The Halloween Creatures Book Tag

Rules:

Answer all prompts.
Answer honestly.
Tag 1-13 people.
Link back to this post. ( For me it was SnoopyDoo!)
Remember to credit the creator. (Anthony @ Keep Reading Forward)<
Have fun!

 

Witch

A Magical Character or Book

Terry Pratchett’s witches, particularly Granny Weatherwax. And DEATH (preferably in his Hogfather incarnation). No contest.

 

 

Werewolf

The Perfect Book to Read at Night

Any- and everything by Agatha Christie.

 

Vampire – A Book that Sucked the Life Out of You – and Frankenstein – A Book that Truly Shocked You

Joint honors in both categories to two novels chronicling civil war and genocide in two African countries, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun (Nigeria / Biafra) and Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love (Sierra Leone). Both of them are, in their own way, the literary equivalent of a gut punch that leaves you gasping for air in huge, big gulps. And both are, for that and many other reasons (characters, writing, the whole package) unforgettable in all the right ways.

The Devil

A Dark, Evil Character

Umm … the original blood sucker? (I don’t much go in for the sparkly variety.) And, of course, Tom Riddle aka Voldemort … and the dementors. Those creatures are vile.

 

Zombie

A Book that Made You “Hungry” for More

Dorothy L. Sayers’s Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane tetralogy, particularly Gaudy Night. While I can totally see that (and why) for Sayers there really was no easy follow-up to Busman’s Honeymoon, I’d still have loved to see how she herself would have framed Peter and Harriet’s married life and continuing investigations … instead of having to rely on another author’s attempts to pick the bones of Sayers’s sketchy drafts.

Gargoyle

A Character that You Would Protect at All Cost

Hmm. This one was difficult, because one of the things that I like about my favorite characters — and pretty much any and all of them, and across all genres — is that they are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, even in the face of adversity. But I guess if you’re up against evil incarnate and you’re looking at the one group / fellowship of people who actually stand at least a minute chance of facing up to it, a little extra protection can’t go awray.

Along the same lines, Harry Potter, Dumbledore’s Army, and most of the teachers at Hogwarts.

Ghost

A Book that Still Haunts You

I could easily have used Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love for this category all over again — as well as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (see below) and, to a minimally lesser extent its sequel, The Testaments. I didn’t want to do that, so I decided to go with Clea Koff’s The Bone Woman — not just for its content as such, though, but because I have seen cases related to the very ones that she describes up, close and personal … and short of actually being the victim of human rights violations yourself, there are few things as devastating and haunting as working with victims, or otherwise being involved in the aftermath.

Demon

A Book that Really Scared You

I reread Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale last year before moving on to The Testaments, and it scared the living daylights out of me; possibly even more than when I read it for the first time many years ago — not least because events in the past couple of years have shown just how realistic Atwood’s dystopia is, and how little it takes for society to slide down that particular slippery slope.

Skeleton

A Character You Have a Bone to Pick With

You mean other than each and every TSTL character ever created?

OK, let’s go with the two protagonists of what I’ve come to dub my fall 2017 headless chicken parade — Giordano Bruno in S.J. Parris’s Heresy (essentially for not bearing any demonstrable likeness to the historical Giordano Bruno, who would probably have sneared at his fictional alter ego in this particular book / series), and Albert Campion in Margery Allingham’s Traitor’s Purse, for losing not only his memory but also the better part of his essential character makeup as a result of being coshed over the head.

Mummy

A Book You Would Preserve Throughout Time

Well, the likes of Hamlet, Pride & Prejudice and Sherlock Holmes have already made their point as far as “timeless” is concerned, so it feels kind of pointless to pick a classic here.

That being said, I hope one day the time will come for people to scratch their heads and wonder what all the fuss was about, but right now — there hasn’t been a book in a long time that challenged stereotypes (gender, race, class, writing styles, younameit) in the way that Bernardine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other has. It’s the reality check we all urgently needed, and a book that can’t ever possibly have too many readers … now and for the foreseeable future.

Creepy Doll

A Cover too Scary to Look At

That of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary — because I really do NOT want to think about the possibility of my pets ever turning into zombies, revenants or the like, or otherwise taking on similarly murderous qualities. And that is precisely what this cover makes me do.

 

The Monster Mash

It’s Fun to Be with Friends on Halloween!
Tag Your Friends!

Anyone and everyone who wants to do this, I hope if you are reading this and have not done it you will. It’s fun, and outside of Halloween Bingo, nothing says bookish Halloween like tying a few of your reads to a roundup of Halloween creatures! 🙂

Louise Glück: where to start with an extraordinary Nobel winner

Louise Glück: where to start with an extraordinary Nobel winner

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/08/louise-gluck-where-to-start-with-an-extraordinary-nobel-winner
— Weiterlesen www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/08/louise-gluck-where-to-start-with-an-extraordinary-nobel-winner

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 dies | Cornell Chronicle

<Ruth Bader GinsburgProvided

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 gives remarks in 2007 during the unveiling of a plaque announcing Cornell Law School’s role in establishing the Center for Documentation on American Law at the Cour de Cassation in Paris.

 

By Blaine Friedlander  | September 18, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54, whose legal career in the fight for women’s rights, equal rights and human dignity culminated with her ascent to the U.S. Supreme Court, and who – as an octogenarian – became a cultural hero and arguably the most beloved justice in American history, died Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C. She was 87.

Ginsburg died from complications of cancer, according to a statement from the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg’s protection of equality and the advancement of the rights of all people, particularly women, helped to transform American society. Working at the American Civil Liberties Union in 1972, she founded the Women’s Rights Project. She researched and argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court in the 1970s, winning five.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Byron White in 1993.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah had suggested Ginsburg to Clinton, as did U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno ’61, an admirer of her legal work. Hatch, considered by President Ronald Reagan for the high court, called Ginsburg a “highly honest and capable jurist.”

Clinton interviewed Ginsburg and later said he was instantly impressed, submitting her nomination to the Senate the next day. Ginsburg sailed through the Senate’s confirmation.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a true hero and a giant of American jurisprudence. A relentless champion of equity, she dedicated her life to innumerable, honorable causes, always fighting for what was right,” said Cornell President Martha E. Pollack. “While the nation mourns her passing, we can find solace in the indelible imprint that she leaves on American society and on the lives of each of us who found inspiration from her actions and who will carry her spirit with us long into the future.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933 in New York City to Celia and Nathan Bader. She grew up in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn and graduated from James Madison High School in 1950.

Her mother Celia died of cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation and Ruth missed the ceremony. Years earlier, when Ruth was a toddler, her older sister Marylin observed that Ruth was always kicking. Thus, Marylin had given Ruth her lifelong nickname: “Kiki.” Marylin died at age 6 of meningitis.

Bader Ginsburg’s undergraduate education at Cornell from 1950-54 served as a strong foundation for her subsequent legal education and notable career.

In public talks, the associate justice credited two influential Cornell professors: Robert Cushman, professor of government, and Vladimir Nabokov, then a professor of European literature.

Noted for her precisely worded decisions on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg acknowledged Nabokov’s influence on her own writing. “He was a man in love with the sound of words,” she once said, as he taught her the importance of choosing the correct word and word order.

Nabokov’s first languages were French and Russian; English was his third. “He spoke about what he liked in the English language,” she said once in a talk. “If a speaker wants to say ‘white horse,’ you say ‘white horse’ in the English language.

“You see the white before horse,” she said, “so when you get to the horse, it is already white. In French you say, ‘cheval blanc,’ but you think brown horse first and you have to convert it.”

Joan Ruth Bader majored in government in the College of Arts and Sciences. As an undergraduate, she worked for Cushman as a researcher. He had gained fame as a legal scholar with the influential textbook, “Leading Constitutional Decisions” – a book taught nationally for a quarter century.

Cushman’s influence was equally strong. In the 2016 book, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg: My Own Words,” co-authors Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams describe how the early 1950s kindled Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s (R-Wisconsin) rampant communist fearmongering.

Ginsburg tracked entertainment industry blacklists for Cushman during the McCarthy era, and she cited Cushman for elevating her own awareness of the Constitution and prompting her to apply to law school.

Before that, Ginsburg said, “I didn’t want to think about these things; I really just wanted to get good grades and become successful – but [Cushman] was both a teacher and consciousness raiser.”

In the fall semester of her senior year, Bader provided a glimpse into her thought processes.

Cornell law students once wrote a letter to the Cornell Daily Sun on the topic of wiretapping, suggesting that tapping telephones without warrants was expedient. Ginsburg responded in a Nov. 30, 1953 Cornell Daily Sun letter of her own.

“Wiretapping may save the government investigators a good deal of time and effort by making it unnecessary to seek other sources of proof,” Bader wrote. “But even if the situation today demands increased vigilance on the part of the government, restraints on individual rights in the field of individual privacy, morality and conscience can be a cure worse than the disease …”

She continued: “The … proposal [seems] to be outweighed by the general harm it may well do.”

Over the last six decades, Ginsburg returned to Cornell for lectures and special events. In October 2003, Ginsburg introduced Jeffrey S. Lehman as the university’s 11th president at his inaugural ceremony. She praised Cornell and each of its presidents for the school’s post-Civil War vision of equality in education.

She ended the Barton Hall speech by quoting an 1867 letter from Ezra Cornell to his granddaughter Eunice: “I want to have girls educated in the University, as well as boys so that they have the same opportunity to become wise and useful to society that the boys have.”

Said Ginsburg: “I didn’t know of that letter when I attended Cornell. I would have treasured it then; I treasure it now.”

Life at Cornell
At crowded dances and social gatherings of freshman orientation week for the new class of 1954, “Kiki” Bader stood out, residing in Clara Dickson Hall, the late David Behrens ’54 wrote in a 1993 Newsday feature story.

The dormitory phone never stopped ringing, recalled the late Anita Zicht Fial ’54, who was among the future justice’s close circle of Clara Dickson Hall friends. “It just rang off the hook the whole year, for all of us and for Kiki particularly,” she told Behrens.

An early fall semester blind double date was arranged by the roommate of Martin Ginsburg ’53. The roommate, who was dating a dormitory neighbor of Bader, did not have a car. The roommate persuaded the gregarious Ginsburg – who owned a gray Chevrolet – to drive the foursome to the dance.

“We met as undergraduates at Cornell University on a blind date in 1950 … The truth is, it was a blind date only on Ruth’s side. I cheated. I asked a classmate to point her out in advance,” said Martin Ginsburg in introductory remarks before a Bader Ginsburg lecture.

“’Oh, she’s really cute,’ I perceptively noticed, and then after a couple of evenings out, I added, ‘And… she’s really, really smart.’ And, of course, I was right on both counts,” he said.

At the time, men and women lived in separate campus buildings. Men had more freedom to move about campus at all hours. Cornell women had strict curfews.

Bader participated in the Women’s Self Governance Association, a student government system within residence life. But it would not be until the late 1960s that women attained equal status to men in Cornell’s residence halls.

After graduating from Cornell near the top of her class, Bader married Ginsburg – and followed him to Harvard Law School, becoming one of nine women there in a class of 500. After her husband graduated, joining a law firm in New York City, Bader Ginsburg finished her final year of law school in 1959 at Columbia University.

‘The Notorious R.B.G.’
In the 2013 landmark Supreme Court case, Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529, the court struck down two key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, in a 5-4 decision. Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion.

New York University law student Shana Knizhnik was dismayed by the decision, but heartened by Ginsburg’s dissent. Knizhnik created a Tumblr blog, naming it “Notorious R.B.G. –  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in all her glory.” The blog helped turn octogenarian Ginsburg into a cultural icon for youth and young adults, creating a modern hero.

Knizhnik and journalist Irin Carmon then turned the blog into a book, “The Notorious R.B.G.” that landed on the New York Times bestseller list, spawning T-shirt sales and other sundries, including a “dissent” jabot sold by Banana Republic that replicates Ginsburg’s lace ruffles adorning her judicial robes.

By 2018, the  associate justice’s life story was turned into a major motion picture, “On the Basis of Sex,” with Felicity Jones portraying Ginsburg as a young lawyer.

On the lighter side, Ginsburg has been portrayed by Kate McKinnon on “Saturday Night Live,” and in 2019 the justice even invited late-night television host Stephen Colbert to work out with her at the gym. He could not keep up.

Justice Ginsburg’s cultural popularity never subsided. At the Cornell Reunion in June 2019, Ginsburg surprised Cornelliana Night with a video appearance at her own 65th Reunion before a packed Bailey Hall. When the name “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” lit the screen, the alumni crowd instantly roared. And after she greeted her fellow Cornellians with well wishes, the audience erupted, led by vigorous cheers from the younger Reunion classes: “R-B-G! R-B-G! R-B-G! R-B-G!”

Martin Ginsburg predeceased her in 2010. She is survived by her daughter Jane Ginsburg, a professor of law at Columbia University, and son James Ginsburg, a music executive.

 

Source: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 dies | Cornell Chronicle

Patricia Moyes: The Sunken Sailor


I read Moyes’s first Henry & Emmy Tibbett book (Dead Men Don’t Ski) earlier this year and liked it a lot.  While I still liked most of book 2 as well, The Sunken Sailor (aka Down Among the Dead Men) suffers from a bit of a sophomore slump: Moyes first does a great job establishing the characters and atmosphere of the tiny Suffolk harbor community where the Tibbetts go to spend a sailing holiday with friends.  However, inexplicably, somewhere before the book’s halfway point, Henry Tibbett of all people, the man whose “nose” for crime is proverbial at Scotland Yard, after having duly “nosed out” the suspicious circumstances of the death lurking in the recent past of that seaside community, decides to let unexplained bygones be unexplained bygones … and for the worst (and in terms of his character, most unbelievable) of all reasons — as a result of being vamped by a woman (moreover, a woman who herself is one of several suspects and, even if not guilty, just might have reasons aplenty for not wanting the truth to come out).  A less convincing instance of throwing a spanner in the plot works just so as to be able to produce yet another avoidable death (as well as a belated solution) I’ve rarely come across, and based on her first book, I seriously would have expected better from Moyes.  (I also found few of the characters in thei book as likeable as Moyes obviously intends them to be.)  This isn’t an awful book, and I’m still going to continue reading this series, but I do hope we’re talking sophomore slump here and I trust I haven’t already seen the best of the bunch when I read book 1.

(In terms of bingo squares, the book just scrapes within the definition of “Dark and Stormy Night” and I’m counting it for that square as Christine expressly confirmed that it counts.  It would obviously also qualify for “Fear the Drowning Deep” — which however isn’t on my card — and, the edition I own, also for “Full Moon”, as that’s what the white dot on the cover actually is.)

Kathryn Harkup: Death by Shakespeare


Hmmm.  After having read and liked — though not loved — Harkup’s book on Agatha Christie’s use of poisons in her mysteries (A Is for Arsenic), it took the Shakespeare fan in me about a millisecond to snatch up this third book of hers when I came across it earlier this year … only to then decide, almost as quickly, to save it for the “Truly Terrifying” (or alternatively, “Paint It Black”) Halloween Bingo squares.  And as is so often the case, anticipation built over a period of time in the end doesn’t quite deliver the hoped-for bundle of goods.

My main bit of gripe is that Harkup doesn’t seem to have had a very clear picture for which audience she was writing this book.  On the one hand, she spends (I’m tempted to say, wastes) several chapters giving an abbreviated biography of Shakespeare and describing the London and the theatrical world in which he moved — NONE of which will be new to anyone even remotely familiar with the Bard and his life, time, and works (and all of which, thus, can only be of any use to a complete newbie to Shakespeare’s works) … and ALL of which I’ve seen discussed better, in greater detail and with a better-informed historical perspective by both Shakespearean scholars (most notably Stanley Wells) and general historians writing for a non-scholarly audience (e.g., Ian Mortimer and Liza Picard). (At least she doesn’t give any credence to the identity conspiracy theorists, but that still doesn’t stop her from using bits of unfounded speculation on the Bard’s life experience later in the book whenever she considers it expedient for a specific purpose.)  Similar things can be said for her comments on medicine in the Elizabethan age, which on the one hand is pretty much a staple in historical fiction set in the Plantagenet and Tudor eras; on the other hand, the details that I didn’t already know as historical fiction background, I’ve learned in greater depth by visiting Hall’s Croft, the home of Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and her husband Dr. John Hall, who was a medical doctor (incidentally with rather advanced and well-informed views, compared to many of his contemporaries), who is widely believed to have provided his father in law with the requisite background knowledge for a plethora of deaths occurring in his plays, and whose professional equipment and records form part of the permanent exhibition on Elizabethan-era medicine that can now be visited in his former home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

On the other hand, when Harkup does finally get around to discussing Shakespeare’s portrayal of death and killings in his plays, she gives very little context to the majority of scenes she discusses, so anyone not intimately familiar with those plays (particularly the “histories”, which probably feature most widely overall in her book — and chiefly among these, the two “Henriads”) is soon going to be utterly lost as to the significance and context of the scene(s) under discussion.

Moreover, in at least one instance (Richard III and “The Princes in the Tower”) Harkup, while paying lip service to the idea that RIII perhaps “wasn’t quite as bad a tyrant as Shakespeare makes him out to be”, nevertheless falls into the very trap for which she poo-poos the medical analysis that established the bones found in the Tower in the early 20th century as those of “The Princes”, namely to reason from the desired result instead of dispassionately looking at the available evidence and letting the chips fall where they may.  This review isn’t the place for this particular bit of historical discussion, so let me just say that I am unable to take seriously any writer who, like Harkup, blandly describes the reign of Henry VII as “a new era of hope and peace for England” (or words to that effect), in either blissful ignorance or blissful disregard of, to name but a few examples,

(1) the cruelty of “Morton’s Fork”,
(2) Henry VII’s (and later his son’s) ruthless and systematic annihilation of the remaining representatives of the House of York (most notably, the execution — on demonstrably trumped-up charges — of his own closest rival for the throne, who at the time was a teenager, imprisoned in the Tower on Henry VII’s orders since his early childhood), or
(3) the fact that Henry VII (a) purposefully dated his reign from the day before his victory at Bosworth, which in one single stroke of the pen made every single combatant on Richard’s side a traitor to the crown, and (b) only crowned his wife Elizabeth queen a year after he himself had well and truly secured the crown, never mind that she had a much greater claim to the crown than he himself did to begin with.

(And let’s not even get into the inconvenient little detail that BOTH Richard III and Henry VII had their fans and detractors among the eminent writers, politicians and diplomats of the time, depending on who you were listening to and whom they were writing for, which is precisely one of the reasons why it’s so hard to determine what is self-servicing Tudor propaganda when it comes to Richard III and what is credible historical testimony.  Or the fact that Harkup blithely buys in virtually all of the things now actually known to be Tudor propaganda and hence, inherently unreliable …)

Anyway.  For what it is in terms of the actual discussion of Shakespeare’s use of death in his plays, it’s an interesting read. Unfortunately, way too much of that discussion gets lost in superfluous and, in part, downright irritating “white noise”.

 

Christianna Brand: Fog of Doubt


Brand’s fifth Inspector Cockrill mystery, and of all the books by her that I have read (all of them this year), second only to Green for Danger, which remains my favorite among all of her novels. Brand specialized in closed circle mysteries, and apart from the traditional country house settings so prevalent in Golden Age mysteries, she also came up with a number of truly unusual circumstances creating that closed circle: whereas in Green for Danger it’s a WWII military hospital, here it is a house — in fact, her own Maida Vale home, as she explains in the preface — where a murder happens during a particularly vicious example of a London “pea-souper” (aka “London Particular”, which in fact was the book’s original title).  Brand’s plotting is superb, and when — like here — she doesn’t try to serve populist cliché, she has a knack for creating characters that easily draw you into the story (even if I could seriously do without the blonde ingenues that seem to be a fixture in many of her books, never mind that this particular story’s ingenue is decidedly less naïve and innocent than some of the other ones).  I only have few books by Brand left to read, and while I didn’t like all of them equally well, by and large she is one of my more notable Golden Age / Detection Club discoveries.

Aimee and David Thurlo: Second Sunrise


Native American police procedural meets vampires, witches and werewolves.  To give the authors their due, I guess with skinwalkers being a key part of Navajo mythology, it’s a proximate thought to capitalize on the past decade(s)’ vampire craze and go full tilt supernatural / paranormal, and the sequence of events that turns our protagonist into a (half-)vampire is / are well-enough executed.  Also, the Thurlos’ love for “their” Navajo country easily translates onto the page, and their prose and plot construction is assured and workmanlike (in a positive sense) enough for me to consider this reading experience encouragement to take a look at their “non-supernatural” Ella Clah Navajo cop series (which has actually been on my TBR longer than this particular book).  I guess I’m over vampires once and for all, though (unless they’re created by Terry Pratchett, that is) — and quite frankly, the antagonist’s back story is risible and shows that, supernatural elements aside, the authors really are only interested in giving a credible and true portrayal of Navajo Country, not also in researching the historical and political background of their plot in other respects, where instead they are quite happy to settle for hyperbole and cliché. So as I said, I guess based on their portrayal of Navajo Country (and culture) I’m still going to give them the benefit of the doubt and take a look at their Ella Clah series, but if that series should display similar downsides in its approach to the non-Navajo characters’ back stories, I won’t become a fan, however well-executed the Native American aspects of their books may be.

Marie-Elena John: Unburnable


This is a book from my Around the World project / reading list: the story of Lillian, a young woman of Caribbean descent who returns to her home island of Dominica in order to lay to rest the ghosts of her family history, which has been troubled ever since her grandmother — rumored to be a witch — was convicted for murder, after the unexplained disappearance of her male companion / common law husband, as well as the discovery of several skeletons near her remote mountainside village. Lillian believes the words that have been construed as her grandmother’s confession of guilt (“yes, I am responsible for those deaths”) to have been coerced;, and she bullies her ex-boyfriend, who still carries a torch for her and who is a lawyer specializing in overturning unjust convictions, to join her on a trip to Dominica to clear her grandmother’s name.

I thought the Caribbean / Dominican setting was well-executed; it’s obvious that John was writing from personal knowledge there — including, too, the cross-references between certain African and Caribbean cultures and belief systems.  What I liked decidedly less was the way the book was set up in what easily amounted to its entire first quarter, with apparently disconnected chapters tracing the histories of our protagonist, her mother, grandmother, as well as several other (also mostly female) characters important to the plot, and whose stories really only come together towards the end. This narrative technique is hit or miss with me, with “hits” occurring chiefly if I’m quickly drawn into each (apparently) separate character’s story, and if I can at least vaguely discern how the various strands are going to come together eventually. That wasn’t the case here, and things weren’t exactly helped by the fact that, especially at the beginning, John cuts a few corners by instances telling instead of showing, even though far be it from me to accuse her of doing this all the time (in fact, on the other end of the spectrum, there are also scenes that depict violence (by and) against women in a downright viscerally graphic manner). — Lastly, the plot fell apart for me towards the end, when it becomes clear that although Lillian (and her now-on-again boyfriend) find out what really happened all those decades ago, this is by no means the solution they have hoped for. (I do realize the depiction of Lillian’s falling apart instead of healing in Dominica is deliberate and is intended to be key to the novel, but John lost me in the way she went about depicting it.)