Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way


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100 Books by 40: COLD COMFORT FARM

Book: Cold Comfort Farm
Author: Stella Gibbons
Published: 1932

This is an ode to references. Stella Gibbons is poking fun at books that were popular at the time. Novels that idealized English rural life were common with quirky characters and regional dialects galore.

I purchased this as an audiobook because I was headed out of town for the weekend and wanted something to listen to in the car. Due to my lack of planning, I didn’t have time to get the audiobook from the library. I failed to grasp the implications of purchasing a “dramatized” reading. Dramatic, it is.

This dramatized reading is complete with different voice actors for each character as well as sound effects. I could live without the sound effects. I do, however enjoy the different voice actors.

This book is a little tough for me to get into. In order to fully appreciate parody, I would need to be more familiar with what is being lampooned. Imagine watching Spaceballs without seeing Star Wars. Sure, it’s still funny, but many of the jokes would fall flat. That’s my experience with this book.

I’ve read a couple of the authors that Gibbons is parodying. Via this list, I’ve read the Bronte sisters and Thomas Hardy. But I sense that my familiarity would need to be more significant than one read through can give me.

Regardless, I enjoyed the book. I’m sure many jokes sailed over my head. And I suspect some of the absurd aspects of the plot were more obvious due to the voice actors interpretation. But, if you haven’t read any of the authors that this book lampoons, I suggest you skip it.

Reading now:
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett

Finished reading:
1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen – only 99 cents for Kindle edition
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens – have on Kindle
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy – have on Kindle
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens *I read this when I was too young to appreciate it; I would like to read it again as an adult. I will do so if I have time.
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time.
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac *I’ve read this twice. I will read it again if I have time. I have the unabriged unedited version and will probably take on that if time allows.
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel

Pending reading:
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie


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100 Books by 40: I CAPTURE THE CASTLE

Book: i Capture the Castle
Author: Dodie Smith
Published: 1948

A less interesting title for this book could be, Exercising Good Judgement in Love. And congratulations, main character of this book, you’ve managed to stick the landing on this while simultaneously being seventeen. And here lies the most preposterous aspect of the book’s plot. I’ve known many 17 year-old girls, myself included. Sensible judgement is not their strong suit.

But this book was published in the 40’s. Humans seemed to mature faster in the past. Perhaps that’s to do with so many men getting shipped off to wars at 18. Perhaps that’s to do with women becoming mothers at 20. Or perhaps it’s due to a shorter life expectancy in our not-so-distant past. What I do know is that maturity seemed to come earlier to people at that point in time. Perhaps maturity is driven by environment, and the lazy hairless apes that we are will fail to mature until life forces otherwise.

The book goes to lengths to indicate that the main character is mature for her age. But some things require experience. This girl exercises good judgement the first time she falls in love. I cannot suspend my disbelief.

But Castles are romantic. The setting for this book is an old castle in the English country side. The descriptions of the seasons passing over this idyllic setting are delicious.

The book is ok. I won’t read it again. If you love romance novels this might be your bag. It simply isn’t mine.


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100 Books by 40: Naughts and Crosses

I like the idea of this book. But wow, it was heavy-handed and overly dramatic. The author describes a dystopian alternate universe. In this place, white people ,naughts, were enslaved by black people, crosses. The books opens when the naughts are beginning the struggle to have equality.

This is a young adult book. The story centers around a young naught and cross who are in love. The story is about how they struggle with their love while occupying such different positions in their society. This is the least interesting part of the book.

The concept of flipping the script on race relations works. The story covers a bit about history, and the fact that it’s only written by the dominant race/culture. She lists naught inventors that were left out of history books, that results in leaving the students with the impression that only crosses are capable of making advances in science. The naughts that she lists are actual black inventors that are skipped over in most history books even today. She addressed the roll of media, and how the content can also further in accurate impressions of naughts as they are only covered when they engage in criminal acts. The TV show COPS anyone?

Did I like this book? Not exactly. I liked the concept. I didn’t like the book. Would I read it again? Certainly not. Should you read it? The concept is pretty great. And the book is an easy short read. Because I like the concept so well, I would suggest picking this book up. Just prepare yourself for out dramatic it is.