth in “How I Tamed the Wild Squirrels,” perhaps a further account of my furry friends will not come amiss.

I no longer keep any of them confined. After the death of three in the winter of 1914, I resolved that, dear and fascinating as they were as little companions in my room, I would never have them caged and in artificial conditions again.

There are two pairs of Germans loose in our little wood—Mr. and Mrs. Fritz and Mr. and Mrs. Laurence; while the wild Surrey ones, the little natives, come to the garden from the firs on the railway cutting.

There is no doubt that Fritz, the German, with his superior strength and masterfulness, drove away that first little colony which I had tamed so wonderfully. Toto had met a tragic death, killed by a marauding cat. Tito and Tara and the dainty little thing I used to call Miss Fritz after a time took up their quarters elsewhere. I have since come to the conclusion that Miss Fritz was not Miss Fritz—more probably Miss Tito. As she grew to maturity she proved herself entirely a Surrey squirrel. There was no tint of orange or gray about her, and she remained when full-grown as small and dainty as the rest, showing not a sign of the German larger, coarser breed.

A Little Journey (The Galaxy Project) by Ray Bradbury


Description: A LITTLE JOURNEY (August 1951) marks Bradbury’s final contribution to the editorial decade of Horace Gold, the editor of GALAXY magazine. Like THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES and THE FIREMAN, the story demonstrates Bradbury’s characteristic blending so early in his career of the sentimental and the transcendent, the homely and the mystical. Bradbury’s old women in space and their strange outcome are reminiscent of his more famous story KALEIDOSCOPE (published in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN) and its conclusion shows unusual if understated power. Bradbury’s THE FIREMAN (the short-form version of FAHRENHEIT 451 which was doubled in length for its book publication in 1953) appeared in the February 1951 issue of GALAXY and further solidified GALAXY’s reputation, as a magazine of unprecedented originality and ambition. Gold’s commitment to the highly ambitious THE FIREMAN was, then, courageous for its time and gave publicity to the editor’s insistence that GALAXY was an entirely new kind of science fiction magazine, one which was far more oriented toward style and controversial social extrapolation than the other markets ever had been. Although THE FIREMAN and THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES had been published earlier to significant attention, Bradbury in 1951 was by no means a writer of substantial reputation and his work was regarded by most science fiction editors and readers as marginal to the genre.

Read here

Opening: None of these people had ever shaken Mrs. Bellowes’ faith, even when she saw them sirened away in a black wagon in the night, or discovered their pictures, bleak and unromantic, in the morning tabloids. The world had roughed them up and locked them away because they knew too much, that was all.

And then, two weeks ago, she had seen Mr. Thirkell’s advertisement in New York City:

Stay at the Thirkell Restorium for one week. And then,
on into space on the greatest adventure life can offer!
Send for Free Pamphlet: “Nearer My God To Thee.”
Excursion rates. Round trip slightly lower.

“Round trip,” Mrs. Bellowes had thought. “But who would come back after seeing Him?”

I suppose that any negativity towards Bradbury equates to deal-breaking: he had such a humanist heart and couched it in beautiful writing, and he always added in a dash of humour and a soupçon of darkness. That is the case here.

The Wheatstone Pond by Robert Westall

bookshelves: published-1993, under-50-ratings, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, boo-scary, mystery-thriller, winter-20152016, supernatural, radio-4x

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from February 12 to 17, 2016

Description: When an archaeological dig begins at the Wheatstone Pond, nasty events occur. Violence and aggression build up in the people who work there, the corpse of a baby is found, and a motorbike salvaged from the water carries its new owner to a fatal accident. Some sort of evil is clearly at work.