souloftherose's 2012 reading journal - part four - June/July
This is a continuation of the topic souloftherose's 2012 reading journal - part three - April showers and more.
This topic was continued by souloftherose's 2012 reading journal - part five - August to Autumn.
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It would be nice if the weather would let me do this.
This is my third year in the 75 books challenge group and I really appreciate being able to talk about books with the lovely people in this group and I value the visits of everyone who stops by so please feel free to comment or just lurk.
Somehow I seem to read a fair number of books in a year which is good, because I have more than a fair number of books in my TBR pile!
Books read in 2012:
Books read from TBR pile
#1 The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan (Library)
#2 Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon by Jane Austen (Reread)
#3 The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (TBR)
#4 One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson (TBR)
#5 When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (TBR)
#6 Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (Library)
#7 A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (TBR)
#8 Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (Borrowed)
#9 The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield (TBR)
#10 Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (TBR)
#11 At Mrs Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#12 Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey (Library)
#13 The Awakening and Selected Short Stories by Kate Chopin (Free kindle read)
#14 King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (Reread)
#15 Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (TBR)
#16 Nothing But Ghosts by Judith Hermann (TBR)
#17 Stop the Train by Geraldine McCaughrean (TBR)
#18 The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (Reread)
#19 The Monk by M. G. Lewis (Library)
#20 Zoo City by Lauren Beukes (TBR)
#21 Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (Reread)
#22 A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (TBR)
#23 March by Geraldine Brooks (TBR)
#24 The Secret River by Kate Grenville (TBR)
#25 Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti and Ian McEwan (Library)
#26 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken (TBR)
#27 The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (TBR)
#28 The Heart of MidLothian by Walter Scott (TBR)
#29 Witch Wood by John Buchan (TBR)
#30 Death Masks by Jim Butcher (Library)
#31 Palladian by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#32 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Free kindle read)
#33 Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (Library)
#34 Perishing Poles by Anita Ganeri (TBR)
#35 Timeless by Gail Carriger (TBR)
#36 Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (TBR)
#37 Room by Emma Donoghue (TBR)
#38 Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym (TBR)
#39 Sheepfarmer's Daughter by Elizabeth Moon (Free kindle read)
#40 Dr Johnson's London: Coffee-Houses and Climbing Boys, Medicine, Toothpaste and Gin, Poverty and Press-Gangs, Freakshows and Female Education by Liza Picard (Library)
#41 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Library)
#42 The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen edited by Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster (Library)
#43 State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (TBR)
#44 The Diamond Queen: Elizabeth II and Her People by Andrew Marr (Library)
#45 A Game of Thrones by G. R. R. Martin (Dan's)
#46 Catharine and Other Writings by Jane Austen (TBR)
#47 Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (TBR)
#48 A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#49 Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers (TBR)
#50 Troubles by J. G. Farrell (TBR)
#51 Tallis' Third Tune by Ellen K. Ekstrom (Free kindle)
#52 Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy L. Sayers (TBR)
#53 Barnaby Rudge by Charles Dickens (TBR)
#54 The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (Reread)
#55 The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (TBR)
#56 Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (Library)
#57 Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken (TBR)
Abandoned: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (Library)
#58 The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim (Free kindle read)
#59 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (TBR)
#60 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Library)
#61 Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov (Reread)
#62 Foundation and Earth by Isaac ASimov (TBR)
#63 Cold Earth by Sarah Moss (TBR)
#64 A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#65 The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (Reread)
#66 American Notes for General Circulation by Charles Dickens (TBR)
#67 Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (TBR)
#68 The Snow Child by Eoqyn Ivey (Library)
#69 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (Reread)
#70 The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark (TBR)
#71 Revelation by C. J. Sansom (TBR)
#72 Heartstone by C. J. Sansom (TBR)
#73 The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (TBR)
#74 Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby (Library)
#75 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Reread)
#76 Basil by Wilkie Collins (TBR)
#77 The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey (TBR)
#78 Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding (Library)
#79 Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (TBR)
#80 The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green (Free kindle read)
#81 Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones (TBR)
#82 Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale (TBR)
#83 Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis (TBR)
#84 A Strange Disappearance by Anna Katharine Green (Free kindle read)
#85 Remake by Connie Willis (TBR)
#86 Rose in Bloom by Louisa M. Alcott (Free kindle read)
#87 Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart (TBR)
#88 The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (TBR)
#89 Time to Be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography by P. D. James (TBR)
#90 On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (TBR)
#91 A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (Reread)
#92 Madame Sousatzka by Bernice Rubens (TBR)
#93 We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (Library)
#94 The Library Book by Rebecca Ward (TBR)
#95 The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart (TBR)
#96 Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill (TBR)
#97 The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (TBR)
#98 Talking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern (TBR)
#99 Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper (TBR)
#100 A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse (TBR)
#101 Hand and Ring by Anna Katharine Green (Free kindle read)
#102 The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell (TBR)
#103 The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (TBR)
#104 Angel by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#105 Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot (TBR)
#106 Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (TBR)
#107 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (TBR)
#108 River Boy by Tim Bowler (TBR)
#109 The Man Who Would Be King by Rusyard Kipling (Free kindle read)
#110 The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde (TBR)
#111 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (TBR)
#112 The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale (TBR)
#113 Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann (TBR)
#114 The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann (TBR)
#115 The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell (TBR)
#116 Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers (TBR)
DNF Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer (Library)
#117 What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan (Library)
#118 The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim (Free kindle read)
#119 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (TBR)
#120 Among Others by Jo Walton (TBR)
#121 The Warden by Anthony Trollope (Reread)
#122 The Proof of Love by Catherine Hall (TBR)
#123 Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz (Library)
#124 Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham (TBR)
In my never-ending quest to try and reduce the size of my TBR pile, I am going to try and restrict my book acquisitions to 1 book in for every 2 books read from the TBR pile.
So far, I'm not off to a great start as I have read 56 books from the TBR pile and acquired 59. That's the wrong way round!
Books acquired in 2012:
#4 The Conan Chronicles Volume 1 by Robert E. Howard (Bookmooch)
#5 Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson (Waterstones.com)
#6 The Guardian Review: Book of Short Stories edited by Lisa Allardice (Charity bookshop)
#7 Restoration London by Liza Picard (Charity bookshop)
#12 Look at Me by Jennifer Egan (Kindle daily deal)
#13 Embassytown by China Mieville (Kindle)
#14 Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff (ebay)
#15 Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (Bookmooch)
#21 Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Charity bookshop)
#27 The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Kindle sale)
#28 Unwind by Neal Shusterman (Kindle sale)
#29 The Dickens Dictionary by John Sutherland (Kindle sale)
#30 Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson (Kindle sale)
#32 A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor (Elizabeth Taylor day)
#33 The Love-Child by Edith Olivier (Dee)
#34 From the Land of the Moon by Milena Angus (Bookmooch)
#35 The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville (Charity bookshop)
#36 No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod (Charity bookshop)
#37 Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson (Charity bookshop)
#38 The Greek Myths by Robert Graves (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#39 Big Money by P. G. Wodehouse (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#40 Harriet Hume by Rebecca West (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#41 The Gypsy's Baby by Rosamond Lehmann (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster)
#44 The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear by Walter Moers (Bookmooch)
#45 Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers (Bookmooch)
#46 Love, Sex, Death and Words by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender (Kindle daily deal)
#48 The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (pseud. Charles Warren Adams (British Library)
#49 That Lady by Kaste O'Brien (elkiedee)
#50 Loving and Giving by Molly Keane (elkiedee)
#51 Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr (elkiedee)
#52 Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (elkiedee)
#53 Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey (elkiedee)
#54 To Love and Be Wise by Josephine Tey (elkiedee)
#58 The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett (Bookmooch)
#59 A Glass of Blessings by Barbara Pym (Gennyt)
#60 Limbo Lodge by Joan Aiken (Bookmooch)
#61 Frost in May by Antonia White (Bookmooch)
#66 Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood (Charity bookshop)
#67 The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood (Charity bookshop)
#68 My Career Goes Bung by Miles Franklin (Charity bookshop)
#69 Some Everyday Folk and Dawn by Miles Franklin (Charity bookshop)
#70 The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier (Ex-library copy)
#72 Night Waking by Sarah Moss (Kindle daily deal)
#75 The Octoroon by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Sensation Press)
#76 The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter (Bookmooch)
#77 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Bookmooch)
#78 Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan (Kindle sale)
#79 A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis (Kindle sale)
#81 Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn (Kindle sale)
#82 Bracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland (Kindle sale)
#83 The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (Kindle sale)
#84 My Cleaner by Maggie Gee (Kindle sale)
#86 In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor (Abebooks)
#88 The Catalogue of the Universe by Margaret Mahy (Bookmooch)
#89 Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Kindle daily deal)
#90 Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden by Jack Vance (Bookmooch)
2012 reading plans
I'm not going to do a formal 12/12 challenge this year but I do have some reading plans for 2012 which I'm going to list below. I've added another category for books read in memory of Janetinlondon, a LibraryThing friend who died at the beginning of this year.
1. Charles Dickens
I'm going to continue with my reread of Dickens major works and also try some of his less well-known short stories and some books written about Dickens.
#1 Barnaby Rudge (1841)
#2 American Notes for General Circulation (1842)
#3 Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865)
Pictures from Italy
Dombey and Son
A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens and the House of Fallen Women by Jenny Hartley
Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit by John Bowen
The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin
The Cambridge Companion to Charles Dickens edited by John O. Jordan
2. Other 19th century British authors
#1 King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (1885)
#2 The Heart of Midlothian by Walter Scott (1818)
#3 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883)
#4 The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
#5 Basil by Wilkie Collins (1852)
#6 The Trail of the Serpent by May Elizabeth Braddon (1861)
#7 The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling (1888)
#8 The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1855)
Reading more by Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, William Thackery, Walter Scott and anyone else I think of
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1847)
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1857)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (1859)
The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (pseud. Charles Warren Adams) (1862-1863)
3. 18th century literature
#1 The Monk by M. G. Lewis
#2 Catharine and Other Writings by Jane Austen
The more I read from the 19th century the more I realise I need to understand what was written in the 18th century and after my success with The Mysteries of Udolpho I'm going to try some more 18th century literature
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe
Evelina by Fanny Burney
A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft
Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady by Samuel Richardson
4. Fantasy and Science fiction Masterworks
These are part of a publisher series by Gollancz which is reprinting classic works of science fiction and fantasy. I've collected a few but I'm not very good at reading them.
#1 Beauty by Sheri Tepper
In the TBR pile:
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C. Clarke
Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester
The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny
Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
The Complete Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp
The Conan Chronicles Volume 1 by Robert E. Howard
The Drawing of the Dark by Tim Powers
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
4. Carnegie Medal winners and shortlist
The Carnegie Medal is an award for children's books given by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the UK. I haven't read a bad book from the awards list and I have quite a few to read.
#1 The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge (1946 winner)
#2 Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (2010 shortlist)
#3 Stop the Train by Geraldine McCaughrean (2001 shortlist)
#4 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2009 shortlist)
#5 River Boy by Tim Bowler (1997 winner)
In the TBR pile:
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly
A Stranger at Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston
The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson
King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
The Family at One End Street by Eve Garnett
5. Orange Prize winners and nominees
To carry on reading from the Orange Prize winners and nominees.
#1 A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
#2 Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
#3 Room by Emma Donoghue
#4 State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
#5 Gillespie and I by Jane Harris
#6 The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
#7 Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
#8 The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
#9 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
#10 Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding
#11 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
#12 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In the TBR pile:
Ursula Under by Ingrid Hill
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
The Road Home by Rose Tremain
The Siege by Helen Dunmore
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
Small Island by Andrea Levy
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville
6. The Other Elizabeth Taylor
The Virago group are doing a year-long celebration, with monthly reads chosen by the group as 2012 marks the centenary of Elizabeth Taylor's birth and I'm hoping to join in.
#1 At Mrs. Lippincote’s
#3 A View of the Harbour
#4 A Wreath of Roses
A Game of Hide and Seek (1951)
The Sleeping Beauty (1953)
In a Summer Season (1961)
The Soul of Kindness (1964)
The Wedding Group (1968)
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (1971)
7. Virago Modern Classics
I collected a lot of these last year so I need to get reading!
#1 The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
#2 Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
#3 A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
#4 Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
#5 The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann
Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons
Poor Cow by Nell Dunn
Anderby Wold by Winifred Holtby
The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby
Poor Caroline by Winifred Holtby
No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin
The Old Man and Me by Elaine Dundy
All Passion Spent by Vita Sackville West
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West
Union Street by Pat Barker
The Glass-Blowers by Daphne du Maurier
The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
The Children by Edith Wharton
Frost in May by Antonia White
Harriet Hume by Rebecca West
The Gypsy's Baby and Other Stories by Rosamond Lehmann
#1 Troubles by J. G. Farrell
#2 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
#3 Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes by Mollie Panter-Downes
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels (5 stars)
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (4 stars)
Lustrum by Robert Harris (4 stars)
The Road Home by Rose Tremain (4 stars)
Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland (3 stars)
Possession by A. S. Byatt (5 stars)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (3.5 stars)
The Guardian Review: Book of Short Stories edited by Lisa Allardice
Union Street by Pat Barker (4 stars)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (4 stars)
A Clash of Kings by G. R. R. Martin (4 stars)
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (5 stars)
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexandre McCall Smith (4 stars)
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (5 stars)
Atonement by Ian McEwan (5 stars)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (5 stars)
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald (5 stars)
An idea borrowed from Liz (lyzard), ongoing series that I am actively reading. This doesn't include series where I have the first book in my TBR pile (i.e. series I haven't started reading yet aren't included). An asterisk indicates a series where I already have a copy of the next book.
*Aberystwyth: Next up: The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce (3/6)
*Albert Campion: Next up Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham (7/19)
*Allan Quatermain: Next up Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard (2/15)
Bas-Lag: Next up The Scar by China Mieville (2/3)
The Cairo Trilogy: Next up Palace of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz (2/3)
*Chaos Walking: Next up The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (2/4)
*The Chronicles of Barsetshire: Next up Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (2/6)
*Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox: Next up Eight Skilled Gentlemen by Barry Hughart (3/3)
*Cicero: Next up Lustrum by Robert Harris (2/2)
Cissy: Next up Pull Out All the Stops by Geraldine McCaughrean (2/2)
Colonial Trilogy: Next up: The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville (2/3)
*Daddy Long Legs: Next up Dear Enemy by Jean Webster (2/2)
The Deed of Paksenarrion: Next up Divided Allegiance by Elizabeth Moon (2/3)
*Dolphin Ring Cycle: Next up Frontier Wolf by Rosemary Sutcliff (3/8)
Dragonriders of Pern: Next up Dragonquest by Anne McCaffrey (2/25)
*Ebenezer Gryce: Next up The Sword of Damocles by Anna Katharine Green (4/13)
Empire Trilogy: Next up: The Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell (2/3)
Green Knowe: Next up: The Chimneys of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston (2/6)
Inheritance Trilogy: Next up The Broken Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin (2/3)
Jimm Juree: Next up Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach by Colin Cotterill (2/2)
Les Voyages Extraordinaires: Next up A Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne (3/54)
*Lord Peter Wimsey: Next up The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers (11/15)
The Magicians: Next up The Magician King by Lev Grossman (2/3?)
*Magid: Next up The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (2/2)
*Mapp and Lucia: Next up Lucia's Progress by E. F. Benson (5/6)
*Mars Trilogy: Next up Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (2/3)
My Swordhand is Singing: Next up The Kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick (2/2)
*The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: Next up Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith (3/13)
The Penderwicks: Next up The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall (2/3)
Rivers of London: Next up Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch (3/3)
*Richard Hannay: Next up The Three Hostages by John Buchan (4/5)
Ruth Galloway: Next up The House at Sea's End by Elly Grifiiths (3/4)
Seven Kingdoms: Next up Fire by Kristin Cashore (2/3)
Shadows of the Apt: Next up: Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky (2/7)
*Sherlock Holmes: Next up The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (7/9)
*A Song of Ice and Fire: Next up A Clash of Kings by G. R. R. Martin (2/5)
Sorcery and Celia: Next up The Grand Tour by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer (2/3)
Turtle: Next up Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver (2/2)
Vorkosigan (Chronological order): Next up Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold (6/16)
*The Warlord Chronicles: Next up: The Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell
Wolves Chronicles: Next up Nightbirds on Nantucket by Joan Aiken (3/11)
Robot/Empire/Foundation story order: Read all the Asimov authored books (15/15)
Eight Cousins: by Louisa May Alcott (2/2)
Olivia - Lehmann: by Rosmond Lehmann (2/2)
Up to date series
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache: Latest book A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (7/8)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Latest book Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (1/2)
Dragonslayer: Latest book The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (2/3)
Jackson Brodie: Latest book Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson (4/4)
Shades of Grey: Latest book Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (1/3)
Thursday Next: Latest book The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde (7/8)
Matthew Shardlake: Latest book Heartstone by C. J. Sansom (5/5)
Wolf Hall: Latest book Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (2/3)
And I'm done! No idea what I'm doing wrong in msg#3, can't get the touchstones to work at all.
I've got some book comments to write up - I'm calling them comments rather than reviews to take the pressure off. I've been having trouble sleeping and I think the next few weeks are going to be quite stressful. My husband's sister is getting married in 3 weeks and my husband has been struggling a lot with depression for several years now and has been feeling worse for the last couple of months. So somehow I need to get us both through the wedding weekend intact and find myself something to wear in the next three weeks (I think it is completely unfair that my husband can get away with wearing the same suit he wore to our wedding when I'm not allowed to wear the same thing I wore). This time next month I think everything will be a lot better...
Hi Heather - just checking out the new thread:) Looking forward to your book comments.
Sympathy finding clothes for the wedding and your husband's depression. Hope all goes well.
Book #88 The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon - 4 stars
Original publication date:1861
Category:19th century British literature
Despite being a lover of British 19th century fiction generally, Mary Elizabeth Braddon is an author I've never read before although I've heard of her books. The Trail of the Serpent was one of her first books, originally published serially as Three Times Dead in 1860 it flopped dramatically . Braddon then rewrote it and it was republished in 1861 as The Trail of the Serpent and sold 1,000 copies within a week of publication. Although out of copyright, there's no ebook edition of this book available and until The Modern Library issued a reprint a few years ago, it seems to have been out of print for almost 100 years (according to the blurb on the cover anyway). Given all this, before reading the book I was expecting something that felt like an early novel in a writer's career; something that showed promise, that might be interesting to read if you wanted to consider the development of the author or the particular genre but something that perhaps wouldn't be considered a classic in its own right. Something perhaps like Wilkie Collins' Basil.
Instead I was pleasantly surprise to find The Trail of the Serpent to be a really good book and felt rather sheepish about having made all those assumptions before reading it. It's a mix of detective and sensation fiction with touches of Dickensian humour and social commentary but without Dickens' sentimentality. Murder, revenge and the slow but steady hunt to bring the killer to justice led by Mr Peters, a mute, although not deaf, detective who communicates through sign language.
I thoroughly enjoyed it and if this is the quality of one of Braddon's overlooked books then I can't wait to read her most famous work, Lady Audley's Secret.
It's also probably the first detective novel - it's definitely earlier than the other two major claimants (The Moonstone and The Notting Hill Mystery) but the introduction to my copy of The Notting Hill Mystery says that The Trail of the Serpent 'is in no way a detective novel' which I'm flummoxed by. It's got a detective, he's a main part of the storyline (rather than only being part of a smallish subplot like Inspector Bucket in Bleak House), he solves the crime, he tracks down the killer - seems like a detective novel to me, but apparently not.
#6 Thanks calm :-)
Book #89 Time to be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography by P. D. James - 3.9 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date: 1999
This is a memoir/autobiography by crime fiction author P. D. James written in diary format in her 77th year (covering 1997 to 1998). Because of the diary format this is not a straight-forward chronological autobiography but more like a collection of thoughts which do include memories of her life but also cover politics, her novels, family life, early crime writers, her thoughts on detective fiction as a whole, being the main breadwinner for the family through her husband's illness and a whole range of other subjects. We've touched briefly on P. D. James' politics before; she is certainly more conservative than I am and there are therefore a lot of places where we disagree but she writes very intelligently and her opinions come across as very well thought out even when I do disagree with them; she's always thought-provoking and this book was a pleasure to read even when we did disagree. I've come away from this book with even more respect for her than I had from reading her novels.
This is a portrait of her painted in 1996 which (I believe) now hangs in the National Gallery:
Heather: Beautiful picture -- I love pictures of women reading. Good luck with the wedding and depression. I hope you and your husband are getting any help you need.
You are so ambitious with your lists! First, you've done a TON of good reading this year. And I have to add the Braddon and James book to my WL; both sound like something I would like. Re: what is the first detective novel -- your argument sounds valid to me...
A lovely new thread, Heather! And you have been hard at work! I really love how you listed your books acquired by month and then are checking them off as you go. I might steal that idea next year- too late now for me, as I haven't been keeping track. I might scare myself if I see all my purchases listed in one place - YIKES!
Bummer about the wedding- about the clothes decision, I mean. I hate trying to decide what to wear to stuff like that. And you're right about the men having an easier time of it. Sorry to hear about your husband's depression, that adds weight to your shoulders. I am thinking good thoughts for both of you and sending them your way. And I think you are right about some of the pressure being off once you make it through the wedding, since it is his sister that is getting married - added pressure of all the family stuff surrounding the big day.
As usual, two very good reviews! The Trail of the Serpent sounds very interesting to me, so I think I will have to track that one down. Not sure about the P. D. James book because while I love memoirs, I am not sure about the diary format. Thinking about it.
Take care of yourself and don't over do. I hope today is kind to you.
Back to add that your review of Trail of the Serpent is not posted on the book page- would you consider posting it so that I can give you a thumb?
You have such good categories for your reading. I particularly like the Carnegie medal and the science-fiction/fantasy masterworks ones. I always think that I ought to be more organised in my reading but it never quite works out in practice,
Great new thread, Heather. I LOVE the photo at the top! Ah, yes, ...
Hi Heather - I agree - Lovely photo! I'm planning to read The Children of Men very soon, put I haven't read any of her crime fiction. Perhaps I'll try the one you mentioned on your previous thread.
Happy New Thread Heather! :-)
Considering you're decided not to call your reviews reviews, I think you're doing quite a great job!
It can't be easy dealing with two difficult mood disorder issues in the marriage and I feel great sympathy for you. So true men can get away easily when dressing for formal affairs. One good suit can take them through life, provided they stay more or less at the same size. Yet, god forbid we women should be seen wearing the same dress twice! So silly really. Good luck finding something you like. I shop online at J Crew for most of my clothing these days. Their American sizing makes me feel good about myself as their clothes are cut very large and my weight gain in the last few years doesn't mean larger numbers (silly, but it's a psychological boost). Also I love being able to try on clothes in the comfort of my own home. I'd probably shop there for special occasions too as they have great party frocks as well and at every price range. Do you have something equivalent in the UK?
I loved Lady Audley's Secret when I read it this year, so I'm guessing you'll quite like it too. I looked up the library collection to see what other books they had by her, and sure enough, they have The Trail of the Serpent, BUT... only in the French translation. In fact, they have a bunch of her books, also only in French. Ugh! Really bugs me when they do that as they really ought to have the original language available too. Oh well.
Touchstones for #3: sometimes they get buggy for me too, and what I've done when that's happened was to cut out most of the content (but keep some type there—the title and non-touchstone text, say), save it, then past the content back in (then save again of course). It's usually taken care of the problem, so you might want to give it a try.
#9 Hi Beth - thank you :-) Hope you enjoy the Braddon and the James book.
#10 It can be pretty scary Mamie! I hadn't really thought of it as a proper review but I have now posted my review of The Trail of the Serpent on the work page now (your wish is my command!)
#12 Thanks Rhian. Given that I am only just reading my first book in the Masterworks category for the year I'm not sure I could really be described as organised in practice - but I do like making lists even if I don't keep to them!
#13 Thanks Nancy. It looks lovely but I bet I would get fidgety after about 15 minutes and want a comfy chair instead :-)
#14 Hi Kerri. I really enjoyed The Children of Men, I thought it was a very thought-provoking dystopian novel. According to James though, it's the one novel of hers that didn't earn its advance (although she wrote that before the film came out).
A Taste for Death is midway through her Dalgliesh series but although there is some character development throughout the series I don't think they need to be read in order. I read them in whatever order I could get my hands on the books and it didn't seem to make too much difference. I don't read much modern crime fiction but I can't think of another author who writes novels like James'. Her detective, Dalglish, is very private and very much a gentleman - more in the sense of his moral code than in terms of his class.
P D James mentioned Ruth Rendell a lot in A Time to be in Earnest, and I notice you have quite a few of Ruth Rendell's books in your library Judy. Where's a good place to start with her books?
#15 Ilana, thank you for visiting and for the tips about shopping and touchstones (I will try your advice re the touchstones but not to day - I have wrestled with them enough for now!)
Re clothes, I think part of the problem is that it's been such a long time since I tried to buy something really smart that's suitable for weddings/occasions like this that I can't remember what sort of styles suit me. I'm going to John Lewis, a big department store, on Tuesday with my Mum along for moral support (not sure whether this will prove to be more or less stressful than going on my own but she's looking forward to it and I can always ask her to wait for me in the cafe). I was originally looking for a dress but I think that was over-ambitious: I'm not really a dress person so I would probably feel more comfortable in separates anyway, and the current fashions are not for the sort of dresses that suit my shape and what I'm comfortable wearing. I think I have a skirt that's smart enough so I'll take that with me and try and get a top to go with it. If not, then I'll try and find a skirt too.
And about sizes, that's not silly at all. Psychological boosts are very important when shopping! A lady at work has already tipped me off about a brand that sizes larger than others ("I can sometimes get into a size 14 - you might be able to as well!") - they're first on my list :-)
Tomorrow I'm going to my first Tai Chi class (thank you to sibyx/Lucy for providing advice and encouragement about Tai Chi) which I'm hoping is something I can do weekly to help with stress, relaxation, get some exercise, get out a bit... Of course, at the moment, I just feel really rather nervous about going for the first time.
#16 why don't you try a personal shopper at John Lewis if you not sure what to buy? Last time I needed something for a wedding I did that at John Lewis in Cambridge, and it doesn't cost anything. You just tell them your budget and what sort of thing you want and they do the rest.
We're off to a family wedding next weekend in Scotland and I'm less well-organised than you, Heather. If there isn't anything suitable already in my wardrobe, I'm in trouble. I have a couple of smart-ish skirts to choose from - both black - so I suppose any colour should go with that. My husband is officiating so will be wearing his dark suit and his robes. He won't even have to choose a tie as he will wear his clerical collar!
Added The Trail of the Serpent to the GFW - looks interesting. I, too, read Lady Audley's Secret - last year - and was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did.
Good luck on your clothing hunt. Thank goodness all my friends are thoroughly married, my few remaining shreds of family are staunchly anti-marriage and the firm has long since abandoned the big occasion Christmas-do so no need to embark upon that nearly futile (for me) quest. Don't know what I would do if I had to get myself some fancy duds. Probably would have to eat some bad seafood accidentally on purpose just so I could bow out with a legitimate excuse.
Hi Heather I'm adding The Trail of the Serpent to my tbr pile, I listened to Lady Audley's Secret earlier this year and liked it. I love how so many of the 75ers follow the same but not quite reading trails through the year!
I did Tai chi for a few months several years ago and really liked it, now I do an essentrics class twice a week which focuses on stretching and flexibility.
Hope everything comes right for you about the wedding and success in your hunt for the right outfit.
Lovely new thread here. Also wishing you good luck on your clothes shopping! And, as Ilana said, can't be easy dealing with two mood disorders in the marriage--one day at a time!
Best wishes for success in the "suitable clothes shopping" area. I try to keep one really nice dress available just in case...but of course clothes both shrink and grow in my closet, so one never knows what might haoppen.
I'm sorry to hear about your husband's struggling with depression. I'ts so hard to control/medicate/take care of. You'll be in my thoughts.
>17: I second the John Lewis personal shopper recommendation. It was about 10 years ago; I was living in the UK a the time and because I'm short I'd been having a hard time finding things that fit. But they were fabulous and very helpful. It might help ease your stress as well.
Hi Heather, just checking into your new thread. Good luck with the shopping. I always find it difficult shopping for a specific item, I usually do better when I'm not looking for anything, or just tagging along when another person is shopping - that's when I find things for me.
Great stuff as always with your new thread Heather. Trust you have had a great weekend - hope you get on ok at John Lewis' and that the Tai Chi classes go well.
Your lists are intimidating and impressive! LOL I am a bit inspired to do some of the same on my thread, but then think of the things I need to do (especially onestepawayintl.org-related) and wonder if it would be a good use of my time...
I have a question re: your series' lists. Are these all from this year?
More astonishing and absorbing lists - so impressed with the series one. I imagine that it will be so helpful. I am in the middle of so many, and I get so mixed up!
Love the picture at the top and the portrait of PD James.
I'll be thinking of you at class today, hope it's wonderful.
Thank you for all the helpful comments re clothes shopping, compliments re photos and lists and best wishes.
Just before I was going to bed yesterday we got a call from my parents to say that our family dog, Toby, had collapsed and they were going to take him to the vets to be put to sleep. He'd reached a very great age for a dog (15 = 105 in human years!) and he had been slowly declining over the last year or so and suffering from some joint problems. It had got to the point where we knew we would need to make a decision over the summer about when to say goodbye. In the end he decided it for us: his legs gave way last night and he couldn't get up again so we all went down to the vet's together to say goodbye.
He was a good dog. Not a dog of very much brain, although he did show some intellectual aspirations when he was younger by chewing his way through my copies of Middlemarch and Innumeracy as a puppy, but he was really good natured. I'm really going to miss him.
I didn't get much sleep last night so I've taken today off work and will probably leave the Tai Chi class until next week.
Heather, I already commented on FB but have to say it again: I'm so sorry about Toby. Our pets truly do become part of the family and losing them is just as difficult as losing a human. Take care and give yourself time and space to mourn.
Heather, I'm so sorry. I know how terrible it is. It certainly looks like he had a wonderful life with your family. Take care.
28: I shed a tear or two for Toby. He looks like a wonderful dog. My son recently had to have 16-year-old Shania (a Border Collie mix he got while in college - his first love!) euthanized after she didn't respond to treatment for a kidney infection. It's so hard to say goodbye.
I'm also sorry to hear that your husband suffers from depression. I wonder if it's contagious. I'm not trying to be funny. I just know that I am the type of person who picks up on the moods of others and suffers along with them. It's interesting to be around my manic-depressive son. I'm either very happy or very sad.
I am thinking of you, Heather, as you go through this rough patch.
Heather, so sorry to read about Toby. He looks like a lovely dog, and how lucky he was to be loved his whole life. I'm glad you were able to be there to say goodbye.
Heather, just to say how sorry I am about Toby. I know it doesn't necessarily make a difference to how you feel even when the dog is old.
Thank you Laura, calm, Kerri, Gail, Lucy, Donna, Susan & Rhian. I'm doing ok, feeling sad and
Who have I missed replying to?
#17 & 29 Rhian and Laura - thanks for the personal shopper recommendation - that's the sort of thing I never think of (I'm also trying to remember whether I knew you used to live in the UK, Laura). If I don't find anything tomorrow I might book an appointment.
#18 Hi Kerri - as I do about most things I'm probably worrying about what to wear far too much.
#19 Charlotte, if I'm not successful on the clothes hunt I will line up some bad seafood the night before the wedding as a last resort! :-)
#20 Glad to hear from another person who enjoyed Tai Chi Kerry - that's another boost for my attempt to go to a class next week.
#21 Thanks Roni :-)
#22 Thank you Gail. You've got it exactly right - my clothes have all shrunk!
#24 I know what you mean Judy - it's so much harder to go shopping if you want one specific thing.
#25 Thanks Paul.
#26 Susan, they're definitely not all series I've started this year and there are probably some I haven't even read a book from this year....
#34 It's an interesting question Donna. I think you're probably right in a lot of ways. I think caring for anyone with any illness must make it more likely that you will feel depressed/stressed. I'm a bit reluctant to say that caring for someone who suffers from depression is even more likely to make you depressed but only because I don't know what it's like to care for someone with a different condition so it feels a bit presumptuous to comment. I think if you're naturally a sympathetic/empathic person then you do share in other people's moods and that has positives and negatives just like anything else.
I know it must be really tough to watch a child (even an adult child) struggle with mental illness - I think I only realised once I was better how difficult it had been for my parents when I was ill in my early twenties. I'm sorry you have to go through that with your son but I'm glad he's got you as his mum to feel happy and sad with him as necessary.
So sorry to hear about your Toby - he looks like such a sweet dog.
Glad to have helped with an alternate plan re: clothing hunt. Think of me when you are puking up your guts. (or maybe not - perhaps it would be best if you did not remember whose plan it was...)
Oh, what gorgeous pictures and memories of Toby, Heather. Thanks for posting.
Heather, so sorry to hear about Toby - what a gorgeous boy he was. Thanks for sharing his photos with us. Our thoughts and our hearts are with you.
Thanks for the info on the series. I'm a bit relieved :) Praying for you and yours today. bless you!
Heather, I'm so sorry to read about Toby. I loved the pictures you posted of him.
Heather- I'm also sad to hear the news about Toby, sounds like he had a marvellous life.
Sorry about Toby! He must have been a great dog.
Depression runs in my family so I totally get what you are going through. I myself have my good and bad days but I manage the best I can.
Heather - so sorry to hear about the passing of your dog. From the photos he was a lovely animal and I know myself how keenly we feel their absence. Golden retrievers are such a good family pet. x
I said it on fb, but I say it again here - that I'm sorry about Toby. We do love our pets.
I know enough about depression to know that it is not a place I want to go again. Tai chi will help, and I wish that you could take your husband along too. Doing anything, especially anything different, is such a huge effort when you're under a cloud. Courage! I hope the shopper finds you a fabulous outfit and that that lifts your spirits.
And I'm tempted by The Trail of the Serpent, but I have a copy of *Lady Audley* that I really must read first. Reading two for every one I acquire is just a joke. If I could make the two lists even, I'd be ahead of the game. Speaking of lists, I love yours that begin every thread....so organized and helpful! Happy New Thread!! (And while I love the romance of the girl reading, I've tried it like that, and my tree was too uncomfortable for more than a couple of pages. Of course, I didn't have an elegant pink dress. I think that makes a difference.)
Hi Heather, so sorry to hear about Toby, but it's nice to read that the family has such wonderful memories, and that he helped in the decision. Take care of yourself.
What a gorgeous dog Toby was - his personality shines through every photo.
I'm not keen on family weddings myself but hope you find something to wear that you're happy in and that all goes well on the day. Hopefully you and your husband will feel lighter afterwards with the relief of it all being over!
I can understand why you were pleasantly surprised by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. There seems to have always been a snobbery about her writing, perhaps because she was associated with sensation fiction. Or maybe because she was a woman writing sensation fiction?! Anyway, I loved Lady Audley and now I really want to read The Trail of the Serpent.
I really enjoyed Lady Audley, too. A classic old-fashioned tale, that.
Thank you to Charlotte, Nancy, Liz, Mamie, Roni, Cushla, Kerry, Porua, Paul, Luci, Peggy, Judy and Dee for your kind comments about Toby and the pictures. I'm doing ok - taking Monday off work really helped as I could cry when I felt like it and just pootle around and look at old photos.
I went shopping on Tuesday with my Mum and we bought a top for the wedding (so you'll all be relieved to hear that I won't resort to trying to give myself food poisoning to get out of the wedding) and it was a shop where they make the sizes quite generous so I have the added psychological boost of having bought a top a size smaller than I normally have to (yippee!).
And I have been slowly reading The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart and also dived into Killed at the Whim of the Hat by Colin Cotterill on Monday which is not a Dr. Siri book but the first book in another series by the same author featuring crime reporter Jimm Juree and set in Thailand. So far, it seems to be exactly what I'm in the mood for.
#46 "I myself have my good and bad days but I manage the best I can." - Porua, thanks for sharing that. I think managing the best you can should not be underestimated as a life achievement - hugs for the bad days.
#49 Peggy, I'm hopeful about Tai Chi (although also trying not to have ridiculously high expectations of it at the same time). I'm also struggling to read one book for every one I acquire at the moment - each time I think I'm getting closer another book lands on the doormat....
#51 Ooooh - Liz now I am horribly torn about whether to splash out on a copy or not. Did you get the Sensation Press edition? When are you planning to read it?
And I'm thrilled to hear all the recommendations for Lady Audley even though it is making my fingers itch to add a copy to my shopping basket...
Yes, I caved and ordered the Sensation Press edition - did work out less considering the shipping, although part of me regrets giving up the 1890 alternative. No immediate plans for reading it - I'm horribly disorganised at the moment - but I will certainly give you a shout. :)
There was a lot of "establishment" hostility towards the authors of sensation novels, and particularly towards Braddon, as a woman - a successful woman - and somehow this has translated as her writing bad, trashy books (compare her reputation to Wilkie Collins', for example). I've always felt that Lady Audley's Secret was a slightly compromised work, as if Braddon wasn't allowed to write what she really wanted (can't say why without spoilers!), but it does have the virtue of being in print and readily available!
Sorry to see about your dog! Those are great pictures you posted of him, such a cutie!
I love how you are keeping track of your book series. I should try and figure out what series I am on but I'm afraid it would be a long task!
Heather - trust that you will have a lovely weekend. Heard from my mum that the weather is dreadfully english at the moment so I hope that brightens up for you too. Still everyone else is complaining of being too hot or too cold so I guess you are probably nicely in the median.
# 55 Thanks dear! Compassion is a much needed thing for me these days. Hugs for you too!
#56 Thank you - I will probably succumb at some point...
#57 Hi Chelle - thanks for stopping by and for the compliments about Toby :-) Listing the series was quite scary but it has encouraged me to make more progress with some I'd stalled on.
#58 Hi Paul. Dreadfully English is a good description of the weather at the moment but I definitely prefer it this way to the 40 degree heatwave others are having to cope with. And we don't seem to be in a part of the country that has flooded which is good!
#59 Thanks Porua :-)
Right, I'm going to see if my tired brain will let me do some book reviews...
Book #90 On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers - 4.1 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date:1987
This is the book that the latest film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is loosely based on but apart from the fact that both feature pirates and the Fountain of Youth there's really very little similarity between the two so it's probably best to ignore the connection entirely.
One of the things I like about Tim Powers' blend of historical fantasy is that he makes the magical/fantastical elements of his stories seem so believable that whilst reading this book I would have found it difficult to remember that there weren't pirates fighting sea battles with voodoo magic in the Caribbean in the early 18th century. The story itself is fairly complicated, often violent and bloody (all of these are things I'm learning to expect from Powers) but never boring.
Book #91 A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon - 3.8 stars
Original publication date:2006
A reread for my F2F reading group and whilst a tale of someone having a nervous breakdown before their daughter's wedding might not seem like the ideal book to read if you're, er, feeling like you're struggling to cope before a family wedding, I actually enjoyed this a lot more than I remembered having done on my last read.
It's a story of a typically English modern day family: George, the father, is recently retired and happily engrossing himself in his retirement project when he discovers a skin lesion on his hip. Although his doctor assures him it's just ezcema, George convinces himself that this is terminal cancer and because he's not the sort of chap to talk about his feelings or unburden himself to anyone he plunges into the depths of anxiety and depression as he attempts to cope with this on his own.
Meanwhile, his wife Jean, is having an affair with someone George used to work with because she longs to have someone she can communicate with. Daughter Katie is about to get married for the second time to a man she thinks is safer than her first husband but who is, unfortunately, a bit lower class and who her parents don't really approve of. And then of course, there's the problem of their son Jamie, his uneasy relationship with his boyfriend Tony and what will happen if Jamie brings Tony to the wedding.
It's very funny in a dark way and everyone at my reading group agreed that Haddon had the descriptions of how anxiety/depression sufferers feel and behave spot on.
Book #92 Madame Sousatzka by Bernice Rubens - 3.8 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date:1962
A book and an author recommended by Kerry when she was reading her way through Bernice Rubens' works last year, this would be out of print if Bloomsbury hadn't added it to their Bloomsbury Reader imprint which aims 'to bring excellent books currently unavailable in print back into circulation worldwide in both ebook and print. The launch list includes titles from Alan Clark, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Monica Dickens, Angela Huth, Storm Jameson, Roy Jenkins, HRF Keating, Gavin Lyall, Rose Macaulay, VS Pritchett, Bernice Rubens, Edith Sitwell, Alec Waugh'. I've got a few on my kindle from a sale a while back and this was the first one I read.
This is another book filled with dark, British humour. Madame Sousatzka is a piano teacher with her own special method. She takes a young child prodigy, Marcus, under her wing but soon has to face the fact that there's nothing more she can teach him - but can she bear to let Marcus go? In a way, this is a book in which nothing much happens but about the colourful characters which live in Madame Sousatzka's house and their love for Marcus.
Three very nice reviews, Heather. You got me with the Power's book - adding it to my WL. Hope the weekend is going well for you, and that the weather improves. Please pet your lovely kitty for me.
I'll probably give the violent pirate book a miss but I'm wishing I had a copy of A Spot of Bother to start reading right now.
Madame Sousatzka is going on the wishlist too. Her company on the launch list alone would make me look twice but it also sounds absolutely my cup of tea!
Edited to add: despite my reservations re. blood and pirates, I loved your line, I would have found it difficult to remember that there weren't pirates fighting sea battles with voodoo magic in the Caribbean in the early 18th century.
Hi Heather - good to see that A spot of bother holds up on the reread, I really enjoyed it. Another dark comedy about family life (told from the POV of the family dog) is Matt Haig's The Last Family in England, I'm still not sure if I really liked it, but it was one of those reads that you remember.
Glad to see you enjoyed the Rubens and I hope you try some more. I follow Gaskella's blog and she has just done a focus on Beryl Bainbridge who is another writer I've been meaning to read. Bainbridge and Rubens were friends.
I hope you enjoy the tai chi, I tried it for a while and really liked it. Now that I've got a gym membership I do the Essentrics classes which I love.
Nice reviews, Heather. I'm with Dee that A Spot of Bother sounds like an excellent adventure : ).
Heather my dear, I'm so, so sorry I wasn't here to offer my condolences on Toby's passing, but am doing so now. Thanks for sharing the photos. Like Donna, I shed a tear of two because I know how attached we get to our canine friends who give us more unconditional love and loyalty than most any human being ever could. Every day, I'm all too aware that my time with my beloved critters is only finite and I try to appreciate our being together as fully as I can.
Glad you found something to wear at the wedding that you liked AND with sizing that gives you an extra confidence boost. Not to be underestimated, to be sure.
Thanks for the reviews of A Spot of Bother and Madame Sousatzka. I've had the first for a number of years now, as got it shortly after reading The Curious Incident, which I thought was brilliant. I know I'll get to it eventually and I'm almost certain I'll enjoy it too. Kerry is responsible for turning me on to Bernice Rubens too, and I've now got at least a couple of her books, including the above—more reading to look forward to, more reasons to wonder why I keep getting new books, but we all wonder about that, don't we?
Thanks for visiting my blog by the way, it always makes me smile when you leave a message behind.
#61 Thank you Mamie. I passed on the strokes to Erica who has spent most of the last two days draped on our armchair in a variety of relaxed positions. It's very soothing watching her.
#62 & 67 Dee, I found it really difficult to give a guide as to how violent the Powers book was. In general I don't do very well with violence and this was near my threshold but not uncomfortably so. I don't know if that helps at all.
I find the Bloomsbury Readers list quite exciting. I've also got A Long Walk to Wimbledon by HRF Keating and Told by an Idiot by Rose Macaulay which is also a VMC. The downside is that the books are only available in print as print on demand versions for c. £15 whereas the ebooks are £4-£6. They've also included quite a few E. M. Delafield books which I've been eyeing - I think there are some which haven't been republished as Viragoes or Persephones.
#63 Thanks for the info about Berryl Bainbridge and Bernice Rubens Kerry. I'm slowly realising that there are hundreds of mid and early 20th century writers who seem to have entirely passed me by before LT. Thank you also for mentioning gaskella's blog again - I remember you mentioned it a while ago on your thread and I meant to add the blog to the list of blogs I follow and forgot. I've added it now!
#64 - 66 Ah ha (me hearties)! Wishlist hits a plenty - I hope you enjoy the books.
#68 Oh dear Lucy - I don't think I can help there I'm afraid!
#69 Ilana, thank you for visiting - I know we can't visit all the threads we want to as often as we want. Strangely I think my fear of what it would feel like to lose Toby was actually worse than the event itself (I think it's fair to say that for me, this is true of a lot of things though).
I think the reason I didn't like A Spot of Bother as much on my first read was because I was hoping for something more like A Curious Incident. There are a lot of similarities but it might help to expect something a bit different when you first read it. I'm now spending a lot of time looking at his latest book, The Red House on amazon...
"more reasons to wonder why I keep getting new books, but we all wonder about that, don't we?" :-)
*catches up a bit*
I keep thinking I should read A Spot of Bother. This is another reminder that I should actually do it.
I'm intrigued by The Trail of the Serpent. I've not come across anything by Mary Elizabeth Braddon other than Lady Audley's Secret, which has been lingering in my TBR pile lo these many months. Or these many years, more likely. I shall investigate that one.
Also, continued ((hugs)) and prayers for all the difficult stuff.
Oooh, didn't know anything about A Spot of Bother, it sounds great! Plus I loved "A Curious Incident....", so this is a "must add (to wishlist)" for me!
Hope the family wedding goes off OK, I can sympathise, just having had one myself. It was my brother's - he's a great guy, and I like his new bride very much, but there was lots a family tension bubbling away under the surface that made it an occassionally trying experience. One of the problems I had was I felt it was my role to try and smooth over some of the problems that were being caused by the bad behaviour of some other family members, and that is a pretty thankless task at times, so my advice would be to focus on keeping yourself and husband happy and not get drawn too deep into the net of family drama if you can help it.
Sorry to hear about Toby's passing. I still have dreams where I'm walking our family dog from when I was growing up, and he's been gone about 15 years now. They do get in our hearts and stay there don't they?
I noticed that #3 in the Chaos Walking Trilogy is only 99p for Kindle at the moment.
#71 Thanks Caty - I've been enjoying your London photos on fb. The Trail of the Serpent was quite expensive from UK sellers but I managed to find a US seller on abebooks who didn't charge too much postage.
#72 Hope you enjoy A Spot of Bother Hanna. Yes, we're definitely going to focus on avoiding any family dramas! Now that we've sorted something to wear, presents from the gift list and somewhere to stay I'm feeling a lot better about it.
#73 Luci, I received an email from ereaderiq about the price drop this morning. When I went to buy it this evening the price had gone back up again! Gutted.
Some good news: I went to Tai Chi and liked it!
Bad news: horrible week at work, not enough sleep and it's really humid here so my hair has turned into a real frizz monster hairdo
More good news: I finally picked up Clarissa again after a six week break and I think I'm enjoying it.
71: I'm sorry to hear about your horrible week at work and bad hair day, Heather. Not a good combination, I know.
I had an awful night's sleep, last night, too. Too warm, too many things in my head, kept getting up to go to the loo and had just about settled at about 4.30 am when Mr Dragon's i-pad started blaring out something loud. Apparently he was trying to find out the time, got distracted and started reading the news and accidently turned on the volume. I managed no more sleep after that!
62: The day after saying that I wanted to read A Spot of Bother right now, I found a copy at my local charity shop and started it today. I am enjoying it, darkly funny and easy to read feels just right for now.
Edited to add: Realised I had focussed on your bad news and not the good so Yay for Tai Chi and Clarissa!
Hi Heather - I hope you're doing well. I loved the reviews of Spot of Bother and Madame Sousatzka. I recently read The Red House, by Mark Haddon, and LOVED it. This one sounds similar, and I'll put it on my wishlist. He's wonderful at creating engaging and realistic characters.
I plan to to read A Five Year Sentence, by Bernice Rubens, this year for one of my challenges, but Madame Sousatzka appeals to me as well, especially since I was a piano teacher for many years!
grr that's annoying! I did point out another book at 20p to someone on RISI, it then went up and then went back to 20p!
#71 Thanks Dee. My week at work improved although there were a few other bumps outside of work. I'm very glad it's the weekend! Sorry to hear about your night of interrupted sleep - I get extremely grumpy if I get woken up at any point by my husband.
So glad you're enjoying A Spot of Bother - what a serendipitous find!
#76 Thanks Kerri - hope you enjoy A Spot of Bother. I'd really like to read The Red House after hearing how much you enjoyed it but I'm trying to hold out a bit longer before buying it. Partly because it's only out in hardback at the moment and a bit pricey and partly because I am really trying to slow down my book acquisitions. I so want to make a dent in my TBR this year and after 6 months I've bought one more book than I've read :-( I have more than enough books lined up for July anyway.
#77 How strange Luci!
Book #93 We by Yevgeny Zamyatin - 3.4 stars
Original publication date: 1924
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin is an early dystopian novel, possibly one of the earliest and certainly an inspiration for George Orwell's 1984. In fact, I was surprised how closely the plot of 1984 follows the plot of We.
D-503 is our narrator and the head of the great Integral project of OneState. In OneState people are given numbers rather than names and every hour of the day has an allocated activity. As a background to D-503's narration, the Integral is being developed, something like a spaceship or rocket that will be able to fly to other planets so that the inhabitants of those planets can also share in the beauty that is OneState. OneState, it seems, has decided that it is best for humanity to have happiness rather than freedom. In fact, it believes that happiness lies in having no freedom. D-503 starts off as an enthusiastic supporter of OneState but when he meets and becomes enthralled by the rebellious female I-330, he becomes more and more confused about what he believes.
The novel is described as a prose poem and I have to confess that I felt like I struggled with the prose at times. I read the 1993 translation by Clarence Brown, published by Penguin Classics but I found a couple of reviews that preferred the 2006 translation by Natasha Randall so this may partly have been due to the translation I was reading. I think there is probably a lot more to this short novel than I picked up on from my slightly rushed first read. Zamyatin uses a lot of mathematical imagery that I would like to think about more deeply on a reread. I think 1984 would probably get my vote for the better book but We is certainly worth reading if you want to understand the background to Orwell's book.
"I shall attempt nothing more than to note down what I see, what I think - or, to be more exact, what we think (that's right: we, and let this WE be the title of these records). But this, surely, will be a derivative of our life, of the mathematically perfect life of OneState, and if that is so, then won't this be, of its own accord, whatever I may wish, an epic?"
Book #94 The Library Book by various authors including China Mieville, Alan Bennett, Caitlin Moran, Tom Holland, Lionel Shriver, Ann Cleeves, Kate Mosse, Stephen Fry, Karin Slaughter, Zadie Smith, Susan Hill - 3.8 stars
Source: Amazon kindle sale
Original publication date: 2012
An unusual collection of essays and extracts from stories about or featuring libraries by a range of British and American authors. All the royalties from this book go towards The Reading Agency, a UK charity which supports local libraries. The stories and essays cover a range of topics from the libraries the contributors used and loved growing up, what libraries will look like in the future and why libraries are important today. I enjoyed this book a lot but I think it might seem a lot less relevant in a few years time. The essays are written against a background of drastic library cuts over the last two years in the UK and I wonder how much this will make sense to future readers or to readers from countries outside the UK.
Book #95 The Story of the Stone by Barry Hughart - 3.5 stars
Original publication date: 1988
The sequel to the wonderful Bridge of Birds, this book seems to have all the ingredients that I enjoyed in the first book but this one somehow failed to captivate me in the same way. I may give myself a bit of a break before picking up the third book in the series.
Like the look of the "library book" Heather - hope you are keeping dry in England and that you'll have a great weekend.
#81 Thanks Paul - we have sunshine (although we also have lots of clouds) and Wimbledon so I'm happy :-)
More reviews to come but I'm going to take a brief computer break to watch the last set of Serena Williams' match and read some Clarissa.
#79 I've been meaning to read We for ever - I love dystopian fiction. It's a bit of a family joke how many books I read where the world is either not going well or is coming to an end completely. Looks like I need to pay attention to the translation though.
For some reason yr. description of WE made me think of the Borg...... !
Enjoying your reviews, Heather. Interesting description of We: The novel is described as a prose poem and I have to confess that I felt like I struggled with the prose at times. ... I would, too!
#75 "The day after saying that I wanted to read A Spot of Bother right now, I found a copy at my local charity shop and started it today"
How odd! The exact same thing just happened to me! I found it in a charity shop today (for £1!) after just hearing about it here a few days ago. I love it when that happens!
#83 Hi Rhian. It's difficult to tell with translations, especially as there are no other languages I speak well enough to really be able to compare a translation to the original. All the reviews I saw that mentioned the translation seemed to prefer Natasha Randall's so that seems as good a place as any to start. I agree it does seem funny in a way, saying that we enjoy dystopian fiction but I when they're well done I find them really thought-provoking and not as depressing as you'd think from the subject matter!
It's made me want to reread 1984 too.
#84 Lucy, I hadn't thought of that until you mentioned but you're so right! I wonder if the creator of the Borg had read We?
#85 Thanks Nancy. I hadn't heard of a prose poem before and I'm fairly certain I hadn't read any before either. I really had to rush to finish the book because it was overdue at the library and I'd like to reread it in a less hurried fashion one day - I think it's a style that would reward slower reading.
#86 Hooray! I have this lovely image of long-neglected copies of A Spot of Bother being lovingly taken home in charity shops across the country :-)
I was going to write more reviews but I got distracted and now Murray's playing...
Hi Heather. Belated condolences on the loss of Toby.
Interesting to hear about We, though I didn't enjoy 1984 enough to want to read a "prequel."
Heather - Just keeping up over here with your lovely thread. I am watching the Murray match, too. Love to watch Wimbledon! Nice reviews - We sounds interesting. I had never heard of that before, so I will have to check it out, but I will keep what you say about the translations in mind - good to know.
Hope you are having a fabulous weekend!
Watching Murray too... But did you see the match on the other court where they are 14:14 in the fifth set and have been going 5 hours!
Ahh! The Murray match is excruciating! If I was a nail-biter I wouldn't have any left!
#89 Hi Ardene - thanks for stopping by. We is different to 1984 but that sort of book isn't for everyone. I hope you're having a good summer.
#90 Thanks Mamie - I'm breaking my new early night rule to watch the end of the Murray match... What is he doing? He can play so much better than this. And there have been so many falls by both players - I get really worried for them.
#91 Rhian, I didn't see it but I heard about it. This seems to be a really good year for gripping matches and quite a few surprises in the early rounds. I hope Murray doesn't end up as one of the surprises.
I saw that match, Rhian - 2nd longest in they said. And Murray makes it through!!
#93 And he plays the winner of the 2nd longest match on Monday - I hope they both get some rest tomorrow!
Book #96 Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill - 4 stars
Source: Amazon kindle sale
Original publication date: 2011
"Free societies are hopeful societies. And free societies will be allies against these hateful few who have no conscience, who kill at the whim of a hat."
George W. Bush
Washington DC, 17 September 2004
Whilst everyone else has been enjoying the delights of Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri series, I have been reading Killed at the Whim of a Hat, the first book in another Cotterill series (I'm such a free spirit).
Jimm Juree is a 34 year old up and coming crime reporter in the city of Chiang Mai in Thailand until her mother announces that she's sold the family home and bought a run-down hotel on the coast in the south of the country in what turns out to be a tourist coldspot. Jimm is convinced that her career in journalism is over but when a couple of murders happen in quick succession she realises that this might be the lead she needs to get her a good story.
As I still haven't read any of the Dr. Siri books I can't really compare the two series but Killed at the Whim of a Hat was filled with dry humour and quirky characters. It's not exactly realistic crime fiction but it was a great, lighthearted read.
Thanks to Angela (bookangel_a) for the recommendation.
Book #97 The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter- 4 stars
Original publication date: 2012
Terry Pratchett has been one of my favourite authors for years now: if his name's on a book then I buy it. This collaboration with the British science fiction author Stephen Baxter is a departure from his popular Discworld series as well as being a departure from the fantasy genre he's mostly associated with. It's based on an idea Pratchett had in the 1980s which never got developed into a book, a story about parallel universes and what happens when humans develop the ability to travel between them by 'stepping'.
The Long Earth has a very different feel to Pratchett's Discworld novels. It has a slower narrative with less happening and it's not a humourous novel. On the humour point, I don't think this is as big a departure for Pratchett as a lot of reviewers seem to think; quite a few of the more recent Discworld novels have a decidedly dark tone and one of my favourites, Night Watch, is definitely not a book I would describe as being primarily a humourous book. I haven't read anything by Stephen Baxter before so I can't comment on whether The Long Earth is similar in style to his other books but after finishing it I spent some time browsing my local library catalogues for his books.
I think The Long Earth is primarily an exploration novel - most of the time we only follow a few characters as they travel between the parallel Earths in the book (known as The Long Earth). It is slow moving on the whole but that felt appropriate for this type of story. The end of the book seems to set things up for a sequel which I'm quite excited about.
Overall, I really enjoyed this and it reminded me that it's been ages since I read this sort of science fiction novel. I would recommend it if you enjoy this type of science fiction - the closest example I can think of is Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars although The Long Earth is nowhere near as epic in scope. If you primarily enjoy Pratchett's humour in his writing then you may not like this book as much as his others.
As an aside, if you buy the book in the UK from Waterstones it includes the short story that Pratchett originally wrote in the 1980s which was the basis for The Long Earth and I thought it was a pretty good one.
I have two more books to review to bring me up to date - I'll try and review those on Tuesday (a whole day off work with no plans - whee!)
So far this year I've read 99 books of which 62 have been books from my TBR pile (as opposed to library books, other borrowed books or free kindle downloads from Project Gutenberg etc.).
However, during the same period I have acquired 63 books (excluding free kindle downloads and books my husband has bought) which is not what I was hoping for but I think is actually not too bad a result considering how many books Luci gave me when I met her in London (thanks Luci!) and the ridiculous number of books I acquired last year. I would still like to end the year with a net reduction in my TBR pile.
And I'm nearly halfway through Clarissa which gives me some hope that I might still manage to finish it this year. I'm thinking of making War and Peace my project for next year, just because it will seem so easy compared to Clarissa! :-)
I'm a huge fan of Red Mars, so The Long Earth is duly wishlisted. I used to be a big fan of Pratchett, but actually haven't read a book of his for years. Perhaps it's time to pick a few more up and/or embark on some re-reads. I was thinking about some of his stuff just the other day, for no particular reason. Granny Weatherwax sticks in my mind as a really great character, and of course, YOU KNOW WHO. He's good at author collaborations too Good Omens with Neil Gaiman is great fun, as I recall.
#97 Hope you enjoy The Long Earth - it seems to have got quite a few negative reviews on amazon but reading through them I got the impression that was more because they were disappointed the book wasn't the type of book they were expecting rather than because it was necessarily a bad book.
I really want to finish the Kim Stanley Robinson series but I think I've overbooked myself again for July! Adding Green Mars to my high priority August list - hopefully that will help.
Granny Weatherwax was my favourite Discworld character for quite a long time; I think I've now replaced her with Sam Vimes from the City Watch novels but I'm still a fan of Granny! It's been so long since I read Good Omens that I really can't remember whether I liked it or not - one for the reread pile.
Terry Pratchett has been one of my favourite authors for years now: if his name's on a book then I buy it. Love that! As a book nut, I find that such a comforting feeling : ).
I'm going to be picking up that Pratchett collaboration soon--as soon as I get up to Mysterious Galaxy again. I like Pratchett for his keen wit, which is not exactly the same as his humour. And I adore Good Omens and, yes, Sam Vimes is my favorite character as well. Granny Weatherwax and I have a sort of nodding acquaintance relationship.
Great review Heather ... I love Pratchett and have already requested this one from the library. so hope to be able to read it soon.
#95 - Hi Heather - Nice review! I've not read any Pratchett, but Kim Stanley Robinson is one of my favorites so I'll give this one a try. I've actually been thinking about re-reading the Mars trilogy, via audiobook, at some point in the near future.
Heather, great review of We, which I wanted to thumb, but ??? why not on the main page? Please fix so I can thumb!
Have added it to the wishlist, and found they have the translation you suggest at the library. Killed at the Whim of a Hat isn't on offer there, but honestly, I'm tempted to purchase just because the title and it's source are just too hilarious! And did you see on the main page?:
Families is where our nation finds hope,
where wings take dream.
George W. Bush,
La Crosse, Wisconsin 18 October 2000
Acknowledgements: And before I go, I have been asked by the officers of the Pak Nam police station to point out that there are absolutely no homosexuals, latent or practising, employed in that establishment. I hope that's perfectly clear.
I haven't jumped onto the Siri series yet, but I badly want to. They're all available at the library too...
I want to read my "new" copy of Anna Karenina next year—the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation, though I also recently acquired a BBC audio recording which sounds great, but sadly, probably not translated by P&V. What to do? Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that perhaps I'd join you on War and Peace? It's a thought.
Love Robinson's *Mars*! Pratchett leaves me yawning. Would that it were not so!
"(I'm such a free spirit)."!!! Me too. Me too.
Nice reviews! Killed at the Whim of a Hat sounds like one for my TBR - I love the Dr. Siri books and was wondering what his other series was like. I will have to check into that. Hope you are enjoying your day off with no plans - I LOVE those kinds of days.
#99 Thanks Lucy.
#100 It's lovely to have authors you know you'll enjoy although 'having' to buy their books as soon as they come out doesn't help me trying to cut down on the books I'm buying :-)
#101 Hope you enjoy it Roni - and you make a good point about Pratchett's wit.
#102 Hope you enjoy it calm!
#103 I hope you enjoy your first venture with Pratchett Judy. It's not his best but that doesn't mean it's a bad place to start.
#104 Yay! Off to find your thread to see if you've finished yet.
#105 Thank you Ilana, I've added We to the workpage now.
I think I added those quotes to the mainpage - definitely the one from the acknowledgements anyway. Every chapter in the book starts with a George Bush malapropism - I thought it was brilliant.
I've actually been thinking of trying to get hold of the Pevear/Volokhonsky translation of Anna Karenina to reread it before the new film comes out - which would mean next month because the film's released in September... Not sure I'll manage that but would be more than happy to have company with War and Peace next year.
#106 "Pratchett leaves me yawning" Peggy, no!? I suppose I can overlook that as you have such good taste otherwise... :-P
#107 Thanks Mamie. The only caveat I would give re Killed at the Whim of a Hat is that some Dr Siri fans didn't like it as much. But as I haven't read Dr Siri yet I can't really say whether I agree or not.
I did have a nice Tuesday but I didn't get any book reviews done. I finished my 100th book (A Pin to See the Peepshow - very good) and to celebrate having equalised books bought and books read I went to the charity bookshop in town and bought 5 books (*face palm*) and then Our Mutual Friend arrived making 6.
The five were:
The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell - screams chicklit at me (which I'm not a fan of) but it's my F2F reading group choice
My Career Goes Bung and Some Everyday Folk and Dawn by Miles Franklin - two green Viragoes
Bodily Harm by Margaret Atwood
The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
So, I'm now 6 books behind but I've started my reread of Our Mutual Friend and it's really, really good.
which would mean next month because the film's released in September... Not sure I'll manage that
Because - *cough* - you'll be reading The Warden next month - right?? :)
Hi Heather! Trying to find my way through the maze of threads again. Looking forward to keeping up with your readings again. :)
100 books read - congrats! Wow!! And you actually equalized your books read to books bought - that would be a lifetime achievement award for me. There would have to be speeches and good food, definitely alcohol and some sort of photo montage featuring the books that had been read....
Mamie, you and I could celebrate together were it to happen to me. It's so unlikely on my account that I'll pledge here and now to fly wherever you are to attend the party!
Heather, I get the places where I'm supposed to laugh in Pratchett, but my most positive reaction is "How clever! (*yawn*)" Sorry!!!!
My congratulations too on your Great Equilibrium Project with 100 books read this year! And you read good ones too!!
Hi Heather - I, too, am enjoying Our Mutual Friend. It's my first read though. Congratulations on arriving at 100, very impressive.
Sorry Murray didn't win; I was cheering for him, if Rafa wasn't in the running:)
The Library Book sounds wonderful; I love reading about reading. I've never read Pratchett, but I've heard many good things about him. Where would you recommend starting?
Hi, Heather - just a note to let you know that my copy of The Octoroon arrived this week. :)
I've just come to say Hi and hope you have a great weekend, Heather!
Liz, Valerie, Mamie, Peggy, Beth and Dee - thank you for keeping my thread alive over the last couple of weeks!
The big family wedding was last weekend and I think it went really well (some photos here). I had quite a few early mornings leading up to the wedding when I woke up in a bit of a panic and some very late nights over the course of the weekend so I'm not very surprised that I've spent the last week coughing and sniffling my way through a yucky cold. I need to post about the books I've been reading but it will have to wait until I'm feeling a bit more with it.
#109 I haven't forgotten Liz - The Warden is top of my list for next month!
#110 Hi Valerie - it's good to have you back :-)
#111 LOL Mamie! My book equalisation only lasted for a few hours but it was a nice feeling while it lasted. At the moment I'm back to having bought 5 books more than I've read this year thanks to some kindle discounts.
#112 I would love to come and join in too! I think humourous books can be the most difficult to recommend - what I find funny can often be not funny to someone else and vice versa.
#113 Thanks Beth. It would have been lovely if Murray had won Wimbledon but I'm pleased Federer won. He has been and still is such an amazing tennis player. Hopefully Murray will get his break one day.
There are lots of different places you can start with Pratchett; the two places I normally recommend starting are Guards! Guards!, which is the first book in the City Watch subseries of his Discworld series, or Wee Free Men which is another Discworld book and again the first in its own subseries. Guards! Guards! has a noir/police procedural feel whilst the Wee Free Men is about a young witch who has to rescue a brother from the Queen of the Fairies. I think either would be a good place to start.
#115 Ooo! I'm going to try and hold out a little longer but I will probably succumb and order a copy soonish....
#116 Hi Dee - thanks for stopping by.
I've got a week and a half's worth of threads to catch up on so I'm off to try and make a dent in those today.
I'm glad your family wedding went well - at least your cold held off until afterwards!
Hi Heather - I'm glad the wedding was wonderful - lovely photos. I love your outfit too - success!
#118 Thanks Kerry - me too!
#119 Thank you other Kerri! Did you mean the pink dress?? That was not what I wore at the wedding (I really don't like pink!) - just a surprise gift from the groom's family from Uganda. I only realised once I got home that I have no pictures of me or my husband at the wedding but that was partly because we were in a lot of the official photos and the rest of the time we were too busy helping out or trying to organise things to think about photos. Once the official photos come through I'll hopefully be able to post a photo that we're in.
#121 - Yes - I did mean the pink dress! I admire the boldness and figured there was a story behind it, but couldn't find it in your thread. Ok, then. I look forward to photos of the official outfit.
#120 Book equalization is something to aspire to (although like deficit reduction I don't really believe it will ever happen...)
Heather - Lovely pictures. I liked the Ugandan dress, too. It sounds like everything went smoothly. I hope your cold doesn't linger.
#122 :-) The pink dress is a traditional Gomesi dress from Uganda - they have enormous puff sleeves which always me think of Anne of Green Gables. For some reason I've grown up thinking there are certain colours I shouldn't wear because of my hair colour and I now really dislike those colours - bright pink, yellow and orange in particular - but I think I need to learn to be a bit bolder.
All the groom's family came from Uganda and the women all wore the traditional dressed which looked wonderful - so colourful. I managed to find a photo of the traditional Gomesi dresses from wikipedia too:
Some family friends also came to the wedding from Chennai in India and wore saris so it was a very colourful wedding.
Speaking as a fellow red head, I know what you mean about certain colours. I generally stick to a fairly cool and dark palette ranging from purple to blue to green, and all points in between, but rarely venturing into the warmer end of the colour spectrum. But I love bright colours in other things (I still think very fondly of the bright orange wall I had in a previous home), and occassionally I get brave and venture out of my comfort zone a bit. I do own the odd pink T-shirt - I think it can work as long as it's a fairly vivd pink - think "fushcia" rather than "baby". I'll even try on a kind of burgundy red, with some reservations. Yellow and orange I reluctantly have to put aside. And pretty much anything pastel-ly coloured just doesn't work. It makes me look anaemic or something.
All caught up here, Heather. Beautiful pictures from the wedding - thanks for sharing. Love the one of the bride and groom outside of the church. And I learned something because I had not heard of or seen a Gomesi dress before. Sorry about the cold though, hope you are starting to feel better.
Beautiful pictures of a beautiful and multicultural wedding! I love it when you can combine so many different traditions in one beautiful event.
Hope you feel better soon, Heather!
Hi Heather, I too am all caught up, and must say I'm another fan of the Gomesi dress. I happen to really like pink and think it looks good on you. Now you know what to wear to you next wedding event!
I'll likely follow along with you on The Warden next month.
Me, too (three, four, five?) - LOVE the wedding pics : ). Thanks for sharing, Heather.
Hi Heather, just catching up, I've been neglecting the threads for a couple of weeks and trying to get more reading done, glad to hear that the wedding went well.
Long time away again.
#127 Blue-green is my safe-zone too Hanna with some purple and red (but not orange-red).
#128 Thanks Mamie - the cold is nearly completely gone now :-)
#129 Thanks Valerie!
#130 Thanks Ilana - perhaps I should reconsider my antipathy to pink... I'm looking forward to The Warden - it's quite short compared to some of the 19th century chunksters I've been reading lately - just under 300 pages.
#131 Thank you Nancy!
#132 Thanks Judy - I am still so behind with the threads myself. I have a quiet weekend planned so hopefully I will be able to make some progress with them.
But for the moment, I'm going to attempt to write some long overdue book reviews.
Hi Heather - wonderful pictures of the wedding:)
Hope your quiet weekend goes to plan.
Looking forward to seeing what you have been reading.
#125 - Hi Heather - Thanks for sharing this photo. It's interesting to learn about different wedding traditions. I was just out with a group of friends and one of ladies is marrying a Chinese man and they're going to have the traditional tea ceremony, which I was previously unfamiliar with.
Book #98 Talking of Jane Austen by G. B. Stern and Sheila Kaye-Smith - 4 stars (also published as Speaking of Jane Austen)
Source: Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster
Original publication date: 1943
I'd been looking out for a copy of this book since someone in the Virago group wrote a blog-post about it and the antiquarian bookshop we stumbled across in Exmoor seemed like the perfect place to look and I was right! It also seems to be a first edition which I'm very excited about although not for financial reasons (I'm 99% sure it's not worth any more than I paid for it and first editions seem quite easily available on the internet) but because it was so interesting looking at a book that had been published in 1943.
I've uploaded the pictures of the back cover, inside sleeve and the receipt that was inside it, showing that it was first bought for £12 8s from a bookshop in Calcutta. The RRP of the book when published was 12s. 6d. - the enormous price increase was presumably due to the cost of shipping the book from England to India during the middle of the war.
Inside cover flap:
According to yellow pages the bookstore still exists today.
Anyway, now that I've gushed about the book what about the contents?
The book is a collection of essays written by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern about Jane Austen. One of the reasons I enjoyed reading this was because it gave me a glimpse of how people from a different period felt about one of my favourite authors. I don't think a book about Jane Austen could be written today which contained anything like this opening paragraph:
"If the fanatical lovers of Jane Austen are few, few also are her declared enemies. She rouses none of the impatience and antagonism that are stirred sometimes by the restless, violent movements of her successor, Charles Dickens, nor the occasional disgusts that repel certain readers of her predecessors, Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett, nor even the boredom that yawns away many pages of her illustrious and personally admired contemporary, Sir Walter Scott."
I don't think the 'fanatical lovers of Jane Austen' have been few in number ever since Colin Firth got his shirt wet in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and I very much doubt that any book written about Jane Austen today would consider mentioning Fielding or Smollett as 18th century authors whose works its readers would be familiar with.
Another reason I liked this book was because the authors were often quite critical of Jane Austen's work. This might seem strange, but I think it was actually because they were both such fans of Jane Austen and expected their readers to feel the same way: they didn't need to spend time defending her work, they could take it as given that everyone would agree that all her books were fantastic and that gave them the freedom to discuss the areas where they felt Jane Austen's writing or characters hadn't been her best. It did mean that I disagreed with what they said more often than I'd expected but then it was also interesting to think that even when two people both really love an author, they might love quite different things about that author. I particularly disagreed with their statement that Pride and Prejudice was 'the book which most true Janeites would place at the bottom of her achievements' (it's one of my favourites) and I got rather tired of the amount of carping about Fanny Price from Mansfield Park although I accept that most people do find this character incredibly annoying. But I really enjoyed the chapter on the 'chumps' found in Austen's fiction (Mr Woodhouse, Harriet Smith, Mrs Dashwood) and the discussion around snobbery in Emma.
I would definitely recommend this for Jane Austen fans, if only because it gives such a different perspective on an author about whom so many books have been recently written and published.
Heather - Thanks for the review. Talking of Jane Austen sounds like a winner. And books about books is one of my favorite kinds of books. Whew. Lots of books in that last sentence.
#134 & 135 Thanks calm and Kerri. One quite lengthy review written and I will try to make the next couple shorter.
A tea ceremony sounds really interesting Kerri - do you know if you'll be going?
Book #99 Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper - 3.9 stars
Original publication date: 1991
Category: Fantasy and Science Fiction Masterworks
This is a difficult book to describe without making it sound too wacky - it's a retelling of Sleeping Beauty that also includes elements from the stories of Cinderella and Snow White, time travel, a dystopian future and covers themes such as environmentalism, feminism, gender and beauty.
I loved parts of this book but I had quite a strong negative reaction to other parts. I've been musing over why I had such a strong negative reaction to some parts of it and I think it was partly that it felt like she got too preoccupied with her message at some points and partly that I think we have some fundamental differences in world-view. But it was very well-written when she didn't get too preachy and several weeks later it's still a book that's resonating with me. A very thought-provoking book.
Book #100 A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse - 4.6 stars
Source: Charity bookshop
Original publication date: 1934
Category: Virago Modern Classics
Before I read this book, I knew that it had been based on a murder case from the 1920s (the Thompson/Bywaters case) and I was initially confused that the first three-quarters of this book seem to show a life that has as little to do with murder as you can imagine. A modern book would probably start with the murder then tell the story of the events leading up to the murder through flashbacks, but Jesse starts back in her main character's childhood in 1913 and we follow her as she leaves school, begins an apprenticeship and then marries. The main character, Julia, has always lived in the world inside her head. As a young girl, she dreams that someone rich and devastatingly handsome will sweep her off her feet and marry her.
"It was just that something that Julia always wanted - even when we were at school. She lived on - I don't quite know how to put it - that romantic assumption that there was something wonderful and golden, something complete and round; that was what she wanted."
As she gets older it becomes more and more obvious to her that things like that just don't happen to girls like her but rather than being able to face the reality of the world she's confined to, Julia continues to live inside her head and to believe that she is someone truly special who will one day escape the humdrum life she lives.
Ultimately Julia's story ends in tragedy, and even knowing the ending it still feels unexpected and sudden - I think this would have been lost if Jesse had told the story through flashbacks. The writing is wonderful and I could often feel the how trapped Julia must have felt in her life - so much so that I had to stop reading for about a month because I was finding it too depressing.
"He saw how completely at the mercy of her imagination and her body such a girl must have been; a girl whose mind had never been trained to look for truth, had never learned any thrift of thought. What guide could such a one have had but her own desires, which were not, after all, ignoble? Her desire for beauty, fro something finer than the ugliness which was all that lay within her grasp? Her desire for physical pleasure, the only ecstasy that could be hers?"
As the back cover says she is truly 'a woman trapped by her sex, her class and the times she lived in'.
Heather - This is becoming a dangerous thread. Your last three books sound fascinating. I'll look for them -- even though you have reservations about Beauty.
Heather, I can't remember whether I commented on your fb pictures, but I loved the whole wedding - and LOVE the Gomesi dress - and your pictures here! You are so lucky to have that wonderful red hair!!!!
I'm off to see whether I can find a reasonably priced copy of *Talking Jane* and you make me want to haul out my old Penguin copy of *Peep Show*. It's the time of month when I'm trying to finish several of this month's books and longing to start something new - a very dangerous time to be sure!
#137 Oops, sorry I missed your earlier message Beth. Books about books are always fun, although for once, this book about books didn't add any to my wishlist, it just made me want to reread the Austens (again)!
#139 Looking at my comments again, I've realised that they're mainly negative whereas I do feel Beauty is a very good book, but it has some flaws.
#140 Thank you Peggy! I hope you can find *Talking Jane* - from a quick look at abebooks it looks like *Talking of Jane Austen* is more expensive in the US but *Speaking of Jane Austen* is cheaper. I'm 99% sure they're the same book. There was also a sequel of sorts, More About Jane Austen from the same authors, published in 1949.
The book images of Talking of Jane Austen looks priceless! And, most of all it looks like it has that wonderful "old" book smell! Some really good books and good reviews here Heather! Looks like you are enjoying a fantastic run of great reads. :)
What interesting reading you're doing, Heather! You really caught me with Talking of Jane Austen! I'll have to find it somehow.
Heather, thank you for wonderful reviews! Love the pics, too, of Talking of Jane Austen. You introduce me to a new author with your VMC.
Book #101 Hand and Ring by Anna Katharine Green - 3.8 stars
Source: Free kindle read
Original publication date: 1883
I skipped over a couple of stand-alone novels written by Anna Katharine Green to read what I thought was the third book in her Ebenezer Gryce series; a decision I've come to regret as I've since realised that one of the stand-alone books did, in fact, feature Ebenezer Gryce. So, Hand and Ring is actually the fourth Ebenezer Gryce book and I need to go back and read the third, The Sword of Damocles (I've also updated the series page on LT). It doesn't really matter because none of the Ebenezer Gryce books make reference to any of the earlier books and, so far, there doesn't seem to be any character development of Mr Gryce in the way there is in Dorothy L. Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey books for example.
So far, there seems to be a certain formula to Anna Katharine Green's books, but it's a formula I enjoy. There is circumstantial evidence against a suspect, a beautiful and mysterious woman and some painstaking detective word to gather the evidence needed to prove the innocence of those wrongly suspected and convict the guilty. Hand and Ring was longer than her first two detective stories but I felt the plot was tighter and I think this has been my favourite of her books so far.
Book #102 The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell - 2 stars
Source: Charity bookshop
Original publication date: 2009
A big fat raspberry for me. I normally avoid chick lit and this is definitely chick lit so I was considerably biased against this book from the start but I still think this was not well written. It's the sort of book where the author feels the need to give the reader a lot of detail about the clothes everyone's wearing and, for male characters, their physique. In this book Melody doesn't just walk into a room, she walks into a room wearing comfy slacks and a sky-blue jumper. The author has tried to do something more than the standard girl meets boy, girl agonises over boy, girl ends up with boy plot which I admire her for but I didn't really feel it worked (and the girl still ends up with the boy). This was my reading group choice otherwise there is no way I would have touched this book. It wasn't totally bad - I finished it and I don't feel like I threw those hours of my life away but I still can't figure out why on earth so many women seem to read and enjoy this type of book.
Book #103 The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury - 3.9 stars
Source: Charity bookshop
Original publication date: 1951 as a collection. Individual short stories published throughout the 1940s and 1950s
A collection of themed short stories telling the story of mankind's colonisation of the planet Mars. Although each of the short stories would work on its own some feature repeated characters and set in sequence they tell an overarching story. I've heard that Bradbury described this as a fantasy set on Mars and I think that's a good description - this isn't the same Mars that Kim Stanley Robinson writes about but a Mars with canals, a breathable atmosphere and an ancient Martian race. Bradbury's writing is very good: these were short stories to make you think and there was often a sense of creepiness about them. This collection seemed more dated to me than Fahrenheit 451. Although the events this book describes take place at the beginning of the 21st century, these are definitely stories about people from the 1940s/1950s visiting Mars with the concerns of that time, but interesting nonetheless.
Just catching up here, Heather (and I really must give my own sadly neglected thread a look in too)!
Those wedding photos are just wonderful and I'm so glad the day went well. I also love your copy of Talking of Jane Austen. It sounds like another one to look out for when perusing second-hand bookshops.
I have A Pin to See the Peepshow and am tempted to see if I can read it before the end of the month so I can join you with the TIOLI challenge it fits. There are so many other books I planned to read this month though and I know I will only read two or three more. I do like the sound of it though.
#142 It does indeed have a wonderful old book smell Valerie. It's been a good month for reading so far - only one book I didn't like.
#143 Thanks Joe - hope you enjoy *Talking*.
#144 Nancy, this was a new to me author too and I think the only reason I picked the book up in the charity bookshop was because of its Virago green cover. Jesse's written another couple of novels which have been republished by Virago which I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for.
#146 Yes it was - thanks Lucy.
#147 Thanks Dee! I think I have a bit of catching up to do on your thread too.
"There are so many other books I planned to read this month though and I know I will only read two or three more." - It's definitely that time of the month isn't it? I have a big pile of Orange books I wanted to read but I think I'm only going to be able to fit in one more Orange this month as I want to read some Rosamond Lehmann books this week.
I put A Pin to See the Peepshow in challenge #10 - read a book by an author whose surname could also be a first name. I was quite surprised how many of my books qualified for that challenge this month. *Pin* is quite long for a Virago too - I think it's around 400 pages.
147: I think I'll save *Pin* for Virago August then as it's a long one.
I doubt if you have any catching up to do on my thread as I haven't been there myself for a couple of weeks (insert embarrassed smiley here). I hope to catch up a bit tomorrow when I've got my book thoughts in order.
Oh and I forgot to say earlier but my (younger) son, Matthew loved those Horrible Geographies you gave me at Reading. He has been reading them at bedtime and now wants more so I have ordered a boxed set from The Works.
Hi Heather -- You've been busy today. The Green and Bradbury sound great. Thanks for reviewing the Jewell so I don't have to read it :) I'm not a fan of chick lit either.
Love the wedding photos and the colourful traditional dresses. I have a copy of Beauty on my tbr pile but haven't felt like picking it up yet, will probably let it languish there a while longer. I should read more Ray Bradbury, loved his The Illustrated Man.
#149 I had two weeks worth of catching up to do - and now I've done it :-)
So pleased Matthew enjoyed the Horrible Geography books.
#150 Hi Beth - I feel like I've had a very productive weekend. Got halfway through my reviews yesterday and caught up on threads today. Tomorrow I go back to work... and get really behind again. Oh well.
I do wonder how much my anti-chick lit prejudice affected my view of the Melody Browne book - but a lot of other people from the reading group also didn't like it - for which I am very thankful as it hopefully means we won't turn into a reading group that just reads that type of book. I did read a Sophie Kinsella book once and that was ok.
#151 Yay Stasia! *waves back*
#152 Thanks Kerry. I definitely want to read more by Bradbury.
# 136 Wow a book from a bookshop in Calcutta! That too with a receipt dated 20th September 1944. What I wouldn't give to find a book like that!
#138 A Pin to See the Peepshow sounds good. The Thompson/Bywaters case has always both fascinated and disturbed me.
Wow! You have been busy, Heather! Lots of good reading here, so you hit me with a few book bullets. Perhaps it would be quicker to list the book I am not interested in - the Melody Brown. Everything else sounds fabulous. I have Martian Chronicles in my TBR as I am trying to read more Bradbury since recently discovering him. I think Mark has a group read of that scheduled for the Fall - September, maybe? Will have to check on that. Hope all is well with you - please pet the kitty for me.
Thanks, Heather! *Speaking* is much more reasonable than *Talking*! It's still a bit more than I'm willing to pay this minute, but some old copies are available. YAY!!
#154 I didn't find the receipt until I got the book home otherwise I would have liked to ask the bookstore owner if he knew anything of the book's history, but it's lovely imagining someone buying the book back in 1944 after it had travelled all that way. I hope they enjoyed it.
I hadn't heard of the Thompson/Bywaters case before but I'd like to find out more about it now. Someone has recommended Criminal Justice: True Story of Edith Thompson from the work page of A Pin to See the Peepshow which looks interesting.
#155 Thanks for stopping by Mamie - sorry for hitting you with all those book bullets! We finally have some summery weather here so kitty is outside all the time. She'll occasionally come in to grab a mouthful of food and then she heads outside again - I'll try and give her a stroke from you on her way in or out. She's a funny one.
#156 Pleased to hear it Peggy :-)
Book #104 Angel by Elizabeth Taylor - 4.2 stars
Original publication date: 1957
Category: The other Elizabeth taylor
Angelica Deverell, otherwise known as Angel, is one of those characters you love to hate and I think Elizabeth Taylor must have had a lot of fun writing this book. Unusually for one of Taylor's novels, the story covers Angel's life from when she starts to write her first book at 15 all the way through to old age. Unlike Taylor, Angel is a terrible writer yet, also unlike Taylor, her books are remarkably popular.
This is Angel's publishers' reaction to her first book:
Gilbright and Brace had been divided, as their readers' reports had been. Willie Brace had worn his guts thin with laughing, he said. The Lady Irania was his favourite party-piece and he mocked at his partner's defence of it in his own version of Angel's language.
"Kindly raise your coruscating beard from those iridescent pages of shimmering tosh and permit your mordant thoughts to dwell for one mordant moment on us perishing in the coruscating workhouse, which is where we shall without a doubt find ourselves, among the so-called denizens of deep-fraught penury. Ask yourself - nay, go so far as to enquire of yourself - how do we stand by such brilliant balderdash and live, nay, not only live, but exist too..."
"You overdo those 'nays'," said Theo Gilbright. "She does not."
"There's a 'nay' on every page. M'wife counted them."
Angel's character matches her writing: she's vain, completely without empathy or humour, unable to accept any criticism or to see criticism as anything other than a personal attack, a self-proclaimed lover of animals and yet she doesn't properly care for or control the pets she owns. Angel is a bit of a monster and seems to live mostly in the world she has created inside her head.
This book is filled with dark humour so although I don't think this was Elizabeth Taylor's best novel, for me, it was certainly her funniest. As Hilary Mantel writes in the introduction of the new Virago edition: "Angel is a book in which an accomplished, deft and somewhat underrated writer has a great deal of fun at the expense of a crass, graceless and wildly overpaid one."
Hi Heather - Nice review. This is a reminder that I wanted to get to Taylor this summer...
Marvelous review! I love your perspective on it. There was a lot of humor in it.
Hi Heather! Sorry, this may seem like such a dumb question, but is this Elizabeth Taylor the same as the Hollywood actress?
Heather, happy to drop a thumb for an excellent review of Angel. Thanks for that, and thanks for posting it on the book's main page.
160: Not Heather, but no. In fact, I'm currently reading a biography called "The Other Elizabeth Taylor" about the novelist and short story writer.
Great review of Angel Heather. You and Lucy both put mine to shame, but I'm glad it's out of the way. I gave it 4.5 stars, and I always find it difficult to review a book I've really liked and which I feel is a cut above the rest... you get a thumb from me!
I currently have a whole bunch of Elizabeth Taylor books in my shopping cart (the green Viragos too—impossible to find here), and for the past three days I've been spending more time looking at that shopping cart than doing most anything else. I keep telling myself I need to hold off on book purchases right now because registration for the fall courses at the Visual Arts Centre is starting on August 1st... so I do this thing: "this whole cartload of books or... half the cost of a 12-week class? Or... the cost of a day-long workshop?..." *sigh* It's so hard having competing interests I tell you!
eta: chick lit: I know what you mean. When I was working I did manage to read the first three Shopaholics in a row, but that was because I could have written those books myself, being a serious shopping addict myself, and besides I was too brain-dead after work to read anything more challenging at the time!
#157 - Great review. I think I've said this before, but this one really interests me. I'll probably read it at some point this year. It seems like such a departure from A View of the Harbour, which I loved.
Great review of Angel. That's one I've had on the Wishlist for ages.
Oh an Angel review and a very interesting one! I've been skimming over those until I'd read the book but now I've read it, I must catch up with them. I think Laura's is the only other one I read properly.
Interesting that you and Lucy saw the humour in Angel. I didn't find it as funny as other Taylors I have read but I might have missed the humour through being permanently horrified at Angel! I thought it was clever how Angel was so awful yet still believable. I've recently been reading about people with narcissistic personalities and I think that's how we'd label Angel now!
#167 Yes, narcissistic for sure, at the very least! Though the utter lack of sense of humour makes me wonder what else it could be...
#158 Thanks Beth - yes, do read some Taylor :-) Angel isn't typical of her books but I wouldn't say it was a bad place to start.
#159 Thanks Lucy - I really enjoyed the comments you posted on the Virago thread from the writers' perspective.
#160 Hi Valerie. Not dumb at all! As Luci has said, this is a different Elizabeth Taylor but she was alive at the same time as the actress which can make it confusing.
#161 & 162 I really want to read the biography (and I will at some point) but I feel slightly unsure about it after attending the Elizabeth Taylor day in Reading. Her children are very against the biography and claim it's full of errors but I'm not sure how much of that was an understandable reaction to someone you were so close to being exposed for the world to see.
#164 Ilana, thank you for the compliment - I don't think my review has put yours to shame at all! I was thinking earlier that although there aren't many reviews on the work page I think it's attracted a higher proportion of above average reviews (in terms of the quality of the review rather than the rating given to the book) and I'd class yours in that category.
"I currently have a whole bunch of Elizabeth Taylor books in my shopping cart" Well, this is not the place to come if you want people to dissuade you from buying them, especially the green ones :-) I've promised myself the new edition of her Complete short stories for my Thingaversary in October.
#165 Thanks Kerri - I do hope you enjoy it when you get to it. It is a departure from her other books, but at the same time it's definitely Taylor's writing.
#166 Thanks Rhian - buy it!
#167 Hi Dee. I often think humour seems to be the most difficult thing to predict. If a book's tragic then it seems like everyone finds it tragic but if someone finds something funny then it seems we can never agree how funny or whether it's funny. I feel like I'm getting myself into a mess so I think I'll stop!
Anyway, I couldn't explain why Angel tickled me quite so much but she really did.
#167 & 168 Yes, narcissistic at the very least! I did think it was clever how Taylor managed to create some sympathy for Angel through her publisher, Theo. She was a monster, but I got the impression that she could have turned out differently if things had been different. There was a passage about her desperate need for love somewhere and I kept thinking that if she'd had that, or been able to accept love, she could have been quite different.
I'm behind on the threads (the eternal cry) but will try to catch up soon. I have been sooo tired this week. The most recent reason is that our cat decided to have a long and involved discussion about territory with one of the other local cats outside our (open) bedroom window in the wee hours of the morning and then when I went back to sleep I dreamt that someone was trying to kill our cat and I needed to protect her but she still wouldn't let me pick her up which made it quite difficult. But strangely, once I dragged myself out of my evening stupor, I managed not only to cook dinner but make pudding too and now I feel quite refreshed. If only cooking dinner had that effect every evening....
In the last few days I've gone from weary British cynicism about the Olympic Games to feeling like a small child on Christmas Eve. DH and I both loved the opening ceremony yesterday (did it all make sense to those outside the UK?) and today I am happily watching the men's road race, trying to understand the tactics and rooting for Team GB.
I've realised that there have been quite a few additions to my bookshelves recently that I haven't commented on. I'm avoiding updating my books acquired ticker because I think the number will scare me!
The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier
Angel by Elizabeth Taylor (as you can see from the review above, I've read this one already)
From The Sensation Press
The Octoroon, or, The Lily of Louisiana by Mary Elizabeth Braddon for a future read with Liz
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Night Waking by Sarah Moss
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel joyce
The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde - also read but not reviewed
And then today, there was a kindle sale:
Half Blood Blues by Edi Edugyan
A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis (published as Kat Incorrigible in the US)
The Proof of Love by Catherine Hall
Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn
Bracelet of Bones by Kevin Crossley-Holland
The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (I've read this before but want my own copy)
My Cleaner by Maggie Gee
I have my eye on the following but haven't hit the magic button yet:
White Family by Maggie Gee
My Driver by Maggie Gee
The Summer School Mystery by Josephine Bell
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
The Self Illusion by Bruce Hood
Quirkology by Richard Wiseman
Hi Heather - I loved the opening ceremony. I hardly ever watch past the first 30 minutes, and I was riveted.
What a great haul of books! What are you going to read first?
Some great books in that haul, Heather - I'm drooling just a bit! We loved the opening ceremony - very well thought out and executed. It made complete sense to us.
That book that you were talking about in an earlier thread - The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde is finally going to be available here in the US in October, so I've got my eyes on it!
Heather, great lists! I see you've got one of the newly LL'd Booker nominees about to join your Kindle : ). I LOVED the opening ceremonies. Think UK did an oustanding job! And yes, it made perfect sense.
Heather, great lists! I see you've got one of the newly LL'd Booker nominees about to join your Kindle : ). I LOVED the opening ceremonies. Think UK did an outstanding job! And yes, it all made perfect sense.
I didn't watch the opening ceremonies, as I can't be bothered to turn on the tv these days, but saw some pics of it today and now wish I had watched it. Looks like it was lots of fun!
#171-173 Beth, Mamie and Nancy - I'm pleased you enjoyed and understood the opening ceremony. I realise my question could be misread - I didn't mean to question anyone's intelligence but there were parts of the ceremony which I would definitely have struggled to follow if the commentators hadn't been explaining what was going on. When I first saw Kenneth Branagh in his top hat my first thought was to wonder why Abraham Lincoln had turned up and I say that as someone who did a project on Isembard Kingdom Brunel when I was at primary school!
#171 "What are you going to read first?" Beth, that's what makes me feel slightly ashamed of my indulgence - I have so many library books coming my way this month and other planned reads that I don't think I will have time to read any of my new acquisitions for a while *looks sheepish*
#172 Hope you enjoy The Last Dragonslayer Mamie. It's strange that there's such a delay in the publication date but I think I read that Jasper Fforde will be touring in the US in the autumn so perhaps that's the reason.
#174 Yep, I snagged Harold Fry before the Booker longlist announcement was made. I've seen good reviews although I didn't get the impression it was the type of book to make the Booker longlist but I'm looking forward to it nevertheless.
#175 Ooops, cross posted. We rarely have the TV on but for some reason when the Olympics are on we become complete addicts. I don't think I watched the Beijing ceremony though, which everyone has raved about.
I don't know if you can view this youtube clip outside the UK but there was a brilliant section involving Queen Elizabeth II and Daniel Craig as James Bond which is a must-see in my opinion.
Loved what I saw of the opening ceremonies! I'm trying valiantly to read rather than watch everything. (I will definitely be watching a lot of gymnastics, swimming, diving, horse stuff, and maybe volley ball.)
I'm happy to see the Maggie Gees on your lists. You know that My Driver continues the story of the characters in My Cleaner, don't you? I haven't read *MD* yet, but I'll get to it soon. And The White Family is the one that was nominated for Orange, so it has to be good.....
Shoot. Your Kindle sales are so much better than our Kindle sales.
Shucks! No it isn't available for viewing here. Oh well, I guess I can find other videos on YouTube... there must be a huge amount of the available by now.
I saw The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry available on Audible when it came out on Tuesday and immediately put it on my wishlist, thinking I'd get it soon. Then when I saw it had been nominated, I got it right away, though from the sounds of it, it doesn't seem like the kind of book this particular jury would have picked. Though what do I know? Haven't listened to it yet. What sold me too was they said something like "if you loved Major Pettigrew and... (I forget the other, but something I did love), then this one's for you."
How do you manage to visit my blog immediately after I've posted? Do you get some kind of notification? It always makes my day by the way!
eta: fixed touchstone.
Heather your reaction to the opening ceremony for exactly the same as mine - two satiated cynics to be sure.
Loved your review of Angel as did all your other thread lodgers and, of course, given my own magpie sensibilities, revelled in your book haul/intended book haul.
As a previous racer I understand the tactics of the road race (didn't understand em enough to win many races though!) and was quite frustrated that it seemed to be a case of making sure Cavendish couldn't win by not helping to close the gap. Five riders in a team is not enough to control the race as it showed.
#170 - Hi Heather! I'm glad you're enjoying the Olympics. Does the influx of people have an impact on your life at all? Maybe you're far enough away. I'm not sure.
Nice book haul. I was so excited when I saw, "Kindle Sale," but then realized you're in the UK. By the way, I think you guys get way more sales than we do. Not fair! : )
I've got quirkology in pb if you want to borrow it.
From memory, I was quite disappointed - it's not as interesting as it should have been, and quite poorly written. I don't think I finished it.
That's not much of an encouragement to read it is it? The reviews are better so maybe I'm being too harsh.
#178 Hi Peggy "I'm trying valiantly to read rather than watch everything." - I know what you mean! I'm definitely watching the gymnastics later today and I also love the swimming, cycling and the athletics.
"Your Kindle sales are so much better than our Kindle sales." I was going to make a grass is always greener comment but then I found jo Walton's Among Others for £0.99 despite the fact that the UK publisher's website says the publication date is September this year.
I'm very tempted by the other Maggie Gee books...
#179 Hi Ilana. I still haven't read Major Pettigrew and I really should because it sounds lovely. I need to borrow my Mum's copy.
I don't think I'm stalking you but I happened to be catching up on blogs on google reader when you posted so I dropped by :-)
#181 Hi Paul. Yes, the result for the men's race was disappointing for the British team. I found the ladies' race much more gripping to watch and I don't think that was just because we got a medal for that one! I'm looking forward to the time trials tomorrow and then the track cycling whenever that starts.
#182 Hi Kerri. I live fairly close to London and travel towards London to get to work so we weren't sure how much things would be disrupted by the Olympics but it's been fine so far. I've been bringing my laptop home so I could work from home just in case the trains are a nightmare but so far so good.
#183 Thanks Jo - I might take you up on that offer. I was hoping Quirkology might be something like Bad Science or Freakonomics but it sounds like it's not really as good as either of those.
More July reads
Some very brief comments in an attempt to get caught up...
#105 Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot - 4 stars - What's not to love?
#106 Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens - 4.3 stars - Not my favourite Dickens but somewhere near the top of my list. This was Dickens' last completed novel and the themes and characters are more mature than his earlier works.
#107 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - 5 stars - Such a lovely book. I might try to write a more detailed review later.
#108 River Boy by Tim Bowler - 3.8 stars - This won the Carnegie Medal in 1997 and I think it deserves to be more well known. Like this year's winner, A Monster Calls it's the story of a teenager struggling to come to terms with grief and death. Deceptively simple writing but a powerful story.
#109 The Man Who Would Be King by Rudyard Kipling - 3.4 stars - A bit of a cheat to count this as it's really a short story rather than a novel. A colonial tale from Rudyard Kipling of two men who decide they could set themselves up as rulers of a small region in Afghanistan. It's been made into a film starring Michael Caine and Sean Connery which I'd now like to watch.
#110 The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde - 3.7 stars - The latest Thursday Next book. I think this series has lost some of it sparkle over the last few books but they're still good fun.
#111 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - 4.1 stars - Adichie's Orange Prize winning novel about the Nigerian-Biafran Civil War in the 1960s. I think I preferred her first novel, Purple Hibiscus but this was still an excellent read.
#112 The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale - 3.8 stars - Kate Summerscale's detailed account of the Road Hill murder in 1860 was an interesting read. I appreciated learning more about the way the police detectives of the time worked and the affect this case had on the public and on Victorian authors such as Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon.
#113 Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
#114 The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann - I'm still turning these two over in my mind. Hopefully reviews to follow.
I've just realised that I've read 75 books off my shelves this year!
Hi Heather, great pics from the wedding. Looks beautiful! I may have missed it but I've got to ask, was the food multicultural as well? The music?
I'm an olympichalic. I thought the opening ceremony's were outstanding. Aside from that I particularly enjoyed the cycling event through Englands scenic areas. Medieval stories like Ivanhoe and King Arthur come to mind as I view it.
Congrats for reading 75 books off your shelf. I bet it hardly left a dent :0)
Wow, you're doing great with your reading! 75 off your shelves -- that's impressive.
Hi Heather - Congrats on 75 off your shelves. I loved Purple Hibiscus and haven't yet read Half of a Yellow Sun. I hope to get to it in August. I also thought the Summerscale book was interesting. The Eliot and Bowler look interesting... I like your brief comments. You capture the key points very well. Good idea.
Wonderful! 75 of your own!!! (Everything that I read is my own, but since I buy or swap faster than I read, that's no big thing. For example, I just signed up for a copy of The Suspicions of Mr Whicher at PBS. Thanks, Heather!)
75 off the shelf is AMAZING! Love the mini reviews - I might steal that as I am currently three reviews behind and tomorrow is a new month. Alway like to start with a clean slate. Anyway, I like the idea of starting with a clean slate!
I still need to get to Half of a Yellow Sun - I have read the first few chapters, but I really need to just dive in. I quite like the writing, though, so I will definitely add Purple Hibiscus to the WL. And short stories - checking into that as well.
Hope today is going well for you.
Oh, I've got The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher lined up to read soon, so thanks for the mini-review. Just enough to whet the appetite without giving away too much!
I agree with you entirely about the opening ceremony. I approached it with a feeling of trepidation, knowing it was likely to be bonkers and just hoping we wouldn't come out of it looking ridiculous, but I ended up jumping up and down on the sofa and beaming with pride! I loved it all, but of course, the section with the queen was the absolute highlight! I do think quite a lot of it was aimed at the home audience - for example that in-joke of the famous weather report by Michael Fish that totally failed to predict the massive storm, plus lots of other little touches I noticed at the time.
We've had the Olympics on pretty much non-stop since then, as I have to root for team Hungary as well as team GB (the not normally at all nationalistic Hungarian in my household insists) , which means watching lots of obscure (to the BBC) sports such as waterpolo, handball and kayaking. Brilliantly, even if they're not showing these sports in the TV, you can watch them on the BBC website.
I also have The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and hope to read it this year. Thanks for the review!
Wow. A lot of books just popped up here. I too liked The Martian Chronicles although it was an uneven bag of stories. Some very good, others not good at all.
Glad you liked Gilead - I'm waiting for a used copy and hope to read it soon.
Reading your review on the Jane Austen book made me want to start an Austen-reread - although I did the Austenathon last year:) and of course: None above Pride and Prejudice - what are they talking about?
Belated congrats Heather for being able to read 75 books off your shelf!! What an enviable achievement. :)
#187 Hi Luci. yes, I've got my eye on her short story collection - think I even downloaded the sample a while ago and enjoyed it. Did I hear she has a new novel coming out next year?
#188 - 201 Thanks Kerry, calm, Liz, Lynda, Laura, Beth, Peggy, Lucy, Nancy, Mamie and Valerie for the congratulations! I wish I could say that I had bought less than 75 books this year - I think I'm over that total by about 12 books which is not too bad but it's still not making my TBR piles smaller!
#191 Lynda, the food wasn't particularly multicultural although we do seem to have adopted a lot of food from other cultures into British food (although I'm not sure how much of it is really authentic foreign food - a Chinese girl I knew was so shocked when we took her to Chinese restaurant once). There were samosas after the service as finger food but the main meal was roast beef and yorkshire pudding followed by apple crumble which is about as British as you can get I suppose. I know the Indian friends said they found it very bland. They promised that they would only cook me mild food if we ever went to visit them but I'm not sure their idea of 'mild' would match mine!
I thought the village the cycling race went through might have been chosen especially because it would look so quintessentially English when broadcast to the world! :-) It did look lovely. I wish they'd had more crowd barriers up though - I was almost shouting at some of the spectators who stepped into the road to take pictures.
#198 Hi Hanna. I'd forgotten about the Michael Fish clip - I loved that too! The BBC have
#200 Hi Carsten. "Reading your review on the Jane Austen book made me want to start an Austen-reread" Reading any Jane Austen related book makes me want to do an Austen reread :-) I only reread them all last year!
Heather, I'm super impressed with you having read 75 from your shelves. Maybe that's the goal I should set myself in 2013 considering how much I've added to said shelves in the past couple of years since I joined this group.
I'm upset with myself for not making a point of watching the gymnastics which really are my favourite event. Swimming too, but the former are really my "thing". Also running maybe? Have yet to switch on the tv, though I did watch A Man for All Seasons last night (the 1966 Oscar winner). Excellent and gave me plenty of food for thought after reading Wolf Hall.
It had not even occurred to me that you might be a stalker, and truth be told, I've always terribly honoured and pleased whenever people have been frequent visitors on any of my online ventures. The more visits the better, I say. Mind you, I haven't taken the blogs as seriously since I joined this group and always mean to post more content, if only new and improved versions of my reviews. Another goal for 2013 mebbe.
Hope you're well m'dear!
Hi Heather, I suppose you are busy watching Olympic events rather than reading. Anyway congratulations on reading 75 of your books and you've drawn my notice to the latest Thursday Next so I'll have to put in a request for that at some stage.
I have the latest Ben Aaronovitch home from the library and hope to get to it in a couple of days.
Hi Heather, I'm adding my congratulations for reading 75 off your shelf. I have a goal this year of reading 110 books off my shelves, and have managed to read 65 so far. Of course, I've probably added another 100 or so during the year so my shelves still looked overstuffed and messy!
Hi, Heather! You returned just as I headed off to the Midwest, but I'm back home and last and catching up. Congrats on 75 off your own shelf--that's amazing!
>202 I'm laughing about what constitutes ethnic food. My Indian friends cooked a meal to which I was invited and were at great pains to say, "This is not hot. This one is not hot." It was ALL HOT!!!!
And my traveling friend, just back last year from around the world says that the worst food they had was in China. They had nothing like General Tso chicken or any of the other standard delicacies that we look forward to when we eat Chinese. Another illusion shattered.
And now I have to go count how many books I've bought or swapped so far this year. Bummer!
Yah, I can personally attest to the fact that Asian food you eat in the restaurant is not the kind of food we eat at home. Personally I prefer the stuff we eat at home but every once in awhile, that sweet and sour pork calls to me. :)
I'm so sorry that I haven't posted in awhile. I just saw the post regarding Toby. How sad it is when we lose a beloved post. The photos are so sweet.
Hi Heather - congrats on the 75 off the shelf and glad to hear that the Olympics aren't cramping your style too much.
So I suppose I'll have to read both Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun next year. People seem to love both.
I look forward to a review of Gilead. I wasn't familiar with it, but am impressed by your 5 star rating. Wish list then.
#203 Hi Ilana - the gymnastics is one of my favourite events too. Although the team events are over now, there's still the individual finals this week so there's still time to catch it. I'm always awed by their strength and control.
I hadn't heard of A Man for All Seasons but when I looked it up on imdb I saw it was about Thomas More so I've added it to my watchlist. 6 Oscars - wow!
"It had not even occurred to me that you might be a stalker" That's good - my cover hasn't been blown *phew*
#204 Hi Kerry. "I suppose you are busy watching Olympic events rather than reading." I am finding the Olympics quite addictive and Team GB had such a good day yesterday!
#205 110 off the shelves is a good goal Judy. I put 150 as my goal on my ticker but I think that's quite ambitious now...
#206 Thanks Roni!
#207 "My Indian friends cooked a meal to which I was invited and were at great pains to say, "This is not hot. This one is not hot." It was ALL HOT!!!!" Peggy - that was exactly my husbands experience when he visited these friends in India and he likes British spicy food!
#208 My Chinese friend did cook me a 'real' Chinese meal for comparison Valerie and it was very tasty but nothing like the Chinese food I get as a takeaway.
#209 Thanks Linda - please do not worry about posting. You have more than enough on your plate at the moment.
#210 Thanks Kerri - hopefully a review of Gilead coming up today.
Book #107 Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - 5 stars
Source: Charity bookshop
Original publication date: 2004
Category: Orange Prize
"For me, writing has always felt like praying, even when I wasn't writing prayers, as I was often enough. You feel that you are with someone. I feel I am with you now, whatever that can mean, considering that you're only a little fellow now and when you're a man you might find these letters of no interest. Or they might never reach you for any number of reasons. Well, but how deeply I regret any sadness you have suffered and how grateful I am in anticipation of any good you have enjoyed. That is to say, I pray for you. And there's an intimacy in it. That's the truth."
In 1956 the Reverend John Ames of Gilead, Iowa sits down to write a letter to his seven year old son. He's an old man with a young wife and child and he's just been told by his doctors that he has a serious heart condition and may not have much longer to live. Gilead is his letter to his son; it's about Ames' life in Gilead, his relationships with his father and grandfather, the early death of his first wife and daughter, his time spent alone as a minister and his troubled relationship with his friend's son, his namesake John Ames (Jack) Broughton. Although written by a man who has lived most of his live in a small town in American, Robinson also touches on the wider events of the American Civil War in which Ames' grandfather was involved as well as race relations in the 1950s through the story of Jack Broughton.
This is not a book to try and force yourself to read; my copy has sat unread on my shelves for the best part of two years but even though I loved it when I eventually read it, I still feel that I needed to wait until it was the right time to read it. It's a slow and reflective book, one to read in a contemplative mood. It's a love letter from a father to his son and it's wonderful.
"I'm writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you."
wow 75 off your own shelf this year, that's great! I've been terrible with reading off my own shelves this year
Heather, that is a fabulous review of Gilead. The quotations are SO powerful. Happy thumb from me!
Just loved your wonderful review of Gilead - thumb from me. Adding it to the WL, but I will remember what you say about making sure I am in the right mood for it. Thanks, Heather!
Heather - Great review of Gilead. You captured the power of the book very well.
I very much enjoyed Gilead too. I am glad to see the book has found another fan!
What a good review of Gilead - so right what you say about needing to read a book at the right time.
That's a great review of Gilead Heather. You get a well-deserved thumb from me.
#213 Thanks Chelle. You've had quite a lot of other life stuff to deal with this year. Perhaps next year can be your year for reading off the shelf...
#214 - 220 Thanks Nancy, Laura, Mamie, Beth, Stasia, Lucy and Ilana for the thumbs and Gilead appreciation! I actually got rather teary writing those quotes out again for my review. I'm hoping to buy and read Home later this year.
Congrats on 75 books off your shelves, Heather. That is impressive!
I've had Gilead on my shelf for a few years now, waiting for the right moment but I'm sure it will come eventually!
I was interested to hear that both you and Luci preferred Purple Hisbiscus to Half of a Yellow Sun. I loved Half of a Yellow Sun but had been slightly been put off reading Hisbiscus by hearing (can't remember where) that it was not as good and too obviously a first novel.
Looking forward to your thoughts on Lehmann!
Books #113 & 114 Invitation to the Waltz and The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann - 4 stars
Source: Virago group member and Bookmooch
Original publication date: 1932 and 1936
Category: Virago Modern Classics
I've put off writing my thoughts down for these two books because I've been waiting for inspiration to strike.... It hasn't, but I'm going to try and make some sense of my tangled thoughts about these books.
The first, Invitation to the Waltz was written in 1932 but set in 1920s England just after the end of WWI. Olivia Curtis has just turned 17 and is about to attend her first dance with her older, and prettier, sister Kate. Lehmann beautifully captures Olivia's teenage hopes and fears in the week leading up to the dance and at the dance itself. Lehmann's writing style is difficult to describe - it reminded me of the stream of consciousness style which I sometimes struggle with but I thought worked well here capturing the characters and feel of the dance.
The second book, The Weather in the Streets, was written in 1936 and set in 1930. Olivia Curtis is 10 years older, possibly wiser, certainly more cynical. Since we last saw her in Invitation to the Waltz she's been married and separated from her husband. In The Weather in the Streets, Olivia has to deal with the reactions of family and friends to her failed marriage as well as falling in love with and having an affair with a married man - not for nothing does Carmen Callil say that 'The Weather in the Streets was our Bridget Jones' Diary'.
The Weather in the Streets was the longer of the two books and at times I struggled with Lehmann's writing style but based on Callil's introduction this was an enormously important book to women in the 1930s
#222 Hi Dee! Are you home now? I found Purple Hibiscus engaged me more emotionally than Half of a Yellow Sun did although that might just have been the mood I was in whilst reading it.
Thoughts on the Lehmann books are up. She's definitely an author I'd like to explore more - I still don't quite feel that I've got the hang of her writing style.
#224 Thanks Joe :-)
#212 - Great review, Heather! It's already on my wishlist from your brief comment earlier.
#223: Adding both of those to the BlackHole. Thanks for the reviews, Heather!
#226 I hope you enjoy The Weather in the Streets Rhian
#227 Thanks Kerri!
#228 Thanks Lucy - hope you enjoy your rereads.
#229 Thanks Stasia - hope you enjoy them (although I know the Black Hole is large...)
#230 Thanks Peggy - a treat when the time is right sounds about right to me. I don't know if I'll read Home straight away, I don't want to rush it, but I'd like to get a copy so it's there.
#231 Hi Ilana All is well thank you :-) I was out two evenings this week and didn't have get too tired as a result!
Some books read in August so far:
Book #115 The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell - 3.4 stars
Original publication date: 1995
This is the first book in Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian trilogy - Cornwell's version of the Arthurian legend is set in 5th century AD Britain, in the power vacuum created after the Romans left where the British kings fight amongst themselves under the threat of Saxon invasion and amidst the tensions caused by those who follow the new Christian religion and those who want Britain to follow the old gods. Arthur is not a king in this version but a warlord fighting to unite the Britons. This is a bloody and flawed Arthur, not quite an anti-hero but not the pure knight he is sometimes depicted as. My only problem with this book was that it had quite a slow start and felt too long but the second half was much better and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy and finding out where Cornwell takes his ideas.
Book #116 Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy L. Sayers - 4.2 stars
Original publication date: 1933
One of my favourite books in the Lord Peter Wimsey series so far - I think it's probably only not my absolute favourite because it doesn't feature the delightful Miss Climpson.
In Murder Must Advertise we find Lord Peter Death Bredon Wimsey working as a copy-writer for the London advertising firm of Pym's. This is a bit of a departure for our amateur detective but we soon find out that he is working undercover at Pym's, using the name Death Bredon, to investigate the death of a former member of staff who was recently found dead at the bottom of the spiral staircase in the office. As you might guess, this death does eventually prove not to be accidental, but I felt the investigation in this story was only of secondary interest; I was much more wrapped up in Sayers' descriptions of life in an advertising office in the 1930s (worryingly not very different from life in an office in the 21st century) and the 'bright young things' who are mixed up in the cocaine-smuggling that Lord Peter's friend Inspector Parker is trying to investigate.
Sayers also explores the theme of class distinctions again in this book - I've spent some time trying to write about this but I don't seem to be able to get my thoughts in order. The way she explores this theme was interesting and I was quite hopeful at the beginning but I still felt like this was explored from the point of view of someone who wasn't lower class and who really didn't get why people who were lower class were bothered by it so much. Slightly frustrating.
Abandoned book Flashforward by Robert J. Sawyer - 1 star (based on the first 20 pages)
Original publication date: 1999
I was supposed to read this for my F2F reading group but I found the writing so clunky that I couldn't get past page 20. Other people in the group agreed that the writing was pretty bad but foudn the idea behind the story made up for that. It's not due back at the library for a while so I might try again but I'm really not sure I can be bothered.
Some examples of the writing which made me go 'aaargh':
"The control building for CERN's Large Hadron Collider was new: it had been authorised in A.D. 2004 and completed in 2006. The building enclosed a central courtyard, inevitably named 'the nucleus'. Every office had a window either facing in toward the nucleus or out toward the rest of CERN's sprawling campus. The quadrangle surrounding the nucleus was two stories tall, but the main elevators had four stops: the two above-ground levels, the basement, which housed boiler rooms and storage; and the minus-one-hundred-meter level, which exited onto a staging area for the monorail used to travel along the twenty-seven kilometer circumference of the collider tunnel. The tunnel itself ran under farmers' fields, the outskirts of the Geneva airport, and the foothills of the Jura mountains."
Anyone still awake? I didn't read far enough to find out why such a detailed description of the CERN control building was required. Another gem:
"Particle physicists weren't know for their sartorial splendor, and Lloyd had until recently been no exception. But he'd agreed a few months ago to donate his entire wardrobe to the Geneva chapter of the Salvation Army, and let his fiancée pick out all-new things for him. Truth be told, the clothes were a little flashy for his taste, but he had to admit that he'd never looked so sharp. Today he was wearing a beige dress shirt, a coral colored jacket; brown pants with exterior pouches instead of interior pockets; and - in a nod to fashion tradition - black Italian leather shoes. Lloyd had also adopted a couple of universal status symbols that also happened to be bits of local color: a Mont Blanc fountain pen, which he kept clipped to his jacket's inside pocket, and a gold Swiss analog watch."
Heather - You've done some good reading, and from the above quotes, exercised good judgment in stopping reading. I love Peter Wimsey, but I understand what you mean about the class issue; Sayers doesn't get it. The Cornwell sounds interesting. I love Arthurian stories.
Heather - You've been busy!! Some very nice reviews here - the Lehmann's sound interesting. I have not read any Dorothy Sayer, but I hope to correct that in the near future. And it seems that you have made a wise choice in abandoning the Flashforward book. YIKES, those quotes were scary.
Hope all is well with you, please pet the kitty for me if you see her in passing.
I still haven't read any Sawyer due to descriptions of his writing--you ain't the only one!
ZZZzzz whoops! Sorry Heather, I was reading your Sawyer quote and kind of dozed off!
I love my classic mysteries and Sayers is one of my favorites, even though she has given me some cringe moments. I am just starting a Joesphine Tey, A Shilling For Candles, she is another author I enjoy reading.
#233 Hi Beth! I think the Cornwell's a very interesting take on the Arthur legend - from what I've seen of the reviews for the other books in the series, the next book doesn't have the slow start of the first book so I'm looking forward to it even more.
#234 - 236 Thansk Roni, Mamie and Judy. I do have another Sawyer in my TBR pile (WWW.Wake) and when I gave up on Flashforward I read the first page of Wake to see if it was the same kind of writing and it seemed much better so I've left that one in my TBR pile for now. WWW.Wake was published 10 years after Flashforward - maybe he got better?
I've read a few of Sawyer's books and must admit that I also couldn't get into Flashforward which I tried to read a couple of years ago when I knew that Joseph Fiennes was going to be in the tv series. I liked the ideas in the first Wake book and read the entire trilogy. He does like bringing up the Canada/USA divide in his work too, I noticed this first in Mindscan.
I plan on reading the Cornwall books too, just not enough reading hours in my day.
I own the Cornwell trilogy but still have not get it read. *sigh* One of these days. . .
I really look forward to getting to Murder Must Advertise, but I've yet to get to book 2 in the series, Clouds of Witness, which is sitting in my tbr... so it might be a while yet! I don't think I'll bother with Sawyer. I quite like being able to cross out an author altogether once in a while—makes more room for the others! :-)
*MMA* is one of my very favorite Wimseys too! I don't object to the class business so much as I do to the Harlequin business. I guess that I agree to let DLS be what she is, but she doesn't quite bring off the Bright Young Thing as so dopey that she falls for the Harlequin. I'm looking forward to a reread to see what I actually do think. I know I'll be all caught up in Whiffling!
And it's been so long since I read my only Sawyer, Hominids, that I don't remember the tedious writing. Oh dear. Oh dear.
I'm a great Cornwell fan from way back, but suspect that I won't get to his Arthurian ones. Sharpe and sailing for me!
#232: I like the sound of the Arthurian trilogy, but is it horribly bloodthirsty? I tend to find that men write far more violence into their stories than women (although I know that's a generalisation) and I'm not a huge fan of that. I read Helen Hollick's King Arthur books a few years ago and really enjoyed them.
Hi Heather! Just swinging by your neck of the woods as I attempt to catch up with everyone. :) Great books and great reviews!
Hi! So much catching up to do!
I have been MIA for the past two or so weeks. Things have been mind numbingly busy! My eyes are constantly burning with lack of sleep. Luckily, in just two days time I'll be taking a much needed break from what has proven to be a most trying time.
I've read only one Sayers, Clouds of Witness and I can't say I liked it very much. I just didn't care for Lord Peter Wimsey's (or more correctly Syaers') attitude.
#238 Wake did look more interesting (and better written) from a quick read of the first few paragraphs. As I already have it I will try it one day.
#238 & 239 I know the feeling!
#240 I think people at my book group did mention some problems with the ending. I've decided it's going back to the library unread - life's too short and the world contains too many other books I want to read!
I'm ashamed to say I've never read 2001, nor have I made it past the first 30 minutes of the film...
#241 I've really enjoyed all the Sayers I've read so far with the possible exception of Five Red Herrings which I only enjoyed a bit - it's a train timetable detective story and it made my head hurt :-(
"I quite like being able to cross out an author altogether once in a while." I know what you mean - there's a sense of relief at knowing those books are never going to add to the towering piles of unread books isn't there?
#242 Peggy, I loved the whiffling! The harlequin thing was a bit strange but not too bad for me. For some reason I was able to credit Dian with as much stupidity as Sayers gave her.
Re Sawyer, didn't Hominids win quite a few prizes? Perhaps it's his best work?
#243 I didn't find it the violence and bloodthirstiness too bad although I'd have preferred less of it. It wasn't as bad as A Game of Thrones but it was worse than Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave and sequels. Cornwell is fairly matter of fact about it, doesn't revel in it but there are battles and people are disemboweled during them. I think there's mention of torture and rape but it happens off the page (if that makes sense).
"I tend to find that men write far more violence into their stories than women (although I know that's a generalisation)" It is a generalisation but I'm struggling to think of any counter-examples so...
#244 Thanks Valerie - lovely to see you :-)
#245 Welcome back Porua. I hope you enjoy your break - it sounds like you need it. If you decide to continue with the Sayers books we do come to understand more about Lord Peter Wimsey and his background but I don't think the class issues ever go away entirely. I can enjoy her books despite that but that niggle stops me from wholeheartedly loving them.
I wouldn't bother with 2001. Haven't seen the film through so that might be better
Heather, I've missed so much during my prolonged though unintended absence from the threads. So much to comment on from the past three months - first, my belated sympathy on the loss of your family dog - he looks lovely from the photos. And I'm glad you enjoyed the family wedding in the end - it's a shame these occasions mean so much stress before-hand often. I must admit I've never been too bothered about what I wear to friends weddings, I'm sure the same outfit came out time and time again - I was always too disorganised to even think about new outfits in advance, and only had my panic moment on the morning of the wedding when it was too late to do anything other than dig out the same old dress and hope it still fits! But the multicultural colour and variety on your recent occasion looks splendid.
Olympics - I was another pre-Olympic cynic who really enjoyed the opening ceremony. Didn't watch much of the games themselves, partly because I've been away without a TV for much of it, partly because I usually turn off TV as soon as any sport comes on - but there is something quite captivating about watching these less-frequently broadcast events, and I did find myself unexpectedly hooked at times. And I've enjoyed the atmosphere of stunned happiness at how well Team GB did, and the positive vibes about the whole thing. Lots of friends got tickets to see various events - it never would have occurred to me to even apply for tickets, I'd assumed they were not for the likes of me, too hard to get and only for keen sport followers. But the enthusiastic Facebook posts from friends who've been actually had me looking at the Paralympics site to see if it was still possible to get tickets for any of that. (Then I realised it was not possible for me to even think of going due to the timing and clash with being away again or with events at work, but it shows what a turn around in attitude I've had if I could even think of wanting to go!).
On Bernard Cornwell - I started reading The Winter King about 8 years ago, but didn't get beyond about 100 pages. I did find it hard to get into, sounds like I should have persevered a bit further if you say that it had a slow start but got better. I do generally like Arthurian stories that depict the probably more authentic 5th century warlord, so I should have got on with it ok, but it didn't grab me at once in the way Mary Stewart's or Rosemary Sutcliff's did.
On Lehmann, I've read those two this year also, I like your description of her kind-of stream-of-consciousness style, which I enjoyed. The books have such a different feel about them though, don't they - I guess this is partly simply because she is accurately portraying the very different states of mind of a naive, sensitive girl and her much more cynical though still vulnerable older self. From The weather in the streets what particularly stays in my mind is the passages describing her wandering round London in the oppressive summer heat struggling with her situation while the city is empty of nearly everyone she knows.
On Sayers - she writes from her own experience of course with the advertising agency setting - having worked for 9 years as a copywriter herself (you probably knew that). It's a while since I read Murder must advertise, it's due up soon on the re-read, so I can't remember exactly how she deals with it there, but the class thing in Sayers is interesting. Bringing Harriet Vane into the series, who is among other things very alert to the class difference between her and Lord Peter, gives her one way of addressing some of the issues - Vane being middle class like Sayers herself and very conscious of (and both proud of and sensitive about) her status as one who has to earn her own living unlike Lord Peter. But she and Lord Peter meet as equals intellectually and in terms of education; I think what comes across occasionally in Sayers is a rather dismissive or snobbish attitude towards those who are less intelligent or those who have not had the fortune to be educated to that same extent.
The Talking of Jane Austen book - what a lovely find that edition is! Sounds an interesting read too.
I've just picked up A pin to see the peepshow among a pile of 8 original green VMCs I found in a second hand shop in Llangollen. I hadn't heard of it at all before. Sounds interesting.
On Gilead - those quotations make me want to get back to it. I started reading last summer, and was absolutely loving it, but wanting a more reflective space than I had for reading it (I started it while attending Greenbelt - too many other sources of stimulation and reflection going on). So it has been sitting, half-read, for a year on my shelves waiting for me to find the right moment to complete it. By now I feel I shall want to go back and start again at the beginning. I did bring it with me on my current holiday, but as today is my last full day and I haven't yet started it, I suspect it will not happen on this trip. Like some people's threads (including this one), this is neglected not because I don't want to read it but because I want enough time to savour it and do it justice!
I'm sure there are other things I wanted to comment on, but this post is quite long enough!
#232 - Hi Heather - Sorry this was so dreadful! While I've never read any of his novels, it's funny, because I was just listening to an introduction he wrote for Rendezvous with Rama and some of the things he said made me want to avoid his own writing, although I do believe I have one or two of his novels on my wishlist.
Oh clunky writing, the pits. What I don't get is how they get published!
Oof, we're having a mini-heatwave in the south east of England and it's too hot to do anything. Yesterday some friends came to visit with their 15 month old little boy which was lovely although we did end up going to the children's play area at the local park at 3pm to try and keep him entertained - he didn't seem at all bothered by the heat but I think the four perspiring adults trailing after him disagreed! I was going to write some reviews but I think that's going to require far too much brain for this sort of weather...
#247 Hmm, I might try 2001 one day - it just feels like one of those books that's so well known that I ought to a least try it... Anyway, I have Clarke's A Fall of Moondust to read first.
#248 Genny! :-)
Re The Winter King, I think it definitely picked up after the first 200 pages but I think I definitely prefer Mary Stewart's version so far. I might have been less inclined to persevere with the Cornwell if I hadn't bought the whole trilogy and knowing that calm in particular had enjoyed it so much made me think that it must get going eventually.... I haven't read Sutcliff's retelling of the Arthurian legend although I'd very much like to. I've got quite a few of her other books to read first.
"From The weather in the streets what particularly stays in my mind is the passages describing her wandering round London in the oppressive summer heat struggling with her situation while the city is empty of nearly everyone she knows." Oh yes, very well put.
"I think what comes across occasionally in Sayers is a rather dismissive or snobbish attitude towards those who are less intelligent or those who have not had the fortune to be educated to that same extent." Yes, the subject of education was covered quite a lot in MMA and I think it was Lord Peter's (and I presume Sayers') dismissiveness towards those who hadn't had a public school and university education which grated on me a little bit.
I think Gilead is definitely a book that needs to be savoured - the good thing about books is that they'll always wait patiently for us :-)
#249 Thanks Kerri.
#250 I don't know Lucy. I guess people either don't mind clunky writing or disagree about whether the writing is clunky or not.
Glad you liked The Winter King as much as you did, Heather. It's not only my favorite of all the Arthurian books out there (that I've read), but I think it is my favorite Cornwell ever.
Sorry you are suffering with the heat. Just exactly hot hot was/is it? Was/is it hot like UK hot or hot like mid-west USA hot?
Haven't read any of the Arthurian books by Bernard Cornwell, Mary Stewart or MK Hume but I have the books by the latter two on the shelves.
Must admit historical fiction is quite often clunky which is distressing when you consider that the plot is already written for them!
Charlotte UK hot?! You mean cool?
Read Sutcliffe! Definitely, read Sutcliffe!!!
I'm being gobsmacked by the fact that Genny just "picked up" an original green A Pin to See the Peepshow. Some of us simply live on the wrong continent!
And, yes, Hominids did win the Hugo. That's probably the reason that I read it.
Like Charlotte, I wonder how hot "hot" is, but I'm sorry that it's so miserable.
#256 Peggy, it was in a second-hand bookshop in Llangollen. It seemed to stock quite a bit of remaindered stock - certainly they had a lot of VMCs with multiple copies (though I think mine was the only copy of A Pin to See. I bought eight original greens - I could have bought many more - most of them ones I have not heard of (and hope that the fact that they were available in multiple copies isn't a sign that they are not so much worth having!). They were quite expensive for used books (mostly £5 each) but the shop had a 50% off everything sale going on which made them much more affordable. If I'd had longer there I could have sent out messages to see if any VMC group members were interested in anything there. I shall have to have a return visit there next year!
Heather, sorry you're suffering with the (relative) heat. I don't know how hot it was where Heather is, though I heard mention of one or two places over the weekend reaching up to 30degrees. We had up to about 25 up here in the north, which would be lovely without the humidity. It's gone cool again up here, and rainy, but it was very oppressive and sticky on Saturday (one more factor while I was doing all those weddings, as I have to wear a heavy long embroidered robe, which looks fine but is a little too much in this rare summer heat).
#255 - exactly Paul. UK hot - my ideal hot. I am not made for temperatures above 78 degrees.
#252 Valerie, I'm glad you enjoyed those two - I think it's definitely a series I would like to read one day and make up my own mind about. I was talking to my husband about the film yesterday (neither of us have got past the first 30 mins) and realised that it was released the year before the moon landings which made it seem potentially a lot more significant.
#253 Liz, we were discussing that too as I'd never realised that before. And the film was based on some of Clarke's earlier short stories - it all starts to seem very circular!
#254 Glad to hear you're a fan of this series Charlotte. How did you feel about the second and third books compared to the first?
It was hot like UK hot - 28C or 82F ('cool' by Paul's definition!). I'm happiest around the 20C mark, I can cope up to 25C and above that I am very grumpy. Strangely, I think I'm slightly better at coping with heat when I'm abroad, perhaps because I think of those places as hot and adapt my behaviour whereas I don't think of the UK like that and feel cross that I can't carry on as normal? Although it's been a while since I travelled anywhere hot so perhaps I'm just getting more grumpy as I get older!
#255 Paul, I hadn't heard of MK Hume before - I've had a look at some of her books and they look like an interesting series to try but I couldn't read Arthurian sagas back to back.
"UK hot?! You mean cool?" But, but, we don't have air conditioning everywhere....
#256 "Read Sutcliffe! Definitely, read Sutcliffe!!!" I will! (But so many books to read)
Peggy, you might be even more gobsmacked to hear I picked mine up for £1 in the local charity bookshop. They don't often have Viragoes, but when they do I clear them out. If I see another one I'll send it to you to make up for living on the wrong continent. Too hot and more difficult to find Viragoes - you have my sympathies! :-)
#257 Not quite 30C here, although I think London and Cambridge did reach those temperatures. Thankfully it looks like we're back down to 20C for the rest of the week - perfect.
#258 " am not made for temperatures above 78 degrees." Me too, definitely. When other people dream of moving somewhere hot and sunny, I dream of Scotland or Scandinavia!
Now, I'm girding my loins to create a new thread and try and do some book reviews....
This topic was continued by souloftherose's 2012 reading journal - part five - August to Autumn.
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