VivienneR's 2020 reading

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KeskusteluClub Read 2020

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VivienneR's 2020 reading

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 27, 2020, 2:35pm

Pond hockey, an everyday sight in Canadian towns. If the pond isn't accessible, any icy surface such as streets and back lanes are good substitutes. This painting is by Canadian artist, Doug Laird.

I've participated in Club Read since 2013. Mysteries are my go-to reading choice but actually I'll read just about anything. This year I hope to reduce my collection of mid-20th century women authors. Now that I"ve put it in words, I may have jinxed the plan.

Originally from Northern Ireland, I now live in the eastern side of British Columbia surrounded by snowy mountains.

I can also be found at the Category Challenge and if some of my reading choices seem odd, they were probably chosen to fill a challenge.

Currently reading:
The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham
Monday or Tuesday by Virginia Woolf

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 1, 2020, 4:38pm

Read in January:
1. Behind the beautiful forevers by Katherine Boo 4★
2. Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird 5★
3. The Breathing method by Stephen King 3★
4. A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote 4.5★
5. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom 1★
6. The word is murder by Anthony Horowitz 4★
7. This boy by Alan Johnson 5★
8. Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer 2.5★
9. Transcription by Kate Atkinson 4★
10. An Unfinished Season by Ward Just 3★
11. French women for all seasons: a year of secrets, recipes and pleasure by Mireille Guiliano 3★
12. Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths 4.5★
13. Shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon 2.5★
14. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson 4★
15. A Murder of Quality by John le Carré 3.5★
16. The mysterious affair at Styles by Agatha Christie 4.5★
17. War is over by David Almond illustrated by David Litchfield 5★
18. Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson 3.5★
19. The case of the missing servant by Tarquin Hall 3.5★

Read in February
20. Provence A - Z by Peter Mayle 3★
21. The Chain by Adrian McKinty 4★
22. Eustace and Hllda, the final volume of Eustace and Hllda : a trilogy by L.P. Hartley 5★
23. The Old Ways: a journey on foot by Robert Macfarlane 2★
24. The BFG by Roald Dahl 4★
25. The tale of Despereaux: being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo 3★
26. Neither here nor there: travels in Europe by Bill Bryson 3★
27. Noah Barleywater runs away by John Boyne 4★
28. The Falls by Ian Rankin 4★
29. Not quite dead enough by Rex Stout 3★
30. Austerity Britain 1945-1951 by David Kynaston 4.5★
31. The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor 4★
32. Another part of the wood by Beryl Bainbridge 3.5★
33. Dance me outside by W.P. Kinsella 4★
34. They came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie 3.5★
35. Live and let die by Ian Fleming 4★
36. Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce 4★

Read in March
37. In the country of men by Hisham Matar 4★
38. Eric Clapton: The autobiography by Eric Clapton 2.5★
39. The flatshare by Beth O'Leary 4★
40. The summer that never was by Peter Robinson 4★
41. The Button Book by Sally Nicholls, illustrated by Bethan Woollvin 5★
42. Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford 4.5★
43. The Misunderstanding by Irène Némirovsky 2★
44. Gone tomorrow by Lee Child 4★
45. The beautiful ones by Prince 4★
46. Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs by Caitlin Doughty 3★
47. Effie: the passionate lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais by Suzanne Fagence Cooper 4★
48. Five little pigs by Agatha Christie 4★
49. Paper Money by Ken Follett 3.5★
50. I know who you are by Alice Feeney 3.5★
51. The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carrê 4★
52. The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer 4★
53. Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie 4★
54. The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson 2★

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 1, 2020, 2:59pm

Read in April
55. Trust your eyes by Linwood Barclay 4.5★
56. As though I had wings: the lost memoir by Chet Baker 4★
57. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 1★
58. The caller by Karin Fossum 4★
59. Of wee sweetie mice and men by Colin Bateman 3.5★
60. Broken Ground by Val McDermid 4.5★
61. The rat catchers' Olympics by Colin Cotterill 3★
62. Dream Wheels by Richard Wagamese 4★
63. Killman by Graeme Kent 4.5★
64. The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu by Michael Stanley 3.5★
65. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie 4★
66. The girl in the polka dot dress by Beryl Bainbridge 4★
67. Sweet caress: the many lives of Amory Clay by William Boyd 3★
68. Bramton Wick by Elizabeth Fair 4★
69. Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: the body under the piano by Marthe Jocelyn 4.5★

Read in May
70. Dead Beat by Val McDermid 4★
71. Death of Yesterday by M.C. Beaton 3★
72. Between by Angie Abdou 3.5★
73. Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri 3★
74. Notes on nursing by Florence Nightingale 4★
75. Florence Nightingale by Laura E. Richards 4★
76. The Silent world of Nicholas Quinn by Colin Dexter 4★
77. A Better Man by Louise Penny 4★
78. One perfect lie by Lisa Scottoline 3★
79. The Murder Room by P.D. James 4★
80. Kick back by Val McDermid 3.5★
81. Fer de lance by Rex Stout 3★
82. The Whisper Man by Alex North 4★
83. Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq 4★
84. Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham 4★
85. The Tale of Mr Peter Brown - Chelsea Justice by Vita Sackville-West 3★
86. Mozart, the man and the artist, as revealed in his own words by Mozart, compiled by Friedrich Kerst, translated by Henry Edward Krehbiel 5★

Read in June
87. Bad Ideas by Missy Marston 4★
88. You bet your life by Stuart Kaminsky 3★
89. April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr's death and how it changed America by Michael Eric Dyson 3★
90. Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg 3★
91. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 4★
92. Trafalgar: the Nelson touch by David Howarth 4.5★
93. Bird Lives! : an Evan Horne mystery by Bill Moody 4★
94. Home by Toni Morrison 4★
95. The last voyage of the Karluk by Robert Bartlett 4.5★
96. Stieg Larsson, my friend by Kurdo Baksi 4★
97. Crack Down by Val McDermid 3★
98. Weekend at Thrackley by Alan Melville 3★
99. The Plant-Based Power Diet by Leslie Beck 4★
100. Blind Fury by Lynda La Plante 4★
101. Just What Kind of a Mother are You? by Paula Daly 4★
102. The fire next time by James Baldwin 4★

tammikuu 3, 2020, 4:04am

Happy new year, Vivienne! Dropping off my star - glad to see you set up a CR thread after all!

tammikuu 3, 2020, 10:48am

I love the picture at the top, Vivienne. It almost feels like it’s moving.

tammikuu 4, 2020, 2:11am

>4 AlisonY: Thanks, Alison, I just needed encouragement! Happy new year to you too!

>5 NanaCC: You're right, it does look like it's moving.

tammikuu 4, 2020, 2:13am

Behind the beautiful forevers by Katherine Boo 4★

A harrowing account of a Mumbai slum. The appalling poverty is matched by ubiquitous corruption as India's capitalism soars and the poor pay. Sadly this includes children who take their lives of scavenging for granted. Boo, a Pulitzer winning journalist, has written a page-turner, no matter how abhorrent the topic. The title is taken from advertisements posted on a wall for tiles that will be "beautiful forever", not than any Annawadians will ever own them.

tammikuu 4, 2020, 8:09am

Mid-20h century female authors sounds like a fun plan!

tammikuu 4, 2020, 9:40pm

Tough 1st book. Nice to see your new thread.

tammikuu 5, 2020, 1:11am

>8 ELiz_M: Thanks, I hope it turns out that way!

>9 dchaikin: It was. Nice of you to drop by.

tammikuu 5, 2020, 5:48am

Happy New Year! Glad you have a thread again.

tammikuu 5, 2020, 10:01am

>7 VivienneR: I have this on order from the library, Vivienne, so I expect I'll be getting to it this month or next (depending on when it comes in). Glad to hear that it's a good read.

tammikuu 5, 2020, 10:25am

>7 VivienneR: It seems to be a tough book, but really interesting. Thanks for putting this on my radar!

tammikuu 5, 2020, 12:22pm

>7 VivienneR: The library has it, so I may get to this one. It sounds interesting, but tough to get through. I’ll have to pick my time.

tammikuu 5, 2020, 8:44pm

>11 rachbxl: Thank you, it's good to be starting another year of reading and visiting the threads of other readers.

>12 AlisonY: I found that it was necessary to raise a mental protection barrier of sorts.

>13 raton-liseur: Yes, a tough book but worthwhile to understand the culture.

>14 NanaCC: Good idea to pick the right time.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 5, 2020, 10:57pm

Victoria the Queen: An Intimate Biography of the Woman Who Ruled an Empire by Julia Baird 5★

Well-researched and well-written, this sweeping biography held my interest throughout. I've read other books about Victoria and her ministers but this one puts them all in the shade. The social and cultural history of the era is a combined naturally with the Queen's story. What impressed me most was that Victoria abhorred race and class discrimination, and cruelty to children and animals, not qualities common at the time. Highly recommended.

The cover image is the portrait she placed in Albert's hands before his burial.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 3:58am

>16 VivienneR: I'm going to note this one, as I've got several Queen Victoria books on my wish list but have never known which is the best one to start with.

I'm thinking that the cover portrait is particularly kind to her - no wonder she wanted Albert to be buried with it!

tammikuu 6, 2020, 8:18am

>16 VivienneR: I’m looking forward to the new season of Victoria on Masterpiece. Your five stars is putting this book on my wishlist.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 1:51pm

>17 AlisonY: My first thought about Victoria is that her mourning went on forever. In fact she went on working just as hard, but just didn't appear in public. Baird's book is so well-researched that I'd put it at the top of your list.

>18 NanaCC: I think I read that the Masterpiece series was taken from Baird's book. I don't watch tv but will watch out for that show.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 2:19pm

When in Bath (UK) recently our (unreliable) tour guide told a funny story about Queen Victoria that made me realize I don’t know anything about her. Noting this book.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 3:36pm

>20 dchaikin: A funny story about Victoria? Intriguing!

I've been looking for your thread but it seems you haven't started yet. I look forward to seeing your reading list.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 3:53pm

It’s coming. I have had trouble deciding how to go about it...and I haven’t finished a book yet. So, just reading other threads now.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 4:11pm

Well, that's good news! I'll look forward to it.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 7:20pm

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Not really a children's book, but one that can be enjoyed by anyone. This is a beautiful autobiographical story from Capote with fabulous illustrations by Beth Peck.

I placed a hold on this in December and it just arrived, which is ok, because this book is a worthwhile read anytime.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 10:04pm

Got you starred!

tammikuu 7, 2020, 7:35am

>25 auntmarge64: Thanks for dropping by. I haven't managed to visit all threads yet but I'l make it soon! Happy New Year!

tammikuu 10, 2020, 1:23am

The word is murder by Anthony Horowitz 4★

I love it when crime writers do something out of the ordinary, which is exactly what Horowitz has done here. It's fresh and exciting and the reader has no idea what might be on the next page. Well done!

Thanks to rabbitprincess for this BB.

tammikuu 10, 2020, 8:20am

>27 VivienneR: I really liked this one too, Vivienne. I should read another. I think he’s quite clever.

tammikuu 10, 2020, 10:23am

>28 NanaCC: Yes, he is clever. I see there is another one (is this a series?) that I will read soon: The Sentence is Death.

tammikuu 11, 2020, 1:59pm

This boy by Alan Johnson 5★

After a childhood that makes the reader redefine the word poverty, Johnson went on to become a leading and popular politician and cabinet minister. That he survived the severe hardships of his childhood is amazing in itself, that he was unscarred by it and able to succeed in politics sends my admiration soaring. I'm looking forward to the second book in his autobiography, Please, Mr Postman, which I already own, followed by The Long and Winding Road. He was a devoted Beatles fan and used the song titles as appropriate book titles. A memorable book, memorable individual.

tammikuu 11, 2020, 2:57pm

I had never heard of Alan Johnson (apologies UK), his memoir sounds terrific.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 8:07am

I also loved This Boy, although I gave it 1/2 star less than you did. I own Please, Mr Postman and The Long and Winding Road but haven't read either one yet, so thanks for the reminder.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 3:22pm

>31 dchaikin: I had never heard of Johnson either, although it's been a while since I lived in the UK.

>32 kidzdoc: I've had it on my wishlist since it won the Orwell Prize and at last I decided it was time to spring for a copy. My husband read Please, Mr Postman and thought it was just OK, although I don't think that was the right book to read first.

Having grown up in the UK in approximately the same era, I've seen families in poverty, but was shocked at the level Johnson experienced.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 9:08pm

>32 kidzdoc: IIRC I also purchased This Boy after it was chosen as the winner of the Orwell Prize. One of my British friends who read that book also felt that Please, Mr Postman was good, but nowhere near as strong as the first book in the trilogy.

The poverty described in This Boy was surprising to me as well.

tammikuu 13, 2020, 4:00pm

Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer 2.5★

I believe I've had my fill of Jeffrey Archer. In this novel Archer has followed all the rules for creating a bestseller yet it fell flat for me. My copy was an audiobook narrated by George Blagden whose girlish voice was all wrong for the novel. As well, he had to strain to get something close to an upper crust accent, a painful experience for the listener. My rating was reduced even though it wasn't high to start with.

tammikuu 13, 2020, 7:33pm

>27 VivienneR: I do like clever mysteries; I'll add this to my WL. I've never been a huge Archer fan, so good to know I'm not missing anything.

>30 VivienneR: This memoir sounds wonderful.

tammikuu 13, 2020, 8:56pm

>35 VivienneR:

I suspect that this one will get better when he writes the next volumes - it has too much of a "first volume" feeling to it, doesn't it? :) I read it late last year and I liked it better than you did apparently but it is not his greatest...

tammikuu 13, 2020, 11:25pm

>36 BLBera: I'm hoping this is the first in a series from Horowitz.

>37 AnnieMod: Did you listen to the audiobook? I might have enjoyed it more if I'd read the print version. And yes, it did have that "first volume" feel.

tammikuu 14, 2020, 12:47am

>38 VivienneR: Nope - read it on paper. I rarely listen to books - I prefer to listen to audiodrama when I am listening to something or to a few very special combinations of narrators and authors... I can imagine how an inept narrator will make a disaster of it though... - it is a period novel after all. Oh well - I am planning on picking up the next one when it is out so we will see.

tammikuu 14, 2020, 10:52am

>39 AnnieMod: A "disaster" is exactly what it was. I don't know why I stayed with it. I'll watch out for your opinion of the next one before I consider it.

tammikuu 14, 2020, 6:18pm

>30 VivienneR: It usually would never even occur to me to read a memoir from a politician, but it sounds like I might have to consider this one. Also glad to see another positive review of the Horowitz book, since I've been trying to decide whether I want to read it.

tammikuu 16, 2020, 12:44pm

>41 valkyrdeath: This Boy just covered Johnson's life until he was about eighteen years old. I'm looking forward to his other books.

I have enjoyed all of the books I've read by Horowitz, and The Word is Murder even more than The Magpie Murders.

tammikuu 17, 2020, 1:11pm

Transcription by Kate Atkinson 4★

While not my favourite Atkinson novel, the writing as usual is fantastic and the story has a surprising twist at the end. Atkinson never fails to entertain.

tammikuu 17, 2020, 1:49pm

>43 VivienneR: I enjoyed this one too, Vivienne. I remember getting to the twist at the end, and thinking I should read it again to see what clues I must have missed. I didn’t, of course, too many books....

tammikuu 18, 2020, 2:42pm

>44 NanaCC: I know what you mean, Colleen! I kept the book so that I could read it again sometime knowing the twist was coming. I have a feeling I'll enjoy the second reading more.

tammikuu 18, 2020, 5:11pm

I liked Transcription too. Atkinson is an author I try to read everything of, but I've never gotten into her mystery series, having tried the first two.

tammikuu 21, 2020, 2:14am

>46 arubabookwoman: And I really like her mysteries! It's fortunate that we all like different books.

tammikuu 21, 2020, 1:12pm

Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths 4.5★

Stephens and Mephisto is one of my favourite series. Kudos to Griffiths who has researched the era well. It is set in Brighton in 1964, one of the years when rival groups of Mods and Rockers faced off in that city. Throw in the abductions of young women and excellent characters to get a page-turner mystery novel. The "Magic Men" served together in the war building phony ships and planes to fool the enemy. After the war one became a police officer and two others performed as magicians in variety shows, using their skills to help solve crimes.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2020, 5:48pm

>48 VivienneR: This sounds good, Vivienne! Wishlisted.

***you had already put this series on my radar.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2020, 6:10pm

>49 NanaCC: Glad to hear it, Colleen! I would advise you to start at the beginning of the series with The Zig Zag Girl set in 1950. They progress in time, and of course the characters get older.

ETA: there is no magic in the stories, but the names of magic tricks are used in the titles.

tammikuu 21, 2020, 10:25pm

>50 VivienneR: I think I always read a series in order, Vivienne, unless I’m unaware that a book is part of a series. I had the first book on my wishlist, and I have it tagged as your fault. :-)

tammikuu 22, 2020, 3:40pm

>51 NanaCC: Oh, I hope you enjoy it when you finally get to it.

tammikuu 23, 2020, 7:20pm

I've never really read a book focusing on her, so I've put Victoria the Queen on my list to read soon.

tammikuu 26, 2020, 3:28pm

>53 mabith: It's the best one that I've read about Victoria, Meredith. Well worth putting it on your tbr list.

tammikuu 26, 2020, 3:29pm

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson 4★

Larson's book is about Crippin and Marconi, an unusual pairing, until realizing that without Marconi's telegraph invention, Crippin would have escaped justice - if justice is the right word. Crippin was a mild man, pleasant, kind and married to a termagant, whereas Marconi was the nasty, obnoxious husband. Larson not only tells their stories and how they relate, but includes details of Edwardian life that brings the whole story to life. Recommended.

tammikuu 27, 2020, 7:33pm

A Murder of Quality by John le Carré 3.5★

I enjoy le Carré's spy novels but this is a good old-fashioned whodunnit. To my knowledge, this is the only mystery he wrote. The setting is a distinguished school where traditions, manners and class matter. George Smiley investigates on behalf of an old friend who received a letter from the wife of a teacher at the school claiming that her husband was trying to kill her. I wish le Carré had written more like this one.

This was my second reading (at least) of this novel and I left my original short review.

tammikuu 29, 2020, 1:29am

The mysterious affair at Styles by Agatha Christie 4.5★

Christie's playfulness and sense of humour shows in this, her first mystery novel, which was published in 1920. My favourite part was when one of the young female characters claims she has a secret love and Hastings has a couple of seconds of hope! I first read this when I was a pre-teen and have been enjoying her books ever since. It's funny that Poirot was referred to as elderly and yet his stories went on for more than fifty years.

tammikuu 29, 2020, 7:43pm

My latest Early Reviewer book:

War is over by David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield 5★

Set in 1918, this book is about John, a boy whose mother works in a munitions factory and his father is away fighting. Schoolteachers, police, the general public and even kids encourage fighting and play at fighting, while John suffers anxiety that war might last forever. Even now he can hardly remember his Dad's voice or what he looks like. For children whose only knowledge of war is taken from movies, this book would be enlightening as it is a more forthright depiction of the home front including the treatment of conscientious objectors and the suspicions of everyone in authority. Heartbreaking, grim, but ultimately hopeful. This is a beautiful book, highly recommended.

Litchfield's superb black and white art is perfectly fitting for the story: birds mixed with bombs in the sky, children at play transforming into soldiers fighting, shells exploding amid soldiers.

Intended for grades 4-6, age range 9-12 years. This would also be a good choice for older readers who have difficulty reading.

tammikuu 29, 2020, 11:19pm

>57 VivienneR: It's funny that Poirot was referred to as elderly and yet his stories went on for more than fifty years.

That's where I draw the line between old-fashioned Golden Age (or Golden Age-style) mysteries and modern ones - if your detective does not grow old (or does it too slow compared to time passed between books and so on) with the passing of time, you are in the GA style. Makes it much easier to read them out of order though... :) And as much as I appreciate the new style and what it can do, I sometimes wish that some of the masters of the craft of today decide to write in the old style for some detectives...

tammikuu 30, 2020, 12:35am

>59 AnnieMod: I agree! There is too much dependence on technology in modern mysteries (mobile phones, face recognition, security cameras). While I enjoy many of them, one series I'm following started off in the fifties and jumps about ten years between episodes. It makes it very difficult to keep mental pictures of the characters.

helmikuu 1, 2020, 9:19pm

I’ve been offline for a few days, and look at all you’ve read. :-)

>57 VivienneR: I love Agatha Christie, and this one is fun.

helmikuu 1, 2020, 9:24pm

>61 NanaCC: I noticed you were MIA and hope all is well. I read The Mysterious Affair at Styles to fill a challenge for a book published in 1820. It's amazing to realize it was written so long ago when the genre hadn't yet been formed.

helmikuu 1, 2020, 9:25pm

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall 3.5★

Punjabi private detective Vish Puri, Chubby to friends and family, is the self-styled Most Private Investigator and boss of several assistants. Here he is searching for a missing servant, believed murdered by her employer, Puri's client. Hall's story captures the India of legend, hot, dusty, utterly corrupt, but the inclusion of humour makes it an entertaining story - how could it not be with Chubby, wife Rumpi, and Mummy-ji's help - set in modern Delhi. Hall, a part-time resident of India, has captured the nuances of the language and culture, scattering the text with Punjabi words and explanations, effectively aided by a glossary. This was a fun read and I'll be looking out for the next in the series.

helmikuu 1, 2020, 9:27pm

>62 VivienneR: I’ve been busy trying to de-clutter my house after thirty years. We will be moving to a one level house or condo, most likely in Massachusetts. It’s a bit overwhelming. I’d like to get my house on the market by April or May.

helmikuu 1, 2020, 9:48pm

>64 NanaCC: Oh, what a job! We've moved so many times we have it down to a fine art but still, I don't want to tackle it again.

A one level home will make things easier for you and your husband but I know it is difficult.

Good luck on the de-cluttering. :)

helmikuu 4, 2020, 7:24pm

Provence A - Z by Peter Mayle 3★

Some parts were more interesting than others, but it was mostly entertaining throughout. My only quibble is that he often mentioned the negative opinion of the locals against tourists. I know some tourists deserve this but it reminded me of a specific place I once lived which the locals thought perfect and didn't want any outsiders, whether tourists or residents, arriving to spoil it. Even the newspaper often had articles and letters proposing they "close the gates". Thanks to Mayle, Provence is now the second place where I will not visit.

This was an audiobook with excellent narration by John Lee, which I hope has improved my French pronunciation even a little.

helmikuu 6, 2020, 9:33pm

The Chain by Adrian McKinty 4★

A great thriller playing on the love we have for our children. Like a chain letter, the recipient must keep it up or bad things will happen. Very bad. A real page-turner.

helmikuu 7, 2020, 6:57pm

Eustace and Hllda, the final volume of Eustace and Hilda : a trilogy by L.P. Hartley 5★

Eustace, wanted little in life other than the companionship of his older sister, Hilda. His fascination and admiration has continued for the aristocratic family living in the small seaside town, particularly their son, Dick Stavely. He hoped Dick would fall in love with Hilda making her the lady of Anchorstone Hall. And although they become friends of sorts, it ended badly. Eustace accepted the passing invitation from Lady Nelly to spend some time with her in Venice, but after a couple of months his company has become less attractive. Hartley, with great subtlety, shows how Eustace and Hilda are buffeted by the lifestyle and ways of the upper classes without ever being sanctioned members. Being uneducated in the ways of the aristocracy, they are far out of their depth and unable to find their feet. Like the analogy of the shrimp being devoured by the sea anemone, no one comes out unscathed.

Hartley's writing has an unhurried gentle pace which nevertheless has an amplitude that never flags.

This is the final volume of the trilogy.

I've also posted a review for the trilogy here: - here

helmikuu 9, 2020, 11:13am

>43 VivienneR: I will read anything by Atkinson, Vivienne. I did enjoy this one as well.

I started The Zig Zag Girl but it wasn't holding my interest so I put it down. I'm a huge fan of the Ruth Galloway series and maybe I should try this one again.

Thunderstruck sounds good. I've enjoyed other books by Larson.

>63 VivienneR: This sounds like one I would enjoy as well.

You've done some great reading so far this year!

helmikuu 9, 2020, 2:12pm

>69 BLBera: Hi Beth! Atkinson is wonderful! I too will read anything she writes.

I imagine The Zig Zag Girl and the series mostly attract British readers who are familiar with variety shows. The series reminds me of my young days.

Hall's book was a lot of fun.

Yes, I've had a lot of good reading but also a few less than stellar works for which I didn't bother to post comments.

helmikuu 11, 2020, 2:19pm

The Old Ways: a journey on foot by Robert Macfarlane 2★

This was not what I thought it would be and that made it disappointing. I expected it to be about Macfarlane's personal experiences of walking historic tracks in keeping with the subtitle "a journey on foot", yet quite early in the book he introduces boating, and experiences of other people. It was difficult to concentrate on the book when the author went so far off topic. Although his writing is lyrical and literate in a pretentious way he can veer into purple prose territory.

I acquired this because I enjoyed The Lost Words: a spell book, which was excellent. This one was a 432 page slog.

helmikuu 12, 2020, 6:48pm

>71 VivienneR: Ugh! That’s long for a book you didn’t like.

helmikuu 12, 2020, 7:55pm

>72 NanaCC: Hi Colleen, good to see you again. Macfarlane's book was too long even if it had been about a walking journey.

helmikuu 13, 2020, 12:19am

The BFG by Roald Dahl 4★

Tremendous fun, with many laugh-out-loud moments. Dahl is so clever with wordplay. One of my favourites, of which there are too many to quote, was the giant calling Charles Dickens "Dahl's Chickens".

This was an audiobook with brilliant narration by David Williams.

helmikuu 13, 2020, 4:26am

>74 VivienneR: Dahl was such a brilliant writer. His imagination just leaps from the pages. I can imagine Walliams would have been perfect narrating this (assuming you meant Walliams and not Williams).

helmikuu 13, 2020, 4:16pm

>75 AlisonY: Brilliant indeed!

Thanks for the name correction! I had ?? beside the narrator's name, as it didn't appear on the info with my audiobook and I had to go by the narrator's introduction, which I obviously misheard (besides, another LTer used Williams). Now I know who he is. What an excellent job. Dahl must have been delighted.

helmikuu 13, 2020, 9:37pm

The tale of Despereaux: being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup and a spool of thread by Kate DiCamillo 3★

I enjoyed this children's story but would probably have enjoyed it more if I had not read it right after The BFG, a hard act to follow.

helmikuu 16, 2020, 3:54pm

Neither here nor there: travels in Europe by Bill Bryson 3★

Bryson simultaneously complains and laughs about his travel experiences. Like many tourists, he is looking for his impression of what a place should be like, and naturally never finds it. It was entertaining but not one of his best.

helmikuu 16, 2020, 5:14pm

I'm not sure I've ever got around to reading a Bryson book yet. I don't know why as I do enjoy travel stories. I might even have one on my shelf somewhere.

helmikuu 17, 2020, 12:42am

>79 AlisonY: I've enjoyed anything I've read by Bryson. This one was funny, but just ok. A Walk in the Woods was one of my favourites.

helmikuu 17, 2020, 2:20pm

I suspect my granddaughter might be of an age to appreciate The BFG; I'll suggest it to my daughter.

I am determined to read something by Bryson this year. I think I would enjoy him.

I love Kate DiCamillo.

helmikuu 17, 2020, 3:03pm

>81 BLBera: Glad your granddaughter might be reading The BFG. Youngsters love all that wordplay that Dahl is so good at.

Bryson is a very entertaining writer but don't start with Neither here nor there, it's not his best. I enjoyed A Walk in the Woods.

That was my first DiCamillo. I'll watch for more.

helmikuu 18, 2020, 1:44am

Noah Barleywater runs away by John Boyne 4★

Early in the morning, before breakfast, Noah Barleywater ran away from home. He took a forest path coming across many puzzling things and strange creatures and where he eventually came to a toyshop. Over the course of the day the old man who owned the shop told Noah his life story and along the way, Noah's reason for running away is revealed. This is a charming, refreshingly different story that is filled with nonsensical ideas and yet its message hits the spot. It even has a nice twist at the end.

Intended for 8-12 year olds, this charming story may be enjoyed by anyone. It would be an excellent book for a child who is facing the loss of a loved one - or anyone who is looking for an afternoon with a delightful story.

helmikuu 18, 2020, 2:28pm

The Falls by Ian Rankin 4★

Another terrific visit to Edinburgh, this time with a more historic flavour than criminal underworld. Rebus has a new boss now that the Farmer has retired, and is beginning to see himself in the role of retiree with trepidation. This story has a lot to offer not least the many mentions of music, for which a handy notebook is essential as an aide memoire.

helmikuu 19, 2020, 1:16am

Just wanted to stop by and see how you are and what you've been reading, Vivienne.

Strangely for someone like me who is both a completist and someone who likes to read books in order, The Falls was the first Rebus I read and I think that was before I realised it was a series! His books are good and increasingly so as the series went on.

helmikuu 19, 2020, 1:27am

Hi Paul, nice to see you over here!

As I did for many series, I read a few Rebus books pre-LT but just picked up whatever was available at the library. I agree, Rankin's writing and the stories got better as he progressed. This one made me want to pick up the next one immediately.

helmikuu 21, 2020, 5:33pm

Austerity Britain 1945-1951 by David Kynaston 4.5★

An interesting look at the state of Britain at the end of the second world war and the beginnings of recovery. Kynaston illustrates just how much the British suffered during the war years and how much had to be done. He provides a close look at food availability, housing, employment, economics, town planning, education, race relations, and the introduction of national health services. It shows that the first few years after the war were just as bleak, possibly more so, than the six years of conflict had been. As late as 1947 the already stringent rations were cut further, and for the first time potatoes were rationed.

In January 1947 it was noted by author and editor John Lehmann (friend of Christopher Isherwood): "The adrenaline (i.e. of war) was no longer being pumped into our veins. We endured with misery and loathing the continual fuel cuts, the rooms private and public in which we shivered in our exhausted overcoats, while the snow blizzards swept through the country again and yet again. Were there to be no fruits of victory? The rationing cards and coupons that still had to be presented for almost everything from eggs to minute pieces of scraggy Argentine meat, from petrol to bed-linen and 'economy' suits, seemed far more squalid and unjust than during the war."

In 1950 the good news was that eggs and soap were no longer rationed, while meat (4 ounces weekly), cheese, fats, sugar, tea and candies remained on the rationed list. After 10 years of rationing, petrol was removed from the list just in time for the Whitsun weekend, causing long queues, including one over two miles long. There is no doubt that the six years following the war were in some ways harder than the war itself but the end was in sight.

Race discrimination was described by Guyanian E.R Braithwaite who, despite a Cambridge degree could only find a teaching job in one of the East End "sink schools". He was later to tell of the experience in his book To Sir, With Love which also became a memorable movie. New radio and television shows became so popular they made writers and actors into household names.

Kynaston's comprehensive information is a valuable resource for historians but, while frequently fascinating, it is more detailed than most readers will need. This substantial volume comprises the first two books of Tales of a New Jerusalem a projected series about Britain between 1945 and 1979 intended to tell the story of ordinary citizens and celebrities as well as the decision-makers. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher changed direction and so began a new era.

I've been reading this huge but excellent book for the last month. The only thing that prevented me from giving it five stars was that there was not one mention of Northern Ireland, my country of origin that I know was affected to the same degree as the rest of Britain.

helmikuu 23, 2020, 9:22am

>87 VivienneR: sounds like an interesting read, Vivienne. I think I'd enjoy this as a follow up to the WWII reading I did a few years ago.

helmikuu 23, 2020, 3:26pm

>88 AlisonY: It has all the small details that are often left out of other works. I just planned on having a look through it but then found it so interesting I had to finish it.

helmikuu 23, 2020, 4:05pm

The Hiding Place by C.J. Tudor 4★

Joe goes back to his hometown as a teacher in his old school It appears he has issues to settle. The town has secrets, the characters have secrets, not the least of those are Joe's. A great story with lots of suspense and just enough horror to keep you on the edge of your seat. Joe's narration was frank even though he didn't know all the answers or who to trust. Should we even trust Joe? Very enjoyable.

helmikuu 23, 2020, 5:46pm

Another part of the wood by Beryl Bainbridge 3.5★

As Lynn Barber notes in the introduction, the camp used in this novel is based on one Bainbridge visited as a child, built by a philanthropist as a place for slum families to get fresh air. It is meant to be idyllic but I can't help thinking that the families it was intended for must have regarded the bunkhouses with no electricity, scratchy blankets, straw-filled mattresses, and chemical toilet, with as much horror as Bainbridge's characters. The story, with spare narrative is set in the 1960s, and is more about emotional forces than action or plot. The author's style is not to spell everything out but to leave much to the reader's intelligence. The intensely unlikeable characters grouse and find fault with each other until the catastrophic conclusion is inevitable

helmikuu 25, 2020, 12:21pm

For Freedom to Read week, February 23-29, I read a book challenged in some Ontario libraries:

Dance me outside by W.P. Kinsella 4★

A collection of short stories set on a reservation in Alberta. Funny in places and desperately sad in others. My favourite was the first story Illianna Comes Home.

helmikuu 26, 2020, 4:55pm

They came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie 3.5★

This is the only Christie book that I haven't read before because I always thought I'd prefer the whodunnits over espionage. That still holds, but this was a lot of fun. Victoria Jones is a wonderful character, a reckless romantic who has a taste for excitement. Add an archaeological dig into the mix, complete with an absent-minded archaeologist with the obligatory double-barrelled name and you have a perfect example of a Christie adventure story.

helmikuu 28, 2020, 12:49am

Live and let die by Ian Fleming 4★

The writing is dated but it must be remembered that this was written in 1954. It was classic James Bond, filled with excitement, danger and a love interest. No wonder I was enthralled by Fleming's books when I was a teenager.

helmikuu 29, 2020, 3:04pm

Immediate book bullet for Austerity Britain. Thank you for your excellent review!

helmikuu 29, 2020, 5:13pm

>95 mabith: Thank you, so glad to be of assistance. I thought I might just browse through it and ended up reading every word!

helmikuu 29, 2020, 5:14pm

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce 4★

A somewhat slow opening about a young woman who dreams of becoming a "Lady War Correspondent" developed into a wonderful, heartwarming story. When Emma gets an interview for an office junior at the address of a major newspaper she is over the moon with happiness and doesn't pay attention to what will be expected of her. The job is not at the newspaper but in a related women's weekly magazine, typing responses in the "help" column. Her boss, the formidable Henrietta Bird, is adamant about shredding letters that mention relationships, love, and any other topic she regards as "Unpleasant". The inevitable happens and Emma starts secretly responding to the rejected appeals.

Pearce describes realistic WWII conditions in blitzed-out London, especially as they apply to women. In turns funny, sad, and poignant, the story illustrates the astonishing courage of the most ordinary people during the blitz. Recommended.

helmikuu 29, 2020, 9:03pm

Dear Mrs. Bird sounds terrific. I loved your review of Austerity Britain (>87 VivienneR: ) Not sure I want to read the book, but it's something I know nothing about. All the details you mention are fascinating to me.

maaliskuu 1, 2020, 12:51am

Thank you, Dan. Austerity Britain is quite a doorstopper so I understand if you don't want to pick it up. Fascinating though.

Pearce's account of wartime London was the most accurate I've read in fiction.

maaliskuu 1, 2020, 6:21pm

Just dropping by to say "hi."

BFG was my daughter's favourite Dahl (mine is James and the Giant Peach.

I thought Neither Here Nor There was hilarious, but I suspect it's rather dated now.

maaliskuu 1, 2020, 6:29pm

You got me with Mrs. Bird, too. Sounds great!

maaliskuu 1, 2020, 6:35pm

>87 VivienneR: This sounds comprehensive, Vivienne. Interesting omission of Northern Ireland, though.

I also loved Dear Mrs. Bird; it was more than I expected.

maaliskuu 1, 2020, 7:50pm

>100 Nickelini: Hi Joyce! I think BFG might be my favourite too, but I haven't read James and the Giant Peach yet.

I laughed out loud a couple of times while reading Bryson's book but on reflection, really there was little information about the countries where he travelled.

>101 sallypursell: Good! Glad to be of assistance!

>102 BLBera: I wasn't surprised, Northern Ireland is often left out of books about Britain. And it's often left out of books about Ireland too, or relegated to the last few pages.

Glad you enjoyed Dear Mrs Bird too, Beth. I agree, it was better than anticipated.

maaliskuu 2, 2020, 3:44am

>97 VivienneR: Dear Mrs Bird sounds fun - must keep an eye out for it.

>103 VivienneR: I guess the author could argue that it's reasonable to leave NI out of this book as it's a book about Great Britain rather than the United Kingdom, but yes - we do tend to get forgotten (despite the amount of noise we've been making for the past 50 or 60 years!).

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 2, 2020, 2:29pm

>104 AlisonY: Yes, the title is an explanation in itself, but it still irks. :)

The extent of the issue first became apparent when I did a research paper in library school about travel in NI. Of course that was pre-internet and I was limited to the holdings of local libraries.

maaliskuu 4, 2020, 1:23am

In the country of men by Hisham Matar 4★

Suleiman, a nine-year-old boy in Libya is ignorant of the threat brought about by the new regime of Muammar Gaddafi. He unwittingly supplies information to the secret police who are watching his home for the father they suspect of being a subversive. Matar has created an outstanding story from a difficult, brutal era in Libya, an era to which he was personally exposed. His writing is beautiful, as is apparent in the scene where the boy is feasting on mulberries, as well as the execution scene that is televised and with every minute detail noticed by the audience. This is a profound story that the reader will remember long after closing the book.

maaliskuu 4, 2020, 2:30pm

I’m happy to see that you liked Dear Mrs Bird. It was an unexpected delight.

in the Country of Men sounds good. I’ve had very little time for reading lately, but I’ll add to my list.

maaliskuu 4, 2020, 4:37pm

I know you are busy, Colleen but it's good to see you dropping by. I hope things are going well.

maaliskuu 5, 2020, 3:58pm

Eric Clapton: The autobiography by Eric Clapton 2.5★

I've never been a fan of blues music but I once read that Clapton was the best guitarist ever. That's questionable. His memoir is little more than a resume, a list of bands he played with, guitars he bought, albums he made, money he made, women he shagged. It's honest, as far as can be remembered through an alcoholic haze, but reveals him as shallow and selfish. If you are looking for a book about just how drunk a person can get, or how stoned, destructive, arrogant, abusive they can be, then this is for you. What bugs me is that as a collector of music some of my money has ended up in his pocket.

It's difficult to rate this, Clapton was such an insufferable person making the vacuous content of little value, but the unremarkable writing (co-written by Clapton's friend Christopher Sykes) pushes it up to 2.5 stars.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 7, 2020, 5:04pm

>109 VivienneR: I wonder is this just par for the course with many musicians, Vivienne? I've come away with exactly the same impression from a number of musician autobiographies I've read in the past few years, and without exception they've all come across as totally odious people. I do like a number of the Cream tracks in particular, though - 'I Feel Free' is one I put on quite often when I'm having an 'Al's Disco' moment in the kitchen.

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 3:38pm

>110 AlisonY: That's been my experience too, but somehow I keep hoping I'll find something worthwhile. I really knew little about Clapton because I guess I wrote him off early so he's never been on my radar. Joe Satriani, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and the like are more to my taste in rock music. I'll think of you having your disco moment in the kitchen!

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 8:34pm

>109 VivienneR: “pushes it up to 2.5 stars.” Oh my!

maaliskuu 10, 2020, 2:15am

>112 NanaCC: Not what I'd call fun reading. :(

maaliskuu 12, 2020, 6:01pm

The flatshare by Beth O'Leary 4★

What a funny, quirky story with just enough serious content to prevent it from becoming too fluffy. It's not so much a flat share as a bed share - for two total strangers who keep it up for several months without meeting and communicating only by post-it notes. Leon, a night nurse, gets the right side of the bed during the day and Tiffy gets the left side at night. Sounds bizarre, but O'Leary pulls it off in this highly entertaining debut.

My thanks to RidgewayGirl who provided the bullet.

The summer that never was by Peter Robinson 4★

Banks is enjoying the joys of a Greek island getaway to recover from his last case when he reads about the body of a young man uncovered at a building site. When he discovers the body is an old friend who disappeared while doing his paper route in 1965, Banks rushes off to give whatever aid is needed. Meanwhile in Yorkshire, Annie is investigating a missing 15 year old boy. These parallel cases made for an intriguing mystery novel with a clear, uncomplicated presentation. As Banks has plenty of of reason to look back to 1965 and his youth the reader is treated to a reminiscence of the politics and music of the era. This is one of my favourites from Robinson.

maaliskuu 16, 2020, 3:30pm

>114 VivienneR: I still need to start Inspector Banks, Vivienne. You put it on my wishlist quite a while ago. It looks like I have a lot of good reading ahead

maaliskuu 16, 2020, 8:13pm

>115 NanaCC: He was very nearly dumped after the last one in the series, which I hated, but he is back on form in this one. Banks and Annie Cabbot have an on again/off again relationship but always friends. This is an author you can keep in mind for after your move when you have lots of free time. :)

maaliskuu 17, 2020, 6:53pm


Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford 4.5★
A wickedly funny story about the aristocracy in the years between the wars before the decline of that echelon. Mitford's characters are delightfully eccentric. When heiress Polly marries someone regarded as unsuitable she is banished and the Montdores search out the next in line who is found in Nova Scotia, Canada. He turns out to be not a lumberjack but a colourful gay man. Just right. This was wonderful! I enjoyed it even more than The Pursuit of Love.

Some favourite quotes:
"Sea breezes, in so far as they are good for the complexion, were regarded by us as a means and not an end, for at that time it was our idea to live in capital cities and go to the Opera alight with diamonds, 'Who is that lovely woman?' and Nova Scotia was clearly not a suitable venue for such doings."

"Lady Montdore loved anybody royal. It was a genuine emotion, quite disinterested, since she loved them as much in exile as in power, and the act of curtsying was the consummation of this love. Her curtsies, owing to the solid quality of her frame, did not recall the graceful movement of wheat before the wind. She scrambled down like a camel, rising again backside foremost like a cow, a strange performance, painful it might be supposed to the performer, the expression on whose face, however, belied this thought. Her knees cracked like revolver shots but her smile was heavenly."

Fanny worried that Uncle Matthew, who brought her up, held little hope for Alfred, her new husband - "the fella reads books".

The Misunderstanding by Irène Némirovsky 2★

Maybe it was reading this right after Mitford's mischievously funny book (Love in a Cold Climate) which meant Némirovsky did not compare favourably. This was Némirovsky's first novel and she did get better but the characters here were highly annoying. Impoverished Yves found it impossible to say no, while the wealthy Denise thoughtlessly expected him to fork out for her every whim. The writing was below par too, with frequent comparisons used instead of descriptions: "like a flower opening, like a tulle dress flowing, and the like, some did not even create the intended image. Disappointing to say the least.

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 10:08am

>84 VivienneR: Oh, you are at The Falls— you have many fun reads ahead of you!

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 7:19pm

>118 avaland: I keep promising myself that I'll catch up with series, or at least get so up to date that they are using cell phones, but there are just so many series! However, with Rankin, I believe I re-read a few of the early ones, which set me back a ways.

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 7:21pm

The beautiful ones by Prince 4★

My daughter-in-law borrowed this from the library and as she was not able to return it because of the pandemic closure I was able to read it too without having to wait. The memoir was still in the planning stage with a co-writer Dan Piepenbring when Prince died, so the content is taken from Prince's hand-written notes, photos, even school report cards. Images of all these materials are included. The cover is a photo he took in the bathroom mirror. Recommended for fans.

"I like dreaming now more than I used to. Some of my friends have passed away, and I see them in my dreams. It's like they are here, and the dreams are just like waking sometimes."

Gone tomorrow by Lee Child 4★

Another impressive story in the Jack Reacher series, this one with a fascinating opening when Reacher notices that a fellow passenger on the subway has all the characteristics of being a suicide bomber. The plot involved US government affairs, something I'm not entirely familiar with, but this was a page-turner and easy to follow. I love Jack Reacher, who is so different to any other fictional sleuths, and Child is a great storyteller.

maaliskuu 22, 2020, 4:24pm

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs by Caitlin Doughty 3★

Mortician Doughty answers questions from kids about death. A short read that is hilarious yet informative. I love the cat on the cover that looks like it's considering an eyeball or two!

maaliskuu 22, 2020, 5:48pm

Effie: the passionate lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais by Suzanne Fagence Cooper 4★

I'm acquainted with some of the works of Millais but had no idea of any details of his life or that of Effie and John Ruskin. It's surprising because now that I've read Cooper's excellent book I keep coming across mentions of them. This was fascinating and a good look at the mores of the Victorian era.

maaliskuu 23, 2020, 9:57am

I love Clapton's music but will pass on the autobiography. I did love Life, the best of any of the musician autobiographies that I have read. Most of the time I was amazed that Keith Richards is still alive. The attitude towards women fans was repulsive, but he was very honest about his struggles with drugs.

Love in a Cold Climate sounds like one I would enjoy.

I listened to The Flatshare and found it very entertaining.

>122 VivienneR: This sounds like another I would like. At this rate I will have to live another 100 years!

maaliskuu 23, 2020, 4:43pm

>123 BLBera: I loved Keith Richards' Life too! I don't condemn artists for their drug or alcohol history, it was Clapton's attitude that got to me and it wasn't well-written.

Wasn't The Flatshare great? I loved it.

I reorganized all my physical books and realized when I add ebooks and audiobooks I own, the 100 years you need will just about cover it for me too.

maaliskuu 23, 2020, 5:10pm

>124 VivienneR: I think the 100 years probably holds true for most of us, Vivienne. And yet we still keep adding books.

maaliskuu 23, 2020, 5:32pm

>125 NanaCC: I cleared a lot of audiobooks that I don't think I'll ever want and still the numbers go up! An ebook purge is imminent. Then I'll only need another 99 years of life. :)

maaliskuu 23, 2020, 6:42pm

>125 NanaCC: When my daughter hints that I might have hoarding tendencies, I remind her that she is lucky. It could be old pizza boxes or newspapers.

I was thinking that I might get around to finishing cataloging my books if this virus continues for a while. I never added my ebooks, and now I have 600, so it seems a little daunting.

maaliskuu 24, 2020, 2:21pm

>127 BLBera: My husband often mentions my hoard of paper books but he has no idea of how many ebooks and audio books I have. He would insist on therapy!

I've tried to keep up but I know my ebook catalogue is not accurate. Maybe I'll do an inventory someday.

maaliskuu 26, 2020, 3:36pm

Paper Money by Ken Follett 3.5★

Events that appear unrelated have significant effects on each other in this clever novel set in London in the 1970s. The action all takes place in one day linking divergent individuals in a dramatic conclusion.

I know who you are by Alice Feeney 3.5★

Creepy and compelling psychological thriller that lost impetus with a finish requiring the reader to suspend disbelief.

maaliskuu 27, 2020, 4:07pm

The Honourable Schoolboy by John le Carrê 4★

The best part of le Carré's novels is that they are so believable - like reading an exciting documentary instead of fiction. Even the characters behave like real people. He has an ability to describe things as if he was there, seeing incidental details just the way we do in real life. Highly recommended.

maaliskuu 28, 2020, 12:55pm

Nancy Mitford's a gas, isn't she? Lurking on most threads but so behind I'm not commenting much. You've had a good run of books!

maaliskuu 28, 2020, 1:27pm

I love Mitford's writing and her upper crust style of humour.

Like you, I lurk a lot but I'm so far behind that it seems silly to comment on books read a month or two ago.

maaliskuu 29, 2020, 9:09pm

The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer 4★
As I read this closed room mystery from the Golden Age I thought it was familar and then at the end I knew I'd read it before, however, it was long enough ago that it wasn't spoiled for me. A lovely diversity of characters.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie 4★
Said to be a reworking of Antigone. Shamsie sets her story in modern London with the same conflict between family and faith. The graceful prose is beautiful. Highly recommended.

huhtikuu 1, 2020, 4:40pm

Trust your eyes by Linwood Barclay 4.5★

Another brilliant gift from Barclay. I picked up this book in the afternoon and had it finished before bedtime, that's how compelling he is. Excellent characters with plot angles that all fit together really well to create this thoroughly entertaining pageturner.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 1:06pm

As though I had wings: the lost memoir by Chet Baker 4★

Chet Baker, legendary musician of the California Cool jazz scene left notes about his life that his widow, Carol Baker published to portray his personality better than any one-dimensional biography could possibly create.

He met and played with all the celebrated jazz musicians but his collaboration with Gerry Mulligan generated a unique style. Instead of playing identical melody lines in unison they complemented each other with counterpoint, anticipating what the other would play. The result is outstanding.

Baker's life was at times heartbreaking, mostly self-inflicted via heroin, but he kept on going often losing all he owned in the process. After his trumpet was stolen in the 1960s a friend loaned, and eventually gave him, a flugelhorn that he loved and played from that time on. Listening to him playing while reading his words heightened my enjoyment of the book.

Baker died mysteriously in an apparent fall in Amsterdam. Like his life, this slim book ends suddenly, leaving me longing for more.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 2:08pm

>135 VivienneR: That looks fascinating. I got to see Baker perform in San Francisco in a small club just before he died.

There's a haunting movie documentary about him, as well, called Let's Get Lost.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 2:40pm

>136 rocketjk: What a wonderful experience and memory. I'm envious. The book is very slim and illustrated with his handwritten notes. I'm sure you would enjoy it, Jerry.

I'll be on the lookout for the documentary. Thanks for the tip.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 6:03pm

>135 VivienneR:
Oh, I didn't know that existed. Sounds interesting. I love Chet Baker

>136 rocketjk:
So jealous! What a memory!

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 8:38pm

>136 rocketjk: & >137 VivienneR: Yes, it's a wonderful memory, but bittersweet, as he looked, and sounded, ravaged by his drug use. Still, I'm very happy to have seen him perform.

huhtikuu 4, 2020, 1:38am

>139 rocketjk: Yes, it's difficult to imagine how that beautiful young man turned into the wreck he became.

huhtikuu 4, 2020, 1:40am

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 1★

Adichie describes a religious fanatic of the worst kind. Although her prose is lovely and she evokes the characters quite well, this simple story has not much more to it than a man who savagely assaults his wife and children if they fail to obey his own twisted version of godliness.

It was difficult to endure this book. I cannot recommend it to anyone.

huhtikuu 4, 2020, 2:37pm

>141 VivienneR:

I've owned that for years and it's never called me to read it. Now I may just pass it along . . .

huhtikuu 4, 2020, 2:46pm

>142 Nickelini: Just remember, the rave reviews are in the majority. The brutality - and acceptance of it - was horrifying. Normally this would have been a candidate for the discard pile but I kept reading thinking there might be light at the end.

>138 Nickelini: And if it wasn't already obvious, I'm another Chet Baker fan!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 2020, 12:54am

The caller by Karin Fossum 4★

Pranks made by an unhappy teenager provide the plot of this intriguing mystery. It is apparent that there will be no happy ending but the ambiguous finish made the story even more mysterious. The characters, including Inspector Sejer, are all excellent portrayals that are believable. This was my first Fossum novel but I will definitely be looking for more.

huhtikuu 7, 2020, 5:45pm

LT says that this one is number nine in the series. I read 2-8. The first hadn’t been translated when I read them. I had read them before I joined LT. And now starting with this one, there are five more in the series to put on my list. I really enjoyed them, even though some were quite brutal.

huhtikuu 8, 2020, 4:14pm

>145 NanaCC: I picked up mine at a library booksale. It looked brand-new and as if it had never been opened. I haven't checked the library catalogue for others but the ebook site I use has only one and it didn't appeal. I liked her writing style and even though a child was a victim (usually I avoid that), it wasn't as horrifying as some.

huhtikuu 9, 2020, 12:56am

Of wee sweetie mice and men by Colin Bateman 3.5★

Belfast journalist Dan Starkey is off to New York to cover a fight between Mike Tyson and a little-known Irish fighter, nicknamed Fat Boy McMaster, or sometimes Marshmallow McMaster who has somehow become Ireland's champion. After a series of misunderstandings McMaster's wife is kidnapped. This slapstick farce is loaded with humour that is hardly likely to be fully understood outside Northern Ireland. However, Bateman gave me several laugh out loud moments and a happy memory of "wee sweetie mice", a favourite candy of my childhood.

huhtikuu 13, 2020, 2:28pm

Broken Ground by Val McDermid 4.5★

I've been reading McDermid's books out of order as they become available. This one featuring Karen Pirie is my favourite so far. Unfortunately it looks like it's the last in the series.

huhtikuu 17, 2020, 12:49am

Dream Wheels by Richard Wagamese 4★

I'm not a fan of rodeos or bull-riding but Wagamese's book has been able to transport me so that I could almost smell the dust and animals. This is a fabulous debut novel showing the author's exceptional ability. It's a story of broken bodies and relationships, a coming of age, and of redemption. His understanding and respect for women is to be commended. A tad long, but the vivid characters and story make it well worth reading.

huhtikuu 18, 2020, 9:42am

I have a few by McDermid on the shelves, Vivienne. I should start them.

Dream Wheels sounds like one I might like.

Stay well and have a great weekend.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 18, 2020, 2:21pm

>150 BLBera: Oh yes, start on McDermid soon. The Karen Pirie series is said to be the best but I seem to remember others that I enjoyed just as much. McDermid can be gritty and often with strong female characters.

Wagamese is one of my favourite Canadian writers.

Stay healthy, Beth.

huhtikuu 19, 2020, 9:53pm

Killman by Graeme Kent 4.5★

This is one of my favourite series. It's set on the Solomon Islands in the 1960s and Kent presents the exotic location and the part pagan, part Christian characters irresistibly. Like Sergeant Kella and many of the inhabitants, Sister Conchita is able to intertwine the culture and traditions of both groups and make them work. As well as police sergeant, Kella is the aofia, a position of spiritual peacekeeper respected by everyone. Serious yet lighthearted enough to be fun, this is a wonderful series.

In this novel there is deep unrest after three deaths occur. Is it possible that a Japanese soldier stranded on the island has committed the crimes, not knowing that the war is over. Learning about the people and history of the area, which was important in South Pacific WWII strategy, is one of the main attractions of Kent's books.

Graeme Kent ran BBC Schools broadcasting service in the Solomons for eight years and is still involved with the educational system in the South Pacific Commission.

huhtikuu 20, 2020, 7:33pm

The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu by Michael Stanley 3.5★

Kubu has been called in to investigate two deaths at a tourist camp in Botswana. However, one of the murdered men is identified as having died years previously. Kubu is a charming character, nicknamed Hippo because of his large girth.

Throughout the story Stanley obligingly includes information about the history and culture of Botswans and its relationship to South Africa and Zimbabwe.

It's a good mystery but if it had been shorter it would have gained a higher rating. I'm always left wondering why an author believes they have to throw in everything but the kitchen sink.

huhtikuu 21, 2020, 10:24am

You are hitting me with a few suggestions, Vivienne, as I take a break from painting. I look forward to the day I can finally get back to reading. Fingers crossed that I’ll have the house finished and on the market by May 1st.

huhtikuu 21, 2020, 3:35pm

Keep up the painting, Colleen, it will be well worth it in the end. Let's hope the world will be closer to normal by May 1st. When your house goes on the market you will be able to sit back and enjoy a book or two before having to pack. Wishing you a speedy and successful result.

huhtikuu 26, 2020, 7:04pm

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie 4★

My Dad introduced me to Agatha Christie when I was about 10 or 11 years old. Preferring her usual whodunnit, I skipped the Tommy and Tuppence novels, which was too bad because this is an adventure-style mystery that I would have devoured. Fortunately it's never too late to enjoy an Agatha Christie.

huhtikuu 29, 2020, 4:13pm

The girl in the polka dot dress by Beryl Bainbridge 4★
Typical of Bainsbridge she leaves out much of the background detail in her novels, but the beauty of her writing is that she brings it out as the story progresses as if the reader is living it as they read. Her oblique but spare style and dark humour is memorable. Set in 1968, this is about Rose, a teenager searching for Dr Wheeler, a man who helped her in a troubled time and who is part of Robert Kennedy's entourage. She is aided by Washington Harold, also seeking Wheeler but for a very different reason. He has offered to transport her across America in his camper. Their link is unlikely as they have little in common apart from a common goal. The book ends almost abruptly when they reach Los Angeles during a tragic moment in American history. Bainsbridge, who died in 2010, wrote the final pages of the almost-finished book during her last days in hospital. Her editor chose to publish it much as Bainsbridge left it.

Sweet caress: the many lives of Amory Clay by William Boyd 3★
A fictional autobiography of a fictional photographer who wrote her story in 1977 at 69 years old while living on a Hebridean island. Her career covered many significant happenings of the 20th century that Boyd perfectly merges with Amory's personal story. His novel is a tempestuous, sprawling story ranging from the scintillating 1920s Weimar culture of Berlin (the resulting photos were seized by police at an exhibition in London), to a brutal attack during a demonstration by Oswald Mosley's fascists. After a time in New York she returned to England to became a war photographer for the D-Day landings, and later in Vietnam. Boyd created an intense, complex, yet ultimately shallow character in a novel that despite the adventurous era manages to be bland and a shade too long.

Bramton Wick by Elizabeth Fair 4★
Post-war country village life, and a mother of two daughters who would give Austen's Mrs Bennet a run for her money. It's a charming story.

toukokuu 1, 2020, 9:34pm

This is my latest Early Reviewer snag:

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: the body under the piano by Marthe Jocelyn 4.5★

Like many of us, Marthe Jocelyn is a long time fan of Agatha Christie. Her admiration inspired her to write a murder mystery for young people portraying Aggie Morton, a shy, twelve-year-old whose life resembles that of Christie's. The story takes place in 1902 in Torquay where she is aided by a Belgian refugee, Hector Perot, a couple who make a fine pair of detectives. I hope this is just the first of many books featuring Aggie and Hector. The author researched Christie well and the Queen of Crime herself would be happy with the likeness in this delightful mystery novel for the middle grades or older. No knowledge of Agatha Christie is required but this book may create a passion for her books. Highly recommended.

toukokuu 4, 2020, 1:32am

Dead Beat by Val McDermid 4★

This is the first of the Kate Brannigan series. Kate is asked by a rock musician to find Moira, his missing partner and songwriter. It's outside her usual type of case but Kate brings the wayward woman back only to find her murdered soon after. This is an early work of McDermid's and not as gritty as later works, more of a whodunnit. What I enjoyed most were Brannigan's character and her sassy remarks. I look forward to more in the series.

toukokuu 5, 2020, 8:18pm

Death of Yesterday by M.C. Beaton 3★

If you read one Hamish Macbeth story, you've read them all. I don't know why I continue with them except that Hamish is so appealing and they provide a bit of fun on a dull day.

toukokuu 15, 2020, 3:58pm

A Better Man by Louise Penny 4★

Another great story from Quebec, complex, with all the usual personal anguish. It appears the Sureté delve into their emotions all too frequently. There were some doubtful assertions too, but Penny can be forgiven for these in the interest of supporting the plot.

toukokuu 16, 2020, 8:39pm

>161 VivienneR: I love this series Vivienne. I can’t wait for another.

toukokuu 17, 2020, 2:19pm

>162 NanaCC: Good to see you dropping by, Colleen! I hope all is well in your busy world.

From what I've heard we won't have to wait too much longer for Penny's next book. I read somewhere that it's due to be published next month.

toukokuu 17, 2020, 2:26pm

>163 VivienneR: You just gave me something to smile about. Thank you!

toukokuu 17, 2020, 3:01pm

>164 NanaCC: Just checked Louise Penny's website and her next one it not due until September 1. I left A Better Man unread for a long time because I didn't like the possibility of it being the end of the series.

toukokuu 24, 2020, 4:35pm

The Murder Room by P.D. James 4★
In James' mysteries there are no penetrating interviews by hardened detectives, no rushing around, no plodding research. Instead this is a stately, measured account of murder in the cultivated setting of a private museum and school. Commander Adam Dalgliesh, the detective in charge, writes poetry so naturally a suitably cultivated air is provided. But the upper crust can commit heinous crimes as well as anyone else. P.D. James is hard to beat.

Kick back by Val McDermid 3.5★
Kate Brannigan investigates a case of mortgage and property scams as well as the unique problem of new conservatories that have been removed from houses and re-sold.

toukokuu 25, 2020, 12:09am

I am celebrating the end of Ramadan, Vivienne, a time of thanks and forgiveness and I want to say my thanks to all my LT friends for helping keep me somewhat sane these last few years.

toukokuu 25, 2020, 12:36pm

>167 PaulCranswick: Enjoy your celebration, Paul. I'm also grateful for the friendship I've found on LT over the years (my 13th anniversary was on May 23). I know the pandemic has affected your life, but hope your celebration of the end of Ramadan is a happy one.

toukokuu 26, 2020, 3:05am

>168 VivienneR: Thank you, Vivienne. I have enjoyed the leisure time and the long distance communications.

toukokuu 29, 2020, 7:18pm

The Whisper Man by Alex North 4★

Not as scary as I thought it would be, but a good, creepy mystery.

toukokuu 30, 2020, 2:03pm

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq 4★

While I admire her creativity and unique talent I can't say I enjoyed her book but maybe 'enjoyment' is not intended. I'm classing this as fiction but it is taken from Tagaq's own experiences and philosophy. Her story ranging from poetic to harrowing is not for the faint-hearted. I listened to the audiobook, expertly narrated by the author and interspersed with her award-winning throat singing. It's a difficult book to rate because although the story was not to my liking the distinctive execution was superb.

toukokuu 30, 2020, 10:53pm

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham 4★
D.C. Fiona Griffiths is a keeper! Set in Wales, this is a wonderful mystery with a unique, endearing detective. I loved her! Somehow Bingham is able to take a miserable subject and turn it into a quirky mystery. When the BB hit me a couple of years ago I bought the first three in the series bundled and now I'm so glad because I can go straight to the next one.

toukokuu 31, 2020, 4:54pm

Mozart, the man and the artist, as revealed in his own words by Mozart, compiled by Friedrich Kerst, translated by Henry Edward Krehbiel 5★

This collection of notes and letters was very interesting, made more so as I listened to the pieces of music he was referring to while I read. It is filled with many fascinating snippets of information about his compositions.

While rehearsing one of his great symphonies in Leipsic he noticed that most of the musicians were old men without enthusiasm. He worked up such a fit of anger that he stamped his foot and broke one of his shoe-laces. His anger dissipated and he broke into laughter. That perfectly describes the mental picture I have of Mozart.

kesäkuu 4, 2020, 1:29pm

I love P. D. James, too, Vivienne. I am rereading her last few.

I want to read McDermid and Bingham as well. I've heard good things about both series.

kesäkuu 6, 2020, 1:04am

>174 BLBera: I love P.D. James style. I've read many but still find it difficult to pass one up.

McDermid can be quite gritty. Harry Bingham was a real surprise even though I'd heard so much about him.

kesäkuu 6, 2020, 2:56pm

April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King Jr's death and how it changed America by Michael Eric Dyson 3★

Published in 2008 this is somewhat dated now, but it's still an interesting look at King's life and death and how he brought about change - although from a 2020 view it's obvious that there is still a great deal to be achieved. Dyson includes lots of statistics that while providing a heap of information does not make for dynamic reading, especially in audio format. An imagined interview with King at the end was bizarre and pointless, effectively leaving the reader with a negative impact.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 7, 2020, 2:35pm

Fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg 3★

I remember seeing and enjoying this movie when it came out back in the 1980s so it was natural to pick up the book when I came across it. While it's a feel-good nostalgic look back at a Alabama in the 1930s, it also exposes startling racism that after almost 100 years has still not been erased. The friendship between Ninny and Evelyn was the highlight for me.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 3, 2020, 1:08am

Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams 4★

Twenty-five year old Queenie is on the verge of a nervous breakdown combined with very low self esteem that she attempts healing with casual sex. She is on a 'break' with long time boyfriend, or a 'break-up' as he sees it, and is unfairly fired from her job. Even the tattiest shared accommodation is beyond her means, requiring her to live with her Jamaican grandparents who, like many grandparents, have funny ideas about hot water usage, the internet, and mental health. This novel has been called a 'black Bridget Jones' but Carty-Williams' book is so much more and Queenie suffers more than Bridget ever did. The casual and blatant racism she experiences is as damaging as the savage sexual encounters that while heartbreaking have some humorous moments. Moving yet shocking, this is an excellent debut novel set in 21st century mulitcultural London. Queenie will remain in my mind for a long time. I look forward to Carty-Williams' next work.

kesäkuu 11, 2020, 12:38am

Trafalgar: the Nelson touch by David Howarth 4.5★

A thrilling, action-packed account of the battle of Trafalgar that is a page-turner. What I find astonishing is the idea of those sailing ships in battle, which is described well. Howarth relates the story without getting too deep into the politics of the era but obligingly includes details of Nelson's relationship with Lady Emma Hamilton and their daughter. Even though the battle was won, Nelson's death devastated the navy and that section was very moving to read. Highly recommended especially if a descriptive and succinct book is required.

My son, feeling sorry for me during COVID19 library closure, gave me all his favourite books to read. He was spot on with this one.

kesäkuu 11, 2020, 1:45am

Bird Lives! : an Evan Horne mystery by Bill Moody 4★

Like other books in this series by Moody, the plot is secondary, while the main attraction is the jazz information. Moody relates some interesting stories about the stars of the jazz world and their music then wraps it in a murder mystery. He really knows his stuff regarding music but in this case the plot was a bit weak, silly even. However, I enjoyed every page. Somebody should tell Evan Horne not to trust the FBI, especially if the agent wears short skirts.

kesäkuu 13, 2020, 1:35am

Home by Toni Morrison 4★

Frank Money, a traumatized Korean War veteran returns to America still as racist as it was when he left. He must rescue his young sister who has been medically abused by her employer. Intense, powerful, and heartbreaking.

kesäkuu 14, 2020, 10:06pm

The last voyage of the Karluk by Robert Bartlett 4.5★
In 1913 Newfoundlander Bob Bartlett took command of the Karluk and set out from Vancouver Island for the western Arctic with 31 on board including sailors, explorers and scientists, as well as an Inuit family with two children. They were intended to rendezvous with two other ships at Herschel Island. He was an experienced sailor in Arctic conditions having accompanied Robert Peary in attempts to reach the North Pole. Soon after leaving Nome the ship was caught in ice and swept west towards Siberia. Stefansson, the expedition leader, took a number of hunters and set out on a hunting trip while the ship continued to drift. The group found their way back to Alaska. This was later thought to have been Stefansson's decision to abandon ship. Eventually the ship was crushed by the ice and sank north of Wrangel Island in Siberia. Bartlett and one of the guides set off across the ice on foot for Wrangel Island and from there on to the mainland. It was 1914 before he was able to return to Wrangel Island to rescue the those remaining.

The story is Bartlett's account, published in 1916 and has a remarkably composed voice considering the extreme conditions and the quarrelling that must have inevitably occurred. Eleven lives were lost. It's a great story for those interested in Arctic survival, and would especially appeal to the younger generation.

kesäkuu 15, 2020, 3:39am

>181 VivienneR: Sounds great, Vivienne. I need to read more by Morrisson - the single one I've read blew me away.

kesäkuu 15, 2020, 2:46pm

>183 AlisonY: I need to read more Morrison too, Alison. This one was an audiobook read by the author but I think I'd prefer print over audio, which for me has more of an impact.

kesäkuu 15, 2020, 9:49pm

Stieg Larsson, my friend by Kurdo Baksi 4★

"I never doubted for one single second that Stieg Larsson was on the side of the weak and vulnerable. He was always prepared to speak up for anybody and everybody incapable of making a case for themselves. And that was not all: he was willing to pay a high price in order to bring about change."

Stieg Larsson was founder of the anti-fascist magazine Expo and was shadowed and threatened by neo-Nazis and racists. As a journalist he thwarted them by writing profusely against them, and even directly to individuals. Several of his fictional characters were based on people he knew. Plots were based on articles and police reports that he had amassed or were inspired by events in his own life. His method for writing was unusual, completing a chapter of book one, then moving to book two, then book three, thereby developing all three plots at the same time. Knowing something about the author will be of interest as I read his work starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This short book is Baksi's heartfelt tribute to his ethical, talented friend.

"My point is that the police don't take racism and neo-Nazism seriously." - Stieg Larsson

kesäkuu 28, 2020, 1:19pm

Just What Kind of a Mother are You? by Paula Daly 4★

An impressive debut from Paula Daly who was inspired by real life stories. Filled with convincing characters, this is a page-turner right to the unpredictable ending. I'll be on the lookout for more from Daly.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 3:01pm

The fire next time by James Baldwin

Although written in the sixties, sadly this work is still relevant. Baldwin's writing is eloquent and profound.
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: VivienneR's 2020 reading - part 2.