So, as light relief from that I started Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr. This series about a park ranger was recommended by several people when I asked for titles for the challenge. Because it was so popular I bought the first book for my Kindle and am already halfway through as it's a bit unputdownable. Love it. And this is the whole point of my challenge. I had never heard of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, in Texas. I feel ashamed to admit it. Look how beautiful it is:
Photos from the NPS. gov. site linked to above.
Now I have heard of it and read about it, albeit in a fictional book but... that said... the descriptions of the park are stunning and make me want to find out more. Which, in a nutshell, is why I'm taking on this Behemoth of a challenge. Some people must think I'm a penny short of a shilling to even try it but here I am, just a week or ten days in and I already know more that I did when I started. Who knew, for instance, that the 'ponderosa' was a pine tree? I didn't. I thought it was just the name of the ranch in Bonanza! But These is My Words informed me otherwise. It seems too that there may be two national parks of that name... I wonder if Anna Pigeon gets to either of them? Can't wait to find out.
And my third book arrived on Saturday, On the Banks of Plum Creek, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wondered how long I would be able to resist starting and the answer was precisely one day. I'm about 20 pages in and have I learnt anything yet? Well, yes as a matter of fact. Minnesota has prairie. How could I not have known that? I thought it was all forests and lakes! My ignorance it seems, is unending.
Okay... I'll give it a rest now and talk about something else.
So far this month I've read four books and only reviewed one. So I'll say a little about what else I've read.
I started the month with The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley. This is the second book in the author's 'Flavia de Luce' series. In this story Flavia finds herself involved with a travelling duo of puppeteers who suddenly turn up in Buckshaw. They can't pay for their van to be repaired so the vicar suggests they put on a performance in the village hall. Of course, it's not long before someone turns up dead and, as in the last book, Flavia has a lot more success in solving the crime than the local police. *Huge* fun. Love this series to bits and have book three on my library pile at the moment.
Next up, Syren by Angie Sage:
After their last adventures in The House of Foryx, Septimus returns to The Trading Post (the descriptions of this imaginary coastline were stunning) on Spit Fyre the dragon to pick up Jenna, Beetle, Nicko and Snorri. He finds them ensconced on Jenna's father's beautiful ship and only Jenna and Beetle will return with him on the dragon. A storm takes them off course and they crash land on an island. Spit Fyre is badly injured so they can't leave until he recovers. Is the island uninhabited? No, it's not. Septimus, as usual, finds trouble where he has not actually looked for it. This is such a great series. Very readable, a lot of humour and with characters who act like normal people. The books are aimed at 10 to 14 year olds I would say but are also a good, fun read for adults.
And lastly, The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett:
I snuck in a quick reread of this little book after reading Danielle at A Work in Progress's review of it here. And it was every bit as much fun as I remembered. The Queen chases one of her corgis into the mobile library, parked outside the palace, and ends up borrowing a book because she doesn't like not to. (So English.) It's by Ivy Compton Burnett and she finds it hard going but goes back for something else. A lad who works in the kitchen, Norman, helps her with titles and the queen is suddenly addicted to reading, which doesn't go down well with everyone... Such a joy this little book. Alan Bennett's unique brand of humour is understated and wonderful:
As it was, with this one she soon became engrossed and, passing her bedroom that night clutching his hot-water bottle, the duke heard her laugh out loud. He put his head round the door. 'All right, old girl?'
'Of course, I'm reading.'
'Again?' And he went off shaking his head.
Joyous. Anyone looking for a nice little Christmas pressie for someone bookish could do a lot worse.
And, last but not least I have to give a virtual pat on the back for the book title that made me laugh the most. It was amongst the recs for my American challenge and the pat goes to Kay at My Random Acts of reading. Book one of the Alafair Tucker series she recommended by Donis Casey is called, The Old Buzzard had it Coming. I'm still tittering.