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souloftherose's 2012 reading journal - part five - August to Autumn

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Edited: Oct 30, 2012, 4:21am Top

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 Rudyard 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)
#125 Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes by Mollie Panter-Downes (TBR)
#126 A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis (TBR)
#127 In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#128 The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (TBR)
#129 Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (Reread)
#130 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Library)


#131 The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (TBR)
#132 The New World by Patrick Ness (Free kindle)
#133 The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones (TBR)
#134 Dear Enemy by Jean Webster Free kindle
#135 Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (TBR)
#136 Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham (TBR)
DNF A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (TBR)
#137 Smashing Saxons by Terry Deary (TBR)
#138 Dodger by Terry Pratchett (TBR)
#139 Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell (TBR)
#140 The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham (TBR)
#141 Summer Lightning by P. G. Wodehouse (Reread)
#142 The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff (TBR)
#143 A Long Walk to Wimbledon by H. R. F. Keating (TBR)
#144 The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle (Reread)
#145 The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber (TBR)


#146 Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith (Reread)
#147 His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle (Reread)
#148 A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs Free kindle
#149 Momo by Michael Ende (TBR)
#150 Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005 by Phil Baines (Library)
#151 My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin (TBR)
#152 The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (TBR)
#153 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (TBR)
#154 Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natasha Walter (TBR)
#155 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Library)
#156 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman (Library)
#157 Cranford and Other Stories by Elizabeth Gaskell (TBR)
#158 The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts (TBR)
#159 Love, Sex, Death and Words: Surprising Tales From a Year in Literature by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender (TBR)

Edited: Oct 30, 2012, 4:24am Top

My never-ending quest to try and reduce the size of my TBR pile, so far I'm doing better than last year but the TBR pile is still not getting any smaller.

Books acquired in 2012:

#1 River Boy by Tim Bowler (Kindle sale) READ
#2 At Mrs Lippincote's by Elizabeth Taylor (Book depository) READ
#3 Palladian by Elizabeth Taylor (Amazon) READ
#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)
#8 The Secret River by Kate Grenville (Kindle daily deal) READ

#9 The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey (Kindle daily deal) READ
#10 A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (Kindle) READ
#11 Room by Emma Donoghue (Kindle) READ
#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)
#16 Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill (Kindle daily deal) READ
#17 A View of the Harbour by Elizabeth Taylor (Waterstones.com) READ

#18 Timeless by Gail Carriger (Kindle) READ
#19 Gillespie and I by Jane Harris (Kindle) READ
#20 The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (Charity bookshop) READ
#21 Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (Charity bookshop)
#22 Troubles by J. G. Farrell (Kindle) READ
#23 On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (Kindle daily deal) READ

#24 A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor (Waterstones.com) READ
#25 Revelation by C. J. Sansom (Waterstones.com) READ
#26 The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (Waterstones.com) READ
#27 The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (Kindle sale) READ
#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)
#31 Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (Kindle sale) READ
#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)
#42 Talking of Jane Austen by Sheila Kaye-Smith and G. B. Stern (Cobbles Bookshop, Dunster) READ
#43 Mrs Robinson's Disgrace by Kate Summerscale (Waterstones for review) READ
#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) READ
#47 Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel (Waterstones.com) READ
#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)
#55 The Trail of the Serpent by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (Abebooks) READ
#56 The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale (Bookmooch) READ

#57 The Library Book by Alan Bennett et al (Kindle sale) READ
#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)
#62 The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (Waterstones.com) READ
#63 Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann (Virago Group) READ

#64 Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (Waterstones.com) READ
#65 The Truth About Melody Browne by Lisa Jewell (Charity bookshop) READ
#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)
#71 Angel by Elizabeth Taylor (Awesomebooks.com) READ
#72 Night Waking by Sarah Moss (Kindle daily deal)
#73 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Amazon Kindle) READ
#74 The Woman Who Died a Lot by Jasper Fforde (Waterstones.com) READ
#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) READ
#80 The Proof of Love by Catherine Hall (Kindle sale) READ
#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)
#85 Among Others by Jo Walton (Kindle sale) READ
#86 In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor (Abebooks) READ
#87 Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham (Abebooks) READ
#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)
#91 A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (Waterstones for review) READ
#92 My Driver by Maggie Gee (Kindle sale)
#93 The White Family by Maggie Gee (Kindle sale)
#94 The Brothers by Akso Sahlberg (Kindle sale)
#95 The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock (Kindle sale)
#96 Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal (Kindle sale)
#97 Katherine by Anya Seton (Charity bookshop)
#98 Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys (Charity bookshop)
#99 Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi (Kindle sale)
#100 Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius (Kindle sale)
#101 Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki (Kindle sale)
#102 Maybe This Time by Alois Hotschnig (Kindle sale)
#103 The Summer School Mystery by Josephine Bell (Kindle sale)
#104 The Scent of Lemon Leaves by Clara Sanchez (Kindle sale)
#105 The Soul of Kindness by Elizabeth Taylor (Abebooks)
#106 The Summer Book by Tove Jansson (Bookmooch)
#107 Mrs Jordan's Profession by Claire Tomalin (Bookmooch)

#108 The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (Bookmooch)
#109 Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (Anniversary present)
#110 Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollopr (Anniversary present)
#111 The Conductor by Sarah Quigley (Kindle daily deal)
#112 Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville (Kindle)
#113 Dodger by Terry Pratchett (Waterstones.com) READ
#114 A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (calm)
#115 The Pendragon Legend by Antal Szerb (soupdragon)

#116 The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (Waterstones.com
#117 The New Moon with the Old by Dodie Smith (Kindle)
#118 The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith (Kindle)
#119 It Ends with Revelations by Dodie Smith (Kindle)
#120 Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas (Kindle)
#121 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor (Waterstones.com READ
#122 The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts (Kindle) READ
#123 The Best of British Crime omnibus: Murder in Moscow / Prescription for Murder / A Game of Murder by David Williams, Andrew Garve and Francis Durbridge (Bello)
#124 Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (LizzieD)
#125 The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon Thingaversary (The Book People)
#126 Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (Bookmooch)
#127 The 13 Clocks and the Wonderful O by James Thurber (Bookmooch)

Edited: Oct 12, 2012, 12:50pm Top

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)

By Dickens:
Barnaby Rudge
American Notes for General Circulation
Martin Chuzzlewit
Pictures from Italy
Dombey and Son
Our Mutual Friend
A Tale of Two Cities

About Dickens:
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

The Heart of the Mid-Lothian by Walter Scott (1818)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (1847)
The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1855)
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (1857)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (1859)
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
The Notting Hill Mystery by Charles Felix (pseud. Charles Warren Adams) (1862-1863)
The Trail of the Serpent by May Elizabeth Braddon (1861)

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 Monk by M. G. Lewis
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
Beauty by Sheri Tepper
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

5. 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)
#6 The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness (2010 shortlist)

In the TBR pile:
The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
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
River Boy by Tim Bowler
The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson
King of Shadows by Susan Cooper
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
Stop the Train by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
The Family at One End Street by Eve Garnett

6. 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
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
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
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
The Idea of Perfection by Kate Grenville

7. 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
#2 Palladian
#3 A View of the Harbour
#4 A Wreath of Roses
#5 Angel
#6 In a Summer Season
#7 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont

At Mrs. Lippincote’s (1945)
Palladian (1946)
A View of the Harbour (1947)
A Wreath of Roses (1949)
A Game of Hide and Seek (1951)
The Sleeping Beauty (1953)
Angel (1957)
In a Summer Season (1961)
The Soul of Kindness (1964)
The Wedding Group (1968)
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont (1971)
Blaming (1976)

8. 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
#6 The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
#7 My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons
A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
Poor Cow by Nell Dunn
Anderby Wold by Winifred Holtby
The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby
Poor Caroline by Winifred Holtby
Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym
No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym
The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield
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
The Weather in the Streets by Rosamond Lehmann
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
Invitation to the Waltz by Rosamond Lehmann
The Gypsy's Baby and Other Stories by Rosamond Lehmann

9. Janetinlondon

In memoriam

#1 Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
#2 Troubles by J. G. Farrell
#3 Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
#4 Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
#5 Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes by Mollie Panter-Downes
#6 Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith

Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels (5 stars)
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4 stars)
Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood (4 stars)
Lustrum by Robert Harris (4 stars)
The Road Home by Rose Tremain (4 stars)
Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes by Mollie Panter-Downes (4.5 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 Alexander 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)

Edited: Nov 3, 2012, 9:39am Top

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 The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham (11/25)
*Allan Quatermain: Next up Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard (2/15)
*Barsoom: Next up The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (2/11)
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 Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (4/4)
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache: Next up The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny (8/8)
*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)
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?)
*Mapp and Lucia: Next up Lucia's Progress by E. F. Benson (5/6)
*Mars Trilogy: Next up Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson (3/3)
My Swordhand is Singing: Next up The Kiss of Death by Marcus Sedgwick (2/2)
*The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency: Next up The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith (4/13)
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 Casebook of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (9/9)
*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)
Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson: Next up A Tangle of Magicks by Stephanie Burgis (2/3)
Vorkosigan (Chronological order): Next up Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold (6/16)
*The Warlord Chronicles: Next up: Excalibur by Bernard Cornwell (3/3)
*Wolves Chronicles: Next up Night Birds on Nantucket by Joan Aiken (3/11)

Completed series
Daddy Long Legs: by Jean Webster (2/2)
Eight Cousins: by Louisa May Alcott (2/2)
Magid: by Diana Wynne Jones (2/2)
Olivia - Lehmann: by Rosmond Lehmann (2/2)
Robot/Empire/Foundation story order: Read all the Asimov authored books (15/15)

Up to date series
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)

Aug 21, 2012, 5:59am Top

All done!

Aug 21, 2012, 6:40am Top

Book #117 What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved by John Mullan - 4.5 stars
Source: Library book
Original publication date: 2012

A small criticism (and probably one directed at the publishers rather than the author): I think the subtitle to this book is slightly misleading. I wouldn't call this a book which solves twenty crucial puzzles about Jane Austen's work, rather it's twenty brief essays about various subjects and topics covered in Jane Austen's novels and the things a 20th century/21st century reader might not pick up on which Mullan believes would have been understood by contemporary readers.

I'd consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about Jane Austen's times and I'd been a little bit worried this book might just go over familiar ground but there were lots of things I'd never really picked up on before. For example, I'm aware that the friends and relations of someone who'd died would have been required to where mourning so I understand references to mourning in novels of that time, but what I forget is that if death is mentioned or we're told that a relative has died, the characters will wear mourning even if the author doesn't mention it. There are quite a few occasions where we're told of someone's death in Jane Austen's novels (often a character we haven't met) and Austen leaves her readers to infer the required changes of clothing, expecting her readers to see the contrast between that character's behaviour and the way they're dressed. In Mullan's opinion we lose something from our reading if we don't 'see' these clothes. Again, when Mullan discusses the lower classes in Jane Austen's novels he argues that contemporary readers would have 'seen' the servants in these novels even when they weren't mentioned explicitly; when he discusses the games characters play, he argues that contemporary readers would have seen the layout of the games and known the opportunities these games would give for private conversation.

Mullan is also very good at explaining the ways in which Jane Austen was a different kind of writer to her predecessors and contemporaries, again something I think is quite difficult for a modern reader to understand both because we're so used to these techniques being used by later authors and because Jane Austen's contemporaries and predecessors aren't read much anymore. There's a chapter where he discusses which characters in Jane Austen don't speak - I was quite surprised to read this list and enjoyed his discussion of the technique he claims Austen developed where certain characters are denied direct or quoted speech so as a reader, we only hear what they say indirectly. Another device of Austen's that Mullan discusses is 'to leave her heroine behind, to give us a glimpse of what the world is like in her absence. In all her novels except Mansfield Park this is done only occasionally, so that we receive a peculiar jolt when it happens.' I thought this was a fascinating book and I'ma little disappointed that I exercised restraint in getting a copy from the library rather than buying my own.

You can get a taster of the sort of subjects covered in the book from this Guardian article. One warning I would give is that because Jane Austen's novels are discussed in such depth, you do need to have read all of her 6 major works before reading these essays to avoid spoilers.

Aug 21, 2012, 6:54am Top

Great review of the Mullan book, not one I'll probably ever read but it does sound rather interesting.

Aug 21, 2012, 7:11am Top

Book #118 The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim - 4 stars
Source: Free kindle read
Original publication date: 1899

"May 2nd.—Last night after dinner, when we were in the garden, I said, "I want to be alone for a whole summer, and get to the very dregs of life. I want to be as idle as I can, so that my soul may have time to grow. Nobody shall be invited to stay with me, and if any one calls they will be told that I am out, or away, or sick. I shall spend the months in the garden, and on the plain, and in the forests. I shall watch the things that happen in my garden, and see where I have made mistakes. On wet days I will go into the thickest parts of the forests, where the pine needles are everlastingly dry, and when the sun shines I'll lie on the heath and see how the broom flares against the clouds. I shall be perpetually happy, because there will be no one to worry me. Out there on the plain there is silence, and where there is silence I have discovered there is peace."

"Mind you do not get your feet damp," said the Man of Wrath, removing his cigar."

This sequel to Elizabeth and Her German Garden is another delightful adventure in gardening with Elizabeth, the Man of Wrath and the April, May and June babies. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, Elizabeth and Her German Garden and The Solitary Summer are two semi-autobiographical novels in diary form about Elizabeth von Arnim and her attempts to escape her hectic German upper-class social life by retreating to the garden of her country house. It sounds like the sort of situation that might be difficult to sympathise with (how awful it must be to have so much money etc.) but Elizabeth is surprisingly down to earth about what I think of as the important things in life (books, peace and quiet, absence of annoying people) and her frustrations at the restrictions imposed on upper-class women at the end of the 19th century are genuine.

Aug 21, 2012, 7:12am Top

#7 Thanks Kerry :-)

Aug 21, 2012, 7:24am Top

Hi Heather, Happy new thread!
Ah, another Von Armin book which I am not familiar with. I'll check my Kindle for this free read.

Aug 21, 2012, 7:28am Top

>6 souloftherose: : That does sound like an interesting book. You mention things I hadn't thought about, or barely registered. I must say, I usually wonder about the dances, and how people manage to have a private conversation. I'd love to read this ... after I clear the TBR pile, and the wish list ...

Aug 21, 2012, 8:33am Top

Hi Heather - Beautiful new thread. I love the picture. You've done some great reading this year and are so organized with your lists. Impressive. Nice reviews of the both the Mullan and von Arnim. The Mullan book sounds like something I would like. I'll have to look for it.

Aug 21, 2012, 9:31am Top

Lovely review of the Austen criticism, Heather! I went to the book page to star it and it's not there. Nobody else has put up a review of it either, so I wish that you would.
Happy New Thread!!! Another picture of a woman reading which I've never seen before!
Ah --- the Man of Wrath!

Aug 21, 2012, 10:18am Top

You realise we're two thirds of the way through August and you've only acquired 2 new books - this could be a record!

Aug 21, 2012, 11:26am Top

I do love your lists - and they look much neater than mine, somehow... I really should adopt the series list idea too as I keep forgetting which is the next book up in some of the series and whether I already have a copy or not!

I haven't yet read the German Garden book, so I know not the Man of Wrath, and the Solitary Summer will have to wait till I've got round to the first book. I did enjoy The Enchanted April though, so I'm looking forward to more von Arnim.

Only 2 new books in August - that is indeed very restrained!

Aug 21, 2012, 11:27am Top

Lovely new thread, Heather! I would also like to thumb your review of the Austen criticism. So very interesting, but I need to finish making my way through her novels. My daughter Abby and I are quite in love with what we have read by her so far, and want to read the rest. That book above would make such lovely addition to our Austen foray when we have finished. I always enjoy reading through your reviews.

Aug 21, 2012, 11:31am Top

Just coming by to mark my star on your new thread, Heather! Love all the lists and organizaton! :)

Aug 21, 2012, 11:39am Top

I loved Elizabeth and her German Garden - I didn't realise it had a sequel - another book I need to buy ASAP!

Aug 21, 2012, 11:51am Top

re: What matters in Jane Austen I read the article in the Guardian and your review has reminded me to put the book on my wishlist.

Aug 21, 2012, 11:57am Top

Hi Heather, great new thread. I love your opening picture. Now that's the way I picture summer, warm enough to sit outside reading but still cool enough for long sleeves. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are just coming off a spell of quite warm weather, luckily we only had about three days where the temperatures got quite unbearable. Hot weather makes me cranky too!

Aug 21, 2012, 12:25pm Top

What Matters In Jane Austen is going on my GFW too, Heather. Sounds as if it will be interesting to read after I read all the Austen I haven't read yet.

Aug 21, 2012, 12:35pm Top

Hi Heather - just checking into the new thread. Love the opening picture:)

Aug 21, 2012, 4:56pm Top

#10 Thanks Lynda. I think I have every Elizabeth von Arnim ebook available on my kindle - they're such lovely reads :-)

#11 I hope you enjoy the Austen book. I also felt like he was pointing out things I hadn't thought about or registered before - it was really eye-opening.

#12 Beth, I should have checked this before I posted but the Austen book isn't released in the US until January - sorry :-(

I'm glad you like the picture - it's not an artist I've come across before but I was interested to see that he's a modern author 'working in the Naturalist ideal' (Ilana might be able to tell me what that means) rather than an artist from an earlier period as I'd first thought on seeing the painting. I've added a link to his homepage in my first message.

#13 Thanks Peggy - review posted. I think the Man of Wrath came across as a lot less wrathful in this book. I've grown quite fond of him and the April, May and June babies and will miss them all.

#14 & 15 Er, it could be a record... if my book acquisitions list had been up to date when you posted. I have that feeling of slight unease you get when someone praises you for something you haven't done.

#16 I was going to say I was envious of you and Abby reading Austen's books for the first time and then I realised that wasn't true because I discover something new in her books every time I read them.

#17 Hi Valerie!

#18 Oh yes Rhian! I think Virago have reissued most of her books and I think all the reviews I've seen for them have been positive.

#19 Hope you enjoy it Kerri.

#20 That would be my perfect summer too Judy. :-)

#21 Thanks calm :-)

As you may have gathered from some of my messages above, I haven't done very well at holding back from book purchases in August but, most are for my kindle so don't take up any shelf space, lots of them are quite short (novellas rather than novels perhaps) and they were all bargains!

Kindle daily deal/summer sale

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke (Orange shortlist, recommended by Janetinlondon)
My Driver by Maggie Gee (sequel to My Cleaner which was recommended by LizzieD)
The White Family by Maggie Gee (Orange shortlist, recommended by lots of people)
The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock (recommended by Belletrista, longlisted for the Guardian First Book award)
The Summer School Mystery by Josephine Bell (1950s crime fiction, republished by Bello)
The Scent of Lemon Leaves by Clara Sanchez (Spanish author, won an award)

6 novellas published by Peirene Press who specialise in translating and publishing contemporary European literature in English. They've only published 9 books so far and 6 were in the sale. They've all had really good reviews and I've had my eye on them for a while and I like the idea of supporting an independent publisher and reading more translated fiction and they're short (am I overjustifying?)

The Brothers by Akso Sahlberg
Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal
Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi
Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius
Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki
Maybe This Time by Alois Hotschnig

Paper books

Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden by Jack Vance
A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (for review from Waterstones)
Katherine by Anya Seton (much discussed classic historical fiction)
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys (shortlisted for this year's Carnegie medal)

Aug 21, 2012, 5:27pm Top

That's an interesting review of the Austen critique. I've actually been considering reading some critiques of Austen soon (I'm reading the Norton Critical Edition of Pride and Prejudice right now). Perhaps I'll check the book out.

Aug 21, 2012, 5:43pm Top

I'm still drooling over what's available to you in Kindle deals. The U.S. offering for today is I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive - not the worst, but not particularly appealing to me either....whereas I'd love a chance at and The Scent of Lemon Leaves and The Book of Lies!

Aug 21, 2012, 5:53pm Top

Added the Austen book to my wishlist immediately! Lovely new thread here...

Aug 22, 2012, 2:41am Top

ok, I take it back, but well done for getting so many interesting looking books, and bargains too!

Aug 22, 2012, 5:29am Top

Stopping by to say hi! Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys is a book I'd like to get to read. I wish those kindle deals were available to my kindle in Canada! Big sigh!

Aug 22, 2012, 1:22pm Top

Heather, you are tempting me with Elizabeth and Her German Garden and the sequel. I was less than enchanted with The Enchanted April but I'm blaming it on my mood at the time. I loved the movie so I should have liked the book more than I did. I'm going to see if the garden books will be free on Kindle. I won't be able to pass them by at that price!

Aug 22, 2012, 6:53pm Top

Excellent and enticing review of the Von Arnim.

Aug 22, 2012, 8:42pm Top

Heather - belatedly (travelling back to KL and catching up on sleep) signing up for the latest thoroughly engaging installment of your reading journal - and it continues to chugg along impressively.

Aug 23, 2012, 2:21pm Top

Hi Heather - just checking in on the new thread!

Aug 23, 2012, 6:29pm Top

>6 souloftherose: That look really good, but sadly it looks like it won't be available in the US 'til January. :( Putting it on the TBR list regardless...

Aug 25, 2012, 5:59am Top

Heather, a lovely review of The Solitary Summer. You are tempting me too!

Aug 25, 2012, 6:30am Top

#24 Thanks Rachel - hope you enjoy the book.

#25 Sorry to provoke envy Peggy. The current sale seems to have a lot of interesting books from independent publishers.

#26 Thanks Roni - hope you enjoy the Austen book!

#27 *sheepish smile*

#28 Hi Deb! Oh dear - sorry to have flaunted our kindle deals again. I'm looking forward to Between Shades of Grey.

#29 Donna, I think both the garden books should be free on kindle. If you can't find them on the amazon.com site then try girlebooks or Project Gutenberg.

#30 Thanks Lucy.

#31 Hi Paul. Hope you're now safely back home and fully recovered from your stomach upset.

#32 Hi Katie!

#33 Thanks Mary - I wish books could be published on the same date in different countries.

Aug 25, 2012, 7:28am Top

Book #119 The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce - 4 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date: 2012

The unlikely premise of this rather lovely novel is that Harold Fry, who is newly retired and struggling to keep from getting under his wife's feet, receives a letter from an old colleague, Queenie, who has written to tell him that she is dying of cancer. Harold writes a reply and sets out to post it in boat shoes and an anorak but when he gets to the first post-box he keeps walking. And keeps on walking all the way from Kingsbridge in South Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed where Queenie lies dying in a nursing home. As fas as the plot goes, this is not really a realistic novel but I found the author's descriptions of the relationships between the main characters in this book to be well done and insightful, and this was probably what I enjoyed most about the book.

Book #120 Among Others by jo Walton - 4.8 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date: 2011

"It doesn't matter. I have books, new books, and I can bear anything as long as there are books."

I loved this book and now I want to read everything else Jo Walton has written which is unfortunate because none of her other books seem to have been published in the UK. It's a book about a growing up and realising that there are people with whom you can be yourself rather than either having to pretend you're someone else to fit in or not fit in because you won't pretend. It's a book about reading and exploring new ideas through fantasy and science fiction novels. It's a book about magic, the effects it may have on other people and the user and whether it can ever be right to use it. And it's a book, told in the first person, which really makes you question what's real - the narrator believes that magic exists but acknowledges that magic effects can always be otherwise explained - so does it exist at all or is it a coping mechanism dreamed up as a result of the tragedy life has dealt her so far?

Among Others is also a book that mentions an incredible number of older science fiction and fantasy novels and some dedicated person has created a LT list of them. It probably goes without saying, that I now want to read all of them.

Bibliography for Among Others.

Aug 25, 2012, 8:20am Top

Hi Heather - Among Others sounds just like the kind of book we would all love. Thanks for the comments on both books; they both sound like winners.

Aug 25, 2012, 10:18am Top

So happy you loved Among Others - I was just reading an Afterward in an Alastair Reynold's book of stories I've started where he talks about what he read as a teen in South Wales...... made me think so much of this book.

Aug 25, 2012, 10:53am Top

I already had Among Others on my wishlist but now I really, really want to read it! And then I'll want to read all those old fantasy novels too...

Aug 25, 2012, 11:54am Top

I think I had Among Others on my wishlist already, and now I want to read it even more

Aug 25, 2012, 12:38pm Top

Hi Heather, about time I come over and say hi on your new thread. Great review on the John Mullan book. I had read that Guardian article when it came out and concluded that to appreciate the book fully, I'd have to reread each of her novels at least once more, to fully appreciate all the subtleties he brings up. Glad you enjoyed Harold Fry. I've been really loving Elizabeth Taylor's A Wreath of Roses, which I'm about to go finish in a minute. It's my third book by her so far, with more to come of course.

Aug 25, 2012, 4:47pm Top

Among Others - another book for the GFW. Impressive list of books within it. Can't say I want to read every one of them (I'd rather poke out an eye than read The Magus again!), but there's a goodly number I'd like to take a crack at myself. I've got an Elizabeth Taylor around here somewhere - everybody says such good things about her - maybe I should bump it up a bit.

Aug 25, 2012, 5:04pm Top


Hear hear on The Magus. Have never struggled through a bigger load of tosh in my life. Sadly I was away from home and it's all I had with me to read, so I fought my way through.

Weirdly, another of his books, The Collector is fantastic.

Aug 25, 2012, 6:29pm Top

I really liked Among Others, too, Heather, and it also was my first Jo Walton. That bibliography is really something - I knew a lot of books had been referenced, but I didn't realized it had been that many. I can check off a number on the list, but I notice she's read much more of LeGuin than I have.

Aug 25, 2012, 8:02pm Top

If you're in the UK and have a means of reading ebooks that you're comfortable with, Among Others is available in the Kindle sale until the end of this month for 99p. I loved it too but don't necessary want to devour the whole reading list.

Aug 25, 2012, 8:46pm Top

I enjoyed Among Others as well!

Aug 25, 2012, 10:23pm Top

I loved The Magus, and there are many others I would like to read or reread from the list. Thanks for sharing, Heather.

Aug 26, 2012, 6:26am Top

I might have to look at that Kindle sale...

Aug 26, 2012, 7:19am Top

#43 - I know, Jenny - The Collector was so good and TM was just horrible (not sure what 'tosh' is but assume it something akin to horse manure or thereabouts. Am adding it to vocabulary). And how awful that you had nothing else to read! It must have been hell. Hmmm - maybe that is what hell is for an inveterate reader. You have all the books in the world to read, but every one of them is a stinker. Now that would be cruel.

Anyway, when I read The Magus I inflicted it upon myself as part of a senior year English reading project. We had to read three similarly themed books and three books by the same author. I picked Fowles. I had The Collector and The French Lieutenant's Woman, but I couldn't find a third. My grandmother ranged all over south Florida where she was for the winter and found a copy of TM and mailed it to me (this, of course, was in the bad ol' pre-internet days) so that I could finish my project. Confusing and endless - that is what I remember about it. It's been banished to the attic where I hope the mice have made nice little mousey nests out of it. That would be a better fate than it deserves. If I believed in book-burning it would be a definite candidate!

Aug 26, 2012, 7:22am Top

...oh, forgot to add - Hi Heather! Hope you are having a good day. See - I'm keeping up with you. I'm so proud!

Aug 26, 2012, 8:18am Top

I enjoyed The Magus well enough, but it was such a long time ago..... sometimes those reads don't hold up to a second look.

Aug 26, 2012, 3:18pm Top

>45 elkiedee: Thanks so much for the heads up, I've just bought it!

And thanks Heather for another recommendation

Aug 26, 2012, 3:34pm Top

Yup, thank you very much, Among Others has been purchased :)

Aug 26, 2012, 11:02pm Top

Wow, Heather! You snagged me with your review of Among Others. I am a huge sucker for a book that talks about the love of books. :)

Aug 27, 2012, 3:54am Top

Lovely new thread!

Great conversation about Fowles' works! LT is such a great place to visit especially if one is feeling down and a bit teary. :-)

Aug 27, 2012, 9:30pm Top

>35 souloftherose: Ah well, at least if gives me time to catch up a little on my TBR list in the meantime (yeah, right...).

Among Others is already on my list, but I'll definitely have to bump it up and read it sooner.

Aug 28, 2012, 11:01pm Top

Hi Heather, I have Among Others on my wishlist but like Mary, I'll bump it up a little.

Aug 29, 2012, 4:33pm Top

Thanks Beth, Lucy, Dee, Rhian, Ilana, Charlotte, Jenny, Joe, Luci, Roni, Genny, Jo, Valerie, Porua, Mary and Judy for keeping my thread warm for me :-) I hope those of you who have been tempted by Among Others enjoy it.

#42, 43 & 49 Ok, sounds like The Magus should not be top of my list. I've heard of John Fowles but I have no idea what kind of books he writes.

#44 "I can check off a number on the list, but I notice she's read much more of LeGuin than I have." Yep, that goes for me too. I'd like to read more Le Guin but it also made me want to reread the Earthsea Quartet again.

#45 Thanks for spreading the news Luci :-)

An attempt at some very brief book comments:

Book #121 The Warden by Anthony Trollop - 3.7 stars

A reread and a huge thank you to Liz for tutoring me on this book and helping me to understand some of Trollope's more obscure references (you can find the tutored read thread here). I got a lot more out of this on rereading (with Liz's help) and I'm looking forward to Barchester Towers.

Book #122 The Proof of Love by Catherine Hall - 3.8 stars

I was really gripped by this story of Spencer Little, a Cambridge mathematician who spends a summer helping on a farm in the Lake District to try and escape from the social pressures of Cambridge life and give himself some space to make progress with his work. It's set during the 1976 heatwave in the UK, the farm and the countryside are suffering from the dry weather and the heat and despite himself Spencer finds he is getting caught up in the life of the farm and strikes up a friendship with the farmer's ten year old daughter, Alice. The plot is a slow burn but the conclusion, when it comes, is both tragic and chilling.

A big thank you to Dee for the recommendation and I'll be looking out for Catherine Hall's other novel, Days of Grace.

Book #123 Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz - 4 stars

'Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature' on a book cover is more likely to scare me away than draw me to a book but thanks to Janetinlondon's recommendation of this series I finally picked up Palace Walk, the first volume in this trilogy about a Muslim family living in Cairo towards the end of WWI and I was drawn in by Mahfouz's writing like so many others have been. The pace is slow, but it was an enjoyable slow and I'm looking forward to the second volume, Palace of Desire.

Aug 29, 2012, 4:44pm Top

Ah, Heather, you're guiding me back to Palace Walk. It was obviously not the right time when I first tried it, so I will try again. You know I don't mind "slow" at all....
I read a bunch of Fowles 30 years ago - or 40 ---. I believe that The French Lieutenant's Woman might be a more friendly place to begin. I also remember liking Daniel Martin quite a lot. Once again, I have to live forever so that I can reread this stuff to find out what I really think!
My thanks to you for instigating The Warden reading and for letting me tag along!

Aug 29, 2012, 4:55pm Top

So, we tried watching the film of 2001. I can now say it's even worse than the book. All arty shots and slow moving spaceships. I only knew what was happening because I'd read the book. We gave up. I'm donating it back to the charity shop tomorrow.

Heather, I hold you accountable for giving me the idea and wasting a whole hour that could otherwise have been spent reading!

PS, Proof of Love sounds interesting but I'm not sure I can cope with a tragic ending at the moment. And I like the idea of a tutored read.

Aug 29, 2012, 5:50pm Top

I'm also reading Palace Walk but not confident that I'll finish by the end of the month for the TIOLI shared read. Everyone seems to have enjoyed it.
I was lucky enough to pick up a copy of Among Others at a warehouse bookshop the other day for only a couple of dollars. I also want to read her Tooth and Claw but my library only has one copy and I'm in a queue for it.

Aug 29, 2012, 7:57pm Top

OOh...that Catherine Hall one intrigues me! Thanks for all the great reviews, Heather. :)
I keep seeing the Cairo Trilogy everywhere and it is oh so tempting, but I've got way too many series going right now that I think I will just wait until the list isn't so ridiculous.

Aug 29, 2012, 8:57pm Top

I loved Palace Walk, but thus far it is the only book in the trilogy that I have gotten to. One of these days I will get to the remainder of the Cairo Trilogy!

Sep 3, 2012, 10:05am Top

HI Heather! I'm just popping around the threads and trying to catch up :)

Sep 3, 2012, 11:56am Top

Catching up on your thread and finding some new additions to go on my wishlist. I've obviously not been following Jasper Fforde closely enough as you list a couple I hadn't heard of, and a Kate Summerscale I'll need to get ( I loved The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher).
I also have Dickens on my challenge but haven't cracked A Tale of Two Cities open yet. I did just finished watching a miniseries of Dombey and Son.

Sep 3, 2012, 12:49pm Top

I already have Among Others on my WL, thanks to Lucy, but I think I need to get to it sooner rather than later - lovely review of it. Hope all is well with you. Please pet the kitty for me.

Sep 3, 2012, 2:23pm Top

Now that I've read Among Others, I was interested to reread your review.

Somehow, I haven't been as enamoured with it as most other people have been. I liked it, but didn't love it. The book and tragedy parts were the best, the magic parts let it down dramatically for me. Obviously it's simply going to be one of those books that I just 'don't get'.

Sep 3, 2012, 2:26pm Top

Among Others just won the Hugo last night, btw.

Sep 8, 2012, 3:33am Top

Heather, hope you're OK - you've gone very quiet?

Sep 8, 2012, 3:37am Top

Heather no long to hear? Hope you are having a splendid weekend.

Sep 8, 2012, 5:47am Top

Hi Heather. Hope you're ok and that you enjoy this sunny weekend.

I thought your short review of The Proof of Love summed the book up prefectly and brought it all straight back to me. I don't seem to remember Days of Grace all that well but know I enjoyed it too.

Sep 8, 2012, 10:49am Top

Hi Heather, I have been enjoying my visits to Egypt through The Cairo Trilogy. Like you, I have been thinking about Janet as I read them. I'll get to Sugar Street later in the month.

Sep 8, 2012, 11:24am Top

Hi Peggy, Jo, Kerry, Valerie, Stasia, Chelle, Jennifer, Mamie, Jenny, Roni, Rhian, Paul, Dee and Donna! I've been absent, trying to recover from busy weekends in August and busy weeks at work in September. The good news is that I have some nice quiet weekends this month, the bad news is that work is only going to get busier until the end of this month but I do have a couple of weeks off work in October to look forward to.

#59 Peggy, I've heard more about The French Lieutenant's Woman although I suspect I've mostly heard about the film which apparently had an iconic scene on The Cobb in Lyme Regis.

#60 I'm so sorry about 2001! I did say I hadn't been able to get very far through the film...

#61 I'm really interested in Tooth and Claw (someone described it as Anthony Trollope with dragons recently) but it's another of her books that's quite hard to find over here. I will, at some point, snap and order a copy but I've bought far too many books compared to the number of books I've read so I'm trying to hold off for as long as possible...

#62 Hope you can find the Catherine Hall book Valerie, I didn't check to see whether her books had been published in Canada. I know what you mean about the series!

#63 So many books, so little time Stasia :-)

#65 I think the Jasper Fforde books haven't been published in the US yet, but are about to be this autumn so keep your eyes peeled!

#67 About to head over to your thread to check out your thoughts on Among Others Jenny.

#68 Oh yes, thanks for letting me know.

#71 Thanks Dee - glad to hear you remember Days of Grace as also being good (even if it's a bit vague...)

Off to try and catch up with some threads before hopefully doing some book comments here at some point this weekend...

Sep 8, 2012, 11:37am Top

>58 souloftherose: : Thanks to you and several others, The Cairo Trilogy is now on my wish-list.

Edited: Sep 13, 2012, 4:21pm Top

Hi Heather! I lost sight of you for a little while there, but now I'm back on board!
I'm another one who has Among Others on the wishlist, and has now moved it up a few notches as a result of your review. Hope the busy times at work don't interfere with your reading too much - I hate it when that happens ; )

Sep 8, 2012, 12:25pm Top

Most Jasper Fforde's are available here -- I think we usually have to wait a little for the latest one..... My fave's so far, for some unknowable reason, have been the Nursery Crime ones, the 3 Bears one killed me. Although I do love Thursday's Dodo.

Sep 9, 2012, 2:11pm Top

#74 Hope you enjoy the trilogy :-)

#75 Hi Hanna - I lost sight of myself for a while I think! Hope you enjoy Among Others.

#76 'Plock' - I love the dodo too. I don't think I was very clear in my earlier post, I think it's just The Last Dragonslayer books which haven't been published in the US yet (and I've on idea why there's such a time gap on this particular series) but I think the first in the series is published in the US in October.

Reviews (still in August!):

Book #124 Death of a Ghost by Margery Allingham - 3.9 stars

Original publication date: 1934
Acquired: Abebooks

As I've been reading through Allingham's early Campion novels I've started to categorise them as either adventure/thrillers (sort of Prisoner of Zenda meets the Thirty-Nine Steps) or more traditional murder mystery/crime fiction. Death of a Ghost is a straight murder mystery set amidst the art world of Little Venice in the 1930s. Campion deduces 'whodunnit' fairly early on, but how and why it was done proves harder to figure out and almost impossible to prove. I enjoyed this a lot and my only criticism is that I felt slightly dissatisfied with one part of the ending. This seems to be a recurring problem I have with Allingham's stories and probably reflects my inability not to compare her books to later crime fiction.

Book #125 Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes by Mollie Panter-Downes - 4.5 stars

Original publication date: 1999 as a book
Acquired: Persephone bookshop, London
Category: In memory of Janetinlondon

Good Evening, Mrs Craven is a wonderful selection of short stories written by Mollie Panter-Downes as articles for The New Yorker during WWII. The stories focus on middle-class women and how they were affected by the war, whether it's trying to say goodbye to a husband leaving for active service, opening your home to receive evacuees or a mistress worrying about whether she would ever find out if her lover is hurt or injured. The selection of stories are arranged chronologically which gives a good sense of the changing mood and worsening conditions in England throughout WWII. Some are funny, some sad, but each one feels as if Mollie Panter-Downes has managed to lift a curtain and allow the reader a brief glimpse of her characters' lives before the curtain falls and they carry on. I think what I'm trying, rather clumsily, to say, is that all the characters and situations she wrote about felt very real to me, and I felt like I'd been given a real glimpse into what life was like for certain groups of people during WWII. And, of course, the Persephone edition is a joy to read.

Janet read and enjoyed this book last year - you can see her thoughts on it here.

Book #126 A Most Improper Magick by Stephanie Burgis - 3.2 stars (published as Kat, Incorrigible in the US)

Original publication date: 2010
Acquired: Kindle sale

A fun, light, young adult romp set in the Regency period with magic, highwaymen and evil stepmothers. It didn't enchant me as much as Sorcery and Cecilia did but it was enjoyable enough and I'll probably read the sequels when I'm in the mood for a lighter read.

Sep 9, 2012, 2:15pm Top

I love the Persephone books - I starting a small collection but it hasn't gone very far yet. I've never been to the Persephone shop though.

Sep 9, 2012, 3:38pm Top

I loved Good Evening, Mrs Craven too and enjoyed reading your and (in a bittersweet way) Janet's thoughts on it. Great end papers too!

I bought a copy of The Dervish House after reading Janet's review of it and hope to read that in her memory before too long.

Sep 9, 2012, 4:45pm Top

You remind me that I want to read the sequels to Kat Incorrigible at some point too--but the library doesn't have them yet.

Sep 10, 2012, 7:52am Top

Hello Heather, I sympathise on the recovering from busy weekends and/or busy time at work (the two are one and the same for me!). I hope you get through the coming busy time ok.

You're right about the two types of Campion stories - I particularly like the ones of the Zenda/39 steps variety that involve dashing about the Essex countryside (and sometimes all around Europe), kidnap, medieval treasures and secrets of inheritance etc. Totally incredible but such fun! I'm interested in your comment about finding (some parts of ) the endings dissatisfying and the comparison to later crime novels. Can you say more without spoilers?

Sep 10, 2012, 7:56am Top

I enjoyed Good Evening, Mrs. Craven when I read it too, Heather. I am glad to see you liked it!

Sep 11, 2012, 6:10am Top

#78 I love the Persephone books too Rhian :-) I've got four, so far but I've loved every single one. I have one left to read (The Fortnight in September which I'm hoping to get to this month) and then maybe I can treat myself to some more...

#79 Thanks Dee. Yes, it was bittersweet for me too, reading back through Janet's final thread of last year. The Dervish House is a book I've had on my wishlist since Janet recommended it. I might also try and read that before the end of the year.

#80 That's a shame Roni. I think it might be another series where the publishing dates in the UK are ahead of the US dates although funnily enough it was US readers who first recommended it to me!

#81 Yesterday at work went much better Genny so I'm hopeful that I can get through to the end of the month. We had a really quiet weekend which I think helped a lot (although not an option when you're a minister sadly).

I enjoy both types of Campion novels too - I've always had a soft spot for the Zenda/39 steps type of book even though they require quite a bit of suspension of disbelief :-)

Mild spoiler warning for Death of a Ghost although the murderer won't be revealed

The problem I had with Death of a Ghost was that the murderer goes mad upon being confronted with his/her crimes and then, as if that wasn't bad enough, promptly dies. Of madness. I suppose the first could be explained by a violent reaction to extreme stress (a bit like Victorian 'brain fever' although I'd question whether the murderer could have planned and carried out several murders and survived the ensuing police investigation without this being triggered but I'm mystified as to why and how they died afterwards. The reason I think my reaction is probably a bit unfair to Allingham is that the Victorian sensation novels and some of the crime fiction I've read (particularly Anna Katherine Green's books) are full of people going mad (and they don't just go mad, they go 'Mad! Mad, I tell you!' mad) and although Allingham was writing these books in the 1930s, she would presumably have been influenced by these 19th century works so it seems rather unfair of me to expect her to write as if she was a later or different writer. I'm trying to remember whether Agatha Christie ever did anything similar but I think it's been too long since I read her books.

#82 Thanks Stasia. I'd definitely like to read more by Mollie Panter-Downes. Persephone have published another collection of her short stories (Minnie's Room: The Peacetime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes and Virago have published one of her novels, One Fine Day. I'd also like to read her War Notes which are out of print but the library seems to have an old copy in its reserve stock.

Sep 11, 2012, 8:12am Top

I have a small Persephone collection, thanks to a couple of gift-giving opportunities where the generous giver took advantage of their 3-for-something offer. In fact I just wandered by one of my bookshelves the other day and, seeing those soft gray spines, was reminded that I really should read one sometime soon.

Sep 11, 2012, 11:41am Top

#83 I've got A Fortnight in September sitting on the TBR pile as well, along with several others.

Sep 12, 2012, 11:28am Top

I think I have a few Persephone's but I haven't organized them the same way I do the Viragos. Same goes for Europa, which is quite distinctive - both the choices of what they publish and the book appearance.

Sep 12, 2012, 3:44pm Top

#84 Laura, I'm hoping Persephone might do another offer soon so that I can increase my collection once I've read A Fortnight in September. With the four I've bought so far I was torn between reading them all at once and spacing them out so they lasted longer!

#85 Did you get it as part of their special offer last year Rhian? I think it was the free book given if you bought a certain number and I had been going to buy some as Christmas presents anyway but I kept September for myself!

#86 I've only got one Europa but they also seem to be really lovely editions.

I've been really, really struggling to write something coherent about the last few books I read in August so the below are more general thoughts than a proper review.

Book #127 In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor - 3.8 stars
Source: Abebooks
Original publication date: 1961
Category: The other Elizabeth Taylor

Themes of sex and sexuality. A young middle aged woman, Kate, marries a younger man after her first husband dies - they seem to have little in common but there's clearly a strong physical attraction between them. Kate's son Tom, falls for a neighbour's daughter who is an enormously sensual creature. Kate's daughter has a crush on the local curate and Kate's maiden aunt who lives with them, observes all three situations in long, sharply observed letters to her friend throughout the book. It took me longer to be drawn into the book than it has with other novels by Elizabeth Taylor but the characters and writing have stayed in my mind.

Book #128 The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton - 4.5 stars
Source: Charity bookshop
Original publication date: 1905
Category: Virago Modern Classics

This was one of Edith Wharton's first depictions of late 19th century New York society, and whilst I didn't think this novel was as polished as some of her later books, the emotional punch it packed made up for that in my opinion. Lily Bart is beautiful and one of the belles of New York society, but she has no money herself and knows she needs to marry money if she is to keep the lifestyle she enjoys. Lily has has lots of opportunities to marry, but somehow she's always managed to lose those opportunities before they crystallise into an engagement. Is it carelessness, overconfidence or her conscience that causes Lily to lose these opportunities? As she approaches thirty it becomes even more crucial that she marries before it's too late. I found The House of Mirth to be a fascinating character study and a damning criticism of the double standards of New York society at that time.

Book #129 Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman - 4 stars
Source: Reread
Original publication date: 1996

A reread for my F2F reading group. The setting didn't blow me away as much as it did the first time I read it but I still enjoyed rereading it.

Book #130 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - 3.5 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date: 1943

A coming of age tale about life growing up in the poorer districts of Brooklyn, New York around the time of WWI. I enjoyed this classic but I didn't fall in love with it the way other people in the group did (sorry).

That's August done - hooray!

Sep 12, 2012, 3:49pm Top

Wow, can't believe anyone didn't fall in love with ATGiB - my respect for you has fallen ;) (jk).

My mum collects Persephones and I think I own one, although I haven't got round to reading it yet. We always stop by their shop when we visit London, which is about once every five years!

Sep 12, 2012, 3:51pm Top

Hi Heather

Congratulations on reading 130 books thus far!

Sep 12, 2012, 3:59pm Top

Well done on catching up with August. Hope September is going well:)

Sep 12, 2012, 10:44pm Top

It feels to get them all done, doesn't it?? Here's to a great September filled with even better books! :)

Sep 13, 2012, 5:46pm Top

Hi Heather, just de-lurking long enough to comment on what interesting and varied reading you tackled in August. Looking forward to seeing what you choose to read in September.

Sep 13, 2012, 8:56pm Top

Now you are all ready for September!

Sep 14, 2012, 6:27pm Top

Hi Heather - Wow! You've been busy with some great reading. The Panter-Downes especially, looks great to me. I like Allingham and was thinking I should start the series again. I've read quite a few, but have probably forgotten most of the plots by now. I must get to Elizabeth Taylor soon, too. Too many books...

Sep 15, 2012, 3:12am Top

#87 Heather, I replied to you a couple of days ago but my post disappeared, and I obviously forgot to repost! I have 9 Persephones: my sister has bought them for me for Christmas for the last couple of years, and I've picked up a couple second-hand as well, including an unread copy of Miss Pettigrew lives for a Day for 50p in my local Sainsbury's (They were having a book sale for charity). Incidentally, my sister was carrying on the tradition of a lifetime in buying the books. She's fourteen years older than me and throughout my childhood kept me supplied with all the best children's books that were around at the time, so I can probably give much of the credit for my love of reading to her.

Sep 15, 2012, 4:38am Top

#88 Uh oh... The Persephone shop is lovely, and there's a really nice discount bookshop across the road, The Lamb Bookshop which is worth a look the next time you're there.

#89 Thanks Linda :-)

#90 Thanks calm - very busy at work at the moment but managing to lose myself in some good books outside of work which helps.

#91 Thank you Valerie! September has been a good month book-wise so far.

#92 Thanks Judy :-)

#93 :-)

#94 I am enjoying getting back into my Allingham reading again Beth. I know exactly what you mean about too many books...

Well, I survived a slightly stressful week at work, unfortunately I think next week is going to be more stressful so I'm planning a quiet weekend, hoping to spend some time reading, knitting, watching TV (series 3 of Downton Abbey starts!) and catching up on LT :-)

Sep 15, 2012, 4:56am Top

#95 Oops, forgot to refresh before posting. Miss Pettigrew was the first Persephone I read and I also found mine secondhand for £1! Otherwise I haven't seen any of their books second-hand but I like getting the books with the matching bookmarks and supporting a small publisher so I don't really mind. What a lovely sister to buy you Persephones for Christmas :-)

Sep 15, 2012, 6:41am Top

>97 souloftherose:: now that's quite a coincidence. My first Persephone was also Miss Pettigrew and my copy was second-hand! A friend passed it on to me, I've not come across any in second-hand shops either. And like you Heather, I take a delicious pleasure in the matching bookmarks!

Sep 15, 2012, 7:03am Top

Hi there Heather, Finally catching up a bit this morning. I'd expect ATGiB to be less affective to those not connected in some way to the events in the story, but still, 3.5 is not chopped liver. Glad you gave it a try and joined the GR.

Sep 15, 2012, 8:07am Top

That is a Taylor I haven't found yet - it sounds intriguing. I'm sure I'll find it one of these days.

I read ATGIB so long ago, something I should revisit, I expect.

Sep 15, 2012, 8:35am Top

I've found a few secondhand, most I already had but I've bought two that way for myself and one for my mum. You can also buy the bookmarks separately for 50p.

Sep 15, 2012, 9:23am Top

>95: I like that story of your sister, SandDune.

Sep 15, 2012, 9:26am Top

#87: To date, In a Summer Season is the only book of Taylor's I have been able to get my hands on - thanks to Peggy sending me a copy - but I really would like to read more of her books as I enjoyed that one.

Edited: Sep 15, 2012, 9:50am Top

#98 Hmm, that is a coincidence. Perhaps because it's available as a slightly cheaper Persephone Classic and there was a recentish film?

#99 Hi Lynda. I think you're probably right, I enjoyed ATGiB and found it interesting to read about that period in American history but didn't really connect to it. Still, I've come away from it feeling like I know a little bit more about life, people and American history which is no bad thing :-)

#100 Lucy, I'm glad my somewhat incoherent thoughts on the ET book intrigued you!

#101 Thanks Luci, I'll remember that if I ever find any second-hand copies. I think they also send a bookmark with the biannually magazine - I've got a couple that way for some of their newer books.

#102 Hi Nina!

#103 I'm glad you enjoyed that one Stasia. I hope your library gets some more ET books.

Book #131 The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness - 4.7 stars
Source: Kindle
Original publication date: 2009
Category: Carnegie Medal (shortlist 2010)

"We are the choices we make."

This is the second book in Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy which is essentially one story told over three books so they really do need to be read in order. To talk about the plot of this book would give spoilers for the first in the series so instead I'm going to try to comment on why I think Patrick Ness has done something really special with this young adult series.

Set in a futuristic world where everyone can hear each other's thoughts (which are known as 'noise'), Patrick Ness could easily have written a trilogy that just focused on what a future society would be like where there was no privacy but instead he's taken it so much further. Throughout the first two books he's touched on themes of gender politics, racism, trust, violence, friendship and forgiveness but the main theme of the second book was how far should you go when you're fighting something evil or repressive? To what extent do your ends ever justify your means? One of the things I appreciated about The Ask and the Answer was the way the two sides of conflict in this book started out black and white, good and evil but as you learnt more about each side things became more and more murky until it seemed almost impossible to distinguish between the different shades of grey. There were no easy answers at the end of this book. This is a young adult novel in the sense that the two main characters are teenagers and Patrick Ness writes specifically for young people by choice, but it's not a young adult novel in the sense that it's less complex or less dark than most adult novels.

The story is told in a first person, present tense, stream of consciousness dialect with bad grammar and spelling as appropriate to the character we're following. I know this can be a deal breaker for some people but given these books are set in a world where you can hear everyone's thoughts it seemed right to me that the books should be written as they would be spoken or thought by the characters and I thought this way of writing the story was very effective. The book, both in ebook and print editions, uses several different fonts to very effectively distinguish the different types of noise.

I'm torn between wanting some resolution and answers in the final volume to the trilogy and worrying that Ness might throw away all the complexities he's included so far with an 'And they all lived happily ever after' ending.

Book #132 The New World by Patrick Ness - 3.5 stars
Source: Kindle
Original publication date: 2009

This is a short story that Patrick Ness wrote as a prequel to his Chaos Walking trilogy. You can download it for free for kindle (and I asumme other ereaders) or you can read it on the booktrust website as a pdf.

It's a good story, best read after the first volume in the trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go, but I wouldn't really recommend it as a taster or as an introduction to the series because it's a fairly straightforward series without the complexities of the other books so I'm not sure it really gives a good idea of what the other books are like.

Sep 15, 2012, 10:26am Top

The brilliant reading continues. I do wonder whether your enjoyment of A Tree Grows in Brooklin was tempered by reading it from a British rather than an american viewpoint? When I picked it up in the store here and put it back down in the presence of Prue we actually thought that that would be the case.
Have a lovely weekend in what looks to be an Indian summer in my country of birth.

Sep 15, 2012, 5:01pm Top

Really lovely review of The Ask and the Answer, Heather. I was mightily impressed with this YA series, for exactly the reason you mentioned: It tackles some really big themes and there are no easy answers. I won't give anything away about the final book in the trilogy.

Oh, and The New World is, as you suspected, available as a free download for the Nook and the Kobo, as well. I agree that it's a fairly lightweight addition. I'm not sure anything in it really added much to the series overall. Since it's free, it's worth picking up if you're reading the whole series, but that's about it.

Sep 15, 2012, 5:53pm Top

We've got the whole Chaos Walking trilogy sitting on the shelves. J liked the first one but then quickly stalled with book 2- I wondered if it was just a bit too old for him. What would you say the lower age range for The Ask and the Answer would be?

Sep 16, 2012, 10:08am Top

Hi Heahter - Thanks for the great review of The Ask and the Answer. It's going on my list. There are so many good YA books out now.

Sep 16, 2012, 10:26am Top

ooooo I have that trilogy too, my daughter loved them and wanted very much for me to read them. Perhaps I ought to get busy.

Sep 17, 2012, 9:11am Top

I read The Knife of Never Letting Go but due to what happened near the end of the first book - don't want to give spoilers so can't go into it further - I have been unable to read it again to remind myself what happened, so won't be able to read the other two.

Just one of those things I guess! I know everyone else has loved them :)

Sep 18, 2012, 2:18pm Top

#105 Hi Paul. I think you may well be right about enjoying ATGiB slightly less due to reading from a British viewpoint. It was still enjoyable, just not a favourite.

#106 Thanks Julia - good to see another Chaos Walking fan :-)

#107 Rhian, I find that a really tough question to answer. Maybe 14? There's some violence (a bit of torture in the second book actualy), no sex, limited swearing but I think I would have struggled with there not being clear cut lines between who's 'bad' and who's 'good' as a younger teenager. It's a tough one though, I could easily imagine there might be younger readers who could cope and there might be older readers who would still find it too dark.

#108 Make sure you start with The Knife of Never Letting Go Beth - I hope you enjoy them!

#109 Yes, read them Lucy!

#110 I think I know the scene you're referring to Jenny - it was disturbing and I can understand not wanting to read the next two books as a result. The second book was less disturbing in that respect.

Still several reviews behind but I don't think this is going to be the week or the month where I catch up with things. Things are very busy and quite stressful at work and on top of that we will find out whether either of my two direct managers have been made redundant on Friday :-( Today was supposed to be my day off but I spent most of it working at home - hopefully I might be able to take the time off in lieu next week. But I have two weeks off work in October which I'm really looking forward to... Two and a half weeks to go!

Sep 18, 2012, 2:19pm Top

I've had my eye on the Patrick Ness series for quite some time now, but everytime I scan the YA shelves at the library, they always have the 2nd and the 3rd book in the series, never the first! I won't give up. One day, that darn book will show up. :)

Sep 18, 2012, 3:00pm Top

Good luck finding it Valerie. And I hope when you get to it, you enjoy it more than I did!

Heather - it was an incident that definitely wouldn't appear in the 2nd or 3rd book, as it couldn't be repeated. I can deal with a lot in books, but not so much that..........

Sep 18, 2012, 3:30pm Top

Jenny, I took my daughter who hadn't read the books to hear Patrick Ness talk a few years back when book 3 was about to appear. Unfortunately while he was a really interesting speaker, the question time included a huge spoiler for whoever hadn't read the first book. My daughter couldn't read more than the first few chapters as a result.

Heather, I haven't read A tree grows in Brooklyn yet either but have wondered if I'd have a similar, less enthusiastic, feeling towards it. I'll still read it but it is not a priority for me.

Hope you have a quiet recuperative time planned for your holidays.

Sep 18, 2012, 3:50pm Top

Heather, I've added the first two Patrick Ness books to the wishlist, along with A Monster Calls, which has been there since last year and which I should probably make time for very soon. I looked up Audible to see what they had of his, and the whole Chaos Walking trilogy is there, but I found the narrator had such a strongly accented American accent that I decided I'd be better off with the print version.

We obviously don't get to see many Persephone books on this side of the Atlantic, but the first one I "read" (listened to, actually) was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and I loved it so much I keep my eye out of their publications now and have several on the wishlist.

Sorry to hear things are so stressful at work these days. I'm curious to know what you do for work? Sounds like you'll definitely have deserved that holiday in October.

Sep 18, 2012, 5:49pm Top

Heather - I have the Chaos Walking trilogy in my TBR. Guess I need to bump it up.

I am sorry that work has been so consuming lately and was glad to hear that you have some time off coming up - Hooray! Until then hang in there; I will be sending positive thoughts your way.

Please pet the kitty for me.

Sep 19, 2012, 2:59am Top

#112 How frustrating Valerie! I hope the first book surprises you next time you visit the library.

#113 No, it couldn't be repeated with the same character - I did get a bit worried it might be repeated with a new one in the second book (I'm starting to wonder if we're talking about different things...)

#114 Oh no! I hate getting unexpected spoilers like that - sorry it ruined your daughter's enjoyment of the series. We're not going away whilst I'm off work but I did make a list a couple of weekends ago of nice things to do (other than reading which is a given).

#115 I think the print version of the Ness books might work better anyway, as (in the UK editions) they've done something quite clever with the text and fonts to show the 'noise'. And the illustrations in A Monster Calls add so much to the story - it won the Carnegie Medal (for a children's book) and the Kate Greenaway Medal (illustrations in a children's book) here which I don't think has happened before. There is some violence towards animals in the first book and one particular scene was quite hard to read because of the emotional impact. Just a warning, not sure if that would impact your decision to read it but I know you are a great lover of your furkids.

I am (duh, duh, duhhh) a tax accountant (which normally makes everyone's eyes glaze over). Half my role is getting all the annual income tax returns ready and filed for the organization I work for. They're due on the 30th of this month and there's one or two that I'm not sure will be ready in time.

#116 Thanks Mamie. I had to give the kitty lots of strokes yesterday as I was watching the antics of Maru who is a famously cute and silly kitty on youtube yesterday evening to destress and I think I may have hurt her feelings. I'll add some strokes from you and hopefully that will placate her.

Sep 19, 2012, 4:13am Top

I think we are talking about the same thing - a certain talking thing that wouldn't normally be talking.

It could indeed have been repeated with a different one and I'm glad to hear it didn't, but I still can't bring myself to reread the first!

Sep 19, 2012, 4:41am Top

*delurking* - I have got the Patrick Ness Trilogy on my TBR pile as well, hoping to read them by end of the year. Actually, I am planning to read them together with my son. I like your library - very extensive spread out over different genres. :)

Edited: Sep 20, 2012, 2:27am Top

Hi Heather, sorry to hear things are still so busy at work, but hang on in there for that break in October!

I typed a longish post a few days ago from my phone while sitting in a cafe, but must not have sent it properly because it does not appear here. I can't remember all that I was saying now, but it was something further about the ending of Death of a Ghost and other Allinghams etc. I think I was musing about what difference it makes with these Golden Era mystery writers that the death penalty was still in operation then; my impression is that in Christie and Sayers as well as Allingham the murderer quite often dies at the end - if not always as a result of going mad first, sometimes by suicide - and as the murderers are often from 'good families' is this partly about avoiding bringing shame on the family by pre-empting the trial and inevitable hanging. I do think the reality of the death penalty colours the books written in that era somehow, and that's one of the differences between them and more recent crime fiction in Britain.

Sep 19, 2012, 9:01pm Top

And earlier than the Golden Age mysteries, we often find even a murder being hushed up with the collusion of the (usually amateur or private) detective, to avoid shaming a "proud" family; suicide in plot resolution is very popular in this context.

I'm also noticing (particularly from female novelists, which is interesting) a horror of circumstantial evidence, often with the story told from the point of view of the innocent party, and again with the shadow of the dealth penalty in the background.

Sep 23, 2012, 11:44am Top

#118 Glad we were indeed talking about the same thing! I can understand not wanting to revisit that scene or the book as a whole.

#119 Thank you :-)

#120 & 121 Genny and Liz, thanks for your comments re Golden Age mysteries. I often forget that the death penalty still existed at that time and I think your points about wanting to avoid bringing shame on the family.

Liz, your point about circumstantial evidence made me stop and think. The last three Campion mysteries I've read have all featured circumstantial evidence and in each case Campion has only been able to try and bring the killer to justice by trying to trick the murderer into trying to kill Campion. Circumstantial evidence pointing towards an innocent person has also been a feature of the Anna Katharine Green stories I've read so far.

Sep 23, 2012, 12:02pm Top

Good news: I finished knitting a cover for my kindle this week and we have made progress in trying to persuade our kitty that she might like to sit on a lap and be stroked. She spent quite a lot of time in a cardboard box on my husband's lap yesterday and seemed to like it. I have pictures of both which I'll try and post when I'm on the right computer.

Bad news: One of my managers was made redundant on Friday which I've found rather distressing and discombobulating as he was in charge of all the deadlines we're supposed to meet this week. I don't know who, if anyone, is going to be taking over and there are several things that this manager needed to do or review this week if we're to meet those deadlines. It could be interesting....

Sep 23, 2012, 12:29pm Top

Maybe the company will find out he wasn't so redundant after all--but I'm sorry for all of you who have to deal with the aftermath.

Let us see your Kindle cover while you are at it, and MOST of us love kitty pictures!

Sep 23, 2012, 12:53pm Top

Oh, sorry to hear about your manager - that seems very bad timing in the middle of a busy period of deadlines. I hope someone emerges to take responsibility for the things he was meant to be doing, or at least that you are not left carrying the can without support...

Looking forward to photos of kindle kcover and kitty in kcardboard box!

Sep 23, 2012, 1:55pm Top

I think I spied that kindle cover on your Ravelry profile! Looks great!!

Sorry to hear about your manager too. We're going through some changes where I work as well, and I've found it very difficult emotionally as people leave, not to mention the challenge of picking up the work they leave behind.

Sep 23, 2012, 3:13pm Top

Hi Heather! Lots of wonderful reviews - trying to get caught up.

I'm sorry to hear about your manager as well. I hope it all works out.

I vote for kitten photos as well please. Thank you.

Sep 23, 2012, 7:36pm Top

Kitteh photos? - yes!!

Heather, I've just read Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Man In Lower Ten, which turns completely on the misleading nature of circumstantial evidence - it's narrated by the most guilty-looking (but most innocent) of three suspects to whom the evidence points.

Sep 23, 2012, 8:58pm Top

Could have sworn that I posted here earlier today, but I am not seeing it. Sorry to hear about the manager situation - hope it does't result in more work and stress for you. And I would LOVE to see your new Kindle cover that you made. And YES to pictures of the kitty!!

*sits down to wait patiently*

Sep 24, 2012, 4:29pm Top

Kindle kcover and kitty in kcardboard box photos as promised.

Kitty in the box on a lap is a huge leap forward. We'd tried it before but she'd always jumped out of the box after a few minutes but suddenly she can't get enough of it and she spent most of this evening in her box on my husband's lap getting stroked! Box courtesy of our fruit and veg delivery people who won't be getting this box back to reuse...

Thanks for the work sympathy. I think it will take a while for things to settle down for everyone emotionally but our filing deadlines look like they will be met this week although I have had to postpone my day off tomorrow (again - grr) but I will take it later this week.

#128 Liz, that's three books in the last two days that I've downloaded to my kindle because of you? Ok, they were all free but it's the principle of the thing! Oh, and thank you.

Sep 24, 2012, 4:41pm Top

Love the cat pictures

Reminds me of the hours and HOURS we spent taming our 'mummycat' (called Luna) to accept cuddles and learn how to play. We used to put the cats to bed and then get up at about 1.30am to play with her as she was best at night.

Four years and one litter of kittens later, she is a joy now. Still won't tolerate 'up cuddles' and will only have strokes, lap cuddles etc under her terms, but she loves bedtime snuggles and actually purrs now.

Fingers crossed that your girl does as well. She looks so happy in the box.

Sep 24, 2012, 4:59pm Top

>130 souloftherose:: awww! love the kitty photo. Is this a new kitty, is that why you are trying to court her? We have three cats and I was just thinking the other day how the one who is now most attached to my lap was once the most aloof. He was a stray and never quite fit in with our other cats or the humans, but after much effort he became my buddy. Looks like you are doing the same with your kitty.

Somehow when I looked at those photos I couldn't help myself and imagined putting the kindle sleeve on the kitty ...

Sep 24, 2012, 5:05pm Top

Oooh, fancy cables on that sleeve--very nice. And lovely kitty pictures--so good to see her lapping up the attention.

Sep 24, 2012, 5:07pm Top

Heather, your Kindle cover is beautiful, and I LOVE the color. How fabulous! And the dear, sweet kitty photos are so dear - look how happy and relaxed she looks! Wishing you complete success with your kitty therapy. Thanks for sharing the photos.

Sep 24, 2012, 5:11pm Top

Very cute cat photos - we used to get Abel & Cole deliveries too. Very nice kindle cover as well.

Sep 24, 2012, 6:01pm Top

Cute kitty photos! :)

Sep 25, 2012, 11:18am Top

I love the Kindle Kover cover and the kitty pictures. I always wanted a tortoiseshell cat but don't tell Phoebe that! Phoebe's not all that keen on being stroked either but will tolerate it to get a place on our laps when she has cold feet!

Sorry to hear about your manager. I could empathise at length but won't as the internet is not really the best place to discuss work problems in detail, is it?! Just know that I feel your pain ;)

I posted The Pendragon Legend this afternoon so hopefully you should receive it soon.

Sep 25, 2012, 9:38pm Top

Sorry to hear about the work situation, heather. Hopefully that's the end of the cuts.

Your kitty looks very cozy, your husband must have a lot of patience to sit there all evening with the box on his lap.

Sep 25, 2012, 10:52pm Top

I'm sorry that you're having to make the best of a bad situation at work. Times are hard.
Love the box cat idea. That might work for our two stand-offish girls, assuming that we could get them in the box! They both love to be petted and brushed, but not when the bottom of the cat is in contact with any part of human anatomy.
And a knitted Kindle cover! It's great!! Why didn't I think of that???!!!??? I will look into it!

Sep 26, 2012, 6:48pm Top

Love the Kindle cover Heather, and agree that's some fancy cable action! I don't think I ever got as far as cables in my very humble knitting skills! The kitty-in-the-box photos are dear. What is it anyway with cats and cardboard? They just can't seem to get enough of it. She looks a lot like my Ezra. He's a grey tabby I guess?, but his tummy is caramel coloured and his chin is an off-white. Mimi spends all night every night sleeping on top of me, but for some reason she refuses to sit on my lap in the daytime and instead will sit on the table practically on top of my mouse for hours sometimes when I'm on the computer, purring all the while. Such strange and fascinating creatures they are.

Definitely agree print books are the way to go with Ness.

Once again, so sorry about all the pressures at work. I was going to say that if anything, it seems there's always work to be had for accountants (or apparently that's the case here), but that doesn't seem to be the rule in your parts, considering the fate of your manager... but then, maybe he was not an accountant himself?

Hope you can get some quality R&R this coming weekend.

Sep 28, 2012, 11:38pm Top

Heather - Thanks for the pictures. I hope work gets less stressful.

Sep 29, 2012, 7:14pm Top

Hi Heather - Thanks for sharing the kitty photos! I'm glad she's settling in. I hope work stuff improves. Take care.

Sep 29, 2012, 9:56pm Top

So sorry about your work situation! I hope you find solace in the books you read and that they can be a form of escape during this stressfilled time.


Edited: Sep 29, 2012, 11:49pm Top

Heather I hope that stresses and strains of work are a thing of no consequence during a perfect weekend for you.

Sep 30, 2012, 4:05am Top

Just dropping in Heather to say Happy Sunday! I should be preparing something for our Harvest Service which starts in 1.5 hours, but I'm just spending 5 minutes on LT first!

Sep 30, 2012, 6:40am Top

((Hugs)) to Heather

Sep 30, 2012, 10:38am Top

#131 Thanks Jenny. It's good to hear you were able to make such good progress with your mummy cat. Ours has been enjoying a lot more time lying in her box on a lap and being stroked. She also now lets us sit quite close to her on the same chair and stroke her. I think these will always be things that have to be done on her terms rather than ours but I think she's starting to see the advantages of some of these things!

#132 Laura, we've had our Erica for two years (almost exactly). She was about one when she came to us; she'd been picked up as a stray by the Cats Protection League with three kittens in tow, very underweight and wary of humans (they managed to get the kittens quite easily but apparently it took ages for them to coax her in to a humane trap). She's been slowly increasing in confidence and becoming happier since we got her. For the first two weeks after we brought her home she would only come out from her hiding place once we'd gone to bed and for months after that she would run back to her hiding place whenever we moved too suddenly (we have wooden flooring and you could hear her paws scrabbling for purchase if you got up from a chair too quickly). She's happy now and has been for a while so I suppose we're trying to persuade her laps might be worth considering purely for selfish reasons - but she would get lots of strokes!

Good to hear you were successful with your own kitty friendship programme!

Whilst I think it would be amusing to try putting the kindle cover on the kitty I think she would have other ideas....

#133 Thanks Roni!

#134 Thank you Mamie! Green is my favourite colour and I really like the particular shade of the wool I used.

#135 Thanks Rhian. I really like the way Abel and Cole do things - they're really good about recycling and reusing all their packinging (when their customers don't keep the box for their cats to play in that is!)

#136 Thanks Rachel!

#137 Thanks for the kind comments and the book Dee :-) Erica's markings are somewhere between tabby stripes and tortoiseshell I think - I've not seen another cat like that. Here's a photo that shows her colouring a bit better - this is one we call 'the meerkat'

#138 Thanks Judy. The pattern of the last few years has been that there's normally a reasonably long gap after they do a big round of cust like this - I'm going to hope that's the case this time too.

#139 Thanks Peggy. I hope the box trick works with your cat companions. The pattern I used to knit the cover is here. I will say that the hardest bit of the pattern for me was the cast on method she recommends which took me a while to get the hang of, although once you can do I can see why it's useful as it meant no sewing up was required (which is the bit I like least about any knitting project!)

#140 Thanks Ilana. That's funny about Mimi trying to sit on your mouse - Erica doesn't do that to me but she will do it to Dan when he's working. I think it would be very unusual for any company to get rid of all its accountants (especially as the firm I work for is an accounting and consultancy firm) but everyone seems to be trying to cut back on the number of staff they have in all areas to try and cut costs and increase profits at the moment. Hopefully my manager will be able to find another job soon.

#141-146 Thanks for the kind thoughts Beth, Kerri, Linda, Genny and Stasia :-) (Genny, I hope you got your harvest service prepped in time.?)

I've been resting and relaxing the last few days. I managed to take Thursday and Friday off in lieu of the couple of extra days I worked and then yesterday we drove up to see Dan's aprents in Coventry as his aunt and uncle were visiting from Alabama. We got back home in the wee hours of this morning so today I'm resting again to recover. Lots of family news and plans to digest - all good things, just slowly processing them in my head. One of them is that we might be going to Alabama next year for Dan's cousin's wedding....

Sep 30, 2012, 1:32pm Top

Oh what a marvelous photo of Erica.

Hope things will settle down now.

Sep 30, 2012, 5:06pm Top

Love Erica in her 'meerkat' pose, and glad to hear she's enjoying her box cuddles. Mummycat also had a favourite hiding place underneath a book case and had to be extracted at regular intervals.

She also went up the inside of the central post of our dining table, which took some doing to get her out of!

Edited: Oct 7, 2012, 9:25am Top

#148 Thanks Lucy. I hope so too, but either way, I have two weeks off work in a week which I expect will help!

#149 "She also went up the inside of the central post of our dining table, which took some doing to get her out of!" Yikes! Happily Erica never managed to find a hiding place where I didn't think we could reach her if we needed to.. inside the house anyway. She did leap out of the windows on a couple of occasions and then couldn't figure out how to get back into the flat (she'd never been out through the front door at that point). Not easy to coax a cat back inside when she's not sure about you getting close to her...

Just finished my last September book so I'm going to try and do a quick catch-up on all the books read this month that I haven't mentioned yet.

Lots of series and sequels this month.

Book #133 - The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones - 4 stars - A sort of sequel to Deep Secret as it's set in the same series of parallel worlds and features some of the same characters however you don't need to have read Deep Secret first.

Book #134 - Dear Enemy by Jean Webster - 3.8 stars - A sequel to Daddy Long Legs which is a favourite of mine. Not quite as good as Daddy Long Legs but a good old-fashioned story which I enjoyed even if the ending is quite obvious if you've read these sort of books before.

Book #135 - Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson - 4.1 stars - The second volume in KSR's absorbing trilogy about the future terraforming of Mars. This is slow moving and incredibly detailed but to me, this is one of the strengths of this trilogy as it makes everything seem so real. Rightly described on the cover as a 'future history', it feels like KSR is writing an account of something that has really happened.

Book #136 - Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham - 3.7 stars - Another Albert Campion mystery, this time involving a mysterious locked-room death in a London publishing house. Following my discussions with Liz and Genny above, I should probably also note that there was a lot of circumstantial evidence which may well have led to the conviction of an innocent person if it hadn't been for Campion. Also, a lot of courtroom scenes which I think is a first for Campion and reminded me again of Anna Katherine Green (I have to find out whether Allingham read or was influenced by Green at some point).

DNF - A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller - 2 stars - Quite disappointing, especially as I received this for review from Waterstones and now have to try and expain why I didn't like it. Julia Keller has won a Pulitzer Prize for her journalism and based on that, I'd expected this crime novel to be more of a literary crime novel, whereas it felt more like a generic thriller that never managed to be very thrilling. I gave it 100 pages and then abandoned it.

Book #137 - Smashing Saxons by Terry Deary - 3.5 stars - Read so that I could pass on to Dee for her son's collection and so that I could fit it into one of this month's TIOLI challenges. I fidn the Saxons quite confusing so this was both helpful and horrible.

Book #138 - Dodger by Terry Pratchett - 3.3 stars - Rather disappointing. This is Pratchett's latest offering for older children/young adults set in an alternative Victorian London featuring Charles Dickens, Henry Mayhew and Pratchett's imagined inspiration for the Artful Dodger. The setting was great and all the descriptive writing was what I've come to expect from Pratchett but I found the dialogue throughout the book felt very stilted and flat although I couldn't really work out why. It's something I experienced to a lesser extent in Snuff and I'm now feeling a bit worried that there's been a change in Pratchett's writing that I don't like as much as his old style. It might be a more enjoyable read for someone who isn't expecting a certain style - I couldn't say whether I didn't like it because I thought it was a bad style or just not what I was expecting. It did leave me wanting to read Henry Mayhew.

Book #139 - Enemy of God by Bernard Cornwell - 3.7 stars - This is the second book in Cornwell's Warlord trilogy which is a gritty retelling of the King Arthur legend set in 5th century Britain. Whilst I found the first book in the series took a little while to get going this one picked up the pace straight away. Although this isn't my favourite retelling of the Arthur legend, I'm enjoying Conrwell's alternative take on the characters and events of the legend. I'm hoping to read the final book, Excalibur in October.

Book #140 - The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham - 3.5 stars - Another Campion mystery! This instalment in the series is unusual in that it's narrated throughout by Albert Campion in the first person. This gives the story a different feel to the other books although it does mean that there are lots of 'I didn't realise the significance of this until later' moments. My favourite bits of the book were the ongoing bickerings/arguments between Albert Campion and his manservant Lugg which were priceless.

Book #141 - Summer Lightning by P. G. Wodehouse - 3.8 stars - A reread of one of Wodehouse's Blandings stories. A jolly caper featuring stolen pigs, the return of the Efficient Baxter, the threatened publication of Galahad Threepwood's scandalous memoirs and, of course, several imposters. Not my favourite Blandings novel but still good fun.

Book #142 - The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff - 4.5 stars

Book #143 - A Long Walk to Wimbledon by H. R. F. Keating - 3.7 stars

Book #144 - The Valley of Fear by Arthur Conan Doyle - 3.8 stars - The fourth and final novel in Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes series, this was the 7th published book but the events described take place before The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The Valley of Fear is made up of two parts; the first is a very good locked room mystery and the second part follows the format of the second half of The Study in Scarlet and gives the backstory to the crime. I've rated it slightly under four stars because the second half feels slightly too similar to A Study in Scarlet and because of the way The Valley of Fear fails to make good use of Moriarty as a character.

Book #145 - The Fire Gospel by Michel Faber - 2.5 stars - I really don'y feel like I understood what Faber was trying to do here. To me it felt like Faber had had an idea and then tried to shoehorn that idea into a retelling of the Prometheus legend to fit the requirements of the series.

Sep 30, 2012, 7:47pm Top

Heather - You did a lot of reading in September. I should start Allingham one of these days. I'm not familiar with the Sherriff book, so I look forward to your comments on that.

Oct 1, 2012, 12:55pm Top

Smiling at the Horrible History book. I loved them as a kid, read all of them I could get my sticky, grubby little fingers on. I should read them again for some light reading sometimes!

Oct 1, 2012, 6:55pm Top

Hi Heather, I love the Albert Campion books, unfortunately I find they are not all that easy to find. Luckily, I have a couple tucked away that I hope to get to soon.

Oct 2, 2012, 10:31am Top

Quick catch-up :

Great looking book haul. Hope work looks up.
Wonderful work with your meerkat Erica. ;)
I like your knitting, but the most I've ever done was 10 rows, which looked more like the second picture, with the cover half on your Kindle - I tend(ed - haven't bothered since I was a teen) to cast on too tightly, worry I was dropping stitches, and then pick them up instead.
I've seen other comments about Pratchett's writing not being as good as before; apparently he has Alzheimer's?

Oct 2, 2012, 10:59am Top

Many thanks for the pattern link, Heather. I've done the magic loop, and the idea of no-needle cables is so obvious that I am chagrined that I never tried it. I joined ravelry, and then have never gone back until just now. Oh my!
Why don't I read as much as you???? I agree about KSR's Mars books being future history. It's almost bound to be just as he describes!
I try to love Albert Campion, but I never do. *sigh* I kind of like Lug, but that's not enough to send me back to them.

Oct 2, 2012, 11:26am Top

What is the Persephone up there - is it The Fortnight in September? (Can't quite read the title). Is it a good one?

Oct 2, 2012, 12:24pm Top

Well, I had written some more brief thoughts on another three of the books in msg #150 and then an inadvertent click of the mouse took me to another web page before I'd posted them and I'm feeling too grumpy about it to rewrite them straight away. Bah!

#151 Thanks Beth. The Sherriff book was wonderful so I may do a slightly longer review to do it justice. It's already crept up from 4.3 to 4.5 stars since I finished it.

#152 They are good fun Jenny (although I think I'm a bit too old to have read them when I was younger). I remember loving the Usborne non-fiction books as child which were slightly less horrible but really good at giving you lots of fascinating facts about all kinds of subjects.

#153 Judy, the Campion books were recently republished in the UK by Vintage although I've made it a bit harder for myself by trying to get the old Penguin copies. If you're finding them difficult to get hold of in the US then I guess they must not have been republished there which is a shame. I'm considering replacing some of my copies so that I have matching editions where possible. If I do end up with spares or duplicates of any of them I'll let you know.

#154 Hi Nina. Yes, Pratchett does have early onset Alzheimer's. He's written a number of books since his diagnosis and I haven't noticed a difference in his writing style in most of them (although I've seen a lot of comments from others saying that they can tell the Alzheimer's has affected his writing). More recently he has been writing his books by dictation which I could imagine might make a difference to someone's writing style but the consensus on amazon.co.uk seems to be that Dodger is a return to form for Pratchett after the travesty that was The Long Earth whereas I really enjoyed The Long Earth but wasn't very impressed with Dodger. Who knows?

#155 You're welcome Peggy. It feels fitting to be reading the Mars Trilogy whilst following Curiosity's progress on Mars via facebook. I think I'm the other way round, I like Campion and Lug but I always feel like I haven't quite fallen in love with Lord Peter Wimsey as much as Sayers' expected me to.

#156 Genny, yes it's The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff and I thought it was wonderful!

Oct 2, 2012, 4:55pm Top

I added a whole bunch of Persephone books to my wishlist last week, even though they are very expensive to get over here. A Fortnight in September is among those I added, so I look forward to your notes on it.

Such a bummer losing messages, I know!

I too love the photo of Erica posing as a meerkat. Such a cutie! (the meerkat is pretty cute too!)

Oct 2, 2012, 10:08pm Top

Looks like I enjoyed The Fire Gospel a tiny bit more than you as I'd give it 3 stars, I sort of enjoyed the book tour part enough to drown out the rest of the book. I'm finding Byatt's Ragnarok from the same series a real drag to read, I'm sure it's my mood rather than the book.
I loved The Merlin Conspiracy, have already gobbled up Enchanted Glass and have made a start on Deep Secret.

Oct 3, 2012, 4:42am Top

Those Horrible Saxons arrived safely - thanks, Heather!

Oct 3, 2012, 11:58am Top

Hi Heather, I'm all caught up once again. Sorry to hear about your work stress. My husband was a CPA for over 30 years and found it quite stressful. He likes being a small business owner much better.

It's great to see your progress with Erica. I love that picture of her in the box with her paw over her eye as if to say, "This petting business isn't so bad if I don't have to watch!" I also love your knitted Kindle cover. You could easily market those if you want a new career. ;-)

Oct 3, 2012, 4:04pm Top

Heather, thanks for the news about the reissuing of the Campion books. I just checked The Book Depository and they have a number of them. Now I just need an excuse to order a pile of books!

Oct 3, 2012, 4:13pm Top

Woot, I have caught up on your thread! Wow you did tons of reading in September. I loved Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy when I was a kid and must get them out of the library to re-read them.

Very cool about Alabama - whereabouts would you be? Tim and I did a roadtrip through the south ten years ago but most of it was Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana - it is such an enormous country! But it still gave us a good feel for the south. The southern food was amazing (and my arteries have recovered now).

Oct 4, 2012, 9:03am Top

Judy, for your birthday, I'd like you to order a heap of Campion books. Excuse enough?

Cushla - took you 10 years for your arteries to recover? I'm not surprised.

Oct 4, 2012, 12:55pm Top

Heather, it looks like you had a fine month of reading in September! Sorry to hear about all the stress you are going through at work. Hopefully even if it is stressful, you are able to leave it at the office once you are home.
Love the cover (design and colour) for your e-reader!

Oct 5, 2012, 1:12pm Top

#164 - I'm on it, Nina!

Oct 5, 2012, 1:14pm Top

Hi Heather,
Love the kindle cover (and envious of your knitting skills). Glad you enjoyed Green Mars. I love that series, although they can be slow going at times. Agree with you totaly about how realistic they feel, that's their chief strength I think.

Oct 6, 2012, 1:38pm Top

HOLIDAY!! I have the next two weeks off work :-) Feels like my body has been in wind-down mode for the last week and has been feeling tired in anticipation of having time off so I haven't done much except read for the last week which has been nice, but I'm now even more behind with book reviews! I'm going to try and rest this weekend, catch up on TV, knitting and LT .

#158 Hi Ilana. Persephones aren't cheap, but they're so well designed that they feel worth it. Unfortunately the good quality paper and covers probably make them even more expensive to get hold of overseas due to the shipping costs. If you sign up to their mailing list they sometimes email about special offers. Last year they had a buy three books and receive one free which was the offer I used to get The Fortnight in September last year. Otherwise I think the book depository used to have them available to readers overseas?

#159 Hi Kerry. I had mixed feelings about The Fire Gospel - the book tour parts were good and the amazon reviews were hilarious but I'm not convinced about the book as a whole. That's a shame about Ragnarok - I'd thought A. S. Byatt's take might make for a good read.

#160 Glad to hear it arrived safely Dee!

#161 Hi Donna. I think I'd find running my own business more stressful - I like being 'just' a junior employee even though the pressure from above can get a bit much sometimes, but my husband really enjoys being a freelancer.

#162 Hooray! Always happy to enable other people to make their TBR piles bigger :-)

#163 Cushla, Daddy Long Legs and Dear Enemy are both out of copyright so you should be able to download free copies from the Girlebooks website or Project Gutenberg.

I recently saw a review of When Patty Went to College which is part of another short series of books written by Jean Webster so I've downloaded a copy of that too.

We don't know any details about the wedding yet as they haven't set a date but Dan's uncle and aunt live in Huntsville, Alabama so I think it would probably in that area. If we can save up enough pennies then hopefully we might be able to do a bit of a road trip after the wedding - when I looked on google maps there seemed to be a couple of National Parks nearby (although driving on the wrong side of the road seems scary to me!). Ten years for your arteries to recover? Oh dear.

#164 "Judy, for your birthday, I'd like you to order a heap of Campion books. Excuse enough?" Good call Nina!

#165 Thanks Valerie. Things seemed less stressful this last week which was good. I need to try and remember not to be too busy at the weekends too because I get stressed much more quickly when I'm tired.

#167 Hi Hannah. I'm hoping to get to Blue Mars soon. They are slow books, but not in a bad way - I don't find myself counting how many pages I have left to read which is normally a sign that a book isn't holding my interest well.

Oct 6, 2012, 1:40pm Top

Yay for holiday time! I hope you have a lovely rest away from work, and that you get lots read :)

Oct 6, 2012, 2:39pm Top

Enjoy your holiday! Relax, relax, relax.

Oct 6, 2012, 3:05pm Top

Hi Heather! I must do a reread of the Mars Trilogy. It's some of my favorite science fiction on earth. I also love his novel A Memory of Whiteness. He's a gem.

Have a lovely weekend!

Oct 8, 2012, 8:56am Top

#169-171 Thanks Jenny, Roni and Kerri :-)

I've finally finished writing up some very sparse thoughts on the books read in September in msg #150 above and have also set out some more detailed thoughts below on The Fortnight in September and A Long Walk to Wimbledon which are both books which I think ought to be more well know.

I have a bit of a sore throat today and it's grey and drizzly outside so I'm going to curl up on the sofa this afternoon and catch up on the last few weeks of Downton Abbey :-)

Book #142 The Fortnight in September by R. C. Sherriff - 4.5 stars
Source: Persephone books
Original publication date: 1931

The Fortnight in September is a story about "about simple, uncomplicated people doing normal things." as the author himself described it in his autobiography. We follow the Stevens family on their annual fortnight's holiday to Bognor Regis in the 1930s. This fortnight in Bognor is an annual ritual, starting with the evening before going away, the journey to Bognor by train, their stay in the same house in Bognor every year and even including the amount of food and drink they buy which has been calculated to a nicety based on how much they required in previous years.

There are some changes this year, however. The two eldest children, Mary and Dick, now have jobs and income of their own and have contributed some of their money towards the cost of the holiday meaning the Stevens can rent one of the large beach huts to change in and sit on the veranda when on the beach. The lady who runs Seaview, the house they always stay in, is getting rather elderly and struggling to cope and the Stevens start to notice how run down Seaview is becoming. There's a sense that this may be the last family holiday they have all together at this house so there is a sense of impending change throughout the book and also a sense of nostalgia towards the many years they've enjoyed this holiday together. But there's also a sense of hope as Dick Stevens thinks about his future career and what he wants to do with his life, Mary Stevens falls in love for the first time and even Mr Stevens is able to come to terms with some past disappointments.

"The man on his holidays becomes the man he might have been, the man he could have been, had things worked out a little differently. All men are equal on their holidays: all are free to dream their castles without thought of expense, or skill of architect. Dreams based upon such delicate fabric must be nursed with reverence and held away from the crude light of tomorrow week."

There are some wonderful moments of quiet humour, such as Mr Stevens reaction to the holiday photos when developed, or the description of the large, soulless holiday house one of Mr Stevens' clients has had built for him and his wife which they had wanted to be a seaside house despite the fact that 'the sound of the sea got on Mrs. Montgomery's nerves'.

The story ends as the Stevens say goodbye to Bognor and Seaview at the end of their fortnight there and I was very sorry to leave them. This isn't the sort of story where much happens but it is a wonderful observation of the hopes and dreams of ordinary people. Recommended.

Book #143 A Long Walk to Wimbledon by H. R. F. Keating - 3.8 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date: 1978

H. R. F. Keating is an author who's been on my radar for a while. He wrote mainly crime fiction and books about crime fiction, perhaps most well know for his Inspector Ghote series and Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books, but he also wrote one novel which is probably best described as science fiction, A Long Walk to Wimbledon published in 1978. Thanks to Bloomsbury, this novel is now back in print along with most of Keating's crime fiction.

A Long Walk to Wimbledon is set in a London where society has almost completely broken down. Large parts of Oxford Street have been reduced to rubble, packs of feral dogs roam the parks and the remaining inhabitants of London have withdrawn into small communities within the city. Nobody travels to other parts of the country or even to other parts of London; food, clothing, water and power are found locally or not at all. So Mark is surprised to hear his telephone ring one day and to hear the voice of his mother-in-law on the other end of the line; even more surprised when she tells him that his ex-wife, Jasmine, is dying and that Jasmine's dying request is to see Mark. Mark is unable to bring himself to refuse to go despite his fears of what he may encounter on the journey, so he sets out to walk from Highgate in North London, to Wimbledon across the river in order to get to Jasmine before she dies. A Long Walk to Wimbledon is a book about Mark's journey, both in the sense that it describes the physical obstacles he has to overcome but also that it shows us Mark's thoughts and outlook and how his forced journey challenges those. We never really find out what happened to leave London and (one assumes) the rest of the country in this state but the clues Keating gives seem to indicate that the collapse of society was caused by nothing supernatural or other-worldly, just normal, everyday people losing the desire to make society work.

"Now he knew with conviction that what lay ahead for him beyond any conjuring away was uncertainty. The territory he had pledged himself to make his way through was not simply a dangerous world. The journey facing him was not just a long walk where he would have to keep constantly alert, but which if he managed so much he might reasonably hope to complete with no more than some bad scares. No, ahead, he knew now, lay anything.

His world was at the mercy of the unmotivated.

Perhaps it had really been so for years. Perhaps that was what gradually, over as much as a century even, had been creeping up from beneath into the secure organised society which he had been brought up to believe he was living in and was entitled to live in his whole life long. The unmotivated."

A well-written, thought-provoking book that has definitely left me wanting to read more of Keating's books.

Oct 8, 2012, 9:12am Top

Nice review of the Wimbledon book, Heather. That sounds quite intriguing.

Oct 8, 2012, 12:41pm Top

I've got A Fortnight in September sitting next to my bed. I really must get around to it soon.

Oct 8, 2012, 12:46pm Top

I like the sound of the Keating a lot. Onto the wishlist it goes!

Oct 8, 2012, 1:53pm Top

So glad you liked Green Mars so much -- I feel so much the way you do - that it is sounds like history.

Oct 8, 2012, 11:29pm Top

A couple of very good reviews Heather. I've compared prices between Persephone and BookDepository and the latter is definitely a better deal, though still far from a great deal. I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet eventually and order some of their books anyway. Not that there aren't options... I've got some 20 of their titles on my wishlist so far!

Oct 9, 2012, 1:59am Top


I'll let you know if my mum and I go to London any time soon, as we always stop by the Persephone bookshop and they usually have special offers for buying in store. I'd be happy to pick one up and send it to you :)

Oct 9, 2012, 5:15am Top

#173 Thanks Julia!

#174 Rhian, I had my copy for about a year before I got round to reading it. I suddenly decided I needed to read it in September :-)

#175 Hope you enjoy it Jenny :-)

#177 & 178 Oh, that's a good idea Jenny. Ilana, I'm hoping to go to the Persephone shop next week if that's of interest?

So, time off work and feeling rather anxious and not able to sleep - why brain, why? More Downton Abbey required I think.

Oct 9, 2012, 8:38am Top

Heather, which day are you thinking of going to Persephone Books?

Oct 9, 2012, 9:20am Top

>172 souloftherose:: Keating hasn't been on my radar, either for his crime novels or otherwise. Your review of A Long Walk to Wimbledon fixes that. Thanks!

Oct 9, 2012, 1:02pm Top

I haven't heard of either of your last two reviewed books, Heather!

Thanks for your wonderful reviews. :)

Oct 9, 2012, 7:41pm Top

Hi Heather,
I am secretly drawn to The Fortnight in September, party because of the minimalist cover, and partly because of the first sentence of your review! But I simply cannot add any books to my this years reading list.....so if I see that it is at the library I will get it and read it super duper uber fast so that it barely has time to even make a dent.

Oct 9, 2012, 9:21pm Top

#178 That's so nice of you to offer Jenny! That would be lovely!

#179 Yes, definitely of interest Heather, thanks! As I said, I have some 20 of their books or so on my wishlist, though I'm sure there are more that would interest me. There are a very few that are available at the library, and a couple which are available on audio for a really good deal, but I've got all the Dorothy Whipples on my wishlist, and am also keen to get my hands on Miss Buncle's Book, and The Fortnight in September. But anything you'd choose would probably great. Did you say they sometimes have a 4 for 3 deal, or did I see that somewhere else? You can view the Persephone entries I've got here on LT to see which titles I've already got, etc.

Hope you can get some decent sleep!

Oct 10, 2012, 12:09pm Top

#180 Luci, we haven't made firm plans for next week yet so I don't really know except to say that it won't be Wednesday as that's the one day we do have other plans.

#181 Hooray! I think A Long Walk to Wimbledon deserves far more than the 6 copies currently listed on LT (hmm, sure there were 3 or 4 before I posted my review - it's working already!)

#182 You're welcome Valerie!

#183 Not so secretly any more Megan! That sounds like a plan - I hope there's a copy at the library for you :-)

#184 Thanks Ilana. I sent you a pm about the Persephone books. I slept better last night and yet I am still tired. I always underestimate how tired I feel for the first week of any time off work.

Oct 10, 2012, 2:25pm Top

Glad you slept better--I did too! Just don't do what I always did back in college--as soon as I could relax at a break, I got sick with a cold. Letting down just a little TOO much.

Oct 10, 2012, 2:36pm Top

I might be able to come and meet you if it's a day when I have childcare, ie not Wednesday or Thursday. Otherwise, I'll probably try and get down there some time next month.

Oct 10, 2012, 5:41pm Top

Hi Heather! For once I'm all caught up with you. Erica looks so cute in her meerkat pose. Except for her white paws she looks a lot like my Willie - but with a nicer expression. Thumbed your The Fortnight in September review, but it's the Wimbledon book that's gone on my wish list. Sounds very good.

Hope you've been enjoying your time off. I've been on vacation this week, myself and am shocked at how completely worthless I've been so far.

Oct 11, 2012, 2:24pm Top

#186 "Just don't do what I always did back in college--as soon as I could relax at a break, I got sick with a cold" Sadly, I didn't completely escape the beginning of holidays cold but it hasn't been too bad - just left me a bit sniffly.

#187 Luci, I'll let you know when we plan to come - we'll probably only decide the day before depending on how we're feeling.

#188 Hi Charlotte! Erica is a cutie although she can be very stubborn when she wants to be - she went into a massive sulk first thing this morning to the point where I actually started to worry she was ill or in pain. Turns out she just wanted my husband to get up (he's the cat whisperer) and then she was all happy again. I felt very underappreciated - I'd spent about 15 mins stroking her trying to get her in a better mood (or tell me what was wrong) before I'd even had my first cup of tea!

Some October reviews:

Book #146 Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith - 3.5 stars
Source: Reread
Original publication date: 2001

Alexander McCall Smith's series about the adventures of a female private investigator in Botswana is one of my favourite easy reading/comfort series. They're gentle reads that always leave me with a strong impression of life in Botswana. I didn't think this one was as strong as the first two books although there were still many moments that brought a smile to my face; my favourite was the way Mma Makutsi took charge of the previously feckless apprentices when she was asked to take charge of Speedy Motors temporarily.

Book #147 His Last Bow: Some Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle - 4.3 stars
Source: Reread
Original publication date: 1917

Another reread - this is the penultimate collection of Sherlock Holmes stories and I finished feeling slightly sad that there's only one book left of my reread, but also looking forward to reading some of the non-Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes' sequels that I've picked up next year. Like the earlier Holmes' novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, the stories in this collection often have a hint of the supernatural, at least until Sherlock Holmes solves the cases. The last story, His Last Bow is more of a straight spy/adventure story written and published during WWI which ends with the very quote below:

"There's an east wind coming all the same, such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither before its blast. But it's God's own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared."

Oct 11, 2012, 8:27pm Top

I have to speak, Heather, but that's all I can do. I'm so far behind on your thread that I'm never going to catch up even if all I do is read your reviews (always) and troll for how you are. Vacationing! That's good!! A little cold? That's bad. I'm also the cold during breaks person - I think it used to be so that I could guarantee myself some reading time.
I didn't know that HRFK wrote anything but mysteries. Thanks for the info and the good review!!
I'll never collect Persephones although I love the look of the gray covers. Oh well.

Oct 12, 2012, 1:52pm Top

Hi Heather - looks like you are enjoying some nice comforting re-reads. I've just read an Alexander McCall Smith too, one of the 44 Scotland Street series - he's good for when you need something light but heart-warming.

I hope you are feeling a bit less tired and that the cold has not taken hold too much.

I'd heard of HRF Keating but not the Long Walk to Wimbledon - that does sound like an interesting one. Where did you first learn about it?

Edited: Oct 14, 2012, 5:55pm Top

Great reviews and tempting looking (in every sense) books here Heather.
What exactly are Persephone books? Is it something like The Folio Society? I recently came into some lovely Folio Society editions and I could develop quite a taste for these wonderful special edition books. I love the look of The Fortnight in September. I can just picture it looking awesome on my bookshelf.....

Oct 14, 2012, 2:02pm Top

Hi Heather! More lovely, helpful reviews. The Fortnight in September will go on my wishlist. Also, I will most certainly see if my library has Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books, which you mentioned in a review above. I'm fairly new to the genre (this year) and don't have a clear sense of what are considered to be the "greats" of the genre.

Oct 15, 2012, 11:59am Top

#190 Peggy, thank you for the kind words about the cold. (Your trolling comment made me smile - I can't imagine anyone less like a troll!) The cold keeps getting better and lulling me into a false sense of security and then returning when I least expect it. Today is a coldy day again but then we had quite a busy (and fun) weekend so perhaps it's my body's way of saying to take a rest. I also have two library books to finish by tomorrow so it's a good excuse to ignore the housework for a bit longer and curl up on the sofa :-)

#191 Genny, re A Long Walk to Wimbledon, I'm not 100% sure where I first heard of it. I think it was part of a kindle sale last autumn (yes, that's how long it had been waiting for me to read it) and as I recognised the author and the imprint I googled the title to see what sort of book it was. I couldn't find any detailed reviews but it was mentioned in a couple of places and the consensus seemed to be that it was worth reading so I bought a copy.

#192 Thanks Hannah! Persephone books reprint 'neglected fiction and non-fiction by twentieth century (mostly women) writers.' Their books are beautifully made and very distinctive with the matching grey covers and specially chosen endpapers but you don't need to be a member as you do (I think) for the Folio Society in order to buy their books. They have a shop near Great Ormond Street in London which sells their books, otherwise you can order direct from their website here, or from amazon or the book depository, however you don't get the matching bookmarks with the books if you don't order from them direct.

"I could develop quite a taste for these wonderful special edition books." Yes, they're quite dangerous in that respect!

#193 Glad I could help Kerri :-) There's a LT page for the books included in Keating's 100 best crime and mystery books here. I've read surprisingly few of them - it would certainly be interesting to read his arguments for each book's inclusion (and with only 100 books it wouldn't seem quite as overwhelming as the 1,001 books list)

Oct 15, 2012, 1:10pm Top

Book #148 A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs - 3.5 stars
Source: Free kindle book
Original publication date: 1912 as a serial, 1917 as a novel

"With my back against a golden throne, I fought once again for Dejah Thoris."

Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars is an old-fashioned adventure story, in a similar style to King Solomon's Mines but set, as the title suggests, almost entirely on Mars. We watched and enjoyed the Disney John Carter film recently and I was slightly worried about how dated the original book might seem compared to the film. Maybe it's just becuase I'm used to reading older fiction but considering it was first published in 1912 the story didn't seem that dated to me. It's a swashbuckling tale with lots of fights, concerns about honour and (of course) the rescue of a beautiful princess. I enjoyed it and I've downloaded the sequel, The Gods of Mars (because, yes, it's another series).

Book #149 Momo by Michael Ende - 4 stars
Source: Bookmooch
Original publication date: 1973

Michael Ende's Neverending Story was one of my absolute favourite books as a child but I had no idea that Michael Ende had written any other books until I saw Kerry (avatiakh) mention this one on her thread a couple of years ago.

Momo is another children's book, similar in style to The Neverending Story - it's broadly fantasy but could also be viewed as a fable. Momo also reminded me of The Phantom Tolbooth by Norman Juster which was another favourite as a child.

Momo is a young girl who lives in the ruins of an amphitheatre outside an unnamed city. She has no parents and no desire to be given a home in the local foster home so the local townspeople help her out with small gifts of food and clothes. In time, they come to depend on her themselves because Momo has an extraordinary ability to listen to people and soon both adults and children are coming to Momo with their problems.

However, one day things in the city start to change. Momo's friends start to realise how little time they have in life and how poorly they've been using their time - wasting it some would say. This seems to be linked to the arrival in the city of a group of grey men who have started to encourage its citizens to save time in their banks. Soon, no-one in the city has the time to visit Momo because they have all become so obsessed with saving time and it seems the grey men may have an ulterior motive in collecting the time saved. Momo is the one person left who may be able to save her friends from the grey men.

At one level this could be read simply as a children's fantasy story but it can also be read as a commentary on contemporary attitudes towards time, consumerism and efficiency.

Oct 15, 2012, 2:42pm Top

Great review of Momo. I will look for it.

Oct 15, 2012, 2:52pm Top

#194 They have a shop near Great Ormond Street in London which sells their books - Oh I didn't realise that's where it was - I must have been about 5 minutes away twice over the last year - I could have gone in and bought loads of books!

Oct 15, 2012, 3:26pm Top

Persephone is on Lambs Conduit Street, about 20 minutes walk from Kings Cross, and round the corner from the famous children's hospital. There is also an interesting discount bookshop, which isn't knockdown cheap, but sells lots of books mostly of a certain literary quality for around £4-£5, I also like the big selection of children's picture books so I can take something home to the boys in addition to my own loot.... there's also a slightly odd Romanian orphan charity shop with a few books round the corner, which I usually had a look in if I got there before 5 (I used to work about 15 minutes' walk from the shop).

Oct 15, 2012, 3:27pm Top

(because, yes, it's another series)

Of course it is. :)

Oct 15, 2012, 4:21pm Top

I had exactly the same concern and reaction to A Princess of Mars, Heather. I had loved the Edgar Rice Burroughs books as a kid. I recently re-read A Princess of Mars, and, like you, I was afraid it would be dated. Instead, it read just fine, and was again a fun, swashbuckling story. They had a collective Kindle deal on 5 or so that came after it, and I snapped them up.

Oct 15, 2012, 4:46pm Top

I'm all for ignoring housework in favour of reading, especially while you are on holiday. So glad that you enjoyed Momo. I've still got The Night of Wishes to read but his other books don't seem to be available anymore in English.
It's good to know that these classics are still good reads, I should add Princess of Mars to my tbr pile but I have so many unread scfi and fantasy books still waiting. I've just read The Flint Heart which has been 'revived' by Katherine Paterson & her husband. It is a great magical children's story that was originally written in 1910 by Eden Phillpotts and brought to her notice by the late Margaret Mahy who loved it as a child. I've read the 'revived' edition by Paterson as I wanted to review it for a Christmas booklist, but am now thinking of reading the original text as I saw in a couple of reviews that it's quite accessible. I've downloaded a free copy of the text so hopefully I'll get to read a bit of it before I review the Paterson version.

I'm so ready for a trip to London, not only to visit all these great bookshops but also see my daughter who lives there these past few years. Not on the agenda as yet...sigh

Oct 15, 2012, 5:11pm Top

Momo sounds like a good one...

And now I know where Dejah_Thoris's name comes from!

Oct 15, 2012, 5:22pm Top

Momo sounds like a really original and great story, I will look out for it too. Lucky for me the last BB I got hit with on your thread isnt held at our library, so I escaped this time, that is until it pops up somewhere else for me! (they seem to do that)

Housework is always put aside for reading in my house. You can do housework til you are blue in the face and it takes approximately 46 seconds for it all to be undone by two pre-schoolers! When it becomes a need more than a thought, then I do it, and until then....Im about to hit the couch now for some me and book time. :) (it could be my last sit down til the kids bed time so Im making the most of it!)

Edited: Oct 15, 2012, 5:26pm Top

Many thanks for Keating's 100 best, Heather! I recognize most of the names at least....
(Oh! And I wish that I were clever enough to have thought of myself as a troll slipping along your thread, but I was fishing from the rear of a slow-moving boat = trolling, maybe from ME 'to ramble' : American Heritage Dictionary.)

Oct 18, 2012, 8:54am Top

#196 Thanks Lucy - I hope you enjoy it.

#197 & 198 Hopefully Luci's directions are a bit clearer than my vague ones. The discount bookshop she mentions (called The Lamb I think) is also worth a visit. I have a bit of a horror of discount bookshops in general but this one was very nice.

#199 Hi Liz! :-)

#200 Sounds good Joe. I think a lot of them are free from Project Gutenberg as ebooks but I expect I will have to pay for the later ones. I'd never read anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs before although I'm sure I would have enjoyed them when I was younger. At some point I expect I'll get sucked into his Tarzan series too (25 books!) :-)

#201 Thanks for the tip about Flint Heart Kerry - that sounds lovely and I'll look our for a copy at the library. I've also managed to download a pdf copy of the 1910 original which so far looks ok on my kindle. It's a shame NZ and the UK are so far apart - I hope you can come over soon (and I hope one day I can save up to come to NZ too).

#202 "And now I know where Dejah_Thoris's name comes from!" Yes, there are one or two people in the group whose names I've only recently understood thanks to reading some classic sci-fi book!

#203 " You can do housework til you are blue in the face and it takes approximately 46 seconds for it all to be undone by two pre-schoolers!" And although it lasts slightly longer without pre-schoolers it often doesn't seem worth the effort :-)

#204 Peggy, I'd never heard that definition of trolling before so thank you :-)

Edited: Oct 18, 2012, 9:38am Top

There's also a good shop on Euston Road, opposite the British Library, where most things are £2, and they have interesting non-fiction as well as novels.

Housework became a need here a long time ago, and has stayed that way, to my mum's despair.

Oct 18, 2012, 9:55am Top

Hi Heather,
I've been away for so long that i'm just getting caught up on people's threads. I'm glad to know you're enjoying the Mars books. And thanks for posting that image from the first one - it's been a while since I've seen it. I wouldn't be overly concerned with being a completist on this series. The first three are really the best and from there on the pleasures decline with each successive book.

Oct 18, 2012, 1:42pm Top

#206 Thanks for adding another bookshop to my list Luci :-) I find with housework that once things get to a certain point they don't seem to get any worse.

#207 Hi Stephen - welcome back :-) I'll bear what you said in mind about the Mars books but I'll probably try at least the first three based on what you've said (although being a completist at hard it will be hard to stop there...)

Oct 18, 2012, 1:53pm Top

Just wanted to add my agreement about the discount bookshop over the road (I think) from the Persephone shop - both shops contributed greatly to my book haul when I was in London last year! (Am now scurrying away to figure out which of the books from that lovely trip have been read...)

Oct 20, 2012, 1:29pm Top

#209 Well I've now read all the books I got from my last visit to the Persephone bookshop but I definitely haven't read all the books from Lamb's (have I read any? oh well)

In the end we didn't manage to get into London this week - hubby had a cold which meant he didn't manage to get through all the work he needed to do this week but hopefully we'll manage to go for a bookshop crawl some point soon...

Some book reviews:

Book #150 Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935 - 2005 by Phil Baines - 3.5 stars
Source: Library book
Original publication date: 2005

I reserved this book from the library after seeing it mentioned in a Guardian article - I was hoping for something with lots of pictures of the lovely old-fashioned Penguin covers and a little bit of explanation about how or why they designed the books. Phil Baines obviously knows a great deal about book design and typography but it was sometimes a little bit too technical and dry for me to really enjoy the text - I think I wanted a Penguin Covers for Dummies book. Still, it was interesting to learn more about the Penguin brand and there were lots of nice pictures.. There's also another book by the same author on Puffin book covers which I'll probably also get out of the library at some point.

Book #151 My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin - 3.7 stars
Source: Bookmooch
Original publication date: 1901
Category: Virago Modern Classics

Miles Franklin's autobiographical tale of a young girl coming to terms with the restrictions of her life on a remote Australian farm is quite a feat considering it was written when the author was just 16. Franklin's story is a raw and emotional one as she chafes against the restrictions of her life and she manages to vividly convey a sense of life in rural Australia in the 1890s.

Book #152 The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - 3.9 stars
Source: Charity bookshop
Original publication date: 2006

I really enjoyed this contemporary gothic tale. I think, in part, it's a homage to the classic 19th century gothic novels like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights although I don't think you need to have read those books to enjoy this one. There are twin sisters, old antiquarian bookshops, family secrets, crumbling old houses, reclusive authors, a good dose of hereditary madness and some chilling winter weather - it's the perfect book to curl up with inside when it's dark and grey outside.

Oct 21, 2012, 11:08am Top

Jealous of all the cheap bookstores that you ladies keep unearthing - oodles of titles for 2 quid - I would have a hernia carrying them all away.
I am interested in reading My Brilliant Career which is now available in a special edition version over here and has of course, made the shelves. Have a lovely Sunday.

Oct 21, 2012, 1:10pm Top

Ooh, I am even more intrigued about Persephone books now! I have a trip to London scheduled for next month, so I shall have to see if I can squeeze in a visit. If not, the website looks great too!
I started Momo a long time ago when I was still at school, but abandoned it as I found it too weird for my taste at the time. Looks like I might have to give it another go....

Oct 21, 2012, 3:02pm Top

#210 I read My Brilliant Career years and years ago and remember really enjoying about it. The Thirteenth Tale was one that I couldn't quite my mind up about,

Oct 21, 2012, 7:49pm Top

The Thirteenth Tale was in one of the boxes of books that my friend gave me, but I hadn't put it in my catalogue here. Now I have, and someday, I bet I'll read it - maybe in November if it gets cold here!

Oct 22, 2012, 6:00pm Top

Hi Heather, between you and Joe, I got very intrigued by A Princess of Mars and went to check the Kindle prices. When I found the first three books in the series for 99 cents - how could I resist!

I read The Thirteenth Tale last year and loved it. It is definitely the perfect book to curl up with on a chilly autumn evening.

Oct 22, 2012, 6:02pm Top

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed The Thirteenth Tale. I started it without any clue what it was about and was quickly drawn in!

Oct 22, 2012, 7:10pm Top

Hi Heather! I remember enjoying My Brilliant Career years ago, one of the VMCs I read before I started consciously collecting them. I've just acquired My Career Goes Bung this summer, it will be interesting to see how she follows up the first book (I'm not sure how much later it was written).

I've just finished reading Black Water Rising which is for my real life book group - I see you acquired a copy recently. When someone suggested it in the group, I responded enthusiastically because I remembered it getting good reviews on here - but when I went to look it up I saw that the reviews were a bit mixed, but Janet's was a very enthusiastic one so I must have been remembering her comments in particular. Anyway, I found it very good- a good, tense thriller kind of atmosphere and also very interesting portrayal of 1980s Texas during the oil boom and the aftermath of 1970s civil rights movement, as well as more personal themes about belonging and alienation, family and solitude. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it when you get to it.

Oct 22, 2012, 8:05pm Top

HI Heather...It's been way too long since I visited here. As always, I love and appreciate the lists. I know this takes a lot of time and energy to post.

All the best!

Oct 22, 2012, 10:41pm Top

The Thirteenth Tale: yet another book on my tbr which I'll look forward to all the more now I know how much you enjoyed it. I still think I'll try to get to Wuthering Heights first. Just because.

Edited: Oct 23, 2012, 10:27am Top

you've tempted me with A Princess of Mars - downloaded from Project Gutenberg, just need to find the time to read it!

Oct 23, 2012, 12:03pm Top

I wasn't hugely wowed by The Thirteenth Tale but I think I read it right after reading something really exceptional, which is always a bit unfair.....

Oct 23, 2012, 2:47pm Top

Setterfield's next novel is finally coming out next year, I've always wondered what she'd write after the runaway success of The Thirteenth Tale.
I was meaning to read My Brilliant Career last month but only managed a few pages, will have to get back to it. I'm keen to watch the movie as well as it stars a young and dashing Sam Neill circa 1979.

Edited: Oct 23, 2012, 3:36pm Top

#211 "Jealous of all the cheap bookstores that you ladies keep unearthing" Sorry Paul :-( I hope you enjoy My Brilliant Career.

#212 Hannah, if you're going to London then the Persephone shop is definitely worth a visit. Momo did have a slightly surreal feel - thinking about it I think The Neverending Story probably has too but I never noticed that as a child.

#213 Rhian, I think I was in exactly the right mood for The Thirteenth Tale when I read it. I didn't think Diane Setterfield did anything I didn't expect with the story but I enjoyed it.

#214 Peggy, we've had very misty weather here over the last few days and it's really put me in the mood for reading some more gothic-y type books.

#215 Hope you enjoy A Princess of Mars Judy!

#216 Reading The Thirteenth Tale reminded me how much I enjoy curling up with a gothic-y novel. I'm going to check out some of the other books people recommended on the work page.

#217 I found a copy of My Career Goes Bung recently too Genny which was one of the things that prompted me to read My Brilliant Career. I think My Career Goes Bung was written shortly after her first book but not published for another 40 years or so.

I also bought Black Water Rising when it was on offer thanks to Janet's review so I'm glad to hear you also enjoyed it. I think I'm probably going to save it for Orange January (although presumably we'll have to call it 'The Woman's Prize for Fiction January'). Attica Locke's just published a new book, The Cutting Season, for which I've also seen good reviews for.

#218 Hi Linda - I appreciate you stopping by. The lists aren't actually too bad to set up after the first one because I can just copy and paste them :-)

#219 Ilana, I hope you enjoy both Wuthering Heights and The Thirteenth Tale. I haven't read Wuthering Heights for ages - it's very intense.

#220 I hope you enjoy it Jo! The film's worth watching too.

#221 "I think I read it right after reading something really exceptional, which is always a bit unfair....." I know what you mean Lucy. I think I was in the right mood for it and whilst I think there are better modern takes on the gothic novel, I did enjoy it.

#222 Thanks for the tip about Setterfield's new book Kerry. I think there must be so much pressure after your first novel's done so well. I hadn't realised there was a film of My Brilliant Career so I'll look out for it.

Oct 25, 2012, 6:51pm Top

Hi Heather - My Brilliant Career sounds great. Your comments remind of The Road to Coorain, which I loved. I don't think I liked The Thirteenth Tale as much as you did -- but as you said, sometimes it depends on one's mood. You've done tons of great reading this year.

Oct 27, 2012, 9:26am Top

#224 Hi Beth. Thanks for the recommendation of The Road to Coorain - I've added it to my library list.

Book #153 Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor - 4.5 stars
Source: Waterstones.com
Original publication date: 1971
Category: The other Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor's best book? Well, it's a bit early for me to say as I still haven't read five of her novels or ventured into her short story collections but Mrs Palfrey would, I think, top the list of the books I've read so far. After the death of her husband, Mrs Palfrey decides to move into the Claremont hotel for the remainder of her retirement. It's more genteel than a nursing home, easier to manage than living on her own and preferable to having to move in with a daughter with whom she has little in common. The Claremont has other long term, elderly residents thanks to its discounted rates and together they try to pass the time with endless card games, examinations of the dinner menu, library books, knitting and longed for visits from relatives. It's the age old game of keeping up appearances: a game that Mrs Palfrey is so determined to join in with that she asks the nice young writer, Ludo, who helped her when she fell in the street one day to pretend to be her grandson to the other residents.

Exquisitely written, insightful and both funny and heartbreaking by turns, Taylor's penultimate novel is a masterful look at the subjects of ageing and loneliness.

"It was hard work being old. It was like being a baby in reverse. Every day for an infant means some new little thing learned; every day for the old means some little thing lost. Names slip away, dates mean nothing, sequences become muddled, and faces blurred. Both infancy and age are tiring times."

Book #154 Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism by Natasha Walter - 4.5 stars
Source: Bookmooch
Original publication date: 2010

As other reviewers have commented, I found this both disturbing and encouraging. Disturbing because of the issues Walter raises and encouraging because I now know I'm not the only person bothered by them. Walter's book is divided into two parts: The New Sexism and The New Determinism. The first part, The New Sexism, argues that we live in a hypersexual culture and that rather than this being evidence that equality between women and men has now been achieved, the objectification of women and increasingly of young girls as sex objects is a trend that ultimately leads to a reduction in the choices women can make about their lives, rather than liberating them. The second part, The New Determinism, examines the trend of scientists and the media arguing that women and men have fundamental differences in their behaviour and skills as a result of differences in biology or genetic makeup (e.g. women are good at talking and men are good at maths) and argues that the evidence to support this proposition is not as conclusive as some scientists and the media imply. Walter considers scientific studies that proponents of biological determinism have ignored and also argues that it's unclear from the existing studies whether these differences are, in fact, the result of biology or instead a result of cultural conditioning. If a study of women and men does show a difference then how much of that difference is a result of a lifetime of social conditioning of men being encouraged not to open up about their emotions and women being encouraged into caring roles?

My only (minor) criticism of this book was that I felt Walter focused on the impact of these trends on women almost to the exclusion of the impact on men. Perhaps this was for marketing reasons (after all, how many men will realistically read a book on feminism?) but to me, it should be just as insulting for a man to be told the biology of his brain means he's less likely to be good at talking/caring as it is for a woman to be told the biology of her brain means she's less likely to be good at maths. I understand that historically society has tended to value what we think of as traditional male qualities more than traditional female qualities but if you're arguing that not only should this not be the case but that what we think of as male and female qualities may not be correct then why only address this to one sex?

Oct 27, 2012, 10:24am Top

Nice review of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, Heather. I loved that book! For the reasons you give. Exquisitely written, insightful, and the rest. Clever, and it seemed so true. Not a false step, for me.

Oct 27, 2012, 10:57am Top

I haven't read your review of Mrs Palfrey properly, as I hope to read it myself soon. But I glanced at the TV while having a late lunch, and guess what film is on BBC?!

Oct 27, 2012, 11:39am Top

Hi Heather - Mrs. Palfrey sounds like a winner. I have got to get to Taylor soon. The Walter book sounds thought provoking. As usual, this thread is very dangerous; I always end by adding books to my wishlist.

Oct 27, 2012, 11:56am Top

Lovely review of *Mrs Palfrey*, Heather, and I loved it too. A View of the Harbour still heads my list of Taylors read, but *MP* may come in second.

Oct 27, 2012, 11:57am Top

Nice review of Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont - added it to my WL. I have The Thirteenth Tale and Princess of Mars both in my TBR, so I was happy to see that you liked both of them.

Always so much to digest over here, Heather - love reading your insightful reviews and comments and learning something along the way. So thanks for that. Hope you are enjoying a lovely weekend!

Oct 27, 2012, 5:13pm Top

>229 LizzieD:: I agree with you on those being two great Taylor books!

Oct 27, 2012, 6:17pm Top

I loved your review of Mrs. Palfrey as well, Heather. Have been wanting to get me another Elizabeth Taylor and I think this is the one I'm going to read next. (About time as i've had it on the GFW for two and a half years.)

Oct 27, 2012, 7:33pm Top

Heather, I've only read 3 ET books so far, and have 4 more on the tbr, but unfortunately Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont is still only on the wishlist... I remember being really taken with Joe's review of it and yours makes me want to run out and get it NOW. But I will control myself. I see you've listed The Soul of Kindness on the TIOLI wiki and may perhaps join you, though of course I'm grossly overbooked again.

Living Dolls sounds very interesting. I don't know if I was brainwashed by the media and society, but it's always made sense to me that men and women should be different based on their original biological purposes. That being said we are not merely our biology, besides which all these millennia of evolution have no doubt made a huge difference, but the reptilian brain and whatever few layers come after that never change... That being said, being the daughter of a woman who was at one point a rabid feminist, I've had a love-hate relationship with the feminist movement and have occasionally switched camps back and forth. But I agree that it's also bothered me too that somehow it deals with women's issues exclusively. But then, I guess that's what feminism is... what you (and I) are probably interested in is another ism—humanism. :-)

Edited: Oct 27, 2012, 8:33pm Top

I have Mrs. Palfrey in my line-up, can't wait....

Living Dolls looks very good - I particularly like your points in the 2nd paragraph. Inclusion means ..... full inclusion if everyone, male and female..... all the time. When will people get to understand that there are no clear cut categories that everything is on a sliding scale????? And changeable - I am not the same person I was at twenty or forty.

Oct 27, 2012, 9:17pm Top

Personally I've always considered "feminism" and "humanism" to be pretty much the same thing.

Heather, the thread is up for Barchester Towers - just because I did have the time to do it - but please don't feel rushed.

Oct 27, 2012, 10:48pm Top

I'm glad someone finally cleared it up for me a while back when I kept wondering if this Ms. Taylor was the same crazy Ms. Taylor I see on TV. Glad to see they were two different people because somehow the sheer thought of them being the same person wouldn't compute in my head. :) I have yet to read any of her books, but your review definitely puts another one of her titles on my radar!

Oct 27, 2012, 10:50pm Top

Very interesting and thoughtful comment on Living Dolls - I'm glad to see you rated it so highly though, and would encourage anyone else reading this to read this book.

Oct 28, 2012, 6:17am Top

Just passing by to wish you a lovely weekend Heather :)

Oct 30, 2012, 7:15am Top

Thanks for the positive comments about my Mrs Palfrey review Joe, Beth, Peggy, Mamie, Charlotte and Valerie.

#227 Genny, did you watch the film? I've heard it's not particularly true to the book. From what I've heard it turns the story into a heartwarming one with a comfortable ending rather than the more realistic ending Taylor gives it which is one of the things I like about her writing. That doesn't make it a bad film in itself of course but I don't think it's a good film to watch to get an idea of what the book's like.

#229 & 231 Laura & Peggy, I think A View of the Harbour might be my second favourite of her books so far followed by At Mrs Lippincote's and Angel but it's a close thing.

#233 "grossly overbooked again" I know that feeling!

Ilana, I think it's difficult (if not impossible) to come to a subject like feminism (or humanism :-) ) unbiased. What I personally don't like about the biological determinism theory is the way it seems to be reported in the media so that it ends up reading more like 'all women are more talkative than men' rather than 'some women are sometimes more talkative than some men'. I think it's something I'm perhaps oversensitive about as I'm not interested in or good at a lot of the things popular culture sometimes associates with being a woman and more interested in some of the things that are traditionally associated with being a man.

#234 Lucy, one of the things I found particularly interesting in the book was Walter's report on studies of talkativeness. There have been some studies which show that women, on average, are more talkative than men but the studies also show that the difference in talkativeness when comparing women to women or men to men is greater than the difference in talkativeness when comparing men to women. I wish we (we, society - not directed at anyone in particular) could stop trying to put 'all women' or 'all men' in nicely labelled boxes and instead consider each person as a unique and wonderful individual.

*Gets off soapbox rather sheepishly*

#235 Yay for BT! I was surprised by a two hour delay on the train home last night so I'm going to pass on the surprise to you because I finished one book and started BT earlier than I intended. I'm really enjoying it so far.

#237 Agreed with your last point Luci, it was a very thought provoking book.

#238 Thank you Bianca :-)

I've been catching up on the news about Hurricane(?) Sandy overnight - hope everyone on the East Coast is safe.

Oct 30, 2012, 9:53am Top

#239 No I didn't watch it - I was just flipping through channels and came across a film in progress, and wondered what it was, and was surprised at the coincidence when I'd just seen that you'd reviewed the book. I would generally not watch a film if I haven't yet read the book but am expecting to do so reasonably soon.

I like your 'soapbox' comments - I agree about the unhelpfulness of boxing all women and all men as distinct and opposing types, rather than allowing people to be individuals, and recognising that we all have a varying degree of so called 'feminine' and 'masculine' traits or characteristics. I would like to read the book - it's important to keep thinking and talking about these issues.

Oct 30, 2012, 10:01am Top

"I wish we (we, society - not directed at anyone in particular) could stop trying to put 'all women' or 'all men' in nicely labelled boxes and instead consider each person as a unique and wonderful individual. "

Such a great point you make there, Heather, and one I wholeheartedly agree with.

Oct 30, 2012, 10:08am Top

Amen. 'nuff said.

Oct 30, 2012, 4:18pm Top

Hi Heather! Wonderful, thoughtful reviews, as usual. I will put Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont at the top of my must-read, Elizabeth Taylor novels list. I really enjoyed A View of the Harbour, but haven't been quite sure what to read yet.

Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism sounds intriguing as well. I wonder when she says "the New Sexism" started. Perhaps it's my age and where I was at the time (at a large university, taking several women's studies courses, listening to my Tori Amos tapes, etc.), but I always think of the early 90's as a brief, promising period, where everything seemed to be looking up for women. There was a lot of social consciousness in popular culture, etc. It was cool to care about issues. And then I remember in the late nineties, I was sitting on the couch one day and a Limp Bizkit video came on and I thought, "Oh, my. What is happening?" I'm totally simplifying (and perhaps not making any sense) and I'm not trying to blame the downfall of civilization on Limp Bizkit, but it's interesting what happened and I'm not sure why. Perhaps I should read this book.

Oct 30, 2012, 5:20pm Top

#240 I hope you enjoy Mrs Palfrey when you get to it Genny. I say when you get to it because I sometimes feel like I have certain books that I'm forever intending to read 'soon' and suddenly, whoosh, six months have gone by and I haven't read any of them. One of the books in that category for me at the moment is Union Street by Pat Barker which I feel like I've intended to read for the last 3/4 TIOLI challenges. I've spotted another challenge I could fit it in for November so perhaps this will finally be the month :-)

And thank you for the positive comments about my soapbox moment Genny, Mamie and Peggy. I often get nervous about expressing opinions about such potentially sensitive issues in case I offend someone. It's a subject I'd like to read more about including some books written from a different point of view but it doesn't feel like a priority compared to lots of the other books I'd like to read so it probably won't happen that soon.

#243 Thanks Kerri :-) I hope you also enjoy Mrs Palfrey.

I didn't think Living Dolls was particularly clear about when the 'New Sexism' started. From reading some of the reviews on amazon and the Virago website it seems that Natasha Walter had an earlier book called The New Feminism published in 1998 which I think argued that there'd been a sea change in feminism and that women didn't need to get so worked up about topless modelling and pole dancing and that it could be empowering for women so perhaps her 'new sexism' starts from the end of the 90s? I think you're absolutely right - as you say in the 90s there was a lot of optimism and a belief that the battle had been won but in some ways today it's starting to feel like things might be slipping backwards. I recommend the book :-)

And a bit of a plug: if you look on the work page for Living Dolls there are some far more detailed reviews by our own Dee and Luci who were the reason I read the book as I don't think I would even have looked at it otherwise.

Oct 30, 2012, 5:47pm Top

Speaking as a woman who seems to have spent her entire life reacting to statements about how "all women" do / think / want / enjoy this, that or the other with, "Well, I don't", I must say I find the blanket judgements more than a little exasperating.

Sadly, not having the figure for it, I've never had the empowering experience of pole-dancing. Perhaps that's what's wrong with me?

Edited: Nov 2, 2012, 12:31pm Top

"Sadly, not having the figure for it, I've never had the empowering experience of pole-dancing. Perhaps that's what's wrong with me?" Me neither, perhaps you're right?!

In a determined effort not to be perpetually 4/5 reviews behind I'm going to try and get through the rest of my October reads before the weekend (never mind that it's now November).

A couple of library books that were a little disappointing for reasons I'm still not entirely clear on:

Book #155 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - 3.3 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date: 2012

Teenagers dying of cancer fall in love. Everyone else loved this: I found the first 2/3 of the book quite annoying and it was only saved by a more genuinely moving final third. I don't know why I didn't enjoy it more.

Book #156 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman - 3 stars
Source: Library
Original publication date: 2012

I really enjoyed Burkeman's first book, HELP!: How to Become Slightly Happier and Get a Bit More Done, which was a humourous look at self-help techniques and often genuinely helpful in introducing me to non-nutty ideas that wouldn't change my life in seven easy steps but might help me to make small steps forward in some areas. In The Antidote Burkeman picks several counter-culture (Western culture anyway) ideologies or techniques that either claim to or have been shown to increase happiness and examines/test each one in more detail. I can believe that each technique would help increase happiness/contentment/well-being if you followed them properly but realistically none of them are techniques/lifestyles that I would fully embrace and some of them contradict each other (in my not very well-informed opinion anyway). Burkeman addresses this at the end by saying something vague about picking bits from each technique but by that point I'd lost interest. So, not a bad book, but not what I was hoping for.

Nov 1, 2012, 4:59pm Top

Book #157 Various short stories by Elizabeth Gaskell

Perhaps a bit of a cheat but thanks to Luci's TIOLI challenge last month I read a slew of short stories and novellas by Mrs Gaskell and I've decided there were enough of them to count as one book.

First, I read the stories in my Wordsworth Classics edition of Cranford and Other Stories (I read and loved Cranford itself a couple of years ago).

Mr Harrison's Confessions (1851) - a sort of proto-Cranford, this tells of the misadventures of a young doctor who moves to a new town to start practising. Like Cranford, the town in this book is in 'the possession of the Amazons' and thanks to various misunderstandings and gossip the poor young doctor ends up engaged to several women at once. Quite a good comic tale that perhaps doesn't have the depth of Cranford. The BBC incorporated this story into their adaptation of Cranford (which is very, very good).

The Doom of the Griffiths (1858) - Probably an early tale of Gaskell's that was published later this short tale is a gothic story steeped in Welsh history and a family curse.

Lois the Witch (1859) - A historical novella about a young English girl who travels to Salem, Massachusetts in 1691 to live with her uncle after the sudden death of both her parents. The story itself wasn't particularly surprising but I thought Gaskell did a really good job of capturing the oppressive atmosphere of a small town turned in on itself by fear. This was one of my favourites.

Curious, If True (1860) - I had to read this twice: the first time it completely baffled me and I only started to understand what was going on once I'd read through the explanatory introduction included in my edition. It's a short fantastical tale about a traveller lost on a walk in France who stumbles upon a secluded castle and takes shelter for the night. He's introduced to a lot of guests and for some reason they all mistake him for someone else. After reading the introduction I realised Gaskell was referencing a lot of different fairytales here but the names used were all French and I completely failed to spot any of the references on my first read through.

Six Weeks at Heppenheim (1862) - A story about a young man who travels to Heppenheim in Germany where he is taken ill and nursed back to health by the German family who run the inn. Mainly a story of observation of the local customs and way of life with a bit of romance.

Cousin Phillis (1863) - The introduction in my edition links this novella very strongly with Six Weeks at Heppenheim and I can see a lot of similarities. Cousin Phillis was again a story about rural life and love. I didn't really feel like I understood the point of either this story or Heppenheim and I'm now wondering if I'm just not very interested in rural stories? They both reminded me of how I felt about Thomas Hardy - too much time spent in wonder over farming life and not enough people (sorry).

Then I read some more stories from Curious, If True: Strange Tales, which contained some overlapping stories with the collection above (I didn't reread those) and some new stories which were:

The Old Nurse's Story (1852) - A short spooky tale about a haunted house.

The Poor Clare (1856) - Another spooky tale about a family curse, set in the 1740s. This was another story I particularly enjoyed and I think a gothic-y story about a Catholic family that wasn't anti-Catholic!

The Grey Woman (1861) - Gaskell's take on the traditional gothic tale (set overseas, spooky old houses where there are rooms you can't enter, bandits etc.). A lot of fun.

Edited: Nov 1, 2012, 5:20pm Top

In a determined effort not to be perpetually 4/5 reviews behind...

Oh, boy, do I know that feeling! Though actually at the moment I'm caught up*, and feeling very smug about it.

(*Okay, I'm two blog posts behind. But I'm caught up here.)

Nice comments on the Gaskells!

Nov 1, 2012, 7:45pm Top

In reference to The Fault in our Stars, it's nice to find differing reviews on a book that is hot and everyone else seems to love. Not everyone can like the same books so having varying opinions keeps things interesting! :)

Nov 1, 2012, 9:58pm Top

I'm a bit worried about The Fault in our Stars. I have it on my tbr, but I have this nagging impression I'll end up feeling like you about it. Only one way to find out of course.

I'm am pleading the fifth on the pole dancing issue.

I saw a while back there was a book of Gaskell's Gothic Tales which is on my wishlist, so I'm guessing some of the stories you read might be in it?

Nov 2, 2012, 11:31am Top


Regarding The Fault In Our Stars, I appreciate your comments. The beauty of this group is that no one stands on a soap box disagreeing when we don't have the same thoughts/feelings about a book.

I've read books that others raved about, and I felt safe in reviews that didn't match the glowing comments of others.

Happy Friday!

Nov 2, 2012, 11:33am Top

Stopping in to wish you a lovely weekend. Hope it's full of fun!

Nov 4, 2012, 1:44pm Top

#248 "at the moment I'm caught up*, and feeling very smug about it." Rightly so!

#249 & 251 Thanks Valerie and Linda for being patient with me for dissing everyone's favourite book. Sometimes I have this problem with library reservations of new titles. There can be a long wait before I get to the number one spot on the list and then I have to read them right away so the next person on the list can read it and sometimes, I'm just not in the mood and I think that may have been the case with this one.

#250 "I'm pleading the fifth on the pole dancing issue." No comment :-)

Gothic Tales (Penguin Classics?) includes the following stories I reviewed above: Lois the Witch, The Old Nurse's Story, The Poor Clare, The Doom of the Griffiths, Curious, If True and The Grey Woman as well as a few I haven't read: Disappearances, The Crooked Branch and The Squire's Story.

One of the things I find frustrating about trying to read the shorter/less well-known works of 19th century authors is that there doesn't seem to be a single collection or set of works that includes all of these shorter works without considerably overlap. Oh well, first world problem.

#252 Thanks Mamie. Definitely getting colder and darker here but then that's a good excuse to curl up in snuggly clothes on the sofa with a book :-)

Closing out October book comments before I start a new thread:

Book #158 The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts - 3.3 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date: 1993

I spent the first two thirds of this book trying to decide whether I liked it or not and even now I've finished it I think there are still some question marks in my mind but I think I liked it enough to try the second book.

Janny Wurts' writing style is quite unusual and very 'word rich'. There was a discussion of this book in the Green Dragon group last month which I lurked on and Janny, being herself an active LT member, wrote quite a long and detailed post about her reasons for writing in this style which was one of the factors in me deciding to join in with the read (on the grounds that an author who has put so much thought into her work deserves a try). I'm still not sure how I personally feel about her style but I can understand why some people dislike it and I think it took me quite a long time to get accustomed to it. I also think that Wurts has included so much detail about the world and the story that this is very much a book that would benefit from rereading. I did notice I was a lot more involved with the story towards the end and feel interested in finding out what happens to the characters in the next instalment. Quite a few LTers whose opinions I respect think very highly of this story which is probably another factor in my decision to keep going.

Book #159 Love, Sex, Death and Words: Surprising Tales From a Year in Literature by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender - 3 stars
Source: Amazon kindle
Original publication date:2010

I'm a big fan of John Sutherland's essay collections about puzzle in famous works of fiction (Is Heathcliff a Murderer? etc.) so I snapped this newer collection up when it was a kindle deal. I was disappointed with this book although I think that was partly because I wanted this to be a different type of book. This is a collection of very short essays/notes of fascinating facts about anything to do with literature - mainly English and American, one for each day of the year. Part of the problem was that this covered a lot of authors I wasn't interested in (some I've never heard of before). I also can't help wondering how many more interesting facts they had to leave out in order to get a fact that had some connection to the day in question. I would have preferred the essays to be sorted by type of literature and time period rather than by day of the year. So, not bad for £1 but not really recommended.

Nov 4, 2012, 1:44pm Top

Girding loins for the great copy and past exercise...

Nov 4, 2012, 2:00pm Top

I read and enjoyed Wurts' Cycle of Fire trilogy and her Empire trilogy with Feist, but could not get into The Curse of the Mistwraith, probably in large part because I really do not enjoy bloody tales of hate and revenge. And I've read nothing newer of hers as a result, although I've considered some of her stand-alones, especially To Ride Hell's Chasm.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

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