Sunday, December 27, 2015

BW52: 2015 Year End Wrap Up

Jonathan Wolstenholme - Many Books 

TA DA!  We've made it through another year. Our reading adventures took us around the globe, rambling and roaming in pursuit of literary adventures, thrilling mysteries and regency romances.  We delved into the capricious and cunning, debunked the banned, dipped into the fascinating world of creative non fiction, hiked into history and scrutinized the supernatural and spectacular ghostly tomes. We expanded our horizons as we burrowed into translated stories thanks to Archipelago Books, Europa Editions and Literary Saloon pointing us in new directions.  Let's wrap up our 2015 reading year before we do it all over again next year.

Please share your reading lists and tell us about your reading year:

How many books did you read this year and did you meet or beat your own personal goal?

Share your top 5 (or more) favorite books.

Which books or authors you thought you'd never read and were pleasantly surprised to like them?

One book that touched you - made you laugh, cry, sing or dance!

Share your most favorite character, covers and/or quotes?

One book you thought you'd love but didn't?

What countries or centuries did you explore?

What books would you recommend everybody read?

What was your favorite part of the challenge?

Congratulations and thank you to everyone for joining in and to those who followed our progress.  I may have challenged our comfort zones a bit this year and probably will even more so in the new year as we sail around the world.  Once I stepped outside my own reading box, I discovered so many new worlds. Plus it made me appreciate my comfort reads even more.  No matter what we read, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, literary or contemporary, historical or futuristic, a chunky book or a cozy, the most important thing is the reading.  For me, reading is as necessary as breathing. It is an escape or should I call it a decampment from the real world. I get rather crotchety without my books.  How about you?  I really appreciate you sharing your reading journeys with me.  I hope you had fun along the way, following your own reading paths and  rabbit trails and enjoyed your bookish journeys.  I look forward to 2016 and sharing another reading year with you all.  

Best wishes for a Happy Reading New Year! 

Link to your most current read and / or year end wrap up. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

BW51: Winter Solstice

Josephine Wall Tree of Four Seasons
Winter officially arrives here in the Northern Hemisphere with the Winter Solstice on Tuesday, the 22nd as well as Christmas on the 25th, marking the beginning of our Winter Reading.  This is also the beginning of our two week break from lessons for which I am quite thankful.  Time to curl up with a good book or two or three, amidst preparations for the new year and another round of 52 Books.  Yes, we are doing it all over again.  Did you have any doubts?   Scroll down below this post for the 2016 52 Books in 52 Weeks announcement and I'm Participating link. 

As the solstice ushers in winter and summer, it also present a turning point. Synonyms that come to mine are apogee, crown, rise,  crest, pinnacle, summit, pitch and zenith.  Winter brings cold, frost, chill, white, snow, rain, freeze, brisk, gloves and ice to name a few.  What do you think of when it comes to Winter or summer if you are in the Southern Hemisphere?  Christmas brings gifts, cheer, family, birthday, blessings, faith and yuletide. Peruse your stacks and choose a book about the solstice, Christmas, Winter, seasons or any related words and synonyms in the title.   

Happy Winter and yuletide greetings from my house to yours. 


History of the Medieval World
Chapter 75 - New Found Land
Chapter 76 - Schism
Chapter 77 - Danish Domination

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

2016 Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks

Are you ready to join me for another year of Reading 52 Books in 52 Weeks? The rules are quite simple. How you get there is up to you.  Whether you are a monogamous reader or like to dip into multiple books at a time, love diving into chunky books or sailing along with a beach read, submerging yourself in a classic or weighing anchor with those dusty books gathering dust on your shelves, it all averages out in the end.  The goal is to read 52 Books.  

We're going to sail around the world this year, starting off East of the Prime Meridian for the first half of the year, criss-crossing the oceans and seas, visiting various ports of call.  We have several author readalongs planned for the year from E.M. Forster's A Passage to India, to Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle, to Dante's Paradiso as well as revisiting Moby Dick and various adaptations of the story both fiction and non fiction.   We'll continue with Susan Wise Bauer's History series with our year long read of History of the Renaissance World.    Check out Monthly Themes and Readalong  for more information

There are several mini challenges to help amp up the fun, explore new authors and genres and spread your reading sails.

A to Z Challenge:  Challenge yourself to read books alphabetically by Title and/or by Author or both. Have fun searching out those difficult letters.

Dusty Mini challenge: Limit buying new books for 1 - 4 months and/or read 4 to 12 or more books gathering dust on your shelves prior to 2016.

Chunky Mini Challenge -  books more than 500 pages.

Well Educated Mind:  Continuing exploring the classics in 5 categories: Fiction, Autobiography, History/Politics, Drama and Poetry.  Susan Wise Bauer's 2015 revised version includes a new category of Science to explore.

All the challenges and readalongs are optional. Mix it up anyway you like.

  1. The challenge will run from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. 
  2. Our book weeks begin on Sunday. 
  3. Participants may join at any time. 
  4. All books are acceptable except children books. 
  5. All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc. 
  6. Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2016.. 
  7. Books may overlap other challenges. 
  8. Create an entry post linking to this blog. 
  9. Sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" below this post. 
  10. You don't need a blog to participate. Post your weekly book in the comments section of each weekly post. 
  11. Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post to link to reviews of your most current reads.

Happy Reading! 

I'm Participating in 2016

I'm Participating in 2016 

Copy and paste or type in your url website or blog address including

Sunday, December 13, 2015

BW50: Best of 2015

Courtesy of Cats Fine Art

I've been perusing all the best of  2015 book lists and finding many good books to add to my ever teetering stacks.  Some I am familiar with and others seemed to have flown beneath my reading radar...until now.   Since it is time to start thinking about next year, thought I'd spark your appetites and pocketbooks as well as mine. 

The Atlantic's editor and writers share the Best Book I Read This Year.   I've already added several to my wishlist.  

The Wall Street Journal's compilation Best Books from the best of 12 sources lists.  They tried to do all the work for me.   *grin* 

Explore Brainpicking's Best Art Books as well as Best Science Books of 2015.

Check out Bill Gates Best Of and his video of short reviews.

Bookriot's crew took a vote and came up with their best of the best

Bethane Patrick of the Literary Hub offers her 10 Great Books by Women Overlooked in 2015.

Have fun exploring! 


History of the Medieval World
Chapter 72 The Hardship of Sacred War
Chapter 73 Basil the Bulgar Slayer
Chapter 74 Defending the Mandate

***Note - We'll finish up in January and start History of the Renaissance World in February ***

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Sunday, December 6, 2015

BW49: Book news and birthdays

I want one!!!
The Bohemian Chair - picture courtesy of Dishfunctional Design 

Ready to dish and dine on delectable delights for dinner during December?  Yeah, me too. Don't you just love that chair. I seriously want one to curl up in and read to my heart's content.  It's time once again for some Cookish and bookish as well as birthday news.

December 6 

Poet William Stanley Braithwaite (1878–1962) influenced by English Romantic poets John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth.

Poet Alfred Joyce Kilmer 1886–1918) influenced by the natural beauty of the world.

December 7

Willa Cather (1873 - 1947)  Novelists about frontier life on the great plains including Death Comes for the Archbishop and O Pioneers!

Akiko Yosano  (1879 - 1942)  Most controversial classical woman poet in Japan.

December 8

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (1832-1910) 1903 Nobel prize winner and Norwegian poet and novelist

Richard Llewellyn (1906 - 1983) Welsh novelist best known for How Green was my Valley.

December 9

John Milton (1608 - 1674) English poet, best known for his epic Paradise Lost.

Sarah Wright (1928 - 2009)  African American writer and cofounder of Philadelphia Writers Workshop.

December 10 

Nelly Sachs (1891 - 1970)  1966 Nobel prize winner and German author.

Emily Dickinson (1830 - 1886)  American Poet.

December 11

Naguib Mahfouz  (1911 - 2006)  1988 Nobel prize winner and Egyptian novelist.

Cookish links:

27 favorite new cookbooks from Los Angeles Times 

Epicurious 2015 cookbook canon - 10 essential cookbooks 

and I guess it should come as no surprise that Goodreads Choice award for 2015 best cookbook goes to The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime

Bookish links:

Rainer Maria Rilke (author of Letters to a Young Poet) on the rewards of rereading.

Have no idea what to do with all those books?  Check out 35 things to do with them.

Enjoy reading only woman authors -- The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women.

Need something to do with your hands while listening to those audiobooks -- Try out a coloring book for adults.     And also check out Julie Beck's  article in The Atlantic -  Zen of Adult Coloring books.

And last but not least, 

Publisher Weekly compilation of  Best Books of 2015

The Guardian's Best Books of 2015.

Happy reading! 


History of the Medieval World 

Chapter 69 Kings of England  
Chapter 70 Baptism of the Rus  
Chapter 71 The Holy Roman Emperor  

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

BW48 - December dawdle and dabble

Courtesy Aiken House and Gardens

Our winter weather has finally arrived and it was a frosty thirty degrees this morning. Welcome to December - a time to dawdle and dabble.   I'm ready to curl up by a cozy fire with one of my fur babies and/or my hubby, and read. Our reading year has flown by far too quickly and I don't know about y'all, but I'm ready to just relax and read whatever suits my fancy this month from my teetering book stacks.    

Good thing that includes Henry James since he is our author flavor of the month.   I just happen to have Partial Portraits, an older 1970's version,  with his essays about the art of fiction as well as Emerson, Eliot and De Maupassant to name a few.  I read The Portrait of the Lady a few years back for a literature class, but never got around to reading any of his other stories, short stories or non fiction.  Now seems the perfect time.  

While we are dawdling this month, we can't forget this month heralds the arrival of Winter as well as Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, St Lucia Day, Boxing Day, and St Nicolas Day.  Plus  many other things to celebrate from the inspirational to the absurd like wear brown shoes day  to the silly like national Ding a Ling day to the optimistic with look on the bright side day.   

So go dawdle and dabble through your book stacks and enjoy! 


History of the Medieval World
Chapter 66 -     Turn of the Wheel pp 498 - 503
Chapter 67 - Capture of Baghdad  pp 504 - 510
Chapter 68 -       Three Kingdoms   pp 511 - 517 


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Sunday, November 22, 2015

BW47: Happy Thanksgiving

Courtesy of  Averie Cooks

The Pumpkin



Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold,
Like that which o'er Nineveh's prophet once grew,
While he waited to know that his warning was true,
And longed for the storm-cloud, and listened in vain
For the rush of the whirlwind and red fire-rain.

On the banks of the Xenil the dark Spanish maiden
Comes up with the fruit of the tangled vine laden;
And the Creole of Cuba laughs out to behold
Through orange-leaves shining the broad spheres of gold;
Yet with dearer delight from his home in the North,
On the fields of his harvest the Yankee looks forth,
Where crook-necks are coiling and yellow fruit shines,
And the sun of September melts down on his vines.

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before,
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

Oh, fruit loved of boyhood! the old days recalling,
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!
When we laughed round the corn-heap, with hearts all in tune,
Our chair a broad pumpkin,—our lantern the moon,
Telling tales of the fairy who travelled like steam,
In a pumpkin-shell coach, with two rats for her team!

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E'er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,
Brighter eyes never watched o'er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving! 


History of the Medieval World
Chapter 63: Basileus  pp 479 - 487
Chapter 64: Creation of Normandy  pp 488 - 491
Chapter 65:  The Kingdom of Germany   pp 492 - 497

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

BW46: Armchair Traveling West of the Prime Meridian

Courtesy of World Atlas

I had an epiphany after last week's post, since we only have a few weeks left in the year. (oh my!) Started giving some thought to 2016 and had a grand idea. For our armchair travels, will split our bookish travels and the world up into four quarters: Traveling East and West of the Prime Meridian and North and South of the Equator. Which will give everyone a variety of ways to go. For example: East of the pm and north of the equator booking it across Europe and Asia or exploring the seas, South of the equator and following the ocean currents or hang out in South America, West of the pm and sail across the Atlantic to North America.  I'm getting excited just thinking about it!

This week we'll be doing a scouting trip West of the Prime Meridian. But let's not forget those countries intersected by the dividing line on the Continent of Africa as well as Europe.  You can dip down into Morocco with Edith Wharton's tales of her journey in 1917 

In Morocco

Before hopping on a steamer ship and traveling across the Atlantic with Simon Winchester.


as well as Nathaniel Philbrick's In the Heart of the Sea, which Moby Dick was based upon.  By the way, if you missed the 2012 MD readalong, you'll get another chance in 2016.  More on that later. 

Are you in the mind to explore North America with Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods

or dip down into South America with David Grann's Lost City of Z.

Put on your traveling shoes and join me West of the Prime Meridian.

History of the Medieval World 
Chapter 60 - Great Army of the Vikings pp 458 - 465
Chapter 61 - Struggle for the Iron Crown pp 466 - 471 
Chapter 62 Kampaku  pp 472 - 478 

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

BW45: Armchair traveling East of the Prime Meridian

Seoul Korea - Beautiful steps around the world
courtesy of Kevin Lowry

It's been a while since we've been around the world, armchair style, so thought I'd meander about and see what I could find.  We've traversed the continents, our backpacks filled mostly with fiction, although I remember seeing a few travel and historical books mixed in with our reads.  Time to delve a bit deeper and see what we can see.  This week we'll trek east of the Prime Meridian and start at the North Pole with Hampton Sides and his thriller chiller of a tale - In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. 

Then drop down into Siberia with George Kennan's Tent Life in Siberia: An Incredible Account of Siberian Adventure, Travel, and Survival 

before exploring a bit of China with Peter Hessler's River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze.

I have a hankering to follow the Silk road across to the Mediterranean sea with Colin Thubron's Shadow of the Silk Road where I'll settle for a while on the Turquoise coast for a breather.

Join me in exploring East of the Prime Meridian.


History of the Medieval World 
Chapter 58 Foreign and Domestic Relations pp 442 - 449
Chapter 59 The Second Caliphate pp 450 - 457


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Sunday, November 1, 2015

BW44: Non fiction November

Welcome to Non Fiction November.  Are you ready for a month of reading diaries, dissertations and dramas as well as anecdotes, adventures and autobiographies. Our author flavors of the month are Truman Capote, Stacy Schiff and Bill Bryson.  Yes, a rather eclectic grouping and it just so happens that  I have those authors on my shelves. 

I'm actually not a huge fan of reading non fiction, except for writing books,  Which makes it all the more interesting that I'm now leading a flash non fiction writing class utilizing Dinty's Moore's Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Non Fiction.  I've stepped way outside my box and well as comfort zone with the writing exercises.  Which has lead to my wanting to read more non fiction.   

I've gathered quite a collection of world war history books as well as spy craft, thanks to my husband and son. Thanks to numerous recommendations, I now have Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra, Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, Susan Cain's Quiet as well as Erik Larson's Dead Wake and In the Garden of Beasts waiting in my stacks to be read.   We'll see how far I get. 

Also, thanks to the ladies on WTM, Stacia and Rose,  we have in the works for this month:  a comparison reading of Shakespeare's The Winter Tale along with Jeanette Winterson's modern retelling The Gap of Time

Join me in a game on Non Fiction Bingo, made especially for you all, and see how many bingo's you can complete, vertically, horizontally or diagonally.  And if you want to get really creative, try a T or an L or an E.   

Happy Reading! 


History of the Medieval World 
Chapter 56:  The Vikings -- pp  427 - 436
Chapter 57:  Long Lived Kings -- pp 437 - 441 

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

BW43: Jack O Lantern history and the Tale of Stingy Jack

Courtesy of The Harvest Club 

The Irish brought the tradition of carving pumpkins into Jack O'Lantern to America. But, the original Jack O'Lantern was not a pumpkin. Pumpkins did not exist in Ireland. Ancient Celtic cultures in Ireland carved turnips on All Hallow's Eve, and placed an ember in them, to ward off evil spirits.
 The Tale of Stingy Jack and the Jack O' Lantern
 Jack O'Lantern legend goes back hundreds of years in Irish History. Many of the stories, center round Stingy Jack. Here's the most popular story:  Stingy Jack was a miserable, old drunk who took pleasure in playing tricks on just about everyone: family, friends, his mother and even the Devil himself. One day, he tricked the Devil into climbing up an apple tree. After the Devil climbed up the tree, Stingy Jack hurriedly placed crosses around the trunk of the tree. Unable to touch a cross, the Devil was stuck in the tree. Stingy Jack made the Devil promise him not to take his soul when he died. Once the devil promised not to take his soul, Stingy Jack removed the crosses, and the Devil climbed down out of the apple tree.
Many years later, Jack died, he went to the pearly gates of Heaven and was told by Saint Peter that he was mean and cruel, and had led a miserable, worthless life on earth. Stingy Jack was not allowed to enter heaven. He then went down to Hell and the Devil. The Devil kept his promise and would not allow him to enter Hell. Now Jack was scared . He had nowhere to go, but to wander about forever in the dark Netherworld between heaven and hell. He asked the Devil how he could leave, as there was no light. The Devil tossed him an ember from the flames of Hell, to help Stingy Jack light his way. Jack had a Turnip with him. It was one of his favorite foods, and he always carried one with him. Jack hollowed out the Turnip, and placed the ember the Devil had given him, inside the turnip. From that day onward, Stingy Jack roamed the earth without a resting place, lighting his way as he went with his "Jack O'Lantern".
On all Hallow's eve, the Irish hollowed out Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets. They placed a light in them to ward off evil spirits and keep Stingy Jack away. These were the original Jack O'Lanterns. In the 1800's a couple of waves of Irish immigrants came to America. The Irish immigrants quickly discovered that Pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out. So they used pumpkins for Jack O'Lanterns.

Courtesy of The Pumpkin Nook

Yes, I know, this doesn't have anything to do with books.  However.....   Root (har har) through your bookshelves or look on Amazon and  see if you can find a book with Jack, Lantern, Irish, Pumpkin, Turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes and beets in the title.  You'd be surprised how many books you can find with rutabaga in the title on Amazon.  *grin*


History of the Medieval World 
Chapter 54 - Triumph of the Outsiders - pp 413- 422
Chapter 55 - the Third Dynasty - pp 423 - 426 


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Sunday, October 18, 2015

BW42: Poe's Tell Tale Heart

Edward Gorey's Tell Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart 


Edgar Allan Poe 

 True! --nervous --very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses --not destroyed --not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily --how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture --a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees --very gradually --I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded --with what caution --with what foresight --with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it --oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly --very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep.

It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously --cautiously (for the hinges creaked) --I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights --every night just at midnight --but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers --of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back --but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out --"Who's there?"

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening; --just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief --oh, no! --it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him.

He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself --"It is nothing but the wind in the chimney --it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel --although he neither saw nor heard --to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little --a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it --you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily --until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye. It was open --wide, wide open --and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness --all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense? --now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! --do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder!

I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me --the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once --once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye --not even his --could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out --no stain of any kind --no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all --ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o'clock --still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, --for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled, --for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search --search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct: --It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness --until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew very pale; --but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased --and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound --much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath --and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly --more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men --but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? 

I foamed --I raved --I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder --louder --louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! --no, no! They heard! --they suspected! --they knew! --they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now --again! --hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! --tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!"


History of The Medieval World
Chapter 52 - The New Sennacherib - pp 396 - 404
Chapter 53 - Castle Lords and Regents - pp 405 - 412


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Sunday, October 11, 2015

BW41: Alfred Hitchcock

Ominous October would not be complete without our master of suspense - Alfred Hitchcock.

I love Alfred Hitchcock movies.  They are so entertaining and creep you out at the same time. The first time I ever watched "The Birds," I ended up in the hallway, peeking around the corner.  I think I was nine at the time.  Silly, I know, however, it began my love affair with scary movies.  Not the blood and guts gory type, but the psychological thriller types.  Ones that leave it to your imagination, the murderous action just off screen.  Heart pounding, hand clenching, break out in cold sweat, jump in your seat, make you squeal stories. Speaking of squealing, my dad is the nervous sort and can't sit still during intense scenes.  He'd leave, come back. (now I know where I got it from).

Did you know some of his movies came from books:

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Lifeboat was an unpublished short story by John Steinbeck
Rear Window was based on Cornell Wolrich's 1942 short story  It Had To Be Murder
Psycho from a 1959 novel by Robert Bloch
Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
Suspicion was based on Before the Fact by Francis Iles
39 Steps taken from the novel by John Buchan
Vertigo written by Boileau-Narcejac

Check out this biography by Michael Wood which is available to kinder unlimited readers for free.

as well as the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine at The Mystery Place

and Goodreads list of Alfred Hitchcock anthologies, plus Popular Dark Gothic Hickcockian novels.

“There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” 
― Alfred Hitchcock


History of The Medieval World 
Chapter 49:  Charlemagne pp 371 - 379
Chapter 50:  the An Lushan Rebellion  pp 380 - 386

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