The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen


source: purchased
title: The Snow Leopard
author: Peter Matthiessen
published: 1978
genre: memoir/non-fiction/classic
pages: 336
first line: In late September of 1973, I set out with GS on a journey to the Crystal Mountain, walking west under Annapurna and north along the Kali Gandaki River, then west and north again, around the Dhaulagiri peaks and across the Kanjiroba, two hundred and fifty miles or more to the Land of Dolpo, on the Tibetan Plateau.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars

blurb:
When Matthiessen went to Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and, possibly, to glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard, he undertook his five-week trek as winter snows were sweeping into the high passes. This is a radiant and deeply moving account of a “true pilgrimage, a journey of the heart.”


my thoughts:
I co-read The Snow Leopard with Velvet over the past few weeks. This is Peter Matthiessen’s memoir documenting a trip he took through Tibet in the 1970’s with a zoologist named George Schaller.
Matthiessen’s writing is very descriptive and several beautiful passages stood out at me and as I read I was easily whisked away.

“Where the valley narrows to a canyon, there is a tea house and some huts, and here a pack train of shaggy Mongol ponies descends from the mountain in a melody of bells ad splashes across the swift green water at the ford. From the tea house, a trail climbs steeply toward the southwest sky.” -p. 18, The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen



I feel like sometimes a good book just finds it way to you and the timing is great. I found this to be a relaxing and interesting read during such stressful times now with the pandemic and quarantine.

I think Matthiessen was brave to go off and travel mainly on foot like that through all kinds of trails and terrains, climbing steep hillsides and seeing so many distant places and people. That takes guts. He pretty much did all of this with just the clothes on his back. It’s amazing to think of doing something like that. While he is out on his trek he finds zen moments of introspect and clarity. I try to meditate daily myself and although for the most part I liked when he spoke of Yogis and meditation, I did find some of what he referenced about enlightenment to be odd and just plain gross at times. I wasn’t expecting to read some of the things he was saying would constitute enlightenment but I’ll leave it at that.

The trip is full of inspiration but also of moments of sadness as Matthiessen misses his family and thinks about his late ex-wife. There is also the aspect of danger just on the periphery daily. These people are in remote locations with no nearby doctors, they are climbing steep hillsides and mountains, they need to make sure they have enough food and supplies as well. On top of that the elevation gives headaches and the snow blinds their eyes as they travel. This is a mentally and physically exhausting venture. Not to mention that being for months on end with the same people on such a difficult journey without creature comforts can drive you batty as well.
And I wondered how Matthiessen could up and leave his young son behind. I believe his son was 8 years old at the time of the trip. He promised him he would be home for Thanksgiving and he broke that promise.

Overall this is a beautifully written memoir about a man who goes on a trek to find himself and get a glimpse of the elusive snow leopard. I kept wondering, where is the snow leopard? Will they find it? Is it watching them? There’s a little twist at the end. Highly recommended.




I’ll close with some of my favorite passages:

“I have the universe to myself. The universe has me all to itself.”- p. 278, The Snow Leopard


“The secret of the mountains is that the mountains simply exist, as I do myself: the mountains exist simply, which I do not. The mountains have no “meaning,” they are meaning; the mountains are. The sun is round. I ring with life and the mountains ring, and when I hear it, there is a ringing that we share. I understand all this, not in my mind but in my heart…” p. 208, The Snow Leopard

“This stillness to which all returns, this is reality, and soul and sanity have no more meaning here than a gust of snow; such transience and insignificance are exalting, terrifying, all at once, like the sudden discovery, in meditation, of one’s own transparence.” p.169, The Snow Leopard

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen. Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The book photo in this post is mine and not to be removed from here.

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

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source: free copy via Amazon Prime membership
title: The Exorcist
author: William Peter Blatty
genre: classic horror/paranormal horror
published: 1971
pages: 380
first line: The blaze of the sun wrung pops of sweat from the old man’s brow, yet he cupped his hands around the glass of hot sweet tea as if to warm them.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars for horror with heart
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blurb:
Originally published in 1971, The Exorcist, one of the most controversial novels ever written, went on to become a literary phenomenon: It spent fifty-seven weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, seventeen consecutively at number one. Inspired by a true story of a child’s demonic possession in the 1940s, William Peter Blatty created an iconic novel that focuses on Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. A small group of overwhelmed yet determined individuals must rescue Regan from her unspeakable fate, and the drama that ensues is gripping and unfailingly terrifying.

my thoughts:

I have wanted to read The Exorcist for a while and I finally got the nerve to. I also wanted to make sure I read it fast which I did, so I wasn’t dwelling on it too much. I finished it in less than a week. What I found on reading this one is that it was terrifying yes, but also full of almost poetic writing with a well-developed plot and with characters that you root for. It is essentially a story about good vs. evil. The book is pretty much the same as the film but it has more heart.

I tend to become easily immersed in the books that I read so this was a scary experience for me but ironically The Exorcist  has become a new favorite horror novel. It is easily the scariest book I have ever read. I have been jumpy all week and scared of my own shadow. I don’t know when I will be able to go down to the basement again when I am home alone. Or how I will even agree to being left home alone now but I digress.
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A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh

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source: purchased
title: A Precious Jewel
author: Mary Balogh
genre: Historical/Regency Romance
pages: 316
published: 1993
rated: 4 out of 5
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blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh weaves a sensuous spell of romance that brings together the unlikeliest pair of lovers in the unlikeliest place of all– an infamous London house of pleasure.

She was unlike any woman he’d ever met in the ton or the demimonde. But Sir Gerald Stapleton frequented Mrs. Blyth’s euphemistically dubbed “finishing school” for pure, uncomplicated pleasure–and nothing else. So why was this confirmed bachelor so thoroughly captivated by one woman in particular? Why did he find himself wondering how such a rare jewel of grace, beauty, and refinement as Priss had ended up a courtesan? And when she needed protection, why did Gerald, who’d sworn he’d never get entangled in affairs of the heart, hasten to set her up as his own pampered mistress to ensure her safety–and have her all to himself?

For Priscilla Wentworth, the path leading to Sir Gerald’s bed had been as filled with misfortune as it suddenly seemed charmed. But Priss couldn’t allow herself to believe she’d ever be more to a man like Sir Gerald than a well-cared-for object of pleasure. Now, despite Gerald’s deep distrust of marriage, neither scandal nor society’s censure can keep them apart–only the fear of trusting their hearts.

my thoughts:

After having read A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh last December I knew this was an author I wanted to read again. I had a few qualms with A Christmas Promise, mainly because the hero was a jerk but the heart that the author gave her characters and the way the story-line just flowed left me wanting to try her again. I am glad I read A Precious Jewel.  There was so much from the Balogh catalogue to choose from since she has been writing for a few decades and what made me choose A Precious Jewel  was that in the blurb the two main characters are described as an “unlikeliest pair of lovers”. I am a sucker for unconventional love stories. I love it when the couples have to work for their love, it makes it worthwhile, just like in this particular story.

Priscilla Wentworth comes from a nice family and is a refined lady but she finds herself alone after her father and then her brother pass away from illness. Her mother died when she was young. Her brother did not leave a will so she contacts her former governess Mrs. Blyth and asks if she can stay with her at her finishing school until she turns 30 and is awarded her mother’s inheritance. Mrs. Blyth takes Priscilla in but confesses to her that her ‘finishing school’ is actually a house of prostitution. Priscilla finds herself in a horrible situation but decides to start working there as a courtesan. She knows it is not what she wants for herself but she also knows how much worse it could be since Mrs. Blyth thinks of her as a daughter and treats her well. She figures she will work a few years and save what she can until she gets her mother’s inheritance.

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Needful Things by Stephen King

needfulsource: purchased
title: Needful Things
author: Stephen King
genre: classic horror
published: 1991
pages: 790
first line: In a small town, the opening of a new store is big news.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
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Blurb:

Master storyteller Stephen King presents the classic #1 New York Times bestseller about a mysterious store than can sell you whatever you desire—but not without exacting a terrible price in return.

“There are two prices for this. Half…and half. One half is cash. The other is a deed. Do you understand?”

The town of Castle Rock, Maine has seen its fair share of oddities over the years, but nothing is a peculiar as the little curio shop that’s just opened for business. Its mysterious proprietor, Leland Gaunt, seems to have something for everyone out on display at Needful Things…interesting items that run the gamut from worthless to priceless. Nothing has a price tag in this place, but everything is certainly for sale. The heart’s desire for any resident of Castle Rock can easily be found among the curiosities…in exchange for a little money and—at the specific request of Leland Gaunt—a whole lot of menace against their fellow neighbors. Everyone in town seems willing to make a deal at Needful Things, but the devil is in the details. And no one takes heed of the little sign hanging on the wall: Caveat emptor. In other words, let the buyer beware…

my thoughts:

Needful Things was a re-read and is a toughie to review because it is such a long book with so many characters and events. It is hard to believe my copy is over 20 years old.

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In this classic, King takes us to Castle Rock and sets up the scene quite nicely. I love that about his writing, he takes his time introducing his characters and giving us a feel for them. There is a new shop in the small town of Castle Rock called Needful Things and the townspeople are very curious about it. The owner is a man named Leland Gaunt who seems to mesmerize his customers. When you walk into this store you find the perfect item for yourself that you didn’t even know you were looking for until you lay your eyes on it. Everything is for sale but everything comes at a steep price. It is akin to making a deal with the devil. The customers leave with the perfect item but not quite remembering how they promised Leland Gaunt what they would pay for it.

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Along Came a Spider by James Patterson

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source: purchased
title: Along Came A Spider
author: James Patterson (Twitter)
pages: 449
genre: crime thriller/detective fiction
published: December 1, 1993
first line: The Charles Lindbergh farmhouse glowed with bright, orangish lights.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars!
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blurb:
Discover the classic thriller that launched the #1 detective series of the past twenty-five years, now one of PBS’s “100 Great American Reads”

Alex Cross is a homicide detective with a Ph.D. in psychology. He works and lives in the ghettos of D. C. and looks like Muhammad Ali in his prime. He’s a tough guy from a tough part of town who wears Harris Tweed jackets and likes to relax by banging out Gershwin tunes on his baby grand piano. But he also has two adorable kids of his own, and they are his own special vulnerabilities.

Jezzie Flanagan is the first woman ever to hold the highly sensitive job as supervisor of the Secret Service in Washington. Blond, mysterious, seductive, she’s got an outer shell that’s as tough as it is beautiful. She rides her black BMW motorcycle at speeds of no less than 100 mph. What is she running from? What is her secret?

Alex Cross and Jezzie Flanagan are about to have a forbidden love affair-at the worst possible time for both of them. Because Gary Soneji, who wants to commit the “crime of the century,” is playing at the top of his game. Soneji has outsmarted the FBI, the Secret Service, and the police. Who will be his next victim?

Gary Soneji is every parent’s worst nightmare. He has become Alex Cross’s nightmare. And now, reader, he’s about to become yours.

my thoughts:

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Hellooooooo everyone. I am still here. I have to begin this post by saying that I miss you guys and I miss blog-land but I am still on major vacation/summertime mode. I am going to try to catch up online this weekend and hopefully by next weekend I will have an updates and mailbox post.

Anyway, onto my thoughts on Along Came A Spider by James Patterson a.k.a. my favorite book of 2018 so far. This book was fantastic and once I was finished reading I had a serious book hangover.

The New York Daily News says:
“James Patterson is to suspense what Danielle Steel is to romance”.

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