Maybe not your average Halloween treat but to tell the truth there are few more enticing places to be than on a train at midnight on October 31. So far, "The Signal-Man" by Charles Dickens was pretty good, creepy in just the right places, but I have to admit I don't quite get the punch line. After reading the last several times, slowly as to not to miss the meaning, I still don't understand what he's saying. Still, small price to pay for a good start to this most important of all months.
I've just finished Tove Jansson's "Sculptor's Daughter". A must for those interested in her, and I am such a one. It takes the form of a series of vignettes written from the perspective of a young child: apparently this is the first of her books to be written specifically for adults, and also the most autobiographical. I found it wonderfully unusual and it's easy to make links with the imagination that created the moomins. What I particularly liked was the contrast between the cozy world of family security and the dark forces constantly looming on the edges of consciousness. I'd love to be able to read it in the original.
I'm half way through Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf. I'll be interested to follow it up sometime with the Tolkien version.
I've also been using the index to dip into Andy Robert's "Albion Dreaming, a popular history of LSD in Britain". I doubt that I'll do more than dip in because there seems to be much that has been compiled from sources with which I'm relatively familiar. At the same time a lot of work must have gone into it and he's good on the politics of the whole business.
Incidentally the circumstances of buying the Tove Jansson book still annoy me. It was a few years ago in an independent bookshop that I very seldom visit, maybe every two years or so, but which has interesting stock, including second hand. The only problem with it for me is the owners (I usually get on very well with those who have their own bookshops), and I'm afraid that every visit we assume that if there is any interaction it's going to be laughably awkward. On this occasion the husband persisted in closely examining shelves a few feet from wherever I was looking, and I could only assume he was suspicious of my intentions: eventually I decided to put his suspicions to rest and buy this book, knowing I'd read it some day.
In an effort to get away from swords, spells and elves; read some military SF (Into the Looking Glass, Vorpal blade and Maxome Foe) by J. Ringo and T. Talor.
Stopped reading the series at that point, leaving Claws that Catch for later, and drifted off to Requiem For a Ruler of Worlds By B. Daley to partake of something a bit lighter...
...Got to thinking (as of O dark thirty this morning) that I haven't read H. Beam Piper's Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen for several years...
I would class all of these as 4 star books...
Am now reading Time Traders by Andre Norton. I was going to insert a picture but it seems like there are many different covers. It reads like the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. Fast, furious, non-stop action (all good) but this is most definitely Science Fantasy. There are so many holes in the set up and the action you could drive a truck through them, but still a fun read.
Greg Woolfe's Rome was definitely one of the better academic books I've read on the subject - very engaging, and keen to tease out deeper issues. Some good recommended reading after each chapter, though unfortunately many of the books are ridiculous prices.
Read Station Eleven Emily St John Mandel, which I didn't like. Ditched First Fifteen Lives of Harry August after 260 odd pages when Harry had his toenails pulled out. I wasn't particularly enjoying it anyway, TBH, but I'd had enough at that point. Currently reading leigh bardugo the grisha shadow and bone.
My version of Time Traders by Andre Norton is actually a kind of omnibus (double) novel. I have finished the first work which I liked quite well with the limitations of severe Science Fantasy (nothing is explained and some of the ideas are not thought out), but the second is a serious step down less action, less drama, and even less believable science and situations.
Just started a reread Watership Down ahead of the new series adaptation. I read it when I was 11 so my memory of is a bit fuzzy in places. It's wonderfully written though, it grabs you right from the start.
Finished "Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen"; still a great read.
Started "Live free or Die" by J. Ringo (I find some of Rigno's work, like this book, somewhat cluttered with science jargon (occasionally verging on technobabble) that may or many not be accurate but rarely contributes much to the story (other than to say in obfuscatingly complex terms "this is difficult and our (the character's) tech/theory level is not really up to the task"... really, the opposite of Norton who was a, mostly, nontechnical fantasy (occasionally lightly reality based occasionally magic/PSI based) often YA story author. I usually save Norton's books for a light reading change of pace..
The current Baen compilation of Time Traders and Galactic Derelict was, IMO, improved when the 1950's references to (OMG!) "THE REDS"(communists) were toned down (in the Time Traders especially) during the editing process at Baen Books... One of these days I should do a detailed re-read & comparison of the originals and Baen's editions to see exactly how they changed the books... for my own edification.
About 3/5 into the Stalin book, but also reading samples of fantasy etc. Just finished the (short) sample of Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler. Interesting, because I found it really engaging even though the ingredients (child protagonist, ghosts, orphans) aren't my cup of tea at all.
I am about to start Amazing Stories: The Anthology (1995) edited by Kim Mohan. It has a reprinted story and a reprinted essay by Robert Bloch, along with some stories that appeared in the magazine of the same name in the 1990's, and some stories new to the anthology.